Scotland 700 BC
Mother’s dark brown eyes crinkled at the corners. I reached up to touch the edges of her face but quickly remembered. I was too weak.
Always too weak.
Even to catch the tear that dripped from her chin onto the threadbare blanket. I shivered as a hooded figure quickly entered the room and shut the door.
I wanted to touch her.
My mouth burned.
My teeth ached.
She sat down next to me and pulled my head into her lap; her face was worried, pale; her green eyes flashed as she whispered to my mother, “This is the last time.”
“I understand.” Mother’s voice cracked. “It’s the only thing that keeps him strong. If my husband were to find out—”
“He would not be Alpha,” the woman finished.
I wanted to be Alpha.
“Born to lead.” Those were the prayers whispered to me by Da.
I shivered as something pierced my neck, and then the room tilted on its side as my vision blurred into a red haze.
It could have been minutes, hours — even days — when my heavy eyes finally opened. My mother was still sitting in the same spot. Her tears were dry, her expression worried.
My arms felt stronger, lighter than they had since waking up in this cruel magical world.
“Maither?” I reached for her. “Do not scared.”
“Be scared,” she admonished and then pulled me into her lap, rocking me back and forth. She smelled like cinnamon and smoke.
“Tell me the story again… of the Great Wolf.”
She stopped rocking me as a great sadness rested against my chest like a blanket of fire.
“Oh, Mas…” She sighed. “…’tis nothing but a faerie tale.”
She took a deep breath, and I knew it in my soul; she was about to tell me my destiny, as sure as the sun would rise and the moon soon after.
I was born to be the Great Wolf.
I closed my eyes as she spoke.
“Those who watch were sent to the Great Mountain to watch over the humans, to keep them safe from the Heavenliness, from what they could not possibly understand. They were given one job.”
“Their job was to never look away… but one day after a great battle where many children’s lives were lost, one of those who Watch could not bear it anymore. He looked upon the face of one of the humans, and he fell. Because one thing you must always remember, my son. Where you look your feet will follow.”
“His brethren, so distraught, had no choice but to follow, they chose to turn away from their true purpose — but not before they were warned.”
“I love this part.” I sighed and waited.
“Your father sang his song to The Creator, warning him that those who watch were looking away. But The Creator refused to remove freedom from any of his creation. More and more wolves sang with your father, howled their warnings to those who were falling — and yet nothing stopped them.” She sighed. “Once they fell, they were scattered throughout the human plane, given no choice but to live on Earth as a prison until they are able to earn their place back in the Heavenliness. They are fallen angels with black and red hair, torn wings. They are what happens when you choose yourself over your family, Mas.”
I shivered in her arms. “I will always choose family.”
She nodded and kissed my forehead. “Once they fell, The Creator wanted to reward your father. He gave him a promise that one day, his bloodline would rise up and restore what had been broken. He will be the greatest wolf this world has ever seen. His power unmeasurable. His abilities uncontrollable. One day he will come to restore the connection between the fallen and the Heavenliness, for wolves are the only immortals who have a direct line to the stars, who know the language of the angels and freely communicate, because we are creation itself. The very earth is in our blood, our eyes. We are the purest of the immortals—”
“Even over vampires?”
My mom hesitated. “Every immortal has a created purpose. Wolves heal, we communicate with the stars. Vampires are better with their hands, able to seamlessly insert themselves in the human world and protect.”
“What about sirens?”
My mom snorted. “You’d have to ask The Creator that. Sirens are… selfish, and yet they too have a purpose, right along with demons. We all work together for the greater good, and one day, that work will all have been worth it. Because the Wolf is coming — and he will save the world as we know it.”
Tears filled my eyes.
Hours later, when she left my room, I crawled over to the window and looked up at the stars. “Please, please, Great Creator, let me be that wolf. I’ll do anything. Let me be that wolf.”
“I won’t hear it again!” Father said in a hushed tone.
I crawled back to bed and hid under the blanket, but I could still discern their voices through the walls.
“He will not be Alpha! He’s weak!”
I cringed as each word hit me in the chest like a boulder crushing bone.
“There is a way…” Maither whispered. “He’s stronger with their blood. It’s seamless when he’s bitten. If we could find a way to—”
“You speak of heresy.”
“I’m speaking of saving our son’s life!” she roared. “And the only way for him to be strong is to make sure he has both bloodlines. You know it’s true. We have no other children. He’s the last male we’ve been gifted with. If not him, then who? We must take matters into our own hands!”
I stilled as the door opened a crack then closed.
I pretended to be asleep when my father kissed my forehead.
I pretended to be dreaming when he whispered quietly, “Forgive me, Mas. I’ve already failed you.” He stood and walked back to the door. “I’ll do it.”
The air around me thickened with a sweet-smelling fog. I inhaled and closed my eyes, allowing my baser instincts to take over.
“Wolf.” She whispered my name.
I sniffed. The voice was not familiar. It was not my mate. It was… other.
“Wolf,” she beckoned again.
Branches crunched beneath my feet as I made my way closer to the sweet scent, closer to the warmth, closer to what I should have been running from.