Fourteen years old
“Violet! Violet!” My dad burst out, his eyes tearing with laughter. “Violet! Come look at this!” He yelled before he turned back in my direction. “What’s this?” He asked, running his hand through my hair. “You been swimming?”
“It’s hair gel, dad, come on…” I begged with my eyes to get him to stop.
“Hair gel? That’s going to set like cement. Don’t walk too close to any birds, they’ll get stuck to this mess.”
Told you… My wolf snickered in my mind.
His eyes honed in on me. “What is that?” He asked, his mouth twitching.
“That there in your pocket. What is it? Is it a hankie?” Before I could stop him, my dad reached into my breast pocket and pulled out the hankie I had stuffed in there. “Oh, for fuck’s sake! It is! Violet! The boy has a fucking hankie!” My dad fanned himself with the material. “Oh, Eros, you look so good with your shit, wet hair! I’d be weak at the knees without your hankie to fan my blushes away!” He made a big show of putting on a ridiculous Southern accent and batted his eyes at me.
“Oh, you horrid bastard,” my mum laughed as she came down the stairs. “You leave him alone! He’s going on his first date.” She snatched the hankie from him and whipped him on his backside with it. “He doesn’t need you making him any more nervous!”
She turned back to me with a wink. She cupped my cheek as she told me, “you look extremely handsome.”
“He looks extremely stupid. Why is he wearing a suit jacket?”
“It’s a jacket and jeans, Khaos.” My mother muttered, rolling her eyes at him. “He looks smart.”
“Tell your son he looks handsome and wish him luck on his first date.” My mother interrupted sternly.
“Sorry, son,” my dad laughed, slapping me on my back. “I’m just messing around. You look great. But man to man? Lose the hankie. Please.”
“Alright, alright, no hankie,” I snapped, snatching it off him.
“Hey, why does Error look like he’s been dipping his head in glue?” Antheia piped up, coming in from the backdoor.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” I almost shouted.
“Language!” My mum told me whilst my dad laughed as he walked over to Antheia.
“Come on, princess. Let’s leave this sticky situation.” She laughed at him as he scooped her up into his arms. She was eight years old now, but she still looked tiny compared to my dad’s huge frame.
“Yeah, let’s leave before we’re glued to this conversation.”
“It’s a tacky conversation, anyway.”
“Boring. As dry as cement.”
“It’s a sealed deal.”
“Mum!” I almost whined, rolling my eyes at them as they laughed behind the closed door they had just gone through.
“Ignore them, Eros, you know what they’re like together!” She said, biting her lip to stop herself from smiling. I appreciated her effort.
“Your hair is rubbish, Error!” Antheia said, poking her head around the door. I picked up a book off the table in the hallway and threw it at her. She ducked away and laughed.
“This house is ridiculous!” I stressed to no one in particular.
“Hey, hey, look at me,” my mum said. She placed both her hands on my shoulders and spun me around until I was looking at her. She lowered her head until we were looking into each other’s eyes. “You look great. Don’t let those two get to you – your dad is a wind-up merchant, and Antheia isn’t much better. Tell me about your plans, and I’ll help fix your hair.” She turned me around until we were both facing the mirror.
“So it does look like crap?” I sighed.
“Yes!” My dad yelled from the kitchen.
My mum just smiled and began to brush through the hair gel. “It’s a bit much, Eros, but you don’t look crap. You’re as handsome as always. You’re never too old to get advice from your mum,” she grinned at me through the mirror. “So where are you going?”
“Just to the movies.”
“That will be nice. Have I met this mysterious lady of yours?”
“She’s human, mum.”
My mum paused a moment. “Human? Are you going to—”
“I’ll be fine, mum. I haven’t had a spontaneous shift in years.”
“As far as I’m aware, you haven’t had a kiss from a human before. You never know.”
“I know the signs. I’ll make an excuse to get out of there if I feel a shift coming.”
“Well… if you’re sure—”
“I’m sure. Trust me, mum.”
She placed both her hands on my shoulders. “I trust you, Eros. I always have.” She kissed the top of my head. “You look great. Is Sophia going with you?”
“Yes… Sophia? Black hair? Blue eyes? Beautiful smile? Your best friend?”
“Sophia doesn’t know.”
“What’s interesting?” I snapped, pulling away from her.
“I thought you two told each other everything, that’s all.”
“Sophia went on a date last week and didn’t bother to say anything to me.”
“Is that right? Well—”
“I’ve got to go, mum. Love you. Be back at nine.”
I left before she could say anything else.
I walked over to the phone, my hand hovered above it.
Don’t ring him.
I walked away.
This is ridiculous, just ring him! He’s your friend!
I went back to the phone.
Your friend that you’re in love with. The friend that is on a date with someone else.
I walked away.
“Sophia! Will you make your mind up or go and pace elsewhere! You’re annoying me!” My mum snapped.
I gritted my teeth as I walked away and tried not to snap back at her. I knew she was under a lot of stress. My dad had been showing her houses online. He was ready for us to move elsewhere. He said this place was too dangerous. That he had seen people hanging around. I thought he was just paranoid. I hadn’t seen anyone.
“Come here, Sophia.” My mum called out as I left the room.
“What is it, mum?” I asked from the doorway.
“I’m sorry for snapping at you, darling.”
“No, it’s not okay. You’re my daughter, not my sounding off-board. I shouldn’t take my bad mood out on you.”
“It’s fine, mum. Honestly.”
She sighed at me. “What’s wrong with you? If you want to speak to Eros that badly, just call him!”
“I can’t! He’s on a date with someone else!”
“And that bothers you?”
“Of course it bothers me!”
“Because… well because it does! Because he never told me about it!”
“And he has to tell you everything?”
“No… oh, you wouldn’t understand!”
“Or is it because you’re jealous?”
“I’m not jealous.”
Yes, you are, my wolf muttered back. Eros good boy. Like Eros.
I was close to the edge. I could feel my animals creeping to the surface, and it was a tossup as to which one would win the battle and burst free. I was so frustrated! So annoyed! I felt tears of hopelessness burn at my eyes.
“If you like him, just tell him, honey. You never know—”
“I can’t!” I finally snapped. “I can’t just tell him! What then, mum, what then?! He doesn’t like me back and I lose him? Or he does like me back, and I still lose him because I’m not fucking normal! Because he could never accept me if he knew the truth! Because he’s next in line for Alpha at the wolf pack! Last I heard, they weren’t accepting mutts—”
“Sophia, honey—” my mum started, getting up off the sofa.
“No! I don’t want to hear it! Let Eros date other people. It’s best if he forgets me anyway. Thanks to you and dad, my fate is already sealed. I can’t get what I want because I’m a freak! Everyone knows it! Everyone!”
The tears finally won the battle and sprung free from my eyes. I ran to my room and pushed the chest of drawers in front of the door before I dropped to my knees and allowed the pain to wash over me. At some point I fell to my side, hugging me knees together in the foetal position as I cried until my eyes burned and my chest hurt, desperate to drag in some breaths.
What was the point? I hated the pity party I was throwing myself, but I couldn’t help it. Nobody understood. Mum tried, but she didn’t know what it was like living with this curse – she struggled enough just protecting my secret. There’s no way she could live with it. Dad just called me dramatic and said it was teenage hormones. Eros was the only person I could speak to, and the one person I was desperate to keep from finding out.
I was alone.
That’s what really hurt.
Fifteen years old
My blood was boiling as I felt the distress radiating from my once best friend. We had been drifting apart over the years, but this last year she seemed to have pulled away from me completely. I couldn’t get her to even answer my calls anymore.
“Your dad’s a freak! Everyone knows it! Why else would he hide the way he does?” Sophia looked fuming, her fists clenching at her sides.
I ran through the crowd, shoving people out of my way as they crowded around to watch the imminent fight. “Sophia!” I shouted the minute I was at the front of the herd. Her tormentor looked at me, her eyes lighting with interest. She leaned on one leg, cocking her hip. Her hand shot up to her hair, curling one long, black strand around her finger.
“Eros,” she breathed. “I knew you wouldn’t be far behind, always playing the hero for the damsel in distress,” she mocked - and yet she wondered why I never took her up on her million offers to begin dating. I had grown into my body, the various training I did back at the camp helping me to fill out nicely and giving me muscles rarely seen in a boy of my age. I would be lying if I said the new attention I received from the opposite sex didn’t appeal to me, but it would be a snowy day in Hell before I ever looked at Georgia.
My father often laughed when I told him of the many girls that approached me, pretending to need help with their homework or whatever other excuses they could think of just to get some attention from me. He had made my mother squeal with mock anger as he made up stories of the lengths she had gone to, to get his attention. He said it was harmless and dating was a part of normal life. He said it got worse as they got older. My mother had playfully slapped him and he had grabbed her and pulled her onto her knee. “See, Eros? She can’t keep her hands off me. I’m a trapped man, Eros, trapped!” My mum had silenced him with a kiss and the pair had left the room together, laughed and giggling like teenagers. He had come to my room later that night and had a proper heart to heart with me, telling me about teenager hormones, and how I might be tempted to play the field, so to speak, and I was entitled to have my fun whilst I was young. However, it wouldn’t do to leave a string of broken hearts behind me, and he wouldn’t tolerate me lying to any of these women, despite my young age. I was honest from the get go – I was dating them, or I was in a relationship. If I wanted out of a relationship, I told them, I didn’t string anyone along. I respected my dad so much more at that moment than I ever had.
“Leave it, Georgia,” I finally replied, grabbing hold of Sophia’s arm and dragged her out of the circle where more and more people were gathering like hyenas after their prey.
The minute we were away from them I rounded on Sophia, “what are you doing even messing with them?” I demanded. “You know the risks as well as I do! Are you forgetting that this is a human school? The point is to blend in! Not to try to cause fights with the one girl who thinks she is Queen Bee! You can’t afford to be losing your temper like that!”
She glared at me, her chest rising and falling with her accelerated breathing. “She started it, Eros! But I suppose you were too busy to notice that, you could barely take your eyes off her chest!” She spat.
“Jealous?” I sneered. I had no idea what had happened, but somewhere along the way the two of us had lost the easy friendship we once had. We rarely visited each other’s houses and Sophia would often race out of school, no longer waiting for me to walk her home until I eventually gave up trying.
I wasn’t an idiot. I saw the way she looked at me sometimes when she thought I wasn’t paying attention. I saw the way her eyes dilated when they connected to mine. I knew she was attracted to me, but I had figured it was a phase. She never made any move to be anything more than friends, and I would never make her uncomfortable by acting on the attraction I felt towards her. We had plenty of opportunities over the years, and she had always pulled away at the last minute. She had made it clear time and time again that I was her friend, nothing more, nothing less.
Except now, I was definitely something less. She acted as though she couldn’t stand being in my company, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong.
“Jealous?” She scoffed, eyeing me up and down with disdain. “What is there to be jealous of? You can see whoever you want, Eros.” Her lips tightened slightly as she looked me in the eye. “Goddess knows you’re spoiled for choice,” she ripped her arm out of my grasp and walked away from me, her feet pounding on the floor as her fists remained clenched at her sides.
I shook my head and headed back towards the school. There was no point chasing after her. We had been here before. She would run. I would chase. She would run faster. My wolf would get excited to hunt her down. She would round on me and scream at me, and then she would storm into her house, where her mum now refused to let me in.
I guess I just had to let her go.
Why did I do that? Why was I so determined to push him away? He’s my best friend. Was my best friend. I had no idea anymore.
I hated that I was so attracted to him, hated that I couldn’t be honest with him. I couldn’t let him too close to me. My mother was so paranoid that people were growing suspicious of us. We were arguing so much lately; it seemed I never knew a moment's peace.
I had told her she was making things worse. It was bad enough that dad was as mysterious as he was. She wasn’t helping things by acting the crazy old woman. She had even begun to pull away from Violet.
I had overheard them one night on the phone. Violet had asked one too many questions about us. She wasn’t stupid; she knew I had a different scent to the rest of the wolves, and she could smell my father every time she hugged my mother when she saw her. My mother had become cold and formal, hanging up the phone almost immediately, appearing deaf to Violet’s pleading.
From that day onwards she distanced herself from her, reminding me it wasn’t wise for me to grow too close to Eros either. Ever since my breakdown, where I had admitted I was jealous of his date, she had been encouraging me to break away from his entire family. I didn't even see Antheia anymore, and I knew that hurt her, but there was nothing I could do.
My parents were making me more miserable than I could ever have imagined. This is where Uncle Owen would usually step in and tease them, allowing me more freedom than they were willing to give. If he was still here, I would still be in school every day. As it was, my mother begged and pleaded with me to stay home with her at least once a week, absolutely terrified that something was going to happen to me. That was never going to happen, though. Not anymore. Uncle Owen was long gone. We knew now that he had been tortured and killed, my dad had felt the bond snap. We still had one close contact in his old pack who informed us what had happened, although he was vague on the details.
I wish he hadn’t bothered. This only made my parents even more paranoid. I could appreciate that Uncle Own had suffered more than I could ever imagine during his final moments, but he wasn’t us.
Life was for living - I could hardly call what we were doing living.
I sighed, flopping down on my bed. I wanted to call Eros but knew that I was pushing him further and further away every day. Of course, I was jealous of the other girls that paid him attention. He was so easy and relaxed with them, his arm around their shoulder as he joked and flirted. Whenever I tried the same thing, I came across as foolish. I wasn’t able to twist my hair around my fingers and look at him coyly. It would be awkward and uncomfortable. The one time I had attempted it you could cut the tension with a knife as Eros had shuffled from one foot to the other, not knowing how to react.
I had learned my lesson that day. He didn’t reciprocate my feelings, and so it hardly seemed worth it anymore. I was the one that would be hurt in the end and so I pulled away, hoping he would be happy with whoever he ended up with but not wanting to see him moving on from me and our childish friendship.
It was time for me to take control of my life once more.