This was Pack Errante.

The whispering immediately began as all eyes drank her in from head to foot.

Lucien was stunned. Whatever he had expected it was not this. Caia stood at the front door gazing at them, her cat-like green eyes still and calm as she took in the sight of the pack staring back at her from his large living room. He could tell by her tentative step towards them that she was more nervous than her placid expression let on. He watched in satisfaction as people came forward to shake her hand politely.

They had taken his warnings to welcome her to heart.

As distracted as she was by his pack she had yet to notice him, and so he took pleasure in the moment to really look at her. Her heritage gave her away, he decided… as did her smell. She wouldn’t realize it, how could she? She didn’t know. She was as graceful as the lykan she was but looked more fey than wolf. Moreover, she held herself far more coolly than the rest of them. She was like water to their fire.

He was stunned by his reaction to her.

He had not expected attraction.

He watched her sleek, light eyes widen every now and then depending on what kind of welcome she was given. Her skin was pale compared to the golden glow of his and his pack’s skin, her figure slight compared to the curvaceous shapes of the other women. He frowned, wondering how much of a problem this was going to be - she didn’t look like one of them at all. She stopped suddenly in the middle of shaking one of the mated female’s hands. Her bright gaze flew across to the other side of the room and widened.

“Uncle Magnus?” Lucien heard her whisper. In an instant Magnus had crossed the room and had the little lykan wrapped in his big arms. Lucien smiled at her surprise and then her tentative happiness. This is a good sign, he decided. It was a show of family, and it seemed to ease the tension radiating from his anxious pack. Magnus of course, Lucien realized wryly, seemed unaware of any tension.

“My Artemis!” Magnus exclaimed heartily, holding her slight weight away from him so he could inspect her. “Look at the size of you, Cy. I wouldn’t have recognized you on a clear, full moon!”


She teased her lip shyly between her teeth. She shed no tears, Lucien realized. Not like Ella and the others who had wept at his sister’s return.

He watched as Magnus lavished praise over her. She blushed prettily and kept holding onto him.

Suddenly Magnus looked up at him and turned the young lykan towards him. “Caia,” Magnus’ voice rumbled in the room, “I’d like to introduce you to Lucien: Pack Leader.”

Before this moment she had been bemused, but happy, in the arms of Magnus, his laughing eyes and coarse voice drowning out the buzz of wariness and apprehension she felt oozing from the rest of the pack. Although some seemed genuinely glad to have her returned, excited by her presence for reasons that were not yet clear to her, others - in particular females - viewed her as a threat. She could feel it on them, see it in their eyes...

The bubble of happiness Magnus had momentarily created popped as he spun her around to introduce her to the Pack Leader.

She had vague memories of a tall, dark haired teen that was moody and forever in some kind of argument with his parents. He barely spoke to her, never looked at her, and at times she had even felt like he despised her. There had been things said, arguments started, and she had been sure they had something to do with her, but as a child she’d had no comprehension of what they meant.

That dark haired young man had turned into a powerful lykan. He towered above most of the others in the room, excluding Dimitri, Magnus, and one young male who was gazing at her with an almost cruel twist to his lips. However, it was safe to say that standing at least at six and a half feet, with broad shoulders and an intimidating musculature, there was no question as to why this man was Alpha here. His face was all sharp lines and hard angles, his eyes like liquid mercury. She couldn’t believe any human would believe this man was not supernatural. His gaze bore into her, intent, watchful, waiting. His scent flooded her - an overwhelming combination of earth and rain. In fact, she decided, he smelled exactly the way the air did on the verge of a lightning storm. She held her hand out formally to him, and determined not to be intimidated by the brute, held his silver gaze with her own soft green one. He seemed to search her eyes for something and when finding nothing, clasped her small hand in his own large one. A rush of heat exploded like a million darts of fire shooting up her arm. Damn, she knew her eyes had widened in surprise. She was only appeased when his eyes mirrored her reaction. In reflex, she tried to pull her hand out of his, but he held firm, pressing his callused skin into her softness.

“Welcome home,” his low timbre spread a second rush of heat through her body. The feeling frightened her enough to give her the strength to pull away from him.

“Thank you,” she whispered. She wanted to tear her gaze away, was embarrassed even by the long look they shared, annoyed by the outrageous arrogance she felt pouring from this lykan, but she couldn’t. If it hadn’t been for Ella suddenly pulling her into a hug, she may have stood looking at her Pack Leader like a fool for the entire night.

“Ella.” She managed a small smile, inhaling her adoptive mother’s scent of earth and lavender. She remembered that smell more than the tall woman holding her. It told her of the affection this woman had once given her, and for this she hugged her more tightly.

“Now that you’ve met everyone,” Ella gave a sweeping gesture with her arm to indicate the pack crowded around her living room, “I suggest we let you unpack and get some sleep.”

The room was huge. A large four-poster bed dominated the center of the space. The grand oak of the posts was matched in the twin bed-side tables, the large wardrobe to the back of the bedroom, the cabinet facing the bed, and the chunky desk to the right of the door, not to mention the beautiful flooring that would feel cool on a warm summer’s night. The walls were painted in the softest green; bedspread and curtains matching. Caia was surprised by the color choice. It was so tranquil, so her. How did they know? She turned questioningly to Ella, who was standing patiently at the door. “This is all for me?”

Ella chuckled and stepped inside, taking her backpack from her and dumping it pointedly on the floor next to Caia’s suitcase that had been placed at the foot of the bed. She straightened, her grey eyes smiling at her. She was a slightly older version of Irini, Caia thought. An Elder also, many years older than what she looked, she was as beautiful as all the other lykans, with her svelte physique and long sable hair. “Yes. We wanted you to feel as at home as quickly as possible.”

“Thank you.” Caia really didn’t know what else to say, her eyes widening at the laptop that was sitting on the desk for her. “I like green.”


They were quiet for a moment, just gazing at each other awkwardly. The sound of raucous laughter from downstairs seemed to shake Ella. “This will all pull together, Caia.”

She merely nodded, not quite so sure. She felt so much like an outsider.

“We wanted you to have the utmost privacy. And if you can’t sleep there is a television and DVD player in that cabinet.” She pointed to the monstrosity facing the bed. “There should be plenty of films to choose from in there too. Laptop’s yours. Internet is up and running so …”

Caia couldn’t take it all in. “Thank you. You know you didn’t have to do all this … I never …”

Ella shook her off uncomfortably. “Shush. It’s done.”

She received another hug and a motherly kiss on the cheek before the older woman gracefully slipped from the room.

Caia sighed. Oh boy.

She thought about unpacking for two seconds before deciding against the idea. It would just make everything that little bit more permanent. Instead she strolled to the window facing the back of the house and gazed over the small backyard with its footpath leading into the thick, dark woods surrounding the house. To anyone else, those woods encroaching so close to the home would have perhaps been off-putting. To a lykan it was a dream to have the cover of the trees at your fingertips. She thought of her and Irini having to drive to the woods in order to run. Irini was so happy to be home. She’d barely looked at Caia once since their return, and she was beginning to wonder if the woman perhaps resented her far more than she had let on. They hadn’t a close relationship, but they were kind and considerate of one another. Irini had worked as a secretary during the day, a cover to fit in with the humans. The apartment was already bought for them so they had never needed to worry about rent, and the pack had set up an account for Irini to pay food and bills, and whatever else they needed.

Caia had lived her young life listening out for any small scrap of information Irini gave. She knew returning to the pack was all Irini thought about. It was how she got through her meaningless job each day. Caia was different. Irini had told her little of her parent’s death despite Caia’s pleas. She knew only that a member of the Midnight Coven had targeted her and her parents, and that the pack had been thrown into a miniature war with a man they called The Hunter. The reason why she and her parents had been targeted had not been explained to Caia. When she was younger she had thought her heart might break with the pain of not having known her parents, and of not knowing why she’d had them ripped from her, but as she got older she learned to stop asking, and the need had dissipated to a gentle thrum tucked somewhere under her skin. It had though left her with a desire to be free of everything; the tiny apartment they shared, the obligation she felt towards the pack for having protected her. Caia wanted to travel the world - to have tasted the full scope of moonlight.

The war, however, made leaving the pack impossible.

The pack doesn’t think like that anyway.

They mated, had baby lykans, and lived their lives all together. Safety in numbers. Lucien’s face suddenly appeared before her eyes and, even though there was no one there to witness her wayward thoughts, she felt her face warm. Well that can just stop right now, she snapped at herself. The Alpha. Pfft! Turning, she caught her blushing reflection in a long mirror attached to the wall. Caia frowned. She was quite small, she realized, studying her body and features. Her kinswomen seemed taller, fuller-figured, their features darkly exotic with their tanned complexions and rich-colored hair and eyes. They were all so beautiful compared to her pale scrawniness. Why didn’t she look like them?

Most Popular