Authors: Amanda M. Lee
Covenant College – Book Two
By Amanda M. Lee
Text copyright © 2013 Amanda M. Lee
All Rights Reserved
The winter break of my first year of college couldn’t have come at a better time – and the dead roommate and rampant vampires and werewolves at my new college were only partially responsible for my school malaise.
The first semester of college hadn’t been everything I had expected it to be. Sure, I had met a lot of new people – and I had even liked a few of them. I’d also met a tan vampire named Rafael, moved in with a wicked witch who had cast a glamour on herself so she appeared to be a teenager and broken up with my high school boyfriend because he was a member of a fraternity that had no problem drugging women and then molesting them. Oh, and they were a pack of werewolves, too.
Yeah, my first semester at Covenant College was kind of a mess.
Did I mention that my journalism professor ran a school for monster hunters? Oh, and I might have a slight crush on a werewolf – just not the one I had recently broken up with?
It wasn’t all bad, though, I don’t want you to misunderstand. I had actually become good friends with my new roommate, Paris – and I hadn’t killed my other roommate, Brittany. That proved that I was making great strides with my social skills – because Brittany had a few personality traits that made me want to beat my head into a wall, or at least smother her with her pillow when she was sleeping.
Still, when winter break had arrived, I was relieved to find myself back in my old bedroom, surrounded by my childhood stuffed animals, and the familiar smells of home. Sure, it was a bummer to have my parents constantly watching my every move after I had enjoyed such autonomy for a few months, but it was only two weeks and then I would be back to the college grind.
My name is Zoe Lake. I’m an 18-year-old student from a small town in northern Lower Michigan. I’m about to start my second semester at Covenant College – a small university in mid-Michigan that is home to all things weird and wicked. I was starting to wish I had went to one of the bigger state universities my mom had suggested – even though I had purposely picked a college none of my high school classmates was attending – but despite all the murder and mayhem, I was determined to make my tenure at Covenant College a success.
As I went about my daily activities, I occasionally found my parents watching me thoughtfully. They could tell something was different, they just didn’t know what. I had no intention of filling them in – at least not yet.
I didn’t want to tell them that monsters were real, and our hometown was apparently made up of a large werewolf pack – at least that is what I had been told. If they didn’t already know, I didn’t want to ruin their holiday. If they did already know, I needed to figure out why they were hiding it from me.
The day after Christmas, I was sitting on the couch and reading a magazine – someone needs to start the entire Kardashian clan on fire -- when there was a knock on the front door.
It was winter in northern lower Michigan, so the days were technically getting longer – although the darkness was still coming early each day. It wasn’t even 6 p.m. yet and already dark. When I opened the door, I got the surprise of my life.
“What are you doing here?” I looked over my shoulder, back into my house, nervously. Neither of my parents were in the general vicinity, but that didn’t mean I wanted to invite the new arrival in.
“We need to talk.” My guest pushed his way into the house without waiting for an invitation. He didn’t have the best manners – even on a good day.
“We can talk when we get back to campus.”
“This can’t wait.” My guest’s dark hair was messy from the wind outside and his dark eyes were fierce.
“Now what? Another witch? Another stake burning?”
“No. The pack is coming for you.”
“What do you mean the pack is coming for me?” I glanced at Aric warily. Sure, he had saved my life a few weeks ago – and he was ridiculously hot -- but he was also a werewolf, and I wasn’t sure where his loyalties really lived.
Aric glanced around my living room for a second before shifting his dark eyes back to my impatient blue ones. “They’re coming for you.”
Even when he repeated it, the statement didn’t mean much to me. “The pack at the school? The pack that just tried to kill me and failed?”
“No,” Aric shook his head, running his hand through his windblown black hair. “The pack here. They’re coming after dark tonight.”
“I’ve never met the pack here,” I pointed out. “And how would you know what they’re up to?” He was hot, but I didn’t exactly believe everything he had to say. He clearly had his own agenda.
Aric blew out a sigh. “I keep track of all the packs in the state through my family.”
“Because you’re a born werewolf?” Aric had explained to me that there were two types of werewolves: Born and made. Born werewolves are stronger – and smarter, according to him – but any werewolves living in a pack could quickly become dangerous.
“My family has influence in certain circles,” Aric reminded me.
“And they told you the pack was coming for me?” I asked dubiously.
“They did,” Aric acknowledged in frustration. He looked like he wanted to shake me. Get used to it, that’s not an uncommon look for him.
“And you believe them?”
“Why would they lie?”
“I think the better question is why would the pack suddenly be interested in me? I grew up here and they never showed any interest in me. In fact, I never knew they existed,” I explained with a moderate sense of disinterest.
“Maybe that’s why they’re coming for you,” Aric said ominously. “Because now you know.”
I furrowed my brow as I regarded him. “What am I supposed to do about it?”
“We could leave,” Aric suggested hopefully.
“How am I going to explain that to my parents?” Plus, even though he was hot, there was no way I was going to run off with him. I barely knew him.
“It will be easier than explaining your dead body.”
“Thanks,” I snapped.
“It’s the truth,” Aric said defiantly, puffing out his impressively muscled chest in all its blue-flanneled glory.
“Well, I’m not going to run,” I said dismissively. “What else do you suggest?”
Aric shook his head and glanced around the room for a second time. Was he searching for something? “We’ll go to the head of the pack ourselves,” Aric said finally.
“Isn’t that just like giving myself up for slaughter?” I was only half joking.
Aric shrugged – which I didn’t take for a good sign. “I don’t see another move for us.”
“If I’m with you, they might think twice about . . . hurting you,” he continued.
“Would they really hurt me? Or are you just getting off on this hero stuff?” I asked honestly.
Aric smiled for the first time since he’d entered the house – it was the flirtatious smile, complete with dimples, that he had flashed the first day he had met me in the University Center. “You think of me as your hero?”
“Don’t let it go to your head,” I admonished him. “I think of Thor as my hero, too. And he has better hair and a better body.”
Aric didn’t look like he believed me. I didn’t blame him. He was no slouch in the hair or body department – and he knew it.
I looked to Aric expectantly. “Let’s do it,” I said with as much bravado as I could muster. Admittedly, it wasn’t much.
Aric looked me up and down doubtfully. “You can’t go dressed like that.”
I glanced down at my fuzzy pajama pants and tank top. If they were going to kill me, I figured it would be better to be comfortable, but he had a point. I should at least put on a bra. “Give me a second and I’ll change.”
Aric watched me disappear into my bedroom. I could tell he was interested in seeing what it looked like, but he wisely remained in the hallway while I shrugged into a pair of simple jeans and T-shirt.
As we were leaving the house, I glanced around for my parents again – but I couldn’t find either one of them.
“What are you looking for?” Aric asked.
“My mom and dad,” I said simply. “I don’t know where they went.”
“Is it unusual for them to leave without telling you? You are an adult now, after all.”
“No, it’s not unusual. I just don’t know how they left without me noticing.” I shrugged off the nagging concern about my parents and climbed into Aric’s pickup truck.
Once we were on the road, I watched as Aric navigated the streets of my small town as if he’d lived here forever. “Do you know where you’re going?”
“I know where the pack master lives,” Aric said briefly.
“I’ve been here before.”
“When I was a teenager.”
“Why?” I pressed him.
“My dad had a meeting and I came with him.”
His monotone answers were starting to get to me. “You’re hiding something from me.”
“I’m not hiding anything from you,” Aric argued. “I was a teenager. I was more interested in checking out the girls than paying attention to whatever crap they were talking about.”
I actually didn’t doubt that. He was still hiding something from me, though. I crossed my arms over my chest obstinately. “You seem to know the streets pretty well.”
“There are only five of them. It’s not hard to find your way around.”
“There are more than five,” I scoffed. “There are like twenty.”
I watched in silence as Aric pulled up in front of city hall – which was really a small brick building in the dead center of town – and then turned to him in surprise. “The pack master is at city hall?”
“I’m hoping he’s still here and hasn’t went home for the day yet.”
“Who is it?” I asked curiously. Actually, why hadn’t I asked that question first?
Aric didn’t answer me. He jumped out of his truck and waited by the front door of city hall for me to catch up. “Who is it?” I repeated the question.
Aric answered by opening the door and ushering me inside, following me closely. There was a small group of townspeople milling about inside – most of whom I recognized as various neighbors and a few city council members – and they all stopped what they were doing when they saw me enter the front door.
I involuntarily took a step back, smacking into Aric’s broad chest as I did so. He wrapped his strong arms around me to steady me for a second and then moved around so he was in front of me. It was a territorial move – and it wasn’t wasted on me. All of the individuals that were staring at me a second before turned back to the tasks they had previously been fixated on – or at least pretended to turn back – while Aric stared each one of them down individually.
I felt Aric’s hand envelope mine as he dragged me towards the secretary at the front of the office. “I need to see Mayor Teague.”
“Paul Teague?” I asked in surprise.
Aric ignored me.
The secretary, her name was Rose, regarded him coolly. “And you are?”
“And do you have a meeting?” Rose asked imperiously, casting a disdainful look in my direction and pretending to flip through her day planner.
“No,” Aric said. “I didn’t think I would need one. If that’s going to be a problem I can call my father and see if he can work something out.”
That was obviously a threat – but Rose only faltered for a second. “And who is your father?”
I could feel my mouth drop open in surprise. “The senator?” I realized I knew very little about Aric’s family.
Aric squeezed my hand steadily, but he didn’t answer my question. He was trying to represent himself as an alpha; even in my limited experience with werewolves, I knew that was important.
Rose met Aric’s gaze evenly and swallowed hard. “I’ll tell Mayor Teague you’re here.”
“You do that.” Aric’s voice was clear and commanding.
It only took a few minutes before Aric and I were ushered into Mayor Teague’s office. He was sitting at his desk, which was so wide it almost encompassed the entire width of the room. He was dressed in his usual khaki pants and button-down shirt, and his salt-and-pepper hair was slicked back like a reject from
. He looked totally normal – well, for him.
“Mr. Winters,” Mayor Teague greeted Aric with faux warmth. “How nice of you to visit our small town. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
Aric let go of my hand, but I noticed he retained his position in front of me, planting his hands on his hips impatiently. “Let’s not play games, shall we?”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean?” Mayor Teague said, flashing his best placating smile in Aric’s direction.
“Really?” Aric challenged him. “You want to play it this way?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Mayor Teague lied.
Aric glared openly at him, and I could hear a low rumble emitting from his chest. It took me a second to realize he was growling. Good grief. Men are impossible sometimes.
“He’s worried that you’re coming after me because I know about the existence of werewolves now,” I blurted out.
Aric slid me a furious look, while Mayor Teague inhaled sharply. He turned his attention to me for the first time. “What did you just say?”
“I know about werewolves,” I repeated. Seriously, what did I have to lose at this point?
“I see,” Mayor Teague said stiffly. “And why would you think that information would be important to me?”
“You know why,” Aric shot back.
“I’m sure I don’t,” Mayor Teague replied evasively.
“Because you’re the pack master here,” I supplied. What? I was trying to help.
“Who told you that?” Mayor Teague asked angrily. I couldn’t help but notice he didn’t deny the whole werewolf charge. That was disheartening.
“I heard it on the street,” I lied. I didn’t see the benefit of ratting Aric out at this point.
“I see,” Mayor Teague said smoothly. “People on the street were talking about this?”
“They were,” I challenged him. “You were right after the tacky Christmas decorations but right before the rumor that Ellie Charles is sleeping with Councilman Roberts in the gossip chain.”
“And what do you plan on doing with this information?” Mayor Teague remained seated at his desk. The only movement he provided was to steeple his fingers in feigned thought as he continued to ask me questions. I realized he was buying time.
“Nothing,” I said honestly.
“Nothing,” Mayor Teague repeated. “How can I be sure of that?”
“Why should I care? As long as you don’t try to eat me or anyone else in town, it’s really not any of my business, is it?”
Mayor Teague shifted his gaze back to Aric. “And what is your status in this situation?”
“Zoe is under my family’s protection,” Aric replied evenly. “A move on her is considered a move on us.”
Well, that was news.
“And your father feels the same way?” Mayor Teague asked.
“He does,” Aric said succinctly. “Call him if you don’t believe me. I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. He’s mentioned the leadership in this part of the state needing further
Mayor Teague climbed to his feet, although I could tell he was a little shaky. “Well then, we’ll leave all decisions about Ms. Lake’s level of knowledge to you. For the time being, at least.”
“That would be prudent,” Aric said, nodding sagely.
“I’m sure you think so,” Mayor Teague said. “If things get out, though . . .”
“They won’t,” Aric promised.
“But if they do?”
“Then we’ll handle it,” Aric said.
“Consider the matter settled then,” Mayor Teague said, reaching his hand out towards Aric.
Aric gripped it tightly. I couldn’t help but notice Mayor Teague cringe at the impact. “If anyone in this town forgets, I’ll take it out on you,” Aric threatened.
“They won’t forget,” Mayor Teague squeaked.
Aric and I left the office after that, and I could feel ten sets of eyes on my back as I climbed into his truck. Once we were on the road again, I finally spoke. “You didn’t really need me for that.”
“It was better to have you present so he knew I was serious,” Aric said.
“Or you just wanted me to see how powerful your family name was,” I pointed out.
“That was only a side bonus,” Aric slid me a sly grin.
“So now what?”
“What do you mean?”
“Now I’m suddenly safe?”
“I can’t guarantee that,” Aric warned. “I can guarantee that he’ll do what he can to defuse the situation.”
“That’s something, I guess.”