“Make sure he’s not d**d back there.” I grunted, glancing in the rearview mirror to see Brandon slumped over.
Clara unbuckled her seatbelt and turned around. I could smell her sugary sweet perfume as her curly hair brushed against my shoulder. A few muffled jabs sounded from the backseat, and it took me a few seconds to realize she was poking and prodding at him.
“Get up, Brandon. You lost some blood, quit being a baby. Not all of us have supernatural healing.” She scolded him, “you’re lucky I don’t just throw you out of this car-hunting me down and making a mess of my life.”
Brandon groaned and mumbled something unintelligible, which was proof enough that he hadn’t died in the backseat of this rusted mustang. I’m sure he’d throw a fit knowing he expired on cracked leather that smelled strongly of tobacco and cat p**s.
“I’ve called dibs on k***g him.” I told her, swallowing a manic giggle when she sighed deeply. “And I am sorry we made a mess of your life, but you have information on something that affects thousands of people. I hope you understand that I can’t just let that go.”
Even though I knew little to nothing about her, I didn’t mind Clara. She was a bit skittish, but anyone who talked to Brandon like that had to have a good personality-even if she did make the mistake of sleeping with him.
I wasn’t nearly as stone-cold as Asher, but I had learned enough from him to know that the leader of a pack needed to put their people first, and getting this information was what mattered most to me. If protection was what she wanted, we’d provide it-but only on the condition she tell us everything she knew.
“I understand, that’s what makes this worse.” She sighed, buckling her seatbelt while providing no further explanation.
I had to remind myself to put the car in park when we pulled up to the gas station, because instantly I spotted the dark tinted windows of Asher’s SUV.
He was already out of the vehicle, taking long strides as he headed straight towards me. I had just enough time to lift my arms, wrapping them around his neck as his slid around my waist.
My fingers were tangled in the shorter strands of his hair, my forehead tickled by the longer pieces on top. Only the tips of my toes grazed the ground, but it all paled in comparison to the explosion in my chest when his lips met with my own.
I trailed my hands to his face, feeling the sharp edge of his jaw beneath my fingers. Our kiss wasn’t the desperate, tearful kind you saw in the movies.
We weren’t clawing at one another as if we couldn’t get enough. His lips moved softly, savoring every taste and touch, until we were both forced to pull away for air.
When he rested his forehead against my own and stared at me with eyes of liquid gold, relief finally blossomed in my chest.
“We were attacked-“
“You’re safe,” was all he said.
Not a question or statement, but reassurance because he could see and feel how shaken up, I was. Whether it was the sudden lack of adrenaline or the information I had yet to process, he could tell my nerves were fried.
Touching him, feeling the warmth of his arms around my waist and his breath across my cheek, it chased away the sense of dread I felt the moment I heard what the elemental witch said.
I nodded, “I’m safe.”
Asher’s eyes flared with interest when he noticed the tight dress I wore, “why are you wearing that?”
Brandon chose that moment to startle awake, banging his head on the roof of the mustang as he sat up. The SUV Asher had gotten out of pulled forwards, next to the car we had commandeered.
I was surprised to see Mason and Zeke inside, both of which got out and greeted me with relieved smiles.
Brandon pulled himself out of the mustang, a hand against his head. He steadied himself against the side of the car, groaning when Asher looked his way.
“We gonna do this right here? Cause I’ll still make you work for it.” He grunted, clearly in no condition to fight.
“I call dibs on k*g him…” I told Asher, patting his chest. “…besides, we have a lot to talk about.”
I looked at Clara as I said this, who had just gotten out of the passenger side. The sheer robe she wore ended around mid-t***h and was cinched tightly at her waist. She shuddered with every chilly gust of wind, brushing back the curls that covered her face.
I noticed how she glanced hesitantly towards Mason and Zeke before inching closer to them. It was her paranoid glances down the street that kept me from thinking she were up to anything sinister.
Mason shrugged out of the jacket he wore and held it out to Clara, an unreadable look on his face as she murmured a ‘thank you’ and slipped it on. Some of the concern I’d been feeling for him eased when Zeke grinned at him over Clara’s shoulder, making him roll his eyes.
Even though I wasn’t cold, Asher pulled his leather jacket off and draped it over my shoulders. I was drowning in the fabric, but I’d never complain about being surrounded by his scent and lingering warmth.
We ditched the mustang and headed to the airport Asher had landed at. Taking the pack’s private jet wasn’t best of options, since just about every werewolf had a love/hate relationship with airplanes, but it was our fastest mode of transportation.
The airport was packed with people, rushing about with suitcases rattling behind them, as though it weren’t nearing one in the morning.
With just a few short words to a service desk clerk, the six of us were led through a set of doors and down a long stretch of hallway.
I kept my arm tucked around Asher’s waist, molding myself against the side of him while also keeping Clara in sight. We were led to a small waiting area, free from all the people that had been traversing around the airport.
Zeke was the only one who remained standing, looking more and more nervous as the seconds ticked away.
“Are you sure we should get on a flying metal box with a witch?” He cleared his throat, his eyes flickering towards Clara. “…no offense, plane crashes are a fear of mine.”
Asher contemplated what he said and nodded, “he’s got a point.”
It was true, there was plenty room for concern since we had no clue what Clara could do. There was no point in asking Brandon, not when he was especially clueless about most things.
It wouldn’t surprise me to hear he knew nothing about the girl he’d been sleeping with-other than her being a witch.
I had no gut feeling telling me she’d magically c***h the plane or send it freefalling mid- flight, but that brought little comfort.
What I hadn’t expected was for Clara to defend herself. Her face held bravery, but there was no missing the flicker of intimidation when she met Asher’s stare with one of her own.
“The witches that attacked us saw me with your girlfriend, the only reason I’m here and not running far from all of you is because I have no way to protect myself when they come searching for me. I wasn’t raised a snitch, but those witches won’t just k**l me and be done with it.” She huffed, trying to calm her shaky voice.
The way her hands trembled, and leg bounced, all of it told me she was telling the truth. This thing that was going on, she had wanted no part of it. It wasn’t just Brandon and I she’d been avoiding. All it took was one look shared between Asher and I to know we were on the same page.
“Mate. Lola is my mate, not my girlfriend.” Asher said, both correcting and distracting her.
“What’s the difference?” She asked curiously, no longer bouncing her leg.
I tilted my head at her, “you’ve been hooking up with a werewolf and don’t know what mates are?”
When I turned my head to give Brandon a questioning look, he shrugged and said, “she’s adopted,” as though that explained everything.
“There’s a huge difference.” Asher replied, “One is based off a crush, the other a bond that brings together who halves of the same soul. A bond like that leaves a mark.”
“I was raised by humans, and as long as Brandon was single, I had no reason to care about werewolf stuff-not until recently, anyway.”
She explained. Her eyes homed in on the mark that stood out against Asher’s pale skin before they searched for mine. I knew what observation she had made before she said it, “you have two marks…is that normal?”
“No, it’s not normal at all.” I sighed; thankful I was spared from explaining further when the attendant popped her head in to let us know the plane was ready.