I push past my mother as I make my way to the kitchen. She is the last person I want to speak to.
“Cordelia, honey, I know it’s not something you’re into but it must be done. It’s tradition!”
My mother has been trying to reason with me for the past hour or so that this will be “good for me and my wild wolf” and the gathering isn’t “that bad”. In the end, it is always about tradition with her. She even named her kids according to tradition.
In all honesty, my mother is a good person. As the cliche goes is beautiful inside. I am almost a spitting image of my mother. We share the same eyes, freckles, and long curly hair. The obvious difference is that my skin is a caramel color while hers is pale. I get my skin color from my father and that’s about it.
No matter how much I love this woman I can’t back down to her. I turn around and pierce her dull blue eyes with my the identical ones.
“Seriously Martha save your shit speech for someone who cares.” As I’m about to tell her off some more my father walks in dressed in a suit. As I direct my rage in his direction, his warm brown eyes show confusion, “and you! How could you do this to your only daughter? How is this fair? Christian doesn’t have to go through this bullsh-”
“Cordelia Adams! Enough! We have discussed this at length and the conversation is done. I have had enough of your disrespect in my home.” My father’s short fuse is something I’ve been living with for the past 18 years and his yelling does nothing anymore.
I roll my eyes at him and begin to open my mouth to argue back but the look in his once warm eyes tells me he is only one word away from using his Alpha command on me. I huff in annoyance and storm out of the pack house into the forest. I would give anything to be able to shift at this moment but because I was born a female I cannot shift until I have found my mate.
It’s not a mystery to me what my wolf will look like. I know I will be the same sandy brown as both my parents and Christian but I still want to feel the wind in my fur as I run. I want to feel the forest floor beneath my paws.
I continue walking until I feel like I’ve put enough distance in-between me and my parents. I can’t believe they would put me through this. I’m an Alpha’s daughter for goddess’s sake! Shouldn’t there be a way out of this?
The gathering is an annual festival for unmated werewolves. Every year a different pack holds it and this year was my pack’s turn. This means that every unmated male and female wolf from around the world would meet here and join in on the “fun”.
The festival lasts for 3 days. The first day is a day to get situated. The males and females are separated from each other and placed in cabins according to rank. The idea is that by separating us it will make the next days events more thrilling.
Day two is the day which I dread the most. The hunt. It is exactly as horrible it sounds. The females are removed from their cabins early in the morning and placed in an undisclosed location. The males then have the opportunity to sniff around the cabins to see if their mate is present.
If they are not, that male is then sent home. He will either have to wait and return the following year or give up and be mateless. If they choose to be mateless they can still mark another wolf and have children, the bond just may not ever be as strong as a true mate pairings would be.
Once everything is situated the females are then moved to the forest where the hunt will take place. The males will have just 4 hours to track down and secure his mate or he must wait until next year to see her.
I shudder at the thought of literally being hunted. In some cases, males mark their mate right there without asking for consent. Just the thought of being forcibly marked makes me want to cry.
That night is a bonfire for the newly mated couples. Those who had potential mates and did not secure them at the hunt are immediately sent home.
Day three is really only for the high ranking wolves and the best warriors. A ceremony is held so everyone knows who the new leaders of the packs will be. All other wolves are sent home. After the ceremony, a dinner is held to give the leaders time to make treaties and such. After the dinner, some choose to return to their packs but those who have a further journey may stay another night and leave in the morning.
I continue thinking of a way to get out of this awful situation when I hear a twig snap. Instantly recognizing his scent I don’t move as my twin brother sits next to me. “Hey pickle, what’s eating you?”
Christian has been calling me pickle since we were little. When we were learning to talk Cordelia was too hard for him to say so he called me dilly/dills. When we got older he decided ‘dill pickle’ would be a great addition to the line of awful nicknames.
I shrug and don’t look at him as I speak, “I just don’t get it. Why can’t we just wait for our mates in the cabins? Or even I don’t know, our own packs. Why does it have to be this primitive hunt? It’s stupid.”
“Dills, it’s tradition. We’ve been doing this for centuries and it’s a way for the packs to come together.”
“I don’t care! If the Moon Goddess really wanted mates to be together, don’t you think we wouldn’t need everyone one to come to one spot? Don’t you think we should just let it happen by fate?”
I didn’t wait for his reply as I stood up and walked back home. I feel him reach for me and begin to say something but I continued moving.
He would say the same thing he always does about how the Moon Goddess left it to fate before and mates weren’t finding each other. As a result, the offspring of the random “not meant to be” pairings were weaker and more likely to become a rogue.
I know he cares for me and my parents do too, but I can’t just sit by and let my whole life be decided on some ridiculous hunt. As I make my way back home I let my mind wonder on if I’ll even find my mate. Even if he does come to the gathering, I will do everything in my power to make sure he doesn’t find me.