O N E
9 YEARS AFTER THE WOLF MOON
“Are you sure you have everything?” Kassi asked anxiously as she paced back and forth “Your textbooks? Clothes? Snacks for the road?”
I closed the trunk of my car and leaned against it as I watched my sister go into full freak out mode.
“Kass” I laughed and grabbed her by the shoulders “Relax and try to take a deep breath”
She gave me a worried look but did as I said, closing her eyes and inhaling a huge breath of air through her nose
“You okay now?” I asked with raised brows “Because if not, I can call Rhys out here to take you home”
She sniffled “I’m going to miss you”
“Awe” I pulled her in for a hug “I’m going to miss you too”
Her arms wrapped around me tighter
“Why’d you have to choose a college so far away?”
“It’s in California Kass” I snickered “Not so far away”
“And you couldn’t pick a college here?” Kassi sniffled “Like I did?”
“It’s a three hour flight Kassi” I sighed and pulled away “Plus, I like California. I’m kind of sick of Texas”
“But your whole family’s here”
“That’s the point Kassi” I said “I need to experience all that life has to offer and I can’t do that when I have you, Orion, Mom and Dad, AND the whole werewolf community breathing down my back and watching me like hawks, waiting to come to my rescue whenever you feel like I’m in danger”
“We don’t do that!” Kassi defended
I gave her a look
“Yes you do”
“Okay... maybe we do coddle you to much” Her shoulders slumped in defeat “But we have a good reason to coddle you”
“Kass” I grasped her shoulders “I know I wasn’t the most healthiest child when I was younger but ever since I shifted, I’ve been fine. We got to chalk my illnesses up to not being surrounded by a Pack”
“Okay, you’re right. I’m overreacting” Kassi sighed and ran a hand through her hair “But did you have to make a road trip out of this?”
“I think it’ll be fun” I defended
“Yeah, if you had friends going with you” She raised an eyebrow “Why don’t you take Shawn’s step-brother or even one of Everly’s sisters? They’re heading that way anyways”
I raised an eyebrow
“They’re batsh-” she gave me a look and slapped my shoulder
“That’s rich coming from you” I rolled my eyes “Considering that you curse like a sailor”
“I curse,” she made a face “A reasonable amount”
“Yeah” I snickered “For a sailor”
“ARES!” she smacked me again “I’m being serious here”
I grasped her shoulders “Kass, you’re freaking out again”
She sighed and leaned against me
“Why’d you have to grow up?” she grumbled “I liked you better when you were little. When you listened to me”
“I had to grow up sometime shorty” I teased, calling her by the nickname she hated.
“How dare you!” She gasped “I’m 5′7"! It’s not my fault you had a growth spurt after you shifted and became a 6′2 giant!”
“Okay Kass” I checked my watch “I still have to swing by Mom and Dad’s to say goodbye”
“Fine” Kassi sniffled, rubbing her tears on my shirt “Call me when you get on the freeway”
“How about I call you when I get to a rest stop?”
She raised an eyebrow
“Kassi” I sighed “I’m not going to be calling you every thirty minutes”
“Fine” she said “Call me when you get to the first rest stop”
I grinned “Deal”
“And call me when you get to Kaden’s”
“Remember I’m only staying with Kaden until my apartment’s ready”
“Are you sure you don’t want to take Mom and Dad up on their offer to pay for your apartment while you’re in school?”
“No Kass” I said firmly “I want to do this on my own”
“There’s nothing wrong with asking for help” she said “It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you smart”
“I’ll be okay Kass” I gave her a reassuring smile “And if not, I give you permission to step in and say I told you so”
“Oh I will” she grinned “And I’ll get Kaden to ship your ass back here”
I chuckled “Always cursing”
“Okay, I see your point” she chuckled “Now get out of here before I make Rhys lock you in our guest room”
I jumped in my car before she could change her mind
“DON’T FORGET WHAT I SAID!” She yelled “OR ELSE!
I chuckled “Only sisters”
Because both Kassi’s house and my parents house were built in the middle of freaking nowhere, and because the women in the family still saw me as a baby, a huge chunk of my time was wasted traveling between houses and consoling the women in my life.
Right when I was about to get to the edge of town and merge on the freeway, my whole dashboard lit up.
“Dammit” I hit my steering wheel before pulling over to the side of the road and hitting on my hazard lights.
I got out of the car and checked both my tires and the engine.
“You got to be kidding me!” I said in exasperation as I stared at both my overheating engine and popped tires.
I sighed before heading back in my car to grab my phone.
I quickly dialed my best friend, whose dad happened to own a garage close by, and leaned against the passenger’s side door
“Hey Bud!” Max said loudly into the phone “How’s the road treating you?”
“Crappy” I grumbled
“You missing your mommy?” he snickered “Already? Dude, it’s been like an hour since you last saw them?”
“Shove it Max” I growled “And listen. Send me your father’s number. I got three flat tires and an overheating engine by King’s road. I need him to come work his magic on my car”
“You need me to come pick you up?” He sounded serious and a little worried
“No” I sighed “I pasted Lorelei’s about fifteen minutes ago. It shouldn’t be that far to walk”
“You sure dude?” He asked “Because I don’t have trouble picking you up and bringing you back here”
“I’m sure” I sighed “Might as well say goodbye to Lorelei and have her homemade meatloaf one last time”
“Say hi to Nikki for me!” He said
I hung up on him and called his father, explaining my predicament to him before locking my car.
I started walking to the Lorelei’s diner after our conversation ended with him promising me that he’ll try his hardest to fix my car.
A half hour later, I entered the diner that was a hometown favorite of mine and probably one of the only things that I would miss in Texas.
“Well if it isn’t Little Ares Dimitriou all grown up!” A familiar voice said from behind the counter
I smiled “Hi Lorelei”
The older woman smiled before rounding the counter and engulfing me in a tight hug.
“Word around town is that you’re moving for college today” she said after releasing me
“I am” I sighed “Or I was until my car started giving me trouble”
“Is Tony taking care of it?” She gave me a worried look before ushering me to my favorite table in the back.
“Yeah” I said “I called him a half hour ago and told him what happened. Max just texted me that he’s looking at it now”
“Oh babydoll” she said pinching my cheek “Let me get you something to eat while you wait. You want your usual?”
“I be right back” she patted my cheek “And later, I’ll give you a slice of my ten layer chocolate cake”
I put a hand over my heart
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again” I grinned “Will you marry me Lorelei?”
She chuckled and patted my shoulder
“And what would my grandchildren think?” she said “If I ran off with a stud like you?”
“Who cares!” I grabbed her hand “We’ll be happy!”
“Oh hush boy” she giggled, walking away from me “Or you’ll get me in trouble”
“It would be so worth it!” I called after her
A text came in and I winced when I saw who it was from
Kass: How’s the open road treating you?
Me: It’s peaceful
I cringed at my lie but if she found out something was wrong with my car, she would think it was a sign from the universe telling me not to go and do everything in her power to keep me home.
The only reason she didn’t know what was going on now was because Max, Tony, and Lorelei were all humans who didn’t know supernaturals existed.
Another text came in and I was about reply to it when a throat cleared.
My head snapped up and I was suddenly very aware of the beauty standing in front of me.
How could I not be when she smelt like warm chocolate cake and frosting.
“Hi Ares” the beauty said, her cheeks tinting pink
I sat there speechless and although I recognized her voice, I couldn’t place her face.
The girl lost her smile
“Well...uh...this is awkward” she muttered “I’m just going to go”
“No wait!” I yelled, grabbing her hand “Please sit!”
Tingles went up my arm starting from where we were connect and I couldn’t help but bite my lip at the sensation.
The beauty sat and smiled at me.
“I know we’ve met before” I leaned forward “But I can’t place my finger on exactly where”
“It’s been a while since we last saw each other” she gave me a sheepish smile “But it’s me, Madi. Mia’s sister”
“Madison!” My eyes widened “I haven’t seen you since we were fifteen”
Her eyes darkened and she looked away, twisting her hands on the table top.
I frowned and placed my hands on top of hers “Are you okay Mads?”
She bit her lip, avoiding my gaze “I’m fine”
“Madi” I leaned forward “It’s me. You can talk to me about anything”
Her eyes started tearing up as she caught my gaze
“I was so stupid!” She sniffled “So so stupid!”
“Why?” My eyes softened “What makes you think you’re stupid?”
“They told me not to go” she said “They told me not to go with him”
A surge of jealousy overcame me when she mentioned a guy but I quickly squashed that down.
‘Not now Ares!’ I told myself ‘Now is not the time!’
“Go with who?”
She looked away
“The reason we haven’t seen each other for so long was because I ran away” she sniffled
My eyes widened and I sat back in my chair
“You ran away?” I whispered “Why?”
“Because I was young and stupid” She let out a bitter laugh “And because I was fooled into thinking what I had was love”
“What do you mean?”
She sighed and lowered her gaze
“When I was fifteen I met a guy at Nick’s party” she said “You remember Nick right?”
“The class douche?” I snorted “Yeah, I remember him”
She gave me a faint smile “The only reason he hated you was because you were the sweetest guy in our class”
“No, he hated me because I was the class dork” I laughed “You know, the typical high school story”
“The cutest dork” her eyes widened as she realized what she said and she blushed a beautiful pink color.
I grinned but said nothing
She continued on with her story
“Anyways” she sighed “I met this guy at Nick’s party. He was one of Nick’s older brother’s friend and at the time, so nice and charming”
I didn’t like where this was going and I shifted uncomfortably in my seat as she continued on with the story.
“He was seventeen, two years older than I was and after a few weeks, we began dating” she looked away “When he turned eighteen, he asked if I wanted to go to New York with him while he attended NYU and I said yes”
My eyes widened “You didn’t”
“What did your parents do?” I asked “Did you even tell them?”
“No” she looked ashamed “I couldn’t even face them so I just packed up some of my stuff and left a note”
“What about Mia?” I asked “Did she do anything?”
“She and Matt followed me to New York and tried to convince me to come back” she said “But I wouldn’t let them take me back”
“So you stayed”
“I thought it was love”
“Oh Madi” I grabbed her hand and rubbed soothing circles on her knuckles “It’s okay”
“No it’s not!” She sniffled “I’ve should have known! I should have seen the signs!”
My stomach dropped
“What signs” I whispered shakily
She remained quiet
“Madi, what signs?” I said a little more forcefully
“As soon as he started to settle in at NYU, he began to act different” she said softly “The sweet and charming guy I feel in love was no longer there”
“Did he hurt you?” I asked, my tone firmer than before “Madison, tell me the truth. Did he hurt you?”
“Not physically” was all she said
“And your Wolf?” I asked
“She disagreed with my choice” She said “And therefore, she stopped communicating with me after I left. It’s been two years since I last shifted”
My Wolf started pacing inside of me and my eyes widened at the word he was repeating over and over.
“MATE! MATE! MATE!”
I leaned back in shock, looking at Madison in a whole new light.
I’ve known her for the longest time, she was my first true friend that I made here in Texas and the only girl I really connected with. When she disappeared at fifteen, I was heartbroken and found myself constantly thinking about her. On my sixteenth birthday when I didn’t find my Mate, I was relieved. I guess there was a little part of me that still held out for hope that she could be my Mate, my forever girl, whenever she came home.
Guess I was right
“Ares?” She touched my hand and tingles raced up my arm “Are you-”
He voice was cut off when Nikki came from the back office, a crying baby boy in her arms
“Sorry to bother you Madi” she said in a nervous tone “But Markos won’t stop crying”
Madi quickly rushed towards Nikki and scooped the little boy out of her arms
“It’s okay baby” Madi cooed “Mama’s here”
My mouth dropped open in shock
Madi winced and came closer to me
“Ares, I want you to meet Markos” she kissed the baby’s chubby cheek as he began sniffling “My son”
I sat there in silence, staring at the little guy in equal parts awe and equal parts sadness.
“If you’ll excuse me” I stood abruptly “I have to use the restroom”
Her face fell slightly before she gave me a small nod
I quickly made my way to the bathroom and locked the stall behind me before leaning against it.
After a few breaths, I slide my phone out of my back pocket.
Me: There’s been a change of plans
Kassi: What the hell does that mean?
Me: I’ve decided to stay in Texas
Kassi: Really? 😃🤪
Kassi: What changed your mind?
If she only knew
Me: Let’s just say the universe gave me a sign to let me know Texas still had something to offer me.
Well, two somethings to offer me but I didn’t want her to find out just quite yet.