He told me he wouldn’t come near the shop. But then again, he was right, we’re more alike than I know. Lupis lied to me about that, but I already knew he would. He wasn’t lying about the soul bonding thing for bonders that are on the same plane though. Taurus and Halcyone are on the same plane, and there’s definitely something going on between them. And the connection between Lupis and Katrina is plain to see, they’re brother and sister. But as for me and Lupis, that remains to be seen. After all, I’m with Jay, and that’s how it’s staying.

                “Halcyone, Aries, are you two okay? Did Lupis hurt either one of you?” Katrina asks with concern as we walk in.

                Halcyone shakes her head. “No. I haven’t seen him at all.”

                Katrina looks at me and I shake my head. “Same for me,” I lie.

                Taurus’ bull lows and shakes its head.

                Katrina looks from the small bull to me. “Okay. Just as long as you’re both okay.”

                Taurus looks back out the window. “I didn’t see Lupis while we were out, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t see us.”

                Katrina nods. “He’s out there, don’t worry about that. But I don’t know when he’ll come here.”

                I lean back against the door, blocking the view of Lupis across the street. “So what are we going to do? Just sit around and wait for him to come here?”

                Katrina shakes her head. “You’re going to start learning more about your powers and abilities. You’ll need to be able to defend yourself if you meet Lupis, but hopefully that’s not going to happen.”

               I told you Katrina was paranoid and unprepared,Lupis says in my mind.

               I kind of already realized that, but thanks for the update,I reply.

                He laughs.Just make sure they don’t know that we’ve met and you’re with me.

               I never said I was with you, Lupis. I’m not on a side right now.

               He laughs again.You can keep telling yourself that, Aries, but we both know that you want my power. You’re mine now.

                No, we’re just on the same side.

               He pauses and I get the impression of him smiling.For now. But you’ll change your mind.

                That remains to be seen, Lupis.

                He laughs again and his presence fades back to the back of my mind.

                “Aries, Halcyone said you knew about the soul bonding. Is this true?” Katrina asks.

                I nod. “I was doing some research in one of the books you gave me, and I had a dream about it.”

                “So you know that you are more at risk than Taurus or Halcyone for meeting Lupis because you two are connected?”

                I nod again. “Yes. But I think I’m ready.”

                Katrina eyes me quietly. “What makes you say that?”

                I shrug. “I don’t know, but I just know that I am. It’s just one of those things that I know.”

                “If that were coming from anyone else, I’d think they were being arrogant. But with you, you’re like Lupis. You’ve harnessed more of your powers in the first day than anyone else because you’re completely open to this. You’re trying to find a way to make something you can control, like with your art.” Katrina walks closer. “That’s the only reason you’re with Jay, isn’t it?”

                I glare at her. “No, it’s not. Jay and I are together because we both care about each other very much.”

                Katrina gives me a look that says she doesn’t believe me. “If you say so. But this is a warning to all of you,” she says as she turns and faces Taurus and Halcyone. “Relationships with those outside the star are very hard to keep. You will never happily find a mate who doesn’t know about this.”

                “Katrina, can we see a star plane so we know exactly what you and Aries are talking about? All of this is kind of confusing,” Halcyone says.

                Alcyone slithers from his habitat with a scroll hovering a few inches above his head. Katrina catches it and unrolls it. The parchment takes the light from the store and glows gold and silver, becoming the only light in the store.

                “There are four planes in the star,” she begins. “The first plane is between me and Lupis,” she says as she traces it with one finger. “This plane stands for family. It means that no matter what, whoever bonds with the snake and the wolf will be related in some way or form.”

                “What about this one?” Taurus asks as he points to the silver one between him and Halcyone.

                Katrina looks up with a smile in her eyes. “It stands for love. Whoever bonds with the bull and the bird will eventually fall in love.”

                Halcyone looks at Taurus out of the corner of her eye.

                “And the one between Katrina and me means…?” I ask.

                “You didn’t find it in your book?” Katrina asks me.

                I shake my head. “I couldn’t find it.”

                Katrina sighs. “Well, it changes from gold to silver a lot, meaning two different things. If the bonders of the snake and ram are of different genders, it means love. If they are of the same gender, then it means partial friendship, and then nothing, or hatred, depending on other factors. Same with the ram and the wolf, but slightly different. If the wolf and ram are the same gender, then they’re twins.”

                “So Lupis and I are going to fall in love and live happily ever after?” I ask, my voice slightly tinged with sarcasm.

                Katrina shakes her head and rolls the parchment back up. “In the case of Halcyone and Taurus, yes. But in the case of you and Lupis, I’m not sure. The love between you two is always different. With Hanna, the first ram bonder, she and Lupis hated each other with all they had.”

                “But I thought you said the line stood for love,” Halcyone said.

                “I did,” Katrina says. “But in this case, love can be different things. Hate is a type of love, but a very strong form that never ends well. If you hate, you still care, but you want nothing good to happen to the other person.”

                Halcyone looks confused.

                “Halcyone, don’t worry about it. It’s a bit too complicated for you to understand,” I say.

                She turns and glares at me. “Aries, even though I’m seventeen, I’ve had enough adults say that to me in the past few months to last me fifteen lifetimes. My parents split, and those two sentences were all I heard when I asked why. I am so sick and tired of being told something’s too complicated for me to understand!” She stands up and stalks to the back of the store.

                “Why can’t she understand it, Aries? I’m the same age she is and I understand it perfectly,” Taurus says.

                I shake my head. “She’s too innocent to completely understand all of this. I guarantee you that she thinks her parents are getting back together, that the world will one day be at peace, and that she’s never had her heart broken by a guy. This is too complicated for her innocent mind to understand.”

                Taurus stands up. “You still didn’t have to say that to her, though. If you would take the time to explain it, I’m sure she’d understand it.”

                “Well, then you go explain it to her, Taurus. I can’t deal with this right now.”

                “Deal with what, Aries? Halcyone, the fact you’re using your boyfriend, or the fact that you lied to us about Lupis? I know you met him, and you’ve had more than one conversation with him. You smell like wolf, Aries, not ram. I already know which side you’ve chosen and how you and Lupis will end up. So go ahead, your lover’s waiting outside,” he says angrily and walks after Halcyone.

                Katrina turns and looks at me. “So Alcyone was right.”

                “And what did Alcyone tell you?” I ask.

                She shakes her head. “Leave. Now. I don’t want you to corrupt Halcyone or Taurus.”

                “You know Katrina, you say Lupis and I could’ve corrupted them, but it’s really you. They aren’t your children, and no matter what you do, it’s not going to change the fact that the first bonders in their place died on your watch. You keep planting fairytales in their heads, and Lupis and I will be out there in the real world doing what we have to do.”

                Katrina’s face pales. “You wouldn’t.”

                “What’s to stop us?” I ask with a sneer. “Lupis almost succeeded the first time, but you were in his way. But this time, it’s different, because I have no qualms about getting rid of you.” I turn and walk out of the store and across the street to Lupis.

                “Well well then,” Lupis says with a smile. “Glad to know you’re starting to see some sense. Katrina’s nothing but an old fool, which will be her downfall.”

                I look down at his wolf, Lupine. “Where’s Ares?”

                The black and gold wolf dips his head and shows me that Ares is sitting on his back.

               So now you’ve said yes?Ares asks me.

                I shrug.Depends on what you think I’ve said yes to. I’ve just said yes to the power.

                “Aries, there’s something you have to do first before you can start the part of your training that Katrina didn’t want you to know about,” Lupis says.

                “And that would be…?”

                “You won’t like it, but if I’m right, then you’ll do it.”

                “Lupis, there are certain things that I will not do.”

                He smiles. “I know that, Aries. But this is hard to do. In order to start your real training, you’ll have to eradicate something or someone you really care about, whether those feelings are negative or positive.”

                His words slowly sink in and I immediately think of Jay. “No,” I say shaking my head.

                “Aries, you heard what Katrina said about you not being able to find a ‘normal’ mate to be happy with. And besides, are you going to completely hide who you are from him forever? And how are you going to explain to him how don’t age while he keeps getting older?” He gently reaches out and lifts my chin, forcing me to look into his eyes. “There’s already a strong attraction between us, Aries. Are you willing to cheat on Jay? Are you willing to live the rest of his life making him think you love him when the only way you can bear letting him touch you is by pretending it’s me? You’re strong, but that’s something even I couldn’t do.”

                I sigh. “What exactly to I have to do?”

                Lupis pulls an onyx dagger from a sheath on his forearm and hands it to me, hilt first. “Be creative.”

The End

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