Chapter Three
A Werewolf's Welcome

"We're in Canada. Cold, desolate Canada." Alexandra huffed, her brown eyes flashing in disbelief.

Here she thought she could have a warm, cozy mini-vacation while working this case but someone forgot to tell her they were going to Canada.

Rhett turned to look at her, a smirk on his freckled face.
"I tried to tell you. The Loupe are French, and when they migrated to North America, they wanted to keep some of their traditions by moving to the French speaking part of Canada."

"I wanted it to be warm..." She whined, pulling out a jacket to cover her shivering body. Rhett shook his head, laughing.

"Sorry. It snows a surprising amount here so you're not going to get your dream." He glanced at the train station. "The Loupes were nice enough to pick us up."

Alexandria looked up to see a burly man leaning against a chair, staring at them. She could tell his was a werewolf as soon as she made eye contact; the trademark golden eyes were unmistakable. She was still a bit skeptical.

"How do you know that? He could be a random guy waiting for someone else." She scoffed at him.
"Doubting me now, Alex? Shame on you." He grinned. He waved at the man and called out a name, "David!"

David sauntered over to them, the corners of his mouth tipping up. "How've you been Rhett? You haven't been around for a while."

"I've been alright, just saving this chick." Rhett nudged her with his elbow.
David's glance slid over to her, an eyebrow raised.

"I'm Alexandria Phoenix."

He gave her a curt nod, grabbed their bags and led them out into the parking lot in silence. His harsh demeanor failed to faze Alexandria. It's very rare that hunters and supernatural beings got along; the Loupe family's relationship with Rhett was very uncommon. Some hunters frowned at their close relationship, claiming that it softened Rhett and created a bias.

David loaded their luggage in the back of very inconspicuous black car with tinted windows, and while Alexandria enjoyed a short nap, the men chatted about werewolf politics.

It wasn't too long until they reached the gold automatic gates of the Loupe estate. From the looks of the huge mansion behind it, the Loupes were loaded. Alexandria had never seen a house that big or a lawn for that matter. Statues and a whole forest spanned out of the estate. To stay in a place this nice was unusual for Alexandria, who was used to one bedroom apartments in the ghetto.

David typed in the code for the gate and drove into the oversized garage housing several other vehicles. Alexandria and Rhett let themselves out of the car and followed David inside, who was carrying their small amount of luggage.

"I've never seen the whole Loupe family before," Rhett whispered to her while they stepped into the actual mansion, "But I've seen every part of their mansion. It's gorgeous Alex."

Alexandria agreed almost instantly. The room they had entered had two gold grand staircases climbing up on either side. The top floor they arrived to had two doors on opposite sides and down between the stairs was a huge door. She briefly wondered what a room that big would even been used for as she followed David and Rhett up the right side of the stairs.

"The left side of the house is mostly activity rooms. The right side is the Loupe and guest living quarters. Downstairs there are separate rooms for the help's living quarters." David explained to her.

She nodded, intrigued. This place was fancier by far than anything the Association would've set her up with.

David went his separate way when they entered the living quarters. Rhett seemed to know where he was going, so Alexandria followed him. Rhett lead her down the many hallways and stopped abruptly at what she assumed was their room. He opened the door and walked in, leaving Alexandria frozen outside.

Once again, she was left stunned by how beautiful the place was. She wandered in, looking around with wide eyes.

The room was decorated in all red and gold, typical royal colors. Two queen sized beds next to each other took up a fair amount of room, along with a coffee table, flat screen TV mounted in front of the beds and what looked like a door to a walk in closet. The bathroom was luxurious and she was thankful for that.

"This is…a little overwhelming." Alexandria said.

He shrugged, "I've had better."

She shoved, laughed. "Oh shut up you snob. These royals must have really spoiled you if you think that!"

He laughed in return and said, "I'm going to go shower, I feel disgusting"

"You smell disgusting too." She pinched her nose.

"Ha-ha, very funny Alex." He said, already halfway in the bathroom.

Alexandria stayed in the room until she heard the slam of a closing bathroom door. She was out the door in seconds. A little exploration never hurt anyone, she figured, find her way out of the residential part of the Loupe mansion and over to the activity area that David pointed out.

Now she was presented with a problem. There were doors as far as her eye could see. Alex didn't really want to intrude on the Loupe's space but she really wanted to see if they had a training room. After contemplating it, Alexandria decided that maybe a direct approach was best.

She went down the hallway, opening doors and peering in to see what they held. It all worked smoothly until about the seventh door. Alexandria opened that door, looked in and froze.

Five men were sitting around a long round table, their gazes directed towards her. From what it looked like, she had interrupted a conference.

"Er, I'm sorry for barging in… I'm going go now. Carry on." She uttered her face flushing.

The man at the head of the table stood and Alexandria could detect and air of leadership about him. He spoke.

"No. We were about to leave anyways."

He walked over to her until they were face to face. Alexandra felt very uneasy to have a werewolf so close to her. Rhett trusted these people though, so she forced herself to be a little less apprehensive.

"You are one of the hunters, I presume? I'm William, the Loupe king and pack leader. These are my sons. I hope you make yourself at him..?" He drew out, waiting for her to supply her name.

"Alexandria Phoenix." She extended her hand in a handshake which he accepted.

As she glanced around the room at the boys, she noticed they all shared some characteristics and she couldn't believe she hadn't guessed they were related before. They shared the same golden amber eyes true to their species. William, their dad, had golden blonde hair; the sons all had a variation of that color from more bleached to a dirty blonde.

William left, leaving her with a roomful of his sons. They followed their father's manners by shaking her hand and introducing themselves.

The oldest came up with a smile.

"I'm Nicholas; these are my brothers Leonard, Mathus and Michael. So you're the one Rhett's traveling with these days, eh?"

"Yeah, this time around anyways. He's trouble with a capital T, but then again, so am I." She laughed.

Nicholas smiled. "He's like a frère to us."

Noticing her confusion, he elaborated.

"English is not our first language. Sometimes the French slips into the mix so excuse us. What I meant was that he's like a brother to us."

"Oh," She said thoughtfully. Then she asked, "Do you guys have a training room around here? I was trying to find one."

"Mathus can show you the way there, if you like."

A dirty blonde stepped into Nicholas's place. If she remembered correctly, he was the one that was only a few years older than her.

"Sous-moi." He shook his head, "Sorry, I mean, follow me."

After several minutes of trailing behind Mathus as he guided her through the labyrinth that he called a home, she found herself presented with a training room greater than anything she had seen before. She paused to stare in awe.

The room was about the size of a regular gym and filled with gym equipment. The far end of the room had glass double doors that led out to a balcony, which she briefly wondered why they would have it set up that way. Werewolves were strange.

"Mind the time. We have a meeting in about an hour about why you're here."

His eyes turned icy as he said this and without another word from her, he walked away. She was unsure what to think about it all. He was very unfriendly to her and it might've made sense if it had been any other werewolf but he was a part of the royal family! They were used to Rhett so they shouldn't have a problem with hunters.

She didn't care either way since she wasn't a big fan of werewolves herself. She started pounding on the punching bags and felt her frustration melt away. Fighting was her life, though she wasn't sure whether that stemmed from the fact that she had been taught to fight since she could stand or if it was natural interest on her part.

As Alexandria fell into the natural rhythm of her fighting style, she could feel everything else slip away. All that mattered was the echoing of the sound of flesh meeting leather, her quickening breath and the shuffle of her feet. That is, until something disrupted her mindset. It was a small sound, a tiny exhale escaping someone's lips but it was enough to be detected by her heightened sense of awareness.
She whirled, kicking her foot out at the source of the sound and effectively ending up on the floor, dazed and confused. Someone was holding her foot. Alexandria looked up at Mathus in surprise.

"What was that?" She uttered, freaked by the skin contact.

He raised an eyebrow.

"I'm only defending myself from your attack."

"You know, it's pretty creepy that you were there watching me…how was I supposed to react?"

"Watching? Don't flatter yourself. I'm only here to tell you that you are late to the meeting and I was here to escort you. But if that's the way you're going to act, then I'll leave." He scoffed, dropping her foot.

Mathus walked away from her and it took a few minutes before what he said really sunk into Alexandria. When it did, she jumped up and hurried after him. Luckily he wasn't too far away and she managed to catch up to him. The walk was considerably awkward; neither of them had uttered a word as they navigated the hallways. Alexandria suddenly wanted to apologize to him for attacking and it came as a complete shock. Apologize? To a werewolf? Never. But she couldn't stand this silence any longer.

"You surprised me."

"Hm?" Mathus stared straight ahead.

"In the training room. I never thought that someone would come in while I was in the zone."

"Ah. Well, maybe if you were a little bit more time conscious, nobody would have to."

She let out a frustrated sigh. Maybe a compliment would go over better.

"You've got some great defending moves."

"Yes well, we do have a training room for a reason. And it is important to protect ones self, though it wasn't particularly well used against a little girl."

"Little? You're only a year older than me. I am definitely not little and I am a hunter so I have the ability to kick your ass if I wanted to!" She said scornfully.

He let out a short laugh.

"I remember you laying on your back after one move on my part. Now-"

"Mathus! Don't give this lovely lady such a hard time!" Shouted Rhett.

Alexandria had been so busy talking with Mathus she hadn't noticed that she had followed him back to the room where she had first met the royal family. Everyone had gathered inside and it looked like the only person missing was herself. She could feel her face heat up.

"Even though she is late. And she'll apologize for that, right Alex?" Rhett looked at her, his face serious.

He knew her well enough to know that she normally wouldn't apologize.

"Yes well, I lost track of time and Mathus had distracted me from arriving on time." She laughed and breezed into the room.

Alexandria took the empty seat next to Rhett that sat at a long black table. The arrangement was pretty much the same as before, with William at the head of the table and boys sitting by age.

"Yes well, now that you're here, Alexandria, we can get started," William said while smiling at her, "As you all know, we are here on account of a very tragic incident that has happened within the past few months. The case of my missing daughter, Victoria."

His voice got serious and his eyes darkened visibly. Alexandria looked around the room and saw the same expression on all the other boys' faces.

"We're here to assist in any way possible in finding her." Rhett said sincerely, "Tell us- well mostly Alex, about her and anything else that you find important about the weeks before her disappearance."

Nicholas spoke next and he stared straight at Alexandria. Her skin crawled under his gaze, but from what she learned from Rhett, looking away is a sign of weakness.

"I will admit that our sister was a bit bratty from years of being spoiled by our father," He turned his gaze on his father for a second and then back to her, "But she was very kind person. She listened to people when they had troubles and she could give great advice."

"Her wolf was black, if that helps any." Nathanial chimed in, "She went missing about a month ago and there really wasn't anything unusual about her before her disappearance. She acted normally."

"We're very worried something has happened to her," William said, "Though she may be a girl, she is a royal and our family has enemies."

Alexandria tried to hold her comments in but before she knew it, she was speaking.

"Could she have run away? She is a young teenage girl and she must have had her…frustrations. I know a month is a little long but…" She paused when she realized that all eyes were on her.

Rhett looked horrified and she realized that she had put her foot in her mouth. Alexandria desperately tried to take the words back as the gazes she was receiving from this family of werewolves were not friendly.

"I mean, I'm uh, just trying to run through all possibilities. We don't want to overlook anything in order to quickly find your daughter, uh, sir." She stammered.

"She would have never run away and I am very offended you would thing so." Mathus spat.

"Mathus. Don't be rude to our guest. She's only trying to help." William said, "But no, there's nothing to lead us to believe that she had run away. And if she had, she would've returned by now."

"This is true. Maybe it would help us if we could see her room and, not to sound nosy but dig through her things?" Rhett suggested.

William thought for a moment and then said, "You should probably ask her mother, since they were the closest."

"We'll get right on that first thing tomorrow, it's getting late." Rhett responded.

"Yes. Meeting adjourned. Nicholas, I'd like to see you." William said.

With that, all the other werewolves got up and headed towards the door. Alexandria followed suit, with Rhett trailing behind. Right outside the door, Nathanial spoke out at her.

"I'm very sorry for Mathus's behavior. He seems like a cold person naturally, don't hold it against him. He was close to Victoria and the thought of her running away…" Alexandria saw that his eyes had a far away, painful look and it pulled at her heartstrings. "Anyways, I hope you don't feel offended by his comment either."

"Oh," She wasn't used to this kind of politeness from a supernatural creature, "I was out of line too. Sometimes I open up my big mouth and who knows what's going to come out. His comment was rude, but I suppose it wasn't out of line."

Nathaniel smiled at her and left, leaving her in confusion. She felt like she'd never be able to juggle all these personalities and people. Rhett grabbed her hand, breaking her thoughts, and dragged her as he sprinted.

"Rhett! What are you doing?" She shrieked as he tried to pull her down the stairs, causing her to almost trip.

"Come on Alex! I'm hungry!" He turned and pouted at her, "Let's go get something to eat. The kitchen is downstairs and we can grab some great grub."

She had to admit she was hungry. Her session with the punching bag had really taken it out of her. That and arguing with that infuriating werewolf, Mathus. He was really something else, something with a huge inflated ego.

"Alex. Come or I will carry you down the stairs." He threatened.

She looked at him in disbelief. "Well, if you're going to play that card… I guess I have to."

He grinned at her and they walked down the stairs and into the servant's quarter. Alexandria followed Rhett until they were in the kitchen. It was huge room with several appliances, all decked out in chrome. As she looked at it in wonder, Rhett was already raiding the kitchen. He had several things in his arms that he plopped down on the island in the middle.

She looked at his choices and bit back a laugh. He had sandwiches, cake, chips, pudding, and even a few Hot Pockets. He popped the Hot Pocket in the microwave as Alexandria picked a ham sandwich. She was glad she had been forced to come with him because she did have a few things to talk to him about that she wasn't comfortable saying in front of the royal family.

"Rhett, I think we need to check databases across Canada: arrests, homeless housing, and even unsolved murders for the past month. As much as I hate to admit it, there is a possibility that she ran away – or worse."

He munched on his meal before replying, "Yes, but I hope that's not the case. She wouldn't have run away, Alex. I'm telling you, she loved her life."

Somehow, she wasn't too convinced.

"We better check anyways, just in case."

"Yeah, I guess so," He finished his meal as she finished her sandwich, "Let's go to bed. I'm exhausted."

"I agree."

"You're agreeing to go to bed with me?" He grinned, "Today's my lucky day!"

Alexandria slugged him on the shoulder.

"Only in your dreams! How would River react to that?" She huffed.

"He won't know," Rhett wriggled his eyebrows at her.

"You're insane!" She laughed.