“Brandon.” Asher’s voice held a warning beneath its calm facade, as did his eyes, which were currently latched onto where his brother stood.
“Oh, relax. You’re awful uptight considering the big secret is now out. What was that saying -oh, that’s right. The truth will set you free. Do you feel free, brother?”
He held a beer bottle in his hand, the condensation still running down the sides in thin rivulets. With both Asher and Brandon standing before me, shirtless and in swimming trunks, it was easy to see the similarities between the two.
Asher’s hair was a tad darker, but both had the same jaw shape and broad shoulders, the athletic body that bordered on massive in size. Where Asher was stingy with his facial expressions, Brandon held absolutely nothing back even when he should.
“How can I ever feel free, Brandon? I’m Alpha to the largest pack in the country, and you’re my brother.” Admittedly, I held my breath for those few seconds, unsure what Asher’s reaction would be.
A few dryly tossed words I could handle, so long as the blistering sun didn’t set them aflame.
“You two, I swear.” Cassidy shook her head at the two of them before giving me a smile that said, ‘this happens often.’ She strutted over to where some of the water coolers sat, smirking at a few guys who turned her way.
The familiar hiss of carbonation sounded from the bottle in her hand. Shoving the opened beer towards Brandon, she laughed. “Quit looking for a fight and enjoy the party. It’s never been packed like this before.”
“That’s because our Alpha has never dared grace one of our lowly college parties, and I already have a beer.” Brandon snickered but took the beer from her hand and drank deeply.
I didn’t bother hiding my look of absolute disgust and rolled my eyes when he winked playfully.
“You’re almost finished your first, and you know how busy your brother is.” Cassidy snorted, “Besides, Erik says there are a lot of kids here from Stratford Prep and-“
“For it to be a college party, you have to be in college, Brandon.” Asher commented, swiveling his eyes downward to the two beer bottles in his brothers’ hands. Brandon, ever the challenge, gave Asher a teasing smile and took another long drink.
“Cass is in college, and she bought the beer. Same s**t if you ask me.” He shrugged but perked up as he registered what Cassidy had said. “Did you say Stratford Prep?”
“I sure did.” Cassidy’s petal-colored lips tilted up in a feminine smirk, which Brandon devoured with one of his sultry smiles.
“Sorry, gorgeous. It’s not going to work out between us-not tonight, anyhow.”
I visibly jumped when Asher’s snarl rang out into the air, making all conversation within a ten-foot radius halt. It took me a few seconds after his threatening snarl, staring at Brandon’s muscular back as he retreated, to realize he had been talking to me.
“Is there something special about Stratford Prep students?” Breyona asked curiously.
Cassidy chuckled low, a coy smile on her face. ” Stratford Prep students wear uniforms. Brandon has a very passionate love for plaid skirts and t***h-high socks. And if he ever tries to deny it, I have proof.”
Suddenly, an image came to mind. I could tell from the clarity and vividness that it wasn’t coming from my head, but Asher’s.
All too quickly my eyes strayed from the background, which happened to be a rugged office with animal pelts and lots of dark cherry wood, to Asher’s form. He sat in the desk chair, his hair and eyes dark as night.
The unyielding look of hunger and violence on his face did something to my insides. He looked like the CEO of a company-or the King of a country, staring down at all those smaller than him.
And on her knees in front of him, wearing nothing but a pleated skirt and long socks, was me.
My mouth went dry instantaneously, and I regretted setting my opened drink unattended on the bumper of someone’s truck.
Heat coursed through me, coating my skin in a thin layer of sweat that had nothing to do with the sun, and everything to do with the way Asher was looking at me.
I hadn’t seen him move, but I swore time halted around us as his arm snaked around my waist. My hands fell flat against his chest, my palms tickled by the sparks that danced between our bodies-our bonded souls.
I could feel him in the deepest corners of me, intertwined in everything that made me who and what I was.
His depraved words, leaking desperation that only I could satiate, they controlled the very functions of my body until it bended to his will.
As his lips fell on my own, sucking the words and breath from my lungs. A gasp managed to emerge when his tongue darted out and grazed my own.
‘Say the word, Lola.’ His voice was deep, raspy and dark with need that had been held back for far too long. ‘Say the word and I’ll drag you into the forest-I’ll make sure everyone can hear how addicting your little whimpers sound.’
“Oh, Alex is here! I have to introduce you to her, Luna!” Cassidy’s soprano broke the spell between Asher and I, drawing my attention to a dark-haired girl nearby.
She stood at one of those cheap plastic tables, grabbing at the various bottles of cheap liquor as she poured and mixed them into a single cup.
As she flipped her hair over her shoulder, I noticed the distinctive lime green streak running down the side of her head. “She’s Asher’s cousin, and she’s been chomping at the bit to meet you! Especially after last night’s announcement.”
“You can call me Lola-“
Cassidy quickly got her attention, nearly making her spill the concoction she had spent the last five minutes making. Alex came jogging over, unleashing a dimpled grin that perfectly matched her pale colored eyes and electric green streak.
The swimming trunks and b****i top she wore were the same vibrant shade of lime green. My eyes were drawn to the bit of jewelry that dangled from her septum, and the ones that dotted her ears.
“It’s an honor to meet you, especially after that big reveal last night. The name is Alex, our Alpha’s only tolerable relative.” From the confidence in which she said it, and the ghost of a smirk on Asher’s face, I took it most people found Brandon as insufferable as I did.
I noticed as we talked, there were others listening in. Heads were cocked in our direction, eyes darting anywhere but to where our small group stood. It was still new to me, being the center of attention.
“I’ve got to say, it’s pretty badass that you’re the Vampire Queen. For however long you and my cousin stay in town, I know you’ll run into some hateful people.
Try not to listen to them, there’s plenty of us who are on your side. We know that when change comes, it’s not always the most comfortable thing.”
“I really appreciate that, Alex.” I told her genuinely, hoping the eavesdropping werewolves were listening closely.
She took a long drink of the concoction in her hand and nodded, satisfied with whatever flavor she had created. “It’s been hard, figuring everything out-but I don’t scare easily.”
“I’m sure you don’t. You wouldn’t survive being mated to my cousin if you did.” She laughed, but her eyes were snagged by someone further along the beach. Her eyes lit up, like small oasis’s.
“Oh, that’s my girlfriend over there! I’ll catch up with you later and introduce you to her, Luna. It was great seeing you again, Cass. I’ll send you a call later tonight!”
“Talk to you then!” Cassidy shouted back as Alex waved and ran off towards a curvy redhead. She turned to Asher and gave him a nod, “If you don’t mind, I’m stealing your mate and her best friend.
I want to get to know them better without you looming around and scaring the unmated males off.”
“He does loom, doesn’t he?” Breyona snickered under her breath, averting her eyes when Asher’s intense gaze fell on her.
“I think I’ll locate Zeke before he finds the Stratford Prep students.” Asher grunted, giving me one last look before turning and walking through the parting crowd. I could still feel the heat in his eyes along my skin.
Girls and guys, both lounging on towels and playing in the glittering water, watched their Alpha move through the crowd. I had to remind myself that this wasn’t something Asher typically did.
The first thing I did was leap into the startingly cold water, letting out a great sigh the moment it wiped the sweat from my skin and doused the heat blossoming inside of me.
Breyona followed while Cassidy climbed the small hill and jumped in via the rope swing. A slew of cheers rose as she landed with a splash.