My worries from the previous day were gone as soon as the day started. School went by in a breeze. I decided to eat with Layton during lunch, knowing he’d appreciate it if I stayed with him rather than leave with Zev.
I had more time to catch up with my classes throughout the day, and the teachers were being really helpful.
I sat with Zev during P.E. Even though I could sit with Layton and the guys, it felt right to sit with Zev. I had been doing that every day either way. Even if I was on good terms with Layton, I felt compelled to keep my routine with Zev.
Layton didn’t say anything, but I felt his gaze on us during the whole period.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” Layton asked me for the fifth time. We were standing next to my car after school, and I was trying to convince him to let me go.
“I’m fine. Besides, I think I’ll shop easier if I’m alone. If you’re there, I’m not going to really get what I want. I’ll probably end up getting what I think you would like,” I told him, honestly.
“Isn’t that a good thing?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No, now go,” I laughed, giving him a light shove toward his car.
“Okay, but I’ll pass by your house later. Text me when you get home,” Layton said, leaning down and placing a soft kiss on my lips.
“Bye,” I said, before getting in my car.
As I drove to the mall, my nerves were settling in my stomach. Now that Layton and I were good, I was going to be presented to his pack this Saturday.
He had been really sweet the entire day. Everyone had noticed his change. Layton would still get jealous when any guy looked at me for longer than he deemed normal, but I didn’t mind it that much.
I liked that he was jealous. It made me feel wanted. But I didn’t like it when he took his jealousy to an extreme.
It surprised me that the mall was half-packed, even though it was only Tuesday. I was driving around, looking for a parking space, when I saw a familiar face getting out of a car.
I drove on and finally found a spot. I quickly parked my car and locked it. I was quickly scanning the area when I spotted him walking into the mall.
Even though it wasn’t planned, I was excited that I wouldn’t be shopping alone. I made my way to the mall quickly, trying to catch up with him.
He was walking towards the entrance, looking distracted by something. I tapped him on the shoulder and moved to the other side when he turned to check who it was.
I heard him chuckle and he shook his head.
“Cassidy, I can smell your scent,” he said, turning to look at me.
“Right, keep pretending you knew I was here all along,” I told him.
“Well, I didn’t know all along. But I knew once you tapped me,” he said, raising his eyebrows.
“Micah, don’t lie,” I told him, chuckling along with him.
We were walking on the first floor, but Micah was making his way toward the escalator.
“So, what are you up too?” Micah asked me, placing his hand on the small of my back and moving me to get on the escalator.
“I’m going to buy an outfit for this Saturday,” I told him.
“What’s this Saturday?”
“I’m meeting Layton’s pack,” I said, barely audibly.
“Ah, taking the big step?”
“I guess. Layton sort of wanted to do this for a while now,” I admitted.
“What are you here to buy anyway?” I asked Micah, changing the subject. I found it strange to find him shopping in the middle of the week.
“Oh you know, the usual stuff,” he vaguely replied.
“And what exactly is, ‘the usual stuff’?” I asked him, putting air quotes on the last three words.
“Honestly, I really did come for the usual stuff. I don’t like shopping in the weekends. It’s a buzz kill. There are too many people and I can hear things from a mile away. It’s not exactly a party,” he replied, frowning.
I laughed at him, but completely agreed. Having heightened senses around a lot of people was just too much. It had taken me a while to control my senses. At first, hearing and smelling better than other people gave me major headaches.
“I’m going to go shop for a dress. What are you getting?” I asked him.
“I’m just getting a few shirts and I’m out of here. Oh, and I need a new belt,” he replied.
“How about I get what I need and leave you to your things and we meet after?” I asked him, feeling excited.
“Sounds good,” he replied with a grin.
“Okay, I’ll text you when I’m done,” I told him, starting to walk away. Micah went to the opposite side and waved before leaving.
It didn’t take me long to pick out something. I chose a casual navy blue dress. It was just above my knees and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was the right one. Since I had already made the trip, I bought a pair of flats to compliment the dress.
I texted Micah, telling him I was finished and where I was at. He replied right back, saying he would come and get me.
I walked out the store, putting my money away as I walked. I hadn’t been paying attention to where I was going and accidentally crashed with somebody.
My bag fell to the ground, and I quickly lowered myself to pick it up and apologize to the person I had bumped into.
“I am so sorry. I was putting my wallet away and I got distracted,” I said to the girl who stood in front of me.
“It’s okay. That might’ve been my fault. I wasn’t really paying attention either,” she told me, offering me a warm smile.
I let out a small laugh. We had both been distracted.
“It’s cool. We can both agree that it was mutual fault,” I said to her, a smile still on both our faces.
I was about to walk away from the girl, when I noticed Micah approach us.
“Hanna?” Micah said when he was about five feet away.
“Oh, hey,” the girl said to Micah, waving at him.
“I see you already met Cassidy,” Micah told the girl, finally standing in front of us.
Micah motioned for us to move out of the way. We had been blocking the entrance of the store. Micah moved both Hanna and me to the side.
Hanna’s features, which had seemed soft before, now seemed alert.
“I am. Do I know you?” I asked her, turning to look at Micah for help.
“Not really. I believe you know my boyfriend,” she said, raising an eyebrow.
That was when it clicked.
“Cassidy, this is Hanna, Zev’s girlfriend,” Micah said. His voice sounded strained, but I didn’t understand why.
I smiled at Hanna, feeling excited to finally meet her. She was really pretty. Her dark wavy brown hair was flowing down her back. She was wearing a girly casual dress. The lavender color matched the light makeup she had on. She had a nice soft complexion. All in all, I very much approved.
“It’s really cool to finally meet you,” I told her, outstretching my hand, even though I really wanted to hug her.
“The guys talk a lot about you. Especially Zeverus,” she said, shaking my hand. She was no longer smiling.
Micah was looking at Hanna with a guarded expression. I didn’t really understand what was going on, so I simply stayed quiet.
“Well, I think we better get going. I’ll see you later, Hanna,” Micah said, grabbing my hand.
He pulled me away, and I barely had time to wave goodbye at Hanna, who was now frowning at both Micah and me.
“Micah,” Hanna called. Her voice was firm and authoritative.
Micah stopped on his tracks. When he turned back to face Hanna, he moved me along with him because he was still holding on to me.
“I need you to take me home,” she said to him.
Micah walked back to where she stood, but he didn’t drop my hand. In any case, his grip on me grew tighter. I could feel him tense up beside me, and he was frowning at Hanna.
“You didn’t get here in your car?” he asked her.
“I did, but now I want you to drive me back. Is that a problem?” She questioned him, her tone sounding demanding.
Micah laughed at her statement, but his laugh held no humor.
“I’m the Beta of the pack, Hanna. You might want to check who you’re giving orders to with petty things,” he replied.
“If you don’t take me home right now, I’m calling Zeverus. We’ll see what he has to say about this,” she threatened him.
I couldn’t believe what was happening before my eyes.
“Go ahead and do that. He was the one who sent me here, and I have other things to do after this. He’ll just tell you what I’m telling you right now. You can drive yourself home,” Micah told her.
He didn’t falter, and it didn’t seem like he was going to back down. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t want to intervene. This was their pack, and they knew how to run their things.
“If you leave with her,” Hanna told Micah, while she scowled at me, “I’ll make sure Zeverus kicks you out of the pack,” Hanna threatened.
“Are you joking?” I asked her, feeling my insides boil at what she was saying.
“You don’t have a say in this, so stay out,” she growled at me.
“You’re right, I don’t have a say in anything. But what kind of person says what you just did?” I asked her.
“I’m not talking to you,” Hanna said, glaring at me.
“Don’t talk to her that way,” Micah warned Hanna.
“What are you going to do?” Hanna asked, and I could tell she was taunting him.
“I will tell Zev what you are doing. I bet he’ll stop listening to you once I tell him how you treated Cassidy,” Micah stated.
I didn’t understand what his comment meant, but I decided I could ask about it later, when we were alone.
“If you leave with her, it will tell me on which side you stand.”
Micah nodded his head, and gave my hand a squeeze. He had a blank expression on his face, which was something that scared me. I was a second away from telling him that I was good on my own and he should just take Hanna home. He spoke before I got the chance.
“Then I guess this is me choosing,” he said.
Micah was still holding my hand. We both walked away from Hanna, who I could hear was growling behind us. He didn’t say anything as we walked. I stayed quiet, not yet processing what had happened.
Micah took a seat on one of the tables in the food court and I left to buy us a pizza with an order of fries, and some drinks. Everything between us felt quiet, and I didn’t want to disturb that.
Our bags were in one of the chairs, and Micah sat in another, looking thoughtful.
“Will you get in trouble for that?” I asked him, taking a seat in the chair opposite of him.
“I have no idea. If I do, I’m fine with it,” he replied, taking the box of pizza and grabbing a slice.
“Can I ask you something?” I got a slice for myself and took a bite from it.
“Go for it,” he said, finishing his slice in about three or four bites.
“What exactly happened back there, because I got completely lost,” I admitted.
“Well, I may or may not have a pack when I get home.”
“Yeah, I got that part. But why did she get mad?”
“Let’s just say she’s still going through that stage where her Wolf is acting up,” Micah replied, curtly.
“Is she going back to school? How old is she?” I asked him.
“It happens as soon as we turn sixteen. She’s been at it for a few months, but she’s going back to school next semester.”
“Why is she taking it out on you? That doesn’t seem fair,” I told him.
Micah stayed quiet, and started chewing his food slower. He didn’t say anything for a while, and was looking thoughtful.
“It’s because of me, isn’t it?” I asked him softly, looking down at the slice in my hand.
“Not entirely,” Micah replied.
“Then what is the entirety of it?” I questioned, even though I knew it really was all because of me.
“It’s because of the attention you receive,” he finished saying.
I stayed quiet, processing what Micah had just said.
“I don’t mean to intrude with them,” I quietly replied, when the silence had settled in between us.
“I know. Zev looks out for you a lot, and Hanna doesn’t like it,” Micah said.
“Is that all?”
“Well, not exactly. I mean, you get a lot of attention from the people in our pack. Most of them don’t respect Hanna how she wants them to. Not that she has earned it. She wants everyone to treat her like a Luna, but we all doubt she’ll be around for long. She’s not Zev’s mate.”
“And how is that my fault?” I asked Micah.
“It’s not. Hanna just wants somebody to blame,” Micah told me, offering a smile.
“To blame for what?”
“Her relationship with Zev can be a bit rocky at times. Seeing you around is practically a reminder that her days in our pack are counted,” he said, taking a drink from his coke.
“I can’t believe all this was happening and I didn’t know,” I told Micah, resting my back on the chair, not really paying attention to my food.
“Don’t worry too much about it. Zev leaves it alone, and so should you.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, not wanting to really hear what he was about to say.
“Do you really think that Hanna doesn’t complain to Zev? She drives him insane most of the time and his parents don’t like that. It isn’t a trait they are looking for in a companion. I think Alpha Marcus just wants Zev to get rid of Hanna.”
“Why doesn’t he?” I asked, curiously.
Micah shook his head at me, and he smiled sadly. “Unfortunately, Hanna and Zev have some strange history. It has been the only thing keeping him by her side. But one of these days, Zev’s going to get tired of her shit.”
I was surprised by his harsh words, even though they left me with more questions.
“How are Zev’s parents?”
“Have you met Layton’s parents?” Micah asked me.
“Yes, I met them the day Layton marked me.”
“The Alphas are the complete opposite of them. While John is always in a good mood, Marcus is too, but he’s usually more serious. It’s the same with the Luna’s. While ours is serious and reserved, Layton’s mom is a really happy person.”
“Do you think that’s bad?” I asked him. It was strange to think that Zev’s parents were so serious, when he was the opposite of that. And Layton’s parents were usually cheerful, when Layton was usually quiet and serious.
“I’m not sure if you know this, but Zev changed a lot when he met you. It surprised everyone. If you think things were bad between the packs when you got here, you should’ve seen them when you hadn’t moved into town yet.”
“So what happened?”
“The day you got here, Zev approached you and thought you were his mate. Then he realized you weren’t his mate, but both he and his Wolf loved being around you. It drove Hanna insane because Zev made the mistake of sharing it with her. That isn’t something you really want to mention to your current girlfriend.”
I had heard some of that before, from Zev. I didn’t really know anything else, just that he had thought for a minute that I was his mate.
“Hanna went and cried to Marcus and told him that a new girl in school was a bad influence on Zev. After that, Marcus tried to get strict with Zev. He had tried it before, but it never really worked.”
“Wow,” I mumbled, not really knowing what to say.
“Then Zev just started changing on his own. He didn’t get in trouble. He did all things asked from him. I mean, he’s taking over the pack next month and everyone already knows he’s the future Alpha. We all treat him as our Alpha. But after you got here, that was when he actually started deserving the title,” Micah explained.
I sat on my chair, speechless. There was nothing I could say.
“Hanna really hates me, doesn’t she?” I asked Micah after a while.
“Well, she doesn’t exactly, you know, hate you,” Micah slowly replied, pausing after each word.
“You can tell me the truth,” I told him, already getting ready to hear it.
“I think she hates you,” he quickly muttered.
We finished eating, and drove our separate ways home. Micah followed after me until I had to take a turn that was opposite of his.
When I got home, Layton was waiting outside of my house. I walked toward him, hurrying my steps in order to get to him faster. Seeing Layton leaning next to my door, with his arms crossed— it made me feel warm and safe.
As soon as I was in front of Layton, I wrapped my arms around him. I stood on my tip toes, and nestled my head in his neck, inhaling his scent.
“Are you okay?” he asked me, wrapping his arms around my waist and giving it a squeeze.
“I am. I just missed you,” I said, only half lying. I had missed him, but I didn’t feel good.
On the way home, I couldn’t get Hanna out of my mind. She had a right to hate me. I was getting in between her relationship with Zev by being too close to him.
“I missed you too,” Layton said, holding me tighter and raising me off the ground.
“Oh you read my mind. I don’t feel like walking,” I told him with a laugh.
Layton chuckled at my words, and I felt the vibrations from his chest.
Layton carried me into the house. He took us to the living room and sat me down on one of the couches, taking a seat next to me.
“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”
I sighed loudly, and it caused Layton to let out another chuckle. It was really nice to see him in a good mood. It was a difference from how gloomy I was feeling in those moments.
“Zev’s girlfriend hates me,” I told him, looking down at my hands.
“Wait, what?” Layton asked.
“She does. I mean, Micah said it could be because of her Wolf hormones, but he also thinks she really might hate me,” I said.
“Zeverus has a girlfriend?” Layton questioned, his expression turning solemn.
“Yes, he does. But, that’s not the problem. She hates me. Hanna hates me,” I told him, looking at the distance.
Micah said Hanna wasn’t Zev’s mate. She was just his girlfriend. But he made very clear that Zev had reasons for staying with her, which meant that Hanna was important to him even if she wasn’t his mate. That thought alone depressed me. If Hanna talked to Zev and told him to stay away from me, I was scared that he would actually do it.
I understood her point of view, somewhat. For some reason, she felt threatened by me. But I really didn’t want to give up my friendship with Zev. He was my best friend.
I had been lost in my thoughts, and I didn’t realize that Layton had gotten up and was making me get up with him.
“Is it his mate?” Layton asked.
“The girlfriend, is she Zeverus’ mate?”
“No, Hanna’s not his mate, but she’s special,” I said, not knowing how to explain their relationship to Layton.
“When did they meet?”
“I’m not exactly sure. Maybe around six months ago, more or less,” I replied, shrugging.
“What?” Layton yelled. He looked furious, and I was wondering why. I doubted Zev and Hanna actually made a difference in his life.
“What’s wrong?” I asked him, wanting to know what was bothering him.
“He has had a girlfriend all this time. He’s been with her for half a year, so it must be serious. Why the hell is he still trying to take you away from me?”
He released me, and took a few steps away. I could hear his heavy breathing, and a tremble was taking over his body.
“Layton, Zev isn’t trying anything. We are just friends.”
Layton started pacing the room. His eyes were turning darker. I started getting worried when I noticed his claws coming out. It seemed like he was ready to shift, but he was holding his Wolf back.
“Why is he so interested in you if he already has someone? You are my mate, not his. Why can’t he stay away?” he asked me.
“Maybe it’s because he’s not interested in me. You just think that because you’re delusional,” I answered harshly.
Layton stalked towards me and wrapped his arms around my waist possessively.
“I don’t know what he’s trying to do by messing with my mate, but two can play at this game,” Layton said, in a threatening way.
“What are you talking about?” I questioned, narrowing my eyes at him.
“Well, if you and Zeverus are only friends, I guess it gives me the right to be friends with his girlfriend as well,” Layton replied.