Forged in Moonfire (Amber Lee Mysteries Book 4)(6)By: Katerina Martinez
They had been driving for a while. The sun was still high in the sky but it had already begun its descent to the west, seeming almost to fall slowly upon the snowy caps of Mount Charleston which glistened in the light. Nevada sure didn’t feel like a desert to him, what with the bustling forest at the mountain’s feet and the sheer number of road signs advertising ski resorts along the way.
“Is this your territory?” Aaron asked.
Jackal lowered the volume and smiled. Her eyes were hidden behind a pair of reflective aviators now. “Our home away from home,” she said.
“Why so far?”
“We’re not city wolves, Aaron. I mean, we live in the suburbs of a city but you can’t exactly throw your wolf skin on and run wild around there.”
“So we cut ourselves a slice of the mountain and go out to it whenever we want to spend a little time with the wolf.”
“Cut yourselves a slice?”
Jackal grinned at herself, satisfied with the response she was about to give before she even gave it. “You don’t think we’re the only werewolves around here do you?”
“A couple of days ago I didn’t even know this species existed.”
“And now you’re about to meet a whole bunch of us. You’d best get yourself ready for that otherwise you’ll want to fight us all. I wouldn’t want to have to kick your ass a second time in one day.”
“I could have taken you,” Aaron said, only it was his ego that was doing the talking. He remembered how he had to focus on absorbing blows and how Jackal didn’t show any signs of getting tired. Another few hits and she would have been bringing the pain.
“I would have left you bleeding on the sidewalk if the old wolf hadn’t told me to stop. Unless you let me train you, you aren’t going to be much good in a fight against a werewolf.”
“Do you do much of that?”
“Fighting werewolves? Only when another pack gets a little grabby and tries to move into our territory. Mainly that happens on the full moon, but we all get a little riled up then.”
A car went zooming past; the only other car Aaron had seen for miles.
“Then there’s the cougars,” Jackal said.
Jackal smiled to herself. “Maybe that’s a story for another time. We’re here anyway.”
The car pulled in to a smaller road that wove around pine trees at an upward incline. Sunlight was breaking through the gaps in the trees, but its position in the sky and the height of the mountain had robbed the sun of most of its vigor by now.
A few minutes later, Jackal stopped the car in a tarmac clearing and stepped out. The road ended here, but Aaron spotted a couple of dirt roads leading further up the mountain and into the forest. Aaron also noted a few picnic tables, bins, and signs showing the names of the various paths as well as their lengths but there wasn’t a human in sight. He took in a breath of crisp, mountain air and let it fill his lungs before exhaling.
“Gorgeous, isn’t it?” Jackal asked.
“It’s something,” Aaron said.
“This is the hub of our turf. We claim three of these trails for ourselves.”
Aaron counted six. “And the other three?”
“Two for the Sky Hawk pack,” she said, spinning around and pointing at each trail. “And one for the Mountain Cougars.”
There’s that word again; Cougars. Aaron noted that the Cougars claimed the longest single path; almost twelve miles of trail. Jackal’s pack’s trails weren’t as long, but they had more of them. Aaron figured that had to mean something, but he didn’t understand what yet.
“So, what happens now?” Aaron asked.
“Now we train you,” she said, coming up to him, the sun glinting off her glasses. “But first we’re going to meet the rest of the pack. No doubt they’d be dying to meet the Alpha’s son.”
“My dad is the Alpha?”
“We call him the old wolf. He doesn’t like Alpha. But yeah, he’s our leader. Good one, too. You’re gonna have to really wow us or else his reputation will take a hit too.”
“You’re his blood. If you’re weak, it means he’s weak; at least in some way he is.”