Wolves of Mateo: Wolf Moon

Austin was taken by the hunters by the banks of Wolf Lake - deep in the forests of Mateo, Wyoming. Searching for him is Riley and Dante - his closest friends yet worst enemies. They both have very little time to save him from what's likely to come - a sacrifice for the Wolf Moon - a hunter legend engrained in their traditions. Trying to save their friend is only part of the deal, as new enemies emerge threatening the whole balance of things back home as both Riley and Dante set on a trail out of state in Colorado before they realise the real threat is oozing out from within. A new chapter unfolds. BOOK TWO IN WOLVES OF MATEO DUOLOGY.

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10. Chapter 10

Back on the road again using Sabitha and Samira’s car, minus Sabitha and Samira, we headed north in the direction of Cheyenne back in Wyoming following in the trail of both our mom’s. We couldn’t head west in the direction of the hunters just yet – that seemed like the most risky and dangerous thing to do. Instead we had discussed and found it most logical to tackle the problem from home before taking on the hunters head first. At least for now.

“They’re meeting us on the border?” I asked as I recalled Dante’s phone call to the Dimera’s just a few hours ago. The Dimera would send a representative to meet us at the border to escort us back through Wyoming and into Mateo. I had to think why they’d send someone to meet us, but at a time like this I realised they could never be too cautious. The Bancroft’s after all were once their enemies. Once we let them know we had information they might want to know, they weren’t taking risks.

Dante nodded ever so slightly, not concentrating much on the current conversation. “Meeting us at the last rest stop in Colorado.”

I smiled at our road trip memory, remembering the day we passed through the rest stop for some grub. “You mean the rest stop with all those hunters?” I poked.

Dante didn’t respond, still weighed down by his thoughts. I could only watch him as we drove closer and closer towards home. Black circles lined his eyes, his frame was thinner, his smile becoming a rarity.

When we got to the rest stop a few hours later, it became a waiting game for the Dimera escort to arrive. I hoped Mr Dimera wasn’t going to turn up. Or anyone from Austin’s family. I didn’t think I’d be able to bear their presence – from guilt, embarrassment, and anger.

“How are you going to tell them?” I asked, referring to our plan to save Austin.

Dante snorted. “I’m just going to have to come right out and say it, aren’t I?” He fell from his thoughts and he suddenly appeared back in reality. “How else am I going to tell them that they have to give up their pack – their life – in order to save their son?” he said, talking about the blood transfer Sabitha and Samira had told me and then Dante about. “Unless we find him like a needle in a haystack, that’s the only option. Even then, he isn’t automatically safe.”

“If they have even the faintest trace of a heart, they won’t have to think about it. Nothing comes before the life of a family member. Not even their pack.” I was confident that Rose would give up her own life in a heartbeat, but Mr Dimera was different. If he could wager the life of his son for his own benefit, he’d do it. Never the opposite way around.

Dante slowed the car, finally arriving at our destination. He muttered under his breath, “Austin’s family? Yeah, he’s better than dead if he’s relying on that lot.”

Pulling into the parking lot, the service station loomed over us reminding me of the start of our journey. The mood in the car now felt completely different to how it’d been before.

“Are we going to hide out in our car and eat at the gas station or are we going to suck it up and go inside this time?” I asked him. “I mean, I haven’t had real food in what seems like ages.”

Dante took a deep breath. “Think I’d rather go inside if we are meeting Dimera’s. Won’t make as much of a fuss in public once we let them know what they have to do to save Austin.”

I imagined the process as being fairly simple. Austin would no longer be of any alpha blood if Mr. Dimera or any other alpha wolf initiated a ‘blood transfer’ and passed alpha blood to a regular Dimera wolf. The Dimera family would be demoted to regular werewolves and Austin was as good as nothing to the hunters. That still didn’t mean though that the hunters wouldn’t kill him.

Dante clearly wasn’t looking forward to this confrontation, I thought, as I watched his figure fidget in his seat. Dante was a strong and powerful wolf, but not always. And I could appreciate that.

“Ready?” I asked, letting my hand find his over the gears.

“Ready.”

***

We took our seats in a small local restaurant inside the large building by the rest stop. Glancing around like we had the first time we were in the area, we concluded for sure this time that this part of Colorado was definitely occupied by a pack – and a large one at that. Every second person was a wolf and each and every one knew we were too.

We had our waters in front of us, waiting for a sign, any sign of the Dimera’s arrival.

Just a moment later appeared two figures in the darkened door frame. “Riley!” A feminine voice called.

I recognised the voice immediately. “Megan?” I got up from my seat and I rushed towards the door very close to our table. Behind me, Dante got to his feet to greet the male figure.

The unfamiliar figure who had entered with Megan rounded me and greeted Dante. I was too focused on Megan to care who it was.

I threw my arms around her in a strong hug. “I haven’t seen you in forever.”

Megan giggled. “You don’t understand how lonely it is at the Dimera house without you or Austin. My mom won’t let me come home.”

I shook my head with a faint smile. “She’s still angry? It’s been months!”

“Can’t tell my mom anything,” Megan said, waving her hand.

I agreed with a nod and dived in for another hug. “You need to tell me everything about what’s been going on back home.”

She shook her head and pulled back. “Nu-uh. You need to tell me everything first. I haven’t seen you since you ran off with Dante over there. I mean, no matter how much I adore Simone, she really isn’t my Riley.”

I had almost forgotten about Simone. But not quite.

“How is she?” I asked quietly, realising she probably had it a whole lot worse than anyone else – her mate was missing, the person most important to a werewolf. Her wolf would be distraught inside of her.

Megan’s face became grim. “More on that later. That’s a longer story and for another day.”

My eyes lit up. “Another day?” I repeated, gleeful at the prospect of going home and staying there long enough to see another day with Megan like how it used to be.

We went back to our table and took our seats. As soon as my eyes connected with the man who’d arrived with Megan, he stood like he were on a spring and nodded his head in greeting. Dante laughed awkwardly. “You don’t need to do that,” he muttered.

The man who I hadn’t met before was presumably also a Dimera. He looked curious suddenly and said towards Dante, “You mate feels powerful, almost like a natural born. It’s an odd feeling especially when you know it’s not true.”

“Trust me, she’s anything but natural when she’s in wolf form,” I heard Dante mutter. He was lucky he was out of reach, otherwise I would have hit him. The man didn’t seem to hear Dante’s comment.

Megan took a seat beside the unknown man in the booth. “His name’s Ben. A cousin of a cousin on Austin’s mothers side of the family. Part of the Dimera pack but like me doesn’t live in Mateo. Just here on a visit, aren’t you, Ben?” Megan asked, smiling and cooing at him like he weren’t a whole foot taller and at least a few years older.

Well, that answered all my questions. I would have introduced myself if I didn’t think he didn’t already know my name – but knowing the Dimera’s, he’d probably been told all about me… And not in a favourable light.

“So…” I trailed off, looking between Megan and Ben. “That makes you two cousins?” I asked when I realised that Austin’s cousin was also Megan.

They nodded simultaneously.

Dante got over the introductions and set back off on the conversation both Megan and I had missed in the minutes before. “So as long as you tell the Dimera’s exactly how it is, okay?” he said, a cloud of seriousness falling over our table.

Ben nodded. “Of course, although I don’t think they’ll be happy.”

Megan’s gaze darted between them like a shuttlecock. “Wait, what’s happened?” she interjected, lost in the conversation.

I nudged her, so she’d pay attention to what I was going to say. Dante looked like he was going to explain, but he shut up when he saw my face. At least he knew who was boss. “So long as the hunter believe in their stupid Wolf Moon, they’ll kill Austin because he has the blood of an alpha.”

Megan didn’t look surprised. “We already knew this, isn’t the reason-.”

“Wait,” I said. “I haven’t finished.” Megan smiled sheepishly. “We figured out coincidentally that alpha powers can be taken. Your alpha blood can become inactive. Useless.”

She screwed up her brows in confusion, suddenly lost in understanding. “That’s not possible,” she breathed. “If that were possible, the Dimera’s would have known and they would have done that by now.”

I peered over at Dante, who urged me to continue with his expression. “Maybe they did come across it, but if they did I’m thinking they wrapped it up and hid it. They’d do anything to save their son, but not this.”

“What, why?”

I looked down at the table, a tense and curious Megan perched on the edge of her seat. “Because to put it simply they’d have to give up the pack.”

Megan audibly gasped. “That’s not possible.” She looked between us all like she expected us to tell her we were joking. “Alpha blood is alpha blood.”

Dante decided it was time to speak up. “Yes and no. It can become dormant, therefore not valid for the Wolf Moon. I mean, this is all in theory right now. We’ve been doing research. This can be done without their consent.”

Megan softly asked, “How would they go about doing this?”

Dante looked between everyone and said, “Ever heard of a blood transfer?” When neither of them reacted, he continued, “Think of it like a blood pact. It’s pretty unheard of, supposedly, but in theory I could end all this by physically transferring my blood to you with intention of passing alpha status. You’d become alpha of Dimera and the entire Dimera family’s alpha blood will disappear. They become regular wolves and you’re now the alpha.”

Megan quietly muttered her thoughts out loud, going through everything she’d just heard. “I’ve heard of stepping down from your pack but you still keep alpha blood, but never physically becoming a regular wolf from an alpha. Why isn’t this more widely known?”

Ben coughed lightly, drawing attention to himself. “Because it’s so rare,” he said. “I heard of this years ago. Why would any alpha go around giving out their alpha blood to another pack unless to cause trouble? And messing with packs like that would cause big trouble and war.” Both Megan and I must have looked confused, because he smile gently and continued in saying, “It’s just how it is, and very few alphas dare try it. I’m honestly not sure if it’s fact or fiction but anything is worth a try, I say.”

Dante grinned, patting Ben’s back. Dante said, “You seem to know more about this than I do. Great, that means the Dimera’s should know about this too.” Ben awkwardly smiled in response. Dante added onto that, “of course, if the Dimera’s become rogues after having their alpha status taken away they’ll be in a bit of trouble there. They don’t have many friends who’ll take them in and we all know rogues are free game in Mateo.”

Megan seemed to have a eureka moment. She gasped, her mouth falling open ready to talk. “Austin’s mate is from the Touren pack. They’d be mad not to take them in if it came to that.”

Ben narrowed his eyes. “I don’t doubt the Touren’s hospitality, but I do doubt Frank’s ability to lower his pride. You think he’d go from being alpha to being Touren’s subject?” That put a damper on things. “I wouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, because there’s no telling how Frank Dimera will react.”

Dante nodded. “We shouldn’t force him to give up his pack,” Dante muttered, despite how much I knew he thought they should.

The thought of Mr. Dimera’s unwillingness to even try and help save Austin boiled my blood. That wouldn’t be out of character for him. “But he better,” I commented.

Megan looked between us all as a waitress approached out table. “Who do you think he’d be most likely to hand his pack over to?”

Dante looked to Ben for answers. “His Beta, I’m guessing. Frank doesn’t officially have a beta but he does have a stand-in who’d be more than willing to take the job.” Beta, referring in wolf terms to a second in command.

Dante snorted. “I thought he would have.”

“Mr. Dimera’s quite the lone wolf,” Megan commented, “Always doing things his own way.”

I agreed more strongly than I should have.

The waitress quickly stopped by our table, realising our company had arrived. She jotted down our orders – ranging from a mere sandwich to a quarter pounder. Megan was apparently pretty hungry. More drinks in front of us, the conversation dithered to more pleasant conversation. Things began to feel like how they once had.

Megan updated me about everything that’d happened back home – which hadn’t been much. Everyone had kept it quiet in Mateo since Austin vanished knowing they couldn’t risk more trouble. Apparently everyone was getting along pretty well. Touren – more specifically, their alpha Kris, had been visiting Dimera land more often but as far as Mateo gossip went, there was very little.

In terms of Megan, she hadn’t been doing much. She finally convinced her parents to let her attend school in Mateo despite being home-schooled her entire life. I could only imagine what school would have been like with Megan rather than Bianca, Gina, and Liam. Those friendships felt like years ago.

According to Megan, Bianca was no longer in town and hadn’t been since about a month after the fight at Wolf Lake. I wondered briefly what she was up to now… But I knew I’d find out sooner than later – probably from her crazy father, who was still lurking out there somewhere no doubt

After eating our food, we paid and left. Dante had become a lot happier – which was becoming a rare sight. I smiled at Ben who chatted naturally with Dante much like how Megan was with me.

“Where about are you guys staying?” Dante asked as we arrived in the carpark, noting the quickly descending sun and tiredness written on everyone’s face. “We need a place to stay too, so we’ll just go wherever you go before hitting the road.”

Thinking of a place to stay reminded me of Wanda – the nice but paranoid woman who ran the motel. A rogue – but one who defied all rogue stereotypes. We were almost sure she’d been killed by the hunters, but Dante and I had never spoke about it.

Megan pursed her lips in thought. “Not sure yet. We were hoping you had somewhere in mind.”

Dante sheepishly laughed. “You’re more likely to know of more places than us. We’ve been sleeping in our car and once in a motel. It didn’t end well.” No one asked what he meant, and I was glad. I didn’t want to explain that we’d been the reason for an innocent death. Thinking it was enough.

Ben shrugged as he unlocked his car, parked close to ours. “I don’t think we need a rest just yet. How about we head back in the direction of Mateo and if we really need to stop, we just say? Sooner we’re home, the sooner we can get everything behind us.”

“Doubt that,” I muttered, but no one noticed like with everything else that fell from my mouth.

Dante didn’t seem fussed. “I’m fine with that,” he replied.

***

Dante was running on caffeine alone by the time we passed the Welcome to Mateo sign. It reminded me of Hilary and when she’d visited me for the first time. Looking back, I realised her comment on the phrase scrawled on the welcome sign, ‘Welcome to Mateo, home of the wolves’ was probably more than what I’d interpreted at the time.

The car in front led the way, driving Megan and Ben in the direction of the Dimera pack house through the streets lined with thick but tall fir trees. On the way through town I got those home sick feelings again that I’d tried to keep at bay.

“Miss this place?” Dante asked, with perfect timing as we drove straight past my house situated on a main stretch of road through Mateo. I wondered if mom was home now like we’d asked her do and thought quickly that it was stupid of us to send her home alone when in the end we’d decided to come this way anyway. Dante’s mom and sister would hopefully be with my mom too. I eyed her car in the drive.

I thought for a few seconds about everything that had happened these past few years. I remembered the dead hunters and how terrified I had felt, the wolves that seemingly stalked my house, Austin and his family, the big reveal, being tossed between two to-be alpha’s like a rag doll, my father, my mother… The fight at Wolf Lake…

I looked up and caught his gaze before he settled his eyes back on the road. I replied with a solid shake of the head, knowing I didn’t miss Mateo a single bit. Or at least not the memories.

We parked Sabitha and Samira’s borrowed truck beside Megan and Ben’s right outside the Dimera house. I wondered how much Sabitha and Samira would have loved to come with us, but I somehow didn’t want them to see this side of my life. They were waiting for us like we asked back in Colorado, where we intended to return in a few days’ time to continue searching for Austin.

Dante didn’t fail to remind me when we stepped out the car that this was now dangerous territory – all of Mateo was, especially if Lay was here for trouble. “Be careful,” he whispered, leaning particularly close to my ear, landing a small kiss at the top of my jaw.

The door opened and out stepped Mr. Dimera from the large, perfect house looking as grumpy as ever with a cold expression on his face. With Dante beside me, I didn’t feel as threatened.

“I thought I told you to settle it there,” He grunted at Ben, stepping out into the sunlight basking the porch. Immediately I realised we weren’t welcome, and he hadn’t expected Ben and Megan to be bringing us back with them.

In the sunlight, it revealed his full face. His skin was pale, wrinkled, dark shadows beneath his red sunken eyes revealing emotion. It reminded me that somehow, deep down, he was also capable of feeling.

Rose – a motherly figure I’d missed more than I liked to admit – stepped out behind him. Her eyes immediately attached to mine, before wandering towards Dante.

“The situation isn’t a simple one,” Ben said, offering an explanation when Mr. Dimera was willing to accept none.

 “You might really want to hear them out,” Megan said, taking a step up into the shade of the porch, signalling us towards her with her hands. Before we could make a move, Mr. Dimera’s gaze alone warded us off.

Rose laid a hand on his shoulder, visibly softening his features. He seemed even sterner than before.

“Alright,” he finally said, “come in.”

You knew things had gotten bad when even Frank Dimera didn’t put up much of a fight.

***

In the familiar living room we all gathered, sitting or standing wherever we could. Dante took his place beside me on the two seater, directly opposite another two seats that sat Mr. Dimera and his wife. The only familiar faces in the room were Megan and Ben, but they hid in the far corner opting to remain quiet until they had to step in.

“I assume you’ve came for a good reason,” Mr Dimera said, looking especially irritated but when was he never, “because if it’s not a good reason, you’ve made a mistake.”

Dante narrowed his eyes. “In terms of your son, we’ve come with a very good reason, yes.”

Rose immediately perked up, having looked tired and thoughtless since we’d arrived. “You’ve found Austin?” she asked immediately.

I shook my head, answering before any of them had the chance to get their hopes up. “No.”

Mr. Dimera’s face became red and angered. Before he could shout, Dante intervened. “But the hunters will let him go if you do what we say,” Dante said. I had to look at his from the corner of my eye, not confident with what he said. If the Dimera’s did as we suggested, Austin would be useless to the hunters in their plans for the Wolf Moon… But that didn’t automatically mean he was safe.

Rose broke into a small smile, looking up at her husband who appeared devoid of emotion. “Hear them out,” she requested.

He didn’t say anything, but that to Dante was all the sign he needed.

“Simply put, the hunters only need Austin for the Wolf Moon – because he has alpha blood. You need to find a way to sever your Alpha blood ties. Stepping down from alpha won’t cut it though, but we have a way,” Dante quickly explained, not giving himself a second to breathe in case he was cut off. “That way, they at least won’t kill him for the wolf moon. I mean, we still need to find the hunters first, track him down, but using him as a sacrifice is not valid if you aren’t alpha.”

“Wait,” Mr Dimera said, his face devoid of emotion which made his seem all the more scary. “You’re saying I need to give up my pack?”

Dante cautiously looked around the room for a sign of how to go on, as if he were tiptoeing through a minefield and he knew he was running out of time. Ben shot him a subtle but encouraging smile. “That’s all,” he replied.

Rose didn’t look like she knew where to start. Frank Dimera blinked slowly before replying, “No. Never.”

“What about Austin?” Rose asked her husband.

Dante began to shout at the man opposite us, “He’ll be killed if you do nothing and you know it!”

Everything around us seemed to explode in hate. Megan jumped into the mix, followed by Ben, and then by figures on the Dimera’s side. Rose and Mr. Dimera went at it like I hadn’t seen them do before and nothing got through to anyone

I knew the reaction would be like this – I just knew it.

Megan came between Ben and Mr. Dimera who stood chest to chest, revealing confidence I hadn’t known her to have before. “Ben, back down. Uncle, he is your pack member!” She screamed, hitting a nerve with Mr Dimera whose face transformed for the worst.

“Who are you to talk to me like that?” He yelled furiously, a threat balancing on the tip of his tongue. Rose wrapped an arm around his shoulders in attempt to pacify him, but it didn’t seem to do much.

Just when I thought everything couldn’t have gotten worse… It did. Behind me on the stairs, I caught glimpse of a figure – a petite feminine figure who I took a second to recognise. Simone. Her small features were screwed up in confusion, contorting in anger and upset. She reminded me a lot of myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel sorry. As she sat there on the stairs, peeping down at the chaos it reminded me of myself, back when I’d stayed in the Dimera house.

Everyone began to fall silent, chests heaving in anger until all that was heard were the angered breaths of everyone stood in the room.

Breaking that silence was Simone, and she didn’t have to say much for my heart to break. “Austin’s not coming home is he?” she said. Rose turned to look at her first and then everyone soon followed. I watched as a sob escaped Rose’s lips after all that had been said, triggering a stream of emotion to fall from Simone’s. They joined each other silently in a hug. All everyone else could do was watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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