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Chapter 2

When my best friend Sylvie turned eighteen, I took her to an amusement park with the tallest roller coaster in Oregon. She had a blast. I lost my voice, screaming in terror, but I did it for her.

I made her promise to keep things low key for my birthday. She won’t tell me what she planned, but insists we need to do it the day before my birthday and promises I will love it.

I try to stay as still as possible when I hear the door to my room creak open because I know what’s next. It’s the same every year.

Three…… twwwoooo…... one……

“UMPH!” All my air gets pushed out when Sylvie pounces on my mountain of bedding. She laughs maniacally while she tries to tickle me through the blankets.

“ZeeZee! I know you’re in there somewhere!” She squeals from outside my fortress. “We have so much to do today! GET UP!!”

“Sylvie! Come on, you promised low key,” I groan from the bottom of the pile at her weight on top of me.

The covers pull away and I’m uncomfortably close to Sylvie’s megawatt smile, sparkling brown eyes, and short brown hair, “How do you feel? Is she awake yet? Can you feel her?”

“No, Sylvie. She’ll wake up at the Mating Gathering tonight.” I squint against the bright light. My head is pounding from yesterday’s whiskey. Sylvie and Liam turned eighteen a couple of months ago and have been talking non-stop about their wolves ever since. Sylvie's boyfriend Mark turned eighteen last-week. He hasn't said much about his wolf except that he's pretty cool.

“Whoa! Are you okay, bestie?” She looks concerned and crawls under the covers with me. “Were you crying? No crying the day before your birthday, Zara. What happened?”

“Liam and I, well, we sort of had a fight last night.” Tears pool in my eyes again. She wipes them away while I tell her exactly what happened. “It was like he couldn’t control himself, Sylvie. I was so scared that I bit him and now he won’t answer my texts or calls.”

“Put your foot down, Zara.” She looks at me sympathetically. “I know it’s difficult for you to stand up for yourself, and he’s about to be your fated mate, but you can still have boundaries.”

“You’re right. Thank you for listening. I can always count on you.” Her warm hug makes me feel better.

“Well, before your birthday surprise, there is a surprise waiting for you downstairs.” She raises her eyebrow and pinches my cheek while she gives me a mischievous look. “Get yourself cleaned up. I’ll wait for you downstairs.”

I shower quickly and go to meet Sylvie. When I reach the bottom of the stairs, I stop short and feel my heart hit a hard beat. Liam is in the living room with an enormous bouquet. Sylvie is peeking through the front door, but steps outside and closes it when I make eye contact with her.

“Hi, Z, I-I’m sorry I didn’t call you back last night. The whiskey got to me more than I realized.” He gives me an apologetic look and smiles, melting my heart. “I promise I won’t get drunk like that anymore. It’s not fair to you.”

He still has a bite mark on his neck and I see he wrapped his hand in a bandage when he hands the flowers to me. His wolf hasn’t healed him yet? I didn’t know I bit him that hard. I step forward to touch his neck. “Liam, a-are you okay? You aren’t heal-”

“I have something else for you.” He flinches away and ignores me. If I didn’t know better, I would think something is wrong, but I can’t tell what it is. He pulls a thin box out from behind him and hands it to me. 

“Liam! Wh-what is all this?” I smile and blink back tears. Liam didn’t have a job while we were in school so he could focus on training to be accepted into the pack guard trainee program. Once we graduated, he got accepted, but he has only had a couple of paychecks so far. We both agreed he should save his money so we could start looking for an apartment together after the Mating Gathering.

“Just open it, Zara. It’s not the real thing yet, but one day, when I make senior guard, it will be.” His hazel eyes search mine, as if he is hoping to never talk about last night again. “Until then, I want everyone to know you’re mine.”

The way he says the last part makes me take a sharp breath. It should be comforting, right? He wants everyone to know we are together. So why does it feel like there is more to his tone?

I open the box slowly and find a gold necklace with a heart-shaped pendant. The pendant has a diamond in the middle. There is an ‘L’ engraved on one half and a ‘Z’ on the other.

“Oh, Liam… it’s beautiful!” I gasp, holding up the necklace to the light. The little diamond sparkles brilliantly. “Can you put it on for me?”

“Of course, Z.” I hand him the necklace and turn around. He secures the necklace and wraps his arms around me from behind, leaning over to kiss my neck. He takes a deep breath in, taking in my scent. It’s something he’s done a thousand times before. Why does it feel uncomfortable now? “I can smell your wolf waking up, Z. I bet she’s going to be just as beautiful as you.”

“Thank you.” I turn around in his arms and give him a soft kiss. “You and Mark are picking us up tonight, right? We are all going to walk from here?”

“Yeah,” he caresses my cheek and admires me, “we’ll be here before sundown.”

“Okay.” I relax a little and let myself put my arms around him in return. “Thank you for the gifts. You didn’t have to.”

“You deserve it, Z.” He kisses me again and steps back. “I have to get going. Have fun with Sylvie today.”

“Okay. Thank you.” I smile and watch him leave, stopping to talk to Sylvie for a moment. I put the flowers in water and wait for him to leave.

When I’m sure he’s gone, I go outside to meet up with my best friend.

“Everything good now?” She tilts her head and smiles at me.

“Yeah. J-just a misunderstanding.” I nod at her. It’s not a misunderstanding, I think to myself. Something is going on with my boyfriend that he isn’t telling me about, but I don’t want to disappoint Sylvie.

“Okay, good. Ready for your surprise?” Sylvie asks, bouncing up and down on her toes.

“Yeah, I’m ready.” I smile at her excitement.

“For your eighteenth birthday... we are having... a spa day!” She says in a grandiose sing-song voice. “Massages, nails, hair, make-up, the works.”

“Sooo… just the two of us? No boyfriends?” I squeal with glee. She nods her head and pulls me to her car.

***

“Whoa, ZeeZee. You look like a supermodel.” Sylvie’s eyes get big when the stylist finishes my hair and make-up.

“Thanks,” I look at my hands in my lap and blush at her compliment, “but you’re the one who looks like you could be on a runway, Sylvie.”

Sylvie rolls her eyes in frustration at my timidness. “Fine, you look like dog vomit. Let’s go. We need to get changed before the guys get to your house.”

We get back to my house, where our moms help us get into our dresses and touch up our makeup. They sit down and explain what it will feel like when the moon is at its peak and the Moon Goddess sends down her blessings, allowing us to find our mates.

“You might feel warm inside, even though it’s supposed to be cool out tonight,” Mom explains. “It’s a little uncomfortable, but completely normal.”

“Just remember, once you find your mates, you don’t have to go out and, well... mate right away. You’ll have the rest of your lives together for that.” Sylvie’s mom lectures us about mating etiquette.

“Mom, Mark and I have been dating for five years. Zara and Liam have been together for over six years. We’ve BEEN waiting!” Sylvie exaggerates with her hands when she talks, making the rest of us giggle.

“If it turns out the boys are not your destined mates, try not to be disappointed. Be happy for them if they find someone else,” Mom adds, “and don’t be obnoxious if you find someone else, either. It’s not polite.”

I roll my eyes and tell her there’s no way Liam and Mark are not our destined mates, but I’m interrupted when the doorbell rings. Sylvie and I jump up, ready to greet our boyfriends.

“Zara, you look amazing.” Liam stares at me in awe. He takes my hand and kisses it. “I don’t know if I’ll even notice the full moon tonight. I won’t be able to take my eyes off of you.” 

“Thank you.” I murmur, not able to look at him.

“Zara?” I hear Mark say. He drops his arms from around Sylvie’s waist and stares at me. He is silent for a moment too long, making things uncomfortable. “You look so… damn hot.”

The tone of his voice isn’t one you use with your best friend’s girlfriend. It’s not one you use with a friend you’ve known since elementary school. It’s thick with passion and lust. I feel my mouth open and put my hands up to cover my face. 

“MARK!” Sylvie pushes against his chest and growls.

“Dude, what the Hell?” Liam positions himself so I’m standing behind him. I peek around his arm to see what is happening.

Mom steps forward to defend me. The growl in her voice shows her wolf, Daisy, is close to the surface. “Mark Pearson, what’s gotten into you?”

Mark blinks a few times and shakes his head, almost exactly like Liam and Dad did yesterday. “Oh Goddess. I-I’m sorry, Zara. I don’t know what... Liam, I’m sorry, man.”

“Don’t let it happen again.” Liam’s tone is defensive, still holding me behind him. “Why don’t you and Sylvie get a head start? We’ll catch up in a minute.”

Mark nods and gives me an apologetic look while Sylvie leads him out of the living room.

“You okay, Z?” Liam takes my face in his hands and searches my eyes.

I clear my throat. What I want to say ‘no’, but it comes out as, “Y-yeah. I’m fine. L-et’s get going.”

Mom gives me a heavy hug and a long kiss on the cheek before Liam leads me out the door and we walk in the direction of the pack territory’s main gate.

Comments (3)
goodnovel comment avatar
Bella Jersey
I love Slyvie not got play Zara game fine you look like dog vomit better?
goodnovel comment avatar
Bonnie Sanchez
I live in Oregon and there are not many roller coasters. I think the tallest one is at this rinky dink little place called Oaks Park. Not anything to write home about.
goodnovel comment avatar
Theo Williams
I’m intrigued. What’s up with her scent? Why are the males acting strange around Z?
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