As soon as I heard the doorbell ring, I jumped off my bed and sprinted down the stairs. I knew exactly who was waiting at the door. Maia is here! Maia has been my best friend since we were babies. She lived a few doors down and our families became really close since we were born only a few months apart.
“I got it!” I shouted, letting my family know I wanted to get the door. Opening the door, I was attacked with a hug and Maia’s dark brown hair flying into my face. “Maia!” Maia is a couple of inches taller than me with long, wavy brown hair and matching brown eyes. We could be sisters!
“Leia!” Yes, our names do rhyme! We just started laughing as I pulled her inside and shut the door. “I cannot believe this is going to possibly be our last sleepover!” Maia whined and I nodded sadly.
Tomorrow was going to be the day of the Choosing Ceremony. The Choosing Ceremony was held once a year on August 10th where werewolves of age get together to find their mates. You start attending once you are 18 and have until you are 26 before you are assigned a mate. Crazy, I know.
Most people tend to find their mates within the first 2-3 years, so it is only a last resort to ensure the pack line continues. It is especially bad for an alpha to be unable to find his mate. If it is an assigned mate not brought together by the Moon Goddess, it is believed that it will not last and the pack will fall. Glad I am just a beta! Tomorrow will be my first time at the Choosing Ceremony, and man was I nervous.
“Alright, Leia! I brought the movies you requested for our movie binge! I have Mulan, Pirates of the Caribbean, Breakfast Club, and 10 Things I Hate About You.” Maia smiled widely as we walked up to the stairs to my room.
“Perfect. My mom says we have to do our nails and make sure we are perfect for tomorrow.” I rolled my eyes at the thought but could not help feel the butterflies in my stomach at the thought of finding my mate. “We will definitely find our mate!” My wolf, Tala spoke excitedly.
“Aw come on. I know you’re excited about tomorrow even if you try to pretend you aren’t!” Maia teased as we both plopped on my black comforter bed.
“Leia.” I heard my mom call through my door as she knocked before opening it. “Oh hi Maia, dear! How’s your mother?” She smiled at Maia as she walked in, the crinkles around her mouth and eyes forming. My mom is plump and mid-height with short dark brown hair and hazel eyes to match mine.
“Hi Rhea, thanks for having me again! My mom is great. She’s hoping I get chosen tomorrow.” Maia laughed awkwardly at that. Neither of us was ready to go off with some strange male and leave our pack. My mom smiled warmly.
“Well, girls. I know you’re nervous and scared, but I promise you that finding your mate is the best feeling.” It took till my mom’s third ceremony to get chosen, meaning my dad was a bit younger than her. She told me she felt like she was not good enough for a time. “Now that you both received your coming of age tattoos, they’ll react to your mate once he gets close.” I looked down at my inner wrist and lightly touched my moon tattoo.
Once you turn 18, you receive your coming of age tattoo; a moon. Original, I know. It was a very special kind of tattoo that actually changes phases with the real moon phase and is supposed to give off a burning sensation once your mate is near. That is how you know the Moon Goddess has found your match.
“Leia, I just wanted to let you know dinner is ready! We are having spaghetti and meatballs, your favorite.” My mom smiled and I jumped up, giving her a hug. Yummy! I am definitely going to miss mom’s cooking if I leave...
We followed my mom down the stairs where I saw my brother Lance and his mate Corina. I grinned and ran to him, pushing past my mom. Lance is tall and kind of lanky like our dad with messy dark brown hair and hazel eyes. His mate Corina is gorgeous, with straight black hair and big brown eyes.
Since he moved out and started learning about becoming the alpha’s right hand, I have not seen him much. We were always very close. I jumped into his arms as he chuckled and held me.
“Hey, Leia. It’s been a while!” He ruffled my hair and smiled sweetly before looking at Maia and waving. “What’s up Maia?” Maia’s face turned bright red like it always did when Lance was around and I laughed. Maia has had a crush on my brother since we were 10. She was crushed when he found Corina.
“Hi, Lance. I’m excited for tomorrow!” She lied through her teeth, covering up her disappointment at seeing Corina. Corina is great and Maia has never once been rude to her, she just slightly resents her for stealing her ultimate crush.
“Hi girls. I heard there was a movie and nails party tonight!” Corina laughed and hugged us both. She became a great sister-in-law and I’ve never seen my brother happier. Sorry, Maia.
“Come on people. A man is hungry!” I turned to see my dad, chuckling and waving us over.
Dinner with my family was fun and I almost completely forgot about tomorrow’s big event. Almost. We all talked long after we had finished eating, just enjoying each other’s company on what could be my last night home.
Corina and my brother were spending the night so they could come with us to the ceremony tomorrow. After dinner, my mom and Corina came up with us and I knew what they wanted to talk about. Oh boy... Maia and I sat on my bed looking up at Corina and my mom’s faces.
“Now girls. Tomorrow is very important, so do not stay up too late! Alpha Grant will not be happy that his own pack members are late to the ceremony.” My mom scolded, knowing Maia and I always stay up too late.
“We know mom.” Corina laughed at my tone.
“I’m serious Leia.” Her face softened as she touched my cheek. “Of course I would love for you to stay with me forever, but I know how important finding your mate is. So I can’t be selfish! Hopefully, you will be chosen by a male of our own pack. Maybe Alpha Grant’s son, Marco!” My face instantly heated up at her words and my wolf’s ears perked up.
I’ve had a crush on Marco for a long time but I haven’t seen him since he came of age so I have no way of knowing if he’s my destined. Maia must’ve noticed since she gave me a knowing look and I blushed more, playfully hitting her arm.
“Now as for tomorrow, you will be able to get dressed here at home but they want all of the females to have their hair and makeup done at Alpha Grant’s estate. There you will sign in and get a band to mark your rank with your name and pack.” Maia and I nodded, already hearing this many times before. “The Ceremony will be the first. They’ll line all the females up and allow the males to walk around and see if they can find their mate. Then there will be the Ceremony Ball so all the young wolves can mingle and get a better sense of who their true mate may be. The final part will happen the day after. That will be the Running. You girls will be lined up and allowed two minutes to run as fast as you can to the end line. If you get tagged by a male and the Elders have approved it, you have found your destined and will go to live with them. If not, you will have to wait another year for the next ceremony.”
I swallowed hard, taking all the information in. I’ve heard this a million times, but it didn’t feel real until today. I shivered with a mixture of excitement and nerves. Corina noticed and smiled at me gently.
“Don’t worry Leia. It’s scary but you’re with so many other she-wolves that feel the same way as you.” I nodded.
“Alright, we won’t take up your time any longer. I think I taught you well enough.” My mom smiled. “Have fun girls and don’t stay up too late! Don’t forget to paint your nails!” I shook my head at my mom laughing as she hugged Maia and me goodnight.
“Thanks, mom, thanks, Corina.” They both nodded and smiled before leaving and shutting my door.
“Oh, goddess!” Maia sighed loudly and I laughed. “That just made me way more nervous... I’m so scared about tomorrow. I hope my mate is nice like Lance.” I rolled my eyes at her comment.
“Maia! I love my brother, but you’ll definitely find a better mate than Lance!” We both laughed.
“I hope so. My wolf is getting anxious, wanting so bad to meet our mate.” I nodded in agreement, feeling Tala pacing around excitedly. “So you’re hoping to get chosen by Marco, huh?” Maia teased and I groaned loudly, a blush creeping up my cheeks.
“What? We both know you’ve been crushing on his cute self for years! Did you think I missed your little blush when your mom brought him up?” She gave me a knowing smirk and I hid my face in my hands.
“Well, I don’t know if I want to get chosen yet... I mean, of course, I want to be chosen. My wolf has been aching for our mate since I turned 18. But I just don’t think I’m ready!” Maia nodded in agreement and I sighed. “Besides, even though we haven’t seen Marco since he became of age, don’t you think when he turned I would sense something if he was my mate?” Sadness filled my heart at the thought of my long-time crush finding another mate. Maia rubbed my arm to comfort me and smiled.
“I’m sure whoever your destined is will be wonderful Leia. We won’t know until the Moon Goddess shows us our mates.”
“I hope we don’t get separated,” I whispered sadly.
“Stop! No sad talk missy! Let’s not think about that. Besides, I’ll fight anyone who tells me I can’t visit my best friend even after we get chosen.” I laughed at her remark and nodded. “Let’s watch a movie! What should we watch first?” She dug in her bag to show me the four movies she brought.
“Mulan.” She grinned. “Let’s get into pajamas first and grab the nail polishes.”
I went to my drawer as Maia dug through her bag again to get our pajamas. I pulled out a blank tank that read “Eat a lot. Sleep a lot.” and a pair of white and black striped shorts. I sighed contently as I took for my bra. So annoying! Quickly changing right there, I turned to see Maia changed too. We are way too close to be worried about seeing each other undressed. I grinned at her grey “Rebel Girl” tank and blue shorts.
“Nice.” I winked her and we laughed.
I high fived her before grabbing my bag of nail polish bottles and sitting on the floor next to her. Don’t want to mess up my bed with nail polish. I started setting up the movie while Maia looked through my colors to find the one she wanted. She chose a pale matte pink and I went and got my dark matte blue.
The night continued like this. Watching all our movies, chatting up a storm, and painting our nails. We both decided to give each other one nail on each hand a design to make our nails look fancy. It was definitely one of the best nights with my best friend. It wasn’t long after our nails fully dried that we curled up into my bed getting ready to sleep before our big day.
“Leia. I’m going to miss you if we get separated.” Maia whispered she started to tear up.
“I know Maia. I hope we don’t have to. But if we do, let’s visit all the time.” I smiled at her trying not to tear up myself. This event is so stressful, but the wolf in me is so excited for tomorrow I know it’ll be hard to sleep.
Maia luckily fell asleep soon after, probably exhausted from all the pressure and worry. She’s an only child so her parents have been freaked out a bit about her leaving. I couldn’t stop thinking about tomorrow and stayed awake for at least another hour.
“I hope I get chosen by a good mate. I hope he loves me.” I whispered to myself over and over. “Don’t worry Leia, we will be chosen by a great mate.” Tala, my wolf, tried reassuring me. After what felt like forever, my eyes finally closed and I fell into a deep slumber.