Emmie and Jackson were nowhere in sight, so I decided to look for this first aid kit Zack had mentioned.
Despite the sun pouring down on a vast yard, it was still cold as I rushed to the pack house under the watchful eyes of other werewolves.
I didn’t appreciate being in a spot like that. It reminded me too much of the stalker wolf and made me jittery and paranoid as a result. Every face seemed suspicious, every gaze unnerving... And, though I tried to control my growing panic attack, I discovered I was only able to relax after I closed the doors to Bennett’s home.
The house seemed empty, but the lingering scents of other wolves told me that not so long ago, there was a gathering of sorts here. I walked into the enormous kitchen and started to look for the kit. Bennett had never mentioned where it could be, so my only option was to search every nook and cranny - something I wasn’t too enthusiastic about.
As I opened the first cupboard, I heard a person clearing their throat behind me. I whipped on my heel, finding myself face to face with a guy I vaguely recognized from the sniffing party.
“Can I help you?” He asked, his smile a bit guarded.
He was around my age, nice enough, I presumed. Tall, leaner than Zack or Jackson with tousled blond hair and grey-blue eyes, dressed in a simple gray hoodie and black cargo joggers.
“Actually, yes,” I said, combing a stray lock behind my ear. “I’m looking for a first aid kit, but I’m not sure where to start,” I explained, glancing meaningfully at the vast amount of shelves.
“Ah, I see. That could be a problem,” the boy’s smile was more genuine this time. “Let me have a look. I’m Alec, by the way. In case you don’t remember.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t. I’m Gemma.”
Alec’s eyes were twinkling in merriment as he glimpsed at me, reaching for the furthest cupboard from the doors. “I know. I was at the sniffing.”
“Right, of course, you were,” I laughed dumbly.
“Don’t stress over it.” The boy passed me the kit. “You’re Zack’s new interest, and he has already warned us off from you. Plus, we don’t usually see a turned human surviving the change. If I hadn’t met you earlier, your fame would precede you anyway,” he shrugged, possibly trying to comfort me, which was kind of sweet. Obviously, it didn’t work. I turned bright red from embarrassment.
“Oh boy,” I grimaced, busying myself with the kit so I could hide my blush.
Sydney chose that very moment to burst through the doors.
“You! How dare you show your face here?!” She screeched, jabbing her finger at me, her eyes puffy and red from crying. She looked the most unkempt I had ever seen her. Her usually flawless make-up was reduced to two smeared dark lines of mascara on both her cheeks. “It’s all your fucking fault!”
I bit my lip, looking away from the distressed girl, feeling guilt twisting my insides. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t argue with Sydney’s accusation. She had every right to be mad at me. Keely was her best friend, and she was kidnapped because some psycho tried to make me happy. I felt sick.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Alec butted in, placing himself between me and the girl. “She’s not responsible for...”
But Sydney had none of that. “And you! You hated Keely! You must be so happy she’s gone!”
“I would never...”
“Liar!” Sydney finally lost it.
She leaped at the boy, ready to rip his hair off his skull. He caught her wrists, trying to wrench her hands to the sides, but Sydney was surprisingly strong. Or the boy was just weak. They both growled, showing their teeth, their wolves peeking out through their glowing eyes.
“Stop it. Stop it!” I said with so much force, I didn’t know I possessed. I wasn’t sure why, but they both listened, freezing midway, trembling and huffing with an effort and rough, barely contained energy. I met Sydney’s hateful, scalding gaze, unyielding. “That’s enough,” I added, fisting my hands so neither Sydney nor Alec would see how much they were shaking. I never considered myself a leader, and, honestly, I detested any form of responsibility. Yet, the wolf part of me demanded others’ respect and obedience and knew exactly what to do to force it out, guiding me.
“If anything happens to Keely, I’ll kill you. Him, and you both, Matthews,” Sydney promised, seething.
“You may try,” I growled out as my eyes flashed. “Now, get yourself under control. You’re helping no one.” I ordered, feeling the weird power behind those words.
Sydney sneered, more than ready to throw something back, but before she could utter a word, she was suddenly interrupted.
“I know where Keely is,” Chloe said matter-of-factly, appearing seemingly out of nowhere, her huge cat-like, yellow-green eyes blinking at me.
The following silence was deafening.
“W-What? How?” I finally choked out.
“I followed the search party, and I smelled the traces of magic, so I went after it. I dunno why nobody could feel it, it was stinking,” she scrunched her nose, then slurped the drink she held in her hand through a straw.
Sydney’s eyes narrowed on the girl, and I gulped, suddenly having a very, very bad feeling.
“Can you find your way back to where Keely is being held?” The blond girl asked, hope lighting her baby-blue eyes.
“Pfff, of course,” Chloe deadpanned, putting her now empty glass on the table.
“Sydney, don’t,” I started, just as Brooks said:
Emmie’s sister needn’t have to be told twice. She rushed for the doors, Sydney hot on her heels and me tagging right behind them. I tried to reason with the girls, but my words fell on deaf ears. Sydney jumped behind the wheel of her sky-blue SUV, and Chloe followed, happy as a lark. I barely managed to throw myself next to the seven-year-old before Sydney hit the accelerator. The car shot out, the force flinging us against seats and then at the windows as we took a turning too hard, too fast.
“This is ridiculous! You’re putting all of us in danger!” I cried out, clutching the front seats so I wouldn’t be thrown to the side again.
“Nobody asked you to come, Matthews,” Sydney shot back, not looking at me and never slowing down. She was going to kill us - either by serving us on a plate to the mad wolf or crashing us in a car.
“I wouldn’t have had to come if you hadn’t encouraged Chloe! You’re acting like a careless idiot. She’s only seven!”
“Oh, shove it, Matthews. Chloe’s a werewolf - save for a silver bullet or wringing her neck, hardly anything can kill her. Where to now?” Sydney turned her attention ba to Emmie’s little sister.
“The ravine,” the latter cheerfully supplied.
I looked up, seeking patience or divine help - I wasn’t sure. Whatever power I might have felt earlier left me. The wolf-being wasn’t going to meddle this time, content with this insane impromptu rescue mission. I was on my own with a reckless seven-year-old and a crazy she-wolf.