I swiped the barcode across the scanner, listening to the dumb soccer mom chatting away with someone on the phone. It was my eighteenth birthday and I was stuck working at McGinny’s the only grocery store on Black Wolves territory. It was the only place to give me an opportunity when we first moved to town.
My dad was a rouge, I by default was a rouge as well. He was forced out of our last pack and since I was still under his care he forced me to come with him. Something that I struggled to accept. Something I do not think I could ever forgive him for. That was almost a year ago and I missed my pack more then I could say, I missed my friends, I missed the forest I used to call home. The smell of the bayou of Louisiana was nothing compared to the fresh pine trees in Montana, the rolling hills that provided so much space to roam. The dense wilderness that allow me to be free. No-one was ever around. It would just be me running, not a care in the world. Here, among one of the largest packs in the states it was hard to disappear. The thick weeds of the swamp making it almost impossible to run. Although our pack was not nearly as populated we had the same territory, meaning there was so much more space to just be.
The small fan on the register was blowing right into my face, a break from the heat. Louisiana was hot and I was no little wolf, I had curves and a little extra pudge around the middle. I guess I would say quite a bit of extra around the middle. I was the enigma, I was supposed to be thin, like every other she-wolf. I had inherited my figure from my mom. She was beautiful and stunning. Until her life was cut short. Something else I do not think I could ever forgive my father for. I shook my head slightly casting her from my thoughts. If I went down that rabbit hole I would be stuck in bed for days.
My uniform stuck to the middle of my back as I kept swiping the groceries, placing them into the bags as the self entitled she-wolf glared at me. The loose hair falling from my blonde bun sticking to the back of my neck. I swiped my hand across my forehead, trying to relive my self from the sweat droplets rolling down my temples. This heat was unbearable. I was used to cooler weather, never have I pretended 100 degree weather and hotter were something I could put up with. The she-wolf glared at me with disgust as I checked her out. I let out a long sigh as I returned to the magazine I was flipping through.
When wolves turn eighteen they will find their mate, if they are around. If I was home I would have found my mate, Alpha Ryan. We had a connection since we were little, he had been my best friend for as long as I could remember. I longed to be home to see him. Graduation was coming and I would be free from my father, the day that happened I was going to shift and run home. Ryan was always kind and considerate, yet fair and strong. He had always been there when I needed him. When we were in middle school he kissed me for the first time. Our kisses grew hot but always stopped just before we crossed that line, we were saving ourselves. I wanted my first time to be under the mating bond and I was sure that it was Ryan. If it was not, the moon goddess was cruel. I let out a sigh as I let my mind drift towards him and his soft brown eyes. I could feel his strong hand wrap around my waist pulling me towards him.
“Earth to stupid!” Maranda snapped her fingers in my face ripping me from my thoughts. Her long red nails done perfectly, her brown wavey hair hung without flaw, her tiny body built and beautiful like a werewolf is supposed to be. Her brown eyes staring at me like I was the most disgusting thing that she had the unfortunate dealings with today. She looked as though the heat didn’t bother her, mean while I was dying from just standing there. She tossed a box of condoms at me to ring up as her she-clan just giggled behind her. They were evil. This entire crowd was, Maranda was dating the upcoming alpha and many of the girls in her group dated his close friends. They all ridiculed me, insulted me, even went out of their way to humiliate me. This past week along, Maranda had dumped her drink on me in the middle of school. Commenting about how I needed to learn how to bath regularly and if I couldn't remember to do so, she would make sure I did. In my last school some of the boys would torment me but Ryan was quick to put them in their place.
"You would think that this place would have a dress code." she said turning up her nose. "at the very least a must shower before work rule." I roll my eyes, I thought that they had a don't be a bitch rule in society, but apparently not.
I clenched my teeth together. Second time this week she mentioned me not showering. I wanted to scream at her that the heat was sweltering, a little sweat was normal! Yet, I had learned that nothing good came from talking back. Maranda was a high ranking female, one that complained a lot, so in the early days of moving here my father had received multiple beating to ensure he kept his daughter in line.
I could tell you I learned quick, that I stopped talking back but that would be a lie. I wanted my father to feel the pain that I had felt, regardless of how that came to be.
That’s when it hit me, a scent so intoxicating that my body started to tingle, it was like bourbon and woods after rain fall. The scent almost pulled me to my knees. I braced onto the counter, ignoring the direct pulse that settled between my legs. The need shooting through every pore in my body. My skin felt as though a fire ripped through me. I titled my head slightly pulling in more of the scent against my will, needing more of it to quench the fire that was licking at my skin. My eyes darted around the store, but I couldn’t find the source. I bit my cheek hard to keep a whine from escaping my lips. Maranda slung another passive aggressive insult towards me before heading off towards the door, but I had no time to listen. Damon Black was waiting for her, his dark blue eyes locked right on me. His black hair sleeked back over his beautiful face. His wide shoulders tapering into a trim waist where his jeans hug perfectly. His face contorted into a glare as Maranda made her way over to him.
My wolf growled.
No. No. No. This can not be happening. Damon was not my mate. No way was he, my mate. My mate was Ryan this can not be happening. I was supposed to be with the kind Alpha, the one who defended and loved me. Not someone who sat around and let Maranda and her minions torment those who they saw unfit. Not someone who regularly glared at them, who looked as if I did not deserve to be in the same pack as them. My breath came in shallow gulps as I looked at those deep blue eyes. Maranda wrapping her arms around what was supposed to be mine, as he stared at me. His eyes didn't look away as he moved wrapping his arms around Maranda, finally his face tucking into the side of her neck. The bile rising in my throat. His black hair fell over his forehead, before he pushed the hair out of his face. I pressed my lips together to prevent the growl that was threatening to come out. How could he do that? How was I his mate? I glared at the happy couple, pain rippling through my chest. He gave me another sparing glace with those beautiful deep blue eyes and leveled me with a scowl before he let Maranda pull him out the door. Suddenly my stomach turned and my breath came out in short spurts. My face was burning as I tried to piece together what had just happened. Damon was my mate, my mind flew to Ryan. My heart clenched at the longing of something I would never have. Tears sprung in my eyes as I tried to calm my breath. I stared at their backs as they made their way out the doors. I still couldn't rip my eyes away from the couple as they crossed the parking lot to the group of people waiting. The beta and gamma slung over Maranda's minions laughing about something as they welcome their Alpha back into the fold. Max, Damon's beta, slapping his shoulder saying something to him. Damon's head turned to look at me, his eyes meeting mine once more before he quickly looked away.
“Ava?” Nathan appeared behind me, putting his hand on my back, which I instantly pulled away from. The sensation almost burned, my wolf instantly agitated another male was touching us and not our mate. I tried to calm my breath, slowing the pain ripping through my chest. Nothing seemed to help.
“Are you okay?” he asked, concern lacing his voice. He was older, around the age of my father. His brown hair turned white, along with the stubble that grew on his chin. His brown eyes were full of kindness and wisdom that I had come to appreciate in this last year. I shook my head quickly while another fresh batch of tears streamed down my face. When I looked to him, it seemed as if he knew. A wolf of his age surly would know the signs of finding your mate, but again had anyone found their mate and ignored them? I doubt it. Mates were sacred in our world, they were your other half. Someone who is your greatest asset but also your greatest weakness. Rejecting your mate was possible but very painful. As if your wolf was being ripped from you.
“Go home then. Get cleaned up. It will be okay.” He said with a sad smile, that I struggled to believe. “And happy birthday,” he said quietly. I nodded quickly and stood. I had gained some sense of control over my breathing, my hands and legs shook fiercely as I pushed myself to my feet. My mind circling around the dark blue eyes that belonged to the one who was supposed to be mine.
“Thank you,” I said, wiping my tears, fighting the bile rising in my throat again, grabbing my bag, and running from the store. My mate, he had to know he was my mate, maybe he didn’t.