Sophia moved about her room picking up clothes to pack when she felt someone standing behind her. Without turning around she could feel his energy and she took in his scent. Luke always had a very earthy scent and as she had approached her change his scent got stronger and she could almost envision herself drowning in it.
"Sophia, about last night..," he started moving closer to her.
Sophia turned around still folding the shirt that was in her hands. "I don't want to talk about it. Let me just say that I am sorry about your car and lets leave it at that. Okay?" When Luke didn't answer she turned back to her task placing the folded shirt in the suitcase laid out on her bed.
"What's going on?" Luke walked over to her bed and sat down.
"I am going to New York." Sophia swipped at his hand that was playing with her folded clothes.
"Going to visit a family member," he asked?
"Actually, I got my acceptance letter from Columbia last month."
Luka felt his stomach drop. This was the last thing he needed right now. He knew that his behavior the night before had caused him problems but he didn't know she was going to take it this bad. He watched her walking around the room picking up articles of clothing to pack when he noticed the pink dress in her hands. He could remember everything from that night at the lake which was surprising since he had been three sheets to the wind. He had called her beautiful and seen her face light up as if she had been waiting her whole life for someone to say that to her. It was the truth though. She had a grace to her that most their age lacked.
Luke grabbed her arm halting her progress. "If you leave you will never come back." She shrugged out of his reach putting a distance between them.
"I think it would be best if I go. I have never fit in here and this is a great opportunity." With her last shirt folded she closed her suitcase and walked out of the room knowing Luke would follow her.
"Whether you have changed or not you are a part of this pack and you need my mom's permission to leave." He followed Sophia down the stairs and into the kitchen where she got busy pulling ingredients for a sandwich out of the fridge.
"I spoke to her this morning. Since I haven't changed yet she said I was free to come and go as I please."
Luke started rubbing his temples feeling a headache coming on. His mom was going to get a piece of his mind when he got home. Now what? How was he going to get her to stay? Luke watched her work at making her sandwich not knowing what to say. What does this town have to offer compared to New York? "You are close to your change, I can feel it."
"How do you know?"
This is where it got complicated. He really didn't know how he could feel it, he just knew that he did. There was a connection between them that he had never had with Presley. There had been times when he could even feel her emotions.
Luke walked around the counter seperating them and without thought he grabbed her and softly put his lips on hers. The kiss was slow and he could feel her pulse quicken underneath his hand. When they broke apart he put his forehead against hers keeping his eyes shut. "Don't leave," he whispered.
As hard as it was she picked up her head looking him in the eyes. "I have to."
Vivian put her head in her hands. It had been a long day and she wished Williard had been there. Williard always knew how to handle Tyler and any other member of the pack who stepped out of line. This morning she had taken Tyler aside to remind him that selling drugs, especially to minors, was not something she was going to tolerate.
Tyler was always good for some drama. To describe him you would have to know what it feels like to be pestered by a fly for a whole day while trying to take a big exam. Today he wasn't her only problem though. She had just returned from Sherman's house where she witnessed a child who didn't make it through her change. The child looked to be about Luke's age and her heart had gone out to the grieving parents. The only thing she could do was offer to help with the funeral arangements.
From the front of the house Vivian heard her son slam the door making his way towards her office.
"How could you?" He stood in the doorway arms crossed looking as if he could kill.
"What did I do this time," she asked making her way towards the liquor cabinet. By now she had memorized where every drop of liquor was in her home. She had never been a big drinker but she used them to take the edge off.
"You're letting Sophia leave." He walked up to her taking the drink out of her hand.
"This is a wonderful oppurtunity for her. Why should I take it away? Most likely she isn't going to change so I have no durisdiction over her."
Luke slammed down the glass of whiskey sending the liquid flying. He heaved a sigh wondering when this nightmare would be over. "She can't leave. She is going through her change."
Vivian stared at her son feeling a protectiveness come over her. This boy in front of her was growing up and would one day be Alpha over the pack. She knew there was much for him to learn and she hadn't covered her eyes to his short comings. Every night he would be down by the lake with his delinquent friends smoking, drinking, and whatever else they could get their hands on. Luke was far from being ready to lead this pack. "How do you know she is close to her change?"
"I can feel it." He walked over to the desk lowering himself in the chair.
Vivian walked over to the chair he was in, kneeling down to look at his face. "Honey, the only way you could tell if she was changing is if you were her parent or…," she let the next thought hang between them. Luke turned his head and in his eyes she saw fear.
Matt sat in his patrol car filling out paper work he had let sit for too long. None of it was very interesting the most excitement that happened around here was petty theft. Usually it was caused by some stupid kid who didn't realize they were being captured on security cameras.
Matt loved this town and if it wasn't for that he would have been gone years ago when his wife died. There were still days when he wished he had left if only for Sophia's sake. When Sophia had received the acceptance letter from Columbia he had felt relieved as if a weight had been lifted from his chest. He knew that if she stayed she would end up being hurt by that mongrul Luke Cates. The boy acted as if the town belonged to him and his daughter was included in that package.
Just then Vivian Cates knocked on his window before opening the door and climbing into the passenger seat. "Good morning Sheriff."
"How can I help you?" He asked even though he went back to his paper work.
"I wanted to talk to you about Sophia."
With this Matt gave Vivian his full attention. "I am so proud of her. Thanks for letting her go. I know we have our rules but I think this will be good for her."
Vivian closed her eyes taking a deep breath. She knew this was going to be hard for him to hear and even harder for her to get him to agree. "Matt, something has come up and I don't think it would be a good idea for her to leave." She watched his face change from joy to disbelief to rage.
"You can't go back on your word now."
"Something has come up."
He leaned over to her bringing his face inches away. "I don't care what has come up. She is leaving tomorrow."
"She's his mate." She saw shock register on his face. He leaned back into his seat staring out the windshield.
Matt thought back to all the times he had tried to keep them apart and realized why she had been drawn to him in the first place. He had seen them together many times in the diner and he knew she went to see him at the lake but he thought she had moved on when she had gone on a date with Scott. Had he missed the signs? "How do you know?"
"He told me she is close to her change. I know you don't want to hear this but she is going to change and when she does she is going to need him as much as he needs her."
"I can teach her how to stop it."
Vivian sighed in frustration. "I understand that you are upset about you wife dying but this isn't your decision it's hers." Vivian watched Matt out of the corner of her eye. This was the man she loved but with all that had happened she barely recognized the man beside her. What was worst was that she knew he cared nothing for her or her family. Making Luke suffer would be pleasure to him. Splitting them up would be bad news especially if he was going to be Alpha some day. "I can't go back on my word so she is free to leave but I warn you that you are her parent and it is your job to do what is best for her. The truth is she is his mate and splitting them up could mean heartache for both of them. You want to do the right thing you will get her to stay." With that Vivian opened the door and walked away.
Luke sat in the woods as a wolf watching Sophia put the last of her boxes in the car. He also noticed Matt Donner making his way down the driveway to say goodbye. He could make out some of their conversation and vaguely heard Matt tell her to fill up the car before she left town and that she needed to change the oil once she got to New York. Luke knew there was nothing that was going to stop her from leaving. He had spoke to her one last time hoping to talk sense into her but it was to no avail. She could be real pig headed.
Before she got in the car he saw her pause to look in his direction. Even though he was covered in the bush he knew she could feel him. When Sophia pulled out Luke started following her car running parellel in the woods. When they reached the edge of town Luke stopped and sent an agonizing howl up in the air. Then he watched till her car vanished from sight.Four Years Later
Sophia stared at herself in the mirror. For the third time this week she woke up in a cold sweat. The dream she had was not unfamiliar in fact she had this dream many times in the last four years but the howl of the wolf still made her blood run cold. She took herself in noticing the fact that she needed a haircut and there were bags under her eyes from all the late nights she had enjoyed lately.
On the bed she could hear James snoring and watched as he rolled over onto her side of the bed. She had been with James for two years now and was secretly hoping he was going to ask her to marry him. They had been set up on a blind date and had been together ever since.
Quietly she put on her clothes getting ready to head out for her morning run. She had never been the running type but since she had left Wolf Lake she had picked up the practice. There was something peaceful in running. Her body longed to feel the rythum of her heart pounding with the beat of her feet hitting the ground. This morning she would run a short three miles to give her time to take a shower and make her morning class.
This morning the street was quiet as usual but she felt as if she was being watched. It was a normal feeling since she had expected someone from Wolf Lake to show up and take her home but it had been four years and no one had shown up yet. Sophia loved watching the world come to life in the morning. By the time she made her way back to her block there would be people talking on cell phones and hurrying to work. The city would be buzzing with activity.
The run was slow taking her about thirty minutes which was five minutes more than her normal speed but she had wanted it to last a little longer this morning. She hadn't been on a run in a few days and her legs were screaming for exercise. Once she got back to her apartment she took a shower and and got ready for her class.
The minute she walked into Professor Banks classroom she knew something was wrong. There was a scent in the air that was familiar but she couldn't place where she had smelled it before.
"You look tired," her best friend Melody said taking a seat beside her. Sophia's first week in New York had been rough and she had even contemplated going back to Wolf Lake when she had met Melody. Her friend was interesting. A real free spirit. They had met in one of Sophia's first year classes and had been inseperable since.
"I had a late night with James."
Melody made a face making Sophia laugh."What a surprise. Just tell me that we are on for Thursday and I won't have to hurt him."
"I wouldn't miss your first showing for anything." Sophia scanned the room trying to find out why she felt so uneasy. When her eyes landed on the last person she thought she would see. Luke. There eyes met and she felt heat spread thoughout her body.
"Who is that?" Melody pulled her arm. "Old friend of yours?"
"I wouldn't say friend," Sophia saw Luke scowl knowing he had heard her comment. She watched him noticing the changes in his appearance. He was handsome. More handsome then she remembered. He had filled out since the last time she had seen him.
Sophia sat throughout the class feeling his eyes on her. When the class ended she got up with Melody and made her way out of the classroom not waiting for Luke.
"I don't know why you are running from him, he's hot." Melody stopped causing Sophia to stop with her.
"It's complicated." Just then the crowd parted and there was Luke staring at her.
Melody pushed Sophia in Luke's direction. "Go talk to him."
Sophia made her way towards Luke trying to think of things to say. What do you say to someone you haven't seen in a while? She had moved to New York to get away from him in the first place. He had used her and discarded her for Presley. The only thing she wanted to say to him was get lost.
Luke watched Sophia make her way towards him and felt her heartbeat quicken. She was nervous. To be honest, he was nervous himself. She had changed in the four years they had been apart. She wore her hair shorter than she used to and it was dyed very dark, almost black. She also had an obscene amount of makeup on whereas before she barely wore any.
"What are you doing here," she asked stopping a few feet in front of him.
"Hello to you too," he smirked at her. She was still feisty he thought to himself. "I wanted to talk to you. I..," but before he could finish his sentence a man walked up putting his arms around her. She turned around registering who it was before kissing him. Rage burned up within Luke. Who did this man think he was? It took all of his willpower to stay where he was and not rip this guy's heart out.
Sophia pulled away smiling up at the intruder."James this is Luke, Luke this is my boyfriend James."
James extended his hand waiting for Luke to shake it. When he finally did he put a little more force than necessary.
"Quite a grip you got there," murmurred James while rubbing his hand. Sophia scowled at Luke. "I just wanted to stop by and say hello before I head to work. I have a business dinner tonight so I might be a little late coming home."
Home? Luke was really starting not to like this guy. With a kiss on the cheek James was gone and they were alone once more.
"Home?" He looked at her sending her the message that he was not happy.
"You didn't come all this way to check up on my sleeping arrangements," she said walking away. They were now walking side by side and he couldn't help but notice something was off. When she left she had this auora about her as if something big was about to happen. That is when he realized and grabbed her arm stopping her progress.
"What did you do," he asked tugging on her arm.
"What are you talking about? Ouch. You're hurting me." He saw the pain in her eyes before grabbing her other arm and pulling her in close.
"Don't lie to me. When you left you were close to flipping. I don't feel it at all now and I know you didn't flip. What did you do?"
She took a deep breath and said the most terrifying words he had ever heard,"Dad taught me how to control it. I never have to flip."
He let her go feeling stunned by the realization that he may not be able to get through to her. He had planned on coming to New York and begging her to come home but he wasn't sure she would and with the fact that she had the ability to be completely human what would make her change now? He took a steadying breath trying to get his composure. "I didn't come here to check up on your so called sleeping arrangements. In a month I will be Alpha of the pack and I want you to come home. My mother made the wrong choice by letting you go but it is no longer her decision."
"It's not yours either. It's mine. I have a life here Luke. For once I belong somewhere. I have a man who loves me and friends who don't treat me like I am leftovers," he saw her eyes fill with tears. "Please don't take this away from me."
He ran his hands over his face," I am going to be in town till tomorrow. I will give you a chance to say goodbye." Then he left her knowing that he couldn't be around while she cried. Today he felt like the worst kind of toad. Was he doing the right thing? His mother thought so. She had even encouraged him to go get her.
His mother would have stopped her from going in the first place but she had already given her word and she wasn't one to go back on her word unless she had to. Luke had to admit that it had been harder than he thought it would be. He hadn't expected her to be in love with someone else. The thought made Luke want to thow up. The past four years he had waited for her. The thought that she had moved on stabbed him in the heart. To be fair he had hurt her many times. More times than he would like to count.
That night Sophia packed all her things before James got home. She had a hard time writing a note to him but she felt it would be the easiest way. There was so much more to the situation than she could tell him. Instead she wrote that she will always love him and that she had a family issue at home that she had to take care of. After that she headed to Melody's house where she cried and gave her the same half story she had written to James. Then she asked Melody if she would pack her clothes and mail them to her.
Sophia stood outside the hotel room Luke had told her he was staying in. All she wanted to do was run away. This was becoming a nightmare. The door opened in front of Sophia and Luke stepped aside allowing her to enter. She didn't say anything just walked over to the bed and curled up into a ball.
"I don't know if this means anything but I am sorry," he said walking over to her.
"If you're sorry you will let me stay." He sat down beside her and put his hand on her shoulder. She jumped back as if he had slapped her. "Don't touch me."One Month Later
Luke sat at his fathers desk feeling overwhelmed by the resposibilities he now had. He had been made Alpha. Sophia had turned him down when he told her she would be staying at his home. Instead she ended up at Sherman's townhouse. The big house was quiet for the first time in Luke's life. His mother had moved out while he was in New York and she had told him that the house was to be his and Sophia's. For now it was his and he felt lonely in it. There hadn't been much business for him so far, so much of his day was spent at his fathers desk trying to figure out how to get Sophia back.
Her arrival in town had been big news and Luke had gotten many dirty looks from her father. His dream for her had been to get out of Wolf Lake and here she was back for good. It surprised him that Sheriff Donner hadn't stopped over to talk to him about it. He guessed the only reason he hadn't was because Luke was now Alpha and he still followed pack laws.
Sophia had found a job at the new club in town as a singer. Luke couldn't remember ever knowing that she could sing. He had never heard her. Luke had requested a meeting with the club owner and had made it clear that she was to be watched. Also she was off limits. She hadn't spoke to him very much since her return and he wasn't going to take the chance that she would start a relationship with a member of the pack.
Every night she sang at nine sharp and he would be there watching trying to keep his distance but he felt pulled to her. He wished he could explain why he brought her back but she had to come to the conclusion herself. She was his mate. His mother had explained how she knew right after Sophia had left four years ago. The connection they shared is what tipped her off.
The first time he had seen her preform he thought she sang like an angel. He had gone backstage to tell her but when he got to her dressing room door he had heard her talking to someone on the phone. It only took a minute to realize that James was on the other end. She spoke to him with tears in her voice and he barely heard her whisper that she loves him.
Luke heard someone clear their throat behind him. Sheriff Matt Donner was standing in the doorway hands on his belt. "How can I help you Sheriff?"
Matt strolled in taking the seat in front of Luke's desk. "I want to talk to you about Sophia."
Luke reclined in his chair thinking here it comes. "I know you are not happy that I brought her back but she belongs here. She belongs with me."
"I know and that is why I wanted to talk to you. Four years ago your mother asked me to make Sophia stay. I let her go. It's not what you are thinking though."
Luke studied him for a moment noticing how much the man had changed. He had aged and he looked tired. Luke knew he had a hard time when Sophia left but he had missed how much it showed on his face. "You mean you didn't let her leave because you don't like me," he asked skeptically.
"No, she needed time on her own. I wanted her to choose you on her own not because nature picked you." Matt stood up and paced around the room.
"Then why did you teach her to not flip?"
"I knew you would want to know. I was worried that she would fiip and something would go wrong. She was too far away for her to get help so I taught her how to not flip," Matt walked back to the door leaning against it for support. "She can decide if she wants to flip or not. The power is within her. You just have to convince her that she should."
Sophia stood on the stage at Alley Nine getting ready for tonight's performance. She had picked a few songs for her set list but was happy that she only had to do an hour tonight. The owner had booked a local band to finish out the night which meant time off for Sophia.
Just as she was ending her practice she saw the bar staff coming in which included Presley. Most of the time they ignored each other which was fine with her. She had actually felt nervous to work with Luke's Friday night toy but the club was usually busy and their paths didn't cross.
She knew Luke would be there tonight like he usually was. The thought that Presley must be extremely jealous made her smile. Luke came in every night to hear her but he kept his distance. She had to admit that she had been rough on him since she had been back. She hadn't spoken to him and would walk away when he came near. Tonight she would have to talk to him.
She still didn't understand. What would cause Luke to bring her back home? Yes, they were friends but there was no reason for him to need her there. Sophia thought a lot about New York and mostly about James. He had called a few times but she had picked up only once. The rest of his calls were sent directly to voicemail.
Later that night when her set was done Sophia walked over to Luke who was sitting in the back of the room. "Walk me home," she asked him.
She saw the look of surprise on his face but it was quickly replaced with his smile. They walked out of the club heading towards her townhouse. For a few blocks they didn't talk but when they reached her father's home she stopped. "I have two things to ask of you."
"Oh, so you don't talk to me for a month but you want a favor," he teased.
"Melody, one of my friends from school, is on break and she wanted to know if she could come visit me. I told her I will have to check my schedule but I wanted to know if it was okay. I know we don't usually invite visitors but it would be nice to see someone from New York."
Luke grabbed her hand causing goosebumps to appear on her arm. "I think that would be okay."
Sophia started walking again but she didn't let his hand go. The last time she had held his hand was when they were at the diner watching his parents dance. "The other thing I wanted to know was if I could stay with you while she is here. The apartment is too small for two people and I don't feel like living on the couch for a month."
This time Luke stopped walking," you are always welcome in my home." Sophia didn't know what happened but all of a sudden her lips were on his and they were kissing. She let herself have this moment feeling the world slip away and the only two people who mattered was Luke and her.
Somehow they made it the last block to her house where they said their goodbyes. The only thought in her head was what now?
Luke walked home feeling ten feet tall. She had felt it. She may not know what it was between them like he did but she had felt it. This beautiful, sophisticated woman was his mate and he wasn't going to let anything stop him from having her. He had been with a few women in his life but none compared to her. His mother had tried to explain the pull of a mate but it was truly indescribable.
The next morning he was again sitting in his father's office when Sophia walked in. "I don't want to beat around the bush so I just wanted to tell you that I am sorry about last night. I am missing James and I think that is why I kissed you."
Luke felt deflated. Last night had been amazing to him yet here she was saying sorry like it was a mistake. He wanted nothing more than to tell her the truth of why he brought her back right this moment.
"Don't worry about it. I think we can still be friends. It might be a little weird for a while."
"I will try my best not to maul you again," she laughed. He loved the sound of her laugh. It was a sound he had missed while she was gone. "So what is it like taking over your dad's job?"
He thought about it for a second," strange. I don't think I will be as good as he was. The pack loved him and they were loyal to him. Most of the pack sees me as the troubled kid I used to be as a teen."
"I don't see you like that. You have a calm about you that you didn't have when you were younger."
"It's only been four years."
"A lot can happen in four years," she said sitting on the desk in front of him.
"Yeah, just look at you. You've grown up, you're beautiful," he whispered the last part bringing his face close to hers.
"Luke," she said placing her hand on his chest," I don't think we should make the same mistake two times in a row."
He backed up,"the pack would rather my mom kept the job. She keeps telling me that she was just holding it till I was ready to take over."
"Are you ready?"
"There are days when I think so."
"What about today," she asked.
"I'll have to tell you later."
She laughed again getting up from the desk. "Got any food around here? I'm starving."
"I think my mom may have dropped off some groceries the other day."
"What, you can't go shopping for yourself?" She headed for the kitchen with Luke following behind.
"Well, I am Alpha. I have lowly subjects to do it for me."
"Oh, so that's how you lead. I don't know if I want to be part of the pack." She opened the frigerator door searching his shelves. She pulled out some bread, butter, and cheese. "Grilled cheese sandwich?"
He nodded watching her work. She looked good in his home. She belonged here. "Actually, I haven't been eating well lately. The groceries were just her way of telling me I need to eat more."
"You should have told me. I could have made a steak or something. James taught me how to make a mean steak." Luke watched her pause and her eyes filled with tears.
Luke grabbed her hand,"it's going to get easier." She smiled at him getting back to work. "When is Melody coming?"
"She should be here in a week. I am so excited. It was hard leaving New York. My life was there."
"Hey Sophia, I know this has been hard on you but you do belong here. Even though you haven't fllipped you are one of us. I found that out the night you threw me on my car."
She giggled, flipping the sandwiches over. "Whatever happened to that old beater?"
He made a face at her,"don't be mean to old Bessie. I fixed her up after you left. My mom talked me into selling her last year. You should have seen me cry. I wept like a baby."
She pulled the sandwiches off the stove putting them on plates,"well you always were a big baby."
Sophia smirked at him and before he knew it he was chasing her around the house.
The next week went fast and on Friday Sophia had moved into Luke's home. The room she had been given was huge and she was pretty sure she could fit five of her bathrooms into this one room. The walls were a sunny yellow which went well with the cherry furniture. The four poster bed stood at seven feet tall and looked hand carved.
Sophia headed downstairs feeling excited by the fact that her best friend would be showing up today. She had spent most of the week cleaning the apartment from top to bottom and some getting to know Luke again. He had changed a lot since she left. There was a confidence in him that had nothing to do with arrogance.
Sophia saw Luke out on the patio eating his breakfast. "Do you mind if I join you?"
"No, please," he motioned to the chair next to him.
"What are you looking at," she asked picking up the photo album closest to her.
"Just looking at some old photos. Here," he said handing her the one in his hand. The picture was of the two of them a few months before she left Wolf Lake. The girl in the picture had long brown hair and she was looking at Luke with a longing in her eyes Sophia didn't know had been there. Part of her wondered what happened to that girl. It had been a while since she had felt like her.
"Why are you so quiet?"
"I was head over heels in love with you," she said running her finger over the picture.
Luke's smile faded from his lips."What happened?"
She couldn't pin point the moment she had changed her mind about him. "I guess I just grew up and figured out that our lives were going in different directions."
"Yet here we are." Sophia scanned the yard noticing how beautiful the day was. There were birds singing and the sky was a beautiful blue with no clouds.
"Luke, since I haven't flipped, why did I need to come back?"
He kept his eyes on the photos when he answered," we can't make exceptions to the rules. Anyone who knows our secret needs to be watched."
"You know I wouldn't tell anyone." Before Luke could respond Vivian walked out onto the porch.
"Good morning,"Vivian said cheerfully. She sat down on Luke's other side before picking up some of the photos they had been looking at.
Sophia rose,"I will see you later. I'm going to wait for Melody at the apartment. It was nice to see you Vivian."
Luke watched Sophia leave feeling guilty for not telling her the truth. This was his mate and all he had done since she returned was lie to her. What kind of relationship can they have when it is built on lies? The worst part was that she had loved him and he messed it up by sleeping with Presley. He didn't even like Presley. She had been just a toy to him. He was definitely paying for the mistakes he had made.
"It's going to be all right," his mother placed her hand over his.
"She's not going to give me a chance once she finds out I lied to her." Luke stood up to pace around the patio. This was getting complicated.
"Why didn't you tell her the truth when you went to New York?"
He thought about that for a second. Why hadn't he? For a million reasons, but mostly because he didn't think she would come back with him just because she was his mate. She thought he was selfish and she might think he was making it up just so he could get what he wants. "I didn't think she would believe me."
"Then give it time. She will figure it out for herself."
"Why did you tell me? Why didn't you let me figure it out for myself?"
He saw her hesitate,"because you didn't have time. She was leaving and I didn't want you to let her go."
"I love her. I can't explain how good it feels to have her back home. It was like a piece of me was missing when she was gone." He came up to his mom putting his arms around her.
"I'm sure she felt the same way. She just didn't understand it." He stood there just hugging her trying to draw some of her strength. Sometimes he wished he was as strong as his mother. She had handled the pack for four years without any help. Even his father had needed her when he was Alpha.