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Here Comes the Sun

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Sherwood, Ohio. Of all the places my parents choose to move to, they choose this backwater, shithole of a town. In Ohio, as well. It’s like they want me to socially die. My dad’s company set him up in a standard house, nothing special, but we did get it for free. My mom found a nice job as a nursing administrator, better pay than her last job at least. We are not rich, by no means, and all of our money is going to my college fund. I need to get into a good school, but scholarships can only cover so much. We pulled up in the one vehicle we had to the two-story house. We brought very little, only the car load and a small U-Haul. The house was lightly furnished, part of the deal, so we didn’t need to bring too much. As I step out of the car, I see a girl bounding over with her family to greet us.
Kind of cute with her big glasses, she introduced herself as Betty Finn, saying they lived a couple of houses down. She said she was in my grade, starting classes with me on Monday. Her parents seem nice enough, and I can tell she is a little bit of a social outcast, at least a delta or lower.
That’s why my dad was relocated here—the whole town was full of werewolves. The company being based by werewolves and my family being some, they decided he would make a lot of money in a werewolf town. My dad was the alpha of our family, my mom being a delta. I am an omega, but I often act higher to avoid harassment. The cool thing is that you can have multiple packs based on location and time. Each family is a pack, each neighborhood is a pack, peer groups are a pack, etc. Betty’s dad must be the alpha of the neighborhood, based on his scent and demeanor. My dad then would take a different role within the neighborhood pack, like a beta. Packs at least have to have one person for each role but can have any number of each role beside alpha, meaning alphas often have to step down for larger packs. You can almost never move up in natural rank though.
Betty also mentions a party tonight at some guys house, and how everyone is going to be there. When I ask if she will go, she shrugs and says probably not, blaming it on too many alphas in one place. They bid us a good day and head back to their house, as we head into ours. After moving much of our stuff into the house, I ask about the party.
“No, we have stuff to do.” My dad is always quick to shut me down. However, there’s a reason alphas pair with the lower two levels. Being an omega/delta, you can influence the emotions and actions of alphas/betas, respectively, but the lower levels have an effect on the upper levels regardless of pair. Obviously, the alpha can use many means to influence all three others, but the strongest effect is an alpha on an omega/omega on an alpha, and the same for delta and beta. My mother approaches him, using a sweet voice in his ear. Whatever she says makes him reconsider. “Fine. But you have to be back by 1 am. We will go to church tomorrow.”
I nod, smiling, hugging them both. Later, dressed in a nice, but not over-the-top black and white outfit (my aesthetic), I head out the door. I checked the phone book, easily finding the address of said host. It’s only a couple of blocks away, up a hill, in the rich neighborhood, of course. I can tell the party has already started, based on the music blasting. The house is massive, but not the biggest on the street.
Walking in, I can tell why Betty would avoid this place. The scent of several alphas hit my nose, almost making me vomit. There are very few omega scents, so I’m sure I’ll stand out. I make my way around the room, just observing. I don’t drink. It’s stupid to lose your faculties. All I can see is a mosh-pit of dancers in the middle of the living room, scents flying everywhere, and couples on the edges of the room making out. I get a couple of glances but nothing more—a benefit of blending in. A couple of alpha males are forcing themselves on unwilling lower girls, abusing their power over them.
After observing for a while, I decide to wander around the house, a better chance to meet people who aren’t grinding on each other. The house itself was nice, three floors, modern arrangement, it was expensive. It was definitely better upstairs, much less scents to get used to. I walk up and down the halls, and there’s one room that suddenly hits me with a different scent. Usually, the alpha scent over powers the other scents, and it’s a confident and in-control scent. But this alpha’s…this sweet cherry and roses…it’s weak, barely there; the beta scent is so overpowering. It makes no sense. It’s wrong.

Chapter Text

I press my ear to the door, and I hear typical sex sounds, but only from the man. I take a chance, probably going to get murdered for it, but I crack the door open. The scent of alcohol joins the mix, and I see a man hovering over a female on the bed, but the female is hardly conscious. Either drunk or drugged, she is not in the position to consent. So I risk my own neck for hers. I swing the door open all the way, scaring him. He starts yelling at me to get out. Instead, I rush him, knocking him down. When he stands up, I get his junk in a vice grip, twisting harshly.
“If you ever touch her again…no. If you ever look at her again, I will castrate you and shove it up your ass.” Tears start falling down his face. “Now leave.” I twist his junk around, making him squeal further, and shove him towards the door. He leaves, and I check on the girl. Absolutely beautiful, her strawberry blonde hair is a mess, her make up smeared. Her eyes can hardly stay open, glassy and empty. Relatively unharmed, aside from her skirt and underwear pulled down, and a few attempts from him, she seems all right. I pull her skirt up and pull up her eyelid. Her pupils are dilated, and her breath has hardly any alcohol on it. Odd. “Hey,” I say quietly. I’m afraid to move her, because I don’t know why she’s so weak. “Can you hear me?” She doesn’t respond. I prop her up on her side, in case she vomits.
Sighing, I stand. I can’t move her on my own, and I don’t know who would help me. So I do the only thing that makes sense. She can sleep it off, but I don’t trust people. I make sure the door is closed tight, but there is no lock. I pull an arm chair over and put it in front of the door, and since it opens into the room, this will stop anyone from getting the door open. Now locked in the room with her, I don’t know how to get out. I sit in the chair and pull out my phone. I call my mom, explain to her what happened, and tell her I’m going to stay until she is able to defend herself again.
I pull up my legs and lounge in the chair, scrolling on my phone. I look up every so often to make sure she is breathing. A couple hours in, bored out of my mind, and she still hasn’t woken up. I feel myself drifting, it much later than when I usually go to sleep. I rest my head against the back of the chair and drift off, allowing myself to sleep.
I wake up with the morning light shining in my eyes. I groan, sitting up. The girl is gone, the chair I’m in shoved to the side to let her out. That’s nice. No thank you, not even bothering to wake me up. Probably used her scent to keep me asleep too. My phone says its only 7 or so in the morning. I stand and walk out of the house, avoiding sleeping bodies under my feet. I walk the short distance to my house, figuring my parents will make me go to church regardless. I slip into the house, finding my mom in the kitchen. She usually cooks breakfast in the morning.
I smile and tell her about my night. When she turns around, her face falls. “What?” I ask.
She rushes to me, her face worried. “Did you…do something with a boy last night?”
“What? No, mom. I told you, I—”
“Then someone marked you.”
“What?”
She pulls out her phone and turns it so I can see myself in the camera. On the left side of my neck, just below my pulse point, is a large, nasty hickey. I touch it, utterly confused. She stuck her nose on it, sniffing. “It’s fine. We’ll cover it with makeup and pray your father doesn’t spot it.”
I smile, grateful for my mother covering this with me. With church starting soon, I rush to shower and change, covering my neck with makeup. At the breakfast table, my father starts sniffing. I tense, but he shakes his head and goes back to eating. I dodged it this time.

Chapter Text

Monday morning rolls around, and my mother insists that I wear the dress she bought me. A nice steel grey, matching my glasses that I sometimes wear, it definitely is something I would wear. She can’t drive me to school, because she starts work earlier than I am ready for school, so I just shrug it off and walk. I don’t mind walking. It’s not that far to school. I kiss my father goodbye, and he tells me to be safe around all the new packs.
Once arriving at school, I can tell I’m already not going to fit in. These kids are driving expensive cars, wearing nice clothes, overdoing their hair. And I’m here with no hair product and only wearing makeup to hide a mark. Not only that, but I’m guessing almost everyone has a pack. I spot Betty getting dropped off by her father, and wave to her.
“I like your dress,” she says.
“Thanks. Do you mind if I follow you today?”
She smiles. She is kind of cute—like a child. “That’s great! I can show you around.” I follow her into the school, both of us expertly avoiding upper level people. I find my locker, but I’m already too nervous to approach. There are at least two alphas in the area, and being surrounded by their packs, I’m a lone wolf waiting to be pounced on. I take a deep breath, and approach.
I keep my head down and do my best to hold in my obvious omega scent. I don’t need any attention. I struggle to get my lock open, and I feel a presence behind me. Based on the scent, it’s another omega, so I turn. I see a larger girl, wearing a cat sweater. I smile.
“Need help?” she offers. I nod. “First day?” I nod again. “I’m Martha. Betty told me you’d be sitting with us today.”
“Gemma,” I offer, my light Yorkshire accent peeking through.
“Are you foreign?”
I shake my head. “No. Born in America. But for the past ten or so years, we lived in England. I couldn’t help but pick up an accent.” She smiles as she opens my locker. “Thank you.” I place my stuff inside, grabbing my books for class. The school gives us tablets for homework after school, but we can’t use them in class.
“What’s your first class?”
“AP Calc.”
She raises her eyebrows. “Wow. Math first thing in the morning, and its AP. Aren’t you a junior?” I nod. “Good luck.”
After Martha pointing me the right way, I walk into a small classroom. I sigh from relief. The only alpha scent in the room is from the teacher. There is a beta, but most of us are lower levels. I can do this. I easily make it through class, just remaining silent and paying attention. The other three classes of the morning are also a breeze, a couple of them classes I’ve already taken.
At lunch, I get my food and stand awkwardly looking for Betty or Martha. While I’m looking, a girl hits me in the shoulder with hers, like we’re in junior high. I roll my eyes and eventually find Betty, waving at me. I sit next to her, with Martha and another girl named Katherine across from me. Katherine is a beta. There is no alpha. This isn’t a pack.
As I eat my soggy burger, I feel eyes burning into me. To be expected, new and all. At some point, Betty nudges me. “Look who’s staring.”

Chapter Text

I look up, searching. Eventually, at the next table over, I lock eyes with a girl clad in red. She slowly munches on a piece of carrot, openly staring, eyes slightly narrowed. I feel like I should know who that is, but I can’t place her face. I ask Betty who it is.
“Heather Chandler. The almighty Demon Queen of high school. Probably—no, actually-- one of the strongest alphas here. A mythic bitch. The girl next to her, in blue, Veronica Sawyer. She’s a delta. The girl in green is the beta, Heather Duke, and the girl in yellow is a delta, but she acts like the omega, Heather McNamara.”
“Wait,” I laugh, still locked with Heather Chandler. “They’re all named Heather?” Betty confirms, then starts rambling about their lives and what makes them so perfect. I can’t break my eyes away from her, regardless of whether or not she was forcing me to look at her. Finally, the realization of who she was hits me, my mouth dropping open a bit, the realization surely showing on my face, as the mark on my neck starts to burn slightly. She was the girl I found in the room at the party. She was the one who marked me. I’ve never been marked, so I have no idea what it means or why an alpha would do it, especially on someone not in her pack. My hand presses itself into the mark, an attempt to soothe it, but it only flares more. At this point I cannot look away. I try, but her hold on me is too strong. Betty was asking me something, but I can’t even hear her anymore. My mind is completely occupied on Chandler. A side smirk creeps up the side of her face, then she releases me. I feel like my head has been held under water this hold time. I take a deep breath and look at Betty next to me, the mark slowly ebbing. The world snaps back into place, and I realize Betty is shaking me. “I’m fine. She just…” I close my eyes, the new rush of stimulation, making me sick. I rest my head down, not caring to eat anymore. After a while, I feel like vomiting. “I’m going to throw up,” I mumble, dumping my tray, and retreating to the bathroom nearby.
I shove open a stall door and heave into the toilet. Usually, I would feel better after heaving, but it doesn’t go away. I simply sit in the ground, not caring about germs at the moment. My eyes drift closed, and I hear the door swing open and heels clicking in. I wouldn’t have cared, but cherry and roses fill the room, extremely overpowering, my mark burns, and I vomit once more.
“God, she reeks.” I attempt to stand, flushing the toilet. I try to calm myself, but with the scents they’re forcing out and the mark burning, it’s incredibly difficult. “Open the door,” one of them says calmly. No alpha voice, thank God.
I can hardly focus. “Stop,” I weakly say. I hear a malicious laugh, and the mark burns worse. I feel like passing out. I open the door regardless, leaning heavily on the stall. I’m met with the green one, Heather Duke, standing directly outside the stall. Her scent is very minty. Like she always chews spearmint gum. Over her shoulder, Heather McNamara, looks on with slightly concerned eyes. She smells like lemons, and she needs to quit being an omega, by the look of her. On the other side of the stall is the blue one, the non-Heather, Veronica, smelling like blueberries. And sitting on the counter directly in front of me is the red one, the alpha, the Demon Queen herself. Heather Chandler. Her sharp grey eyes bore into mine, and I grab onto the door to steady myself. Amusement tints her eyes as she cocks her head to the side, examining me. After a few agonizing seconds, she lets the mark start to fade. She doesn’t force me to look her in the eye, so I gratefully drop my gaze. The bathroom door swings open, and I lean around Veronica to see Betty, afraid. “Betty, go.” I use a voice stronger than I should, especially to someone higher than me, but she leaves with a squeak anyway. She doesn’t need to be involved in this.
Chandler leans on her palm, and once I finally have enough strength, I leave the stall. I cross my arms, trying to be a bit more intimidating. I know it’ll fail, with four people higher than me, but I will try regardless. Her smile hasn’t left her face, and Duke is the first one to speak. “You stink. Quit sending out your scent.” She was the one that spoke first when they walked in, based on the voice.
“Shut up, Heather.” Chandler gives the order in a quiet voice but uses her power nonetheless. I shiver.
“Sorry, Heather.” Duke backs down from me a bit. I take her advice, and resume my effort to keep my scent in. Chandler does the opposite, forcing hers out onto me. I can’t deny, it smells great.
“Why did you mark me?” I ask, ignoring her scent as much as possible.
She raises a perfect eyebrow, when Veronica answers, “Who said you could talk?”
Chandler, ignoring her, answers the question in an incredibly sweet voice. “I don’t get a thank you for the gift? No other alpha has bothered you yet, thanks to me.” I roll my eyes. She hops off the counter and stalks towards me. I can feel the fear she’s trying to force on me, but I stand tall regardless. “I’m waiting.”
I swallow. “Yeah. Thanks.”
She narrows her eyes at me. “I don’t appreciate the attitude.”
“And I don’t appreciate getting marked by someone who isn’t my alpha.”
Her face shows shock briefly, but she recovers. “You need to learn your place, omega.”
Her being taller than me, I stand a little on my toes to get closer. “And who’s going to teach me? You?” I laugh, backing up. “Come on then. Try me.” I shouldn’t have goaded her. I know that. Because now I really know how far the mark can go. She flared it, matching her nostrils, harsher than I could have imagined, and all of their scents suddenly overpowered me. I turned and vomited into the toilet again, then struggled to hang onto consciousness. I felt a pair of hands drag me out of the stall and drop me onto the floor. The wolf inside me started panicking a little, and in turn, fight mode takes over. I started swinging and kicking, but Veronica easily holds me down. The world started closing around me. I could hardly breathe, and my vision narrowed, on the brink of unconsciousness. I could see her strawberry hair peek into my vision, but I was suddenly released. I took a huge gasping breath, coughing, and Veronica hoisted me up quickly.
The door to the bathroom swung open, and a teacher, a delta, walked in. “Ladies. What is going on?”
Chandler responded quickly. “Ms. Fleming. The new girl wasn’t feeling well. We were helping her.”
“I’m sure. Is that why I could smell you all the way down the hall?”
“I apologize. Sometimes I can’t help it when an omega is in trouble.”
The teacher, Ms. Fleming, sighs. “Get her to the nurse then. Lunch is almost over.”
“Of course.” The teacher left. The scents have slowly died down, and my body was slowly gaining its stability back. Against my own active choice, I let out a light growl, my wolf seeking to get out of the situation. The girls laugh, enjoying my reaction. Chandler brings her slim hand to my face, forcing my face to look up at her. I force myself to look in her eyes, though my submissive side is begging to back down. “Have you learned your lesson yet?” Everything in me screams yes, but I still say no with a laugh. She smiles slightly, about to say something, but the bell rings. “Saved by the bell. Watch yourself.” They finally leave, leaving by rank out the door. I take a deep breath, and head out as well, racing to my locker. I make it to my next class, English, relatively on time. Again, another small class room, and the only empty seats are in the front row. Too panicked, it takes me a minute to realize the now familiar scent of cherries and roses wafting through the room. How the Hell do people survive classes with her?
The teacher makes a point to introduce me, and I blush as she tells them I’m from England. I start to correct her, but she interrupts me to start teaching. I glance back towards the source of the scent, finding the red Heather sitting smug in her seat, an amused look in her eye. I can tell, however, that the last push of her power over me took a lot out of her, as she is pale, and her scent isn’t as powerful. That doesn’t stop her from making my mark itch a little. I can hardly focus throughout the class, not really caring either since we’re reading “The Grapes of Wrath,” which I have read too many times to count.
Thankfully, I don’t have any more classes with her. However, some of the rest of her pack is in each, but at least I can shove their scents in with everyone else’s and focus. At the end of the day, I start the walk home, grateful for the warm day to warm my skin and the fresh air to let my nose rest. I enjoy the walk home, taking my time and humming as I go. Several cars pass, most going to the rich part of town, but most notably, a red Porsche. I roll my eyes at the rich kids, showing off, and walk inside.
My dad is on me in a second. He works weird hours—either traveling for weeks on end or at home all day, or both. He was home before me, and he must have smelled something. “Who’s been on you?”
I don’t try to deny it. “Just some girls. It was stupid. I’m fine.”
He shakes his head. “You need to quit getting in fights. Learn to submit.”
“I will when I find my own alpha, not to some random ones that like picking on me. I can’t always get beat up.”
“You won’t find an alpha without getting beat up a few times.”
I nod, giving up the fight, heading up to my room to do homework.

Chapter Text

The next day, I don’t bother looking as nice, just jeans and a shirt. I leave early so I can walk slowly to school. Half-way there, and the Porsche is back. It zooms by, then screeches to a halt. I catch up in my walk, trying my best to ignore it. Instead, the window rolls down, and nonother than Chandler pokes her head out. “Get in.”
“No thanks. It’s a nice day.”
“It wasn’t a request, omega.”
Groaning, I begrudgingly get into her passenger seat. “What?”
“You’re welcome for the ride.”
“Mhm. Thanks.”
After a few brief moments, “Can you stop that?” she almost yells.
I instinctually flinch. “Stop what?”
“Stop forcing your scent on me.”
“It’s kind of hard not to when I’m alone in a confined space with an alpha that hasn’t hesitated to hurt me before.” Regardless, I try to pull in my scent, which I’m told reminds people of Paris in the rain.
“I…I need to ask you something.” I wait patiently, keeping my gaze on my hands. “Why did you help me at the party?”
I chew my cheek for a moment. “I don’t know. I just figured if you were able to, you would have stopped it.” She doesn’t answer, her grip tightening on the wheel. “I’m sorry if I crossed a line.”
She shakes her head. “No. It’s fine.” There is a comfortable silence. “Thank you.”
My head snaps up to look at her. Did she just thank me? I furrow my brow. “Yeah. No problem.”
I think I see a smile tug on her stone face, but it is gone before it grows any further. “So you’re friends with the Coodie-Squad, huh?”
“What?”
“Martha and Betty.”
I shrug. “Betty’s dad is my neighborhood alpha. Kinda have to be nice to her.”
“That just means you can’t be mean to her.” I don’t care to respond. “Why do you act higher than you are?” She actually turns her gaze over to me when she asks it, and I immediately turn down my gaze. I don’t answer however. She shrugs and turns back to the road. “I don’t tolerate insubordination.”
“You sound like a war general,” I mumble.
“I’m serious,” her tone shifting closer to her alpha tone. My inner wolf perks up a bit. “When that mark wears off, you’re screwed. Figure your shit out.”
Risking it, I look up at her. “And how do I do that?”
She slams on the brakes, pulling the car to a stop. Quickly undoing her seatbelt, she flings over to me, her claws drawn, her teeth peeking out. She clamps her hand down on my throat, squeezing, and my wolf forces out a quiet whimper. “First, lose that attitude and learn to submit for once,” she hisses. I’m tempted. I’m tempted to let out a weak whine, bare my neck, and take the punishment. But I’m stupid like that. I don’t. And when I don’t, she slams her other hand into my gut, forcing me to curl up. Using her full form alpha voice, forcing her scent on me, and my mark heating up, she snarls, “Submit. Now.”
This time, with her full force, I can no longer fight her. My inner wolf takes over, and I submit. I let out that weak whine I hate, especially when it’s forced out of me. Her hand leaves my throat, and I bare my neck, whimpering in submission. Along with that, my scent rushes out stronger than ever, begging her to have mercy on me.
She lets out a long, powerful growl, bringing her face to my neck. She nuzzles it a bit, and opens, ready to lay the bite that seals my submission towards her. Suddenly pulling back, her eyes are ablaze. “Stop that!” I know she’s talking about my scent, but it’s natural for an omega when threatened to release it. No matter how much she hates it, she retracts her nails and teeth, her eyes slowly dulling. She gives me a weird look, an emotion I don’t understand, and she thankfully sits back in her seat. I let out the breath I was holding, leaning forward to put my head on my knees. I hold back tears. Never had I avoided a bite from an alpha. Unfortunately, however, she has not recognized my submission officially.
“Thank you,” I whisper.
“Shut up,” she grumbles, putting the car back in drive.
I remain hunched over until we reach the school, the mark a dull constant pain. I pull down the mirror and check the mark, making sure the makeup stayed under her hand. My disobedient will temporarily broken, her scent has an even greater effect on me. I wait patiently, curled into myself, remaining quiet and submissive.
Heather sighs, grabbing her things from the back seat. I press myself against the door, hiding as much as I can from her. She gets out, and I follow, breathing in as much as I can before being enveloped in her scent again. She starts marching towards the school, and I feel pulled after her, my wolf begging for more of her scent. I know better than to talk, so I dip my head and follow close behind. I catch a sight of Betty and wave her off. We make it to Heather’s locker, and the other three are waiting there.
“What took you so long?” Duke asks.
“None of your fucking business.”
They finally spot me hovering nearby. “What do you want?”
I ignore her. She’s not the one I’m submitted to right now. However, when red Heather finally turns, locking me into her dark grey gaze, I perk up. “Yes,” she purrs. “What do you want?”
Her smirk grows as I grit my teeth. “You need to release me.”
She leans on her locker, smiling like the predator she is. “I can’t hear you. Can you repeat that?”
My face grows hot. She’s dragging this out way longer than needed, just to torture me. “You need to release me,” I say a bit louder, earning a laugh from green Heather.
“That’s not very polite.”
I have to bite the bullet. I can’t be late to class. “Can you please release me?” I ask, using my scent and my tone to try to influence her more.
Her face softens for a moment, but snaps back when Duke sneers, “Your scent stinks. Stop pushing it!”
“Shut up, Heather!” Heather mumbles her apology. “Alright. Go.”
Like a thousand pounds are removed from my chest, I take a deep breath and retreat. I race to my locker, class starting any second. I make it in time, but to my own hatred, I now recognize the one beta in my calc class is nonother than Heather Duke. She gives me a death glare as I walk in, but I could care less. I’m not afraid of her. I’m afraid of lunch.
And by the time lunch rolls around, I want to pass out. It took a lot out of me to submit to Chandler, and I don’t want to deal with her at lunch. People have made a point of steering clear. You can always smell when a lower submits to a higher. My scent will be out of control for a while, my wolf unable to cope. I skip lunch, half-expecting just to throw it all up. I plop down next to Betty, burying my face in my arms.
“Oh my gosh,” Katherine says. “You smell…you smell…”
“Like I submitted to Heather Chandler?” I mumble.
Betty rubs my back. “We all did at one point too.”
Yeah. That makes me feel better. “Where’s your bite?” Martha suddenly adds in.
“She stopped before she bit.”
“She’s never let anyone go like that. You’re so lucky.”
I can tell when she enters the lunchroom, from the people quieting down, her scent, and the mark flaring slightly. It’s wearing off, since they only last so many days. I feel the sudden urge to look up at them, and I fight it. I turn my head to Betty, who was looking at them.
“She’s really staring. It’s kind of scary.”
“Tell me about it,” I mutter. “She won’t leave me alone.”
“What did you do to her?”
I open my mouth to speak, but my throat closes up. I rotate my head, and I lock eyes with her grey ones. Heather looks like she’s struggling incredibly, her face flushed, anger obvious. How the hell is she doing this? Not only that, but could she hear our conversation? I furrow my brow at her, but turn my head to Betty, shaking it. She asks if I’m ok, and I gesture towards Heather, standing up. I then book it out of the cafeteria, making a point to glare at the pack on my way out.
I hope they follow, at least Chandler. It’s only the second day, and I cannot deal with this. I can’t focus. I can’t function. I can smell their approach, and I wait patiently in the restroom for them. Veronica enters first, claws out. She doesn’t do anything, but the threat is there. The others follow, and I ignore my wolf starting to whine.
“What’s your damage, Heather?” My claws grow slightly.
She cocks an eyebrow. “See, we were going to offer something. But if you’re going to act like that…”
My inner wolf starts pawing happily, and confused, I just don’t answer. I hate that they can feel if my wolf reacts a certain way.
She smiles. “On Tuesdays, we go running as a pack.” And? She quietly watches me.
“And?” I urge.
“A deal. Run with us for a night. After that, if you still want us to leave you alone, we will.”
My wolf all but howls in excitement. I haven’t been running since we’ve left, and even then, I hardly ever ran. Living in an urban setting with wolves rare, it was hard to go. My wolf needs a good run. Regardless, I’m utterly confused. “What? Why?”
“Heather wants to see what you’ve got, dumbass.” Duke steps forward, a joke of a threat with Veronica in front of me.
I bite my lip. I feel like this is going to be a trick or something. A way for them to torture me more. They sense my hesitation, and McNamara speaks for once. “Listen. It’s not that big of a deal. We won’t do anything to you.” She reaches for me, and I gently avoid her. “I promise.”
“Fine. But if you try anything, I’m out.” It’s an empty threat, but they nod anyway. “And a deal is a deal.” They nod again. A weird smile is tugging on Chandler’s lips. They start to make their way out. Before leaving, Chandler slips back in.
“Don’t tell anyone.” It’s not a command, so much as a plea. And I understand what she means, about the party. I nod. “And your mark is done. Be careful.”
She leaves, and my wolf cries a little. I wonder why my wolf is so attached to such a bitch. Maybe because she was the first person to force her dominance on me. I leave to head to English, and on the way, I know what she meant. The alphas swarm, the fresh, new, unmasked scent of an omega without a pack too hard to resist. Most of them are men, and a couple try marking me too. I end up kneeing one in the balls, luckily avoiding most of the moves on me. I finally make it to the classroom, saved by the teacher. My skin is crawling, all of the alphas rubbing their dirty noses on me. I send a quick text to my father about running tonight, hoping he says yes. I need to rid myself of Heather. He eventual tells me yes, as long as I am at school on time.
After class, I catch Heather. “What do I do about tonight?”
“We will stop by tonight at 6 to pick you up. Bring a change of clothes for tomorrow.”
I nod, letting her go. After school, I take a nice steady walk home. I work on homework until I hear a honk outside. I peek out to see a green Jeep, the top down, allowing me to see the Heathers and Veronica sitting inside. I kiss my mother goodbye and walk outside, refusing to run like my wolf wants me to. Veronica opens the door for me, scooting over so I can fit. For once, their scents are a pleasant level, or maybe I’m just getting used to it.
“What other packs have you had?” Chandler asks from the front seat.
I watch the houses die down as we head out of town. “None. I usually run with other omegas.”
Duke glances over at Chandler. “Is that why you’re so ballsy?”
“Sure. I can’t allow my friends to get beat up.”

Chapter Text

It doesn’t take long to get out to a field, a short grass covering the field. I haven’t shifted in so long. I’m nervous to try it. But my wolf is bouncing around happily, excited to be let loose. I crawl out, standing awkwardly. The others start to strip under the moonlight. I blush, pointedly looking away.
“Come on. You’ll tear your clothes.” Veronica calls.
I wait until they’ve fully shifted and change behind the car where they can’t see me. “Ok. Now don’t judge. I haven’t done this in a long time.” I hear an impatient huff. I hear paws making their way over, and I cover my half naked body, screaming. “Hey! A little privacy!” They stop, before they see me. I step back from the car, then crouch. I can hardly focus, with my attention on my nakedness. Eventually, I get focused enough to let me wolf loose. I hear them approach, right as it hits me, and nearly lose it. I feel embarrassed, knowing they’re watching me shift. I shift fully and release the loudest, fullest howl I’ve ever released. I stretch and shake myself loose, relishing in the freedom granted. My fur takes a moment, but it eventually changes from my hair color of light brown to the dull silver of my fur. Its gorgeous, and I love it.
Once I’ve adjusted, I observe the others in front of me. They match their hair colors—McNamara a light yellow, like a yellow lab, Duke a midnight black, Chandler a foxy red, and Veronica a deep brown. I’m obviously the smallest of the group, as an omega should be, but not far behind McNamara. Chandler sits, taller than us all and twice my weight. Her grey eyes match my fur.
I whine impatiently, scratching at the ground. I need to run. They are all sitting now. I could just go without them. But that ruins the purpose of us going as a group. They all stare at me, so I finally sit. When they don’t move, I roll my eyes (metaphorically), huff, and lay fully down, whimpering slightly, avoiding their eyes. Finally, they accept, standing. I jump up, excited. I bounce around, much like my wolf did at the offer. Chandler eventually starts walking slowly towards the field. I understand that we have all night, but it’s been a couple of weeks since I ran, and years since I’ve done it with a true alpha. My dad hardly runs anymore.
I follow along McNamara, where I was kindly guided by her. Once we reach towards the center of the field, Chandler lets out a deep, powerful howl. The others join in. I would feel odd joining in, since this isn’t my pack, so I sit and wait. Once finished, Chandler sits, looking at all of us. Suddenly, McNamara starts bouncing around and takes off like a bullet. Veronica soon follows, and Duke huffs before trotting behind. Chandler holds me in her gaze, and I whine. Finally, she lowers her head at me, effectively nodding. I take off, sprinting as fast as I can to catch up. My legs feel amazing, like I can finally stretch. The air blows over my fur, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this good. It doesn’t take me long to catch and then overtake the other girls. I reach a fence, then pivot and race back to Heather. I don’t plan the stop soon enough, skidding to a dusty stop in front of her.
The others eventually catch up, and I start to bounce around to play. McNamara starts, but Chandler barks, and she stops. Chandler stands, then starts to draw a line in the dirt. Confused, I watch the others stand in a row behind it. I follow suit, impatient. Chandler stands in the middle. She sits. Everyone follows, so do I. She stands, we follow. She barks quick, and everyone takes off, me with a slightly delay. Oh. It’s a race. Chandler obviously is in front, easily, with Duke and Veronica neck and neck a wolf-length behind. McNamara is next, already panting heavily. Once I realize it’s a race, I let loose. It doesn’t take long to reach Veronica, her giving me a surprised look. Eventually, I’m filling the space between Chandler and the other two. Chandler easily turns, and our eyes meet when I pass her to turn after her. I really, really, want to beat her. So I push harder, well aware I’m not in shape for this. I reach about half way up her torso before I realize she isn’t even trying. She’s not panting. We finish, the two of us, then closely followed by the next two, McNamara bringing up the rear with a tired whine.
I collapse, lying flat on my side, panting heavily and happily. Chandler stands over me, then starts barking. I perk up, confused. Either way, she’s intimidating, so I scoot back on my stomach, staying flat. Her barking is aggressive, and she stands like she wants to fight. What did I do wrong? Is she upset that I almost won? She hovers over me. Fine. I’ll fight her I guess. What else can I do? I could submit, but I refuse to apologize for racing. I look at her, my scent starting to get stronger. She pounces anyway.
Her body slams into mine, and I roll away, protecting my throat. All right. So this is what they wanted. To beat me up like a wolf so it wouldn’t show so much when I’m human. I start panicking, unsure of how far to go before submitting. Her whole pack is here, watching on silently. She snarls at me, and I wait. I can only win while acting defensively. As long as I can dodge, I’ll do ok. After wrestling, me slipping out of her grasp every now and then, I eventually tire. I growl, albeit a weak one, but its my way of saying I’m not giving in. She growls back, and I shrink a little. But when she stops, I pounce, my jaw successfully closing on her throat. I could kill her if I was strong enough. But I’m not. And I’m not stupid. She’s stunned, slightly, so I take the chance to back up. I have to submit. I have to apologize before she kills me. I lay flat on my stomach, let out that pathetic whine, and release my scent, as much as I did in her car.
She stands, padding over to me. I watch her paws, getting ready to bare my neck when she seeks for it. She growls, and I take that as the time to roll over. I roll onto my back, exposing my neck for her. I close my eyes, whimpering. I can feel her hovering over me, smell her scent, and I patiently wait for her to punish me.
Instead, I feel a soft lick along my muzzle. Confused, I look up at her, beautiful as ever in the moonlight. It could be a trick. I involuntarily whimper. She licks me again, backing up. I roll over, standing up. The others are sitting in a circle. I start backing up, not ready to take on everyone. I start whining, pleading. Chandler huffs.
McNamara appears next to me, also licking my snout. Her eyes are bright, and she starts bouncing around, like she wants to play. I look at the others who are now next to each other, lying down. So everything is ok? She’s not mad? Unsure, I start bouncing with McNamara. She barks happily, and we start playing, rolling around. We play for a while, and I have to tone it down to make it fair. She tires easily, eventually trotting over to rest her head under Duke’s. I awkwardly sit in front of the group, unsure of what to do next. I look up at the moon, and its hardly midnight. Chandler eventually gets it, standing. She stretches and licks her lips. I lick mine as well, agreeing that it is time to eat. I assume with a town of wolves, herbivores for hunting are abundant. I follow as they trot out of the field, towards more tree field areas. Eventually we start running, keeping it at a decent pace for McNamara. We find the scent of some deer. I spot a large buck in the group, more than enough to feed us all. Chandler sits. The others wait, then sit as well.
Chandler stares at me. I huff. No way. I’m not hunting on my own. The others lay down around her. I growl slightly but start trotting off anyway. I sneak up, and I wonder if I can take down a buck that large by myself. I stalk for a while, and I can see Chandler’s silhouette waiting on a hill. Eventually, I pounce, when there are no fawns in the way and he’s eating. It takes me a minute, but I eventually catch him. I try to take him down, but I only take out a leg. It shouldn’t be hard to get his neck, since I’m at that height. I do get a good snap on his neck. I kill him, licking the blood up. I really want to dig in, especially when this isn’t my pack, but it’s risky to eat before an alpha, regardless of who got the kill and who’s pack you’re in. Instead, I submit, scooting back on my stomach and licking my paws while I wait.
They eventually approach, Chandler looking over the kill. Eventually, she seems to approve, sitting. I look up at her, wondering why she hasn’t dug in yet. She huffs, pawing at it. Am I supposed to tear it open? I stand and go for it. Whatever. I don’t understand what’s going on. I start to carefully open up the carcass, trying to not get any meat in my mouth. Once open I step back. Chandler starts to eat, like the prissy bitch she is. I clean the blood off my face while I wait. Omegas rarely get much to eat on a hunt. The others finish eating, and there is still meat left. I take advantage, eating as much as I can. I also eat some of the organs, not really caring about taste. Once finished, we start trotting back to the beginning field.
In the middle of it, they lay down, Duke resting protectively over McNamara. I’m not tired, so I stay standing. There are a lot of new scents around, and I hope they don’t care if I sniff around. I trot around, taking in all the new territory, matching scents to people. This is obviously Chandler’s ground. I appreciate that time to myself, missing the countryside of England. I know I’ll be tired tomorrow, but this is wonderful. Regardless of who I came with, I’m glad I took the opportunity. I hear a distant howl, and I realize I’ve ran quite a ways. I run back, finding Duke, McNamara, and Veronica asleep in a pile. Chandler looks tired but is sitting up regardless. I stand a few paces away. Chandler huffs, pawing at the ground. I cautiously walk over and sit in front of her, my tail wagging loosely. I feel so small and powerless. I hate it. I lick her paws clean, the blood on her perfect fur bothering me. I earn a small lick on my snout as response.
She stares at me for a long time, and it makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Her scent slowly wafts over me, and I suddenly feel exhausted. I try to stay awake but end up lying down at her feet. As a sign of thanks or maybe “don’t kill me while I sleep,” I lick her paws lightly, then close my eyes. I feel her shift over me, and her head comes to rest above mine, her paws forcing their way under my paws. I understand what she’s doing, and I’m not sure I want to allow it. However, once I’m under her protective pose, and her scent washing over me gently, I give up and fall asleep.
I wake up to her cleaning my muzzle gently. I jump a little, wondering what time it is. I start to panic, but Heather’s scent hits me again, and I calm slightly. She slowly stands, stretching. When I make eye contact with McNamara, she starts wagging her tail like a puppy. The others start to wake up, and I hope we aren’t late for school. I’ll be dead if I am.
We make our way slowly back to the Jeep, and I realize I now have to get naked again. I get around the car and concentrate. Another thing I’ve forgotten how to do is shift back. It takes me a minute, but it happens. When I stand up, I’m greeted with Veronica leaning in for her clothes, no shame. I cover myself and squat, dragging my clothes out. I change quickly, so I don’t get jumped by Chandler walking around the car. I crawl in, checking the time on the radio. It’s only 6, so we have plenty of time to get ready for school. I relax, sitting back. I could sleep for two more hours. I think I fall asleep, because I wake up and we are at Chandler’s house, Veronica shaking me awake.
I yawn, crawling out of the car. The Chandler Mansion stands imposing above me. Impressed, I follow the girls inside. We find glasses of orange juice in the kitchen, then head upstairs. We enter Heather’s room, a very classy and large red and white room. She makes her way for the shower, and the others start getting ready as well. I run my fingers through my hair, and that’s basically it. Besides my teeth and some deodorant, I’m good. I awkwardly stand in the room, the bed too perfect to sit on. I sit on her desk chair instead, resting my head on her desk. I fall asleep again, waking up to Heather snapping at me.

Chapter Text

“Helllllloooo. Wake up!”
I snap my head up. “What?”
“You can use this toothbrush and anything you find in the bathroom.”
I mumble my thanks and finish getting ready, sleep calling me back. I don’t use her perfume. One, that’s rude. Two, I don’t want to smell any more like her than I already do. I’m proud of myself. I spent 12 hours with these girls and didn’t die or piss them off, for the most part.
“No makeup?” Duke asks.
I shake my head. She approaches me. “No. I don’t do any makeup.” She backs down, thankfully.
Chandler leans against her vanity, doing her makeup. “So? What do you think?”
I bite my lip, staring out the window to avoid her gaze. “It was fine. Thanks.”
“No, dumbass. About our offer.” Duke really needs to—
“Shut up, Heather!”
Thank you, Chandler. “Sorry Heather.”
I shrug. “Do I really have to decide right now?”
“No. Take your time.” Sarcasm.
I sigh. “Did I pass your stupid tests?”
There’s a cold silence, but I refuse to turn around. In a very terse tone, “Yes. Better than I expected. Too bad you aren’t higher.”
I can feel her staring. I don’t want to decide now. But I know if I go into school without some form of protection, I’ll be dealing with horny alphas for weeks. I finally turn to look at them all. I debate saying no. They don’t need another member. But I do need an alpha. High school will be hell if I don’t have one. Just look at the “Coodie-Squad.” McNamara almost looks like she’s pleading me to say yes. I also feel Chandler’s scent having an effect on me. I roll my eyes.
“I can’t make a proper decision with you influencing me, Heather.”
She stands, a grin filling her face. My wolf bounces at her approach. “You can feel it. Hell, we can all feel it.” I do my best to shut my wolf up, but with each step she takes, my wolf only gets more excited. With her in my face, looking down at me, my heart pounds, and my wolf is nearly howling. She reaches up, running the back of her fingers over my cheek. I want to move, but her scent draws me in. I hate this. I hate that my rational part tells me to run, but everything else is forcing me to stay. After a few moments, and once she’s sure I’m hooked, she backs up. She’s like a drug. I’ve never been hooked to someone so easily. I whine at her absence, and she smiles knowingly. “You can’t resist,” she purrs. She’s right. I can’t. “But I understand. If you don’t want to be a part of this…” She suddenly sucks in every last ounce of scent, and my heart almost breaks. I feel empty and abandoned by the lack of her scent.
I groan. I swallow my pride. “Fine,” I mumble. McNamara starts to hug me. “I’m not committing to anything!” Her face falls. Chandler nods, a small smile on her lips. I make my way towards the door. “Let’s just go.”
“Do you want another mark for school?”
“No! You’ll just abuse it.”
“Suit yourself.”
At school, I do regret not getting one. Both alphas by my locker start harassing me. They’re both girls, so I don’t have to deal with sexual comments. Instead, they just insult and try to humiliate me. I ignore it. I’ve had worse. I walk to class, ignoring Duke. She’s so smug. I can’t stand looking at her. Throughout the morning, I try so hard to stay awake. I take worthless notes, if any. By lunch time, I need a hardcore nap. I rest my tray down next to Betty, eat quickly and tell her to wake me up when lunch is over. I sleep soundly, but my dreams are invaded by a large red wolf with silver eyes.
I’m woken up suddenly when some jock slams his hand down on the table. He starts making jokes about Martha’s weight. I jump up, getting between them quickly.
He reeks of beta, but I don’t care. “Back of, jackass.”
“Aw. An omega defending an omega.”
“Try me.”
He laughs. I swing, connecting hard against his jaw. I hear his head smack against the floor, then smell a million different alphas at once, including a few teachers. The guy’s alpha (probably) starts bounding over. I pray he tries to hit me. The principal gets to me before him, dragging me off to his office. After crying and blaming it on adjustment issues, he waves me off, a warning. I enter English late, give my slip to the teacher. I’m already on edge, and I do not need Chandler messing with me anymore. When I finally decide to look at her, she gives me a look that says, “Not bad.” Yeah. Not bad to get my ass beat by every alpha around. After school, I start to walk home. I hear a car horn, and see a red Porsche roll along beside me. She gives me a look, and without a word, I get in.
I keep quiet. I don’t want to repeat the last car ride alone together. Luckily, my wolf is just as tired as I am. As expected, she doesn’t allow silence. “Made a decision yet?”
I look out the window. “Are you really offering me a spot?” I can’t believe it. I’ve known her three days.
“Do you know why?” I shake my head. I don’t have enough experience for stuff like this. “Think about it. Why do you think I have so much influence over you?”
“Because you marked me without my consent, and you’re an alpha and I’m an omega?”
“No, dipshit. Sometimes, certain people are instantly compatible.”
“What? Like mates?” She doesn’t answer. “Woah. Woah! I am not…I’m not into girls! And I hardly know you!”
“But it makes sense, doesn’t it?”
“No! It doesn’t!”
“Last time in the car, your scent forced me to calm down so fast, it gave me a headache. And usually, marks only have that strong of an effect on a person in an alpha’s pack.”
“So, you’re pulling the whole ‘it was meant to be’ bullshit?” I groan.
“Listen to your wolf.” I close my eyes. No. This can’t be. “Your wolf goes nuts every time I get close.” She pauses. “Mine does too.”
I start laughing. “Fuck this. Let me out.”
“No.”
I turn to her. “I’m not your mate. And I don’t want to be in your pack!”
She stops on the side of the road. She grabs my face lightly, my wolf perking. “I want you to look me in the eye and say that again. I won’t influence you.”
I almost say it. “I—I—” But I can’t. I know she has nothing to do with it. But I can’t deny my inner wolf. I can’t deny the chance that she is right. It does make sense. It does explain a lot. I swallow, shaking my head.
Her grip is soft on my face, her air calm. My wolf starts begging, and I grow angry that she’s right. She smiles, a soft smile that doesn’t match her usual ones. “You feel it? They’re searching for each other…”
I swallow, pulling out of her touch. “Can you just take me home?”
She stares at me for a moment, then drives.
I manage to last the next two day of school. I defend myself a couple of times, but otherwise, I’m left alone. Martha thanks me over and over for defending her, and Katherine and Betty chide me for being so stupid. I successfully avoid the Heathers and Veronica besides class, up until the end of the day. I close my locker, turning face first into Veronica’s chest.
“Bloody Hell. Creep, much?” I scold.
Heather Chandler appears around her shoulder. “You’re going to the party tomorrow.”
“No. I don’t party.”
“Bullshit. You’re coming. I’ll pick you up at 9.”
They bound off, walking towards the parking lot, arm in arm. I sigh, starting my march home. It was my parent’s time to go for a run as a family. But it was just me and my mom, so we just don’t. Instead, we watch a movie together.
“Mom? Can I go to a party tomorrow?”
She sighs. “It was a fight to get you there last time.”
“I know. But these girls really want me to go.”
She raises her eyebrows. “Girls? A pack?”
I nod. “I don’t know if I’ll join or not.”
“You should! Finding a pack is key to success in high school.”
“You don’t know them mom. They’re…mean.”
“All girls are in high school. Just listen to your wolf. Let her decide.”
“I’ll ask dad when he comes home if I can go.”
“He’s gone this weekend. Just call him now.”
I do, and after a long battle about fitting in, he let’s me go, as long as I go to church in the morning. I thank him and have a nice evening with my mom.
I already have a test on Monday, so I study all day. I hear a car pull up, and a knock on the door. Soon, “Gemma! Your friends are here!”
I come down the stairs to meet them at the door. They walk up to my room. “I’m ready,” I say, confused.
“Not in that, you’re not.” Veronica starts tearing through my closet. Heather leads me to my mirror.
Chandler starts messing with different possible hairstyles, all the while my wolf bouncing at her presence. She finally settles on down, deciding it frames my face better. She starts braiding different parts in my hair. She reaches for some makeup.
“No! I don’t want any.”
“Why do you have it then?” She starts to reach for it. “Fine. Blush, mascara, lip gloss. That’s it.”
I nod, a compromise at least. She sits me on the bed, then kneels before me. She’s incredibly close, and she’s slowly releasing her scent, almost as if she’s trying to mess with me. I can’t complain, it relaxes me a bit. I allow her to work, then look to see Veronica pairing outfits, most of them with skirts. I groan internally. I hate skirts. I prefer pants any day. I stand as she lays them on the bed. Chandler observes them, then picks one out. A grey, thigh-length skirt, a white button blouse, black sweater, and black heels, which I argue into being changed into flats. I take it, changing quickly in the bathroom. I come out, and Heather actually looks pleased. She places me in front of the mirror.
She leans in, whispering in my ear, “Beautiful.”
It takes everything in me not to let out the pleased sound my wolf is begging me to. I smile softly, blushing. She takes my hand, and we head to the party. Pulling up in a Porsche this time, with supposedly the most powerful girl, if not alpha, in school, I feel ready to take on the world.
The music blasted, and alcohol was already abundant. Not even 10 in the night, people are wasted. I follow close behind Veronica, grateful to be hidden behind her and Heather’s scents. They find the other Heathers, sharing a vodka bottle. They hand Veronica and Heather cups, and I politely stand by. They start drinking, and I’m unsure what to do.
Chandler tries to give me a shot. “Come on, don’t be a prude.” She has to shout over the music.
I shake my head. “I’ll drive you home.”
“Have you never had any before?” I shake my head. “One shot!” They all stare at me.
I take it, damn peer pressure. How bad can one shot be? I take it, following their orders of salt, shot, then lime. I cough hard, setting the glass down. I feel like vomiting. That was disgusting. They laugh at my purity, my face flushing further. Guys approach, and I recognize one of them by the bruise I left on his jaw. He glares at me. The guy I thought was his alpha is also a beta.
“Kurt. Ram.” Chandler apparently doesn’t want to deal with them right now.
“What’s this bitch doing here?” One of them says.
Chandler, standing tall, releases her scent. It’s so strong, many people look over to see what’s going on. “None of your business. Back off.”
They glare at me, but she gives them one more warning in her alpha voice, and they back down. They freeze, and I feel a rough hand grip my hair and expose my neck. This must be the alpha. I feel him nuzzle my neck, dangerous close to marking me. I take no time to release my scent, praying it makes him stop. The others just watch on.
“This is the omega that hit you?” His voice is loud over the music, his scent making me sick. “Piece of shit.” He goes to mark me, and I almost whine.
Heather beats me to the punch. “Back off, Lance. She’s mine.”
Normally, I would tell her to piss off, I’m no-one’s. But right now, I’ll take it. He laughs. “I don’t recall you adding anyone to your pack. Not only that, she reeks of loneliness.” He’s right on two fronts there. “She’s a lone wolf that deserves to be punished.”
“And I’ll do the punishing. Back. Off.” I jump at the voice, but my wolf thinks it’s time to start obeying orders, perking up. His grip tightens. “I’m not going to say it again.” The rest of the pack joins in the power-overload, their scents mixing. He lets go, slamming my face into the wall next to us.
“She better learn her lesson, Chandler. If it happens again, she’s mine.”
He storms off, and I take the chance to run out of the house. I vomit in the front lawn, relishing the fresh air. I hear heels follow behind, and I breathe through my mouth, so I can avoid more overload.
“Chill.”
“Fuck you, Heather.” I stare down Duke. I cannot stand her.
“You’re on thin ice—”
“Shut up, Heather!” Still using her alpha voice, we all flinch. Heather mumbles her apology. “No thank you?”
“Yeah. Whatever. Thanks.”
Heather’s eye twitches. “What is your damage?”
“My damage is this fucking town! It’s shit. And I can’t stand assholes like that!”
“You can’t take on assholes like that!” I growl, my anger rising. She’s right, but she doesn’t need to know that. My wolf howls, and I’m basically begging her for a fight. I know she can feel it. I’m too angry to care. “You really want to do this?” I don’t back down. She grabs me. “I’m giving you one more warning. Stop.” Her voice is dripping with anger and malice.
“What are you going to do? Huh?”
Her scent rushes out, harsh and thick. She starts dragging me to the Jeep. The others follow, Duke driving, Veronica helping Chandler hold me down in the back seat. Chandler straddles me, clawing and hitting me a few times, but nothing more. I can block almost all of them. I shouldn’t be worried now. I should be worried when we get where we’re going, and I get my ass beat by the pack.
Pulling up to the empty field, Veronica throws me out of the car. I hit the ground with a thud. I refuse to shift. That’s dangerous, getting into a fight with a whole pack. I back up on the ground, afraid for my safety. Chandler starts stripping, and the others start as well. I glare at her the whole time. She shifts quickly, and I’m soon surrounded by four angry wolves (three, really, and McNamara). I kneel before them, completely regretting this.
Chandler release a long howl, followed by the others, and my head is splitting by the end of it. My wolf is whining inside, and I should too. She’s snarling, barking, hair on end. She wants me to change.
“No. I won’t.” She lunges, standing over me. Her snarl drips spit onto me, and I debate punching her in the head. I let out my whine, my scent rushing over them. She doesn’t back down, and I realize I have to change. We can’t move on until I do. “Fine.” I whisper. She backs up allowing me space to change. I strip, a little irritated that they are watching. I let my hair cover my breasts as I crouch to shift. It takes me a couple of minutes to shift with my fear, and I hear Duke barking, irritated. Eventually I shift, and I back up, giving me a bit of space.
Before I get to far, Chandler howls again. Again, it hurts. I struggle to stay on my feet. She takes my moment of weakness and attacks. I can’t protect myself this time, and I can tell how strong she really is in this fight. She easily tears into me. To my own credit, I land a couple good bites in, a claw or two, but she easily kicks my ass. Duke joins in at one point, Chandler apparently taking a break. Duke, I can beat. But being so weak, I can’t. I still get a few bites in. Veronica joins, and I’m overpowered by the two. I finally go limp, accepting the rest of the beating. I start to lose consciousness when Chandler barks them back. They stare at me for a long time. I can’t stand. Breathing is hard.
Chandler stands over me. I can’t even move to expose my neck. I simply lay there. She brings her snout down, poking at my neck. I whine again, extremely weak, I’m unsure if she even heard it. She rolls me over lightly, and I whimper in pain. She growls, and every part of me is in pain, physically and emotionally. She lands a harsh, possessive bite on my neck. At least she acknowledges my submission. As she releases her scent over me, I slowly pass out.

Chapter Text

I snap awake on a bed—a very nice and red bed. I try to move my head up, but it hurts, so I stop. I haven’t shifted back, and I can feel my hair matted. I feel worse than any hangover imaginable. I’ve been in fights before, but this is something else. I whine, debating going back asleep. Just as I start to sleep again, I hear a deep sigh and feel a scratch on my head. I quiet under the scratch, appreciating the sign of affection. The rest of the room finally comes into focus, and I smell the whole pack. I tense, my own scent sent out to protect me.
“Ugh, stop.” Duke is so irritating.
I finally open my eyes. She’s icing her side at Heather’s vanity, and I’m proud that I left a good mark on her. Veronica sits at her desk, and McNamara sits on the floor in front of me, within arm’s length. She smiles up at me. That means Chandler is the one petting me right now. I remember church and hope my mom will cover for me. It takes me a minute, and on shaky legs, but I get off the bed, backing away from them all into the empty corner. I crouch low, growling slightly. I can’t be too mad, I did ask for it. But this also means I’m becoming more and more involved in this pack. I’m madder at myself than anything.
No one moves. McNamara quietly speaks. “You need to heal. Rest.” I huff, trying my best to stay standing, but I drop, head too heavy to hold. “You’ll heal faster as a wolf.” She stands, and I back up.
“Come up here.” Chandlers voice fills a void I didn’t realize I had. I bark quietly in return. She pats the bed, where I was. I tell myself I won’t budge, but my need for her takes over. I slowly pad over, growling to myself, gently jumping on the bed. I can’t stand long, collapsing with my head in her lap. I realize they’ve cleaned my wounds, some of them healed already. I lay on my side facing her, mostly so I don’t have to look at Duke’s stupid face. I can see I left several marks, one obviously on her arm where I bit her. I lift my head and use all of my energy, licking it gently. She allows it, then scratches my chin. “I had to,” she says softly.
“You took it better than I did,” McNamara adds quietly. In her original spot, she starts stroking my side. My tail thumps slightly in response.
“Still a bitch,” Duke mumbles.
I pull my head up, growling. “Shut up, Heather.” Chandler is a blessing. I drop my head and close my eyes. She gently pets me, and I tap my tail gently in response. “Just sleep. You’ll be fine.” I don’t want to, but again, her scent draws me in. I eventually sleep, dreaming of a red wolf with silver eyes.
Again, I wake up, feeling a bit better. I’m hungry, though. I jump off the bed, finding them all gone. I trot down the stairs, sniffing for them. I enter the kitchen, finding them all eating lunch, Heather’s parents and all. I thought Heather was overwhelming. I’m already in a submissive state, and Heathers mother is ten times worse. She stands, walking over to me. I let out a whimper immediately, backing up and laying flat. Her scent makes me weak again, and I almost reach a whine.
“Mother, please.” Chandler says. She stands. “We’re leaving soon anyway.” Throwing her food on the counter, she walks over to me. “Come on. It’s fine.” I stand shakily, avoiding Mrs. Chandler as much as possible, Heather dragging me by a handful of fur. I follow Heather out the door. She points to the Jeep. “Get in.” The others follow soon, dressed in athletic clothes. I wait for them to open the door, then sit in the middle of the backseat. I’m as big as a Great Dane, about, only fluffier, so I’m pretty uncomfortable. I end up just standing in the middle of the jeep, between the two Heathers up front. I wag my tail, enjoying the car ride.
We get to the regular field, and I tense a little. They open the door for me, and I don’t really care much to wait for them. I start rolling around, jogging a bit, stretching. There are some new smells, but I can’t really spot them. I prance around. Getting out of her house is good for me. Her scent isn’t suffocating me now.
“Come here, girl. Come here!” Duke is calling me like a dog. I turn and growl at her. She pulls out a tennis ball. It’s gross and wet. She chucks it, and I can’t help but chase it down. I end up playing fetch with her, even though she makes fun of me for enjoying it. This time, I return it, but mess with her. Before, I excitedly dropped the ball at her feet. This time, I keep it away from her. Making her a bit frustrated, “I don’t have to throw it.” She crosses her arms over her chest. I drop the ball. “That’s what I thought.”
I didn’t drop it for her though. My ears perk up. There’s two new strong scents, and I can hear them approaching. I’m not sure where they are. I start to pace, searching for them. I trot out a couple of steps, putting my nose to the ground.
“Hey,” Chandler calls. “What are you doing?”
I finally track the scent and get a general direction of their approach. I listen closely and hear boots and paws. An alpha and a beta. I race back to them. I growl in their general direction, then whimper at Heather. She gives me a confused look. I paw at her feet and Duke’s feet, then bark at the newcomers. I crouch, ready for a fight if needed, pacing slowly in front of the girls.
A man suddenly appears. I don’t know how or where he was hiding, but he stands tall. An older man, a long-time alpha. He lazily smokes a cigarette. I do not trust him. “Ladies…” he draws. The girls don’t say anything, and I hate that they aren’t shifting. I continue to growl softly, directly between him and Chandler now. “You’re trespassing.”
Chandler replies coolly. “My father owns this land.”
“You’re still trespassing. And you need to pay for that.”
“Give us a name, and I can pay—”
Before she can finish, the beta appears, flying through the air. It is aimed at Chandler. I react fast enough, clamping on the leg and slamming it down before it can reach her. With my advantage over it, it’s not hard to beat them. I clamp down on it’s throat, and I’m about to kill them. But I realize I can’t do that with its alpha right there, and not to mention this isn’t my land. I have no right without permission. So I drag them over in front of Chandler, my grip on their throat tight enough to clamp on their neck, but not killing them. I wait. I need an order from Chandler.
Quietly, “No.”
My mouth instantly releases and the beta limps away. I tore the ligament in their hind leg, so it wouldn’t be pouncing anytime soon. I back up and cover as much of them with my body as possible. Omegas usually are the first to sacrifice for the pack, especially if the alpha is threatened. For the moment, I’ll think of this as my pack and deal with it later.
“Impressive.”
“We don’t want any trouble. We’ll leave.”
He puffs out some smoke. “I don’t think so.” He thinks for a moment. “This omega isn’t yours…” He suddenly releases his scent, and it smells so welcoming to me. I stop growling, and despite the human side of me screaming to stop, and hands pulling me back, I trot over to him. I follow his hand’s guidance and lay flat, submitting. He starts rubbing my head, and I roll over. It’s stupid, risking my neck. He could mark me so easily. I can smell cherries and roses, but they are so weak in comparison. I stare up at him, waiting. “Why not?”
“She hasn’t accepted yet.”
He smiles, puffing smoke onto me. He suddenly twists the side of my neck harshly. I let out a loud whine and whimper away. He’s marked me. A weak one, not as strong as when you’re human. But he still has some control over me now. I lay flat, hidden in the grass from the others. He stands. “She won’t now.” I suddenly get the urge to kill them. I’m hungry. They’re on my territory. They’re a threat to my alpha. I stand, prowling over to them.
“Hey,” the one in yellow starts to say. “You know us.” I bark, snarling. I don’t know them. Do I? My mark burns, my alpha is impatient. I watch her, slightly confused, as she drops to her knees in between me and the one in red. She’s kneeling? I back up. Cherries and roses creep up my nose again, and I go to snap at the one pushing their scent at me. The yellow one isn’t a threat. The red one dodges my attempt to bite her. But when I look up at her, my eyes are forced to look into hers. I feel like I know her. I growl at her, but weakly, more out of confusion than anger. The human inside of me is telling me to trust them, but why? At once, cherries and roses are joined by lemons, mint, blueberries, they all mix together. I start to remember a few things, but it’s mostly them beating me up. Now super confused, I start to look between them and my alpha. Is this guy my alpha? I don’t remember picking one.
I turn and trot over to him. The mark burns slightly. I start to sniff him. I don’t remember smoke in any of my scents. My brain hurts. My human is extremely frightened. I have to make a decision. I look at the one in red. I remember a mark from her. I hated it. And I hate this guy for putting one on me. I’ll just kill them both.
I let out a roar of a howl and clamp down on the guys crotch. I tear back, taking as much as I can with it. My mark sears into my skin, but I ignore it. Once he gets lower to cover himself, I snap down hard on his neck. It snaps easily under my powerful jaw. His beta jumps to his aid, and I quick tear their neck too. My snout dripping in blood, it’s time to get rid of the others. I race over. I have to take out the alpha first. Just as I lower to jump, the yellow one slips into my way again, protecting the alpha. I skid to a halt, slamming into her. She levels with me, lower than me even. It stalls me.
It’s odd, but my first thought is that someone higher than me shouldn’t be lower than me. I cock my head to the side and slowly lower myself until I’m lower than her. I’m still crouching, still growling. She slowly reaches towards me, and I snap at it. I nip her arm, leaving a few angry red marks.
“We just have to wait. The mark will wear off.” The red one starts talking. I stand back up, forgetting the etiquette with the yellow one.
“Just shift and kick her ass,” the green one says. All I can think about now is that I hate her. I focus on her. “Heather!” she whines.
“Fine,” she grumbles. “Just…back up.” I watch the green one back up, happy to scare her. The red one sits. Once again, I’m over whelmed with the need to be lower than her. She’s an alpha, and I’m an omega. I should grovel at her feet. I have to lay flat on the ground. I have to be as low as possible. I track her hand, which she uses to guide my face down. I rest my head on the ground, my bloodlust subsiding a bit. She shows me her palm. I consider biting it, but I’m submitting right now. I can’t risk it. I snarl a little, a warning, but sniff it anyway. I can see it shaking, slightly, but otherwise, she is calm. All I can smell now is cherries and roses, and I start to calm. I leave a bit of blood in her palm, so I lick it up gently. “Ok,” she whispers. My head pops up, ears perked. “Are you ok?” I cock my head to the side, all thoughts out of my head except her. She reaches out, to pet me most likely. I scoot back, growling lightly. “Ok. Fine. Look at Veronica?” Who? I cock my head again, keeping my eyes on her hands.
“Who was that guy?” The one in blue finally says something.
“I don’t know. This isn’t his territory. I mean, daddy owns it.” She reaches out again. I lay my ears flat, wanting to snap at it, but allow it to pet my head softly.
“Super powerful. That mark is doing something to her.”
“He’s a real alpha, in every circle. Unlike me.” She’s fully petting me now. Even though I don’t want to allow it, it feels nice. I wag my tail and groan lightly.
I can’t feel my mark anymore. As it fades, as they talk, more memories flood back. I think I know these girls. I can’t remember their names. But I know them somehow. I stand suddenly. I remember we were playing fetch. I trot over, with them calling after me, and grab the ball. I drop it at the green one’s feet, I think she was the one who threw it. She glares at it, now with blood on it. She slowly reaches for it, eyeing me, and I wag my tail to show its ok, bouncing a little. She glances at the red one, then throws it. I take off, grateful for the activity. We go a few times, and finally the red one asks me to look at Veronica again. I’m not sure who that is, so instead I lick her hand. She sighs.
“Good enough. She’s calm. Let’s go. We need to go in case reinforcements come calling.”
The yellow one opens the door, and I sit. I’m not sure if I should trust them enough to go with them. The red one sighs and starts shoving me in. I crawl into the seat, uncomfortable between the blue one and yellow one. Instead, I sit on the floor.
“Clean yourself. You’re bloody.” I lay down and do, wondering where all the blood came from. When I’m finished, we still haven’t gotten out of the countryside. I sigh, feeling exhausted. I need to feel close to an alpha. I need to sleep. Her scent washes over me, and I rest my head on her lap. She sighs and tenses but allows it and eventually pets me.
When I wake up, we pull into a house. I jump out and happily prance to the door. I sit patiently and wait for Heather get finally get over here. She takes a while. Once the door opens, I lead the way up the stairs to her room. I make my way to the bathroom. I see my clothes, so I close the door and shift. When I stand up, I see some dried blood.
“Heather,” I call gently. “Can I shower?”
“Please. You smell.”
I hop in, grateful to be human again. My wolf is exhausted. When I get dressed, I see a bruise on my neck, within the large bite circle from submitting to Heather. Damn it. I step out into the room, glaring at Heather.
“What?” She snaps.
“What the hell is this?” I point to the mark. “Did you mark me again? What the fuck, Heather? I told you—”
“You don’t remember?”
“What? Remember what?”
“While you were a wolf, another alpha marked you.”
“Bullshit.”
“You nearly killed us, after you killed—” Duke chimes in.
“Shup up, Heather!”
“Sorry Heather.”
“No, Heather. Keep talking. I killed something?”
“Someone,” she sneers. “Two.”
I hug myself. “No, I—I wouldn’t.”
“Oh, but you did. Ripped out their throats, and then came for ours.” She was loving this. She was loving my reaction.
I pull my phone out, realizing I didn’t have anything from my mom. Chandler speaks up from her bed. “I called her to let her know you’d be here.”
“Thanks,” I mumble.
McNamara suddenly hugs me. I don’t like hugs. But I let her, lightly holding onto her. “You were protecting us,” she whispered. Thank you. That makes it a little more bearable.
“It was badass,” Veronica laughs. She’s silenced quickly by Chandler.
I push back McNamara. “I should go.”
“I’ll drive you,” Chandler stands, a little too quickly.
“No, thanks. I can walk.” My tone harsher than it should be.
“You’ve had a hard weekend.” Yeah, no thanks to you. “It’s the least I can do.”
I finally allow her, following her to her Porsche. I crawl in, twiddling my thumbs to avoid eye contact. I’m ok with the silence.
“How do you feel?”
I chew on my words. “Like shit.”
“Because of what?”
“I don’t know. Maybe getting my ass handed to me by you and your pack.”
Her tone drips with warning. “Drop the attitude. You were begging for a fight. And it’s better I did it than some football jock and his buddies.”
I sigh. She’s right about both statements. I blush. “I know.”
“Thank you. For defending us.”
“I don’t remember it.”
“That’s ok. He’s dead. That’s all that matters. Your mark is useless now. Just a bruise.”
I’ve only been in town a week, and I’ve gotten into so much trouble. But I need a pack. I can’t defend myself, and if I get in trouble at school again, I’m dead. I need Heather. And I hate it. “Is your offer still on the table?” I hate having to do this.
“What? For a mark? Sure.”
“No! No. I mean…about the pack.”
She is quiet for a moment, so long that I’m not sure she heard me. “Yes.”
“You hesitated. You don’t want me anymore. I underst—”
“No! I still want you in the pack.”
I can’t believe I’m doing this. “Ok. If you’ll have me, I’ll be your omega.” That doesn’t mean your mate. I don’t meet her eyes.
It’s almost like a weight was lifted off her shoulders. She takes a deep breath, her scent calming. I can feel her wolf bouncing, and mine starts to bounce in time with hers. “Great,” she sighs. She smiles, a kind, happy one. I can’t help but smile back. “We’ll do the ceremony on Tuesday before the run.”
“What about tomorrow?”
She shrugs. “The best I can do is a mark.”
I bite my lip. “Promise you won’t abuse it.”
Her smile turns a bit mischievous. “Promise.”
Sure. “Fine.”
“I’ll pick you up tomorrow for school. I’ll give it to you then.”
She pulls up to my house. I know there will be hell to pay when I get inside. Sure, my dad is not inside, but mom is vicious when she has to play alpha. “Thanks.”
“Later, loser,” she calls as she drives off.

Chapter Text

In the morning, I wear a skirt, for once, and a nice top. Of course, black and white pallet. I do a little mascara, but that’s the extent of makeup I’ll allow. I twist my hair up into a bun, grab my things, and wait outside. The night before, my mom grilled me about the hickey, and I didn’t tell her about the incident. She was upset but promised if I calmed down she would keep it a secret. Dad was going to be home late tonight. I’ll have to wait for him to tell him about my new pack commitment.
I hear the Porsche before I see it. I wave as she pulls up. She looks as gorgeous as ever, red hair billowing in the breezing. “Morning,” she purrs. She isn’t wearing her signature lipstick. I crawl in, toss my stuff in the back. She pulls her sunglasses down to look at me. “Is that makeup?”
“Just mascara. Don’t get too excited.”
She pulls out of my drive, taking the drive to school nice and easy. We aren’t in a rush. I turn on the radio, needing to fill the silence. “You realize you can’t hang out with Betty and Martha, right?”
“I’m not going to be mean to them.”
“Hm. We’ll see.”
“What’s the ceremony?”
“I don’t want to ruin it.” She grins. “The hard part is getting Duke to stop being a whiney bitch and accept you. All that matters is once we have a true omega, we’ll all be more powerful.” I can hear the excitement in her voice. It scares me a little. We pull into the parking lot, and she gives me a look. “You realize how you mark someone, right?”
“Can’t you just pinch me or something?”
“Sure. But it won’t last very long. I need the scent to last.”
I groan, adjusting. This is going to get awkward. I bare my neck, closing my eyes. “Alright. Just get it over with.” I don’t hear her move, but I can sense her approach with her scent getting stronger. She runs her fingers over my neck, and I shiver, my breathing quickening. Come on. Just do it. She brings her nose to the base of my neck, rubbing it around. I lean back and open my eyes. “What are you doing? Just mark me already.”
“I’m scenting you, dipshit.”
“What?”
“I’m making you smell like me.”
“Whatever, just…hurry up.”
She rolls her eyes and leans in. I tense, not ready for the painful bite. She brushes her lips around, seemingly picking a spot. I get goosebumps and feel the urge to push her away. But I just grip the seat and wait. Eventually, she chooses, near where she left the first mark, licking the spot gently. Does she have to make it so sexual? I can feel her teeth sharpen, her breathing quickening. She presses a kiss onto the spot, and just as I am about to urge her to hurry up, she bites. Her sharp teeth poke through slightly. After holding on for a moment, she lets go, and sucks on the spot. I hiss but remain otherwise quiet; I don’t know how long this is meant to last. She had to have kept me asleep last time she did that.
She stays there a while, my wolf excited at her proximity, hers begins to bounce in time with mine, and I let out a breathy sigh. My head gets heavy, so I rest it on her shoulder. She smiles into my neck but backs up. “See? Mates.” She smirks, a smug face close to mine. I gasp at the realization that I got sucked into that.
I back far away from her, checking the mark in her mirror. “Yeah, thanks. Can I borrow some foundation or something?”
She pulls it out, tossing it on my lap. Once covered, I start to get out of the car. She grabs me to stop me. “Wait.” I look back at her. She actually looks sad for a second. “I know you don’t want to accept that we are mates. But I refuse to live my life unhappily because of it.”
“Can we deal with this later? I just…I don’t want to think about it.”
She returns to her usual stone-cold self. “Sure. Have a nice walk home.”
I roll my eyes but get out of the car. I see Betty and catch up to her. “Hey,” I greet.
She watches Heather walk past us into the school. “Are you in her pack now? You smell like her.”
I nod. “Yes. I am. I mean, I will be soon. I need an alpha.”
“Things will calm down! You don’t have to go with her!”
“I know. But I feel…good with them.”
She nods, looking down. “I understand. I just wish you wouldn’t.”
“You and me both.”
Duke gives me a sneer when I walk into calc, but nothing more. Thank goodness. I don’t want to deal with her. With Heather’s scent on me, I’m thankfully left alone. I float through the day, enjoying the lack of alphas breathing down my neck, some even avoiding me. I get my first real test when Betty doesn’t show up for lunch. I’m not worried, until I realize the Heathers are late too. I dump my tray and go looking, scenting them out in the bathroom. I swing the door open, sighing as I see them hovering over her.
“You’re going to be pack-less forever,” Duke sneers.
“Betty. Go to lunch.” I sigh. I don’t have to listen to them yet.
She goes, but Duke wraps her up in her arms. “We’re just giving her some advice.” She mock-pouts, Betty cringing a little.
Heather laughs from her spot on the counter. When she locks eyes with me, she doesn’t hesitate to remind me I allowed her to mark me earlier. McNamara grabs my arm, trying to pull me back. “It’s ok,” she says softly. “Betty will be fine. Just stay out of it.”
“No.” I shrug her off, ignore the icy glare from Heather, and go to Betty. “Let go, Heather.”
“No. Now back off.”
“No.” I stand over her menacingly, enjoying being taller than someone, even if by less than an inch. “Let her go, or I’ll make you.”
She smirks. “Try it.”
“Step away, Gemma.” Heather Chandler decides to finally grace us with her words.
“No. I don’t have to listen to you yet. Meaning, I can do what I want. And right now, I want to rip Heather’s head off.” I think I see a flash of fear in Heather Duke’s eyes, but it fades just as quickly. “Take your hands off Betty.” Duke looks at Heather over my shoulder, then slowly lets Betty go. She runs out of the bathroom. I round on Chandler. “Do you realize what position you’re putting me in?” She smirks down at me, leaning back on her hands. “Her dad is my local alpha. She can tell him I’m with you, and if I don’t help her, my family could be punished!”
She rolls her eyes, scoffing. “Please. Veronica is in the same boat, and she’s fine.”
“I refuse to take part or stand by while you torture her. Or Martha. I don’t give a shit about anyone else.”
She hops down, standing over me in her heels. “And who are you to refuse me?”
“Someone who isn’t in your pack.”
“You agreed already.”
“But it’s not official. I can still back out.”
Her face betrays nothing, but I can hear a small whine from her wolf inside. She needs me. And it seems more than I need her. Her anger flares, the mark following. “Go ahead.” When she notices my slight shock turned confusion, “Try surviving like the weak little omega you are. Submit to every horned-up alpha there is. Spend your days of high school a nobody, only taking up space for people to abuse.” She advances on me with each step, and similar to my wolf’s reaction, I back up from her, fear rising with each step. “But either way, you’re digging yourself a hole right now. So shut up, and do what I say, omega.” Her voice at the end tips dangerously on the fence of her alpha voice, the marking starting to make me sick. I release my scent, much to my hatred. “From now on, I don’t want you defending them at all. From anyone.” I bite back a snide response, but realize the angrier she gets, the worse the mark feels. “You are beneath everyone here. Act like it.”
“Punish her, Heather.”
“Shut up, Heather!” She smirks, and the mark grows excruciatingly painful. I run into the nearest stall and vomit. Duke snickers. “Now. Do you want to back out?”
The air stills. McNamara holds her breath after a small gasp. I stand, turning to look her in the eye. She won’t offer again for me to join. I shake my head. Everyone breathes. She gives me one last glare, turns on her heel, and leaves. She skips the next class, so I’m free for the day.
That evening, however, I approach my dad. “Dad?” He hums in recognition. “Can I talk to you?” He spins in his chair. “I think I’ve found an alpha to run with at school.”
He raises his eyebrow. “And who might this be?”
“Her name is Heather. Chandler.”
He smiles slightly. “The Chandlers? Wow. You’re getting involved with some rich families now, huh?” I blush. “Does it feel right?”
“How can you tell?”
“Is your wolf excited around the pack?” I nod. “Can you stand them in person?” I shrug. “You’ve thought about this? You know how hard it is to get out of a pack when you get in one.”
I nod. “I’ve thought about it. More than healthy, probably.”
“When do they run?”
“Tuesdays for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they went out at other times randomly.”
“Are you ready to take on the responsibilities of being in their pack? What about school work?”
“School comes first.”
He thinks for a while. “Is the Chandler girl the reason you missed church yesterday?” Darn it mom.
I nod. “I got…into a scrape. Some drunk guys getting handsy. She took care of me after.”
“I’ll think about it,” turning away.
“Well, they want to do the ceremony thing tomorrow night, when they run.”
“I said I’ll think about it.” Dismissed. I thank him, and head to bed.
After school the next day, I start walking home. Heather honks her horn. “Get in. We’re going to my house first.”
I shake my head. “Nah. Your mom scares me. Just pick me up later.”
“She’ll be fine. Get in.”
Figuring there’s no point arguing, I text my mom I won’t be home and get in. “I need clothes for tomorrow.”
“You can borrow some of mine.”
“It’s all red. And dresses.”
“I have some regular clothes, thank you.”
We pull up to see Heather’s Jeep already there. It makes me nervous, things like this. I hate dealing with these people. I’m a good person. I can’t just hurt people. Apparently, I can kill though. I pull my hair into a pony-tail, in case I need to throw a few punches. Heather’s mom is apparently home, her scent hitting me like a wall when I walk in. It scares me, especially because I don’t know where she is. I instinctively grab onto Heather’s arm. She shrugs me off.
“Sorry,” I mutter, eyes darting everywhere.
We find her in the kitchen, with the other girls, drinking water. I grab onto Heather again. She rolls her eyes but allows it this time. I slip behind her. “Hello, girls. Is that the woman of the hour behind you?”
She sounds nice, but her scent says different. Heather drags me out. “Yes. She’s a bit frightened, mother.”
“Let me get a good look at you,” she hums. I flinch but let her hold my face. “You are a small one.” She looks me over, and I bristle at the statement. “I heard you like to fight. You will be a tough one to break.” She drops her hands, only one holding my chin now. I blush, bowing my head. “Heather told me about the incident on our land. You had no right to kill an alpha.” Her grip tightens, nails digging into my face. Her scent is growing, and I whimper, a few seconds away from a whine in submission.
Heather steps up, thank god. “She wasn’t in her right mind, mother.”
“I am well aware, Heather. That doesn’t excuse her actions.”
“Mother, she was defending us.”
She looks me over, then forces my eyes to find hers. It’s dead silent, aside from my pathetic whimpering. “Have you punished her?”
“No.”
“Do it. Or I will.” She lets me go, and I all but run behind Heather Duke, then next highest person that could protect me. “Now go. I don’t like her scent.” She walks out into another room.
We all head up to Heather’s room, and it takes everything in me to hold in my scent. Once we get inside, “Yeah, Heather. She’ll be fine. Thanks for having me over.”
“Shut up. At least she was kind enough to let me handle it. Now help Heather with her calculus.”
Looking at Heather, raising an eyebrow, “You need help?”
“That or let me cheat next time. I failed the test yesterday.”
I pull out my stuff. “Fine. What part? What we went over today?”
I tutor Duke for a couple of hours, having to refocus her often. Around 6, the maid calls Heather that our meal was ready. We pile down, scarfing down the food and heading out of the house. We pile in Heather’s Jeep. We head a different way, thankfully, so we don’t risk running into the same pack. We hop out.
“Are you going to be a pansy again, or are you going to strip like the rest of us?”
“Can you stop talking Heather? You know, I prefer you as a wolf, so I don’t have to hear your whiney—”
“Shut up,” Chandler mumbles.
I strip quickly. Again, it takes a little longer to shift than the others, but it’s quicker than before. I shake out my limbs. I should be tired, but fresh after a shift, I always have a surge of energy. McNamara gives me a small bark then starts to roll around. The land we’re on is just a regular grass land, kept trimmed for feed. It’s hilly, but not too bad. Chandler walks slowly over to the top of one, sitting. I start wrestling with McNamara, playfully biting her. When she grows tired, I start to run around the hill the other three are on. How can they not want to sprint for days? Duke gives me a few annoyed huffs, but I keep going.
After burning some of it off, I nip at Veronica. I want to play fight with her. I want to know how strong she is. She cocks her head at me, but eventually joins. She’s rusty. She has a hard time get out from under me or holding on. But when she does, she is stronger than a delta. She must be a beta. After a couple rounds of fighting, Chandler quiets us with a loud bark. We gather, McNamara almost falling asleep. Chandler looks to be thinking, and I start to get antsy. I start bouncing, padding my feet back and forth.
My ears perk up, and I look around. I think I hear something. I turn towards it, standing. I hear a low growl from Chandler, and I know I shouldn’t, but I start trotting towards it. I hear a huff and someone pad after me. They bark, but I don’t stop. I know this scent. I like this scent. I hear a long, deep, powerful howl. Whoever behind me lets out a whine, a plea to return. I keep going, following the scent. As I get closer, I hear the heavy pounding sound of 3 wolves racing towards me. I hear someone barking, but I ignore. This scent is good. I start to run after it. I feel a larger body run into me, a dark brown wolf snarling over me. I start snarl back, fighting it. Who is this? Who has a right to fight me?
A large red one goes barreling past, a black one close behind. I snap at the one above me, then slip out from under it. I lunge. I hear another howl. I feel compelled to follow. I abandon the brown wolf and race towards it. I can smell smoke amongst other scents, mixed in with…cherries? I find wolves fighting, and the big red one on the ground, bleeding. Just as the other alpha here goes to snap its neck, I feel the uncontrollable urge to stop it. I jump over the body, lower than the alpha, but snarling. This alpha is huge, bigger than the red one.
It howls. For a split second, I’m conflicted. Tear into its exposed neck or listen to it. I decide to risk it. This isn’t my alpha, I don’t think. Do I even have an alpha? I lunge, clamping on the side of the wolf’s neck. I get a good bite, but my mouth can only reach so far and bite so hard. Before I do too much damage, it jerks away, bites my side, and chucks me. I’m bleeding now, but I could care less. I go back for more, stopping it again before it can bite the red one’s neck. Again, I get a large bite and thrown. Again, I come back. I don’t lunge this time. I just lay myself over the red alpha’s neck, while also protecting my own.
I hear another, even more powerful howl. I whine, then look for it. There are four wolves aside from myself on the ground—the brown one from earlier, the black one, and a yellow protecting the black one similarly to how I am laying now, all bleeding. Where did the howl come from? I look up just in time to see very large red wolf slam into the alpha over me. I recognize that scent too. Why? It surely frightens me. With the threat removed, I start licking the red wolf’s wounds, trying to help. I can hardly move, but it’s something. After hearing many whines and necks snapping, the large wolf pads over to us. I shakily stand, ready to fight again, growling weakly. I’ll be damned if I let this wolf die. I don’t know why, but I’ll die before I let that happen. Another wolf slips by, running to the other three wolves. The large alpha now sitting in front of me lowers its snout, and before I can snap, licks my muzzle. It then starts to lick the one below me. I can trust it? I don’t know. I feel a nose slowly pushing me off, my consciousness slipping. I whine, fighting to stay on. I keep licking the wounds, determined to save the wolf. Whatever scent I get hit with, it knocks me out.

Chapter Text

I wake up, everything hurting. The sun is in my eyes. I sigh, keeping them closed. I sniff, smelling cherries and roses. I take a deep breath, content. I jump. School. I’ll be late. I finally open my eyes. All I see is red fur. Groaning, I start rolling over. On my other side, I can see it’s Heather, on her side on her bed? I’m even more confused when I see bandages on her. I pick up my head and look around the room. We’re in Heather’s room, and the other three are here. I hear voices outside the door. What’s going on?
I whine, then scoot closer to her face, then lick her muzzle. Something is wrong. I bark weakly, trying to get her to wake up. Is she dead? I hear the door open. My ears perk, and I jump to stand over her. I can’t stand for long and end up laying on her neck to protect her. I growl some more. Is that Mrs. Chandler?
“Calm down, dear. It’s all right.” She tries to calm me, but it makes me more worried. I’m the only one awake, the only one to fight. “Your mother will be here soon. You need to rest. You are severely injured.” She approaches, and I bark, flattening my ears. She stops. “Ok. Fine. I just need to check to make sure you’re all ok.” She starts to walk over to Veronica. I whine and follow. I watch her closely, growling if she does anything I don’t like. She goes around the room, and when she reaches Heather, I stop her. “I’m her mother.” I don’t care who you are. I’m determined to keep her alive. I back up, only covering her neck. I allow her to check everything else, then growl at her to back up. “Your turn.” I let out a sound that’s a mix between a whine and a growl, then lower my head, letting her work. When she backs up, I start licking Heather’s fur. Mrs. Chandler backs up and closes the door.
I breathe a sigh of relief, falling asleep on Heather. I wake up again when I hear the door open. I jump up, growling, putting myself between Duke and some random lady. She was shouting, maybe crying, rushing towards her. I crouch and bark. She jumps back, frightened. Mrs. Chandler follows closely behind.
“She’s a bit protective right now, understandably. She’ll back off when they start waking up.”
“Thank you. I can’t…I can’t imagine what would have happened if you hadn’t been there!” She starts crying, escaping from the room.
I return to my place on Heather, sleeping.
I wake up when Heather wakes up. I can feel her change in breathing. I whine, wag my tail, licking her. She takes a moment to open her eyes, and I paw at her impatiently. She lets out a pained whine, putting her paw on mine. I stop but keep licking her muzzle gently. The door opens again. Mrs. Chandler walks in. When I don’t move for her, Heather nudges me back a bit with her nose.
“Heather,” she sighs. Heather lays her head down, whimpering slightly. “We won’t be dealing with them again any time soon.” When the other lady comes in, making her way for Duke, I stand to defend her. Chandler barks quietly, biting me lightly and pulling me back. I whine, staying with Heather, but watching intently. Mrs. Chandler strokes Heather’s face. “Everything is fine. Keep resting. The longer you stay together as a pack, the better you heal.”
I’m starving. We didn’t hunt last night. I whimper as I adjust, waiting for Heather to get comfortable. She gives me a look, and I drop my head. Hopefully we’ll talk about it later. I don’t really remember what happened. I rest on her paws under her head, and she relaxes in to sleep on me.
When we wake up, the other three are still sleeping. Heather groans and stands. She barks, standing by the door. I stand next to her, all but cuddling into her fur. The door opens, and Heather starts walking down the stairs. I follow closely behind, wondering where we are going. She walks into the kitchen, pawing at the fridge. I sit next to her, fighting hard to maintain consciousness. Mrs. Chandler comes in. She opens the fridge and pulls out a stack of meat. Chandler barks happily as one is dropped in front of her. I get one as well. However, I patiently wait for Chandler to finish. When she doesn’t steal mine, I eat.
I hear the door open and smell my mother. Thank goodness its her and not dad. I finish eating and slowly pad in there, pain in every step. Chandler follows. I greet my mother with a small lick to her hand, then rest my head on her lap when she sits. Chandler lays down behind me, resting her head on her paws. There are other women in the room, Heather’s mother talking.
I hear her explain what she did when she got there, and how things went down, most of it assumptions. Her voice is low but strong, some anger hidden in there. “I killed them. I killed them all. I can’t believe they almost killed our girls.” I hear Chandler whine. My head pops up quickly, and even though I’m comfortable, I lay down with her. She calms, licking my snout as thanks. I clean her paws as she rests her head on me.
“Do you think there will be any more issues with that group?”
“There could be more. But there was an alpha and plenty of betas there. If they still have more members, their leadership will be plenty thin. It’ll take time.”
I hear a pained howl. I go to stand up quickly, but Heather growls and holds me down with her head. I whine but comply. I soon hear paws coming down the stairs. Duke comes in, growl in pain with each step. She sees me, starting to bark and snarl. She advances on me, and thankfully she stops when Heather glares at her. She eventually goes to the lady, I guess her mother. Soon later, the other two join, and Chandler pulls us all into a pile on the ground, her resting between me and Duke.
“Ladies, I believe the girls will be fine. They are healing slowly. I just hope there isn’t any permanent damage. Luckily we got there in time.” Duke barks angrily, and Heather growls to quiet her. “They can stay here. I’ll watch after them. It’s important for them to stay as a pack right now. I can still smell the omega’s scent. It’s not mixed in. She wasn’t officially added to the pack.” She mutters this. She’s going somewhere, but I fall asleep.
I feel a tap. I snap awake. “You can come home with me if you want, Gemma.” My mother. I debate it, but then I look at Heather, I lick my mom’s hand, but lay back down with Heather. I don’t care if I’m not official. I’m not leaving Heather. She leaves.
“Well, girls.” We all perk up, albeit slowly. “How about we go running. I’ll stay with you this time.” We groan, standing. We make our way to the SUV, the only one remotely ok is Chandler. Sleeping until we get to a field, we stop at the one we were at last night. Before we get out, Mrs. Chandler looks at me. “Which one is Heather Duke?” I cock my head, but paw at Duke on the seat. “McNamara?” I paw at her. “Ok. When we get out, nobody moves.” She lets us out, and we all sit and wait. The wind blows, and I catch a whiff of something familiar. I raise my nose, catching more of it. Smoke? Like cigarette smoke? I stand. A woman crouches in front of me. Snapping her fingers. I finally look at her. “You smell it don’t you?” I cock my head. Smell what? I try to start walking. She stops me. “Which one is Heather Duke?” Who? I bark in return. “McNamara?” Again, I just bark. She sighs and stands.
Once she’s out of the way, I put my nose to the ground and start following the scent. It smells good. It smells like home. I hear barking behind me, but I ignore it. I’m being followed as I run around the field. I eventually come to a bloody mess. There’s bodies of wolves everywhere. I approach it all slowly. What happened? I sniff around. I’m poking my nose in the ground. There’s a human body here. The smell grows strong as I approach. I whine, pawing gently at the headless body. I stick my nose into the persons jacket, finding the source of the scent, kind of. Inside a pocket, I pull out a box of cigarettes. I start to lick them, embracing the scent.
The woman quickly takes them away from me. I snap and growl at her. Those aren’t hers. “Come along,” she says. I follow her closely, trying every now and then to get the box back from her. I see four wolves playing around, running, rolling in the dirt. I ignore them, despite them barking at me. The woman opens the back hatch of an SUV, patting the floor. “Get in.” I whine, but do, watching her hand with the box. She closes it on me.
After a long time of waiting, I hear doors open. I poke my head over the back seat, but there’s a cage blocking me from getting out. I bark, angry to be trapped. I don’t know these people. The wolves look back, a yellow one licking at me.
“Leave her be. She doesn’t remember you anyway.”
The yellow one whines and backs up. We drive somewhere. The back hatch opens, the lady shaking the box at me. Sore and in pain, I slowly crawl out. I follow her into a house, my nose stuck to the box. Next thing I know, I’m locked in a room with the other wolves. I stare at the door, the scent fading, wagging my tail patiently. After a while, the main thing I can smell is cherries. I sniff, turning to the scent. I find the source, sitting on the bed, suddenly feeling tired. I pad over to the alpha, the source. It perks its ears at me, opening a spot for me to rest. I lick its paws happily, falling asleep under its head.
I wake up, feeling worse than I remember going to sleep. I groan, licking the person below me. Bare skin of some thighs, my head is resting in some’s lap. I feel the nice strokes of someone petting me. I wag my tail slightly. I don’t move though.
“Really? That’s the story you expect me to believe?”
“I’m serious!” It’s Heather, and I think she’s talking to her mom, based on the scent and her attitude.
“Why? Based on what I think this is, there is no way she would do that.”
“That’s what I’m saying!”
“Then why isn’t she healing faster?”
“I don’t know, mother. You tell me.”
“I just find it hard to believe that she would protect you without being in the pack. Especially without knowing you.”
Her grip in my fur tightens. “I understand, mother.” Her voice is dripping with sass. “But I can’t explain it any other way.”
“We need to find you a new place to run, without the risk of her catching that scent. Hopefully, when she’s in the pack, it won’t be so drastic.”
“Whatever. How much longer do you think?”
“She’ll take the longest to heal. I’m not sure. It depends on the others too.”
After some time of silence, I feel a strong hand on my chest. I groan in pain. My breathing is labored, and I whimper in pain.
“What are you doing? What’s wrong?” I feel smaller, weaker hands hold my head.
“Some internal bleeding, a few broken ribs.” A new person. A new scent. But not out of place. “I’ll get some more medicine for her, boost the healing process more. She’ll have to stay like this for a while.”
“Will she be ok?”
“Yes, honey. As long as she stays here.”
The hand is removed, and I can breathe again. I sit up slightly, looking at Heather. Her hair is flat, makeup nonexistent. I’ve never seen her like this, in the whole week I’ve known her. “Dad?” she says gently. My head finds her palm. Keep petting me.
“Yes?”
“I think she’s my mate.” My head pops up, and I scoot back. I bark quietly. She smiles slightly. “She doesn’t believe me.” I whine, returning to her lap. I’m rewarded with both hands.
“That would explain her actions.” I groan, both out of exasperation and pleasure. “Just get her in the pack as soon as you can, if that’s still what you all want. That’ll help as well.” He kissed her on the head. “Get some sleep too. They’ll be fine.”
She smiles, pulling some blankets up. I shift, allowing her to crawl into bed. She pats a spot next to her. I lay on my side with my back to her, and she cuddles into me. I sleep soundly, getting flashing dreams of a large red wolf. I wake up to a sharp pain in my neck but pass right back out.
I wake up fully to screaming. I growl, sitting up to stretch. McNamara is still a wolf too. Heather is out of bed, screaming at Heather. I crawl over and lay down, licking Heather a little.
“Shut up, Heather!”
“It’s all her fault! If she wasn’t—”
“No, Heather! It’s not—”
It was hard to understand what was going on. Veronica sat in a chair, head in her hands.
“She put us at risk!”
“She saved us!” There’s a stony silence. “If she hadn’t caught the scent, I wouldn’t have gotten my howl out for my mother so quickly. None of us smelled it until we were closer. We were going to get in a fight no matter what. Fuck you Heather.” McNamara whines a bit, and Duke backs down. “Now we need to do the ceremony.”
“What? Now?” Veronica groans.
“Yes, Veronica, now.” Her voice is thick with annoyance and anger. “Heather and Gemma are healed enough to move around. We can do it now. Let’s go.” I groan, along with Heather. We follow the girls out. Heather calls to her mom to tell her we were going to do the ceremony. She tells us to be careful and do it fast.
“Why can’t we just do it here?” Duke whines.
“Because, Heather. We need space to grow.”
“What?”
“We have a true omega now. The pack is complete. We will grow with the new shared power, and we can’t do that in my backyard.”
Duke gets in to drive, Veronica sitting in the passenger side. McNamara sits in the middle gap, her head resting on Duke’s lap, Duke absentmindedly petting her. Heather takes the seat in the back, and I lay down to sleep on her. We get to a new field. I hesitantly crawl out, Heather guiding me down. I take a quick sniff and don’t smell anything new or frightening. I follow McNamara to wait in the grassy field while the other three shift.
Once in full form, we get into a circle. Chandler glares at Duke for a while, then sighs heavily. She howls, and they howl as a pack. I wait patiently, my head heavy. I’m struggling to stay awake, same with McNamara. When finished, Heather paws at the ground in the middle of the circle. I walk forward, almost collapsing. I don’t know what to do, but I don’t even care. I lay fully down, submitting. Heather growls lightly, and I roll over. She walks forward slowly, nuzzles my neck, and takes a small, slightly painful bite. She stays there, and I see Duke walk forward. I go to stand, but Chandler barks. I remain on my back. After a staring match, Duke leans down and does the same, a little bit harsher. Then Veronica, then finally, McNamara (who can hardly walk). Chandler then starts licking me. When she’s done, they all step back. I stand.
Chandler howls once again, a deep low howl. It shakes me a little. One after another, they join, sounding like a barbershop quartet, harmonizing. It feels right this time. I join. Once McNamara lets hers out (even though it’s weak and quiet), I howl with a true pack. I’ve only howled before with my parents, which is different. My howl goes from my usual, medium tone one, and climbs an octave or two, a perfect end to the harmony. In full sound, the howl grows. I feel the ground shake, and my body starts to hurt. We all stop, backing up from each other. I see my paws grow first, my fur turning from grey to a slick, shiny silver. Then I feel my back arch. It feels like a shock wave through me. I grow, now larger than McNamara. I don’t get to stay awake much longer, however. I see McNamara start to grow and collapse unconscious.
I wake up, feeling much better, at least in most of my body. I sit up quickly. I hear voices. A lot of voices. Whispers. Some about me. Some about some guy. Some about Heather Chandler. I shake my head. Why is everyone talking? My eyes close, trying to help the pain. I stand up, whimpering. It hurts. Too many voices. The door opens. A louder voice stands out, but that makes the pain worse. I feel two hands grab onto my fur, pulling me close. It gets louder, and I start to pull back. I can’t pick out any statement with all of the thoughts.
In my ear, shushing. I smell cherries, and I finally open my eyes. Alpha scent. Alpha? I have an alpha? I pull back. I see Chandler again. Heather is my alpha. She smiles at me. “It gets better.” I whine in response, licking her cheek. A grin stretches across her face, and I wag my tail. “Guess what? Your eyes match my fur.” Why? I have some energy. I hop down, looking around. As I approach the now human McNamara, I can pick out which voice is hers. It’s a sweeter sound, a sound she doesn’t use when she’s talking to people. She looks flushed, but better than she usually does. She’s definitely better as a delta. I look back at Heather. “If you’re ready, go shift. I have something for you.” I trot to her bathroom, finding some clothes laid out for me. I shift, shower, and change. I hold my head as I walk out.
“How do I make them stop?” I whine.
“You just get used to it. Practice. Choose one to listen to or ignore them all.”
I smell Heather’s mom and quickly make my way around the bed to avoid her entry. She knocks, entering. “Good. You’re awake. Come down to eat.” The girls follow Heather out, me last. When I’m about to leave, Chandler’s mom closes the door, me and her alone in the room. I panic, sending my sent out hard and fast. I back up, scared out of my mind. “Relax.” Yeah, that helps. “I wanted to thank you.”
I clear my throat, eyes on the floor. “For what?” I ask quietly.
“You saved Heather.”
“I—I don’t remember…”
“I know. But according to her, you stepped between her and another alpha, stopping it from killing her. Three times, supposedly.” I blush. “That means a lot. You weren’t even in her pack, and you saved her. Thank you.”
I stutter, “I—I—She—”
She holds up her hand. “I owe you. For my daughter’s life. And I welcome you into our family.”
When I try to say thank you, I stutter too much. She opens the door, and I run, racing to the dining room to hide behind Heather. She follows a minute behind.
“So?” She smiles. “A full, real pack. With two betas!” I knew Veronica was selling herself short. “How do you feel?”
Heather McNamara stretches and smiles. “Amazing!”
Even Duke smiles. “Better than ever.”
Veronica, “Bigger.”
Chandler, “Complete.”
I roll my eyes, “You’re so cheesy.” I feel of a rush of painful thoughts. “Ow,” I clutch my head.
“Stop it, Heather.”
“Sorry, Heather.”
The food is brought out to us, and I dig in. The first thing I’ve eaten in a long time, I don’t care much for manners. “What day is it?” I ask.
“Tuesday.”
I choke on my drink. “I’ve missed a week of school!”
“So?”
“So? My grades!”
Heather rolls her eyes. “You’ll be fine. The school excused us until tomorrow.”
“Tonight, we can have some fun.”
After eating and getting a lot of dirty looks from Duke for how much I ate, we head back up to Heather’s room. She rushes me to sit on the bed, telling me to close my eyes. I argue, so McNamara holds her hands over them, giggling quietly, and I smile. She’s so cute sometimes.
“Ok.” Chandler says, voice giddy. “Open!” Heather takes her hands off my eyes, and I open them to see Chandler holding a jewelry box. Inside is a thin metal bracelet and ring. I gasp. Gold, of course. The ring is plain with a single stone—black with swirls of white. If you look deep inside of it, you catch a glimpse of red. The bracelet, a thin band of gold, with five stones inlaid—a red, green, blue, yellow, and silver.
I look up into Heather’s sparkling grey eyes. She’s grinning from ear to ear. “This is…too much, Heather.”
“Just say thank you and take it. We all have them.” They showed theirs off.
I gently take them, clasping the band on my wrist and putting the ring on my right ring finger. “Thank you. All of you.”
Heather gives me a hug from behind me, planting a kiss on my cheek. “Welcome to the pack!”
Veronica leans in, kissing my cheek as well. “Welcome to the pack.”
Duke leans in, actually smiling. It’s a little scary. “Welcome to the family,” laying a kiss on the nose.
Chandler sighs, brushing some hair behind my ear. “Welcome home.” She kisses my forehead. It nice. I’m at peace. For the first time for as long as I can remember, I’m truly happy. “Now let’s go running!”
Mrs. Chandler said we could go to the original field, but as soon as I start acting weird (whatever that means), Heather needs to howl for her. Crawling into the jeep, I sit between Heather McNamara and Veronica. Heather won’t let go of my hand. I lean forward.
“Heather, you said my eyes were red. What were they before?”
“Hazel, like your eyes now.”
I chew my lip. “Can you tell me what’s going on?”
“What do you mean? We’re going running.”
“No, I mean…about what your mom said. She said if I start acting weird, to call her.”
Heather looks at Duke, then turns to face me. “Do you really not remember?” I shake my head. “You remember when I told you that alpha marked you as a wolf? Ever since then, when you pick up a certain smell, you seem to forget us. My mother is testing it right now, trying to figure out why it does that to you.”
“What happened to us? Why did we get so hurt?”
I see Duke’s knuckles turn white, but she says nothing. “You caught the scent and chased after it. There were several wolves, way more powerful than us, seeking revenge for their alpha. They were going to kill us. My mother got there in time to kill them all.”
“So it’s my fault.”
“Yep!”
“Shut up, Heather! No. It’s not. It’s something in that cigarette smoke that makes you forget. Nothing is your fault.”
Heather stops the car, and we quickly shift. I shift much faster now, almost as quick as it should be. Once out in the field, we release a howl, and it feels amazing. The energy around us is bright and full of static. It’s good. It’s powerful. Once finished, Chandler draws a line. Racing time. I bounce, excited. I want to see my new power. Chandler gives us the go ahead, and we take off. I keep up with Chandler for the first half, but after the turn, she starts trying. I still get second, but McNamara is much, much faster and a lot less tired. Veronica almost beats Duke. Once she catches her breath, McNamara pounces on me. I love playing with her, and we roll around for a long time. Duke and Veronica play fight, and Chandler looks on like a proud mom.
When I tire, which doesn’t take long after being in wolf-form for so long, I come to rest in front of Chandler. She stares at me for a while. She lays down, lowering her head to be level with me. Looking into her eyes, I realize they changed. They went from her grey to a silver; the silver matches my fur. We’re opposites. I lean forward and lick her paw gently. She scoots forward and nuzzles me gently. I relax, extremely happy. With her scent wrapped around me like a blanket, her proximity is like…like…pure happiness on a warm summer day. I could stay here forever.
Once the moon comes out, we go to hunt. Hunting as a pack, we are really powerful. We eat, them leaving me a small but nice amount. We have the rest of the morning to run, and without school in the morning, there’s no rush. After cleaning off the blood from my own fur, I clean it off Heather, whether she wants me to or not. She gives me an affirmative lick on my snout. The others are fast asleep. I still have some energy.
I look at Chandler and start bouncing around. I want to play. Heather huffs. I whine and bark, wagging my tail. Eventually she stands, bouncing lazily. I bark happily, play fighting and running around with her. She obviously isn’t trying very hard. I bark at her, getting rougher. She takes the bait, making it more of a fight. She still isn’t trying, but its more entertaining than fighting the others.
At some point she gets bored, laying down. I huff but follow. I lay down under her, because I know she’ll force it anyway. I don’t know if she needs it to sleep too, but I might as well. The whole time, voices mix in my head. I fall asleep quickly, my tail wagging gently to the sound of someone singing in my head.
We wake up when it’s still dark, but Duke is whining. We run over to the car, apparently going to go home. We shift, climbing into the car. My head hurts still, the voices only louder now with everyone awake and not talking. I feel exhausted. It felt good to run, but now I’ve not gotten enough sleep. I slide into the back seat, realizing Chandler and McNamara switched spots. Duke and McNamara hold hands up front. It’s cute, actually. But how can someone so nice deal with such a bitch.
A soft hand snakes its way into mine. I jump but calm when I realize it’s Heather Chandler. I smile softly at her, her face outlined beautifully in the moonlight. I yawn, closing my eyes, too tired to fight her. I rest my head against the seat, scooting down. I end up leaning a bit, resting against Heather’s arm. I expect some sassy comment to get off, but she thankfully allows it.
I’m woken up when the Jeep stops in the Chandler’s driveway. Like a zombie, I stumble inside. The sooner we can go to sleep, the better. Eyes closed, I just follow by sound and scent to the room, curling up on the floor to sleep. I hear Duke scoff and Veronica giggle, but I don’t really care. McNamara drops a throw pillow on the floor for me and wraps a blanket gently around me, and I pass out. I’m woken briefly at some point during the night, pressed between bodies. There’s a head resting on my side, and I have a mouthful of McNamara’s hair on my other side.
Waking up, I smell pancakes. I bolt up, earning an angry groan from the head on my side. I’m so hungry! I move to stand, but a slender arm reaches around my waist, pulling me back down. I give in, and when I lay down, I tense. It’s Heather Chandler. Touching me. I feel the strong urge to slip away from her. She rests her head gently on my shoulder as I lay on my back, arm lazily thrown over my stomach. Heather McNamara is on my other side, her back to me, chest to chest with Heather Duke. A giant cuddle pile. It’s kind of gross. I don’t like touching people like this.
Eventually, Heather Chandler wakes up. She opens her eyes and yawns, and when she sees her position on me, she blushes. Standing up, I gratefully follow for breakfast. We sit, both of Heather’s parents missing. I clear my throat and poke at my pancakes.
“I can hear your thoughts. Say it out loud if you’re going to say it.”
I blush, chancing a glance at her. “You promised.”
Through a mouthful of strawberry pancakes, “What?”
“You promised you wouldn’t abuse the mark.”
She takes a moment to swallow. “Sometimes,” she says quietly, “I can’t control it.”
I lean forward, getting a little angry. “That’s bullshit, and you know it. I trusted you. You lied to me.”
Her face shifts. “It’s not that big of a deal.”
“It’s a big deal to me.” I glance over my shoulder, checking for anyone. I lower my voice. “If you really want this whole mate thing to work out, trust is kind of important.”
She looks at me fully, her face stone, but her eyes brightening just a tad. She leans forward, intrigued. “What are you saying?”
My face is beet-red, and I struggle to say it. “I…I think you’re right.”
She takes a deep breath. “Mm. Say it again.”
“Shut up. At least, as wolves, I feel very comfortable with you.”
Her eyes are now sparkling, a scheming smile on her lips. “As humans?”
I sigh. “You’re insufferable. And besides, I told you. I’m straight.”
She shrugs. “So am I.”
“There’s a huge wrench in this plan, Heather.”
“What plan?” Duke walks in, dragging McNamara behind her, and Veronica shuffling in soon.
“Nothing, Heather,” Heather snaps, eating more of her pancakes. Heather Duke gives us a look but shuts up. They sit down, joining us. Heather’s maid is busy cleaning, then dismisses herself for the morning. I can sense Heather’s irritation at Duke, but her wolf is bouncing out of control. I have a much clearer sense the other’s wolves, and without any conversation, if I focus hard enough, I can hear some clear thoughts as well. It’s weird.
“The best part is you don’t stink anymore,” Duke says, giving me a pointed glare. I roll my eyes, too busy eating to care about a response.
“I think her smell is nice,” McNamara offers. I give her a small smile.
“Shut up, Heather!” Duke let’s out her best Chandler impersonation.
My phone vibrated on the table, Betty. Everyone else can see who it is. I reach for it, catch Chandler’s glare, and answer it anyway, excusing myself. She’s really concerned about me. She tells me that all the town alphas are working on it, that Mrs. Chandler is going overload with all of it to figure it out. She says it’s so cool, she heard that we fought a bunch of high level adult wolves and survived. She says she dropped my homework off at my house today. She says she misses me. I quietly listen while she talks, avoiding everything but homework. I tell her we can study sometime so she can help me catch up.
I hang up and quietly sit back down. Heather is seething. “What, Heather?”
I look her dead in the eye. “What did I say about Betty Finn?”
“You’re going to tell me who I can and can’t talk to now?”
She stands, leaning on the table. “I told you to stay away from them.”
I stand in response. “No. You told me to not defend them from other people.”
We glare at each other, almost at level eye height with her not in her heels. “I don’t want you associating with them at all.”
“I don’t care what you want.” Everyone gasps, Veronica even chuckling a little, and Heather narrows her eyes dangerously at me. “I will be friends with who I want, and I’ll date who I want, and I’ll look at who I want. I will not allow you to tell me who can be in my life.”
“Why are you pulling on my dick?”
“Why are you so determined to isolate me?”
We had been leaning closer together as we were arguing, inches apart. Duke lets out an awkward chuckle. “Jesus, just kiss already.”
I step back. “Thanks for everything, but I’m walking home now. See you at school.”
“No. You’re not.”
I start walking away. I hear a few giggles, and an angry groan. Bare feet pad after me. Heather grips my arm tightly, forcing me to stop and look at her. “Heather. I’m leaving.”
Her anger is barely controllable right now. “You are on my last nerve.”
“Then it’s good I leave.”
“You can leave when I say you can leave.”
“Hate to break it to you Heather, but I’m my own person. I can go where I please.”
Her nails dig into my arm. “What do you want from me?”
I want a lot of things. I want to figure out this stupid mate thing. I want to be friends. I want you to allow me to have other friends. I want you to stop being so demanding and chill out. I want you to not flip shit at every opportunity. I want to stay far away. I want to stay forever. “I want you to let me go.”
My voice is low. Neither of us had been yelling, and I gently try to pull her hand off me. She checks to make sure no one else is in the front room with us. “Are you mad at me?”
I laugh. “Of course I am.”
She furrows her brow. Her face shuts down, and I can see her building her walls back up. She crosses her arms over her chest, backing up, her scent disappearing. “Fine. Leave then. Don’t spend time with us.”
I hate to say it, but it hurts. It stings. I sigh, pinching the bridge of my nose. “I just need to go get some homework. I need to keep my grades up. Then I can come back.”
Her scent reappears, her wolf bouncing excitedly. “Good. I’ll drive.”
I begrudgingly climb in her car, frustrated. She shut me down so fast, easily manipulating me. I flick on the radio. She shuts it off. “Heather,” I sigh.
“When you do shit like that, it makes me look bad. Not only that, Duke will learn to do it too. And I don’t need more of her shit!”
“Yeah, whatever.”
“Why? Why do you do this?”
“Because I hate alphas like you.”
“Then why did you join?”
“I’m seriously questioning it right now.”
She sighs. “I love your scent, by the way.”
“Gee. Thanks. Way to change the subject.”
She groans, pulling into my house. “Just go get your shit.” No one was home, so I slipped in and out quickly. She starts driving away from her house.
“Where are we going?” She doesn’t answer. “Heather? I’m too weak to get my ass beat again.”
“Relax. We need food. Snacks for everyone.” She glances over at me, and my heart skips a beat when our eyes collide. The corner of her mouth twitches. “And we need to finish that conversation.”
I sit up, open to talk about it right now. She smiles slightly. “Are same-sex mates common?”
She shrugs. “Kind of, depending on the area. There are only a couple here in town.”
“How do they do…it?”
“What? Sex? You get naked—”
“No! Heather, I don’t mean the birds and the bees. I mean, how do they reproduce?”
“Oh. They don’t, obviously. But I heard of a set of same-sex couples that mated together, and then they technically had kids then.”
“How do you feel about…it?” I step out of the car after her, walking up to the convenient store.
“I don’t know what you mean.” She looked at me, mocking confusion, a sly smile tugging on her lips.
“Come on, Heather. Are you going to make me say it?” I blush as she nods, walking into the store. She browses the aisles, picking up random things, including six bags of Corn Nuts. “Those are so gross.” She glares at me. I grab myself a packet of cherry Twizzlers, the pull and peel ones. I start to get some cash out of my pocket, and she takes it from me.
She raises an eyebrow. “Cherry?”
“Yeah. I love cherry. It’s always been my favorite flavor…” I trail off, looking up at her. “That is a pure coincidence.”
She leans forward suddenly, my wolf pawing at her proximity. “You know,” she says, her voice suddenly sultry. “I’m told I taste like cherries.” She winks, grinning at my harsh blush. She laughs, walking up to the counter. She pays for everything, leaving them for me to carry.
“I’m not Heather. McNamara,” I say, once we are back in the car.
She tears into a bag of corn nuts. “I know.” She’s confused.
“I mean, I’m not an omega you can push around and step on.”
I stare up at her. She looks slightly amused. She cocks her head to one side. “That’s what omegas are. Weak. Push-overs. Dirt. Trash.”
“You’re one of those abusive types, aren’t you?”
“And you’re going to test my patience at every turn, aren’t you?”
“What are you going to do Heather? Keep beating me up?” My voice is calm, not aggressive in any way. “That’ll get old.” I can feel my eyes glittering a little from amusement.
“No. I’m assuming you need another form of control.”
“Ew. Do you have to say it like that?”
She’s leaning on the middle console, chin resting on her hand. Her eyes are thin but bright as she plays with her prey. I sit up straight, refusing to hide from her. “That’s what it is. I yell at Heather. I threaten Veronica with social suicide. I offer Heather praise once a month. But what gets you?” She purses her lips as she thinks.
“If you haven’t noticed yet, I don’t like people trying to control me.”
She smiles slyly. “Oh? But I think you do.” I hadn’t noticed, but her scent has filled the car, cherries and roses sweet in my nose. We are talking in very hushed tones, close in the middle of the car.
“And what would make you think that?”
“Your wolf.”
“That only matters when we are wolves.”
“But on the contrary. Your wolf is the one responding to this.” I was so enraptured in her eyes and her scent, I didn’t realize she was softly stroking my face, my wolf ecstatic inside. I want to jump back, but I can’t seem to force myself to move.
“You can’t always do this.” My eyes drift slowly down her face, and when they are met with a smirk, they snap back up.
“You severely underestimate me.”
I swallow, my breath hitching. Her fingers drop from my check, her nails tracing patterns on my neck, eliciting a shiver out of me. “What about during school? Or around the others?”
Her smile is soft but evil on her face. “You’re right. But that just means you’ll be anxiously waiting for it at all times.”
I blush a little, moving back just a bit. “What makes you think I’ll be anxiously waiting for it? I’m not a boy.”
“No.” I gasp. Her hand comes to rest on my knee, her thumb drawing circles. “But you’re so incredibly sensitive. Just imagine your face when I run my hand up your skirt at lunch. Or when we are all in the car together…” Her hand drifts up towards the hem of the skirt she lent me. My breath hitches, and I grip her wrist, stopping her, my eyes almost begging her to stop. Our wolves are bouncing in time, our scents swirling together. I hadn’t realized mine was releasing so heavily. “It smells like you want it.”
I clench my jaw. There is nothing more my wolf wants than to be with her right now. I groan slightly. “My wolf does,” I offer. “But the logical, conscious, intelligent part of me doesn’t.” Which might be a lie.
She bites her lip. My wolf howls inside, and I nearly release my own. “I can read your thoughts, remember?” My fingers are intertwined with hers, hovering over my skirt. “We both know you’re lying.”
“And what if I am?”
She’s about to say something, when her phone rings. Duke. She doesn’t seem to notice. However, the phone seems to snap me out of the haze she somehow put me in. I shake my head. I rip my hand from hers, shifting as far away as I can from her. I didn’t realize I was so close to her. “What, Heather?” She’s extremely irritated. “Yes.” I sigh, starting to munch on some of my snack. “Whatever.” She hangs up. “Looks like we get more quality time.”
I shiver. “Why?”
“Heather has to go with her parents to some charity dinner, and she’s taking Heather as her plus one. And Veronica is going to see her boyfriend.”
“So, I could go home.”
“What? No. I fought you to stay. So, you’re staying. Besides. It’s good to spend time with your alpha.”
“Not like we don’t have plenty of time to in general. Or the rest of our lives.”
“We can watch a movie or something.”
“Heather?”
“What?”
“Why do you act like a bitch?”
She’s obviously shocked by the question. “What did you just ask me?”
“I mean…You’re not a total bitch. At least, not to me. Why are you so mean to people? Like Heather?”
“Heather is a whiney bitch that doesn’t know her place.”
“What about everyone else?”
She’s quiet for a moment. Her face is soft, and I think she is about to say something emotional. Instead, the walls are back up, and she’s stone-cold again. “That’s what I do. Always have. That’s how you get on top.”
“Isn’t it lonely?”
“Can you stop talking?”
Her face is angry, but her wolf feels a little sad. “What movie?”
She shrugs. “I like the Princess Bride.”
“Really? You?”
“Yeah. What? Can I not like that movie?”
“No. It’s just…sappy. Emotional.”
She quiets, and we pull into her house. Its empty, quiet. Lonely. She kicks off her shoes and makes her way to the large living room. I follow hesitantly behind. She gathers blankets and pillows and sets up the movie. I wait patiently. I get out her Corn Nuts, leaving the rest in the bags. She gestures for me to sit. The couch is one of those that can extend, letting us lay flat. We could sleep here. I sit, watching her. She moves with purpose, but there’s something underneath. Something…unsure? I look her up and down, her tanned legs looking longer in her red shorts. She has a tight butt, one that suggests exercise. I wonder what she did to get that butt. She turns suddenly, grinning. “Having some dirty thoughts?” I blush, stuttering. “Try avoiding those until you learn to quiet them.”
She finishes, plopping down next to me. It’s cold in her house, so I’m grateful for the blanket. She holds the big fluffy one open for me, underneath it with her. I look at her, trying to determine her motive, and slowly crawl in with her. I shiver a little, settling in. The movie starts, and I’m quoting it as it goes. She shushes me, her hand warm on my arm when she hits me. As the movie goes on, I start letting my mind wander. Not like I haven’t seen this movie a million times.

Chapter Text

“Heather?” I say quietly. I glance at her.
Her eyes are stuck on the TV. “Hm?”
Her face is soft. She’s let her walls down again. I bet that gets tiring. I shift to my side to face her. “How do you know? When someone’s really your mate?”
She furrows her brow but keeps watching. “Tons of ways. By looks. Like eyes and fur. And by reactions to their scents. Hm…by how inner wolves act around each other. Um…I heard that you see them in your dreams. My mother says its like the world falls away around you when you’re together. They’re also more likely to be calm around each other.” She turns to look at me, her grey eyes dull. She turns on her side, observing me now. “Like the world could explode tomorrow, and that’s ok, because you’d be with your love until the end.” Her voice is so soft, a whisper, a breath brushing across my face. I gaze up at her.
“I’ve dreamt of you,” I whisper, my eyes trailing over her face.
“Me too,” she whispers back. “Mother says when we’re together, we smell like a couple embracing in Paris, a rose in their hands, the rain gently pouring around them.”
“That’s very specific,” I mutter.
Her hand comes up to gently rest on my cheek, the movie long forgotten. I jump slightly. “Do you believe me?”
My breathing quickens, her thumb gently rubbing over my cheekbone. I try to think of something sassy to say, of something to lighten the increasingly heavy mood. But I can’t. “Yes,” I hardly get out. At this point, if we aren’t mates, I don’t know how else to explain everything I’ve felt thus far.
Her eyes brighten suddenly, a soft smile playing on her lips. “Really?”
My eyes hover over her lips. Again, I realize my scent is swirling around us, hers quickening my pounding heart. “Logically, it doesn’t make sense otherwise. There are too many signs.” I swallow. “I don’t understand.”
Her hand travels back, slipping into my hair. “Me neither.”
Our hearts beat in unison, the space slowly closing between us. I get nervous, feeling her knee brush my legs. “I don’t…do relationships.”
“Me neither. I fuck and leave.”
“That makes me feel good.”
“This is different.”
My thoughts start to cloud over, and it kind of feels like when I took that shot of tequila. “I don’t even fuck.”
She raises an eye brow, her breath tickling my nose. “You’ve never…?” I shake my head, blushing. “That’s ok. That’s good. No one’s ever used you, abused you.” Her face darkens for a moment. She brings her forehead to mine. “I promise. I will not hurt you.”
My throat closes. “This is so much. It’s moving way too fast.”
She brushes her nose against mine. “I know. We’ll go slow.” I finally allow myself to reach for her. I hesitate, not wanting her to snap at me. I place my hand gently on her side, earning a small sigh. My free hand tightly grips the pillow beneath me, the only thing steadying me. A breath away, I’m almost shaking with nervousness. She looks perfect, with no makeup, her hair loose around her. She must be exhausted doing herself up every day. She smiles softly. “You just called me perfect.”
“I feel,” I start, my throat dry, “I’m at a huge disadvantage. I can’t pinpoint your thoughts.”
She sighs, and I shiver. “I’ll make it fair. I’m trying extremely hard to not kiss you right now.”
My wolf lets out an excited howl, and that translates to me groaning, “Why’s that?”
“I don’t want to rush you.” She starts massaging my scalp, and I shift into her touch, our lips millimeters from brushing.
“How polite.”
She groans quietly. “You’re stalling.”
“Is it so hard to wait?” A smile twitches on my lips.
“I’m the one that makes people wait. I’m in control.”
“Thank you, for thinking of me.”
The wolf inside of her is going nuts, yearning for it. She has so much self-control. My wolf is a bit tamer, more patient to wait. “That’s me. Thinking of others.”
“Go ahead.” When I say it, my wolf starts getting more excited.
Her face brightens, a small struggle easing off her. “Really?” I nod.
I was not expecting what happened next, and I don’t think she was either. She closed that miniscule gap between us, her lips just barely brushing mine, a half a second of contact. That was amazing by itself. Her lips were so soft and plump, the taste of cherries filling every part of me. But it was the rest of it that was the best. Our wolves howled in unison at the contact, sending a shock of energy between us. The world disappeared, the movie sounding like it was underwater. The lights dimmed. I heard no thoughts in my head. There was nothing in the world but me, her, and our wolves. It was pure happiness. I’ve never felt this before. It knocked me back a bit.
We both break apart, gasping. Her eyes were wide, her face flushed. I clutched my head, the voices coming back with a vengeance. My wolf whines at the now absence of Heather, even though we are still touching. She shushes me, running a slender finger down my face. “Are you ok?” she asks.
I realize if I kiss her again, they’ll go away. I nod, looking up at her. “Kiss me again.”
She smiled, pulling my in by her hand on my neck. She didn’t push hard, but it was more contact than before. It was fueling my new-found addiction to her. I could stay in this moment forever. I now know what she was talking about. I hate to admit she’s correct, but this is right, true, good. My hand rests on her side, slipping to her lower back, pulling her closer. Our bodies now flush, the heat pulsing between us.
She breaks it, it only lasting a second or two. But those two seconds were the best two seconds of my life. But now that its done, the voices are back. “Wow,” she breathes. “Do you feel that?” I nod. I sit up, breaking our connection. Tears prickle my eyes. I can’t hear anything now, the voices slowly gaining in volume. I feel hands snake over my shoulders, Heather sitting beside me.
“Make it stop,” I whisper, tears dripping onto the blanket.
I don’t hear her, but she pulls me to look at her. My face in her hands, she suddenly releases a massive wave of her scent, a different meaning for the scent than what was previously in the room. It calms me, but that doesn’t help the pain. She’s incredibly focused, her brow furrowed. The volume increases in my head, and I close my eyes. She shakes me gently until I open them into hers. I feel tears continue to drip. Eventually I hear a faint calling of my name. It’s gentle. Soft. Welcoming. I listen harder for it, toning down the thoughts of football boys naked and the game on Friday. After several minutes of ignoring those thoughts, I get closer and closer to my name. It’s like when you’re a child, lost in the mall, looking for your mom. You can hear your name, but don’t know where it is. Eventually, I pin-point it. It’s right in front of me, close and calm.
I take a deep breath, Heather wiping the tears. It takes focus, but I can ignore the other voices, at least quiet them into a distant whisper, and focus on the voice in front of me. She smiles when she sees me calm. “Ok?” I hear her say. I nod.
“Thank you,” I whisper. I close my eyes, focusing. I keep listening for the voice, even though it isn’t saying my name anymore. It’s talking about how my lips look so kissable slightly parted. I smile softly. “So kiss me, then.”
She chuckles softly, leaning in. I lean in as well, seeking it. She turns and gently kisses my cheek. “I told you you’d be begging for it.” I snap my eyes open, lightly punching her in the arm, huffing. I lay back down, crossing my arms over my chest and staring at the TV. She drops on her stomach, head resting on her palm. “Are we going to play that game?” I shrug, trying my best not to smile. “That’s fine. I like playing games.” Her free hand appears on my stomach. I tense, holding my breath. Her fingers danced around the hem of my shirt, threatening to dip inside. I hold my resolve. She leans in, her chin on my shoulder. Her breath is hot on my neck. “I love finding all the sweet spots.” I swallow, biting my lip to stop from groaning. Her fingers skirt under the hem of my shirt, her warm fingers brushing along the soft skin of my underbelly. “I’m very good at it.”
My voice cracks a little. “What happened to taking things slow?”
Her hand stalls, and she leans back. “Fine.” Her tone has changed from the playful one to the stone one, the one of the girl who doesn’t care. “What now then?”
I smile, pushing her gently onto her back. She closes her eyes softly as I lean into her, placing a kiss on her cheek, resting my head on her shoulder. She tenses. “Is this ok?”
I hear her moan slightly. She wraps her arm around me, then presses her hand into my lower back, shifting me. My face settles into the crook of her neck. She sighs, relaxing. Her other hand finds my leg, bending it and resting it over her legs. I want to fight it but allow her to direct me. I’m ok with cuddling. “Yes,” she says, tersely. Her hand gently rubs over my leg.
Now that I can’t see the movie, I close my eyes. My wolf is at peace, calm at the proximity to my alpha. “Are Duke and McNamara mates?”
She tenses even further. Wrong topic, I guess. “Yes.”
I bring my nose to brush along under her jaw. “Are you ok?”
I feel her jaw clench. “Yes.”
I grin into her neck. “Liar.”
Her hand starts tracing patterns on my back. “This is just…really hard.”
“Next you’re going to tell me that because I look so beautiful right now, you can’t control yourself.”
She chuckles at that. “No. I wouldn’t mind so much. But now that you’ve embraced me as your mate, all my wolf wants is to tear into you right now.” She’s speaking through clenched teeth.
“Tear into me? That’s very aggressive.”
“What do you expect? Now that I know it’s you, and you’re an omega, that’s all my wolf wants.”
I smile softly into her neck, struggling to maintain consciousness. “I have a feeling this relationship is going to be very difficult for us.”
She swallows. “I don’t want to push…” she groans.
“But?”
“But can we do something? I won’t…I won’t tear into you or anything.”
I take a deep breath. “Are you asking for permission?”
She’s really struggling, her wolf hardly able to control herself. “I’m having a hard time.”
“No stripping. And you stop if I say so?” She nods eagerly. “Ok.”
She doesn’t waste any time. She rolls over onto me, letting out a low, hungry growl. She kisses me, and the high is back, like taking drugs and drinking alcohol. My hands rest around her waist, holding her down on top of me. Her lips are locked on mine, my breathing matching hers. Her hands dig into my hair, probably to stop herself from going further. I need a breath, so I break to the side, but she doesn’t miss a beat. Her lips instantly go to kiss along my face, my jaw, my neck. I gasp loudly, arching into her, when she kisses my pulse point. A hand goes to hold her head there. That’s perfect. She smiles.
“Did we find a spot?” she murmurs. She lays a soft bite, and I groan. She chuckles.
We make out for a while, slowly, soft, lips only, but it’s hard to tell time when the world is gone. I don’t feel the sensations around me. She is my whole world, my everything. We don’t even hear when intruders enter. We only break out of it when the person uses their alpha voice on us.
“Heather.”
We break apart, taking a moment to come back to earth. I realize it’s her mom, and I scramble over the couch away from Heather. She sighs, gives me a disappointed look, but turns to her mother. “Yes?”
A man stands next to Mrs. Chandler, and based on his hair color, I’m guessing it’s Mr. Chandler. “We want to test the scent.”
I look at Heather, pleading her to say no. Instead, she says, “Why?”
“There’s a certain chemical we are trying to isolate. Since you have the day off from school, it would be a good time to test it.”
“Fine. Let’s go.” She stands, walking confidently over to the door. I jog to catch up. Sure, her mother was nice once, but she still scares me like no other. We get into her mother’s SUV, a gap between us in the middle seats. I concentrate fully on my scent, sucking it in. Heather furrows her brow and looks at me. “What are you doing? Stop.”
I lean over, whispering. “Your mother doesn’t like my scent.”
“I don’t mind anymore, dear. Now that you’re mixing in well with the other scents, it’s smell very nice.” Mrs. Chandler turns to give me a small smile from the passenger seat. “You two smell good together.”
I blush, leaning back from Heather. I relax a bit but keep the scent light. We drive out to a field, us hoping out. “First,” Mr. Chandler says, “We’ll try it as a human, then we’ll need you to shift.” I nod. He lights the cigarette, blowing some smoke out. I hug myself, looking nervously between him and Heather, who is scrutinizing me. I shrug. I don’t know what they expect. “Ok, I guess. Go ahead and shift.” He starts taking some notes. I hide behind the car with Heather while we shift. I trot out behind her and sit patiently beside her. He blows out some more smoke. I wag my tail. Again, don’t know what to expect. Heather lays down and licks my paws.
Mrs. Chandler hums. “Here. Let me try.” She takes the cigarette and blows out some smoke. My ears perk up. I take a few steps closer. She takes another drag. I tilt my head to the side, my tail wagging excitedly. She furrows her brow. “Look at Heather.” I whine a little and look over my shoulder. I look back up at her. “Hm. What do you think?”
Mr. Chandler looks at his notes. “I’m wondering if it’s a way of enhancing your pheromones. She had no reaction to me. Try telling her to do something. She shouldn’t do anything Heather doesn’t want her to normally.”
She sighs. “Go around in a circle clockwise.”
I stand, going to turn. Heather barks, calling me over. I look between her and Heather, whining slightly. I know I should go to her, but I also really need to turn. I end up barking weakly at Heather but turning the circle. I sit down obediently, waiting for praise.
She squints. “How far can I push this?” Mr. Chandler shrugs. She kneels, her scent washing over me. In her alpha voice, “I want you to kill Heather.” I let out a loud whine, confused. Why? I stand, anxiously pawing the ground. “Now.” I turn to see Heather staring me down. I walk up to her, whining at her. I hear a low growl from her. Smoke fills my nose, and I lunge. Heather easily dodges me, and I keep trying to catch her throat. She doesn’t go after me, no matter how hard I try. “Stop.” I slip out from her and trot over to Mrs. Chandler, panting, pressing my face into her palm. She puts out the cigarette. The smell slowly dies, and I realize what I did. I whimper and roll onto my stomach in front of Heather, begging for forgiveness. She simply stares down at me. “Do you have enough notes? Ok. Go ahead and shift back, girls. You’re good.”
I wait for Heather to move, whimpering as I follow her. After we change, she won’t look me in the eye. I reach for her and she shrugs me off. “Heather?” She won’t talk to me. We get in the car, and my scent is overpowering. I can feel her inner wolf yearning for it. I’ve made my alpha upset. I can handle angry alpha’s. But she denied my submission. I don’t know how to handle this.
Mrs. Chandler turns around as Mr. Chandler starts driving. “I think we’ve made considerable progress today.”
Heather sighs heavily. I try to focus my breathing and close my eyes, hoping I can get a peek into her thoughts. The familiar voice that she just taught me to search for is absent. “Don’t bother trying,” she mumbles.
The car ride is awkwardly quiet. I pick at my nails as Heather stares out the window, her face solid stone. Her scent was absent, my wolf whining for it. Not only that, but I’ve submitted, and she hasn’t accepted it. I’m stuck until she acknowledges it or releases me. If it goes on for too long, I might do something drastic. I follow her into the house, head down. We don’t talk as I follow her to her bedroom. She gently closes the door, sitting on the bed. I hover, unsure.
When she doesn’t say anything, “Heather?” She won’t even look at me. “I…I need you…to…” She still doesn’t look at me. “I submitted, Heather.” She seems out of it. I kneel in front of her. “Heather,” I whine.
She finally drags her eyes to look at me. “You…attacked me.”
I swallow. “I’m sorry.”
“How could you?” Her voice is emotional.
“I…I’m sorry…I just…had to.”
I reach for her, and she pulls her hand back. “Just go.”
“What?” She hasn’t accepted it. “I submitted. I need—”
Her face hardens suddenly, her voice cold. “I know. Go.”
I nod softly, standing. I’m not happy, but it won’t help to make her angrier. I grab my stuff and walk home.
The next morning, I walk to school. I got a lot of the homework done, but I’m still far behind. Betty told me all about all the drama and news, but I blew off most of it. I have too much to worry about with my new pack, I don’t need high school drama. I hardly slept last night. Not having been released, then having to spend many hours at a distance from my alpha, it hurt. I’m in pain.
I walk in, searching for Heather. I can’t find her, and I start to panic. I can’t survive today if I don’t get released. In my rush to find her, I run into someone by my locker. I apologize briefly to him, but rush on. I spot her texting at her locker, her red hair up in a fancy bun. The others are hovering around her, chatting happily. As I approach, Heather McNamara gives me a cheery hug as a hello, whispering a soft warning of Heather’s anger. Heather doesn’t look up from her phone.
“So you’re sitting with us today at lunch?”
I look at Heather hugging me and nod curtly. I’m in pain being so close to her again, every breath I take burning with her scent. I look at her. “Heather…”
She slams her locker shut, rounding on me. Her face close to mine, her scent reeking of anger. “What?” I curl into myself slightly.
I clench my jaw, finding it really hard to even look her in the eye. “Can you please release me?”
Her eye twitches. “Why?”
“I’m in pain.”
She shrugs. “And?”
“And this is cruel.”
“Consider this your punishment for disobeying me.”
“Heather—”
“I’ll let you go when I feel you’ve learned your lesson.” With that, she clicks off.
“What happened?” McNamara asks me quietly.
I sigh, strained. “Nothing. She’s just ignoring my submission.”
Medicine doesn’t help pain like this. My brain is occupied and there’s nothing I can do to help myself. I just do my best to get through the morning, hoping I can beg Heather again at lunch. I head into the lunch room, one of the last ones in. Betty waves me down. I smile, about to walk over to her, but I then make eye contact with my new pack. Heather raises her eyebrows, gesturing to the spot next to her. I see Betty again, her face fallen. She shrugs.
I gently sit next to Heather, involuntarily searching for her scent. Duke scrutinized my plate. “Are you really eating that?”
I look at her, sitting across from me. “Yes. Heather. I am.” I glance at Heather, looking for any sign of compassion, but it is solid. Stern. Her jaw clenched. Her scent angry and slight. Some girl walks up to the table.
“Hey, I heard you guys took on a whole adult pack and survived. Sick.” Heather Chandler didn’t grace her with even a glance, so Heather Duke took over, agreeing. “But I heard you only survived because of Gemma.” Everyone at the table stalled, me blushing slightly.
“Fuck off, Helen,” Chandler snapped. The girl disappeared.
“Who the hell does she think she is, talking to us like that?”
“Shut up, Heather.”
An awkward, angry silence fell over the table. I was the only one really eating. Duke dug into her book, McNamara was on her phone, Veronica making googly-eyes at her boyfriend across the room, Chandler angrily on her phone. I make eye contact with Betty, and she gives me a weird look. I end up having a brief non-verbal conversation with her before Chandler hits me.
Duke leans in, gossip position. “Did you hear about the new kid? Super hot.”
“Like, you’ll suck his dick hot? Or Chandler would suck his dick hot?” Veronica asks, mocking interest.
“Chandler level.”
“Wow. Must be a sought-after guy. You better pounce.”
“I bet I’ll be the first girl he sleeps with.”
“$10.”
“Done.”
The bell rang, and we all stood up. I reach for Heather but stop myself. “Heather, please.”
She leveled me with a gaze. “Keep asking, and I’ll leave it longer.”
I stared at her. “What do you want from me? Do you understand how painful this is?”
“Yes, I know how painful it is. And that’s why it’s the perfect punishment.”
I follow her out of class, mentally kicking myself. I just can’t stand this. Much longer and I’ll start punching some people. I can almost hear Chandler’s angry breathing and feel her eyes on my back throughout class. I’m excited at the end of the day for a chance for her to release me. I quickly work in my locker, and I hear someone next to me close their walking. I smell their approach.
“Excuse me,” a smooth male voice pipped up. I poke my head around my locker to see a tall guy with shaggy brown hair and blue eyes gazing at me. He has a slight flush to his face, and I can’t tell if it’s his natural tint or if he’s nervous. I offer a small smile, my heart jumping a bit. Just my type. I see Emily Dickens tucked in his hand, and I know I can get along well with this guy. “Earlier, when we bumped into each other, I think we switched notebooks? I’m not in physics.” He smells like evergreens and a bonfire.
My brain shuts down. He has a gorgeous smile. I blush slightly, giggling a little. “Yeah, I was wondering where that went. I’m not sure if I have one of yours…” I look for a while, pulling out a tattered notebook. “Ah. Here.” I smile, offering it. His hand brushes mine, and my blush deepens. “Thanks.”
He blushes now, rubbing his neck. “Did it hurt? When you fell from Heaven?”
I’m stunned. I let out a quick laugh. “Did you just use a pick-up line on me?”
“Did it work?”
“What if it did?” I lean against my locker, looking up at him. He leans next to me, and after not getting shot down, he’s way more confident. He brushes his hair out of his eyes, extending his hand.
“I’m Lucas.”
“Gemma.”
“That’s a very pretty name.”
“So is Lucas.” I blush as soon as I realize what I said. “I mean. Thanks.” I let out another flirtatious giggle. Like I said. I don’t do relationships. I don’t have much experience.
“Thanks, I guess.” He chuckles, a deep melodious sound. “So, about that pickup line.”
“Are you asking me for my number?” I smile, grabbing his Emily Dickens book. I flip through it, finding my favorite one. Its heavily noted in the margins. I smile.
“I am.” He points to the poem. “That’s my favorite, by far.”
I grin. “Agreed.” I hold out my hand. He slips me his phone. I put my number in.
He smiles. “Is it moving too fast to call you tonight?”
I shrug, my flirting skills extremely lacking. “I don’t think so.” I’m so nervous, I can hardly maintain eye contact. He’s a beta, maybe a delta? I can’t tell, I’m too flustered.
He grins. “Great.”
We stand there, awkwardly giggling and smiling at each other. I feel a slim arm slip into mine. “Come on,” I hear. I nod, waving goodbye at Lucas. “What the hell?”
“What?” I look up at Heather as she guides me to the car.
“Not only are you shamelessly flirting with some guy in front of me, that ‘some guy’ is the guy Heather was talking about at lunch.”
I shrug. “And?”
She looks at me stunned. “You are giving me more and more reasons to leave you to suffer.”
“No! Please. I’m sorry.”
“Just get in the car,” she mumbles. Once inside, she tears off at a high speed.
“Woah. Slow down.” She grips her steering wheel, driving well past our houses. “Where are we going?”
“You want to do that romantic bullshit? We’ll do that romantic bullshit.”
“I never said I wanted romantic stuff.”
“You didn’t say it.”
“I really hate that.”
“Just wait until we run as a pack again, and I get tired of your shit.” She pulls into the convenient store. “Stay here.” She goes in, and when she comes back out, she has two slushies. She hands me one. I raise my eyebrow. “Cherry.” I nod my thanks. She starts driving. I enjoy my slushy, humming along with the radio. My parents are more relaxed with me now that I’ve got a pack, so I sit back, letting Heather take us wherever she wants. After we finish our slushies, her hand rests on the gear shift.
I swallow, glancing over at her. “I’m sorry, Heather.”
A smile tugs at her lips. “Sorry for what, exactly?”
I want to roll my eyes. Of course, she’ll make me say it. “I’m sorry for flirting with that guy. He’s cute. My type of guy. I didn’t know that was who Heather was talking about. I’m sorry for attacking you.” I keep my eyes on my lap.
“It just sucks knowing you would do that, even though you know me.” Her voice is quiet.
“I feel the same way. What would have happened if it was Heather? I could have seriously hurt her.” I feel her turn to me. “I don’t want to fight with you.”
She takes a deep breath. “I don’t want to either. I accept your submission.”
I gasp, the weight on my chest suddenly disappearing. The pain is gone, and her scent now is sweet and calming once again. I lean forward, my eyes almost tearing up. “Thank you,” I squeak. My world melts away, everything now enveloped in her.
“You make things so difficult.”
“How?”
“I have to punish you for not doing what I say. But I hate hurting you.”
“You didn’t seem to struggle with it today,” I let out, regretting it. She doesn’t respond, and we pull up at this man-made lake in the middle of the country. Heather turns off the car, leaning back. “Where are we?”
“It’s a small fishing hole that only a few people use. It’s nice and quiet.” Her face is calm as she watches the water. “I come here sometimes to be alone.”
I suddenly feel awkward, invading on her personal space. I decide to not speak, also watching the water. With her scent and her acceptance, I’m calm enough to fall asleep. I sigh softly, looking at her. I wonder how she handles it, being an alpha. It’s nice being told what to do sometimes. What are you supposed to do with no guidance from anyone?
She turns her head and looks at me. “It’s hard. But I just go with my gut.” I blush, forgetting that she can easily read my thoughts. She smiles evilly. “I knew you liked it.”
“I said sometimes,” I mumble. “I hate it most of the time.”
The afternoon sun shines in through the window, dancing off her eyes. “Do you really like me, Heather?” She shakes her head at the question. “I mean, sure, we’re mates. But would you date me if mates weren’t a thing? I don’t want you to feel obligated to be with me.”
I feel self-conscious under her gaze, fidgeting with my hair. She shakes her head. “No. I wouldn’t give you a second glance.” Bloody Hell. Break my heart why don’t you. I stare at my lap, now wanting to change the topic. “But I’m not the kind of person that looks actively for someone to settle down with. I always look for people to use and throw away.” She brushes some hair out of my eyes. “I need someone to hold me down, to force me to settle. Otherwise, I would run away forever.” I glance up at her, her eyes glazed and distant. “I do like you.” A smile tugs at my lips, and my wolf prances around in pride. “It’s nice to have someone like you around. Sometimes.” She laughs, her face settling. “I understand if you don’t feel the same way.”
I reach out, letting my hand rest on hers, in her lap. “I like having you around too, sometimes.” She smiles at me. “But we have to work our relationship out.”
“I agree.”
“You realize if you expect me to not flirt with guys, your party life also has to be restricted.”
She shrugs. “Fine. I can deal with avoiding horny guys.”
“What about PDA?”
She smiles mischievously. Her hand loops in mine, her eyes twinkling. “I prefer it.” She lays a hot, sloppy kiss on the back of my hand.
I shake my head. “If you really want to not push me, that can wait.”
She pouts, her other hand rubbing my chin. “In private?”
“By ear.”
She glances at my lips, and my heart skips a beat. “Fine. But what are your limits of PDA?” I give her a weird look. “Like, I get not making out and all, but holding hands? My hand on your thigh? Up your skirt…” her voice trails off, her hand brushing around my bare thigh.
I blush. “Yes, no, and no. Because I know you’ll do everything to torture me.”
She grins. “Deal. For now. So we’re exclusive now.”
I sigh. “We are exclusive.”
“This will be fun.”
I laugh. “Sure. If by fun you mean torturous and a strain on my emotional capacities.”
She huffs. “Hey. I can’t be that bad. Especially if kissing will always be like that.” Her face changes slightly, amusement in her eyes. “Think what sex will be like.”
“Woah! Hold up! We are not talking about that.”
She laughs, her hand gently rubbing my leg. Her scent is all I can think about. I lean forward slightly, yearning for more. In a husky voice, “I have a back seat for a reason.”
I blush. “But think about how many STDs there are back there.”
“I’ve never allowed anyone to do it in my car.”
I raise my eyebrows, my eyes tracing over her face. “Should I feel honored?”
She chuckles. “Only if you want to.”
Its like offering heroin to a heroin addict. I don’t know if I can say no. “Heather.”
Her eyes are glued to my lips, her thumb running along my jaw. “Hm?”
“There’s another thing we need to talk about.” Her thumb runs over my lower lip, her own lips parting. “Marks. And submission.”
She sighs heavily, leaning back. Her eyes lock into mine, and I can see the walls being built. My wolf whines slightly. “Fine. What?”
“I don’t want marks at all anymore. For anything. Because I can’t trust you with them. And I don’t want you to deny my submission again.”
Her eyes are sharp, darting between mine. She mulls over my words. “For the marks, I promise to do my best to avoid abusing them. And I will do what I want with your submission. That is the point.”
“A submission is an apology, but it weighs down on me if you don’t do anything with it. I’d rather take the bite than deal with what I had to deal with today.”
She sighs. “If I refuse your submission, it’ll be for a good reason.” I open my mouth to argue. “That is the best I will do right now. Don’t do anything wrong, and I won’t deny it.” I angrily sigh, wondering if I should accept. She leans back in, giving me a pinch on my inner thigh. I gasp, moving back just a bit. Her hand goes to the back of my neck pulling me back in. She smiles slightly. “About that backseat offer?”
My wolf is pawing away, yearning for it. I can feel hers, and I know she’s holding back right now. I groan lightly, trying to hold back as well. “I don’t know…You said romantic.”
She smirks. “This is romantic. I bought you a slushy, and there’s a nice view.”
“How very.” I consider denying her. There’s no reason why I can’t use this as payback for her denying me for so long.
Her face darkens. “That’s so mean.”
Our lips are a breath apart. I can feel her sweet cherry-tinted breathes on my face. I really, really want to deny her. But I can’t. My wolf was devasted when we got interrupted last time. I’ll be hurting if I don’t. “I’m a very mean person.” My brain is fogging up.
She moves closer, almost kissing me. “Get in the backseat.”
Against my own conscious telling me to not do it, to make her pay, I crawl into the backseat of her car. She follows closely behind, leaving her heels in the front seat. All there is in her eyes is hunger. My heart jumps, and my body yearns for the high she’s offering. I grab for her hand, placing a soft kiss on the back of it. Her eyes flutter closed, and she lets out a gently sigh. I smile, embracing her scent. I lean forward to kiss her. She holds up a finger to my lips.
“That’s cute. You think you’re controlling this.”
I groan, sitting back. “Fine.”
She smiles, leaning forward. I closed my eyes as she places a soft kiss on my pulse point. I fall forward, my body itching for her to continue. My wolf whines and whimpers, hers barking jovially. She presses a hand into my stomach, guiding me onto my back. I sigh, feeling content to be here. Her hair falls over her shoulders, brushing my chest. She leans down and finally kisses me. My world explodes, and the only thing left is her. I moan, a simple kiss tearing me apart. She smiles into the kiss, biting my bottom lip. It tempts my lips apart, and she dives her tongue in, easily wrestling mine. My hands go to her waist, but she grabs them and wraps them up in hers. She pulls them above my head, her knee pressed into my core. My hips naturally shift down, enjoying the pressure there.
She smiles and breaks the kiss. The world snaps back, almost making me sick with the voices. I swallow, focusing, or attempting to, on the quiet, calm voice. “How are you doing?” I don’t reply, just drag her back down. I need to escape. I can’t stand the voices. She thankfully kisses me, giggling a little. Her hands drift to the buttons of my blouse. I know I should stop her, but my hands dig into her hair, my only assurance that she’ll keep kissing me. She quickly slips her hands under the hem of my shirt, running them over my stomach. I gasp as her cold hands connect to my warm skin. Her hands dangerously dance around my chest, gently grazing my under-breasts every once in a while. The pressure of her knee on my core grounds me, and I shamelessly buck my hips against it, otherwise I’d fly off into space with all this sensation.
Her phone rings in the front seat. She breaks, sitting up. As she reaches for it, I wrap my legs around her waist, kissing the back of her neck. As long as I can focus on her skin, her scent, her presence, I don’t have to hear the voices in my head. She gently shoves me to get me off, but I refuse to move.
“Well, Christ, Heather. Hitch a ride with Kurt or Ram…I don’t care…Fuck. Fine. Stay there.” She sets the phone down, turning to face me. “We need to go.” I whine as she detangles herself. She gives me a full kiss on the lips. “We can continue later.” She crawls into the front seat, me following soon. I blush, the realization coming from our encounter. As she starts to drive, I drag her hand over, kissing her palm. She groans slightly but keeps her eyes on the road. As she drives, I play with her hand, kissing it, tracing it, gripping it. I refuse to give it back to her. It’s the only escape I have.
We pull up to the school, seeing Heather and Heather standing by the Jeep. A large flat tire on her rear driver side looks almost as angry as Heather. Heather shoos me out of the car to let them in. Once they crawl in, grumbling, I sit back in the car. I don’t reach for Heather. “You’re welcome.”
Heather Duke mumbles her thanks, but Heather smiles broadly. “Thanks, Heather! I really didn’t want to walk.”
“What were you two up to?” Duke asks. Is that a hint of jealousy in her voice?
“None of your goddamn business, Heather.”
She leans forward, her arm resting on my seat as she looks at Heather. “Guess who’s number I got.” When nobody says anything. “The new guy’s! His name is Lucas, and he asked me to coffee!”
I glance back to see sadness in Heather McNamara’s eyes, but when she notices me looking, she smiles. “That’s great, Heather!”
“He’s so cute. He has these gorgeous blue eyes…” She rambles off, talking about Lucas. I do my best to hide my blush, but Heather isn’t looking at me anyway. Chandler offers a quick glance but nothing more. She’ll keep my secret. Eventually, we stop by the Duke residence. She crawls out, Heather following close behind. When I get back in the car and driving, Heather looks over at me.
“Tell me about England.”
I feel a bit confused. “Why?”
“Because I want to know,” she snaps.
I shrug after an instinctual flinch, telling her about why we went there, what it was like without many other werewolves, how beautiful it was…I end up talking longer than I thought, her just driving as we go. I didn’t notice either when her fingers intertwined with mine. I daydream about it, and when I finish, I awkwardly look at her. “Sorry. I talked a lot.”
She has a calm smile on her face. “I enjoyed it.”
I look at her hand holding mine, mine small enough to fit perfectly in hers. I look back up at her profile. She is gorgeous. When she isn’t terrifying and angry. “I want to go back some day. Not to stay, probably. But to visit.”
She nods. “It sounds like a nice place. But why did the company ask your dad to move across seas?”
“Werewolves aren’t near as common in England. It’s easier to find customers here.” She doesn’t answer. “What does your dad do?”
“He’s a doctor. He’s got this thing when he touches people that he can see what’s physically ailing them. He’s gone most of the time.”
I nod. “I bet you enjoy all that time with your mother.”
She laughs bitterly and shakes her head. “She’s gone most of the time too. Lawyer and all. But when she is around, I don’t like being with her. She loves to remind me she’s more powerful than me.” Her face is somber. I need to change the subject.
“Thanks. For the romantic stuff.”
She offers a one shoulder shrug. “Not how I wanted it to end.”
“It’s not over yet.”
She glances at me, and I lean on the middle console. “What are you suggesting?”
“We never finished that movie.”
She smiles. “I won’t get distracted this time.”
“Want to bet?” I grin.
She shakes her head, driving us to her house. Like she expected, her parents were gone. We pile onto the couch and start the movie, about where we stopped paying attention. Yearning for her proximity, I crawl right next to her. She tenses as I cuddle into her.
“Are you ok?”
“Yeah. I’m just getting used to touching without sex.”
I smile. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s…nice.”
We enjoy the movie, both of us quoting and joking. It’s nice, it’s calm, it’s perfect. My body is relaxed into hers, content to be here forever. Her free hand suddenly finds my thigh, creeping up towards my butt. “What happened to not getting distracted?”
She grins, her eyes glued to the movie. “I’m not. I’m still watching.” I gasp as her fingers slip under my shorts on my butt. “You seem quite distracted though.”
I shake my head. “Nope. I’m still watching too.”
Her nails dig into my butt, dragging as she pulls her hands out. I groan, curling into her. I smile into her shoulder. “You sure about that?”
“Mhm,” I giggle, trying my best to watch the movie. “I’m fine.”
She traces her fingers up and down the back of my thigh, and it takes every ounce of my energy to not laugh. If this is going to be a competition, I’m going to win. I’m going to beat her. The movie ends before we get too distracted. I take a breath, relaxing. I won. Ha. “What are you doing tomorrow?” I shrug. “Want to stay the night? We usually have a sleep-over, then go to the party on Saturday night.” I don’t answer, unsure, and she continues with, “It wasn’t really a question.”
“Uh. Sure. I guess.”
“You don’t sound too excited.”
“I just don’t do sleep-overs.”
She smiles. “We won’t force you to paint your nails or anything.”
I smile back. “Sure.” I sit up, and I hear her wolf whine. “I should go.” She nods. “I can walk.” I go to stand, but she grabs my hand. She pulls me into a quick kiss, then plants one on my forehead. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I leave, looking at her smiling back at me. When I get home, I get a phone call.
“Gemma?”
“Yes?”
“It’s me. Lucas.”
I grin, blushing a little. “Hi, Lucas.”
“Hey. How are you?”
“I’m good. Just doing homework.”
“Same.”
I chew my lip. “I heard you asked Heather Duke to coffee.”
He sighs. “Word travels fast, huh.”
“She’s in my pack.”
“Yeah. She cornered me, and I felt bad. So I asked her. It means nothing, trust me.”
I doubt him a bit. “Ok.”
“She harassed me about Moby Dick. I don’t really like it.”
I laugh. “She loves that book.”
“Darn. We can’t be soulmates.”
We laugh for a while, and I feel I have to tell him. “I just want you to know, I’ve found my mate.” He hums in response. “And they are very possessive.”
“Oh.” A long pause. “I see.”
“I just want to be up front with you. They won’t let me date other people.”
“Sounds like a shitty person. Not like you don’t have the rest of your life with them.”
“I’m sorry. Are you mad?”
I hear him shift around. “Only at them. Who is it? I’ll beat them up,” he laughs.
“Thank you, for fighting for my honor.”
We have a good conversation the rest of the night, discussing authors. It’s nice to talk to someone who has the same respect for English authors as I do.

Chapter Text

In the morning, I walk to school. I hum along to myself, happy. Things are going well, even though it could be better. I’ll get through to Heather, at least about Betty. When I get to school, I go to my locker, dropping off my stuff. In my head, I hear a soft cooing of my name. I perk up, searching for it. I look down the hall, and see Chandler smiling at me. I smile back, prancing over.
“You’re getting better,” she praises.
I preen a little at the compliment. “That doesn’t help with all the dirty thoughts about J.D. or Kurt and Ram.”
Her eyes drift, pinpointing on someone. I’m about to turn, when she looks back, grabbing my hand. “Just ignore them. They’re horned up, sex-crazed teenagers.”
“That’s nice to say about your friends.” Speaking of which, they walk up. McNamara smiles down at our hands.
“You two are so cute together!” she squeals.
“Yeah. Perfect for each other. Someone who needs absolute control and someone who refuses to listen,” Duke grumbles as she frowns at her phone. “He won’t text me back,” she whine’s quietly.
Veronica shrugs. “Maybe he’s busy.”
Duke scoffs. “Too busy to text? Please.”
I continue a conversation with McNamara, asking her about the game tonight. She was dressed in the cheerleader outfit, hair up in a fancy ponytail. She looks even cuter, all bright and happy. “What time does it start?”
“6. But be there early. You can watch us practice!”
“Ok. I’ll be there.” She smiles at me. I glance at Chandler, to see her locked on someone again. I squeeze her hand. “Are you ok?”
She snaps back to me, looping her arm around my waist. “Yeah. I’m great.” Her voice is sickly-sweet, like she does when she fakes it. I cringe a little. I told her holding hands is as far as I wanted to go in public. However, she holds me tight, her arm steel around me. She pretends to join in to the conversation, but I can tell she’s keeping an eye on someone.
The bell rings, and I thankfully slip out of her grasp, walking with Duke to class. I was utterly distracted through class. My mind wandered to random topics, between new movies, music, my other classes, Heather…By lunch, I accomplished nothing. I doodled all day, spacing out. I walk into lunch, excited to be surrounded by the familiar scents of my pack. I sit next to Heather, her hand instantly finding my knee, holding it possessively. I snap my legs closed, pretending not to notice. She smirks at my reaction.
“We’re going to the game, right?” Veronica asked.
Both Duke and Chandler make exasperated noises. I look around Heather to nod at Veronica. “I’m going!”
“Sweet!”
“Fine. I’ll go,” Chandler says.
Duke rolls her eyes. “You’re just going because she is.”
Chandler leans forward, ready for a challenge. “At least I support my friends.” Her grip tightens on my leg, slipping up my thigh. McNamara blushes.
“No, it’s ok Heather. I don’t mind if she doesn’t come,” she says.
“Shut up, Heather,” Chandler snaps. “A good friend would show up to support you. And tell all the guys to suck their own dicks.”
The air is incredibly tense, the two girls staring each other down. I slowly grab onto Chandler’s hand, hoping I can calm her before she tears out her throat. “What I do with Heather is our business.”
“Not when you let your thoughts out in the open about having sex with every guy on the football team.”
I stand suddenly. “I’m getting some water.” I grab Heather’s cup as well. I slip away, grateful to be away from that kind of air. As I’m getting water, I get cornered by some guys. I can smell their musk, their pheromones. They’re in heat. I bump into one as I try to slip by. “Excuse me.”
One grabs me. “You’re excused.” The other one grabs some of my hair. It’s tricky, dealing with people in heat. As an omega, people expect you just to do it for them. “What do you say we go to the bathroom and get busy?”
I hate it when they’re in heat because it worse than usual. They aren’t even trying. “Yeah, come on, omega. We won’t hurt you too bad.”
I try to defend myself, but I’m too frightened. My scent rushes out to defend myself, but it only drives them on. “It smells like she wants to.”
One grabs my arm roughly, spilling the water a bit. “Let’s go, omega.”
Just as I am about to panic, cherries appear, and heels click. “Back off, assholes. Get someone else to suck your dicks. Wait, better yet. Suck each other’s.”
With his grip still on my arm, he turns. “Come on, Heather. We’ll bring her right back.”
Heather taps her foot on the ground. “Boys. Back up right now.” Her voice is deep and powerful, but not quite her alpha voice. I cringe a little. After a few minutes of her overwhelming them with her scent, they let me go. “Come on,” she says softly. “You’ll fight me but not them?”
I hand her the cup of water. “Fighting only eggs them on and gets me hurt in the end.”
She holds my hand back to the table, sitting us down. The fight seems to be over, McNamara and Veronica chatting happily away while Duke texts. I grip her hand under the table, now on edge. I’m glad she was there to protect me. My grip is tight on her hand, them resting in my lap. Both of my hands are working around hers, the free one tracing the veins. Once the bell rings, we walk to class, me still holding her hand hostage. At her locker, “You can let go now. Your palm is sweaty.”
I blush slightly but let go. “Thanks, for helping.” She shrugs. She rarely smiles at school. Its sad. I miss being alone with her.
“I told you you’d be anxiously waiting for us to be alone,” she whispers, winking.
I squeak and run off into the classroom before her. After school, I wait by my locker. There’s no point walking home for two hours. As I wait for Heather, Lucas appears.
“Hey,” he smiles. Oh my god my knees are weak. Ok. Just don’t flirt. We can be friends.
“Hi,” I smile back, not capable of stopping the blush from creeping in.
“You going to the game?” I nod. “Cool.”
“Do you play?”
He shakes his head. “Soccer.”
“I didn’t know we had that here.”
“It’s a traveling team.”
“I love soccer. I used to watch it all the time in England.”
“Me too! I love to watch—”
“Lucas!” In a sing-song voice, Duke comes running up, wrapping her arms around him.
“Oh. Hi,” he says.
“What are you doing here?” She gives me a look like she’s about to murder me.
“We were just talking about soccer.”
“Ew. Why?”
“Because we both—”
“Did you forget our date?”
“How could I?”
He gives me an apologetic wave, and Duke drags him out the doors. I see Heather speaking with the other cheerleaders, and Veronica looks like she’s heading out with J.D. I look around, and don’t see the girl clad in red. I sigh, wondering what to do. I decide I can just sit in the stands and wait, read or something. I bury my head in my poetry book, trying to find my favorite one. I feel a pair of large rough hands wrap around me and yank me into the men’s restroom.
I let out a scream, my claws coming out to play. I scratch and kick, fighting hard. A couple of the guys from the lunch room are holding me down, hungry, feral faces. I get a hard slice across one’s face. That’s going to scar. One holds down my shoulders, while the other starts to take off my shorts. No matter what I do, I can’t over power them. I’m not weak, by any means, but I have two guys, who are bigger than me, and I’m on the ground. I fully panic, my scent rushing out to match. Rough hands rake over my body, them laughing the whole time. I hate being an omega. The only thing I can do now is hope someone comes in. But I refuse to cry or beg. Just as they finally get my legs restricted enough to get my underwear down, a dick pulled out, the door bangs open.
A growl rings out, two manicured hands grip one of the guys and chucks him against the wall, cracking the tile. The other one gets up to fight, and he’s smacked into the sinks, his head bleeding. After some growling and snarling, the guys finally leave. I curl up in a ball, covering myself, embarrassed.
Soft hands lightly grab my shoulder. “Hey, it’s ok. I’m here.”
I close my eyes, trying to find comfort in cherries and roses. I take a deep breath, trying to not cry. “My clothes are torn.” My voice is low and dead.
“Yeah. Ok, I’ll go get you some new ones. Come here,” she says, lifting me gently. She helps me to a stall. “Lock it and be safe. I’ll be back in a couple of seconds.” I nod numbly, locking the stall door after I hear heels quickly click out the door. I sniffle in the silence. No tears yet. I hear heels approach, and stand. Clothes are draped over the door. “Here. It’s all I have.”
I sniff, grabbing them. “Thank you.” I change, tossing my shirt and shorts, now ruined, in the trash. I look at her. “I’m lucky you came.”
She nervously rings her hands together. “Are you ok?”
I nod briefly. “Thanks.”
“I’ll handle it.”
We stand, me looking at the ground, and her looking at me. I’m dressed in red now, her discarded spare outfit from her locker. I hug myself tightly, uncomfortable. “We should go.”
She nods, holding the door for me. The thin sweater is a nice comfort, smelling like her. She follows me closely, helping me pick up my things from the hallway. She won’t touch me, which I’m grateful for, but not. The number one thing I hate is that she has pity in her eyes. We make our way to the football field, hearing the cheerleaders chanting in the distance. I follow her, anxiously keeping an eye around us. We sit towards the middle of the stands, Heather waving happily at us from atop her pyramid. Of course. She’s a flyer. Small, in charge, the star of the show.
We sit. I clutch my book. She keeps looking at me. She won’t say anything. I can’t stand the silence. I cough, then gesture to the book. “Have you ever read Emily Dickens? Or Byron? Or Yeats?”
She perks at my conversation but gives me weird looks at all three. “Who?”
“They’re English poets. They’re my favorite.”
She shakes her head, scoffing. “No. I don’t read.”
I nod. “I should have guessed.”
“Hey!”
“I’m kidding.”
Her face settles again to pity as silence returns. It makes my stomach churn. “You could read me some.”
I feel a little excited. “Now this, Heather Chandler, is romantic.”
I read to her, many of my favorite poems. I don’t think she’s listening, but her eyes are stuck on mine whenever I glance up, causing me to blush a little, swelling with pride to have her so focused on me. It starts to make me feel better, reading through the poems that have kept me sane all these years. The book is well-worn, with plenty of notes in the margin. I read probably half the book by the time Heather approaches.
“Hi! What are you guys doing?” she beams.
“I was reading some poetry to Heather.”
I shield my eyes from the sun to look at the mini sun right in front of me. She looks so cute and peppy in her outfit. “That’s so cute! I never can understand poetry.”
“I’m sure you can.”
“Try me.” I read four lines from Yeats. “Nope!”
I laugh. “Are you ready for the game?”
“Yep! We’ll do some cheers for the crowd here soon.”
“How many people are going to be here?”
“Not too many. We never win, so no one shows up. I thought Veronica was coming.”
Heather rolls her eyes. “She’s probably banging J.D. right now. Oh well.”
Heather pouts. “I wanted her to see the new routine.”
“I can record it,” I offer. I earn a smile in return.
Heather gives us a sneaky look. “Are you guys dating?”
I blush and drop my head. Heather can handle this. “What if we are?” A challenge.
Heather now is blushing too. “Nothing! I was just wondering. You’re always together now and—”
“Sometimes, it’s good for an omega and an alpha to be together.” She glances at me. “And, if you must know, we’re mates.” Heather’s face lights up. “But if you say a word to Duke, I’ll kill you.”
“I promise! I won’t tell!” She squeals happily. “That is so adorable! I’m so happy for you. Now it makes sense why you were reading her poetry.”
Heather rolls her eyes and stands. “I’m going to get a diet Coke.” She clicks off, leaving me with Heather.
She sits down next to me. “You don’t look so happy.”
I shrug, pushing the afternoon to the back of my mind. “It’s not that big of a deal. I’m just…straight. And Heather and I don’t see eye to eye. I have a feeling our relationship will be very strained.”
She gives me a knowing look. “Heather and I have a hard time too. She doesn’t really treat me like her mate.”
I nod. “I’m sorry.”
She brightens again. “It’s ok! Just know that Heather has to be harsh sometimes, being an alpha and all. But she’s a good person, deep inside.”
I glance at Heather walking back up the bleachers at us. “Yeah, too deep sometimes. You’d better go.”
She stands, waving goodbye at us as she joins her cheer mates. Heather drops a regular Coke for me. I smile my thanks and take a drink. “Are you really ok?” The pity party is back.
I look up at her, sighing. I reach for her hand, hoping to ground myself. “Yeah. It was just a shock to my system.”
“I’m sorry. If I hadn’t left you alone—”
I hold up my hand. “It’s not your fault. Thank you for saving me.”
She nods, placing a gentle kiss on my temple. I blush. She smiles. “I love how cute you are.”
“I’m not cute!” I huff.
She rolls her eyes. “You blush at everything.”
“I do not! I’m…hot.”
She raises an eyebrow, and my heart skips a beat. “Hot? It’s 60 degrees out here.”
I look around at all the people working their way into the stands. “There’s a lot of people around.”
She rests her chin on her palm, examining me. “They’re making you…hot?”
I nod. “No, wait. Not hot, as in…I mean hot as in temperature.”
She nods, “Mhm. Sure.” Her eyes are amused, and I wonder if she’ll try anything. “I promised I wouldn’t do anything in public. Yet.”
I blush harder. “You wouldn’t try anything tonight.”
“Want to bet?”
“What about the others?”
“Veronica snores like a bear, and Duke will want some after getting denied by the new guy anyway.”
My eyes widen. “You want…to…in the same room…as Heather and Heather?”
She smirks, her hand dangerously close to brushing the skin on my leg. “You won’t remember them once we kiss. So what’s the big deal?” Her voice is mockingly sweet.
“There are boundaries!”
“We’ll see when we get there,” she winks.
I take a drink of my coke, using it as an excuse to end the banter. She’s running laps around me. I turn to see the cheerleaders getting ready for some cheers. Nobody chants along, but I politely clap for them. The team comes out, the crowd only cheering really for the star players. We’re playing a team from a long ways away, a team that can easily kick our butt. Heather pulls out her phone, scrolling through social media. I love watching sports. I’m super excited for the first game of the season. I make comments about the game as it goes, filling the silence that I hate, and Heather gives me a weird look.
“You understand this?”
“Yeah!”
She scrunches her nose. “It’s so gross. Why?”
I shrug. “It’s fun to watch. I enjoy watching people run into each other.” There was a call on the field that wasn’t good for us. I yelled along with everyone else. I nudge Heather. “At least try to enjoy yourself.”
As the game went on, and the sun set, I shifted closer to her due to lack of heat. It got chilly when the sun set, and her thin sweater did little to help me. Her hand also quickly found its way to my knee, then my thigh, then the edge of the shorts she lent me. I hardly noticed, too enraptured in the game. Veronica never showed, so Heather and I enjoyed the game on our own.
At the end, Heather came up from the field. She looked pointedly at Heather’s hand on my thigh. I look down, shocked, and take her hand off me. Heather smirked. Heather McNamara told us she just had to grab some stuff from her locker, then she would be ready to go. I shiver, ready to get somewhere warmer. I stand, making my way down the stands. We meet Heather by the doors, then walk to Heather’s car. We get to Heather’s house, Duke’s Jeep already there.
Heather walks into the kitchen, grabs some alcohol and corn nuts from their pantry and leads the way upstairs. Duke is already in her room with Veronica, on their phones. “Did you suck some dick?” Heather asks.
Heather Duke gives her a glare and then a pout. “No. He didn’t want it.”
“Was he nice?” Heather McNamara asks, as Chandler snaps, “What, is he gay?”
“I don’t care if he’s nice. I care that he’s hot. And no. He has to be straight.”
Chandler gets a bunch of pillows onto the floor, taking a swig of the bottle. “Are you going to keep trying?”
“She better. We have a bet,” Veronica chimes in, grabbing the bottle from Heather.
Duke turns her dark eyes to me. “And why were you talking to him?”
I shrug. “We’re friends.”
“Oh please. You want him.”
“We were talking about soccer, thank you very much. And it’s common for new kids to be friends.”
“He’s mine.”
“Yeah. Sure, he is.”
She sticks out her tongue at me, taking a drink of the bottle. Heather McNamara pipes up. “Besides, she’s taken.”
I burry my face in a pillow. Thanks, Heather. Duke slaps my arm. “Yeah, we could all figure out you and Chandler are boning. Who’s your mate, though?”
I shrug, my answer muffled. “None of your business.”
“God you sound like Heather.” There’s a moment of silence. “Oh my God. You and Heather.” My head shakes again. “Oh my God.” I peek out. Chandler is glaring at her, Duke grinning at me, McNamara scared of Chandler, and Veronica enjoying the show. “I knew it. I should have guessed by the smell. You’re mates.”
“Are you jealous?” Chandler sneered.
“You wish,” she snapped back. “How very.”
I bury my face again, entirely embarrassed. “How’s J.D.?” I ask, hoping it’ll change the focus from me to her.
“He was good. We watched a movie.”
“Yeah, sure you did,” Chandler mumbled. She offers me the bottle, but I refuse. “It would have been nice for Gemma to have someone to rant about the game to.”
“Sorry. I lost track of time.”
“Whatever. Let’s do a drinking game.”
“I hate your drinking games,” Veronica moans.
“I don’t care. Let’s play Never Have I Ever.”
I pop up. “I have a better idea.” She gives me a tiny glare. “Do you have a deck of cards? And we each need a drink, and a can of beer if possible.” She disappears downstairs. She returns with cards and glasses. “Ok.” I shuffle the cards. I set the stack in the middle, the beer can in the center of our circle. “Here are the rules. Each card has a action associated with it. For example,” I draw a 5. “5’s are for guys. All the guys have to drink. Since there are no guys, we get a free round. 2 means you pick someone to drink, 3 is just for me so you drink by yourself, 4 you touch the floor and the last person drinks, 5 for guys, 6 for chicks, 7 point to Heaven, 8 pick a mate and you both drink, 9 is bust a rhyme, 10 is for tiny men, Jack is never have I ever, queen is questions, king is reset, and ace is waterfall. I can explain as we go too.” They all looked at me expectantly. “I drew already, so Heather, your turn.”
Chandler sighs and draws an ace. “What is this again?”
“So you start drinking, and you can stop whenever you want. Veronica has to start drinking right after you and can only stop after you do, and it goes around like that. If anyone breaks it, they finish their drink.”
Chandler grins, slowly drinking her glass. It’s hard liquor, so I know this is a bad idea for me. She drinks for a long time. I cough mine out. I’ll have to finish my glass. Once finished, it’s Veronica’s turn.
We play like this, flying through the alcohol. I drew a 10, so I got to create a rule for someone. I told Heather Duke she has to burp after anyone says the word Heather. She fails several times, forcing her to drink even more. We are well wasted around 1 in the morning.
“This is a great game.” McNamara giggles as she downs her drink.
“I told you.”
Veronica puts her card under the tab of the beer, and it pops. “You have to chug it, Veronica.”
She groans, grabbing it. She tries chugging but fails. We soon are slipping into sleep. Veronica passes out, indeed snoring like a bear. Duke, indeed, wants some after being denied by Lucas. She’s soon all over Heather, who is excitedly reciprocating. Heather sees my discomfort, stands, and leads me down the hall.

Chapter Text

In another room, she closes the door lightly, taking my hand. Incredibly wasted, at least for me, and having never been this inebriated, my decision-making was not the best. I pull her in, landing a hot, sloppy, drunk kiss on her lips. She moans lightly, leading me back to the wall. Her height makes it perfect for her to trap me, her knee to my core. She easily takes back control of the kiss, her tongue expertly working around my mouth. She earns a pleased groan from me. It’s amazing. This will never get old, the high from kissing her. I bite her lip, my tongue fighting for dominance.
“Are you sure?” she asks breathlessly.
“Never been more sure in my life.”
Her hands easily run over my body, perfectly catching every curve of my body. My hand wrap around her neck, holding her to me. I suddenly feel hot and the need to strip. As if listening, she starts working me out of the clothes she lent me. I feel embarrassed, exposed. We break for my shirt to come off, and I immediately start working on her jacket and blouse. I have a hard time, between the alcohol and my inexperience.
“Need help?” she purrs into me. My hands abandon their quest, digging into her hair as she does it for me. She tosses the blouse and jacket down, her red lace bra standing true. My brain snaps to, realizing I’ve never been with a girl, or anyone for that matter. I break, panting. My hands hover awkwardly, eyes looking everywhere but her, face flushed. “What’s wrong?” she mutters, her mouth on my cheek.
“I…I don’t know what to do,” I slur.
“I’ll lead,” she kisses my ear, then nibbles on it. I shudder, my hands wrapping around her bare midsection to her lower back, yanking her towards me. Her mouth travels over my neck, stalling to work my pulse point. She lays a harsh bite on my shoulder, and my nails dig into her.
My shorts fall, hers following closely behind. Wrapping her hand in my hair, she gives it a harsh yank. My eyes snap open into hers. They’re gorgeous grey orbs burning into me. She presses her lips to my cheek, smiling into it. Her free hand slips into my underwear, working around the area. I gasp, unfamiliar with the sensation.
“Going slow, huh?” I breathe into her neck.
She licks my cheek slightly. “Do you want me to stop?”
I dig my nails into her shoulders. “Hell, no.”
She nibbles on my cheekbone, and my head fully drops to her shoulder. “Mm. So sensitive.”
I’m panting already, and her finger is hardly moving. “Shut up.” I start panicking, not sure I want to go through with this. “Ok, wait.” She doesn’t immediately move, so I shove lightly against her. “Please, I can’t.”
Jerking back, she pulls away, not touching me at all. “What? What’s wrong?”
Now that we’ve separated, and I’m dropping from the high, it hurts, both from the activity and the voices. My hands bury into my hair, my breathing incredibly uneven. I feel exhausted. “I can’t,” I repeat.
Her hands hover, unsure where to go. “Ok, I’m—Ok, I get it.” She quickly grabs my clothes. “H—Here.”
Getting dressed, I can’t look in her eye. “Thanks,” I mumble. “I can’t…I—”
“It’s ok!” I still won’t look in her eyes. “Did I…hurt you? Did—”
“No, I just can’t.”
She looks like she wants to grab me, but instead she gestures for me to follow her to the bed. She pulls on her own clothes, gaze unsure but resting on me. “Can I do anything?”
I squeak out a weird sound, unsure how to answer.
“Uh, this is my fault—”
“I just can’t, Heather.” I settle gently next to her but refusing to touch her. “It’s not your fault, I’m just not ready.”
“Ok.” She nods, straightening, resolute. “I can do this. I’m just not used to this.” I still haven’t had the courage to look her in the eye. I watch her hand shake slightly as it rises towards my chin. Ever so slightly, she applies some pressure to lift my chin up. “Tell me what you need.”
“I…uh…” I swallow thickly, glancing up at her. Clearing my throat, I start scooting towards the pillows. I feel my face flush as I settle on my back. “Join me?” I whisper.
Crawling beside me on her back as well. “Nervous to ask?”
“A little.”
Each of us are staring at the ceiling. “Why?”
“Is that genuine curiosity in your voice?”
“Yes.”
I chew my lip, debating my words. “I feel life…” drawing slowly, “I don’t deserve what I’m asking for.”
She stalls for a moment. “What?”
I roll away, hiding my incredibly red face. “Never mind, it doesn’t matter. It’s stupid.”
“No, say it again.”
“Why? It’s so self-deprecating. I shouldn’t have—”
“Because it’s not true.” I feel the bed shift, her scent shifting towards a sweeter, more calming scent. Her hand appears on my shoulder and I gently pull away from it. “Listen to me, I mean it.”
“Please, Heather, I don’t—”
Her hand plants firmly on my shoulder, pulling me onto my back to look at her again. Her face is stern, focused, and dare I say caring? “I’m dead serious, you deserve…whatever you want!”
I scoff. “That’s so cheesy!”
“What will it take for you to believe me?”
“It would take me not being an omega and a lifetime of reconditioning.”
Her tongue darts out to wet her lips before saying, “That hurts me.”
“Remarkable, this is about you.”
“You know what I am trying to say.”
I roll onto my side once more, away from her again. “Please, just…let it be.”
Sighing, she shifts a little closer again. “I can’t,” she whispers. Her hand is tracing up and down my arm gently.
“Look, I’m really tired. Can we just…not do this right now?”
Her hand slips over my cloth-covered waist to press solidly into my stomach. Taking a deep sigh, she shifts closer, more, her breath tickling my ear. “Sure,” she eventually says. “If you want.” As a thank you, I press gently backwards, my scent swirling around me in a cocoon of protection. “But I’m not letting this go.”
“Fine.”
“We will talk about this.”
“Fine.” Her scent doesn’t change; she is clearly not ready for sleep. “Heather, please.”
“I thought you said you wanted to sleep.”
“I do. I can’t.”
It’s almost imperceptible, but her arm tightens. “Why is that?”
“Your scent is messing with me.” I feel her chest rumble as she chuckles. “I’m serious. Do you know how much it affects me?”
“That’s funny. Yours affects me like no other.” Her cheek comes to rest on my shoulder, and I shiver at how cool it feels. “I’m not supposed to let you know that.”
My eyes are closed, her scent slowly stilling. “It’s fine, common knowledge.” I’m afraid she’s upset. Her face, however, when I roll over to glance at her, is calm. She’s serene. She kisses me, quieting the voices. Pulling me close she kisses my forehead. Her scent washes over me, lulling me to sleep, finally.
“Get some sleep.”
We wake up around the same time. I open my eyes into her dull grey ones. I sigh, the morning sun shining into the room. It’s some guest room, the bed hardly used. My hand lightly slides onto her cheek. I run my thumb over her cheekbone. Our bodies are pressed together, and I realize what happened last night, coming to hit me along with the hangover. I swallow, debating if I want to talk about it or not.
“You’re beautiful,” I whisper.
She smiles slightly. “Thank you.” It’s a thank you that sounds like she really needed to hear that.
“I mean it. When I look at you, like this—hair down, freckles, no makeup—it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. I could look at you every day.”
She rolls her eyes, but she’s glowing. “What a sap.” I lightly slap her arm. Her own hand comes up to brush my chin. “I could look at you every day. You are beautiful as well,” she whispers.
“I’ve never been called that.”
“Really?”
I shrug, winking. “I’m too intimidating for guys to want to date.”
She frowns. “You have the most gorgeous eyes.”
“Now look who’s a sap.”
“I’m serious. From the moment we first made eye contact, I couldn’t get your eyes out of my head. They’re so innocent and pure. You’ve never seen the horrors of life.”
I furrow my brow, scooting just a tad bit closer. “What do you mean?”
Her face clouds as she looks away from me. “Nothing. Just…living in a family like this has risks.” When I go to question her, she gives me a quick kiss. “Let me go back to fawning over you.”
I blush at her grin. I lean forward, pressing kisses into random freckles. “I love your freckles.”
“Why? I think they’re gross.”
I trace them all over her face. “I’m not sure. It makes you more…human.”
She gives me a weird look. “Are you ok?”
I nod. “I’m just adjusting to seeing the different sides of you.”
She sighs slightly. “I’m still adjusting myself. I don’t show people this side of me.”
“Well, aren’t I blessed.”
“We still have time. We don’t have to do anything all day.”
I smile, her hand working around my hair. “You sound like a teenage boy.”
“Just wait until either of us are in heat.”
“Speaking of which…”
She sighs heavily. “When?”
“Tuesday probably.”
“I’ll scent you, and hopefully people will leave you alone.”
“What about you?” I purr, my lips a brush away from a kiss.
She groans slightly, adjusting a little into our proximity. “I’ll manage. Maybe.”
I bite my lip. “You’ll have to work extra hard.”
She grins. “I can do that.” She closes the tiny gap between, exploding my world into cherries and roses. There’s a knock on the door, and Heather breaks to say, “Go away.” The knocking continues. “Oh my God!” She grunts, and we cover ourselves. I keep pawing at her, kissing her, not wanting to deal with the voices, especially the angry one outside. Heather sits up slightly, and I wrap my arms around her from the back, kissing her back. “What do you want?”
The door swings open, Duke standing in her pajamas. She gives us an annoyed look, then says breathlessly, “Someone’s trying to take your territory.”
I feel Heather tense under me. “Who?”
“I don’t know. But your parents said we need to go soon.”
Heather nods. “Ok, we’ll be down soon.” Once the door is closed, Heather collapses back into me, sighing. “Fuck…”
I rub her shoulders. “It’ll be fine.”
Her eyes close. “I don’t want to fight again. I can’t stand seeing you all hurt.”
I kissed her cheek, backing up to stand. “We’ll be fine. As long as you’re ok, we will heal.”
She turns to me. “But what if we…what if we aren’t fine?”
I think I see serious fear behind her eyes. I gently rub my fingers along her cheek. “Listen to me. Your mother can handle plenty of wolves. We can stick together, defend each other. I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise.”
“That’s opposite of how it’s meant to be. I’m supposed to protect you.”
“And you do. But it’s time for me to save you for once.” She offers a weak smile, but there’s nothing behind it. I kiss her forehead. “Now put on a brave face, and let’s go kick some ass.”
We dress and walk down the stairs. Some people I’ve never seen are in the living room. They’re arguing slightly, and we hover behind them as kids. Finally, Mrs. Chandler speaks up. “I just want to have a conversation with them. If they refuse to be civil, that’s on them.”
“Come on,” some man says. “They’re trespassing. They’ve already gone after your daughter. They won’t stop. We have to kill them.”
“Are you forgetting killing our own kind is illegal?” A woman asks.
“You all know the signal. If things get out of hand, we’ll let you know.”
“We need to attack first.”
“And risk the blame falling on us? No. We will only defend ourselves.” Mrs. Chandler looks back at us. “Let’s go.” We walk to the car, and she turns to me. “You’re staying here.”
Against my wolf and own better judgement, I argue, standing tall. “What? No. I’m not.”
She stares down at me, her dominance evident. “I don’t want to risk you catching the scent and attacking one of us.”
I stand tall. “I’ll be fine. I’m not leaving my pack to fight without me. They’ll be weaker. It’s dangerous for them for me not to be there.”
“And it’s dangerous for them for you to be there.”
I cross my arms over my chest. “I’m going.”
“You’re staying here. That’s final.”
“That’s funny that you think I’ll sit on my butt here and feel my pack getting torn apart. If you leave me here, I’ll just follow your scent and catch up. I’m going.” We stare at each other. I lean forward, quietly saying, “I’ve defended your daughter before. You know I’d die for her. I’ll do it again.”
Her face softens, and she sighs. “Fine. But if you hurt any of our own, that’s on you.”
I climb in, settling into the SUV. Mr. Chandler drives first out of the drive, and a car follows. I close my eyes and keep my mind focused on the quietest voice in my head, the one singing along to a random song. It’s soothing, calming. It feels like home. It’s not the deep, reassuring voice next to me. That one is trying over and over to sound confident. When I open my eyes, I see us approaching a field I’ve yet to see. It’s got tall grass, perfect for wolves to hide in. There are a few humans standing around, but I smell many more. One of them smokes casually.
We all get out of the car, and I keep my mind focused on the voice. I don’t know whose voice it is, it’s too much of a whisper to find the character, but it’s odd. Which one of them is humming along happily as we walk into a possible fight? You know, I shouldn’t question it. It’s McNamara. I look over at her, clutched tightly to Heather Duke’s hand, and I wonder what goes on in her mind on a good day. I grab Heather Chandler’s elbow, standing tall next to her. Without her heels, she has little height over me.
“I promise,” I whisper in her ear. Her face is stone, but I feel her arm relax a little under me. Good. I’m ready to rip some throats out.
“This is our land,” Mrs. Chandler calls to those standing in the field.
The guy smoking laughs. “It was ours before you stole it from us.”
“I’m sure we can come to a settlement.”
He smiles as he slowly blows out his smoke. “A settlement?” He laughs. “Our offer is we take this land. You stay alive.”
Mrs. Chandler shakes her head. “Our offer is we keep our land, and you stay alive.” I see Mr. Chandler send a text from behind his wife.
“It seems we are at an impasse.”
“If you want to buy the land—”
“I will not pay for what is rightfully mine!” His voice raises into alpha levels. I fully tense, my nails digging into Heather’s arm. “We will take it. The amount of blood shed is up to you.”
“I’m obligated to tell you that if you attack us, you are breaking the Code. The entire town has the right to defend themselves.”
“And I’m obligated to tell you that you will die if you don’t leave.”
There’s a brief moment of silence. A standoff. Suddenly, a wolf from hiding springs forward. I smell it coming. I shove Heather behind me, take a running step, jump, shift while in mid-air, and collide with the wolf before it gets very far. I tear into every part of it, but the neck. I look up at Mrs. Chandler. She gives me a nod. I clamp down hard on its neck, snapping it. I rip it out, blood flying everywhere. I toss it, landing somewhere in front of Veronica. I snarl, standing wide and tall in front of Heather Chandler specifically, but also covering some of the other pack members.
“How dare you kill on our lands!” He breathes angrily. He won’t shift though. He’s the cigarette holder. “You will pay for that, omega!” I bark in response, keeping watch for anything else. “You want a war, I’ll give you a war.”
“You’re the one pushing for a fight. We defended ourselves appropriately.” A collective howl sounds. They’re preparing to fight. Wolves appear, several of them. They stand snarling, ready to pounce. I back up a tad. I find that the girls are shift already. Good. Once they are next to me, I feel incredible. Chandler howls, and once we are prepared, Mrs. Chandler speaks again. “I’m giving you one more chance. We can settle this without bloodshed. No one else has to die.”
“Yes. People must die. Fortunately, those people will be you.” He lets out a large puff of smoke, and I momentarily forget what I’m doing. I forget who my alpha is. I shake my head lightly. Whose side am I on? I snap out of it when Chandler lays a harsh bite on me. Yes. Cherries. Cherries are good. Heather is good. It is quiet again. No one wants to move first.
Then, Hell breaks loose. Wolves spring from the grass, clashing with us. Mr. Chandler stands back, but Mrs. Chandler and the other SUV all shift and fight. Heather, Heather, Heather, Veronica, and I stick as a group. We follow Chandler, Veronica and Duke fighting together, Heather McNamara and I fighting together. These are too tough for any one of us to fight on our own, besides Chandler. Mrs. Chandler is flying through them, easily tearing them apart. I can’t keep track of the wolves I don’t know. Here and there, the smoke gets to me, stalling me, but I remember when I hear the voices in my head. When I look at Chandler, I see one attached to her side. It’s like I let open a box of rage or something inside of me. I slam into it, momentarily abandoning McNamara. I let this anger fill me, defending Chandler as she gathers herself.
After several deaths, the man smoking calls a halt. All his wolves stop, and I take the chance to lead Heather to the car and clean her wounds. Mr. Chandler speaks. “The bloodshed can end now. We don’t want any more violence.”
His face is hidden by the smoke. “You stole our land. We have no territory now because of you.”
Mr. Chandler holds his hands out. “We understand. But bloodshed will prove you no benefit. Leave now and save the members of the pack you do have. Try some other territory. But you will not take this land.”
“But we will.” The wolves start disappearing into the distance. “You’ve started a war. I hope you can deal with the blood on your hands.” He turns and walks away. I start to move towards him, wanting to kill him where he stands. Chandler growls at me, and once I’m sure he’s gone, and we’re safe, I return to her. I obsessively lick her wounds, whining slightly. It’s not deep. She’ll heal in no time. But I made a promise. And I failed.
We have the chance to shift back, but we have no clothes. Instead, we pile into the car, Mr. Chandler driving. Aside from McNamara’s wounded leg and Chandler’s side, there are no other injuries. We are lucky. Chandler, from her spot in front of me, where I sit firmly on the floor, shoos me away. But I keep pawing at her, licking her, whining, etc. I’m worried. Back at the house, the three of us not injured shift back. Veronica and Duke help Heather with her leg, lulling her to sleep in their laps. I bandage Heather’s side, petting her softly. She sighs, her head resting in my lap gently. We sit in the living room, listening to the adults talk about politics and safety. I gently pet her, my chest tight. I try to listen for her thoughts, but I get nothing. Instead, I sing to myself, ignoring everyone else but her.
It takes no time at all for her to heal. It must be nice. Walking to her room, she shifts and showers. We wait patiently, unsure what to do otherwise. She walks out in a shiny red silk robe, ruffling her hair and sighing deeply. Her face is stone, and I start to worry more about her as she rubs some moisturizer in. She glances at her clock.
“Bout time for the party,” she mumbles.
“Do you still want to go?” Veronica ventures.
Chandler scoffs. “Please. We can’t not go.” She shrugs. “Stay here if you want. Risk the social suicide.”
Veronica clenches her jaw and shakes her head. “It’s fine.”
People start pulling out outfits. It can’t take that long to get ready. I dress easily, running my hair out a little. Otherwise, I feel fine. Veronica approved my outfit, so I sit on Chandler’s bed and wait. McNamara starts playing some music, prancing around. It’s cute to watch, seeing her so happy. I glance over at Duke, and I see some happiness in her usually cruel eyes. Perhaps she really does care for Heather. After almost an hour of watching them cover their faces with excessive makeup and burn their hair, we finally make our way to the Jeep. My skinny jeans itch, and I shift uncomfortably.
“You’re drinking tonight,” Heather commands from the front seat.
I snort. “Or, now hear me out, I can be the responsible one, and let you all get wasted for me. I’ll drive back to your house.”
Duke shakes her head. “You are not touching my car.”
“You’d rather risk crashing than let me drive?”
“Uh. Yeah.”
“I’m serious. It’s fine. I don’t like alcohol anyway.”
Heather pokes my side. “Just get the fruity ones! Or Jell-O shots! Those are nice.”
“You’re getting drunk tonight, one way or another.”
I shake my head. “I got drunk last night. I’m too full of alcohol.”
“That was hardly drunk. Wimp. Chicken.”
“Seriously, Heather? You think I’m going to get wasted just because you’re making fun of me! Ha! Sure.”

Chapter Text

We pull up to the house. There’s a guy throwing up outside already, a girl leaning against the house waiting for him. She pales when she sees the Jeep roll up, moving clear of us. As we walk into the house, we pass Lance and his buddies. He gives me a glare but nods to Heather and continues. Guess I’m in the clear now. The girls head straight for the keg, dodging most guys on the way. Duke latches onto some football guy but tears herself away to stand with us. Heather takes the one chair in the small area we are in, the throne she surely deserves. We hover. I refuse the cup of beer from Veronica, determined to stay sober. We chat away, guys coming and going, a couple of girls even hitting on Veronica. It reeks in here; a few people open about being in heat. I try to wrap myself in the scents of those close to me, but I quickly get a headache.
Heather’s slim wrist shoves a small shot glass in my hand. I meet her gaze. “No, thanks.”
“It’ll taste good.”
“What’s in it?”
She shrugs. “Jell-O.”
“Well, yes, but—”
“Just drink.”
I glare at it. How bad can one shot be? I take it, tasting it slightly. It’s literally Jell-O in a shot glass. It smells like green apple Jolly Ranchers. I don’t taste any alcohol. I tentatively knock the shot back, smiling at the taste. “Not bad.” I set it down. That was nice. It wasn’t like the shot last week. Duke is gone, grinding on a guy. Veronica is absorbed in her phone, probably talking to J.D. McNamara dances by herself next to us, singing along. She sips from her cup, eyes closed. I lock eyes with Chandler, blushing slightly. I mess with my hair, unsure what to do.
I realize how stupid this is. I’m out of my element, and already a little bit of alcohol has entered my system. This is their territory. They know the ins and outs of this, they know how to handle their alcohol, they know how to work this ecosystem.
As I gaze back into Chandler’s eyes, I see just how trapped I really am. There’s a deep sense of hunger, want, lust. As the party rages around me, I’m a doe. A doe that willing walked into a lion’s den with four lions. I’m about to get eaten alive.
“Do you like it?” She finally asks, eyes calculating my every move.
I shrug. “It would be better if it had a better flavor!” I have to shout, even lean in a little.
She nods, standing. She returns with a red one. I sniff it. Ah. Of course. Cherries.
“Thanks, but I’ve already had one.”
“Come on. One more. At least try for the flavor.”
I really want to say no, but with her smiling down at me, it’s hard to resist. Besides, I hardly tasted the alcohol the first time. There can’t be that much in it, right? I take the shot, letting out a pleased shout. “That’s so good!” She nods, grinning. Another appears before me. Again, I just about refuse, but the flavor is so good! I take it, grinning. Both Veronica and Heather have disappeared, leaving me and Heather alone.
A guy approaches, obviously hitting on Chandler. “Hey, baby…” he slurs, off his face. “What do you say—”
“Fuck off.” She meets his gaze, cold, but he still hovers.
“We’ve done it before.”
“Yeah, and it was horrendous. Fuck. Off.” He finally sighs heavily and stumbles off, spilling beer along the way. She looks at me. “It wasn’t that bad, actually.”
I set my shot glass down. How many shots has that been? “Then why did you say no?” My words come out slurred slightly. That’s weird. I haven’t been drinking much alcohol.
She smiles softly. “I told you I would.” She leaves and brings back an actual drink. I shake my head. “It’s ok! There isn’t much alcohol in it. It’s mainly for taste. Heather loves them!”
I shake my head as she shoves it in my hand. It smells really good, like a mix of berries. I taste it. Again, there’s no obvious taste of alcohol, at least, none that I can pick out. I close my eyes and drink. I hear plenty of voices in my head, and mixed with the overbearing scents, my head hurts. The drink numbs the pain a bit, the scent of the drink momentarily all I can smell. It doesn’t take me long to finish the drink. Heather watches me intently over the brim of her own drink, quiet. When I speak, it’s mostly nonsense. I try to say, “Why are you so quiet?” but I get really only one word out. She cocks an eyebrow at me. It’s sexy. I lean forward. “I like your face,” I smirk. I can feel myself slipping further into drunkenness. How did this happen? I stare at her face, mostly raking over where her freckles should be.
She chuckles a little, eyes squinting lightly, her predatory intent clear. “I wonder what kind of drunk you’ll be.”
I shake my head, causing me to fill dizzy for a second. “I’m not drunk. I hardly had any alcohol.” She grins, eyes drifting downwards. I snap my fingers. “Hey! My eyes are up here!” She doesn’t bring her eyes up. I lean on the wall for support. My face is flushed.
“Do you want another drink?”
“Hell yeah!”
It appears soon in my hands. It’s different, but still a fruit flavor. I can taste the alcohol lightly. I drink it anyway. Soon, a song comes on that I like. I sing along loudly, happily. “Are you sure you aren’t drunk?”
I look up at her. I know by now I’m drunk. The early drinks must have had more alcohol in them than expected. I nod anyway, bursting into the chorus of the song. My cup is full again, and I gratefully drink it down. She laughs. “What?” I ask.
She smiles but shrugs. “Nothing.”
I realize how far away I am from her, so I lean closer, my head against the wall. “How are you not drunk?”
“I can handle my drink a lot better than you.”
I shake my head. “I’ve never been drunk, ok?” Her scent is more intoxicating than anything else. “I’m doing good.”
She laughs, throwing her head back lightly. It’s adorable. “Good? Oh honey…”
She looks so perfect. All the time. Now, with her smiling happily down at me, my heart swells. I realize she could say anything to me right now and I’d take it as a compliment and gush over it. I swallow as I gaze into her bright eyes, noticing a slight blue tinge in them. The world melts away, and I consider kissing her. I forget the party, the music, the drink in my hand. She is all that matters.
She brushes some hair behind my ear. I close my eyes, curling into her hand. Fire tickles my skin, but I’ve never been more relaxed in such a situation. “I have a feeling you’re a horny drunk.”
I shake my head. “If it’s anything like sleeping pills, I’m polite.”
Her face falls, her gaze intensifying. She plays with a strand of my hair. “I shouldn’t…”
I hardly hear her. I smile sleepily and ask, “What?”
“I should wait until you’re not wasted.”
“That didn’t stop you last night.”
Her face darkens, her eye twitches briefly. “You weren’t that wasted last night. You hardly drank.”
“I sure felt drunk.”
“Trust me. You were sober enough.”
“Then I’m sober enough now.”
She smiles slightly. “Touch your nose.” I reach out and lightly touch her nose. She giggles, and I relish the sound. “No, idiot. Your own nose.” I turn my finger and, very intently, bring my finger to my nose.
“See? Not…drunk.” I let out a large yawn. I realize I still have something in my cup. I take a nice drink, no longer really tasting it. “Besides, what’s it matter to you if I’m drunk or not?”
Her face is full stone now, no hint of amusement. “You think I would take advantage of you like that?”
Realizing what I said, I stutter out, “No. I mean, when—”
She shakes her head. “Just can it.” I reach for her hand, but she jerks away. She angrily drinks her beer, looking around the room. “You really think that lowly of me?”
She won’t let it drop, but she won’t listen to me either. “Look. I’m not speaking properly.”
“No, but I get what you meant.”
“You didn’t—”
“Really? What did you mean, then?”
I try to focus on her, but I’m quickly losing my faculties. “I meant…that…its like…gone. When we kiss. Anyway.”
She narrows her eyes as I struggle to speak. “Uh huh.” She takes another long drink.
I grab for her hand again, missing, and end up clutching her jacket. “I’m sorry. I’ve been rude.” Her face is solid, but I think I feel her perk a little. I bring my other hand to grab her wrist. “I think that…” I sniff a little, “I think that you deserve someone better than me.” Again, nothing. It’s taking all my energy to form any thoughts. “You deserve someone who listens.” Her face doesn’t change, but she doesn’t pull away either. “I will never listen.” Her hand twitches in mine. I’m getting somewhere. I rest my head next to her shoulder, basking in her scent. “I’m…a piece of shit.” I take a drink and step back. “I need some air.” I stumble away, tossing my cup as I go. I get out into the front yard, welcomed by the smell of the night air and vomit.
I lean against the house, eyes closed, letting the fresh air calm and sober me a bit. I feel my cheeks are wet. I must have cried when talking to her. I do that when I’m not in my right mind. I keep an eye out for any new scents but allow myself to let my mind drift. It’s entirely too open, and I hear the thoughts of sex through three different routes, and I feel a bit disgusted for listening. I don’t pay attention, daydreaming. I debate just walking home, but if I show up drunk, I’m dead. I have to wait for the girls or walk to Heather’s house, and that would be stupid with her mom. I’ll just wait patiently.
I hear footsteps and smell a bonfire. I crack my eyes open, catching sight of Lucas. I grin, allowing my nerves to disappear from the alcohol. “Hello,” I slur.
“Are you ok?”
I nod. “I’ve never had Jell-O shots before.”
“Ah. Those get to you.” He remains a respectable distance away from me, hands shoved in his pockets. “Look, I wanted to talk to you.”
I laugh. “I won’t remember.”
He nods. “I know.” He steps closer. “I really, really like you. And I don’t want to let a chance with you slip away.”
I stare up into his gorgeous eyes. “I…agree. That you are great. But…I promised…” I trail off, trying to remind myself that Heather denied someone, I should too.
He rubs his neck. “I know. Maybe I can talk to him.”
I shake my head. “Nope! I’ve tried.”
His eyes dull. “Please.”
Just as I am about to argue, he closes the space between us, locking our lips together. I let out a muffled squeak, utterly surprised. One hand goes to his shoulder, the other his abdomen. I weakly try to push him back, but he’s got me tight. My eyes shut, and I fight myself. Part of me wants him. Wants him bad. But the other part of me knows that Heather will kill me. Not only that, but our wolves inside are growling at each other. It’ll hurt to do it much longer, at least for me. He pushes harder when I don’t reciprocate. It’s a little too hard. My brain rushes through thoughts of wanting him but not. Oddly enough, it’s knowing Duke will be very angry, and possibly a little heart broken, if she finds out, that gets me to open my eyes. I jerk my head to the side and shove him back.
“Lucas…” I breathe.
“I—I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…” He mutters to himself, then walks away, head hung low. I slide down to the ground.
I rub my face. It’s ok. No one has to know. Heather won’t find out. It’ll be fine. Besides, I didn’t really kiss him back. I feel like vomiting but hold it down. He’s cute, for sure. In a regular world without all of this, I would date him in an instant. I would go golfing with him, read poetry together, drink tea and watch soccer. But this isn’t a regular world. I’m not meant to be with him, at least not forever. I start crying a little, sniffling. Why? Why did I have to be made like this? I would be totally fine without this stupid…curse. My life would be so much simpler. I sit for a while, grateful for the peace, forcing the voices to take a backseat to my own panicked thoughts. I know I should keep them quiet, but I have no control right now. I debate just leaving, walking somewhere, running somewhere, to be truly alone. My mind slips further into the rush of thoughts, bouncing from different people, even those from back in England. I hug my knees, tears freely flowing.
I hear footsteps again, and someone sit next to me. I expected it to be Chandler, or McNamara, or even Veronica. Instead, mint fills my nostrils, and I peek over my knees to see Heather sitting primly next to me. Her eyes are on the ground, face solid stone. I almost wouldn’t know she’d been heavily drinking. She chews her cheek for a moment, before saying quietly to her lap, “I heard it.”
I swallow, shifting my head to look back at my knees. I know exactly what she is talking about and question why she isn’t choking me. “I’m sorry. I understand if you want to murder me,” I whisper.
She’s quiet for a moment. “We all did.” Great. She won’t kill me because Heather is going to do it for them both. I feel a hesitant hand find mine, giving it a squeeze. “Thanks,” she says quietly.
I sniffle. “For what? I kissed the guy you like.” When she doesn’t say anything, I speak again. “You should hate me. More than you already do.”
“I don’t hate you.”
I laugh, lifting my head to look at her. “Really? It sure feels like it.”
I meet her dark eyes, her face betraying nothing. “I can’t hate you.”
“Heather, you sound a bit disappointed.”
She narrows her eyes and pauses. She stands suddenly. She turns away, walking back inside. I close my eyes again, kind of missing her scent. Sniffling quietly to myself, I debate how I’m going to take on the other Heather now. She heard it, I know that much. But she has to know I pushed against it, partially. Great. I decide to just sit and wait for a while. What’s the point of getting murdered in front of everyone? It’s nice actually, the night air. My mind is more of a mess than before, thoughts flying in and out faster than I can register them. Even when I try to focus on other people’s thoughts, they blend with my own, and I debate if it really is me thinking of a football boy naked.
Eventually, I start to feel a bit lonely. Odd, since I’m usually ok with being alone. I stand, wondering if I should go inside. I stumble over to the front door and get inside. I don’t think, I just let my legs carry me. I run into a couple of people, but they ignore my low-level self. I get a few weird looks but nothing more. Walking in a daze, I end up standing in front of Heather herself. I stare at the ground, the alcohol sapping my confidence in front of her.
She quietly watches me. The urge to be with someone disappears, as if it wasn’t my own need. I sigh and slide to the floor, too tired to stand. I take a random cup and down the harsh beer, regretting it slightly. Part of me wants to beg for forgiveness, the other part wanting to stand my ground. I gaze up at her.
“Yes?” I ask. I know she pulled me here. I know if I did what I wanted, I would be long gone.
She chews on her cup, arm over her midsection. Her eyes are bright but narrowed. “You tell me.”
“Look, I already apologized. I’m bad with words.”
She cocks an eyebrow, and my heart flutters slightly. “Not that.”
I stand suddenly, tilting a little to the side. “I—I’m sorry. I didn’t…” I just stare at her.
She looks at me, with boredom on her face. “Stop apologizing. It’s getting annoying.” I nod, blankly staring back. “So. Lucas.” Her tone is thick, face dark and showing nothing.
“Mm. Lucas,” I affirm. I’m not going to be the one that leads this conversation.
“How was the kiss?” I can hear her anger, even though I can’t see it or smell it.
Stupidly, “Are you jealous?”
A side-smirk tugs at her lips. “Jealous? Please.” She scoffs. “No. Of course I’m not jealous. I don’t get jealous.”
“I know you were listening,” I slur. “You know I fought against it, to my best ability.”
Her eyes glide down my body then back up. “Sure you did.”
“I…I did. Even though I wanted to kiss him, I pushed him away.”
“Eventually,” she adds.
“Eventually. But I still did.”
She sips delicately from her cup. She tilts her head slightly at me. “You want him, so bad.”
I nod. “Who wouldn’t?” She scrutinizes me, face gaining a tint of anger. “But!” I point my finger at her. “We agreed. To be exclusive.” I smile proudly. “And I will honor that, since you are.”
I think I see a flash of pride or happiness flash across her face, but it disappears quickly. Maybe I’m imagining things. “Hypothetically, if we were to not be exclusive, would you leave me for him?” Her voice is quiet, as quiet as it can be over the music.
My drunken brain is having a hard time understanding things. “I mean. I would date him, yes!” I gaze up at her eyes, gorgeous orbs. “But that’s hypothetical and it would never happen. Besides,” I sigh. “Heather would kill me.” She still is staring at me, her eyes drifting around. She hums her response. I close my eyes, just focusing on her barely-there scent. “How long are we going to be here?”
“Why? Not having fun making out with people?” Her tone is thick.
“No,” I scoff. “I just have a headache.”
She’s quiet for a moment. “I can fix that.”
I sneak a side glance at her. “I know you can. That’s what sucks. You’re angry with me anyway.”
Almost too quietly for me to hear, she says, “I’m not angry.”
It takes me a moment, but I look over at her. “Really? You’re not angry? I feel like you’re leading me into a trap.”
She smiles slightly. “Have some faith in me. Besides, this is boring anyway.” She glances over to the pit of bodies in the middle of the living room, grinding together. “I could ditch Heather and Heather, and we could take her Jeep.”
I laugh. “She’d murder us.”
She smiles a little more now. “That’s fine.”
I sigh. “Let’s just walk. It’s a beautiful night.”
She laughs. “I’m wearing heels.”
I grin. “I can carry you. You can’t be that heavy.”
She rolls her eyes. “You’re wasted.”
“I’ll let you wear my shoes if you want. I’ll go barefoot.”
“You’d do that for me?”
I nod vigorously. “Absolutely.”
She takes a second, then nods. “Alright. Let’s go then.”
I lead the way out of the house, eager to escape again. I skip to the street, slipping off my shoes. It takes a second, but I adjust. She puts on my shoes, letting her pumps hang loosely in her hands. I quickly take them and intertwine our fingers. She tries to pull her hand away, but I shake my head. “Nope! I need something to steady me. I’m wasted remember!”
Her hand is stiff, but I refuse to let her hand go. She walks beside me, slightly allowing me to lead her. I jovially skip along, humming a song. I’m too drunk to really care about her, as long as she’s with me. I don’t really care where I’m walking. She pulls me back suddenly. “You missed our turn.” I turn the right way, continuing our walk. She eventually relaxes a bit, her hand in control of the hold. She leads now. I sigh, leaning a bit too much into her, my free hand swinging at my side. I end up simply humming softly with my head on her shoulder, my previous energy slowly ebbing.
Our scents blend into each other, and I drink hers in. It’s happiness, home, peace. Especially with her so calm, and not being a bitch, I could stay here forever. I sneeze, allergies and all that. In my head, I hear a soft voice, a whisper, oh my God even her sneezes are adorable. I laugh. “You should see my hiccups!”
She raises her eyebrows. “You heard me?”
I nod. “It’s easier to ignore the other’s when they’re having sex.” She chuckles and leads the way into her house. I hold her back before we go inside. “Do you have access to your roof?” She gives me a weird look but a nod. I grin. “Let’s stargaze!”
“What? Why? It’s so cheesy!” She laughs but leads the way anyway.
“I miss the stars,” I whine.
“You can see them all the time here.”
“But I’ve yet to just sit and watch them.”
Climbing to her top floor and slipping through a window, me stumbling too much to get through on my own, we find a mostly level part of the roof. She sighs and eyes the shingles. I quickly plop down. I pat next to me. She shakes her head. “I’m not sitting on that.”
I take off my jacket. “Here.”
I think I hear her laugh, but it might have been just a huff. She eventually sits prissily on the jacket next to me. I lay back, stretching. I smile. “What are you smiling about?”
“This is nice, romantic bullshit and all that.” I gaze up at the stars, relishing in something I hardly saw for ten years. I feel her looking down at me. I glance over at her. “What?”
She’s quiet, contemplating. I can’t hear her thoughts, so I settle to just wait. She reaches over, playing with a strand of hair. “I think we have different versions of romantic.”
I nod. “I get mine from rom-coms and Fabio books.”
She throws her head back in a laugh. I feel proud, actually, having made her laugh so much. It’s disheartening to be with her at school, when she’s so walled-up and restricted. She would have rolled her eyes at that at school. “I get mine from drunk teenage boys.”
I sit up suddenly, our shoulders brushing. “I’m better than them, right?”
Her eyes flash with a bit of amusement. “What? In bed? No, of course not.”
“No. Obviously. I mean, being romantic and stuff.”
Her face softens, more than I’ve seen all day. It makes my stomach do a backflip. “Yes.”
I nod, pleased. “Good. I try to be better than an asshole.” I flop back down. “Lay down!”
I lightly tug on her shoulder. “I’m dead if anyone finds out I’m stargazing.”
I laugh. “That’s why it’s perfect.”
She eventually lays back, settling in next to me. Our shoulders brush, our hair flayed out between us. I find her hand. “Do you know the stars?” I hum my response. She turns her head to full look at me. “Show me.”
“Ok!” I take the hand I’m holding and point out random stars, explaining them. I took an astronomy class in England, and we had to memorize some. After a few stars, I glance over to see her not even watching. She’s locked on me instead. “Hey, you aren’t listening to me.” I pout slightly, dropping our hands to my stomach. “I thought…”
“I’m listening,” she whispers. “Continue.”
“Ok, well…” I go back to pointing out the stars. I fly through them, and realize I missed a few backstories. I don’t know how long I talk for. When I look over again, her eyes are closed, and a small, content smile is on her lips. “Did you fall asleep? God, if I was that boring—”
Her dull eyes snap open into mine. She shakes her head. “No. It’s not boring. I just…” She stops speaking, looking over my face. She shifts suddenly onto her side, resting her head on my shoulder. She breathes a deep sigh. “Keep going,” she asks. It’s not a command.
I swallow, shifting to stay comfortable under her. I keep going, talking now about the historical use of the stars, starting back with the Mayans. Her body slowly gets more and more relaxed next to me, her breathing slow and even. I’m confident she’s asleep, but I keep speaking. I hear my words echo back to me from her thoughts, which is weird, like she’s committing them to memory or something. I eventually come to the end of my knowledge and abruptly stop.
She shifts slightly. “Why’d you stop?”
“I don’t know what else to say.” She sighs deeply. “Are you ok?”
She hums. “Perfect.” I chew on my cheek. I’m not sure what to do now. Instead, I just close my eyes. “Keep talking.”
I chuckle slightly. “I’m not really sure what to talk about.”
She shifts again, her breath warm on my neck. “I don’t care. It could be about football. Just…I need to hear your voice.” Her voice is a whisper, a plea almost. Drunk me hardly notices.
I clear my throat. “Ok. Well…Do you know anything about soccer? No, of course not,” I chuckle. I launch into an extensive explanation of world soccer. I know she isn’t listening, but my words echo back nonetheless. My phone vibrates under my butt.
“Don’t.”
“But what if it’s—”
She lifts her head to look at me. “I don’t care who it is. They’re ruining the moment.”
I sit up. “They’ve ruined it before.” I pull out my phone. “It’s Veronica.” I answer it. I just hear crying, then asking where Heather is. I just shove her the phone and lay back.
“Ronnie? Are you ok? Slow down…What happened? It’s ok. I’ll come get you.” She gives me my phone, standing. “We need to go. Or you can stay here, and I’ll be right back. You know, that’ll be best. I’ll be back. Make yourself at home.” She quickly walks back inside. I huff. I’m too drunk to get inside so easily.

Chapter Text

I slowly make my way inside, now lost inside her mansion. I stumble around, eventually finding her room. I lay on the bed and close my eyes. A nap won’t hurt, right? And it’ll sober me up a bit. I rest easily, the alcohol making my slumber thick and long. I wake up when I hear them enter the room, sniffling and angry breathing quickly filling my ears.
“I should kill him,” Heather growls.
I lift my head to see Heather look slightly ruffled and fuming, and Veronica with an angry red mark across her cheek. I stand quickly, crossing the room to her, stumbling a little. “No, it’s fine.”
“No, it’s not!” Her fists clench and unclench, her words through clenched teeth. “I can’t let him get away with this.”
Veronica reaches for her. “It’s fine! I promise. Let me handle it. I can’t always have you dealing with my problems.”
Heather turns to me. “J.D. hit her.”
I nod. “Death it shall be.”
Heather stands a bit taller, now us two a united front. “See?”
“Just…no! It puts a strain on our relationship.”
“What relationship? He’s abusing you!” Heather turns to walk out the door.
Veronica grabs her arm roughly. “I’m not going to say it again, Heather.”
The two lock eyes, Veronica easily standing over Heather. “I have a duty to protect you.”
“You’ll do more harm than good.” Veronica turns to me. “A little help?”
I start to speak, but Heather cuts me down with her gaze. “She’s on my side. As she should be.”
“This is ridiculous, Heather!”
“Who else is going to handle it?”
“Me!”
“Then why did you call crying?”
There’s a silence. I place a gentle hand on Veronica’s shoulder. “Has he hit you before?” She shakes her head. “Can you just…compromise or something? Maybe it was a one-time thing?”
“That’s not how things like that work. He learns he can do it once, he’ll do it again. I have to stop it. Now.”
I lead Veronica to sit on Heather’s bed. “Why don’t we calm down, fix Veronica up, and then we can make a logical and rational decision?”
Veronica nods. “Yeah, some ice would be nice.”
Heather, now seething at both of us, drags me out of the room with her and down the stairs. “What. The. Hell.”
I start looking through her freezer. “Listen to me, Heather, I—”
“I don’t have to listen to you. I’m in charge, I make the decisions. And you’re drunk, anyway.”
I turn and glare at her, a weak gaze compared to her ice-cold daggers sent my way. “Shut up and listen.” She huffs, but presses her lips together regardless, crossing her arms across her chest. “She’d never let you leave alone knowing you’d go to him. If you’re going to do it, do it without her knowing and preoccupied by someone or something else.” I pull out a bag of peas, not seeing an ice maker. “You also need to think about this before rushing into a situation like that.” She looks me over, silent. I pour a glass of water. “Look. I may be wrong but thinking things through seems to help.”
A small smile tugs her lips, but it disappears. “What are you suggesting, oh wise one?”
I chew my cheek, thinking, but the alcohol not letting anything in. “I don’t know. How do you distract her?”
She finally smiles slightly, leaning in. “Are you saying you’re going to help me beat him up?”
I take the items and start stumbling up to the room. “Of course not. But at some point, if you were to disappear, possibly to pick up Heather or Heather…” I shrug, her quickly following behind. I enter the room, giving her the items. I sit next to her and try to comfort her, but I’m not good at things like this. Heather leans against the wall, watching carefully. I lightly feel her cheek bone, wondering if there’s any real damage. She hisses in response. “Sorry,” I mutter. “At least nothing is broken.” She nods, laying down. She starts mumbling to herself, and I can tell she’s also been drinking. I hold her hand. “What can I do?”
She curls up on her side, fetal position. She lets out a string of hums, then starts pulling me down. “Just come here.” I tense, looking between her and Heather. “Heather is busy and can’t be here for me. Just…lay here and cuddle with me and let me smell you. I need a submissive person right now.” I cringe a little. She needs Heather McNamara more than anyone right now, their chemistry would work best. Not to mention I hate that phrasing. I suppose I can take her place. I lay down next to her, her shifting to rest on me. “Heather?” she says quietly.
“What, Ronnie?”
Her eyes drift to a close. “Promise me you won’t do anything to him.”
I meet Heather’s dark eyes, her face frozen. She doesn’t answer for a moment, then her face softens, and she says quietly, “I promise.” Veronica sighs, her scent weak. I’m stiff under her but hold her regardless. Heather stands around, quietly, thinking. I close my eyes, wondering if I drifted off, what would happen.
I must have, as I snap awake at some point. Veronica’s head is on my stomach, rising and falling with my slow breathing. I stroke her hair, hoping she’ll feel better in the morning. Heather is absent. Her scent is long gone. I check her clock, seeing its about 3 in the morning. I haven’t been asleep long. Knowing I’ll wake her up if I move, I decided to just go back to sleep. I’m in and out, my thoughts hardly my own. I sense when Heather is back in the house, so I wait for her to enter the room. 4 in the morning, Veronica snoring loudly, Heather enters the room with a small sigh.
“Hello,” I whisper. She jumps and starts getting ready to crawl into bed. I raise my eye brows at her, then act like I punched someone. She shakes her head, crawling in on my other side from Veronica. She rests on her stomach, head on her bent arms, gazing at me. There’s still anger in her eyes. I smile at her, brushing the back of my forefinger along her jaw. I feel her shudder as she closes her eyes, sighing deeply. She leans into my touch, to which I am very proud.
She smiles softly. “Get some sleep.”
I nod, shifting slightly, closing my eyes. Now that her scent is back, I get some sound sleep, dreaming of her the entire time. I wake up to Veronica and Heather missing. I hear the shower running, and I turn onto my side, curling up into her fuzzy blanket. I close my eyes, listening to whoever is singing in my head. The door opens, and cherries and roses rush into the room. I smile. “Good morning.”
I listen to her shake out her hair. “You won’t be saying that for long. That hangover will hit soon.”
I sneak a peek at her, seeing her wrapped in a robe and hair dripping slightly. “That’s why I’m not moving. Where is Veronica?”
A heavy sigh. “She left earlier. To go talk to him.”
I bury my face to hide from the sunlight. “What did you do last night?” She doesn’t answer, brushing her hair out. “Heather?”
“What? Nothing. I promised her.”
I smile to myself. “I’m proud of you.”
I can hear the eye roll in her voice. “Like I need praise from you.”
I snap my head up, groaning. “Where is that attitude coming from?”
“Don’t suppose you remember much of last night?”
I think for a second. “I remember Veronica here. But that’s about it.”
Her face falls for a second but snaps back as she rubs moisturizer into her skin. “Hm.”
I sit up, my head filling with lead. “What did I do? Oh my God, how much did I drink?” I collapse back onto the bed. She shrugs, continuing her work in front of her vanity. Cautiously, “Heather?”
Her eyes find mine through the mirror, and I see a tinge of sadness there. “It’s not important.” She tries to shut down, but I can see right through it.
“I can just ask Heather or Heather.”
She lets out a weak, small laugh. “No, you can’t. Not for all of it.”
“Did I do something super romantic or super stupid?”
“Both,” she mutters. “Let’s go get something to eat. I’m starving.” She turns to me, her face cold but her eyes soft. I look back at her, worried. She sighs, rolling her eyes, extending her hand. “Come on.” She offers a small smile. I stand shakily but take her hand. I squeeze it, looking into her eyes. She sighs and starts to walk away. I pull her back, place my hand on her cheek, and set a soft, gentle kiss on her other cheek. She sighs again, but out of contentment this time. Once finished, she leads us down the stairs.
“I’m sorry. For whatever stupid thing I did. There’s a reason I don’t drink.”
She pulls some orange juice out of the fridge. “It wasn’t your fault. Mostly.”
“What romantic thing did I do?” I ask, taking the glass from her.
She pauses. “Maybe it’s best you don’t know.”
“What?”
“So you don’t realize how cheesy it was.”
“Hey. I like cheesy. I’m good with cheesy.”
She chuckles. “I don’t.”
“Then why did we do…it?”
“Because you were drunk. I didn’t know how to say no to those pouty eyes.”
“So you’re telling me drunk-me convinced slightly-drunk-you to do something cheesy?” She nods. “I’m smooth.” She throws her head back to laugh, and again, I feel a rush of pride.
“Smooth? Please!”
“At least tell me about it.”
She sips lightly on her juice. “What do you want to eat?”
I rest my head on the table. “I love waffles. But I’m guessing you don’t have them or want to make them.”
She taps her fingers on the counter. “Mm. No, I don’t have any…I can make pancakes!”
I look up at her. “You? You’re going to cook?”
She furrows her brow. “Just because I have a hired maid to cook for me doesn’t mean I can’t! I’ll have you know I make excellent pancakes.”
I smile. “I don’t know. I have high expectations.”
She turns to start pulling things out. “How’s your hangover?”
I hum. “Could be worse I suppose.”
“Need medicine?”
“That would be amazing.” She disappears and lays a couple of pain killers in front of me. I thank her. “Please. Tell me.” She hums along to a song in her head, happily mixing together ingredients. I roll my eyes. “Heather. You said it was romantic. How am I supposed to do it again if I don’t know?”
She smiles to herself. “You really want to know?” I nod. “I’ll show you. Later.” She seems happy, cooking. I watch her, content to listen to her hum. She glances up at me. “Wipe that goofy look off your face.”
I blush slightly. “What look? I’m just looking at you.”
“You’re basically drooling.”
I shake my head but close my eyes. The sun hurts. “I’m not drooling.”
“What flavor?” I laugh. “Never mind.” She starts cooking the pancakes, and I let out a pleased hum. “Are you ok?”
“Yes.” She continues singing. Eventually, she slides a plate in front of me. I see cherries thrown in lazily to the cake. “Thank you.”
Suddenly, “You kissed Lucas.”
I choked slightly on my bite. “I what? Oh, no. Heather! And Heather! Ah! I…oh no!” I bury my face in my hands. Of course I’d be that stupid. “Why haven’t you murdered me? Why hasn’t she murdered me?”
Heather watches me calmly, eyes narrowed and calculating, her own pancake steaming in front of her. “Heather’s fine. She’s given up on him.” I highly doubt that.
“And you? Are you fine? No! Of course not! I told you I wouldn’t! Then I did. God. I’m a piece of shit.” I groan into the table. “I’m sorry.” I hear her cut into her food. “Heather…say something.”
I look up at her, begging for something, anything. She munches slowly, her face blank. “What do you want me to say?”
“I don’t know! Scream at me, yell at me, hit me! I don’t care! I just…I need to know what you’re feeling.”
Another bite. Her eyes hold mine still, even though I want to hide my face. “It’s hard to scream and hit you when you were drunk, and he came onto you.”
I blink, shocked at her casual tone. “What?” I eventually say.
“If you had been sober, sure. If you sought him out, sure. But you were sitting, alone, to be by yourself. He kissed you. Sure, you didn’t fight back right away. For that, I’m disappointed.” My chest tightens. It hurts to hear she’s disappointed. “But I’m not angry. I couldn’t have done any better in your position. Besides, you were thinking of me the whole time.” She winks at the end, her face brightening a little.
I stand, rushing to her. I wrap her into a hug from the side, trapping on of her arms. I mutter my apologies into her shoulder, refusing to let go. “Heather. I’m sorry! Please forgive me.”
She squirms. “Let me go, and maybe.”
I look up at her, my face hovering almost level with hers. I let my arms fall. I stare into her eyes, but hers are slightly lower. I move to back up, but her hand finds my lower back, restricting me. “Am I forgiven?” I whisper.
I watch her throat as she swallows. “I don’t know.”
One hand braces myself against the counter, the other one itches to cup her cheek. “Is there anything I can do to influence your decision?”
Her hand disappears, as does the gleam in her eye. “Eat. Your food is getting cold.” Sucking her scent in, she basically dismisses me. I want to refuse, but I turn and sit back down. “How are they?”
I give her a thumbs up with my mouth full of food. Muffled, “Great!”
She smiles, proud. “Told you. You have no faith in me.”
“What are we going to do today? We could invite Heather and Heather. And Veronica.”
She shakes her head. “Heather went out of town today with her parents, and Heather has cheer practice for the big game this week. I’m not really in the mood to deal with Veronica.”
I hate myself, but I perk up at the thought of just the two of us. “You have a plan?”
She shrugs, poking her pancakes. “Not really.”
“We could watch sports!” She gives me a weird look. “Ok. Well. What do you do for fun?”
She purses her lips. “Drink. Have sex. Spend money…Oh! We can go shopping!”
I laugh. “Um, if you haven’t noticed, I’m not as rich as you.”
She nods. “Yeah? And? I have my dad’s credit card for a reason.”
“You’re going to buy me things?”
“Yeah! What are…” gulp “…friends for?”
I squint at her. “What are we?”
She reddens slightly. “Friends.”
“Are we?”
She nods slowly. “Friends,” she repeats quietly.
“Friends.” It disappoints me a little. She won’t recognize it. She won’t title it. “Just…friends. Uh-huh. What else are friends for?” I feel my face fall and somber, the word bitter in my mouth.
“What?” she snaps. “What’s wrong with friends?”
I poke my own pancakes now. I shrug. “Nothing.” There’s no feeling like being friend-zoned by the only person in the world that is meant to date you.
“Obviously, there’s—”
“Friends don’t snog each other.”
She jerks back slightly, brow furrowed at my outburst. It takes her a moment, but her face resets, and she leans on the counter, a frown plastered on her face. “What are you saying?” Her words are quiet, but a challenge.
“I’m saying that I…”
“Come on. Spit it out.”
“I don’t know!”
“Yes, you do.”
I sigh angrily. “I don’t want to be called that.”
I drop my gaze as her face lights up, a smile dancing on her bare lips. “What? You want pet names now?”
I shake my head, defeated. “Just forget I said anything.”
She rips my plate back. “No. You brought it up.”
“Heather. Drop it.”
“No.”
We stare at each other. I slowly slide my plate back, shoving more food in my mouth. “We’re friends, I guess. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
Her eye twitches. “Quit being a pillowcase.”
I groan, standing. “Let’s just go. Do whatever we’re doing.”
“No.” She crosses her arms over her chest, standing slightly taller. “If we’re going to fight about this, then let’s fight.”
I laugh. “Why? Why should I fight, Heather? You’ll win no matter what.” I sigh. “Please. We can fight or whatever later.”
She taps her foot on the floor, but eventually she gives in. Thank God. I follow her up the stairs to her room and change. We’re quiet, both of us passive-aggressively sucking in scents. In the car is no better. Her knuckles are locked tight on the steering wheel, her jaw set. She pulls over at one point, and I groan audibly. “No. We are finishing this before we do anything else. I’m not going shopping while angry. That is how you make bad fashion choices.”
I run a hand through my hair. “Why would you call me that?”
“Because you are a friend?”
“You almost, almost said it. But you decided to go with friend?”
“What did I almost say?”
“Mate. Girlfriend. Lover.”
She cringes harder with each one. “Ew.”
“See! You can’t label this—” gesturing to us “—because you’re scared.”
Her face flashes with anger. “What am I afraid of, exactly?”
“Commitment. You scared that I’m going to leave, just like everyone else.”
I hardly finish before her hand shoots out, covering my mouth, shoving me back into the window. I knew it was a mistake before I finished the statement, but my anger is getting to me. Anger seeps off her, her scent overwhelming. My own scent rushes out to match, my fear getting the better of me. She doesn’t say anything, just breathing heavily as she stares me down. My hand slowly finds her wrist, lightly holding it. I can feel the poke of her claws, a very real threat. I start to peel her fingers back. Her face slowly softens, claws retracting, her hand releasing me.
“I’m sorry. But it’s true.”
Her hand hovers, but she soon pulls it back. Her breathing eventually slows. She stares at her lap. “You’re right.”
I swear I see a tear form. “I won’t leave you,” I whisper. I laugh lightly. “I can’t leave.”
She laughs and wipes a cheek. “Promise?”
Her eyes find mine, excessively blue. I nod. “I promise.” Another tear falls. I gently reach out and wipe it with my thumb. “You’d hunt me down anyway.”
She laughs, a small sniffle forming. “Yeah,” she breathes. Her eyes drop. “What do you want to call this?”
I sigh, my hand back in my lap. “I don’t know. I don’t really care. Just something.”
“I’ve never labeled anything.”
“We’re girlfriend and girlfriend.” That sounded weird.
She makes a face. “That’s so…junior high.”
“Ok, Miss Name Generator. Shoot.”
She lays her head back to think. “I don’t know. I’ll think on it.”
I lean on the middle console. “But how about those pet names?” I grin when I see her blush a little. “I have a few I could call you. Honey-bun—”
“Hey! You go straight to that?”
“I’m not good with names.”
She smiles slightly. “Aren’t we a pair?”
I grab her hand, running my fingers over her veins. “Do you ever hate what you are?”
She nods. “Every day.”
She isn’t looking at me, but I know she’s saddened. “Same.”
She sniffs, her face hardening. “Let’s go shopping! You need some new outfits.” She quickly takes her hand away to shift gears, but I quickly reclaim it. I turn her palm over, then lick from heel to fingertip. She squirms, shouting at me. “That’s so gross!”
I laugh, bring it down to our laps. I watch her profile, examining where her freckles should be. “Why do you wear so much makeup?”
She shrugs. “Do you have a problem with it?”
“Well…yes.” She cocks an eyebrow. “I mean, I think you’re beautiful without it all.”
“I’m not trying to impress you.” I scoff. “I know you already think I’m hot.”
I laugh. “That makes me feel good.”
She shrugs, grinning. Her hand is loosely holding onto mine, encased by my cold hands. “Do you really like my laugh?” She glances over at me.
I gaze over at her. “Yes.” I’m sure she’s heard my thoughts on it multiple times.
“Why?”
I smile to myself. “It’s like birds chirping in the morning, or a violin at church. It’s so nice and soothing.” I pause for a second, now intently staring at her hand. “When you smile, or laugh, or even look at me, I feel like everything is going to be ok. We will get through it. Together.” I blush to myself, realizing how stupid it sounds. “Sorry. You don’t like cheesy.”
She brings my hand over, kissing the back of it. “Cheesy is ok sometimes.” She gasps. “I got it!”
I jump slightly, taking back the hands. “Got what?”
“Your pet name!”
I laugh. “This should be good.”
“Chérubin.”
My face settles, and I think about it. “Say it again, like you would in a different setting.”
She shakes her head, squeezing my hand. “Nope. I’ll say it randomly. And if you don’t like it, I can change it.”
“Why Chérubin?”
“It’s French for cherub. You’re so innocent and pure. Oh! Or Kitten.”
I laugh. “Kitten is so cliché. Any ideas for you?”
“No. You have to come up with it. You have to find the meaning.”
I sigh. “Uh. How about…” I start mumbling to myself, testing the flavor of each word. “Pooka.”
She looks over at me, laughing out a, “What?”
“Its Irish! It means spirit. Or Paix. French for peace.”
She hums. “Pooka sounds like a pet name. But Paix sounds sexier.”
“We could always use more than one.”
“Ok. Let’s use both.”
“Kitten? Really?”
“It’ll sound sexier in the moment. Trust me.” We eventually make it to the next town over, the mall standing about everything else. She parks, quickly racing over to help me out of the car. “Guess what,” she purrs, locking her car. She traps me against it with her hips, her hands resting on the hood behind me.
I swallow, flustered. “You want to get some fast food?”
She leans in, ignoring my statement. “No one knows us here.”
“And?” My eyes drift to her lips, so close to mine.
“And? And we can do whatever without worrying about anyone we know seeing.”
My hands hook into the belt loops of her jeans, tugging her slightly closer. I earn a small groan in response. “I still don’t like PDA, no matter who is watching.”
She smiles. “Not even a little?”

Chapter Text

I shove her back, holding out my hand. She takes it, roll her eyes. She leads the way, her hand warm and comforting. I walk close to her, my free hand around her elbow. I glance at her. “No phones.”
Her face brightens a little. “No phones.” She smiles evilly. “Is it PDA if it’s in the bathroom?”
“Yes.”
She pouts next to me, her having to look down on me in her heels. “Come on!”
I shake my head. “Nope.” I run my fingers up and down the inside of her arm, tickling it lightly. “Hm. Pooka. Paix. Pooka.”
“Why spirit? Why peace?”
“Spirit because you give me life, and peace because when I look at you, everything is peaceful.”
She smiles to herself, making her way into a jewelry store. “Damn. I give you life.”
“Yeah, I’m being cheesy.”
She nods, browsing the counter. She lets go of my hand, breaking my heart a little. “What about that one?” She points out a flashy diamond ring.
I laugh. “For what?”
She looks up at me, slightly confused. “For you?”
Again, I laugh. “What are you talking about? I have a ring from the pack already.” I brandish it on my hand. It doesn’t exactly fit my ring finger, so I’m wearing it on my right middle finger.
She smiles, like an adult explaining something to a child. “This ring is just for us. Like, a promise ring, or whatever comes before engagement.”
I slowly smile. “You’re buying me a celibacy ring?”
“No!” She leans in, whispering, “That won’t last long anyway.” I blush harshly. “It’s just something for us to wear to think of each other.” I again, point to my ring and bracelet. “I want you to think of me and only me when you look at this.”
“It’s too much, Heather.”
“Too bad. Pick or go with whatever I want.”
I sigh. I find some small bands. I point to plain gold ones. “How about that?”
“Those are so boring,” pointing to a smaller, but still large, diamond.
“No.” I point to gold bands with small diamonds inlaid. “There. Compromise. Not too flashy for me, but flashy enough for you.”
She bites her lip. “That’s what you want.”
I nod. “But you’re the one buying, apparently.”
She stands, waving a person over. “These. Two of them.” The lady gets to work, and she asks for ring measurements. I have to have her measure my finger before I can know what my size is. Heather insists that I put it on my left ring finger. I comply, begrudgingly. After measurement, told to return at the end of the business day and walk out.
“That was so expensive!”
“Please. A drop in the bucket.”
I laugh. “That could pay for my entire college experience.”
She takes my hand again. “Don’t worry about it.”
I sigh but let it drop. There’s no use arguing with her. “I can’t wait to run again.”
“Me too. I feel so powerful.” She leads us into a clothing store. “You are getting some dresses.”
I pull her to a stop. “I hate dresses.”
“You wore one on the first day of school.”
“You remember what I wore?”
She smiles softly. “Of course I would remember.” She prances off into the dresses, flying through the racks.
“That doesn’t mean I like them. I haven’t worn one since.”
“And that’s a damn shame.” She pulls out dull colored dresses, holding a few next to my face. She shakes her head, shoving them all back. “Your pallet is so difficult.”
“I don’t like colors.”
She nods. She gasps, reaching for one. It’s a knee-length, striped grey with streaks of red in it. It’s subtle, but right up my alley, if it wasn’t a dress. She grins, almost squealing as she holds it out for me. “This. Is. Perfect.”
I hate to say it, but, “I agree.”
“Try it on! I need to see it.”
I take it, quickly change, and find her waiting for me. She smiles proudly. If she smiled like that every time I wore this, I would never take it off. “What do you think?” I blush, shoving some hair back.
“I love it,” she sighs. “It’s adorable.” I smile softly back at her. She ushers me over to the mirror. She softly strokes my shoulders, eyes drifting around my face in the mirror. I smell her scent flare as she leans in, my wolf howling in time with hers. She brings her mouth to my ear, her breath tickling me. I shudder, the sensations overwhelming me. “Kitten,” she purrs. Dear. God. I now know what she meant. A shiver runs through my body, shaking me under her hands and gaze. Goosebumps race up my arms, and I clutch the dress to stabilize myself. She feels my reaction, my scent quickly flying out to match hers, and she smiles evilly. “Told you.” She backs away, every inch of me begging for her return. “Change. We have more shopping to do!”
After flying through dresses, she eventually buys me three and a skirt. I hate that she’s buying so much. “I have to repay you.”
She grins down at me, leading me around the mall. “You can repay me in other ways. Please, daddy’s money has no end. He’s so rich.”
“What’s going to happen when you don’t have his money to spend?”
She laughs. “I have a huge inheritance. Don’t worry.” She spots the shoe store, almost running into it.
“Buy something for yourself.”
She grins, examining the red heels laid out. She scrutinizes them. “Which ones?”
I laugh. “You’re asking me?” I point to the shortest heels. “So they don’t hurt your feet so much. I hear you complain every now and then.”
She smiles. “I need to be taller than that, thank you very much.” She eyes my sneakers. “You need new shoes.”
“I wear flats. I’m told I look like a drunk grandpa when I walk in heels.”
She throws her head back to laugh. “I need to see this.”
Somehow, she convinces me to put on a pair and walk down an aisle, clutching her stomach in laughter. I blush, but laugh along, happy to make her happy. I take them off, shaking my head. They were only half the height of the heels she’s wearing now. “This is ridiculous. I don’t need shoes!” She wipes a tear, heading back to check out. She giggles slightly at check out, even into the mall. I tug on her hand. “How much more? This is so boring.”
“Shopping is not boring.” She glances at me. “Have something better to be doing?”
“Maybe.” She laughs. “Come on. I’m starving. It’s late afternoon already!”
She checks her watch. “Fine. I suppose.” She heads back to the jewelry store, pays for the rings, and rushes out with them. She’s giddy, one already on her hand. “Put it on! Put it on!” I smile, slipping it on. It fits perfectly, matching hers. She holds out her hand. “It’s official!”
“Thank you,” I say softly. I spin the ring around my finger. “Thank you so much.” I feel tears start to form.
“Hey? What’s wrong?” She reaches for me, but I step away.
“I just…allergies. I need to get in the car is all.” She follows me, a respectable distance. I wait, then crawl in the car. She throws the bags in the backseat, staring at me. I let the tears out, reaching for her. I wrap my arms around her, despite her tensing under it. “I just…I’ve never…” I cry for a bit. “I’ve never felt so loved.” A tentative hand settles on my back. “No one…no one has ever cared enough to buy matching anything.” I sniffle, pulling back. “Sorry.”
She watches me closely, and I can’t tell what she is thinking. She shakes her head. “Why are you apologizing?”
I shrug. “I don’t know. Crying on you.”
She smiles softly. “It’s ok. I understand. I’m just glad you like it.”
I nod, looking down at it. “I love it.” I grab her hand, kissing it. “It’s perfect.” She smiles, proud. She turns on the car and starts driving. “What’s your ideal date?”
She laughs. “That was random.”
“I’m curious.”
She shrugs. “I don’t know. What’s yours?”
I shake my head. “Too cheesy for you.”
“I would like to eat a nice dinner. Then maybe a movie.”
“Classy.”
“What’s yours?” she asks again.
“I would like a nice dinner, but not at a restaurant. Home cooked instead. Then like an indoor spa day. And then falling asleep to the sound of classical music and a fire.”
“So, boring. Staying at home? That’s not a date.”
“A date is anywhere my person is.”
“So this is a date.”
“Sure.”
“Happy first date.”
“Nope! Our first date was when you bought me a slushy and Heather interrupted us while in the backseat.”
“Happy second date.”
“Happy second date.” I turn on the radio. She turns it off. “Yes?”
“Talk about something.”
“Like what?”
“You said paix was French. Do you speak French?” I nod. “Speak to me in French.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“Doesn’t matter.”
I stare rambling through random phrases that I remember. French was a required class every year I was in England, so I speak it better than any other second language. She hums here and there. I end with a cheesy smile, a kiss on the hand, and, “mon amour.”
She lets out a pleased sigh. “I know what the ends means.”
I laugh. “I told you I was smooth.”
“Yes. I’m shaking with anticipation.”
“I can’t believe Kitten can sound so sexy.”
“My Chérubin.” She kisses my hand now, a slow deliberate one.
“Now I’m the one shaking, pooka.”
She hums, pleased. “Yes. Pet names are a must.”
“I’m guessing they are a no-go when around others?” I mutter.
“We’ll see. It’s too…emotional for people to see.”
“You have friends for a reason. Open up to them.”
She sighs. “Why? So they can use it all against me?”
“Heather would never, and Veronica would never knowingly. Have some trust in them.”
She shakes her head. “No. Be happy I’m showing you.”
I smile softly. “Someday, the damage will heal, Heather.” Her face is solid.
She slips her hand away from me. “Some damage never heals,” she whispers. “Now shut up.”
I nod, silently watching her. I twist the ring around my finger. “Mon Paix,” I whisper.
“What.”
“I…appreciate you.”
She glances over at me. A smile threatens to break, so I lean over, my hand tempted to dance around her. “You were going to say something else.”
I smile. “Maybe. But that is moving way too fast for my liking.”
She nods. “I’ve never said it in a relationship.”
I raise my eyebrows, my hand creeping towards her leg. “Really? So I should feel special?”
“I haven’t said it yet.”
My fingers brush the jeans just above her knee. I’m not good at flirty, so I’m trying to pull from Heather’s book. “You will.” I’m getting closer, my scent soft but there. I feel a slight flush of hers, but it settles back. My fingers start stroking her leg.
“Is that a bet?”
I smile. “It’s a promise,” I whisper. My fingers work closer to her center, but not too quickly. If not for her wolf inside, I would have no idea if she even felt it.
“Is that so?” she purrs. Her eyes remain on the road, but I think I catch a few glances here and there out of the corner of her eye. I bite my lip.
“I can be very persuasive.” My hand creeps ever-so-slowly up her thigh.
A smile slowly creeps up her face. “And I can be very stubborn.”
“Even better.” My heart is pounding, my entire body on fire from her proximity.
“You’re playing a dangerous game,” she nearly growls. I can all but see her resolve weakening.
I hum my response, my fingers stopping just before her center. I earn a very quiet, quick groan. My own smile grows. “Just how dangerous are we talking?”
She lets out a deep groan. “Move your hand, or you’ll find out.”
I tap my fingers on her leg. “Mm. Maybe I shouldn’t.”
Her jaw clenches and unclenches. “Move it.”
I sigh, taking my hand away. “Fine.” I sit back, silence and scents the only thing filling in the air. “Are you sure?”
“Now is not the time to mess around like that.”
“Are you scared of crashing?”
“You have too much trust in me to focus that much.”
“Fine. But you owe me.”
She hums, pleased. “I owe you?”
“Yeah. Shutting me down like that.”
She chuckles. “Don’t worry. I’ll make it up to you.”
We finally reach her house. I bounce my leg, anxious. She leads into the house, up to her room, then back out. “Where are we going?” She holds my hand and leads to a window. She crawls onto the roof, helping me out. She stands, pointing up. I gasp. It’s gorgeous. I haven’t seen stars like this is so long. I smile, drinking it all in. “I can’t believe this.” I sit on the roof.
“This is the cheesy romantic thing you did.”
I smile, laying back. “Wow.”
“You’re such a nerd.”
“Look at this.”
She smiles slightly at me but remains standing. “It’s too cold.”
“So get a blanket.”
She rolls her eyes, leaving, and returning with a wool blanket. She lays down, wrapping herself in the blanket. “So cheesy.” I don’t even bother to reply, amazed at the view. For the second time today, I tear up. I hear her huff next to me.
“How are you not amazed?”
“It’s boring.”
“Boring? It’s incredible! Half of those are actually dead by now.”
“What?”
“Since they’re so far—”
“I don’t really care. Just hurry up and be amazed she we can go inside and be warm.” I nod. Just a few more minutes. It’s gorgeous. And with her mansion tall and out of the way, it’s perfect to avoid most ambient light. Eventually she sits up. “We’re going to get sick sitting out here.”
“Fine. If you’re so keen on going inside.”
She quickly crawls back through, blanket still wrapped tightly around her. I crawl in after, following her to the kitchen. With one arm poking out of her blanket-burrito, she pulls out hot chocolate packets. “Non-dairy, of course.” She quickly heats up some cups, happily walking to her room. She collapses on the bed with a pleased sigh. She pops her head up. “The guest room has a massive jet tub.”
I shrug. “And?”
“You said you wanted a spa day!”
“I’m not getting naked with you in a bathtub.”
“How is it any different than getting naked normally? Besides, it’s huge! We wouldn’t even have to touch each other.”
“I don’t know. Bathing is sacred. You’re supposed to clean while bathing, not getting dirtier.”
She lays back down. “What, then?”
“You’re the one who said you’d make it up to me.”
She sets her cup down, standing, abandoning her blanket. “That depends on what you want.” I shift uncomfortably. “What? Did you lose your nerve from the car ride?” She grins, stepping towards me.
“I’m just…not in the same mood.”
“I can fix that.”
I blush harshly, watching her walk towards me. “I’m not drunk enough for this.”
She nods. “That’s why it’s perfect.” She walks around me, stopping me from following her around. Her hands land on my shoulders, rubbing softly. Her breath falls softly on my ear, and I shiver. “We’ll take this slow.” I nod, interested as to what her version of slow is. Her hands drop down my sides, resting gently on my hips. She places a soft kiss behind my ear, and I would have completely collapsed to the floor if she hadn’t caught me. Her hands firmly press into my stomach, holding me up. My breathing quickens. “How are you?” I can’t reply, just resting my head back against her. “Words.”
After humming for a second, “Oui, mon paix.”
She smiles into my cheek, placing a soft kiss. Her hands drift up my abdomen, then back down, slow, deliberate motions. Her scent is filling me, every sense of anxiety, fear, nerves, everything is gone. She fills me. She completes me. “Jesus, are you going to pass out?”
“No, no…” I breathe. All I can think about are her hands, her scent, her. Her hands drift lower, brushing lightly over my thighs. I let out a moan a little to wanting for my liking. My breath hitches when her teeth graze my pulse point.
Right in my ear, just like while shopping, “Kitten.”
I couldn’t stand it any long. Jesus. I spin, locking our lips together, my world exploding, groaning loudly and hungrily. She easily controls the kiss, my momentary overpower long gone. I walk her back with me towards the wall, needing more support than she is offering. I roughly bite her lip.
Between kisses, “I…said…slow.” I simply gnaw at her neck in response. She groans, a long, almost pained sound. I hoist myself up the wall, my legs wrapped around her waist, aggressively running my hands in her hair and teeth on her neck. “Jesus,” she grunts. “I don’t know if I can hold you like this forever.” She shakes slightly. “The…bed.” She grunts again, trying to maneuver me off the wall. She eventually manages to drop me on the bed, me busting into a fit of giggles. “What?” she laughed.
I shake my head, reaching for her. “Nothing! Nothing.”
She peppers kisses around my face and neck, causing me to giggle harder. She pulls back again. “I can’t do this if you’re laughing!”
I laugh anyway, holding onto her blouse. I start unbuttoning it. “Come on. I’m fine.”
She shakes her head. “Killed the mood.” She stands, and I whine, ending with a frustrated groan. She backs away, heading towards the bathroom. She sways her hips a bit too much. Casting one last sultry glance over her shoulder, she disappears.
I sit up. Of course I killed it. I’m a pro, you know. I hear water running, but not the shower. I bite my lip, calling, “Pooka. About that tub.”
The water stops, and after a few pounding heartbeats, she cracks the door open, leaning against it. “Are you serious?”
“Expand my comfort zone.” My voice shows every ounce of fear I have in me.
She slowly grins, heading for the door. My nerves are on fire, but if it means getting close to her again, I’d do anything right now. “Good. I’m cold anyway.” She heads towards a room down the hall, a room I’ve never seen. She immediately starts filling the tub, pouring in some bubble soap.
“A bubble bath?”
She gives me a quick once-over. “It’ll help you feel less self-conscious.”
“There you go again, thinking of others.”
She smiled. “So who’s stripping first?”
I redden. “Do you have to say it like that?”
She smirks, looking me up and down. “Come here.” She beckons me over with a finger, and I cautiously step towards her. Her fingers dance along the hem of my t-shirt. I shudder, my hands clutching my stomach in nervousness. “Why are you so nervous?” she whispers, placing a soft kiss on my cheek.
I gulp, laughing nervously. “I always am.”
She smiles softly. “We don’t have to.”
I close my eyes. “But a warm bath would be nice.”
Her fingers creep up my shirt. “Are you sure?” I nod. With a short breath on my cheek, she lifts my shirt over my head. I blush, looking away, covering myself. She gently lowers my hands. “You are beautiful,” she whispers. She guides my chin up, so I have to look at her. Her eyes are bright, more silver than grey. “Don’t hide yourself from me.”
I let out a nervous laugh, looking between her eyes. “What? You are calling me beautiful?”
Her brow furrows, fingers brushing over my cheek. “Just because guys don’t beg you to suck their dicks doesn’t mean you aren’t gorgeous.” She kisses my nose. “You are beautiful, and gorgeous, and lovely, and pretty.”
I blush harsher, my breathing quickening slightly as she speaks. “You’re just saying that.”
Her eyes narrow slightly in amusement. “Some day you’ll believe me.”
I wrap an arm around her neck, pulling her into a kiss. It’s a kiss that isn’t hungry, or rough, or painful. It’s calm, soft, caring. I hold her there, needing only roses and cherries. She lets out a soft, pleased moan, hands on my hips. She pulls me closer, both of us lost in each other. I break when I need some air, lips slightly swollen. She reaches over, turning off the water. I decided to take off my pants, the longer I wait, the less like I’m going to do this. She watches openly, lust in her eyes. “It’s not polite to stare,” I mumble.
She smiles but continues to look. She starts undressing as well, and I try incredibly hard to not stare back. There’s no doubt she’s gorgeous, her legs stretching long and thin. She gets completely naked.
I stare at her chest, but not for the wrong reason. “I didn’t know you’re freckles went so far.”
She rolls her eyes and dips into the tub. “Come on,” she says.
I finally get naked, with her politely looking away until I get in. I hiss at the hot water, but settle in. This thing is massive, hot tub size. She sits in the middle, floating around loosely. I grin. “Pooka.”
She chuckles quietly. “I’m liking it more and more. Come here, Chérubin.” I glide over to her, careful to avoid touching her. I smile, my eyes locked into hers. Her hands come out of the water, resting on my cheeks. Her thumbs rub my cheekbones lightly.
I try to listen to her thoughts, but I can’t pick it out. “Tell me what you’re thinking about?”
She smiles again, a sweet smile, a rare one on her face in public. She closes the space between us, our bodies pressed together. I inhale sharply, the contact a bit shocking. Her lips are nearly touching mine, a breath apart. My own thoughts are running wild, many of them from desire and need. I swear, I could live on her scent. She hums. “About the same things you are, you dirty girl.”
I blush, my hands wrapping around her shoulders. “Are you judging me?”
She leans around, her mouth on my ear. She kisses it softly. “Only if you hold out on me.” I shudder. Her hands drop below the water, sliding down the back of my thighs. I gasp, shifting up into her, eyes fluttering closed. Maneuvering back to a wall of the tub, my back hits the cold wall. My eyes snap back open into hers, my nails digging into her small shoulders. I kiss the side of her lips, resting my forehead against hers. My legs wrap around her waist; I’m holding on for dear life.
I sniff. “Is that rose scented bubble bath?” She nods. “A little self-centered?”
She laughs, kissing my lips. “It’s why I’m so endearing.”
“I can’t argue with that,” I whisper, searching for her lips again. I groan. “Who needs drugs when I can kiss you?”
One hand presses into my lower back, the other on my underbelly. My breathing quickens, my hands digging further into her skin. “Am I really that good?”
I chuckle, kissing along her cheek towards her ear. “Better,” I say, biting her ear.
Her hand dips lower, pressing into my core. I shift down into it, groaning. Words must be finished, because she locks me into a hungry kiss, more teeth than lips. She toys with me, earning sounds from me in return. It’s ridiculous how sensitive I am. I break, panting into her shoulder. She hums. “How is this supposed to be any fun if you finish so quickly?” I can’t even respond, too focused on her movements. She slows. “Are you ok?”
“Yes,” I whisper. “I’m great.” She moves torturously, slowly, nibbling slightly on my neck and collarbone as she goes. I grind down into her hand, trying to gain more friction. “Please,” I beg.
She smiles into my neck, her other hand finding my breast. “Please what?”
I squeeze her shoulder, the sensations incredible. “Please,” I whisper again. She presses hard, slightly faster, but not near fast enough. “Mon paix.”
She groans. “Oui, mademoiselle?” I squeeze harder, vision blurred. I feel myself building up the tension, my body growing stiff. She stops suddenly, backing up. I snap up into her eyes, slightly angry. Instead, I can’t stay mad enough to stop me from colliding back into her lips, hungrily gnawing on her lips. I can’t even feel the water around me, everything disappearing into her. She pulls away all too soon, holding me back. I whine. “You’re so impatient.”
“And you’re killing me,” I mumble back, trying to continue kissing her, her dodging each time. “Heather,” I breathe.
She smiles, grabbing my hand. “I want to make sure you are ok with this.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I insist.
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. Please.”
She hums, smiling again. “We aren’t going to go all the way.”
“What? Why?”
She ignores my question, instead stating, “Tell me what you need, pretty girl.”
I clear my throat, squeezing her shoulders slightly. “What?”
“Tell me what you deserve, Kitten.”
“Well…I…” I trail off, unsure where to even start.
“Is it difficult to speak?”
“No, I just…uh…”
“Then say what you want me to do.”
“I don’t know…what I want.” She simply watches my face as I think. “You’re going to make me say something, aren’t you?” When she gives an affirmative nod, I offer, “Can you…touch my thighs again, please?” Red faced, embarrassed, unsure what I even said, I can’t even look in her eyes.
She smiles slightly. “Good. Of course I can.” Her hands start to rub along the outside and underside of my thighs. I sigh softly, head coming to rest on her shoulder, and one hand digs into her hair. She bites my jaw, then licks up to my temple.
The blood rushes to my face. “This is so addicting.”
“You’re addicting,” she mutters amongst kisses. I’m not sure how long we stay like that, but eventually, she laughs, “Shall we dry off?”
I nuzzle in to her neck. “And continue, or…?”
“Do you still have energy?” I hum in confirmation. “We can totally keep going.” She starts to stand, and I turn away to give her some privacy. She laughs. “Please, you can look.” I shake my head. She wraps up in silk robe, way too short, and tosses me a cotton one. I take it, gratefully covering myself as I stand. She watches me, eyes bright, as I stand, padding over to take her hand. She leads me, backwards, into the room. My nerves kick back in. I have a hard time meeting her eyes, even though they are soft. She pulls me in, holding me tight as I nuzzle her neck. She leads me back to the bed, laying me down.
Her face nuzzles mine. “Are you sure?”
I nod. “Oui, mon paix.” I throw in as thick of accent as I can. I roll on top of her, our robes slightly open. “Que veux tu?”
“Oui!” she giggles.”
I laugh, peppering kisses around her face. “I asked what you wanted.”
She sighs, her hands rubbing my back. Serenity is apparent in her eyes, and it seems like nothing is wrong, with either of us or anything in the world. “This is all I could want.”
I roll my eyes. “How cheesy,” I joke. I grin, kissing her nose, cheeks, ears, everything. “I mean…” I say, wiggling my eyebrows.
She shakes her head. “No.” she shifts towards the pillows, literally dragging me by my robe to be next to her. She pulls up the blankets, climbing in. “This is it. This is all I want.” She wraps her arms around me, embracing me. We snuggle into each other, warm, peaceful. She starts humming something.
“Why do you only hum at weird times like this?”
She shrugs. “I’m happy like this.”
“What song is that? I know that song…”
“My mother used to sing it to me when I was younger.”
“Ah. My father used to do the same thing. The same song.”
She continues humming, her eyes drifting to a close. I stare at her, taking in every detail. Eventually, she stops humming, her breathing slowing. Her scent settles to a normal level, not the extensive amount that we were pushing out earlier. My hand comes to rest on her face, slowly stroking her cheekbone. She looks so peaceful, so content, so happy when she sleeps. Her lips part slightly as she slips deeper into sleep. I simply watch, noticing every time her brow furrows or her eyes flutter. I’m too enraptured to sleep. I can’t believe fate drove me here, to her. Of all the people to have as a mate, I was meant to be with a harsh control freak with walls stronger than Alcatraz. I don’t want to poke her brain while she sleeps, even though I want to know more about her. I close my eyes, just listening to her. Even her breathing is addicting. I want to overdose on Heather.

Chapter Text

I wake up to a feather-light kiss on my nose. “Time to get up,” she mumbles.
I jump. “Shit! What time is it?”
“It’s fine. We have time to get ready.”
I nuzzle up into her face, lips a breath apart. My eyes stare up at her, her eyes dull. “We have to face them all again.”
She sighs, eyes flicking between mine. “I’m not ready.”
I smile slightly. “Is Heather Chandler scared?”
She laughs. “Scared? Please. It just takes energy. And I have none. Plus, I’m a little nervous about you being in heat.”
“I’ll be fine. I’ve dealt before on my own.”
She kisses my lips quickly. “I’m nervous about what I’ll do.”
I roll onto my back, pulling her on top of me. I kiss her, tickling her lips with my tongue. “I’m sure it’ll be just fine.” I hold her bottom lip hostage, sucking on it. I shift to her neck, biting harsh enough to leave bruises. She starts pushing me back.
“Hey! I don’t need hickeys! And don’t bite me!”
I giggle, continue. “I’m just marking my territory,” biting hard on the flesh where her neck meets her shoulder. “You have makeup for a reason.”
She laughs. “Two can play this game.”
I squeal, wiggling under her. “I don’t wear makeup!” She sucks easily on my neck.
“Should I move somewhere…lower?”
I groan, closing my eyes. “Dear God, I’m not sure I can handle it.” Her mouth starts drifting lower and lower. She settles to kiss my chest and stomach. “Better,” I affirm. My hands play with her hair, both of us incredibly relaxed, our scents soothing each other.
After taking a large bite and licking the area soothingly, she starts to shift off me. “I need to get up.”
I sit up with her, kissing her again. “Please, I need more,” I mumble.
She sighs into it, gently pushing me back. “We have to go to school.”
I wrap myself entirely around her, sitting on her lap. “No,” I say. “Let’s just stay here.”
She laughs, prying me off her. “Later! Later. I promise.”
“I’m holding you to it.”
She finally gets me off, laying me gently on my back. “Fine.” She smiles evilly. “If you behave.”
I roll my eyes. “Don’t do anything crazy.”
She stands, keeping eye contact with me. She smiles, slowly dropping the silk robe down her shoulders, arms, butt, then to the floor. I blush like crazy, but I can’t help but look. She walks to the bathroom, bare naked, butt out for me to stare at. She closes the door, and I hear the water running. I sit up, having a good idea. The early phases of being in heat have hit, making me a bit more sex-crazed. My brain isn’t really thinking like normal. I shift through the shopping bags, finding the dress she liked so much. Debating how to do my hair, I start to get dressed. I have to find my discarded underwear, and I steal some hair pins from the vanity.
She comes back out with some clothes on, unfortunately. She eyes me up and down. “Not bad.”
“I need some flats, if you have some.”
She taps her chin, then turns to head to her room. I follow, appreciating the fancy fabric flowing around my legs. She eventually finds some white sandals, probably the one non-heel in her closet. I’m lucky we are the same size. I stand in her mirror, obsessively messing with my hair, hoping to find a style she likes. I ask her after each one.
“Quit asking,” she grumbles, absorbed in her own hair.
“I want to impress you,” I almost whine.
“You’re going to be insufferable this week, aren’t you?”
I finally settle with half up, half down. I walk up behind her as she does her makeup. “Can I—” She slides me some foundation. “Thanks.” We work side by side, and when I’m finished, I just stare at her eyes in the mirror.
“Yes?” she asks, mouth agape from doing mascara.
“What do you think?”
She turns, giving me a long hard look up and down my body. She starts adjusting bits of my hair and a little of my dress, then gives an affirmative nod. “Good.”
“Good?” I ask tentatively.
She rolls her eyes. “God, you’re like a 5-year-old. You look amazing. Relax.” I sigh. “Besides. If you look too good, someone else might sweep you off your feet.” The second she sets her makeup down, I grab her hand. She rolls her eyes but doesn’t argue. “Come on, nerd.” I happily skip next to her, hanging onto her hand for dear life. In the car is no different. I hold her hand hostage, forcing her to gear shift with her other hand. I hold her wrist to my mouth, getting an idea. I kiss it, then take a small bite. She hisses. “What are you doing? Are you trying to give me a hickey on my wrist? And I told you, no biting!”
I snicker as I suck on it. “Maybe.”
“Jesus.” The way to school is full of me trying to distract her, and her shutting me down. “You seem very…excited. About that PDA thing?”
I hum into her wrist as I suck on it. She may have told me to stop, but she didn’t pull away. “Honestly,” I peak up at her. “I don’t care right now. Ask me in the hallway.” She smiles. “Is my scent terrible?”
“No, not yet. Do you want me to scent you anyway?”
I grin. “Sure.”
She rolls her eyes as she pulls into the parking lot, shifting with her free hand again. I yank her over as soon as she unbuckles. I shove my hair aside, letting her scent me. I even groan, my wolf louder than I’ve heard it in a while. She goes to move away, and I whimper, trying to hold her back. “I told you. Later.” She gets away from me, crawling out of the car.
“But later is so long,” I say as I join her outside. I take her hand immediately. I hug close to her side, taking in all her scent while I can. When I go to class, I’ll hardly see her. “I’m addicted to you.”
She smiles slightly but doesn’t say anything. Inside the hallway, I suck my scent in, hoping hers will mask mine. I’ll be exhausted this week, but that’s how it is. I break to head to my locker, her to hers. I quickly tear through my things, trying to return to safety as quick as possible. I smell a bonfire and tense. Great.
“H—Hey,” he stutters.
I close my locker softly. I can’t see Heather through the bodies in the hall, but I’m sure she can see me, with how omnipotent she seems to be. I glance up at him, unsure if I want to meet his eyes. “Hi.”
“I need to apologize.”
I look up to meet his eyes now, though I’m not sure how long I want to hold it. I keep my distance, my books shielding me. “For what?” I shakily ask.
He rubs his neck, that sexy way that I love. “You know…Saturday night.” I drop my eyes again, waiting. “I kissed you, and I shouldn’t have.” My thoughts start racing faster, not all of them clean. He is so sexy, wearing a baseball shirt. I clutch my books tighter, reminding myself of Heather and Heather. I take a breath. “I’m sorry.” I still don’t respond, chewing on my cheek. “Say something.”
I shift uncomfortably. “I…I don’t know what to say.”
“Are you angry?”
I look up at him briefly. “To be honest, kind of.” His face falls a little. “I was drunk. And I told you about my mate.”
“Did you tell him?”
Her. I nod. “I can’t hide that from the person I’m supposed to live forever with.”
He sighs heavily. “You smell different today.” I nod. “Why?”
I really do not want talk to him anymore. “I’m in heat. My alpha offered to scent me.”
He nods. “Again, I’m sorry.”
I can feel him staring down at me, and I start blushing. “It’s fine.” I glance up. “Don’t worry about it.” I start to walk away, but he catches my arm. Dear God, all air leaves my body. I shiver.
“Please.”
I gently slide out from under his grasp. I can feel several sharp eyes on my back. “Lucas…” I sigh.
“Gemma. I want to date you.”
I’m so tempted. I’m so tempted to run away and be human and be a teenager and test the waters of love and find my true self and all that. But as I look at him, and I let reality hit me, and I let my thoughts ramble, I know that can never be. I want to kiss him so bad. It may be partially because I’m sexually charged. I’m not sure. “I know. Trust me, I do too. But…but I can’t.” He reaches up, brushing some hair behind my ear. I close my eyes, allowing myself the small comfort of his fingertips on my skin. Taking a deep breath, I take a step away, towards safety. “I’m sorry, Lucas. I really am. But I don’t have that kind of relationship with my mate.”
He takes a step towards me, closing the distance I want to create. “Who is it? Who is your mate?”
“Why?”
“So I can talk to him. We can work something out.”
I laugh morbidly. “You don’t understand.” I take another step back to safety. “Let me go, Lucas. We can be friends. We can be best friends, if that’s what you want. But a real relationship is probably not going to form.” His face drops, eyes pleading, but he lets me go. I tear up a little as I retreat quickly to the pack, all four openly staring. I sniffle as I join the group.
“What was that about?” Heather asks darkly, voice challenging.
I glance over my shoulder at him, and my heart breaks a little when I see the hurt look in his eye. “Nothing,” I mutter. I know if I keep thinking about it, I’ll cry. What’s the point of telling them anyway, when they probably listened to the whole thing. Heather is staring him down, her scent overwhelming me at the moment. I keep my eyes downcast, refusing to look at the girls. My brain hurts as my thoughts fire rapidly.
“Can you stop thinking so much? Jesus Christ,” Heather snaps. She runs a hand through her dark hair, a flash of pain in her eyes.
“Sorry,” I say quietly. “I don’t mean to.” I can feel Heather’s intense annoyance next to me. “Heather?”
She doesn’t look away from him. “What?” she snaps.
“Let it go.”
Her jaw tightens, eyes narrowing. “Why should I? He’s pushing my buttons.”
“It’s ok. I’m—I’m handling it.”
She lets out a short laugh. “Sure. If that’s what you call it.” She takes a long breath. “I have half a mind to go over and rip his throat out.”
“Not really your style,” Veronica points out.
Heather hums, finally looking away to look down at her subjects (aside from Veronica, for whom she has to look up). “You’re right.” She taps her fingernails on her cheek, thinking, plotting. I try to listen to her thoughts, but I only get a knowing, evil smile in response.
Heather Duke rolls her eyes, putting her phone away. “Ugh. Ram wants to fuck before class.”
“So say no,” Chandler snaps.
“If I do that, I’ll never hear the end of it.” She throws her stuff in her locker and looks at me. “If I’m late, just tell the teacher I’m vomiting.” I nod, slightly creeped out at her excuse, her quickly walking out of the school.
“Why don’t you stand up for yourself, Heather?” Chandler asks.
“We have an arrangement.”
“Yeah, where she gets to screw whoever she wants, and you’re stuck at home like a housewife. Tell her off.”
Heather shakes her head, blonde locks falling in her face. “I tried.” Sniff. “But it’s fine. She’ll calm down eventually.”
“I’d rip her head off.” Her grey eyes draw mine in. “I’d never let my mate screw around like that.” I gulp, looking back down at our shoes.
Veronica laughs awkwardly. “Hey, nice dress. And is that a new ring?”
I glance up, then over at Heather. I nod. “Yeah. Heather picked them out.”
Heather giggles next to me. “Let me see! I love your ring!” Heather fawns over me, easily changing the mood of the group. I smile at the shining mini-sun, letting her energy make me fill a little better.
Suddenly, on the other side of me, “Oh my God, here he comes.” My head snaps up to see Lucas walking over. I tense, gripping Heather McNamara’s hand tightly. Chandler steps forward slightly, meeting him before he gets too far. She raises an eyebrow at him, standing with her hands on her hips, effectively shielding me from him. I keep my eyes down.
He clears his throat. “I need to speak with Gemma, please.”
A long, drawn out, “No,” is all he gets in return.
“I’m sorry, are you Gemma? No. Step aside.”
“No.”
He looks over her to look at me. “Is she controlling your life or something?”
I shake my head, slipping behind McNamara as she taps her foot impatiently. “Whatever you can say to her, you can say to me.”
His lip curls slightly. “Alphas like you make me sick.”
She tilts her head to the side, looking him up and down. “And guys like you are pathetic. She’s taken. Give it up.”
“Yeah? Well, whoever her mate is, is an asshole.”
I can all but see the anger flush off her. “Excuse me?” She steps forward. Her scent rushes out fast enough to knock us all back a little. People quiet in the hallway, looking on at the drama.
Lucas is the only one to step forward. “You heard me.”
They stare at each other, about the same height. When neither back down, I step forward. “Lucas,” I say softly. “You don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t understand the situation.”
Heather lightly takes my arm from behind, pulling me back. “Don’t,” she whispers.
“Yes, Lucas. You have no idea what you are doing.” Her voice is thick, a few of her claws starting to poke out. “I suggest you back off before I really get upset.”
He looks over at me, even though I’m not looking. “She doesn’t control you. Do what you want.” He hovers for a second, probably hoping I’ll look up at him, but I don’t, so he leaves.
Chandler is fuming, even though you can hardly see it. It’s making me a little sick now, her scent too harsh for my liking. She watches him leave, then snaps her attention back to us. “I can handle myself, thank you.”
I chance a look at her. “Sorry, but he’s not going to listen to you.”
She crosses her arms over her chest. “He needs to learn his place.”
I sigh heavily. “Heather…”
“No. He does.”
“Why do you have to get involved?”
She lets out a harsh laugh. “Why? Why?” She’s dangerously losing control. “Question me again.”
I sigh, shrinking against Heather, shaking my head. “Just, try not to do anything drastic?”
Her cold face and eyes drift around me. “No promises.”
Just as I am about to argue with her more, the bell rings. Heather and Veronica escape together, leaving us to ourselves. Once out of ear shot, I lean in, whispering. “Pooka, please.”
Her face remains, but I see her eyes soften, just a tad. Her jaw clenches. “We’ll see.” Her scent settles, and she shoves me towards class. “Go. You’re going to be late.”
I race through classes, practicing managing my thoughts and the other’s in my head. Heather is in fact late for class, so I lie for her, not that she paid attention anyway or the teacher cared anyway. I think Heather keeps her thoughts locked up tight most of the time. I don’t hear her voice, now that I can partially distinguish voice from voice. Her thoughts are more methodical, more focused. The others bounce around, like me, but if I focus, I can follow her train of thought when we are alone and happy. Duke’s are usually angry, but mostly about sex. McNamara is typically singing to herself and is more of whisper than Duke’s. Veronica’s duck in and out, the loudest of the voices, but rarely angry. It doesn’t hurt to listen to her like it does Duke. If I can pick, I would listen to McNamara. It’s quiet, soft, pleasant, and never about anything negative. Like my own life coach that sings. Does she ever focus?
By lunch, I’ve tracked Heather around Ram’s car, listened to Heather get the words wrong to three different songs, and tried unsuccessfully to find Heather’s voice. I stand in line, debating what to eat. I know I should eat a salad, but I want meat. On the other hand, I don’t want to get dirty looks from Heather. Plus, the meat is—
“Hello.”
I snap up and see Lucas behind me in line. “That was stupid.”
He reddens slightly. “Jesus, how can you stand her?”
I shrug, deciding on the mystery pizza. “You get used to it. She’s not that bad.” I smile softly.
He takes a slice of the pizza as well, following me closely. “She always that way?”
I shrug again, not really wanting to talk about her. “No? I’m not sure, I’ve only known her for a few weeks.”
“And you’re in her pack?”
“Yeah. It’s dangerous to run alone in high school, especially as a female omega. It’s begging for horny alphas to take advantage.”
“I’ve been alright so far on my own.”
I bite my lip, grabbing more food, mainly to avoid eye contact. “That won’t last long.”
“What do you mean?”
I could tell him, fair warning, and all that. But Heather would kill me, and I don’t really know what to warn him from. I shrug, again, smiling weakly. “Nothing. Just be safe. People are touchy. Anything can set them off.”
“Did I make her mad?”
I laugh lightly. “Of course you did.”
“Should be I afraid?” He makes it like a joke, like asking if he should be afraid of zombies.
I level him with an even look. “She’s more powerful than you think.”
“I can handle myself.”
I shake my head. “You don’t understand.”
He sighs. “I don’t seem to understand a lot.”
“Haven’t you heard the rumors?”
“What rumors?”
“Ask around about what happened during the first week of school. Then decide if you can handle them.” I take the chance to end the conversation, walking quickly to the table. Of course, they were watching the whole time.
This time, Chandler simply munches on her carrots. Duke gives me a stink eye for my food but nothing more, thank God. McNamara chats happily about nonsense while Veronica pretends to listen. I try to act calm and eat my pizza, but my heart is racing. The early effects of being in heat are hitting my hormones hard. Most of what I can think about is sex-related. I’m hot, flustered, and now I’m slightly upset from Lucas. Being right next to Heather is not helping either feeling. I start waving my face, trying to cool off.
“You reek of Heather,” Duke says.
“She’s in heat, dumbass.”
“Great. You two going to start scissoring at any moment?”
I don’t even know what that means. “Shut up, Heather.”
She rolls her eyes. “We should just exile her for a week.”
“Fuck you too,” I mumble.
“All I’m saying is you are going to attract way too many horny guys.”
“It’ll be fine. My scent will cover her,” Heather says, sipping her water. “Besides, you aren’t this adamant when Heather is in heat.” She cocks an eyebrow, basically begging for Heather to keep arguing with her.
“She’s not an omega.”
“She’s still one of the worst ones in school when she’s in heat because you hardly do anything for her.”
Heather decides to quit arguing, realizing she’s only going to lose. She looks like she’s going to make another last-minute comment, but decides against it, eating her salad.
Heather pushes her own tray back, one hand pulling out her phone, the other coming to rest casually on my upper thigh. It’s sad, but it sets me on fire, my entire body aching for more. My hand rests on top of hers then, tracing patterns. I try to keep my scent in, but I know I’m failing. Heather smirks slightly, but nothing more. Her hand drifts dangerously high and squeezes, and it takes everything in me to not blush and scream for more. It drifts up under my skirt and grazes my area. My breathing hitches, my hand even pushing her for more. She resists, teasing. I internally groan, knowing she would do this. This week will be Hell.
My face is redder than an apple at this point, just from how hot I am. I fan myself, trying to maintain composure. “Jesus,” I whisper.
Heather cocks an eyebrow, amusement in her eyes. “You ok?”
I take a long drink of water. “It’s so hot!”
“It’s like she’s never been through heat before,” Duke mumbles.
“It’s a lot easier when you aren’t around other wolves,” I breathe. “Jesus Christ.” It doesn’t help that she pinches my inner thigh, causing me to yelp slightly. I try to cover it with a cough but fail. Everyone knows.
“Heather, quit torturing the poor girl,” Veronica chides.
Heather cocks her head to the side, examining me slowly losing composure. “Why? It’s adorable.”
I stand. “I’m…I’m just…yeah.” I take my tray, quickly escaping to the bathroom to breathe. I splash water on myself and try my best to not freak out. This is insane. Before, I would just have dirty thoughts about some guy, but now that there are other wolves, and their scents are driving me wild, my mate at my fingertips, and Heather messing with me, this is unmanageable. I’m not sure I can last a week like this. I don’t care what Heather says, I’m getting something this week, multiple times. The worst part—this isn’t even full heat yet. I can smell her approach and snatch her before she can get the door open completely.
Backing both of us into a stall, I lock our lips together. The second I connect with her, the feelings subside, her scent calming and peaceful, even if she doesn’t mean it to be. The voices quiet, my wolf calms, everything is better. I let out a pleased moan, refusing to break for air. I hold her tight by her collar, pressing our bodies back against the stall wall, trying to touch as much as possible. I couldn’t care less about the world around me. Everything is perfect.
She tries to push me off, and I tighten against her, refusing. She eventually tears away, panting, but I refuse to let go. I latch onto her neck and face, kissing and sucking everything I can. I know I’ll ruin her makeup, but I don’t really care. “Jesus,” she breathes. Her lipstick is smeared slightly, a little probably on my own face. “Calm down,” her hands pushing against my shoulders. “Jesus, this isn’t even you’re full heat yet.”
I bite on her neck, shaking my head. “No way,” I say, trying to find her lips again. She dodges. Unfortunately, she’s stronger than I am. When she tries, she easily peels me off. Holding my hands near my head, she stares at my lips, an evil tint in her eye. “Heather,” I whine.
“I told you. Behave.”
I groan, frustrated. “Heather, I can’t.”
With her breath brushing across my lips, she whispers, “Now now, Kitten.” I nearly burst right then and there. “It’ll be worth it. Keep misbehaving, and I’ll leave you like this all week.”
Tears nearly spill out of my eyes based on how pent up I am and the idea of not getting relief. It’s scares me. I shake my head. Whispering, “I’ll be good.”
She smiles, satisfied. Her nails dig into my wrists as she tempts me with a kiss. “Clean up. It’s almost time for class.” She exists the stall, going to fix her messed up lipstick. Her eyes lose the tint, the amusement leaving her eyes. She sighs, pulling out some foundation to cover my new handiwork. I follow close behind, fixing my hair. I wipe my mouth, slightly embarrassed. However, I don’t really care. The bell rings, and she takes my hand, leading the way to class.
Through English, I tightly clutch my legs together, trying so hard to keep myself away from any friction or pleasure. I feel I can make it, but a few minutes in, and she starts messing with me. As I keep practicing listening for each voice and quieting others, I start to pick up on a very faint cooing. When I focus, I hear “chérubin” over and over. I finally lock onto it, relishing on her voice. However, when she knows I hear her, she starts sending some not-so-clean things my way. I sigh, now wanting to block her out. She’s keen on it, making it slightly louder so I can’t. I try to listen for McNamara, but she’s drowned out by Heather. I cannot hear anything else by the end of class, not that I would want to. But that also means she’s tortured me further.
By the end of the day, I’m a breath away from bursting. I have to invade McNamara’s thoughts constantly to keep myself sane, feel relatively innocent, and focused on something else. She, again, messes up the words for many songs, but it’s innocent and pure. And that’s what I need right now. I glance over, catching sight of Lucas. He’s surrounded by a couple of football guys, being harassed. I start to make my way over, but I make eye contact with Chandler further across the hall. She narrows her eyes at me, shaking her head.
Moral dilemmas suck. I chew my lip, bouncing nervously. I could save him, like the good person I am. I’ll risk getting my own ass beat by a variety of people, Heather’s wrath, and more sexual tension. Or I could back off, listen, and get a nice reward tonight. That would be the smart thing to do. When I make eye contact again, she beckons me over with one finger, face set in stone. She’s testing me. I hate it, but she is. What better time to test my faith than when I’m in heat and there’s an easy punishment? Turn around and leave it be. That would be the smart thing to do. But I’m not smart. I sign my death warrant, shaking my head. I step towards the group, hearing a harsh voice in my head that I can fend for myself then.
“Lucas?” I ask tentatively, sucking in my scent as much as possible.
He seems slightly relieved. “Yeah?”
“We need to get going. We’re going to be late.”
He starts to move. “Yeah! I totally forgot. See you, boys!” He tries to slip between them.
One guy puts a hand on his chest. “We aren’t done with you.”
The other guy speaks up. “Yeah, asshole. We’re going to go somewhere first.”
Lucas, the idiot, “Awe! A date? Thanks, guys, but I’m straight.”
A quick gut punch. “No, we’re not buying you a pizza.”
I squeeze into the group, shielding Lucas. It’s a last resort, but I have no idea what else to do. I let a little of my scent hit them, both heat scent and omega scent. I flash some doe-eyes, throwing in a sweet voice. “Boys, do we really need to fight?”
The two guys get a stupid look on their faces. “Nah,” one of the drawls.
“How about we just finish this later?” I ask sweetly, touching one guys arm.
The power of boner is stronger. “Alright. Yeah.”
They giggle. “Later,” he winks. Thankfully, they step back, allowing us to escape. I drag Lucas behind me, sucking in my scent again. I let him go, no words, starting to walk away. He grabs my hand tightly.
“Thank you,” he coughs.
I should walk away. Again, I’m not that smart. “I warned you,” I say quietly, knowing Heather is seething.
“Them? I could have handled them.”
I sigh, getting a little angry, wiggling my hand away. “Lucas! Stop being so cocky! Those boys will beat you up day in and day out. You have to figure something out.”
He seems a little hurt. “I’m not being cocky,” he mumbles.
I want to reach out, but I grip my book lightly. “Just…keep your nose clean, alright? Avoid people. You’ll be fine.”
“I’m not a weak little omega,” he growls, and I jump a little at his sudden tone, half surprised he didn’t tack on like you. He steps closer, and I don’t back away. “I can’t stay away from you.” I momentarily let my guard down. Damn, he is so cute. My scent slips out, and his eyes change. I know I’ve messed up. With him already attracted to me, then my pheromones pulling him in, it was bound to happen. He grabs my waist, roughly pulling me in. This time, however, I’m too scared of Chandler and a lot less drunk to allow it, also, he’s being a total asshole. Within half a second of contact, I hit him hard in the chest with my palm to get him off, then swing that palm and connect with his cheek. The smack echoes across the hallway, people quieting short after. Heather told me to fend for myself. So I am. He looks up, betrayal in his eyes, large harsh mark forming. “Why?”
I’m fuming. Why? I’m tired of being used like that. I’m tired of you not listen. I want to rip him out. Instead, I turn on my heel and march out the door. I need to escape. I need air. I’m angry, scared, regretful, sad, everything. I make it to the parking lot, accepting that I’ll have to walk. I start making my way home. I swing my book angrily at my side, eventually opening it to read while I walk. I’m so angry with him. I save him, and he thanks me by forcibly kissing me? He calls me at one point, but I just ignore it. I don’t want to deal with him. Now that I’m alone in the cool air, my pent up sexual tension slowly ebbs, my anger following.
I hear a car following, and I roll my eyes. I’m not ready to deal with them. I continue reading, loudly, so if they are listening, they only get thick Irish poetry. There’s a lack of singing, unfortunately. Out of the corner of my eye, Heather’s Jeep slows to match my pace. I don’t bother glancing up. “I’m fine walking, thanks.”
“No, you’re not,” Heather calls. “Get in.” I look up at her. Heather stares back at me with dark brown eyes, bored. Heather sits next to her, worried. Veronica pokes her head through the middle, eye brows raised. “Come on. It’s fine.” I sigh, but walk to the back, crawling in beside Veronica. Heather drives quietly, no one speaking. I continue reading, only to keep my mind from panicking. When I glance back up, both Veronica and Heather watching me intently.
I close the book. “Fine. What?”
Heather looks in the rear-view mirror at me. “You just love pissing Heather off, don’t you?” I laugh, staring at my hands. “You think this is funny?”
“Just ridiculous,” I mumble.
Veronica puts a hand on my shoulder. I curl under it slightly. “You’re making things very difficult.”
I glance up at her. “For who, exactly?”
“All of us,” Duke scoffs.
“Heather’s right. Heather doesn’t like people disobeying her,” Heather says softly from the front seat. “We all get some heat from it.”
“Well, sorry. But I have a hard time just letting her send thugs after a friend,” I lean forward.
“A friend who aggressively kisses you without consent?”
I look at Heather’s baby-blues, and I know she’s right. Her tone is so calm and collected, I can’t argue against her. I can’t really consider him a friend anymore. I sigh. “Still.”
“He deserved it,” Duke grumbles. “He called Heather an asshole.”
“Without knowing it,” I point out.
“Still said it. Just learn to listen.”
“I can listen, thank you. I choose not to.”
“You are the worst omega in the history of packs.”
Heather pulls my attention back to her. “Just try. Please. It puts a strain on all of us.”
Veronica starts speaking like a politician. “We stand stronger if we are a united front.”
“Nerd,” Duke drawls.
“But how can I just go with it? It’s not who I am.”
Veronica agrees, her hand making small motions on my back. “Most of us,” looking pointedly at Duke, “don’t agree. But it’s how things work. She’s an alpha for a reason.”
“The only person that should be questioning it is Heather,” Heather says. “Oh, and Veronica now.” Veronica nods proudly. “You and I are stuck.”
“That’s so bullshit! Why do we have to just go with it?” I’m growing more frustrated with every word they’re saying.
“We’re low level subs. It’s how it works.”
“Yeah. It sucks.”
“The sooner you accept it, the better it’ll be.”
I close my eyes. “What do you suggest I do, then?”
“A good start is to apologize.” I hate groveling. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow night so it’s not as embarrassing.
“And let us handle questioning her,” Veronica says softly.
“Please. Listen to her,” Heather begs.
I make eye contact with Duke in the mirror, and I don’t sense much contempt in them. “Trust me. It’s not worth fighting her all the time. It gets tiring.” I see we are getting close to where Chandler and McNamara live. Of course. I have to face her now. I should just get it over with. I’m just worried about what she’s going to do. Her eyes shift back to their usual tint. “Just put your tail between your legs like the sub you are.” I roll my eyes. I knew her kindness would be short lived. She pulls into Heather’s drive, her shiny red Porsche already there.
I step out, clutching my book for dear life. Heather and Heather walk in, hand in hand, without hesitation. I stand by the Jeep, debating escaping right now. Veronica stands next to me. “I hate to say it, but Heather’s right. It’s not worth fighting.”
“What do I say, Veronica?” It’s almost a whisper, I’m so nervous.
She sighs heavily. “I imagine you have an advantage already.” She winks. I don’t react the way she wanted. “Tell her she’s right. Then go from there. And if she asks you to get on your knees and apologize, don’t worry. We’ve all done it.” She rolls her eyes, nudging me. “Come on. We’ll be there for you.” She starts walking into the house.
Taking a steadying breath, I follow. Inside, I immediately smell Mrs. Chandler. I would have immediately run, if Veronica wasn’t blocking the door. She nearly drags me into the living room. I see Heather speaking in low tones with her mother, Heather and Heather chatting nearby. I don’t even look at Heather, too afraid to look up with Mrs. Chandler there. I shield myself with my book, shifting behind Veronica.
“Come here, darling.” My heart jumps. Shakily breathing, I step cautiously over to her, still not looking up. She closes the distance between us, standing intimidatingly tall above me. Her hand reaches up, and I jerk violently back out of fear and habit. She sighs, grabbing my face anyway. “You’re a difficult one, aren’t you?” I blush harshly, refusing to meet her gaze. My scent is out fast and hard, against my own struggle to hold it back. I gulp as she sighs. “What are we going to do with you?” She hums to herself. She glances at Heather. “Why is it you won’t listen?” It doesn’t feel like a rhetorical question. I’m still too nervous to answer. “Look at me,” she commands. Against my own want, I finally look up at her. “Do you want to be a part of this pack?” My lip quivers as I nod. “Then some changes need to be made.” I feel like pissing myself. Why does she have to be so intimidating? “Can you do that?” I nod. “Good. Good.” She lets me go, and I run back to hide behind Veronica. “Ladies,” she sighs. “You know my suggestion. Do with that what you wish.” She leaves, but I’m no less relaxed. What did she suggest? I take a heavy breath and rest my forehead against Veronica’s shoulder blades. I clutch the back of her blouse, my mind trying to settle. I’ve messed up too many times. I could get kicked out of a pack. Dear God, that would hurt. Not only that, but what about my relationship with Heather? I can’t handle this. Veronica goes to move, but she’s my cover from anyone seeing me, so I pull her back in place.
“Gem,” I hear, a whisper. I sniffle in response. “Maybe…Maybe this was a mistake.” My heart cracks loudly, and I’m sure they can hear it. If not, they for sure heard my sob. I try to hold back, but a few tears fall. I’m too emotional for this right now. Veronica turns, wrapping her arms around me. Normally, I would pull away. But she’s so strong, so supportive. I cling to her, trying not to sob too hard. My book falls as I free my hands to grip her blouse. She won’t say anything. Just say something. Break my heart, hard and fast, right now, or tell me it wasn’t a mistake. Pick a side. I can’t stand this purgatory. “We can end this now, if that’s what you want.” There’s no malice or threat in her voice; she’s just stating the fact. I grip Veronica tighter. “Is that what you want?” I don’t bother answering. She already knows that’s not what I want. “Ladies?” Is she really putting this to a vote?
“That is the last thing I want,” Heather says quietly, her voice soft and quiet.
“Absolutely not,” Even Heather drops her snarky tone to say something nice.
Veronica pulls me back to wipe my eyes, kissing my forehead. “You belong here, with us,” she whispers.
Heartwarming, and all, but I’m still freaking out. “You need us.” Heather steps closer. “And we need you.” She comes to stand within arm’s reach. I refuse to look at her, not with my face all red and puffy. Veronica steps back, even though I try to stop her. “Come here,” she whispers. Without looking, I slowly reach her, burying my face into her shoulder and stiff hair. Her arms wrap protectively around me, and I realize just how much I truly do need her. In my ear, softly, she whispers, “I understand you. I do. Now you need to understand us.” I shiver, hands refusing to let go. “Trust us. Trust me.” She pulls back, holding my face. When I finally do look up at her, I can see her eyes are watery. “Can you do that?” I nod. “Good.” She pulls me back in, her scent my life source. “Good,” she whispers softly, almost too quiet for me to hear. After a few moments, she pulls back happily. “Let’s go get some pizza!” Veronica shouts happily out the door, Duke begrudgingly being yanked out the front door by Heather. When alone, she smiles softly. “My Chérubin…” she sighs.
“Pooka,” I whisper back.
Her smile grows. “I need you to be on my side.”
I nod. “I know. I know. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t—”
She kisses me cheek. “It’s ok.” When I smile at her, she winks. “But you’re not off the hook that easily.” She kisses me fully, tugging my lip back as she pulls away. She smiles, scheming, and leads out the door. The Jeep is waiting for us, Heather and Heather in the front. I’m grateful to escape the house. I breathe deeply, holding onto her. I’m too emotional and tired to hook onto her too much. I simply hold her hand and rest my head on her shoulder. I listen to McNamara sing softly to the radio, dancing a little, and Veronica humming along. It’s peaceful. Peaceful enough for Duke to smile and hold McNamara’s hand. I close my eyes, content for a moment. We pull up to the convenient store, the only place to get pizza in town. We cram into the only booth available, shoving down slices of greasy pepperoni pizza. Even the prissy Heathers munch away, enjoying the indulgence. Veronica and I happy eat away, used to greasy food. I’m sandwiched between Heather and Veronica, Heather’s hand dancing around the hem of my dress. All of them watch me intently.
“What?” I mumble.
“Are you really that scared of Heather’s mom?” Veronica asks through a mouthful of food.
I blush. “She’s intimidating. Just being in the same room makes me want to vomit.”
“She’s not that bad.”
“You’re not an omega.”
“How does she do that?”
Heather hums disapprovingly. “Years of practicing it. It’s annoying.” She pauses, brow furrowing. “Though, I’ve never seen anyone that scared.”
“Why can’t you be afraid of Heather like that?” Duke asks.
I roll my eyes. “Heather can’t crush me with one hand.”
“Actually, she can,” Veronica winks.
I blush so hard, I’m sure I’m redder than the pepperoni. And to make things worse, Heather just laughs it off. I try to stutter through an argument, but they start laughing at me. I end up just eating more, an excuse to ignore them. Heathers hand drifts further up my thigh, and I slap it away. Now I have no patience. The table quiets down again, them still staring at me.
“Seriously. What?” No one says anything. I laugh bitterly, looking down at my hands. I spin the gold band on my finger. “I don’t appreciate this.”
“Why? I bought you pizza,” Heather says nonchalantly.
I sigh heavily, impatient. “Please. Explain.”
Heather McNamara is the only one to meet my eyes. She grabs my hand. “We need to do some…bonding.” She blushes slightly.
Confused, I ask, “Why do you say it like that?”
She bites her lip. “It’s a little awkward.”
I take my hand away, pressing into the back of the booth. “How awkward?” She ducks her gaze, looking to the others for help. “What does that mean?” Again nothing. “I don’t understand.”
Veronica clears her throat. “Since you’re in heat…”
I laugh, shoving her out of the stall, wanting to run out the front door. I stand. “Woah. Woah. Oh my God!” I look at them all. “What the fuck?”
Veronica tries to shove me back in the booth, but I avoid her. “Keep it down, Jesus.”
I lean on the table, looking at them all. “I’m—I’m not having…sex with you.” I whisper loudly, trying to stay calm.
Heather blushes, reaching for me again. “You don’t have to have sex! You could, if you want! Or you can just…you know…”
I laugh, backing up. “Jesus. Tap-dancing. Christ.”
“Since you’re in heat, it’ll be easier for you. More comfortable. Most packs do it. It’s nothing weird.” Veronica finishes her statement from earlier, slowly getting closer to corner me into the booth.
“It sure as Hell is weird!” I look at Heather, my Heather. “You’re ok with this?”
She shrugs, her eyes cold. “It’s a natural thing. It means nothing.” She swallows, looking back at her pizza. “It’s fine.”
I’m dumbfounded. “Do I have to?”
“It’s for the best.”
Heather smiles, the sun she is. “We can go first.”
My mind flashes to the situation with her, and I blush. “That’s…No! You’re so…”
“So what?” She asks innocently. She rolls her eyes sweetly. “It can be cuddling. I love cuddling.”
“This is insane.”
“Just shut up and go with it. It needs to be done.” Duke gives me a look. “I’ll hate you a lot less afterwards.”
I finally sit back down, grasping my hair. “All of you?” I don’t bother looking up. “It is awkward.”
The sun across of me in the booth grabs my hands again. “We could try it as wolves if you want. But it’s more primal. And painful.”
I shake my head. “Whatever. Just…” I sigh, accepting my near fate. “Just tell me what to do.” I drop my head to my arms on the table, Heather’s hand gently rubbing my knee.
“If you want, you can stay at my place tonight.”
I glance up at her, her eyes soft and kind. I nod. “Ok, I guess. I’m not happy about this.”
“But it’s good for the pack. We do it quite often, actually.”
“Isn’t that weird? Like, you’re friends.”
“It’s strengthening the friendship.” She smiles even more. “Trust me. After doing it, even once, you’ll feel it. It’s good, for everyone.” Her smile, her face, her voice. It’s asking me to trust her. I know I should. It’s Heather, for Pete’s sake. It’s hard. I don’t want to hear that I need to be…like that with my newfound friends. I know she can hear my thoughts, they all can. I don’t really care. They can know why I feel this way. Her face softens even more, if that was even possible. “You can trust us.”
I hide my face again, sighing. “Let’s just…get it over with.”

Chapter Text

Heather breathes out a sigh, squeezing my hand. They move out of the booth, Veronica grabbing Duke’s half-eaten slice. I still cling to Chandler, unsure about this whole thing. She won’t really look at me, but she holds my hand nonetheless. After stopping at my house and giving a half-assed excused, Heather drops us off at McNamara’s place. I climb out of the car, Heather catching me once outside.
“Hey,” she pulls me close. Quiet, for only me to hear, “Don’t enjoy it too much.” She kisses me softly, Duke fake vomiting in the front seat. She squeezes my hand, then sends me off to walk with Heather to the front door. She’s all but skipping, she’s so excited.
“I love sleepovers!” She starts chattering away. I feel awkward, coming into her house, especially not knowing her parents. She tells me they don’t really care, and it’s not like we’ll be super loud or anything. She leads me up to her room, it just as yellow as she is. Her bed is a soft white, nothing dark in the entire room. It hurts. I like dull colors. She awkwardly stands by her vanity, ringing her hands together.
I chew my cheek. “So…uh…do we…?” I’m floundering. I need her help me out here.
She smiles softly. “We can go at whatever pace you want. And don’t feel pressured into anything.”
I laugh awkwardly. “That does help me much. I need direction.”
She holds out her arms. “Come here!” I approach, a little unsure. I do not like hugs. She’s also a little shorter than me, especially without heels. Her head rests against mine, breath calm, soft, and cool on my ear. Her scent of lemons settle in the room, instantly calming. I’m still nervous, but I feel better about the situation. She hums a song softly, my thoughts coming to a slow roll. I’m pleasantly surprised. Softly, she asks, “How are you?”
I sigh, pressing her tighter. “This is still weird. I don’t like this size balance. But I’m alright.”
She rubs her nose into the base of my neck. “Don’t think of it as gross sexual stuff.”
I cringe a little. “It’s hard. I’m in a one-track mindset right now.”
She pulls back, cupping my face. “We’re just friends. Right?” I nod. “And this is what wolves do.” I nod stiffly. Her face is stern. “Whatever happens is natural.”
I clench my jaw. “I’m just worried this will be awkward after.”
She smiles softly, nuzzling my face slightly. “Trust me, it won’t be. What happens here, stays here. Ok?”
“You make it sound like we’re going to have sex.”
Her innocent eyes gaze into mine. “We can if you want!”
I jerk back. “Woah. No. I do not want to.”
“Ok! We won’t.”
“So what do we do?”
She shrugs, pulling me back in. “Whatever. Cuddle, make out, of course there’s heavy petting, and—”
I chew my lip, interrupting her. “Cuddling is nice.”
She nods, backing up, pulling me with her. “We can do that.” Sitting on the bed, she backs up, laying flat against her pillows. She has a massive bed, enough space for more than three people. She pats the spot, smiling. I crawl in next to her, a respectable length away. She lays on her side, watching me. I blush harshly under her gaze. She’s being patient, and it’s incredibly helpful. I slowly shift closer to her, on my back. I just can’t stop thinking that it is weird, and that I’m cheating on Heather, and that this is wrong. She furrows her brow next to me. “You worry so much.”
I close my eyes, trying to just focus on her scent, and not the guilt building inside me. “I get that a lot.”
She scoots slightly closer, nearly touching me. “You have a nice accent.”
I huff slightly, a little surprised at the comment. “Thank you?”
Her hand finds mine. “It’s cute.” I try to keep calm, just listening to her voice and scent, and not the overly loud voices in my head. “Why are you worried?”
I laugh lightly. “You know why.”
“But you need to say it.” Her head slides onto my shoulder. Her hair smells like lemons, and I really want a lemon drop suddenly.
“I feel like this is wrong. Like I’m cheating on Heather.”
She sighs. “I understand.” She brings her arm across my midsection. I’m extremely tense. “What’s wrong with cuddling?”
I swallow, shifting a little under her, chewing my lip. “Nothing, I suppose.” I slowly relax a little, my free hand holding her hand on my midsection. “What is this doing?”
She presses a little closer to me. “Well. I don’t really know the science behind it. But it’s like emotional bonding.”
“What does it do?”
“There are these chemicals in your brain, like dopamine or whatever, that help you connect deeper with me. You’ll be able to control my voice in your head better and sense me more.”
“Sense?” I’m really just talking to having something to do.
“Like if I’m in trouble or something. Heather can do that naturally. She can pick up on certain scents easily. But Heather, Veronica and I can’t. If you were to be in trouble, Heather would be the only one to know.” My body is nearly entirely relaxed under her. Her scent and her voice are soothing. “After a lot of bonding, however, we can start sensing each other. I can sense Heather and Heather easily. Veronica is still in the works.”
“How far does the sensing go?” My eyes are closed, my voice almost sleepy.
“I can feel some of Heather and Heather’s intense emotions, like anger, fear, or pain. I can only sense if Veronica is in danger.”
I sigh deeply, fully at peace. “How often do you bond?” I ask, followed by a large yawn.
She giggles. “Hey, it’s not even night time yet.”
I open my eyes, squeezing her hand. “Sorry. I’m just really, really relaxed.”
She smiles, lifting her head to look at me. “I have that effect on people,” she grins. I can’t help but think about kissing her. My mind isn’t right, with all my hormones. If I had it my way, I’d be with Heather right now. But I’m not. I swallow, looking away. She’s just so cute, like a little puppy. She sits up slightly, hovering over me a bit. Her blonde curls fall onto my shoulder. Her eyes drift around my face, darkening slightly. “You are pushing out your scent pretty hard,” she whispers, almost like she’s out of breath, cocking her head slightly.
“Sorry,” I chuckle. I start to restrict it, but she shakes her head.
“Don’t apologize. It’s not your fault.” I watch her throat move as she swallows. “It’s just…intoxicating.” My world starts to narrow onto her. It’s nothing like when I’m with Heather, but all my brain can do now is think of dirty things. I hate it. I hate being in heat. This is just like it was in England. It takes everything in me to not kiss her. She starts to lean in. I tense, unsure. It takes her a moment, but she stops, eyes clearing for a moment. “I’m sorry. I told you we…would…” she trails off, her eyes darkening further and her lips parting. I wrap a hand around her neck, pulling her in. There’s the lemon drop I wanted. I really know I shouldn’t. I need to keep this image of Heather pure and clear in my mind. But I can hardly resist. She lets out a small squeak at the sudden contact, but quickly goes with it. I was in control of the situation, getting the element of surprise on her. But she easily regains dominance. It makes me miss Heather even more, not getting the same reaction from kissing. She breaks for a moment, eyes shining brightly. “This is different.”
I swallow, my body in pain from want more. “What do you mean?”
She smiles, her eyes steadily growing darker from my scent, almost dark grey. “I don’t get to be in control very often, if ever.”
I gulp, a hand coming to play with a strand of hair. “Happy to oblige,” I mumble. My scent is out stronger now, with the option there but nothing happening. She groans deeply. “You ok?” I ask.
She nods, shifting to straddle me. I tense, unsure. “Just not used to such a strong omega scent. I’m not sure how Heather’s stopped herself.”
I laugh lightly, my hands on her hips. “She’s too focused on making me suffer.”
She leans forward, face close to mine, lemony breath on my face. Her eyes are locked on my lips, her own caught between her teeth. She’s a breath away. My hands clutch to her, my body on fire. “You look like you’re in pain.”
My breathing is a bit labored. “I am.”
Her eyes flutter a bit, her nose brushing my cheek. “Why’s that?”
I hate that she makes me say it. Through clenched teeth and closed eyes, I arch a little into her. “Because I need to get laid, and that’s hard when you’re so cute.” She chuckles darkly. I groan loudly when she grazes her teeth on my cheekbone. “Veronica was wrong. This is very difficult since I’m in heat.”
Her hands drift up my sides. “What do you want?”
I try to keep my hands stuck on her hips. “You know what I want, Heather,” I hiss. “I just don’t want to regret anything.” She chuckles again, placing a soft kiss on my cheek. Her hands dip under the hem of my dress slightly. My breathing hitches. “This isn’t cheating on Heather, right?” She nods, her lips now drifting over my neck. “We’re just friends.” She nods again, hands creeping further upwards. “Jesus, Heather. You’re such a jellybean.”
She giggles into my neck. “What is that supposed to mean?”
I try to form the thought, but I lose the words. She kisses down my neck, her hands gaining ground up my dress. “I’m so hot,” I breathe. I shove her off briefly, sitting up. I start ripping the dress over my head. I blush at my exposure but pull her in before I can think too much about it. She happily giggles into the kiss, her scent rushing out. I think of Heather the entire time, which is sad, but how can I not? At some point, she loses her blazer and skirt as well. She stays on top, no matter how hard I try to flip her over. She’s absolutely stronger than she looks. Now that she has a taste of being in control, she doesn’t want to give it up. She even restricts my hands to above my head. She’s not rough by any means, not even biting, which is slightly disappointing. But at this point, I’ll take what I can get. It does help the pain subside, at least some contact. She also doesn’t push more than heavy making out and touching non-sensitive areas, which I appreciate but hate.
When she stops, she is breathing heavily, face flushed, a new tint in her eye I haven’t seen in a while. Her lips are swollen, eyes lidded. “That was so nice…” She seems to be done, but I can’t be. My scent rushes out harder, trying even more to pull her back in. I sit up with her, latching onto her neck when she avoids my lips. She giggles, hands gently stroking my hair. “Heather was right.”
“About what?” I mumble, gnawing on her ear.
“You are very needy right now.”
I grumble, keeping that in mind for Heather later. “Just shut up.”
She happily obliges, rubbing into the base of my neck while I kiss hers. “You’re turn,” she says.
“My turn what?”
She giggles, her eyes crinkling with the grin. “To scent me! That’s what this is all about.”
I take a minute to stop to scent her, which I hadn’t done before. When finished, I feel much more relaxed, almost exhausted. I fall back, hands in my hair. I close my eyes. She giggles. “Cuddle time!” She lays nearly on top of me. “Who gets to be the big spoon?” I hardly respond, just barely rolling onto my side. She’s almost giddy. “I get to the be the big spoon for once!” Her arms quickly snaking around me.
“Heather,” I whisper. “You’re so small.” She hums in response, having to adjust a couple times to get a good position to hug me from behind. I loop my fingers through hers, holding her close to my back. “Heather?”
“Yes?”
“Can you sing to me? I don’t care what song.”
She presses a soft kiss into the back of my neck, and I shiver. “Of course.” She starts humming, then singing. I drift to sleep, being little-spooned by someone way too small, and her softly singing to me.
In the morning, hers is the first voice I hear. She even sings in her sleep. We ended up shifting in the night, me now the big spoon. She seems to be running through a cheer routine in her head, probably dreaming about it. I can follow her thoughts easily, her mind calm and quiet. I close my eyes, just listening. I can hear the other two that are usually there firing quickly, probably awake at this point. It’s like tuning a radio. I could always hear Heather, but now its clearer and with less crackle between thoughts. I then think of Heather, if she’s awake yet. I try calling to her. Nothing. After a bit, the yellow spring bean in front of me wakes up. She rolls over lazily, grinning.
“Good morning!” she sings. She sits up, all energy. “Time for pancakes!” She races to get dressed and down the stairs.
I sigh, laying in her bed. I do feel guilty. I hate myself. I’m so horny, I made out with the sweetest thing in my life. I shudder. The worst part is that I need more. Not necessarily of her, but more of it. I hate Heather right now, for depriving me. I better get something before we go running, or I’m going to be all over everyone. Sitting up, I start getting dressed. I can’t help but run through the events. Cuddling was fine. No reason to be guilty. But when you start kissing, things get messy. At least she wasn’t judgmental or rush me. I don’t know I can say the same for the others. I smell pancakes frying, and I poke down the stairs. She’s in the kitchen, bright and shiny, with entirely too much energy for just waking up.
She studies me as I hover. I swallow. “What?”
She tilts her head to the side, her hair now in a high ponytail. “I need to teach you how to silence or slow your thoughts.” There’s no malice or contempt in her words, but I blush nonetheless.
“Look—”
She shakes her head, handing me a glass of water. “It’s fine. I understand. But the others might not.” She smiles broadly, flipping the pancakes. “I love pancakes!” She hums happily.
“What did Mrs. Chandler suggest?” I nearly say it too quietly for her to hear.
She peeks shyly at me. “What do you expect from an alpha like her? Aggressive marking, denied submissions, more fights…” She pauses, giving me another glance. “She also mentioned something about training you, but I didn’t catch it all.”
I bite my lip. “And what does Heather think?” My voice is shaky, my nerves on fire.
She sighs heavily, sliding me a pancake. “That’s a conversation for you and her to have.”
I start shoving the pancake in my mouth. “Heather. Help me out here. I can’t stand being denied submission. Do you know how painful it is?”
She bounces nervously, starting to eat her own pancake. “I shouldn’t tell you.” She glances up to me, but I can tell she’s going to anyway. “At first, she hated the idea.” I groan, putting my forehead on the table. “If bonding doesn’t work…”
“I’m fucked?”
“Yeah.”
“Heather!” I whine. “I can’t do this.”
She pats my hand. “You’ll be fine.”
“Oh God, are you going to fight me tonight?”
She lowers her gaze. “Again, I shouldn’t tell you. But it depends on how you are today.”
“So if I don’t piss her off, I’ll be ok?”
She nods. “Probably.” When I whine again, she nudges me. “Come on. Let’s get ready. Heather will be here any minute.” I follow her, allowing her to fix my outfit and hair. I passively wait, wondering what Heather will expect of me when I have to bond with her. She suddenly talks through a mouthful of toothpaste. “She’ll probably just want to sleep in the same bed. She’s not very touchy.”
“Yeah, I can tell.” I hear a honk outside, and Heather grabs her bag.
“Ready?” I nod, following her out of the house. Heather sits patiently in the Jeep, tapping along to the song on the radio. I slide into the backseat, quiet.
“How’d it go?” Heather asks Heather.
Heather shrugs. “I think it went well!” She glances back at me. “It helped, right?” I nod, shrugging.
“Was she complaining the whole time?”
“Hey!” I snap. “I’m not the one that complains! You—”
“Guys, please.”
We glare at each other, but quiet. “Ok, mom,” Duke sneers. The drive to school is quiet, the song echoing from McNamara’s head and the radio.
We pull in next to the red Porsche, Heather and Veronica waiting patiently outside. I fling out of the Jeep, collide with Heather, and kiss her fervently. Day one of full heat, started. She chuckles softly and pushes against me, but not too hard, probably enjoying my extreme display of affection. I groan quietly, relishing the silence in my head and the happiness in my chest. My heat is now in full effect, and I need some form of relief, even if it’s just this, at least to push it off till later.
She finally gets away, laughing. “Hello to you too.” I hum my response as I kiss her face instead. I hold her like I’m going to fly into space. I think she forces her scent to calm me, because I grow slightly tired and give up, nuzzling into her neck instead. It’s nice to be hugging someone taller than me again. She takes a deep breath, body relaxing slightly, arm lopping around me. “How did it go?”
I don’t bother to answer, just breathing in her scent. Heather instead answers coyly. “You mean you weren’t listening?”
I can almost hear the eye roll in her voice. “I’m not a creep, Heather.”
She giggles lightly. “It was good. It was tough at first, but she relaxed eventually.”
I pull back from the home that is Heather to glare at Veronica. “You were wrong. Very wrong. That was painful.”
She furrows her brow. “What do you mean? Are you ok? Heather, did you hurt her?”
I bury back into Heather. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“She called me a jellybean,” Heather giggles.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Veronica laughs.
“I call things I love ‘beans.’ Heather’s a jellybean. You know, sweet, flavorful, juicy.” I blush, hugging Heather tighter. “That sounded bad, but you know what I mean.” Heather kisses my temple softly. “Jesus Christ,” I groan into her neck.
“But it worked? At least a little?” Heather asks, gently stroking my hair. I could fall asleep right here.
“I can hear her a lot better, more clearly. I’m not really sure about emotions.” She hums, thinking. “Maybe we can try tonight.”
I tense. “I don’t want to get my ass beat.”
Heather giggles. “No, I mean see if being a wolf helps.”
Heather starts to shift under me, and I clutch her tighter. “Nope, nope.”
“We have to go inside.”
“Nope. We can stay right here.”
She sighs, easily pushing me off now. She grabs my hand, backing towards school. She winks. “You’ll be fine.”
I allow myself to be dragged into school, clinging closely to her. I tug her back quickly. “Scent me first. Heather’s isn’t strong enough.” In reality, I just want to feel her close to me again. She complies but does it quickly. I whine at her absence, then walk into the school behind the others. They part to their lockers, and I stop by mine.
“So you’re mates with a girl.”
I don’t even look up at Lucas. “Yeah.”
He’s incredibly close. “You could have told me.”
I blush slightly. “It’s a little embarrassing. She’s not really my ideal mate.”
“Not only that, but you don’t seem to be entirely against it. You made it seem like you didn’t want to be in the relationship. That she was holding you back. No. You don’t want to date me.”
I glare up at him, his own eyes angry. “First of all, you have no idea what you are talking about. I—”
“Do you even like me?”
“Of course but—”
“Then leave her!”
“It’s not—”
“You are your own person.”
“Lucas—” He was advancing on me with each phrase. I shrunk with each step, shielding myself from him.
“This is ridiculous.”
I’m fully panicking, and I try to keep my scent in. I need help. He’s exerting his dominance over me, so much so I’m considering submitting to get him to go away. I’m trying to form some words to get away, my mind reeling. Cherries rapidly fill my nose, red covering Lucas from my vision.
“It appears you don’t know when to stop,” she mutters.
I place a hand at the small of her back. “It appears you don’t know how to be a good person, let alone a good mate.” I sniffle slightly.
“You’re the one who is harassing Gemma.”
“You’re the one isolating her.”
She takes a pause, the air stiff. I see the claws poke out a little on the hands on her hips. She laughs. “You’re done.”
He takes a step closer, but she stands firm. “Please. You don’t scare me.”
I hear heels, Veronica the first to join the confrontation. She puts a hand on his shoulder. “Heather, everything alright?”
She cocks her head to the side. “This trash is just starting to smell.” Normally, I would laugh at how juvenile that comment is.
Veronica pushes him back, towering over him. He sighs. “Fine,” he says. “Fuck you guys.” He storms off.
I sigh heavily, leaning into Heather. “Thank you.”
“What’s his damage?”
Letting her go so she can look at me, I say, “He’s upset that I won’t date him. That’s all.”
“Asshole,” Veronica mutters.
“Speaking of assholes,” Heather mutters, her hands gently cupping my face, worry in her eyes.
Veronica smiles, kissing her boyfriend. I’d yet to see him in person. His slick hair hung around his eyes, a long black trench coat his main fashion statement. He reeks of cigarette smoke, and not because of his natural scent, which reminds me of black licorice. He wraps an arm around her, and they start making out.
I gaze up at Heather. “Is that what we look like?”
She chuckles quietly. “No. It’s not that gross.”
While Veronica is preoccupied and Heather and Heather were flirting with Kurt and Ram, I lean up to whisper in her ear. “Mon paix,” I earn the smallest, quietest groan in response. “You made me a promise.”
I see a slight flush of pink under her porcelain powder in her face. “That I did,” she purrs.
“I intend to cash in that promise.” I push out just enough of my scent for her to smell, grinning when she struggles.
She lets out a strained sigh. “We do have a few minutes after school.”
“How about lunch?”
“Patience is a virtue.”
“One I do not have right now.”
She goes to kiss me, then dodges for a kiss on the cheek. The bell rings, and I playfully slap her arm. I catch up with Heather on the way to calc. She gives me a weird look. “What do you want?”
“You said you would hate me less after we bonded.” She rolls her eyes. “What exactly are we going to do?”
“Sleep in the same room. I don’t want you touching me. Not with you in heat.”
“Why won’t you hate me?”
She pulls me aside before entering the classroom. For once her eyes soften. “I don’t hate you anyway. I was a bit jealous with Lucas, but I realize he’s an ass.” She looks at the floor. “You’re good for Heather. I can’t hate you when you do so well with her.” When she looks back up, her eyes harden. “Besides, I can’t hate you when you’re in the pack anyway. It’s hard with your scent.” With that, she walks into class.
During math, I can’t really focus. Heather’s singing is too loud now in my head to listen to the teacher. I try, I really do, but I can’t help but jam out with her. I start singing back, correcting her as she messes up the words. She’ll jump back then, correcting herself. It’s a little fun actually. Like karaoke, but we have different lyrics. The only thing is that I can hardly hear anyone else in comparison. It gets crazy when she’s still singing but starts talking at the same time. She’s starts a conversation, but my brain cannot comprehend her voice in so many manners. She stops when I don’t reciprocate. She goes back to singing.
At lunch, I keep an eye out for Lucas, lucky enough to escape quickly to safety. I immediately grab Heather’s hand under the table, nervously bouncing my leg.
Duke shoves some lettuce in her mouth. “Chill. You’re hurting my brain.”
I barely register, just searching the room. Heather squeezes my hand but keeps eating. Heather scrunches her brow across the table. “How do you think so quickly?”
Again, I don’t register. My anxiety levels are through the roof. I finally spot him, hidden by a massive group of football boys. His eyes connect with mine across the lunch room. I know I should be happy to see him suffer, but this weird inner need arises to save him. I let go of Heather’s hand, my thoughts skidding to a halt, and I stand.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Heather snaps, grabbing my wrist. I furrow my brow, still locked on his gaze. “Sit your ass down.” I go to say something but decided to just get over to him. I don’t think about much of anything else. “Hey. Gemma.” She huffs. “Omega,” her alpha voice pokes through lightly. I shiver but take a step anyway.
“Heather, I…” McNamara stares intently at me. “I…” she cocks her head to the side. “It’s quiet,” she mumbles.
“What? What are you talking about?” Heather tightens her grip on my wrist, the other hand joining to pull me down. I stand tall, the need growing.
“It’s like…like she no longer…is…thinking.”
“Quit being a pillowcase, Heather. I know she’s not thinking anymore, look at her.”
“I’m serious. Listen. Her mind is blank.”
Cherries and roses rush into my nose. I know I should listen to Heather. I should. But I just need to help him. Heather sighs angrily. “Sit the fuck down.” I try to take another step towards him. “I’m not going to say it again.” I don’t really hear the words before she punches my gut lightly and yanks me down to sit. I cough, turning it into a deep growl, but still maintain eye contact with him. He smirks a little, ignoring the guys around him. I feel a hand clamp around the side of my throat, claw poking into my neck slightly. The pain draws me back a bit, but I’m too focused. “Look at me.” She says it again, with her alpha voice. “Look. At. Me.” She drives the claw up enough for a bead of blood to form underneath it. After a second of pain, my eyes snap into her crazed silver ones.
My brain seems to start pumping again, a rush of thoughts entering my brain. “Ow,” McNamara mutters quietly. I want to pass out.
I stare up at Heather, confused and exhausted suddenly. “What?”
“What the fuck do you mean, ‘what?’”
I take a deep breath, holding onto her hand on my throat. My head is pounding, too much at once. McNamara lays her head down. “Heather?” I ask softly. I’m a little frightened.
Her face is still angry, nostrils even flaring a little. “What now?”
Heather whines into the table. “It hurts.”
“Is she thinking again?” she hisses. Heather nods.
“What do you mean, thinking?” I ask quietly, glancing at the others for help here. “I don’t understand what’s happening.”
“Yeah, I don’t either, dipshit. What are you doing?”
“Uh?” I furrow my brow. “I’m not really sure? I’m eating I guess.”
Heather pops her head up. “What just happened in the last couple of minutes?”
Still looking at the crazy grey eyes, I shake my head as much as her claw will allow. “I…I don’t know.” I swallow, trying to keep calm. “I sat down. And Heather made a comment. And I was holding Heather’s hand. And now you’re threatening me.”
“What the Hell?” Veronica asks.
“What do you smell?” Heather asks, refusing to let me go.
“Uhm.” I breathe deeply. “I smell blueberries and lemons and—”
“Outside the pack.”
I shake my head. “I’m not…Nothing? You’re kind of pushing out really hard right now.”
“Do you smell cigarette smoke?”
“What? I mean. I did earlier with J.D.”
“Not now?” I shake my head. “That was the only time?”
“Lucas smells like a bonfire, but that’s not really the same.” She scans my face. “Heather, can you let me go? I’m getting blood on my shirt.” After a second, she slowly lets go, and I quickly grab my napkin to wipe up the blood.
Heather looks at Heather. “Her brain is working?” Heather nods. She looks back at me. “Look at Lucas. Right now.”
“Heather, I don’t—”
She slaps me upside the head. “Now.”
I look to the others, but they all just watch on. Huffing, I chew my lip, looking around. “Where is he?” Heather sighs, grabbing my face to direct me towards a large group of football boys. I can see Lucas staring up at them, shrugging off their threats. With my cheeks scrunched by Heather’s hand, I raise my eyebrows. “Ok…?”
“She’s fine,” Heather shrugs.
Heather sighs, letting me go. She angrily eats some grapes. I grab her hand. “I don’t understand what’s happening.”
“I know,” she grunts. “That’s what pisses me off.”
We all look up when a fight breaks out between the boys and Lucas. He gets hit a couple times, them all ganging up on him, before the coach steps in. Lucas is carted off, casting one last look my way.
“Heather?” Heather says quietly, looking at me.
“What?” She snaps.
“What was she looking at right then?”
“What do you think? Lucas.”
Heather squints her eyes. “Eye contact?”
Heather shrugs. “Yeah?”
“Kiss her.”
We both give her a quizzical look. “Why?”
She glances at Heather. “Trust me?”
Heather gives me a quick kiss on my lips. “There.” I blush, eating now, clenching my legs together. Heather laughs slightly. “Spit it out, Heather.”
She cocks her head to the side. “It’s weird. Her mind stops when you kiss. Right?” I offer a shrug and a nod. “Do you remember what happens?” I nod again, confused. She smiles like she’s won the science fair. “She’s having the same reaction to eye contact with Lucas.”
All of us, “What?”
“Heather, you’re insane.”
“I’m serious. Her mind is like…an overwhelmed machine gun. And when you kiss, it slows enough to focus on you. Common for mates, right? But when she looks at Lucas, it’s like that but extremely worse. Her mind slows so hard and fast that she can’t think, can’t remember.”
“So what? She’s got two mates?”
Heather’s face scrunches as she thinks. Eventually, she shakes her head. “No. It’s natural with you. Like…Like…” she struggles, then shakes her head. “Now, it felt forced, painful. Foreign.”
I blush and shift uncomfortably. “I’m sorry?” I apologize to the group.
Heather chews a yellow nail. “I wonder if it’s the same type of thing with those cigarettes.”
Heather shakes her head. “She remembered the last time.”
Heather nods. “I think it’s way stronger than the cigarettes.”
Duke sits up suddenly. “Oh my God. Heather, your dad has that weird special thing, right?”
“Yeah. And?”
“What if he’s like that?”
The table quiets, except for the sound of me munching nervously on chips and Veronica eating some tomatoes. Neither of us know what they are talking about. Eventually Heather speaks up. “Heather, you know those are rare.”
“So? How else are we going to explain this?”
“Um, she’s horny and in love with him?”
“I am not in love with him,” I defend.
Heather taps her chin. “I want to test it.”
“I don’t.”
She glances down at me. “He’s going to corner you anyway. We’ll see then.” I steal one of her grapes. “But tonight…”
I snap my gaze up at her. “What about tonight?”
She points to Heather. “Quality time.”
Duke sneers. “If it’s all the same to you, we’re going to take a nap before running, and that will be good enough.”
I nod, eager for less time with her. “Perfect.” Heather watches me, her anger now gone. She takes my hand, kissing it. I groan, shaking slightly. “Why do you do this?”
She smiles. “It’s fun to watch.”
The bell eventually rings, and I pull Heather to walk behind the group with me. “I’m sorry. About Lucas.” She doesn’t look at me. “Heather, I’m serious. I didn’t mean to, I don’t think.” She stops with me by my locker. I nearly start crying, worried, emotional. “Please don’t punish me,” I whisper.
She finally looks at me, face neutral. “What makes you think that I was going to?”
I follow her to her locker. “Heather told me what your mom suggested. And that you partially agreed.”
She meets my eyes, leading towards class. “And?”
“And? I’m scared to get my ass kicked tonight.”
She shrugs. “If it happens, it happens.”
“Jesus, Heather. You’re torturing me already. Don’t make me panic all day.”
She smirks, stopping outside of class. “But why? Torturing you is the best.” With that, she turns on her heel and walks into class.
The good thing about McNamara’s newly increased volume is that I can more easily ignore Heather’s dirty thoughts about me. Instead of imagining her naked, I can sing along to the Beatles. She must notice my listening, as she starts singing louder and more songs I like. I make it through the day thinking about the Beatles and not about Heather, thankful for the help during heat. After class, I wait patiently for Heather, not seeing her. I just wait by my locker, flipping through my poetry book while I wait. I even try to find McNamara by listening, but for the first time in a while, her singing is too quiet to pinpoint. I call out for Heather, any of them, but get no replies. Should I just walk home? I sigh, after waiting for several minutes. Of course. Why would I expect them to tell me if they went somewhere without me? I close my book, resigning to the walk home. I turn, smacking into someone’s chest.
“Oh! I’m sorry,” I exclaim. I look up into Lucas’ blue eyes, and I stop breathing for a moment.
“It’s alright,” he smiles. His face is slightly bruised, and I feel instantly bad for him. “It’s not that bad,” he says like a guy trying to act tough. I clutch my book to my chest, wondering where the Hell Heather is when I need her. I drop my gaze, debating if I should stay or go. “Finally out from under her thumb for a moment?”
I chew my cheek, shrugging. “I mean…I—” I look up, and God. Damn. What a gorgeous boy. My heart flutters, hurting a little as it pounds. I smile, getting lost in the oceans of his eyes.
“I’m guessing she’s the one that sent the boys after me?” He shoves his hands in his pockets, casually holding his own poetry book under his arm.
“I’m not sure.”
“But it’s a safe bet.” I nod. He grins, and I blush a little. Why does he have to be so freaking cute?
“Sorry about that. She’s a little…intense.”
He nods. “I heard the rumors. About the pack you took on. That’s insane.”
I giggle, tucking some hair behind my ear. “Yeah, it was. I don’t really remember it.”
“That’s probably ok. It seems that it was pretty traumatic. I heard she was a bit touchy afterword.” I drop my gaze, realizing how hot my face has gotten under his gaze. “Are you busy tonight?” Am I? “Want to get some pizza?”
I giggle flirtatiously, about to answer, when, like a radio being cranked up, I hear Heather’s singing growing louder and louder. I’m busy tonight. That’s right. I shrug. “We run as a pack—” I look back up at him, stopping my phrase. Heather won’t be that mad if I miss the pack time tonight, right? “You know? I would love some pizza.”
He grins, blushing slightly. “Really? That’s great.”
I smile back, excited for a date. “Yeah! When?”
“Does right now work?”
I nod eagerly. “Absolutely.”
“Great. I’m parked out here.” He offers his hand. I stare at it, wanting to take it. Instead of the nice radio turning up for the singing, which I am now ignoring, there’s a mix of voices in my head. It hurts, as they are almost screaming in volume.
I clutch my head. “Oh God,” I breathe, leaning back against the lockers. “Ow!”
He rests a hand on my shoulder. “Are you ok? What’s wrong?”
I can think of one thing as I stare at the floor, stars forming. “I just have a headache suddenly. I need…I need to go to the bathroom. I’ll just call you?” I don’t wait for him to answer, and I race to the bathroom as quickly as possible. It’s like an extremely harsh migraine. I vomit into the toilet. The voices only get louder, and I can’t hear myself at all. I think I let out a scream as I crumble on the stall floor, but I can’t hear it. Tears fall. This sucks. What the Hell is happening?
I’m in a fetal position when I hear a soft cooing of my name. The voices slowly quiet, but not enough. I try to stick to my name, but it’s difficult. I catch scents of the pack. They’re here. They’re ok. I’m ok. Everything will be ok. My breathing slows. Dear God. It still hurts, but it’s quieting down. Finally, I follow the voice calling my name. Safe. Warm. Calm.
“Open the door,” someone softly calls.
I sniffle. Eventually, I reach up and unlock the stall. The door swings open, and Veronica scoops me into her arms, bridal style. I tense, loosing track of the soft voice. I start to cry again, getting scared. I feel the cold counter underneath my butt as she sets me down, small cool hands on my face, wiping my tears and supporting me.
“Look at me.” I shake my head. Everything hurts. Singing is all I can hear now, some Creedence Clearwater Revival song she’s getting the lyrics wrong to again. I start correcting her with my own singing. She’s calming me, essentially. My mind slows. Finally, I open my eyes into a set of grey concerned ones. “Good,” she whispers.
“Heather,” I sigh, closing them again. “Learn the lyrics for that song already.”
She giggles, holding my hand. The Heather in front of me, still holding me, quietly asks, “What do you remember?”
I swallow, burying my face into her cherry-scented hair. “What?” I ask weakly.
“What do you remember after waiting for us at your locker?”
What do I remember? Why would I not remember? “I remember…reading poetry. And wondering where you were. And going to walk home. I ran into Lucas and apologized. And…” I sigh deeply, clutching her blazer. “I remember wondering what I was doing tonight. And where you were. And…pizza?” I sniffle into her shoulder, feeling bad for getting her nice blazer wet. “I’m sorry,” I breathe. I pull back, wiping my face. They all are pale, looking slightly spent.
“I was right. Eye contact.”
“What are you talking about?” I whisper, debating falling asleep in Heather’s arms.
“You remember what you talked about when you looked at the ground.”
I shake my head, it drooping slightly. I yawn, eyes closed again. “Can…Can we just go? Please?”
Heather shakes her head. “You can hardly stay awake.”
I start shifting my butt off the counter. I pat her hands. “I’ll be fine.”
She sighs, rolling her eyes. “Ronnie? Do you mind?”
Before I touch the floor in my campaign to prove her wrong, I’m swept up again like a bride once more. “Hold on to me, Honey.”
I snort at the name. “Pet names now?” I wrap my arm around her neck, the other tracing the buttons on her blazer. “We are moving so quickly.” My eyes close, her scent reminding me of eating candy as a child. She shushes me, the Heathers rushing ahead. I hum softly the song McNamara is singing in her head. There’s a wall of heat when we walk outside. I shift upwards in her arms. “You’re such a strong fava bean.”
She snorts. “A what?”
I crack open my eyes to see her hair lighter in the afternoon sun. She’s hardly breaking a sweat. I hear a car door open. “A fava bean. They’re like…beans. You know.” I can’t really form the thought.
She shakes her head, starting maneuver me into the backseat of the Jeep. “Whatever,” she laughs. I eventually lay flat, closing my eyes. The door behind my head opens, and my head is lifted into her lap. The car starts moving. “What kind of bean is Heather?”
I hum. “Which one?”
“Duke.”
“That’s easy. She’s a snappy spring bean.” I feel myself overly relaxed in her touch.
“Why?”
“Because. She snaps back, and no matter what you do, she springs back. Like the bean she is.”
“What about Heather Chandler?”
I furrow my brow, her hand running through my hair. “I’m not sure.” I hum, thinking. “She’s difficult.” I think I fall asleep, humming to myself. I wake up to Veronica dropping my head. She pulls me gently out of the car. “I can walk,” I sigh.
“No,” she laughs. “You can’t.” She carries me easily into the house. I tense, snapping awake when I smell Mrs. Chandler.
I struggle slightly against her. “Put me down, put me down!”
She shushes me again, her scent attempting to do the same. “You’re ok, you’re ok.”
We get into Heather’s bedroom. Veronica drops me gently on the bed. I hum, instantly calming in her familiar scent. “Mocha bean.”
“What?” Veronica laughs, pulling some blankets up to my torso.
“Heather. A mocha bean.”
“Why, Honey?” I feel weight next to me in the bed.
“She’s…you know. Strong. Warming. A requirement for a healthy morning.”
I hear laughter, proudly smiling to myself. I curl into the body next to me, the scent refreshing, and the warmth needed. I feel arms wrap around me, so I turn and take advantage, nuzzle into their neck. The body tenses. I finally recognize the scent—minty. “Ah,” I sigh. “A springy bean.”
I fall asleep immediately after finishing the words. I drift in and out, a mix between singing songs and thoughts of books invade my brain. I can’t remember if I love or hate Moby Dick. I feel a poking in my side at some point. “Wake up, sleepyhead!” I groan, snuggling deeper into the body below me to avoid waking up. “We need to go.”
I crack my eyes open, my head hurting like a hangover. “Oh my God,” I groan. “How much did I drink? Jesus Christ…” Heather goes to move under me, but I hold her in place. I’m not ready to move. Wait. This isn’t my Heather. I’m on Heather Duke. I yelp, sitting up quickly, jumping off her. “Sorry, Heather,” I mumble.
She rolls her eyes, pulling me back to her. I resist, wondering what’s going on. “We’re not done yet, dipshit.”
I rub my eyes. “Done with what?” I remain firm.
“Bonding. Jesus, did you eat a brain tumor for breakfast?” She sits up. “Scenting, and then we’re done.”
Hesitantly, I scoot towards her. I forgot about this. She pulls me into a hug, rubbing her nose on me. I shiver, her proximity making me a little nervous. She finishes quickly, shoving her hair to one side for me to scent her. At least mine is weak. It’s easily masked. I scent her, tensely gripping the sheets. I collapse back against the bed. “Can’t we just sleep?”
“Nope. We need to go running.” Heather stands, adjusting her clothes. I just breathe in the scents in the room, a nice mixture. “Get up.”
I sigh but sit up to stand. I stare down at Heather’s yellow flipflops and yellow toes. When I look up at her, she’s entirely too concerned. “What’s wrong, Heather?” I stand, wobbling a little. She’s really pale. “Are you ok?”
“This might sound weird…But you have some scary dreams.”
I raise my eyebrows, digging for my athletic clothes in my bag. “You watched my dreams? You can do that?”
She giggles softly. “No, silly.” Her face falls. “You talk in your sleep.”
I blush, heading for the bathroom to change. “That bad, huh?”
Through the door, I can hear her still talking. She hums, an unsure sound. “Maybe it’s best we don’t talk about it.” After I change, I come back out. She doesn’t meet my gaze.
“Why?”
She bites her lip. “It was about a couple of guys.”
I feel myself pale, naturally glancing at Heather sitting at her vanity. I clench my jaw. “Huh,” is all I can say.
Heather approaches cautiously, wrapping her arms around me. She whispers in my ear, “I’m so sorry.”
I allow it for a minute, then push her away. I hate pity parties. “Let’s just go before it gets too late.” I leave out the bedroom door before I cry. They eventually join me outside. Inside my head, music and books fight for dominance. I let the sun warm my face, the slight scent of mint dancing around my nose. It’s not bad, a nice mild scent. I stretch, a little bit of headache forming. I feel a hand clasp around mine, and I pop my eyes open. I expect anyone but Duke, but here she is, brown eyes bright and smile on her lips. I want to rip my hand away but force myself to be nice to her. I look at our hands.
She brings my chin up with a finger. She smiles again. No words exchanged. But there’s a form of peace between us. Something I haven’t felt since meeting her. I get the overwhelming urge to kiss her, but I remind myself that Heather is in range and I’m just horny. She stares for a second longer, then gets in the Jeep. I follow shortly behind, Veronica holding the door for me. I’m sandwiched between Veronica and Heather McNamara, both attempting to hold my hands, which I politely refuse.
I want to sleep still, so I rest my head against the back of the seat, counting how many words Duke got wrong to the opening of “The Grapes of Wrath.” It’s calming, something so easy and stupid. The drive is longer than usual. I eventually let them hold my hands. When I glance at them, I see pity.
“Stop it,” I mumble.
“Stop what?” Heather asks.
“Stop looking at me like that. Heather did enough of it then.”
Veronica wraps an arm around me, holding me tight. “What’s a fava bean?”
I laugh. “Why?”
“You called me a strong fava bean earlier, when you were half asleep.”
“A fava bean is known in some places as being a horse bean. It’s hardy, strong, resilient.” I shrug. “I’m sorry if it’s weird.”
She chuckles. “It’s cute.” I shift so I’m snuggled under her arm over my front, my back to her side, eyes drifting closed again. “Don’t fall asleep.”
“What did you guys do to me?”
“What?”
“In the bathroom. It felt like screaming in my head.”
They all are quiet for a moment. “We didn’t do anything,” Heather Chandler says quietly.
“Really? God, it was loud. Like you were having a competition who could be louder.”
“Who won?” she asked coyly.
I hum, toying with Veronica’s hand, relaxed with her arm holding me tight. “I’m not sure. Heather at first, but then Heather later, getting those lyrics wrong.” I take a peek at her, smiling.
We finally stop, me half-way asleep against Veronica. Stepping out, I get nervous. Duke gives me a look. “What’s wrong with you?”
“It’s just…been a while, that’s all.”
She squints her eyes. “Sure.” I’m extremely worried I’ll do something stupid while I’m in heat. I’ve been holding it in, getting some relief here and there. But its been a while, and my mind is racing with thoughts I shouldn’t have. Duke’s eyes widen. “Jesus, Heather, you were right. Her thoughts are so fast.”
“It hurts a little, doesn’t it?”
Heather nods, them all stripping. Chandler gives me a weird look. She waves me on. I take her arm, leading her a little away from the others. “I’m worried I’ll…you know…”
Her smile grows evilly as I blush. “No, I don’t know.” She cocks her head innocently, eyes gleaming with amusement.
I grit my teeth. I glance over my shoulder, leaning in. “What if I start humping everything in sight?”
She throws her head back in a quick laugh. “Then you’ll look like a horny idiot.”
I sigh. “This is your fault.”
She grins. “Yes, it is.” She fake pouts. “Are you mad at me?”
I roll my eyes. “We need to have a nice long talk after this.”
I go to walk away, but she grabs me roughly, spinning me back into her close quarters. Purring in my ear, “We won’t be doing much talking.”
“Jesus Christ, Heather.” I try to kiss her, but she denies me.
She finally lets me go, keeping her eyes on me as she strips. I look away anyway, taking my usual hiding spot to change and shift. It’s a little painful, shifting. I’m still getting used to the size change. After changing, I prance out, excited to start playing with Heather. When I look at her, she stares at me intently. Usually, McNamara is always excited. Right now, she’s too focused. I tense. Great. What’s going to happen now? I let out a small wine, going to lick her muzzle. As I go, a large body slams into mine.

Chapter Text

I yelp, the pain hitting my ribs hard. A bit angry, a lot scared, I snap down, get a hard bite into their side. I get the upper hand, on top, but I quickly lose it, the pain too harsh in my side. It’s Veronica, snarling harshly and snapping at me. I snap back, too scared to fight any more. She goes for my anyway, even as I back pedal. Damn it, Veronica. More frustrated than anything now, I nip at her legs, not meaning to do much harm to not make her angry. She misses most of her hard hits, me dodging easily. I decide just to roll over. I expose my neck, whine, and wait. Screw it. I’m not doing this. After several terrifying minutes of her snarling over me, Chandler barks, and Veronica backs down. I don’t move, scared there’s more. Chandler paws the ground in front of her, beckoning me over. I whine, needing Veronica to do something with my submission. Eventually, with me begging, she comes over, laying a quick lick, and lays down next to Heather Duke.
I roll back up, padding over to Chandler. She blinks at me, licking my snout before looking over at Heather McNamara. Chandler’s chest rumbles with a deep growl, and I drop to my stomach, gazing up at her. I don’t really know what’s happening, but whatever. As long as I’m not getting bit. I rest my head on my paws, waiting patiently. I feel a nose nudge me, Veronica bouncing playfully next to me. I look up at Chandler, who simply blinks. I sigh. I’m not really wanting to play with her now, since she just tried to fight me. Cautiously, unsure, I follow her to a small clearing. She barks happily, rolling around. After a few hesitant moves, I start playing with her fully, barking along with her. My mind is oddly quiet, only a few whispers here and there that I can’t place. I tire quickly, after the fight, nearly falling asleep at her feet.
Heather McNamara eventually barks, standing. I watch her, not caring to follow. She and Duke nuzzle each other and trot off together. Maybe that’s what being in heat will be like when I get used to it. The singing returns, and so does the references to books. I take a quick nap while they go, tired. Veronica lightly licks my wounds. I try to move away from her, but she holds me down, adding a growl for good measure. Chandler just sits, quiet, eyes on me. I sigh. I’m not really hungry tonight, so hopefully I don’t have to hunt too hard.
Chandler wakes me up with a deep bark, standing. I follow, a little shakily. She trots off, not even looking back to see if I’m following. We get to a hunting spot, and she lays down, grunting. I huff, trotting off to find something to eat. There’re not many deer, and very few bucks. I can’t really spot any that’ll feed us all. Instead, I catch two small ones. I drag one to Chandler, then get the second one, for Veronica and the others. I tear open the deer for Chandler, then clean myself while I wait.
I pick up my head suddenly. My ears perk. Chandler growls lightly, munching slowly. I whine softly, standing. I know that scent. It smells like bonfires. It’s close. It’s Lucas. Lucas? What is he doing here? I start following the scent. Chandler barks. I sit immediately, but I’m anxious now. I can’t really communication fully with her yet, and Duke and McNamara feel like distant memories with how quiet they are. I pad the ground uncomfortably. The scent is growing stronger with each passing moment. I stand again, whining loudly. How can they not smell it?
I look at her, begging her. This communication problem sucks. I start screaming at Heather and Heather, hoping someone hears me. After taking a few steps, Chandler stands, towering above me. I should sit, but I don’t. Please understand me. She just blinks at me. The scent increases harshly. I start moving towards it. She barks at me, obviously angry. I hear an incredibly loud growl, a warning. I keep moving.
I suddenly hear McNamara like she’s right in front of me, speaking softly to me. “Stop.” I whimper, slowing. “Stop moving.” I stop. “Sit.” I drop my butt. Chandler stops next to me, growling. I look towards the scent, not bothering with her. She keeps repeating the words to me, until I see the two trotting towards us. It’s quiet again, save for the whispers. The scent is so close I can taste it. I whine, impatient. I need to find him. I stand. Instantly, Heather says, “Sit.” I drop my butt again. There’s some unknown conversation going on amongst the others. Eventually, Chandler stands, huffing heavily. She starts walking. I stand, about to follow. McNamara barks, sitting. “Stay.” I growl but sit anyway. Fine. If that’s what they want. Chandler, Duke, and Veronica make their way over towards the scent.
Once over the hill, McNamara lays down, licking her paws gently. Several minutes pass, but McNamara is unconcerned. The scent suddenly switches directions, almost behind us now. I whine, turning towards it. Heather howls, then stands, widening her stance to cover me a bit. She growls slightly, worried. I hear heavy paws coming towards us. Eventually, blending into the night, a large dark wolf pokes its head out, blue eyes shining brightly. It growls. It’s Lucas, if my guess on the distance of the scent is correct. Heather growls louder, almost snapping. He gets closer, crouched low to pounce.
When I see him rock back to get momentum, there’s one thought in my mind. I’m sure I would have screamed it, with how adamant I was, and I was hoping others would hear it. It’s an odd thought, but it’s what happened. Not my Jelly Bean. I slip under Heather, covering her vitals from him as he lunges. Why is he attacking us? Who knows. Honestly, right now, I don’t care. You can’t go after my pack like that, and Heather of all people. I collide with him just before his mouth can reach her. He instead clamps on me, deep into my back, tossing me around a bit. It hurts like Hell, but I would gladly do it again for her. Heather howls louder, deeper this time. How far away can Heather really be?
At this point, I’m losing consciousness. I’m losing blood, fast. He’s tearing into me, no mercy in sight. I need Heather soon. Jesus, he’s vicious. Is he that mad that I’m not into him? Heather tries to fight him, but he quickly takes care of her. I stand, taking all of my energy to cover her now-unconscious body. I growl. Not my Jelly Bean.
I nearly howl in happiness when I smell Heather’s approach. His muzzle is close to me, a clear threat that I cannot fight anymore against. Chandler’s massive red body collides into him, jaw tearing into him easily. Duke is on us in an instant. I shift, allowing her access to Heather. I see Veronica trying to help, but she gets tossed around so easily as well. I get up, despite Duke whining at me. I run, with everything I have. I know I can’t hit him anywhere important, but I can do enough to distract him for Heather. I slide under him, clamping on his underbelly, tearing what I can with me as I slide out the other side. It’s stupid. For sure. It’s dangerous. It’s putting myself in danger. But at least if I die, I will be avenged. I get a huge amount out of him. Nothing lethal, but he howls in pain quickly. As he does, Chandler takes the opportunity. Duke suddenly stands, latching onto his side. He gets thick bite onto her neck but lets go in a howl of pain. I don’t see much, as I hear him howl again, and clamp onto his back leg. At least I’ll weigh him down for the time being. I have such great battle commentary. I feel myself slipping back into unconscious territory. My jaw slips off his leg, and I fall unconscious, hearing Chandler let out a long, angry howl.
I wake up briefly near the Jeep. I see the tires, and a bunch of blood. I hear heavy breathing and grunts, like someone lifting something. I move my head towards the sound see a pair of small white bare feet, accentuated by red nails. I huff, letting her know I was there. She stalls, then collapses next to me on the dirt road. “Hey,” she breathes, smiling softly. She’s bloodied, her hair flat against her head, wounds nasty along her body. I move ever so slightly to lick them. “You are an idiot, Chérubin.” I close my eyes, the only word formable in my mind for her to even possibly hear is Pooka. She pets me for a moment, then goes back to what she was doing. I can hear her try to convince Heather Duke to move. Duke whines, but eventually I hear claws clambering into the back seat. My breathing is labored as I wait patiently. Next, she tries to get Veronica in to the passenger seat, nearly begging without begging per se. She gets Heather in without a hitch, only having to slap her awake and order her into the seat beside Heather. She kneels next to me again, lifting my head. “Come on, Chérubin. Get up,” she says softly. I whine and whimper, relying heavily on her, but eventually I stand enough to crawl into the Jeep. She pushes my butt until I get far enough, then closes the door. She eventually crawls into the driver’s side, wearing merely a tank-top and short athletic shorts. I use all the energy I have to get my head into her lap as she drives, gently licking her thigh to comfort her.
I wake up again to her gently trying to tug me out of the car by my butt. I growl lightly, just wanting to sleep. Why does this always happen? I eventually fall ungracefully out of the car, hitting the ground with a thud. “Come on,” she gently calls, tugging on my fur. “Just get inside, and it’ll all be ok.” I whimper. She groans, frustrated. “Everyone else is inside. Just stand up, and we can go to sleep again.” I whimper some more, allowing her to heft me up. Nearly being carried, we eventually get up the stairs. Veronica seems to be the only one even remotely conscious. She greets me, licking me all over. I follow her, collapsing into the dogpile in the middle of Heather’s room.
The next time I wake up, a strong hand is on my chest. “This needs to stop, Heather.”
Weakly, next to me, she sighs. “I know. I don’t know what happened.”
I growl, going to snap at the hand. I’m too slow, and another hand holds my head to the floor. It’s dark in the room, still night. “You’re lucky the kid isn’t dead.”
“We were defending ourselves.”
“To the point of hospitalization?”
“Look what he did to us!”
The hand on my chest is removed. “We’ll figure this out when everyone is awake.” A sigh. “You’re too lucky. Every time, you manage to survive.”
“Dad, can we just do this later?”
A sigh. “Sure, sweetheart.”
Another sigh, a face presses into my back, hands gripping my fur tightly from behind. A deep breath. “Why are you so stupid?”
I fall asleep, waking up gently. I sneeze, sitting up. I’m in a lot of pain, but I sit up regardless. I look, eventually finding Chandler on her bed. I whine, louder than I should, and creep over to her. Once over to the bed, I see Veronica and Duke chatting with her, wolf Heather asleep sandwiched amongst them. They look over at me, attempting to get on the bed. After failing a couple of times, and getting a few pity laughs and growling in response, I get up. I groan, my head landing on the first person I see, which happens to be Duke. She tenses but pets me anyway. I close my eyes, listening slightly to their conversation.
A head rests on my chest. “We’re all beans, huh?” Veronica asks, laughing lightly. I huff quietly, not bothering to even move. Another hand finds my fur. A heavy sigh. “What is his problem?”
I nuzzle a bit more into Duke’s hand. “He’s just psycho.”
My tail thumps lightly as someone scratches behind my ear. “What do we do?”
“Kick his ass again.”
“He took us all on, easily.”
“We weren’t together for half of it.” I growl slightly, agreeing. I find a wound on Heather’s arm, licking it gently. “He tricked us.” When I’m about to fall asleep again, even snoring slightly, I feel Heather shift. I snap awake, shoving everyone off me, crawling towards her to lick her muzzle. Her eyes are dull, but she licks me gently back. My sunshine, my light, my Jelly Bean. I feel horrible about the situation. I should have protected her better. That’s my job. Defend these girls with my life, and I failed. I’ve failed her. I whimper softly, into her. She closes her eyes, sighing. After a few minutes, me ignoring the others for the time being, she stands and walks to the bathroom. She comes out, walking a little like she’s drunk. I watch her, crawling over to her when she lays down.
She starts petting me, and if wolves could purr, I would. “Hey,” she says quietly, eyes closed as she lays flat on the bed. “Hey.” I whimper more into her. Forgive me. Forgive me for failing. You should never get hurt. You’re too sweet, too perfect. I should die before you get hurt. My thoughts are racing with regret, begging for forgiveness. She wraps an arm around me, resting her head on me. She shushes, cuddling into me. “It’s ok,” she whispers, humming slightly, her breathing slowing.
“Heather? What happened?”
She snuggles deeper into my side, me drifting off to sleep slightly. “We waited. And he showed up behind us.” She sniffles, and I think she’s crying. I turn slightly, licking her cheek. Don’t cry Jelly Bean. Now I feel worse. “He was aggressive already. I wanted to protect her…I did.” Another sniff, another lick. She looks into my eyes. “She doesn’t know how to step down and let someone else fight.” I shift a little, huffing. I start whining loudly, really wanting to argue with her. A hand on my head from behind and a rush of scent calms me back down to nearly sleeping again with a groan. “I don’t really remember after that,” she sighs.
“You were out when we got there.” After a few moments, I stand. “Hey!” I slide off the bed ungracefully, hitting the floor once more with a thud, and walk unsteadily to the bathroom. “You shouldn’t change yet, you aren’t healed.” I growl lightly in response, shifting in the bathroom. I somehow get clothes on but collapse against the wall as I try to leave.
A knock at the door. “You ok, Honey?”
“Mm. I just…come in here?” I sigh, lifting myself to sit on the toilet. The door opens slowly, and Veronica pokes her head in. I reach out my hands. “Be a Fava Bean and help me.”
She smiles slightly, helping me up. I struggle to stand, so she just carries me to bed. She lays my down gently next to Heather and Heather, my back to Chandler. I glance at Heather’s baby blues before closing my eyes. I sigh, my hand looping into hers. “Aw,” Veronica says softly. “Look at them. Sweet little babes.”
I groan slightly. “If I had the energy…”
A hand starts stroking my hair, and I curl into it. I hear Heather’s breathing slowing, and I think she’s fully asleep. “You can go to sleep, Gem.”
My heart flutters at the nickname. “I don’t…deserve…sleep.” I struggle but get it out between yawns.
“What do you mean? Of course you do. You need to heal.”
The hand slowly strokes through my hair, massaging my scalp. “Just sleep.”
I shake my head. “I can’t.” I feel a tear slip out, and I open my eyes to study Heather’s peaceful face as she sleeps. “Look what happened to her.” I close my eyes again. “The Jelly Bean. My Jelly Bean. A Jelly Bean doesn’t deserve this.”
Heather is pushing her scent on me trying to get me to sleep. I fight it with everything I have. “It’s ok, just sleep.”
I jerk out of her touch. “No.”
“This isn’t your fault.”
“Maybe not. But I couldn’t defend her. That’s my job.”
“You did defend her.”
“Not well enough.” I sniff, scooting away from her, turning away. I end up right in Heather’s lap. “I don’t deserve a bean like her.” The hand digs into my hair, cherries and roses the only thing I can smell now. I feel my tears on her bare legs under me. She shushes me, but I cry gently into her. “I ruin everything. Everyone close to me gets hurt.” A hand starts rubbing my back. I cry, eventually crying myself to sleep.
I jolt awake, sitting up slightly. My heart is pounding, sweat fresh on my brow. I must have had a nightmare. It’s still dark outside, but the sun might be peeking out of the horizon. I sit up fully now, wiping my brow. I don’t remember what my nightmare was about, but I don’t want to think about it. I sigh, rubbing my face. A hand finds my back. I jump violently, stirring Heather a bit next to me. I turn, finding Heather gazing up at me, her hand making circles on my back. She pulls me back down with a hand on my stomach. I lay on my back, trying to calm from her scent. She rubs my stomach, her eyes on my face. She doesn’t speak, thank goodness. I stare at the ceiling, trying to calm enough to sleep again. Cuddling closer into me, I can’t help but wrap an arm around her. I fall asleep at some point, pleasantly dreaming of a red wolf with silver eyes.
It’s fully bright with the sun hurting my eyes when I wake up again. There’s a head on my stomach and a head on my shoulder. I want to move but can’t bring myself to make them wake up. I hear Veronica snoring nearby. My scent is strong, and I’m not bothering to hold it in. It’s not very smart, but I’m too tired already. My mind snaps to school, and I realize I could be late. I sigh. How am I going to do this? I decide to not care and stay still until someone else wakes up. Eventually, there’s a pinch on my butt and snicker on my shoulder.
I gulp, trying not to yelp. Of course. Heather is torturing me more. She looks up at me, sitting up slightly, her eyes bright with amusement. Winking, she pinches again. I try to stop her with my free hand, but she avoids it. The sad thing is, I want more. She knows I want more, but I can’t move or make a sound without waking at least Heather up, maybe the other two. I grip her shoulder, digging my nails in to help my struggle. I just pray someone wakes up to help me. Another pinch, harsher, and I throw my head back, squeezing my eyes shut. She snickers quietly again, leaning in to kiss my cheek. Screw it. I actively push out my scent now, all but verbally begging her. If they wake up, I can have the excuse of not being able to control my scent right now. A small sigh, and I look over at her. Her eyes are dark, focused, yearning. Come on. Please.
Her face shifts. My scent did its job. “Heather, move,” she snaps, nudging Heather McNamara on my stomach. She groans, rolling over, off me. Heather herself shifts off the bed, silently walking into the bathroom. She turns to me, cocking an eyebrow. I try to climb off the bed silently as well, not as gracefully, but successful. She closes the door behind me.
I move to kiss her, her hand coming to stop me gently. I groan. “Heather…”
She sighs, my scent doing its job on her, pulling her further and further in. “How much longer?” she mutters, running her finger down my face, neck, into the dip in my shirt, giving her a full view if she wanted it.
I gulp, my hands itching to touch her. “The worst should be done by tonight.”
She steps slightly closer, touching my nose with hers. “I’m not sure if I want to…relieve you or not.”
I raise my hand to touch her, and she pushes it down. “Torturing me has to get boring.”
She smirks. “You have no clue how entertaining it really is.” She kisses my cheekbone lightly. I shake under her hold.
“You want me to beg or something?”
She bites her lip, again pushing me back when I go to kiss her. “Now that would be nice.”
“But?”
“But I’m not too keen on that with our friends in the same room.”
I groan lightly. “Give me something, Pooka.”
She smiles, eyes trailing lower and lower. “What will you give me in return?”
I press further into her, to kiss her cheek. “I’m no good at talking dirty.”
She chuckles lightly, allowing the kiss. She places a hand on my hip and a hand on my chest. “We can decide later.” She backs me up against the sink counter.
I kiss her cheek again, a little sloppier, hands flying to her hips. “Deal.”
Her lips find mine. Dear Lord, the kiss is the best feeling in the world. All I can taste, smell, hear, feel is her. I don’t even care that we’re in her bathroom, friends sleeping in the next room. I don’t care that she’s been evil, denying me so much. I don’t care about Lucas, about school, about getting hurt. The world is right again the second we collide, and I could stay here forever. The kiss is soft at the beginning, gentle. But I deepen it, needing more. She lets out a tiny gasp as I push against her, but she easily gains control again. “Tonight,” she breaks between kisses to speak, “you’re with Ronnie.”
I groan, clawing into the exposed skin on her shoulders. “Can’t I just wait for her? I want you.” Her lips drift around my neck and face. She chuckles, then bites me harshly behind the ear. I gasp, dropping my head into her shoulder.
“Is that another sweet spot?”
“It’ll be no fun. I won’t be in heat tomorrow night.”
She hums, licking the length of my neck. “Trust me, it’ll be fun.”
“Promise?”
She chuckles again into my neck. “You have no faith in me.”
“Oh, on the contrary, mon paix. You’ve promised me something before and failed to delivery.”
She pulls back, glaring into me. “We had more important things to do.”
I roughly kiss her, then take my turn of gnawing on her neck. “Not in my mind.”
She drifts her hands up my old t-shirt, grazing the skin of my stomach. “I’m a little offended.” I wince slightly, a small and pained gasp escaping my lips. She quickly withdraws, worried. “What? What’s wrong?”
“Just sore,” I mumble, before bringing back the old conversation. “If that means you’ll be a bit rougher with me, I’ll offend you again.”
She drags her nails down thighs, avoiding my recent wounds. I gasp, letting go of her neck, collapsing a bit against her. “Be careful what you wish for, Kitten.”
My legs actually give out this time. I use her to hoist myself onto the counter. I yank her closer, my forehead resting against her shoulder. “Hindsight is twenty-twenty. I’ll deal with it then.” A hand drifts around to my back, leaving a trail of harsh nail marks from tip to tip of the spine. I arch into, hissing at the pain and ignoring the wounds she grazed. The other goes into my hair, tugging it lightly, forcing me to look at her. Her eyes are nearly black, they are so dark, yet bright. I wrap my arms around her neck, trying to get her as close as possible. “Please…” I whisper.
Narrowing her eyes a bit, she smiles slyly. “Perhaps…”
I grit my teeth, kissing her face. “I swear to God, Heather—”
“Perhaps we can before you go with Ronnie tonight.”
“I need more than a ‘perhaps,’ Heather.”
She scratches her nails down my sides, earning a loud moan that she quickly covers with a kiss. “‘Perhaps’ is all you’re going to get.” A nibble on my ear, and I nearly scream, I gasp so loudly. Her hand quickly covers my mouth. My eyes roll back. “Jesus,” she mutters. “Keep it down.” I pant into her hand, whining softly. “We’ll see if you earn it by the end of the day.”
I want to cry, I’m so frustrated. I grope at her shirt, trying to keep her close. She lets me go. “Heather, please.”
She smiles evilly, grabbing the door handle. “Come on. Let’s get some breakfast.”
I remain planted on the counter, flushed and flustered. “I wanted you for breakfast.”
She laughs quietly, “And you said you weren’t good at talking dirty.” I fan myself, trying to cool down. I need to let her have a piece of my mind when I’m not focused on one thing. I start plotting, as I quietly follow her downstairs, about denying her when she’s in heat. I quickly ignore that. Her scent alone right now can draw me in. I can’t imagine what it will be like when she actually wants to do it. I hear her greet her parents in the kitchen, and I mentally and emotionally brace myself.
Walking in, just a brief moment of eye contact with Mrs. Chandler, and I back out of the room. I’m not dealing with her, especially after I made out with her daughter. Heather follows, dragging me gently back into the room. She stands in the doorway, raising her eyebrows out me.
“Good morning,” I squeak at them, reddening and looking at the ground.
A sip of coffee. “Good morning, dear.” My chest tightens. Why does her mother have to be so intimidating? But at the same time, I swell when she speaks to me. I don’t understand why. I shift my weight awkwardly, realizing my scent is doing its own thing. I suck it in as much as I can, creeping towards the other exit. She stands. I jump back into Heather’s chest, scent back out to protect myself. “I’ve heard you’ve had trouble with a certain young man.” I try to hide my face, nodding weakly. She takes a few steps closer, and my heart is jumping out of my chest. I smell the others approaching, and I start to feel slightly better. They enter, and I’m hoping the focus will shift away from me. Oh, how wishful I am. “Heather, honey.” Heather McNamara looks up at her expectantly. “Give me a hand?” Heather nods eagerly. Mrs. Chandler approaches me, forcing me to look up at her with two fingers under my chin. “Look at me.” I finally make eye contact with her. I bite my lip and dance nervously, like a child that needs to wee. Her scent hits me like a wall, and I feel like vomiting. Jesus, woman. Her eyes drift around my face, then snap into mine.
My vision narrows. I realize her eyes are like Heather’s—grey and gorgeous. Her scent invades my system, and not in the nice way that Heather’s does. I swallow, stilling. My mind slows, from all the fearful thoughts I’m having to her eyes. Her grip on my face falls, but I gaze up at her. The last remnants of scents and thoughts are kicked out by her. I calm, as much as I can, my breathing slow and scent under control. Her brow furrows, stare intensifying. Invading the thoughts of her is a small whispering need to bring her an egg. She must really need an egg. Eggs are nice. She’s nice. I’ll get her an egg. I raise my eyebrows. Eggs. She needs an egg. I take a step towards the fridge while still looking at her, waiting for a sign, then start digging into her fridge for an egg. Maybe she wants multiple eggs. No. Just one. One is good. One egg is nice. I browse the options, choosing the nicest egg possible. I stand, walking over to her.
I hold up the egg. But when I look at it, it’s not an egg. It’s an apple. What? She doesn’t want an apple. She wants an egg. I set it on the counter and grab another egg. I hold it up again, proud. Again, it’s an apple. I hear a sigh. Oh, no. She’s frustrated with me. Angry. Eggs. I fly through their fridge, grabbing every egg I see. Finally, after many tries, I hold up an egg for her, and it stays an egg. She smiles, ever so slightly. I preen. She’s happy. I’ve made my alpha happy. My alpha. Grey eyes. Must be. My alpha likes eggs? Ok. I’ll find every egg for her. She takes the egg. I stare into her eyes, waiting obediently. “Very good,” she purrs. My heart flutters, my knees weakening, the smallest gasp escaping.
Her gaze moves to the egg. Scents hit my nose. I hear breathing. I see all the random objects on the counter, and Mrs. Chandler holding an egg. Heather McNamara stares intently. Dear God, I’ve made a mess of Mrs. Chandler’s kitchen. I mutter an apology, then start shoving all the objects back in the fridge. I stand in front of her again, watching her examine the egg. My alpha? No. Heather is. Where’s Heather? I look back and see her watching quietly, no emotion on her face. I breathe, calm. She’s here. I’m ok. Mrs. Chandler’s scent hits my nose. My heart starts racing. I let out a small squeak, ducking back to hide behind Heather.
“Interesting,” Mr. Chandler mumbles into his coffee.
“Indeed. Heather?”
Heather McNamara shakes her head, staring at me. “Uhm…?”
“What do you remember?” Heather asks me.
I clutch her shirt, wanting to sprint out of the house. “I…I don’t understand.”
“You walked into the kitchen. Then what?” She holds me in place.
I shake my head. I stare into her eyes. Eggs? I bite my lip. “You like eggs,” I whisper, my brow furrowing. “I need to get you an egg.”
“What?”
I break out of her grasp. “I—I need to get you eggs.” I fly through the fridge. “Where are the eggs?”
“Right there. Right in front of you.”
“I don’t see any eggs.” I start to panic. “Oh my God. I can’t…” I jump up, looking at her. “I’ll go to the store. You need an egg.” I start walking out the room. “Eggs are nice. You need an egg. I’ll go get some.”
I feel a strong hand on my arm, pulling me back. “Sit down, Honey.”
I look up at Veronica, confused. “But…Heather…?”
My brain hurts. It’s shifting through weird files, trying to make sense of the situation. “Heather what?”
“Uh. I—I…” I clutch my head, sitting. “I don’t know.” I look over at her, meeting her eyes. “Eggs. She needs eggs.” Veronica pushes me back down before I can stand, hand remaining firmly on my shoulder.
“Mother,” Heather says quietly.
“It’ll wear off,” she waves her hand standing over me.
I refuse to look at her. Veronica squats down in front of me. “What do you remember after walking into the kitchen?” she asks quietly.
I shrug. “Mrs. Chandler and Mr. Chandler at the table. And…” I sigh. “Eggs?” I look at Heather, rushing to stand up. “I need to get Heather eggs!”
Veronica pulls me back down. She slides me a plate of food. “Eat,” she says sternly, both hands now tightly gripping my shoulders.
I give her a confused look, but gratefully start eating. “Heather?” Mrs. Chandler says.
“Her brain slowed when you were looking at her. But more than it should for a scent. And she’s getting the two of you confused. It’s the eyes, she thinks,” she mutters.
I look up at her. “What are you talking about, Heather? Are you ok?”
She offers a small smile. “The only thing her brain was capable of understanding during that time was eggs. That’s why she thought everything in the fridge was an egg.” She sighs. “It wore off slightly after she grabbed an item, because she wasn’t looking at you, and that’s when she realized it was the wrong thing.”
I perk my head up. “Eggs?” I mumble. I look up at Mrs. Chandler. “Eggs.” Her grey eyes stare back at me. I go to stand but Veronica makes me sit and pushes my head towards the plate. I continue eating.
“She thought for a moment that Mrs. Chandler was her alpha. Her brain is getting things really confused.”
Mrs. Chandler leans on the table. “That gets rid of one theory.” She shakes her head. “It wasn’t my scent. She reacted how she always does to my scent.”
I get a little irritated. Why are they talking about me like this? I’m right here. I want to make a comment, but I’m too nervous to look up. Anytime I stop eating, Veronica snaps her fingers and makes me keep eating.
She sighs, as her husband asks, “How could a beta have that much power? The kid surely can’t have the same level of control that you have.”
“Surely not. And he doesn’t smoke. How indeed.”
I glance at Heather, leaning in the doorway, face stone. I glance up at Mrs. Chandler. “Who are we talking about?”
When I meet her gaze, I think about eggs, oddly. Oh, there’s some on my plate. I happily eat them. I hope Heather has some. “Lucas.”
I lower my fork. “Why?”
“We’re figuring out why you freak out around him,” Duke mumbles.
“I don’t freak out around him.” I sip the cup of water that appeared in front of me. “He’s a nice guy, that’s all.”
Duke lets out a bitter laugh. “Nice?”
I shrug. “Yeah. I mean, he likes poetry and football and—”
“He kicked our asses!” Chandler shouts, advancing on me.
I jumped back a bit. “What? When?”
“Last night, dipshit,” Duke sneers.
I look around at them all. “I don’t understand.”
“Jesus,” Veronica sighs. “What is going on?”
“How can you not remember?”
I sigh. “I remember eating. And then I remember getting in the Jeep.”
“You don’t remember fighting?” Heather McNamara approaches cautiously, reaching for my hand. “You don’t remember him at all?”
“I…” I shake my head. “No. I remember everyone hurt,” I offer, hoping that is enough.
Mrs. Chandler shifts, and I jump, standing. “It can’t be just him. There has to be something assisting the process. Otherwise, she would remember the fight.”
“Right. And her thoughts were normal, as normal as they could be during that time.”
“I heard it too. She knew who it was, who we were, everything.”
I hide a little behind Veronica, thankful for her height. Veronica sighs. “How did you do it, Mrs. Chandler?”

Chapter Text

She sighs, walking around. She gently pushes Veronica to the side. I start to back up, to run, but she grabs my face. She guides my eyes up to her face. I cringe, extremely nervous. “Anyone can do this to an omega, if taught properly. Eye contact,” she mumbles when I look away. “An omega will naturally want to connect with an alpha, or any higher level for that matter, if the situation arises or it’s necessary. She won’t know what’s happening.” I really, really want to look away. What is going on? “A defense mechanism, so to speak.” She drops her hand from my face, her voice soft, low, soothing. “Allow her to use your scent to calm, let them know you aren’t a threat. That you are dominant. You will protect them. They have nothing to fear.” Even though she is terrifying, I have to admit, her scent is calming. “She’ll begin to hyper-focus on you, ignore everything and everyone else in the area. Obviously dangerous is some situations.” I shift slightly closer to her. “She’ll start to crave you, rely on you. If the connection breaks at this point, she’ll yearn for more, often whining at the absence.” She strokes my cheek gently, and I curl into it, sighing softly. “There’s a point at which she’ll become nearly too dependent on you. Any normal omega would understand the point has been reached, backing out of it, just enough to let the higher know.” She furrows her brow. “For some reason, she can’t. She knows the point has been reached. She knows she’s in too deep. But she can’t snap out of it.” I hardly hear her at this point. I’m too enveloped in her eyes, craving contact. “When she starts craving you, it doesn’t matter if she’s in your pack or not—she’ll understand your needs, your wants. If left unchecked, she could dive through your deepest desires—sexual, emotional, physical, anything. I just happened to choose the need for an egg.” I swallow, eyes fluttering slightly, but gaze remaining. “She’ll have an overwhelming urge to satisfy that need, whatever it may be, whether or not she might want to or have the means to.” I feel like passing out, wavering slightly on my feet. Her voice is soft, soothing, peaceful. “It’s dangerous for an omega to reach the level of connection she is in right now, especially if the higher isn’t sure how to break it. Breaking it inappropriately or getting too absorbed yourself could cause pain or discomfort for both parties. Even now, I’ve gone far enough that I have an overwhelming urge to have sex.” I blush harshly but remain still. “I now understand her. A connection this deep is emotionally and physically taxing, especially on the omega. Just look at her—pale, unsteady, hardly staying awake. Once I break this, she will pass out. Waking up, she might feel depressed, empty, abandoned. Even though she never wants to be around me, she’ll have an intense need to be near me for a while. I can almost guarantee she’ll feel depressed after this.” She waves someone over. “She’s assuming me her alpha, most likely due to my extreme display of dominance over her and the connection lasting as it has.” She brushes some hair back behind my ear, my head suddenly heavy, and I grab onto her to stay upright. “Somehow, that young man was able to do that from across a room.” She tilts her head, my eyes becoming heavily lidded. “Or perhaps it’s her, connecting with him on her own accord.” She gently holds my face, and I feel some arms wrap around me. “Good girl,” she coos. “Now sleep.” Like a switch, I’m out.
I wake up, head in someone’s lap, hand in my hair, soft couch under me. I sigh, opening my eyes slightly. I look around the room, unsure of where I am or who I’m with. My body feels numb. My eyes have a hard time focusing, so I close them again and allow the scents to guide me. After picking out each one, and focusing on the scents alone, the pack and Mrs. and Mr. Chandler are here. I tense slightly, but I’m too tired to panic just yet. I curl into the hand stroking my hair, smiling softly.
“Is she awake?” People sound like they’re underwater. I’m not sure who it is.
“Yeah. Although I’m not sure if she’s ok.” A soft hand holds my face gently.
“Now, girls. Watch her reaction.”
Reaction to what? My brain is so slow right now. Mrs. Chandler’s scent suddenly disappears, sucked clean out of the room and out of me. My chest hurts, and I let out a weak but long, pained groan, it raises in octaves to hit a high-pitched whine, near that of submission level. I don’t know why it hurts me so much, when I usually love to be away from her, but I start to stir, clutching into myself. I need to find it. I’m empty without it. I pry my eyes open, trying to sit up on my elbows. A hand on my chest holds me down.
“That’s insane.”
“It’s easier for members of the same pack. It took me a lot of energy, time, and focus to loop her in. I can’t imagine how he can do it to her. From what I hear, it was instantaneous in the lunch room.”
“Can you do that to anyone?”
“Not really. Any higher level can connect with any omega, but it’s incredibly difficult to connect with any higher than an omega, betas being nearly impossible.”
I still at her voice. At least she’s here. My body is lead, which is worse than numb. Now it hurts. My head starts pounding. I start sniffling. “What’s wrong?” someone asks. I don’t really comprehend, and tears start falling down my face. Am I crying? A thumb wipes my tears.
I struggle out, “My alpha. She needs an egg.” I try to sit up again. “I need to get eggs.”
“How long before this is out of her mind?” Irritation.
A sigh. “Most often, they don’t disappear until the need is fulfilled. For something that I made up, it’ll go away with a few hours of not thinking of it.”
I cry heavily and openly, not bothering to hide my tears. I want to move, but I hurt. My lip quivers as I say, “Eggs.” I get my eyes partially open, the world spinning. “Did I get drunk?” A chuckle. “I feel like I drank a bottle of Vodka or something.” I sob for a minute. “I’m in pain,” I whine.
Shushing. Then, “It’s ok. You didn’t drink.”
I focus on the red-haired face above me, it spinning around viciously. “Then what happened?”
“We’ll talk about it later. Just rest.”
I groan, getting my limbs to move a little. I start shifting to sit up. “I—I’m tired of resting.” I push the hands away trying to keep me still. I sob as I sit up. I wail quietly, “I need some stupid eggs.”
A heavy sigh. “Jesus Christ.” A giant rush of cherries and roses hit my nose, and I pass out again against some legs.
I wake up again, jumping slightly. My face feels sticky and slightly wet. I wipe at my face, wondering why I was crying. I sit up, my gaze falling on Veronica, who’s holding my feet in her lap. “Sorry,” I mumble, shifting so they’re off her. She smiles softly. I realize I’m taking up the whole couch. My sleep-fogged brain finally gets me shifted to the center of the couch. A hand on my back, and I sigh, leaning sideways against the back of the couch. “Why am I thinking about eggs so much?”
A chuckle from across the room. I struggle but lift my head to look up. I see Mrs. Chandler sitting in an arm chair, sipping coffee or tea. I yelp, climbing over the back of the couch, hiding behind it. “Come here, darling.” I whimper softly to myself, scared, mostly because I really want to. “It’ll help.” I poke my head over the couch, looking at her for signs of malice or otherwise evil intent. Seeing only a level gaze, I slowly step over to her. “Sit.” Like a dog, against my own pride, I sit on the floor at her feet, resting against the chair, hugging my knees. I calm, her scent the forefront of my mind. I close my eyes. Why am I relaxed by her?
“I need that,” Heather mumbles.
“When she has some energy, we can practice. All of you.” A pause. “Only if you use it appropriately. It’s taxing, and if used too often or not done properly, it can hurt you, your relationship, but most importantly, the omega.”
I sigh, mumbling into my knees. “Practice what?” No one answers, so I shift slightly. I stay quiet, sighing deeply. I’m content for the moment. I jump. “School!” I start to stand. “We’re late! What time is it?”
Mrs. Chandler shushed me, a hand on my head. “You’re excused for the day. Just relax.” She shifts in her chair. “You need to decide how to handle this Lucas boy.”
I hear Heather sigh angrily. “What do you suggest?”
Tapping of fingers against the chair. “It depends.”
“On?”
“If it really is him causing it, or if she’s the one pushing the connection.”
“How can we tell?”
Footsteps. A hand on my head. Pain. I scream, trying to pry it off. Eventually it is gone, and I settle. “I think,” Mr. Chandler says, “that she’s the one deepening the connection. I do believe the boy causes it, however he does it so quickly is unclear, but when I look into her…” there’s a long pause. “I’m not sure. Her brain chemistry is off somehow.”
I curl up on my side, shifting so my back is pressed into Mrs. Chandler’s feet. I drift closer to sleep. Mrs. Chandler allows it. She hums. “That could be. We’ll have to train it out of her.” I’m about to make a comment that I’m not a dog, but I realize my sleeping position and realize that’s a bad comment on two fronts. “It’ll be difficult. For now, you’ll just have to keep tabs on her. Explain how you snapped her out of it, in the lunch room.”
“Pain, mostly, and using my voice. I poked my claw into her neck, slightly.” A hand rolls me over gently, then sliding over a spot on my neck, and I’m too tired to fight it. “I can’t always be there to hurt her to get her focus off him.”
“I suppose not. And the second time?”
Silence. “I’m not sure. We didn’t do much of anything.”
I stir. “Wrong,” I mumble. “You screamed in my head.”
“We did no such thing. Something must have shifted that allowed our voices to be heard again, only louder. She couldn’t hear us that entire time up to that point.”
A hum. “It could be him releasing the connection too quickly. I’ve never released an omega too fast to know.” A pause. “I could test it…”
“Isn’t that going to hurt?”
“I suppose we can wait for her to feel a bit better.”
It’s quiet for a bit. My breathing is slow enough, and I’m warm, comfortable, content. I could fall asleep. “Could it be worse with her in heat?”
“Shouldn’t be. The only connection affected by being in heat is that with their mate. How’s her brain, Heather?”
A pause. Heather McNamara speaks for the first time. “Right now, her thoughts are on…” she clears her throat, “Heather. But that’s in the back of her mind. Her superficial thoughts are calm, slow, almost blank.”
“And when she was connected to me?”
“They were slowed, focused on you. But that’s not what it was like with Lucas. It was like a speeding car throwing on the handbrake with him—quick, harsh. She couldn’t form her own thoughts at that point. With you, she at least could think enough to find the fridge for eggs. The car only slammed on the brakes to slow, not halt.”
“Rank it.”
“From best to worst: Heather, you, Lucas.”
Silence. I sigh. “Heather,” I hum.
“Yes?” A bit too excited.
“Why do I have the urgent need to find you an egg?” I take a deep breath, realizing how close I am at Mrs. Chandler’s feet. “And why am I over here? Why do I feel like your mom is my alpha? What is going on?” I tense, quickly moving back towards the couch.
“It’s complicated.”
Feeling a bit more energized, I rub my eyes and sit on the couch next to Heather. I let out a large yawn, feeling my side. It hurts. I remember Veronica fighting me. I turn to her. “Why did you attack me?”
“Sorry about that. Heather wanted to see how accurate her sensing was.”
Heather smiles broadly, proud. “I’m pretty good at it. I was close for most of it.”
“I’m glad I could help, and thanks for not telling me,” I say sarcastically.
“Feeling better?” Mrs. Chandler asks coolly.
I chew my cheek, glancing at Heather next to me. “Uhm. Yes?”
She nods. “Good.” She stands. I tense, pressing into the back of the couch, only stopped from crawling over the cough again by Heather’s hand on my leg. “Shall we begin?” Oh great. Whatever she has planned can’t be good. “This might be painful.”
I grip Heather’s leg tightly. I stutter out, “I—I—I didn’t do—do anything.” I start to try to climb over the couch again.
She crouches in front of the couch. My heart is pounded. This can’t be punishment! What did I do? “I need you to look at me,” she says calmly. I sniffle, shaking my head, refusing. My grip tightens on Heather, nails threatening to dig into her skin. Her voice drops, pulling closer to her alpha voice. “Look into my eyes.” Feeling like crying because I’m so afraid, I do, eventually, look up at her, not wanting to make her angry by not doing it. Once I meet her gaze, her scent hits my nose. Against any logic, I start to calm. I swallow, wiping my nose. My body relaxes a bit, shifting towards her ever-so-slightly. She nods slowly. “Good.” She just stares at me. I feel like she should be saying something, but I know I need to just be patient. The world is still, her all I can think about. At one point, her scent disappears suddenly. It’s sucked out of me. I gasp, sharp chest pains shooting through me. It’s like fifty people punched me at once, hitting me over and over. My hand reaches out to her, grasping her shoulders. Tears fall. The other scents of the room hit my nose. I sob, grasping for her.
“Well?”
“She’s not reacting the same way.”
A hum. “Interesting.” She pets my hair while I cry. “When she’s alright, we’ll move on.”
A strong arm pulls me into a hug. I bury my face into blueberry scented hair, trying to stop crying. Why does it hurt so much? After crying for a while, I calm. I pull back, thanking Veronica for the hug. I curl away from Mrs. Chandler, hugging myself.
“Heather, you can be first.” Heather McNamara sits next to me on the couch, Veronica moving out of the way for her. She smiles supportively at me, so I feel slightly better, but I’m still crazy nervous and upset. “Look into her eyes.” I feel really uncomfortable. Heather rubs my back behind me. I gaze into her baby blues. “Heather, you need to be calm for this to work. Slow your mind. Breathe.”
“Am I supposed to feel something?” I ask awkwardly. My legs bouncing anxiously.
“How am I supposed to be calm? Look at her,” Heather whines.
Mrs. Chandler shakes her head slowly. “Heather, you are supposed to calm her, not the other way around. Take a deep breath.” She complies. “Look into her eyes. See only her eyes.” I shift, wanting to look away. Heather’s gaze is too dark and focused for someone like her. “Stop holding in your scent. Let it out, whatever amount you feel appropriate.” After a moment, lemons override the cherries in my nose. It’s not bad, but I want Heather’s scent. “Good. Don’t forget to breathe.” I’m still shifty. I don’t feel comfortable with this. Heather continues rubbing my back. “Calm, Heather.” Heather? Calm? Please. The girl could be the Energizer Bunny. Her breathing quickens, her brow furrowed. “What’s wrong?”
“Her thoughts are too loud. I can’t focus with her thinking like that.”
“I’m not thinking too much! I’m just—”
Mrs. Chandler silences me with a hand. “Heather, dear. Your scent will slow her thoughts eventually. She knows you are no threat, but she’s worried about me.” I glance over at her. She’s absolutely correct. “You need to show her that she has nothing to fear. She needs to know you are here to protect her. She needs you.” Heather’s brow unfurrows, her breathing slowing. Her scent starts to match, not so starkly offensive to my nose, but more of a welcome scent, that which I feel with Heather. “Good. That’s good.” I take a deep breath, momentarily forgetting everything but her eyes. “See? Your scent is helping her. She’s not afraid. She trusts you. Show her that her trust is well-placed.” I grip the side of the couch to keep myself upright. “Now, Heather,” a whisper in comparison to what I feel with Heather. Her eyes are so bright and brilliant. I love them. All I can think about is her, her scent, her eyes. It’s good. It’s safe. She’s my Jelly Bean. “She’s at the point of understanding you. Right now, she’ll only understand what you offer. You can go as deep as you like, something real, or make something superficial. Since this is practice, pick anything, the first thing that comes to mind.”
I see her mouth move, and I hear her, but my brain doesn’t really comprehend her words. “I’m not sure what to think about.”
“You’re thirsty.” Her gaze intensifies. Her lips move slightly, like she’s talking to herself. After a moment, I realize something. Her lips are dry. She needs some water. I can get her some water. It’ll be nice for her to be hydrated. I don’t want her dehydrated. “Alright. See how she changed, slightly? She’s recognized the need. If you release her, she’ll get you a glass of water.” Heather’s breathing quickens, mine picking up to match, my head cocked slightly. “But the most important thing is letting her go correctly. It’s emotional, psychological. There’s nothing she can do to break it herself. Slowly, gently, pull in your scent.” There’s a sudden sucking in of her scent, so sudden it hurts. I groan, eyes fluttering, suddenly collapsing. Small hands wrapping around my chest pull me back up. “Too fast, too fast.” It slows, to a much more manageable pace. “It pains them to take it away too quickly. You’ve made her dependent on you. Don’t take yourself away from her so soon.” Her scent slowly disappears. I sigh, blinking into her gaze. I jump when Mrs. Chandler speaks. “Good.”
I furrow my brow. “Heather, where are your glasses?” She tells me, and I stand, quickly going to the kitchen. I get some ice water, and return. I hold it, staring at it. Why did I get this? I look up, about to ask. I make eye contact with Heather. Ah, yes. Heather was thirsty. I sit next to her, handing her the glass. I watch closely, tracking the progress of the water. She stops to put it down. I push it back towards her. “No, Heather. You’ll dehydrate. Drink it all,” I say gently. She smiles, and I preen. I helped her. Good.
“Now, she should essentially forget the connection. In the back of her mind, it had the same effect as a few minutes of bonding, she’ll subconsciously remember it forever. She’ll feel a deeper connection with you, however small that connection is. But she won’t remember much of what I said, much of staring at each other, any of it, really. She’ll remember looking into your eyes, then getting you some water.” She brings her hand to stroke my hair gently. I jump at first but relax. Looking into my eyes, “Good girl.”
I ring my hands together. “Do you need more?” She shakes her head, thanking me. I nod.
“Why did you say that?” Veronica asks.
“Like I said, it’s emotional. She’ll go to the ends of the earth to fulfil the need. I’ve seen omegas do crazy things for their alphas. She deserves some form of reward for being obedient.” I moan quietly as she continues running her hand through my hair, feeling good that she praised me and called me obedient. I hate that she says it that way, but as long as she keeps doing this, I couldn’t care less what else she says. “Even if that reward is praise, it means so much to an omega. One of her most natural, deepest desires is praise from you all.” She quiets, her eyes drifting over my face. “The best thing you can do for her, at any given time, is praise her, no matter the reason. You can never over-praise an omega.”
“Is it really that important?” Duke asks.
Mrs. Chandler nods, my eyes closing under her gaze. “It’ll hurt her emotionally if you don’t. She may not care as much when human, but if you consistently refuse to praise her, her wolf will remember. She’ll act out, maybe even become aggressive towards you. It’s essentially abusing her, if you don’t.” She takes her hand away. I groan slightly but accept it. “Alright. Who’s next? Veronica?”
“Won’t it tire her out?”
Mrs. Chandler shakes her head. “If done correctly, no. Look at her. After she watched Heather drink the glass, she gained color back to her face, light in her eye, energy. Connecting with each of you can benefit her, especially emotionally.” Veronica takes Heather’s spot in front of me. Mrs. Chandler catches my attention. “Do you know what we are doing?”
I avoid her gaze, shrugging. “Not really.”
“I feel bad,” Veronica mutters.
“Don’t,” Mrs. Chandler says. “She’ll get used to it. There will come a point in which she could trigger it, but that takes years of practice.” Veronica takes a deep breath. “You know what to do?” Veronica nods. “I’ll step in if needed.”
I shift, uncomfortable. I glance around at the others. A sigh. “Look at me, Honey.” My gaze snaps to her. Her face settles, a neutral look. I chew my lip, unsure.
After a few moments of her staring at me, and me really wanting to look away, Mrs. Chandler speaks again. “You’re trying too hard.” She swallows harshly. “Remember what I told Heather? She has no reason to fear you. She fears me. Protect her. Soothe her.” Mm. Blueberries. I tilt my head a little to the side. I’m not sure what she’s trying to do. I bounce my leg. A heavy sigh. “Veronica.” She has really pretty eyes, a nice dark hazel. “You are a beta.” She shifts. “You are strong. You are in charge of this interaction.” I narrow my eyes a bit. Control of the situation? We’re just looking at each other. “Let her know.” A long pause. “Assert dominance.” I raise my eyebrows slightly. Jeez, assert dominance? What’s really going on? “Come on Veronica. Be a beta.” Her scent grows a bit stronger in my nose. It makes me think about her carrying me. My strong Fava Bean. I smile slightly. Her scent suddenly disappears, and I cough at the absence. I look back at her, expectant.
“I can’t,” she says quietly.
Mrs. Chandler looks at her evenly. “Why?”
She shrugs. “I…I don’t know.”
I look back at Heather, earning an approving smile and a hand squeeze. “You can, Veronica.”
“I’ll just watch again.” She stands, head hanging. I feel bad. Whatever was meant to happen didn’t. I failed her.
“Heather? You’re next.”
Duke clears her throat and sits across from me. I smile softly at her. After our little bonding session, I’m glad to have her around more often. I blush slightly, remembering she can hear me. “Ok,” she sighs. She rubs her hands on her legs. Why is she so nervous? I never noticed how dark her eyes really are.
“Heather,” Mrs. Chandler says quietly.
“What?”
“Are you feeling that?”
“Feeling what?”
“At this point, she’s comfortable enough with me. She’s more afraid of you right now.”
I snap out of her gaze, turning to tell Mrs. Chandler what’s up. “I’m not scared of Heather!” I drop my head when she looks at me.
She laughs quietly. “Deep down, you are.” She tilts her head. “You’re afraid she’ll never truly accept you.”
I blush harshly. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Heather. You know what to do?”
She nods, and I look back up at her. Heather’s face settles to a more peaceful expression. Her hand grabs mine. I jump, pulling back slightly. I look back up at her. I see that peace from earlier before running. I calm enough to let her hold my hand, watching her swallow. I tense, not sure what she is going to do. A small whiff of mint tickles my nose. I search her eyes for any sign of hatred, finding none. Odd.
“Good, Heather. Keep going…” The mint grows, but not giving me a headache or anything, more like I just brushed my teeth. I relax more. This is nice. I like her scent. I smile slightly, shifting closer to her. Perfection. “Now.”
I find myself flying forward, wrapping my arms around her. My face snuggles into her neck. At first, I’m happy, content. But that I realize what I’m doing. I’m hugging Duke. She’s going to kill me. Oh no. I want to pull back, consciously. But something stops me. I cling to her, almost like I do Heather. I sigh, waiting. Eventually, like a key unlocking my muscles, I’m given the ability to move again. I back up, blushing. “Sorry, Heather,” I mumble. She squeezes my hand.
Mrs. Chandler’s hand finds its way into my hair again. I eagerly wait for it, even move to meet it a little. “Good job.” Mm, that feels good. I let out a pleased groan, smiling, not caring how embarrassing it is.
“Are you girls understanding? She needs something different from each of you. It’s just natural. She may not know it, but she needs to know Heather can protect her, Heather will accept her, Veronica is dominant…”
“But why? I don’t like doing that to people,” Veronica whines slightly.
“Don’t think of it as a bad thing for her.” I blush, scooting back towards Heather behind me, craving the cherries. Two slim arms wrap around my center, tugging me back to her chest. “Certain people in her life have to show their dominance. Her parents, me, Heather, you…It’s just natural for omegas to seek certain dominance. Heather and I are clearly dominant enough in her life. She doesn’t need Heather or Heather to prove their above her. But she needs you to be a strong beta.”
“She’s never said anything…”
“Like I said. She probably doesn’t know it.”
“Yeah, Ronnie,” Heather speaks up behind me. I jump slightly. “It’s weird that she wants Heather to protect her, when she was upset about not being able to protect Heather.”
“You’re connecting with her as a human, but also her wolf. And she and her wolf have different needs.”
“So I shouldn’t feel bad?”
“No, dear. You will help her more by asserting yourself. It’ll build trust, faith, love.”
She rings her hands, sitting down where Heather was. She looks at me. “You want me to…?”
I swallow, looking around. I shrug. I lean in, whispering, smiling slightly, “I don’t understand what’s happening.”
She drops her gaze. “Ok,” she whispers. “Let’s try again.” She looks into my eyes. Mm. Fava Bean. I tilt my head, a little interested. “Eye contact. Check.” I furrow my brow slightly. What? “Assert Dominance…how do I do that?”
I forgot that Mrs. Chandler was there for a moment. “First thing you need to do is calm down.”
She swallows. “I thought I was calm.”
“You’re too afraid of failing. Relax, and things will work out. There’s no judgement here. She won’t even know anyway.”
She sighs. “Ok. Calm…” She breathes for a while. I become hyper aware of each breath out of her nose, my own breathing naturally matching.
“See? You relax, she relaxes. Now, don’t do what I told Heather and Heather. You need to release your scent as fast as you can.”
“But why?”
“Her mind has naturally set you aside to keep track of everyone. Heather or Heather can release their scent slowly, coaxing her into caring about them more than anyone else. They’re asking for her attention. Since you are going to assert your dominance, you are going to demand it. Right now, her attention is yours. You can go so far to say she is yours. Right now, its just you and her. But she is too worried about everyone else to bother hyper-focusing on you. She’s worried about Heather’s happiness and smelling Heather and Heather staying close to her.” I smell blueberries. It’s nice. “No, Veronica. Push it out. Demand attention.” I shift, awkwardly waiting. The scent disappears when she takes a deep breath, and then rushes out when she breathes out. I raise my eyebrows slightly. I’ve never have had her scent hit me that hard. She waits. “Not hard enough. You’ll know when it works. Imagine it like a punch. You need to shock her system.” The scent disappears. Just as suddenly, it hits me like a brick. I groan lightly, eyes fluttering. Bloody Hell, that smells good. When I open my eyes fully, I snap to her gaze. I lean forward slightly, eager. I want more. “There. That. That is what you want to see. Now, ask for something and slowly pull back your scent.” I could stare at her eyes forever. I want her eyes. And blueberries. Mm. I want some blueberry pancakes.
I stand. Poetry. I want to read her some poetry. That would be nice. I wander aimlessly around the room. I panic a little, tearing into things to find it. “What are you looking for?” Heather asks quietly.
“My poetry book. Where is it? I know I brought it! I can’t lose it. Heather, where—”
“Your bag is upstairs.”
I nearly sprint there and back. I collapse onto the couch. I open it, finding the well-worn page, tracing my fingers over the notes in the margins. I start reading out loud. When finished, I look up awkwardly. I set the book down. Why did I read that out loud? That poem is so important to me. The only people that know about that poem being my favorite are my mother and Lucas.
“Wonderful,” Mrs. Chandler says, smiling proudly at me. “Heather?”
“We don’t have to.”
“It’ll be good.”
She sighs, turn me towards her. I look at her expectantly. “I don’t understand the difference between getting her to do something this way and through my voice.”
“This will connect you on an emotional level. It’ll last longer. Plus, your voice scares her into doing things. This will get her to do it out of her own will. For the most part.” She sighs heavily, looking into my eyes. I smile, enjoying her scent. I love it when she pushes it out like this. She looks bored. “Slower, Heather.” Her scent pulls back lightly. Darn.
“What does she want from me, mother?”
A long pause. “Trust,” she says quietly.
A hand comes up to my face, gently stroking my cheek. I really want to kiss her. She takes a deep breath. “Sure,” she mumbles. Her eyes gain a nice tint, iris color gaining a bit of blue hue. I lean closer. “Of course she does.” Her scent washes over my slowly. My breathing quickens, needing more.
“Heather, you don’t need to assert dominance.” Heather sighs heavily. “She already knows. Take a deep breath. Calm yourself.” After a few moments, the scent is pleasantly strong. My breathing matches hers, eventually, and I don’t care about anyone else, even Mrs. Chandler. “She has full faith in you, Heather. Deep down, she needs your faith in her. Let her know you trust her. Relax, fully.” Heather’s eyes flutter slightly, dulling. She slumps slightly, not so rigid. “Good. Now.”
“Give me an idea,” she sighs. If I could just lean in close enough…
“You don’t know where your phone is.”
She furrows her brow. After a moment, I lean back. Her scent slowly slips away from me. I deflate slightly. Too bad. She lets her hand drop from my face, sitting back.
I swallow. “Heather. I think I saw your phone upstairs.” I stand. “I’ll go find it,” I mutter, slipping upstairs. I tear through her room. Where is it? I start to cry a little. I can’t return empty handed. After looking absolutely everywhere, I walk down the stairs, a couple of tears dry on my face. I sniff, avoiding her gaze. “Maybe its in the kitchen.” Again, I return. I start tearing through the living room. More tears fall. “I have to find it.”
“Now, we all know where it is. But she has to find it, even if Heather has it. She’s becoming obsessed.”
As she talks, I tear up the couch cousins, even unzipping the covers to check. I check vases, in glasses, pots of flowers…I turn to Heather. Defeated. “I can’t find it, Heather,” I choke out. “I—I—Is it in Heather’s Jeep?”
“Hey. Check the couch again.”
I turn back at her voice. She moves so I can look again. I just checked here. I see the shiny red case sticking out. I grab it quickly, nearly running into her with it. “Heather! I found it!” I shove it into her hands. “I found it.” I watch it. Why did she need it so badly if she isn’t going to use it? “Heather?”
“Praise her, Heather.”
Her face softens, a hand brushing my face. “Good job.”
I nearly cry again. It feels so good to make her happy. I smile broadly, grabbing her hand.
I jump as Mrs. Chandler claps. “Wonderful, girls! All of you.” Heather guides me to sit on the couch. Mrs. Chandler sits in an arm chair. “Remember what it does to her if done incorrectly. Praise her, don’t overuse it, and this will help you grow closer.”
Not really knowing what she’s talking about, I speak up. “What are we talking about again? I don’t really remember. I must have spaced out,” I laugh.
Heather pats my shoulder. “That’s ok. You’ll understand later.
“Never, and I repeat, never connect when you’re angry, vengeful, hurting…If you really want to hurt someone, she won’t stop until…” She sighs, eyes drifting over me. “You are in control of the interaction. She only gets out of it what you want her to.”
I feel very tired suddenly, yawning largely. I shift down into the couch, closing my eyes. “I thought you said it would give her energy?” Veronica says.
“She’s been through plenty lately. She’ll be tired anyway for a while.” A hand dives into my hair, massaging me lightly. I hum contently. “She also was drained while freaking out over Heather’s phone. Also, do your best to not allow the need to last too long. She’ll become focused on one thing. She’ll sacrifice her own needs to fulfil yours—she won’t eat, sleep, anything until she helps you. It could kill her, if it lasts long enough.”
“Could we all have a need for her at once?”
“No. You can try, but she’ll rank it from most important to least. She’ll obviously pick Heather over everyone, and so on.” My head is slowly drifting to the side, sleep gently tugging me. My head rests on whoever is next to me. “Such a good omega,” she coos, her deep voice washing over. I shiver harshly, humming with a smile. “Sleep now.” Again, like a switch, I’m out.
I wake up, curled up in Veronica’s lap, my head resting on her shoulder. I jump slightly, scaring myself, but she keeps her arms wrapped around me. “You’re ok.” I hear a movie in the background. The room is darker, the blinds probably drawn. I sigh heavily, my face nuzzling into her neck. She smells nice. She shifts under me, her face coming in to scent me back. I giggle, her breath tickling me lightly. When I look back up at her, I realize her thoughts have joined the likes of Heather and Heather. We bonded. Hm. That’s nice. With all three of them, they’ve equalized to be as loud as each other. It’s a nice volume, and if I focus, I can hear just her. But I don’t want to hear just her. I like hearing Heather and Heather in the back of my mind like usual.
I sit up, careful not to hurt her. Still a little exhausted, I crawl carefully over Heather and Heather, filling the small gap between Heather and Heather to snuggle into Heather. I rest gently onto her chest, eyes closing again. Their scents are a nice, evenly toned level. Being close to my alpha, with the pack calm and near, I’m at peace. Her arm drifts to hold me to her. I don’t care to listen to the movie, only her slow breathing.
“Omegas are so interesting,” Duke mumbles, her finger spinning around a strand of my hair.
I stretch, shifting just slightly to be in contact with them both. I smile. “Aren’t we?” I settle. “Why are we?”
“So…” she sighs, searching for the words. “Dependent.”
“I mean, when you say it like that—”
“No, I mean…Heather, help me out.”
Heather speaks quietly from her spot on the other side of Heather. “One word, and you’re so happy. You’re so trusting, so eager.”
I blush, hiding my face in Heather’s hair. “I’m…sorry?”
“Don’t apologize!” she giggles. “We just never dealt with a real omega before. Well, not enough to care. It’s just new to us. We’re learning so much!”
“Good, I guess.” I debate falling asleep again. “Like what?”
“Well,” Veronica sighs. “We didn’t know connections were a thing.”
“Or that praise is so important,” Heather adds.
“Or how emotionally unstable you can be,” Duke mutters.
“Or committed,” Heather finishes.
I trace an intricate pattern on Heather’s stomach. I swallow. “If you had asked…”
“Did you know all of that?”
“I don’t know what you mean about connections, but everything else, yes.” I prop up on an elbow to look at Heather. “You never noticed how I react when you praise me?”
She shrugs. “I thought that was a personal thing.”
I settle back into her. “Now we know!” Heather says cheerfully.
I hum. “Does this mean some things are going to change?”
Duke chuckles. “Like what?”
I shrug, yawning. “Like threats? Some basic understanding?”
They all laugh a little. “Sure,” Heather mumbles, not convincing. “Whatever you say.”
My hand slips under the hem of her shirt on her side, my cold hands stark against her hot skin. She tenses, but otherwise, she doesn’t seem to notice. It creeps higher and higher, almost to brush the side of her breast. Her face remains calm and even, but I can feel her breathing shift. I smile to myself, slightly proud. Two can play the torture game. I probe slightly under the hem of the bra. I want to see just how far she’ll let me go before stopping. Her free hand, well hidden by my body from the others, drifts towards my chest. Peeking up at her, I see the smallest smirk on her lips. Dipping into the gap in my shirt, it drifts down, pinching my soft skin between my breasts. I swallow down the gasp that is begging to escape, keeping my breathing even. My leg drifts over hers, and by moving just right, I can press my core to her thigh. She allows it, not moving. The movie rolls on, the others seemingly unaware. I smirk into her chest. She pinches again, harder. It takes everything in me to not move or groan. I could give an excuse, leave somehow, but my brain really isn’t working. Her scent is filling me, keeping me focused on her and her alone. I dig my nails into the soft skin on her side, dragging down slowly, painfully, like I knew she would hate. Her breathing hitches, her jaw clenching. Come on. Do something.
The movie rolls to an end. I quickly slip my hand out when Duke sits up next to me. She stretches. Standing, she drags Heather up with her. “Come on, Heather.”
Heather whines. “What? Why?”
“I told you. Some stupid charity thing with my parents.”
“Again?”
“Yes! It’s for some sick kid or something. We need to go to my house to get ready first.”
Heather, groaning, allows Heather to pull her up. “I hate going to these.”
“If I have to suffer, you have to suffer.” Gathering their things, they go to leave. “See you tomorrow,” she grumbles.
Veronica shifts closer, getting more comfortable. Heather peeks over my head at her. “What? You’re not going to take the opportunity to give a lame excuse and go have sex with J.D.?” Jesus, her voice is thick and sassy.
Veronica sighs. “Not really. But if that’s my cue to leave, sure.” She looks at us when she stands, then rolls her eyes. “Whatever. Have fun banging.” She sighs heavily, closing the door gently behind her.

Chapter Text

The second the door closes, I roll on top of Heather, going for her neck instantly. “Where are you parents?”
Her hands rest on my hips. “Out,” she says simply. I let out a pleased moan, her scent and flavor setting me on fire. She suddenly shoves me off. “We need to pick a new movie,” she says evenly. She sits up, leaning to get up. I latch onto her back, hands running up her chest, teeth grazing her neck. I feel her shiver, ever-so-slightly. She pries me off. “So impatient.”
I grit my teeth. “We’re finally alone, damn it. I’ve waited long enough.” I’m angrier that she won’t help me than I’m wanting her anymore. I’m on the tail-end of heat, and I got hardly anything this time around. “The house is empty; the girls are gone. I swear, Heather…”
Standing over me, she puts her hands on her hips. She taps her foot, eyes narrow but bright. “Are you threatening me?” She laughs. “You won’t get very far like that, Kitten.”
I let out an angry groan, standing. Why did she have to say that? “Fine,” I wrap my arms around her, her not moving. “Tell me what will get me somewhere.”
Her jaw tightens. She gazes down at me, a tiny smile forming. “Patience.”
I let out an exasperated shout. “I’ve been patient since Monday!”
Her eyes drift from mine down my body. I relish the attention. “Fair enough,” she purrs. She thinks for a second, and I push out my scent more to help her decide. “I suppose…” she sighs. “Shall we go upstairs?” I gasp happily, turning to run up the stairs. I hear her chuckle lightly, following behind. In the room, she stands still, contemplating. Tilting her head to the side, she smiles softly. “I want to try something…different.”
I tense. I’m not sure I like that idea. “Why?”
“All this new information. Plus,” she sighs, “you asked for it.”
But as long as I get something out of it, “Sure.”
She approaches. I reach out to touch her, but she pushes my hands down. “Patience,” she reminds me.
I groan but keep my hands at my sides. “What exactly are you thinking?” I nearly whisper.
She smiles. She runs her hand into my hair. She’s a breath away. “Do what I say. And tell me if I cross a line.”
I’m shaking with anticipation. “Sure, whatever.” I stare at her lips. “Just get on with it.”
She smiles more, kissing my cheek. “Lay down.” I do. She crawls over to me, tracing a finger down my jaw, into my shirt. Her hands quickly slip under and take it off. I shiver in the cool air, but don’t really care. “You’ve earned this,” she whispers. Goosebumps race over my skin. Thank you for recognizing it, finally. She leans down kissing me full on the lips. Her hands intertwine with mine, pressed into the pillows under me. “Keep your hands there,” she mumbles, trailing kisses down my neck. Her hands drift to go over my body. She bites my pulse point, and my hands fly into her hair. She pushes my hands back down, shifting to look me in the eye. “I’m not going to tell you again. Keep your hands there.” She continues kissing over my body, slipping my jeans off. I breathe her name, hands clutching the sheets to stop them from moving. Her finger drags over my core, and I scream. Jesus, just do something. She kisses my stomach.
“Heather, hurry the Hell up,” I say through clenched teeth.
She brings her face close to mine. “What happened to patience?”
“Screw patience.” My back arches under her, hips trying to find some friction.
She smiles into my cheek. “I can get that attitude right out of you,” she purrs.
“Wha—” She lifts me up, hoisting me to lay flat across her lap. I start to struggle, and she lays a harsh slap onto my butt. “Are you spanking me?” I ask, flabbergasted. She lays another one, rubbing the back of her hand gently over the area after. I groan, all fight leaving me. Another one. And another one. I’m whimpering by the fifth one. She slaps, dragging her nails down over the red skin. Face buried in the bed, I scream, but not from pain.
She leans in to whisper in my ear. “How’s that attitude doing?”
I hum, trying to gather the words. If it means more… “Still here,” I say, acting as if I’m about to get up.
She chuckles. “You like this too much.”
I shift my butt up. “What if I do?”
“We can’t have any more of it, can we?” I can piss her off more. I push myself up, hands flying to her face, kissing her. “Hands,” she warns.
I shake my head, kissing her more. “Make me,” I growl, hungry.
I feel her shake under me. She kisses me roughly. I bite her lip as she pulls back. She groans, a bit angry. “Careful, Kitten. You’re pushing it.” Her voice is dangerously dark, threatening. Pushing me onto my back onto the bed, she shakes her head at me.
“Mon paix,” I purr. “I have no reason not to.”
The side of her mouth twitches slightly, eyes narrowed and bright. “Oh? Let’s give you one then, shall we?” She brushes her finger along my core again, causing me to gasp and flutter my eyes closed. She smiles slightly, evil amusement written across her face. She is back on top of me again. I’m whimpering softly. However, I had not moved my hands because I need more. She leans in, kissing me, then drifts around my face. “Such a good girl when you want something,” she says, then bites my shoulder. I groan, trying to shift into her above me.
“Please,” I breathe.
She drifts lower. “Please what?” she asks innocently.
“Come on, Heather. You know.”
“I’m not going to push this.”
“What?” I nearly yelp.
“We aren’t ready to have complete sex yet.”
“Come on!”
“Being in heat is screwing with your emotions. You aren’t ready.”
I groan, frustrated. “I hate you, Heather!” I’m so angry.
She chuckles, ending in a hum. “I knew you couldn’t behave.”
I whine loudly, panting hard. “I—I can’t—I don’t—”
She shushes me, slowing her kisses around my collarbone just enough. She breathes a sigh into my face when I finally settle, accepting this as my fate, and kisses my temple softly. “Good girl,” she purrs.
My body hitches, a scream leaving my body. She stalls. “Keep going,” I whine. Thankfully her hands and mouth continue around my body. My back hurts from arching so hard, but I need more contact with her body. My muscles are so tense, and head pounding now. I finally come back down after a second.
“Fuck,” she breathes, brow completely furrowed.
I’m so exhausted. I hum softly.
She gently guides my arms down to my stomach, kissing my wrists. I’m breathing heavily. She touches my face. “Are you ok?”
I get a rush of energy. I growl, bringing her face down. “Bite me, damn it.”
She chuckles, trying to push me off. “Why? We’re done.”
I kiss her shoulder. “Who said that?” I rake my nails over her back. “Bite me,” I growl again. She does, a thick harsh bite on my shoulder. She holds on to it for a moment, then licks and kisses the spot. I drop my hands by my head. “Jesus Christ.” She starts sucking on my neck. I tug gently on her hair.
“Let’s take a break.” She tries to hold me.
I shake my head, shifting to be on top of her once again. “Let’s keep going,” I say quietly, kissing her ear. “Please.” I kiss up and down her neck, then start working south. Her body twitches.
She stops me with her hands on my face. “You need to rest first.”
I kiss her stomach. “You can sit back and relax. I’ll do this for you…” I start kissing lower and lower. I keep her eyes locked on me, then smile to myself when she sighs and close them, her body shaking. I bite her underbelly softly. She hisses. “Don’t like being bit?”
She shakes her head. “Absolutely not. Do not bite me again.”
“Sorry,” I mumble.
I try to work further south, but she keeps tugging me back to her stomach with a tight grip in my hair. “No,” she often insists. She’s huffing, getting angry. She’s losing control of the situation, quickly, and we both know it. She swallows. “Stop.” The words hardly get out of her mouth, and I jerk up, completely off her.
“What?”
“I don’t want that from you. Not right now.” With more strength and conviction, she forces me to lay down next to her. She kisses my back, rubbing my stomach. A tiny bite. She chuckles at my shiver, dragging her nails down my spine, my body following like a cat being pet.
I pant, my body relaxed next her. “Please,” I whisper, eyes closing.
She shakes her head, pulling me closer. “Rest, Chérubin. You’ve done so well.”
I hum at her comment, my body trying desperately to get as close as possible to her. I sigh, allowing her scent to calm me, even though I don’t want to. I think I drift off, but I’m not sure. When I roll over and look into her eyes again, she’s watching me gently. “Yes?” I whisper.
“You came just by me praising you.”
I blush. “Just good timing.”
She smiles, seeing through my lie. “Sure.” She sniffs. “You’re nearly done.”
I nod. “This helped.”
She nuzzles closer. “I’m sure it did.” Her nails run lazily over my back, tracing intricate patterns. I shiver, goosebumps racing over my body. I kiss and suck gently on a spot on her collarbone. She sighs deeply. “Was it ok?”
I break just enough to speak. “Better than ok.”
Her voice dips slightly. “If you bite me again, I’ll leave you to struggle next time.”
I smile into her chest. “We’ll see about that.”
“Why do you have to fight me in every way?”
I shift to get closer to her lips, hovering just over them. “It makes it more fun. If you’re going to torture me, I’ll do it right back.”
Her chest rumbles. “You’re pushing my buttons.”
I smile, a little proud. “What are you going to do about it?”
She chuckles, shifting to roll out of bed. “Right now, we need water.” I sigh but follow her to the kitchen. She grabs a couple of apples and glasses of water for us. I give her a look. “What? It’s important after such rigorous activities.” Her face falls. “I missed my window for excessive PDA.”
I giggle. “There’s always next time.” I pale slightly. “When are you in heat?”
She smiles evilly. “Around this time next week.” She winks. “How are you going to handle it?” She drags her eyes over my body. “I have a feeling you won’t be able to deny me too long like you hoped.”
I straighten at the challenge. “And why is that?”
She rolls her eyes. “I hardly have to try normally.”
I blush. “I—I—” I stammer.
She stands next to me, gently stroking some hair. “You wanted to talk about something?”
I munch on my apple, looking at the table. “Well, I really wanted to rip you out for leaving me to suffer.” I glance at her, her face proud. “And telling Heather that I’m ‘needy.’ But I wanted to ask you about what’s next.”
“What do you mean?”
“Like…bonding happened.”
“We do it a lot, like once a month.”
“But what about what your mother said? About being a harsher alpha?”
I watch her face soften slowly. She continues stroking my hair. “I don’t care for my mother’s tactics, if I can avoid it. If bonding doesn’t help, I will use her suggestions.” I blanch. “Believe me, I would rather do anything else. It hurts me to see you in pain.”
I huff bitterly. “Well, thanks, I guess.”
“I told you what I would do with marks and submission. But you need to help me out here.”
I nod, gazing into her eyes. “I know. I will.”
She kisses my forehead. “Good,” she whispers.
“Do I get to bond with you?”
She smiles softly. “We don’t need it.”
“Then why can I never hear you?”
“Because I keep it all locked up. And tonight,” she taps my nose, “I’m teaching you how to do the same. The others don’t need to hear your constant thoughts about me,” she winks.
I perk up a little. “Really? It’s that easy?”
She laughs. “No. But with practice, you can quiet them.” Leading to the living room, she even turns on some meditation music.
I laugh, sitting on the couch. “Really? This is so cheesy!”
She shakes her head, sitting cross-legged next to me on the couch, facing me. “Shut up. Trust me.” I imitate her. “Take a deep breath.” I roll my eyes. “Do you want to learn or not? Now, take a deep breath, and close your eyes.” I comply, even though I don’t really want to. I hear her own breathing slowing, a controlled rhythm. I match, trying to calm my brain. It’s hard. My brain thinks too quickly. “Stop thinking about it.”
“What? Stop thinking about what?”
“You’re too worried about how fast your brain is working. Just let it wander.”
“That’s…harder than it sounds.”
“Trust me. Don’t worry about people listening. Don’t worry about thinking about the right thing. Just daydream.” After several long minutes, I finally get my brain to comply. I momentarily forget that people can hear me. My thoughts start by reciting poetry, and that leads to memories of England. I feel a little homesick. She hums suddenly. “Good. Good.” Her voice drags me to a halt. My eyes snap open to look at her. She cracks hers open after a moment. “Yes?” I cringe a little. I realize that her last two statements were in my mind. They were incredibly sharp, clear.
“You broke my concentration,” I frown.
She closes her eyes, sighing. “Keep going.”
I roll my eyes, then close my eyes as well. Fine. I let my mind wander again, back to England. I feel at peace enough to fall asleep. In my mind again, I can hear her. It’s quiet, soft. “This is cheesy but try it.” I laugh to myself for a second. “Imagine a large wall. It’s brick. Every time you want to hear someone’s thoughts, you have to take a brick away. Every time you want to allow someone to hear your thoughts, you have to take a brick away. Eventually, your wall is going to be barely anything.” I imagine it as she speaks. “Every once in a while, you need to rebuild your wall. Take the time to put bricks back, making it look nice and strong. As long as your wall is strong and complete, people cannot listen to you.” She takes a long pause, and I hear a deep sigh from her. “There will be cracks in the wall. They will appear at random times. They are easier to fix than holes. Fix them soon, or they’ll grow into bigger ones.”
I get what she’s saying. It makes a lot of sense. Speaking quietly, I ask, “How do you know when to rebuild the wall or when there’s a crack.”
“You can feel it, hear it. The voices will be louder, less filtered. I used to rebuild every night, before going to bed.” I sigh heavily, trying to put it into practice. I can still hear everyone, even if they are quiet. I try shoving more bricks into the wall, block them out, but they are still there. “It will take practice. But eventually, it’ll work.” It’s nice. It’s calm. For once, I like the silence. I lay back, just relaxing on the couch. I feel hands on my now straightened legs. I open them and wrap them around her waist.
She chuckles, her hands lazily dragging up and down my legs. I open my eyes to look up at her, smiling. “What?” she laughs. “Are you ready for more?”
I sit up, essentially on her lap, my arms resting on her shoulders. “No,” I whisper, my face settling into a more serious emotion. I lean forward, resting my head on her shoulder in a hug. I love the feeling of my body pressed into hers, so perfectly encapsulated in it, so warm and comforting. I want to speak more, but I lose the words. She’s incredibly tense, her hands seemingly unsure what to do for once. They eventually settle on my hips.
“What are you doing?” she asks quietly, voice just as tense.
“Hugging you, dipshit.” I can feel her swallow. “Hug me back, damn it.”
Her hands twitch slightly. “Why?”
I squeeze her tighter. “It’s what…we…do.”
She huffs out a laugh. “We never did decide on a label.” Her body relaxes ever-so-slightly. I tickle her back with my nails, my breathing slow on her neck.
“You said you would think on it.”
She hums, her hands drifting closer to my lower back. “I think we need to pick something that is not cheesy.”
I fake-whine. “But I love cheesy.” I kiss her ear, then whisper seductively, “Lover.”
I feel her body shake as she hates the name. “Never say that to me again.”
I chuckle into her neck. “I don’t hear you shooting anything out.”
She sighs. “What about partner?”
“Ok, John Wayne.”
Her hands now firmly press into my back, holding me officially, almost pressing me closer. I sigh, content. “Inamoratas.”
“What does that mean? It sounds like a Mexican dish.”
“It’s a fancier way of saying girlfriends.”
I hum into her neck, one hand coming to trace over her veins. “I like it.”
She straightens out of pride. “See? I am good.”
I laugh, earning a chuckle from her. I sigh again, settling. “I should go home.”
She doesn’t make a sound, but her wolf whines loudly inside. Mine responds, but I quiet her quick enough. Tightening her arms around me, she kisses my temple. “Just stay a little longer.” A long pause. “I’m hugging someone, for once, and not hating it.”
I giggle. “You are wrapped around my finger.”
She chuckles. “Oh? I believe it’s the other way around.” With that, she lays me on my back, playfully laying kisses around my face and neck. It turns me into a giggly mess, my hands intertwined with hers. She slows, kissing me softly on the forehead. She sits up. “Are your parents free Friday?”
I laugh. “Are you asking my parents out on a date?”
“No, dipshit. Every once in a while, my parents host a group dinner for us. Your parents are invited, of course.”
I sigh. “I’ll see.”
“Great. I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning?”
I nod, grinning. I grab her hand, kissing the back of it. “I’ll be anxiously waiting.” She rolls her eyes and chuckles, and I leave to walk home.
In the morning, I sit on the curb and wait for Heather. I write into the margins of a poem, a few lines of my own poetry, revolving around the girls. When she pulls up, I can hear the bass bumping inside. I climb in, hiding behind my poetry book. She is oddly quiet, not greeting me, not making any comments about me playing with her hand, no comment on my new hair style. Nothing. I chew my lip, debating how to go about it. She’s not angry, I don’t think. But she isn’t particularly happy either. We get to school, not having spoken a word. She walks in, not waiting to grab my hand. I jog to catch up to her. There’re no signs of anything, no emotion. She doesn’t wait for me at my locker. I quickly finish at my locker and race to hers, greeted by smiles from the others. Heather is quiet through it all, while Duke rambles about some college guys she met last night, Veronica talking about some stupid movie she saw, and Heather McNamara trying to be supportive of it all. I talk to Veronica about the movie, as I would rather listen to that than guy gossip. I’ve seen the movie, so she happily debates it with me.
I hear a couple of obnoxious laughs, some books hitting the ground, and I smell Betty and Martha. I sigh, setting my jaw. I immediately want to run over, rip some dicks off, and be done with it. I look over, seeing them surrounded by a few jocks. Come on. Why does every guy have to be an asshole?
I rock forward on the balls of my feet, on the brink of sprinting over there, my mind racing with anger. I don’t move, however. The consequences peek into my mind, and I’m more afraid of denied submission than I am for Betty and Martha. How selfish does that sound. No one says a word, the girls quietly watching, who, I’m not sure, and undoubtedly listening to my internal argument. I bounce anxiously. I see Martha’s face twist up like she’s about to cry as one shouts an insult about her weight.
My resolve snaps for a moment. I take a step towards them, anger bubbling inside me. A soft, unsure hand snakes into mine, and a single word slips into my conscious thoughts, don’t. I sigh, clench my jaw, and talk a step back. Heather’s warning is well needed. They won’t get hurt, physically at least. I ignore the scents that are surrounding me, refusing to listen to any of them inside my head. Unable to watch anymore, I turn back towards the group, staring at the expensive shoes below us. I close my eyes every time I hear an insult, a laugh, or an influx on scents.
I can do this. I can ignore them. I can let them get bullied. I can be a bitch. I turn back to look at them, harshly biting my lip as I debate with myself. I’m turning into a monster, someone I despise. I would never allow anyone to get bullied before. My breathing is quick and short, hardly able to maintain my composure. I hear my grip tighten on my books, groaning internally. Martha is fully crying, Betty trying to do anything to help, to stand up to the guys. I can’t do this. I can’t be a bitch. I can’t let this happen. If this goes on any longer, I’ll murder them. I’ll murder every single one of the asshole bullies. It’s stupid, I know. But anger does things like that. No wonder Heather wouldn’t talk to me. A stupid test first thing in the morning.
Just as I’m about to run over there and throttle them, they laugh and walk away. My grip loosens on my books, my face losing its angry blush, my breathing returning to normal. Martha runs to the nearest bathroom, hiding her face, Betty close behind. I want to run after them, to be there to comfort them. But I feel like I don’t have a right to. I allow them to get bullied, and I want to be there to help with the aftermath? No. That’s not right. I turn back to the group, now entirely ashamed of myself. I stare at my feet, trying to not think about how shitty I am.
“I’m impressed,” Heather purrs. “Good job.”
I shiver at the praise. How could she use that now? But the absolute worst is that my wolf responds regardless. She learns what earns praise and what doesn’t, even if I disapprove of the reasoning. Not that they need to know that. Against all common sense, I snap back, “Fuck you.” I sniffle. I’ll regret that, but I don’t care. I’m tired of these tests surrounding people who can hardly defend themselves. I go to walk away, hide from the world, but Veronica places a strong hand on my arm, keeping me in place.
“She’ll be fine,” she says. I sigh, pulling out of her touch. “What’s wrong?” I chew my cheek. “Talk to us.”
Still refusing to look at them, “I’m a shitty person.” It’s a whisper. I hate to admit it.
She runs her hand over my back. I tense but allow her to continue. “Why do you say that?”
“I just stood by while they got bullied by a group of assholes.”
“That doesn’t make you a bad person. Especially when that group was mostly betas.” Her hand makes larger circles, and I hate it, but I relax under it. “You can’t save everyone.”
My chest hurts a little when she says it. I look up at her, trying to find understanding within her mocha eyes. “Shouldn’t I at least help the ones that can’t fight back?”
She shakes her head, her face softening more. “You’d be fighting constantly around here.”
I look towards the bathroom. “I should help them. I’d rather be picked on than them.” I look back at her. “I am a shitty person.”
She smiles, almost with pity. “No, Honey. You’re not.” She pulls me into a hug, even though I fight her. “Just because you consider the consequences before stepping in, that doesn’t mean you don’t care.” I sniffle into her hair. “Sometimes, the best way to help is stay out of it.”
I mutter into her shoulder, “What kind of twisted advice is that?”
“It’ll make it worse, when people defend them. Trust me, I tried for most of my life. It just eggs them on.”
I shake my head. “So what? I’m just supposed to let them suffer?”
She sighs. “Once they find a pack, they’ll be ok.”
She’s right. I know. After I punched that one guy, it did nothing to stop the bullying. There’s nothing I can do to stop it, especially as an omega. I just rest my head against her shoulder, letting her rub my back. “You’re right,” I whisper.
“Yes. I am. Just let it go.”
I laugh bitterly, backing up. “That’s funny.”
She smiles down at me. “Ok?”
I sigh. I can agree, but I can’t guarantee what will happen the next time I see that. I nod.
“An apology?”
I look over at Heather, leaning against her locker, a bored look in her eyes. “Sorry, Heather.” I hate how much like Duke I just sounded.
“You make it sound like the world is going to end if you look the other way.”
I glare at Duke. “Maybe because I have some decent curtesy for other people.”
She rolls her eyes. “It’s not like they can’t defend themselves.”
Veronica steps in. “Heather, stop talking.”
“Oh, shit,” Heather mumbles.
“What?” I ask. I smell a bonfire and start to turn to talk to Lucas. Before I can, Veronica, with her arm still around me, forcibly guides me towards the bathroom down the hall. “Veronica? What are you doing?”
“Nothing. I just need help with my makeup.”
I give her a confused look as we slip into the bathroom. “I don’t do makeup, Veronica.” I cross my arms over my chest. “What are you really doing?”
She shrugs. “I…uh…” She turns to the mirror, checking her makeup. She ignores me.
I roll my eyes. “I’m going to class.”
“Wait!” She reaches for me. “Don’t go yet.” I tap my foot, waiting. She shrugs. “I just wanted to…uh…” She doesn’t look like she’s lost for words. She looks like she’s trying to formulate a lie. I sigh and walk out the door. I turn to walk towards class. I see the girls at the locker still, but now Lucas is standing with them. I grit my teeth. I’m too tired for this. I hear Veronica following me, telling me to stop, but I stomp over anyway.
“What’s going on?” I ask as I walk up. I ask Heather, who is staring at Lucas. McNamara lets out a surprised gasp, then tries to push me back. “Heather!” I look over, and I meet Lucas’ bright eyes. “Lucas,” I breathe, smiling, my tone shifting drastically from angry to flustered.
He grins, adjusting his backpack. Heather keeps pushing me back. “Hello, Gemma. I just wanted to check on you. You ran off suddenly on Tuesday.”
I blush, fidgeting with my hair. “I did? I’m sorry! I guess it was important.”
I let out a flirtatious giggle as he grins, flushing slightly. I sense the others speaking, but my head is underwater. I can’t hear them. I can’t process anything. All I can think about is how great he smells. I feel a hand on my face but choose to ignore it. I feel good right now. Suddenly, my face is pulled to the side. My eyes are still locked on him, but there’s a pair of lips against mine. Confused, I start to push away, but I realize it’s Heather. Cherries and roses. That’s what matters. I eventually close my eyes. This is perfect. This is right. I feel her pull away, so I follow.
When I open my eyes again, I smile into Heather’s intent stare. I blush. “I said no to PDA,” I say, lightly slapping her arm. She won’t let go of my face. “Heather?”
“Are you ok?”
I laugh. “Just a bit embarrassed.”
“At least it worked,” Heather McNamara says quietly next to me.
“Veronica, you were supposed to keep her there.”
Veronica shrugs. “I’m not good at thinking on my feet!”
“She seemed to connect, if that’s what we’re going to call it, before she smelled him.”
With Heather holding my face, I can’t help but feel a little happy. I shift into her hands. “So what? It’s his eyes?” Heather mumbles, her thumb running over my cheek.
“I’m not sure.” She sighs, her voice now a bit shaky. “We could get your mother to look into it.”
Heather’s brow furrows. “That may be difficult. We’d have to convince him to go somewhere with us.”
“Just get Gemma to ask him.”
“She’ll forget before she could ask.” She sighs, finally letting go of my face. I whine a little. “Do you have any classes with Lucas?”
“No,” I say, grabbing her hands again.
“Avoid him.”
I chuckle slightly, paying more attention to her hands than her words. “Why?”
She drags my face up to look her in the eye. “Just do it.”
A little shocked at her command and serious tone, I nod. “Sure. Ok.”
She breathes a sigh of relief as the bell rings. She gives the other girls looks that I don’t understand, and Heather loops her arm to walk to class with me. I start to pull away, because why would I want to loop my arm with Heather Duke? She glares at me and keeps it locked tight. All through the morning classes, which I hardly pay attention to, I feel the overbearing presence of every one of them. Even Duke is monitoring my thoughts. I give her a look in math, but she isn’t looking at me. I feel like I have no privacy. Every thought I have is being picked apart by four other people. I try my best to ignore them, to think of boring things, do anything to make them stop. By second period, I’m writing poetry. They can deal with the thick Irish poetry I’m trying to imitate. The only person I don’t hear groan is Veronica. I suddenly have a lot more respect for her.
By lunch, my brain hurts from trying to keep them out. I slip my things into my locker, reading more poetry as I walk to lunch. I hum to myself, having a severe lack of McNamara’s singing all morning. I grab a rather healthy lunch compared to usual and start walking over to the table. I keep reading, easily avoiding everyone. I realize I’m the first one to sit down today, oddly enough. I shrug it off, until I hear quick footsteps, and McNamara nearly collides with the table as she runs up to sit down.
I raise my eyebrows at her. “Are you ok?”
She pants. “Yeah!” She stares at me.
“Are you going to get food?”
She hums, trying to smile a bit too broadly. “In a minute.”
I soon hear the heels of the others, trays sliding onto the table. They all sit, and Heather leaves to hop in line. “Why are you here so early?” Heather asks.
I shrug, setting my book down. “I got out of class early.” I start to assemble my burger, enjoying the overly greasy taste. Heather’s eyes are scanning the room. I lean forward, whispering, “What are you doing?”
She narrows her eyes, still searching. “Being a good alpha.”
I glance at Veronica and Duke, who are also looking. All at once, they stop. This is just creepy. “Ok,” I say slowly, taking another bite.
“Just shut up and eat,” Heather says quietly. She barely pokes at her food. Her brow is slightly furrowed. I notice that her hand hasn’t found it’s way onto my leg, for the first time in forever. I don’t reach for her, but it hurts a little. First, she’s not talking to me in the car, now she won’t hold my hand? Did I do something wrong?
After Heather sits back down, she pouts. “Stop thinking so quickly.”
“Uhm. Sorry,” I say. I still don’t know how to stop.
“Oh my God,” Duke says suddenly.
“What?” We all say, some more snappy than others.
“You know how your mom said that she’d put the need from a connection above anything else?” No one answers, so she rolls her eyes and moves on. “What if we get her to avoid him that way? Maybe the connection will override his freaky mumbo jumbo.”
“You really think that would work?” Veronica asks.
“I mean, why not? It can’t hurt to try.”
“It could totally hurt to try. What about what she said about her going crazy?”
“We could put it on a time limit?”
“Someone who isn’t Heather should do it, so we can override it if needed,” Heather McNamara adds.
I just happily munch on my burger as the three of them debate, not knowing what they are talking about, and frankly, not caring. “Who should do it then?”
“Does it need to be a beta? To match his level?”
“Maybe we should just try Heather first. To make sure it doesn’t kill her.”
I slowly stop chewing. That doesn’t sound good. “Do I get a say in whatever this is?”
“No,” they all say.
“Heather will do it,” Heather says with finality.
“You sure?” Heather asks quietly.
“Yes. Heather. Do it.”
I continue eating my burger. They all look at me. “What?” I asked, flushing. Heather clears her throat. I can smell her scent suddenly, surprised she actually is pushing it out for once. I raise my eyebrows at her, finding her staring intently at me. “You ok, Heather?” I want to look at the others but find myself too focused on her increasingly dulling eyes. I lower my burger to my plate. I’m a little concerned about her. “Heather?” I ask quietly. It smells like lemon drops. Her lips start moving, and my thoughts slow. What was I thinking about? The noise dies down around us, the scents of the others disappearing. What is she doing? Her scent suddenly starts slipping away from me. The world comes back into focus. It’s confusing at first. What just happened? I shrug it off, picking up my burger again. I hum as I start eating. I love this greasy thing.
“Well?”
I look up at Chandler next to me, wiping the ketchup from my face. “Well what?”
Heather shakes her head, running a hand through her hair. “Since it’s not immediate, I’m not sure if it worked.”
“We could ask.”
“She wouldn’t remember.”
“I have a good memory, thank you,” I mumble, eating my dressing-drenched salad.
“Ok. What are you going to do if you see Lucas?”
“Uhm,” I furrow my brow. “Walk away?” Is that the right answer? She nods. I sigh, smiling. Great.
We eat lunch peacefully, Heather finally singing again in her thoughts. It’s nice, to have it back. It’s like a comfort blanket now. I hate silence, especially with friends. I try to block out everything but her, but I fail, with some other thoughts slipping in and out. I walk behind Heather to English, her not saying a word. She’s on edge, and it bothers me, especially because I can’t help it. I try to listen for her, but her mind is blocked, her wall apparently seamless.
After school, I organize my locker a bit. I’m not sure I’ve turned in every assignment anymore. I’ve let my social life take control. My grades haven’t slipped, for sure, but I’m not doing all the work I should. I can’t seem to find my poetry book now. I know I set it in my locker before class. Where is it? This is not good. I tear through my things. I can’t find it.
“Looking for this?” I look around my locker. Lucas. I see the book in his hand. As I realize he either stole it or I lost it, I also have the incredible urge to run away, far, far away while simultaneously being extremely attracted to him. My heart flutters when I look into his eyes. But I also need to run? What did I tell Heather I would do?
“Yeah,” I say, confused. “Where did you find it?”
“The lunch room. You must have left it after eating.”
I smile. “Thanks.” I take it, shoving it into my backpack. I close my locker.
He smiles. “We never got to that pizza.”
I blush. “Yeah, we didn’t.” I shove some hair behind my ear, my thoughts fighting for dominance. I remember something about needing to go be with Heather, but at the same time, my brain hardly recognizes anything but him.
He gestures to the door. “Want to go now?”
Do I? I look at the ground, embarrassed at my sudden inability to form any sensible thoughts. I start to panic. I can’t make a decision. My phone buzzes, a phone call. I pull it out. Heather? My Heather? “I should take this,” I mutter.
He nods. “Another time,” he smiles.
I nod back, answering the phone. “Heather?”
“Walk away.”
Her voice is dark, commanding. “Uhm. Ok.” I wave politely and walk away, to go to her car. “Any reason why?” She hangs up. Alright then. When I get outside, I’m greeted by Veronica firmly holding onto my arm and guiding me to the car. “Hi, Veronica,” I greet sarcastically. We get to the car, and I see everyone hovering around it. Veronica releases me. “What’s going on?”
Heather, whose brow is furrowed, shakes her head. “It didn’t do what we wanted, but it somewhat helped. It just made her a little indecisive.”
I try to smile at her politely, but I’m confused. “Indecisive about what?” The door to the school closes and out walks Lucas. Heather’s hand is suddenly looped in mine. I look over at her, wondering why her grey gaze is so dark. Her face has some worry on it. “Hey, are you ok?” I ask quietly. Her eyes seem to follow Lucas as he walks. I turn to also look, but Heather McNamara puts her hand on my arm. Her face is also incredibly worrisome. “Heather?” My hand feels like the blood is being restricted, she’s squeezing my hand so tightly. “What’s going on?” I ask again, more concerned this time.
Heather finally snaps her eyes back to mine. “Nothing.” I try to take my hand away. She rolls her eyes. “Come on, I’ll take you home.” I climb into her car, ringing my hands together. I grip my shirt to stop myself from reaching for her, tapping my feet nervously through the ride. I keep glancing at her, unsure. I know she can hear me. So why does she not care enough to answer me? Make me feel better? The radio is off. The silence is killing me. She finally graces me with a glance, and I nearly fall out of my seat to lean towards her, eager. “You seem a bit flustered.”
I gulp. “Mhm.” What do I say to that? When she still doesn’t answer, I add, “I just don’t understand what’s been going on today.” Her face remains solid, easily directing the car. She simply hums in response. Come. On. This is ridiculous. “Some help would be appreciated.”
She glances at me again, her eyes lacking their usual gleam. “I’m sure. But it’s complicated, and you seem to forget it every time I try to explain it, so I’m not going to waste my breath.”
I raise my eyebrows at her, leaning back. “Well, damn.”
She offers a one-shoulder shrug. “Just go with it and trust me. It’ll make sense at some point.”
“But why are you so…distant?”
“Distant? I’m not distant.”
“Heather. You haven’t held my hand, aside from trying to keep my focus on you, you’ve not once tried to get me into a blushing mess, and you’ve said five words to me all day.”
I can see her muscles tense, grip strangling the steering wheel. “Didn’t know you were so needy,” she mutters.
“Well, excuse me for expecting it after getting accustomed to it.” I stare out the window. “Or is this just your early stages of PMS?” I glance over at her. She just seems to be focused on the road, not listening to me. “Your signs are so confusing.” This is so frustrating. I don’t understand relationships, let alone one with a girl. “Did I do something wrong?”
“You mean aside from saying ‘fuck you’ this morning?” Her tone isn’t malicious, as it should be. It’s bored, like she’s just putting up with this, so I’ll stop talking.
“I’m serious, Heather.”
She sighs, knuckles tightening further on the steering wheel. “No,” she eventually says. That’s a damn lie. I decide not to argue it, seeing as she’ll just play it off until we get to my house. She sighs again, more pained this time, and rubs her temple. “Do you ever stop?”
“Stop what?”
“Do you ever stop thinking so much? Jesus Christ, you could think for all of Sherwood like that.”
“I’m trying to—”
“Never mind.”
I’m going to murder her. “Sorry,” I mutter.
We finally pull into my driveway, and I’m nearly jumping out of the car to get away from the tension in the air. She grabs my hand before I can. I tense in response. Why the sudden affection? She plays with it in her lap, examining it intently. She doesn’t speak for a while, my heart rate rising with each passing moment. She plays with the small gold band on my ring finger, twisting it. With a final sigh, she lets it go. “See you tomorrow,” she mumbles to the gear shift. Wanting to roll my eyes, but resisting, I get my stuff, mutter a goodbye, and head inside.
Through the afternoon and into the night, it felt like they were taking shifts. It was a little irritating. At any given moment, one of them was intently listening. Even when studying calculus, something I was sure would scare them off, they listened. The lack of privacy was getting on my nerves. To keep my mind off their presence, I finish all my homework, even my late assignments. There’s no singing in the back of my mind, making me more anxious. Even though they have free reign on my thoughts, listening to anything they want, I seem to have been blocked off from every miniscule thought they have. No singing, no reading, no dirty thoughts, not even a mention of food. The more I try, the more it hurts. They’re shutting me out. Putting my homework down, I start to try and build up a wall, remember what Heather said. It’s not a very successful wall, like I threw it together in a haste without mortar, but it’s a wall, kind of. I lay in bed that night, them still poking around. I think I dream of England, but I wake up multiple times due to nightmares.
Getting out of bed the next morning was near impossible. With a lack of sleep, questioning my pack, and utter lack of motivation, I want to stay in bed. I want to sleep the day away, ignore all my responsibilities, and be happy. I don’t really even care if they know how I feel about them. They’re the ones blocking me out. Hell, even Heather is refusing to let me hear her sing.
I eventually get up, dressing in the laziest outfit I can find that is still considered trying. I even throw on some lip gloss and mascara for good measure. The obnoxious and impatiently repetitive honking tells me Heather is outside. I run outside, just barely grabbing my things. I slip into the car, just accepting whatever mood she wants to be in. When I look up at her, I see heavy bags under her eyes, only slightly hidden by the makeup. I really want to ask her, but I keep my mouth shut. Her scent is weaker than usual. She’s pale.
Half-way through the ride, I can’t resist. “Are you ok, Heather?” It’s so quiet, I’m not sure I even heard it. I don’t reach for her. I sit still, letting her take the lead.
I watch her throat as she swallows. “I’m fine,” she mumbles, stifling a yawn.
“Heather—”
“Drop it,” she snaps.
And with that, I shut up. The rest of the ride is quiet, even inside my head. They are still doing it. The worst part is that I can’t really tell who is listening at any given time, I just know someone is there. Walking into school, she tenses further, eyes narrowing, hands clenched. She hovers by me at my locker, a rare occurrence. They are so overly protective. I wouldn’t mind so much, probably even enjoy it, if they would tell me why. I hurry so she doesn’t have to wait, then follow with my head down to her locker. The others, waiting around like loyal subjects, looking just as bad. Heather and Heather are leaning against each other, heads resting together, and eyes closed. Veronica leans against the lockers, yawning. They all are pale, they all seem exhausted and strained. Heather cracks her baby blue eyes open to look at us. She yawns, then turns it into a sleepy smile.
As Heather digs into her locker, I brush some hair out of Heather’s eyes. “Are you ok? You all look like you haven’t slept in days.”
She shakes her head. “We’re fine.”
Jeez, everyone just wants to hide whatever is going on from me. Fine. If they don’t want to tell me about it, I’ll keep my nose clean and ignore it. In theory. Heather Duke now opens her eyes. She beckons me over. She stares into my eyes, not speaking. “Yes?” I ask. She doesn’t answer, hands on my shoulders, brow slightly furrowed. She pushes her scent on me slightly, mint occupying my mind now. After several moments of staring at me, her scent disappears, and she blinks. I shiver, unsure of what just happened.
“Perfect timing,” Heather mumbles.
I turn, looking for what she’s grumbling about. I find Lucas walking towards us. I smile, happy to talk to him. “Good morning,” he greets. I go to open my mouth, to greet him back, and I feel like the world is spinning.
“Lucas, you aren’t very bright.”
He rolls his eyes, looking at me. I’m not looking back however, clingy onto Veronica for stability. The floor feels like it’s going to give out at any minute. “I’m really tired of the football players showing up at all hours of the night.”
“Then get the fucking hint,” she sneers.
Veronica’s strong hand wraps around my arm, keeping me upright. I look up at her, her face blurry, clutching my head. “Ver—Veronica?”
As Lucas and Heather argue with each other, Veronica nods, understanding in her eyes. I hardly had to say anything, and she starts helping me to the bathroom. I feel like vomiting now, and I don’t know why. In the bathroom, I rush to the toilet and heave up an empty stomach. She rubs my back as I go, trying to soothe me.
“Jesus,” I breathe.
“Are you ok?”
I lean on the counter, her watching me intently. I nod. “Yeah, I just got dizzy suddenly. I’m not sure why.”
She nods knowingly. “Maybe you’re dehydrated.”
I nod, allowing her to help me out the door. “Maybe.” When we return to the locker, Heather, Heather, and Heather have their heads bent in a circle, looking like they’re conspiring.
Heather, the Jelly Bean she is, grabs my hand. “Everything alright?”
I nod, my brow furrowed. “Yeah, I just got really dizzy back there.” The three of them nod, Heather even smirking slightly. Heather rubs her thumb over my knuckles, and I suddenly feel like I’m interrupting something. “Where did Lucas go?”
“Not sure. Don’t care,” Heather snaps. Her narrowed eyes say different, as she searches the crowd.
“What did he want?”
“What he always wants.”
That’s helpful. When I look to Heather, she just shakes her head. “Don’t worry. Just make sure you don’t pass out today.” She smiles, but there is little light in her eyes. It’s entirely too frightening, to see her face lacking the light she always carries. Her eyes drift closed, and she leans in to rest her head on my shoulder. I tense, not a huge fan of hugs in general, and definitely not in public, but I allow it. She looks like she needs it. Her breathing slows, and by the first bell, I’m pretty sure she’s fallen asleep.
Throughout the morning, they keep up this weird routine of shifts. I can feel a second one join, then one leaving immediately after. My wall does nothing. Thanks, Heather. I greet each one, slowly becoming more and more irritated with it. Before, it was awkward and a little annoying, but now I’m just plain angry with it. Why do they need to be listening so much? What gives them the right?
At lunch, my anger is getting the better of me. I want to give them all a piece of my mind. I laugh to myself at the thought. They’ve had more than one piece by now. I jump, feeling Heather Duke’s sudden presence at my side. I don’t greet her, and just to be passive aggressive, I grab all the greasy things I can. I’m polite enough to wait for her to sit down. At the table, I consider sitting in a different spot just to mess with everyone. I’m feeling very passive aggressive today. I get a glare from Heather and sit down next to her regardless.
Her hand finds my knee, and I slap it off, feeling satisfied. If she wanted to send mixed signals, I’ll send plenty right back. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a small twitch at the corner of her mouth. Her hand reappears on my knee, and when I go to move it off, her long nails dig into the soft flesh on the side of my knee. I stall, biting back an angry gasp. I’m too angry, and, frankly, stubborn, to allow something as small as that to win. I move my knee suddenly, harsh enough to get her hand off. I keep assembling my tiny salad, slightly smiling to myself. In the back of my mind, I feel the slight tickle of a presence, which had thankfully been small up until now. You want to play, Kitten? Let’s play. Oh, dear lord. Trying to keep my thoughts clean, calm, and quiet, I feel goosebumps race across my skin. Her hand once again finds my knee, but she pinches the skin of my inner thigh, then rubs a small circle with her thumb. I clench my jaw, stabbing my lettuce angrily. For one, it isn’t quite fair that I have nothing to fire back with. Second, what a freaking mood swing after yesterday. I try to move my leg, but her grip is solid, remaining firm. It creeps up, from my knee towards my shorts. At least I’m not wearing a skirt. It slowly creeps higher. It’s no longer a game of getting her hand off, it’s a game of keeping calm and quiet.
“Are you even listening?” Duke snaps.
My eyes find hers, and I start to shove the pizza in my mouth to avoid conversation. I nod, taking a hearty bite. The tips of her fingers graze the line of my shorts. I tense.
She gives me a suspicious look but keeps talking regardless. When I realize she’s talking about tonight, I zone out. I can just get Heather to explain later. I bite back another gasp, Heather’s hand now slipping under the front of my shirt to brush my underbelly. My hand finds her wrist, trying to stall her from moving any further. I’ll bite her later for this.
“Relax, Heather. It’ll be fine,” Veronica mumbles.
“No, Ronnie, it won’t.”
Heather is winning. We both know she is. I stand, grabbing my cup, as well as Heather’s. I mumble my departure and escape to get some air. Her scent is so intoxicating. I bet she’s just doing this to prove how easy it is for her to get me flustered. I won’t deny that she has a strong hold over me, but I don’t appreciate it being demonstrated in front of the others.
“Hey.”
I yelp and jump, spilling some of the water. “Betty!” I smile, calming myself. “You scared me.”
She smiles softly. “Sorry. I’ve just not seen you around.”
I smile apologetically, knowing this would come eventually. “Yeah, sorry.” I glance over her shoulder and slightly panic when I see them all watching. Stupid tests. “You know how Heather can be.”
She shrugs. “Sure, I get it. I just thought…”
I watch her gulp down the words. “Thought what?”
“That we were…friends. You know?” She chances a glance at me, and apparently doesn’t like what she sees as she looks back down. “Once they got their claws in you, you were gone.”
I gently pat her shoulder. “Can I make it up to you?” How can I avoid a guilt trip with her looking like that?
Her face brightens slightly. “Martha, Katherine and I are getting together tomorrow night to watch a movie.”
I wonder if Heather will let me ditch the party. “I’ll see. I’m not sure if…” I trail off.
She nods knowingly. “Sure. No big deal. I get it.” She smiles slightly. “Did Veronica tell you she used to hang out with us too?”
I drop my hand, filling the other cup. “Yeah, kind of.”
“Martha sure misses her.”
I stand now holding the cups, awkwardly, not liking where this conversation is going. “I’m sorry.”
Sadness tints her eyes, and I can tell she wants to say more. But she doesn’t, deciding on, “I guess that’s how it goes. I hope to see you tomorrow.” She smiles again, more happily this time, and walks away.
Now taking a deep breath, preparing my nerves, deciding how to take on the lionesses ready to tear into my gazelle body, I walk back towards the table. My hands shake, and to be honest, I could vomit again. I set down Heather’s cup, ignoring Duke’s raised eyebrows. Shakily, I sit, avoiding eye contact with each one of them. I even jump slightly when Heather speaks.
“What did she want?” Her voice is quiet, low, threatening.
I gulp, trying to think of a lie quickly. I shrug, speaking through a mouthful of pizza. “Nothing.”
She leans forward, eyes narrowed. She reaches up and lightly taps my temple. “Lie to me again,” she threatens.
I pale, averting my gaze into the food below me. “She invited me to watch a movie tomorrow night with her,” I mumble.
Duke snorts. “Lame.”
I can almost see Heather’s anger radiating off her, but I keep my mouth shut. Her hand is absent now. “But what about the party?” she asks in a mockingly sweet voice.
“Look, I already know—”
Her tone is back. “Then why the Hell did you offer?” I sigh, my will to fight long gone. She gives me a solid stare, then returns to eating. “They can’t take a hint.”
“Looking for an omega for leadership? It’s pathetic,” Duke joins in.
I clench my fists but stare at my food. In my ear, she hisses, “Bathroom. Now.” She stands, leaving her tray. I get an amused look and two apologetic looks as I stand, following her out of the lunch room. Thankfully, people tend to ignore me in her presence, so I don’t have to think about people staring at me. The second I get into the bathroom, I’m yanked into a stall and pressed flush against it.
“Jesus, Heather, and you aren’t even in heat,” I joke, even though I shrink under her. Her only response is her angry breathing. A hand closes around me throat, the other pressed against my stomach, face close to mine. Her scent hits me like a brick, and I whimper slightly, wanting to escape. “Heather,” I breathe. “I’m—I—”
“Shut up,” she snaps, grip tightening. “I’m tired of the little nobodies following you around.”
I know trying to shove her off is useless. The best I can do is send out my scent and hope I don’t make her angrier. “I know,” keeping my voice low and soothing. I think I can feel her claws poking out. “I understand. I’m sorry.” Please don’t make me submit. Please don’t make me submit.
She closes her eyes, resting her forehead against mine. Maybe my scent is working. “I just want them all to shut up and back off.”
Although I want to pry her off me, I know that won’t help. I bring my arms up, using the backs of my fingers to stroke her cheeks. “It’s ok, Heather.” She presses closer, jaw still tight. “I’ll do better,” I whisper.
She grunts at that, grip tightening. “It doesn’t matter what you do,” she grumbles. “They always swarm, they always hover, it’s like flies on shit.” Her eyes open into mine, too dark for my liking. “I thought Veronica would be the end of it.”
Her grip is too tight for me to breathe normally. I stand on my toes, trying to find some air. “Hea—Heather…” I finally bring hand to hers on my neck. “I—I can’t—”
She doesn’t let up. “It won’t end.” Her claws dig into my neck, and my eyes squeeze shut. I can feel myself slipping, my scent not as strong as I need it. “I’m so…tired…” She eventually lets her hand loosen around my throat. It drifts up to hold me face while I gasp and cough. “I’m so tired,” she repeats.
I leave my eyes closed, just thankful for air. She’s still angry, I can feel it, smell it. “I know you are,” I whisper, my voice now scratchy. “I know. But that’s why you have a pack, to—”
“They make it worse.”
I try to keep my voice even and calm, regardless of the fact that she interrupted me. “You can ask your pack for help.” She doesn’t answer. “You don’t have to bear everything on your shoulders. Especially when you have two betas.”
Her breathing slows slightly. “I have asked them…” Her tone is even quiet now. Ok. I can do this.
My hands run over her shoulders, massaging gently. “You’re ok, Heather. Take a deep breath.” I feel her body relax slightly. “A few more hours of a straight face, and then you can let it all out.” She sighs, her thumb rubbing over my cheek. I look up into her eyes. “You can do this.”
She nods. “I can do this.”
I smile softly, checking her outfit. “Ok?”
I watch her swallow. “Yes.”
She doesn’t move. “Heather?”
“I hate you,” she groans, before shoving her lips against mine. I push lightly against her, but I know full well I can’t stop her. Instead, I patiently reciprocate, allowing her to do what she needs. After a few moments, she breaks, huffing, “Ok,” and leaves the stall. She stands in front of the mirror, fixing herself, stone cold and solid once again. I wait patiently by the door, and eventually we head back to the lunch room together. Neither of us talk at the table, the air stiff and angry. I watch her out of the corner of my eye, munching on some carrots, scanning the room. What, or who, I suppose, is she even looking for?
In class, we start a new book, one that I’ve only read twice, so I’m excited to pay attention for once in class. It’s a nice distraction from the constant presence in my mind. I hum to myself, singing some 60’s songs since Heather won’t. I chance a glance over my shoulder, seeing Heather smiling, ever-so-slightly, almost imperceptibly, doodling. I stop humming to myself when I see her, smiling to myself as well. Her smile drops, and her eyes snap upward to find mine. Her face is hard stone, but there’s a small flash of amusement in her eyes. It disappears quickly, and she goes back to doodling. Now self-conscious of my singing, I stop, trying to focus on the teacher. It’s not particularly interesting, even with the new material. I end up doodling as well. I am by no means an artist, but I’m decent enough to get an award in junior high. I pull up the image of Heather McNamara in my mind, the easiest face to memorize. I try to draw her out, smiling, eyes shining from her own happiness. By the end of class I have a good start, and by the end of the day, I have a decent enough sketch. It could be better of course, but I got her features correct, shading well done, all that artsy stuff. I’m proud of it. I tear out the page I drew it on and shove it into my poetry book.
“Are you going to let me see it?”
I jump, then relaxing into a smile as I look up into a pair of sharp grey eyes. I blush. “It’s not that good…”
She smiles quickly, before resetting her face. “I’m sure it’s better than you think.”
Fearing harsh judgement, I shake my head. “You can see yours when I finish it,” I mumble, blushing harsher.
She starts leading towards the door. “I get one?”
I hold the door for her. “Of course. It’d be weird to draw one person and not the others.” I climb into her car. “I didn’t plan on giving them to anyone, though.”
“They’ll love it.”
“Even Heather?”
She snorts. “Yeah, it’ll inflate her ego.”
I smile, wanting to take her hand. “Should I be worried about tonight?”
“No,” she shrugs. “Mother will even have assigned seats.”
“Just wear…a dress?”
She smirks. “Absolutely,” she purrs.
I redden. “I don’t think your mother will sit us next to each other.”
“No,” her smirk widens. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the view.”
I shiver, goosebumps running up my arms. “This is going to be difficult tonight, isn’t it?”
“If I have a say in it…” She trails off, her eyes dragging quickly over my body before lining back up on the road. I hate to say it, but my breathing hitches regardless. “You’re staying the night, right?” I gulp, nodding, too flustered to form words at the moment. “Good.” We pull up to my house, and she smiles, soft and small, more warmly than predatory this time. “See you soon.” I bid her farewell, almost skipping with happiness into the house. She’s happy with me again, after yesterday and her outburst earlier, happiness is a broad category. I tell my parents to call me when they are ready and slip into my room.
I sit at my desk, trying to keep Heather fresh in my mind. Instead of drawing her from a downward angle, as I did with Heather, I draw her on her stomach, propped up on an elbow. Her smile will be smaller, but just as warm. Maybe she’ll hate it, but I leave her gorgeous locks loose and slightly messy, with no makeup and freckles out in the open. I want them to see them as I see them, with Heather a bright ball of happiness and Heather beautiful no matter what, and I’m not sure about Heather and Veronica, but I’ll figure it out eventually. I have a couple of hours, so I take my time. I can’t get her nose right, I always seem to make her nostrils too big for the bridge. It’s a smudged mess by the time my parents call me. It doesn’t take me long to get ready, and I decide to study her nose tonight, commit it to memory, as well as check my accuracy on Heather’s drawing.

Chapter Text

We pull up to the Chandler mansion. I have to admire Heather’s Porsche in the front, but I also gasp at the others. There’s a yellow Lamborghini, obviously belonging to the McNamara’s, and a forest green BMW that can undoubtedly be Duke’s. I breathe a sigh of relief when I see a deep blue Honda next to our own white Honda, and I’m grateful to not be the only poor person here. The door opens, and Mr. Chandler ushers us in. I follow behind my parents, smiling softly to Mr. Chandler as I pass. He takes my bag, setting it down in the living room for later.
There’s a polite level of chatting coming from the living room. Of course, we’re early but still late. The girls themselves are standing in a tight circle, giggling together, all in dresses. The parents are mixed between the bar and standing. Mr. Duke is the first to speak to us.
“Turner!” He grins. Boy, Heather is sure his daughter. “Congrats on that closing!”
My dad, who I can now smell is superior to Duke, grins back, shaking his hand. “Thank you. It sure was a negotiation process.”
The fathers seem to know all about my dad’s business dealings. My mother, on the other hand, undoubtedly intimidated, joins the polite conversation on the house design, which they had apparently redone recently. Thankful for the unfaltering acceptance of my parents, I cross the room to the girls.
Remaining stiff, unappreciative of the massive amount of new smells and superiors, it takes me a moment to find the familiar scents and find comfort in them. I smile, trying to remain calm, but my mind is racing on what they will think of my parents.
“You look nice,” Heather beams, probably trying to focus me and quiet my mind.
“Thanks,” I say. It comes out more strained than I thought. I glance at Heather, leaning against the wall, messing with her gold band, eyes bright and narrow. That surely doesn’t help.
“Relax,” she says quietly, as if it were as simple as that.
I wipe my hands on my dress. “Easy for you to say,” I mumble.
“Hey, at least your parents didn’t call the wrong thing ‘pâté,’” Veronica offers. “They’re doing better than my parents did.”
“Yeah, but then my mom will turn all hippie with her herbal remedies…”
She chuckles, squeezing my hand. “Our parents are going to get along great.”
“Heather said you drew me?” Heather asks, excitement brimming.
Ah, shit. Damn it, Heather. It was meant to be a surprise. “Yup,” I say briefly.
“Can I see?”
She’s like a child, bouncing and happy. It takes me a minute to form the words. “It’s not…done.”
Her mouth pouts a bit. “When you have it done?”
I just realized I made her chin too big, and one ear too small. “Sure.” I redden slightly, realizing I was open scanning my eyes around her face. “I brought some paper and a pencil.”
She claps lightly. “Great!”
I chuckle lightly, messing nervously with a strand of hair. “I think you overestimate my ability.” I glance up at Heather, now trying to decide how to shape her nose. I think I was right the first time. She’s never been hit in the nose, based on how perfect the arch is. It buttons up at the end, not too soft for her commanding air, but cute enough for her face. I think I quite like it—
“Yes?” she asks, smile twitching.
“Hm?” She cocks an eyebrow. “Nothing.”
“Alright, everyone,” Mrs. Chandler calls. “Why don’t we get seated, and we can get started.” The adults easily find their seats, used to the assigned seating by now. The girls sit between her respective parents. My dad sits next to Mr. Duke, my mother at the corner of the table, across from Mr. Chandler, which means Heather is directly in front of me. The table is not, by any means, too wide to reach across the table, or under. I feel a soft, manicured foot brush my leg. I tense, earning a brief twitch of a smile from Heather. This better not happen all through dinner. The maid brings out drinks for everyone, water for us girls, and offering wine for the adults. My father is the only one to decline.
“Well, it is good to meet the both of you under more…relaxed circumstances,” Mrs. Chandler begins, sipping her wine. Her eyes flick to me as they pass to my mother, and my wolf perks slightly at the short acknowledgment. I find myself blushing extremely hard, and not from Heather for once. I stand suddenly. Furrowing a brow, “Are you alright, darling?”
Her voice resonates inside me, and I offer a strangled, confused noise before rushing into the kitchen. I hear someone calling my name, but I dodge the maid and swing the fridge open. I rummage through, the maid looking on, most likely utterly confused but probably not caring. I find what I’m looking for, almost tripping over myself to get back to her, I rush back in.
I clear my throat, holding the egg lightly in my hand. “Uhm…Mrs. Chandler…I…” I stop, just holding the egg for her, standing by her, waiting. “I’m not sure why, but…you need this.”
Her mouth twitches, and it’s almost endearing how much it looks like Heather’s when she does it. “Thank you,” she says quietly, setting it down next to her wine. I stare at it, then realize I’m standing and move to sit back down. I keep my gaze down, embarrassed at my sudden outburst. I just focus on Mr. Chandler’s sudden drumming of his fingers on the table. “Anyway,” Mrs. Chandler smiles, trying to bring the table back to the normal, relaxed mood.
She launches into a conversation, but I don’t care to listen. I can feel Mr. Chandler’s eyes digging into me, but that’s nothing to the look Heather is giving me. It’s full of anger, confusion, and fascination? It’s a weird look, and I hate it.
I’m taking a drink of water, to calm myself, when I hear, “Isn’t it just pure luck they happen to be mates, too?” I choke, some water even trickling out of my nose. Shit, shit, shit. I hadn’t told my parents yet. I hadn’t had the heart to tell my dad he’ll never get those cute little grandkids he always dreamt about, to tell my mother I would be with a girl, to have to explain what that means for sexual stuff. I hadn’t told them yet, and I was hoping to do it at a good time, with them in a good mood. It wasn’t—
I hear Heather let out a small, pain gasp, and I realize my thoughts are out of control. I’m panicking, hard core, and I’m not sure how to get out of it. Honestly, she can deal for the time being. My mother is the first to respond, letting out a small chuckle. “What? She never mentioned anything…”
I’m blushing like no other, and I brace for what my dad is about to say. I never discussed anything with my parents concerning mates, as they assumed it would be the same as 99% of other wolves. I send a pleading look to Heather; whose face is calm and collected. “What luck, indeed…” my dad mummers, taking a drink of wine. He doesn’t look mad, but he’s the kind that allows the anger to simmer under the surface until he can let it out, making it worse.
I hear a soft, pleading voice in the back of my mind, not my own obviously, trying to calm me down. I ignore it, more concerned as to where this conversation is going to go. Scratch that, I’m more concerned what Heather is going to think about me keeping it from my parents.
Mrs. Chandler speaks again. “We should all go running sometime. It’s fascinating to watch the girls together.”
“I’m sure,” Mrs. McNamara pipes up, her voice much like her daughter’s. “With a full pack, they must be quite strong for their age.”
The conversation, thanks to Mrs. Chandler, dissolves into gushing over each respective daughter, even outside of wolf form. I feel my mom grab my hand under the table. I look up at her, feeling on the verge of tears, and I see her smiling softly at me. It’s the smile she gives when she keeps my secret for me, when she covers for me from church, when she faces dad with me. It makes me want to cry more. At least my mother supports me. I won’t be completely disowned.
My thoughts slow enough to hear soft singing once again, paired with more pleas to calm down. I look across the table, staring intently at Heather’s irises. They’re dark but not angry. I can’t place the emotion held within, but as long as it’s not anger, I’m ok with that. When my thoughts slow enough to only hear singing, and the pleas stop, she offers the tiniest of smiles, quick and small for only me to see. She nods her head slightly, almost commending me for calming myself.
It’s not long before the awkward feeling in the at the table disappears and food is served. It’s a regular surf n’ turf type of meal, and I feel the slight tickle on my leg again. It’s oddly soothing, grounding, even if she means it for something else. The dinner is pleasant, but with us girls being separated, it’s boring. I don’t care to listen to my mother discuss medicine with Mr. Chandler or my dad giving a sales pitch for a land in England for investment. I instead allow my eyes to drift over each of the girls faces, save for Heather, who is next to me, trying to remember the shape and details. I even try to place where each stray lock of brown hair flies away from Veronica’s head.
When the meal was finished, even dessert, Mrs. McNamara, who must be the higher-ranking member of the couple, speaks up. “Why don’t we go running now? I’m sure the girls would enjoy it.”
“I think that’s an excellent idea. Why don’t you girls go get ready?”
I almost shove my chair over, too excited to get away from this table. We get up to Heather’s room, and the gossipy tones soon follow.
“Oh my God,” Heather sneers. “You didn’t tell your parents?”
I don’t want to deal with this. I just want to punch her smug face and move on. “I wasn’t sure how to handle it.”
“Heather, be nice. My parents weren’t so easy-going either,” Heather chides. She smiles. “Don’t worry. They’ll get used to it.” Heather is oddly quiet, but I guess that’s better than her screaming at me.
After changing into more comfortable clothing, we pile down the stairs and towards our parents’ cars. I’m not sure how they plan to shift, having to strip and all, but whatever. They can deal with that. Once inside the car, my dad finally addresses it.
“Your mate…is a girl?” His tone is low, and I can’t tell if it’s from confusion or simmering anger.
“Yes,” I whisper.
“And you’re 100% positive?”
“Yes.”
“And you kept it from us?”
“I didn’t know how to tell you.” I sniffle, nervously picking at my nails in the backseat. “I know this is difficult. It wasn’t easy for me either. It isn’t exactly what I imagined when I was younger.”
He is quiet, driving behind the others. Instead, my mother takes over. “Does she at least make you happy?”
Both my dad and I look at her, a little shocked at the question. It takes me a minute, honestly debating it with myself, but I whisper again, “Yes.”
“Then we will support you in it.” She gives a warning look to my dad when he goes to speak. “We understand this isn’t something you could have chosen, but it what is meant to be. Right, honey?”
My dad sighs heavily, jaw clenched. “Yes, of course.” When my eyes meet his in the rearview mirror, some of the anger melts away with a small smile. “But don’t think I won’t treat her like any other boy you’ve dated.”
I almost cry from happiness. “Thank you,” I sniff.
When we arrive at one of the more open fields, it’s an awkward stand off as we wait for each other to decide what to do. Eventually we hide behind the Duke’s car, shifting as quickly as we can. Heather looks like she’s almost in pain with how she’s walking. McNamara pants happily as she rolls around, enjoying the air. Although I want to play with her, I sit patiently at Heather’s side. She seems to be waiting for something. She turns to me. I perk, but otherwise don’t move. She huffs, walking into the field and laying down. I take that as my cue to do whatever, so I slam into McNamara and play with her, allowing her to get a few fake bites in for good measure. She tires too quickly for my liking, so I bother Veronica instead, who happily joins. She doesn’t try at first, but when I start winning, she fights a little harder.
I stall, picking up a new scent. Well, it’s new to the night. It’s Lucas. Veronica barks, confused by my sudden stillness. I roll out from under her and perk up at the direction of the scent. When I go to follow it, Chandler stands in my way. Tall and overpowering by her stare alone, I lower my body to the ground. Veronica stands over me, and Heather leaves. I want to follow the scent, find the source, but I know better than to move after she clearly wanted me to stay.
Suddenly, clear as if she were speaking to me in person, I hear her voice in my head. I don’t smell it. I lift my head and look at her.
Concentrating hard, trying to make the thought loud and clear despite the millions of other thoughts I my head, I respond. I’ll find it. I stand once more, excited slightly to prove myself right.
Like a shout, Sit. I comply. Stay here. She starts to trot away, Duke is quick to come to attention and follow. Veronica stays, as does Heather, who is happily chasing her tail. I whine at Veronica, begging to follow. She just sits next to me, cleaning her paws. I switch between sitting and standing as I wait for her to return.
Come back, I beg lightly. I’m not even sure she can hear me. After several minutes, I can feel her approach. I stand, barking at her approach. She’s no longer calm, no longer just looking for it. She’s found it. And she’s frightened. It makes me angry. Whatever happened, I couldn’t be there to stop it.
Duke arrives first, panicked barking and hair standing on end. Chandler soon follows, slowly, limping heavily. I race to meet her, licking at her leg, searching for a wound. She must have just sprained it or something. Regardless, she’s hurt. And that is not ok. I take off in the direction she came from. Whoever did this deserves payback. How dare you hurt her? I don’t care who you are—
I skid to a halt as a large dark wolf appears, eyes bright and keen on me. I want to attack it, knowing it caused Heather pain. Instead, I lower myself onto my stomach. I don’t whine or anything, just still. I’m not quite sure why.
“Lucas, I suppose?” I jump and look over my shoulder at Mrs. Chandler’s voice. Lucas responds with harsh barking, slobber dripping onto the ground. Her voice drops. “Come here,” she commands. Feeling a bit torn, I stand anyway, trotting over to her with my tail between my legs, sitting next to Heather. I lick her leg, whining softly into her. Lucas snarls harder, crouching as he approaches. “Calm down, boy. You don’t want do anything stupid.” But he is a lone wolf, and they tend to be more aggressive anyway. He has no sense of respect for the higher-ranking wolves, no care for the consequences. He is too close for my liking, especially with McNamara one of the closer ones to him.
Without further warning, he lunges, my fears ringing true. He collides with McNamara, who, stupidly, was not prepared for a true fight. Duke is quick to help, earning a yelp of surprise from him. I stand between them and Heather, prepared, but she growls, holding me back. He’s not getting a hold of her. If Heather doesn’t handle this soon, I will. When I hear a sharp howl of pain from our sweet Jelly Bean, I can’t hold back any longer. I feel a quick nip on my tail as I join the fray. I’m good at being a decoy, I’ve discovered, knocking Lucas off enough for Heather and Heather to escape. They move out of the way, back behind Veronica, and they don’t look too bad. He does go for me, so I scoot slowly backwards, growling as warning, but just putting myself in between as a shield.
“Don’t you have the decency to speak to us?” He snaps in response. “How about we all shift and talk this out as civil adults?” Her tone is near condescending. He just paces slightly, eyeing the others behind me, so in response, I let out a long growl and widen my stance, the hair on my back standing further on edge, making myself larger. “Trust me, boy. You don’t want to push this any further than you already have.” He slowly quiets, stopping his pacing. Barking quickly, he turns and runs off. I start to follow, but I feel a sharp tug from a handful of fur. Mrs. Chandler hums. “Gemma, dear. Sit still.” I drop my butt, still staring in the direction. I sniff after him, but eventually the scent disappears. I focus then on Heather, wondering if her wounds are too deep. I whine into her, but she doesn’t seem too injured. I move onto Heather then, who just shoves me off with her nose.
Pacing anxiously around the others, I’m unsure what to do. Heather seems extremely calm for this. And why didn’t Veronica help? With a huff, Heather stands and walks around the car. We soon follow, dressing quickly. The moment I have my clothes on, I reach for her arm.
“Heather,” my voice thick with worry. “Are you ok? What happened?”
She winces when I brush her elbow. “I’m fine,” she snaps, shoving my hand away. “Don’t touch it.” I still cling heavily to her side, feeling like I’ve failed her. I let her get hurt. Again. I’m a piece of shit. I’m a horrible person, a horrible omega. If anyone should be hurt, it should be me. I should— “Stop,” she sighs, shaking her head. I know I should keep my thoughts quiet, but I’m not very good at it. “It’s not your fault,” she whispers. Regardless, my guilt is still off the chart. She can deal with my thoughts for all I care. I’m going to keep blaming myself.
Mr. and Mrs. Chandler bend their heads, discussing something quietly. She glances my way but nothing else. We wait patiently, and when they decide to finish speaking, it’s Mr. Chandler who speaks first. “I think further investigation will be needed, but I believe that Gemma’s own mental…instability is strengthening the connection.”
I squint my eyes, not liking the term “instability.” My mother speaks quietly from my dad’s arm. “Are—Are you saying…”
“We aren’t saying anything final,” Mrs. Chandler says calmly. “But it’s hard to look past the signs—”
“Signs of what?” I ask, blatantly interrupting her.
Her gaze slips to me, so I squeak quietly and slip behind the cover of Heather. “I’ve never seen it, only read about it. It’ll be difficult to place, and even more so to control.”
I grip the cloth around Heather’s lower back tightly, wanting to get more information. “But,” Mr. Chandler continues, “it is a wonderful asset if trained properly. She’s already stronger than she should be. This will push it further.”
“For now, we’ll just keep an eye on it.” I hear Mrs. Chandler sigh. “How is school going?” No one answers. “Heather?”
She must have been looking at McNamara, because she jerks her gaze up. I see her gulp, glancing at the others. “I—We—Well—” She sighs, frustrated, looking to Heather for help.
Heather shifts her weight. “We gave her the uncontrollable urge to vomit whenever she saw Lucas.”
“You what?” both Mrs. Chandler and I cry. I want to yell at them but decide it best to wait until later. Mrs. Chandler can deal the blows first, and I’ll just kick them while they’re down.
Heather shrugs nonchalantly. “It worked. So what does it matter?”
“It matters,” Mrs. Chandler hisses, “Because that’s not how connections are meant to be used.”
“We can’t babysit her thoughts 24/7, mother.”
There’s a small silence, tense and angry. McNamara clears her throat. She stutters at first. “It—It took a toll on us,” she says shyly. “Even when she was sleeping.” I catch her glance. “One day, and we were all exhausted. We had to think of something.” She slowly quiets to a whisper as Mrs. Chandler watches her intently. She squeaks as Mrs. Chandler takes a step towards her. “I’m sorry!” she squeals, hiding behind Duke, who is arguably just as scared.
“Whose idea was it?” she asks quietly. No one answers. “If I have to ask again—”
“Mine,” Heather Chandler says quickly. She casts a glance at Heather and Heather, knowing full well she is the only one capable of standing up to the consequence from her mother. “It was my idea.” She says again, quietly, gaze dropping.
Mrs. Chandler rounds on her, anger flaring, and Heather, for the first time I’ve seen her being threatened, takes a step back. “Do you realize what damage you could have done? How permanent that could have been?” In Heather’s face now, her tone drops, and I can feel Heather shake slightly. “You could have seriously hurt her.”
It was stupid. I know that. But it wasn’t a conscious decision. With the almost sickening scent coming from Mrs. Chandler and the paired, scared scent from Heather, my instincts kick in, and I can’t stop myself. Regardless of her rank under Mrs. Chandler, Heather is still my alpha. And I’ve already failed defending her once tonight.
Letting a small, frightened whimper escape, keeping my eyes on the ground, I squeeze between them, hands gripping at Heather’s stomach for stability. My scent collides with theirs, attempted to steal the attention from Heather to me. I’ll have a better chance of calming her than Heather does. I know they are staring each other down, but after my scent envelopes the area, I feel Mrs. Chandler’s eyes drop. My lip quivers, but otherwise, I’m still as can be.
“We will discuss this later,” Mrs. Chandler eventually speaks, stepping back. Nearly gasping from relief, I turn and hide behind Heather again. My arm slips around her waist, hugging her from behind. “Aside from your idiotic plan,” she nearly growls, “how is she reacting?” No one speaks, and she sighs angrily. “Answer me, right now.”
Veronica, the strong fava bean she is, takes the next wave of attention. “Well, she…you know…uh?”
Jesus, no one can talk tonight. I can almost hear the eye-roll in Heather’s voice when she picks up. “She got caught by Lucas yesterday morning, and when we couldn’t pull her out of it, I—” she pauses, finishing the sentence quietly, “kissed her, to get her attention off him.” She shrugs, as I turn as red as her shirt. “It worked. She only sees him at the beginning and end of school, so it wasn’t hard to avoid him. It was getting her attention back that was difficult.”
“So she never actively sought him out?” Mr. Chandler asks.
Heather shakes her head. “No, probably too scared.”
Mr. Chandler hums quietly. “Odd.”
Mr. Duke finally joins in. “That’s not common for…” he glances at me, “this. Are you sure?” Mr. Chandler doesn’t answer. “You realize if we don’t do this correctly, it’ll—”
“I’m well aware, Marcus.” Mr. Chandler’s tone is almost dripping with condescension. “That’s why we aren’t rushing into anything.”
Mr. McNamara joins in. “Are we sure she should be around the others? If—”
“That would be ridiculous to—”
The adults dive into a full argument, the only one not partaking is Mrs. Chandler, who intently listens in. I feel Heather pry my arm off her, turning towards me. The others quickly slip over, out from under the scrutiny of Mrs. Chandler.
“Can someone please explain what is happening? What are they arguing about?” I ask quietly, begging them all with my eyes.
Heather bites her lip, almost looking at Heather for permission. “It’s complicated.”
“I swear to God, if I hear that phrase again, I’m going to freak out. It’s obviously about me. I deserve to know.”
“It’s hard to explain.”
I gesture grandly to the adults. “We’ve got time.”
Veronica takes over. “They’re debating if you’re like Heather’s dad.”
“What? I don’t know what that means.”
“Some wolves are…gifted with other, superfluous abilities.” I raise my eyebrows, slightly shocked that she used “superfluous.” “And Heather’s dad’s gift is related to his healing work.”
I stare at them, and after a moment of silence, and I let out a huff of a laugh. “This is ridiculous. Tell me what really—”
“We are, dipshit,” Duke snaps. “They think you have heightened senses or something.”
Veronica rolls her eyes, taking back control of the conversation. “It’s rare, supposedly, and it means you have strong connections with people.”
“Which, according to mother, is why we couldn’t smell Lucas, but you could.” Heather gently massages her arm, fingers wiggling slightly. “If they are correct, it could be one of those ‘in the wrong hands, it’s a great weapon’ type of gifts.”
Confused, I shift uncomfortably. “That…what? Connections as in what we have with our mind thing? That doesn’t help me too much. I…what?”
Heather grabs my hand, intertwining our fingers. “Yes and no. Heather’s mom taught us how to connect with you, you don’t really remember doing it, but we can all do it. You somehow make those connections stronger, stronger than they should be.”
“What I mean by ‘great weapon’ is that you could take control of certain situations, use people’s connections against them.”
“I’m…” This hurts my brain. “I’m just an omega, I can’t…do that.”
“Like I said, it’s rare,” Veronica says again, taking my other hand. “But with help, you could work with it, for…reasons.”
I let go of their hands to rub my temples. “This makes no sense,” I whine softly.
Heather rubs my back, speaking softly. “We’ll figure it out. We’re here for you.”
The arguing in the background seems to die down, a few angry faces and scents. “If anything happens to the girls because she can’t control it, there will be Hell to pay,” Mr. Duke says harshly.
“It will be fine. She’s too submissive to try,” Mrs. Chandler says matter-of-factly. I hate that word.
“Even on Heather?” Mrs. McNamara asks.
“Yes. Even with Heather, she’s still too low of a rank. Besides, she doesn’t understand what’s happening to be able to.”
“But what about when she does learn?”
“She should have a strong enough emotional bond with them to not try.”
“Should being the key word,” Mr. Duke grumbles.
“Everyone, just relax. All the girls will learn at once. If, that is, it is decided that she should learn how to do it.” When no one continues to argue with her, she goes on. “The least that needs to be done, however, is teaching her how to recognize the strength of a connection. If she doesn’t, she will be in danger around anyone who knows.” There’re more nods than not, scents calming, my anxiety that had risen during the entire argument slowly falling as I can focus on Heather’s once again. I grip her hand, needing something to ground myself with. “She won’t be alone. This is the best situation we could ask for to teach her.”
The anger and fear finally leave the air, for the most part. “I’ll start by running some tests, and we can go from there.” Mr. Chandler’s voice is starkly calm compared to his wife’s harsh commanding one. “For tonight, I believe it is best to call it a night and get some sleep.”
His tone apparently had the desired effect, as the families split to go to their respective cars. I climb in with my parents, keeping quiet once again. It’s a comfortable silence, and I have absolutely no intention of breaking it. We pull into the Chandler mansion once again.
“The girls are still welcome to stay, of course,” Mr. Chandler offers, opening the front door.
Honestly surprised that my parents allow it, with the many new revelations about me tonight, they kiss me goodbye, and tell me to be safe at the party tomorrow. I blush, wishing they didn’t know about that, but thank them, being the last one to walk into the house.
I cringe when I walk inside, Mrs. Chandler’s scent once again angry and powerful. “What were you thinking?” I hear from the living room. Here we go.
“I told you, Mother. What do you want me to say?”
“I want you to tell me what possessed you to do something so idiotic, so dangerous!”
I step into the room, going unnoticed, thankfully, my scent covered by theirs and my already easily over-looked appearance allowing me to blend in behind the others. I feel uncomfortable, witnessing an argument between the two. Heather sighs angrily, rolling her eyes. “Fine, whatever. We weren’t thinking it through. I don’t know what else you—”
“You don’t understand why I’m so angry, do you?” Without waiting for an answer, “You barely know how to do this in the first place, you didn’t even think about the consequences, and you put your omega, of all people, in danger.” Heather drops her gaze, taking a more defensive stance, almost curling inward in submission under her mother. “I can’t wait until you’ve been a full pack long enough for you to start feeling her pain. Your pack members are not people you can screw around with, especially not someone as weak as her, and…” her volume raises dangerously, “she’s your mate!” No one breathes, the only sound is Mrs. Chandler’s angry pacing. “These girls are the most important people in your life, and you have the guts to risk something like that? You are so irresponsible, so inconsiderate, so reckless! I thought I taught you better than this!”
“Mother—”
“No.” She holds up a hand. “The damage is done, Heather. I told you what could happen if not done properly. You just got an omega, hardly even able to her bond yet, and you jeopardize her and your relationship.” Her fists clench, but she stays out of arms reach of her daughter. “You realize that her wolf can make her own decisions. You lost some trust by abusing the ability. I’m surprised she even remotely listened to you tonight. She certainly didn’t have to. You don’t deserve for her to follow your orders.”
“Mother—”
“No, Heather. No. You failed her, and you failed the pack as an alpha.” God, I can almost hear her heart break when she says it. There’s a deadly silence, and I can hear Heather’s ragged breathing. “Go.” She turns her back, rubbing the bridge of her nose. “I don’t want to hear any more of this, and do not connect with her again. I obviously can’t trust you.” Heather clenches her jaw, obviously wanting to argue further. She doesn’t move, and as Mrs. Chandler rounds on her again, this time, Heather stands firm. “Get out before I really get angry and show you just how weak of an alpha you really are.”
With one last angry huff, Heather storms out of the room, her scent flaring harshly. We all follow, no one saying a word. I can hear Mr. Chandler start to calm his wife, but I quickly refocus on my own calming work that will need to be done. I clench my jaw, knowing that Duke will make things worse without caring, Veronica won’t say a word for a while, and McNamara will make things worse and feel horrible about it.
The door almost slams in my face as we reach her room. The girls spread, no sounds filling the void. Veronica sits at the desk, Duke at the vanity, McNamara on the bed. I hover by the door, Heather pacing in the center of the room, in the middle of us.
“Heather—” Duke starts.
“Shut up, Heather!” she screeches, her scent making me nauseous. “I—I—” she lets out a long, angry groan, face gaining an angry tint.
“You didn’t—”
“Shut up, Heather!”
“Let me speak!” she screeches back. When Heather just continues pacing, her voice comes out shakily. “Thank you. You didn’t have to cover for me.”
“It doesn’t matter. I would have gotten the same speech anyway. Better she’s just mad at me and me alone.”
“It’ll be ok!” Heather chimes in, unsure, ringing her hands together. “We—uh—she—” She cuts herself off, unsure how to continue.
The room settles to a general silence. Suddenly, Heather rounds on me, dangerously close. “Stop,” she nearly growls.
I want to fall to my knees, she’s so intimidating right now. I gulp, unsure what she is even talking about. “Wh—Wh—”
“Stop pushing your scent out! It’s just making it worse.”
I nod weakly, sucking in my scent I didn’t realize I was shoving out. I realize if I want to calm her down, I should do it when we are alone. But I also realize we won’t be alone at all tonight. I could risk it now, in front of everyone. I hate how angry she is. I hate that I can’t really soothe it. I hate that this is all because of me. I watch her pace, no one brave enough to say anything. Her scent never falters. She’s going to be angry for a long time unless I do something.
Fine. I’ll risk it. I’ll take the backlash if it goes wrong. Quietly, I pad up behind her, unsure how this is going to go, and I catch a scared look from Heather on the bed. She could freak out at me, but I really don’t care. I catch her when she turns. I catch a brief look of confusion before I close the distance to her body. She’s in her heels, so she has a larger height advantage, but I don’t care because I can snuggle into her neck better that way. I press my body into hers, snaking my hands gently around her waist to lock onto her back, shrugging off how incredibly tense her muscles are, how she obviously doesn’t want a hug. My head rests on her shoulder, my scent very gently wafting back out. Her hands remain stuck to her waist, but I knew she wouldn’t hug me back willingly. I close my eyes, relishing the moment before she decides to shove me off. She doesn’t, however, as I braced for.
After a few stressful seconds, her body shudders, very slightly, and I know I’m getting somewhere. I tighten my hold. I think of what Mrs. Chandler said, about my wolf losing trust. She’s right. I still respected her, still defended her, but I found it easier to ignore her. I don’t care if she can hear me or not. I don’t care if the others hear me. I say it more for myself than anyone. “I forgive you.” It’s hardly a breath, and had I been anywhere but nuzzled into her, near her ear, it would have gone unnoticed. “I trust you.” With a shaky breath, one hand, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, comes to rest gently on the small of my back, very little pressure, but there nonetheless. I press my body closer in response, hoping she relaxes further. Her head drops slightly, mouth and nose coming to rest on the top of my head. I can feel her muscles relax against me, and I preen a little. I succeeded. I calmed her, for the most part. I almost smile to myself. I’m like a sponge, sucking up her negative emotions. Her other hand leaves her hip, slipping around my shoulders to envelope me into a full hug, sealing the moment. I’ll gloat later.
Finally, someone speaks. “Heather?” McNamara asks quietly.
I feel Heather tense again slightly against me, saying, “What?” It has no bite behind it. But I worked so hard to relax her. I’m not going to lose it now. I take another chance. With my face already pressed against her neck, I press a soft, feather-light kiss into the skin of her neck where it meets the collarbone. I earn a small shiver of a response.
“Are you ok?” She asks it in a way that almost makes it sound like she’s asking if she’s ok since she allowed me to hug her.
Heather takes a deep breath, getting a long whiff of my shampoo. “I don’t know.” Her voice quivering is enough to make me squeeze as close as I can, hold her like she’s about to fly off into space, and even let out a small whimper. It scares me. This is a side of Heather that is always buried, always guarded. The fact that she even admitted that she doesn’t know if she’s ok, it makes it feel like my own world will crash around me. My heart flutters slightly with fear, my stomach doing flips. It hurts me slightly, knowing she’s unsure about herself. “I don’t know,” she whispers this time, her breath tickling my ear.
“How…uhm…how can we…uhm…help?” McNamara asks, so tentative, so shakily, I’m not sure she even meant to ask it.
I hear Heather’s chest rumble as she forms the words. Do it, Heather. Ask for help. Allow the pack to support you. Allow them to help you. It’s not losing control. It’s not weak. It’s smart. It’s calculated. That’s what we live for. At least, that’s what I live for. Her arms are so firm, so confident around me, I feel so safe, so warm, so needed. “I failed,” she finally squeezes out, and based on how tense she becomes again, I know she regrets it instantly, like she’s bracing for them to laugh and ridicule her. I wouldn’t be surprised if I felt a tear drop soon.
I hadn’t realized Heather had gotten so close. “No,” she whispers. “You didn’t.”
“You weren’t the one who suggested it,” Duke says, her voice a record scratch compared to the smooth sound Heather offered. “I’m the one that failed,” she mutters.
Her body tenses again, and I hate that I’m losing her. “But I allowed it. I encouraged it.” Her arms tighten. “I—I—” I feel her swallow against my nose. She takes a shaky breath. “I put her in danger.” Her voice is so small, so…frail.
Veronica, finally, speaks. Took her long enough. At least someone here is charismatic enough to figure out what she is going to say before saying it. Lord knows I can’t. “Oh, Queenie.” Fitting pet name, for sure. When it slips past her lips, Heather swallows heavily again. I’m not sure she isn’t tensing at the tone Veronica took. “You have done nothing but protect her.” A small sniffle. Her arms are so locked onto me, if I tried peeling her off, I’d still be in her embrace. She shakes her head. Veronica continues, her voice a soothing murmur. “You love her.” I can hear Heather’s heart pounding in her chest, her chest quivering, almost as if she’s holding in a sob. “We all do. And nobody meant to risk her wellbeing.” I start having trouble breathing slightly as she holds me close against her, squeezing a bit too tightly. I can smell still, however, and I know Veronica is also releasing her scent lightly, to soothe her. “But I want you to understand a few things.” Her tone becomes more serious, but still smooth and calm. “First, it’s over. We can’t do anything about it now. Second, you can’t blame yourself.”
Heather finally speaks up, even if it is quiet. “How can I not blame myself?”
“Why blame yourself? She doesn’t,” Heather Duke says quietly, closer than I remember. “And if she’s not mad at you, if she doesn’t blame you, if she offers forgiveness and trust…”
“What matters now is what we do moving forward.” There’s a brief pause. “Sure, she may have lost some trust in us.” She emphasizes “us,” making it clear that the whole pack is to blame, not just Heather. Debatable, for how my wolf reacted. “But we can gain it back. And we will, together.”
“That’s harder than you make it seem.”
“You’re right. It won’t be easy.” Veronica’s hand gently lands on Heather’s shoulder, her voice gaining even more force. “Heather, you may hate me for saying this.” Jesus, Veronica, don’t screw it up. “You may believe you failed her. But there’s no point in wallowing in your imagined failure.” Well, damn. Her tone nearly turns into a command. “You have something to prove now. I’ll be damned if this one thing ruins this pack. You are our alpha, her alpha. And you’re going to act like it.” Holy. Shit.
I nearly whimper as the silence drags out. Heather’s breathing is more ragged, and I’m a little upset that she worked it back up after I set it to a nice, slow pace. Heather takes an extremely long time formulating a response, and I imagine they are staring at each other, having an unspoken conversation. “You’re right,” she eventually whispers, hand running through my hair. “You’re right,” she says with more conviction. Whatever is happening between her and Veronica must be doing wonders. “I’m…an alpha.”
“Yes, you are.”
“I’m…her alpha.” I didn’t think it was possible, but her hold tightens further. “And I’m going to make this right.”
“Good,” Veronica whispers. “Good.”
Heather’s breathing quickens, determination rising. She loses it just as quick. Her voice drops again, a near plea. “I don’t deserve to be an alpha.”
Oh, great. We’re losing ground again. “I don’t know anyone who deserves it more than you,” Heather McNamara whispers softly. “One incident doesn’t dictate your ability to lead.”
“It’s not just this. What about protecting her from Lucas? Or—Or that guy with the cigarettes? Or those guys…” Another sniffle, my own sniffle following. “I can’t keep her safe.” I can nearly hear Duke swallowing a comment about me finding trouble on my own. It’s quiet, no one sure how to boost her confidence about this. “I’m…I’m…worthless.”
“Woah,” Veronica says quietly. “Woah. Don’t go saying that.”
“Why not?” Her voice raises, her anger peaking back through. “Hm? Why can’t I? It’s true,” she hisses.
“Heather,” Veronica says, trying to calm her back down. “Heather listen to me.” Not a phrase you would normally like to say to her. “Look at how she’s holding you.” I tighten for good measure. “Do you think she would hold you like that if she agreed with you?” A short pause. “Do you think she would look at you the way she does if she didn’t feel safe with you? Do you think she would stand up to your mother for you otherwise?”
When Heather doesn’t answer, Heather chimes in. “Gemma loves you. She trusts you. She puts her faith in you, every day.”
“And I took advantage of it, threw it out the window,” Heather grumbles.
“You did no such thing,” Heather Duke grumbles back. “Stop throwing a pity party for yourself.” Damnit, Heather. I imagine she gets a few glares, as she continues. “Your mother has been putting thoughts in your head. I mean, for God’s sake, you can read her thoughts. It’s not like we haven’t heard her opinions about you.”
I flush, wondering how bad these opinions are. Veronica takes back control, expertly hitting where her insecurities lie. “You are a strong, thoughtful person.” There we go, good job Veronica. “You are powerful in every sense. You deserve to be an alpha. You deserve to lead us. You protect us, you guide us, you care for us.” No matter how weird that care may be. “Never say you are worthless, ever again.” Her own voice quivers, turning slightly emotional. “We wouldn’t survive a day without you, we all know it. We need you.”
It must have hit home. Her chest shakes more, and I can tell it’s taking every ounce of control to not break down and cry. “You do?” she squeaks out.
“Yes. We need you.”
She takes a long, steady breath. “Ok.”
“Ok?”
“Ok.”
There’s a long moment of silence. I finally let out a strangle groan, needing to break from her. I didn’t want to ruin it, so I allowed it. But now, my chest is starting to hurt. I drag my hands around to push gently against her ribs. “Heather,” I squeeze out. “I—I can’t quite breathe.” As if realizing for the first time she was holding me, she quickly releases me fully, arms going to cross over her chest naturally. I can tell she is trying to keep her face solid and calm, but emotions are flying across her eyes. “Heather, you didn’t mean those things, did you?” Even after nearly suffocating, I still reach for her hands. I gaze up at her, shamelessly brandishing puppy dog eyes and a quivering lip for a good effect. “I—I—” I gulp. “I wouldn’t forgive myself if you really thought that.”
I swear I can hear her heart crack for a second time since being home. Her hand flies into my hair to grip the back of my neck, tugging me in for a kiss on the forehead. I stand on my toes to press into her. Yes. Give me affection.
Another peaceful moment passes before Heather grins. “I say we watch a movie and all cuddle!”

Chapter Text

Veronica rolls her eyes. “Whatever you want, Sunshine.”
She giggles happily, dragging Veronica and Heather with her out the room.
The second the door closes, a fat tear falls down her cheek. I quickly press a kiss to capture it. “Pooka,” I whisper. I wrap my arms around her neck, tugging her into a quick kiss.
“You…you don’t hate me?” she asks quietly.
I almost laugh at the question. “No,” I whisper. “No more than the day we met.”
I grin as I watch her roll her eyes. “Oh, great. I’m pretty sure that’s a bad thing.”
I kiss her again, loving the tenderness of her response. My words come out in a rush. “You didn’t fail, you didn’t put me in danger, I trust you, I need you, I’ve never felt safer than when I’m with you, you’re my alpha and always will be, I could never hate you, and never say you’re worthless.” I take a deep breath after getting that all out without breathing. “I live for you. And I always will. I couldn’t stand if you left me alone.” I feel my own tears threatening to fall. “I need you. Never leave me.” I allow a tear to fall on her chest.
She swallows, nodding slowly. “I promise.”
I kiss her one more time for good measure, then back up from her. “Come on. We can’t let them picky a shitty movie.”
She grins, allowing me to drag her out of the room. She tugs me away from the stairs. “They’re probably in this living room.”
I widen my eyes, never getting used to her wealth. “You have two living rooms?”
“One on each floor.” When we get into the room, Veronica and Heather are arguing loudly over what movie to watch, Heather pulling together a blanket fort. “I’ll go get snacks,” Heather says, squeezing my hand before leaving.
Heather widens her eyes when she leaves, beckoning me to help her build the fort. “Nice job,” she beams.
I shrug. “I thought maybe we would like to relax at some point within the next week.”
She giggles, throwing me pillows to put inside. “I’m surprised she let you hug her.”
“I know,” I said, grunting as I crawl back out of the fort. “She’s not the most physically affectionate person.”
“I knew you were good for her.”
I blush slightly. “What do you mean?”
She laughs. “Please. We would have listened to her rant for hours. And she would never have opened up like that before.”
My blush deepens, and I can’t respond when Heather returns. She has a giant bowl of popcorn in one arm, an assortment of snacks and drinks in the other. Veronica and Duke are still arguing. “I’ll be right back,” I mumble, slipping out of the room. Feeling sappy and all, it would make the moment even better if I gave them all drawings. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the attention. When I return, Veronica and Duke have enveloped Heather into the argument. Heather finishes the fort, as Heather makes a final statement. “We are not watching another romcom, Heather.”
“But Heather! You know Heather and I hate scary movies!”
Heather grabs the movie from Veronica. “This isn’t even that scary. You’ll be fine.”
Veronica beams, victorious, sitting on the mass of pillows just inside the fort. As I look amongst them, I realize how lucky I really am. I have four amazing people, yes, even Duke, who care about me. They love me, they need me. My heart swells, and it’s cut short by Veronica patting the pillows invitingly. “What’s that?” she asks.
Tentatively, I settle in. “I thought…I could do the drawings. Unless you don’t want me to. It’s kind of weird to be—”
She shakes her head, smiling softly at me. “We can leave the light on for a bit. It’ll make Heather and Heather feel a bit better anyway,” she grins.
I feel a weight settle next to me. Heather beams. “You should take the entire movie to do it.”
I chuckle softly, shifting away from her. “You can’t see. I need to fix a few things.” She pouts softly but moves. I end up sitting outside of the fort. I’ve already seen the movie, and I need them naturally focused on something else. I pull out her drawing, quickly erasing things to change. Heather Duke sits down where I was, no doubt to hide behind Veronica when she gets nervous. Heather sits next to McNamara, almost next to me as well. She smiles approvingly when I glance up at her. The movie starts, I take the Coke Heather offered, and chew my nail as I work. I can tell they are unsure about me watching them. Heather looks at me expectantly. I smile gently. “You don’t have to pose or anything. Just watch the movie.” She relaxes a bit, and I can see her grab Heather and Heather’s hands tightly, bringing them up to cover her eyes every so often. Finally, finally, after a good twenty minutes, I fix her stupid chin and her ear. Smiling proudly to myself, I set it aside and pull out Heather’s.
I tilt my head slightly, studying my initial position. I like it. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to give her such a vulnerable position or give her freckles, especially when she tries so hard to hide them, but it’s oddly commanding, the position she’s in. She’s in control, no matter how she looks, who she’s with, or her body language. I erase her arm. I had both her arms propping herself up, but I think I want one playing with a strand of hair. It takes a long time, fixing her arm. I mess up her fingers horribly this time, so I glance every so often at the one resting on her midsection. I stall, wondering if I should add the ring, our ring. I don’t do anything for a good minute. I don’t want it, but I do. I finally decide to draw it in, working heavily on the design for a good five minutes. Now, I need to fix her cute nose. I glance up, needing to see the model for perfection. My heart flutters when I look up at her. She’s on her side, head propped up on a bent arm, head in her palm. She let go of Heather, as her other hand is on her midsection. She looks absolutely gorgeous, as she always does, strawberry blonde hair falling gently down her shoulders. She’s completely ignoring the movie, as well as the squeals of terror and chuckles from the others. There is no way she could watch the movie comfortably from this position. Her eyes are glued to me. There’s so much attention, so much pure interest in her eyes.
I shiver, unsure about her undivided attention. I look between her eyes. She notes my nerves, and she smiles softly, letting it linger longer than usual. “What?” I ask quietly, reddening.
“Nothing,” she whispers, face peaceful and calm.
My chest still flutters, but I go back to work. My poor thumb nail, I’ve chewed it so hard. I glance every so often to get the curves of her nose, and I finally fix it. I nod slightly to myself. Perfect. We’re probably half way through the movie at this point. I set it on top of the other one, bringing out a new sheet. I choose to do Heather Duke next, Veronica being the hardest with her wild hair needing plenty of detail. I sigh heavily, however, simply staring between Duke and the paper. I don’t know what kind of image I want for her. I drew Heather as a ball of happiness, smiling to someone slightly next to the viewer, because that is what she is—pure happiness. I drew Heather the way I did because it represents how I see her, strong and powerful but kind and true, her focus on the viewer and only the viewer, because when she gives you her attention, nothing else matters. I plan on drawing Veronica to represent her utter strength and determination. But Heather…Heather is more of an enigma. Thankfully, she is too busy hiding within Veronica’s shoulder to notice me openly studying her. I start sketching the basic outline of her face, hoping inspiration will come. I decide no one compliments her on her mind often enough. Being now acutely aware of her love for deep novels, I detest how people write her off for someone to have sex with and throw out. She’s bold, she’s beautiful, but she’s also incredibly intelligent. There’s a reason she’s in AP Calc.
I chew my cheek, wondering if she’ll hate me for making her into a nerd or something. But I have a large amount of respect for her inner intellect. I set to work once more, deciding what I did with the others—this is how I see them, what I love about them, what I need from them. And if that means making her look like the bookworm she is, well, so be it. She has an easier face to shape, more round than her counterpart’s gaunt appearance. Her hair is expertly kept under control. I gasp lightly to myself, flinging the paper aside. A group drawing. Of course! I quickly draw out the shape of her that came to mind, then go back to the original solo picture. The hardest thing about Heather are her eyes. For Heather, it was easy—her eyes were twisted up and crinkled, because she was beaming. For Heather, there was a soft amusement in them, but otherwise focused and clear. For Heather…I’m not sure what emotion to add. After a moment, I decide on concentration and conviction. It’s hard, but I refuse to do any other emotion. The final pose is her holding up a book, the cover bent and old, her face calm but focused, seemingly unaware of the viewer, who watches on. After finally getting her eyes right, the curve on the end tripping me up the most, I stare at the book cover. What is her favorite book? I know she knows the opening lines to several. Does she have one? I stare at her for a while, smiling slightly when she slaps Veronica for laughing at her. Moby Dick. It’s a soft whisper, and I’m not sure who said it, or if it was even my own thought. I drop my head, quickly pulling together the cover for Moby Dick.
I hear the movie credits roll, and I stretch my back. Content with my work, I set it aside. “How’s it going?” Heather nudges me. I can hear the fear still deep in her voice.
I look up to her baby blues, knowing I’m killing her with over-hyped anticipation. I smile, gesturing to Veronica. “Just one left. Actually, two? But I just need to do Veronica, and then you can see them.” She nods, excited. “But I want you to know this is really…intimate? Is that the right word?” They all give me weird looks. “I mean, the poses and emotions are very important to me. You know? I know you might not like them, but it’s how I see you.”
Heather grabs my hand. “We will love them no matter what!”
I nod, grabbing a new sheet to start Veronica. It’s a good thing I’m sitting at an angle, because I need a good view of her jaw. I hear Duke whine.
“I don’t want to watch another scary movie.”
“Don’t be a wimp, Heather,” Heather rolls her eyes. “You’re fine.”
“Can we just…sit here for a minute? Please?”
“Yeah! That’s a great idea,” Heather nods along.
Veronica chuckles, pulling Duke into a hug. “Come here.”
I make quick work of Veronica. The three of them chat casually, trying to help the two not be so freaked out. When I realize Heather still hasn’t spoken, I chance a quick glance at her. She’s in the same position, still watching me with the same fascination in her eyes. I want to just stare at her, but I go back to staring at Veronica instead. I’m having a hard time making her jaw sharp, like it is, but not too masculine or too sharp for her other features. Everything comes together quickly, but I sigh deeply as I start drawing her crazy hair. It’s not like it’s extremely curly, or anything like that, but she definitely doesn’t keep it as controlled as the Heathers. I’m pretty sure I hear light snores by the time I finish it, finally content with her jaw.
“Ok,” I say shakily. I realize now that my art is going to be judged. Veronica slaps the sleeping Jelly Bean awake, who sits up quickly and bounces happily. “Who…who should go first?”
No one says anything, until Heather shifts and says softly. “Why don’t you do them in the order you drew them? Explain as you go?”
I nod, grateful for someone’s opinion. “Ok,” I say again, digging out Heather’s. I give it one last glance, hoping it makes her happy. I panic. “What if they aren’t good enough? I’m not that—”
A hand rests on my shoulder, Veronica shifting to close a small circle among us. “Hey. We will cherish them, no matter what.”
I nod, still nervous. “How about—How about you all get them at the same time? Yeah? Then I can’t panic as much?” When I get some small smiles and nods, I start laying the pictures face down in front of each of them. I tell myself it’s too late now. What is done is done. “Ok. Go.” My fingers fly to my mouth so I can chomp on my nails instead of my already sore cheek.
They flip the pages, and the initial, loud gasp I get from Heather McNamara freaks me out. “You hate them! I knew it! I knew—”
Another hand from Veronica on my shoulder. “No, Honey.”
“They’re…they’re…” McNamara trails off.
“Wonderful,” Duke finishes. Deep down inside, she was the one I was most frightened about. For some reason, I need an insane amount of validation from her over this. I relax slightly, trying to study their expressions.
“Can you explain them now?” Heather asks quietly, her free hand finding mine to give it a squeeze.
I nod. “I can…I can start with Heather?” I peer at Heather, who is still staring, almost in awe at her drawing. “I know it’s super obvious…but you’re just a…a…a giant jar of jelly beans.” My throat becomes dry, nerves kicking back in. “You’re always so happy. Somehow, no matter the situation, you manage to make everything feel better. Like, if the house caught on fire, you’d bring out marshmallows so we wouldn’t be so sad about it. It’s cheesy, I know.” I’ve been speaking into the gap in the center of our small circle, knees pulled to my chest, unsure about the situation.
“Thank you,” she breathes, seemingly unable to look away.
“Uhm…” I blush, thinking of how to explain Heather’s to her. It’s incredibly more intimate, considering the position she’s even in. “Heather, I…I appreciate how I feel when you look at me.” I shudder at my own words. “That sounds weird. What I mean is…whenever I’m with you, the world feels right, and true, and I don’t feel like hiding under the blankets for days on end.” I glance at the others. “And the…position you’re in? It’s, well, it’s in command but also open and caring.” When I look up from the floor to see her reaction, she’s hardly even looking at it. She smiling, softly but proudly, at me. In her eyes, I see love and acceptance, and I almost cry.
Quickly moving on so I don’t, I jump to Heather. “Heather, I hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable with that. I just know how much you like reading now, and I—” I cut myself off to avoid more babbling. “I appreciate your mind. And I don’t think you get complimented on that very often, if ever. But you’re bright and intelligent, more than you even know.” I can’t even look up at her, my nerves forcing me to avoid her gaze.
“And finally,” I sigh, when she doesn’t tell me how much she hates it, “Veronica. I drew you like that because…you’re my strong Fava Bean. You’re looking up, towards the horizon or whatever. You are so determined, so strong. The only better way to show that is to draw you with biceps bigger than your head.” She chuckles. “I guess, I just drew what I appreciate about you. I get it if you don’t like it, but I hope you do,” I finish, anxiously staring at the floor. I finally look up when Heather all but flings herself into my arms.
“Thank you! Thank you so much! It was worth the wait! I knew you were good. I love it! I love it so much,” she gushes, words flying out faster than I can process. She presses a quick kiss into my cheek, and I blush as she giggles, settling back into the pillows.
“This is wonderful,” Veronica says quietly. “Thank you.”
Heather squeezes my hand. “I love it.”
All that’s left is Heather. My heart is pounding. She runs her eyes over the page, taking in every detail. She finally drags her eyes up to look at me, a smile slowly forming on her face. “It’s perfect,” she whispers. I let out a long breath. “Thank you.”
I let out a small, choked sob. I can’t help but cry. “Hey! Hey, what’s wrong?” Veronica asks, pulling me into her with an arm around my shoulder.
I shake my head, burying it into her shoulder. “I—I don’t know. I—I—I just want—I—” I end up sobbing, curling into her side as she comforts me. “I thought you’d hate them,” I finally get out. In reality, it was too much. Mrs. Chandler was right, in that one of my deepest needs is to please them. To hear them all say they appreciate them hurts my heart in a good way. I’m sure they heard a bit of that, but I never want to say it out loud. It’s embarrassing.
She chuckles softly, the sound vibrating in my ear. “You took the time to draw us out, exactly as you see us. There’s nothing but love in these. We would be dicks to not love them.”
I chuckle softly back, wiping my tears. “You mean it?”
“Absolutely.”
“I’m going to frame it,” Heather says.
I gaze up at them, blushing at my sudden outburst. “I’m going to do a group one next.”
They all nod. “Tomorrow,” Heather says softly, shifting so I can squeeze between her and Heather. I lay down, setting my notebook safely aside. She throws an arm over my midsection. “They are perfect. Nice job,” she whispers. I shiver, looking into her eyes. She knows exactly what that means to me. I may even have let out a small whimper, shifting closer to her.
“Heather and I get to pick the next movie!” Heather squeals happily, racing over to choose a movie.
Heather rolls her eyes but can’t stop the smile from creeping up her face as she crawls after her. “We are not watching Night at the Museum.”
“Oh, come on!”
The two dissolve into an argument, Veronica yawning largely across the gap. I reach my hand over, grabbing hers. “Yes?” she asks, eyes becoming heavier.
I don’t know what I meant to say. I just wanted to hold her hand suddenly. I smile softly. Words weren’t needed, apparently. She smiles back, bringing my hand to her lips, laying a quick kiss to my knuckles before settling it down in the gap between us. I don’t think she truly understands how much her support means to me. Some day I will pay her back.
I let go, shifting onto my side so I press against Heather. She’s quick to wrap me up. Knowing Heather and Heather, I’ll be bored with whatever movie they choose. I close my eyes, feeling myself slip close to sleep. I’m at peace, knowing they like their drawings. I feel a weight settle next to me. I’m close enough to her, so I rest my head on Heather’s shoulder, sighing softly, encased in warmth, between two happy beans.
“Are you ok?” she asks quietly, a finger brushing some hair out of my eyes.
“Perfect,” I hum, before slipping into sleep.
I wake up again when I hear more arguing over a movie. It’s in hushed, angry voices, but it woke me up nonetheless. I’m not quite awake enough to open my eyes and speak, in that weird world between sleep and being awake. I just remain still. I’m still in between Heather and Heather, my back pressed flush against Heather, and my head on Heather’s shoulder. Her legs curled up to match mine, creating a form of cocoon. Heather’s arm is not fully across my waist, her hand on my stomach, her thumb tracing lazy circles. Her face is snuggled in my neck, my hair shoved out of the way. Another hand, probably Heather’s, runs through my hair gently, almost absentmindedly. I can feel both of their breaths on my face and neck, comforting almost.
“We are not watching some movie from India!” I can hear, hissed from somewhere in the room.
“Trust me! It’s great!” That must be Veronica and Heather.
Heather and Heather are whispering softly to each other over me. “We just need the right motivation,” I hear into my neck.
“Like what?” The hand in my hair stalls.
“That’s the problem.” A nose rubs into my neck. I sigh softly, pressing back into it. “I can’t figure it out.”
“What else can you do?” The hand resumes its path in my hair.
“I’m not sure. I can’t seem to get through to her.”
“Do you think bonding helped?”
“Not enough. Obviously, with you. And her and Heather seem better together, but…”
There’s a small silence. “Do you want me to try?”
“Haven’t you already?”
“Not officially.”
“I don’t think she’d go for it.”
“I don’t know what else to do.”
There’s a loud slap, flesh on flesh, and then Veronica chuckling. The sound scares me into the full world of being awake. My eyes snap open, catching a few glances of the two across the room. Heather and Heather must have felt me jump. Heather presses me closer. They stop talking. I shiver slightly, trying to pull more of Heather against me.
“Are you ok?” Heather asks quietly next to me.
I sleepily look up at her. “It’s just cold,” I whisper. Behind me, Heather shifts. I whine softly, the cold hitting my back hard. Soon, a heavy, fuzzy blanket appears, big enough to cover all three of us and then some. Happily, I snuggle in, looping my fingers with Heather’s on my stomach. “How long have I been sleeping?”
“Just for one movie.”
I hum my response, shifting so I can view Heather fully. I furrow my brow when I see slight concern in her eyes. It wakes me up more, forcing me to sit up on an arm. “Heather, are you ok? What’s wrong?”
I watch her swallow and glance past me at Heather. “Yeah,” she eventually says quietly. “Yeah, I’m fine.” Her tight smile tells me that’s a lie.
“I’m not stupid, Heather.”
She smiles, softer now. “I know.” She studies my face for a bit, and when I don’t back down, she continues. “It’s just…you…” She sits up on her elbows, looking at Heather.
“Heather, you don’t have to.”
“I know. I just don’t like…” She looks between us, until she seems to make a decision. “You know how we were trying to explain the gifts thing earlier?”
Veronica and Duke quiet, and it gives me chills as I wait. “Yeah,” I whisper.
“I…uhm.” She stares into her lap. “Heather?” she asks softly.
A hand on my back forces me to shift so I can see them both. “Heather,” Heather starts quietly. “Heather also has a gift. A more common one.” She looks up past me, towards Heather and Veronica.
I hear Heather groan. “Fine. I do too,” she grumbles.
“Heather, as you probably have noticed, is really good at…understanding…people. It’s common for people to have this gift, especially people of a lower rank.”
“So she’s just really good at getting people’s emotions? Ok.” I nod, smiling. There’s still worry in her eyes.
“And Heather,” Heather sighs. “Is a bit more aggressive. It works out well, the two of them and their respective gifts. She can…well…”
“Look,” Heather speaks loudly, interrupting Heather. “I can ruin people’s memories.”
“That’s not all,” Heather says, drawing my attention back to her in front of me. “She doesn’t have to ruin them. She can strengthen them or remove tiny aspects of it. For example, she could erase the scary movie from my memory if she wanted to. She can’t do anything crazy with it. Yet.”
“Uh…cool?” I’m not really sure what to say. “Why do you look like that?”
Heather and Veronica finally sit down, essentially trapping me. Heather bites her lip, her eyes shifting farther from worry into pity. “I—You—You have so many nightmares.”
I tense, scooting a bit farther away. “What are you saying?”
“What Heather and I think…” she trails off, looking to her superior for assistance.
The hand returns to my back, and I jump under it. “Heather thinks she and Heather can help.”
I scoot back more. “No,” I say quietly. “No!”
“I told you.”
“Look, you have a lot of nightmares, and it affects us, and I’m tired of it,” Heather says gruffly.
“I don’t have nightmares. At least, not many.” This earns a loud, short laugh from Duke.
“It’ll help,” Heather says quietly, giving me a small, reassuring smile.
I scoot back even further, running into Veronica. “No! I’m not letting Heather run through my memories!”
“She’s not going to see much, just the memory itself.”
“No! That’s even worse!” I nearly shout. “I—I—Sorry you—No!”
“We could just do it regardless,” Heather shrugs.
“Heather,” Heather hisses.
I’m fully panicking, shoving Veronica to escape. I hover near the fort, feeling the overwhelming urge to run away. Run far away and never come back. I think about saying something, but I just groan angrily and start moving towards the door. Veronica beats me there. “No,” she says quietly but firmly.
I clench my fists, my need to run adding to my need to fight. “Veronica, move.” I mean it to be a command, but it’s a plea.
“You can’t run away from this.” She doesn’t try to intimidate me, even though she easily could. “We are going to sit together and talk about this.”
Gulping, I back up, crossing my arms over my chest. I hate that. “Fine. But I’m not happy about this.”
“It will help,” Heather stands, approaching me. A single red fingernail trails over my cheek. “Trust us.”
“This is a huge privacy violation.”
“I understand. But…do you really want…that…in your mind forever?”
“That’s what normal people do! I…It’ll go away on its own.”
“You wake up every night because of it.”
I feel my chest tighten as I gaze up at her. “I…If I forget, that doesn’t make me…me.”
A slim pair of arms wrap around me from behind, Heather resting her chin on my shoulder. Whispering softly in my ear, she says, “We won’t make you forget. It’s just to help it not hurt so much.”
I keep my arms crossed. Heather nods. “Right. You’ll still remember, if you want. But at least you won’t have as many nightmares.”
Veronica brushes some hair out of my face. “What is really bothering you about it?”
I chew my cheek, trying not to cry. “It’s embarrassing,” I whisper.
Heather’s arms tighten around me. “Hey,” she whispers. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
I squirm in her hold, refusing to look at anyone. “I—I couldn’t—” Tears finally start falling, and I collapse back against Heather. “I’m just a—a—a weak, worthless omega.” Heather can’t hold me up, so Veronica pulls me to her. “It was so easy for them. I—I—couldn’t even fight them. If not for Heather—” Veronica shushes me as I cry, for the millionth time today. “I hate it! I hate being so weak!” I grip her t-shirt tightly, so angry at myself. “I hate myself.”
“Oh, Honey. Don’t say that. You are not weak.”
I tear from her and look up. “I am! I couldn’t stop a couple of guys from—from—”
“You aren’t weak.”
“Tell me why, then?” I shake her shoulders. “Explain to me how that doesn’t make me weak!”
“You know what,” Heather interjects before anyone can stop her. “You are weak.” I want to punch her so hard right now. “But that’s ok. That’s what we’re here for.” Sometimes she just makes things worse. “It’s part of who you are, and it’s why you are here with us. We make each other stronger.”
I let go of Veronica and round on Heather, growling. “That didn’t help me then, now did it?” Slight fear flashes in her eyes, but it is quickly gone. An arm clamps across my chest, holding me back. My fists clench, and my wolf inside is snapping away.
“Cool it,” Veronica warns in my ear.
After a moment, I yank her arm off. “I’m fine,” I mumble. She doesn’t back away. I feel trapped with all of them surrounding me. It’s suffocating. It’s scary. Their scents are making me sick. Taking a shaky breath, I shove past them all and slip into the hall way.
“Wait, where are you going?” I hear called after me, but I ignore it, climbing the stairs. After getting slightly lost, I find the room that leads to the roof. Crawling through, I lay down, gazing at the stars. I try to find solace in the vast expanse of the sky, but by the time I feel a slight prodding in the back of my mind, I just bring my knees to my chest and sob into them.
It hurts. Every day, there’s the memory of it, playing back every time I see them in the hall. The worst part is they don’t even register who I am. I’m that worthless and that low that they can’t even remember who they tried for force themselves on. I feel it, when my mind slows, and my thoughts take their own turn. I feel it, when she touches me, making me think it’s their hands. The only blessing is that it goes away, almost just as quickly as appearing, when she kisses me. They’re right. It haunts my dreams, it invades my peaceful thoughts of Heather. It’s a drop of poison that sparks anger and hatred in my soul. And until they’re dead or I get revenge, I will never forget, and I will never allow myself to forgive. The only solace I had was the ignorant hope that the others didn’t know, and that they wouldn’t know. That I could put on a face of courage and happiness and hide behind their strength. I would like to believe myself strong and capable to handle myself, that I don’t need Heather or anyone to save me, to take blows for me, to hold me after. I’m supposed to do that. I’m the one that’s supposed to handle the world when things go to shit for someone else.
I jump violently when someone sits next to me, yanking me out of my thoughts. After a moment, I’m able to smell lemons. I relax, just slightly. A hand attempts to find my shoulder, but I let out a weak whimper and scoot away. “Please don’t touch me.”
She remains quiet for a while, and when she does speak, I jump again. “I…understand.” I sniffle as I sob quietly. “I do. I feel the same way. I’m too weak to fight back.” Her voice is so quiet, so soft, my sobbing slows. “I just went with guys like that, letting them shove me around when they wanted. Even a few girls,” she mumbles. “They only stopped when Heather stepped up.” She sniffles. “It’s just how it is. I’m not meant to claw eyes out and sick jocks on people and be cold. I’m…I’m meant to be the person who heals the wounds. The one who warms them after a long day of being icy.” She stalls again, and I can feel her eyes on me. “I felt horrible about it. But there is nothing I can do. So I just have to trust the others. I just have to know that…that…” She huffs. “It’s like a machine? We all have roles to play. And mine is to hug and console people. And Heather and Heather and Veronica are meant to fight people and stuff.”
When she seems done, having paused for an extended amount of time, I ask softly, “Then what am I meant to do?” She doesn’t respond. “I feel like I just get us in trouble.”
She tries to put a hand on my shoulder, but I jerk away again. She stutters for a bit. “I don’t know,” she finally admits.
“I don’t fit into this machine, Heather. I’m just a wrench thrown in as an afterthought.”
“That’s not true! We can’t be a machine without you.”
“Heather, if you want this analogy to work, you need to go all the way through with it.”
“Well, when I think of an analogy for how you fit, I’ll tell you.” I simply sniffle in response. “Can you just come back inside, please?”
“Why? It’s nice out here.”
“Yeah, but your thoughts are hurting me.”
“Sorry but going inside means facing it.”
“Sometimes, it’s good to face it.”
“Why? So I have to keep thinking about it?”
“No,” she sighs. “Did you ever have a pet growing up?”
“No.”
She groans slightly. “You’re making this difficult.”
“It seems to be what I do best.” She tries to rest her hand on me again. I jerk away, finally looking up at her, my voice cracking slightly at her name. “Heather, I’m not going to ask again, please don’t touch me.”
“If you don’t want to talk to me, who do you want to talk to?”
I bury my face again. “It’s not like they aren’t right inside the window anyway. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I just want to be alone. Is that too much to ask?”
She makes a weird, slightly strangled hum. “Kind of? It hurts a little. Your emotions are really high, and we can all feel them. We need to work this out.”
“Heather,” I beg slightly. “I work it out in my own way, without speaking to people.”
“By your own way, we all know that you mean holding it in forever, vomiting, crying in the shower to the Beatles, then reading poetry for hours after.”
My head snaps up. That actually hurt. But most importantly, “How do you know that?”
She flushes harshly. “You thought it. Just now.” Her voice shifted an octave, and I know she’s lying.
I clench my jaw. Standing quickly, I scramble back into the room, find Heather Duke, and tackle her to the ground. I raise my arm to punch her, but Veronica hoists me up. Screaming and kicking, I’m blowing a casket. “You…you bitch!”
Heather rushes to Heather’s side, helping her up. “What are you—”
“You—You went through my memories? How dare—”
“What—”
“Gemma, calm—”
“No! You—”
Heather’s scent hits me like a slap, causing me to momentarily pause. “Shut up. Everyone,” she says quietly but forcefully. “What the Hell is wrong with you?”
I hold back a growl, clench my jaw. “That’s too specific to guess, I haven’t done it since England, meaning you couldn’t have listened through it, and you said yourself you can mess with people’s memories. Heather’s a horrible liar. I wasn’t thinking it just now because it too self-deprecating to think about. That leaves one answer here!” When no one defends her or denies it, and I start fighting against Veronica again, letting out the angry growl in my chest. “I knew it!” I can feel them trying to calm me, with thoughts, scents, and a few words. But I’m seeing red. Veronica is squeezing me to her, having a bit of a hard time fully restraining me. “You—You are fucking—bitch!” I can see some emotion flash in her eyes, but I’m not sure what. “When did you do it? Huh?” I start kicking at Veronica’s leg. “Let me go!” She does, and I drop to the floor with a surprised yelp, not actually expecting her to do it.
Heather stands against the door, blocking my exit. “Quit throwing a tantrum.”
“A tantrum?” I screech, rushing to stand up. “A tantrum is getting mad about no M&M’s for the popcorn. This—” I growl again, claws following, “This is an outrageous breech of privacy and trust. How am I supposed to trust you if you are going to go into my mind like that?” I advance stopping only because of Veronica standing in between us. “What else did you see?” my voice cracking slightly at the question. “Did you mess with things?” I jump, to fight her, and Veronica has to wrap me up again. “I swear to God, I’ll murder you! And you all fucking knew! You all looked me in the eye and didn’t care to tell me that something so personal and private is now well known to you all!”
Amongst my heavy breathing and rambling as I try to get away from Veronica again, I hear a threat. “Calm down, or this is just going to get out of hand.”
“Out of hand?” I screech again, claws finding bare skin on Veronica’s arm. “I’ll show you out of hand!” I scratch, earning a hiss of pain and a small flinch. I take the chance of surprise, break out of her arms, and charge again at Heather. Heather steps in my way, eyes wet and hands shaking as they come up to protect herself. She says nothing, but I know she must. I’m a threat to her beta, her mate. She has to protect her. “Heather,” I growl. “Move.” She whimpers, shaking her head. I grab her shoulders, squeezing, and force her out of the way. When I have her clear, I step towards Heather. “What kind of friend does this?” I ask, volume dropping. I feel my teeth lengthen. My anger is on the brink of an involuntary transformation, and I might seriously hurt someone. The most irritating thing is that she’s said nothing this entire time. Not a single word to defend herself. I growl again, breathing angry and uneven. “Answer me, Heather!”
She swallows, and I immediately want to clamp down on it. She stutters, as if trying to find the words. “I’m not going to say it again,” I hear from behind her, calm but thick with a threat. “Calm down.”
“I can’t calm down, Heather. I’m supposed to trust you guys, with everything, with my life, and I find out you probed around in my mind, finding out things I didn’t want you to know, I didn’t want anyone to know.” I can feel hair start growing slightly around my body, joints popping audibly in expansion. “Move,” I finally say. No one does. “Let me out.”
“No.”
“If I shift and someone gets hurt—”
“You aren’t going to shift.”
“I’m sure angry enough.”
She shoves Heather aside, abandoning the door to grip my throat. “You are not going to shift because if you do, I’m the first thing in your face.” That means I’ll hurt her and get my ass beat. She squeezes tightly, her own teeth peeking out.
“Heather,” I growl.
She shakes her head, growling back and squeezing more. It cuts off my air, and my claws scratch at her hand. “You do not threaten your own pack members.” Her alpha voice and the lack of air causes my eyes to roll back slightly, knees buckling. I drop to the floor, still angry as can be. Just as I feel like the darkness will win, she releases me enough to give me air, but still hold me upright. I hear a footstep, and Heather holds her hand up, stalling it. She crouches and leans forward, her mouth on my ear, voice so deep in alpha territory, I nearly piss myself. “Claws and teeth, in. Now.” They retract faster than I thought possible. “You’re going to stand up, you’re going to stay calm, and you’re going to listen like a good omega.” I shiver, nodding. Satisfied, she lets me go, stepping back. Her scent remains, at a heavy and painful level. Blushing, I stand. I’m still angry. I still want to rip Heather’s throat out. I still hate her with every bit of my being right now. But I’m too afraid to move. “Now.” She gives me one final glare, then turns to Heather. “Someone explain.”
It’s quiet for a while, until Heather shoves Heather forward. “Uhm…” she starts, caught in the headlights. She rings her hands, shifting from foot to foot. “I—I—We wanted to tell you, right away, but—” I open my mouth to argue, but Veronica puts a heavy hand on my shoulder, so I just cross my arms and stare at the floor. “We didn’t know how to explain it.” I feel some anger ebb away, only to be replaced by bitter feelings of sadness and betrayal. “It was during that time right before you joined.” I let out a small but angry groan. That’s too long to hide something like this. “When you were still healing.” Her voice is so small, sweet, it’s hard to be angry at her. But I can still be angry at Heather. And everyone else for that matter.
“It was an accident,” Heather adds in.
At hearing her voice, I tense, wanting to strangle her. Heather pushes her back gently, whispering something to her. She gulps when she turns back, taking a dangerous step forward. “It was an accident,” she repeats. “You were broadcasting so hard. I couldn’t help but feel pain. It was latent pain, like it’s been cooking for a few years.” She takes another step. I tense but don’t move. “I mentioned it to the others, and I admit, I shouldn’t have. Heather approached, not meaning to do anything, just comfort. But when a memory is so prevalent in someone’s mind, when you were whimpering in pain in your sleep…” I flush, embarrassed that they saw me like that. “She couldn’t resist.” She takes another step, her scent tickling to the forefront of my mind. “It was quick. In and out. She didn’t…”
“I didn’t mess with anything.” Heather joins Heather’s side. I swallow, glancing up at her. A slight flash of anger wants to return when I catch her eye, but the amount of regret in them shoves it back down, along with my gaze. “I caught just enough to see…the cause…and the aftermath.” I shudder, chest tightening. “It knocked me out for a bit. When I came to, you were ok again, thanks to Heather working some magic.” I watch her feet shift, her now closer than Heather. I aim to growl, but end up whimpering, matching her step backwards. “I’m sorry. But one touch, and I was forced in. I wouldn’t have without you knowing.” Seemingly done, she backs up once more, and I feel my breathing shift closer to normal.
No one speaks, all eyes on me. I sniff, trying to hold back more memories of it and the waterfall of tears that will come with it. “And…and you told everyone?” My voice is smaller than I had aimed, weaker than I had wanted. I’m mad at her, regardless of the situation in which she was “forced in.” When I look back up to look her in the eye, there’s more pity than regret now, and it makes my stomach churn, anger begging to come back. “You saw…that…and you told them?”
Her hands start tugging on her shirt, involuntarily shifting into a nervous tick. She sighs, deflating more. “I—I—Heather guessed, based on your emotions. I also…uhm…well, I also mumble through it, when it’s strong enough.”
I don’t say anything, hardly even register the words. Had they been unable to listen to my thoughts, they could have assumed I stopped listening. My body is stiff, nails digging into my skin. My mind is firing faster than I wanted it to, slipping further and further back into the dark place I had once been.
Heather steps forward once more, trying to put a gentle hand on my arm. I jerk out of it, body snapping back into a shaking mess. “Please, say something,” she whispers.
I can deal with them knowing, though I would have preferred to tell them myself. What I can’t deal with is Heather seeing the raw emotion that surrounded the event. It’s embarrassing to say the least, that she saw me at the lowest I had ever been, and the brink of no longer existing. It was something I never, never wanted to mention, share, or even think about for the rest of my life. To not have willingly shared it makes it all the worse. I can’t even cry at this point. First, I’ve cried myself dry. Second, I’m more stunned than anything. I swallow, trying to open my throat. I just hug myself, shivering at the memories trying to force their way into my mind. Things are swimming, my thoughts, the scents, the small hitches in McNamara’s panicked breathing. My skin itches. My joints hurt. My hands shake. Bile threatens the back of my throat. There’s screaming in my head, but not from them. There’s too much. Every second vibrated in my chest, my heart hammering faster than when I’m with Heather. There’re too many sensations. Too many eyes on me. Too many—
“Gem?”
I can hear my own breath hitch into a small gasp when I finally open my eyes. Heather is much closer than she had been, and much too close for my liking, her scent not signaling her approach or possibly I hadn’t noticed. Her hands stayed at her side, but her eyes moved rapidly around me. At first, it looks like pity, but it becomes clear that it is more confusion and concern. Swallowing a batch of bile that had escaped into my mouth, I blink my dry, crazy eyes. “Yes?” I whisper. I glance to the right and realize that Heather is nearly unconscious in Veronica’s arms.
I can see her throat bob as she swallows, hands slowly gliding up to come into a defensive position between us. “I need you to take a deep breath,” she says slowly, like speaking too quickly or loudly will set me off into an explosion.
I hug myself further. “Is Heather ok?”
She shifts slightly closer to me, nearly blocking her from view. “Fine,” she tries smiling. “But I need you to calm down. For her.”
“I didn’t realize…” I waver a little. “I’m sorry.” Sliding a hand along the wall, I start avoiding the girls and heading towards the door. “I always make things worse.” I’m exhausted. My mind hurts but doesn’t slow.
Heather blocks my way. “Gemma. Listen, please.” Her eyes shift nervously. “Let’s just…breathe?” When I don’t do what she wants, she grunts, “Fine,” and smashes into me, lips covering mine. I cringe back, pushing lightly against her. I’m in no mood, nor state of mind, to want this. Sure, my mind slows, but she can hardly make me forget. Normally, I would dive into it, relish in the relief it offers if I let it, accept her taking the fight out of me. But this isn’t normal me. I don’t want this, not now. I whine slightly, but not from want, and more forcefully shove her back. She presses harder, further, refusing to allow me to push her off. Finally, I growl with what little breath and fight I have left. Her scent, usually so welcome and warm, is only making me angry and sick. She doesn’t respond. I growl again, louder, starting to hit her, hard. This time, she growls back, a commanding, forceful growl. It stalls me, just enough, to slip into where she wants me—my thoughts slow to a nice roll, her lips becoming my focus, her scent drawing me closer. I have one final hateful thought about her forcing it, then allow it to take full effect. She finally breaks, nearly shoving me into the wall to get me off. My eye lids are fluttering, extremely heavy. I hear Heather groan in the background, standing. I slide against the wall until my butt hits the floor. I hug my knees. I gratefully enjoy the bliss still lingering in my mind, allowing the calm Heather is forcing on me. She takes a deep breath. “You good?”
“Myeah…” Heather says quietly, voice a few octaves too high. “For now. It just…hit a little too hard.”
“I’m sorry, Heather,” I breathe.
“It’s not your fault.”
I chuckle bitterly. “Ah, but it is.”
“Let’s get back to the room and get Heather some water.” Veronica hoists the tiny Heather in her arms, carrying her out the door.
Duke hovers by the door. “I—I—”
“We’ll meet you there,” Heather says quietly. Duke quickly leaves. She kneels, next to me, just out of reach. “Talk to me.”
I grip my knees harshly to stop my hands from shaking. “About what?” I mumble, staring just slightly over her shoulder. I can feel my gaze turn glassy, out of focus, and dull.
She gently grabs my face, trying to get me to look at her. My gaze doesn’t focus, merely looking through her into the past. I see her lips moving, I know she’s talking to me, I know she’s worried. But I can’t bring myself to listen to her, honestly to even look at her. She slaps my face gently, but I don’t feel it, not really.
I’m yanked to my feet, the only sensation I’m truly registering is the light ringing in my ears. Lead into her bedroom, I’m greeted with Heather fast asleep, curled up in Heather’s lap on the bed. Veronica paces nearby. I’m placed in the desk chair, Heather again slapping me lightly. I try focusing my eyes on her but can’t seem to do it. Frankly, I don’t care anymore. I just want to curl up and hide forever, never seeing the light of day again. If he doesn’t get to…
My head jerks to the side. Blinking slightly, I turn back. Taking a deep breath, I briefly catch a glimpse of the three girls in front of me, before my head jerks to the other side. My cheeks warm and can feel the slight sting of the two slaps. I clench my jaw, seeing Duke raise her hand again. Before she can, I shoot my own hand out, laying a good palm against her cheek. I hear the faint echo of the slap.
Hands grab my face, roughly pulling my attention to them. My mind picks up speed, like a freshly fueled steam engine. Immediate thoughts from the past slip into the back seat for my anger. I hear a quiet whine from the bed, a faint stirring.
My eyes register Heather is speaking to me. Focusing enough, I start to pick up her words, panicked and pleading. “…your mind. We need you to listen to us. Please.”
I rub my cheek lightly. “I just need to sleep, that’s all.” My voice is dead, no emotion, no care. I stand, shoving the hands off my face. “I’ll just…get out of your hair.” There are hands pulling on me, tugging me back. I shove them off again, heading for the door. “I just need to be alone,.” Strong arms wrap around me, hoisting me off the floor. I sigh. “Veronica, please.”
I’m lowered onto the bed. “Sleep,” someone tells me. Hands push my shoulders down. I don’t fight much, not caring enough. Sleep is good. Sleep is release, typically. I allow her to wrap me up gently in a blanket. I pass out, chest tight and mind numb.
I jerk awake, sitting up slightly and my pounding chest the only sound I could register. For a second, I just panic, forgetting where I was, who I was with, why I wasn’t in my own bed. I feel a pair of hands hold onto me, and I look up into brown eyes and brown hair. I take a deep breath, laying back down. The room is lit by artificial light, so it must still be dark outside Of course. I remember now. Curling on my side, I see Heather asleep on the other side of the bed, an arm’s length away. Her brow is slightly furrowed, sweat fresh.
“How are you feeling?”
Veronica places a hand on my shoulder, which I quickly shift out from under. “Don’t touch me,” I mumble. How many times do I have to say it today? “I don’t want your pity.”
“Honey, it’s not pity. Its…emotional support.”
I sniff, examining Heather’s face. “It sure feels like pity.”
I feel the bed sink under her weight when she sits behind me. “We’re here for you. We’re—” She rests a hand on my shoulder once more. And once again, I move out from under it. “We’re trying to help.”
“You’re just making it worse.”
“How?”
“Because I was fine with you not knowing, with not having to talk about it. And you’re making me face it. Again.”
She lays flat. “But this time, you won’t face it alone.”
I don’t respond, not wanting to deal with this. She sighs, shifting. I feel her get closer, then her arm tightly wraps over my waist, holding tight. I let out a frustrated groan. “I don’t want you to hold me,” I grunt, trying weakly to get her off. “Get away from me.”
“No,” she says simply.
I grunt again, weakly. “Veronica,” I whine. My chest tightens. “Please let me go.” She only pulls me tighter. Rolling over so I can use my legs to push against her, I realize just how strong she is. She hardly even flinches at my attempts to pry her off. I feel like a child. “I—I—” I squeeze my eyes shut and tears start flowing freely in a sob. I assumed myself cried dry, but apparently sleeping filled me back up.
“There we go, that’s a good girl,” she says softly, rubbing my back. I bury my face into her shoulder, sobbing like I did on the roof. I cling to her for dear life. “Let it out,” she whispers. She allows me to cry into her for a while. After I calm, she goes to move out of my hold, and I whimper quietly, holding tighter to her. Now that I’m in her arms, I never want to leave. “Do you want to talk about it?”
I sniffle. Of course I don’t. But at the same time, they already know. “How much do you know?”

Chapter Text

There’s an awkward silence. “The funeral, and maybe a week after.”
I slip away from Veronica now, sitting up. “Do you even know his name?” They shake their heads. “Judah.” I swallow harshly, hugging my knees. I’ve never fully talked about this to anyone. I glance around at them all, ignoring the obvious pity they all hold in their eyes. “He was a lot older than me, 6 years, about.” The room is still, aside from Heather shifting slightly next to me, eyes hardly open but still watching me. “He was starting his senior year. He was happy—star soccer player, beautiful girlfriend, nice friends…It was Friday night. My parents were running, I was at home with him. I…” I sigh, trying to not break down again. “I was doing homework, with headphones on. And the house phone kept ringing. I finally gave up and went to answer it. It was weird. We all had cell phones. Hardly anyone called the house, and especially not more than once. When I answered, it was his girlfriend. She was freaked out, saying he was supposed to pick her up, and he hadn’t texted her back all afternoon.” Heather tries to hold my hand, but I press further back into the headboard. Contact will make me cry, no doubt. “I hollered for him, tried to get his attention. With the phone, I walked to his room. I pounded on the door, shouting over his music he was playing.” I wipe a single tear away. “The Beatles.” I sniffle, calming before continuing. “I finally pushed the door open, but he wasn’t there. He must have been in the bathroom then, connected to his room. I knocked calling for him again. He didn’t answer. The door was locked. I started to panic. There was no shower running, no sound at all from the room. He could surely hear me. So I kicked in the doorknob. It took a few tries, but the adrenaline helped.” I started crying again, the scene clear as day in my mind. “There he was,” my voice cracking. “On the shower floor, blood pooling around him.” I take a long pause. “I grabbed all the towels I could, to wrap his arms. His girlfriend heard me screaming and crying over the phone that I dropped on the ground. She called our parents and the ambulance.” I clear my throat, looking around at them all finally. “And you know the rest.” The worst part of that all is that they said nothing at the end. They just stared. As I waited for a response, and my memories became clear again, I felt myself slipping, eyes turning blank, my body finding solace in numbness. I could just ignore everything else, just slip into this state and stay here forever.
Finally, one of them speaks, leaning forward and placing a soft hand on my cheek. My eyes narrow on Heather in front of me. “Thank you, for sharing. You didn’t have to.” Her face is slightly flushed.
I nod, allowing her to stroke my cheek. “I…uh…I’ve never told anyone.” I glance at Heather, barely managing to stay awake in Heather’s arms. “I’m sorry I…”
I jump at the arm wrapping around my shoulders. “It’s not your fault. Your emotions just…flew out of control.” Veronica gives me a squeeze.
“What happened, exactly?”
“I think you started having a bit of a panic attack. But it wasn’t exactly. I don’t really know.”
“Gemma,” Heather whispers.
I find myself looking just over her left shoulder once more, having a hard time keeping my mind in the present. “It’s just hard,” I whisper. “I managed to shove it down for all these years. And you all come around and drag it back out.”
“I’m sorry,” Heather says beside me. “I didn’t—”
“It’s fine. I just don’t want to talk about it anymore.” My gaze becomes less and less focused.
They all stare at me, looking like they want to argue with me, probably talk about it more. Heather, the half-conscious savior she is, speaks up. “I think we can just all cuddle for a while and go back to sleep. It’s not even daylight yet.”
Heather, giving her a squeeze, nods. “Agreed.”
I don’t move, but the others shift on the bed. Heather and Heather cuddle tightly, Veronica lays at the foot of the bed, and Heather takes Veronica’s spot, pressed tightly against me to remain on the bed. She grabs my hand, but I leave mine limp, refusing to hold back. I’m numb, dead. I can hardly register anything—sensations, emotions, presences. She tries to get me to pay attention to her. But I can’t.
“Gemma, look at me,” she whispers.
I swallow heavily, I shift lightly, but keeping my eyes unfocused somewhere in the room. “What’s the point?”
“Don’t do this.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” I shift further away from her. “I think I just…I think I need to go home for a while.”
“Yeah, ok. I’ll drive.”
“No, no. I need to clear my head anyway.”
She takes a moment, then moves. “Call us, if you need anything.”
“Sure.”
I leave my things, not caring to drag it home. I shuffle my feet, wishing I was back in England. Wishing I was with friends who didn’t know and/or care again. Friends who didn’t care enough to ask me if I was ok. Friends who left me to flounder through my feelings on my own. Friends who couldn’t care less about me. It’s easier to care about them more than own self, to set my own needs and wants aside to care for them. I would rather let someone cry on my shoulder than cry on someone’s shoulder. I sneak into the house, well aware of the intruders in my mind. I can’t seem to care enough, though. Let them hear everything, understand my emotions, since I can’t seem to do it myself. Let them probe my mind, since they seem to already do it on their own. My mind creeps closer to the darkness that begs to envelope me whole. I turn on the shower, quietly play some Beatles, and sit on the floor of the shower. I don’t cry. I just let the water soothe me. The only thing I allow myself to feel, think or focus on is the incredibly hot water scalding my skin. I only recognize how long I’ve been sitting there when the album restarts, then again, then again. I would be fine sitting there all day, but there’s a knock on the door.
“Gemma? Honey are you ok?” My mom calls.
I shift slightly. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure?”
I know she knows what I’m doing. I haven’t done this in so long. I certainly haven’t done this for this long either since it happened. I don’t allow myself to throw pity parties often. “Yeah. I just…uh…needed some alone time, that’s all.”
“When you feel up to it, I can make you some waffles.” Her footsteps fade.
The album place two more times, and I can’t feel my back, by the time I decide my skin has taken enough of a beating to get out of the shower. I hobble down to the kitchen, hardly aware of my surroundings. There’s a stack of waffles, steaming, covered in cherries and whip cream. My mother sits, drinking coffee and reading the paper.
“Good afternoon.”
I hum in response, shoving a fork full of waffles in my mouth. “Thanks.”
She sets down the paper, gazing at me, clearly wanting to talk to me. “How are the girls?”
“I don’t really want to talk about them right now.”
She gives me a bit of a weird look, but nods. “Your father will be gone for the next week or so.” I don’t respond, only shoveling more waffles into my mouth. “Are you going out tonight?” I shake my head. “Do you want to watch a movie or something?” I shake my head. “Do you want to do anything?” I shake my head, putting my plate in the sink. I know I’m scaring her. I know she’s going to obsessive over my lack of interest or motivation. But I don’t want to go to the party. I don’t want to talk to people.
I get back into bed, rolling into a blanket like a burrito. I play more music on my phone, but I let other 60’s and 70’s songs play. Closing my eyes, I enjoy the pity party. I’m warm, it’s dark, there’s good music…And then I become acutely aware of Heather singing along with me. It slightly irritated me, her invading my party. How dare she? But at the same time, I don’t really care. She can listen to me sing songs for all I care. It starts to irritate me, however, when she gets the words wrong. I make it evidently clear, if she cared to listen, then she better get the words right or get out.
Eventually, my phone rings, pulling me back to reality. I debate letting it ring, ignoring it, but I have a feeling it’ll just keep ringing if I do. “Yes,” I yawn.
“How are you feeling?” Veronica’s voice slides through the phone.
I hum. “You already know.”
“Do you want to come with us tonight?”
“What do you think?” I hear a slight echo of my voice, and I realize I’m on speaker.
There’s a short pause. “It’ll be…fun.”
“I highly doubt that.”
“Quit wallowing,” Heather grumbles.
I hate it when she does that. But she is slightly right. I can’t wallow forever. I mean, I absolutely can. But they’ll need me eventually. I need to be there for them. “Fine.” There’s a slight gasp. “But I don’t know what to wear.”
“That’s what we’re here for. Be there soon!”
I sigh, pulling the covers over my head. I don’t care about parties. I don’t enjoy the overwhelming scents. I don’t enjoy the threat of alcohol and drugs. But if they enjoy it, I suppose I’ll deal with it. When I hear a knock on the front door, I stand, attempting to look somewhat presentable. My mom tells them I didn’t really want to go, and after explaining it to her, I hear them climb the stairs. They now understand the reasoning behind his posters on my wall, not just that I’m a fan of the Beatles’ music. I’m self-conscious now about them. I open the door for them, blushing.
“I think we should go with some jeans tonight,” Veronica says, heading for my closet. I just stand by the door, patiently waiting for her and Heather to argue over what color is best for my pale skin.
Heather stands awkwardly near my bed. I can hear the whispers of her thoughts. “I’m not mad anymore,” I mumble.
She lets out a shaky breath. “You should be.”
“I don’t care enough.”
Heather grabs my shoulders and gently guides me to stand in front of the mirror, and I watch as she does my hair. I see her looking at my eyes in the mirror every so often, but I don’t bother looking back. Twisting my hair into a fanciful bun on top of my head, she smiles proudly at her work. Heather and Veronica finally agree and shove the outfit towards me. It’s black torn jeans, black ankle boots, and a green plaid shirt over a tank top. Not bad, in my opinion, something I’ve worn before on my own volition. Changing quickly, I see them all nod in approval before dragging me gently out of the house in case I change my mind.
At the party, after an awkwardly quiet car ride, I refuse to hold any of their hands. I don’t even wait for them to encourage me. If I’m going to be here, I’m not going to be here. I head for the alcohol.
“You—You sure you want to drink?”
I peek over at Heather chewing her lip. “Yeah, Heather. I am.” I browse, trying to find something that remotely looks good. “What should I choose?”
“You like Jell-O shots, right?” she asks, reaching for one.
“I need something faster.”
Giving me a worried look, she reaches for a blue drink, smelling of some strong liquor. “This…should be good.”
I take a drink right away, finding the way back to the group. They just have beer from the keg. “You gave her that, Heather? I said weaker things,” Heather chides.
“Sorry, Heather. But she—”
“I wanted something stronger,” I shrug. The drink has an obvious liquor aftertaste, but the immediate taste is a fruity flavor, like a slushy, almost. It’s not the best, and certainly something I don’t want to drink again sober, but it’s faster than Jell-O shots, so I’ll take it. It’s gone all too soon, so I head for another one, but they insist I drink plain beer for now. I comply, the taste not as bad with the previous alcohol kicking in. “You don’t have to babysit me,” I half-shout over the music.
Heather Duke shrugs. “That’s ok, we want to.”
I roll my eyes. Heather even stands, the five of us in a circle. Heather is the only one talking, trying to salvage some normality in the situation. I gently push the others towards the pit of bodies that is the dance floor. “Go! I’ll be fine.” Duke nearly rips McNamara’s arm socket out as she drags her to the floor, soon to be eaten by the crowd. Veronica looks between Heather and I, and Heather nods her off to the party. She looks like she wants to stay, but she leaves anyway. I take a deep breath now that the pack isn’t suffocating me. I’m a little frustrated though, since the alcohol hasn’t made me black out yet.
Heather leans on the wall next to me, watching me over the rim of her cup. She doesn’t speak, but her eyes say enough. Finally, “Are you aiming to vomit by the end of the night?” she asks, tilting her head slightly. I nod. “You need to slow—”
I shake my head, interrupting her. “Don’t tell me what I need, Heather.”
She takes my cup. “Don’t sass me.” I watch her pour my beer into her cup, taking a sip.
I slide along the wall, getting a tad bit closer to her. “You know,” I slur slightly. “I’d be ok with some PDA right now.”
She allows a small side smirk to tug on her lips, but it falls quickly. “I know you would.”
I smile back. “Then let’s do it.”
She rolls her eyes, and it makes my heart flutter a bit. “You wouldn’t say that if you were sober.”
I pout slightly. “Unfortunately, I’m not drunk either. And I need…I need…”
She studies me, eyes drifting around my face. She eventually shakes her head, her eyes almost dull and bored. “No,” she says softly.
I clench my jaw. “Heather, if you don’t kiss me—”
She leans in, placing an achingly soft kiss on my cheek. She runs her hand through my hair, over my shoulder, and down to loop her hand in mine. It does enough to shut me up for the moment. She stands close to me, holding my hand, turning to survey the room. Every so often, she’ll bring my hand up to give it a kiss, but nothing more.
“I’ve gone a while now without a drink, Heather.”
She gives me a look, then leaves to return with a Coke. I roll my eyes. “You can be the driver. Heather can deal with you driving her Jeep.”
I sigh but take it and nod. “Fine.” We catch a glimpse of Heather and Heather on the dance floor, and every so often, we’ll see Veronica shoving some people around, probably keeping hands off the pair. The Coke somehow sobers me up a bit, to my distaste. I let the music lull me into a haze, focused on the thump of the bass in the floor and the utter nonsense that are the lyrics. When I look over at Heather again, she has a tint now in her eyes. “What?”
Her eyes narrow, slightly amused, and she shrugs. “Nothing.” I offer her a drink of my Coke. She politely declines. “How are you doing?” It’s not like they’ve been asking me obsessively over the past how many hours. It’s more like she’s asking how I’m enjoying myself.
I nod, grateful for the absence of pity. “Alright. But I would be better if—”
She smiles softly before giving a quick kiss on the lips. It’s not anything crazy, just quick and sweet, but it shatters my world nonetheless. For that brief second our lips connected, the music disappeared, the sickening scents of alphas broadcasting too heavily eased, my nerves from the situation lessened. She pulls away, smiling. I groan quietly at her departure, but she probably can’t hear it over the music. “Better?” I nod. She gives me an odd look, one that I’ve yet to see plastered so obviously on her face, and she leans into my ear. “Want to dance?”
It’s actually adorable. Her face flushed just slightly under her foundation, a flash of embarrassment in her eyes, her hand a little sweaty in mine. Is she that nervous to ask me to dance with her? I suppose she doesn’t have to ask people. She just demands, or they ask her. My heart swells slightly, knowing she took the courage to ask. She could have just dragged me into the pit. But she didn’t. I flush to match hers. She eyes me nervously as I take this chance to relish the moment, and it’s clear to me that I’m making her almost regret asking. “I’d love to.”
At my response, her face softens, obviously relaxing after I didn’t deny her. She sets our drinks down, empty anyway, and grabs my hand, walking backwards towards the pit. I realize she’s leading me into the mass of bodies, in which I’ll be subjected to too strong of scents and people touching me. She must clearly note my hesitation, as she says, “Trust me.”
The crowd seems to part for her, not even forcing her to turn around. The floor shakes harder here, the bass vibrating through us. She backs right into Heather and Heather, who don’t even glance at her. The two, obviously wasted and most likely tired of the guys stumbling around them, are locked into each other, blatantly and simply making out in view of everyone, grinding slightly with the music. It shocks me a bit. I had assumed they separated to find guys instead. Veronica hovers nearby, slightly dancing, but most chatting to a group of girls, looking like the punk rocker types.
With Heather’s back to the other two Heathers, she tugs me gently towards her. Now that I’m enveloped in the crowd, I’m fully nervous. How can they enjoy this? I get ran into several times, not like that’s anything new. I’m a decent dancer. It was one thing that was offered as an elective that I cared enough about. I’m just nervous to do it with other people around.
Looping her fingers through my belt loops, she tugs my hips to connect with hers. She has a hungry look in her eye, much like the last party we were at. Her hands rest gently on my hips, body now flush with mine. “Relax,” she says in my ear, fulling having to shout with the speakers around us. “It’s just you and me.”
I gulp. Her words help, but regardless, I can’t ignore the casual body running into me or eye contact randomly made with other people. Eyes are always on Heather, regardless of where she was. Naturally, people are going to question who I am and why I deserve to be the center of her attention. I flush, trying to focus on her. I’ve hardly moved in any way that classifies as dancing, even though Veronica has diverted a few guys’ attention from me.
She wraps her arms around my neck. She isn’t wearing the tallest heels, so she has little advantage over me. She’s a breath away from a kiss, her scent not too strong to attract others, but enough to force my focus onto her. One hand grazes her nails over the back of my neck, the other pressed flat on my back to keep me close. She smiles, barring her teeth as I start to sway along with her. I can’t help but go with it. With her arms around me, her focus on me, I feel like taking on the world, even if I would panic through it. My hands slip to rest on her lower back. To be honest, it’s intoxicating. Her scent, proximity, the music, her attention on me. I could stay here forever. Sure, I still think about the others around me, but she’s all that truly matters.
Our bodies move in tandem, her hand finding its way into my hair. I let my body do as it wishes, moving with the music. I earn a smile every so often, and I preen at the feeling. I can smell a slight bit of alcohol on her breath, but she is incredibly focused, almost an eerie amount. Her eyes bore into mine, her nose brushing mine, nuzzling me gently. I’m feeling it. I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying her. She’s grounds me. She takes my worries away. She’s right. I didn’t need the alcohol. I didn’t need to black out to feel better. I just need her. It’s cheesy. And when it’s not so loud, I’m going to tell her, just to make her hate me a bit.
A solid body slams into me, sending me into her. Her hands clamp onto me to catch me, but quickly release. “What the Hell, asshole!” she screams over the music. She approaches him, most likely to rip his throat out, but I can see him gagging slightly. He’s going to vomit. And if she doesn’t move, he’s going to vomit on her. She’s too angry, ignoring me tugging on her. I see it, as if in slow motion. I see it move up his throat, bubble in his mouth, and start peeking between his lips. Since she won’t listen to me, and her outfit is a lot more expensive than mine. I, quite stupidly to be honest, give one final tug and step in front of her, just as the vomit flies out of his mouth. I feel every inch of my front get drenched with his chunky vomit.
There’s laughing and pointing. I redden, embarrassed beyond belief. But at least it’s me and not any of the others. This is literally all I’m good for—a vomit shield. I shove my way out of the crowd, feeling every eye and hearing every laugh as if it were blasted into my ears. I can hardly get past everyone, but when they realize I’m covered in vomit, they part for me. I start navigating the house, vomit leaving a breadcrumb trail, and I hope I find a bathroom. I finally find one, kicking people out. It’s not long before the others (minus Heather) pile in, Heather biting back a laugh and earning a slap on the arm from Heather.
“Oh. My God,” Veronica says, a smile tugging on her lips.
“Shut up and help me,” I nearly whine. I’m so embarrassed, I don’t need them making it worse.
“What happened?” Heather asks, and I’m grateful one of the three refuse to laugh at me. She gets to work, helping me wipe off what I can, scrunching up her nose.
“Some guy was going to vomit on Heather. I didn’t know what else to do.”
Veronica keels over, cackling loudly. Heather joins in, and the two of them wheeze and laugh jovially.
I look to Heather in front of me. She gives me an apologetic look. “Guys, please.”
Veronica composes herself first, wiping some tears from her eyes. “I should probably find Heather before she murders someone.” She gives me one last amused look, then leaves.
Heather approaches after composing as well. “Your clothes are ruined.”
“Thanks, Heather. That’s very insightful,” I grumble.
She sighs. “What are we going to do?”
Heather chews her lip, stepping back to examine me. Before she can say anything, Heather burst into the bathroom, making us all jump.
“Jesus Christ,” she breathes, looking me up and down. Her face shifts from shock to determination. “Alright, let’s get you cleaned up and out of here.”
“What? We’re leaving, all because someone couldn’t get out of the way fast enough?”
Heather turns around to give Heather a glare. Before she can rip her out, I step in. “I can just walk home, don’t worry.”
Heather shakes her head, determination in her eyes. “No, that would be mean of us,” she looks pointedly at Heather, “to leave you after something like this. We can take you.”
“Come on. I got the chunks off you.” She grabs a towel from the rack. “You can sit on this.”
“She’s going to stink up my—”
“Shut up, Heather! Let’s go.” She leads out of the bathroom. I wrap the towel around my shoulders, trying to cover most of my body. I follow them out the door, keeping my head down. I can’t bear to look at them, knowing they saw me get vomited on. We get to the Jeep, and Heather grumbles as she climbs in the front seat. “Heather, we can just drink in the house. You’ll be fine.” I scrunch my shoulders, trying to avoid touching anyone. It does reek, and I feel bad for sitting in Heather’s nice Jeep. The ride is quiet, until Heather speaks up.
“What did you do to him?”
Heather sighs heavily from the passenger seat. “I just kicked him in the dick.”
Veronica chuckles. “It was awesome. Usually, I do the kicking. But Heather was so angry—”
“Shut up, Veronica.” The ride becomes quiet once more.
Back at the Chandler residence, even after I repeatedly asked to go home, the girls pile out, herding me along with them. It’s decently early in the night, maybe one or two in the morning. The house is dark and quiet, peaceful. They shove me into the bathroom, with orders to wrap my clothes in the towel and leave it for the maid. Poor lady. Heather finds me some clothes that she never wears, comfy clothes thankfully, and I shower to get the remnants out of my hair and get the smell off me. When I come back out, swaddled in Chandler, there’s already more alcohol being passed around.
Duke groans on the ground. “What are we supposed to do now?”
“Fuck your girlfriend,” Heather grumbles from the bed.
“We get it, Heather. You’re upset.”
“We get it, Heather. You’re a bitch.”
I snuggle deep into the old red hoodie Heather gave me. It’s so old and so little used, it hardly smells of her. I try to avoid attention, and when I lower gently onto the floor, Heather glances at me, but quickly goes back to her phone, seemingly completely disinterested
“Sorry about your clothes,” Heather says, trying, but failing, to move the bottle away from me stealthily. She smiles apologetically.
I shrug. “It’s alright.” Maintaining eye contact, I take the bottle and drink quickly. I pass it to Duke. “At least it wasn’t Heather.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” Heather calls, rolling onto her stomach at the foot of the bed, looking down at us all, her loyal subjects.
I smile softly. “People will forget that I got vomited on. It would follow you for a while.”
I swear I see a small flash of pride in her eyes, but it disappears just as quickly when she looks around the group. We’re all quietly watching her, waiting for orders or some form of direction. Sighing, she takes a drink from the bottle. “Well, anybody need to have an emotional break down?”
There’s some awkward chuckling, and Heather takes a breath, as if to start talking. “She was joking, Heather,” Heather snaps.
“Maybe I wasn’t, Heather.” She gives her a glare, and there’s some serious tension building. “If Heather needs to say something, let her say it.”
Heather flushes, biting her lip, unsure. “I just…uh…I—never mind.” She drops her gaze, allowing her hair to protect her. “It’s nothing.”
“Obviously, it isn’t, Heather.”
She glances at us all, her lip taking a beating. There’s more fear in her eyes than anything. After a moment of panic, she leans into Heather Duke’s ear, whispering. Duke rolls her eyes. “She wants to know if we can do the stupid Homecoming thing.”
“What homecoming thing?”
“The one where you get some guy’s jersey and wear it for the game.”
Heather narrows her eyes. “Why, Heather? Is there someone you have your eye on?”
“No,” she says a little too quickly.
“Then why ask?”
She glances nervously around. “It’s—It’s a…uh…surprise.”
“Heather,” Heather says, warning in her voice. “What are you talking about?”
She lets out a small panicked noise and leans into Heather’s ear this time. Her face flushes a bit, and her eyes narrow. Heather sits back, hugging her knees.
Heather sighs, looking up at the ceiling as she thinks. “Why would I do that, Heather?”
Heather gulps. “Because…you care?” When Heather doesn’t answer, she grabs her hand. “Just think about it?” She tugs Heather back to her, whispering something in her ear now. When Heather pulls back, she’s incredibly flushed, stuttering. “I—I—I can’t—No—But—”
“Do we have a deal or not?”
Heather grins down at the mess of a Heather below her. Finally, she squeaks, “Yes.”
“I’m out of the loop a lot, but now it actually bothers me,” Veronica mumbles, grabbing the bottle for a drink.
“It’s…good. Don’t worry.”
“Hey,” there’s a hand slapping my leg. I had curled up against the side of the bed, exhausted. Hugging my knees to my chest, my eyes had closed as I listened to them all talk. I hadn’t noticed the hand stroking my hair gently, or the fact that I had fallen asleep. “Hey, loser. Stop sleeping. Come on, we aren’t that boring.”
I sigh, looking over at Duke. “Sorry.” I don’t bother to keep my eyes open, not with Heather soothingly messing with my hair.
“Anyway, the creep had the audacity to grab my tit in the middle of the hallway,” Veronica apparently continued her story. “I wouldn’t have been as upset if he didn’t then call me ‘Sugar Tits’ and wag his tongue at me.”
“I can’t believe you agreed to go on a date with him!” Heather squealed.
Veronica chuckled darkly. “What can I say? It was that time and I was in junior high. At least I didn’t rip my clothes off and bang him right then and there in the hallway.”
“Ew! He’s so gross.”
“And an asshole,” Duke chimes.
“But I got free pizza out of it.”
The three laugh at her story. I glance up, giving a smile to Heather. She looked just as tired as me, ready to fall asleep. She offered as small smile in response before glancing around at the others. They obviously were energized enough, willing to stay up all night. I’m sure Heather would force herself to stay awake as well. I sigh, stretching my back. This isn’t the best position to sleep in. Tapping my shoulder, she shifts and pulls a blanket up. Smiling my thanks, I crawl onto the bed next to her, curling into her side and under the blanket. Her scent encases me, and I’m content to lay here.
“Ronnie, you have to tell them the next part,” Heather says quietly, her voice balancing on the line between calm and bored.
“Right, right.” The bottle changes hands. “So the kid develops this stupid obsession with me. But not in the regular stalker way. No, he took it to a weird level. You remember when we did that play in junior high? Some stupid mermaid story?” I tried to keep my eyes open on her, but I was failing every so often. “He was in it, of course. And at the end of the final production, he gives me this giant poster with my face plastered all over it, and my lines written around my faces.” She has to fight a laugh before continuing. “After the whole cast changed and was clearing out to go home, he snuck back in to the costume department and stole my costume!”
“What?”
“I don’t remember that!”
“So then, that next Monday, he shows me a picture he took of a mannequin in my outfit. He stapled a picture of me to it and everything.”
“What the Hell?”
“What a creep!”
“He kept trying to date me and steal my tissues and stuff until he finally moved. Even then, he kept calling the house. My parents finally blocked the number.”
Again, the girls laugh at the story, passing the bottle around. The mood is nice, calm, happy. It’s rare that someone isn’t making someone angry, or that we can all just sit around and listen to a stupid story. I pull out my phone, seeing that the night has worn on. It’ll be dawn soon. Fully committing to sleep where I’m at, I hum softly.
“Are you asleep?”
“No, Heather. Not yet at least.”
“Lame.”
I hear a cute little yawn. “I might go to sleep too.”
“What? Come on, Heather.”
“You and Veronica can stay awake.” I hear her shift. “I’ll still listen until I fall asleep.”
“You guys are so boring. We couldn’t stay at the party, and now you want to go to sleep way earlier than normal.”
“Heather, not everyone has the stamina we have,” Veronica says with a slight sense of pride. “We will keep this party going!”
Not five minutes after the two of them continuing the “party,” and the bear snoring is back. Veronica passes out before anyone else, wrapped around Heather. Duke, after grumbling a bit, curls up on the other side of McNamara, the two highers needing the scent to sleep well. I feel slightly guilty, taking up the whole bed, but I have little sympathy when Veronica is snoring so loud. Heather stays on her stomach, head resting on her arms. She gazes over at me, and I struggle to keep my eyes open. When she reaches out to brush some hair out of my face, I relax enough to fall into a deep sleep.
We are woken up by a knock on the door, the maid haven been told to get my nasty clothes, and on the way out, she tells us breakfast was ready. I get up to follow the others out, but Heather groans quietly and keeps me still with her arm.
“Stay here a second,” her sleepy voice whispers.
I comply, but joke, “But…pancakes.” She smiles into my shoulder, rolling so more of her weight is on me. I lazily trace my fingers over her back. “Are you ok?”
Sighing, “I suppose.”
“We have the day to avoid responsibility, though.” She’s tense under my arm. “Are you sure—”
She sits up quickly. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Why are you lying to me, Heather?”
She rolls her eyes, shifting off the bed. “Come on. Heather may have eaten all the pancakes already.”

Chapter Text

Down in the kitchen, Heather did indeed have a very large stack of banana pancakes. Happily munching away, the three of them look like a scene out of a Denny’s commercial. Mrs. Chandler walks in, and I tense, grabbing Heather’s arm, but I force myself to not hide behind her.
“Morning, girls.” She grabs a cup of coffee, taking a seat at the head of the table. Guess I’ll stand and eat. “I heard about the mishap last night.” She chuckles lightly at my blush. “The maid should be able to get most of it out.”
“Uh…thanks,” I say to my pancakes.
“You are certainly welcome.” There’s an awkward silence, and I’m not sure why. Even Heather’s mood sobers a bit. After a few moments, she says, “I would like to do some tests today, if you don’t mind.”
I assume she’s talking to anyone but me, so I don’t even bother looking up. Heather shrugs next to me. “Sure.”
“I wasn’t speaking to you, Heather.”
My head snaps up, realizing she’s looking at me. I look at Heather, then mimic, “Sure.” Gulping, “Well…” She smiles slightly. “What kind of tests are we talking about here?”
She glances at the others. “Nothing to worry about.”
Heather gives me a nudge, a small nod, and we go back to eating. After, we sit on the couches, and I anxiously chew my nails while I curl into a small ball between Heather and Veronica. Heather tries to stop my leg from bouncing with a firm hand on it, but I can’t help it. I don’t appreciate not being told what’s going to be done to me, more so when the others don’t know either or don’t care to explain, which seems to be something very common nowadays.
There’s loud squeaking, and then Mr. Chandler walks in, rolling a cart. There’s plenty of fancy equipment on it, and it scares me. “We will need everything to be as completely normal as possible.” Panic rolls through my body, and I dig my nails into Heather’s arm to stop myself from running over the back of the couch.
Mrs. Chandler waves Mr. Chandler over, shoving the coffee table out of the way. “That means, ladies, don’t use your scents unless asked, don’t touch her, don’t take her focus away, don’t mess with her thoughts. Nothing. Just do what we ask, when we ask.”
I jump back when Mr. Chandler reaches for me. He has a few probes in his hands. “Calm down, it’s alright.”
“I—Uh—well, this is—uh—”
He starts putting the probes on my head. I try to push him off, but his hands and face are gentle, so I allow him eventually. “Can you put this on your chest?” He flushes slightly, pointing to a couple of spots around my chest, in which he would have had to touch my breasts to do so. The knowledge doesn’t snap me out of the panicked state, so Heather grabs them and shoves them in my shirt. Stunned back by her sudden and cold hands, I start panicking again.
“Wait a minute here! What are these—”
“I also need to take a quick sample here.” He grips my face and takes a saliva swab.
“I don’t understand—”
“Take a deep breath please.”
“A little difficult when—”
“Take a deep breath,” Mrs. Chandler commands, arm crossed and irritated look in her eye.
Almost sounding like a wheeze, I take a shaky breath. “Now tell me what’s going on!”
She sighs, watching her husband type on a laptop. “We are testing your brain waves and chemical balances.”
I raise my eyebrows at her, feeling a bit sassy. “Testing for what, exactly?”
“Watch your tone, omega.” That shuts me down quick. “Just stay calm.” Nodding and dropping my gaze in submission, I wait patiently as they get set up. I soon hear my own racing heart rate and many other random lines. “Is your heart rate always this fast?” I nod, flushing. “Alright. First, we are going to see her reaction to a few stimuli.” She clears her throat. “Heather?” My face is grabbed quickly, and a kiss is planted on my lips. Squealing slightly, more at the knowledge that everyone is watching than anything, I shove it off. “A little longer, please.” Sighing, Heather pulls me back in. After several moments, Mrs. Chandler tell us to stop. “Interesting,” she mumbles, the two of them speaking in hushed tones. I jump when she claps as she turns around. “Alright! Wonderful. Now each of you, in turn, need to push your scents out. I also need different emotions as well, so she can react to each of them. Heather, you go first please.”
“I have a feeling that hmm…” I suddenly end my sentence in a hum, losing most of my brain capacity. My eyes close, and I rest my head back against the couch.
“Jesus, Heather. You didn’t have to knock her out,” Heather grumbles.
“I’m sorry! She’s just always so panicked and anxious. I couldn’t help it.”
After a moment, the scent lets up, and I snap my head up. “That I’m going to get a massive headache out of this.”
“Thank you, Heather. Heather, go ahead.”
I suddenly feel sick to my stomach with how hard she’s pushing her scent on me. I groan, holding my stomach. “Heather, I—”
“That’s enough, thank you. Veronica.”
“Can you give me a minute to—” I’m cut off again, this time with more of a dizzy feeling. It turns giddy, and I can’t help but laugh. “I hate you all!” Mrs. Chandler gives Heather the final go ahead, and I’m grateful that it’s a more relaxed version of what Heather did, calm and easy.
“Heather, I need a more extreme emotion.”
“Like what, mother?”
“Like fear or anger. Anger would be great.”
She sighs but doesn’t hesitate. I feel a sudden rush of anger, and who better to be angry at than Heather Duke. I stand, rushing towards her. Veronica is quick to follow, stopping me before I can get to close to her.
“Come on, Heather! Really?”
“I just made her angry. Her focus point for the anger is her own.”
“I thought you weren’t mad at me anymore!”
I’m huffing and puffing, fighting weakly against Veronica. “I’m not!” My voice is on the verge of a screech. “I don’t know why I’m angry at you!”
“That’s enough, Heather.” The anger disappears suddenly, and I slump into Veronica’s arms. She guides me gently back to the couch. I mumble my apologies. “Alright, now—”
“Can I have a break, please!” I snap. When she turns to glare at me, I look at my lap again. “Sorry. Moving on.”
She pauses for a second, then nods. “A break, then.”
I thank her, sliding down to rest my head against the couch. A severe headache is forming, thanks to the sudden and extreme change in emotions from the others. Veronica pats my shoulder, but nothing else, jerking away when Mrs. Chandler chides her.
I nearly fall asleep when she pulls my attention back. “Now, if we are ready once again, let’s keep going.” She shoos Veronica and Heather before ushering Heather to sit next to me. “We’ll start simple. Heather, you first. Give her something short and sweet please. The quicker we move the better.”
Heather nods, furrowing her brow. I’ve realized by now that she only does it when she really needs to focus. I know now she’s just going to stare at me and move on. Which is weird. But whatever. Her scent washes into my nose, and I really want to sleep right now. Her lips move slightly, and I feel the sudden urge to compliment her outfit.
“Hey, Heather,” I say, followed by a yawn. “Your outfit is really nice. It’s…you know…color coordinated. And stuff.”
“Next.”
We go through the others, and I get more and more exhausted as we go. Finally, with Heather, I find myself hugging her. I sigh, not moving away even though I could. I let my arms wrap around her waist, my head on her shoulder and nuzzling her neck.
“Let’s continue.”
I whine softly. Heather pats my back. “What else is left? I mean, she’s—”
“First, we need another saliva sample.” I shift away from Heather, allowing Mr. Chandler to stick another swab in my mouth. “Finally, we are going to try something a little…backwards.” She looks around at the others, deciding. “Alright, we’ll go with Heather. Should be the easiest.” Heather looks just as nervous as I feel, but she sits next to me nonetheless. “Heather, honey. I’m going to talk you through it. But I need you to do what I say.” Mrs. Chandler leans on the back of the couch. “It might feel scary, and possibly a bit painful. But you will be fine. You are in control. Trust me.”
Heather’s voice is shaking, and it makes me incredibly more nervous. “What are we doing?”
“I need to see if she can flip the connection against you.”
“What?”
“Connect, whenever you are ready.” She goes back to furrowing her brow. I relax into her gaze. “Excellent. Now don’t do anything. Just hold it.”
“For how long?”
“As long as you can.” Heather’s breathing starts to pick up, mine matching. “Heather, you’re losing it. Calm down.” She does, and I follow. A hand appears on my shoulder, a scent battling against Heather’s for dominance in my nose. My attention is begging to follow it, but I can’t seem to look away from Heather. “Listen to me.” A voice in my ear, not Heather’s. “Nod if you understand me.” It takes a second, and it hurts a little, but I nod. “Good. Now I want you to take control of the situation.” I groan, needing to explain that I’m never going to have control of any situation involving these girls. I can’t take control from them. “Do it. Now.” My breathing becomes labored, and I’m unsure if I can maintain consciousness. She used her alpha voice. My body is screaming to comply, to take the power out of her hands, like I always want to do with anyone above me, to make them put me first for once. My eyes are fluttering, fighting to stay open, my hands grip the couch to stay solid and still. Every exhalation comes with a strangled groan, my heart rate pounding so fast, it’s simply a solid deep noise in my ear. “Now.” Stronger this time. I see Heather’s face is wet. Have I made her cry? My chest is constricted, my breaths are now wheezes, someone else is holding up my body. My eyes close, and my world feels like it’s collapsing in on my skull. I think she says something, but I’m losing my external senses fast. I can’t hear anything, see anything but white, smell anything, feel anything except my own bodily pain. Soon, the white is replaced with black, but not the sweet release of unconsciousness. No, it’s like a dark storm cloud, covering my mind. Whispers flow out of it, and if I were religious, I would say I was being possessed. The whispers are painful, evil, dark. I want to rip apart Heather’s brain, force her to submit, cause her to bleed and cry, force her to—
There’s a sudden shock to my system, and not metaphorically. Like they used an AED on my chest or something. I feel it, but not as painful as it probably should be. It would be cheesy to say I was having an out-of-body experience, but it was a little like that. I knew it was happening to me, but at the same time, I couldn’t process it. The dark cloud hovers near the end of my mind, begging me to listen to it. I want to, I need to. I just have to reach out, focus on it, rip her to shreds and—
Another shock. Another. Another. Each time I want to find the cloud again, I yearn for it. It’s offering a power I’ve never held. I need it. I would give anything to—
I can’t form a thought suddenly. My mind clears, the cloud disappears, all I need is…is…Heather. Roses and cherries. Cherries and roses. Lips. Strawberry hair. Grey eyes. Peace. Calm. Love. How could I ever need anything else?
I can hear words. “Break it, Heather.”
Labored breathing. “I—I can’t.”
“Suck in your scent. That’s all you have to do.”
“I can’t! She needs it. I’ll hurt her.”
“She doesn’t need it. Trust me. Suck it in.”
Eventually, the lemons slowly disappear. It hurts, my chest squeezing, like trying to grasp it as it flows out of me. I feel my body contort in pain, whines and whimpers escaping me. I hate it. There’s too much going on. Hands are on me, shaking me, slapping me, words thrown in my face. I hear an incessant beeping. My body is lead, my mind mush.
“Turn it off.” It doesn’t sound like my voice. It’s scratchy and low. It’s painful.
“Take a deep breath, and—”
My eyes fly open, my voice coming out angry and deep, almost an imitation of Heather’s alpha voice. “Turn it off!” It doesn’t stop. “I swear to God…” I sit up, struggling incredibly.
A hand pushes my shoulders down. “Calm.”
“How can you expect me to be calm with that bloody beeping!” I’m fully shouting now. “Let me go!”
“Just knock her out.”
I feel her scent washing over me. I collapse against the couch. “Heather, stop,” I whine.
“Calm down. You need to relax.”
“I can’t.” I grab blindly at the air around me. “I’m going to vomit.” A second passes before a trash can or bucket is thrown in my face. I vomit into it, the pancakes returning for revenge. “I—I…what?” I look up and see Heather above me, worry evident in her eyes. I lift my head, seeing Heather seemingly unconscious on the couch, nose bleeding. I reach up and find mine is doing the same. “Somebody tell me—”
Mr. Chandler starts taking the sensors off me. The beeping finally stops. “We’re done. With testing.”
“Sit up. We need to have a serious talk,” Mrs. Chandler orders, voice serious. With help from Heather, I sit up, grabbing the tissue offered for my nose. Heather stirs next to me, whimpering softly. When Heather is fully set and solid behind me, I lean into her, and her arm wraps around my front protectively. Mrs. Chandler sits on the coffee table once Mr. Chandler moves the cart out. She rubs her forehead nervously. “How do I say this…?” I grab Heather’s hand tightly. “I was right. So there’s that.” She looks up at me, then looks over at Heather, hardly holding onto consciousness. “On the bright side, I don’t think she’s capable of doing it on her own. On the not-so-bright side, I’m worried that she won’t be able to control it now that we’ve let it out.”
“I’ll be fine,” I slur slightly. My brain is fuzzy.
“The thing I am most worried about is…” She sets her jaw. “I’m worried about…”
“Just say it, mother.”
She sighs heavily. “Maybe it’s best to not talk about it.”
“No, mother. Say it.”
“I only heard the words coming out of her mouth, but I can base the thoughts going through her mind on that. And I’m guessing it would have only gotten darker from there.” She sighs. “I’m assuming you all have some insight into her emotional state. A negative emotion is obviously the dominate emotion. I’m wondering what would happen if it was a—”
“No, mother. We are not doing this again. Look what happened.” Her voice is stone, protective, resolved.
“Of course not. But this is more of a reason to avoid connections.”
Mr. Chandler walks back in with a file, handing it to his wife. “Your brainwaves are extremely out of range when influenced by the others. To match, your heart rate was in the range of a heart attack for every test. And the chemicals in your saliva are—”
“Honey, it’ll go over their heads.”
“Yes, of course. Essentially, her reactions are more extreme than they should be, even if she had been in this pack for 50 years. She developed an incredibly deep connection, and I’m not sure why. And I’m not sure how it isn’t killing her or causing her more pain. Along with that, she had a spike in brainwaves and her heart rate when praise was given. More so of a percentage spike than should be expected for an omega receiving praise.”
“What is all of this supposed to mean?” Heather asks, sounding a bit impatient.
“Well. Connections, influencing her, and praise or criticism have a greater effect on her, and can be more emotionally draining if done too often or too radically, as we experienced tonight. On the more serious note, if she decides to latch on as she did with Heather, pulling either of them out of it will be difficult, to say the least.”
“Moving forward,” Mrs. Chandler interjects, “there are a few things to try. My suggestions from before stand. But there is no need to push your scent as hard to influence her. And as soon as possible, I need a pleasant emotion to be dominate in her mind. I understand how hard that will be, so I don’t expect it anytime soon. But let me know when it happens.” My head had been drooping slightly as she talked, until I was laying down in Heather’s lap. I was struggling to stay awake. I know I should be listening, but it’s so boring and so useless to me. “For now, just rest, make sure the two of them are alright.”
I feel Heather shove me up, and I allow her to guide me up to her room. Veronica carries Heather in her arms, placing her on the bed. I sit at the desk, resting my head on my arms. “I’m sorry, Heather,” I mumble.
“Gemma, sleep on the bed.”
“No. No, I don’t deserve to. I’ll ruin my back and sleep here.”
“Why do you always have to be so difficult?” There was no bite in the remark, more of an exasperated statement.
“Because I’m a piece of shit.”
“Agreed.”
“Heather!”
“Sorry, Heather.”
“Just get in bed.”
“No.” I grip the chair tighter to fortify my position.
“I will rip you out of the chair—”
“Veronica, please—”
“Look, I don’t—”
I fell asleep as they argue above me. I’m woken up again when some slaps my shoulder. “Move. To. The. Bed.” I groan, shaking my head. Veronica sighs, dragging me out of the chair. She lays me down, and I fall asleep again before my body lays flat. I drift in and out of sleep, plagued with both nice thoughts of Heather, and scary, dark, violent thoughts and nightmares. The one that really shakes me awake ends with blood all over my hands and bodies beneath me.
Gasping, my eyes fly open, finding Heather’s worried face next to me. “We need to make you happy,” she whispers.
Feeling courageous, and needing comfort for my racing heart, I crawl closer next to her, hugging close to her body. “That bad?”
I feel her swallow. “Yes,” she whispers, body shaking slightly. “I can’t stand it.”
“Sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. We trudged up the past, we put you through Hell.”
“Is Heather alright?”
“She’s fine, really. It just took a lot out of her. Mother pushed it, pushed her too hard.” Her hands rub my back and hair gently. “I’m sorry.”
I peek over my shoulder. “Maybe I should go.”
She tightens her hold on me. “What? Why?”
“I’m obviously doing more harm than good. And she needs you to help her heal. I’ll just go.”
When I move to go, she holds me harder against her. “No. She needs everyone here.”
“No, Heather. We both know that if I leave, it’s for the better.”
“Shut up, dumbass. Heather knows what she’s talking about.”
I roll over to glare at Heather Duke, peeking over Heather’s sleeping body at me. “Heather, I’m not in the mood to be called names and—”
“And I’m not in the mood to listen to you. I’m trying to make sure Heather is ok and—”
“Shut up, both of you.”
“Sorry, Heather,” we both mumble.
She places a soft kiss on my forehead. “You aren’t going anywhere. Just stay calm, think of happy things, and relax.”
“Have you met me?”
She sighs heavily, shifting slightly. “Shut up and think happy thoughts.”
“Like what?”
“Like a soccer game in England with some hot, sexy man reading poetry to you.”
I hum. “What’s the man look like?”
She thinks for a moment. “Whatever you want him to look like.”
I chuckle. “Nope! If you want me to imagine him, you have to describe him.”
Heather mimics a vomiting sound. “I don’t need to hear this.”
She laughs, moving so her mouth is on my ear, earning a giggle from me. “I know you have a thing for red-heads.” I squirm, almost squealing. Pure happiness is slowly taking over. “Green eyes, freckles…Of course, washboard abs, massive biceps, a nice ass.” I’ve fully dissolved into a giggling mess in her arms. “What’s so funny?” I can’t respond, only laugh. “Why are you laughing? I’m trying to be serious!” I roll onto my back, slapping her arm jokingly.
There’s a sudden gasp, dissolving into a groan, and Heather sits up. I stop laughing, worry becoming more prevalent. “Heather!” I say.
She lays back down, rolling so her back is to me. “Stop,” she whines.
There’s an unspoken conversation between Heather and Heather. Heather looks down at me again. “Do you want your sketchbook? Or your poetry book?”
I furrow my brow. “Why?”
“I’ll get them both for you.” She leaves, returning with both books.
I take them to be polite, but don’t open either. “I’m not really…in the mood…”
“Read to me,” she says quickly.
I laugh, unsure. “What? Why? I thought you didn’t like poetry.”
“Sometimes, it’s…nice.”
I chew my nail, not believing a word she’s saying. But I open the book regardless, starting with my favorite page. I curl up at the corner of the bed, book resting in the curve of my body. I start reading, quietly, trying to not feel embarrassed about this. I see Veronica shift, so she’s fully facing me. I finish, and when I look at Heather, smiling approvingly down at me, I pick a new one and continue.
“Do you have one that makes you happy?”
“Uh…” I flip through the pages. Usually, they just make me sad or neutral. I finally find one towards the end, one I haven’t read in years. I stumble through it more, but the others seem to listen intently nonetheless. Heather finally moves again, shifting to face me. All their eyes are on me, and I feel incredibly self-conscious. She’s gaining some color in her face. I stop, but they urge me on. “Come on, guys. You don’t like poetry this much.”
“Wow, you’re stupid.”
“Heather!”
“I mean, come on.”
“What she means to say is,” Heather says gently, “Heather’s really dependent on your emotions right now. We need you to be happy for her to feel better faster.”
“That’s a lot of pressure,” I mumble.
“Just keep reading, or draw, or do something pleasant.” I pick up my sketch pad, with the already started pose for Heather Duke. I shift so I can draw a bit easier, moving so Heather can’t see it as I draw. “Can I see?”
I really want to say no, but she looks so eager. “S—sure.”
She moves so she’s a little closer, able to see as I draw. I have Heather started, clutching her book and standing tall on two feet, but I have no idea how I want everyone else to look. I know Heather has to be in the middle, so I give her the superhero stance, hands on the hips. I glance up at her as she watches, her face speaking to her approval. I have to put Veronica on the other side of Heather then, so her betas are on either side of her. I start with her arm resting on Heather’s shoulder but erase it angrily. I don’t like that symbolism, that Heather has to support us. She watches me struggle, trying to find a stance. Finally, I get her stance so her arm is looped through Heather’s, casually, but possessive. Finally, Heather stands next to Heather, hands clasped in a happy gesture. I forget that Heather is really watching as I fill everyone in, enjoying the fact that I don’t have to worry about minute facial details, just their outfits. I change their stances a bit, forcing them to be touching in some way—an arm looped in another, a hand in another, arm around a waist, etc. It was too disconnected before, and this shows a united front.
I suddenly let out a pleased sigh, and I feel Veronica jump. “Sorry. I’m done!” I flip the paper around, showing it to them all. After the last time, I’m not so nervous about them seeing it.
“Where are you?”
I ponder Heather’s question. Shrugging, I offer, “I don’t know. I just didn’t draw myself in.”
“That could mean that you don’t feel a part of the pack,” Heather says, glowing as she sounds smart. “I learned it in my psychology class.”
I laugh lightly, enjoying Heather now sitting up and smiling again. “Come on guys, it’s fine. Just take it.”
Veronica shakes her head. “Not without you in it.”
“I don’t know where to put myself.”
“Well,” Heather Duke says, “for symmetry sake, you can go next to Ronnie.”
I stare down at the paper. I’m going to have to change her stance to include myself. I feel like I’m having an epiphany. I stare at the person, the people, I would have to change to include myself. I’d have to change the pack to fit in. I don’t fit in normally. I have to change these girls—
“Stop.”
I snap my head up. “What?”
“Stop thinking like that.”
I pull my book closer, shielding myself. “I…it’s true.”
“Honey, you fit in already. You don’t have to change, and we don’t have to change, for you to be one of us.”
I drop my gaze, feeling like a defendant on trial. “I just—uh—I—”
Heather rests her hand on shoulder, and it takes some energy to not pry it off. “Look, you don’t have to change her to fit you in.” She points to the drawing. She explains that I can draw myself under her arm, as it has a general position that I can cover with my body. I start to argue that it’s still changing her, that I have to erase part of her, but she shakes her head. “Try it.” I nod, appreciating the help, erasing her arm. I draw myself in, but I have a hard time finding a pose.
“You can draw puke on yourself,” Heather offers, amusement in her voice.
I laugh lightly, shaking my head. “That’s more detail than I can manage.” Finally, I choose a pose, with Veronica’s arm around me, me holding her hand, the other resting over my heart. I glance up at Heather. “I still had to change her.” I offer it up, slightly annoyed by the giant smudge mark that my body has now been drawn over.
“Thank you. Much better,” Veronica smiles.
“Your arm is a little off.”
She shrugs. “I don’t think so.”
Heather snatches it up, looking over it with Heather. “I think it’s cute,” Heather grins.
Heather nods. “Yeah, it’s nice.”
“It’s better than nice, Heather,” Heather chastises quietly.
“Fine, it’s great.”
I smile, glad they approve.
“Can I ask you something?” Heather asks suddenly.
“Sure,” I smile softly, shifting forward.
“How does it feel after a submission?”
“You mean you’ve never…?”
She drops her gaze, a little flare of anger. “Mother’s favorite punishment is denying submissions.” She glances up, shrugging. “Besides, I haven’t done it in years.”
I swallow harshly, “Why do you want to know?”
The others shift. “It’s just…interesting. We’ve never had the opportunity to ask a true omega what it’s like.”
I stare at my hands. “You make it sound like being the lowest of the low is a cool thing.” No one answers, so I sigh. “Uhm,” I shift to lay on my stomach. “It’s a little like after watching a scary movie?”
“What?”
I huff, toying with her comforter as I think. “Ok, so, first it’s super embarrassing, because that stupid whine and my scent. But then it turns into this terrifying moment of ‘What if they don’t accept?’ You know? Like, it’s so painful when it’s ignored, but being denied is even worse.” I pause, trying to find the right words, pretending not to notice the shiver that runs through me as Veronica rubs my back. “But after, when it’s been accepted, it’s like this small high, or like, a rush of pride.”
“That makes zero sense.”
“Well…ok.” I sit up on my elbows. “Being denied is like being dumped or put up for adoption by your superior. You feel shitty, unwanted, worthless. Being ignored is a little better, like when your friends ignore you suddenly for a week. But acceptance is incredible. You would think it’s horrendous, you know, the pain from the bite and all; and trust me, it hurts. But…it sounds twisted, but…” I tilt my head to the side, careful with my words. “I never feel more loved than when my submission has been accepted. It means the superior still wants you.”
“That’s a little sad to be honest.”
I shrug. “I had never been denied before, so I’m only speaking second hand, and I had never been ignored before Heather.” I blush slightly. “I’ve also only submitted to alphas before. If I really wanted to push it, I could probably become addicted to it.”
“Is it worse as a human or a wolf?”
“Uh, well, it depends. On sheer pain, wolf, for sure. But I would prefer a wolf submission over human because as a human, you have to face them after, look in their eye as they back away from you, but you also have to deal with your wolf. They usually are yearning for more, if accepted, or crushed, if not.”
“Wait,” Veronica scoots forward. “What’s it like hearing the alpha voice?”
I laugh. “I want to hear your guys’ feelings on submissions first. You’re not the only ones interested.”
“Sucks,” Heather grumbles, glaring harshly at Heather.
“Not near as emotional as you explain it. More like ‘get bit, move on.’”
“Don’t know,” Veronica finishes, staring at Heather. “Come on, Heather. Tell us.”
She shakes her head. “I don’t think you’ll like what you hear.” When no one says anything, she says, “It’s addicting, for sure.” She swallows, looking at her hands. “I feel bad saying it, but if it didn’t have such an effect on you all, I would do it way more often. The whine is better than any music or sound in the world,” her eyes drift closed, “the scent is intoxicating. It’s a beautiful moment. If I could freeze, and hear the whine forever, I would.” She opens her eyes after a moment. “But obviously, you all hate it. So I won’t.”
“Anyway,” Veronica says. “Gemma, go.”
“I vote we start with Heather first and work our way around to end with me.”
Heather rolls her eyes. “It’s kind of the same with the submission. It’s addicting, if I let it be. It takes a toll, though. If I did it too much, it wouldn’t be as powerful.” She smiles evilly. “You haven’t even heard my full alpha voice. Only about half as powerful.”
“Oh my God,” Heather whispers.
“Next,” Heather says, looking at Veronica.
“I think Heather will agree with me on this. It’s more of like soldiers being ordered to attention under their general. It’s…I don’t know. It’s not that big of a deal, usually. You just…do it.” Heather nods, agreeing.
“For me,” Heather starts softly, “it’s scary. Like she’s going to murder me at any moment. I mean, I know she won’t, but…yeah.”
They all turn to me. I chew my cheek. “Uhm, take Heather’s statement, times one hundred.” I blush some more. “You know the last time you used it on me? I was scared enough I could have pissed myself.” I chuckle. “If that’s not your full voice, I’m nervous what will happen when you do use it.” I sigh. “But, it is kind of like the submission thing. After following the order, it makes me feel useful and needed. I don’t know, but it kind of feels good afterward.”
“So what I’m hearing is that you want me to use my alpha voice and submissions more often.”
“No!” I say a bit too quickly. “Absolutely not. I’m still scared as Hell on both accounts, and it still hurts.”
“It definitely has something to do with her tendency to over-connect,” Heather says.
“Oh. I bet how she felt last time is how Heather would feel on my full voice,” Heather adds.
“We can totally abuse that,” Heather finishes.
“Woah!” I say. “Excuse me?”
“What I mean is,” stopping Heather from jumping down her throat, “she clearly benefits from certain things, and we all feel better when she’s doing good.”
“Heather, I can’t do those things too often.”
“Why not?”
“You heard her, it’s painful.”
“But it all works out in the end, right? And you can use your voice for little things and accept submissions without bites.”
“Heather, that’s ridiculous. Plus, I get tired from using it.”
“Come on.”
“No! Heather, you don’t understand.”
They glare at each other, and the air is incredibly tense. Heather tries to defuse the situation, latching onto Heather’s side and her scent shifting into the space. Veronica laughs, awkwardly. “I think we need to have a bit of fun.” She rolls off the bed. “Song requests?”
“What are you doing?”
“Lightening the mood.” She pulls out her phone, turning on some music. She pulls Heather Duke up, forcing her to dance a little with her. “Come on, I don’t want to dance alone.”
Heather shakes her head, but eventually she gives in, dancing with her. Heather is quick to giggle and join, the three dancing to the stupid song from the early 2000s. Veronica then sets her sights on Heather, trying to drag her off the bed.
“Don’t touch me!” she squeals, nearly giggling. “I’m not going to dance with you.”
Veronica abandons her and lifts me up, throwing me into the pit. I blush and giggle, letting Heather grab my hands and swing me around. “Come on, Queenie. The rest of us are here.”
She examines us all, an odd emotion on her face. Simply watching us, she remains still for a moment. Finally, she stands earning a cheer from us all, but she just stands, not dancing. Heather abandons me, now that I’m willing to dance around on my own, to grab her hands. She finally gives us a smile, joining in in our impromptu and ridiculous dance session. She looks happy, laughing away with us all. It’s enjoyable. There’s nothing in this moment in time that could ruin this. We’re together, happy, peaceful. It’s more fun, in my opinion, than any party. I would much rather do this. It feels like we’re kids again, no care in the world, just enjoying the music. It’s the most I’ve seen Heather Duke smile in as long as I’ve known her.
Veronica’s phone stops playing music to be replaced with a phone call. She answers it, greeting her boyfriend. Heather glares at her, but she shrugs apologetically and hangs up. “I’m sorry, but—”
“Ronnie!”
“Sorry, I’ve just barely seen him all week.”
Disappointment is clear on their faces, but she gathers her things nonetheless. Heather finally shrugs. “Fine. See you tomorrow.” I was wrong. There is something that could ruin this. It’s a boy. She looks like she wants to say something, but she just ditches. Heather crosses her arms. “We need to do something about J.D.”
“What—What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean, Heather. He doesn’t treat her very well.”
“You can’t solve the world’s problems,” Heather mumbles. “Just let her handle it.”
“Heather, they don’t have a healthy relationship.”
“As if—”
Heather cuts her off quickly, “Heather, I understand you don’t like them together, but she’s a big girl, she—”
“Heather, please. Veronica’s too wrapped up in him to know what’s going on.”
“I just think we need to talk to her about it.”
“I’ve tried. She shuts down. The only person she’ll listen to is Heather, and that’s only when she pushes her scent.”
“Use your voice,” Heather offers.
“No, Heather. Quit suggesting it.”
“Send Gemma in, she’s great with emotions.”
“Excuse me, I don’t think I have a place to tell her what’s wrong with her relationship. I mean, I’ve seen them interact once,” I sit gently on the bed, a little perturbed she threw attention onto me. “I’m fine not getting involved.”
“It’ll ease up when basketball starts. She won’t have as much time to spend with him.”
“False,” Heather says, settling down next to me with an exhausted sigh. “She’ll just spend less time with us.” I can see how tense she is, and it bothers me. I gently run my hand over her back, which is hunched over and turned away from us all. I see her curve just a little under it, but when she doesn’t outright shove it away, I keep going. “I feel like we just got her back.”
“We aren’t going to lose her, Heather,” Heather says softly, seemingly unsure to approach her or stay attached to Heather. “It’s just part of J.D. being a lone wolf.”
“What? Because he doesn’t like having a pack, he gets to pull her away from hers?”
“That’s not what I meant. I meant that he needs more companionship.”
“What if he does try to get her to leave?”
I gently rub her shoulders. “That’s a large ‘if.’” She sighs as I work a knot in her neck.
“But it’s a possibility.”
“A farfetched one,” I whisper softly in her ear. Her head drops so her chin is to her chest, giving me easier access to her knot. I pat her back softly. “Lay down.”
“What? Why?”
“I happen to know the pressure points in your back. I give really good back massages.” She lays down with much of a fight. I lay her arms by her side. “By all means, don’t stop the conversation on my account.” I know I shouldn’t, but I let my scent out to calm her. I know it takes effect when her eyes close and a smile finds a way onto her face.
She hums. “I don’t remember what we were talking about.” She groans suddenly as I dig my thumbs into her back on the pressure points. “Jesus Christ.” I glance up, getting an approving nod from Heather. “Why am I just now finding out about this?”
I smile as her body is becoming increasingly more relaxed. “Never came up.” I apply pressure, popping her back. She squirms a little. “You ok?”
“Yeah,” she struggles. “It just feels really good.”
“Ok, come on. Can I have one?” Heather Duke asks.
I smile, gently rubbing Heather’s back. “Sure.” I end up giving them all backrubs, having to hold down Heather McNamara as she giggles through it. They thank me, and by the time I finish with Heather, I think the other two are asleep. “You guys good?”
They hum contently. “Perfect.”
I sit back, letting them lay there and enjoy it. “Glad it helped. Can I get you anything?”
“No, but thanks,” McNamara smiles. “What can we do for you?”
I smile back, appreciating her caring enough to ask. I blush however, not comfortable asking. “Well…uh…I…”
“She wants praise and scents, Heather.”
I look at Chandler, smiling softly to herself. “Sometimes, it’s nice when you don’t read my mind.”
“I didn’t read it, first of all. I can safely assume based on what we know about you. Good to know I was right.”
“Come here,” Duke mumbles, scooting so there’s a gap between her and Chandler.
I join them in their lounging on my back, my eyes closing as their scents drift out to envelope me. They offer praise, hardly awake, and I allow myself to groan audibly. It feels so good. I feel so needed and wanted. Goosebumps race over my skin, and I shiver. “That’ll never get old.”
“Glad it helps,” Heather yawns.
Heather shifts so her head rests on my stomach, my hand sliding into her hair. She sighs. “This’ll teach Ronnie to ditch us. If she asks for one, tell her no.”
“That’s so harsh.”
“No, what would be better is if she gave her a small taste, but then refuse to keep going.”
We take a light nap, a pleasant and relaxing time. I wake up at one point with Duke scenting me. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like?”
“Well, yeah, but why?”
“We need it.”
When she’s done, I gesture to Heather asleep on me. “I can’t really…”
“It’s fine. Maybe later.” She settles on her side, facing me, eyes on me.
“What?” I whisper, trying not to wake the other two Heathers.
There’s a sigh and an arm slips over her waist from behind. She eyes it but shifts back into it anyway. “Nothing.”
I smile. “So you just want to stare at my beautiful face? I get it.”
She rolls her eyes, then they soften and drift around my face. “You don’t understand how good it is to have you here.”
“You mean the back rubs? I get that a lot.”
“No,” she huffs.
“Then what do you mean?”
I watch her fingers dance on Heather’s hand on her stomach as she thinks. “You don’t know what it was like before.”
“You make it sound horrendous.”
“I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“No, no. Please, continue.”
Her eyes close, her scent shifting a bit, but I’m not sure how. “I—I need to apologize.”
“For what?”
“Before, I was…a bit rude.”
“Heather, you don’t have to apologize for that. I was rude back.”
“I just…uh…” She says something, but I don’t hear it.
“What?”
“I didn’t want Heather getting hurt.”
I hold back a laugh to stop my stomach from bouncing. “What are you talking about?”
Her face scrunches a bit with nerves. “There’s been so many omegas over the years, trying to weasel their way in. And it takes a toll on Heather, omegas trying to get her attached to them. I was worried she’d get too attached and you wouldn’t join. She’s been hurt so many times…”
I grab her hand, smiling softly. “I understand.” I don’t bother mentioning that being mean to me probably wasn’t the best course of action to get me to join.
She nods, nerves leaving her face. She seems to have gotten what she needed off her chest. “I’m just glad you joined for us, and not the benefits.”
This time I do laugh. “What can I say? The gold-digger life isn’t for me. It was also a little hard to say no with you guys breathing down my neck.”
“Did we pressure you into it?”
“Well, yeah,” I laugh. When I see her face, I drop the laugh and say more seriously, “The decision was mine and mine alone.”
“Can you guys shut up?” Heather apparently awakens on my stomach.
“Sorry, Heather,” we mumble.
“I appreciate the heart to heart moment, but some of us are trying to sleep,” she moves upward, so her face is snuggled into my neck.
“How long have you been listening?”
“Since you woke her up by scenting her.”
Heather visibly reddens, her own walls thrown up to keep us out. She gives Heather’s hand a harsh squeeze. “Well, just go back to sleep then.”
“Jesus Heather, you—”
I cut her off, hoping to avoid an argument between them. “I should get going home, since you’re awake.”
Heather tightens her hold. “What? Come on.”
I chuckle lightly, trying to peel her off. “My parents will think I’m dead, I’m hardly home. I also have a paper due tomorrow, that I have neglected this weekend.”

Chapter Text

“Let me drive you home.” She finally gets off me, pulling me with her, and casting a quick promise of return to the others. She corners me in the hallway however, capturing a long, intense kiss.
I follow her when she pulls away, chuckling. “What happened to driving me home?”
“I’ve gone all weekend without this.”
I giggle as she trails some kisses around. “See, your original assumption that I’m going to be the one begging for it was wrong. You, my dear,” I kiss her nose, “are the one too impatient.”
She shakes her head. “It’s the early stages of heat.”
“Mhm. Sure. Take the easy way out.” She takes a bite of my neck, smiling as I squirm under her. “No, no, no. We are not doing this.”
“Come on.”
“Are you begging right now?”
She pulls back, eyes harsh. “I don’t beg.”
I smile, nudging her jaw with my fist. “Sure sounds like it.” Before she can do anything, I giggle and jog down the hall. I hear a heavy sigh, then her footsteps following me. I know I push her buttons sometimes, but she pushes mine way more often. I wait for her at the door, my things in hand.
“I don’t beg,” she repeats, looking me dead in the eye.
I shrug. “Yeah, I know. I was just kidding.”
“Yeah, well I don’t think it was that funny.” Her anger and frustration are apparent, her body tense.
I don’t approach her, nervous that she might lash out. “Gee, Heather. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“Let’s just go.”
I do reach out this time, stopping her. She pulls out of it. “Heather, I really think—”
She shoves past me out the door. “Come on.”
I follow her to the car, throwing my things in the backseat. She angrily climbs in. “We need to talk about this.”
“What’s there to talk about?”
“Heather no functioning relationship—”
“I just—”
“Stop interrupting me!” She clenches her jaw but stops talking. “No functioning relationship has that kind of interaction without talking through it. I don’t understand why you’re upset. Explain it to me.” She doesn’t respond for a while. “Please, Heather. I won’t say that again. Just talk to me.”
She takes a long, steadying breath. “Things like that make me feel…small.” She glances at me, and when I don’t interrupt her, she continues. “My mother likes to remind me that I’m still an omega at home, and I appreciate being around the pack because I don’t feel like that.”
I perk up a little. “Ok, so you feel good when I make you feel like an alpha?” It’s a very hesitant statement that turned into question, because I get what she means, but I don’t know how I play into the equation.
“Why did you say it like that?”
“Uhm,” I sing out. “I don’t know how to explain it.”
“It’s no big deal,” she dismisses.
“Woah, wait. It is a big deal.” I chance it by dragging a hand over to hold. “If I don’t make you happy, I need to know.”
“It’s not that you don’t make me happy, it’s just…I expect statements like that from my mother, not you.”
“Ok! I get it.” I squeeze her hand a bit too tightly, hoping she stays open, and not throw her walls up. “So what would you expect to hear from me?”
She finally cracks a smile, no matter how small and lifeless it is. “Nothing.”
I roll my eyes, settling back into the seat. “You’re sending really mixed messages.”
“I am not.”
“You tell me you expect differently from me, and then tell me you expect nothing from me.”
She squeezes my hand back. Unfortunately, she’s saved by my driveway. “Here we are.” I don’t move. She raises an eyebrow. “Are you expecting me to walk you to the door and kiss you goodnight? Why do we ring the bell and get your parents out to watch?” I roll me eyes again. “You’ve picked up a bad habit.”
“Only when around you lot.” I grab my things, leaning back in through the window. “Goodnight, Heather.”
She smiles softly. “Goodnight.”
I get in the door, and my mom jumps on me. “How’s the pack?”
I nod, a little uncertain with the situation. “Fine.”
“Sit down, for a bit,” my mom smiles tightly. “I’ll make some tea.”
I sit down onto the couch. “What’s going on?”
“I just think we need to chat a little,” she calls from the kitchen. She returns from the kitchen with a couple of mugs. “You know, you had a rough day yesterday.” More than she knows. “How are you feeling?” At her question, the single presence in my mind turns to four, and I try to will them away.
I gulp down some scalding tea as I debate my answer. “I’m…ok.”
“Mrs. Chandler called.” Ah shit. “She told me everything.”
“A—And?”
“I’m not sure what to think. But aside from this ‘gift,’ as she calls it, I’m more worried about your mental health.” I blow out some air, not ready for “the talk,” and especially not with my four pack members listening. “I need you to talk to me.” I sip on my tea, not meeting her eye, all but begging them to step out. “Gemma, please, honey.”
I shift away from her. “I just…don’t want to talk about it.”
“You said that last time, and then—”
“It won’t happen again.” It’s not a very strong promise. “Just let me handle it.”
“I’m not sure I can listen to that album again,” she tries to laugh, but it comes out sad.
I stand. “Well, I won’t play it next time.”
She stands with me, grabbing my arm before I can escape. “That’s not what I said.”
“But it’s what you meant.”
She starts dragging me to the kitchen. “Why don’t I make you something to eat?”
“Mum, I’m going to get fat if you keep forcing me to eat my feelings.”
“How about some waffles?” I sit, defeated, at the kitchen table. “Cherry or strawberry?”
“Cherry, please.” I still beg the others to leave. “I really don’t want to talk about it. Please.” My voice cracks a little.
She looks over at me, with so much pity in her eyes it makes me sick. “You need to express—”
“I know how to express my feelings, mum. I just choose not to.”
“Your father and I were talking…”
“Gee, mum, the last time you said that, you forced me to play the clarinet.”
“We think that a sport would be good for you.”
“Yeah, football was great, but we moved to the middle of nowhere that doesn’t do football.”
“There are plenty of other sports available.”
“I’m good with my feet, not my hands.”
“You could do cross country, or track.”
“I’m not going to run three miles in the blazing heat. Plus, the time for cross country is past.”
“You are a great distance runner. And field competition went well.”
I huff. “If I do a sport, will you get off my case?”
“Why not basketball?”
“Uhm, because I’m five foot four and one hundred and ten pounds dripping wet. I’ll get knocked around like a pinball. Plus, I’m no sprinter.”
“I think basketball would be great for you.”
“Why?”
“I think you’re a great athlete, and your time needs to be spent on something productive.”
“Homework?”
“Sports haven’t interfered with your homework before.”
“But I have a pack now. And I need to spend time with them.”
“Aren’t the other ones in any sports?”
I hear someone tell me that Veronica’s in basketball and track, and a smaller voice adds that cheerleading is a sport. “No.”
“Are you sure?”
“Mostly.” She gives me a look. “Heather is a cheerleader.”
“You could—”
“No. Absolutely not.”
“Alright. Here’s the bottom line.” I roll my eyes at her back. Here we go, she’s turning alpha on me. “Your father and I believe that one sport, at least, is important for your health. Exercise is good for the mind.”
“You’re going to force me to play a sport I don’t want to play.”
She slides me a plate of cherry-drenched waffles. “Yes. If that’s how you want to see it.” She smiles. “You can pick which one.”
I laugh. “Great. Now that the start of the year has passed, I have the option of basketball, wrestling, and track. And I’m not going to wrestle.”
“At least try out for the basketball team.”
“There’s no trying out, I just show up and make the team.” I shove waffles in my mouth. “Well, if I have no choice…”
“It’s for your benefit, trust me.”
“Anything else you want to force me into?”
“Well, since you mention the clarinet—”
“Mother.”
“Next semester, when you can change classes, I think you should join the band.”
“Why?”
“You love music. Especially instrumentals. And you’re good.”
“I’m not good at the clarinet. But…I agree that I miss music.”
“Then it’s settled. You’re joining the band and the basketball team.”
“Why don’t I stack on student government while I’m at it?”
“Really?”
“No!” I rinse my plate. “That’s so much, mum.”
“You’ll do great.”
“I’m going to my room, now.”
“Wait—”
I slip out of the room, almost racing up the stairs. Collapsing on the bed, I turn to stare at the framed Beatle’s poster. My heart turns sad, memories of our early childhood coming back. I close my eyes, drifting into when I was around six years old, and Judah was helping me learn tricks with a football. I remember him explaining the rules of the game, taking me to my first professional match…everything. When I open my eyes again, I don’t even care to change. I just want to roll into my blanket and sleep. I know I should shower. But my motivation is lacking.
I finally get up, turning on some Beatles before hopping into the scalding water. I read some poetry after, sketching a small doodle onto the last page. It starts out just being a general face, but then it develops into Heather. It’s just her spacing off, like in English or something, but there’s still a light in her eye. Turning off my light, I curl into a blanket burrito, letting Heather’s singing lull me to sleep. I send one final irritated message about their presence, but fall into a deep, calm sleep. Well, calm on my conscious end.
When I wake up for school, I feel like I got hit by a truck, and I have to give myself a speech to even open my eyes. The other four are present, but lightly, and I don’t really want to face them. The only reason I do get out of bed is because my mother came in to wake me up.
“Don’t forget you have school.” I mumble my acknowledgement, fully committing to staying in bed. She nudges me lightly, opening my shades. I nearly hiss, the sunlight hurts. “You’re going to be late. And you are not skipping.”
I hate it when dad is gone. She’s not near as controlling when he’s here. If he was here, I could stay in bed, and she wouldn’t say anything because he wouldn’t. I get up, deciding it’s a great day for sweat pants. I throw my hair up in a messy bun, attempting to look somewhat presentable. I’m refusing breakfast from my mom when there’s a honk outside. I kiss her goodbye, slipping into Heather’s car.
“You don’t look so good.”
I lounge back in the seat, resting my head on my hand. “I feel horrible.”
“What’s wrong?” Her scent shifts dramatically, her hand coming to my shoulder.
I smile. “Thank you for the concern.” I sigh as she runs her hand into my hair. “I’m not sure. I just…I don’t know.”
“Maybe we should turn around, take you home?”
I shake my head. “No, no I’ll be fine. She’ll just think I’m faking anyway.”
“What can I do?”
“Nothing.” I hear her sigh. “That’s not what I meant.”
She takes her hand away, pulling into the school. “I know. I just hate it. Not being able to help you.”
I groan as I get my things and crawl out of the car. “I get sick a lot. Stress and things. Omegas aren’t the healthiest wolves.”
“Speaking of which, new commitments in the future?”
“Yeah, first off, I don’t appreciate you listening last night.”
“Why aren’t you practicing what I taught you?”
“I am.” She gives me a look. “Kind of.” We stop by my locker. “I don’t want to do either thing.”
“Oh, come on. Basketball won’t be too bad. You’d play with Ronnie, and Heather will be right there, cheering away, and Heather and I will…watch.”
I follow her to her locker. “I think you just like the prospect of an athlete for a mate.”
She narrows her eyes. “You really get me.”
“What about band?”
“Oh, please don’t. I do not associate with band nerds.”
“We should do it together.” She laughs harshly. “It’d be romantic.”
I get a slap on the back. “Basketball? Really?”
I shrug out of Veronica’s hand. “It’s not really my choice.”
“It’ll be fun. You get to hang out with me.” She beams down at me, and I can’t help but smile back. “You’d totally be a star player.”
“Heather,” I turn my attention to the smiling bean next to me, and ignoring Veronica, “do you want to join the band with me?”
Duke laughs. “Band? No way.”
“Heather, you like music, obviously. Do it with me!”
She gives me a small smile. “I—I don’t think so.”
“What about choir? That’s not as bad, right?”
“Honey,” Veronica pats my shoulder. “No one will join you in your torturous endeavor.”
“Please? I mean, it would be cool if you guys did it. Everyone would think band is cool then.”
“You over estimate us.”
I sigh, defeated. “Fine. I guess…”
“The clarinet? That’s so…gross.”
“I also play the piano, and officially the violin, but I don’t have one and they don’t have that program here.”
“You never told us that.”
“The last time I played the piano was…” I trail off, dropping my gaze to the floor. “So it’s been a while.” There’s an awkward silence, and I jab the tile with my shoe.
“Uh—Uh—Uh—I think,” Heather stumbles, trying desperately to fill the silence, “that we should…” she trails off, not having thought of an activity.
“We should,” Veronica picks up, “have a study session tonight.”
Duke makes a disgusted noise, as Heather excitedly agrees. “Yes! Yes, exactly.”
“Great. So it’s happening.”
“Yes.”
A silence settles again. “I’m going to visit the loo before class,” I mumble, slipping away. I slip into the bathroom, gratefully they didn’t follow. My breathing is increasingly becoming rapid, and I need to calm down before I cry. Dropping my things, I stare into my own eyes in the mirror, trying to pull my mind into the present, not the past. It’s hard, and I’m already not feeling well. I just can’t cry. That’s embarrassing. I smell the approach of Heather, and I tense. Physical contact will make me cry, and I can’t allow them to see me like this. I nearly scream at her to go away, but she doesn’t. She doesn’t say a word, dropping her things, wrapping her arms around me in a hug. I sniffle, trying incredibly hard to not cry. “Heather, please.”
She shushes me, placing a soft kiss on my temple. “Just breathe.”
“You’re going to make me cry.” Her scent is wrapping me up, and her hands gently rub my back. She doesn’t say a word, just holding me. I allow it for a bit, then push her off. “I’m fine.” My voice drops in tone, edging closer to a lack of emotion.
She clearly doesn’t believe me. “I…”
I gather my things, “It’s fine.” I shove my way out the door, heading to the classroom, rather than face the others again. I just need to let school save me, like it always does. I can ignore and forget everything else in the world for fifty minutes while I try to digest calculus.
My day gets worse as I get my recent quiz back. I failed it, bad. I get a “see me after class” and a stern look, and I know I’m dead. If my parents find out, which they will, I’ll be grounded for sure. I’ve never had a problem with maths, I usually understand it. I’ve just been too preoccupied to focus, I suppose. I try to keep up with the notes, but my brain is running slow, with a large lack of fuel, and the teacher is moving way too fast. I explain to the teacher after class that I’ve just lost focus, and that I’ll try harder in the future.
I also didn’t finish the paper last night, so when I turn it in, it is incomplete. I get a disappointed look. I refuse to ask for an extension though. I feel worse as the morning wears on, nearly falling asleep in my history class right before lunch. I trudge into the lunch room, not grabbing a tray. I feel like vomiting out my guts. I settle down next to the others, immediately resting my head on my arms, my poetry book tucked underneath.
I cringe, shifting out from a hand on my back. “Don’t touch me.”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know, it just hurts.”
“What? My hand?” I nod weakly. “You should go home.”
“I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not.”
“Just…let me survive on your scents for a bit.”
“Aren’t you going to eat?”
“No.” I drift into a light sleep, at least getting a bit of time to rest my eyes. When I wake up again, however, I feel even worse. “Jesus Christ,” I moan.
“You seriously need to go home.”
I gaze up at Heather, the room spinning a bit. “If I do, then,” I huff at the nausea hitting me, “then I’ll feel worse, without you.”
“You really want to go through today like this?”
“Yeah. I’ll just go to the nurse and get some meds.” I close my eyes, face turned to the side. A single finger trails along my hairline to brush some hair back, but the second it touches my skin, I hold back a vomit. I get up, rushing out of the room with my hand over my mouth. I left my book, but they can grab it. I barely make it to the toilet in time, glad I didn’t eat. When I finish, I really have no energy to move. I sit there for a second, dizzy. I finally drag myself out the door and to the front office. “Uhm…can I speak to the nurse?”
The lady at the front office smiles. “Sure.” She disappears, coming out with another lady.
“What’s wrong?”
“I really need some medicine. I’m dizzy, and I’m vomiting, and…”
She nods. “Wait here a moment.” She grabs a thermometer, sticking it in my ear. “Oh, dear.” Her face settles into a worried mess. “I think you need to head home, and if possible, to a hospital, maybe.” I nod weakly. “Is your pack not here today?” she asks after calling my mother.
“No, they’re here.”
“I don’t understand. Why aren’t they helping?”
“I don’t know. It hurts when they touch me.”
“Please go to the hospital. This is not normal.”
My mother comes in, in her work uniform. “Oh, sweetheart.” She helps me to the car. “We’re taking you to the hospital.”
“Wait, wait,” I whisper, my energy rapidly disappearing. “Mr. Chandler.”
“What?”
“Mr. Chandler, he can help.”
She shakes her head but grabs her phone anyway. I fall asleep as she talks. I wake up when I’m being carried into the house, laid down on a couch. I feel even worse, whimpering slightly at the jarring movement. A hand rests on my stomach, and I whine for a trashcan, vomiting into it. I can’t really hear or retain any of the conversation going on around me. There’s a sharp poking in my hand, and I peek open just enough to see an IV.
The afternoon must have flown by, as I smell the approach of the pack. It makes me sick again, vomiting into the trashcan. “No, give her space,” I hear.
“What’s wrong?”
“I’m not quite sure. Just, stay back. With her…habit of over connecting, I’m not sure where this can go.”
“She needs to go to a hospital.”
“There’s nothing they can do. I think this is based on what happened yesterday.”
“Oh, Daddy. Please tell me she’ll be alright.”
“I just need time to work this out.”
I vomit again, with a large influx of scent. “She doesn’t seem to have much time, Dad.”
“I’m working on it. Just…stay calm, keep your scents in, keep out of her head. Disconnect yourselves from her.”
The scents disappear, and I relax a little. I hear the room settle, someone holding my hand. I’m so exhausted, I can register things but not make an effort to respond. I drift in and out of sleep, but every time I wake up, it gets worse. I’m having a hard time breathing, my thoughts dark and angry. The only thing I can picture is Judah and all the blood. I can’t shake the image from my mind, like it’s burned in. I suddenly hear singing, but it’s not inside my head.
It’s Heather, singing softly, almost right in my ear. It would be fine, but she’s singing the Beatles, and getting words wrong. I appreciate her trying, deep down, but most of me is very, very angry that she can’t get the words right. Normally, I would just correct her and move on, but right now, I can’t. I hear the angry sound that leaves my chest, realizing it’s a growl, and I can’t stop it. I just growled at the sweet Jelly Bean. The singing instantly stops. “You got the words wrong.”
“Which one?” a soft voice asks, a little later. I hear pages turning. “Ok. How do you pronounce this?”
“Just give it here,” a stronger voice says. The same voice then reads through my favorite poem, not struggling too hard on the thick language. It begins to take up a rhythm, really doing as much justice to the poem as a fresh reading can do. I settle, forcing myself to stay awake, since sleeping makes it worse. She just keeps reading from that page, but when she hits the thick Irish poetry of Yeats, she struggles. Luckily, before I get too upset, she stops.
The hand returns onto my head, and my back arches in pain. A scream escapes me, the pain too much to handle. It’s like all the pain is rushing to my forehead, trying to transfer from my head to the hand. It hovers for entirely too long, my throat turning raw. It finally leaves, the heavy darkness spreading back throughout my skull.
“Stop.”
“I just need more information.”
“Why can’t we help her along?”
“I’m not sure, but her body is actively rejecting any and all interactions with you. Touch, scent, mental interactions. I’m not really sure what is happening. She shouldn’t be reacting this way.”
More time passes, more poetry read, but my body is getting increasingly more numb and heavier. I can’t feel any bit of my body, just a huge weight attached to my mind. Eventually, singing returns, but the lyrics are right this time.
Mrs. Chandler enters the house, and I shout as I vomit, it falling short of exiting my mouth. Hurried hands shove me onto my side, and the vomit comes out. I groan in pain, my stomach empty and unable to produce anything else.
“I have an idea.”
“No. Absolutely not.”
“How else are we going to do this? We can’t risk the girls.”
“What about her? It could…it could rip her apart.”
“Do we want to get her out of this, or do we want to sit on our hands and do nothing?”
“Heather?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I can maybe pull her out of this—”
“Wait, what is this?”
“I was afraid of this, but I think we released something a bit uncontrollable yesterday. I can try, but I’m going to have to force a connection and pray it doesn’t hurt her too much.”
“It could—”
“Don’t touch her.”
“It could get her back to normal?”
“Possibly. If I can’t pull her out of it, I’m not quite sure what to do.”
“As long as it helps her out, try it.”
“Are you positive?”
“What else can we do?”
“Alright. Can I get a heart monitor, please?” A beeping sound eventually starts. “Good.” Hands appear on my cheeks. “Open your eyes.” It’s soft, a calm request. I want to, I really do, but I can’t. They’re too heavy. “Look at me.” It’s approaching alpha level, but I still can’t. “Open your eyes.” It’s enough alpha voice to make me shake (if I could feel my body), but it’s not enough. A throat is cleared. “Look at me.” It’s the most alpha voice I’ve ever heard, and yet, I can’t. “Look at me!” It’s a shout, deep and threatening, and it’s enough to shake me to my core. My eyes barely crack open, but it’s enough to fulfill her command. I’ve made eye contact. But now that I’ve opened my eyes, I can’t look away. She holds me, hard and true, and I’m whimpering gently. It’s so difficult, my body trying to shut down. “Good.” I can hardly keep her in focus. I need to vomit again, but I can’t tell her, so I just let it rip. I’m lucky enough that it hit the can and not her. Her scent is all over me, and it’s making it hard to breathe. I feel like my brain is being ripped to shreds, every thought, every memory, every feeling out for the world to see. Screams are all I hear, my own, but also those inside my head. It’s like the world is caving in, and I can’t do anything to stop it. I need help. I need someone to stop the sky from falling. I find myself calling out the names of the pack, begging for help, for relief, for peace. But all my world consists of is Mrs. Chandler, and it scares me. She isn’t safe. She isn’t peace. She’s the one doing this to me, she’s tearing my world apart. I can’t think straight. It’s all suddenly gone, the pain, the scent, the screams. But at the same time, I feel lonely, empty, lifeless, and downright worthless. I sob openly, curling into myself.
There’s heavy breathing and a thud next to me. “Mom?”
“I’m alright, just spent. How is she?”
“Uhm…Gem?” I don’t respond. I can’t really. Shifting, a breath on my face. “Chérubin.” I whimper quietly through my sobs in recognition. “You can hear me?” I try to move my head in any manner resembling a nod, but it’s a weird twitch, really. “Are you…Did that help?” I don’t know how to respond, instead, allowing the vomit to leave my body again. “I don’t know if this did anything.”
“Heather, you could try.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“I could coach you through it, but only if you’re up for it.”
“Su—Sure.”
“I need you to get rid of any negative or hostile feelings. Only positive. You could make it worse.” Hands on my face again. “Alright, get her to open her eyes again.”
“Listen,” her voice is so soft, it’s helping relieve my headache. “I really need you to open your eyes. Open your eyes.” She pats my face lightly. “I’m here. I’m here for you, but I need you to open your eyes and look at me.” She wipes a tear as I pry an eye open. “There we go, come on. Look at me.” It’s so hard. I just want to pass out. Her scent is invading my nose, and I heave again, but with nothing left to expel, it’s just dry. “How am I supposed to do this if my scent is hurting her?”
“Just keep going. Keep focused.”
“Ok, what do I do now? I think I’ve got it.”
I don’t hear the response. My mind seems to snap into hyper-speed. My eyes widen, Heather filling my vision. I’m processing everything, even her thoughts, more than I’ve ever heard from her mind. Deep, personal, emotional thoughts. My breathing hitches when the evil storm cloud takes over. I just want to rip her apart. I realize it’s Heather, my Heather. I should care for her, I should cherish her, but all I can think about is how much I would love to tear her to pieces. “Keep control, Heather.”
“I—I can’t. She’s—”
“I understand, but she needs you to take control.”
“It’s so strong.”
I grip her wrists, and the contact is the surge I need. My mind invades hers, more than I had thought possible. I see things I had never thought I would see, from her childhood, from yesterday, from her dreams, but it’s all moving so fast, I don’t remember any of it. Shock covers her face, her scent suffocating me. It’s incredible. It’s powerful. I could get used to this. “Heather, break it. Now!”
There’s no response, but there’s hands tearing mine off hers. I see the fear in her eyes, and it’s the most intoxicating thing I’ve ever experienced. I could live on it. My arms are forced down, trapped by someone. I fight against it, needing more of what I just tasted. I vomit again, a huge wall of scent hitting me. It’s enough to break my eye contact with her, as I heave, and when I look up, she’s scooting backwards away from me, fear all over her face. My eyes close, my body and mind lacking any energy to remain rigid and open.
“What—What—What—”
“That’s what she can do. That’s her gift.”
“It’s terrifying.”
“Just kiss her.”
“Heather—”
“No, that’s a good idea. It always calms her.”
“I—I—I—”
“Heather, take your time.”
Some time passes, and I’m slowly slipping into that state of heaviness and numbness. I feel hands on my cheeks again, and then lips on my lips. It takes a minute, but my mind and my body eventually wake up, revived by the cherries and roses filling me. It hurts, causing me to growl viciously against it. She growls back, demanding control. I hate it, but when I let go, when I allow her to take control of me, it all disappears—the hurt, the pain, the insistent need to cause pain. All there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be is Heather. All I need is this. I wrap my arms around her, the need for her overtaking my utter lack of life. I whine into her, needing every bit of her existence.
She pulls away, hands remaining on my face. “Look at me.”
My voice comes out raw, scratchy. “I…”
She shushes me. “Just open your eyes.” I do, barely. “Are you feeling alright?” I shake my head. “Are you feeling any better?”
I gesture to my throat. “Water?” A glass appears, cool water soothing my throat. My whole body is in pain. “Thank you.”
“What else do you need?”
I tug lightly on her clothes. “Hold me.”
She shifts, hoisting me up to hold me from behind, my body between her legs, my head resting gently back against her shoulder. “Dad?”
The hand reappears on my head, and I curl away from it. “It’s better, definitely. There isn’t much left of what was there before. Whatever that was.”
“What am I supposed to do about this?”
“First, let’s get all of you over here.” The couch shifts, someone lifting my legs onto their lap. I whimper softly. “What is it, dear?”
I cough lightly. “Scents?”
The scents fill the room slowly, and I take a deep breath, relaxing into Heather’s arms. “I’m not quite sure where to go with this. I hadn’t expected this bad of an after effect, especially long after it happened.”
“Can we not do connections anymore?”
“I don’t think you can’t, I just think it should be used sparingly. And we’ll need to work on better control.”
“Is this going to happen a lot?”
“I have no idea.”
I pull the arms around me tighter. It’s not enough. I need every bit of me filled with them. “What’s wrong?” in my ear.
“I just…I don’t know. I just need you.” A hand grabs mine. “Heather,” I breathe.
“Yes?”
“No, not you.” I open my eyes, looking at Heather sitting on the floor in front of me, holding my hand. “Are you ok?”
She smiles gently. “Yes, I’m fine.”
“Sorry I growled at you.”
She laughs. “I got the words wrong, it’s ok.”
“Mother, tell us what to do.”
She blows out some air. “It’s difficult to say. I’m confused about her body’s rejection of the pack. How was she this morning?”
“When I picked her up, she was pale and said she didn’t feel well, but insisted on going to school.”
“Does she get sick often?”
“Yes.” My mother is still here? “She gets stressed easily, and she has a pretty weak immune system. She was fine last night.”
“For now, just stay here. Rest. We don’t want this getting worse.” A hand rubs small circles on my stomach. “I’ll see about getting some nutrients in her system.”
Heather sighs, resting her head against mine. “You’re ok. You’re alright.”
“I don’t think I am.”
“Can’t we have a normal day for once?”
“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize.”
“Just sleep.”
“I’m scared,” I whisper, not caring to put on a brave face.
“We’re right here.”
“You’ll be safe.”
“Trust us.”
“Sleeping made it worse before.” I shift, trying to stay awake.
Heather nuzzles my ear gently, whispering softly. “Go to sleep, or I’ll force you to sleep.”
“At least sing to me.”
Heather shifts on the floor. “What song?”
“A song you know the words to.”
She smiles softly, thinking. She eventually starts singing, the song she sang after we bonded. It’s relaxing, to say the least, and I end up drifting off, against my own will. Her singing, their scents, Heather’s arms…I could never want anything more. I don’t feel horrendous when I wake up, thankfully, and I’m snuggled under a blanket.
“Oh, thank God you’re awake.”
I shift so I can look up at her. “Why?”
“I need to move; my body is asleep.”
With some help, I sit up. “You could have woken me.” I end up just curling over, landing in Veronica’s lap.
“But you looked so peaceful.”
“Are you asleep already?”
“No,” I yawn. Veronica starts playing with my hair, forcing me to hum contently. I shift, settling so I’m laying upright against her chest, face against her neck. “Snuggle me, please.” Her arms settle around me, her heart a consistent rhythm. “Thank you.”
“How are you feeling?” Heather’s sweet voice is drenched in worry.
I smile. “I’m just…exhausted. I don’t really know what happened. I just remember feeling horrid.”
A hand caresses my face. “I kissed your puke-covered lips.”
There’s laughter, and I blush. “I’m sorry.”
“It was worth it.”
“What can we do?”
“How many times are you going to ask me that?”
“Until you’re feeling better.”
“I’m actually a little hungry.”
“Great! I’ll go…get something.”
“Wait,” I grab her hand a bit too fast. “Don’t go.”
She rolls her eyes but smiles. “I’ll be right back.”
She stands, and I refuse to let go of her hand. “I’ll go with.”
“Stay here.” I shake my head. I start to stand, but Veronica holds me back. “It’s ok.”
I sniffle. “I know but…I…ok.”
She disappears, and I lay back against the arm of the couch. “What do I make?” she calls.
“Rice,” Heather calls back.
“How do I make rice?”
Heather stands, leaving us. Heather takes her place. Veronica gazes down at me, the two unsure what to do. “Wait, Heather doesn’t know how to make rice?” I mumble, arm slung over my eyes to block the light.
“Guess not.”
“Jesus…”
“I don’t know how either,” Heather shrugs from the floor.
I peek at her. “You’re both lucky you have Heather and I.”
Heather and Heather eventually return with a bowl of white rice. I thank them, eating it plain. When her scent fills the room, I feel so much better. I nearly inhale the rice, the only sustenance I’ve had all day. “Is this just instant rice?” Heather nods. “You know how to make gourmet level pancakes, but you don’t know how to make instant rice?”
“Rice is not something my family eats often.”
“What time is it?”
“Nearly ten,” Veronica says.
“Gee, I’m sorry. I invade your home.”
“Just stay the night.”
“Thank you.”
“I need to head home,” Veronica sighs, standing and stretching. “Heather, can you give me a ride?”
“Sure. I’ll take Heather home too.”
The group hovers, looking down at me. “What?”
“Call us, if you need anything,” Heather says, eyes darker than usual.
I glance to the Heather next to me. “I’ll be fine guys.” They nod, bidding us a good night. I finish my rice, standing to take it to the kitchen. She takes if from my hands. “Heather, you’re spoiling me.”
“You were literally dying a few hours again. Let me pamper you.” She leaves with the bowl. I stand, even though she glares at me, and follow. She blushes a little. “What did you see?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
She faces me fully, nervous. “When you did your thing, you went a little rampant in my head.”
I pat her shoulder. “I don’t remember anything really.”
Her gaze lasts a few more seconds, before she nods. “Let’s go upstairs.”
I take her hand before she can escape my grasp. “I’m sorry, for whatever happened.”
She shrugs, leading the way up the stairs. “I’m not blaming you.”
“That doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad about it.”
She opens the door to the room. “You can take a shower if you want.” She gives me a quick once over. “At least brush your teeth.” She cracks a small smile, then turns her back to start preparing for bed. I take her advice, showering and brushing my teeth. I exit the bathroom, hair damp and changed into a spare outfit from her. She glances over from her vanity, a glint of amusement in her eye. “You look good in my clothes.”
My eyes trail over her. Her hair is up, showing off her perfect profile, her silk robe hung loosely around her body, stopping entirely too high on her thighs, her legs crossed. “Thanks,” I squeak.
Rubbing moisturizer on her face, she casts a sideways glance. “Little nervous?”
I breathe out a puff of air, shuffling around her towards the bed. “No more than usual.”
“I beg to differ.” My eyes hover on her chest, a little bit of skin showing under her robe. I glance up, meeting her eye with a blush. “Just go to bed.”
I gently settle on the bed but don’t lay down quite yet. “I failed my maths test.”
She furrows her brow. “Ok? Do I look like I care?”
“What am I going to do? If my parents find out my grades are slipping, I’ll be under house arrest.”
“Just don’t let them find out.”
“My dad can sniff out anything less than an A.”
“Ok, so we’ll just get your grades up. Study more.” I flop onto the bed with a huff. She finally stands from the vanity, turning off the lights to crawl into bed. She lays on her back, her hair a halo around her. I spin a strand around a finger, gazing at her. “Are you going to come here or what?”
I nod, crawling under the covers close to her. “Heather, can I ask you something?” She hums in confirmation, trying to pull me closer. I hold up a hand. “And I want you to answer honestly. Not in the way I want to hear.”
“Sure, whatever.”
“Am I a good omega?”
“Yeah.”
“That was too fast of an answer. Think about it.”
She actually pulls me closer this time. “I don’t need to, because it’s true. Look, you care about everyone, even Heather, you protect us…” She brushes my nose with hers, her tone turning less serious. “You clean my paws, you block vomit for me, you even open up the carcasses for me when we hunt.” She smiles, rolling her eyes when I don’t smile back. “Seriously, I mean it.”
“I feel like I’m not good enough.”
She takes a long breath. “Is this going to be a consistent feeling?”
“Yeah, it’s kind of my only notable trait—my consistent insecurity.”
She settles more into the bed. “I promise, you are good enough, more than enough.”
I stare at her, her eyes heavy. “You can go to sleep.”
She rolls her eyes. “I can’t sleep when my sweet little omega is panicking in my arms.”
“I sense some sarcasm in there somewhere, and I’m not sure why.” I’ll just ignore the flutter in my chest at the words themselves.
“I’m serious. I can’t sleep with your scent.”
“Sorry.”
“Can you just…calm down?”
“No.”
“Jesus Christ…”
I turn over in her arms, my back pressed into her. “Oh, wait. Let’s switch.”
“What?” she mumbles.
“I’ll be the big spoon.”
Before I finish the sentence, she answers, “No.”
“I just slept. I can’t keep sleeping.”
“Then shut up and help me sleep.” I lay there for a while. “Oh my gosh, roll over.” I comply. She kisses me gently, her hand drifting from my shoulder down my back, finally grabbing my butt tightly. I squeal into her, confused by the gently kiss, then the rough butt grab. Getting a bit of courage, I push her shoulders back, shifting to straddle her. She pulls back. “No, you don’t get to be on top.” I capture her lips again. She tries to roll me over, but I use the momentum to be back on top. She grunts. “Get off.” I shake my head, drifting down her neck to suck on a spot on her collar bone. She clearly isn’t trying too hard, because she could overpower me with her pinky finger. “It’s like you’re trying to piss me off.” I refuse to let go of her skin in my mouth, teeth grazing a bit. “I swear, if you bite me…” I chuckle evilly, taking the tiniest, lightest bite I could, just to test her. “You’re really pushing my buttons.” I bite a miniscule amount harder. Her nails dig into my back. “Why do you test me?” Maybe a little harder is the key. Bingo. She flips me backwards, growling. I can’t tell if it’s angry or hungry. “I have no energy for this,” she grumbles as she bites my jaw. It appears to be a lie, her lips leaving a trail of red and purple marks down my body. “You are so irritating.” A bite on the soft skin below my ear. “How long until you can sleep?”
“I can do this all night,” I whisper, digging my heel into her butt to keep her close.
“Yeah, well, I can’t. Taking care of you is hard work, and I need sleep.”
She hovers over me, her eyes shining bright despite her tone. I rub her shoulders gently. “I’m sorry I’m a hassle.”
Her face softens, a soft kiss coming to my cheek. “I love that about you.”
“That’s the closest to an ‘I love you’ yet.”
She moves back to lay on the pillows. “Dream about me when you sleep now.”
I crawl after her, resting on her shoulder. “I always do.” She whispers something, so soft, so lacking in any distinctive letter sounds, I missed it. “What was that?”
She kisses the top of my head, trailing her nails around my back. “Nothing, Chérubin. Sleep now.” I hum, drifting asleep in her arms, indeed dreaming of her. I wake up a couple of times, a few nightmares jarring me awake, but nothing memorable, but it was a good sleep. It always is, this close to her.
In the morning, she lets me sleep while she takes forever to get ready. I’ll get ready when she drops me off at home. I don’t really sleep much. When she got out of the bathroom, I would rather watch her get ready. I blush harshly, however, when she walks out of the bathroom in her underwear.
“Feeling confident this morning, Pooka?” I note the marks I left on her, and I feel a little proud.
“Oui Chérubin.” She glances over her shoulder at me, her gorgeous hair tickling her lower back. “As I should be.”
“Your hair is gorgeous.”
“Thank you. I try.”
“How are you so pretty?”
“Since when did this turn into a pillow talk session?” She chooses a nice red dress, holding it up. “Thoughts?”
“Good.”
She rolls her eyes. “You’re no good.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” It comes out a bit more hurt than I had aimed, but comments like that sting.
“I need an opinion, and you don’t do fashion.”
I gape like a fish out of water, trying to think of something. “It’s a nice color that compliments your face. And it’s a nice length.”
She laughs lightly, squeezing the dress into place. “You don’t have to fake it.”
I huff, watching her check herself in the mirror. “I…well, I…ok.”
She gives me a confused look. “Fashion isn’t your thing. That’s fine.”
“It’s not fine.”
Makeup starts layering onto her skin, her motions perfected and exact. “Trust me, it’s fine.”
“When’s your birthday?”
“Why?”
“It’s something I should remember.”
“We missed it already.”
“Oh,” I say, disappointed. “Happy birthday.”
“Yeah, whatever.”
“How old are you, exactly?”
“I don’t like to talk about.”
“Why?”
“I’m young.”
“Uh huh. Me too.”
“I mean, I’m younger than the other girls.”
I laugh. “And?”
“And, I don’t like to remind them that I’m younger than them. They like to use their ages against me.”
“But you can tell me. I’m also young.”
“When’s your birthday?”
“November.”
“I mean, how old are you, dumbass.”
“I’m only fifteen. I won’t hit eighteen until college.” I shrug, “I started super early.”
“You are a baby. Now I feel bad.”
“Now you have to tell me.”
She leads out the bedroom, happy with her look, bright red lipstick and everything. “I never promised you that.”
“But, I’m younger than you. Right? You have to be sixteen to drive. Or are you seventeen?”
“I’m sixteen.”
“Great, now when’s your birthday?”
“No.”
“At least the month.”
She sighs, climbing into the car. “August.”
“I really just missed it?”
“Yes.”
“I’ll get you something.”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“I don’t like celebrating my birthday.”
“I’ll get you two gifts for Christmas then.”
She grabs my hand, and I happily allow it, grateful it’s not me always reaching for her. “No. But I can get you a birthday gift.”
“I don’t need a gift from you. I know it’s going to be super expensive, and then I’ll feel bad.”
“I promise it won’t cost a lot.”
“Ok, to me, that means less than $25.”
She laughs, pulling into my drive. “Should I go inside…or…?”
“Yeah. Help me pick an outfit and all that.”
She follows me inside, greeting my mother politely. We get into my room, and she immediately starts picking out clothes as I fix my hair. “How ambitious are you feeling?”
“I’m not wearing a dress.”
A huff, and then, “Skirt?”
“Just for you.”
A skirt flies my way, and after a few moments, a blouse. “You don’t have much by way of skirts.”
“Are you surprised?”
“No.” She settles on the bed, watching me.
“A little privacy?” She smiles, turning a little to the side. “What?”
“You say privacy like you’re British. It’s cute.”
When I finish changing, she looks me up and down. “Good?”
Shrugging, “Good enough. But let’s get your hair up.”
“I hate my hair up.”
“I’ll make it loose.”
“Fine.” I mainly agree because I want her fingers in my hair. She creates an intricate bun that distributes the weight throughout my scalp, causing minimal pain. “Now can we go?”
She nods, approving my look, and leading out the front door. In the car, I hold her hand again, kissing each knuckle. “So you’re feeling good enough to run tonight?”
“Absolutely.”
“Good. It’ll be good for you.”
“I appreciate you, Heather.”
“I appreciate you, Gemma.”
We pull into the parking lot, and she sighs. “Is there a reason we aren’t going inside?”
“I just need a second.”
“Are you—Did I get you sick?”
“No,” she laughs. “No. Just mental preparation.”
“The good thing is that we can face the world together.”
She smiles bitterly, eyes closed. “That doesn’t mean much in the face of Heather and Heather and Ronnie.”
“I’m some help.”
“Sure you are.” She pats my arm patronizingly.
“Wait a minute…” She cocks an eyebrow. “You’re in heat, right?”
“Not quite, but close.”
I gasp. “What’s going to happen when we walk in those doors?”
“Omegas galore.”
I huff. “Great.”
“It won’t be crazy, most have learned by now.” She peeks at me. “I’m just too irresistible.”
“Well, I have to defend what’s mine.”
She laughs. “I’m yours, huh?”
“As much as I am yours.”
She suddenly furrows her brow. “We did things backwards. And I regret it.”
“What?” I laugh slightly, unsure about what she means.
“We did all the naughty stuff first. We should have waited.”
“For what? The sappy stuff?”
“Yeah. I want sappy.”
“I thought you didn’t like sappy.”
“I don’t like cheesy. Sappy is ok.”
I grab her hand, kissing it gently. “I’m good at sappy, too.”
“I’m sure you are.”
“Are you ready?”
“No,” she admits, shocking me with her candid attitude.
“Can I help?”
“No.”
“Well, gee.”
“Let’s go, you nerd.”
“Why the sudden title?”
“Who says ‘gee’ anymore, aside from my grandma?”
I huff but smile as I follow her to the door. She’s holding in her scent pretty well, even though it makes me a little sad and empty. She goes to her own locker right away, allowing the others to mask her scent. I join her soon after, grabbing her hand immediately. Heather is nearly bouncing with excitement.
“What’s up with you?”
“Uh—Well—Uh—Nothing!” Heather leans into her ear, whispering something. She nods eagerly. “Lunch,” she whispers. “Yeah, I know! I will!”
I smell him before I see him, tensing. “Ouch,” Heather whispers, my nails digging into her hand. “What’s wrong with you?” She glances over my shoulder. “Shit. Just look at Heather?” I comply, connecting with the wide and scared blue eyes across from me, even if I want to turn around a face him.
“You got your mom to do your fighting for you? You’re a terrible alpha.”
She doesn’t bother facing him fully. “At least I have a pack.”
“Oh, good one.”
“What do you want?”
“I want to talk to Gemma.” He rests a hand on my shoulder, forcing me to cringe, and Veronica’s fist connects with his jaw, sending him sprawling. “What the fuck?”
“Keep your grubby hands off her,” she hisses, moving to tower over him.
I hear feet shuffling, and Heather grabs my shirt, tugging me forwards to her. “Just don’t turn around,” she whispers.
“Fuck off!” A growl. A dull thud, an “oof,” and another growl. “You’re a bitch, you—” I glance around just enough to see Veronica slashing her claws across his face as he rushes her, before Heather pulls my face back to hers. I close my eyes, listening to the fight behind me. He laughs suddenly, “Of course, the jocks!”
“Gentlemen break it up.” A large man approaches from the way I’m facing, looking like a stern coach or administrator. “Kelly, Sweeny, my office! And get to the nurse, whoever you are.” He walks away, two jocks following with their heads down.
“I’m going to scar!”
“Aw, you poor baby. Maybe you will finally learn to leave us alone,” Heather drawls, boredom in her voice. “Now fuck off.”
“Gemma, Gemma, look at me.”
I whimper slightly, moving to face him. I can’t hear him and ignore him. He’s in pain. Heather grabs my face, however, holding me in place. “No,” she whispers. “Keep your eyes on me.”
“He’s hurt.”
“He’s fine, trust me.”
“Gemma—”
“Move along, asshole, or I’m going to tear you a new hole.” A bit vulgar, but thanks Veronica.
Shuffling feet, receding scent, and he’s gone. “Good job, Heather. Better than Veronica could have done.”
“Hey.”
“Come here,” Heather whispers, pulling me into her chest. Taking a deep breath of my hair, “I can’t stand him.”
“Uhm, thanks,” I mumble into her, alright with the affection at the moment.
“Don’t thank me. Ronnie’s the one who cut up his face.”
“I’m sorry, I just hate when people touch you guys.”
“Relax. If you get in trouble, I’ll get you out.”
I lean up, pressing a kiss into her cheek. “I thought I was going to be the one brawling today.”
She kisses my forehead back. “The day’s only begun.”
“I’ll just get Veronica to beat them up for me.”
“You can call me ‘Ronnie,’ Honey.”
“I know, it’s just…it’s a nickname, and I haven’t known you long enough.” I refuse to let go of Heather, mainly because she’s messing with my hair lightly.
“Oh, come on. I’ve given you a nickname.”
“Well, yeah, but you’ve given everyone a nickname. So it’d be weird not to.”
“You can call me whatever you want.”
“Well, I can just call you the bean you are. I always call Heather a jelly bean.”
“Whatever.”
“That’s not a nickname,” Heather grumbles.
“Fine. Give me a nickname for everyone else then.”
“Just call her ‘Ronnie.’”
“Well, yeah, but what about you and Heather.”
“Think of something that fits us,” Heather offers excited.
“That helps a bunch.”
“What about Heather?”
I lean back, gazing up at her grey orbs. “Pooka.”
“What? Is that even English?”
“No. It’s Irish for spirit.”
“So give us something in a different language.”
I think for a while, staring at Heather still, but my mind racing through my French lessons. “Doux…Justes…Zélés…” I nod, resolute suddenly. I turn to each of them. “Doux,” pointing to McNamara. “Justes,” pointing to Duke. “And Zélés,” pointing to Veronica.
“But what does that mean?”
“Soft, Just, Zealous.”
“I like it.”
“It sounds better in French,” Duke mutters.
“Agreed.”
“There. Nicknames,” I pull away from Heather, but she keeps hold of my hand. “I won’t use them often, though.”
“Just when you want something,” Heather winks.
“I use it other times,” I whine slightly.
She rolls her eyes. “I can think of one time you used it without asking for something, and even then, it was because you were debating asking for something.”
I open my mouth to argue, but a shout comes from down the hallway. “Sawyer! My office!”
“Shit.”
“Just don’t say anything. I’ll deal with it.”
She huffs, heading towards the principal’s office. Heather watches her go, nervous. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah. She’ll be fine.”
“Hey Heather, looking for—”
“Fuck off.”
I watch the random jock run away with his tail between his legs, and I feel satisfied with her attitude. “I’m so glad you don’t talk to me like that.”
Her nails tickle the back of my neck. “I could, if you want.” It scares me a bit, and I shake my head, scared. “I was kidding.”
I lean in to whisper. “I know, but it scares me nonetheless. I can’t stand jokes like that.”
“You lack a sense of humor.”
“I lack your sense of humor.”
“That’s why I just kiss you to shut you up.”
“I’m a great conversationalist.” I nearly shout. “Heather! Heather!” I turn to the two, slightly absorbed in each other. “What should I get Heather for her birthday?”
“No, I said—”
“I think,” Heather interrupts, “you should make her something.”
“What?”
“Yeah, homemade gifts are so cute.”
“I’m not creative.”
“Says the girl that drew portraits of us,” Duke rolls her eyes. “Write her a poem or something.”
“I don’t want a gift.”
“You’re getting one anyway,” I say sternly.
“She doesn’t like being told she’s young,” Duke grins.
“Well, that doesn’t matter because I’m the youngest now.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m only fifteen right now.”
“What?”
“I started way too early.”
“And you offered to drive my Jeep?”
“I have a learner’s permit.”
The bell rings, and Heather kisses my head before shoving me towards class with Heather. On the way, we continue our argument. “You’re seriously that young?”
“Yeah.”
“You’re not going to graduate at eighteen.”
“No.”
“How are you so young?”
I nudge her gently. “Jealous?”
“No,” she scoffs.
“I hear jealousy in your voice.”
“The only person I’m jealous of is Heather, because she’s the oldest.”
“So I was right?”
“What?”
Calculus was pure torture. I didn’t understand what we went over before, and I’m losing ground quickly. I attempt to ask a question, but it goes unanswered, really. I want to smash my head against the wall, hoping Heather at least understands a bit of this to help me. It’s only the first month of class, and I’m already failing. I end up ignoring my other classes to work on maths, and my teachers don’t notice. I need to pass this class.
Lunch time, and my head is pounding. Greasy food will help. I take a tray and stack on all the greasy food I can, no matter how bad it is for me. I beat the group to the table, but I’m quickly confronted. Lucas sits down in McNamara’s spot, gauze on his face.
“Look what your pack did to me.”
I can feel his anger seeping off him, and it scares me. “I—I’m sorry. I—”
“I really hate those girls.”
My eyes drift past him, looking for help. “I know but—”
“They don’t treat you right.” My eyes settle on his, and I calm a little. “They aren’t good for you.” He reaches out and grabs my hand. “You should leave them.”
My heart is racing in an incomprehensible rate, and I nod slowly. “You’re right,” I whisper.
He smiles, reassuring, nodding. “I am. You can be with me.” I hear heels and a sigh, but neither of us look. “Why don’t you tell Heather how you really feel?” I stutter for a while, not forming a sentence. “That you want to leave.”
I nod, his eyes enveloping me. “I…I want to leave?”
He squeezes my hand. “That you want to be with me.”
“I want to be with you.”
“That—” A fist flies out, connecting with his face. I blink, the lunch room coming back to me, and the fact that Heather is trying to get my attention. “God damnit!”
“You’re like a cockroach.”
Lucas stands, holding his jaw. “That’s right. And I’m not giving up until she’s mine.” Heather and Lucas stare intently at each other, some nonverbal conversation going on. “You heard the girl. She wants to leave you.”
“No, I don’t,” I say, utterly and completely confused.
Heather gestures to me. “You’re mind games aren’t working.”
He laughs. “You don’t even know how to handle this. You’re powerless.”
I can feel the anger spreading through the room, Heather clearly broadcasting her emotions. I shake, gripping Heather tightly, her standing next to me. “Says the boy without a pack.”
“Says the girl who can’t stop her omega from leaving.”
“Hey, kid, what did I say?” the large man returns. “Leave them alone.” With one last glare, Lucas leaves the lunch room.
The pack sits down, my headache worsening. Heather’s hand is quick to dig her nails into my leg. I hiss, trying to gently pry it off. “One day,” I whisper. “I just want one day…”
“H—H—Hey,” some guy walks up.
“What do—” there’s a thud, and she turns to Heather McNamara. “Ouch, Heather!”
I turn to look at the guy, a scrawny delta holding a giant piece of paper. “I—uh—” He’s so flushed and nearly shaking with nerves. He clears his throat, glancing at Heather McNamara.
“Guys, this is Philip. Philip, you know the girls, and this is Gemma.”
Philip could probably wee himself based on his scent. “H—Hello.” I smile gently, hoping he would spit whatever it is out.
After a few seconds of him nervously shifting his eyes around, Heather continues. “He’s the kicker for the football team.”
“Right. And I know homecoming is in a couple weeks.” He gulps. He starts to open the giant paper, a poster he’s made. I open my mouth in shock, seeing the words on them. “Ge—Ge—Gemma.” He clears his throat again. “I sit behind you chem,” he starts reading the words, hardly able to look me in the eye. “I think you’re a gem. I hope you think the same and support me at the game. Take a chance and be my date to the dance?” If he wasn’t so nervous, I would laugh at his poem because it’s ridiculous. He finally holds my eyes for longer than a second, waiting for my response.
“Uh…” I blink. I’ve never been asked to anything like this. Not only that, but what about Heather? “Thanks, for asking.” I need to think, so I just say something to fill the silence. In my head, I can hear someone tell me to say yes, but I can’t think straight enough to know who it is.
Heather whispers in my ear, “Go ahead, say yes.” Her tone isn’t threatening, like she actually wants me to say yes.
I’ll just ignore that I’ve never spoken to this kid. “Yes,” I nod and shrug, still unsure of the situation.
A huge weight comes off his chest with a sigh. “Great! I’ll get you my jersey and jacket.” He smiles once more, walking away, greeted by a friend with a pat on the back.
I turn to the group, still in shock. “Ok,” I say.
Heather claps jovially. “I’m so happy!”
Heather, leaning on her hand, goes from watching me to looking at Heather. “You’re turn.”
Heather bites her lip, turning to look at the table of jocks. “I’m nervous.”
“It was a deal.”
She takes a shaky breath. “Ok,” she stands. “I can do this.”
“Where is she going?” Duke asks as she walks towards the jocks. “What is she doing?”
“She’s asking her crush to homecoming.”
“What crush? She doesn’t have a crush.”
“If you cared to listen to her when she speaks, she does. Travis.”
“Travis? She likes Travis?”
“Yes.”
“Since when?”
“Since junior high. Jesus, Heather, do you ever listen to her?”
“Even I knew she liked Travis,” Veronica adds through a mouthful of food.
Heather turns and watches Heather talk to a guy on the football team. She giggles and leans on his shoulder, clearly flirting. She has every eye on her, as she should. She eventually returns, confident and happy. “He said yes!” she squeals.
“Congrats,” Heather purrs, smiling at Duke’s face. “You’ll look good in his jersey. Ronnie, you better get a jersey.”
“What? Why?”
“The rest of us will, and I don’t want you standing out.”
“Whose jersey are you guys going to wear?”
“Who do you think? Kurt and Ram.”
“I get Kurt’s.”
“No, you don’t Heather. You get Ram’s. Better act quick, Ronnie. Who knows who will be still available.”
Veronica huffs, looking around. “Which ones don’t have girlfriends?” Heather starts pointing guys out, making suggestions. “Which ones could I stand?” Heather shortens her list. “Can I just walk up and demand it?”
“Absolutely.”
She stands, marching over towards the jock table. She pokes one on the shoulder, who immediately grins. She speaks to him, looking bored. He nods eagerly. She walks back to the table, sitting down a huff. “I’m not happy.”
“Too bad.” Heather scrolls through her phone, bored, her hand running up and down my leg. She didn’t eat her pizza, so I take it and eat it. She takes my deserted carrots.
“How can you eat that junk and still look like that?”
I shrug at Heather Duke, knowing I would get a comment. Heather answers for me. “Sex burns a lot of calories.”
I choke on my bite of pizza. “Heather,” I whine. I blush harshly, hiding my face.
“That makes no sense, Heather. I have sex all the time, and she’s skinnier than me.”
“Let’s change the subject, please,” I whisper, still hiding my face.
A group of omegas approach, and I don’t mean to, but a growl escapes from deep within my chest. Before they say anything, they run. “A bit over protective?”
“Sorry,” I mutter.
“No,” Heather whispers in my ear. “It’s sexy.” I blush even harder, and she chuckles.
“Can we study maths before running tonight?” I ask Heather, mainly to change topics.
“Why?”
“I failed the last quiz.”
“What? And you think I didn’t?”
“Did you understand any of it?”
She laughs. “No!”
“Shit.”
“I bet you’re still passing.”
“Passing isn’t good enough. I need an A.”
“Just cry to the teacher.”
“Funny.”
“I’m serious. That’s what I’ll do.”
English saw more maths practice, and when the teacher tried to catch me not paying attention, I recovered easily by answering the question better than anyone who might have actually been paying attention. After school, I ask Heather to wait a few minutes and ask the maths teacher for help. I get my questions answered at least, and understand a little better, but I’m behind now.
“Good?” Heather greets me, leaning against her car.
I huff some air. “No. But with you looking like that, things are already getting better.”
She rolls her eyes, opening the door for me. “Is that your best shot at talking dirty?”
“Right now.”
“You suck at it.” She smiles anyway, climbing into the car. “Leave that to me.”
“I have an important question for you. Is there any way I will ever get to be in control during…you know?”
“Chérubin, if you can’t say the word, you don’t deserve to be in control. And of course not. There’s a reason you are an omega.”
“But wouldn’t it be fun—”
“Absolutely, positively, one hundred percent no.”
“Please?”
“No.”
I lean across the console as she drives, my hand drifting up her leg. “What if I beg?”
She laughs. “That defeats the purpose of being in control.”
“Uhm.” I chew my lip and drag my hand around as I think. “You like it when I pamper you.”
“Being pampered doesn’t mean I give up control.” She gives me a sideways glance, then eyeing my hand on her leg. “Would you even know what to do if I let you do everything?”
“We can try and see?”
She narrows her eyes, thinking. Honestly, I’m surprised she’s even considering it now. “We’ll see.”
“How do you want me to pamper you?”
She hums, thinking. “Be careful, I might get some high expectations after this.”
“I prefer when you set the bar low, and I can exceed the expectations.” I lean in, licking the length of her ear. Before she can react, I giggle. “Damnit,” I sit back with a huff.
“See,” she laughs. “You can’t even keep a straight face. How would you if we were getting down and dirty?”
I laugh harder. “Who calls it that?”
“You blush when I say anything else!”
“I prefer hanky-panky.”
She offers a long, loud belly laugh, and I can’t help but join. We laugh ourselves to tears by the time we pull into her driveway. I drag her over for a quick kiss, then climb out of the car. She doesn’t get out right away, so I open the door for her.
“Mademoiselle,” I sing, offering a hand.

Chapter Text

“Merci.” She takes my hand, tugging me along behind her. We find the other girls in the bedroom, Veronica on the phone. “What’s she on about?”
“A certain someone is angry she’s going to homecoming with another guy,” McNamara calls from the bed, braiding Heather’s hair.
“He’s being a real dick.”
Heather walks up to her, takes the phone out of her hands, and says, “J.D.? Yeah, you need to calm down and let Veronica do this. You’re being an asshole, and the poor girl just wants to go to the dance.” She hands the phone back to Veronica, giving her a look.
I settle next to Heather on the bed, pulling out my homework. “No,” she groans.
“Come on, I asked for help.”
“Fine,” she mumbles, pulling out her things, McNamara not phased. We attempt to study for a while, and Heather shifts behind me, starting to mess with my hair. I try to wave her away like a fly, but she slaps my hands and keeps working. Veronica can’t seem to get off the phone, and I can hear some shouting over the phone even from across the room.
“Just hang up on him,” Heather mumbles, sashaying towards her. She’s changed into more relaxed clothes. “He’s not going to listen.”
I suddenly really want to wear her hoodie, if she had one. “I’m not going to hang up on him,” she whispers.
“Fine. I will.” She grabs the phone and immediately hangs up.
“Heather!”
Heather tosses me the phone. “Keep it away from her.”
I squeak, Veronica rushing to get her phone back. “Hey! Give it back!” I laugh, jumping over the bed, wondering what will happen if she catches me. “I’m serious!” My laughs dissolve further into giggles, and I’m losing my breath. She’s working me back into a corner, and I will definitely lose if she gets a hold of me. “Give me my phone back,” she shouts, laughing slightly. It rings, and I hang it up. “Stop it!” I dive over the bed, her hand narrowly missing my ankle.
“Give it up, Ronnie. She’s faster than you.”
“But not stronger.” I have to dive back over the bed again, hitting the floor with a thud.
“You’d have to catch her first.”
“She has to get tired eventually.”
“I bet you give up first.”
I have to agree. I’m running her in circles, even with little breath. I can go for way longer. She’s going to outsmart me, really corner me, and get her hands on me. She’s huffing, and I’m glad to hear it. “We’ll see,” she grunts, jumping over the leg Duke tried to throw out. “Please, Gemma. Give it back.”
“Gemma, don’t you dare.”
She’s finally getting the idea that she has to outsmart me. She starts making different patterns, forcing me towards the back-left corner of the room, where there’s less furniture, no doors, and I have to hop the bed to leave the corner, effectively wearing me out faster. I can’t stay in the corner, so I have to hop the bed. “Gemma, one last chance. Give me the phone.” I laugh, knowing she’s got me. “Fine.” I run her a few more minutes, before she sees her moment. This time, her hand clamps strong around my ankle, and no matter how hard I kick, she holds true. I laugh all the while, trying to claw away from her. “Give it to me!”
“No!” I squeal, giggling. She starts dragging me harder towards her. No one is helping, finding amusement in it. “Zélés, S' il vous plaît!”
“I gave you a chance,” she grunts, trying to get my arms out from me.
I squeeze the phone to my chest, hanging up once again. I can’t stop laughing, enjoying that she can’t get her phone.
“I’m actually getting angry now.” Her scent says only mild irritation. “I swear,” she mutters. She’s getting closer, her strength finally showing. She gets me on my back, the phone for a split second up for grabs. I keep it close, trapping it under my arms again. “Give me my phone!” I’m laughing so hard, and she’s so strong, I can’t keep hold of it. I flip back over, debating throwing it in my shirt. “Come on!” She starts laughing, out of amusement or frustration I can’t tell. “Please!” I still, her not pulling on me anymore, just hovering, her weight placed from her hips onto my back as she straddles me, forcing me immobile. I can hear her breathing, but I can’t see her face. Her scent shifts, sweetening. “Hey,” she says softly, a gentle hand coming to stroke my cheek. I jump but allow it.
“Ronnie,” Heather warns.
Her scent sweetens even more, calming me incredibly. “Be a good girl and give me my phone.” I bury my face, groaning slightly. I want to, so bad, I want to get praised. But Heather told me not to, and I don’t want to fail her.
“Ronnie. Be careful.”
“Come on,” she whispers. “Give it here.”
“Don’t.”
I’m confused. I don’t know who to listen to, or who I want to listen to. Her hands, her scent, her voice, they’re so soft, so warm, so caring. But Heather is in charge, and she said not to give it to her. I might start whining here soon.
“Please,” she whispers, getting closer to me, and I’m getting hooked on her scent very quickly. “Please give me my phone.” I’m itching to do it, but my arms are pinned under me. Her hand digs deep into my hair, and I fully groan, unable to hold it in. “Be a good omega.” The final straw. With a pleased hum, I shift and slide the phone out. “Good girl,” she praises, kissing my temple.
She climbs off, racing to get away before anyone takes it away from her again. I close my eyes and try to contain the whine that slips out slightly at her disappearance. Curling into myself, I let the feeling of abandonment envelope me. “Ronnie,” Heather hisses. “You can’t just do that to her and then leave.”
I feel McNamara’s hands on me, but I crawl out from them and into Duke’s arms. She pushes back on me, not wanting the contact, but I need her. “Please,” I whisper in her ear. She sighs, wrapping her arms around me and pushing out her scent. It helps, at least a little, and I don’t feel so bad.
“Veronica,” Heather’s still angry. “I’m serious. You’re abusing that.”
“Heath—”
“No! Look at her! Go comfort her.” Veronica doesn’t move. “Now!” she shouts.
“I’m sorry, Honey,” she whispers, pulling me onto her lap. “I’m sorry.”
I mutter that it’s ok, but that just makes Heather angrier. “Don’t say that! It’s not ok!”
“Heather, I think we just need to calm down,” McNamara stands, trying to soothe Heather’s anger.
“That is exactly what we are not supposed to do! The poor girl. Veronica, I’m disappointed.”
“Come on, Heather.”
“No!”
“I said I was sorry!”
“Sorry isn’t good enough.”
I whimper softly into the crook of Veronica’s neck. “Can you just calm down for a second? Your scent is hurting me.” After a few moments of silence, the scents settle into a calmer, more comfortable mix. “Thank you.” I feel like falling asleep in her arms, but I’m not supported enough to.
“Let’s go run.” I yawn, being lifted off her lap. “Go change,” Heather whispers in my ear, anger still prevalent. She pats my butt as I trudge off to the bathroom, and I wag a finger at her. I come back out, the air uncomfortable and awkward. I hate it. Heather roughly grabs my hand, dragging me out the room.
In the Jeep, the air followed. I lay against Heather in the backseat, hugging her side as I rest my eyes. She plays with a strand of hair absentmindedly, her scent soft and warm in my nose. Things like that make me exhausted. I needed her scent, and she deprived me of it. I feel horrible now. I feel like crying and clinging to myself.
When we get to the field, we shift, and I don’t play with Heather like usual. I have no energy, no need for fun. I just want to lay down and sleep. She bounces around me, nipping at me. I can’t help but sulk over to my own little spot, dropping my head and closing my eyes. She whines softly above me, confused. She won’t leave me alone, so I growl slightly, shifting away from her.
There’s aggressive barking, and I know Heather is ripping into Veronica. Honestly, I don’t care. I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be around them. I just want to go home. But this is my commitment for the night, I can’t just leave. I mean, I could, but I would get in trouble.
I hear a few wolves leaving, and then Heather lays down with me, resting her head on me. Her scent washes over me, but it offers very little comfort. Licking me, she tries to make me feel better, but I’m not getting any benefit out of it. The scent grows, and I know what she’s doing. She’s getting me hooked on her instead. I can’t help but hear Veronica’s words in my mind, and I can’t accept what she’s doing.
I suddenly hear her speaking in my head. It’s a weird feeling, something I hate, but the words are nice, soft, soothing. Words of praise, words of comfort. It doesn’t take long, with my alpha telling me I’m a good omega, I’m a good girl, I’m perfect…I accept it, finally, her scent and words far more important than Veronica’s. When I feel the effects take hold, I lick her happily, standing up. She gives me a look, but I bark jovially, licking her in thanks. That’s what I needed.
The others return, carry small dead animals. When Heather sees me up and moving again, she drops hers and runs towards me, eager to play. We roll around together, and with my newfound energy, I don’t hold back. She tires, and I go for Veronica next. She looks between me and Heather, unsure, but I pounce on her anyway. She doesn’t try very hard until I bite lightly at her.
Knowing that Heather likes some things I do for her, I eagerly open the carcasses for her when it’s time, and then lick her paws after. The others rest, so I sniff around, checking the area. Satisfied, I run around, burning off some energy to sleep. Heather is still angry, and I’m worried about how she’s going to be as a human and having stewed on it for a while. I finally lay down, Heather watching me intently. Licking her snout, I whimper softly into her, not liking her mood. She simply drags me over with a bite of fur, her throat rumbling, but I can’t tell if it’s a growl or a groan.
When morning comes, the high that Heather gave me with her scent and praise disappears, and I feel pretty neutral again. I trail Heather to the car, changing and climbing into the backseat. Before Veronica can climb in next to me, Heather pulls her out, speaking to her behind the car. We give them privacy, not watching. Several minutes pass before they climb in, Veronica hanging her head after being properly scolded.
School is no different. There’s a stony silence amongst the girls, and I hover longer at my locker to avoid it. I smell the approach of a few highers, tensing. They corner Betty, of course, and a spike of anger flies through me. Before they get very far in their harassment, I pull her away and take their attention, drawing from the depths of my soul to act like Heather.
“Boys, I understand you’re horny, but—” I yelp, shoved aside to resume their assault on Betty. I grunt, determined. “Back off, dick-holes, or I’ll shove my foot up your asses.”
One of them laughs. “Please, we don’t care about you. Move.”
“Yeah, Heather would kill us.”
“Then she’ll kill you,” I hiss, gripping one’s dick and twisting harshly. “Back off.”
“That’s—” I cut him off, grabbing his too.
I give another rough twist, bringing them both to their knees. “I can make you pee blood for a week.”
“Fine!” they whine, trying to pry my hands off. “We’ll go.”
I release them, watching them run off with their tails between their legs. I turn to Betty, smiling apologetically. “Sorry.”
She shakes her head, giving me an unwanted hug. “Thank you!” She pulls back, gasping, paling, and staring towards where I know the others are watching.
I shake my head, dragging her attention to me instead. I lean in, whispering with a smile to ease her worry. “I’ll deal with them in a minute.”
“She’ll be upset.”
I shrug, refusing to look their way. “I’m sorry I missed the movie. I was…preoccupied.”
“I figured. That’s ok. We didn’t watch for long. Martha was feeling kind of sick, and I ended up comforting her.”
“That’s nice of you.”
She shrugs, her voice soft and innocent. “That’s what friends are for.”
I let the guilt wash over me, gazing at her with apologetic eyes. “Betty, I’m real sorry—”
She shakes her head. “It doesn’t matter. You better go before she sends Veronica over here to drag you away. She looks pretty upset.” I take a shaky breath. “Thanks again.” She shoos me away, towards the pack.
If you could kill someone with one look, this would be it. All four of them, even McNamara, glaring at the pair of us. When Betty is out of sight, all the anger from the past twenty-four hours is onto me. I did the one thing Heather’s been working so hard to stop me from doing. I’m walking to my doom, and I know it. I may as well say my final words and prepare.
But the thing is, there is one thing worse than them murdering me, spilling my blood onto these white tiles. I can see it, forming on her face, and I know the words are going to spill out of her mouth and break my heart it two. I have a brief moment of courage, thinking I could run away into the bathroom, hiding from the world, until they cool down. It’s possible but hiding would probably make it worse. I just pray that the words don’t hurt that bad, that she only says it once and done, short. A simple, “I’m disappointed” would be great, no anger or anything more in her tone.
I take it back. There is one more thing still worse than being reprimanded. As I walk up, the cold silence overtakes me. The anticipation of what is to come is killing me more than any criticism could. It’s like being ignored after submitting. I need attention. If they ignore me too much, it’ll drive me either to insanity or depression. I’m not sure if they know, but after so long already of not being paid attention to, I’m already on edge.
Honestly, I’m feeling like they deserve this. I’ve been nothing but obedient lately, doing what they say, supporting them, even forgiving Heather for her invasion of privacy, and how do they repay me? By invading my thoughts, my personal conversations, my memories, by abusing my need for them and forcing me to face things I don’t want to deal with. They absolutely deserve this. If they aren’t going to respect me, my needs, my wants, then why I should I respect theirs? I shouldn’t have to do this if I’m getting nothing in return, even a little. I set my jaw, determined now to not feel bad. I should just walk away. I should just go to Betty, talk to her. At least someone appreciates me.
Heather’s hand clamps hard around my throat, nails already poking out, her grip tight enough to restrict air. Her nostrils flare from anger, every bit of her on fire. Her scent, though not strong, could make me sick. It reeks of every emotion I never want my alpha to feel—disappointment, anger, hurt, distrust. She shoves me back against the lockers, pressing against me. I let my inner wolf snap away, angry, not caring if I get hurt doing this. She can rip me apart if she wants. I’m losing respect for them. After everything they’ve done, and not even a thanks for half the things I do.
She’s nearly growling, barely containing herself. Her mind is working, no doubt trying to decide what the best course of action is here. She’s no doubt heard every thought that crossed my mind since I started walking over here. Her mother probably told her many, many things that she could do to help with situations like this, and I certainly gave her ideas on my walk over. Without a word, but with a final squeeze and shove, she backs off. She glares at me, before turning to the others. Scents are retracted, and none of them look my way.
I hit my head against the locker behind me, cursing myself for having had the thought in the first place. I know, from my experience with females, that this will result in the silent treatment for an indistinguishable amount of time. I hate silence anyway, but now knowing it’s from the people closest to me makes it the worst I’ve ever experienced. I don’t bother trying to interact with them, knowing full well Heather will kill them if they don’t do what she wants.
I don’t feel them in my mind all morning, and I hate to admit it, but I’m grateful they left. I can’t remember the last time they left me alone. I can focus better when in class. At lunch, I make my way to the table. I debate sitting somewhere else. If they aren’t going to talk to me, I could go find people who will. I feel the tiniest tickle of cherries and roses in my nose, a taste of what she’s been depriving me. I can’t help but sit down. I don’t feel like eating much, so I shove my tray forward. My teeth hurt, my jaw clenched too hard all day. I was grateful for their absence, but now I miss it. I need someone providing background noise, so my own hateful, angry, dark thoughts don’t take over my mind. Resting my head down, I attempt to ignore the pain this is causing me. It’s only been half the day, and I can’t stand this. I refuse to break down, not yet. I sing to myself, trying to occupy my mind. I’m getting absolutely nothing. No looks, no touches, no scents, no thoughts. It’s like I’m not there. And it hurts, horribly, emotionally and physically.
I leave before the bell rings, tired of the silence. I get in class before Heather, hardly noticing when she walks in due to her lack of scent. I feel her eyes on me every once in a while, and when I glance back, she’s looking back down again at her desk. My heart is slowly being ripped to pieces, the number one person I need attention and care from blatantly ignoring me. I know she’s punishing me, but I’m having a hard time accepting it. And I will absolutely refuse to submit. I don’t deserve that. More importantly, she doesn’t deserve it.
After school, I work slowly at my locker, to see if they wait for me. My hopes are too high, as they don’t. I see her Porsche sitting in the lot, but her nowhere to be seen. I start walking, reading as I go. Whatever. If I’m going to be ignored, I would rather be alone. The Porsche zooms past, turns a corner, and after a few seconds, backs up. A honk, no more. Just to be a bitch, I look pointedly at the car, raise an eyebrow, then turn and keep walking. A longer honk. I get in, even though I want to drag it on.
Inside the car, her scent is only found in the car itself, not from her. We don’t even look at each other, but I know she’s still angry. I don’t question it when she drives away from my house, but I don’t move to get out of the car at her house. The last time I walked into her house after something like this, her mother cornered me, and I had an emotional breakdown. She gets out, not even bothering to wait for me, but leaves the front door open regardless.
In time, I get out, following. I glance down the street. I have a clear shot, free to run. I could. But I would just face the problem at a later time. Not only that, but my body and mind hurt; I need comfort. Walking in the front door, I force myself to close the door despite my urge to run away at Mrs. Chandler’s scent. I follow it, knowing full well she’ll be there with the pack. Crossing my arms and dropping my gaze in submission, already.
A small groan fills the living room at my entrance. “I love being right.” I shudder at Mrs. Chandler’s voice. Her scent, even though I hate it, is better than nothing.
“Mother.” I gasp loudly, eyes closing, wolf howling, body swelling, at her voice. I hate my reaction, but I cannot deny I missed her.
“I told you what would happen, and yet, you didn’t listen. How can you be surprised, honestly?” Heather sighs. “Come here, darling.” She holds out a hand, and I can’t reject it. At least someone will pay attention to me. She smiles her approval, guiding me to sit next to her on the short couch. She rubs the tips of her fingers along my hairline down my jaw to my chin. I sigh softly, eye lids following her fingers’ descent to a close. “Heather, there is a danger to things like this.”
“Mother, I know what you’re thinking, and I’m asking you. Don’t.”
“Why not?” She hums, fingers gently stroking my face, her scent the only thing I can focus on. “She’s such a young and eager omega…” Her voice is but a whisper. “All she wants is praise.”
“Mother, I’m already having to deal with her loyalty issues. If you—”
“Heather, dear. I gave you suggestions, but you are not using them correctly.”
“I tried to do what—”
“If a certain someone had gotten a hold of her, who knows what could have happened.” She pulls me closer to her, pressing me down until I’m laying in her lap, my head support by her thighs. Her hand runs through my hair easily, her scent my lifeline. “Such a good omega,” she coos, and I whimper softly involuntarily. “Heather, you can’t just outright ignore your omega, and especially not this one. There’s an art to it.”
“Well, you didn’t explain that very well to me.”
“Watch your tone.” She sighs deeply. “My, my, my. Someone really is pushing for affection.” I keep my face calm, but I can hardly control my scent at the moment. A very strong, powerful alpha is offering praise and love when my own wouldn’t. I naturally feel the need to latch onto her. “Her scent is very…intoxicating.” The last word is a possessive growl, and I shudder under it. Her grip tightens in my hair. When I open my eyes, she has the same predatory look that her daughter usually holds, her teeth poking out slightly. She groans, staring down at me like her new prey, a piece of meat to be cut up and devoured.
“Mother, that is my omega.”
She sighs deeply again, dragging her gaze up to glare at Heather. “Is she? Really?”
“Yes,” she answers, slightly shaky.
“You sure don’t act like it.” Her eyes drop again to me, and I preen a little at the attention. “I was wrong, Heather.”
“You don’t say that often.”
“She clearly needs someone more dominant in her life.”
“Mother, stop.”
Her hand drifts down to cup my throat, a squeeze away from strangulation. “I have half a mind to teach you a valuable lesson here, daughter.” The final word comes out almost drenched in disappointment. She squeezes ever-so-slightly, her claw threatening to puncture. “Since you choose to treat your omega so horribly, maybe I should show you how a true alpha would handle her.” I know I should scream and run, but I can’t bring myself to.
“I get it, Mother. I need to—”
“I don’t think you do. I think I’ve failed to teach you how to be a good alpha, Heather.”
“What do you want me to say?”
Her grip tightens, forcing a small whine out of me. Her scent is shifting closer and closer towards an angry, suffocating level. “I want you to prove to me you deserve,” her hand grip remains but her free hand strokes my face gently, slightly confusing me, “such a willing and eager omega. Lord knows I’ve looked for one.”
“How am I supposed to—”
“If you have to ask, you clearly don’t understand what must be done.”
“Mother,” she whispers. “Don’t hurt her.”
Mrs. Chandler cracks a small smirk. “I could be persuaded.”
“I’m not going to beg,” she hisses back.
“Pity.” Her grip tightens again, forcing me to choke a little to get air. “I love to hear the sweet begging of an omega when they want something.” She leans down, pressing a kiss on my forehead, teeth grazing my skin slightly. She hums lightly. “Of course, there’s always submission.” If I could squeeze a whine out, I would, easily. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have an alpha like her accepting my submission with a large, meaty bite.
“She doesn’t need to submit to you.”
“I think she would enjoy it. You would, wouldn’t you?” I nod silently, surviving on the little air she’s allowing in.
“Let her go,” Heather commands, voice deep but shaky.
Mrs. Chandler leans back up, glaring at her daughter. “Are you trying to use your voice on me?”
“How else am I going to get you to listen to me?”
“Go on then, little alpha. Try it.”
“Let my omega go.”
Laughter. “You’re going to have to try harder than that to influence me.” There’s silence for a while, my eyes drifting closed. “Beg, like the worthless, weak omega you are, or show me how strong of an alpha you can truly be.”
It’s a shout, the scent hitting me like a wall of anger, her voice deeper in alpha range than I’ve previously heard. “Take your hands off my omega.” Side note, but it bothers me that I don’t have a name in this conversation. I’ve just been Heather’s omega. Anyway, back to the conversation at hand, I violently shake, feeling like passing out.
“No.” A snort. “Even with a pack member on the line, you’re weak.”
There’s a loud, aggressive growl. “I’m not weak!”
“Prove it.”
The growl returns, worse. “Let her go!”
To Heather’s credit, it causes the hand on my throat to shake and loosen, slightly, most likely not visible to the girls watching. An angry sigh, followed by, “Better.”
“How many times do I have to say it?”
I know my own scent has been shifting softly outwards, not meant to do much of anything. But when I open my eyes again, it must have done something for her cause. Mrs. Chandler looks calmer than before, not so much hunger in her eyes as curiosity now. “Let’s ask the omega, shall we? Do you think Heather’s done well enough?” I whimper in confusion, unsure why she’s asking. I also don’t want to make her angry at me. “Be honest, dear.” I nod, hoping I don’t get any backlash from this. Mrs. Chandler stares at me for a while, eyes stuck on mine. Looking up, she smiles, albeit a bit evil. “You hear that? Poor thing thinks you can’t do any better.” The growl grows, anger become the primary mood in the room. “Careful, child. You don’t want to shift against me.”
“One last time. Get your hands off her.”
It must have been enough. After a few seconds, the hand is removed from the vice grip on my throat, sweet air nourishing me once again. I gasp lightly, but my breathing returns to normal easily enough. She gazes at her daughter, and I think I see a bit of admiration in her eyes. “Very well done.”
“What the Hell is wrong with you?” she hisses. None of the girls move, even though they could.
A hand plays with my hair lightly as I drift closer to sleep, my eyes closing due to heaviness. “I’m teaching you—”
“How dare you threaten her.”
I feel a slight lengthening of her claws in my hair. “Heather, you need to watch yourself. You are still a lower in this house.”
“That is my omega. She is mine. You have no right, my superior or not, to put your hands on her.”
“Interesting. This little tirade of yours doesn’t seem to apply to people at school.”
“Yes, it does,” Heather’s voice is slowly returning to normal.
“Heather, how can you stand up to me, but not people at school who are less intimidating than me?”
“I can’t risk getting this angry at school.”
“That is not the reason, we both know it. You’re afraid.”
“I am not.” Her voice isn’t very strong.
There’s a sigh, most of the anger leaving the room. “Have a seat, girls.”
“No. We’re leaving.”
Mrs. Chandler laughs briefly. “Fine. But it appears the omega will remain here, for a while.” After a few moments, there’s shifting, and the sound of people sitting. “If she really had the thoughts you described, I have to ask you something. There is no way she’s turned this disobedient off the misuse of one connection. What else happened?” There’s a cold silence. “I can just ask her, if you’d like.”
“There was a slight mishap with Heather’s gift, that’s all.”
“That can’t be all it is, not for a reaction like this.”
“She was very upset when she found out. It happened against her will, and we didn’t know how to tell her right away.”
“Anything else?”
“Ronnie…slipped up on a connection.”
“You have a keen ability to screw everything up, Heather.”
I clear my throat, tugging Mrs. Chandler’s free hand down to hold it over my stomach, my hand tiny compared to hers, wrapped inside of it. “She didn’t screw anything up,” I mumble, not even able to open my eyes.
Mrs. Chandler’s hand in my hair stalls to rub the back of a finger across my cheek. “Ah, but she did. She’s gone about this entire situation all wrong, since the beginning. She moved too fast, and now she can’t keep control of you.”
I groan, attempting to open my eyes. “No,” I argue. “I’ve screwed things up. She’s done nothing wrong.”
“Heather, what is your secret? How did you convince her to be so devoted, despite what you’ve done?” The hand in my hair resumes its path, her hand squeezing mine.
“Mother, we both know two major factors in it.”
“But there has to be something else.” She hums for a while, thinking. “I would quite like an omega like this. There would be a great deal of entertainment around breaking her spirit. Taking the sweet little heart and crushing it in your palm.” There’s another hungry groan. “I would gratefully do it for you, if you would like the help, Heather.”
“You look like you want to eat her alive.”
“She is delectable. I could do so many things…” Her hand tilts my chin up. “Let’s start with a mark.”
“No! You will not mark her.”
I can feel each quick, warm breath on my neck, her hair falling in my face. “I just need a small taste…”
“You have no right.”
An angry groan escapes her lips as her teeth graze the base of my neck. “I have every right as an alpha to take omegas as I see fit.”
“But—”
“Perhaps I shouldn’t mark her.” She lifts up, forcing my eyes to hers. “Whine for me, sweetheart.”
“No!” Heather screams. “Do not submit to her.”
I’m so confused. I’m hooked on Mrs. Chandler, hard, and I feel like submitting to her. But my alpha, the number one person I’m supposed to listen to, is telling me not to. My lip quivers as I debate what to do. “Be a good omega. Submit for me.” The beginnings of a whine bubbling in my throat. “That’s it, let it out.” I have one more fleeting thought of who to listen to, before my eyes squeeze shut in shame. The whine starts out small and quiet, but it quickly builds in volume and octaves, reaching the pitch and volume needed for a submission, and then some. “Excellent,” she growls, trailing her sharp nails over my neck. The whine dies out to a whimper, my neck open for a bite, and I hug myself.
Time passes, and she doesn’t move. “Mother, I understand when you deny me, but don’t deny her. She can’t take it.”
Mrs. Chandler sighs. “That whine is gorgeous. I could hear it again.” She hoists me up, my body near limp, so she can keep me level with her. “Heather, I don’t understand why you refuse to use it.” Her hands keep me stationary as her face nuzzles into my neck. She whispers gently in my ear, “Whine for me again.” Goosebumps race over my skin as I whine, not a submission whine, but close. She licks her lips with a hungry groan. Her teeth land on my skin, but only in a small and almost painless bite. It’s soft, nearly caring in nature. “Such a good omega.”
It’s my turn to groan softly, craving more of her praise, even another bite. “Thank you,” I whisper, for the praise, for the scent, for the acceptance. I can’t stop the pride from swelling in my chest and the small amount of love for Mrs. Chandler following close after.
“You’re certainly welcome,” she hums, patting my back gently.
“Come on,” Heather commands, quite but firm.
I gaze up at her for the first time, still slightly perturbed with her. Regardless, I shift off the couch and out of the alpha’s grasp. I ignored her hand and followed obediently up the stairs to the room. Feeling entirely too dazed, I stumble behind the group, wondering a bit why I didn’t ask for a harsher bite. I have half a mind to turn around and return to her, but by the time I decide to do so, the door closes behind me, and I’m trapped.

Chapter Text

A small, lemon scented body wraps gently around me, cheek pressed to mine. I feel too disconnected, though, and my hands barely hold onto her back. “Are you alright?” comes a soft whisper in my ear.
I gulp down the groan that is begging to escape, her breath and her arms are so soft and welcoming. “Fine,” I squeak out slightly.
“No, you’re—”
I push her off, backing up further from the group. “I said I’m fine.” My tone is harsh and cold, a stark difference to the little ball of sunlight gazing confused at me. I edge closer to the door, the need to escape the only thing on my mind. When I make a move for it, Veronica slams a strong hand against it, forcing it shut. She shakes her head, a little bit of disappointment in her eyes. It offends me a little. “I would appreciate if we used our words, here.”
“You love pissing people off, don’t you?”
“Heather,” I turn to Duke, “if I could avoid getting in trouble, I would. But sometimes, there’s no reason to allow someone to get bullied.”
“Look.” Heather draws my attention to her now, sitting on her bed. “If you want to say it, say it. Don’t keep thinking it.”
I know I should bite my tongue. “Why? What’s the point?”
She stands, but not aggressively, only to face me full on. “So we can work it out, whatever it is.”
With her staring down at me, Veronica blocking my escape, I’m losing bravado quickly. “I don’t have much to say.”
“Bullshit.”
“You’ve heard it all already.” I shrug, clenching my fists to hide how shaky I am. “I’m just going through a lot—”
“We can help!”
“A lot that you’ve caused.” I sniff, shifting so no one is at my back. “But why am I expected to be at your beck and call when you hardly respect my wishes?” There’s a bit of silence. “Exactly, and the more I stick around, the worse it seems to get. I just feel, after recent events, like I don’t belong, like we moved too fast on this, and I don’t think I deserve this.”
“This?”
Huffing, I try to calculate what I’m going to say. “I’m feeling like I’m not appreciated, like I’m here to take vomit for you and then be shoved aside.” Heather moves to hug me again, but I, rather rudely, throw up a hand to push her back. “I really think that I was too eager for a pack, and I made a mistake.”
“Are you saying you want to leave?”
I stare at the floor, knowing leaving a pack is incredibly difficult. It’s just plain stupid to try, and it’s best to let time and distance apart assist the process. “I’m saying that leaving feels right and better than staying, but I know it won’t happen. So no.” I feel a tear slide down my cheek, so I quickly swipe it away to avoid it being seen. “I can’t imagine staying in this pack if things stay the way they are. I don’t expect anyone to change, but…” I end in a confused sigh, looking around for an exit. There’s a stony silence, and I debate jumping out the window to be free from their scrutiny.
“What is the number one thing that’s bothering you?” Heather approaches again, determined to hug me. She doesn’t reach for me much, just standing next to me, with one hand on my lower back rubbing small circles.
“Take a wild guess, Heather.” My tone still has bitterness underlying it, even though I adore Heather.
“I thought you said you weren’t mad anymore?” Duke asks.
I don’t meet her eye. “That doesn’t mean I have total and complete faith in any of you now.” I’m speaking to the floor, and if I even chance looking up, I’ll probably break down and cry. “I lost any trust I had, in all of you, and I’m not sure how easily I’ll get it all back.”
Heather inches closer, so slowly and smoothly I hardly notice. She’s good at that. “I understand.” Her tone matches that I used to calm Heather down in the bathroom.
I cringe away from her. “Don’t patronize me.” She, thankfully, lets her hand drop.
“I’m—I’m not trying to. I—”
I just feel so exhausted, so done with everything. I slide along the wall to the floor, staring emotionless at the four pairs of feet around. “It’s all just…too fast.” My eyes close, heading resting back against the wall. “There’s so much, I can’t—” my voice cracks, “I can’t handle it.” Another tear slips out, and a thumb appears over it, wiping it clean. “It’s like junior high all over again.”
“We’re—” I jump at the sudden voice next to me, forcing them to shush me gently. “We’re here to help you this time.”
“I just…I can’t…I don’t know if I can trust you with it all.” I know the words will sting, I know it hurts them to hear it from me. The number one thing they need from me is trust, trust that they will do everything in their power for my betterment, for my protection, out of love. Otherwise, they can’t trust me to do my job of taking the blows and following orders. How am I meant to follow orders if I can’t trust where those orders are coming from? “I can’t trust you.”
There’s a shaky inhalation next to me. “You…you don’t mean that.” I don’t answer, dropping my head to my knees. “Say you don’t mean it.” A plea.
“I’d be lying.”
“Please,” she whispers. “Tell us what we can do. We need you to trust us.” I shrug, helplessly. “Uh…Uhm…Is…We could bond?”
“What would bonding do?” I raise my head to look helplessly at Heather. “What would bonding do if I don’t feel emotionally attached to who I’m bonding with?”
“You are emotionally attached.” She places a soft hand on my arm, rubbing softly. “It’s not like we hate each other. We need to build trust, that’s all.” She looks at me for a moment, then glances at Heather.
“Right. And trust can be built in many ways,” she drawls, trying to continue this conversation. “Like bonding, and connections, and basic interactions…” She takes a step forward, and I tense. Heather holds up a hand briefly, a small signal to not approach, and she takes a step back. “We can gain trust through friendship.”
“Sure, that’s fine and all, but what about my wolf? My wolf is hurt, and she’s the one making most of my decisions right now.”
“That will come in time.”
I huff, letting my gaze grow unfocused, feeling my body and mind begin to slow down. I don’t have the ambition for it. There are more steps, approaching, and I can’t do much of anything against it. A hand joins the other one on my arm.
“Don’t shut down, please, Honey.”
I swallow, my throat growing dry with the need to cry rising. “I’m not,” I mumble.
“You are. We can see it in your eyes. It’s the same look you had this weekend.”
I force myself to focus on the hands on my arm. “Why are you touching me?”
“To comfort you.”
I gently pry them off, standing. “I don’t like being touched.”
“That’s a lie,” Chandler quips. I see an attempt at a smile form, but it falls quickly when I ignore her. “You say that, but then you—”
“I don’t want you to touch me.”
“Too bad,” she whispers. She opens her arms, and I dodge, heading for the door.
“No.”
Trapping my arms before I can grab the knob, her hug envelops me. I whine slightly, irritated. She shushes me gently in the ear, attempting to calm my increasing heart rate. “You’re ok, you’re safe. Calm down.”
I growl lightly, warning her. “Please, let me go.”
Her arms wrap over my own, fingers attempting to interlock with mine, one hand on my stomach, one over my heart. I can feel her own heart beat into my back, a steady march compared to my frantic train wreck. “Just take some deep breaths, let’s calm down.” Her scent matches her words, trying to ease my impending panic. I struggle against her arms, but she’s not an alpha for no reason. I barely budge them, her strength greatly outweighing mine
“Heather,” I beg softly. “Please…I can’t—I can’t do this right now.”
“Why?”
My chest is constricting, tears threatening. “I just…” I grunt, jerking forward to try and pry her off. “I can’t face it.”
“You don’t have to right now. The only thing I need you to do is take a nice, long, deep breath.”
“If I don’t have—”
“Breathe.” Her voice is deep and smooth, and after a second, I take a deep breath, shaking. “Good. Again.” It doesn’t take as long this time, my will to fight her lacking. “There we go.”
“Can you let me go now?”
“Not yet.”
I start panicking again. “Heather,” I whine.
“I’m not going to let you go until you calm down.”
“I can’t calm down with you holding me hostage.”
“I’m not holding you hostage.”
“You are holding me against my will.”
“Just breathe.”
“I can’t do this!”
“Yes, you can,” her voice dips lower. “Do it.” My final resolve disappears, and everything in me is gone. I can’t fight her anymore. I have no energy to give. After several minutes of me finally calming myself, she slowly guides me backwards. She pulls me down with her onto the bed, refusing to let me go.
I close my eyes, attempting to ignore the room. “You said you would let me go.”
I can feel her gentle smile into my cheek. “Are you sure?” she whispers.
“Yes,” I hiss. It’s like her arms are covered in acid, the simple contact searing my skin. “Please.” After a hot minute, she lets me go, but she doesn’t move away. Her scent is drawing me in, and I want to stay in her arms. But I’m angry. So I peel myself away from her, force myself to be petty, to be cold. Her hand drags across my stomach as I crawl away, curling into a ball near the head of the bed. “Why do you do this to me?” I mutter.
“Because we care.”
“Right! Caring is sharing!” McNamara tries to act happy, but it’s failing.
“Except for feelings and STD’s,” I whine.
“Those are good too. Feelings, I mean.”
“Look,” Heather’s voice is bored now. “We can just do a submission if you want.”
“I…Well…” I just did one. I’m not sure I want another one.
“How about,” McNamara crawls gently on the bed towards me, “you just look at me?”
I scoot slightly away from her. “Why?”
Her hand gently, but firmly, tugs my face upwards to look at her. I glance at her but keep my gaze on her lap. “Please, just look at me.” I drag my eyes up, her own soft, blue, darkening. I can’t tear my eyes away, so I just look at her, not caring anymore. My heart rate slows, and all I can feel is her. Lemons spread around me, a sleepy calm edging over me. I finally let my eyes close. It’s nice, it’s calm, it’s quiet. I wake up feeling happier, I’m still a little perturbed that I had to deal with this blatant disregard for my wishes. However, I appreciate the soft scent of lemons. “Good evening,” Heather greets.
Groaning, I shift to sit up. “Evening.”
“You want some food?”
“N—”
“Good. Come eat,” Heather demands, dragging me to my feet. I grumble behind her, allowing her to tug me down the stairs. Guiding me into a chair, McNamara slides a plate of food in front of me.
“I’m not—”
“Eat,” Heather snaps.
Slowly, I start eating, eventually enjoying the food. I’m hungrier than I thought, so I end up clearing the plate. As I finish the last of my food, Veronica slides more on my plate. I don’t hesitate, continuing to eat. Heather’s hand runs through my hair gently, and when I look up, I catch a nonverbal conversation happening between McNamara and Chandler. “What?”
Their eyes snap to me. Tight smiles are pulled. “Nothing.”
“Liars.”
“Just eat.”
“Heather. I—”
“Shut up and eat.”
“I’m done.”
She grumbles under her breath, taking my plate to the sink. “How are you feeling?”
I shrug. “This is a lot.” I stare into my lap, my thumb aggressively tearing at a nail. “I’m not sure.”
“Maybe…” Heather hums quietly, “We should go?”
Chandler looks at McNamara. “What?” McNamara makes a face but says nothing. “Uh. Right.”
The others start backing out of the room. “Wait! Why are you leaving?”
Heather shrugs helplessly before the three flee from the room. Chandler, on the other hand, tugs my hand. “Come on,” she whispers. Leading me up the stairs, I allow her to guide me through the house. Ending at the window to the roof, she grabs a spare blanket and crawls out. Glancing back, “Are you coming?” I crawl out after her. Wrapping both of us in her blanket, she lays flat next to me. I sigh. It’s silent, for quite a while, the stars taking over my mind. I don’t think about much else. “I need you.”
It’s a soft whisper. I hardly notice. Turning my head, I furrow my brow. “What did you say?”
A blush creeps up her cheeks. “I said I need you.”
I let a small smile play on my lips. “Aw. Thanks.”
She nudges me with her elbow. “I mean it.” Her eyes find mine, open and vulnerable. “I…I…”
I roll onto my side. “It’s ok. I get it.”
Her eyes darken slightly as she rolls to match my position. “Do you?”
Slightly taken aback, I huff. “Yeah? I think.”
“I don’t think you do.”
I roll my eyes. “Then explain it to me, oh wise alpha.”
A small crack of a smile appears. “Shut up.” She shifts closer, our heat combining under the blanket. “I mean that since we’ve been attached to each other, your comment earlier really hurt.”
“What comment?”
“About…trust.”
“I meant what I said.”
“I know, that’s why it hurt.”
“I don’t know what to say, Heather. I feel like I can’t trust you guys. I don’t know how to fix it.”
Her hand comes to rest gently on my cheek, regardless of the small jump I give in response. “You make things so difficult.”
I bark out a laugh. “Me? Wow!”
Rolling her eyes, she pulls me into a soft kiss. “Everything is just getting out of hand.” She bites her lip, eyes drifting around my face. “I’m going to fix it.” A kiss on my nose. “I promise.”
“That’s a tall order.” I grin at her eye roll. “I believe in you.” I shift closer, shuddering in the cold.
“Do you want to go inside?”
“No.” My head settles in the crook of her neck, her hand buried in my hair. “I hate fate.”
A puff of air hits my cheek from her laugh. “I agree.” I can feel her shake against me, the cold really getting to her. “Are you cold yet?”
I smile, because I don’t want to go inside. “We can go inside.”
She moves quickly, leaving the blanket for me to grab. “Hurry up.”
“Calm down, I’m coming.” Crawling after her, I trail behind her to her room once more. “Heather. What do I do?”
“Nothing. You can’t do anything. It’s up to us.”
“We will never get anywhere.”
“Alright fine, you can have some faith that things will naturally work out. And be open to when we try things.”
“I am not bonding again.”
“You don’t have to.” She quickly, too quickly, cups my face. I jerk back, moving to avoid it. “I don’t know how to fix this. But I will.” Dropping her hands to find mine, she sighs. “A fresh start.”
I laugh bitterly. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That means that we work from the beginning again. In every way.”
“Even…?”
“Yes. Even that.”
“How…new are we talking?”
“How new are you thinking?”
“This pains me to say…”
“But?”
“But I think we need more cheesy dates.”
She drops her hands, stepping backward with a laugh. “What?”
It’s clear that I frightened her with my statement. “If we are going to do this, we are going to do this right.”
She smiles, nodding. “Alright, Casanova. I’ll let you pick our first official date, then.”
I take a deep breath. I can do this. I can fix this. As I reach out and grab her hand, there’s a slight influx of her scent, her tempting heat scent. I clench my jaw, trying to stay focused. I withdraw my hand. “Was that intentional?”
“No,” she whispers. Her eyes are dark, but she doesn’t seem to be aiming to force me into this. I swallow, taking a dangerous step towards her. “Careful, Chérubin.” It’s a warning, but with little conviction. Her scent contradicts the warning, softly coaxing me in.
My breathing picks up. “In a few seconds,” I mutter, “I won’t be able to stop myself.”
“I know.” She kicks off her heels, standing a little closer to my height. “I’m nervous.”
“I have faith in you,” I whisper, before pressing a kiss into her cheek.
“You shouldn’t.” Her hands are stuck at her side, and with some insane self-control, she is keeping her scent at a manageable level. So I do a dumb thing, but I can’t-not do a dumb thing with her scent messing with my mind. I push my own scent out, as sweet as I can go, begging for her to just let go. She will be absolutely horrid to deal with if she acted like I did during my heat. If she handles most of it now, it won’t be so bad. I can see her shaking in front of me, and I’m not even touching her. “Stop,” she whispers softly. “You don’t know what you are doing.”
I nod. “I know.”
With that admission, her scent sneaks out a little stronger, and my last thoughts fly out of my mind. I press into her, kissing her lips softly. She responds in kind, her hands not hesitating to latch onto my lower back. Words are finished, apparently, as she deepens the kiss into a bit of a rougher one. I’m utterly impressed at her ability to maintain some kind control here. With a small growl, her tongue invades my mouth, and her hands drift under the hem of my shirt. Backing me towards the bed, I land with a soft thud, a small gasp, and her mouth on my neck.
Her scent is pulled back, ever-so-slightly, and she hovers above me, pupils blown wide. “I need to orgasm.”
I scoff. “What!”
“I need to…finish, you know.”
“I know what an orgasm is.”
She licks her lips. “How are we going to do that?”
Up until this point, she has been very adamant that we shouldn’t have sex yet, that neither of us are ready. While I argued against it during my heat, I agree with her. And our relationship right now isn’t the best. I don’t feel comfortable touching her, and I don’t think she would be comfortable with me touching her. I shake my head. “I don’t know.” Gulping, not sure if I want to know the answer, “How have you done it in the past?”
“Find some low-level dumb fuck at a party.”
“Is—Is that what you want to do this time?”
“No.”
I look down towards the area of interest. “I—I can’t—”
She shushes me with a soft kiss. “I don’t expect you to.” A smile graces her features. “I can…touch myself.”
I feel my face redden at the prospect. “Uh. Yeah, I can just go.”
She doesn’t move. “Well, I would want you…here.” Her eyes are open, nearly pleading. It reminds me of when she asked me to dance at the party. She isn’t sure how I will respond, or that she should have even asked it. She gulps.
“I feel like that’s invading on a private moment.”
She laughs lightly, sitting up officially to straddle my hips. “There’s nothing private about getting myself off. I’ll be thinking of you anyway,” she ends with a wink.
I blush, shifting to sit up with her. Her hands reach up to cup my face. “What would I do? To be frank, the thought terrifies me.”
“Have you ever…?”
“No.”
“I should have guessed.” She smirks at my still reddening face. “I don’t know. Whatever feels natural.” When I chew my cheek in thought, she adds, “Obviously you don’t have to. But I could guide you.”
I nearly laugh. “So I would be doing everything but…that.”
“Like I said, you can do what you think would help. I can always do it on my own.”
“I…I can…help.”
There’s a flash of something in her eyes, not sure what exactly. “Really?” When I nod briefly, she looks around. Leaning in, she kisses me, running her nails on my scalp. After her scent works its way back into the room, and she gets bored making-out, she shifts to start stripping.
“Do I—”
“Only if you want. It would sure help.”
I nod, following suit. This isn’t about me, this is about her. She lays flat on her back against her mountain of pillows, hair twisted up quickly into a ponytail. I hover by her feet, unsure how to start this. “I’ll just let you go.”
A side smirk creeps up her face, her hands resting peacefully on her stomach. “What are you going to do?” I shrug. “Come here,” she pats the spot next to her. I lay down on my side, looking at her. She grabs my hand, guiding it to her bra-clad chest. She’s looking at me with so much trust it hurts. I’m about to observe her reach a cliff and jump off it, and I have a slight hand in the situation. “Whatever is natural,” she repeats.
I nod. “Some guidance here and there might help.”
With one last smile, her hands drift down to her nether region. Her eyes drift close as a small sigh escapes her lips. She looks peaceful, regardless of the dirty connotation. My fingertips start to dance lightly around her chest. I avoid the peaks of her breasts, not comfortable with that quite yet. I can feel her chest rattle with a shaky breath. I venture around her chest, her abdomen, a brief scrape over her collarbone. I don’t know what she likes, so I have no idea where to go next. When she feels me falter, she mumbles, “M—My thighs.” Obliging, my hand drifts down to her leg, rub over every inch of it, still unsure exactly where to touch. I don’t know how long this takes, or how to tell when she’s going to burst. I lean in, unable to resist, and kiss my way up from her collarbone to her lips, which she greedily takes. Both my hands work her legs now, my body shifted lower. She didn’t take off her underwear, which I am grateful for, her hand just a bulge in them.
After several minutes, I’m not sure how long exactly, I can feel her legs start to shake. Both of her hands are working her area, and her breathing is increasing from simple breaths to grunts and groans. I do my best to help her through, and she eventually arches off the bed with a small groan, my name slipping off her lips at one point. She stills after, her hands coming up to her stomach. I take my hands away when she relaxes, unsure what to do. “Are you ok?”
She opens her eyes at me, wiping her fingers on her skin. “Yeah,” she sighs. Her scent is still tempting, but not near as much. “Thanks,” she grins.
“Did I help?”
“Absolutely.” After a few seconds, she stands, stalks over to her dresser, and gets a new pair of underwear. “Lay down.”
“Last time, you said water was essential.”
Rolling her eyes, she lays down on the bed, pulling the covers over her. “Come here.”
Smiling softly, I crawl in beside her. I kiss her gently, moving to snuggle into her neck with a soft kiss there too. “I’m glad you feel better.”
“I heard your thoughts. You just don’t want to deal with me later.”
After a few moments, “Thank you.”
“For what?”
“One, for letting me…observe. Second, for not pushing me. I know it takes a lot to resist sometimes.”
She hums, her hand gently rubbing around my shoulder blade. “It’s not right to rush.”
I perk up, despite her soft groan, and prop up on my elbow. “You said I can pick the first date.”
“And?”
“And? It’s about time to eat. We can go somewhere.”
“The only place to eat in town is the gas station. And I am not driving out of town.”
I pout slightly. “If I stay, I’m not sure I want to eat with your mother.”
Her eyes close. “Right. That is something I need to deal with.”
“I’m sorry. For submitting to her.”
“It’s fine. It’s hard to say no. It went better than I thought it would.”
My hand drifts to her face, tracing where her freckles should be. “Your mother is very intense.”
“Yeah. She says she’s just trying to teach me to be a good alpha, but that’s hard when she treats me like an omega.” She takes me hand, kissing it. “Thanks for trying to defend me.”
I shrug. “It’s what I do.”
“You are incredible.”
I duck my face back into her neck to hide my blush. “I am not.”
She kisses my forehead. “I mean it.”
The intercom crackles and Mrs. Chandler’s voice bleeds through. “Heather, come down here.”
With heavy sighs, we get dressed. I tried to argue she didn’t ask for me, but Heather quickly countered that omegas barely existed in her mother’s house, so she probably forgot I was here.
“Impossible, she can sniff me out a mile away.”
“Correct.” Mrs. Chandler greets us in the kitchen. “Time to eat, girls.”
“Where’s dad?”
“On call at the hospital.” The maid sets down three plates, Mrs. Chandler at the head, one on either side of her. I look at Heather, mortified. Heather reaches over to move a plate away from her mother. “Don’t be rude, Heather.” Both of us paling, we sit on either side of her. She has a glass of wine, already working on cutting her meat into small chunks.
After several moments of unbearable silence, I say quietly, “Thank you for dinner, Mrs. Chandler.”
“You are welcome, dear.” She sips her wine, looking between the two of us. “How are you feeling?”
I nod, finishing my bite. “Fine, thank you.”
“What do you plan to do?”
“With what, Mrs. Chandler?”
“This large trust issue.” She gives Heather a stern look before turning her gaze back to me. “You certainly are not at fault.”
“Well, Heather said—”
“I’m not asking Heather. I’m asking you.”
I gulp, asking for help inside my head. Heather does nothing to help. “I’m assuming you have some advice?”
I catch a small smile from the powerful alpha, my eyes downcast. “I do. See, Heather. Someone knows how to ask for help.” Heather mumbles something, to which Mrs. Chandler responds, “Speak up.”
“You told me true alphas don’t ask for help.” If that is true, that is heartbreaking.
“Wouldn’t you agree that your wolf is the most hurt?” I nod. “Would you like to know how I deal with Heather, when she gets unruly?” I gulp, having an idea of where this goes. Even though I don’t answer, she continues. “I treat her and her wolf like a toddler. She is throwing a tantrum, and eventually she will get bored.”
“What?”
“When a child is throwing a tantrum, one of the best things you can do as a parent is ignore it. When you give it attention, it will only get worse.”
“That’s what I did, mother,” Heather hisses. “And you—”
“Attitude, Heather. Yes, you did ignore it. Yes, you had the right idea. But you didn’t capitalize on the important part of time-out.”
“Excuse me,” I mutter, “I’m not a child.”
Seemingly ignoring me comment, the two continue. “Heather, there is a small window of time in which it is important to ignore the tantrum. But after that period, it’s time to sit them in a corner, explain why you’re angry, calmly I might add, and when they have served their time in the corner, you ask them to explain what they did wrong. It is one of the easiest forms of punishment. You can sense when it is time to speak to her again.”
“Ok, but what kind of time-out are we talking about here?”
“Probation of sorts. Separation from the group, a mark, a denied submission, a good beating…”
“Mother, I am not going to fight her again.” Thank God. “And won’t separation from the pack hurt her? And she is so stubborn—”
“I’m right here thank you.”
“She may be stubborn. But she can’t deny her wolf’s need for you, and she will give into that need. Next time she or her wolf is throwing a tantrum, ignore her for a while, but keep track of her thoughts. Once she hits that wall of not caring about her tantrum any longer, tell her why you are punishing her, base your punishment on her deed, and then comfort her after.”
“What about her utter lack of trust in all of us?”
“Bonding.” She takes a sip of her wine, giving Heather a look. “Intensive bonding.”
“What does that mean?” I ask, clearing up the last of my plate.
“I’ll explain later,” Heather smiles softly. “Are you sure, mother?”
“That, praise, and those small things. Like letting her pick what movie to watch or where to eat.”
“Ok.” After a brief pause, “Thank you.”
“You are welcome. Now,” she stands, taking her refilled glass of wine from the maid, “if you don’t mind, I will be in my office.”
Heather finishes her plate slowly, me waiting patiently across from her. “Heather—”
“I’m not going to beat you up, don’t worry.” She sighs, leaving her plate at the table. I take mine to the sink for the maid. “There’s a reason she can’t find a committed omega.” I follow her to her bedroom. “Bonding,” she mummers.
“What did she mean?”
“Her idea of intensive bonding is…” she meets my eye, taking a deep breath, “sex.”
“N—”
“Before you say anything, I know. None of us expect you to do that. My mother is more concerned with a fast fix. I just want a fix in general.”
“So what level are you thinking?”
“Like you did with Heather at the very beginning.”
“You want me to do that with Heather and Veronica too?” I shudder, not able to view any of them like that.
“It’ll be good for you.”
I settle on her bed next to her. “Ok,” I eventually whisper.
She smiles at me. “It’ll be fine. We can start as soon as you want.”
“Actually…”
She cocks an eyebrow at me. “Really?”
“I wouldn’t mind going to see Heather right now.”
Heather searches my face for a second. “Sure. I can take you.”
I roll my eyes. “She literally lives three houses down. I can walk.”
She nods. “Ok.” She walks me to the door, giving me a kiss on the forehead goodbye. I walk quickly down the street. I suppose I should have called first, but oh well.

Chapter Text

I knock lightly on the door. It opens after a moment, by Mrs. McNamara. “Uh—Good evening, Mrs. McNamara.”
“Good evening. Gemma, right?”
I nod politely. “Is Heather home?”
“She is. Come on in.” She smiles at me, guiding me towards the stairs. “Heather!” she calls. “You have a visitor.”
Heather bounces out of her room happily to peer over the railing. I can see the initial shock on her face when she sees me. “Hi!” She comes down the stairs to greet me, sobering a bit when she realizes that I came to see her instead of staying with Chandler. “Hi.”
After her mom leaves, I blush slightly. “I was wondering if you wanted to…” I drop my voice to a whisper, “be the big spoon?”
She giggles, pulling me upstairs. “Sure! I would love to.” She must have been doing homework, with her books out on her desk. She hovers while I’m unsure what to do. “How—” She cuts herself off, thinking. “How was eating with Mrs. Chandler?”
I give her a confused look before shrugging it off. “Tense.”
“Heather mentioned what she said.”
This whole telepathy thing is nice sometimes. “Yeah. And did she tell you what she wanted me to do to gain trust back?”
“Yes.”
“I’m not here for that, Heather.” She takes a breath. “I mean, I wanted to bond, but not like that. I mostly just needed to talk to you.”
“Absolutely!” She settles on the bed, sitting up against the pillows. She pats her lap, her lips in a perfect grin. I follow, laying my head on her legs. I can’t help but close my eyes, her scent so strong in this room. “What did you need to talk about?”
“You’re a good person, Heather.”
“Thank you. I try.”
“How do you handle it?”
“How do I handle what?”
“How do you handle Betty and Martha and Kurt and Ram and—”
I’m cut off by her sigh. “I can’t tell you how to handle your own guilt.”
“I know. But there had to have been growing pains for you too, right? Like, you probably made Heather mad often enough.”
When I open my eyes, she shakes her head. “We were young. I wasn’t confident enough to stand up for my beliefs. It was easier to just nod and agree with her.”
“But now?”
“It got easier over time, to ignore it.” Her hand plays with my hair, her voice soft. She is too good at this. “It wasn’t worth it, to get involved. Back when we were in middle school, she didn’t really protect us. The boys were too much, so she didn’t bother.”
“That’s horrible.”
She shrugs, “Its fine. She’s there for us now. That’s all that matters. Her mother has done nothing if not taught her well.”
“Her mother is…a lot.”
“Yes. But Heather wouldn’t be half the alpha she is without her.”
I sigh, grabbing her free hand to toy with. “I’m scared, Heather.”
“I know.”
“What do I do?”
“This.”
“I mean about my guilt.”
“I know you like to think of them as friends. There are two possible options here. First, convince Heather to let you hang out with them. Second, and more reasonable, stop. It might be easier to accept that your original friendship is gone.”
“But they get bullied.”
“And, in time, they will find someone to stand up for them, or stand up for themselves. Kurt and Ram don’t do anything too harmful, just make fun of their appearance. It could be a lot worse for them.”
“Do you think this is fixable?”
“Of course I do.”
“It’s easy, with you and Heather. But with Heather and Veronica, I don’t know…”
“It will come. But things like this will help if you do it with them too.” She rubs my stomach for a while, finally shifting under me. “You can stay, if you want.”
“If that’s ok.”
She smiles gently, moving so she can stand. “You can shower too.”
I stand eventually, taking a quick shower and dressing in a set of spare pajamas. I smell like her, and it’s certainly soothing. She is studying hard at her desk, hair falling into her face. I get out my own homework, quickly reading the assignment for tomorrow. I try studying calculus, still trying as she climbs into bed.
“Can I help?”
“Do you know advanced calculus?”
“No.”
She eventually settles next to me, on her phone. “Thanks, though.”
“I think you’re overthink it all.”
I glance up at her with a short laugh. “I’m overthinking calc?”
“No,” she giggles. “The situation with Heather and Veronica.”
I bury my nose back into my maths book. “What’s there to overthink about?”
She makes a confused noise. “I mean, neither of them meant to hurt you.”
“I’m well aware of that, but my wolf doesn’t care.”
She reaches over and gently closes my book that I was using as a distraction from the conversation. “You don’t care.”
I set the book down and lean back onto my hands. “I care. I thought I had something good going with both of them.”
“And you do. You still do. We just hit a road bump. You make it seem like the car fell off the cliff. It didn’t. It just hit the railing and is skidding around aimlessly.”
I lay down, wrapping her old sweater around me. “You’re right.”
She hums, laying on her stomach and looking at me. “I love that phrase.”
“Thank you.”
“I know how you feel. Being the omega is tough. It takes a lot of patience.”
“Which I don’t have.”
“You learn, with Heather.”
I roll onto my side away from her. “Come on. I’m cold.”
She giggles, pulling up a blanket as she snuggles into my back. “Thanks for coming over.”
“You’re the easiest to talk to.”
“Thank you, I try.”
I roll over so our noses are touching. “How do you handle your heat?”
“What do you mean?”
“Does Heather help you?”
“Of course she does. We have similar timing for our heat, so that helps.”
I shift, so I’m lower, and my face can fit into the crook of her neck. It doesn’t take me long to fall asleep, her scent soothing enough. When I wake up, I’m sprawled over her, my head on her stomach. Her breathing is still slow, sleep still hanging in the room. It was a peaceful sleep, for the most part. I enjoy her presence, comfortable and trusting. I crawl off her, careful not to wake her up. After breakfast and scenting, I ride with her and Heather to school, a comfortable silence amongst us.
At my locker, I hover for a bit longer, organizing my life. I smell Betty and Martha approach. “Hi,” I greet with a smile. “What’s up?”
Betty glances over her shoulder towards the pack. “We overheard them talking. About you.”
I shrug. “Yeah. And?”
Together, they drag me off to the bathroom down the hall. “It wasn’t good.”
“Ok, you’re scaring me.”
“I heard them say they were going to fight you after school.”
There’s a slight pang of fear, no doubt, at hearing I would get beat up. But my more rational side tells me that Heather isn’t stupid. She has to know that beating me up would be the worst thing to do in this situation by way of trust-building activities. Not only that, but we don’t run on Thursdays. Why would they pick today of all days to do it? “Thank you, for telling me. I’ll keep that in mind.” They give me a confused look as I walk out of the bathroom. I could be insane. Who knows. I approach quietly, not reaching for anyone and standing quietly in the group.
“I saw Kurt blowing Ram in his truck out in the parking lot,” Veronica excitedly whispers to Duke.
“Do you think they’re mates?”
“No way. I think they’re just banging until they find them. They asked me to join, but I ran.” When I don’t move or speak, Chandler tries to reach for my hand. I politely refuse, clutching my book tightly. Attention is slowly shifting to me, and I curl inward to avoid it. “After school, I was thinking you and I should shoot some hoops. You know, prep for the season.”
I clear my throat before nodding. “Sure. I haven’t played since primary school, so go easy on me.” I glance quickly around at everyone, not sensing any ill-intent. “Can we…” I bite my lip. “Never mind.”
“No, go ahead. Ask.”
“I know it isn’t the right day, but can we run after?”
“Absolutely no—”
McNamara elbows Duke before interrupting her. “Sure. That would be nice.”
That has to confirm it, right? That has to. They hadn’t planned on anything. Ok. I can breathe. As the day goes on, there’s a comfortable level of presence in my mind, and I’m starting to understand calculus again. Today isn’t too bad.
As I carry my tray over to sit down, I see a girl, I think her name is Helen, sit down next to Betty. I have to smile a little. Maybe they are branching out. “What has you smiling like an idiot?”
I catch Heather Duke’s eye and ignore the end of the question. “Nothing. At least, nothing that concerns you.”
“Damn,” Veronica laughs. “Feeling sassy today?”
I blush as I realize what I said. “Sorry, Heather.”
“Why did you want to run today?”
“Thought it might be good.”
“How about ‘intense bonding?’” Veronica asks me, but we know Heather is going to answer.
“There is no way in Hell we are doing that.”
“Why’s that?”
“We all know that first, Gem would not be comfortable with that, and second we all know that I’m a jealous bitch.”
“I agree.” When everyone looks at me shocked, “With the first statement. I wouldn’t be comfortable.”
After school, Veronica grabs me from my locker. “Do you have gym clothes?”
I glance down at my jeans and loose t-shirt, shrugging. “I can play in this.”
She laughs lightly, shaking her head. “Maybe you can borrow something from Mac.” Grabbing my hand, she leads me to where the three Heathers are chatting. “She needs to borrow some gym clothes.”
Duke gives a short glance down my body. “Not my size,” she mumbles.
Heather beams instead, turning to her locker. “My stuff is all yellow, so your skin will look really gross, but that’s ok. It’s not like you’re trying to impress anyone,” she giggles. Tossing me the clothes, she latches onto Duke’s hand.
After changing, and my skin indeed looked gross in yellow, I catch up to Veronica shooting on the open court. “When was the last time you played?”
“Primary school.” The ball comes flying towards me, and I barely catch it in time. “Probably around age ten or eleven.”
“So you’re a little rusty?” She winks, obviously waiting for me to shoot. I line up and shoot from the elbow, missing, but not by much. “Better than half the players on the team.” I shake my head, handing her the ball. “I’m serious! You’ll be fine.”
“I’m tiny. Any wolf on the court will smell me right away, and I’ll be targeted. It’s a dumb idea for me to play.”
“Lucky for you,” swish, “there aren’t many wolves on the court.”
“I’m still small.”
“Faster.” Swish.
“I’m weak.”
“Doesn’t mean you can’t get stronger.” Swish.
“Ok, quit showing off.” I rebound the ball. “Maybe I’ll just play defense.”
“I think you’re confusing basketball for soccer. You have to be both offensive and defensive.”
I chuckle, rebounding my own missed shot to quickly shoot it again. “No, I distinctly remember my coach telling one girl to only play defense and not bother with the ball.” I make my rebound, thankfully.
“We don’t have good enough players for that kind of setup.”
“What do you mean? Aren’t there try-outs?”
She laughs fully, shooting a quick succession on shots from a bottom block. “We’ll be lucky to have ten girls show up the first day, and a couple always drop out. There are no try-outs.”
“So I show up and get a spot on the team?”
“Yup.”
“This is dumb.”
“Well, we don’t have soccer here.”
“False, you have a traveling team.”
“What? Who told you that?”
“Lu…” I stop to shoot instead.
Veronica stalls. “Lucas told you.”
I try to rebound the ball, but she grabs it before I could even reach it. “Look—”
“Lucas told you.” She repeats. “When?”
I clear my throat. “A while ago.”
“When?”
“Before. I don’t know, before I found out that he was a jerk.” She stares down at me, emotion unclear on her face. “What?”
She finally swallows and shakes her head. “Nothing.” She gestures to the free-throw line. “I want to see your form.”
We shoot for about an hour, chatting about this and that, and she doesn’t bring up Lucas again. After changing, we wait patiently outside the school. The green Jeep rolls up, and Veronica and I climb into the back seat.
“Ugh,” Duke groans. “You two reek.”
“At least we exercise.”
“Excuse—”
“Shut up.” Chandler shifts in her seat, and I can hear the eye roll in her voice.
“No! That was a rude—”
“Heather. Shut it.”
Without thinking, my scent rolls out, and I don’t bother sucking it back in. If it gets the two of them to calm down, I don’t care how strong it is. At the field, the tension is long gone.
“We aren’t staying all night this time,” Chandler declares.
“Why not?” McNamara actually sounds a little sad.
“Because it’s not the usual night, and frankly, I don’t want to.”
I get a spike of anxiety, remembering why I asked to run tonight. Things have been going well enough today, I can’t assume Betty and Martha are correct. There’s no way. In my ear, I hear a soft, calm voice, “What’s wrong?”
I glance up at McNamara’s baby blues, furrowing my brow. “You mean you aren’t listening?”
She smiles gently. “No, I don’t like to pry.”
“Thanks. But I’m fine.”
Clearly not believing me, she grabs my hand. “If there’s something wrong—”
“Nothing is wrong. Just general anxiety.” I slowly slip my hand away. “You know how I am.”
“Hurry up and change,” Chandler calls. “I’m starving.”
The run goes as usual, minus the hunting. I chase small animals to entertain myself when McNamara and Veronica get bored play-fighting with me. Eventually, Heather calls us back to Jeep. It wasn’t near long enough for me, but I suppose I should be happy that we even went. Nothing bad happened. I knew it. Everything is fine.
It’s slightly after midnight, and I can’t help but curl up on the way home. I’m small enough to lay flat across the seat, resting my head on McNamara’s lap and my feet pressed into the side of Veronica’s leg. I hear a quick few words in my mind, like trust and sleep, before I’m out like a light. I wake up when we get to the Chandler residence, being coaxed out of the backseat with kind words and promises of food.
With a plate of food in front of me, I shovel it down quickly and quietly until Chandler asks, “Feel better?”
I gulp down my mouthful and shrug. “I guess.” She’s still staring at me, so I roll my eyes. “What? You want me to say thank you?”
She smirks. “You should know by now, I will never turn that down.”
“With that,” Veronica sighs, “I am going home. Goodnight.” Veronica leaves with half a sandwich in hand, followed closely by Heather and Heather.
Once left alone, I can trace the smallest hint of Heather’s heat scent surrounding me. I don’t say anything, not really caring at this point. I’m surprised she kept it suppressed this long. She watches me eat, silent. “Thank you. For the run.”
“Yeah. No problem.”