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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24. Some Time Later...

 

 

Adapting to life outside Mateo was physically easier than it was emotionally. Money was easy, resourced were plentiful, but more often than not I found an invisible force in my head questioning, pausing, blocking, opposing.

My mom and dad had sold their house not soon after we left with the help of Touren who still occupied Mateo. With the money, they settled down with an equally nice home as far as we could get and as unassuming as we could find.

Dad’s mom and sister, Nina and Amanda had managed to get on their own two feet too; Nina had got herself together and got herself a job and with the last of her own personal funds managed to put down a deposit on a small flat in a separate town from us, citing need for some personal space.

Dante and I… Well we were doing fine.

I sat down in our spacious but cosy living room as I watched the clock, the hands ticked closer and closer to 6PM. I knew he’d be home soon, and then we’d have dinner and fall asleep in our usual mundane way as if there was really nothing better to be doing. But we loved it.

The door opened gently, bringing with it a gust of cold night air and then the sight of Dante’s body stepped through the doorframe. He smiled from ear to ear as I peered over my shoulder and got up to greet him. “You’re home early,” I commented, noticing he was still five minutes earlier than usual.

He lifted his arms over his head and stretched like a cat, easing the stress from his body that’d accumulated over the day. Reaching out to wrap my arms around him, he replied, “Couldn’t wait to get home. What about you, how was work?” he asked.

I’d finished a few hours prior to Dante, working early morning until mid-afternoon in a nearby mall and then taking classes in the late afternoon at the local college to make up for my lack of high school diploma. “It was fine,” I replied. “But maths never was and never will be my friend.”

Dante laughed, knowing he’d never have to go through the trouble of studying like I was. After all, Dante had got himself a job with a local trader and was learning everything there was to know about how to build and assemble. “Honestly after plastering for eight hours straight I think I’d have enjoyed the maths more,” he muttered, and that was coming from someone who hated all numbers. We were working jobs most humans would try and fight their way out of, but we didn’t mind it here.

“Just think of the money,” I replied. That’s certainly what I told myself.

It was nearing Christmas, and after all that’d happened I wanted nothing more than to give the world to my parents and to Dante’s parents, but if I couldn’t give them the world I’d have to settle for an expensive box of chocolates.

We had our own house too. Not far from my parents and not ridiculously far from Dante’s. And very far from Mateo.

Neither of us had heard a peep from Austin and Simone, or any of the Dimera’s for that matter. Ben had resigned into the quiet life of Dimera Alpha and I wondered how the hunter threat was going. Touren was having a blast as the biggest Mateo pack. Sabitha and Samira I hadn’t heard from since I destroyed my phone… Bianca too.

It was a sad thought, but no news was good news… Right?

I could be fine with that though. I was fine with that – we were living normal lives now, it was exactly what I wanted. I had a house, neither Dante nor I had been in wolf form since we left Mateo. Honestly I was just too scared, as if turning would alert all wolves in the area that we were here, despite the fact we stank quite offensively of Rogues no matter what perfume I doused myself in, as a human and a wolf.

“Shhh,” Dante hissed softly in my ear as he watched me become flustered and unsettled. He could read me like an open book these days, and I hadn’t quite figured if he were getting better at it or I simply wasn’t hiding what I felt anymore. “Everything is okay now. We have a lot to look forward to.”

I nodded my head into his chest as I felt myself fall into him. “We do.”

Dante entwined his fingers with my own and brought them up between us so we could look at them together. His thumb lifted over the costume jewellery perched on my ring finger and smiled. “I’ll get you a proper one soon,” he promised softly.

“I like this one though,” I muttered softly as I unwrapped my other arm and brought them both between us. “It’s the thought that counts.”

“But you’ll love the new one, and I don’t suppose your mom would be happy if I let you keep a 20$ engagement ring,” he replied as his face ducked down and kissed me softly on the cheek. “It’s going to be perfect.”

No matter how much I dreamt of a fairy tale wedding as a child, I hated the pressure it was putting on Dante and could settle for a lot less. “Hey, no, we don’t even need to get married. I know my parents keep pressuring you-,” I tried to say.

Dante shook his head. “No. I want to do this.”

“You want to do it to keep them happy,” I corrected. “We may as well already be married. We’re mates. We’re just married in a slightly different way is all,” I explained.

He nodded in understanding and jutted out his lower lip. “That’s true,” he admitted, “But weddings are all about the show.”

“We can’t put on much of a show in our situation,” I said matter-of-factly. I hated how hard Dante was working merely to put on a show. The stress. The money. I realised these were very human problems and despite it being a pain in the ass, I smiled about it.

Dante reached out once more and laid his arms around my waist pulling me closer. “You know what I mean,” He explained softly, “your mom and dad, my mom and sister. That’s who’ll be there. Invite a friend or two, I might too.” As if either of us had made friends here since we arrived – we were too cautious for that, and he surely didn’t mean any old friends.

It felt wrong to be so happy. All the people who’d died for us, been displaced for us. Lives ruined, families torn. Conflicts exploded and peace ripped to pieces. All because of us. What gave either of us a right to a happy ending after all we’d done to save ourselves.

I’d ruined so many lives in my journey to be happy with Dante. So many innocent people killed whether directly or indirectly.

“What the matter?” Dante asked in the middle of my thought.

I shrugged and pulled out of his embrace. Strolling towards the desk at the far corner of the room, I replied, “I feel bad being so happy.”

Dante sighed audibly and although I wasn’t watching I could imagine his hand reaching up and dragging down his face, tired of the same stuff over and over. That’s all I’d felt since we arrived here. Guilt. And that was something I’d have to live with, because then it’d be selfish otherwise. It was something we’d have to swallow, like a big old pill of reality that just wouldn’t go down but we couldn’t spit back out.

“If you’re sad all the time, what did anyone die for? Did they die for you to eventually die a sad and pitiful death too? You should live as if you’re living for everyone who did die, for everyone who was hurt. I can’t try as hard if you’re not working with me, Riley.”

I smiled sadly and nodded, whilst simultaneously peering down at the framed picture on the desk of my parents and me standing on the porch of our old house. It would have been nice to pair it with a picture of Dante and his family, but his parents weren’t big on pictures and never took any, which was a sad thought because then all Dante had to remember were his gradually fading memories.

I still missed my old bed and my old room.

Forcing a smile, I turned on my heel and faced Dante. “You’re right. I’m happy. Look, we’re both happy,” I commented as I watched his own face light up at the sudden positivity. “It’s just hard, you know. I can’t help but wonder how everyone’s doing.”

Dante tutted and wagged his finger at me. “You know what happens when we get involved in business we should just stay out of. If we hear nothing, assume all is well. I’ve told you before.”

He’d told me so many times I could hardly forget. Dante was now a firm believer in doing everything for himself and nothing for anyone else. He owed nothing to anyone and that way he thought he could live in absolute peace with no conflict. But that was him.

I nodded, feeling like my head was going to drop off. “I know, I know. It’s just as I try and settle down, I wonder momentarily and then it all escalates. It goes from a brief, are they okay? To a, I wonder if they miss me? To, I wonder if they’re still alive.

Dante let out a hearty laugh and looked down on me as if I were too innocent and naive to know. “Who is this about, Austin, Bianca, Sabitha, Samira, Hilary, Kelly, Ben, Ethan, Kris – feel free to stop me when I get it right by the way – Megan, Rose-.”

I couldn’t help but interrupt when it began to feel like he were making fun of me. “All of them,” I said loudly over his blabbering. “All of them,” I repeated a little quieter.

Dante paused for a moment and dropped his hands to his side. “I think about them too, you know,” he admitted. He moved carefully towards me like I were a caged animal and muttered, “I don’t think we’ll ever forget about them.”

“We can’t live like that,” I commented.

He shook his head in agreeance, “No, but we can learn to think of it a little differently. Be positive.”

“That sounds hard,” I admitted, as my frown looked down on the floor.

Dante reached out and put his finger under my chin to lift my eyes up to his. Slowly, he gestured with his hands in the direction of our back door, peering out onto a spacious yard that backed onto a field with no other houses for miles. We made sure we lived a quiet life where no one could see us.

We silently walked together out onto the crisp winter pastures and looked up into the sky. I couldn’t decide what I liked more – the open space of our new home surrounding or how it was in Mateo, dense forest for miles on either side of every road.

“Come on,” Dante suddenly said as he lifted his leg over the rickety wire fence that mapped the boundary of our yard and out into the overgrown but stunted field.

“Where are we going?” I asked as I peered back towards our house. The light was going down, and our windows became illuminated with the glow of the lamp still on in the front room. The door swayed gently in the breeze.

Before I could get an answer, I’d turned around and watched as Dante fell onto all fours and stretched like he’d taken a long nap. We’d purposely not been in wolf form for many months because of the ridiculous thought that being a wolf made us extra vulnerable, that we might be found easier, but that thought was gone as I instinctively followed after my mate and landed on all fours too.

We couldn’t communicate in speech as wolves, but speech wasn’t needed when we came face to face and I read what he said via his eyes. If a wolf could smile, he certainly did and had never looked happier. I mirrored those emotions back at him and we both threw our heads back and howled up at the sky, no moon in sight.

I hadn’t felt so free in months and for the first time possibly considered the ability to transform a blessing. I felt like I’d forgotten. I tried to recall all I’d worried about but I couldn’t. I tried to recall what I’d been angered by but I couldn’t.

Suddenly nothing seemed to matter and I’d forgotten what it felt like to have concerns. I watched Dante as his black furred wolf shot through the field and I followed after at a much slower pace. I glanced down at my paws and saw my fur the colour of night, having always been a Bancroft wolf.

My wolf loved that she was free. No one but Dante could have a say in what she did, and she’d listen to no one but him. She was fine listening to him, as Dante was with me too. We only needed each other. My wolf only wanted Dante, she didn’t want that list of people Dante had teased me about.

I didn’t even notice as Dante turned back into his human form and after a few minutes I observed him approaching from the direction of the house, clothed in a thin shirt and boxer shorts, not caring to dress fully when there was no one but us. “I don’t even know why we bother trying to contain our wolves, Riley,” he said loudly as he tossed some clothing down at my paws as I strolled up towards him.

I could only agree internally, and so he continued in saying, “No one will find us if we go wolf every so often. We just need to be careful. Didn’t that feel great?”

I forced myself to turn back despite my wolf’s protests. I’d gained enough control over her that I could summon her when I wanted and resist the moon. I was in control. I grabbed the clothes as quickly as I could and shielded my body from the wind as I replied, “Nothing has ever felt so good.”

It was strange how my wolf, with differing thoughts, could alter my human ones. Now suddenly with the influence of the wolf thoughts, being sad didn’t seem like a problem.

Running on all four may just be a temporary fix, but it was a fix… And I needed something right now.

I smiled like I hadn’t smiled before and let Dante turn away respectfully as I put on the clothes he’d handed me – my pyjamas. He knew me too well.

“Nothing has ever felt so good?” he interjected as I finished putting on my shirt. Dante spun on his heel and raised a curious eyebrow when he realised I was finished. My pyjamas were nothing spectacular – flannel. Pink flannel. They were ones I’d brought from home and I couldn’t be without them. Dante claimed I looked great in everything I wore, even these, but at that point I had to question his honesty.

A step later we were chest to chest and suddenly every other thought fell through like my head was a sieve. I pouted guiltily up at him as one hand crawled over my lower back and the other cusped the back of my head. My hands found each other around Dante’s waist as they hung helplessly on the back of Dante’s shirt, gently tickling the skin underneath. “Well,” I muttered as he breathed heavily, his breath fanning over my cheek as my hair flew up and around us in a mess. The wind was picking up and our clothes rattled against our bodied. “It would have to be something spectacular to rival that anyway.”

Dante didn’t have to say very much for me to begin feeling like melting butter despite the cold wind that battered against us. Like my shield, Dante took the brunt and replied, “I’ll show you spectacular.”

His lips were on mine before he could finish the sentence. One hand cusped my head and gently massaged my crown while the other slipped under the back of my shirt and stroked my lower back.

My own hands began to play with my ring as Dante’s kisses began to travel down my neck. This is what I wanted life to feel like all the time; like a house in winter with a fire going at its heart, making us feel protected and warm and safe. Like standing with Dante on a freezing cold day as his body heat kept me warm and his kisses left a trail of heat down my neck. Like nothing else matter but the two of us.

That is all that mattered, I realised. Nothing but the two of us was our business. No one in Mateo mattered to me anymore. I shouldn’t have to be concerned with them. I could feel guilty but I could repent for that guilt in being happy.

I’d never felt happier than now, I thought. This was more than spectacular.

I twisted the ring on my finger and felt out the single crystal in the centre and smiled against his neck, planting a single kiss as we sank comfortably into each other’s bodies.

This was how I wanted to live forever. This moment on repeat. This moment and these emotions at all times.

I could have that, I thought. Nothing was stopping me. Nothing was stopping any of us now from living our own piece of paradise, whatever that was meant to be.

That was possibly my favourite thought as we stayed there together, unmoving, not saying a word as the moon appeared in the sky just off in the distance. It wasn’t a Wolf Moon, it wasn’t even a full moon, but it was a moon both Dante and I could stand under and feel a connection towards and just be at peace with.

It felt nice to finally accept what had happened, accept our situation, and finally accept what we were.

Although many other people wouldn’t forgive me for the things I’d caused to happen in their lives, I was finding it easier to forgive myself. That’s all I cared about. That’s all Dante cared about.

That’s all that really mattered.

 

 

~~THE END~~

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