Chapter 5: Induction
About four hours and some long, deep talks about life, love, and everything in between later, Grace and I got pretty much every surface of the house scrubbed clean. There wasn’t a spec of dust anywhere in sight and the entire house had a fresh pine scent to it. I was glad that I got all the walls cleaned, as they were now ready to start being painted. The couple that lived here before must’ve hated light colors because all the walls were painted a different hue of dark brown.
“Alright, girl. I’m exhausted, starving, and we only have about an hour before the dinner preluding your induction ceremony starts. Let’s get a move on,” Grace asserted. I nodded in agreement before cracking my cricked neck and muscles.
“Thank you so much for all your help. I wouldn’t have gotten nearly a third of this done if it wasn’t for you,” I gushed sincerely.
“Hey, what are best bitches for?” she teased with a wink.
Grace stole my keys from me and drove to her own home, which I was excited to see. How someone decorates the space they call their own says a lot about them. I had a feeling I was going to see a lot of bright colors. Or artwork with ironic, sassy sayings.
When we walked in, we were instantly greeted by her mate.
“Where have you been all day?” he asked, a worried expression on his face.
“Helping Poppy clean up her new place a bit,” she responded simply before pecking him on the lips. I stood awkwardly by the door as I watched him wrap his arms around her waist and press a loving kiss to her cheek and finally her mark. I felt like I was invading on their private moment, so I averted my gaze out the window and watched as the wind moved the trees around.
“Poppy, it’s nice to be able to finally get a proper introduction,” Jason said before reaching his arm out to shake my hand. “If my mate ever gets you into trouble, just know that I’m sorry, but it was inevitable,” he joked with a laugh before giving Grace a teasing kiss and disappearing into the kitchen where he’d emerged from.
“Alright, let’s go find something to wear,” she said with excitement before pulling me up a set of stairs and into a large bedroom. I gasped when I saw two sets of pink fuzzy handcuffs attached to either side of their headboard.
“Jason’s the kinky type,” she giggled. I felt like I was going to die from embarrassment. How was she so comfortable talking about these kinds of things.
“My God, you’re too innocent for your own good,” she stated before brushing it off and entering her closet.
“I have the perfect thing for you to wear. It’s not too casual and not too dressy and can be accessorized really easily,” she mumbled while rifling around. “Ah-ha! Here it is,” she exclaimed before pulling out a plain-looking, black striped t-shirt dress. It had quarter-length sleeves and rested a few inches above my knees.
“It’s simple, but pretty,” I complimented while fingering the soft fabric.
“That’s what I’m saying! And it’ll look perfect with those boots you were wearing earlier today, too. Here, go put it on,” she insisted before pushing me towards her bathroom. While I was changing, she added some gold jewelry to her chunky sweater and ripped jean outfit, dressing it up the perfect amount. She checked the time on her watch before cursing under her breath.
“Okay, we have about fifteen minutes to get to the pack dining hall. Let’s go,” she urged before high-tailing it downstairs.
“Jason!” she yelled out.
“I was just waiting on you, Gracie girl. You’re always late,” he teased before pinching her butt and intertwining their hands.
“Poppy, you can drive so that you can get more familiar with the land. Also, I call shotgun!” she yelled before racing to the car and jumping in. Jason just chuckled and shook his head.
When we arrived at the pack house (after getting lost twice because I had no idea where I was going) we were about five minutes late. It was then I discovered that I was sitting at the Alpha and Luna’s table as all new members about to be inducted do, apparently. My hands shook as my nerves shot through the roof while approaching their table. Grace and Jason gave me an encouraging smile before leaving to find a seat of their own.
“Alpha, Luna, I am so sorry I’m late. I got a little lost on the way here and-”
“Nonsense, honey. That’s normal, the land is new to you. Please, have a seat,” the Luna softly said, calming my nerves with a friendly smile. I nodded before taking the only available seat at the table.
“Hi there. I’m Corbin, future Alpha,” the man next to me said, slight cockiness seeping into his tone. I examined him up and down, noting that while he looked like an identical, albeit younger, version of his father, he didn’t seem to carry himself like him in any way.
“Hi, I’m Poppy,” I said politely, shaking his outstretched hand. He kept his hold on me for longer than necessary, causing me to clear my throat in discomfort. He pulled his hand back with what he probably thought was a sexy smile, but it just furthered my discomfort.
“While you were gone, we went ahead and gave everyone a brief rundown of your situation and why you’ve come to stay with us. I figured it would be easier on you to do it before you showed up,” the Luna explained. I gave her a grateful look before expressing my thanks.
“So, Poppy, have you thought about what kind of job you’d like to take up in the pack?” one of the men I’d yet to be introduced to yet asked.
“I’m not quite sure. I love children and taking care of people, but I can go wherever I’m needed,” I said. He gave me an approving smile before nodding.
“That’s wonderful! With the recent boom in pack births, our daycare ladies have been stretched kind of thin. I’m sure they would love an extra helping hand!” another woman I’ve never seen before exclaimed.
“That would be lovely,” I said with a genuine smile.
“Well, it’s no wonder you’re the only thing the unmated males will talk about right now. You’re beautiful and caring,” Corbin added, butting into the conversation. I had no idea what to say back to that, so I just settled for a half-hearted oh...
“Well, I suppose we should go around and have you all introduce yourselves so she’s not eating with complete strangers,” Alpha Aaron quipped.
“I suppose I’ll go first. I’m Beta Donovan,” the dark-haired man across from me spoke. I smiled and nodded to show that I heard him.
“I’m Gamma Gray. I’m, for the most part, in charge of training our enforcers,” the (ironically) gray-haired man next to Beta Donovan spoke.
“Mostly?” I questioned.
“Yes. Well, there’s also Lycan Carmichael, but...you probably won’t ever meet him. He ventures off alone when he’s not helping me train the men,” he answered uneasily while meeting Alpha Aaron’s gaze for a split second.
“He’s a fucking psycho. And a Lycan on top of that. Stay the hell away from him,” Corbin sneered.
"Corbin," his father growled, glaring daggers at his son. He quickly shut his mouth as everyone else at the table grew quiet, obviously realizing his mistake.
“I thought Lycans were extinct?” I asked, my voice wavering as I spoke, shocked. I haven’t heard someone speak of Lycans since I was probably four-years-old, and it was just a very vague memory.
Lycans were the most pure-blooded form of werewolf there was. They were direct descendants from the first-shifted of our kind and were said to have the strength and power of a hundred Alphas combined. That was just an old folks tale, of course, but it was still scary to think about nonetheless.
“Don’t listen to him. There’s nothing to worry about,” Luna Caroline assured me. I nodded uneasily before digging into my dinner once the Alpha took the first bite. I had a feeling he chose that moment to begin eating in order to silence our conversation, but I was starving so I didn’t look into it too closely.
After dinner, we had walked about twenty minutes into the trees surrounding the pack house before reaching a massive clearing. There was row after row of benches carved from wood set in front of a large stage. I was escorted up and on the stage with the Alpha and Luna as everyone else took a seat here and there.
“Good evening, everyone. As you all know, we are here for the induction ceremony of a new friend of ours, Poppy Nicole. She had to tragically flee her pack and seek safety here for persecution reasons. Today, we shall welcome her into our family here at the Silver Fang pack with open arms and warm smiles,” the Alpha’s voice boomed through the air.
“Are you ready to start?” the Alpha whispered to me with a friendly smile. I nodded as butterflies began to swarm in my stomach. The second I accepted a bond to this pack, my family and past leaders would feel the loss of my presence. I will have to be extra careful not to give myself away, as my ex-Alpha is bound to come for me.
“Put your right hand over your heart,” Alpha Aaron instructed. My hand shook as I did as told. “Poppy Nicole, do you swear to answer the following series of questions with nothing but the truth?” he asked me.
“Right, we shall proceed. Do you swear to abide by all pack laws set forth and agreed upon by the entirety of the pack?”
“Do you swear to uphold the image of our pack with honesty, integrity, and kindness towards others?”
“Do you swear to do all things with the pack’s best interest in mind, never acting selfishly for your own personal gain?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said with a passionate nod of my head. With that, he turned away from me to face the crowd of people to our right.
“It is upon the request of Alpha and Luna Fang to extend a position in the Silver Fang pack to Poppy Nicole. All those opposed speak now,” Alpha Aaron demanded. There was a sweeping silence throughout the clearing following his words.
“We will now do the blood exchange. Would you like me to go first?” Alpha Aaron asked quietly while holding a knife whose blade was partially made of silver in order to keep the wound from closing right away.
“Yes please,” I said breathily. He took the knife and made a superficial cut from his thumb to his pinky before handing the knife to me. I let out a puff of air before slowly dragging it across my own palm in the same fashion. I winced at the painful sensation before handing the weapon off to a random man next to me. The Alpha grasped my cut hand in his own, allowing our blood to mix and form a bond. I felt an intense sting throughout my entire skull as my old bond faded and my new one formed. I locked my knees to prevent myself from falling to the floor at the pain radiating over my entire body.
Seconds later, the sensation had completely lifted and I was left gasping for breath.
“With no oppositions, I am proud to announce the addition of pack member Poppy Nicole!” the Alpha yelled out to the crowd while lifting our conjoined hands in the air. The pack erupted into loud cheers of excitement as they raised to their feet. A happy smile overtook my face as I laughed joyously. I scanned the crowd but stopped when I saw two glowing yellow eyes peering in from the surrounding trees. I squinted to try and get a better look, but the eyes disappeared.
“It’s time to celebrate! There’s a party being held, but don’t feel pressured to stay the whole time. It may technically be for you, but my mate uses any reason to throw a rager,” the Alpha joked before giving my back and pat and helping me down off the stage.
“Ahhh! So exciting!” Grace screamed while running up and pulling me into a tight hug. I struggled for air while patting her back.
“You’re going to suffocate her, baby,” Jason laughed while pulling his mate off of me.
“So-” Grace started, but she was almost immediately cut off.
“Hi there, I was wondering if you wanted to dance?” a guy asked while approaching the three of us. He was cute with that boy-next-door appeal to him.
“Uh, I can’t. Sorry,” I stuttered out awkwardly. He gave me a skeptical look before turning and leaving.
“What the hell was that, girl? He was cute!” Grace protested, earning her an annoyed growl from Jason behind her.
“I’ve never danced with a boy before. My father wasn’t the nicest man, so guys were always too afraid to ask me,” I explained with shame.
“Oh God, c’mon babycakes. We’re going to change this real quick,” Grace stated with determination before grabbing my wrist and pulling me into the middle of the dance floor. “Just watch what I do,” she yelled over the loud music. I watched the way she budded her body up next to Jason’s, her back to his front, and ground her body against his own. Their movements seemed to flow naturally, but I wasn’t sure if that was because they were mates, or because they were both really good dancers.
They looked like they were having a lot of fun, so - feeling momentarily brave - I purposely made direct eye contact with a handsome guy a few feet away. I gave him a flirtatious smile and internally patted myself on the back when he made a beeline for me seconds later.
“Welcome to the pack, we’re glad to have you,” he rasped out against the shell of my ear. His body was really close to mine due to the small space left on the dance floor, which allowed me to take in his natural smell mixed with the scent of his cologne.
“You wanna dance?” he asked while scanning his eyes down my body.
“Sure!” I yelled back over the music. He abruptly placed his hands on my hips and spun my body to mirror the position Grace and Jason were in. I closed my eyes and just let the music guide me as I did what felt natural. It seemed to be working, as the man grasped me tighter instead of pulling away from me.
We danced for a good number of songs and I found that I was actually having a ton of fun.
I wonder if this is what prom would’ve been like had I had a date?