Everyone wanted to be me in high school, and I wanted to be anyone else. You see, where I come from there are only two things that matter in this world—your bloodline and your ability to survive.
So, while yes, I was the head cheerleader and top of my class, it didn’t mean shit to me. Because none of that really mattered. My parents didn’t attend one football game. I didn’t get money for grades or proudly post my exams on the fridge. Excellence was not only expected, it was the norm and to be sub-par was not tolerated in the Smithson household.
My older brother Daniel aced both the SAT and the ACT. I didn’t even open my test results. Why would I? It wasn’t as if I could go to college anyway. In my family, that wasn’t the way it worked.
When you turned nineteen, you were sent out west, somewhere in the middle of Wyoming. Daniel said that it was hotter than a witch’s tit in August. That just sounds awful.
The point was that all the unmated Lycans were to attend school together. Not school as in education, but training—fighting and warfare.
Daniel and I were the only Lycans that had attended the local high school for several years. While it was somewhat known that we were different from the other students, they did not know that we werewolves and I liked it that way.
Once a human knew about those abilities, it seemed to change how they saw you. It wasn’t such a big deal to become a different sort of animal for a short time. Stupid people, I have seen far worse things happen in human homes than I have ever seen in a Lycan home.
We live rather normally. Our neighborhoods look the same. We shop at the grocery store just like anyone else does.
Yes, there are some differences as well.
We train in our packs from a very early age to hone our skills. But the majority of our training is held off until we are older and sent to the Lycan Academy. The US Lycan United Force prided itself on its army of wolves. We were stronger, leaner and meaner than any other such army. At least that is what we like to think.
I graduated high school last May and my nineteenth birthday was yesterday. So, here I find myself, packing my few belongings to travel to a place where I have never been. Wolves live in packs and travel in packs, so for me to have to leave, is almost like requesting that I rip myself apart.
But I would go. I couldn’t shame my family, nor would I shame my pack. My father was the alpha of the Smithson Pack. I was his only daughter.
My father kissed the top of my head and sent me off with a blessing of peace and strength. He wouldn’t be the one to take me on the seventeen-hour journey across the country. That was reserved for my older brother Daniel.
There was little said between us in the car ride, and I knew that Daniel was worried about me.
“Avery, if you need anything, just call us.” He hesitated before adding, “No, call me.”
His gruff voice startled me out of my musing.
I looked over and saw Danny’s tousled dark blond hair from where his hands had been running through it. My own hair was a much paler shade of blonde.
I looked at him in confusion as well as a little bit of hurt. Did he not think I was strong enough? Or did Danny think I would shame the family? “Why would I need anything?”
He had a pained look as he replied, “Things are different there. I can’t talk about it. It isn’t allowed. But know that if you need me to come and get you, I will.”
I looked at him with some degree of alarm, but swallowed it before saying, “I can handle myself, Daniel. I’m no longer a kid.”
Instead of teasing me about how the ripe old age of nineteen is hardly an adult, his mouth merely flattened into a straight line and he remained silent.
He was quiet for the next few hours. I stared out of the car window feeling my anxiety reaching dizzying heights. The terrain was flat and barren. Tumbleweeds and dust clouds were all that could be seen for miles.
Was this a mistake?
It wasn’t like I had a choice. Every nineteen-year-old Lycan was required to attend. Dread filled me as Daniel maneuvered the car through a set of gates that had to be thirty feet tall. The dusty road continued for another few miles until he pulled up to a massive brown building. It looked a bit like a castle or maybe a fortress. It didn’t fit the stark terrain surrounding it.
“What the hell, Dan?”
Daniel turned off the motor and shifted in his seat to look at me. “I am serious, Avery. If you need anything, please call me.”
I nodded slowly and answered shakily, “Okay, I will.”
He opened the door and helped me get my suitcase from the trunk. I noticed that there were other kids about my age getting out of their cars in the parking lot and filing into the building. The mood was somber, and the lines were long.
It was starting to get dark when after forty-five minutes I was finally given a room assignment. I turned to give Daniel a friendly wave when he suddenly swept me up in a brotherly hug. Considering that we were not a demonstrative family, I was more than a little surprised.
“You are strong, remember that,” he whispered against my hair.
Hell, what was this place?
“Um, thanks, Danny,” I mumbled against his chest, patting him awkwardly.
And then he was driving away, and I was left to search for my room. Glancing down I looked at my room number 748B. I figured it couldn’t be that hard to find. I set out in search of it.
After another twenty-five minutes, I realized that I was in the wrong hall as well as on the wrong floor.
Not to be deterred, I made my way to the right floor and finally found the door with 748B on it. With a forced smile, I put my key in the lock and allowed the door to swing open. Standing just inside what looked to be a rather spacious apartment was a naked guy.
Rippling with muscles, broad shoulders and sculpted abs, he was beyond gorgeous. What was worse was that I felt a magnetic pull to him that could only be described as otherworldly. It called out to me and I wanted, with every fiber of my being, to run into his arms.
My panties were immediately damp, and my nipples hardened into diamond points that almost hurt. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t believe in fated mates.
His face registered surprise and then awareness. He tried taking a step toward me. The only problem was that at his feet there was a girl eagerly sucking his dick down her throat.
“Excuse me,” I muttered trying to rip my gaze away.
She was tiny, and her little pink thong was winking at me as it hugged her perfect ass. For all I knew she was his girlfriend. The rage that overtook me didn’t make a lick of sense.
What in the hell was going on?
I have never had this strong of a reaction to anyone or anything in my life. All I knew was that she had about two seconds to back away before I decided to cut the bitch.
I glanced back at the guy with the crazy, frozen look on his face. It vanished in seconds and in its place was the face of a player that knew he was hot.
“Oi, you must be Avery! Come in, love! We started the party without you!”
Over my dead body.
Before I even had a chance to think about it, I had slammed my fist into his face. It must have scared Bitty Barbie because she bit down. Suddenly my new roommate was doubled over in pain holding his dick, blood spurting from his nose.
I grabbed her by the throat and lifted her almost off her feet. “Listen you pink-haired cock sucker. Get out! I never want to see your face again.”
My wolf must have been close to the surface because it was more of a growl than a request. She lit out of there faster than lightning on a summer night.
Then, I turned to face my dickhead of a roommate. I tried to ignore the intense attraction that was still plaguing me. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t want anything to do with him.
“Look, hot stuff, this isn’t the Love Connection nor is it MTV. I don’t care who or what you hump, but I never want to see it in my face again. Are we clear?”
He grabbed my arm in a tight grip, and I felt desire race up my skin. Our eyes clashed, and I could see that his had taken a yellowish tint. We were both a little out of control.
“Not hump anything? That is classic! Why in the hell do you think we are here, Avery?”
“To train,” I spit out. “Not whatever shit you were trying to pull.”
He dropped my arm in surprise. “Training? You think we are here training? Shit, this is hilarious. We can train anywhere, Avery, this has nothing to do with training. Lycans are dying out. We are here to extend our race. We have been paired together as the best possible match to procreate. Didn’t your family tell you that?”
They sure as hell hadn’t.