That was the best date I have ever experienced. We watched a silly cartoon that we just felt like watching and we went out to eat at Aunt Kelly’s Italian restaurant, where she made over me like I was not being fed. Between Jason’s dry humor and my ability to turn anything into a dirty joke, the night was filled with our laughter.
When we pulled into my driveway, the porch lights were on and my dad sat in front of the front window, his eyes instantly locked onto Jason’s truck.
“He approves of you, I swear; I don’t know why he’s acting this way.” I laughed as I hopped out of his truck.
Despite my dad watching us like a hawk, he gripped my hand and intertwined our fingers as we walked up the porch steps.
“I know he does; he just doesn’t want me to steal you quite yet; he’s not ready for you to get older and maybe marry me.” He said, his voice wistful.
At first, when he told me we were betrothed, I was angry and upset because I wanted to make that choice. But after tonight and looking at him now, I was relieved because I knew he was already mine; all I had to do was say yes and plan the wedding. But for me to get married a few months before graduation seemed kind of crazy. It’d throw my mom into a stroke, getting married and graduating all in one year, in the span of a few months? Yeah. That’s calling for a stroke.
“You may never know, Jase.” I said with a wink, trying to act all flirty and probably failing miserably.
You looked like a retarded iguana, trying to wink like that! I’m surprised you didn’t hurt yourself.
Jason’s face went blank and I turned around and walked through the door. He seemed to like it, Ash, so shut the hell up.
He’s just shocked that you didn’t keel over either, so I still win. Ash said with a snort.
Dad scowled at me. “It’s almost eleven thirty. What the hell are you doing?”
“We just got back; we went to Aunt Kelly’s and you know how she is. She can’t shut up until you have to practically stuff something in her throat.” I said defensively as Jason closed the door quietly behind me. “Plus, I’m eighteen. You knew what was happening so you can’t get all that mad.”
His eyebrows went straight up near his hairline. “I can’t? I can’t get all that mad, you mean Shyanne?”
Shit. You just said it. Ash said, a suspicious noise sounding like a whine in her throat, before I felt her recede to the darkest part of my mind. It was nice knowing you, Shyanne but you started the hellion.
“I’ve fed you for eighteen years, gave you a home and protected you! Sorry for wanting you home where I know you’re safe and loved. Hell, Shyanne, you could’ve been ambushed out there and I wouldn’t even have known until tomorrow!”
Jason put his hand on my lower back, radiating heat and protection. “Alex, I was with her; I would never let anything touch her or hurt her. You know that better than anyone else.”
“I know that Jason, but, one man against ten that are hell-bent on killing or taking Shyanne aren’t very good odds.”
Jason instantly let out a growl, one similar to the one emitted from the party. “You don’t know that, Alex.”
Dad put his hand on Jason’s shoulder and squeezed. “I know you adore Shyanne; you forget I was there when you met her for the first time. You fell in love with her then and I know it’s only going to get better for you. But, even the hardest things happen when you’re watching so close. You can’t stop everything.”
“But I sure as hell will try.”
“Sometimes people give it all they have and it’s still not enough, Jason; I know you feel horrible about what happened to your mom and you fight your inner demons every day because of it. I’m not mad about you getting home late; I just wanted to point out my worries.” he paused then took a step back. “Shyanne is an adult now; you may stay the night, but if I hear anything, you’re losing all privileges.” With that, he turned around and walked up the stairs.
Mouth-opening, jaw-dropping shock made me do just those things.
Jason seemed to be in the same state as he stared at the stairs, his eyes as huge as saucers. “At least I don’t have to try to sneak in.” he joked, breaking out of his state of shock.
My hard slap to his chest made him laugh and rub it with a grin. “Damn, you hit like a guy.”
“Is that a backward way of saying I’m like a man?” I said, my voice rising in mock-anger. “How dare you, Jason Keller!”
“A mindset and the force behind the hit, yes, but not your body; it’s nothing but woman.” Licking his lips like a wolf, he waggled his eyebrows and his grey eyes danced playfully.
Rolling my eyes, I thought in laughter, Men!
Ah, yes, the male species; so cocky and most of them are plain ass-holes but… sometimes you can’t help but love the cocky bastards.
You ain’t a kidding I grumbled.
“So why don’t we have a little chat? I’d like to know more about this weirdo I have in my head.” I said as I lead him to the kitchen.
Pouting like a child, “But I thought we were going upstairs?”
“Maybe if you give me the answers I want.”
Groaning, he plopped into a high chair at the nook as I walked around the edge to the fridge. “What do you want to know?”
“Ash, my inner voice, kept on saying things like she had experience; was she born with me… or was she like… I don’t know how to ask it.”
“Where did she come from you mean?” he calmly asked as he watched me fix a glass of chocolate milk.
Shrugging, I practically threw the jug back onto the shelf.
“Well, with most of them, they have been humans. When they have passed, the Fates have given them another chance; to live inside someone else as their conscience. To help them get through their life without many hitches, right? But, some others are animals with a human voice. Mine, I’m almost positive, was a wolf before he was shoved into my brain.”
“So you’re a wolf shifter.” I said with conviction.
With a nod, he continued. “So it just depends; for you, it may sound like she was a human given another opportunity.”
Not exactly. Ash said with a sad laugh.
What do you mean, not exactly?
“She said not exactly.” I frowned and then stared out the window, listening intently for her answer.
What he said is true… for most of us. I was assigned to be here, Shyanne. I was once a shifter, a leopard. When my people found out about your birth, I was almost nineteen years old. One day, I awoke to Kade sitting on my bed side. We had talked and he told me when you were born, I was going to play as your conscience. You needed someone who knew what was going on to help guide you. My parents were honored that their baby girl was going to help the one to end the war. When you were born, my physical body was killed in a car accident. The next thing I knew, I was in your mind, forced to be quiet until Kade marked you as his.
A hard shake made me look into Jason’s concerned face. “What did she tell you?”
My voice shook. “She said she was assigned by Kade to be my voice; she was a leopard shifter before I was born. When my birth came, she died and was then transferred into me. She was forced to be quiet until Kade marked me.”
Unbuttoning my coat, I pulled my shirt collar down so he could see my tattoo/mark. He leaned forward and studied it closely, making me mildly uncomfortable. Softly tracing my tattoo, I shivered, making my skin rise in goose-bumps.
“It’s almost like a henna tattoo.” He whispered as he looked at the ink.
My breath hitched as he inhaled deeply. “I never thought of it like that.” And truly, I hadn’t thought of it.
He then sighed, his breath fanning over my skin, and straitened. “I’ve only heard of people being ‘marked’ or even talking to the wily old bastard.”
Letting my shirt collar come back, “What does this mean?”
He smiled, and then rubbed his jaw in thought. His stubble made small little scratching noises and I wanted so bad to reach out and feel. “It means that you’re more powerful than anyone could have dreamed.”
Instant panic overwhelmed me and I started to pick at my necklace. “What if I don’t want to be some weird, savior of the world that old crazy bastards predicted before they got drunk on wine?”
“Well, it wasn’t a few old bastards, it was one woman and she then told the King of All. And I’m pretty sure he didn’t like wine. Anyways… Shyanne, I know it’s hard but this is who you are. You were born to help us, our race and everyone else. My mind can’t even imagine what you’re going through; you were a regular girl, going to parties and getting drunk and having fun; a few days later, you find out you’re not all human, you’re adopted and that you’re going to save multiple species one day.”
My gut clenched, making the chocolate milk taste almost sour and my stomach cramp. Looking distastefully at the full glass, my mind whirled. “Thanks for summing it up, Jase.”
Nodding in sympathy, he cracked his knuckles on his right hand. I watched as the kitchen light illuminated a gold ring, a sapphire crowning the top of the circle. It was barely big enough to fit on his pinky finger, and I silently wondered over it.
“It was my mother’s engagement ring.” He said quietly, his eyes resting on the very ring I was looking at.
My cheeks flushed at being caught, even when it was just looking at a simple ring. “I heard about your mother… I’m sorry Jason…”
My words brought his eyes up and he grimaced, his ruggedly handsome face twisted in pain but sincerity as well. “It was a very long time ago, Shyanne. She died protecting me and I avenged her death… where did you hear it from?” He asked curiously.
“Ash. She said that her friends still ‘keep in touch’ somehow and when the attack happened, it went through the grapevine.” I shrugged, my answer hanging in the air between us.
Bobbing his head in a nod, the chair squealed as he stood up. “Why don’t we get ready for bed?”
“Dibs on the shower; I feel dirty and nasty.”
“Well, you do kind of look like shit.”
He took off, his boots clumping on the tile in a rushed step.
“You are so gonna pay for that, mister!” I laughed, racing after him.
Kicking off my flats, I took the stairs two at a time and turned sharply, when his muscular arms wrapped around me. My little squeal was shushed as he clamped his hand over my mouth. “Hush, I actually want to be able to sleep over a few times and if you make more noise, your dad will probably prohibit me from entering your room.” He whispered humorously in my ear, his lips grazing the lobe.
My breath caught in my throat, like some stupid school girl on her first date. Pull it together, dumbass! Don’t let him think you’re already half in love with the kid.
Aha, but you are. Trust me, I know when someone falls in that pit; you fell the second you woke up with his hand on your back. Ash’s smug voice filled my mind after my mini-pep talk.
Shut up! I couldn’t even think about that right now. I had other things to worry about.
“Maybe I want you to be prohibited.” Hell no. “So don’t tell me what to do.” I said after he removed his hand and set me back on my feet.
“Don’t lie to yourself. I’m irresistible and if your dad did do that, I’d pull a Romeo…only mine would be a hell of a lot better, ’cause I’m a wolf.” He smirked as we walked to my room.
Raising my brows, I chucked my coat over my sleigh bed. “What does being a wolf have anything to do with that?”
He kicked off his boots near my door and then started to move towards me, slowly and with a predatory smile. Stalking me like I was his prey. “Because a wolf will do anything to get what he wants. And I want you; more than anything, Shyanne.”