I woke up that morning with a smile on my face. For once I wasn’t woken up early from the screaming of Sabrina or my mother. Tonight was one of the rare nights where I wasn’t woken in a panic by my reoccurring nightmare. I’m sure they let me sleep in as I had no choice but to attend the Moon Ball. The thought of the Moon Ball chased my smile away and instantly made me feel as though my world was already crashing down. I gripped the hem of my oversized t-shirt and tried to take a few calming breaths, but nothing helped the knot of unease that had been settling in my stomach. I couldn’t place my finger on what was causing this absolute anxiety, but I knew it had to do with this stupid ball.
I stayed in bed like this for a few more moments, gripping my t-shirt as if it could save me. I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed that I could just sleep through the day, sleep through the ball. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal if it was only my pack that attended. I knew no one in my pack could possibly be my mate, none of the unmated males had ever appealed to me before. The problem with this ball was that every single pack in America would be attending. Out of all of those unmated males, my mate had to be somewhere in the mix. My eyes shot open at that thought and I grimaced at the ceiling.
Why would the Moon Goddess pair me with someone when she knew how I felt? Maybe I was the exception, maybe I didn’t have a mate. Even as I thought those words, I knew they wouldn’t be true. Every wolf has a mate, like it or not. I clung to the absurd thought that maybe, just maybe, my mate didn’t live in America and therefor I wouldn’t meet them at the ball. This desperate thought was what forced me out of bed and down the stairs to the kitchen, where I could smell breakfast being made.
I walked into the dining room in time to interrupt a conversation between my father and Derek. Sabrina and Amber sat at the table with them, listening quietly, curiosity shining through on their faces.
“So every single pack is going to be here tonight?” Sabrina exclaimed breathlessly, her fingers nervously twirling her curly blonde hair. Her blue eyes were wide and glanced at each of our faces.
“All of them, most of them have actually already arrived. Alpha Dan asked that they keep their distance until tonight.” My father nodded, glancing at my mother who was currently bringing out plates full of food. For the moment my attention was drawn to the smell of baked chicken, garlic and potatoes. The savory smell ignited my stomach and I found myself tuning out the rest of my family.
“What- what about the Blood Moon pack?” I heard Sabrina whisper, but at once the entire table was silent. My father’s face became unbearably pale as he looked into mine and Sabrina’s eyes. My mother froze in the door way, the plates of food in her hands forgotten for the moment. The tension and fear in the room felt like a thick fog that invaded our minds and clouded our thoughts.
The Blood Moon pack was talked about as if it were a scary rumor. I squared my shoulders and tried to make my expression look indifferent, but my eyes held the same fear present on my family’s faces. There had never been a pack as strong as the Blood Moon pack in our entire history. Every other pack treaded very carefully when it came to the Blood Moon pack, and not pissing off it’s Alpha.
“Their not real- are they?” Sabrina whispered, finally breaking the silence at the table. I couldn’t name a single person that had seen the Blood Moon pack or their Alpha in person. It seemed as if the entire pack was some scary story we told to pups to ensure their best behavior.
“Oh, their real. And their every bit as vicious as the rumors say.” My father nodded gravely, his eyes locked on my mother as they shared some unspoken words.
“But hardly anyone ever sees them, how do you know their even real?” Derek asked, his voice stronger than the rest of ours. Even Amber’s expression seemed to drop as her face paled and her eyes fluttered between me and Sabrina in pity.
“Plenty of wolves have met the Blood Moon Pack, and most of them were killed at his hands. Alpha Dan has met Alpha Killian Desmond once.” My father spoke as a shudder made it’s way through his body. I felt at a loss for words, I had never seen my father this scared before. If there was anything or anyone to fear more than the Blood Moon pack it was their vicious Alpha.
“Their not coming tonight, a-are they? They never c-came b-before?” Sabrina stuttered, her gaze locking on my own in a look of panic. While I met her eyes with a blank expression, I could feel my blood run cold at the thought of being in the same area as the Blood Moon Pack. I remembered the stories I was told in school and by friends, stories of the Blood Moon pack torturing rogues, humans and other wolves. Some of the stories were too farfetched to be true, but until now I had always assumed they were nothing but a rumor. The Alpha couldn’t possibly eat other wolves, right? He doesn’t kidnap unmated females to satiate his lust for blood, right? Every story I heard over the years replayed in my head. As blood, carnage and other vile images flooded my head, I resisted the urge to shudder in absolute fear.
“The Blood Moon pack will be attending the ball tonight.” My father nodded, his face pale and shiny, as if there were a thin layer of sweat coating his scarred face.
“B-but, what do we do? W-we can’t go!” Sabrina gasped.
“Of course we’ll have to go, we can’t embarrass the pack.” Sierra muttered in my head.
“You both have to go. You’re old enough to meet your mates, and we cannot pass up this opportunity. You are the daughters of the Beta, you must attend. Avoid the Blood Moon Pack at all costs tonight.” It was my mothers turn to chime in, her voice hard and cold, but her eyes showed the fear she felt for her two daughters. Even with my mothers disapproval of how I acted, I knew they still cared about me in their own way. From the tone of my mothers voice, the topic of this conversation was over.
The six of us ate in silence, the events for tonight running through mine and Sabrina’s head with lightning speed. Every now and again a glance of pity would be shot our way followed by the sound of silverware on glass. At one point I locked eyes with Sabrina and saw a look of fear written on her face. As I picked at my food, my hunger fully forgotten, I tried to stifle the absolute horror I felt. My family was basically throwing me and Sabrina into a pit of rabid wolves. Would the rest of our pack attend, or would they be to horrified to show their faces? No, they would all attend.. They wouldn’t embarrass Alpha Dan by skipping the ball. My stomach churned and I was grateful when a knock to the door cut through the nervous silence.
“I’ll get it!” My mother chirped, but her tone sounded forced. We sat in silence as the front door opened and closed and Hazel’s smiling face came into view. At once she took in her surroundings and the tense looks on each of our faces. Being the amazing bestfriend that she is, she saw fear in clear in my eyes and took the opportunity to pull me away.
“Lets go up so I can get started on your makeup! I have so much work to do.” Hazel gave me a playful smirk and sent a wink my way.
“Go ahead, have fun girls!” My mother called out as we made our way up the stairs, but again the carefree tone was forced. I could hear the worry for me and Sabrina clear in her tone.
“Okay, so what the hell was all that?” Hazel asked dramatically, gesturing to my closed bedroom door. She turned her back to me and proceeded to dump the contents of her makeup bag all over my bed. I watched her sort through small tubes of lipstick, eyeliner, and eyeshadow while I took the time to make sure my voice would come out clearly.
“The Blood Moon pack.. Their coming to the ball tonight.” As I said the words they came out clear and even, but the fear still lingered in my body, causing goosebumps to spring up on my arms. I watched as Hazel tensed, her back to me, and stayed that way for a few moments.
“Their coming?” Hazel turned to me, and incredulous look in her eyes. I watched as her hand flew up and messed with a strand of her medium length black hair, something she did when she was rarely nervous. She looked into my eyes for a few moments, trying to find some shred of humor or laughter in my gaze, something that would tell her this was all a big joke. From the frown that fell on her face, she didn’t find what she was looking for.
“What- what are we going to do?” Hazel asked me, her own voice sounding unsure.
I took a few seconds, mulling over the chances of any of the unmated males or females possibly finding a mate in the Blood Moon pack. As selfish as it sounded, I was only concerned for me, Hazel, Brandon and Sabrina. The chances of any of us being one of their mates, was extremely slim. I let this possibility flow throughout my body, chasing away some of the fear. I wouldn’t let rumors of a pack terrify me. I had never wanted to go to this ball to begin with, but there was no way I would go reeking of fear. I took a few deep breaths and shoved my fear down so deep I felt comfortable it wouldn’t surface.
“Were going to the ball, and were going to ignore their pack at all costs.” I nodded, my face hard and determined. My voice came out strong and clear, which seemed to relax Hazel in the slightest.
“Should we tell Brandon?” Hazel asked, the corner of her mouth pulling down.
“I don’t think we should. It wouldn’t change anything either way, and if anything he’d try to act all protective.” I rolled my eyes, but a small smirk came over my face. I watched as the tension left Hazel’s shoulders and her mouth pulled up into a small grin.
“Well, I’m not going to let that ruin tonight for me. I can feel it, Claire, I’m gonna meet my mate tonight!” Hazel exclaimed excitedly, her small smile widening on her slim face. I tried to match Claire’s enthusiasm with my own, but we both knew I was being forced to go to the ball.
Hazel sat me down on the edge of my bed while she worked on doing my makeup. I had no idea what she was using, but I trusted Hazel. If Hazel wasn’t the Delta’s daughter, there was no doubt that she would be a cosmetologist, or a fashion designer. We made small talk as she did my makeup, and for the most part I played along with her enthusiasm. As usual though, Hazel could see through my mask.
“Claire?” Hazel asked, her tone sounding lighthearted as she did my make-up.
“Hm?” I questioned, doing my best not to move my eyes in any particular direction. I could feel Hazel gently applying eyeshadow, and knowing her, it would be the perfect shade to draw out the blue in my eyes.
“Why are you so against having a mate?” Hazel asked, causing another wave of knots to settle in my stomach. I took a deep breath and prepared myself to say the same answer as always, the lie.
“I told y-” I started, but Hazel cut me off with a pointed look.
“I know that’s what you say, but I don’t think that’s the entire story.” Hazel frowned, shaking her head as she wiped something from my face.
“You can tell her..” Sierra’s voice rang out in my mind.
“I can’t relive that again.” I replied to Sierra, my thoughts coming out rushed.
“You’ll never heal from this if you don’t try Claire.” Sierra sighed and I could feel her grow sad.
“Sometimes people don’t heal. Sometimes we stay broken.” My thoughts whispered back at her.
Hazel’s words sent me tumbling back through time, back to when things were much easier. I was shot into last summer, the smell of sunblock and fresh running water raced through my head. I could practically feel the suns rays on my pale skin and the warmth that spread over my body. The sand beneath my toes was soft and the breeze cooled the heat the sun had brought to my skin. I could hear my name being called, that voice that I had grown so used to, the voice that woke me up like a bucket of ice water. All at once the images came rushing forward. Those eyes that reminded me off moss under the oak tree we would all hangout at. The chipped front tooth that had happened so many years ago. The sly smile that would form on those full lips. The smell of something coppery bursting through the air, as if a dam had been broken. And finally, pain. So much pain.
“Claire? Hello? Earth to Claire?” A familiar voice called me from my downward spiral. I felt my head jerk up in her direction. Hazel muttered a curse as my fast movement caused eyeliner to run down the side of my cheek.
“Sorry.” I mumbled, bringing my fingers up to slowly trace over my lips, the memory still lingering on the tip of my tongue. After a few shaky breaths, I gathered those memories and shoved them as far away as I could. I didn’t care that I was simply smothering them, I didn’t care that I wouldn’t face them head on. I wasn’t ready for that. I had been so broken, so destroyed, that I didn’t think I would survive. Derek had helped me of course, but even he could see I would never be alright again. If I let those memories rise to the surface, they’d consume me, and drag me back into nothingness.
“You’re lucky I’m almost done. Then we have to do your hair!” Hazel exclaimed excitedly, while I groaned. I wasn’t sure how long I had been sitting in the same spot, but I already wanted to flop back into the safe nest that is my bed.
After what felt like hours, which it could have been for all I knew, Hazel finally stepped away and looked me over. She had spent most of the time curling my extremely long hair. I was surprised to find that my hair actually stayed curled, typically the curls would simply fall out within the first five minutes. I looked in the vanity mirror and almost gasped.
My extremely long, chocolate brown hair, was curled in large ringlets and flowed down my back in a sea of molten chocolate. She took two long strands from the front of my head and twisted them around the sides of my head, and pinning them back. The hairstyle was simple, but beautiful. I let my eyes wander over my facial features. My eyes had always been to large for my liking, but with the eye makeup she did, my eyes no longer looked like the washed out blue I was used to. My eyes resembled the clear sky, they looked lighter than I had ever remembered them. My full lips were a bare, but had some shine from a lip gloss she had applied.
“Now, time for the grand finale!” Hazel exclaimed, beaming so hard I could see all of her teeth. When I gave her a look of complete confusion she rolled her eyes and shoved my dress in my hands. I mouthed the word ‘oh’ and sheepishly made my way into the bathroom to change.
Even with the huge knot in my stomach, I had to admit that Hazel did an amazing job. I looked like some kind of model, and that’s not a word I would ever use to describe myself. I slipped on my ball gown and looked my self up and down. For once I was thankful for my small waist and larger bottom, as it made the dress highlight those curves. My breasts had never been what I would call large, but they were definitely bigger than the rest of the women in my family. The low cut of the off shoulder dress I wore showed the smallest amount of cleavage. I couldn’t help but beam at my reflection. Hazel did the perfect job of highlighting my natural body whilst still remaining elegant and beautiful.
I stepped from the bathroom and did a dramatic twirl, much to Hazel’s benefit, as she excitedly looked me over.
“That absolutely settles it. I’m amazing.” Hazel shrugged giving me an excited smile. It seemed as if, for the time being, all thoughts about the Blood Moon pack had been forgotten.