Chapter 1

Just one more year Brook, just one more year. That had been my mantra. A constant repetition playing over and over in my head as the school year approached. I stared at my reflection from the mirror on the back of my door. Dark emotions pulled at my shoulders, remembering a time I wore makeup and pretty clothes. Now I chose my clothes based on how well they could hide the bruises from Mom.

Despair tugged at my heart, but I lifted my chin, refusing to let it win. "Just one more year," I said, breaking the silence of my room. Pulling on my gray hoodie, I finger-combed my brown hair into a ponytail and practiced my everything is totally fine smile before going downstairs.

"Morning Baby," Mom said, smiling as she set the plates on the table. "Can you believe it, a senior already?"

I gave her the smile. "Finally, and don't think I've forgotten about this legendary college fund you kept going on about."

The smile fell on Mom's face. Her expression turned cloudy and dark. "Your dad... he... he would've been so proud of you, Brook." Her eyes turned bright with tears.

My throat tightened. Tears stinging my own eyes. I smiled a true smile now, hoping she was right. Thankfully, Harry saved me from having to say anything.

Walking into the kitchen, my step-father, gave my shoulder a squeeze. "She's right. God knows, I'm proud, so he has to be."

Emotion threatened to drown me. In tears was not how I wanted to start the new school year, damn it. I rolled my eyes with every ounce of sass I could manage. "Okay, can we turn down the lifetime movie. Geesh."

Mom laughed. She wiped her eyes, sniffing. "Of course, sorry. Look at me. What a mess."

"You're perfect," Harry told her, kissing her cheek. "Come, let's eat. We all have a busy day ahead of us." She nodded, still brushing her cheeks and we all sat down at the table.

After breakfast, Harry stopped me just outside the house. "Be careful today. Do nothing to embarrass Mike today. Just try to keep your head down and out of his sight."

"Like I don't do that everyday?" Harry's entire face seemed to slump downward at my comment. "Okay, I'll try extra hard today. Promise."

The smile on his face tightened and so brittle it looked like it might crack at any moment. "Thank you and good luck. There'll be an extra-large double chocolate fudge sundae waiting for you when you get home."

"Yes!" I pumped my fist in the air and started walking. Dread replaced my excitement for a chocolate overdose. I had forgotten about this peace treaty arrangement thing. Apparently, Harry's alpha was in a fight with another werewolf pack. To bring peace, Alpha Ryan's daughter would spend some time with the other alpha's, and his son would stay here with Ryan. Sounded pretty stupid to me, but no one cared what I thought. I wasn't pack, only the mistake.

I wondered how bad Mike, Ryan's son would be today. My stomach twisted. Maybe I should have skipped today. If Mike wanted to use me to make an impression, it would be ugly. I brushed my hand over my stomach. Over the summer all the bruises had healed, but I could still feel the dull throb. Okay, the top priority — avoid Mike.

I arrived early at school and managed to beat the usual chaos. I shuddered, remembering my first class. Math. So not fair. Math in the mornings was a crime against nature. Seriously. I spun in the combination to make sure I knew it when a fist slammed into the locker next to mine. I jumped and cried out, turning around. Mike loomed over me.

A sneer slid across his thin lips, brown eyes sparkling with cruel delight. "You know Missy, I don't know why you keep showing up every year?"

Crap on a stick. Well, there goes my plans? With a nervous swallow, I shrugged. I wanted more than anything to give him a snarky comeback, but I valued my life too much.

"What? You forgot how to talk Missy?"

My heart raced as I glared at him. "I can talk just fine, Mike." As his eyes lit up, I realized my mistake.

Growling, Mike grabbed me by the neck. His gripped me so hard I'd have bruises tomorrow. "You don't get to call me by my name! Do I need to remind you of your place?"

Oh, no. This wasn't good. "No, I'm sorry Sir, it was a mistake. It won't happen again,"

Mike laughed a cold hard laugh. One, I was all too familiar with. He jerked me out into the middle of the hall. "Of course it was a mistake. Everything about you is a mistake."

"What's going on?" someone asked from somewhere in the crowd. It was a smooth deep voice that made me shiver. The owner of the voice joined us in the middle of the hallway. Now I'm a down-to-earth type of girl, but this guy took my breath away. He was tall, a body that any athlete would be proud to have, sandy brown hair and the bluest eyes I've ever seen in my life. He was perfect.

"Hey Dean," Mike greeted with a large smile before he pulled me around to face him. "I'm making sure little Missy Mistake here doesn't forget her place." Amusement stark in his voice. "This is Dean Missy; he's a guest of my father. Why don't you say hi?"

I lowered my eyes to the linoleum flooring. This was the other alpha's son? Of course, seeing how my luck goes. It really wasn't fair. Werewolves were faster than we were and had better senses. Why did they get to be beautiful too? "Welcome Sir," I mumbled.

"No," Mike said. "That won't do. Get on your knees and say it."

I almost gasped out loud as I glanced at Mike then to Dean. His blue eyes filled with disgust as he looked at me and I couldn't do it. I refused to humiliate myself anymore today, especially in front of this guy.

I shook my head side to side. "No, I won't."

Mike's eyes flared gold and next thing I knew he slammed his fist into my stomach. All the air rushed out of my lungs, and I fell to my knees.

"Don't you dare tell me you won't again."

I flinched at his harsh tone and the fact he was still holding my neck in a death grip. A little harder and he'd break it.

"Now apologize!"

With no choice, I nodded. "I-I'm sorry, Sir. I was disrespectful and rude. Next time I promise I won't hesitate." My stomach churned. One more year. Just one more year.

Mike laughed and pushed me to the floor as he made a comment to Dean about his skill at training humans or something equally stupid. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered.

I didn't move until they were out of sight and hearing range. With a groan, I pushed myself up. Pain laced through my neck and throbbed in my stomach. The crowd snickered and shook their heads as they went to wherever they were going. I didn't care. They didn't matter. Just one more year. I grabbed my backpack and headed to Math Class.

The day turned out better than it started. I didn't see Mike in the halls at all. I spent lunch in the girl's bathroom to be a hundred percent sure I wouldn't run into him or Dean in the cafeteria. Mike was cruel today, and I couldn't take another session like this morning. I entered my last class. My favorite subject — science. Harry's promise of an extra-large double chocolate fudge sundae made me ready to end the day.

I was the first in the classroom. I choose a nice little seat in the back. This way no one can put gum in my hair or some crap like that. I stared out the window as I waited for the classroom to fill. The bell rang, and I noticed someone sat next to me. Odd. No one ever sits next to me if they can avoid it. Mike didn't want anyone near me or talking to me. I glanced over at the daring fool that would risk Mike's wrath and froze in surprise. It was Dean, Mr. Perfect from this morning. He gave me a small smile that did strange things to pulse and stomach.

I looked back down at my desk. Oh, God. What were he and Mike planning? Seriously, out of all my classes, they had to ruin my favorite? Unfair! I wanted the number of God's customer service because I had a complaint to file with him. I didn't understand it. Mike was unusually cruel, today. I would never understand how picking on the weaker species, make them look better in each other's eyes.

My eyes dropped to the top of my desk and stayed there until the teacher spoke. I tried hard to pay attention to what the plump elderly teacher was saying, but she sounded like a garbled mass of noise. Every glance in his direction, I found Dean watching me. It made me feel like prey. This was bad. They had something planned for me. Whatever it was, it would be nasty.

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