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Chapter 7

After countless conversations with my parents about my plans, you’d think I’d finally learn my lesson. Each and every time they dismissed what I wanted, as though I’d come to my senses eventually. Neither of them actually accepted the fact that I was truly leaving.

They both expected me to stay and dedicate my life to taking care of my brother. The moment I graduated high school; Mom insisted I enroll at the community college two towns over. I avoided that conversation at all costs. I wanted so much more than staying in this town and doing online college. I wasn’t sure why she wanted me to go to college in the first place, I wouldn’t need a degree in a town this small.

I trudged upstairs, my shoulders sagging from the invisible weight placed on them. Instead of throwing myself onto the bed and groaning into a pillow, I picked up the old wooden chest that belonged to my Grandpa. The box had once been beautiful in its prime, but like Grandpa Kent, it had withered and faded with age. The once emerald paint was now the color of old moss, chipped and peeling in places. Most of the golden trimming had long ago been torn off by Zack, and I quickly learned to keep it out of his reach.

Grandpa Kent was another bright spot in this little town. He had moved into the house shortly after us, as he was well over ninety years old. Grandma Darlene had passed many years ago, when I was little more than fourteen years old. Zack doesn’t remember much of Grandpa Kent, but I remember plenty. Grandpa Kent had always understood my incessant need to leave this little town. He’d tell me all about his old pack, located deep in the mountains. Grandpa had once been a warrior, and traveled the world. He met Grandma when he visited the Midnight Pack, a large pack hidden deep within a dense forest. He would tell me all about his adventures, all about the things he saw while he traveled.

Iridian had started when Grandpa was only fourteen years old. As a kid, he prayed for an invitation but the minimum age to play was eighteen. While I never shared his love for Iridian, I was enamored with the tales he told. A friend of Grandpa’s had been invited and participated in the games. His friend was unable to win, but many attend Iridian for the sights and adventure. Grandpa’s friend wasn’t able to give him details of the game, but had told him of the magic within the Iridescence Pack’s walls.

‘Oh, it’s dangerous alright.’ Grandpa nodded, repeating the words he had told me many times. ‘Some lose their minds, some die, some vanish and never return.’

‘Then why does anyone show up, Grandpa?’ I frowned.

‘What is life without a little risk?’ Grandpa grinned, his eyes sparkling as he was propelled into the past. ‘Long before I was born, magic existed in the world. It was everywhere! You couldn’t walk ten feet without spotting seer’s, healer’s and even a sorcerer or two!’

‘What happened to the magic, Grandpa?’

‘I’m not old enough to know.’ Grandpa chuckled, ‘Some say it vanished, got tired of us abusin’ it. All I know is the only place you’ll find magic like that is in Iridian.′

Grandpa Kent died a year ago, a day I would never forget. He had lingered on the cusp of life and death to give me this little box. The box itself was unimportant, a relic that belonged to Grandma Darlene, but the contents meant the world to me. Old photographs of some of the places he had been were scattered inside the box. The pictures were old and faded in some spots, some full of coffee stains, but they were the closest thing I had to leaving this town myself.

‘Your Mom’s just tryin’ to protect you, Rachel.′ Grandpa had told me many times, ‘She’s not always the best at showin’ it, but she loves you.′

‘I know she does, but I can’t waste my life in this town.’ I sighed.

I was sixteen years old at the time of this conversation, and not a day goes by where I don’t miss my Grandpa. He was one of the only people who truly listened to me, who knew what I wanted and understood why.

‘You’ve always been too big for a town this small.’ Grandpa chuckled, ‘When you do leave, stay safe and be smart. Even with magic gone, this world is not kind.’

I thumbed through the old photographs in the box, my eyes roaming each photo as though I could wish myself out of this town. One photo had a forest so dense, you couldn’t see the earth in between the towering trees. Another photo had a trickling stream, moss covered rocks set in the middle. Anytime this town became too suffocating, I would look at these pictures and imagine something better. I could see myself leaping from rock to rock, laughing as the cold water seeped into my shoes and socks. My favorite picture of the bunch, was by far the most plain.

For reasons unknown to me, Grandpa had taken a picture of the side of someone’s house. The house was unlike anything I had seen before. The only thing in the photo was a smooth wall and a large window. The wall of the house was white, but something within the material glittered beautifully. Gold trimming ran around the length of the window, little figures and pictures carved into the gold. A couple rays of sun hit the smooth wall, showcasing the glittering material inside. The picture was plain but absolutely beautiful.

Grandpa had always encouraged the things I wanted, and despite the pain lingering in my bones, I knew what I needed to do. Come my birthday, I would leave this little town behind. I would travel the world, and come back home with pictures and gifts for my family. Mom and Dad might not understand now, but someday they would.

With Grandpa’s box on the side of my bed, I curled under the covers and closed my eyes. I let the pictures of dense forests, snow-capped mountain tops, and glittering houses lull me to sleep.

* * * * *

Excitement mixed with a hint of dread filled my stomach as I woke up that morning. Even the thin coating of sweat along my skin couldn’t dim the excitement coursing through my veins. Tomorrow was the start of the rest of my life. I would either find my mate in this small town, or venture out into the world.

I hopped in the shower and scrubbed the sweat from my body. By the time I walked back to my bedroom, Adley’s grinning figure sat on my bed. Even in a white tank-top and jean shorts, Adley looked like a model. Her high cheekbones were highlighted as her blonde hair was pulled up into a ponytail. A wide grin was etched onto her face as she bounced on my bed.

“One more day, Rachel!” Adley grinned, excited as always.

“I know when my birthday is.” I snorted, rifling through my small closet for something to wear.

“You don’t seem the tiniest bit excited.” Adley scolded me with a stern shake of her head.

Adley loved romance, so the idea of traveling the world for my mate was usually at the forefront of her mind. At least she wasn’t like my Mom and Dad. Adley never discouraged me from leaving this little pack.

“Mom and Dad tried to convince me to stay another year.” I sighed, motioning for her to turn around so I could change.

“Really?” Adley responded, and I knew the smile had fallen from her face. “Why do they want you to stay so bad?”

“I have no clue.” I shook my head and slipped on a pair of shorts. “They want to homeschool Zack but need someone to watch him every day. Oh, you can turn back around now.”

“I love your Mom and Dad, but that’s not your job.” Adley frowned, meeting my eyes with a pitiful glance. “Even if Aiden is your mate, you deserve to live your life the way you choose.”

“Try telling that to my parents.” I chuckled dryly.

“Well, what are you going to do?” Adley asked, her blue eyes burning from the weight of her question. “Are you going to stay, or go?”

“I’m going to go.” I exhaled, surprised at how easy the words left my lips.

I knew Mom had left for work early when the smell of burnt eggs filled the house. I could hear Zack’s laughter from my bedroom and Dad’s irritable growls at the batch of eggs he had just burnt. Dad was furiously scrubbing the charred pan as Adley and I walked downstairs. Zack beamed at Adley, while I cleaned up the mess Dad had made.

“Well, buddy.” Dad sighed, shooting a glare at the blackened pan. “Looks like we're having cereal today.”

While Zack chittered in excitement, I slipped on a pair of old tennis shoes. As we had every day since school ended, Adley and I would leave the house in search of something to do.

“Hey, Rachel.” Dad called out, making me turn on my heel. “Could you drop Mom’s lunch off to her? She forgot it this morning.”

“Sure.” I murmured, not quite able to look my Dad in the eye. I felt guilty for leaving my family when they needed help, and wondered how they would react when I truly left.

‘If you stayed, they’d just find another reason to keep us once the year was up.’ Rayna sighed, speaking the words I refused to admit to myself. ‘We’d never leave this town.’

The library was one of the nicer buildings in town. The eggshell walls had become stained throughout the years, and the entire library smelled of dust and rotting paper. Light music played over the speakers, crackling every so often. Mom sat in the center of the room, behind an old oak desk that had been made long before my birth. A pair of frameless reading glasses sat on her nose, her fingers clacking away at the computer. The sound of her fingers hitting the raised keys echoed throughout the empty library.

I hadn’t a clue how Mom managed to keep this job. The monotony alone would drive me insane. There weren’t enough books in this library to keep me busy for a week, let alone a lifetime of working here. Mom’s head snapped up as I set her lunch bag on the desk.

“Oh, thank you, Rachel.” Mom smiled, turning her attention away from the computer. “Was your Dad able to make Zack breakfast?”

“It’s a cereal day.” I shrugged. Whenever Mom left Dad to cook breakfast, we usually ended up eating cereal instead. “He burnt another pan.”

“That man.” Mom sighed, though the fondness she held for Dad shined in her eyes. “His attention span is too short to watch a pan of eggs. Also, Luna Maria was looking for you. She wanted to go over some things for tomorrow.”

“I’ll stop by their house today.” I promised, trying to keep my grimace hidden.

As we left the library, I let out a long sigh. With a population as small as ours, eighteenth birthdays were a cause for celebration. As tedious as it sounded, Luna Maria and the other Mom’s in town would plan a large party for those turning eighteen. The parties consisted solely of unmated werewolves, though a few adult chaperones were present. The pack had grown smaller over the years, as many unmated wolves left in search of their other half. These parties were the Alpha and Luna’s way of making matches between us unmated wolves. If we were to find out mate within this pack, why bother leaving?

Comments (29)
goodnovel comment avatar
sapphyremuse
Currently on chapter 7 and they all need scrapping and rewriting. It's nothing but obsessive talking about "this little town"... seriously not a paragraph goes by without it being mentioned. You do not need 7 chapters to set the scene!!
goodnovel comment avatar
Rekiya Adeshina
I am liking this story
goodnovel comment avatar
Zhang Liying Zhen
really awesome
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