“They told you,” June said without missing a beat. She stuffed her hands into the pocket of her jeans so that neither Dani nor Eddy would see them shake.
Dani’s eyes sparked, the gold intensifying as she spoke, her voice grave, “You haven’t been the only one to come through here, June.”
“Aunt Lenore,” She muttered, asking, “Was she the one?”
“Don’t be stupid,” Dani spoke, rolling her eyes, “All that woman could do was cry as if I was already dead. Think, June, use that big brain of yours.”
In her head, June ran over the procedure of someone changing. The answer came to her easily. Before a hybrid cold fully changed, they were questioned by the council, the entire council. It was the last public record of the person changing, anything they said was documented.
“The council told you,” June spoke, and it was confirmed a second later when Dani nodded. She forced herself to ask, “What did you tell them?”
“That I was bitten on a supply run,” Dani replied, shrugging, “Not like it matters anymore. As soon as you exposed me I lost all credibility in their eyes.”
June winced but she wasn’t going to apologize for doing her duty to the complex. She took a step towards the bars, lowering her voice since she knew Eddy was listening, “Is that true?”
June knew what Dani did on the weekends. Somehow, someway, she always managed to get out of the complex without going through the front gate. June had found out when she was ten and had been sleeping over at Alistair’s. She had gone into Dani’s room after a nightmare only to see her cousin climbing in through the window. Dani pretended nothing happened but June wouldn’t relent. She grilled her cousin until Dani told her that she had a way out no one else knew about. June had kept her secret under the pretense that Dani would tell her where the spot was but she never did.
“Mostly,” Dani quipped, her lips curving into a smile, “I was out on a supply run but not for the complex and that’s when I saw him.”
Confused, June pressed on, “Who? What are you getting at, Dani?”
Dani’s eyes went to Eddy, and she sighed before saying, “I found him, June. I found my soulmate.”
“I-I’m sorry what?”
“I said I found my soulmate,” Dani repeated, and then asked, “Did you not pay attention when you were learning about beasts? Or, hell, the goddess they worship?”
June had to rack her brain, drudging up information she had long forgotten. It came to her, slowly, she said, “The have soulmates, or rather mates. The lore says that their goddess splits a soul and puts in two bodies. Together-“
“They make one whole,” Dani finished, “Like I said, I was outside, and I saw him. It was like my world had always been tilted and the sight of him made everything right again…it’s indescribable, really.”
“That’s impossible,” June countered, “You must have been drunk or high or something because humans don’t have mates, Dani. It’s not possible. It’s not.”
“If it was would I have asked him to give me the bite?” Dani asked and ignored June’s shock, nodding, “Yes, I asked for it and then I came back to the complex. I was going to leave that day you ripped my bandage off.”
“But you’re human,” June whispered, her stomach rolling, “It doesn’t make sense.”
“C’ mon, I expected you of all people to be open-minded,” Dani scowled, “The are no rules that bind the supernatural, cousin. They are beyond our basic way of life, and soon, you will realize what I have.”
Something about Dani’s words had goosebumps rising on June’s skin. There was a shift in the air like a storm was on the horizon. Without thinking, June’s hands latched onto the bars, “What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means-“ Dani started but didn’t get to finish as the lights above went from white to red. Her face was grim as she said, “We’re out of time.”
“Dani, tell me!” June shouted, kicking the bars with her feet. She felt like she was the one trapped in the cell.
Before her cousin could even open her mouth, a hand gripped the June’s upper arm and pulled her away. Eddy stepped between June and the cell containing Dani, saying gruffly, “Visitation is now over.”
She tried to move around him but the grip on her arm tightened. Seething, June rasped, “Let go.”
“No,” Eddy snapped back and started dragging her down the hall. Under his breath, he said, “You have to calm down. If you start making trouble, I’ll have no choice but to report you. Think about your dad, June.”
The words were enough to end her struggling. Eddy dropped his hand and wordlessly, June followed him out of the corridor. Before they made it to the exit, the silence was broken by a long, mournful wail that sounded a lot like a wolf howling.
The sound stayed with June all the way until she was out of the asylum. Now alone, her head pounded as she thought over what Dani had said. Her cousin had wanted to change into a beast. June knew her cousin was lonely. Dani had few friends and lived alone, plus she and Alistair didn’t get along, June never realized it was making her delusional. She wished she had noticed the signs sooner.
June tried to not think of the fact that she hadn’t even told Dani what she wanted to while driving away from the asylum. The weight on her shoulders felt heavier and it was all she could focus on. She didn’t even realize she had driven all the way to Jace’s apartment complex until she was pulling in. However, instead of backing out, June parked in an empty space and shut the car off before getting out.
Her dad could wait for her all night if he wanted to because right now, she needed a distraction. Without overthinking it, she walked all the way up the stairs and to Jace’s door before she remembered he was on patrol. Still, instead of turning around and leaving, she reached under Jace’s matt and grabbed the spare key like she had many times.
Inside, June made herself comfortable on the couch knowing Jace had just left for his shift. She would be lucky if he was back between midnight and two in the morning. Patrol was one of the few jobs in which the hours were wonky.
With that in mind, June slipped off her shoes and pulled her legs up on the couch. She turned the television on with the remote but all it did was drowned out the over encompassing silence. There was nothing on that could keep her mind off Dani.
It was almost twelve when June started to doze off. She could still feel the dull fire in her veins burning through her system as the injection took root, making her tired. However, just as her eyes started to close, she heard the front door open but didn’t bother looking up. A second later, she felt the couch dip and was being pulled into a warm chest.
“You smell like the woods,” June commented, snuggling into Jace’s chest.
“And you, my dear, smell like wolfsbane.”
June’s eyes snapped open and she sat up. Bringing her sleeve to her elbow, she took a whiff, making her nose wrinkle. Turning her attention to Jace, she admitted, “I saw Dani.”
“I know,” Jace said, sounding off, “I spent every day in the asylum until they brought my father to the tunnels. I reeked of wolfsbane for months afterward.”
“Are you mad?” June asked him, watching his face for any changes in body language. She wouldn’t be able to handle Jace being upset with her, especially right now. He was the only person keeping her sane at the moment.
“No, I’m not mad,” Jace responded, “But I wish you would have told me. The asylum isn’t safe. I would have found a way to go with you.”
June shook her head, “I had to go alone and besides, I can handle myself.”
Jace’s rolled his eyes and a smile turned his lip upright, bringing back the man June loved. It felt like a decade since she saw the Jace that had bee with her back at the sawmill.
“I know you can,” He said, and held out his arms, “Come back to me. I’ve missed you.”
June didn’t have to be told twice. She moved back into his arms, her body heating up where they touched. Silence filled the room and underneath her, she felt his breathing slow down but before he could fall asleep, she asked, “Jace, was your dad…did he say anything, you know, weird before he changed?”
“If you mean weird like constantly apologizing, then yeah,” Jace answered groggily, “All he could say was he was sorry he hadn’t been more careful and how much he loved me. Shit like that.”
June was quite for a minute before speaking again, “Dani wasn’t sorry she was bitten, Jace. In fact, she wanted it. She told me.”
She waited for him to respond but he never did. Looking up, June sighed. Jace’s head was leaning on the back of the couch and his mouth was wide open, eyes shut.
Still, June whispered, “She wasn’t scared of the change because she wants to be a monster.”