Jill was just a normal 17 year old girl, well a normal 17 year old wolf, well a normal 17 year old, daughter of the alpha, wolf. That all changed after one night at the Red Moon Bar with a mysterious stranger.
Fast forward six years, Jill is back home in Virginia, after being banished to her grandmothers pack in New York. With her father becoming ill and being their eldest child, Jill must step up for the good of her pack, but does she want to be part of a family that shamed her? Does she really want to help the parents that sent her away? And does she really want to bring her son into the mess she left behind?
It had been six years, but I still knew the drive like the back of my hand. Speeding down the highway was second nature and I couldn't help the rightness of the familiar landscape. Memories of sneaking out for a midnight runs and summer swims with my friends, all swarmed my head. It was like I was 17 again, and everything was normal and easy.
"Momma, are we almost there yet?"
My thoughts of the old normal was abruptly stopped by the words of my new normal.
Taking a peek at the white haired kid in the back seat, I couldn't help but smile. His tanned skin all but glowed in the sun, which made his silver hair even more noticeable, but his eyes are what caught everyones attention. His eyes were the only feature he got from me, the turquoise blue color that was ringed with gold. Those eyes were a staple in my family going back centuries, and it also meant that with one look at my eyes, anyone and everyone knew exactly who I was, and who I belonged to.
I only hid those eyes once, and it ended up changing my entire life. Visions of the past floated forward, but forced them away and grounded out an answer to my son's question.
"5 more minutes buddy," I promised him. He was getting more excited the closer we got, but I was getting more anxious.
I didn't want to go back yet, I didn't want to deal with the stares and the judgment.
We were only 2 minutes away when I passed by a familiar shopping center, with my favorite old, beat-up, yellow bug sitting in the parking lot.
My face grew into a grin and I abruptly turned, an idea already forming in my mind. A car honked at me from behind, but I was already parking in the spot next to Bumblebee.
"Hey little buddy. What do you think about getting some ice cream before going to see Nana and Papa?" The screaming in the back seat was a clear enough answer.
I undid the seat belt, grabbed my purse, and climbed out of the Honda CRV. I found my son was already standing outside of the car, jumping up and down with excitement.
"Can I get a double scoop? Pleaseeeeeee!" I couldn't say to no when he suddenly wrapped his arms around my waist, repeatedly singing please's.
"Okay, okay," I responded while patting his head, trying to tame his crazy hair that always seemed to stand up straight. "On one condition."
He looked up at me expectedly.
"If Nana and Papa ask you, I only let you have one scoop."
With a smile he grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the white ice cream shop.
Snow Pups was a wolf run business and my best friend, Elain, worked there every day, or at least she had. The shop had seen better days. The paint was flaking and the only the S and W on the sign were actually lit up. It was a small place, with an awning over the ordering window and the serving window. The awning had rips and its red coloring had faded to a light pink.
I could remember when this place had been pristine and no one would miss the specials, but that all changed 10 years ago. A shudder went through me as I thought back to the large scale hunter attack and the fires that raged. The pack lost many people that day, and Elain had to bury both of her parents. The care of Snow Pups went to Elain's uncle, Theron. Terrible was too light a word for how horrible that man was, but he also became Elain's legal guardian.
Guilt flared while I thought about the abuse Elain faced and how I wasn't able to say goodbye to her. All my parents allowed me was a letter, that didn't explain much, and I wasn't even sure it was given to her.
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea.
Looking up, picnic tables and benches were spread across the lawn and I recognized most of the people there. Anger rose in me when I realized they were staring. Their beady eyes going back and forth from me to my son.
With my head down, I went right up to the ordering window. Taking a deep breath I looked up to find a boy with shaggy black hair reading a book at the counter.
With a startled intake of breath, the boy finally tore his gaze from the pages in front of him. His eyes widened in shock as his gaze finally collied with mine.
The book went crashing to the ground and Dante stood up so fast that the chair was knocked over as well.
"Jill is that really you?" Suddenly he was gone, and I felt my heart fall to my stomach.
Is he really that disgusted by me?
A flash of movement in the corner of my eye had me turning slightly.
"OH!" I made a noise when arms went around my waist and I found myself floating off the ground. Laughing as he turned me around in a circle, Dante shouted, "I can't believe you're home!"
He finally stopped moving and put my feet back on the ground, but left his hands around my waist. I finally had a chance to look up into the beautiful piercing sapphire eyes, surrounded by long elegant lashes. Finally I threw my arms around around his neck and pulled him close.
I whispered in his ear, "I missed you." Tears silently running down my face. After a moment we parted and he reached down to wipe a stray tear from my cheek.
"I- arghh!" Dante's words were cut off with a moan of his own making. Movement below caught my attention.
All I saw was a blur of white, unable to stop the multiple punches to Dante's groin area.
"Kaden! What are you doing?!" I shrieked at my son as I grabbed for his middle.
He gazed up at me, forehead wrinkled in anger and confusion.
"He made you cry momma." The little terror started toward Dante again, but my arms were like iron keeping him in place.
Bending down, and trying hard to fight the smile that was starting to sprout, I said, "I promise these are happy tears sweetheart. Your momma hasn't seen her friend in a very long time and I was so excited I cried." He seemed perplexed at the answer.
"You cried cause you happy?"
I gave him a quick peck on the cheek and turned back toward my injured friend. He didn't look to worse for wear.
"Dante how are you holding up after getting beat up by a 5 year old?"
Finally standing up straight, Dante glared and said, "Why did I miss you again?"
I snorted and decided introduction were in order.
"Kaden this is momma's old friend, Dante." The boy still looked nervous so I continued, "Dante this is my son, Kaden."
He must not have heard Kaden and I talking, because his eyes got really wide and he sputtered out a, "W-w-what?"
I sent him a look, pleading for him to not make this a big deal, and he quickly got the messaged and composed himself.
"It's very nice to meet you Kaden. If you ever want to hear embarrassing stories about your mom, I'm the one you come to."
"Actually I think that I would be the better person for that job."
A light feminine voice filled the air and I held my breath. Slowly I turned toward the shop and standing outside of the side door was a petite dark haired beauty. The curled chocolate locks were held back in a high pony tale, making the curves of her face more pronounce and in the midday sun her eyes were a glowing black. Even with the high neck top she wore, she couldn't hide the now healed, but obviously discolored skin. I knew that the burns had covered her entire back, half of her right arm, and the right side of her neck, but it seemed she still liked to wear long sleeves to cover up the scars. The hunters had set fire to her home, and I almost lost her that day.
A whimper came out of my mouth and Elain's eyes filled with tears. We ran at each other and embraced. Sobs both racking through our bodies, we clung to each other. The full weight of missing my best friend hit me and I couldn't have let go if I tried.
After several minutes we both finally calmed down enough to part from each other. With a sniffle, and without another word to me, Elain started toward Kaden and dropped to her knees in front of my little boy.
"Hi," Elain started with a breathtaking smile that made everyone fall in love with her. "I know you don't know me, but I have loved you from the day I found out you were alive. Your mom told me a long time ago I was a godmother, and if you would like you can call me Aunt Elain."
The little boy looked absolutely smitten with Elain, and gave her a toothy grin and nodded.
The mention of the letter I left her brought a third round of tears to my eyes.
My hand shook watching the whole interaction, and I raised one to cover my mouth, trying to catch the sobs. Dante had moved next me and draped an arm around my shoulders. I loved him for weighing me down in that moment.
It was that moment that I realized the amount of love that Kaden would receive here.
And with a steely resolve, I knew that I would do whatever it took to make sure that he could stay here and have a life. Even if it meant doing my parents bidding and facing him... The him that still haunted my dreams. The him that would never forgive me. The him I would never forgive.