Athanasios and Ava continue their journey to Greece by flying.
Under the Stars
The fire burns brightly, sending heat and light around the camp. Athanasios’ men caught rabbits for us to eat and the game with the fresh vegetables Emily apparently sent with the wolves, make a hearty meal. I snuggle into Athanasios’s embrace as the conversation flows in both English and Greek, which means I understand about half of it, though the mind link helps fill in my lack of knowledge as it’s translated for me by my now husband.
As the fire dies down, some wolves begin to patrol the camp as others like me, make ready for bed. Athanasios rolls out the ground mattresses for us to lay on and I use a blanket folded in on itself as a pillow. One of the female shifters looks at me and tries to copy how I folded it. Nodding to Athanasios, I make my way over to her.
“I can help, if you’d like?” I offer and she blinks, then nods.
“You are not who I thought he would be with,” she tells me as I fold the blanket into a firm pillow shape.
“Oh?” I ask. “That sounds–strange,” I reply, wanting her to continue.
“We can talk tomorrow, on the rest of our walk,” she smiles at me. “I will explain more then,” she smiles. This shifter isn’t like Anastasia, a wolf shifter. My mind draws a blank as to who or what she is.
“I’m Ava,” I say, introducing myself and holding my hand out. She smiles and laughs lightly.
“We know who you are,” she replies with mirth in her voice. “I am Cora,” she says and we shake hands. “Good night, Ava,” she says softly as I head back to Athanasios’ embrace.
‘You’re right, Cora is not a wolf shifter,’ Athanasios tells me as I snuggle down next to him.
‘I sensed that. What kind is she?’ I ask, closing my eyes.
‘We do not know. But, she insisted on coming with the advance party and her quiet ways make her a good lookout,’ he tells me as sleep begins to tug me under.
‘I hope she’ll be a friend,’ I suggest as my breathing slows.
‘So do we,’ is Alexandros’ reply as sleep takes me under.
The dawn starts with a chill in the air, our breaths puff as we breathe out. Aeolus has a job getting the fire going and I help whilst sitting beside Athanasios. He looks triumphant until I hear my husband tell him I helped.
“It was too soggy otherwise,” I share. “I just dried the wood a little for you, that’s all,” I explain. “The rest was down to you.” I smile at him, hoping I don’t encounter a barrage of dislike from the man. Then he smiles and thanks me. It takes Athanasios’ translation before I understand what the Greek wolf shifter told me. ‘Thank you for not being so obvious about it.’
An hour later, we’re breaking camp. I paid attention this morning to Cora; no one else seemed to. She would retrieve her food but hardly stood on the ground, not making a sound when she walked right past me. I did check to ensure her feet were on the floor, indenting the ground, lest she is an elemental or a fae, but she left footprints, the same as everyone else. As for what kind of shifter she is, I know will need to be revealed by her.
Aeolus nods to Athanasios and every wolf is ready; no one is shifting though and I’m puzzled until Athanasios shows us a little of his magic and opens a portal to the Shifter Transport Station on the South Coast. I blink, unsure of what I’m seeing through the portal void until Cora touches my hand.
She smiles at me and I look at my husband, the strain on his face is enough for me to start ushering everyone through. In threes and fours, the shifters move through the portal as if they were about to walk onto a beach. Cora turns to me and waves, urging me to hurry as the portal closes behind the last wolf shifter.
“Let me help you the next time,” I grin as he slowly stands, but he frowns at me. I tilt my head, waiting for him to explain himself in some way, or tell me off for offering. It takes a moment, but then he sighs.
“It hurts,” he says, wincing as we slowly move.
“I know it does, the trick is how you transfer the pain, or get used to it. I can’t do portals that cover that distance, not yet. My aunt can,” I venture as we continue to walk. “I haven’t had the strength until recently to do more than open them more than a few miles away.” We walk side by side in comfortable silence for a while, when Athanasios stops and grins. I’m about to ask why when I hear Alexandros’ voice in my head.
‘Care to spread your wings, mate?’ he asks. I scrunch up my face, confused.
‘I’m not a bird,’ I observe, which makes the body of the man who is my husband, shudder in laughter. I can only watch as he strips naked and shifts to Alexandros.
‘And your mate is a dragon,’ he tells me, rather matter-of-factly. I grin, quickly gather Athanasios’ clothes, and pack them away as neatly as possible. Bowing to Alexandros, he lowers one leg so I can climb on and in moments, we’re airborne, flying just over the trees as his strong wings beat in a perfect, hypnotic rhythm.
‘Would you care to go higher, mate?’ The dragon asks me through our mind link.
‘I’m likely to come off!’ I yell though I remember too late that I do not need to yell in my head. Alexandros just chuckles at me.
‘Lay on my neck, find a handhold in my scales and hang on,’ he instructs and as I do what I’m told, his wings flap hard, his neck lifts and he climbs. Soon, the moisture of the clouds surrounds us and I sneak a peek at my surroundings. We break through the clouds and far beneath us, England’s green and pleasant lands roll out before us on one side as the blue of the Irish Sea and the Atlantic far beyond, call out to me.