AN: Hello darlings! Finally a chapter for you :-). Sorry about the delay. Next weekend I finally get to post my FAGE story. I still can't say much, but it is a COMPLETE story that I'll post next Saturday.
Now, I got a review that got me thinking a little, so quite a bit of this chapter is a small history lesson and explanation to my little alternative universe. I hope you enjoy it. We are just a few chapters short away of the ending of Book 2, folks. And it will be a cliffhanger!
Stay with me! I promise it will be good!
A brief explanation of Pack history in this series
The universe in this series is influenced by quite a few different legends taken from a variety of cultures around the world. Because I am Norwegian, it's natural for me to bring in some Norse Mythology, however, the Quileute legends also play an important role. I know my wolfpack is very different from the Twilight world and I hope I am able to give you a little more insight into my universe through this short explanation. I won't go into too much detail, but if you've seen some of the Marvel movies you know a little about the different deities in Norse Mythology (ex. Odin, Thor, Loke). I'm no expert on this subject, but I have really loved researching and drawing inspiration from these incredible legends in building my own alternative universe.
The birth of the earth was both violent and bloody. The first created being was a giant (jot) by the name of Aurgelmir. Aurgelmir was killed by the gods and his body was used to create the earth (Midgard). Odin (the supreme god of Asgard) and his two brothers (Vili and Ve) created the first man (Askr) and woman (Embla) out of tree trunks found on the seashore. Each god gave the humans a few gifts: life, understanding, senses and outward appearance. In my universe, they also gave them the ability to connect with an element, making them the first witches. Askr was a Water Witch and Embla an Earth Witch. Over time the gods saw that the humans were given too much power and took away their ability to connect with the elements, however, a small group of direct descendants to Askr and Embla were able to survive. They soon scattered around the earth creating small Covens and kept their magical abilities secret from the rest of the world, much as the one we see in my series.
As in many other legends, the wolves in Norse Mythology were portrayed as feral and terrifying beasts. Geri and Freike were described as Odin's gluttonous wolves, who basically devoured everything in their path. Garmr assisted the goddess of death (Hel) in protecting the entrance to the World of the Dead. Sköll and Hati were responsible for chasing the sun and moon across the heavens, bringing fear to the people on earth that if they were to succeed and gobble up the sun and moon, it would be a certain end of the world (Ragnarök- Doomsday). The "King" of the wolves was the dreaded and monstrous Fenrisúlfr, the son of the demoniac god Loki and a giantess, Angerboda. The other gods feared the Fenris wolf and decided to capture and bind him to a rock deep in the center of the earth. Here, he was to stay captive until Doomsday where he would finally break the bonds and attack the gods, successfully bringing the world to an end.
In my universe, the gods slowly but surely lost interest in the world and decided to destroy Bifrost, the bridge connecting their realm to the earth. The witches were finally able to come out of hiding and after a time the humans forgot about the gods and their previous influence on the earth. Descendants of the great wolves mixed with the human race creating the first wolf-shifters, the strongest of which coming of course from the Fenrisúlfr-bloodline. Together the witches and the wolves were able to join forces and destroy the giants (jotnene), making them the most powerful species on earth.
The different species managed to live in harmony for a time, but soon jealousy took over and the witches of a strong coven came together to take power and destroy their previous ally. A lone wolf-shifter and descendant of the Fenrisúlfr-bloodline discovered them and was able to plead for mercy. Promising to no longer mix their bloodline with the other species, the witches came up with an idea and decided to "curse" them to ensure their promise with the imprint. The imprint would limit the wolves to only being able to mate within their own kind. In addition the wolves were forced to relocate and create packs, separating themselves from the rest of the world.
However, as time passed people moved to explore the earth and the strict lines between the different species weakened. New legends and cultural differences brought diversity and change, allowing for local variations within both Coven and Pack. This is why we find a wide variety of stories spread out across the world of great witches and powerful beasts. One of these are for example the Quileute legends.
Because of their past, the witches and wolves would often come in conflict in several places around the world. Covens would destroy Packs and vice versa, however as they fought, the human race slowly became more and more dominant. After a time, mankind grew tired of the constant conflict and their lust for power grew. Witch trials, and hunting wolfpacks to the brink of extinctions were only two examples of the horrors they set into motion. In absolutely no time at all, the two final connections to the world's rich and ancient history were almost completely destroyed. Covens and Packs alike were forced to live in secret, hiding their abilities from the rest of the world. In some cases, they managed to work together and become allies, but their violent past would often destroy the peace.
The car ride home is achingly silent and uncomfortably tense, but I'm too tired to address it. Ignoring the subtle glances of worry coming from each of my packmates, I focus my attention on the physical exhaustion I feel seeping slowly into my bones. Mentally… well… mentally, my mind is a mess and I have no idea where to even begin. That familiar ache in my chest builds rapidly and I feel my heartbeats race in panic at the rising pain. Closing my eyes tightly shut, I take a deep breath and focus all of my remaining energy on the one thing I know that will give me relief. My mate.
Allowing my instincts to guide me, I reach out, searching for him through our bond. Colors cloud my vision and I feel as though I'm moving at the speed of lightning; but then in the next fraction of a second everything comes to an abrupt stop. Air rushes through my nose as I inhale deeply, filling my nostrils with my mate's incredible scent. My lips curl into the smallest hint of a smile as I feel Edward's soothing presence surround me completely, wrapping me in a wonderfully tight embrace. Red sparks explode between us, flaring into a protective shield that encompasses us immediately. The pain in my chest instantly disappears and my heartbeats slow to a steady rhythm. Opening myself to our connection, I allow his love to wash over me, my tired mind finally able to find the relief it needs.
When the truck eventually comes to a complete stop in front of my house, I feel much more centered and at ease than I've felt since Edward left. Reluctantly I release my hold on him, allowing the bond to bring me back to reality. When I open my eyes, I'm surprised to find Nessie studying me with interest. She immediately averts her gaze as though she's just been caught doing something she shouldn't, but I quickly reach over and squeeze her hand to show her that everything is fine. She doesn't look up, but I see her lips twitch ever so slightly.
"I need to drive Nessie home," Jake announces from the driver's seat.
Embry jumps out and both Nessie and I follow his lead. Moving around the truck, I stop her just as she's about to climb into the front seat next to Jacob.
"Thank you for coming with us tonight, Nessie," I smile, pleased when her lips curl into a timid half smile.
Once again, I'm struck by this strange feeling that I'm connected to her somehow. After Jake, she might be the packmate my wolf respects most and I barely know her. Without allowing myself a moment to second guess myself, I wrap my arms around her and pull her into a small hug. She comes willingly, but I can sense that this open display of affection isn't something she's used to. My impulsive hug has surprised her, in a good way. Pulling back, I squeeze her shoulders affectionately and meet her gaze.
"Would you like to come for dinner tomorrow?"
She bites her lip nervously and sends a questioning glance towards the man waiting in the driver's seat of the truck as though she's seeking his permission. Jake doesn't say anything, but I can see that he's confused by her reaction. Nessie realizes that we're both waiting for her to make up her own mind and although it's dark I can see her cheeks flush with embarrassment.
"I would love to, but I need to ask my parents and Esme-."
I interrupt her.
"It's fine, Ness, it's an open offer. You are welcome at my house anytime. Check with your parents and Esme," I pause, sending my cousin a look.
"Jake can probably pick you up if need be, am I right?"
He rolls his eyes in exaggerated exasperation, but I can see that it's simply an act. Soon he obediently bobs his head in silent confirmation. Nessie doesn't look convinced and I get the sense that she's desperately afraid of becoming a burden somehow. Why she'd feel that way, I have no idea. After a brief moment of hesitation she slowly nods her head in acceptance before getting into the front seat of the truck. Stepping forward, I close her door for her, making sure to give her a small and welcoming smile before stepping away. Waving goodbye, I flicker my eyes to those of my cousin's, but find that his attention is locked on the sweet and delicate woman seated next to him. The fierce protectiveness in his gaze takes me by surprise and my confusion only grows when he quickly masks his expression with one of deep annoyance the moment she turns to face him. What the hell is going on between those two?
Unfortunately, two reasons make it impossible for me to investigate the topic any further. One: Jake hits the gas pedal speeding down my narrow driveway and two: my phone begins buzzing in my back pocket. Watching the taillights disappear I pull out my phone. A surge of energy rising within me when I see Edward's name.
"Hey!" I greet him warmly, feeling as though I've just seen him.
Opening the front door, I immediately head for the staircase, desperate for some alone-time with my mate. Alice pops her head out to greet me, but when she sees me on the phone she simply smiles and heads back into the kitchen.
"Hey, baby, is this a good time?" Edward's husky voice sends a rush of goosebumps across my skin and makes my stomach warm.
"Absolutely, you have perfect timing," I respond with a smile, rushing up the stairs to our room so that we can talk privately.
"I really need to see you."
There's an almost desperate edge to his tone and immediately my wolf whimpers her agreement.
"Jesus, me too," I mumble, pleased when I hear his responding chuckle in my ear.
Throwing the door to our bedroom open, before pulling it shut, I jump onto our bed and I turn on my camera. With my heart racing in my chest, I watch the screen impatiently, needing to see him. When those familiar, vibrant, emerald eyes finally come into view, my breath hitches immediately and I feel my heart expand with intense love. God, I wish I could tell him that I love him, but I'm determined to wait until I can tell him in person. My wolf, who desperately wants to do whatever it takes to please her mate, sends me an impatient look as though she's asking what the hell I'm waiting for. Sticking to my decision, I bite my lips together and watch as Edward's shoulders drop and his expression softens and grows tender.
"Fuck, I miss you," he groans.
His reaction and the fact that I can finally see him makes me feel giddy and my smile widens into what must look like a lovesick grin.
"We've video chatted two times already today," I tease, but the moment I do I'm reminded of the state I was in the last time we chatted.
Edward's wince reveals a similar memory. Neither of us want to dwell on that particular moment.
"Yeah, well, it's not enough by far," he pauses, glancing around him as though he isn't alone, before lowering his voice. I notice that he's wearing earphones.
"When I get back, you aren't leaving my side."
His commanding tone sends a delicious thrill through me and my cheeks flare with heat at the intensity of his gaze. Yeah, no argument there.
"Where are you?" I ask, changing the subject.
Edward purses his lips and looks away again. Then I watch as he sits up and moves his camera, revealing a rundown motel room and that I was correct in my assumption that he wasn't alone. Leaning against the headboard of a queen sized bed adjacent to Edward's is Aro, who lifts his gaze from his computer and smiles in my direction before returning to his work. My usually elegant and refined uncle looks completely out of place, but he appears to be content and at ease sharing a room with two powerful wolf-shifters. As the camera moves, I see Jasper sprawled out on an uncomfortably looking fold out sofa which looks much too small for his long frame. He's busy reading a book of some kind, but waves in my direction. When Edward's handsome face returns to the screen he raises his eyebrows and shrugs before answering my question.
"In some deserted town in the middle of nowhere. We were lucky to find a place for the night, but-," his voice trails off, his beautiful eyes piercing into mine through the phone and I can actually feel a hint of his emotions through our bond.
The fact that he's forced to share a room with two other men makes it impossible for Edward to be as open as he'd like and this clearly annoys him. Although I share his disappointment, I can't help but smile at his surly expression. Edward looks just like a small child that has lost his favorite toy which I find incredibly endearing. Before I can even think, an image flashes in my mind so vivid and alive that it sends a surge of excitement and anticipation through me that I've never felt before. Because the image I see, is one of a beautiful dark haired toddler taking a few decisive, yet very wobbly steps towards a toy wolf discarded on the hardwood floor. He crouches down, his diaper-clad butt almost touching the ground as he picks up the toy with both hands, bringing the worn stuffed animal to his chubby cheeks. Then the small boy lifts his gaze and looks my way, displaying a pleased and proud grin. Immediately my heart stops beating and I feel my entire body go stiff with intense shock. The pull I feel towards this little boy is unlike anything I've ever felt before and those vibrant emerald eyes shining back at me through long lashes look exactly like -.
Edward's voice pulls me back to reality, the image of my beautiful, little boy immediately fading from my mind. My boy… Blinking away a sudden wave of tears fueled by an intense longing that I'm definitely not ready to even acknowledge just yet, I take a moment to compose myself before I'm able to meet my mate's questioning gaze. Deep inside, I feel a gentle tug on our bond and realize that Edward is trying to get a read on my emotions.
"Sorry, I kind of zoned out there for a sec," I apologize, hoping to redirect his attention elsewhere.
The look on his face reveals that it'll take a bit more to appease him.
Speaking of which.
"Did you feel me reach out to you earlier?" I ask, curious to hear his answer.
Edward's lips curl into a half smile that makes my heart flutter with intense pleasure.
"I did," he replies, his eyes shining with pride. "And I think I'm going to have to insist that you continue doing that several times a day. I loved feeling you near me like that."
His smile widens and I respond in kind, nodding my head in agreement.
"It was exactly what I needed after the day I've had," I admit, touching his face through the screen on my phone. God, I miss him.
He doesn't say anything, but I can feel his compassion through our bond as he waits patiently for me to continue. Inching my way backwards on the bed, I push a few pillows against the headboard and lean heavily against them. Then I start informing him about everything I learned from Caius, retelling the story of Ingrid and Inga. For some reason I decide to leave out the suspicions I have concerning my mother. When I get to the part about how Inga created spells that could specifically used to cause harm to a wolfpack, I immediately feel a rush of nerves rise within him. Somehow, however, Edward manages to keep his expression neutral, revealing absolutely none of the turmoil building inside of him. His ability to hide his emotions used to annoy me to no end when I first met him, but right now I can't help but admire him for it.
"Edward, I have a really bad feeling about this," I admit in a small whisper.
With the beartraps, James' escape, Edward leaving, the break-in and those flimsy pieces of paper hidden away in my mother's jewelry box… God, it's enough to lose my mind. Immediately, I feel a rush of warmth spread through our bond and close my eyes to welcome his unconditional support and calm reassurance. Though the storm is brewing all around us, I can't help but feel immensely grateful that I've found him.
"I know, baby, but we got this, remember?" his voice rumbles in my ear and my mouth twitches with a hint of a smile at his familiar words.
Needing to focus on something other than confusion and fear. I lock onto the love I feel for him, something that gives me hope and makes me so incredibly happy.
"Yes, we do," I finally respond, my voice steady as I meet his beautiful gaze.
Knowing that I need to confide in him about everything I've discovered about my mother, I make my decision to tell him the next day. We've had enough turmoil for one day and perhaps after I've read some of her journals, I'll have more clarity and hopefully discover something more concrete than simply a bad feeling growing in the pit of my gut.
"How was your day?" I ask instead.
He groans loudly, not bothering to hide his annoyance.
"It was horrible," he says, releasing a heavy sigh and I draw my bottom lip between my teeth and wait for him to continue.
"Yet another dead end."
I try not to reveal my disappointment, but the look Edward gives me proves that he is able to see right through me. He is just as upset by the fact that they still haven't been able to find anything.
"We did get another lead, though," he begins and I'm surprised when I feel a hint of reluctance and unease through our bond.
Edward draws the palm of his hand over his face and tugs at his hair before he eventually continues.
"There's supposedly a hunting cabin far up the mountains near here where we might find some answers. Jasper thinks this might be it."
His response doesn't explain the nervous energy I feel rising within him. My stomach churns as I investigate his emotions a little closer. There's something he isn't telling me and whatever it is it's really bothering him.
"Then what's wrong Edward?"
Once again he buries his hand in his hair and tugs at his wild locks for a moment before answering me. His emerald eyes flare with frustration, revealing a hint of fear and self-doubt.
"There's no service on the mountain," he breathes, his body tense.
I do my very best not to react, but just the thought of him being somewhere with complete radio silence and not being able to call and talk to him whenever I want to, makes me feel incredibly uneasy.
"And we don't really know how long it'll take to get there. We bought camping equipment today just in case."
Opening my mouth, I try to come up with an appropriate response, but after a moment I simply give up. Edward releases a harsh breath before the image of the camera bobs with a sudden movement and I realize he's getting to his feet. I watch as he moves towards the exit, leaving the crowded room in search of somewhere private. Safely outside, he takes a few long strides walking out into the parking lot.
"I hate this," he practically spits, finally able to reveal the true extent of his emotions. I can feel just how close he is to losing it. His wolf is fighting to rise to the surface, begging for an outlet of some kind; the agony of being separated from his mate driving him to the brink of madness. My own wolf whimpers, sharing his pain.
"I know," I respond, filling my lungs with a deep breath to help calm us both down.
"I should have never left you."
Edward's voice breaks and a rush of guilt spreads through our bond before he has a chance to hide it. This awakens a strong determination within me.
"Edward, listen to me," my voice is unusually firm.
"We both agreed that you needed to go and find out whoever set out those traps, Edward. And after what we learned today about the stolen Grimoires-. I still stand by that decision. Someone is trying to start a war between the Coven and our Pack, we need to do whatever we can to stop that from happening."
A pair of tortured green eyes fly to mine, but as he meets my gaze I see a small smile playing across his lips.
His smile widens.
"You said our Pack."
An unfamiliar sensation surges through me at his words. He's correct of course and when I carefully inspect this new emotion, I realize that it's a mix of intense loyalty and devotion. My wolf barks with excitement and a wave of pride flows through our bond.
"Fuck, babe, I can't wait to rule the Pack with you."
The needy and sultry tone in his voice lights up my body with an acute desire that isn't solely physical. My wolf isn't able to stand still, her entire body practically vibrating with excitement. We don't say anything for a long moment, both of us trying to cool our burning bodies from the intense desire that has been fueled to life within the both of us. Regaining some composure, I return to the subject at hand.
"I hate that I won't be able to see or talk to you like this for a few days, but at least we still have our bond," I say, trying to find something positive to hold onto.
The look that spreads across Edward's face reveals that he is far from convinced. Just the idea of not being able to see him like this cuts through my chest like a blazing hot knife. A bold idea flashes through my mind and I almost disregard it, but Edward's tortured expression makes me pause. Inhaling deeply yet again, I conjure up as much confidence as I can before I angle the phone higher so that Edward can't see anything other than my face. Then, with featherlight touches, I drag my fingers lightly down my chest, before boldly moving them slowly up to the tops of my breasts. When two fingers lightly begin circling one of my nipples, I have the pleasure of watching Edward's entire body jolt as he realizes what I'm doing.
"Bella," he releases a pained groan, his desperate and almost wild lust for me elevating mine.
Cupping my breast more firmly, I imagine that it's his hand touching me; loving me.
"Edward," I whimper breathlessly.
As usual, passion explodes between us and it would be so easy to simply give in, but considering where he is, I decide not to push him too far. Releasing my breast, I raise an eyebrow, pleased that I've been able to prove my point.
"Chase the lead, handsome. I'll be with you every step of the way."
Red sparks burst to life all around me as I hold his vibrant gaze. His eyes soften as he pushes his desire to the side and focuses instead on something much more profound.
"I love you, Bella."
I love you, too, my Alpha. So, so much.