“Please tell me you brought popcorn, and―for the love of all things carnal―please tell me we are going to get some yummy details because it is your job to educate us younger chickadees,” Jen purred.
“All you have to do is ask, Alina, and I’ll use some of my magic on her,” Sally said smiling sweetly. “I’ll knock her right out.”
“Uh, Sally dear, you do remember that thing you were asking me about? That certain position…,” Jen asked as her eyes narrowed.
“You wouldn’t,” Sally warned.
“You know me better than that,” Jen smiled. “I most definitely would.”
“Crap, sorry Alina, you’re on your own,” Sally said absently as she leaned back into the chair she had commandeered.
“Why don’t we all get settled down for the night? Go wash your faces, shower if you need to, and then meet back in front of the fireplace. Though we don’t need it for warmth, I’m sure Sally can conjure us up one simply for ambience,” Alina suggested.
Once the girls were back gathered around the unnecessary, yet somehow appropriate, fire― surprise! hot chocolate in hand―Alina took her place on the floor by the hearth. She took in their eager faces and then let her mind wander back to a time long ago, a time when Canis lupis packs were still recovering from the great werewolf wars. Their magic was growing weaker because the fae had retreated to their realm, no longer offering aide to the supernaturals in the human realm. Children born to their race were few and far between and most did not survive because there were no healers to ensure the birth went smoothly. It was a trying time, a scary time with the future of their species uncertain. The Great Luna, their Creator, seemed to have turned them over to themselves as they warred with other packs instead of working together and building unity between themselves. But though it had been a time of uncertainty, Alina had hope for the canis lupis. Something inside of her told her that if she would just be patient, just not give up, they would someday soon see their race restored. But she had no idea just how pivotal her role in such a change would be.
“I will begin with the year I met him; it was 1800,” she began. “I lived on a farm in the hillsides of the Transylvania Mountains with my parents. My village was called Solca. We were a poor outer Provence of the Eastern Romanian pack. My father was not dominant enough to be in the Alpha’s top group, so he fought only when called upon. The rest of the time he was a blacksmith.”
“Alina, it is time for bed.” Alina heard her mother’s warm voice from where she lay in the forest only meters from her home. Fifteen years old and her mother still felt the need to treat her like a child. She endured it because she did live in their home, ate their food, and used their things, but she was more than ready to find her mate so she could have a home of her own to tend and pups of her own to put to bed. Her mother, of course, reminded her constantly that she was not of age, and even if she did find her mate, he could not claim her―not yet. Most girls if they found their mates young would be claimed at eighteen, but her father had said that was still too young, especially if her mate was a dominate. He told her twenty was the magic number. When she was confident in who she was as a female and could hold her ground with a dominant, then she would be ready for her true mate.
Her mother’s voice rang out again. She could have predicted it down to the second when she would begin calling for her. But for some reason that night she was reluctant to return home. As she lay on the plush vegetation that so readily welcomed her and stared up at the bright moon in all its glory, she felt a pull to stay, to wait. She felt a whisper on the wind as it tickled her skin and caressed her hair. Her eyes widened in anticipation because she knew something was coming and not just for anyone but for her. Whether it would be that night, or another, she knew that something great was in store for her.
Alina’s friends and even her own mother had always said she spent too much time with her head up in the clouds. Her grandmother used to joke that for a village girl her shoes were much too clean. She would just laugh them off and continued on her own way, because there was no way to explain to someone else that you knew you were meant for greatness. She wasn’t arrogant, just sure of her future, even though she wasn’t sure how it would all come about. She understood perfectly well how haughty that sounded, but she also trusted the Great Luna, her Creator, and she would never forget the day that she showed herself to Alina only a few months earlier.
Alina had wandered out further away from her home than usual and ended up in a field in the forest. The Great Luna’s glory and her goodness had been enough to drive Alina to her knees, and yet she had helped her up from the ground, and with a touch of her hand, her clothes and shoes were as clean as if they’d never seen a minutes worth of dirt. She had looked Alina in the eye and said, “Be ready child. The one I have for you comes with much darkness and much baggage, and he will need your goodness. For without you, his darkness will rule and he will destroy the Canis lupis race. Be strong. I will never leave you or forsake you. You only have to ask and I will be there. This task I have given to you because you are his other half. You are his light and he is your gravity. He will keep you planted on the ground when need be, but he will also raise you up when it is safe.”
Alina closed her eyes at the memory of the Great Luna telling her about her mate. She had thought that meant that her mate would be showing up within a matter of days, but now, several months later, still nothing. She tried not to grow bitter as she heard of others finding their own true mates, but she wasn’t about to lie and pretend it was easy. She wanted to be a mate; she wanted to be something to her male that no other could be. But waiting never had been her strong suit.
She laid there for several more minutes until finally she heard her mother’s footsteps and knew she would have to go. She stood up and brushed off her dress and looked up at the moon. “Same time tomorrow?” No, she didn’t expect the moon to answer back, but then, she was a werewolf, anything was possible.
Romanian Proverb # 2
Nu haina îl face pe om.
Clothes do not make the man.
“It’s been less than a century since I lost my brother,” Vasile said as he paced the large room that had been his father’s meeting hall. “How am I to deal with the loss of my parents, my Alpha, so soon after such a tragedy? To think, three members of the same bloodline are gone, within a century of one another, and this after my parents survived the 1712 werewolf wars, not to mention the loss of our last gypsy healer.”