Tessa felt like she was having a staring contest with her white ceiling as she laid awake listening to the serene drops of rain against her window. Once again, she was awake well before her alarm even thought about going off, but after having another sleepless night, Tessa wasn’t going to be missing the lost hours. For many, today would seem like another rainy day, but for her, it marked seven years since she lost her family forever. This time always brought her back to the past and eventually, as she continued staring up at her ceiling, the sound of the rain faded away while her memories consumed her.
Everyone adored and respected the Alpha and Luna of the Blue Ridge Pack. They were both strong, kind, and confident, but most importantly they were fair. Tessa was only sixteen at the time of their deaths and hadn’t yet shifted into her wolf, which was not uncommon of a future Alpha. Yet looking back, she wished she could have seen their faces fill with pride, while her younger brother watched her in awe. It was still her dream to witness the look of approval from her father and the unconditional love from her mother. Tessa knew both her parents would have told her she was meant for greatness, but now it was a dream that would never be fulfilled.
Although she was also stricken with grief, Tessa’s Grandmother was kind enough to care for her and made sure she strictly continued her training. She remembered spending hours with the pack’s Beta John. He was her father’s closest friend. John would make it a point to include her in all the meetings and administrative paperwork, while her Uncle Tyler, who was also the Gamma of her pack, trained her in hand to hand combat and physical fitness.
The drive of wanting to make her parents proud pushed Tessa to be the best she could be. She knew the only way to earn the pack's respect as their Alpha was to prove she was worthy of it from the beginning. But, as a female it was already difficult, trying to convince them she was strong enough for the title, and now with her parents gone she could smell and feel the doubt in the air. It was always the former Alpha’s approval that mattered the most and without it, Tessa couldn’t escape the feeling she wasn’t ever going to be good enough.
There were often moments she found herself alone and let herself become the vulnerable sixteen-year-old girl who was grieving the loss of her family. She wondered why the Moon Goddess was testing her in such a harsh way, but after a few moments, she’d brush herself off and stare into the eyes of her young reflection in the mirror. “An Alpha must be strong.” she’d say, repeating those words like a mantra until it became embedded into her very being, erasing all feelings of sadness and self-doubt. Tessa trained harder, took control of her surroundings, and demanded she'd be heard at every pack meeting. Eventually, all the other Alpha’s addressed her directly. John didn’t even need to speak on her behalf at all.
Between her extra training and new responsibilities, Tessa found her carefree “friends” were scarce. They all became intimidated by her presence since she discovered her newfound confidence. She would still receive looks of pity and rumors made their way around the school. It became so aggravating that Tessa dropped out and graduated early at home. She didn’t have time to become the center of everyone’s gossip. Looking back, she didn’t regret her decision. In the end, she would only need two wolves who would pass the leadership tests and step up to be her Beta and Gamma. It was all about the business after all.
With the distraction of school out of the way, Tessa had more time to observe the older wolves during their training. She was able to pick up a lot of tips and tricks she could use while teaching the younger pups. It was important for her to be a role model to them and with her brother gone that now meant more to her than ever. She missed seeing his face light up with excitement after he’d win a sparring match, but she had to press on. Tessa knew he’d want the kids to have as much fun as he did.
Although she did not have her own wolf yet, Tessa remembered how she was able to hold her own in hand to hand combat against the adults. It wasn’t uncommon for her to insist the opponents spar her in both wolf and human form. She wanted to make sure she’d never be caught unprepared or vulnerable during an attack and she drilled that lesson into the minds of all her warriors, new and old, man and woman. Everyone learned how to fight, even if it were just to defend themselves, but they were all held to the same standard. This change in their training regime was what made Blue Ridge so powerful.
At almost 17, Tessa could feel her Alpha strength growing stronger every day. It eventually got to the point she was undefeated in human form, even against her strongest warriors. Her Uncle Tyler was not surprised when she passed the warrior exam with flying colors, but it was the pride, promise, and respect she felt coming from the eyes of her warriors that really made her feel successful. In this short time, Tessa found she was far from the girl that would cry alone in her bedroom at night and once the Moon Goddess blessed her with a wolf she wouldn’t be alone anymore.
It was only days before her 17th birthday when Tessa started feeling a change in the air, as well as within herself. It was like all her senses were heightened, her muscles seemed more toned and she even noticed she was taller. She could still remember how she looked in the mirror and she saw her once dark hazel eyes were brighter, her long wavy honey blonde hair thicker, and her skin clearer. Then a sudden need to be outside drove her to the door. She looked up at the night sky and saw the most beautiful full moon and felt peace wash over her, but it suddenly ended when she felt her first bone break.
Pain, searing pain like no other overtook her body. A single scream escaped her lips before she struggled to hold back the ones fighting to follow. “I am strong,” she repeated in her mind like a prayer. She could hear her Grandmother and John rush outside to stand beside her. Both were shouting words of encouragement and comfort, but Tessa could not make them out. The only sound she could hear was her bones breaking and her blood rushing in her ears like a storm. Her vision blurred as she fell forward to the ground shifting for the first time.
Tessa opened her eyes, seeing the world in a new light. She turned to her Grandmother who had concern and awe written all over her face. Her body was feeling sore as she stood tall, digging her claws into the dirt. She felt a pleasant connection to the earth and the need to run calling her name. Before she could take off for the woods, she felt a touch on her side and found John brushing his hands through her thick fur. He seemed surprised to see she was as large as a male Alpha, which only added to Tessa’s pride. “Alpha,” he whispered, stepping back and bowing his head. Tessa gave a slight huff of approval then finally walked off into the woods, before picking her pace up into run.
After spending a few blissful hours alone, Tessa decided to relax by the lake near her home to drink some water. Her reflection was breathtaking as her bright eyes glowed in the moonlight. The feeling of peace returned to her body when she laid down and closed her eyes to finish making the sacred connection with her wolf. “Deep breaths, in and out,” Tessa thought as she relaxed. It didn’t take long for her to hear a low growl resonate within the back of her mind. She took a breath again and waited. Soon enough her wolf’s sultry voice entered her mind. “We are finally one.”
Reveling in the feeling of being complete, Tessa released a powerful howl to the moon as thanks to the Moon Goddess for this blessing. The peaceful forest erupted with the joyous responses from her pack members and her mind link was flooded with congratulations. It was finally time to be the Alpha she was meant to be.