Authors: Aileen Erin
He wasn’t joking. Vampires had invaded campus my first week at St. Ailbe’s. My second week, Dastien, Mr. Dawson—the principal—and a few others had gotten kidnapped as part of a werewolf coup. Since then, the pack had been a little stressed. It was slowly getting better, but it’d taken a toll on everyone.
He ran his fingers through my hair. “I’m sure she’ll be okay once the moon passes.”
“She’d better be,” I said.
“I’m heading out to patrol, but I wanted to come say goodnight before I left.” The campus had been on lockdown every night since the vampires had shown up on campus. They hadn’t come back so far, but he spent at least part of every evening making sure no vampires came back.
“Okay,” I said, but I really wanted him to stay.
“But then I heard what you two were talking about…”
I scrunched my eyes shut. This was so embarrassing.
“We have to do the Full Moon Ceremony this month,
. I know you’re scared about changing and what the ceremony means, but the Tribunal starts next Wednesday. If we don’t do it now, our case won’t be as strong. I have to do everything in my power to make sure you’re safe and that we have a future together.”
Dastien had broken werewolf law number one when he bit me. He’d lost control. Usually that meant death, but since we were true mates, Donovan and Sebastian—two of the Seven—pardoned us. Unfortunately, I lost control shortly after that and nearly ripped out Dastien’s ex-girlfriend’s neck, which brought up the issues all over again. Imogene deserved
it, but her father still filed a complaint against us, calling for a formal Tribunal. Nothing could stop that once the process started.
Next week, the Seven and a bunch of other pack alphas would come to St. Ailbe’s to decide our punishment. Everyone kept saying it would be okay, but Dastien was right. We needed every little thing we could get to help our case.
I knew in my head and in my heart that doing the Full Moon Ceremony was the right move, but I was still nervous. “So, what comes after the ceremony?”
Dastien pressed a kiss to the top of my head. “That’s entirely up to you. I’m not rushing you on anything else. I think I’ve done that enough.”
I sat up enough to look at him. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” I meant that. I really, truly loved Dastien.
As our mate-bond settled in, we grew more in tune with each other. Meredith swore that after we did the Full Moon Ceremony silent conversation over any distance would be just as easy as actually talking. Until then, we could only feel the other’s strong emotions.
His love burned hot through our bond as he held me.
Someone knocked on my door, shouting something in French.
“That’s my cue,” Dastien said.
“Are you coming back tonight?”
His frown made his left dimple show up. “We’re hunting the far grounds. It’ll be really late before I get back, and you need your sleep. Dr. Mozan’s test is tomorrow, right?”
“Good luck. I’ll see you tomorrow at lunch, okay?”
“Okay. Stay safe.”
.” He got up, pressing another soft kiss against my lips. “Want me to get the light?”
“Please.” I curled up against the pillow. It smelled like forest and something just him. Closing my eyes, I let go of the worry, and sunk into a deep, dreamless sleep.
The sound of metal and plastic shattering against the wall startled me from my sleep.
“Again? That’s the third one you’ve broken this week!” I yelled to Meredith. Both doors to our connecting bathroom were open, so I could see straight through from my room to hers. “Tell that alarm clock how you really feel.”
“It needed to go to hell. So I sent it there.” Meredith’s voice was muffled, still mostly asleep. “I’m freaking tired. Need more sleep.”
For a girl who was positively perky all the time, Meredith moved slower than molasses when she first woke up. Everyday it was the same. She’d hit her snooze at least five times. Every once in a while, she’d chuck the alarm clock against the wall in frustration. But three days in a row was a streak, even for a girl who stashed boxes of them in her closet.
Rolling out of bed, I grabbed a fresh towel, and went to shower. Once I was up and dressed, Meredith usually got going.
The bathroom’s tiny black and white hexagonal tiles were cold beneath my feet. I pushed the shower curtain aside, and turned the water on, and then closed the door to Meredith’s room.
Bathrooms used to be a nightmare for me. Before, wearing gloves was the only way to stop from getting visions. Unfortunately, gloves had never panned out in the shower. Total nightmare. But now I didn’t need the gloves. Without visions hitting me all the time, I got ready so much faster.
I opened Meredith’s door when I was done. Her room was a riot of color. She had endless make-up and beauty supplies in the bookcase next to her bed, and a desk piled with magazines. She was still completely covered by her comforter. I poked where I thought her back might be. “Your turn.” She grunted, and I went back through the bathroom to my room.
The layout was a mirror image of Meredith’s, but where Meredith had color, I had white. Mostly because I had to make sure that everything I touched was brand new and extra clean. Bleach helped burn the visions out of anything. It wasn’t necessary anymore, but it’d become a habit.
Three long metal shelves were drilled into the wall beside my bed. They held actual books, in alphabetical order by author and sorted by genre. The framed print hanging above my bed was knocked askew. Underneath a big grinning Cheshire Cat, in big purple and pink block letters, it read, “Keep calm. We’re all mad here.” It’d been a gift from my brother. He was enjoying college life, but I missed the dork.
I quickly dressed in skinny jeans and a T-shirt, and checked my watch. I was actually making good time this morning. I might even have time to review my notes on Dr. Mozan’s chemistry class before breakfast.
I paused as I brushed my hair. Why wasn’t Meredith in the shower yet? She was always up by now. “Hey? Are you getting up?”
She didn’t answer.
I went through the bathroom and into her room. She was still huddled under her covers. “Come on, chica. It’s time to get up. You’re gonna miss breakfast.” She didn’t respond at all. “Hey, you okay?” I pulled the blankets away from her face.
Meredith blinked her bloodshot eyes at me. A piece of her hot pink hair was stuck to her forehead. “I don’t know. My limbs ache.”
Aching limbs sounded like the flu. “You seem sick, but that’s—”
“Impossible,” Meredith said. “Werewolves can’t get sick.”
That might be true, but she looked pretty pale to me. I pressed the back of my hand to her forehead. “You’re ice cold.” Which was odd. All over Texas it was hitting over ninety degrees, and werewolves ran hotter than humans.
“I’m not sick.” She sat up. “I’m just feeling extra slow today. It’s a side effect of the curse. I’ll be fine once I’m up and about.”
I raised my eyebrows, but said nothing. She’d know better than me what was wrong with her. “Well, I’m going to finish getting ready. You gonna get up?”
“Yeah. Today’s French toast day. I’m not missing that for anything. Just give me ten, I’ll be ready.”
“Cool.” I went back to my room and shoved my homework in my Tokidoki messenger bag. Meredith closed my door to the bathroom and turned on the shower. I opened my laptop to go over my notes, but a message from my brother, Axel, was in my inbox. The subject line read, “Whasrt’ds uopl?”
Was that English?
I snorted as I opened it. It took a bit of deciphering, but I got the gist—he went to a party last night. The send time said three AM. Poor guy would be hurting when he woke up. I turned on the latest from BBC Radio One’s Essential Mix—a totally sweet set from Sasha and Pete Tong at a club in Manchester—and started replying to Axel’s email.
I was about to hit send when the smell hit me. I paused the music.
“Meredith?” I asked through the door.
She gagged, and my blood went cold. Meredith hadn’t been lying when she said that werewolves didn’t get sick. They could heal broken bones in a few hours.
So, why was Meredith puking in our bathroom?
My chest tightened. Something was seriously wrong with my best friend.
I knocked on the bathroom door. “You okay in there?”
More noises followed that I wished I hadn’t heard. Especially not with my new super sensitive hearing. Yuck.
I took a deep breath and fully cursed my werewolf senses. I could smell her half-digested food—the fried pork chops weren’t so appealing on the way out. There was something metallic in the air, too. Willing myself not to barf, I cracked open the door.
Meredith’s hair blocked her face from my view as she hovered over the toilet. I glanced around the bathroom, trying to figure out what I could do to help as she heaved. The mirrored medicine cabinet didn’t have anything even remotely medicine-like in it. Werewolves didn’t need it.
What was I even looking for?
Right. Hair band. I searched one of my carefully organized drawers beneath the sink, not caring that I was messing it up, and grabbed a black elastic. I quickly tied her hair back.
A chill ripped through me. “Umm…Meredith? Is there blood in your puke?”
“What the hell is happening to me?” Her voice was soft, and shook with fear. “I’ve never been sick like this before. I’ve never thrown up in my life. During the day of the full moon I get weak, but not this…”
“I don’t know what’s going on.” I pressed the back of my hand to her forehead. It was still clammy. “I’m gonna get help.”
Before I got to my cell, it was ringing. Dastien’s photo lit up my screen.
“Hey,” he said as soon as I answered. I could hear the leaves crunching under his feet as he ran. “What’s wrong? Why are you panicking?” He’d no doubt felt my freak out through our bond. My fear for Meredith definitely qualified as a strong emotion.
“Meredith’s puking blood.”
. Watch her. If she starts seizing, call me back. I’m grabbing Dr. Gonzales on my way.”
“What do you mean if she starts seizing? What the hell’s going on?”
The line was silent. He’d hung up?
Shit. He’d totally hung up on me.
Seizing? I ran through the little bit of first aid training I was forced to do in health class back in Los Angeles. Move them away from anything that could hurt them. Cushion their head. Loosen constrictive clothing around their neck.
Meredith was curled up on her side, hopefully done with puking. She was far enough away from the tub that she probably wouldn’t hit her head.
Her clothing—a hot pink tank top that matched the dyed sections in her hair and a pair of black sleep shorts—wasn’t constrictive at all. I grabbed a towel from our rack and folded it to put under her head.
“I feel horrible,” Meredith said. I ran a washcloth under hot water and handed it to her. She wiped her face before quickly sitting up, barely making it back to the toilet as she dry heaved.
“Take slow, deep breaths. It might help.” I sat on the edge of the tub next to her, rubbing my hand up and down her back.
She closed her eyes, following my advice. “Have you ever puked before?”
“Uh, yeah. I used to be human.”
She started puking again. If possible, Meredith turned even paler. I tried not to look—I didn’t want to—but it was like a train wreck. I couldn’t turn away as a little bit of blood dribbled from her mouth.
“How do you get used to it?” She said when she got back under control.
I snorted. Meredith had grown up a Were and had never been sick before. I was the only wolf in a very long while to be turned from a human. “No one gets used to it. Throwing up sucks.” It especially sucks when you’re puking blood. I wasn’t a doctor, but I knew that something was majorly wrong with her.
“Yeah. No shit.”
I smiled, but it felt strained.
Where the hell was Dastien? I rubbed my sweating palms on my T-shirt.
A minute later, my bedroom door swung open so fast it slammed the wall. I moved to the doorway of the bathroom to see Dastien stride in with Dr. Gonzales behind him. His eyes were glowing a light gold, telling me that his wolf was close to the surface.
Dastien squeezed my hand for a second before squatting next to Meredith. “How are you?”
“How do I look?”
She did look pretty horrible. Her skin glistened with sweat and was so pale that it looked nearly see-through. Shadows hung under her glass-blue eyes, but it was her slouching shoulders that told me how poorly she felt. Werewolves had the best posture, but she was hunched over like she couldn’t even carry the weight of her head.
“Well, at least I look better than I feel,” she said.
Dastien grabbed her chin and looked into her eyes. I didn’t know what he was doing, but Meredith started to squirm as she tried to avert her gaze. “It’s what we thought. Her wolf’s awake and fighting her curse.”
Dr. Gonzales’ stilettos clacked against the tiles as she entered the bathroom. Werewolves might not get sick, but they definitely had a tendency to get into fights. She was around to patch us up.
The doctor always dressed like she was coming from a boardroom meeting. A pale pink blouse with a tie-neck was tucked into her dark gray pencil skirt. Instead of the blazer to finish off the skirt suit, she wore a white lab coat with her name embroidered in blue along the pocket. A black messenger bag held all of her first aid stuff. “We knew this might happen at some point. Can you calm her?” she asked Dastien.
As a strong alpha, Dastien could quiet or rouse the wolf in any Were. He made a shushing-purring sound at Meredith as he pushed power at her. He’d done it to me before when I felt out of control and it quieted my wolf, but Meredith didn’t turn to pudding like I did. Instead, she squirmed, trying to break free from his gaze.
That didn’t make any sense. Dastien’s shushing always worked.
“She’s too far gone. The wolf has been suppressed for so long…” Dastien stepped away, making room for Dr. Gonzales.
“What does that mean?” Meredith said.
“Might be a good idea to sedate her until we figure out other options and inform her parents.”