Chapter One

"Where are you going?" Temperance asked. She reached out and took a hold of his jacket. She was confused. How could he be leaving? She couldn't remain alone, she had to have someone with her.

"I can't do this anymore, Temp," Jason sighed. "You know I love you, but I'm sorry. I have to go. I'll call mom and have her come pick you up. I just need to go away for a couple weeks."

"Jason, how can you be so selfish?" Temperance spat. She was shaking she was so mad.

"Me, the selfish one? How about you? It's not my fault you can't take care of yourself. Don't put this back on me. Mom will come over and take care of you. I'm not doing it anymore. You're a burden." Jason jerked his sleeve out of her grasp and stomped to the front door. Temperance heard the door open and then slam shut. She winced when a picture fell off the wall.

She couldn't believe her cousin was leaving her. She knew her aunt wouldn't come. They hadn't asked to take care of her but they were her only living relatives. After the death of her parents, it was live with an aunt and uncle she barely knew, or go into foster care. At first living with her aunt and uncle had been okay. Then the bills started piling in and her uncle started drinking. She knew her aunt blamed her, but it wasn't her fault.

Wiping her eyes, Temperance squared her shoulders and walked into the kitchen. Reaching her hand out, she grabbed the edge of the counter and made her way to the sink. She stood on her tiptoes and grabbed a glass out of the cabinet to her left. She closed the door and then followed the counter to the fridge. Opening it, she felt around until she found the gallon of milk. She pulled it out and then unscrewed the lid. She felt for her glass and stuck her thumb inside the glass. She poured until the milk stopped at the bottom of her thumb.

After capping the milk and replacing it in the fridge, she walked to the kitchen table and pulled out a chair. She sat in silence, wondering what she was going to do. Her life was never going to be normal. Being blind made that impossible. The fire that took her sight was the same one that took her parents and baby brother. She felt tears prick her eyes as that terrible day flashed through her mind. She could still hear her mother scream and then the explosion. Closing her eyes, she let herself relive the day.

Five year old Temperance woke up to the smell of smoke. She started coughing and climbed out of her bed. Walking to her door, she opened it and glanced down the hallway. Her parent's door was closed and she couldn't see a light on.

"Mommy," she called. No one answered her. She saw a light reflecting on the wall near her parent's room. She walked down the hallway, noticing the smoke was getting worse. She wiped at her eyes, the smoke burning her nose.

Temperance froze in fear as she saw flames licking at the bottom of the stairs. It looked like the whole downstairs was on fire. Taking in a deep breath she screamed. After a few seconds, her parent's door was thrown open and her dad came running out. He held a gun in his hand. As soon as he saw the fire he screamed for his wife. He picked Temperance up and waited for her mom to make an appearance.

"Take her outside. I'll get Billy." Temperance watched in horror as her dad handed her off to her mom and ran back down the hall to her brother's room. The fire was spreading faster as each second ticked by. Grabbing a blanket out of the storage closet next to their bedroom, Temperance's mom wrapped it around her.

"Hold on to me and keep your eyes closed. Try to hold your breath as long as you can." Temperance nodded and buried her face in her mother's night gown. Her mother raced down the stairs and straight into the flames.

The next time Temperance opened her eyes, she was outside. She sucked in gulps of fresh air. Her mother set her down. "I'm going to go help your father. Don't move."

"Mom, don't go."

"I'll be right back, baby."

"You promise?" Temperance asked.

"I promise," her mom replied. Temperance held the blanket tighter around her as she watched her mother run back into the house. She heard sirens in the distance, but wasn't sure how far away they were. Seconds ticked by and then minutes. Temperance looked around as she heard someone pull into her drive. Firefighters jumped off the fire truck and someone started spouting orders. Temperance ran toward one of the men and grabbed onto his leg.

"My mommy, daddy, and baby brother are still in there. My mommy promised she'd be right back but she hasn't came back to me. Can you help my mommy?"

"We'll get your family out of there, honey. Why don't you go with Hunter here? He'll take you somewhere safe," the fire fighter replied. Temperance looked up at the man named Hunter and shook her head.

"My mommy told me not to move. I have to wait for her." Temperance was moving before they could grab her. She went right back to the spot her mother left her.

"Come back here," Hunter yelled. He was racing toward her when his eyes widened. Temperance turned around to face the house just as a huge explosion sounded. Temperance screamed as she went flying backwards. Debris went everywhere and fire was flying through the air. Temperance screamed against as a couple of ashes landed on her night gown. She did what she had learned and dropped to the ground. She rolled back and forth, trying to get rid of the fire. She could feel her skin burning and her eyes were blurry.

A bucket of water was dumped on her and then she was picked up into strong arms."I've got you."

"Where's my mommy? Where's my daddy? Where's baby Billy?"

Temperance felt tears streaming down her face. She looked up at the door and wondered what had pulled her out of her memories. She heard a knock and got to her feet. She walked over to the door. "Who is it?" she called.

"Temp, it's me," her aunt's voice reached her ears. "Open up."

Temperance sighed and rolled her eyes. This evening just kept getting better and better. She wiped at her eyes and tried to get rid of the evidence of her tears.

"Any day now, dear."

"I'm coming."

Opening the door, Temperance prepared herself for a fight.


Braiden pulled an apple out of the fridge and walked over to the couch. Plopping himself down, he bit into the apple. He heard footsteps approaching and looked up. "Hey, what are you doing up so early?"

"It's almost noon, dork. That's not early." Lucy rolled her eyes.

"Hey, that's morning for me, sweetheart. Where's your bothersome mate?" Braiden asked, taking another bite.

"He's in the shower. Thought I'd come see what I could fix for lunch. We're moving into the cabin tomorrow. It's going to be different not having everyone practically on top of each other. We're going to have some peace and quiet," Lucy stated. She sighed and sat down beside him.

"Don't lie to me. You know you're excited because there won't be anyone to hear you and Raice having rough sex. The head board banging on the wall would cause people to come running and that's just awkward." Braiden laughed at her expression.

"That is not the reason I want to leave."

"I'm sure it had a little to do with it. No one accidentally interrupting or banging on the door telling you keep it down."

"That has never happened. Plus I'm pregnant." Lucy crossed her arms and glared at him.

"You know that only makes you hornier. I bet Raice is loving it."

"Ugh, you are so frustrating."

Braiden took another bite of apple as Lucy stalked out of the room and into the kitchen. He smiled and shook his head. Damn he loved messing with her. Lucy was so easily riled up nowadays that he and Michael couldn't help giving her hell.

"When are you leaving?" Lucy called from the kitchen. Braiden got up and walked toward the kitchen. Finishing his apple, he threw the core into the garbage and leaned against the counter.

"I'm leaving tomorrow actually. Today's my last day."

"For real? Why didn't you remind me?"

"Awe, is the little Lucy gonna miss me?" Braiden walked up behind her and scooped her up into a hug. "I'm gonna miss you too."

"You know you're only gonna miss picking on me."

"That's true. I'm not gonna miss your mood swings or your raging hormones."

"Well thanks," Lucy said dryly. Braiden shrugged and set her back down.

"What are you doing to my mate?" Raice asked, stepping into the kitchen. His hair was wet and he was shirtless. Braiden rolled his eyes.

"Calm your tits, man. I was only giving her a hug. I'm leaving tomorrow."

"I'm just kidding," Raice replied, hitting Braiden playfully on the arm. Braiden grabbed his arm and gave a wounded look.

"Lucy, your mate is abusing me," Braiden whined.

"I think you're a big boy. You can handle it," Lucy replied. She was bent over looking into the fridge.

"Don't even think about it," Raice said, blocking Braiden's view of Lucy's ass. Braiden laughed and walked toward the living room.

"I'm going to take a power nap. Wake me when Lucy's done cooking."

"Hey, Braiden, think you can help me with something before you sleep?" Raice called. Braiden stopped and turned back around.

'What is it?"

"Just come with me." Raice kissed Lucy on the cheek and then headed down the hall to the back door. Braiden sighed and shot Lucy a look.

"Don't look at me. This wasn't my idea," Lucy stated.

"What wasn't?"

"Just go see what he wants."

"Ugh, fine."

Braiden stalked down the hallway, his mind playing over a thousand scenarios of what Raice could possibly want with him. His leg was doing fine today and the limp wasn't nearly as noticeable. He could almost pass for normal.

Braiden opened the back door and stepped into the cool September sunlight. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust and then he groaned. He couldn't believe they did this for him. I'm not a child anymore.

"Surprise," a chorus of voices shouted. They were throwing him a surprise party.

"This wasn't necessary," he called back.

"Awe, let the women have their fun. Your mom even made your favorite meal," Riven said, coming up to stand beside him.

"Whose idea was this?"

"It was your mother's. Your brothers thought you might enjoy it too."

"I'm sure they did," Braiden growled. He saw his twin standing next to his mom and shot him a glare. Michael smiled and waved at him. "I'm going to kill him."

"May and Trent even came down to wish you good luck."

"Where are they?" Braiden asked. Then he spotted them. May was tucked under her mate's arms and was smiling. She laughed at something Trent said. Braiden decided he might as well try to enjoy himself.

"Well everyone, the life of the party is here. Let's dance," Braiden shouted. He turned on the stereo and music flooded the clearing. He ran over and grabbed May's hands. "Can I have this dance?"

No giving her a chance to refuse, Braiden pulled her out into the grass and started dancing. Before long, Barbara and Riven had joined him along with Raice and Lucy. It was a great start to a great evening.

When the dancing ended and Trent took May away from Braiden, the food was served. It was indeed Braiden's favorite meal. Steaks cooked on the grill with mashed potatoes, corn, and green beans. He licked his lips in anticipation. His mother had out done herself. He walked over to her and kissed her cheek.

"Thanks for this," he mumbled.

"It wasn't hard and I thought you might enjoy it. We're going to miss you around here." Barbara placed her arm around Braiden's waist. "I think Michael is going to take it the hardest."

"I think you're right. It's not like I won't come back. I just need to get away for a while. I'm tired of living out here in the middle of nowhere. There's no point for me anymore. I can't run through the woods as a wolf, and I don't need to hide from anyone. I'm ready to see what and the world has to offer me."

"Just be careful. Even if you can't shift, others will know you're a wolf. They may take advantage of your injury and attack. Some wolves aren't like us. They think everyone is out to get them. Promise you'll call if you get into any trouble?" Barbara commanded.

"I promise Mom," Braiden said. "Let's go eat and enjoy the evening."

Taking his mother by the arm, he led her over to the table overflowing with food. They both filled their plates and then took their seats. Conversation flooded the table and Braiden sat back and enjoyed it. Every now and again he'd speak up, but mainly he just listened. He was honestly going to miss this. There was a sense of belonging here and he knew that he was safe. Out there in the world, he wasn't going to have a pack to lean on. It was going to take some getting used to, but he was ready.


"I'm not leaving," Temperance stomped her foot, losing her temper.

"You can't stay here by yourself. Who will take care of you?" her aunt Betty asked.

"I will be fine. I can take a bus to work and get around. I need to learn to adapt. Just because I'm blind doesn't mean I'm a cripple. You have to give me some space. I know I'm a burden. I don't need your help anymore. I won't bother you or Uncle Sam anymore. Just leave," Temperance answered.

"As you wish. You have my number if you need anything. Please rethink this," Betty begged.

"No. I know you're only doing this because you feel like it's your duty, but I'll be fine."

"Okay dear. Good bye," Betty said softly. Temperance heard her aunt's footsteps head toward the door. "I love you."

"I love you too, Aunt Betty. Tell Uncle Sam that I love him too," Temperance told her.

"I will."

Hearing the door close, Temperance sank back down in her chair. She sighed and tapped her fingers on the table. Why was her aunt acting worried? Temperance knew she was a burden. She could take care of herself. She knew how many steps it was from the front door to the bottom of the stairs. It was seventeen. It was ten steps up to the upper level and then two steps right and then five steps right again to her bedroom door. She knew where everything was in her room and in her living room. She'd be fine. The kitchen and bathroom would be the hardest, but she'd make do. She had to.

Getting to her feet, Temperance walked toward the front door. Placing her hand on the door, she turned to face her small apartment. To her right was the kitchen. To the left was the small living room. It held one couch, a coffee table, and a tall lamp. She didn't own a TV, not seeing the need to spend the money on something she'd never use.

The kitchen was small, but held a refrigerator big enough to hold plenty to eat, and plenty of wood cabinets to place her food or dishes in. The sink was decent sized and held some dirty dishes she needed to place in the dishwasher. A microwave took up most of the room on one of the counters along with her coffee maker and toaster. Every morning she'd make coffee and place toast in the toaster. It was routine and one that she planned to continue. She'd have to learn to scramble her own eggs since Jason was no longer here. She was glad that her stove and oven was all touch screen. She'd be out of luck if it was knobs.

This apartment had cost her, but teaching at the school for the blind helped her bring in enough money to sign a year lease. She put four month's rent down as a deposit so she wouldn't need to pay for another two months.

Taking a step forward, Temperance mentally counted the steps in her head. When she got to seventeen, she took a step up and counted the ten steps. She made it to her room with no mishaps and walked straight to her dresser. She was going to take a shower and then cook herself some lunch. She had the rest of the day and all day tomorrow to learn her apartment top to bottom. Then on Monday she'd have to make it to her school without any help. Luckily the bus stopped right outside her apartment building and she could easily make it there.

Excited, but a bit nervous to be on her own, Temperance decided to start her day. She grabbed some clean under wear and a pair of jeans. She didn't care what shirt she wore today, so she grabbed a random one. Anything matched jeans. She walked out of her room and down the hall to the bathroom. She opened the door and stepped into the steamy room. Jason must have taken a shower before he left. She felt around for the edge of the counter and set her clothes down. She held her hands out in front of her as she looked for the toilet. After relieving herself, she turned on the water for her shower and started stripping. She threw her pajamas in the corner close to the door and her underwear in the hamper. Laundry was going to be difficult to do, especially since her apartment didn't have a washer and dryer. She'd have to find a laundry mat.

Once she felt the water and got it to the right temperature, she stepped inside. She let the water cascade around her and closed her eyes as it sprayed her face. She let it run into her mouth and then spat it out. Pulling back from the water, she felt around for the soap. She found it and lathered up her hands. She started at her arms and then worked her way down her body to her toes. After that she felt for the shampoo. She grabbed one and twisted off the lid to smell it. She put it up to her nose and then jerked it away. That was definitely not her shampoo. She pulled the curtain aside and set it in the floor. She'd get rid of it later. Feeling around for another bottle, she finally found her shampoo.

"This may be harder than I thought," she mumbled after washing her hair. When she was done with her shower, she pulled the curtain aside and reached for her towel. Her hands met nothing but air. She cursed under her breath and leaned further out. She felt her foot slip and gave a shriek. She fell hard, hitting her head against the side of the tub. Temperance groaned and then lost consciousness.

A/N

Well you know who Braiden's mate is now! Temperance is quite the stubborn character. She's going to be a fun one to write! Braiden is ready to hit the road! It's going to be different not including a lot of the pack members in this one. Now that he's leaving the pack, Braiden will probably only call his mom and let her know he's okay once he gets settled. Then its on to some Temperance and Braiden time :)

I have also started Abeline's story. I just sent the first chapter to my beta! That one for some reason was really hard to write :/ I wrote chapter one three times! No joke! It just didn't work for me for some reason. I like the version I did recently the best! Hope you guys think the same when that one gets uploaded!

Peace out!

Midnight