The sound of a car door opening and closing draws me from the book I’m reading, and I set my Kindle on the side table next to me. Why do people always pick the worst time to interrupt? Urufu was just about to give that douche a well-deserved bite.
I’ve been binge-reading Taming the Storm since I woke up this morning and saw it on my Kindle. I’ve been waiting for a book that could draw me in and make me fall in love with the characters while still keeping me guessing. It was one of the first stories that had kept me interested in a long time.
My front door opens, and in walks my mother, her heels clacking on the hardwood floors as she walks down my hallway to the lounge where she knows I’ll be. Ugh, I hate that sound.
"Mother, what are you doing here?" I ask as she flings her wrist, making the door magically slam shut.
I roll my eyes as she waltzes into my home, using her magic freely as if she owns the place. Her chocolate-brown hair flows out behind her as she walks, and I know she’s using more magic to make an entrance. What’s the point? There’s no one here but me and she knows that.
My magic responds to hers and I quickly reign it back in, thinking back to the last time I let it run free. My mother flew through the glass of my front window, landing on her ass in the front yard. It took a lot of fucking effort to make sure no humans reported me for magic use.
I don't understand why she won't just leave me alone. I'm twenty-five years old, for heaven’s sake! I live in my own home, have a job, and have enough savings to support myself without her. There’s no need for her to visit me, yet she still does, even after being thrown through a bloody glass window. You’d think that would be a big enough clue for her to realize that maybe I didn’t want her around? But apparently not, because she just keeps coming back.
Some days, I wish she would just leave for good and be done with it, then we wouldn’t have to keep up the pretence that we actually have some kind of a relationship. She made it clear long ago that she sees me as nothing more than a paycheck.
She only does it to appease the Order, not because she actually cares. The Order gives each witch a stipend to take care of their children until their thirtieth birthday. Considering my mother knows I won’t provide for her, she sees the Order as her meal ticket.
As a witch for hire, I make a really good income from humans who know we exist and are willing to pay almost anything for certain jobs. Not many other witches like to use their magic for profit, but I figure why not? It doesn’t hurt anyone and it pays the bills.
Any time a client comes to me with a job that I don’t feel is quite on the right side of morality, I turn them down. Helping people get a little lucky in their sex lives? Okay. Help bald men grow hair? Sure, I’ll do that. But harm someone, or kill someone? Hell. Fucking. No!
My mother takes a delicate seat on my old grey sofa and crinkles her nose in disgust. She’s never liked my furniture. Something about my taste, or lack thereof as she would say. I like to upcycle old furniture rather than buy new stuff. Which means a lot of my stuff comes from charity and that’s just something she could never live with. Furniture, clothes, hell even her food, all of it has to be the best of the best for my mother.
I sit back in my padded rocking chair and push my Kindle further onto the table to stop it from falling off the edge. I’ve lost many of them for that very reason. I’ve dropped the suckers and they’ll break just fine, even without being stepped on. I swear I have a curse. This is my fourth Kindle this year alone.
My mother taps her nails on the side table impatiently and I can tell whatever she has to say will be quick. She never stays any longer than she needs to.
"Jasmine, the Order has been sending unattached witches up to visit the two remaining wolf packs in search of a compatible mate. You have been selected as the next witch to go. You will have a week to set your affairs in order before you must leave. This is non-negotiable. If you defy the Order, you will be punished."
I take a deep breath and glare down at the floor, anger bubbling up inside me. I need to regain my control because I don’t want to accidentally lash out at her with my magic. I can’t afford another broken window or the attention that kind of incident brings.
Emotions, however, make my magic so much harder to control.
“You’re to pack quickly and make arrangements to leave as soon as you can. There’s no time frame or end date attached with this order, so it may be best for you to sell your house.”
I groan internally. Same old loving mom, coming in and telling me what I need to do, as if she has any idea what she’s doing when the fact of the matter is, she hasn’t got a clue.
As much as I hate when she does this kind of thing, I know when something comes from the Order, it’s never a request. You do as they demand, or suffer the consequences. And there are always consequences.
I meet her eyes, the anger in my gaze not seeming to affect her in the slightest. She’s probably used to it by now. "Very well, mother, I’ll leave for the first pack as soon as I have things squared away here. Is there anything else?" I ask, my voice dripping with sarcasm.
She purses her lips, and I fight the urge to snap at her.
Every time she's here, the anger between us builds. I just wish she would leave and for once, not come back. There's just too much animosity between her and I for us to ever get along.
She hates the fact that she got pregnant with me when she was sixteen. She has always blamed me for my existence. While some days, I regret having been a burden to her, it’s not my fault she would sleep with anyone who would have her.
By the time she found out she was pregnant with me, she was already four months along and had no way to track down just who my father was. The only way she would have been able to would be by using a tracking spell, but no matter how many times she tried, it never worked. Which meant she was unable to dump me on his doorstep like I knew she would have loved to do.
And that's not the worst of it. She has told me on countless occasions that she tried to abort me and made it clear to me over the years that if she could cut all ties with me, she absolutely would. If it weren’t for the Order stepping in because they sensed I had magic, she would have handed me off to the nearest human without a second glance.
As it is, some days I wonder if I would have been better off if she had. Even being cast away and given to humans, I would have at least had a better chance to be part of a family that loves me. It was safe to say after growing up like that, I have some resentment issues.
Living with my mother, I was passed from person to person in the coven whenever she wanted to go out and find a man, which was at least once a week. Let me tell you, as a child, that kind of thing doesn’t exactly give you the warm fuzzies.
She never stuck to just one guy. The longest relationship she ever had was for six months, and even that only lasted as long as it did because the guy was filthy rich. He also didn’t seem bothered by my mother going around with other guys, even though he was, supposedly, in a relationship with her.
I think the only reason he didn’t leave sooner was that he had bonded with me. I was sixteen years old and had no real guide on what real men were like. All I knew was they would gladly give you whatever you wanted as long as you spread your legs for them.
When Benji walked into my mother’s life, things didn’t change for her. She kept being the same self centered person, just with a little more money. But things sure changed for me.
The first day I met him, I had been going through something no woman wants a stranger to witness. But he had been there for me when my mother wasn’t. She didn’t even realize what was happening with me or she just didn’t care.
After a while, I think my mother sensed that things were changing between Benji and I. The last week he was around, he showered me with more attention, even going as far as being protective of me one night when my mother brought home a particularly bad date. Looking back on it, his attention could have been perceived as fatherly, but it felt different to me–more intense.
My mother must have realized just how close we were getting and decided to get rid of him before she could become too jealous of his attention to me.
The night before he disappeared, he kissed me for the first time. I was saying goodbye out at his car because he told me he would be gone a few days but not what for. The emotions I felt that night cemented the thought that I was indeed in love with him. He hugged me after we said goodbye and that was the moment he kissed me. I’d never been kissed before, and the way he treated me so delicately made me all the more attracted to him. My mother, however, had been watching from the doorway and saw the whole thing.
A week after he left, I was in my room crying, completely distraught. My mother came in and taunted me, making it perfectly clear with her cruel words that no man would ever love me. When I spoke up to refute her words, she slapped me and sent me flying into the wall. As I lay there helpless, she stood over me glaring as she began to suffocate me with her magic.
I’d never been truly scared of what my mother could do until that moment. The words she uttered next were drilled into my heart. “No one would miss you. I could kill you right now, and no one would notice. Think about that the next time you consider challenging me!”
After that, I sank into a hole of depression, hating Benji for coming into my life. I didn’t care that he was nine years older than me. All I cared about were the feelings I developed for him, and how to express them without sounding like a complete fool.
There are still days where I stop and think about what could have been between us, but I know it does no good to dwell. I can’t change the past, so I just have to deal with it and find a way to move on.
I take a deep breath and focus back on the situation at hand. My imminent departure to one of the packs.
“Which pack am I going to?” I ask through gritted teeth. My anger knows no bounds when she’s in my home. I bought this place to be rid of her, but no matter what spell I use, she always finds a way around it.
“You’ll be going to the Virginia pack first. If you don’t find a mate there, you are then to travel to the Maine pack. If no mate reveals himself to you there, you then are allowed to return.”
I roll my eyes. ‘Allowed’ implies that the Order would actually let me leave the pack. However, with the way things have been going among the packs lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re making all of us visit the packs just to get knocked up.
It seems the only logical way to build up their race, even though there hasn’t been a wolf hybrid in centuries. The last one was put down because of the power she wielded. Since then, it has been frowned upon for hybrids to exist. Not that I don’t think they’re out there somewhere, because I know not everyone wants to live under the Order’s rule.
"You can leave, mother. Your message was delivered. I’m sure the Order will be satisfied, so you can run along now. I’m sure there's a guy out there looking for your attention."
She shakes her head at me, rolling her eyes. "That's the other reason I’m here, Jasmine. I'm getting married this weekend. After the wedding, I'll be moving to Australia. This is the last time we'll see each other."
My mouth drops open in shock. I stare at her, waiting for someone to jump out of the doorway holding a camera or something. Something to tell me this is some kind of prank, because my mother is definitely not the marrying type.
When nothing of the sort happens, I sigh, resigned. That poor man.
"So, that’s it then? You're leaving? Do you want my blessing or something?"
She scoffs. “No, Jasmine, I don’t need your blessing. I just want you to be aware I’m happy, and I no longer need you. After the wedding, the Order will be informed I am no longer responsible for you, and they can keep any stipend from here on out.” Then without another word, she turns her back on me, walking through my house and out the front door without another word. Just what I thought, as soon as she’s said what she needed to, she’s gone.
"Have fun, mother! It was fucking nice knowing you!" I call after her retreating back, knowing she was just trying to make me feel bad. Her ultimate goal in life seems to be to bring me down.
You know what? Fuck her! I don't need her. Never have. Never will. She may be my mother, but she was nothing more than a surrogate to me! She gave birth to me, but that was about it. Everyone else took care of me growing up.
The door slams shut behind her, and I get to my feet, going straight for the wine. I fill up a glass and lean against the kitchen counter as I sip from it. I can hear the birds out in the yard and immediately feel down, realizing that the pair of love birds I was planning to buy will no longer be able to come live with me. The breeder will have to either keep them or sell them to someone else. I'm glad now that I didn’t end up getting a dog or cat. I know that would have made it a lot harder to say goodbye.
The house can be taken care of by my agent, Harriet. She will put it up for rent if I’m gone too long, and if somehow I end up finding a wolf mate, then I know she will sell it for a good price on my behalf.
I wouldn't worry about all this if I was just going on a short trip by myself, but I have no idea how long I’ll be gone. With the Order, you never know. It could be a day or two, but knowing my luck, it will be a month at the very minimum.
I walk through my lonely house and kinda feel glad at this unexpected chance to meet a wolf mate. All my friends have started their own families and are settled down in their houses with their husbands and children.
Me? I haven't had any luck finding a man to love. All I've had are shitty guys who want me for a quick fuck, and then take off the moment the sun comes up.
Most days, I wonder if I was cursed at birth to live a life filled with loneliness. Especially after the way Benji left.
I've heard of the way wolves treat their mates. Cherished and loved until the end of their days. That’s all I've dreamed of.
No guys I've met have ever even remotely lived up to that fantasy in my mind. Well, maybe Benji did before he left, but that could have just been the hormonal fantasy of a teenager who has never known real love. Now though, I may actually have the chance to find true love.