It took me five hours to drive to Split Rock Point Lighthouse State Park, north of Duluth along the western shore of Lake Superior. Parking in the back of the crowded lot, I opened my backpack and placed the plastic bag containing my mother’s ashes inside with a bottle of water and a Milky Way bar before zipping it up.
The weather was nice, if you were a few miles inland. The wind was off the lake, and it was cold, in the fifties, but at least the sun was shining. I pulled a windbreaker out, putting it over my sweater, and made sure my jeans had my wallet and keys. I joined the other tourists, heading up the hill towards the cliff trail. It went half a mile, switching back on the way down to the lakeshore below the old lighthouse. The spot I was headed for was near the top, looking down seventy feet or so to the rock below, as the trail switched back the other way.
I found the spot and sat on the bench, there were too many people around and the wind was blowing in my face. I took out the candy bar, eating it quietly and smiling at the tourists as they walked back up from the bottom of the trail. I had to wait almost an hour, and it was starting to get dark when I was finally alone, and the wind had died down.
I took one last look, then removed the bag of ashes from my backpack. I went to the railing where it was close to the edge of the cliff, and removed the twist tie. “Goodbye, Mom. I miss you so. I love you.” I poured the ashes over the edge, the cloud of grey and white swirling in the light breeze as it floated down the cliff face. When it was all gone, I crumpled the bag up and stuffed it in my jacket pocket while the tears ran down my face.
I don’t know how long I stood there, but the voice startled me. “Ma’am? You all right?”
I turned to see a Park Ranger looking at me. “I’m all right,” I said. I didn’t look it, my face was tear stained, my nose was running, and I must have looked a moment from a complete breakdown.
“The park is closing, Ma’am. You need to return to your car.” I nodded and moved away from the fence. My car was alone in the lot when I returned, and I made good time returning home. I didn’t get there until three in the morning, but I was used to being up late with my job. I took a quick shower, fell into bed and was soon in a restless sleep.
I raised my head up, I was on a hillside, surrounded by tall grass. I looked off in the distance, I could see the ocean, smell its salt. It wasn’t scary, it was comforting. I smelled him before I saw him, he smelled masculine. I closed my eyes and breathed in his scent, it washed over my mind and relaxed me. I tried to focus on the scent, turning my head towards the wind, and listening for his approach.
I could hear footfalls, not of boots, they were much softer than that. I could hear them hitting the ground, a low rumble that slowed as it approached. I felt something wet touch my face, I opened my eyes, and a huge wolf was standing in front of me, and I wasn’t scared at all…
I opened my eyes, the afternoon sun peeking through the gap between the window and the blind to catch me just right. I grabbed my phone, seeing it was almost three in the afternoon. I set it down and groaned; yesterday was a long day, and I had work tonight from four to closing. Eight hours of running around, dealing with horny college kids and lonely businessmen, among others.
I quickly got dressed and put my makeup on. I was one of the few Hooters Girls who was allowed to wear a crop top, which gave me an edge over all the other girls in the place. I had a regular shirt in my locker, as to wear it I had to have a flat stomach and no muffin top over the short shorts we wore. The other girls hated that I looked like this without extreme diets or constant exercise; I was naturally athletic and thin. I pulled a pair of long khaki shorts and an Aussie Pink Floyd T-shirt over my uniform, since it was against the rules to wear the uniform outside work. I grabbed my phone and purse and ran out to the car, knowing I had a short time before the traffic would double the length of my drive to the Mall.
Beta John’s POV
As we loaded back onto the buses just before nine at night, I was glad it was all over. The host Pack had done a good job; the run was fun, especially since the area was full of whitetail deer and three were taken by our group. It was meant to be social, and it was to the extent possible; Alpha Esca wouldn’t leave the side of his mate Eleanor, and that meant Jack and Sara were with me right behind them. It was the younger groups that mixed more; Alpha Heir Sean and some of the other unmated had spent time during the run and at the post-run meal getting to know others who might someday be in power.
I looked across the aisle at my Alpha, he looked exhausted. The meetings, the jet lag and the run had all taken his energy from him, and Luna was already sleeping on his shoulder before the bus started moving. “It looks like a quiet night when we get back to the hotel, they look like they need a good night’s sleep,” I sent to the other Pack members. All of us were gathered in the middle seats of the bus.
“I’m glad, I’m pretty tired myself,” Sara added.
“Actually, I was talking to some of the other younger unmated, we are going out tonight. Patrick told us he’d show us some of the hot clubs, maybe find some human companionship for the night,” Sean said. The single wolves at the gathering were fun to talk to, but that was all you’d get from them. Promiscuity among the ranked just didn’t happen, so much was expected from them. Humans were fair game for the males, though, as long as you used protection.
“Not without protection you aren’t,” Alpha Esca said. “Take John with you, he needs to blow off some steam.” I glared at him, I had no interest in cavorting with human females. ”Don’t look at me like that, go have a few beers and relax, it’s an order.”
“Yes Alpha.” So much for getting a full night’s sleep. Sean was only eighteen, but already had a reputation as a guy who liked to party. By the time we arrived at the hotel, we had a courtesy van waiting for us and a dozen young males were piling in to it.
Patrick was the future Beta of the St. Croix Pack, who lived on the outer edges of the Twin Cities metro area. He just turned 21 a few weeks ago, and was telling us about “all the hot women” that came to the Mall of America at night. “We need to get some food first, I’m starving again,” he said.
“We just ate three hours ago,” Sean said.
“Can’t stop the hankering for beer and wings,” he said. He felt it was his responsibility to educate some of us ‘Euro Wolves’ on the finer points of American cuisine. We took the elevator to the fourth floor of the mall where the bigger clubs were. I looked out over the huge mall, the amusement park with rollercoasters and all in the center.
“This place is huge,” Sean said.
“Second biggest mall in the world,” he said with a smile. “And lots of Norwegians settled here, so there’s no shortage of hot blondes.” He was checking out the scenery as we walked from the elevator to a place called Hooters. “You guys will love this place, the chicks here are smokin’ hot. I go here for the food, though,” he said with a wink. He walked up to the hostess, she was wearing these tight orange shorts and a even tighter shirt with a push-up bra underneath. Her tits were practically spilling out. “Hi Cheri, we need a table for twelve please.” “Welcome back Patrick!” She came forward and gave him a hug, pressing her tits against his stomach. She was only about five-foot five, so she barely came up to his shoulder. “You brought friends!”
“They’re visiting from out of town,” he said.
She looked down at her map. “It’s busy tonight, give me a few minutes and we’ll get some tables moved together for you.” She flashed him a smile as she moved off, everyone’s eyes on her ass as she turned.
“You weren’t kidding about the women,” Sean said as he looked around. There was no shortage of eye candy.
Suddenly, my wolf was forward in my mind. “MATE! MATE IS HERE!” I looked around, the place was packed, I had no idea who she was. “Sean, my mate is here somewhere.”
He, James and Connor all looked at me, they were the only ones I could link. Connor broke out into a huge grin, while James and Sean were more serious. Sean grabbed my arm. “There are cameras and humans everywhere, you need to control your wolf and that’s an order,” he said. My wolf receded, the Alpha command was there; as Alpha Heir he held the same influence unless his orders conflicted with ones from the Alpha or Luna. “I’m contacting my father, just play it cool. We’ll find your shewolf and get the two of you out of here and back to the hotel.”
James came alongside me, I was starting to shake a little. Her scent stood out among the hundreds in the room, it was delicate and wonderful and had me utterly in love with it. My wolf wanted to coat his fur with it, while placing his own scent on her. No one would touch her, she would be MINE to protect and love for the rest of our lives.
I kept scanning the room, but nothing stood out.
“You going to be all right,” Patrick asked. Connor had told him quietly what was going on, and since it was his territory, he was responsible for our group.
“I have to be, I need to find her,” I told him. Just then, Cheri came back with a big smile and led us towards the back of the restaurant to a big table. Patrick sat me next to him, almost pushing me into the chair as I was looking around at every woman in sight.
No sooner had we sat than the most beautiful woman I had ever seen came to our table, order pad in hand. My jaw dropped as I looked at my mate; she was tall and muscled, long tan legs and narrow hips. Her stomach was flat, the hint of a six-pack beneath the crop top she wore. Her breasts were perfection, not huge like some of the girls here, but more athletic; firm, high and a perfect handful. Her face was that of an angel, and her long, dark hair was gently curled and fell to the middle of her back.
“Welcome to Hooter’s, my name is Jess and I’ll be your server tonight. Can I start you out with some wings and beer?”
“You’re reading my mind, Jess. These guys are visiting from Europe and I promised them the full Hooter’s experience.”
“That’s wonderful, where are you all from?” She went around the table as the guys introduced themselves and where they were from.
I was the last to speak. “I’m John Pearson, from Scotland, and I am home when I look in your eyes.”
She rolled her eyes as she laughed. “That’s one of the best lines I’ve heard, John, and I’ve heard them all. Beer?”
Patrick took over, ordering four pitchers and cokes for the three underage guys at the table. “We need wings, a lot of them. Let’s start with eight dozen, make them a variety of spiciness and flavors so they can figure out what they like.”
“All one check?”
“Please. We’ll look at the menus before you get back, we’ll need burgers too.”
“No problem, I’ll put that in right away. Are you guys celebrating something or just out for the night?”
Sean smiled at her. “We are celebrating one of our guys, he met his future wife tonight.”
“Wonderful. I’ll be right back.” She turned and hooked the order slip to this zipline, flinging it along until it ended up in the kitchen. I stared at her until she disappeared around the bar.
“That’s her,” I told them. “She’s my mate. You fuckers keep your eyes off her body before I rip them out.” My wolf was prowling in my mind, he didn’t like her being around so many unmated males.
“She’s human, John. It’s impossible.” Sean looked at me like I was crazy.
“It’s her, my wolf and I are sure of it. As soon as I looked in her eyes I knew.”
Patrick looked at me, thinking about it. “You can’t have a mate without another wolf to bond to, John. She isn’t one of us, whatever you are feeling, it can’t be. She smells good, she looks better, but she’s a HUMAN, not you mate.”
My wolf pushed forward, my eyes starting to glow before Sean elbowed me and I pushed him back. “My wolf is the one who told me she was my mate, you idiots. SHE… IS… MINE!” We glared at each other for a minute before his wolf forced mine into submission, I was a Beta and he was higher ranked.
“All right, I believe you,” Sean said. “I’m getting my father here. You need to stay under control, and remember, she is not like us. If she was a werewolf, you’d already be heading back to your hotel room. She’s human, so you need to treat it like dating a human.”
“I’ve never dated,” I said. “I’ve never wanted anyone except my mate, no one until her. She’s perfect…” My eyes were getting vacant as my wolf and I remembered seeing her for the first time.
“And she’s a human woman, working in a place where she probably gets asked out dozens of times a night. You need to make a good impression on her, give her a reason to want to see you again. It’s going to take a while, you can’t just knock her out and carry her back to your den,” Patrick said with a laugh. “I’ve contacted my father as well, he has to know. He said he’ll have people search the histories, see if this has ever happened before. We’ll figure it out.”
“Thank you.” I had my eyes up, waiting for her to return. I saw her at the bar, taking two pitchers of beer in each hand. A second girl was ahead of her, carrying a bunch of glasses and the three Cokes on a tray. The blonde leaned over the table as she set the glasses down, giving all the guys an eyeful of her deep cleavage, but my eyes were only on Jess.
She made it halfway to our table when she was stopped by a table, they looked like college guys in their Wisconsin jerseys. I started to see red as the guy she was talking to, a big guy with broad shoulders and a sleeveless shirt, put his arm around her waist as he talked. She tried to move away from him, but his hand dropped down and pinched her butt. She squealed and the pitcher spilled, dousing his khaki shorts with cold beer. “YOU BITCH!” He looked up at her, and her eyes showed fear as he stood up and towered over her. “FUCKING CUNT, LOOK WHAT YOU DID.”
I was out of my chair as soon as he stood, moving towards them with deadly purpose as Sean tried in vain to pull me back. She dumped two pitchers at him as she tried to get out of his grip, but he was too angry and drunk to realize he was about to get his ass kicked. I pulled her behind me, hearing her scream of pain as I heard her shoulder pop out. I held her wrist with my left hand while my right fist flew towards his jaw. I felt the bones shatter as he dropped, and his friends jumped up to defend him. My wolf was forward, he wanted blood, and I ignored their punches and grabs as I beat this asshole into the floor with my fists.
“STOP! PLEASE!” Her voice cut through the noise and commotion, and I stopped and looked at her. She was crying, holding her shoulder as she lay under one of the tables, and Patrick and Sean were standing around her keeping others away. I sat back, the other men had pulled the asshole’s buddies from me. I looked down at him, his face looked like raw meat and he was unconscious.
“I’m sorry,” I told her as I looked at her. “I couldn’t let him do that to you.”
“I can handle things just fine without you,” she snarled back. “Look at what you did!” She was holding her left arm tight to her side, and I knew I had pulled it out of the socket because I couldn’t hold back my anger. I had hurt my mate, I was the lowest of the low.
I didn’t have a chance to say more, as police rushed into the restaurant and pushed me face down. I followed their directions, placing my hands behind my back so they could be cuffed. As I was being hoisted to my feet, I saw her one last time. Sean had helped her into a chair and one of the policemen was checking her over, she was still crying.
I had really fucked up this time.