Mom drove through the center of town, turning into one of the residential neighborhoods. Every house nearly looked the same. Small and identical, ideal to fit the most amount of people in a small space.
"It's not as big as our old house." Mom grinned sheepishly, "But it's the best I could get on short notice. The landlord was friends with my Dad."
"It's not a problem." I chuckled, my eyes tracing over the small square windows.
My eyes were elsewhere. They were trailing over the porch's peeling blue paint. A low whine left Lila's lips as she recognized the similarities. That was one thing that needed to be changed.
Mom parked on the curb by the house and popped open the trunk. Her arms were filled with bags as she wobbled down the sidewalk. I must've packed more than I thought. Her arms were overflowing with bags as she tried to carry everything at once. She could hardly see where she was going, nearly bumping into someone.
"Woah--" A man's voice c
Mom came into my room shortly after, letting me know everything with the school was in order. I would be officially starting school tomorrow, the thought frightening yet exciting.I laid in bed that night, picking my phone up to send Kris a text. I ran my fingers over the keyboard, struggling to figure out what to say. Alyssa and I never really texted. We hung out constantly, but rarely ever communicated over the phone.-Me 10:23p.m.'I'm all set for school tomorrow. What time does it start?'-Kris 10:29p.m.'Cool! Starts at 7, be at my house at 6:45'I had meant to send a response, but my eyes were fluttering warily. I fell asleep on top of the covers, my phone resting on my chest. The next morning, Mom peeked her head in the door waking me up in the process."What time is it?" I grumbled, squinting down at my phone."5:30." Mom responded, "Bet you're regretting not taking me up on my earlier offer. You could've been home
One Month LaterLiam and I had become the closest out of the entire bunch. Nicki and I had also grown extremely close. She loved that I had no sense of fashion, and allowed her to choose my outfits for me. She often paired me with cute skirts and tennis shoes, or the occasional dress but I didn't mind.In the month I had been here, I had grown more confident. I was now telling jokes with Kris and Dustin, or talking about guys with Nicki and Tyra. I'd often hang out with Liam, who wasn't nearly as grumpy as Dustin painted him out to be.No matter how hard I tried, Atlas was always on my mind. The first two weeks in town were horrible. I would awake in the middle of the night screaming, my insides burning with an invisible fire. Every nerve and cell in my body was screaming in pain. My Mom rushed into my bedroom without fail, soothing me with her words as best she could. After a few days, I finally got the truth from her. The truth broke my heart more than words ever
Six Months LaterI often thought back on the talk I had with Beta Ned. He was quite understanding about my situation, clearly seeing himself once in my position. While his words did nothing to lessen the pain, they helped me understand what to expect.I would never feel true happiness--not the way I would if my mate had accepted me. Atlas would always carry a piece of my soul within him, tethering himself to me. Even accepting his rejection would not remove that piece of my soul. Accepting rejection would only dull the mate-bond, making the pain fade as quickly as it had come. There was no taking back that piece of your soul. Once the Moon Goddess picked two mates, they would remain mates for life.Beta Ned asked why I had not fought for Atlas, why I had not tried something else instead of running away. I told him the truth--that I was weak and broke easily. He disagreed of course, but I already knew the truth. Beta Ned told me I might be better off accepting
Tyra and I shifted, darting into the woods behind Liam’s house. Lila was eager to stretch her legs, the two of us nearly bursting with anxiety. I was determined to keep away from the fight. We would provide help with evacuation, but fighting wasn’t in my skill set. I just needed to see my Mom, to make sure she was alright.Our paws thundered against the dry earth, twigs snapping under our feet. My chest burned with exhaustion, but I kept pushing forward. Somehow, I found the strength to continue running, even when my legs cried for mercy. Branches whipped across our fur, feeling like velvet across our thick skin.‘Over here.’ Tyra snapped through the mind link, darting out of the woods and behind one of the buildings in town.The two of us shifted, the warm air lapping against our exposed skin. I had never become comfortable with constant nudity, even after spending my life in a pack. My cheeks burned, but I tried to pay no mind.
I waited twenty minutes before exiting out the back door. Hopefully long enough for Tyra to get the kids out safely and far enough away. Each snarl and growl I heard set me farther on edge. Fear rooted me to the spot, begging me to stay. It would’ve been easier to stay. I couldn’t even bring myself to look out the window, to see what was going on. Six months ago, I would’ve never imagined doing what I did today.Rogue's ran rampant down the street, tackled and killed by our own warriors. Windows in the buildings closest to the fight were shattered, glistening glass laying in the road. Blood splattered gruesomely, running down the front of some of the now vacant buildings. I could only hope everyone had gotten away safely, or were hiding until this mess was over.It was a start—but I forced myself to go out the back door. I crept behind two empty shops, trampling weeds and walking through tall grass. I stumbled through patches o
When I was seven, I asked my Mom for a new bike. I wanted this bike more than anything, convinced it would solve all of my child-like problems. Bright pink with waves of gentle orange, bright streamers dangling from the handles, and a large wicker basket on the front. I had begged and pleaded, negotiated and screamed until I was blue in the face.Mom had already gotten me a bike two months ago, a present for my birthday. She couldn't understand why I needed another; what importance that bike held in my child-like mind. Another month had passed, my begging and pleading only growing worse. Her and Dad were often on the same page, agreeing over just about everything. My begging and pleading had cracked Dad's willpower. He asked Mom if we could get me the bike. Dad understood as he always did. He understood what that bike meant to me, understood my childish reasons behind wanting it in the first place.Mom was solid in her resolve, but suggested a s
Two days; that was how long I sat in the spare bedroom of Liam's house.Food tasted like ash in my mouth, mixing with my spit to create a disgusting cement texture. I felt itchy and uncomfortable in my own skin, but couldn't force myself to shift.The day after the fight, a large ceremony was held for all of the lives lost. I couldn't force myself from the bed, couldn't force myself to face what I had lost.The pain was overwhelming, and some cruel part of me hoped Alpha Atlas could feel every excruciating sting that pulsed under my skin. After the pain he had caused me for months, he deserved a little in return.Liam, Dustin, Kris, Nicki and Tyra all visited me that day. They didn't force me to go, nor did they pressure me into leaving the room. Kris was the only one who seemed to understand what I was feeling, as he too had lost his Mom many years ago.Liam's parents welcomed me into the
Joining training had given me a renewed sense of purpose. Instead of thinking about what I had lost, I filled my mind with thoughts of tomorrow. I waited for the fear to consume me at any moment, realizing I had made a horrible mistake in joining. When the fear refused to settle into my bones, I found myself surprised and relieved.With something new to fixate on, the tears that waited behind my eyes began to fade and I found myself enjoying my day with Tyra and Nicki."See, nothing a good old girls' day can't fix." Nicki shrugged, examining her freshly painted nails. A smile of approval formed on her face, and she held them out for me to see."Their beautiful." I nodded, taking my wolf's advice to remain in the present. "But how do you fight with fake nails on?""Very, very carefully." Nicki rolled her eyes, "You wouldn't believe how many times I've chipped a nail.""Were werewolves, Nicki." Tyra rol