A/N: Book contains violence, abuse, language, trigger warnings, self-harm, strong sexual content and material that may be distressing to some audiences. Themes of male dominance, and characters who are half-beast and react to situations unlike a human would in certain circumstances (violence, sex, etc.).
Companion Book to Blood Moon.
“Hey Emma... do you think you can take my shift on Friday?” Amy asked. Emma glanced over as she pulled her red hair up into a bun at the mirror.
“Sure... I guess.” Emma replied as she tightened the band in her hair.
“Thanks! I have a date.” Amy squealed happily. Her high-pitch tone grated on Emma’s sensitive hearing. She withheld a wince.
“I’ll clear it with Karen,” Amy said and practically pranced out of the employee locker room. Emma sighed and watched her go. Amy was only nineteen, and still a bit juvenile... and although Emma was only a two years older at twenty-one, she felt so much older sometimes. She just didn’t get along with people her own age.
But then again, she didn’t quite get along with people in general.
Emma glanced back to herself in the mirror and studied her face. She wore no make-up, she never liked the stuff, and although she was far from vain about it, she knew she was pretty even without it. Actually, pretty was probably an understatement. The extra tips she got with no effort and the amount of male attention she received, she hated it all.
If she had the choice, she’d prefer to be invisible; someone no one noticed.
She pulled on her apron and tied it neatly at her back. As she adjusted it carefully on her hips the door opened as another one of her co-workers came rushing in.
His scent hit her hard,
It was unmistakable. Her new personal stalker. Emma emitted a groan of frustration. He would be sitting in her station no doubt, as he always did and she was in no mood to deal with him today. With far more reluctance than she normally had going to work, she pushed through the doors into the large Hinton Café in downtown Boise Idaho.
Sunrise was slanting through the east facing windows, and the café was still relatively empty. Only the early-morning risers occupied the few booths and tables that were filled.
Emma glanced over her station, and at the far corner booth nearest to back exit, sat a very tall dark-haired male in his early twenties. He was facing away from her with an arm causally draped along the back of the booth. Emma grit her teeth with frustration and immediately headed in his direction.
“When will you just leave me alone?” Emma spat in a harsh whisper the moment she reached the booth. She had to fiercely ignore how appealing his scent was. His sharp blue eyes glanced up to her face, and he flashed her a wolfish grin. Emma grit her teeth.
“Hello to you too beautiful. I think I’ll go witttthhhhh...” He began as he glanced over the menu he held in one hand. Emma took an irritated breath, and couldn’t help but glance over his form. He was broad at the shoulders, and though he wore a thin coat for the chilly weather, she could still see the outline of his muscles beneath the fabric. It made her insides flutter unpleasantly.
“The blueberry pie and maybe a side of eggs? That seems breakfasty.” He said with a grin. Emma carefully contained her irritation. She had to force herself to be calm... always.
“You need to leave, now,” Emma demanded calmly. His smirk just widened.
“I’m sure your boss wouldn’t appreciate you turning away business. I was just in the area... and I’m getting quite fond of the pie here.” He said.
“Your pack territory is an eight-hour drive from here. I kind of doubt you were just ‘in the area.’ And the pie here is awful.” Emma said firmly. He chuckled.
“Well then... you should feel even more honored that I drove allllll the way over here for you to serve me some shitty pie.” He said with another grin. Emma made a slight fist.
“I don’t. So maybe you should find someone else to bother.” Emma retorted.
“Naw... I think I’ll stick with you... and your pie.” He added with another wolfish grin. Emma pursed her lips into a thin line and gave him a hard look. He adjusted himself in the booth and made himself more comfortable. It was obvious he had no intention of leaving.
Emma glanced to the hostess stand where Karen, her boss, was standing talking to some customers. She needed this job, she just barely started working there. She couldn’t cause a scene.
“Fine... but you will not stay here for five hours again,” Emma said firmly and turned to put his order in.
“Sure I can! I’ll need to eat lunch, and maybe an early dinner too.” He shouted after her.
Emma purposely took her time returning to him, even after his order came up. She made sure his food was cold, even going as far as schooching it away from the warmers. If he was going to continue to harass her, she wasn’t going to make it enjoyable for him either.
“There you go, enjoy,” Emma said with her best-faked smile as she dropped the plate down in front of him. She turned to leave, but he gently caught her wrist. Emma froze. She felt her heart flutter by the contact.
“Red wolves are a rarity these days you know... Think of all the ginger pups we could have if you just come back with me and be my mate.” He said with a grin, but there was the underlying seriousness in his tone that stirred something inside her. Emma didn’t look at him. She forced her breathing even.
“If I recall correctly, your Alpha wanted me gone,” Emma said as she tried to gently pull her hand from his grip. He tightened it enough to keep her from slipping away, but not enough to hurt.
“Only after he offered for you to join us... which as I recall, you refused.” He replied, his tone grew in seriousness. Emma swallowed a bit, and kept her eyes averted. She was desperately trying to sooth the welling emotion inside her. She refused to acknowledge any feeling that was not strictly her own. He gave her a gentle tug, and she glanced back at him.
“You can’t keep suppressing your wolf... it can be very bad for you if you do.” He said with sudden sincerity. Emma pulled in a deep breath as he brought his other hand up to gently brush his fingers over her cheek as he studied her eyes for a moment.
“I think you need to go to the bathroom.” He said and quickly released her.
“Now...” He added and turned back to his plate. Emma swallowed and quickly made for the back. She averted her eyes from anyone who came near her. Emma burst through the door into the employee bathroom and took several heavy breaths.
She looked in the mirror and could see the yellowish wolf glaze of her eyes. DAMN HIM for stirring this up! The bathroom lights flickered, and Emma glanced up at them in horror. She quickly took a deep breath...
Calm... be calm.
Emma quickly moved for the sink and splashed some water on her face. She concentrated on composing herself. She leaned forward and put her head in her hands as she closed her eyes and thought of calming things until she felt the stirring inside her fade.
Emma glanced up and took several more deep breaths. Her mismatched eyes, one blue and one green, were back to normal. The wolf glaze was gone.
“Emma... You have tables waiting.” Karen said sternly from the doorway. Emma glanced over at her boss.
“Are you sick?” Karen asked.
“No... sorry,” Emma said. She pushed away from the sink and moved passed her back through the kitchen into the main dining room. She glanced over toward the corner booth and was relieved to see him gone.
“Why can’t you just give the poor guy a chance? I mean.. seriously. If he paid even an ounce of attention to me, I’d be all over that.” Myra said as she applied her lip liner at the mirror. Emma stood leaning against the bathroom wall with a frown.
Four damn months he’d been regularly visiting her, once or twice a week. Sometimes more.
“He’s stalking me,” Emma said irritably. Myra laughed.
“I’d take a stalker like him any day,” Myra said. Emma glanced away from her. She hated how everyone in the diner found it amusing, even ‘cute’ or ‘sweet.’
Not that Emma really felt threatened by him in any way, but as far as all the humans knew, they were both human, and just because he happened to be rather good looking made it okay for him to stalk her? She was quite certain there had been attractive serial killers in the past...
“Seriously... just take him home for a night. You could use a trip to pound town since God knows you need it. No offense, but you’re a real uptight bitch.” Myra said.
Emma emitted an irritated breath. It was no secret none of her co-workers liked her. Emma just wasn’t very receptive to social interactions.
“Please... just take that table,” Emma begged. Myra sighed.
“Your shift ends in like... ten minutes. What’s the big deal? Just take his order, and I’ll take over after.” Myra added as she glanced to the clock.
“Besides, you know I can’t clock in early. Karen will lose her shit.” Myra concluded. Emma ground her teeth a bit, before she pushed off the wall and headed out into the dining room. She paused briefly at the swinging kitchen door and glanced with disdain toward the far corner of the restaurant.
There he was, sitting at his usual table, but this time he was facing her. He grinned the moment he saw her. Emma frowned and glanced to the clock. It was 3:20 in the afternoon. She’d be off soon, and she had a feeling he purposefully came at the end of her shift.
With carefully controlled irritation, she headed over to his table.
“What would you like?” She asked as she pulled out her pad of paper in an effort to be completely business-like.
“You mean... besides you?” He said with a grin. Emma glanced up at him with an irritated look.
“If you’re not going to order anything, you can’t sit-” Emma began. He grinned a bit, and she immediately didn’t like the amused look on his face.
“Well... seeing as how you’ll be off soon, and I rather liked the idea your fellow waitress had about me taking you to... what did she call it? Poundtown?” He said with an even larger grin. Emma felt her cheeks burn. God damn his sensitive hearing.
“I’ll just finish up my drink and head on outside to stalk you- I mean, wait for you.” He said. Emma flashed him a furious look.
“Will you stop joking about that?” Emma said with a harsh whisper as she glanced to the nearest table that wasn’t too far away.
“About what?” He asked. Emma frowned.
“About sleeping with me,” Emma said. She made her annoyance clear in her tone. To mate with her, meant to bond with her, and a bond like that couldn’t be undone. He chuckled.
“What makes you think I’m joking?” He asked.
“Aren’t you a little young to take a mate?” Emma asked. He had to be in his early twenties, and as far as she knew, most packs didn’t allow their males to mate until they were mid-twenties to early-thirties.
“Aren’t you a little old not to have one?” He countered. Emma felt the abrupt tightness in her chest from his words.
“You... you don’t know anything about me! Please just leave me alone.” Emma said.
She suddenly felt like it was hard to breathe. She turned to move away from him, but he gently caught her arm. Emma grit her teeth and tried to yank away from him.
She hated being touched by anyone.
“Don’t go... I’m sorry... It never crossed my mind you may have had one before. That was insensitive of me.” He said. His tone genuinely apologetic. Emma took a deep breath.
“I’m completely serious when I say I want you as my mate... since the first time I saw you, I wanted you.” He said. Emma said nothing. She was struggling to maintain her emotions.
“If you’re afraid you won’t be accepted... I can assure you, my pack... we’re different than the others. We accept everyone... the fact that your half-human doesn’t even matter. Our Alpha allows us to chose when we mate, and to whom. You can think of us as the hippies of the werewolf world.” He said with a slightly joking tone.
He was obviously trying to lighten the mood. Emma grit her teeth harder, and avoided looking at him.
“Emma... please look at m-” He started. Something about him saying that name stirred a wave of deep-seated anger inside her.
“Can’t you see I want nothing to do with you or any of your kind?! LEAVE ME ALONE!” Emma screamed. For the briefest of moments, she lost control. The light directly above them burst into a shower of sparks, and somewhere behind her, she heard the sound of glass shattering. He released her, startled. Emma panicked and pushed away from him.
She turned and ran. She burst through the front doors and didn’t stop.
She never looked back.