Wicked Wolves and Tangled Truths
“Isabella, you’re going to be late for school.” Natalia calls out. I sigh and ignore her. She won’t think anything of it. She’s done her job and informed me of the time, as I’m sure my father instructed her to do. My father. Thinking of Brian Kline as anything aside from an absolute and total stranger just feels … wrong.
A father is family. He’s someone you run to when you’re hurt or scared. But Brian doesn’t feel like family. He doesn’t feel safe. He isn’t Pack.
He smells… like cigars and leather shoe polish. It’s far from comforting.
Had you told me three months ago I’d be leaving my Pack behind to live with humans and attend Hellbound High—a public school whose sole purpose is to integrate supernatural students from different factions with humans—I’d have called you a liar.
Yet here I am.
I worry my bottom lip and stare at my reflection in the floor-length mirror, bracing myself for what will be my first day at a new school, in a new town, with a new family, and for the first time in my life, without the support of a Pack. Because clearly, my life isn’t hard enough.
Tears prick my eyes, but I blink hard to clear them. Come on, Isa. Hold it together. I refuse to cry. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not again. My wolf is a silent presence in the back of my mind, radiating comfort, I remind myself I’m not alone. Not completely.
I’ll always have my wolf. That part of me that is stronger and more resilient than my human self.
Sucking in a shuddering breath, I take in my appearance. I look okay, I guess. Except the girl staring back at me is nothing like the Isabella Romero I’ve been the past seventeen years. She looks preppier. Richer. Honestly, the girl staring back at me looks like a stuck-up bitch from the human world and I hate it.
But this is my life now.
I’m wearing a pair of white skinny jeans that are all but painted onto my body and a soft pink floral top. It has sheer flowing sleeves and exposes a thin strip of my tanned midriff. It’s beyond feminine. If my best friend Josué could see me now, he’d probably keel over laughing like the hyena he is.
This is not my look. I mean, it’s all too light. Too bright. There is no way I’d be able to hide dirt or blood in this.
Not that anyone here cares. Brian is human. He has no idea what it’s like to be a shifter. What it’s like to be a wolf. If he did, he wouldn’t have forced me to come live with him. He’d have realized how important it was to belong to a Pack. Especially after … I shake the thoughts away.
Back home, I’d wear Pack sweats, a worn and faded tee, and a pair of black sneakers. White if I felt like being fancy that day. I’d toss my hair into a messy bun and skip putting on a lick of makeup. No one there cared what I looked like. I was Pack. That was all that mattered.
But last week when I met my bio-dad, he took one look at me in his polished five-piece gray suit and disgust quickly curled his upper lip. Being a tomboy was unacceptable. I was pretty sure he didn’t approve of me being a shapeshifter either but it’s not like he could change that. My wolf and I were a bit of a package deal.
All of my personal belongings were left back in Arizona. Brian’s assistant, Natalia, took it upon herself to give my wardrobe a complete overhaul, claiming I needed a fresh start, and Brian happily agreed with her, refusing to let me bring anything with me beyond the bare essentials. Which pretty much meant the clothes on my back and a toothbrush.
I live in Texas now. I hate Texas. And okay, maybe I was being a bit harsh on the state as a whole, but I was like a fish out of water. Or more accurately, a wolf out of her forest. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest to be exact.
El Paso, Texas, is nothing but desert. It’s dry, hot, and a long eight-hour drive from home. My real home.
But again, no one here cares. They don’t get it. And worse, they don’t care. I have no Pack. No mom. No place to run and let my wolf run free.
You are the daughter of Brian Kline, not some filthy animal in the woods. That’s what he said when I brought up needing somewhere to shift and run.
I bite down on my bottom lip, fighting the urge to scream.
Brian is a prominent member of his community. He is a businessman. He drives a flashy car, waves around his excessive amounts of money, and likes to pretend his perfect little life doesn’t include magic, vampires, or werewolf daughters.
Until a week ago, I’d been his estranged and forgotten daughter.
Not since my mom died.
I rub at the ache in my chest. Why didn’t you warn me about him, Mom? Why did you keep him a secret?
You’d think given everything I’ve been through, the guy would cut me some slack. He’d … I don’t know, try and get to know me.
I huff out a breath and try to squelch the flicker of hurt inside my chest. Mom can’t answer my questions. She’s dead and I’m here.
Emotion clogs my throat.
Dammit. I shouldn’t care if I’m not good enough for the guy. I’m here. That means something, right? I mean, he technically fought to get me here.
Brian could have left me back in Star Valley, Arizona. I could have spent the remainder of my senior year as a ward of the Pack. Though, if I’m being entirely honest with myself, I would have preferred it. I need a Pack. There, I’d have Josué and Damien and Kai—my friends—people who actually care about me. I’d have my Alpha. My Clan.
But minors don’t get a say in these kinds of things. My Alpha— Emmett Quinn—fought to keep me. He tried explaining to Brian why I should stay in Star Valley. Gave him all the assurances in the world that I’d be well cared for. But in the end, Brian was blood. And I guess it’s true what they say. Blood is thicker than water. Emmett didn’t have a leg to stand on once Brian decided I was going home with him.
If Mom were here, she’d tell me to be strong. To be brave. She should be here. But she isn’t, so I need to be brave on my own.
Alrighty then. I can do that.
What alternative do I have?
Natalia picked out my first-day-of-school outfit. It feels weird. Going to school. I know humans do this, but Pack education was always done at the Compound. I never went somewhere else to learn about English or mathematics. The entire concept seems foreign. But today will be my first day at Hellbound High.
I hate the outfit. The wardrobe. The makeup and perfumes that itch the inside of my nose and irritate my wolf senses. But when I hinted that it isn’t really my style, Natalia scowled as if I’d offended her and then proceeded to remind me that I need to let go of my past and embrace my new life.
She hadn’t meant to hurt me with her words. At least, I don’t think she did. Natalia doesn’t strike me as a cruel person. But she thinks my life before the here and now is beneath me. Beneath the Kline name. Neither she nor Brian do a good job hiding their disdain for all things paranormal, and after she told me how lucky I am to be reunited with my father and went on and on with her assumptions about how horrible growing up must have been—living with a Pack of wolves—I decided it was easier to just go along and not rock the boat.
I’m seventeen so I’ll be starting school as a senior. I’ll be eighteen soon and after graduation, I can go back to my old life. I can leave this house. This town. These people.
I’ll go back to my Pack and then I can grieve.
I leave my long, dark brown hair down, using the flat iron Natalia gave me to straighten it into sleek, glossy strands before applying a hint of makeup.
I need to make a great first impression. Urgh. As if I care what any of these people think of me. This isn’t me, and while I hate that, I also know I don’t really want to be me right now. I don’t want to be the girl who lost her mom to a freak run-in with a troll. The girl whose boyfriend dumped her the same night when she caught him sharing skin privileges with another Packmate. Oh, and did I mention he screwed around with my one and only female friend? The jerk cheated on me. With her. And then he had the audacity to dump me.
Now, I get to go to a weird hybrid school and live with a parent I barely know who’s doing his damndest to pretend my wolf doesn’t exist. The cherry on top of the sundae that is my life.
My shoulders slump. I grab my new, pale pink backpack—so not my color—and pull on a pair of strappy sandals. They’re so not practical. No way they’ll last. One unplanned shift and they’ll be shredded. With sneakers I can slip my feet out quickly if I’m in a pinch and need to shift. These have so many ties and buckles they’re like Fort Knox refusing to give up my feet.
A sigh escapes me. I know I should be grateful. They’re nice. But all the money and high-end stuff makes me uncomfortable. I didn’t have stuff like this growing up. Mom was a single mom. She worked two jobs to make ends meet and while the Pack looked out for us, we were still responsible for our own finances. We had a roof over our heads and food on the table, but we didn’t have money pouring out for frivolous things like over-priced shoes that were easily ruined.
I head out of my room, jogging down the stairs on silent feet. Two of the steps creak, but I know which ones they are and easily skip over them. Natalia stands by the marble island, a wide smile on her face and no Brian in sight. She hands me a travel mug. “Here, darling. I made you some coffee. We need to get going so you’re not late for your first day.”
I accept the drink knowing she doesn’t realize shifter metabolism burns through caffeine too quick for it to make a difference to my morning. Back home, I’d make café de olla. A spiced coffee sweetened with piloncillo. But I only drank it for the flavor.
I follow her, scanning the room as I take a sip of the sickly sweet coffee. Yuck. I would have settled for a cup of black coffee and I’m tempted to pour it out and grab a fresh cup. But I don’t. That would be rude.
Natalia sees my wandering gaze and answers my unspoken question. “Your father is at the office already. His schedule is pretty full and your arrival wasn’t”—she pauses—“planned.”
I press my lips into a thin line. No, it certainly wasn’t. I bet he loved getting that particular phone call from social services. I’d stayed with Josué’s parents the first week after Mom died while they confirmed my paternity. Dear old Dad had to be sure. I’d hoped to stay with my best friend through my senior year; Josué’s parents had been on board with the idea and while we weren’t in the same Clan, their Alpha was willing to make an exception until I hit eighteen. Then I could move into my own Clan house. But as soon as the test came back confirming Brian Kline is my father, that option was thrown out the window.
He wanted me. So, there’s that, I remind myself again. I am wanted. Though, he’s yet to act like it.
Outside, I climb into Natalia’s little white sports car. It sits ridiculously low to the ground. I don’t know how much Brian pays her to be his personal assistant, but it must be a lot if she can afford this. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s more than his assistant based on the few times I’ve seen them together. There’s always this subtle sense of desire between them which, one, ew. Because the guy is my dad. And two, how cliché. Did he have to go for his secretary? He could have mixed it up at least and gone for his accountant.
Brian is fifty-two and Natalia is young enough to be my big sister. But who am I to judge?
Up until a week ago, I didn’t even know I had a dad. I mean, obviously I knew someone contributed to me being born and all that, but I didn’t know he was out there. That he knew about me. I kinda assumed he was dead if I’m being honest with myself. Shifters don’t abandon their pups. It just wasn’t done.
Mom never talked about him and I wasn’t one of those kids who felt like I was missing a piece of myself without a dad. She’d always been enough, and I had my Pack.
Tears sting the backs of my eyes as I push my old memories away.
It takes twenty minutes to get to Hellbound High. Natalia rambles on about nonsense and I tune her out for most of the drive. Pulling into the school parking lot, her sports car sticks out like a sore thumb and all eyes turn toward us as she parks. I swallow hard and rush to unbuckle. She puts the car in park as though she plans to come in with me. “I’ll be fine,” I assure her. “I’m a big girl.” I grab my bag, purposefully leaving behind the coffee, and rush to open the door.
“But it’s your first day. I can walk you in. I’m sure there’s paperwork and—”
“It’s okay. I got it.” I don’t miss the gazes of the students passing by. Some are curious but most look annoyed. I don’t want that annoyance to morph into disdain. And I don’t want to get labeled as a snob. The cards are already stacked against me being a transfer and a lone wolf.
I’d tried convincing Brian to let me reach out to the Southwest Pack and see if they’d accept me but he refused to allow any contact with the local Pack, stating he’d worked out an agreement with their Alpha. I have no idea what that entailed. Most Packs would never allow a lone wolf so close to their territory and I told Brian as much, but he was adamant it’d been taken care of.
With the Pack off the table, I’d had to beg Brian to let me attend Hellbound High. He wanted me to attend Hillcrest Academy. The top private school in the area. A human-only high school. He thought I could blend in. Suppress my wolf. I made sure to educate him on that front. There is no hiding the fact I am a shifter and I refuse to even try. I am proud of who and what I am. Even if he isn’t.
Even knowing that, getting him to agree to this stupid school was still like pulling teeth. He’d even considered hiring private tutors and having me homeschooled.
I shudder. The isolation of it all would have driven me crazy.
“Are you sure? Your father wouldn’t be happy if—”
“I’m good. Promise.” I slam the door behind me, not giving her the chance to comment further, and rush across the parking lot to the school’s front entrance. A large red devil mascot stares down at me.
Welcome to Hellbound High, home of the Devils.
I pass through the open doors, a sense of foreboding washing over me, but I quash it.
I’ll be okay.
Mom was strong. I can be strong, too.
I just have to take things one day at a time.
The school had been informed of my arrival late last week, so they had everything ready for me. I got my schedule from the school counselor—a Druid, Mr. Rourke—along with a few forms he said I’d need to take home and bring back with Brian’s signature. I got my locker assignment and combination, though I have no intention of using it. I’ll lug my books in my backpack between classes rather than dropping them off in my locker to save on time.
Hellbound High is on a trimester system, so I only have four classes. English, Calculus, Spanish 4, and The Natural History of the Unnatural World. Calc will kick my butt. Math has never been my strong suit. But the rest of my classes should be easy enough to get caught up on. A mix of the mundane and paranormal. Back in Arizona, school is different. There’s no mixing between factions but we still learn the basics: English, math, science, American history, though from a shifter’s perspective, not the inaccurate version humans learn.
“Your, umm, Natalia informed me of your … situation,” Mr. Rourke says, a sympathetic frown tugging at his features. “If you need to talk to anyone, my office door is always open.”
Always the diligent assistant. Natalia has taken care of everything, including airing my business. Wonderful.
“Thanks.” I nod, not that I have any plans of taking him up on the offer. Mr. Rourke seems nice enough. He’s younger than most of the faculty I’ve seen so far. Late twenties, maybe early thirties. Though you can never be one hundred percent sure when it comes to Druids. Magic has a way of altering its user. Sometimes for better. Sometimes for worse.
He has reddish brown hair and dark blue eyes. He’s attractive enough and carries an easy smile. But I don’t need a shoulder to cry on. Least of all a stranger’s. I haven’t bothered to confide in my new dad. Why on earth would I confide in him?
The warning bell rings, signaling first period is about to start. I stand up to leave, tucking my schedule into the front pocket of my pants. Before I can make it out of his office, a boy slips into the room on silent feet and a wolfish smirk on his face. One quick whiff and I know he’s a wolf.
I stand a little bit taller.
The boy tilts his head toward Mr. Rourke in greeting before plopping down in the chair I just vacated, not bothering to spare me a glance.
Rude. But, that’s okay. I’m the new girl. Maybe he hasn’t realized I’m a wolf, too.
No. That can’t be right.
I knew within seconds. There’s no way he could have missed my scent.
Maybe Hellbound High is like those high schools on TV where everyone has their core group of friends and they all hate outsiders. Or maybe it has something to do with me being a lone wolf. I’m not sure. Hellbound High being a hybrid school—society’s way of trying to blend the human world and the paranormal—you’d think people would be more welcoming. There are a few schools like it around the states but for the most part, we all stick to our own kind. Which doesn’t explain why this wolf would ignore me when I’m a wolf, too.
Hellbound High is a melting pot of factions. A way to see just how likely it is that we can coexist. I haven’t interacted much with anyone from other factions. At least, not in a friendly manner. But the alternative is hiding what I am and going to school with the humans. Hard pass.
Here, I have a chance of interacting with other wolves. Though I guess I should give up the hope of a welcome reception. At least I have Josué, Damien, and Kai back in Star Valley, Arizona. I don’t plan on sticking around long once I graduate, so if he and the rest of the shifters here want to snub me, fine.
“Mr. Castillo. To what do I owe the pleasure?” Mr. Rourke says in a stern tone, but I don’t miss the slight curve to his mouth. I know right away that this guy, Castillo, is one of those kids who spends a lot of time in the office. There’s an air of smug hostility about him common in young shifter males still testing their dominance, but Mr. Rourke doesn’t seem bothered by it. He seems … amused.
When the boy finally looks my way, he gives me a slow once-over before his upper lip curls in disgust. He mutters, “Chiflada,” under his breath with a roll of his pretty brown eyes.
“Hey!” I snap. He doesn’t know me, and I don’t care how cute he is, I am not a spoiled brat.
He sneers at me, exposing a flash of fang that my instincts know is more threat than smile, and turns back to Mr. Rourke, a bored look plastered on his face.
“Rafael.” There is a warning in there, but the boy doesn’t seem to care.
Mr. Rourke waits.
My cheeks heat and I’m practically vibrating with irritation.
“What? Look at her.” Rafael shrugs. “Just calling it like I see it.”
I bite my bottom lip to keep from snapping at him again before turning to leave. I don’t need this.
So much for making friends with the locals.
“Ms. Kline,” Mr. Rourke calls out.
I freeze. “That’s not my name.” There’s a bite in my tone I hadn’t intended but what I said is true. Kline isn’t my name. Brian wants me to take his last name. He’s some hotshot in town and thinks it will help open doors for me, but I don’t want it. I’ve been Isabella Romero—Isa for short—for the last seventeen years. I have zero plans of changing that.
Rafael’s brows lift, sudden interest sparking over our exchange.
“My apologies. Isabella.”
“Isa,” I correct again.
He grimaces and tilts his head toward the guy. “Isa, this is Rafael. He’s a senior, and a shifter, like you. He also happens to have first period English.” And I’m supposed to care why? “He’ll show you to your first class and help you settle in. Think of him as your guide for the week.”
My mouth drops open and I don’t miss the look he directs at Rafael. This isn’t optional for him. I gape at Mr. Rourke before finding my words. “No, thanks. I’m fine.” I try to wave him off.
He releases a sigh and leans back in his chair, ignoring me completely. His eyes train on Rafael who still has that bored expression on his face. “You here because you stirred up trouble again?”
Rafael shrugs. “Maybe.”
I roll my eyes. He’s totally one of those guys. Broad shoulders, a muscular build. I can see the hint of a tattoo peeking out of the collar of his shirt, too, and I cringe, knowing what he had to go through to get his skin to accept the ink without the Lyc-V in his system forcing it out.
He’s a bad boy and he makes sure everyone knows it. Even his teachers. I wonder how the school handles violence here. Back home, everyone stayed in line because we had Pack hierarchy to fall back on. Here … I shake my head. This is going to be a nightmare to navigate and I do not have time for a guy like him.
Mr. Rourke smiles. “Well then, rather than the usual detention, you’ll have the pleasure of showing Isa around and helping her feel welcome. She’s new to Hellbound High and doesn’t know anyone. Be a model student for once and help the girl out.”
“I’m good,” Rafael says. “I’ll take the detention.”
Mr. Rourke folds his arms across his chest and raises a single brow. “You sure about that? You signed the code of conduct agreement just like every other student here. This is your third visit to my office this month which means you’ll get a full week of detention instead of the usual one day. You’ll miss a week’s worth of Pack duties…,” he trails off and levels Rafael with a knowing look.
Rafael curses. “That’s bullshit.” He shoots out of his chair and instinctively I brace for a fight. “You can’t do that, Mr. R.”
“It’s out of my hands,” he says, his hands lift in a placating gesture. “You’re the one incapable of keeping your mouth shut. Now, I’m not one to offer alternatives but I don’t want to earn your Alpha’s wrath any more than you do. So, what’ll it be Mr. Castillo? The girl or detention?”
Rafael shoots me a withering glare, his dark brown eyes flashing silver.
“Wait, don’t I get a say in this?” I don’t need the kind of attention this will surely draw. I have every intention of blending in with the crowd. Being a nobody here at Hellbound High. I have a feeling that anyone who associates with this Rafael guy is not going to go by unnoticed. He’s tall, good-looking, and more arrogant than any other guy I’ve had the misfortune of crossing paths with, which can only mean one thing. He’s popular. I don’t do the popular crowd, not even in my own Pack.
“No,” both men say at the same time.
This is so unfair. Why am I being punished for this guy’s attitude?
After several tense seconds, Rafael mutters out a “fine” and storms past me. When I don’t immediately move to follow, he glares back at me from the doorway. “You coming or what? I don’t have all day, vanilla.”
I bite the inside of my cheek but I follow him.
Great. Looks like I’m already off to a great start.
Rourke did me a favor saving me from detention. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. This girl is going to be a pain in my ass, I can already tell. She has fire. She’ll buck against being put in line. I didn’t miss the silver glint in her eyes when I called her a brat. For a young female, she’s no submissive. And for some strange reason, just the idea of going to battle with her brings eager anticipation and a cruel smile to my face. My beast rakes his claws inside me, eager to come out. It’s been too long since I’ve had anyone to toy with who actually presented a challenge.
My pops warned me this morning there’d be a newcomer. But he never mentioned she’d be a wolf. Only that Hellbound High had a shifter transferring in from another Pack and I needed to stay away from her. I hadn’t paid much attention at the time but maybe I should have.
There is no way I’m giving this girl a wide berth. I almost feel sorry for her. Almost. It’s her first day here and I don’t plan on making it easy for her. Like every other student here at Hellbound High, she’ll need to learn her place. At the bottom.
I rule this school. Me and the other Hellbound High wolves—Desmond Pierce and Jordy Salgado. Which is how I know that despite his words, Rourke couldn’t care less if I’m friendly to the girl. The Druid stays out of shifter business. It works in my favor because when she decides she’s had enough and goes crying to his office, he’ll offer her words of comfort and little else. All he cares about—all any of the teachers at this school care about—is whether or not my Pack will keep bankrolling this little experiment of a school.
Hellbound High is funded by four local factions. The Shifters, the Vampires, the Humans, and the Witches. My father is the Southwest Pack Alpha. Piss him off and the Pack pulls out of this project we have going on here.
He already isn’t the biggest fan of it as it is. He’s old school and thinks we should all stay within our own species.
Now, I like to think I’m above such petty bullshit. The concept of an interspecies school is supposed to allow for future collaborations between factions, assuming we make friends and can tolerate each other. Which we don’t. But in theory it can help our Pack in the future. Which is the only reason I agreed to go here.
I won’t fuck that up. Pack always comes first. I’d never jeopardize my people’s future. But I’m not above holding that threat over the Hellbound High faculty. They need me here if they want the Pack on board. If the Pack pulls out, it’s likely the other factions will too. Aside from the vampires, we’re the biggest power player on the board.
We have our own businesses and our own interests. We don’t need to work with the other factions for our survival, much like the vampires, who are here for the same reason we are.
Humans are afraid of us. We’re the scary animals that shift into monsters and, in the vamps’ case, creatures of the night out to drink your blood. Such fucking bullshit. But this is supposed to help with our image and hopefully, smooth over prejudices. We don’t need humans to like us. But it would help if they learned to accept us.
Humans are irrational in the face of their fears which often turns into anger resulting in violence. We’ve already gone through the Awakening—when paranormals made their presence known to the human world and well, let’s just say it didn’t go over well.
War broke out. People died on all sides and in the end, the United States government fell apart and the world fell into anarchy. Things are better now that time has passed. It’s been ten years and the world has slowly picked up the pieces but things still aren’t the same. And places like Hellbound High are supposed to help get things back on track.
I’ve been going here since freshman year. When my father enrolled me, other faction leaders began taking the project seriously and enrolled their kids. As the Alpha’s son, they saw my enrollment as a sign of good faith. It’s also why the wolves get preferential treatment and why, most of the time, teachers turn a blind eye when we mouth off or start a fight. They need my Clan here. Not just my Pack. My Clan.
But Mrs. Ford is the one and only teacher who doesn’t seem to give a fuck about who my father is. I don’t know why she hasn’t been fired yet. She’s a fae and the only one to ever try and call me on my shit. I don’t see her lasting much longer if I have anything to say about it.
Isa’s steps are near silent as she follows me down the hallway to first period English. She looks so fucking innocent as she hugs a textbook to her chest, looking around the hallway with wide doe eyes, and all I want to do is dirty her perfect image. It’s the complete opposite of what I should feel toward her. She’s a wolf. A female. I should want to protect her. Wrap her in bubble wrap and make sure no one touches a hair on her head.
But underneath her first-class exterior is a feisty she-wolf just waiting to come out—and it calls to the beast inside of me. My wolf wants to challenge her. To bite her and chase her and force her to submit.
She’s pretty, if you look past the preppy shit she’s wearing. Long, dark hair. Brown eyes. Her white jeans hug her ass and highlight her hips. I wish she was walking in front of me instead of behind so I could watch that ass bounce with every step.
She’s most definitely Latina, but on the fairer side. Rourke called her Ms. Kline and there is only one Kline in the area and he’s the very white head of the human faction in these parts. Some Human Alliance Corporation bullshit.
I bet she’s half on her mom’s side. And knowing she’s a wolf and that Kline is 100% human, I wonder how she wound up here. And why she isn’t with a Pack. She didn’t transfer into ours. If she had, my pops wouldn’t have warned me away from her.
Wolves don’t do well away from our kind. More so than some of the other breeds, we need our Pack. Without it, our beasts can teeter on the edge of humanity. Des will need to keep an eye on her.
I can already feel that familiar spark of interest. I want to play with her. Make her my shiny new toy. I don’t usually bother with the chicks here. Most look at me as a status piece, a way to climb the social ladder if they’re shifters. And if they’re not, then I’m a means of rebellion. A way to see what a wolf is like in the sack so they can tell stories about how reckless they were in their youth before going back to their boring mundane existence.
Isa doesn’t seem like those girls. No. Those girls will do damn near anything for my attention. If I ask Isa to get on her knees and suck my dick in the janitor’s closet, she’ll blush and run the opposite direction. Or maybe I’ll see some more of that fire of hers and she’ll tell me off and go for my throat? No. Isa isn’t the easy lay type. And I doubt she hands out skin privileges without thought and careful consideration.
I wonder if I can change that…
My pulse quickens, morphing from a slow and steady thrum to a fast and hard clip just thinking about all the things I want to do to her. I don’t care who she’s related to. Brian Kline may be a big deal in this town. I’m sure he’d hate the idea of me sullying his precious daughter. Then again, he’s hooked up with a wolf himself. Maybe he was secretly a shifter lover after all, despite his very public hatred of our kind and all things paranormal. Bet it grates on him to have a wolf for a daughter. Not that I particularly care.
We reach the door to first period. The bell’s already rung, and the door is closed. I make a big show of swinging it open, letting it slam against the wall so all heads turn in our direction. “After you, vanilla.” I wave her in with a flourish.
She scowls and then freezes when she realizes we’ve grabbed the entire class’s attention.
I smirk. “You going to keep everyone waiting?”
Her cheeks turn an impressive shade of pink as she steps forward. I don’t get out of her way, forcing her to brush against me as she passes and every hair on the back of my neck lifts like I’ve been hit with a bolt of electricity. The room is quiet, all eyes on us, and I fight the urge to reach for her. What the hell was that?
She tries to slip into the first available seat. It’s in the back row and closest to the door but the girl sitting beside it shakes her head. “You don’t want to sit there,” she says in a loud whisper everyone can hear.
I snort and the girl flicks her gaze toward me. “It’s his seat.”
Isa turns to look over her shoulder, giving me another frown.
I offer her a bored expression, wondering if she’ll fight back on the seat or do the smart thing and move along. I’m almost disappointed when she huffs and walks toward the front of the class. She has to go around the entire room to reach the last remaining open seat clear on the other side, three rows from the front. By the time she sits, the class still dead silent, her cheeks are a brilliant scarlet. Like a rose. Can’t wait to see her thorns.
“Alright class,” our teacher begins. She makes Isa introduce herself, doing the whole bit of having her stand up. Asking her where she moved from? Does she have any siblings? What faction does she belong to? As if it isn’t fucking obvious.
All the boring basic stuff.
I discover she moved from Star Valley, Arizona, which means she used to belong to the Mountain Spring Pack. No siblings. She lives with her dad. Which I knew already but it still has me a little confused. Until today, I didn’t know Brian Kline had a daughter. Not that I keep close tabs on the guy, but I know my pops does.
I wonder where he’s been hiding her all these years? Kline might be human, but he knows how our world works. My pops told me to stay away from the new shifter, which means he and Kline came to some sort of agreement. But why?
Technically Hellbound High is a neutral zone. At least as neutral as you can be with the four most powerful factions surrounding it on all sides creating a tiny pocket of whatever the hell this was supposed to be.
When she finally completes her interrogation, Mrs. Brookes leaves Isa alone the rest of the period. I have the advantage of being able to watch her without her being able to watch me in return. She takes notes and actually pays attention. She’s a goody-goody for sure which will make it all the more fun when I ruin her. This is just what I needed. Senior year was looking dull but now, things are about to get interesting.
I get lost in my fantasies; my gaze glued to the back of her head as I imagine all the ways I want to hurt her. Fuck her. Ruin her. It’s a sport, and one I just so happen to excel at. If she plays her part well, I might soothe some of the hurt I inflict. We’ll see.
When the bell rings, I wait for her just outside the door. Her eyes are downcast as she stares at a piece of paper in her hands, not seeing me until she ends up crushing the paper between our bodies. Contact. That’s what I’m talking about.
“Watch it, vanilla.” I snatch the paper from her fingertips, scanning my eyes over her class schedule. I could have just asked what her next class was, but where’s the fun in that?
“Hey!” she growls, trying to grab for it, but I lift my hand high above her head, tilting my gaze up to scan over the text. There’s no way she can take it back unless I want her to. Or unless she decides to climb me like a tree. I would be okay with that.
She’s five-two. Maybe five-three. Tiny in comparison to all six feet of me towering over her. Her hands clench into tiny fists at her sides. Her lips press together in a firm line.
My dick twitches in the face of her anger, but beyond that initial outburst, she stays silent.
Hmmm… I wonder what it would take for her to really get angry. To break out of this little mold of manners and set her wolf loose?
English, Calculus, Spanish … hmmm. I eye her. Spanish 4 is for native speakers. I was right in my assumptions about her. “Mexican or Puerto Rican?” I ask, giving her another once-over. I’m betting Mexican but I’ve been wrong once or twice in my life.
I tuck her schedule into my back pocket and move down the hallway.
“Hey, I need that.” She rushes to keep pace with me, her shorter legs having to work double time just to keep up. Students eye her with open interest, and I decide to make things even more interesting. We don’t have many female shifters here. Most are submissive and my Pack isn’t willing to risk them being harmed.
Without missing a step, I toss an arm over her shoulder and pull her close to my body as I lead her through the halls. She stiffens, a growl working its way up her throat.
“Chill. I’m walking you to class. Just helping out the new girl.”
Her mouth tightens, her nostrils flaring, and I bet she’s trying to scent the lie, but good luck with that in these crowded hallways. A few seconds pass and she nods, so I decide not to be a complete ass and slow my steps just a little. Not really for her benefit, but because I want to delay this little stroll and make sure as many students as possible see the two of us together.
The guys in the hall eye her with a mix of fascination and confusion. The girls though, they’re looking at her with open disdain. Perfect.
I spot one of my best friends—Jordy—farther up the hallway waiting for me outside our next class. He lifts a single brow in question. The corner of my mouth lifts and I give him a knowing look. He doesn’t bother to hide his annoyance. Jordy isn’t one for games. He’s one of those you’ll get more bees with honey types, but he won’t interfere. It’s not his style to go against me.
I stop when we reach Isa’s next class and once again I make a show of opening the door for her, only this time I shove her inside. “Yo, Sabrina?” I holler.
Sabrina Hampton whips her head toward me. Her light brown eyes widen in surprise and the beginning of a smile curls her lips—until she spots Isa.
“Take care of my girl.” I wink in Isa’s direction and close the door.
Let the chips fall where they may. Sabrina is going to have a field day with this one. The little witch has been trying to get with me for as long as I can remember. She’ll make Isa’s life hell if she thinks she’s a threat to her shot at the prize, and I just put a bright red bullseye on Isa’s forehead. We’ll see how our little wolf handles it.
A small group of students have formed behind me but as soon as I turn, they scatter, even though they’d been waiting to get into the class I just walked away from. I smirk. I’ll never tire of being the reigning wolf surrounded by so many sheep.
Jordy is waiting for me outside Economics and he doesn’t look pleased. “That the new shifter girl your dad was talking about?”
I shrug. “Might be.”
His eyes darken.
“Why? You trying to call dibs or some shit?”
He shakes his head. “Do you always have to be a dick?”
Another shrug. “Don’t act like you care.”
He punches me in the shoulder. “She’s a wolf, or does that not matter to you?”
I shrug. “She isn’t Pack.”
“Whatever. It doesn’t matter. We’re supposed to stay away from her. We’re not juveniles anymore. You can’t keep getting your ass in trouble for no reason other than to entertain yourself. We had an agreement, cabrón. No more distractions.”
“Stop stressing out over nothing. Rourke asked me to help her out this week. I’m only doing what I was told.”
Jordy doesn’t look convinced but lets it drop with a shake of his head. “You don’t ever do what you’re told. Not unless you’re getting something out of it, or the order comes directly from the top. If this game of yours fucks up what we have going on here, I’m coming for your ass, and you know Desmond will back me up.”
Yeah. Yeah. Whatever.
About The Blood & Magic Universe
The world isn’t what it once was. Creatures of the night and all things paranormal are no longer content sitting on the side lines as humans cling to power. They’ve risen up and refuse to go back into hiding.
But humanity is afraid and when humans fear something, they seek to destroy it.
Governments waged wars they could not win in an attempt to beat back the monsters of their nightmares. Battles were fought and lives were lost.
In the end, humans did the only thing they could. They conceded and a thin agreement was formed between the four largest factions — humans, vampires, shifters, and witches — in an attempt to end the bloodshed.
Years later, peace is tenuous at best and humanity continues to quake in the aftermath of the Awakening. The economy crashed. Democracy fell. Big pharma, fire departments, police forces, hospitals, public schools, and all things government funded struggle to find their footing.
In this new age, law and order are a thing of the past. Only the strong survive. Only the strong remain in power.
It’s a volatile and messed up world. Welcome to the aftermath of the Awakening.
The Blood & Magic series
Start at the beginning!
When the good guys start to look more like villains, Aria has no choice but to question everything she knows, including the people she thought she could trust.
About the author
Danielle Annett is a USA Today Bestselling Author. She likes to write about kick butt heroines in volatile settings and apologizes in advance for all of the cliffhangers in your future. She can’t help herself. But she promises that they’ll all be worth it in the end.
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