Hood

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12

I nearly tripped over a root, catching myself before I fell. “Philly, wait up!” I yelled at the man ahead of me.

He looked back and chuckled. “You’re so slow.”

I finally caught up to him and grabbed onto his arm. “You are ridiculous.”

He turned to me, causing me to spin and lose my balance. I fell onto my butt and groaned.

He quickly grabbed me, helping me up. “I didn’t mean to do that. I’m so sorry.”

I rubbed my butt and shook my head. “I’m going to hate you forever. The friendship is over now.” I turned the other way, smiling a bit.

“Wait, no, Shani, please,” he begged.

I turned to him and smiled more. “Yes?”

He saw my smile. “You... You were joking.”

“Of course. What kind of girl would I be if I ended our friendship over a clumsy mistake? There will be plenty more to come. I promise you that. You will have to see.” I smirked.

He scratched the back of his head and laughed a bit. “Well, uh, what are we doing again?”

I crossed my arms and tapped my foot. He was so forgetful. “We’re going to my cabin. You were going to tell me more about yourself.”

“Oh, right.”

We finished our journey back to my cabin. I walked inside, stopping upon the sight of a half-naked girl walking around the kitchen. “Philly, cover your eyes.”

He did as I told him. The girl looked at us. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know anyone else lived here.”

I clenched my jaw. He was serious. My brother...

I made my way to his room and barged in, covering my eyes. “Are you serious? Put some damn pants on, you pig.” I uncovered my eyes when he pulled some bottoms up to cover his junk.

“What’s wrong?”

I shook my head. “What’s wrong? There’s a half-naked woman walking around our cabin. Oh, sorry, your cabin. She didn’t know you had a sister or a roommate. How am I supposed to feel?”

“Shani, I-”

I punched the wall, hurting my knuckles. “You promised! You promised you would stop focusing so much on these women for a while. Do your promises to your twin mean nothing to you?” I rubbed the bridge of my nose. “Do I mean nothing to you?”

“You’re with Phillip right now. Why does it matter if I have a girl over?”

“You’ve always put boobs before your twin. Always. I know that she has a vagina you can put your dick in and whatever it is you like to do but I’d like to at least know that your promises to me mean something to you. I don’t care anymore, Jason. Go screw every walking vagina you can. I’ll forget I was ever related to you.” I left his room, slamming the door.

I walked into the living room where the half-naked girl sat next to Phillip. She looked at me. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know he had a sister.”

“He doesn’t. Not anymore.”

Phillip looked at me. “What’s wrong?”

“Let’s go anywhere by here. Please.”

Phillip nodded and stood up. “Nice to meet you, Sally.”

She smiled and went back to my brother’s room. I took Phillip into the woods and I just sat wherever I pleased. “He did it again. Every time something happens, he puts other women before me.”

Phillip sat next to me. “What do you mean?”

“He’s in it for the self-gratification. I don’t fill that for him. I’m his stupid sister. He won’t believe us about werewolves. He didn’t know when I was questioned by the police. He didn’t know when I killed someone. He is more worried about his next orgasm than he is about how I’m surviving this town.” I hugged my knees, putting my head against his shoulder.

“I’m really sorry.” Phillip didn’t make any attempt to move me from his shoulder.

I sniffled, wiping some tears. “I wanted to finally have a brother. I want us to have a really good relationship but he doesn’t want the same. I didn’t get to have parents. They died when I was young. I guess you can’t always assume things about people because even Jewish families get split up like so. I wanted some kind of family. Is that too much to ask for?”

Phillip seemed a bit surprised by the crying. He still made no attempt to make me get off his shoulder. “I wish I could really help you.”

I looked at him, shaking my head in a weird motion. “It’s not your job to fix my problems. My brother is an ass. He doesn’t care.”

“But it’s my job as your mate to help you feel better.” He never missed an opportunity to call us mates even if it was a one-sided deal.

I sighed, looked back at the dirt. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Tell me about your life, including the werewolf heritage. I want to know you.”

Phillip looked at the trees surrounding us both. “Well, about my life. That’s easy enough.” He chuckled.

I waited for him to go on.

“The story about my parents is true. The reason it hit my mom so much harder when dad died was due to the fact that they were bonded. She felt the pain when his body was crushed in the car. I remember her waking up from her nap screaming. She cried and told me we needed to go find dad because something was wrong. We found him. She followed his scent and we found him in a pile of wreckage. He died on impact. Mom broke at that point.”

I wiped my eyes. I could picture the scene in my head. I could only imagine the pain his mother felt when her fear was confirmed and her husband was dead.

“I was able to help her grieve. But enough about the sad memories. Let’s look back at the good stuff.” He looked at me and smiled. “I have those, too.”

I smiled a bit. “I hope so.”

He looked at his hands. “My parents told me how excited they got when I first turned. I don’t remember it because it happened when I was a baby but they told me the story. Mom was doing laundry and she had an eye on me in my crib but she remembered hearing little whines and growls. She followed the sounds to see a pup in the crib instead of her son. She called dad over and dad was proud. I was constantly switching back and forth uncontrollably until I was about five or six. That was when I finally learned how to control my transformation.”

“That sounds like such a cute story.”

He smiled and looked at me again. “I’m glad. I have more. I may not have been the eye candy of my school but I definitely had my good moments.”

“Sally has a nice body, doesn’t she?” I asked.

Phillip was caught off guard by my question. “Well, she does.”

My eyebrows shot up. “It’s no wonder you didn’t get girls. You actually just told me she has a nice body.”

“Am I not supposed to say that? Do you want me to lie?”

“It’s not about lying. You don’t have to lie. You can say something like, my eyes are only on you. But now your male hormones are probably going off because you saw some plump breasts today. It’s not enough that my brother puts her before his promise to me but now the man who claims to be mated to me thinks she’s got a nice body, too. I get it. She has a nice waistline. She has curves. She looks great. Unless I’m taking off my shirt, no man will put me before boobs.” I crossed my arms.

He frowned. “That’s not true.”

“It is, Philly.” I sat up, looking at him. “You want her, don’t you? If everyone in this town is a werewolf and you know you have mates, how can any of you be attracted to other wolves?”

“Same way a human can believe in soulmates but date the wrong people. Maybe they want to have fun. Maybe they want to experience. Maybe they just want to see what they may like in a relationship.” He shrugged. “But don’t worry about it. My mind is not on her.”

“My mind is,” I mumbled.

Phillip used his bent knuckle to lift my chin. “What do you mean?”

“I can’t stop seeing you with her attached to your arm. I see you walking and smiling and she’s holding onto your arm in that light pink lace undergarment set she wears.”

Phillip’s eyes lit up. “Shani, are you jealous? You’re not supposed to have feelings for me.”

“I-I don’t.” But I couldn’t be a hundred percent positive anymore. I was jealous. She got the attention of him. It was starting already. Phillip was losing interest in me and I was barely gaining an interest in him.

He smiled. “You are. You don’t want to admit it but you are.”

I swallowed, looking at the floor. “So what if I’m getting feelings for you? You still think she has a nicer body.”

“Who said that? Mate or not, I want to be with you. She is nice to look at but she wouldn’t be able to replace you. She isn’t you.” He nodded.

“Phillip, what about if we ever date? If we visit my brother and he suddenly has a naked woman, are you going to stare at her? I guess I can’t expect you to only want to see my body.” I looked away.

“What do you mean?” He shook his head. “I only want to see you. I didn’t look at her body, Shani. I was looking at her face when she spoke. I don’t disrespect women like that. If they’re talking to me, they deserve my full attention. I didn’t let my eyes wander to her cleavage even if it was tempting.”

I played with my fingers, looking at him. “Really? Do you mean it? You actually didn’t focus on her breasts up in your face?”

He grabbed my hands, holding onto my fingers. “I mean it. I couldn’t in good conscience focus on her body when she was talking to me. I couldn’t do it because you didn’t deserve to know my eyes wandered to another girl like that. If my eyes ever wander someday, I want it to be on you. I don’t want to feel guilty about it.”

I sighed, nodding a bit. “Okay. Okay. I’m sorry for coming off as controlling and rude.”

“No, no. Don’t feel bad. I want to know what’s on your mind. I want to make you feel better and help you ease your fears.” He brought my hands to his lips. “If we ever marry, I want us to be open with each other and discuss this like we are. That’s how marriages last. That’s how any relationship lasts.”

I looked at him, taking a deep breath. “Can I ask you something without getting a bad reaction?”

“Of course.”

I cleared my throat. “Can I live where you live? I know it seems forward but I can’t be around Jason and I have nobody else I can trust in this town.”

Phillip chuckled. “Yes, you can come live with me. It’s a very small place though. I don’t like a lot of extra space I don’t need.”

“Fair. I’m not asking you to change everything. I just need somewhere to live for a bit until I figure out what to do.” I looked down at the ground.

He let go of my hands. “You’re always welcome in my home. In fact, I want to even show you the pack house. You may have to be careful but if we are going to make progress with this small-minded wolves, we have to try. They deserve to know you the way I do, not the way the town does.”

“I don’t know how I feel about this.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll be there to make sure nobody makes a move. I may be...awkward and things like that, but I can fight for those I care about. I was trained growing up on how to fight in a pack.” He smiled at me.

I laughed a bit, shifting my gaze to his. His blue eyes grew more beautiful each day.

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