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* {{COMMENT FOR CC SWAP}}
The Wolves of Mateo - Episode 121:00 min.
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The Wolves of Mateo - Episode 418:00 min.
The Wolves of Mateo - Episode 516:00 min.
The Wolves of Mateo - Episode 619:00 min.

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15. Chapter 15

I shut the water off and stepped out the shower on a cool early week morning. Wrapping the warm towel around me, I stood and looked at myself in the small mirror on the bathroom cabinet. I looked clean and fresh with clear skin and water that dripped down my face. With the exception of black bags, I looked fine. They were a visible sign of my lack of sleep.

I began to put on my clothes and tried to think of things I might be allowed to do today. After Touren’s visit I was making sure I was never stepping outside again. No exaggeration. I’d had enough of that.

I towel dried my hair and sat on the closed toilet lid. I should probably visit my father, I thought. Would I have to bring Austin along with me, I wondered? I just wanted to visit my family alone, especially when I knew the next however many days would be his last as a human.

I felt like I’d spent too much time around Austin. Every waking hour was filled with him and it was driving me insane.

A knock came from across the room, and I realised once again the Dimera’s were looking for me. There certainly was no escaping them in their own house. “Riley, are you going to spend all day in there?” Austin called.

How long had he been standing there for? I asked myself. Did I have no privacy or did they not have boundaries?

“Austin, give me some more time!” I shouted back.

“You’ve been in there an hour! Are you covered? Let me come in,” he almost demanded. The door swung open and I thanked my angels for being covered in a dressing gown.

He saw my upset face and automatically looked concerned. I was glad he couldn’t tell the droplets of water from the tears that were occasionally sprouting from my eyes. “Hey, you ok?” He gently whispered.

I covered up my upset expression with a false smile. “Yes, why wouldn’t I be?” I said as I turned away.

“Riley, you look upset?” He said.

I sighed loudly. “I’m just fed up. I’m really upset. Everything is just suddenly being forced on me, my family,” I replied, pausing for a second thinking over what I was about to say, “You’re all too much.”

“Me? What have I done?” he asked, genuinely confused as to what he had done to crush me.

I squinted at him searching for truth and pushed him away with a hand. “I just feel a little crowded,” I mumbled.

He stopped whatever he was doing and asked, “Do you want to be left alone?”

So he got the hint now. “That would be ideal,” I replied.

There was a short awkward silence before he spoke up again. “Are you sure?”

I couldn’t stand the constant questions. “Yes!” I yelled so loud that I was sure his parents could have heard me.

I saw Austin’s expression and immediately regretted it. He didn’t appear upset but I was still afraid he was. I was scared he’d get angry and lash out like I’d seen him before, but then I was scared he’d hate me. What if he was happy that he didn’t have to deal with me?

“I was only trying to help,” he replied a moment later.

I narrowed my eyes lacking sympathy. “Oh yeah? Well I don’t need your help!” I snapped without thought.

As Austin left the bathroom I was left alone and suddenly I felt tremendously upset. I wanted to leave this house, but then I’d have a lot more to fight than my feelings towards Austin. My mother could be stubborn but I hated her right in that very moment for not letting me come home. I hated her for doing this. I hated Austin for not leaving me to my space and hated his family for what they are and the trouble it was causing my family and me.

My mom had no idea what funny farm she’d left her daughter in.

I couldn’t forget about my father either – what would become of him? Would he join Dimera? Never see my mom again?

I took a deep breath and began to get dressed as slowly as I possibly could. I refused to stoop as low as taking my frustration out of myself like I had before. I had to be stronger.

There came another knock at the door.

“Go away!” I yelled, presuming it was Austin.

A smaller female voice spoke out and said, “It’s Rose. Can I come in?” I still wanted to say no but the woman has been nothing but nice since day one.

She entered after I agreed and immediately enveloped my fully dressed body in a hug. “I can see this is taking a toll on you, Riley. There’s still a lot you don’t know about our kind but you’ll learn and when you do you’ll understand why we’re doing this,” she said.

“I just feel so cornered being here,” I sighed into her shoulders. “Every day.”

Rose stepped back and looked at me sympathetically. “What would you say if I allowed you to go to school?” She suddenly offered.

I looked blank as if she’d told a flat joke.

“Austin will have to be with you in your classes, of course,” she explained, “but it’s either the house all day or school with Austin.” She laughed at my grim expression and then said, “My son isn’t that bad, is he?”

I wasn’t about to insult her only child so I quickly shook my head and hugged her tightly with an almost genuine smile. “Thanks, Rose. I don’t think I’ve told you how much I appreciate your help.”

I felt her mouth twist into a smile against my shoulder. “No problem, Riley.”

***

We both got in Austin’s mothers car and began driving to school. The ride was quiet and Austin avoided saying much – I didn’t think he was too fond of going back to school, especially when he’d been given the chance to stay off for as long as I wanted to. He couldn’t argue terribly much with me or his mother, so he kept any protests to himself.

“Austin, can you take me to the hospital after school today?” I asked in the middle of the silent car ride.

He looked at me briefly before setting his eyes back on the road. “Sure.”

“I-I just want to see him before... you know,” I quietly said.

“The full moon?” he asked.

I nodded.

I felt the car swerve and stop by the side of the road. He turned in his seat while I looked at him curiously. “Tell me, are you scared of us?”

I then said, “Depends what you mean by ‘us’.”

“Werewolves,” Austin quickly replied.

I was silent for a few seconds. “Why wouldn’t I be scared?”

“Because we’d never hurt you.”

I stared at his black hair which fell onto his face. I thought about us for a second, about what my life had become. Every one thing that was right with Austin, there were 99 problems that came with it. “You can’t say that. Everyone – even humans – can hurt another,” I said. I wanted to sound fair, but I knew my issue was purely against what felt to me like nothing more than bloodthirsty monsters pulled straight from some folklore.

“We’d never purposely hurt you,” He rephrased.

I saw Austin reach out to start driving again but I interrupted quickly. I was eager to get to school, but I was also eager to ask now I had the chance. “When is the next full moon, Austin?” My father still lingered on the back of my mind. The next full moon he’d be one of them and I didn’t know how I would take it. How would I prepare?

Austin paused with his hand on the wheel.

“Austin, tell me,” I demanded. I didn’t keep track of the moon. No normal person ever had, right?

“Tomorrow,” he suddenly said.

That didn’t make me feel any better, I thought. Why hadn’t he told me sooner? I guessed it was just as well Austin had agreed to let me see him tonight.

“Do you all change of the full moon?” I curiously asked to take my mind elsewhere.

Austin shook his head. “Most of us can resist it, but on a full moon our wolves are more at peace with our human side. We become more… Animalistic? You’ll maybe someday know what I mean. It’s like having a constant battle between two entities in your mind.” I decided I didn’t like the sound of that.

I thought to myself that I’d stay in my room tomorrow and do my best not to disturb any of them if that’s what would happen. Austin finally started up the car and we headed off to school and while I thought the conversation might have set my mind to rest, it’s only added fuel to the fire.

Everything was buzzing around in my head as we pulled into the school car park where I was met with a sight I hadn’t seen in a few weeks. I quickly got out the car and I stormed off ahead into the sea of students. I could hear Austin’s feet behind me having no problem in keeping up.

I pulled my timetable from my pocket and read my first class name. Science. Great stuff.

As I passed through the halls I couldn’t help but notice how people would look at me.

“My family and I wish your father a fast recovery,” A small girl sympathetically said to me as she sped past to her class and all of a sudden it clicked. They all knew about it. Why wouldn’t they know I found myself thinking? They’re all dying to ask questions. 

I finally reached my class and I stood by the door. The curious stares didn’t waver as people passed by and told me the odd ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I hope you’re coping well’.

Austin joined me despite this not being his class. I knew then he’d be pinned to my side for the rest of the day and that infuriated me further. I supposed this just proved we weren’t mates, whatever they were supposed to be. I had this small thought suggesting that should we have been standing on a cliff, my foot would have nudged him off the edge ever so slightly.

Ahead in the crowd I could see Bianca approaching and I instinctively ducked hoping she hasn’t already seen me.

“Riley!” I heard her call. Attempt failed. I lifted my head and gave her a small smile but she didn’t look happy. “Since when has Austin been in our class?” She asked as she looked over Austin as if she were looking at a pile of manure.

I looked at her the same way she looked at Austin and that set her off again. It’s funny how it really is boys that break friendships.

I remembered when I told her about Austin for the first time. We’d watched him enter the dining hall and she didn’t seem to hate him them. She’d commented about how good he looked. There was no nose curling or sour-faced looks. What had changed?

I didn’t want to talk to her. I didn’t even want to see her. I may not be on best terms with Austin, but we were on far better terms than Bianca and I.

I felt myself involuntarily moving closer to Austin despite my previous urges to strangle him. “Are you going to say anything?” Bianca asked.

“I don’t have anything to say to you,” I responded.

That was completely true, we’d both already established that we no longer liked each other and if becoming friends with Austin was going to come between us, then she wasn’t worth the effort. Not after everything. I came to the quick conclusion that she was jealous.

“And you think I have something to say to you and your dog?”

Her comment taken only a few seconds to register before I understood what she meant. My eyes bulged in shock and I gaped wondering how to respond. She knew what Austin was and she never said? Austin never said!? “I think it’s best you leave, Bianca,” I told her knowing this was moving into dangerous subject matter. Behind me, Austin had yet to budge.

Bianca narrowed her eyes at the two of us before her face contorted as if she’d just eaten a really sour candy. “Mates?” She asked, as if accusing us of a sin.

“How do you know?” I spurted as fast as I could, entirely disregarding her last question.

“About you being mates or the werewolves? There’s a lot Austin’s kept from you, isn’t there? Come on, speak up, Austin,” Bianca taunted as she realised this was her time to cause a rift. The sharp edge to her voice told me her intentions were certainly not nice.

“Go, Bianca! Stop causing trouble where it’s not needed,” Austin said, full of authority.

She ignored him, completely unaffected. “You should have him to tell you everything you’re getting into before it’s too late. I’m sure you’ll happily leave him then. Mates or not,” Bianca spat. She snorted slightly. “Have you even been told about the werewolf laws?” She asked as if speaking with a child.

The werewolf laws had been mentioned on several occasions, but hadn’t been high enough on my agenda to ask about. Suddenly, they jumped a few place out of curiosity.

“What’s happened to you?” I suddenly asked her in disbelief. I wanted to shout at her to just leave us alone, I didn’t want to know anymore. The more I knew, the more disappointed I’d be with her. I’d let Austin tell me about the werewolf laws. I could trust him more than Bianca, right?

She ignored me like she done Austin and continued speaking, “One of the most recognised werewolf laws; never leave your mate without good reason. Good being subjective. If you’re a regular pack member, the punishment is a fine to the alpha family and you’ll have to go back to your mate. If the alpha family commit the crime, the pack is fair game to the surrounding packs and the alpha family including the mate will be hunted down and sentenced to death. But you’re human. They can’t kill you but they can kill him.” She smiled when she finished as if she’d hit the jackpot.

But he is not my mate, I internally raged.

“We’re not mates, Bianca, don’t look so pleased,” I muttered.

She suspiciously studied the two of us for a few seconds. “I admit, Riley acts completely unfazed by your presence, perhaps a little scared, maybe because she’s human,” Bianca said. Austin looked down at me as if to see this himself. Bianca had always been able to read me well. “But you, Austin, you’re another case! Wow, aren’t you head over sneakers! The way you look at her. I’m almost 80% sure you are. You may not like the pairing of the fates, Austin, but you can’t reject her and come out alive. Only she has that power. The wolf laws don’t apply to her,” she chimed. They went off in their own conversation I couldn’t understand.

“Wolf laws?” I repeated to myself. I looked up at Austin for answers but he was now busy with Bianca. His hand slowly glided across my waist as he pulled me closer protectively.

His fingers began to dig into my side as Bianca failed to give up. “I think I’m done here. Just know, Riley, once you see sense, I’ll be there,” she said. And then Bianca was gone, just like that, walking with a destination in mind down the hall despite us being in the same class.

Pupils around us hadn’t even clicked to the little heated talk we’d had and stared at me like they had all along. This time I wasn’t as bothered as before as my eyes focused on Austin who was trying to dodge my glare.

“We need to talk,” I said, knowing for sure I wouldn’t let it drop this time.

***

The final bell rung exactly on time. I had itched all day to ask Austin about Bianca but he insisted he’d get to it later. I understood that enough at least. School wasn’t the place.

I hopped into his car about ten minutes later only to find him already there in the driver’s seat waiting on me to arrive. Thankfully he’d let me be for most of the day after lunch so we hadn’t seen each other for a few hours. We both sat expecting something of the other, none of us willing to move first.

He looked out the window gazing at the nature as if thinking he could avoid the subject just by ignoring me. No chance, I thought.

I coughed loudly which took him out of wonderland. Austin shifted uncomfortably as he moved his hands towards the wheel. I watched as his body slumped in defeat. “I swear we’ve told you the important bits,” he finally said.

“What are the werewolf laws?” I then asked, getting quickly to the point.

He appeared uneasy as he replied, “Can’t I just tell you when we’re in a more comfortable environment?”

“You’ve told me all day to wait till we’re somewhere private. We’re somewhere private. I’m not waiting any longer. I’m pissed off, I’m tired, I’m missing my family, and I’m tired of being kept out of the loop. You better tell me or I swear I’ll not come back to your house tonight!” I warned as I twisted around to get a better look at him.

I could feel his breath fan over my face. His breath smelt sweet as if he’d eaten something sugary, his eyes seemed to sparkle up close. I could envision my hands in his hair and all it would take is one final inch forward and we’d be connected by the lips in a warm kiss.

“There are 8 main werewolf laws,” he suddenly said interrupting my thoughts, “the most well-known you already know, never reject your mate unless under certain circumstance. These circumstances vary case to case. It’s rare that a wolf is mated to a human but if you are these laws don’t apply to the human so the human can reject the mate and avoid consequence. If you’re a regular pack member, punishment is a fine and you have to go back to the mate unless something has arisen in the period you were separated. If it’s the alpha family involved, punishment is death. The pack members are redistributed or become rogue, and by rogue I mean lone wolves.”

I was about to speak but Austin’s face told me he wasn’t quite finished as he began to say, “My father and I have been trying to convince other packs that we aren’t mates but they keep reminding my father of the werewolf laws and they’re threatening to take action. Packs generally don’t get along too well when it comes to land and power. We’ve given up trying to tell people we’re not mates, because if we’re not mates, it means we’ve broken a different werewolf law. The packs of North America are getting quite jittery over it. They’re just dying to take us down.”

I thought in depth and committed the words the memory. “Who enforces the laws?” I quickly asked.

Austin cleared his throat to continue. “The laws haven’t changed for hundreds of years and remain un-adapted to a modern wolf lifestyle. Packs keep an eye out for mate rejection as that’s the easiest way to claim land and power as it’s up to individual packs to enforce laws as they see fit,” Austin explained as he looked down into his lap. “There, technically, is no one to regulate them.”

How stupid, I found myself thinking. So werewolf laws were nothing more than an agreed code all packs operate by under no one ruling force?

“The second law is on the subject of killing humans – it’s forbidden,” Austin went on without being asked.

“Third – never expose werewolf secrets without valid reason. People think you’re my mate so they think its ok that you know about our kind… But because you’re not, they could argue we broke this.”

“Fourth is if you kill in wolf form in front of a human, you could be sentenced to death depending on how many humans it happened in front of and the consequences of you killing in front of those humans.”

“The fifth is to kill any wolf unjustly, it’s punishable by death – but this is an unspoken rule between all kinds, right? To differentiate between the second laws, we can’t kill humans, period, but we have leeway over the killing of our own kind so long as there’s valid wolf laws to back it up.”

“Sixth – To mislead a werewolf community about any of these laws or pack morals is forbidden and publishable by death. Having a fake mate, for example, or making up your own laws.”

“Seventh – To turn wolves to create a new pack whether to promote werewolf growth or for personal gain is forbidden. This is to keep the werewolf community together in large numbers rather than small distant pockets.”

“Eighth- to randomly – as in no actual purpose – spread the werewolf gene is forbidden and the perpetrator could be punished by death as well as all the newly turned werewolves,” Austin said, seemingly surprised at his own recollection of these laws. He continued on and said, “A lot are disregarded but when a power struggle is brought up, people scrape to accuse other packs with these laws. I know it sounds like some laws on there are repeats of ones right before it, but they’re to help cover and broaden the area they apply to. As expected with political texts.”

I sat in thought and tossed about the laws he had spat out at me. “So technically you could be punished for several of those things,” I said. Because of me, of course.

The first law because he was claiming I was not his mate when others thought I was and that could be considered a form of rejection. The third because I was not genuinely his mate so I have no right to know the wolf secrets, sixth because now he was not denying I was his mate therefore he was lying about me to the werewolf community. He could even be accused of unjustly killing other wolves.

This is all such a mess.

Austin nodded. “We’ve realised,” he replied. I suddenly felt very guilty as Austin’s hands cupped his forehead.

My arm reached out to him hesitantly and wrapped around his shoulder. “I hope you have nine lives,” I joked, but Austin’s mouth didn’t show even a trace of a smile.

“It’s not your fault,” Austin said, “The system itself is a mess and it’s about time someone tried to change things.” Austin sat back up straight and I did too. I couldn’t help but think, why couldn’t the person to change things be you?

Austin turned on the car without a word more and I reminded him briefly that he needed to drive me to the hospital to see my dad. I still hadn’t forgotten about that.

“And don’t think you’ve made me forget about Bianca. We need to talk about that too,” I said, but not today. He’d already spent a good while talking and explaining. We simply had no more time.

***

“Straight down the hall, take a left and the third door on that corridor,” the nice receptionist told me. She put multitasking to the test as she typed frantically at the keyboard and gave me direction at the same time.

“Thanks!” I yelled over my shoulder. I wondered if my mom was around. She probably was. Somewhere in this hospital, alone and worried sick.

I slowed to a walk as I saw the door. I wondered how he was doing. I approached the window instead of the door and peered through the blinds. My dad was still hooked up to several machines, his bandages still soaked in blood. He didn’t look any different to the state I saw him in when I’d left him here the day he was admitted immediately after the attack.

Down the corridor I saw a doctor approach. I motioned to get their attention and the doctor made their way over. “Is something wrong?”  The doctor asked.

“My father, how is he doing?” I said, all the while knowing it was unlikely he’d know specific details about all the patients, or even have the times to personally explain.

He peered through the window like I had done and a look of understanding crossed his face. “Unfortunately your father hasn’t gotten any better. The bite on his shoulder won’t heal and he hasn’t yet woken to full consciousness. It’s a rather peculiar case. We’re running tests as we speak,” The doctor replied.

I shot off the next question and said, “Has anything improved?” I knew just by looking, however, that nothing had changed for better or worse.

The doctor shook his head and I thanked him quickly as he began to walk away.

The smell of disinfectant attacked my nose as I entered his room. I found myself stumbling inside, holding a hand over my mouth as I took in the sight and light beeping of the machines that kept him alive. Was a wolf bite really so deadly?

I approached the bed slowly and I saw the shoulder bandaged just under his gown. There was already blood seeping through. He had multiple other wounds and I couldn’t help but ask myself if I thought he was in any pain.

The blood bag on the IV was nearly finished. He’d need more, I thought. Should I alert a nurse?

The full moon was tomorrow. If he changed in the hospital that wouldn’t be good for any of us. He’d put everyone in danger. People would find out about werewolves. There’d be a wolf hunt and national news stations turning up in Mateo for the headline, ‘abnormal wolf species kills hundreds in hospital attack’.

Was it even possible to turn into a wolf when he was in such a state, I wondered?

I was sure Austin and his father had thought this through, I’m sure they had thought out a plan. I couldn’t rely on them all the time, I chided myself, but I knew now they were the only people who could help my dad.

I leaned by my father’s side and whispered, “Austin and Mr. Dimera will fix this. Just wait. I’m so sorry.” I hoped he could hear me.

I collapsed to my knees, unable to see him, but my hands touched his and I was almost convinced I felt a small squeeze back. It gave me hope.

Hope is exactly what I need at a time like this.

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