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 *

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26. Chapter 26

This is what I didn’t want to happen. My mother was on the verge of a mental breakdown. Hell, she was already there!

I could hear her sobbing from downstairs probably still clutching that old stupid mug. I felt so damn horrible, how could I go on knowing my father was still alive while the rest of our family and friends were in mourning? I’m selfish and cruel, I thought. I know that.

I threw myself down on the bed and I slapped my forehead with my hand. I realised how hot and flustered I was getting – all the stress and guilt brewing inside me and now it was ready to eat me alive.

Just to see my mother happy again, get her on my good side, I would consider breaking werewolf laws. I’d show her dad and what we’d both become. Explain the situation. Tell her about Werewolves. But I couldn’t. Maybe if I were only a part of Dimera pack, but now I was a Bancroft wolf. They were going through their own crisis right now – they didn’t have to deal with this.

If I broke a law, some packs would jump at the chance to challenge George – Dante’s father. Mr. Dimera in particular. The rift was already enough. I wouldn’t risk that, not right now.

Something knocked on my window alerting me that someone was there. My curtains were drawn and my room was on the second story. Who else would be able to knock my window on the second floor other than the obvious?

My lips formed an unimpressed straight line as I padded over to the window. I tore the curtains a part and my eyes landed on his dark figure hanging from the window ledge. For a quick second, I fiddled with the key in the window and pulled it open.

Before he could talk, I got in there first. “Dante! Get off or you’ll break it!” I whispered. My mom had bat ears and if she found a boy in my room, it’d just be another thing to add to the list of things I’d done wrong.

Dante held on with one hand and his bare feet gripped the wooden surface of the wall. He wasn’t a wolf, he was a monkey. “How in the world did you even get up here?” I asked.

Dante looked down nonchalantly and hanged from the ledge like it was nothing at all. It would have been comical on any other occasion. “Pft, easy. Now are you going to move and let me in?”

Instead of moving in the direction he wanted, I instead closed any gaps he could’ve wormed himself through. If he thought he could go around and do what he wanted, he could think again.

Well, after what he done today he certainly wasn’t getting to do what he wanted. He actually laughed as I got taken away by the sheriff.

I knew Dante lived in isolation and all, away from normal people and normal day to day things, but did he not realise that being arrested was a big deal? He found it funny.

“No seriously, Riley, move. I’m slipping.” The smirk on his face was slowly evaporating as his fingers turned white from the grip and his arms began to shake.

I narrowed my eyes as I said, “Your ego might burst a little with the fall.” I stepped back and pulled the curtains. Walking back into my room, I heard the soft crunch of the frosty grass as he landed. The lovely sound of winter, not that winter ever came to much in Wyoming.

Later on that night, noise outside was picking up. Wrapped in my duvet, the cold from the still open window swept through my room and wrinkled my blankets. The curtains flew around wildly and for a moment I considered getting out of the warm haven of a bed to close the window, but that required energy and right now it felt like I had none.

Howls ripped through the night outside. What would have scared me to death a few months ago was now something I was used to. After all, I was now one of them.

I wondered if mom heard them. She wouldn’t ever consider the absurd possibility it was her husband she was listening to.

As I was about to dose off into sleep once again, something suddenly touched my shoulder. I jolted awake and prepared to scream, but a hand clamped hard over my mouth.

The bedside lamp switched on and then suddenly Dante’s face came into my view. He grinned an award winning smile and zeroed in on my lips for a kiss. 

One hand pressed the back of my head so I couldn’t pull away, but this time I didn’t want to kiss him. Half asleep and still not forgiven him for earlier that day, I decided the only way to shove him off was to literally kick him.

My leg pulled back in anticipation before I let it go, flying into his stomach.

He was wearing his usual attire – that, similar to Austin, consisted of no shoes, a torn up shirt, and some shorts. He’d been out as a wolf.

“Aren’t you cold?” I snapped.

He kneeled on my bed and hissed in pain. “If I was before, I sure ain’t now,” he spluttered with a bright red face that expressed his discomfort.

I couldn’t help a little smile of accomplishment from gracing my face. Maybe he’d know his place. And know not to kiss me when I least expected it.

As Dante finally relaxed and quit complaining, I noticed two long parallel scratches on his shoulder – just visible before they disappeared under his shirt. Wolf scratches. “What happened?” I asked, looking pointedly at the cut.

He looked down. “Just some late night fun with some guys from the pack,” Dante explained.

While most teenagers my age would be out drinking with their friends or hooking up, Bancroft teenagers were out ‘playing’ in the forest. Somehow I didn’t believe him though.

“Yeah, whatever,” I said. The longer I looked at the cut, though, the more I began to think of Austin. I took in a breath of air and my nose was met with a faint trace of his smell. “Why were you with Austin?” I asked.

Dante raised his eyebrows in surprise before saying, “So you’re picking up scents now, huh?” he teased before sniffing himself. “That’s weird though, I can’t smell a thing.”

“Answer the question, Dante,” I said, really not in the mood to play games when all I felt like doing was sleeping.

He sighed to himself, knowing he wouldn’t escape this time. “I couldn’t just let them off after what they done to you,” he said. Dante ran a hand over my sore cheek, bruised slightly by the slap the Dimera had given me.

“He slapped me, so what? You went after them with your friends and caused a fight? You can’t just do that when you have more important things to deal with,” I scolded him.

Dante’s face dropped as if he thought I’d be happy. “I can do what I want,” he said.

“Tell that to your father,” I muttered. I knew his father wouldn’t take this attitude.

Dante stood and walked around my room barefooted making his feet fall louder than usual. “This is what we do, Riley. We fight for what is ours. It’s tradition!” He defended himself. I could feel another argument between us.

Angrily, I replied, “So it’s tradition to go out hunting other wolves so you can have ‘a little chat’ and beat the crap out of them?”

Dante smirked. “I don’t know about having a little chat, but beating the crap almost always takes place.”

He was Dante. This is what he did. He made a joke out of things I normally took really serious, but it’s not like I could change him. “You’re a pig,” I whisper furiously as I threw a pillow in his direction.

It missed his face entirely and he caught it with one hand. “Hey, I’m a wolf. And thanks for letting me hang there on your ledge; unfortunately my ego is still as intact as it was before,” he replied.

I sighed for the fiftieth time as I laid back and pulled the blankets over my head. “What a shame,” I mumbled.

I didn’t hear anyone leave, but for a second I hoped he’d come to his wolf senses and let me be.

“You can’t stay pissed at me forever,” he said suddenly. Nope, he was still here.

I tossed around to face him and sleepily peered at him across the room. “I can and I will.”

He leaned on the inner windowsill and stared. I refused to sleep if he was watching.

“Why are you still here?” I groaned.

Shaking his head, he looked at me as if it should have been obvious. “I’m not leaving until you forgive me,” he said.

I looked at him seriously and tried my best to act unamused. “Do you even know what you want to be forgiven for?”

He shrugged. “Sure I do, I laughed as you were taken away by that cop. Do girls always get worked up with this sort of stuff?” He was so innocent and unaware, I thought. If he’d went to public school he’d know all about it.

“Being arrested is a pretty big deal. It’s on my record now! Do you know how many places won’t let you in if you have anything on your record?” I raged, trying my best to keep my voice down.

He strolled towards me as he said, “Babe, you’re my mate. I’m the future alpha. You already have a job.”

That’s not a job, though, and most of all its unfair, I thought. I was expected to be with Dante for the rest of my life? What if something happened, what if something changed between us? I wanted backup and security, not a criminal record.

Dante looked at me, as if what he’d just said was considered completely normal. To a girl he just met, mate or not, he seriously thought we’d forever be together and he didn’t have anything bad to say about it. I had to remind myself, though, that of course this was normal to him.

“I can’t just sit back for the rest of my life with you, Dante. I want to go to university, you know, I want to do something with my life,” I said. Dante, no doubt, wouldn’t understand that though.

“You wouldn’t be sitting around. What did you think being an alpha involves?” he said with clear annoyance painted on his features.

Being an alpha was all fun and games until a rival pack came along. No joke. From what I’d seen, alphas did nearly nothing unless some fight broke out. Or it was a full moon. Wow, while normal humans stressed away at 9 to 5 jobs, once every two weeks an alpha would have to get off their butt to cage a bunch of angry animals.

Dante didn’t wait for any reply as he impatiently stepped forward and placed a finger beneath my chin to make me look at him and said, “None of this matters right now, but I’m not going home unless I know you don’t hate me.”

“I don’t hate you,” I replied. And I didn’t, but I would probably have said anything at that point though to make him leave – I was far too tired.

He didn’t look convinced. “But you don’t like me either,” he muttered quietly.

I rolled my eyes and forced myself up, hoping I could push him out the room. “I’m not that immature.”

He grabbed me abruptly by the waist to hold me in place. “Could have fooled me,” he murmured before he made a dive for my lips thinking he had me this time.

It was a fleeting kiss which this time I didn’t kick him for. He pulled away as confident as ever and backed off towards the window. “Tomorrow, ten o’clock, meet me at the café in town.”

Then he was gone. I rushed to the window to see a black wolf running into the forest and then I was reminded of those nights in the past, when I’d spent my time curled up scared because of the black wolves at my window. Black wolves were Bancroft though.

It was black wolves that were watching the house at night, black wolves that attacked Hilary and I at Wolf Lake. A black wolf that bit my father. I realised then I hadn’t actually figured out… why?

***

I crept down the stairs early that morning. I took one look at my mother as I landed on the bottom steps and shook my head. Beside her figure that laid sprawled on the couch was an empty wine bottle and tipped wine glass. She’d never done this before.

I wasn’t going to risk waking her and instead I laid the already prepared note on the coffee table where I knew she’d see it.

I’m away out with friends. See you when I get back – Riley.

Short and sweet, and this time I’d remember to return home. 

Closing the door behind me, I began the short distance into the heart of Mateo and laid sight on the small café about twenty minutes later. Baby blue sign with the block text and dull car lot behind it. The owner hadn’t upgraded the place in years. I remembered when dad used to take me here, Sunday brunch – maple syrup pancakes. I

This café was one of the only ones in town, hence everyone was here at least once a week. It was usually fairly busy. Bianca and I would come here often.

Entering the cafe, you could hardly hear the country music playing over the loud and annoyingly old air conditioner, trying it’s hardest to keep the loud and rowdy customers cool.

“Riley!” I heard someone call.

Dante stuck out like a sore thumb. While the cafe was filled with older couples at this time in the morning, Dante was tall, young, and alone in a booth by himself.

I took my time in walking over and observed him call off his order to the waitress who arrived by his side. I slid quietly in the seat opposite.

“-and a cappuccino for her.” He jammed his thumb in my direction as he finished his order. I didn’t care what he ordered me, as long as he was paying because I hadn’t brought any money with me.

“Got it,” she replied as she finished writing the order up and dashed away into the kitchen.

We sat quietly for a little while peacefully observing, but Dante began to fidget and then annoyingly began to snap his fingers in front of me. He repeated my name over and over until I finally replied with a frustrated, “What!?”

“Are you ok, Riley?”

I nodded. “Just over thinking I guess.”

I still hadn’t forgotten the black wolves. The Bancroft wolves.

“Tell me,” he insisted.

I eyed up the waitress as her eyes keep darting over to our table as she filled up two mugs with a steaming liquid. “The night I first came face to face with a werewolf,” I began to say, “Wolf Lake. Black wolves stalked us back to the tree line and as my friend ran off, the wolves pounced. Black wolves are Bancroft, right? Why would they attack me?” Dante looked concerned, but he nodded and let me continue. “And for nights after I’ve had black wolves sit and watch my house. What’s up with that? They were your wolves.”

But Dante looked as clueless as me. “Best person to ask would be my father, Riley; I don’t get given the low-down on pack business 99% of the time.”

“I thought you’d at least know something about it, though... Bancroft wolves were stalking me, Dante. Your pack. They don’t anymore but seeing you yesterday, it reminded me. Something isn’t right.”

Dante’s concern just increased as his eyebrows knitted together. “They wouldn’t look over your house without a reason, Riley. Who was this friend?”

I shrugged. “A girl I’d met on holiday. Hilary. I met her in California last summer.”

Dante’s eyes widened in surprise before muttering to him and then finally saying, “Did you catch her second name?”

I tried to think deeply, trying to recall her second name but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t remember.

I shook my head in reply to which he said, “Damn.”

The waitress came back over and planted the two cups in front of us both and walked away again. I was too focused on the current topic to thank her, but that was the last thing on my to-do list right now.

Something was up with Hilary, I thought. She’d done something.  “Is there something wrong with Hilary, do you know her?” I asked.

Dante took a small sip from the cappuccino but pulled a disgusted face before putting it back down. “There’s a Hilary in the werewolf world, from California as well.”

“There are tons of people called Hillary. So you’re trying to say Hillary is a werewolf?”

Dante nervously fiddled with the napkin. “So that’s what he meant by a hunter threat in the area...” Dante mumbled to himself while ripping the napkin up.

I noticed his nails had begun to grow sharper and darken. His wolf side was coming closer to the surface. His eyes grew darker. Something dangerous was on his mind.

“Dante, you’re confusing me,” I said.

He looked up and replied, “A few months ago we could smell a hunter in the area. Exiled werewolves who hold a grudge against our kind. Sometimes they aren’t even werewolves but carry the scent because of who they associate with. They deny their werewolf any freedom and hate any werewolf alive, essentially they hate themselves. Just like how different packs have scents, hunters have scents too. Gary is a hunter rogue, Bianca is half hunter. It wasn’t them who we could smell. I mean, of course we didn’t know of Gary and Bianca’s existence until you told us, but when we found out we just assumed that’s who it was that day. You’re even friends with the girl.” Dante ran a hand down his face. “It’s all making sense now...”

“Dante spit it out!” I tried to quicken the process, desperate to find out.

“There’s an allegiance of hunters, Riley. Run by a president family who live in California. Kelly Thorn was an exiled werewolf; she created the allegiance and keeps connections with all the main hunters in the US, Gary included. Kelly has a half human, half werewolf turned hunter daughter – her name is Hilary,” Dante explained. “We could have figured this out so much faster if all the packs would just speak to each other…”

The second name Thorn rung many bells, the name Kelly rung more. A fearful shiver ran down my spine. They were the same people. Kelly was Hilary’s mom, that much I was sure of.

“They create new weapons and show off their kill list yearly at their stupid meet-ups. Mourn the lost hunters of that year. Whatever. But last month we could smell a hunter nearby, most werewolves know the scent if they’ve been around long enough. They were on Dimera land at Wolf Lake but we hadn’t sensed a hunter for a while and it seemed alarming. Wolves were sent to Wolf Lake and came back with nothing. My father demanded they trace the scent. I was told a house in town is where the scent is strongest. In Dimera land again. When you told me about Gary and Bianca, I wrote it off as being those two,” Dante explained further, repeating some of what he’d said before as he grew more and more unsettled.

“What the hell,” I muttered, quietly taking it all in. Had the Dimera’s not sensed the hunter scent? They should have sensed it more than the Bancroft pack! Something wasn’t right here.

Dante continued and said, “They sat for days until the scent faded. They couldn’t attack because humans were inside.”

“Because I was inside?” I repeated.

Dante nodded. “The Thorns know well what three packs live near Mateo – it’s like a Wolf Town. Werewolf paradise. Why in the world would Kelly let her daughter visit Mateo alone?”

I missed the end of what he was saying because my eyes were distracted by something else. I caught sight of a familiar face in a crowd that entered through the café door in front of me. Gary with whatever creepy friends he had. A lot of friends. I hadn’t seen them before, probably from out of town.

Maybe 8... 10 of them.

Gary grinned knowingly as he spotted me and elbowed the person beside him before they conversed in whispers. The person turned to stare as well.

The group fell silent one by one, their eyes turning to study the two of us. Then I knew for sure that these weren’t human friends, not human friends at all. They knew about us, which left very little options to who they were.

“Dante,” I said.

“I know, Riley, I see them,” Dante replied, twisting in his seat to see them.

“Are they...?” I began to ask.

“Hunters?” Dante finished for me. “It looks like it.” He took a sniff of the air. “But they don’t smell like it. I can’t... smell anything,” he said. He began to look worried and visibly began to breathe harder wondering what was wrong. “I can’t even smell the god damn humans!” He cried.

I couldn’t help him out at all. My senses were underdeveloped and useless.

Then I saw another familiar face, right in the middle of the crowd with a taller, slim woman. “Would you look at that,” Dante said as he eyed the same two people.

“Is that...?” I felt so useless, too scared to even say the word.

“Thorns.” Dante confirmed my suspicions. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say their yearly meet-up was being held in Mateo. But I do know better. Why would they come all the way out here?”

Hilary and I never once broke eye contact. She’d caused this. She had used me all along. What was her plan all along when she’d made friends with me on holiday? Was her goal all along to come to Mateo and get on my good side? Check out the area? Cause trouble? Use an innocent human?

“How didn’t Dimera smell the Thorns? It was Austin who fought the Bancroft wolves off that night, right?” He quizzed but wasn’t waiting for answers.

Dante suddenly got up and said, “Come on, we’ve got to see my father. Then after that we need to see Dimera.” Dante didn’t seem too happy about it though.

The large group had already split ways between two tables and watched us leave.

Gary looked pleased as if he’d accomplished something. As the door swung shut behind our tails, I switched my gaze to Kelly. The woman I’d spoke to once or twice before looked like someone else. Threatening, dangerous, powerful. She looked at me as if I were rotten.

Hilary to her side only smiled.

 

 

 

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