What could possibly go wrong...

As I wandered to the training fields, my mind always goes back to the stares I get from the clan. I know I do not look like my kin. Aside from my father, all my brothers look just like our mother. But my red hair and green eyes do not look like any known living relative. For some reason, everyone thinks my parents had a witch make me for them, so they could finally have a daughter. I have been a generally attractive person. I mean, I'm not ugly. But to be accused as being created... it's upsetting, especially for my parents. My mother was just so happy to have me, that I don't think she actually noticed my red hair and green eyes until the next day. But dad noticed, he said it was the most beautiful thing he ever saw, my mother holding me. I try not to let it upset my brothers that I was the one they were so happy to have. 

Before the twins were born, I was the baby. My brothers would pick on me and poke fun because I looked different. But they were also the ones who first taught me to fight, to protect myself. There was no way they were going to let anyone even get near me to start, but they weren’t going to leave me without a way to save myself. 

Gareth made sure that I knew how to keep my weight balanced but low. Thomas showed me how to cause more damage with calculated hits. Jac taught me the best way to dodge my opponent. 

I knew my brothers would be my first line of defense. When I started school, I was getting picked on. Red hair was not a common trait, and but not common, no one in our clan has red hair, except me. My brothers did their best to protect me, but I was alone for the better part of my school. Jac flew through school, even graduated before Thomas. Gareth was 10 by the time I was born, in high school before I even started school. By the time I was 8, my father pulled me from school, unable to bear the things kids would say to me, the alpha’s daughter. I started  homeschool. Dad even had a library built next to my bedroom, so that I could always read. I finished school early, only because I didn’t stop for summers. When I no longer needed a teacher for help, Dad put a secret doorway in my room to the library, and every now and then would leave new books for me to read. Mom would sneak a new tea cup in for me on occasion. 

When all members of our clan turn 13, they start training, boy or girl. Dad wanted to make sure that everyone was always safe. Women never had to fight in war, unless they wanted to. I started training at 10, because my father was afraid the older kids would pick on me when they saw me out in the village. I rarely left as it was, but mom didn’t wasn’t fond of her little girl fighting. She had private sessions for me in our courtyard, with our best trainers, and Gareth. 

I had gotten so deep into thought, I almost walked past the training fields. Nia caught me out of the corner of her eye and just about jumped over her opponent to get to me. 

“Good morning daydreamer! Late again, huh? Stuck in the clouds? “ Nia’s voice was always upbeat and sweet, just like her. 

“Heh, yeh. Had to help plan the party before I could come down.” I said rubbing the back of my neck. 

“Well, let’s get going, we have a lot to talk about the party, but not until after I kick your butt!” Nia said grabbing my hand and dragging me to the sparring rings. 


After a solid 90 minutes of sparring, and slightly letting her win, we headed back to my house. 

“Are you excited to meet your mate? I can’t wait to meet mine! I’m hoping that I will meet them at your party. YOUR PARTY! Oh my god! Listen to me going all about me, it's YOUR party!! I’m so sorry!!” Nia’s voice filled with apologies. 

“It’s fine Nia, you want yours so much more than I. I don’t even think there is anyone out there that even remotely for me, mate or not.” I started kicking the dirt while we walked, pulling at my hair. “This red beacon on the top of my head is why no one here likes me, why would anyone else?”

  “Are you kidding me?! You are the prettiest, most beautiful person alive. There is no way that you won’t find them! The people around here are lame anyways, you’re beautiful inside AND out!” Nia said, her eyes lighting up like star filled oceans. 

Nia was a year and some older than me, and the daughter of our Beta, Jaxon and his mate, Awena. She had yet to find her mate, but she also didn’t travel far outside the village. I always tried to keep her hopes up that he was out there, just not born yet. She jokes because everyone knows my parents’ story, but she would always get a little bummed out. 

She had sparkling blue-green eyes that would shift in the sun and moon from bright aqua, to a penetrating navy purple, like the midnight sky. She had lucious golden hair, like spun magic, that fell down over her shoulders, and sat right above her navel. She was a dream to look at, for men and women, but she held herself for her mate, never wanting to hurt a childhood love, should they not be hers. 

“Dee, is it true, your dad invited everyone?” Nia questioned, as she knows I’ve finally had enough of this talk. 

As we walked up the stairs of the pack house, a giant deck, and massive wooden door greeted us. The porch wrapped around, and the side entrance would take us closer to my room. 

“Yeah, just about everyone and their mother from what I understand. Even Jac is coming home for it. Said studies can wait, his baby sister is becoming a wolf.” I was pretty happy Jac would be home, his studies took him all over the place, it had been almost 2 years since I saw him last. 

“Really? Mister brains is coming home to see you?” Nia joked, nudging me with her elbow “ You are a pretty big deal, kid.”  

As we cornered into the hallway leading to my library, Nia stopped dead in her tracks. I all but stumbled over her. 

“Hey! Nia, what the hell?” I was really confused. While I stared at her, to see what her response would be, she whispered something, and I didn’t quite catch it. I shook her shoulder “Nia, what’s wrong?” This was totally unlike her. 

“...mate....” Nia whispered, a little louder this time. She broke out of her trance like stasis. “Dee, my mate, he’s here. I can smell him, he smells like … leather and,.... And wood.” Nia’s eyes shone like the night’s sky. Purple bleeding into blue at the edges. 

“It sounds like he smells like a bookshelf.” I chuckled. “Come on, let’s follow that nose. He’s gotta be around here somewhere, right?” I wasn’t sure how it really worked, and seeing the effect he had on her from this far away, I was uninterested in finding mine even more. 

Nia grabbed my hand and pulled me down the hall. She stopped just outside my library. 

“Are you sure it’s not my bookshelves?” I half-joked. We stood there in the hallway for a full minute in silence before she cracked the door open. 

There are only ever 4 people that even go to my library. Me, obviously, my parents and... 

“Jac.” Nia and I said at the same time.

My brother Jac opened the door the rest of the way. The two of them just stared at each other, and I was, standing there like the odd one out. 

The last two years had been kind to my brother. No scars, no missing limbs. His ashy blond hair tied back into a low ponytail, right at the base of his neck. Clean shaven as always, a golden tint taken to his skin. Lean, and dorky in appearance, but still able to hold his own in a one on one. 

“...mate…” They both just said, in a very unison tone. My guess is the wolves were going insane inside their heads. 

“I totally forgot Jac never found his mate. Obviously, it’s because you were here, and he was... Well… somewhere else. Oh, you were only 17 when he left, so you wouldn’t have even known. I’m sure not having a mate made his learning a lot easier, but I’m sure you two will adapt.” I was basically talking outloud, but to myself. They were still in a trance. 

Finally, Jac seemed to break out of it, and grabbed my hand.

“Well, I had a present for you, but apparently you had one for me too. My research finished sooner than I thought, so I thought I’d surprised you and come home early.” Jac pulled me in for a hug, and kissed the top of my head. Once he let go, and handed me a present, clearly a book, wrapped in newsprint, tied with some raffata in a bow. 

“Thanks Jac, I’m sure I will love it. I will, uh, leave you two. Bring her back for dinner. I’ll go tell Mom and Dad.” I said, smiling at him. “Nia, leave him in one piece, he’s mentally strong, but he’s a wimp.” I pushed him towards her, and chuckled. 

I walked into my library, still chuckling and shaking my head. Jac and Nia, who’d’ve thunk. I placed the book down on my table by my little fireplace in the corner. A new tea cup, white with a green and silver design, sat on a little silver saucer, with a note underneath the edge. 

A new cup for your new book, my little spark. Love Jac. 

I sat down and opened my present, very carefully unwrapping it. I placed the book down and folded the newsprint neatly. I picked up the book, looking it over carefully. Jac always found obscure books on his research trips for me, something new to add to my library. I wonder if this is the last book he will get me, now that he’s a mated man. I sighed lightly, I would miss this. I flipped the book over to the cover. The Country and the City by Raymond Williams. The book was greyish in color, always a hard cover. I went over to my shelf where I kept the books of urban citylife. I picked up the newsprint and went to my window, where a box sat on a shelf. I unlocked the box with a little brass key that sat in a blue saucer, and other newsprints popped up, the box starting to overflow. I placed my newest one in, and closed the box up, turned the key, and placed it back in the saucer. 

I wandered out into the hallway, and headed to my father’s office. It was just before eleven, he should be settling in for lunch with mom soon, so no one would be in his office. The stones in the floor were rounded, the sun would dance off them as it peaked through the skylights. But as the day went on, the sun disappeared, and they just looked like rocks. 

As I approached my father’s door, I realized I still hadn’t showered after training, and I was probably a mess. I knocked on his office door, *thump thump th thump* I could hear him move towards me, and the door swung open.

“Hello angel, what are you doing here…. And why are you still dressed for training?” Father said, very puzzled. 

“ Well, it's a story, for sure.” Dad motioned me to come in and closed the door as I spoke. “Nia and I were coming back from training, she was going on and on about the party.” Dad nodded, silently chuckling at the social butterfly that is my best friend. I laid down on the sofa, swinging my legs over the arm of the couch. “So we wandered inside, and she stopped dead in her tracks, deer in headlights, brain out of this universe. Maybe 50 feet from my library. She tells me she can smell her mate, wood and leather. I laughed at her that she was smelling my bookcases. But she was adamant, so I told her to follow her nose. We wind up at my library.  I told her it is my books, and the Jac opened the door. By the way, Jac is home, and he’s Nia’s mate.” I sat up and looked at my father, his head in his hands. 

He had his phone on his lap. Not a minute later, our Beta was in the office. I smiled, as was polite. But I 100% know I have to tell this story, again. 

“Dad, you do understand I just lost my best, and only, friend, to my brother. Do I really have to go over this, again?” Pleading with my voice and my eyes. 

“No darling, you do not. You do, however, need to shower. It’s wednesday, doesn’t Gareth take you to lunch today?” Dad said, pretending to plug his nose and swat at me. 

“Yes yes father.” I got up to hug him before I left.

“You get a pass this time, go shower before the skunks drop dead.” My father laughed and pushed me out of the office. “Jaxon and I, plus your mother and Awena, are going to figure out when the wedding will be.” Jaxon’s laughter cracked through his office. Nia was his oldest daughter, of 4. He had girls like dad had boys. 

“Hey, it was bound to happen the way you guys have kids.” I shouted as I walked out, laughing at them. 

I headed back to my room, and wandered into my bathroom. A bright green room, with silver and black accents, a large glass shower, and my favorite, a claw foot tub. I turned the hot water on in the shower. Stripped down, tossing my clothes into the corner, and stepped into the steamy warmth to clean off today’s gross training.

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