Yikes. Shannon wasn’t going to be happy about that, but I was kind of glad. If we were going to talk about what happened, I didn’t need her negativity around.

Some of my classmates grumbled as they cleared out. Dastien finished mopping while we waited for the last of the eavesdroppers to go. I bit my lip as he cleaned. I wanted to ask Dastien what happened with Imogene, but he didn’t look like he was in the mood to talk.

When everyone was gone, Meredith broke the silence. She sauntered up to him. “Glad you didn’t forget cleanup duty, Daz.” She rubbed her hand down his back.

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Did she have to be so touchy-feely? My blood heated but I kept it under control, trying to remember that she was my friend. I concentrated on even breathing.

He cocked his head. “It’s been a while, but I think I remember how it goes.”

“Aren’t you the cutest?” She leaned in and gave him a kiss on the lips.

Red. All I saw was red.

I’m not quite sure how it happened. I don’t remember even moving. One second I stood next to Chris. The next, Meredith was flat on her back, and I had her pinned to the ground. A bright red splotch spread across her left cheek.

I was growling when Dastien reached both arms around my stomach and lifted me off her.

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“Shhh. I got you,” he whispered in my ear.

My stomach bottomed out at the sound. The smell of him filled me—the scent of outdoors spread peace through my blood. He was like a drug.

And then came the shame. My face heated and I pushed Dastien’s arms off of me. I hung my head and stepped toward her. “I’m so unbelievably sorry. I don’t know what happened…I don’t even remember hitting you, but that was totally inexcusable—”

Adrian laughed.

“It’s not funny—” I started but Adrian cut me off.

“¡Joder! It can’t be. That doesn’t happen anymore.” He helped Meredith up and ran his fingers over the mark on her face. “You’ve got cajones to try that. She hit you hard. It’ll get worse before it gets better.”

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“It was worth it.” Meredith straightened her clothes. “For the record, I called it.”

She was ignoring my apology and I didn’t blame her for it. I had to just keep going until she accepted. “I’m so sorry. I don’t even remember moving. I swear I didn’t—”

“Honey, please.” She held up a hand to stop my babbling. “I made you do it.”

What? I stepped away from her, my gaze darting between the four of them. “I don’t understand.”

“You’d only attack me like that if he was your mate. As in an actual mated pair. As in the other half of your soul.”

It felt like I was floating.

Chris crossed his arms. “I never had a shot.” He closed his eyes.

Crap. I’d hurt him.

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Dastien stepped toward me but this was all too much. I dropped heavily to the ground and hugged my knees to my chest. I knew what they said was true, but the whole processing it thing was too much. I closed my eyes to think. Was he really my mate?

I’d been fighting my feelings for him. But why? I knew I wanted him. I knew it since I touched that paper in my father’s office. But he kept pushing me away, and I kept pushing him away.

It had to end. I couldn’t deny it. Especially not if I was going to slug Meredith over it.

A hand brushed my hair away from my face, but I kept my eyes shut. “Mon cherie, please. Open your eyes.”

“Okay. I give up.” I swallowed, and opened them. He was sitting cross-legged in front of me.

“We’re not normal,” he said finally.

I laughed. “You can say that again.”

He smiled, and his dimples showed. “We’re not normal. We never were. I spent a long time feeling not quite whole. And then I saw you and something clicked.” He ran his hand down my cheek and I leaned into it. “Believe me, I would love to do this over. To start again and do it the right way. Take you on some dates. Get to know you better. Slower. I lost control for a second and I didn’t even know what happened until it was done. I think the wolf knew that I wouldn’t turn you. I would never take the risk of you not surviving the transformation. But what’s done is done. Give me a chance.”

“I’m not the only one who keeps running away.”

He sighed. “I was trying to give you time to adjust. Everyone demanded that I give you time.”

He was too far away. I wanted to be closer, so I just went with the feeling. I closed the space between us, sitting on his lap, and wrapped my arms and legs around him. I rested my head on his shoulder. “I think it’s only making the whole thing harder for me,” I whispered into his ear. “I feel lost and confused when you walk away. Angry. Hurt. I don’t like it. I’m having enough of a hard time with the whole werewolf thing to also figure out a messed up relationship too.”

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