I made my way through the cars, and slid to a stop as I reached the gate.

A group of no less than ten guys stood leaning against it. Some were chatting. A few were sitting down in a circle playing cards.

I was so dumb. I should’ve gone through the creek.

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One of them looked straight at me and winked. “What’s the time?” he said to the guy next to him.

“2:26 AM. Damn it. That means Brandt won.”

A series of curses rang through the group, followed by one guy celebrating. “Hand it over, bitches.”

Axel’s car screeched to a stop beyond the tall iron gate. He jumped out of the car, leaving it idling. His headlights lit up the lot. “Shit, Tess. I told you this was a bad idea!” He stepped up to the closed gate.

I hadn’t said a word yet. The only thing I could think of was the fact that I was stuck here. The walls were closing in on me. Even outside.

Mr. Dawson, Dastien, and three other guys strolled up behind me. They were all dressed in black. Dastien stayed back while Mr. Dawson and the others kept walking toward me.

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He wouldn’t even look at me, but he’d wait up all night to make sure I couldn’t run away?

Axel had been right. I was on lockdown, and they’d been waiting for me. Being predictable sucked.

“Alright, show’s over,” Mr. Dawson said. “Tessa, it’s back to the dorm for you.”

“This is bullshit.” I couldn’t believe that they’d been watching for me.

Mr. Dawson raised a brow. “Is it? Because I’ve a mind to think that you being here means it’s definitely not bullshit.”

“That’s besides the point.”

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Dastien chuckled.

I pointed at him. “You shut it. It’s your fault that I’m—”

“I thought we went over this.” Axel wrapped his hands around the bars of the gate. “You don’t get to go near my sister again!”

This was so not happening.

“You’re trespassing. You need to leave. Now,” one of the guys said to Axel.

“I’m not leaving. Let me in.”

“Listen norm—”

Oh, hell no. It was one thing for these people to boss me around, but there was no way anyone was going to treat my brother badly.

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I strode to the gate, stepping in front of Axel and him. “No one orders my brother around.” I eyed each one of the guys. “No one.” Each of them dropped their gaze. Except for Dastien and Mr. Dawson.

A hand squeezed my shoulder and I spun, growling. Axel took a big step back.

“Tess? What’s wrong with your eyes?”

Seeing my brother afraid of me—of something he saw in me—was like getting a bucket of ice water dumped over my head. I was suddenly exhausted.

Mr. Dawson turned to Dastien. “You should go. All of you. I’ve got it from here.”

Dastien left without even a glance in my direction. Typical. The others followed quickly behind him.

The one who won the bet paused in front of me and held up a wad of cash. “Thanks for this.”

“I didn’t do it on purpose.”

“I’ll still give you a cut.” He held out his fist and I rolled my eyes, but still bumped it.

“Go, Mr. Thompson,” Mr. Dawson said.

When the audience finally dispersed, Mr. Dawson opened the gate to let Axel in. “I know that you’re protective of your sister, but we’re going to take care of her here.”

He looked at me warily. “It doesn’t seem like that when I get a phone call at nearly two AM. And I thought you said you’d keep that asshole away from her.”

“I’m trying, but you’ve got to give her time. She’s going through a bit of an adjustment period.”

I snorted. “Adjustment? That’s what you’re calling this?”

“Adjusting is your only option. You won’t like what happens if you fail.”

“That sounded pretty close to a threat,” Axel said. He moved to stand between Mr. Dawson and I.

After what Meredith said about Dastien’s punishment, I knew what he might mean. Scared didn’t even scratch the surface of what I was feeling, but that didn’t mean I could put my brother in danger. I’d already asked too much of him. No way was I risking one of these wolves biting him. “Go home, Axel. I’ll figure it out. I’ll be fine.”

“No way, Tess. I don’t like it,” he said.

“Me neither.” I hugged him.

He gripped me tighter and whispered in my ear. “I’ve been with the cousins. We’re working on getting you out of here. Just sit tight for a few weeks. I’m not forgetting about you.”

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