22 of March, 2021 – 3:40 PM
The end of day bell couldn’t have sounded any sooner. I had my bag packed up before it rang, and I practically ran out of my Media Studies class and out of the elective building. My phone was in my hands, my thumb swiping through my notifications to my most recent text message:
‘I’m waiting at the cafe across the street.’
At least she isn’t late, I half-smirked. Though I can only imagine the number of traffic laws she violated in order to arrive in time.
I paused at the bottom of the school’s front steps and glanced back over my shoulder. That didn’t sound like Helena or Lilly. Who–?
I stifled a groan when the kid who called me descended the steps. It was Dane Cash, with a goofy grin on his face. I frowned. What does he want?
“Hey,” he repeated once he was within earshot. I took a step toward the street, dismayed when he followed. “You, uh, doing anything after school?”
“I’m meeting my sister,” I said, my tone dripping with disinterest. The last thing I wanted was this boy to think I was interested in him. “Later.”
I began walking across the street when I felt a hand grip my upper arm, holding me back. “Hey! What’s your problem?” Dane shouted. “I’m talking to you!”
“Yeah, well, I don’t want to talk to you!” I shouted back, trying to yank my arm away. He was stronger than he looked. “Let go of me, now.”
Dane scoffed and eyed me up and down. He easily towered over me at five-foot-seven. “There’s no way a shrimp like you whooped a senior’s ass. What actually happened?”
I scowled. “That’s none of your business.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “What’s your deal? You’re a quiet little nobody who sits in the back of the class. You should be happy I’m even talking to you.”
“Color me ecstatic,” I quipped sarcastically. I tugged at my arm again, only for him to hold me in place and grab my face, studying it with renewed interest.
“I guess you’re cute,” he whispered so low that only I could hear. “I know a place around here that’s quiet, not a lot of people. Let’s go.”
Panic and anger built up inside of me. Who the hell does this asshole think he is?! I yanked with all my strength, but Dane was beginning to lead me toward the church. I desperately tried to make eye contact with some of the other students that passed us by, but I recognized none of them. They all just averted their eyes and kept walking.
You fucking cowards! I screamed internally, my eyes shut tight as I struggled against him. You mortals are all a bunch of fucking cowards–
Another hand pried Dane’s fingers off my arm. I opened my eyes and gasped. “Jett–?”
Helena rushed to my side, colliding with me in a tight embrace. She broke away almost immediately, her eyes scanning my body for any sign of injury. “Are you okay? Did he hurt you?”
I said nothing; I was too transfixed on the scene that was playing out before me.
The junior had my attacker by the collar, raised so high his feet no longer touched the ground. Dane struggled against the werewolf’s grasp, both hands on Jett’s arm.
“Whoa whoa whoa! Hey, take it easy, bro–”
“I ain’t your ‘bro’,” Jett warned the freshman. Then his head jutted in my direction as he added, “And she ain’t goin’ nowhere with you. Got it?”
“Y-Yeah, sure! Whatever you say, br–uh, man!”
“Good.” Jett set the mortal back down, his expression seething. “I catch you tryna take another girl like that, you gonna wish you weren’t born. Hear me?”
“Yes, sir!” Dane cowered. He hurriedly picked up his backpack and ran off without a backwards glance.
Jett huffed and turned back to Helena and me. “You alright, Cari?”
I nodded. “I, uh… I think so. Thanks.”
He shook his head. “Nah, it’s no problem. Where you headed? I’ll walk with you.”
“We both will,” Helena promised.
“O-Okay,” I conceded, too stunned to speak. We stood in an awkward silence until Helena piped up.
“Um, Cari? You have to tell us where you’re headed.”
“Oh, right.” I told them about my plans to meet Val at the cafe across the street, and our walk commenced. Helena kept her arm linked with mine, while Jett stood on my opposite side, ever vigilant. “How did you guys know where I was and what was going on?”
Helena and Jett shared a wide-eyed glance before looking off in opposite directions. I frowned at their reactions. “What is it?”
“I-I saw Dane go up to you, and I went and got Jett,” Helena confessed. Our eyes met briefly as she added: “I saw your aura. It looked bad–like when you beat Jude.”
I blinked. “That bad? Wait–my aura was different then?”
She nodded. “Your normal reddish-purple was almost black.”
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