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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3. Chapter III

The first step of a matchmaker

 

 

It almost felt like a walk of shame as she in silence followed Blake through the hall. She was by nature curious, but in this environment where the very air felt like it sparked by the tension around them, she did not take much in. Unsure, she bit on her rosy bottom lip. Her gaze was jumping around, just because looking ahead meant admiring the broad back of the man before her and thinking about whatever delicious secrets the clothes on his body might keep from her view.

"Damn, I am going mental, Fenris spare me these thoughts," she thought bitterly, almost running into the very being she had admired and abhorred at the same time. He stood still. Very still. Just before she walked into him he growled low and deep. Surprised, her eyes sought his and found the golden, almost glowing, eyes intently staring.

At her lips

He had seen her teeth on her lip. It was almost more than he could bear. While the feeling of rejection and despair left him hollow and pained, he could not stop from reacting towards the little vixen that she was. And she didn't even know. He might not know her as well as a mate of years in said position, but he could read her better than she thought. Her eyes told the truth; she didn't know at the moment what she did to him.

Just before the situation became too awkward , he opened the door and with a small gesture showed her to step in.

"This will be your room, if you need anything, just call." She had only taken a few steps into the room for a better look before she swung around to see him leave, just like that. Surprised was almost an understatement. For some reason, and she was not entirely sure why, she had thought, felt, that something more would happen.

She nearly felt... disappointed?

No, that could not be. She did not want anything to happen she told herself sternly. But one part of her very being whined in loneliness when he left, making her heart almost ache in a painful burn. Like her chest was being pulled inward to close the hole she herself had made. The hole that he left.

This was what she wanted; nothing more, nothing less. In silence she glanced around the room. It was not something grand; fit for a king or queen. It was in one word: homely. While everything was foreign she could, weirdly enough, feel a bit relaxed as she took in the appearance of the room. Pale green and light colors. A bed, two wide windows towards the valley, a soft carpet, and a dresser placed against the wall opposite the bed. Simple and yet comfortable.

With a huff she sat down on the bed, making the bedding jump slightly. With nothing to occupy herself with, agitation and wariness  took hold. She would probably have curled herself into a ball on the mattress and slept for a year if it had not been so. She fell down, back into the bed in a resigned manner and stared up at the ceiling.

What now.

It kept swirling in her mind, over and over. Everything had changed, even if she did not want to acknowledge it. Her breath hitch slightly as she fought back the many emotions that suddenly welled forth.  

You can do this, Ember. You are stronger than this.

Repeating it as a mantra slowly but surely, she calmed down. But it hurt. It hurt so much in her chest that she almost whimpered, so she closed her eyes and prayed for it to be over.

 

***
(The universal parenting rules of mothers)

 

Blake sucked his breath in a painful hiss. It burned and singed. His heart felt compromised, his limbs numb. He had fled. He had not fled from anything since he was a pup and now he had fled from his intended mate. He simply could not stand to be in her presence anymore without going mad. It ached from the bond that was there, yet not. Feeling the shadow of how it could have been, should have been, was too much - even for him. Weak and alone he stood in his study, eyes closed and tenderly massaging his chest trying to chase the pain away. He barely heard the small knock on his door before it opened.

"Blake? My pup?" Her voice was small yet warm but worried. She walked with neither fast nor slow steps towards him. He won the battle against the hurtful feelings and he was able to open his eyes against the pain. She was used to bright burning eyes with a force strong and willful. What met her almost made her choke. They were dark, dull, and full of doubt and pain.

"Aw, my pup," she whispered as she hurried towards him and laid her slender hands on his cheeks. Their difference in height made him look down. He just gazed at her while her eyes looked over every inch of his face.

"Speak to me, Blake." A heavy sigh left him. It made his shoulders slump and feel leaden. He closed his eyes in exhaustion before opening them again. He folded his hands around hers, but it could just as well have been the heaviest thing he had ever done by the feeling in his arms.

"It is as she said mother. She doesn't want a mate, yet we are bound." Her features took on an aghast look.

"That is unheard of, my pup. A true mates bond is something precious and a once in a lifetime experience. Not everybody has the joy of finding it, as you well know. The soul name is not something to take lightly. She must know what your soul name means." With his whole being he tried as good as he could, to not react to the words. Just hearing, then thinking, about the lost soul name, was a damage beyond repair. His soul crying out from its missing mate, its other part.

"Mother, we... we don't know each other's soul names..." The truth was hard to swallow, but it needed to get out. Mrs. Macbay looked taken back, perplexed. She blinked a couple of times, took her hands from his face and didn't quite know whether her boy was joking with her, or meant it in all seriousness.

"Blake, my boy, I don't need to tell you how true mates works, do I?" He huffed and shook his head.

"Give me some credit, mother."

"Blake, dear, you said -"

"I know what I said mother, but what I meant to is that, one way or the other, I lost her name. I could feel it, I almost had it but... her rejection left me with nothing, but I can feel the bond between us." A despairingly look crept into her features as he talked.

"I have never heard of that happening before, my pup, but... Blake, my son, as much as it probably is against the universal parenting rules of mothers, I will have to say that you will need to - what do you call it - woo her. The bond is only so much, it is not something that sparks love, it is not necessarily love at first sight - while it would certainly have helped in your situation.

“Love comes with time, and only time. I would know Blake, I loved your father dearly, but our feelings came with time, the bond simply helped us along. She will come around Blake, don't worry." She smiled weakly, trying so hard to reassure her oldest son. But the pain that spread with every moment he was away from Ember, told him differently.

He wasn't sure how this was going to evolve, but he knew he could not succumb to this. He was alpha, leader of his pack and they needed him. His mother needed him too, having lost her soul mate, his father, years ago. He could sometimes see the sorrow in her grey eyes, but she would always smile when she either saw him or Cailean, hiding whatever feeling that had sprouted forth.

"I'm going to be fine, mother, you don't need to worry." He tried to get some power into his voice. She didn't look convinced, not completely, but he tried a smile and she answered with her own, though it was weak, pale and not the big warm one he was used to.

"But I am worried, I am your mother, it is my duty as your mother to fret and worry about you and your brother - not to mention Jet, that boy, you would think that he does half the stuff he does, just to give me a puffed tail." She tsk’ed, making Blake half laugh in a low grumble, that never really left his throat.

"But I am serious Blake, listen to me. You need to solicit her, court her. You need her, and I may not know this girl, but there is always a reason for one to be a true mate, it is simply fate, written in the stars if you will." He lifted a brow at her words. Not really believing it, but then again, nobody really knew how or why the true mate was found in their kind.

"As you can say it, mother dearest, but fret not, I shall court the fair maiden, or as you so gracefully called it, woo her," he teased which resulted in a smack on his upper arm. In his state it hurt more than he wanted to admit, spreading fire along the nerves but he neither flinched nor made a sound. He wasn't going to sink that low.

"You sound just like your father did!" she exclaimed, letting him go and turned to walk out, but stopped halfway. She turned to look back at him. He just waited for whatever she pondered on. He didn't need to wait for long. In a fast pace she soon stood before him once more and embraced him warmly, gave him a motherly pat on his cheek and then she left him.

Only a weak smile graced his lips as he watched her walk out. What he did not know was that his mother was not going to leave everything to him. How could she not meddle when her son was hurting? She had to, she thought.

 

***
(First step)

 

A jolt spread throughout her body as she woke. She hadn't meant to fall asleep. Dazed, she fought to get up from the nice bed, as she blinked the sleep out of her eyes. At first, she was confused, but then everything settled and she knew once again where she was. It hadn't just been a dream. It was at the second glance around the room, that she remembered that she never had gotten her backpack from Jet.

With little difficulty she got out of bed and made her way towards the door. When she opened the door, she stuck her head out and looked to both sides. Her room was one of the last ones in the corridor, she noticed, and only one other door was at the end of the corridor, near hers. She hadn't gotten a tour of the house, so she had no idea where to go, but it had never stopped her before and with wary steps she began walking down the hall after closing the door behind her.

She listened and smelled the different odours that grazed the house. Blake's smell was strongest, and her very being seemed to try instinctually to follow his smell. Ember wasn't going to fall for that, though, and kept going until she arrived at a small staircase, which she proceeded down and arrived in a kitchen.

Ember only started to wonder how long she had slept, when suddenly a commotion happened in front of her. The kitchen was not full of people, but there were three persons sitting there. All females.

Great...

Just what she needed she thought ironically. It wouldn't surprise her if some of them were envious of the whole mate bond to the alpha - which she had doubt the whole pack knew about by now. She had already been down that route before in her old pack, and she was not keen on trying that once again. It only made her recall her old pack and their alpha. In her opinion they could more than keep Tron. She wanted nothing to do with that sadist.

He was first and foremost the one who made her decide to leave her pack. Which was quite the step for a werewolf. Their instincts made them seek out the protection and unity there was in a pack. Only a few would be what they called a lone wolf or a dispersal.

The moment of contemplation made her almost miss the smile and stares that was send her way. A petite female, shorter than Ember herself - and Ember was not a towering girl - came forward, perhaps a little unsure but nevertheless resolute. She had lush brown hair that curled around her face, hazel eyes and a sweet smile.

"Ember... was it?" Even her voice was like sugar on sugar with a pinch of fresh mint. Ember nodded simply and looked around at the two other persons.

"Great! I'm May, and that stern, angry looking girl over there is Alexia, but don't let that fool you, on the inside she is a big softy," May chattered on.

"Oi! Shut it May! I am not a softy!" Alexia responded in a cold tone, but May didn't seem to notice or care. Alexia was a woman with dirty blonde hair, light blue eyes and a scowl on her otherwise pretty face. She was pretty in a natural way, one that didn't take your breath away, but one where you couldn't avoid thinking that she was pretty when looking at her.

May turned around to point at a big-eyed girl, who could hardly be much older than fifteen. Perhaps even younger.

"And that sweetie over there is Miriam, our oldest pup in the pack," May introduced the young girl.

Ember smiled at the girl, who she now knew would be the next to become a juvenile.

She was a pretty girl, with fluffy brown hair with a tint of red, a few freckles spread over her round nose and apple cheeks. Green eyes shone with warmth and friendliness, though a bit reserved.

Miriam blushed a little, smiling before biting on her lower lip, then looked away. A chuckle escaped May as she watched the exchanged. She leaned conspiratorially towards Ember and whispered: "She is quite shy, so don't take her reaction personally." She winked before returning to behind the bar-like kitchen counter, leaving Ember where she stood.

"So, is there something I can tempt you with?" Ember was mildly baffled. She had not expected that kind of response to her presence. Well, she hadn't really expected anything, other than a more negative outcome. The refreshing experiencing left an uplifting feeling in her otherwise hurting chest. A part of her, though, was still wary, analysing every movement the strangers made, and was ever so ready to get out of the way or retaliate if the situation should call for it. It was the instinct of the wolf blood in her.

Alexia looked just as wary as Ember felt, and never did her eyes leave Ember as she slowly walked to the counter. Every step was calculated. Not a single movement was haphazard. This was their turf and Ember was the stranger here. Alexia’s reaction was what Ember had expected most of all, which left May as the more unorthodox.

"So, anything?" May prompted after watching the whole affair between the two females. Ember cleared her throat a little, before shifting her gaze to the brunette.

"Water is fine."

"SO, she can talk! I was worried that the cat got your tongue for a moment there," May teased as she found a glass and filled it with water. A little insecure giggle left Miriam, apparently not sure how Ember would take the tease. But seeing that Ember did not response in a negative way, she got a little more confident.

"No, not yet. Just a little out of my element with everything that has happening," Ember admitted, not knowing if it was too personal a thing to say. The sparkling glass with water touched the surface of the counter, just as May answered.

"I believe that, I mean, it is not every day that you find your true mate - it most have been such a delightful experience." Ember was uncertain what to reply - because this was what she knew pretty much every werewolf would be thinking, making Ember to be the unorthodox one.

So, she took a sip of her water without commenting. With a glance out of the corner of her eye, she could see how Miriam's eyes became dreamy. It was probably every little weregirl's dream to find the one. whether the boys probably first began to think about it when they reached their juvenile years and hormones took over.

Alexia did not say or do much, only keeping a sharp eye on Ember. Ember outwardly ignored it.

"I hope I find my soul mate one day," Miriam sighed, all dreamily and Ember could almost make out flowers, sparkles and hearts surrounding the young girl, as she thought about her future mate. It was sweet in a way, and Ember knew for a fact that she had been much the same when she had been younger. Until she saw the devastating result that a true mate could have.

"Oh, I hope you do, sweetie! There is nothing like it," May cooed. The word caught Ember’s attention, as she saw that May was in much the same state as Miriam.

"You have found your true mate?" she asked.

"Oh dear..." Alexia whispered, looking like she was ready to take cover. Ember looked at her in confusion, but soon found out that she had just touched the very subject that unlocked May, the romantic wolf. May's eyes shone with elation and seemed twice as big as before.

"Why, yes I have. Four years ago, I bonded with my Shane," May continued without caring about whatever Alexia had said.

"It's funny how recognition can work, isn't it? I mean, I had known Shane for years, and suddenly, what was quite a normal day where we met for a run in the forest, turned out to be the turning point of my life, I mean... it just happened. I can tell you we did not just run that day." The disclosed details made a light pink colour spread along Ember's ears and cheeks Alexia looked quite unaffected, but Miriam was red as a berry. An unsure giggle left her, and she didn't seem like she could sit quite as still.

"Yeah, yeah, and we didn't see you two for four days, after Shane's howling announced your union," Alexia said, bored, like a story retold too many times. For the first time May reacted to Alexia with a pout; as if she had told the best part.

A titter left Ember for the first time. The others did not call out on it, but even Alexia could not hold back a small smug smile, when she heard the light laughter. She exchanged a look with May, who lost her pout and a calm warm expression took hold.

"My, my, you guys certainly seem like you are having fun." The voice was not to be mistaken, and whatever sound Ember had made died on her tongue. All eyes sought the woman who had spoken. Mrs. Macbay came down the stairs and joined them. Everyone except Ember relaxed in Mrs. Macbay presence.

"Morgana, is there something I can get you?" May asked politely, ever ready to please, while she raised a cup. Morgana smiled and sat down on the chair besides Ember. It made Ember more than alert. This was the mother of her mate, of the very man that was hurting by her rejection of the bond, and she had no idea what the woman's view was on the matter - or of her.

"May, where is your darling daughter?" Morgana asked after choosing what she wanted to drink.

"She is with her dad," May smiled. Ember took another sip of her water, trying to fade into the background, but Morgana was not so keen on allowing her to do that.

"May have a four-year-old daughter, such a sweet pup," Morgana told Ember, who was almost choking on her drink. She nodded while trying to hold back the cough that pressed against her airpipe. May looked a little apologetically at Ember, seeming to know what was going on, though Ember was not sure.

"I-I see, well that must be lovely," Ember said, a little hoarsely, to May.

"Oh, quite lovely, there is nothing like pups in the home," Morgana intercepted before May could answer. Ember blinked a few times, before she began to see what Morgana was playing at. Ember decided then and there that she was not going to play that game, so she turned the conversation to another topic.

"Speaking of homes, do you all live in the valley?" The question was open for anybody in the room to answer.

"Yeah, we are technically neighbors." Surprisingly, it was Alexia who answered before any other.

"Yeah. Shane and I live a little bit further down, but still pretty close, and Miriam-dear lives just across from us." This time it was May, while Miriam nodded in confirmation. And just by that information Ember could pretty much guess their ranks within the pack. Living near the Alpha meant a high rank, while the further away, the lower - but most families with pups mostly lived in the center, near the alpha, where it was safest.

"And I live with my boys here," Morgana finished. Ember just nodded thoughtfully - it didn't surprise her. She herself had lived pretty damn near the alpha in her old pack, and that made it that much harder to avoid his presence, especially when he began to want her attention.

"So, Ember, were do you come from?" Alexia asked, deciding no longer to keep to herself. Ember, pulled from her thoughts about pack matters, began to wonder how much she could disclose.

"I'm not really from anywhere anymore, just... a free wolf," she said evasively, trying to look strong in the eye of anyone who would want to challenge her vague explanation. Nobody said anything, they could quite clearly see that this was not a matter up for discussing. Alexia just got a slightly sharper glint in her light blue eyes as she observed the new wolf. Morgana didn't say anything even though she did hang onto the word "free" instead of using "lone". She knew what Ember tried to get across, but she wasn't buying it.

"What do you do for a living?" For the first time Miriam dared asked anything, and Ember smiled a little when she answered.

"I'm a photographer. I take pictures of wildlife and nature."

"Isn't it quite lonely without a pack?" Whatever smile she had worn fell when she heard the innocent question from Miriam. The other adults were completely silent. Ember was stunned when she heard it. She tried to come up with an answered and found that she could not come up with a reasonable answer without lying, and a lie could be smelled.

"Hello ladies."

Everyone looked up, not having sensed the new presence who had interrupted them. Jet, with the never-ending smile, looked quite pleased as he came into the room.

Saved by the bell.

"Darling," Jet said softly as he closed an arm around Alexia's stomach, then leaned down to give her a small peck on her cheek. Right before Ember's eyes, Alexia's hard expression melted, and turned into warmth and soft lines. It was almost beautiful to watch the transformation. It made the throbbing pain in Ember's chest that much harder to dismiss.

"Ready to go home if you are?" Jet said, holding Alexia to him. She nodded before smiling a little. A charming, crooked smile formed on his lips, before he turned his attention towards Ember.

"Oi, redhead, your backpack." So intently had she been watching the couple, and feeling relief that she could evade the last question, that she had not seen that he was holding her bag. The thought that that was what she had been looking for when she left her room, came rushing forth. He threw her backpack at her and she caught it just in time, seemingly bewitched by the couple and their interactions with each other.

"Miriam, you father called, he wants you home," Jet said as he began to turn around with Alexia. Miriam looked crestfallen for a moment, but then thought better of it and jumped down from the stool she had been sitting on. Saying goodbye, giving Morgana a peck on the cheek to the delightfulness of the older woman, she followed the couple out of the room, leaving only the three women behind.

"Thank you for the tea, May, would you be a dear and show Ember around the house?" Morgana asked after emptying her cup. May nodded with a smile, turning to Ember. Excusing herself politely, Morgana turned to leave the room, but stopped short in front of the door, where she addressed Ember.

"Just so you know dear, I do not blame you for whatever happened between my son and you, but that does not mean I like to see him in pain of any kind." With those word she left them. Leaving Ember stock still, not sure what to say or do. These words would repeat themselves in her mind, as May began the tour of the big house.

Ember fund out that while the house was big, it was not cold or hostile. It was warm, homely and every feature seemed to have something of a history or meaning. May explained a little about each room, and Ember soon knew whose room it was that was beside hers, by the end of the corridor.

It was Blake's.

"So, what were you all doing here?" Ember asked, when she finally found some freedom from invading thoughts. May looked a little sheepish.

"Morgana asked us to come because... well, for the fun I guess." Ember could smell the half-truth, but May needn't explain further, Ember got the picture loud and clear. Apparently hearing about May, who was mate bonded, and seeing Alexia with Jet, was supposed to help along her thoughts about Blake.

"Are Alexia and Jet also mate bonded?" It was a simple question but May looked saddened and that was all Ember really needed to see.

"Sadly no, they have been together for ages, but they never had recognition, and as you probably know, pups are mostly graced to true mates..." It was true, while it was not impossible to get pups, it was much more likely to conceive with a true mate.  Ember knew then, that if she ever mated with Blake, pups would not be long in the waiting. Especially because of the stronger induced heat that would be initiated by the new matebond. If everything had gone as according to planned by nature, Ember would be a ticking hormonal puppy bomb pretty soon. But in their situation she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. She had never heard of it before.

It turned her thoughts to a swirling mass that kept going and going, leaving her speechless for the rest of the tour.

 

***
(Approaches)

 

He was on his way. The car had a full tank, and nothing but a few bumps in the road disturbed his progress. The only help navigating the darkness of the night was the headlights of the car, and even then it seemed like an endless battle. His eyes were focused, tiredness non-existent. Not even the radio was on. So, when the mobile rang it was deafening, a wake-up call from whatever trance the road was trying to lull him into.

"Eric." The reply was short, curt and to the point.

"She is headed southwest - towards Colorado." The answer was simple, but the air in the car changed. Completely.

"Are you sure?" Eric asked. Not missing a beat, the guy on the other end answered. His voice was not that of a commander, a leader, but of somebody who followed, but still had self-respect and knew how he wanted to be treated.

"Positive, Eric. She has been hiding under a cover name. Her real name is Ember Martel Reyer and she should be in Colorado by now, if she hasn't already left."

"I see. The little bitch has been leading us around by our noses," Eric muttered darkly, the words dripping like poison from his tongue.

"What do you want us to do? We have no man in the area yet."

"Send Kent, Freddy and Greig. I will join them shortly. If you find other tracks, don't hesitate to act on them. May faith carry us, may faith protect us, brothers," was Eric's reply just as he ended the call.


-------------

*Edited 2018-6/4

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