Jaelynn hadn’t spoken to her mother in over ten years; when she received the call, her mother had passed away. Now Jaelynn sat in a diner in some random drive-thru town, drinking her coffee, thinking what a shit show the place was. She couldn’t wait to be back home in California. It was her first time in Oregon, but so far, all she had seen were small towns she had long escaped.
The diner had a total of three guests. Perhaps four guests, if the lady who couldn’t sit still, wearing a goodwill fur coat, a black leather skirt with her ass hanging out of them, and buffed up black knee-high leather boots, has a plus one.
The lady, whose roots were showing in her bleached hair, chewing on the inside of her lip, couldn’t stop looking out the window and constantly fidgeting with her fingers and skirt. She would stand, sit, stand again, go to the bathroom, come back, sit outside, come in, sit, and stand. It was no wonder the lady’s cheap boots were scuffed up.
Occasionally, they would make eye contact, but Jaelynn wasn’t scared if the lady knew she was watching her. If the dumpster Barbie didn’t want the attention, she needed to calm down.
The waitress was a robust Mexican lady with a thick black mane braided down her back to her butt. The waitress completely ignored the fidgety woman as if it was standard behavior. Instead, with a plate full of food in her hand, she walked to an older gentleman. His peppered beard covered most of his face, and he was abnormally skinny. His bony hands reached for the plate in the waitress’s hand. She scolded him, warning him it was hot, and sat it down in front of him. She returned to the kitchen, and he began to pile ketchup onto his hash browns.
The man looked as if he had insomnia and suffered a lonely life that dragged him to have breakfast, all alone, early in the morning before the sun even rose. He brought the fork to his mouth and ate as if even the food tasted dull in his life.
The third was another man asleep in the farthest booth. He ordered a coffee and toast—the two cheapest things on the menu. He had taken a bite of his toast before passing out on the table. Jaelynn imagined he had some pet flies with him, though she couldn’t see any.
She imagined he smelled terrible. The idea was solidified when the lady with the fur coat came out of the bathroom for the fifth time and scrunched her nose when passing by him, causing her Barbie pink lips to become a tiny lipless line on her face.
Jaelynn was torn from her train of thought when the waitress approached. “Another top off?” She nodded her head and put out her cup. It was a clean ceramic white mug with black coffee stains from not being too careful.
Gosh, she missed home. She had sworn she would avoid places that reminded her of her childhood—anything lowlife-like.
As the waitress finished filling Jaelynn’s cup, the cowbell on the door rang, informing everyone there was a new guest.
“Welcome! Please find a seat anywhere,” the waitress sang over her shoulder. Out of boredom, Jaelynn turned to judge the new patron.
Jaelynn thought to herself as she watched the man walk in. He wore nice branded dark leather cowboy boots that fit his large feet well. His dark jeans, bleached in some areas due to hard work, fitted his thick thighs and tush, causing Jaelynn to blush upon noticing. He had a nice clean shirt and well-groomed facial beard that added emphasis to his cheekbones and made his brown eyes noticeable for miles.
He was heart-stopping attractive, and Jaelynn felt her heart skip a few beats. The waitress, however, didn’t seem phased by his Demi-god-like looks. Instead, she went about her business.
His eyes caught Jaelynn’s, and she dodged staring too long at him. This time actually afraid of what the other person might think.
“Daren!” the fidgety lady screamed and practically leaped into his arms.
Figures, she thought with a tinge of jealousy and went back to sipping her coffee.
She watched as the story unfolded. Daren pushed the woman off him almost immediately and looked in Jaelynn’s way as if to say they weren’t in an intimate relationship. Jaelynn rose an eyebrow and took another sip of her black coffee. Sorry, buddy, can’t fool me.
Then they sat at the woman’s booth, and he called the waitress to get them something to eat and drink. The lady’s buffed-up black boots clambered on the floor as she fidgeted.
Since he arrived, she hadn’t stopped staring at him—as if begging him to take away her pain. Jaelynn had no doubt she was also staring at his sculptured lips that were even plumper than most women’s or his eyes hidden behind thick, dark eyelashes.
They spoke in very hushed tones. Are they talking about something illegal? Jaelynn allowed her mind to wander at the thought of this fidgety girl killing someone and now calling Daren to be her knight in shining armor.
They spoke for only a few seconds. The waitress hadn’t even had time to bring them their drinks when he got up abruptly and walked outside. The lady began to tear up a bit, but quickly wiped them away.
Outside, Daren was making a phone call. He had one hand in his pocket and was kicking around gravel on the sidewalk. Jaelynn had a perfect view of his profile through the window. Daren was still in mid-call when he looked into the window as if searching for her and felt very satisfied to see that she was indeed watching him. He gave her a cocky smile, and Jaelynn quickly turned away.
She felt a sudden need to flee the awkwardness and hurried to the bathroom. She passed by the man, still dead asleep, and she scrunched her nose. Yep, he had to have some pet flies somewhere. She quickly used the bathroom, cleaned up, and then went out to pay.
“All set?” The waitress asked as she dashed to the cash register.
“Yeah, can you throw an extra 20 on my tab and give that man a proper meal? Either for today or when he needs it?” Jaelynn asked, tossing her head to the man sleeping near the bathroom. Paying for others’ meals when she went out was not uncommon. When she was younger, she had found many warm-hearted strangers who had made moments of her childhood survivable.
The waitress’s eyes lit up with a smile. “Ah, Por su puesto!” She said out of excitement and a half to herself. “Of course, that’s very kind of you!” She said, swiping Jaelynn’s card.
Jaelynn thanked the waitress and began to walk to her car, breathing in the fresh, cool air.
“Where are you headed off to?” A strong voice came with the ring of the cowbell as it opened again.
Jaelynn turned to see the handsome man following her outside. It kissed her ego that he came to talk to her, but… something was off. He seemed different from when he first walked into the diner.
“Home,” she said with a polite smile and turned to continue walking to her car.
“Where’s that?” He asked, and she almost froze. She was thankful she didn’t. She felt an urgent need to get to her car before he caught up.
“A long way from here.” She said over her shoulder. She walked as quickly as she could, without causing alarm, and went to open the door. There was enough space between her and the man; she should have been able to get into the car and close the door before she was in any real danger. Should have…
As she went to open the door, it was quickly closed by the man’s sizable tan hand. She noticed the odd faded tattoo on his hand. Just below his knuckles were four dots and an upside-down triangle. Near his thumb was another tattoo that looked like the different cycles the moon goes through. A startled scream snuck out of her lips. She promptly bit them shut and looked up.
“Can I at least get your name?” He asked, peering down at her.
She searched his eyes. They seemed glazed over. Did he take a hit of something while she was in the bathroom? Was that why he was here? To meet his tweaker drug dealer and get high? Maybe even enjoy kidnapping and raping the pretty girl in a diner all alone too early in the morning for anyone to notice.
She began to tremble but forced herself to speak. “Sasha,” she lied, using her best friend’s name back home.
He breathed in; while thinking about her name. Then let out a burly grunt. “Can I get your number, Sasha?”
Jaelynn freaked. She wanted to say no but didn’t see it going well if she did. “Sure,” she said and went inside her purse for a pen and paper.
He laughed at her, causing her to flinch in response. “What are we in? The 90s? Just put it directly into my phone. No need to waste paper.”
She nervously smiled up at him and reached for his phone. “Right,” she giggled nervously. She did little to conceal her shaking hands as she typed her number. Where there was a one in her number, she purposely put a two. “Here you are.”
Jaelynn knew he knew she was shaking. As he took the phone from her, he placed his big burly hand over hers. It did little to calm her nerves. “You alright?”
“Yeah,” her voice stuttered. “Just so much colder than inside.” He raised an eyebrow at her. She watched as he hit a few buttons on his phone, and her heart dropped deep in her stomach when she realized he was calling her. He raised the phone to his ear, and even from where she was standing, she could hear the tone of the lady’s voice telling him, “I’m sorry, the number you had dialed is currently out of service. Please hang up and try again.”
Fuck me, she thought. “That’s strange.” She said, urgently reaching for his phone again.
“Are you trying to give me the wrong number?” He asked with a bit of frustration in his voice. Jaelynn almost wanted to cry; she just wanted him to leave her alone.
“No,” she laughed nervously. Daren wasn’t that stupid, but she hoped he was. She pretended to look over the number again. “Oh, look here. I accidentally put a two instead of a one,” she said as she showed him the error. She quickly fixed it and gave it back to him. “Here, try that.”
He gave her a questioning look as he tried to dial again. This time, her phone vibrated in her bag. She fished it out, showed it was his number, then answered it. “See, it’s me,” she said on the phone, speaking a beat faster than before.
His heavy gaze stared down at her. “I should go… I have a long drive ahead of me.”
He suddenly reached over her without saying anything, causing her to flinch. She closed her eyes shut until she heard the clink of her car door opening. “Drive safe.”
Jaelynn nervously smiled and half nodded her head as she took her moment to flee.
“I’ll be calling you,” He said, raising the phone.
“I’ll be answering,” she nervously responded as she tried to rip the door from his hand. The car door didn’t even budge. What now?
“Your seat belt.” He made a pointed gesture to her.
Jaelynn took a quick short breath as she buckled up and prayed he would let her go. She looked up at him, and he gave his nod of approval. Then he closed her door. Jaelynn smiled back at him as he gave her a wave goodbye. It took no time to lock the doors. She fumbled to put her key in the car, now not holding back, cursing to herself, “Leave it to my shit head mom to live in some low-life tweaker town. I have half my mind not even to give her a proper burial!”
Jaelynn took off, causing the dirt parking lot to become one cloud of dust.
Thank you so much for reading the first chapter of The Wolf Cult!
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Hope you enjoy the next chapter! <3
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