“Damnit! I forgot my hat—one minute Jay,” I hopped out of my brother’s car and slammed the door before running back into the pack house. I sprinted up the stairs and whirled into my room before quickly rummaging through my stuff before finding my hat. It was an old faded red baseball hat that my father gave me when I was a kid, I wore it every day. Partially because I missed him like crazy and partially because it helped me blend into the crowd.
I heard a car horn blare and swore, nearly jumping out of my skin. I had the awful curse of constantly running late and today was no exception. I turned on my heel and immediately tripped, falling flat on my face.
I grumbled something unintelligible and rubbed the elbow that I had hit on the ground. I looked down and rolled my eyes, Leah had left her stilettos right in the middle of the room. Due to the large numbers in the pack house I was forced to share a room with my cousin Leah.
She was a year older than me and we used to get on quite good until she developed breasts and a passion for boys. That’s where Leah and I were different. Where she was all makeup and stilettos I was more jeans and a sweatshirt. I was raised by a mom who is a tomboy, my older brother, Jay, and my dad, so it’s no surprise I didn’t turn out girly.
The horn blared again and I bolted from my room, forgetting to close the door. I hopped into my brother’s truck and grinned at him.
“Sorry, I got lost in my thoughts.”
Jay rolled his eyes and threw the car into reverse, “When are you not day dreaming? I mean you know how much I hate being late yet every morning it’s the same thing. Why don’t you set your alarm ten minutes earlier?”
I shrugged, “We both know I would just hit snooze.”
Jay laughed, “Yeah, you would wouldn’t you? I guess I have no choice but to endure your painful tardiness, you are my little sister after all.” He reached over and shoved my shoulder lightly making me smile.
My brother and I were as thick as thieves when we were alone but as soon as we were in public we avoided each other like the plague. I avoided him and his elite group of friends and he avoided me and my one friend, Sam. He was the Beta of the pack and with it came a reputation he was desperate to uphold. I didn’t mind the distance, I loathed being in the spotlight and his rank put him centre stage wherever he went.
“You know it’ll be three years for dad next month,” Jay said quietly. I nodded and turned my attention to the passing forest, wishing I could be there instead of going to school.
I sighed, “Yeah, I know. I wonder how mom will take it.”
“No better than she handles every other day, she walks around like a zombie.”
I shrugged, “At least she hasn’t tried to kill herself.”
Jay cried, “Liv! That’s awful.”
I didn’t see it that way. “It’s true though, Jay. I mean most wolves are suicidal when they lose their mates. Mom’s just stronger than the rest I guess.”
Jay nodded in agreement. “Well thank the goddess she is, imagine if we lost her too?”
I gazed out the window. “We’d be orphans.”
We arrived at school about five minutes later, the entire time was spent in silence after our talk about mom. Jay and I shared one thing in common; we hated talking about our feelings. It wasn’t often you found Jay or I crying, or moping around. Usually we wore pretty blank expressions when we were upset.
“Later, Jay,” I said quietly as I hopped out of his car. It was now the part of the day where I totally ignored his existence and he mine. That was until the final bell rung and we were back in the car. Then we could laugh, talk and joke all we wanted.
“Olivia!” I turned around and glared at Sam.
“When are you going to stop calling me that?” I hissed.
Sam laughed, his blue eyes shining, “Never, I enjoy enraging you, Olivia. Your reaction is just too funny to pass up.”
I rolled my eyes, “The only person who calls me Olivia besides you is my mom, do you know how irritating it is? No matter how many times I insist on Livy—or Liv—she insists on the formality of my birth name.”
“She has a point you know, she did name you Olivia.” He let out a low wolf whistle and shook his head slowly. “Your cousin is a fine piece of work.”
I turned around and looked across the yard at my cousin, Leah. She was a blond bombshell who had the looks of an angel although her personality was anything but. Not only did she have the body but she knew how to dress it. This made just about every guy lust after her—including my idiot friend Sam.
I smacked his head, “Stop it, you’re making me feel uncomfortable.” He laughed and shoved his hands into his coat pockets before starting to walk towards the school. I wasn’t jealous of my cousin, it didn’t bother me that guys liked her, in fact I liked that she loved attention because I didn’t. She drew all the attention to herself and left none for me—just the way I preferred it to be.
“Looks like Leah and Cole are back together,” Sam noted. I nodded dismissively. Cole Emerson was the future Alpha to be. I frowned as I thought. When I thought about Cole Emerson something nagged at the back of my head. When was his birthday again? I knew his eighteenth was fast approaching, as was the downfall of our pack when he took over.
“Really? That’s surprising, I thought he ended it for real last time,” I said, coming out of my reverie.
Sam laughed, “Doesn’t look like it, you know I’m surprised she’s not his mate, she’d be an alright Alpha Female.”
I snorted, “You’re just saying that because you think she’s pretty.”
Sam shrugged nonchalantly, “Maybe, maybe not. I have the right to an opinion, even if it is founded solely on looks.”
I rolled my eyes and adjusted my hat. “Anyways, he wouldn’t know if they were mates—he’s not even eighteen.” I kicked a stray pebble as we continued towards the doors, trying to make sure I kept it on a straight path.
“Yeah he is, today’s his birthday. Weren’t you listening this morning? Everyone sang Happy Birthday to him before he left for school.”
I shrugged, “I’m a heavy sleeper.”
Sam rolled his eyes, “Of course, you’d miss the biggest moment in pack history. He’s our pack’s fiftieth Alpha.”
“Is he now? That’s kind of cool I guess,” I said as I booted the pebble. It skipped over some uneven pavement. I hurried to retrieve it.
Sam nodded, trying to keep up with me. “It’s more than cool, it’s a tremendous honour. Too bad it’s wasted on him—he doesn’t even give a shit.”
I shrugged, “Who cares? As long as he doesn’t kill us all I’m happy.”
We kept walking and I made sure I kept the pebble up to speed. We reached the doors and I kicked the pebble hard not expecting the short cry that followed.
“What the hell? Who kicked a pebble at me?”
I froze and felt my stomach drop, just my luck—just my stupid freaking luck. I turned to the side and lowered my head, “I’m sorry, Alpha.”
I heard Cole sigh, “Isn’t this your sister, Jay?”
I heard my brother grunt, “Unfortunately.” I looked up slightly to see my brother looking mad and embarrassed which was never a good combination. I suddenly caught a weird scent in the air; it was a mix between some sort of delicious cologne and strawberries. It was intoxicating.
“Alright well—you can go now or whatever—shoo.” A round of obnoxious laughter followed from both our new Alpha and his gang. I nodded my head and looked up only to be captured by the most brilliant hazel eyes I have ever seen. It seemed when I looked into those eyes that time stood still. Everything stopped moving around me and the only thing I could focus on was my own heartbeat and him. I heard my wolf howling in joy, rejoicing that she had found her mate.
And then my cousin locked her lips with his and I felt my heart break. “Mate,” I whispered. Immediately everyone turned to stare at me.
Jay was the first to break the silence, his laughter filling the air. “What did you say?”
One of the other pack members laughed, “I think she said mate.”
I felt the blush rise to my cheeks and looked over at Cole, waiting for him to drag me into his arms or kiss me or something. I watched as his eyes made a quick scan over my body and I silently cursed myself for my baggy apparel and baseball cap.
He looked at my face as if bored and then he smirked. I felt my heart flutter and wanted nothing more than to jump his bones. Maybe my clothes had disappointed him but I was sure my face wouldn’t. After all, mates were made for each other, right?
“Yeah right, like anything like that would be my mate, too plain, too boring, and too... unattractive.”
I felt my heart clench as tears rose unwanted. I didn’t want to be hurt by his insult, I didn’t want to care about my appearance or what he thought about it. But when I came to him, I was suddenly vulnerable. “What are you talking about Cole? I’m your mate! I’m the future Alpha Female!” I felt the truth of my statement settle over my bones and drew on that confidence. I was the next Luna. I was his mate. I had felt the bond snap into place.
Jay looked as though he had been electrocuted; he was on the verge of an embarrassment seizure. “Liv—shut up. Stop spewing this crap and move on already.”
I turned and glared at him, recoiling slightly. “I’m not lying, Jay! I swear!” He knew me better than anyone, he knew that I wouldn’t create a scene for no reason.
One of the pack members sneered at me, “You heard Cole, he said you’re not his mate so let it go while you have some dignity left!”
I turned and stared at Cole wondering why he wasn’t doing anything. Surely he felt the connection that I had! Surely he knew that we were mates, destined to be together.
“Please, although I find this mildly flattering it’s also getting annoying. So just go along with your little friend and leave me alone.” Each word was like a blow to my stomach, a stab in my heart.
“Stop being pathetic, Olivia! Get lost—you heard what he said now stop being delirious and go!” Jay shouted at me. He was desperately trying to regain his cool status now that I had come in and made a fool out of both him and myself.
“Like your brother said, get lost. I’m not interested and never will be—I have a mate out there, but she is not you.” Cole took off my hat and threw it into the puddle a few feet away, soaking it and crushing me even further.
If it had been anyone else I would have attempted to punch their face in but because he was an Alpha and my mate I just swallowed my pride and went to retrieve my ruined hat, trying to stop the tears that were rolling down my cheeks. I turned around and froze.
I watched as Cole wrapped his arms around Leah—the arms that were meant for me. I watched as he kissed her cheek and then her nose and eventually her mouth. I watched as Leah dragged her nails through his hair and as his hands slid down to her waist. I watched them intertwine with each other unaware that the sight was literally breaking me into pieces.Not only had I been rejected, but I had been replaced. And standing here as I watched them I realised I had been totally and completely forgotten.