Growing up I had what people would call an alternative childhood; even to the werewolf world. It’s not unheard of for a werewolf child to be neglected, it just doesn’t happen as often as it does in the human world. To neglect your child, your loved ones goes against every instinct to a wolf. Weather that loved one be your family member, pack member, child or mate; it doesn’t matter. The natural instinct is to take care of them, protect them, love and nourish them; provide for them.
My mother didn’t have that instinct. Neither did my father. In fact, up till the age of eight I only ever knew one person who had that instinct. Her name was Grace, the name fit her perfectly. What she was doing with my parents and what they called their pack I will never know; but I do know that I will be forever thankful to Grace. She was an older wolf who tried to care for me like I expect a grandmother would. When she was allowed to that is.
On the night before my eighth birthday, Grace came over to my corner; the little area I had been told could be my space. We were living in an abandoned warehouse, we moved frequently to avoid police of both the human and werewolf variety. This was the longest we had stayed in one place. Almost twelve months. She came when she knew both my parents would be off, breaking some law or getting high; probably both. She sat by my feet and brushed the hair from my face. She smiled at me, she was the only one to ever smile at me and handed me a backpack.
I remember looking at it, wondering what it was for. What I was supposed to do with it.
“Open it.” Grace whispered to me, while also putting a finger to her lips indicating me to stay quiet.
Inside I found clothes that looked quite clean, cleaner than what I was wearing anyway. Some water bottles and packets of different food items. There was something hard that was wrapped in fabric I started to unravel it and realised what it was. Grace looked around, checking that no one was watching. They never normally cared what I did as long as I was out the way. I wrapped the dagger back up and placed it back in the bag.
“What’s going on Grace? What’s all this for?”
“You are such a sweet boy Shawn, and for whatever reason the two idiots who you call your parents were blessed with you. But they don’t realise how special you are. Tomorrow you turn eight, and things around here may start to change for you; and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do anything to stop it. My sweet boy, you need to go. Tonight, leave here and never look back. Just keep running. Cross over rivers and streams, hide your smell like I’ve taught you too. Keep the big mountains in front of you always and don’t stop.” She pulled me in close to her and wrapped her arms around me.
“I don’t want to leave you Grace. I’m Scared? What will I do?”
“You deserve so much more than this life Shawn. Not all packs are like this. There are better ones, good ones. You are going to be such a strong wolf, such a strong man, they will twist you and use you for nothing that is good. Now is the time, you must go. Find a good pack, they will see the greatness in you, like I do and they will take you in. You can live a better life, a full life. Find your mate have a family of your own. This… this is not for you.”
That was the last time I ever saw Grace; but she saved me that night. That night I ran like I had never ran before. I knew how to hide, how to fight, how to survive; my parents had taught me that much, but that night was the scariest night of my life.
Until that night six months ago.
The night I lost Vicky. She was my everything; I didn’t know it when I was eight; but she was the reason why I ran that night. So I could meet her; love her, cherish her, protect her.
But I failed. I let her down. I let her die.
And so I ran again. I hadn’t run from anything in fifteen years. Everything I encountered on my way to finding Logan’s Fathers pack; the Blackmoon Pack, I faced head on. I didn’t stand down from anything. Every fight, I had won. I didn’t know how to lose; and then I lost the best thing I ever had.
Logan knew where I was. I hadn’t turned Rogue. I would never become one of them. They were in my past and would never return to them. But hunting and killing rogues was certainly a good distraction for a while. I even teamed up with Chris for a few weeks, but even he reminded me of her. Of Vicky. My mate.
Stepping out of the shower in my little motel room, I grabbed my phone. I knew who the missed call would be from. There was only so long I could keep on ignoring my future Alpha. I knew I needed to call him. To go back, I just didn’t know if I could handle it; but I knew the time had come. It was time for me to stop backing down and start living like the man Vicky and Grace had both wanted me to be.
When my bike roared up the drive to the pack house, I felt it. My connection to the pack. I hadn’t realised it was so vacant. I felt it the moment the drove over the pack boundary line, but to actually be here; feeling each pack members connection, something inside started to build. I knew my first stop should be with Alpha and Logan, but I just needed to do something else first and drove past the pack house and carried on to Vicky’s parents house. I left town so quickly after the funeral I never spoke to them. I haven’t spoken to them since.
Walking up the steps to the front door, I’m about to knock but the door swings open and Vicky’s mum stands there. Her bright smile in place, not quite reaching her eyes like before but there none the less.
“We’ve missed you Shawn. It’s good to see you. Come on in, I’ve got a pie just about ready to come out the oven.”
I follow her to the kitchen and sit at the table. I have so many memories here in this kitchen. This family is the family that taught me what a family was. What a happy family should be like. What love was like, that’s what Vicky taught me. How to love unconditionally, even when someone wasn’t perfect. Someone like me.
“Shawn…” Jason’s voice rang out as he ran down the stairs. It made me smile as I turned waiting for him to enter the kitchen.
“Is he really here mom?” I laughed and stood up. He ran in and came straight to me. Standing still in front of me, I could tell he wanted to hug me but was maybe scared of being thought silly. I took away all of his fears and embraced him. I felt his arms wrap around my waist and hold on tight.
“Sorry I was away for so long kiddo. You’ve got bigger, stronger.” He stood away from me and tried to discreetly wipe at his eyes.
“I’ve started training. Jasmine said I’m one of her best students.” He stands proud and looks over to his mom.
“I bet you are. You’ll make a fine warrior. I’d be proud to fight next to you.” If possible, he stands up even straighter and I’m shocked by how much he reminds me of his sister. Not just in looks but he has her fight and her spirit.
I stay a little while longer before leaving, but not without promising to visit again in a few days. It’s not an empty promise; promises always mean something to me.
I drive back to the pack house and head to the Alphas office. I know that they know I’m arriving, but I still knock on the hardwood office door.
“Come in Shawn.” Alphas voice; gentle but somehow still booming. It was a voice of authority. This was the first person after Grace who earned my respect. He taught me the werewolf laws; what an Alpha was, what a pack was. It was nothing like what I had left behind.
When he found me, I’m told that I wouldn’t have survived much longer; but I still stood to fight him. I didn’t know who he was, all I knew was that he could stop me from reaching the mountains. Grace had told me to reach the mountains, I didn’t know that I was basically at the base of them.
It didn’t take much for him to overpower me but he took me in and cared for me. I was a about five years older than his son and he raised us brothers. He taught me what a father was. He said to me years later that he saw something in me that day that earned his respect.
“Alpha, Logan.” I nod my head in acknowledgement at the both of them. Logan comes to stand in front of me and we hug. Patting each other on the back.
“It’s good to have you back man.” Logan says quietly.
“It’s good to be back.” I sit down on the leather couch and just take in my surroundings. Home; this is home, the only real home I ever knew.
“So we’ve heard that there were sightings of a couple of rogues in the north.” I was not expecting Alpha to say that. I feel my fists clenching at my sides.
“Are they gathering again?” I ask, trying my best to stay seating, but I can feel my anger rising.
“No we don’t think so. We followed their trail and it looked like they were just passing through. But we are stationing more guards to be on the look out. We need you back now Shawn. Are you ready to be back?” What a question. Would I have come back if Logan hadn’t kept calling me? Probably not, but ready or not this is where I need to be. I feel it inside.
“Yes sir. I’m back and ready. Always. I won’t lie it’s been a hard few months, but Vicky wouldn’t want me hiding away, getting old and grumpy. So its time now to be back and present. Start living again; it’s what Vicky would want.”
“Yes it is. Well If you need anything son; just say. Now how about we get some food. That is if those girls haven’t eaten it all.” He laughs and Logan laughs along with him and I raise my eyebrows questioningly. Alpha leads the way out his office to the kitchen but Logan explains what he means.
“Alexia is having a girl’s night with Jasmine and Amber. Amber has basically been absent these last six months. I gotta admit there was a time a few months back; I wasn’t sure she would ever be okay. Tonight’s the first time she has agreed to even come over; so Alexia has gone all out and ordered a whole heap of food. She was so excited when Amber said yes.”
“I never thought she would react like that. That night we went to get them, it was clear she had been through some stuff but she was still ready to fight me. I could see it in her eyes. What happened to her there?” I hadn’t seen Amber since the funeral. I hadn’t seen anyone since the funeral, Amber hadn’t really entered my mind. I just assumed she was a fighter and would get over it. I guess I was wrong. Something must have happened.
“No one knows what really happened. Alexia says they were kept separated sometimes and that Amber never said what happened in those times. But…”
“She said Amber was always worse when she came back. Alexia hasn’t told me everything. She doesn’t even know everything, but from what she has said… it was bad.”