knock knock knock
Please open the door…
knock knock knock
knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock *kno—.
I was beginning to panic, thinking that I’d left it too late but then, finally, the door opened.
“Raven,” Kieran said, almost in disbelief. “You actually came. You’re—.” But I didn’t wait for him to finish.
Without missing a beat, I instantly moved forward and threw my arms around his waist.
His scent was mixed in with soap and water, clearly having interrupted him from a shower. But it was the best thing I had ever smelt. Already, I could feel my body start to relax from the warmth coming off of him. Something much needed to help calm the adrenaline pumping through me.
Hesitantly, his arms then moved to encircle me, reciprocating the hug. Almost as if he was still in shock I’d arrived.
“I was starting to think that you weren’t going to change your mind,” he said.
“I’ve been putting off leaving for a few hours now, stubbornly in denial.”
“I’m glad you were stubborn… Thank you for waiting.” He pulled away slightly so he could look at my face, bringing a hand to touch my cheek.
“How though? Are you in danger or…?” But I quickly shook my head.
“I’m fine… I just don’t want to talk about it, if that’s okay.” It wasn’t that I wanted to hide it from Kieran…
I just wasn’t sure what to say yet. I didn’t entirely know what I was doing. Was I truly escaping? Or was I just merely playing along with what my father wanted? It felt like I was hedging my bets rather than actually making a decision. Waiting to see how things would turn out first.
Kieran held my gaze for a few seconds, obviously trying to tell if I was lying about being fine, but finally, he nodded.
“Okay… I’ll grab my things and we can go.”
I sat on the couch as I waited for him to get his luggage together, happily watching him move about. Every now and then he would look over at me, almost as if he were expecting me to not be there, and I would give him a small wave in reassurance.
By the time he was done, all I could feel was intense nervousness fluttering inside. We took all our bags outside to his car and, once everything was loaded up, he then turned to me, politely holding open the passenger seat door.
“Are you ready for this?” he asked.
“There will be a lot to learn.” But I’d never been so sure in my entire life.
I walked right up and smiled at him, now buzzing with anticipation.
“I’m glad to have such a great teacher then.”
Only, as I expected him to return the expression, instead, he seemed almost taken aback.
“What is it?” I asked, thinking something was wrong.
He looked almost in a daze, but my voice seemed to pull him out of it.
“Nothing, nothing,” he quickly replied, but he then brought his hand up to my face and brushed his thumb gently against my lips.
“It’s just… that’s the first time you’ve done that.”
Immediately, I felt myself succumbing once more to those sparks. That feeling of being captivated by the way he spoke… the way he felt… the way he touched me.
“Done what…?” I managed to ask quietly, though I couldn’t help but notice how he had moved in closer.
“Smiled at me. That’s the first time that you’ve genuinely smiled at me.”
I started to become flustered, feeling a little guilty for faking during our first meeting. But he continued before I could get an apology out.
…And it was something that made me forget whatever was in my head.
“It’s so beautiful,” he whispered, his eyes focused on my lips.
My cheeks started to burn and I quickly turned my head to the side, feeling embarrassed.
How did he do that to me so easily? I could have melted into a puddle from just the way he looked at me alone… and yet his words were making me want to evaporate entirely.
I was experienced in persuading men to fall for me, that had been something I’d picked up quickly in my job, but that experience did little to defend myself against every little thing Kieran did. He had me completely under a spell… one that I was finding impossible to deny.
Carefully, his hand then moved my face, coercing me to look at him once more, and my gaze locked with his. He looked like he was going to kiss me… and I really hoped that he did. I could still remember it from the other day, how perfect it had felt.
But, due to circumstances at that time, it had been cut far too short. Now, with little else standing in the way, I allowed myself to wonder what more than a kiss felt like.
Wonder… what his skin would feel like as it moved against mine… what his
“We should get going,” he said quietly, taking a step back.
And, for a moment, I thought his eyes had appeared darker again. Was that normal or was I just seeing wrong every time?
“We have a long trip ahead of us.” But as disappointment filled me, having been denied the kiss I’d craved, I quickly did my best to push it out of my mind, seating myself down in the car.
…And, as it turned out, it did end up being a long trip indeed. Even though the ‘public’ border was only a few hours’ drives, according to Kieran, the actual town itself was located a lot further up north.
Along the journey, he did his best to fill me in on basic things I needed to know. Things like basic terminology, details about the ‘pack’, and a general rundown of how their weird hierarchy worked.
“Okay, so… Alpha, Beta… and then Gamma…,” I said aloud, trying to remember the right names.
“And then you have warriors, each with their own ranks… and then… Elders? Which are who again?”
“They’re a small collective made up of the older generation,” he answered.
“Unlike the birth ranks, the Elders don’t necessarily need to be born into an influential family. Their position is voted by merit and intelligence.”
“The birth ranks being… the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, right?” All of this seemed a bit strange, but I was doing my best to understand.
“That’s right.” “And… You’re the Alpha’s son?”
“Right. But I’m also the eldest son of Victor, so I, therefore, get a birth title as well. Mine would be Alpha heir. It means that I’ll take over as leader one day.”
My father’s comments made more sense now; than the ones he’d said during the charity event. I remember him asking if it was common to elect mayoral representatives based on family.
It made me realize that, even though my father must have known what I was, he clearly didn’t have an understanding of everything werewolf related. If he did, I doubted that he would have agreed to let me go with Kieran and his family for a while. Especially if he’d been trying to suppress that part of me.
“I do need to warn you that the etiquette is a bit old-fashioned,” he said, a little awkwardly.
“You’ll see a few formalities and it might seem odd, but you’ll get used to it eventually. Personally, all that you’ll need to worry about is just remaining respectful to my father. Not that I think you’ll have any trouble with that. As for everyone else, they would technically be considered beneath, ah….” He then stopped himself mid-sentence, thinking about his phrasing.
“Just… you don’t need to worry about everyone else as much. You’re my… guest.”
“Okay…,” I said, frowning.
“…And one more thing.” His voice then became lower, more serious.
“…I’d love to be able to say that my pack is perfect but, the reality is, the town is still made up of varying opinions and people.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean… there is a chance that some people might not like you. I doubt you’ll encounter anyone brave enough to say it to your face, but… just prepare yourself.”
“Because… I’m Eric Reid’s daughter?” I asked.
But he gave me a small smile at that.
“No, I doubt any of them even know who your father is. I barely knew and I’ve been allowed into the city a few times. No, Ashwood is just a very closed–off place… which is why they might be wary of you. Just ignore it as best you can.” I heard the warning but I was too focused on what he’d said first; The part where no one was going to know who my father was.
I was… anonymous. No stigma or preconceived opinions, I was free to be Raven Reid without any ties. Only… was that what I even wanted? To be Raven Reid?
It was another reminder of the decision I was yet to make.
“We’re nearing the checkpoint,” he then said, and I felt the car started slowing down.
Checkpoint? Just how closed-off was this place?
A few moments later, a man came out of a small booth, walking into the middle of the road as he waited for us to stop. He looked extremely athletic and was able to see me clearly despite being still a distance away from the car. Which told me one thing;
…He was the same as me.
But I didn’t feel any instant connection as I met his eyes, nor did I particularly think anything special about the man. No abrupt urge to kiss him. To me, he just seemed like a completely normal guy.
…And yet, as I looked back over to Kieran, I felt that same little jolt of longing I felt every time I saw him. Just as I always did.
So… that strange connection really wasn’t a way to recognize others of our kind. But if that was the case, then what made Kieran so special?
What was this thing between us? He’d said it was ‘complicated’ but never actually explained.
“Wait here,” Kieran instructed as we parked, and he proceeded to get out to speak to him.
The entire time that I watched him approach, I felt the intense stare of the man waiting. As if he were trying to figure out who I was. Something that was probably just a part of his job, but it made me a little uncomfortable regardless. It was only once Kieran walked up that he finally looked away.
And though I couldn’t hear what they were saying, I could see a few of the man’s expressions. He seemed confused… then surprised… happy… and then back to confused again. Based on that alone, I was at a loss for what Kieran was telling him.
After a few minutes had passed, it looked as though everything was cleared up and Kieran finally started walking back towards the car… but, as he was halfway back, he quickly stopped again.
Because it was then that a howl ripped through the air, so close that it made me jump in surprise.
Everyone instantly became defensive. Within seconds, the man was wielding a dagger and even Kieran started scanning the area, concentrating on the nearby trees.
Were we in danger? It certainly seemed that way.
I quickly moved to open the passenger door, but before I could even open it, suddenly
someone was running towards Kieran. They appeared out of nowhere and moved so fast. beelining in his direction without any hesitation. Too fast to stop them.
And it was then, in frozen terror, that I watched as they tackled Kieran to the ground… a fight ensuing.