That’s the only word necessary to describe the family dinner. I guess I’ve never really realized, how much Kara actually talks. Within minutes she was in deep conversation with mom and dad, speaking werewolf code fluently like we’re taught to do when there was a human around.
And it was sort of---- annoying!
I’d never been good with conversations, being more of an observer myself. But I tried my best to explain and keep Lexi up with everything that was going on. But I think even she felt the awkwardness in the end, and I hated myself for having put her in this situation. Luckily a couple of minutes later Uncle Mick and Aunt Rita showed up, with Shawn and Jess who were just a couple of years younger than us. And Jess luckily knew how to include everyone into the conversation; Including Lexi.
Which was a big relief.
But the biggest relief was the call that Kara received right after dinner. She was needed at the station and with an annoyed tone, she excused herself. Never in my life, have I been happier to have my best friend leave the room. Although I did get the feeling, that Luka had something to do with that, seeing that he was constantly fiddling with his phone under the table.
Right after dinner, the “boys” headed out. Our cower was smoking, but we always went for a run together. The “girls” usually joined us, but tonight they’d rather stay behind to get to know Lexi better. I didn’t particularly want to leave, but Mom and Aunt Rita practically pushed me out the door, wanting to have a moment alone with Lexi.
I think they liked her – which meant the world to me!
Once we were clear and out of sight, we took off our clothes and changed into our beasts. Well, all of us except for Luka of course, but although he didn’t have his wolf form, he could still keep up with us. As usual, I was the fastest, running laps around the other guys, ticking them off. Until I pissed off LJ and he attacked. We went at it like we tried to kill each other, but in the end, no one was really hurt.
“I’m so sorry if I made things awkward with Kara,” Luka said, once we stopped and got dressed again. “I didn’t know…” he trailed off his words, not really knowing how to put it or even what to say. I didn’t either. It was strange, but I didn’t know this side of Kara and frankly, she wasn’t the friend she used to be. I barely knew this Kara…
“It’s ok…,” I shrugged, not knowing what to say either. Perhaps she was just hurt from rejection and this was some type of revenge? I hope so because I didn’t want to lose a good friend. Although if I was forced to choose, I’d pick Lexi over anyone in a heartbeat…
“Will someone tell me what I’m missing?” Shawn asked, his dark features barely visible against his white skin. “You and Kara go like--- way back!”
“Yeah, but she wants more than I’m willing to give,” I explained, feeling myself getting hotter. Since when did I get to be the center of a three-way-drama? I was as plain and boring as they came. Had it been DJ or even Luka or LJ, I’d understand, but me?!
“Uh--- uh!” Tom murmured, suddenly understandingly. “And does she know that?”
I nodded and told them the whole story.
“From the looks of it she’s taking it rather well,” LJ muses, apparently not thinking it’s a big deal. I instantly found myself wishing and hoping he was right. But my gut feeling told me it wasn’t the case…
“From the looks of it, she cornered me at my office, pleating to come tonight,” Luka scoffed his reply, slapping LJ on the back of the head; like Dad used to do when we were being idiots. Then he turned his attention back to me, seriously crossing his arms over his broad chest. “She obviously wants to sabotage your relationship with Lexi.”
“Kara wouldn’t do that,” Shawn instantly said--- but got whacked in the back of the neck by Jess. And I’m starting to think, that that’s how Aunt Sally disciplined Dad and Uncle Mick…
“Landon just turned her down for a human,” He scoffed with a knowing smirk, despite him being the youngest of the bunch. “I’d say she’s pissed.”
“And I’d say watch your back,” Luka said with a low tone, before turning to LJ, almost daring him to speak.
I don’t think LJ got that memo…
“Don’t look at us!” LJ said, holding his hands up in mock surrender--- as if Luka was looking to him for advice. I shook my head worriedly. How he got to where he is today, is because of his wolf and because of his wolf alone, that’s for sure! And he’s not even trying to keep his secret around us and says “we” and “us” instead of “I” And “me”. I also remembered him doing it at the house earlier. I just hope he doesn’t slip up like this in public; then we’d be really screwed. But LJ continued nonetheless: “We don’t get women and never will. We leave them a box of diamonds and they get the picture to go fuck someone else.”
“How very classy of you,” Shawn dryly remarked, probably having the same worries about were-kind as everyone else was having at the moment.
“Thanks!” LJ smirked, knowing it was an insult but chose to ignore it. Despite being dominating as fuck, LJ was always calm and didn’t take up most challenges. He let them slide by with a grin and a stupid face, pretending to be too dumb to understand them. Perhaps that’s how he gets to be where he is…
“But back to that cute little human of yours,” he continued, and the attention turned back to me. “You really want her? I mean, ALL of you?”
I knew what he meant by that. And for the life of me, I couldn’t keep the smile off my lips.
“She is everything I want,” I replied, leaning against a tree, looking over at the house. I didn’t even need to breathe in deep to catch her scent. Sweet mint and lavender. A scent that made my wolf purr and calmed my blood.
“And you can talk to her, which is a big plus,” Tom smirked, and we all laughed. But it’s heartwarming to see them all accept her without prejudices. I was honestly relieved, as this could have played out in a million different ways. But then again; this was the Stone and Denver family. We were used to wolves off all kinds…
“But does she know? About us?” Jess asked in a careful tone, a faint hint of fear in his voice. And rightfully so. I couldn’t want to be the kid that pissed off three (out of four) of the most powerful creatures on earth.
The Stone Kids.
“Not yet,” I replied, knowing it wasn’t his fault. That fear in all beings is an instinct that was programmed to keep them all alive. Even when it’s family.
I then took a deep breath, telling them the rest. “But I’m going to tell her, soon.”
“Why soon?” Luka asked, instantly picked up on the uneasiness in my tone. He might not look like it, but Luka was brilliantly smart. He had the instincts and talent – the animalistic gut feeling – that made him the more than excellent Sentinel that he was.
And how he’d gotten the position of Head Sentinel of the region at his young age.
“Because I think my wolf is starting to imprint on her,” I explained--- and it got a lot of wow’s and uh’s as a reply. Most of them congratulated me – LJ of course couldn’t help but tease me – but all in all, they were all happy for me.
“I just want to get everything into the open, before it reaches the point of no return,” I said that, but I’m pretty sure I’ve long since reached that point. I’m fiercely protective of Lexi, and no matter what, she’s not leaving me. I want to lock her up in my room and have her stay by my side until she comes to terms with the fact, that she belongs to ME!
Of course, I can’t do that – no matter how tempted I might be! – but I’m willing to wait and woo her until she reaches that realization herself. I just want her to know the truth, so she can feel like she knew all of the factors before she makes the “choice” of becoming mine.
Because she’s mine and I’m not letting her go…
“Well, if it’s any consolation,” LJ laughed, clasping his hand down on my shoulder, hard. “We have a habit of getting hitched to our maids in this family.” He winked at me with a stupid grin on his face. “You’ll be fine!”
“I hope things weren’t too awkward with Kara being there,” Landon said, pulling my overnight bag out of the trunk of the car. He’d booked us two rooms at a cozy little Bead & Breakfast, halfway between Rossville and Denver, where his parents lived. Two rooms, because I wasn’t ready to share a bed with him; not really trusting myself where something like that would lead…
I smiled but didn’t reply. I knew I couldn’t lie to him. It WAS awkward! And tense, like she was trying to show herself up. Show, how much better she was than me. I more or less expected to be lost somewhere in the conversation, seeing that they had so much history and insides knowledge, that I didn’t have. But my sweetheart of a man didn’t let the currents of the conversation drag him along, but stopped and took his time, to explain everything to me.
And oh, sweet licorice, did I just love him for it!
Conversation clearly wasn’t his strong suit, but he really made an effort. And I really appreciated it…
“And now you’re going to try and convince me, that there’s never been anything between you two right?” I said instead, smirking at him. And his response? Looking at me with an odd look of confusion and curiosity. “You know you can tell me, right?” I continued, trying to urge him on. Oh, he was mine – MY beloved! – and Prom Queen better learn to keep her hands to herself!
What in the world is a ‘beloved’?!
“Lexi, I-I don’t have to convince you,” he stuttered, leaning against our car in the dark parking lot and effectively pulling me out of my bewildered thoughts. His red eyes practically glowing under his brown lenses. “There has never been anything between me and Kara.”
“Landon,” I sighed annoyed at his denial. And just when I thought he was perfect…! “I have eyes! I saw what she looked like…”
“Yeah?” he cut me off, chuckling to himself. He pushed off the car and walked over to me, stopping a mere foot away from me. “You want to know what I saw?” he asked, smiling that boyish, charming smile of his, that somehow always managed to melt my heart. “I saw the girl that came to my rescue and kicked a bully on the shin when he was harassing me on my first day of school,” he told me; sadness and disappointment slipping into his tone. “She’s the one, that stood up for me when everyone called me a freak and put up with my weirdness. She didn’t judge, hell, I don’t think she even cared.” He sighed, his eyes finding something on the pavement that interested him, trying to distract me from the fact that something in his heart was paining him.
“She was the strong one of the two of us,” he continued, reliving the memories. “She was my friend.”
I guess I never saw it at that. All I saw was competition. Landon looked at the woman and saw--- something more. Jealousy and understanding hit me both at the same time.
“Was?” I asked, nervous if it was me, that had come between them.
“I’m not going to lie,” Landon continued, looking at me again, his hands deep in his pockets. “Lately she wanted us to be more, but I--- I can never see her as more.” He confessed, which made strange things to my insides. “When I look at her, I still see the scrawny, loud girl that made a bully cry with her actions, trying to help me out. I don’t see her as---” He gulped and--- managed to turn red! “A partner.”
I nodded, trying not to be overly excited. But I was. I felt bad that Landon had to turn away his best friend, someone with who he’d shared his whole life --- because he wanted to be with me!
Simple and ordinary Lexi Smith!
“And because of that, we’re…” Landon continued, rubbing the back of his neck nervously; like he always did. “I’m not exactly sure what we are. The last time I spoke with her, I told her I didn’t want us to be more than friends, although I did try to imagine us as more.” He shook his head. “But I couldn’t. I don’t have feelings for her like that and although our friendship was great, I’d always be longing for something more.”
Suddenly he held out his hand for me.
Without thinking I’d placed my hand in his. I gasped, feeling the soft burst of sparks that came with that small touch. He ran his hands over my soft skin, pulling it closer to his mouth.
The breath caught in my throat, as he gently kissed the inside of my palm. The gesture was sweet and innocent, yet it managed to send a whirlwind of emotions through my body. My core tightened and my panties dampened. I tried to swallow because my mouth suddenly went dry as a desert. But the second I opened my mouth, a low moan of pleasure and want escaped my lips, making Landon smile even wider.
“It wouldn’t be fair to be with her,” he said hoarsely and so low and deep, I couldn’t really be sure it was real. “When all I want is you.”
Oh, my sweet gosling, I think my heart just exploded!
I felt it all. All the emotions came rushing towards me, pulling me in like a hurricane--- and I could do nothing to stop it.
I could only follow…
I stepped forward, closing the remaining inch between us, and crashed my lips on his.
My entire body felt like it was taking in the first breath of air again. I was where I belonged. I was in the arms of my beloved…
His arms snuck around my waist and pulled me closer. I could feel the weight of the overnight bag pull at his arm as it fell from his shoulders, but I didn’t care. All I could think about was his lips, his taste, and his tongue inside me. His scent of pine and wood, that I seemed to crave when he wasn’t around. The sparks I felt when his hands touched me.
Only he was able to make me feel like this…
“Landon…” I moaned when he finally released me to breathe. We were both panting and---
And that’s when everything went to hell!
In a split second, I felt Landon stiffen--- and then…
My whole body went numb when the sound echoed across the parking lot. And for a split second, I didn’t register that the sound – that awful bang – came from a gun.
Suddenly, I realized that Landon’s body went slack in my arms. And it finally registered with me, that… We’d shifted places! Somehow, Landon had spun us around so…
Terrified I looked up--- and finally saw, what Landon had seen. In front of the car was a man dressed in black. And holding a gun. Pointing it at…
But Landon had turned us around.
He’d been protecting me with his own body…
I screeched, as the gun continued to fire into Landon’s back. I wanted to spin us around again. I wanted to protect him, as he was protecting me. I screamed because I wanted the shooter to stop. To drop dead somewhere or just combust. To turn to ash and leave.
As long as he stopped hurting my beloved!
Finally, the gun clicked. The magazine was empty, and the man foolishly stopped to inspect it. As if to make sure, that he’d used up all his bullets. And it was at that moment, that a throaty, guttural growl erupted from the night. So loud and menacing, it seemed to split in the darkness around us.
The air turned cold and the hairs on my body stood on end.
And I knew…
Something was about to happen.
Suddenly I was free--- and Landon was facing our attacker. I barely managed to see his wide eyes and pale, white skin, before Landon had his arm around the man’s neck. In a powerful swipe, he twisted his arm--- and broke his neck.
I gasped, as the loud, cringing sound echoed in the streets and stared at the man, lying motionless on the ground. His head bent at an odd angle with purple and red swelling all around.
I knew I should feel horrified, but… I didn’t!
I felt instead in awe at the man in front of me. The power that radiated off him. The blood that poured from his wounds, the essence of his life, and the red that glowed like fire in his eyes. It all emitted a force, an authority, that couldn’t be denied. He was…
The groan pulled me back to the present--- and Landon sank to the ground. I gasped, rushing to his side. He glided down a car, resting his head against the cold metal.
“Oh my god,” I cried, feeling the tears I hadn’t even realizing had started to fall, stream down my face. “Landon… hang in there!”
I was trembling as I reached for my pocket and pulled out my phone. I needed to call for help! A small part of me – a part that I wanted to crush! – knew it was pointless. That no one could survive a whole magazine of pullets in their body.
But I had to try…
I gasped when Landon’s bloodied hand grabbed the phone and tried to take it from me.
His voice was gruff and pained. Of course, it was! He was trying to talk through a bunch of lead in his lungs for freckles' sake…
“Landon!” I cried, trying to pull the phone back--- but realized that Landon still had more strength than me. “You’ve been shot! You need …”
“Do you trust me?”
His words cut me off, but more importantly, cut into the whirlwind of panic and terror, that had taken over my body and actions.
“What?” I gasped. Was this really the time to…?!
“Do you---trust me?” he repeated, his breathing uneven and blood was running from his open mouth, trickling down his chin and jaw. Turning his white skin an eerie, stomach curling red…
I did. I didn’t need to think about that--- I needed to get him help! I needed to call for help… which lead me back to the phone, still locked in Landon’s strong grip. I tried to pull it again, but it was useless.
Why wouldn’t he let me help him?!
“Then lean closer,” he said firmly. So firmly, it almost sounded like a command…
“Landon, this is really not…” I cut him off. Whatever he was trying – trying to say goodbye--- it wasn’t acceptable. There was no way we were going there. Not when we just found each other!
I made a final attempt at the phone. I had to get help…
“Please?” Landon begged in a sweet and almost pleating voice. Like he knew, what was coming… “Give yourself to me!”
“Landon…” I started to protest, but… It somehow died on my lips. My lips were trembling, and tears were bitterly running down my cheek.
I wasn’t ready for this! I wasn’t ready to say goodbye!
But--- if this was it…?
I--- I wanted to give myself to him.
Without really thinking, I did as he said. I leaned closer. His hands wrapped around my waist, pulling me onto him. I was saddling him in a position that – you know! If he wasn’t dying! – had been intimate and sexual. His lips crashed to mine in a demanding and rough kiss, that seemed to pull all will out of me.
I gasped when I suddenly felt his lips brush against my warm skin. Down my jaw--- and to my neck. I could feel his tongue brush against the pulsing vein that almost protruded my skin, thanks to my frantic heart.
And I swear, I’m not a necrophiliac--- but damn, that felt so hot!
“I’m--- sorry,” he whispered against my skin.
“Don’t be,” I practically moaned, feeling my need for him only grow. I needed him! More than I needed my next breath!
“I love you, Landon.”
“I love---you too,” he replied, kissing my neck again. Almost apologetic… And then--- I felt a pinch in my neck. Shocked, at first, I didn’t understand--- What…?!
The burning sensation of pain and fire, rendering me momentarily numb. A scream died on my lips as my mind tried to grasp what was happening. But then--- the pain was gone! Replaced with---
The sensation of pure pleasure and desire that followed, made my back arch. I wanted to scream, but I didn’t have the strength to do it. It felt like falling into a limbo of nothing but never-ending pleasure. The sensation, that all of my senses were filled at the same time.
I fell completely limb.
“I got you,” I heard Landon whisper somewhere far away. I felt two strong arms wrap around me, lifting me off the ground. I looked up and--- a completely alive-looking Landon was staring back at me with blood-red eyes and a worried expression.
“Sleep, Lexi,” he urged me softly. “We’ll talk when you wake up…”
Everything went black…