Under the Moon

Soul names.

The most valuable to a werewolf's person. The hidden name that is interlocked with the very being of one's self. It is this very name that sets that one individual aside from the masses. This one name shall come forth when you stand before the one, the one true mate. It bares everything within you and a bond stronger than most forms.

Right before all hell breaks loose, Blake finds his one true mate - just to find out that his true mate rejects his soul name, tries to shatter the very bond to dust and run away. What is a fairy tale for most, is a painful nightmare for Blake. But Blake was never one to give up.

Ember stands once again in a situation where running is the only option left. So, she runs. But the matters of the heart are complicated affaires, and Ember finds out just that, when she meets her fated one, her soul mate.

In the mist of the unknown threat it is not just an unexpected mate that needs attention. The werewolf kind has an enemy ready to destroy.

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1. Chapter 1

 

Gold meets blue

 

As she stood there, eye to eye with the very being she had tried so hard to avoid, she thought deep and hard about what she had done wrong to end up here. The hard edge of darkness in his pupils demanded submission and the golden glow around them required the truth. And all she could do was breath hard and slow. So much was being send back and forth between his golden and her blue eyes that she could hardly breathe.

While she normally wasn’t the type to cover or roll over onto her back to show meekness, then and there she wanted nothing more than to run like the wolf she was and never look back. But instinct rooted her to the spot and a force as strong, as old, as time itself, told her what she needed to know. The time was upon her - no matter how undesirable.

She barely recognized what happened around her as an undercurrent of thoughts took her back to what had lead her here…

***

A crisp wind took its turn around the trees, lifting dead leaves from the ground and whispering the cold truth. Ember knew, oh she knew, what it said, but by choice she closed her ears and followed the path ahead. She was only going to stay for a day or two and if she was good enough and lay low, she was sure she could avoid trouble.

Instinct - her very being - was telling her otherwise in form of perspiring palms, ears turning to every sound around her, eyes catching all movements around her, but nevertheless she continued - knowing that failure was probably imminent. It was just a matter of time before the wind would come and carry her smell with it and announce her presence. If it hadn’t already. But Ember had a job to do and she was going to do it, no matter what.

Being what she was, having the need that she had, she had left her car by the motel and was walking towards her destination. Being trapped inside the car for longer periods of time made her restless. She wanted to be the one who moved and not being moved. She wanted to feel her muscles being used, feel the air in her hair and smell the rich odors around her.

She had been in the car for far too long now. While the city was not her meeting place of choice, she moved unhindered towards the center. There she would meet with the buyer and hopefully get the deal done and over with, so she could tuck tail and get the hell out of this place.

‘Course Ember knew now that she had stepped into trouble. She hadn’t known that the city lay in the center of the territory of a pack of lupus - werewolves. And she was very much a lone female wolf. A mature female wolf in upcoming heat, with no mate. Ember cursed herself for not just dropping this deal. This was too risky when she had not prepared for it, and it was almost impossible to hide her smell when in heat.

Not that she knew because she had tried it before, but she had heard about it from some of the few older females in her old pack. It was to make sure that the females could find a mate, the mate, the one true mate. And that was all very well but the fact was - Ember did not want a mate, and she certainly didn’t want to be found. It would mean exposure and much more dangerous trouble.

All those thoughts made her walk that much faster. She needed to be done and quickly. Her blue eyes lit up when she saw the sign ahead. Corron’s Photography - Capturing The Moment. She could almost feel how the USB in her pocket was digging into her leg with an iron hot burn.

Deliver the pictures, discuss the price, grab the money and get the hell out and back, take a nap and then drive like your life depends on it - which… it does… she added in an afterthought full of irony.

She stopped in front of the glass door, took a deep, calming breath and opened it. Trying to look as professional as possible, she walked to the disk behind which the back side of an older man bending over could be seen, and very much smelled. She grimaced a little at the smell of stale beer and cigars, which she had picked up before she had even opened the door - she had a sensitive nose - but inside it was much worse. Up close the smell was almost too much, but being used to humans she fought to keep a straight face.

Ember cleared her throat when nothing happened. It took a couple of seconds before the old man reacted. When he finally stretched his back, and turned around, he found a young lady standing at the counter behind him with hair like flames and deep blue eyes. A gentle smile that looked a little forced greeted him.

He coughed, smiled and made an effort to look professional as he wiped his hands on his trousers - but the time for that had passed. He had barely opened his mouth and Ember already knew that this was not going to go quite as she wanted.

***

...She was right. Less than an hour later, and she was ready to run through the streets and forget whatever mission she had had.

“Will you just take the damn pictures and get it over with?!” she hissed, being close to yelling.

“I’m sorry, but I will need to talk with my partners before I pay you. I need to be sure that they, too, want to invest in these pictures. I will call them tomorrow and then I will let you know.” He looked almost sorry, but something about his features didn’t quite make her believe the apologizing hint in the watery grey eyes of his.

She huffed, taking a heavy breath.

Just as she was about to answer, the door opened behind her. Out the corner of her eye, she saw a younger guy and then everything went very fast.

“Steph” He greeted, while smiling in the direction of the store owner until something made him halt in his steps. His graceful approach got kiboshed. And she knew why.

Shit.

Forcefully, she straightened her back as she finally took in his scent. And she knew, dammit she knew. It was too late.

Werewolf.

She hadn’t been paying attention; forgetting her delicate situation as a stranger in an occupied territory for a moment. Bracing herself she turned slowly so she could focus on the newcomer.

He was a scrawny boy with reddish brown hair and light eyes. He dressed fairly simple, but werewolves tended to do just that - easier to get rid of the clothes when shifting to wolf-form. His hair was somewhere between short and long, just reaching some centimeters below his ears. He looked very much the young wolf that he was and a growing boy, where everything either was too big or too thin for his frame.   

“Adam my boy, good to see you, how are the others?” The shopkeeper welcomed the now absentminded youngster, not noticing the suddenly tense atmosphere. The youngster, Adam, had to tear his attention away from Ember and aim it towards Steph, but even then, Ember knew his full focus was on her.

Werewolves on another’s territory could mean anything. Mostly trouble, but since this Adam didn’t know Ember, he could not know if she would jump on him and tear his throat out or not. The same could be said for Ember, but Ember did not fear the juvenile, because that was what he was. Though it was not her life she feared for at this moment, she feared the consequences that would come with being exposed. She knew that her presence in this area was going to be announced as soon as this guy could get the news rolling.

Just my luck.

The air sizzled with tension that only the two young werewolves could feel as messages were being send back and forth between them. Not with words but with energy and whatever little body language their stiff bodies were capable of - which by wolf standard was a lot.

She knew he wanted to know who the hell she was and what she was doing here - she didn’t need to be psychic to know that. His smell and squinting eyes spoke for him. He was alert but also curious about this female stranger.

Okay, time to go!

Ember reached for the USB which had been lying on the disk in front of her and the shopkeeper. She tucked it safely down into her pockets before getting eye contact with Steph.

“Call tomorrow!” That was it, she could be here no more. She needed to get back and rethink what to do.

She turned slowly around so she didn’t startle the young wolf and headed to the door not at all gracefully, but as fast as possible without running. With a last glance back as she opened the door, she saw that he was already fishing out a phone from his jeans.

Shit!

The door had scarcely closed behind her before she busted into a sprint down the street. And while it felt good, the reason behind her escape did not. The surroundings were a blur as she kept going. Never stopping, not looking back. Being werewolf, traveling a lot, she was in a great shape, but even then, she felt how her lungs hungered for air. Her muscles warmed as the blood bumped through them and the asphalt felt hard as her feet hit the ground in a furious tattoo.

She was much more silent than a human, but by werewolf standard she was making unnecessary noises and she knew it. She knew it, but continued - they already knew about her, she just needed to make it to her room, to her car, and get out of town.

After unlocking the door, she flung it open and slammed it behind her as she rushed inside. She took a moment to draw a long breath. She sniffed the air and smelled no unwelcomed scents. Her bag was on a stool in the corner, her clothes mostly inside. Ember hadn’t unpacked her things since she knew that she was not staying long, but suddenly the small amount of clothes that were hanging on the armrest seemed too much.

It’s funny how your fingers can become clumsy and uncooperative when you have to hurry. She clapped her hands together hard, clutched them for a second to get them to be willing to do her bidding without trouble.

Okay, Ember, think! Breathe! You probably still have ten minutes before they arrive. You have done this before you can do it again…

It is peculiar how mind and body can work so much against each other. She felt a pull on her being while her mind tried to make her hurry once again. Her body, on the other hand, stopped much to her unease - it was like somebody hitting pause on a remote control. In that moment Ember did not know why or how, but later she would speculate how her senses knew before she consciously registered it.

As though her body was tired of running it gave up and started sending out a call with a longing so strong it hurt. Her chest felt hot and burning. Her throat was dry and her eyes felt bright and bothered. A light sheen of perspiration covered her brow. A tumult of feelings was battling inside her and she didn’t even know why.

She gasped when she heard a car pull up. She knew - time was up.

Damn.

The realization worked as a jump starter. Startled, she ran to the nearest window where she could look out at the parking lot. An older, dark green SUV was parked outside, and three people were emerging from it. She didn’t need to smell them to know what they were. Like the curtain was on fire she let go of it and looked around. In seconds they would be upon her. They did not need to ask the clerk which room was hers - they could smell it.

How they had found her so quickly did not hit her before much later. She had taken the car keys that had been lying on the table in the small room. Trying to find a window that she could squish out of, she looked desperately around. Just as she located one, a knock sounded on her door.

She didn’t turn around to look. As silently as she could she pulled the window open and jumped out. If she was lucky she could get a good head start and trick them. She just needed to run around the building while they were in her room, get to her car and drive the hell out of there.

Sounded simple enough.

What she knew would be a failure before she even had started, would be to jump out and head towards the open forest behind the motel, turn to her wolf-form and run. They would track her faster and reach her before she had even run a hundred meters. The car was her best option.

There were three more knocks, then some mumbling - probably to her about opening the door - and then the sad excuse for a door was kicked in. Tree was shattered and the door moan in a groan as it gave after for the violence. Having already jumped out of the window, Ember was almost at the corner of the motel.

Pressing her back against the rough wall of the building, she turned slightly around the corner to take stock of the situation. There were four motel rooms between the intruders and her. She glanced at where her car was. She would have to sprint and pray that she would make it.

She knew it was now or never, knowing that they had probably found out that she had taken flight out through the window by now. A last deep breath and she ran with all her might towards her car. She didn’t beep the car open before getting close enough. They would have heard otherwise.

YES! I can do this! She thought triumphally.     

Just as she unlocked the car, yelling was heard as well as footsteps from her former room. Once again, a pull took hold of her body as if she was making the biggest mistake of her life, but the adrenaline rushing in her blood made her able to snap out of the feeling. In a single moment she looked around to see how much time she had. One guy, big bodied, black jacket, dark haired and with a stern expression on his face, was running towards her from the door and the other from the corner of the building, where she had just been. Their expression told Ember that her actions had not been a surprise to them... at all.  

It was barely seconds.

“Eeek!” It simply escaped her mouth in fright and she fumbled further.   

“HOLD!”

Nope!

Just as she wrenched the door open it was slammed close and before she knew what was up or down she had her back pressed up against the side of the car. Her breath was hard, shallow and frightened like a rabbit before the big bad wolf. She remembered then and there that there had been three men and not two. The third was now standing way too close for comfort and looked at her with wild eyes. A hunt did that to most werewolves.

Knowing she was in so much trouble, knowing that it was not unusual for a pack to be hostile towards outsiders of the werewolf kind, she kept her silence. The only movement was her chest going in and out, showing her winded state. Her blue eyes dilated when they clashed with those of the man’s in front of her.

His golden eyes were strong and steady. They demanded submission and respect. Alpha. It was so clear that this was the alpha who had come to see this new wolf intruding on his territory. But something was off. It was always a tense situation meeting a new alpha, but this time it was not merely establishing ranks, finding out if the stranger was friend or foe.

This was something so much bigger than the world closing in around them. Nothing seemed to matter more and the pull that had been on her body seemed to settle, like she could breathe again because she was where she was supposed to be.

Air seemed fresh in her nose, not burning and tasting like ash which had been the sensation beforehand. The sudden connection between them was like threads flying through the air, each sparked when joining the other. Bonding them in what was a lightness and direful feeling that build on a near fusion that would weld them together in the most raw and fragile place within them. She felt it prickle and tingle inside of her, the want to tie the final, everlasting knot and give him her most vulnerable piece of herself; her soul name.  

His soul name was beginning to form just at the tip of her tongue. This was what her senses had known before her, this was what the awful feeling had been about when she had tried to get away, this was her wolf side knowing that her true mate was near and reaching for her. He looked just as surprised but not as resistant to what was happening between them.

She felt fear and panic arise. This could not happen, she could not know his soul name nor give hers. That was not possible or acceptable. Being without your soulmate once connected would be hell and clean despair.

This all happened in a few minutes, while it felt like a life time. Her back was pressed so hard against the car that if it could it would have shallowed her whole. But not even that saved her now. She began to shake her head in rejection. He looked confused for a moment until he felt it.

He felt her trying to rip the fragile bond that had yet to settle between them into pieces. Trying so hard to sever the connection that it was hurtful for them both.

“Don’t!” Was the only thing he could get over his lips as he felt her soul name fade away on his tongue while gripping her arms in desperation. She looked heartbroken as the feeling of being very much alone overcame her. Faintly she observed his arms lose strength as they were now pressed against the car on each side of her. Breaking something inside her to pieces, she knew now was the time, when he barely knew how to react to the whole situation, was the time to run.     

So she broke lose from his arms and began sprinting away while her wolf was howling and whining within, hurting from pain expressed as cold blades digging into her. It hurt, it made her breathless, and tears had fought their way to the front and almost slid down her cheeks. She had not given one thought to the other two werewolves who had come along. They had simple stood there and looked on in astonishment as two mates found each other and then in utmost apprehension when they were not fully united as they should have been.  

How she had done it, she was not sure, but she knew that the longing threads were still seeking each other and she needed to get as far away as possible and never see him again if she was going to live on mateless. Her plan was simple in thought but two were in this situation and he was not so inclined to let that happen.

Mere seconds after she had run off he had collected his thoughts and set after her. She did not see it coming but one moment she was free, the next she was yet again in his arms but this time in close contact - as he had wrapped them around her in a tight grip. His arms were warm and his chest was more like a barrier at that point. Knowing that she would never have the strength to break free from this cage of warmth and commitment she wrestled hard. 

“No! Let me go!” she screamed.

She fought against him. She felt the pull yet again, felt how the threads were fighting against her emotions for the independence she wanted. His arms didn’t lack strength this time, she subconsciously thought. As though he knew her; knew that no matter what he said she would not stop fighting, he reacted in another way.

Almost shocked to her core she saw what he was thinking.

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