The morning was much quieter than either one of us expected. I was thankful Brandon rarely seemed to be home, since he loved to stir things up between him and Asher.
How Asher hadn’t lost his temper and banished Brandon from the pack was beyond me, but I treasured every peaceful moment his infuriating brother was absent for.
We had expected a small uproar. It wasn’t everyday your Luna was revealed to double as the Vampire Queen. My priorities were quite literally divided down the center, between two groups of people that wanted to k**l one another.
While there was some outcry by many of the older, seasoned members of the pack, there hadn’t been the large-scale uproar we were expecting.
During the battle and warring back home, rumors had spread across the country. The struggle between our pack and the Vampire’s was common knowledge.
Thankfully, us werewolves were a tough breed. There weren’t many of us who feared a murderous Vampire or rogue.
That morning we met up with Rowena at the house Giovanni and Breyona were staying at. The rather small living room was packed with werewolves, vampire’s and the odd witch or two. The scent of blood and food intermingled in the air, like a strange and decadent perfume.
Giovanni and Tristan each leaned against the wall, from their respective sides of the room since neither had called a cease- fire on their feud. Tristan hovered closer to where Holly stood, only a few feet from the stairs so she could make a hasty retreat.
He had managed to get her into the living room, but she hadn’t yet stepped foot from the house. I perched myself on the arm of the couch, beside where Breyona sat. Asher stood to my right, and Mason to his right.
“It’s wonderful to meet you, Holly.” Rowena smiled warmly. Her auburn hair was twisted into a loose knot on her head, and the mossy wrap around dress she wore swished with her every move. It was odd to see how friendly and non- threatening she looked, especially after last night.
The knife-wielding, blood magic practicing pre-school teacher, was an enigma I planned to learn more about.
Holly’s eyes roamed Rowena’s face, undoubtedly seeing the same radiance I had first noticed. She brushed the strands of onyx hair from her face, the same color and length as my own. It was the only feature, along with our slate-grey eyes, that Holly and I shared.
“You’re the blood-witch?”‘ Was all she said, her voice much softer than mine.
“I’m not a practicing one, but I know the craft.” Rowena nodded pleasantly, reaching down to where her bag sat on the floor. She pulled two leather-bound books from within, the covers dry and peeling. They smelled of oils and dried lavender as she held them out for Holly. ”
I understand how difficult this is-for both of you. To be unprepared for your own awakening, it’s not something I would wish on any young witch. I am not here to force you into anything. These books are to read at your own pleasure, while you decide if my help is something you might want.”
I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath until Holly moved ever so slowly and took the books from Rowena’s hands. Clutching them to her chest, she retreated back to her place.
My eyes flickered to Asher’s and understanding passed between us. It was an improvement, and even the smallest counted.
“A word of warning from some one with years of experience; ignoring what is going on inside of you will only make it manifest harder. Gaining control of your magic, that is the cure you seek.”
Breyona left with Asher and I, going back to the house to get ready for the party. There was a hint of nerves bundled in my gut, especially since coming out as the Vampire Queen, but I had always loved a good party, That hadn’t changed, nor had it for Breyona.
The sweltering sun mixed with the coveted shade that blanketed the sprawling lake, and I began to understand why this place was adored by so many people–and why the locals tend to keep it a secret. Trees of pine and oak surrounded the lake, which was larger than any I had seen before.
It was clearly well taken care of, because the water was free of any algae or growth and the small pavilions were free of any litter. A large beach area surrounded the lake, along with numerous piers every fifty or so feet.
Pick-up trucks were backed onto the sand, the beds stacked with beach towels and cases of beer.
College students and young adults milled about, some in bikinis and swimming trunks while others sported your usual jean short and tank top combo.
I adjusted the straps on the bi I wore and followed Breyona from the Escalade while Asher found some place suitable to park. Breyona’s sky-blue bi matched the shade of her eyes, and the bottoms tied into little bows at her hips. There were numerous looks casted our way, some lingering far longer than others.
“Gio’s coming down to the party once the sun sets. Figured it might be a safe way to introduce a Vampire into the pack. He can be a bit overprotective…since I can’t shift and all.”
“Gio? How does he feel about this new nickname?” I smirked softly, still feeling that pang of guilt in my chest for my best -friends fate.
“Oh, he hates it.” She sighed dramatically, her face falling. “I thought I’d try it until it stuck, but it’s not really working, is it?”
“Not really.” I replied, laughing at the forlorn look on her face.
“Hey, gorgeous.” A raspy, self-assured voice called out. I turned and found myself staring at the chest of a blond- headed male. I had to crane my head upwards to see his tanned face and chocolate eyes.
Sand covered his shoulders and chest, and a volleyball was wedged between his arm and torso. ” You’re sure grabbing everyone’s attention you and your cute friend.”
I opened my mouth to answer, but another guy beat me to it. One with shaggy brown hair jogged up and clapped him on the shoulder, his eyes wide and roaming my face.
I didn’t miss how he inched his friend away from me, or how the nearby people stopped their conversations to watch.
“Bro, this is the Luna.” The one with the brown hair hissed, his voice inching lower, “You better hope Alpha isn’t nearby.”
“He’s never come to a party before…” Blondie hesitated, his eyes growing wide as he swallowed and looked towards his friend. “The Vamp chick?”
“The one and only, but I’m going to be upset if you call me that.” I warned, keeping my tone light. The last thing I needed was to freak everyone out.
This was about getting the pack to accept me and the rest of the Vampire’s looking for peace. “Asher decided to tag along, but he won’t skin your hide for calling me gorgeous. Mistakes happen, we’re just here to enjoy the party.”
Looping my arm in Breyona’s I steered the two of us away from the shell- shocked males, hearing the whispered tidbits of our conversation flow from other people’s mouths, We found Asher nearly ten minutes later, as the rush of people attending grew heavier.
It hadn’t been us who spotted Asher first, but his childhood friend, Cassidy.
Her sun-kissed hair ran down her back in golden curls, and the white b****i she wore highlighted the rich tan to her skin.
She looked as though she belonged on a beach in LA, not living deep within the forest in the middle of a pack of wolves. She spoke very animatedly, using her hands as she chatted with Asher.
There was always that twinge of possessiveness whenever he spoke to another she-wolf, no matter their position in his life or pack. I swallowed that bitter feeling down and followed Breyona to his side.
“I swear, finding your mate instantly makes you the jealous type.” Breyona snickered under her breath, “I nearly took Giovanni’s head off for letting the grocery store clerk touch his arm.”
‘I don’t like her.’ Maya said simply. ‘She gives me a bad feeling.’
‘She doesn’t give me a bad feeling.’ I snorted, knowing Maya would instantly detest anyone she viewed as a threat. Besides, she hasn’t so much as touched him. She’s just overly enthusiastic.’
“Luna, I’m so glad you’ve made it!” I heard Cassidy squeal as soon as we came into view, proving my earlier statement. It was hard not to return her smile, especially when she genuinely did look pleased. There was no doubt in my mind, she had heard the announcement and knew the truth just like the rest of the pack.
Her golden curls bounced as she chirped, “I spent hours setting this entire thing up, sorting through everyone who wanted to come.
We had to keep it invite only, since your big announcement and all of that-but this will give us plenty of time to get to know one another! Oh- who is your this?”
“This is Breyona, one of my best- friends.” I grinned, reigning in my laugh as Breyona gave Cassidy a stunned look. She did come on strong, but so far, she had been nothing but friendly.
“It’s so wonderful to meet you!” She tittered, her eyes darting across the crowd as though she saw someone she recognized.
“I’m going to run and grab us all some drinks. Afterwards we can find a good spot to put our towels. Wait until you see this place at night! I swear, I put enough lights in the forest to turn the town into a beacon.”
“She’s a bit intense.” Breyona giggled.
“Cassidy’s always been enthusiastic- about everything.” Asher snorted, making my mouth go dry when he removed the black t-shirt he had been wearing. I ignored the blatant looks coming from at least fifteen different she -wolves and focused on the fact that his churning eyes on me.
“Her and Brandon had always been closest. I preferred spending most of my time alone, but there were times when I would hang out with them.”
“Somehow, I’m not surprised you like to spend most of your time alone.” Breyona teased lightly.
Cassidy came back with a smile on her face, carrying three cans and a glass bottle. She handed Asher an amber bottle of some strong-smelling beer, while handing me a can of those fruity margaritas.
I set my open drink on the trunk of a nearby car whilst taking my own t-shirt off.
Asher brought the bottle to his lips, and the way his nose scrunched disdainfully had me erupting in laughter.
“Is it good?” I teased.
“As good as cheap beer can be.” He grunted, his eyes dragging down the length of my body until he stopped just where my hands were, fumbling with the button to my shorts.
“Not all of us can afford that fancy bourbon you drink.’ Cassidy giggled, but Asher’s attention was otherwise diverted. “I personally think it tastes like gasoline either way.”
In one long stride he stood inches in front of me, swatting my fumbling hands away with ease. As his fingertips grazed across my lower stomach, undoing the button that had been giving me trouble, whilst also making my core clench painfully, For a split second, I glanced at the surrounding forest and contemplated our chances of being spotted should we slip away.
The corners of his lips twitched ever so slightly.
‘Eavesdropping on my thoughts?’ I mused, stuffing my clothes into my backpack while snatching up my drink. I had yet to taste it, but from scent alone, I could tell the taste of beer would well overpower the strawberry flavoring inside.
‘Only when they have to do with you dragging me off into the forest to seduce me.’ His voice sounded lower, raspy with need.
‘Wait until night falls.” I warned him, bringing the canned margarita to my lips. ‘I might still follow through on that plan.’
The sizzle of carbonation hit my lips when a gleeful whoop filled the air, carrying a voice I had been dreading hearing all day. I set my wasted drink on the chromed-out bumper of someone’s pick-up truck.
The prospect of drinking no longer sounded so alluring, not when Brandon was currently wandering through the crowd, his eyes blown wide with gleeful interest as he sauntered my way.