Chapter 1: A New House to Call Home.
The day I stopped running was the day I found a new life worth fighting for. I found hope in a man who gave me the strength and courage to face the onslaught of the douche bag who made my life a living hell. My own fucking grandfather.
I was thirteen when my life changed.
When I woke up that morning, two days after my birthday, it felt as if there was something prowling around in my chest. A subtle whisper kept distracting me throughout my magical lesson later that day. My mom had just started teaching me a reflection spell when fate threw me a curveball. A heart-stopping pain floored me, while a searing burn flashed across my body. My bones began cracking, rearranging my body into a macabre version of a transformer. Before I could truly grasp what was happening, I began morphing into a wolf, right under the watchful gaze of my grandfather. The moment my eyes met his, my grandfather’s love was replaced by utter hatred. Luckily, for me, before my grandfather could react, my mom ran over to me and grabbed onto my fur before she teleported us away from my grandfather’s fury.
Since that day, we have been on the run with only the clothes we wore on our asses.
Eight years later, I pulled into a driveway in front of an unassuming house on the edge of a town called Shadowdale. We had to pack up our old lives in New York City, when my aunt warned us that my grandfather had tracked us down again. Two days later, his henchmen found the deserted apartment we had been living in for the last year. Now the painstaking task repeats itself: we have to begin all over again.
I killed the engine of the SUV and climbed out of the car. So did my mom. My little sister, however, was asleep in the backseat, dreaming sweet dreams while cuddling with her pink, fluffy elephant, Dumbo. I stretched out and breathed in the fresh air while twisting around to take in the surrounding forest’s beauty. The last days of summer still linger in the streaks of sunlight that bled through the green canopy warming my face. It was peaceful and lucky for me; we had no nosy neighbors to worry about hammering our door down. My wolf was going to enjoy running around this forest.
“Come on, Nate. Let’s shake a leg!” Fenrus growled longingly in my head as he stared off into the distance. The siren call of the forest beckoned us.
“Don’t you even dare,” my mom said. Her brown eyes bore into me. “I need your help packing out the car and you’ll have to go into town to get groceries for the house.”
I pouted before shaking my head disappointedly. ”Sorry, Fenrus. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to stretch our legs properly.” Fenrus whimpered. ”Don’t be like that. Tomorrow’s another day.”
My mom cupped her hands on my cheeks and drew my attention away from the forest. “I know you want to go for a run and explore your brand-new territory but—”
“I know. There will be plenty of time later.” I chuckled, hugging her.
“Thank you, my boy.” She patted me lovingly on my shoulder. “Get your sister out of the car while I unlock the front door.” She retrieved her leather handbag from the SUV and walked up to the front porch of the house. With a twist of her hand, the door magically opened with a click and she disappeared into the house.
I walked up to where my baby sister slept. She was turning eight in a few months. It gutted me to the core; she spent most of her childhood on the run. She never had a normal life and never would have one, thanks to me. I quietly opened the car door and retrieved her from her car seat. She let out a soft whimper as she wrapped her small arms around my neck. Dumbo slipped from her grasp but I was able to catch the plush toy before it fell on the ground. I walked into the house just as my mother had cast a spell to remove a thick layer of dust that had accumulated on every surface. A trail of dust slipped through one of the open living room windows.
I turned to my mom. “And here Mom said that cleaning the house was a major pain in the tailbone.”
She clucked her tongue and rolled her eyes at me. “Stop being a smart-mouth. Take your sister upstairs and tuck her in. I’ll be up in a minute.”
I nodded and walked up the stairs. The first room to my right as I reached the landing would be mine. I always did this as a precaution. If my grandfather’s lackeys ever attacked us in our home, I’d be able to act as a shield, giving my sister and mother the time to escape. I turned left and walked down the corridor to the next bedroom. It was a cozy room with a queen-sized bed propped over a large window. A vanity stood next to the bed. The room wasn’t anything special but I knew that within a month my mom would replace most of the furniture to make Lilly’s room truly hers. Walking over to the bed, I pulled the lime-green covers off with a swift movement of my finger and gently placed the adorable princess on the bed. I pulled the bedding back up to my sister’s chin while stuffing her precious toy into her embrace. She turned to her side and snuggled with her stuffed elephant. I bent over and kissed her on the forehead before heading down to the kitchen.
The kitchen was large enough not to strangle each other for breathing space. Most of the appliances were brand new with granite countertops. The previous owners painted the walls in a pastel blue color. Not bad... Blue was my favorite color. My mom sat at the small dining table in front of a large paned window overlooking a small garden while she wrote a note. She rummaged through her bag and pulled out her purse, removing a credit card.
As I approached her, she rose from the table and handed me her card and note. “There are all the things we need for the moment until we’ve settled in.”
“Fine, Mom. See ya later.” I turned around and walked out of the house.
Approaching the SUV, I kinetically opened the driver’s door and climbed in. With the turn of the ignition, I reversed out of the driveway and made my way to the local grocery store.
I opened my window, allowing the fresh air of the forest to blow through my hair and face. I’m such a dog. This, however, only lasted a few minutes until I entered the local pack’s territory. I nearly gagged as their scent permeated the air. I quickly rolled up the window. Damn, that was nasty! Bloody fur ball groupies. As I made my way through the town, I quickly realized that it wasn’t as small as I thought it would be. Shadowdale was a werewolf town. However, even I had a hard time believing that the fuzz balls had the capability of running such an impressive operation without the humans becoming aware of them.
“You’re becoming soft,” Fenrus growled.
“I’m just impressed. It doesn’t mean I want to be one of them. Just imagine what they’ll do if they find out that I’m wondering amongst them?”
“You really have a death wish, don’t you?”
“Come on. We’re completely safe.” I touched the black, gemstone necklace that hung around my neck. I enchanted the onyx stone to hide my scent from other werewolves. To them, I’m just another mortal oblivious to their surroundings.
Fenrus hated the idea that I was suppressing my scent, but without the necklace, the local werewolf pack would have hunted us down and killed us. I was a Greyback, a lone wolf, and an outcast. To the general werewolf packs, I was a terrible threat to them because lone wolves were generally stronger than an alpha. We had to be, we didn’t have others to rely on.
“Would you stop pacing around like that? You’re making me twitchy,” I said.
“Really?” Fenrus scoffed. “If you hadn’t realized, we are in enemy territory!”
The hair on my forearms stood on end and my heart started jumping up and down in my chest. I hoped that the necklace was doing its job because I wasn’t looking forward to the consequences. Even if I was stronger than most werewolves, I couldn’t take on a whole pack at once.
“Just chill, will ya? You’re not making the situation better by chewing my nerves raw.”
Slowly but surely, my grip on the steering wheel became more relaxed. ”Thanks. Now let’s get the supplies Mom asked for and get back home.”
A short drive later, I pulled up at the local grocery store and climbed out of the SUV. I made my way inside, took a trolley, and began my hunt for the items on my mom’s wish list. After half an hour, I walked out of the store with my goodies in hand and started loading them into the trunk. Before I could slam shut the trunk’s door, four distinct scents pulled my head to the right. An over-the-top, cherry-red, Ford Mustang GT convertible took up the space next to mine. Three guys and a girl, roughly a year or two younger than me, got out of the car. They were werewolves. Arg! Just my luck! I must have looked at them for a long time because one of the guys, a cocky asshit, glared at me.
“What are you staring at asshole?” the little shit said.
A smirk spread across my face as I smirked at him. However, I ignored the troublemaker and walked over to the driver’s side door. When I opened the door, the loudmouth rushed in and slammed it shut.
“Kill him.” Fenrus rumbled inside of my head.
“Don’t be stupid. We can’t reveal ourselves here, remember? Mom said we had to keep our heads down.”
The guy stepped up to me.
“How cute. I would love to rip the cockiness out of him.”
The cockhead glared up at me.” I talked to you. Don’t ignore—”
“Don’t start that shit again, Riley!” The girl with a caramel-brown, pixie haircut rushed over and pulled him away.
“Sorry about that, my stupid brother doesn’t know what’s good for him sometimes,” The girl huffed out while she dragged the idiot named Riley off into the store while the others followed, chuckling along.
I opened the door again and climbed in, not before I caught a glimpse of the lumbering giant with the honey-brown, wavy hair and chestnut eyes. The hunk stared with a transfixed gaze at me before he disappeared out of sight. A ripple of delight shot down my arms. Damn, he’s hot! I fumbled with the ignition before reversing out of the parking space.
Arg! No! Don’t go there Nate. You know it will only end up in a disaster.
I then drove off, but not before I stole a last glance at the shop. If only life were fair.
I stared transfixed at the silver Land Rover as it reversed out of the parking lot. The scent of the cute guy was intoxicating, yet familiar to me, tugging at my heartstrings. I wouldn’t mind getting his number if we ever met again. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to move past my break-up and maybe it was time to move on.
“Yo! Thanos! Get your giant ass over here!” Riley cried.
“What did he just say to us?” Bane snapped inside of my head. My wolf tried to claw its way out to give the idiot a proper thrashing.
“Don’t bother, Bane. He’s not worth it.”
I sauntered over to my friends and slapped Riley against the head for his rude remark. I then grabbed him by his t-shirt and growled at him. “Remember who you’re talking to.”
“Wow! Big guy. Meant no disrespect.” Riley wiggled him free of his grip and scoffed. “Chill, will ya?”
“Not if you’re acting like a douche in front of my Alpha.” Maisie punched Riley in the stomach.
He fell to the floor, gasping for air while they walked off toward the snack isle. I chuckled, striding past him. Leave it up to my beta to put him in his place. Maisie grabbed a few bags of crisps off the shelves and threw them in the trolley.
“Why are you so quiet, Adam? Did the young sexy human steal your breath away?” Her chocolate brown eyes stared mischievously at me, gauging my response.
I avoided her gaze and smirked while throwing several cans of Pringles into the trolley that my second beta pushed around. Tyson has been my best friend since kindergarten. He didn’t talk much, but when he did, his words were golden.
“Hey! Fuckboy! Get your scrawny white ass over here!” Tyson mocked Riley.
Maisie burst into a hysterical fit of laughter, disappearing around the corner.
I chuckled and patted my friend on the shoulder. “Good one.”
Riley caught up with them and turned to Tyson. “You think you’re so funny, don’t you?”
Tyson lunged forward and growled, causing Riley to flinch and stumble into a tower of paper towels. “Stay down, bitch.” He then followed Maisie as she continued to throw groceries into the trolley.
For the rest of their shopping spree, Riley scowled up a storm, staying well away from Tyson. Even though they were both betas, Tyson was a head taller and much broader than Riley was. Dark, tall, and handsome. Tyson was the exotic caramel god that made most of the college girls swoon before his feet. But as long as I have known my friend, he had no interest in any girls other than Maisie. She was his goddess, the one that made his life matter. I wondered when they would eventually imprint on each other. I haven’t seen a couple more in love.
Maisie walked up to Tyson and landed a gentle kiss on him. It quickly turned into a kissing war, as they flailed about the aisle. They were unscrupulous exhibitionists, flaunting their romance in everyone’s faces. I haven’t gone a day without blushing out of embarrassment and it was sometimes difficult to peel them off each other.
“Hey, get a room! There are children here,” I said.
Maisie threw him a dirty glance but then her eyes turned mischievous. “Why don’t you track down that sexy guy and invite him to the party?”
Before I could get my two cents in, Riley chimed in. “Hell no! That asshole wasn’t invited. He’s not even from our town.”
“Are you threatened by him?” Maisie asked.
Riley scoffed. “Hah! You’re really funny, sis. You should get a job as a comedian.” He then walked over to the alcohol section. “He’s just human. There’s no competition.”
“He’s better looking than you, brother—those black, unkempt hair, copper eyes, and lips you can suck on for days...”
Tyson scowled at her and said, “Should I be worried?”
She turned to him. “Oh no, boo. He might be sexy as hell, but I only want you.” She wrapped her arms around Tyson and started kissing him again.
Riley walked over to them carrying four bottles of tequila and placed them in the trolley.
“What are you doing?” I asked him.
“Buying booze for the party, what else?”
I picked up the bottles and shoved them back into his arms. “No, we aren’t. You’re under age and I’m not buying.”
Riley puffed up like a toad. “Come on, man!”
“No, and that’s final,” I said in Alpha’s command voice. Riley submitted and slumped back in the aisle, placing the bottles back on the shelf.
“Fuckin’ killjoy,” Riley muttered.