It's two A.M. Normal people sleep. I grasp the now resharpened pencil and note in my hand ignoring my sweaty palms.
The air is soft and silent, still and warm on my face as I wait. The taste of the air up here on the second floor is different, if that's even possible. I taste oil, something woodsy and a hint of what can only be described as ancient.
What does that even mean?
What am I doing here?
Curiosity. Good thing I'm not a cat.
I lean my ear against the door searching for vibrations as the knob clicks to the side and I fall forward with the opening door.
I gasp and next thing I know I'm hot, cradled in lightning and Alpha. I feel breath on my ear but my face is in his neck, temple against his jaw. I breathe instinctively and that scent. Oh that scent. Why am I just catching it? Is it because I sought him out for the first time? He is that ancient smell but it's so cool and gentle like...like the surprise of finding something lost. You bask in the feel of joy and freedom, savoring that feeling of it in your hands once again. He smelt of cotton, a vague whiff of sweat and something incredibly intense.
I pull away suddenly embarrassed. Did he know I was smelling him?
"Julianna." His brilliant eyes seemed to glow in a way entirely separate from his wilder nature. His hair is finger combed into submission but his skin is still sleep swollen. He has bedroom eyes when he first wakes up. Why does that feel like intimate knowledge?
I downcast my eyes for a moment to gain my mental stability and clench the paper to remind myself why I'm here. I hold it out in front of me and meet his eyes. He eyed me for a long moment before moving to the side and holding his arm out to invite me into his suite.
My heart stutters one part adrenaline for uncertainty and a hundred parts anxiety.
I raise my chin and nod. I'm not the child I was with Daniel. It's my personal mantra for this singular moment.
I walk past him and take in a slow spin of what looks like a parlor.
Only one set of double doors led off this room and the sparsity of the furnishings and personal touches tell me this room is vacant of most use. Wood paneled walls with wide, long windows, that consumed the room's left wall, filter in gentle moonlight but promise bright sunlight in the day. The amenities in the room consist of a buttery soft looking sofa to right with a glass top coffee table. A couple of bookcase giving this the character of a waiting room. Dry and hollow.
I turn to him to find his eyes watching me intently, analyzing me.
"What are you doing in my rooms this early?" He wasn't smiling. His gaze was intent and focused. He did not look amused. I air on the side of caution. I open the paper and show him the word then point to the with a questionable look.
"Can't this wait?"
I can't help looking at him like he's absurd. Wait? Then he shouldn't have slid this under my door in the middle of the night. I point to it again with determination.
'Teach me'? Teach you what? I point again, confused and exasperated.
"I meant teach me to speak with you so we can stop this stupid facade?"
I have no idea how to respond. I'm stunned. Mouth hanging open. I didn't know what I expected but that never even crossed my mind in the slightest.
"I try to be patient. I try to be nice but you irritate me." He said with a mouth flat as the plains of Kansas. My heart seemed to freeze over in my chest. I've never seen him irritated like this. Yes, at first when I'd changed in the room on the first day but not at me.
What did you think, he wouldn't be frustrated with your childish behavior? If only he understood. If only he knew.
"What's more, you don't listen. You ignore every word I say."
I snort and point to my ears and he seemed to realize his slip as I motioned.
"I didn't mean- of course you can't listen, you're deaf- I meant. Dammit, I forget what you are, that you're going to fight every single thing I say. It'd be somewhat refreshing if it wasn't so damn annoying."
He looked frustrated. It seemed to dawn on me all at once, maybe this was an irrational idea. I bite my lip and make for the door. He steps in front of it, eyes stalking my movement. Like that my heart was in my throat and unpleasant memories unfold behind my eyes.
Daniel's cold smile in my face. "It's okay Julianna, be a good girl and obey your Alpha."
Though I'm not speaking cottonmouth and the tightness in my throat makes in incredible hard to hold the paper still against my leg and write coherently.
Please open the door. I don't like feeling trapped.
"If you answer one question."
I sigh and nod shakily, wiping my damp palms on my jeans. Anything, just let me be free. Free from the past.
"What do you paint?"
I jerked back utterly caught off guard, somehow surprised the question was something overtly personal and invasive. He gestured to my hands where I knew ink was imbedded in my skin, forever a part of my soul. I forget about it but it never leaves me, not completely. I momentarily forget about history and smile, letting out a breathy laugh.
I write slowly, my thought clearing. I show him.
I watched frozen as he approached slowly, steps graceful even in my silent world. Gingerly, with all the deceptive laziness of a resting lion, he touch my word.
His fingers brushed Free and he looked up at me.
"Did he do to you what he did to those other girls?"
I met his gaze with fierceness and a concentration of will, the refusal to be subdued.
I nod slowly.
"One day you will tell me." I wanted to scoff at his arrogance but there was a part of it that wasn't high handedness, it almost seemed to be a promise. An oath of trust that we would one day reach.
I scribbled down swiftly.
"When should we start lessons?"
His eyes roamed, lingering then flashed up.
"I'm awake now. Are you tired?"
My brows bounced up. He never ceased to stun me.
I shake my head.
"Good. Would you still like the door open?"
Nodding, he turned away and proceeded to slip the door open. It was in that moment that a caught a glimpse of silver shimmering over the top of his collar. Sebastian's Wolf Tree. 267Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡDYu06wFcKP
It was something all werewolves had in common. What intrinsically created werewolves was the spirit of Wolf that fused with all children born with wolf blood in their veins and was a living, pulsing doorway between our bodies and the minds of our wolves. As infants the trees is nothing more than a seedling, barely breaking the surface of the world and as we grow and learn it grows with us. The wiser, stronger and smarter we become the fullers the branches are, the farther they curled around our ribs and the higher they climb up the backs of our necks. Sebastian's tree kissed the back of his hairline's. I remember briefly how Daniel's never touched his shoulders and daddy's tree hugged his ribs all the way around the front. Sebastian's return shook me from the past as he guided me by the elbow to that couch which is as soft as it appears. I smiled and rubbed my hand up and down the arm, taking in the velvet like material while Sebastian watched amused. I cleared my throat sheepishly and made the sign for I'm sorry.
"What was that?" I shake my head. If he really wanted to learn he must start from the beginning.
I wrote quickly, First we do ABCs.
"I think we're going to need more paper."
The perturbed twist of his lips pulled a giggle from me and as I covered my mouth and the noise stopped he looked up and suddenly there wasn't a trace of the earlier irritation that afflicted those crystalline eyes.
I cleared my throat again and began my Alpha's first lesson.
"I want to talk about werewolves today." Zara chirped as the lot of my peers sat in Harry's history class. Zara had forced me to migrate from the back of the class, where I could easily hide, to near the front where I sat between her and Gretchen's daughter, Helena.
"What do you mean Zara?"
"Our history. Where we come from."
"Who here knows the origin of the werewolf?" Harry asked the class. Slowly I lifted my hand and quickly scribbled on the paper in front of me. I may not know math or science or the history of America but werewolf history is something I know very well.
I wrote, Taklishim, the Native American healer.
Harry clapped his hand and smiled widely.
"Very good Julianna. Taklishim is the first werewolf we know of and believed to be the origin of the werewolf and the beginning of the Wolf bond. I know some of the older here know this story but we'll start from the beginning for the newer and unchanged."
I didn't catch what someone must have said behind me but Harry nodded.
"Yes, Werewolves originate from North American we believe. It was back, long before the BC/AD change, Hillary."
Harry turns away and towards a section of the board that is clear and write Taklishim at the top.
"Now can anyone tell me what Taklishim actually means?"
"Great Zero, yes it means, 'The Gray One,' though we do not actually know if his wolf form would come to be gray or not."
My old pack believed Taklishim was in fact a pure black wolf to which he could hide in the darkness and hunt the most effectively. It was his human eyes that were gray but it was all superstition and nothing was actually proved so I said nothing.
"The story we carry now has been passed down to Alphas and children alike and if there's ever been one fact shared in every recount it is that vampires were the cause of the werewolves."
"What?" Helena looked shocked, paled at the mention of the other supernatural species. I doubt any of these children have every even encountered a vampire before. I watch Harry waiting for his explanation wondering if it was the same as the one I'd heard as a child, the one that my father had told me.
"It's true. The story goes like this. Taklishim was a tribe healer and a wearer of wolf pelts, though what tribe he was from has long been lost. Only bits a pieces of where he was even from are all that's left and are different from person to person. So Taklishim was a medicine man that used herbs, wisdom and magics to heal what we heal now with medication and hospitals. His work was comprised of natural remedies and time and many were lost to illnesses we shed easily here.
One night a young boy was brought into the healer's hut, a strange boy found wandering near the village. No one knew who this child was or where he'd come from but he was surely possessed. He tried to attack people, biting at their flesh, eyes crazy. This we now understand was a young, possibly newly turned vampire, lost and hungry, with no sire or family.
So they strapped the child down and the medicine man began his days of work. Stories tell us he worked anywhere from days to weeks to treat and heal the boy but alas he made no progress. In fact the sick child began to grow worse as he, a vampire, slowly starved from blood loss. Taklishim used his strongest potions, his most powerful magic to cure the boy until he himself was weak and tired.
So one night, late into the hours the medicine man worked endlessly, about ready to give up and free the boy from his pain when the child wiggled free and escaped his bonds. The boy attacked Taklishim as he spoke a potent incantation and this surprise attack caused Taklishim to mispronounce his words and then the world goes dark."
Helena and Zara on either side of me watched enraptured as Harry spoke, his hands motioning his words as he enticed my peers.
"Taklishim blacked out. We don't know what happens next, maybe even Taklishim didn't either but we know when he woke or came back he was no longer human. He was wearing the skin of the pelt he'd had covering his back. He was a wolf but unlike any he'd hunted before."
"He was like us?" Zara asked.
Harry grinned. "No you are like he was. He was a great creature, stronger than any other. Faster than the swiftest wind. But he believed himself a monster. Surely the demon boy had cast evil magic on him and caused this so for the safety of his family and tribe he fled to the woods. He ran and ran, he ran until he collapsed and his village was far, far behind him. Can you imagine what that must be like? For us now it is thoughtless, insignificant to run for a hundred miles, the travel from one end of the US to the other but back then it was... mind-blowing to traverse that much terrain in a single day!"
I can't tell who was enjoying this story more, Harry or the students. I smiled.
"He ran for days, Taklishim kept going until he was in place he had never imagined, new sights. New mountains, new fields, new rivers. He knew not how to become human again, he tried ceaselessly but nothing worked. After mourning the loss he'd begun to find a certain peace in his new form, the one he could not shed.
He had not seen another human face in months, years even. Time meant nothing to him now. That was until he met her. We don't know her name but I like to call her Ama which for Native American's means 'Water'. Taklishim stumbled across Ama as she bathed in a river just outside her tribe.
Now we can't be sure what really happened but the story goes that Taklishim was compelled to bite Ama and that when he realized his wrong doing he immediately fled for the forest.
It wasn't for many years later that he would be traveling those same forests again. When he did though it wasn't he who found her but she who hunted him."
"But we can't change humans into werewolves like vampires do." Zara interrupted.
"Very true but whose to tell what the first werewolf could do. How did our wolf population grow? What did Taklishim's magic and the vampire boy's attack do to Taklishim? It's just a story but who knows how thousands of years has evolved or changed our wolf blood. Only the Wolf Spirit really know."
"So Ama found Taklishim? Did she attack him?" Hillary asked leaning forward on her desk.
Harry shook his head and smiled, "Just the opposite. She was not human when she found him and the sight of another wolf as large and fearless as he, bounding for him, surprised him. What shocked him was the sight of a human child clutching tightly to the other wolf's back."
"She has a werewolf baby?" Hillary grinned.
"Yes and when the wolf stopped in front of Taklishim the boy slid nimbly from its back and in the blink of an eye the russet wolf became human. Like a shapeshifter." Harry waves his fingers with a smile, "It was then that Taklishim recognized Ama, the woman from the river. She spoke to him then, as though he was human himself and the sound of another person's voice felt strange to the silence he was accustom to. 'You are the wolf that attacked me that day, so many seasons ago.' When he did not change back like she had, she spoke again, 'You are human wearing the ancient wolf's form. Change for me as I have for you.' He finally shook his head. 'You won't or can't?' When he wrote his response into the dirt she understood.
'This is my son,' the young boy approach Taklishim like he was nothing but wind, 'his name is Waya.' Now does anyone know what Waya means?"
Now this was new to me. Never had my father told the story like this, with a young boy in the tale. This was not an answer I had and it would seem neither did any of my fellow students.
"Wolf. Waya means 'wolf' or that's what we've been led to believe. Ama told Taklishim that her son was born not as a human but as a wolf pup. That she was fleeing her village for the sake of her son because at her child's birth her husband grew furious with her betrayal. He thought she had been unfaithful, that she'd seduced a god with her beauty and in return he'd blessed her and her offspring with the wolf's shape.
From there on the rest is really history. They formed the first wolf pack, not quite as we know it now but in generations they were thought to have had their own children together and so on. And here we are."
Zara laid her chin in her palm and seemed to sigh, "That boy was a baby during his first turn. Damn, that must have been awful."
"It's a hard tale for everyone but there no telling what is truth and what's not. It's a tale we pass down and you can take from it what you will."
Harry's attentions went to the back of the class, behind me but when I glanced back Allen had already finished speaking. I looked back up front and found Harry looking at me.
"Allen asked, 'Where does the Wolf Tree on our backs come from?'"
I nodded, and mouthed a thank you. He smiled genuinely and continued, "So that's a very good question. We all know that each and every werewolf holds a Wolf Spirit inside them. They are ancient beings, powerful creatures from other planes that we shockingly know little about. They are what give us the strength and ability to change, to see and hear with incredible acuity. When we are in our mother's womb is when they bond to us, the spirit will wrap around us, along the spine, from base to neck then they mold themselves and be absorbed into our skin. It is believed that the Tree is the point of entry into our body and it's almost like a... birthmark, the Wolf Tree but it grows different for every wolf."
"Is it true that some werewolves can talk to their wolves? Like they're people?"
"Yes, it takes great strength of will but the ability of the werewolf and the wolf is potentially unlimited. There have been many cases in the world of werewolves doing spectacular things with their bonds. Projecting into dreams with their wolves, telepathic links, instantaneous changes from human to wolf and vice versa as well as seeing the future or the past. It is a power that the Wolf Spirit possesses but does not communicate to us lightly."
"Is the Wolf Spirit why werewolves live so long?" Zara asked beside me.
"It is what we assume. Werewolves have always been known to live into three centuries on averages, sometimes more, sometimes less but the specific origin of that ability is unknown to us."
Harry looks behind me.
"What's your question Hillary?"
I glanced back in time to see her asking.
"So I have a question. About True Mates. So if we live three hundred years, how does that work with True Mates? Will we live longer because True Mates bond their life forces together?"
I looked back to Harry, "Very interesting question but unfortunately no. So True Mates are a touchy and complicated subject. What does anyone know about True Mates?"
I don't know if it was for my benefit or not but as people around the room must have been blurt out thoughts Harry began writing them on the board quickly.
-There is only one true mate per wolf
-True Mates are for life
-True Mates can hear and feel each others emotions/thoughts
-When one dies so does the other
-The Wolf Spirit tells you if you're True Mates
-There is a large ceremony for Matings
"Is that it, everyone?" Harry asked as he turned back to us. "This is a great list. So most of this is true. The bond that a pair of True Mates share is beyond our understanding, it is something that transcends time and space and rebirths. There are only a few people that are really, irrevocably made for each other. There are myths, legends that tell when two mate see each other for the first time that they inexplicably know they are True Mates and that may be true but it isn't until the Spirits tell them that the ceremony and spoken rights form the bond that merges their life forces.
When two wolves are bound they become one. One soul, one mind, one life and in the end, when darkness covers them, they are one death. They, especially as they spend more time bonded, will share different abilities such as telepathy, having almost a GPS location on one another and always knowing where they are. They can feed each other their strength and power, when one is weak or injured and some have even been known to share each others wounds."
"That's scary." Helena says from my left.
"It is. Not everything about True Mates is gentle and sweet but if you ask any pair they wouldn't unbind themselves if they could. It is a werewolves greatest calling, to find their like mind. It means someone that would never hurt you, you would always have a friend, a lover, a confidante and in the time of death, you are never alone and that is sometimes what we can ask for most."
Harry's words were heavy and oppressive. I found myself distracted by what he said and the stories he'd told of people long gone as he continued answering student's questions.ns 188.8.131.52da2