“Jesus, Gemma, are you okay?” Asked Emmie when I finally found her in one of the vast rooms of Bennetts’ lodge house, talking to a group of people whose names I couldn’t recall.
Judging by her disturbed expression, I must have looked like a candidate for a pair of wings.
Well, I most definitely felt like it anyway.
I rushed to my best friend and gripped her by her forearm, almost causing her to spill the non-alcoholic, citrus drink she held in her hand.
“I need to go home. Like now,” I said desperately, ignoring the curious glances I was drawing.
Without further ado, Emmie put away her half-full glass and led me towards the back doors.
I wanted to kiss her.
“Has something happened in the yard?” She whispered while we passed by the very few people that crept in the hall. They too observed us with interest, but I paid them no mind. I also didn’t answer Emmie’s question, focusing all my attention on looking out for Bennett instead. Thank God he was nowhere in sight. “Does it have anything to do with Zack’s scent being all over you?”
My gaze snapped back to her with a speed of a bullet.
“Oh my God, you can smell it, can’t you?” I groaned, mortified, as we walked through the double door onto the - thankfully empty - driveway.
She eyed me carefully as she took out the keys from her bag and clicked the lock open. The car lights flashed orange, illuminating the vast yard in front and pavement at the back.
“Don’t worry, the smell is not that strong. I can only feel it because I’m near you,” Emmie lied through her teeth. I didn’t call her on it, though - I actually appreciated her efforts to make me feel better, even if they didn’t help as much as I wished.
I hastily took a passenger’s seat while my best friend sat behind the wheel and turned on the engine. We pulled out, heading towards the iron gates that led as far away from Bennett as it was possible.
“Do you want to tell me what actually happened?” Emmie asked after a short pause, glancing at me warily.
I raked a hand through my hair in frustration and sighed loudly, not sure what to say. It was all fucked up to the point of absurdity.
“I don’t really know where to start,” I admitted, bumping the back of my head on the rest. I contemplated for a second whether to keep the yard situation to myself but, in the end, decided against it. So I simply stated:
“Bennett kissed me.”
No matter how many times I repeated those three bloody words in my head, I still found them unbelievable. Like the weirdest horror-fantasy my mind could conjure.
And the worst thing was - I actually liked it. Scratch that, I loved every second of that kiss. It was even better than what I had imagined. Better yet than a make-out session I had with the captain of the football team from my life before Upton Hill Town, only four months ago. And I was into Rick then.
If not for the sudden bite, I didn’t know when Bennett and I would stop. If one of us would have been sensible enough to stop - I wasn’t the only one who seemed hot and bothered at the time...
Again, I raked my hand through my head, exasperated. I was positive my blond waves looked like a bird’s nest, not that I actually cared.
Emmie managed to remain stoic through my revelation, her face a solid mask. I, on the other hand, wriggled and squirmed under the weight of my thoughts.
Correctly guessing there was more to the story and I wasn’t necessarily going to elaborate, my best friend prompted:
“Aaand... I kissed him back.” I mumbled, closing my eyes as embarrassment tainted my cheeks red.
“And then I slapped him... and ran away,” I finished, hiding my face in my hands.
There was a short pause after that.
“You did what?” Emmie blurted out.
I peaked at her from behind my spread fingers. She was trying to suppress her laugh but failed. Miserably. It filled the car a second later.
“What? He took me completely by surprise!” I exclaimed, feeling the sudden need to defend myself.
She only laughed some more.
“Hardy, har, har.”
“Come on, Gem-Gem, admit it, it’s rich,” she commented, wiping the tears out of the corner of her eyes. “I can’t believe you. Only you could do something like slap a beta wolf, Zack at that, after he kissed you and run away... Oh gosh, this is so good. I’m not going to let him live.”
I made a face.
“Well, actually, I would appreciate it if you could pretend that nothing happened.”
“Why? Was the kiss bad?” She grinned and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.
“Quite the opposite, actually,” I admitted reluctantly, not looking at her.
“Soooo, what’s the problem?”
“He’s a fricking Zachary Bennett, that’s the problem!” I burst out, waving my hands in the air. “And he bloody bit me! Here!” I added, pointing to the sore spot on my neck.
It was Emmie’s turn to make a face.
“Gee... I hoped it wasn’t going to come to this so early, but I think it’s time we have the talk.” She sighed, pulling on my driveway. She put the car in park and turned towards me, resolved.
It made me uneasy.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I stated, looking at her with a deer caught in headlights expression, scared to even think where “the talk” would lead us.
Emmie ignored me.
“I admit the biting part may be somehow unexpected to you, but it’s quite normal in our culture, especially if it’s done on the neck,” she explained, all business-like. “It means that Zach is actually quite into you...”
“That’s just loads of crap, Emmie,” I said, vexed. “Your cousin is a player, that’s all. He wouldn’t even...”
“Gemma, wolves pair up for life,” she interrupted me as if it explained it all.
“So that means Zach can’t be a player. He’s serious. Very serious...”
I had a bad feeling about that.
“Don’t tell me that...” I started alarmed while the first waves of panic kicked in.
“He’s your mate, Gemma.”
There, she said it.
“Okay, I’m done,” I stated, getting out. “It was nice to have met you, Emmie, but please don’t talk to me anymore. You, Bennett, and all the freaking population of werewolves!” I cried out, shutting the door close.
Emmie hastily got out of the car, her one leg on the pavement, the other still inside the truck. She grabbed the doors with one hand and placed the other on the hood.
“Gemma!” She called out as I stomped towards my house. “Gemma, wait...!”
I didn’t look back. I literally had enough for the day. Make it for the rest of my life while we were at it. Bennett’s mate. Me. It was fucking unbelievable! Next thing I know I would be a long lost queen of England!
I ran up the stairs and locked myself in my room, trying to calm down my racing heart. Bennett's mate. Impossible.
And yet, I couldn’t completely deny the fact that Emmie’s words rang true. I felt it at the very core of my soul, and it was fucking scary.
That night I dreamt of cyan blue eyes.
Of feather-like kisses on my naked skin. Of gentle hands, lazily exploring the curves of my body, burning me, teasing me...
Of a wet tongue devastating my insides.
I woke up sweaty, out of breath, and full of need.