The next day on Friday, went by in a blur. I spent most of the day helping my mom make sure everything was set in place for the reception tomorrow. As usual, she was freaking out about the smallest details. The color of the flowers. The way the font looked on the table cards. Even the tiny piece of lint on one of the worker’s uniform seemed to upset her.
My mother was an obsessive control freak. I couldn’t understand how Sheila, the event planner, could deal with her all day. In the first few hours, I wanted to pull every inch of my hair out while Sheila smiled and looked unfazed. Luckily, she managed to please my mom, which I was starting to believe was utterly impossible.
Later in the evening, Nicole and I neatly set the table for dinner. It was a family tradition for the predecessors of the pack to dine with the successors. A bonfire would follow the dinner in the open fields outside the packhouses. My grandfather would always say it was a sign of respect and unity among the old and the new.
Nicole was rearranging the fresh flowers at the center of the table when I decided to break the silence and talk about yesterday’s events. It had been heavy on my mind.
“I saw him,” I spoke with my head down, anticipating her reaction as I fiddled with the silverware. Nicole disliked my ex because she believed there was someone better suited for me. She stopped and snapped her head in my direction.
“When?” Nicole asked intently.
“Yesterday afternoon. I ran into him outside Marcie’s formal shop. We went to the beach and talked.”
“Oh god,” Nicole’s face contorted in disgust, “You didn’t!”
I grinned nervously as the memory of Bryson’s kiss lingered on my lips. Nicole threw her hands up in frustration. She didn’t need a verbal confirmation from me to know what happened between us.
“Astrid, we talked about this. Moving on doesn’t involve sucking face with your ex-boyfriend,” She exasperated her words by crazily moving her hands in the air.
I sighed, “I know, I know. But we needed closure, and I still want us to be friends.”
“You said that the last 50 times,” Nicole commented, setting the last flower into the vase, “Bryson isn’t your mate, Astrid. You shouldn’t be getting into serious relationships like that.”
“We’re done,” I said categorically, contorting my face in disbelief, “And who are you to judge me? Look at all the relationships you’ve been in.”
I couldn’t help but be offended by the way she judged me. Nicole had been in countless relationships that left her with a scarred heart. She was never any good at love or being in a monogamous relationship, for that matter. Nicole had her issues just as much as I did.
“Yeah, and look how great those turned out,” Nicole laughed though it didn’t reach her eyes. Her expression turned serious when she turned to see me frowning.
“Forget it,” I waved my hand dismissively, “I knew you wouldn’t understand.”
“Astrid,” Nicole called when I turned to leave. She stood in front of me and gently held my shoulders, “Look, I want you to be happy. I mean, we all know you’re going to get paired with some hottie who’s almost equally as hot as you but not quite,” I couldn’t help but smile at that before she continued, “I just don’t want you to make the same mistake I did,” She frowned at the memory of him.
“Nicole, I’m sorry,” The feeling of guilt hit me deep in the gut. I was too busy dealing with my feelings; I’d completely forgotten about her situation.
Two months ago, Nicole found her mate, Michael, while traveling to another pack for a business transaction. Michael is a human but knowledgeable about our kind because he is a pack doctor. They were instantly in love, and he was more than happy to move to Silverhill, but Nicole’s previous relationship created problems between them.
Nicole tried to move on with her life, but her ex was persistent. Michael eventually got tired of the extra baggage and moved back home without completing the mating process. She was crushed. Although I know, they both miss each other because she has marked him, intensifying their bond. Being without your mate is painful for us, and in some cases, if you are rejected, it could lead you to insanity or, worse…death.
“I miss him so much,” Her voice broke. I held her and rubbed her back soothingly as she tried to hold back the tears.
“Michael will come around,” I assured her, “I think he’s more scared to lose you to someone else,” I wiped the tears from her face and turned her around to the small decorative mirror on the wall, “Look at you! He can’t resist this face for long,” I said, grabbing her chin playfully.
She smiled, “Thanks, Astrid.”
Soon mom and the housemaids came from the kitchen to prepare the dishes. Nicole and I helped with the cooking before mom pulled me aside. I let out an aggravated sigh when she handed me an envelope with the councils’ stamp printed on the front. It was an important document that needed to be sent to the main office.
“I’m going to kill him!” I muttered before snatching the envelope and storming upstairs to my brothers’ room. Without knocking, I busted through his bedroom door.
“Keaton!” I growled at him. He recoiled, bringing the covers up his bare chest.
“Don’t you knock!” He exclaimed.
I brought the envelope up for him to see. He rubbed his face in frustration as he noticed what was in my hand, “This was supposed to be mailed days ago, Keaton. Why is it here?” I asked, throwing the envelope at him. He caught in time before it smacked him on the face.
“Astrid now isn’t a good time. Can we talk about this later?” Keaton grumbled, awkwardly shifting under the covers. He must have thought I was plain stupid not to see the figure hiding under the covers or the horrific sent of what was going down moments before my arrival.
“Come out, Britney,” I spoke, assuming the she-wolf in hiding was my brother’s usual hookup, but I was so wrong. Keaton glared at me before a blonde she-wolf uncovered her head. She definitely wasn’t Britney.
“Who’s Britney?” The she-wolf asked my brother. The rage was audible in her voice. She didn’t know my brother very well, he was a complete man-whore, and no one could change him. I’m patiently waiting for the day his future mate comes along and sets him straight.
Before Keaton could save himself, the commotion brought our attention to the bedroom window opening. My sister abruptly fell through it, landing harshly on the floor. Her long dark brown hair was piled in a messy bun, and she wore the same shimmery pink dress from last night. She kicked off her knee-high boots before standing to her feet. From her glossy green eyes and strong scent, I could tell she was still drunk.
“Seriously, Khloe?” I growled at her. Khloe looked nervously between Keaton and me before realizing her mistake. She snuck into the wrong bedroom.
“Please don’t tell mom,” Khloe pleaded. By now, I’d lost my patience with the twins. Between skipping school and ditching their pack responsibilities, I couldn’t decide which one was more irresponsible.
“Enough of this!” I growled at them before turning to Khloe, “You’re skipping classes and sneaking in the house every night drunk! Bad transcripts don’t get into good colleges. You need to get your priorities straight,” I sounded like a total mom, lecturing my sister, but this was for her own good. Khloe didn’t say a word as I finished.
“And you!” I pointed angrily at Keaton as he awkwardly laid next to the confused she-wolf, “If something happens to me, then you’re next in line, and I’ll be damned if River Ash gets thrown into the hands of some reckless alpha. Sign those papers and mail them to the main office. No more bullshit!”
A momentary silence passed before I finally told them, “Both of you wash up and make yourselves look decent for dinner,” The twins grumbled a ‘Fine’ in unison. I didn’t care if they were pissed off at me; I wanted them to take my warning seriously. Otherwise, I wouldn’t tolerate this behavior once I am officially alpha.
I stopped at the doorway, turning to Keaton, “Please tell your friend to leave out the back door. Our guests will be here soon, and it’s not a good look,” I spoke sternly before heading downstairs. Fortunately, for the she-wolf, she kept her mouth shut and complied.
I went back to the dining room, where Nicole’s family had arrived. Dinner was served shortly after Derek, and his family joined us. Once again, the housemaids outdid themselves with endless mouthwatering dishes from Spain. The aroma alone was enough to send me into a food coma.
After dinner, the pack gathered to the fields for the bonfire. Tonight, I felt incredibly grateful for the life given to me. My family and friends never failed to show me continuous love and support as I prepared to take this next big step. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Not only was I becoming the alpha, but the first female alpha of River Ash. I worked hard for this position my entire life, and tomorrow it would all come to fruition.
I sat on the wooden log between Nicole and Derek when my father finished an intense story about a war between River Ash and an opposing pack back in 1920. It was another one of our traditions to tell war stories and sometimes scary around the fire.
“Hey dad, I think you should tell everyone’s favorite story next,” Keaton said with a hint of sarcasm, flashing me a smug smile. I glared at him in return. He was trying to get back at me for interrupting his lovefest earlier. I knew what terrible story he was talking about. The one I hated the most.
“What story?” Dad asked curiously. Keaton’s smile grew wider as he looked at me and said, “The legend.”
About what I said earlier, I am grateful for everyone in my family except my shithead brother. The moon goddess can have him back.