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My Wolf’s Bane

By:Veronica Blade

rned Gina’s smile, but it faltered in anticipation of her reaction to my house arrest. “How’s it going?”

“Babe, I’ll be back.” Daniel’s beefy hand darted out for the sandwich on his tray, then he left without waiting for a reply. Relieved to have him gone, I watched him join a couple of his friends.

“God, who died?” Gina asked.

“What do you mean?” Oh, crap, was my reluctance to confess that obvious?

“Look at you.” She quirked a brow. “You’re so junior high without makeup.”

“Oh, yeah.” I lifted one shoulder. “Ran short on time this morning.”

Maya appeared at our table, looking amazing even holding a plastic food tray. She was a guy’s embodiment of perfection with her long, wavy blond hair and voluptuous body. She occasionally complained how hard it was to find a bra that fit around her narrow ribcage, but could still hold all she had to offer. Like all that cleavage was such a burden. Poor thing.

“Hey, Autumn.” Maya turned to Gina, her tone going flat. “Hi.”

“Nice shirt.” Gina smiled sweetly. “How generous of your brother to go through his clothes for you.”

My mouth dropped open. Gina had never been nice to Maya, but she usually limited their interaction to giving her the cold shoulder. “Gina, what the hell?” I demanded.

“Holy Underwear Model.” Gina’s gaze riveted to her right. “Who’s the hottie sitting with Trevor?”

Following the path of her gaze, I froze. The din of voices, the distant clanging of trays and the smell of grease faded away when I recognized the guy with the dark hair and green eyes I’d gotten lost in.

My stomach dipped.


Maya glanced behind her. “That’s Zack De Luca.”

“And?” Gina prompted.

“Trevor’s cousin.” Maya laid her tray on the table, but remained standing.

As if he could feel me staring at him, Zack turned his gaze on me. I gave him a welcoming smile, hoping he’d forget I’d bulldozed into him earlier and how my dickhead boyfriend had behaved. No such luck. He narrowed his eyes and shook his head.

I instantly deflated. “What’s his deal?”

“Zack just enrolled. He’s been visiting weekends and summers for years, but now he’s here for good.”

Maya had crushed on Trevor since grade school and knew everything about him and, it seemed, his relatives. I couldn’t understand why she and Trevor hadn’t already hooked up.

“Did he fail a couple grades? He looks old enough to be in college.” I surreptitiously checked out the boys again, while I broke off a piece of my grilled cheese sandwich. Trevor’s hair was a little lighter and his features less angular, but both guys excelled in the cute department. Zack more so.

“Almost the same age as Trevor. He’s a senior like us,” Maya said, glancing back at them. “Though he’s grown about a foot and bulked up since I saw him last.”

“Steroids?” I asked.

Maya laughed. “He’s always looked older than Trevor.”

“He could have that aging disease,” I offered.

Gina still hadn’t taken her eyes off him. “Who cares? He’s smokin’ hot. You can practically see his six-pack through his T-shirt.”

Maya rolled her eyes as if Gina were insane to prefer Zack over Trevor. “I could find out more about him, if you want me to.”

Gina turned to Maya with a sneer. “You’re such a stalker.”

“Whatever, Gina. It’s called being nice,” Maya said through gritted teeth. “Something you don’t have a lot of experience with.”

Gina made a face at Maya, then focused on me. “You’ve been hogging the cutest guy in school for weeks. If Zack fell madly in love with me, the hottest guy would be mine. Compared to him, Daniel looks like he’s got chromosome issues.”

Even if I still liked Daniel, I couldn’t be offended at the absolute truth. Everything about Zack was exactly right. As if feeling my gaze, he turned sharply in my direction again. My dad once wore the same expression when he discovered the decaying remains of a cat under our house.

My cheeks heated and I dropped my gaze to pluck a potato chip from my plate.

Maya moved next to me for a better view of the guys. “Must be awkward starting a new school when the year is almost over.”

Before I could stop myself, my eyes found their way back to Zack.

“Not when you’re that hot. He’ll be just fine.” Gina’s fork banged onto the plastic tray when she tossed it and stood. “Time to introduce myself.”

As I watched Zack, the hair on the back of my neck stood at attention. There was something different about him… almost feral. I wanted to caution Gina, but she’d probably call me paranoid.

Gina sashayed over to Zack, coyly twisting her hair around a finger. Trevor got up, leaving them alone. I eyed them under my lashes as Gina said something. Zack chuckled and she laughed.

At that moment, I hated them both — him for making me feel like week-old garbage and Gina for making him smile when all I got was a scowl. To distract myself, I picked up my sandwich and concentrated on Maya.

“Gina’s in rare form today.” The soda can hissed as Maya popped the top, her gaze straying back to Trevor. He looked away when their eyes met.

“Yeah, sorry about that. I don’t know what’s up with her.” I let my hair fall forward to hide my face as I snuck a peek at Trevor, who was staring at Maya again. “You should talk to Trevor. I really think he likes you.”

Her eyes cut to mine. “How could a guy be interested in anyone else when you’re around?”

“What?” My mouth dropped open.

“C’mon, Autumn,” she said, but there wasn’t any bitterness in her voice. More like she’d accepted her fate. “You have perfect olive skin that never gets a zit and never needs a tan, you’re tall and thin and I’d kill for all that glorious, black hair.”

I eyed the locks cascading over my shoulder. “Dark brown, actually. Boring. And besides, Trevor keeps staring at you, not me. I bet he’d go for it if you asked.”

She rolled her eyes and flicked a thumb at Zack. “He seems nice.”

Obviously, Maya hadn’t noticed him scowling at me. “I wouldn’t know.” I