Keeper (Matefinder Next Generation Book 1)(2)

By: Leia Stone

Even though my mom was twenty-three when she had me twenty years ago, she only looked late twenties now. Werewolf aging was awesome. People thought we were sisters, but I knew better. She would rip me a new one in a second if I stepped out of line. She was all mom.

She felt my forehead with her hand and pulled back quickly, sucking air through her teeth. “Shit,” she cussed and I grinned. My mom was always letting stray cuss words fly. My dad? Never.

“You’re burning up.” She rubbed her chin as in deep thought. “You know, I didn’t ease into my Matefinding gift. I was changed and then I shifted, found out your father was my mate and bam!” She clapped her hands together for added drama. “My first vision.”

I rolled my eyes. I had heard this story a thousand times. “So never a dream. Always an awake vision?”

She shrugged. “Pretty much.”

I threw my hands up. “Great. A week before I leave for college and I’m a freak who dreams of some hot human guy and then heats up in her sleep.”

My mother smiled. “You didn’t say he was hot.” She raised an eyebrow.

I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. He’s good looking. For a human.”

Reaching out, she touched the small wolf tattoo on my neck, frowning as a deep sadness crossed her elegant features. “I’m sorry you have to go to college with this. Branded. Your father and I fought it for as long as we could.”

I nodded. It was a sore subject. I ran my fingers over the somewhat fresh tattoo there. On our eighteenth birthday, every werewolf had to get the mark; a small wolf tattoo. That way humans would know what we were and could choose whether or not to trust us or do business with us. It was total bullshit, but my father said it was the price to pay for having my mom here with us. If he hadn’t told the humans of our kind, they wouldn’t have had enough help to end the vampire war. In the end it was the human militias that banded together with the small werewolf packs and took out the evil bloodsuckers.

I squeezed her hand. “I know, but I’ll be staying in a werewolf-friendly dorm and Avery will be my roomie. Don’t worry.” God, please don’t worry! It took two years of community college here on the mountain before all of our parents would agree to let us go off to state college over two hours away. Having your dad as pack Alpha didn’t leave room for much freedom. I was dying to leave!

She nodded but her face showed her true feelings. My Aunt Emma and my mom were inseparable. They had been worrying non-stop about us going off to college. Emma’s daughter Avery was my best friend and we were beyond thrilled to be getting our own life. My Aunt Diya and Uncle Trent had a son named Mason who was our age and one of seven siblings. Avery, Mason, Jax, and I were best friends, our own little pack, and we were all going off to college together. No doubt all of the parents would be in a panic once we left.

Then, mom and I both smelled it at the same time. Our nostrils flared as we grinned. Chai. “Dad’s up.” She ushered me inside.

I took one last deep breath, letting the crisp air fill my lungs, and followed mom into the house.

Sitting at the kitchen table, I clutched the Chai and inhaled, smiling. My dad, being from India, made the best damn Chai in the world. Although Uncle Jai would argue that. Being an Alpha, my father was privy to my emotions and sometimes thoughts if I let them be loud enough. After years of practice, I was pretty good at keeping him out of my head. But tonight was different. My thoughts were loud, my emotions raw.

He brushed his thick, wild brown hair out of his face, a nervous gesture that was so Dad. Then he leveled his yellow Alpha gaze on me; those yellow eyes meant his wolf was at the surface. I met his gaze and tried not to squirm.

“Who is this human boy you keep dreaming of?” His voice was stern. My mom kicked him under the table and his eyes went brown.

“Dad, it’s just a dream. Nothing can happen in dreams.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I winced. That wasn’t technically true. A witch that used dark magic had once trapped my mother in a dream and almost hurt her.

“Maybe if you told us more details we could help you figure it out,” my mother said sweetly, but my father was probing my thoughts with his Alpha power. I could feel it.

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