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“We should talk.” Phillip came into my view, frowning.

I looked at him. “About what? The fact that you’re lying to me? You know them more than you’re saying. Only liars accuse others of lying. I’ve never once lied to you or shown you a good reason to call me a liar and yet here you are...” I gestured, sighing.

“Shani, don’t do that.”

“Do what? Question you? Get upset that you’re supposed to be the one person who believes me yet you refuse to? I’m not lying.”

“I don’t want this to turn out to be some major deal.”

I threw my arms up. “It is! It is a big deal because you accused me of lying. That hurts like a bitch.”

Phillip sighed. “Okay, I know Whitney and Sawyer.”

“Now the liar is coming out with the truth and proving only the guilty blame others.” I crossed my arms.

His facial expression was more of an upset one as if he was disappointed with me. “I grew up with those two. They were always inseparable. They’re adopted siblings. Whitney’s parents died when she was young during a wolf attack. These rogues invaded our territory and took a lot from us, her parents included. Sawyer’s parents took her in and they’ve been like siblings ever since.”

“Okay, sad backstory? Check. That doesn’t change the fact that they want to take us both out of this world.”

“They knew how it felt to be left out. Nobody else took Whitney in when she lost her family. Sawyer did. He became her friend and her brother. When they knew I was having troubles with friends in middle school, they befriended me. They were there for me. We were a trio. We broke up during high school but it was nothing personal. Those two just found their own hobbies and I found mine. We all found who we are and our personalities no longer connected,” he finished.

I swallowed, trying to be nice about this. His life was more important than memories. “I’m glad they were there for you but good friends can turn bad. They’ve changed. They want to kill us because we are like a disease threatening their species. Humans and werewolves don’t mix.”

He argued, “They don’t have the heart. They changed in high school but not in that way.”

“Phillip, people can always change after high school. Change is not excluded based on age. Anyone can change at any time and these two don’t give a shit about you.”

“Or maybe you just don’t give a shit about me,” he whispered.

My mouth stayed shut. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to yell and scream at him that he didn’t know what he was talking about. I did care. I cared so much about him that I was trying to convince him despite what he thought. He continued to call me a liar and yet I was here trying to save his life. But he didn’t want to be saved. Phillip didn’t care about either of us. His memories overshadowed anything he may have felt for our relationship. There would never be us.

“I know I’m not the best mate. I know I’m a wreck and I have my issues and I’m killing myself with cigarettes. I know I need to improve myself. I’m sorry that I couldn’t develop feelings sooner. I’m sorry that I need more time to like a guy romantically. What I’m sorry for most of all is that fact that you had to be mated to a liar like me because I’m just here to hurt you, right? I wish I could be the mate you want and need. I just wanted to save your damn life.” I shoved my hands in my pant pockets under my cloak.

I walked away from him, keeping my head down so my hood hid my face. Silent tears rolled down my cheeks, reminding me of what went down. He did this. I was trying to save him but he did this.

I wasn’t trying to ruin his life. I wasn’t trying to hurt him or take away memories. I was only trying to care about his future and it would cease to exist. I couldn’t save him anymore. I could only focus on saving myself.

I walked away from the pack house and everyone I’d met. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to cry over something so stupid as this.

When I couldn’t control the pain anymore, it controlled me.

I grabbed a tree for support before my legs gave out on me. The tears were constant, not giving up for even a second. The sobs were loud and I could no longer silence my emotions. I was struggling to breathe through it.

Without the mark, Phillip has no idea how much he hurt me. He couldn’t feel this pain I felt. Did he feel any pain at all?

There was no way to stop the squeezing of my heart. It was hard for me to process this. Phillip was such a good guy at the beginning. He tried so hard. He was amazing at being a good guy and then he pulled this crap. I had to remind myself that he was still a human. He was capable of hurting me.

It hurt the most that I took my time gaining feelings for him and when they were there, he ripped them apart. He threw my feelings back in my face as if they meant nothing. He’d moved on without me. I was left to my own vices.

Eventually, the tears in my body were no more. My breathing was still unsteady as I gasped for air but the dehydration was strong.

I heard some footsteps, looking around the area. I was most likely about to die. My face was puffy from the emotions and my eyes were swollen, burning from the dried-up tears that once heated my face.

“Shani, what are you doing out here?” my brother asked as he bent down in front of my curled up frame.

I shook my head. “I could ask you the same thing.” My voice came out harsh and raspy. Crying took a lot out of me.

“Phillip looked hurt and I asked him where you were. He said you walked off into the woods and I tracked your scent.”

I had no energy to laugh or scoff at the idea that Phillip was hurt. He had no right to be hurt. “He hurt me. He’s the one who called me a liar and told me I didn’t give a shit about him when he lied to me. I have never lied...” I leaned my head back against the tree trunk, swallowing the lump in my throat.

“What happened again? Tell me so I can get an understanding.” He sat next to me, nudging me in the lightest nudge possible. “You’re my sister. He may be my pack family but you’re my real family. You come first.”

I didn’t have the time to argue with him. My brother lied to me and hurt me, too, but I couldn’t get this brain of mine to create drama with him as well.

“I overheard Sawyer and Whitney talking about killing me. They then told me they plan to kill Phillip, too. They knew he wouldn’t believe me. They knew. Phillip called me a liar. Then when I said they didn’t give a shit about him anymore, he said I was the one who didn’t give a shit about him. I’ve never lied. I’ve never done anything to hurt him.” I closed my red eyes, leaning against my brother.

Jason grabbed my hand. “Do you need me to talk to him? Man to man? I mean, I’m sure I can get through to him better.”

“You can’t. Nobody can. I’m supposed to be his mate and I can’t make him believe me.”

My brother stood, pulling me with him. “We have to try. Let’s go.”

I groaned, barely dragging my feet. The strength in me was asleep at the moment.

I followed my brother back to the mansion and Jason found Phillip quickly. “We should talk.”

Phillip saw us both and sighed. “You’re going to punch me, arent you?”

“I’m going to talk to you.” He crossed his arms. “Phillip, I’ve barely known you but I know this pack. I know that you’re not supposed to diss your mate like that. You may feel one way about them but if she overheard them, maybe getting the full story would help. Friends have backstabbed plenty of times in the past. These two wouldn’t be an exception.”

“They’re my friends. I don’t want to see them that way.”

Jason shook his head. “Nobody wants to have to make you hate them. Nobody. Shani isn’t just doing it because she can. She is not like that. I’ve known her since we were conceived. I know that she’s not the liar. We are. You lied. I lied. We both lied to her and now we have to pay for it. Blaming her for our mistakes is not going to solve anything. She deserves better.” He pointed at me.

The swollen lids were bringing the drowsiness. There was nothing I wanted more than sleep at this moment.

“Jason-” Phillip started but got interrupted.

“Don’t. Don’t make piss poor excuses as to why you need to lie to my sister and then make it as if she’s the bad guy. You are. You lied. You hurt her.”

Phillip saw the aftermath of my appearance from crying. It wouldn’t make a difference. He made his choice. I didn’t give a shit about him.

Jason looked between the both of us. “Well? Are we going to act like adults or what?”

I shook my head, sighing to myself. “I wish I could but I can’t. I can’t look at him. I don’t give a shit about him and I’m just a liar. I thought I had something good. I thought I won an amazing guy but I was wrong. You guys are werewolves. I’m not. I’ll never be one. I’m just a stupid human that doesn’t belong here. Nobody has to worry. Whitney and Sawyer can track me down but at least they know that Phillip and I won’t be together.”

“What are you saying?” My brother looked at me.

I patted his shoulder, pushing hair behind my ear. “I’m saying I’m moving out. You have your pack. I have nothing. I’ll be leaving the cabin and the pack house. I’m going to live on my own in the woods now. Please don’t look for me. Let me be.” I turned and left the mansion, rubbing my eyes. I needed to go back to the cabin and pack up my things. I was leaving this mess behind.

I got to my cabin and put a duffel bag up on my bed. I put clothes inside, and any essentials I would need. I’d find a way to survive. I wasn’t a complete idiot. After all, I came from a family of wolves. They were animals and animals survived the wild. I could, too. It was in my blood somehow.

I zipped up and left the home, walked into the forest once more. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but I would know when I got there.

I stopped in a small clearing and set my bag down. I looked around the woods, searching the trees for animals. Squirrels ran by but my skills failed me as I tried to catch them. I was hungry. I wanted meat and yet I had no real hunting skills for such a thing. I always just bought my meat.

I sat down on the ground, looking into the endless sky. I guess I wouldn’t be eating today.

I needed water and fire. I had to eat something. I wasn’t going to let myself die out here.

I had to find some sort of food. I couldn’t give up now. This was going to be my life and I had to learn to adjust to it. It wouldn’t be easy but living was never easy.

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