"...Kristal?" A husky female voice echoed in my head like a bad dream, "..are you listening to me?"
Honestly? I hadn't been. When I had woken up, everything felt surreal, like I was floating outside of my body. My eyes had opened and this woman had just been there, glorious and terrifying and saying my name. My mind was falling, trying to find a concrete memory to hold on to... but there was nothing. It was as if, before this moment, I hadn't existed.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" my voice trembled, a course sound... as if my vocal cords weren't accustomed to being used. It sounded just as far away as I felt.
The stunning woman in front of me sighed, brows furrowing as she pinched the bridge of her nose. Her face was contorted as if struggling to find the words to say. Her brown hair was streaked with gray, though it suited her. She looked like she stepped out of some western novel, the kind where the woman takes on the role of the cowboy hero.
"I need you to pay attention, it's important." Forest green eyes pierced my own... but she didn't seem angry. Frustrated and concerned, but not angry.
"I'll try." slipped through my lips as a hoarse whisper. Something inside me wanted to please her, this beautiful stranger. I couldn't place my finger on why, just that I had to
"How much do you remember?" exhaustion was evident in the way her shoulders slumped, how her mouth pulled down in the slightest of frowns. I wanted to answer her question, I had to answer her question.
"Bits and pieces, everything feels so clouded." I felt embarrassment creep into my cheeks. There really wasn't more to say, more to give her. When I came too, all I had were fragments of a life I couldn't recall.
"Typical." The woman muttered it seemed her frustration wasn't towards me but more so someone I had yet to meet.... But how did I know that? Why did it pain me that I couldn't give this intense stranger any answers? Why did I want her approval so badly? Who was she?
"Who are you?" burst forth through my lips before I could contain them. She looked towards me, a surprised expression crossing her face for a moment before it dissipated into something softer... a look that didn't quite seem to fit her striking features.
"Zephira, Alpha to this pack... your pack now." The calming tone she used took me off guard... though what did she mean by Pack? My head started to spin as the fog I seemed to be under lifted slightly.
A memory came back to me, of running. Running free under the light of the moon, but I wasn't alone. There were others with me laughing and hollering, I couldn't recognize any of their faces except for Zephira who ran ahead.
"My... pack?" For the first time since waking up, I took a look around the room I was in. I was sitting on a couch, clothed in a shirt two sizes too big and pants that couldn't possibly be mine. On the other side, curled into a ball, lay a beautiful husky. There were others littered in what I assumed was a converted barn. Sleeping peacefully... butt naked.
My heart skipped a beat.
I had no idea who I was, where I was or what had happened to me.... And it started to flood my senses.
"Hey, hey!" Zephira started, a calm yet stern tone as if knowing my mind had begun to spin out of control.
"Who am I?" It came out like a choked whisper, with tears threatening to roll off my cheeks like a waterfall. Zephire opened her mouth to speak but was cut off by a sudden voice beside me.
"Kristal Lyall," his voice was deep and husky, it sounded almost familiar... but I couldn't be sure. "Blood type A positive, college dropout. You make your money by taking care of wealthy people's dogs."
My head turned towards the direction of the voice. Where the Husky once lay was now a very naked, very handsome, man. 'Just, don't look down' I thought as my eyes snapped up to stare at his.
His appearance on its own was stunning. He looked as if he could be related to Zephira, they shared the same striking features... though he was younger, I could tell that much. His eyes were a mismatch of green and brown, and a single white streak shot through the length of his hair.
"Adrien!" Zephira snapped, any softness had disappeared into anger as she whipped something at the guys, Adrien's, head. He caught it with ease, though he didn't take his eyes off me during the entire exchange.
"Do you... do you know me?" I kept my eyes trained on his, resisting the temptation to look lower. There was a sadness that passed his face, but only for a moment. Were we friends? Lovers? None of it mattered if I couldn't remember. He was a stranger to me... and quite notably he had been a dog just moments ago.
"...something like that." He almost sounded mournful, though the vagueness left a knot in my stomach.
"Put some damn clothes on and start waking everyone up." Zephira angrily snapped at him. There was a tension in the air as I turned to look away from the naked man.
"Kristal, come here." And like an obedient dog, I listened. Her face softened again as she handed me a pile of blankets. There was a look of pity... no, not pity... regret, that passed her features. Still, I couldn't disobey.
"Start throwing these on the others, then come help me with breakfast." She gave me a pat on the shoulder before moving towards the kitchen.
Looking around the barn I saw far more naked bodies than I had anticipated. My cheeks flushed slightly as I moved around the room, covering various naked bits. I counted nine people other than Zephira and Adrien... were they all part of this pack?
I should have been far more freaked out by all this... but with Zephira here it felt like it was fine. If she was treating it as normal, then it had to be.... Right? Was this normal, or was I just in shock? Only time would tell.
I made my way towards where she appeared to be working in the kitchen. The smell of bacon hit me and my stomach grumbled. I hadn't realized how hungry I was until now. When was the last time I ate?
"I'm sure you have questions," Zephira remarked upon my approach. She held out a large mixing bowl and I just... took it.
"When everyone wakes up, we can discuss things. For now... do you remember how to make pancakes?" As she spoke it felt like a memory was on the very tip of my tongue.
"Yes... I think so." I knew what ingredients I needed, how hot to make the pan... I could see myself making pancakes with... someone? My brain tried so desperately to fill in who it was but they were just a blur. Male? Female? I had no clue... but we felt happy.
Zephira nodded and left me to it. As I moved to help, my mind had time to wander.
Was someone looking for me? Did they miss me? I knew my name now... and my occupation... but what else? I could barely recall what I looked like even in my own memories. Zephira seemed to know me, Adrien, too... he knew a lot about me. Was he a stalker? Were we friends? I couldn't feel any malicious intent from either of them... but it was all too strange.
"I think you made enough." Adrien's voice was right in my ear, frightening me. My knee-jerk reaction was to elbow him in the gut. He let out a grunt of pain and stepped away from me. I heard Zephira and a new voice chuckle. Strange, maybe I had taken self-defense classes in my old life.
My brow furrowed as I looked from Adrien to the giant stacks of pancakes that sat neatly on a large platter.
"Oh." Was all I managed to say as I sat the batter bowl down.
"Is this the new pup?" A gruff male voice asked. Looking towards it, I was met with a very large man. He was muscular, with sandy blonde hair pulled into a bun and a full beard kept neat. His eyes were so blue I thought I might drown in them.
Zephira walked over and kissed him on the cheek. My heart panged with jealousy. Of which party, I couldn't be sure
"I've been told my name is Kristal," I replied, albeit hesitantly.
"I know," With those two words, I felt my skin run cold. "I know who you are."