Destiny for the Opeth Pack wolves overrides want as Józsi returns to Hungary to save the lovers he’d left behind from their mad Alpha.
Read the first chapter:
Ten Years Later.
It never snowed this early in Texas. Especially not in November in Houston. Still, looking out of the window onto the streets of downtown Houston, Józsi saw the snow fall. The faint idea that there would be a lot of people finding out that a cold winter actually did not mean shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt amused him.
Unless you were lupine. Then you simply didn’t give a fuck about the weather.
Nothing in the States could compare to the harsh winters in any Eastern European country.
Józsi inhaled sharply and cold air from the open window filled his lungs. Picking up his glass of Hungarian red wine, he took a long slow sip and sighed. The warm liquid slid down his throat but didn’t have the same warming effect as the brandy he’d had the night before.
Closing his eyes, he leaned back into the soft leather recliner and picked up the cigar he’d just lit. He took a draw and exhaled, filing the room with the scent of tobacco, cocoa, and smoke. The scent reminded him of growing up in Hungary. He smoked the same cigars his father smoked, Proprio. Drank the same red wine his father did. And ultimately ended up the same way his father did.
Oh, Józsi could get the girl if he wanted.
He’d had plenty of opportunities growing up in Hungary amongst the wolves, and even more when he’d moved to Texas. American women were infatuated with his strong jaw, soft yet masculine accent, and the way he carried himself. Women constantly asked if they could run their fingers through his long, dark hair, sighing blissfully when their fingers ran over strong, broad shoulders. He’d simply fluttered thick, dark lashes at them, smiled and laughed a rich, masculine sound that he knew made blood pool below a woman’s stomach.
Sometimes, they’d just look into his eyes and swoon. He knew there was intensity in his gaze, which was evident in his dark blue irises. There was only one who was not affected by him at all. But that didn’t matter.
A knock at the door forced Józsi’s attention from his memory.
Checking his watch, he noted it was only just after six pm. He took a puff on his cigar and set it down in the large, dark cigar ashtray. Walking to the door, he looked through the peephole and sighed. The scent of another wolf always made him anxious.
“I know you’re home,” the female voice yelled. “Let me in, it’s fucking cold out here!”
Józsi groaned. It had to be her. Of course it did.
Opening the door, Lukina stood before him, dressed in her usual white cloak. Red curls spilled out from beneath her white stocking cap, framing her doll-like face.
He hadn’t seen her in ten years. The memory of leaving her and Ilona all those years ago came crashing back into his mind followed by images of the last few times he’d been back to Hungary. Not because he was homesick, mind. Nor had his trip had anything to do with the love he had for both Lukina and Ilona. He’d thrown that away years ago when he left them.
He returned merely to keep tabs on things he found himself unable to feel otherwise. Distance wasn’t a problem for reading auras but without practice his skill set became less than what it was.
He shrugged the memories off. This was no time for memories from the past.
His gaze finally really examining her, Lukina stole his breathe.
She pushed her way past him and headed straight for his recliner.
He frowned. “How did you find me?”
She glanced over her shoulder. “I had a little help from our bond through the witch. And I did some digging on my own—”
God damn it. The pack witch must have returned and resumed her former position by now. She’d left for the same reason he had. No desire to deal with Prophecy. Her bond with all the wolves made it easier for her to keep tabs on them wherever they were. Józsi hated that shit because it meant things like Lukina showing up could happen without difficulty. He never could truly hide from the world he wanted to escape. Still, he wasn’t about to have Lukina stalking through his apartment like she owned everything. Józsi moved toward her and cut her off. “What the hell are you doing?”
Turning perfectly plump lips down in a frown, she sat down. Lukina picked up his glass of wine and took a drink. “I needed that.”
Growling low, he set his hands on his hips. “Aren’t you still underage?”
She wiped her mouth and smirked. “Does it matter with wolves?”
It didn’t. Wolf custom and age ran differently than human standards. Józsi sighed. “What do you want?”
She lifted the wine glass to her lips and peered over the rim, her blue eyes sparkling with interest. “I can’t pay my favorite pack mate and obsession a visit?”
Tilting his chin down, he glared at her. “No. When you show up it usually means something is wrong. Spill it.”
Looking up, she narrowed her eyes at him. “You’re no any fun anymore, Józsi. What happened?”
He turned away from her. Reaching for the bottle on the table beside him, he picked it up and retrieved another glass. Filling it with wine, he took another drink. Swirling the liquid around the bowl, he returned his gaze to Lukina. She was so tiny, so petite, it was a wonder that she hadn’t been killed off as a baby.
He’d never tell her that he admired her courage.
Swirling the glass around in her hands, she looked down for a moment. Speaking low, the words came loud anyway. “Anyway, you’re needed back in Budapest.”
He scoffed, crossed his arms over his chest. “No I’m not.”
Lukina cocked a brow and scowled at him, her tone challenging his. “You don’t even know what for.”
As though he gave a fuck about challenges from other wolves. The only thing that mattered was that he was left alone, as he had been for the last ten years. “It doesn’t matter.” He set his glass down on the marble countertop.
Her head shot up. “Yes, it does. It concerns—“
He shouted, “No, it doesn’t Lukina. I am not needed back there anymore.”
She set her glass down on the table beside her and stood up. Storming across the room, anger glaring in her eyes, she reached out and slapped Józsi.
The sting burned his face and made his head spin. His jaw dropped. It’d been a long time since someone had slapped him like that.
Fire burned in those deep blue eyes of hers. “How dare you turn your back on our lover! Leave the pack, fine. Let Kiba and his bullshit politics burn bridges, fine. But you gave me your word you would never turn your back on us.” Her voice rose in pitch.
His shoulders stiffened. He turned away from her, looked out the window and back at her again. “You were ten years old, Lukina. How was I supposed to know what was going to happen? Or that you’d—“
“Remember? I love you, and I loved you then, but not like Ilona. You were everything to her. You were the one who was not content with Hungary. Or the pack. So,” she said as her voice calmed and she was now in his face– a funny sight, he realized, since he was a good foot and a half taller than she–, “you’ll listen to what I have to say before you make the right choice.” She punched her finger into his chest for emphasis.
Józsi turned his gaze from her and looked out the large window.
Gray skies had grown darker.
Lukina’s small hand cupped the warm spot on his cheek and forced him to face her. “You have to come back. You know I’m right.”
Her voice had gone from angry to soft and pleading. He hated that. It made things so much harder for him.
Growling low, he let the threat between them die. He wasn’t going to play her Alpha or mate. “Fine. What do you need of me?”
She returned to her seat. “First off,” she cleared her throat, “Kiba’s gone insane.”
He shrugged. “This is nothing new. We all knew it would happen one day. His increasing behavioral issues were already causing problems when we were all growing up. It didn’t seem odd to anyone else that he picked random fights and had the crazy possessed look in his eyes. Hell, even his brother Les didn’t appear shocked, sadly. There is no one Alpha enough to take his place?”
She didn’t reply.
He understood the implied silence. “Oh no,” he backed off, “I’m not coming back to fulfill some God damned prophecy to get the pack to Paradise. I swore off prophecies when I moved to Texas.”
“Yes I know.” She rolled her eyes. “You’ll leave all that shit to the now dead Elders.”
He stiffened and gasped. “Now dead? What happened?”
“I told you.” She leaned forward, sipping her wine again. “Kiba went insane. The ones who could fight him lost, the others were killed by hunters.”
Józsi leaned back in his chair. “So be it. Old bastards were nothing but trouble anyway.”
Lukina stood and stalked toward Józsi with that angry look in her eyes. Hand raised, she swung.
He caught her fist this time. She was still cold from outside despite the invisible fur layer and coat, but something else was off.
Heaving a sob, she stepped back and then threw herself onto him, wrapping her tiny arms around his large frame.
He felt wetness on his silk shirt, tears from her. She began crying, sobbing louder. “It’s not fair what they’re asking us to do, Józsi. It’s not fair.”
Józsi wrapped his arms around Lukina and stroked her hair.
She nuzzled closer. He could feel her body was cold. He inhaled her clean rain scent, tangling his fingers in her hair. “What’s going on?” His voice dropped to a bare whisper.
“Kiba’s most recent fits of insanity have provoked others to leave and put fear into the minds of our female wolves who stayed. He’s gone off his rocker and actually abused some of our women.” She sniffled. Backing up, she looked into his eyes.
He saw himself reflected in her beautiful round eyes and wanted to tear his own heart out. Why he had left her and her sister so long ago was beyond him. It had just needed to be done, he quickly rationalized.
He had to ask. “What of Ilona?”
Her sobs grew louder. “Yes, drága.” Dear. “She has been abused by Kiba.”
He ground his teeth loudly. “How did this happen?”
She sniffled and pushed back from his body. Looking into his eyes, she spoke through tears. “She changed her name to honor your journey and Kiba punished her for it. He would not have an American wolf in a Hungarian pack. So he beat her.”
Józsi wanted to growl louder and rip out Kiba’s throat. But he kept his emotions in check. Illogical, emotional outpouring wouldn’t do any good. “He’s old and she cannot be so young anymore. Surely she could defend herself.”
Lukina nodded. “Yeah, she could. The first few times he came to punish her, she had been ready and caught him off guard. But the last time he’d brought a few other rogue wolves and kidnapped her.” Her sobs grew louder once again.
Józsi clenched his fists and looked at the ground, eyes closed. He lifted his head, rubbed a hand down his chin and let out a deep breath.
“We need you to come make things right, Józsi. Please!”
He hated hearing her beg but he stroked her soft hair and whispered, “This is the way of wolves. It truly is survival of the fittest.”
“No!” Lukina burst into hysterics, pounding her fists on Józsi’s back. “No, not like this! This isn’t us against man or nature! It’s insanity at the hands of the Flower Maiden!”
That bitch again. Their supposed goddess whose sole purpose was to guide them toward this ideal of paradise…Józsi scoffed. With Lukina’s outburst, he tried to remain calm despite the storm raging inside of him. “We all knew it would happen someday, Lukina. The prophecy said so. The pack must now make a choice.”
“No, Józsi! It cannot work that way with an insane maniac on the loose. He’ll kill us all. Even our pack witch has left us, leaving us defenseless. Her absence we can deal, with but do you not care for your other mate?”
He turned from her, shook his head. Of course he cared for his two mates, but the triad of him, Lukina and Ilona was nothing more than an experience he’d regretted because of the outcome. Why bother with the painful details? “Why do you both need me?”
“Because Kiba is losing his mind and needs to be stopped. He is causing problems with other packs and will not listen to our Elders or anyone else. And we still rightfully belong to you!”
He’d felt Kiba losing his mind from across the ocean. The weak bond had nagged at him at various times throughout the years, particularly in the winter, but there had been no way for him to be sure since he’d broken off most of his contact with the Moon pack, finally severing ties after his last trip six years ago. “What makes you think I can stop him?”
“Nothing. Ilona and I want out of Hungary. We want to be free again as we were before Kiba.”
Trailing a fingernail over her soft cheek, he wiped away tears. “The man is a fucking psycho. I cannot help you. There’s nothing I can do. I’m sorry. ”
Her eyes widened. “But you promised Ilona and me. You promised you’d always defend us, always love us. You promised that someday you’d come back for us.”
“I…I…” His mouth hung open. He had no defense. In truth, he’d given his word at an early age before he’d had all the shit to he had to deal with. He’d sworn before the moon itself to protect them from harm as they were bound to him, and he to them.
He realized now there was no other choice. “Okay.”
Her head tilted to the side and her voice lowered. “You’ll be on the plane tomorrow?”
He sighed heavily. “Tonight.”
Lukina looked into his eyes. “Really?”
He blinked. Seeing desperation in her exhausted expression tore at him. He couldn’t leave his mates alone, even if he wanted to. “Yes. Really.”
Her eyes lit up. “Thank you, drága.” Dear.
Anything for Ilona. “What is her American name now?”
Lukina ran a hand through his dark hair. “She calls herself Meredith.”
Surprised, he shifted his weight and held Lukina closer. “Does anyone actually call her that?”
She nodded. “Yes. She’s grown quite fierce and violent since Kiba lost his mind.”
He sighed heavily. “Has Kiba been talking about finding Paradise again?”
Lukina blinked and wiped away tears that streamed down her cheeks. She sniffled. “Yes. Swears he can find it, and that all of us belong there. Says the way to Paradise has to do with sacrificing certain females of our pack. He’s also been talking about showing humans exactly what we are so they can worship us.”
Paradise. The magical place wolves were said to have been created in, then kicked out of, and granted return only upon fulfilling a prophecy no one knew much about.
Pure bullshit, as far as Józsi was concerned.
He hated that she’d been here ten minutes and already he’d been brought back into pack politics.
“The man was always an old fool, ever since I can remember. Now he’s just slipped further into madness.”
Lukina pulled away from Józsi and returned to his leather recliner. She picked up his cigar and took a puff on it.
He rolled his eyes at her and let her take his cigar.
Finally he tossed her his torch. “It needs to be relit. And since when do you smoke?”
“Drága, anything to be close to home again.” She referred to her father and his own. Both men used to smoke cigars while out walking around the castles on the north side of Lake Balaton. She picked up the lighter and lit the end of the cigar, taking a few short puffs before getting a deep breath. Exhaling, she blew out a thick ring of smoke that billowed above her head. “I like the smell of these things.”
“I do too.”
Neither said a word for a few moments. Józsi watched Lukina closely, wondering what exactly was on her mind. She’d loved their homeland, so had Ilona. Could they both really want to live elsewhere when the proper nourishment and environment existed for wolves in Hungary?
He had to suppose so.
Lukina had always been progressive.
She twitched nervously, fiddling with her fingers while sitting in the recliner.
“Why didn’t your sister accompany you here instead of remaining back in Hungary?”
Lukina’s eyes widened. Sorrow crossed her beautiful blue eyes.
Józsi felt like shit for asking, but the question needed to be voiced.
“Because Kiba had been chasing her. I didn’t know what else to do so I came here.”
Naturally. Józsi rubbed his temples, feeling the stress build already. “Where did they last go to?”
She took another puff on the cigar. “I don’t know. He wouldn’t say to me or anyone else who asked, for that matter.”
“I assume this behavior has to do with Prophecy.”
She nodded slowly.
His jaw twitched. “Figures.”
Lukina finished her glass of wine. “Hit me again.”
Józsi filled her glass. He hated asking but needed all the information if he was going to risk his life for his mates. “So, what’s new in this prophecy?”
Lukina took a long sip of her wine and set her glass down. “You’re still the one we’re all betting on who will be Alpha.”
He snorted. Never. He wasn’t cut out for the responsibility of giving others hope only to have it yanked it out from under them like a cheap rug. “As if.”
“Hush.” She clasped her hands together and tilted her chin up. “The witch left us, as I said earlier. She could only translate about half of the texts left by the Elders before they died. Once the pack is structured properly with all the parts are in place, the heavens will supposedly open up and let us into Paradise.”
He frowned. “The idea is pure bullshit at this point. We’ve been on this planet for how many years, and so far have been given what? A witch that left us, an insane wolf who became Alpha, and what of Les?”
She ran a hand through her red curls. Pulling her cloak around her, she sighed. “Les is staying with us but keeping mostly to himself. He made a play for the witch but Marco interfered.”
Les. The young pup once thought of as the loser of the pack. Józsi had heard of him through the grapevine, was aware that the Omega had managed to find himself dumped on American soil and that was the last he heard. “Marco, huh? What happened there?”
Lukina smiled. “Long story short, turns out he and our witch are mates.”
Shock must have registered across Józsi’s face because Lukina’s grin widened.
“Yeah,” she continued. “Surprised me too. But he’s destined as we all are, to fulfill roles in the prophecy. Just as it is writ, it has been fulfilled.”
“I want no part in it.”
“Fine.” She reached for her glass. “We hear you. I just want my mate back. And…”
Józsi nodded. “Good. Now that we’re settled with that.” He took back his cigar from Lukina and puffed on it, only to find it had gone out again.
She handed him the torch.
He relit his cigar and inhaled, sucking in the opulent creaminess of the Ecuadorian cigar before blowing out a huge cloud of smoke. “It’s time for bed.”
She stirred in the leather chair, caressing his thigh with her foot.
The gesture made him hard. It also annoyed him. He looked down at her, seeing her through her mass of red curls to see her beautiful round face. She’d developed hard lines from age and hardship, no doubt. But she still looked as beautiful as the day he met her.
That memory was one he’d keep buried.
“I’m still sober.” She thrust her empty glass in his direction.
Sighing, he poured another glass of wine and handed it to Lukina. “Drink up. Get some rest.” Taking a long, slow sip, Józsi finished off the bottle. “We must leave late tonight if we are to return and avoid detection.”
Lukina reached for the glass and took a long sip before setting it in her lap and swirling it around. “Kiba doesn’t know I left. I was out on errands when I made the choice to come find you.”
“Oh.” Józsi swirled his still full glass for distraction. “He knows you’re gone. Through the link our pack shares, weak as it is, I’m also sure he knows that you’ve found me. I’m sure he’ll have something waiting for us.”
She sighed. “Is there nothing we can do?”
He met her gaze, and saw his anger reflected in her beautiful eyes. “Get some rest. I’ll handle this.”
Lukina nodded. “I’ll help. I want to.”
He cocked his head slightly. “You’re just out to further annoy me, aren’t you?”
She stuck her tongue out.
The offer of help was definitely heartfelt, yet he remained determined to keep her from danger. “You need me to. You don’t remember the lands, I’m sure.”
He growled low again. Lukina was right. He hadn’t remembered most of the land or the way to where their pack called home. He’d left that information behind when he came to America.
It only took several years and for him to stop visiting…
Lukina slid down the leather chair and onto the floor before she leaned against his knees, resting her head on his thigh. “How have you managed avoiding discovery of what we are here?”
“I live in a large city. People here in Houston are too busy with the mundane dealings in their lives to notice what’s right in front of them.”
“So you hide out in the obvious.”
“Come on, let’s go to bed. There’s room for you.” He sighed heavily. He did not want to revert back to pack habits of sleeping huddled up. But the sight of Lukina’s body and the warmth she’d provide him with was something he’d missed anyway. If he could only get Ilona out of his mind.
He stood and walked down the short hall to his bedroom.
Lukina slid off the chair and followed behind him.
“Why did you leave us, drága?” Dear.
Walking to his bedroom, Józsi peeled off his shirt and turned to face Lukina.
Grinning, she licked her lips.
He tossed his shirt aside and turned away. “Because I don’t take orders very well. And I hated hearing all the bullshit about the prophecy.”
“You do know,” she said as she dropped her cloak behind her and stepped out of her pants, “that our witch is pregnant with our future ruler, right?”
Glaring at Lukina, Józsi reached into the top drawer of his dresser and found a pair of sweatpants. “Here. You are not at home, so you will sleep clothed.”
She frowned. “I could put you in the mood, you know.”
Damn right she could, but it wouldn’t be right. Not after ten years of absence and not without their third. Józsi glared at her.
She spoke in a sweet, singsong manner. “It’ll be our first time.”
Józsi continued ignoring the fire beginning to heat his body. “And I don’t care what the witch’s business is. It’s none of mine.”
“It’s Marco’s baby.”
His jaw twitched.
Marco was a troublemaker. Several years younger than Józsi, Marco was always stirring things up and causing mischief. “So the little bastard settled down finally?”
She nodded. “He nearly killed Les.”
Józsi did well to hide his surprise there. It also figured that he’d end up with a softhearted witch.
Józsi handed Lukina the top he’d picked out for her. It was oversized as well, dwarfing her. “You’ll get used to clothes.” He threw on a tank and shorts and climbed into bed.
Lukina climbed in beside him, facing him. She wore a pout on her face. “I’ve gotten used to seeing you and your large muscled body very easily.” Her voice dropped another hitch.
She was cold compared to him. Snuggling closer to him, she wrapped an arm around his waist.
He let out an exasperated breath and rolled away from her. Closing his eyes, he felt her arm snake around his waist. Józsi pushed her away and lay on his stomach. After a few minutes, he heard her breathing settle into a slow rhythm. When he was certain she was asleep, he finally closed his eyes.
Her fingers found his and interlocked. “I need this…”
The warmth felt so comforting. He hadn’t felt this feeling in years and it seemed he needed it too, even if she would be naked and tangled around him in the morning because instinctively, he’d strip off his clothes and revert back to pack mentality of cuddling for warmth.