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Logan POV

"He's here!" one of my packmates shouts as I head downstairs. There's a murmur of voices, and then Jasper—my best friend and Beta—starts singing 'Happy Birthday.' The rest of my pack joins in, and when I reach the landing, I lean against the railing and grin.

"Happy birthday dear Logan, happy birthday to you!" Everyone finishes singing and begins to applaud, whistle, and cheer. The guys surround me, patting me on the back and wishing me all the best, while the girls hang back, waiting.

I—Logan Patton, son of Alpha James Patton—have just turned seventeen. Today, like other males in our pack have done for generations, I finally get to find my mate. It's something I've been looking forward to for months. I've seen it happen to so many other Wolves over the years, watched their faces light up with joy when they spotted 'her,' and saw how much happier they were afterwards. Who wouldn't want that?

Plus, having a mate is awesome! My mate won't get on my nerves like some girls do or only ever talk about shopping, which I can't stand! She won't do other annoying stuff either, like always check her makeup or eat salad instead of real food, the way some of my exes have. Like, what's up with that? Especially with wolf girls! Sex with my mate is going to be so much hotter than it's been with other girls and my mate won't be jealous or controlling like a few girls I've dated—and quickly dumped—either. No. She'll be perfect. Exactly what I want in a girl. That's what a mate is and now I finally, finally get to find mine.

A hush falls over the room as everyone waits in anticipation. I think almost every girl here hopes she's my mate. At least, that's what everyone's been saying for weeks. Not to brag or anything, but I'm one of the most popular guys at school. Plus, I'm the next Alpha, which means my mate will one day be Luna and co-leader of our pack. It's a huge honor that few Wolves can claim.

In order to find my mate, I have to make eye contact with every girl in the room until I finally reach her. That's how it's always been done, so everyone knows to stand quietly and wait. Even the little kids, who are here with their parents for the celebration, are all on their best behavior.

I close my eyes briefly, savoring the moment. I inhale slowly, catching a hint of perfume, some deodorant, and a whiff B.O. that makes me think of the boys' locker room. There's some shuffling off to my left and the sound of nails against skin as someone scratches an itch in the front row. Otherwise, the foyer is utterly and completely silent and the crowd breathes almost as one.

I let the anticipation build and then open my eyes and look around. First, I search for Jessica, the girl I kind of hope is my mate. Jess is really hot, with a sexy body and long blond hair. She's a cheerleader, but not one of those mean girls. She's really sweet and everyone at school loves her. She isn't perfect or anything, but if she were my mate, I would stop noticing her flaws. That's just how finding a mate works.

Jess and I have been dating for close to a year, and we've had a lot of fun together; at least we did up until two week ago, when we decided to break up. With my birthday coming up, spending time together was getting really awkward. When we last spoke, I told her I hoped she'd end up being my mate, and she felt the same way. It's not like we're in love or anything, but wolves don't feel love until we find our mates. We mostly just fool around and have fun dating and experimenting and stuff.

I look over the crowd and spot Jess in the front row. My breath catches and my heart pounds as I meet her wide-eyed stare. I wait, but the world doesn't shift on its axis and I don't fall in love at first sight. For a split second, neither of us moves. Then, her face crumples and I quickly look away.

I feel really bad that Jess won't get to be Luna, but if the Moon Goddess didn't choose her for me, there's nothing I can do. Jess and I just weren't meant to be. At least we already broke up and got all the awkward stuff out of the way.

Now that I've crossed Jess off my Potential Mates list, I'm suddenly filled with excitement and anticipation. The Moon Goddess must have an even better match for me as the future Alpha. There are dozens of girls here whom I haven't met—Wolves from neighboring packs who'd come in the hopes of becoming the next Luna. They're all gathered at the back of the room and I make eye contact with each of them, one by one.

I stare into eyes of all shapes and sizes, large and small, narrow and wide. Eyes as blue as the ocean or as brown as chocolate fudge. I even pause at one girl with mismatched eyes, one brown one blue, surprised by the unusual sight. When someone in the room gasps, thinking I'd found my mate, I quickly move on. I gaze into eyes outlined by so much makeup it's scary, eyes shaded by thick lashes, or lids coated with purple glitter, then eyes so plain I forget them the second I move on.

When I reach the last few, I stifle my disappointment, and remind myself that there are tons of potential mates in the room. Friends, past girlfriends, girls I've barely spoken to, girls in different grades than me, and even girls far too young or too old for me. I look at each face, into each girl's eyes, but every time I do, I feel nothing. I keep searching until I'm sure I've made eye contact with every girl in the room. Twice! What the hell?

Hundreds of faces stare at me as I finally give up and look for my father, the pack Alpha. He's at the back of the room with his arm around my mother, our Luna. To an outsider, he might look unconcerned, but as his son, I spot the stiffness in his stance. His shoulders tense imperceptibly and he tightens his arm around Mother. Then, he raises an eyebrow, his face impassive as he awaits my response. I shake my head. No one here is my mate.

A collective gasp fills the room and everyone starts talking at once. No one ever considered that something like this could happen to me, the future Alpha. My parents found out they were mates right here on this very staircase, as did my grandparents, and their parents before them. Of course, there have been guys in our pack who didn't, but they always left, traveling for weeks or even years until they finally found their mates. Most unmated girls eventually left too, driven to find their other half. While many did, others spent their entire lives alone. Most of them were fine, happy even, but a few of them went Rogue.

Things are different for me, since I'm an Alpha. It's my duty to stay with my pack and gradually take over for my father. If I leave, I will be neglecting my responsibilities and abandoning my people. If I stay, my pack will be left without a Luna, and I would be forced to live without a mate. Plus, somewhere out there, my mate would be alone and suffering too.

I look around and see shock on everyone's faces as they, too, realize the consequences. My Beta, Jasper, looks really upset; the grownups are shaking their heads and giving me pitying looks; my friends and classmates are whispering among themselves.

My wolf howls. Suddenly, I just want to get as far away from my pack as I can. I need to shift, to run... to escape. I almost reach the front door when my father grabs my shoulder, stopping me in my tracks.

"We'll find her, son. I promise," he tells me reassuringly and turns to face the crowd. "Logan is my son and your future Alpha," he announces, his booming voice echoing in the large foyer. "His mate will be your Luna. You will look up to her, respect her, admire her. This pack deserves the best and that is why we must wait.

"I am confident that Logan's mate is out there. An Alpha's daughter, perhaps? Or a Beta's, since Tom here has only sons." Father nods at his second—Jasper's father—before continuing. "Whoever Logan's mate is, we'll find her, and I'm certain that she will be well worth the wait!"

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