Eve was young. She was seventeen—practically eighteen, she would say.
She was a normal teenage girl; she wanted to simultaneously live her own life and meet the person of her dreams that would take her to expensive countries and pamper her.
She looked forward to graduating high school and attending university where she could study neuroscience.
She yearned to be independent but knew she still relied heavily on her parents’ assistance. She wanted to be happy and to make others happy, too, because everyone should aim to spread happiness, not sadness.
Eve was Nigerian-American; her father was Black, and her mother was White. Her skin was a lovely shade of sienna, and while people envied her natural tan, she felt uncomfortable living in her mostly White neighborhood.
Her hair was thick and so curly that it would knot immediately after showering if she did not brush it. Her raven locks often turned frizzy, much to her dismay, even if it wasn’t humid or hot out.
Her family always cooed about how beautiful her hair was, but they didn’t understand.
They didn’t realize how ostracizing it was to walk into a store and only see products for hair that was not hers or to be asked constantly if she’d “brushed through it today.”
She liked her hair in a way; she liked being different, and she liked how she naturally had the curls other people artificially sought, but she was insecure because she was different.
Sometimes, in moments of great uncertainty, she wished she looked a little more like her mother, but then her father would pull her to his side and tell her stories of “brave and inspiring African leaders.”
Her mom was an office manager for a car dealership, and her dad worked as a businessman for Tex Industries. Her father resembled one of those rarely-home-but-still-financially-stable types.
Austin Ademusayo had worked hard to get where he was. He’d grown up in the slums of New York after his parents emigrated from Nigeria. He’d worked his ass off to be able to attend university once he’d graduated high school.
After he finished his undergraduate studies at Wagner College, he went to Stanford University to complete his master’s.
Shortly after graduating with degrees in telecommunications and business, he met Eve’s mother, Jessica Raine.
Jessica grew up in a middle-class family in suburban California. She had honey eyes and light-brown hair, but people always commented on her dazzling smile. “Evangeline has my smile,” she would say.
Jessica went to Pepperdine University for her bachelor’s degree and UCLA for her master’s in marketing. Jessica met Austin through an internship at an engineering firm. A few years later, they married and had Evangeline.
Her parents were normally happy, and Eve was thankful for that. She was thankful for the lifestyle her parents worked so hard for, but she always felt their work responsibilities took away their time at home.
She missed them.
When both held low-priority jobs, they had game nights, movie nights, went to baseball games…she missed it all. She missed being the center of someone’s world.
Eve strolled tiredly into the living room with her backpack on. Her parents would not be home from work for a few hours, so she sat down and worked on homework.
She cared about school, and her grades indicated that. She worked hard to play hard, but she didn’t play that hard, either.
She enjoyed reading instead of going out. She liked being alone more than being around others. She preferred having one close friend to twenty distant ones.
Her acquaintances thought she was odd for being so introverted, but to her, it felt normal—it felt safe.
As the doorknob turned, Eve looked up at her mom walking in. She smiled before returning to her work.
Jessica groaned as she put her purse down on the kitchen table. This was their routine; Jessica would always talk about her day after she came home from work, and Eve would politely comment here and there.
“You would not believe what Christopher had the audacity to say to me today!
“So I’m in the middle of this big sale, and he comes beside me and says, ‘It’s a nice-looking car, but it won’t look so nice when you see its mileage.’ ”
Jessica turned to Eve with her hands on her hips as she spoke. She groaned in annoyance as she sifted through her purse.
“Wow, that sucks,” Eve muttered. It wasn’t that she didn’t care, she just wasn’t quite interested.
“Is that all you have to say?” Jessica asked, taking out her car keys and placing them on a hanging rack on the wall.
Eve looked up and feigned anger. “That dick! How dare he!”
“That’s what I’m saying!” Jessica responded emphatically, swiping her hair out of her eyes. Jessica continued to tell Eve about her day until, twenty minutes later, she turned around and gestured to the door.
“Oh, remember, we have that ball on Sunday for Dad’s coworker. We are flying out tomorrow. Is June sleeping over?”
Eve’s eyes widened; she had completely forgotten. She nodded as she picked up her phone.
June Lee was her best friend from the same boarding school. They would gossip, watch TV, and spend most days together unless one or the other wanted alone time.
June was the bad influence her parents warned her about, but soon even her parents fell in love with June’s charisma.
As the tone rang in her ear, Eve stood up and turned to her mother. “Is Dad coming home tonight?”
Jessica shook her head as she sifted through the mail.
Eve wasn’t shocked; her father spent most days without them. She had a bit of pent-up frustration and hostility toward her father, but at the end of the day, he paid for her school, car, food, and house.
He worked for his family; Eve just missed him dearly.
“June said she’d come, right?”
Eve nodded and laid her pen on her notebook. “Yeah, she said she can come. I asked her like a week ago. We’re wearing gowns, right?”
Jessica nodded and went over to her daughter to kiss her forehead. Jessica prided herself on her image; she was always in tip-top shape, even if they were spending the day at home.
Jessica was always dressed to the tens, her hair was never out of place, and her makeup was always flawless. Sometimes, Eve wondered why she couldn’t be as put-together as her mother.
“Yes, sweetheart. You’re just going to wear your prom dress, right? When is she coming? I suggest soon. Our flight is very early tomorrow, so both of you need sleep.”
“I haven’t asked her about sleeping over. I’m calling her right now to find out. I’ll let you know.”
Eve groaned in annoyance as her call went to voicemail but dialed again and brought her phone to her ear.
Eve kissed her mom’s cheek before going upstairs to her room. On the way up, June’s voice finally filtered through the speakers.
“Dude, it’s like nine. It’s past my bedtime.” June groaned. Eve smiled at her friend’s naturally chirpy voice.
“Look, I’m sorry to inform you that no matter how much you sleep, you’ll never get rid of that thing you call a face.”
“Wow, Eve, wow. You wound me. Do you even want me to come tomorrow?”
Eve laughed before changing the topic. “Do you want to sleep over tonight? Our flight is really early tomorrow.”
June laughed over the line as Eve lay down on her bed.
“Yeah, sure. Give me twenty minutes, and I’ll be over. I just have to shower.”
“All right, see you soon,” Eve said. She hung up and laid her phone on her bed before sitting up and grabbing pajamas to change into after showering.
Eve was happy June was coming over because June was the only friend she could actually stand being around for long periods of time.
Both were slightly introverted, which meant that they each gave the other time to themselves without being angry or judgmental.
When Eve went back to her room after her shower, June was already on the bed, playing on her phone. She sat up and smiled at Eve. “Sup, loser,” she greeted.
“I’m the loser, huh?” Eve asked, walking in with a towel in her hand to dry her hair. “I’m the loser when you are clearly watching anime on your phone.”
“It’s art!” June rebuked.
“It’s dorky art.” Eve laughed as June rolled her eyes and laid back down. Eve’s home was practically June’s home as well. She was always over, doing homework or helping Eve with her studies.
After Eve dried her hair, she grabbed her phone and, as friends do, they lay there enjoying each other’s company without talking—and that’s just how they liked it.
They fell asleep around midnight when both of their phones needed to be plugged in to charge.
It was around five in the morning when he came home to take them to the airport.
Austin laughed the next morning when he opened his daughter’s door and saw her and June sharing one pillow.
Austin was a businessman; he had not lied about that. He chose to believe that he never lied; he just never told his daughter the complete truth.
Jessica knew about his ties with the wolves of Romanov. She knew that Austin was the liaison between lycanthropes and humans, but their daughter had no idea the wolf world existed.
If they could tell her, they would have, but there were strict laws regarding humans knowing about the existence of lycanthropes.
If you were mated to a human, you could tell that one human. If you worked for the kingdom, you could tell your spouse. Other than that, no one was supposed to know that mythological creatures were roaming the streets.
“Are you okay?”
Hearing his wife’s voice, Austin turned around and wrapped his arm around her waist. “Yeah, I am,” he replied in a whisper.
“So the king is really…”
“It’s a shame. Whoever they were probably didn’t deserve him anyway.”
It was no secret that the king of wolves was impeccably handsome. His dark hair and gentle personality were what girls desired in their deep, dark fantasies. It irked Austin that his wife also thought so.
The lycan king alpha was over three centuries old, but he’d stopped aging in his twenties. He had an old disposition with a modern appearance.
Austin grimaced while Jessica grinned. She liked that he was still a bit possessive of her even after all these years. Jessica kissed her husband softly, wrapping a delicate hand around his neck.
“Don’t worry…I still find you incredibly sex—”
“Please, for the love of God, do not finish that sentence!”
Jessica and Austin paled at their daughter’s voice. Their heads snapped back to Eve, who was sitting up on her purple comforter, rubbing her eyes.
“How much did you hear?” Austin asked.
“Too much about my mother finding my dad a word I never want to hear from my mom again! Really! At my door too! That was out of pocket, my dudes,” she joked, yawning.
“June, wake up. It’s time to go.” Eve gently nudged her friend’s side. June groaned and put the pillow over her head.
“Touch me again if you want to die. I’m sleeping!”
Eve rolled her eyes with a teasing smirk.
“Get up, you two. Time to go. We have to leave here in fifteen.”
Her parents walked away, whispering to each other like children. Eve got up and brushed her teeth before setting her toothbrush in her bag.
She brought her bag downstairs and put it next to the door before walking back to her room. She was happy to see June up and moving around.
“I want you to know I hate you so much right now,” June murmured. Eve laughed and shook her head in dismissal as she helped June bring her suitcase downstairs.
Within a few minutes, both had cereal and were ready to go. Within the next few hours, they were on the plane on their way to…
Eve cocked her head as she looked out the plane window. “Dad, where are we going?” Eve asked. She couldn’t believe it had never occurred to her to ask why the hell they needed to be on a plane.
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