Two weeks after the great break up, life had moved on.
To begin with, I felt lost and betrayed and spent many hours staring at my bedroom ceiling wondering what on earth happened to the boy I thought was so right for me.
But after some time, I saw it for what it was. A silly teenage romance.
I was a wolf. He was human. I hadn’t even told him my secret. Deep inside, I always knew we’d never last.
I had a man or woman out there destined for me, and that filled my subconscious with guilt every time I looked at Cameron. If we stayed together, one day I’d have to end it and not even explain why.
So, in hindsight, I’m glad he turned out to be such a douchebag. It worked out for the better.
And from now on, there would be no more pointless relationships. I would wait for my mate, whoever he or she was, and for however long it would take.
Meanwhile, I’d focus on school and trying not to murder the boy who sat behind me in American History class with his ruler as he repeatedly prodded me in the back with it.
“Hey, rogue,” he said.
It was Logan Wilson.
He was a sixteen-year-old wolf boy, heir to the alpha-ship in the Cerridwen Pack and proud of it.
The territory covered the whole of Kellington, but when my family was forced to move from our previous Pack, the alpha permitted us to settle there and live as rogues alongside the humans of the town.
But while his father took pity on us, Logan certainly did not. In fact, he had taken it upon himself to make my life a living hell.
With one final jab of the ruler, I snapped my head to face him. “What?”
“You free tonight, Miss Feisty?”
“No, fuck off,” I said as I turned back, trying to focus on what our history teacher was telling us about Rosa Parks.
“Are you sure, babe? I was thinking you could come round, now that you’re single and everything,” he said, leaning over and whispering in my ear. “How is Cameron, by the way?”
I ignored him. He was trying to provoke me, and I would not give Logan Wilson the satisfaction of a response.
“Hey, rogue, don’t ignore me. I’m your future alpha.”
Our teacher, Mr. Greggory, turned from the whiteboard he was writing on and stared in that irritating way teachers do.
“Excuse me, Mr. Wilson, Miss Jones, I hope I’m not interrupting anything?” he asked.
“Yes, you were actually,” Logan said.
My mouth gaped open. And so did Mr. Greggory’s.
“Well, in that case, you can finish whatever ever it was in detention. You, too, Miss Jones,” he said, writing our names on the whiteboard under the detention box.
“But—” I started.
“No buts, Miss Jones,” he said.
“—I didn’t do anything!”
“Unless you want a week of detention, you will be back here at four, sharp,” he said.
I sighed with exasperation and injustice.
“Yes, sir,” I murmured before shooting a glare at Logan, who still wore the same cocky smirk.
To make matters worse, in the last five minutes of the lesson, Mr. Greggory assigned an essay for Monday.
On a Friday!
I shoved the sheet into my bag, crumpling it out of spite, before heading out with the bell. But as I reached the door, something blocked my way.
“I’m sorry, Ella. How about I make it up to you and give you a lift home after detention?” He looked down at me like I was a piece of broccoli he’d picked out of his tooth.
“Fuck off, Logan. I am so done with your shit,” I said, trying to push past.
“You know I’m the alpha’s son, right?” he said, still towering over me.
“Whatever, he’s not even my alpha.”
He stepped to the side, blocking my attempt to get past him.
“But you’re on our land, aren’t you? “So, you abide by my rules, otherwise I will make evicting you and your brother the first thing I do when I become alpha.
“And my seventeenth birthday is in a few days, so you’d better show me respect ASAP. Understand?”
“Fine,” I said. “You can give me a lift home if you really want.”
Logan didn’t scare me. He was an immature kid dressed as an alpha. But the idea of being kicked off this territory wasn’t exactly comforting.
I was happy living here in the human world.
“See you tonight,” he whispered in my ear before winking and letting me move away and toward my friends, who were waiting for me by the lockers.
“What took you so long?” Charlotte, asked.
“One word: Logan.”
Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Being a jerk as usual?”
“I can’t believe you got detention because of him,” Abi said.
“I know, and now I have to do that damn assignment too,” I groaned.
“Another two hours of school to do tonight, just in case seven hours during the day isn’t enough,” Abi whined, looking down at the essay sheet while spitting a curl of hair from her mouth.
“Do it on a computer and make the font enormous,” Charlotte replied in her usual optimistic tone.
Abi laughed. “Knowing Mr. Greggory, if you don’t stick to the twelve-point-font rule, he’ll make you do it three times over.”
“Nothing but facts,” I said with a sigh.
Abi and Charlotte were my only two proper friends.
When I moved to Kellington at age eleven, they took pity on me after I’d sat eating lunch at school on my own for weeks.
I’d been unsure how to socialize in the human world.
I moved a lot as a kid and had never been to a school. My parents taught me the basics, but we were rogues, jumping between packs and living in the wild for the first decade of my life.
So, despite being kinda weird and wolfy, they stuck with me, and we’d been best friends ever since.
In the first year of high school, I entrusted them with my secret. They’d taken it surprisingly well.
They said they always knew there was something odd about me and my family. But they still treated me as normal and refused to ditch me.
Now, in junior year of high school, we were a solid trio who occasionally brushed alongside some other social groups of the school.
“So, we’re invited to Cameron’s party tonight,” Charlotte said, glancing at Abi before looking at me. “Are you coming, Ella?”
“Cameron? As in Cameron Wood?” I mumbled. “Fuck, no.”
“Look, that’s all in the past, Ella,” Abi said.
I raised my eyebrow. “What? A whole two weeks ago?”
Charlotte let out a whine and grabbed my hands. “It’ll be fun. The place will be packed; we might not even see him,” she said.
“No,” I said firmly. “Besides, I have loads of homework, and since my mom left, it’s been hard to juggle housework, homework, and social life. But you two have fun. I don’t mind.”
“Can’t Connor help with the housework? He could make dinner or something?” Abi asked.
Charlotte and I looked at each other with half-terrified, half-hysterical glances.
“That’s coming from someone who hasn’t seen Connor in a kitchen trying to toast a piece of bread before,” I said.
“Oh, please. Just because he’s a boy doesn’t give him an excuse not to learn to cook. This is the twenty-first century, right?” she argued.
Connor was supposedly my older brother. But since our mom left, I’d felt like the parent of the house.
I gave him chores, but I never let him anywhere near the oven for fear of burning the house down—something we definitely couldn’t afford to happen.
Having grown up with no friends except each other, we were close.
Since we were only a year apart in age and both held back a grade when we first started school, we moved in the same social circles and went to all the same parties together.
Although, that’s not to say we always came home together.
He’d taken full advantage of the absence of any parents at home and often stayed out until the butt crack of dawn before stumbling home.
This was because he had a habit of staying out after a party with his friend, drinking far more than they should.
Or since I banned him from bringing girls into his room (which shared a thin plaster wall with mine), he ended up in someone else’s bed.
But he was all right.
Not the most responsible, smart, or focused kid in the world, but we didn’t have it easy and I didn’t want to stop him from having fun.
Easy wasn’t a word I would use to describe any aspect of our lives.
Our father had died four years earlier. It was a car accident, but we didn’t really know how it happened.
His car appeared to have just spontaneously flipped over and he’d landed dead in a ditch. But he was an alcoholic. The autopsy showed a lot in his system, so they ruled it as unsuspicious.
We had little to thank him for.
He argued with every alpha to let us into their pack and was the reason we never had a place to call home. But he was still our dad and we still missed him dearly.
We missed our mom too.
After the accident, she was never the same. She’d lost her mate, so it was to be expected.
But two years ago, she couldn’t face living in the house any longer.
Sleeping in the same bed she’d shared with him, seeing his photos, smelling the lingering scent on his clothes, seeing the post come in the mail with his name on the envelope.
It was all too much.
So, she left to live as a rogue again. She wanted Connor and me to join her, but we liked our lives in Kellington. We had friends, an education, and a home.
Instead, we stayed, got jobs in a little diner on the edge of town, and started paying the bills ourselves.
As I said, nothing was easy.
I sat with Abi and Charlotte in the cafeteria, picking at the dry sandwich I’d spent two dollars on. It was limp and had one slice of cheese inside that sweated in a way cheese definitely shouldn’t.
“You know what, you’re right,” I said, chucking the poor excuse of a meal onto my tray. “I’m coming. I deserve some fun—”
Charlotte’s squeal cut me short as she crushed me in a hug.
Abi laughed as she watched my eyeballs almost pop out of my head. “Okay, Charlotte. I think we get it. Now let the poor girl go,” she giggled.
“Let’s get something better to eat, I’m starving,” I said, sniffing the air. It smelled like they’d brought out some hot fries and my stomach grumbled just at the smell.
“You’re always hungry,” Abi laughed.
“It’s not my fault I have an inhumanely high metabolism,” I said. “Literally.”
When the bell rang at four, my heart sank.
I walked to Mr. Greggory’s classroom to see Logan already sitting at a desk.
I’d been hoping—and expecting—that he wouldn’t turn up.
“Oh, hey, little miss rogue,” he said in his usual arrogant tone.
“It’s bad enough that I’m here, let alone with you and because of you, so do me a favor and don’t even fucking breath in my direction,” I said, sitting as far away as possible from him.
He scooted across a few desks until he was next to me. I scowled, shuffling to the very edge of my chair before Mr. Greggory came in.
“You two are no strangers to detention, so I won’t bother you with the rules,” he said. “Get on with some work and make use of this time.”
I often landed myself in detention.
I did my homework and didn’t deliberately cause trouble, but if I didn’t agree with something, I always felt compelled to make it known to the world.
Arguing with teachers was my specialty.
Stupid policies, unfair dress codes, irrelevant content, pointless pieces of homework, and unfair treatment of students. The principal could recognize the sound of my footsteps approaching his office.
But adults don’t like it when a kid points out something is wrong. Especially if they do it with curse words and a short temper.
But I meant well. I was just trying to make the school less of a shit hole and the world a fairer place.
Logan, however, was just an all-around horrible student. As the alpha’s son, his future was determined, so he had no reason to work hard. Or at all.
“I’ve got some test papers to collect from the office, I’m sure I can trust you for a few minutes,” Mr. Greggory said, leaving us alone.
I’m not sure what made him think he could trust Logan, but okay.
I withdrew my history essay and read the question.
“Do you wanna play truth or dare?” Logan interrupted, prodding me in the stomach.
“Um, personal space and no.”
“Twenty-one dares?” he asked, prodding me again.
“No,” I hissed, smacking his hand away, stopping it from coming in for prod number three.
“Come on, babe, loosen up a bit. Imagine I’m Cameron. Or maybe that wouldn’t help, considering—”
“Can you just leave me alone before I am forced to punch you?” I interrupted.
“No need to get pissed. I think we both knew your relationship would never work. What were you planning on doing when you found your mate?” he asked, rocking his chair back onto two legs.
I stood up to move to another seat. The thought of pushing him was a tantalizing one.
Maybe that story that the teachers always tell about the kid that smashed their head open and died from swinging on their chair would come true…
“On a scale of sixteen to seventy-two, how much would you hate to marry me?”
“One hundred and eight.”
“Imagine living in the same house as me, sleeping in the same bed as me, having pups with me, and spending the rest of your life with me…,” he said with an evil smile that put me on edge.
“I think I would off myself,” I replied, looking back at the essay sheet and my blank piece of lined paper.
“Could you think of anything worse?” he asked.
“Hmmm, let me think,” I said, pausing for effect. “No.”
“Perfect,” he mumbled under his breath.
“What?” I asked.
“Can I finish my homework now?”
He grinned. “All right, I’ll leave you alone, but at least let me give you this.” He delved into his pocket and pulled out a golden envelope.
“What is it?” I asked, the shining paper catching my eye.
“Oh, just something about you and your brother getting kicked off pack territory if you don’t meet some…conditions,” he said.
I got out of my seat, alarmed by the words kicked and ~territory~ in one sentence. I lunged forward to grab the envelope, but he held it above his head.
“Give it to me,” I ordered.
“Come to my house at eight p.m. and you can have it,” he said.
“I am not going anywhere near your house. I’m busy tonight anyway.”
His eyebrows raised and his lips curled into a grin. “You’re going to Cameron’s party?” he asked. “Aw, do you miss him?”
I gave him a sarcastic smile.
“Fine, I’ll meet you there,” he said, and with that, he slung his bag over his shoulder and walked out into the corridor, still holding the gold envelope.
“It’s only five past four!” I shouted, but he waved his hand dismissively and carried on.
A few moments later, Mr. Greggory came back into the room. “Where has Wilson gone?” he asked, looking down the corridor.
“Shockingly, he left,” I said.
Mr. Greggory sighed. “Well, you may go too, Ella. I understand that you are here because of him, but in the future, don’t let him provoke you. You are a smart kid, but boys like him lead you astray.”
Lead me astray? He wants to fucking evict me!