They pulled apart at the sound of Ella calling his name, Caia gasping, trying to catch her breath. She felt caught in his surprised gaze. And then he smiled softly, brushing his thumb across her lips. Her heart thudded. Had that really happened? Did all first kisses turn out that good?


He pulled back cursing under his breath, but his eyes never broke contact with hers.

“There you are,” Ella called, striding towards them. “Lucien, the pipes have all burst!”

That got their attention.

“What?” He turned to her.

She heaved a huge sigh throwing her hands up in bewilderment. “A few seconds ago I heard Alexa squeal in the kitchen, and the pipes have burst. Water, everywhere! Then Julia comes running from the downstairs bathroom, Morgan from one of the upstairs, and they’re the same. Magnus is checking Caia’s bathroom while Isaac and Draven take care of the plumbing. But there’s water, everywhere,” she ended on a whine.

Lucien cursed again, and started heading towards the kitchen.

“Can we fix it?” Caia asked nervously, still reeling from Lucien’s kiss.


Ella nodded. “Thankfully, Isaac and Draven are plumbers, but it’s put a little damper on the party.”

Caia nodded numbly and followed after them. She stopped in the doorway, watching as the others mopped up the small flood in the kitchen. This couldn’t be happening. Her gaze flitted back towards the end of the porch where she and Lucien had shared their explosive kiss. Could it have been explosive enough to have done this? She bit her lip, her heart thumping louder and louder. First, the pipes in the airport, then her bathroom... oh, and that morning with Ella when she’d cried over her father’s photograph. Was this her doing? She shook her head and pulled back from the doorway. Kicking off her shoes she turned and ran down the porch stairs, past the lawn chairs and into the woods, not stopping until she was at least five minutes from the house. Leaning against a tree to catch her breath, and trying to slow her panicking heart, Caia shook her head in disbelief. “It can’t be me,” she whispered. “How could it be?”

What was going on? Is this what the pack meant when they called her different? But pipes bursting? No, that was crazy. No one else would even connect the two.

“No,” her moan turned into a gasp. And suddenly she knew. She could feel something inside of her pulsing. It had always been there, throbbing like a barrier below the energy she tapped into when she changed. It was alien and strong.

“What’s happening to me?” she pleaded with Gaia, as she felt tears prick her eyes, the fear readying her heart for explosion. Growling a profanity she would never have dreamed of using before, Caia pulled off the satin dress in haste and ripped her hair out of the French twist. And then she began to run; faster and faster, her feet tearing on bracken, her toes sinking in moss and dirt, her muscles aching; and with one final spurt of fear she dove arms first as if she were diving into a pool, high into the air, pushing the change like she had never done before. As she landed, it was on her graceful pads, her wolf legs pushing her further into the forest, and away from her fears.

14 - The Change

The school was quiet. The bell for first period sounded at least ten minutes ago so everyone else was inside. Everyone except Caia. She felt limp, as if she were no longer a part of her body. That night she had ran as hard and as fast as she could from the house, pounding out her anxiety with the dirt beneath her paws until a resolution had fallen upon her. She hadn’t wanted to be alone in whatever was happening to her and, although she loved Jaeden, there really was only one person she had felt safe enough to turn to.


By then she had been away from the party for well over an hour, so she returned as quietly as she could, finding her torn dress, and then scaling the house to enter her bedroom. She had taken pause as she remembered Magnus was supposed to be checking the water pipes in her bathroom. But the room was dark and quiet, and there was no light filtering from under her bathroom. Sighing and aching, she had tried to squelch the butterflies in her stomach enough to focus on what exactly she was going to tell Lucien.

He was going to think she was crazy.

Caia had moaned and fallen back onto her bed. Lucien was so good, so caring and fair. He took time with his people, took their problems upon his shoulders as if they were his own. He would need someone just like him, not some troubled girl who was falling to pieces. And what if what was inside her was bad? He’d only try to help because that was who he was. And what if she hurt him? Hurt any of them?

No. She would just have to deal with this on her own like she had everything else.

Eventually Jaeden had been sent to find her, but Caia hadn’t opened the door to her or anyone, claiming she was tired and just needed to sleep.

She had kept herself shut in her room the next day. Jaeden had called, Ella had hovered, and Lucien had threatened to break down the door. At that, she had whispered through the wood that she was OK, she promised. She was just exhausted, but they shouldn’t worry. But they had. She could feel it radiating throughout the house. She hadn’t known how she could feel their emotions as strongly as she felt her own and her anxiety had only worsened.

Jaeden hadn’t accepted her feeble reassurances. She had dragged Caia over and into her car as soon as she had arrived at school on Monday.

Neither of them had said a word yet.

Jaeden sighed. Caia looked out of the passenger window at a cat that was dashing from belly to belly of the cars parked around them. Its simple happiness made Caia envy it.

“Caia.” Jaeden finally gave in, pulling her around to face her. “You have to tell me what’s wrong.”

She realized her friend wasn’t going to give up, and she wasn’t going to tell her the truth, so she decided to waylay her with the other something that was pressing on her. “Lucien kissed me on Saturday.”

Jaeden’s eyes widened, her jaw dropped, and she let out a startled whoop. “Oh. My. Goddess.”

Caia managed a wan smile. “Yeah.”

Jaeden grabbed her arm, shaking her. “Caia, are you crazy? Aren’t you happy? I thought this is what you wanted?”

“It’s just a crush, Jae.”

Her friend shook her head, refusing to accept that. “You can’t say that.”

“Yes I can, and it is.”

“Cy... a crush is what I have for Ryder. He’s gorgeous, and he has a cool, dangerous job.” she snorted. “But I don’t know him, not the way you know Lucien.”

Caia frowned, her head throbbing. “What are you getting at?”

“Well,” she shrugged, “Have you considered the possibility that what you feel is more than crush? That, you might be falling for him... and he for you?”

Caia twisted her lips in thought and looked down at her hands. They clutched the straps of her backpack so tightly they were white. She liked Lucien. A lot. And she was of course attracted to him. But in love with him? Did she really know him well enough for it to be that? Did she even want it to be that?



The sound of laughter from inside drifted towards her ears. She could hear a teacher telling a student not to write on the desk; a class giggling at one of the few funny teachers they had in there; a girl stuttering over a class presentation. It was all so normal, so human. But she wasn’t human. She wasn’t even sure she was a normal lykan. The only examples of reality she had in her life were the bonds of friendship she had with ones such as the girl by her side. And goddess forgive her, but, all she wanted right now was for Jaeden to go away. To leave her alone so she could go back to ignoring the fact that something was happening to her - good or bad, she didn’t know. And to top it off, her crush on a lykan she could never have had gone from hot to sizzling in a matter of twenty four hours. She sighed, and glanced back out the window at that cat. If what was inside her was dangerous she would take herself far away from these people she had begun to love. She smiled humorlessly as she thought of the day she had told Sebastian that China was always an option if the worst came to the worst. She had always wanted to see The Great Wall.

“Caia?” Jaeden begged.

She looked back at her friend and placed a reassuring hand over hers. “I’m not meant for him, Jaeden.”

“Maybe that’s not your decision.”

Caia sighed. She really couldn’t take a speech about the gods and fate just now. “I better get going.”

“Caia …”

She shook her head and got out of the car. “We’ll talk later.”

Alexa was smiling like the cat that ate the canary. Caia’s back immediately went up as she slid into her seat beside her in English. She didn’t even want to know what was going on with her.

When fifteen minutes had gone by, and Alexa hadn’t said anything, Caia relaxed minimally, trying to concentrate on the passages the teacher had asked them to read. As per usual the class was rowdy and obnoxious, and the poor teacher was having trouble controlling them.

“So, you missed all the excitement on Saturday night,” Alexa purred and Caia groaned.

“Really,” she murmured back, uninterested.

“Mm,” Alexa continued smugness in her voice that alerted Caia. Her skin began to prickle unexpectedly, the hair on the nape of her neck standing up. What the Hades? She turned to look at the girl. “Yeah. While you were gone, the gods knows where, I helped Lucien mop up. He was very grateful.” She sighed breathily. “And then we got to talking. Really talking, you know.”

Caia shifted uncomfortably, and her stomach began to roil with anticipation.

Alexa giggled softly and ducked her head closer to Caia’s as if they had been best friends all their lives. Her eyes were sparkling. “And I dunno, maybe we had too much to drink… before I knew it we were in his bedroom.”

It was like someone had literally slapped her across the face. Her eyes narrowed on the girl. Alexa didn’t mean what Caia thought she meant, did she? Lucien wouldn’t kiss one girl, and then...

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