“Quit sulking.” Mason scolded me from the driver’s seat. “If you wanted to drive you shouldn’t have tried to drive us off the cliff.”
“That’s not what I was trying to do, and I already apologized.” I griped and folded my arms over my chest. “…you’re just angry I made you scream.”
The trees that grew out of the rocky cliff side whooshed by in shades of shamrock and olive. I wondered if Lars were in there somewhere, deep within their protective cover. Were the witches there too?
“You didn’t make me scream, your reckless driving did.” His voice had an edge of defensiveness that made me snort. Warm hazel eyes slid over to where I sat in the passenger, “…you won’t tell anyone about this, right?”
“I won’t.” I reassured him, and waited until relief flooded his eyes to say, “…if you let me drive us back, and you can’t act like I’m going to drive off the mountain with every curve.”
“Deal, but you keep this to yourself for as long as you live.” He narrowed his eyes.
“Deal.” I nodded and began to relax in the seat when a thought crossed my mind. “…I can tell Breyona, right?”
“Yeah, you can tell Breyona.” His eyes warmed when he chuckled, and his tone implied he’d been expecting me to ask as much.
Our banter dwindled until silence took over, sending my eyes veering back towards the forest and my thoughts to a certain slippery werewolf.
I’d been sorely tempted to mention my suspicion regarding Lars’s boots, but Asher was already putting out a pack-wide memo.
Soon every werewolf on our land would be on the lookout for Lars, which meant there was no need to turn it into a manhunt. Still, I had to tell him eventually…I just needed more time.
I tried to think of where Lars might’ve gone but came up with nothing. The most I could do was scour the woods and search for his illusive friend, which I was considering when another thought popped into my head.
Cassidy…she’s going on a date with him.
Even though I made the mental note to talk with her after training, it didn’t ease the dark cloud that loomed over my head for the remainder of the day.
After a quick search of the clinics in the area, I found a small privately owned practice that had an abundance of positive reviews. Mind-linking one of the therapists was the fastest route of communication, and by far the most awkward.
Asher promised slipping into the pack-members minds would become easier over time, but I was still a non-believer. A girl could only handle so many horrified shrieks.
The worst of it is when they’re in private and in their shock unwillingly send me mental images of things I definitely shouldn’t be seeing.
The private practice was nestled right in the middle of town. Located in an off-white colonial house whose cobalt blue shutters were a cheerful beacon from halfway down the street.
The three licensed therapists that made up the little practice were pleasant, even though one had to turn down the offer when her client stormed into the building, face smeared with heavy make-up.
Her wet sobs filled the room, warping her words as she flailed her hands dramatically to get her point across.
“I understand, Selena. Come on, let’s talk about it in my office.” The fair-haired therapist said soothingly and guided the trembling girl past us with a comforting hand on her shoulder.
I locked eyes with the sobbing teenage girl and managed a small but encouraging smile when she waved and stumbled over a ‘hello.’
Well, I assumed that’s what it was since she couldn’t exactly form the words. Her wailing continued once the door closed, though it was muffled.
One of the remaining therapists, a dark-haired male whose wire rimmed glasses made him look shrewd and analyzing, seemed more than willing to drop a client or two for the Luna’s younger sister.
I might’ve hired him off his resume alone if it weren’t for the onyx shade of his hair and the severe way he pursed his lips, both of which reminded me of my father.
If the sight could send me tumbling backwards through time, back to that b****y battlefield, then I wondered what it would do to Holly.
I went with his colleague instead, a middle-aged she-wolf with a kind smile who introduced herself as Dr. Mayfield. When she wasn’t at the local hospital acting as in-house psychiatrist, she took a handful of clients here at the house.
Her resume was just as impressive and revealed that she’d been helping people heal for over a decade. I could see the full extent of her history written all over her face.
It was tattooed within the fine lines around her eyes and mouth and hid beneath every inch of her bronze skin.
“Magic and Vampirism certainly play into your sister’s experiences, but I’ve found that no matter how complex a situation is, it can always be deconstructed into something easier to s*w.” Dr. Mayfield said kindly.
There was a look of understanding on her face that made me feel like Holly’s demons might not be so undefeatable after all.
I left Dr. Mayfield with Tristan’s contact information and rushed to make it to training on time. Mason kept up his end of the deal, even if he did look a bit pale every time I hit a sharp turn.
Even after stopping at home for a change of clothes, I made it to training before Breyona. Mason supplied the directions since had training as well, only his was in a different class.
“Shame we won’t be partners this time around. Can’t say I miss getting my a*s kicked.” Mason’s cheeky grin revealed the dimples he tried hard to hide, the same ones I watched girls swoon over.
We had just pulled into the parking space when I asked, “I nearly forgot–how’s Clara been doing?”
He didn’t answer and up until I turned car off, I could see his scowl lingering within the outskirts of my vision.
While Asher kept a continuous rotation of guys on guard duty, it was Mason they said Clara would ask for. From what I heard, he had caved in sometime yesterday, but that was the extent of the whispered rumor.
“Annoying as ever, which is the only reason she keeps asking for me.” His lips flattened into a thin line.
A flash of warm-blonde hair had me dropping the subject. Cassidy trotted up to the side of the car and leaned against the hood as Mason and I got out. The wavy strands of her hair were pulled into a high-pony tail and the work-out shorts she wore were low on her hips.
“Ah, this is so exciting!” She squealed, her eyes brightening like an oasis caught beneath the sun’s rays. “Can you tell none of my friends like training? I’m all alone here!”
“If they don’t train, what do they do?” Mason asked.
“Mostly party.” She giggled like it were obvious and toyed with the baby-pink water bottle in her hands. “Catch them in a fight and all they’ll do is pull your hair out. I’d much rather learn to kick some a*s.”
As Cassidy and Mason struck up a conversation about the different fighting styles we were covering in class, I scoured the parking lot for Breyona.
There was no sign of the slate grey sedan Asher had loaned to her and Giovanni, and as the minutes passed I found my prior excitement dwindle into worry.
“Hey, it’s about time to go in. Is everything alright with Breyona? She’s still coming, isn’t she?” Cassidy’s giddy tone faltered as she took in my expression.
Slipping into Breyona’s head was a little easier since the two of us had little in the way of boundaries. Our friendship was all or nothing, not that either of us minded. The things we had both gone through, they were bound to link us together.
‘Hey, you’re still coming to training, right?’ Her reaction rocked through my head like the aftershock of an earthquake. There was no horrified shriek, even though I did feel her startle a bit.
‘Whew, you scared me. Gotta knock first or something…’ Her thoughts were like little shreds of paper tossed into the air, each one falling at its own pace.
They were jumbled and smushed together without any sort of organization, which I thought fit my best-friend perfectly. “Training, right. I’m on my way now, just running late. Needed another cup of coffee to get myself out of bed.’
An image flashed in my head; one Breyona clearly meant to keep to herself. While there wasn’t a single drop of coffee involved, I did get a colorful image of Breyona and Giovanni, who was the real cause for her tardiness.
‘Coffee…right.’ I held back my snicker. ‘You better hurry, we’re about to head inside now. Cassidy says you still have another ten minutes to get here.’
‘Don’t worry, the GPS says I’ll be there in five!’ Even her thoughts were loud, throwing themselves at me as though she were shouting. When the deafening sound of some pop song roared in my head, I severed the link.
The capital’s training hall was rumored to be one of the best in the country, and from looks alone it lived up to its reputation. A bronze statuette of a wolf sat out front.
The great beast was perched on the edge of a cliff, howling its pain and agony into the air. The piece was a memorial dedicated to the wolves whose names were etched onto the cliffs surface.
It reminded everyone who passed through these doors that the life of a warrior was hard-earned, fought for with every breath and beat.
An undertone of sweat and blood hung in the air, familiar as it dredged up memories of Chris, and how we’d spend hours beneath the blistering sun, fighting until dehydration brought me to my knees.
The scent grew stronger as Cassidy and I headed inside, leaving Mason to chat with a group of guys in his class.
Minutes ticked by, each one thinning my patience until every other second I found myself glancing at the door, tempted to peek through the rectangular window that looked out into the hall.
In the back of my head I could hear the instructor assigning us our partners for the season. Even Cassidy’s excited voice, telling me we’d been paired together, couldn’t pull my eyes away from the door or my thoughts away from Breyona.