Beep… Beep… Beep… My alarm clock goes off.
I slide my arm out from under the blankets to turn it off without even opening my eyes. I’m a morning person, and usually fine to wake up at 6:30 am to get ready for school, but this morning I’m exhausted. I have been having a lot of nightmares lately. It seems as my 18th birthday draws nearer, so have the nightmares.
It's the same thing every time, I keep dreaming that I meet my fated mate. He seems wonderful, and everything is perfect, just like they say it's supposed to be. His touch is electrifying, he smells so good it’s intoxicating, and I can’t get enough of him. I dream that my mate is charming, sweet, and handsome, and everything seems perfect until we mate and mark each other. Then he shows his true colours. He isn't sweet, or charming. He's mean and cruel and he hurts me.
My older sister Mora, would be 23 years old this year if she hadn't met her fated mate. Her mate Ren, was the Beta at Cold Moon. Cold Moon had a reputation for being brutal and power-hungry, but Mora said her mate wasn't like that. I was only 13 at the time, but I remember thinking that they seemed so in love. He obviously pretended that he was this wonderful man so she would accept him. They mated and marked each other only 2 days after meeting each other.
She moved with him to his pack 3 hours away. At first, she’d call home every few days, but after a few weeks the phone calls slowed down, and then they finally stopped. At first, we chalked it up to being so wrapped up in her new mate, but after a while, we really started to worry.
My father took a trip up to Cold Moon, and there he received a devastating blow. Mora was dead, at just 19 years old. They told my Dad that rogues attacked a few weeks prior, but her fated mate Ren seemed to show no emotion about losing her. One of the men in the room even laughed.
We warned my sister about their reputation but she insisted that he was different. She loved him. He was her mate, what could we do?
My father asked why we weren’t told, and Ren responded with ‘I Didn’t have your number.’ Such little regard for her and her family was very telling. We know my sister was murdered, but it was not at the hands of rogues.
My dad was obviously furious and wanted to kill Ren. If my father wasn't a Beta as well, he would have. As the Beta to our pack, he couldn’t act aggressively towards another pack official without it being considered an act of war. Unfortunately, our Alpha wouldn't allow it. He said there wasn't enough evidence, but the real reason was that we would have lost. I think even if there was proof, Alpha Xavier would have made excuses.
I know I was only 13 at the time, but I struggle with guilt as well. The last time I talked to her on the phone, she didn’t seem like her chipper self, and she wouldn’t facetime me. Looking back, there was probably a reason she didn't want me to see her face. My guess is the evidence of his violent behaviour was all over it. She never called again, and I always wonder how things would have turned out if I listened to my gut and insisted we go to her. I miss her so much. It was almost 4 years ago now, and it still haunts me that there was no justice for her murder. Now that my 18th birthday is approaching, I’m terrified to meet my mate and be dealt the same fate as her; a monster for a mate.
I push myself out of bed to get ready for school. I wash up, put some light makeup on and put on a blue maxi dress. I need to wear some heeled boots with this dress, because I’m only 5’ 1’’ and I'll be tripping on it if I don’t. I have straight long brown hair with some natural blond highlights, I just brush it today because I’m too tired to do anything cute. I'm ready, and just in time too, Mom is calling me down for breakfast.
“How did you sleep, Honey?” Mom asks.
“Ugh, more nightmares,” I groan.
“Aria, you really shouldn't be stressing turning 18. It might be years before you meet your fated mate, a few never do. And even if you meet him on your 18th birthday, most of the time the Moon Goddess has it right. She chooses the perfect mate for us,” mom tries to reassure me.
'Most of the time', are the keywords there. When she mentions me meeting my mate on my 18th birthday, I wonder if I will. It's a possibility. My birthday is June 1st, and the Blood Moon pack is having a festival for the blue moon on May 31, but it will end in the wee hours of the morning of June 1st. A blue moon happens once every 2-3 years and it's when there are 2 full moons in one month. The energy from the moon is so intense, it's a pretty big deal for werewolves.
If I ever find my mate, I pray Moon Goddess is patient in bringing him to me. I am definitely going to be very cautious before accepting him. I'll take my time getting to know him before mating and marking. That way, I can reject him and sever the bond before it's too late if I need to.
Mom plants a kiss on my forehead and places a plate with scrambled eggs, toast and a bowl of berries in front of me. “Thanks, Mom!”
“Good Morning, my beautiful girls,” Dad chirps, as he walks into the kitchen. He gives my shoulder a little squeeze and then places a kiss on Mom’s temple before making 2 coffees, one for himself and one for her. If I could have a mate bond relationship like theirs, I would be so blessed.
“Are the boys coming? Mom asks.
“I checked on them before I came down and they should be here any minute.”
Just as dad is finishing his sentence, we hear what sounds like a herd of elephants coming down the stairs. My two brothers enter the kitchen laughing and fooling around. Despite the 6 year age gap between them, they get along really well. They both love horseplay, and playing video games together.
I can tell my younger brother Kit really admires my older brother, Eli. Eli is 21, and he will one day take my Dad’s place as Beta to our pack. He’s also studying business, and finance at the local university. He has a similar build to my dad at 6’ tall and very muscular. He has darker blond shaggy hair, and while my little brother copies the shaggy hairstyle, he has the same brown hair like me and Dad. Even though Kit is 15, he's already quite a bit taller than me and he Never.Lets.Me.Forget.it!
“Morning,” they both say in a huff, before taking a seat.
“This looks great Mom, thanks,” Eli says with a grin.
His plate is HUGE! He has 4 toast, and a pile of eggs just as high, and he wastes no time digging in.
“So who needs a ride today?” Mom asks.
“I do!” Kit responds.
“Flora is picking me up,” I add.
“I can drop off Kit if you want? My first class isn't until 11, so I planned on heading to the pack house to do a few hours of training first,” Eli offers.
“Thanks, Eli!” Mom smiles.
Kit is beaming from ear to ear, “Yeah, thanks, Eli.”
Before I know it, the doorbell is ringing and I know it's Flora. I open the door to see my best friend. Her shoulder-length dark auburn hair is shining so beautifully in the morning sun, and her hazel eye's just add to her beauty. She's so pretty. She's taller than me, which isn’t hard. I'm so envious of her long legs. I hate being so short.
Flora's kinda spunky. She’s also bursting with confidence and she's much more outgoing than I am. She’s so fun, and she often forces me out of my shell, but I actually appreciate that about her. We’ve been friends since the 2nd grade when we met at a pack house BBQ. Before that, all my friends at school were human. It felt so good to have a friend that I didn't have to hide my identity from.
I can’t imagine my life without her. “Ready to go?” Flora asks.
I grab my bag and my jean jacket, and we rush to her silver Honda civic. As soon as she turns the car on, Maroon 5’s “Girls like you” is blaring. We sing our hearts out and soak up the warm spring sunshine.
At lunch Flora and I sit outside in the courtyard to eat. The sun is shining and it’s nice and warm; days like this are so welcomed after a wet cold winter. The courtyard has a large water fountain and a beautiful garden that is in full bloom. Red and black resin tables are littered all around the outdoor oasis.
We need to be careful about what we say at school because only about 5% of our classmates are werewolves, and as far as humans are concerned, werewolves are folklore. Once we’ve tucked ourselves at a table away from everyone else, we can talk freely.
The first thing Flora wants to talk about is the Blue moon festival. It’s all she wants to talk about lately. That and prom, and I want nothing to do with either. The blue moon festival is held by Alpha Grey, of the Blood Moon pack. Blood Moon is the largest and strongest pack within a 1000 km radius. Alpha Grey extends an invitation to all Alphas in the surrounding area. Each Alpha is allowed to bring up to 50 members of their pack to join them. Because my Dad is Beta, and Flora’s Dad is the pack’s lawyer, our families are invited.
The festival consists of a formal dinner at around 7:30 pm, in a huge hall near their pack house. There are usually around 2000 people there if I had to guess. Dinner is followed by dancing and socializing until midnight. At midnight anyone able to shift gathers and heads out for a long run together. The lunar effects make us stronger and faster than ever.
Around 3 am everyone comes back and goes to their hotel. It's all wrapped up with everyone coming together for breakfast, buffet-style at 10 am. We were old enough to go to the last Blue Moon festival, but Flora and I were only 15 and unable to shift. So we hung out at the dance. They had a chocolate fountain, and all sorts of awesome snacks, so we had a great time. But there was also no pressure or possibility of finding my mate last time.
“So have you figured out your accessories and how you want your hair for the festival?” Flora asks.
“I’d like to skip the whole thing, but if I have to go, maybe I should scrap the dress I got and go for something ridiculous, go crazy for hair, and makeup too. Maybe I can scare off any possible mates,” I say with a shrug. Flora lowers her head and raises an unimpressed eyebrow at me.
“No! What if you do meet him, and he's perfect and he sees you for the first time looking ridiculous? Don't you want to take his breath away? Make the best first impression?” she scolds. Flora takes this meeting her mate thing very seriously.
“Don't worry! No matter how badly I want to avoid this whole situation and self-sabotage, my parents would never let me. They would consider that to be disrespectful to Alpha Grey, and Alpha Xavier.”
“Good!! Why don’t we do a sleepover this weekend, and we can go over the details together? Maybe I can talk some sense into you. It’s usually a good thing to meet your mate, Aria.“
“Sure. A sleepover sounds fun.”
“Good! I'm so excited,” she squeals.
The entire day dragged on. I’m usually a good student. I sit at the front, pay attention, and I usually enjoy learning and always do my best, but I’m too tired to care lately. When the final bell rings, it’s music to my ears. I waste no time getting out of class and meet up with Flora.
“How was your day?”
“It was great. Guess who asked me to prom…?” She says in a sing-song voice.
“I don’t know?” I laugh. “Who?”
“Todd Peterson,” she says wide-eyed with a huge smile on her face.
“What? Are you serious? That’s amazing!” I gush. Todd Peterson is hot and popular and I'm super excited for my bestie. She deserves to have a hot date for prom. “It is, and I’m super excited, but I am a little bit nervous. What if I meet my mate next week at the festival? ” She ends in a whisper.
“You can always tell Todd you have to cancel if you do. The festival is next week. If you cancel right away, it would still give Todd 3 weeks to find another date for prom.”
Flora nods, “You’re right! … Now time to find you a date,” she says with a giggle and a mischievous look in her eyes.
“No thank you, Flora. I have no desire to go to prom! “ I say without hesitation. We went last year together, and I didn’t enjoy it at all. Lots of the guys were sloppy drunk and they seemed to think that every girl was down to have s*x on prom night. Maybe not terrible for Flora, who is open to that. I, however, am not. I’d only disappoint any potential date. And for what? The whole prom thing just seems like a lot of pressure, and kind of depressing. I’ll pass.