Think Like A Luna
I walk to the front of the pack house, looking around for Skylar. I’m shaking, trying to force myself to calm down when she pops around the corner.
“Hey, girlie!” She calls to me, running up and hugging me like we’ve known each other our entire lives.
You can’t ignore me.
“Hey,” I say back, trying to sound like I’m not panicking.
“How are you, sweets?” She asks me, eyeing me warily.
“Fine. Great. How are you?”
“You don’t seem fine,” she says, ignoring my question. “You seem a little… anxious? And you smell a little wolfy. Did someone bother you? Because you’re a guest here and Perseus can take care of it.”
I smell wolfy?
Yes. You do, obviously. Because you’re a werewolf.
No. I’m a witch.
Maybe so. But you’re also a wolf.
Since when? I challenge. All my life I’ve only ever been a witch.
No. She argues. I’ve always been here.
That makes no sense.
Neither does the fact that I’m arguing with myself. Being here is doing something to me. Something strange.
“Earth to Aria,” Skylar calls, waving a hand in front of my face. “You’re like a million miles away right now. If someone is harassing you, you need to let Talon and Percy know.”
“No,” I assure her, blinking fast to try and clear my mind. “I’m fine. No one is bothering me. I just had a rough night.”
She nods, but I’m not sure she believes me. “Alright then…” she watches me for a moment, and then suddenly is a ball of energy. “Tour time, my friend! You’re going to love this place.” She links her arm through mine and pulls me to her car. She chatters on the way, mostly about meaningless things, until she finally pulls into a parking lot in the middle of town. We get out and head towards a small building overflowing with people, the line bursting through the front door. Skylar sashays past the line like she owns the place, tugging me along behind her.
She directs me to sit in a room in the back that’s been roped off. I make my way slowly towards it, earning curious stares from the people gathered at their own tables. As I sit down at the long conference table, I see Skylar disappear behind the counter. I watch as she fills two disposable cups with coffee and then tosses some pastries on a plate. She places everything on the table and takes her seat across from me. I don’t say anything, just continue looking at her questioningly.
She picks up a danish and sighs.
“My parents own this place. It’s really the only good place around here to get breakfast. Or lunch… or dinner… I mean there’s other places, but they’re obviously subpar.”
I pick up the coffee cup, realizing it has the same logo as the one Percy brought me this morning. I didn’t even open the bag of food he brought me, I just left it in the kitchen, but the cinnamon roll looks amazing.
“Take it,” Skylar laughs, noticing me eyeing it.
I do as she says, reveling in the taste of it.
That is the worst possible thing that you could put in your body.
I tense, but otherwise continue eating. I will her to leave me alone.
You don’t usually eat this junk.
I take a deep breath. “So, what’s on the agenda for today?” I ask, choosing to continue ignoring Rowena. I’m still not convinced that she’s real and I’m not crazy.
“Not much,” Skylar tells me. “It’s a small town so it won’t take long to show you everything, but I figured I could introduce you to a few people before I drop you off at the office to check on Eloise.”
I nod, thinking about my office at home. They’re probably wondering where I am right now. I expect my voicemail to be full when I get back to the apartment.
“So, what’s your town like?” She asks. “It must be way bigger than this one.” I hear a slight twinge of jealousy in her town.
“No,” I assure her. “It’s not much bigger than this. I lived in a big city in Georgia and I don’t think I’d go back to that.”
“Really?” She asks, seeming unimpressed with my answer. “I wish Percy would go ahead and pull this pack into the twenty first century. We have the numbers to expand, but his father was against it, and so was Talon. I literally dream of becoming a large, prominent pack with people fighting at the borders to get in.”
“Isn’t Black Moon a large, prominent pack already?” I ask, confused. I don’t know much of the wolf world, but I know the leading packs.
“In size. And prestige. But expanding would put us on top. We’re literally eating and shopping thirty minutes away from here because we can’t compete here. There are some humans accepting of wolves, and if we expanded and introduced restaurant and coffee chains, large grocery stores and a mall, it could really put us on the map. Not that I want to necessarily invite humans onto our land, but think of the possibilities.”
I’m doubtful. The pack seems perfect to me. I mean, it felt so homey and inviting as soon as I got here.
That’s because you belong here.
Expanding seems to me like you’d lose all authenticity. I have nothing against humans—living in the city I was around them everyday—but inviting them in just to have a name brand coffee chain seems trite. The coffee on the table in front of me is perfect, and if I wanted something more hand-crafted, I’d just make the drive to the next city over. It’s really not a big deal in my mind.
“How do the other pack members feel about expansion?” I ask.
You’re already thinking like a Luna.
“Some people are for it, some are against it. But Percy was born to be Alpha, and these people would bend over backwards for him. Whatever his decision, everyone would eventually support it.”
I feel almost proud upon hearing how revered Percy is. It’s a strange sensation, and I don’t know where it’s coming from.
He’s your mate. If Rowena could roll her eyes, I imagine she’d be doing it now.
No. Halston is my mate. Or whatever. You are not real. Leave me alone.
“What if he chose not to expand? Would you eventually support that as well?” I pry.
She shrugs. “I suppose, but when I become Luna I’m sure I can change his mind.” She smiles smugly at me.
I have to bite back a growl, an action so foreign to me that I startled myself.
You will not be his Luna. Percy is mine.
Calm down, I hiss in my head. This is a little ridiculous. Are all wolves really this territorial all the time?
Well, it is our nature.
I just smile politely at Skylar, wondering if she can tell that I’m going crazy. Rowena chastises me for being in denial but I don’t have long to think about it because Skylar has already moved on.
“Why did you become a vet? Don’t tell me you have a passion for animals,” she scoffs.
“Why not?” I ask, confused.
“It just seems like the cliché answer,” she says, shrugging as she finishes her danish. “I mean, not everyone is a vet because they love animals. Like what made you want to play in poop all day and sweep up pet dander? Like I’m really curious, I’m not trying to be a bitch.”
A little annoyed, I sigh. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I really do just have a passion for animals. I’m good with them, and they just seem to like me. It was a no-brainer honestly.”
“How old are you?” She asks me now. “You seem really young to be a veterinarian.”
“I’m twenty three, but the witch University I went to has an accelerated program in a few human degrees.”
“Witch university? See, this would be another good reason for expansion. I feel like we know nothing about the outside world. We should be more educated about things other than just wolves. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a witch University. Why don’t we have our own pack schools? Why do we attend schooling out of town?”
I can’t deny that having their own schools does sound more convenient. Plus, it would create more jobs within the pack—it sounds like most everything they do, they do a town over. Maybe there’s more to this vain girl than I initially thought.
“Have you talked to Percy about any of this?”
You’re encouraging her? Rowena roars in my head. Are you insane?
“Not yet. I’ve mentioned some things to Talon when he was Alpha, but he wasn’t having any of it—he wanted things to stay exactly as his father left them.”
“What happened to his father?” I ask her now.
“Oh, nothing,” she laughs. “He just relinquished control to spend more time with his mate. He had two fully capable sons, and he just felt it was time. When they’re not exploring the world, though, they’re here, and he’s very opinionated.”
I nod, taking it all in.
“Want a refill before we begin this tour?”