Secrets. Everyone has at least one, right?
Mine was that I lost my wolf. It happened a long time ago—it was an accident. It was one of those moments in life that changed everything. You know what I mean. One day, everything was normal, great even, and the next thing you know, your life is destroyed over one bad decision.
Yep, all it took was one stupid decision and my wolf was gone. I kept crossing my fingers that there was a chance she might come back—that she was still somewhere deep within me, stagnant, in a coma, just needing a little shove to wake up. That's why I went to see a witch on a regular basis.
That was my other secret.
My parents were suspicious of witches—us werewolves and witches didn't exactly have the best relationship. Lots of old wives' tales, I think—that whole 'be careful what you wish for' thing. Apparently, when a witch granted you your wish, it never quite worked out like expected. But I was desperate. It was the only hope I had to ever be a werewolf again.
My family told me they still loved me, told me that I didn't need a wolf to be happy. I mean, sure, there were tons of humans populating the planet, and they seemed to be doing okay without wolves. But I didn't want to be a human! I wanted to be a werewolf, like everyone else I grew up with. Most of all, I wanted to be able to meet my mate. Every werewolf had a mate out there they could innately sense after turning eighteen. Well, except me, probably. I mean, I still thought I had a mate, but I just wasn't sure if we’d be able to recognize each other. How do you recognize your mate without a wolf?
That was why, in early May, at the tail end of my freshman year of college, I found myself taking the commuter rail train to Salem, Massachusetts to meet with my witch doctor. During the school year, that's what I did—made a monthly trip from my college campus in Boston to the suburbs of Massachusetts with what little money I was able to earn working part-time at the school cafeteria.
Luckily, the train station in Salem wasn’t far from the downtown area. I was easily able to make my way to the small shop by foot, and it was actually quite a pleasure to do so that day, with the most gorgeous spring weather. As soon as I stepped off the train, I pulled off my hoody, allowing the sun to warm my shoulders, and wrapped the sweatshirt around my waist.
Unsurprisingly, the downtown area was very lively that day—not quite as lively as it was in October, but still very busy, with tons of people crowding the brick roads, ducking in and out of shops, and eating outdoors. Nice weather was not easy to come by in New England, so we all loved taking advantage when it did.
I quickly made my way to the familiar fortune-telling shop, a front for what it really was. But I was sure they made coin off that business as well, especially judging by the tourists sitting in the waiting area of the small shop that day—or at least I assumed they were tourists. Not having a wolf, I couldn't distinguish between our kind and humans as I also lacked all the other benefits, such as a heightened sense of smell, night vision, and an extraordinary immune system.
"Sit, please," a woman who looked to be in her late twenties with curly, black hair and whom I'd come to know as Helena, said to me, gesturing at a chair. She'd never been particularly friendly, even after knowing her for nine months now. I took a seat, leaving a chair empty next to a couple that was really into PDA, turning away from them.
Since the shop usually wasn't too busy, I hadn't been expecting to wait. I pulled out my phone to mindlessly scroll through ** when the chime of the door distracted me. Not that I cared much who entered, but I still looked up on impulse. And, damn, the guy that entered was F-I-N-E with a capital F! Holy f**k—I didn't think I'd ever seen such a drop-dead gorgeous man in my life.
He brushed his huge, tanned hand through his dark hair in a je ne sais quoi fashion as he entered the small shop. If I were at a party right then, I would have totally crossed the room to chat him up, and I definitely, definitely would not have left without taking him home.
It probably would have been a disappointment, to be honest—most hot guys sucked in bed, and they were usually d***s, especially to girls like me. Not that there was anything wrong with my body per se—there wasn't, but I also wasn't svelte like the women they seemed to prefer, kind of like my twin sister. But still, I wouldn't have minded taking a look at what he had going on under that clothing. Based on how his huge arms strained against the sleeves of his t-shirt, and how his shirt fell against his pecs, he clearly had a nice body. Even if I were a shame-fuck to him.
"What are you looking at?" he snapped at me, catching me off guard. I hadn't even realized I'd been staring. Of course, just as I thought—he was a d**k. A ridiculously good-looking one though.
"That huge zit on your face," I snapped back.
He narrowed his eyes at me. "That's not even possible." Damn, so he must have been a werewolf. Although I, personally, couldn't distinguish between our kind, they could recognize I was one of them—I apparently still smelled like one even without my wolf.
"Guess you must be growing weak then," I came back quickly. "Too weak to fight off acne now! Before you know it, your hair will recede, and you'll get scrawny. Then you'll be just as ugly as your personality!"
"Do you know who you're talking to?" he growled at me, his very distinct amber eyes taking on an evil appearance. And then I realized his eyes looked familiar somehow. I'd definitely seen them before.
"To be quite frank, I don't give a s**t who you are. You're a huge d**k, clearly to overcompensate for the small one in your pants." Everyone in the small shop was staring at us now. "It's probably so small you need a magnifying glass to see it. You probably f**k chipmunks, you're so small. Your pickup line to them is 'wanna nut?' and they go for it, not knowing they’re being lured in by a predator." I didn't know what came over me but I was on a roll now, just spitting out anything that came to my mind. "Does that make you feel powerful? Taking advantage of small, weak animals, you perverted chipmunk fucker!"
His mouth was agape, eyes wide, staring at me. Okay, I literally had no idea what came over me. I had not only body-shamed this dude, something I was adamantly against, but also made a rape joke so casually as if I were telling a knock-knock joke. He blinked a few times and then finally said, "Who the f**k are you?"
His eyes were even more intense now. He had the look of someone ready to pounce on his prey. I'm pretty sure the only thing preventing him from shifting into his wolf to claw me to death was that we were in the presence of humans.
"Someone that wishes they never wasted their breath on you, you useless tool!" I replied, knowing an apology was probably in order. My overreaction was completely unwarranted. And I should have probably been more scared, knowing he had a predator inside him, and I'd be completely defenseless if he snapped. But something about him put me on edge. Don't get me wrong, I was excellent at comebacks and insults in the worst and best of circumstances—bully-victim survival—but he really, truly had brought out my worst.
"What?" he responded.
"You heard me! Get on the other side of that door and stop using up all my oxygen. You think you're so great but you're not."
"Rich coming from someone like you. Typical chubby girl with a chip on her shoulder."
"You f*****g douchebag!"
"You're the one that went low first."
"You're the one that came in here ready to bite my head off."
"That's enough!" Helena came over to us. "No more arguing. You're ruining the energy of our sanctuary. Our mediums cannot concentrate in such an environment."
"My apologies." The douchey dude's whole demeanor changed, as he gave Helena an award-winning smile. "We didn't mean to interrupt your activities. But I do hope one of your mediums has time for me. I have some very important business to take care of." I didn't fail to notice how he brought his arm forward, lightly touching Helena's arm. Goddamn manipulator.
"Oh, of course, sir." Was she blushing? "We can fit you right in. Actually, I think our best medium is almost done with her clients. Why don't you go in right after they come out?" She winked at him. What? You have to be kidding me! My eyes burned into his back.
"Great, perfect," he smiled even more widely. "I was going to say I'm in a bit of a rush, but looks like you already sensed that." He winked at her. "Clearly this place is legit."
"Best in the business," she smiled back at him. Gross! I couldn't believe that not only had she allowed him to cut everyone in line, but he also agreed to do it. This guy was a total prick. I took back that I owed him an apology. I owed him nothing—f*****g ridiculously good-looking douche. Why were all the pretty ones always the ones with the worst personalities?
I seethed in my seat as his infuriatingly nice ass made itself comfortable in the one next to me, which was, unfortunately, the only open chair left in the place. Ugh. The day had started out so well!
"I see I'm not your type," the jerk spoke.
"What?" I turned to glare at him. Why was he still speaking to me? He gestured toward my phone where I glanced back and found that I had absentmindedly scrolled onto a lingerie ad.
"Dude, just shut up," I snapped at him quietly so I wouldn't get kicked out. Helena made it clear who was getting voted off this island if we started arguing again.
"Nobody tells me what to do. Least of all some b***h with a stick up her ass," he said in a quiet, menacing tone. At that moment, a couple of girls walked out into the main shop area, giggling. They stopped and looked at him on their way out, their eyes lingering on him. Goddess, I f*****g hated him.
"Okay, mister, come right this way!" Helena called out to him. He strolled over to her without a second glance back at me. And I hoped to Artemis that that was the last time I'd ever see him again. As nice as his ass was, it had clearly become a part of his personality. Ew.
It felt like I was sitting there for an hour before it was finally my turn to go, as I watched person after person, group after group exiting. He was still back there by the time I was called. I wondered what was taking so long, but also relieved I didn't have to see his smug face again as he exited.
"Gigi, darling, welcome back," an older version of Helena welcomed me into a small room, done up with rich purple and gold drapes, with a crystal ball at the center of a small table and decks upon decks of tarot cards behind her. "Has it been helping? Tell me. Tell Sybil everything." I took a deep breath, inhaling the subtle smell of incense, gripping the faux leather and wood of the chair I was seated in.
"I think so," I squeaked. "I sometimes feel something within me stirring." Okay, maybe it was how nauseous the herbs made me, my stomach shuddering with the need to reject them as soon as they were swallowed, but still!
"Give me your hand." I placed my small hand into Sybil's larger one. She closed her eyes and began humming. I scooched forward in anticipation. Suddenly, her eyes shot open. "Yes, it's definitely working. I sense it more today than I ever have previously. You must have been more diligent than usual."
I tried to think back. I was always very diligent. I couldn’t recall being any more so this last time. But maybe I had been. The weather had been better, which always put me in a better mood, so perhaps my enthusiasm had translated into the spells as I chanted them.
"Yes, she wants to come alive. Something has called to her. Something is pulling her from the abyss. Her spirit wants to return and reclaim her body."
"Really?" I asked, my heart racing and warmth radiating throughout my body.
"Yes, I recommend a double batch this month. You're getting close."
"Yes, please, I'll do anything!" My eyes brimmed with tears. I almost never cried, but my emotions were now going into overdrive. My wolf wanted to come back. She wanted to return. This was actually happening!
"Next full moon, do the spell twice." I nodded my head vigorously. "Since you're buying a double batch this time, we'll even give you a ten percent discount." She smiled, her eyes glistening. I didn't care what it cost. I was willing to go into severe credit card debt over this. There was nothing more that mattered to me than getting my wolf back.
"What about three times?"
"Not yet. Better to ease into it. We'll check you over again after the next full moon and see if you're ready." I enthusiastically followed her to the front, where she placed a jar with the herbs by the register and gestured to her daughter. As I turned to go check out, I was dismayed to find that the douchebag was back.
"So, how long are you in town for?" Helena looked up at him with doe-like eyes.
"Not long. I have business up north. But I'll be back again soon," he grinned at her.
"If you need someone to show you around when you come back, I'd be happy to give you my number. Lived in Salem my whole life. And I know the whole underground scene. I'm sure someone like you would be interested."
"Someone like me isn't usually welcome in the types of places someone like you frequents."
"I'm sure we could get you in. I'm well connected around these parts."
"Sure, why don't I take your number. Next time. Today I've got somewhere to be."
"Great!" She pulled the receipt out of the printer and scribbled some numbers on it. As she did that, he sniffed the air and then turned to come face to face with me, his eyes piercing into mine.
"What do you want?" I snapped at him, not much differently than he had when we first met.
"Nothing from you, clearly," he said, turning back around to take the receipt from Helena. He then rushed out of the tiny little shop. And something inside me did stir at that moment. It was working!
"Four hundred and thirty-two dollars," Helena said unenthusiastically. I pulled out my credit card. When I first learned the price, I’d almost had a heart attack. As a college student who was perpetually racking up student loans and living expenses, coming up with the money wasn't exactly easy. They claimed these herbs were difficult to get. They had to import them illegally from somewhere in Australia, where they had found the perfect climate and soil for growing them.
But I didn't even care that I had met the douchiest guy ever and spent almost everything in my checking account at that moment. Nothing could ruin my good mood.
I stepped back outside into the warm afternoon and made my way back to the train, checking my phone to see when the next one would be coming. Another few days and I'd be done with school, moving back to my pack for the summer. And then next weekend was the next full moon. One moon phase closer to my wolf coming back.