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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