PART 1 - FIRST SHIFT

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TAYLOR

Twenty years earlier

(Taylor - age 11 / Kit - age 15 / Jenson - age 8)

"What are you thinking about?" Ella's soft voice chimes in my ear and pulls me from my daze but I can't bring myself to look at her.

Pushing my glasses up the bridge of my nose I sigh and continue to look at the darkening sky above as I chew on my bottom lip, nervous to admit the truth to the girl lay at my side. That I'm scared. Scared of being a failure again. The sun has already pretty much disappeared and set in the distance, there was no pretty sunset tonight, just bleak clouds cover every inch of the skyline. I feel Ella's small hand slide into mine before she gives it a gentle squeeze. Sighing once more, I finally turn my head to look at her as she looks back at me with that warm smile across her face that she only gives to me. Her huge chestnut ringlets sprayed out on the floor and her light amber eyes staring at me expectantly.

"It's going to be ok; I promise. I know you're ready Tay. Tonight's the night. I can just feel it." Ella encourages as I slowly nod but I'm far from convinced.

"I just... I don't want to disappoint them again... you know? They'll all be there... watching." I say quietly. "Plus, you'll be watching."

Ella slowly sits up, but keeps her hand threaded into mine before she leans down and gently brushes her lips against mine as I take a sharp intake of breath. Her cheeks are pink when she pulls away looking a little shy as I now sit up next to her looking at her wide eyed.

"What was that for." I ask her quietly as I run my finger across my bottom lip.

"For courage." She smiles back as my cheeks now start to burn up too.

At eleven years old, that was my first kiss. I know it might not be much to some but for as long as I can remember I've always been in love with the girl who's sat at my side.

"Ella... I just want you to know before tonight starts that... you mean everything to me." I say to her gently as I watch her smile.

"Then tonight, Ignore your dad, your uncle and especially your mum. Focus on me and not them. I want to be the first one to meet your wolf." Ella says firmly and for the first time today I manage a small smile back.

"Are you sure you want to come? You promise to hide from my parents, I don't want you getting in trouble." I frown.

"There's nowhere I'd be tonight but with you." Ella smiles as my cheeks start to get red once more.  "Damit! Look at the time, we've gotta go Tay. Or your uncle will be pissed you've kept him waiting." Ella suddenly yelps as she looks at her watch and we both jump to our feet and race towards Bluestone Point.

Like most packs on the night of a mass first shift the Gamma, who in this case is my uncle, takes the lead as the Alpha watches on. Gamma's naturally have good instincts to pick up the strength and weaknesses of wolves. My uncle Merrick particularly likes to brag and lecture myself and my two brothers Kit and Jenson at how good he is to map out a pup's entire future from their first shift.

As the second eldest heir to the Lancaster dynasty, high hopes were always expected from me from birth... however it turns out I've always been quite the disappoint. Born prematurely, my growth always seemed a bit more stunted compared to my elder brother Kit or my younger brother Jenson who both never stopped growing. My eyesight has always been impaired, which for a wolf with supposedly regenerating powers this is a real kick in the balls.

In my parent's eyes, I'm a defect and my brothers are perfect.

I'm already years behind Kit and Jenson in terms of training and combat skills they both shifted early much to the delight of my family and pack. Then there's me. The only thing I do seem to be good at - unrivalled actually - is logistics, engineering, and numbers. I thought my genius level IQ would finally impress my parents when they got the test results... but they just want warriors ... not thinkers for sons. My reward for my high scores was a camping trip into the woods with my father who locked me away in a remote cabin alone for almost three days to try and force my wolf to surface... but all that came out of the woodshed was a snivelly boy who pissed his pants and had to be treated for hypothermia.

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