I forced my eyes open to the sound of my mother yelling my name. My intense hatred for waking up early is known throughout my house, so this happens to be a regular occurrence. Although my eyes are open and I'm awake, I lay in bed and let her continue to yell through the door for a few more moments.
"Claire, seriously?" I hear my mothers wispy voice snap as she opens my bedroom door. With an annoyed grunt, I lift my head and meet her clear blue eyes with my own.
My bright blue eyes were just about the only thing I received from my beautiful but stern mother, while my younger sister seemed to be an exact replica, sporting her slender figure, curly blonde hair, tanned skin, and high cheekbones. 'The good looks in the family' my mother had called it when she thought I wasn't listening. It wasn't that my father was ugly, but he was gruff with an enormous build and a scarred face from defending our pack years ago. While the women in my family had extremely slender figures my figure was curvier, my breasts and bottom continued growing, while the rest of me didn't. My hair sported the same look as my fathers, chocolate brown and straight as a pencil and my skin was the same pale color as his, only turning red when the blood rushed to our faces. The only redeeming quality about my hair was that it had grown extremely long at the beginning of the summer, so now it reached well past my waist. My face was round and baby-like, always making me look younger then what I am.
My height was a whole different issue. The women in my family tend to be taller than the men, with my mother coming a few inches higher than my father. I missed the height gene all together. Standing at a whopping 5'3' both my mother and father towered over me. Even my younger sister had grown taller than me over the years. As I grew over the years, my mother and father realized I wasn't what they were wanting in a daughter. Strong willed, disobedient, insubordinate. Those were words my mother used to describe me. My older brother, Drake, the future Beta of the pack was the only one in my family to find my stubbornness an unexpected gift. They got lucky with my younger sister Sabrina, my mother liked to say, as she was the perfect little lady deserving of a quality mate.
"I'm awake." I sigh, not wanting to face the fact that this was going to be a busy day.
Every year the Moon Ball is held on a different packs territory. Finally the time has come for the Southern Pack, the one I and my family belong to, to host the Moon Ball. The Moon Ball is supposed to be an extravagant and romantic event geared towards giving young wolves a chance to find their mate. Each year I managed to skip the event, but this was the one year there would be no escaping.
I refused to feel worried. There was nothing for me to fear, I would simply go to the ball and when no one was looking, I'd sneak away and spend the rest of the night by myself. My wolf, Tania, rolled her eyes at my absolute disregard for a mate. While she rolled her eyes, she understood why I felt the way I did. After what had happened, there was no way in hell I was going to become some hot-headed wolf's mate.
"You need to get up and get dressed! Derek will be here any minute!" My mother hissed, her stern gaze on my face didn't falter, even when Sabrina poked her head into my room.
Scolding myself for almost forgetting about Derek, I stood from my bed and made an effort of showing my mother that I was in fact up and getting dressed. With another disapproving look and a sigh, she closed my door and gave me some privacy.
Derek had been visiting a neighboring pack when he stumbled across his mate. After staying with the pack for a few months, he was finally making the trip home to introduce his mate to all of us. I couldn't help the excitement that had risen to the surface with the thought of seeing Derek. He never saw my personality as one big flaw, the way the rest of my family did, he just saw his 'feisty little sister'.
With little more than a glance, I grabbed a black off-shoulder top and a pair of ripped denim shorts and threw them on all while pulling out my phone to text my two best friends. Adding them both to a quick group chat, I sent them a text about Derek, knowing they'd both want to be there to welcome him home.
You guys up? Derek is gonna be home any minute!
Obviously were up, not all of us like to sleep all day!
What can I say, I'm in a committed relationship with my bed!
Shit, he isn't there yet is he? Be over in 5 minutes! I can give you a committed relationship princess ;)
Gross!!! Same here, I'm on my way!
Without another glance at my phone, I slipped on a pair of worn-out shoes and half tumbled down the stairs. Knowing damn well I had slept through breakfast, I grabbed a blueberry muffin from the pantry and began shoveling it into my mouth. I nearly moaned from the sugary goodness when I heard the familiar voices of my friends.
"Hazel, Brandon! Thank you for stopping by!" My mothers people pleasing voice rang out from the living room. Stifling an eyeroll, I made my way into the living room where I couldn't help but smile. My two best friends stood waiting and ready to drag me out of the house.
Hazel and Brandon had been my bestfriends for as long as I can remember. While Hazel appeared to be this sweet submissive girl, she had a wild side of her own. Her brown eyes would often glint mischievously and her small lips would pull up into a smirk whenever she had something reckless on her mind. Brandon is one of the few males in our pack that doesn't expect women to be completely submissive to other men. Hazel and Brandon had both grown into their looks over the years and each caught the attention of many pack members. However, in this pack it's frowned upon for women to be friends with unmated males.
The first time I brought Brandon and Hazel home, my mother had just about lost her mind. She screamed for an hour after they left about how I need to be more responsible and respectful towards my future mate. How would my future mate feel about me being friends with an unmated male? Would I be able to resist the temptation of other men until I met my mate? I remembered all of this and resisted the urge to roll my eyes. After my hidden past, resisting the temptation of men has become all too easy. Sure, Brandon was definitely flirty, but it was also harmless and he happened to flirt with everyone.
As I came into the living room, Brandon and Hazel's faces both lit up. I could see the sly look in Hazel's eyes and I wondered what she had planned, and I desperately hoped I wouldn't hate it too much.
"You guys head outside now, Derek will be here in a few minutes!" My mother chirped excitedly, more then ready to have her eldest son and future daughter-in-law arrive. Without another glance at my mother, or Sabrina who was finally coming down the stairs, me and my friends made our way outside.
The three of us plopped down on the porch steps like we had done countless times over the years. I absentmindedly picked at the peeling white paint on the steps of the porch when Hazel's voice pulled me out of my thoughts.
"You really don't want to go to this ball, do you?" Hazel gave a small laugh, her thin eyebrow raising up as she stared at the frown on my face.
"No I really don't. I'll probably show up for the first half, but once the speech is over I'm making my escape." I gave a short nod and smirked at my smiling best friend.
"We can meet up if you want, I'm not too interested in the ball this year either." Brandon frowned, ignoring the looks of confusion on mine and Hazel's face. Brandon had attended the ball the past two years without a word of defiance, but for some reason something had changed this summer.
"Since when don't you want to go to the ball?" Hazel asked, eyeing him suspiciously. We all sat in silence for a few moments while Brandon thought about his answer. From the look on his face, and the glances he shot my way, I could tell he wasn't going to answer.
"That's fine, we can meet up in the forest. Sierra wouldn't mind stretching her legs." I shrugged, breaking up the silence. My wolf, Sierra, frowned at the thought of not being at the Moon Ball but was agreeing that she would love to go for a run.
"Well, screw you two, I wanna meet my mate." Hazel quipped, sticking her tongue out at the both of us.
"So you can bow to your new mate and begin your duties as a submissive and caring mate?" I recited my mothers speech word for word as I smirked at a sly looking Hazel.
"I don't know about all of that, but I have a few things up my sleeve." Hazel winked at me, laughing as I fake gagged in her direction.
"Oh, Claire?" A sickly sweet voice called out, and I sighed before I turned to face the spitting image of my mother.
"What's up, Sabrina?" I replied, keeping my voice even. I knew how much she loved to provoke me, and how she would run into the arms of our mother when I reacted badly. The princess would run into the arms of our mother and cry about how I was this cruel sister. While me and my younger sister had a bad relationship, I couldn't say the same for me and Derek. He had been there for me through my toughest times, he had been the only person I trusted with my deepest secret. I trusted Derek with my life. He helped me move on from what had happened to me, and kept my secret to himself.
"Mom just wanted me to let you know, don't even try to flake out on the ball tomorrow night. She's going to be keeping her eyes on you the entire time." Sabrina smirked at me, placing her tanned hand on her hip.
Heat flooded my face as I realized she had listened in on our conversation and told my mother my plans. I could feel the anger bubble within me and the silent excitement from my wolf, Sierra. The anger was quickly replaced with the cold realization that I would be forced to attend this stupid ball. My blood ran cold at the thought of finding a mate and being forced into a life of servitude. The thought of being used mind, body, and soul, sent fear coursing through my veins until I could no longer breathe.
"Bye now Sabrina." I heard Brandon's annoyed voice snap, pulling me from my spiral. Sabrina's blue eyes widened slightly at the anger in Brandon's tone, but she wouldn't dare talk back against an unmated male. With a huff she turned and went back into the house, the old screen door slamming behind her.
"Shit." I muttered, placing a cold hand on my hot forehead.
"You might not even meet your mate, Claire." Hazel said gently, placing her hand on my arm. Neither one of them knew why I was so against finding a mate, but I also didn't have the heart to tell them the truth. Telling them the truth would require that I re-live what happened, and I couldn't put myself through that. The nightmares weren't as frequent as they used to be, but the more I thought about what happened, the harder the nightmares returned.
"Lets hope not." I trailed off, not finding any other words to say. I kept silent as this heavy ball began to take place in my stomach, weighing me down as if it was a hundred pounds. I had only had this feeling once before, and it was right before something terrible happened.
"On the bright side, guess who is coming dress shopping with me today!" Hazel squealed, trying her best to take my mind off of the mate topic.
"Let me guess.. Sabrina?" I smirked half heartedly at her as her eyes widened in mock disgust.
"No, very funny, but no. You are!" She smirked at me. Hazel knew I was partial to shopping, but the last thing I wanted to do was shop for a dress to the ball I was being forced to go to.
"Guess that means I'm coming too huh?" Brandon chimed in, his expression looked unhappy, but his eyes had this strange shine to them.
"Well duh, we need an unmated male's opinion." Hazel chuckled.
At once all of our heads turned to the drive way as a black sedan pulled into the open spot. The knot in my stomach had been forgotten for now, the thought of seeing my brother had been pushed to the front of my mind.