Riding with the Pack

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Chapter 9

Tessa

Having breakfast that morning may have been the most painstaking hour of my entire fucking life. Of course my mother had insisted on having everyone over for a huge family meal to ease the awkwardness (and hangovers) from last night’s events.

I scarfed down my food as quickly as possible in hopes that I would be allowed to hide in my room for the rest of the day, but to no such luck. Now I was just sitting here picking at my empty plate while my dads made uncomfortable small talk with the pile of vampire vomit at the end of our beloved kitchen table.

Great, he sat at it. I sneered mentally. Time to burn it!

“Tessie bear? Are you okay?” My mom asked in an overly sweet tone.

“Huh? Yeah, I’m fine.” I replied curtly, not having really been in the mood for small talk.

I highly doubted that Ethan would try anything here with my dad being in such close proximity, but I still kept my guard up. I hadn’t uttered a word to my father about what had happened on our date, or last night for that matter, but I could tell that he sensed it.

He knew something was going on between us and he could tell that the bastard made me uncomfortable. That was more than enough for him to validate hating his guts as much as I did, and I loved him for that.

“Hey dad, after breakfast do you want to go for a walk around the woods?” I initiated with forced enthusiasm. “I saw those deer tracks again.”

My dad knew just as well as I that there weren’t any deer tracks. I just needed to get him alone. I needed to say goodbye. I could’ve packed up and left last night had I chose to, but besides the fact that I was still hammered when I got home, I also wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if I left without bidding my father a proper farewell.

“Well I don’t see why not,” he smiled at me, crinkling his big blue eyes as he did. “Just let me clean up my gun first and we can get going.”

He put extra emphasis on the word ‘gun’ and side-eyed Ethan when he said it, causing the coward to gulp loudly.

“Oh no you don’t!” My mom began and I rolled my eyes. “You two aren’t going anywhere! If you go into those woods we won’t see you again ’til supper.”

“We’re having a family day today,” Ryan boomed. “End of story.”

I just wanted a little alone time with MY dad, is that too much to ask?!

“Well then,” my dad spoke. “Maybe another time, bud.”

But there won’t be another time! I wanted to blurt out but I couldn’t afford to make that mistake.

I couldn’t admit my plan to anyone, they’d try to stop me or tell Ethan. Or worse, MOM! Hell, she was pushing this wedding more than anybody and since I was scheduled for holy matrimony tomorrow afternoon, I couldn’t risk any slip-ups.

“Okay,” I uttered quietly.

“Oh don’t pout, we’re gonna have fun!” Grace soothed.

“Well, probably not as much fun as you had last night, but still.” Monica chided as she stood up to rid of her plate.

I couldn’t understand how she could be so cruel. She obviously saw that something had happened between Ethan and I last night! I was sobbing and holding my torn dress that had been ripped to shreds when she returned with a roll of toilet paper last night. She saw me bolt out of there like a bat out of hell and she had the fucking nerve to refer to my assault as FUN!

“What the HELL is that supposed to mean?!” I snapped, more than ready to claw her smug little hazel eyes out in front of everyone.

The table fell silent and Ryan cleared his throat tensely while Gavin tried to make up some excuse about having to go check the mail. My mom’s eyes looked like they were ready to pop out of her head at any moment.

My dad simply looked on with a blank expression while Grace was giving me a look of pity. Monica was still stunned that I had snapped off that quickly at her and Ethan looked as though he was ready to jump out of his skin.

“Um, I was just making a joke ab-” Monica began to explain herself but I interrupted her furiously.

“ABOUT?!” I interjected loudly, much to the discomfort of everyone else.

Gavin decided to hurry in his quest of checking the mail and my mom was searching the room for answers. Monica cleared her throat before continuing.

About your little drunken strip tease last night but I honestly thought you’d be too wasted to remember it.” She sneered.

“Oh, that.” Was all I could think to say in return, having realized that she wasn’t attempting to poke fun at the abuse I'd been subjected to at the hands of her lover.

“What’d you think I was-?” Monica questioned.

“Nothing,” I interrupted again and excused myself from the table to do my laundry.

In reality, I really did need to get my clothes washed. In my partially sober daze last night I had managed to lay out most of the clothes that I would be needing for my great departure.

I had gone through them this morning to make sure I wasn’t just carrying around everything that I thought was cute, but that I was only packing the absolute essentials. Unfortunately for me, most of the essentials were in dire need of a wash.

I emptied one of my sister’s laundry baskets and carefully tossed in each item of clothing that I was absolutely sure I would need while I was on the road. My favorite black skinny jeans, two pairs of black leggings that fit just right, my oversized red flannel, eleven of my most beloved shirts that mostly consisted of crop-tops, two bras, my Bon Jovi hoodie, along with as many socks and cute underwear that I could stuff into my backpack.

That was all I was bringing, one backpack and my mini purse backpack. I came to the conclusion that I’d be better off escaping if I only brought what I could easily carry or run with if I had to.

I loaded my clothes into the washing machine quickly and reentered the family room with a sigh. I gave Monica a half assed apology and decided to try and enjoy spending as much time with my family as possible.

This may very well be the last time I’d ever spend with any of them, and I intended to make the most of it whether Ethan was there or not. By tonight, I’d be gone and he could never hurt me again so why the hell should I worry?

We had spent the rest of that morning talking and laughing like the good old days. My parents reminisced about the outrageous things we did when we were kids. My sisters and I even admitted to a few things that we got away with when we were younger that caused our mom to blush and our dads to burst out laughing.

We danced like idiots to old music and my dad twirled me around the living room for a good hour. Grace and I even redid our move from last night, without falling and flashing everyone!

I had been having such a good time that I barely even noticed Ethan was there at all. He just sat in the guest chair quietly chuckling and studying our family dynamic from afar like a good little creep.

At one point while we were all playing karaoke, Monica had invited him to sing with her and it was at that moment that I remembered to throw my laundry into the dryer. A much needed escape since Ethan’s singing voice hurt my ears way more than his fangs ever could.

Seriously, the man sounded like a wet cat being thrown into a garbage disposal.

I had been busy giggling at my own joke which made me completely oblivious to my surroundings once again. Damn, being this funny really was a curse.

A curse that muffled my hearing long enough for someone to sneak up behind me and smack my ass. I spun around with my claws bared, ready to slice Ethan’s face into mince meat.

“Whoa! Hey! It’s me!” Grace yelled with her hands in the air.

“Jesus, Grace!” I huffed out, truly relieved that I wasn’t about to get assaulted for the third time this month. “Don’t do that! I could’ve killed you!”

“Yeah, right!” She snorted. “Please, I know all of your moves like the back of my hand. You wouldn’t stand a chance.”

“Don’t push it,” I glared. “Why did you follow me down here anyways?”

“I just,” she began quietly as her eyes lost their previous playfulness. “I just wanted to make sure you were alright. I mean last night was-”

“I’m fine!” I assured as I tried to step past her to join the party upstairs. “So I flashed everyone, it’s not a big deal. I mean, who hasn’t?”

“You know that’s not what I meant.” Grace deadpanned and gripped my wrist gently.

“Grace,” I sighed, not wanting to get into this right now. “I’m fine.”

“Okay well, I just needed to make sure.” She shrugged. “Because, if you’re not you can tell me. Okay? I believe you now one-hundred percent, and I already threatened him for you.”

“What’d you say?!” I asked in total shock.

Did she just admit to threatening her own husband for me?

“I told him that if he ever touched you like that again, I’d chop his dick off and feed it to a pack of werewolves.” Grace replied nonchalantly as she admired her perfect manicure.

“Why would you do that?” I inquired, genuinely confused.

“Well, you’re my sister.” She admitted while still avoiding eye contact with me. "My favorite sister actually, but if you tell anyone that I will deny it and you'll somehow get ‘accidentally’ get shoved in front of a bus.”

“How am I your favorite sister?” I argued. “You’re literally the biggest bitch to me.”

“Um, hello that’s how I express love! Keep up!” She snipped. “Anyways, I am totally over all of this mushy bullshit. But if you ever need to talk or whatever, I’m here and I will actually listen. If you need anything tell me, ’kay?”

“Okay,” I finally agreed with a swollen heart. “Thanks Grace.”

“Yeah, whatever.” She rolled her eyes, which I now knew was out of discomfort.

She didn’t like showing her emotions and I’ve always known that. I just didn’t know that she used her snide comments and sarcastic replies to mask her true feelings. Now that I thought about it, she might have been the meanest to me because she liked me the most.

We did have a lot of the same interests and we spent way more time together growing up than we did Monica. Monica was always busy trying to be exactly like Ryan which was ridiculously annoying.

Grace and I would go bug hunting together and spend hours braiding each other's hair at night. Our parents had forced us to bunk separately because we would just stay awake all night talking until the sun came up and then wake up exhausted the next morning. We used to sneak out to rock concerts in the middle of the night and flirt with older guys before running home in a fit of giggles.

She was still the only other person to have seen me in my feline form. We used to turn deep in the woods and wrestle with each other until our lungs burned and our paws bled. We had grown apart a little bit as we got older since she started spending more time with Monica, but I guess that might have been due to her being hell bent on finding our mate.

Maybe we could’ve gotten closer if I wasn’t leaving. The thought pained my heart and I had to fight back tears.

We ran back upstairs and I continued to make the best of our last night together. I grabbed Grace and we sang some of the stupidest songs imaginable. Eventually, we pulled mom and Monica up to partake in our little bubble of fun. By the time we were finished, our dads were up singing with us and mom was dancing on the coffee table like a madwoman.

The day went by far too fast and I wasn’t ready to let it end. Everyone had been having such a good time goofing off that none of us realized that we were dangerously close to entering the early hours of morning until the cinnamon eyed devil alerted us to the time.

“Welp, it’s getting kind of late.” Ethan murmured while the rest of us were still breathless from laughing so hard. “Let’s not forget that we have a wedding to attend to in the morning.”

“Way to ruin the mood,” I blurted without thinking.

My face reddened at my snarky remark as I remembered the last time I had gotten snippy with Ethan. Luckily, my dad chimed in with a witty comment of his own that successfully took my mind off of the horrid memories.

“Ah! That’s perfect!” My father proclaimed. “Mood Killer! That’s what I’ll call you.”

“Oh no, Mr. Davis you don’t have to.” Ethan tried to argue with my father politely but it was no use. He’d made up his mind.

“Oh, I insist!” He waved him off with a cheesy grin. “Besides, it’s better than calling you Annoying Little Fuckface now isn’t it wittle guy?”

I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I erupted with laughter and tears stained my cheeks at my dads hilarity. Unfortunately, his joke did seem to sour the mood for everyone else as my sisters obediently filed behind Ethan with their coats. Grace gave me a slightly concerned look to see if I wanted her to stay but I waved her off. I needed to be alone tonight.

“Yeah, well this has been fun. Thanks so much for inviting me Mrs. Davis,” he thanked my mother before turning to me. “You know you’re free to come with us if you want, Tess.”

“It’s Tessa,” I corrected sharply. “And why would I want to do that when I’m going to be stuck with you all day tomorrow and possibly for the rest of my freaking life?” I questioned sarcastically.

“Noted,” he replied shortly and thankfully walked out the door without another word.

My sisters were close behind and before long, I was left with an empty house and my parents. Deciding that now would be as good a time as any to get some much needed quality time with my dad, I jumped on it. I hugged and kissed my mom before she went into her room for the night and quickly did the same with my sister’s dads. Gavin was pleasantly surprised at my unusual display of affection, whereas Ryan was more suspicious.

“What’s all this for?” He asked with his eyes slit.

“What? I can’t hug my mom and dads before going to bed anymore?” I questioned as innocently as possible.

“You never have before so what’s the occasion?” He interrogated assertively.

I could tell he was losing his patience.

“I’m getting married tomorrow and probably moving out so I won’t have the chance to do this anymore,” I replied quietly, allowing some of the tears that I had been refusing to shed bubble in my eyes. “Is that a good enough excuse for you?”

Ryan’s eyes immediately softened and he pulled me into a tight hug while whispering apologies into my hair. I wasn’t exactly close to Ryan at all, mainly because he was a total dick, but he still helped to raise me. I’d have to miss him a little bit and I knew that even if I hated him, not hugging him would only raise more suspicions.

Once I was released from his grasp, I made my way over to my dad’s side of the couch and grabbed his large hands. I then yanked him to his feet with all of my strength and earned a deep bellied chuckle out of him.

“Can you tuck me in?” I asked with the biggest doe-eyes I could muster.

“Wow honey, you haven’t asked me to do that since you were nine!” He seemed surprised, but also happy.

He agreed and we made our way to my mess of a room. He pulled the covers over my small frame and nuzzled in beside me, holding me in a long hug that I wished would last forever. I didn’t realize I had been crying until I felt my dad’s massive fingers wipe away several stray tears.

“What’s on your mind, sweetie?” He asked kindly.

I sunk deeper into his embrace before speaking.

“I’m scared,” I replied honestly. "I’ve never left home before and I'm not ready to go."

“I know, bud but these things happen.” My dad answered. “It’s a big part of growing up, so is marriage.”

“I don’t want to marry him, dad.” I pouted.

“Can I tell you a secret?” My dad inquired, sparking my curiosity.

I nodded vigorously and looked up into his loving blue orbs.

“I didn’t want to marry your mother either.” He admitted in a whisper. “I wanted to be my own person and live my own life. I wasn’t ready to settle down yet.”

“So what’d you do?” I asked desperately.

“Well, I tried to run away.” He answered and I gasped.

My dad had been a runaway groom?!

“Notice I said tried. Ryan and Gavin practically dragged my butt all the way down the aisle.” He snickered at the memory.

“Were you mad?” I questioned. “I mean, they basically forced you to marry mom. You had to be pissed.”

“Oh, I was furious! Hell, I didn’t say a word to your mother for a good week after that.” He continued. “Then when I did, all I’d do was argue with her. I kind of hated her.”

“When did you start loving her?” I inquired.

“Well, I stopped loathing her existence after a few months of getting to know her. But, it took time. You see, I wasn’t just angry at her, I hated my brothers too!” He clarified. “It took a long time before I knew things would work out after that.”

“Well when did you know?” I asked desperately.

“Hm, I guess when you were born.” He looked down at me and smiled. “Yeah, definitely when you were born. As soon as I held you in my arms I knew I’d never leave. You grabbed onto my pinky finger for a good hour and wouldn’t let go. I’d never felt so needed in my entire life. As soon as you looked up at me with those big brown eyes and that gummy little smile I knew that I’d stick around for as long as you needed me.” He finished with moist eyes.

“I’ll always need you, dad.” I sniffled and gripped him tighter, my nails pricking his skin a bit but he didn’t seem to mind.

“I know, and I’ll always be here.” He promised, sealing it with a kiss on my forehead.

After that, we cuddled and talked for a little while longer. I latched onto every spare moment that I could spend with this man. I drank in his scent and demanded his affection like there was no tomorrow.

Because there wasn’t. I would never get the chance to lay with my dad like this ever again and I knew it. This would be the last time, and I savored every moment of it until his comforting presence lulled me into a deep child-like sleep.

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