Typical first day of school. The office was crowded beyond belief with ridiculous students that refused to fix their accounts before now. I was helping a brown-haired freshman when I felt my stomach tighten and my inner wolf awaken. I looked towards the office doors and saw the long golden blonde hair of a girl leaving. It was glossy, flowing, and magnificent. I had never seen hair like hers before. Every muscles in my body stiffened and I felt the absolute need for her to turn.
She stopped as if on command and turned around slowly to face me.
“Mate,” my wolf urged out of my human mouth.
In an instant my life was cut off and nothing mattered but her. It was like a dream. The noises around me became silent. The room blurred around her. I stood speechless staring into the abyss of her deep ocean blue eyes. My wolf zeroed in on her every curve. Everything about me was tied to her, to a human beauty. She was not a wolf, but she was mine.
The deep red of her lips turned to a stunning smile and I had to smile back. It was evolutionary. It was in my bones. I had to smile at my mate. Love. Beautiful. She was my everything. All I would ever do in life again would be for her. She was meant to be mine. She would stay by my side in all life’s trials. She was my mate. She was who I was waiting all this time for.
I’d finally found my mate.
After four years of searching, she was there grinning and begging to take my mark.
She looked down to the ground, her face blushing slightly, and then continued on through the doors. I stood up straighter watching her every movement as she walked along the row of windows. She watched me with a smile that I would forever hold in my heart.
My other half.
As she left my line of sight I was brought out of my daze and knew I needed to go after her. I slid away from my computer and raced behind the other tellers. I had to get to her. Just before I left the employee boundary completely, Mrs. Camry my round shaped, grey haired boss, stepped in front of my path. My wolf’s initial thought was to just ram her over and run, but somehow I stopped.
“Mr. Dames, it is not time for your break. You need to go back and finish helping that young man there.”
I followed her point to the boy who stood with a confused expression staring my way. I looked back to door wondering if I could just slide away anyway. I needed to go after that girl. My girl. The mate connection between us now burned at my side as I felt her steps get further and further away.
“Mr. Dames!” she chided.
“I…I need my break now.” I’ve got to leave lady.
Could she not see my need to get to my mate?
She scowled at me with strong black eyes. “Didn’t you just take it half an hour ago? Get back to work.”
“Uh, uh, uh…” I tried to figure out some excuse, but my mind was racing only with thoughts of her.
“You leave and you’re fired,” she glowered.
My inner wolf growled the challenge, but I lowered my head and turned back to the boy. “Yes ma’am.” I started walking back towards my desk side glancing at the windows. The girl would have to come back. She was my mate. She’d be back.
I watched the windows all the rest of my shift, but she never came back. When the second-hand hit clocking out time, I grabbed my backpack and threw it on my shoulder with a full-bodied beam. I would see her again.
She was here. My mate was here.
I walked through the building doors and out into the fresh sunlight. The day was beautiful. My face angled toward the sun and I felt the warmth on my already hot face. This was a great day, wonderful skies and now a wonderful mate. Then I took off. With my speed I knew it would only take me a few minutes to find her. It would be easy.
Famous last words.
I looked around and tried to see the long blonde hair or the deep blue of eyes of the only girl who would ever hold my heart, but I couldn’t see her anywhere. I walked around campus for hours, through the cafeteria, the quad, through the countless dorms. Not even once did I feel the mate bond strong enough to move straight to her.
Late into the night, I slogged off campus and towards my apartment defeated. I seemed to get lost in the ocean blue that now surrounded me. Every step took me further away from my girl. It felt awful to step each foot further, but if that meant anything, it meant that she went to school there. She was around. I would find her. It did seem to give me renewed hope. Maybe not today, but certainly tomorrow.
I walked the steps to my apartment and keyed the door. Ben and Jackson, my packmates, were sitting on our musty old orange couch playing the newest video game added to our collection. Ben, a skinny sky-high monster, had long hair and was the future pack beta. Jackson had the shortest hair of us all and loved cut off tshirts to show his well earned muscles. He was my future alpha and best friend. We all grew up together and would be leading the pack in a few years. They had both found their mates the moment they turned eighteen within the pack. They never knew the struggle to see couples.
But, now I wouldn’t either.
That was, if I could find her.
Tossing my backpack near the door, I wandered to the kitchen for a glass of orange juice. I grabbed my glass and carton and sat down at the small chipped table. While I stared off into space, I poured a drink trying to figure out how to find her. My body was aching with frustration that I couldn’t find her, but I tried not to get my spirits down. She was meant to be mine which meant we would find each other, just how to make it sooner?
Ben’s hollering voice rang out. “Dude come on over! I’m totally whooping Jackson, you should come take his place, at least then I would have some real competition.”
“Shut up Pansy! I’ve been kicking your trash since the game started.” I heard their back and forth banter.
I downed the rest of the juice in the glass and then crouched on my arms over the table. “No thanks guys,” I said a bit more melancholy than I meant. I stood and put the carton away and headed back towards my room.
Slipping into the small cluttered room that housed my bed, desk, and closet, I fell onto the mattress and looked up toward the ceiling. How was I going to do it? Google the university and long blonde hair?
Yeah right. I’m very sure that wouldn’t give me the results I was looking for. And even with my job I couldn’t just look up pictures of all the students that attended here. I didn’t hold access to those kinds of records.
“Dude? What’s up?” Ben’s voice sprang from my doorway. I looked over to him and Jackson eyeing me carefully.
I sat up and shrugged. “I found my mate today.”
“What?! Hey! That’s great news!” “Way to go man!” A chorus of congrats filled my room.
“Except it’s not like that guys. I saw her. I didn’t meet her. I don’t even know her name.” Why the hell didn’t I go ask Cody what the name of the girl he was working with was? I could have stopped and at least asked that.
Really, I should have just gotten fired and ran after her. Who cares about the stupid job.
Jackson came and plopped next to me, bouncing the bed with his large frame. “So, let’s go find her! You met her on campus right? Let’s start the search.”
“Guys it’s not that easy. There are over thirty thousand students that go there. It’s not like I can just look through every face.”
“Well, tell us what she looks like and there will be two more sets of eyes to look for her.” Ben said still leaning against the door frame.
I slid back against the wall dreamily. Her face coming to me like a picture, clear and imprinted on my soul. “She has the most beautiful hair. It was long and golden blonde. It was super straight clear down her back. Her eyes are the deepest ocean blue. Her smile could light up the city. She was lean and muscular, not skinny, but not average. Nothing about her could ever be average. Everything about her was perfect. She was perfect.”
Jackson laughed, “okay so great bod, long blonde hair, blue eyes.”
“She sounds h-o-t hot,” Ben added.
I sat up quickly and shot him an irritated glance. My mate protective instinct already kicking in. He stood straight and put his hands up protectively, “just saying dude! She sounds like a fierce one for a mate. You know I would never really go after her. I’ve got Claire.”
I slunk back down with a sigh. “She’s beautiful.” I looked back and forth between them, “seriously guys, how am I going to find her?”
Jackson patted my back. “She’s your mate dude. You’ll find her.”
I tried to nod my head in agreement.
The week past on and each day Ben and Jackson would report if they saw anyone with that long of hair. It should have been easy, hardly any girls keep that length. But it wasn’t. They sent text pictures as they walked by a girl here or there, but it wasn’t ever her. I told everyone in the office to be on the lookout too. If she came back I needed to know who she was that instant. I watched with bated breath as every blond haired girl would come into my view, but none was who I was hoping for.
I would not be down about it though. She was my mate. I knew I would find her.
I was looking through the campus directory once again trying to find any name that would pop out to me. It was the eighth time I had read it. Maybe she wasn’t in it; maybe I just didn’t know her name. I sighed and fell back against my bed hitting my head on the wall.
A curse word fired from my lips as I looked around and saw the break in the sheetrock. My landlord was sure not to like that.
Jackson came to the door and shook his head when he saw the dent in the wall and the student directory at my side. He came and sat next to me and flipped through the pages randomly. “Why don’t we go out tonight? Guys night. We could go bowling or something. Get your mind off her for at least one night.”
I sighed and leaned my head back against the wall, head fitting into the new pocket. “I have to find her. How would you feel if you didn’t know where Des was?” He met Des all of two hours after he turned 18 and ready to mate. They’d been together every day, the four years since.
His brow furrowed at the thought of his mate being lost, but otherwise didn’t say anything.
“See? I’ve got to find her.”
He let a hand rake through his short hair. “I don’t know what to tell ya’ Ash. We’re all looking for her the best we can. Do you think she like, cut her hair or something?”
My eyes widened in fright, but then realized it didn’t matter. I could still find her no matter what she looked like. I just wouldn’t have the help I needed.
The loud song of my cell phone rang from my backpack interrupting my thoughts. I dug around until I found it. It was Cody. He probably wanted me to come bail out his shift again. At least it would give me something to do.
“Ash! Dude! She was here!”
I sat up straight. My voice had a tinge of urgency. “What? Who?!”
“Blondie! That chick you’ve been looking for!”
My eyes went wide and a smile crept to my face.
“You found her! What’s her name? She’s there! Can I talk to her? I’ll be there in two minutes!” My voice sped at an accelerated rate. I wasn’t even sure if he caught any of the words. Jackson sat up straighter and grinned beside me as his sensitive wolf ears caught the conversation.
“Whoa! Whoa! Hold up there Asher. I saw her. She’s gone.”
“What!?” I couldn’t help but yell. “What do you mean she’s gone? Where is she? Why did you let her go?”
“Dude! Slow down. She was here. Her and her friend were talking about you.”
The blood drained from my face and I sat motionless with the phone next to my ear. She was talking about me? How could she have been talking about me?
“Ash? Asher? You still there?”
I shook out my head. “Yeah, yeah. Sorry. Now wait. What did she say? How do you know it was her?”
There was a pause while he collected his thoughts. It seemed hours long. Jackson was listening just as intently as I was now. “I was going on my break and there were these two hot chicks standing outside. I heard one of them say your name so I turned to say somethin’. The dark haired chick that was with blondie said something about blondie loving you.”
The phone slipped through my fingers, but Jackson caught it before it landed. My mouth hung open. Was I hearing correctly? Was he playing with me? He had to be. That was beyond my wildest imagination. There was no way. He was tricking me.
Jackson put the phone up to his ear as I stared out in a haze. “Cody? This is Jackson.”
“Hey Jackie!” He laughed into the receiver.
“How do you know it was her?”
I listened intently to Cody’s voice through the line. “She had really deep blue eyes and pretty blonde hair that was way long. Like to her great ass long. That’s her right?”
I nodded my head with every ounce of strength I could. Was it her? It had to be her!
Jackson smiled at me then asked into the phone, “So then what happened?”
“Blondie got all upset and grabbed the other chick and took off.”
“Did you go after them? Where did they go?” Jackson sounded just as urgent as I felt.
“I dunno. I went right for my cell to call Ash. They took off for the doors to the quad. I’m sorry, I didn’t think to stop them.”
“Right, right.” Jackson nodded his head. “Hey, go look and see if you can go after them and we’ll be right there.”
They said their goodbyes and I tried to blink out of my stupor.
“Come on man! Let’s go get your mate!” Jackson grabbed my arm and tugged me up. When my feet hit the ground, I ran. I would find her. Today! I would find her. I felt like I was running on air. Did she really love me too? I know the mate tie affects the girls with the adoration, but she was human. Could she already feel it now? She couldn’t, right? A smile wider than has met my lips for days escaped to my mouth. It didn’t matter. It only mattered that she was there.
Jackson was running with me and kept reminding me of human pace. I was glad of that because I was in no mood to worry about human pace. I was finding my mate.
We arrived at the school in no time and raced through the quad for any sight of my blonde-haired beauty. Cody had lost them in the crowd, but I knew we could still find her. Jackson and I split up and ran through the sea of people searching every face. We got further and further through and then finally met at the other side.
Jackson shook his head. “She’s not here Ash. Can you feel her through the bond?”
I shook my head slightly and looked towards the spears of grass at my feet. “Naw. I haven’t felt her since the day I first saw her. Too many people.”
“Well, cheer up.” He put his hand at my shoulder. “Now we know for a fact she is still around. Plus now we know she is thinking about you too.”
I playfully punched his arm off me and gave a side smirk. “Yeah.”
The months past and the confidence that I would find her grew thinner and thinner. My coworkers watched for her, my friends watched for her, but it was like she disappeared into thin air. The guys noticed that I was plummeting into depression. Life without my mate was like no life at all. My grades started slipping and my boss was irritated with my slowed performance. My friends saw the lack of enthusiasm for things I once loved. I stopped shifting. I stopped running. I did nothing.
I wasn’t living. I was merely being.
One day in September when Ben and Jackson were finally annoyed me long enough, I went to a football game with them. It was stupid. I used to enjoy football, but maybe just playing it was better. The only reason I even agreed was that they both told me it would be a great place to search for faces. But it didn’t matter. We’d never find her. The stadium had over 70,000 seats. At least a lot of people would be out, and I did have good wolf eyesight.
But just as I thought, I walked away crushed and empty handed after the game ended.
But on our way through the crowd to the parking lot, I did feel something. My head piped up when I felt the mate bond warming. I could only feel it slightly with everyone closing in, but I knew it. She had to have been near. I searched frantically around the mass of people. Ben and Jackson noticed my interest and without a word began looking too.
That could have been it. But as the mass swirled around me, I knew it was no use. Even if I did see her, I couldn’t move an inch without giving my werewolf self away. Although at that point, with a sight of blonde hair, I was ready to. I would have given everything up just to have her back.
No use though.
But I think about that day, every moment, in misery. I should have done more. I should have just wolfed out and searched her out. I’m betting the wolf could have found her. Jackson feels Des stronger, and Ben for Claire when they aren’t concentrating on hunting. But then it would be over. I’d be a werewolf on display at some museum somewhere. I know I’d get caught.
At this point it might be worth the price to pay to see her again. I contemplated that for a moment and then shook my head out.
It was only a minute I felt the connection and then it succumbed to the energy of the crowd again. But it least it gave me renewed hope. However, that didn’t last long. September to now was way too long, and I sighed inwardly.
I needed my mate. I worried about her. I was pained for her, and I didn’t even know her name. How could she disappear so thoroughly? Where was she? You would think that someone would have seen her by now. It had been months, but I suppose with how many thousands of students that attend there it would truly be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Maybe she really did cut her hair.
I laid on my bed and immersed myself in thoughts of her flowing hair, her eyes, and her smile. At least I could see her face every time I closed my eyes. I remembered her perfectly. It was not a vision I would ever forget. I knew her. I just didn’t know where she was.
Ben then raced in my room out of breath. He used the doorframe to steady himself.
“Kate,” he huffed out with an intense grin. “Her name is Kate.” His voice was shaky as he breathed out.
I sat up. My eyebrows knitted together as I looked towards him, thrown off that a werewolf could ever be out of breath. “What?” I asked softly, my insides slowly tightening.
He slipped in the door and fell down into my computer chair throwing a newspaper at me. “Page… nine.” He breathed again. “Kate Hall.”
I grabbed the newspaper and started flipping through the pages as quickly as I could. “There is a picture with a,” he let a pause slow him before continuing, “pretty long hair girl. That’s her right?”
I finally hit the page and let my mouth come open. I touched her black and white picture as if I could feel her hair through the print.
My wolf howled his appreciation in my head. Shivers slid down my spine.
“Is that her then?”
A smile tugged at the corner of my mouth. I nodded, never taking my eyes from her picture. “Kate,” I whispered as I slid my finger over her name.
“I ran all the way here dude. I knew I had to get this to you.”
I tore my eyes from her picture and pointed behind him. “The directory.”
He twisted and started flipping through the pages coming to the H last names. I couldn’t breathe. The anticipation was thick on the air. She had to be there! Please, please let her be there.
His finger came to a stop and he looked up at me a grin plastered on his face. “She’s here man. Campus building 121.”
I stood up and was in the living room replacing my shirt and shoes in an instant. “I’m going!”
I was out the door and on my way to her dorm. My heart sped in my chest and I ran clear there. Stepping into the doors I already knew she had to be close, my mate connection screamed it. A curly haired girl looked up from a desk in the lounge area. “Need some help?”
“Kate. Kate Hall.” It seemed to be the only words I could form. “What room is hers?”
She made an apologetic face. “I can’t give out that information, sorry. Let me get you…”
I started walking towards the stairs somehow knowing my mate was there. I would find her with or without help. She was close.
“Hold up!” The receptionist called after me. I turned back to her briefly and then ran right over a dark-haired girl on the stairs.
“Excuse me,” I said as I helped the girl up. My eyes were still looking towards the top of the stairs.
“You look famil….Asher?” She asked cautiously.
I turned to face her, searching my memory trying to remember where I knew her, my face showing the confusion I felt.
The curly haired girl caught up. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave sir.” She grabbed my arm and tried to move me. She didn’t know that I was not going anywhere. I’d drag her the whole way there if I needed to.
I would not lose my mate again.
“Lydia. It’s okay. He’s with me,” the dark-haired girl spoke again.
I looked back to her trying to place if I had ever seen her before. Nothing rang a bell.
“Oh,” the first girl said, “okay well if you know him.” She backed down and started walking away.
The dark-haired girl turned back to me. “Are you looking for Kate?”
I opened my mouth in awe. She knew Kate? I nodded like a fool.
“Come on,” the second girl spoke up, “I’ll take you up to our room.”
She grabbed my arm and I let her drag me, but she wasn’t moving fast enough. My muscles were shaking. I was going to see my mate! I was going to see her? After all this time I would see her.
“I’m Sara. Kate’s roommate. You’re Asher?”
I nodded as we stepped onto the platform of the second story. “She, she talks about me?” How else would this girl know me?
“Not lately,” she sighed as she led me through the halls. “But she watches out the window and I know she’s looking for you.”
I let a smile escape to my mouth.
It was true. Kate did remember me.
Did she think of me like I thought of her?
Sara stopped and pointed to a plain green door. “This is us.”
As I stood there I felt the connection at my side burn. I knew she had to be there. I could hear her heartbeat and breathing even through the door. It was her. I breathed in deep trying to center myself and the scent that was on the air was beautiful. Raspberry filled my head. It had to be hers.
I moved my hand into a fist and held my hand at the door. I quickly took the jump and knocked.
When she opened the door, my body took flight in love and longing.
She was there.
Kate was there.
My Kate was there.
She was so much more beautiful than I had remembered and her scent was so pure. Sweet and soft. Hair flowing down her shoulder like a golden waterfall and a look of shock that my mate bond was screaming at me to fix. I would.
I would never again let her go.
My life was complete.
I had finally found my mate.
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