Fur vs Skin

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9.

You couldn’t kill me if you tried for a thousand years.❞


Frigid air blows across my bare face as I exhale a deep breath. I stand outside with the feel of the fresh breeze filling my lungs from the surrounding trees and atmosphere, the crisp smell of the earth’s natural scent and the morning dew’s moisture wetting the tree leaves that gives off a tangy smell.

This was one of the moments I let myself drown in the thought of not having a care in the world.

After telling my tale to Arsen, I felt a little lighter, knowing something like that wasn’t tormenting my head as it repeated a steady course. I take a few extra seconds to enjoy myself, being someone who’s a little less anxious about what might happen next; gently pulled from my thoughts, the sound of footsteps in the snow aware me of another presence.

I turn, my eyes clashing with soft ones as they look down at my figure. Arsen walks up beside me, dressed in a plain black shirt and shorts yet no shoes covered his feet as each step sunk them deeper into the snow, from his relaxed face I could tell it didn’t bother him: even when I asked, the small growing feeling of worry hanging at the strings of my heart that he might get frost bites.

His eyes flicker into the depths of the woods, the morning light setting a path, and back to me in question.

I nod, taking a deep breath, “Yeah, I’m ready.”

Arsen takes the lead, his wide steps and feet softening the snow in front of us, creating a sort of path for me as I follow behind him. The walk was quiet and peaceful, the presence of each other, settling a calmness in our bones. Soon, the peaceful moment was broken when the sound of a branch snapping overhead echoed, there was a short second to act before I was unfortunately doused in bone-chilling snow.

I froze mid-step, my hands splayed out at my side with ice-cold water dripping down the length of my nose. I hadn’t known my eyes were shut until I opened them and came face to face with Arsen’s highly amused one. A cold shiver ran down my spine as a trickle of water trailed its path down my back, gritting my teeth, I shake my head and feel the snowfall in clumps.

“You think this is funny, huh?” I mutter, squeezing my hand when a particularly large glop of ice found its way into my shirt.

He shakes his head yet there was still the lingering amusement in his eyes that brighten them like the rays from the sun. My eyes slant towards him.

“I’ll give you something to laugh about. . .”

I bend down and collect snow within my hands, the chilling coldness attacking the nerves in my palms and press the soft matter together until it hardened into a ball. A smirk settles itself across my face as I look up, for sure a glint of mischief flickering about in my own eyes. Arsen’s gaze darts from the snowball to my face then back to my face again before he shakes his head.

“Oh no no no,” I laugh, standing to my full height that reached no bigger than his, “You wanted to laugh at me.”

The wind flies through the trees and circles around us, touching the dampness on my head that the snow had leftover with cold fingers while awakening the cells in my scalp. One of Arden’s foot lifted and moved back, I watched his movements with keen eyes, watching all parts of his body. With a smile, I raise and pull my arm back.

Before he could react, the ball was hurtling through the air like a speeding bullet— both of our eyes following the white of its matter— as it soon plummeted directly in the middle of his forehead. A laugh bubbles it’s way up my throat as the loud ‘smack’ it made with contact echoed in my ears. His body grew stiff as the snowball stayed stuck to his face like a horn; furthering resembling a unicorn.

A snort vibrates my nose before I slap a hand over my mouth. The snow had completely fallen off his face, leaving it wet as he locks gazes with me, the look of revenge clear in his eyes.

“No!” I call out when he starts to collect snow into his hands. “You don’t get throw it back— wait!”

I’m thrown into a laughing fit when a much larger snowball is soaring into the air, its aim set dead on me; there wasn’t enough time for me to move out the way. The force of the snowball nearly knocks me off my feet as it slams into my side. I wave my arms around as I regain my balance and whip around to face a smiling Arsen — that image alone makes me question my existence, the way his features shift from a simple smile buries something deep and unremovable inside me.

The small moment of distraction gives him enough time to hurdle another snowball at me, I snap out of my trance and duck with the result of nearly falling face first into a hill of snow. Arsen’s deep chuckling reaches my form, another smile graces my lips as I collect rows of snowball.

“All right, you asked for it,” I say, further hardening the snowballs.


To say we got nothing accomplished that day was an understatement. I found out that Arsen didn’t give up easily, one of his many traits that I’m trying to figure out, it was an endless battle throwing snow back at each other to see who would give up first: I did when the sun was starting to set and my fingers were numb beyond belief. We originally had set out to find more firewood for the cabin, after being sidetracked, Arsen settled for gathering chunks of wood from the surrounding trees.

On the walk back, the distance between Arsen and I seemed to have changed, just like the air that accumulated among both of us. There is more sizzling of electricity like there always was, instead of walking in front of each other, we strode side by side with minimum space from our bodies; I could feel the heat radiating from him.

It wrapped around my whole being, securing me in the protection that he has given off since day one.

It wasn’t long before we were walking down the path with the cabin colors in sight, with the fading sun, crickets were beginning to make noise around us as we stepped up the small slope. I noticed the lights in the living room were glowing, indicating that someone was inside, it had to be no one other than Santha. Just as we were waking the steps, my foot slips on a thin piece of ice that layered the slab, my world tilts and I prepare myself to hit the ground, my lower back hits something hard that stops my descend to the ground.

I lay still for a moment or two before I realize what exactly happens, a snort escapes my being as I gaze up. Arsen looks down at me with a slightly arched brow, smiling, I shake my head and let him settle me on my feet. My eyes slant down the wood at the base of the steps, having rolled when he dropped them in time to catch me.

“I’m sorry,” I say, turning and watching as he adjusted the remaining wood in his arms. “I’m clumsy when it comes to snow. Still not used to it.”

Carefully, I walk down the couple steps of slabs and bend down to pick up the barks of wood, I turn back toward him. “I didn’t mean to make you drop these either.”

He shakes his head and reaches for them when I’m close, swiftly, I move them away just as he was about to grab ahold of one and walk up the rest of the steps to the door.

“I got it, it’s the least I can do,” I tell him as I catch his lingering stare.

As always, he says nothing but there’s a small agreement of his eyes that takes time to settle as he lets me carry the barks of wood inside. The door was already unlocked which made it easier for us, mostly me, to walk through with no problem, as I suspected Santha was inside doing her own thing. The creek of the door brought her attention from arranging things on the shelf, her regular smile greeting us.

“Hey, you two!”

I give a short peep of response as the barks of wood begin to weigh in on me, quickly, I move to the fireplace and drop them into the rack beside the structure. Heaving a deep breath, I step back to let Arsen do the same while looking down at my hands, there were small scrapes and punctures from the wood; a sudden hand covering mine snaps my eyes upward to Arsen standing above me.

He inspected my palms with a tinge of guilt glittering in his eyes, his thumb rubs the small cuts, sending away the small flashes of pain with the ever-intense tingles that rocket my system. I clasp his hand in mine whole, squeezing as he flicks his gaze to mine where I try to ease his mind with my eyes.

“I’m okay,” I mutter, “these are nothing but small cuts that easily heal. It’s not your fault.”

I squeeze his palm once more, looking deeply back at him until that small guilt was nothing more than an imagination. Nodding, I step back, hesitant to let go of his hand. They drop to his side, curling at the tips, while I urge my own to store his warmth inside.

Inhaling, I turn to spot Santha watching with a soft and knowing look on her face, her gaze switching from between Arsen and me. She catches my eyes and beckons me forward with her head, I had a feeling she wanted to speak to me about what she witnessed.

Walking in her direction, I move close over the door where the coat rack was and begin to take off the layer of sweaters.

“Arsen, do you mind placing a few barks of wood in the fireplace?” Santha asks.

There wasn’t a need for me to look over my shoulder when I could feel the heat of his stare on my back, my nerves hyperaware of the action. With all the sweaters back in their right place, I stalk to Santha as she herself moves to the first steps of the stairs.

“I want to go through a few drawers of my clothing and see what you can wear,” she informs me. “Hopefully this won’t take long.”

I nod, my lips tilting into a smile before we begin to ascend up the stairs. We walk inside the bedroom and she immediately heads for the closet and starts to set out some clothing, one by one, pair by pair as I watch her arrange things with fluid movements; I half expect her to start to talk about the small interaction Arsen and I had but she doesn’t. It wasn’t until fifteen minutes into sorting through outfits and trying them on does she speak.

“Have you been feeling different lately?” she asks.

I was expecting a whole different type of question but this one sort of caught me off guard.

“No?” I respond sort of question like, not quite understanding the tone of it.

She turns from kneeling on the ground— where a dresser was pushed into the closet and the bottom drawer open— facing my direction with a neutral look.

“What I mean is, has the atmosphere between you and Arsen changed?”

There it was.

My lips tilt to the side in thought, the words already coming forward to my mind’s eye in images, the closeness, the sizzling energy in the air when he’s near, the lingering touches; in all, there was something changing that started from the beginning.

“Maybe, kind of.”

A glint shone deep beneath the layers of Santha’s eyes, a smile rending her lips.

“I knew it,” she mumbles to herself, “I knew it.”

I frown at her, my heart quickening a bit. “Knew what?”

Her eyes flicker back to me, “From the moment Arsen brought you to the pack, there was something telling me that you would be special and just for him.”

Keeping my mouth shut, I let her ramble on, my confusion only rising as she starts to get a little excited about the situation she’s about to reveal. She placed down the shirt she held in her grasp and scoots closer.

“I don’t want to overwhelm you with information, because that’s the last thing I want to do being that there is already a lot on your mind.”

I simply regard her, trusting her words and intentions.

“Do you believe in soulmates?” she questions me again.

“I do believe that everyone has someone made for them, yes.”

She smiles, “Exactly because it’s true. There is someone out there that is specifically made for you alone and I’m pretty sure that Arsen is that someone for you.”

It takes me a moment to process what she speaks, in my body and soul, what she says makes perfect sense but outside I’m further confused.

“Huh?”

Santha nearly rolls her eyes, “I’m trying to say that Arsen is your soulmate. Our species, Lycans, worship and praise the moon as you all do with your God as she presents us with gifts. Mates.”

“All creatures have something or someone that is specially made to complete their soul,” she explains. “Us also being able to possess the souls of wolf spirits gives us the traits like a wolf, they seek mates to continue bloodlines or share their life with.”

She pauses, her gaze flickering about the features of my faces, gauging my expression to the information. There wasn’t anything I could say, just soak in the new informed things about Lycans. Apparently, one was my ‘mate’.

“I know you feel the different energy with Arsen.” Santha chuckles as if reliving the memory which wasn’t long ago. “From the time he saved you from freezing to death, that was the first time he has transformed into his human form in front of us. He would not let you go until he knew you were in safe hands.”

As her words process in my head, a small weight lifts from my back and shoulders as relief nearly drains me. I knew that the connection I felt wasn’t in my head or a justification for the way I’ve been feeling toward him, but, it left me to question the unknown.

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