“Yeah. But not in the middle of class.”

“Sometimes in the middle of class.”

I tried to shove him away. “Do you want me to tell you or what?”

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He nodded.

“So I went into the hall and she was going through my locker. She started accusing me of some whacked out stuff. Demanded I give her my gris-gris, break whatever spell I put on you.” I couldn’t stop the snort. “She pushed me into the lockers and something inside me snapped.” I shook my head, trying to rid my mind of Imogene bleeding beneath me. “Why did she say my arm was so gross? I mean I think it’s seriously weird. But I thought all of you shifted.”

“Not everyone can do that. Only shift part of their body. Do you remember how you did it?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

The little bit of trust I’d built up for him just moments ago started to crack. Was he going to call me a freak too? I tried to take comfort in what he’d already said, but a lifetime of rejection had me holding my breath.

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I couldn’t stand it anymore. I broke away from his hold and sat on the ground, resting against the tree. “You’re making me nervous. Just say whatever it is and get it over with.”

He squatted down in front of me and cupped my face with his hands. His lips softly brushed mine. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer. The fear melted and my body burned. When he pulled away, I was breathing hard.

“Stop thinking the worst.” He spoke as if I should understand words. My mind was utter mush with one kiss. He stood up and stepped toward my house. “Michael,” he shouted.

Mr. Dawson stepped onto the back porch. “How’s it going out here?”

Things were incredibly confusing.

“She doesn’t know how she did it,” Dastien said as Mr. Dawson walked toward us.

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“Not surprising.” Mr. Dawson sat down in front of me. “What you did back there took a lot of power.”

Was he nuts? “Almost killing someone took a lot of power?”

“No. Half shifting your arm,” Mr. Dawson said.

“I doubt Imogene would agree with you.” I held his gaze. “Am I in trouble?”

He raised one eyebrow over his hazel eyes. “No. Imogene shouldn’t have taunted you, but she’s been trying to gain Dastien’s power since they were pups. She was dead set on becoming his mate, regardless of how he felt.”

A little growl slipped through me.

“Mate,” Dastien said softly to me.

I tried to breathe through the jealousy. Dastien placed his warm hand in mine and calm poured into me.

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“She’s furious that you’re more powerful than her,” Mr. Dawson said.

I cleared my throat and tried to focus on what Mr. Dawson said. If I really was more powerful than her, why would she attack me?

“She was counting on you not realizing it,” Mr. Dawson said. “You’re dominant to Imogene.”

Right. Meredith had said that too.

I leaned away from Dastien. “See, this is where I’m having problems. Who the hell talks about people being dominant?” I waved my hand to stop Mr. Dawson. “I know. I know. I probably should’ve read that stupid book instead of going for a hike.”

The side of Mr. Dawson’s mouth tipped up.

Great. At least my frustration was amusing to someone.

“In other words, when you give her an order, she has to obey.” He let that sink in. “That and the possibility of you being mated to Dastien is more than she can stand.”

Frustration burned into anger. “It’s not like I deliberately stole Dastien from her.” Dastien stayed silent. “Right?”

“I’m not something to get stolen from anyone. Neither are you. We’re equal partners in this.”

I put my head on his shoulder. Partners sounded much nicer than mates.

Mr. Dawson stood up and brushed the leaves off his jeans. “It’s time to go back to campus.”

Dastien nudged my shoulder with his. I felt connected to him in a way I couldn’t describe. Like he was a part of me. I was losing myself to him and the wolf. Would there be anything left for me?

Dastien stood and reached down to help me up. He sighed when I hesitated. “This is hard on me, too.”

Was I really that self-centered? I hadn’t thought about his feelings. “I guess you seem so in control, I didn’t think you had a hard time. Ever.”

“Both of us have to learn to adjust. I’m taking it better than you because I’ve been a were my whole life.” He let out a little growl. “But my wolf is out of control. I’ve been restless for the past year. And then I see you and everything else disappears. And you keep fighting it.” He ran his hands through his hair. He was even hotter with it mussed. “My wolf wants to claim you. To make you mine. To protect you. But I’m trying to give you time, give you a choice even if it’s killing me. It’s why I keep messing up. I should’ve just staked my claim and let you deal with having me attached at your hip.”

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