When a young runaway, Quinn, is bitten by a wolf in the woods, she discovers a world she never knew existed—a world of werewolves. Now Quinn must adjust to her new life in the Shadow Moon Pack, under the guidance of an alluring alpha.
Age Rating: 18+
Lupus Paulo by Chloe Taylor is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.
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As my mountain of canned food, blankets, batteries, and water bottles traveled down the conveyor belt toward the register, the clerk looked at me suspiciously.
“Just making a donation to the homeless shelter,” I smiled nervously.
Damn, I told my mother I was at the library. If I don’t come back with a book, she’ll know I was lying.
I noticed a faded Agatha Christie paperback mixed in with the magazines and tabloids.
“I’ll take this, too,” I said, throwing it onto the belt.
I paid and stuffed my backpack full of the supplies. I’d have to stash this in a bush before getting back to the house.
Tonight was the night.
I was finally going to do it.
I’d finally be free.
My mother was waiting for me when I returned to our small cottage in the woods.
I clutched my paperback to my chest anxiously.
She narrowed her eyes and tapped her fingers on the oak table.
“This is unacceptable, Quinn.”
“I know, I’m sorry…it won’t happen again,” I said, hanging my head.
“You’re right it won’t. Because you won’t be making any more library trips for the next three weeks,” she said, sternly.
Normally, I’d protest. My trips to the local library were the only thing keeping me sane. My mother practically kept me locked up here.
She homeschooled me till I was eighteen, shutting me off from all outside social activity.
My Aunt Jodie’s disappearance had really shaken her. I was too young to remember it, but my mother hadn’t smiled since.
This time, I’d keep my mouth shut. Trips to the library wouldn’t matter anymore.
After tonight, I’d be able to do whatever I wanted.
“You missed supper—it was fifteen minutes ago,” my mother said, coldly. “So you’ll be going to bed without any.”
As my stomach growled, I thought about my stash of canned food in the bushes, but I could hold out for several more hours.
As I began to walk to my room, I heard my mother muttering under her breath, over and over.
“Foolish girl. Foolish, foolish girl. Foolish, foolish, foolish.”
“I’m not Aunt Jodie,” I said, but she didn’t respond. She just kept rocking back and forth.
I pulled my covers up. Any minute now, my mother should be—
Right on cue. She opened my creaky bedroom door and peeked in, making sure I was asleep.
After a moment, she closed it shut, locking it with a click.
That was fine—I wouldn’t be leaving through the door.
I threw my covers off and got out of bed, already fully dressed.
I pulled a hollowed-out book from my shelf, which contained a pair of heavy-duty pliers.
I used them to loosen the bolts on my window and quietly lifted it up. Looking down, it wasn’t a far drop, but I didn’t want to risk it.
If running away required one thing, it was working legs.
I tied my sheets together and tossed them out the window, making sure they were firmly looped around my bedpost.
I took one last look at my room, but I didn’t feel any sentiment or nostalgia. It was hard to feel fondly for a prison.
I smacked my flashlight against my palm until it flickered on.
There were woods in every direction. For some reason, my mother felt that being in a remote cottage in the woods was safer, but the isolation only made me feel more vulnerable.
It was dark and disorienting, but I had to start moving.
When my mother discovered I was gone, she’d probably start a manhunt to try and track me down.
I wouldn’t be a prisoner any longer. I’d already sacrificed eighteen years of my life over something that happened to my Aunt, who I barely even knew.
It was time to start living.
I started hoofing it through the woods, hoping to get some distance between me and the cottage before the sun rose.
As I got deeper into the woods, I thought of all the books I’d read of young girls wandering into the forest. Straying from the path.
I thought of my mother’s words…
Anything can happen after dark.
After several hours, I was officially lost. Every tree looked the same. Every step forward may as well have been a step backward.
For all I knew, I was heading back to the cottage.
My heavy pack was weighing me down and my eyelids felt even heavier.
I’d have to find a place to set up camp and sleep at some point.
As I drowsily pushed on, a glimmer of light caught my eye.
I saw long, wavy white-blonde hair disappear behind a tree.
Was this just my imagination, or was someone else actually out here?
As I approached the tree, a female form flitted to another one in the distance.
I could’ve sworn I heard giggling.
“Hey, who are you?” I called out.
I followed the dancing figure as she flitted from one tree to the next, obscuring her face.
She was so graceful and mysterious, her long hair guiding me like a light.
I started to run faster. I needed to know who she was.
Suddenly, she turned around and stared directly at me. She had the most gorgeous face I’d ever seen. And her eyes…
They were the exact same silver-grey color as my own.
I blinked, and in an instant, she was gone. Maybe I really was seeing things.
I found myself in the perfect little clearing. I began to set up camp, spreading blankets on the ground and hanging one over a low branch to form a makeshift tent.
I didn’t know if that woman was real or a figment formed by my lack of sleep and my measly meal of canned beans, but either way, I needed to pass out.
I dozed off, hoping tomorrow would bring me the freedom I yearned for…
I jolted awake at the sound of distant howling—likely a wolf.
It was still dark; I hadn’t slept long.
My eyes were trying to adjust to the darkness as I heard the rustling of leaves in the distance.
I’d prepared for a lot of things, but I hadn’t prepared for wolves.
I started stuffing everything back in my pack. It was probably best to keep moving. I didn’t know how far away it was, but I didn’t want to find out.
The howling got twice as loud. It was getting closer.
I needed something to defend myself with. I quickly snapped off the nearest tree branch and held it in front of me like a sword.
I desperately wished the mysterious woman would reappear and guide me to safety, but I was on my own.
I started running, haphazardly colliding with branches and bramble. I needed to get out of these woods.
The sound of hefty paws stamping through the crunchy leaves began to echo through the forest.
It was closing in fast.
I tried to pick up my pace, but I tripped on a root and skidded into the dirt.
As I lifted myself to my knees, I saw a big snarling wolf standing right in front of me, drool hanging from its sharp fangs.
A hideous scar ran down the left side of its face.
I grabbed my stick and started to swing it wildly, but it was unfazed.
It lunged at me, but I managed to connect my stick with its nose, and it let out a yelp.
“Stay away!” I screamed, hoping to scare it off.
The wolf’s red eyes narrowed as it started to stalk closer.
I had nowhere to run.
No one to hear me scream.
The wolf pounced on me and pushed me onto my back, its claws digging into my chest.
Oh, my God, I’m going to die.
It growled hungrily at me as if it was feeding on my fear.
Tears began to roll down my face.
I dug my fingernails into the dirt, trying to pull myself away, but the weight of the wolf was too much.
It almost looked like it was grinning as it opened its jaws wide and—
I screamed as the most intense pain I’d ever felt shot through my body.
The wolf had sunk his enormous fangs into my leg.
He let up and wandered off into the darkness, leaving me to bleed out.
I thought wolves usually finished off their prey, but this one didn’t seem to care.
My head began to spin as blood soaked through my jeans.
There was no way I could move. This was where I’d die.
As my vision began to blur, another wolf stepped out of the brush.
This one was even more massive than the other, with ashy-blond fur and hazel eyes, but it wasn’t acting aggressive.
Instead, it nuzzled me as my eyes fluttered shut.
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A dense mist shrouded the forest as I wandered through it, running my hands across the branches of its trees.
They were all dead, yet somehow even more beautiful than trees covered in foliage.
Pearly white, smooth, and stretching into the air so high I couldn’t tell where they ended.
Everything looked the same in every direction, but I didn’t feel lost.
It was strangely calming.
A low humming noise buzzed pleasantly in the air and as a light wind tousled my hair, it felt as though it were whispering in my ear.
I caught a glimpse of long white-blonde hair I’d seen somewhere before.
I ran to it, and a wisp of smoke began to swirl around me until it materialized into a beautiful woman.
She looked so familiar, and as she clasped my hands, hovering several feet off the ground, I knew I could trust her.
“Quinn, you have so much to learn.” She smiled warmly. “It won’t be easy at first, but there are those who will help guide you on your journey.”
“Like you?” I asked.
“No, child, I’ve brought you as far as I can. My place is not in your world.”
“I don’t understand… What’s going to happen to me? Am I even alive?” I asked, confused.
“Yes, but when you wake up, your life won’t be the same as it was. You’re destined for far greater things, my child.”
“Who are you? How do I know you?”
“You know me in your heart, Quinn.”
She placed her long, elegant fingers on my heart.
“Remember these words—you’ll know who you can trust…” she said, beginning to fade away.
“Wait, what words? Don’t go yet!”
I reached out to her, suddenly making a connection.
“Are you my…my Aunt?”
“Lupus Paulo,” she said softly, disappearing.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
What’s going on? Where am I?
My vision was hazy, but the room looked pristine—all white.
“The bite was deep, but it will heal—with time. The process should speed up significantly after her body transitions, however.”
“And when exactly will that be, Doctor?” asked a deep, husky voice.
“It’s hard to say, but it shouldn’t be long.”
Who are these people? What’s that sound?
An IV clung to my wrist and a monitor next to me slowly beeped.
Is this a hospital?
“Do you think her body can take the transition?” asked the husky voice again. “She’s very…small. She might be snapped in half.”
“Perhaps, my Alpha, but time will tell.”
Alpha? Transition? What are they talking about? What was going to happen to me that could snap me in half?
My heart started to beat faster, and the beeping on the monitor picked up its pace as well.
My IV automatically administered something into my arm that made me relax.
“Will you keep me updated on her status?” The man called Alpha asked.
“Of course, my Alpha. I’ll contact you at once if there are any changes.”
I began to drift out of consciousness again, but the beautiful woman didn’t come back to me.
Only her words.
When I came to again, I squinted at the bright fluorescent lights hanging above me.
I pushed my knotted black hair over my eyes to drown them out.
The lighting was always my least favorite part of hospitals.
I tried to move, but instantly realized my mistake.
I winced in pain and clenched my jaw. I wouldn’t be going anywhere. I glanced down at my wrapped leg.
Damn, I think it’s sprained.
I wondered who brought me here…
I thought the wolf would’ve been picking me out of his teeth right now.
As the doorknob of my room rattled, I suddenly felt a wave of fear in the pit of my stomach.
What if this was my mother? What would she do to me? I was already in a hospital bed, but I honestly feared her more than the wolf that put me here.
Instead of my mother, the most pleasant, cute, and kind-looking girl came in, carrying a bouquet of gorgeous roses.
“Hey there,” she said with a slight Southern twang. “I see you’re finally awake.”
Her green eyes sparkled underneath her wavy blonde hair, and her rosy cheeks were even redder than the flowers.
She placed the roses next to my bed and sat down, staring at me inquisitively.
Why is she curious? I’m the one with the questions.
“Who…who are you?” I stammered. “And how did I get here?”
“I’m Sky,” she said in a bubbly tone. “You know, like the place that clouds, birds, and sunshine hang out.”
That sounds about right. This girl is so bright it’s infectious.
“I’m the welcome wagon around here.” She smiled.
“What are you welcoming me to?”
“To the Shadow Moon Pack, of course.”
She must have sensed my bewilderment because she instantly gasped and covered her mouth.
“Oh, shoot, I probably wasn’t supposed to say anything yet. Me and my big mouth. You have no idea what’s happening, do you?”
“I was attacked by a wolf and now I’m in a hospital bed…that’s pretty much the extent of my knowledge.”
Sky nervously bit her long fingernails at the mention of the wolf.
“God, how do I explain this to a human?” she muttered.
A human? Okay, what the hell is she talking about?
“You’re starting to freak me out, Sky…what is a Shadow Moon Pack?”
“Well, it’s a kind of family…a family that you’ll be, uh, joining…since your, uh, incident.”
“Oh, God, you’re not a part of some kind of cult, are you? I’ve read a lot of books, and this never turns out well for the runaway,” I said, beginning to get anxious.
Sky, on the other hand, looked relieved.
“Oh, no, nothing like that. You must’ve thought I was a total weirdo,” she laughed. “No, we’re a family of werewolves, a pack.”
My jaw dropped open. Was this some kind of twisted joke? Where were the hidden cameras?
She just said werewolves.
I flashed back to the wolf in the woods—the way it left me after the bite.
And then that massive ashy-blond wolf—the way it nuzzled me protectively…
Could what she’s saying be…?
“I know it’s a lot to soak in, Quinn, but werewolves do exist. We have for centuries, we’re just in hiding. Let’s be real, the human race wouldn’t handle that information very well. They’d probably grab the pitchforks and torches at the first hint of something supernatural.”
No. Nope. This is crazy. There’s no way this is real.
“Listen, Sky, you seem like a nice person, you really do, but I’m just not interested in joining your werewolf coven or whatever. There’s some goth kids who do roleplaying at the library on Fridays…maybe you can bring your sign-up sheet to—”
“Quinn, you’re too funny. Covens are for witches. We’re a pack. And you’re not signing up. You’re already a member,” she said, pointing at the bite on my leg.
Something is funny around here, but it’s not me.
“I’d actually just like to talk to the Doctor, if you could—”
The door suddenly burst open, and a man with ash-blond hair stomped into the room. His muscles bulged out of his thin white T-shirt and his golden eyes were hypnotizing.
I’d never seen anyone so handsome in my life, and the instant magnetism I felt toward him was intoxicating.
I was frightened and flustered both at once.
Why did I feel so drawn to him? This wasn’t a normal feeling.
When he spoke, I recognized his husky voice. He was the man the Doctor referred to as Alpha.
“Sky, what have you told her?” he said gruffly.
Sky suddenly looked pale. “I was just welcoming her to the Pack. I thought she could use a more…gentle touch, you know, to ease her into it.”
This man looked like “gentle touch” was a foreign phrase. His vocabulary was smash, crash, and bash.
“Leave. I need to speak to her alone,” he commanded.
Sky shot me an apologetic look as she left the room. I suddenly wished that crazy werewolf girl would come back.
I avoided direct eye contact with him. Those gold eyes were running up and down my body, and despite how uncomfortable I was, I liked the way he was looking at me.
“Your name,” he said in a domineering tone.
“Quinn…” he said, testing it out.
“And yours?” I asked nervously, still looking away.
He didn’t respond, but he did step to the edge of my bed. I could feel a heat radiating off him and it warmed me from the inside out.
“Look at me,” he commanded.
Just who does he think he is? Hottie or not, he can’t just tell me what to…
As I looked up and gazed straight into his eyes, something dreamlike happened. I felt an indescribable connection to this complete stranger. I felt as though he had just become a part of me.
Judging by the shocked look on his face, he must’ve felt it, too.
“How…how can this be? You haven’t even turned yet,” he said, stunned.
His gold eyes stayed locked onto my silver ones, neither of us able to look away.
“So, you’re my mate…”
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