Perfect scents, p.9
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       Perfect Scents, p.9

           Heather Karn
 
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  Chapter 8

  Gram drove me to school the next day since Chrissa would be dropping me off after our girl’s night. She was chatty during the drive, and I found myself laughing with her. After my drain of emotional baggage the night before, it was easier to be carefree and happy. There was no guarantee of how long it would last, but I planned to take advantage of it while it did.

  “Now what time will your friend be dropping you off tonight?” Gram asked as she pulled into the student parking lot to drop me off.

  My door swung open with its usual screech, and I had to fight not to cringe.

  “Not sure. She has a cell phone, so I’ll call you if I’m going to be out too late.”

  “Good girl. Be careful and make smart choices, young lady.”

  My eyes rolled as I exited the car, but I plastered a smile on my face before I turned around and leaned back in to say goodbye. “You know I’m responsible. We’ll be good. Bye, Gram.” Slamming the door, I headed into the school to catch Chrissa before our first class to finalize our plans for the night.

  The day dragged on as I waited for the final bell to release us from the school week. Chrissa snickered after the twentieth time she caught my eyes wandering to the clock in Senior English. I ignored her as I forced myself to focus on the story we were reading instead of how close we were to escaping our weekly prison.

  When the bell rang, Chrissa and I bolted from our seats and ran to our lockers, nearly mowing down half of the school’s student body in the process. Girls squeaked as they jumped out of our way, and the guys yelled rude comments, that was until they saw that Chrissa was one of the crazy people pushing past them. Then they shut up and watched her go by. If they’d been paying any attention before we reached them, I was sure they’d have parted the way like Moses parted the Red Sea.

  The odor of rusted lockers and dirty gym shoes gave way to the musk of fall as we barreled from the school and made a beeline for the parking lot. Chrissa’s yellow Ford Focus named Honeybee was waiting for us. I’d never noticed that it was outfitted with numerous flower decals all over the hood, sides, and back bumper.

  “Okay, so what’s the plan?” I asked her as Honeybee careened out of the parking lot with me gripping the inside door handle.

  “Let’s go to the mall and do some shopping, and then hit the five dollar movie theater. After that, we could get ice cream.”

  “That sounds great.”

  “Let’s do this.”

  She turned us onto the expressway onramp and sped her little car past the speed limit. Though I’d never had a case of motion sickness in my life, my stomach tightened with anxiety as we weaved in and out of traffic to gain the lead in the fast lane.

  “And theater popcorn,” I added as we settled our speed at eighty-five miles per hour.

  “I would never forget that!” she exclaimed, feigning offense.

  “I didn’t say you would. I’m just adding it to our list of empty calorie foods to intake tonight.”

  “Seriously, I want as many calories tonight as I can get without throwing up. I’ll start my diet tomorrow.”

  I gave her a sidelong glance. Really? The girl was a twig. She could stand to gain a few extra pounds.

  “Let’s see how much junk we eat before you start planning that diet,” I told her as a blue Mustang pulled up beside us in the next lane.

  The man driving caught my eyes and held them as a slow smile crossed his bearded face. His sandy blond hair was pulled back into a messy man bun. Though many women liked the look, I wasn’t one of them.

  A female passenger leaned forward to adjust the radio, but her eyes met mine as well. My gut twisted as we stared at one another, and when she winked at me, my heart leaped into my throat. It hadn’t been a sexual wink. Instead, it felt like a promise of some kind; an evil promise at that. I didn’t know who they were, but my gut told me they knew who I was.

  My skin crawled as I opened my mouth to tell Chrissa to step on it, but as I did the Mustang was forced to slow down or rear end the car in front of them. That didn’t prevent me from replaying his sly smile, and her wink over and over in my head as we flew passed the car they’d slowed down for. As I watched the traffic in the mirror on my side of the car, my hands and gut clenched in anticipation of whatever move they might make.

  The traffic pattern prevented them from cutting in behind us or changing lanes. Within a few minutes, we’d gained enough distance that they disappeared from view behind us as we followed the curves of the mountains. Still, I continued to watch the mirror to make sure they didn’t catch up.

  “What do you think about Logan?” Chrissa asked, oblivious of the near heart attack I’d been having in my seat. Her bright eyes were filled with anticipation as they met mine before returning to the road.

  There was a small quiver to my voice when I spoke, but she showed no sign of noticing, for which I was grateful. “You mean the shy, Asian kid who sits in the back of the room in English?”

  “Yeah. Although I don’t think he’s shy, but more of an introvert. He’s in my gym class and oh my lands, Joey, that boy is built. I mean there’s more muscle in one of this arms than Michael has in his whole body. Talk about hot. Plus he has a great personality. We have our history class together too.”

  The only person I’d ever had girl talk with before in my entire life was Mom. Gram and Aunt Gwen tried to pry information from me about boys I was interested in, but it didn’t work in their favor. Now that Chrissa was opening up the discussion, I was lost in foreign territory.

  “So what’re you going to do about it?” I asked as she veered into the middle lane. The woman in the minivan in the next lane glared like she expected Chrissa to slam into her.

  “Do about what?”

  “Well, are you going to ask him out or wait for him to make the first move?”

  She turned to me with raised eyebrows and wide eyes. “Do you think I should?”

  “Chrissa, every guy in that school falls over himself when he looks at you, but you don’t see them. If you like Logan, ask the poor guy out. Honestly, the worst that could happen is he says no and you move on.”

  “You’ve never dated anyone before have you?”

  “Nope.”

  “And why not?”

  “No one ever asked.”

  “You know that makes no sense right. You just told me to ask the guy out and yet you’ve never done it? Here, I think this is our exit.” She pulled over into the slow lane, cutting off the guy behind us to take the exit. How this girl hadn’t already wrecked her car was beyond me.

  “No, it’s not like that. I just haven’t found any guys that I’m interested in enough to ask.”

  “Seriously?”

  “Yeah. Some have been nice and good looking, but I never felt anything toward them.”

  “But if there was a guy, would you ask him out?”

  “Maybe.”

  “Well you’re no help at all,” she muttered as she turned into the mall parking lot.

  “Sorry.”

  “Right. I hope you don’t mind walking. I hate parking up close in these tiny spaces.”

  That was a shocker considering how she’d driven to get us here. She took the first parking space that she saw which had open spaces on both sides. This left us pretty far from the building, but I didn’t mind the walk. I wasn’t planning on buying anything so I wouldn’t have to drag bags from the store to the car.

  After a few hours of shopping and dinner at the food court, we headed out of the mall. The sun had already set by the time we stepped outside, so only the parking lot lights lit the area.

  I had to do a double take as we walked along the sidewalk and stepped off the curb. The darkness made it difficult to see, but I’d know that body build anywhere. He leaned against a light pole beside the sidewalk, with his head bent down to shield his black eyes from the light above. My steps faltered as he met my eyes, but I regained my composure before Chrissa noticed. She was too busy digging in her
purse for the keys. The car wasn’t too hard to find either. It practically glowed in the dark.

  “Okay, so who was the hottie by the light pole?” Chrissa asked as she backed the car out of the space.

  So she’d noticed my reaction after all. “A friend.”

  “Wait, what?” Her eyes screamed that I was crazy as she stared at me instead of the road. “And you didn’t think to invite him along?”

  “It’s a girl’s night. Plus I suppose he’s more of an acquaintance than a friend.”

  “Where’d you find him?”

  “It’s a long story. I’d really rather not talk about it.”

  “Okay, I’ll let it slide this once, but someday soon you and I are going to talk about him.”

  The theater parking lot was jammed, which wasn’t surprising for a Friday night. As we turned into the lot, a large red truck was backing out of a front row space. Before anyone else could steal it, Chrissa zipped her car through the lot and swung in.

  We sat in the car for a few minutes while Chrissa called her mom to let her know everything was good. Then we headed in. Though she’d teased me about watching a horror movie, there wasn’t one playing. My audible sigh of relief made her giggle, and the teenage boy walking past us dropped his wallet as he searched for money. As he picked it up, red faced, his gaze lingered on Chrissa, but as usual she wasn’t paying him any attention.

  “Let’s see. We have an action movie, a comedy and two chick flicks. What are you in the mood for?” Chrissa asked as we stared at the show times above the ticket counter.

  “Please, no chick flicks,” I begged. There were numerous ways to torture me, and making me watch a chick flick was one of them. “I’d rather watch that horror movie you threatened me with.”

  “Okay, must remember to get Joey a girlie movie for Christmas. Got it. How about the action movie?”

  “Deal.”

  “Would you ladies mind some company?” a melodic, tenor voice asked in my ear. Both Chrissa and I jumped as my heart pounded in my ears from the sudden shock.

  Since we’d walked in the door, my nose had zeroed in on the aroma of popcorn filling the room. It hadn’t allowed for any other smells to interfere, so I’d missed the scent of mint on the air as he’d snuck up on us.

  Though deep down in my heart I was glad he was close, especially after the Mustang incident, I wasn’t ready to be seen in public with him. In fact, he shouldn’t have even attempted it. Beyond that, this was my first girl’s night in so long, and I wanted to enjoy it without worrying Chrissa or anyone else would find out about him. Ready to tell him to get lost, I turned in his direction.

  “This is a girl’s night, and you’re not-.”

  The words got caught in my throat as I stared into his eyes. They were normal, deep blue human eyes that held mine in a trance. That was until he blinked. Then I was released from their hold and left staring with my mouth open, having not finished my sentence.

  “What was that?” His wicked grin was devastating to my nerves as his words teased me. It made me want to sock him in the shoulder.

  My eyes narrowed as Chrissa giggled beside me. “I said this is a girl’s night. You’re not invited.”

  “Oh, come on, Joey. He’s here, he might as well stay.” Chrissa begged as she leaned in closer to my ear. “Please don’t deprive me of such good eye candy. He looks delicious.”

  Heat infused my cheeks as Kev’s mouth lifted at the corners. He’d heard her with his excellent hearing, but she didn’t have a clue since her back was to him. Anger flooded my veins, and I wasn’t sure if it was directed at him, her or both of them. A twinge of jealousy, entwined with my anger as I fought not to glare at either of them.

  Closing my eyes, I inhaled a deep breath and held it. The buttered popcorn aroma filled me, but the mint on the air clung to me. With it came a calm I didn’t expect. My muscles loosened and I found the anger all but gone. There was still plenty of room for jealousy, though, which was silly, and I couldn’t explain it, so I ignored it.

  “Fine, you can stay,” I told Kev, pointing a finger at him, “but you’d better be good.” For emphasis, I jammed my finger into his chest and pushed. He flashed the same wicked grin at me, then turned his attention on Chrissa.

  “I’m Kev,” he introduced. “And you are?”

  “Oh, sorry. I’m Chrissa.”

  She offered her hand for Kev to shake and for a moment I about had another panic attack. That was until Kev stretched his hand out and took hers, giving it a gentle shake. At least he knew what a handshake was.

  Mine.

  The word entered my brain and was gone in an instant. My palms started to sweat as Kev’s minty scent crashed over me. Kev still held Chrissa’s hand, and for the briefest moment, I felt the need to rip her hand from his. Kev’s eyes narrowed as he turned to me, and took his hand away. All the anger and jealousy faded as Kev smiled at me. Yeah, my hormones needed to reign it in.

  “Okay, you two, let’s go get our tickets before the movie starts.”

  At the ticket counter, Chrissa paid for her ticket while I whispered to Kev.

  “Do you have any money?”

  His shoulders slumped as an answer. “We don’t deal with money. I forgot about that.”

  “That’s okay. I’ll pay for your ticket, but you owe me.” I flashed him a crooked grin as Chrissa finished paying for her ticket.

  He smiled back, and followed me up to the counter, and remained close until the transaction was complete. It was a good thing because the boy behind the counter was none other than Michael, the annoying boy from school. His eyes traveled between Kev and me several times before they finally settled on me.

  Kev stood so close that I could feel his body heat against my back, and for a split second I thought he might reach out and place his hand on my hip. At least that’s what his hand looked like it was going to do in my peripheral vision before it dropped back to his side.

  When the transaction was complete, with none of us saying a word besides me to name the movie and Michael giving me the price, I followed the path Chrissa had taken. Her eyes rolled as I caught up with her.

  “It’s bad enough we have to deal with that creep at school, let alone see him after school, and on a weekend no less. Oh well, let’s go.”

  On our way to our designated theater, we made a pit stop at the concession stand. Chrissa bought the three of us popcorn and drinks. The wink she threw me as she handed me my small tub told me we’d be talking later. After Kev had received his, he stared down as if trying to figure out what it was.

  “Dude, you can’t go to the theater and not eat popcorn,” Chrissa told him as we made our way down the hall.

  “This is food?” he whispered.

  His warm breath brushed against my ear, sending a shiver through me as my heart raced. Kev chuckled as he made to steal some popcorn from my tub, only I was faster than he was and managed to avoid his reaching hand.

  “Scavenger.”

  When he tried again, I sent my elbow into his ribs causing him to grunt. My narrowed gaze, and his sore ribs, kept him from attempting a third time.

  He groaned as he rubbed his abdomen where I’d hit him. “Dad always said never take food from a hungry female.”

  “You should have listened to him.”

  “Yes, I should have.”

  “Maybe I should just leave you two alone?” Chrissa asked with a sly smile directed at me as we entered the large theater to find our seats.

  “Absolutely not. He’s just being a pain in my butt.”

  “Is that the same as when I drive you crazy?”

  “Yeah, pretty much the same thing.”

  “Good.”

  “Smarty pants.”

  Chrissa’s loud laugh filled the room and earned her a few irritated stares as the movie previews were playing. She picked a row, and we followed after her. “You two should sit in the back and make out during this thing.”

  She was so getting the wrong idea.
r />   “What’s make out?” Kev whispered as we took our seats in the middle of a row close to the front. It was a little too close for me, but Chrissa didn’t seem to mind as she sat back and chowed down on her popcorn, her eyes glued to the previews.

  “Ask your mom. Now, eat your popcorn or I’ll force it down your throat.”

  He chuckled, but listened and popped a few pieces into his mouth. As he chewed his face contorted and by the time he swallowed he was glaring at the container of popcorn in his hand. My shoulders shook as I tried to suppress a giggle as the movie started.

  “You like this?” he whispered next to my ear.

  When the shaking subsided, and I could breathe without worrying about another wave of laughter coming on, I responded.

  “Shush. It’s not nice to talk during the movie. And yes, I love it. Can you eat at least half of it?”

  Kev continued to glare at the popcorn but tossed another handful in his mouth. The bright light from the movie illuminated his face, and his grimace, as he chewed. My hand stifled another fit of giggles as I turned my attention to the movie and my own popcorn. I’d enjoy it for both of us. The taste of the butter and salt helped to dampen the odors throughout the room, both human and non-human smells.

  Halfway through the show, my popcorn was gone, and the intensity of the movie had me sitting on the edge of my seat. My hands worried the hem of my shirt as the actor on screen walked into a creepy, dark cabin in the middle of the night with the wind blowing and clouds covering the moon. It was your stereotypical Hollywood move.

  “Don’t go in the house, you dummy,” Chrissa mumbled to my right.

  That did nothing to lessen the tension in my body. Something was going to happen, and as I watched the actor move through the front door and down the dark, cobweb-infested hallway with only a flashlight, my thoughts raced to every possible scenario that could befall him.

  All it took was a poke in the side from Chrissa to release my building anticipation in the form of a blood-curdling scream, which I smothered, as I shot backward in my chair. My other hand grabbed the armrest in a death grip as I stared at my best friend with wide eyes. Her eyes were just as wide since I’d scared the crap out of her, and probably everyone within ten seats of me.

  Laughter from various locations around the room made my cheeks heat in a solid blush as I sunk as low as I could into my chair.

  “I see why you don’t like horror movies,” Chrissa muttered as she turned back to the movie, still shaking her head at me.

  And this wasn’t even a horror movie. It was a bit more suspenseful than I liked, but so not a horror movie.

  Kev leaned close to my ear, his increased minty scent in the air relieving the rest of the tension in my muscles.

  “Are you all right?”

  Not trusting my voice yet, I nodded to him.

  “Good. Now, can I have my hand back? You have quite the grip.”

  I stared down at the armrest. My hand was not just holding it for dear life, but Kev’s hand as well which had been resting there before my almost heart attack. Removing my hand, I whispered a quiet apology and wished I could do more than cower in my seat as my ears heated like the rest of my face.

  He removed his hand from under mine and flexed his fingers. “That’s okay. Do you want my food? Will that help you feel better?”

  “Sure.”

  As he handed me what was left of his popcorn, which was over half full, I thought about our conversation the day before when he had offered to share his snack of songbirds with me. From his small smile now, he was happy that I was accepting his invitation to share food this time.

  I survived the rest of the movie without any more embarrassing moments. When the movie ended, a few people clapped, but most everyone else stood to leave. We let the majority of the room’s population leave before standing ourselves and heading out. No one looked at me oddly, which I had expected, so either they’d forgotten about the whole incident, or they didn’t know it was me who’d screamed like a lunatic.

  Chrissa jerked her thumb toward the women’s bathroom after we stepped out into the crowded hall. “I’ll be right back. You two behave yourselves.”

  “Well that was an interesting experience,” Kev said, as we maneuvered down the hall to sit on a bench near the women’s bathroom door. The bench wasn’t long, which forced us to sit right next to one another so that our legs and arms grazed if we shifted slightly. I tried not to shift.

  “Kev, she’s going to want to know about you. What should I tell her?”

  “Shouldn’t you tell her the truth?”

  “I didn’t want to tell her without asking you about it first.”

  His eyebrows drew low as he studied my face. “Why would it be a problem to tell her?”

  “Because half the town still hates weregals and would hunt you down if she said anything and the wrong person found out.”

  “I see.” He sat back against the wall. “If you trust her, tell her.”

  “You’re sure?”

  “Yes. She’s your friend, and I can tell she cares about you. I don’t think she would say anything if you asked her not to.”

  “What are you doing here tonight, anyway? How’d you know where to find me?”

  “I followed you. Well, I followed your scent.”

  I nodded to him. “Hey, do you want something to drink?”

  “You’re thirsty?”

  “Yeah, I finished my water before I ate your popcorn, so I’m a bit parched. I was going to go get another water bottle, and I’ll grab you one too if you want one.”

  “That would be nice. Thank you.” I moved to stand, but he stopped me with a hand on my shoulder. “I don’t have any money with me, but I could go get it for you. Would that be okay?”

  “Yeah, that would be nice.”

  While he waited, I dug in my back pocket for my money and gave him a few bills to cover our order. With the money in hand, he headed down the hall toward the concession stand while I continued to wait for Chrissa to reappear from the bathroom. From the amount of voices coming from inside, it was going to be a while before she got through the line.

  “So, you do date, just not anyone from school,” a familiar, whiny voice said to me as Michael sat down, occupying Kev’s empty seat. That was a bit too close for comfort, especially since he smelled of burned popcorn, bleach, and sweaty money. If the whole hallway didn’t smell like that, I might have smelled him coming.

  “What are you talking about?”

  “That guy you’re with. There’s no way he’s in high school.”

  “No, he’s not in high school, and we aren’t dating. He’s a friend.”

  “Friends? Right.”

  “Why do you care?”

  Michael turned to face me on the bench, placing his hand against the wall to steady himself as he leaned in closer. “Well, if you and he are just friends, what do you say you and me go catch something to eat after my shift ends in ten minutes?”

  My first thought was to laugh when he mentioned catching something to eat. He didn’t have a clue that Kev literally could catch a meal for me. My next thought wasn’t very nice.

  “Sorry, Michael, I’m not interested.”

  “But you don’t even know me.”

  He leaned closer which forced me to tip back. There wasn’t enough of the bench left on that side of me to use a hand for support, so I prayed I wouldn’t fall backward.

  “And I’m not in the mood to get to know you. Can you please back up?”

  To him, that was an invitation to move closer. His mouth was close enough to me that I could smell his breath, and I didn’t even want to know what he’d eaten that smelled that horrible.

  Before I could yell at him to back up and go away, a hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him away from me. Two water bottles landed in my lap as Kev hauled Michael from his seat on the bench.

  A few passersby in the hall stopped and stared as Kev turned his victim to face him. This wouldn’t turn out go
od for any of us if Kev slugged Michael, though I wouldn’t complain, so I stood and moved to get Kev’s attention. He didn’t take his eyes off the boy standing several inches shorter than him.

  “I believe Joey asked you to back up.” Kev didn’t wait for a response but sent a finger straight into Michael’s chest. “You will leave now.”

  I didn’t have the full-on view of an angry weregal that Michael had at the moment, but I’d experienced it yesterday, so I knew the wet your pants kind of fear he was feeling right about then. All he could do was nod, which was enough for Kev. Michael fled down the hall the moment he was released from Kev’s grip. I doubted Kev even needed to warn him not to come near me again, not that he had a chance with how fast his prey ran away.

  Waiting for Kev to turn around, I held the water bottles tight in my hands and studied the people still milling in the hall. One woman in her mid-fifties asked if I was okay. After assuring her that I was fine multiple times, she finally looked convinced enough to continue down the hall, giving Kev a wide berth. He was still watching the hall in the direction Michael had fled.

  I expected to see a frown on Kev’s face, or concern when he turned around. What I was not expecting were the grin and bright eyes that lit up his face. They quickly faded when he caught my frown.

  “Are you all right?”

  “Yeah, I’m fine. I just wish that he’d leave me alone. First, he makes fun of me at school, and now he wants to take me on a date. And let’s not even talk about his breath.”

  That startled a chuckle from Kev as he sat back on the bench and patted the space next to him for me to sit. I obeyed without needing a follow-up invitation and handed him his water, which he promptly opened and guzzled. Now that I had water, I wasn’t all that thirsty after Michael’s interruption, but I took a few swallows to calm my tense nerves. However, Michael’s scent clung to my memory, and I couldn’t shake the atrociousness of it.

  “Kev, this may be awkward, but would you mind if I sniff you? Like, close? I need to get rid of his scent.”

  He lifted his arm over my head and rested it along my shoulders. With a gentle tug, he pulled me closer into a sideways hug, which made my sniffing look natural. I’d regret it later, but right then I needed to clear my nose of Michael’s odor, and the only good way I could think of was to fill it with Kev’s scent. Sure I could already smell it, but I needed it potent. It was like getting a bad taste in my mouth and needing something far better and stronger to get it out.

  Kev’s strong, minty scent filled my nose as I laid my head against his shoulder and took in a deep breath. It was becoming my security blanket, always there to comfort me. At that thought I pulled away, abruptly ending my sniffing. I didn’t need to become attached to him or his scent. When he left, and he would, I’d be left empty and without a way to cope with my problems. I needed to rely on myself, and I didn’t need to use him as a crutch.

  “I see he’s still alive. I was wondering if I’d have to pick up pieces of his dismembered body from the floor.”

  My nose was failing me tonight. First I didn’t smell Michael because he smelled like the building, and now I’d allowed Chrissa to sneak up on us because I’d had my nose full of Kev’s scent. And the scene she walked in on no doubt looked more intimate than it was.

  “This isn’t how it looks.”

  “Really?”

  “Michael caught me alone and started being his usual charming self. Then Kev drove him off.”

  “Uh huh. So what’s with his arm around you and you leaning on his shoulder bit?”

  Were we really having this discussion in front of Kev? I looked to him for help, but all he did was arch an eyebrow at me. If I were him, I’d still be wondering why I’d pulled away so fast a moment ago, like he’d suddenly burst into flames.

  “I think it’s time to go.” I stood, and Kev followed.

  “Yeah, you’re probably right. Time for some ice cream and you can tell me all about what I missed…or caught.”

  She giggled as my eyes rolled at her. A teenage boy walking past us walked straight into a large artificial plant, almost knocking it over.

  “Now what?” Kev asked, stepping outside and holding the door for us girls.

  “Now you go home, and we finish our girl’s night.”

  I wasn’t in the mood to have him along now that I’d had the revelation of using him as my security. If he wasn’t around, I couldn’t do it. Chrissa was also giving me the “we need to talk look” and I wasn’t going to have that talk in front of Kev. He may hear it if he chose to follow us, but at least he wouldn’t be a part of the discussion.

  “Come on, Joey, he can join us for ice cream, right? After all, I wasn’t able to ask him questions during the movie. If he’s your ‘friend’,” she made quote marks in the air with her fingers, “then I need to get to know him.”

  “Chrissa, it’s hard to have ‘girl talk,’” I made air quotes of my own, “when a guy is there, especially ‘the guy’ you want to talk about.”

  “Gotcha. Okay, well sorry there, buddy, but it’s gonna be a girl’s night ice cream stop after all.” She smiled wide as she extended her hand to Kev for a goodbye handshake. It was also another excuse for her to touch him.

  Swallowing my temper tantrum before it even got started, I reminded myself that Kev was a friend, and a friend I didn’t want to get too close to. I was still trying to convince myself of this when he turned from Chrissa’s handshake and nodded to me. It was my turn to say goodnight.

  “Well, I guess I’ll be seeing you.”

  “Tomorrow?” His eyes lit as he spoke, and his minty freshness caught my nose. All resolve went out the window.

  “Maybe. Sure. Usual place?”

  He nodded. “I’ll meet you at the road.”

  “Okay. See you.”

  He nodded again and turned to leave. Chrissa intervened, her loud voice carrying over the parking lot.

  “Hold up, people. That’s not a goodbye. You,” she pointed her finger at Kev, “get back over here and give her a proper hug goodbye. You two are hopeless.”

  “I don’t think she wants me to hug her,” Kev said slowly, watching me with wary eyes for confirmation.

  “Dude, you were practically hugging her inside. Just put your arms around her and say goodnight.”

  He watched me for several seconds, and about the time I thought he’d turn away again, he took a step toward me. Instead of moving backward like I was telling them to, my feet took a few steps toward him, closing the gap between us.

  His arms wrapped around my shoulders as mine clung to his waist. My security blanket surrounded me. I caught myself before I could sigh and cause another embarrassing moment of the evening. As we pulled apart, Kev cupped my face in his large, calloused hands.

  “Are you sure you’re all right? You were pretty upset after what happened with the cub.”

  “Yeah, I’m fine. I just want ice cream. It’ll help.”

  Ice cream and chocolate helped everything. Okay, junk food, in general, helped everything.

  His arms dropped as he told us both goodnight again, then he turned and walked through the parking lot.

  “Which car is his?”

  Before she could get too nosy, I grabbed her by the elbow, dragging her to Honeybee. She complained for show, still trying to catch a glimpse of him walking amongst the trucks and vans parked in the next row over.

  “He doesn’t have a car, now get in.”

  “What do you mean he doesn’t have a car?”

  “Get in and I’ll tell you.”

  She jumped in, slamming her door, eyes never leaving me as I crawled in and buckled up. Her own seatbelt still hung along the seat, forgotten, as she waited for my explanation as to why we were leaving him carless in a parking lot.

  “Spill.”

  “Kev is a weregal.”

 
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