| Kat |
Russell Springs is a small town, situated in the middle of Michigan. The nearest lake is a good day’s drive north. I was born here and have lived here all my life. The humans I surround myself with are unaware of what my family is. The United States government would like to keep it that way. It’s not like they have done a good job of hiding us though. Stories of shifting creatures first began showing up in stories hundreds of years ago. Humans have adapted it to fantasy.
But we exist. Only we’re called Wolfskin, not werewolves.
It’s early morning in Russell Springs. Another day of school. Another day, pretending to be human.
The warning bell for class rings in my ear, signaling students to get to their homeroom. Lockers slam shut and leaning against the cool tan metal of the blue locker beside my own I observe the humans as they scurry to their classes.
“Girly you awake?” Carissa asks in a nasally fake voice. She nods towards the clock above my locker. “Bio starts in like three minutes.” She flicks her dark blonde ponytail with a jerk of the head. Her light blue eyes study my own.
“Yeah… in a minute.” I say, shaking my head in an attempt to clear my foggy morning brain.“You go ahead.”
“Kat,” She begins, a sigh escaping with my name. School’s never been a huge focus of mine. I get fantastic grades and I have good friends. The thing is, it’s too easy. A wolfskin’s brain processes a lot faster than a humans. My friends and I probably- no definitely could’ve, graduated two years ago. But my parents are sticklers for tradition.
A new body slams into the locker behind me. The idiot doesn’t even make me jump, having heard him approach from the other end of the hallway.
“Hello, Beautiful.” He purs. I resist the urge to vomit.
“Go C,” I say through the mind link. My cousin shoots me a glare before rolling her eyes at the human behind me. Then with a whoosh of her hair, she stalks off to Biology. “I’m busy Marcus,” I tell him flatly without a glance as I slam my locker door.
“Come on, Kitten.” He whines. Fake. He’s so fake. “You. Me. Dance Friday.” With a laugh, I start towards the open door of my homeroom but he stops me, choosing to wrap one of his slimy hands around my wrist. It’s a stupid move, touching me. Honestly as a human he should be uncomfortable around me. All humans usually are. But grabbing and Alpha intended…
“In your dreams.” I tell him as I struggle to mask my anger. “Now get off of me.” He doesn’t let go, not that I expected him to. He must have a death wish.
“I think you mean yes.” He says dramatically, placing his free hand over his chest. “Of course Marc. I’d love to go to the dance with you.” Glancing at the clock I breathe out a sigh loud enough to hide the forming growl in my chest.
Marcus is attractive. For a human. I’ll give him that. But his narcissistic attitude makes him hideous in comparison. “Let go of my arm.” He opens his mouth, most likely to spew more of his love crap, but I’m fed up at this point. Lifting my leg I kick him hard into the lockers. The force alone causes him to release his hold of my arm. With a loud bang, his head snaps back into the metal of the locker and I watch as he slides to the ground. “I told you not. to touch. me.” I growl out baring my teeth. My voice is certainly not human, but by the look on his face, I’ve given him a good painful concussion. He won’t think twice on it.
The clicking of heels on the tile floor makes me pause, but I know who it is before she rounds the corner. I recognize her scent, as it’s a smell every member of my pack carries with them.
My teacher is in the middle of role call when I walk in. “Do you have a hall pass Katalina.” He asks unexpectantly, eyes glued to the computer before him.
“Apologies for the intrusion,” Jeanette, the school principal says for me, before continuing her way down the hallway. I resist the urge to roll my eyes. Sighing, Mr. Welsh pushes his square black glasses back up the bridge of his nose. He still doesn’t bother looking up as I walk past him without a word and take my usual seat beside Carissa.
“Take a seat.” He clips absently. The class snickers. I come in late so often I guess he’s just given up on me.
‘What did the asshat want?’ Carissa asks through the mind link, ignoring the fact that Jeanette was the one to bring me back and that she can in fact hear every word we say. Jeanette’s been told not to interfere with us while on campus, however. Instead, she’s been tasked with monitoring what I say and do. I’m the future Luna of the pack and at seventeen my parents expect me to be able to control and direct the newer generation. Mr. Welsh calls her name.
′Dance.′ She groans, raising her hand.
‘Seriously? I wish we could go to the dance. That would be fun.’ Welsh writes a page number on the whiteboard.
‘What’s fun about it? Sweaty humans in a small claustrophobic room.’ Carissa pulls the textbook out of her backpack and absently flips to a random page.
‘Finding a dress. Getting all fancied up-’
’Can you two please stop!′ A new voice growls into the mind link. ′Respectfully I have a math test and I don’t need another voice in my head!′
′Come on Emery.’ Louis cuts in. ’You’re in fifth-grade math. It’s division. Hell, you want me to give you the answers?′ Turning in my seat, I make eye contact with him. He winks.
’Not funny Louis.’ He knows Jeanette can hear everything we’re saying. The radius is about ten miles give or take. In our wolf form, we can direct the conversation to whomever we want, but in our human form it’s projected, at least for our age it is. When we’re older, it’ll become easier to communicate individually through the mind link.
′I’m in Spanish class and No Puedo Escuchar al maestro!”′ Damen snaps adding to the building conversation. My head feels about ready to explode. That’s one downside to a mind link. With so many people connected, if everyone starts talking over one another, a migraine is no doubt going to find it’s way in.
′If you need to go poo, just go Damen. Don’t share it with the rest of us.′ Carissa sighs. Louis starts cough/snorting behind us, which causes the class to turn and look at him.
“Something funny about evolution, Mr. Collins?” Welsh says. Louis sniffs, acknowledging that half the class is staring at him and he straightens, calming himself.
“It’s against my religion.” He says blandly.
“Right,” Welsh says after a long awkward pause. “Carissa, we’re on page 401.”
“Whoops I thought you said 104.” Welsh narrows his eyes.
“I don’t believe Photosynthesis has anything to do with monkeys. Page 401 please.”
‘Car, he said he can’t hear the teacher. That has NOTHING to do with poo-ing.’ Louis says.
′Math test!′ Emery whines. I sigh.
′Everyone stop. Now.′ I order. The mind link goes quiet abruptly, causing white noise. Thankfully though, it only lasts a second, and the link stays quiet for the rest of class.
It’s going to storm. I can feel it. There’s this smell associated with rain and an uncomfortable feeling of static on the skin. As Carissa, Louis and I are leaving school thunder booms, and even though I expect it I come to a hault. They continue ahead a few feet before turning to look at me. My wolf turns within herself, and I can’t help but let out a whimper. For an Alpha wolf, a personality that should be fearless, she’s absolutely terrified of thunderstorms. She has me backing into a corner of myself.
“I’ll drive,” Carissa says coming back to take the keys out of my hand. She doesn’t give me a look of pity. In fact, choosing to keep her eyes lowered in submission. Does my wolf really have to do that here? Now?
Human students mill around, ignoring the dark clouds quickly making their way over the top of the high school. Instead, they’re laughing, joking and throwing stuff at one another. Miranda Stewart, a girl I’m partnered with in Calculus, stands by the football field talking with her boyfriend about going to The Dairy Shack, a popular ice-cream store in town. It’s not that Miranda’s a loud person. In fact, she has a very quiet and timid personality. Being a Wolfskin has its perks.
I slip into the passenger seat of my Kia Sol, throwing my backpack at my feet. Louis gets in behind me. “Did Mr. Cooper give your class Hamlet to read?” He asks me as he rummages in his bag for what I assume to be his phone.
“No. Macbeth.” As I answer, a raindrop splatters on the windshield. “He said he didn’t want to have to check all of his classes for swapping papers.” Louis snorts.
“Like Marcus.” Rolling my eyes, I turn in my seat to look at him, ready to tell him exactly what transpired this morning. But Carissa cuts me off.
“Yeah, well he’s an idiot,” Louis laughs softly from his seat. I sit further in the leather of my seat, choosing not to mention it to Louis. He’s going to be my Beta some day. He’s extremely protective. There is no doubt in my mind that if I’m to tell him, he’ll make Carissa drive us back to school.
Carissa turns down a dirt gravel road that grumbles as we head down it, passing a few of the large homes some of the pack members choose to live in. As I watch the tree line, I spot a gray wolf following a ways back, securing the perimeter. After a few hundred yards he veers off presumably heading back towards the main property line.
We drive through large heavy metal gates and the Pack House comes into view. My house. Carissa slows to a stop under the wooden balcony.
Louis steps out of the car, pulling his bag with him. Carissa and I sit there silently for a moment. I don’t remember grabbing the armrest, but my nails are dug in and my arm refuses to move.
“You alright girly?” She asks turning to look at me. It’s pouring outside and the sound of continuous thunder has me frozen. again.
“Are you guys coming?” Louis knocks on my window. Carissa clicks the button on my seatbelt then her own before exiting. With fumbling hands, I pull it off and grab my bag. Tossing me the keys over the hood of the car, she heads up the stone steps without another word. I won’t see her again until tomorrow. But she doesn’t know that. Louis lets me pass, and follows closely behind him, as he usually does.
“I’ll see you at dinner.” He says, leaving to go to his own slightly smaller home beside my own. Our families have dinner together once a week. My mom and I cook a meal, and the guys discuss politics within the pack. It’s extremely boring and almost always ends with us shifting together.
Today’s different. “Wait, what?” I ask. Louis stops and turns back to me.
“My mom texted me. You didn’t know?” We’ve already had dinner this week. Monday afternoon. I remember because my dad discussed visiting a pack in another city. Louis raises his arms and shrugs as he backs away. I guess we’ll figure out what this is about at dinner.
“There’s another Pack moving into town.” My father says approximately ten minutes into dinner. My hand pauses, fork raised with a piece of steak on it, aimed for my mouth.
“What?” I clip a little too loudly, and in unison with my mother and Louis. Packs don’t get along with other packs. There’s a summit once a year, and every few months our parents go meet with a few of the Alphas in neighboring territories. But two packs in the same city is dangerous. I immediately shoot a glance at my mother. She’s just as surprised as I am. She wears a pastel blue spring blazer, covering most of the tattoos that encompass most her right arm. We both have platinum blonde hair. Hereditary, not dyed, though her’s is styled in a pixie cut.
“And you’re allowing this?” She asks with a bite, her blue eyes snapping to my dad just as mine has hers. Dad looks at all of us before speaking again. He appears unwavering.
“There’s only eight of them. I’m not too worried.” I shake my head.
“They’re also all male.” Malcolm Collins adds in. “They don’t plan on expanding.”
“How do you have a pack that’s all male?”
“We don’t know their story and truthfully it’s none of our business.” My father says. Something must’ve happened for the pack to lose all of their females. Both Louis and I are curious people. We’ll figure it out somehow. “Their one child will be attending school with you two.” Louis sets his jaw and I can tell he’s trying not to growl. Another male, especially our age, is a threat. To me or Carissa. “I need you two to keep a respectable distance.” I set my fork down, pushing my plate away from me like a child. The food just doesn’t look appetizing any more.
“They’ve owned a property for about two hundred years here.” Father tells me later that evening as my mom and I are cleaning plates. I glance at him.
So where have they been?” My father picks up a towel to help dry.
“My guess is somewhere North. I didn’t ask. It’s none of my business.”
“Aren’t you worried about our females?” He nods.
If there are any problems I’ll take care of it. Remember we have fifty to their eight.” My mother pauses her washing and hands the rag to me.
“That sounds like a threat Reginald.” She says. He shakes his head.
“I’m just pointing out that there’s little chance of a problem.” He kisses her cheek. She leans slightly to his touch. Mates. It’s hard not to notice the way my parents move around each other, always finding a way to touch the other. Whether that be a brush of a hand as they pass outdoors or a kiss in greeting. It’s a sense of comfort.
I look forward to finding my mate some day. He’ll be smart and brave. He’ll be a wonderful Alpha. Well respected. loved. Unfortunately, there’s a chance I’ll never find my other half, as there are so many Wolfskin around the world. But Alphas tend to get lucky, I hold my breath.
Exiting my thought bubble I take notice of my mom’s giggling as dad nuzzles her nose with his own. I clear my throat rather loudly.
“So,” I cut in. “When do they get here?” My parents’ pause, dad breaking eye contact with his mate to look down at me. His answer has me absolutely livid.