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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4. Chapter 4

That night, despite my visitor staring at my window, was relatively peaceful. It wasn’t peaceful inside the house, however, as my parents decided to give me a lecture about how I lacked common sense courtesy of both my falling grades and every little thing setting all of us off right now. It would have stung if I didn’t agree at this point.

I zoned them out completely – I didn’t want to hear it. By the time they were done, I’d already found myself tense at the bottom of the stairs waiting to run away. I did just that when they were done, with no intentions of coming back down for the rest of the night.

I didn’t need headphones to sleep later on, and instead I fell asleep almost entirely thoughtless.

The next day I met with Bianca and stood outside our first period class. The teacher was late, typical with this class. “So Riley, did those animals bother you last night?” She asked, sneering the word ‘animal’ like it was dirt on her tongue.

“I saw one early into the night but I didn’t hear them at all,” I replied honestly. Had they finally given up? I shook that thought away. Give up what, exactly? They were hungry, that’s all.

Bianca visibly relaxed and nodded. “That’s good.”

An awkward silence fell over us as Bianca let it go. I pondered on her dislike of the wolves and really had to think in order to understand it. I thought for a second if I should bring it up again, but realised that was never a good idea.

As I came back to reality, I saw Bianca shifting uncomfortably beside me. She had something to say. I gave her a pointed look to spit it out. “I’ve been itching to talk about the murders up at the peaks yesterday,” she admitted.

I laughed under my breath and asked, “So you don’t think it’s the wolves?” 

Bianca gave me a half smile like she was talking to a child who still believed in the good of the world. “Oh, no, I think it’s them alright. Killing humans now. How disgusting,” She said as she leaned back against the cool wall, “My dad heard from the sheriff that the two men didn’t have on any clothes – no clothes at the top of the hills. They were either mad or up to no good.” Who believed a word your father or the sheriff says? I thought. Bianca laughed.

I laughed along with her but I wasn’t finding it very funny. Suddenly I felt very wrong for joking with her. They were still people whose family now had one less mouth to feed.

She seemed to realise the mistake too and changed the subject. She then said, “All of their insides had been torn out their chest; they were literally just a pile of bones inside a casing of flesh!” She exclaimed gruesomely, throwing her hands about in wonder.

I resisted the urge to gag and put my bag on the floor to get out my phone, prepared to look it up on the internet. The morning local news had failed to mention anything about how they were killed making me question the truth in Bianca’s words. She often enough liked the exaggerate things.

“You won’t find anything about it on there, the media doesn’t know about the little details so I advise you don’t tell anyone else,” She said, as if she and I were getting all the inside scoops. I snorted at her in disbelief as we spotted the teacher down the hall ringing keys around his finger preparing to let us inside the class. “I heard the families are refusing autopsies and want to take their bodies somewhere else. They must be crazy too,” Bianca said, finishing our conversation but I now only wanted to ask more.

Before we could enter the class, Bianca made a fleeting comment that large groups were going out hunting in coming days to scare off any threats out there.

I was about to tell her how much of a bad idea I thought that was but she saw the look before I could air my thoughts and said, “Don’t worry; they are completely safe out there.”

The hikers weren’t. What made Bianca’s dad, the sheriff, and anyone else who volunteers any safer?

***

Later that day I opened the door to my mom’s silver car with a force, justifying the glare I got from her when I sat down in the passenger seat. The entire day all anyone had to talk about was the dead hikers and it had begun to grate on my nerves.

“Who’s died?” She asked once I was sat comfortably inside, not realising her mistake.

I groaned and leaned back, shutting my eyes ever so slightly. “Just two hikers that so happen to be all anyone are talking about today. People need to learn respect,” I mumbled. I knew she didn’t mean the question like that, but it explained to her all the same why I was so mad.

My mom shook her head and clicked her tongue. “Why are you so worked up about it? It’s not like you knew them…”

I shook my head as I turned to her. “Do I have to have known them?” I asked.

“Don’t be silly,” she said as she sped up. She never usually picked me up; she was only here on extra special request. I wouldn’t be walking home today, or tomorrow if I could help it. “You’ll never guess who I bumped into today at the supermarket!” Mom suddenly said.

My mother had that grin on her face. That do-good grin when she thought she’d done something great. That was never a good sign. “Who?” I asked. I could have guessed, the population of this town was small and the amount of people my mom would willingly talk to was even smaller -

“Rose Dimera!” She exclaimed as if I should have been happy with her. The name taken a second to register… Them, I thought.

I wasn’t eager to get into the subject of the Dimera’s. I’d seen Austin and his friends a few times in passing and each time unlike the past few encounters, he hadn’t even looked at me. It was putting me on edge seeing as I couldn’t help but notice him wherever I was, but he, just like before, had went back to not being aware of my existence.

“You’re not going to ask what we talked about?” Mom asked. Oh, I had conjured all sorts in my head by this point, I thought as she elaborated saying, “Well just so you know, the Dimera’s are coming to dinner tonight.”

If I was drinking something this would be a spit-take moment. “What?” I yelled.

My mother came to an abrupt halt and curbed the car on the side of the road realising I wasn’t happy and suddenly neither was she. “What do you expect? It’s the least I could have done to repay them. Their son has been a massive help,” she said as she turned to face me like I was being the unreasonable one. “God only knows what could have happened if it were anyone else who found you that night.”

“How about a small ‘thank you’ and getting on your way to buy the shopping? Mom! I don’t think you understand what you’ve done?”

Her face transformed and I realised my mistake in how I was talking to her. “And what exactly have I done, Riley?” She asked.

I paused for a split second, unsure how to word it without unleashing her wrath. Or what exactly I was trying to word. “Austin hates my guts, mom. I’m betting he doesn’t want to come near me with a ten foot pole!” I cried.

“I don’t think that’s the case, Riley. At least let me repay Rose and her husband, just for tonight and we can forget about it,” She said. I’d never met Mr. Dimera before, and if he was anything like his son I don’t think I’d want to.

I prayed for a miracle that somehow Austin would find a way out and not turn up, but if his mother was anything like mine then he would for sure be there.

***

I walked down the stairs with my hair scraped all back in a high pony and a new change of casual clothes. I wasn’t going to dress up just for the Dimera’s – they weren’t anything special despite what my parents would say. My father looked me over but didn’t say a word about my clothing choice - he didn’t know jeans from trousers or t-shirt from blouse. I stuck my tongue out at him just as he turned away.

“Now, before our guests arrive, please remember they are here for dinner and you should show them respect,” he said. Yet another lecture waiting to spill from his lips.

“Why wouldn’t I show them respect-?” I began to ask, wondering what my parents took me for.

“That means-,” dad loudly interrupted, “No burping, no playing with food, no stupid questions, polite talk, addressing them as Mr and Mrs and nothing less, and do not argue with their son - mom has told me all about you two. Do you understand?” He asked. I understood loud and clear.

My mom’s ears perked up when she heard the crunch of gravel as a car pulled up outside. “Behave you two, they’re here,” She said. Not minutes later there was a knock at the door. My mother opened the door a little too quickly.

They both stepped through the door frame looking equally as nice. Mr. Dimera was a blonde handsome man like his son despite Austin’s black hair from his mother’s side and both didn’t look much off mid-thirties. Mrs. Dimera had her black hair curled and wore casual clothes.

“Thanks for inviting us to dinner, it means a lot,” Mrs. Dimera – Rose - greeted. No Austin, I observed. I silently thanked my guardian angel who seemed to know more of what I wanted than my own parents. I was blessed.

Mr. Dimera stepped forward to shake my father’s hand. “Sorry, our son can’t be here right now, he should be joining us in about half an hour though,” Mr. Dimera explained. Okay, maybe I wasn’t completely blessed…

“Oh, should I postpone dinner, then?” my mom asked

The two shook their heads. “No, our son will have eaten already. Let’s get on with the food!” Mr. Dimera exclaimed looking overly enthusiastic about the menu for the night.

Once seated my mother dished up a big portion of food on each of our plates and personally put them in front of each of us. I thanked her quietly as she found her own seat.

My mom sat down after a minute and began to eat. The Dimera’s looked at each other before Mrs. Dimera coughed to break the silence. “Hear about the police matter up in the hills?” Mrs. Dimera said, trying to spike conversation. I awkwardly picked up my fork and began to play with my food, ignoring whatever was going to follow.

I stabbed my fork into my food harder than necessary but no one seemed to notice but my dad who pointedly stared. “Yeah, such a tragedy. Something needs to be done about the wolves,” My dad said.

Mr. Dimera shook his head as he disagreed. “Something must have alerted the wolves to danger, they wouldn’t attack without reason,” he argued, “Nature will take its course and everything will return to normal.”

I wasn’t sure who was more insane – my father or Mr. Dimera… On one hand I totally knew where Mr. Dimera was coming from, but doing something about it as my dad put it also seemed like a good approach.

“They still pose a threat. It was wolves that caused Riley and your family a bit of trouble that other night,” my mother argued.

Mrs. Dimera nodded in agreement. “Something must have happened for them to attack you like that. We live close by, so if anything ever happens in that area again, know that we are there,” she said.

Mr. Dimera smiled and said, “I expect this isn’t the last we’ll see of them, though.”

That portion of the conversation seemed to dither away much to my delight while my parents moved on to more family friendly discussions – all of which I ignored completely.

Just as my mom served up dessert, the front door burst open. A gust of cold sharp wind flew through the house in a draft before the door was shut again.

“Manners, Austin!” Mr. Dimera scolded his son before any of us could see him. He entered the house without asking.

Mom placed a tall glass in front of me with two scoops of ice-cream inside as he appeared in the doorway. There he stood looking semi-presentable. His hair looked like it had been combed and he wore a button-up shirt. He still looked great.

My mom taken this as an invite to shove us both off into a different room. “How about you two go eat outside and let the adults have time to themselves,” my mom suggested. I think my mother forgot I was 16 and Austin was 17. I hoped she was joking.

My head stayed still but my eyes still found Austin’s as I saw him retreating to the kitchen which led to the back door as if he knew the way around. I stood abruptly, causing the chair to swing back. I didn’t even bother taking my ice cream with me but as I entered the kitchen I began to regret it. Eating might have given me an excuse not to talk to him.

I found Austin leaning on the brick of the house right beside the backdoor breathing in the cool night air. Personally I was freezing, but as with any normal reaction, he didn’t seem to feel the same.

Then as if on cue, a howl pierced the night air from the distance. “Not again,” I whined as I sat down on the cold dirty slabs and closed my eyes.

“Not again?” he asked curiously.

I popped open an eye to witness his confusion. “Every night since that time in the forest,” I explained. Or at least that’s when I first began to notice it.

He knew exactly what I was talking about as another howl ripped the air and his features were wiped of emotions. I tried to gauge his reaction but found it hard.

 I focused my eyes into the dark beyond and saw nothing more than black and a few little objects only meters from my eyes. Everything else seemed absorbed into an abyss of nothing but still the wolf would come to sit and watch. I was sure of it.

“Are you frightened of them?” Austin asked suddenly, breaking the deafening silence.

I looked up at him feeling a little nervous and unsure. “The wolves?” I asked.

He nodded. This seemed to be our first real conversation.

I nodded with a small ‘yes’, but I couldn’t say much else. I was tempted to run my hands through my hair, burry my face in my lap and just take a few moments to myself. I couldn’t do that now, not in front of Austin. I didn’t want to be here with him alone.

“It shouldn’t be an issue for much longer,” he said, as if he personally was working through the problems.

That answer left me more uncomfortable than before.

I glanced up momentarily putting all my strength into staring through the darkness and there they were like expected. Yellow eyes just barely masked by the trees surrounding it. Unlike before however, the black figure began to emerge out the shadows, its form moving closer and closer.

“Eh – Austin?” I asked, pointing in the wolf’s direction before I pushed myself up and backwards into the wall behind me.

Austin immediately caught on. “I think you should go inside,” he quietly said as he got in front of me and used his hand to signal my way inside. As soon as I got on my feet I ran without so much as a second thought towards Austin and what he was doing with himself. I glanced over my shoulder for a brief second to see the animal now stationary.

Seconds later Austin was beside me, calm and collected as the door slammed behind us. Austin took on a serious expression and jumped to the kitchen window to look outside, his eyes darting left and right to search through the shadows. After a minute he turned to say, “You have to promise me you’ll never go outside after dark, you’ll never go through the forest day or night and if you do, run for the nearest populated area.”

I nodded, unsure of what else to do. I was confused, not sure what was happening. The wolf had tried to come closer, I thought worriedly. “Wasn’t thinking about it,” I replied.

“Do they come near your house often?” He asked curiously, looking like he had several more questions in mind. His green eyes were intense, drilling holes into my head as he waited for an answer. I squirmed under his gaze whilst thinking… I had no reason to tell him any of this. This wasn’t his problem and I wasn’t going to make it his problem either.

I screwed one side of my face up in confusion and found myself poised with an explanation and said, “Sort off. They might have been doing it all my life but I’ve only noticed recently. It’s never came any closer than the tree line, unlike today.” I played with my hands as I studied his slowly morphing features. His nostril was twitching. “But don’t worry! My friend Bianca, she told her dad and the sheriff are going wolf hunting tonight, they’ll sort out the problem,” I said.

Maybe that wasn’t the right thing to say as he gradually absorbed the information. In an instant he became restless and worried. “Austin?”

“Somehow I don’t think that’ll help in any way at all,” he responded.

I felt like this meant something entirely different to him than what it meant to me.

Austin’s gaze flicked in my direction. “You look pale, is your leg wound healing right?” That wasn’t the reason I was pale and I knew he knew that too. I appreciated the change of subject.

I lifted my trouser leg a little to show him the clean bandage. “Yeah, it should be fine. Thanks for asking.”

He gave a half smile, but he wasn’t interested in my wound and neither was I.

We heard it again. Another howl. Without as much as another word, he grabbed both the curtains and pulled them over the glass. For a few seconds his thoughts seemed to drift before his head fell and he sighed.

I could only watch and examine Austin in curiosity.

 

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