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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27. Chapter 27

“The Thorns. They’re here, in Mateo,” Dante said the second he laid eyes on his dad.

George stood from his desk and sent the chair flying back into the wall. George began to run around like a headless chicken for most of the discussion as they came up with ways they could protect themselves. They even considered a temporary alliance with Dimera.

Dante didn’t like that suggestion.

The rest of the family were ushered away onto the second floor so there wouldn’t be too many people involved in listening to the details, and George set a lock-down on the rest of the pack advising everyone stay in their homes. He was sending the stronger wolves out to gather everyone unaccounted for and make sure they were all safe.

Some pack members would be working today in their normal ‘human’ lives, but I was sure they’d be home now after calling in sick and waiting for George’s next command

I would have called it an overreaction in the past, but I’d seen the destruction werewolves could cause, the harm they could inflict. I could only imagine the wrath of a hunter if they were a match for a werewolf. George looked increasingly worried as time passed, as if this had happened before.

“Why the hell can’t we get their scents? Those damn hunter stink so bad it’d be near impossible!” A trusted friend of the Bancroft’s raged.

About five other strong wolves were here and they were angry and ready for blood.

George paced the kitchen and muttered to himself saying, “They’ve managed to cloak it, how else would we not smell them coming?”

“I couldn’t smell them; even as I walked right passed them,” Dante said, offering his input.

“So what now, they’re here to kill us?” Someone nervously asked.

George went over the tall cupboard on the far side of the kitchen and pulled a long thin tube from the side. “Why else would they be here?” George said.

Pulling flimsy, old paper from the tube, he began to roll it out on the table. Dante stepped by my side and put an arm around me. I looked up unsure and he gave me a weak smile.

“We have to keep everyone at least a mile into our land; we can’t have anybody off it or close to the edge. Do you understand?” George frantically drawn pencil lines on the map which had clearly been used before on many occasions. “No one is to cross the boundary. Don’t go into town; try to keep your families indoors.”

“We can’t coop them up, George, especially not the children...” An older man persisted.

George turned with a certain look in his eye. “Especially the children; they’re the only hope for this packs survival,” George said as he turned to look at both Dante and I and grunted. “Dante, go put Riley up with your mom and sister.”

I’m not going anywhere, I thought.

Dante didn’t seem to feel the same way as me and quickly began to usher me out the room. “No Dante, I want to stay!” I argued in pressured whispers.

He looked down as if I knew nothing. I hated that. “Riley, you don’t want to be here when Austin arrives,” he said.

“Damn straight I want to be here! I want to say I told you so,” I replied.

Dante shook his head and pulled me to one side. “But who’s saying he’ll be sorry?”

I narrowed my eyes at him as I peered over his shoulder at the group behind him. They were trying not to directly look at us, but they were definitely listening. “I can handle it,” I said.

George slowly made his way over with an impatient expression. Dante didn’t notice as he continued staring as if getting me to back down. It wouldn’t work; I wasn’t like every other member of his pack who would back down. I wasn’t raised in pack life.

“Dante, please take it outside,” George muttered. Either George had something to say that I wasn’t getting in on or he didn’t want to hear us argue.

Dante mumbled ‘come on’ before grabbing hold of my upper arm and gently leading me out the tiny back door into their equally tiny backyard that consisted of some slabs extending no more than a meter and then hit a sheer wall of forest.

Dante leaned against the wooden house and it creaked under the weight. “Why can’t you just be cooperative for once?” He asked.

“You can’t hide this,” I said. As far as I’d been lead to believe, Dante was next in line for the wolf throne of Bancroft – or alpha as they so happen to call it – and apparently I’d be a part of that too as the alpha’s mate. I deserved to know, and I didn’t find that unreasonable in the slightest.

Dante slowly shook his head and took a small step forwards which made us almost chest to chest. I had to look up to see his face. “You don’t need to know any of this. It isn’t important to you. My mom doesn’t get involved in this sort of stuff, but she does get input elsewhere.”

“Well I’m sorry; Dante, but our relationship or whatever it is we have isn’t going to work like that. I’m not going to let you take my input on one occasion but not for the next. You either take it all the time or not at all,” I said as I began to shiver.

Dante took a thoughtful step closer and began to run his hands up and down my arms to keep me warm. I smiled shyly in thanks before he said, “You’ll get used to how things work soon. I can see how it might seem unfair now-.”

“Dante, this is reverse girl-power!”

He looked amused as he snorted a laugh. “Girl-power...” he mumbled under his breath.

“It’s true! Why is it only the guys who deal with the important things..? What’s wrong with a female taking charge?” I asked quietly.

“Females aren’t built to fight. They’re generally more caring and a pack needs anything but caring when it comes to deciding for the pack. If an alpha lets someone off with just a scolding, you’ll be expected to do the same with the next person and then it turns chaotic,” Dante argued back.

I frowned a little and watched as Dante’s began to frown too. “That’s because in pack life they’ve been brought up female, not an equal.”

“Hey! We treat everyone the same here,” Dante defended. 

I snorted a little at the suggestion. “It doesn’t seem like it.”

Dante grew more and more frustrated by the second and shot back, “It’s not just the pack thing making you mad. What else is it? Are you still angry with me for the other day?”

He was right to an extent – I wasn’t mad about the clear inequality in this pack, but it was sure adding to it. Everything just felt like it was building up and I couldn’t quite put my finger on the exact cause.

“Everything is building up, Dante,” I finally responded. I could feel a headache coming on. Nothing was ever simple.

“That’s just more of a reason to keep you out of the way. I can tell how it’s affecting you. Believe it or not, we have an emotional link. I can feel your strong emotions when they’re at their peak. Sometimes I feel your stress,” he said, before he yet again ran a hand through his hair. I crossed my arms as a barrier, wary of what else Dante could sense in me.

I sighed audibly as I moved on finally, saying, “What are you going to do about the hunters? The detection issue? Dimera pack? Your pack?” Questions without answers, I knew that.

“I don’t have an answer for you...” Dante said, but I’d already expected that.

I stepped closer and buried my head below his shoulder. “I know.”

He took the hint and wrapped his arms around me providing a shield to protect me from the world. He was like my prince, except this prince wore fur. I wanted to hate him but that was becoming harder to even think of.

A few seconds later, the door behind us opened to reveal George. “Dante, we have visitors. Come inside and greet them,” he said.

Dante didn’t spare a glance in his father’s direction as George looked between the two of us. “It can wait,” Dante said, quickly dismissing his dad.

“Dante,” his father growled, “You don’t-,” he began to say.

Another voice butted in, cutting Dante’s father off. “That won’t be necessary, George.”

That knocked Dante awake, suddenly alert. He peered behind his father and his lips set in a firm line. “Dimera,” Dante acknowledged.

Curiously, I turned to see our visitors and spotted Austin, only half his head visible

 “George, we need to talk.” That was Mr. Dimera’s voice – I was sure of it. He was possibly the only person I didn’t want to see more than Austin right now.

George sighed. “All these formalities. Everyone just needs to relax,” he commented under his breath as he turned and slipped past Austin into the room, commenting on their attitude. Dante choked a laugh.

Dante patted my shoulder once before stepping back and taking a deep breath of the outside air as if preparing himself for the discussion about to take place inside. “Aren’t you supposed to be inside with your father?” Dante suddenly asked, staring pointedly at Austin who hadn’t left from his spot in the doorframe.

Austin shrugged nonchalantly. “Aren’t you, as well?”

It was scary how my opinion of someone could change so quickly. How long had it taken for Austin to become someone else entirely to me? A daddy’s boy who didn’t have a backbone. He wasn’t the good guy. He clearly didn’t have much of a heart. I still found myself with some faint human emotions that cried for him and Dante was all too aware of them. He didn’t like it at all.

 “Got something to say, Austin?” Dante asked.

Austin shook his head. “No, but my father does.”

***

“Look here, Bancroft, I’m going to put this nice and simple for you; someone’s been poisoning the water,” Mr. Dimera said.

George paced the house, in, out, in, out. Repeat. “With what? By who?”

“It only affects our kind. Take two guesses who!”

Several cuss words escaped Georges mouth in anger. The action reminded me so much of his son. “We’ve had several pack members die suddenly over the past few months. No trace of anything. Two most recently, one was no older than ten,” George explained as if connecting the two.

Mr. Dimera was unsympathetic as he stood among a large crowd in the living room before saying, “It’s not just death; it has lesser but still severe side effects,” he explained.

“Like what?” George questioned.

Mr. Dimera was quiet for a second, thinking over his decision to tell us. “It reverses werewolf ability,” he suddenly said.

George narrowed his eyes in a painfully sour expression. “What parts of the werewolf ability?”

“What senses have you been missing for a while? You didn’t smell us coming, did you?” Mr. Dimera asked. “You didn’t detect Dimera wolves when we stepped on your land. Your heightened senses are disappearing and soon enough we think it’ll effect our shifting too. We’ve also had a few deaths. Drinking high concentrations of the poison happens to do that.”

A shocked George let himself fall into a seat and asked, “Tap or stream water?”

“We don’t know.”

“How do you know it’s poison?”

Mr. Dimera thought about his answer before fleetingly looking at Austin and said, “We recently invested in a pack doctor who was able to trace and study the virus.” This must have been a new development, I thought. It’d been only a short while since I left their pack and there was no such pack doctor then.

That wasn’t suspicious in the slightest. Something must have happened for them to find a werewolf doctor which I’d been led to believe was pretty rare. “Why?” Dante asked, on the same wave length as me.

Austin and his father shared yet another look. Maybe this whole thing was a fabricated lie. “We’re currently encountering a high rate of human births,” Mr. Dimera admitted.

George suddenly stopped what he was doing as the cogs turned in his head. “High rate of human births?” George repeated back. Just like Bancroft, I thought. That couldn’t be a coincidence.

Mr. Dimera didn’t seem to think much of it as he waved his hand in dismissal. “Just a few human children to werewolf parents, it was a little odd and we wanted to look into it. What the main problem is, though, is how are we going to control the hunters?”

George got to his feet suddenly looking hopeful and said, “We’ve had the exact problem. For decades. Now I think of it... if there is in fact a poison, this could very well be another side effect?”

“If you’ve had this problem for decade, Bancroft, how are you still standing today?” Mr. Dimera was sceptical.

George curled his lip and said, “With great struggle.”

Dante’s eyes were wide as he observed the situation unfolding before us. Why would George give away what was essentially a pack secret so easily? How stupid! They’d never forget it.

Dante and George had said so themselves – they kept this secret for a reason; they hid their falling numbers and weakness so they could hold their ground. Had George forgotten that? Did he no longer care about what would happen to the Bancroft pack?

“Dad,” Dante furiously whispered as if to ask what he was doing.

“What, Dante?” George snapped, frustrated at his son. Dante’s cheeks began to redden in what I guessed was a mix of embarrassment and anger.

Dante’s face transformed as it all began to spill over and muttered dangerously, “Be careful what you say, father.” But the father remark was more than what it appeared; it reminded George he had a family to think of before any decision was made. I had to agree with Dante in this situation.

“I’m not allowed to speak unless it’s passed by you, now, huh?” George tilted his head tauntingly, daring Dante to continue what he’d started. I didn’t like where this was going. This wasn’t the time for a family feud especially when Dimera was here to witness it.

Austin laughed and sought out his father with his eyes. They both shared the amusement. “This’ll be good,” he said.

A feeling came telling me to grab Dante’s hand and hold him in place, but as I reached out to take it, I realised that thought had come a second too late.

Dante tore through the room and past everyone to the opposite side where he squared up to Austin and said, “You be careful what you say, remember whose land you are on.”

Everything was about land and power, I thought.

Austin took a small step back as he glanced behind Dante and laid eyes of his father, George. He wasn’t happy in the slightest.

George approached, weaving between the Dimera men who were tensed and ready to pounce. “Dante, stop,” George commanded.

“You’re going to let them come here and walk over us, dad?” Dante spat. It all seemed to come spilling out now as if held in for too long as he continued and said, “I don’t care if they can help us, because I don’t want help from someone like them.” Dante couldn’t keep still.

Mr. Dimera looked uninterested as he leaned on the kitchen counter and studied the room. “Take it outside, will you?”

I could put up with Austin if he wanted to play games but Mr. Dimera’s was becoming almost unbearable in everything he did. I couldn’t decide whether I was being unreasonable or not.

Dante turned furiously and headed straight for the door as silence fell on the room. Dante slammed the door behind him, leaving everyone’s eyes settled on me instead.

I followed after Dante knowing that’s what I was supposed to do.

I quietly called his name as I entered the yard hoping he hadn’t run off anywhere. But he hadn’t, I thought, as I spotted him leaning on the house like he had before less than half an hour ago.

Austin joined us soon after, but he didn’t speak. He loomed by the door as if he wished he was elsewhere. I wished he was elsewhere and maybe if I had a time machine I’d go back and make it so we never crossed paths.

I took small awkward glance between Austin and Dante, and when I finally caught Dante’s eye, we just stared. He looked cool and thoughtless, leaning back against the house letting the sun cover his face. I didn’t want him to be so quiet, though, I wanted him to be truthful about how he felt.

 “Is no one going to say anything?” I piped up.

Dante took in an audible breath and sighed. “There’s nothing to be said,” He responded. He lazily closed his eyes blocking himself off from the situation. There’s isn’t nothing to be said, I thought, but a lot he didn’t want to say.

“There’s plenty,” Austin muttered.

To think the two of them in years to come would become bigger rivals than now was hard to believe. They’d lead each on their own packs, both some of the largest in the America’s. They were never fated to be friends.

“Is that so?” Dante said, appearing anything but interested.

Austin positioned himself so he stood taller over Dante, moving out the doorframe. “It is,” he replied.

The conversation wasn’t even making much sense, but it was an excuse to get mad at each other. Dante in turn kicked himself up from the wall so he stood level. The two contrasted like dark versus light in their appearances.

“Why can’t you just walk straight into that forest, Austin, with your father and leave us all in peace from your drama?” Dante instructed, pointing with an outstretched arm in the direction of Mateo.

Austin laughed like he knew a secret. “Because believe it or not, Dante, your father wants our help.”

Dante spat like he couldn’t believe it, and honestly I couldn’t either. George wouldn’t stoop that low. It would be a blot on Bancroft’s perfect records. George was too proud to ask the Dimera’s of all people for help.

“Austin, step down,” I demanded as I sensed the tension rising.

Austin unpredictably lunged with his hand for Dante’s throat and pinned him to the house like something had just snapped. “Oh your pack is so dead; I’ll make sure of that,” he growled.

Dante took zero offence and laughed like it was a funny joke. “You don’t just go ignoring my mate, Austin. I think she asked you to step down.”

Dante delivered an equally powerful shove to free himself but maybe overestimated the force. Austin pulled Dante with him as they went tumbling into the trees just meters behind them. The tree splintered from the impact. Cuss words flew about as they rolled about throwing punches and kicks.

I was too scared to do anything, too scared to even try and break it up. I knew what they could do, they could transform at any second and rip me apart. I could too, if I really tried, but what use was I against two fully grown werewolves.

“Stop!” I screamed as Dante pinned Austin to the ground and continued to deliver brutal punches emitting audible cracks.

Gradually, everyone inside caught on to the scene outside and came spilling out. George and Mr. Dimera took in the scene together as if observing a dog fight.

With the least concern, Mr. Dimera asked, “How long have they been at it?” I ignored him completely.

“Oh my-,” I heard George mutter over the chaos. He sped over to the boys but looked on helplessly. Even he thought twice about ripping one off the other as Austin managed to reverse their roles and began to hit Dante.

“You’re an embarrassment!” George shouted loud enough to scar your eardrums. Dante gave up trying to resist Austin’s hits after the comment and Austin soon caught on, stopping himself too. They untangled themselves and lay there side by side. Dante looked as if his dad had physically punched him.

It hit a nerve, I thought. I felt a pang of sadness inside but I knew the sadness was not my own.

“What?” Dante asked as if he thought he’d heard wrong. He sat up, giving me clear view of his battered face. His knuckles were bloodied but not as bloodied as his nose or as bright as the bruise that was developing on his cheek.

George reached out to grab Dante away from Austin who laid there breathing heavily by Dante’s side. “I said-.” He began to say, but cut himself short as he stumbled back and laid a hand over his chest.

“Dad?” Dante asked as he stepped closer to steady his father, grasping his shoulders tightly.

George choked like his throat was closing over. The scene in the yard became panicked and chaotic

“What’s happening?” I muttered, not expecting an answer from anyone.

George was laid down. I could barely see through the crowd that had gathered.

I was afraid I already knew what was happening. I looked desperately around me and spotted the men from the Dimera pack, congregating together in the far corner doing nothing to help. Mr. Dimera stood in the front.

“Move! Give him some air,” Dante commanded as he pushed people back away from his dad creating a large enough opening for me to see Dante and his father and for him to see me.

He turned to me with eyes so wide and innocent, like a little boy lost crouched beside his dad. His hair fell in his face and his voice began to tremble. Dante looked up and found my worried expression and said, “I think he’s having some kind of heart attack.”

 

 

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