I tapped my fingers restlessly on the steering wheel of the rented car and stared at the empty highway ahead of me. It was covered in snow and lined with trees swaying gently in the calm breeze. Just passing through the familiar landscape brought up memories I would rather not think about. Ten years. For ten years I have avoided everything associated with home. I mean... almost everything. There was only one person that I kept in touch with, my youngest brother, Lowell. That was why I didn't think much of it when he called me last night.
At the time I was in a club with some friends, but I didn’t mind. I always made time for Lowell. I excused myself and went outside to pick up the phone.
"Hi, Lou," I greeted him with a smile on my lips. But his greeting was not the typical cheerful cry of my name. No. This time I heard a few sobs and immediately froze.
"Reid," he managed to say between the sobs. "Bran... You have to come home... Bran is dead." And the world stopped for a moment as my wolf howled its grief in my head.
The steering wheel groaned under my hands, and I reminded myself that breaking a rented car would cost me dearly. But it was difficult to make my wolf calm down. Six hours on the plane and three hours in the car were no fun and combined with the grief over the loss of Bran, the memories that creeped into my mind, and the nervousness of meeting my family had my wolf lusting for blood. That wasn't good.
I ran a hand through my black hair. My phone which was lying on the dashboard beeped to tell me that I received a message and lit up the screen to reveal a picture of me and Matt. My best friend and roommate for the last three years. And sometimes even a lover when the urge hit…
"Hey! Why did you leave so early?” A young blond man with deep blue eyes laughed as he entered the apartment. He was obviously a bit drunk, and the top of his light blue shirt was unbuttoned. He didn't even notice that I was packing my things in a duffel bag. He hugged me and tried to turn my face around so he could kiss me. But he was only five foot three to my six feet and his thin form didn’t have enough strength to oppose my muscular body. Not to mention the fact that I was a werewolf and he was human. When I ignored both his attempt at kissing and the hard-on in his pants grinding against my thigh he stopped and frowned at me. Only when he took a step back did he realize what I was doing. "Why are you packing?" he asked, confused.
"I have to go home," I said through a clenched jaw and tears, which were forcing their way into my eyes.
"Home?" He shook his head even more confused. I never talked to him or anyone else about home. I always easily avoided the questions. "What are you talking about? It's only half the semester. Where the hell are you going?” Now he was beginning to sound angry.
I exhaled slowly to calm myself down so I wouldn’t growl at him. This was definitely not the time to annoy me. "I have to go home. To Alaska, ” I confessed for the first time in ten years. Of course, Matt didn't take that well... He wanted answers, but I was too out of it to explain anything to him. So I got up and left ignoring his angry remarks and profanities.
My wolf howled with grief once again. My father, Alistair Ghealach, was the alpha of the pack, but it was Bran who became my guardian and practically replaced my father when he had no time for his children. I never wanted to go back to Silver Springs, but Bran’s death was something I never counted with…
Werewolves didn't die of old age, and Bran was definitely strong enough to protect himself. I had to go back, go to his funeral and find out what happened. And if necessary, avenge him. But first I would have to meet my family... Which was a challenge in itself. I tried to concentrate only on breathing when I finally got to the small town on the outskirts of Alaska.
For the longest time, Silver Springs has been an insignificant place at the edge of a large national park. Then, however, two werewolf packs and one vampire clan moved here, and together they built a city in which everyone could thrive. Not that people knew what creatures stood behind the prosperity of the city.
It was about noon, and there were a lot of people walking down the snowy sidewalks. I wondered if Beatrice's shop was still here and if she still owned it. I clearly remembered that she used to give me lollipops for free when I walked by as a kid. I wondered if Gavin still owned the pub where I tried my first beer, even though I was only fourteen. Not that alcohol worked with my werewolf metabolism.
I tried not to remember too much of the past, but I lost that fight the moment I drove through the city and reached a huge two-story house tucked away from the busy city. My house. The home of the Ghealach pack. It was made of dark grey stone and looked more like a little castle than a house. Several cars were parked in front. I joined them, but somehow, I couldn't bring myself to get out.
The last time I saw our house was when I left. Tears in my eyes, my nose broken, lip torn, and Father's knuckles marking my face. I was angry, ashamed, and hurting deeply. I sat in the car and stared at the house. Moss and ivy crept up the walls. In spring and summer, they made the house look like something from a fairytale. I used them to sneak out of the house many times when I was a kid. My phone beeped again, saving me from the edge of the deep hole filled with terrible memories. I looked at it. There were two messages from Matt… I’m sorry for yesterday I was drunk, can we talk? And Reid, where are you? Please call me. I put the phone in my pocket and instead turned my attention to the duffel bag in the back seat. Should I even take it with me? Was it presumptuous of me? To think I would be allowed to stay in the pack house? I decided to leave it in the car for now.
As I got out the familiar scent of the forest surrounded me immediately making me catch my breath. It screamed pack, pack, pack. I locked the car and went up the three stairs to a small porch. My hand was shaking when I raised it to knock. Damn it. I took a second to get myself under control and then I knocked. Well too late to turn back now…