Wolves of Mateo

After a prank gone wrong, Riley is left abandoned in the forest with snapping wolves approaching her from across Lake Mateo. She wakes up in the Dimera house but soon comes to learn their act of hospitality wasn't just out of kindness, but out of something much deeper and terrifying - to a mere human anyway. Werewolves live among us and Riley finds herself between two of the most powerful werewolves in Wyoming. While her heart is being torn in two, her head is telling her to do the right thing - but it's always easier said than done. Fighting in a whole new world, she must overcome the danger and settle in where she now truly belongs. Werewolf hunters, Mate claims, Alpha rivalry, and Pack wars... Welcome to Mateo, home of the Wolves. *EDITED VERSION NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON, PUBLISHED BY MOVELLAS http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GFUK45O *
The Wolves of Mateo - Episode 121:00 min.
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The Wolves of Mateo - Episode 418:00 min.
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The Wolves of Mateo - Episode 619:00 min.

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1. Chapter 1

“Riley!” Hilary screeched in the distance by her car. She sprinted towards me before taking hold of my shoulders and launching me into a bone-crushing hug. “It’s so good to see you again!” the tall blonde teenager said.

I would have replied but found it impossible with her bone-crushing hug.

My parents stood on the porch behind us wondering if this was the same girl we’d met while on vacation a few months prior. We’d rented a beach house last summer in California and it so happened Hilary stayed locally. We were an odd pair, but we seemed to fit. We hadn’t lost contact with each other since.

“You can let me go now,” I muttered before she finally let go with a large grin on her face. At her feet were two large duffle bags of what I presumed were clothes. In another shopping bag I could see it was filled to the brim with snacks and candy. I had forgotten how much she could eat.

The blonde girl put the backpacks over her shoulder and smiled ear-to-ear. “We are going to have so much fun; you won’t believe what I have planned!” She exclaimed before waltzing up the porch without saying a word to my parents. The wooden door and screen slammed behind her.

My mom turned to my dad and said, “How long is she here for again?” My dad laughed sarcastically as if only bad luck would follow in her footsteps.

She had been nice to me ever since I met her. What’s the most she could do?

I sighed and pushed my way past my mother into the house. Hilary had already bolted up the stairs as if she knew her way around. My parents followed in behind me and watched as she rounded the second floor landing. “You guys better not cause trouble,” dad said.

I wasn’t one for causing trouble, what he was worried about was Hilary being a bad influence. She was only passing through, though. Nothing could go wrong in a day or two.

I looked back over my shoulder as I made my way up the stairs, passing him a look. At the top of the stairs I could already hear Hillary in at the snacks with the crinkling wrappers and laughter. I immediately saw the furthest door on the end open with light spilling out into the hallway.

There she was, sprawled out on my bed munching on a large bag of Cheetos.

She sighed as she laid the Cheetos down and grinned in my direction as she said, “I admit, when I first saw the welcome sign getting here, ‘Welcome to Mateo, home of the wolves’ I wasn’t hoping for much.” The wolves were a key attraction in our small town, I thought to myself. Years back other breeds of wolves were introduced and soon Mateo was overrun with them. It’d been a concern for years in fear of wolf attacks and danger to the native species. Nothing major had happened so far.

“Plus the town sounded boring on Google,” Hilary interrupted. “Remind me; why couldn’t you have come to my house instead? You would have enjoyed it more!” Because god knows what we’d get up to, I found myself thinking.

The sun outside was setting; I guessed Hilary would be staying for at least the night. I barely knew the girl, but during our time spent on holiday she felt as close as a best friend. I owed her this much if she came out here all the way to see me.

I couldn’t quite fathom yet how her parents were okay with letting their daughter drive to another state to stay with a friend she barely knew, but that was none of my business.

“You’ll never guess what I have planned!” Hilary suddenly said, “My friends all do this back home and thought it’d be just the thing to brighten up this small town! Do any teachers stay nearby?” I knew that look, the devious smile she got on her face when she was waiting to tell me one of her ideas. I remembered vividly the same look while on vacation when she viciously attacked another girl with a fluorescent iced drink.

I nodded slowly in reply.

She grinned back. “Good.”

***

It was midnight. I should have been sleeping but here I was, wide awake and not even in my bed. When my parents find out that I left the house, I’ll blame it all on Hillary, because after all whose idea was this? 

I mean, toilet papering houses was so middle school. I was supposed to be an over-achieving, mature Junior-

“Hurry up, Riley!” Hillary hissed from up ahead, cutting my thoughts in half. I could make out her hand furiously beckoning me towards her in the distance.

Trust me, it wasn’t on my bucket list – I’d never had the intention of toilet papering someone’s house before. I had protested.

Besides, how sad was it to TP houses without any reason, and to a teacher of all people? I’d be skinned alive if someone found out!

I reluctantly gave her the address to an old maths teacher nearly every sane student had hated for much of the year they spent in her class – or two years if you were unfortunate enough.

I, however, refused to give her directions. I hadn’t anticipated she’d have enough brains to use the maps function on her smart phone. I immediately regretted ever meeting Hilary.

If my parents ever found out about this...

Oh god.

Hilary marched ahead of me down the road. “Hurry up; we only have 6 hours until it starts getting brighter out. It takes at least half an hour per house if you’re doing it good!” She yelled at me. How much toilet paper exactly had she brought with her? How much was the right amount? I wouldn’t know the answers, me and my friends were never the rebellious type.

Was it really a good idea to invite a girl I barely knew who lives in what might be a completely different world in California to a considerably more rural Wyoming? Obviously not. Mateo was small town compared to big city, California where she so happened to live. We’d be caught instantly.

The roads were empty apart from parked cars at the sides. Hilary skipped down the middle of one and sang a song at the top of her lungs. “This is the place, isn’t it?” She asked finally, minutes later. I checked the sign post that read the correct street. I then read the house number that was pinned to the door. I nodded reluctantly. Of course I knew this was where my old maths teacher lived – Everyone knew everyone here in Mateo. 

Hilary handed me a roll of paper. I looked between my hand and her face with several questions and many things I wanted to tell her.

“Get started,” Hillary said before I could complain and made her way around the other side, avoiding the steps to the small wooden porch. I viewed her from a distance as she got started and quickly transferred the paper from the tube to her hand ready to hang up like you’d raise fairy lights at Christmas.

I lifted my own nervously and wondered what exactly I was doing here. Why was I letting her do this, letting her have so much control over me when we were both in my town, staying at my house? From the other side of the house, I heard her giggle slightly under her breath.

I heard a thud noise in the distance as something banged against the wooden panels. Hillary cussed loudly.

“Are you okay?” I called over in my best stage whisper.

Hillary taken a few seconds to reply. “Catch!” she yelled just seconds before a roll of toilet paper came streaming over the top of the house. It seemed like she’d over-thrown it, because instead of landing anywhere even in the realms of the teacher’s yard, it landed noisily against the next door neighbours side window.

I cringed at the impact. “What did you put in there, a rock?!” I furiously whispered as Hillary sprinted around to my side to inspect the damage.

I peered over my shoulder and switched looking between the house we’d just hit and the house we were supposed to be hitting.

“Look, no harm-,” Hillary started to say, but quickly cut herself off when the light inside the house next door flickered on. “Oh-no,” she choked as she took a frightened step back.

“What?” I asked, completely clueless.

Hillary’s face contorted into an adrenaline filled energy bubble of excitement and fear. She took a few more steps back as she shook her head, letting her blonde hair travel with the wind. She dropped all the remaining bags she was holding and turned to run away.

“Hey! Who’s out there?” A voice called. Oops.

“Riley!” Hilary yelled as she reached the tree line just over the road. I still hadn’t moved out of pure fear. “Run!”

Frantic steps on wood followed as a man chased after us from the other yard. “Get back here, I’m calling the cops!” I didn’t turn back to see who it was as I followed Hilary’s command and ran after her, because I had no doubt I knew them and they probably knew me. Maybe I’d feel less guilt later if I didn’t see their face.

 I sprinted after Hilary who was slowly disappearing into the thick shrubs and trees. “Hilary, slow down! I didn’t make the cross country team, you know!” My breath was coming out in short pants as a cold sweat glittered over my forehead. My wispy brown hair splattered to my face and stuck to it like a second skin. I was forever swiping to get it out the way.

I hadn’t realised how long I was running, I didn’t think Hilary had either. Sharp thorns and jagged leafs pierced my exposed skin and I felt my skin tear as I ran past a tree with rough bark. Not the best of ideas.

We could have been running for several minutes but I wasn’t counting. I was quickly losing the fight to keep up with Hilary who was superior in speed. She didn’t slow down for even a second to let me catch up.

Suddenly the running stopped as I saw her slow down ahead of me above a steep slope. I caught up in seconds. I immediately recognised where we were. Lake Mateo was in front of us, a small lake in comparison to most that served as a rest point for hikers and climbers who chose to explore the forest and hills. Had we really run so far?

The lake was beautiful; above it in perfect symmetry, the full moon reflected down into the water. Surrounding the banks were wild flowers and grasses.

Ahead, Hilary was bent over with hands on her knees panting to regain some of the breath she’d lost during our little detour. She had sweat glittering on her forehead and wobbled on her legs. I could have mistaken her expression for fear but I knew it’d take more than that to scare a girl like her.

“I think we lost them a while back, Hilary,” I said with anger lacing my tone. How did she expect us to find our way back? I really didn’t know these forests. I was covered in sweat, my legs were cramping, and I was yawning at least once a minute now. What had I done to deserve this?

Suddenly a fear-filled noise rattled from the back of Hillary’s throat as she backed towards me in the direction we’d came. I stared at her curiously.

The lake was small but the darkness shrouded the other side out of view. Hilary seemed to be looking at something I couldn’t see on the other side. She began to choke on her breath as she stumbled on a protruding tree root. “Hilary?” I asked. She couldn’t find the words as she tripped and fell on her behind.

She reached her hand out never once taking her eyes off a spot in the far distance on the other side of the lake. For the first time since meeting her, Hilary genuinely seemed frightened. She shook her pointed finger and whispered, “W-w-wolves.”

My body immediately transformed into a defensive position as I turned my back on the trees to face the lake like Hillary and stared off into the darkness to catch a glimpse of what Hilary had seen. The moon distractingly glistened across the lake emitting a heavenly glow that for a fraction of a second captured me with its beauty. What exactly was Hillary seeing that I couldn’t?

Then small blurred figures emerged on all fours, slowly approaching bearing sharp yellow teeth and glowing yellow eyes that reflected the moonlight just like the waters of the lake. Their fur was a midnight black, so dark it contrasted to the night time sky. These weren’t the tame, native species. 

I turned back to Hilary only to see her running back down the steep slope we’d just covered. It became obvious she had no intention of staying and waiting for me even now. Well, thanks, I thought but this was no moment for sarcasm.

I could hear their paws crunch the autumn leaves beneath their feet and their deep threatening growls. Soon enough they were close enough for me to see the steam roll from their nose. They approached me like I was the hunted and they were the hunters, which in this situation, was true. I blinked rapidly in fear.

My parents had always told me to stay out of the forest at night... I wish I had remembered that now.

One of the wolves’ in front gets lower on his front paws as if it’s going to pounce. I felt my body fall to the floor in complete terror as all my senses collapsed. My hearing went numb until all I heard was a forest ambience. My sight went blurry. My touch, useless.

But, the final blow was never delivered.

My eyes began to blacken and my head became light. At least I wouldn’t be conscious to feel my own death.

***

I was cold… very cold. Slowly as I regained a steady state of consciousness, I could feel skin against my cheek and the sensation of weightlessness as I was carried in someone’s arms. Their skin was burning hot. With each large footstep I fell more and more into their hold. Their skin was damp with sweat, their chest heaving with every laboured breath.

Cold air swept through the sky and parted my hair in every direction. I shivered, feeling painfully cold. The person carrying me held me tighter as if aware of how I felt. I curled my body tighter together and tried to move closer to the person who held me.

As I moved into a comfortable position, the stabbing pain in my head returned and slowly I felt my vision seep away like someone had pulled a plug. I groaned in pain, and it almost sounded like someone responded. I was too far gone to decipher what they said.

***

I woke up to a stream of daylight seeping through parted curtains. The light wooden floor gleamed up and hit my sense of sight. Then, rather quickly with no time to recover, I remembered. Bolting upright on my bed, I lost my vision temporarily. When it returned, I panicked.

As if on cue an older woman came through the door opposite the bed. “Oh, you’re up!” She said, her eyes widening as she softly closed the door behind her.

Was she shocked? I should be the one shocked!

My eyes widened as I looked around the room in a panic. What if these people are dangerous? I thought. How should I go about escaping from a place like this, the window? I scanned the room for a window and found it. All I saw from the bed were the tree tops and realised I wasn’t on the ground floor. There goes that plan – I sucked at the high jump in gym.

“I know you might be afraid, we can explain, trust me!” The older woman rushed to my side and kneeled as if to appear less threatening. I tucked my legs under me and leaned back. “My son found you out in the forest. You just lay there, he couldn’t have left you. Do you understand?” She asked. Her hands found mine and invasively began to stroke my palms with her thumb.

I nodded as I gently eased my hands out of hers.

She stood and gave me space. “Good. Do you think you’re well enough to get up? You look hungry. I’ll personally take you home right after you eat, I promise,” She said. The unnamed woman made a grab for my hand again but I avoided her and stood myself.

“What did you say your name was?” She asked with a grin.

Still really confused and disoriented, I replied groggily, “Riley. Riley Kerr.” My voice cracked like my throat had been damaged. I didn’t remember that happening.

“Oh, poor soul... My name’s Rose,” She kindly said before grabbing my upper arm and towing me out of the bedroom and down a small staircase. I didn’t care much to concentrate on anything around me a part from the front door, which I briefly considered using as an escape route.

“I’ll give you some of the boys’ left over’s and we can be on our way. Why on earth were you out in the forest in the first place?” She asked as we entered the kitchen. She pulled out a chair for me at the breakfast bar in the middle of a fancy modern setup.

She rushed about and picked up a cup. She poured a pink smoothie from a blender and waited for an answer. “I-I I don’t remember, really,” I told her. I did remember though, I just didn’t want to tell her I was pranking a teacher’s house with a girl I barely knew.

“You do remember who you are, at least?” She joked but I didn’t see the humour. I was scared beyond belief. I nodded quickly as she dished up some cold breakfast foods on a plate.

Suddenly disrupting the peace, raised voices entered both our ears. Rose shook her head from the corner of my eye and curiously I turned to the direction of the sound. A large group of 5 to 6 entered the room from behind us, tumbling through the same door we’d entered a few minutes before.

I was surprised at being able to recognise at least one of their faces. The boy in the front was a tall figure with dark hair I soon realised was Austin Dimera – a senior in school who kept mostly to himself.

Gradually they all fell silent and turned to look at the new face in the home with a question on their lips. Austin tilted his head at Rose and asked, “Mom, why is she still here?” Austin was Rose’s son? I found myself thinking.

His mom, Rose, waved away his concerned expression. “She’s just eating before I take her home. She seemed quite shocked, understandably.”

The unfamiliar Austin nodded but didn’t appear any more understanding. “Make it quick,” he muttered before the entire group left through another door without another word.

 

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