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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7. Chapter 7

“Samira and Sabitha are on their way,” I said as we both quickly packed our stuff in the back of the car.

Dante shook his head as he quickly shoved another bag into the backseat. “Tell them not to come. We shouldn’t be trusting anyone right now.”

“Too late,” I said, “They text me they were leaving at least half an hour ago.”

Dante paused and ran a hand through his dirty blonde hair in frustration, before wiping his arm across his sweating forehead. “Call them and tell them to turn back.”

I could understand his frustration completely, but they weren’t about to turn back now. I was betting they were already half way here. “Dante, they’ll be here in under half an hour,” I said as I laid a hand on his shoulder, hoping it would somehow reassure him.

He didn’t respond to the small action and walked off in the direction of Wanda’s little office. “Are we going to tell her we’re leaving? She’ll be worried if we don’t,” I called after him.

He didn’t turn around to look back as he spoke, but he visibly agreed with me and arrived within one step of the door frame. Dante reached with a clenched hand to knock. When she didn’t answer, Dante knocked again.

Minutes passed and no answer. “Maybe no one’s in,” I offered. I looked around though that she had no reason to be gone – she ran a motel, she had to be here. The sign in her window still read ‘open’. She seemed like a bit of a security nut, so it seemed totally out of character to leave the motel for even a moment especially considering her special guests.

Dante shook his head. “I doubt she’s went somewhere.”

I doubted it too, but what other explanation was there?

Dante’s hand suddenly reached for the door knob, and with only a slight turn the door swung open all by itself as if welcoming him in. “She’d never leave it unlocked,” he said, saying exactly what I was thinking. I remembered the trolley of laptops displaying camera feeds from all over the motel. Wanda didn’t invest in CCTV to just go about leaving her door unlocked.

We both taken a few steps in, making sure not to invade too much of her privacy. She could have been in the shower, she could have been out for all we knew. I said to Dante, “We should leave a note.”

Dante nodded as he stepped towards the small kitchen island and reached for a notepad and pen lying conveniently in front of us. He scribbled down a few sentences as quick as possible, folded it, and cleared a space on the bunker to lie it flat on. Just to make sure she saw it in between the chaos of her home.

“And she has my number if she has any questions,” he said as he retreated away from the centre of the room, taking me in tow towards the door.

A feeling in the back of my head was telling me something wasn’t right. I could see Dante felt it too but he didn’t try and express it in words. I couldn’t blame him. “Dante…” I mumbled as I stood as stubborn as a mule, feeling the tug of his hand on my jumper.

He held the door frame with the other arm. “We need to leave now, Riley,” he said quietly, shifting his gaze around.

I felt beyond uneasy. It wasn’t right – something wasn’t right. Wanda wasn’t here, so where could she be? Why did I even care?

“I think we should hang around a little longer, Dante… I mean, something feels strange,” I said, my thoughts rushing out my mouth.

“Everything feels strange, Riley! Just hurry up before something really does go wrong.” His hand fell away from my jumper and latched onto my hand, giving me a firm tug towards him but I didn’t budge.

“No, Dante, let me go!” I said as I pulled my arm towards myself, immediately sending me off balance. As he released my arm I fell backwards into the heap of mess and clutter Wanda had hoarded over the years in the small, tight room she appeared to live in. My back parted it like the red sea until I hit the floor with a loud thump. Dante’s expression suddenly changed, his eyes fixated behind me.

“Dante, I’m going to kill you-,” I began to say when curiosity killed the cat and I glanced unsuspectingly over my shoulder. Just through the heap of mess you could see Wanda’s hand, frail and pale, only visible because I’d shifted some of the junk.

“Is that-,” I began to say as I fumbled to get up. Dante’s hand reached again, prying me away but this time I didn’t struggle. I fell into his side and tried to burry away my face.

Dante audibly gulped. “-Wanda.” He finished for me.

I felt my hand reach up and wrap around Dante’s arm, gripping him painfully to feel protected. We both couldn’t see her face.

“Do you think…?” I asked, not wanting to finish off that sentence.

Dante gently moved me from in front to behind his body, using himself like a shield as if he didn’t believe we were safe here. “Go to the car, Riley. Lock the doors. I’ll check Wanda over,” he said as if I needed telling. “You don’t need to see this.”

***

Dante sped off out the motel car park as fast as he could five minutes after I had. Whatever he saw after he sent me to the car I selfishly didn’t want to know and therefore didn’t ask. Ultimately, though, I wanted to know that she wasn’t dead.

I was scared I knew that answer already. It had seem pretty obvious, and if she were okay we’d have probably stuck around.

“Is she…?” I asked him amidst the deafening silence of the car.

Dante nodded as he drummed his fingers nervously on the wheel. “Seemed that way. I tried not to pry much, you know, in case there’s an investigation, but she certainly wasn’t here with us.” His leg began to bounce dangerously as he lowered it against the pedal to speed up the car. “It’s still a concern though. Werewolves don’t want our bodies in the hands of humans in case they notice the difference between us and them.”

“How did you know if you didn’t touch her?” I asked quietly.

Dante sighed. “The hunters poison must be leaving my system – my hearing and sense of smell are getting a lot better and I can assure you – she didn’t smell or sound alive.”

His comment made me feel sick to the stomach. I considered asking him to pull over so I could step out and have a breath of fresh air but then I was scared that those who came and hurt Wanda would come and hurt us. Wanda should never have been in any danger.

“Where are we going?” I asked when I realised Wanda was our last and only lead in any of this on our path towards finding Austin. We couldn’t go back home when what was left of our pack had turned against us, and we couldn’t turn back to Lay when he’d ran to join them.

Dante’s face contorted as if he’d just realised we’d been driving for half an hour with no plan in mind.

When I realised what his face meant, I sighed and tilted my head back into the head rest. “Dante!” I groaned, frustrated with both him and everything else. “We’ll run out of gas, you know. We don’t have a lot of money. We need to save all that we can and driving in a random direction in the middle of nowhere, Colorado, doesn’t sound like a good plan,” I yelled. “Plus we need to find somewhere to stop to meet with Sabitha and Samira.”

“Fine!” He replied just as frustrated as I was, redness spreading upwards from under his collar. He suddenly turned the wheel to the left and hastily pulled onto the edge of the road and slammed on the breaks. “Let’s wait for them here,” He said, leaning back and crossing his arms. I glanced about and couldn’t see any car on the long stretch of outback.

I groaned in pain from the sudden jolt of the car but he didn’t seem to care. I mustered the dirtiest look in me – not that he saw – and got out the car with as much noise and drama as I could. We were both so stupid!

I marched over to a close layby that Dante had disregarded completely when he’d mounted the roadside a few meters before and sat myself on the properly kerbed road. He was still in the car, pissed off at me like I was at him. He’s an alpha, I muttered in my head, and alphas shouldn’t be so careless. Then again, I reasoned, that was perhaps expecting too much of a near twenty year old who never asked for any of this.

Not an alpha for much longer, I sourly thought with a bleak reminder of what was happening back home. A part inside me with the flaming anger and confrontational habits of my wolf growled with the thought and ordered me to go back to Dante and make sure he knew exactly how we felt. That we needed to protect not only the few remaining pack members but ourselves and our lineage.

There wasn’t even an heir to the Bancroft pack other than Dante to ensure nothing terrible would happen to them in the event that Dante or possibly I was killed. Dante could die, and Bancroft would seize to exist.

I peered back at our truck and he still sat there, unresponsive to the world.

It’s just stress, I told myself. He was bound to be stressed considering all that’d happened since his father’s death and everything else I’d set off like a line of dominoes. What’s next? I wondered, briefly, if Dante was ever different as a person… Back when the only stress he had to deal with was his pack’s cold war with Dimera

I kind of hoped he’d go back to the Dante I knew briefly – care free, sarcastic, and fun. While he was perfect any way he was, he clearly wasn’t benefiting from his new circumstance. This was ruining him. I was ruining him. Less than six months could change a lot.

Time flies when you’re seventeen and living in a world you’d never opened your eyes to before.

Then my thoughts wandered to my father; how was he? I hadn’t heard from him since when I’d last properly seen Austin and his father. He was probably living it up with the Dimera’s. Or maybe not – he was, after all, the father of the girl who’d essentially destroyed the Dimera pack – the pack that was now missing their only heir and had one mess of an alpha family.

Had he finally went home and spoke to my mom? If he hadn’t, had he ever went out in town and watched mom from afar? Did he still love or miss her?

I wanted so badly to ask him… Somehow, but I knew better than getting involved with Dimera even if he was my father. Especially now. The time would come that I’d see him again, and also in the same time I’d be able to figure out how I’d tell my mom about my life now. That was another hurdle I had to jump.

Interrupting me from my daze, I heard a car in the distance. The road had been quiet for a while, and I wondered briefly if it were Sabitha and Samira using their werewolf senses to trace out path once they latched onto it.

I got up and squinted at the black car in the distance. It doesn’t look like their car, I thought. Straying onto the edge of the road from the layby, I squinted further as it approached. Behind me, the car door slammed telling me Dante had finally quit his mood and had come to talk.

The black car’s figure became clearer and I soon realised it wasn’t familiar. It began to slow down, and as it did my heartbeat quickened, taking back my steps.

“What is it?” Dante asked as he fell in beside me.

Still a little peeved, I raised an obnoxious eyebrow and pointedly looked at the car. “I thought it was Sabitha and Samira, but that’s not their car,” I said, confident it wasn’t theirs. They’d shown me their car – it was a dark green, small thing.

Dante shrugged, his shirt riding up his long torso. “Could have borrowed it from someone?”

“I doubt that.”

Meters from our car their came to a stop, straddling the middle of the road. A visible gust of wind breezed past for a split second, wafting with it the scent of whoever was in that car. “Definitely not Sabitha and Samira,” Dante grumbled quietly.

Becoming confused, I watched two suited men open the doors on either side of the car and exit the vehicle, the windows tinted dark. In an instant I realised who they were, their faces and forms familiar. The hunters from the motel, I was sure of it. My mind screamed murderer at them – they were the only obvious suspects of killing Wanda.

Dante reached out and linked his hand with mine and gave me a reassuring squeeze. “They won’t hurt us,” he gently whispered, his eyes never leaving the slowly approaching men, not ten meters from us.

I would have replied if not for the sudden crack of metal on metal, drawing attention to the holster on their belts showing off modified looking guns.

Frightened, I took a sudden step back without Dante.

The short stubby one smiled. “You guys were at the motel, right, just off the back of this road?” he innocently asked. The lankier one nodded along.

Dante looked at me from the corner of his eyes before turning his attention back on them and nodded too, playing ignorant as to who each other were. “That’s right.”

The shorter one began to approach again. “We were wondering if you knew the way to Jamestown. We’re on our way there – took a bit of a detour and got lost.” He smiled pleasantly at but beneath that smile were bad thoughts.

Of course, both of us knew something wasn’t right. Asking us for directions while they clutched guns ready for a showdown after killing a friend? Of course something was going wrong here. And they were telling us where they were headed.

Dante awkwardly tried to back out of the situation. “Ah, we’re not from around here, guys. Maybe if you head back into town and ask the motel owner the way, she’ll know.” But she was dead, I thought, and they knew she was dead too.

The two men looked at each other and grinned.

Dante pulled me closer to his side and casually tried to pull me backwards with him as the other two were distracted.

The lanky one decided to speak up. “Come on, you can’t leave us stranded out here.” An eerie grin planted itself on his face.

Dante laughed nervously. “Come on, boys, you’re old enough to sort yourselves out,” he said, with a somewhat poor attempt at humour.

Still greatly aware of the large modified shot guns by their sides now planted firmly in their hands, I began to tremble.

“You can’t leave just yet,” The taller one pressed, his hand suddenly up in the air pointing the gun at us from a distance. “We were having a friendly conversation. You know, we’d be rewarded well if we took you with us to Jamestown.”

Slowly his thumb slid up the side of the gun and the lump of metal emitted a crack. I found it hard to keep myself by Dante’s side, tempted to slip behind him and hide. Shaking the selfish thoughts away, I began to tremble.

“Go. To the car,” Dante muttered as they ebbed closed, his lips barely moving.

Panicked, I asked, “You’re coming too, right?”

“I’ll be right behind you. Go!” he pressed a little louder as the first shot came past us and splintered a tree. My legs moved faster than I thought they’d ever before, Dante not far behind me.

Shots flew about not once hitting either of us in what could only be luck. Maybe they didn’t want us dead, maybe this was more of their games because they’d managed to kill Wanda no problem. I was in the car before I knew it as a bullet went straight through the centre of the windscreen, exiting through the back. The glass had become cracked and hard to see through as Dante stepped on the gas. Barely able to see the road, shots echoed out behind us but faded as we got further away.

We both struggled to tell the way as we taken random turns into territory we weren’t familiar with. “It’s this way!” I yelled frantically, pointing to a small backroad ahead peeking out between thick trees and bushes.

“What’s this way?” He asked, ducking slightly as he drove to see out the windscreen past the cracks. I was scared soon it’d collapse completely and cut us both. The car sharply turned at speeds I was sure weren’t legal.

“I actually happened to prepare and looked at a map. The backroad takes you out through a nearby city. About two hours away.”

He looked confused. “I thought we were waiting on Sabitha and Samira?” he asked.

I shook my head. “Waiting after what just happened? Screw that, we’re out of here.”

***

We’d driven until we ran out of gas, conveniently near a gas station at the entrance of the small city we were going to be stopping off in.

Dante got out the car as we barely managed it into the station and knocked on the window after looking around for a few minutes. I rolled down the window and prompted him on.

“You don’t happen to have a few dollars on you?” he asked.

I sighed and leaned to the side to reach for my pocket. I pulled out a few twenties. Literally all the money to my name. “You can’t use your card?” I asked. “Won’t it make sense to withdraw all the money from your account before the Lay gains control of not only your people but also your funds?”

Dante suddenly looked alarmed. “Oh shit!” he dashed off to the main building beside the gas station to probably withdraw all he could. That would have been the first thing on my to-do list if I were him, but unfortunately for him we didn’t share the same logic.

I used the time to call Sabitha and Samira. If they’d passed the road we were shot on earlier, they’d smell both our scents if they were carefully searching. They’d know what went down with both hunter smells and the likely physical evidence left behind. They were already aware we’d be in some trouble though.

Not even two rings in, one of them picked up. “Riley? Where the hell are you?”

“Can’t talk for long but we got in some trouble and had to head out as fast as we could. Not sure where we are but I’ll make sure Dante updates you.”

It was Samira on the phone. “No need for that, your scents stick out like a sore thumb to any local wolf. We can follow it for the next twenty four hours before it fades out. We checked with the motel you gave me to address to and no one was at the main desk. Place appeared to be closed. We followed your scents for maybe twenty minutes before we came across silver bullets on the road and the horrid smell of hunters.”

“I told you, you should have stayed home,” I mumbled at the two girls who were being selflessly, stupidly, and suspiciously helpful.

“We’re back on it now, anyways. Been driving for maybe twenty minutes and we’ll catch up with you soon. Don’t stay on the road for too long, hear me?” she demanded.

I nodded, but realised she couldn’t hear me. “We were thinking of camping out in our car somewhere quiet. If we’re sleeping when you find us, just wake us. Wait till you see our car…”

“When I saw smashed glass and silver bullets, Riley, I didn’t expect the car to be in all that great a condition. How haven’t you been pulled over?” She asked.

“We’ve been keeping to backroads. Virtually no one around. Just had to stop at a gas station to fill up so we can pull over somewhere for the night,” I said, noticing the considerably darker skies and realised how late it was. “We’ll be riding with you, I’m afraid. Our car is scrap.”

“No problem! Hey, I should go now. Phones going to die and have no way to charge it. I’ll phone you later if anything happens. Wish you guys luck!” She hung up just in time for Dante’s return. He looked sour.

When he got in the car, he said, “They either emptied my account or I have less money than I thought. I have literally fifty dollars and not a penny more. And Ethan hasn’t put in the money he said he would, which I expected after what happened on the phone.”

“I have three twenties?” I offered him with a reassuring smile. “You at least got gas, right?”

He smiled just a little back. “Yeah, enough to get us going for a few miles, twenty dollars down. So really, I only have thirty.” He reached into his pocket and grabbed the twenty and ten. He passed them to me. “Here, you be the accountant.”

I laughed as he started up the car.

“Oh, yeah. I asked while inside. There’s a campsite close by. We can stay there for the night.”

“Great! What else is it we have to do before we sleep? We’re more or less finished for today, right?”

He sighed, one hand on the wheel as he pulled out the station. He grimly looked over at me and said, “We’ll never be finished.”

 

 

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