“And I was being literal.”
I raised a brow as I stared at my cousin. “You jumped out of a window?”
“Windows. Plural,” Christopher said.
I turned to see the rest of the group joining us in the center of the quad. Mr. Dawson, Muraco, Donovan, Dastien, and Adrian. Along with Shane, Yvonne, Tiffany, Beth, Elsa, and Cosette. They must’ve left the library at the same time we left Raphael’s room. “For some reason, I’m not surprised to hear that.”
“They’re there for a reason,” Teresa said. “I’m sure you’ll find one or two to jump through before this is over.”
Doubtful. I hated heights. “Literal windows, not going to happen. We’ll see about the metaphorical ones.”
“You’d be surprised what you’re capable of achieving when you put your mind to it,” Teresa said.
“So wise beyond your years, cherie,” Dastien said as he put his arm around her. The group started moving toward the cafeteria again.
“Someone’s gotta be wise in this relationship,” she said as she elbowed him in the stomach.
He groaned dramatically and they started bantering again. I was getting used to this place. To these wolves. Growing up, I never would’ve thought I’d end up here. Even associating with the wolves was off limits, but here I was, living with them.
Life took unexpected twists and turns. It was all I could do to keep up with them lately.
When we entered the cafeteria, I was surprised to see so many people eating. With the between meal times hour, I figured it would’ve been empty, but wolves were nothing if not a hungry bunch. There wasn’t as much food out as they had during the three main meals, but it was more than enough for my purposes.
“Let’s get some food, and then we’ll chat,” Mr. Dawson said.
While we were eating, the place cleared out. I wasn’t sure if Mr. Dawson had said something to the others milling about or if they were just finished. Either way, I was thankful for the relative privacy. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust everyone in the pack… But I didn’t really trust everyone in the pack. Not yet. But Teresa’s friends, I trusted. They’d been warm and welcoming.
Now I just hoped they had some brilliant ideas on how to save my brother. That seemed like a long shot when I wasn’t even sure what was wrong with him.
I sighed and pushed the plate away. I’d managed half a burrito, but I couldn’t eat one more bite. Nerves made it barely possible to sit still.
Muraco cleared his throat, and everyone quieted. His white hair was long and shaggy. He was the only werewolf I’d ever seen that actually looked old, which I was pretty sure meant he was ancient. His skin reminded me of Tia Rosa’s—paper thin and wrinkly. He moved slowly, pulling an envelope from the back pocket of his jeans and sliding it across the table. “I was gone the last few days, working on something for you.”
Something for me? Weird. I tore the envelope open and emptied its contents. It was a small navy blue book with the seal of the United States of America on the cover. “You got me a passport?” I wasn’t aware that was something that you could do for someone other than yourself. And where had he gotten a picture of me? “I don’t know what to say.” Thanks didn’t seem appropriate when I was more than a little worried about the ethics of it.
“I was by to see Raphael today.”
He was? How many people had been in that room while I’d been asleep?
“And it looks like you need to find these mages quickly. Faster than before.”
Right. But was that really the answer? I had to be sure before I went on the proverbial wild goose chase. “Before I jump on the first plane out, you haven’t told me anything about what I’m looking for, who I’m looking for, and how they can help me. I can’t just go there and look around hoping to stumble upon something. Raphael… He’s—”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. I will not cry right now. He’s not dead yet. There’s still time.
“I will tell you a little about my country.”
It was with those words that wolves around the table all took a breath and leaned in. Like they’d never heard anything about Muraco or Peru before. There was something about Muraco that made me want to listen to him, too. To trust him. And I definitely wanted to hear his story.
“In my country, we don’t separate ourselves from other supernaturals. It’s not normal for us to live the way you do here. All in your own compounds behind your own walls and fighting amongst yourselves. It’s not right.”