A/N: Welp, this is a bit of a bear chapter. Super long because I couldn't find the right stopping point. Anyway, enjoy this chapters, gems, and, as always, let me know what you think~


Cinnamon was everywhere—sweet, warm, calming.

How long had it been since I smelled something so good?

With a yawn, I rolled over, nuzzling my face deeper into the big pillow. The bed sank near my feet, and something lied down next to my arm, fur brushing my fingers.

A dog.

Faster than light, I shot up, staring at my surroundings.

Instead of my California King, I was in a soft, full-size bed. It had a real comforter on it as opposed to the white duvet I usually slept with, and a single body pillow. Next to the bed was a small nightstand, a picture of some man I'd never seen before holding the little wolf I had saved.

The rest of the room was bright and open. White walls made it seem bigger than what is was, accented by an entire wall made of nothing but windows, sunlight pouring in and nearly blinding me. The carpet seemed to be some beige color, but I couldn't tell very well because it was littered with dirty clothes, hoodies and sweats covering almost every inch of it. The only place saved of the mess was an oak desk on the opposite side of the room, except it still had scattered papers on it in patches.

The dog that had woken me up nudged my hand, and I looked at her.

She wasn't a dog at all. Actually, she was a white, purebred wolf, brown eyes staring at me expectantly.

I hesitated, unsure if the wolf really wanted my cold hand to touch her, before I rubbed the top of her head.

It seemed to be the right thing to do because the wolf leaned into the palm of my hand, closing its eyes. I grinned and scratch its ears as I gathered my thoughts.

The last thing I remembered was seeing Kyle. The idiot werewolf had somehow managed to find me in a dangerous spot and was bound and determined to push me. After that, everything was white. I had thought that I might have lost control, went on a rampage, but if that was the case, I would've woken up to Vulcan and Ceres in bed with me, worrying. Since I clearly wasn't even in my house, though…

Did Kyle actually bring me back to his house?

Wait wait wait wait wait.

The thought alone was laughable because come on. For all Kyle knew, I was a full-blooded vampire, no different from any other vampire. I was dangerous—wasn't that practically his catchphrase? "Aryn's too dangerous to be left alone?"—and unhinged to him. There was no reason for him to help me.

I ran a hand through my hair and noticed that it had been wrapped in fresh gauze, though the wound from the whip seemed to have healed already.

Did Kyle clean up my wounds!?

Oh, God. I was losing my mind. Except, now that I was focusing, I could feel the gauze on my chest that someone had wrapped around me to help the wounds on my back.

Wait... what was I wearing? These weren't the clothes I had on when I went out to hunt. The plain, grey short-sleeve was too big to be mine, the sleeves going to my elbows. Curious, I peeked under the comforter and saw that the jeans I had been wearing had somehow become ugly plaid sweatpants.

Now I was sure it wasn't Vulcan nor Ceres taking care of me. They would never put me in plaid of all things.

Which meant…

Jesus H. Christ: Kyle changed my clothes and nursed my wounds. What.

The sound of pots and pans slamming together had my head snapping up so fast, if I were human, I might have given myself whiplash.

Well, time to find out.

Carefully, quietly, I slipped out of bed, being sure to give the wolf one last scratch before stepping down the narrow hallway, passing several doors.

At the end, there was a large living room. Just like the bedroom I just came out of, the doors and windows were open, allowing in so much sunlight, my eyes were having problems adjusting. When I could finally see again, I noticed that the window wasn't opened as much as it was missing, an entire hole in the wall where the window should be.

Okay. That was strange.

Shaking my head, I looked at the room. A huge, deep blue couch was sitting in the middle of the floor, a reclining chair and loveseat of the same color on either side of it. The TV was sitting on shelves full of old books and encyclopedias, a blu-ray player and PlayStation 4 below it surrounded by several games. The low coffee table was nestled in between the couch and TV stand, cups and candles covering it. I could hear people talking and joking around outside, along with murmurs through the archway. The white wolf from earlier nudged me with her head again and walked through the opening.

I followed her, meeting more sunlight and two figures.

"Ryn!" someone shouted.

The little girl I had saved rammed into my legs, surprising me. "I'm so glad you're okay!" she said, relieved.

"Leave her alone, Scout," a stern voice reprimanded, breaking through the little wolfling's happiness.

The woman looked a lot like the little girl: same soft, rounded face, same dark hair, and same hazel eyes. The only difference was that the little girl had long hair that went past her mid-back, while the woman had short, cropped hair that was spiked.

She must be the wolfling's mother.

"She's been through a lot in the past twelve hours; we wouldn't want her collapsing on us again." The woman smiled apologetically at me.

I blinked, confused. I could smell the wolf in this woman, though it wasn't as pungent and repulsive as it usually was, so I knew the woman had to know what I was, yet she seemed genuinely glad to see me awake, just like her daughter.


"I'm Samantha, Scout's mother," she introduced. "You can call me Sam."

"Uh, yeah, I'm Aryn," I said, shifting my weight from one foot to another.

"Yes, Kyle has told us all about you," Sam informed me. "You're in his class, correct?"

"Er, yeah," I answered awkwardly. "How do you know Kyle…? If you don't mind me asking, of course."

She laughed. It was a light sound, delicate. "He's my son."

Wait. So. What?

"Son?" I parrotted. "So, Scout and Kyle are…"

"Brother and sister," Sam confirmed.

I blinked again.

I saved Kyle's sister? Is that why he was miraculously there yesterday? It made sense. More sense than him just randomly stumbling onto the street I was dying on. It also explained why he would bring me to his house. It didn't exactly explain why the Alpha would let me stay, but…

Sam was smiling at my confusion, and I tilted my head. "What?"

She shook her head. "You're just nothing like I expected, is all."

"Is that… a good thing?" I asked despite myself.

"In some ways, yes," Sam said.

"In others?"

She just smiled.


"Hey, Sam, how's the—" a gruff, deep voice interrupted us, heavy footsteps stopping in their tracks.

I looked behind me and met a pair of wide, grey eyes. Despite the fact that he was almost three times as big as me, the werewolf looked uneasy at seeing me standing in front of Sam.

"How… How're you feelin'?" he asked finally, eyeing me.

"Fine," I answered, watching him. I could hear his heart beating fast, terrified.

"She won't bite, Sydney," Sam said, shaking her head. "And it's strange to be so wary of her after treating her."

"Well, she wasn't conscious then," he reasoned but sighed. "Sorry 'bout that. It's just not often that we get company like… like you, and I don't know how to react."

"Just act normal," Sam said, rolling her eyes. "Otherwise, you'll make the poor girl feel awkward."

"She's not a girl, Sammy, she's a—"

"Uncle Sydney!" The little wolfling, Scout, scolded the hulking older man. "You shouldn't talk about Ryn like that!"

"It's fine," I tried to assure her. "Really. I get it. I would be confused if I were him too. Thanks for taking up for me, though." I ruffled Scout's hair. "At any rate, I should get going. I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable by being here, and my—"

Sam shot me a look, and I closed my mouth automatically.

"I don't think so," Sam said scoldingly. "You're going to stay here for dinner at least. The entire Pack is here for a meeting, so it's the perfect time to get to know them. Besides, Kyle wants to see you before you go."

Kyle wanted to see me?

Sydney cleared his throat. "Will ya, uh, be okay in the sun?" he asked.

I nodded. "The sun doesn't bother me."

He eyed me. "How come?"

I shrugged, like I didn't know why but it wasn't that big of a deal. They may have saved me, but that didn't mean they needed my whole life story.

"Maybe instead of grilling her, you should introduce yourself," Sam suggested, picking up a pot almost as big as her full of macaroni and cheese.

Sydney rubbed his neck awkwardly and cleared his throat again. "Right. Sorry." He straightened up and held out a hand. "Name's Sydney Quinn. I'm the Alpha's brother and the Pack doctor."

"I'm Aryn," I said, taking his hand carefully.

He kept his face surprisingly straight at the touch of my hand, and I wondered idly if my skin was somehow warmer than usual or if everyone was just mentally prepared for it.

"Ya go to Arlen University with Kyle, right?" he checked.

I nodded. "We have Organic Chem together."

"Ah," he said, nodding his head as well.

The awkward silence stretched on, nearly making me shift my feet, but then Sydney sighed and shook himself before looking up at me, determined. "Listen, I know that this is, uh, late since I should've said this as soon as I walked in, but I just wanna tell ya that I heard ya took an electrical whip for Scout, and there aren't enough ways for me to say thank you for that."

I held up my hands. "It was nothing," I said quickly, hoping to stop the unnecessary gratitude. "I did it because I didn't like that a man was picking on a little girl, just like anyone would've done. That's all."

Sydney stared at me like I had grown a second head, and Sam chuckled.

"Yes, well, let's go meet everyone else, shall we?" Sam said, saving me from more awkward silence, and headed towards the opened screen door. "Everyone's been dying to meet Scout's savior."

"Uh, sure," I muttered. I didn't know how I felt about meeting more werewolves, but by the look on Sam's face, I didn't really have a choice. Besides, these people had been nursing me all night; hanging out with them for a few hours couldn't hurt.

Scout grabbed my hand, smiling up at me. "Come and meet my dad, Ryn," she said enthusiastically.

"Dad?" I choked out. Like, the alpha? Of werewolves?

Sam sent me an encouraging smile. "He's wanted to talk to you since last night."

"Great," I muttered, uncomfortable again.

Sam chuckled, heading out the door. Scout's grip on my hand tightened a little as she dragged me outside.

The sunlight did hurt my eyes a bit since it was the first time I had been outside that day, but they were always more sensitive in the morning. As the day went on, they would adjust, the main problem was that the sun was beaming down at on the front yard, directly in my eyes—it was a solid minute before I could finally see again.

Even though I kind of wished I couldn't.

At least thirty-five pairs of eyes were staring at me. Gaping, really. They didn't exactly look hateful, and they sure as hell didn't look as confused as I felt, but they were still staring—some with opened mouths, others with wide eyes. I couldn't help but notice that most of the wolves around me were men. Out of all of them, there were only six or seven women in the group, and most of them were huddled together.

I wonder why… I stared at them but shook my head. First thing first.

Sam walked over to a guy who looked impossibly bigger than Sydney. He was taller, with more definition in his arms—the thin, light t-shirt doing nothing to hide the muscles in his arms and back—and his jaw was hard and sharp. The dark tan of his skin really brought out the lightness of his hair, and I couldn't help but notice how similar it looked to Kyle's.

The Alpha. Wonderful.

Sam and the Alpha exchanged a few words before he turned to look at me, eyes piercing.

He really looked like Kyle, actually. Everything from the color of his hair, the set of his jaw, and the straight nose was Kyle. In fact, if it wasn't for the visible scars or the wrinkles threatening the corner of his eyes and mouth, I would swear that this man was Kyle's twin or something.

Scout tugged on my hand, pulling me from my thoughts, and moved towards the Alpha. When they were within arm's reach, she let go of my hand and ran to her mom, who had struck up a conversation with Sydney like nothing was happening.

I stood stiffly in the middle of everyone's gaze. Unlike Sam, who had greeted me with warmth, the Alpha was staring at me with hard, calculating eyes. Which was expected to be honest, but it was harder to be polite when someone was glaring at you like scum. Ignoring the fact that my instincts should've been on the fritz in the first place, I didn't like people looking at me like that, like they already knew everything there was to know about me, and the urge to be just as aggressive as he was being was almost too hard to resist.

Almost. Except I reminded myself that if a werewolf suddenly saved me, my family would act the same way—if not worse—so I kept my temper in check and only gave into my stubbornness enough to stare back at him even though I knew I probably shouldn't.

"So, your name if Aryn, yes?" His voice was a deep rumble, powerful. I could already tell that I'd have my work cut out for me if I ever had to go head-to-head with him.

I nodded.

"And you were aware that Scout was a pup when you saved her?"

I was painfully aware that everyone was staring at us right now.

Another nod.

"Then why did you save her?"

"Wouldn't you?" I wondered.

When his eyes widened—just a fraction, not anything like the eyes of those around him—I suddenly understood the reason for Sam's smile earlier, the reason Sydney had looked at me like I had grown another head: they wouldn't have. If they had seen a fledgling being attacked, they wouldn't have stepped in.

They would let a kid die just because it was a vampire, so why was I saving a pup?

My blood boiled. I was so angry, the temperature around me dropped. "That is so ignorant," I hissed. Everyone around me tensed, all of the werewolves—with the exception of Sam, who nonchalantly continued putting steaks on the grill, and Scout, who tilted her head, not entirely sure what was going on—readying themselves for a fight, but I didn't care. These people needed to understand why they were so stupid, and I was going to say it even if I had to fight the entirety of the Quincy Pack single-handedly. "You would let a kid die because of what they are?" I scoffed. "Well, excuse me if I think kids deserve a chance to live no matter what they were born as. I get that that's a hard thing for you to grasp, since you know so much about us vampires and how heartless we are, but at least I would never let anyone die—be it a vampire or werewolf or human whatever—just because of what they are."

Everyone was staring again, distracted by the fact that there was ice forming on the ground despite the fact that it was hot enough to strip, but I didn't care anymore. Let them stare.

"No matter they were born as?" he repeated, snorting. "So, what happens if that kid, as you put so eloquently, comes to kill you later on. Are you saying that you wouldn't regret saving them?"

"Don't get confused, Alpha: if your daughter tries to hurt me or my family when she's older, I will end her without a second thought, just like I would end any creature that threatened us," I said evenly, "but I wouldn't regret saving her. I at least try not to punish people because of things they could do. Otherwise, I'd kill every living thing I've crossed paths with just for the small chance they'd attack us."

He was seething—I could tell by the way his jaw flexed—but I didn't care about that either.

"No one deserves to be judged just because of what they are," I said firmly. "But what do I know? I'm just a vampire, right? A heartless leech?"

He still looked angry, but I could see the wheels turning in his head, a crease forming between his brows.

Finally, Sam stepped forward, causing everyone to snap their attention to her.

"Aryn's right, dear," she said gently, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Despite all that she's done for us in the last twelves hours, we let our biases cloud our judgment and condemned her. Even I kept thinking that there must have been a reason she saved Scout, some plot to use it against us, but I can tell now that I was being close-minded."

"But she's a vampire, Sam," he said.

"And she saved our family," she agreed.

Everything was silent as he thought. No one added anything, no one argued; everyone just stood where they were blankly. I tried to calm down—deep breath in; deep breath out—and was glad when some of the ice on the ground receded.

Finally, the Alpha let out a breath, the smell of trees and rain coming to me in a small wave. "Fine," he said. "I understand now."

I tensed, raising an eyebrow. Would I have to fight now or not?

"As Alpha of the Quincy Pack, I have decided that no one is allowed to harm Aryn Kross's family without my direct order. From here on out, we treat Aryn as we would our own," he declared, eyeing every werewolf around, before settling on me. "My name is Draven. Welcome to the Quincy Pack, Aryn Kross."

With that, he turned on his heel and headed to the vast forest just past the grill. Sam sent me a wink at the look of confusion on my face before following after him, causing all of the frost around me to thaw immediately.

Everyone visibly relaxed, their shoulders falling, and some even let out breaths they had been holding. Quickly, they all eased back into whatever they were doing before I had stepped outside, talking amongst themselves.

Two women approached me, though. One woman, the shorter of the two, was actually smaller than me, barely reaching my chin. She had pale blonde hair that was just past her shoulders with pretty grey eyes. Like most of the women in the yard, she was wearing a white blouse and a long, black skirt that covered her bare feet.

The other woman was roughly five inches taller than my five-nine, with dark cropped hair and old, brown eyes. She, too, was wearing a white blouse, but instead of the black skirt, she was wearing a pair of black capris that went just past her knees.

I was so distracted by them that I didn't notice the pale blonde's outstretched arms until they were already wrapping around me, pulling me into a tight hug. "Oh, thank you so much for saving our little Scout," she said. Her hair covered my face, and I tried my best not to get any of it in my mouth as the woman squeezed tighter. "I don't know what any of us would've done if she was hurt!"

"Now, now, Colleen, be easy. The poor girl has only just recovered from an electrical whip," another woman intervened, placing a hand on the blonde's—Colleen's—shoulder, before smiling at me. "Pleasure to meet you, Aryn. I'm Eden, Sam's mother, and the woman clinging to you like an octopus is Sam's sister and my other daughter, Colleen."

Colleen let go of me, smiling sheepishly. "Sorry, honey, but when Sam told me that Scout had been attacked and saved by a vampire, and that vampire took an electrical whip for her no less, I was so overcome with gratitude that I knew I'd have to meet you."

"It wasn't anything really," I tried. I felt like I had whiplash from all the different reactions I was getting. "Honestly. I was just trying to find something to, uh, eat when I ran into her."

This information only made Colleen more emotional, though, tears brimming in her eyes. "Oh, I heard. You were so thirsty that you ended up getting hurt, right? Couldn't save yourself? And when Kyle came to help, you shoved him away so that you wouldn't hurt him either." She was literally crying now. "You sweet angel. How anyone could ever doubt you after hearing all of that—" She broke off, sniffing.

I cleared her throat, awkward again. How can I make this woman understand that is wasn't that big of a deal?

"You'll have to excuse her," Eden said, shaking her head. "Ever since Sam found out she was having a girl, Colleen has been terrified that something would happen to her. We all have been."

I tilted my head. "Are girls rare or something?"

Both women stopped, looking at me. Something dawned on Colleen before she chuckled a little. "Oh, right, vampire." She smiled. "Yes, female werewolves are very rare. It's one of the main reasons we're an endangered species right now. There's hardly enough women to repopulate, especially since we can't have more than two to three kids."

"I got lucky," Eden said. "The two children that I had were girls, which is almost unheard of."

Colleen nodded. "That's why I wasn't surprised when we found out that Sam was having a girl—it runs in the family, apparently, since Draven also had a sister—but because female werewolves are rare, Hunters go after them more too, so it's a double-edged sword."

I couldn't help but look at them. "Had a sister?"

Colleen bit her lip, and Eden smacked the back of her head. "Way to go, Colleen."

"I didn't mean to!"

Eden sighed. "Yes, 'had.' She was killed by Hunters."

I ran a hand through my hair. "Please tell me it wasn't with an electrical whip or something."

Colleen shook her head. "She was… frozen," she said, shuddering.

"It was a horrible thing to do to someone," Eden agreed. "They had locked her in a giant meat locker and turned down the temperature. It took six hours."

I shivered despite the fact that I would never be affected by the cold.

"Anyway," Colleen started, brightening up, "let's talk about you. Is your hair naturally purple? I can't smell any dyes on you, but I've never seen a vampire with purple hair."

I blinked. Bouncing back from tragedy had never been my strongest. "Yes," I said slowly. "Purple is my natural hair color, but only members of my family have it."

"Really?" she beamed, coming close enough to snag a few strands and stare at it. "Does everyone in your family have it?"

I shook her head. "No. Just me and my grandmother."

"Why's that?"

"Uh, well, it's a genetic thing that affects every other generation," I said carefully. It wasn't an entire lie. It was just that Grandma had been the original Kross, so there hadn't been any generations before her. Originally, she had thought that the gene would affect every child born in her family, so she had been surprised when all 5 of her children had black hair and green eyes. When she found out that I'd been born with the gene, though, she'd been so thrilled that she decided to lived with us while I was growing up.

"Interesting~" Colleen sang, bringing me back to the conversation at hand. "Is it the same with your eyes?"

I nodded. "Yeah."

"They're so pretty~" Colleen said, staring into my eyes for so long, it made me uncomfortable. "Such a clear, crystal blue color~"

Eden shook her head, exasperated, and grabbed Colleen's shoulder. "Stop it, child. Your bad habit is showing again."

"But she's so interesting, mom~" Colleen whined.

"Yes, I know, but she's probably not used to having werewolves ground her for information, so give her some space to breathe."

"But I want to know more!" she protested as Eden dragged her over to Sydney.

I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding, a little glad to have Colleen out of my hair—literally. The werewolf was nice, but she was too curious for her own good.

Shaking my head, I looked around, trying to spot Kyle.

Werewolves were everywhere, of course, not a single human within miles. Sam and the Alpha had come back from the forest and were now near the grill, dark grey smoke flooding the sky, giving the air a charcoal taste. Scout was between them, the grin on her face radiating happiness. I was glad to see she was smiling. In the back of my mind, I had been worried that the whole ordeal with the Hunter and me almost dying would scar her, but she seemed fine, jumping up and down at the steak on the grill.

Other werewolves were sitting in chairs that were arranged around a cauldron full of more fire, talking animatedly with those standing around them. Another group was hanging around a truck with huge wheels, trying to flip themselves over the bed of it. A much smaller crowd of pups were running around, playing tackle-tag.

No sign of Kyle anywhere, though.

Where did he go?

"So, you're the hero everyone's talking about. The unlikely savior who risked her life to help the alpha's daughter," someone said behind me.

I twirled around, tilting my head.

A guy was looking down at me, an eyebrow quirked up. He had natural red hair that looked more orange in the sunlight and dull green eyes—nothing like the vivid green the twins had. Unlike the rest of the werewolves I had seen, he wasn't tanned. Instead, he had pale skin that made the color of his hair look more vibrant.

He also wasn't wearing a shirt, showing off the definition in his torso, and I realized suddenly how unappealing I found eight packs to be. Jenna often talked about them like they were an important marker, but I didn't particularly care for abs that looked like someone had smuggled paint-rollers under the skin.

"Like what you see?" he asked, amused.

I sighed. Oh, joy. A stereotypical werewolf. How long had it been since the last time I'd met one that lived up to the reputation of being a charismatic dog? As much as I didn't like Kyle, I was glad when he turned out to be less of a cocky asshole and more of just a run-of-the-mill asshole. Otherwise, I would've had to castrate him when he tried to hurt Jenna.

"What's wrong?" he wondered, grinning a revolting all-American grin. "Afraid we'll start a taboo relationship?"

Instead of telling him all of the reasons I would rather jump on the grill and let the alpha cook me, I decided to look around for Kyle. I didn't really understand it, but it felt like he was close by, just out of my sight…

"Listen, leech, I just wanted to see how you'd react," the redhead griped, grabbing my arm.

I took a deep breath and counted to ten before I removed his hand. "I'm sorry, but I'm looking for Kyle."

The redhead made a face. "Why do you need Kyle?" he demanded, eyeing me suspiciously. "Think now that Draven has made you a friend of the Pack, you can stomp all over his son?"

"Yes," I said matter-of-factly. "Since you've figured it all out, could you run to the Alpha and tell him while I hunt Kyle down?" I rolled her eyes.

He grabbed my wrist, this time digging his nails into my skin, and yanked me to him, forcing me to look at him. He started talking, saying something about not letting me screw with Kyle, but I was counting to twenty in my head, breathing. If I lost my temper with this mutt, it would be annoying to explain, and I doubted anyone would believe me.

"That's enough, Elliot." Kyle had grabbed the redheads arm, putting his other hand on my shoulder. "Let her go."

Elliot's eyes tightened—measuring, I guess—but he pulled his hand back. "Just testing her out, Kyle," he said easily. "Wanted to see what she'd do."

"I know exactly what you were testing, Elliot," Kyle said darkly. "And I'm sure the Alpha wouldn't appreciate you trying to set up the Pack's new ally."

"I don't know what you mean," he said easily, "but if she didn't have such a short fuse, you wouldn't have to worry about her being set up."

"Maybe if you weren't such a bastard, she wouldn't have such a short fuse," Kyle retorted. "Now, if you could fuck off so Aryn and I can talk, that'd be great."

Elliot clenched his teeth but didn't push Kyle anymore. He eyed me one last time, going for intimidation, and turned towards the group of wolves playing around the truck, leaving me and Kyle alone.

"Sorry about that. He's a shit to every newcomer, but when he heard that a vampire was going to be a new possible ally, I knew he'd do something stupid. He hates lee—vampires. He hates vampires," he said, catching himself.

I shrugged. "It's fine. I just happen to hate werewolves like him, so my temper almost got the best of me." I looked at him. "Sorry."

"Don't worry about," he said, plopping down on the ground.

"What was he trying to do anyway?" I asked, sitting next to him. "Get me to attack him?"

"Something like that." But something told me that he wasn't being completely honest.

"Well, you don't have to worry about me. I'm not planning on attacking any Pack member, no matter how egotistical they might be," I said. "Especially since I could accidentally hurt them if I lost my temper."

Kyle snorted. "Thanks for being so merciful."

"Anytime," I said, grinning.

He rolled his eyes, stretching out on the grass, and I looked at him, thinking.

"Are you going to tell me why you're so… accepting?" I asked, crossing my legs.

He froze. "Do you… remember anything?" he asked slowly.

"Don't worry: I remember saving Scout," I assured him, "and you popping up out of nowhere. I even remember you being an idiot and trying to stay next to a thirsty vampire."

He shot me a look but didn't retort. Instead, he just muttered, "Guess it's for the best."

I tilted my head. "What is?"

"Nothing," he said. "Don't worry about."

"But that still doesn't explain why you're being so… personable," I said. "Before, you would've sided with that Elliot guy, no matter how innocent I was."

He made a face. "Well, maybe not. I've never been a fan of Elliot's schemes, but I get your point." He sighed, ruffling his hair. "Aryn, you saved my little sister. Which means I messed up somewhere along the way because the vampire I thought you were would've never done that. Which also means I owe you one of the biggest apologies I think I've ever had to give."

"Of course you don't," I argued, shaking my head. "How were you supposed to know anything about me?"

"Exactly!" he said. "I pretty much judged you based off of… off of nothing. Literally. From the beginning, I—"

I held up my hand, stopping his sentence before he could finish it. "It's fine, Kyle. Seriously."

"You're okay with being seen as a—as a—as a monster without any real reason?"

"No, not really. But monster's a relative term, right? We're all monsters to humans," I said, shrugging. "Vampires are monsters to werewolves. Werewolves are monsters to vampires. It's all relative, so I just accept that I'm a monster to werewolves, just like you have to accept that you're a monster to vampires."

"Who are you?" Kyle demanded, gaping.

I rolled my eyes. "The point is that you made me angry the first day we met, and I decided to be an asshole back: there wasn't any real way for you to know that I wasn't a stereotypical vampire, so there's no reason to feel bad."

He cleared his throat. "Yeah, that was my bad. I wanna say that the only reason I was such a dick was because I was freaked out that a vampire was walking around in broad daylight, but that wouldn't be totally true." He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "A vampire during any time, even at night, would've probably gotten the same reaction."

"See? And because I reacted the way I did, you didn't know that I didn't hate you because you're a werewolf; I hated you because you were a jerk."

"Wait. Are you saying that you weren't bothered by the fact that I was a werewolf? At all?"

"Not exactly," I said. "Just because I didn't hate you because you're a werewolf doesn't mean that you didn't absolutely reek. When my instincts were still intact, they did not like you."

It was his turn to roll his eyes. "Past tense?" he asked. "Your instincts aren't intact now?"

I sighed. "I don't know. For some reason, ever since I woke up, the smell of cinnamon has overpowered most of the dog smell on you. It's still there, but it's more… bearable, I guess. Less repulsive."

"Yeah," he agreed. "I get it."

I raised an eyebrow. "You too?"

He nodded. "It's weird because the whole lavender scent you've got going on used to be sickeningly sweet, but now it's not as strong. Like, you actually smell good for once."

"Why would you be affected too…" I wondered out loud, biting my thumb.

He stiffened, clearing his throat again, and changed the subject. "So, how does it feel to be in the wolves' den?"

I made a face. "Like walking on eggshells."

He snickered. "I bet. Was my dad what you expected?"

"Yeah, a little," I said honestly. "Alphas have to be a certain way to be in charge of Packs, and after so many, you kind of know the archetype, I guess."


I nodded. "Yeah. They're all big, hulking men with short tempers and loud voices."

Kyle tilted his head, contemplating that. "I never thought about it, but you're right."

"The fact that he was okay with me arguing was out of character, though." Alphas were the top dog. Even if most of them didn't rule with an iron thumb, it didn't mean that they didn't demand respect. It was in their blood. Luckily, other werewolves had a hard time not respecting the Alpha, and an even harder time disobeying an Alpha's direct order. If a werewolf did manage to argue somehow, though, they usually ended up regretting it, whether the Alpha punished them himself or a Pack member. I'd seen werewolves killed for going against an Alpha.

And that was what happened to Pack members. Outsiders got worse punishments—always. That combined with the fact that I was a vampire… Well, I was surprised he didn't attack me on spot.

"You saved Scout," Kyle said matter-of-factly, like that explained it. "You saved the Alpha's kid."

"I get that," I deadpanned. "But that can't be the only reason. C'mon, Kyle. I'm a vampire, his natural enemy, remember? And I practically threatened him."

"Yeah, I saw. I didn't know you could manipulate the cold."

"Don't change the subject."

He sighed. "Look, something… happened after you collapsed," he said slowly, unsure. "And I don't know why, but something in my head is telling me that I should keep it from you."

"What is it?" I demanded, turning to him.

"We were attacked by the Hunters that you saved Scout from. I guess she saved them from you or something? So you wouldn't kill them? Well, anyway, they ambushed us when they managed to find our house, and one of them almost managed to get Scout with an electrical whip again, but…"

"But?" I raised an eyebrow.

"But you had saved her again." His eyes weren't focused on the forest in front of us anymore, remembering. "In the process, you managed to earn another lash, as if you needed any more, and mom and dad witnessed it. They were really surprised, especially when you gave Scout to mom after smelling her for some reason, and then disappeared."

"Where… where did I go?" I asked, eyes wide.

He looked me dead in the eye. "You came to me."

I blinked. "What?"

"Yeah, I couldn't really believe it either, but you came to me in the nick of time," he said, smirking. "You had the tip of the whip in your hand, completely unphased by the fact that it was practically burning your palm off, and yanked the Hunter on the other side over to us…" He stopped, voice fading.

"Then what?" I asked patiently, already sure of what happened.

"You… drained him." He watched me as he said it, waiting for my reaction. "You drained both of them."

I sighed. "That explains why I'm alive. I'm surprised two humans did it for me, though. Usually, it takes three or four, depending on how long it's been."

"Well, after two, you passed out again."

"Yeah, my body needed to repair," I said, forgetting for a moment that he didn't know I wasn't a full-fledged vampire until he shot me a confused look.


"Uh, yeah," I said quickly. "Happens sometimes when vampires are near-death. Their bodies need time to recuperate," I lied. The real truth was that it was only because I was half that I needed to shut down and focus wholly on healing. Usually, though, it took Vulcan and Ceres feeding me some of their blood to get better, since they had more potent healing properties than I did.

"Huh," was all he said, thinking again.

"Anyway," I said, hoping to stop him from thinking too hard about that, "I'm just glad you guys didn't do anything stupid, like let me drink from one of you or something," I joked.

Except he went rigid, hand unconsciously covering a spot on the crook of his neck, and I stared at him in disbelief.

"Wait, Kyle, you didn't actually…"

"Don't worry about it," he said quickly, standing up. "I think I hear my dad calling me—probably needs help with the grill—so I'm just going to—"

I grabbed his wrist and pulled him back, successfully stopping his retreat. He fell backward, landing on the grass with a dull thud. The impact had him cringing, a rush of cinnamon filling my nose, and my eyes widened. Before he could do anything, I pinned him to the ground and followed the scent to an impression of teeth, the canines looking particularly defined.

I gasped, covering my mouth. "Shit, Kyle, I bit you."

"It's okay, Aryn," he said quickly, almost panicky. "It was my fault."

I barely hear him, staring at the impression. They had to have been deep to leave such a wound after so much time has passed. Werewolves might not have healed instantaneously like old vampires did, but for it to still look so fresh after a few hours… The wound had to have been severe.

"I had to have gotten your jugular," I murmured.

I was too distracted by the mark—Kyle was able to wrench his hands from my grip and cover the impressions with his hand. "Look, I made you, okay? I'm the one who cut my arms, I'm the one who told you to do it, and I'm the one who let it happen."

"How could you be so stupid," I hissed, leaning back.

I still hadn't gotten off of him, straddling his thighs, so all he could do was sit up and stare at me, exasperated. "You were dying, Aryn. What else could I do?" he demanded.

"What do you mean what else could you do?" I growled. "Literally, anything else. Ignoring the fact that I could've killed you by drinking too much, vampires are poisonous, you idiot. When they bite people, even if they don't drink them dry, they die. And it's not a good way to go."

"Well, excuse me if confusion overrode my good sense," he retorted. "You know, this is exactly why I saved you. What kind of person actually gets angry at someone for helping them?"

"I'm not a person, Kyle. I'm a vampire. A potentially poisonous vampire. And you bared your neck for me without even thinking of the consequences."

"And it was my choice to do it. Call me whatever you want, but I decided to save you, and I'd do it again. You didn't drain me, I'm not poisoned, and everything's basically the same as it was, so stop with this shitty screaming match and tell me what the problem is."

I opened my mouth to snap at him but closed it, staring at him. Of course he didn't see a problem—he didn't know I was half-vampire. Not that I knew the exact problem, just that it was a problem. It had to be a problem. I mean, I wasn't poisonous like other vampires, so he didn't have to worry about that, but that only made it worse. Something… something was wrong with it, but I didn't know what.

"See? There isn't one, so chill out," he grumbled.

And then I realized what it was.

"I… I almost killed you," I murmured. "Kyle, I…" I stopped, covering my face. I had tried so hard not to feed on him, and yet my teeth had to of at least punctured his jugular. "I can't believe I…"

It was his turn to grab my wrists, pulling my hands away from my face so I could look at him. "Listen to me, Aryn: it's okay. Mom knows what happened, and she agrees that it's my fault, so don't look like that. Just take deep breaths."

I did as he said, focusing on the wind and a strange thrum that was between us. Eventually, I managed to center myself again, the disbelief still in the back of my mind.

"I'm sorry," I breathed, meeting his eye. "I shouldn't have yelled at you."

"It's fine," he said easily, shrugging. "I'm getting used to you yelling when you're worried."

I snorted, muttering a "Whatever" before sighing. "And I'm sorry about… about drinking from you."

"I told you that it's not—wait, what're you do—"

I leaned into him, ignoring whatever he was trying to say, and bit my tongue, letting blood pool to the surface. As soon as I was sure there was enough, I gingerly ran my tongue along the bite. I could feel how deep the wound was, but try to ignore it, focusing on getting them healed.

Kyle shuddered, body shaking under me. Looking for something to hold onto, he grabbed my hips, trying to ground himself.

Well, that was interesting. Typically, when I drank from people, they had this reaction, but never when I've healed them. Of course, they were usually in a stupor from being fed on…

When the bite mark finally healed, I pulled back. Kyle didn't let go of me, though. Instead, he stared at me, far too relaxed for someone who just had fangs near his neck. His eyes were deep, dark, and glazed over, spaced out. The charged way the air felt made me want to squirm away from him, reverse whatever was going on.

"Ryn! Kyle! Hurry up before there's no steak left!" I heard Scout shout behind us.

"Your, uh, sister's calling us," I said.

"Yeah." His voice is low, rough, and it takes him a solid minute before he blinked out of the daze he was in. He cleared his throat. "Right. Let's go get food."

I nodded, moving off of him and standing up. He followed, brushing the grass off of himself before heading towards his Pack.

I took a deep breath and followed after him, ignoring the strange buzzing in my head that said something was different.