I ended up just staying in the kitchen, knowing better than to wander around the mansion by myself after what happened last time. I made my way through all the cupboards and food storages before resigning myself to baking cookies.
I was just taking them out of the oven when I heard someone come into the kitchen, laughing. I felt the strong pull and knew it was Lucan, and a smile alighted my face. I set the hot tray down on the stove to cool off, taking the oven mitts off and turned around.
Lucan still had a wide smile across his face from whatever he had been laughing at earlier with the person he was with. I looked to his side to see who it was and my smile faltered for a minute.
The woman, for no doubt she was a woman, not some stupid teenaged girl like me, was absolutely gorgeous. She was tall, a lot taller than my five five, and willowy. Her long brown hair fell down in shiny layers and her face was practically the golden ratio of perfect. She was skinny, and her tight but pretty modest clothes showed off her amazing body. I wrapped my arms around my torso self-consciously before swallowing whatever insecurities I had.
"I..I was just baking cookies," The smile was still on my face, glancing between the two people before me. Lucan's smile widened before glancing behind me.
"I can see that." Before he or I could talk further, the woman smiled at me genuinely.
"I've heard so much about you, Lana. I'm so happy to finally meet you. I'm Sophia." She reached out her hand to shake mine, and I accepted it with a smile. I wanted to ask who she was, where she came from, but I didn't want to step out of my place or cross any lines. Lucan, somehow, read my thought process. It seems like he does that a lot. I wonder if he can read minds or something…
"She was away on a scouting mission, trying to find information. It's why you haven't met her before now." I 'oh'ed in understanding before nodding to the tray of hot cookies behind me, clearing my throat.
"Did you guys want any cookies?" I felt completely awkward, not totally comprehending their relationship or who exactly she was. Sophia shook her head with a small smile while Lucan was staring at me intently. I shifted uncomfortably before turning around to take the cookies off the hot pan.
"Lana, Sophia is going to stay here with you for a few minutes while I run down to meet Ethan." I hadn't seen Ethan in what felt like forever, and was going to ask to join before I turned to look at Lucan. He was silently communicating with the beautiful stranger. I turned back around quickly, focusing on arranging the cookies nicely on a plate. After spending what felt like forever staring at the plate, I turned back to the pair behind me, who were talking softly between themselves.
"Sophia, I'll come get you after I find Ethan, and we can talk about what you've found. Maybe form a plan." He looked frustrated; his dark hair ruffled and bags under his eyes. I felt a pang of concern rise up in my chest before wringing my hands together nervously. She nodded gracefully before turning to face me with a large smile spread across her face.
"Don't worry about us girls." Then she rolled her eyes and in a teasing voice said, "It is just so like you to leave us in a kitchen, you know." Lucan just shook his head before leaving through the door he entered.
It was silent for the first few moments after he left.
"So, Lana," Sophia began, the smile still on her face, "What do you do around here for fun? Normally I'm so busy with work and assignments I never really get a chance to relax." She let out a small, melodious laugh.
I mean, really? Does she have any faults? I was jealous of her entirely, the overwhelming feeling of inadequacy I've always felt with females that look like her took over. I get like this, all nervous and insecure. But I'm sure everyone does. Well, maybe not Sophia or the like. That would detract from them being perfect. Then again…if they were perfect, they'd never feel inadequate. Hmm…
I snapped out of my mental train of thought when I saw her looking at me expectantly, and I realized I hadn't answered her question. I blushed in embarrassment, hating to be caught in moments like that.
"I…I don't know, I guess. Nothing, most days. I get…bored. Often." To be honest, I don't really know what to do around here either. Watch movies, bake, clean, listen to music…I don't know what else there is.
I felt another wave of jealousy hit me, not from her appearance but from her importance in Lucan's pack. She was trusted with information, with assignments. And Lucan cared about her, I could tell from how he acted with her. Not that I mean I'm super jealous of their relationship, I just mean it doesn't prevent him from letting her be involved. Unlike me. I think.
"That doesn't sound too fun," She frowned, "Do you want me to ask Lucan to find you something to do? Maybe some movies…or a companion to be with?" I shook my head.
"No, please, really, I'm fine. I don't…" I hesitated, "I don't want to be a bother. I'm sure you've heard already, but I cause a lot of problems and I really don't want to cause any more." I shrugged, "It's better to be bored than in danger, I suppose."
Sophia smiled again and went to sit at the small table placed to the side of the kitchen. I grabbed one of the plates of cookies and placed it on the table for her, before wringing my hands together again.
"How…how is work?" She glanced over at me with an eyebrow raised.
"Work is work. It always has been. It's a duty, not really something I enjoy too often doing." Sophia shrugged, reaching over to grab a cookie from the plate. "It keeps the pack safe, so I suppose that's all that matters." I moved from where I was leaning against the counter to sit across the table from her. She chewed on the cookie slowly, and I wasn't exactly sure what to say next, so I kept quiet.
When she was done chewing, she simply sat looking at me for a few minutes. It wasn't an awkward silence, it was just there. I fiddled with my hands and watched her from the corner of my eye.
"You know," Sophia started slowly, pushing her long hair behind one of her ears. "Lucan and I used to be…involved." My gaze shot at her in an awkward expression.
"Involved?" I didn't know why I bothered asking, I knew what she meant by the word.
"Together. Intimately." I looked away from her, feeling my heart drop to my stomach.
"I-" Words weren't coming to me. "Oh."
She appraised me with a clear look on her face, not one of jealousy or spite. I didn't want to meet her gaze, the feeling of inadequacy tumbled over me again. This was the girl I had thought would be perfect for Lucan. Beautiful, intelligent, strong, trusting. I shifted uncomfortably.
"I didn't meant to…hurt you." She spoke slowly with a look of regret that flashed across her face when she met my eyes. "I just meant to tell you that's why we're so comfortable with each other. We're not like that anymore." At my look of unease she amended, "Ever since you came into the picture."
I ran a hand through my hair. That wasn't that long ago. They were recent. I could hear my heart beating loudly against my chest as I swallowed the lump in my throat.
"Lucan doesn't love me, Lana," Sophia's eyes were kind, "He never has. Not in that way. You're his mate, you have no competition with him. Trust me. I…hope we can be friends, though. If you could ever be friends with me."
Regret and shame passed through me at my silence toward her. "I.." My voice sounded off, and I cleared my throat to try again, "I would very much like to be friends with you." She smiled widely at that, and nodded slowly.
"Good. I just want you to know I'm not jealous of you guys. I've known Lucan since we were kids, and I'm just so happy he's found someone finally. It will really bring our pack closer together. And," She added as an afterthought, "It will make Lucan so happy to start a family."
I choked on air.
"I-Lucan-you-what-family?" I mean I love Lucan, maybe more than I should, but no way Jose am I starting a family when I'm this young. I want to go to college, maybe get a job. I would not have Lucan supporting me. I don't even think I need Lucan to support me, my parents left me a pretty large sum of money when they died. I felt the pang of their death hit me again and I shut my mouth that had been hanging open.
She laughed gaily, her beautiful eyes twinkling as she said, "I suppose we'll see about that one, won't we? It won't be long though, trust me."
I scrunched my nose up, choosing to ignore what she was saying, and gave a small laugh. "I guess we will see on that one." She laughed with me.
"Sophia, can I ask you a question?" Or a few questions, actually. Hm..
"Sure, of course." Her smile spread across her face beautifully. Another pang of jealousy hit me and the question of why Lucan would choose me over her repeated in my head.
"What's…going on with everything?" It sounded vague, even to me. But I was hoping she would pick up what I was putting down.
"You mean with the vampires?" I nodded. and Sophia looked contemplative.
"I'm not really sure how much I should tell you, but I think you deserve to know things." I didn't speak in case she decided to change her mind.
"The vampires hired the rogue werewolves to attack us, as I'm sure you know." It sounded familiar, but the time when Lucan explained it to me felt like years ago. "They were killing people that were on patrol around our land." She gestured out the window to the forests and hills that seemed to go on for miles. "They wanted to start a war, hoping we would retaliate with more force than they were attacking us. Lucan didn't want to resort to anything like that. He and the Elders decided the best thing to do was to wait until the vampires made a move."
Sophia looked surprised that I didn't know what or who the Elders were. "They're like a council. They've been around the longest, know the most about the relationship between us and the vampires, and probably know the most about shape shifters in general. We look to them for advice and what not." She waved a hand like I knew what the 'what not' was supposed to be. I gave a look of understanding anyway and allowed her to continue.
"When Preston took you, it was sort of a last straw. You don't touch the Alpha's property. You just don't."
"Property?" My jaw dropped in indignation. "I'm not a piece of real estate, you know." She shrugged, like she didn't really care what I thought about the subject.
"Point is, they crossed a few lines. Lucan took out a lot of main players in order to find you and get you back. He declared war. It's been crazy."
"So diplomacy is not an option?" I was still peeved about the property calling thing, but it worried me more that the lives of everyone here were in danger.
"Not anymore. We're trying as best we can to keep the humans out of the way, but it's hard. The vampires see the humans as food, we see them as something to protect. They want to expose all of us, and have started killing people out in the open. We…do what we can to make sure things don't get out of control."
I felt bad for being so…ignorant. About everyone else. There was so much I didn't know, so many things behind the scenes that I had been left out of.
"Why didn't Lucan tell me anything? Why didn't anyone tell me anything?"
"Lucan wants to protect you. He asked me to look after you while I'm here, make sure you're okay. He regrets that he's busy." I wanted to snort at that, I wanted to tell her how often he's left me alone, but I kept silent. It felt like Sophia could read my mind too, because the next thing she said made my heart hurt and guilt fill my mind. "It drives him crazy, you know. Being away from you for too long. It's why he doesn't do patrols at night, or leave you alone for too long with someone else. I'm sure he feels the bond twice as much as you do since he's actually…you know, a wolf. Don't blame him too much."
I sighed, knowing she was right.
"I just…don't like being left alone. I don't know what to do with my time, and I feel insignificant. I don't know anyone in the pack, I don't know what's going on. I don't know how to spend my time. It just gets frustrating."
Sophia nodded in understanding. "I'll talk to him."
"No, please, don't. Like I said, I don't want to be a bother. He's done so much for me already…" I trailed off, looking down so I couldn't meet her sympathetic gaze. "I just can't ask him for anything else."
"That's fair, I guess. But now you have me, and we can do whatever you like." My eyebrows shot up and she shook her head, "Within reason, that is." She conceded, grabbing another cookie off the tray.
"These are pretty fabulous, by the way." Sophia said, chewing slowly and talking between bites. I smiled at her.
I loved baking. I used to do it all the time and was horrible, burning things or adding the wrong things or just completely making a mess of the kitchen. Like opening bags, especially bags of flour. I don't know about you guys, but whenever I try to open a bag, it explodes everywhere and I spend like, forty minutes trying to pick everything up.
Well, anyway, I love baking. I used to bake all the time for Tiffany. Not for me, because the second I ate anything sugary I'd gain like, forty pounds. Tiffany, on the other hand could eat all the cookies I made, plus the remaining dough, and probably lose weight.
I shook my head in annoyance at Tiffany before returning my attention to Sophia.
"When you say whatever I like, does that include…" I hesitated before smiling, "watching Disney movies with me?"
Sophia looked at me skeptically, trying to figure out if I was serious or not. She inspected the hopeful look on my face before she burst out laughing, the melodious tune echoed throughout the room.
"Of course," She said, after she was done laughing. A big smile was still across her face. "Lucan is really in for a ride, I can tell."
I was about to question what she meant when she got up from the chair, "Come on. I'll give you a tour of the place and then we can watch movies in the den."
"Just look at his tan, muscular body. How could she say no to that? She crazy."
Sophia looked at me, eating another handful of the popcorn we had made, before nodding. "This is true. Kocoum, if he were real and looked like that, would be pretty fine. Plus he's the best hunter. He knows how to take care of his woman."
"In more ways than one." I agreed, reaching over to grab popcorn as well. Sophia laughed loudly with a shocked look on her face before turning back to Pocahontas, where Just Around the River Bend was about to start.
Lucan was nowhere to be seen, and hadn't appeared in the past hour and half that he had left us alone for. I wasn't too surprised, but relieved that I had someone I could spend time with now.
Sophia was extremely tolerant of my ditzy comments, my ignorance of the wolf-world, and even my blushing that appeared whenever she mentioned Lucan.
The tour of the mansion went better than I had hoped. I found that she helped me navigate, knowing her way around and point out hallways that led to other rooms.
I had how they afforded this mansion, and the land around it, and she shrugged like I should know the answer. "We live for a long time, Lana. Money isn't really an issue. We have trust funds, and we all work. It's pretty easy, surprisingly."
I hadn't really thought about them having other jobs, on top of being a werewolf, but I suppose it made sense.
But it reminded me that I needed a job too.
A knock on the door interrupted Pocahontas's question of "Should I marry Kocoum", to which I almost screamed yes to.
Sophia and I looked over, and Lucan was there, surveying us with amusement. The pull that I felt around him came back in full force, and I found myself getting up off the couch to make my way over to him. He met me half way, winding his arm around my waist, and dropping his head down to give my forehead a kiss. I almost gave out a girlish squeal. Almost.
"Hi, Sophia," Lucan acknowledged, making his way over to her while still holding onto me. "How did today go?"
"Good," She said, smiling at me brightly, "Very good, even. Better than most days."
He looked pleased to hear that, before turning to me. "It's dinner time, would you..like to join the pack for dinner?" I looked confused.
"The whole pack?"
"Not the whole pack, just the ones that live here. Not everyone you saw at the meeting lives here, or it'd be…chaotic. Just a few important members do. Most have homes and lives on our land. This is more of a central meeting house."
I nodded in understanding before smiling. "I'd love to have dinner with everyone then." Lucan smiled, his eyes twinkling in amusement. I wanted to kiss him, hold him, not let him go.
"Alright, well let's go get you dressed and then we'll have dinner." I noticed his attire, nice, but not too formal, and nodded my head again.
"Alright." I turned to Sophia, "Bye, I'll see you at dinner?" She smiled at me and said her farewells, before Lucan guided me out the door, back to our room.