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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14. Chapter 14

Sabitha and Samira arrived around the same time the next day. Wasting no time and after a brief introduction to my mom, we all congregated in my small room upstairs. Dante sat beside me on my bed, holding my hand as he sat cross-legged beside me. Sabitha and Samira, visibly exhausted but also relieved, pulled up chairs across from us and looked ready to get a few things straight.

I sat forward and gave them both a saddened smile. “We’re both really sorry for everything. You could have lived normal lives if not for what’s happened. If Austin hadn’t been taken, we would never have met you, and you would never have been in this mess,” I said. Sabitha and Samira simply shared a knowing look.

When no one said a word, Dante coughed to get everyone’s attention. “You both really don’t need to be here. We don’t expect you to help us, so don’t feel like you have to. It is nice of course-.”

Poor Dante was not getting to finish his sentences lately. Samira laughed and cut in, saying, “Oh, no, we want to be here. We have to be here. I think you’ll find eventually that we have just as much at stake here.”

Very cryptic, I thought. Sabitha began to look nervous as she peered down into her lap and messed around with her phone, suddenly very distracted.

“Tell us first,” Samira said before I could get a word in, “Tell us what’s been going on here.”

I glanced at Dante and he gave me a nod, as if I needed his permission first before I told them anything. Alright, I’ve got this. I took a deep breath as I tried to summarise my thoughts and said, “Lay finally has the Bancroft pack. He done exactly as you predicted and gave alpha powers to Ethan – one of the only Bancroft wolves left in Mateo,” I said, “everyone else has fled.”

Dante spat a laugh. “The two of them would have known that as soon as they got here. Have a sniff, we stink like rogues already and it’s only been a few days.”

“We don’t stink,” I replied. I looked over at the two girls for reassurance only to see Sabitha visibly sniffing the air.

Samira laughed under her breath and spoke up to say, “You do smell like a rogue and I can’t smell your Bancroft scent anymore. It’s a pity.”

“So we stink,” Dante muttered.

I let my elbow fly into his ribs as I said to that, “Well, what’s done is done. Dante’s lost his alpha blood so it’s a humble life from here out.”

The annoying figure by my side leaned over and whispered just loud enough for the girls to hear, “You’ve conveniently missed one key piece of information in these wonderful twists of events, Riley.” Dante’s arm slipped menacingly around my waist as I sheepishly smiled over at two curiously staring girls.

Through my teeth I replied, “I’m not quite sure what you’re talking about, Dante.”

He gave our visitors a large false smile and simply replied, “Before we lost our own alpha blood, Riley here made the decision by herself to do a blood transfer on the Dimera’s distant cousin. So now not only are we Rogues, so are the Dimera’s. Isn’t that great?”

Sabitha burst out laughing as if it was the funniest thing she’d ever heard. I didn’t see the humour as I slapped Dante’s arms but all he had to do was twist us both slightly until I was caged in his arms. “I don’t know why you’re complaining, at least I done something. And now the Dimera’s are rogues, they won’t go killing us. Or at least not with their pack.”

Dante stared off out the window and replied, “But now none of us have a pack to go to. And I don’t think the Dimera’s can shake off enough pride to live under another alpha. We may very well be fine as rogues but you know as a rogue we’re bound to the human territory unless we have a death wish.”

“Just be quiet, okay,” I snapped, “I done what I thought was right – and it’s still what was right. Dimera would never have given up his pack for his son.”

Samira shook her head at the developing argument and said, “So a lot of drama then, huh? We should have got here sooner.” Sabitha nodded in agreement as she recovered from her laughing fit.

“Never mind that now,” I said, hoping to avoid arguing with Dante for the rest of the night as I turned to face the two girls, “What were you talking about earlier? Why would you have any obligation to be here, other than Lay and even then?”

They both fell back into reality at the question and they shared yet again another knowing look that annoyed me inside. “Well, it’s a long story,” one of them said.

“And we’ve got a lot of time on our hands,” Dante replied with a sour undertone.

Sabitha spoke this time and said, “Our family is a little rough.” She paused for a moment and I noticed the emotion that suddenly peaked behind her glasses. “I mean, it’s pretty bad.”

I failed to see how this would explain why they were here in Mateo, helping up right now but listened anyway. The subject of their family was one we’d never spoken about. The two lived alone with the Santoro pack, no mom, no dad. Samira, the more sure of the pair, rolled her eyes and finished for her sister and said quite simply, “Our father’s a hunter.”

That got Dante’s attention. If he were a dog, his ears would have perked. Curiosity lightened his eyes as he sat forward. “So he’s in contact with the Thorns and the rest of the hunters who have Austin?” he asked.

Sabitha nodded this time and said, “He’ll know them. Our father is here in Mateo right now. On business.”

Dante began to look concerned as worries sprouted in his mind. I realised that if it were anyone other than Sabitha and Samira telling us this, we’d have kicked them out and bolted the door. “How do we know you’re not one of them?” he questioned.

Samira curled her lip at the suggestion as she coldly replied, “You think we’d tell you any of this if we were in on some plan with our father to kill you all? You think we’d be here all alone and risk you killing us?” I quickly shook my head so she wouldn’t get the wrong idea.

Dante quizzically stared at the twins before him and after a few seconds said, “He’s in Mateo. Doing what?”

Sabitha looked concerned for a second when she added, “We won’t say any more. Unless you promise you won’t hurt him… Or us for that matter.”

That sounded like a fair deal, only we hadn’t met their father before so we didn’t know what he was like. He could be the worst of the worst for all we knew… But despite these thoughts, I was curious. “Of course,” I said, “We won’t touch a hair on his head.”

Dante looked offended as he turned to face me and harshly said, “Hey, you’re promising protection for a hunter? No, no way.”

“Your friend,” Samira suddenly said, “We can tell you where he is.”

Dante turned to me as if this was getting into dangerous territory, that expression on his face that said it all. He would have told them no if not for me right beside him. “Whatever,” he finally said. “We’ll protect you, sure. Not that offering protection means much from me when I’m just one guy.”

“You still have people who’d back you up,” I said quietly, hating his doom and gloom. For someone who seemed to hate being alpha, he sure couldn’t get over not being one.

Samira ignored our tangent conversation and, satisfied with our response, said, “Your friend Austin. He’s been in Mateo all along.”

My head snapped in her direction in disbelief. “What!?” I asked, feeling a rush of blood to my head. My feet felt numb as I realised we’d venture out of Mateo all for nothing. We’d met Lay all for nothing.

Samira looked down into her lap with a guilty expression. “Lay let us join his pack many years ago because he knew we were in contact with our father and so he thought he’d be safe from them if he had a hunter’s children. We were in his pack willingly, of course. Being with Lay also gave us some protection because we didn’t want to be hunters like our father but no pack would take in someone like us. Lay also knew about the hunters and your situation for a while before you reached out to him… We had been telling him the details for a while. Details we’d gotten from our dad.”

I didn’t know what to think. Suddenly I felt many things – betrayal, annoyance, anger. Many things all at once that had me looking away and trying to forget what they’d just said. That couldn’t be it. Things couldn’t be that simple. I got curious though, and with that curiosity I couldn’t hold down the questions. “Where?” I asked, referring to Austin’s locations.

“The basement of that hunter you guys told us about. Our father confirmed it.” Gary, I thought. That had to be Gary’s house.

Dante ignored the Austin portion of the conversation and fixated on the hunters like they still posed a huge threat. The hunters were likely not very interested, especially with no pack. If they came after us, it’d likely be for revenge after the fight at Wolf Lake and to kill us like they did with any other werewolf. “How do you know all this? Your father is a hunter, you shouldn’t be communicating with him,” Dante insisted.

Sabitha looked visibly upset. “We can’t just abandon him… And our father can’t just abandon us. The least we can do is call him every other day. We just haven’t seen him in person in many years. He smells like a hunter too, so we can’t contaminate our scent.”

Dante was growing frustrated, his face becoming red as he failed to grasp their logic. “He literally kills people who are a werewolf – he kills people who are like his daughters. And on that note, why hasn’t he come to kill you?”

Samira rolled her eyes who, unlike her sister, wasn’t as emotional about the whole situation. “On that note, why haven’t all rogue hunters killed themselves for being a werewolf?” She challenged, and she had a point, “Don’t question their logic because there is none behind what they do. A hunter makes their own rules.”

Dante wasn’t liking Samira as he visibly glared at her.

“Why,” I began to say, “Did he choose to become a hunter?”

Samira pursed her lips as she said, “He’s always been one. I’ve always seen it as a power thing – human hunters don’t like werewolves in general. Werewolf hunters dislike more the pack dynamic and aim more for alphas than small pack members and rogues. They’re out for the big guys. Our mom was a human, but she died when we were small. We were tossed between relatives while our dad was away and then finally we landed in Santoro pack.”

“Why do you still contact him?”

Samira shrugged. “Why not.” There wasn’t much in getting through to Samira as she grew steadily hostile but I knew her sister was that little more pliable.

We got onto talk of the details they knew. We soon found out Austin had been taken to Gary’s house – who was now on the run with his daughter – and the hunters had set up camp there. On the question of scents and why there was none left on Austin’s trail, all Sabitha and Samira could say was it must have been a combination with our muted sense from the poison and something they’d used to mask Austin’s scent. It made sense. If they could kill our sense completely, they surely had the ability to mask their own smell.

Of course, I didn’t know how well I could trust this information and took it all with a pinch of salt. Austin was so close now I could feel the emotions rushing to my face. This could all end. This might all be over sooner than we expect and with much less effort than we thought.

 “You’re betraying your dad, you do realise,” Dante told them both, just to make sure they knew our intentions and how it might affect them.

They nodded. “We know… But he can’t go on doing as he’s doing forever. It has to end someday. Our dad knows that and he’s told us he’ll get out of it eventually. We’re just pushing him in the right direction.”

I agreed and said again to clarify, “We won’t hurt him. You have nothing to worry about over that.”

Dante brooded in the corner, not bothering to argue about it.

After a few minutes of a comfortable silence, I wanted to bring it all to a firm close. “Plan of action,” I said, “do you have an idea?”

The discussion became lengthy and went on until we had a decent idea of where to go from there. Dante didn’t join in, but he was in a huff so no one pushed him. Sabitha and Samira thought they’d best meet their dad in person before any of us entered the scene and tried to return Austin home. Then, they said, they wanted to warn their dad about any of our plans before it happened.

That all came to a close soon after that. Their intentions seemed simply that they wanted to save their father before he got messed up in something he’d get hurt in. It sounded innocent and I could respect them for it. I supposed I felt the same; I wanted nothing more than to spare my dad from the Dimera’s and their business but I had very little say in that situation from all angles. I admired the twins for doing something about it.

They left shutting the door softly behind them after I told them my mom would be more than happy to get them some food downstairs. The room suddenly felt empty and deafeningly silent without them, but now I knew I needed to get Dante on board. He still brooded on the corner of my bed, head turned down towards his mobile phone.

“Dante,” I said with that tone he knew meant he was in trouble.

He glanced up from the LCD screen for a split second and then turned towards the window before leaning back on the pillows. “What? I have no authority here anymore. Not my problem,” he muttered but he was just trying to wind me up. This was very much his business and he knew it. Dante was mad because I wasn’t letting him have the first and last say anymore.

“Hey,” I said, “You’re acting like a child. You know I need your help. You know Austin needs your help.”

Dante lazily scrolled down his screen with his finger and put an arm behind his head. “Oh yeah? I’ll give help when what I say is respected. I don’t like that their dad’s a hunter. How much can you trust them?”

“I trust them.”

Dante didn’t like that answer. He locked his phone in a split second and let it fall on the sheets. With an exasperated sigh, he said, “Look, I don’t have much to offer in terms of help or protection or any of the crazy stuff they were requesting of me anyways. We have nothing to lose now by helping or not helping but they have their lives. I’m sure if Lay finds out what they’re doing, he won’t like them much either. They should know best that Lay holds a mean grudge so when he finds out what they’ve done, it’ll be their turn and without us they have no one on their side. They better not be toying with us or I can sense even more bloodshed by the end of the year. And please tell me you don’t believe it’s just a huge coincidence that I contacted Lay – who apparently already knew everything thanks to those two.”

My face fell as I realised Sabitha and Samira’s pitiful situation. They were stuck in a tight spot, no matter how they explained it to us or not. They were trying to protect themselves and their dad who all faced their own unique problem. “That just means we have an even bigger obligation to make sure no one hurts them or their family,” I said, “especially not Lay. He’s done enough.”

Dante shook his head as his eyes sunk shut. “When I called up Lay looking for leads and sightings those few months ago, Lay already knew every detail before I explained myself. He knew already, he knew our vulnerabilities and that’s because of those two. He may have wanted to help in his own twisted way originally but I bet it would never have ended up this way if not for them.”

“No,” I argued, “You told me you contacted Lay because he was close to the most recent sighting of Austin.” But, as soon as the words left my mouth, I realised the trash I was speaking.

Dante looked so done. “Exactly. If Austin has been in Mateo this whole time, how was he ever spotted in Colorado? Lay said those exact words. He said Austin was spotted near his pack.”

So, I thought, the girls had some part in luring us out of Mateo and towards them… But for what reason? I was sure there had to be a rational explanation, but right now there were none.

“If I thought you wouldn’t kill me for it, I’d kick those two traitors out the house right now,” Dante raged as he clenched his hands together.

I reached out and patted his shoulder “Hey, don’t be rash. I do truly trust them and they’ll be my responsibility should anything weird happen. We’ll ask them tomorrow,” I said as I glanced out the window and noticed the steady falling darkness.

Dante couldn’t calm though, not when he was jumping to several clashing conclusions. “You’re right, we have to wait and see how they explain themselves, but the way it’s looking is that a lot of this is their fault. You can’t deny that.”

For a second I thought about it. No, Dante was right there too. It was true, but I knew there had to be a less sinister explanation. “They couldn’t have predicted that Lay would do what he done.” Before he could fight back, I leaned forward and hugged him. “But let’s not think about that right now,” I said, “I just want to be here right now with you.”

I couldn’t see his face as he leaned back against the pillows with my arms wrapped around his neck. Sighing loudly, his breathing began to steady and settle. For many moments we left it at that. Dante began to stroke my hair.

“I’d never have said this before, but I can’t help but wonder what it’d be like if we met under different circumstances,” Dante said quietly as he reached out towards the bed side table and switched off the lamp, plummeting us into darkness.

In the dark, his hand entwined with mine and I contemplated what he said. “Different how?” I replied.

“Well,” he began, “I supposed I mean what if we met as humans? Or we met because we quite simply bumped into each other? What if I didn’t bite you out in the forest that night and I got a chance to say hello first?”

A laugh forced its way through my body as I imagined those scenarios. “Let me debunk those for you – the first is physically impossible, but a nice thought Mr. Wolf, and we would never have bumped into each other because how many times did you ever venture into town before you met me? You didn’t even go to school. I suppose the last one would have been nice though – typically greetings come first but what would we be if we were anything but unconventional? And was it necessary to scare me half to death when you did?” I laughed about it now but it was a serious thing for a while. The memory was a hard one – the time I did actually believe I was going to be attacked and mauled to death the same way my father nearly was.

“I’m sorry,” he said. I twisted uncomfortably to look up at him and laid eyes on the dark shadow of his face. “You know by now how unreasonable our wolves can be when they’re angry, and boy was I angry when I realised who you were and who you were living with. No, angry is an understatement.”

I rolled my eyes and slapped his arm. “You keep exaggerating.”

I felt him slide down from leaning against the headboard, adjusting where we lay until his breathing fanned over my face. “I might like to exaggerate but there was no exaggeration there.”

“You need to apologise to my dad,” I suddenly said between a moments of silence. When Dante didn’t reply, I explained, “for what one of your wolves done. One of your wolves turned my father and now he’s paying the price.”

Dante nodded in understanding. “Of course. I only regret that I never found out who actually bit him. Unfortunately there’s no way to trace that. And I hate to admit more of the likely candidates have been killed or fled in the past few months.”

I nudged him gently. “Stop it with the doom and gloom. Be happy with what you still have.”

I could almost hear Dante’s smile as he bundled me blindly in his arms until we both lay on our sides. His lips pressed softly on my nose as his hands slid over my slightly damp hair before he whispered sweetly in my ear, “Even if all I had in this world was you, I’d still be the happiest man alive.”

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