It wasn’t any of my business what went on between Dastien and Chris, but I felt responsible. I had to try to fix it. “I can’t stand the way you’re acting,” I said.

He put the pads over his hands. “Look. I like you, but I can’t fight Dastien and win.” He stared at the pads as he talked.

What? Who said anything about Chris and Dastien fighting? “Why would you have to fight?”

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“Dastien seems to have claimed you and—”

“Claimed me? What the hell does that mean?” I tapped my foot. No one was claiming me except me.

“I forgot for a second how new you are to this.” I groaned, but he continued on before I could bitch about the lack of explaining going on. “We mate for life. Once you’ve been claimed, that’s it. We all know that there’s more guys than girls and—”

He was missing the point entirely. “Excuse me but I do believe I’m living in the age of equal rights for women. This claiming stuff isn’t going to fly with me.”

“It’s not like that. I’m explaining this wrong.” He started messing with the pads. “We just have a different way of viewing relationships than norms.”

“Well, you boys are just going to have to deal where I’m concerned because I’m not getting claimed. I’ll do the claiming when and if the time ever comes.” I pulled my hair free from the band, shook it out, and sloppily put it back up.

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Why were werewolves so confusing? And Christ, my life was majorly messed up if I was pondering the degree of confusion werewolves were causing in my life.

Still, I wanted to put a stop to whatever pain Chris was feeling. “Look. I’m not trying to be a bitch about it, so I’m sorry if I am being one. I like you and—”

He finally looked up. A lazy smile spread across his face. “You do?”

Oh, no. Now I’d really done it. I didn’t mean I liked him liked him. “I mean I don’t—” Dastien growled and I could physically fell his anger pulsing through me. The pain took my breath away. I cried out, silencing the room.

I hit the ground on my knees and rubbed my chest. My heart actually ached. Dastien watched us with golden eyes. The expression on his face matched the pain I felt. But how was I feeling his pain? I wasn’t even touching him.

He stomped out of the gym, slamming the door behind him.

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“I’m going to go make sure he’s okay,” Imogene said over the now silent gym. She said it sweetly, but the look she gave me was nothing nice.

Shit. Somehow I’d made a complete ass out of myself. This was not what I’d intended at all.

Chris knelt beside me. “Are you okay? What just happened?”

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Dastien’s feelings faded when he left. He thought I was hitting on Chris, and that had hurt him. I was pond scum, total bottom feeding cockroach, for making him feel that much pain. I’d really stepped in it this time. There was no way out of it without hurting Chris’ feelings. I couldn’t set him straight right then. Not while everyone was watching.

I straightened and let go of the last lingering of anger and hurt. “Can we just, you know, have some fun doing this? I’m seriously nervous and everyone is staring now that Dastien…” I motioned to the doors.

“Don’t worry about them. You’re going to do fine. No one’s expecting you to be Jet Li on your first day.”

Shannon and Meredith went back to sparring in the middle of the gym. Shannon did a back flip to avoid Meredith’s sweeping leg. She landed on her feet, and then kicked. Meredith grabbed Shannon’s foot and twisted, sending Shannon spiraling to the ground.

They were amazing. “I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to do that.”

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“We train from the time we can walk. We might not be able to shift till we’re teenagers, but our reflexes and strength are never as bad as a human’s. You’ll catch up.”

“You don’t know me well enough to say that. With my luck, I’ll miss those pad things and hit you in the face.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time.”

I tried to stand how Chris showed me. I needed to get out of class with the minimum amount of embarrassment. “This is so lame.” I lightly tapped the pad with my fist.

“Oh, come on,” Chris said. “Just do it.”

“Okay, okay. Fine. But if I look like an idiot, it’s your fault. I’m not taking any of the blame.”

“Deal. You don’t know what you’re capable of yet, so don’t limit yourself. Pretend that my hand is your worst enemy. The person who was the meanest to you. The one you dream about destroying.” He slapped the pads together and then held them out again. “Hit it!”

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