Chapter 2 - Where have you been?
It had been too long since I’d seen my best friend, since she’d disappeared off the face of the planet. But I could not blame her completely, we hadn’t looked for her, not after everything that happened with Jenny and her mate. Not after what had happened.
“You look good,” Alice smiled as she closed the door to her office and gestured to the seat in front of her desk.
“So do you,” I said, smiling weakly at her and taking the seat as she walked around the desk and flopped into her own chair.
“How is Kyle? How’s work?” she asked, this was useless small talk and we both knew it.
“Kyle’s good, he’s been a bit stressed with – er work. And my job is going great, I actually just got back into the country from Europe, I’d asked my agent to see if I could stay a few nights in the city before I fly home.”
“That’s great, I’m so happy to hear you’re finally internationally working now, you two must be so happy.”
Her smile was fake, but still a smile.
“But look at you!” I said, offering back a smile that was just as forced. “You have an office and some pervy co-workers! I’m so proud of you.”
She smiled again, this time it didn’t reach her eyes, “thank you, and it’s great. A dream come true.”
I swallowed, “how are you and Alpha Black?”
She leaned back against the chair, her posture slouching and she avoiding meeting my eyes, it must have been as bad as I thought.
“I left,” she said simply and finally.
“You can’t just leave, not him, not while he’s alive. He is alive, isn’t he?”
She nodded, “You know, they say, your mate is meant to be your equal, someone who loves and respects you.”
“He does love you Al, I’m sure of it.”
She smiled again at my words, “I was hinting more towards our respect and quality, love wasn’t so much the issue,” her gaze still not meeting my own.
“What do you mean?”
“To be frank, I’m a stronger werewolf, I over power him in every way,-”
Her throat bobbed as she swallowed, “he abused the Alpha rank he had above me, removed my free will and choice, I felt like I was in a cage.”
I reached across the table and put my hand on her own, she jumped slightly at the suddenness of my action, but left her hand under mine, “I’m sorry Al, that I wasn’t there for you, that I couldn’t help you. I should have come to your aid.”
She shook her head, “there is nothing you could have done. You would have ended up dead. Dead like,-” the words stopped in her mouth and she finally brought her gaze up to mine, tears now pooling in her icy white eyes.
“Jenny,” she finally choaked out.
I pulled myself out of my chair and around the desk, embracing my dear friend, brushing my nails lightly through her hair as she began to sob, “I’m so sorry,” she said between gasps for air. “I’m so, so sorry.”
“We don’t blame you honey,” I purred, “no one does.”
“But I am to blame,” she said, her arms working around my waist, and I rested my chin on her head.
“We didn’t know you’d left Alpha Black until about six months ago,” I said finally. “We, Steph and I thought you were with him.”
She shook her head and pulled away from the hug, “No, I left, days after everything happened.”
“I didn’t know, why didn’t you come home?”
She pulled a tissue from the box on her book case and dabbed at her eyes, one again, refusing to meet my gaze. “Why did you stay away?” I asked again.
“Because I knew he would come looking for me, or at least send someone to come looking for me.”
“What? He does know where you are, dosen’t he?” I said, a lump starting to form in my throat.
“No, he dosen’t. He never thought to look here I guess,” she sighed, her gaze falling further to the ground as she looked at her feet. “How did you find me?” she asked suddenly, her brow furrowing.
“Steph saw your name on a conference paper. She showed me, so I thought I’d see if it was true, if you were here. To be honest, I didn’t expect you to be here.”
She chuckled darkly, “I didn’t think they were going to publish that article, it was a puff piece for the Alumni Newsletter, ironic huh.”
“How have they not found you?” I asked, swallowing nervously.
A small, real, smile twitched at Alice’s mouth and she held up her wrist, “smell,” she commanded.
I took her wrist and smelt her wrist, the only thing lingering was a fruity vanilla perfume that lingered on her skin, “where is your scent?”
Her smiled deepened, not an innocent smile, but a dark and wicked one, “I learned how to conceal it. After meeting Nathaniel, I grew stronger, I just thought it was training, but it was like he completed me. After the Luna ceremony, it was like the blood in my veins froze and I slowly became stronger, but a different stronger. I could do things, see things, hear things, that should be possible.”
“Like concealing your scent?” I said, my heart beating loudly in my chest. “What else is there?”
She shrugged, “I can shift parts of my body into that of my wolf, so I can borrow my wolves eyes to see heat sources, I don’t really bruise or break anymore, I can block the mind link completely – like it’s almost severed, I can’t get drunk anymore, and I sleep half as much as what a human needs…”
“Are the eyes permanent?” I said swallowing awkwardly.
She nodded, “that happened after my wolf and I became one,” she paused and stood up, suddenly pulling me into a hug, “she’s sorry, for what happened when I shifted for the first time,” she said into my ear.
I rose up from my chest, choaking in my throat, “I know,” I choaked out, embracing my friend back. The tears pooling in my own eyes, “I’m so sorry too.” Despite smelling so different, like nothing, I she still smelt so familiar - she still used the same vanilla body wash it would seem.
“I’m missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you too.”