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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8. Chapter 8

Later on into the night we were woken by a light knocking on the car window. Groggily, my eyes opened and there through the glass stood Sabitha and Samira, looking tired and worried.

Squinting, I peered at the illuminated dashboard and checked the time. 3 AM. We’d barely had 3 hours sleep. Dante beside me was still sound asleep. He was probably exhausted. I nudged him gently as I responded to the two girls behind the glass with a small but tired smile.

“Dante, Sabitha and Samira are finally here,” I said, “Wake up.”

He groaned to himself and tried to roll over, but his forehead met with the side of the door and his eyes shot open. “I hate this,” he muttered to himself.

I reached over him and grabbed the door handle. Pulling it, the door swung open letting in a gust of cold night air. We both visibly shivered.

“We’re so sorry we’re both so late. There was some traffic on the main route and we were stuck for a while, then we lost your scent because of a diversion and-,” Samira tried to explain, but Dante shut her up.

“I can’t process any of this,” he mumbled, his hand roughly wiping the sleep from his eyes.

My hand reached out and grabbed his own. “Just go back to sleep. We’re not leaving for a few days,” I said, suddenly feeling mean for waking him up when he could have heard all this after some good sleep.

He looked confused for a few seconds. “Why?” He asked, eyes squinted.

He was obviously so exhausted that he’d forgotten. “It’s the full moon tomorrow.” It had great timing, a full moon right in the middle of us trying to chase the hunters. I knew it’d set us back a day, unless we wanted to pursue the journey in wolf form and I knew that wasn’t the best idea for me – especially when I couldn’t control my wolf as well as Dante in this early stage. I even struggled to remember as a human what happened as a wolf.

“Oh,” Dante said. “I forgot.”

It was hard to forget, especially when that nagging feeling of your wolf grew more and more with even second closer to the full moon that’d pull our wolves from our human shells. Lifting my hand to Dante’s head, I realised he was a little warm.

“Sleep,” I said.

He didn’t argue much as he laid back and closed his eyes. Leaving him to himself, I got out the car and arrived beside Sabitha and Samira who’d shut Dante’s door for me.

“Any updates?” I asked as soon as I thought we were in a quiet place, close to their car that was on the quieter end of the camp site.

Samira shook her head. “Not really, no. Lay doesn’t even know we’ve left his pack, but he wouldn’t would he with him now being in Mateo?” She paused for a moment and added, “He’s definitely there now. He was updating his family right until we left for good, so we got to hear most of it. Ethan apparently didn’t put up much of a fight – something about hating what Dante was doing to the Bancroft pack.”

I sighed exhaustedly. “I don’t even really understand what’s going on. Lay’s decided to get petty revenge on Dante because Dante didn’t want to listen to him?”

Sabitha shrugged. “Lay realised he didn’t like Dante and thinks he’s helping the world out by helping the Bancroft pack reform, and by reform we mean getting a new alpha.”

“But- But Dante’s the alpha. As far as I’ve been led to believe, once the alpha family is dead the pack members are taken on by other packs or become Rogue. If Lay wants to achieve anything, he has to kill Dante first and even then it’s breaking wolf law. He should be chasing Dante and not his pack.”

Samira sadly smiled. “That’s where you’re wrong. What do you think Lay’s doing in Mateo, Riley? He’s of Alpha Blood, and if he’s careful about it, he can easily transfer those alpha powers to whoever is most convenient. If Lay pushes Dante out of being Bancroft alpha, he’s achieved hurting Dante and that’s all he’s really looking to do. He doesn’t actually want the Bancroft pack.”

“That’s not possible is it, being able to push Dante out of alpha position because Lay has alpha blood?” I asked. “Half of our pack members aren’t even in Mateo right now. Dante is really only alpha by name right now.”

Sabitha and Samira looked at each other, before one of them replied, “It’s possible, transferring your alpha powers. Which is why alphas don’t turn humans because they’ll become an alpha, but if an alpha bites a pack werewolf with intention of transferring alpha, then that’ll also happen and their current alpha will be removed. Law doesn’t cover it much if at all because it’s so taboo.”

I spat a little as I thought about it. “Laws? What laws? It might as well just be threats whispered saying we can all hurt each other for no particular reason whenever we want, and just claim we were enforcing ‘the laws’.” You could tell I didn’t like them. The bitter thought of laws sat uncomfortably in my head clouded in the confusion of what was this conversation.

Samira smirked. “Well, there’s that too. But none of those laws specify anything to do with another alpha releasing another pack from their alpha, because it’s unheard of. Taboo, as I said. But it can be done, it’s just no one really dares do it so I guess it never crosses anyone’s mind?”

“So what are you both implying?” I asked, “That’s Lay’s going to bite a Bancroft werewolf, transfer his alpha powers, and that’ll release Dante and his family of ‘alpha’?”

The two girls fell quiet for a moment, thinking together how they could explain what was revealing itself to be a very complicated process.

Sabitha crossed her arms and flicked absentmindedly at her sleeve. “The alpha can initiate what’s officially known as a blood transfer, whether through biting or simply mixing bloods. It’s never really happened because it’s considered really wrong but if Lay cut his hand and cut, say, a random member of Bancroft pack, transferring even the tiniest of his blood onto his open wound with intention to transfer alpha… They become a true blood alpha and inherit the pack they belonged to. The old alpha is pushed out because there can only be one alpha and the pack dynamic automatically assumes the new alpha to be the primary leader. The old alpha will become a regular wolf as if they never had alpha blood and won’t be able to create a new pack. I don’t remember if they remain part of their old pack or not but that’s not important.”

I was reminded of the tradition alphas had of biting human male mates of werewolf females to make them werewolves. That obviously didn’t turn the human males into alphas because it was an exception to the rule that if alphas bit random humans, the human would become a rogue with the power to form a pack. That scenario made me realise that intention was key in this process being explained – the alpha had to have intention of passing their alpha powers when biting a pre-existing werewolf, otherwise alpha’s would never be allowed to attack anyone at all. An alpha’s bite would be a blessing.

Samira added onto that, as the cog wheels in her head turned. “Because Lay doesn’t want to take the Bancroft pack, he wouldn’t be bothered with convincing Bancroft members to jump ship and join him like he might have attempted before. He just wants to hurt Dante, plain and simple. He holds a mean grudge.”

I shook my head in thought and slid my hand up my face. “This makes no sense for Lay to do. Lay achieves nothing, he doesn’t get stronger, and he doesn’t get anything-.”

Samira nodded. “Exactly. He’s just that sort of person.”

I muttered under my breath, “And to think I actually sort of liked him in the beginning.” I wondered in my head who the lucky one would be – who would Lay make the new alpha of Bancroft if he really did do as the two girls were predicting? It had to be Ethan. There was really no Bancroft members left in Mateo apart from him with any real significance.

We all began walking around trying to run off the anger – or at least, that’s what I was doing. Thoughts turned through the 3AM darkness, pushing me to all levels of crazy. Then, one thought struck me.

“The Wolf Moon, tell me about that again,” I pushed.

“You mean with the hunters?” Samira asked. These girls seemed to know about everything, reminding me of how little I knew of their origins and where they’d came from.

I nodded. “That one.”

Samira looked down at the ground and kicked some dirt. “It’s only a stupid legend. It’s not real, but that doesn’t stop the hunters from taking precautions. On the Wolf Moon, it’s said the wolf gods will grant a certain amount of werewolf children to human parents. To stop this, a sacrifice of an alpha blood is needed to trigger a period of mourning with the gods. This will bypass the Wolf Moon.”

“They don’t genuinely believe this?”

Sabitha laughed. “Oh, they do. It might only happen every couple hundred years but they’ve been counting down the days. It’s also because it only happens every couple hundred years than all the werewolves forgot about such a stupid myth. It’s like the whole, throwing salt over your shoulder with humans, or tapping wood. For them, it’s brutally killing a werewolf with a special blade to sadden our non-existent gods so they won’t bless the werewolf world.”

I shook my head in pity. “They definitely need an alpha blood, right?”

“Right.”

We paused as we came to the tree line that edged the campsite. Staring into the thick bush, none of us dared go further. “They won’t be able to use Austin if he isn’t an alpha anymore,” I thought aloud.

“But he is an alpha-,” Samira tried to say.

I stopped her. “What if someone were to transfer the alpha power in his pack? He’d be like Dante – his blood would be useless. What if Dante done a blood transfer with a random member of Dimera. Austin would become a normal wolf because the Dimera family would be pushed out.”

Samira tilted her head towards the ground and hmm-ed. She raised her hand. “That… I hadn’t thought of that…”

Sabitha laughed under her breath. “I don’t think anyone had, considering how it’s pretty taboo for an alpha of one pack to push out an alpha of another pack. We’re both pretty knowledgeable – bookworms with an interest in werewolf fact and fiction. I don’t think Dante for example would know much about a blood transfer.”

Just like that, a solution where there were none came to us. I hadn’t thought there’d be a solution to what seemed an impossible puzzle. It had just fell in our lap. We’d have to fight, and it was imminent that Austin would probably be hurt. But now if felt like it’d be over sooner.

He could be saved… Just like that.

If Lay took the Bancroft pack, both Dante and I wouldn’t become a target either for this stupid Wolf Moon. We’d be fine, we’d be free. No pack to weigh us down, no threat from hunters.

A rush of calm came over me. I released my tension with a sigh. All my worry escaped me. “Is it really… That easy?” I almost didn’t ask, scared they’d both turn around and tell me it was a joke and we were all going to die.

Sabitha pursed her lips and nodded. “They can’t use your Austin or Dante if they don’t have a pack. It’s like their alpha blood goes dormant.”

I slowly shut my eyes and nodded. “But they still have it in them. Alpha blood is alpha blood – you can’t change your blood. Are you sure this would work?”

I felt my back hit a tree as I spun to face the campsite. I could barely make out the smirk that dawned on Samira’s face. “And you didn’t think ‘humans’ could turn into wolves, but that was proven wrong. If our entire forms can change, why can’t our blood do it too? No guarantee though.”

I shook my head at the two of them as they both gained those smirking expressions, laughing quietly to each other. Little Riley knows nothing, that’s exactly what they both thought. But they were both teaching me so well.

Despite being a werewolf like the two of them, I still had a lot to learn. I felt my own wolf nodding in agreeance internally. I knew someday – years and year away – I’d be able to act like them too, knowing everything there was to known about a wolf. Someday.

I came between them and threw my arms around their shoulders. Smiling genuinely at them both, I said, “Thanks. Seriously. You girls should go home though – you’re risking a lot for us when you barely even know me.”

They both simultaneously waved it off and spoke a mile a minute themselves. I didn’t register their individual words and couldn’t stop the pit of warmth that sparked within me. Despite all the evil and wrong writhing above me, I felt safe. Somehow, I felt like there was an ending coming soon – even if I couldn’t see it yet.

***

“Hey, catch!” Dante called, a ball hurling above him quickly in my direction.

I wasn’t the most co-ordinated of people. Or at least, my pre-werewolf self. Now, I was just an uncoordinated werewolf – but at least that meant I could catch a ball every time… But not much else.

My hands shot up in the air as I ran frantically in the left most direction, jumping at the last second to swipe the ball from the air – narrowly avoiding a RV parked close by. I pulled the ball into a hug and let myself fall to the ground.

Dante approached with a hearty laugh “What happened to always landing on your feet?” he called, hands around his mouth.

I glared up at him as I rolled over and set my feet on the ground. “I don’t meow, I growl,” I muttered at him.

I could hear Sabetha’s distinct laugh in the distance followed by a howl. “Wrong animal, Bancroft,” one of them yelled over at us.

Dante threw his hand out in front of him. Without looking directly at me, he nudged his head up, pushing me to take his hand. I slowly reached up.

Hauling me to my feet, I crashed into him – ball falling from my arms and bouncing a few meters away. “Ready for tonight?” he asked as his gaze shifted up towards the sky, knowing tonight the moon would be full and beaming down on the both of us.

I sighed, stepping out of his arms. I shook my head. “No.”

He tilted his head to the side and pursed his lips. A small trace of a smile glinted in his eyes. “I think you’ll be fine. This’ll be your… eighth transformation?” He asked, pausing to make quick calculations.

I shrugged. “Something like that. At least it isn’t as painful anymore.”

Dante filled the step I’d just taken from him with a bigger one of his own. Standing this close didn’t even faze me anymore. I felt his calloused thumb slide under my chin, pulling my face towards his. “I feel bad that I’ve been there for maybe two, three of those transformations,” he muttered, “I should have been there for them all.”

I pulled my face away and with steely eyes retorted, “And whose fault was that, Dante?”

Twisting my face away, I avoided a peck on the cheek. I didn’t feel guilty at all about the fleeting sad look on his face. “Enough of this anyway,” he said as he smoothly fished his phone from his jean pocket, “I need to check in with my mom and sister. See how they’re getting on.”

“Do you know where they’re staying now?” I asked curiously, his hand sliding out of mine.

Dante unlocked the phone and began to tap the screen. “Not exactly,” he said, “but I’m assuming they’re still in Mateo. They don’t have anywhere else to go.”

My eyebrows furrowed. “They can’t stay with Touren? Not even the Dimera?”

Dante looked up from his phone with a deadpanned expression. “You think my mom of all people would allow herself to admit she needs some help? And from another pack?” He asked, incredulously. “I don’t think so.”

I raised both hands in surrender. “Just wondering. I mean, there’s very few people they could be with right now – that’s including all the packs in the area. It’s not like they’re staying with humans.”

Dante laughed. “True. I think she’d rather live with Austin’s family than live with a human.”

He walked off himself back to the destroyed car, phone to his ear. It was safe to say that car was coming nowhere with us by the time we got back on the road. The hood was dented, the screen smashed – there was no way either of us had the funds to repair it.

“Hey, mom…” I heard Dante begin, before he opened what was left of the car door, slamming it behind him sealing off his conversation from my prying ears.

Suddenly, another arm wrapped around my shoulder. “Riley,” Samira said.

“Samira,” I returned.

We both went off into the shade of a treeline and continued our conversation quietly. Sabitha joined us in talking about our lives before all this drama. Today, for once in a million years, I felt a bit normal.

“What’s life like as a human?” Samira suddenly asked as I glanced curiously in the direction of Dante, knowing I was missing my chance to spy.

I had to think for a few seconds. “Ignorant. Peaceful. Mundane. Not nearly as eventful as what life as a werewolf is playing out to be.”

Sabitha sighed contently. “Sounds nice. I could read all day… And actually go to school.”

I peered off into the sky, finding the trees shaded the sun enough for the view to be comfortable. “Austin went to school. It’s how we knew each other, originally.”

Sabitha shrugged like that face didn’t matter. “Our parents never wanted us mixing with humans,” she muttered, for the first time revealing a small detail of their absent parents. I could only imagine the hordes of humans who wouldn’t want their kids around werewolves if their true identity was revealed.

Just in the distance, Dante reappeared, distracting me from questions I wanted to ask. Strolling casually towards us, phone swinging by his side, he waved. “What’s the update on the family?” Samira asked at him.

Dante smiled. “They’re fine. They’re staying with someone in town.” He sunk down beside us, a glint to his eyes telling me he knew something I didn’t. 

I sat forward and peered at his relaxed figure backed against a tree beside Samira. “Who?”

He shrugged. “Don’t know. I’m not bothered as long as they’re safe. My mom said something about coming down here to meet me but I made sure she knew that was a terrible idea.”

I sat back with a groan, frustrated at his lack of curiosity. Dante would call his family for an update but would hang up with the same amount of information as he’d had before. Yep, sounded like Dante. Sure, I wanted to know if they were safe but I’d want to know who they were with, what they’re doing, have they spoke to anyone in the pack?

I heard a solid thwack. “Look, you’ve irritated her,” Samira muttered.

My eyes slid slowly shut. The chime of laughter tickled my ears.

***

The sunlight had begun to fade as the sky was painted in a hue of orange and red. Darkness began to fall – the campsite dark and empty, the perfect place for us to be on such an inconvenient night.

If I wasn’t there, Dante could have continued on his path searching because being such a powerful wolf he could resist the pull of the moon. I hadn’t developed that much yet, and so here I was feeling my wolf rise within with no way to stop it.

We couldn’t see the moon through the trees – and we both doubted we would at all if the clouds wouldn’t shift in the next hour or so. The sky wasn’t clear at all and in recent hours I had the feeling it’d start to pour with rain.

Dante tightened his hand around my own in a reassuring squeeze, reminding me he was there by my side. “Ready?” he asked as if he had to do this too. He didn’t. Dante had the privilege of choosing if he wanted to transform or not, but he was choosing to do it with me. My chin tilted up towards him and I felt my cheeks bunch up.

I wasn’t ready. Ever. I could have waited the entire day and not have been ready at the end of it. When would I ever look forward to a full moon, I thought?

I sniffed and looked down to my feet. “It’s not that bad. I’ll be there this time,” Dante tried to console.

Snorting, I flared my nostrils. “Easy for you to say. Nothing you say makes this any nicer.”

Inside my chest I felt the tension grow and expand out in equal intensities. Cramps began everywhere in seconds, twisting my insides out. Dante didn’t seem fazed at all – immune to the pain I felt.

His hands fell from mine and wrapped around my waist, holding me on my feet. “Nearly there,” he muttered. “Once you change, I’ll change too. I’ll wait for you,” he said with a look on his face that told me he felt the pull too – like a fat kid resisting chocolate. No years of changing could ever take that away.

Sabitha and Samira – in the same boat as Dante – watched on with concerned expression, quiet and observing but choosing not to join it. It was likely they hadn’t ever seen a transformation of a turned wolf before, and so this was fascinating to watch.

It was close. I could feel the millions of pin pricks beneath my skin as my fur pushed up through the surface of my contorting limbs. Like a magic trick, I fell on my front – Dante unable to hold me any longer – four black paws spreading on either side of me, separated by impact.

It taken a few seconds to register it was finally over, only faint traces of the pain left bouncing around internally.

I turned my large head back, pushing myself up onto all fours and peering at Dante. He wasn’t even watching me and instead he was peering behind himself at the figures in the shadows. I couldn’t tell how long they’d been standing there, having only arrived or been watching a while. I had been too distracted to notice anything but myself.

My sharp wolf sight caught them immediately. Definitely not Sabitha and Samira, I thought, catching those two on the opposite side of the new figures. The three individuals took a step forward into clearer but dim light.

A small tone left my animal mouth. Dante seemed equally as shocked to see them.

“Mom, I thought you couldn’t make it,” he said.

His mother, sister by her side, smiled warmly. “Your in-law decided she wanted to see her daughter,” Ms Bancroft said, the other figure to her side stepping out and defining herself from the shadow.

As confused as I already was, I begun to think I was dreaming. There in front of me as Dante’s mom had said was Dante’s future in-law… My mother – arms crossed and staring down at my black furred form with a confused but frustrated expression.

 

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