” I know , it’s insane . ” Breyona’s laugh was breathless and just a bit choked up as she wiped the tears
from her eyes . Staring off into the forest , her voice unnaturally soft she said , ” I never thought I’d be
able t o feel that kind of freedom again …. it’s like -it’s like I can breathe again . ” >>
” Breyona , I don’t know why they did that … but there’s no way they won’t want something in return . ” I
wasn’t sure what made my chest ache more , warning my best – friend her dream come true might
actually be a nightmare , or seeing the denial bleed across her face when I continued carefully , ” I’m just
worried they’ll take back what they gave you in the first place …
” I didn’t want to say it , but she wasn’t giving me a choice . There was stubborn refusal in her warm
hazelnut eyes , but I knew no matter how miserable she was without her wolf , she’d be worse off
without Giovanni . ” … Giovanni’s life . ” I murmured and watched as the iron bars of resolution
slammed down over her eyes .
” No , that’s not it . ” Breyona stood from the patio chair but made no move to head inside . Frustration
was written across every corner of her face and was obvious in the semi – aggressive way she pulled
her hair back . ” So I’m not a witch , but that doesn’t mean my gut feelings can’t be right too .
Well , right now mine is telling me they wouldn’t take my wolf and save Gio’s life , only to return her and
finish the job . ” I wanted to reassure her , but the only thing I felt was worried , both for her and Giovanni
. ” Why can’t I just have both ? ” Her voice cracked , and she clenched her hands into fists while letting
out a shaky breath . Devastation still shimmered in her eyes , but she held it down so well . ” Let’s – let’s
just drop it for tonight , okay ? I know we can’t ignore it forever …
but if I could just have these few days with Gio . We can figure out what to do when I come back . ” Just
from watching her pull the splintered shards of emotion from her skin and patch herself together , I
realized I might’ve not given my best – friend enough credit . Not once had she faltered a t my side ,
even though she was going through so much herself . Instead she kept her problems to herself , even
though a subtle feeling told me she’d been drowning in them .
Feeling like a monumentally crappy friend I stood and wrapped my arms around her waist , which I was
sure looked comical since I was nearly a foot shorter than her . Sure enough , she began to chuckle , but
I could hear the sniffling it covered . Watching the happiness that had just been rekindled fade in her
eyes had a sobering affect .
” We’re going to make sure you can have both , Breyona . I’ll use every bit of magic I have to make sure
of it . ” I promised , cracking a grin at her brave nod and the way she hastily wiped at her eyes . Minutes
later , Cassidy eagerly interrupted with news about her lacrosse player ex boyfriend , Kendrick . With
gossip and a rapidly cooling pizza waiting , Breyona and I raced back inside .
While we stuffed our faces with pizza from the small parlor down the street , Cassidy told us all about her
whirlwind romance with Kendrick – which seemed more fueled by lust than anything else . Breyona
wrinkled her nose at my slice of Hawaiian every other minute , but otherwise was absorbed in every
seedy detail of Cassidy’s story .
” My mom was absolutely against Kendrick from the start , despite what she says . It took her almost a
year just to get over the fact that I wasn’t Asher or Brandon’s mate . ” Cassidy rolled her eyes and let out
a small huff as she tore the crust off her slice of pizza . From what I could tell of her expression , she
looked more exasperated than jealous or longing .
I didn’t have nearly enough to drink to feel comfortable asking my questions outright , but I apparently
Breyona had . ” Did you want to be one of their mates ? ” Her voice grew quieter even though there was
no one in the house to hear us . Any wolves patrolling the grounds would be well out of range , but that
didn’t stop her
from asking it as though it were a secret . She hiccupped once and added , ” … don’t worry , Lola is
freakishly good at not getting jealous . She won’t go all tri – brid o n you for talking about her mate .
” When I snorted in her direction her smile widened . Maya’s tail swished in my head , letting me know
how wrong our endearing friend was about us not getting jealous . ” I’ve definitely thought about how
incredible it would be to be Luna , but at this point being mated to one of them would feel like being
mated to a brother .
” Cassidy wrinkled her nose , creasing some of the freckles splattered along its slim surface . ” I think our
parents expected it because of how persistent I was back then . The minute I saw Brandon and Asher
wrestling in the dirt , rougher than all the other kids , I knew I wanted to be best friends . ” The ease at
which she spoke dissolved the tension in the room .
If there was any hesitance on her end , I couldn’t sense it . M y relationship with Asher and the titles I’d
been given didn’t affect the things she said , or the way she treated me . It was refreshing and eased the
rest of the trepidation I had towards Cassidy . ‘ Asher said himself , he’s never even kissed her . Which
means there’s no reason to be jealous .
‘ I reminded my wolf , who at times could be much more hot headed and stubborn than myself . A
contemplative look forced her lower lip out in a pout , which lasted but a few seconds . ” I’m sure my
mom won’t hate Kendrick this time around . Hm , I might just cancel my date with Lars . Kendrick has a
game out of town that day anyway , and I’m nothing if not persistent – which means I have to go too ,
especially if there’s a good afterparty .
” Clara’s pretty persistent with Mason … Breyona pointed out , folding a slice in half before taking a large
bite . I tried to wait patiently as she chewed , but I was already hooked . ” … but I don’t think it’s
friendship she’s after . ” ” What do you think she’s after ? ” I asked before Cassidy got the chance , and
noticed I was the only one of us to appear worried .
Understanding in the form of a cringe slapped me across the face when Breyona leaned in and said , ”
His di- ” ” Wow , okay . Um , are you sure ? How do you know ? ” Even though heat blossomed across
my face , I pursed my lips and waited for an answer . ” Mason stepped out of training to take a call from
her right when I walked in the building . ” She smirked tipsily , gently waving her uneaten slice of pizza
around a s she talked .
” Naturally , I harassed him until he told me everything . She’s been asking Asher for him for days now ,
but Mason keeps refusing . Well , one of Mason’s patrol buddies was given guard duty and she used her
taser magic and knocked him right out . Took his phone right out of his pocket and called Mason with it
… ” ” No way , she sounds like a total badass . Taser magic ? Goddess sign me up ! ” Cassidy exploded
in warm laughter , the sound light and airy .
” That’s not even the best part … ” Breyona shook her head , making her messy bun grow loose . ” She
tied some of the bedsheets together at the hotel and wrapped them around his waist . Mason got to the
hotel and found his friend hanging off the third – floor balcony . Which I know sounds dangerous , but his
friend had already woken up at that point . The only reason he hadn’t gotten himself down was because
Clara threatened to zap him again … and apparently a second zap s o soon after the first does
something to the bowels and you just sh- ” ” It sounds like she just likes pissing him off .
” I replied , lifting my eyebrow in her direction . ” … also , how does Mason feel about it ? ” ” Yeah , she
likes pissing him off the same way you like pissing Asher off . ” The cheeky grin that stretched across her
face grew wider , because she knew she’d won this round . ” As for Mason , he was blushing the entire
time he ranted about her .
” Really , you think he likes her back ? ” I couldn’t help the surprise that popped into my voice .
Werewolves who found love after surviving the death of their mates were rare . Mason had a better
chance than most since he hadn’t completed his bond , but that didn’t lessen the pain of knowing your
soulmate had left this world and moved on to the next .
” I think he’s attracted to her , which he’d b e an idiot not to be , but I think he doesn’t really know what to
do with the attention . Luckily , like I said … she’s persistent . She’ll find some way to get them alone
together and push his buttons , just like you and Asher- ” Hey , I was never the one to get him alone ‘
remember ? He was the one stalking me .
” I said shrewdly , letting out a sound o f exasperation when she and Cassidy collapsed in laughter ,
sputtering snippets of conversation in between their snorts and wheezes . As both she – wolves
succumbed to laughter and pawed at the tears budding i n their eyes , my thoughts darted to Mason and
the curvy exotic dancer who apparently had a thing for him .
There weren’t any flashes of fear or other gruesome emotions warning me about the young witch , only a
healthy dose of suspicion which was far less than Asher’s regular everyday amount . I returned to the
conversation just as the two had pulled themselves together . Cassidy was pouring herself another shot ,
while Breyona grabbed a few containers of ice cream from the freezer .
” We’re just teasing … ” Cassidy giggled and tossed back the strong – scented liquor . Her perfect pout
remained in place even though I knew her throat must be burning . ” … I think every she – wolf dreams
of meeting her mate that way . It’s just so strange seeing Asher wrapped around someone’s finger with
how untouchable he can be .
” ” Those are the best ones though . ” Breyona sighed , plopping down with a pint of mint chocolate chip
– the worst ice cream flavor to grace this planet . ” The men that act all tough and brooding , but secretly
they want you more than you could ever imagine . Mason’s getting the brooding part down , especially
since meeting Clara . I think things between them would be … explosive . He just has to stop being so
stubborn . “
She giggled at her choice of words , undoubtedly comparing it to Clara’s magical abilities . That night ,
after finishing two containers of ice cream and suffering through a long winded romantic comedy we
ended up hating halfway through , I stared at the ceiling in my bedroom and thought of Mason . It didn’t
matter how much time had passed , only that I was responsible for the death of his mate .
There was no telling what could have changed with time – if she would’ve left her Vampire spouse to
follow the bond that tugged at her soul . I’d taken that choice from her , and that future from Mason . The
gentle and repetitive sound of Breyona’s snoring had yet to lull me to sleep , so I wasted the time
conjuring ways to get Mason and Clara alone together .
Most of them were juvenile , like having Asher assign Mason as her personal trainer . It wasn’t too far –
fetched since Clara knew absolutely nothing about defending herself without magic , but he’d see
through me in a second if I were the one to give the order .
Someway somehow , they would find themselves alone together , I was sure of i t . Even more so , If
Breyona were right and the spark between them mirrored Asher and I’s , it would only be a matter of time
before they both caught flame .
I wanted this desperately for Mason , for him to have some fraction of his happiness restored – some
shred of peace reclaimed since his reason for existing had been so cruelly ripped away . Exhaustion was
weighing down my eyes and pulling me into its deep abyss when m y heart skipped a beat and a jolt
spread throughout my chest .
Though the feeling was abrupt , there was no stopping myself from tumbling over the edge . Right before
plummeting , I wondered if it were my thoughts about Mason or something else entirely that caused my
elusive magic to crackle down my nerve endings , and even more so I wondered what it meant .