Chapter 1: Rory
R O R Y
A middle-aged woman barrels into my room as if she expected me to be asleep on a school day. She collects herself when she notices my dressed figure; I'm brushing through my hair in front of my mirror.
"Morning, mama," I respond with a sweet cheerful smile, hoping to uplift her spirits with my own.
But her dreary face remains, the frown permanently plastered on her face along with the lines and wrinkles of age and harassment. Her mousy brown locks with the split ends fly free from its neglect. Her near-onyx eyes glaze over as they drift around the room, finding it spotless, bed neatly made.
"Morning, Rory," she greets with a small dazed smile that conveys the exhaustion of her life.
She takes the brush from my grip and begins to braid my dark auburn brown hair with her calloused hands.
"How's school been? I know I haven't been around a lot this week, but you can talk to me about anything. What is that bruise on your arm?"
"I fell out of bed this morning. Nothing out of the ordinary. I stay away from the others as usual." Through the mirror, she watches the elegant smile adorn my face, portraying the thankfulness I have towards her.
My mama found me at three years old, freezing and abandoned in the haunting rogue woods a few miles from Red Moon's territory. She is an omega wolf herself and I've always known I was never her blood daughter, however she treated me as such. But I'm a human. In a high-ranking pack.
I've always been the outsider: weaker, lesser, unworthy. As a child, the pups of the pack would take turns bullying me, stealing my possessions, throwing me around between them because they desired to show-off their strength, teasing me with harsh words.
As we all got older, my mama decided it would be best for me to attend a human high school, outside the pack, where I would be relatively normal. Of course, I am still weaker than guys at the high school, as I'm smaller, less muscled, wanting to be friendly with everyone. But I love school - my friends and teachers and lessons.
As I stroll down the bustling halls, the sounds of cliques of girls giggling and jocks throwing footballs around with a relaxed easiness, Freya skips up to me, bubbling with excitement. I trip over my own feet, a few chuckles sent my way as I regain my balance, and I proceed to bow my head with a light blush.
"Girl, you're really clumsy," Freya exclaims with a giggle, interlocking her arm with mine as she guides me down the hall whilst also helping my coordination. I have been a clumsy child for as long as I have known, as long as mama has known me. Which only adds to the torments I get from the teenage wolves of my pack.
"Rory, babe, hey, and Freya, hey," Eddie greets with an adorably wide grin. As a member of the lacrosse team and an avid book reader, I developed a crush on this well-read athlete. What surprised me was when he had claimed to like me back, then asked me out. Feeling elated, as any girl would in learning a crush is not one-sided, I agreed and we've been dating for a month, since the start of senior year.
He presses a light kiss to my lips and drapes his arm over my shoulder. Still attempting to understand my uncontrollable and inevitable clumsiness, I accidentally jab him in the torso as I reach into my bag, and this creates havoc in the halls. Eddie stumbles into another girl who begins to scream as he tumbles on top of her and groans as he rolls on the floor. I don't possess a lot of strength, but Eddie being skinny and not muscular, he's easily pushed. I stagger over his foot and almost fall, if not for the arms of my friend Bethany, the most popular girl in school. Her boyfriend chuckles a little next to her at the scene, and then helps Eddie up off the ground.
"Hey, Rory, Eddie," Oliver says with an amused smirk, his jock friends joining his side as usual. Freya hurries off to her locker before homeroom, a little shy when faced with the boys who used to bully her. They used to bully me too when we met, but they soon backed off, the reason still unknown to me. But we get along. At least better than the hostile behaviour directed towards me by the wolves in the pack. “Rory, it’s my birthday tomorrow and Bethany’s throwing a party. Want to come?”
“Oh, I can’t, sorry. I’m helping my mom. But happy birthday!” I exclaim with a wide smile. The guys beside him snigger under their breaths while Bethany appears to scowl at her boyfriend. As oblivious as I appear to them, I know there was some ulterior motive to his question. But I love high school. It is the only place where I feel I can belong in my world full of wolves.
“That’s too bad,” he replies, acting disappointed. “I’d hope you would actually be a little less goody-goody this year.”
“Stop it,” Eddie scolds him, stepping in front of me as an act of shielding, and pushing his chest up against Oliver. With a humorous laugh, Oliver refuses to back down, believing he has the upper hand.
They normally don’t bother me unless provoked, but, having been pushed around by wolves, their verbal tormenting almost flies right past me. It’s gone over my head numerous times, however Bethany has always backed me up, her scowl also an indicator to me that they’re messing with me.
But school is an escape from the pack, from the wolf world, and that’s why I treasure it more.
“It was nice seeing you,” I declare, steering Eddie away from them, with their distant chuckles taunting us. I find that meeting tormenting with anything but calmness and composure, the bullying is destined to continue. Although, that doesn’t work too well with the wolves.
As lunch rolls around, Freya, Skye, Eddie and I take a seat at our usual table, immersed in conversation. Sometimes Bethany would invite us over to her table, but Freya avoids it at all costs. Me, I’ll eat food wherever.
At the pack, with my mama being an omega, the weakest wolves of the pack, and I’m a human, we get the scraps. Ever since Alpha Nickolas took the reins from his father, the weaker members have been neglected, yet not to his ignorance but to his ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality.
“How about I take you out after school? Or walk you back home?” Eddie questions me, willing a positive response. Being a member of a pack results in the inability to spend outside of it other than for school. Which consequently makes dating from school, and not the pack, a difficult feat.
I’m surprised that Eddie is so patient with me, having only been on a real date out of school once, and I cancelled every other time. I figure that instead of outright refusing every offer, I’d have to accept some and then tell him something came up. But that only creates more guilt.
“I can’t, sorry. I have to get back as quickly as possible and my mom doesn’t know we’re dating so you can’t walk me,” I tell him, even though the lies create a burning feeling in my stomach. My mama does indeed know Eddie and I are dating, but to keep him away from the werewolf community, it’s better that he doesn’t meet her, yet.
We’ve only been together a month, so I couldn’t subject him to that. I will if I love him and I want to be with him. After all, I’m not a werewolf, so we could still leave that life behind. Eddie believes that my mama prohibits me to date, that she’s over-protective of her child. He’s yet to learn that I’m adopted, in a fashion.
When my mama found me in rogue territory, I was badly wounded, and she thought I would die. Any parent who would abandon a child in these woods should never be able to find the child again, she says. And honestly, although I’ve wondered what my birth parents are really like, I couldn’t have been blessed with a more caring mom.
Reluctantly, Eddie nods in response, his head hung with disappointment. I kiss his cheek in hopes of cheering his spirits, which it does. Even though lying is a necessity in my life, it doesn’t make it an easier to do so to the people I care about. My friends, Eddie, my teachers. When my homework has mysteriously disappeared before I can hand it in, the pack tormenting me yet again, I’m forced to lie and take the punishment. Of course, I beg for those to take place at lunches, which cost me time spent with Eddie.
As much as I can complain about high school, at least I feel like I belong here.