I hauled my suitcase out of the taxi’s trunk and onto the cobblestone street. The taxi driver hardly gave me time to get out of the way before he pulled off.
He probably sensed the same feeling of dread as I did looking at this place. I shoved my hair from my face and glared at the wrought iron fence.
The building sitting behind it reminded me of something out of a Gothic novel. If the Louisiana heat didn’t have me in a bad mood, the look of the university did.
Nothing screamed modern or school spirit. I was surprised at the lack of fog or crows on the fence posts. Someone cue the random black cat.
This is where my parents met? What possessed them to go here?
I couldn’t imagine anyone falling in love in a place like this. Going missing, sure, but no romance.
I rolled my suitcase onto the sidewalk and stepped into the danger zone. My heart felt heavy the closer I walked to the entrance. The terrible feeling of dread consumed me from the inside out.
Trent sent me ten texts on my taxi ride over. He’d made it to LSU the week before, the closest university to me, which wasn’t that close. We agreed to make it work, with phone calls, FaceTime, and visits.
But I felt doubtful. How many long distance relationships worked out in the end? I didn’t have any statistics, but I figured not many.
The only information they sent me was an assigned room number and my roommate’s name: Jaka Smith.
There were numerous students sitting at tables near the entrance of the building, each with a laptop and a canopy above them. I guessed that was my first stop.
The closer I got, the more the students stared and made me cringe.
Fresh meat? Or is something in my hair?
I stopped in front of the most non-intimidating one, a girl with blonde hair and a freckled nose. “Hi. Welcome to Werewolf U. Name?”
“Savannah Harper,” I said.
She clicked on her laptop, glancing over at a few of the other students whispering to each other. I clutched the handle of my suitcase.
“You’re located in Hellman Hall. It’s just beyond this building. Here is your adviser’s name, your schedule, and everything you need for your first day.”
I grabbed the packet but she stopped me. I looked down at her deep brown eyes and the shimmering half-moon necklace around her neck.
“If you need anything, I’m located in Moonshine Hall. I’m the RA, Krissy. Just ask around and they’ll lead you to me.”
The others looked off when I glanced at them. “Sure thing. Thanks.”
I hurried out of their sight, getting creepy vibes from them all. If I wasn’t scared enough already, now I felt like I wore a big stamp on my head that read Loser.
I just hoped my roommate didn’t share their impression of me.
Hellman Hall was a castle-like building with large bricks and the same cobblestone walkway. Several students stood outside of the entrance with their parents. They looked normal enough, with smiles and excitement.
A deep ache grew in my stomach. It hurt that my parents couldn’t be here and that Grammy didn’t think her coming was a good idea.
She couldn’t even give me a good reason other than riding in a vehicle for so long hurt her hips. Who takes a taxi to their first day of college other than the little orphan girl?
I rolled my suitcase to the elevator and watched the numbers climb to the third floor. Nervously, I tugged at the end of my braid and swallowed the growing lump in my throat.
Several girls stood outside of their rooms, hugging one another, and chatting among themselves.
I stopped at room 303, and opened the wide set door to my room.
Someone barreled toward me like a rabid dog. “Hi!”
I took a step back, startled, and looked over at my new roommate. She was elfish looking, with small features and a button nose. She clasped her hands together underneath her chin and bounced on her heels.
“I’m Jaka Smith, and you’re Savannah Harper. It’s so nice to meet you. You look just like your Facebook picture.”
I smiled nervously. “Nice to meet you too.”
Jaka looked behind me. “You didn’t bring anyone with you either?”
I shook my head and lugged my suitcase onto the bare bed. She’d already started decorating her side of the room with bright pinks and yellows. They were happy colors at least.
I didn’t think I could deal with anymore doom and gloom. The university was dark enough.
“Nope, just me. My Grammy wasn’t able to make the drive.”
She kept quiet for a few seconds, and pulled her strawberry blonde hair into a low-hanging ponytail. “Your grandma raised you?”
I sat on my bed and kicked off my shoes. “Yeah, my parents died when I was little. What about you? Your parents didn’t come?”
She leaned against the wooden frame of her bed and shook her head. “No. They were busy. Dad owns a huge law firm and Mom was too busy with my twin sisters.”
“Bummer,” I mumbled, looking around. “So, I guess I’ll unpack and get things set up. I haven’t looked at my information yet, but what happens the day before classes?”
She squealed. “The alpha party.”
Alpha party? She looked at me as if I should know what that meant. “What is that?” I asked.
She pulled her brows down a bit. “The biggest party before school. Where we meet all of the alphas.”
Oh, I get it. Alphas. Wolves. Boy, do they take this stuff seriously.
I sat a picture of Trent and me on my nightstand. Jaka walked over and looked at it. I watched the confusion travel over her face. “Do you have a brother?”
Her light-green eyes moved to mine and held. Did her parents not let her date? She tilted her head as if she wanted to say something different but didn’t. “Courageous of you. Are you two trying to make it work?”
Courageous? Since when is dating courageous? “Yeah, he is going to LSU this year. We plan to FaceTime and schedule seeing each other.”
She pressed her lips into a thin line but reluctantly smiled. “The boys here won’t like that, you know.”
I eyed her over my shoulder. “I don’t care what the boys here like.”
Jaka made a face. “Okay. Well, when you finish, you want to head to the cafeteria for some food? I’m starving.”
“Sure,” I said. “I didn’t bring much; I’ll only be a few minutes.”
The cafeteria’s food impressed me more than the campus. I had never been a picky eater, more of a carnivore than a sweet eater, and it seemed they had plenty of meat to choose from.
After we stuffed our faces, I felt better knowing someone around campus and found Jaka’s personality refreshing.
She insisted I dress up for the party that I did not want to go to, but I might as well try to fit in sooner rather than later.
I wore a pair of high-waist black pants and a red crop top that flattered my waistline. I didn’t bother with my hair and left it in a braid.
Jaka spent forever on her makeup, and when she was ~finally~ ready to leave it was well beyond dark.
I didn’t know too much about the campus, but I didn’t want to end up a statistic of campus rape or anything. “Do you know where we’re going?” I asked.
She skipped a bit. “Yes. It’s the Alpha House.”
I fought the urge to roll my eyes. “Is it a party? Like alcohol and dancing?”
Jaka eyed me suspiciously, as if she was surprised I didn’t know anything about this. “Yeah, kind of. I can’t wait.”
She looped her arm through mine and pulled me along the darkened sidewalk. The campus looked spooky, but there were tons of kids walking in the same direction as us.
The fraternity house didn’t look like what I expected, which was similar to a small suburban home.
This looked more like the rest of the campus. I half expected to see gargoyles sitting on the roof. Or a ghostly figure watching out of the top story window.
“Do they all live here?”
“Yeah, silly,” she said. “All the alpha’s live in the same place. They throw this at the beginning of the semester each year.”
Music blasted from the opened door of this medieval-style house, and students lined the stairs and front yard, all laughing and excited.
I followed Jaka through the huge double doors, seeing a grand staircase that circled the front entrance. Their fraternity symbol of a howling wolf with the letter A designed around it sat against the front wall.
Someone handed Jaka a drink, and she took it without thinking. I snatched it from her hand. “Someone could have spiked that.”
She laughed. “You’re silly. Come on, we’ll go pour you one from the keg.”
I didn’t think being cautious about date rape was silly, but whatever.
The spotless tile floor looked like granite and spelled out ALPHAS in dark black against the white. I followed Jaka who seemed to know the way into the kitchen.
The spotless appliances sparkled in the low-hanging lights. I couldn’t understand how a group of guys had such a nice and clean place, but I wasn’t complaining. Jaka poured me a beer and I nursed it.
I hated beer.
I’d always grab a cup and sip it the entire night to avoid someone badgering me about it.
Jaka led me toward the living room that was converted into a dancefloor. “You want to dance?”
I shook my head. “No way. I’m more of a stand in the corner and watch everyone else kind of girl.”
Jaka pouted but didn’t leave me alone, which I was thankful for. Everyone seemed so comfortable with each other, and it made me feel out of place. Didn’t my parents’ letter say I’d fit in.
They were wrong.
My phone buzzed in my pocket, and I pulled out a text from Trent.
Jaka’s head turned toward the staircase and she bounced on her toes. “Oh. My. God. Here they come.”
I glanced over, seeing no one coming down the stairs, and turned back to my text messages.
I hated the burn in my chest. Why did LSU have to be so far?
Jaka squealed and I noticed some of the other girls staring at the empty stairs. She pulled on my arm excitedly, and I gave her a polite smile.
A loud thunder of footsteps, and a chant, came from the second story. All the girls raced over toward the noise. Jaka tried to pull me toward the group of guys descending the stairs, but I shook my head.
She looked at me as if I had two heads. Most of the guys, for obvious reasons, stayed back. Not as interested as the female population.
Their chant sounded like something out of a typical college movie, which I didn’t know was a real thing.
A girl screamed and I craned my neck to see her jump at one of the guys. Must be old friends.
Someone else squealed, and I noticed some of the girls running at random guys, like they were claiming them. These guys must be full of themselves if girls act like this around them.
The smell of woods, a deep sappy scent, hit my nose. Someone’s cologne was mouthwatering.
I glanced up from my phone and noticed the crowd breaking. A male, older than me for sure, walked through, his dark gaze swept over the crowd eagerly.
His fingers tightened into fists at his sides. If I hadn’t been in love with Trent, I would have stared longer, but I didn’t miss how tight his T-shirt was over what looked like an impressive build.
Arm porn, anyone?
Now that I thought about it, most of the guys looked like they worked out.
The mystery guy continued toward the living room where I hid in the corner. His jawline rivaled any Marvel character, his lush lips parted, and he inhaled as if he smelled something tasty.
Maybe it was that dude’s cologne.
My phone buzzed again and I checked it.
A shadow fell over my phone, and I glanced up at the culprit. My phone slipped from my hands and hit the tile floor as I met his gaze.
The mystery guy stopped in front of me, a dark stubble blanketed his jaw, and his darker eyes set me on fire. My body hummed from the inside out, like bumble bees swarming my stomach.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
The smell engulfed my lungs. This was the cologne guy.
The corner of his mouth twitched. I wasn’t sure if it was in annoyance or admiration. I noticed too late that everyone in the room stared at us. A blush crawled up my neck at the numerous sets of eyes on me.
What is going on…
I backed up against the wall, and he took a step with me. One large hand wrapped around the nape of my neck and he dragged my mouth close to his.
“Mine,” he whispered.
I swallowed, feeling the urgent need to run. I slammed my fists against his chest and shoved, but he didn’t budge or move his hand.
Jaka made her way over slowly, peeking around his shoulder at me. “Savannah, this is Dax—”
“I don’t care who he is,” I hissed. “Get off me—”
Whispers flowed over the crowd and pissed me off further.
Realization washed over her face. “She doesn’t know,” she whispered to Dax.
He glanced down at her and then back at me.
“Well,” he said, his tone raspy and deep. My legs quivered at his voice and I hated myself for this. I’d never cheated on Trent before.
What is wrong with me?
“This is going to get interesting, Savannah.”
He bent down farther, his mouth a hairbreadth away from my own, his scent drew chills up my back. “I’m your mate.”
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