Daniel frowned as his daughter stepped carefully down the stairs and into the kitchen. He scanned the little strapless black dress she was wearing—obviously for Rhydian's benefit—before his eyes flashed the deadliest shade of yellow, as only a wolfblood's can.
"Madeline Smith, what do you think you're wearing?"
"Mam said it was okay! Don't freak out on me, Rhydian'll be here any moment," Maddy growled, flinging her dad a defiant look. Meanwhile Emma was striding down the stairs.
Dan's sweater-sleeved arm gestured with an outraged flourish at the scantily-clad teenage wolfblood in front of him.
"Em, what do you call this? There is way too much skin showing here. I'm sorry, but this is just not appropriate." The dress was definitely not typical Maddy-style. The skirt was short, and the back of the dress left much of the girl's back uncovered, yet for all its skimpy qualities, the little black dress firmly and thoroughly covered any questionable areas. It was hard to criticize it too harshly without giving off a whiff of prudishness, and that's exactly what Emma's stare told her husband.
"Mads is no different than I was at her age. You remember the dress I wanted to wear to the big dance when we were both 17?"
Dan folded his arms, looking cross as ever. "Yes, and I distinctly remember your parents forbidding you to wear it."
Emma folded her arms too and threw a zing of a look right back at her husband. "Yes, Daniel, and we will not be making the same mistake. I'll have no body-shaming in this house. Now, this is a perfectly reasonable dress, this is Maddy's choice, and I won't have you saying another disparaging word about it—not unless you fancy sleeping in the den tonight."
Grumbling something about how living with two alpha females was normally 'a total joy ride,' Daniel Smith slapped a hand to his forehead, counted to five, and forced a bright expression over his face.
Maddy came up to her dad and took both of his hands in hers, giving them a conciliatory squeeze as she strained on her tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek.
"Dad, please try to understand. I'm trying to wow Rhydian. You trust me, don't you? You know I won't do anything irresponsible."
Daniel looked down at his daughter, his reddish beard twitching as he fought back the urge to snort. "You…irresponsible? Never," he said with a rare but generous dose of sarcasm. Both he and Maddy simultaneously thought back to the time she'd run away from home after becoming addicted to eolas. But gradually the creases along Daniel's brow smoothed out, and he gave his daughter a hug.
"Just…be careful tonight. Don't give into your wolf too much, you hear me? And don't trust Rhydian. Not even for a second. If he gets too grabby, you put him in his place immediately.
"Dad!" Maddy's warm brown eyes flashed with indignation. "You know Rhydian, we can trust him. He's of our pack. He's only been good to me."
"He's also a teenage boy," Dan said, as if that explained everything.
Emma smirked. "He has a point there, pet. Just make sure you and Rhydian, whatever you do tonight, involves all of your clothes staying on."
"Mam!" Scandalized by her mother's implication, the wolfblood teen was saved by the bell—the doorbell, to be exact.
She skipped to the door and wrenched it open as if a much-needed rescuer stood on the other side. And there he was, the tall wolfblood boy with piercing blue eyes and slightly askew blonde hair, looking smart and attractive in a midnight tuxedo paired with a royal blue shirt and tie. Rhydian sucked in a breath when he saw Maddy in her little black dress. Maddy's hair had been knotted up in an elegant chignon, which drew the boy's eyes before he resettled his gaze on her beautiful face.
"Mads." He said the word tinged with awe, like he was whispering the name of a goddess. "You look…" Words failed him for a heartbeat. "Amazing."
Maddy smiled. Her hand snuck up to his face, caressing the side of his jaw as she slowly coaxed him to bend down until their lips joined briefly but tenderly.
Suddenly they felt a presence of the dreaded parental variety, as if the two older wolfbloods had magically reappeared right beside them.
"You'll have her back by midnight, not a minute later," Daniel said gruffly.
Rhydian and Maddy stiffened as they became suddenly self-conscious, but they couldn't resist holding hands as they turned around.
"I promise, Sir. You can rely on it."
"Good," Emma finished. "Because if you don't, you'll be answering to me." Emma's tone had bite to it, but it seemed to be more for Daniel's benefit than anyone else's. The secretive little wink Emma flashed at Rhydian told the wolfblood boy that despite their disagreements in the past, she did trust him with her daughter.
"Bye Mam. Bye Dad," Maddy called over her shoulder as Rhydian guided her down the front walk. Rhydian's foster parents had let him borrow their silver hatchback. The car looked like a polished piece of rubbish, but it could get you from Point A to Point B, and that was the important thing. Rhydian politely opened the passenger door for Maddy and made sure she got in safely before shutting the door, sliding over to the other side, and hopping in. Soon they were off.
Maddy felt tiny whirlwinds of butterflies in her stomach. Why am I so nervous? It's not like this is an official date or anything. Even if it was…after everything we've been through together, after how much I've been looking forward to this ever since he asked me to the Charity Dance…
But then the wolfblood girl realized that she wanted everything to go perfectly tonight, and that pressure was what was making her nervous right now. If it's this bad for me, I wonder what Rhydian's feeling.
Rhydian licked his lips. His shoulders were hunched, and he sat stiffly as the car zoomed up a hill and around a curve. They'd be at school in the next 10 minutes.
"So…you've never told me whether you have any dance skills," Maddy said.
Rhydian cracked a smile, but she could see the nerves in the tightness of his face, plain as a full moon.
"Wolfbloods and dance moves go hand in hand. You taught me that, Mads." They both grinned as they remembered back to her early shenanigans. Shortly after her first change, when Maddy was fresh out of cub-hood, she'd gone a little wild and let the hormones take over, dancing up on stage in front of half the school. That seemed like so many ages ago now. Maddy reached over, caressing Rhydian's hand on the clutch, her thumb gently swiping across his knuckles.
"I'm really excited about tonight, but Rhydian, there's something you should know."
Rhydian turned towards her, alarm springing up all over his face.
"No, relax. It's nothing bad." Maddy gave him a warm, loving look. "I just want you to know, whatever happens tonight, it doesn't have to go perfectly, like…even if you weren't a good dancer…I wouldn't care. What matters is that I'm here with you. That's all I care about." Maddy nearly died inside. Stop sounding lame and tripping over your own words, Mads! But before she could berate herself more, Rhydian had stopped the car at a red light. Now he was leaning towards her. His mouth captured hers as his hand softly stroked the nape of her neck before sliding around to cup and caress the side of her face. His warm lips and tongue explored her with passion but also a tenderness that made it hard for Maddy to breathe—or hear anything except for the pounding of her own heart. Way too soon the moment vanished, the light had turned green, and Rhydian had re-engaged the clutch as the hatchback bolted ahead.
He seemed less nervous now, more sure of himself. The tiny whirlwind of butterflies in Maddy's stomach had morphed into eagles soaring with outstretched wings. He'd answered her stumbling words loud and clear by showing her what he felt, and Maddy was fine with that. More than fine.
She was almost giddy with anticipation as Rhydian drove them along the edge of the forest that almost encircled Stoneybridge. The next road would take them the rest of the way to Bradlington High. Rhydian turned a corner, but as he did a pair of primal, beast-like eyes flashed for the briefest moment.
Maddy stiffened. Her wolf snarled inside, coming fully alert. Was that…? It had to be another wolfblood. Maddy would recognize those eyes anywhere. Her gaze slipped curiously to Rhydian, who'd shown no reaction…or if he had, she hadn't noticed it.
"Rhydian, did you see that? I could swear I saw a wolfblood in the woods." Rhydian looked at Maddy.
"Sorry, Mads. I was too focused on the road. Whatever it was, even if it was a wolfblood, they'll know not to go anywhere near the dance tonight. No wolfblood would be that stupid to get caught around so many humans. Let's not worry about it, yeah?"
"A wild wolfblood or an injured wolfblood might," Maddy insisted. She'd also noticed how Rhydian had answered her while keeping his gaze firmly ahead on the road. He might've been doing it for safety's sake, but the way he was avoiding her gaze altogether even now…
"Is there something you aren't telling me?" Maddy's cute face scrunched up into a look of warning.
Rhydian reached out, stroking her hand as he gave her a reassuring look and his most disarming smile.
"Mads, relax. What you saw could have been another animal, right? Maybe a badger…or a dog…or whatever. Let's focus on enjoying tonight. Can you do that for me?" The pleading in his eyes made it very, very hard to say no, and the way his fingers gently caressed her hand was also the perfect weapon of distraction. Maddy relented with a nod and a sigh as she settled her head against the headrest and stared out the window at the shimmering crescent of the moon.
Still, her inner voice tugged firmly at her thoughts. A little part of her just knew.
Rhydian was lying…or if he wasn't lying, he certainly wasn't telling the full truth! As sure as Maddy had a wolf's essence pulsing in her veins, she resolved what any stubborn alpha female wolfblood would. I'll find out what he's hiding before the night's through.
END OF PART 1
Hey Wolfblood fans,
***Updated note, this story was originally slated to be a two-shot, but now it's a three-shot because it just worked out better that way...
The "Dances with Wolves" episode in S2 inspired this story. Why? Because part of me was a bit miffed when Maddy and Rhydian went to the disco and then never ended up dancing together! This story envisions what would happen if Maddy and Rhydian were to go to a big dance and actually have that dance together, plus I threw in a mystery because wolfbloods and secrets (not to mention trouble!) often go hand-in-hand.
What is Rhydian hiding? Will Maddy have to trick it out of him? I hope you guys enjoy the next two parts, and please, please comment or share your thoughts if you feel like it. You guys are, as always, the best, and revisiting the wolfblood universe always cheers me up :)