I push through the long grass, ignoring the sting and itch it gives my legs, as I feel my thighs burn with the exertion.
I can see Landon’s figure, as he gets closer, but as he stumbles forward his ankle gets caught in a long piece of grass and he trips face first into the field.
Seeing him brings a smile to my face every time. It's not just the friendship we share, but the deeper feeling that has been growing for five years now.
As far as I know, he sees me as just a friend, and I'm pretty positive he always will. But I continue to hang to every moment we get together, while neither of us are mated.
I burst out laughing, as I flop down beside him. He sits up, rubbing his forehead. He looks up at me through thick rimmed glasses, giving me a lopsided smile.
His smile seems to light up more than the massive globe that slowly lights up the sky. The grass sways around us in the slight breeze, brushing against my covered arms.
“Graceful,” I comment, letting my chuckles die down. He straightens his thin, lanky legs in front of him. He's wearing shorts, which is odd for this time of the morning.
His fashion sense has never been the best, but the quality is impeccable.
Landon always complains about how he isn't very strong, or attractive as the other males he went to school with.
He's a little too skinny, his eyes are sometimes too lifeless, and his hair never stays in one place for very long.
Popular or not, I see Landon as an extremely generous, sweet guy whose ego isn't related to the size of his biceps.
This is where my best friend Landon and I always meet up; in the grass paddock that is situated right at the end of pack territory.
Today though, he didn't seem to burst with whatever had happened in the palace he lives in. Usually the news is exciting and brings us more than a few laughs.
The thought of living in a palace, surrounded by many opportunities like Landon has seems like a dream.
But it's his reality, and sometimes I wish his stories were something I could experience one day. Too bad I wasn't born into the power of an Alpha family like he was.
“So, excited for tonight?” I ask curiously. Tonight is his nineteenth birthday party, and the day he will turn into my new Alpha. He sighs and looks off across the paddock.
I know him well enough to know he is distracted. And Landon being distracted is never normal.
For years he's been anticipating this day. I don't blame him... Imagine being able to do what you want, rule a pack and become seemingly stronger.
I realize this will taint our friendship, especially since his need to find a mate to help him rule the pack becomes more of a priority.
“Not particularly,” he mutters, sweeping a hand through his soft brown hair so it flops over his forehead. I've always loved his hair, especially the way it shines under the warm sun.
Only I notice the way those few strands of golden hair entwine around the rest. I wouldn't call myself obsessed, just more of an observer.
“Why not? This is what you have been dreaming about since you started school,” I say truthfully. He has always told me he was bullied at his school for being twig thin and useless.
Everyone had told him he would never become Alpha because he's too weak.
That stuff hits him hard, and now I can tell he's becoming more anxious, and is over thinking. He doesn't need to, though.
“I'm not Alpha material,” he sighs, picking at the grass by his side. I tilted my head, then shook it. He can't be serious. I watch him form a pile in front of him.
He knows his way around the pack, and has been capable of ruling one since he turned 13. Even his father believes, and his father scares everyone in this pack.
“You know you will phase? Think of everyone who won't,” I state. I myself am forever stuck in my awkward body. And I know for sure that once he shifts, I'll be just a sad memory of his childhood.
I can imagine the girls all over him, wanting a piece of their Alpha, while I sit on the side, unnoticeable.
“Yeah...” he drawls.
“And when you become Alpha, I can see you more, right?” I ask, punching his shoulder. Landon's father is strict, and doesn't like that he has a girl for a friend.
Just like my father dislikes Landon's company for me. Some days I wish less people would be so negative toward us.
It's not socially acceptable for males and females to be friends. Especially at our age, where finding a mate should be our main focus.
“Of course, it's just... well father said I'll be super busy and all. And as soon as I'm phased, I'm supposed to find a mate,” he muttered, sighing deeply. I feel a sting in my heart.
It still hurts hearing him talk about mates. I know that he doesn't mean to intentionally, he's completely oblivious.
The thought of him with a mate just makes my heart sink.
“Well, then you're just going to have to find a mate who doesn't mind us being friends,” I state, flashing him a smile. He nodded. We both know how unlikely that is, even if now we refuse to voice it.
“You're going to forget about me... when you find your mate,” Landon said gently, pulling his glasses off. I can barely imagine a life without my little Landon.
I watch him rub the lens against his shirt. I can't believe that for a second he would think that I would ever ditch him, I mean he's more bound to ditch me for some beautiful girl.
“I never will, you're my best friend,” I insist. He smiles and ruffles my hair. I love it when he does that... I silently revel in it for a moment.
“Good. And you're mine,” he stated. I let out a deep breath. You're mine.
“So, you're going to be my Alpha,” I say, giggling. His deep brown eyes light up at my words. That's it, I know he's excited for becoming Alpha, and there is no way he can hide it.
He slips his glasses back on. It's a big deal, considering the Power pack is sometimes considered the leading pack. We've stopped wars, or, we've won them.
“Now you will have to obey me,” he teased. I pretended to groan in disappointment. That doesn't sound too bad, actually.
We sat in silence for a bit, watching the sun rise.
This is my favourite part of the day, and not just because I get to see Landon, but because everything is so open and free, and nobody is here to judge us.
Deeper into the pack, things are less fresh and colourful. Army camps are a common sight within the Power pack.
“And your Dad, does he have a mate planned for you yet?” Landon asks randomly. I lay back, hiding my face behind my hands. Of course he does, that's all he seems to care about at the moment.
A lovely, proper mate that is simple, normal.
“His name is Jake. Total douche, goes through girls like he has them at an endless supply,” I mutter. He's my Dad's friend’s son. Apparently, Dad trusts him, so there goes my choice.
“Oh well. I guess I'd better go get ready for tonight,” Landon says quickly, standing up. He brushes himself off. I suddenly don't want him to leave me here.
I know he needs to get ready, but I cling to every moment with him, and a few more wouldn't hurt.
I'm not sure if he's upset by my words, but he never really leaves so abruptly.
I watch him go, ambling and picking his way through the thick grass.
I sigh, running a hand through my thick hair, wishing time would stop, so Landon wouldn't change, and we wouldn't have to find mates.
I trudge slowly back to my house. It's common for street fights around here, because some people just don't know how to keep their fists to themselves, so when I didn't see any, I’m quite shocked.
“Why's it so quiet out?” I ask, dumping my coat on the chair. My father is sitting around the dining table, shovelling down the breakfast mother has cooked for him.
They were both in fluffy robes, with their feet clad in slippers. Breakfast is a family affair, that is quite a chore. Dealing with their generic conversations gets more than old.
“Everyone's preparing for the Alpha's son’s birthday,” Father stated, picking up a newspaper. I comb my hair out of my face, and sit down.
Dad knows exactly who it is that is taking the Alphas position. His hate toward Landon is something I struggle to comprehend.
“He's not just the Alpha's son, he's Landon and my best friend,” I snap. Father rolls his eyes, taking a sip of his extra black coffee. It's early in the morning, but he gets today off work.
Apparently, it's a public holiday on Landon's birthday.
I still remember how we met.
Dad was curious about why the palace was having such a big celebration. Landon was turning seven, and the festival was open to the public. Dad dragged me along, and I met Landon.
We were best friends ever since he stole my ham sandwich.
“I'm sure he won't mind you meeting your new mate at his birthday then,” he says blandly, watching as I take a piece of toast from Mother.
I only eat toast at breakfast, especially if it's coated in butter.
“I'm not mating Jake,” I respond, biting into my toast lathered with melted butter.
“No not Jake, Cyrus. He wants to go to the Wisdom pack, so he's smart,” Father proclaims, obviously proud of his findings. Great, another nerd whose attention span revolves around the laws of physics.
“Give him a try, you'll love him,” Dad states, giving me a lopsided smile. Maybe if I meet this loser, Dad might cut me some slack. And I mean it's Landon's birthday, his, not mine.
Dad is adamant about me finding a mate this year, and sometimes it's easier to let him have his say, and go with it.
“Yeah okay. Look, Missy wants me over at hers to get ready,” I inform them, immediately dismissing myself from this boring conversation. I grab my coat, and head out.
Ever since I graduated, the parents have been less strict about where I'm going at what times. Thank Goddess...
It's still early, but I'm sick of Father's attitude toward this whole mating thing. I get that he wants me to mate someone successful, but I should have a choice.
I am the one who has to spend the rest of my life in his presence after all.
It's not a long walk before I make it to Missy's. I had dumped my dress there earlier, so no matter what, Father had to let me go. Missy is a good friend.
She helped me out back in High School, and even though she doesn't know me like Landon does, she's still super cool and easy to talk with.
Her house is a little quaint cottage, with a well-trimmed garden. My family's garden is overrun with weeds and vines, because my mother prefers to cook over garden.
I walk up the path and to their door, before knocking.
Missy answers, a large smile on her face that has me slightly apprehensive. She hauls me in, slamming the door behind me.
I'm dragged to her room in record speed, barely even uttering a small ‘hello’ to her mother, who is baking in the kitchen.
She's an incredibly excitable person, and hopes to one day move to the Freedom pack and find a mate. She doesn't think she belongs here, and I don't blame her.
“I am so excited,” Missy squeals, closing her bedroom door behind me. I've always been envious of her room, so spacious and modern.
She flops down on her bed, grabbing a glossy magazine from under her pillow, before flipping it open hastily.
I warily perch next to her. Biting a glossy lip, Missy holds the magazine to my face, pointing to a picture with some girl.
“I am going to do your hair like this,” she decides. I clutch my thin black hair, wondering if it will even make it into that fancy updo.
“Uh, I'm not sure that's going to work...”
“Oh, come on, Althea, let me try,” she pleads.
I groaned, as she rips a comb through my hair, obliterating every knot with each tug.
By the time she’s done, my scalp is raw, my eyes are watering ever so slightly. I watch her try to do a couple of small braids, before trying a new approach.
“I'm meeting my soon to be mate tonight,” I say casually, watching Missy's eyes widen. Her eyes always glisten with excitement as soon as I even mentioned mates.
She knows my father's motives, and my endearing crush on Landon. She's still adamant that we will end up together, but I assure her it's unlikely.
“I knew you two would be together. Your children will be so perfect!” she gushes, her fingers still entangled in my hair. My eyes widen. Sex with Landon? Never really thought much about that.
It makes me squirm nervously.
“Not Landon. His name is Cyrus,” I correct her dryly. Her face falls.
“Oh...but you and Landon though. He's going to get so much hotter tonight,” she stated. I roll my eyes. She knows what I'm like, how I prefer personality over looks.
The party was supposed to start after midnight, so Landon could shift in the privacy of his home with the support of his family.
He tried to convince me to come along, but his father thinks very little of me. And after all, midnight parties are practically normal for us Werewolves.
“Which means he's going to have every unmated She Wolf hanging off him tonight. He will forget my existence eventually, and in that time, I will have to find a mate,” I sigh, picking at the end of my fingernail.
Getting over a crush I've had on Landon for years won't be easy on my heart, so I'm trying to mentally prepare myself.
“Lucky for you, your best friend is a matchmaking genius who will not let you leave that party till you admit your love to the oblivious boy,” Missy decides, jamming a hair pin into my hair viciously.
I wince in response, holding in the profuse amount of swear words I would love to let loose.
Time will tell, fate is fate. I'm not a Purity pack member, but I've managed to convince myself that he will choose who he thinks suits him best.
I just hope it's me...