Fifteen minutes later, I pull up in front of a white house with blue shutters. There’s a silver car in the driveway as well as two sedans from the pack fleet. “Mom is here!” She sounds relieved and tries to open the door. “You stay in the car with Sam and Jasper for a minute, Zara.” I lock the doors before she can open it. “I need to have a word with your mom first.” I look in the rearview and watch Sam take a swig from a bottle of rum he found in the back seat and try to hand it to her. She shakes her head sadly at him and looks out the window at her house. I step out of the SUV and walk up to the house. I’ve never met a sigma who still has a family. How did they not know they were putting her in danger when they sent her to the Mating Gathering tonight? There are a couple of lights on even though it is after two-thirty a.m. I ring the doorbell and stand back. After a minute, a woman peeks her head through the skinny window beside the door, then cracks the door open an inch.
I pull into an empty shopping center parking lot so I can concentrate. “Ahh, I hate when he gets like this.” Jasper says into the back seat. “Give him a minute, Zara. He’ll have something brilliant to say soon.” I drum my fingers on the steering wheel, then get out of the car. I open the back door. “Zara, can I talk to you outside for a moment?” “Here?” She asks, looking around the empty parking lot. “What? Now you don’t trust me?” I put my hands on my hips. She tries to get out, but it’s a far drop to the ground for how little she is. Especially since she isn’t wearing shoes. “C-can you help me… Please?” “I could just put you in my pocket.” I smirk at her, holding out my hand. Sam, who usually laughs at my dumb jokes, is suspiciously quiet behind her. I look over and see him passed out, hugging the empty liquor bottle like a baby. Jasper is scrolling through his phone, pretending to ignore us. Zara slowly slips her hand into mine and lets me help her out of the car. “You don
When I get back into the thick trees, Zara is curled up in a ball, crying silently and rocking herself back and forth with her arms over her head. Rocky flashes an image of me giving her a comforting hug. I consider it for a moment, then I sigh heavily and roll my eyes when I realize he is trying to manipulate me just as much as she is. “No, Rocky. Just be happy I’m cutting this one loose and not in for processing.” I snarl at him. “Get up, Zara." I reach my hand out to her. “I want to teach you something before I leave.” At first she doesn’t answer, she just stops rocking and holds still in her crouched position, just like they all do. I stand patiently with my hand outstretched for at least ten minutes before she lifts her head up and looks at me with fat tears rolling down her cheeks. “Wh-what?” “I’m going to teach you how to shift.” I lean forward so she’ll take my hand to stand up. “You need to shift before the sun comes up so your wolf can get her full strength. Otherwise, y
I make the drive out to my parents’ place in the late afternoon. We have over two hundred acres of land where their house and both of my brothers’ houses are. The sigma processing facility and research lab are also there, hidden deep in the woods, away from prying eyes.“Mom? Dad? I’m home!” I look around, hoping Dad isn’t actually in the house. He hates when we yell inside. The smell of food is coming from the kitchen, leading me in that direction.“How’s my baby boy?” Mom gives me a kiss on the cheek. “Dad’s out back with your brothers. I hope you’re hungry.”“Do you need help, Mom?” I ask, looking around the kitchen.“Just set the table for me. Always such a sweet boy.” She coos at me with sparkling gray eyes. Her dark brown hair is pulled back into a messy ponytail.As usual, Mom has gone completely overboard with cooking. She insists we eat dinner as a family once a month, whether or not we want to. She gets excited when all of us are under the same roof. One big happy family. We
Zara’s POV“We just need to survive for a month. Hopefully, there is space in the dorms, Lavender. When I go back to town, I’ll stop by the housing office on campus and find out.” I look around at the small pond of water Lavender found in the forest. “I have enough money in my savings to pay for a room since I won’t be moving with Liam, Sylvie, and Mark, but I still need to work at the diner otherwise I won’t have money for food once school starts.”“I think we can manage that.” She says with a sigh. She lets the duffle bag slide down her neck and lays down on the dewy morning grass, rolling around to cool herself down. “How about we shift for a while? I could use a break.”“Okay, how does it work? Like, the opposite of how I shifted into wolf form?” I ask. Keller only explained shifting into wolf form, not back into a human.“Sort of like that, yeah. Just imagine you are stepping forward into your own skin and I’ll fall back the way you did.” Her instructions sound like nonsense, but
Keller’s POVTwo days after I watched Lavender bolt into the forest, Jasper and I start vacation out with a bang. Specifically on his parents' private jet, with the ‘stewardesses’ he hired for the trip. As soon as we land, we drop our bags off at his parents' beach front condo in South Beach and head to the bars.We spend our days on the beach and our nights at the bars, with more alcohol and women than one werewolf should have in a lifetime, let alone three weeks.I didn’t realize how much I needed to get away from work until I’m relaxing on the beach in Miami for a couple weeks. The heat of the sun makes all the images of scrawny, strung out girls melt away from my mind like bad dreams. The hopeless words and empty eyes fade from my memory more with every passing day. Even the crazy series of events from the night I met my mate are no longer consuming my thoughts. I’m able to convince Rocky that Lavender would take care of Zara until she finds a friend to stay with, and we don’t need
“Hi Keller, where have you been, stranger?” Lucy gives me a warm smile when I walk into the diner.“Just took a little vacation.” I reply as she leads me to my usual booth.“Oh, well, that’s nice. What can I get ya? Need a menu?” She hands me the plastic menu and stands next to the booth with a notepad and pen in her hands.“I’ll have my usual, please.” I pretend to look at the menu. “Oh, hey Lucy?”She raises her eyebrows but doesn’t look at me while she writes my order. “Yes, Keller?”“I was wondering how that girl is doing. The one that came in looking like a wreck the last time I was here.” I try to sound as innocent as possible.“Zara?” She tilts her head to the side.“Yeah, I think that was her name.” I lie through my teeth.“Oh, she’s well… she still works here. Tough getting her to stick to a consistent schedule though.” She scrunches her nose up at the notion.“I see. But she’s working. That’s good.” I raise my eyebrows with a smile. “So she, uh, found someone to stay with?”“
The next couple of weeks of work go really smoothly. Schmoozing execs in boardrooms and speaking to high school students about the dangers of drugs is a refreshing change from picking up junkie sigmas off the streets. If this is what it’s like to be in Dad’s shoes, I could get used to it. On Thursday, I’m set to speak to a student group at the university about the dangers of drug addiction and how to help their friends. I laugh, thinking about the bags of ketamine, cocaine, and weed in my kitchen drawers and cabinets. Who's supposed to help me? Which reminds me to call Jasper before I’m set to speak so we can catch up. “So you’re taking over for your old man?” Jasper takes a bite of his sandwich and looks at me, confused. “Just for a month or so, then back out on the streets,” I sip my coffee, “It’s kind of his way of testing me, I think. See if I’m up for it when he is ready to retire. You know, my brothers could never be the face of t