Forever WerewolfBy: Michele Hauf
The stretch limo rounded a plowed country road that had segued from asphalt to gravel about three leagues south. The area was remote, perfect for a pack to live in relative privacy, though there was a village not far to the west. The village catered to mortals with a taste for quality skiing and secret liaisons in cozy cottage hideaways.
The gravel road was lined in frost-coated trees. The sky was white, the road packed with white snow. The proverbial winter wonderland.
A remarkable castle rose from the snow-blanketed valley and into Trystan Hawkes’s backseat view. His father, Rhys Hawkes, had told him the fifteenth-century castle Wulfsiege was something to see. He had understated the remarkable structure.
Set in the Hautes-Alpes region of southeastern France, the multiturreted castle, forged from pale limestone, was surrounded by waves of pine forest, and mountains capped with pristine powder. The almost-white stone blended the castle against the landscape in an eerie effect that must have been a sudden shock to marauders from the past as they marched upon the fortressed structure.
A literal wall of snow, sheered off by a plow, fenced the left side of the road as they approached, as if a glacier, pushed just far enough, had decided to stop and rest for centuries. Pale winter sun glinted on the wall of snow and flashed as if across steel.
Trystan ached to ski or snowboard the gorgeous powder. His wolf pined to lope along the forest’s edge under the moonlight on four legs instead of two.
“Should have brought along the board,” he said to the driver, who pulled the limo to a stop at a massive iron gate coated with more of the hoarfrost and flashed his credentials to the gatekeeper. “Man, I’d love to shred that stuff.”
“The Alpine pack hosts the games every other year,” the driver said in a cheerful voice. “Edmonton Connor is the principal. Wolves from dozens of packs across the world show for the competition.”
“Competition,” Tryst muttered, feeling a blood-deep competitive streak flash through his veins. “Winter games, as in skiing and snowmobiling?”
“And snowboarding and two- and four-legged races. It’s quite the spectacle. This isn’t the year though. Next year.”
Tryst gave a disappointed whistle. “I will most definitely be back.”
“It’s quite calm here today. One would never guess just yesterday the area experienced a fierce snowstorm. Covered an icy layer of December snow with a foot of the fluffy stuff. Pretty.”
Pretty, Tryst thought, but also dangerous. Mother Nature may be capable of producing stunners like the view he’d admired while driving up, but she could also be a bitch in areas like this set between mountains and valleys. Sudden storms could trap recreational skiers without warning.
“We’ve arrived, Monsieur Hawkes. Shall I wait?”
Tryst tore his gaze from the immense limestone front of the castle, where purple banners depicting a wolf rampant whipped in the wind, and dug in his pocket for his wallet. Then he remembered this was a limo the pack had sent to pick him up from the nearby village, and not a cab. Before that, he’d cabbed it from the airport to the village. The flight from the Charles de Gaulle in Paris had been rough. He hated flying, unless it was unimpeded through the air on a snowboard over extreme white powder.
“Must partake of the pow while I’m here,” he muttered.
He lived for physical competition, and winter games were his sport of choice. Skimming down fresh powder, icy snowflakes misting his face, his body in complete control of the board—heaven. He couldn’t believe there were actually games for his breed. Outstanding! Too bad he’d come here during a year when the games were not featured.
“I’d say drive on,” he said to the driver. “I have to hand the package directly to the receiver, and it may take a while. Heck, I hope to have a look around while I’m here.”
And learn more about the pack, was what he didn’t say. Pack life intrigued him. He’d not grown up as part of a pack, and the allure of a tightly knit group of werewolves living together as family was irresistible to his wondering heart.
“Enjoy the weather, monsieur.”
Tryst stepped out of the limo and tugged the small titanium case, handcuffed to his wrist, along with him. “Thanks, man,” he said. “Be careful on that hairpin turn going out. That was a doozy in this long car.”
The driver nodded and drove off.
The wind blew Tryst’s scatter of hair across his face. Brushing it away, he trudged over the packed, icy snow that glossed the courtyard before the massive castle, eager to see the inside of this fascinating place.
“Wulfsiege.” He loved the name. It conjured images of medieval werewolf warriors defending their homes and family against ancient marauders.