South Mountain Pack Ch. 01bypocketbooklover©
Sophia Carlucci stood in front of her mirror and assessed herself with overly critical eyes. Instead of seeing spiral-type curly coal black shoulder length hair that delicately framed her oval face, she saw a mass of uncontrollable curls she couldn't even get the comb through. She saw long, gangly legs instead of toned calves and thighs. Her eyes which were a deep emerald green seemed to her to be too big for her face, reminding her of one of those Precious Moments dolls that her grandmother collected and she secretly was scared of. She saw herself as short, being 5'4", instead of delicate and petite. Lastly she looked at her figure and sighed out loud. She didn't notice that her curves were finally starting to fill in, she still saw herself as skinny instead of the developing 9th grade cheerleader.
Being the youngest of eight children and having seven older brothers (Vincent, Dominic, Gianni, Marcus, Enzo, Gino and Salvatore), and being the only girl, she was sheltered, spoiled (though lovingly), and was never let out of her brothers way overprotective sight. Every time she turned around, one of her brothers or cousins was within hearing or eye sight. She loved the fact they loved and protected her, but she just wanted a bit of freedom, especially since she was going to be entering high school in two weeks, and she was coming of age to finally start to date. Her and her twin brother, Salvatore's, 15th birthday party was tonight and everyone from their school was invited. Her first official grown-up party.
Grown-up party. Those three words were the bane and excitement of her existence. Since she was turning 15, according to Pack rules she was finally allowed to date. There were strict rules and even harsher consequences for violating those rules. She must be accompanied while on her date, the boys must be introduced to her family and be approved, there can be absolutely no physical contact until her 16th birthday, including kissing. At the age of 16, another set of rules applied, another at 17, and the final set of rules when she reached the age of majority at 18 when she would finally be allowed true and total physical contact and intimacy. Like most female Weres, she bristled that boys were basically allowed to do whatever they wanted at the age of 16, but she understood the rules were in place to protect female Weres since they were outnumbered by the males 2 to 1.
Sophia sighed aloud again, thinking of turning 15. She would finally be able to shift at the next full moon and couldn't wait, even though she was scared, deeply scared. Terrified, petrified even. She worried she wouldn't be able to shift or be able to shift back. Normal worries for any new shifter, but each new shifter thought those worries were singular to them. Being extremely shy and sheltered all her life, she also worried about stripping in front of the other new shifters, but knew she would be in a circle of concealing fabric held by her brothers and cousins to protect her modesty as any underage female were was. Her only true excitement was the fact her cousin, Maria would also be going through her first shift.
Maria was her best friend as well as her cousin; they shared clothes and secrets, though with their sheltered lives there weren't a whole lot of secrets to share. There was one secret Sophia had never shared, and probably never would and that was her crush on Anthony, the Alpha's son. Most of the secrets involved normal teenage dreams about their future mates and the many children they would have, what kind of man would be their ideal mate, what kind of car they wanted for their 16th birthday, what their first kiss would be like and that was usually as far as it would get as they would both dissolve in giggles. Apart from being Weres, they were typical American teenage girls, concerned with clothes, talked incessantly about boys, looked at each other and burst out in giggles that no one else understood, but tolerated lovingly.
Sophia heard her family outside setting up the tent near the pool area in preparation for tonight's festivities. Maria was due any time for final selection of what they both would wear, which was some form of sundress, then modest swimsuits. They had both gone shopping earlier in the week with their mothers to pick out several outfits, now it was time to pick the final outfit. Plus accessories to wear with it and of course shoes. Shoes. That was Sophia's biggest downfall, besides pocketbooks. She couldn't get enough of either; luckily she had a large walk-in closet and an indulgent father. According to her Daddy, nothing was good enough or too much for his little girl.
Hearing several cars pull into the long driveway, she glanced out her window and saw her cousins and Aunt Annie and Uncle Joe pulling up. They volunteered, or were coerced into helping her parent's setup for the party. As she watched, Maria and her five brothers (Lorenzo, Damian, Paulo, Michael and Victor) and her Aunt and Uncle got out and were greeted by her overwhelmed mommy and her daddy, Rose and Frank. From this distance it was hard to tell Uncle Joe and her Daddy apart, being identical twins there was only a slight difference in weight, with her Daddy being just a bit brawnier. Both being Betas, they were tall about 6'5" and weighed over 240 lbs of pure muscle and were intimidating to everyone but their children and especially their wives. In both families, the wives ruled the houses and woe betide any who displeased them. Both men had ordered extra-long sofas in the family rooms for the times they were banished from the bedroom for doing things that displeased their wives.
It was a constant source of amusement in both houses that these little women could silence their husbands and children with just a look. Standing at just 5'5", they had a way of narrowing their eyes and tilting their head that made their families instantly stop what they were doing and look for a place to hide. Being Italian, both had fiery tempers but also extremely loving natures...as long as you did what they wanted you to. Right now they had both husbands and all twelve sons hauling tables and chairs under the newly erected tent. The women were closely supervising and instructing proper placement of each table. Sophia rushed down to greet her cousins and Aunt and Uncle and to grab Marias hand to go to the most important job -- picking out clothes, shoes, earring, bracelets, necklace and trying to figure out what to do with their hair.
For the next several hours the men worked and the women supervised setting up an elaborate party environment. Finally, everything was set up and the parents went inside to clean up and get dressed. The boys stripped their shirts off and dove into the pool. It was a teenage girl's fantasy. The boys ranged in height from 5'9" for the youngest at 15, to 6'3" for the oldest at 18. They were all muscular, toned and bronzed from being outdoors and their natural skin tone. All had black hair and emerald eyes, chiseled jaws and looked like they belonged on the cover of GQ. Being Weres, they were all products of multiples births and thus there were five sets of twins in the pool, and two boys whose twins were still upstairs getting ready, Sophia and Maria.
Collectively, the kids were known as the Carlucci Clan. This was the first year all fourteen of them would be attending South Mountain High, a Pack run school, and the majority of teachers were dreading it, having known them since they were born. Two would be seniors (Vincent and Dominic), four juniors (Gianni, Marcus, Lorenzo and Damian), four sophomores (Enzo, Gino, Paulo and Michael) and four incoming freshmen (Salvatore, Sophia, Victor and Maria). All of the boys were on the Football and Basketball teams, Junior Varsity and Varsity and also both girls were cheerleaders. Luckily all were good students, though the boys could do much better if they applied themselves, but being boys they had other things on their minds.
Before Sophia and Maria were ready, they heard the sounds of cars pulling up and excited chatter and laughter drifting up towards the bedroom windows. Looking out the back window, Sophia could see their friends out by the pool and Maria glanced out the front to see a line of cars pulling in the driveway. Both girls started giggling and jumping up and down in excitement. Putting the finishing touches on, they assessed each others critically. Glancing up and down, they tweaked a pleat here, patted a curl down there, adjusted a bow and declared each other Absolutely Perfect. They were ready. Now if they could calm their nerves down. They sat down, and then quickly stood so they wouldn't wrinkle their dresses and waited for Sophia's parents, Rose and Frank, and Maria's parents, Annie and Joe to come and get them.
Both girls were gorgeous and dressed in clothes that complimented their individual styles and budding figures. Sophia had a mid-thigh length emerald sundress with tiny white daisies with a sweetheart neckline and light cap sleeves, it highlighted her tan and natural coloring and matched her eye color exactly. To accommodate the outdoor environment she had decided on wearing KEDS, but girled them up with white little-girl style anklets with a green trim that matched her dress, unknowingly this emphasized her long toned, tanned legs. Maria was wearing a mid-thigh length mauve halter style sundress with splashes of burgundy throughout that also highlighted her coloring and the dress set off her delicate bone structure. She also chose KEDS, but girled hers up with matching burgundy shoelaces that had sparkly silver threads woven into them.
Finally, it was time to introduce the birthday boy and girl. Sophia was all dressed up and Salvatore had to be pulled out of the pool. They stood on the steps leading down to the pool area, surrounded by their family and waited on their dad to make a speech. Looking down into the crowd you could see the girls practically drooling at the sight of the Carlucci boys and the boys suddenly marveling at the sight of a grown up Sophia and Maria, wondering when that happened.
"I would like to thank everyone for coming today to celebrate the 15th birthday of our two youngest children, Sophia and Salvatore. I can tell by looking at the crowd that my children have been blessed with good friends and I hope in the upcoming years that will continue and may all their dreams come true in the future. Salute," Frank said with tears in his eyes as he hugged and kissed his youngest children.
Both Salvatore and Sophia greeted Alpha Carlo Rossi and his wife Madame Alpha Gina. Their son Anthony, who was 17, was already there and was best friends with Sophia and Salvatore's older brothers Gianni and Marcus and Maria's older brothers Lorenzo and Damian. Alpha Rossi encouraged the twins to open the present he had brought which was a gift card to the local mall, seeing this Frank thanked him and said his wallet thanked him especially. Everyone laughed knowing how Sophia liked to shop and how Salvatore was addicted to video games.
The next few hours were spent eating, playing volleyball and horseshoes, water polo and gossiping about the opposite sex; who was cute, who was cuter, who was built and loud giggling could be heard from the groups of girls frequently. Sophia noticed she kept sneaking glances at Anthony, hoping he would at least smile at her or even acknowledge her existence.
Everything went well for the next few hours and then an event occurred that would change Sophia's life forever, yet she was unaware of it at the time and would cause her heartache but even more joy in the years to come.
She was walking by the pool glancing at Anthony and a group of boys was throwing a football back and forth, an errant pass caused Anthony to bump into her, knocking her off balance causing them to fall into the pool. He grabbed her to protect her and tucked her slight body in close to his broad chest, he wrapped one arm around her waist and one arm around her head and in the process his nose was pressed deeply against her neck. As they hit the water only one thought was running through his head, "MINE."
As they spluttered to the surface, Anthony still had his arms encircling Sophia making sure that she was unhurt. He pulled her towards the shallow end and changed his hold on her, cradling her in his arms tight up against his broad chest and walked her up the stairs before setting her down on her feet. It took all his self control to move his arms away from her and only did it knowing her brothers were descending on them. All seven of them checked to make sure she was unhurt then turned their eyes to look at him, some glaring, some astonished, but most incredulous. Alpha Rossi and Frank hurried over to ensure Sophia was unhurt and to prevent her over protective brothers from getting out of hand. At this point her brothers didn't care that Anthony was the Alphas son and their friend.
"Well, I couldn't make up my mind between this dress and another, so thank you Anthony for giving me the opportunity to change clothes." Sophia said with a giggle and a blush. Unknowingly she had diffused the growing tension with her innocent and friendly remark. Everyone started laughing, even Anthony who hadn't taken his eyes off of her yet. Alpha Rossi and Frank looked at Anthony and then glanced knowingly at each other.
Sophia and Maria hurried up the stairs and into the house to change Sophia's wet clothes. Anthony watched her intently until she entered the house and then stepped back when he saw her bedroom light come on. Even though her curtains were drawn, he still wanted to make sure he knew where she was. Alpha Rossi and Frank stood back and watched him, continuing to glance at each other and smile. Anthony didn't move from his spot until he saw Sophia talking with her mother in the kitchen, getting ready to return to the party. Knowing she would be outside soon and within his sight and smell he relaxed and started talking with his friends, all the while keeping an eye on the kitchen door.
Alpha Rossi, Frank and Joe meanwhile had stepped off to the side for an adult beverage and a talk. All three men had seen the looks and possessiveness Anthony had displayed and wanted to discuss that and other pack business. They were all thrilled Anthony may possibly have found his mate, since in the last fifty years the number of female Weres born to packs had decreased significantly, and to have found his mate at such a young age was almost unheard of. Usually mates found each other when the females turned 17, not 15 as in Sophia's case.
In the modern age of Weres Pack life had changed significantly in the last fifty years. Most modern Packs didn't live in one house anymore and had turned most Pack lands over to individual families. In the age of the internet, this made things safer since it was less questionable for multiple families to own a couple of hundred acres versus one individual to own thousands of acres. All of the land was still considered Pack since all the families were Pack, they were just more discreet.
South Mountain Pack was way ahead of a lot of Packs in their diversity, all Pack families had outside interests and jobs, and they didn't discriminate on the color of your skin or sexual orientation. Even though they were living separate the Pack was a tight knit community, everyone relying on their Pack mates for companionship and having grown up together most were true friends instead of just Pack mates. There were still mandatory Pack meetings, held on the full moon of every month and everyone attended. Generally there were games for the children, socializing for the adults, a huge covered dish banquet and then a Pack run in the evening while there was a bonfire lit for those who didn't participate in the run.
Even though there had not been any wars or skirmishes for years, Alpha Rossi still insisted everyone learn combat skills. From the age of 6, boys and girls were taught self defense and progressed to higher combat offensive skill levels as their training progressed. Both boys and girls were encouraged to participate in local sports since this increased their endurance and encouraged a caring and team mentality that would benefit both themselves and their Pack. Make no mistake, the girls may look delicate, but if it came down to it, they could kick your ass and then giggle about it. The boys along with their combat training were taught to respect the girls and to protect them. Since the number of female Weres born into the Packs had decreased significantly they made sure the females were treated with every courtesy and respect. This was one of the reasons why Alpha Rossi wanted to speak with Frank and Joe, two of his most trusted Beta's and his best friends since they were toddlers.
He had attended a national Alpha Council, which the 200 Alpha's across the United States attended yearly and instituted new policy and procedures as well as handled any Pack disputes. There were four Alphas' per state as mandated by the Council over fifty years ago, this had eliminated all the territory wars and peace was finally restored. South Mountain Pack controlled Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties in Maryland.
Alpha Rossi asked about general issues that involved the training schedules, the next full moon celebration, and he updated his Beta's on new births and asked them if they had any questions or concerns from any Pack members since he had been gone for two weeks at the Council meeting. Both responded that nothing new had come up, but everyone was anxious for the Pack meeting to hear from the Alpha about new issues from Council.
"The first issue I wanted to bring up is an important one. We will be having a new family, the Millers, come into the Pack, they are moving here from West Texas. The father is an environmental engineer and recently got transferred back to the DC area. He scouted out the other Packs, but feels that our Pack would be a better fit, plus they are more used to a rural area. The family will be here to help celebrate the next full moon to pick out a house or land and to start getting issues resolved before their move," said Alpha Rossi. Frank and Joe looked at each other knowing that there had to be more to the story then this.
"The father, Todd, is a Beta, so you two will be working closely with him. The mother, Holly, is planning on opening a Coffee shop here in town with homemade pastries and bread," Alpha Rossi stated. Everyone was quiet for several moments then Carlo added, "Oh yeah, did I mention he has ten daughters?"
"Ten daughters? How is that even possible? Who protects them? In every family we are aware of, they have boys, lots of boys and then as soon as a daughter is born, the births stop. Our two families are perfect examples of that," Joe said.
"Which brings up the second issue I wanted to discuss, I heard from Alphas in Southern Virginia, West Texas, Ohio and Nevada that they are having a problem with their birth differentials also, except they have the exact opposite problem," Alpha Rossi stated. "It seems in the last fifteen years the number of female Weres born outnumbers the males by at least a 4 to 1 ratio if not higher, they are worried about the continuation and survival of their packs with not enough males."
Frank and Joe almost dropped their drinks with the news. They couldn't believe this had been going on for fifteen years with no one else being aware of it. The decreasing number of female Weres being born had been brought up for the last ten years at the annual Council and no one had mentioned the overabundance of females in their own packs.
"Which brings us back to the Millers, another reason they chose our Pack is our overabundance of males. Todd was getting a weird vibe from surrounding Packs, nothing overt or concrete, but he is beginning to become concerned for the safety of his family. In their Pack, in the last fifteen years there have been two hundred female Weres born and only forty male. No Pack can survive with those differentials. Todd said in the last four years three girls had run away, but no one in the pack believed that. A note was found in each girl's bedroom, in their handwriting but according to Todd it just didn't feel right."