When I was younger, my mother used to read me and Amber bedtime stories. She’d read us the fairy tales, the ones I knew weren’t real so they couldn’t hurt me. However, Amber used to have nightmares from Little Red Riding Hood. She was afraid the big bad wolf would eat her when she was asleep. To help her, my mother would always say the fairy tales were never real unless you let them be. From then onwards, Amber stopped having nightmares.
For some reason, that comes to mind now. Whilst I just witnessed Arlo transform into a humongous wolf, I am trying to tell myself that it was a delusion. People don’t turn into werewolves—that is fictional.
My eyes are hallucinating, that’s the logical explanation.
But you know it’s not true. Arlo turned into a wolf—he is a werewolf. My subconscious whispers, regretfully.
Arlo turning into a wolf, unfortunately, explains a lot. This was their big secret, the one I wasn’t allowed to know, the one they kept well hidden. It explains why Arlo wasn’t afraid of the wolf the other day. He probably knew him or her.
I begin to wonder how many people were in on it. If Arlo is a werewolf, then Arden must be. But what about Talia? Does she know about them or is she one of them?
I am pulled away from my thoughts when I hear two things. One is the sound of scuffling and wolves growling viciously. The other is the sound of a girl screaming. I only realize I was the one screaming when someone gently places their hand on my shoulder.
Flinching, I push the person away from me and watch the two wolves fight each other with wide eyes. I can easily tell which one is Arlo—his fur is the same colour as his hair.
I can’t believe I’m even making that comparison. I am literally talking about how Arlo’s hair is the same as his wolf’s. This is insane.
The two wolves battle aggressively. The one with frightening red eyes plays dirty, using cheap tricks like biting Arlo to stay afloat. Now, I don’t know much about wolf fighting but I can say that Arlo is pretty good at it. He uses his initiative. It’s clear the other wolf has a bad left leg so Arlo targets that.
Whilst I am so mad and sad and hurt about this, I don’t want Arlo to die. Annoyingly, I still feel something for him. I hate that I do. God, I want to feel nothing for him, but I can’t. In between the strong feeling of hate I have for him, there is still that want. That need. Even though he lied to me, hurt me and played me, he still makes my stomach drop and my heart rate increase.
The other wolf manages to strike Arlo in the side, causing him to stumble back in shock. Beside me, Talia gasps. From my peripheral vision, I spot Arden edging closer to the fight, alert. I assume he is going to step in if Arlo struggles. Kacey is motionless beside me, her eyes trained on the fight. Footsteps approach the scene behind me, catching my attention. I glance over my shoulder wondering who it is, only to wish I didn’t look when my eyes land on Trinity.
For the first time ever, she appears worried. When she notices me watching her though, she quickly masks it.
A whine attracts my attention back to the fight again. I snap my head there, silently praying it didn’t come from Arlo.
Thankfully, it didn’t. The other wolf bends its left leg in pain but continues to glare at Arlo. It tries to lunge at Arlo again, only to be attacked by Arlo again. Arlo lands on top of the wolf and prevents it from getting back upwards. Arlo lowers his head to the wolf’s neck and releases a warning growl. For a moment, it looks like Arlo is going to kill the wolf, but he doesn’t. Instead, he remains on top of the wolf.
Two males approach them from behind us. I recognise one of them as Cabe. He gives me a grimace as he passes me, looking guilty about the whole ordeal. It hurts to know another one of my friends knew about this.
Arlo jumps off the wolf when the other two arrive and sprints off into the trees. The scary wolf stays on the ground in defeat.
A minute or two passes until Arlo appears from the woods, in human form. He’s wearing a pair of jeans and a faded blue t-shirt and his hair is dishevelled. His brown eyes remain locked onto mine as he approaches me purposefully.
Cabe and the other man begin to drag the wolf away by its legs, causing it to let out yelps.
“Lily…” Arlo calls quietly, forcing me to focus on him once again. The guilt, concern and dread filling his eyes are overwhelming. I instantly know he’s terrified of how I will react. And he should be. I let him have his second chance—a chance to prove himself to me and he still hid this from me. Sure, I know this is a big secret but if I meant a lot to him—like he said I did—then he should have told me. He should have trusted me.
“You…you turned into a wolf,” I say out in the open, more for myself. Saying it out in the open rather than in my head proves that it was real. That it was reality.
Arlo nods his head slowly, desperately wanting to comfort me.
“This is crazy, I must be losing my mind.” I let out a bitter laugh, feeling utterly lost.
“I know it is,” Arlo replies, pretending to know how I am feeling right now. Pretending to know how overwhelmed I feel. He cannot comprehend how many emotions I am feeling right now, he will never know how intense they are. I feel as if I am being swallowed by a black hole. I am falling, wishing to clutch onto something, to get away but there’s nothing. No matter how afraid I am, I still fall into the inevitable. “But please let me explain.”
Instead of running away this time, I stay. I want to know everything. I have been wondering for so long and now is my chance to know.
Staying doesn’t mean I forgive him. I will never forgive him for this.
I never thought I would hate Arlo. But this strong, evil feeling inside of me is hate. I loathe this man.
Arlo breathes a sigh of relief and drags a hand through his messy hair. “As you can see, I am a werewolf and that other wolf was a rogue.”
I listen to every word intently, drinking it all in. The more I learn, the more fascinated I become.
Arlo notices my frown and continues. “Most werewolves are part of a pack. Rogues are wolves who are not. They are usually feral and dangerous. As you just saw. Most of the students here are apart of our pack. My dad is currently the Alpha and when Arden comes of age, he will take over from my dad. I will become the beta—second in command.”
I take a peek at Arden who is also listening to every word his brother says with interest. It makes sense Arden will become the Alpha which I guess is the leader. Arden was a born a leader.
“Every wolf has a mate.” For some reason, this catches my attention. I have heard several people slip up and say something like ‘mate’. Some have even used my name in the sentence. “Mates are sacred to us. They are our soul mates, our one true love. When we find them, we never let them go.”
I glance at Talia and Arden. They are obviously mates. The way they gaze at each other makes it obvious.
So that means Arlo has a mate…
“And when I first met my mate, I did something stupid. I ignored her and treated her in a harsh way. Hell, I nearly rejected her.” He continues, staring deeply into my eyes. My heart is hammering in my chest now as I listen to him—listen to him tell me I’m his mate. “I nearly lost her but then I found my way again. And for a while, things were going really well again until someone evil came in and ruined it.” He shoots a glare at Trinity who looks indifferent about his choice of words.
“Lily, I’m sorry you saw that. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. And god, I’m sorry I nearly rejected you.” He apologizes, sincerely. His eyes shine with unshed tears; I’m shocked he is presenting himself that way right now.
“What does rejection mean?” I ask him, dreadfully. A part of me already knows what it is but I want to hear it from him myself.
Arlo swallows nervously and averts his eyes. “Um…well…it’s where you reject your mate. Usually, wolves do it when they want another or are not pleased with their mate.”
The hurt that courses through my body right now is painful. Hearing that Arlo didn’t want me is heartbreaking. But that heartbreak soon turns into something else—hate.
“You wanted Talia,” I state, matter-of-factly. “I was second best! Of course, I was. You knew you couldn’t have her, so you finally decided to admit you had a mate. God, you must think I am so naïve.”
Arlo starts to frantically shake his head. “No that’s not it at all.”
But even Arlo knows that his words are not completely true. He knows I am right. He just didn’t realize it until I told him.
My heart aches. It’s agony. It’s strange how strong this all feels—I wonder if it’s because of the mate bond or if it’s because I love him. Either way, it is a feeling I will always remember when I think of Arlo. I will always remember how much he hurt me. He has put me through so much—more than anyone should have to go through—and yet he still hopes I will forgive him. I nearly snorted at the thought. As if.
“Stop lying to yourself!” I scream, frustratedly.
Arlo clamps his mouth shut and pauses, knowing he can’t fight me on this.
When he doesn’t deny it again, my heart shatters. A part of me hoped I was wrong. I was hoping I was wrong and that I wasn’t second best. That I was the girl he wanted from the beginning. That I still am.
“Ever since I got here, you have confused and hurt me. You have been plain mean and cruel and you have lied to me. You said you wanted me, yet I saw you with Trinity. And don’t say she surprised you because you could have still struggled. You have always wanted your brothers’ mate. You only started accepting me because you knew you would never get her with Arden around.” Everything comes out without thought. I just keep talking.
“The next thing I’m about to say is long overdue, I think.” Arlo snaps his eyes to mine. As if he can read my mind, his eyes widen and he opens his mouth, ready to plead with me. But I say it before he can. “I reject you Arlo Gold.”
Beside me, Talia and Arden gasp. Kacey’s mouth is agape, and her eyes are as big as saucers. But Arlo’s reaction is the one I’m keen on.
Hurt clouds his eyes and for the first time, I don’t feel anything but satisfaction about it. It’s time he starts to feel the pain I’ve been feeling. Now he knows how I felt every time he was cruel to me.
“Lily…” Arlo begs but it’s too late. I’ve said it and I’m not going to change my mind.
Rejecting Arlo feels…liberating. I feel like a free woman. I feel healed.
Arlo deserved this. I can’t be with someone who will never truly want me. I don’t deserve that. I deserve so much more than Arlo or Joe or anyone else who wants to treat me like dirt.
Stepping backwards, I begin to walk away, leaving all of them.
What surprises me is that I don’t regret doing it. I don’t regret rejecting the man I love or leaving my friends who lied to me. Sure, in time I will forgive Talia and Arden, but I will never be able to forgive Arlo. He will forever be on my hate list.
When I reach my room, I collapse onto my bed and begin to cry.
I cry for what could have been if things were different. I cry for not knowing about who they are.
I cry for myself.
Things will never be the same again. I will never be able to trust someone again. I will always doubt if I am worthy enough if I am really who they want. I will always be paranoid that they aren’t cheating on me.
Arlo has changed me and not for the better. I am always going to be more cautious.
I cry alone for some time. Nobody comes to see me, and I respect them for that. They know I need some time to myself.
About an hour later, I run out of tears. Heaving myself up from the bed, I stumble into the bathroom and stare at my disastrous reflection. Mascara is all around my eyes, my lipstick is smudged, and my hair is tangled and frizzy. I look like I’ve been dragged through a war zone.
Sighing, I strip out of my clothes and hop into the shower, hoping to wash away not only my make-up but those horrible emotions.
When I’m done, I exit the bathroom in nothing but a towel and change into a pair of fluffy pyjamas. I get back into bed after and lye there for a moment, thinking about wolves.
The whole ordeal fascinated me. I’d like to know more about them. I want to know more.
Grabbing my phone, I start to google them, learning about the pack structure and the myths of mates. I even stumble across a page on someone called the Moon Goddess, a God who apparently created werewolves. I spend hours searching, distracting myself.
It’s around midnight when I realize that I’m going to have to face all of them again tomorrow and every other day this year. That thought scares me. I don’t know what to say or how to act.
Truthfully, I don’t want to see them every day. I don’t want that horrible feeling to be there every day as I go about my day.
The more I think about it, the more dread I feel about it.
Amber. She will know what to do. I whisper to myself internally.
Even though Amber and I aren’t as close anymore, this is urgent. She will know what to do. I trust her to give me the best advice.
So, I click onto my phone and dial Amber’s number. I don’t realize I’m holding my breath until I hear the phone answer.
“Lily? What do you want?” Her voice filters through my phone, loudly.
Early update! Yay! What do you think of this chapter?
My next update will either be this Monday or Thursday. As usual, thank you for reading! Now I'm off to watch Frozen 2 :)