Chapter 1: Wolfsbane
“Really, Caitlyn, I know you think dad’s death has been hard on me, but you don’t have to take me out or anything to make me feel better.”
She sighs. “Erik, it’s not only about that! I miss dad too, and the loss made me realize family is everything, and I want to spend more time with you!”
The seats of the theater are tacky red velvet fold-outs. The chair creaks as I force the seat down, the smell of dust coating the air, almost triggering a coughing fit, but I hold it down. I don’t want to cause a scene in the quiet theater.
She glances behind us and murmurs, “Even though your Beta and Gamma have to follow us.”
I shrug. “Perks of being an Alpha, little sis.”
She rolls her eyes. “Anyways, I think you’ll like this. I’ve seen tons of promotion for this musical.”
I groan, “Musical? You dragged me out to the city to see a fucking musical?”
“You had to be here for a meeting anyway! Plus, I hear the lead is incredible.”
“What’s the musical called?”
“Well, I know the director, and he says it’s called “Wolfsbane,” inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It’s about a wolf and a human who fall in love, but they’re obviously star-crossed lovers since they’re of different species.”
She leans in, wiggling her eyebrows with a mischievous grin pulling up her lips in the same devilish way they would when she was about to pull a prank on me when we were kids.
“What?” I grunt, eyeing her suspiciously.
“The girl who plays the lead, Jules, is actually human!”
I chuckle at her antics, shaking my head, and feign offense, “Well, now I see what you’re really trying to do is push your pro-human agenda on me! And I thought you were trying to be all sisterly and loving!”
She smiles innocently. “Well, maybe a little bit of both were on my mind when I planned this outing!”
“Does your director friend know we’re here?”
She nods, a small smirk pulling on the corners of her lips. “Yes! We’re meeting the cast after the show.”
I groan, making my annoyance known. Great, I get to spend time with a fucking human.
My wolf speaks, his dark voice echoing in my mind, ‘Something is coming. I can feel it.’
Something good or bad, Gladius?
‘I’m not sure yet.’ The voice of my wolf fades away. What the hell is he talking about?
I glance behind me to check on my friends. I had to drag my poor Beta, Javier, and Gamma, Brad, with me because we had to be in the city for business and didn’t get a hotel, so there’s nowhere else to go. Brad looks somewhat enthused, but Javier seems miserable.
I direct my attention towards the stage, sighing indignantly, but Caitlyn either doesn’t hear or chooses to ignore me.
I lean back in my chair, closing my eyes. The lights are still on, and people continue to file into the theater in what feels like endless droves. Maybe I can sneak in a power nap before this thing starts? Goddess knows I need it.
I could be sleeping in my comfy bed back home; we probably would be back by now if we left straight after the meeting. Instead, I am stuck listening to pro-human propaganda. I find it strange that warlocks are pushing so hard for human liberation, considering they benefit from it. I guess they could be doing it for a higher moral calling, but it’s not the smartest idea to disobey the High Alpha.
Forty years ago, High Alpha Saemel decided to stop living in fear of the humans and started a war, which led to the eventual takeover of the country formerly known as America. The seizure of America led to the creation of what we now call Lupania, formerly North America, after the rebellion spread through the continent. The rest of the world followed suit, with South America becoming Lunaria, Africa becoming Solista, Europe and Asia becoming Silvana, and Australia becoming Caloria.
I control the River Run Pack, the largest pack in the western former United States. The more territory an Alpha has, the bigger their seat at the table, which is why territory wars can be so bloody. I have meetings with other Alphas regularly to settle various disputes and discuss trade. Because my territory is large enough, I’m sometimes called to meet with other very powerful Alphas to discuss national matters and conflicts with the other species. The most prominent voice in those meetings is Saemel since he is the unofficial “president” of Lupania. He is unequivocally the most powerful Alpha there is. Whenever a pack tries to invade his territory, the largest in Lupania by far, he demolishes them with very few casualties to his pack. I don’t know how he does it, but I wouldn’t dare dispute it. Nobody has ever lived to tell his secret, so I won’t go hunting.
Generally, the different continental leaders stay out of each other’s business since they have different ideas of government. Still, everyone mostly follows Lupania’s caste system: Werewolves and warlocks on top, vampires in the middle, and humans at the bottom.
Werewolves consider warlocks as equals simply because magic is no joke, and, as much as we hate to admit it, it would be a massive problem if the warlocks weren’t on our side. There aren’t many of them, and they tend to be individualistic since they aren’t pack-like creatures the way vampires, humans, and werewolves are. But if something threatened them, I’m sure they would put their massive egos aside and band together.
Vampires are only a step up from humans because they also would be best not to piss off. If they started a revolution, we could quickly put it down, but not without a massive loss of wolf life. Warlocks despise the bloodsuckers just as much as we do, but they don’t want to risk being bitten by one of them either.
Humans, though, are practically our slaves. They’re weak, so they have no choice but to work in the cities and create the wealth we use to keep the warlocks happy and ourselves taken care of. Ever since vampires, werewolves, and warlocks stopped hiding from the human world, we realized the power we have over them, and Saemel took advantage of that in one fell swoop.
We mostly leave the humans alone and let them do their own thing. They live their mundane lives without interference from us as long as they stay away from creating weapons. We don’t slaughter them as long as they make what we need and keep their mouths shut about it.
The four species maintain relatively separate domains: Werewolves live pack lifestyles, warlocks their individualistic and luxurious ones, and the vampire clans hide in the shadows. As long as everyone knows their place in the caste system, things run smoothly.
Business has to be conducted every once in a while between humans, vampires, warlocks, and werewolves. Warlocks control the market on anything to do with medicine, which maintains their luxurious lifestyles. The humans are good at working and manufacturing, and as long as they stay in their place, they’ll be fed and, for the most part, left alone.
Often, when werewolf or vampire leaders come into the cities, which are predominantly occupied by humans, they take advantage of the women or pick fights with the men. I guess power breeds that type of cruel behavior. We could have wiped their species out completely, though, so maybe they should be thanking us? But, if we did wipe them out, we’d have to do the work they do, and that would be inconvenient.
Sometimes I think the world probably was better, in some ways, before werewolves made ourselves known to the humans, though. I wasn’t born yet when all of this happened, but my father always told me that before the takeover, fights with other Alphas and vampire clans were all that mattered; nothing else. No human-style politics involved. Now, werewolves, a species that belongs deep in the woods, have to visit concrete jungles like these.
Strangely, some wolves abandon their packs altogether and decide to assimilate into the old human culture, replacing the human CEOs, who are now doing grunt-work alongside their former employees. There are also rogue wolves who live alone in the woods as total anarchists, grouping into small, ferocious packs and killing left and right. Not much happens if a wolf, whether they’re in a pack or not, kills someone. No Alpha rigorously enforces any laws on murdering inter or intra species since it is werewolf culture to fight over territory, same with vampires.
Music plays, jolting me from my nap, and a melody Gladius perks his ears up to glides softly on the air to my ears.
“All of my life, I’ve lived in hiding.”
I lean over to my sister and whisper, “Wait, who is she?”
She rolls her eyes. “Have you not been paying attention this entire time? That’s the human who plays Jules, the main character. She just ran into the hot werewolf, Royce, and she’s singing about it right now.”
“All of my life, I’ve learned to fear you.”
I stare at the girl.
“But when your eyes fall upon mine...”
I follow her with my eyes as she dances across the stage.
“All of my life fades to nothing.”
My heart begins to beat faster as if she’s singing to me.
“And if it’s love that I’m feeling.”
Is that her?
‘Yes, that’s our mate’, he answers
“I wonder if you feel it too?”
I whisper to myself, “Oh fuck.”
My sister leans over, “What’d you say?”
“Nothing.” My breath quivers as I breathe the word out.
She can’t be our mate. Since when has a wolf ever been mates with a human?
“Is it possible that a wolf such as you...”
‘Never. Never in history’, Gladius remarks.
“Could love a human such as me?”
‘The Moon Goddess wouldn’t do this without a reason’, he reassures.
This has to be a mistake.
“All of my life, I have hated your kind.”
We’ll have to reject her.
‘No!’ Gladius protests.
“Cried for days and for nights over the blood that we’ve shed, yet...”
What do you mean no? We can’t mate with a human!
‘She’s our mate! She’s ours!’ He screams.
“All of my life, my heart was never beating.”
She is gorgeous. A lovely voice, too.
‘I know, she’s different. Strong’, he affirms.
“Until now, and it beats for you.”
Humans have never been strong. That’s just the mate bond talking.
‘Give our mate a chance’, he begs, his voice desperate.
The music ends, so I clap, and my sister beams. “Wow! She’s so talented!”
I nod my head to appease her, my forehead creasing. What the hell am I going to do? My wolf is right, I can’t reject her. My heart aches for my mate, every part of me has since I was a kid. I’ve been dreaming about meeting her for so long, and now I finally have! I can’t throw her away. There must be some bigger plan or intention the Moon Goddess has in store for me. I can’t deny Her power, and I can’t deny my mate.
Plus, just like a wolf, she will submit to me, and we will be happy. If anything, her being a human will please my wolf even more as it will be easier to make her submit. In fact, it might be a fun challenge.
I watch the rest of the musical, my eyes focusing intently on her until they perform the final number and all the actors and actresses bow, and I make sure to clap loudly for my mate.
I turn my head to Caitlyn, my heart racing. “We should go backstage now, right?”
She nods, arching her eyebrow inquisitively. “Why so eager?”
I know she’ll see right through any lie I try to tell, so I answer candidly, “The human who played the lead, Gladius says she’s my mate.”
Caitlyn’s mouth drops to the floor. “What!”
She squeals, jumping up and down, and I quickly attempt to silence her so she won’t cause a scene as she rambles on, “I can’t believe bringing you to a musical has completely altered the course of your life! What do you say, big brother? What do you say!”
I roll my eyes and sarcastically reply, “Thank you.”
We walk towards a small, brightly lit room about the size of my kitchen. Albeit, I have a large kitchen. After Caitlyn flashes some passes, we make our way into the room, and I spot her immediately. It’s almost as if my eyes gravitate towards her the same way the moon moves by the earth’s pull. She is the earth, and I am the moon; how appropriate.
She’s in street clothes, currently finishing wiping the stage makeup off her face, discarding the towel as she turns towards us. She’s even more heavenly up close.
The director blocks my view as he walks up to my sister and me and exclaims, “So glad you could make it, and you brought your Alpha brother too!”
I smile politely, trying to look around him to catch a glimpse of her again. “I’d like to meet the star of the show, if that’s okay?”
“Of course! Caelynn! Alpha Erik wants to meet you!”
“Alpha who?” She calls, out of sight.
He rolls his eyes and shouts, “Just come here!”
She reappears, pushing through a crowd of people to come towards us, smiling in a way that almost seems genuine, but I can tell is fake.
She recites, “Thank you for coming to the show!”
Caitlyn exclaims, “You were amazing!”
Caitlyn elbows me hard in my ribs, but the lump in my throat blocks the words. I’ve never been speechless before. My mate being human is a bit of a letdown, but she’s gorgeous, so maybe it’s not too devastating after all?
Her long, wavy blonde locks fall just past her slender shoulders. Her eyes are slate-colored, a beautiful light gray with specks of amber in them. She’s only about five foot five, short compared to my six foot two frame, which makes her look so fucking adorable. She has tan skin, doe eyes, and plump sugar pink lips. Her body is curvy at the hips with quite an ass on her, but a smaller waist and chest. Her breasts look like they’d fit perfectly in my hands, but, holy fuck, I shouldn’t be thinking about that when I’m meeting her for the first time. Yet, all I want to do is put my hands on her gorgeous hips and kiss her all over. She is a vision of perfection, everything I could have asked for in a woman.
Well, except for being a human, but I can live with that.
She waves her hand in front of my face. “Hello? Anybody home?”
I shake my head rapidly, shoving the indecent thoughts away so I can sound coherent. “Sorry, you’re just way more beautiful than I expected.”
I wince. That wasn’t good. Why would I say that?
She arches her eyebrow. “Should I be offended?”
“No! I mean, I knew my mate would be pretty, but I never thought-”
She interrupts, “Hold on. Mate?”
I groan, sliding my hand down the side of my face. Wow, I am doing this all wrong.
‘You’ve got that right.’
I take a deep breath, clearing my mind of my nervous daze. “Sorry, my bad. You know I’m a werewolf and all, Alpha actually, we have mates.”
She nods, looking at me as if she thinks I’m a bit nutty, and I can’t blame her for thinking that at this point. She is making me act a little out of the ordinary.
“Yeah, I know that.”
I wrap my arm around her waist, my body acting before my mind can stop it, pulling her close to me.
“Well, you’re mine.”