Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2312937-Finding-West
by JD
Rated: 13+ · Novel · Fantasy · #2312937
Chapter 5: Superb Genetics

With Hunter's casual stride across the fields, I'm left to unravel the mysteries that unfold before me, my mind racing through a tapestry of possibilities.

Initially, I thought saving Laken from her perilous fall accounted for her ability to navigate through the border. Her longing to locate me aligns with the narrative in the old folk tale. And given the depth of my feelings for her, Rida's explanation about being bonded feels entirely plausible to me. But now that Hunter’s arrived on our sacred land, I’m not sure saving Laken’s life has anything to do with her stepping into our world.

Can anyone enter now? I wonder. And who’s next?

I silently contemplate the potential threats as I stand in curiosity. To my surprise, Lindell, Laken and Rida join me, eager to leave the table.

Twitching his brow, Lindell asks, “Who is that?”

“It’s Hunter,” Laken states, subtly tilting her head. “One of my best friends.”

“But what’s he doing here?” He replies sharply.

“Probably looking for me,” she mumbles.

“This is bad,” Lindell continues, scratching his head nervously. “So anyone’s allowed in our village now?”

Rida gently places a hand on his shoulder and suggests, "Why don't you go get Crue so we can update him on the situation?"

“That’s a good idea,” he exclaims, bobbing up and down with the raising of his calves.

Watching Lindell take off in a hurry seems to release some of the anxious tension in the air. Of course, it helps that his comical scamper draws a laugh from Rida and a twitch of a smile from Laken.

“Hey there,” Hunter says cheerfully, approaching us in a pristine gray T-shirt and black shorts.

With a huge grin, Laken exclaims, "Hey. What are you doing here?"

“Looking for you. You disappeared on us," he says, glancing to me before extending a quick hand. "I'm Hunter."

I grasp his hand and utter, "West. This is Rida,” I explain, gesturing with the nod of my head.

“Nice to meet you both,” he replies.

“How did you find me?” Laken inquires, crossing her arms over her cropped yellow tee.

“Honestly, it was pure luck. I heard you get up this morning, and when you didn’t return, I started searching the camp grounds. Later, the rugged terrain, in case you felt like hiking off trail, which obviously you did. Eventually, I found your keychain in the woods, and it gave me hope that you were close.” He hands Laken a small item from his pocket, a miniature compass.

Clipping it on her pack, she explains, “It must have fallen off my backpack when I fell.”

“You fell?” I ask, my surprise clearly evident in my voice.

“Yeah, I had a scary run in with a wolf. It startled me, and I tripped.”

“A wolf? Really?” Hunter exclaims.

I anxiously take a breath, eager to find out which wolf approached her.

"Yes," Laken proceeds, "it had a beautiful platinum fur coat and dark chocolate eyes. It seemed aggravated at first—thought I might die for a second—but after it sniffed me, it took off."

In a trance, I softly utter, "Bree."

“You know the wolf I’m talking about?”

“Yes. She’s sort of a friend.”

Laken widens her gaze with her response. “Wow. How many wolves are you friends with?"

“Uh…” I stall my answer, glancing to Rida for help. She averts her eyes, pretending to see something in the dirt. “A few,” I go on. “You’d be surprised at how many hang around these parts.”

“What is this place exactly?” Hunter asks, peering down the dirt road of our humble community.

Rida finally speaks up, graceful in her delivery. “You’re looking at the Mantra village. One of six villages that make up our Eurasian tribe of people.”

With a piqued expression, Hunter says, "I’m officially intrigued.”

“Me too,” Laken adds.

I notice Crue approaching, accompanied by Kadence who holds a baby lamb and a bottle in her arms.

“She’s up early,” I suggest, glancing to Rida.

Grunting softly, Rida expresses, “That adorable looking baby has been keeping us up for days, refusing its mama and only taking the bottle.”

“Kadence is Rida’s granddaughter,” I explain, noticing the fascination on their faces, Hunters especially. With her long black hair cascading down her back, a contrast to her pale skin and striking bright blue eyes, she effortlessly captures everyone's attention.

“I can’t get him to eat,” she conveys to Rida, her keen eyes closing in on Hunter.

“Stubborn at birth, that one is,” Rida adds.

Crue's entrance into the conversation is marked by a lofty presence, his voice carrying a noticeable air of preoccupation. “West, would you kindly introduce me to our guests,” he states eagerly, his hands tugging at his forest-green, long-sleeved shirt.

“This is Laken and Hunter,” I say, feeling the weight of his critical gaze.

Shaking both their hands and introducing himself, he turns to me. "Can I speak with you in private?" I nod my head reluctantly as he addresses everyone else, "Excuse us for a moment," he adds.

As we stroll away slowly, I hear Rida ask, “Would you like to try to feed him?”

Laken's elated voice brings a smile to my face. "Absolutely yes," she exclaims.

With a good twenty feet away, Crue begins his interrogation. “Why do I get the feeling our guests are here because of you,” he articulates, folding his hands in front.

“I saved Laken from falling yesterday. I’ll spare you the details, but Rida claims we’re bonded now, and I believe her.”

Shaking his head in disagreement, he says with firm conviction, “Rida is mistaken. That legend only applies to our tribe.”

I’m quick to argue as my frustration escalates. “I know that I’m right about this Crue. I had very real, very intense feelings coursing through me immediately after saving her. She felt a strong connection too. That’s how she found me. You can’t tell me it all means nothing. That her finding me was all a coincidence.”

“It doesn’t matter,” he replies, a slight shrug to his shoulders. “Soon, they’ll both be gone, and we’ll never see either of them again.”

A hard swallow follows my panicked state of mind. I won’t allow Crue to brush aside my feelings for Laken. It’s simply not an option, I tell myself.

“I’m sorry you feel that way. But I’m not just emotionally connected; I'm certain about the strength of our bond and hopeful about our future together. If Laken wants to stay, then she stays,” I challenge, gripping my forearm.

His eyes widen as he absorbs my unexpected and resolute reply, his wrinkled face reflecting a mixture of astonishment and curiosity.

“Why don’t we table this discussion for now,” he remarks, resting his hands on his brown, loose-knit trousers. “The border is our main concern right now. I’ve already sent Trent to the Enoch village. Hopefully he succeeds in postponing the meeting with Bree and Giza. We can’t have them finding out about of any of this. Our entire pack is at risk West. We must find a swift solution to this issue before our entire world is in danger.”

Because I know he’s right, dread clings to me like a shadow, sending a palpable chill down my spine.

“I have an idea—a plan to test a theory,” I explain. “But I need you to trust me.”

“You find out if any more humans can enter our land, and I’ll be fine with whatever you need to do.” He offers a reassuring pat on my shoulder before graciously stepping away.

With my return to the group, I witness Laken, softly cradling the baby lamb. Her face wears a beautiful, radiant smile as she supports the lambs head, positioning the bottle so it can easily suck the nipple. It’s clearly a bonding experience, and one I enjoy watching. I realize then, that nothing brings me more joy than witnessing her happiness.

“You got him to eat," I murmur, running a hand over the side of my hairline.

Laken whispers with a gentle smile, “Yes and he looks so content.”

“She’s great with animals, just like you West,” Kadence remarks, tousling her hair with a gleam in her eyes.

I share an appraising glance with Laken, catching feelings of warmth and reassurance. “I can see that.”

“She offered to give us a tour of your village,” Laken shares with enthusiasm as the lamb loudly sucks the last of the milk.

“You should join us,” Kadence insists, her white sundress billowing in the breeze.

I chew on my lower lip before giving my answer. “How bout you give Hunter a tour while I borrow Laken for a bit.”

Right on cue, Hunter asks, “What for?”

“Research,” I respond, looking for disappointment in Laken’s face.

To my surprise, she carries the lamb over to Rida, then joins my side with the corners of her mouth lifting in a bright smile.

“We’ll be back before you know it,” I address them, leading us out in a leisurely pace.

“What’s this all about?” Lakin presses, doing that adorable hair-tucking thing again.

With a hint of nervousness, I clear my throat before speaking. "I need your help with something. Crue is worried that anyone can cross into our land. We’re going to test that theory with the help of your friends, or so I hope.”

“Alex and Morgan?” Her voice lifts in curiosity.

“Yes, I want to see if they can cross the border, just as you and Hunter did. You OK with that?”

“Yeah of course,” she answers, increasing our speed. “Just let me know when we cross the boundary line and I’ll call them. Hunter already tried his phone and couldn’t get a signal. Rida explained technology doesn’t work here.”

“True. No phones, no electricity, no power of any kind."

“That must be nice. No phones distracting you, telling you what everyone else is doing, or sharing every piece of bad news happening in the world.”

Shrugging, I say, “I wouldn’t know any different.”

As we enter the woods, I clear some fallen branches out of our path, tossing them into the tall grass. With my last hefty hurl of wood, I catch Laken’s gaze lingering at my arms, drawing a smile to my face.

In an attempt to flirt with her, I swiftly scoop her up and say, “your turn,” mimicking a pretend toss with a quick sideways motion. The sounds of her laughter and delighted squeals affirm my achievement. I gently set her down, lowering her athletic frame slowly in front of me. No words flow from either of us, only unwavering eye contact as my hands stay glued to her hips. She slowly extends a hand to my face, resting it on my cheek. Her touch sends a jolt of warmth and affection through me.

Sensing an invitation, I gently cradle the back of her head with one hand, drawing her neck closer as I lean in. I part my lips with a smile, eager to meet her half way, her gentle subtle flush indicating a touch of shyness.

As our lips converge, I apply a tender pressure, drawing her upper lip into a soft caress. She reciprocates, encouraging me to embrace more of her soft lips. A couple of innocent kisses later, and her hands glide to my neck, stimulating a sense of claim to me. In return, I cup her face with both hands, edging my tongue between her lips. She meets it with fervor and enthusiasm, engaging in a more passionate exchange as our tongues intertwine.

I playfully decide to tease her with a brief pause, allowing her time to miss my lips while also still feeling the warmth of them. When I return, the release of her tension is evident. Her soft little moan stirs excitement within me, but also prompts me to withdraw slowly.

“I think we got a little sidetracked,” she says coyly, a pinkish tint appearing on her cheeks.

“Not at all,” I explain, tucking a lock of her hair behind her ear. “You’ve become the highlight of my existence in less than twenty four hours. I think it’s only wise to navigate this with care and patience.”

“I don’t know what to say,” she replies with a radiant blush. “I only know that I want nothing more than to be near you, either at your side, or in your arms. You make me happy West.”

In response, I cradle her neck gently, pulling her close, and press a soft kiss onto her forehead. She envelops me in her embrace, and I encircle her with my arms.

“We should probably get going,” Laken says, breaking our lengthy hug. “I gather we don’t want Crue upset. That guy is really creepy by the way.”

I chuckle with my steps. “He’s not so bad.”

“If you say so,” she replies, moving ahead of me in a playful manner, as if it’s suddenly a competition to be in front of me.

I enjoy my view for a bit, appreciating her tight-fitting black shorts and shapely legs. Then I scoop her up at the waist and swing her around. But instead of releasing her behind me as I first intended, I lift her close and press a tender kiss to her temple.

Once I place her on the ground, she blushes at her spoken words. "How do you lift me so effortlessly?"

“Superb genetics,” I say, ambling beside her.

Casting me an approving glance, she affirms. “That's for sure.”

For the remainder of our hike, I inquire about her unique world. Having only observed from a campground and surrounding area, I have many questions. I keep them basic and simple, behaving as if I understand most of what she’s saying.

I learn her parents have a ‘convenient store,’ selling things people want and use every day. I can’t imagine such a thing, yet I envy the experience of it all.

I notice a sensitivity to Laken’s voice as she briefly mentions the negative side of owing a corner shop. Her vague security concerns cause me to raise a brow. Though once I press her on the matter, she quickly switches topics. That topic being my lips as I’m pressed against a tree by her unexpected embrace. I ensure to catch her off guard in reciprocation, lifting her bottom and wrapping her legs around my torso. Having her close, snug against my body, with her arms resting around my neck and shoulders, makes kissing her in this position even more appealing.

A soft stir in the woods prompts Laken to withdraw from my lips. “It’s only a squirrel,” I reassure her, confident in the sound.

Her face relaxes as I deliberately fixate on her lips. Slow to meet them again, I graze her mouth in a slow drawn out method, barely even touching her. I move to the side of her face, skimming her jawline and ear with the gentle touch of my lips. Though I sense her enjoyment, I also sense her impatience and transition to a firmer embrace.

I quickly become aware of the things she is fond of. Variety with a sense of rhythm. But the unmistakable ease to our kissing surprises me—trust, adoration and respect all flowing between us. Not once do I feel the opposite of those things. I suspect the same for her.

Soon enough, I find myself enveloping her mouth with more intensity, more tongue, relishing her sweet vanilla taste and soft groaning excitement. Even the kisses to her neck remind me of a sugary dessert.

Pulling back unexpectedly, Laken twitches into a smile. “Does being a skilled kisser also fall under the category of favorable genetic traits?"

“Apparently,” I mumble, kissing her cute button nose.

The way her eyes twinkle with a bit of mischief evokes a deep desire for greater intimacy. A desire to touch every part of her body. I capture her lips once more, eager to caress her tongue. Still grasping her bottom with firm hands, I adjust my grip with a gentle motion. As her legs entwine more tightly around me, I sense myself succumbing to a powerful temptation.

With much hesitance, I compel myself to decelerate, gently lowering her to her feet. “We got time sunshine,” I say, acknowledging her little pout.

After drenching myself with some of Laken’s water, I delve deeper into her life, and she eagerly opens up. In a couple of months, she embarks on her sophomore year in college, still undecided on her course of study. I’m impressed by her desire to learn and expand her knowledge, especially since our village archives are largely restricted. Only elders enjoy full access.

“OK, it’s your turn to answer questions,” Laken demands, leaving the big clearing behind.

"I'd love to, but we're here," I state, sensing a subtle change in the air. I recognize the area from yesterday, as I chased the falcon, then stumbled to the ground while sprinting across the invisible boundary line.

“Oh, already?” she replies, reaching to grab her phone from her bag. “I’m going to pin my location so they can find us. Then I’ll call them.”

I nod my head in agreement, despite being clueless with the terminology.

As Laken speaks on the phone, I cross my arms over my chest and think of ways to explain my experiment. It sounds crazy no matter how I word it in my mind. But how could it ever make sense? It’s an invisible boundary that blocks humans from a world of only werewolves. There’s no logic in any of it.

Catching my concerned gaze, Laken offers me a comforting smile. In return, I smile warmly, appreciating her natural beauty and considerate nature. Both make me feel honored to be hers.

With the end of her phone conversation, she ambles over to me, “You OK?” She asks, taking a hold of my arm, swinging it slightly.

”Perfectly content,” I answer, drawing her in for a brief hug and a soft kiss to the top of her head.

“Their estimated arrival time is forty minutes, but Alex thinks they can do it in thirty,” she explains.

“Sounds good,” I remark, relaxing my stance.

Peering to the ground, she asks, “How do you know where the boundary begins? I don’t see anything.”

“That’s because it’s invisible,” I respond, my fingers slowly tracing my jawline.

A subtle crease forms on her forehead. “Then how do you know where it is?”

“We have maps that guide us. However, as I cross over—“ I move forward a couple steps. “I immediately sense a change. The air transforms—dense, stale, and less pure.”

She kicks a pebble near my foot. “But what keeps people out?”

“I don’t know,” I answer honestly. “It’s a mystery I’ve learned to accept. Until today, I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to find our village.”

“Maybe no one ever tried,” she offers naively.

I smile at her suggestion, wishing I could explain all the facts to her. But in order to do that, I’d have to explain what I am, and I’m not ready to tell her. Not yet.

A pleasant rhythmic tune echoes in the air, alerting my senses. “Did you hear that?” I ask, my head tilting to the North.

She lowers her head and twitches her nose. “I don’t hear anything. But I do smell someone’s musky cologne.”

“There’s a hiker nearby,” I say, jutting my jaw to the left.

Growing louder, the whistling and soil crunching catch Laken's attention, causing her eyes to light up with anticipation. A middle aged man dressed in neutral-toned clothes and well-worn boots strolls merrily through some nearby vegetation.

“Hey!” Laken calls out, taking me by surprise. “Can you come over here for a sec?”

I raise an eyebrow, concern and curiosity battling it out. “What are you up to?”

“Why wait for Morgan and Alex when we have another person here right now?”

The man adjusts his seasoned backpack as he approaches. “Hi there,” he expresses with a grin and a sweaty upper lip.

“Would you mind helping us with something?” Laken asks, her tone extra sweet.

“Sure, whatcha need?” He steps closer, appearing smitten by my radiant girl.

“Could you walk in that direction several feet?” She points.

Squinting his eyes in uncertainty, he complies, walking somewhat animated, swinging his arms in exaggerated steps.

“It looks like he crossed without any trouble,” she declares, her expression slightly dissatisfied.

“This world doesn’t end where mine begins. It continues on,” I explain, “His steps haven’t proven anything yet.”

“I don’t know what you’re trying to prove, but I can tell you this,” the thoughtful man begins. “If I were to keep going in this direction, I’d be at Grant Farm in about an hour or so. That’s a trek I’ve made a time or two.”

“Wait—so how are we supposed to know if he’s in your world?” she inquires, tucking her hair as though she's unsure about the validity of her question.

“Stand next to him,” I request, gently placing a hand on the curve of her back.

Hesitant with her steps, she obeys, tilting her head in confusion.

“Whoa!” The man exclaims. “Where did she go?”

Laken’s sky-blue eyes grow wide in astonishment as she announces, “I don’t see him anymore.”

Peering around in disarray, the hiker continues to search, yet is unable to hear or see Laken. “What kind of magic trick is this?” He cries out, meeting my gaze with a mixture of amazement and apprehension.

“A short one,” I answer him.

“Why can’t I see him anymore?” Laken cuts in. “I can still see you, but not him.”

I advance forward, angling myself beside her. “He’s in your world, not this one,” I answer confidently.

“I’m utterly confused,” she starts to frown. “What happens when he crosses back over?”

“Just wait,” I encourage, my arm enveloping her as my hand finds a resting place at her hip.

A moment later, the small statured man returns to his side of the boundary, his loud curse word echoing through the horizon as he struggles to make sense of our disappearance. Distress continues to span over his face, words of anxiety spewing forth. “Nope, I’m not going nuts. This can all be explained. Breathe Wayne, breathe. Hey! You’re not actually both gone, right?” He yells out, spinning in a circle, anxiously waiting for us to reappear. Laken and I stand still, each wearing contrasting expressions — hers a look of concern, mine one of relief — as we observe the flustered man before us. “Forget these kids, I’m outta of here,” he carries on, hasty with his departure.

Laken takes my hand, her eyes wide with wonder. “You really do live in another world,” she says with emphasis.

I raise her hand to my lips and press a kiss to its back, pleased with her realization. “And now you’re a part of it.”

The warmth in her face transitions to curiosity, intensifying her gaze. "But how am I a part of it?" she asks, meeting my eyes. "And how does Hunter fit into all of this?"

“I’m not sure,” I admit with regret.

For a moment, uncertainty hangs in the air. Thoughts of losing her race through my mind. Will she be a part of my world forever? Or is this all temporary?

“We’ll find out together,” she says, instilling hope and optimism back to my soul.

Embracing her closely, I murmur by her ear, "We most certainly will.”
© Copyright 2024 JD (jillrjy2k at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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