Growing up in wolf society, I heard those words a lot in our village. It was all anyone talked about. People dreamed of the moment when the Moon Goddess would lead them to their destined love.
And now that I was turning eighteen soon, those thoughts crept into my mind, too.
Not that I’m even going to find my mate.
I squinted up at the sun as I finished hanging up some laundry to dry. It was a rare sight, living in Iliamna, Alaska. But for whatever reason that’s where my pack, the Blood Moon, decided to live.
“Aurora! Are you done with the laundry? Dinner’s ready, you know?” my stepmother shouted from inside the house.
“Coming, Montana!” I stepped into the house, I was greeted by my stepmother’s hideous sneer.
“What took you so long? I’m starving!” she said.
“You could’ve started without me,” I said as I sat at the table and began eating.
I had to give it to Montana. Her cooking was excellent.
“So, Rory…tomorrow you’ll become of age, right?” my stepmother asked.
I looked up from my plate of food. “Huh? Oh…yeah,” I mumbled, turning my attention back to my meal.
Here we go…
“How are you ever going to meet your mate if you don’t get out more?” she asked.
“It’s not like I’ll find one anyway,” I said. “With all the rogues and human hunters, there probably won’t be any of us left…”
And it was true.
Our numbers were dwindling every day, despite our warriors’ best efforts to protect us. My heart clenched painfully in my chest as I remembered the last time I saw my dad.
He’d died protecting us.
“No doom and gloom at the table young lady,” Montana pipped. “You need to get out of your own head. So I signed you up for a job.”
My head snapped up from my food.
“You did what?”
“You’re going to be a housemaid at the leader’s house. They need more for the alpha’s birthday celebration!”
My jaw dropped.
“I’m going to be a WHAT?”
“It’s a perfect opportunity!” Montana gushed. “You might meet your mate, and you’ll be able to help out with expenses around here. Your father’s pension won’t last forever you know.”
I couldn’t believe her. I huffed in annoyance and stomped up to my room. I couldn’t bear being close to her any longer.
It wasn’t that she was a bad person. She’d practically raised me after my father had died.
But she was so annoying sometimes, assuming that whatever she decided for me was the right choice.
I picked up my phone, wanting to vent.
I put my phone down and stretched out on my bed.
Is it really so important for me to find my mate?
What if he’s a weirdo?
Will he even like me? Will I like him?
Question after question played in my head until sleep took over.
It took me a long time to drag myself out of bed and get dressed, but eventually I made my way over to the alpha’s house.
Let’s get this over with…
I approached the mansion, and I couldn’t help but be annoyed at its grandeur. How much space did they really need?
After a quick security check with a guard, I found myself wandering through the grand halls, my mind far away.
I’d only been to the leader’s house once before, back when my dad was alive.
I remembered that he’d sat me down in a chair just outside the meeting hall.
“Stay there, Rory. I won’t be long.” He’d patted my head and walked into a room filled with other werewolves.
As I sat there, a huge man had come walking in my direction.
He had long, jet-black hair, dark eyes like onyx, and a horrible gash across his face.
Alongside him was a kid, with a mop of the same jet black hair and bright blue eyes. He had been arguing with the older man.
“But I’m the future alpha, Dad! I should be in that meeting with you!”
It had been the pack’s alpha and his son.
“You’re still not ready for meetings like this, son,” the alpha had answered in a monotone voice with a stoic expression.
As they’d come closer to where I was sitting, I’d quickly slid off the chair and bowed my head in respect.
That’s what my dad and the other villagers always did when they saw the alpha.
They didn’t acknowledge my presence, even though they were standing right in front of me. They just continued their banter.
“They killed my mother! Those bastards killed her, and I want them to pay!” the kid had screamed at his father.
He had been trembling, tears threatening to fall from the corner of his eyes.
His father had stood there, expressionless, before he finally spoke.
“Son, when the time comes, you will join us in the meeting hall. But for now, continue with your defense lessons,” the man had said as he grabbed the door knob.
“I will avenge your mother,” the alpha had said in a deathly tone before disappearing behind the door.
I’d lifted my head a little to see the boy staring at the door. His eyes were red with unshed tears, his hands clenched tight into fists.
He’d finally noticed me. He turned to face me with a glare, quickly wiping his tears away with his arm.
“How long have you been there? Who let you in?” he’d asked, still glaring at me.
“Um…Daddy was called for an important meeting with the alpha and the elders, sir.” I quickly answered, bowing my head once more.
“Who’s your father? What’s his name?” he’d asked, still not convinced.
“Rodrick Craton, sir.” I answered, fidgeting with my hands.
“Craton? Your father is the gamma?” he’d asked, more passively this time.
Back then, I’d known dad had an important role in the pack, but I hadn’t understand just how big a role.
“Um…yes?” I answered.
“Is that an answer or a question?” he’d said mockingly.
“Um…answer, sir. My dad is the gamma,” I said, trying to speak with more confidence.
He eyed me for a moment, then shook his head and waved his hand in dismissal.
“Carry on with…whatever you were doing, I guess.” And with that, he’d turned on his heel and left.
“You, over there!” I was snapped out of my memories by the sound of someone yelling at me.
A lady in her late fifties was walking over to me as fast she could. Her face was scowling.
“Are you one of the volunteer housemaids for the gala?” she asked me.
“Y-yes ma’am. I’m Aurora Craton, ma’am.” I said, bowing my head.
I felt a light tap on my shoulder, and raised my head to see the lady holding her hand over her mouth.
“Rory?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied, not understanding her change in attitude.
She surprised me by giving me a big embrace.
“Oooh, Rory! The last time I saw you, you were just a little girl. Look how big you’ve grown!” She pushed me back, eyeing me from head to toe.
“Have you found a mate yet?” she inquired.
“Ummm, no, ma’am. I won’t be eighteen for a couple more days. Do…do I know you?” I asked.
“Oh! I’m sorry, my child. I am Kala. The head housemaid for the leader’s house, and the village midwife. I knew your father, back when he was the pack’s gamma. I knew your mother as well.”
Her face turned mournful. “I was there the day she…” she trailed off. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save her, dear.”
My mom had died giving birth to me. I felt grateful seeing how torn up Kala was. I could tell she’d really tried to save her.
I placed a hand on her shoulder to reassure her. “It’s ok, Mrs. Kala,” I said with a smile. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Kala returned my smile and placed her hands on my shoulders. “I’m glad you’re here, Rory. We’re going to need all the help we can get.”
I spent the rest of the day helping clean and prepare the mansion for the alpha’s birthday celebration. Kala told me that there would be over six hundred guests between our pack and neighbouring ones, so there was a lot to do.
“How big of a party do you need?” I muttered to myself as I dragged a heavy bucket of dirty water behind me. I struggled to turn a corner when wham!
I bumped into someone and the dirty water spilled all over the marble floors I’d just mopped.
“Unbelievable,” a deep, commanding voice rumbled.
I frowned at the tone. As if this was all my fault. I turned to give this guy a piece of my mind, but the words died on my lips when I saw who it was.
“Please excuse me, sir,” I said meekly, my heart pounding in my chest.
I remembered the little boy that had questioned me when I was a kid. Now he was all grown up.
He still had that mop of unruly black hair, and the same bright blue eyes, but now he towered over me, his broad shoulders practically casting me in shadow. I could see the strength in his frame, and the sharp cut of his jaw was clenched tight.
His clothes were wet with dirty water, and I could see the annoyance in his gaze.
“I don’t recognize you,” he said. “Are you a new maid?”
He doesn’t remember me.
I nodded. “I’m here to prepare for the gala.”
“Gala?” Alpha Wolfgang frowned.
“For your birthday, sir.”
“Ah. Right.” Wolfgang sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
He didn’t look too happy about this huge celebration. Did he even want it in the first place?
“Well, clean this up,” he ordered, gesturing to the dirty puddle.
I nodded and stepped away from him, but I slipped on the wet floor. I yelped as I went crashing down, but powerful arms wrapped around me, breaking my fall.
Wolfgang stared down at me, a frown on his face. “How useless can you be, maid?”
I was speechless. He held me tight against his chest, and I could feel the hardness of his muscles through his clothes.
It felt like my entire body was on fire.
“Th-thank you—” I managed to stammer out before he let go and dropped me to the ground. The dirty water splashed all over me.
“Hey!” I complained.
He smirked at me, and I hated that my heart skipped a beat.
“Now we’re even,” he said, gesturing to his own dirty clothes. He walked away, leaving me gaping after him in disbelief.
What a jerk!
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