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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15. Chapter 15

Our car crawled as slow as it could without raising any suspicion past Gary and Bianca’s old house, the two no longer in town. I lingered on the thought of Bianca and considered for a moment that she and I might be able to reconcile if we saw each other again. It sounded great, and made me smile for just a moment.

We wouldn’t stop in front of their yard so we had to keep going, and there were only so many times our car could drive past without someone noticing, because I had no doubt someone would – whether a do-good neighbour who was concerned for the residents of Gary’s home or even a hunter who was on the lookout for anything suspicious.

Sabitha and Samira were in the back of our car – no, correction, in the back of their car we’d been using for a while now. Sabitha and Samira had left the car they’d stolen from Lay’s pack back in my drive. Even as we drove through town the next day, Dante still hadn’t forgiven them despite the thrashing of questions he’d launched upon them earlier.

I thought back to just that morning when Dante came face to face with the two girls, sleepy faced and not expectant.

~

“You,” Dante growled a few hours earlier. “We need to talk.” He purposely grabbed one of their arms hoping the other would follow and sat them both down as he stood above them. Everything seemed to escalate from there.

Sabitha and Samira looked at each other like they had no idea. I could believe that they didn’t because as far as they were concerned they’d spilled everything last night and we’d resolved it all.

“Just who exactly spotted Austin down in Colorado? Who was the reason we went to meet Lay in the first place?”

The two girls looked nervously at each other.

~

The answer had been simpler than Dante was expecting, and it was honest enough for him to believe.

It was them. Well… Them and Lay. The girls had worked together to plant false information that Austin was being taken through Colorado and Lay had believed it on their word alone. Lay spread the word to Dante, as the girls were hoping, and soon enough we arrived to see for ourselves.

~

“We’re really sorry,” Sabitha begged straight away as tears welled in her eyes, “I mean, it was the only way at the time – we didn’t know if we could trust you but both my sister and I knew we couldn’t save our dad without the help of Dante and the Wolves of Mateo. We knew once you found Austin you’d kill any hunter in sight. We needed to meet you in our own territory before we ventured into yours. We created the perfect scenario and lured you here. We didn’t mean to not tell you for so long.”

~

Dante was mad, understandably. He felt like he’d been used. He of course made sure they knew that we nearly died several times during our escapade in Colorado with the Santoro wolves and they apologised profusely and this had continued for multiple hours.

In the end, I had to tell Dante to back off.

Our car pulled back up in my yard and Sabitha and Samira got out from the back seats. Dante stayed still, gripping the wheel tightly before he closed his eyes and reopened them with a different emotion.

I followed his figure with my eyes as he stepped out the vehicle and onto my porch, meeting Megan by the door who I hadn’t spotted right until that moment.

“Megan!” I shouted in her direction with a wave as I climbed out the vehicle.

She smiled broadly as she rushed down the steps toward me. Hugging for a brief second, she pulled away and said, “How are you doing? You’re looking great,” she complimented.

I glanced down at myself to see exactly what she meant but found nothing. “Well, I feel as good as I look I guess,” I replied.

“Great,” Megan replied just before she delivered a sharp painful slap to the exposed flesh of my arm. Even Dante, on the porch, turned back to see what the noise was.

The pain didn’t register until a few seconds later when I let out a harsh screech as my flesh throbbed in pain – a clear red imprint of her hand forming at the point of contact. “What the hell was that for?”

Megan took a step back as she raised her hand and studied her nails like she didn’t have a care in the world. “Sorry, Ben asked me to.”

“He asked you to hit a girl?” I mocked, cradling the red flesh.

Megan shook her head as she spun away. “No, he asked me to hit you. But now we’ve got that out the way, let’s go inside and eat because boy am I starving.” She pranced away inside through the open door, ignoring Dante in the process. Okay, so maybe she wasn’t completely over it.

Dante simply scowled and said nothing as we made our way into my busting house filled with more life than it’d ever been before. My mom was making lunch and I could see her form every few seconds cross the path of the door directly in front of us, flying back and forth between different tasks. To our left in the living room, Dante’s mom was lounging in front of the TV with a wine glass in her hand.

“Mom,” Dante greeted, warily approaching her as if to test the water and planted a quick kiss on his mom’s cheek.

His mom took a large gulp of the white wine in her glass and smiled broadly up at her son. “Dante,” she suddenly said, “how about we reform all the members we sent away and form an unofficial pack. Throw a coupdetat in that Lay’s face and send him running back home if we can’t kill him first.”

Dante’s mom was full of what she thought were ingenious ideas when she was drinking.

Dante leaned back on his heel and glanced around to make sure no one else but me and his sister – who sat comfortably opposite his mom – was around to hear her. I assumed Megan was in the kitchen eating.

Before Dante could insult his mom’s intelligence, I found myself interrupting. Holding my hand up at Dante, I said, “That’s… Not a terrible idea.”

Dante looked at me like I were mad, but I couldn’t understand why. She was simply suggesting calling back all the pack members they’d sent away after the fight at Wolf Lake. They were sent away because of the danger but in some danger it wasn’t okay to just turn your back. I said exactly that to Dante.

Dante rubbed his temples in frustration. “You seem to conveniently forget that most of the Bancroft pack is made up of Women, children, and turned wolves. We need natural born – natural born wolves we don’t have because of the hunter poisons.”

I tutted at him, immediately disagreeing. “Hey, if you trained me up I could very well kick some hunter ass. I’ll hand you your own on a plate!” I watched his emotionless face before adding, “It’s extremely sexist that you believe all females are physically unable to stand alongside one of your werewolf natural-borns.” His mom visibly agreed.

Dante took a step towards me and said softly so his mom wouldn’t hear, “it’s not a lie, it’s a biological fact. Men are naturally stronger than women, and we need nothing but strength in this fight.”

I stuck my chin out in defiance and curled my lip. “We’ll just have to prove you wrong. With the right training and identifying the best defence method, everyone is as good as each other.”

He rolled his eyes once more before he stood tall, turning to his mother who sat expectantly for a reply to her suggestion of reforming the Bancroft pack – most of whom now lay in wait of news from their now unofficial alpha, Dante. “Mom, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves,” he said, “And keep in mind any pack we form won’t be a real pack. We’re not alphas anymore.”

Dante’s mom, Nina, smiled sadly. “Well if you won’t, I will.”

“You will not!” Dante shouted in frustration at his reckless mother who staggered to her feet, letting some wine fall from her glass.

His mother raised a challenging eyebrow. “Who’s going to stop me, your pack? What pack?” When Dante failed to react she laughed teasingly. “Exactly!” she shouted.

His mom left the room soon after with Dante’s sister in tow, who as of recent had taken a vicious turn against me and didn’t do anything other than growl in my presence. Dante taken little notice of this and turned away from their retreating figures so he faced the living room wall, his head sinking downwards and his hands reaching up to tangle in his hair.

“We should discuss this,” I said, “your mom isn’t wrong.”

“I know she isn’t wrong.”

That silenced us both. His mom wasn’t wrong, no, of course she wasn’t – calling all the help we could get, from even the women of the Bancroft pack was the best we could muster at the moment. I realised right then it was a matter for Dante’s pride.

“Dante,” I said gently as I approached from behind. My hand reached out and placed softly on his shoulder. “It’s hard to make sense of this situation so don’t try. Don’t think too much and let’s just go and rest for a bit, okay?” I suggested, but neither of us made the move.

Dante laughed bitterly as he pushed his figure up so he stood taller and let his other arm fall by my side. Taking my hands in his, he said, “Make sense of what? I’ve made sense of it all already – I’ve lost my pack because of two teenage girls who lured us to Colorado for their selfish gain and introduced me to my enemy. I’ve made sense of the fact I’m now pack-less and us two, we’re now rogues – one of the most feared and hated type of wolf in Mateo. I also very clearly understand that most of the people left to help us are the women from my own pack who shouldn’t have to be sent to die after I sent their husbands and fathers to die as well.”

“They wouldn’t be sent to die, they’d be fighting for the pride of those they lost and the cause,” I said.

“So in summary, sent to die,” Dante muttered.

I shook my head as I leaned into his chest. “You’re so pessimistic. It’s quite depressing, Dante. Your mom doesn’t need that. You don’t need that.”

Dante’s hands reached up and fell down my hair in soft strokes as he very softly said, “and you don’t need that either.”

I smiled softly into his chest even though he couldn’t see and settled on the silence to carry my reply. Dante wasn’t stupid – he knew what I wanted. I didn’t want more enemies, I didn’t want more death – I just wanted Austin home and with his family and to go back to him acting like he hated me and to return to Dante with his pack.

I wasn’t stupid either; I also knew what Dante wanted. He couldn’t care less about Austin, but he wanted my happiness and peace to fall over the wolves of Mateo… and that was hopeless without the return of his rival.

Then, disturbing our thoughts, was a loud knock at the door.

Dante made a move to go out into the hall to see who it was but I made a reach for his waist before he got too far away. “Don’t. My mom will get it,” I said as my arm encircled his waist.

Dante smiled down at me as we heard my mom walk down the hall towards the door before he suddenly tensed. His nose twitched. It would have been funny if not for what it could mean. “Do you smell that?” Dante asked, although the question was lost on me when I had limited scent ability. As I tried to latch onto the scent Dante had, I could in fact sense something off.

Every human had a scent, but in general they would smell rather… human. A wolf on the other hand, no matter the pack, would always smell grittier and deeper. A distinctive difference that was obvious enough for me to sense. The difference between packs, however, was more a learning curve.

“It’s,” Dante began to say, “It smells like a Dimera.”

My eyes widened as I thought of who it could possibly be. It couldn’t be Mr. or Mrs. Dimera because they’d now assume the scent of a rogue – a particularly repelling scent – so that could limit who it might be to very few people. Megan was already in the house. She wasn’t at the door. Ben wouldn’t visit because he was now alpha and probably hated us. That left only one other possibility, one other hope.

“James!?” my mom said loud enough for us to hear, calling my dad’s real name.

***

Sitting at the top of the stairs, I listened in on my parents as if I were a little girl again who wanted to hear the adults talk. It was once exhilarating to hear words they didn’t want me to hear – usually about family troubles and other such things but now I didn’t identify with those emotions. This wasn’t exhilarating, this was upsetting.

Behind me, the guest room light illuminated the hall alerting me that Sabitha and Samira were inside. I couldn’t cry here in case they heard me, but another part of me didn’t want to care.

Dante was waiting in my room, giving me the much needed space.

“I’m sorry,” my dad said for what could have been the tenth time since he’d stepped through that door.

My mom cursed at him as something smashed. I knew things wouldn’t be well between them, I knew that – but I had hoped that they’d still be happy to see each other.

“Do you know how long I waited for you? I had hoped for so long that you were alive that in the end I hoped you were dead because it just became too hard to imagine you out there somewhere, possibly in danger, or possibly living a new life. They never found your body so I was stuck here. Do you know how mad I was when I found out you’d been in town since day one? That you were never more than ten minutes away from me!” my mom raged, her voice cracking between words.

“I’ve already told you, I’m sorry-,” my dad tried to say again. His eleventh apology.

“I know!” she screamed, “You’re sorry. You’re so damn sorry you got bitten by a wolf and now you’re one of them, living a secret life off in the forest with the Dimera family. Oh, those two, when I see them-.”

“Honey…”

“Stop it!” my mom screeched before I heard her retreating footsteps and then the clanking of the metal locks on our front door. The door then slammed against the wall. “Get out of my house,” she growled.

If I had the guts I’d go downstairs and tell them to knock it out, I would have. They were both frustrated, they both misunderstood the other. I couldn’t find the courage to make myself step in.

“Riley,” Dante called from behind me.

Turning in fright, I saw his face peak out from between the frame – the light from behind framing his face like a halo. What? I mouthed with my lips.

With his hands, he beckoned me towards him, a sympathetic expression on his face that told me he thought I shouldn’t subject myself to this any longer. I had no doubt he was hearing every word with his superior hearing that I hadn’t developed yet. Listening to him, I got up to my feet and marched towards him with tears welling in my eyes. Dante opened his arms to welcome me into a hug. I gladly hugged his back.

***

That morning seemed eerily calm and by eerie I meant perfect, because things in the house never seemed to ever be quite so perfect. My mom was cooking breakfast without complaining about me being ungrateful and she shown no trace of crying over dad which I had at the very least expected when I saw her for the first time that morning. In fact, she seemed notably happy.

Nina laughed at the table about something she was discussing with Amanda, and Sabitha and Samira remained and remorseful like the day before that.

My mom served us healthy amounts of toast and cereal, as well as some scrambled egg until we were all considerably stuffed. Mom hadn’t taken a single bite.

“Eat,” I urged her, but she shook both her hands in front of her body as if the food contained a disease.

“I’m not hungry,” she replied as she turned away and began to wash up, with that smile plastered falsely on her aging face.

I turned in concern to Dante who simply shrugged, noticing the same thing as me. He mouthed talk later but talking later was beginning to concern me in other ways. It was a convenient way for us all to forget the topic and drop it for when it really became a concern. It was a way for us to hide these concerns from the person in question rather than confronting them head on. That wasn’t healthy.

After breakfast, we all hopped in the car – and by we all I meant Sabitha, Samira, Dante and me. The twins had their own plans for today and with our blessings asked us to drop them off and hope for the best – they were meeting with their father for the first time in person in several years.

Dante and I could only express a certain amount of concern before we shut our mouths and let them get on with it. Whether they met their father shouldn’t have been any of our concern, and I reminded myself that he was supposedly a good guy, looking for a new life. I’d have maybe been concerned if they were worried but they weren’t. In fact, they both seemed pleasantly ecstatic.

I had to remind Dante of where he was entitled to take a stand and between Sabitha, Samira, and their father wasn’t one of those places.

Dante grudgingly drove us all down the street until we rolled up outside the sole diner in town – the very one I’d visited with Bianca the day after my accident with Austin at Wolf Lake. It was also the same one I’d been at with Dante when we first met the Thorns face to face – Kelly and her daughter Hilary.

This place didn’t hold fond memories anymore.

“Be safe,” I called at them both, but they’d already slammed the doors as soon as I opened my mouth. I laughed quietly before Dante and I also got out the car and I called Samira’s name. I tossed her the keys I’d snatched from Dante. “You guys take the car back – it’s your car after all,” I said.

Samira smiled softly as she gripped the keys in her palm. “Thank, Riley. We owe you one!”

I couldn’t help but think it were the opposite.

Dante nudged my side when they both vanished. He looked annoyed. “You gave them the car,” he simply said.

I pursed my lips at him and nodded my head. “Uh-huh, it’s their car.”

“How are we going to get home?”

I shook my head as I began walking in a straight line out of the car lot and towards the main road. “We’re not,” I shouted over my shoulder.

Dante’s expression morphed into annoyance as he caught up with me. Gripping my arm, he didn’t try to stop me but instead lagged behind and said, “What have you been planning now? Do you really not want to consult me on anything?”

No, I thought, I didn’t have to consult him on everything. I hadn’t been planning anything, but when a thought strikes I needed to act on it. Right now, many thoughts were turning. Now was the time, now thing needed to get happening. I trusted the girls were telling the truth on Austin’s location. “Dante, how well do you know the Mateo forests?” I asked as we crossed the road towards the treeline.

Dante looked confused as he struggled to keep up. “We can’t go in here – it’s Dimera territory as soon as we enter the forest. We don’t have permission.”

I spat a laugh as I stuck a foot into the shrubs from the sidewalk. “Since when have you cared?”

Dante shook his head. I knew I was being reckless but this needed to end sooner or later and this was undoubtedly being stretched out because of rules and restrictions we didn’t even need to care about. “I don’t care…” Dante muttered in reply.

“Great, we’re going to see Ben,” I said as Dante let me drag him into the darkness of the treeline. I thought how funny it might look to a human, seeing us walk straight into the trees after parking up outside the diner. Were we strange people? No, just werewolves.

“What, why?”

I smiled softly as I trampled on the bushes and began to walk faster. “Because,” I replied, “We can’t storm the hunter’s house without some backup in case something goes wrong.”

I quickly glanced over my shoulder to see Dante staring at me like I had gone crazy.

I probably had, and it was only a miracle it hadn’t happened sooner.

 

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