As my day progressed, I couldn't get Mrs. Cortes's brother out of my mind.
I didn't understand why, exactly. I'd only just met him, and maybe it was his enticing smell, but my heart did backflips whenever I thought of him.
At lunch, while Logan ranted about something wrong with her wedding colors (Which she let Drew pick), I daydreamed about Lucien. I had no shame in it whatsoever, even if he looked way older than I was. He didn't wear a wedding ring, meaning he was unmarried, but I wasn't sure if he was single or not.
He'd only changed a little from the picture Mrs. Cortes had shown me. Long, twining black tattoo's twisted around his arms and a small tattoo on his cheek. He wasn't shaved, unlike the picture showed. Instead, he had a thin brown beard that made my heart fight marathons. His hair wasn't slicked back either. It was long and unruly, cutting his ear shell.
I sighed. My stomach was doing flips and while I tried to ignore it, something about Lucien made me want to see him again if I ever get the chance to.
"Raleigh? Hello? Earth to Raleigh?" Logan snapped her fingers impatiently in front of my face and I blinked, pulling my head back.
"What the hell Logan?!" I demanded. Logan raised a dark eyebrow, glancing from her food to me.
"I should be the one telling you that--What the hell Raleigh? You just blacked out on me!" I shrugged, scooping some food onto my spoon and swallowing.
"Did I? Sorry, I was just distracted," I said, a smooth sigh slipping from my lips. Logan grunted.
"Spill." She ordered, moving our lunch bags aside so she could get a better look at my face. I slumped in my seat.
"Spill what? What is there to spill?"
"Don't play all innocent with me Raleigh Anne Rivercrest! Something's up. Somebody's on your mind!... Is it a boy?"
"What?! No! Of course not!" I defended, but as I said so, I caught a tall, muscular figure out of the corner of my eye. I groaned, rolling my eyes.
"What?-Oh! It's Lucien." Logan acknowledged, sparing him barely a glance.
"You know him?" I asked. She shrugged, stuffing her face with a full loaf of bread.
"Kinda?" But she didn't elaborate. I didn't wait for her to either. I crammed my food into the trash and grabbed the first book I could reach from my stack.
"Where is he going?" I peered anxiously over my books. Lucien's eyes scanned the crowd, seemingly searching for someone. Mrs. Cortes, who was very small compared to Lucien, pointed to my table, and his golden eyes made contact with mine.
"Crap!" I squeaked. Logan scarfed a laugh as she watched me duck under my books, my lunch bag long discarded. The cafeteria noise swarmed in circles around my head as if a beehive were buzzing my ear.
"Do you think he saw me?" I whispered. Logan inclined her head towards me.
"What? Speak up! It's freaking loud in here!" Logan yelled, cupping her hands to enhance her voice. I rolled my eyes.
"Do you think he-!" My voice caught in my throat and my flailing hands immediately dropped to my sides as the dark, muscular figure of a certain Lucien drew nearer. Logan chuckled and Drew slid up to her side, masking ignorance. He held two grape soda's in his hands, the remains of the once frosty ice evident on his wet fingers.
"Has our love-defying Raleigh fallen in love with Lucien?" Drew teased. I sunk lower in my seat as his shadow neared.
"No!" I hissed, which was true. I wasn't in love with Lucien. What I was feeling was only a spark, like a flame begging for food. Only this flame grew stronger without food.
"Raleigh?" Lucien's deep, rugged voice questioned from what seemed to be above me. I peeked up at him between my fingers. Why, why was he always looking for me?
Logan was hiding her snickers behind her palm and I saw Drew's eyes glaze over, as well as Lucien's. Suddenly, Drew barked out a laugh and Lucien scowled.
"Quit it, Drew," he growled. He turned his attention back to me, and the searing heat of his golden eyes shot through me and I swallowed a gulp, opting for licking my lips instead.
"Why are you sunk so deep in your seat? You could hurt yourself," he asked, avoiding eye contact with me. I shrugged.
"So I can bury myself in a hole and rot to death," I grumbled. Lucien snarled lowly, and it was so quiet I almost missed it.
Mrs. Cortes must have noticed the widening of my eyes, or the parting of my lips, for she hoisted Lucien up and gave me a weak, apologetic smile.
"Do you have anything after school Raleigh?" She asked, giving Lucien a quick glare as if she were his mother. He shook in her hold, but she, with trembling hands, held him back.
"N-No. Do-Do you...?"
"Can you come to my office? Drew, Logan, I'd like you to be there too." She nodded to them as if they knew something I didn't, and they bowed their heads to Lucien as the siblings left, leaving me all hot and bothered.
"Do you already know Lucien?" I asked for what felt like the second time that day. Drew and Logan exchanged glances again and Drew nodded.
"Yes. Lucien and I have been friends for--like--centuries!" He laughed, but it sounded forced. Like he was actually serious about knowing Lucien for years.
"...Okay? And Logan? You've known Lucien?" Logan nodded.
"Yes. He was the one who introduced me to Drew," She said, intertwining their hands. I let my gaze drop to the small romantic gesture and couldn't help but wonder if I'd ever get my own romance like them.
For some reason, I was very nervous as the end of the day approached. My stomach had been tying itself slowly into knots the whole day, and Lucien's face couldn't get out of my mind. Was he mad at something I had said?
As the classes dispersed, all of them leaving to go do their own activities, I dragged myself of Mrs. Cortes's office, where she had instructed me to meet her. Voices argued loudly in a language I didn't understand from the other side of the door, but one of them was clearly Lucien. Just thinking of him had me all hot and warm in a second and sparks flying through my chest. Cautiously, as if touching a pan of steaming oil, I raised my hand and knocked on the door.
"Raleigh? Is that you?" Mrs. Cortes called. There was some scuffling behind the door, and I paused before I answered.
"Y-Yes? Can I come in?"
"Of course!" Swallowing the bile that had risen in my throat, I turned the golden knob and pushed the creaky door open.
Logan and Drew were already there, reclining on the wall by the window. Mrs. Cortes sat at her desk and Lucien was perched next to her, his eyes only following me. I tried very hard to ignore the strong pine scent as I made my way to a seat, sitting down after small hesitation.
"Glad you could make it Raleigh," Mrs. Cortes said cheerfully, standing up from her desk. I gulped and offered her a weak smile.
"I-Is anything wrong? Did I do something?" I asked. Mrs. Cortes stared at me for a moment, her foot pausing, then she burst out laughing. I frowned.
"What's so funny?" I asked.
"S-Sorry darling! Nothing is funny! Its just...you're not in trouble Raleigh, no." Mrs. Cortes said, composing herself quickly. I raised my eyebrow.
"O-Okay? Then...what do you need me for?" I asked. Logan and Drew exchanged glances again and Mrs. Cortes looked to Lucien, who was now standing. He rose slowly, and with each inch he lifted himself, I craned my neck further and further back just to get a good look at his eyes.
"I'll let Lucien explain." Mrs. Cortes answered softly, standing aside so Lucien could move in front of me. He bent down, crouching, and as our eyes connected, I felt a small voice in my head whisper-
Mate? My heart spiked and I looked at Lucien, who was studying me intently. I felt queasy. Something about Lucien's gaze made my stomach warm and my toes curl.
"Raleigh," Lucien carried out each syllable in my name and I turned to him automatically. His eyes flickered from my own eyes to my hands, as if asking permission. When I nodded, surprisingly, he carefully took my blood-drained hand and held it between his calloused palms. I swallowed a moan. If his hands felt that good on my hands, how would they feel on me...?
"Raleigh, there's something I-we have to tell you," Lucien murmured. His smile reduced to a frown, and I had a sudden urge to kiss his frown away.
"What is it? Is it bad?" I questioned, trying hard not to sound childish. Apparently, I did, for Lucien chuckled, his laughter vibrating deep in his throat. I had to swallow another whimper.
"No sweetheart. Nothing bad," he said. My stomach did flips at the nickname and I saw Logan winking at me from the corner of my eye. I rolled my eyes at her.
"Then what is it?" I asked. Lucien rubbed circles on my palms as he thought, probably debating how to break this news to me. I bit my lip to keep from making a sound, and almost immediately, Lucien's eyes flickered upwards.
"I-well-of course I have to explain. Since Jazz isn't helping today," he grumbled. Mrs. Cortes laughed.
"It's all you Alpha," She teased, drawling the word Alpha.
"Alpha? Like, the Greek letter, Alpha?" I asked, silently hoping I wasn't speaking out of turn. Lucien chuckled again.
"No darling, not like Greek Alpha...Do you know what werewolves are?" He asked. My eyes lit up and I felt my old fangirl self returning to me.
"Yes," I said resolutely. "They're humans who can shift into wolves, primarily at night. They don't actually need the full moon to shift, however, and travel and live in packs." Lucien seemed surprised at how much I knew, as did Drew and Mrs. Cortes. Only Logan didn't look surprised, only smirking at me and mouthing: You owe me. Which was true, since Logan had introduced me to werewolf fan-fictions.
"Yes...how did you know?" Lucien asked. I shrugged and pointed to Logan, who blushed under all the eyes on her.
"Logan gave me a werewolf fan-fiction once and I got interested in it," I said. Lucien hummed.
"So...do you know what an Alpha is? Not the Greek kind!" He added. I giggled.
"The leader of the pack, right? Him and the...Luna, if I remember correctly," I said. Lucien smiled softly at me.
"Yes, him and the Luna." He stood up, pulling me easily with him, which earned a startled gasp from me and a growl from him. An actual growl.
"How are you so light? Are you eating properly?" Lucien asked. I turned my head away. I didn't want to answer that, but Lucien tipped two fingers under my chin, and it was then that I realized the close proximity between us. I blushed and moved away slightly, which I knew Lucien noticed.
"I am...kinda?" I said, not really elaborating. An inhumane growl rose from Lucien's lips and his eyes glazed over again for a moment. He snarled but soon calmed himself enough for me to ask a question.
"D-Did you just...snarl?" I spluttered. Lucien grinned, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah...Yeah, I did." He said. He took my hands again, an electric tingle zapping my body. I squeaked and tried to pull my hands away, but Lucien held them firmly as if he already predicted my reaction.
"Raleigh." He said my name like a benediction. "Raleigh, please listen to me. I-I don't know any other way than to walk straight from the bush!" I froze, the tense atmosphere slowly clouding over us. Logan had stiffened on her perch, looking like a wolf ready to pounce. Drew looked grim, for the first time in my life, and Mrs. Cortes shuffled on her feet. It didn't help that they were all silent as if wanting to document my reaction.
"What is it?" I whispered. Lucien took a deep breath, more for him than for me, and looked me dead in the eye as he said-
"Raleigh. I am a werewolf."
"What?" I blurted the first thing that came into my mind, stepping away. Lucien let me, his hands dropping to his sides. The thumping in my chest grew into an erratic pounding and I nearly toppled into the chair behind me.
"You're a werewolf?" I whispered. I didn't want to believe him, no matter how hard my mind fought with me too. But the snarl, the eyes, the careful explanation...all the puzzle pieces were clicking perfectly into place. Lucien nodded solemnly.
"Yes, I am. I'm an Alpha...Well, Alpha King to be exact." But I wasn't listening. I looked behind Lucien, at Mrs. Cortes, Logan, and Drew, who all had their heads bent.
"A-Are you guys wolves too?" I asked. Sheepishly, Logan nodded.
"Yes. I am the Beta Female. Andrew's the Beta, and as Lucien said, he's the Alpha." I blinked.
"So what are you, Mrs. Cortes?" I asked. She shrugged.
"Nothing really. I can't be Alpha Female, because that's just another title for a Luna. I'm just... the princess, I guess." She shrugged. "It's complicated."
"A-And you're the...Alpha King? What's that?" I asked, looking at Lucien.
"An Alpha rules a pack, right? But the Alpha King rules all the packs. If an Alpha needs to make a decision that involves another pack, such as a pack transfer or a land trade, then those documents need to be run by me, since I rule all the wolves." Lucien explained. I nodded, still trying to process this.
"Okay...so you're the Alpha King," I said, pointing to the person as I spoke "You're the Beta, Drew. Logan's the Beta Female and Mrs. Cortes is the princess...how do I know you're not lying?" Lucien ran a weary hand through his hair, tugging slightly.
"Well then, how can I prove it to you?" He asked. I bit my lip, contemplating.
"I know!" Logan spoke up from her perch. She hopped down onto the carpet, grinning. "We can shift! If Raleigh sees us like wolves, then she'll have to believe us!" Lucien scowled.
"Do you remember what happened last time I shifted?" He asked. Drew winced, rubbing his stomach. I was initially curious, but now I'm not sure I wanted to know if he really was telling the truth.
"Okay then. I'll shift." Before Lucien or anyone else in the room could object, Logan closed her eyelids. Right before my very eyes, her eyes changed to a dark pink color. Her hair grew matted and long, her body covered in fur. Her feet and hands became paws, and in a blinding pink light, she was no longer Logan
No, she was a wolf!
Lucien stepped away from me, and I was immediately engulfed by a large, slobbering black wolf with pink eyes and a very eager personality. I staggered, and once I managed to regain my balance, I cautiously scratched her ears.
"Logan?" I asked. Logan, or, the wolf version of Logan, grinned wildly, licking my face. I giggled, pushing her away. She grunted at me, pawing at her nose. Then, she padded behind the desk, the wood banging for a few moments. Then, the Logan I knew appeared again, smirking.
"Believe us now?" She challenged. I felt the air leave my lungs. I couldn't say no now. She had just given me concrete proof and because of that, I could only nod my head in my stupor.
"Okay...so you are werewolves...What do you want with me? Eat me?" Lucien coughed and Logan rolled her eyes. Drew shrugged.
"Maybe," he teased, eyes glowing. I took a step towards the door and Lucien growled.
"Andrew!" he growled. Drew shrugged.
"Sorry, I couldn't help myself."
I frowned, anxiety curling around my stomach.
"Can someone answer me? Please? Or I might have a mental breakdown." I added that both seriously and sarcastically, but from the swift turn of Lucien's head, eyes wide and alert, I think he thought that I was serious.
"I-I'm joking, by the way. I-I only have mental breakdowns...Never mind." Logan chuckled quietly and I glared at her. She was finding my suffering hilarious.
"Anyway..." Mrs. Cortes drawled, stepping in easily. "Lucien, it's high time you tell her before...you know." I didn't know, but apparently, Lucien did for he turned back at me, his golden eyes once on me.
You know, now, looking at him and his hair and eyes, it made sense that he was a werewolf. His eyes had an undercurrent of hidden power and hot electricity. His appalling height and large, buff stature made it impossible to lie to him. He radiated a strong, ferocious vibe to anyone who was within his speaking radar, yet he spoke gently and quietly as if speaking to an easily spooked animal.
"Raleigh, I'm going to tell you something and I want an honest answer," Lucien said sternly. I nodded, my laughter subsiding.
"Okay...what is it?" I asked for like, the fifth time that day. Lucien sighed.
"Raleigh, do you know how wolves have mates?" He asked. I nodded again.
"Yes..." My heart thumped loudly in my chest, my toes and palms sweaty. Lucien blushed and he looked away.
"Well...you're my mate Raleigh."
"What?!" I blurted. I didn't even wait for him to react. This wasn't happening to me, not today. Anxiety took over me in a rush of panic and I took a step back, and Lucien took another step forward, his eyes glowing brightly. They began to swirl like a tornado, the gold blending with a dark black color.
"You're my Luna, Raleigh Rivercrest." My face exploded in blush and my stomach churned. Something pricked at my fingertips, sparking along my spine, but I ignored it. I kept taking steps back until Lucien had me cornered, one hand pressed by the side of my head. His scent intoxicated me and he looked hazily at me, as if he were drunk, waiting for my answer. I shook my head.
"I-I can't be your mate. You wouldn't want me," I stammered. "I...I can't be a mate for you...pick someone else..." Lucien growled.
"What?" He snarled. A whimper escaped my lips, a cold wash smashing the heat that once invaded my stomach.
"I'm a cripple!" I blurted. "I could never be a Luna! I could-I could never be yours-!" Lucien cut me off by closing the gap between us. His large leg pushed between my clamped thighs and I heard Mrs. Cortes gasp from behind us, but I couldn't see anything. Lucien's large frame blocked my view.
"Lucien!" I gasped as his knee lifted up, his knee-cap pressing against a sensitive area on my abdomen. A small moan escaped my lips and Lucien growled again, leaning closer to me.
"I don't care what you are! You are beautiful, understand!" He snarled and I whimpered again. "If you say you aren't again, I can and will make sure you scream it loud. Loud." The sheer promise in his voice made me shiver and his arms curled around my waist, his hand gripping my waist. I heard Logan giggle from behind Lucien, and I was going to laugh, but Lucien's nimble fingers made me gasp instead.
"Tell me what I want to hear Raleigh," Lucien growled. "Tell me what you are to me!" I sucked a deep breath, my breathing struggling to become even. Lucien pressed his knee harder.
"I want to hear it Raleigh. I want to hear the words from your lips," he growled. His hot breath fanned in my ear and sent coils of heat spiking through me. I shivered, my knees buckling underneath me. His strong arms gripped me steady against his hard chest and my face heated up.
"Say it," he snarled again, his lips ghosting over my ear. I swallowed the whimper threatening to surface from my mouth.
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