Chapter Five

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"Did you have fun last night?" Mom asked, pulling me away from the book I was reading.

"Yeah," I lied with a smile, something I've gotten good at. "I wish I had gotten another funnel cake though." Which was true, I love those things and they're only good when you get one from the fair.

"Good!" Mom said happily. "You should get out of the house more, it's not healthy just sitting around here."

I went back to my book or at least tried to. Her question had reminded me about how I'd sat on the side of the street for hours until Calvin and Robby finally arrived with two females. I had to go back to the fair and get a ride home with dad. Who kept glancing my way and frowning the whole twenty minute ride. I get it, I'm a disappointment. He must of told mom and that's why she's questioning me.

"You know Mrs. Tilly is hiring down at the bakery." Mom said, spraying something that smelt like lemons and chemicals before wiping it up with an old rag. "It wouldn't hurt to get a part time job. You can start saving while you figure out what you want to do after high school."

I hated this conversation more than any other. The thought of adult responsibilities scared me. The older I got the more real they became and the more I feared them. It was even worse because I still had no idea what I was supposed to do. Everyone around me had goals and plans, and all I could think about was just getting out of that brainwashing camp. Also know as school.

It's weird, when I was a pup there was so many things I wanted to become. For the longest time I was set on being a princess. Back then everyone thought it was cute or judged my parents parenting, allowing their son to walk around in a pink princess dress. My parents always told me I could be anything I wanted to be. After my princess dress disappeared—I'm pretty sure mom threw it away after finally getting it off me— I wanted to be a lawyer. No matter that I couldn't look anyone in the eyes without becoming flustered and blushing. Or the fact that I couldn't have an argument or debate without crying. They're angry tears, I promise. Still my parents told me I could be anything.

After all those years —after being told I could be anything— it's become annoyingly clear that I had not a clue as to what I wanted to be. My grades weren't good enough to become a lawyer or a doctor. Being a princess was out of the window when I learned I'd actually be a prince. I didn't really have a solid interest. It also didn't help that after I hit thirteen everyone started telling me the things I couldn't do.

"You know what, I'm going to go ahead and call her. That job will be perfect for you." Mom said, determination shining in her dark green eyes.

"Mom!" I whined, getting up to follow her into the kitchen.

"No, I know you like baking, admit it." She said, pointing her finger at me.

My face warmed but I didn't say anything.

"See!" Mom grabbed the house phone and started looking over the numbers sloppily written on the pad hanging on the fridge.

"But...But Mom, that's only when no ones around." I murmured, twiddling my fingers.

"And this job will help you get out of that shell of yours." She said with that matter-of-fact tone. I slumped on a bar stool and watched her as she talked on the phone.

She'd just hung up when the front door opened and Calvin walked in wearing the same rumpled clothes he had on yesterday.

"Calvin Carter Frey!" Mom yelled, stopping him from going upstairs. Oh, full name, he's in trouble. I watched intently, it was a guilty pleasure watching my older brother get in trouble. "What did I tell you about acting like one of those human man whores?"

Mom stood with her hands on her hips, her eyes hard and narrowed. The scent on Calvin hit me a little later, my nose weaker than mom's. Yeah, there was nothing hiding what he'd been up to. Why didn't he shower before coming home? Did he have no decency? Respect for his elders? Who raised him?!

When Calvin didn't respond, Mom looked like she was ready to get dad's leather belt. The one that hangs on the back of their bedroom door, ready to discipline us no matter how old we got. "What are you going to do when you find your Mate?"

"I'm an adult having consensual sex with other adults, my Mate is probably out doing the same thing." Calvin shrugged.

That was one of the things Wolves picked up after mingling with humans for so long. It use to be seen as one of the biggest sins against the moon Goddess to be with anyone but your Mate. It was acceptable and almost expected for a wolf to be rejected by their Mate if they shared relations with another. Some wolves were still rejected because of it but it wasn't a common thing anymore. Mom's old school though and so she always reminds Calvin that what he's doing is wrong.

Mom said a quick prayer to the Goddess, apologizing for her stupid son before sending Calvin to shower. "Coming into my home smelling like that. Like I didn't raise him." Mom huffed, talking to herself.

"Oh, Sweetie, you got the job." Mom said, kissing my cheek before leaving the kitchen. I gaped a little. "You start tomorrow!"

****

My small form was shivering and my hands aching as I raked up the dead leaves. Dad said I stayed inside too much and needed the fresh air. He seemed to forget that my body temperature wasn't as high as his and the cold still affected me. Much like a human.

The real reason we were outside was because mom kept nagging dad about neglecting the yard work and everything else that was wrong around the house. I could hear him in the shed cursing to himself as he searched for some tool he needed to fix the lock on the back door. It worked but if you rattled the door handle, it unlocked. A new lock would do the trick but dad liked to try fixing things himself first.

"Try these." Calvin said in passing, tossing me a huge pair of work gloves. I stopped raking long enough to pull them on and ignored how big they were. Now thankful that I wouldn't get any blisters. They were worn from his construction job and I wondered what it was like building houses for pack mates. Maybe I could help build my own house for my Mate and I. That might be fun.

Calvin disappeared into the shed to help dad and I concentrated on raking all the leaves in the backyard into one big pile. When I was younger, I use to shift and jump through them until the leaves were scattered and I'd have to rake them up again. I was too lazy to do that now. My goal was to hurry up and get this done so I could go back inside to my warm bed.

Dad's cursing stopped and I could hear him and Calvin talking lowly. It sounded serious and I wondered what it was about.

Dropping the rake, I ran over to the shed and stood on my toes to look into the little window. 

"I know it's not cool or whatever to have your younger brother hanging around while you're with friends, but if I hear that you've left him behind like you did last night we're going to have a problem." Dad growled, glaring at Calvin who looked as surprised as I felt.

I've never heard dad speak up for me, not even against Calvin and unsurprisingly it made my eyes fill with tears as I smiled stupidly.

Running back to my pile of leave before I could get caught, I slipped and fell into them. Giggling, I stared up at the sky with the scent of dead leaves around me and thanked the moon goddess for letting me hear that snippet of conversation.

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