by Karma Street
Continuation of Echo's Journey
| Lucas was on patrol, checking for any intruders and the possibility that someone was hunting for his mate. He’d always imagined how he would meet his mate. It would be at one of the trade party’s where packs converged to keep the bloodlines from ever becoming stagnant while making sure that goods and services had a healthy flow throughout all regions of wolf kind. |
He would run into her and they’d both know in an instant that they were meant for each other. After he’d courted her thoroughly he would’ve introduced her to her family and his sisters and mother would fawn over her, making her feel welcome. They’d settle down in his clan, have a litter of pups and grow old together.
Well, hadn’t life just smacked that dream into the snow? He could never have imagined this was how he’d meet the women he was going to spent the rest of his life with, much less that he was going to have to share her with another man.
Cloaked in his wolf form to block the cold, Lucas had to hold a tight grip on his control to keep from going on a run. He had a job to do and he would do it. Scenting the air he caught the fading scent of his mate, her blood leaving a smell that the snow hadn’t been able to wipe out easily. He’d upon the spot they’d found her in. Lucas had beaten Hunter here only because he was closer and a little faster that Hunter when it came to speed.
They’d both been terrified that she was gone before they had ever gotten to know her but after a thorough check on both their parts it had been made clear that, while breathing very faintly, she was still breathing. Lucas never wanted to feel that type of terror ever again. Panting Lucas moved on to his next patrol sight.
After finishing his patrol with no issues to report Lucas stopped by to check on his still nameless mate. She was still fast asleep and being taken care of by a medical assistant, a female one. Lucas felt his lips twitch in a smile; no one could call Clarissa a fool. If it had been a male even Lucas’s tight control wouldn’t have saved whatever male dared to touch his mate without his permission. His or Hunter’s. He found himself sighing again, he was going to have to get used to that. Leaving the medical tent Lucas went to report in to his alpha.
Richard Peterson had been the Glacial Forest pack leader for over ten years and he was doing a pretty bang up job in Lucas’s humble opinion. Glacial Forest had over a hundred werewolves in it and the majority of those wolves came from long standing family groups, each having their own hierarchy but all answering to Ric.
Lucas’s family was one of those groups, he and his father being the only males old enough to rule. Lucas’s dominance over reached his father’s, but since Lucas was third in command of the whole pack his father was still alpha of his family group. That took him almost out of the family entirely; luckily his father loved him enough that he hadn’t pushed Lucas out to reestablish his dominance. In exchange Lucas let his dad make all family decisions unless he’d been given direct orders from his alpha.
When Lucas walked into the alpha’s two story home he was greeted by several of his pack mates. The alpha’s home was more like corporate office than an actual house. People moved about with documents, on phones making business calls, or handling pack issues.
“Yo! Luc ma man, I heard you found yourself a mate.” A dark brown arm hooked around Lucas’s shoulders, pulling him into a sideways hug.
“Oh, and which of my mouthy sibling blabbed that?” Lucas turned a wide smile onto his high school friend, Michael Forps. The man was thin as a rail but had lean muscle, tall enough that he over shadowed Lucas by a good four feet.
“Mary.” Michael said with a flash of white teeth
Lucas snorted and shoot his head, that didn’t surprise him at all. Mary was by far the worst gossip in his entire family, and that said a lot.
“So spill man, what’s she like?” They walked awkwardly as Michael kept a lock around Lucas’s neck.
“I don’t know, she’s too scared to talk to me and that’s when she’s awake, which a rare occasion.”
“Wait, that chick you guys brought in is your mate?” Michael let go of Lucas as they reached the alpha’s office to stare at him in surprise.
“Yeah. Funny right?” A rueful smile fell across Lucas’s face. He and Michael had been close enough that he knew Lucas’s dream of how he’d meet his mate.
“Dang man, I’m sorry. Is she alright?”
“Not yet, but she will be.” Lucas would accept no other possibility.
His friend grinned at him, hearing the steel in his voice. “Well, when she’s up to it I’d like to meet the girl who took on the hardest blizzard in history.” With Lucas’s promise to introduce them Michael left.
Lucas entered Ric’s office to find him filling out paper work at his desk. He chuckled at the mundane image. This man ruled over one of the largest groups of werewolves and there he sat fiercely doing paper work. At Lucas’s laughter Ric looked up from his paper work.
“Lucas, I heard you found yourself a mate.”
“I’m gonna glue all of Mary’s lipsticks together.” He said blankly. “Maybe they will teach her what it’s like to keep her lips shut.”
Ric burst out laughing, knowing an old sibling threat when he heard one. “Probably won’t work. At most it’ll spark a war and I want no repeat of you lots high school days.”
“I seem to remember a certain someone who was a part of those wars.” Lucas raised his eyebrow at his alpha. They’d been friends a long time.
“Yes but now I can’t pick sides, I just get to clean up the mess you and you kin make.”
Lucas shrugged. “No war is neat and pretty, and there are always casualties.”
Ric shook his head before standing and coming around the desk to lean his hip on it. “So, is it the girl you and Hunter brought in?”
“Yeah, only she’s Hunter’s mate as well.” Lucas stared as the wall behind Ric’s head. He had thought he’d come to terms with that reality but apparently it still rubbed his fur the wrong, if the tightening in his gut was anything to go by.
Ric sucked in his breath as understanding hit him. Walking over he rested his hand on Lucas’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze before he moved away. “Hunter has always been a bit of a loner, amazing given the size of the pack. How is he taking it?”
“I don’t know,” Lucas said with a shake of his head. “we only speak to one another when it has to do with her and even then Hunter isn’t much of a talker.”
Ric grunted in agreement, opened his mouth to say something when his phone rang. Lucas began to pace as Ric responded, halting only when he gathered a feel for the conversation. Hanging up the phone Ric turned to him.
“We have a situation in the business district; can you handle it for me?”
“Yeah, I need something to take my mind off this for a little bit anyway. I’ll see you at the meeting later?”
“Mm, see you at eight.” With that Ric returned his attention to his documents.
The business district was less that an actual district and more of a series of shops lined along a long stretch of street. When Lucas reached the area with the situation it was to discover that the festival held in by a few of the towns folk had been interrupted by a thief. Usually enforcement would have handled the situation only somehow the situation had escalated to a family feud.
The silver back wolves and the red mountain wolves had long since held a very tentative truce after Ric had stepped in to end their long standing hatred for each other, now that had been a rough fight with a lot of political moors to get through. By the time it was all over Ric had left each family with two choices, either fall under his rule or leave his land.
As it was the families were still touchy and tended to use any excuse possible to blame each other for some perceived slight. When Lucas got there there was a screaming match going on that was on the verge of escalating into a full blown fight. Lucas listened for a time to get a feel for where they were in the argument. It didn’t take him long to realize they had forgotten about any thief and were digging up old dirt about each other.
Lucas stepped into the fray and let out a vicious growl, unleashing his usually well contained dominance. Both sides instantly stopped yelling at one another. Lucas counted head, the silver backs had about twenty pack members on their side and the red mountain wolves had only eight but red mountain wolves were known for their for their sheer size so despite their numbers the playing field was even.
“Enough, you all have made a mockery of this event and I want all of you to go home.” An uproar answered his command. Lucas snarled, his claws extending in response to their refusals. “If you have problem with that send out your strongest fighters and I’ll hear your complaints before I remind you all of your place.”
Rolling his shoulders Lucas felt his typical friendly smile slide into place. “No takers? Well then I expect both sides to pick one member as a representative so that each side may vent their concerns with the alpha.” Lucas paused, thinking. “Actually, you and you are to come on Wednesday at ten am. That way there are no cries of unfairness.”
He looked between the two clans, each protesting but not as vehemently as before. Then they all just trickled away until there were only a few stragglers and after a patient stare down from him even they left in a hurry. After they all left he was swarmed by store owners as they rushed to thank him. No matter how many times he tried to explain that he was just doing his job that still insisted on thanking him.
Engulfed in the crowd Lucas almost missed Hunter as he passed by dark and silent. Extracting himself from the gathering Lucas trailed after Hunter, not calling out to him until they were in a less populated area of the town. Hunter turned, looking unsurprised to find Lucas behind him.
“Can we talk?”
Hunter raised that thick eyebrow, he seemed to always do that Lucas found himself think absently. “Yeah, I know you’re not much of a talker but I know you can and its about our mate.”
Hunter regarded him for a moment before turning and walking away. Lucas’s hackles rose as he realized he was supposed to follow the large male, but he pulled it back knowing that part of his anger was just residue from the promise of a fight.
He caught up to Hunter, following him first to the healing tent as they checked on their mate, she was still asleep, and then to Hunter’s home. Unsurprisingly it was sparsely decorated, however what did surprise Lucas was that the few pieces of artwork and furniture that littered the tiny house were all famous pieces and highly coveted decoration. The furniture was all plush and comfortable looking; he had rugs that looked soft and well taken care of. In fact the whole house was rather immaculate. It appeared Hunter was a sucker for comfort,
At his questioning glance Hunter just shrugged before walking him into the living room, gesturing Lucas to sit. Choosing an armchair as his battle ground Lucas settled in for a rough conversation. Hunter left after Lucas sat and came back with a couple of beers. Hunter sat on the couch across from Lucas and leaned back, clearly relaxed in his own territory. Only a long coffee table separated the two of them.
Hunter eyed the other male, his muscles relaxed to make him appear at ease, even if he was anything but. The other man was too flashy for his tastes and too talkative. Talk, talk, talk, the man’s mouth could run a mile a minute. But, Hunter had to admit that the man was only good for talking. Hunter had watched the situation earlier, prepared to jump in and help should he be needed. He was sure the third in command of the Glacial Forest pack could take care of himself but it was a part of Hunter’s job to protect pack.
More importantly their mate would have been worried if the other male had gotten hurt and Hunter saw no need for her to be worried. She needed to rest and get better, not be worried. Taking a swig of his beer he waited for the other male to start the conversation, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to hold his need to talk for long. So they sat in silence for some time, each waiting for the other to speak. Naturally Hunter won.
“So, we both have the same mate.” Hunter gave the other man a blank stare. He was pretty sure that that was one of the most obvious observations he’d heard in a very long time and if that was the other man’s opening statement then this was going to be more painful than he had originally anticipated.
Lucas sigh and took a gulp of his beer before standing to pace. “What are we gonna do about it? I mean I don’t know about you but I’ve never heard of a mating like this, especially not with wolves.” He gestured, sweeping his hands to encompass the room as if there were several other males in the room.
“Do we fight each other to see who get to keep her?” Hunter felt his wolf snarl and had to put his beer to his lips to keep it from showing. He would beat the other male to death before he let him take his mate from him and that, he was sure, would make her sad. He would not have her sad. “Or do we suck it up both just be mated to her.”
Lucas paused in his pacing to look at Hunter; Hunter supposed that was his cue to answer the other male. “Both of us will mate her.” Was all he said but the look on Lucas’s face said that that hadn’t been the answer he was looking for.
“Both of us? Just like that huh.” The other wolf’s eyes glowed as his face contorted into an incredulous expression.
“Yes.” Hunter sipped at his drink.
Lucas threw his hands in the air, his frustration coating the air. “Well then, I’m so glad we had this conversation.” He stared at Hunter as if waiting for something, so Hunter put his beer down on the coffee table. “Come on! You must have some issues with this. Concerns? Problems? Anything!?”
“You’d give her up?” Hunter asked simply. Lucas gave him another look, this time it was complete rejection. It was amazing how many expressions the man could fly through in a short period of time.
“Me neither. What do concerns matter when we have an injured mate to focus on. We make this work or we lose her.” Hunter didn’t see where the situation was that complicated.
It was clear to him that their mate need the both of them, together. That first night had proven that to him, all that was left was to convince her that she had the both of them. For life. Lucas took a moment to reflect on his words, wandering around Hunter’s living room and Hunter had to control his instinct to stand and keep an eye on the male as made his way behind the couch and consequently Hunter’s back.
“Well I guess when you put it like that we don’t really have much of a choice in the matter.” A pause. “Dude, you have The Iliad? Have you read it?”
Hunter turned to look at the male stretching his arm along the back of his couch, not bothering to answer him. He wouldn’t have it if he hadn’t read it. Shrugging at his non response Lucas continued to browse his bookshelf.
“So do we court her?” Lucas pulled another one of his books from the shelf and started to skim its contents.
Hunter grunted in a non-committal answer. He intended to court her but he wanted her at fool strength, not to convince her to mate with him because even she had to realize they were a given. No it was more to get her to stop being afraid of him. It was clear their mate had some major scars and trust was the one thing that might get her past them.
“Alright so I’m gonna take that as a ‘court her if you want to’ sound.” He shrugged again “Works for me.” Glancing at his watch he slid the book back in place. “I've got to head.” He walked back around the couch, grabbed his beer and finished quickly, before he shot out the door.
Hunter grabbed both bottled of beer, his half-finished, a took them into the kitchen. Tossing Lucas’s, he nursed his own as he thought of ways to court his mate. Most of the things that occurred to him would have to wait until she was up to moving around but there were a few things he could get her that would get his foot in the door.
Hunter went to the front, locking it, and then headed to his room for some light reading before sleep. Tomorrow Hunter would go hunting.
Echo woke up some days later if her nurses were telling the truth. When she’d woken up her heart had been pounding in fear and there were tubes her arms that she desperately tried to rip out before one the of the healer’s assistance had stopped her and explained that the tubed were keeping her alive.
After Echo had calmed down, her heart rate slowing so that she could other things besides its frantic beating she’d her one of the girls that tended to her tell her that she had a gift. She felt her wolf perk up, ears on point as she looked around curiously. Echo spotted an array of colors next to her cot. Flipping back the covers, clutching the IV pole for support, it took her a moment to remember she was naked but at a quick glance down she saw that she was clothed in a loose fitting yellow dress. Someone had dressed her while she’d been asleep.
Turning her attention back to her present Echo reached out a tentative hand to finger lightly at the petal of a bright blue flower. She’d been given flowers, of all colors and shades. Some solid, others blended and they all rested in an intricately designed ice blue vase. On the vase snowflakes floated to the base.
“Aren’t they gorgeous?” Said the girl who had introduced herself as Cynthia. “They’re from Hunter.” At Echo’s startled look the girl nodded in agreement as though Echo had said something. “I now right! He doesn’t look like the type, all big and scary, but then he goes and does something like this.” The girl let out a wistful sigh and Echo felt an acidic emotion bubble up. Not sure what it was she decided to ignore it for the moment.
“That’s nothing.” Said another one of the nurses, a girl about the same age as the first named Nanette. “Do you see what Lucas brought? This isn’t cheap.” Lifting up the skirt of the dress she displayed it for the other girl.
While they debated over which gift was better Echo was overwhelmed with astonishment. She was being courted by two males…at the same time? Shaking her head Echo focused back on reality just enough to realize that she’d been asked a question. Cocking her head she frowned.
“Sooo? Which one is better?” Nanette asked her
“Yeah, Lucas or Hunter, who has the better gift?” Cynthia asked her excitedly. Echo glanced between the two girls, not sure how to answer, because in truth they were both wonderful gifts. However, Echo was still trying to wrap her mind around the situation. Thankfully she never had to answer the two girls because Clarissa came in at that moment.
“What is she doing out of bed?” Clarissa rushed over, ushering Echo back into the cot and tucked her firmly back under the covers.
“She wanted to see her presents and we thought it might be good to see where her muscles were as far as strength. It seems that in the days that she was asleep she didn’t lose much of her muscle mass. If we walk her daily and help her body get accustomed to moving again, than she might be fit to interact with the pack rather quickly.” Nanette gave the rundown of her observation in a medically removed voice; nothing close to the giggling and squealing she’d done moments before.
“Be that as it may if we mover her too suddenly she’ll collapse and we’ll be right back to square one.” Clarissa reprimanded lightly.
“We were both with her for every step of the way, we monitored for a chance of collapse.” Cynthia responded.
Echo was pretty sure they were just covering for their nosiness, but Clarissa nodded her understanding before she explained to Echo how they were going to get her back in ‘fitting shape’ as she like to call it.
“First we will get you back on solid food, you’re safely enough away from starvation that we can feed you without fear of your stomach popping.” Echo must have made a funny face because Clarissa started laughing.
“Oh don’t worry, we’ll keep monitoring for that possibility.” Cynthia told her as if trying to calm Echo before she started panicking. And it did help.
“Next well work on rebuilding your muscles, they’re nowhere near what they need to be. After we’ve done that I’ve give you a routine check and then I’ll write you a clean bill of health. Any questions?” Clarissa asked gently.
Echo shook her head. Clarissa nodded and then turned toward Nanette and Cynthia. “Go get Hunter and Lucas, please.” Both girls had left when Clarissa turned back to Echo. “They asked to be informed the second, no the moment, you woke up.” Smiling reassuringly she patted Echo’s hand and headed out of the tent.
Both males arrived around the same time, and they didn’t take long to reach her, but by the time they got to Echo she had worked herself up into a panic attack. Why did they both want to see her, the healer could just tell them she was fine. They were both so dominant it was almost suffocating. Echo picked at the bed covers, not looking into either of the males’ eyes and tried her hardest not to start whining again.
Hunter and Lucas approached her simultaneously, Hunter coming around to her right side and Lucas staying on her left. The both sat on the cots next to her bed and just stared at her. No one said anything for several long minutes and so pressure built. It got so bad that Echo was shaking again, shivering from their attentions and not sure what to do about it. Still no one said anything but she picked up on the scent of male frustration, a spark of anger and suddenly she couldn’t hold it anymore. A whine slipped out of her throat before she could pull it back.
“Shit. Hey, it’s alright, no one is mad at you.” She tucked her chin closer to her chest wanting to hide. Lucas blew out a breath. “Do you like the dress?”
Echo remembered that she was wearing the pretty yellow dress he’d given her and nodded. It was really pretty.
“And the flowers? You like the flowers Hunter got you right?”
She nodded again. The flowers and the vase they sat in were beautiful and the petals were soft to the touch, like they would melt with the heat of her fingers.
“There, that’s better.” She looked up, startled by his comment. He gave her a mischievous grin. “You’ve calmed down a bit.”
With a flush of surprise Echo realized he was right, she was calmer now. Hunter lifted a hand and brushed her hair off her face, his finger sliding along her cheek in the process. Echo glanced at him but saw not anger in his eyes at her nerve for looking him in the eye. He actually seemed to relax. Echo’s wolf wagged a little at his sign of acceptance.
Lucas reached over and grabbed her hand, clutching it in one of his own larger ones and caressing it with the other. They all sat like that for a long time, no one saying anything, just touching and being touched. Their petting went on for so long that Echo began to doze again. The last thing she remembered was Hunter laying her all the way back in the bed and Lucas covering her with blankets.