I woke up in a butt load of pain. My brain pounded against the rock hard encasing of my skull, giving me a blinding headache. My mouth was dry and every joint in my body ached like I had been thrown down a flight of stairs.
Opening my eyes was nearly impossible due to the blinding sunlight that was seeping into the crusty bar. The saloon’s door was left wide open, allowing an obscene amount of light and cool air in.
I stretched a bit before realizing I was laying on something warm and solid. I cracked my eyelids open briefly to see that I had my head resting on the strong lap of someone. I ignored it for a few moments, being far too comfortable to move when memories from last night began flooding back to me.
The last thing I recalled was breaking into the bar with Dean and something white running in here.
My eyes shot open as I hurled my body into an upright position. I clutched my temple at the sudden motion and glanced over to see Dean leaning against the bar beside me.
I peeked at his lap momentarily, only to be met with the sight of several stray strands of my long black hair resting against his faded jeans. A dead giveaway that I had likely slept there all night.
“Morning,” he groaned out hoarsely in the sexiest morning voice I’d ever heard in my entire life.
His long ebony curls hung in soft ringlets around his face while he rubbed the dreams out of his emerald eyes. He had a muscular arm resting behind his head, giving me a tiny view of his chiseled stomach. My face lit up at the sight of him.
How is it possible for anyone to look this perfect in the morning?! I thought enviously.
“Good morning,” I finally replied. “Sorry about that.”
“Don’t be,” he smirked tiredly. “I didn’t mind. You were warm.”
“I’ll be your personal heater if ya want,” I muttered.
He side eyed me and chuckled slightly, causing my face to burn with embarrassment. I didn’t realize I had said that outloud!
Am I still drunk?
I giggled nervously and attempted to stand, wishing to be anywhere but here. I made it to a crouching position before my sore legs gave out. I plopped back down on my bum and huffed loudly. I took another deep breath to ready myself for a second attempt but Dean cut me off.
“Don’t strain yourself,” he muttered. “Just sober up for a while, the pack can’t leave without us.”
“It’d still be rude to keep them waiting,” I rebuked while leaning against the bar. “They were so excited to go home.”
“They’ll be there by tonight,” he waved. “It’s only a six to seven hour drive and we’re not leaving until noon anyway.”
“What time is it?” I inquired curiously.
“I’d say almost ten,” he moaned while stretching.
I had to turn away as the sight of his thick muscles stretching the thin fabric of his shirt was becoming too much for me. His bones cracked slightly as he moved and I didn’t even realize I found that attractive until now. My cheeks flushed as I did my best to stand once again in hopes that he wouldn’t notice.
After taking a few moments to gain my footing, I flashed a nervous smile before making my way into the women’s restroom to clean myself up. My face felt greasy and my mouth tasted of stagnant liquor.
Upon peering into the cracked mirror of the dank bar’s bathroom, I sucked in a shallow breath. I looked horrible! My hair was a frizzy mess and my bright brown eyes had hideous dark bags beneath them. My left cheek had deep red lines of where I had been pressed against Dean’s jeans for the majority of the night, and my breath smelled like a dumpster.
This is so unfair! I gasped internally. Why do I have to wake up looking like a homeless person when he just seems to roll out of bed as the epitome of perfection?!
“Kill me,” I muttered as I took a handful of water and patted it into my oily pores.
I rinsed my mouth out as I was washing my face, willing to do anything to get the putrid taste of fermented peppermint out of my mouth. I then brushed through my matted locks with my fingers, painfully dragging each knot out until my hair had returned to it’s shiny waves. I finished my business quickly and walked out when I was somewhat pleased with my appearance.
It’s not like I have anyone to impress, I reminded myself snidely. He’s not interested in me.
Ever since Dean had admitted to losing his true mate in a tragic vampire attack, I’d given up all hope of being with him someday. Losing a mate was hard enough, but losing the one that was meant solely for you was usually fatal.
I wasn’t surprised that his wolf didn’t survive the unimaginable grief. True mates were hand chosen by their Goddess, and the death of one almost always resulted in the self inflicted demise of the other. I couldn’t comprehend how Dean had gotten through it.
He’s still getting through it, I answered myself. Why else would he be emotionally unavailable?
Sam’s words swirled around the forefront of my mind as I patiently waited for Dean to come out of the men’s bathroom. While I cherished the fact that he trusted me enough to be slightly vulnerable and tell me about his past, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.
I’d always known that he was way out of my league and that nothing would ever happen between us, but our talk yesterday really seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. He was absolutely unobtainable, and that fact made me a little sad.
Get over it! I told myself. At least you’re still friends.
I sighed at the word, knowing that that’s all we’d ever be. I leaned against the stained wall separating the two bathrooms as I mentally prepared myself to catch a glimpse of my handsome ‘friend’ once he stepped out.
I can do this, I promised myself.
I knew there had to be worse fates than having a platonic friendship with my boss, I just couldn’t think of any at the time. I was still nursing my heavy heart and shattered dreams when he left the restroom.
“Ready?” Dean asked through a yawn.
“Yep!” I chimed a loudly as I attempted to drown out my disappointment.
“Alright then,” he smirked. “Let’s get-!”
“Who the hell are you?” A bewildered voice barked from the open door of the grimy bar.
Our eyes whipped over to take in the furious face of a short bald man dressed in leather from head to toe. He was clutching a ring of keys in one palm and wielding a small handgun in the other. He pointed the deadly weapon at Dean shakily before continuing.
“Who the hell are you?!” He shouted again. “What the hell are you doing in my bar?!”
“Dean?” I choked out as my throat began to close in terror.
I took a timid glance at him, only to realize he didn’t seem at all fazed. He was pinching the bridge of his nose in annoyance and squinting past the blinding sunlight to meet the bar owner’s eyes directly.
“Morning Bill,” Dean waved while stretching out his lengthy legs.
“Don’t ‘morning Bill’ me you pathetic drunk!” The man snapped. “What the hell are you doin’ here?! Don’t make me ask again or I’ll shoot!”
“You’ll shoot?” Dean chuckled.
“You’re damn right I’ll shoot!” The man promised.
Bill peered at me with hate filled eyes before waving the gun between us.
“Get on the ground!” Bill shouted. “You and your girlfriend! On the ground! I’m callin’ the cops!”
“Hey!” Dean growled. “Watch where you’re pointing that thing! You shoot her and I’ll break your fucking face!”
“I’d like to see you try, pretty boy!” The old man challenged. “You won’t do sh-!”
Dean lunged forward in the blink of an eye, snatching the gun and swiftly punching the man in the face. Bill fell to the ground with a shattered jaw as Dean smirked at him snidely before breaking off the weapon’s barrel with his bare hands. Bill stared in astonishment at his incredible strength.
“See ya later, Bill!” Dean called over his shoulder as he sauntered out of the building. “C’mon, Tessa!”
Without knowing what else to do, I scurried out after him and hopped on his bike. I was speechless at what I had just witnessed and didn’t say a word for most of the ride back.
“You’re really strong,” I blurted once we had almost reached the pack house. “I’ve never seen anyone bend a gun before.”
“Ah, it’s just an old party trick.” He waved me off. “You should see what I can do to a sword.”
I lost it at that, melting into a puddle of hysterics at the thought of Dean bending various weapons in his free time. He chuckled along and we both had giant smiles plastered on our faces once we’d reached the cabin.
“About damn time!” Embry exclaimed from beside his bike. “I almost ran back to the bar to tell you guys to hurry up.”
He was busy securing his belongings to the back, likely in preparation of the long drive ahead. He looked to be freshly showered and well rested. I envied him for that.
“When did you guys leave?” I asked curiously once I’d climbed off of Roxy.
“My wolf started freaking out this morning so we left,” he shrugged. “He doesn’t like being inside that much.”
“Wait,” I took a minute to digest what he’d just said. “How’d he get out?”
“He knows how to open doors, Tess.” Embry scoffed. “He watches me do it all the time.”
“So your wolf can open doors all by himself,” I clarified. “But he still chose to break into the cabin like a maniac.”
“It was locked and he had a gift for you,” he shrugged.
“If he wanted to give me a dead bird that bad, don’t you think he could’ve tried knocking?” I rebuked.
“He scratched at the door! Look, I never said he was smart,” Embry laughed. “I just said he knows how to open doors, not that he liked to.”
“But that-,” I began but was swiftly cut off by a cloud of blond.
“How’d you sleep?” Sam chirped from behind me while eyeing me with her sky colored daggers.
“Fine?” I raised a brow at her. “Why?”
“Oh, no reason!” She smirked. “It’s just that you looked so adorable cuddled up to Alpha behind the bar.”
“Shut up!” I hissed.
“Wait, what?!” Embry chortled. “I didn’t see that!”
“I didn’t-!” I gasped.
“Oh, you should’ve seen it!” Sam continued, likely enjoying the fact that her little tirade was making me blush. “She had her head in his lap all night.”
“Oh!” Embry teased. “You dirty girl! I didn’t think you had it in you!”
“That’s not what happened!” I urged.
“Oh, right.” Sam nodded. “You did spend most of the night getting wasted and blubbering about some dog you had as a kid. Silly me, I almost forgot!”
Oh no! Wolfie!
“How did you hear that?!” I asked in total shock. “You were asleep!”
“I was resting my eyes,” she replied while flipping her short hair over her shoulder. “There’s a difference.”
“What did I say?!” I pleaded desperately.
I couldn’t even remember pulling out the booze, let alone what I might’ve let slip out during my drunken haze.
“No idea,” she shrugged. “That’s all I could hear over this idiot’s snoring.”
“It’s a nasal condition!” Embry chipped.
“Whatever,” Sam huffed while rolling her eyes. “I don’t have time for this. We need to pack. Come on, Tess!”
She snatched my arm into hers and led us back to the cabin without another word. We entered our room and began to stuff our items into our bags quietly for a while. Everyone else seemed to be ready to go, so I started rushing in fear that they’d leave us behind.
“Relax,” Sam sneered. “We’re not leaving until noon, you have plenty of time.”
“But everyone else is ready,” I informed her.
“We’re still leaving at twelve,” she assured. “If Alpha tells us a specific time, we stick to it no matter what. So stop stressing out and just chill.”
I decided to take her advice and do just that. Chill.
I packed my clothes carefully and began stuffing the rest of my items into my backpack. I then filled my purse to the brim with all that I could fit into it and rested on my lumpy cot. Sam seemed to be nowhere near ready and I decided to take the small amount of down time to make a call.
“I’m calling my dad,” I informed her.
“Cool,” she smiled. “Put him on speaker.”
I dialed the number and waited patiently for him to answer. He and Sam had been getting along lately since I’d been calling him every week to let him know that I was still okay.
“Hey, bud!” My dad answered.
“Hey, dad!” I smiled widely.
“Hi, Mr. Davis!” Sam called out with a grin.
“Hi, Sam!” My dad called back. “What are you girls up to?”
“Just waiting for Sam to finish packing,” I shrugged.
“Not all of us live out of a backpack!” She barked.
“Where are you guys going?” My dad inquired casually.
“Dad,” I warned. “We talked about this.”
“What?” He asked innocently. “I was just curious.”
“Curiosity killed the cat,” Sam giggled while doing her best impression of Beta Nick.
“Very funny,” my dad chuckled. “I take it she knows?”
“About mittens over here?” Sam teased. “Yeah, we all know.”
“We could smell her from a mile away,” Embry added while bursting into the room.
“So they could smell you?” My dad asked. “Hm, interesting.”
“Would you guys shut up!” I whisper shouted. “Stop telling him things!”
My dad was like a private investigator. He was always looking for clues about my new life, making it difficult to talk to him. I had to be very careful with what I did or didn’t say.
“Ah, I’m just messin’ with ya!” He laughed. “How’s my son doing?”
Embry had jokingly called my father dad a while back and he had been referring to him as his son for almost two weeks now.
“You don’t have a son!” I scoffed.
“Hey Daddy Davis!” Embry called out from over my shoulder. “I’ve been good, how about you?”
“I’ve been alright,” my dad replied happily. “Just working at the shop, trying to keep busy.”
“How are the guys?” I asked as a pang of sadness struck me.
“They’re fine,” he replied. “They miss you, bud.”
“Tell them I miss them too,” I leaned back onto my lumpy pillow. “I think about them every time I smell motor oil.”
“So you’ve been smelling a lot of motor oil? Hm.” He inquired, still trying to figure out where I was.
“No!” I denied.
“Damn, he’s good.” Embry chuckled.
“Really good,” Sam agreed.
“You kids are too kind,” Dad snorted. “I’m happy to hear you and Sam are getting along again.”
“Oh, yeah!” I laughed. “We’re fine.”
“She’s not mad at you for sleeping with her boyfriend anymore?” He teased.
“I didn’t!” I gasped.
“And that idiot is not my boyfriend,” she added before fake gagging loudly.
“Oh come on,” Embry pouted. “You know you’re both dying to take a ride on the Embry-mobile.”
This time I gagged.
“Absolutely not!” I shuddered.
“Gross,” Sam muttered.
“Ha!” My dad laughed loudly for a while. “I knew I liked that boy. I better get invited to your wedding.”
“Not happening!” I shouted.
“What?!” Embry gasped. “We have to invite him! Who else is gonna walk me down the aisle?!”
“You haven’t even met him!” I argued. “I don’t even think guys get walked down the aisle.”
“Wow,” he murmured. “Talk about being stuck in the stone age, Tess.”
“Dang, bud!” My dad exclaimed. “If the boy wants to get walked down the aisle, he can get walked down the aisle.”
“I can’t believe you’re taking his side!” I gasped. “You’re supposed to be supporting your loving daughter!”
“I’m not taking sides,” dad sputtered.
“Thanks dad,” Embry replied while drying his fake tears.
“He’s not your dad!” I snapped.
“Scared of getting replaced?” Sam asked bitchily.
“No!” I denied.
“If her ears are pink, she’s lying!” My dad blurted, causing Embry to move a lock of my hair to check.
“They’re bright red!” Embry smirked. “She’s lying like a cheap rug!”
“Ha!” My dad laughed.
“Oh my Goddess, they are!” Sam agreed.
“Thanks for the tip, Daddy Davis!” Embry snorted.
“Stop calling him that!” I chastised. “He’s my dad!”
“I think you mean our dad,” he clarified while giving me a shit eating grin.
“Shut up!” I huffed. “Aren’t you supposed to be packing or something? Why are you here?”
“If my new son wants to talk to me, I don’t see any issue in that.” My dad declared, earning a smug look from Embry. “She’s always had problems sharing me, she didn’t even want her own sisters calling me dad.”
“They had two other dads they could talk to!” I argued. “It’s not my fault I ended up with the cool one!”
“Oh stop, flattery will get you nowhere!” Dad jeered. “But you can’t hog me forever, bud.”
“Wanna bet?” I challenged.
“Oh, big talk for a little girl.” Sam instigated.
“You would steal an amazing father figure away from a sad orphan boy?” Embry whined. “Selfish!”
“First of all, you’re twenty-four.” I reminded him. “Second, don’t play the orphan card on me! That’s dirty pool!”
“Oh, like you don’t milk the sad runaway bride card all the time!” Sam clapped back.
“HA!” My dad chortled loudly. “The memory of that moron’s face still gets me! He asked about you the other day, by the way.”
“What’d he say?” I asked as Embry and Sam perked their ears toward the phone to hear better.
“Ah, not much.” My dad blew it off. “He just said that he knew I stayed in contact with you and that if I knew where you were I’d have to tell him.”
“Let that dwarf show up,” Embry scoffed. “I’d love to get a hold of him!”
“I wouldn’t mind showing him a thing or two,” Sam nodded.
“Don’t even waste the energy,” my dad advised. “He ran like hell when I pulled out my pistol. A real man would’ve waited to watch me clean it at least.”
“Dad! You didn’t!” I snickered.
“Hell yeah I did!” He roared.
“Oh that’s awesome!” Embry howled. “Good one, pops!”
“Your dads so cool,” Sam swooned. “When are we meeting him?”
“No idea,” I shrugged.
“Hopefully soon,” Dad breathed. “I miss ya, bud.
“I miss you too, dad.” I huffed.
“Maybe he could come visit when you get settled in,” Embry suggested while throwing a comforting arm over my shoulders. “You guys could stay at my place for a few days.”
“I’d like that,” Dad replied.
“I would too,” I agreed. “I’d have to talk to the rest of my housemates about it first, but I don’t think they’d mind.”
“Just avoid Nick,” Sam cautioned.
“The big mean guy?” Dad clarified.
“That’s the one,” I nodded.
“The one that can probably hear us because he’s in the kitchen right now,” Embry whispered.
“Oh shit!” I gasped with wide eyes. “Dad, I gotta go! I’ll call you as soon as I can.”
“Alright sweetie, stay safe!” He ordered. “I love you.”
“Love you too,” I sighed. “Bye dad.”
“Bye Daddy Davis!” Embry yelled.
“Bye Mr. Davis!” Sam called out.
“Bye guys!” He chuckled before hanging up.
I fell back onto the bed in an exhausted heap. Embry and I watched Sam pack for a while, goofing off as usual. We all continued to joke around until it was time to get going. Embry secured my belongings to the back of his bike politely before speaking.
“Who are you riding with?” He asked genuinely.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean, who are you riding with?” He repeated. “You don’t have a motorcycle so you’re not driving there.”
“I know that,” I rolled my eyes. “But you and Sam said Alpha is the only one with a two-seater.”
Embry stared at me in confusion for a while before doubling over in a fit of laughter. Sam quickly joined him as I stood there with red cheeks.
“What the hells so funny?” I snapped.
“I forgot about that!” Embry gasped while smacking a palm against his forehead. “Oh, that’s too good!”
“What is?” I pleaded.
“Tessa, look around.” Sam snickered. “All of our bikes can fit two people, we were just fucking with you!”
“What!” I snarled.
“The look on your face when we made you ride with Alpha that first night was priceless!” Embry explained while wiping away a few stray tears.
“I can’t believe you!” I barked. “You guys are assholes!”
“You have to admit it’s kind of funny,” Sam joked.
“No way!” I disagreed. “I hate you guys!”
“Oh, don’t be like that kitten.” Embry sulked. “You’ll have to forgive us eventually.”
“Probably sooner rather than later since you need one of us to drive you back to the pack,” Sam added smugly.
The joke itself was a little funny, but that didn’t mean I was ready to let it go and hop onto one of their bikes. I took a quick scan around to see if I had any other options.
I didn’t trust Shane or Bobby as they both gave me a weird feeling every time I looked at them. Even if Dawn wasn’t riding with him, there would be no way in hell I’d ever consider going with Nick. That left Dean.
I peered up to see him to watch as he secured his duffel bag to the back of his harley. He must’ve felt my gaze as he lifted his emerald orbs to meet my eyes from across the dirt lot.
He gestured toward his bike slightly, silently asking if I’d like to ride with him. I smiled and nodded before turning to sneer at my friends. Their eyes were wide with shock.
“Later losers,” I teased.
I then flipped my long hair over my shoulder and strutted over to our fearless leader confidently. He smirked at my self certainty and allowed me to mount his silver steed.
I wrapped my arms around his rock hard waist carefully, knowing that he enjoyed pulling out like a bat out of hell. Just as I’d expected, he sped down the driveway without warning. I held on tightly as he led our small pack home.