“I can’t undo what I did, but I can help you gain some control.”
They’d told me that werewolves were stronger, but I couldn’t stifle a gasp when Dastien picked me up as if I weighed nothing. He jumped onto a giant boulder.
He put me on my feet and sat. “Close your eyes.”
I plopped in front of him and closed them.
“Take three deep inhales and exhales. Feel your body move. Feel the air come in, flowing down deep into your lungs, filling up your chest. Then follow it as it flows back out.”
I recognized this from the yoga class.
“Focus on your hands…your feet…your arms…your legs…your chest. Feel the wolf deep inside of you. In the center of you, of who you are.”
I opened my eyes after a few minutes. He was sitting there with his eyes closed. I felt bad about disturbing him, but then he opened one eye.
“That’s because you’re not relaxing.”
I grumbled about having a hard time relaxing on a hard rock, but he ignored me. I don’t know how long I sat there, before something clicked. I felt the rippling underneath the surface of my skin and gasped. “What is that?”
“You’ve nearly found her.”
“Shut up.” I slapped his leg. “That sounds completely mental.”
His golden gaze met mine. “She’s a part of you. Once you start acknowledging her, she’ll settle down and your moods won’t be so erratic. She needs to trust you as much as you need to trust her.” He laughed. I must’ve looked as confused as I felt. “Close your eyes again. Go back. See her. Feel her. She’s there to protect you. To make you stronger.”
I had thought of her as separate from me, but maybe she wasn’t. The only thing I knew for sure was that it was complicated. I didn’t really know what I felt, but when I opened my eyes again, I was steadier.
“Better?” Dastien said.
“Yeah. I think so?” I really hoped so. “Thank you.”
“Anytime.” He pointed up to the cave. “Still want to go take a look or head back?”
My stomach answered for me. I threw my hand over it. “Sorry. I think I might be hungry. I’ve got to get food fast or…” God. I just had a breakthrough and now I was going to ruin it. But I didn’t want to shift.
“Don’t worry. You won’t change. Unless you want to?”
I waved my hands wildly in the air. “Definitely not. I mean what if I get stuck as a wolf?”
He touched his forehead to mine as he laughed. “You won’t get stuck,” he said when he caught his breath.
I shoved him. “I’m never telling you anything ever again.”
He rubbed his thumb along my bottom lip. “That’s not true.”
“Yes, it is. I won’t tell you anything when you do stuff like laugh at me.”
His lips met mine. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled myself into his lap. When I felt his tongue, I opened my mouth and let him in.
When my stomach growled again, he pulled away. “Let’s get you some food.” He gave me one last soft kiss. “I’d do anything for you, Tessa. I know you don’t realize that now, but you will.”
That thought made me grin, even if I wasn’t sure that it was true. He led us to a shorter part of the creek wall and started to climb. I’d never gone hiking without a clear-cut path before. It was fun, but hard. When we reached the top, rivers of sweat ran down the sides of my face. I lifted my shirt to wipe them away.
“Have a nice hike?” Mr. Dawson was standing there waiting for us.
I cleared my throat. I was supposed to be reading in his cabin. “Yeah. But I didn’t read—”
“It’s okay,” Mr. Dawson cut me off. “Seems like it did you some good.”
“I think so,” I said.
Dastien stepped between Mr. Dawson and me. “I’d like to ask permission to leave campus tomorrow with Tessa. I’ll vouch for her.”
Mr. Dawson crossed his arms. “Where? When? For how long?”
“To the bookstore. In the morning. Just a couple of hours.”
Mr. Dawson nodded. “Sounds like a good idea for both of you. Permission granted.”
Shock filled me. “Really? Dastien can take me alone, but Chris and Adrian couldn’t take me to the movies?”
Mr. Dawson smiled. I’d forgotten that he was handsome. “Yes. Dastien’s already proven that he can keep you under control.”