I awoke to the disturbing sound of someone violently gagging outside of my bedroom window. I sat up and groggily wiped the sleep from my eyes as I decided to investigate. Just as my feet touched the cold wood floor of the cabin, I shot my gaze down to be sure that I wasn’t about to step on Embry’s head, momentarily forgetting that he slept beneath me.
His empty cot stared back at me with his pillow and blanket in total disarray. That was odd. Considering the fact that he had been out howling at the moon all night, I assumed he’d be sleeping in. The horrid retching continued, jolting me from my tired stupor. I glanced around the room quickly to see if anyone else had heard the incessant dry heaving, but was shocked to find that I was completely alone.
How long had I slept? I wondered.
Sure, I had stayed up most of the night talking to Dean but that wouldn’t cause me to sleep the day away. Besides, I was sure that I had gone to bed listening to the peaceful chorus of melodic howls in the distance. Nonetheless, I shook the thoughts away and got dressed. I threw on a pair of faded jeans and my dad’s denim jacket, choosing to wrap my hair in a quick side braid to complete my lazy look.
“Oh, dear Goddess-!” a masculine voice cried from outside, scaring the absolute shit out of me. “Why?!”
The voice sounded all too familiar and a pang of worry struck my system.
I flung open the door to find an empty cabin awaiting me. Deciding to worry about everyone’s whereabouts later, I ran out of the pack-house and toward the insufferable wails of anguish.
As I rounded the corner toward the back of the tiny hut, I found a half naked Embry doubled over in pain. He was filthy and his entire face was beet red as blood fell from his lips. Moisture pooled in his eyes as he continued to dry-heave, steadying himself against the wall of the cabin.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!” Embry snapped while hocking a loogie at the ground aggressively. “How could you do this to me?”
“What’d I do?” I asked in utter shock, never seeing him like this before.
He snapped his head up and squinted his massive grey eyes in my direction for a few seconds before recognizing me. He attempted to shoot me one of his big toothy grins, but was interrupted by another sudden urge to hurl. He projectile vomited into a small bush behind our humble abode and sunk to his knees beside it.
“Sorry, doll-face.” He coughed out, now breaking into a cold sweat. “Didn’t see ya there.”
“Holy shit, are you okay?” I ran over to him to see what the hell was going on.
His skin was clammy to the touch and he had taken on an unsightly green hue. He stunk of sweat as dried vomit clung to his muddy basketball shorts. His long dark hair was hanging in soggy ringlets around his face and his bare chest was still heaving, giving me the impression that he was having trouble breathing.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Embry uttered sarcastically. “Don’t worry about it, princess. Really, I’m good.”
“Well, you don’t look good!” I blurted during my best attempt of helping this behemoth off of the ground. “What the hell happened?”
“The dipshit decided to eat a skunk last night!” Sam chirped while emerging from the forest. Her short blond hair was a matted mess and she was in desperate need of a shower.
“I didn’t decide to eat anything!” Embry held back another gag. “This is his fault!”
“Whose?” I inquired, wondering who the hell I had to fuck up for hurting my friend.
I had grown quite fond of he and Sam over the weeks, and now that I knew my place in the pack was permanent I hoped our newfound friendship would be as well.
“His wolf,” Sam answered for him as he took in a deep breath.
“I told the fucking moron to back off,” he grumbled as his eyes looked off into the distance for a moment. “Yes! You! Fucking hard headed mutt!”
“Can someone please tell me what the hell is going on here?” I pleaded with Sam as I rubbed Embry’s back lightly.
“His wolf ate a skunk, what’s not to get?” Sam rolled her eyes, clearly annoyed at having to explain everything to me like I was a small child.
“I don’t think she follows,” Embry concluded aloud. “Sometimes my wolf likes to be stubborn and do whatever the hell he wants, hence the stench.”
“Like, he has mind of his own?” I inquired, still not fully grasping the situation.
“Oh my Goddess Tess, don’t you have a cat or something?” Sam cocked a brow at me.
“If you’re asking if I can shift into my feline counterpart,” I tried to ignore her bitchiness. “Then yes, I can. I’m still me, though.”
“Wait, so your cat doesn’t talk to you or anything?” She questioned.
“What?!” I was taken aback. “No! Why would it?”
“Oh,” Embry muttered. “Then we must sound fucking nuts!”
“Are either of you going to tell me what the hell you’re talking about?” I snapped, growing tired of this little game they seemed to be playing with me.
“Well,” Sam began. “We can communicate with our wolves, and they talk back. Kind of.”
I waited for the punchline, but it never came. I raised my brows to show that I was still confused and thankfully, Embry continued.
“No seriously,” he confirmed. “Usually we start out as one growing up, but at about eighteen our wolves start to develop a mind of their own. After a while, it’s kind of like having a little buddy in your head.”
“What?” I uttered, totally confused. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why the hell does that happen?”
“Well as we get older things start to get harder,” Sam shrugged. “Balancing the human part of us with the wolf inside can start to take its toll after a while. That’s why the Goddess gifted us with a separate consciousness. That way, the human part can focus on people things while the wolf focuses on pack things.”
“Yeah, like I can’t hunt worth a damn.” Embry clarified. “But he can track a deer from ten miles away.”
“But he didn’t know that eating a skunk would be a bad idea?” I challenged.
“I never said he was smart,” he shrugged. “But he’s mine, so I gotta love him.”
This whole concept about having a wolf talking to them was interesting, but a total mind-fuck at the same time. I stood there quietly for a few minutes, deciding to just go with the new bit of information I had learned.
“So,” I began. “You just have a wolf talking to you all day?”
“Well, kind of.” Embry spit out the remaining putrid taste before continuing. “They don’t really speak in full sentences like you and I.”
“Yeah,” Sam agreed. “It’s more like a jumble of broken words with a vision of what they want to do or say thrown in. Sometimes it’s funny.”
“And sometimes its just fucking gross,” Embry shuddered.
“What the hell! Now I kind of want a wolf,” I pouted as the three of us made our way back into the cabin. “Wait, Alpha said something about them not accepting me yet. Why is that?”
“Well mittens, they haven’t met you yet.” Embry nudged my shoulder. “It’d be kind of hard to accept you if they don’t know you. They’re different beings, which means you won’t have the same relationship with me as you would with him.”
“But can’t he see me?” I asked upon entering the sitting room. “You made it sound like you watched him eat the skunk, so wouldn’t he be watching us right now?”
“Sure, sometimes they eavesdrop.” Sam shrugged. “But only if they think something’s interesting, other times they just sleep.”
“Like right now, since you’re talking about him he’s listening.” Embry informed me. “But later on when I take a shower, he’ll be long gone. Waiting to get let out again, same with us when they take over.”
“But they still don’t know me?” I asked. “He’s watching me right now, but he still wouldn’t accept me if we met.”
“I mean, he might.” Embry rubbed the back of his neck in deep thought. “But he said if you touch his favorite tree, you’re a dead woman.”
“Wait, WHAT?!” I exclaimed. “He just said that? What the hell, what tree?!”
“Mine thinks you’re annoying and whiny,” Sam butted in with a smirk. “Thanks for asking, by the way.”
“My head hurts,” I admitted while rubbing my temples. This was too much.
“Yeah, I get it.” Embry tried to comfort me, but his breath was rancid from whatever he had eaten the previous night and was a bit distracting. “It’s hard being a newbie.”
“It’s worse having to smell you,” Sam snapped. “Go take a shower, you smell like ass!”
Embry mocked her for a moment before sniffing himself. His head jerked back in surprise of his own odor and he made a bee-line for the bathroom.
“Later ladies,” he waved before shutting the door firmly behind him.
I took this as my cue to begin my daily chores. I soon gathered that most of the pack had slept in the woods last night, which would explain why the cabin had been empty this morning. I was disappointed to learn that Dean had already left for the day. I fought the urge to daydream about him while I cleaned the mountain of dishes that had magically appeared overnight, but it was a battle I would soon lose.
I was still in awe at how wonderful our talk had been last night. At first, I thought he was kind of dreamy but freaking horrifying. Now I realized he seemed to be a really nice guy who was easy to talk to. Hell, I had opened up to him a lot last night. I admitted things that I never even planned on telling Sam or Embry, yet the words fell from my lips like a stream of honesty when he looked at me with those gorgeous emerald eyes.
Speaking of gorgeous, the man was a f-ing adonis! I’d never taken the time to really study him that close before, but now that I have all I wanted to do was explore every inch of him. I longed to feel every morsel of solid muscle beneath my finger tips. Oh, how I dreamt of running my hands through that thick head of curls. Just the thought of tasting those big juicy lips of his had me purring like a damn house cat!
“Get it together,” I whispered to myself as the water continued to run down the now empty sink. Who knew fantasizing about all that man-meat would pass the time so swiftly?
I looked around to make sure no one had seen my little episode, knowing damn well that I must’ve made myself blush by now. Just as I was thanking my lucky stars that no one had been around to witness my aroused display, the front door opened. I squealed out in surprise as luscious ebony locks bounced into the living room.
Speak of the freaking devil!
Green eyes that seemed to stare directly into my soul bore into me from across the room. I swear, I could faint. Nobody should be that perfect. He gave me a wry smile before looking past me to study the kitchen.
“I thought I told you not to do all of the chores,” Dean mentioned sternly.
“Oh, I just did the dishes.” I lied, I had cleaned most of the cabin while everyone showered.
“Liar,” he replied with a knowing glare. “Be sure to allow Sam to do them tomorrow. I will ban you from chores if I need to.”
“Sorry,” I bowed my head.
It seemed our relationship had fallen back to square one overnight. Gone was the friendly banter that had kept me talking until sunrise. He was back to being the big scary Alpha and I was nothing more than one of his many pack mates that served beneath him. I felt so stupid.
He told me he did that with all the new pack members, I reminded myself. Why did I think I was so special?
With that, I decided to allow myself to be seen and not heard. I stood in the kitchen studying my shoes as I waited for him to leave again. The day was still young, so I doubted he’d be here for much longer. The man was always busy, either running off on his bike to attend to ‘pack business’ or outside ordering the others around.
He stepped past me to grab something from a high shelf, motioning for me to move aside as he did. The action wasn’t rude, but it was cold. I flinched away to avoid coming into contact with his exposed arm, fearing that I might explode if I touched him. He stopped beside me and nudged my shoulder lightly, causing me to meet his eyes momentarily.
“I won’t bite,” he joked with his hand up in a solemn vow. “Scouts honor.”
He smiled widely, a motion that I mimicked instantly. Okay so maybe we were still friends. He had mentioned that I could call him by his name when the pack wasn’t around, maybe that was why he was acting like this. Sure, we were the only two in the kitchen. But Lycans had incredible hearing and I knew of three that were surrounding the cabin as we spoke.
He’s their boss, I reminded myself. It would be very unprofessional to act like besties with any of them around.
As if assuring me that my thoughts were correct, Dean winked at me before heading out the door again. His little friendly gesture was almost enough to knock me flat on my ass! I needed to calm down.
I eventually forced my wobbly legs to lead me into my room, only to collapse onto my bunk as soon as I entered. Embry napped peacefully on the floor beside me, or so I thought. I leaned back on the lumpy mattress as I did my best to control my breathing. I was having mixed feelings about Dean at the moment, but one thing was for sure. I had a huge crush on my Alpha, and it was becoming a problem.
“That bad, huh?” Embry muttered from the floor, causing my breath to catch in my throat.
“What are you talking about?” I wheezed.
“Oh, don’t play coy!” He chuckled. “Dirty girl. You have the hot’s for Alpha!”
“What?!” I whisper shouted as my face burned with embarrassment. “No I don’t!”
“Liar!” He whisper shouted back. “You know Lycans can hear heart beats right? Yours started pounding as soon as he walked in, gave you away instantly.”
“Because he’s big and scary!” I argued. “Not because I like him!”
“Then why were you all weak in the knees when you hobbled in here?” Embry teased. “Admit it, you wanna ride his hog don’t cha?”
“Don’t worry, kitten!” Embry teased. “He doesn’t bite, scouts honor!”
“Screw you!” I hissed.
“Princess and Alpha, sitting in a tree!” The asshole chanted. "K-I-S-S-I-!”
I didn’t have words, all I could do was react. I grabbed my pillow and hurled it at his unsuspecting face as hard as I could. He grunted out in surprise before bursting out into a loud fit of hearty laughter.
“I knew it!” He cackled while rolling around on the ground.
“Fuck off!” I snapped while picking up my pillow, only to bring it down upon his smug little face again.
He allowed me to assault him for a few more hits before ripping the bag of fluff out of my hands. Giving me a shit eating grin, he grabbed my ankle with his free hand and gator rolled to the other side, dragging me with him. I fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes, and was instantly pulled into a tight embrace. Embry locked his arms around my torso like a vice as he snaked his legs around my thighs, trapping me.
“Let me go!” I struggled furiously. “You fucking asshole!”
“Not till you admit that you have a thing for Alpha,” Embry teased while pressing his cheek against my forehead. “Come on, you know you wouldn’t be struggling this much if I was him.”
“I don’t-! You’re such a-!” I writhed around but he held me tighter. “Fuck you!”
"Fuck me? Or fuck him? Oh, decisions!" He giggled into my ear. "Tell me sweetums, do you always purr when you do the dishes? Or just when you're picturing our fearless leader naked?"
Was he a fucking mind reader?!
"I wasn't!" I argued.
"You know, I'm kind of hurt." He feigned heartache. "I thought what we had was special."
"You're about to be hurt in a minute if you don't let me go!" I warned.
"Oh Alpha, please don't be mad that I did all the dishes!" He mocked in a womanly voice, making it hard not to laugh. "I'd be more than happy to show my appreciation for you letting me stay in other ways!"
"Shut up!" I scoffed, turning a deep shade of crimson.
The front door of the cabin swung open, much to my horror. We both fell silent for a few moments as we listened to someone rummage around in the kitchen. I tried to pull away from his grasp, but damn the man was strong! He wasn’t hurting me at all but the fact that he was restraining me so easily was super annoying. His grip reminded me of the time my sister Grace had managed to get me in a choke hold when we were kids. Hell, if I wasn’t so focused on getting away from him I would’ve been able to fall asleep. It was kind of comfortable if I was being honest with myself.
My level of comfort suddenly faded as I heard the sound of heavy boots making their way toward us. The light that shown beneath the thin door was shrouded by a dark figure. I wiggled as much as I could in hopes that Embry would let me go, but it became very clear that I wasn’t going anywhere. I turned my head to look directly at him, only to find that he was fighting the urge to burst out laughing.
“Let. Me. Go.” I mouthed angrily.
“You. Love. Alpha.” He mouthed back, snickering.
Raw, untapped anger bubbled within me as I decided to do what any sane person would in my predicament. I bared my monstrous fangs and bit down on the muscular flesh of my friend’s arm. He hissed at the pain slightly before laughing it off.
“Oh, kinky!” Embry exclaimed loud enough for anyone within ten feet of the cabin to hear. I smacked his bloody arm but it was too late.
Our little spat was interrupted by the bedroom door creaking open, slowly. My heart stopped as someone’s head peaked around the corner. Fortunately for me, I had no problem seeing in the dark and could easily make out Bobby’s face in the dim lighting. Unfortunately for me, he didn’t have an issue seeing in the dark either and quickly assumed that he had walked in on something dirty.
Kill. Me. Now.
I was still facing Embry, his mouth no more than an inch from mine. Of course, this had to look horrible. I hadn’t really noticed that Em had been truly trying to take a nap when I came in here. But now it dawned on me that in all the weeks I’d known him, the man only napped in his underwear. Today, being no exception.
“Holy shi-” Bobby muttered from the doorway.
“It is not what it looks like!” I blurted, still struggling to get away from the half naked giant that was holding me like a teddy bear.
“Um,” Embry exclaimed in mock fury. “Do you mind?!”
With that, Bobby was gone. He slammed the door behind him and ran out of the pack house chortling, likely ready to weave a fictitious tale of what he had just witnessed to anyone that would listen. Another thing to note, Lycans loved to gossip apparently!
“Oh my God!” I scratched at his arms. “He’s gonna tell everyone!”
“Oh, I hope so!” Embry snorted loudly, tears falling from his eyes as he wheezed with laughter.
This time when I hit his wounded arm, he finally let go. I crawled away from him and stood quickly. He roared hilariously at what had just happened, and I couldn’t help but laugh with him. It was kind of funny.
“You’re such an ASSHOLE!” I berated him. “Now everyone's gonna think-!”
“That we fucked!” He cried out. “HA!”
We sat there giggling amongst ourselves for a few minutes before hearing the front door slam open again. Thunderous footsteps pounded towards us and only one name filled my mind: Dean!
“Oh no,” Embry’s face deadpanned, clearly recognizing the danger that we were both in.
He scrambled to find his pants as I dove into my bed, hoping that it would make me look less suspicious. It’s amazing how guilty I felt considering I really didn’t do anything wrong. Embry had just begun to slip into a pair of faded jeans when somebody damn near kicked the door down.
This is it! I screamed internally, knowing that I was about to watch my friend get torn to shreds right in front of me.
I hid my face in my hands to avoid looking at the carnage that I knew would soon follow. A low growl vibrated the door frame and I expected to hear the sound of blood splatter any second now.
“What the HELL?!” A feminine voice shouted from the doorway.
“It’s not what it looks like!” Embry exclaimed as he struggled to zip up his jeans. “Tessa, tell her!”
“Um,” I stared on in shock as brilliant blue eyes glared at me wildly. “Sam?!”
A ferocious snarl erupted from her chest as she stalked closer to me. Thick talons extended from her fingernails as she flashed her lengthy canines. She lunged forward without warning, and I learned two things in the split second it took for her to reach me.
One, Sam was insanely fast when she wanted to be.
And two, I was so dead!