My reflection came into view as I rubbed the warm towel over my face.
Luka had offered me full access to everything that he had in his bathroom as he prepared a breakfast he assured that he would like.
I guess in a way I was expectant for whatever he was preparing.
I don't think I've met a man that could cook.
Or maybe I should say that could cook well.
I rubbed the towel against my cheeks before rinsing it, wringing it out, then hanging it on the hook that sat beside the sink.
Turning the single nob, I watched as the stream of water slowly die down to a drip before it ceased entirely.
Apparently werewolves were more... advanced in certain things than my village was.
My father had dabbled and partially succeeded in a way to provide running water within our house, but he hadn't yet gotten to the point where we could control the temperature.
That and the multiple appliances in the kitchen, mixed with the interesting use of electricity.
Who knows what else I would discover if anything.
My curiosity was getting the best of me, but I guess if I was going to be here for a month or so, I'd have enough time to figure everything out.
I looked over myself once more before heading through the door, into Luka's room.
As soon as I stepped out of his room, a heavenly smell overcame me when I inhaled, and the sound of something hissing over a flame graced my ears.
Which caused my stomach to growl and my mouth to water, the realization that I didn't eat at all the previous day finally catching up to me.
The smell was vaguely familiar, but I couldn't quite place it.
My steps were quicker as I headed down the stairs, trying to spot him as quickly as I could.
He looked to be carefully scooping whatever he had just cooked onto a plate, joining it with two other components that were already on it.
"What's that smell?" I asked, needing to place it as quickly as I could.
He glanced up at me with a small grin.
"Perfect timing," He began, "And I'm guessing you're referring to the garlic?"
My eyes bulged.
"Garlic? Isn't that stuff like crazy expensive?"
He cocked a brow as he turned to face me fully, a single plate in hand.
"Not really. We actually grow it here, but do trade it for a hefty price." he shrugged, "Humans seem to love it, and I'm hoping you do too,"
I nodded, "I've only had it so many times, but I remember it fondly."
Dad would only be able to get his hands on it for special occasions.
That along with all sorts of different herbs and spices.
"Well," He motioned with his head for me to follow, "Come eat then."
I followed behind him towards the six-seated table on the other side of the kitchen, watching him set the plate down in front of the chair that sat at the head of it.
The placement was already set with silverware and now I finally got a good glimpse at what he had made.
Two eggs cooked to perfection, a nice pile of bite-sized potatoes cooked with the Garlic and what looked and smelled like rosemary and a thick slice of toasted bread topped with an orange jelly.
It looked absolutely amazing, but did it taste good?
Honestly, I couldn't wait to find out.
The sound of him pulling back the chair caused me to look back at him.
"Are you not eating?" I asked as he sat in the chair on the right side of the table.
He shook his head, "I woke up a while ago and already ate."
"Oh." I sat in the chair in front of the food, the sudden awkwardness of him just watching me eat creeping in.
Although my current hunger and overall desire to inhale this food was convincing me that I would quickly get over it.
That fact became even more clear as I sunk my fork into one of the cubed potatoes and brought it into my mouth.
I think I felt myself overall physically relax as the flavors completely surpassed my expectations.
A very satisfied hum came with my next exhale, causing the man beside me to snicker quietly.
"Holy shit this is amazing," I quietly admitted.
I looked back towards him in time to notice that his eyes crinkled when he laughed.
It did something weird to my heart.
"I appreciate that, and there's much more where that came from while you're here," He assured, "As for right now, however, I have a couple of things to accomplish later today, but I'll be happy to discuss whatever you'd like while you eat."
I just nodded a response due to the food in my mouth.
He did promise me answers and just one quick look at this place rose a whole lot of questions.
With a quick swallow, I asked the first question that popped into my mind.
"What is this place?"
He gave a small nod.
"It depends on whos asking. To the traders and humans that pass by, it's known as the Hyvern Village, and to those who live here, it's known as the Lovota pack."
I blinked at him for a moment at the slight familiarity.
"Lovota as in your last name?"
"That is correct," He responded simply.
I lifted the toast up to my lips.
"So does that make your family in charge of this place?" I asked before taking a bite.
Sweet Jesus everything on this plate was too good to be true.
"It makes me in charge, yes. Or more commonly called the Alpha."
Every movement of mine paused at his words.
Both because of the position of power he apparently had, and because I had kept the alpha of a werewolf pack in acage.
Seconds later I realized another feeling hit me at this information.
It was like half of my brain was actually immensely pleased by this, that feeling mixing with the tingling in my chest.
"O-oh," I sputtered, eyes suddenly looking down at the table as an odd sense of nervousness filled the other half of my brain.
It was a weird combination.
Thinking back on all our previous encounters, he never really seemed like someone in a position of power.
Or I guess didn't act the same as others that I've met in my life.
Maybe for werewolves, it was different?
Still, as a guest here I wanted to make sure that I wasn't being disrespectful in any way.
"It's beautiful here," I spoke honestly, partially trying to get rid of this new awkwardness that I was feeling "I only saw a little bit through the window, but even the view from there was breathtaking."
"Thank you," the sound of his voice seemed to involuntarily cause me to look at him again, that warm look in his eyes causing me to forget about that short termed nervousness entirely.
This was way too weird.
He continued, "I planned on showing you around myself, but I have to oversee something soon, so I asked a friend of mine to step in. I hope that's okay?"
I nodded, "That's fine. Who is it?"
I really just wanted to get their name before they showed up.
Meeting new people wasn't really something that excelled at, but knew enough already to tell that Humans and Werewolves did things differently.
And despite the fact that I never really cared about these sorts of things before I met him, I wanted to make a good first impression on the people here.
"Her name is Eren. She's my beta's mate. Her father was my dad's beta so we've been friends for a very long time."
Alpha and beta... just like a normal wolf hierarchy...
There was a hopeful tone in his voice at his next words, "I spoke to her this morning and she's very excited to meet you."
I was expecting to be nervous from that last statement, but strangely I found a tinge of excitement myself.
"Ok sweet. And uh, just to make sure, as the Alpha do people usually address you as such? and should I?"
I just wanted to make sure.
I was raised reading about tons of different cultures and didn't want to impose on this one.
Especially since I was currently living in his house and sleeping in his bed.
An odd expression crossed his face, almost like the thought of such made him uncomfortable.
"I would highly prefer it if you didn't. To me, it's a position that I take great care in more than a title I'm entitled to. Many people here address me as such out of formality, but as my mate, I'd be a lot happier with just Luka."
I nodded, partially relieved.
He didn't seem at all like the rulers I've seen or read about.
"Ok. Is now a good time to ask you to explain this whole mate thing?"
He gave a quick glance to the ticking clock behind him.
"Yeah. I've got time," He looked back towards me, "I'm guessing you'd like the longer explanation opposed to the shorter one?"
It seems like he's already caught on to the fact that I liked hearing the details.
He settled back in his chair, crossing his arms in a relaxed fashion as thought over something for a quick second.
"Well, before I get into that, there are a couple of things I think you should know beforehand," he inquired.
I just nodded, my mouth too full of food for any other kind of appropriate response.
The more information I can get the better.
"We as Lycans, for as long as our history has been recorded, have reverenced a Goddess. She is known by many names throughout the world; Selene, Cynthia, Diana, but we call her Luna, Goddess of the moon."
I found myself shifting my posture forward as soon as he began speaking, listening intently to each word.
Whether it was because of what he was saying or just simply the smooth tone his voice had.
"A lot of the beginning of our species history has been lost, but from what we have recorded, she's always been there. From the beginning of the history that we have, she's helped build and guide us as a hidden species. She's the one who bestows alphas with the power that we have, and we assume she's the one who gave us the power to shift between human and beast."
I had to catch myself from questioning him more about the power that the alphas carry.
Knowing myself if I had him stop to answer my question, only more would come from it and it would turn into a never-ending cycle.
But this whole mate thing has been practically haunting me ever since the word first left his mouth so I kept my mouth shut and listened.
"It's a give and take relationship between us and her. We heed and expedite her teachings and suggestions, keeping the land that we live in safe and sustained, and in exchange, she... in a way gifts us with ways that evolve the ways in which our species lives and grows. One of those gifts early on being the introduction of mates."
He paused for a moment, which wasn't odd until it passed a normal amount of time for someone to pause between thoughts.
And then I swore I could see just a hint of nervousness flash through his eyes
"Are the details of it hard to explain?" I asked.
"Uh..." He stammered a bit, eyes slowly shifting away from me and to the side. "Not exactly. It's just... I've been brought up with this information, and its normal knowledge and a common practice for us but it might come off as a bit... sudden for you."
Well, now I was even more curious.
Or nervous if the sudden sound of my heartbeat in my ears meant anything.
Which was odd...
Everything he's previously stated I took to well.
Despite it being new knowledge to me, it was like I had already accepted it as a fact without any further pondering.
I don't know why, but it just felt right I guess.
"Sudden how?" I queried.
Those alluring blue eyes fell back on me, causing a short burst of warmth to rise in my chest again.
I took another bite to distract myself as Luka cleared his throat, setting his elbows on the table.
"It's like a soulmate."
I nearly choked on the egg I was chewing, trying and failing to suppress the next couple coughs that forced themselves out of me.
I could have sworn he almost flinched at my reaction as if it hurt him.
Just like his words before, a part of me immediately accepted the short explanation he'd given, whereas the other half of me didn't know how to react at all.
Luka continued, now with a slightly distressed pinch in his brows.
"In exchange for our aid, she gave us a system in which we can easily find our... other half without the uncertain search and possibility of making a mistake of who we spend our lives with as humans do. The signs are unmistakable, as I'm sure you've felt them as well."
The tension in his shoulders became more evident by the second.
"T-that's what this is? The pull? That warmth?"
He just nodded.
"From the moment you were born, Lydia, Luna has deemed us as mates, and everything you've felt from me is because of that."
I just stared wide-eyed at him, my mind racing.
Never in my life had I expected nor even wanted the partnership of a man.
I looked down at my food, picking at it as I thought.
This all seemed so ridiculous, Goddess', soulmates, hell even werewolves, but I couldn't deny any of it.
That still didn't change the fact that him being 'my other half' so to speak wasn't that easy. Not for me at least.
He was right. This was sudden.
Goddess or not, there's no way something like that could be so easily obtained.
I mean he seemed nice and all, but that didn't mean I was just going to fall into his arms.
But these constant feelings I was getting from this mate pull were also making this difficult
"Luka I..." I didn't even know where to begin, "Is that it then? There's no other way to just hold off on this to get these feelings to ease up? We can't just reject-"
As soon as the word left my mouth, the air ripped from lungs as a sharp pain scraped through my chest.
It felt like something had stabbed into my sternum, now making the thought even finishing my sentence unbearable.
The pain quickly spread into the front of my head, causing a burst of fear to crawl over me before everything just stopped.
My now heavy breaths trembled a bit, as did the tips of my fingers.
The urge to go to him for comfort hit me just as soon as my next question.
What the hell?
I looked towards Luka for some sort of explanation but found him to have been through the same thing I just experienced.
Except the fear in his eyes looked like it surpassed what I felt.
Still, the thought of finishing what I had said prior had left my mind entirely.
"Nevermind," I heard myself say, "I don't want to-"
"No," Luka cut in, his voice a bit softer than usual.
He took a second to compose himself, "No, you should know. I don't want to keep anything about this from you, especially since you already seem skeptical about it."
A bit of me actually slumped in relief from that.
Honesty was also something that was hard to find amongst men.
"There is a way to," He swallowed, "reject the mate bond. It will cease the feeling that comes with being mated, and sever any connection that you've had with them. I can... explain the process if you'd like."
It looked like each word of that sentence caused him to ache.
Which made me practically mirror his expression
I thought over this for a second, thinking back to our previous conversations with this new knowledge, eventually deciding that knowing about this wasn't going to be worth it if it was going to cause both of us pain.
If I need the information, I'm sure I can get it later.
"No, I'm okay," I said
"Are you sure?"
I just nodded, letting a short silence overtake us before he spoke again.
"Look, Lydia, us being mated isn't the only reason I wanted you here, and It's not something that I want to force out of you. I'm sure this is a lot to handle for you on top of the other things I've told you. As I said, the lycan part of you is lying dormant, and I want to help you bring it out."
I nodded slowly, very relieved by the fact that he wasn't expecting anything from me right away if at all.
"And we'll just see where it goes from there?"
Okay, I could work with that.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to at least explore the possibility of me being his species.
And it certainly made things easier that he was being light-hearted and flexible about the whole situation.
"Well, at least now I know why I'm so stupidly attracted to you."
His smile slowly returned to his face, which was a lot more refreshing than I would have thought.
"Being mated forces attraction in the physical being-right-next-to-each-other kind of way, thus the strong reaction when we touch, but it doesn't force any other kind of attraction."
Any movement of mine halted before my face flamed a deep red.
His laugh broke through the air.
"If its any consultation, I think you're gorgeous as well. But I don't think looks alone will be enough for you to accept me."
Apparently my curiosity overpowered my embarrassment.
"Mhm, there's a process of acceptance just like there is for rejection." He explained
I chewed the inside of my bottom lip, debating my next question before it just let itself out.
"What is it?"
His eyes appeared to smile at my interest in this process.
It was easier to have an interest in when the thought of it didn't physically hurt me.
"We mark each other under Luna's moon," he replied vaguely.
If I didn't know any better, I'd say he made it vague on purpose.
I think he wanted to see how much I really wanted to know about this process
Which, to be fair, was a smart move on his part.
I fed into what he was doing.
"Mark each other? With what? Where?"
"Well," He licked over his sharp canines, "with our teeth, and on a very specific spot on our neck that's always sensitive to our mate's touch. It's to represent a shared bond of trust within the other and is apparently supposed to feel amazing on both ends."
I physically bit my tongue to stop myself from asking where that spot was.
The teeth thing was weird but I guess it made sense as wolves and all, but if it was sensitive to mates regardless, it was something that could be proved immediately.
My eyes fell to his neck as if I could figure it out myself.
"Would you like me to show you?" he offered, extending his hand.
Despite the fact that I did definitely want to know, I hesitated.
I guess it just felt kind of... vulnerable.
Still, after a few more seconds, I leaned forward and lifted my head a bit.
He moved his hand slowly towards me, my eyes trained on it.
Then, ever so gently, his fingers brushed against the skin of the left side of my neck.
My body tightened and eyes squeezed shut as a feeling similar to the first time we touched shot through me, causing me to gasp and pull his hand away at the wrist.
My eyes switched between my hold on him, and his face.
"Do you get the same thing if I touch you there?"
He breathed out a short laugh, switching our hand's position so that he was holding my wrist and now bringing it towards his neck.
"Wanna find out yourself?"
Well, he didn't have to ask me twice.
I traced my fingers across the same spot on his body, watching as he reacted outwardly almost exactly as I did.
I drew my hand back, looking it over as if I had just unlocked some sort of power.
There was absolutely no denying it now.
"I told you," He began, "Being mated is a two-way street. We feel the same things and affect each other equally as much. "
I drew my own fingers against the skin of my neck, not feeling anything close as what I did when he did it.
What on earth was this Luna thinking while she did all this?
"Okay wait. Since you're the alpha of this place, and I'm your mate, if we happened to accept each other than that would make me...?"
"An alpha as well. The second we'd accept each other, you'd receive the title and the power that comes with it, but we can cross that bridge if and when we get there."
Why did the 'if' feel so much different when it came from him?
Did he feel that when I said it?
God I hope not.
My thoughts got cut short when a knocking came from the front door.
Luka turned his head with a smile, promptly standing.