Sunlight dapples through the trees, rippling streams of light over the dirt paths made by tiny forest animals. Soft-footed rodents skitter over leaves and twigs, making only the slightest noise, but it is enough to alert me of their location. I could go after them without any effort, but I sense a much bigger prize waiting just beyond the copse of trees I have hidden in. I creep silently forward, being as careful as possible.
Waiting a few feet from the edge of the trees, I finally glimpse my target. There she is, an older doe that was perfectly fat and rounded with age. I look around quickly to make sure there isn't a fawn hanging around, and when the coast is clear, I launch with my powerful hind-quarters. Mid-leap, I catch the terrified gaze of the doe and see my furry reflection in her chocolate eyes. I cringe inwardly at the thought of taking her life. As I land on her back, I deliver the quickest death blow I can.
I drag the body as quickly as possible back to home. As I come to the creek that surrounds our camp, I realize that the water has now reached the level of my shoulders. Higher than it has ever been. With the water level so high, it takes some extra effort to get the doe over the dirt levy around the camp, but I finally get it into the camp and then into the designated pile for fresh meat. As I turn to go wash my paws in the creek, I spot my mother sunning on a boulder. Her nut-brown fur shines, striped through with hints of gold and white. Pristine white fur covers her belly and chin, made to look their best for this special day for the Pack. Next to her, my father the Alpha stands protectively, his russet fur shining.
As more and more wolves pour into the clearing with their various kills, I notice Blaire, my younger sister, and her husband Stephen co-carrying a huge bear between the two of them. I rush over to Blaire's side to help, because she has always been the weakest one in our family. The day she met Stephen, one of the strongest wolves in the Pack, we knew he was perfect for her. We pull the bear to the now-enormous pile, and everyone freezes as my father lets out a booming bark that shakes the ground. Blaire looks at me with her glacier-blue eyes and nods in thanks before trotting over to my parents' sides.
"Rhyan!" A voice sounds behind me, and I turn to see Drew, the fixation of my affection. He smiles at me, his chocolate fur echoing the warmth of his eyes. It takes no time at all for me to melt.
"Hey, Drew," I casually grin, trying not to let my schoolgirl crush shine through.
"I hear today's the big day," he laughs, his beautiful voice echoing through my ears like the sweetest music.
"Sure is. Woohoo, new baby sibling!" I laugh. "It's really not all that fun. I just hope it's not another girl. Having Blaire around was enough."
"But at least she's got Steven, so she's got someone to keep her away."
"Yeah…" I nod in agreement, staring off into space again.
"Well, I have to go morph now. I'll see you for the parting ceremony, okay?" His voice interrupts my daydreaming, and I smile as he runs off into the trees. I run to my house, a couple hundred feet away, and morph into my human form. I grab some denim shorts and a light tank top and throw my long black hair over my shoulders. As I close the front door and walk back to the clearing, I see Drew reappearing from the trees. His suntanned chest glistens in the sun, just sweaty enough from hunting all morning. I look around and see that all of the other Pack members are human again, so the ceremony can begin.
"Hey, Farrah, can I borrow a hair band?" I ask quietly as Mom and Dad stand in front of everyone, calling for silence. Farrah nods and hands me a little purple one, my favorite color. I smile at her and pull my hair up into a high ponytail, my straight black hair cascading down my back.
My father's voice suddenly booms across the clearing. "All right everyone, quiet down! As you all know, today is a very important day for our family and for the future of the Pack. My mate Sariah will be bringing another addition to the Pack into the world today." He pauses and waits as many of the Pack members cheer and clap for the news. Drew appears out of nowhere and stands beside me, his bicep pressing against my bare shoulder. Goosebumps erupt all over my skin, besides the place where our arms are touching. Farrah catches my eye and winks seductively, raising her perfectly shaped eyebrows. I glare back at her and mouth, 'Not funny'. Farrah laughs, attempting to cover it with a cough.
"After this meeting, I will leave the command to Stephen while my family and I go to the hospital. I trust you will all behave. Meeting dismissed." Father steps down from the stone he's been standing on and helps my very pregnant mother down. He beckons Blaire and me to join him, and we detach ourselves from the crowd. My parents and Blaire pile into my parents' lime-green Lamborghini, while Farrah and I slide into my beautiful silver Stirling Moss. I shiver with pride as I roll the top down, letting the sun shine down onto my shoulders. Farrah waves goodbye to the Pack members gathered in the camp entrance as I hit the gas and follow my parents to the closest hospital.
As soon as we arrive, they seat my mother on a hospital bed and wheel her to the delivery room with my father following behind. Another all-smiles nurse leads Blaire, Farrah, and me to a private waiting room, a plain little square room with splashes of pastel baby blues and pinks all over the wall. We wait forever, pacing back and forth and watching the clock. Hours and hours pass without news of my mother or the baby, and Father stays with her the whole time like a good husband.
Finally, after an eternity, a young nurse comes into our room, grinning. I look at Blaire and Farrah and smile, then look back to the nurse.
"If you would like to follow me," she says, "you can come see your new little sibling."
All three of us leap up and follow her at a jog down to where they have my mother and father. The nurse lets us in and instantly I am entranced.
"It's a boy," Mother whispers, and I rush over to her bedside. She pulls back the little blue blanket to reveal a perfect little tiny face. I slip my arms under the tiny bundle and hold him to me, cooing and kissing his tiny little hands.
"What's his name?" Farrah asks, peering over my shoulder at my new little brother.
"Corey," my father responds. "After your grandfather." I turn the name over and over in my mouth, sounding out the words. It is the most perfect name I could have thought of. And as I stand there and hold him, I can't help but feel like great things are coming for our family.