The Summer Camp

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One

Serena sat on her window seat, the glass panel lowered, and the soft breeze flowed through her hair. Her eyes were cast up at the brilliant night sky, watching the stars twinkle in the night. Sometimes she wished she were up there, naïve to the troubles of man.

She drew her knees to her chest and embraced her legs. She turned up the volume of her music, loosing herself to it. Her mother always complained about her having her earphones in, but always ignored it. Getting lost in her music was a better than the many harmful alternatives. Her favorite brother knew that and always sided with her when anyone mention it. Noah always sided with her.

Her nightmares had been particularly terrible that night, ensuring she wasn’t going to too sleep any time soon. Possibly, she would find sleep in the next couple of days. With a nightmare such as the one she had, one that felt so real, she was too afraid to sleep.

It wasn’t unusual for her to go without sleep for a couple days. And when the week came around, the week that she went missing eleven years ago, she didn’t sleep that entire week. By the end of the week, hallucinations begin to cloud her vision and her paranoia sky rockets. She dreaded that week. Her family dreaded that day. Hell, the entire Pack dreaded that week. The few times that she had fallen asleep during that week, she screamed until she had no voice to scream with. It was traumatizing for anyone who could hear her. She had a few months until then.

Serena raised her head from the safety of her knees. She watched as the sun rose and the stars faded. The soft pink and oranges filled the sky. It was beautiful, serene. She wished she could freeze this moment and stay in it forever.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. Life can’t just freeze, no matter how much one might want it too.

The scent of breakfast drifted into her room. Chocolate chip pancakes, her favorite. She had loved them ever since she was a child and that love for them had never faded.

Serena slid off the window seat and drifted towards her bathroom. She had an adjoining bathroom with her older sister, but she knew Amelia would still be asleep. Her sister never got up earlier than she had too.

She turned on the shower and stripped out of her night clothes. She stood under the burning hot cascade of water. She enjoyed the heat. She enjoyed the burning sensation the hot water gave her. She took her time, scrubbing her skin clean and massaging her scalp. She turned off the water once she was sure every spec of dirty and sweat had been washed off her body.

She dried off and pulled on a robe. She combed through the tangles of her hair and brushed the plaque off her teeth. She never wore any makeup, unlike her sister who always wore foundations, did her eyebrows, and had that wicked eyeliner.

Time and time again, Amelia had offered to teach her how to use makeup, but she refused. Eventually, her sister gave up trying to convince her. occasionally she might ask Serena to go shopping, rarely did she ever take her up on the offer.

She dressed in her room. Just her usual black jeans and random t-shirts. She didn’t care much on how she looked, it wasn’t like she was going anywhere. She opened the door and walked out of her room.

Serena walked into the cottage kitchen. They had moved out of the Alpha Wing once Logan had taken over as Alpha. Logan and his mate occupied the Wing. It made her thankful they didn’t live their because they were desperately trying for a baby. She definitely didn’t want to be around that. Not that it mattered. Logan never hung out with her. As the youngest of the litter, her older siblings ignored her, except for Noah. Noah was the only one who tried with her.

When she stepped into the kitchen, she saw her family already seated at the table, even Logan, which was surprising. He never came to their house. Not unless…

“What did you do?” Serena looked at each and every one of them, her accusing glare landing on all of them.

It wasn’t a coincidence that her favorite food was made, and her entire family was home and sitting around the table for breakfast. Someone did something. Something pertaining to her. She was going to get to the bottom of it.

“Sit down sweetheart. We’re having a family meal,” her mother said.

She pursed her lips and sat down in the empty chair. If she didn’t love her chocolate chip pancakes so much, she would have demanded what they had done right there and then.

Serena watched her family as she ate. Her father and Noah looked nervous, tapping their fingers and constantly glancing at her. Her mother ridged, her back unnaturally straight, and she stared at her food. The twins were giggling and whispering to themselves. And Logan, well, Logan was his usual self. He held himself tall and his face screamed uninterested. She hadn’t expected much else from him. He was always stone cold, especially towards her.

He thought she was faking it, the nightmares and everything. Or that’s at least what she had been told by the twins who said they had overheard Logan speaking to her parents about it. she tried not to let it bother her. everyone had their own opinions. And if that’s what he thought, she wasn’t going to try and correct him.

Once she finished, Serena backed up her chair and stood. She rinsed her plate in the sink and put it in the dishwasher. She walked back to her seat, took a sip of orange juice, then crossed her arms. “I’ve eaten. Now how about you tell me what you did.”

They all looked at her, then at each other, then at her again. Her father and Noah looked too nervous to speak, which was almost ridiculous to see a man as old and touch as her father to be so nervous. The twins just giggled more to themselves. Logan sighed and rolled his eyes, either at the twins or the situation, both were very possible answers.

Her mother cleared her throat. “You’re going to Ember Moon Summer Camp.”

Serena stared at her mother for a quick moment before her anger flared and shouted, “You shitting me right? You’re not actually making me go right.” When their faces grew guilt she scoffed. “Finally gotten tired of me have you? ‘Oh Serena, she’s too much to handle, what with her nightmares and screaming her head off every night. Let’s send her to summer camp, that will definitely make everything better.’”

Her father’s face looked up in surprise. “That is not what we’re doing, butterfly. We just think it’s about time you start to socialize. You’re always up in your room. The only time you ever went out of it was for school, but now that that’s over, you never leave. We think it would be healthy for you to meet people your own age, maybe even find your mate.”

She rolled her eyes and stood up. “If I’m not socializing here, what makes you think being forced into a camp full of people is going to make me socialize? There is a reason I’m always here. No one wants to be friends with the girl that always flips out when she gets touch and can’t sleep without having nightmares. They all pity me and I don’t want their pity. I don’t want their fake friendship. And I hope I don’t find my mate, what kind of wolf would want me for a mate anyways?”

And with that, Serena stormed out of the kitchen, all but running to her room once she was out of sight. She slammed her door shut and fell into her bed, hiding her face in her pillow.

She started to cry. She wasn’t exactly sure why. All she knew is that she didn’t want to leave, and they were making her go. She just felt overwhelmed.

There was a soft knock on the door. “It’s me, Noah.”

She wiped her eyes and nose. “Come in.”

She hated that her voice was a little scratchy and she knew her eyes were red from crying. Her brother saw when he walked in.

Noah shut the door behind him then walked over to her bed, sitting down beside her. She could tell he wanted to touch her but refrained. Her family had all learned very quickly what would happen if she was touched without her giving permission. She reached her hand and he took it, giving her a squeeze. Then she dropped her hand and tucked it back under head.

“Is going to camp really that bad?” he asked her. “Sure, it’s six weeks, but I’m going to be there the entire time. So if anything happens, I’ll be right there.

“But you’re a counselor. You’re going to be busy with your campers. You can’t just stop everything you’re doing to come be with me just because something happens or I’m tired of the people I’m being forced to put up with.”

Noah rolled his eyes. “Serena, you’re my sister, I’ll make time for you. If something is happening, I’m going to be there. I don’t care if that means leaving my campers. Your safety is what matters most to me.”

She sat up, leaning against her headboard. “Do you promise?”

He nodded. “I promise.”

“I guess I won’t raise hell. But don’t expect me to participate and become best friends with everyone I meet.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Seeing her brother smile like that, she couldn’t help but hug him. she felt safe as his arms slid around her. She breathed in his familiar sent. Safe. He was her rock. Noah had always been her rock. She went to him for everything, everything she wanted to share that was.

Noah pulled back enough to peer down at her. “You know you need to go apologize to mom and dad. It wasn’t fair the way you treated them. Besides, I was the one that mentioned it too them.”

“What? Why would you tell them?”

“You never get out. I thought this would be a good opportunity to leave the house and become more social. I’m going to be there so it’s not as if I suggested shipping you off where you knew no one.”

Serena wanted to be mad him, but she just couldn’t find it in her heart to be. She sighed. “Fine, whatever. I’ll go talk to them in a minute.”

“Good. You know they love you right? They just want what’s best for you.”

“I know.”

“Good.”

Noah kissed her head then stood. “Go talk to them and smooth everything out. Then we can start your packing list.”

She groaned. “I’m already regretting this.”

Her brother laughed at her and she threw her pillow at him. he caught it with a laugh. He tossed it back on her bed and walked out before she could throw anything else at him.

She sat on her bed, her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands. She took deep, calming breaths. Her heart was racing. She thought back at her parents devastated faces when she had yelled at them.

She hated to cause them pain, but nowadays she seemed to always be the cause of their pain. She wished she could do something to ease that pain, but she couldn’t give them what they needed. She couldn’t change how she was.

Her feet padded softly against the carpet. She followed the scent of her parents. Their scent led to their bedroom. The closer she got, the more she could hear them talking, talking about Serena. She quickly raised her fist and knocked on the door, not wanting to hear any more of it.

She heard shuffling on the other side before the door opened, revealing both her parents. Serena bit her lip and nervously looked down at her feet. “Can we talk?”

“Of course, butterfly.”

Serena sat herself down on their bed, her head tilted up towards them. “I’m sorry about earlier. I didn’t mean to say those things.” She looked down at her fingers as she fiddled with them.

The bed dipped as they both took a seat beside her. Her mother was the one that spoke, “Yes you did, but that’s our fault for not talking to you about it. We don’t want you to feel as though we’re shipping you off so we can get rid of you. The only reason that we’re okay with you going is because Noah is going to be there with you.”

“You mother and I just want you to get out of your room and meet new people. It’s summer camp, it’s a fresh start. You can meet new people who don’t know about you. Maybe you can make a couple friends. And you might even find your mate, who will be ecstatic to meet you. If he has any problems you, I’ll personally beat him up. I’m sure your brothers will help.”

She snorted. Serena pictured what it would look like to have her father and brother gang up on her mate. She could already see it ending badly.

“Then let’s hope I don’t meet him so we won’t have to worry about that.”

She saw her mother and father share a look.

Serena cleared her throat. “I’m going to go start packing. According to Noah, there’s a lot of things I need to bring.”

They nodded. Her father pulled out his wallet and handed her his credit card. “Use this to buy things you need for camp, only for camp. I’ll be looking very closely at what you buy.”

“Yes dad.” She kissed both their cheeks then left their room, heading for her own.

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