Before long I was leading Matt through the city, hand in hand. Well actually glove in hand. Matt wasn’t quite used to the cold yet, which meant five layers, gloves, hats, and scarfs. His nose was adorably red. His eyes were twinkling happily though as he looked around, taking in the city. He begged me to show him all the places I used to hang out at as a kid. I was more than happy to comply.
“Ah, Beatrice’s store. This is where I spend all my allowance and even if I didn’t have any, Beatrice would always give me free lollipops.” I pointed to the old school store on the corner. Sadly I found out Beatrice was no longer here… It made me feel really sad and kind of nostalgic.
“Wow, I’m so jealous… My childhood in New York was nothing like yours.” He sighed and rested his head on my shoulder. Since we were almost a foot apart in height he didn’t even have to lean down for it.
“Well, there are many things you can do in a city and can’t do here.” I smiled down at him, tempted to pull down his scarf and steal a kiss. “Come on, we’re almost at the festival.” I could already hear the music and people chattering.
Silver Springs used to be just a little outpost on the edge of a national park, but then the Ghealach pack, the Silver Heart pack, and the Purgatory vampire clan moved here and built an actual city out of it. Now it even had a plaza that was at the moment covered in ice statues and stalls of all kinds. Little kids were running around, joining the game stalls and skidding and sliding on the lake in the middle that was supposed to be for skating.
“Oh, this is gorgeous…” Matt said in awe, taking it all in.
“If we didn’t have dinner with the pack I would’ve brought you here at night. It’s really beautiful when it gets dark, at least from what I remember.” I carefully touched his cheek, it felt cold against my hot skin. Matt sighed happily and leaned into the touch. I wished I could lend him my wolf’s warm fur. “How about we get something hot to drink, hm? They have mead and mullet wine or hot chocolate.”
“Hot chocolate sounds great.” He nodded. I entwined our fingers and we went on a quest for hot drinks. The merry music and laughter quickly put us in a lazy happy mood and we even allowed ourselves to get distracted by an ice fishing competition for children. Matt was quite happy when he caught three magnetic fish even though the kids around got at least ten each. He only started pouting when the other kids laughed at him. He quickly forgot about it though, when I brought him his hot chocolate. We drank the steaming sweet liquid and watched an artist make an ice statue of a swan.
Matt leaned into me, back to my chest, looking happy and easy. I was glad. He was a bit unsure of this world of werewolves and vampires and mercenaries I suddenly brought him into, but he was adapting quickly. Suddenly Matt’s eyes went wide and lit up with excitement.
“Hey! You know what I just realized?” he said with a big grin on his face. “This is our first actual date!”
Was it? Really? I guess that made sense. We met three years ago in university and became roommates and fuckbuddies. We never really dated and when we went out it was always with other people as well.
“You’re right. Well, to our first date of many to come, hopefully.” I smiled and raised my cup of hot chocolate. Matt went a bit red but raised his cup as well, a goofy smile on his lips.
Well, we weren’t the only ones who thought the Ice festival was a great place for a date… “Reid! Matt! Hey guys!” a familiar female voice made us turn around. It was Nadia, Yuri’s sister, her brown hair flowing wildly in the wind under her hat and her blue eyes glimmering. Behind her came no other than Marc who looked like he would rather talk to the ice statue than us. I loved Nadia, but she was extremely stupid for allowing Marc to court her. I was cheering for her and Jack.
“Hey, Nadia, want some chocolate?” I said as I hugged her.
“Nah, just had some. Hey Matt, how do you like Silver Springs so far?” she asked, hugging Matt aswell, which he looked quite shocked about.
“Oh, uh, it’s beautiful… But cold.” He smiled and leaned more into me. Probably because Marc glared at us from behind Nadia, his brown eyes full of murder. What an asshole.
“Reid, are you not keeping your mate warm?” she snickered, ruffling my hair. Mate… A very strong word in the world of werewolves. Technically Matt wasn’t my mate yet. I have not properly claimed him. Everyone thought I did though since Father didn’t kill him after Matt found out about werewolves. By the pack law, only a human that was mated to a wolf was allowed to know the secret.
“I would, but then we would get arrested for indecency.” I winked at her. She laughed and Matt went adorably red, hiding his face in my chest. After that, Marc quickly pulled her away from us. As we enjoyed the show of ice crafts and joined more kids games we met other people from the pack. Some ignored us, some blatantly avoided us, others actually greeted us or even stopped to chat. Everyone was looking forward to the hotpot it seemed.
We skated for a bit. Matt was surprisingly good at it; he even managed some pirouettes and stuff, while I was glad I could go forward without falling on my ass. Surprisingly, amazing werewolf abilities did not lend me the gift of balancing on ice skates. When we were done he sent me to buy him some candied apples while he took off his skates and brought them back to the stalls.
As I waited in line, someone suddenly draped their arm over me. The hell? I turned to glare at the big man with black hair and brown eyes, ready to growl but then his scent hit my nose. A Silver Heart wolf. Oh. It was Rowley, the Shield, and the alpha’s brother. I swallowed the growl.
“What a coincidence running into the black sheep of the Ghealach family here.” Actually, it wasn’t, the town wasn’t that big. “You know I was really disappointed when we didn’t hear from you after our offer…”
Ah… The offer was a taboo topic as well. Elliot, the alpha of the Silver heart pack offered me a place in his pack. Yuri and Scott were the only ones who knew and we didn’t talk about it.
“So tell me, are you now back in the Ghealach pack or what?” he asked, still draped over me. He was taller than me and more muscular so it was quite uncomfortable.
Buddy, I wish I knew the answer to that… “I’m staying with them until Bran is avenged,” I said in the end and bought the candied apple.
“Oh? Here I thought the mercenaries were already dead?” he asked, whispering uncomfortably close to my ear.
“Well, there is still the person who paid them, getting that person is all I care about right now. Excuse me.” I pushed past him and saw that Matt was already standing nearby, looking at me with a confused and concerned expression.
“Is that so?” Rowley asked, waving at Matt with a sly smile. “The offer still stands, Reid, call us when you come up with an answer.” He patted my back and left.
“Who was that?” Matt asked, frowning at Rowley’s back.
“The Shield of the Silver hearts pack,” I said and handed him the apple.
Matt thought about it for a moment then gave up and asked: “What is a Shield again?”
Every now and then we would stay up long into the night and I would try and explain how this world of supernatural worked. It was of course quite a lot to take in, so I didn’t expect him to know everything immediately.
“The Shield is the leader of the warriors, they are the first line of defense of the pack. They are the strongest with a good strategic mind, someone the pack can rely on for protection, someone the pack can trust with their lives.” Like Nikolai, Yuri’s father. In my opinion, Yuri got all his father’s traits that were needed for a Shield. If his loyalty didn’t belong solely to me I was sure that my brother, Trystan, the prince of the pack would’ve made him a Shield. But because Yuri was following me, the next Shield was supposed to be Marc. Now he was strong, but he sure as hell didn’t invite trust.
The Ghealach pack was really falling apart…
“Come on, let’s go, the hotpot will start soon.” I kissed his cheek and led him back home, while he happily licked his candied apple.