1. Coming back
Darkness and cold surround me. Where am I? The last thing I remember is the Moon Goddess granting my request to return. So why is it pitch black? I try to move my arm and succeed, but something catches it above me. My hand skims over the material, and it doesn’t take long for me to realize that it’s timber. I’m in a coffin, and they probably had to bury me. Instead of panicking, I feel an unusual calm about the situation. I channel all the power I have inside me before punching a fist through the material and getting tons of soil in my face. Okay, maybe I should think about my plan a little more thoroughly before proceeding. If I can make a hole the right size and prepare to climb out of it right when the soil falls, I should get out of this. I use my elbow and get upright when the dirt starts to fall.
It’s a struggle to climb up through the damp earth while trying not to breathe in, which will result in me suffocating from dirt. The crispy breeze of the wind caresses my hand when I push through, and shortly after, the rest of my body follows. I take a deep breath and breathe in the crisp air, much like when you’re under the water for too long. My body is empty of energy once I get up, ending in me lying down on the ground, breathing heavily, which isn’t very strange, given that I’ve been dead for several days. Oddly enough, my body cooperates with me after it was stiff and cold when my soul was elsewhere. Small stars adorn the black night sky—thousands of tiny lights that guide the lost one. Thank you, goddess, for bringing me back, I think for myself, and I swear that the stars shine stronger than before for a moment.
The energy begins to recover in my body; even so, I choose to stay in the dewy grass. I may be dirty and probably stinking, but I’m also happy about what I’ll have the opportunity to experience life with my family now! In the end, I stand up and try to brush off the worst dirt. My hand lands on my stomach, and I gently caress it with a smile on my lips. You are my stars in the dark, I think, and with my werewolf senses, I can feel them moving inside my womb.
Good Evening, Aleida, says a voice inside my head, and at first, I take for granted that it’s Lisa, but the voice sounds different.
Good evening, strange voice, I answer, and the other part chuckles.
It’s good to see you; my name is Elisa, answers the voice.
Where’s Lisa? She’s mated with my mates, and I don’t think their wolves want anyone else, I say uncertainly, hoping not to offend her, but she only chuckles at me.
I am Lisa. Only the more substantial part of her, since we’re going to transform together. Just like me, you’re going to be a more vital human part than you were before.
When are we going to transform then?
Right now, my dear. Don’t worry; I’ll be here with you the whole time. We’ll do this together.
Won’t this hurt my pups?
No, they’re stronger than ordinary pups. Besides, they have the moon goddess’s blessing. Start by taking off your clothes unless you want to barge into the packhouse naked.
I do as she’s telling me, and a tingling feeling is spreading in my body. It feels freeing but also a bit scary. What if I hurt someone by accident? I’ve been a werewolf my whole life, and my father has taught me everything I know. Being a hybrid is entirely different, and I don’t remember any hybrids except Victor, and he’s back in hell.
Don’t be afraid. Let it happen. Relax and do the same thing you do when you turn into your altered self, but with more pushing through.
I bend down and stand on all fours on the ground, prepared to transform me. At first, it hurts remarkably, much like the first time I shifted to werewolf, though ten times worse. Elisa tells me encouraging things inside my head, and eventually, I open my eyes to look at myself. There’s a creek a bit away from where I am that I move toward to see my reflection. I’m surprised when I see my size; I’m at least twice as big as I was before, and my eyes are more significant; everything is massive on me. It’s still clear that it’s me; neither the fur nor the eyes have changed color, only the size. The hesitancy sneaks into my mind even though I try to avoid letting it in. What if I scare others with my size and what I am? Elisa must have read either my facial expression or my thoughts because she immediately knows what needs to be said.
You’re going to scare other creatures in the beginning. But it’s up to you to decide if you want to continue to frighten or make them understand that you aren’t dangerous unless you need to be.
I nod and understand what she means. It’s all about respect and compassion; I’m still the same person I was before I died, except that I’m now more robust. But my qualities and outlook on the world are the same. I’m taking some unsteady steps forward—still unsure how to move my substantial body in this form. At first, I stumble a little, but the more I move, the easier it becomes. I feel a sudden urge to run and speed through the woods. My long fur flutters in the wind, and I laugh in my mind, happy to do what I love. My paws thump on the ground and quickly lead me across rocks, logs, and streams. I smell a deer nearby and immediately slow down to avoid scaring it away. Slowly I move towards the direction the scent comes from, and in a clearing, it stands there, large and elegant.
I sneak up and jump on it to insert my fangs into the neck of the animal. Even though I’m an animal, I’m not particularly eager to inflict unnecessary suffering on my prey. In the world we live in, there’s always the same motto: “the strongest survive, and the strong overpower the weaker.” At the moment, I’m the strongest creature on this planet, and I can choose to torment my prey if I want to, but I see no point in it. Everyone has a right to live their lives, and I’m not going to torture a poor animal just because I’m going to eat it. I jump up and down a couple of times—happy about my catch before tearing the body’s meat. My stomach gratefully receives the food. Rattling noise in the bushes a bit away makes me react; I look in the direction and expect someone to jump me.
Instead, a little wolf comes out of them and seems frightened of me. To not frighten the little one further, I sit down on my hind legs and tilt my head to the side. It takes a few gentle steps towards me and shifts to human. The boy standing in front of me can’t be more than a few years old; if he can shift at such an early age, this indicates that he’s the son of an alpha. He sits down the same way as me, a bit away, and hangs with his head to show resignation. I get up slowly and walk up to him to smell. Just as I thought, this is an alphas child. Smoothly I shift back to my human form and smile at the boy. He’s still not looking at me.
“Hello, my name is Aleida. What’s your name?” I ask softly, and this time he looks at me.
“Sebastian,” he answers with a quivering voice.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Sebastian. Are you lost?”
“Uh-huh,” he answers and nods.
“Can you tell me where you’re coming from? Maybe I can help you back there?”
“I was visiting the Winter blood pack; they’ve buried their mate and our queen,” he mumbles and looks sad.
It makes me happy to meet the people I haven’t known and see that they genuinely care if I live or die. This boy shows real sadness about his queen’s death. My maternal instincts take over, and I gently caress his cheek. With that simple movement, I show him who I am and don’t pose any danger. His eyes light up in a mixture of joy and recognition. He rubs himself in his eyes as if he can’t believe that his queen is squatting in front of him. When he realizes I’m honest, he smiles and hugs me like we’ve known each other all our lives.
“It’s really you!” he exclaims happily with big eyes.
“Yes, it’s me. Are you hungry?”
His stomach rumbles in response, and he looks ashamed. I chuckle before motioning for him to shift and eat some of the deer I caught. When he turns, I do too, and we eat beside each other. He looks like an animal who hasn’t eaten for years. When we finish, he shifts back and looks tired. I nuzzle his hand and show him my back, making him understand that I’ll carry him. At first, he stands there, looking uncertain. But when I nuzzle him again with my snout and licks his face, he giggles and climbs up. When I’m sure he’s holding on, I take off through the woods.
The closer we get to pack the house, the more smells I know. There’s a risk that problems will arise because I’m not the same wolf; I also don’t have the same scent anymore. It’s similar but not the same. Also, I notice that if I shift several times over a short period, it also becomes more difficult to change back to human. Strangely enough, we don’t run into any warriors at the border, but I can step in without anyone bothering. We approach the house by leaps and bounds, and I feel more content the closer we come. The back door next to the packhouse is open, and I decide to step inside with the boy secure on my back. The house is full of various alphas and their members. Many people run around and strategize, probably looking for the boy.
When they discover me and that I have him on my back, the people start to shift. They don’t recognize me and growl menacingly at me. I don’t roar back but bend down so the boy can get off me. It isn’t surprising that they don’t recognize me; on the other hand, my mates, brothers, and friends don’t realize that it’s me. Kian and Miliano are ready to fly on me. Just as I watch their bodies move toward me, the boy runs forward and stands in front of me protectively. My mates shift back.
“Don’t hurt her!” Sebastian exclaims.
“Why wouldn’t we hurt her, kid? She’s a strange creature on our lands,” Kian says while looking at me.
Sebastian’s mom comes up and quickly takes him away from me. He fights against her grip and yells at them not to touch me. His fight is admirable, but he can’t stop them, and I don’t have the power to shift back yet. My loved ones jump on me and bite me in different places; I don’t fight back.
“Don’t hurt her! She’s the queen!” Sebastian yells, and everyone stops for a second.
“The queen is dead, don’t let her put lies in your head, boy!” his father says and slaps him lightly in his head, which makes me growl protectively.
I don’t have time to see it coming before the boy’s father attacks me. He bites me in my flank and claws at me; still, I don’t fight back. I howl from the pain, and Sebastian jumps in front of his father, who stops immediately when his son is standing in between us.
“I said, don’t touch her!” Sebastian snarls and then looks at me. “It’s okay; I will protect you. You can shift back, don’t be afraid.”
At first, nothing happens, but Sebastian doesn’t give up but continues to give me words of encouragement and pat my fur. Slowly my shift starts, and it’s more painful now than it was the first time I did it. In the end, I succeed. I breathe heavily and grunt at the pain they all have given me.
“She doesn’t look like the queen; how can we know that it’s her?” someone asks with disgust, obviously not trusting me.
Suddenly I see my boys watching me. They start to crawl towards me with happy faces, but no one seems to notice. No one except my sons trust me here, and I don’t blame them; my hair is blonde now for some reason. Alex and Eli stand up together to walk to me slowly.
“Mama!” Alexander hurries towards me, and I take him in my arms.
“Hello, baby. I’ve missed you so much!” I exclaim happily with tears streaming down my cheeks.
I have my boys in my lap, hugging them tightly, afraid that the others might kill me any time. This may be the very last time I hold them in my arms since the others don’t recognize me anymore. My grandma is walking towards me with a suspicious look before talking to me.
“Aleida, eres realmente tú?”
‘Aleida, is it really you?’
“Sí, abuela. Estoy en casa otra vez y esta vez no te dejaré,” I answer with a smile.
‘Yes, grandma. I’m home again, and this time I won’t leave.’
She walks over to one of my mates’ pack members to whisper something. The young woman looks baffled and confused. We’re all waiting for her to translate what my grandma just told her; I know they won’t believe me.
“She says that this is Aleida Mendez, daughter of the alpha and luna from the Rose moon pack,” she says like she can’t believe it.
Killian and Henry slowly walk up to me. I don’t know how to react to all of this. My family and friends did attack me, I don’t hold it against them, but it still hurts my heart that they can’t see it’s me. Maybe they’ve come to rest with the fact that I died and wouldn’t come back.
“Hi, sunshine,” Killian says and group-hugs me with Henry.
I hug them back and feel tears in my eyes, happy ones. When we release each other, Nathan and Jason are standing next in line to hug me. I give my sons to their godfathers and immediately hug my brothers close to me.
“I missed you so much,” I whisper while they cry into my shoulders.
Finally, it’s just my mates left. They’ve fallen on their knees with open mouths and tear-streaked cheeks. I stand up with a hiss and stumble to them. My legs give out underneath me when I reach them. Out of habit, I put my hands on each cheek and smile. When they look into my eyes, they realize that it’s me and throw themselves all over me.
“Oh, baby. It’s really you!” Kian exclaims with tears on his cheeks.
“Yeah, it is,” I say and kiss them.
“I have so many questions...” Killian says, and I smile at him.
“All in due time, but I would ask Sebastian to come here.”
The boy happily walks up to me, and I crouch down to his level to hug him. I caress his hair slowly and put my thumb over his forehead—the others gasps when the both of us glow until I release him.
“Thank you for believing me, Sebastian. You’re a good boy,” I say and smile at him.
“What did you do to him?” his mother asks.
“I blessed him.”
“What does that mean?”
“That means that if he ever needs my help, we’re linked, and he can tell me. The distance and the fact that we don’t belong in the same pack won’t matter. He’s deserved it for being such a brave little wolf,” I answer and ruffle his hair.
“I want to apologize for hurting you; I didn’t mean to. My wolf panicked when my son walked towards you; please forgive me,” the alpha from earlier says and falls to his knees.
“There’s no need to apologize for protecting your son, but don’t you ever touch him like that ever again.”
“Good, then there’s no problem.”
“I’m sorry if I’m overstepping, but I need to know... How come you’re back?” Sebastian’s mother asks, and the whole room fills with anticipation.
“Because I’m the moon goddess blessed hybrid,” I answer with a smirk.