I make my way downstairs for some much-needed coffee. Sleep has evaded me for weeks now, and I know why. Him. I have been trying to find him since my first shift 10 years ago. My mother always told me my mate would be my everything. If only I could find him. I am now twenty-six years old and still haven’t seen hide nor hair of him. For all I know, he could be dead.
I live in Wisconsin and currently stay in the pack house. It’s a beautiful place, really. Snow-covered forests and glistening, frosted lakes make up most of my pack’s territory. We have a small pack, 24 wolves to be exact. The pack house is a two-story lodge with a beautiful kitchen and enough rooms for all the unmated wolves, which isn’t many.
I finally make my way downstairs and walk into the kitchen; a huge masterpiece of a room with all stainless-steel appliances and beautiful hardwood flooring. I put on some coffee and stare out the huge window in front of the sink. Nothing but rural, frost-bitten country for miles. I genuinely love it here. It’s so quiet and peaceful I barely register someone walking into the kitchen behind me.
“Good morning, Lex," my brother, Adam, says.
“Morning," I acknowledge. “Want some coffee?”
“Should that even be a question?” he smirks.
Adam has always been my best friend and mentor. Our father passed away when we were very young, and our mother raised us the best she could until she passed a few years back.
Our dad was a beta, so Adam was expected to take on that role when he became old enough. Alpha Greg, our alpha, took him under his wing and taught him everything he needed to know, how to fight when needed, and how to avoid conflict when possible. Alpha taught him how to truly be a leader.
“Where were you last night?” he asks me.
“I went for a run. I needed to clear my head, and my wolf wouldn’t leave me alone.”
He knows how I feel about finding my mate. It has all but consumed me this past year, but he just says to have patience, that my time will come. I want to believe him, but it’s so hard when you have been looking for as long as I have. Most wolves find their mates shortly after their first shift.
“Ah. Well, before I forget, I wanted to let you know the alpha from the Southridge pack and a few of his warriors will be down tomorrow to discuss some territory issues.”
“Okay, and why are you telling me this?” I ask him, tensing slightly. Everyone knows who the Southridge pack is. I have heard their alpha is ruthless, a monster. He takes what he wants and kills whoever tries to stop him.
“We haven’t had a visit from the Southridge pack in years, not since their new alpha took over, so I don’t really know what to expect. You know what everyone says about him. Alpha wants everyone to keep their eyes and ears open. We don’t want a fight.”
I nod and wait for him to continue.
“Also, I’m going to need you to ask Linda and Julie to help you cook enough food to feed everyone when they arrive.”
I pour myself a cup of coffee and glare at him.
“I’ll ask, but you know those two,” I tell him while pouring him a cup as well. “You have to literally beg them to do anything. Can Gennie not help?”
Gennie is my brother’s mate and my only friend. There aren’t many wolves here so I’m as close to being a loner as you can get.
“She would, but she’s in charge over cleaning and fixing up the dining hall.”
He takes his cup of coffee and turns around to leave. Before walking out the door, he looks back over his shoulder at me.
“Keep your head up. You will find him soon, and he will absolutely adore you,” he says and leaves.
I roll my eyes as I grab a bagel and finish my coffee. Glancing at the clock, I notice it’s time to start getting ready for work.
I go back upstairs to my room and undress. Stepping in front of the large bathroom mirror, I take in my long, black hair that falls to my waist and big emerald green eyes that stare hollowly back at me. My gaze travels down to the endless curves that shape my body, and I let out a long sigh.
Turning on the hot water, I step under the warm spray. I can’t help but think of my mate as I scrub myself clean. My wolf whimpers over the thought of him, of not having him. She has been shutting herself off from me more lately, only wanting to come out to roam thinking she can track him down.
Stepping out of the shower, I towel off quickly and grab a pair of ripped jeans and a black, low cut tank top. I throw them on and dry my hair before adding a touch of mascara.
After lacing up my boots, I head outside to my ’78 Pontiac Fire Bird and crank the ignition. Rainier Fog by Alice in Chains blasts through the speakers, and for a little while, I forget about everything else.
The drive to work only takes five minutes. Working at a bar isn’t what I had imagined doing growing up, but it does allow me to get out and meet new people.
As soon as I arrive, I go straight behind the bar and begin cleaning up before the customers start piling in. I hear someone come through the front door and look up. Gennie, my brother’s mate and my coworker, comes through the door and gives me a questioning look.
“Why didn’t you answer your phone last night?”
“I had a lot on my mind. Just went out for a run and didn’t get back ’til really late,” I tell her.
She gives me a small, pity-filled smile.
“Don’t look at me like that.”
“I just want you to be happy,” she smiles sadly.
She comes around to behind the bar and starts drying the glasses that I’m washing, and I give her my biggest smile.
“I’ll be fine. Just need to keep busy so I can keep my mind from wandering so much.”
She finally drops it, and we finish cleaning by the time customers begin to arrive. A couple hours later, the night is in full swing. Bar patrons, humans and wolves alike, are pouring in, and I can tell it’s going to be a long night.