For a second, I pictured the face of my ex-best friend from second grade—the one who started the nickname Freaky Tessa and spilled to everyone what I could do—but I wasn’t that angry with her anymore.
The face morphed into Imogene’s. Anger raged through me.
I got back in the stance and glared at the hand target. I put my whole body behind the punch, following through with my shoulder and twisting at the waist like Chris had shown me. As soon as my knuckles hit, I knew something was wrong but it was too late to pull back.
Chris flew three feet and slammed into the wall. The boom reverberated through the gym over the other sparring noises as he crumpled to the floor.
Dread swamped me. What had I done?
“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. I’m so sorry.” I kneeled next to him. Chris’ eyes were closed. “Wake up. Please. Please…”
He started laughing.
“Jerk.” I shoved his shoulder into the ground. “This is so not funny. I thought I killed you.”
He grinned. “Come on. It’s kind of funny.” He jumped up and grabbed me around the waist like I weighed no more than a teddy bear. “My little wolfie,” he said as he spun us around in a circle.
I growled and smacked his shoulder.
He gave me a squeeze. “Don’t think that this is going to get you out of doing more reps.”
Maybe he really had hit his head. “No way. I’ll kill you next time for sure. I don’t know if you know this, but I am kind of super strong.”
“I hate to break it to you, babe, but you took me by surprise and I went with the hit. Just a little drama to up the fun level.” He winked.
The gym doors swung open and Mr. Dawson strode in wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt. “Dastien is sitting the rest of this class out.” A series of groans echoed through the gym. More than a few people glanced my way.
Go ahead people. Blame the new kid. Not like Dastien had any responsibility in this whole situation.
“Settle down,” Mr. Dawson said. “You’ll be stuck with me for the next few days. I hear you haven’t done your running yet. One hundred laps people. Now.”
“One hundred. Is he serious?” I slapped a hand over my mouth. Oops. I didn’t mean to say that out loud.
“Totally. You never know what to expect when Mr. D teaches the class. He’s really good at kicking our butts,” Chris said.
“How far is that? This gym is massive.”
“It’s about the size of four basketball courts put together and then some. Nine-ish laps is about a mile.”
So eleven miles. That’s nearly a half marathon. Axel and I ran nearly every morning before school, but only three miles. On a good day we hit five. This was a whole different ballpark. “This is nuts.”
“Too much talking. Not enough running,” Mr. Dawson said.
At least we weren’t doing it outside. It was way too hot and humid to be running out there. I settled into a comfortable pace next to Chris. Something about the sound of everyone’s feet slapping the wood was pleasant. It took me a minute to realize that we were all running in sync, every footfall matching. I stumbled, breaking the rhythm.
Chris grabbed me before I fell.
My feet matched the rest of the class again. “This is very Village of the Damned.”
“You know that horror movie where those kids all look the same and do the same thing. We’re running in perfect sync. Exactly matching Mr. Dawson.”
“That’s part of being a pack. If we were racing, then we wouldn’t match, but when you’re a pack it’s comfortable to move as one.”
I made a face. “I never agreed to join any pack.”
“Well…kinda, through Dastien, who is part of our pack.”
Mr. Dawson sped up, and we met his faster pace.
“Does everyone. Join the pack?” It was getting harder to talk.
“What if. I don’t want to?”
“You’re a girl. You kind of have to.”
I growled. Werewolves were kind of sexist. “You’re pissing me off.”
“Relax.” He bumped me on the shoulder. “That’s not what I meant. It’s just, well, haven’t you noticed the ratio?”
I let my silence speak for me.
“Not a lot of girls are born. That’s why Imogene thinks she’s so special. Her mom had two girls, which is unheard of. Those two think they’re the shit because of it. Anyway, it’s about a ten to one ratio. We take care of our women, and they’re never without a pack.”