Chapter 1 - Wolfbound - The Sherwood Wolves #1
It was going to be the worst summer ever.
Of course, that wasn’t saying a whole lot, considering every summer in Cedar Falls sucked. It was a one-stoplight town with only one hole in the wall diner, an old movie theater that only played movies like Sixteen Candles, and a two hour’s drive to the closest mall. It was nearly impossible to find anything to do.
Most of the time, my sister, Zoe, and my best friend and next door neighbor, Blair Roberts, and I spent our time working on our tans, reading celebrity gossip magazines, and talking about boys. It was always boring, but at least the three of us were always bored together, so we always tried to make the most of it.
But this summer was going to be different. Zoe was already at a summer-long pre-med school camp, and Blair was about to leave for New York City to spend the rest of the summer with her dad, just as soon we piled all of her crap into her mom’s car.
I was the only one who wasn’t going anywhere, which meant I was going to be on my own for most of the summer – hence why it was going to be the suckiest summer of all time.
I had no freakin’ clue what I was going to do with myself besides sleep in pretty much every day of the week, binge-watch Pretty Little Liars on Netflix, and eat way too much chocolate chip mint ice cream. By the time my sister and best friend got back to Indiana, I was probably going to have the biggest muffin top ever.
Blair’s mom, Melody, groaned as she heaved a suitcase, which looked huge in comparison to her own petite frame, into the trunk of her black Jeep Liberty. “What’s in this thing, Blair?” she groaned.
Peeling her eyes away from her cell phone, Blair glanced over at the suitcase. “Shoes,” she said, as though the answer should’ve been an obvious one.
“Do you really need this many pairs of shoes?” her mom asked exasperatedly. “You’re only going away for the summer, not an entire year!”
“I had to coordinate shoes to go with every outfit, Mom. I am going to New York,” my best friend said pointedly, rolling her cat green eyes, which popped against her mascara-coated eyelashes. “Everyone knows that people in New York are fashion conscious.”
Her mom didn’t look too happy, but she didn’t protest, either, as she tried to find a way to stuff the suitcase into the trunk with the other luggage. Giving into whatever Blair wanted was how Melody had been dealing with her daughter since the divorce.
Blair glanced over at me and turned her glossy lips into a pout. “So, I guess this is it.”
“You make it sound like you’re going to be gone forever. It’s only going to be a couple of months.” Even as the words left my mouth, I had a hard time believing them myself. Those months were going to feel like forever.
“It’s the longest we’ve ever been away from each other,” she pointed out quietly.
“I know.” It was true; Blair and I had lived next door to each other since we were born, two weeks apart. We’d seen each other every single day for as long as I could remember and had way more sleepovers than I could count. Her parents had only gotten divorced earlier this year and her dad had moved to NYC, so this was the first summer she would be spending away from Cedar Falls.
When her mom finally managed to make room for the suitcase, she slammed the trunk shut and then glanced down at her watch. “Blair, we’d better get going or you’re going to end up missing your flight.”
“And I can’t miss my flight. Daddy splurged for me to fly first class.” Blair grinned proudly. Then she turned to me and flung her arms around me. “I’ll call you, okay? And we’ll text message all day, every day. It will be just like I’m not even gone at all.”
“Yeah,” I said, even though I knew it wasn’t true. It would only seem that way for Blair, who would be seeing the city for the first time. I imagined that she would be spending her days in Central Park, maxing out her dad’s credit cards at Saks on Fifth Avenue, and stalking celebrities with a pair of binoculars, all while I’d be in Cedar Falls doing… well, nothing, besides working on that muffin top.
It wasn’t that I was jealous. Okay, maybe I was sort of jealous, but mostly I just wished that I’d known that both Zoe and Blair were going to ditch me this summer, so that I could have found something to do with myself. But they’d both waited until the last minute to break the news, and it was too late now. Every summer camp program I’d had any sort of interest in was booked, and I didn’t know what else I could do with myself on my mom’s low budget. I was stuck.
As Blair pulled herself from my embrace, she shot me a sad smile. “I’ll text you when I get to the airport, okay?”
“Okay.” I forced a smile, but I was secretly forcing back the tears that were clogging my throat. I knew that spending the summer away from my best friend would suck, but I didn’t expect to be on the verge of crying before she’d even left.
“See you later, Camryn,” Melody said, giving me a small wave.
“Bye.” I watched as the two of them climbed into the SUV and backed out of the driveway, the tires stirring up dust as they pulled out onto the dirt road.
I cut through Blair’s yard and into my own. When I reached the front porch steps, I decided I didn’t want to go inside. With my mom working a double-shift at the hospital and Zoe gone, I knew the house would be dark and lonely.
Sitting down on the porch swing, I sighed.
As I racked my brain for more ideas on what to do with my summer, I heard the sound of tires squealing as a car turned onto the dirt road. Blair must’ve forgotten something at the house, which was typical of her. My best friend could’ve easily have lost her head if it wasn’t attached to her neck.
But as the car inched closer, I realized it wasn’t Blair’s mom’s black Jeep making its way back down the narrow dirt road. It was a sporty-looking tiger lily orange convertible, which I’d never seen before. Trust me when I say that Cedar Falls is such a small town that I could’ve probably told you what everyone drove. And no one in this town drove a sporty orange thing like that. I didn’t think anyone even would. No one around here ever drove anything flashy.
That made me think that whoever was in the car must’ve been from out of town. It was the only explanation.
I tried to steal a glance at who was inside.
There were five guys in the car – five guys who I’d definitely never seen before, which only confirmed my suspicion; they weren’t from around here. Not that it made much sense why they were here. Cedar Falls wasn’t a hot vacation spot, and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would move here. I figured there was always a chance that they were visiting family.
The car slowed down to a crawl and then almost seemed to come to a total standstill. The guy who sat in the front passenger’s seat glanced up at my house, his gaze lingering on the front porch.
I was about to look away, because I didn’t want him to know I was staring like the loser I was. But it was already too late. His striking blue eyes had already caught on mine.
My breath caught in my throat. Even from a distance, I could tell that his eyes were a shade that didn’t even look human. They were like light blue gemstones, which sparkled in the setting sun.
An eternity seemed to pass, and neither of us looked away. As he continued to hold my eyes with his gaze, I could’ve sworn I saw his lips curl upwards into an amused smile.
As the car continued its way up the street and then pulled onto a side road, I quickly shook the thought away. He probably hadn’t smiled, and I doubted that he’d even looked my way. Why would a gorgeous guy like that look at a small town girl like me? I was probably just imagining the entire thing.
But even after he was long gone, the only image that seemed to fill my mind was his blue irises burning straight through mine.