Katie paused for a moment, lost in her thoughts, before dashing to answer the doorbell.
She pulled the door with so much force the knocker rebounded and made her best friend yelp in surprise.
"What's gotten into you?" Haley cried with a frown. "Calm down your biceps, Super Girl."
"Sorry... I had too much coffee," Katie admitted. She'd drank an entire pot while waiting for the boys to arrive—a decision she'd regretted once trapped inside the closet without a toilet. "In fact... I need a wee. Be right back!"
After speeding to the toilet, she returned to find Haley in the kitchen fixing herself a drink. The smell of cheap instant coffee filled her nose.
Haley turned and looked up sheepishly as Katie entered. "You said coffee so..."
"So you had to have coffee," she finished with a smile. "It's okay. You can make yourself at home here."
Haley was usually the host and always appeared awkward when in Katie's home—probably because of who she shared it with. As she rusted through the cupboards, searching for sugar, Haley stared out of the window.
"Is that him?" She nodded in the direction of Devlin. "Your soul mate?"
"Hmm." Katie nodded before pulling the smaller girl away from the window. "Don't be so obvious. He'll hear you."
"Nobody's hearing is good enough to hear through these windows," Haley protested. "Not even Theon."
As if on cue, Theon and Devlin both turned to stare in at the pair of girls. Their faces suggested they had heard or were at least making fun of Katie for her little stunt earlier. Her cheeks reddened at the thought.
'Please don't tell him about my silly crush,' she prayed.
"Let's go and pester them," Haley suggested with a devilish grin. She loved to pester people, though they rarely found her company as much of a bother as she seemed to assume. People tended to like Haley. The kind and thoughtful girl, though not as beautiful as Katie, had always been far more popular.
She plopped a few sugar cubes into her cup, gave it a quick stir and linked arms with Katie, pulling her into the garden.
Although it was already October, the weather remained unseasonably warm, and the withering leaves clung to the branches of the trees for the time being. This was a shame for Katie, who loved everything about Autumn. The smells, the colours and that feeling of crisp cold that would creep in as Christmas neared.
She watched as Haley comforted Kenny, unsure what to do or say. Devlin made her feel so nervous she was barely able to function.
'My heart is beating so fast,' she thought. 'I bet Theon can hear it. He hears everything.'
Remembering the advice her friends had given her, she listed things she could see, taste, smell, and taste.
'Is it five things I can see or four?' she questioned, doing her best to recall the advice. It worked either way, distracting her from the ridiculously hot guy standing a few feet away.
For things she could smell, she opened her lungs and took a deep breath. The smell of the earth beneath her feet, teeming with worms and bugs. Rotting apples that had fallen from the tree and been crushed into the paving slabs. And something else. Something familiar. A perfume.
She looked at Haley, lips curled up and eyes wide.
"No. Not Jade," Haley whispered.
The petite redhead breezed into the garden without bothering to knock—a faux par Theon was always grilling her for. It was as if she lived to annoy him.
"So... are you coming out to celebrate my Jason's win?" she asked with a smile so wide and fake you could spot it from space.
"Oh... erm..." Katie motioned toward her cousin, who had not won the election, hoping her dense friend would take the hint.
"Oh, come on." Jade tutted. "It's not like there was really any need to vote. Everyone knew Jason would take the victory. Our pack has always had a Goldman in charge. That's just tradition."
The way she said the word 'victory,' was so arrogant and uppity. As if her brother had done anything special aside from being born with the correct surname. Katie wasn't exactly Theon's biggest fan or supporter, but he was still her only family. He'd supported her since the death of their parents and never left her wanting.
Jade, on the other hand, was a fair-weather friend at best. An interloper. She had interjected herself in the friendship group with the haughty entitlement only Goldman's possessed.
"Yet we all know I could take it back if I contested. A battle to the death!" Theon clapped his hands together. "Now that could be fun."
"Oh, would it now?" Jade scoffed. "But then you'd actually have to lead."
Theon shrugged and fell silent. He was capable of leading his small group of 6—but an entire village? Katie knew he wasn't up for it. It wasn't something that he'd ever shown interest in before today, first getting angry at Adam, now Jade.
After a moment of awkward silence, Devlin stepped forward.
"So?" he asked.
"Leading isn't an easy job. There's a lot involved—" Jade argued, flapping her arms. She made the face Katie hated--one where she screwed up her nose in annoyance that someone she didn't deem worth was speaking to her.
'How dare she make that face at him!' Katie screamed internally.
"We'd help you." Devlin turned to Theon, holing his head up high. "You deserve to lead. You are the strongest. That was the first tradition before modern-day politics took over. The strongest rules. Jason, though strong, is most definitely not more formidable than Theon."
He turned back to Jade and looked down his nose at her with sheer disgust as if she were worthless—nothing. If Katie hadn't already loved him, that moment would have swayed her. Nobody had the nerve to question or put down a Goldman. Nobody but Devlin, apparently. She'd put up with the girl for years, not wanting to offend her social better and upset the 'order of things.'
Jade's eyes narrowed as she stared down Devlin, but she turned to Theon when the new guy refused to bite. "You aren't serious."
"We'd support you one hundred per cent. You are our leader, and we believe in you," Devlin went on, eyes becoming more intense. Instead of teasing him for 'simping' over his alpha as they normally would in situations like this, the others in the pack stepped up and nodded, their enthusiasm matching Devlin’s. Something about the situation struck Katie as odd.
"I'll think about it." Theon loomed over Jade and grinned widely, showing his monstrous teeth in their full glory. "Come on lads. Let's go hunting."
As they piled out of the gate, knocking past Jade in turn, her mouth gaped wider with each bump.
"What the bloody hell?" she cried. "He can't do this!"
Katie and Haley exchanged glances and shrugged.
"I think he was teasing you but... I'm not sure," she said, unsure what to tell her so-called friend.
"I'd apologise for gloating though, just in case," Haley suggested.
"Ugh." Jade screwed up her face. "Me? Apologise to a Kilgrayne?"
She looked at Katie, blinked a couple of times and flushed slightly. "Sorry, uh, no offence to you Katie. You can't help being related to him."
'Why do you even want to be my friend?' Katie wondered. 'Why not hang out with the others in your caste?'
Jade's eyes misted over as she stared over at the fields, watching Theon and the others running toward the woods. "I'm sure he won't do it. It would be crazy..."
Katie almost laughed out loud. 'Crazy? You clearly don't know my cousin as well as you think you do.'
"How could this happen?!" The veins in her father's neck stood out as he swept the breakfast dishes from the table with his thick forearm.Jade blinked away droplets of milk from her eyelashes, frozen in horror as a waterfall of plates, cereal, and glasses crashed to the floor."I, uh, I d—don't—" Jason stammered, shaking his head. He reminded Jade of one of those rickety old ventriloquist dummies as his teeth chattered, struggling to explain something he couldn't have foreseen.'But you foresaw it, didn't you?'Jades’ conscience whispered.'You saw it coming and you never said a word.'Jade hung her head.'Because I'm to blame for this,' she concluded."You won't be able to beat him," her father was saying, pacing through the shards of broken china. "That boy is a monster. Even if we fought him four on o
Jade's mind raced, filling with questions that had no answers. Why would he want her as a mate? Was he simply teasing her? Would he really let her brother live?What would it be like... to be his mate?Her eyes ran over his form, taking in his shape. He was tall and solidly built—muscular with long limbs. And it wasn't just his human form that was oversized—his wolf was immense. A monster among monsters.What would it be like to mate with him?The thought brought a blush to her cheeks. She pictured him naked, pressing against her, his sharp teeth and hot breath bearing down on her neck."Well?" he pressed. "Do we have a deal or not?"Without thinking any further, Jade nodded. She would do anything to save her brother, but in that instant, it wasn't saving Jason that spurred her to action.'Do I want to be
The group were deathly quiet as they walked home, but it wasn't an ordinary silence. It felt almost as if there was a weight to it. Or some other tangible element. Even the birds and squirrels were keeping their distance.Theon had remained behind with the elder members of the council. Katie figured he was either going to lay down the law or transform and eat them. He wasn't one to be bossed about by people with what he called 'borrowed power.' His power was real; backed up by teeth and claws. He would not give an inch to anyone weaker than himself, which included pretty much everyone. Alexander had been smart enough to figure this out and had left him to his own devices, never once giving him an order.Theon challenging Jason's leadership was a shock to just about everyone else, but not to Katie. She knew there was no way he would live under the rule of a guy his own age. Especially not a stuck-up prick like Jason. Alexander wasn't gr
The silence that fell over the hall as the last straggler departed was deafening. Jade heels clicked over the hardwood floor, making an echo that alerted Theon's attention. As he turned to face, her she froze on the spot—a deer in headlights.'A deer,'she thought.'I'm one of the strongest Alpha's in this pack, and he makes me feel like prey.'A shiver ran down her spine as he approached slowly, placing steps carefully as if stalking her—as if he knew the effect he was having on her body.Her knees were like jelly when his feet bumped against hers. He loomed over her, face still puckered with marks from the transformation. The veins on his neck stood out, throbbing with the slow and steady beat of his heart. He wasn't excited or afraid—but entirely at ease.For a horrible moment, as he stared without blinking, she couldn't remember the words she wished t
'What's going on here?'Katie screwed up her face in defiance. "I'm making spicy chicken wraps. What does it look like?"She stiffened but tried to hold her ground as Theon approached, aware of what was coming. He'd place a hand on her neck and gently squeeze, maintaining constant pressure that became too much to bear. Eventually, the pain would be too great, and she would apologize for fear of having her collarbone crushed."No, no, no," she argued, feeling his bony fingers poke at her. He'd never hurt her, not intentionally, but he didn't let her 'sass' him, as he put it."What's with this attitude? Hmm?" he asked. "Don't you know you're talking to the Alpha Prime?""Sorry, Sir," she uttered, rolling her eyes. She turned to face him, slipping away from his grasp. "I'm proud of you. Really. I'm making dinner to celebrate.""Hmm." Theon flashed
Jade smiled, hoping Katie would be happy to hear the news, but something told her the situation was bound to become strained. Haley had always welcomed her presence, but she sensed a prickle of jealousy from Katie, as though she wanted Haley all for herself."Wow, you and Theon?" Katie's eyes widened. "I never pictured you two together in a million years.""Seriously?" Haley cried. "I've been sensing the sexual tension between that pair for years.""Oh," Haley cried, looking down at her phone. "They're throwing a party tonight to celebrate Theon's leadership.""Oh geez, that's cringy." Katie rolled her eyes. "What are they going to do, change the name on the banner from Jason to Theon?"Jade laughed. Katie might be a bit thorny at times, but she never failed to brighten her mood with her sarcastic insights.She felt herself stiffen as the males de
Haley watched as Katie pulled the clothes from the pile she'd provided, desperate to find something that would grab Delvin's attention.Devlin. Bloody Devlin. He was all she heard about lately. It had gotten to the point where Haley was sick of hearing the name. Yes, he was unusually attractive with his icy eyes and little beauty spot, and he did seem like an interesting guy...'Oh geez, don't tell me it's rubbing off on me?' Haley panicked quietly. She tried to push his image out of her brain as Katie prattled on about how evil Theon was for standing in the way of her love life."He touched my hand. I told you, right?" Katie looked up at her.Haley nodded. She'd only told her seventeen times."I mean, I'm not crazy," Katie went on. "Why would he do that if he didn't like me back?""I don't know," Haley said evenly as she pick
Katie breathed deeply as she exited the hall, letting the cold air fill her lungs. It hurt, but the pain didn't match the feeling inside.'Why is this happening?'she asked herself.A couple kissing on the steps ignored her as she sank to the floor beside them, unable to hold herself up. The hormones of the entwined couples overwhelming lust wafted up to her nose, making her feel so much worse.'Why can't it ever be me?'she wondered.'What is so wrong with me? I just want to be consumed by an overpowering feeling of love that isn't so freaking unrequited.'The mixture of loneliness, jealousy and despair churned in her stomach, making her physically sick."Ahhhhh!" she cried out loud, earning her a funny look from the couple who scarpered soon after. Somehow, sitting on the step by herself wasn't any better.<