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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8. Chapter 8

I dug my phone from my pocket that morning to check the time and realised it’d been two days and I had yet to ask my mom about my dad, or talk to her at all for that matter. She obviously didn’t want me around at a moment like this, but did she have no consideration towards how I felt? It hurt me to know she couldn’t rely on her daughter to keep her standing, and it hurt to know my mom didn’t consider how I might have felt about the situation.

I had to call her though, if not for her, for my dad. He had to be better.

“Hello?” She answered. Her voice cracked, her tone was weak.

I smiled sadly on the other end even though she couldn’t see. I wanted to go home. “Mom! Hey, it’s Riley.” I realised then just how much I missed everyone.

She laughed lightly, but it didn’t sound like a real mom laugh. “Hey Riley, your father is doing well,” She immediately said, getting straight to the point.

“I hope! Has he woken up yet?” I asked, looking for the best answer. Something along the lines of ‘he woke up yesterday and is making a smooth recovery’. That might have been a tad unrealistic, but I didn’t want to imagine him still unconscious and bleeding to death.

My mom sighed on the other side like she’d already had enough talking to me. “He’s still asleep, they think he should wake up within the next few days,” she said.

“Thank god!” I sighed. He didn’t deserve it. He didn’t deserve to be attacked. I knew someone who did, though…

“Yeah,” my mother muttered before all fell silent and none of us knew what to say to the other.

We’d never been this awkward with each other before. “How’s Aunt Judy?” I asked.

My mother coughed loudly on the other end before replying, worrying me that she might be sick. “Oh, her, she’s fine. She left early this morning, something about not being able to take any more days off work.”

“Want me to come home, then?” I asked. I’d have loved to go home, see my mom and see my dad but I knew that my mom wouldn’t let me without some convincing. I also had a hard time convincing myself right then that I’d be safer at home. Maybe I was safer here with the Dimera’s, with people who knew the forest and how to control it.

I could hear my mother mumble something on the other side, but when I asked her about it, she changed her mind and said something else, “No, it’s fine. I’m staying over-night in the hospital anyway. I don’t want you home alone. See you in a few days, I have to go now, Riley.” She almost immediately hung up the phone.

At that very moment I wanted to burst out crying and not stop until everything was back to normal because right now a dad in the intensive care unit, feeling like you’re going crazy because wolves so happen to be following you, and making enemies with your best friends wasn’t at all what I had previously considered ‘normal’. My face was heating up red from the bottled emotions but I wasn’t going to let them out any time soon, not now. That surely wasn’t good for me, but crying right now would make it worse. They’d pity me more, and I didn’t want that.

After a five minute battle on my emotions, I began to notice the grumble of my stomach. When had I last eaten a proper meal? Not for a while, I thought. I was scared that if I ate I’d be sick – and if I were sick I’d cry, and if I began to cry I’d never stop.

I pulled myself from the bed despite the thoughts and wandered out down the same path towards the kitchen like I had most mornings, afternoons, and evenings. I was being driven insane locked up in the Dimera house. Not that I’d asked to leave – but if I had, would they even let me go outside on my own?

Rose was standing over the stove stirring a pot, likely preparing for family dinner later that night. She turned at my entrance and smiled like she was surprised and didn’t see me walk in with the same expression not one hour ago. “Good afternoon, Riley!” She turned away from the stove after turning off the heat and walked toward my figure sitting at the breakfast bar. “Banana smoothie and some scrambled eggs?” She offered, knowing I hadn’t eaten all day despite her constant offering. I nodded blankly.

The room was bright, the morning sun streaming through the open window. I could smell the forest and feel the sun on my skin. I usually hated mornings and afternoons – too much sun, no shade. It felt nice here, though. I could slowly feel the tense muscles around my shoulder and neck ease bit by bit.

A plate was slid under me, no doubt the leftovers she’d set aside from this morning’s breakfast, and I quickly began devouring the plate despite the small part of me that wanted to throw up and cry. Rose went back to the pot and started stirring while listening to the radio.

The peacefulness that was known as the everyday Dimera morning was interrupted by a loud smash from the front of the house. Rose stopped dead in her tracks and her eyes visibly bulged. “What in the world-.” Another crash, but this time it sounded much closer. “Oh gosh, right-,” she began to say as she whipped around and turned the gas off from the cooker completely, “-we better get you upstairs.”

I was tempted to ask what was up but I held back – she would tell me if it was something I had to know, right? I let Rose quickly yank me up the steps and into my bedroom, passing the open living area allowing me just briefly to catch a glimpse of the chaos outside on the porch through the window. Some figures stood there I hadn’t seen when I walked past earlier.

“I’m so sorry about this,” Rose said, but I didn’t know what she was supposed to be sorry for.

We reached the top of the stairs and then she quickly ushered me into my room. Raised voices travelled heatedly up the stairs and into every room like an echo. Someone was having a rough argument.

Rose paced about for a while, staying by my side. I wandered to the bed and sat on the edge. I finally asked, “Rose, what’s happening downstairs?”

I heard Austin’s loud voice and what I thought was his fathers. Are they fighting again?

Something loud crashed downstairs. “Oh, nothing important. Family quarrel is all, don’t want you to see it if it gets messy,” Rose explained unconvincingly. This is more than just a family quarrel, I thought, as I heard what sounded like glass smashing to the ground. Rose cringed visibly, obviously not hopeful her precious ornaments were going to come out unscathed.

“I should probably go downstairs and see if everything is alright...” Rose said to herself as several voices joined the party downstairs that appeared to be moving inside.

Rose left quickly and silently, only the noise of her soft footsteps padding down the stairs told me she had left completely.

Masculine yells hit my ears soon after and I was twitching to find out why Rose wanted to hide that from me. Everyone’s family fought, and everyone had their problems. I got up from my bed and headed for the door with only a mild sense of guilt overcoming me. A voice in my head told me this wasn’t my problem to get involved in. No, my thoughts countered, this felt very much like my problem.

I pushed forward anyway and opened the door silently as I snuck out my room – even though no one was around to catch me sneaking about. I sat on the second top step and tucked my legs into my chest. Peeking through the posts on the railing like I had when I’d nosed into Austin and his father’s fight, I spied a large crowd. Many in the crowd I had seen before – but only briefly as faces from around town or even people I’d seen enter and leave the Dimera house over the last few days. A few of them were, however, unfamiliar.

They all seemed to be crowded around... something, in a large circle. Rose was standing in the far corner, nervously looking around waiting for something else to go wrong. Her hand was at her mouth, chewing at her nails. Her other shaking ever so slightly by her side. I wanted to do nothing more than go down and help her, but I knew it wouldn’t be well received by anyone else down there… and certainly not Austin and his father who I spied near the centre of it all.

I didn’t see many faces for more than a few seconds; they were all blocked by the ever moving bodies. I could hear them, though, clear as day.

“Are you aware you’re trespassing?” Austin’s father roared. His anger shook the house, sending a shiver down my spine. This was the angry side I knew deep down both the Dimera men possessed, a dangerous anger I was too scared to ask about or try and uncover.

There was no hint of a response from the figure on the ground he was yelling at.

Austin narrowed his eyes ever so slightly. “Who sent you? What pack do you belong to?” He tried again. No reply.

One of the people in the crowd kicked the man at their feet which resulted in a loud gasping of breath. What poor soul were they torturing?

I thought about going down there but I changed my mind as a weak wheezy voice replied slowly, “We’ve been observing you for a while Austin-.” The manly voice coughed violently. “And from what we’ve gathered you’ve found your mate.” The man laughed.

I leaned down further to grab a sight of their reactions. Austin screwed his eyebrows together. “I don’t have a mate,” he said.

“Oh I’m sure you do, that pretty little girl who you’ve been around this week is rather amusing. She is a fine suitor. A human too!” The man said. Austin gained a look of understanding as his expression transformed into raw anger.

He loomed over the figure with a murderous expression. “You tell your pack to stay away from her and her family, you hear me?”

“What pack?” the non-visible man on the floor laughed with the little energy he had left.

Austin kicked him in the gut. “What are you saying, are you a rogue? You don’t smell like it,” His voice hissed towards the end laced with pure hatred.

“What’s it to you?” The man challenged.

Austin looked feral as his eyes came alight and every muscle in his body tensed, ready to rip that man into several pieces. “Everything,” He growled.

The figure on the ground tried to move but ultimately failed. Those around tensed at the unravelling situation and closed in further on the enemy. “We don’t want anything to do with your mate, Austin the almighty alpha-to-be.”

A… alpha? I thought.

“But it was you yes, who attacked her father?” Austin asked.

A small sadistic chuckle emitted from the man’s mouth. A stranger from the crowd wasted no time in putting an end to it, delivering a cruel sharp blow to his stomach, silencing the man. “Wasn’t me personally, but I know who did,” he replied, wheezing in pain.

Austin ducked out of my sight, giving me hope that he’d left the situation to someone else and had left. Wishful thinking, I thought, and suddenly the clear sound of punches erupted amongst shouting. “You stay away from her family, you got it, rogue? And whoever you’re working with!” Austin yelled.

Were they talking about... me?

“The girl is now clearly involved in your life, Almighty Austin-,” his tone obviously sarcastic, “-but something we’re quite curious about – does she know the real Austin? Well, she must – she’s your mate. There’s no wolf law stopping you.”

“The girl means nothing to me!” Austin lunged again for the man blocked from my view but the many reliable friends around him held him back like they automatically knew he was going to do something he really would regret.

Austin’s father deemed then a suitable time to take control. “Austin, calm down. I’ll handle this,” Mr. Dimera said.

“That’s right, Austin, daddy will handle this. I can see clearly how much of a great leader you’ll turn out to be with a temper like that!” Followed by psychotic laughter that no one stopped.

I flinched and subconsciously backed up a step as all hell broke loose on the floor below. I heard flesh on flesh connection and the painful cry of the man they’d captured. Their words made no sense, I couldn’t figure out their context! Who was he? Why had they bothered to kidnap someone and beat them up? That was illegal! And… How did I come into all this?

“Austin!” Austin’s father was obviously really annoyed if going by his voice. “Get out of here. Now.” I leaned forward the farthest I could without taking another step down to see Austin exit into the kitchen. Rose followed with a concerned expression. Maybe I would have followed them, but what stopped me was how Austin here didn’t feel like the Austin yesterday at Lake Mateo. I grabbed hold of the bars to steady myself and realised I was shaking terribly. I was scared, scared of the Dimera’s.

“Put him in the basement. I’ll deal with him in a few hours; right now I need to talk to my family,” Austin’s father commanded before leaving the room in the same direction as his family.

People began to file out quickly and I scrambled to my feet, running as fast as my legs would carry me. I sat silently on my bed and wrapped my arms around me. This is what I get for eavesdropping, but this time it looked like I was involved in something illegal. This was illegal, right?

Alpha, pack, mate, rogue. It reminded me of the last conversation I just so happened to eavesdrop on, it reminded me of the wolves. But the man on the floor was referring directly to Austin, as if he himself was the wolf. Austin was doing the same to the other man. Everything I thought of and every route of possibilities resulted in the conclusion that they all should be put in the nearest mental institute, but I knew that somehow wasn’t right.

Then there’s me – the human, the mate.

My hands found my hair and yanked at it until my scalp began to ache and my eyes began to water. What was happening here? Who had decided it would be funny to play out my life like this? I needed some time to myself so I could think things through without anything else happening. I felt like I was drowning in thoughts.

Through my sobbing my ears picked up the approaching footsteps and in front of me the door flung open. I knew who it was, but I didn’t dare look up and show him my bloodshot eyes and tear streaked face.

“Riley?” a voice asked. Of course it was Austin. It was always Austin. “What are you doing?” He sounded alarmed. He was by my side in moments.

He sat beside me and wrapped an arm around me while whispering, “Let go of your head, do you have a headache?”

I shook my head and dropped my hands into my lap like he’d asked me to. Maybe if I didn’t do as he asked he’d snap at me like he did the man downstairs. “I just... overheard something,” I finally said.

His hand on my shoulder stiffened like he’d realised what I meant. He taken his time to respond. “What is ‘something’, Riley?” His became serious and cautious like he was about to defuse a bomb.

I peered up at him and glared with all the energy I could muster. “Start off by explaining what just happened,” I demanded. “Right there a minute ago in your living room.”

 His face darkened, but he saw it coming. He looked down into his lap like he was trying to think of a way to explain himself, but minutes later he looked back up unsuccessful, and with a regretful expression he said, “I can explain.”

Let’s hope you can, I thought grimly.

 

 

 

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