The Whitlock Academy

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Chapter Forty

Emery’s POV.

He isn’t lying. The couple that greet us when we arrive inside are warm and welcoming. I feel unbearably shy, meeting one set of my in-laws.

Everyone is all jealous of me for having four mates to myself, but no one thinks about how I have four times the pressure of impressing in-laws. I have eight parents to please and prove myself too.

That is going to be a lot of birthday and Christmas presents.

“Malvolio!”

A sing-song voice echoes around the foyer. We all look up at the top of the staircase. A woman with waist-length black hair, deeply brown-olive toned skin and curves for days is standing at the top. She struts down, a sway in her hips.

“This is my sister, Estrella,” Mal introduces me when the beautiful woman reaches the bottom.

She smiles widely, lighting up her whole face, and waves at me. “Hi! Lovely to meet you.”

“It’s nice to meet you, too,” I reply shyly.

Mal told me about his sister on the way in the car. She is two years older than us and left the academy last year. She received the Amare flame when she was sixteen but has not met her mate yet. She has only seen a glimpse of his face and knows nothing else about him.

I feel so sorry for her. Imagine having to wait four years to meet your mate. To know that he is out there but not be able to find him.

After putting our bags upstairs, we’re invited back down for tea in the parlour. It’s incredibly posh, but Mal’s easy-going parents make the whole situation more relaxed than it sounds.

My mates recount the entire experience of yesterday for the family. I sit back and listen, unwilling to go through the whole thing again. It is all we have talked about this week.

“This Salvador sounds like quite the friend,” Estrella comments to me. “You must be so grateful for him.”

“I keep trying to think how I can repay him. I know that I will never be able to, but I want to thank him somehow.”

Estrella nods sympathetically. “Do you know what he likes? What he’s interested in? A present won’t be an equivalent, but it’s a nice token gesture.”

“I guess. I’m not too sure really,” I respond and take out my phone. I start scrolling through my photos. “This is him.”

I turn my phone towards Estrella so that she can see the selfie that Sal and I took on the roof on Wednesday during our free.

Estrella’s face drops.

“What?” I ask her, concerned about her reaction.

Estrella’s hands shake as she takes the phone from me and holds the screen closer to her face. She uses two fingers to pinch the screen and zoom in on the picture, right over Sal’s face.

“This is Salvador Whitlock?” She questions, sounding incredulous.

“Yes,” I reply hesitantly. “Why?”

“He’s my mate,” she murmurs, her eyes still locked on the photo.

I choke on air. “I’m sorry, what did you just say?” Esteban cuts in, as shocked as me.

“He is my mate,” Estrella repeats and finally looks up from the phone screen. “I saw his face in my prophecy. This is him.”

My eyes find Mal, who is sitting on the sofa adjacent. His face is one of complete surprise and disapproval.

“Don’t joke about, Estrella,” he scolds her.

She scowls at him and gets to her feet. “I’m not joking, Malvolio,” she snaps. “He is the guy who was in my vision when I got my prophecy.”

Her face lights up as she has a revelation.

“You said that he was stabbed, right?” She asks excitedly and I quickly nod. “Last weekend, I was out driving, and I got this horrible pain in my chest. I nearly crashed. Dad thought it was a panic attack. It must be because I felt him die. He’s my mate.”

We all stare at her, unable to find any words. I feel an overwhelming sense of relief and happiness. Sal has a mate.

“But he got the Mortem flame,” Oro speaks. “If he had a mate, he should have gotten half and half, like us.”

“But Sal’s prophecy is not the usual,” Lucio intercedes. “He changed Principal Burberry’s prophecy. What’s to say his own prophecy can’t change?”

“This is crazy,” Es murmurs.

“It can’t be possible,” Mal states bluntly.

“I want to meet him,” Estrella exclaims and stands up. “I’m going to the academy, right now!’

“I’ll come with you,” I tell her and get up, too.

She grins. “Great. Who else is coming?”

“I think this is something you can do without your father and I, darling,” Mrs Aguado says. “Good luck, sweetheart.”

“I hope it is him, you’ve been through enough,” Mr Aguado adds.

“We are not driving all the way back to the academy,” Mal argues, getting to his feet as well. “We’ve only just arrived.”

Estrella glares at her brother. “You’re right. We’re not.” She points at me and herself. “We are.”

“Wherever Em goes, I go,” Esteban claims and gets to his feet.

Lucio and Oro stand, too. Mal scowls.

“Fine. But Salvador Whitlock is not going to be my brother-in-law. We’re going to go there and prove that he isn’t your mate.”

Everyone ignores Mal and heads for the door.

“Our things are upstairs,” I suddenly remember as we reach the front door.

Estrella grabs her car keys and jingles them impatiently as we hover in the foyer.

“It’s okay. We’ll come back after we’ve seen Salvador,” Oro reassures me. “Either they’re mates, and we leave them to it, or we come home with Estrella.”

“Okay.”

“Come in the car with me,” Estrella says and takes my hand. She pulls me towards her bright blue Audi.

“I’m not leaving Emery,” Lucio declares.

“Oh, please,” Estrella retorts and rolls her eyes. “It’s an hour, you’ll live.”

“Not with your driving she won’t,” Mal snaps.

Estrella looks at me. “Quick, Emery, get in the car!”

I do as she asks. Lucio reaches the car just as I shut the door and Estrella locks it. She giggles as he tries to get my door open. He raps his knuckles against the window.

“Open the door, Estrella,” Lucio orders.

“Not a chance,” she sings and starts the engine. “Watch your toes!’

She floors it away from the house, leaving a pissed-off Lucio in her wake. The Four rush over to Lucio’s car to follow us.

“He’s not used to people ignoring his commands,” I tell her amusedly.

“He can get used to it.”

Estrella tells me all about her prophecy during our journey together. We sing along to songs on the radio and do some sister-in-law bonding. As an only child with three mates who are also without siblings, Estrella is my only chance at having a sibling.

We make it to the academy in just under an hour. I call Sal as we’re pulling up and ask where he is. I get him to meet me in the quad. It’s half six and most people are having dinner, so the school is relatively quiet.

The quad is empty. Sal hesitates when he sees the group of us waiting by my favourite picnic bench. He approaches cautiously, not noticing Estrella, who is standing right behind me.

“What’s going on?” He asks warily.

He winces and suddenly pulls up his sleeve, revealing his tattoo. We all watch as it turns from black to red. He looks up in shock, his mouth open.

His eyes find mine, but they don’t remain on me for long. He looks over my shoulder and spots Estrella. There’s this weird moment where they both stare at one another, but no one says anything.

I step to one side and Estrella takes a step forwards. Then another. Then another. Sal starts moving, too. They meet in the middle, both standing in front of one another. They check each other out, no doubt feeling the bond but are suspicious of it.

Estrella lifts up her hand, palm open, fingers splayed. Sal automatically lifts up his and presses his palm to hers. They close their fingers around the other’s hand, interlocking them.

Matching smiles break out on their faces and tears of happiness pool in my eyes.

“You’re my mate,” Estrella claims happily. “I’m Estrella, Mal’s sister.”

Sal’s eyes glance briefly at Mal before returning to his sister.

“I’m Sal-”

“-vador Whitlock. I know. Where have you been the last four years?” Estrella finishes and asks him teasingly.

She lets go of his hand, grabs his face and leans up on her tiptoes to kiss him.

“For fuck’s sake,” Mal mutters next to me.

I elbow him gently in the ribs. Mal takes my hand and squeezes it. I look down at our joined hands and notice something glittering on my finger.

Knowing what I want to do, I let go of Mal’s hand, making him pout. I slide off the ring and hold it between my thumb and index finger.

The lovers stop kissing and look longingly at each other. I walk over to them.

“I’m so happy for you,” I tell Sal as he faces me.

I give him a quick hug and then take his hand. I place the ring on his palm and wrap his fingers around it, closing his hand into a fist.

“You have someone to give it to now,” I whisper.

He grins at me. “This is the craziest shit since I came back from the dead.”

Everyone chuckles at that, even Mal.

“We’re going to go back,” I tell them both. “Enjoy your weekend.”

Estrella links arms with Sal and winks at me. “Oh, we definitely will.”

Mal grumbles under his breath as we wave goodbye and head back to the car.

Here’s to my third car journey of the evening.

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