Davin shivered but jammed his ice cleat into the frosty surface wishing he’d worn his fur. A light breeze crossed over his skin burning as it touched. Damn, whose bright idea was this?
He tipped his head back and stared at the vivid display put on by Lady Aurora. Purple and blue danced against the deep green background. He loved the aurora, loved to share the beauty of the night lights with others—sometimes friends, often tourists.
Tonight the aurora seemed to hold some kind of special power.
He shook his head, trying to clear the tales he’d heard as a child from his brain. Donal, their ancestor, spoke in excited, fervent tones of the night they were changed and how the lights guided them to the glacier, how the water gave them their power.
Davin had never been to the Source. He’d been born to two shifter parents. Only mates who were bonded to a shifter were brought to the Source, with the hope they would be able to change as well. The process seemed to extend the life of the mate.
Being as Davin was only three generations away from the founders, they didn’t know quite how long a born shifter would live. Donal—the founder at the top of his line—lived at least 155 years before recently dying.
Riordon, Davin’s best friend and the new Alpha of the Pack, worried the location of the Source would be lost forever if something happened to him so he’d decided yesterday afternoon to bring Davin and Braxton—the other Beta and resident cranky polar bear shifter—to the glacier.
Their arrival just happened to coincide with a solar storm and the arrival of the aurora.
Another shiver skipped down his spine.
“Are we there yet?” he called to Riordon’s back.
Riordon froze with his next step and slowly twisted around, his glare almost knocking Davin backward.
“Are you shitting me?”
There didn’t seem to be a real question there but Davin decided to answer it anyway.
He rubbed his gloved hands together and stomped his feet, hoping to keep feeling them.
“It’s freakin’ cold out here.” Davin remained one of Riordon’s best friends from childhood and now served as one of his Betas, so he wasn’t actually afraid Riordon might hurt him.
Braxton, the third member of their party, sighed. “You’re hiking on a glacier. In January. In Alaska. In the middle of the night.” He somehow maintained his exasperation and his cool at the same time. Nothing ruffled Braxton’s feather—well, if he had feathers. He was more likely to eat something with feathers. As a polar bear he didn’t mind the cold or if he did, he didn’t complain. Bastard.
“I dressed for reasonable cold,” Davin countered. “This is crazy-ass, who in their fucking minds would be out in it kind of cold.”
“You know people in Iceland have a word for weather like this,” Braxton said as he strode past Davin, perfectly balanced on the ice, even without ice cleats. Hell, he wasn’t even in his bear form.
Bastard, Davin thought a second time just for the satisfaction of it.
“It’s ‘gluggavedor.’ It means ‘window weather.’” He kept speaking as he caught up with Riordon. “It’s used to indicate weather that might look nice but is better enjoyed inside, through a pretty window.” He waved his hand up to the sky. “I think this qualifies.”
“Then why aren’t we sitting inside our nice cabin, enjoying gluggy-stuff?”
“That’s what I said,” he muttered softly, knowing the sensitive ears of his companions would pick it up anyway.
They kept moving, closer to the glacier. Some instinctive part of Davin’s chest dragged him closer. The sensation of being led, or urged, by something beyond himself made his muscles tense.
“Why does it have to be so cold?” he groused, more for the need to say something to engage his mind.
“Clear skies, almost nineteen hours of darkness,” Braxton said calmly. “There’s nothing to hold the heat in. The clouds really do act as a blanket.”
Davin pressed his lips together. “I get the science of how cold works,” he tossed to Braxton. “Do you actually know where this cave is? Or are we just wandering around, hoping for an open spot in the ice?”
Riordon’s glare this time pierced Davin’s chest and Davin actually felt the compulsion to lower his gaze to the Alpha—something that rarely happened and almost never since Riordon took over.
“I know the general location.” Riordon’s gaze skimmed over the dark ice. Davin did the same but he could see anything besides ice and aurora. “Donal brought me here last year but it’s a glacier. You know how much this melts and changes every year?”
Davin’s wolf howled, the sound inside his head mournful and strong.
As if his inner animal called to the elements of the air, a flash of blue exploded overhead. As a unit, all three men tipped their heads back and looked up.
Captivated by the lights, Davin stared. Trickles of red entwined around the purple, like lovers caught in a moment of intense passion. Davin’s cock swelled. Conscious that his companions were otherwise distracted, Davin reached down and checked and damn, yes, his prick was getting hard.
What the fuck?
I seriously need a date.
“That’s amazing,” Riordon’s reverent tone matched the silent world around them.
Davin nodded. It isn’t matter how many times he saw the aurora, it never failed to captivate him.
A shiver raced down his spine. He hadn’t spent much time with Donal but he knew the stories. Donal and the other Founders said the first night it felt like Lady Aurora guided—or pushed if, you heard Adriaen tell the tale—them toward the glacier, the source.
Davin felt the same impulse tonight.
“Let’s get going,” he urged. Something in those two words must have revealed his unease.
“You’re not worried about a little light show, are you?” Braxton asked, the words laden with mockery and amusement.
“I’m with Davin,” Riordon announced. “Donal used to say the aurora drove them toward the cave.”
Davin couldn’t help flashing a smug smile at Braxton as they moved closer to the glacier.
“Yes,” Braxton agreed. “But it’s no longer the nineteenth century. We aren’t superstitious assholes.”
“No, we’re logical assholes.”
Riordon chuckled. As they got closer, a shallow indent appeared in the ice. Riordon led them toward it as if he expected the cravasse to be open.
Walls of ice rose around them as they slipped deeper into the glacier. Each man flipped on his flashlight and they moved between the slick sides. Braxton grunted at one particularly tight corner.
“There’d better be something special at the end of this.”
Just as Braxton’s gripe reached Davin’s ears the space expanded and they stepped into a small cave.
Davin stared up and around, captivated, loving the way the lights flared through the ice ceiling. “Okay, this is fucking cool.”
Braxton seemed speechless for the first time in…well, ever.
Riordon nodded. “What do you think?”
“So this is it?” Davin walked in a little farther. “It seems a little plain.”
“It’s the Source, not a day spa.”
As if the words “the Source” called it forth, his eyes moved to the trickle of water dripping from the far side of there cave. The ice was clear and cold and damn, he wanted a taste. He stepped forward, tipping his head back and opening mouth.
“Stop!” Riordon’s cry jerked him out of the simple process of drinking.
“What the hell?”
“You can’t drink from the Source,” Braxton announced.
“You’re a shifter already. Shifters can’t drink from the source,” Riordon added.
Riordon glanced at Braxton but didn’t seem to get the answer he was looking for.
“What happens?” Davin pressed.
“I can’t remember. Donal told me…” Riordon grimaced. “I—okay, I wasn’t specifically paying attention when he talked about it.”
Davin’s lips quirked up in an unconscious smile. Riordon never planned to be Alpha, so he’d been a little lax on studying the history and legends of the Pack.
“But he said something bad happens. Shifters can’t drink from the Source, only mates and people who are approved to be turned.”
Davin licked his lips and glanced at the clear trickle. The sight called to him. Shaking his head in an attempt to brush off the desire, he turned to Riordon.
“So we’re here. What to do we do now?” Neither of his companions moved. “Burn incense. Sacrifice a goat?” Davin suggested with a cocky smile.
“We’re in a glacier. Why would we burn something? Anything?” Braxton countered.
“Just asking.” Davin held up his hands.
“I wanted you guys to see it. I know the Founders kept this place a secret but I trust you and I think someone besides the Alpha needs to know how to find it.”
Davin glanced at Braxton and grinned. “Right. Walk toward the glacier during a solar storm and hope a cave appears.”
Riordon shrugged, not bothered at all. “Basically.”
Braxton placed one of his large hand on Riordon’s shoulder. Davin assumed it was meant for comfort but looked a little painful when Riordon winced.
“We’re honored you brought us here.”
Davin nodded his agreement and support. He did appreciate the honor of it. It was just the weird sensations of being in the cave that bothered him.
“Ready to head out?” Riordon checked in with Braxton and Davin. Both nodded their agreement. “Thanks for doing this,” Riordon said as he moved toward the entrance. Braxton followed.
Davin hesitated. The sweet stream dripped, calling his attention, practically pointing out the opportunity. He took one step toward the entrance then drew back. He needed to taste it. Opening his mouth, he tipped his head back and let some of the cold, clear liquid fall down his throat.
He released a tiny moan as the cool water poured down his throat. So sweet.
Satisfied, he gave a quick shake of his head and followed his friends out of the cavern. They stepped into the clear air. The skies still held a green haze, though the other colors had faced.
“Let’s push it,” Riordon announced. “We still have time to make it back to the cabin and grill those steaks.”
“Midnight barbecue. Let’s do it,” Braxton added as he followed in Riordon’s steps. “I brought some lovely hunks of meat.”
“Hell yeah!” Riordon called out, the mood lightening as they moved from the oppression of the cave.
“Hell yeah,” Davin shouted back even as his stomach made a strange flip. Blah. Meat. No. “Do we have any salad?”
His friends stopped so quickly it should have been an animation.
“What?” Riordon asked.
“Salad? I’m kind of craving salad.” Hmm, yes, greens. Fresh greens.
“Uh, no. We’ve got meat and potatoes. Full stop. That’s it.”
Davin forced a smile. “Great.” He gulped down the bile that rose in his throat. What the fuck? You love steak and particularly when Braxton cooks it. Nice and rare. “Sounds delicious.”
The other two took off in long strides. Davin followed a little slower, the concept of dinner dragging his feet.
You love steak, he reminded himself.
But I really want a salad.
He waited for the wolf inside his brain to howl its protest. His beast loved meat, the rarer the better.
Oh, fuck. Something has gone seriously wrong.