Chapter 17 ~~Graduation~~
Tuesday was finally here! Kia woke up early and jumped out of bed, ready to get her day started.
“Hey, where are you going?” Ethan asked groggily as he watched her walk towards the bathroom.
“It’s Tuesday. I’ve got so many things to do today and I don’t want to be late tonight. Get up and let’s go eat. I’m hungry!” she said just before she closed the bathroom door. She was going to wait to get her shower until she was ready to get dressed in her graduation outfit but she needed to pee and wanted to brush her teeth and hair. She would wash it later so for now she just caught it up in a ponytail and added some extra hair bands down the length of it to keep it from getting tangled.
Kia laughed at Ethan who was sitting on the side of the bed, trying to wake up as he waited for her to finish up in the bathroom. He stumbled in as she entered the closet to find clothes for the day. She pulled on a pair of new jeans, a nice blouse and her sneakers.
Because Lily had given birth yesterday, her plans to go to town with Lucy had to be cancelled so they were going this morning. She was going to have to spend a lot of time on the road today but Lucy needed time to sew her gown for the Luna ball and that is only four days away.
As she was becoming more comfortable with the house and it’s occupants, she left the bedroom to go downstairs before Ethan was done in the bathroom. She bounced into the kitchen to find Lucy helping her mother dish up the food for breakfast.
“Good morning.” she said as she helped herself to a cup of coffee.
“Good morning, Luna.” Edith and Lucy said in unison.
“Lucy, are you ready to go to town? I want to get on the road as soon as breakfast is over. I have to make two trips into town today so we need to get an early start so that I have enough time to get back here, get a shower and get dressed before we have to go back to town. Lord, I feel tired already and I just got up.” Kia teased.
“Sure. Just let me run a brush over my head and get my purse and I’ll be right back. Good morning Alpha.” Lucy said as Ethan came into the kitchen.
“Morning. Morning Edith.” Ethan said.
“Good morning Alpha. Are you hungry?” Edith asked as she watched Ethan bend over to kiss Kia good morning.
“You know me, Edith, I can always eat.” Ethan teased the cook who had been in charge of this kitchen since he was just a little boy and would come begging for cookies from her never empty cookie jar.
“Well, go have a seat. Everything is ready.” Edith said.
Kia and Ethan went into the dining room and were shortly joined by Angela and Marcus, Chris and Josh. Edith carried in the last of buffet pans, full of fluffy scrambled eggs and set it in place. Everyone lined up and made their plates and sat down to eat as they talked about what was going to happen today and tonight.
Kia had found out that she was allowed to invite 6 people to her graduation ceremony so she had invited Lydia, Ms. Kay, Ethan and his parents. She would love to have included Lily and Jared but since Lily had just given birth yesterday she wasn’t ready to be getting out and about yet.
Kia and Ethan had gone up and seen her and the baby last night before they had gone to bed when Jared had said Lily was asking for her. The baby was still wrinkled and bruised looking, like all newborns but Lily and Jared were so very proud of him.
“He’s 7 lbs, 6 ozs, 20” long and we want you two to be the Godparents.” Lily had announced.
“Oh my!” Kia exclaimed, with a quick look at Ethan who had a big smile on his face as he gladly accepted the honor for both of them.
“What’s his name?” Kia asked.
“Jessie, after my father.” Jared said. Jared’s father had been killed when he was about 10 years old and had been Marcus’s Beta. The loss of her mate had nearly driven his mother out of her mind and she died less than a year later. Marcus and Angela had stepped in and taken him in and treated Jared like he was Ethan’s brother instead of just his best friend.
As soon as breakfast was over, Lucy and Kia left to pick up Tanya before going into the city. Tanya talked about Mitch most of the way, about how they had talked on the phone every night since they had met and what a wonderful man he sounds like. Kia smiled as she listened but also noticed that Lucy was rather quiet, only offering the occasional comment in reply.
Thankfully the traffic wasn’t too bad and they dropped Tanya off in front of the college, telling her to let them know if she needed anything, to just give them a call.
They arrived at the fabric store just as they were opening for the day. They started off looking at the pattern books that the store had and they managed to find one that was very close to what Kia had described in, of all places, the costume section. After reading through the instructions, Lucy assured her that it would not be an issue to adjust the pattern so that she would be able to quickly untie the shoulders and around her waist so she could get out of it. They also found a cape pattern that they both liked. “This is one that I can use over and over again. Capes are great fashion accessories. So long as you adjust the length, it’s kind of one size fits all.” Lucy said with a grin.
Next they spent over an hour looking for just the right fabric, finally deciding on a silky silver chemise for the dress and a lightweight velveteen for the cape in a deep forest green that Lucy said would really make her eyes pop. Then they had to choose notions which consisted of silver piping for the edge of the cape and a white roping to tie the shoulders closed and for the belting under her breast.
They were both surprised and pleased when they found a large belt “frog”, Lucy called it, to hold the rope together in the front. The front looked like a silver wolf’s head but behind it, it broke apart in the middle and was to be sewn to each end of the rope. Lucy said it would be a great fashion accessory since Kia would not be wearing a necklace and this would finish off the front of the dress much better than just tying the rope ends in a bow.
Lucy was almost as excited as Kia when they left the store and headed for the shoe store where Lucy said she was sure they would be able to find something that would finish off her outfit perfectly. They finally found a pair of sandals that would work in the right color. “They will be easy to slip off and then put back on when you are ready.”
Kia checked her watch and was disappointed that so much of the day had passed as they left the shoe store. She had been hoping to go to the birth certificate office today but if she was going to be able to get a shower, wash her hair, get dressed and make it back to town in time, they were going to have to head back to the pack house now.
Thankfully the traffic was light going out of town, being that it was the middle of the day on a work day. If this had been Friday or a weekend day, it would have been much different. They made it back in just over an hour and Kia helped Lucy carry the packages up to Lucy’s room. Lucy took all of her measurements and hoped to get started on Kia’s gown tonight.
“Oh Lucy, I’m so excited. I can’t wait to see how it comes out.” Kia said before she left to go start getting ready for tonight.
She stopped in to see Lily and the baby, who was looking a lot less wrinkled and a whole lot cuter. Lily was looking much better and claimed to have actually eaten twice today. “I can’t believe he’s finally here. Poor Jared. I thought he was going to pass out when the doctor put little Jessie on my stomach right after he came out.”
“I bet. I know I would have.” Kia blushed and laughed with Lily.
“You just wait. You’ll have your turn one of these days.” Lily said, knowingly.
“Maybe, but not for a while. I’ve still got so much to learn about being in a pack and learning to be the Luna. Besides, I want time for just me and Ethan for a while. I mean, when I stop to think about it, I’ve only known him for a little over a week and already we’re mates! We have the rest of our lives to spend together and to have a family.” She confided in Lily.
“I understand and after what I went through being pregnant with this little guy, well it’s not that I don’t hope that you will have at least one pup of your own some day, I do hope your pregnancy is not as hard as mine was.” Lily said.
“Me too! Well, I’d better get going. I want to shave my legs and I need to wash my hair before I get dressed for tonight. Lord, this day has flown by.” Kia said as she stood up and left the room to Lily’s “Have a great time.”
Kia went to see Ethan and reminded him that he had to be ready to go to town by 4 pm. “Graduation is at 6 and I’m supposed to be there at 5:30.” Kia told him and his father, who was in Ethan’s office when she went in.
“Don’t worry baby. We’ll be ready to go.” Ethan smiled at her. She was so excited and it showed on her face.
Next, Kia went back to their bedroom and made sure that her graduation gown and the clothes she was going to wear underneath had been pressed and were ready for her to put on. She was going to carry the gown on it’s hanger and put it on when she got there so that it wouldn’t be all wrinkled from sitting for over an hour in the car.
She entered the bathroom and turned the water on in the tub to fill while she stripped out of her clothes. She stepped in and lay back in the hot water and let it seep into her tired muscles. She was tense and starting to feel it in her shoulder blades.
When the water began to cool, she shaved her legs and then let the water out and stood up to shower. She washed her hair and thought again about maybe cutting it a bit shorter. This length was a lot to take care of and sometimes it was a real pain in the butt.
She dried off, combed out her hair, re-brushed her teeth and then blew her hair dry. She decided to braid it into two long strands. One she wrapped around the other and left the other hanging down her back. She pulled on the blouse she was going to wear and checked it out in the mirror and couldn’t make up her mind if she liked it or not. “Lucy! Help! Bring your hair and makeup stuff please!”
Fifteen minutes later Lucy showed up at her door with her makeup case and hair tote in hand and a big smile on her face. First thing out of her mouth was “aren’t you supposed to wear a cap over that?”
“I didn’t think about it when I put it up. See why I need your help? I’m so nervous, I can barely think. I hate having to walk in front of a lot of people, especially when I don’t know them.” Kia said.
Lucy didn’t say anything but she knew that come Saturday, Kia was going to be a basket case once she realized that that was exactly what she was going to have to do at the Luna ball. Not to mention that she was planning on dropping her clothes under her cape and shifting in front of those strangers too.
Lucy took out the braids Kia had made and said, “If I were you, I’d leave it down. Your hair is beautiful. Why not show it off?” Lucy said.
“I’ve never been a show off but I guess there’s not really much you can do with it since I’ll have to wear that cap for most of the night.” Kia said, feeling defeated. “Do you think I should cut it?”
“Don’t you dare.” Ethan said from the doorway. He had walked in just as Kia had asked about cutting her hair.
“Well, I guess I know how you feel about it but it’s my hair!” Kia said, immediately getting her back up about being told she couldn’t cut her own hair.
“I love you just as you are. Don’t change a thing. Please?” Ethan said, changing his attitude before he pissed her off and she did it just to spite him.
“Plus, if you cut it, it will spoil all of our plans for your Luna Ball outfit.” Lucy agreed with Ethan.
“Ok. I won’t cut it now, but I can’t say I won’t in the future. Not short mind you but maybe just get some of the weight off of it by taking off a foot or so.” Kia said. She had always had long hair and while she would never cut it too short, she wouldn’t mind losing some of the weight of it sometimes.
Ethan grabbed some clean clothes out of the closet and went to get his shower while Lucy helped Kia with her makeup. She repeated what she had done for the senior ball except not as heavy.
In the end, they decided just to braid two strands from the front and to bring them around to the back of her head, which Lucy produced a pretty barrette to secure them together. “There. That will keep it out of your face and it looks nice.” Lucy said as she stepped back to admire her work. “I wish I had your eyes.” she thought to herself. She was still feeling kind of down about not having found her mate yet.
“Lucy, you are an absolute miracle worker when it comes to hair and makeup. You should open your own salon.” Kia said with feeling.
“I’d rather design and make clothes. But who knows, maybe one day, I’ll do just that. Do makeup artists make a lot of money in the city?” Lucy asked. She couldn’t imagine that something so easy to do could make her a living.
“Well beauticians in the city charge $50 to wash and cut your hair and they don’t put it in curlers, they just blow dry it however it’s cut. Prices go up from there.” Kia said.
“Wow. I never realized. My mom always does my hair when I need it cut but then I wear mine pretty simple. Working in the kitchen doesn’t really require a fancy hairdo so why bother?” Lucy said. She had been feeling kind of down since Tanya had met Mitch, especially since Tanya had talked almost nonstop about Mitch on their trip to town, saying what a wonderful person Mitch was.
Kia sensed that Lucy was feeling down and wished she could help but knew that until she met that special person for herself, there really wasn’t much anyone could do.
Lucy left and Kia finished getting dressed. She had just pushed her feet into her shoes when Ethan came out of the bathroom.
“You look very nice.” Kia told him. He was dressed in a dark blue business suit with a light blue shirt and a tie with thin light blue stripes running through dark blue stripes. He had a small tie clip that had a wolf’s head in silver and Kia wished she had thought of that when she had ordered his bolo tie pendant. Thinking of that she wondered when it was going to come in. She had paid for express delivery and had thought it would be here by now. Maybe tomorrow’s mail.
They met everyone downstairs and Ethan drove them to town in one of the pack SUV’s. Kia had called Lydia and Ms. Kay to make sure they were going to be there.
By the time they arrived at the high school, Kia was a bundle of nerves and if Ethan hadn’t been there, she surely would have ended up on her knees in the parking lot because her legs felt like rubber. Her hands were shaking and Ethan pulled her close in a tight hug.
“It’s going to be OK. Don’t worry, my love. You just walk across the stage when your name is called, shake hands with the teachers on stage, get your diploma and walk off. I’ll be right there at the bottom of the stairs waiting for you.” Ethan told her softly.
“Oh, Ethan, I’m so nervous. What if I trip and fall flat on my face?” Kia whispered into his chest where she had her face buried in embarrassment.
“My strong little Luna? No way. Don’t worry, Tia will be with you the whole time.” Ethan said. He knew for himself how nerve racking this could be but Errol had been there for him, urging him on.
Kia knew she was being silly and finally pushed away from Ethan with a determined look on her face. Angela held open her graduation gown and helped her put it on, then kissed her cheek and said “You will do fine. We’ll be right there waiting for you and then we’ll take you somewhere nice for a late supper to celebrate.” Marcus handed her the cap and with Angela’s help with the hair pins, they got it secured to her head so that it wouldn’t tilt or slide off.
When she was finally ready, she took a big breath and proudly led the way into the gym, holding tightly to Ethan’s hand. They could all hear the whispers of the other students about what handsome people they were. Ethan hoped the boy that had made trouble for Kia the other night would not be here tonight and doubted it because he had overheard the Coach say he had been expelled.
When they reached the doorway, Kia found out that Ms. Bowden had managed to have her name changed and she proudly signed in as Kia Peterson. She was told to go to one side of the gym and Ethan and his parents were told they could go ahead and find seats.
Ethan spotted Ms. Kay and motioned for her to join them. Lydia spotted Ethan and also joined them. They found seats together about 6 rows from the front and sat down to wait.
Ethan introduced his parents to Lydia and Ms. Kay and Angela took the opportunity to say thank you for helping Kia in the past. “She’s become a very welcome member to our family.”
“Kia has always been a pleasant person. Thankfully she never became jaded with all the challenges that life has thrown at her so far unlike so many kids who haven’t even had it as hard as some of the things Kia has had to face.” Ms. Kay told them.
Ethan wondered if there were horrors in her past that she had not shared with him. She would sometimes moan and cry out things that made no sense in her sleep but he would just hold her tight and soon she would calm down and go back into a deep restful sleep. He had never pushed and asked what she had been dreaming about since the dreams or memories didn’t seem to bother her during the day when she was awake.
As the clock hit six, the principal stepped up to the microphone on the stage and welcomed everyone to the graduation. He made a thankfully short speech and the ceremony began. The students were called by their last names so it was a while before Kia walked across the stage but when she did, Ethan and his parents stood up to applaud and Ethan whistled loudly. Kia blushed but waved at them with a big smile on her face once she had received her diploma.
The ceremony lasted for about another half an hour, as the final students received their diplomas and the principal returned to the microphone to wish the graduates a safe and fruitful journey in life. “Congratulations to all of the class of 2020!” He ended and all of the students threw their caps in the air.
There was mass pandemonium for a few minutes but Ethan managed to push his way through the crowd to get to Kia and he immediately picked her up and gave her a big kiss. Several girls around them gave big sighs. “She’s so lucky!” someone whispered. Kia and Ethan both had big grins on their faces as they rejoined his parents and Lydia and Ms. Kay.
“Congratulations, Kia. I’m so proud of you! You worked hard and you made it!” Ms. Kay told her when they came together.
“Thank you both for coming tonight. It just wouldn’t have been the same without you.” Kia told them. They stood and visited for a few minutes before Ms. Kay said “Well, it’s getting late and I’d better get home or my husband is going to think I’ve broken down somewhere. Congratulations again Kia. It’s not much but you definitely deserve it and so much more. I’m so happy that you finally found a wonderful family to love you.” Ms. Kay pressed a card into her hand with a smile.
“Thank you!” Kia said and gave her a big hug.
“Kia, I’ve got to go as well. My sister is here from out of town. She’s going to help me close up the shop. I hate to say it but I’m going to move back home for a while. I can’t keep fooling myself to think I can keep the shop open and I don’t want to end up in major debt. I’m having a big sale this weekend to get rid of the last of the supplies. The only thing I’ll probably end up with is Rango, since no one seems to want him.”
“Maybe donate him to the zoo?” Kia suggested. She had always wanted a pet but not Rango. Frankly the big lizard creeped her out.
“Maybe. But anyway, congratulations and I do wish you all the best. Please keep in touch with me.” She said and handed Kia a small gift with a card.
“Oh Lydia, you didn’t have to do this.” Kia started to object. She knew that Lydia was already having a hard time financially.
“Oh, it’s not much but I wanted to give you something to not only say congratulations on graduating but to say thank you for being such a good friend for the last year.” Lydia said as tears began to fill her eyes. “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’m going to miss you too. Please take care of yourself and keep in touch with me.” Kia said as she accepted the gift and hugged her friend goodbye.
They all weaved their way through the crowd of students and their families back to the parking lot. They decided on Johnny’s for dinner and had a great time. Kia opened her presents and Ms. Kay had given her a lovely card with $50 and Lydia gave her a bracelet that she had always admired from her store.
It was a dainty ID bracelet with a gold leaf and Kia’s name engraved on it. Kia’s eyes got wide and then began to fill with tears when she opened the box with a gasp. “Oh, she shouldn’t have. I’ve always admired this bracelet but could never have afforded it.” She told them as Angela helped her put it on her right wrist.
It was nearly midnight by the time they pulled in at the pack house and everyone was immediately concerned because all of the security lights were on around the house and there were several people running around. Chris ran up to the car as soon as they pulled up and reported that rogues had crossed the borders and they were going after them. “We’re not sure how many there are and so far no one has been hurt but the sensors went off a few minutes ago.”
They had installed motion sensors all along the border where the rogues had attacked and killed Ronald and it was a measure that was paying off.
Ethan and Marcus saw the women inside and after kissing them and telling them not to worry, they stripped and went back outside. Ethan linked everyone and told them to follow him and his father as they ran across the yard. They didn’t get very far into the woods when they were met by two members of their pack and 4 scrawny, malnourished rogues.
As soon as they approached them, all of the rogues rolled onto their backs, exposing their bellies and necks in surrender. Brian, the senior guard of the two, reported that the rogues had not put up any kind of fight and were asking for sanctuary and to join the Silver Forest Pack.
“The big brown one said that the rogue pack is falling apart. They are all getting tired of Lucas and his madness. He said most of the rogues have not eaten in days because Lucas eats first and is greedy. He also warned us that Lucas is targeting our sheep and cattle and that they plan to attack in the next day or two.”
Ethan ordered for them to be taken to the cells and for someone to get them some food and clothes. “Allow them to bathe, eat and get some sleep. We’ll deal with them in the morning.” Ethan instructed.
Ethan and his father didn’t really discuss it tonight, since it was so late and they were both tired from the long day but it would weigh heavily on their minds tonight. Was their story true or was this an attempt to get spies into the pack? If they allowed them to stay, they were going to have to be closely monitored before they could be trusted.
Ethan and his father returned to the house, after mind-linking the pack that the emergency was over and to the guards, to be alert to other rogues who might try coming onto the land. “Be on alert for attacks but don’t assume that everyone is a danger. Double the guard on the borders to the pasture lands. Tomorrow, let’s make sure we get sensors put up in those areas as well.”
Angela and Kia were anxiously waiting for their mates to return as they sat at the kitchen table, sipping tea. They both jumped up when the men came in dressed only in a pair of shorts, having taken pairs from the box that Edith kept outside the kitchen door expressly for when people had to shift back from their wolves as they were always naked and many of the people who worked in the kitchen and household staff were unmated females.
They explained to the women what had happened and they were both amazed. “Wow, this is certainly different. Do you think they are on the up and up or is this a ploy to insert spies into the pack?” Angela asked.
“That’s what we were wondering too but we’ll just have to wait till tomorrow to find out. We’ve ordered that they be fed, allowed to bathe and to sleep. They will be housed in the cells for now and we’ll interrogate them tomorrow. For now, let’s go to bed.”