When I was younger, I convinced myself that I would never have a Mate. Maybe it was for dumb reasons like, my face is full of pimples, or my legs are too fat, or my hair is dry and not as soft and shiny as hers. In my young mind, I believed no guy would want me because at the time I didn’t possess such traits. It is a stupid thing to believe—that I am too ugly for a Mate—but the thought grasped onto me for years. The thought brought me to tears while I sat in my bathtub, only in the tub so no one could hear me. All in all, I was depressed.
Me, a sixteen-year-old werewolf at the time, was depressed because of my physical appearance. I mean, werewolves are supposed to be beautiful right? Flawless skin, vibrant hair, lushes lips, soothing voice, perfect body, a list of traits that surrounded me, yet traits I didn’t have. All of the girls my age were beautiful, and I was the ugly duckling.
“Don’t worry, you’ll grow into your ears,” my mother would tell me, pushing my dull, knotted brown hair over them.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure your breasts will come, you’re just a late bloomer,” she’d say.
“Your feet aren’t too small.”
“Your face will clear up.”
“Having brown eyes is lovely, people want brown eyes like yours, Rae.”
I’d stare up at her and think about all the lies she’s told me. Will I really grow into my ears? No. They’ll always be a little too big, and they still are three years later.
My mother was a beautiful woman, and a beautiful wolf too. She looked more like one of the other girl’s mothers than mine. She could have been an Alphas Mate, that’s how perfect she was. Only the most beautiful girls are mated with an Alpha. Sadly—in my theory—I wouldn’t get a Mate at all.
At first, the thought made me depressed, but as the years went by, it made me feel free. As the other girls prepared for gatherings—ones where packs would get together in search of their Mate—I would sit at home and argue with my mother.
“I don’t have a mate, mom!”
She’d cross her arms. “That’s ridiculous, Rae.”
“It’s not. I can feel it. I don’t have a mate; it doesn’t matter if I go. It’ll be a waste of time.”
“Stop that. Now get on the dress and let’s get going. You’re going to be late!”
That year I actually attended. I wore a purple dress and sat in the corner all night while four girls my age found their mates. One was a Beta. A Beta! It was understandable; she was a pretty girl.
I sat in the corner, playing judge, judging everyone and their mates, their dancing, their dresses. Sure, I found it easier to accept that I’d never find a Mate, but part of me was still jealous.
This year, my fourth year of the gathering, I plan on not attending again. I’ve only been once, when I was seventeen, so I’d like to spare myself from that pain. My mother doesn’t seem to mind after that one time. Maybe she has begun to believe my theory too.
There is a knock on my bedroom door, and I call my mother in. She’s carrying a folded piece of golden cloth, and I already know what it is. A dress. “We’ve been through this before,” I mutter and look away from her, back down at my book as I lay sprawled out on my bed.
“Rae, I really think you should go this year. You didn’t last year, so maybe—”
I shut my book and tiredly peer up. “Mom. I know you want me to go, but there’s no point. I have no mate,” I repeat what I have said the years before.
“Everyone has a mate.”
“That’s impossible. What if there’s one more girl werewolf than there are guys? What if I’m that one?”
My mother drops the dress on my bed. “You’re not that one. My daughter has a Mate. Now I’ve let you lazy around for the past three years, so it’s time you start taking this seriously. You’re nineteen, girls your age are excited by parties and the idea of mates. So put on the dress and be downstairs in twenty minutes before I call a guard and have them drag you out.”
I sit up swiftly. “A guard can’t do that!”
She begins to walk out the door. “They will now!” Then she shuts it behind her.
I groan and flop back down. I have the urge to yell back, I don’t have a mate, but instead, I whine and dramatically put on the damn dress. It’s gold and silky and girly, and something one of the pretty girls would wear. A girl like me should not wear this dress as the bust area clearly requires more bust. How embarrassing. Now everyone at the gathering will know that Rae East has small breasts, not that they couldn’t have figured it out.
When I saunter downstairs, my mother hurries me out the door after handing me a pair of her shorter high heels. I take them with a look of disgust.
“It’s at the usual place, so don’t try and lie saying you got lost or couldn’t find it,” my mother calls as I wander away from the house, then she shuts the door, likely locking me out.
Here I am, walking to the gathering when I expected to be reading for the entire night until I pass out and drool onto the pages. My normal Saturday nights in the pack. It’s nothing exciting like sneaking off pack land or secretly meeting up with a guy who is not my mate, stuff the other girls do. Half of them have lost their virginity long ways back, dropped it in the woods against a tree or something.
These thoughts make me less jealous of them.
I follow the path and wobble a few times, stumbling on a rock. Social interaction is not my specialty, so when I hear voices coming at me, I rush into the trees and hide. With my chest rising and falling quickly, I peek out to watch.
A large group of men appear in the distance, and as they walk closer, I notice one to be my Alpha. My heart clenches at the sight of him. I have met the Alpha once before, and I was awkward as usual. He probably wouldn’t remember me if he saw me. Alphas are busy I suppose, they meet a lot of people, and it must be impossible to remember such an insignificant face as mine.
I lean forward to get a better view of who he’s with, and I notice one person to be the Luna, and I lean a little further, and my foot gets caught on a tree root, and I claw at the bark to catch myself, and I slowly fall to my knees, and the group comes to a halt. I freeze.
They scan the trees until the Luna’s eyes fall upon me, somewhat hidden behind a low bush. “Hello?” She calls out. “Who’s there?”
I bite the inside of my cheek and get up, dirt coating my palms and sprinkled on my dress. “Sorry,” I say nervously. “I thought I saw something out further, but I tripped and. . . Well, sorry if I scared you. I’m just on my way to the—”
“The gathering for the mateless?” The Luna finishes.
I finally land back on the path and get a good view of the small crowd. My eyes go straight to my Alpha, apologetically of course, but the man beside him grabs my attention.
He’s an Alpha no doubt; he looks like one. The sort of perfection only the most prestigious werewolves display. I could explain every one of his magnificent features and write a book about it all, but something else has me entranced. The feeling in my stomach. Or is it my heart? Or is it my more delicate regions? Maybe it’s everything. It’s like his eyes are tearing me apart just because they can. I swallow.
He makes my mouth water, this man, this Alpha, and I shouldn’t think in such ways about someone above me. His position stomps on my entire life. I am a speck to him.
Finding it very hard to concentrate, I begin to see small movements on his face. His eyes shoot to me, then immediately gaze off, then come to me again, then leave again, like he’s looking at an eclipse. His jaw muscles clench, and I cross my feet, one leg moving in front of the other, almost squeezing together. My heart races, like someone is beating a drum in my chest, and I don’t understand any of it.
As I stare at him, I cannot help but imagine myself dropping my virginity in the forest, against a tree, maybe even the one I was hidden behind a moment or two ago.
“Shouldn’t you be on your way, then?” My Alpha cuts through the silence and drags me back to reality.
I briefly wet my dry lips before tossing together words that mean nothing to me at the moment. “Yes, I’ll get out of your way.”
I step to the side and watch as the man, the Alpha, walk past me along with the others, his scent giving my head a spin. He doesn’t look back at me like I would for him, he only keeps on walking, leaving me in a confusing fog, lost, not knowing what to do next.
I struggle for a minute, still standing on the path.
Everything in my animalistic being is telling me what I do not want to hear. It’s shouting at me, and I have my headphones on, trying to ignore it.
That Alpha, that man, that Alpha. . . An Alpha! What am I thinking? Me, mated to an Alpha? What a joke! If the girls were here right now, they’d sure get a kick out of this. Rae East thought she was mates with an Alpha, what a laugh!
I have the urge to smack myself for being so stupid.
I make my way down the path once again and dread the gathering. Not only will I feel like a complete idiot, but I will also now have to watch girls flirt and dance, maybe even discover their mates, something I would never experience because I don’t have a Mate, and I will never have a Mate!
It is like convincing my sixteen-year-old self all over again.
There are one hundred males and one hundred and one females, and I am the one. I am the leftover.
I find the building and huff before walking towards it, preparing to join the crowd.