I jumped up, ready to fight for my life as the loud voice boomed off the walls in my bedroom. But my feet got tangled in the sheets and I face-planted the floor. I groaned and rubbed my throbbing nose. Damn! Thank the goddess for werewolf healing otherwise, I was sure I would be needing a nose job.
“DINA!” the voice called again, annoyance clear in his tone now, and just like that, two strong arms grabbed me and hauled me off the floor. “Stop messing around and get up!”
“Wha----?!” I muttered still half asleep and trying to get a grasp at what was going on around me. Finally, I managed to turn around and mentally let out another groan as I finally recognized who the voice belonged to. It was my older brother – and mock guardian – Dylan. He was running around in the dark, grabbing whatever he could get his hands on and stuffing it into a bag. Now, normal people might become slightly freaked out by the sight of their brother stealing anything and everything with the slightest pawn potential, but honestly, after five years of dealing with this shit, I’d gotten used to it.
I groaned out loud this time and without a backward glance, I walked back to the bed and let myself fall into the warm covers again.
Dylan had issues.
Although he was older than me by several years and was supposed to be my guardian, he apparently didn’t have what it took to get his shit together. He was always running away from loan sharks, mobsters, or some other shitty “get rich fast”-deal that had gone bad. He would be talking big, throw his dick around and then disappear for months at the time doing--- Goddess only knew what! And then - out of the blue - he’d show up like this: running around in our old home, looking for anything he could sell.
Well, whatever it was he’d gotten into this time, I wasn’t about to---
He shouted right into my ear, making me jump just about a mile in the air. Yet I’d barely gotten vertical, before I noticed his big body disappearing out the door, leaving me none the wiser about what the heck I was supposed to be doing.
Except going back to sleep apparently…
Knowing that if I pissed him off, he’d just get physical with me - and I do mean VERY physical! - I forced myself off the bed. Our parents had died in a car crash five years ago along with our baby brother, Dug. And although werewolves do heal quicker and generally aren’t that easy to kill, there are some injuries that not even the wolf can walk away from. Which had left me alone with Dylan, who’d “luckily” been 18 at the time and had gotten custody of me.
Not that he actually cared about me or anything. But he did enjoy collecting all the benefits he got out of the deal. While he was out doing his thing, I barely got by scraping rock bottom. As in dumpster-diving behind large malls and making my own clothes. Luckily you could lie online and created a separate bank account and since I was - not to brag - a rather talented artist, I made enough money to cover the bills.
“Dylan?” I asked, careful with my tone as not to piss him off. “What are you---?”
I almost crashed into him again when he came back, this time with a big duffle bag and--- and I finally became wide awake when I noticed that he was emptying my drawers and closet into the duffel bag.
“What are you doing?” I gasped as I jumped over and tried to pull the bag out of his hands. I mean, sure I’d gotten used to Dylan’s behavior over time. He had no regard for personal space, stuff, or even money. He’d long since emptied the savings our parent’s made for us and anything that had any value, he pawned off somewhere. Our parent’s bedroom was empty and everything that Dug had owned was gone. Even some of my stuff had disappeared over time.
Now, I could hate him for it, and in a way I did, but--- I didn’t. In a way, I couldn’t… Most of the time, I even covered for him. Lied to social workers and what shit not, just to keep us together. He was an asshole and a shitty brother at best, but… What can I say? He was family. The ONLY family I had.
The wolf was blood...
But seriously! Stealing my clothes?! They weren't worth anything and I sure as heck wasn’t about to wander around pack territory naked. Werewolf or not…!
“I don’t have time to explain,” Dyllan said harshly but didn’t try and take the bag back. “Pack whatever you need! We leave in 10 minutes.”
“WHAT?!” I called after the retreating figure, but he just repeated the order to pack. A second later I could hear him go through his own stuff, cursing and mumbling to himself. I sighed and for a second, I wondered if this was the day, I should stand my ground and demand that enough was enough. That I didn’t want to put up with more of his bullshit… But knowing him, he was going to get his way one way or another. He may be my brother, but gentle he was not. He would beat me and threaten my life until I did whatever he wanted. And while I was strong and could defend myself--- well, let’s just say that I tried that once and I got to find out that knife wounds are a bitch!
Especially when you want to make a living out of creating art…
And with that, I started putting some more necessities into the duffle bag, along with anything I considered valuable. Like the only family photo, I had of my parents and baby brother, and a framed picture of a drawing mom had made me.
The one that inspired me to become an architect…
I went to the bathroom to pack whatever I needed from there, mentally cursing whoever had given a guy like my brother the power to dictate my future for another 3 years. Yes, he’d actually managed to convince some sick bastards that I was restarted, and he needed to be my guardian for additional 3 years; until I was 21. And of course, get the healthy dose of money the government provided to the poor and needy!
Whatever good it did him…
“Come on!” Dylan growled impatiently, just as I’d gotten to on a pair of worn-out jeans and an oversized T-shirt that had belonged to dad. Apparently done waiting for me, he grabbed my arm and pulled me down the hallway to the front door. “We don’t have much time!”
We were late for something, I mentally snorted. At this hour?! Wishing I had the guts to question him more, I sighed and followed him without---
I gasped as I stumbled out into the cold night, barely catching my fall on the railing. Yeah, I was really, really clumsy. You’d think that being part wolf, I’d have some natural grace going for me. But no! I was just as clumsy at 18 as a newborn foal. I hated it, but for some reason, my wolf thought it would help if she growled at the doorframe. As if that would teach the thing to get in our way!
I got up and followed Dylan into the car. It was another one - just like every time and like every time before that - and I suspected that he’d stolen it. But I didn’t comment. I just threw in my duffel bag in the back seat and got in the passenger seat.
“Where to this time?” I asked, consciously leaning against the window and as far away from him as possible, in case he flew off the hinges. I was still half asleep but fully pissed off. Not that I’d let him know that. And no, this wasn’t the first time either my brother had woken me up in the middle of the night and pulled me out of the house to stay at some crappy motel for a couple of days. At this point, I was just fuming about all the homework and projects I’d be behind when he deemed it to be safe to resurface.
“All in good time, sis,” he muttered before pushing the accelerator to the max. And with that, my life was about to take an unexpected turn…