My cheeks burned. I wasn’t sure I’d accomplished anything.
“I would never intentionally make a member of my pack uncomfortable. I swear that I will watch her as if she’s my own. I’ve given you full access to St. Ailbe’s. Feel free to visit her whenever you feel the need. She’s not my prisoner. I’m only here to help as she learns her new abilities.”
The rest of the conversation went normally enough. They asked about classes and my friends, and ignored all things Dastien-related.
After a bit, I walked them to the parking lot with Mr. Dawson supervising so I wouldn’t accidentally wolf-out on them. They’d brought me my car, just in case I needed it for some reason. My parents said their good-byes, promising to come back and visit whenever I wanted them to.
It was harder to say good-bye to Axel. He was going to college, and I wouldn’t see him for months. I knew that he was always going to go, but the reality proved to be a bit harder than I expected.
Axel held out the keys to my car. “I picked out an awesome car for you.”
I snatched them from his hand. “You better have been good to her.”
He pulled me in for a hug. “I might be farther away, but I’ll always be here for you.”
“Thanks. Love you.”
My heart was heavy as I watched their car disappear from sight.
Mr. Dawson put his arm around me, and turned me back toward school. “Come on. Let’s get you some ice cream. I hear it can help at a time like this.”
“That’d be good. Thanks.”
When we got back to the cafeteria, he disappeared into the kitchen. He came back carrying two light brown pints with gold lids. “Here you go.” He slid one to me.
He set his spoon down. “Please tell me you’ve had Blue Bell.”
I shook my head. “But I like Cookies ‘n’ Cream, so I’m sure this is fine.”
“Blue Bell is more than just fine. It’s the Cookies ‘n’ Cream. Trust me. I’m a connoisseur of all things ice cream.”
I pulled off the top. It looked like ordinary Cookies ‘n’ Cream to me. “If it’s so amazeballs, why haven’t I heard of it before?”
“Because you’re from California. They make it in Brenham, Texas and they only deliver it themselves to locations that they can easily get to in their refrigerated trucks. Although when I’ve lived other places, I’ve had it shipped to me from the factory. Costly but necessary.”
I shook my head. Dude was out of his mind. I took a bite and moaned. “Holy shit. This is good.”
“So you and ice cream, huh?” It made him more of a real person, instead of this odd authority figure.
“Food. All kinds. When you’ve got to eat so much of it, you get to know the difference between good, bad, and excellent.” He pointed to the ice cream with his spoon. “This is excellent.”
“So do you cook too?”
He nodded. “Most wolves do. Especially those my age.”
That made sense. I wanted to ask him how old he was, but he beat me to the next question.
“Can you cook?” he asked me.
I shrugged. “Mexican food, for sure. With a recipe—anything else.”
We got into a conversation about Mexican food, most importantly the differences between Mexican food among the border states.
A pint of Blue Bell Cookies ‘n’ Cream later and I was feeling better.
I stared down at the empty carton. “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”
Mr. Dawson laughed. “I can. You’ve got to eat more. And you’re about to burn all that off, so it’s not even going to do you any good. Let’s go.”
I patted my stomach. “Just when I thought I had a nice food baby going on, you gotta ruin it.”
As we walked to class, I was more relaxed. Everything felt a little more okay.
But then again, it could’ve just been an ice cream high.
That evening we were watching the news on Meredith’s TV. It’d become a nightly habit. Every time we huddled around and waited to see how close the vampires were, but this time there was no mention of the “killers.”
“Maybe the Cazadores finally found them?” Meredith said as she muted the sound.
“We would’ve heard,” Shannon said. “Yesterday they were only fifty miles away from here.”
“But they won’t come here, right?” I said.