Mage's Fire

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Seven: Riley

“Ms. Black! Ms. Belmont! I assume that you’re at least learning something in this class, correct?”

I smiled and gave a double thumbs up. “Absolutely, Mr. Meyers!” I chirped.

He sighed, running his fingers through his hair. He muttered something to himself, then turned back to the chalkboard and continued with the lesson. In truth, we were learning. The past seven months, Nadia and I had perfected the art of multitasking between our schoolwork and our war with the Wolf Valley Pack.

I took a moment to stare at Mr. Meyers, a smile creeping onto my face. Back when Dominic terrorized our small town, Mr. Meyers had been one of his victims. Thankfully, he hadn’t been bitten, and he was a tough old bastard. He had pushed through, allowed his injuries to heal, and was now almost better. He walked with a limp, and sometimes he needed to carry a cane with him, but for the most part, he seemed all right.

I frowned as I thought back to that night. I had killed Dominic myself, ripped his throat out with my fangs. I remembered how the blood ran over my tongue and down my throat. I wasn’t freaked out that I had killed someone, not in the slightest. However, I was worried that I wasn’t freaked out. Did that make me an evil person?

“Riley?” Nadia whispered. “You still here?”

I jerked and shook my head, chasing away those thoughts. “Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, I’m still here. Sorry, I got distracted.”

She nodded, a smile on her face. “That’s okay,” she said. She cleared her throat and asked, “Well? What do you think?”

I tilted my head to the side, thinking for a moment. She had just told me how she found out that morning that she was a mage, and that her powers were suppressed because of a spell her grandmother put on her. After a few moments, I said, “I’m not that surprised, honestly.”

She frowned. “Why not?” she asked.

I shrugged. “Well, in the past few months, strange things have been happening with you. I mean, lights flickering? Abrupt weather changes that weren’t supposed to happen? I get that Idaho is famed for having bipolar weather, but Wolf Valley is usually pretty stable.”

I frowned. “Besides,” I added, “whenever you’re angry or upset, I can feel some kind of… energy coming from you. I probably only sense it because I’m a werewolf, but still.”

Nadia leaned back in her seat, her shoulders sagging. “Huh,” she said.

I nodded. “Huh, indeed,” I said. I glanced at her from the corner of my eye and said, “So, the fact you’re a mage doesn’t make you immune to the bite?”

She shook her head. “No,” she said. “Not according to Gramma, anyway.”

I sighed. “So how did you survive it?” I wondered out loud. “Everyone, and I mean everyone, says that it turns or kills you.”

She could only shake her head again. “I still have no idea,” she said.

The first half of the day passed by slowly. It was boring, and I couldn’t believe it, but I kind of missed Drew. Ever since she left the Wolf Valley Pack with Eddie and became one of my betas, she had regained some sense of her old self. Before she was bitten, she was the queen bee of our class. She was what every girl strived to become, but then her flame was diminished when she was turned and then forced to join Donovan’s pack. She was still the queen bee, but even I could tell something seemed a little… off.

Turns out, it was the Campbell twins, Simon and Sierra, as well as the only other senior werewolf, Ethan Douglas. Because she and Eddie were omegas, they were both treated like shit. That had to be enough to bring anyone down.

Now, they didn’t have to worry about that anymore. Drew had mostly returned to her old, bubbly, queen bee self. Now, though, she seemed older, more mature. She didn’t worry over small, petty things anymore like who did or didn’t have the newest, chic Prada leather boots or whatever. She was outspoken again, and fearless in achieving her goals.

Eddie, I learned early on, was the quiet type. He wasn’t so silent that he only gave occasional one-word responses, but he wasn’t the talkative type, either. He could hold conversations and give deep, thoughtful answers, but that was about it.

When Drew stepped through the doors to the cafeteria, Eddie and I both couldn’t hold back from whooping and cheering. She smiled as she came over, flipping her strawberry blonde hair over one shoulder. Nadia rolled her eyes, turning back to her lunch and picking through her salad. Over at the nearby table, the twins were giving us harsh looks. Ethan was still eating his food, not even bothering to look in our direction.

“How was Michigan?” I asked when Drew joined us.

She sat down on Nadia’s right side, across from Eddie. She gave us wide smiles and said, “It was great! I mean, our return flight was delayed a day, which is why I’m late. Oh, well. Oh!” She slammed both hands on the table, her jade green and gold eyes glowing softly as she said, “I got to run with another pack there!”

I frowned. “I thought we weren’t allowed to run with other packs?” I asked.

She shrugged. “For the most part, yeah,” she said. “But apparently, there are some packs that don’t mind if a visiting wolf runs with them. You should have seen it, guys. It was great!”

I smiled. “I’m glad you had a good time,” I said.

She smiled back. “Thanks,” she said. As she pulled her lunch out of her bag, she said, “So, what did you need to tell us that was so important you couldn’t discuss it over the phone?”

Eddie turned in his seat to face me, his expression intrigued. “Yes,” he said. “What is it? It must be important if you wanted to wait for the whole pack to be together.”

I nodded. “Yeah, so, um…” I cleared my throat. After taking a moment to collect my thoughts, I said, “So, it turns out we have our own guardian angels.”

Drew frowned. “What do you mean?”

Nadia and I shared a glance. Then, I turned to Eddie and Drew and started telling them about the night I met the Guardians. When I mentioned the fact that the twins had trespassed and attacked me, my betas whirled around in their seats to snarl at them. Simon just rolled his eyes and turned back to his food, while Sierra smirked and wiggled her fingers in our direction. She glanced over at Nadia, smirked, and then turned back to her food as well.

When I finally got their attention back on me, I continued by telling them about the Guardians and their arrival. “You wouldn’t believe it!” I said. “These guys in wolf form… they’re huge. Like, bigger than Dominic. They’re easily the size of a small horse.”

At that, Drew’s and Eddie’s eyes grew wide. We weren’t small either, and because I was alpha, I was bigger than they were. Nadia had measured us frequently throughout the past few months, and every full moon she told me that I had grown yet again. When we asked Jack about it, he had said that it was common for alphas to grow larger than the other members of their pack.

When I finished telling them everything, they were silent for a while. Drew whistled a moment later and said, “Damn. That’s, uh… that’s intense.”

I nodded. “Kai said that he’d see me again, but I don’t know when or where.” I glanced over at Simon and Sierra’s table and said, “Until he shows himself again, we need to keep a low profile. I don’t want you guys starting anything with the Wolf Valley Pack.” At that, I gave Drew a pointed stare.

She threw her hands up in the air, still chewing on her food. “What are you looking at me for?” she mumbled around her food.

“You know why,” I said. After I killed Dominic, and Donovan declared open war, Drew had been going through every length possible to antagonize the senior werewolves, especially Sierra. It started with small shoulder bumps in the hallway, which then escalated into full-blown fights in the halls, and in the woods. We constantly patrolled our borders, but we never crossed over into the other pack’s territory. The twins, especially Sierra, trespassed often. She usually stayed on the outskirts, but with her appearance at my house the other day… that was going too far.

I pointed a finger at Drew and said, “Behave yourself. Kai said that our constant fighting is drawing attention, and not just the locals’.”

She frowned in confusion. I was about to explain when Eddie cut in with, “She means hunters, D. And not the supernatural enforcement squad, either.”

Drew’s eyes widened and her mouth fell open in an O. She lowered her head in submission and said, “All right. I won’t start anything for now.” Then she raised her head and, eyes glowing, said, “But if that bitch starts anything with me, I’m not holding back.”

I nodded. “Fair enough,” I said. I sighed and looked over at Nadia. “Do you want me to be there with you later today?”

She shook her head. “No, that’s fine,” she said. “Gramma said it’s just going to be some exercises. You know, basic things to help me get in touch with my magic.”

Drew, who had been taking a sip of her Gatorade, coughed and spluttered at the word “magic.” She continued to cough and gasp for breath for a moment before she choked out, “I’m sorry, what? Magic?”

I raised my hands in surrender. “This is for Nadia to tell,” I said.

Nadia laughed. “It’s fine, Riley,” she said. She glanced over at Drew and Eddie and said, “So, long story short, I’m a mage.”

Drew blinked. “What the hell is a mage?” she asked. Nadia and I laughed, then she set off into telling her own tale of spring break. When she finished, Drew blinked several times and said, “Seriously? What next? Jack’s gonna come back and come out to us as a freaking guru?” She glanced around the table then, noticing the lack of the fifth member of our group. “Where is Jack, anyway?”

“Um, still down in New Orleans, I believe,” Nadia said. “He’s on some voodoo hunt with his sister. Thank God.”

I laughed. Jadyn Bryan, Jack’s older sister, had also been one of Dominic’s victims. Like Mr. Meyers, she hadn’t been bitten either, but she was gravely injured. She had spent the past five months on what her parent’s called “hunter arrest.” Basically, she wasn’t allowed to go on hunts. Turns out, she had to go out and kill something every once in a while, or she’d be cranky and pissy twenty ways from Sunday. It made going over to Jack’s house for martial arts lessons somewhat difficult, but only if she was there. The fact that she was hunting again set us all at ease.

Just then, the bell rang. Drew groaned and muttered, “I haven’t even finished my food yet.” Just like the rest of us, though, she gathered her things and stood up. She grinned at us and said, “I’ll see you guys later. Rye, Eddie, we running tonight?”

I grinned and nodded. “Absolutely.” Wolves are pack animals, and thrived best when they were with the rest of the pack. Werewolves were the same way. We weren’t a large one; in fact, we barely had enough members to be a pack. But, we were bonded together, and even though we hadn’t been whole for only a week, I was desperate to run through the woods with my pack.

“Sweet,” Drew chirped. She turned and, after flipping her hair over her shoulder again, she strode away and disappeared into the crowd of students.

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