“Really,” she explained, “You should have had these before we placed you into hiding. But everything was done in such a rush... anyway, you should have them now.”

Caia took photographs from her hand. She gasped, gazing at the first one. It was of a toddler standing in between a man’s knees as he bent down to huddle her close. Their green eyes matched, twinkling mischievously.

“Is this... my father and me?”


Goddess, her father had been just as gorgeous as the rest of them. She snorted as she looked at herself. Even as a toddler she had looked scrawny and weird, her head just a mass of blonde curls and her eyes too large for her face. There were two other photographs; one of her father by himself, gazing into the camera with this weary sadness in his eyes. The last of her and her father again, except a younger Magnus was in this one with them. Magnus had her on his shoulders and her father was trailing at the back of them, seeming to protest at her being up so high. His eyes were happier with her, his love palpable even in these old pictures. For the first time in years she felt that searing stab in her chest at the pain of his loss. She blinked, a tear falling onto the picture.

“Oh!” Ella jumped, and Caia looked up to see that the kitchen tap had come on full blast, splashing water onto the floor. She ignored it as Ella rushed to switch it off, muttering under her breath.

“Thank you.” She smiled at Ella, brushing the tears from her cheeks. “This means a lot. Ella?”

Ella looked back her distractedly. “Yeah?”

“Do you have photos of me with my mom?”

Ella seemed to blanch. “Uh-”


“Hey, party people!” They both turned to see Jaeden bouncing in the doorway.

“Hi honey.” Ella smiled brightly at her. She looked almost relieved by her appearance. “Well, I’ve got errands to run.” She strode towards the kitchen door, brushing an affectionate hand down Jaeden’s cheek. “Look after her.”

She was gone before Caia had spoken another word.

Jaeden talked non-stop in the car on the way to school. Having learned that Ryder had made an appearance at dinner the night before, she was full of questions.

“And you... what... spoke to him?” she asked in awe.

“No, we had conversation through the power of thought,” Caia answered sarcastically.

Jaeden rolled her eyes. “You know what I mean?”

“The guy is really not that intimidating. Not compared to Lucien.”

“Pfft. Ryder makes Lucien look like a border collie.”

Caia didn’t believe that for a second. “He really is cool, Jaeden. You should try talking to him. Mention movies.”

The girl shook her head in disbelief. “Here for two days and you managed to speak more words to that guy than I have in a lifetime.”

Caia glanced sharply at her, worried that she may have annoyed her new friend already. She knew girls could get weird about guys, and Jaeden had kind of warned her. But no, she breathed a sigh of relief, Jaeden was smiling at her, her eyes laughing. “Movies huh?”


“I’ll give it a shot.”

“Class, this is our new student, Caia Ribeiro,” the overly enthusiastic English teacher sing-songed. “Why don’t you find a seat, Caia.”

She wanted the floor to open up and swallow her. There were a few seats available in the classroom, but the problem was that one of the vacancies was beside Alexa. Everyone had seen her sit in the cafeteria with her yesterday, so if she didn’t sit with her now it would look like she was snubbing her. Enter the real problem: Alexa’s dislike of her. Crap, she thought, as she teased her lip between her teeth, nervously walking towards the seat. This was why she was a loner at her old school. She gave Alexa a small smile. The dark beauty almost snarled back at her. Groaning, Caia slid into the chair, fully aware of the students looking at her. It seemed like forever before the teacher finally started doing her job, and the class was once again preoccupied.

“You don’t mind too much, do you?” Caia mumbled under her breath, aware that Alexa could hear her with her sensitive lykan ears. “About the seat?”

“You can sit wherever you want. It’s a free country.”

Caia let that go, listening to the English teacher as she handed out copies of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense as part of the American Literature curriculum. She sighed. English Lit was her favorite subject, and she had sort of been hoping the class would be interesting enough to take her mind off the she-devil sitting on her left side, but she’d read that one already at her last school.

Around fifteen minutes into the class, an adult Caia didn’t recognize walked into the room and murmured something in the teacher’s ear.

The teacher sighed and turned to them. “Open your books and read the introduction while I deal with this,” she grumbled, leaving the room. The hum of noise rose to an extraordinary level. Not that any of the noise pertained to the book that was being discussed.

“You understand I don’t trust you,” Alexa hissed from beside her.

Startled, Caia turned to the girl, curious as to what she had done to emit such a reaction. “Why?” She shook her head in confusion.

“You’re not like the rest of us, Caia, and that’s plain to everyone, even you.” She sneered. “I bet you think you’re better than us.”

Caia’s eyebrows puckered in confusion. There was that ‘you’re not like us’ stuff again. She felt the heat under her cheeks and hoped to goddess Alexa couldn’t see it. Unused to confrontations of any kind, Caia squirmed uncomfortably. “I don’t think I’m better than anybody. You don’t even know me.”

“Whatever. Just know that I’m watching you. I’m not going to be taken in by your ‘I’m so fragile and innocent’ crap, and I’ll make damn sure Lucien isn’t either. And if you do anything to jeopardize the pack, I’ll be the first one there to gouge a piece out of your hind.”

She was being threatened? Unjustifiably? She felt a flush of what could only be described as white hot heat. It flickered over her skin, up her neck, and into her face. Of a sudden Alexa’s chair was pushed with force away from Caia’s body and into a startled girl, who started batting at Alexa to get off of her. The class was snickering, gazing at Caia like she had done it. Alexa’s eyes flashed on her angrily, half collapsed on the girl, and half draped over the chair that was tilted up at a precarious angle from the crash. She was blazing with fury.

I didn’t do it, Caia thought defensively, why is she mad at me?

“Girls, what on earth is going on over there?” The English teacher queried in annoyance as she re-entered the room.

Alexa got to her feet, glaring at Caia and pushing her chair back beside her. “Nothing,” she replied smoothly, sweetly, not taking her eyes from Caia.

“Just stop the shenanigans.”

“Sorry.” She slid gracefully back into her seat and turned to Caia, whose eyes were still round as saucers with shock.

“You just made a huge mistake.” Alexa smiled evilly. “Kicking my chair with the force of your strength in front of ‘them’,” she whispered, indicating the room of giggling human students, all of whom were still looking at the two of them. “Lucien would not be happy if he knew.”

Caia shook her head rapidly. “I didn’t kick you.”

“Oh cut the innocent bull. Your ass is mine. You better keep me happy, or I will tell Lucien.”

Caia tried to shake what had happened with Alexa, but found it difficult to concentrate on much of her classes before she broke for lunch. The success of last night’s dinner was suddenly overcast with Alexa’s clouds. Lost in her thoughts as she picked up some food for lunch, she only became aware of the whispering as she walked towards the pack. Looking around, she saw human eyes following her, and heard snatches of their conversation. They were discussing how another newbie had been sucked into the ‘weirdo’s’ group.

Maybe they hypnotize pretty people.

Caia almost laughed at that, but was too concerned to make much of an effort. It did look odd, she thought, approaching these gorgeous creatures. Mal didn’t even look like a teenager.

“Hey,” she greeted them as she slid in beside Jaeden. She avoided Alexa’s eyes.

“So, how was the second day thus far?” Jaeden chirped, biting into her sandwich with gusto.

Caia glanced at Alexa whose face was surprisingly smooth. She returned her gaze, but her dark eyes didn’t narrow, and her full lips didn’t pinch. What was she playing at now? “It was fine.”

They began talking among themselves, with Caia barely paying attention. For some reason she was filtering them out and her hyper sensitive ears were filtering the human kids in. They seemed truly disconcerted by the pack.

“Don’t you hear them?” she asked abruptly, and then wished she hadn’t when the pack all narrowed their eyes in confusion at her.

“What?” Mal’s eyebrows furrowed.

“Them.” She subtly nodded her head, gesturing at the rest of the cafeteria.

“What about them?” Jaeden seemed concerned more than confused.

“They’re whispering about us.”

Dana shrugged. “So?”

“So, don’t you think separating ourselves from the rest of them make us look more … conspicuous.”

Jaeden smiled. “Caia, weren’t you a bit of a loner at your old school?”

She nodded. So what?

“Loner’s are just as conspicuous, but no one really said anything, right?”

Caia shook her head. “That’s different. I mean, I just... listen to them. We unsettle them.”

Alexa growled in irritation. “Look, they just see us as a bunch of really cool, hot kids who only like to play with other really cool, hot kids. They call us weird and whisper about us because that’s what jealous biatches do. There’s no need to worry.” She heaved a dramatic sigh as if she was talking to a moron who should know this stuff already. “Lucien moved us into town gradually over five years. We didn’t all just appear here together. One family moved in, and then another, and we gradually pretended to befriend each other over the years, just like ordinary folks. So … not suspicion.” She gestured to ‘them’. “Jealousy. Normal, teen, green envy. You should feel honored to be one of us … Cy.”

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