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.
The Wolves of Mateo - Episode 216:00 min.
The Wolves of Mateo - Episode 319:00 min.
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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18. Chapter 18

It had been about a week since the last full moon. No one had taken it particularly well in the first few days of my dad turning into one of them – but they accepted it. After much convincing, Austin had persuaded his father that letting my dad stay here for the two full moons/four weeks would be fine. Austin had explained that although my dad was living here with us, his pack wasn’t allowed to defend him if there was an attack.

My dad was still uncomfortable with what had happened. He didn’t like my involvement one bit.

All is well, I thought peacefully, as I watched over the relatively small yard of the Dimera’s packed with people. There were small infants and older kids – cousins of Austin – running around together. Then there was Rose, her sister Amber, relatives from Mr. Dimera’s side, and a few of the older cousins in their 20’s hanging out in the shade by the backdoor behind us. None of whom spoke to me.

“It’s getting colder,” said Megan, a girl I’d met who seemed to be the only one interested in communication. She was Amber’s youngest child, the same age as me, and Austin’s cousin. She was a brown haired beauty who like me just wanted to relax.

I smiled in her direction. We both laid on the two sun beds, slowly dozing off surrounded by happy vibes. 

I perched myself up on my elbows to look around the garden. My dad was with Mr. Dimera at the barbeque. The smell gently made its way over, making me salivate at the thought of food.

Rose and her husband had organised a family day which consisted of inviting everyone even slightly related to them around to their house. Apparently it didn’t happen often so it was a special occasion. It was also rather last minute.

Everyone seemed to know exactly who I was when they arrived and knew all about the situation. They had all been told the lie and they all seemed to believe it.

Amber – Rose’s sister – congratulated Austin right away about finding his mate and had said that I’d be warmly welcomed into the Dimera ‘clan’. Megan told me she was glad to have another female in the mostly male dominated family. I smiled politely back and swallowed the truth.

Megan began to get up, packing away the towel on the plastic sun chair and put away her tanning lotion. “I don’t know about you, but I’m heading inside. Way too cold now.” I followed after her moment later after packing away my own possessions, thinking best not to be left alone.

As if she saw it coming, it began spitting with rain and in seconds it turned into pellets of water that pelted the stone slabs. The barbeque began to hiss.

Rose was laughing with the other ladies as they came bundling into the room. Austin and the cousins his age followed quickly after as they joked and pushed each other around.

As I made my way to the living room with Megan, I heard rowdy kids laughing as they watched my dad and Mr. Dimera try to save the barbeque. I couldn’t help but laugh too as my now happier father cursed as he burnt himself.

“Thank god we didn’t get caught out in the rain, it taken me hours this morning to do my hair,” Megan said. I examined Megan’s hair that had been lightly curled at the ends reaching just below her shoulders. I laughed in agreement and examined my own hair that resembled rat tails more than anything else.

“Ok guys, sorry about that, we didn’t anticipate bad weather. At least we got a bit of the sun, huh?” Rose laughed as she tried to settle everyone inside. “We’ll try to salvage the rest of the barbeque and until then you guys can do what you want. Just stay off the top floor.” That was all that was needed to be said before screaming kids ran about left, right and centre.

Austin and whoever else had already laid claims on the TV remote. Megan and I sat there not knowing what to do.

I turned to her and smiled. “So how long is your family going to be here for?”

“About a week, my dad will be going home later today with one of my older brothers so it’ll only be me, my mom, and my oldest brother. I’m so glad you’re here, Riley, I’d be stuck with the toddlers all day if you weren’t,” she said. I could have said the same to her. Austin had just left me by myself

“Are Mr. Dimera’s relatives going to be staying as well?” I asked her. I couldn’t imagine it; the house wasn’t that big.

She shook her head. “There wouldn’t be enough room and Mr. Dimera’s family are human too. Plus there’s a bit of beef between their family and Rose’s side. Don’t ask. But Mr. Dimera’s brother is staying overnight in a hotel so he can spend the day tomorrow with us,” she finished saying. I guess every family has their flaws. Even the Dimera’s.

I looked around and saw the human kids with the werewolf kids – not that I was able to tell one from the other but Megan had helped with that. They interacted with each other as if they were the same. They were clueless. I wished the adults could act like that. Not caring about things because they quite simply didn’t know. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

***

Dinner around the makeshift table and breakfast bar was fun for a while. Megan’s mom Amber was drinking a little too much wine and was slowly becoming drunk, the kids chatted with each other about their playground gossip, and the older ones seemed to talk about football.

“It’s so lovely for all the family to come together – including our new instalment!” Amber cheered, staring intently in my direction. I felt so guilty it was unbelievable. They thought I was Austin’s mate, they thought I’d join the family and they thought it was completely legit. Of course it wasn’t.

Austin wasn’t paying attention as he chatted with Megan’s oldest brother over things I couldn’t hear. “Are things going well?” Amber asked suddenly.

I blinked once, twice, hoping someone would rescue me. How was I supposed to respond? Oh, yes, Austin and I are going great together, I thought. The table begun to gradually fall silent. Including the kids.

“What do you mean?” I asked in return.

She poured more wine into her glass and laughed. “You and Austin, of course. You haven’t gone near each other since the moment we arrived. That doesn’t seem like normal mate behaviour.”

I was about to reply but Rose made a dive to save me. “They’re just trying to spare you the displeasure; they didn’t think you’d want to see them acting all couple-like. It’s best you got to know Riley first,” she lied easily again. I didn’t think I could have answered it any better. I smiled thankfully at Rose.

“Don’t be silly,” Amber replied, “they shouldn’t be able to keep their hands away from each other!” Amber rose to her feet like all of this was her business.

Megan fidgeted by my side uncomfortably as she watched her mom lose it. “Mom, get down, you’re embarrassing yourself,” Megan tried to say, but her mom was having none of it.

“Don’t be so... childish, Megan,” Amber shouted, but it was Amber who was being childish and she was too drunk to realise it.

“Mom, please.”

“Megan!” her mom roared, “my word is final!”

Megan fell silent by my side and sat abnormally still. So this is the type of woman Amber was. I was tempted to turn to my new friend and try and lift her spirits but I didn’t think my timing was all that great. I had to face Amber first.

Rose gently pulled her sister back into her seat. “Enough wine for you tonight,” Rose said, trying not to sound angry.

 “I’m being serious, Rose. There’s something off here,” Amber spat. All I could think was that amber could see through us. I hadn’t even realised that we hadn’t spoken a word to each other since the other family members had arrived, I hadn’t realised how suspicious that may seem. Austin should have realised that!

My dad obviously didn’t like sitting by and watching because he soon after joined in as I sunk into my seat. “Excuse me, Amber, but my daughter doesn’t have to act so distastefully in order to prove she’s mates with Austin.” My father hadn’t been told the truth either about our not-so-mate relationship and knew only the lie. He wasn’t pleased with the whole mate thing, anyway, nor was he able to wrap his head around it really. It hadn’t began to click with him yet.

“It does matter. I’m going to let you off because you’re new but Austin and Riley being together could cause a full blown pack war!” Amber raged. “They see Riley – a human – as a weakness in our pack, now Austin has something to live for. They can take Riley and then Austin would become weak, leaving our pack vulnerable. This is especially dangerous to us because of our current conflict with Bancroft. It applies to all pack alpha females. Austin is the next alpha; he’s the next generation of this pack. If he goes weak, we all die.”

Well isn’t that dramatic.

“That’ll never happen. I wouldn’t allow that to happen,” Austin spoke up. I wasn’t sure if he was referring to him going weak or Bancroft kidnapping me, but either way I sat and observed.

Amber got up and swayed around before losing balance. “Look at you, acting like a drunk. Sit down and pour out the wine, woman!” My dad yelled. He hadn’t changed a bit.

Amber’s husband was up in a flash and Megan gasped beside me. The husband grabbed my father by the collar, hauling him out his seat. My dad’s eyes widened and I got up too ready to dive into the fight. I took a peek at Megan and we both muttered our apologies. The full moon had been a mere two days ago. Emotions were high. “You don’t speak to my wife like that, not in front of me or anyone,” Amber’s husband whispered dangerously.

“At least keep her on a leash then, will you?” My dad bit back causing the grip around his throat to tighten. He gasped for breath, but he didn’t give up.

“No! Stop it!” I shouted, but my words went unnoticed.

This family itself may not have been normal but was it possible to have a normal family gathering without the fighting? I felt tears spring to my eyes and Megan reached out to take a hold of my hand. The adults became rowdy. Some of the kids were crying. It all felt like my fault.

Austin got to his feet and pried his uncle from my dad. “You’d do best if you leave my mates dad alone and get out my house.” Austin stayed calm and in control but I could see the anger in his features, working its way around his cool façade.

“Now you choose to act like you mean something to each other! Typical! If it wasn’t for the fact that my own sister is backing your mating claims, I would have thought this was all a sham,” Amber exclaimed. If only they knew...

Austin shook his head. “Leave, you’re done here.”

Austin’s uncle left promptly putting us all in this silence that we didn’t want to suffer through. “I think we should skip dessert,” Rose mumbled as she rushes to her feet and tried to stack up all the dishes, her husband Mr. Dimera tried to help.

Megan got up. She didn’t look well - her face was pale and she nearly tripped as she stood. “Come on mom, let’s get you to bed,” she muttered towards her mother, standing there looking confused and dizzy.

Amber didn’t put up a fight as she was towed from the room.

The rest of the relatives quickly packed away and were off home like we had the plague. Were they catching on? Figuring out our lie so soon?

Austin was busy saying his goodbyes to people at the front door when a wave of nausea overcame me. I stood breathing the cold air until the urge to puke went away, but I knew it’d come back. So long as I was here. It was the anxiety, the stress.

The ground was still wet from the sudden downpour and so was the garden furniture. I sat down outside regardless and closed my eyes, letting the stress escape through my breathing.

Behind me the door opened letting light spill onto the patio floor beside me. The yard illuminated for a fraction of a second.

“Riley? I’m sorry about my mom,” called the voice of Megan. She sounded fairly upset.

I sighed and said, “I’m sorry about my dad and Austin.”

She laughed lightly. “They were only protecting what’s theirs.” She was correct about my father. But I wasn’t Austin’s. I suppose that made the situation worse.

She took a seat beside me. We watched the garden. There were outdoor toys scattered about that some of the relatives must have forgotten to take home. The barbeque was still outside, long ago died out.

“I hate being the odd one out,” I suddenly said.

Megan replied quietly, “You mean how you’re human and everyone else is werewolf?” 

I nodded my head. Not that I wanted to be a werewolf. I’d much rather it if they were humans.

“That’ll soon change,” Megan mumbled.

I gave her a curious look. She expanded on her comment. “Mates get marked to fully show all other werewolves that they’re taken. The male bites the female which leaves a mark on the shoulder – the mark is different for every pack. It also turns human females into werewolves.”

Thank god we’re not mates then because that sounds terrifying. Won’t people get suspicious when this ‘marking’ doesn’t happen?

I didn’t speak for a few moments so she tried to fill the silence with information that I quite simply did not want to hear.  “If it’s the other way around – the female finds a human male mate – the alpha has to change the wolf and then the male newly turned wolf will bite the female,” she explained.

“That’s a little sexist,” I commented as the wind whisked my hair up and around my face.

I felt Megan shrug by my side. “Just the way it works.”

“Maybe it’s time for change,” I grumbled. It was never too late for change, and it seemed it’d been a while since any of that had happened around here.

Outside was calm; I could hear cars disappear into the night, and I could hear people chatting around the other side of the house in between the sound of the wind swaying the tall evergreen trees. Megan’s parents had left, but I didn’t know if they were coming back like they had planned. Not after what had happened. I felt terrible.

They knew something was wrong.

“Megan, you don’t hate that I’m with Austin, do you?”

Megan looked at me like I was stupid. Her blue eyes were barely visible in the light. “No, of course not.”

I gave a small unconvincing smile. “Good.”

I was causing a lot of trouble with the Dimera’s and they were beginning to see that. They weren’t stupid. It was only normal for the family to be defensive against threats. I bet Mr. Dimera hates me; I bet Rose is slowly hating me too. Austin...

“I’m sorry that I’m disturbing the peace-,” I tried to tell her.

She interrupted, “Riley, don’t be so down! This pack war has been long coming, all you’re doing is speeding it along – if anything, you’re doing well here,” she explained. “You’ve been told about the Bancroft and Dimera history, right?”

That Austin’s granddad and many other people were turned by Bancroft pack members to increase Bancroft’s strength? Yeah, I remembered that. That Austin’s granddad was bitten by an alpha so he had the ability to start a pack and rebel against then? That Bancroft held a grudge against the Dimera’s because they claimed the land and people in the pack rightfully belonged to them? I remembered that too.

The Dimera’s and their people didn’t belong to Bancroft though; the alpha foolishly turned a human giving them alpha powers. The Dimera’s were their own people. It was their own fault.

But then a question arose. “You said male humans have to be turned by the alpha to join the pack?” I questioned, “Wouldn’t the males have alpha powers, then?”

Megan shook her head like before. “This is complicated to explain...” Megan muttered, appearing to regret even attempting to explain and I laughed.

I agreed silently and wondered why it all had to be so complicated.

“Technically, any male pack member can turn a human, but it’s traditional for the alpha to turn male humans for a female. You’ve been told about the 2 full moon process to join a pack, right?” Megan asked. The thing my dad was going through, of course I knew.

“Mates don’t have to do that. When an alpha turns a male for the purpose of letting them into the pack because of mates, the alpha power doesn’t transfer unless they’re being mated to someone with alpha blood, aka – the alpha’s daughter. It just naturally happens that way. That’s why an alpha shouldn’t bite just any old wolf. I have no idea what was going through Bancroft alpha’s mind when he turned our grandfather, though. Maybe it was spur of the moment.” I thanked her quietly for taking me through all this.

“It’s against pack laws to turn humans at random, I suppose Bancroft thought it was alright to turn these humans because it was for pack members – that didn’t work out, though. Only higher ranks are supposed to turn new wolves, like betas and deltas. Not alphas.”

My hands rose towards my forehead. I rubbed my temples. Megan tried to continue but I told her to stop and that I didn’t want to talk about werewolves right now. She seemed to understand and began to try and cheer me up.

She was talking about something that happened back at her high school between a friend of hers and a boy. It was funny, I found myself laughing for the first time in a while about something I could relate to, but I was still distracted.

With the house and the people inside just behind me, I still felt surrounded. I got to my feet and didn’t look back. I felt like I was suffocating in my own little bubble, a safe haven that was continuously being invaded. This wasn’t right.

I needed space, but no one seemed to respect that. No one seemed to understand that I just wanted to be by myself.

“Riley, where are you going?” Megan shouted after me.

“I just feel so crowded. I’ll be back soon.”

I heard the door open behind me and Megan paused. I peered back over my shoulder and saw Austin tell her that he had people patrolling the border so they would keep an eye out for me. They were soon out of sight. I was thankful for Austin letting me go.

He didn’t seem worried about it, so why shouldn’t I?

I forgot almost completely about the danger, I forgot completely about all the reasons before that I stayed clear of the forest as I delved deeper into the green and brown surroundings trying to forget.

I kept running, kept tripping. It was taking my mind off things; all I could think about now was the roots that hurt my feet under my flimsy shoes and then whenever I tripped, the dirt that smothered my knees.

I was losing track of time, where am I? I looked around and remembered briefly when I hadn’t been thinking straight that I passed Wolf Lake a while ago. I could either be nearing the street where the teacher lived – the same one Hilary and I had attempted to TP, or I could be headed in a completely different direction deeper into the forest and out of Mateo.

Austin had people running the border, which meant there was a point where the territory ended. What happened if I had already passed it? I’d be free, I thought, as I ran faster and faster until I couldn’t feel my legs.

Would I be on someone else’s territory? I slapped the idea, no, I was not on someone else territory. There aren’t that many wolves.

“Just keep telling yourself that,” I mumbled to myself. Just like that night with Hilary, a cold sweat broke onto my forehead.

I kept calm and slowed into a peaceful walk. Finally, after what felt like hours, I turned directions and began on my way back to Dimera’s. Not that I wanted to, it’s just I felt like I had to. 

But thoughts began to bundle up in a big knot in my head that demanded they be read. I couldn’t bring myself to, but they kept spilling over and making me worry. Austin’s family could be killed if the truth came out. If they found out they were lying about my relationship with Austin, they could die, if they found out they told me about werewolves without good reason, they could also die.

It would all be put on me; it’d all be my fault.

I shook my head, no it wasn’t my fault. They didn’t have to take me under their wing; they didn’t have to look after me.

It was their own fault, I hit back at my thoughts, the other half strongly disagreeing.

A howl sliced the silence only disturbed by my heavy breathing. I suddenly stopped in my track and didn’t dare walk any further. Way that a Dimera howl? I had no way to tell.

I began to shiver as the cold made its presence known. I couldn’t stay out here all night. I peered around me and gasped at how dark it had become, no I definitely couldn’t stay out here all night.

I heard a growl this time, and I knew it isn’t from further away. This growl was close by.

It was a Dimera! They’d come looking for me. Who else would it be? I was the worst at navigating. At least I wasn’t lost.

I followed the noise and found the glowing eyes and rough outline of a large wolf staring at me through a shrub. I took a cautious step forward and said selfishly, “Thanks goodness someone is out looking for me.”

The wolf let out a sharp growl that sent me stumbling back in fright. I still wasn’t that used to the wolves yet.

“You alright there?” I asked, but of course the wolf wouldn’t reply. Maybe I’d become too comfortable.

It stepped further out the shadows so I could see it in full. That was when I saw, that was when my stomach fell to my feet and I let out a terrified scream. That wasn’t a Dimera wolf.

My expectation of the usual chocolate brown fur was sadly false as the shiny black coated wolf stepped out instead. All I could think is Bancroft, all I could see were those sharp canine teeth overlapping the bottom lip, all I could hear are the words ‘run’ telling me to get out of there as fast as I could. My legs began to carry me as fast as they could, but obviously not fast enough.

I bolted for freedom but the wolf behind me had other ideas. How stupid was I to assume it was a Dimera? I should have run! I prayed like I hadn’t ever before that one of these patrol wolves Austin had spoken about would appear suddenly and rescue me but now that seemed unlikely.

I heard the large paws pound the dirt and roots and in seconds it had caught up to me. It didn’t pounce but I was waiting for the blow as it ran beside me like it was a leisurely stroll, teasing his prey before it struck.

Then I stumbled over a root and came tumbling to the ground. It seemed like I was forever falling in these situations, setting me up to be killed by a beast just because fate found it funny.

The wolf came to halt; its hot breath caused steam to roll from its nose with each and every breath. Its eyes seemed to narrow as it approached. It didn’t make a sound as its face neared mines with those smart animalistic eyes that glowed with sick delight. What was this?                                

This can’t be the way I die.

My head felt light, but I refuse to succumb to darkness now. The wolf came closer so I struggled to move away which caused the animal to snarl in dislike.

Its mouth opened revealing dirty long sharp teeth, its breath was horrid. The feeling of that exact mouth clamping its jaws around my shoulder was enough to make me scream out in pain before I could stop it or kick it away.

I couldn’t let a werewolf bite me; I didn’t want to become one of them!

I struggled causing the werewolf to snarl, sinking its teeth deeper. I felt the canines grow longer while attached to my shoulder and I screamed as loud as I possibly could. No one heard me. I wouldn’t let this happen, I couldn’t let this happen.

I saw my blood drip down into the mud, mixing with the tiny speckles causing something of a mud and blood soup. The mess made my vision fade in and out because of fear. There was a sharp pain in my shoulder and in my head but it began to fade. The pain wasn’t there now. I felt numb, almost.

The wolf finally let go off me. I fell back in a slump. The wolf stalked away again but I could still feel it watching me, I still knew it was there.

As darkness surrounded me, I didn’t think of anything but my shoulder, because for once in the past few weeks, I had something more important to worry about rather than troublesome werewolves – my life was slowly dripping out of me in the form of blood, and I had no way to stop it.

At least it hadn’t torn my throat out.

 

 

 

 

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