I can’t believe Lou talked me into doing this. At one point she’s saying how I’ll go feral if I don’t get out and meet somebody, and the next thing I know I’m yelling at her about how that’s not how going feral works. She then tells me that that is exactly how it works and makes up a story about a dog that went crazy because it was tied up all day.
As insulting as it was to compare me to a dog, I have to admit that she’s not entirely wrong. I’ve struggled figuring out who I am. Am I my father’s daughter as my dad always says? Or, am I the thing that the rest of the world sees me as and that I’m always trying to suppress?
Either way, my life sucks. I mean, I have everything in life anyone could ask for thanks to my father’s wildly successful genetics research company. But, it comes with a trade-off that makes it not worth it.
My father thought he was doing the world a service by curing infertility. And since my mom was infertile, she became the first test subject. I’m proof that it worked. But it had a side effect that no one could ever have imagined.
My mom is dead because of that side effect. I lock myself away because of that side effect. And, because of it, I’m scared as hell of the full moon.
It’s not that I think anything is going to happen to me during a full moon. There’s been a lot of full moons since the first time, and I believe in science.
What terrifies me about it is what other people think will happen. If they’ve heard of me —and who hasn’t heard of me thanks to my showboating father — and they see me out in a full moon, every crazy story they’ve read turns me into a monster in their eyes.
I don’t want to feel their judgement or terror. What’s more, I don’t want to smell it. I’ve been told that I’m the only one who notices it, but people’s scents are overwhelming. That’s part of the reason I lock myself in my dorm room when I’m not attending class. Well, that and fact that no one at East Tennessee University has recognized me yet and I want it to stay that way.
The only one so far who knows about my condition is Louise, my roommate and first actual friend. I told her after the University matched us and decided that this was the year I would attend. Thanks to my home schooling and inheriting my father’s intellectual gifts, I’ve had a high school equivalency since I was 16 years old. And four years is a long time to figure out what I’m going to do with my life.
It’s not like I would ever need to find a job, or that I couldn’t get the equivalent of my intended genetics major just from working with my dad. But, there was one thing I didn’t have and I knew I couldn’t get living how I was. Locked away like in our New York penthouse, I would never have a life. I would never have real friends. I would never have sex.
I wanted sex. During a certain time of the month, it is all I can think about. The full moon might not turn me into a snarling, half-human beast. But, it makes me think sex like I need it to breath. The older I get, the worse it gets.
Is there a chance not leaving my dorm will make me go feral like Lou casually suggested? I don’t think so. I’ve had a lot more control over things compared to when I was a kid. If this was an alcohol problem instead of what it is, I could say that I haven’t had a drink in years.
But, whether Lou was joking or not, I didn’t want her thinking that me going feral was a possibility. So, after some yelling and fighting, I looked up the only party on campus happening tonight, and dressed for it.
“Finally,” Lou said as I headed to the door.
What killed me was that after all of our arguing, as I left she had a smirk on her face. It was like this was her plan all along and I was the only one who actually got upset. She had manipulated me to go out and get a life. That sneaking little diva!
“And I want proof that you didn’t just go to a park and chase squirrels or something.”
“I don’t chase squirrels!” I protested strongly.
“Whatever! But, when I get back from my date, I want to see a naked guy in your bed and I want to see some shame, Missy. Plenty of it.”
“There will be! There will be plenty of shame, for you. Because of how wrong you were about me… and stuff.”
“I mean it, Quin.”
So now, here I am marching across campus to the only party that my last-minute research turned up. East Tennessee University’s football team won against West Tennessee University their cross-state rivals earlier in the day and the football fraternity was throwing a party. Nothing about any of that sounded fun, but I’m going… because Lou tricked me into it. So much for me being the smart one.
Fine. I’ll go. I’ll get proof that I was there. Then I’ll go to a coffee shop and read a book on my phone.
I know she mentioned that thing about finding someone naked in my bed, but there’s no way that’s going to happen. I couldn’t lose my virginity in a pool full of dicks. Believe me, I’ve tried. But as soon as anyone gets a good look at me and realizes who I am, they either talk about leashing me in case I turn on them in the middle of sex, or they run for the hills.
No, I’m going to spend the rest of my life as a sad, lonely virgin. Did I just bum myself out? I think I did. Now I’m really not in the mood for a party.
Rounding the corner, I could hear the music before the fraternity house came into view. My anger at Lou was still driving me, but its effects were fading fast. The other thing about growing up the way I did was that, I wasn’t very good at human stuff. Coming face-to-face with the reality of what I was doing, I was realizing that there was no way I was going to be able to mingle or cohort or whatever it was that people my age did.
Nope! New plan. I wasn’t going in. I was gonna get my proof that I was here, though. I was gonna walk up to one of the half dozen people standing outside, ask to take a selfie with them and then get out of there as quickly as I could.
Looking around, I saw people smoking, people talking in a circle with red cups, and one guy standing by himself. That made the selection easy. All I had to do was walk up to him, ask to take a selfie, snap it, thank him and go. I could manage that. I wasn’t a complete freak. I could talk to one person.
Tightening my lips, I hardened my resolve and charged over. I wasn’t going to overthink it. I was just going to do it and be done.
“Excuse me, can I get a selfie with you?” I asked the guy with his back to me.
“You want a selfie with me? Why?” The guy said with an edge to his voice as he turned around.
Do you know that feeling when you see something that takes your breath away? Warm prickles start at the back of your hands and shoot up your arms before settling in your face as the heat makes you lightheaded? That was what happened when our eyes met. The guy was beautiful.
His creamy skin contrasted with his jet black hair and pool-blue eyes. His jawline was carved out of marble. There were dimples, so many dimples. And his rippling muscles looked like they had muscles.
More than that, he smelled amazing. There was a sweet musk to him that I had never smelt in my life. It made me drunk just standing there. As his scent wafted off of him, it stripped me of my will. It was like he had leashed me while at the same time awaking the part of me I fought so hard to restrain.
I couldn’t speak and he was clearly waiting for me to. He had asked me a question. What was it? Oh yeah! It was why I wanted a selfie with him, and he seemed upset about it.
Had I made him angry? Was it weird to ask to take a selfie with a complete stranger? It probably was? Shit! What the hell was I thinking?
“Sorry,” I sputtered before forcing my legs to move in the opposite direction.
I got two steps away before he spoke again.
“Wait! Don’t go.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. If you want a selfie, I’ll take one with you.”
“No, that’s okay,” I said wanting to look at him again but scared that if I did I wouldn’t be able to breathe.
“No, really. It’s fine. You can get one. I don’t know why anyone would want one. But, it’s fine. I’d be happy to take one with you.”
That was when I looked at him again. I recognized what he was saying. He was talking like a guy who was used to people asking to take pictures with him. I knew a little about that. Who didn’t want to take their picture with Harlequin Toro, the only wolf shifter in existence?
That was me, though. Why did people ask him for selfies? He was the most amazing-looking guy ever. Did random strangers approach him dazzled by his beauty? It wouldn’t surprise me if they did.
“I, um, wasn’t asking for a selfie because I know who you are. I don’t recognize you. I don’t know who you are,” I explained.
The guy jutted his head back startled. As I stared, his fair skin turned pink.
“Oh! Okay. Then…” he shook his head as if trying to shake something loose. “I’m sorry, why do you want a selfie with me?”
“It wasn’t you. It was anybody,” I told him.
“You wanted to get a selfie with anybody? Why?”
I huffed as my infuriating predicament reentered my mind.
“It’s my roommate. She told me that I needed to get out and have fun. She said she needed proof…”
“And the selfie was going to be the proof?”
“So, after you took the selfie…, what? You were gonna go?”
“Yeah,” I admitted suddenly deflating.
The gorgeous guy looked at me like I was the freak that I am. A smile crept across his face. It would have made me feel bad about myself if it didn’t make me want to melt into a puddle in the grass.
“This is going to sound crazy, but you’re here. Why not go in and actually have fun?”
“I’m not good at this type of thing. You know, the social thing.”
“Luckily, that’s something I’m very good at. How about we make a deal? I’ll give you your selfie as proof for your roommate, but you have to come in and actually try to have a good time. I’ll introduce you to a couple of people. That way, when your roommate asks you about the night, you won’t have to lie,” he said his face exploding into dimples.
I stared at him. “Why would you do that?”
He looked at me twisting his head in confusion.
“Maybe I’m just being nice. Maybe I think you’re cool and that it would be cool to hang out. Maybe I’m flirting.”
A chill shot through me upon hearing the word “flirting”. What was going on? Did this guy like me? Was there something happening between us? Was there going to be a naked guy in my bed full of shame when Lou got home after all?
“Um, okay,” I said sure that I was turning beet-red.
“Cage, by the way?”
“My name.” He stared at me. “And your name is?”
“Cool. I like that name.”
“Thanks. My parents gave it to me,” I said losing control of my tongue.
“I mean, of course my parents gave it to me.”
“Not of course. My parents didn’t give me the name Cage.”
“Who did? An uncle or somebody?”
“No, I did.”
“So, what’s your birth name?”
Cage looked at me with thoughts rushing through his head. “How about I take you inside and show you around?”
“So, I guess we’re going to let that question go?”
Cage chuckled uncomfortably.
As he led me up the stairs, onto the porch, and then into the frat house, it was hard to take my eyes off of him. When I did, I was surprised by what I saw. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. The large living room was sparsely furnished but full of people. Everyone had red cups in their hand and they spoke to each other like they were friends.
“It’s still pretty early,” Cage explained.
“What do you mean?” I said raising my voice over the country-pop music.
“There’ll be more people later.”
“More than this?” I asked looking around at what felt like a horde.
Cage chuckled. “Yeah.”
“Cage!” A thick guy said throwing his arms around Cage spilling some of his drink onto Cage’s shirt. “Oh, did I get you?”
“That’s okay,” Cage said casually. “Dan, this is Quin.”
Dan turned to me and stared. “Quin!” he finally said ending the awkwardness. “Is he trying to recruit you?”
“What?” I asked confused.
“Is he trying to get you on the football team?”
I stared at him unsure what was happening. Was he being serious? Did he think I was a boy? It’s not like that mistake hadn’t happened before. On top of everything else, the boob fairy hadn’t exactly been generous to me.
But, even if he did think I was a boy, I would be a small one. I’m clearly not built like someone who ran full speed into 200-pound men.
I turned to Cage confused.
Cage smiled. “Don’t pay any attention to Dan. He’s taken a few too many hits.”
“You’re welcome, by the way,” Dan said defensively.
“You two are on the football team?” I asked putting things together.
Dan dropped his clueless jock act and threw his arms around Cage. “No. I’m on the football team. This man is the team.”
I looked at Cage for an explanation.
He smiled with humility. “I’m the quarterback.”
“He isn’t just the quarterback,” Dan said mockingly. “He’s the guy who’s gonna lead us to a national championship, and then he’s going pro.”
“Ohhhh! Now I get it. The selfie. You thought I was asking for a selfie because you’re a famous football player.”
“I’m not a famous football player,” he said quickly.
“Hell yeah, he’s famous. There ain’t anybody who doesn’t know who he is,” Dan said proudly.
I looked at Cage for his reaction. Cage looked back at me and chuckled uncomfortably.
“Not everyone knows who I am.”
“Name me one person who doesn’t,” Dan challenged.
He gave me a knowing smile. “Quin, you want a drink? I think you need a drink. Follow me.”
“Good meeting you, Quin,” Dan said before wandering off.
“So, you’re a quarterback?”
“Didn’t you hear? I’m not just a quarterback, I’m the team,” Cage said with self-deprecation.
I laughed. “I heard. Are you going to go pro?”
“Sure,” Cage said half-heartedly before turning to pump beer into two red cups.
“You don’t sound excited.”
“No. I’m excited. I can’t wait to play for the NFL. It’s, ah, everything I’ve been working towards,” he said handing me a cup and holding up his to cheers with mine. “To new friends.”
I touched his cup and took a drink. “This beer is awful,” I said looking down at my cup.
Cage laughed. “No, tell me what you really think.”
“I mean that it’s not very good,” I explained.
Cage laughed louder. “You don’t have much of a filter, do you?”
I froze. That wasn’t the first time someone had said that to me. “Is that bad?”
“Actually, it’s kind of refreshing.”
“Oh. Okay,” I said falling for him more.
“You have a nice smile.”
“I didn’t realize I was smiling,” I told him.
“You are,” he said looking at me with a smile of his own.
“You too. It’s very nice,” I said feeling my heart thump and not knowing what to do about it.
Cage stopped smiling and looked into my eyes. God did I want to kiss him.
“I suppose if I ask you if you’re having fun yet, you’ll tell me the truth.”
“I’m having fun,” I said moving closer in case he did want to kiss me.
Cage watched me with a devilish look in his eyes. I could have sworn that he was about to move his lips towards mine when he said, “Why don’t I introduce you to a few more people.”
“More people? I’ve already met two. How many more people can a person meet in a night?”
“Haha. A few more than that,” he said slipping his hand around my shoulders and leading me away.
Feeling his touch set something off in me that I could barely control. It was the part of me that I fought to repress. It was fighting to get out. I knew I should have been doing everything to resist it, but I didn’t want to. With it came a sense of power I had never felt before. I liked it. It made me feel… strong.
In spite of how much I wanted to let go, I did my best to stay with Cage in my present form. He was leading me around the party introducing me to people. He wasn’t kidding about being good at social stuff. Everyone he introduced me to hung on his every word. And, when it was my turn to speak, they hung on my every word, too.
These types of interactions had always been so hard for me. But, balancing on the surface of my spiraling emotions, this time I felt… alive.
What charged me up even more was that Cage took every opportunity to touch me. He touched my shoulder when he introduced me. His pointing finger lightly rested on my forearm when he was emphasizing a point. And, standing shoulder to shoulder as if we were already a couple, he would bump his shoulder against mine when he laughed.
I was on the verge of shifting by the time he was done with me. I knew that should have freaked me out. But instead I thought about what Lou had suggested. What would Cage look like naked in my bed?
With one of his teammates waving his arms around telling a story, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Cage. With his full attention on his friend, Cage subtly retrieved his phone from his pocket and peaked down. Slipping it away quickly, he waited for the arm waving to die down and then looked between his friend and me.
“I hate to say this, but I have to head out,” he said lightly placing his large hand on the back of my arm.
“Yes, me too,” I said quickly.
“Yeah? Where you headed?” He asked enthusiastically.
“Back to my room.”
“Really? I’ll go with you,” he said squeezing my arm.
My heart stopped. He was coming with me? Was this it? I couldn’t believe it might finally happen. I swallowed and forced myself to speak.
After saying a few goodbyes, the two of us exited into the night. As the cool air surrounded my hot body, I felt giddy and dangerous. I needed to hear his voice. I knew it would anchor me.
Why wasn’t he saying anything? Hadn’t he claimed to be good at stuff like this? I was about to mumble something in desperation when he finally said,
“It’s a clear night.”
“You can see all of the stars.”
I looked up. He was right. The night was perfectly clear. There was nothing between us and the light of the full moon. How had I not remembered that tonight was the full moon?
It’s not like it mattered. I wasn’t a hollowing monster enslaved by it. I hadn’t shifted in years. I had long ago gotten control over myself, over my body. I was Harlequin Toro, human, not some mindless wolf…
I was shaking. “I guess I’m nervous,” I admitted.
“What are you nervous about?”
My face got hot. “I don’t know.”
Cage stared at me. “You’re really pretty. Do you know that?”
“So are you. I mean, you’re good-looking not pretty,” I told him shaking even more.
Cage chuckled. “Thanks. Are you happy you came out tonight?”
“Yeah, definitely,” I said fighting not to show him how much.
“We’re here,” he said as we approached the door of my building.
“We’re here,” I repeated my heart pounding. “Do you want to come in?”
“Come in?” Cage asked caught off guard.
“Yes,” I replied struggling not to pounce him right there.
“Ahhhh,” he murmured before the door popped open and a girl came out.
“Cage!” She said before wrapping her arms around him and standing on her tiptoes to kiss his lips.
My mouth dropped open in shock. What was going on? What had just happened?
The petite, blonde with angular features turned towards me. “Who’s this?”
“Ah, this is Quin. Quin this is Tasha.”
Tasha looked at me suspiciously while Cage became uncomfortable.
“Tasha is my girlfriend.”
“How do you know Cage?” Tasha asked me.
I was too shocked by everything to speak.
“Quin had asked me for a selfie.”
Tasha turned to Cage surprised. “Oh. Did you give her one?”
“Not yet,” Cage said with a smile.
“I can take it,” Tasha volunteered. “Give me your phone,” she said approaching me with her hand out.
Still speechless, I handed her my phone and stood next to Cage.
“Say cheese,” she said.
“Cheese,” Cage replied while I stared back stunned.
“Here you go,” she said handing me back my phone. “Check it.”
I looked down and saw my full humiliation on display. “Yes.”
“Okay. Let’s go. I’m hungry,” Tasha said entwining her body with Cage’s and pulling him away.
“It was nice meeting you, Quin,” he said looking at me as he left.
“Nice meeting… you,” I mumbled sure that he could no longer hear me.
I watched as the perfectly suited couple walked off. Of course, he had a girlfriend. And, of course, she looked like that. My heart hurt watching them go.
I can’t believe I thought he wanted to be with me. No one ever wanted to be with me. How could I have been so foolish? How could I think a guy like him would be interested in a girl like me?
Once the two had disappeared into the darkness, I entered the building. Ascending the stairs in a daze, I felt like I was going to explode. Why didn’t anyone ever like me back? Why didn’t Cage like me?
I couldn’t take this anymore. My skin vibrated with a ferocity I hadn’t felt in years. When I finally realized what was going on, it was too late.
“Oh no. No, no, no, no, no,” I said in a panic.
As I bound up the stairs, the world around me drifted further away. I needed to lock myself up. I couldn’t believe this. It had been years. Why now? Why here?
Approaching my dorm room door, I smelled the last thing I wanted to smell or expected. Lou was home. Why was she home? Didn’t she say she had a date?
I didn’t want her to see me like this. I didn’t want to terrify her with the truth of who I was. I didn’t want to accidently kill her.
Was this how my mother died? Had I lost control and ripped out her throat? I was too young to remember. But a three-year-old child and a three-year-old wolf are different. If I let it, would the beast inside of me take away another person I cared about?
No, I couldn’t let it. I had to get behind closed doors as quickly as I could. Scrambling for my keys I flung open the door and charged in.
“Aren’t you supposed to be out finding yourself a guy?” She said as I rushed by her for my room. “Quin, what’s wrong?”
As my bedroom door closed behind me and I searched for the padlock for the latch I installed, I finally lost control and did what I prayed for years that I wouldn’t do. The feeling was torture. It all came rushing back.
A prickly feeling washed over me igniting every nerve in my body. My muscle clamped into the worst cramp you could imagine. And as my muscles pulled apart and ate itself, my bones snapped under the strain of it.
Mercifully, that was when I passed out. This was how it happened when I was a kid. At least it started that way. Because as a kid, I would black out in one location and wake up naked and covered in blood somewhere else.
My father often tested the blood to make sure none of it was human. It never was. But, every so often pictures of missing cats would end up posted around our upstate New York home.
Our neighbors knew what I was so they had their suspicions but they would never know for sure. The only person to ever see me shift was my father. And it wasn’t until he determined that I, and my wolf, wasn’t a threat that we moved back to the Manhattan apartment where my mother had died.
This shift wasn’t like any I had had when I was a kid, though. This time I woke up in my room in the dark. It felt like one of those instances when you wake up to learn that you can’t move your body. I was conscious, fully conscious. But I was pacing in my room very close to the ground and it felt like I was being taken for a ride.
As much as I tried, I couldn’t stop myself. My dresser whipped by me in rapid succession and as I entertained the sounds around me, I heard a wild panting. Oh no, I was in it. I was the monster.
The only way I had been able to come to terms with who I was was by convincing myself that I wasn’t it and it wasn’t me. I wasn’t the one who killed my mother. It was. It was dangerous and brutal. I was not.
Yet, here I was disproving everything I held onto for my own sanity. I was awake, though not in control, and I was experiencing the world around me as if it were my own.
“Quin, are you alright?” a faint voice said just outside my door.
As if set on fire, my wolf went wild. It bulleted to the door and attacked it as if fighting to break through.
“Oh no, the latch. I didn’t lock it,” I remembered flooded with dread.
As soon as I said it, my eyes turned towards the door handle and it clawed at it. It heard me and it was fighting to get out. If it got out it would kill Lou. I was sure of it. It would kill everyone in its path until someone put it down or it ran away.
This was my greatest nightmare come true. It was why I locked myself away never wanting to come out. It was everything I had feared.
Wait! It heard me! That’s how it knew to go after the lock. If it heard me say that, then…
“Stop it! You will not attack my friend. You won’t do to her what you did to my mother!”
As if frozen in place, it stopped. Standing still, sadness washed through my mind. It wasn’t me feeling it. It was the wolf. It was thinking about what it had done to my mom. Regret filled it. Somehow I knew it hadn’t meant to. And as if calmed by the tragedy, it slowly back away from the door and whimpered.
My wolf was crying. It knew how much it had lost that day as much as I did. It also knew that it was her fault. Both of us had grown up without a mother because of it. Death hadn’t been my wolf’s intention. It had acted impulsively and unexpected things had happened.
Without asking it to, the wolf walked in front of my full length mirror. It was dark, but the wolf’s eyes were more sensitive than mine. I could make out her reflection clearly. I was 20 and just approaching adulthood. The wolf staring back at me was much older than that.
I had only seen video of it before. Back then it was of a much younger wolf. This one looked calmer and maybe even a little wiser than the one pacing back and forth in my father’s safety room. Was it different than the one that had terrorized my world all of those years ago?
Maybe it was. Maybe I didn’t know this wolf at all. Maybe I didn’t know myself. Who would I be if I wasn’t so scared of what I would become?
Wow! I have never felt anything like that in my life. Looking at Quin I could barely contain myself. I couldn’t keep my hands off of her. I could have stayed with her at the party all night. For the first time in a long time, I felt alive.
Returning to reality was a hard pill to swallow. When I got Tasha’s text, it felt like the rug had been ripped from under me. I wanted to stay there with Quin. I wanted to see how far it would go. But, I had promised Tasha that I would take her to dinner whether or not we won the game. I always keep my obligations and I had made one to Tasha.
“So, I wanted to talk to you about something,” Tasha said breaking the silence as we walked.
Tasha looked at me excitedly and blushed. Seeing her display of emotion was an unusual sight. A dark cloud usually followed Tasha infecting everyone around her.
I had to assume she wasn’t happy with her life. I was clearly a part of her dissatisfaction. But whenever I tried to talk to her about it, she accused me of trying to ruin the good thing we have going.
What good thing was that? She wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy. And we never had sex.
“You know Vi, right?” Tasha asked bubbling.
“Your best friend Vi who you spend all of your time with. Yeah, I know her.”
“You don’t have to say it like that.”
“You asked me if I knew the girl you always talk about.”
“Why are you trying to start a fight? I’m trying to do something nice for you.”
I caught myself and took a breath. I was feeling tense. I hadn’t want to leave Quin, but I did because of Tasha. That was probably for the best, though. The way she made me feel could only lead to me making decisions I would regret.
I had larger things to consider. I had worked my whole life to play for the NFL. Being with a girl like Tasha helps sell the pack of me as the face of a franchise. At least, that’s what my father says. And it had been his dream that I play professional football longer than it had been mine. I couldn’t let him down.
“I’m sorry. I guess I’m still feeling beat up from the game. It’s making me a little cranky.”
Tasha smiled. “You’re forgiven,” she said wrapping her arms around mine. “And, I think I have something that will make you feel better.”
“Okay,” I said mustering a smile. “What is it?”
“Well, remember how we’ve been talking about spicing things up in… the bedroom?”
I looked at Tasha suspiciously. Spicing things up was something she had brought up and when she did, it felt like she had something very specific in mind that she wouldn’t mention.
“So, I talked to Vi…”
“Okay,” I said confused.
“I spoke to Vi and asked her if she would be interested in joining the two of us when we were… together. And she said yes,” Tasha said crackling.
I stopped walking and stared at her. It took a second to wrap my head around what she was saying.
“You mean, like a threesome?”
“Yeah,” she said turning bright red.
“Tasha, why would you do that?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why would you invite someone else into our bed… and without talking to me first?”
“I thought you would like it. Doesn’t every guy want to be with two beautiful women at the same time?”
“Not every guy. And, if you would have asked me, I would have told you that I’m a one-guy, one-girl sort of man… if you would have asked me.”
“I thought you would like it,” she said heartbroken.
“Well, I don’t. And, I don’t know why you would even suggest it.”
“Maybe it’s because we never have sex anymore.”
“And that’s my fault? You’re the one who spends all of her time with Vi.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I’m not the one who doesn’t want to have sex.”
“Well, you could have fooled me.”
“Then, if you’re so unhappy, maybe we shouldn’t be together.”
Tasha froze staring at me. “Why would you say that? Why would you say that?”
“Isn’t that what’s obvious?”
“No. We were meant to be together. I would make you the perfect wife. You know that. You’re going to get drafted and become the starting quarterback for a big NFL team and I’ll take care of the house and start a charity. We talked about this, Baby. Our futures are set.”
She was right. We had talked about it and that was exactly what we had said. But now that I was in my senior year and I couldn’t put off entering the draft any longer, I was starting to have my doubts. That wasn’t her fault, though. And I shouldn’t be taking it out on her.
“You’re right. I’m sorry, Tasha. I’m just in a mood today. But, please, no more talking about threesomes, okay?”
As soon as I said it, I saw the light in Tasha’s eyes blink out.
“Okay,” she agreed before the two of us continued our walk to the restaurant in silence.
“I told you not to take that class, Rucker.”
“Coach, it was something I was interested in,” I tried to explain for the thousandth time.
“Intro to Childhood Education? What does a starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or L.A. Rams need with a class on childhood education?” my coach asked more than a little pissed off.
“Look,” I said finally losing my cool. “I took every class you told me to whether I wanted to or not. I attend every practice you schedule and I work hard enough to puke…”
“And look where you are because of it. A top prospect in a competitive draft class. You should be thanking me for how hard I’ve pushed you.”
I caught myself and took a breath. “And I am. But Coach, I needed to take at least one class that was for me.”
“But why that one?”
“It’s what I’m interested in.”
“Yet you haven’t attended a single class since the beginning of the year?”
“That’s because it starts 20 minutes after the end of practice. I thought I could just run over when I was done. But sometimes practice runs late, or I have to take an ice bath. Sometimes I’m just too tired.”
“Well, you should have thought about that before you chose the class because this professor isn’t as sympathetic to the challenges of student-athletes as the others are. This one thinks you should have to attend and take the tests to pass. And if you don’t pass this class, you won’t be allowed to play spring quarter. That means this team won’t win and no one will scout you.”
“I got it. I’ll start going to class.”
“Not just that. You’re getting a tutor. I’ll have one of my people find you someone. When’s your next class?”
I looked up at the clock on the wall of Coach’s office.
“Then get your ass over there.”
“Coach, it’s across campus. By the time I get there, there will only be five minutes left.”
“I guess that means you’ll have to run, doesn’t it?”
“Coach, we just did 20 minutes of wind sprints.”
“Don’t talk back, just run. I mean it. Go, go, go!”
Backing out of the office, I did what I was told and ran. I had taken off my chest padding, but I was still in my cleats, compression shirt, and padded pants. The class was on the third floor of a building clear across campus. I didn’t have time to change if I was going to make it.
I didn’t know how I had gotten into this mess. Actually, I kinda did. It was my act of rebellion. Yeah, I knew that it would butt up against practice, but I thought it would give me an excuse to leave practice early. I was wrong. And now my entire future hung in the balance.
Entering the building and the stairwell, I was completely out of breath. Luckily no one could hear my panting over the thunderous noise of my metal cleats echoing off the concrete. There was no quietly sneaking into the back of the class. By the time I had opened the classroom door, everyone had already turned to look. There were 50 students and one angry professor all staring at me.
“Sorry. Please continue,” I said between struggling breaths and plenty of humiliation.
Taking the first open seat, I rested my head on the desk to quietly catch my breath. I again felt like I wanted to puke, but that wasn’t happening here.
Gathering myself I sat up realizing that I hadn’t grabbed my book bag from my locker. It wasn’t like I had the notebook for this class in it or anything. I had given up on attending a long time ago. But it would have been nice to have something in front of me so I didn’t look like an idiot.
Pulling out my phone, I did my best to seem like I was taking notes on it. I wasn’t because I had no idea what the professor was talking about. It looked like everyone else did, though. They were all laser-focused on the woman standing in front of us. That is, everyone was paying attention except one person. And when I saw her, I couldn’t breathe.
It was Quin, and she was looking up at me. Our eyes connected for a second but then she looked away. Everything inside of me tingled. I could immediately feel myself breathing harder.
Just seeing her did something to me. I had been given a second chance with her. I wasn’t going to let her slip out of my life again.
“And, that’s it. Next class will be a quiz on what we covered over the past two weeks. Be ready,” the professor said before turning her attention to me. “Mr. Rucker, can I see you a moment?”
I wasn’t expecting that. Worst still, Quin was seated on the opposite side of the room which had a different exit. She wasn’t looking my way and she would be gone before I could ask her to wait for me.
“Mr. Rucker,” the grey-haired, Asian woman called again.
“Coming,” I told her keeping an eye on Quin as she approached the door.
Quickly swimming upstream past the flood of people, I approached the professor as she erased the board. She was taking her time with it and it was killing me. When Quin disappeared, my heart sank. She was gone again and I felt like crap.
“Coming in five minutes before the end of class isn’t considered attending. At least not in my book.”
“I know. And I’m really sorry about that. I ran over from practice. But I promise I won’t be late again.”
“I’m told you need to pass this class to remain eligible to play next semester.”
“That’s correct, Ma’am.”
“Then I would think you would take this class a little more seriously.”
“And I promise, I will… moving forward.”
“If you don’t want to be here…”
“I do want to be here.”
“Why?” She asked sincerely.
“Because it’s a subject I’m really interested in. Teaching kids is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
“What about football? I hear you have a promising professional career.”
“Football is what I’m good at. It’s a blessing. But it’s not…”
I didn’t finish the sentence. That was a box I didn’t want to open right now.
“Well, if you are serious about this class, you’re going to have a lot of catching up to do.”
“I realize that, and I’m willing to work. I’m getting a tutor.”
“Yes, Ma’am. In fact…” I said suddenly getting an idea. “Could we pick this up next class? I promise I’ll be on time for it.”
“You better be. Remember, attendance is mandatory.”
“I got it. I’m on it. I’ll be here. Promise,” I said clomping my cleats on the carpet as I trotted to the door.
As soon as I was in the hall, I scanned both directions looking for her. She wasn’t there. Where had she gone so quickly?
Most of the students were entering the stairwell headed downstairs. I jogged over and joined them. Craning my neck, I couldn’t see her. I was about to hate myself for not leaving sooner when I saw the back of someone who could only be Quin exiting the stairwell onto the main floor.
“Excuse me. Excuse me,” I said squeezing past everyone.
It only got me down a few seconds sooner and by the time I was there, she was again nowhere to be seen.
Looking into every classroom as I ran past them, I didn’t see her. I was about to give up hope when I popped open the door to the building and spotted her sexy frame walking away. Warmth washed across me. It felt like a spot of sunshine on a cloudy day.
Jogging towards her, I slowed when I was a few feet away. I couldn’t lose my cool just because I was about to talk to the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I had to at least pretend like kissing her wasn’t the only thing I could think about since the moment we met.
“Quin?” I said trying to be as casual as I could.
She stopped and turned around. She did not look as happy to see me as I was to see her. It triggered a twinge in my chest but I pushed past it.
“I thought that was you. How have you been? Hit up any big parties since I saw you last?” I said with a smile.
When she didn’t reply, I said, “Cage. Cage Rucker. We met at the Sigma Chi party.”
“I remember,” she said coldly. Ouch! There was that twinge of pain again. “How’s Tasha? That was your girlfriend’s name, right?”
“Tasha? Oh, yeah. She’s good. She’s fine. Ah, did I do something to piss you off? If I did, I’m sorry,” I said desperately wanting to see her smile.
Quin stared at me with a look of frustration and then relented.
“No. You didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t mind me. I just had a rough night.”
“Didn’t sleep well?”
“Something like that. Or, maybe I’m just being stupid. I don’t know.”
“You? Being stupid? I find that hard to believe,” I said with a smile.
She stared at me again. This time she looked like she was searching my soul.
“Why would you say that?”
“I don’t know. I guess you strike me as being someone really smart.”
She softened the intensity of her gaze.
“I’m not smart about anything that matters,” she said before continuing her walk.
I caught up to her.
“I don’t think that’s true. In fact, I’ll bet you’re pretty smart at Intro to Childhood Education. I bet you’re at the top of the class.”
Quin looked at me when I said that.
“You are, aren’t you?”
Quin looked away.
“I’ll be damned. Okay. Then that will make the next thing I say less awkward. It turns out that I need this class to stay eligible for football and ultimately, the NFL draft. And, since I haven’t been attending classes, I’m a little behind. I kind of need a tutor. The football program is willing to pay you for your time.”
“I can’t tutor you,” she said dismissively.
“I just can’t. Sorry.”
“Okay. Then how about if I make the pot a little sweeter?”
“What do you mean?”
“When we were at the party you said that you weren’t good at being social, which I don’t understand because you seemed perfectly comfortable with it.”
“I was only comfortable because…”
“Because of what?” I asked hoping she would say, because of me.
“Well, if you’re willing to tutor me in what you’re good at, I can tutor you on what I’m good at.”
“You mean being a football star that everyone wants a piece of.”
“First of all, ouch. Second of all, there’s a little more to me than that.”
“I know. I’m sorry. See, I’m not good at this,” Quin exclaimed.
I took her hand as casually as I could. I tried to pretend like this was just something I did when I talked to people, but the truth was I had been dying to hold it.
“You are good at this. At least, you can be. Let me help you. I know I can help you with this. And once you’re done, you’ll be a star football player who everyone wants a piece of like I am,” I said with a smirk.
Quin laughed. I tingled so much I thought my teeth would fall out.
“So, what do you say?”
Quin stared at me considering it. As she did something weird happened. It felt like her eyes gained depth and then pierced through me.
It felt like she was searching my soul. As she did, something in me lit up. I can’t explain what was going on.
Was she feeling it too? What was she doing to me? What was going on between us? Whatever it was it took my breath away.
When she finally relaxed her gaze, I inhaled desperately. Pulling her hand from mine, she wasn’t subtle about it. My mind was still swirling but I think she was trying to send a message about boundaries. Fair enough, I could respect that.
“Okay,” Quin said with wonder in her eyes.
“Okay?” I repeated still gathering myself.
“Okay,” she confirmed with a growing smile.
“I hear there’s a quiz in the next couple of days,” I said regaining my footing.
“It’s in two days and it covers two weeks of material.”
“That sounds like a lot.”
“It is,” she confirmed.
“It sounds like your tutoring should start right away,” I suggested suddenly wanting to spend every waking moment with her.
“How about tonight? I’ll set up a lesson plan and we’ll go from there.”
“A lesson plan? You don’t play around.”
“I don’t. You can’t either if you want to pass the quiz.”
Quin hesitated. “And you don’t have any plans with your girlfriend or anything, do you?”
Being reminded of Tasha was a bucket of cold water on my runaway excitement about spending the night with Quin. My smile diminished.
“Even if I had something, I would cancel it. Passing the class and playing football comes first. She would understand.”
“Okay. Then I’ll see you tonight.”
“Should I get your number?” I asked her not missing the opportunity.
“Yes. Give me your phone.”
I handed it to her and she typed it in. A second later I heard a phone ring in her backpack.
“You know where I live. I’ll text you the time and my room number,” Quin said professionally.
“So we’ll be doing this at your place?”
“Unless you have somewhere better. I guess we could go to a library but I don’t know how much talking they’ll allow.”
“No, your place is great. I look forward to it.”
“You look forward to studying?” She asked reminding me that this wasn’t a date.
“Of course. Intro to Childhood Education is what I live for. Ask anybody.”
Quin laughed. It melted my heart.
“See you then, Dimples,” she said with a smile before turning and walking off. Man, was I in trouble.
‘See you then, Dimples?’ Did I actually say that? What was I thinking? What was I thinking agreeing to any of this?
To say that the night before had been rough was the understatement of the year. I was trapped helpless in my wolf’s body for hours. It didn’t end until we both feel asleep.
In the morning, I wasn’t covered in blood and I hadn’t woken up in an unfamiliar location. I was in my room on my bed. Yeah, the door was thoroughly gouged from its claws. But it hadn’t been opened, but it was clear how close my wolf had come to getting out.
If it had given one more attempt, it would have done it. It would have freed itself and who knows what would have happened after that. But, it didn’t. It hadn’t even made that final attempt.
More than that, all morning I couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t completely gone. It felt like she was lingering over my shoulder watching everything I did. It was her who told me that Lou had left in the middle of the night. She could even tell me the time she did it. I didn’t know how, but my wolf knew.
Seeing Cage when he entered the classroom, it felt like her ears perked up. She seemed to like Cage even more than I did.
I wasn’t a slave to her desires, though. And I was the one who had been introduced to his girlfriend, not her. So, there was no way I was going there, especially considering what he and his girlfriend had brought out in me.
I was willing to walk away from Cage and never see him again. Then he chased me down, and made that offer. The reason I said yes, had nothing to do with what my wolf wanted. It also didn’t have to do with that weird connection I felt with him staring into his eyes.
I accepted his proposal because Harlequin Toro had come to the middle of nowhere Tennessee for one purpose, to figure out how to have a life. Sure, I couldn’t have one with Cage. But, as I walked through the party with him was the most relaxed I had felt in a social situation in my life.
I needed to know how to feel that on my own. And, when I was looking into his eyes, something told me that he could bring it out of me. How did I know that? I don’t know. But I was sure of it.
Could it have been my wolf playing with my mind for its own nefarious purpose? That was always a possibility — I had only just met her. She was something I only heard stories about before. — But, I didn’t think so. There was something more going on with Cage. I couldn’t begin to guess what it was.
Whatever it was, it was drawing me to him. It wasn’t just how hot he was. — Don’t think I suddenly got over that. He was still a gorgeous god. — But… I don’t know.
There was more there that I couldn’t put my finger on. It was telling me to accept his offer. And, once I did, my wolf went wild. Not in a way that felt dangerous. In way that made me smile.
“Lou, you’re back?” I said reentering our apartment and finding her looking frazzled.
“Should I not be?”
She was seated at our dinner table terrified but trying to look brave. Sadness washed over me as I witness how much I had freaked her out. For the first time I had witnesses what my wolf sounded like when she was trying to get to someone. It was horrifying.
If I were the one who had listened to the scratching on the door as the beast tried to get to me, I probably would never have returned. Yet, here she was. Why was she back? Why would anyone return after seeing that part of me?
“No, you should be back. This is where you live… Should I leave?” I asked realizing that she might only have returned to stake her claim on the place.
“Should you leave?”
“I don’t know. Should I leave?”
“Okay, I don’t think we’re getting anywhere here,” she said handling this a hell of a lot better than I might have. “Look I know you told me about your condition. But, you said that you hadn’t had an episode it years. You said it had passed.”
“I thought it had,” I said easing myself into a chair facing hers.
“Then, what was that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did it happen because of the full moon?”
I heard my wolf growl at the suggestion. “No!” I snapped. As soon as I said it, my mind wandered. “At least, I don’t think so.”
“Well, you’ve been living here for months and that wasn’t the first full moon.”
“It wasn’t. Was it?”
“Then, what was the difference this time?” Lou asked as if she were concerned about me instead of her own safety.
I thought about her question. What had been the difference? I couldn’t be sure, but I had an idea. I pulled my phone out of my bag and found the picture from last night. I placed it on the table between us.
“Who’s the guy?”
“His name is Cage. I met him at the party I went to.”
“Why do you look so… devastated?”
“Because his girlfriend took the picture.”
Lou’s eyes bounced up meeting mine.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Quin. I did this, didn’t I? I manipulated you into going to that party and you ended up getting your heart broken and… relapsing.”
“None of this was your fault. And, even if it was, nothing happened. No one was hurt.”
“But, someone was hurt, Quin. You.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. I wanted to deny it but it was true. Was that why I shifted? Did she come out to protect me? And, if she did, what would she have done once freed? I didn’t want to think about it.
“You can’t be here tonight?”
Lou’s fingertips pressed into the glass with fright. “Is it gonna happen again?”
“No! At least, I don’t think. No. I have someone coming over.”
Lou’s mouth dropped open in confusion.
“It’s just to study. I’m tutoring him in a class we’re both in.”
“You have a class with him?”
“Apparently. Today was the first time he showed up. He was wearing his football gear,” I said unable to stop the smile that was creeping across my face.
“You mean the very tight ones that football players wear.”
“Ah-uh,” I said feeling my face heat up.
“Oh! He’s not just coming over to study, is he?”
“No, he is,” I said bringing things back down to earth. “He needs to pass the class to play football next semester, and he asked me to tutor him.”
“So, you’re holding his life in your powerful, yet delicate hands?”
I looked down at my hands wondering what she meant.
“I mean, not really. But, kind of.”
“Oh my god, you two are so gonna make out.”
“What? No, we’re not.” Even as I said it, I felt my wolf run with excitement. “No! He has a girlfriend,” I said making it clear to everyone listening.
“Maybe he wants you to join the two of them.”
“Ah, no,” I said firmly.
“So, we’re gonna have to break the two of them up?” Lou asked with the devilish look returning to her eyes.
“No, we’re not!”
“You’re not going to eat her, are you?” She asked hesitantly.
“No! Just no, to all of it. If she is who he wants to be with, then… fine. I’m okay with that.”
“How much did that hurt to say?” she said suddenly looking at me with sympathy.
I took a moment and allowed my words to settle in. “A lot. But, it will have to be true. I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me.”
“You’re a better person than I am,” Lou said giving up.
“I don’t know about better, but I am a lot more alone.”
“Ahhh!” Lou said staring at me with heart-felt empathy. After a moment, Lou got up, circled the table and hugged me. With her arms still wrapped around me, she said, “This boy is going to be the death of us all, isn’t he?”
“Well, when whatever that was last night is tearing me apart, just promise me one thing,” Lou asked casually.
“Not the face, Buttercup. Not the face.”
I laughed feeling much better.
I can do this. I can spend a little time with Quin, not fall head over heels for her, and not blow up my entire life to be with her. I’m sure I can. Although, the closer our meeting time got, the clearer it became that I wasn’t going to have a say in the matter.
How is it that every guy doesn’t see what I see in her and snap her up? I don’t understand it. The girl is gorgeous and awkwardly adorable. I could push my fingers through her dark, wavy hair until I was lost in it.
Oh, and her eyes. Don’t get me started on her eyes, those soulful, electric eyes. Just thinking about them makes me so hard. How is she able to do this to me?
It’s like… what is that thing that animals release to attract a mate? Pheromones? It’s like she’s releasing pheromones and there is nothing I can do to resist it.
I really shouldn’t have asked her to tutor me. She was probably the last person I should have asked. How will I be able to concentrate with her in arms reach of me? It was such a mistake. But, I can’t wait. And time has never moved slower in my life.
I waited at The Common for our meeting time instead of driving home and driving back. Staying with Tasha might have also been an option considering she lived on the floor above Quin’s. But odds were that Tasha was hanging out with Vi.
The two of them were inseparable. It was no wonder Tasha suggested Vi join us for sex. They did everything else together. Why not that?
Once the painfully long wait for me to head over had passed, I hurried across the quad. Slipping into the building as someone exited, I ran up the stairs two at a time and knocked on her door. I heard some scrambling inside before an unfamiliar voice said, “I just want to see,” and the door opened.
“Hello,” I said to the puckish-looking girl standing in front of me.
“Lou. Nice to meet you,” she said neither offering me her hand nor inviting me in.
“The football star?” Lou said with a smile.
“I guess. Is Quin here?”
“She is. But first, two questions. What intentions do you have with my friend? And, would you consider yourself a dog or a cat person?”
“Lou!” Quin yelled from behind her. Pushing past Lou and placing her body between the two of us, Quin said, “I’m sorry about that. She was just leaving.”
Quin’s body was so close to mine.
“That’s Okay. Lou, I would invite you to stay and hang out, but we have two weeks of classwork to go over… Unless Quin thinks we could do both?”
“We can’t do both and Lou was just leaving. Bye, Lou.”
“Toodles,” Lou said pushing past me allowing Quin to invite me in.
“I’m sorry about that. Lou means well.”
“It’s always good to have a friend who’ll look out for you.”
“It is. So, welcome to my room.”
I looked around. “Is this how the other half live?”
“What do you mean?”
“The Plaza dorms are pretty fancy.”
“Doesn’t your girlfriend live in here, too?”
“Yeah, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Besides, she has two roommates and has to share a bedroom. Your place is better decorated than my house.”
“You live at the fraternity?”
“No. I’m not a member. I know, a football player who doesn’t belong to Sigma Chi, unthinkable. But, fraternity life was a little outside my price range.”
“Where do you live?” Quin asked ushering me to the couch in their living room.
“At home with my dad.”
“Not your mom?” Quin asked gathering books and sitting next to me.
“My mom died when I was born.”
Quin froze. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“No need to be sorry. It happened a long time ago.”
“So, it’s always just been you and your dad.”
“Yep. And sometimes just me.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothin’. We should get to studying. I have a feeling there’s a lot we have to cover,” I said changing the topic.
Although I never knew my mother, the topic was still a sore spot for me. Mostly because of my dad. He would never say it, but I think her loss hit him hard. At least, that was my guess.
Quin started by showing me the most organized flow chart I had ever seen in my life.
“Here’s what we’re going to have to cover by Thursday,” she said getting right to business.
Her assertiveness was almost enough to distract me from her knee hovering inches from mine as it supported the textbook. Or, the whiff I got when she leaned over to point out something on an opposite page. Her sweet scent kept making my dick hard. Bending forward was all I could do to hide it.
“You keep leaning forward, is your back okay?”
“My back? Yes. That’s why I keep bending over, because of my back. I need to keep it stretched. You know because of practice.”
“If you want, we can move to the dining room table? The chairs have a little more support,” Quin suggested sweetly.
“Yeah, maybe that would be best.”
I was about to get up when I realized I was still massively hard.
“Um, maybe in a second.”
“Your back’s really hurting, huh?”
“Yeah, it’s hurting really bad.”
“I’m so sorry. I wish you would have said something sooner. This might sound weird, but I can give you a massage if you’d like. I taught myself a few years back. I haven’t had many opportunities to practice, but I think I’m still pretty good.”
“I’m sorry, is that weird? Offering to give you a massage is weird, isn’t it?” Quin said wilting before my eyes.
“No, it’s not weird at all. I’d love to have one. It would really help… my back.”
“You don’t know how much,” I said with a smile.
Quin looked around. “My bed would probably be more comfortable.”
There was no way I was going to be able to get up now.
“I think the couch will be fine.”
Quin got up and began stretching her fingers.
“Undress to your level of comfort and lie down.”
Heat flashed across my cheeks. Did she just tell me to undress to my level of comfort? The idea of getting naked for her made me so hard my cock started twitching. Only God knew what would happen if I were to take off my pants. There was no way I could do that. But, I could take off my shirt.
Slowly pulling it off, I peeked up at Quin. The way she stared did all sorts of things to me. I was going to have to think of a lot of baseball if I wasn’t going to cum in my shorts as soon as she touched me. It was worth the risk, though. I needed her hands on me. And when I lied down and she got on top of me, I was in heaven.
With her pulling and kneading my muscles, I lost myself. Jesus, did this feel good. It was better than sex, at least, any sex I had ever had. And it didn’t take long before, I felt a familiar gnawing start at my balls and slowly climb.
Oh god, I was cumming.
“I need to go to the bathroom,” I said tossing the small girl onto the couch.
Luckily I knew where it was and it was open. Throwing the door closed behind me, I could barely get my pants down fast enough before I exploded into orgasm.
I groaned fighting myself from screaming with pleasure. I managed to catch most of it in my palm instead of spraying it onto the ceiling. But with it came lightheadedness that tossed me to my ass. I hit the ground with a thud.
“Are you alright in there?” I asked hearing what sounded like the towel rack break and then someone falling to the floor.
“I’m fine,” Cage shouted back. “But, I think something broke. Sorry about that.”
“Don’t worry about it, whatever it is. Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yeah. I just need a second.”
What the hell was I doing? This wasn’t me. I didn’t offer to give guys massages. I didn’t ask them to undress for me. It was just that there was a smell coming from him I could barely resist. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it made me think of sex.
But, sitting on top of him had clearly freaked him out. I know it did. That’s why he threw me off of him and sprinted to the bathroom like his hair was on fire.
It had to be her who was doing this to me. It was my wolf taking over again. But, at least that was better than shifting and ripping his throat out. I was making progress. And, it wasn’t that weird to offer a massage if someone said their back was hurting, was it?
Agh! I don’t know. I don’t know anything. Why am I so bad at this? Maybe it would be better if I let my wolf do whatever was on her mind. It couldn’t end in a disaster worse than the one I had already created.
“Are you sure you don’t need any help in there?”
“I have everything in hand,” Cage said before turning on the faucet and eventually coming out.
Damn, did he look good standing there with his shirt off. His muscular, bulging shoulders, his thick pecs, his abs. How did he have abs without flexing? He was just standing there. How?
Staring at me with the most heart-melting puppy dog eyes, he said, “Sorry about that?”
“No, I’m sorry,” I told him feeling bad for crossing the line.
“Why should you feel sorry,” he asked me as if he didn’t know.
“You know, because…”
“…Because you were willing to tutor me in a subject I need to pass to have any sort of life, and I made things weird?”
“You made things weird? I’m the queen of making things weird.”
“You might be the queen of something, but this is on me. Look, why don’t we get back to studying.”
“How’s your back?”
“It’s much better now, thank you,” he said grabbing his shirt and putting it on. “That helped a lot. I can focus now. I’m also a little sleepy but, I can definitely focus.”
Continuing from where we left off, I did my best to quiet the impulses coming from my very happy wolf. She loved being around Cage. I couldn’t blame her. I did too.
But thankfully, even though we had a lot of material to cover, we covered a healthy chunk of it by the time Lou came back.
“Still at it? You two are like a dog with a bone, aren’t you?” Lou said playfully.
Cage stared at Lou uncomfortably.
“Yeah, I should go.”
“Don’t let me stop you,” Lou said. “You won’t even know I’m here.”
“Or, we could just go to my room,” I suggested.
“No!” he said abruptly. “I mean, maybe we can pick it back up tomorrow. There are a lot of things swirling around up here and I need to process it all,” he said circling his hands around his head.
“Oh, yeah. Sleeping helps you retain information. Tomorrow, then. If you want to start earlier, my last class ends at four.”
“That sounds great. How about we meet at the study hall next time? That way we don’t disturb Lou.”
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about me. You two can do it wherever you’d like,” Lou added as she stood watching the two of us.
“Yes, we could study here,” I confirmed not sure I was ready to sit in public where anyone walking by could recognize me.
Cage fumbled his words. “I think study hall would be better. I mean, if it’s okay with you.”
I was disappointed that I had screwed things up so badly that he didn’t want to come back to my room, but I understood. I had done this and now I was going to have to deal with the repercussions.