“Where do you think you are going young lady?”
Scarlet Charming froze. She was so close. So close to freedom and spending the summer in Neverland like Mel had offered instead of going to that dreadful werewolf camp that her parents wanted her to go to. She was so, so close.
“I'm going over to Mel’s,” Scarlet offered, trying to look her father directly in the eye. She failed.
“I don't think so,” Daring Charming crossed his arms, “You are going to camp tomorrow whether you like it or not.”
“But, Dad,” Scarlet whined, “Brick gets to spend the summer at Uncle Dex’s.”
“Brick is nineteen,” Daring said, “You are seventeen, therefor you have no control over your summer plans.”
This was totally unfair. Scarlet huffed. So what if she was a werewolf? So what if out of her and Brick she was the one who showed more werewolfish tendencies? She didn't want to go to some stupid werewolf camp to learn about werewolf culture. It was not her idea of a fun time.
“The other kids will be mean to me,” Scarlet said, trying to appeal to her father’s protective side.
“If they’re mean to you, then you sock ‘em in the jaw.” Scarlet groaned. There was her mother. Just as she was about to get her father to relent, Cerise Hood Charming had to come and ruin it. Typical.
“I can do that,” Scarlet said, “but it doesn't mean that they'll like me. My own cousin’s don't like me.” It was true. Ramona Badwolf had married a full blooded werewolf, so all of her four children viewed themselves as better than Scarlet. Which they weren't. Scarlet was still faster than the best of them.
“They don't have to like you,” Cerise said, “This is werewolf camp, not princess training. Unless, of course, you'd rather go to that for the summer.”
And that was how Scarlet Charming, only daughter of Daring Charming, star of the Ever After High track team, found herself standing in the middle of a dusty road staring at cabins in the middle of nowhere. At least they have cabins, Scarlet thought to herself. She had been afraid that they would be forced to sleep under the moon.
Scarlet picked up her duffle bag and slung it over her shoulder. Why couldn't she be in Neverland right now with Mel? According to her friend, it was a lot of fun to spend the summer on the magical island. Why couldn't she be in Neverland, or at Uncle Dex’s with Brick, or at school? Anywhere but at werewolf camp.
“As usual, you get the short end of the stick,” Scarlet muttered to herself, “Sucks to be you.”
Seriously, why couldn't she be anyone else? She would give anything to be as popular as her cousin Maggie, or as smart as Joy, or as beautiful as Lavender, or as cool as Rosemary(that's right, she just called a thirteen year old cool). Wow, Scarlet. Real pathetic.
Scarlet pulled herself out of her thoughts and went in search for the cabin information. It had to be somewhere in the godforsaken camp. Scarlet located the building that appeared to be the main hall and headed for it. A few kids were hanging around, some of them checking out the list on the wall.
“Yes!” exclaimed a white haired girl a few years younger than Scarlet in front of the list, as Scarlet came to a stop only a few feet away from her. The girl grinned at Scarlet. “I’m in Lupus. I knew that’d I get in Lupus this year,” she said, “What are you in?”
Scarlet eyed the list. The name Scarlet Charming, or Scarlet Hood, or S. H. C. did not appear under any of the cabins. “My name’s not on the list,” Scarlet said.
The girl nodded. “You must be new here then,” she said, “You won’t be part of a pack until tonight. I’m Fay, by the way.”
“Scarlet,” Scarlet introduced herself, “What do you mean about the whole pack thing?”
“Well,” Fay said, “There are four packs: Lupus, Shakaha, Vakasin, and Badwolf. They’re named after the four biggest packs in Ever After. Each pack is led by an Alpha, they usually come from the pack that they’re in charge of. Does that make sense?”
Scarlet wanted to say that none of this made sense. She did not understand werewolves, and she never would. It wasn’t as if she needed to know anything about this for her life. She was a princess, not a werewolf. Well, technically, she was both. Instead, she nodded.
“Anyways,” Fay continued, “if you’re new, you compete in a few activities tonight, and then all of the new kids join a pack. Then, the four packs spend the summer competing. The two most powerful packs are Lupus and Badwolf, so they’re really selective in who gets to be part of their pack. I was in Shakaha last year, and I had a lot of fun. We still didn’t win. Shakaha and Vakasin never win.”
Scarlet nodded. “Right,” she said, “So, what you’re telling me is that I won’t have a place to put my suitcase until tonight. And then I get last pick of bunk.”
“Correct,” Fay nodded, “It kind of sucks your first year. But I promise, it’s tons of fun. Especially the next year.”
“I’m not planning on there being a next year,” Scarlet muttered.
Fay, being a werewolf, heard her. “Why not?”
Scarlet sighed. “I didn’t want to come to this camp in the first place. I could be in Neverland right now.”
“I’m sure that Neverland is nowhere near as cool as here,” Fay said, “I’ll see you at the bonfire tonight.” The girl waved at Scarlet and skipped away.
Great, now what was Scarlet supposed to do? Was she supposed to wait for the bonfire and whatever competitions there were supposed to be? Scarlet set her duffle bag down and took a seat on the steps. She pulled out her phone and texted Mel, who had sent her a picture saying that she missed her. Scarlet replied with a sad face emoji.
She was in hell.
“Scarlet? Scarlet Charming?”
Scarlet stood up and plastered a smile on her face as she faced her cousin. Celina, the eldest Badwolf closest to Scarlet’s age, was standing in front of her, her arms crossed in front of her chest. Scarlet was a good half head taller than her cousin, but the girl still terrified her. Not that she’d let Celina see that. Celina took any sign of weakness as a chance to bully her.
“Celina,” Scarlet said, “It’s nice to see you.” They both knew that those words were false. Scarlet dreaded few things more than gatherings with her mother’s side of the family. Aunt Ramona was fine, but Celina, along with her siblings Lorelai, Keiran, and Blade, were horrible.
“I wish that I could say the same,” Celina said, “What are you doing here?”
Scarlet shrugged. “Oh, you know. My parents wanted me to learn more about werewolf culture.”
“Why?” Celina asked, “You’re not a werewolf.”
It took all of Scarlet’s willpower not to spit in Celina’s face. Why did she have to be so infuriating? She wasn’t even a full werewolf herself. “It was nice catching up,” Scarlet said. Quickly, she grabbed her duffle bag and walked away so that Celina couldn’t catch up to her.
Why did she have to be cousins with such a stupid, bigoted, narcissistic bitch? She wondered if her mother’s rule about punching mean werewolves would extend to her cousin. Probably not.
“Maybe if you punch her, then you'll be kicked out of this stupid camp forever,” Scarlet muttered to herself. It was starting to appear more appealing by the minute.
Her parents would be so disappointed.
Scarlet wandered towards the forest located just past the cabins. If she left now, maybe her parents wouldn’t notice. She was relatively smart. It was entirely possible that she would be able to convince them that she was at camp while she was really elsewhere...unless they decided to track her phone in which case she would be screwed. Dammit! Why did her parents have to be so smart?
Scarlet dropped her bag at the edge of the forest and took a seat on top of a pile of leaves. She had been in worse situations before. There was the that her mother had decided to take them camping and Scarlet had gotten lost for over a day, and all of the times that Brick had done something stupid that landed the two of them in trouble. Scarlet could get through this. She could survive the summer, but that did not mean that she would enjoy it.
“It would be a million times better if Celina weren’t here,” Scarlet muttered to herself. After all, Fey didn’t seem that bad, and if everyone else at the camp was as enthusiastic as the small girl, then it couldn’t be that bad.
She wished that she had Brick here. If both her and her brother were there then it would be better. Brick had a way of making everything fun.
“It’s our best chance at winning this year.” The sound of footsteps crunching through the forest underbrush pulled Scarlet out of her thoughts. Scarlet stood up as the owner of the voice came into her sight.
Two guys stood in front of her. Both of them were tall, with broad shoulders and chiseled features. The one who was speaking had blond hair much like her brother’s, and brown eyes. The other one had curly brown hair and bright green eyes that popped against his olive complexion. They were both extremely Hot. With a capital H .
“Can we help you?” the blond one asked as Scarlet realized that she had been staring. Scarlet blushed and shook her head.
“No,” she said, “I just thought that I was alone out here.”
“Right.” The blond one nodded and started to walk in the direction of camp.
“I’m Jack,” said the brown haired one, “and this is my cousin, Luca.” Luca turned around and stared acusitorilly at Jack.
“I’m Scarlet,” Scarlet said.
“That’s a nice name,” Jack said causing Scarlet to turn the same shade as her namesake.
“Well, it’s my name.” Wow, she sounded like an idiot. What was with her? Scarlet never got distracted by boys. She never blushed around them.
“Oh, save me,” Luca drawled.
“Are you new here?” asked Jack.
“Yeah.” Scarlet nodded. “It’s my first year.”
“You can drop your stuff off in the mess hall,” Jack said, “since you probably don’t want to carry it around until bonfire.”
“That’s a good idea,” Scarlet agreed, but made no move to leave. She didn’t exactly know where the mess hall was.
“Here’s an idea,” Luca said, drawing the attention of both Scarlet and Jack, “You can show her where the mess hall is, Jack.”
“I’d love to,” Jack said.
“Good,” said Luca, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go claim my bunk before all of the good ones are taken.” With that said, Luca stomped off in the direction of camp. Scarlet and Jack watched him leave.
“Like a pain in the ass?” Jack offered.
Scarlet smiled. “That wasn’t the way that I would say it.”
“It’s true.” Jack shrugged. “But he’s my best friend, and one hell of a strategist. So, I keep him around.” Scarlet didn’t know what to say, so she stayed silent as the two of them started walking towards camp. “So, where’re you from?” Jack asked.
“Book End,” Scarlet answered. It was close to the truth. Book End was the closest town to her family’s castle.
“I’m from Sherwood Forest,” Jack said.
“One of my cousin’s best friend is from there,” Scarlet said. Why did she say that? It was highly unlikely that Jack knew Duke Hood at all. “You probably don’t know him. I have no idea why I said that.”
“It’s okay.” Jack offered her a smile. “Do you mind if I ask who the werewolf in your family is?”
Scarlet shook her head. “It’s my mom,” she said, “She’s half wolf. You?”
“Mom and Dad,” he said, “They grew up in the same pack, so they were practically destined to be together.” They rounded the corner and came up to the building that Scarlet had previously recognized at the main hall. Apparently, she wasn’t that far off. . “This is the mess hall,” Jack said, “Breakfast is in here each morning at eight, and dinner's at six.”
“What about lunch?” Scarlet asked, studying the building. It wasn’t nearly as bad as she had imagined a mess hall at a werewolf camp would be.
“Lunch is whatever your pack decides to make,” Jack said, “If you like food then I recommend that you try to join Vakasin. Their alpha wants to be a chef and makes the best food in camp.”
Scarlet nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind. What pack are you in?”
“Lupus,” Jack said with a grin, “The best one. If you need any help feel free to stop by.”
“Thanks,” Scarlet said.
“I guess that I’ll see you later, then,” Jack said.
“Yeah.” Scarlet readjusted her back on her shoulder and walked into the mess hall.
There were about ten kids in the mess hall, all of them younger than Scarlet was. The youngest of them appeared to be around twelve while the oldest appeared to be around fifteen. There was no one even close to her age. Scarlet dropped her bag on one of the wooden tables and took a seat. She took out her phone to see if Mel had sent her anything.
“Scarlet!” a small voice exclaimed. Scarlet glanced up from her phone as her twelve year old cousin, Blade, took a seat next to her. “If it isn’t my favorite cousin.”
Scarlet smiled. Blade was mostly harmless by himself. The boy couldn’t tell his right from his left, but he was nowhere near as bad as Celina. “Brick is your favorite cousin.”
Blade shrugged. “Brick isn’t here right now,” he said, “So, you’re my favorite cousin.”
“No problem.” The twelve year old grinned.
The bonfire blazed in the middle of camp. It was tall, at least the height of the cabins that surrounded it if not taller. The newcomers stood on the front porch of the mess hall in a clustered group. None of them yet had a pack, and they all seemed to recognize that in one another. Maybe it was written in the werewolf DNA.
“‘Scuse me.” Scarlet tore her gaze away from the roaring bonfire to find a tall, blue haired boy around her age standing only a few feet away from her. He held up his phone. “You mind?” he asked, “You’re blocking the aux plug.”
“Sorry,” Scarlet apologized, moving out of the way so that the blue haired boy could reach the auxiliary cord plug located in the side of the mess hall. “Why would anyone place that there?” Scarlet mused out loud.
“You tell me,” the blue haired guy said.
“I wouldn’t know,” Scarlet said, “This is my first time here.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t you a little old for a first-timer?”
“Yes,” Scarlet answered, “But try telling my parents that. It’s impossible. I’m Scarlet, by the way.”
“Jake,” the blue haired boy said, “I’m the beta of Vakasin.”
“Yeah,” Jake said, “You know, the second in command.” Scarlet nodded like she actually understood what Jake had just said. Werewolf pack politics didn’t exactly make sense to her. Then again, she doubted that any of the kids at camp had spent their childhood memorizing the many branches of their family tree so that they knew who was in line for which throne. “I’m DJing after the pack choosing ceremony.”
“What exactly does the pack choosing ceremony entail?” Scarlet asked.
“It’s a race,” Jake said.
“Well they can’t exactly expect newbies to be great at hand-to-hand combat, can they?” Jake asked, “A race tests a wolf’s natural physic. You can’t fake speed.” Scarlet nodded. A race didn’t seem that bad. After all, she was the fastest girl on the Ever After High track team. “Oh,” Jake added, “And they’ll want you to transform.”
Scarlet gulped. “Transform?”
“Yeah,” Jake said, “You can tell a lot about a person by their wolf. You’ll be fine, I promise.”
“Thanks,” Scarlet muttered, her voice suddenly hoarse.
Never, in the seventeen years that Scarlet Charming had been alive, had she transformed into a wolf. All full werewolves transformed by the time that they were five, all half werewolves transformed by the time that they were ten, but quarter wolves? There weren’t many quarter wolves in the world. Scarlet supposed that there were some, but it wasn’t as if she knew who they were, or how to contact them.
The werewolf gene was dominant, meaning that every descendant of a werewolf had the speed, the smell, the wolf ears, and the anger that went along with being a wolf, but how many traits a person displayed varied. For instance, Brick and Scarlet both possessed the the wolf ears, the enhanced hearing, and the speed from the werewolf gene, but Scarlet was faster than Brick with a much shorter temper.
Long story short, Scarlet Charming was very much a werewolf, but she had never actually transformed into a wolf. She didn’t even know if she could.
“Campers!” The crowd quieted down as a dark skinned man with a bald head stepped in front of the newbies. “Welcome to Wild Rock Camp.” The crowd irrupted into cheers, shouts, and howls.
I am the wonderful and magnificent Wulfrun Shakaha. Y’all may have heard of me before.”
Beside her, Jakes snorted. “He’s never been anything other than the camp director,” he explained, “So he’s not exactly famous. It’s not like he’s a Badwolf or something.”
“Right.” Scarlet nodded.
“But you can call me Wulfrun. Now,,” Wulfrun said, turning to face the newbies, “This is the part of camp that we call the choosing ceremony. Each of you will be placed in a pack based on your abilities.” He turned to look at the campers. “Each pack must have at least one new addition.”
“What?!” someone in the crowd exclaimed.
Wolfrun glared in the direction of the voice. “It’s a new rule this year to discourage any of the shit that went on last year. Now, the rules of the choosing are simple. You must make one lap around the exterior of the cabins and transform. You start here, and you end here.”
“Good luck,” Jake whispered to Scarlet.
“The race starts in five.” Wulfrun held a hand and began counting down with his fingers. “Four.” Scarlet glanced down at her shoes. At least she was wearing tennis shoes and not boots or heels. “Three.” Scarlet placed one foot in front of another, readying herself. “Two.” The wolfblood was pumping through her veins. This competition had triggered her competitive side. She wanted to win. She was going to win. Beside her, many of the new campers were doing the same. “One.” Scarlet shot off like a scared rabbit.
Scarlet pulled towards the front of the group, which would have surprised her had she been thinking about anything other that the race. She was only a quarter werewolf yet she easily outran even the fastest of the group, pulling ahead of all of them so that there were several meters between her and the front of the group.
As they rounded the restroom, the group began to dissipate, the slowest falling behind while the faster campers pulled ahead ever more. Scarlet stayed ahead of all of them throughout it all. The wind running through her dark locks, brushing against her flushed cheeks, Scarlet let out a laugh. This was it. This was what Scarlet was made for.
Before she knew it, Scarlet was coming up on the mess hall. Scarlet slowed down just a fraction as she jogged up to the front porch. She came to a stop next to Wulfrun. “Have fun?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Scarlet said, trying to steady her breathing. She wanted to run, and run, and run until she could run no more. Instead, she stayed still while the rest of the group trickled in. Her eyes widening as Blade Badwolf came in last.
“Poor kid,” Jake muttered as Scarlet made her way back to her original spot in the group.
“I can’t imagine that Celina will be happy about this,” Scarlet said.
“I can’t imagine that Celina will let him in Badwolf,” Jake said, “That’s alright, though, I just texted Adrian to tell him to let him in Vakasin. Just because his sister’s a bitch doesn’t mean that the kid himself is.”
“That’s nice of you,” Scarlet said.
“I know.” Jake grinned.
“That appears to be everyone,” Wulfrun said, “Now, if the alphas would step forward so the we could begin the next part of the ceremony.” Scarlet watched as two girls and two boys stepped forward from the crowd.
“I’m Cassandra Shakaha,” said a tall, muscular, dark skinned girl with her hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, “Alpha of Shakaha.”
“Celina Badwolf,” said Scarlet’s cousin, “Alpha of Badwolf.”
“Adrian Vakasin,” said a guy of average height with spiky black hair, “Alpha of Vakasin.” Cheers erupted from what Scarlet assumed was the Vakasin pack. It was a while before they settled down. When they did, the last of the alphas stepped forward.
“Jack Lupus,” he said, “Alpha of Lupus.” As he said it, he met Scarlet’s eyes and smiled almost shyly.
“Alrighty,” Wulfrun said, and Scarlet tore her gaze away from Jack, “Blade Badwolf.”
“Are they going in reverse order?” Scarlet wondered aloud as her cousin stepped forward and transformed into a small black wolf.
“It’s alphabetical by last name,” Jake said.
“We’ll take him,” said Adrian Vakasin. Wulfrun turned his questioning gaze on the other three alphas. All three of them shook their heads.
“Welcome to Vakasin, Blade,” Wulfrun said. Scarlet could see the relief in Blade’s eyes as if he hadn’t thought that he would be picked by any pack. He walked over to a cheering group of Vakasin wolves. “Ansel Blue.” Scarlet watched as a boy of about fourteen years stepped forward and transformed into a grey wolf.
“We’ll take him,” said Cassandra Shakaha. Once again, Wulfrun looked at the other three alphas. Once again, three alphas shook their heads. “Welcome to Shakaha, Ansel.” Ansel walked over to join Cassandra’s group of wolves.
“What’s he doing?” Scarlet asked.
“He’s making sure that there aren’t any challengers,” Jake answered.
“And if there are?”
“Then the alphas have to sort it out amongst themselves.” Scarlet opened her mouth to ask how exactly the alphas sorted things out when Wulfrun called the next name.
Scarlet felt a hush fall over the crowd. Then she listened as they began to whisper. Scarlet Charming , they said, the daughter of Daring Charming and Cerise Hood . After all, everyone knew who Cerise Hood and Daring Charming were. It wasn’t often the a werewolf married into a royal line, especially one with both Hood and Badwolf blood in her veins.
Scarlet took a few tentative steps forward until she came to a stop next to Wulfrun. “Umm…” Scarlet said quietly, “I can’t...I can’t transform.” Wulfrun’s eyes narrowed at her and Scarlet felt her throat go dry. Why couldn’t her parents listen to her when she said that she wanted to go to Neverland? She wished that she was anywhere but here. She would rather be locked in a tower in Damsel-in-Distressing that standing in front of a pack of judgemental werewolves.
“You heard the girl,” Wulfrun said, “Anyone?”
Scarlet wanted to disappear into the shadows. She stared at the ground, refusing to meet the gaze of anyone. It may have been a sign of weakness, but Scarlet didn’t care. She just wanted to be in Neverland with Mel. Was that too much to ask?
“We’ll take her.” Scarlet glanced up to find her cousin’s piercing blue gaze on her. Oh, no. This was not happening to her. She was not going to be forced to spend the summer answering to Cecila. Scarlet would die before she let that happen to her.
“We’ll take her.” Scarlet’s head snapped in the direction of Jack’s voice. He was staring at her with a look in his eyes that Scarlet couldn’t name.
“Looks like we’ve got ourselves a standoff.” Scarlet could hear the grin in Wulfrun’s voice. He pulled a coin out of his pocket. “Celina, you get to call.”
“Heads,” Celina said as Wulfrun flicked the coin into the air. The coin spun and spun for what seemed like an eternity before landing in Wulfrun’s hand, his fingers closing around it. Scarlet held her breath as he slapped the coin onto his hand. Tails. Scarlet let out a sigh of relief. “Scarlet, welcome to Lupus.”
Scarlet glanced in the direction that Wulfrun gestured. She recognized Fey, who was standing there with a grin on her face, and Luca, who was studying her with a frown on his face and his arms crossed. With a glance at Jack, who was deep in thought, Scarlet walked over to the Lupus pack. She stood next to Fey.
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were a Charming?” Fey whispered.
“You didn’t tell me your last name,” Scarlet replied.
“Oh. It’s Silver.”
A girl who looked like an older version of Fey stepped forward from the back of the pack to join the two of them. “I’m Fynn,” the girl said, “beta of Lupus.” Scarlet nodded. Fynn’s calculating eyes glanced over Scarlet. She shifted under the weight of the other girl’s stare. “You sure can run,” Fynn finally said.
“Yeah, I can.”
“I suppose that’s due to the combination of wolf and Charming genes,” Fynn said, “Anyways, welcome to Lupus.”
“Thanks,” Scarlet said.
The Lupus cabin was located relatively close to the main hall, only a short walk away from the forest. Scarlet followed Fey into the cabin. The main room held a kitchen, a table with no chairs and a map of camp placed on top of it, and a few old couches.
“Guys sleep in that door to the left,” Fey said as the screen door slammed shut behind them. She walked to the right and opened another door. “This is the girls’ room.” Four bunk beds occupied the room, but only three beds were already claimed.
“This is my bed,” Fey said jumping up to the only claimed top bunk. She had hung up a boy band poster on the wall next to it. “That's Fey’s.” She pointed towards a very neat, almost military like bed. “And that's Tessa’s.” The other occupied bottom bunk had a stack of books next to it. “You can put your stuff wherever.”
Scarlet dropped her bag on one of the unclaimed bottom bunks. “Leave the unpacking for later,” Fey said, “We’ve got a bonfire to go to.” Scarlet left her bag on the bunk and went to join the others at the bonfire.
Jake had a strange taste in music. A mix of country and pop songs blared from the speakers. No one that Scarlet knew would have enjoyed dancing to both kinds of music, but apparently the rest of the camp weren't that picky about music. Even Celina was dancing.
Fey instantly joined in on the celebrations, grabbing a boy nearly identical to Jake and dragging him to the dance circle. Scarlet decided to stick to the edges of the bonfire. She watched, her eyes taking in every werewolf that turned circles around the bonfire.
“Are you planning on dancing or are you just going to stand here for the rest of the night?” Scarlet jumped at the sound of Jack’s voice.
She turned to face the other werewolf, who had sneaked up on her and was now standing beside her with his arms crossed. “Are you offering?” she asked.
Jack smiled. “I’m offering if you’re accepting.” He offered her his hand. Scarlet took it, and the two of them joined the crowd of hormonal teenage werewolves.