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[Story] Sold to a Wolf Pack – S01 E09

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Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 9

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Saffron

I try to act casual while I clean, even though my heart is racing. If Nicki realizes I’m hatching an escape plan, I could be minutes away from being locked in a dungeon.

“How many wolves live here?” I ask, trying to sound like a curious—and very innocent—Omega. Whatever that’s supposed to sound like…

“A lot.” Nicki grins. Not helpful. Unless she knows I’m planning to run away and she’s telling me not to bother.

“Do you like it here?” I try again. Maybe if I can get her to talk about her life, she’ll naturally reveal something useful.

Nicki nods. “I shifted this summer, so I had to stay with my sister until school started.” She pretends to gag. “Then Nisha—she’s my best friend—shifted too and we got our own room.” Nicki grins.

“So everyone moves to the pack house after they first shift?” I ask to confirm what my roommate told me earlier.

“Yup,” Nicki replies, popping the ‘p’.

“What’s the Alpha like?” I ask conversationally.

“He’s okay,” Nicki shrugs. “I like Luna better. She’s really nice.”

I wonder if POW is Alpha Patton. I try to imagine him being married to someone nice, but the only image that comes to mind is of a female body builder. Her muscles ripple and her face contorts into a scowl, so I quickly push that mental image aside. For all I know, there might be a Wolf who outranks POW—a Wolf they call Alpha—and he might be nice… or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

I attack the floors with the mop and continue to question Nicki while I work. “Does the pack have any slaves?” I ask. It feels weird saying it out loud, but I don’t see any other way of getting the information.

“Slaves?” Nicki shakes her head, eyes wide. “Slavery is wrong. Didn’t you learn that at school?”

“I guess?” I mumble. Am I the first slave POW’s purchased? Or does he just have a different name for us? Employees? Housekeepers? Omegas?

“Miss Elmers says slavery was ab-nolished,” Nicki adds.

“You mean abolished?” I correct.

“Aha,” Nicki nods emphatically. “People can’t be slaves now. It’s not right.”

“It’s not.” I nod. Nicki just rolls her eyes like she thinks I’m crazy.

I consider asking her some more questions, but I don’t want to push my luck. There’s a fine line between a curious Omega and a Rogue trying to dig for information, and that’s one line I know not to cross.

Sighing, I focus on dusting and putting away all of my roommate’s stuff. As I work, Nicki tells me about her best friends, Noah’s and Joshie.

“Joshie always wins when we race at recess,” she tells me, “but I win when we race after school.”

“You do?” I ask absently. I’m hardly paying attention anymore, not after listening to Nicki describe what she and her friends each had for lunch every day this week.

“Joshie can’t shift,” Nicki stage whispers. “Nisha can, but I shifted two whole months before she did, so I’m faster.”

My smile is all the encouragement she needs, and Nicki starts telling me who’s better at Math (Nicki’s better at division, but Nisha has the entire multiplication table memorized), French (Joshie, hands down), Spelling (Nisha again), Art (Nicki, of course), and PhysEd (Joshie, who was the only kid who managed to climb to the top of the rope on Friday).

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

I zone in and out, picking up bits and pieces of useless information. When I think enough time has passed, I head back to the laundry room with Nicki in tow, and she continues talking while we wait for the last few minutes of the wash cycle. I try to steer the conversation so I can get something useful out of her, but I don’t learn much. Only that Alpha Patton isn’t that scary, the adults are all boring—well, except for Luna—and Nicki’s parents are away visiting cousins, so she hasn’t seen them in over a week. None of it information that could help me run away.

I load the clothes into the dryers and finish cleaning. I’m covered in sweat, but the floor’s no longer a tripping hazard, and the only real problem is my roommate’s desk. I clear off the surface—rearranging her stuff so it fits in the drawers—and reveal several photos pinned to the wall. There’s one of Nicki with my roomate, another of the blonde in Yoga pants from earlier—not the one who made fun of my clothes, but her friend, the one who giggled—and a third photo of my roommate staring lovingly up at a cute guy.

“Is that your sister?” I ask Nicki, pointing at my roommate in one of the photos.

Nicki runs over and climbs onto the chair to take a look. “Yup,” she nods, “that’s Zara.”

“Is the Alpha your dad?” I pry.

“No.” Nicki giggles.

“Is the Beta?” I try again.

“Nope.” Nicki pops the ‘p’ again as she says it.

I stifle a groan and go back to cleaning. It’s practically impossible to get any useful information out of the kid. If I want to learn anything, I’m going to have to be really obvious about it. I cross my fingers, hoping Nicki keeps our conversation to herself, and take the plunge.

“Nicki,” I begin, taking a seat on the other chair and spinning around to face her. “Does the pack house have guards?”

“Of course.” She nods. “Haven’t you ever been to a pack house before?”

“Not really.” I shake my head.

“Did you just shift?” She asks in surprise.

“No,” I tell her. “I was around your age.” It was back when Mom was still alive, before Dad took up drinking. He looked so different then. He wore nice, clean clothes, had a full head of hair, and didn’t have the potbelly or yellowed teeth. He was also sweet and caring, and he never hit me, not then. When I remember those days, it’s almost like it was this whole other person… like my real Dad died the same day Mom did.

I think back to when I first shifted. Our house backs out into the forest, the three of us—Mom, Dad and I—would always go for walks before the sun set. Sometimes, the two of them would shift, and their wolves would nuzzle me and let me pet them. Other times, they’d stay in their human form, and we’d all hold hands as we explored new paths.

That day, we’d barely entered the forest. I spotted the full moon through a canopy of trees and next thing I knew, I’d torn my clothes to shreds and shifted. Mom was pregnant then—huge stomach, nine months in, baby due any day—so she couldn’t shift. She just kept hugging me and exclaiming that her little girl was all grown up. I can still taste her salty tears as I licked them away and the feel of her flowing mane of golden-brown hair tickling my ears.

“Then where did you live?” Nicki asks, bringing me back to the present. A present where Mom is gone and Dad just sold me to a Wolf pack.

“I stayed with Dad,” I mumble, holding back tears.

Nicki doesn’t seem to notice that I’m upset. After an awkward pause, she starts talking about all the homework her teacher, Miss Elmers, assigned this weekend. The non-stop chatter starts to annoy me—especially when all I really to do is to be left alone so I can wallow in self-pity—but eventually, Nicki’s energy and optimism slowly starts to rub off on me.

By the time I go get the clothes from the dryer, I’ve stopped thinking about Dad entirely. Nicki follows me to the laundry room and climbs onto one of the washers. She offers to help me fold, but I decide it’s not worth getting in trouble over and do all the work myself. It takes six trips to get all the clothes back to my room, with Nicki skipping after me and singing Bieber songs off-key. When I’m done, I’m exhausted and covered in sweat, but aside from the stacks of folded laundry all over both beds, the room looks spotless.

“What do you think?” I ask Nicki.

“Looks great.” She grins and climbs onto my roommate’s chair. She sits down cross-legged and watches me put piles of clothes away. I make my bed next, and am about to make my roommate’s, when a loud shriek makes me jump.

“What are you doing?” My roommate, Zara, demands from the doorway. I’m about to point out that I’m cleaning, when I realize she’s not talking to me. She’s facing her little sister, hands on hips, looking so much like Nicki that I have to stifle a grin. “You can’t be in here,” she shouts, pointing at the door. “Go to your room.”

Nicki looks hurt for a brief second and then quickly turns angry. She jumps off the chair and glares up at her sister, her small hands bunching into fists. “I’m telling Luna,” she yells and marches past her sister. She stops in the doorway, all her anger magically disappears, and she smiles and waves at me. “Bye, Sofie,” she says. She gives her sister a final glare, sticks out her tongue, and runs off.

“Sofie?” Zara turns to me. “I thought you were Saffron!”

“I am. It’s a nickname,” I tell her and relief washes over her, as if I’d just told her that the paper she forgot to write is actually not due until next week.

Zara’s face is really expressive, like she never learned to hide her emotions. I can’t help but feel sorry for her. The poor girl wouldn’t survive a week living with Dad, that’s for sure. Dad gets angry when I smile, when I cry, when I’m angry… you get the picture… so I’ve learned to school my emotions. No matter how I feel on the inside, my face is only allowed to say one of two things: ‘I’m scared’ or ‘I don’t care.’

My roommate’s face, like a rainbow, moves through relieved, to annoyed, and then finally settles on embarrassed. I wonder what she’s thinking about and keep an eye on her as I go back to making her bed, curious to see what emotion will come next.

“Leave it,” Zara instructs, gesturing at the bed. “Alpha wants to see you.” Followed by worry. Not exactly what I was hoping for.

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