– Asher would’ve k****d him on the spot with only my word as evidence. That was how
much he trusted me, how much he wanted to protect me.
The gut-feeling twisting and tearing into my stomach like razor blades was telling me to scream for my
mate-or worse, tear Lars’s throat out myself.
I had to keep my cool, especially at a bake sale for a girl who had just been m******d. There was no
way I could cause a scene. I couldn’t accuse Lars of something like this with nothing more than a hazy
memory of black boots and a gut-feeling that set off a symphony of alarms in my head.
His lips curved up in an amused smile, which was my only warning that I had taken too long to answer.
Keeping my eyes on his face and not on his boots was excruciating, but I wasn’t sure if he had seen me
look the first time.
If this gut-feeling of mine was correct-which both witches said it would be, then that meant Lars was
connected to all of this. Perhaps he was a puppet and not in league with the master herself. As hard as I
tried, I couldn’t figure out what purpose a werewolf would have in helping the witches.
All the witches I had encountered were women. I wasn’t even sure if men could be witches. That made
things a bit more confusing.
“Oh–that sounds fun!” I covered my croak with a laugh that probably sounded a little too chipper.
Breyona noticed and gave me a funny look that I promptly ignored. “I’ll make sure Asher tags along since
parties aren’t really his thing, so feel free to spread the word.”
“Awesome, will do.” He grinned and put his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. I watched his eyes
roam just above my head, scanning the crowd of people around us.
“Looking for someone?” I asked, easing the suspicion out of my voice before it revealed itself. I wasn’t
usually this tactless, but the sight of his boots caught me off guard.
“You seen Cassidy anywhere?” He asked, and his answer caught me off guard. I hadn’t expected him to
be looking for the cheerful blonde who keyed his motorcycle. His lopsided grin told me he saw the
skepticism in my eyes, so he raised his hands in surrender. “…hey, we talked it out, I swear! I actually got
a date with her coming up, and I’m pretty excited. Anyway, I’m gonna go track her down. Thanks for
helping me out, Luna! I won’t forget it!”
“If Cassidy didn’t strike me as the type of she-wolf to throttle a man, I might just be worried for her.”
Breyona shook her head but paused when she realized I wasn’t listening. I felt her touch my arm but
couldn’t tear my eyes away from where Lars vanished into the crowd. “…you alright, Lola?”
“Remember how you told me to let you know if I had any of those gut feelings?” I frowned, looking away
even though something in the pits of my stomach whispered, ‘follow him’.
Asher was far enough away that I caught glimpses of him in between the crowds of people walking in
every direction. Grandma was talking his head off, but I couldn’t hear what was being said with
everything else going on.
“Oh, goddess–how bad is it?” She paled; any playfulness left drained from her voice.
“You can’t tell Asher…” I murmured even though I was positive he couldn’t hear. “…promise me.”
Her face took on the color of chalk, but she nodded, “…you know this is technically treason, right?”
“Not if it’s the Luna asking you to keep the secret. Besides, I’ll tell him. I just want to make sure I’m right
before pointing any fingers. You know Asher won’t hesitate to k**l him off my word alone, especially since
he’s been on edge lately. That won’t make things better, it’ll just stir the pot.” I sighed and pinched the
bridge of my nose.
When had things become so complicated? I hated keeping this from Asher, but I knew how driven he
could be by his instincts. It seemed to happen more frequently lately, but it made sense with everything
going on. We were both taking Carson’s d***h personally, and we were worried the witches would strike
I told Breyona about the scuffed boots and the feeling I had that twisted my stomach into knots. A flutter
of appreciation took off in my chest because the look on her face wasn’t skeptical, it was worried.
“Figure this out and tell Asher …and don’t go off on your own looking for answers.” Her sharp features
softened, only partially hiding the flash of pain in her eyes. “…you can always call me to come with you…
if someone else isn’t available.”
Someone else, someone who could shift.
From the distant look in her eyes, I knew she was thinking back to when she had truly been whole. Even
though I saw the explosion of happiness on her face every time Giovanni stepped into her line of view, I
knew she’d always long for that missing piece of herself.
Only in her memory could she taste and feel the cold waters of the streams we would stop and drink at,
inhaling the air of the forest-taking in the beautifully harsh world around us. Forever trapped reliving the
bliss of the wind rushing through her thick fur, of her feet thundering against the ground as her muscles
burned and her senses sharpened.
“I promise, I’ll call you.” I told her, silently hoping it wouldn’t come to that-but there was no way I’d let it
‘She already feels weak–her wolf is on edge from being trapped…our kind isn’t meant to live like this.’
Maya whined, flattening her ears.
‘Other than make another deal with the shadows, there’s nothing I can do for her.’ I replied, and the
words broke my heart.
As if she could see my internal battle, Breyona changed the subject to something both lighter and
“Is that her?” She gasped, leaning in to whisper in my ear. “…the woman with your dad, is that his
I had called Breyona late that night to give her a rundown of everything that happened. She answered
the phone bubbly but out of breath and spent the hour gasping as I told her about Brandon kidnapping
me from the c***h.
“That’s her…” I nodded, but my eyes didn’t move from my dad. “…her name is Flora.”
“Flora…she’s very beautiful.” Breyona’s voice softened as she said her name.
While I watched the middle-aged werewolf with thick salt and pepper hair, his flannel ironed and jeans
unstained, Breyona watched the woman. Her honey blonde hair was curled at the ends, and her soft
figure was an hourglass in the sundress she was wearing.
They stood at booths directly across from one another, their backs turned as they faced the display
cases. College students wandered down the pathway in between them. Both had their eyes on
everything but one another yet gravitated closer and closer.
The one dad stopped at was selling cupcakes by the dozen. He looked down at the rows of heavily
frosted cake, but really he was listening to what Flora was saying to the vendor of a macaron booth just
ten feet away.
“He doesn’t even like cupcakes.” I snorted quietly. Breyona’s lips twitched and she glanced my way with
a budding grin on her face.
“It’s not right for us to eavesdrop on your dad…” She whispered, not even attempting to look away. When
Flora finished her purchase and turned around, she sucked in a harsh breath. “…forget what I said, I’m
not missing this.”
Dad’s back was turned, but I saw the way his shoulders stiffened when Flora turned around. He could
feel her eyes on him just as I felt Asher’s. His movements were awkward as he quickly pointed to a
cupcake and fished some ones out of his pocket.
Breyona squealed and quickly clamped her hands over her mouth when Flora took a step towards him.
She stood in the middle of the gravel pathway. Groups of students and kids parted around her, paying no
attention to the woman whose hand trembled as she lifted it. It hovered there as though she might tap
him on the shoulder.
Breyona and I were holding our breaths, our faces turning pink as we waited Somehow, I knew dad was
holding his breath too.
“Oh, no…” Breyona whispered, slowly lowering her hands from her mouth.
Flora lowered her arm, the momentary look of curiosity drained from her face. Indecision and fear
replaced it, smothered it until she took a few steps backwards and vanished with the crowd.
Dad’s shoulders fell, and he turned around to stare at the space she’d been standing seconds ago.
“…do you think your mom would be angry at him—for noticing her?” She asked the question that was
currently running laps in my dad’s head, and quickly her eyes beginning to water.
Dad hadn’t wanted to come to the séance. He claimed his presence would be a distraction, and that the
questions he had would take hours to answer. Even then, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know the truth.
The only thing he asked of me was not to mention him to mom.
I couldn’t go against his wishes. Not when I saw past the unbreakable strength in his eyes to the pain he
hid from the world, but I also couldn’t stand to see him miss this chance at happiness.
“No, I don’t think she would be.” I replied, my chest sinking as dad tossed the cupcake into the nearest
trashcan and stalked off in the opposite direction. “…when I was a kid-before I knew they weren’t mates,
I always thought there was something weird about them…I saw how your parents were with each other,
but mine never acted that way. I always thought they treated one another like…like friends.”
“Your parents loved each other. He wouldn’t be so torn up about noticing Flora if he didn’t love your
mom.” Breyona frowned.
“They did, and I know dad still loves her…” I replied, looping an arm through hers as I steered us in the
direction of the car. Grandma and Asher spotted us as we walked down the gravel pathway, their faces lit
with the same warm emotion. “…but there are different kinds of love.”