Skyler hadn’t meant to follow Noah and his sister. He had meant to go the other direction, back to the camp, to help with registration. But as her scent drifted farther and farther away from him, he couldn’t help but follow.
It was so enticing, she was so enticing, he had to follow. It was like he was connected to a tether and it was pulling him along. He didn’t resist. He stayed back, hidden along the tree line as Serena and Noah conversed. He stayed hidden as his best friend walked away. And then he crept closer once the door had shut. He had peered through the window and watched her.
It took everything in him to hold himself back, to keep from running in there to hold her, cradle her, kiss her. He wanted to so badly, but he couldn’t. No, he would wait for her to come to him. He could wait, but only for so long. He would only wait for so long before he would begin to seek her out.
But for now, he would wait. He would watch.
And when he knew all that he needed to know, his wolf would begin the hunt for his mate and he wouldn’t stop until he got her. He wouldn’t be satisfied until her shoulder bared his mark and she was filled with his essence.
Skyler backed away from the window when her chest rose and fell more slowly, when the features of her face slackened and she looked at peace, and when he heard her heart slow as she fell into a deep sleep. Only then did he head towards the registration tables.
While he tried his best, he was distracted. He couldn’t stop thinking about Serena. While he had decided to wait for her to warm up to him, he wished he knew why. He wished he knew why. He wished he knew why she backed away. He wished he knew why she didn’t leap into his arms. He wished he knew why she didn’t tell her brother that Skyler was her mate.
He wished he understood. He wished and he would get his answer soon enough. He would stop at nothing to get her, stop at nothing to finally learn the truth.
A hand clasped on Skyler’s shoulder, pulling him out of his thoughts. He turned his head. Noah was looking at him, his face scrunched up in concern.
“What was that happened back there?” His best friend asked him.
Skyler shrugged. If his mate didn’t want him to know, he wouldn’t say anything, yet. It wasn’t his place to say anything, even if it meant lying to his best friend. He would do nothing to harm his mate in any way. “I’m not really sure. She started staring and I guess I just kinda started staring too. It was just a little weird.”
Noah didn’t look convince but nodded anyways. “Yeah, weird,” he cleared his throat, “She mentioned you looked familiar to her, you two haven’t met before today have you?
“No, I swear on my life I have never seen your sister before,” he shook his head, “Is your sister alright? Did she make it back to the cabin just fine?”
The male besides him nodded. “Yes, she’s fine. She’s just not used to all of this. Most her life she’s been hauled up in her room, refusing to speak to anyone. I think she’s just a little overwhelmed at the moment, but I do hope that she will get used to this. Isolation isn’t good for a wolf. We’re meant to be social creatures.”
“Why has she been isolating herself?” Skyler asked in concern and worry for his mate, though he tried to play it off as just genuine concern.
Noah jerked his head to the side, a motion for him to follow. They walked a small distance away from the others, out of their hearing before speaking. “I’m not sure. One day she was fine, happy. She went missing. We found her three days later, she’s never been the same. We had a doctor test her, see if she could figure out what had happened, but Serena had already been healed, so whatever horrors she endured, we will never know unless she tells us herself.”
Skyler’s chest hurt and it suddenly became very hard to breathe. “There were no scents nearby? Nothing at all?”
“No, we found her on the shore of lake. We believe she crawled to it, to wash off whatever happened to her. There was no trace of a scent on her, nor anywhere around the lake. We tried to track down any nearby scents, but it had been too late and our lead had faded away. There wasn’t much to do except move on. But Serena,” he sighed, “Serena keeps it bottled up inside. She won’t tell anyone what happened, she won’t allow herself to heal and move on. My parents and I hope that being here will help her. That being here will help her to open up, to break her shell, and move on with her life. But if this doesn’t work, I don’t know what we’re going to do.
“I’m not telling you this just for grins Skyler. I’m telling you this so if I’m not around at the time, you can help her. She gets terrible nightmares, flashbacks. She can’t stand to be touched, at least not by strangers. If she initiates it, she’s normally okay. But I want you to know so if something happens and she has a psychotic freak out, you can know why, and you can do your best to help her.”
It was a lot for him to process. What had she gone through? How could he help her? “And how do I help her? You just said she can’t stand to be touched, so what do I do instead?”
“Sometimes you just have to pin her down until she exhausts herself. She will scream louder. It will feel like your ears are bleeding, but it’s to keep her and those around her safe, so she can’t hurt anyone, including herself. You’re the only one I trust with this knowledge, don’t abuse that trust.”
“I would never. You’re my best friend, do you really think I would go around and blab to everyone, to anyone. And what about Serena? She doesn’t deserve that. I won’t tell a soul.”
“Will you at least tell Charlotte? At least part of it? she is Serena’s counselor after all.”
Noah nodded. “She already knows. I spoke to her on my way here.”
Skyler sighed. “Do you know why she hasn’t told anyone, what happened to her?
“She’s likely ashamed of it. She has no reason to be, she was six at the time. but it’s been eleven years since then. She’s had years to let the guilt and shame build up. It’s going to take nothing short of a miracle for her to finally tell someone.”
A horn sounded, signaling lunch was ready. Skyler was lucky enough to have first lunch among the counselors. He had twenty minutes to eat before he was back on registration duty. Any other year, he would have to quarrels with working the registration booth. He got to meet new campers and greet the old ones.
But this year, his head was distracted with the information he had learned. He couldn’t concentrate. He lost count of the times he had spaced out or made a mistake in the span of a few hours.
There wasn’t much of a line at the mess hall but that was to be expected. There weren’t many campers there yet. More would show up after lunch. At dinner, the mess hall would be packed. All the good food would be gone in a matter of minutes. Those in the middle of the line would have to pick through what was left, those at the back got pick of everything they wanted, the chefs putting out freshly new food. Lucky for those in the middle, you can get seconds.
The chefs had only prepared sandwiches, and fruits and veggies. There would be more variety at dinner when everyone was at camp. Seeing that there was less than a hundred at Ember Moon, there was no need to prepare a full banquet.
Slyer grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich, an orange, and some chips. He sat down at a mostly empty table. He picked off the tomatoes off of his sandwich. He found they’re taste revolting.
Skyler’s nose twitched as a certain scent flowed his way. He lifted his nose in the air slightly and breathed in the calming citrus. His mate was near.
He scanned the crowd until his gaze fell on her and her brother Noah. He waved, to get their attention. Noah noticed and walked towards him, his little sister begrudgingly following. His friend took a seat across from him, Serena trying to sit as far away as she could without seeming suspicious. He let himself gaze upon her for a moment. She looked better, though irritated. he would leave her alone for now, though it wasn’t his fault if her brother decided that all three should have some bonding time.
“So how are you liking camp so far?” He asked Serena.
She responded by plugging in her ear phones and turning her music all the way up. She began to eat quite angerly and stared at the mess hall wall.
Skyler gave Noah a confused look but he only shrugged in return.
He took a bite out of his sandwich before speaking to Noah. “Are you excited for this year? I heard that they actually bought raft boats that won’t get a hole in them from just one time around the river.”
“Really? Took them long enough. I call dibs on taking my campers first.”
“Oh no you don’t, I already signed up for it for Wednesday.”
“Save the foul language for when us foxes beat you at the annual volleyball tournament.”
“As if. Us lions are going to kick your ass this year.”
“What’s with all the cabin names?” The sweet voice of his mate sliced through the air. “I mean, there’s Otter cabin, Fox cabin, Lion cabin. No original cabin names?”
“The owner isn’t very creative,” her brother answered her.
She didn’t respond and went back to her staring and silent eating.
Skyler wished she would speak to him, acknowledge him, be with him. he wanted her more than anything, more than life itself. But she just wouldn’t come to him. She avoided him instead. He had some idea of why, thanks to her brother. Perhaps she was too ashamed to be with him. But that was ridiculous and he would make sure she knew that. He didn’t care. He didn’t care if she had to initiate the touch. He didn’t care if she had nightmares, because he would be there to soothe her. He wanted to be there for her, take care of her, be her rock. If only she would accept him as her mate. Accept him so he could love her.
And he would love her.
He would love her till the day he died.
He would protect her, do anything for her.
She just needed to accept him so he could love her fully.
Until then, he could love her from a distance. Doing his best to keep her out of harms way, try to comfort her, and keep her happy. It would be no easy task but he would do it. For her, he would do the impossible.
“Don’t forget about the kickball tournament. Remember when we were campers and you lost? You started bawling, you were such a sore loser.”
“I did not,” Noah’s voice went up an octave.
“You so did.”
Serena snorted and shook her head but still kept quiet.
“No I didn’t. You made that up because I ate the last cookie.”
“No, I remember exactly you plotting down in the middle of the field crying. And it’s because you were a cry baby back then. No one made anything up.”
“I’m going to make you eat your words when my cabin beats you at every game this year. We’ll see who the real cry baby is.”
Skyler slid his eyes to Serena. “Game on.”