The wind tickled her nose with the scent of what she had been searching for: her mother. A huge 12 story building stood in front of her with big block letters naming the law firm her mother worked for. She hated it more than she hated anything in her life, but being only twelve years old Emma hadn’t had much to hate in her life. That building took her mother from her almost every day for longer hours than any other wolf mother worked. Although her father was home during the day to care for her, she didn’t see much of him at night as he was running his bar.
Emma needed her mother right now. Her father knew little to calm her nerves and although her mother was barely around she always knew how to make her feel better about any situation. She stepped into the building being greeted by the warm smile of Rose, the main receptionist of the building. Each floor had their own receptionist that reported to each office but Rose was in charge of the whole building. She knew who was coming and who was going. She knew how to run the building better than her father knew how to pour a screwdriver and that was saying something.
“Good afternoon, my dear, how can I assist you?” Rose’s words were as delicate as her smile. She was in her mid-thirties and a plain Jane. Nothing stood out about her. Her brown hair was cut straight to her shoulders, her eyes just as brown as her hair. She was pretty but not beautiful.
“I just want to see my mom.” Emma smiled back at her.
“You know the way, deary.” Rose lifted her hand towards the right, silver elevator doors waiting for her. Emma all but ran to the door, pressing the button one too many times. She needed to hurry, her school lunch was almost over with the long walk it took to get to the building. The chime of the elevator opened the doors and Emma stepped inside, pressing the 12 as hard as she could. The zoom and whoosh took her up past each floor until she ended on the very top. The doors opened and the scent hit her harder than she was expecting. Mom. Emma jumped her way from the elevator and skidded to a stop at the front desk.
“Elise, I would like to make an appointment with my mother.” The woman behind the desk chuckled.
“Oh do you now, honey? Well your mom is in her office on a very important business call.” Elise picked up her phone and pressed a few numbers. “I paged her out, honey, why don’t you take a seat and I’ll call you up when I hear from her.” Emma nodded her head and slid into one of the chairs against the wall. She took in her surroundings. She knew a few of the wolves behind their desks on their phones, files and papers surrounded each one of them. They were all working hard, just as her mother did. She was surprised to see Nick sitting at a desk by the window with a man in a suit who resembled his features in a familial way but not his father, his parents had passed some years ago in a rouge fight. Nick was Emma’s age at the time making him sixteen now though he didn’t look it. He looked like a clean shaven muscled man who had been through more than most. The man with him was most likely his uncle but it was hard to tell. Emma didn’t know much about Nick except he was gorgeous and way out of her league. He was a sophomore for crying out loud, she was a middle schooler having such a hard time with the other girls in her class that she ran from lunch to see her mother. He would never go for a wolf like her. But what was he doing there...
“Emma!” She jumped at the sound of her name and made eye contact with Elise. “Your mother will see you now.” Emma slid from the chair and raced into her mothers office.
“Emma, I told you about coming to my work. You can’t just drop in, I’m very busy. Why aren’t you at school? Did someone drive you here?” Isabella was a breath of fresh air, a beauty beyond belief. Her dark auburn hair matched that of her daughters. Her piercing green eyes matched as well; official mini-me. Their physical appearance was the end of their similarities.
“Mom, I’m sorry. I walked here because I didn’t know what else to do.” Tears welled in the child’s eyes.
“Oh honey.” Isabella made her way to her daughter and wrapped her arms around her. “What’s wrong?” Emma sniffled as she tried to hold back her tears.
“I don’t want to go to school anymore. I just can’t do it, Mom, I won’t do it. They’re so mean to me. They call me names and they pick on me all the time. I don’t have friends, they say I’ll be nothing to the pack. They called me a rouge!” The tears were flowing down her cheeks with no sign of stopping.
“Who did? I want names of all the girls.” Isabella turned mama wolf in the blink of an eye. She rushed behind her desk and picked up a pen, sliding a notepad over to her with her other hand. “Come on now, names.” She demanded.
“Mom, I can’t. That will only make it worse. Please, just pull me out of school. I can finish the work from home. Please, I’ll still graduate and go to college. Please.” Emma begged.
“Emma, you are a warrior and warriors don’t quit. What is this begging? You’re better than that. Stand up for yourself. If you don’t want me involved then why are you here?” Why? Why was she here?
“I miss you, Mom.” Isabella laughed.
“Honey, I’ll be home by seven o’clock. I have a lot of cases right now.”
“No, Emma, end of conversation. Go back to school, we will discuss this with your father when I get home.” She pointed to the door. “Go now.” Emma lowered her head and exited the office. Emma knew better, by the time her mother came home from work her father would be long gone to the bar to start his shift. Those late nights paid for his mate’s schooling to get into the top floor of this office.
Emma didn’t lift her head as she slumped back to the elevator to take her home. Like hell she was going back to school. She turned around and pushed the ground level, but as the doors closed she locked eyes with Nick for just a split second. Her heart fluttered. Did someone notice her? She signed loudly as the elevator took her down, but it didn’t get far.
A loud boom shook the elevator. Her arms went out to grab anything she could find. The elevator screeched to a stop and for a second everything was silent. A second boom went off and shook the elevator again. She heard screams and began to smell smoke. What happened? She pressed all the buttons she could in the elevator to open it but nothing happened. The buttons didn’t light up, they didn’t take her down to the safety of the ground. Nothing at all happened. The smoke began seeping through the cracks of the door. “Help!” She screamed. She could hear others screaming, running, all in a panic. “Mom! Help me! I’m stuck!” She ran to the doors and began pounding hard. The thick smell of the smoke burned her nose and mouth. She lifted her shirt over her nose and coughed. She contemplated what she should do: shift and try to ram through the doors? No way, she wasn’t strong enough yet, she was just a child. Sit and wait for help? No way, she’d surely die. “Help!” She banged on the doors again. Her eyes were burning and her chest was beginning to feel tight. Panic struck her as the realization sunk in that she was going to die in this elevator. “Please...help...” she fell to the floor, all hope lost to her.
Suddenly the doors pulled open by a physical force instead of their normal mechanical one. Nick stood between the doors pushing them open until they wouldn’t open. Smoke surrounded him with the rest of the building. He held his hand out and Emma took it with no hesitation. He pulled her from the elevator and into the smoke. He was looking around desperately for an exit. “My mom— I have to find my mom!” Emma took a step away from him but his hand grasped her wrist.
“We can’t, we have to go.” His voice was deep and raspy. She didn’t know if that was his natural voice or if it was from the smoke.
“I can’t leave my mom.” She shook her head and tugged her wrist from him, but his grip was too tight. His eyes met hers and saddened as if he was asking for forgiveness. He effortlessly plucked her from the ground and ran. “No! Please! Put me down! I need to find my mom!” He didn’t respond, but he didn’t listen to her either. “Please!” She begged. Tears rolled down her face, knowing she had no control over her situation. Wolves around her screamed and pushed their way out of the building. She had no idea what floor she was on or how to get to her mother. The fire was consuming the building as if it was nothing but a midnight snack. She didn’t know how he did it, or why he did it, but Emma’s body was carefully set down in the grass. The parking lot was fogged with smoke and the building was engulfed in flames. She instantly stood up and began running back towards the building. Strong arms around her waist held her back. “No! Mom!” She screamed and tried to pry the grasp he had on her. She needed to go back. She needed to find her mother. “No! Please! No!” She fell to her knees, the arms around her just slightly holding her up. She stopped fighting and leaned into Nick’s body. She sobbed for her loss, her mother was gone. The building shook and began to crumble in front of her eyes.
“I got you, little wolf.”
Emma gasped and sat up in her bed. Sweat pouring from her body as the memory replaced as a nightmare in her sleep. Ten years had passed since the fire and she couldn’t even get a goods night sleep.