I haven't been home in 8 years, and the anxiety I felt walking through this airport terminal made me painfully aware of it. I stepped out into the sunshine, and the hot air on my face felt like hitting a brick wall after the airport's air conditioning. I looked around, trying to see where Jackson was parked. My little brother leaned against the side of his truck on his phone. I could hear him talking to our mother the closer I got to the truck.
"Ma, the plane is delayed by like 20 mins. Everything is probably fine." Jackson looked up and smiled when he saw me. "Ma, he's here, ya, we are on our way," he hung up the phone and looked at me."
"Hey, bro! I missed you! It's been years!"
I instantly felt a little guilty. He had been just a pup when I left him and the rest of my family. I shook off the feeling.
"I know, kiddo. I missed you too." I dropped my duffle bag and pulled Jackson into a hug, and squeezed him tightly. I was hit instantly with a female smell, like Japanese cherry blossoms. "Dude. Who were you with? What is that smell?" It was like I couldn't get enough of the smell into my nose.
"Dude, get off me. You're practically humping my leg! I don't know. I was training before I came to pick you up. It could have been anyone." Jackson pushed me off, trying to get some distance between us. Jackson bent down and picked up my duffle and threw it in the back of the truck.
"You ready? Ma is already on my case about your plane being late as if I had some sort of control over it. Let's get a move on, we are supposed to be at Kirstie and Adam's rehearsal BBQ tonight, and you fucking stink, dude, you need a shower."
We got into the truck, and Jackson started it up. The stereo came on, with the song smoke a little smoke playing. I pulled out a cigarette and rolled down the window. I watched as the landscape passed us by as we made our way out into the country to the pack grounds, the forest was becoming denser, and I could see the houses getting bigger and the gardens expanding. I remember being young and thinking about how badly I wanted one of these houses and a wife and falling into my father's footsteps.
When I got older, I realized that being an Alpha was not for me. It wasn't what I was set out to do. My father and mother were so disappointed in me like I had failed them. Jackson was a child, but I could already see that he was more cut out to be an alpha than me. I was too much of a lone wolf. I was never a leader.
We pulled into the house, and I had a sense of home hit me right in the chest. I had been gone for so long that I had forgotten how much I missed the packhouse. The chaos of it, the love it was filled with, and the comfort it gave me coming home to it every day from school or training.
Jackson shut off the truck, and I got out and went around to the back of the truck to grab my bag, I heard the screen door slam, and I looked back towards the house to see Mama coming around the corner with her arms out.
"Hi, babae." Mama squeezed me so hard that I felt like I might pop, and I got a whiff of that cherry blossom again.
"Mama, who was here? You smell different." I pulled her close and sniffed her hair.
"Oh, child, this house has had so many people through it for the last week it's all become a blur." She ruffled my hair and smiled the smile that would melt any man's heart with kindness in her eyes that was so pure.
I pulled her close again and spoke, "I miss you so much, Mama."
She pulled away from me and looked up at me, pulling her eyebrows together.
"You look different, baby. What happened?"
"Nothing Mama, I'm just happy to be home. It's been so long."
I slung my bag over one shoulder and wrapped my other arm around her, and walked towards the house with her. I could smell all the baking and food prep all the girls had been up to, preparing for the BBQ tonight and the impending wedding tomorrow.
"Okay, Kai honey, you go get all showered up and come down here. We are headed out back to the rehearsal right away. The BBQ is all set up, and people will be headed over here in about an hour. All the girls just went home to change. You're lucky that your plane wasn't too much later, or you would have missed the whole thing. I'm really glad you decided to come home, darling." She winked at me as she went into the kitchen.
I followed the hallway down to the stairs and headed upstairs to my room. The room still looked exactly like I had left it years ago. I threw the duffel in the closet and pulled out my shaving kit. I shut the door and headed to the bathroom.
After a shower and shave, I came back into the room and went to the closet to find a suit. I had left them all here when I left, and I knew mama would take care of them while I was gone. I pulled some underwear out of my bag and pulled them on, and grabbed a pair of dress pants and a white dress shirt, a tie, and a jacket from the closet. I got dressed and headed down to the kitchen, hoping to grab a beer and snag a snack before the festivities started.
As I came into the kitchen, I could hear the music coming from the back of the house and people chatting. I opened the fridge and grabbed a beer, and went to grab a cupcake off a plate before I heard mama.
"If I catch you in those cupcakes, boy, you'll get a whoopin' just like when you were a child" She looked up at me and smiled as I retracted my hand from the plate of goodies. I smiled back and opened my beer, taking a swig, "Kai honey, the boys are out back, and everyone is starting to arrive. You better head out there."
I headed out the back door, listening to the screen door clang shut as I walked across the grass towards the fire pit and picnic area.
The whole yard had been decorated for the wedding rehearsal dinner/BBQ, and I trusted only my Mama to make a get-together into a social event of the summer.
I could feel the breeze coming up from the river and smell the meat on the bbq as I made my way to the crowd of people, and I could smell those cherry blossoms, strong and intense. All of a sudden, my wolf was howling in my chest, "Mate! Find the mate!"
Shock filled me as I started to walk faster towards the tent. I was far past mating age for the pack. I had given up, and I was sure that it was never going to happen for me.
Normally, a wolf finds his mate in his early years, right after he turns 18, if not before, but she never came for me; my wolf had grown restless and wanted to move on and search for her. We had been gone for years searching, and she had been here the whole time?! I saw the guys standing to the side. Adam and Jackson were talking and looked up as they saw me coming towards the tent.
"Hey, you okay? You look like you just saw a ghost." Jackson asked with his face full of concern.
"She's here, Jackson" I started to look around at all the people that had arrived and were all sitting around at different tables. I cursed my mother mentally for turning a rehearsal dinner into such a big event, as well as wolf weddings being so big.
"What? Who's here, Kai? Who are you talking about?" he looked panicked at my frantic behavior, my eyes darting all over the tent, scanning everyone that had arrived.
"My mate." I practically growled, feeling Kronos trying to escape from my chest. He hadn't been this excited in years.
Jackson's eyes went wide as he spits his drink out of his mouth. "Fuck man, are you serious? Do you know who it is?"
"Not yet, but I will find her. I can smell her; she's in here somewhere." I headed further into the tent to start socializing and following my mate's scent.
Jackson followed me through the tent, tracing my steps as I went from group to group of people, saying hi to old friends and introducing myself to people I didn't know, all the while looking for my mate. I had almost given up when I got to a table at the back, and I caught her scent outside the tent and off towards the river.
It was summertime, and the river was low, but I could smell the water and the grass and that sweet cherry blossom scent teasing me. I walked to the edge of the lawn where it started to descend to the water and saw the most beautiful creature my eyes had ever come upon.
She was looking up at the moon in the sky, holding the sides of her cream-colored dress. It was flowy and made of lace. She could have been the mood goddess incarnate standing there in the water, with her wild red hair blowing in the wind like an enigma. I could see her pale, freckled skin under the see-through material of her dress.
I will be updating this book monthly on Wattpad and Inkitt. You can access further chapters on Patreon as it is being updated more often on that platform. The link is in my bio 🦋🤍
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シ M. Reeds