When Logan walked into the mess hall that evening, he stopped in amazement. He had been fully prepared to see the creatures sitting amongst the recruits, eating their various meals like the humans, but seeing it for himself was a bit different. The sight of the werewolf, Lyle, and the leprechaun, Liam, consuming their food while surrounded by the human recruits almost had Logan retreating to his room.
His head was now in a better place, though, and he was able to walk up to the counter. He still felt as if he was in a bubble, but the shock of last night had worn off over the afternoon and Logan was able to look at everything a little clearer.
Well, maybe not everything.
As he grabbed his tray from the counter, Logan scanned the room for Pepper, but didn’t find her anywhere in the mess hall. He found himself disappointed, yet a little bit grateful. It was probably better if he didn’t see her, especially after his dream.
Deciding he really didn’t want to be alone given it was his first meal with everyone, Logan made his way over to where Mack and AJ sat at a table by themselves. Even though he wasn’t sure if they were on the level, they were the only people he knew.
“Hey there,” said AJ as he stepped up to their table. “Sit.”
Logan set his tray down on the table next to Mack, across from AJ, and then sat down on the hard bench. He picked up his fork and began to eat his pasta.
Mack spoke through a mouthful of food, which Logan just managed to interpret. “Where have you been all day?”
“I slept late,” Logan told him, feeling too embarrassed to say it was because what he witnessed last night had kept him awake. “Lunch was almost over, so I just hung out in my room.”
AJ paused with a forkful of food headed towards her mouth. “You should have come and found us. We were just hanging out in Mack’s room.”
“I’m in B12,” Mack informed him.
“And I’m in B16,” AJ added.
“Yeah, I think that’s just across the hall from me.”
AJ nodded. “You must be in B7 then. That was Bryce’s old room. He became a guard a couple of weeks ago.”
Logan’s eyebrows rose. “So recruits can become guards?”
“Yeah, they can,” answered Mack. “But it’s only for those who really play by the rules.”
“And for those who majorly suck up.” AJ shoved her fork into her mouth and smiled at Mack.
Logan looked down, feeling a little uncomfortable, and he got back to eating his pasta. When he glanced up again, it was in time to see the Psychic enter the mess hall.
I didn’t know she ate with us, he thought to himself as he watched her.
The Psychic finished loading food onto a tray and with the maroon plastic cradled in her hands, she headed towards the back of the room. As she moved down the aisle, she didn’t look at anyone. She kept her head bowed and her ponytail bobbed almost sadly as she walked. When she sat down at one of the back tables, Logan returned to his food.
He felt embarrassed at the sight of her because of what she knew about him, but he was also curious. Logan wouldn’t mind asking her about what she could do, and perhaps also about what AJ and Mack had said and if Gerard was using her. He had to admit she intrigued him, and what better way to find out what he was wondering than to ask her?
Approaching the Psychic in front of AJ and Mack probably wasn’t a good idea. Logan was just wondering if he would be able to catch up with her after dinner when someone else entered the mess hall. Logan hadn’t seen the young man who stepped up to the counter before, but he had a pretty good idea who he was.
Logan watched him as he moved away from the counter with his tray. His black hair was a scruffy mess and stubble covered his jaw, but this wasn’t why Logan knew who he was. It was the way he moved, how his black eyes stared intensely across the room. There was something animal about him. Something clearly wild and it was emphasized in that moment as he resembled a predator stalking its prey.
A shiver ran down Logan’s back, and he followed Zane with his eyes as the werewolf walked past. He moved to the back of the room and Logan could see the direction of his intense gaze now. The Psychic.
Zane moved behind the Psychic, his eyes locked on her, and he placed his tray on the table before he sat next to her. Logan saw the Psychic visibly stiffen then lower the forkful of food that had been on its way to her mouth.
Zane picked up a piece of food from his own tray and ripped into the chunk of meat with his teeth. He chewed slowly, his eyes never leaving the Psychic. Logan could see she was clearly uncomfortable and as he watched, Zane brought his face close to her neck and purposefully sniffed along her skin.
The Psychic dropped her fork. She stood, picking up her tray before she moved away from the table. Zane bit into his food once more and continued to watch the Psychic as she went and sat down on the other side of the room. He remained where he was, but never took his eyes off her.
This must have been what AJ meant when she said Zane directed his crazy at someone who deserved it.
Logan opened his mouth to ask AJ and Mack about what he just witnessed, but stopped himself. Maybe this was something he could ask the Psychic when he got the chance to speak to her. Logan wasn’t sure yet if the Psychic deserved the attentions of a crazy werewolf, but he would soon find out.
Penny left the mess hall before Logan could find an opportunity to speak to her and headed straight to her room. If Zane saw him speaking to her it would be bad, but she also didn’t want to answer his questions.
He was confused about Penny and intrigued. He wanted to know about what AJ and Mack had said and if Thomas was using her, but Penny couldn’t answer either of those questions, so she needed to stay away from him.
As Penny closed her bedroom door behind her, she focused on Logan’s thoughts for a moment to find them still on her, full of curiosity. His thoughts were different than those that people usually had about her, and very different to the other male whose thoughts were on her.
Zane was thinking about her. He always thought about her and his thoughts always had a possessive edge. She was his, according to him.
It had been this way since he became a werewolf. When he was just a recruit, his only thoughts towards Penny were similar to Logan’s in thinking she was being used by Thomas. There had been an instant when he first arrived at the estate where Penny thought she saw something else in his mind, but it was gone before she could focus. Now his thoughts towards her were constant.
As Penny stood in the middle of her bedroom, she remembered the moment Zane’s thoughts became something more. It was two months after he was bitten in the arena and Penny was eating dinner in the mess hall when she heard someone think her name.
Penny looked up. At the front of the mess hall stood Zane. It was the first time she had seen him since his transformation and as she met his eyes, his thoughts assaulted her. They rushed into her mind, like the flood gates of a dam opening, and she found herself struggling for breath.
It’s a joke. It has to be a joke, she told herself, but even as she tried to convince herself of this, she began to suspect it wasn’t. Zane’s thoughts were too clear and strong.
Then the vision hit her, and Penny knew it was no joke.
Penny gasped and she clutched the edge of the table until she felt her fingers cramp. The rapid flash of images, sound, and feeling was over quickly, but Penny saw enough. She blinked hard to keep the tears from her eyes and tried to steady herself.
When Penny managed to focus, she saw that Zane was now halfway across the mess hall. He walked towards her and she trembled, glued to the spot, too afraid to move. His eyes never left Penny as he sat down beside her. His gaze absorbed her and with the aid of his new enhanced senses, he inhaled her scent. Apple and raspberry flooded his lungs and as Zane stared at her, she could do nothing but stare back in confusion and shock. His thoughts were a hurricane against her own mind, but they were unmistakable. He loved her. She was his and he would wait forever for her if he had to.
Penny had been stunned. She was stunned even now, nine months later. It was clear he believed himself to be in love with her, but she didn’t know how. He gave no indication before he turned and now he was to the point of being obsessed. To others, it seemed as if he already was.
Zane found it hard to convey his feelings. Found it hard to be around her without smelling her hair or needing to touch her. It made Penny uncomfortable, and she usually couldn’t stand it for very long. Gena suggested she not eat in the mess hall, which Penny once tried, but Zane became too unruly, too dangerous. Gena’s next suggestion was for Zane to be ‘taken care of’ as she had put it, but Thomas wouldn’t allow harm to come to any of his collection, and Penny was thankful. She knew Gena was only concerned Zane would hurt her, but she didn’t want anything bad to happen to him because of her. Even if...
Penny closed her eyes and swallowed deeply. She breathed slowly, allowing her mind to touch those of everyone in the estate and filter for any sign of trouble. She settled it there, able to catch a glimpse of everyone’s thoughts, Zane’s now only one amongst the many.
Penny opened her eyes and caught her reflection in the mirror. She looked closer.
What does he even see in me? she wondered, unable to keep her own thoughts away from Zane.
At twenty-one years old, Zane had more options when it came to women than a sixteen year old who could barely be near him without needing to escape. Even if he was a werewolf. Before he was turned, Zane was a very popular fantasy for the female recruits. Even now he appealed to some of them, and more so to the female creatures. Except for Pepper. Her only fantasy of Zane was that of strangling him.
Penny smiled as she thought of Pepper, but the smile quickly slid from her lips. She sighed. Pepper was currently in lock up for unnecessarily injuring a recruit. Penny would like to think she only did it because it was in her nature, something she couldn’t fight, but Penny knew it wasn’t the case. She couldn’t be upset with Pepper, though, because she had every right to act out.
Penny sighed once more, but then the smile slowly returned to her mouth.
If I looked like her, it would explain why Zane liked me. Logan sure noticed Pepper. Penny’s smile widened at the thought.
A knock sounded on her bedroom door and Penny jumped at the noise. She pressed a hand to her hammering heart as she spun to face the door. “Yes?”
The door opened, and a curtain of black hair appeared in the crack just before Gena’s face. “Are you feeling okay?”
Penny lowered her arm to her side. “Yeah, I’m fine, why?”
Gena took a step inside the room. “You came upstairs early, so I thought you might be coming down with something.”
“I’m not sick,” she told Gena as she moved towards her bed. “I just had to get out of there.”
“Ah,” said Gena, understanding at least half the reason why Penny came upstairs early. “You better not go out on your balcony, if your tolerance for Zane is low tonight.”
Gena just smiled and turned to leave. “Goodnight, Penny.”
“Night,” murmured Penny as Gena closed the door behind her.
Penny changed into her pajamas, but she didn’t intend on going to sleep just yet. She switched off her light and in the glow of the bedside lamp, Penny made her way to the bed, grabbing a book from her desk on the way. She set the hardbound novel on the bedside table then moved to pull back her covers. As her hand grasped the comforter and the cotton sheet, she stopped. Penny bit her lip and her eyes strayed to the balcony. She knew she shouldn’t go out there, but she was curious to find out what Gena was talking about.
Unable to help herself, Penny made her way to the balcony door. She pushed aside the lace curtain then pulled the door open. As the evening air touched her bare arms, she stepped out onto the balcony.
There he was.
Zane walked back and forth on the grass beneath her balcony with his hands in his pockets and his shoulders hunched. Penny watched him for a few seconds, stunned. As she watched, his nose lifted and his nostrils flared as he sniffed. He turned to face her.
Penny’s breath caught and goose bumps dotted her flesh as Zane locked eyes with her. He stopped walking and now just stared at her.
Penny managed to find her breath. “Please go away.”
Zane shook his head. He wasn’t much for words, but his thoughts were getting louder and louder.
“Please. I don’t want you to just stand out here,” she added. It was unsettling, but Penny also didn’t want Zane to waste his whole night standing outside her bedroom.
The problem was, Zane wanted to. He wanted to be near her.
I didn’t see you yesterday, Penny heard in her mind, Zane’s words etched with a hint of desperation. I haven’t seen you much tonight. This is my only option.
He stared up at her, his expression taking on the look of a wounded animal, and finally, Penny exhaled.
“Fine, but I’m going to bed.”
The corner of Zane’s mouth curved into a half smile and Penny turned away. She walked back inside her room then closed the door.
This last thought of Zane’s brought Penny to a halt as she crossed her room, and she almost found herself smiling in reaction.
With her mouth firmly turned down into a frown, Penny got into bed. She grabbed her book then snuggled beneath the covers as she opened it. As Penny began to read, she let herself get lost in the words on the page, the feel of the paper against her fingers, and the smell of the book. She was trying her hardest to ignore Zane’s presence outside her bedroom, knowing he would remain there until the estate went into lockdown.
© 2012 Jade Fowler