Billie knew that she loved Mason with every fiber of her being, but it didn’t change the fact that she was old. She wouldn’t admit that she was set in her ways, but pride kept her from reaching out to him. As the days grew, their bond faded. A distant memory it seemed one day when Billie allowed herself to think about what seemed too few a stolen moments between them. Her heart ached. Had she not been so miserable with her own pain, she would have noticed that his heart ached just as badly as hers did.
On the upside, she did have one of the unattainable. But she knew that she had no idea where to find the rest. Shoving off of the lounge chair to find Marie, Mason walked into the room. Bowing her head so she didn’t have to look at him, she headed for the door. As she walked past Mason she couldn’t help but to stop for the smallest amount of time to drink in his scent; a woodsy, earthy scent with a hint of something musky perhaps? Mason noticed the pause and grabbed her arm.
Billie’s head shot up , her eyes wide. His eyes seemed to be dancing from blue to green; animalistic almost. “I love you” he whispered. A deep thrumming ran down her body like electricity. Until now, she had ignored the deep yearning to be close to him. Shaking her head, trying to make it clear, all those days came flooding to the front of her memory. A deep threatening growl escaped from deep in her throat. Mason’s eyes shot wide with shock. “Bil, Love, don’t be angry. I-…” his words faded as Billie cut in, “Bil, Love-NO! You hurt me Mason. I mean really, really hurt me. Marie’s right. I am a monster. And almost from the very beginning you knew that.”
Mason tried to speak, “But Bil,”
Billie turned her back, “No! You don’t get to apologize. I want you to hurt! I want you to hurt the same way I have hurt! I want you to feel like an animal, like I do. Why do I have to do this alone? Why do you get the option of staying or leaving after I have been honest with you? Answer me that, Mason!”
Mason ran a hand down his face as he tried to keep calm. Raising his hands in submission, his eyes welled with tears, “Look, I didn’t know that you were….were…” he shook his head. “But what I do know is this: I fell in love with the woman you are! Not the animal you become every full moon. Yeah, ok! I got really freaked out when you…well…you know. But don’t you see? I just needed a little time is all. It’s not every day that your girlfriend…well…you know. And then I just didn’t know how to respond to that properly. Give me a break Billie! I’m only human.” Billie crossed her arms, “Human?” she said with much sarcasm, “No. Not even close. Did you forget that you had a bushy little tail that night? Did you forget that you had a werewolf between some very pointy K9 teeth?” Mason looked like he had been slapped. Billie could see the sting of her words so she decided to back down a little. “Listen, Fenris took my humanity. When I met you I…it felt like I got it back. But I can’t be with you if every time I do something you get grossed out about it. This is who I am; what I am. And if you can’t accept every part of me, human and animal, than I think it would be best if I left.”
Mason looked as though Billie had just threw ice water on him. “No. You can’t leave.” He had closed the gap between them in a few short strides and grabbed her arms. He knew he couldn’t hurt her, and even if he could he wouldn’t have tried. “I’m trying to apologize to you, but you are making it very difficult, Love.” Billie’s heart almost leaped out of her chest. She pondered his words for a moment. With great difficulty, she fought a lump in her throat as she asked “Ok, so the next time I do something that is…unsavory, how do I know you wont act like this again? Because honestly Mason, I don’t think I can take another round of this again. Do you know that you are the first person in a long time that I’ve let in? Can you honestly comprehend how absolutely vulnerable I feel right now?” Mason grabbed her around her waste, “No. I wont pretend to know, or to understand. But I do know this, Love. I love you so much that I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Billie’s breath caught in her throat. Her jaw dropping, she couldn’t hide her surprise. “Mason, are you?…Are you asking me to?…” she questioned with a shaky voice. Mason’s eyes lit up, “Yeah. Yeah I guess I am.” he stammered as he started to blush, “I mean…unless you don’t want to, then uhh…” Billie’s face lit up brighter than it had in a long time; never like that in front of Mason. Jumping into his arms, “Of course I do!” she squealed, not hiding her elation at all. Questions started burning in her mind. “So,” Billie asked with a mile wide grin, “Where do we go from here?”
Marie bustled into the room, stopping dead in her tracks. “Marie!” Billie’s sing-song voice exclaimed “You’ll never guess what!”
Marie looked from Billie to Mason and back again as she set a rather heavy load of books on the coffee table, “Yes, yes you two lovebirds finally made up. Splendid! Grand even…now we need to talk. There are a few things that we need to prepare for, and it just cannot wait I am afraid.” Mason and Billie exchanged quick glances as Marie shuffled through a stack of papers as thick as a phone book until she came across a sheaf of parchment. “Ah, here we are. Now then, you two take a seat.” she pointed with a free hand, “We need to make a plan. Billie’s grandmother was very thorough in her notes and I’m afraid I have wasted a bit more time with my research than I probably should have.”
Billie could feel the seriousness that Marie was emanating and sat down without question. Mason looked at Billie and sat next to her without a word. Marie’s blouse was haphazardly buttoned, the cloth puckered out where a button had been missed. She quietly perched a pair of wire rimmed glasses on the bridge of her nose, instantly magnifying the dark, puffy circles that encompassed her eyes. Her skin had a sallow sort of glow that was reminiscent of someone dead.
Clearing her throat, Marie held the sheaf of parchment gently and said, “This page is very interesting, Dears. It seems to be your family tree, Billie.” Billie gave a quizzical look, “Okay…but how is that supposed to help us in finding the things for the tether?”
“In my experiences, I have found that the things we need always seem to find a way to those who need it most. And I think that you will find this information very useful in your quest to defeat Fenris.”
Mason looked confused, “Marie, just spill it. You said yourself that we are running out of time, so lets not do a word waltz today, okay?”
Marie gave a short nod, “You are quite right, Nephew. So I will just explain it like this: Back in the days of the Gods and Goddesses, they would mate with each other, trying to join all of each half’s best qualities into a God or Goddess to make them unconquerable. And for a time, that worked well. Until the Godly bloodline became so tangled that they started to produce something other than new, stronger Gods. In their long standing close mating, the fruits became crab apples; monsters. Things that the Gods of the time found difficult, if not impossible to control, or direct. One of these such beings was known by several names, but you know him best as Fenris.”
“The father of Fenris had quite the reputation for wanting human lovers. He figured out that by mating with humans, he could produce a mini-god of sorts, a demi-God if you will. After seeking out such a human that could carry a god-like child, he wooed her, entrancing her to believe that he truly loved her, and she him. Once the baby was born, he had a very powerful spell put on her to believe that a sweet old woman was her mother. In fact, the sweet old woman was a Goddess, that some have read about and know her as ‘Grandmother Spider’. She spins her web of love, or deceit, and then the fates are sealed. She has very powerful magick, and when called back, sits in the kingdom of the Gods. Grandmother Spider was your Grandmother, Bil. The human was your mother. And that is why you are a part of this fantasy world that everyone believe are tales and myth.” Billie couldn’t speak. The noticeable lump in her throat was so big she could hardly breathe.
Mason’s mouth hung open; he had caught the bit of information that Marie was telling Billie. “That just can’t be true, Marie. It’s…” Marie interrupted, “I am afraid that every bit is true. Billie, Fenris is your half brother.”
Trying not to wretch, Billie breathed heavily until the feeling of getting sick passed. “That is disgusting. Are you trying to tell me that my…my brother wants to mate with me?”
Marie closed her eyes and nodded heavily, “Yes.” she sighed, “But you have to understand that he does not think in the same ways you or I do. He is from a world of Gods’. He thinks as they do. Mating with another who holds specific power, or attributes, for them is the only way to ensure that their race continues to thrive. Our morals or laws of what is or is not right doesn’t apply to them. He sees you as a means to get what he needs; what he wants; what will keep his race, as well as his agenda alive.”
Since Marie had started, Mason turned about three different shades of green. He put his arm protectively around Billie, “So I don’t expect a nice silver bullet would work, would it?”
Marie gave a hearty chuckle, “No, I’m afraid not.”
Billie straightened up, “So how does this information help us to get any closer to any of the things that we need to find?” she thought out loud.
Marie thoughtfully said, “I suppose if you were to think about it for a moment, you can learn a lot from the enemy just by piecing together their motivation. But please, bear in mind that there is such a thing as ’over-thinking’ too.” she shrugged as though the answers were clearly written. That being said, we know that you and he share a part of the same blood line. We know that whether his intention is to try to woo you, or use you, either way, he is a man. Men are such possessive, jealous creatures naturally that I think it is safe to ascertain that he is, or will be jealous of Mason. That could have the potential to be dangerous I think. But it is a start none the less.” she smiled a coy smile.
Marie’s expression reminded Billie of a cat that ate the canary. She was intrigued. “Just because Fenris has the potential to be ’jealous’, I don’t see how that would help us to get any closer to finding the unattainable.” Billie said
This time, Mason smiled. His was big and genuine. He understood what Marie was saying, and couldn’t believe that Billie had missed it. “Love, I think what Aunt is trying to say is that since Fenris uhh wants you, he will almost undeniably be jealous. And jealousy has brought many people down in the past. How can he be so different? His jealousy will give us a map of his actions before he even thinks them…hopefully.”
Billie sat thoughtful for a moment. She had a sickening feeling in her stomach that what Marie and Mason had deduced was not going to be a good and fool-proof plan. The walls felt closer. A tightening in her chest almost made Billie want to scream. Thinking back, she realized she hadn’t left Mason’s house since the attack on John and Saba. “I have to think. I need a walk.” Billie finally said as she got up to walk out the back door.
Once Billie was outside, Marie looked at Mason in an all business sort of way, “You do realize that the full moon is two days away?”
“No. I didn’t”
“Well, I don’t think she does either. Fenris will be on the prowl for her. Not that you can do much to fight him off. But your animal may.”
Mason blinked like she had just thrown ice water on him. He knew she was right, and without another word, he got up and quietly walked out the door, walking toward his soul mate. Walking toward his destiny.
The crunch of the leaves were a love song to Billie’s ears. She allowed the cool, crisp air to nip at her. It was a welcomed feeling; one that she couldn’t wait to experience. She was always more at peace when Fall threatened to turn to winter, and let a calm that she hadn’t felt in a long time, wash over her and envelope her. Stopping for a moment on the edge of the woods, Billie peered through the trees. Was she sensing something, or was that just an over active imagination that had her nerves standing on edge? Someone was behind her, lurking. Her heart starting to race, her breathing becoming shallower, she stood there for a moment, waiting for the slightest sign that her assailant came closer.
It only took about a half a minute for the snap of a twig coming from behind Billie for her to turn on her heal ready to fight. Her wolf form dangerously close to coming out, her eyes gleaned the same glean that could only be seen when looking at her animal. Mason jumped back, his hands up in surrender, “Whoa, Bil! S’just me, Love.” Billie sighed and let her guard down, “Shit Mason! You scared me half to death!” though her sigh of relief was audible as her shoulders sank down to their normal position.
“So,” Mason asked, “Where ya’ off to?” Billie plunged her hands into her jeans pockets, “Nowhere in particular. Just trying to gather my thoughts. And you thought you’d tag along?” Mason smirked as he raised his eyebrows, “Sure. If you don’t mind that is.” Billie shrugged her shoulders as they walked for some time.
Walking toward the middle of the woods, Mason said, “I’ve never been in this far.” Billie could feel the tension that he was trying to hide. She thought for only a moment when she came to an idea. ‘Wolves can share their calm with their pack. If Marie is right than I should be able to share my calm with Mason.’ she thought. Not sure how exactly to do it, she thought of a time when someone is so happy that everyone around them becomes happy too. In theory, it sounded good. But Billie had magick that she had never even tried to share with anyone and if she boggled it up, she may make matters worse for him. “Hey, I want to try something with you, ok?” she asked. Mason stopped walking and looked at her. “Close your eyes.” she said quietly. Before he knew what she was going to try to do, he felt a warm gust of air blow between them. The air felt warm and sweet, reminding him of a warm spring day that promised summer momentarily. His chest loosened, and his muscles relaxed. A shy grin spread across his face, “How did you do that?”
Billie’s eyes smiled, “I don’t really know how to explain it. But it worked?”
“Yeah” he answered, smiling.
“Good. I need you to be calm right now. The pull of the moon is getting really hard, so I need you to be calm too. Otherwise, no one would like my wolf this time round.” Her words were light, but something about her annunciation, her body language, her core, threatened violence and pain. It made Mason want to wince and shy away. But the magick that Billie threw on him worked well. He was nothing but calm. He thought to himself that he should be a nervous wreck. The attack never strayed far from his thoughts when he was in the woods, and by now, he should probably be having a nervous breakdown. But he wasn’t; he walked in the depths of the woods, hand in hand with a beautiful woman whom he loved so deep that even he couldn’t understand.
He feasted on the beauty of Billie, not saying anything but allowing her to lead him to wherever they were to go. Almost in a trance, he stumbled when she came to a halt. Billie’s voice came out in a rush, “Dvalin! What are you doing here?”
Dvalin was lazing at the bottom of what was probably the biggest oak in the woods. The trunk of the massive tree supported his wide back and shoulders as gnarled roots twined and twisted around his legs. He always wore an unreadable expression, so neither Billie nor Mason could figure out his mood. But Dvalin was a lot like a pickled egg. It was there and everyone wanted to experience it, but no one wanted to take that first bite to see how sour it is. “I might ask you the same thing, Miss.” he answered in a gruff voice.
Mason answered, “Just taking a walk, Dvalin. You?”
Dvalin looked from his right to his left, “I, uhh, just taking a rest. John?” Billie smiled at the thought of a creature being so hard to everything, still wanting to check on his brother. “He’s fine, Dvalin. He was going to come looking for you yesterday, but he is still healing, so I thought it best that he stayed close to the house and rest.”
Dvalin’s expression was unfaltering, but his anger was unmistakable, “Yes, Goddess. Because you did such a fine job in keeping brother safe from harm last time.” He stood up to show his full height, which would have been laughable, except for the sheer devastation he could cause if provoked. Billie stood there, blinking back tears that instantly came flooding, almost spilling over. Mason’s jaw clenched and released several times. Dvalin’s black eyes gave a threatening glare, “Yes. You did wondrous things that night, did you not? To say that you will protect my brother is akin to me saying that I would protect you. And I’m sure we both know that would never happen. You, ‘My Lady’ are no Goddess. You just happened across ancient magick that affected you. Nothing more. You are nothing more than a human with a few slightly…less human characteristics.” Mason looked like he wanted to beat Dvalin to a bloody pulp, but knew somehow that would be detrimental. “How dare you say that to her! You have no idea what she has been through, Dvalin! None! And yet you berate her like…like she is some sort of common dog? How dare you?!”
Dvalin’s skin started to take on the look of the earth, rich browns and tans, his eyes turned green like the color of the leaves, his hair a lush dark green like a meadow. The stench of rotting earth arose from his body. “DO. NOT. TELL. ME. What I can or cannot say, or do in regards to her.” He pointed a stubby dirty finger toward Billie as she winced back. Her voice was thick, “What have I ever done to you? You have no reason to treat me like this. And I-”
“Because you spilled blood! You spilled it right in front of me, Miss! Didn’t you?!”
“What?…what does me killing that monster have to do with anything, Dvalin? I don’t understand!”
“You don’t understand? You do-” he stopped and looked around for a moment, Mason thought it was because he was trying to calm himself. “You honestly have no idea? No inkling of what you almost did? Of what almost happened that night?”
“No.” Billie said sharply.
“Honestly, woman!” he yelled in a half growl.
Mason stepped in between Billie and Dvalin. “Who do you think you are playing with? If there was anything that she did wrong, it was unknowingly. You seem to not understand that Billie was not privy to the rules and regulations of the supernatural world, unlike yourself. She had to go it alone, didn’t she?! For hundreds of years, she wandered this world completely alone. Completely clueless. And like a cruel joke, she was thrust into this world by a twist of fate accidental meeting with the beast that did this to her!” he yelled as he pointed a stiff finger at Billie.
Dvalin looked from one to the other, “Doesn’t matter.” he said pointedly, his face contorted as if he smelled something foul. “People have accidentally been thrust into this world of existence for a thousand years and have never done something so stupid and reckless as she did!”
Mason took a deep breath, “Ok Dvalin. What exactly did she do?”
Dvalin stood straight, giving the illusion that he was taller than he actually was, “By her spilling blood in front of me, she almost bound me to her! And make no mistake, Sir! I shall not be bound by any creature. And certainly not by the likes of her!”
Mason and Billie both blinked and instantly gave a blank look. Dvalin knew that they were telling the truth by their reaction. He sighed as he pressed his shoulder to the rough surface of the large tree. “Some of us; some dwarves have been known to be enslaved by what they covet most. I may be of the earth, but Millennia ago, the earth was bathed in blood. I was there. The smell, the taste, the feel of the warm and sticky and wet gave me a hunger. A hunger for more. Quickly I was at the center of much blood spilling. And for longer than I care to remember, I was a servant, a prisoner of the blood. It was like gold to me. When the great mother and father realized that I stood in the center of all the war, and murder and death, they cast me into what you might consider exile. But I would consider the bowels of Hell. I was locked in the core of the Earth to do it’s bidding and so I would be away from any who may…tempt me with their red gold. If I were to be enticed by the blood that someone else unknowingly spilled, I would be thrust into servitude to them for the rest of their life. That is not something that I am willing to chance.” Dvalin said as he tried to look anywhere but where Billie and Mason stood.
In the distance came a weak howl. Billie stilled. Rustling leaves and twigs snapped and shook a short distance away. Billie heard the call of Marie and Serenity in her mind; ’Saba has transformed. Come home dear sister.’ Billie looked up to the sky where there was a break in the trees. The silver light was weak, but shone. In a blur, she bolted in the direction of the house.