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.
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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20. Chapter 20

“No,” I said.

Austin was getting frustrated as he paced about the room. His father watched emotionlessly. “What do you mean ‘no’, Riley? We can’t just wait for them to come at us!” Austin yelled.

I shook my head defiantly. “You either keep them far off your land or I’m out of here,” I told them. I wasn’t hanging around in the Dimera house waiting for Bancroft to attack, putting not only myself but everyone around me in danger.

He stepped forward and laid his hands on my shoulders with a strong hold. Standing over me, he said, “You’re going nowhere.”

“Are you quite sure of that? I won’t think twice about packing my bags and I’ll make sure you’ll never find me,” I teased.

He raised his eyebrows challengingly. “And go straight to Dante? I don’t think so.”

His name sent shivers down my spine, but I wasn’t sure if that was caused by only the fear. I had this temptation to see him again. I wanted to listen to him, ask what he was all about. I hadn’t told Austin that.

Austin gently touched my injury through my shirt. It was little more than an inflamed spot on my skin barely visible. Moments like this made me wish the mark shown a ‘D’ for Dimera rather than the ‘B’ for Bancroft.

Austin’s father coughed behind us, making sure we were interrupted. Austin stepped off in an instant and looked innocently at his father. The man didn’t look impressed. “I’d rather you didn’t do that while I’m in the room – I’d rather you didn’t do it at all. You know just how possessive mates can get, Austin.”

He defiantly moved towards me, retracting his step away and looked down at me. “I’m not letting Dante near her.”

Austin’s father walked towards us and looked at us both with a hint of disappointment in his eyes. “I do hope whatever is going on between you now is only a recent development. Something you can both easily sever,” Austin’s father said. A recent development, I could agree. One easily severed? I wasn’t so sure.

“It’s recent,” Austin replied. He really did step away this time. I suddenly felt cold but a wave of involuntary relief fell over me. I selfishly, as a human, liked Austin and… maybe not so strangely, my inner wolf and her thoughts liked Dante.

 “Riley, we’re going to have to talk with them eventually. Our border patrols have spotted several Bancroft’s over recent days. You have to face it or you really might actually be killed,” Mr. Dimera lectured me like I hadn’t been thinking about the very same things for the past several days. I had thought about it until my head started to ache and I had written out every possibly route. None of which ended well unless I handed myself over. I knew that. We knew that.

“Killed,” I repeated. I tossed the word over in my head hoping it would sink in and I’d get down to business.

Austin’s father sighed, “Those above us have obviously chosen you to be a part of our world one way or another, whether as Austin’s mate or someone else’s. You just have to accept what has been given to you.” My eyes focused onto the grain of the hardwood desk as a distraction. I didn’t want to know. I felt both Austin and his father’s gaze drill holes into me.

A phone in the office began to ring. I broke my trance and directed my attention at the guilty object. Austin rushed off to the other side of the room and reached behind an ornament on the sideboard, revealing an old cordless house phone in his hands.

“It’s Touren,” Austin said, reading from the small digital screen.

“Of course,” Mr. Dimera muttered to himself before sighing heavily and snatching the phone from Austin. He clicked the answer button and Kris’ unmistakeable voice began to play

“How long has it been since I last saw you, Dimera? I receive alerts from my spies in your area that there’s now a blown out of proportion war between you and Bancroft,” Kris immediately said without a hello. There’s was slight break in the signal. I glanced at Austin tiredly before Kris continued and said, “You know what I find funniest, Dimera? It’s over a woman. Never did I think you’d let your pack stoop so low to go to war over a female, but this has changed it all.” Was this been his purpose? Tease us on our misfortunes?

The silence was too much. No one on either end spoke for several seconds.  

“I’m afraid it’s more complicated,” Mr. Dimera informed sounding as professional and composed as possible.

There was also no reply as if Kris didn’t expect Mr. Dimera to sound so grave. “Complicated how?” Kris asked.

“I never thought I’d be inviting someone like you onto my land, Kris, but I think this is something we should speak about in person. When can you make it here?”

Kris let out a hearty laugh. “You’ve not changed a bit with age, Frank. I can be within the hour.”

The line cut dead leaving us in a heavy silence. Neither of us moved for several seconds.

Inappropriately, the only thing I could think about at that moment in time though was Mr. Dimera’s name. It was the first time I’d heard it. Frank. It really didn’t suit him.

***

“You go upstairs and freshen up before the guests arrive. You look terrible!” Rose teased, making sure I knew how much I didn’t suit sweatpants and baggy t-shirts.

I looked down at myself and pouted. “Gee... Thanks,” I replied. I didn’t think I looked bad. Sure, it wasn’t nice to the eye, but I had no one to impress.  I didn’t think much about the comment and smiled back at Rose.

I got ready in record time, including a shower which left little time to do my hair. I tied in back in a damp ponytail and shrugged at myself in the mirror.

I hadn’t seen my mother since she visited the Dimera’s and told me about dad. It was a sad situation, and I’d had my time to think it through and come to terms with the fact my parents were unlikely to be together again. If they ever did meet, I didn’t think it’d be a happy reunion. I didn’t want my mom involved in this.

I sighed loudly and made my way out the bathroom. Curiously, I peered over the banister and listened at the ongoing conversation downstairs.

“Welcome, Kris. Would you like some coffee?” Rose asked the visitor.

“No, but I’m sure my beta will.” There was a rough grunt from who I presumed was his beta. I decided there and then it’d be best to make my presence known and slowly I descended the stairs. Kris caught on the second I appeared within sight and watched me the whole way down.

I swallowed down my nerves and stuck my chin out at the two towering men in front of me. Rose had already left to get that coffee. I had to force myself to speak. “Nice to meet you again,” I said stiffly.

He stared pointedly at me and slowly reached forward to take my hand. He grasped it tightly and ever so slightly shook it with his calloused hands before letting it go. Moments later, Austin appeared with his father, and his mom entered quickly behind them holding a single cup of coffee.

“Here you go,” Rose chirped, passing it to the Touren beta. He nodded his thanks and held it tightly in his hands.

We all made our way to a chair each. Kris and his beta sat across from us, while the Dimera’s and I sat opposite. Austin sat beside me and discreetly slipped his hand into mines.

“Let's just get this over with. What’s the elephant in the room?” Kris leaned forward with both elbows on either knee, staring us down. “By the looks of things, something’s different with Austin and Riley?”

“Just say it,” Austin urged, not playing any games.

Kris hitched his eyebrows as if to dare Austin to talk to him like that again. Kris continued at his own pace and said, “Last time I saw you, you’d told me outright that you two were nothing more than friends – not even that. Now -.” He squinted his face directly at out joined hands that Austin tightening his grip on. “-now you guys seemed to have changed tune. Mates? Like I guessed,” Kris accused.

“That doesn’t explain why Bancroft wants to rip their heads off,” Jordan, the beta, snorted, watching the situation unfold at our misfortune.

Kris choked a laugh. They both joked about a very serious situation, laughing at our misfortune. “So tell me, Alpha Dimera, why exactly is there a shit-storm brewing above our heads?”

Mr. Dimera didn’t hold back and said, “Dante Bancroft and Riley are true mates.”

Jordan began to choke on his drink that he happened to have been sipping. That silenced them both. Kris, while seeming a little distracted, began to slap his beta’s back. Jordan regained control of his breathing and muttered an apology.

“Well. I didn’t see that coming,” Kris laughed, although this time it didn’t seem as cheerful. “If I’m here because you want our help, count us out. We’re only a pack of 50, we can’t do anything for you,” Kris warned us. He looked spooked.

Austin piped in, “if you’re worried, Touren, imagine how we feel.” Austin paused to gauge their reactions. “We weren’t going to ask that of you, anyway. You need to know the truth. We can’t have you coming onto our land when we’re expecting an army of Bancroft wolves any day now, right?”

There was something in his eye as he sat up straight like he suddenly remembered something. “That reminds me, Dimera,” he began to say, “What have you been doing with those patrol wolves of yours? If you have them out running right now, sack them. Useless guys.”

Mr. Dimera sighed hopelessly and asked, “what about them?”

“How in the world did they not spot a werewolf male walking around on two legs and a female human wandering just on the edge of your territory – I could smell he was a rogue,” Kris snorted a laugh and cheered up a little. “In fact, it’s the same pair that have been going into our territory. We couldn’t kill him because of the girl; otherwise we’d have either you on Bancroft up in our business accusing us of a crime. That reminds me, someone really needs to change the laws…”

“A male werewolf in human form with a human girl? We haven’t sensed a thing,” Mr. Dimera asked.

I already knew who it was. “Gary and his daughter Bianca,” I said out loud. My eyes dropped to my lap at the realization and wondered how she was getting on.

“Who?” Jordan blurted with a confused expression.

“That wolf we exiled years ago for giving information to Bancroft,” one of the Dimera’s explains.

A look of understanding donned on their faces.

Rose erupted from her seat and hastily trotted towards the window and peered out. I didn’t see any light, suggesting it was late. Rose looked down at her watch and tightened her lips. “It’s eleven PM; would you lovely gentlemen like to stay the night?” She suddenly asked.

Mr. Dimera tried to protest, shaking his head. “No, I’m sure they’re busy,” he began to say.

“-We’d love to,” Kris replied over Mr. Dimera and smiled over at him before following behind Rose up the stairs. Jordan got up, wiped down his blue jeans and followed after like an obedient dog.

When out of earshot, Austin commented, “Sad excuse for a pack – the both of them make terrible leaders.”

His father didn’t seem to share the thought, as in seconds he made it known and furiously said, “Think twice before speaking about our guests. We don’t have many allies right now.” I found it slightly hypocritical of him. Mr. Dimera didn’t like the Touren’s anymore than Austin except Austin was more vocal about it.

“What use is 50 more men in a battle against Bancroft, dad?” Austin asked. I could feel the tension rising.

The two men got to their feet and stood dangerously close. “Everything. Remember that this war has only spiked because of you and you only. Don’t go ruining what I’m trying to fix. I shouldn’t have to be fixing the mess you’ve created,” his father said.

Austin curled his lip in challenge. He whispered dangerously, “And what mistakes were they?”

Mr. Dimera stood back and took a good pointed look at me. Was he admitting to us what he truly thought all along? I joined Austin and eyed him carefully while saying, “Mr. Dimera, Austin has only done what he’s thought best.”

Mr. Dimera didn’t seem to like that, replying as if he thought I knew nothing by saying, “He’s a learning alpha, Riley, even so he shouldn’t make mistakes like this – he’s been taught better.”

“And that mistake is me?” I asked.

Mr. Dimera closed his eyes and breathed deeply. Maybe he was fighting the desire to argue, maybe he was supressing his wolf from coming out and taking control. I didn’t know, but before I could ask he’d turned on his heel and made his way to his small office. He slammed the door behind him.

I turned to Austin, who stood staring at the door his father had disappeared behind. “Austin, are you ok?”

He broke out his trance and ran a hand roughly through his hair. Quietly, he said, “I need to get out this house.”

***

Austin was far ahead of me. I kept tripping to keep up. “Go back, Riley,” He yelled back at me. Austin only had to walk to be miles ahead.

“I’m not going anywhere!” I shouted back, out of breath and already tired.

We were probably far into the forest, but maybe not as much as I thought. Austin was still shaking with anger. He kept it bottled inside because he knew I was close and I was too stubborn to leave him so he could let it all out. I was only hurting him, I realised.

Suddenly we arrived at Wolf Lake. The trees came to a stop and the clearing opened up before us. Austin stopped just a few paces into the clearing. I was close behind.

The moonlight sparkled beautifully on the water reminding me of this other side to nature – a side I let myself forget far too easily in favour of the one portraying the creatures of the forests as dangerous beasts inhabiting dangerous lands.

I approached while slowing my pace to catch my breath, confident Austin had stopped for good.

“You’re so damn stubborn,” he muttered, peering up at the sky as I lined myself with his body.

I shrugged and leaned into his side. “I just wanted to make sure you were safe,” I said. Austin had done too much for me, so much that I needed to repay him somehow. Following him like a lost puppy didn’t make up for even a fraction of what I owed but I at least knew he was okay.

He rolled his eyes. “I’ve been around these parts for as long as I can remember, I’m sure I can look after myself.”

I laughed at his reply and said, “Before I met you I was sure I would be able to hold myself together in whatever situation. Look where that’s got me, look at me now relying on everyone. Sometimes we need some help, Austin.”

He didn’t seem to listen, kicking himself up from leaning against a tree and barged into the clearing letting the moonlight illuminate his features. He kicked at the ground pulling up a tuff of grass and dirt, taking his anger out on the surroundings.

I followed after him at a good distance.

“Austin, don’t be stupid. Stop destroying the grass,” I demanded as he idiotically kicked the ground and ripped up another piece.

He began to hopelessly yell, “You don’t know how tough it is, Riley. My father expects everything I do to be perfect! You know, I thought I was doing well when I rescued you the first time from the wolves. I thought I was doing even better when I found you with a gash on your leg on your way home. It seems not.” He had both hands to his head, one through his hair, one moving down his face. The moonlight beamed down on him like a spotlight, singling him out.

“You were doing good, Austin, but sometimes doing good has consequence.” These sounded like words I’d spit at and refuse to believe. I didn’t expect Austin to take much from them, but I said it anyway. I approached his still figure from behind.

He growled to himself and then said, “I just have all this pent up anger from the past few weeks and it really isn’t doing any good. It was so painful waiting for you to wake up after the attack. I can’t deal with this, Riley. At this point I actually want Bancroft to attack and take the pack, at least I won’t be forced to inherit alpha.”

I shook my head in protest although he couldn’t see and clamped my hands on his shoulders. “Don’t think like that, Austin, Snap out of it!” I yelled at him. “This is all just because you need to relax, you’re stressed. Just relax for a few days...”

“We don’t have a few days; Bancroft could attack at any moment,” Austin said.

“They could, but they won’t,” I replied.

Austin curiously looked at me. “And you’re so sure, why?”

A small knowing smile appeared on my face as I said, “If Dante knows what’s good for him, he’ll steer clear for a while. If he thinks he can barge in here, fight you all and just take me away, he can think again.”

He airily laughed. “That’s exactly what I love about you. No matter how insane it can drive me, you don’t take no for an answer.” 

He took a step closer and let his arms circle my waste in a gentle hug. “Just let me hold you,” he whispered. Although my view was blocked by Austin, I couldn’t imagine a better place to be with Austin to calm down. The lake was in front of us and the trees surrounding. No other person in sight.

“I won’t regret meeting you, Riley,” he muttered into the side of my head.

I flared my nostrils and puckered my lips in doubt. “You don’t now what’ll happen in the future. There’ll come a day you will,” I replied.

I felt his head shake against me. “I want to think about now,” He said as he crouched lower until I could feel his breath fan across my face and his eyes.

I saw only his bright lips and brilliant green eyes. It looked like he was going to kiss me but he didn’t try and instead looked content just being close. It was rare chance to talk with him without being disturbed, without a conflict. It was peaceful, and I could only imagine the relationship we could have had in a normal situation while living a normal life.

For a moment I could just forget. I wished there was more moments like these.

 

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