Chapter 2

The bell attached to the diner’s door rang, followed by Stella calling out.

“Hello there, feel free to seat yourselves!”

“Oh look, more drifters.” Adley snorted, a light blush staining her cheeks.

Wondering what the hell had Adley blushing, I turned in the booth and looked over at the couple. A girl we had never seen before walked in and took a seat at one of the cracked booths, followed by a guy. The girl had long legs, an envious hourglass figure, and a long mess of chocolate curls. The childhood version of myself was instantly jealous as I looked over her smooth blemish-free skin. I was nothing like her, with my flaming red hair and coating of freckles across my face. I could see what Adley was blushing about, the girl looked like a model. The guy was definitely swoon-worthy. Raven hair, hazel eyes and a jawline made of sharp angles. His build was a little smaller than Aidan’s, but the muscles were much more defined.

All of the drifters who traveled through our little town were shiny and new, dressed nicely with the latest fashions and technology. This little town seemed far behind the rest of the world. Don’t get me wrong, we have phones, cars and electricity but nothing as shiny and new as the rest of the world.

“You could always go talk to her.” I shrugged, smirking as the blush on Adley’s face deepened.

“I’m not interested in a one-time fling.” Adley shook her head, a dreamy glaze covering her eyes. “I want romance--adventure!”

“Adventure?” I snorted, unable to conceal my chuckles, “Girl, you moved to the wrong town if you’re looking for adventure.”

“You’d be surprised.” Adley scoffed, waving away my sarcastic words as she often did. “I’d love to meet a gorgeous she-wolf in a small town, only to whisk her away and show her the world. It’d be even better if she turned out to be my mate.”

I couldn’t help but cackle at her blissful dream, noting how she repeated the words I often used. Adley had no romantic interest in me, but she enjoyed flirting with any who’d listen.

“Are you trying to steal my heart?” I raised my eyebrow, a teasing smile on my face. “How many times have I told you I wanted to leave this pack and see the world?”

“Please, as if. I’d hate to break your heart, but you’re just not my type.” Adley chuckled, sticking her tongue out at me.

“Here you go girls.” Stella grinned, a platter balancing in the palm of her hand.

Stella set our food in front of us and I watched as Adley eyed the steaming cobbler greedily, like a goblin who had just spotted a trove of gold.

Instead of my usual bacon grilled cheese and tomato soup combo, Stella had swapped the soup for a large basket of nachos. Sour cream drizzled down the sides while thin sliced jalapeno filled the air with a spicy scent. The smell of cumin and chili powder filled the air around us, beckoning to my empty stomach. A glass of sweet-tea sat in front of me, condensation licking down the sides of the glass.

“Let me know if you enjoy them nachos, Andy cooked em’ up special for ya.” Stella grinned, leaving the two of us to eat. “Got yourself an admirer, they paid for your tea.”

“Thanks Stella!” I called out, turning my attention back to Adley, who took deep gulps of her vibrant looking milkshake.

After a quick glance around the diner for my mysterious tea supplier, I came up short. Apart from the regulars, there were the two drifters across the room. At the other end of the diner sat a couple kids from school, talking loudly and sharing laughter.

In a school as small as ours, you were in class with half of the town. Leo, a kid from my History class, met my eyes and smiled brightly. Leo’s Mom happened to be the History teacher, resulting in his unblemished 4.0 GPA. Long and lanky with shaggy blonde hair, Leo was on our town’s crappy soccer team. I raised the glass of tea in his direction, smiling as I took a sip. I stared down at the glass of tea, the taste of mint prominent in my mouth. A single mint leaf floated on the surface of the sweet tea.

‘Mint sweet tea?’ My wolf, Rayna, questioned. ‘I’m liking it. We’ll have to thank Leo later.’

While my stomach twisted sourly at the thought of Leo having a crush on me, I turned my attention back to Adley.

“Finding your mate in a town with a population of one hundred and twenty-three has horrible odds.” I shook my head, “There’s nothing romantic or adventurous about that.”

“From the way Aidan looks at you, it seems you two have beat those odds.” Adley smirked, poking at the blush on my cheeks with the end of her spoon. “Thursday will be the grand reveal! I’m beyond excited for your birthday!”

I wanted to giggle and share her enthusiasm, but my smile came up short. Being mated to Aidan wouldn’t be a bad thing at all, but I couldn’t see him wanting to leave this little town behind. His Mom, Dad and sisters all lived here. While my parents lived here too, I couldn’t wait until the day I left.

I longed to see the vibrant forest, jagged mountains and cascading streams that surrounded our small patch of territory. I wanted to taste spices from other countries, sample wine from the countless Vineyards in the South. This little town offered nothing but history, and for years I had longed for more.

“Plus, Iridian starts Monday!” Adley all but swooned, tossing a french fry in her open mouth. “Can you imagine it? Getting an invitation, traveling to the Iridescence Pack and stepping through those open gates. Walking the streets, falling in love, playing the game.”

“Better you than me.” I shook my head, a sour look on my face. “I don’t have time for games. As soon as I turn eighteen, I’m planning a journey far away from this pack. How’s that for an adventure?”

“I swear, you’re one of the only people against playing Iridian.” Adley rolled her eyes, shaking her head at me as though she were scolding a child. “You know how rare it is to actually receive an invitation? The entire Iridescence pack is full of magic! Actual magic, isn’t that amazing?”

“Unless that magic is helping me leave this place, I don’t care for it.” I shrugged, as Adley and I have had this conversation many times before. “Besides, the people who play the game always leave different. It brings out the worst in people.”

“It can also bring out the best.” Adley shrugged, popping another french fry into her mouth. “Just depends on the person.”

Iridian was the event of the year, causing excited chatter throughout the world. Open to werewolves only, Iridian is a game designed to trick the mind. Every year twenty invitations were sent at random, delivered to all parts of the world. No one knows the full story on how it began, only that a young Alpha with a penchant for trickery and games started the tradition. History mixed with folklore, weaving a tale of magic and betrayal.

No one alive knows the Alpha of the Iridescence pack’s name, and most refer to him only as the Game Maker. Rumor has it that the Game Maker is a half-breed. While his Father was a werewolf, his Mother was a powerful witch. The combination of species was unheard of, and happened before most of the witches went into hiding. Iridian was started over seventy years ago, with the infamous Game Maker taking the lead.

There are many tales that explain why the Game Maker doesn’t age, tales of fiction with increments of truth.

Some say the Game Maker’s mate was a powerful witch, scorned when she caught him with another woman. As she killed the Game Maker’s mistress, she devised a plot. Instead of killing the Game Maker, she cursed him and halted the aging process. He would never cross death’s doors and reunite with his beloved. There are hundreds of tales similar to this, all fairytales of magical beings and curses born from a black heart.

“I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.” I chuckled, taking a bite of my grilled cheese. Even though I ate at the diner two times a week, Andy’s bacon grilled cheese hit the spot.

“You can’t tell me you aren’t the tiniest bit curious.” Adley smirked, pointing at me with her cheese-coated french fry. “Their territory is huge, and the setting changes each year. Plus, no one’s ever seen the Game Maker’s face. If I got an invitation, I’d use my cunning nature and find the Game Maker.”

“You? Cunning?” I snorted, collapsing into laughter.

“Okay, so I’m not a mischievous trouble maker like some but I’m not completely inept.” Adley scoffed, tossing a french fry at me in disapproval.

“As obsessed with Iridian as you are, they should televise it.” I shrugged, a smile twitching at the corners of my lips. “They’d make millions.”

“If they televised it, the mystery would die out.” Adley chuckled, “They can’t go revealing all of their secrets!”

“Here’s to you finally getting your invitation.” I giggled, clinking my glass against her own.

“And here’s to a super awesome eighteenth birthday!” Adley grinned, clinking her empty milkshake glass against my own.

“I don’t know how you drink those milkshakes so fast.” I shook my head, watching the pink liquid run down the sides of her glass.  

“Did I mention I’m lactose intolerant?” Adley grinned sheepishly, taking a bite of her grease-dripping burger.

“You must like pain, huh?” I raised my eyebrow at her, looking between the finished milkshake and her chili cheese fries.

“I enjoy cheese.” Adley shrugged, and continued eating. “And ice cream.”

Comments (125)
goodnovel comment avatar
Judy Bruno
more interesting
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Michelle Armes
really interesting
goodnovel comment avatar
I can’t get enough of everything you write!! Keep it up

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