As I stepped into the forest, I sent Axel a mind-link. Heading your way.
Since he was supposed to be the last to leave, he took a huge risk leaving me to say goodbye to Ray in private. Had Cas known, he would have had Axel’s head.
Great, nothing out of the ordinary, stay close, he replied almost instantly. Hope Loverboy was worth it.
I rolled my eyes but couldn’t help the smile spreading across my face. The evening had been amazing, and I didn’t regret sneaking out for a second. Thanks Axe, I owe you.
Yeah, you can make it up to me by keeping mom away tomorrow morning while I sneak Lucy out. An image of the giggling girl on Axel’s back flashed into my mind. Lucy, I guess. At least I think that’s what she said her name was.
I shook my head. Or not.
Making my way through the forest, I kept to the familiar path where the scents of my brothers and packmates lingered. They were close, just up ahead. The chill of early morning air bit into my skin and I quickened my pace, moving as swiftly and quietly possible. I couldn’t wait to get back and sink into a warm bath. I could almost smell the jasmine and lavender scented candles in my bedroom; I could see the tendrils of steam wafting up from the water, tiny flames dancing on its surface.
Lost in my fantasy, my feet kept moving. Which song would I listen to? I smiled, gazing up at the stars. It was a stupid question with an obvious answer. Adagio for Strings; my favourite. A song composed of those very stars’ dying breaths. So soothing and enthralling it could end wars, rebuild nations and comfort any broken soul.
I wished I could do that. Create something so absolutely beautiful out of nothing but thin air. Composers such as Samuel Barber inspired me. I wanted to be like them with every fibre of my being. I wanted to create, produce, invent. I wanted to soar high and bring everyone along with me for the ride. I wanted to ease people’s pain and make them believe in something bigger, something better, even if it was just for a little while. I could hear violins playing in my mind, a symphony of emotion clashing together, escalating. The rising of tempo building up into a crescendo. A cello deep and sad somewhere in the background.
Heart fluttering in my chest, I became aware of my surroundings. Of how beautiful it was with the moon reflecting off every surface. Tiny flying insects taking flight and…I turned, suddenly stopping. Where had all the glowing eyes gone? A cool breeze slammed into me from behind, ruffling my hair. There was not a single critter in sight. My ears twitched, searching. It was quiet. Too quiet. Not a single creature stirred. It was both strange and unnatural.
For some unexplained reason, a looming sense of dread fell over me. The fantastical images I’d built in my mind disappeared. My heart thudded in my chest, the hairs at the back of my neck standing up. I was completely alone. Fear wasn’t an emotion a true Luna would ever feel. On instinct, I lifted my nose, sniffing for any foreign scents. Nothing. A tight knot formed in the pit of my stomach as I shifted my gaze from one tree to the other.
Axel, are you home yet? I linked.
No response. Turning, I searched the darkness, exhaling a haggard breath. This was ridiculous. Tired, that’s all it was. I was exhausted. Turning again, I stepped back onto the path. As my feet hit the ground, goosebumps covered my skin, the air suddenly turned to ice. I jolted to a halt.
Axel? I tried again, although I was pretty sure he would be enveloped in Lucy by now.
Once more. No reply came, and I contemplated linking Cas. It wouldn’t end well for Axel if I did, so I decided against it and swallowed the terror clogging my throat. Another step -
“Good evening, Little Wolf.” The whisper of a man tickled my ear. Close. Too close.
I whipped around, immediately crouching down into a combat stance. There was no one there; not a single person in sight. Frantically, I searched for the source of the whisper, my eyes darting from one shadow to the next.
It hadn’t been my mind playing tricks on me, it couldn’t have been.
“No need to be afraid, dear Wolf. I mean you no harm.” The whisperer said, sending a shiver down my spine. It was deep and hoarse; beautifully ancient against my ears.
Axel! I shouted through our link, once again searching the darkness and finding nothing out of place. My heart hammered against my ribcage, adrenaline pouring into my veins.
“Stay. Please.” The voice said. “Grant me an audience for just a moment.”
Warm air brushed against my shoulder like a gentle caress.
“I promise you’d want to hear the message I bear.”