Mr. Dawson, Sebastian, and Donovan stood in front of the fire with Imogene. She had a backpack on, and a large duffel at her feet.
I had to respect her as she stood there ramrod straight, gaze focused above us, ready to face her fate.
Once everyone was seated, Mr. Dawson stepped forward. “You all know what happened with Imogene and her father. But here today, we’re going to ignore her relations. This is a decision her peer pack must make as she plotted against and harmed some of our own. I could make the decision, but all of you would have to live with it. And so you must decide.”
He put his hand on Imogene’s shoulder. “Imogene Hoel stands before you ready to be cast from the pack. Should you decide that as her fate, she will walk away from here with what she has and should she ever appear again—come as an enemy. Or you can decide that she stay on.”
Mr. Dawson glanced around the circle. “The vote will be placed, and the majority will rule. May fair hearts and minds rule your decisions.”
He paused. A few murmurs filled the night, but were soon quieted. “If anyone has anything to say to sway the decision, now is your time to speak.”
I looked around the fire. No one glanced her way. “Are you going to say anything?” I asked Dastien. He sat on the log next to me. His fingers twined with my ungloved ones.
“No, ma cherie. I’m not in your class and I’m not in your peer pack. I’m only here to help you to and from the meeting.”
As the seconds turned into minutes, my heart started to race. I couldn’t sit here and let them do this to her. Not after she apologized to me. As much as I wanted her gone, she’d made a mistake. Lord knew no one in my old schools ever listened to me or gave me any second chances. I couldn’t condemn her to the same fate.
“Help me up,” I whispered.
“What are you going to say?”
“Fine. Don’t help me up.”
Dastien growled as I stood. He kept his hand wrapped around the back of my calf, making sure I stayed upright.
“Hey, everyone. Tessa here.” I paused as everyone looked my way. “I know I’m new and I really have no idea how this is supposed to go or what I’m supposed to say or…I’ll stop rambling. The thing is, I guess I’m the one here that should want her to go the most. I mean—she tried to take my guy. She nearly had me kidnapped by vampires. Twice. Because of her dad, my guy actually was kidnapped by them. She attacked me. Twice. One of which was a total sucker punch, which was way lame.”
Dastien’s hand tightened around my calf.
I reached down and ran my fingers through his hair as I looked out among my classmates—my peer pack. “What I’m trying to say is that yeah—she’s done bad stuff, but maybe she’s not a terrible person. People make dumb mistakes all the time. And yes, hers were really seriously stupid, but I think if we give her a second chance, maybe she’ll be better. She knows what she will lose now and how quickly things can go wrong. She’ll have to earn back our trust, and it won’t be easy, but if she’s willing to work for it—then I think we should give her a shot.”
My strength waned, and Dastien stood, holding me against his side. “All I know is that everyone deserves a second chance. Maybe that’s really human of me. Maybe that’s not how things work here. But I really hope it is. I vote she stays.”
I looked over at Mr. Dawson. “I’m tired. Is it okay if I don’t stay for everyone else to vote?”
Donovan smiled. “Take her home, pup.”
He smiled down at me. “Ready?”
I nodded, and he swung me up into his arms.
I met Imogene’s gaze. “Good luck,” I mouthed.
A tear rolled down her face and she wiped it away. “Thank you,” she mouthed back.
Dastien lifted me into his arms, and I rested my head on his shoulder. I couldn’t control what anyone else did, but I had to do what felt right for my own conscience. Speaking up for her when no one else would felt right.
Somewhere between the fire and my dorm, I fell fast asleep.
Three days later I was going stir crazy. My days were filled with trying to figure out the homework on my own and resting. The good thing—or maybe it was bad—was that my peer pack decided to let Imogene stay. I hoped speaking up for her didn’t end up being a wrong move on my part, but I felt that I’d done what was right. Even if Meredith disagreed. The vote hadn’t been unanimous in the end, but Imogene had gotten enough to stay.
The vampire venom was gone, but its effects lingered. Everyone was being really great about it. They came by to hang out in shifts—to bring me homework, give me a bit of gossip, or play cards. Dastien stayed almost all the time, and spent the night in his wolf form in my bed. Apparently we were stretching the rules a bit, but since he stayed furry after hours, no one said anything. Even with the distractions, I wasn’t going to last much longer cooped up.