Chapter 2

I woke up that morning and got dressed as though it were any other day. Birthday's no longer felt exciting, but this one felt different.

I felt excited for a chance. I knew I'd still spend the day bullied by Atlas and his friends but today was the day I was able to find my mate. It opened new doors for me in many ways. If I found my mate and he belonged to another pack, my Mom and I would move. I couldn't imagine my mate being from this town, as most of the people my age ignored me completely. 

I combed through my light brown hair, enjoying how much easier it was. A month ago I decided to chop my waist-length hair off, growing tired of how it constantly got in the way. My Mom was supportive and did the deed for me. My hair was no longer getting caught on everything, constantly slipping in my face.

Once I was finished, I went downstairs. Mom had stopped trying to cook breakfast every morning. She had burnt so many pans of bacon I had lost count. Instead of cooking breakfast, she always leaves out some pop tarts and frozen waffles. Like all of my birthdays, there was a note and a small cake out on the counter.

'Happy birthday, Raelynn! I had to leave for work early, another problem with Mr. Barnes ugh. Try and have a good day at school--and I hope you find your mate!'

I smiled at the note, wondering if she'd be having the bad day. Mr. Barnes was like a shark that smelled blood. He constantly pursued my Mom without fail. He wasn't a threat though, simply old and somewhat senile. He had long ago lost his strength and agility, even though he swore he was muscular in his youth.

I grabbed a clean fork and ate a few bites of the small cake. I didn't bother cutting a piece, I wasn't really a fan of cake. The only reason I ate some every year was for my Mom, well that and she always ordered a chocolate cake. Chocolate was probably my favorite thing in the world.

I ran out to the bus stop, wanting to dance with joy when I saw Atlas's car gone from his driveway. That gave me some free time at the bus stop. Just a moment to not be picked at or tormented. I slipped a tattered book from my bag, opening it randomly. I had picked up reading poetry a couple years ago. Dad had always read them to me before bed. This was a way I could be close to him. I even tried my hand at writing poetry a few months ago, realizing that was definitely not a talent of mine. 

The book was tattered and nearly falling apart at the seams, the paper cover worn with holes and dirt. This was the same book Dad had read to me before bed. It was old even then but I had kept it through the years, never once bringing myself to read from it. 

Lost and Found

A sunken chest

    on the ocean ground

    to never be found

    was where he found me.

There he stirred

    my every thought

    my every word

    so gently, so profoundly

Now I am kept

    from my dreams I dreamt

    from once I slept

    so soundly

-Lang Leav

Dad always said poetry held many meanings, conveyed many emotions and faces. You could never read poetry at face value, you had to delve deeper. I struggled with delving deep, gaining hidden meanings. It was a reflection on how I viewed the world. You often didn't have to dive deep with people, their true self sat right on the surface. The only thing holding them back from revealing themselves, was a carefully placed mask. The same mask that would form on Atlas's face when he stood by idle as his friends tormented me. 

I rode the bus to school, my nose buried in my tattered book. I couldn't understand the hidden meanings of any of the poems, yet many of them resonated in my life. 

I met Alyssa at our lockers. She had spent an entire month figuring out who had the locker directly next to my own. She traded with some freshman kid and stayed by my side ever since. Alyssa was funny that way. She could be wild at times, but never pushed my boundaries. 

The first part of my day went on as normal. Only Alyssa told me Happy Birthday, not that I minded. I had gone to school with these kids for many years, and many of them had been invited to my childhood birthday parties. People moved on with their life, surely they didn't remember.

Michelle tossed a wad of paper at the back of my head during first period, while Shaina and Dean called me some names. So far it was just a typical day, I didn't feel any sort of connection as I looked into my classmates eyes.

Werewolves discovered their mate by looking into their eyes. It was then a mate bond would form between the two, tethering them. Mom had explained the process to me at one point in my life. I couldn't bring myself to ask her again, knowing the pain in her eyes would halt me.

The bell for lunch rang and I stifled a sigh. I had more than half of my classes with Alyssa, but I had my lunch alone. More often than not, I would sit in the bathroom and eat. Our lunchroom was huge, but Atlas and his friends always seemed to sit much too closely to whatever table I chose. Sometimes other kids would try and join in on the bullying, hoping for a spot in Atlas's friend group.

Atlas, Michelle, Shaina, Duke, and Dean had all been friends since they were children. For whatever reason they were practically inseparable. Atlas would be the Alpha in just a year's time, while Michelle took her place as Luna. 

Our school was broken up into two wings, each wing leading to the lunchroom through a separate door. I was on the left side of the building, while Atlas and his friends were on the right. 

I walked down the hall, brushing past students that lingered in groups. Our lunch period was abnormally long; 45 minutes to be exact. My heart jumped in my chest as Atlas, Michelle, and Dean came out of a classroom in the same hall as I. I knew their schedules by heart, avoiding them at all costs. Nearly a lifetime of torment did that to a person. I was constantly hyper-aware of where each of them were. 

I hadn't anticipated this--then again, there was a lot I hadn't anticipated.

Michelle was the first to see me, nudging Dean with her elbow until he paid attention. Dean's lips turned up in his patented sly smile, his curly hair bouncing as he walked up to me. It was no use, but I turned on my heel and headed the way I had come. I could live without lunch for a day, but the last thing I needed was bullying on my own birthday.

"It seems a Happy Birthday is in order." Dean's snarky laugh was much too close, just a foot or two behind me. My short legs did me no favors, my pace was much slower than his. 

A hand wrapped around the back of my shirt, spinning me around. Dean's eyes glinted maliciously, but was quickly diverted to the tattered book in my hands.

"No, not this---" I shook my head, clutching the book to my chest as his fingers wrapped around it. 

I could practically hear the withered book groan, my heart along with it. Dean's sly smile was wider now, realizing he had just what he needed to get to me. I could feel the book slipping from my fingers, a strangled whimper leaving my lips. The book was torn from my hands, a quarter of the paper cover fluttering to the floor.

"This book special or something?" Dean cackled, dangling it in front of me like bait. 

Tears stung my eyes, but they often did. Every emotion I had seemed to be wired to my tear ducts, making the waterworks form all too effortlessly. 

My head snapped over to Atlas, my eyes pleading. His steel grey and blue eyes were bright, reminding me of Mercury. I could've sworn time had stopped, that we had been looking at each other for years. I could see my eyes reflected in his own, his heartbeat quickening to match my pace. For the first time, I watched as emotions crossed his face. I had never seen him smile, never seen him laugh in my presence. He was always a silent bystander to my bullying. His eyes widened in surprise, giving me a better look at the colors swirling within them. 

I swore I could hear the mate-bond snap to life between us. The feeling hit like a freight train, rattling my bones and clicking my teeth. All at once I noticed things I had spent years trying to forget. His hair was soft and full, lighter than the color of wheat. His hair framed his strong face perfectly, highlighting his sharp jawline and high cheekbones. 

'Mate.' My wolf's voice was filled with awe as she looked at Atlas for what felt like the first time. 

It was Atlas who tore his eyes away first--to look at his girlfriend, Michelle. 

It was then I realized the world isn't black and white; but cloaked in vast shades of grey.

Michelle looked devastated, her own eyes filling with tears. Her lower lip quivered, her hands shook. I had nearly forgotten they had been dating for two years, he had been hers first. Jealousy burned in my veins, my wolf howling at the girl who had stolen my mate long ago. Michelle wasn't all around an evil person. Sure, she was a horrendous bully but she was also a girl in love. She saved the good in her for Atlas, maybe he returned the same. 

"Don't let him ruin my book." I whimpered, the deafening howls of my wolf ringing in my ears. "Please Atlas."

I had never said his name before, never heard it fall from my lips. His name sounded right on my tongue, tasted sweet and lingering. It was clear he too felt the affects of the mate bond. Something flashed in his eyes, his face softening for just a moment. Before I could appreciate the sight, his hard mask had been put up. His eyes burned into me before flickering over to Dean.

I had some hope, just a sliver of hope that Atlas would surprise me. That he would accept me as his mate, end the tormenting and spend the rest of his life protecting me. I was weaker back then, I believed I needed protecting. Everything I wanted was within grasp, and yet I received none of it. 

Atlas nodded once to Dean, who smirked cruelly in response. I turned my head, knowing the sight would only break my heart further.

A tearing sound could be heard throughout the hallway, followed by the light thumps of my book as it hit the floor in pieces. I couldn't help but look down at the book, the book that I had carried around for years. It was torn into five pieces, random pages and bits of cover were scattered along the floor. 

Atlas had made his decision when he let Dean destroy my book, that much was clear. He had chosen her; his girlfriend of two years. Did that make him fully evil? Evil for choosing the girl he had loved for two years of his life? No, he wasn't evil. Cruel yes, but not evil. Mates were sacred, but rejections happened sometimes. 

"Take Michelle to the cafeteria, I'll be there shortly." Atlas nodded at Dean, and I wondered if his voice had always sounded that way. Silky yet rough, smooth yet raspy. I had heard his voice many times over the years, never once appreciating how it sounded.

I turned my head away from Michelle, flinching at the sob that left her lips. I could feel her pain, mirrored a thousand times within me. Atlas Andino was my mate after all. 

'She can heal from a simple heartbreak.' My wolf hissed in my mind, her fury rolling in waves. 'Rejection is more than that.'

She was right after all, Atlas and I were two halves of a whole. We fit each other perfectly, we were made for each other.

"I, Atlas Andino--" His full lips parted, his incredibly light eyes hard and distant. "reject you Raelynn Tress, as my mate and Luna."

Comments (154)
goodnovel comment avatar
Kasey Brown
What an asshole she should have been the one to reject him first
goodnovel comment avatar
Melissa Helms
I need it to be tomorrow so I can get some more points to read my books!
goodnovel comment avatar
Melissa Helms

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