| Lia |
“Don’t ruin this, Lia,” Cassy warned me for the umpteenth time.
I rolled my eyes. “I know. Stop being so bossy.”
“I’m not being bossy. I just want you to realize how important this is for us. You nearly ruined it last night.” Cassy glared at the road, her clear green eyes slightly dilating, her hands paling due to her deathly grip on the stirring wheel.
“Calm your ass, okay? Last night was a close call. It will not happen again, I swear.” I matched her hard stare but hers instantly softened.
“What are you gonna do, Lia?” she said softly.
“About what?” I asked, my voice rising.
“Oh, you know. About finding your mate.” Cassy said nonchalantly, returning her focus to the road.
I shrugged and diverted my attention to the window. After leaving the inn where we stayed at, we followed the map that was drawn for us by Hazel, our mother’s close friend who became our sole guardian after our parents’ deaths. She made contact from someone inside the academy who could help us with our papers and the transition. That was a little disconcerting for me though as she said that that specific someone preferred to be anonymous for now and would just meet us in the academy.
We entered a narrow road with a huge sign that said PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING. A mile from that, we passed a checkpoint with four Lupus men guarding it. Cassy pressed her foot on the brake and rolled down her window.
“Forms,” one of the men demanded, his hand outstretched in front of him, his nose buried on his phone. I saw that his eyes were a bit puffy, making me wonder how long they stay on guard at the checkpoint area.
I grabbed our enrollment forms from my bag and passed it to Cassy who in turn gave it to the man.
He scanned the forms and upon seeing identical pictures, he peered at us and leaned over to study me, then Cassy. “Twins,” he muttered.
I fought the urge to snicker and roll my eyes. It’s as if it was his first time seeing twins in his life.
Bringing our forms with him, he went over to his friends who were inside the checkpoint cabin. They glanced at our direction. I heard one of them say, “Ilwani pests, let them go before they can do any voodoo magic on you.” It was a whisper, meant only for them to hear. But our Lupus blood was strong enough that our hearing was as acute as theirs.
Coming back to us, he handed our forms back and grunted. “Go,” he said, his voice neutral but his eyes clearly communicating disgust.
Racists. I hate them.
Cassy rolled her window back and doubled her speed, her irk evident with her clenched jaw.
I continued my perusal of our surroundings through the window. Wherever I looked, all I could see were trees. They soon blended together and last night’s event began playing back in my head. He had said it was his territory. I couldn’t believe I was negligent enough to trespass on a land owned by a pack. As always, my emotions hazed my mind and disabled my ability to use my senses properly.
Sighing, I turned to Cassy with a determined expression. “There is nothing to worry about. Finding the bastards who killed our parents is my top priority. Mate, romance, love, those are bullshit. Those things killed them,” I said through gritted teeth.
Cassy gave me a quick glance before answering, “Love is never wrong, Lia. You know it’s not the one that ended their lives.” She paused and focused on the sharp curve before continuing, “I just want you to be careful, that’s all. What if he wasn’t your mate? You could have died.”
It was a good thing that our new school appeared behind the mass of trees. I pretended to be completely fascinated so I won’t have to answer her anymore. I knew she was just concerned about my welfare as she always did. She was older than me by a minute and has assumed the role of the older sister since we were young.
Greeting us was the open parking space with rows and rows of luxury cars already parked. Further north, I could see a colossal dome-shaped building in black and silver monochrome, its whole exterior covered in glass and appeared like a shining half egg from afar. There were two buildings on our sides; both of them were white but my left side had green accents and on my right had yellow. It was easy to guess which race belonged to the buildings; green was the color of the Lupus banner and yellow was Ilwani’s.
A lot of Vulgari were still outside. I watched in utter amazement a flock of Lawin animatedly talking with each other; their wings folded on their backs and in different combination of colors. It was my first time seeing a Lawin in real life. I glanced around and the rest looked like ordinary humans, only that they’re not. A small pack of werewolves arrived in wolf form, their bags on their muzzles. They shifted when they neared the entrance and casually slung their bags over their shoulders.
After parking the car, Cassy got off before me, shutting the door behind her. I let out a breath before opening my side of the door, concentrating on surrounding my wolf with imaginary reins, concealing our Lupus side to appear like a full-blooded Ilwani.
Cassy walked ahead, already finding someone to talk to, working her usual charm and confidence. It’s one of her weapons, her ability to captivate people instantly. Unfortunately, I have trust issues so I wait for others to come to me and then I spend weeks debating whether they’re worthy or not.
I looked around. It seemed like this was where the students usually gather before the classes start. Taking note of their happy and laughing faces, I couldn’t help the bitterness that crept into my heart like a knife blade stabbing me multiple times.
Privileged lots, all of you.
I tried my best to stop my sneer from forming.
I had the sense of being watched so I roamed my eyes around and landed on a pair of sky blue eyes, piercing and intense.
My mate. He was approaching me and was coming from the row of expensive cars. For me to own one of those, I’d have to sell my soul to the devil.
But why? He didn’t know what I looked like so it’s impossible for him to know that I was his mate.
The sunlight augmented my view of his appearance; his symmetrical features highlighted his cheekbones and clearly defined his chiseled jaw. To say he’s handsome was an understatement. He was ravishing. He had long curly chocolate locks that reached the top of his chest. Too bad long haired boys were not my type. Tsk. Who was I fooling? He’s my mate. He could be bald and monstrous and I would still find him appealing. It was the stupid mate pull. But that’s where I’m going to draw the line, to only allow myself to have a silly attraction to him.
Because honestly, I didn’t quite agree with Luna playing Cupid. It’s hocus-pocus, a sham. I strongly believed in the freedom of choice and if my mate turned out to be an evil bastard, then I won’t accept him.
It took me a moment to realize that we were staring at each other and he was now within reach. My stomach started to somersault.
Ah, I hate this pull, I hate everything that I couldn’t seem to control.
“Hi.” Hearing his voice again made me slightly weak in the knees. It was a smooth baritone, low and husky, someone who would be excellent at whispering sweet nothings when cuddling at night. And that was just a simple ‘hi’. Oh, Goddess.
He approached me with a tentative lop-sided smile. But his smile immediately vanished and was replaced by disappointment, like I’ve failed him somehow.
Good. With my wolf in shackles, he won’t detect me as one of theirs, and most importantly, he wouldn’t be able to tell that I’m his mate.
“Welcome to Mesina,” he stopped way too close in front of me, his hands inside the pockets of his jeans.
He stood tall and confident, his bearing signified someone with a higher status in life.
Pfft. I bet he’s just one of those spoiled kids whose narcissism is taller than Burj Khalifa.
“Do you own this place?” I asked him, arching one of my eyebrows.
“What? No, I don’t.” I saw his discomfort. Now that he realized for himself that I was not his mate, he seemed to be eager to get away.
“Then why are you welcoming me?” I gave him a don’t fuck with me expression.
He was obviously taken aback but he caught himself immediately. “Why not?” He smirked.
I examined him from head to toe. Everything he was wearing looked costly. It must have been good to have everything on a silver platter, not having to work a single day in your life because daddy’s gonna provide everything.
I stepped closer to him, completely invading his personal space. I raised my chin and stared into his eyes. “Well thank you then for your warm welcome.”
His eyes widened a bit. “Your eyes are green,” he stated. My heart lurched for a second, afraid that he might notice the similarity of my wolf’s eyes and mine.
“Yes, they are. Do you like them?” I fluttered my lashes, flirting and teasing him, hoping that he won’t get past my cover.
His expression darkened, his eyes turning a darker shade of blue. I could see that I was eliciting something from him. His wolf may not recognize me as his mate but his body was unconsciously reacting to mine.
A gorgeous African-American guy came over beside him. “Your─”
My mate raised his hand to stop his friend from talking. He stared darkly at me before turning on his heels, walking away from me.
“I guess not!” I called out, chuckling. “See ya!” I added. I watched him saunter away for a while, my eyes feasting on his bottom. They were top notch if I must say.
I swung my jacket to my back, walked backward and then finally whirling around to face our new school.
I sighed in relief when Cassy appeared at my side. When we’re finally safe from the eyes of others, I let out a breath that I didn’t know I was holding, my shoulders instantly sagging.
“What was that?” Cassy asked me, wide-eyed.
“I know right?” I squeaked in a tiny voice.
Cassy snorted. “You’re crazy.” She shook her head.
I grinned. “Really? Eighteen years together and you still haven’t realized?”