“If you weren’t here, all of those boys around you would be vying for the attention of the undecideds. They’re used to more attention, and they hate you right now.” Her laugh wasn’t even a little sweet. “You’re a new element in the equation and have messed up the whole bloody lot. I’m quite enjoying the drama.”
The one thing that made me happy was imagining her and Imogene fighting over Dastien. That would be something to watch. I’d bring popcorn. “Well, I have too much self-respect to beg some guy to be with me. Dastien’s going to like who he wants, and unfortunately, none of you shewolves have a say in it. And if you think fighting over a boy is going to gain their attention, then you’re sadder than I thought.”
“Damn skippy,” said a voice right behind me.
I jumped out of my seat. “Axel?” I turned to find my whole family standing behind me.
Well, this was awkward.
Time for a swift subject change. “Mom! Dad! What are you doing here?” My voice was way high-pitched. A clear give-away. I was nothing if not smooth.
Mom pulled me in for a quick hug and then pulled away to look at me. “You look amazing. I don’t know what I was picturing, but you look beautiful…And a little thin. Are you eating?”
I rolled my eyes. “Yes. It’s just that this whole change burns through a ton of calories. I’m still figuring out how much to eat.”
“Tessa,” Dad said.
I gave him a hug. “Thanks for coming and bringing Mom.”
“I told you I would. And Axel wanted to say goodbye. He’s headed to Austin in the morning.”
Axel elbowed. “I’ll only be a little over an hour drive away. Less if I speed. Call me if you need me.”
I nodded. “Thanks.”
“Who’s that hottie?” Axel said.
I spun to see Meredith walking up with Chris and Adrian. “That’s my roommate. She’s not legal.”
“Be nice,” I whispered to him. “I’d like you all to meet my Mom, Gabby. My Dad, John. And my brother, Axel. This is Adrian, Chris, Meredith and Shannon.”
My Dad looked less than friendly toward Shannon. Crap. He’d heard more than I wanted him to hear.
“The feeling’s mutual,” Meredith said to my brother.
Axel looked confused, so I filled him in. “You called her a hottie. Everyone here has excellent hearing.”
He winked at her. “Thanks.”
I elbowed Axel again. “Down boy.”
The bell rang and everyone started filing out. “We’re going to head to class,” Meredith said. “See you last period?”
They said their good-byes.
When everyone was gone, Mom smiled. “Meredith and the boys seem nice.”
“What was that Shannon girl saying about teenage marriage?” Dad crossed his arms.
Oh sweet baby Jesus. This couldn’t be more embarrassing. “Don’t worry. I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid.” As I said that, Mr. Dawson and Dastien walked into the cafeteria. The room felt ten degrees hotter as I watched Dastien.
Boy did he make the Kool-Aid appealing.
Axel stepped in front of me, blocking my awesome view. “You’re supposed to be staying away from her. That was the deal. This is the second time I’ve seen my sister since you attacked her and both times you were there.”
I slapped Axel on his arm. “What the hell, dude.”
“Why don’t you go take over my class?” Mr. Dawson said to Dastien.
“I think that’d be best,” Dad said.
Dastien nodded and left without a word.
I wondered how much of him staying away from me had to do with his guilt and giving me time, and how much was everyone trying to keep us apart. “I know everyone thinks I’m fragile right now, but I’m okay. I think with everything that I’ve had to deal with, you should trust me to figure out the whole guy thing on my own.”
Axel got in my face. “You can’t actually want to date that guy. He attacked you—”
My cheeks burned. “Attacked is a bit of a harsh word for what happened.” I couldn’t stand by and let them think that about Dastien. “It was an accident.”
“And the next time he hits you?” Mom asked.
My mouth dropped open. Holy crapola. They thought I was in an abusive relationship? “Not you too. Everyone can calm down. No after school special needed here. I’m not really in any kind of relationship, so it’s fine.” I sat down in the chair, and everyone moved to take a seat around the table.