by Karma Street
Echo is starring at death as a blizzard closes in on her. How will she survive?
Prologue: The Blizzard
The blizzard was here. This snow storm was one of the worst to ever be seen in the land. The snow was so thick it was impossible to see the very ground on which you walked on.
In the distance a lone wolf stumbles in the snow, her white, scraggly pelt covered in scars and old dried blood. Her body was thin from lack of nutrition, for hunting was already difficult during winter, but with the blizzard in full swing it was impossible. Death was inevitable.
Not only did she lack a pack, but with such a vicious storm threatening to be around for many more nights, there was no food around for her to eat. Death danced around her, cackling at her just as the snow and wind did. The she-wolf falls in the snow.
With no energy to get up she stares at the furiously blowing snow, her heart aching from the losses she had suffered in life. In her agony and possibly a last ditch effort to survive she lets out a howl so long and loud that even the raging blizzard could not drown it out. There was no way for the blizzard to bury such a heart shattering sound the same way it had buried the earth. This dying wolf let out a howl for her mate.
A mate she had never met nor ever seen, and yet, in the distance she heard not one responding howl but two. Two very male voices responded form two very distant areas in the forest to a song that reverberated in their hearts and forced a responding cry from their throats. Two brothers in arms and nothing more now had a new mission in life, to find and protect their newfound mate.
But, as their howls continued to fill the frigid night air, her voice faded and died out and they hoped against hope that the blizzard had simply drowned it out and not something much worse.
The scent of medicine and smoke hit Echo first as she slowly regained her senses, the buzzing sound that had been lightly ringing in her hyper sensitive ears grew louder and she realized that the sound was that of a large number of people chattering. Eyes springing open as she bolted up from the cot she’d lain in, Echo heard her own growls rumble throughout the room, eyes frantically searching for any threat.
Surveying the location, Echo realized that no one else was in the tent with her. Letting her growls drop from a full blown threat to a simple warning sound Echo tried to understand where she was, taking in all that was around her. She stood on a plain cot decorated in stark white sheets and a woolen, brown blanket. On her left sat a table with a pitcher of water, a glass, a bowl of soup, and a wash cloth. Around her were more cots, all of them empty.
Echo glanced up seeing that she was currently in a tent of an olive green color, and her growling stopped all together. Echo felt a wave of dizziness hit her as her body reacted to her sudden movements and instant adrenaline filled response. Reaching over to the table next to her Echo poured herself a glass of water trying to recall how she had arrived in this healer’s tent and steady her shaking nerves.
Taking a slow, shaky sip Echo thought hard to recollect. The last thing she remembered was passing out in the snow after hearing the calming, reassuring voices of her mates. Voices? Mates? That was plural. Didn’t most people only have one mate? How could one person have two? Echo was so lost in thought that she didn’t hear the rustle of fabric that signaled the entrance of another person.
“Oh! You’re up, how are you feeling?” The soft voice of the woman who entered startled Echo, making her drop the glass of water that she had been previously sipping on in her surprise.
Both women stood frozen, staring at one another, startled for completely different reasons as the sound of the shattered glass seemed to reverberate throughout the tent. From one instant to the next Echo was off the cot completely and pressed against the tent cloth, hiding in between her cot and the one next to it but keeping her eyes on the woman that had just entered. Head ducked low and a new low level growl pushed from snarling lips as she crouched low.
The intruder blinked slowly and then a frown creased her pretty face. The woman was small with long brown hair tied in a pony tail that hung on her left shoulder. Her light green dress brought out the deep, forest green of her eyes, and her eyes softened in compassion the longer she stared at Echo.
“Sorry sweetie. Did I scare you?” Walking over to Echo the woman bent next to her and grabbed her chin forcing Echo to meet her eyes, completely avoiding Echo’s teeth as she tried to snap at her.
“Hey, it’s okay. You’re safe here, no one is going to try to hurt you.” The woman, who was clearly a healer, put a small amount of dominance into her words hoping to reassure the poor battered, thin woman in front of her.
A flash of memory swept inside Echo’s mind as she stopped growling once again, swift and dark thoughts (describe memory), a reminder of how to treat those higher up than her. Flinching, Echo looked down and offered the woman her throat.
Letting go of Echo’s chin the female soundly ignored Echo’s show of submission. Turning away from Echo and leaving her in her cowering position on the floor, the woman walked over to a table next to the tent opening that Echo had missed in her earlier observations. Back still to Echo, the woman began working on what Echo assumed was some medicinal concoction and asking questions.
“You’re lucky we found you when we did. Any later and you’d be on your way to visit the great wolf in the sky. What were you doing out in the middle of such an awful snow storm anyway? And where is your pack, why would you be in the middle of someone else’s territory with no pack?” She returned her full attention to Echo, bowl in one hand, spoon in the other, as she stirred something that smelled awful.
Before Echo could even really process the questions, someone else walked into the tent. While the healer had been easy to miss, this person was impossible to overlook. His dominance smacked Echo’s senses first, and then his smell drifted toward her, overriding the awful smell coming from the healers bowl. Echo tried to get a good look at his face, but as she went to meet his eyes she saw a flash of anger run through them before she could register the color. Afraid her presence had enraged him, she stared hard at the ground, tucking her head even closer to her chest, hunching her back.
She heard the male growl and fear trickled through her gut as something warm dribbled down her legs. She heard the male begin to say words to the healer but was too scared to register what they were. As the two argued, the tension in the air began to thicken. Shaking hard as she pushed her self yet closer to the wall, Echo curled in a ball and smelled her own urine as she lost all sense, fear taking her over.
The arguing stopped as a whining sound softly emptied into the air. Echo, was far too gone to be mortified as she realized the sound was coming from her. She didn’t see the male and female turn to look at her, her dirty, ratty once-white hair shielding her from their forms. Images of beating, biting teeth, claws and growls running through her mind. The male was going to run her out, back into the blizzard.
Echo began shaking and shuddering hard as she thought of her options. She could either stay here and die by the jaws of the clearly more powerful wolf male or she could let them chase her back out into the blizzard where she would die a slow lonely death from starvation, dehydration and pneumonia.
Someone touched Echo and she yelped, jerking back as more urine escaped from her shaking body. Echo’s fear dominated her mind, senses, and soul. Too scared to feel the presence of yet another interloper.
The first male had been lean, yet powerful. Tanned skin hidden mostly by winter clothes. His brown hair falling just over his eyes, hiding the color but not the effect of the golden irises. However, the second male to enter the tent looked nothing like the first. A large male, with broad shoulders dressed in nothing more than a shirt, some jeans and a thick cloak. All of which were as black as his short obsidian hair. The only color that broke with all the black was his similarly tanned skin and the bright, ice blue eyes that held a deep, savage knowledge.
The new male took one look around the room, at the healer looking between him and the golden eyed male in concern. The golden eyed male kneeling on the floor between two cots, hand hovering above something pressed into the tent wall in front of him, the tent quivering in an unnatural motion. Then, taking another step forward he saw the small, white haired ball shivering on the floor in front of the golden eyed one. The scent of urine making his nostrils flare, her whines assaulting his ears.
Turning his attention momentarily to the golden eyed one, her raised a thick black eyebrow. The other male turned and looked at him in helpless frustration.
“She just suddenly lost it,” shaking his head, “nothing I say seems to reach her. It’s like she’s somewhere else entirely.” The golden eyed male ran his fingers through his hair, pushing the brown locks off his forehead.
The blue eyed male walked around the cot and looked down at the other male, who looked up at him in question but only stood and stepped back, making room. Sliding in the place of the golden eyed male, he stared down at the terrified female and made a decision that could end badly if it wasn’t the right one.
Bending down, he picked up the woman in one fell swoop and deposited her on the bed. Before she could realize what had just happened or try to scramble away, he removed his cloak and flung it over them as he lay down in the cot with her. As the cloak settled over them and the female wolf gained enough sense to try and get away, he wrapped both of his large arms around her.
Tucking her body into his, her chin under his head, he let her struggle for a few minutes before he relaxed his body upon her tiring. Keeping a firm but gentle grip on her, he evened out his breathing and closed his eyes, ignoring the scent of urine, blood, and filth that drowned out the woman’s natural feminine smell. He felt her continue to tremble, clearly waiting on him to do something harmful to her, but as the long minutes ticked by she seemed to realize he meant her no harm, either that or her exhaustion won out over her stubborn fear and she relaxed. Then, finally, his mate drifted off into exhausted sleep.
By the time Echo awoke again it was full dark outside. Eyes blinking open Echo held her breath for a couple of seconds as she tried to get her bearings. In front of her was a large black wall, even with her night vision slipping into place, all she could see was a huge blackness. Taking a deep breath she realized that the wall smelled glorious, dark meadows and freshly fallen snow. Snuggling closer, Echo had begun to doze once again when she realized with a start that the wall was breathing!
Pushing away Echo looked up to see who or what she was sleeping with, or at least that’s what she tried to do. The wall didn’t budge when she pushed at it and as she looked up all she could see was the throat of the male holding her in an iron clad grip. Struggling and squirming in the hopes of dislodging those arms all Echo managed to do was turn around and now had her back held up against the toasty warm wall even as her front became cold.
Sighing heavily, unsure how she had wound up in this situation, her eyes drifted shut; Echo heard a tentative clearing of the throat. Snapping her eyes open once again, she met the eyes of another male. By the scent that engulfed her, she recognized him as the first male that had entered the tent. Instantly lowering her eyes she made a sound of distress in the back of her throat.
“No! I don’t mean you any harm.” Earnest hands reached to caress her face even as she heard the anxiousness in the male’s voice.
Echo recoiled slightly but the hands stayed on her face, remained gentle. Raising her gaze hesitantly, Echo met golden brown eyes; she held her gaze there and was amazed to watch those eyes go from pure concern to stark relief. The male smiled, a brilliant thing to behold.
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to scare you earlier.” He leaned a little closer to her. He’d pulled one of the cots closer to the one she slept on, leaving only enough room for his legs to fit between the two beds.
“To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure what I did to scare you. But, whatever I did, I am sorry.” He stared closely at her face as if checking to make sure she understood him. Echo nodded, not sure what else to do with her entire body confined by two males she didn’t even know.
The male sighed, as if her nod took another weight off his chest. “My name is Lucas. The monstrosity of a wolf holding you is called Hunter.” Lucas said with a wry smile as if laughing at himself.
“I’m glad one of us was able to calm you down,” He shrugged, “I was at a loss and everything I did only made it worse.” Sadness now.
It amazed Echo how many emotions the male seemed to be able to host in a short period of time. So amazed, in fact, that she found herself staring at him, jaw slightly open. The male, Lucas, noted her reaction with the cock of his head.
Before Echo got a chance to try to form a response, the male holding her shifted, apparently coming awake. She could tell by the deep in hail of breath he took, so out of place with his earlier minimal amount of breathing. His waking up triggered her fear once again. For some reason, Echo had been fine wrapped in his arms as long as he was asleep, acting as a guarding barrier against the rest of the world.
She heard the horrible whining begin to pull from her throat and the shuddering started to take over again, but before she could slip all the way into her panicked state, she felt a wet tongue slide across her neck. Shocked out of her terror, Echo realized that Lucas was saying things to her in a deep, soothing voice.
“Shh, baby, no one is going to hurt you. We won’t let them. We’re here, it’s okay, don’t panic.” He had begun to caress her face and hair during his cooing. “I know you don’t trust us yet, that’s okay, we’ll give you time to come to know us and believe that we want what’s best for you. Just breath, that’s right baby. Breath.” Lucas kept petting her while Hunter held her, loosening his grip slightly so he could caress her hip.
The whine in Echo’s voice began to ease at their ministrations, the shudders slowing so she was only wracked with one every once in a while. As Echo relaxed further into their touch so did the males seem to take that as permission to coo and cuddle her more. Touching her skin, leaving trails of kisses along her flesh, uttering promises and comforts until Echo was shivering for a completely different reason.
Lucas smiled at her, another one of those brilliant smiles that brightened up his entire face, clearly pleased with her reaction. Hunter released her at last, slipping out of the bed, but leaving the large cloak he had thrown over them on her. Stepping away from the bed he walked over to the table that the healer had used earlier, blocking her view of what he was doing.
Sitting up, clutching the cloak to her body, Echo noticed for the first time that she was naked. A blush fell over her cheeks at the revelation and she looked down at the black cloth that was so big it fell over the edge of the cot to just barely miss touching the floor. Lucas brought her attention back to him by tucking her falling white locks behind an ear. Looking up at him she gasped at the way his gold eyes were glowing, telling how close his wolf was to the surface. So wrapped in the beauty of those heated eyes Echo missed what he said. Frowning at him, Echo cocked her head to the side in question. He apparently understood her gesture because he smiled at her and repeated himself.
“Your name, baby, what’s your name?” Hunter brought her a steaming bowl of food, the smell reaching her stomach before it hit her brain. The rumble confirming her hunger.
“Careful baby, its hot” Lucas placed a restraining hand on her shoulder when it looked like she was about to dive at the bowl like vultures on carrion. Which she was, it had been too long since she had last eaten.
Hunter sat on the bed, but instead of handing her the bowl he held up a spoon full of the soup to her lips. She glared at him, confused by why he hadn’t just given it to her. She was strong enough to feed herself.
At Lucas’s soft but inflexible “blow” she huffed, and blew on it before Hunter placed the spoon in her mouth. A moan tumbled from her mouth as her eyelashes fell in bliss. It might have been the best food she had ever tasted in her life. Swallowing, she opened her eyes, searching for the next spoonful. She was greeted with it, blowing again she opened her mouth and another moan filled the air. They continued this for good while.
Opening her eyes, she found that both males were looking at her intently now, eyes aglow in the darkness. Echo opened her mouth her again waiting for the next spoon, but after a minute realized none was coming. Looking over at the large male expectantly she watched him shake his head and set the bowl aside. Frowning again because she was still hungry, Lucas spoke.
“Not right now, baby.” He reached out and let his fingers down her arm. “If we give you too much to eat when you haven’t eaten in a long time, it could back fire and at best you get sick, at worst you die.”
Echo looked at him, then over at Hunter. She knew her next move wasn’t rational, but the groan of her stomach made her decision for her. With a lunge Echo dove for the bowl that was just past Hunter, but apparently the large male was prepared for that reaction. A thick arm flashed out and caught her about the waist. She tried to kick and hit him into letting her go, but none of what she did seemed to faze him.
Hunter simply dropped Echo back on the bed, brought her arms up above her head and let her wriggle about beneath his single-hand grasp. Echo had a flash back of being held down like that years before, the memory tainting the air with her fear. Echo began struggling harder, fear clawing in her gut.
Hunter felt the change in her immediately, almost before it truly happened. Leaning down Hunter began nibbling at her jaw, but Echo had switched into too much of a fear ridden animal for it to have any affect. She let out a feral snarl that was all wolf just before she attempted to bite him. Teeth snapping at his face and neck.
The male wolf in Hunter responded to its mate with a growl packed with a dominant reproof. Her body recoiled at the sound and she smelled even stronger of fear, her urine once again seeping from her body.
Hunter softened up, loosening his grip on her hands so that he wasn’t hurting her, but still held her tightly enough that she couldn’t wiggle free. Lowering his head once again, Hunter began lining her jaw with kisses, knowing he’d scared her with his behavior.
He would not allow her to hurt herself, in any way. He leaned back grateful that she was struggling less, that the scent of her fear was not so strong and yet it was still there. That he didn’t like. Focusing on Lucas he waited for the other man to say something to soothe her further. He knew one of them could soothe her, but she seemed to find more comfort when they both did it.
“Baby, calm down. I promise we’re not going to hurt you, but neither can we let you hurt yourself.” In her struggle to get free of Hunter, Echo had accidentally forced the cloak down her body revealing her naked flesh all the way to her navel. Lucas let the back of his index finger flow down from the valley of her breasts to her belly-button, enjoying watching her stomach muscles clench at his touch.
As he pulled his hand away, Echo stretched upward involuntarily, seeking out his touch. Hunter leaned back down again intending to kiss her jaw some more, seeing this Echo turned her face, presenting her jaw to him. Both men pulled back and looked at one another astounded by the mate they had been blessed with. In that moment both males shared a growl, the tune ringing out, the tent walls rumbling with the force of it, singing through the tent to call claim to their joined pleasure.
Both were about to take their affection to the next step, at the very least intending to bring their mate release, when Clarissa walked into the tent. The clan healer took one look at the scene they presented and instantly began to reprimand the two for their behavior.
“What exactly do you think you’re doing?” She exclaimed. “She is nowhere near strong enough for that!” Rushing over she shooed the two off of Echo, pulling the cloak back with the intention to replace it with a real blanket.
A hand on her wrist had Clarissa looking up to meet ice blue eyes. “Leave it” was all that the normally quiet male uttered. Nodding, Clarissa replaced the cloak, covering Echo in full and tucking her in in the process. The poor girl was still in need of a great deal of rest, that much was clear.
Stepping back, Clarissa let Hunter pick the girl up and deposit the poor thing on the adjoining cot. Turning away Clarissa went to the other side of the girl’s old cot and grabbed the pitcher of water and the wash cloth. Moving back around to the other cot, Clarissa waited for Hunter and Lucas to exit the tent, Hunter taking the bowl of soup with him, before she began to clean the other woman’s body.
The sharp tang of urine filled the air letting Clarissa know that something had transpired to make the girl strongly afraid again. As she methodically worked to clean the other woman, Clarissa felt a smile touch her face. Whatever had caused it, Lucas and Hunter had quickly squelched that fear and replaced it with a different response.
After cleaning the girl of urine, Clarissa began to eye the girl clinically. She had a bit of work to do. The poor child was in very bad health. Covered in bruises, cuts, and scrapes she also had a fever that was quickly rising. The where bite marks and scars on her legs, near her throat and if Clarissa remembered correctly she had several in her rear. The girl was malnourished to the point that her pones pushed out against her flesh, she was close to skeletal. The hair the splayed across the bed was dirty; she probably had lice, and ripped making it uneven. Clarissa could tell that it had once been white but it hadn’t been that color in so long there was a good chance that would never reach its old shade again.
Sighing Clarissa set about getting the girl back to health, it would take more than a few months to get her in good physical shape. What she had to do first would work better if the child didn’t struggle but luckily the girl had fallen back to sleep as Clarissa had cleaned her. Shuffling around the tent she prepped for the revival process, setting up the IV drip, grabbing a blanket to put over Hunter’s cloak and setting a trash bin nest to the cot.
As she worked Clarissa flashed back to when the girl had woken up, terrified and confused. She remembered the girl’s eyes; one iris was gold brown, the other glacial blue. Curiously Lucas’s eyes were gold and Hunter’s were blue. She wondered if that meant anything. Shaking her head to brush away the thought Clarissa settled in for a long night of hard work.