Chapter 3

After finishing our food and leaving a hefty tip for Stella, we left the diner in search of something to do. That was how most of our days in this town were spent. You roamed around for hours with boredom glazed eyes only to return home once the sun went down.

Few in this town were wealthy enough to have a pool in their backyard, while people like Aiden and I frequented the tiny lake behind my house. The Alpha and Luna of our tiny pack had the largest house in town, a modern house with tall columns and huge windows. Many years back the Alpha and Luna had a set of twins; Connor and June. Even in this little town, cliques had formed and those who didn’t fit were isolated and looked down on. I had never been one to fit in, and had long stopped trying. Connor and June, now eighteen, had a huge party for their birthday. The only reason they had invited Aiden and I was to make sure we weren’t their mates, and thankfully we weren’t.

Most of the time Aiden and I would head into the thin forest behind my house, letting our wolves have some free time. The forest in this town was thin and small in comparison to the vast wilderness beyond our little territory. The green of the leaves was dull, as though year-round the trees were in a perpetual state of death. Shifting into our wolf form had to be done with care, in case any wandering humans happened to be around. On days where the heat was all-consuming, we would venture to the little lake behind my house. Most years we did what we could to clean out the lake, removing the putrid weeds that collected on top of the water. More often than not, the lake would smell pretty bad but it was better than battling the intense heat.

Today would not be a day for shifting, as the tourist population seemed to double over night. Everyone was traveling for Iridian, meeting up with their families in hopes they would receive a coveted invitation. Our town seemed to be a popular tourist attraction. Each building in town was small, aged from the decades it had stood. Withered boards, fogged windows and creaky porches made up the majority of our little town. Gerald’s antique shop was a favorite of the tourists who stop at our little town, with his little crystal figurines and outdated furniture. The tourists loved his collection of wolf figurines and hand-crafted dream catchers. The entire place smelled of Clorox and mothballs. Thankfully, the tourists were unable to stay for more than a few hours as our little town didn’t have a Motel or Inn.

Our little town had Stella’s Diner, the Drive by Gas Station, Gerald’s Antique Shop, an incredibly small public library, an understaffed Pack Doctor, Bonnie’s Hair Salon and a Food-Mart. Just enough to help us all survive, but not nearly enough to thrive.

Neither Adley or I had a car, not that you needed one in a town this small. After years of working as a mechanic in his Dad’s shop, Aiden was finally gifted a car. As selfish as it sounded, part of me hoped Aiden was my mate so that we could use his car to leave this little town behind. Last year I had managed a job at Gerald’s Antique shop, finally quitting when I had enough of his history lessons about our town. Every penny I had made was kept in a little wooden box under my bed, accompanied by a pin that belonged to my Grandpa.

After roaming in the sweltering sun for more than an hour, Adley and I headed over to my house. A two-minute walk from the center of town, my house stood out like a giant beacon.

Mom had insisted on giving the place a makeover, though she knew nothing of interior design. Our cramped, three-bedroom house stood out like a sunflower in the middle of the block. Mom had painted the withered wooden boards a bright shade of lemon yellow. Thankfully the tilted porch remained white, as I hadn’t a clue what color she would choose next.

The inside of our house was much like the outside. Cracked ceiling and creaky floor boards, making it near impossible to sneak out at night. Mom had painted the walls a rather nice shade of mint green. None of the furniture matched, and was all accumulated throughout our years of living here. If I tried hard enough, I could point out how and where we got each piece of furniture.

The cracked leather couch was from Mr. Fletcher’s yard sale. The arm chair with its gaudy pattern was from Gerald’s Antique Shop, as was the large owl carving that sat on our rickety coffee table. I was tired of looking at the dark stains on the carpet and the wilted trees in our backyard. I was tired of roaming this town aimlessly, practically begging for something to do.

As we walked into the house, we were greeted by the smell of my mom’s key-lime pie. Stella had been begging her for years for that recipe, and every time my Mom would decline. Mom loved to bake a number of pastries and pies, but her passion was history. She worked at the little library in town, with its horrible selection of books. I had stopped by one afternoon to bring her some lunch and cringed as I explored the Fantasy section. Around fifty books sat in that section of the library, each older than me.

“Sweetheart? Come try this pie.” Mom yelled out from our little kitchen, her mess of red hair peeking around the door frame. “I need a taste tester before I hand this off to Stella.”

“You’re going to make her mad again, Mom.” I shook my head, giving Adley a look that said ‘help me’. “You know she’s just going to ask for your recipe again.”

Our kitchen was horrendously small, much like the rest of our house. The refrigerator and oven were running on their last legs, giving Mom hell anytime she tried to cook. Cracked and stained tile flooring lined the kitchen, but Mom never seemed to mind.

Mom pulled her key-lime pie from the fridge, grinning proudly as she lined the edges with dollops of thick whip cream. Adley licked her lips gleefully, making me scoff and roll my eyes. After a decade of eating her key-lime pie, I was ready for something new.

“Oh, let me have my fun.” Mom chuckled, scooping out a piece of pie and setting it on a flimsy paper plate. Adley nearly jumped for joy when my Mom handed the plate off to her.

Mom gathered her flaming hair and bound it tightly in a pony tail. She had always looked beautiful with her hair back, her angular face and spattering of cinnamon freckles stood out. I looked much like my Mom, set with the crimson hair and a healthy splash of freckles. While Mom had high cheekbones and rich hazel eyes, I had gotten my face and eyes from my Dad. A baby-face, as my parents liked to call it. The only consolation was my mossy green eyes, set with a ring of gold around the edges. It seemed my little brother Brayden hadn’t gotten a thing from my Mom, taking after my Dad with his dark hair and emerald eyes.

“You’re never going to give her that recipe, are you?” I shook my head, Stella’s angry face coming to mind. Not a single person in town dares to cross Stella--except for my Mom. The two of them were in some kind of baking war, determined to out bake the other. Mom would often bake pastries and bring them to Stella’s diner, infuriating her relentlessly. Stella would sell Mom’s pastries to her customers, using them as the judge. I suppose it was their personal form of entertainment in a town this small and boring.

“When she finally admits my cherry pie is better, I’ll consider.” Mom shrugged, a dazzlingly sly smile appearing on her face.

“She did win the pie contest last year.” I shrugged, a smile forming on my face as I hit Mom’s weak spot.

“You’re cruel, Rachel.” Mom scoffed; strands of her flaming hair fluttered to her face as she shook her head. “I’ll have you know, she only won once. That damn Food-Mart only had gala apples. What was I supposed to do? But, don’t you worry. This year, I’m taking home that ribbon.”

“I’m sure you are.” I snickered, flashing her an innocent smile as she waved a spatula my way.

“If you’re going to be so negative, go take your brother to Gerald’s.” Mom huffed, a smile taking form on her full lips.

“Gerald’s?” I snorted, “What the hell does he want from Gerald’s?”

“He likes looking at the wolf figurines.” Mom shrugged, chuckling at the irony. “I gave him some money to get one.”

A few years after moving to this little town, my brother was born. As a typical ten-year-old boy, Zack got into trouble as often as I did. While Mom would force away her laughter to scold us, Dad’s sense of humor wasn’t nearly as developed.

“Zack!” Mom yelled down the hall, “Rachel and Adley are going to walk you to Gerald’s!”

As though it were the best day of his life, Zack ran around the corner and down the hall. His dark hair was a mess on his head, and was nearly impossible to tame. Skidding to a stop, Zack grinned up at Adley and I. Ever since Zack met Adley, he had a little child-like crush on her. With her brilliant blonde hair and sparkling eyes, most of the guys in town favored Adley. Any time she came over, Zack would leap at the chance to talk to her.

“Hi Adley.” Zack grinned, his emerald eyes sparkling as he took in my friend.

“You ready to go?” I questioned, pulling Zack’s attention away from an amused Adley.

“Yup!” Zack smiled, “I’m gonna get me a wolf! It’s going to look just like me when I shift.”

“You don’t know what your wolf looks like yet.” I shook my head, “And go put some shoes on. You said you were ready.”

I followed Zack into his bedroom, knowing he’d move slowly without a little motivation. Once he put his shoes on, the three of us left the house. Sweating through your clothes was a rite of passage in this town, and after so many years the heat no longer affected me. The blistering sun beat down on the pavement, waves of heat radiating from the streets. It was no wonder we had such little trees in this town. How could anything thrive with disabling heat and little water?

Comments (79)
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TotoJojo Luntao
this is nice
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Lori Archer
good read so far
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Judy Bruno
definitely awesome
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