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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11. Chapter 11

Simone wiped a stray tear from her cheek quickly, bringing her sleeve over her fist and settling it back on her lap again looking as tired as I felt. Her eyes were sunken, large black bags directly under and red pinched lips. She looked how I was beginning to feel.

In the middle of the kitchen, Touren’s alpha, Kris, stood looking ever firm and in control. He hadn’t made a single joke since he’d arrived.

“What exactly happened that my own niece would call for my help in a Dimera pack matter?” He said, the words flowing from his mouth like a taunting song. Mr. Dimera glared in return.

Frank taken a stand off position and made sure he seemed larger than the man opposite, blocking Rose from his view. “Nothing that concerns you,” he growled, before glancing over Kris’ shoulder at the weeping girl.

Touren spat a laugh. “If it concerns Austin, it concerns Simone… And if it concerns her then it will always concern us.”

Frank shook his head and grumbled inaudibly before spitting, “Whatever happened is over now. It none of your business.”

Kris looked around the room, a small knowing smile planted on his lips. His eyes connected with my own, then Dante, Megan, and Ben’s. “It appears it isn’t,” he muttered.

Ben stepped forward suddenly. Frank – Mr. Dimera - gave him a warning look, telling him he was doing something he shouldn’t. “We know how to save Austin,” Ben confidently stated.

Kris suddenly looked surprised, his neck craning in the direction of Simone who seemed to get all the more upset. “Really?” he asked Simone, as if she’d have the answer.

Simone didn’t get a chance to reply and instead Frank did. “They’re proposing I do a blood transfer,” Mr. Dimera spat.

Kris suddenly became confused. “A blood transfer?” he repeated.

Dante nudged my side with his elbow. I looked up trying to multitask, watching the situation unravelling in front and Dante beside me. “What?” I forced out through my teeth, glaring at him from the corner of my eyes.

He grinned sheepishly before looking down at the floor for a brief second. “We haven’t mentioned a blood transfer since we’ve been here, right?” he asked in a whisper. “All I said was we had a way to remove his alpha blood.”

My eyes widened, thinking back through the past hour. He was right, we hadn’t even mentioned the details of a blood transfer, what it was, what it entailed. With that thought, I curiously looked over at Mr. Dimera who hadn’t caught on to his own slip up.

“They expect me to give up my pack by giving my alpha blood to any Dimera wolf!” Frank wailed, his hands in hysterics shaking from rage.

“Wait!” Dante intervened when he was sure of what he was hearing. “We didn’t mention anything about a blood transfer,” Dante said cautiously. “I said you had to sever your alpha blood from your family. I didn’t get the chance to say the exact term, ‘Blood Transfer’.”

Frank paused, his mouth opening and closing trying to formulate an answer. “Yes you did,” he finally stuttered

Dante turned to Ben, the question on his face. Ben pursed his lips, looking between the two men considering what he should do. “Actually… I don’t recall anything about a blood transfer either,” Ben finally said nervously, knowing this was betraying his uncle and alpha.

Dante gained a smug smile as Mr. Dimera’s face fell in what looked like defeat. “Are you trying to say I’m lying?”

Ben looked to his feet, escaping the gaze of his alpha. He might have been a distant relative of the alpha family – but by no stretch was he actually in it making him subject to any wrath Mr. Dimera saw fit to any regular member of his pack who dared defy him. Now, he cowered.

Dante, however, wasn’t a member of his pack and could say whatever he liked. “Yes. That’s exactly what we’re saying.” That left Frank quiet and stunned. “And that now makes it obvious you’ve known about this all along. You knew a blood transfer would at least mean he was useless to the hunter’s Wolf Moon.”

Frank became red at the cheeks – out of embarrassment or anger I couldn’t decide. When he had nothing to say, Rose stepped out from behind him reminding us she was still here. “He didn’t know- He wouldn’t,” she insisted.

Dante interrupted, never once breaking eye contact with Rose’s husband. He narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Yes he did,” he dangerously whispered, not fooled.

Both Mr. Dimera and Dante continued to shoot each other daggers while the others on looked. Rose, however, looked like she had a billion and one things running through her mind. “Our son… Did you – did you really know a way all along?” She asked him.

Mr. Dimera broke eye contact with Dante and dropped his head to the floor between the two of them. With pitying eyes, he admitted towards his wife, “I did.”

Megan became enraged. “We’ve wasted months trying to figure out a way when it could have been this simple all along. I’ve barely known this side of my family for more than two years and I already wish I hadn’t met you all!” She yelled, her hands flying. Simone loomed in her shadow.

“Calm down,” Simone muttered through a sniff. “Fighting doesn’t solve anything.”

An angry tear fell over Megan’s cheek. “It won’t fix anything but at least it’ll make me feel like I tried and my efforts weren’t for nothing,” she growled with a heartbroken expressions. “Blood Transfer,” she muttered, “if we’d never came across it then he would have kept it hidden, letting Austin – his son – die!”

Kris’ eyes were wide, looking between everyone with nothing much to say, much unlike him. “We all feel that way. We’ve all wasted our time here.” Kris looked disappointed, which was a new expression for him. “I’ve never even heard of such a thing. This Blood Transfer will erase your alpha blood?” he asked to no one in particular.

Frank didn’t appear to be listening or focusing on anyone but his wife. “I’m sorry, but our pack always comes first,” he said towards her.

Whack. Rose’s hand made contact with the soft fleshy part of his face. Even I felt that one. “Family always comes first,” she screamed in his face, tears rolling down her own cheeks and soaking her shirt.

I backed from the scene into Dante’s arms behind me. He wrapped a tight arm around my front holding me firmly in his hold. “I made a promise to your father to always protect this pack, to put it before my own life,” Dimera defended.

Rose had held her cool this entire time. Now, she appeared finished with it all. She turned towards the back door. “I’d have thought as a turned wolf you’d still be in touch with your humanity. You really wouldn’t think twice about protecting your pack over your family? Austin is your pack. Without him, the Dimera pack ends when we die,” she said, but we all knew it was hopeless. Mr Dimera was a man who rarely changed his mind.

Frank dropped his head to the floor, realising saying anything would make it worse – whether he danced to her tune or not. He didn’t say a word.

Rose didn’t wait for anything more. She slammed the door behind her.

“Come on,” Dante whispered in my ear. Megan was already being hauled from the room by Simone and Kris. I could hear Kris say something about staying on Touren land for a small while to Simone and a few others. That sounded good, away from Dimera drama and their crazy alpha.

Before I rounded the corner of the kitchen door I turned back. Frank had recomposed his face into a stony expression, unreadable unless you knew what you were looking for. I however knew him well enough to know how he hid his emotions. I could read him well, and from those subtle signs I could tell he was livid. He wasn’t giving up his pack, and he’d been sure of that for a while.

***

The scenery passed by in a hazy blur. “Hey, Dante?” I asked, just barely taking notice of how we’d already entered central Mateo.

He took a few extra seconds to reply, tucking away his thoughts. “Yeah?” He replied.

I clasped and unclasped my hands together nervously, for no particular reason. I’d been feeling on edge for so long. My heart constantly racing like danger was staring me in the face. Something bad was going to happen, one bad thing after the other. No break.

I dropped my head. “We’re still alphas of our pack, right?”

Dante appeared to ignore the question. “I love when you say our pack,” he mumbled, stepping firmer on the gas, speeding up through the streets heading east.

“Dante,” I grumbled, knowing he was avoiding the subject.

Dante solemnly grinned. “I can feel it. I don’t know why Lay isn’t acting quicker but we’re still alphas. At least for now.”

“How long do you think we have left?” The question to other ears might have sounded like how long we had left to live, but in the context of our situation it meant both that and our status as alphas. Without alpha status, we could consider ourselves as good as dead by the time we became rogues especially if it were to happen now in Mateo.

Dante hummed in thought before replying, “I reckon we have till the end of the week. He’s just toying with me, so I’m betting he’ll prolong it as much as he can. When he finds out we’re here though it might come a little sooner.” The car came to a halt at a stop sign. A truck similar to Bianca and Gary’s passed us by - It was like a moment of de ja vu. I suddenly wanted to find out how she was doing.

“Is there nothing we can do before that happens? I mean, we’re here. In Mateo.”

“I don’t think I want to do anything anymore. Take my pack, I don’t care,” he replied as if he’d had the answer prepared for a while. “But I can’t get in contact with Ethan. Beginning to realise I really made a mistake with him,” he sourly laughed as if this was all one big joke, “I trusted him a lot.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

We began again on a silent drive. We ended up just before the edge of town – right by my house. Dante and I got out silently. Our visit would be brief, letting our parents know the details and grabbing a few items before heading out towards Touren land to discuss what to do with Mr. Dimera and get back on the road to Colorado. A blood transfer was fine and well, but we all knew it’d be best to narrow down Austin’s location beforehand.

“Just ten minutes,” Dante said, slamming the door behind him. “Otherwise I won’t want to leave.”

My mom was standing on our porch like she had nearly half a year ago when Hilary had arrived to stay. Seeing her there, smiling like she had once before gave me hope I never knew I still had in me.

“Hey Mrs. Kerr – is my mom here?” Dante asked, marching towards her with a polite smile on his lips.

My mum nodded like everything was normal. “Oh, yeah. Hasn’t left since we arrived back after our little trip down state. She’ll be glad to see you.” She hopped down the steps towards us both, arms out stretched. She pulled us into a three-way hug and patted both our shoulders twice. “Nice to see you both. And thanks for letting us know you decided to come back home,” she muttered sarcastically.

I hugged her back. “Thanks, mom, but we won’t be here long.”

As we all entered the house, Dante asked my mom, “Has my sister been alright?”

My mom nodded, the two of them getting into conversation. “She’s fine – even started the local high school. She’s really popular – more popular than my Riley ever was.”

“Mom, I wasn’t popular at all.”

“Exactly.”

All Dante looked disbelieving as he asked, “my sister’s popular?” with a grimace on his face.

My mother laughed in return, holding a few doors open as we made our way through into the centre of the home. I was suddenly hit with a wave of fresh home baking – something sweet. In those months when it’d just been me and her on both our recoveries to normality, baking was something that hadn’t occurred. It reminded my mom too much of my dad who gorged on her cookies. Now, it seemed, she was back to normal no doubt aided by the anger of knowing my dad was alive and well.

In the living room Nina sat sprawled on the couch, head back and eyes squinted up towards the ceiling fan. Dante coughed lightly to catch her attention but it didn’t work. “Is she asleep?” He suddenly asked, turning towards my mom who stood behind us quietly. “Since when has she slept with her eyes open?”

My mom watched the other lady pitifully. “I think Nina feels a little left out if you ask me. Can you blame her? Her child abandoned her.” My mom turned pointedly to myself, aiming that comment at the both of us.

I frowned. “That’s a little dramatic, mom.”

Nina, Dante’s mom, groaned. “I’m awake. You can stop talking about me now.” She threw her arm across her body lazily and pushed herself from the soft fabric cushions. Her head turned and she sleepily took in Dante’s figure by the doorway. “Are you done with your business now, is that why you’re home?” Nina sourly threw in our direction.

Dante approached her slowly and perched himself on the couch arm. “No, but we thought it was best to come back up here, sort some things out, and then head on out again. We wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Nina snorted. “We’re still alive, if that’s what you mean.” Nina got up unsteadily, trying to balance but took a few seconds to steady. Dante reached through the darkened room and grabbed her upper arm.

“Have there been any problems?” He asked, both his mother and my mother.

My mom, Elizabeth, shook her head. Nina laughed. “Well, apart from the few remaining Bancroft wolves going astray and making a spectacle of themselves in town. I imagine it’s Lay’s doing.”

Dante looked sorry. “I swear, we will fix all of this but for now you need to cooperate a little, mom. We’ll move you out of town for a while, if that’ll help?” he suggested, thinking it were best if she got away from it all.

Nina smiled sarcastically. “We’re fine on our own, Dante.”

My mom laid a hand on Dante’s shoulder, pulling him from his mother’s personal space. “She’s been like this since we came back. Let’s leave her be for now. She’ll come around,” she suggested, reminding me of how my own mom had come around after her own breakdown courtesy of my father’s fake death.

Making our way to the kitchen, my mother offered us two seats. “So what’s brought you back to Mateo?” She asked finally, setting down a plate of treats in front of us. Neither of us were in the mood to eat.

“Just checking in, honestly,” I offered.

She looked disbelieving.

“Just here to see the Dimera’s and let them know face-to-face what we’ve found,” Dante expanded.

At the mention of the Dimera’s, she perked up. “Did you see your father?”

Guilt washed over me. I had completely forgotten about him for those hours we were in Dimera territory. He must have been there, in the area. He must have known I was there. To mom, he was clearly still the most important person and always would be.

I shook my head as a solid no, not wanting to expand on the topic of my father.

Dante began to delve into the subject of Austin, what we’d uncovered, and where we were going next. We started off by explaining Austin’s father and how he’d hid information that’d taken us months to find. “What a pitiful man,” mom commented. “I should meet Rose again someday, she can’t be feeling great.”

I smiled like it was a good idea, and let Dante continue. “After we’re finished here, we’re heading to Touren land just a little north. Get our plans in line and move out again.”

We all continued to talk till it felt like we were back when everything was alright. When there was no danger, whatever that felt like. Dante and I had never been together for longer than a few days without something going sour. How would we come together when we weren’t there in the midst of some war between the supernatural in the leafy green forest? To me that seemed like a scary unknown.

***

Arriving on Touren land was underwhelming. No one greeted us in any shape or form and the area seemed deserted – although looking very similar to how I remembered those months before when I’d visited with Dante.

In a clearing off the tail of a flat dirt road lay a single wood cabin, typical of rural Wyoming and didn’t look any more out of place than the hundreds of others situated on the private land near Mateo. It was nothing special – and if anything undersized compared to the luxury holiday cabin-esque home the Dimera’s had invested in, and even slightly smaller than the small scale Bancroft pack house. You’d never have thought it were the base for all Touren pack business.

Surrounding the home after a short few meters of tall wild grasses were trees upon trees reaching tall into the mid-day sky. Standing on the dirt before the front door was Kris Touren, who hadn’t been there seconds before.

Dante waved at him enthusiastically. Kris, as expected, smiled brightly. He was a positive man, and an example of what good leadership looked like. He seemed to handle his pack effectively, and never caused trouble in the process. “Welcome,” he called. Behind him, Simone appeared. Her face was glowing, no longer red and streaked with tears. She smiled meekly.

I wondered how Austin and Simone had got on before he was taken. Those few days she would have held dearly in her mind.

Ushered into their home, we both immediately spotted Ben and Megan lounging about on the floor, occupied like typical young adults with their phones and technology. “This wasn’t the welcome we expected,” Dante joked at the two of them who hadn’t noticed our arrival.

Megan looked up seconds later, typing without watching the screen. “Oh, it’s you guys,” Megan muttered statically. She looked back down at her phone and tapped it once before she set it away. “So you’re here for the night then?”

I nodded. “That’s if you’ll still take us,” I replied, glancing once at Kris who didn’t seem to have any objections. “I mean, we would stay at my house but if we stay here for the night it gives us more time to discuss and get things coordinated with you here before we leave.”

“There’s room for an army here,” Megan said with a giggle, gesturing around the small, humble home. “Sort of,” she added. “Isn’t this great though. It’s only in a time like this you’d have Bancroft and Dimera staying together under one roof – and on Touren land at that!”

In no time we were shown where we’d be sleeping by a more than welcoming Kris. I had no idea where the rest of his pack was, his family, or even his beta who had been stuck to his side the many times I’d bumped into him before. They’d laid down some thick mats nears the back of the living room, where Dante and I would spend the night before we would probably leave early tomorrow.

Sometime later, Megan and I decided to get up and have some girl talk together. I just wanted to talk with someone who’d relate to the thoughts in my head and knew she was that person. She wouldn’t betray me, she wouldn’t stab me in the back, and she wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. I felt like we’d known each other forever yet it’d been less than a year. Megan would know why and how I was hurting, and she’d know how to fix that.

Megan toured me around like she knew the place better than the back of her hand. She talked nonstop for maybe an hour about this, that, and anything. It distracted me for only a while. Then she started talking about the Dimera’s.

“I knew thing would only get worse after Austin, but for a while it had felt like the calm before the storm. I’d even attended a taster day in school, met a few friends – friends, Riley! I’ve never had friends outside of the pack. It was so interesting. Then my uncle pulls something like that,” she raged, referring to Mr. Dimera’s lack of action in saving his son.

“Maybe…” I started, “Maybe you should go home and save yourself the stress? Is your mom still mad?” I asked.

She puckered her lips in thought and tilted her head as we both strolled through the woods. “Still mad, but if I asked now I’m sure she wouldn’t say no. But I can’t just go back home after all this – after all I’ve done here and the people I’ve met. Besides, my mom would never let me come back. I need to see this to the end.”

I smiled sadly and looked down to my feet, knowing no matter what I’d say it wouldn’t make the mood any brighter. “You know, I wish I had somewhere far away I could run to. At least you have the choice.”

She nodded slowly, followed by a raw laugh. “Now you’re making me sound selfish, Riley.”

I pulled my arm over her shoulders and pulled her closer into me. “Shut up. You’re anything but selfish.”

She was keeping me from thinking about everything else turning in my mind, stopping me from being as selfish as I wanted to be and running away like I’d said. I had another thing on my mind as well, something that hadn’t really left since it’d first been suggested.

The idea of a blood transfer and saving Austin in an instant… it seemed like the golden ticket out of the twisted, cracked bones of this drama. I’d had the realisation yesterday that I too was an alpha. I mean, I always knew I was alpha once I’d met Dante, but I am an alpha. All a blood transfer would take is an alpha biting another wolf, transferring powers, and instantly pushing the old alpha out. Poof goes the alpha blood in a way no one would think possible. I had the power to set this all off. I could do something.

“You need to talk me out of this,” I muttered, hoping Megan had impossibly heard my thoughts but praying to god she hadn’t.

“Out of what?” She replied cluelessly.

Talking me out of pulling a Lay Santoro, the biggest werewolf taboo there is and initiating a blood transfer, I thought to myself. It was in theory so simple. I could do it. I could start it all with an end in sight.

“I can’t say,” I finally replied.

Megan stopped me in my tracks. “What is it?” She asked persistently. “What are you thinking?”

I had to think of someone to transfer the powers to. Who in my grasp could I force alpha blood onto in the Dimera pack? There was Megan, but I couldn’t do that to her. She’d snap under the pressure. Megan was also closely related to the Dimera’s, and so I wasn’t sure how that’d work.

Ben, I suddenly thought. Ben would be perfect, a strong individual who seemed confident and loyal. He wasn’t closely related, being Megan’s cousin rather than Austin’s. All I needed to do, in theory, was mix our blood. In an instant he’d become alpha and Austin and his family would become nothing. The more I thought about it, the more I realised Ben was the perfect choice – because he was a relative they wouldn’t dare kill him, or so I’d hope, and if Ben had any common sense he wouldn’t step down from his new found Alpha position if he cared for Austin or the effort.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised how fast I was adapting to the world of a werewolf. How nasty I felt in pondering what to do and how I could potentially ruin Ben’s life as well as the Dimera’s. I had to do it.

“Riley!” Megan yelled suddenly, grabbing my attention. “What’s wrong with you? You just suddenly blanked out on me.” She looked worried. “Should I get Dante?”

The more I thought about it, I realised how bad I should have felt for even considering it…

“No, I’m fine. Forget it,” I muttered.

But I didn’t feel bad at all. 

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