The Panther's Claw

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Chapter 2: The Roommate

I go for a quick run along the tree line just to get the energy out. I'll go out with Amethyst after sunset. I pass the earthy smell again and up to my room.

I knock again before I open the door. This time I am greeted with a redheaded fox. This woman has curves that could hurt somebody and big brown eyes. An absolute bombshell.

"Hey! You must be my roommate!" She grins. Thank God shes friendly.

"Hey im Lena!" I smile back.

"Scarlet."

"Nice to meet you." Im brought into a hug. She smells like pine tress.

"God you smell amazing!" She cries. "What are you?"

"That is the second time I've heard that question today. What are you talking about?" I ask pulling back.

"What type of shifter are you?" She laughs.

"There are more?" I ask. Even Amethyst is shocked.

"Of cour-... hang on, have you never met another shifter before?" She asks. I shake my head. "Holy shit. We need to get you out sweetie. Im a wolf shifter by the way."

"Panther." I mutter through my shock.

"A PANTHER!?" She screeches. Ow.

"What? Whats wrong with that?" I ask a bit panicked. She obviously knows stuff I don't.

"Nothing is wrong with it honey. Just really rare. Where have you been hiding?" She asks more gently and sits me down on the green couch.

"Ive been living in New Harrington. In the foster system." I confess.

"Well that explains it. Does your animal have a name?"

"Amethyst."

"Mine's Rose." She smiles. "I bet you both are excited to be around so many trees."

"You have no idea. We had to drive three days on a bus to get here. We're heading out for a run after dark. Do you want to join us?" I ask.

"We would love to. Can I bring my mate?"

"Mates are a thing?" I ask and she nods with a grin. "Like in the books or is it different?"

"What books?" Scarlet asks looking worried.

"Shifter romance novels. They're great." I laugh.

"Ive never read one." She admits.

"I have some you can borrow if you want." She nods vigorously. "So... about mates."

"Yes! Ok, so some people are lucky enough to find mates. They are supposed to be the one person who will always love you. The one person made for you. A soul split in two." She explains.

"So... its going to be hard for me." I say sadly. If panthers are so rare its going to suck to keep being alone. I feel Amethysts grief inside me.

"What do you mean?"

"Finding another panther. That may or may not be my mate even." I frown.

"Oh jeez. No you don't have to be the same type of shifter! Ive met people who have found human mates."

"Ew." I say thinking of the smell. She just laughs at me.

"Well obviously that one must smell good to them. But I wouldn't know my mate is a wolf like me. His name is Tripp." She says with a dreamy smile that sends me a pang of loneliness. Its nice to know it doesn't have to be a panther. It could be anyone.

"Well I better start unpacking." I say standing up.

"I'll help you if you help me." She offers with a grin.

"Deal." I laugh as I unzip my clothing bag.

"That is a lot of underwear." She laughs.

"Ya, Amethyst has a weakness." I admit.

"Rose likes pillows so I cant talk. But I do ask that we go shopping soon." She giggles. We set out chatting as we pack away our stuff. Rose really does have a pillow fetish. Their bed is practically covered in pillows of different colors and shapes and sizes but all look comfortable.

"Want to go for dinner before our run?" She asks.

"Yes! I need meat!" I express making her laugh.

"Me too girl. Let's go get us some meat." She grins as we head out. I throw my dark shoulder length hair up into a ponytail as we run down the stairs.

I like Scarlet. She seems nice. A lot nicer than a lot of the people I've met in my life. We continue chatting while we walk down to a little country kitchen restaurant. All I smell is meat Amethyst approves.

"This place is run by the local pack so its mostly shifters that come in here." She warns before im blasted with the scent of forest. Holy crap.

I walk in and I swear all eyes are on me. Well thats not comforting. Scarlet comes up beside me and throws her arm around my shoulders and steers me to a booth. I slide into the seat still feeling eyes on me. Its a very different feeling from when I danced. I at least had a cage between me and them. Scarlet apparently has had enough. She stands on her seat and shouts.

"This is Lena. She will kill you if you don't stop this shit. And I will help!" Bold claims from the red head but it seems to work. Just about everyone turns back to their meals. She jumps down and grins at me. "All done." I give her a "what the hell" kind of look back. "Dont worry, wolves are very... dominance oriented. If you can take them down they will listen. And... you can." She assures me but I do not feel assured.

We are halfway through our meal of steak and eggs when I smell that earthy smell again.

"What is that scent?" I ask. "Ive been smelling it everywhere."

"Oh that soil smell? Thats bear shifter. They are very protective. Don't do the dominance thing with them." She warns.

"Dirty." I mutter and she laughs loudly making several heads turn.

"Oh you are the best. We're going to have so much fun!" She beams. Her smile falters as the door opens and I smell... heat. Not a summer heat but a heat that reminds me of the desert. Three very large men in crisp suits walk in.

"Are you ok?" I ask. She looks pale. I dont like it and neither does Amethyst. Our friend shouldn't look like this. We had an issue when Lila had a boyfriend who didn't like the break up too. It didn't end well for him.

"Its fine. Just ignore them." She whispers and starts eating faster. I take her lead but I dont like it. As far as we're concerned she's ours.

We're about to leave when one of the men slides up to our table and grabs my hand.

"Well hello there. I dont think we've had the pleasure of meeting." He leans down to kiss it when a forked tongue meets my skin instead. I try not to show my distaste because Maria taught me. Be nice first because once you're mean no one will believe you can be nice. Also don't take shit.

"Hello, im Lena." I say taking my hand back with a polite smile. "I belive you know Scarlet?" I ask. I watch as he totally dismisses her. I raise an eyebrow at his rudeness and his grin widens.

"Hello again Scarlet. You look well." He smiles and takes her hand and does the wierd tongue thing. Scarlet looks a bit shell shocked as he turns back to me. "Im Xander. Welcome to Finch Falls. I assume you're going to the college?"

"Yes I am." I reply.

"Then I hope to see you around." He smirks and let's his gaze shamelessly drift up and down my body. No thanks buddy. I stand up confidently and move around him to Scarlet taking her hand.

"Good bye Xander." I smile as we pay and leave the restaurant.

"Holy shit." Scarlet breathes.

"Are you alright?" I ask as she leans forward like shes going to throw up. Oh shit. She really looks bad. I grab her as she starts to drop. She's frigging fainted! What the hell happened to her?!

I take her phone out of her purse and swipe until I find Tripp with like eight hearts. Thats the mate. I call him.

"Hey babe." He answers and I can hear the love in his voice. Awe.

"Its not babe. Im Lena her roommate. She needs you. She just passed out." I explain.

"Where are you guys?" His voice turns hard. Like steel and I can hear him already running. I like him.

"We're in the parking lot of Jan's."

"I'll be there watch out for a white truck."

"Ok. I got her." I assure him before he hangs up. "Scarlet babe. You gotta get up. Come on honey. Tripp is on his way." I tap her cheek to try to get her to wake up.

I look up to see a white truck pull up and a tall man in a red plaid shirt jumps out and runs to us.

"Oh, babe." He coos taking her from me. "Lena?" I nod. "What happened?"

"I honestly have no idea. We left the restaurant and she started getting weak and then she just passed out." I explain.

"Fuck. Ok, come with me. We'll go to the pack doctor." He says looking at her like she is the center of his world. She probably is. "Thank you for taking care of her."

"Pft! Like I was going to just leave her." I scoff as we put her on the bench seat. "Do you want me to drive so you can hold her?"

"Please?" He says looking at me with sad blue eyes.
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