| Kat |
I should've warned Cameron that my mom's a hugger. He's stunned by the contact, and in fact, he flinches at the contact. She doesn't seem to notice. Mom only sees what she wants to.
"How do you like Russell Springs?" She asks, setting a can of black beans in the pantry. He shrugs.
"It's nice." He answers shoving his hands in his pockets. "Though I haven't really seen much of it?" Mom humphs.
"Really? Well, Kat's going to have to change that." Wow, wait. What? Dad said minimal contact. Him here was not minimal. Taking him out after school was not minimal. I don't argue with Mom though, only because she doesn't like to be contradicted.
I need to get out of this.
"Let's sit outside and finish the project," I say. His brows furrow as he looks at me. We've already finished the project. He knows it, I know it. But I grab my laptop from the couch and pull Cameron with me out the door before he can blow our cover.
"She can talk for hours," I tell him before taking a seat in one of our patio chairs. The elementary pups are playing on the other side of the field, chasing one another in their wolf forms. Scanning the woods, I spot one of the moms lounging by the tree line, one paw over the other as she pretends not to be watching them. This is a normal Sunday.
Cameron's eyes are wide though as he takes in the site of my family.
"She seems nice." He says absently. I wave him off.
"What's Montana like?" Cameron blinks before turning back to me. He frowns.
"I don't remember." He says quietly. "We left when I was five."
"Why?" There's a sadness there, deep and long since buried. He fidgets in his seat. Something terrible must've happened. He hesitates as he struggles to find the right words. I'm ready to apologize when he starts to speak. But Mom being who she is, steps out on the patio carrying a pitcher of lemonade, a huge smile plastered on her face. Evesdropper.
"I thought you kids might be thirsty." She says setting the pitcher on the table with cups.
"Thanks, Mom," I tell her blandly. Go Away.
'I like him.' She tells me through the mind-link. I don't respond. Responding means the entire pack will hear it. Until I turn eighteen, in my human form my mindlinks open to the pack.
"I'll be in my garden." Nosey Nosey Nosey. I watch her retreating back.
| Cameron |
Kat glares at her mother's back. Kat turns back to me and starts pouring some of the lemonade. "I wouldn't put it past her to make this fresh." She says, sniffing her own cup. "She loves to cook."
Shiela saved me. I was ready to tell Kat about the drama that is my life. I feel like I can tell her anything. But the death of my family's an uncomfortable topic for him. I have nightmares every night and living with them isn't easy. Thankfully Kat doesn't ask again.
Eyes have been on me since I stepped outside. I'm in another's territory. The scent puts me on edge. Outsiders probably aren't common here. But seeing this place, how happy everyone is, amazes me. It's beautiful. There are probably hundreds of years of history here. In this house. In the Trees. Kat probably knows every inch of this forest.
What?" I ask, noticing Kat watching me with a small smile. My own smile begins forming before I know it. She shakes her head.
"Nothing." She says. "Just... watching." What's she watching? Me? Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a young boy, about eight years old, resembling a younger Louis running up to us.
"Hey Damien," Kat says with a slight grin. He presses his hands down on the table.
"I heard you beat up my brother!" He exclaims, loud enough for the gray wolf by the pups to turn her head. Damien bounces on his toes. There's a big smile on his face. He's happy, excited. His green eyes are wide.
"How's Louis doing?" Kat asks casually.
"He stopped limping about an hour ago but that mark on his neck's still there. What'd he do?"
"Why don't you ask him?" She answers.
"He told me to buzz off. And used a lot of words mother says we shouldn't."
My eyes continue to wander over the large field, and quite quickly I spot a small black wolf slowly making it's way along the treeline. Her eyes are on the boy. Ears tucked back, she's planning something. Kat's noticed her too, but Damien's too busy talking. Like a rocket, the pup lunges, knocking Damien over. He shifts mid-fall with a yelp and turns into a gray wolf the same size as the female. The pups bound into the woods, leaving ripped clothing in their wake.
"That's Jamie." She says. We sit outside for a while, enjoying the sun. I've never had this much time to relax. It's unnerving actually. After a while kat excuses herself, saying she'd like to go change clothes. I'm not going to stop her. But as soon as the door shuts, Shira's out of her garden and sliding her thin frame into Kat's unoccupied seat.
"Kat likes you." She says, low enough that other wolves won't hear. I sit back in my chair. "She doesn't like a lot of people." She pours more lemonade into Kat's empty cup and takes a sip. "My husband thought it best to tell the kids to keep away from you. But it's hard to do that in a school."
A growl sounds on the other side of the field. We both turn as two of the smaller wolves pounce on the unsuspecting mother. "I met Reginald, my husband whom you were rudely introduced to, when I was seventeen. Sweet guy, a great leader... and that smell." She closes her eyes and inhales through her nose. "You know by their smell." What on Earth is she going on about?
"Sorry Ms-" She puts her hand up.
"Shira." She says quickly.
'Shira," I repeat. "what are you talking about?" She smiles. Again with the cryptic smile.
"Mates." She answers. "Obviously." I just stare at her. She loses her smile. "You do know what a mate is, right Cameron?" Of course, I do. Mates are an important part of Wolfskin culture. Your one true soul mate.
"I, yes," I answer her slowly. Shira uncrosses her legs and leans forward, resting her arms on the table. She's got that weird smile again. "What about them?" It hits me like a boulder. I'm all about getting the hell out of my pack. Getting away from Eric. But what she's getting at... what kat's mother is getting at...
"You're saying," I speak quietly. "That Kat's my Mate?" Shira only smiles at me. So. Much. Smiling. "She's an Alpha."
"And so are you." I open my mouth to deny it. "Don't lie. I can smell it." I swallow. "You act like an Omega... But you aren't." I shove my hands in my pockets, only to hide that they're curled into fists. "I don't know what happened to your pack. I don't know what you've gone through, but what I can say after watching you and listening to you, is your lack of food, probably whatever chores you're forced to do, the isolation, its to keep the rest of your pack from recognizing you as their Alpha. Especially since you're almost of age. I know what that's like."
Eric has been getting stricter the last two years. I've never even thought about it... This Luna... She hasn't met me until today. We've never seen each other or talked to one another. But she knows me. Knows part of my story. My messed up life. It makes me wonder about her life. Her secret past. I have noticed she's a foreign wolf. Her hair color, eyes, she's nothing like the other wolves here. Except for her daughter.
She looks up at a window on the second floor. What I guess is Kat's room. "She's struggled for a long time," Shira says after letting her first words sink in. "Her wolf... I don't know what's wrong but they aren't synced. She takes her over at night... I think maybe you could help with that. Louis has been giving me updates on her condition. But it needs to be fixed before anyone in the pack finds out."
Kat steps out of the house in a white shirt, jeans, and a leather jacket. She frowns when she sees me with her mother and walks quickly over to us. "I was telling your mother how beautiful her garden is." I say smoothly. The Luna smiles as she stands. Kat eyes her skeptically.
"Yeah, she works hard on it." My phone rings in my back pocket. It's Eric. I suppress a groan. I've been gone a while. It's impressive he's left me alone this long.