I practically ran out of the classroom once the bell rang. Instead of walking with Tyler to gym, I went looking for Zev. I spent a few minutes walking around aimlessly without finding him.
Soon enough, the crowd started thinning out, until most of the students were in class.
I went to my locker to dump my stuff and texted Zev, asking him where he was. He quickly replied telling me he was already at the gym. I didn’t want to go to the gym, so I asked him to meet me in my locker.
He didn’t reply anything back.
Not two minutes later, a worried looking Zev was heading my way.
“Is something wrong?” Zev asked, kneeling in front of me.
I was sitting on the ground, with my legs propped up and my back resting on the lockers.
“I think so,” I replied, nervously.
Zev was inspecting me, his eyes gazing everywhere in my body, but there wasn’t anything physically wrong with me.
He took a seat right next to me, his shoulders brushing against mine.
“Layton is having a pack meeting today,” I said.
My voice was so quiet and soft, I barely recognized it as mine.
“He wants you to come?” Zev asked, but he didn’t sound surprised.
“Tyler was the one who told me I should go.”
“You don’t want to meet the pack?”
“I don’t want to meet his parents, much less other strangers.”
I hadn’t been able to tell Tyler the truth. In such a short time, I considered Tyler one of my closest friends, but it was easier to talk to Zev when the topic of conversation was Layton. Tyler usually reasoned that everything Layton did had a purpose, even if I didn’t understand what it was.
“The pack isn’t strangers. Once you and Layton get together, they will be your family as well.”
“What do you mean with get together? Like, get together how we are now?” I asked, hoping that was what Zev meant.
He gave me a small smile, and shook his head.
“No, I mean, when you two get together and mate.”
I blushed at his words, although I wasn’t sure he had noticed it. Zev had grown serious, and he was looking away from me.
“They’re strangers to me. Besides, who says Layton and I will stay together. It could all just be a silly crush. I wouldn’t want us to meet each other’s families if there’s a chance we might move on later on.”
I didn’t like the idea of Layton and me not being together. I couldn’t explain how, but thinking about it made my chest hurt and my stomach feel nauseous.
“Mates don’t work like that. We only have one mate and our mating is for life. It’s the reason most Wolves don’t date. They want to wait until they find their mate and have the real thing with them,” Zev said, with a faraway look.
“What about Hanna?” I asked, thinking back to Zev’s current girlfriend, who I had yet to meet.
“I already told you, it’s different with her,” Zev replied, like if he was bored with the subject.
“Where is she, anyways? How come I’ve never seen her?”
“She’s at home,” Zev mumbled.
“Why isn’t she in school?”
“Remember what I told you about Wolves when they turn sixteen? Hanna turned sixteen a few months ago. Her Wolf acts up, quite a bit. She’s not ready to be around humans.”
“She’s in your pack?”
“She is now.”
It seemed like he didn’t want to talk about it. But the more he kept trying to divert the subject, the more curious I grew.
“How come you’re with her if you say most Wolves wait for their mates?”
“Most, not all,” Zev corrected me.
“And you didn’t, because you’re a big bad Wolf,” I said, in a fake scary voice.
Zev chuckled, and wrapped his arm around my shoulders, pressing me closer to his side.
“What? Does the big bad Wolf scare you?” Zev asked, nuzzling his nose in my hair.
I laughed when he started tickling me, and pushed him away.
“You’re trying to distract me,” I complained, but it was all in between giggles.
“Come on, just tell me. Might as well get it out now,” I pressed.
“I met Hanna a month after she turned sixteen,” Zev started to say.
The look in his eyes told me I was in for a good story, although there was something that didn’t feel right. Zev looked bothered.
“We’ve only been together a couple of months. Believe it or not, before I met you, I really got into a lot of trouble,” Zev said.
“Before you met me?” I asked, confused on how that was even relevant.
“You make me want to be good,” he shrugged casually, like if his words should’ve been obvious to me.
“Okay,” I mumbled.
“Hanna was a Rogue. She hung out with the wrong crowd. One day, I was out doing rounds for my pack and I caught her trying to trespass.”
“Oh, wow,” I mumbled.
I hadn’t been expecting that one.
“All of the packs usually dislike Rogues, but mine and Layton’s pack really hate them. Liam just screwed the system when he attacked us. He basically turned friends into enemies,” Zev said, his eyes dropping for just a second.
“I knew Hanna was a Rogue, and that she was a girl. She-Wolves tend to be smaller, at least the ones without a title.”
“What do mean with title?”
“She-Wolves born out of an Alpha, a Beta, or a third in command are stronger and bigger than the rest. Hanna was a Rogue.”
“I never thought about that,” I admitted.
“It took me no time to catch up to her and pin her down. When she shifted back into her human form, and I realized she was really young, I couldn’t kill her,” Zev said, sounding guilty.
If I were him, I would’ve been celebrating. There was no need to kill anyone in the first place, yet Zev acted like if sparing Hanna’s life had been a crime.
“What happened then?”
“I let her go,” Zev said, chuckling breathily.
“And she came back?”
“She did, and she tried to kick my ass, without even a ‘thank you’ for not killing her the day before.”
“That sounds kind of cool though,” I told him.
“My dad didn’t think so. Hanna wasn’t my mate, and she also happened to be a Rogue. The pack started talking, and things just got worse from there,” Zev said, his frown growing deeper with each word.
“But you’re still with her. It’s all that counts,” I said and gave his hand a gentle squeeze.
“I guess. I know I won’t be with her forever,” he said, giving me a shrug.
“You don’t know that.”
“I do. Alphas always find their mates. The pull is a lot stronger for us than for regular Wolves. But right now, both Hanna and I are happy.”
I hated how he explained everything. I didn’t like how unstable his relationship with Hanna sounded. I scrunched up my nose, thinking about his words more than I should have.
What if a Wolf had a human girlfriend or boyfriend and then they found their mate. They would just cut off their relationship, to go with their mate. I didn’t like the sound of that.
For some reason, it made me angry.
“If you don’t show up to class, Layton’s gonna go ballistic.”
Zev and I had been in silence, each of us lost in our own thoughts.
Zev’s words brought reality crashing down. I really was not ready to meet Layton’s pack.
Layton had sent me countless of texts, asking where I was. I was starting to think it was a bad idea that he had my number, mainly because each text made me feel guiltier. I shouldn’t have been hiding from him.
No one was doing anything in PE when we arrived, which meant coach was busy with something else. I avoided looking in the area where Layton usually sat, and went straight up the bleachers with Zev.
I could hear Layton growling from across the gym. In that moment, I hated my enhanced hearing more than ever.
When I finally looked up at Layton, I noticed he was stomping our way. He looked ready to kill someone. I smiled in his direction, but it didn’t do anything to ease up his anger.
Zev wasn’t even worried. He was an Alpha. According to Zev, Alpha’s never backed down.
Tyler had told me that the power emanating from one Alpha was really strong. Two Alphas in the same room, which happened very frequently with Layton and Zev, were extremely powerful.
Unfortunately for Layton and Zev, who couldn’t just pick up their pack and move elsewhere, this was the only school that stretched out for miles. Layton and Zev had to attend this school, which also happened to be funded by both their parents.
Apparently living in the middle of nowhere had its disadvantages if you wanted to avoid your enemy.
Layton didn’t speak when he arrived at my side. He placed his hand around my shoulder and scooted me closer to him, and away from Zev.
When he seemed happy with the distance, he intertwined our hands, and rested them on my thighs. I gave him a strange look, but had to wave it off as another one of his Layton moments.
“I would really appreciate it if you replied to my texts,” Layton said in a calm voice. He didn’t look mad or anything close to it.
The bell had just rung and everyone was making their way out of gym.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I told him. We walked hand in hand out to the parking lot.
Layton opened the door for me to get in once we got to my car.
“Can I ask you something?” The words were out of my mouth before I got the chance to wimp out.
“What is it?”
“I know that we’ve, you know, kissed before, and you surprise me in my room at night, and we hang out a lot. Not that all that wasn’t confusing, but, what exactly are we?” My words stumbled out quickly and I wasn’t sure if he had caught all of it.
“You’re my mate.”
“Yeah, but, what exactly does that mean?”
“It means that since I found you, we were together. Even though you weren’t fond of me at the beginning,” Layton replied, smiling.
“You didn’t want me either,” I replied defensively.
“That idiotic moment lasted two minutes at most. It would’ve been impossible to stay away from you anyway. And I’m sure the feeling is mutual,” Layton smirked at me.
“Right, you keep telling yourself that,” I said to him, rolling my eyes.
“Well, if you’re not feeling it yet, wait until I claim you,” Layton said, breaking out a full-on grin.
“What?” I asked, not liking the sound of his words at all. He made it sound like I was an animal who was going to be marked.
“I have to claim you. You’re my mate, but other Wolves don’t know that. Once I mark you, every Wolf will know to back off because you’re taken. And once we mate, the mating process will finally be complete.”
I stared at him, with my mouth hanging open. I wasn’t sure I could drive myself home after hearing something so crazy.
“Do you want me to take you home?” Layton asked.
I felt even more scared wondering just how connected this mate thing made us. Sometimes I could swear he was reading my mind.
“Why do you ask that?” I asked him, distrustfully.
“You don’t look in a good state to drive,” Layton answered, shrugging and dragging me to the passenger side.
Layton called Jared and told him that someone had to drive his car home because he was leaving with me.
“Does anything at all change between us two?” I asked Layton on the drive home.
I couldn’t help but wonder if I should’ve been worried.
“I’m not sure how things are going to work between us because you’re a human. Usually after we mate, you are fully connected to me,” he said, keeping his eyes on the road.
I was certainly starting to question the idea of being Layton’s mate.
“I can communicate with other Werewolves in my pack through a mind link we share. Mates have mind links as well, but we’re also more susceptible to each other’s emotions. You’re not a Werewolf so I’m not sure about the mind link, but I’ve felt your emotions since the first time I saw you.”
Layton was calmly explaining, like if the things he was saying weren’t out of the ordinary. He was probably used to it, but I wasn’t.
“Oh ok,” I replied, not knowing what else to say.
Layton walked me to my front porch. I opened the house and he followed me in.
“You’re staying?” I asked.
He had followed me into my house.
“Yeah, we can hang out.”
I walked to the kitchen and Layton followed behind me. I was looking through the fridge, while I thought back to what Tyler had told me earlier.
“Don’t you have to go home?” I asked him, trying to find some turkey slices for a sandwich.
“Why do you think I have to be home?”
“Tyler said you guys have a major pack meeting today,” I told him.
“He told you that?”
“The meeting is at six. I have plenty of time,” Layton shrugged and took a seat in the booth.
“Do you want a sandwich?” I offered.
“Yeah, make me one,” he distractedly replied
I fixed us our sandwiches, brought a bag of chips and two cokes over to the booth.
“You know,” I said to him, thinking back to our earlier conversation. “You still haven’t asked me to be your girlfriend. I know you don’t work that way, but I’ve never had a boyfriend and I expect my first boyfriend to at least ask me.”
“You’ve never had a boyfriend?” Layton asked me, looking very surprised.
“Nope,” I replied
“My parents don’t exactly want me to date. And I had my priorities elsewhere,” I shrugged.
After learning that Werewolves were real, I was really glad that I spent all of my time training instead of dating.
“Damn,” Layton said, a grin growing on his face.
“What is it?” I asked, frowning at him.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” he replied.
“Is that bad?”
“You’re completely mine,” he excitedly said, something I’d hardly ever seen from him.
“Sure,” I mumbled.
“You’re entirely perfect,” Layton said, reaching across the table between us and brushing his lips against mine.
He kissed me softly, making me nervous and my face heat up.
“What was that for?” I asked him.
“I know why you ran away today after your science class, and let me tell you that will only work for so long.”
“Why did I run away, according to you?” I said, rolling my eyes.
The sweet kiss we’d shared was put away, at least for the moment.
“Tyler brought up the pack meeting, and you suddenly disappear after that? When you showed up at the gym, you couldn’t even look at me.”
“I was running late,” I defensively replied.
“If you don’t want to come, all you have to do is tell me.”
“There’s not really a point in me tagging along.”
“I think it’s the perfect moment for the pack to meet you. It’s the last pack meeting we’re having before my birthday, which is awhile from now. Sooner or later, everyone in the pack is going to know you’re my mate either way.”
“What if they don’t like me because of what I am?” I asked, feeling nervous at the thought of other people judging me for not being a Werewolf.
“What do you mean?”
“At first, you didn’t want me because I was a human.”
“They will love you because you are their Luna and the Alpha’s mate. If anyone even thinks about saying anything about it, they will have to respond to me. I let things slip when it comes to you, but I’m not as merciful with them,” he said, sounding threatening.
“You want me to go?” I meekly asked.
“I wanted to ask you something first.”
I gave him a short nod, prompting him to continue.
“Cassidy,” he said, taking my hand in his and squeezing it.
“Would you like to be my girlfriend?” Layton quietly asked.
I chuckled at the way he had asked, and how he looked slightly nervous. My heart was beating erratically, and his was just the same.
Layton ran the outside of his hand over the side of my face, before cupping my cheek.
I nodded as a reply, not being able to voice out my answer.
Layton stood up, and came to my side of the booth. He wrapped his arm around my waist, and settled his other hand on the nape of my neck. Layton was looking down at my lips. He was so close to me, I could feel his warm breath fanning over my face.
I closed my eyes when I noticed him leaning closer to me. Layton’s lips moved slowly against mine. I ran my hands through his short hair. His fingers were digging into my waist.
I felt Layton pushing me closer to his chest. I yelped when his fingers dug into my waist, and he sat me over his lap. I was straddling him, with one of my legs on either side of his waist.
Layton placed a last gentle kiss on my lips, before he started trailing small kisses along my jaw. I let my head fall back a bit, to give him easier access to my neck.
Both of his hands were slowly moving up and down my waist, and he was bunching up my shirt higher.
His face was nestled in my neck, and he kept kissing and sucking on my skin. Even though I knew he was going to leave love bites on my skin, I was enjoying the moment too much to care about it.
I was too focused on how good his lips felt on my skin, it took me a second to realize Layton was biting down, hard.
His teeth broke into my skin easily. When I tried to shove him away, he sunk his fingers deeper into my waist, and I could feel claws digging into my skin.
He was holding onto me so tightly, while I fought him to let me go.
“Layton! You’re hurting me!” I cried, slapping his chest repeatedly.
He let me go, but the ripples of pain in my neck were only growing stronger.
“What did you do?” I snapped.
I got off from his lap, and stood next to the table, feeling drowsy and in a lot of pain. When I touched the bite, I felt something wet.
I pulled my hand away, and noticed all the blood from the wound.
Layton was sitting down quietly, but he kept staring at the bite in my neck with a deep frown.
“Why did you do that?” I asked, trying really hard to stop the sob that was threatening to come out.
My vision was blurry and I knew I was ready to cry at any second.
Layton stood up from the booth, and he tried to get closer to me. I took a step back, and held my hand out to stop him from moving.
“Don’t you dare,” I told him in a snappy tone.
“I didn’t mean to do that,” he said.
“Do what? Almost rip a chuck of my skin?” I angrily asked, but my voice sounded too weak to be even slightly threatening.
“It was too tempting. I didn’t mean to claim you without permission.”