While I’d initially been searching for Asher, it hadn’t been my intention to go scurrying to him, squealing about his younger brother’s lack of boundaries and basic respect for women.
I squashed the part of me that wondered why Brandon was such an a*s, especially towards his older brother, reminding myself it wasn’t my job to figure him out.
There were far more worrisome things that had my attention, like murderous witches and plotting vampires.
‘You should have let me come out.’ Maya huffed for the third time, her bloodlust not at all satiated. It felt nice leaving him groaning in the sand, his beer overturned and forgotten.
Maya’s version of justice held the ruthlessness of a Luna. ‘A nasty scar-or a hand, that would teach him. He’d never touch us again.’
‘I won’t be known as the Luna who bites off hands.’ I told her pointedly but snorted when she snapped her teeth.
“Well, hello your majesty.”
“Careful, Zeke. I’ve already kneed one guy in the b***s, and I’d hate to damage your favorite organ.” I smirked, not at all surprised when I turned to find a sharp- eyed brunette beneath his muscular arm.
Her bottom-heavy lips were turned up in a friendly smile, amused by my witty comment. The cropped tube top she wore had a small butterfly on the front, matching the pale b****i bottoms tied at her hips. I knew instantly, from the slim figure to the glossy and expertly curled hair, that this girl was popular.
It was evident in the way she held herself, how she grinned and nodded at people who looked her way. With every turn of her head, the silvery highlighter on her cheeks caught the moonlight.
“I have no doubt Brandon deserved much worse. That should keep him off you for the next forty-eight hours, at least.” Zeke laughed fully, his chest expanding and lips widening to a dimpled grin.
How he and Asher had maintained a friendship for so long astounded me. I guess opposites truly did attract, even with brooding and savage Alpha’s.
“Maya wanted to take a hand.” I told them, sighing. “His b***s will recover quickly, unfortunately.”
“I would’ve gone with your wolf’s suggestion. Nothing short of maiming will chase Brandon off, not when he’s hellbent on pissing off Asher.”
Zeke shook his head, but quickly cheered up as the brunette placed her hand on his b**e chest, looking up at him with curious eyes. “Ah, right! Lola, this is Carson. She’s the president of one of the sororities at the University.”
There was a certain eagerness in her baby blue eyes, and friendliness that put me oddly at ease.
“Alpha Phi, and we’re the largest in the state. I knew I had to meet you after that whirlwind of an announcement! Our sorority’s vision is lifting powerful women, not breaking them down.
It’s so amazing that our Luna is the embodiment of that!” She smiled sweetly, her words warm and surprisingly honest. The tips of her manicure tapped across the phone in her hands, as she opened the camera app.
Her lips looked even more pouty when she asked, “I run the sorority’s I***a. Could I get a few pictures with you, Luna? Pretty please? You’ll send our followers through the roof, and just in time for Spirit Week!”
“Oh, sure–of course.” I stammered, caught off guard. I caught Zeke’s smirk and snarled at him, making Carson giggle. She all but shoved the phone into his hands while rushing to my side.
“Make sure you get us both in the center – no, ugh. Not from that angle. Are you trying to make us look two dimensional?” She shook her head disparagingly, “An Alpha who hasn’t mastered the art of taking a basic picture …tragic.”
After positioning both Zeke and me, Carson posed at my side, placing a hand on her hip as she grinned proudly at the camera. I froze my smile in place and counted the number of photo’s he snapped.
After the first ten she had me remove my sweatshirt, and finally my shorts. The last few shots were of us in our b****i’s, the full moon and glittering lake in the background.
“These are perfect! Thank you so much, Luna.” She beamed, bouncing on her heels as she swiped through the pictures. Her eyes darted up from the cellphone, glittering mischievously.
“Also, we’re having an after party at the frat house next door! You and Alpha are more than welcome to come-it would be an honor, actually.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” I promised her, returning the excited grin she gave me with one of my own. Turning to Zeke, I asked. “Speaking of Asher, have you seen him?”
“I escaped him half an hour ago, somewhere towards the docks. We’re headed to the after party. Your cockblock of a mate seems hellbent on keeping me in sight.”
He chuckled, his laugh mixing with Carson’s. Under firelight, the golden flames highlighted his sharp jaw and chocolate eyes, his features even more charming. “Unlike Brandon, I know when to keep my hands to myself.”
“I trust you won’t get yourself into trouble.” I lifted an eyebrow at him, scenting his lie the moment his lips twitched.
“I would never.” He vowed, a hand on his b**e chest and the other around Carson’s waist.
“It was great meeting you, Luna! Follow u s on I***a!” Carson waved, gazing up at Zeke as they left. I could hear her giggling fading in the distance, along with his raucous laughter.
‘How much trouble can he get himself into at a frat party?’ Maya snorted.
I continued along the beach, passing dimming fires surrounded by college students, either too drunk or high to notice their Luna wading through them.
Couples were tangled around one another, filling the air with their sighs and breathless gasps.
‘Asher?’ I called down the bond, feeling it’s soothing thrum course through me, connecting me to Asher no matter where we both were. I waited until seconds turned to minutes, and my lips turned down.
Shaking away that inkling of worry, I tried to sort through the hundreds of scents that crowded the beach, overlapping one another as they mixed with the scent of fresh water.
I strayed closer to the forest line as I walked around a larger group, their fire three times the size of the others I had seen. I had no intention of stopping but halted in my tracks when a voice sneered my name. It wasn’t one I had heard before, but I’d never mistake that ignorant, demeaning tone.
“Luna Lola? Is that really you? St, when I heard you were coming-I thought you’d pu**y out.” I stopped in my tracks and turned, gazing at the half- illuminated figure of a tipsy frat guy.
His polo was the same sky-blue color as his eyes and fit perfectly to his athletic form. The shorts, sandals and cheep beer in his hand only enhanced the spoiled jock look. I made no mistake; even drunk, there was a cruel intelligence in his eyes, and determination.
His voice caught the attention of the others sitting around the fire. Couples untangled themselves, the sounds of their kissing fading beneath the crackle of flame.
‘We knew this would happen.’ I reminded Maya (and myself) that violence wasn’t always the answer. ‘There’s going to be backlash. What matters is how we deal with it. This is why I’m the one who handles diplomacy.’
“I don’t run, especially not from a party full of college students.” I shrugged, unfazed while Maya snarled away in my ear.
The frat boy smirked, but there was nothing playful about the expression. Even with his floppy hair and straight teeth, his beauty was marred by cruelty.
” Well, that’s not entirely true, right? Most of us, we’re not idiots. We’ve done our research on you, Luna.”
“Why the f**k do you always have to start st, Devin?” A feminine voice snarled, which I quickly realized belonged to Alex. Her neon streak was darker, but still unmistakable. One of the many perched around the flames, watching the showdown between a drunken dd and their Luna.
“Dude, Cass warned you –,” A guy’s voice grunted.
“F**k Cassidy.” Devin spat, his eyes narrowing on me. I kept my stance relaxed, unbothered since bothered is exactly what he wanted me to be.
“You idiots only listen to her because she’s crawled her way into the Alpha’s bed. She’s been there a lot longer than you, Luna. Have fun sharing your throne, blood sucker.”
“I ran once, but if you’ve actually done your research, then you’d know I’m an entirely different person now.”
As always, I was reminded of my power when the shadows surrounding the forest pulsed and quivered. Tendrils slinked forwards, only to retreat when they reached the glow of the firelight. Called by my anger and irritation, born and bred to tempt.
I was sure that no one here could see them. No, they’d be running in terror if they could see how they pooled around my ankles, close but never touching my skin.
However, there was a darkness in my voice they could feel, like the icy caress of the shadows across their skin. “I’m a little busy right now, searching for your Alpha. But rest assured, I never forget a face.”
“We’ll talk again.” I promised him, letting cold rage splinter and fracture within the depths of my eyes, staring until his throat worked and gaze flitted away.
My blood was racing as I turned on my heel and stalked off, keeping my shoulders loose and posture relaxed.
The last thing I needed was for them to taste my rage, the anger that came with being disrespected, especially when power pulsed beneath my skin.
“They keep getting curious…coming without being called.’ Maya said, worriedly. The two of us glancing towards the shadows that now scattered, deep within the darkness of the forest always watching and waiting.