After lunch, much more wolves began to show. Otter cabin was no longer a safe haven for Serena to hide. There were too many other girls who were taking over spaces, claiming dibs on counter space to fit all of their makeup and products. They were all talking much too loudly and becoming “best friends for life” even though they would most likely never talk to each other except when they were at camp.
She couldn’t find her brother anywhere. He was most likely busy with his campers. The moment she saw Skyler walking along the grounds, she turned around and walked in the complete opposite direction.
And that was how Serena found a large tree with branches low enough for her to climb. She climbed up about halfway up the tree where she found a large enough branch for her to sit on comfortably. Her back leaned against the tree trunk, one leg outstretched on the branch, the other hanging. With soothing music in her ears and the beautiful sun setting, she felt at peace.
It was at this time, she let her mind relax. She let herself think of Skyler. She let herself imagine if she were normal, if she excepted him. He could touch her without consequence. They would sneak around, just to fool with her brother. And when Noah did catch them, he would give them “the talk”. Every day they would have a new adventure, exploring, free. At night, they would tangle up in the sheets, sweat pooling as they enjoyed the pleasures of skin.
It was a beautiful fantasy, one she ached for with all her heart. but she wasn’t normal, she was broken. And what kind of wolf wanted a broken girl for a mate? None deserved one.
She pulled her head out of her fantasy or else she might ache for it too much and give in. she could already feel every fiber of her body aching for his. She wanted him, she couldn’t deny that. But it just could not be. She had to stay away. It was only the first day and it had proven to be very difficult. At this rate, she would have to avoid her brother as well, seeing as he liked to stick to Skyler.
Perhaps she could run away. But she didn’t know the woods. She didn’t know how to track, hell, she barely knew how to kill game. She only shifted when she absolutely had too, when the need to break out of her skin and feel the breeze through her fur was too much. She didn’t know how to fight. The first encounter with a Rouge would likely end up with her lying dead in the middle of nowhere. Serena wouldn’t survive trying to get home.
She couldn’t leave. There was no option for her but to stay. She had no friends back at home to call and ask for advice. She couldn’t call her parents for help. They’d likely show up and push for her to mate with Skyler. And she couldn’t talk to Noah, he wouldn’t understand, not this.
She was all on her own.
“There you are,” a female voice startled her.
Serena looked down and saw Charlotte standing below her.
“Your brother has been looking for you for the past hour. He’s starting to freak out a little bit. Which is kind of cute but at the same time, a little scary. He looks on the verge of a breakdown.”
She snorted. “He’s always been like that.” Serena climbed down from the tree.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about your hiding place. Noah told me about your…situation. If you ever need to just get away, just let me know so I know where you are. I can’t afford to lose another camper.”
“Another?” Serena looked at her incredulously.
Charlotte scratched her head. “Yeah, one of my campers snuck out one night and we never heard from her again. it was a lot of paperwork.” She shook her head. “Anyways, it’s time for the campfire, it’s a requirement for all campers to be there. Plus, you should go see your brother, put his poor soul to rest.”
“Don’t worry, you can stay in the back. You don’t have to participate either. You just have to be there.”
Serena bit her lip and nodded. “Alright. Lead the way then.”
She walked beside her counselor in silence. She put her hands in her jeans pockets and watched her feet.
She hoped she didn’t run into a particular counselor at the campfire. She just needed to go tell her brother she was fine, go stand in the back, and then sneak away if possible. She hoped that once everyone was back at the cabin, they would all just get ready for bed and go to sleep. She knew that that wouldn’t happen. It was the first night. All the girls would be wanting to socialize and become “best friends for life.” She just hoped that they left her alone.
Serena wasn’t there to make friends. She didn’t want friends. Having friends meant expectation and emotions and touchy-feely. She didn’t do that. She was there because her parents thought that summer camp would fix her. Well, she couldn’t be fixed, she was broken.
The campfire was more of a bonfire, which had her worried about what their idea of a bonfire was.
She tried to look for the familiar face of her brother and when that didn’t work, Serena tried to sniff him out. That didn’t work either. There were too many scents, they were all blending into each other.
“Do you know where my brother is?” She asked her counselor.
Charlotte shook her head. “I have no idea. Last I saw, he was at the mess hall.”
Serena sighed. She pulled out her phone and went through her contacts. She called her brother in hopes that he would answer. He didn’t. “Sometimes, I really hate you, Noah.”
The female beside her snorted. “I think we all feel that way about him at one point or another. He’s stubborn as a mule.”
A large figure came barreling towards her calling out her name in a familiar voice. Her brother stopped next to her, hesitant. She knew what he wanted, and this time, she would oblige. She wrapped her arms around his middle and he hugged her fiercely. “Are you alright? I couldn’t find you anywhere. I was scared you had run off.”
“I’m fine Noah. I took a walk in the woods and lost track of time,” she said, her hands rubbing his back in a soothing motion, “I promise I’m fine, so you can stop sniffing me for injuries.”
She pinched his side and he let out a squeak that definitely did not belong to an Alpha’s son. Charlotte and Serena both looked at him incredulously.
“Don’t look at me like that, I’m ticklish,” he grumbled in defense.
Serena and charlotte shared one look before bursting into laughter.
Noah grumbled something having to do with ‘she-wolves’ and their ‘insensitivity’ that only made the girl cackle louder.
“Well, if you two are done laughing at me, Charlotte, we have to go ready. It’s about to start.”
“What’s about to start?” Serena asked the two of them.
“You’re going to have to wait and see.”
She glared at the two of them. She eventually sighed and agreed. “Yeah, whatever. Go, I’ll be fine, just hanging out in the back.”
Noah looked hesitant. He asked, “Are you going to be okay?”
“I’ll be fine, now go before you get reprimanded.”
“Alright, alright, we’re going.”
Serena shook her head as the two of them walked away. She noticed they were suspiciously close to each other. She strained her ear to listen to their conversation. They seemed awfully close, closer than friends were. Or maybe that’s just how they were. It didn’t matter, she wasn’t going to stick her nose into their business, just as she wouldn’t want them to do the same to her.
She walked forward, closer to the campfire, but not close enough that she would be surrounded by wolves. She stayed in the back along with a few others that looked like they had no intention of speaking to her.
She was right where she wanted to be.
“Welcome, everyone, to Ember Moon Summer Camp,” an unfamiliar voice announced, “We are absolutely delighted that you are here. Returning campers, we are joyful that you have returned to camp. New campers, welcome. We hope that you will find this camp become your second home like so many others. I can already tell this year is going to a wonderful. We have so many exciting things planned for you all. I’m Jackson, the camp director. I’m in charge of all the activities. If you ever need anything, you are always welcome to come to me or any of our counselors. We will be more than willing to help. Now without further ado, your counselors!”
One by one, the counselors were introduced, stating their name, their pack, and how long they’ve been coming to Ember Moon. It was all very boring and Serena tried to tune them out as much as possible, though it was hard when she heard his voice. It was hard not to run to him. and by the smirk on his face, he knew it too.
A she-wolf counselor, Rosalynn, stepped forward. “We would like to begin this new year of camp by telling the legend of how the werewolves came to be. The story holds truth and a lesson we should always remember, and do everything in our power to prevent. So we present to you, the Legend of Wolf.”
Those around her looked entranced and she wanted to scoff at their foolishness. They acted as they had never heard of the legend. Parents always told their children of Wolf, of how their existence came to be, and that they should be grateful and cautious of everything they did.
Her supposed mate stepped forward and her breath caught in her throat. She wanted to look away but she couldn’t. He looked glorious. Absolutely beautiful. He was perfection.
Rosalynn began to speak once more, “There once was a king. He was power hungry and wanted to be invincible. He wanted to ensure that any that tried to cross him would die at his hand. There was only one creature that walked the earth that could give him power. A witch. So he searched and he searched and he searched. He finally found one, her.”
Serena watched as Skyler acted out her words. She stiffened as a beautiful counselor stepped into view.
“He made a plan, to make her fall in love with him, so she would give him to one thing that he desired above all else. He shed his crown and his clothing, he dawned on a peasant’s skin. He ordered one of his men to wound him. and so he lay near her cottage, waiting for her to find him, and she did. She took him in and cared for him and nursed him back to health.”
Her claws punctured palms as she fisted her hands. She wanted to slit the throat of the woman that was touch what was hers.
She shook her head. She couldn’t think that way. He was not hers. He would never be hers. Her fists slowly unfurled and blood dripped down her fingers. She wasn’t worried, she could already feel her wounds knitting back together.
“After he was healed, she sent him home. But every day he returned in his peasant’s skin, bearing flowers and gifts for her, claiming that she was his savior. Over the course of weeks, the witch fell for the king, unknowing of his true intentions. And when he was sure that she was completely and undeniably in love with him, he ordered some of his men to dress as thieves and attack her cottage while they lay together.
“The king fought bravely, killing his men, though suffered massive wounds. As the witch healed him, he propositioned her. ‘Make me invincible, so we will never again fear. Give me strength and senses far greater than any man alive, so that I may protect us, without the fear of death.’ The witch, consumed with love, agreed, though she warned it would take time to gather what she needed.
“While the king was away, a servant snuck out of the castle and found the witch. He warned her of who the king really was and why he was there. The witch grew so angry, the betrayal felt as though he had ripped out her heart. she began to plan her revenge plot while the king was away.
“When the king did come, the witch disguised her hatred, for he could not know until it was time, or else she would fail. She led him to the cave, in which she would need. She finished her potion, she instructed the king to drink as she spoke the incantation. She watched as he swallowed it all. Then she smiled as his bones began to break. ‘What have you done to me?’ The king screamed at her. ‘What you asked,’ replied the witch, ‘You wish to have strength far greater than any man, you wish for your senses to be greater. You will get what you wish. From this day forth, you are cursed to be man and wolf, so all may see that you are a beast, incapable of love and devotion. And when they see Wolf, they will scream and run in fear. You will be cast from your crown, your subjects will turn their backs on you, and you will hunt for blood so they will know your true colors. You will suffer.’
“The witch’s words were true. The king was no longer the king. He was a beast. They called him Wolf. They hid their children, locked their homes, and hoped they wouldn’t fall victim to him. but the witch wasn’t done. She gifted Wolf with a mate, a human, orphaned girl with fire in her veins. Wolf stole her in the night. It took many months, but the two fell in love. They completed the mating ritual and he was hers and she was his.
“Wolf forgot about the witch, forgot about the curse she had bestowed on him. His mate gave him a son. And they were joyous. They celebrated for a week. Then a terrible accident happened. His mate was in the woods, picking some berries when a mountain lion attacked her, and thus, she was no more. Wolf found her broken, torn body, and howled in rage, in sorrow. Then he collapsed on her body. The witch appeared before him. ‘Now you know my pain. Now you have suffered.’ Wolf laid by his mate for days before returning to his son, heartbroken. He raised his son until he was old enough to be on his own. The son traveled and found his own mate. And thus, the werewolves were born.”
Serena hadn’t realized she was crying until she smelled the salty tears. She raised her hand and felt her wet cheeks. She wiped them away, praying no one saw them. She hated to be seen as vulnerable and weak.
It was just…how they portrayed the story had hit her hard. The acting was beautiful. The actors were silent, never speaking a word and their movements quiet. The other counselors helped create the scenery by using their bodies. It was beautiful.
“We must always remember how we came to be. Greed and pride will give us nothing but sorrow and suffering.,” Rosalynn spoke proud and true, “Do not follow Wolf’s footsteps. Do not take life for granted. Live your life but always be cautious. Don’t let yourselves be deceived. And never forget to be wary, for it is said that Wolf still roams the woods, looking for the witch. To cross paths with him would be your end.”