I hear the slur just before I get pushed from behind. I topple forward, landing on my hands and knees in the dirt.
How I hate this place, these people. Breathing through the pain, I glance at the figure walking away from me, trying to make out which of my many tormentors pushed me this time, but I only catch a glimpse of a female form as she rounds the corner. After getting off the floor, I dust off my jeans, pick up my dropped belongings, and head toward my next class.
Growing up as the omega’s daughter has never been easy. My first memories are of being shunned and pushed to the side. Throughout my school years, I have been bullied and abused by my peers and the grownups who were supposed to protect me from that kind of behavior.
Living in a pack of panthers isn’t easy by any means, but being seen as nothing more than a gemors has the capacity to break my spirit and soul before I even get a chance to shine. No one ever took the time to get to know me. They only judged me on my family history.
Many years ago, my father, Abel Williams, used to be the alpha of the Zwart Pack. When I was still a toddler, my father convinced the entire pack to go to war with a rival, the Lira Pack. Unfortunately, he overestimated his leadership skills and our pack’s fighting prowess. Lives were lost, as well as the fight. My father was also dethroned by their alpha and left to live in shame. He has a horrendous burn mark on the left side of his face that never healed, a beacon for all to see, his shame worn on the outside.
The new alpha, Dante Taylor, was fair but brutal until the day he passed. After his death last week, his son, Rowan, took over, even though he is only seventeen. He has always been destined to be our next alpha, and that thought scares me more than any other.
As I enter my last class of the day, I hear the word again. Gemors. It isn’t whispered but said aloud. I don’t turn toward where the voice came from. I know that voice. Silas, Rowan’s best friend and his soon-to-be beta.
Everyone around me chuckles as I try to make myself as small as I can. I keep my composure and walk to my desk in the back. There are no other pupils seated beside me. No one to talk to, to bare my soul to, to help me with this burden.
My father has long since checked out, struggling to keep himself going every day. I love him more than anything in this world, which is why I have never told him exactly how bad it really is. He has his own pain and shame to live with, and I won’t add to it.
The teacher starts with the lesson, but my mind has already left the building. My thoughts swirl with everything I need to do before I leave because I won’t be staying here. I’ve been hurt and disrespected enough in my short life, and I’ve finally reached the end of my rope. Tomorrow is my eighteenth birthday. Tonight, I’ll leave this hellhole and never look back.
“Kira!” the teacher calls loudly.
The girls in the class all giggle as I look up. He may have called me before. I just didn’t hear him.
“Mr. Smith,” I reply softly.
“I know you have so many more important things to do than participating in my class.” He sighs while pinching the bridge of his nose.
“No, sir,” I say, feeling a blush creep up my cheeks and knowing every gaze in the room is focused on me.
“Well, then,” he says, “what are the main themes for our current read, Taming the Shrew? I assume you read it.”
My blood boils, and I want to rage against his comment. I may not be popular or wanted, but I am an excellent student. Tamping down my rage, I take a deep breath before launching into the five main themes.
Kira fucking Williams. That girl gets under my skin in the worst kind of way. I watch her from my front porch as she makes her way home. Long, blonde hair and small, thin build. No breasts or a*ss that can be seen. She looks nothing like the other girls our age. The other girls are all curves and breasts, wearing se*xy clothes and trying their best to catch their new alpha’s attention.
But not Kira. She tries to avoid me at all costs. I wish it were that simple. I always know where she is and what she’s doing. She is my infatuation, although I would never tell a living soul. To me, she is more beautiful than any of the other shifter females.
Keeping my attention glued to her, I notice the slight limp she tries to hide. A low growl escapes me. I wonder what happened. But I know better. She has been picked on and bullied since I first met her. Her father fucked up royally, and she has been made to pay the price since I can remember.
Her torment is something I should end. As the new alpha, my word is the law. Her life could be so much easier with a simple decree. But I won’t. My pack will see it as a weakness and before long try to take this pack from me. I feel for her, and I know it can’t be easy, but still, I won’t do a thing to help her.
Disinterest is the prevailing feeling I have toward her, even though I always catch myself staring at her. There is a fire burning beneath the surface, the fight that she does everything she can to hide from everyone else. I long to know what that fire feels like.
My cell phone rings beside me, and I contemplate not answering it, but the name flashing on my screen has me smirking.
“Yes, Odette,” I say.
“Where are you, Rowan?” she demands.
“Excuse me?” I bristle at her tone of voice. The only reason I haven’t taught this female a lesson is because of her brother Silas and the fact that she can suck d!ck like a damn vacuum.
Odette remains silent before clearing her throat. “I miss you,” she whispers over the line.
I don’t reply as I watch Kira turn the corner to her house. My thoughts are not on the conversation I’m having with Odette but rather on the girl who both frustrates and entices me. If only she showed some backbone and defended herself. Then I could go to her, but I can’t be seen with someone weak.
“Rowan,” Odette says.
“I’m home,” I say without thought.
“I’m on my way.”
Long after the call has ended, I sit with my cell phone in my hand, staring in Kira’s direction. Gemors. I hate that fucking word. Even though it has never been aimed in my direction, it still makes my skin crawl.