Chapter 18 ~~Preparing for the Luna Ball~~
The rest of the week was focused on preparing for the Luna ball and for Kia, learning about taking over Angela’s job, which wasn’t as much since Angela seemed more focused on making sure that everything was ready for the ball. They had invited several of the nearby packs, including Mitch’s pack, the Blue Pine pack.
Tanya had been over to the house almost every day, offering her assistance to help with the decorations and cleaning. Her mother was still not leaving the house much but wasn’t confining herself to the bedroom anymore, so Tanya was taking the opportunity to come help out around the pack house as much as possible.
Tanya spent a lot of time in the garden with Angela and Jacob, making sure that there were no weeds and that everything was perfectly pruned for the ball since the party would flow from the ballroom, through the dining room and out to the garden. Only Kia seemed to notice that Lucy became absent wherever Tanya was and she felt heart sore for the one really close friend she had made in the pack.
With as many people that would be attending the ball, they were going to need every square inch of space. This morning, Jacob had installed up lights as well as strings of tiny white lights to emphasize some of the prettier bushes and trees so there would be plenty of light for people to enjoy the gardens even after dark.
Tanya was excited that she would finally be able to introduce her parents to Mitch the night of the ball. They had talked almost nightly on the phone and Mitch had taken her to both lunch and dinner the day she went to clean out her dorm room.
Mitch had called Ethan several times asking about Tanya’s parents and whether or not Ethan might have a position in the Silver Forest pack for him, IF Tanya decided she wanted to stay near her parents. Mitch accepted that it would not be a Beta position or even a Gamma and that Josh was the lead warrior but Ethan had told him that they could always use good fighters.
Ethan knew that if anything were to happen to Mitch’s brother, Jeffrey, Mitch would more than likely go back to his own pack and become the Beta, as he would be the next natural person to fulfill the role. Jeffrey had not found his mate yet either and would be attending the Luna ball as well as their parents and the 25 unmated members of their pack.
The Blue Pine pack leaders had been friends with the leaders of the Silver Forest pack for many years and the leaders all knew each other. Ethan and Angela both agreed that it was highly possible that there might be more than one mate matching happening the night of the Luna ball with all the single people that would be attending. The anticipation of what might happen that night had everyone working extra hard to make sure that everything was going to go off perfectly.
Lucy had been hidden away in her room sewing like a mad woman, not only for Kia’s gown and cape but she had made a dress for herself as well. She had prayed every night that she might finally find her mate the night of the Luna ball. She had missed Tanya while she had been away at college but right now she couldn’t stand to hear her talk about Mitch anymore. Tanya was so happy while Lucy just felt miserable and so alone.
Kia’s dress and cape were finished the night before the ball and Lucy had dug into her supplies and found the perfect hair accessories to put in Kia’s hair.
Lucy had talked to Kia about being excused from her normal household duties so that she could focus on getting everything ready in time. “Not to mention that if I have to listen to Tanya go on and on about Mitch, I’m afraid that I’m going to say something to destroy our friendship.” Lucy had admitted when she had been doing a fitting on Kia’s dress.
Kia had sensed that Tanya’s non stop monologue about how wonderful Mitch was had been irritating Lucy and Lucy had admitted to Kia that it was because she was jealous.
“Everyone I know seems to have a mate except for me. I’m older than either of you but I’m still single, while both of you seem so happy. I’m terrified that I’m going to die an old maid, in more than one sense of the word.” Fighting back the tears that seemed to be constantly in danger of falling from her eyes ever since Tanya had met Mitch.
“Oh Lucy. I understand but you will find him someday and believe me when you do, you’re going to feel like someone has suddenly turned the world upside down. I was very leery of Ethan when I first met him. I was attracted to him, of course, but then any woman who looks at him recognizes how incredibly handsome he is but I’ve known good looking guys before.
Take the guy that attacked me at the Senior Ball. I used to have a huge crush on him in our sophomore year and he is drop dead gorgeous with a James Dean bad boy kind of appeal but he never gave me a second look until the night of the Senior ball. He was attracted to the fancy clothes and hair, whereas Ethan found me asleep on a bus stop bench wearing my biggest sloppiest clothes, no makeup and must have looked like hell but he knew right away that I was his mate. I thought he was nuts at first but Tia knew. She was going crazy in my mind and because I didn’t know about her, I thought I was going crazy. It took me two days and lots of talking to Angela before I finally decided to accept him.” Kia shared with her.
“Wow, that was the moon goddess at work there for sure.” Lucy laughed.
"I’m still surprised that Ethan didn’t kill that bastard that tried to rape you!” Lucy said with feeling.
“No, because Doug is in jail now. In fact, I may have to go to court to testify against him.” Kia said and that set her to thinking about why no one from the lawyers office had contacted her yet.
“There. You hang even now. The hem is all I have left to do.” Lucy said as she pushed herself up off the floor and walked around Kia to make sure that everything hung straight and just barely skimmed the floor.
“Don’t worry, Lucy. Maybe tomorrow night you will finally find him. There are going to be almost two hundred people here from other packs around the area. Maybe Mr. Right for you will be one of them.” Kia said as she walked over to the full length mirror and admired her gown. “Oh Lucy, any man who gets you is going to be getting a real prize. My gown is exactly as I imagined it. You are a miracle worker! It’s beautiful!”
“Well, you knew exactly what you wanted and you chose the fabric. All I did was put it all together but you are right. It did turn out beautifully.” Lucy said. “How are you doing on shifting?”
“It’s almost painless and only takes a few seconds now. Still a little sore when my joints break but it’s more like bumping your knee on the coffee table now. At first it felt like someone was trying to pull me limb from limb and peel me with a dull knife.” Kia told her.
“I know exactly what you mean. I don’t get to be in my wolf form nearly often enough. Sometimes I shift and sleep like that just so I don’t hurt so much when I do it.” Lucy said as she helped Kia take the gown off.
While Kia dressed in her jeans and t-shirt, she told Lucy. “Angela says I have to start battle training next week. I’m not admitting this to anyone else but I’m a little nervous. She introduced me to Sandra the other day. I didn’t know women came that big.”
“Yeah, Sandra is that and while she’s a tough teacher, she can teach you to defend yourself. Hopefully it is training you will never need but better to be safe than sorry.” Lucy said.
“Well, as much fun as this has been, I’d better get back to work. Thank you so much for making these for me. I can’t wait to see Ethan’s face when I walk out wearing this.” Kia said as she ran her hand down the lovely gown that was now back on the fitting mannequin near the sewing machine.
Kia left Lucy’s room and returned to her office. She needed to go through her emails and make sure that no one else had sent an RSVP to the ball.
When they had first mentioned having the Luna Ball, she had assumed that it would just be the members of the Silver Forest pack but Angela had sent out invitations to all the neighboring packs as well as packs that they did business with or had steady relationships with. Two of the northeast packs had to decline, saying they didn’t feel right about leaving their packs when they were having so many issues with the rogues.
But most of the other packs had agreed to send at least their Beta and or Gamma as representatives of their packs, if the Alpha’s couldn’t attend but several, mostly from the southern packs, had agreed to come and bring their unmated pack members. It had resulted in the head count going from 317 adults from their own pack to include over 209 members of neighboring packs. Most of the ones from packs that were not attached to their borders would be only their Alpha’s and or Beta’s and their mates, if they had them.
That brought the total up to 526 people so far. It seemed like every time she checked her email in the past two days, there were more and more acceptances. Thankfully, since it was only one more day until the Ball, her email was empty.
Kia spent some time going over the list of things that needed to be done, checking off what she was sure had been taken care of, then re-sorted the list and printed the full list along with just the section that still needed to be attended to, which was thankfully a rather short list now. When it was finished printing, she grabbed the copies she had made and headed out to find Angela.
Kia walked the path that she would be taking tomorrow night, trying to imagine what it would be like and felt a few butterflies in her stomach. There was a balcony overlooking the ballroom that was accessed from the second floor, to the left of where the stairs went down to the main floor.
Kia walked over to the heavy blue velvet curtains that separated it from the landing of the stairway and pulled them apart. She stepped out on the balcony and looked down over the ball room. She tried to imagine the room full of people looking up at her and then wished she hadn’t done that as suddenly the gentle butterflies in her stomach turned into full blown birds with sharp beaks. She took a deep breath and tried to steady her nerves. She needed to practice what she was going to do and knew that Ethan would be there with her as well.
She practiced the slow turn she had been imagining and of pulling the cape around her, reaching up and pulling on the ropes at her shoulders and around her middle and then imagined herself shifting. She knew that Tia wouldn’t be nearly as nervous as she was, or at least she hoped not.
Tia popped into her thoughts and reassured her “Don’t worry. I’ll be there for our big night. Just promise you will let me bathe with you that night? I want to be looking my best too.”
Kia was slightly surprised as Tia had never expressed wanting to bathe or for that matter to eat anything other than what Kia ate and she seemed content with Kia bathing and not her. But she had to admit, letting her take a bath was a good idea. She wondered if Ethan would help her, with a small naughty grin on her face.
Kia went down to the kitchen and asked Edith “Any idea where Angela is?”
“I think she’s out in the garden with Jacob, Luna.” Edith replied. She had been cooking for the past two days, preparing for the ball. There were dozens of Tupperware containers of cookies and cakes along with stacks of pies and several sheet cakes waiting to be frosted lining the long counter in the kitchen with a big sign that said “DO NOT TOUCH!” on top of every one.
Inside the fridges were huge bowls of potato salad, deep pans of chicken wings, trays of various sliced meats and cheeses, as well as platters or bowls of vegetables. They were not going to have a sit down meal because it would have been impossible to seat over 500 people so they were just going to have finger foods that everyone could eat while they were standing up. There would be chairs for people to sit and the dining tables had been extended to their full lengths to accommodate those who wanted to sit and eat but for the most part, people could just make a plate and continue to mingle.
“Thanks!” Kia said and went out the back door to see if she could find Angela. Sure enough she and Tanya were helping Jacob arrange some twinkling lights on one of the bushes leading out to the yard.
“Hey, Kia.” Angela said when she saw her coming with the lists in her hand. “What’s the count now?” she asked.
“526 and I just checked my email and it looks like that’s it. I didn’t get any more today. I just came to check on what else needs to be done. I’ve printed the short list and here’s a copy for you. Is there anything I’m missing?” She had also printed off the full list so that they could see the things that had already been completed.
“Jacob, is the parking area set?” Angela asked.
“Yes, ma’am. I think we should be able to fit about 50 cars in the parking area, so long as they don’t show up driving stretch limos. If we need to park more than can fit in the parking area, we are just going to have to use the driveway.” Jacob answered.
“Do we have guys assigned to be valets?” Angela asked.
“Ethan said he’s assigned the older teenage boys to direct traffic but we haven’t asked anyone to be valets. He says he doesn’t want to be responsible for anyone’s vehicles.” Kia said.
“That’s probably a good idea. At least if they dent their own cars trying to park, they can’t say it was the fault of anyone in our pack. We just need to make sure that there is enough room in front of the steps for people to drop off their passengers before going to park.” Angela said.
The driveway went around a large landscaped area in a circle in front of the house and there was a large grass area near the garages that they were going to use to park the cars of their guests. The guests would be able to drive right up to the steps, drop their passengers off and then continue to the parking area.
“I’ll tell Ethan to talk to the boys tomorrow afternoon so they are all sure of what they are supposed to do. Speaking of Ethan, where is he?” Kia asked.
“He’s over at the cells questioning the rogues that came on to the land the other night.” Angela told her.
Marcus joined them in the garden and asked where Ethan was as well. He had just received two calls from nearby packs saying that rogues had shown up on their lands asking for sanctuary as well in the past day or two.
“Looks like Lucas is losing control over his rogue pack. Jasper, the Alpha from the Red Ridge pack says that three of them showed up on his land so weak that they passed out almost as soon as they stepped on to his land. Apparently, Lucas is beginning to kill his own pack members for food for himself and his higher pack members. They ran in fear of being eaten.” Marcus said in disgust.
“Same goes for the Blue Pine pack. They had two omega’s show up on their land, begging for sanctuary. They are all holding them for questioning. They have requested that we come after the Luna ball and be present while they are questioned.” Marcus told them.
“Do you think they are on the up and up or is this a tactic to get spies into the packs?” Angela asked her husband.
“Well, both of them said that the wolves that showed up on their land looked like they had not eaten for a long time and devoured the food they provided in a quick minute. They’ve asked for bath’s and are answering all questions put to them, seemingly without reservations.
But I think that as soon as the Ball is over, Ethan, Jared and I need to plan to do some visiting to other surrounding packs.” Marcus said. With that he took off across the yard to the cells where they were holding the rogues that had turned themselves into the Silver Forest pack a few days ago.
“Oh, I do hope that we can get through the ball without any interference from the rogues.’ Angela said, thinking out loud and everyone agreed with her.
The rest of the day was spent seeing to the last minute details that they could finish today. Tomorrow is going to be balloon duty. Angela had Kia order 5 canisters of helium and they were going to blow up balloons to float around the rooms as part of the decorations.
Everyone was up early the next morning and soon after breakfast, the live band they had hired showed up to set up their equipment. A small stage had been built at one end of the ball room. They had large speakers on either side of the stage, along with two others that would be positioned in the corners of the room near the doors as well as smaller speakers that would be set up outside on the patio so that the music could be heard no matter where the party goers were. They spent a large part of the morning getting set up and testing that everything worked and adjusting the volumes.
All of the household staff that were not working with Edith in the kitchen, were assigned to either wrapping the plastic flatware with napkins or balloon duties, including Ethan, Jared, Chris and Josh.
Josh kept hitting Chris with the balloons he was blowing up and they ended up in a lively game of balloon volleyball until Angela got irritated with them and scolded them. “Grow up you two or you won’t be allowed to attend the ball tonight. We have far too much left to do for you to waste it playing games.”
“Sorry, Luna Angela.” Chris said and Josh just looked shamefaced and they both returned to blowing up the balloons. Angela, Kia and Lucy took garbage bags full of the balloons into the ballroom and began releasing them.
It gave the room pops of color and made the balloons look like moons floating among the silver icicles hanging from the ceiling. In the dining room, they tied the balloons on long ribbons and attached them to the corners of the serving tables and to the backs of the chairs that lined the sides of the room.
They bundled three balloons together and tied them to small bowls of floating flower candles in intervals along the main dining table as well as to the center of each of the smaller dining tables around the room.
Angela had ordered a large center piece for the center of the dining room table from a florist in the city. To keep it with the rest of the decorations, she added 5 balloons bundled together by tying the extra long ribbons to a pin that she pushed down into the center of the green foam block holding the flowers in place in the arrangement.
Angela was hoping that people would keep their plates mostly in this room and not track food all over the ball room since they were counting on the floor being clean when the dancing started. She would mention it to the band leader to please ask everyone to keep food out of the ballroom.
Kia went around checking things off on her list. There was one table just inside of the dining room doors that held stacks of heavy duty paper plates that had a very nice decoration on them of Silver trees lining the edges. There were also bundles of high quality plastic forks, spoons and knives wrapped in large, high quality paper napkins in some lovely well made wicker baskets.
The next table held different kinds of bread and some tortilla’s. Sliced white, dark rye, sourdough as well as croissants and dinner rolls were arranged attractively on stands that made access easier. The next table had vegetables, some large bowls of lettuce of three different varieties of iceberg, romaine and green leaf lettuce.
There were also sliced tomatoes, dill, sweet and bread and butter pickles. The next table held a variety of sliced meats and cheeses and next to that table was a selection of open containers of mayonnaise, mustard in three varieties, ketchup as well as some barbeque sauce and dressings in several flavors.
The next table held several deep pans of meatballs and chicken wings. It would be the consumers choice to coat them with their preferred sauce. Edith had supplied four containers in squeeze bottles labeled “BBQ”, “Mild”, “Hot” and “Explosive” . Kia sniffed the bottle labeled “Explosive” and quickly put it down, knowing that she would not be trying it.
The final two tables would hold all of the sweet treats that Edith and her staff had created. Edith had informed them that one of the girls working in her kitchen seemed to have a natural knack for cake decorating and had created one that they were hiding as a surprise for Kia and Ethan.
It was a round cake frosted with white as a base with a silver and a black wolf with their faces touching so it created a heart shape on the pale blue background. The young woman that created it used chocolate frosting for the black wolf that she had used food dye to make it appear to be black. She made green leaves drape over the edges of the cake so that it looked like a pale blue moon was rising behind the trees. It was the perfect cake for the Silver Forest Pack’s Alpha to introduce his new mate and the pack Luna.
Drinks were going to be served on the patio and there were casks of both red and white wine, several kegs of beer as well as a soda fountain machine that would serve a cola, a diet cola, sprite and because it was Ethan’s favorite, a root beer. Tubs of iced filled with bottled spring water would finish up the beverages. Marcus had considered serving a wolf wine beverage but considering that some people had quite a distance to drive going home, they decided against it.
Kia had been amazed to learn that wolves don’t get drunk as easily as humans do and the women were glad since drunk wolves could mean trouble among the packs and that was something that no one wanted.
The day just seemed to fly by and around 2:30 pm, Angela knew that Kia was getting extremely nervous and suggested that she go lay down for a while. “Even if you don’t sleep, it’s going to be a big night for you and you want to look your best and hopefully Lucy will be able to hide the bags under your eyes if you don’t get some rest.” Angela said as gently as she could.
As Kia walked to her bedroom, Lucy showed up and handed her a tube of hemorrhoid cream which earned her a funny look from Kia. “What’s this for?” Kia asked.
“Put just a little bit on your baby finger tips and dab then gently spread it under your eyes. It will keep your eyes from looking puffy and baggy. Concealer is good stuff but this is even better.” Lucy giggled at the disgusted look on Kia’s face but Kia took it and applied it as she had been instructed.
Kia lay down on the bed and tried to relax but she kept going over the list in her mind. They had already checked off everything that needed to be done and all that was left was to shower and get dressed. Kia made sure she knew where Ethan’s gift was, thankful that the cape Lucy had made had big deep pockets in the side seams.
She lay on the bed, trying to imagine what tonight was going to be like and eventually dozed off to have a wonderful dream of dancing the night away with Ethan and making lots of new friends.