Titus was gone, and he won't be back until afternoonish, hopefully. It depended if they caught something quick, or if they eat before coming back to the cave. That gave me four hours to somehow make a cake.
I peeked into the alpha's cave. "Rose? Rose, are you here?"
She stepped out of her private room. "Aden, what are you up to?"
I fidgeted with the box in my hand. "I sorta need your help."
"Well, come in."
I shuffled forward, biting my lip.
"What do you need?"
"Today's Titus's birthday, and I wanted to bake him a cake."
Shaking her head, Rose smiled. "That's so sweet of you, Aden, but he doesn't care for chocolate."
"I know." I put the box down and opened the top. "My mom sent vanilla, and this." I held up a package of bacon. "I think he might like it." I shrugged, sucking in my lips. "I know it's kind of stupid, and you don't make a big deal about birthday, but I wanted to do something fun for him. It's the human coming out in me," I laughed nervously.
"Titus would love, even if it had been chocolate."
I nodded, hoping my face wasn't showing how awkward this whole situation felt. "Can I use the oven?"
"Let me get the key." She went back to her room and returned with a key ring. "Grab your stuff."
We walked a little ways down the corridor to the only real door in the cave. Rose unlocked it and held it open for me. I went to the makeshift kitchen part of the room and put the box on the counter.
"Do you need any help?"
"No, I'll be fine." I lifted up the box. "I only need to add like three ingredients, so it shouldn't be too hard."
"It's very sweet of you to do this."
I shrugged. "I just want to make his birthday special for him."
"I'll leave you to it then. If you need anything, I'm just down the hall."
The door closed and with a deep breath, I got started. Opening the cake mix package, I dumped it into a bowl. I had to dig around, before I found a measuring cup. I just had to estimate the water and oil amount as the smaller cups were nowhere to be found. Going to the fridge, I opened the door, no eggs.
I cursed under my breath and dug through the stacks of packages meat. I checked all the other fridges, but there wasn't a single egg.
"Damn it." I thought they'd have some. Eggs are protein, and that's all these people live on. Propping open the door was a can, I hurried to Rose's room.
She was launching on some furs reading a book. "Aden, did you need somethings?"
"Eggs," I said nervously.
"Oh, I'm sorry. We don't have any. It's not something we commonly eat."
"Now I know," I muttered, biting my fingernail. I didn't think this through.
"Maybe ask Storm. She might know someone that could help."
I nodded. "Thanks." I jogged down the hallway. Turning the corner, I ran smack into a wall of fur.
"Hey, princess, watch it." Darius picked up the clipboard I had knocked out of his hands. "You're not the only one pissed at me for not doing my job."
"Sorry. Do you know where Storm's at?"
"In the room," he nodded behind him. "Why?"
I didn't really want to tell him. "It's Titus's birthday."
"Well aware," he tapped his pencil on the clipboard. "We was complaining about being put on hunting duty this morning. Thought he deserved a day off for being born," Darius scoffed. "Today simply marks a pain in my ass coming into the world."
"Hmmm... I bet he feels the same about your birthday," I muttered, slipping past him.
"Hey wait," he grabbed my arm. "What do you need her for?"
"I'm making a cake. I thought you might have eggs in the fridge, but I overestimated what exactly werewolves eat."
Darius chuckled. "Meat, Aden. It's all about the meat, but I know someone that can help."
"River, you know him right?"
I nodded. "He's an omega."
"And can sniff out a bird's nest better than anyone else in the pack. I see him eating them all the time. Shell and all. Kinda a weird pup, if you ask me."
"Do you know where he's at?"
"Probably outside, or hiding somewhere. He's a skittish little thing."
I marched passed him. "I would be too with men like you wandering around, pissed off most of the time."
"A thank you, would have been enough," he called after me.
"Thanks Darius!" I yelled back.
"Asshole," I hissed under my breath to the sound of his laughter.
I was running out of time. I had to find River now, or Titus was going to get back before I finished the cake. I ran into the hot pools for the third time. A couple moms were swimming with their pups. Middle ranks lunged on the far ledge, but no River.
Groaning, I jogged downstream. More werewolves were sitting outside talking.
"Hey, have any of you seen River?"
They shook their head.
"Try down by the tree line. I saw someone go there," one said.
I nodded. "Thanks." I hurried off to where the two streams connected. No one was there. "River!" I called. "River, it's Aden. I need your help."
Something golden popped out from the rocks on the other side.
"River," I breathed.
He sheepishly stood and rubbed his arm. "Hi."
"I need your help. Do you know where I can find some bird eggs? Preferably without baby birds half formed inside?"
He shook his head. "No, they've all hatched."
I cursed and pulled at my hair. "God, dammit. I totally messed up."
"They have normal eggs."
My head snapped over to him. "What? Where? I checked everywhere."
River lowered to all fours and hopped across different rocks to get across the water. "Alpha let me get some. I saved a few."
"Please River can a have a couple. I'll order more to replace them."
"Sure." He smiled.
"There's a small mini fridge in the back of the storage room. They're in there. You can have as many as you like."
I hugged the golden werewolf, who seemed a bit startled by it. "You're awesome. I'm so going to pay you back for this. Anything you want, just let me know."
"It's fine," he whispered.
"I got to go, but thank you so much." With a wave, I darted back up the incline and raced through the cave. I still had enough time to pull this off.
Something wasn't right. It was still gooey in the center, and the moment I took it out, the cake sunk. I tried cutting into it, to salvage the edges, but the batter just oozed together. I quickly put it back in the oven, before backing up to the counter and sliding to the floor.
Today had turned out awful. I rested my head on my knees and let out a deep breath. I followed the directions, I did everything right. Why wasn't it working?
I need professional help. Wandering to the back of the storage room, I found one of the extra pack phones. Dialing my mother's number, I held the phone to my ear. She'd handle this; my mom could fix anything. At least I was praying she could make the sludge sitting in the oven at least edible.
She picked up on the third ring.
"Mom, it's me."
"Aden," she said happily. "This is a new number. How's the cake coming?"
"Mom," I whined. "I messed up. It won't cook, and Titus is going to be home soon. I put it in like the box said, and it came out gross. The middle won't cook. Titus doesn't even like sweets, and my cakes disgusting. I don't know what to do."
"Do you follow the high elevation instruction?"
"I don't know what that is," I muttered, feeling like I overlooked something very important.
"Look on the side of the box."
I trudged over and picked it up. There on the side read what to do when cooking at high altitudes. "Oh no, mom, it's too late I can't fix it. What am I going to do now?"
"Aden," she sighed. "Look in the box, under Titus's present from us."
Lifting up the wrapped package, I stopped two other cake mixes along with extra ingredients. She knew I'd mess this up.
"Aden," she called. "Did you find it?"
"Yeah, thanks mom," I said feeling rather pathetic.
"If you had read the letter I taped to the front, I told you to adjust the recipe, and add a bit more flour to the mix."
I drummed my fingers on the table. "Titus was being annoying last night. He would have wanted to read it, and it would have ruined the surprise."
"That man." She laughed. "Do you need anything else, sweetheart? Sounds like you need to hurry and make another cake."
"No, I got it, but keep your phone on you just incase."
"I will," she chuckled.
"Good luck, Aden. Tell Titus happy birthday for us."
The line went dead, and I tossed the phone on the counter. Next year I was buying a cake, even if I had to drive myself to the store to pick it up.