— Darren —
The evening was going fairly well. I’d just escape the kitchen after the dishwasher broke down and I’d spent an hour fixing things, calling a last-minute repairman, and helping to organize things in the meantime. No events I’ve ever seen as ever gone without a hitch. That being said, if this was all that was to go awry, it wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t awesome in the kitchen right now, but it was under-control, and would be soon back to normal—no one the wiser.
I didn’t even pass the message about the mess to my parents or Michael. They were all seriously busy, and could do without the worry. I might tell them later, but again, maybe it wasn’t even necessary.
On the plus side, little things like that kept me from being bored to death.
Most of the talks with the guests were fairly superficial in nature. Especially when my interlocutor would realize I held no position, no title, I had no important job, and was here only because of birthright, and not usefulness.
Generally, in such events, either I try to find something to do, or do my best impersonation of a wallflower. I’d learn a ton of things this way. Observations are sometimes the best teacher. Nonetheless, I learned more gossip than useful skills. Which for someone in my position can be pretty useless for anything other than navigating figurative social landmines whenever exposed to the local politic of packs—of which I was not an active member to begin with.
Normally, I get pretty grumpy about those type of events, but strangely, I’d been pretty Zen about this one. I didn’t even feel the need to force myself to be here, and was in a general uncharacteristically good mood.
I’d begone to think I might have suddenly grown more mature or something, until the real cause hit me in the face, or more specifically, the nose.
The first few sniffs, I didn’t realize that something was even catching my attention, subconsciously—as I was too focused on my surroundings—until realization slowly dawned on me.
I’d picked up a smell. One that sidestepped my neurones all the way to my hindbrain.
That was no normal smell, and I couldn’t stop myself from being drawn to it.
I’d just caught wind of my mate.
As far as these things went, finding your mate was either slowly building up, as a light pull at first until it intensified—that was generally when coming from someone you’ve long known and been exposed too. Or completely out of the blue—when being from a complete stranger you’ve never met.
Given the present situation and the fact that I’d never felt even the slightest of pull, meant I was facing the latter.
For a brief moment I froze.
I got caught in a tornado of emotions. Excitement. Worry. Fear. Wonder. Joy. It was hard to focus on any one of them.
Getting a mate meant a lot of things for a wolf. Partnership. Care. Support. There was even stories about not ever being able to reach one’s own true potential without one. Though, this could have been just stories told to kids for them to accept better the facts that the whole process has always felt so random and convoluted, and out of your own control.
But there was something very enticing about the idea of having someone out there specially just for you. And the natural bond made a lot of things stronger, more intense. It wasn’t necessarily a love at first sight type scenario, but it did steamroll the whole process.
However, the strong bond didn’t made anything perfect, it doesn’t change a person either. So an asshole, stay an asshole, with or without the mate bond. Which can make a relationship very complicated. The fact that the bond is seen as sacred culturally and blasphemous to reject, and that the rejection is physically and psychologically harmful, and leaves you permanently without the preternatural advantage that it could ’theoretically,’ give you—meant that most refused to break them regardless. Even when things weren’t working out too well.
Though, usually most tend to become infatuated fairly quickly, which made it a little easier, if not scarier, in and of itself.
But getting a mate could have a lot more implications.
I could suddenly be linked to someone from abroad. Does she moves in with me, or do I leave the country? If one of us as to move, you need to start over, new job, and everything—far from your family, and friends, and support system. If I’d been in Michael’s position, she’d move in and automatically become Luna. But given my situation, it could go either way.
On the other hand, only high-ranking members of packs were present. If she was the daughter of an Alpha, maybe she expects to land a title—which I can’t give. Or, if her father doesn’t have a son, I could land the Alpha position. That could change everything.
But again, she could be just a personal assistant or something, not of high-rank. Or maybe a woman twice my age. For that matter, she could be hard not my type. What then? Do I roll with it? Do I back off? Can I back off? The bond is a freaking strong thing, I might not even be able to back off. She could be a massive bitch, the type I’d never go for otherwise, but I might go for it now because of the freaking bond. I’m not really sure how much agency one has against a bond—at least until it is broken. And I might be far more motivated to make it work than I would otherwise,or at least try to. Which is a little terrifying. That can be a good way to run your life into the ground.
Maybe this would change my life for the best, maybe for the worst. Or maybe I’d stay pretty much where I am, only not single, or maybe single if I’m rejected, or I reject her.
Of all those possibilities, the one that weighed the worst on me was probably maintaining my life as is.
Which is sad.
I’m not happy.
I’m not fulfilled.
And I’ve been stalling for change.
Finishing my degree, has been a good enough excuse. My family and pack is here. My life is here. It’s hard to find, choose, and join a pack without a mate as a justifiable reason too. Especially for someone of my pedigree.
This could be the kick in the ass I’ve been waiting for. But if this led me nowhere in this regard, it could feel like a let down. Which is probably a lot of weight to put on someone’s shoulders. Even more so, one that I’ve never even met.
I tried to move quietly, tracking the smell, trying to pinpoint who it comes from—and the fact that the room was brimming with people was frustrating.
It also dawned on me that meeting her in the middle of the who’s who of wolf society was probably not the best idea. It could easily become a bit of a spectacle, and going right or wrong, might not do me any good either way, whilst happening in the middle of a packed room. So I tried to take a distance. Move furtively not to attract any attention.
It could have gone faster, but I took my time, I had time.
Until I found her.
I moved around some, trying to make sure I was not mistaken. That I’ve pinpointed the smell clearly. But it was hard to look away from her, which confirmed my assumptions better than my attempt at triangulation.
She was pretty. Tall, jet-black hair, dark eyes and the skin tone of someone who spent a lot of time under the sun. She was talking to Alpha Jenkins or Jansen, I don’t really remember, and it was hard to even care about who she talked to, or anything else for that matter.
Her, on the other hand, I had no idea who she was. I’d never seen her, in person or picture, online, social media, nothing.
She was wearing an elegant midnight blue dress that fell all the way to the floor and left her shoulders bare. It was simple, yet the fabric didn’t look cheap and the fit was perfect enough to suspect professional intervention ratter than off-the-rack, which most probably meant some extent of wealth. Which mainly, in these types of settings, meant rank too.
I couldn’t see if she was with someone in particular. I couldn’t hear what she was saying amongst the constant buzzing of conversations around me, but I saw her smile a few times. It looked like a kind smile, not forced but genuine.
When she moved, I shook myself out of my reverie, and wondered for a moment what to do.
If I kept watching, I was moving slowly into stalker-ish territory—which I was not comfortable with—but if I approached her, she would automatically know what was going on, and it would happen right in the middle of the room.
I’ve seen once or twice people finding their mates. It’s generally not subtle, and it includes a lot of staring. I’ve seen once a pair jump one another in public, and barely stopping themselves from ripping their clothes off and humping like rabbits right then and there.
I was pretty sure I could contain myself, as evident by my present behaviour, but that could also change after I’ve gotten physically closer.
And then what if she’s with someone, and he gets pissed at me for this. I’ve heard stories of situations escalating to jealousy and violence pretty quickly.
My father would kill me if I started a territorial challenge with some Alpha or something, right in the middle of his perfect event.
And then I noticed her body language change. Her attention sharpened, focusing on nothing in particular, moving slowly at first, then stopping short, eyes wide, searching around.
She caught my scent.
I went into a mini panic-attack and moved out of the room, heading straight for the terrace.
All in all, it was probably not my greatest moment.
For a few seconds I felt like a complete idiot, standing outside alone.
There was a few people outside, but most were standing near the fire pits or sitting on the outside sofas, chatting quietly, laughing.
I decided it might be wiser not to stand around like an idiot, and just go and sit somewhere.
There were a few empty chairs near one of the fires, free of people, quiet, where I could sit and think about the next step. As I turned around to sit, I stopped dead, motionless.
She had just rushed out, her eyes a little wild, then she spotted me. I just smiled in what I’d like to believe was a suave way, but more realistically was probably a little awkward.
She smiled back.
“Hi.” I said.
“Hi.” Her voice was soft, a little deep and breathy.
She beamed at me and it was like the sun just rose. Well, so far so good, I guess.
I gesture to one of the chairs, and she moved in to join me.
“Erm, hi,” she said again when she reached me, nervously pulling at her neckless.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Darren.”
“Eveline,” she said as she extended her hand. “But you can call me Eva.”
I took her hand. The gesture simple. We’d both done it dozens of times tonight already. But there was nothing normal about it this time. A frisson ran from my fingers to the top of my scalp the moment our skin touched and there was a tingling feeling, reminiscent of the sensual caress on an erogenous zone during sex, where the contact lingered. I guess I know now why mates have so much difficulty keeping their hands off each other. If this was what a handshake was doing to me, it was hard to imagine the intensity of full body contact, skin against skin, deep kisses, and far more delicious endeavours.
I shook myself out my day(wet)dream, and saw her do the same kind of shivering that I did, which made me smile even more.
I reluctantly let go of her hand, now completely unsure of my self-control if I didn’t—of which she seemed to be saddened by-—which cheered me up.
We slowly sat in front of one another, and I realized I had no idea where to start. Playing twenty questions was probably the most anticlimactic thing I could initiate, but otherwise, what then? We didn’t know anything but our first names. How not to make a blundering mess out of myself.
She rubbed her hands nervously on her legs, smoothing the inexistent wrinkles on her dress.
“What do you want to do?” I asked her. Her eyes snapped to mine and I saw her hesitations—I think she might have thought along the same lines as me.
“Ehm. Maybe you can tell me a little bit about yourself?” she said tentatively.
“Well, this is my home. Stonewillow is my father’s pack. And soon my eldest brother’s.” I added the last sentence afraid that she might get the wrong idea, and think she was becoming Luna here or something. “I’m working on finishing my degree, and doing an internship at the family’s business. I come from a large family, I stay active, travel when I can, and enjoy good beer, and suck at ping pong.”
She laughed. So, casual worked. One point for me.
“I’m from Blakemore. It’s my brother’s pack. I’m also from a large family. I didn’t go to university mostly because I’ve no idea what to study, so, in the meantime, I work for my brother. Mostly I’m a glorified secretary and occasional ambassador. I’m not sure if I’m gonna make this my career but I kinda enjoy it. I travel a lot. Enjoy social events and the beach. And I’m terrible at team sports. All of them.”
It was a little hard to focus on the words when she could do so much better with those lips.
She gave me a knowing smile.
“I want to kiss you so bad right now,” I blurted. My thoughts had now bypassed my brain altogether, and gone straight to vocalization.
“Me too.” That’s all she said, and it short-circuited whatever reason was left in me.
I rose and pressed my lips against hers.
By the moon and nights, it was beyond anything I’ve ever expected. I’m pretty sure I sat next to her at some point, but I’m not too sure when it happened. But I know I put my hand on her waist and lifted her on top of me. Deepening the kiss. She let out a little squeal of surprise which I used as my way in. Moving my tongue against hers, which she answered with equal enthusiasm, and soon her hands were knotted in my hair while mine were roaming from her hair, and neck, and shoulders, to her waist, travelling up and down along her body. Whenever I touched her exposed skin, I felt the jolts, like static electricity, only pleasant. Very, very pleasant. It made her clothes suddenly very annoying, and in the way of the sensation. But even through the clothes, there was a magnetism, a pull that was impossible to resist.
The heat of her body pressed against mine made me dizzy, and I could not form any coherent thoughts other than ‘More’. That’s all that I wanted. More.
Judging by the way she pressed herself against me—or how her body moved in slow sinuous motions—I guess she felt pretty much the same.
Somewhere in my brain, a little voice kept me from slamming her underneath me, and start ripping her clothes off to bury myself inside her. But it was a very tiny voice, barely audible, and oh so easy to ignore.
I managed to keep things PG-13, but only barely.
I’m not sure if our make-out session lasted ten minutes or ten hours, but when we finally came out for air, our breathing was laboured, our skin feverish, and our lips tingling from the prolonged activity. We just stared in each other’s eyes, lips barely apart, our chests rising and falling rapidly in unison.
We began giggling like teenage girls.
I put feather light kisses everywhere I could reach. The corner of her mouth, her nose, and cheeks, and jawline. And she did the same. I moved slowly to her neck and collarbone, and judging by her reaction, I was doing great.
I was like a blind man putting to memory a person’s face and body, only I decided that hands were not enough, and mouth was far more efficient at the task. And fun. So, so much more fun.
— Eveline —
I was sitting on a stranger’s laps doing things no reasonable girl would do, at the workplace, amongst the most influential people around, and I couldn’t care less.
I’ve had friends tell me about their mates, and how it was nothing like, well, anything or anyone else. And the stories always felt surreal, exaggerated, girl fantasies at best. Oh, how wrong was I?
After high school, my brother gave me an ultimatum, school or work. Kaden was always the one to give the ultimatums. He was older than me by fifteen years and was already Alpha when I was born. When I was young, I’d been infuriated by the fact that he was always the one doing discipline, telling me no. It’s only after the triplets were born, and I was a little older, than I realize how chaotic things could get at home without it. Dad has had a health scare and had become super laid back with us. Or maybe it was a gender thing, or a responsibility thing. From what I learned, he’s always been really harsh on Kaden. But my sister and I, we were like little princesses and Mom was barely less indulgent than dad. They were having their second chance at a family, Dad was not Alpha anymore—giving the position away when he thought he was about to bite it—and he acted like he was on a constant holiday.
But when I began working after graduation, and saw a bit of what actually happens behind the curtain, I was blown away.
Kaden never asked me to keep up with his schedule, thanks the heavens, because I could never do 80 hours a week, seven days a week. A quiet week is maybe 60 hours, but some are even worst. On top of that, he trains and workouts whenever he can, and he’s been doing it since he was a teen. Studying while working, and expending the businesses and pack. The last few generations of Alphas had done great for our pack, but none on the scale of Kaden. At that’s not mentioning all the time he spends away.
No matter how many times he told me and the girls to get our shit together and do something more useful than shopping, or partying, or gossiping, or indulging in whatever. Never did I get a wake up call like actually watching him work.
It made me feel so wasteful of my time and efforts. It made most of my conversations, and activities, and hobbies suddenly sound so silly and pointless.
Transitioning to work was hard. Like really hard. And I kept messing up. He was surprisingly kind to me. I saw him bark orders all day and get angry at stupid mistakes at others. But he told me, “make the effort, and I’m gonna help you, mess around and I’ll kick you out without a second thought”. And I believed him.
It’s been two years now, and it’s kinda fun. And I really love the ambassador-like part of it. I think it plays to my strengths. I’ve put in the efforts, learn the faces and names, polished my appearance to something more mature, learned the parlance. And I’ve been rocking this ever since.
It’s getting harder and harder for me to imagine doing anything else.
I was going to get myself another flute of Champagne, in a nice hall, surrounded by important people, and I was crushing this.
And then I smelled him.
It was like home, and the sun, and laughter, and the wilds bottled up in the most powerful cologne I’ve ever smelled. But ratter than overwhelm my senses to give me a headache—like a strong perfume would—instead it drew me in like a freaking Axe body spray commercial. Like pheromones, and hypnotism, and libido condensed in an irresistible air-current. I felt like Pepe LePew drifting in the air following behind someone I hadn’t even seen.
I tried—really tried—not to make a fool out of myself. Not to start to push people out of the way. I made a quick and polite excuse when someone tried to stop me to talk. At some point I thought I could smell him everywhere and got so confused.
Had I lost his tracks?
I was beginning to hyperventilate when a breeze from outside reached me.
I rushed out.
He was there, right there, in front of me.
I’d say a hair under six feet, so in my heels we were pretty close to the same height. Dark brown hair, brown eyes. His hair looked artfully tussled, his suit impeccable, his skin naturally tanned, and his smile contagious.
It was hard to believe that I was finally in front of my mate. I tried to recall everything people told me about mates, but it was like my thoughts were swimming in vodka-laced jello.
I tried to keep acting like a respectable woman, and was half afraid I’d do something ridiculous or stupid that would make him recoil. He was a few years older, I guessed, and was probably not into overgrown teenagers. So I kept everything in check.
Until he mentioned kissing me.
My legs became cold pastas which made the fact that I was sitting a blessing, but what followed… whatever grace, and dignity, and maturity I was wrapping myself in tonight was gone. It took everything in me not to groan at the thoughts that crossed my mind.
“Eva!” Came a familiar voice and I froze with my hands down Darren’s shoulders, his lips right above my breasts. As if he could read my thoughts, he stopped and looked at me as I looked at Mads by the door.
His eyes were a little big and worried.
“Are you okay?” he asked, coming to me.
“Yes!” I said quickly.
Then I noticed Darren’s hair going every which way. It looked like he had styled his hair with a lawnmower. I tried to smooth out the damages I did, then I noticed how this looked from Mads perspective. And I was still straddling Darren, my dress hiked up on my thighs. Nothing screamed respectable dignitary about me right now. And I could only imagine what he was thinking while watching the little sister of his boss getting freaky in the yard, with the son of our host at that.
He marched to us, and I quickly got up, put my dress down and tried to put my hair in place. Darren getting that something was happening, got up and took a look at Mads.
Mads looked at me suspiciously then said, “I just came to inform you that Alpha Devon is pulling in right now and would like to meet with you, before doing his meeting with Alpha Bjornson.”
“Oh, crap!” I muttered. “I’ll be right in.”
He nodded at me, then moved back in, but I knew he was staying close. It was kinda his job to do so.
“Ehm.” I turned to Darren.
“Is everything okay?”
“Who is he?”
He raised an eyebrow at me.
“My brother doesn’t like me to travel on my own, especially for business,” I explained.
“I guess you have work to do?” He gestured at the door. He looked a little sad to cut this short. It was cute on him. And flattering.
“Yeah. I didn’t think he’d be in this early.”
He checked his watch. “It’s pretty late actually.”
I smiled sheepishly, which got his eyes to lower to my lips, which made my stomach do a backflip. But I couldn’t contain the giggles at the ridiculousness of his looks.
“What?” he asked confused.
“It’s your hair. I did quite a number on it.”
He put his fingers through his hair, and I tried to help him tame it back while giggling, which got him smiling again. He didn’t look too self-conscious and mostly let me do it, enjoying the whole thing.
I felt like I was overexerting my facial muscles in the best way so much I was smiling.
When I turned to go back in, I felt his fingers lace through mine as he joined me inside.
— Darren —
I had half a mind dragging her in a dark corner to do all sorts of things to that woman, but I guess ruining her career was not the best way to ease a woman into a relationship. So I railed everything in, and just enjoyed the feeling of her hand in mine.
Did I just think in terms of relationship?
Once inside, her head whipped around and I checked what got her attention.
Some guy was walking in.
He was tall, like really tall, like a head above mine tall. Hair so black it was nearly blue, dark eyes, and a don’t-mess-with-me expression on his face that seemed to be his default setting, or maybe he’s just eaten something that wasn’t fresh.
A few people got out of the way. Actually, he didn’t have to waltz around people, they just parted for him. And then I heard someone close-by utter: “I was never told the bloody Hellhound was coming.”