chapter one;-

'Why are you up?'

I'm not going to lie to you, the deep voice scared the shit of me, so much so that my heart still hammered in my chest for a couple of minutes after he stepped into the dim light of the kitchen out of the dark doorway, padding over to the fridge and pulling open the door, leaning slightly so the orange light could glance off the contoured plain of his back as he searched through the heavily stacked shelves. How long had he been standing there, staring at me? An hour? Half an hour? More? I felt my heartbeat settle in my chest as my fingers twisted each other and my hands got clammy, my eyes darting to the chequered cloth covering the table.

'I was just thinking...'

One thing I learnt about Sebastian pretty early on is that you have to be double careful about the things you say and do around him, he has a quick and nasty temper which he never ever really has under control, no matter who it is and what they said. If he doesn't like it you know about it and you never do it again.

'What're you wearing?'

My blood literally ran cold. They say it in books and movies all the time, but it's like drinking a chilled soda on a warm summer day when you can feel it trickle down your throat and into your chest, my heart felt chilled and everything seized. Matt's aviator jacket. He offered it to me while I walked home from the study session earlier, the snow started up again and even though my house is only a couple doors from his he said I might catch a cold and then who would be his lab partner? I thought I took it off when I got in the door. Sebastian straightened, his mouth fixed round the opening in the milk carton, his eyes fixing on the fur lined denim with feral intentions.

'Do we have any more milk?'

One navy blue orb fixed on my face, a trickle of milk escaping from his mouth and running down one chiselled cheek before he rubbed it off with a paw like hand, licking the skin afterwards. His fist crushed the empty carton as he threw it towards the trash. Was there more milk? If there wasn't was there any bread? Why didn't he think about these things before he did something like drink a whole litre of milk? I shook off the thoughts, trying to suppress a shudder as both his eyes fixed on me.

He pushed the door closed, almost falling over to where I was sat on the rickety three-legged chair dad picked up in a jumble sale somewhere. I traced the pattern in the back with my fingers, trying to concentrate on anything else but his looming body. He pressed his face into my neck, the tip of his nose cold against my skin and for more than a minute I swear I didn't breathe, I forgot how to, my lungs withered from being so close to him. He pushed his face further into me, inhaling deeply. He could sense my fear and feel my increased heartbeat as he slid down to the collar of the jacket, his large shoulder keeping me pressed to the chair and unable to move away. He stilled there for seconds, his whole back tensing as he fought to keep his temper under control. He promised me he would try to stop being so violent after he broke Brady's arm when he brushed past me. Key word being try.

'Take it off.'

After a second of silence I scrambled with the zipper, tearing it from my bare shoulders and shimmying out of it, laying it in the nearest chair and watching goose flesh rise on my bare arms. Clad in only a tank it was chilly at best. I try not to be scared of him. Really, I do. He walks round the house all hours of the day acting like he owns it, he thinks the sun shines out of his ass just because he's Beta and has an abnormally big frame. The only person he has any respect for is dad and that's only because he's Alpha-.

My internal rant was ended as the web of skin between the thumb and forefinger on his left hand jammed itself into my mouth, which I bit down on out of instinct. The ring on his forefinger pinched my lip against my teeth painfully and eventually clacked against my pearly whites as I started to struggle. Any screams were muted by his hand.

'Ssshh. . . just bite down on that for a minute or so. Stop panicking, it's just me.'

I rolled my eyes round the room wildly, where's dad? Couldn't he hear my leg thumping on the table leg, I was surprised the erratic beat of my heart against my chest hadn't woken half the town up it was so loud. It was fruitless, though, my struggling would only go so far before my muscle started to burn and he was so much stronger than me anyway. It was my own fault for wearing something belonging to another guy, I should have just frozen my ass off and paid the price of a day off school. I pressed my lids together and bit on the flesh, to stop my jaw from shaking more than anything. His tongue traced the original patch of silvery skin on my neck and I felt his teeth scrape over it carefully. Terror shot through my skin like one million pin pricks, making me shudder and therefore egging him on.

Then he bit me. It hurt every bit as much as it did the first time he bit me, intense pain fled through me like a wildfire the pinpricks intensifying and overwhelming like a wave, frozen and burning at the same time, swelling and swelling until I was completely consumed. I couldn't even feel my neck, my arms, my legs, I was just a ball of pain. It hurt too much to cry, to call out, my jaw was locked round the bronze skin in my mouth, the only thing holding me to the world and to reality. In that moment, I hated him more than I thought it possible to hate anyone. I hated him more than Hitler, more than white slavers, more than terrorists or people who abuse animals. It wasn't on par with anything except the pain. Sebastian Cole was the last thing I thought rationally before I slipped into a deep, dark unconsciousness which wrapped me up and carried me away from the heat into a fitful sleep.


I see skies of blue, clouds of white,

'Hey. . . hello, sweetheart.'

A warm palm ran through my hair and I pushed my head into it as it cradled me off the pillow. Warm, firm, comforting. This was Sebastian in his caring mood, in his 'I'm going to look after you' mood. My neck throbbed warmly but not painfully and I could feel the bandage wrapped round my neck, the faint smell of antiseptic touching my nose.

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people passing by,

'How are you feeling, baby?'

Dreaming? Dead? I didn't really care. His other hand wound round mine, our fingers interlacing and I cracked my eyes open bracing against the harsh morning light and immediately I found his lighter, ocean blue eyes sparkling down at me. A small smile pulled up the side of his plump lips as he saw my eyes open and I watched him lean down from the chair he'd pulled up to the bed and took in his bed head, the sheet falling off his lap and the slight bags under his eyes as the warm lips touched my forehead. My peace was shattered though as I looked over at the digital clock just beside Sebastian on my messy side table. 11.32.

'Oh my god...Sebastian why didn't you wake me?!'

I was late. I threw my legs over the edge of the mattress only to be hit with a wave of dizziness. Hands pushed my shoulders back into bed gently but firmly, pushing my head onto the pillow and away from the glaringly late time on the clock. He went to school when he wanted, showed up when he felt like it but I have a perfect attendance to uphold if I wanted to get into college and he was ruining it.

'Hey, calm down. You can't move too quickly right now, okay? Your dad said he'd come and check up on you at lunch after you ate something if you still wanted to go back for the last couple of periods. We already rang in to say you were sick. They're not going to kill you for being under the weather, pup.'

I shot him my best glare, which he laughed off with a ruffle of my already messed hair.

'I still need breakfast, Sebastian, and a shower.'

'I showered you last night before I dressed your neck, you'll be okay until tomorrow.'

Not happy, I wrinkled my nose at the thought of him showering my unconscious body and not having another wash until the day after. He planted another chaste kiss on the end of my nose, pushing a plate of fresh fruit and pancakes in front of me and wriggling onto the bed next to me, pulling me into his morning-warm body. I looked at the glistening food and felt somehow nostalgic; when I was a little girl he used to bring me breakfast in bed, wriggle into bed next to me and feed me. There's footage from when I was a baby of him sitting for hours with huge bags under his eyes trying to feed me breakfast.

'I got you something.'

I pushed a strawberry into my mouth, sucking off the syrup and looking up at him questioningly. I guess he really was guilty about what'd happened the night before. Giving him his due, he'd grown up from the angsty teen he used to be to someone who I could almost believe cared about me. Sometimes.

'Really? A surprise present?'

He grinned, bearing his slightly elongated canines which glinted in the light and nuzzled his face into my hair. Sebastian has a thing about my hair, he moans whenever I put it in a bun because he can't feel it then, but he's picky if I let it fall over his mark. There are girls with thicker, longer, darker, glossier hair than me but he still insists that my lank dark hazel mop is one of his favourite things about me.

'A surprise present for my favourite girl. It's downstairs though, on the kitchen table-'

'BRO! Collins said that I could have the day off too, ain't that the best?'

Brady Cole, Sebastian's younger brother bounced into my bedroom, throwing open the door in his excitement. Sebastian growled, tucking me under his broad frame and bearing his canines in a warning at his brother. That's the thing about Sebastian; he's protective as hell. If I were naked I would understand but clad in a pyjama set which Brady bought for me it seemed a little extreme. Brady eyed me, then his feral brother and his grin stuttered slightly before turning into a knowing wink as he backed out of my bedroom.

'...I'll just leave the two of you to it, shall I?'

I tired to grab Sebastian before he leapt after his brother but only succeeded in knocking over the breakfast and sending treacle all over my hardwood floor. I heard Brady slam the front door and Sebastian barrel through it after him and into the woods next to the house and rolled my eyes, rubbing my temples and watched the birds fly disturbed into the sky. My hand touched the bandage and I jerked as a small pulse of pain spread through me.

'Hey...Sebby told me what happened. I hope you're like okay. He was really ripped up about it, I was up all night with him.'

Tina. Tina Reeves. Sebastian's ex and distinguished pack member. She pushed herself against the doorway with a smirk pulling at one of her heavily glossed lips. Everyone knew she hates me, it's common knowledge that the fact Sebastian left her for me rubbed her the wrong way for months. She left town for a little while, came back and threw herself at Sebastian. He dropped her on the school field and got mud all over her blonde locks.

'That's great, Tina.'

She sniffed and started to talk again as I wobbled to my feet, padding carefully over the mess on the floor and pulled an old college sweater over the tank before unbuttoning it and pulling it from under the sweater. Elaborate but I'm self conscious. The only other people who've seen me without any clothes on are my mom and dad, the pet dog and Sebastian.

And very nice it was too.

I asked him to stay out of my head, told him that it wasn't fair and we should have a two way trust thing going on, in which I would trust him to stay out of my head. Of course he took no notice and when I sleep he's in all of my dreams, either as a man or a wolf, whenever I went on holiday when I was a girl he was wrapped round my mind. When I was a little kid, I used to find it safe, especially because dad wouldn't let him sleep in my room when I was growing up and during thunderstorms he would lull my enough to let me sleep then hold me in my dreams. When I realised how violent he could get, how meek I could be in his shadow that feeling fled and so did he.

'Speak of the devil...here he comes. Probably heard that I dropped by.'

She disappeared from my doorway and I dropped the pyjama bottoms when I heard her squeal and rub herself against Sebastian and pulled on some joggers, rubbing a hand through my hair and tying it up into a small bun. I could hear them downstairs, the low timbre of my dad joining the rest of the pack and rolled my eyes, groaning gently. The pack. They're like twenty three older brothers, one older sister and five fathers – elders. And their wives.

Honestly? I didn't believe it first time I heard what my dad told me. When he gathered all his 'friends' together in our living room and told me he was a lycan and this was his pack I laughed in his face. When he told me that Sebastian Cole, the next door neighbour who followed me to my dad's town from my home in Georgia was an ageless werewolf who'd wanted me as a 'mate' since I came out of the womb. Then they changed. Dad first, then Sebastian then the rest. Mom assured me she was human, she held my hand as I watched my dad's bones break and his body warp until he was a wolf. Then the boy I trusted, cried on, slept beside, held in my arms more times than my mother did the same thing and the only thing that kept me from running and screaming were his deep blue eyes. The wolf had my Sebastian's eyes.

'Hey kid, how you feeling?'

'I was gonna come down and see you guys, dad.'

He smiled from my doorway, running a hand through his still dark brown hair. Weres don't age, they hit some-place around twenty one and they stop. But you know that, you've read all the romances and all the stories about people who turn into wolves. It's the common principle, apart from the silver. Sebastian wears a heavy silver ring and dad wears a heavy silver cross with no decaying skin in sight.

'Well how about breakfast? Besides, Sebastian's trying to peal Tina off him and I think he'd appreciate your help.'

I grinned and picked my way over to him, feeling his warm arms wrap round my body and let out a small smile. Things were looking up.

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