“I hate it here,” I groaned while wiping the water from my eyes.
“You should’ve seen the look on your face!” Embry howled. “Priceless!”
I had once again fallen victim of yet another of Embry’s stupid stunts. I’d been the butt-end of most of his jokes for almost a month and the stress of sleeping with one eye open was beginning to take its toll. Who knew freezing the guy’s underwear ONE TIME would result in a full blown prank war?
“That’s it,” I snapped. “I’m moving out!”
“Ah, come on kitten.” He pouted, giving me his best puppy-dog eyes. “Don’t be like that. You have to admit it was kind of funny.”
“Water over the door, so original.” I rolled my eyes and stalked out the front entrance.
“I don’t care what you say, that was hilarious!” Embry cackled as he handed me a dirty towel.
“Ew, gross!” I exclaimed while flinching away from the putrid rag. “It smells like wet dog!”
“That’s because I used it to dry off after my last hunt!” Embry doubled over in a fit of hysterics while clutching his side. “Two for one! Oh Goddess, your face! I can’t breathe!”
“I hate you,” I muttered.
“Don’t be like that doll face,” He snickered. “You know you love me!”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” I sneered.
“We both know I’m your only friend in the whole wide world,” he teased while nudging my shoulder a bit.
“Yeah, and whose fault is that?” I hissed, growing tired of him.
“Hey, you took the blame. I didn’t ask you to do that,” he shrugged. “I would have happily taken the lashing.”
Lashing? I pondered his strange proclamation for a moment before it clicked.
I’d nearly forgotten that the rest of the pack still thought Dean had taken me away to punish me privately. There were rumors among the omegas that I had been threatened and nearly kicked out. Little did they know that I had spent the rest of that day getting hammered with our dreamy fearless leader!
“Oh, yeah.” I falsely recalled. “I almost forgot. Yeah, that was rough.”
“Was it?” Embry questioned with a suspicious look on his face. “Because you didn’t seem too upset when you came back, and you haven’t mentioned it at all in almost a month.”
“What’d you want me to do? Cry about it?” I scoffed.
“No, of course not.” He shrugged. “But seeing you come back drunk off your ass and in one piece was kind of a shock.”
“First of all,” I frowned. “I wasn’t that drunk. Second, of course I came back in one piece! Alpha just wanted a word with me, that’s all.”
“Oh, trust me. You were wasted,” he laughed. “I’m surprised you could even speak to him since you’re usually too busy drooling over him.”
“I am not!” I gasped. “I’m not even interested in him.”
“Liar,” Embry disputed. “Admit it, you loved riding his big hog. Didn’t you?”
“His what?!” I blushed.
“Ya know, his steel stallion.” He wiggled his brow in amusement. “I’m talking about his Heaven on wheels, you naughty girl!”
“Her name is Roxy,” I sneered.
“So instead of punishing you,” he interrogated while smoothing his long black hair back. “He introduced you to his bike and poured booze down your throat.”
“That’s not how it-!” I tried to argue but realized that that’s exactly what happened. “I don’t have to explain myself to you. I learned my lesson and I’ve moved on. Besides, don’t you think being shunned by most of the pack has been punishment enough?”
“And by most of the pack, you mean Sam.” Embry clarified while rolling his big grey eyes.
Not only was Sam still refusing to speak to me, but now so was Shane and Bobby! Ever since Alpha forced them to switch rooms with Nick and Dawn, they’ve totally shunned me. Of course, Embry was more than happy to steal the couple’s former love nest. Dean had made it abundantly clear that he didn’t want me sleeping on the floor, so that left Embry’s dumpy old cot to be shared between Shane and Bobby. This lasted less than a day before Shane decided to start sleeping on the front porch. Poor guy.
That left Embry. My only friend in the world that apparently doubled as my personal bodyguard. Either way you looked at it, I had been spending a lot of quality time with the guy. Sure, it was nice in the beginning. He was funny and charismatic, some may say he was a total hoot. But after being the punchline of most of his jokes and petty jests for nearly a month, the asshole was starting to test my very last nerve.
But I guess that’s family. Sometimes they ignore you and sometimes they can annoy the crap out of you. The entire pack dynamic reminded me of growing up in a house full of sisters and dads. I felt right at home among my furry housemates, I just wished that they’d stop parting like the red sea whenever I was around. It kind of hurt my feelings, especially with how close I had been becoming with Sam.
Before the entire ‘sleeping with Embry’ incident occurred, she and I would loung around the cabin together. We used to rock out to some of the classics and dance around like idiots while we waited for everyone else to return from their daily duties. Now, Sam avoided being in the cabin as much as possible and would hightail it out of here every chance she got. After three weeks of missing out on time with my new friend over some petty rumor, I’d had enough.
“I don’t get why she still hates me,” I ranted. “Nothing happened between us and I don’t even know why she would care if there was. What are you guys anyway?”
“Friends,” he shrugged. “Or at least I think we’re still friends. She’s kinda been giving me the cold shoulder too.”
“I need to talk to her,” I exclaimed.
“Bad idea,” Embry cringed. “When she’s this pissed it’s best to just ignore her. That’s what I do.”
“That’s a terrible idea,” I hissed while turning to inspect a head of nearly snow white hair heading into the woods. “I’m gonna talk to her.”
I stood to follow the platinum blond into the trees before I lost the nerve. Embry’s feet kicked up dirt and rocks behind me as he jogged to keep up with my hasty pace.
“Whoa whoa whoa,” he tugged my shoulder to a halt. “You’re not following a homicidal she-wolf into the woods alone! She still hates you and will tear you apart before you can get a word out. Trust me. Let. It. Go.”
“I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself,” I brushed him off and stepped into the overgrown foliage head on. “I’ll scream if I need ya!”
Embry huffed but thankfully allowed me to continue my journey on my own. I may not have known Sam for that long, but I knew for sure that ignoring her would cause more problems than it would fix.
I followed her unique scent of vinyl and lemons through the dense forest and prayed that she was near. After a few minutes of hot pursuit, I finally caught a glimpse of her short golden locks in the distance.
“Sam!” I called out to her. “Hey! Wait up!”
“What the hell do you want?” Sam snapped as she whipped her head around to glare at me.
“I just want to talk,” I explained. “Do you have a sec-?”
“No!” She cut me off when I caught up with her.
“Well, I’m gonna talk anyways.” I sighed. “Look, I’m still not sure what I did but I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to piss you off and I had no idea you liked Embry-.”
“I don’t like Embry.” She interrupted. “Why the hell do you think this is about him?”
“Because it is?” I questioned. “Right?”
“Let me make something extremely clear to you,” she growled while stepping forward and getting right into my face. “Embry and I are not a thing. We’re not together and we never will be. I don’t want him and I don’t care what he does or who he fucks. Got it?”
“I-,” I tried to speak but she wasn’t finished.
“If he wants to fuck the first doe-eyed hussy that laughs at his shitty jokes, then he can.” She scoffed venomously. “If he wants some weak spineless runaway to be his mate, then that’s his choice. So go ahead and keep fucking him! See if I care!”
“We didn’t-!” I argued.
“Who cares?! Not me!” A menacing laugh fell from her pink lips. “You two can jump off a cliff together for all I care! We are never going to be together, and if that no-life loser sent you out here to talk to me for him then you can tell him to go fuck himself!”
“He didn’t tel-!” I wheezed as my back hit a tree.
“I will never be his mate!” Sam screamed at me, baring her sharp canines when she did. “I rejected him! Okay?! So why the hell would I care who he sleeps with?!”
"Sam pleas-,” I was getting a little scared at this point.
“I hope you two have a great fucking life together!” She smiled while jabbing me with one of her lengthy talons. “I hope you have a nice fucking house and a litter of whiny little hybrid pups! Because that piece of shit could never have me! So, the next time you fuck him you-!”
“I NEVER SLEPT WITH EMBRY!” I shrieked at the top of my lungs.
Sam took a sudden step back at my outburst and stared at me in disbelief. She seemed to be genuinely surprised by my admission, before deciding that it was bullshit.
“But-!” She attempted to argue but I refused to sit back and continue to be verbally assaulted.
“He was teasing me about having a crush on Alpha and wrestled me to the ground when I started beating him with a pillow to shut him up!” I blurted in a single breath. “That’s all that happened! There’s nothing going on between us, I swear to the Goddess!”
“But you were-,” she began.
“Nothing!” I repeated. “Absolutely nothing happened! You’re pissed about nothing! I don’t like him, I’ve never even seen him in that way. We’re friends! That’s it!”
“I knew that,” she muttered while pointing her sad blue eyes to the ground. “I wasn’t even mad about that.”
“Then what the hell are you mad about?!” I yelled. “Because I am sick of the fucking games! You haven’t talked to me, looked at me, ate with me, or stayed back at the pack house with me in three weeks! You ignore me when I speak to you and you curl your lip every time I’m around. What could I have possibly done to make you hate me this much?!”
“Well, um.” She took a second to think. “You talked shit about me to Alpha!”
“That is such a freaking lie and you know it!” I shouted. “I took the blame for what happened because you looked like you were gonna piss yourself! I stood up for you!”
“Why would you do that?” Sam inquired. “I never asked you to do that, so why the hell did you?”
“Because you’re one of my best friends!” I exclaimed. “Or at least you were before you started acting like such a bitch!”
“Fuck you, Tessa!” She snarled.
“No! Fuck you, Sam!” I snarled right back. “I came out here to apologize for something that I never even did so you’d stop acting like a fucking child! But if you want to keep trying to find bullshit excuses to hate me then go ahead! Because I don’t give a damn anymore!”
“What are you gonna do?” Sam challenged. “Scratch my eyes out?”
“Why would I-?” I looked down and quickly retracted my claws that I hadn’t realized were out.
“That’s what I thought,” she scoffed and began to walk away.
“Cut the shit!” I ordered while grabbing her arm. “This whole ‘I-don’t-care-about-anyone-but-myself’ charade is getting old. I didn’t come out here to fight, I came out here to get my best friend back. Let me know when you find her.”
I then spun on my heel and stomped off. I was in the middle of trying to navigate my way out of the thick woods when Sam called out to me.
“Wait,” she sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“What was that?” I asked while turning around, convinced that I had misheard her.
“I said I was sorry!” She groaned. “Look, I’m not good with the whole apology thing. Truth is, I kinda missed you and I wanna go back to being friends. Cool?”
“Of course!” I smiled and wrapped my arms around her in a one sided embrace.
“You really didn’t sleep with him?” She whispered into my hair brokenly.
“Never,” I promised. I didn’t know what the hell was going on between them but I think the idea of Embry and I being together hurt her more than she’d ever admit.
“Thank the Goddess,” she breathed a sigh of relief while hugging me back tightly.
We released one another in a fit of giggles as we made our way back to the cabin arm in arm. Sam seemed to be laughing a lot more than I had been and I was growing suspicious.
“What’s so funny?” I nudged her.
“Nothing,” she smiled widely. “I just didn’t know you had a thing for Alpha, that’s all.”
“I do not!” I snipped.
“Liar!” Sam teased. “You so wanna bang him!”
“Shut up,” I rolled my eyes.
“You didn’t deny it!” Sam chirped. “Ha! I knew it!”
“And you totally wanna bang Embry,” I accused.
“Do not!” Sam denied.
“Liar!” I mocked. “It’s fine, I won’t tell him. I doubt he’d survive another ego boost.”
“Whatever,” she rolled her eyes and leaned into me. “But just so you know, Alpha is like emotionally unavailable. I’ve never seen the guy so much as check out a woman’s ass!”
“Maybe he’s not an ass guy?” I defended. “Not that I care!”
“I thought we were over the whole ‘I-don’t-care-about-anyone’ facade,” Sam reminded me. “And besides, even if he isn’t an ass guy there’d be no way he could resist the girls.”
She puffed her chest out dramatically, putting her large bust on display. I hated to admit it but she was kind of right. Even I, a straight woman with no desire for her or any other female, found her perky mounds to be almost impossible to ignore. Those things were huge!
“What’s your point?” I asked in hopes that we could stop talking about her boobs.
“My point is, don’t get too attached.” She warned. “I just don’t want you to get hurt if he’s not interested in you.”
“I won’t,” I assured her. “I just want to know more about him. I mean, the guy is hardly ever here. What the heck does he do all day?”
“He’s an Alpha,” Sam shrugged. “He’s got a lot of responsibilities. It’s his job to run an entire pack.”
“Yeah, of like seven people.” I sassed.
“Seven? Ha!” Sam chortled. “Try three-thousand, at least!”
“Wait, what?” I stopped walking and stared at her.
“You thought it was just us?” She snickered. “We’re just a part of his travel pack. Everyone else is in the U.P.”
I was completely dumbfounded. I mean, it made sense for him to have a travel pack that could accompany him when he needed to sign treaties and gather supplies. I just never expected him to be responsible for over three-thousand lives.
“I lived in Michigan my entire life, how come I never heard of any packs in the upper peninsula?” I wondered.
“Because it’s a secret,” Sam revealed. “I’m not really sure why, but we’re not supposed to talk about it at all. So don’t say anything.”
“I won’t,” I vowed. “But is that really all you know?”
“Well, I know the main pack is basically a sanctuary for lost or rogue wolves.” She explained. “Most packs will put a rogue wolf down on sight, but Alpha makes a point of taking in every stray that catches his eye.”
“So, me.” I huffed.
“And me, Embry, Nick, Dawn, Shane, and Bobby.” Sam smiled. “He’s got a soft spot for broken shifters I guess.”
“But why does he want the main pack to remain a secret?” I asked. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to advertise that he takes in rogues? That way he could help twice as many wolves.”
“I don’t think that’d be a good idea,” she argued. “I’m not exactly sure why he’s so adamant about us keeping the main pack a secret, but I’m pretty sure the vamps have something to do with it.”
“Vampires?” I gasped.
“Yep, little fucking parasites.” Sam shuddered. “All it takes is one finding out where we live. Hundreds of wolves wouldn’t live to see tomorrow. It’d be a slaughter.”
“I forgot they were so deadly to you guys,” I murmured. “My kind just finds them super annoying.”
“One bite to us is fatal,” she muttered. “That’s why we don’t talk about the main pack. If something happens to us that’s fine. Seven deaths are better than seven-hundred.”
“I get it,” I agreed. “No one can know about the main pack, not with that many lives at stake.”
“I’m glad you understand,” Sam grinned and continued walking.
“Is there anything else I should know about?” I asked.
“Not really,” she flipped her hair back while thinking for a moment. “I know there was some big migration at some point but that’s all I know. You’d have to ask Embry if you wanted to know more since he’s been with Alpha the longest.”
“He has?” I was learning more from this ten minute conversation with Sam than I had in nearly a month spent with Embry.
“Yeah, he’s been with Alpha for like nine years.” Sam disclosed. “I’ve only been here for two, and I don’t really ask a ton of questions.”
“Well that’s helpful,” I rolled my eyes. “I’ve been with Embry everyday for weeks and he’s told me just about everything there is to know about Lycans. Why didn’t he mention any of this?”
“If there’s one thing to know about Em, it’s that he is a master of deflection.” Sam waved her arm in front of us in a rainbow shape. “If he doesn’t want a conversation to go a certain way, it won’t. The man can lead a discussion about death and destruction to a serious debate about unicorn farts. You have to be very specific and focused if you want any real information out of him, because he will avoid disclosing as much as he can.”
“That weasel!” I gulped. “This entire time I thought I was swindling secrets out of him.”
“When he was probably blowing a ton of useless info up your ass to keep you away from the good stuff.” Sam finished. “Yep, that’s Embry. That’s what makes him such a great Delta. Pack security is always his number one priority. He makes keeping us safe look so easy and effortless.”
“Get the playful flirty guy to be the pack guard,” I wanted to punch myself. “Of course! It’s all a distraction!”
“Mhm,” she nodded. “You fell for it beautifully too. The nicknames, the cheek kisses, even all of the pranks.”
“I guess him being my friend and the hopeless gentlemen act is a diversion too,” I sneered.
“Actually those are real,” Sam jumped to his defense. “He really does like you and his mama raised him to respect women. He couldn’t let you open a door for him if he tried.”
“That’s comforting,” I rolled my eyes as we made it out of the woods and caught a glimpse of Embry leaning against the side of the pack house.
“Wanna know his biggest weakness?” Sam asked quietly, earning an eager nod out of me.
“Well, duh!” I expressed excitedly.
“He can’t stand it when people are mad at him,” she whispered. “He was fine when it was just me because I’m always pissed, but if you pretended to hate him for a few days he’d be following us around like a lost puppy. Then he’d tell you whatever you wanted to know. It’s so easy!”
“Is that so?” I asked as we strutted closer to the unknowing buffoon.
“Nice to see you ladies together again!” Embry winked and sauntered over to us.
Now that Sam had pointed it out to me, I could see right through it. The big cheesy smile and the prolonged eye contact that he would suddenly break, making you crave more. He was charming and good at what he did, I had to give him that.
The idiot had no idea what was coming. Instead of acknowledging him and going over a small rundown of everything that happened, I ignored him. Sam and I pointed our noses into the air in unison and walked into the pack house without another word.
“Um, hello?” Embry called out to us. “What’d I do?”
“Like you don’t know!” I hissed angrily before Sam slammed the front door in his face.
We bolted into our room and fell onto my bunk in a bundle of giggles. I doubled over and clutched my side as I struggled to contain myself.
“See? Too easy!” Sam snorted with tears in her eyes.
Something told me that we were playing a dangerous game with Embry, but at that moment I couldn’t care less. I had my bestie back and that was all that mattered.