CHAPTER 1: The First Meeting
Ashlyn’s 15th birthday almost was here, but she wasn’t excited. Like her 14th and 13th, she would be spending her birthday at Park View house. She was surrounded by strangers again and hoped they wouldn’t touch her. Ashlyn had been admitted to park view at the tender age of 12 and a half, mustn’t forget the half when her “forever family” Mark and Sandy couldn’t deal with Ashlyn’s nightmares or her visions. And they couldn’t stand the way she hated being touched by people or knew things about them that she shouldn’t.
Once, one of Mark’s best friends came round to help with some DIY around the house; Ashlyn brushed his hand when she handed him a drink. Somehow, she knew he was sick, really sick. She saw him crying in a doctor’s office and heard the doctor tell him that he had cancer. That they didn’t think there was a treatment that would help. Mark was not happy when Ashlyn asked if he was still sad and needed a hug. Sandy was downright pissed when Ashlyn announced to her reading group that one of Sandy’s friends was pregnant and had been ‘doing rude things’ with another’s husband and that a third was being beaten by her husband. Though Ashlyn didn’t really think that this was a bad thing to share with the group. She regularly seemed to know who was at the door or when the phone would ring. They had one friend, Dave, the things that man thought about and had done in his life. His memories overwhelmed Ashlyn couldn’t stand to be in the same room as him. She would run and hide in her wardrobe every time he was in the house, screaming if he came within arm’s length of her or she was forced to be in the same room as him. She could feel the pain of his victims just looking at him. No one ever believed her about him, though Mark and Sandy had to admit it was weird when he was arrested in an investigation into a missing child.
The police found millions of images and videos on his hard drives and phone, the most horrific child abuse imaginable. But the final straw for them was when Ashlyn’s dream, well, nightmare, came true. She dreamt that Sandy’s mother would die in a ball of fire. Two days later, she was on her way to visit them when she was involved in a massive traffic accident. 7 cars and a lorry, then a fuel tanker hit the back of the pile-up. It all went up in a ball of fire. It took them 3 weeks to formally identify all the bodies involved. Shortly after the funeral, they had her admitted to park view and about 9 months after that, they took in another foster child. They were no longer her carers and didn’t bother to visit anymore.
It had taken her years to realise that if she just took the medications they wanted her to or made it seem that way, they would relax, and she would be able to… just not take them. Ashlyn hated the way the meds made her feel, the way she couldn’t think straight. Then she just had to fake it, fake being “normal” so that they would think she was fixed. Hopefully, she could get out of this hell, where the answer to Ashlyn being overwhelmed by others’ emotions and touch was to touch her more to restrain her and medicate her. Unfortunately for Ashlyn, the meds did numb some of the overwhelming feelings, and without them, she could and would melt down. After being restrained, she was regularly left with bruises, even more so if Justin was involved. He got some kind of sadistic pleasure from causing pain to the patients. Justin was a mid 20’s, 6’0 tall man, built like a rugby player with large, hard, muscular arms and thighs, big round shoulders, and a barrel-like chest that was just as hard as the rest of him. His hair was buzzed, dark brown or black. It was hard to tell. He had cold brown eyes, a nose that looked like it had been broken several times and a thin mouth that never seemed to smile unless someone was hurting or in distress. Unfortunately for Ashlyn, he was part of her care team.
Ashlyn was out in the gardens about a week before her birthday. It was a glorious July day. The sun was bright and warm on her face as she curled up on the swing chair between two trees, far enough from the building to be peaceful but close enough that the staff felt like she was sufficiently supervised. Ashlyn loved to be outside. She found the breeze, bird song, and even distant traffic noise calming. She loved to have her windows open, even in the middle of winter when it’s bouncing down with rain and hail, thunder and lightning or even snowing. She wished she could sit out in the storms, but they wouldn’t let her. Ashlyn satisfied herself by going out on days like this with her books or sketchpad. Today she was reading Harry Potter and the philosophers stone again. She didn’t have much choice in books now. She didn’t get visitors to bring her anymore. The ones that belonged to the hospital weren’t in good shape. A couple of staff members would occasionally buy her books. The only person who came anymore was her social worker, Glenn Morris. If she was honest, he was pretty useless for a social worker, but she was stuck with him. She had been sitting in her usual spot, lost in her book, for about half an hour when it happened. The breeze brought a strange smell, minty, with hints of new book pages and the trees after a storm. She found it strangely relaxing, even if she didn’t know what it was.
The scent was overrunning Ashlyn’s senses relentlessly. She even felt like she could taste it. She couldn’t concentrate on her book at all, and Ashlyn could read through anything. Her eyes were heavy, and she was starting to feel strangely heavy limbed. After about 10 minutes, she stood up, stretching out, her top riding up a little over her waist, revealing a strip of pale skin marked with a couple of random bruises. She intended to head into the hospital building, which looked reminiscent of the Downtown Abbey house. Her legs, however, seemed to have another plan. She found herself walking into the breeze, further into the garden, following the scent. It was as if her body had decided that she just had to know what it was.
Micah Ward was pacing up and down this stretch of fence at the other end of the large garden. Zander, his wolf, was howling in his head, begging Micah to just jump the fence or break it down, but it was clear that this fence was going nowhere, even with his alpha strength. Micah thought he could jump it, but he could smell too many humans around to risk being seriously injured here. Even though he was easily 3 times the size, they would mistake him for a wild wolf and likely have him put down; ok, maybe ‘mistake’ is being too generous. Humans are willfully ignorant of the real world, to Micah’s world, even when it slaps them in the face. That would not be acceptable, not now he knew that his mate was on the other side of this fence. Zander managed to seize control briefly and let out a fierce growl. Micah managed to take back control of their body, even though it was wearing Zander’s wolf form right now. Many human sides couldn’t do this. Their wolf side would have to give them control, but Micah had always been able to be in power if he wanted after their first shift, he thought it was something to do with him and Zander always being on the same page near enough.
Micah had been looking for his mate since he turned 17, the earliest he should, in theory, feel the mate bond. He was 25 now, and he had found his mate finally; he would truly come into his Alpha powers. He would get an authentic alpha voice and be able to control the pack without his father’s help. He would always want his father’s advice, which was invaluable, but it was different from having to rely on him. Micah had started to give up hope that he would ever find his mate, but it turns out she was being held behind this fence in the human territory neighbouring their land. Why was she behind this fence? What was this place anyway? Micah could smell that she wasn’t a human; she’s not a wolf either, Zander told him smugly. Micah wasn’t sure what she was, but she smelt like his favourite fruits, strawberries, mango, and pineapple. It was hard to find out much more of her scent with the wind blowing the wrong way now. He had to figure out a way to meet her. He had to at least see her, then he could go and make a plan. He would come back tomorrow with the whole pack if he needed to and burn this place to the ground to get his mate. She shouldn’t be trapped behind a fence. She should be with him. Micah just about managed to restrain himself from growling again. The questions tumbling around his head, making it hard to think and hard to plan. He needed details, how big was the fence, did it seem to be dug deep in the ground, did the humans seem to be armed? Well, that one was easy. Micah couldn’t smell any guns or oiled metal, so it was unlikely.
Unbeknownst to Micah, Ashlyn was getting closer and closer to him. Zander could feel something. His growing agitation was a testament to this. Slowly, both Micah and Ashlyn realised they were close to what they wanted as the scents they were searching for became much stronger in the air around them. Micah froze in front of the fence as Ashlyn took the last steps through the trees on her side to reveal herself. Micah couldn’t believe his luck, he and Zander didn’t often agree when it came to women, but they were both awestruck with the girl in front of them. It was clear she wasn’t of age yet, but that didn’t matter to them; they would wait until she was ready for them. Her red hair shone in the sunlight, the braids running down her head and shoulders, falling down her front to near her waist. How long was it when it was loose, they both wondered. Her face was a picture of beauty and innocence. Wide blue eyes with lashes most girls have to buy, slightly flushed cheeks, high cheekbones, a straight nose, the kind of eyebrows that never need to be shaped or plucked. But oh, those lips, they made Micah and Zander want to fight over who got to kiss them first. They were just perfect, excellent and pink without, it appeared, any cosmetic help, plump. Slightly parted in surprise right now. Her skin was paler than almost every wolf they had ever met, more like that of a typical human redhead, but it was smooth and looked soft and strokable.
Micah and Zander were both transfixed by the sight of the girl, unmistakably their mate. Even in the ripped, holey leggings and an aged Motley Crue t-shirt, they could tell that she was stunning. They knew this was going to be a challenge then. Something told them that they should be gentle with her, that she was breakable. Added to the fact that clearly, she was not a wolf, and they didn’t know how a mate bond would work for her, if she could even feel it or if she was old enough to. What was she anyway? Did she even know she wasn’t human? She could clearly sense him somehow, or why else did she seek out this particular patch of the fence? Micah’s heart leapt at the thought that his mate knew him and had come looking for him. Maybe the challenge wouldn’t be so big after all.
Ashlyn’s gaze was fixed on the enormous wolf with its magnificent grey coat. It had one white paw that she could see and a white chest. There was a crescent moon in black on its side, the left, she thought, though why she was even cataloguing all of these details, she didn’t know. The wolf didn’t seem to be spooked or nervous about being face to face with a human, weren’t they supposed to run? She should be running, but she couldn’t seem to make herself move. She should scream, someone would come and move her then, or they would tell her it was all a delusion. What if it was a delusion and she was imagining things? That must be it, she’d been in his loony bin for far too long, and the crazy was starting to rub off on her. But that smell was delicious, and his fur, somehow she just knew this wolf was male without any proof. His coat was so inviting, she wanted to run her fingers through it and snuggle into his side. His bright eyes were fixed on her body. One was grey and the other green, an unearthly bright green; they held intelligence that seemed human for some reason. But this was a wolf. She shook her head, trying to shake some sense into herself. She needed to move, like now, but something told her she was safe with him, this wolf. Probably the safest she’d been in a long time. She felt comfortable with him.
Micah could feel her contentment. He could read it in her face and body language. For one, she hadn’t run away screaming at first sight of him, even though their wolf form dwarfed her. There was something different about this not human, not wolf-mate of his, this brave teenager. But first, he needed to work out where she was and why so he could get her out. ‘Who are you, my beautiful mate?’ He whispered to her through the newly forming mind link, hoping she could hear him despite not being a wolf yet, betting that she wouldn’t be able to.
Ashlyn’s scream, stifled quickly though it was by her own hand, confirmed that she could, in fact, hear him. Zander chose this moment to speak up ‘don’t do that, you ejit, she’s gonna think she’s going crazy now!’ ‘Gee, thanks for the input, captain obvious. Did you manage to take your eyes off her body long enough to restore the blood to your brain? How else do you propose we communicate?’ Micah replied in the same tone before turning his attention back to his as yet un-named mate. Who was she? What was she? This was beginning to drive Micah insane, he could hear her, see her, smell her, but he couldn’t touch or talk to her. He had half a mind to just change and screw it all, well, not really; he didn’t want to scare her. She likely didn’t know about Micah’s world she belonged. She needed a friendlier, gentler introduction.
Ashlyn was backing away from the fence and the wolf very slowly, trying not to get his attention, she wasn’t sure if he could knock the fence down or climb it, and he did not want to find out right now. Even if this was all just in her head, “that’s it…. I’m fucking nuts….. going to have to talk to the doc about those meds again”, she mumbled to herself, hugging her book to her chest like it was a shield. She had made it about 5 small steps backwards when she heard it again, more evidence that she was going absolutely bonkers. She heard the most decadent voice inside her own head. It was clearly male, it sounded like everything bad for her personified, but she was drawn to it too. ‘No! Mate! My mate, you can’t go…. At least tell me your name?’ That was it, too much, nu-uh; Ashlyn let out another piercing scream, turned and started to run; she stumbled on a tree root and fell, face first, into the grass. “Ashlyn?! Ash? Where are you? Are you ok? What’s happening, lovely?” Came a kindly female voice in the distance. Micah snorted in triumph. He had her name now. Ashlyn, Ash, he tried it out in his head. Micah and Ash, Luna Ashlyn. He liked it. Ashlyn, however, just looked terrified, and with the flat smell of washing powder and perfume getting stronger, Micah thought it best to move. ‘I’ll come back for you, my Ashlyn, and I’ll explain everything. Just wait for me’, he sent to her and a blown kiss. It nearly tore out his heart to hear her scream again as he left. His resolve not to jump the fence was sorely tested when he heard Ashlyn, his Ashlyn, begging someone not to touch her. How dare they?! He let out a loud growl, his alpha voice coming out now. There were several human screams from behind the fence, but more importantly, he heard the paws of Xavier, his beta and his mate, along with Lochlan or Loki as he preferred. As they joined him, Micah howled loudly, eliciting more screams from the nearby humans as the few members of his pack joined in. They ran for home as fast as they could. Micah had to plan.
Ashlyn had heard the growls and the howls coming from the wood ‘oh gods, there are more of them?!’ She thought to herself. Other people screamed; Ashlyn didn’t have another scream in her; she was frozen in fear and panic. Jackie was one of her favourite nurses, even if she couldn’t tolerate Jackie touching her. At least Jackie respected that and wouldn’t touch Ashlyn unless it was unavoidable. Ashlyn did her best to calm down. Today, however, it was hard to calm down. She eventually managed to get on her feet and run inside. A combination of the howling stopping and Jackie’s cajoling achieved this. Of course, though Jackie followed her in, she took Ashlyn into the treatment room and helped her get her hands and knees cleaned up. Luckily there was no permanent harm done, just a few scrapes and scratches. Jackie asked all the right questions. She figured out that Ashlyn had seen one of the wolves making the strange racket for the time and must have been freaked out. Satisfied that was all that was bothering her, nothing weird that they needed to worry about, just large animals that would scare anyone, Jackie offered Ashlyn a hug and some hot chocolate. Ashlyn took the hot chocolate and her book into the quiet lounge. Reading until lunchtime, well, she tried, but she couldn’t seem to concentrate on the words in front of her.
Ashlyn got back to her room. Ashlyn had her own room, she always had due to her nightmares and weird sleeping pattern. It was pretty large really, there was a single bed in the middle, a nice, big bay window with a bench she could sit in, a wardrobe and set of drawers, a decent-sized desk and the typical hospital wheely table that can be used while in bed. That afternoon, after lunch, chicken salad sandwiches with crisp, she curled up in the chair in the corner; it was a surprisingly comfy armchair considering where she was and pulled the little table over. Pulling out her pencils as she opened her sketch pad to a clean page, the best way she had found to keep herself sane, well, she thought, was to keep a diary. She had tried words at first, but Ashlyn didn’t think in words often; her thoughts came as images or videos with some narration, so now she drew what happened. She had pictures of most of the patients and staff here by now. She sat for a long time, just staring at the white page with a pencil in her hand. She didn’t know what to make of the day or how to record it, so she closed her eyes and just drew. When she opened them a few minutes later, the image that was starting to take shape on the page before her was clearly the wolf. Had it really been him speaking in her head? Or was that just a delusion? Clearly, the wolf himself was real, or how else would everyone else hear the growls and howls they made. Ashlyn found herself hoping it was him speaking in her head. She wanted to see him again. She needed to work out what it was about that wolf, why she felt drawn to him, and whether his fur was as huggable as it looked.
Ashlyn spent about 2 hours drawing. She had a few pictures of the wolf by the time she was done, but also the trees, the treatment room, the lounge, and Jackie. After this, she seemed to be able to concentrate on the day better; the afternoon and evening passed as they usually do, talking to her key worker, group discussions and so on. She went back to her room as soon as she could that evening. She just wanted to be alone; it was too loud out on the ward, and people insisted on being too close to her. She could feel the confusion, the distress and the anxiety of the other patients. Sometimes she can even feel the physical pain they have been through and see their memories. She hates it. It drives her mad, and no one believes her. Ashlyn was in bed early tonight, though she didn’t sleep, just lay in her bed with her book, trying to read and failing. She eventually fell asleep sometime around 3am.
About the Creator
I am a dyslexic scientist and new writer from the UK. I haven’t shared much work before but would love some feedback!
I love to write and I hope you enjoy my work as much as I enjoy making It for you!
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