Six months passed quicker than I expected. I still haven’t made any friends, but I had gotten used to one of the twins replacing Denny at my locker since I had ensured they ate good food at lunch; they helped me with my locker, and it was almost like we were friends again. “I heard you were taking your exit exams this weekend.” Atlas said, lifting me to put my crap away for the day. I chuckled at his attempt to small talk. They had been having random conversations with me lately, and I hate to admit I enjoyed it. “Yeah…
I’m kind of nervous.” I spoke truthfully, just not about what caused the nerves. I had settled into this weird routine here over the last six months, and being around Denny and the twins all the time was normal for me now. It was even nice. “What reason would you have to be nervous little bird? You are… brilliant.” He whispered the last word making the chills I’ve grown used to them giving me break out across my skin. “I know. But I also know I don’t think I am ready for college at sixteen… but wouldn’t it be a mistake not to use that opportunity?” he shrugged at my question. “Is it not more important to have comfort than to lose an opportunity that will still be there in two years?” his question held my interest. “Is it?” I asked as he sat me back on my feet. “Harley, I have been groomed for my life for a very long time. At least you have a choice.
You should make it based on what you want and no one else.” He said, looking me so deeply in the eye that I could just barely breathe. Is it more important? Wouldn’t future me appreciate the work when we could be settled with a good education and a career at twenty, or would she be pissed that I didn’t do more for us? I found out today the exam was changed to this afternoon instead of Saturday. So as I prepared to sit on that cold metal desk, I weighed the importance of what I wanted. Just because I don’t go to college right away doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ace this test… but if I ace it, doesn’t that mean my life goes back to no twins and not as much time with Denny? I wandered the halls looking for Den… or maybe even one of the twins. I prayed I would run into someone who could remedy the nerves causing my stomach to clench. I rounded the corner, hoping to catch Denny at his locker when the door into the same classroom I saw Atlas pounding the blonde in was cracked again, but this time it was raging whisper screams pouring from it instead of the pleasurable ones. I turned to leave, but my feet wouldn’t move as Axel’s silky voice washed over me. “She is just a f*****g aggravation. Why are you so threatened by her?” I didn’t think my heart could beat harder until a female’s voice came from the darkened room. “I am anything but threatened by that little freak. But you and Atlas are with her constantly.
He doesn’t want to have s*x with me anymore, and every time I mention her, he snaps at me.” So Atlas takes up for me? “For f***s sake. She is just a little obnoxious girl with a silly f*****g crush that means nothing. She means NOTHING!” Atlas yelled. He was there too. Hot tears pricked in my eyes, my brain repeating that one word as my feet dragged me towards the testing room. Nothing… nothing… nothing. My mind is made up. I had to ace this test, and I was stupid to lose sight of that in the first place. I cleaned my face off, pushing aside those nagging feelings of insecurity and insignificance. I aced that test; I know that without a doubt. I just won’t have it in writing until Monday. After I closed out, I packed myself from that room, feeling like cement had been poured into my shoes. Denny, Atlas, and Axel were all three waiting there for me. All three wore big smiles while I exited the room fighting off the tears and the snot. “What’s wrong?” Denny entered protective big brother mode at my bright red face and bloodshot eyes. I ran my fingers through my shoulder-length hair, unable to take my eyes off the twins. “You both are arrogant jackasses to assume my being friendly with you was me having a ‘silly f*****g crush.’ I mistakenly assumed two big brave alphas could ever be friends with a NOTHING like me.” I yelled that ugly word with as much soul and anger as Atlas held when he spat it about me. I let my tears flow freely, unable to stop them anymore. “Take me home, Denny.” Atlas’s jaw was tight, ticking with everything he wasn’t brave enough to tell me.
They were my friends. I know that. We shared too many little conversations about things other people wouldn’t understand, and you don’t share that with anyone. But it is what it is. I won’t make that same mistake a third time. I stayed in bed the weekend despite my family and the twins trying to get me to go to their birthday party. I didn’t want to see them right now. I still can’t be sure why I feel so strongly about something stupid, but the reality is… I do have a silly crush.
The way they smell, their smiles, their beautiful faces, and their brains. I love all of it, and I still feel hurt by their words and the loss of their friendship, so I want to sleep in my bed until the hurt doesn’t feel so thick and suffocating anymore. Monday rolled by all too quickly, and Den drove me to school early so I could see if my name was on the exiting list or not. If it is, I will go back home. If it isn’t, I have to stay and face them, and I am not ready for that. I wore a forest green sun dress and flats. I tied my shoulder-length black hair in a half updo, and honestly, I have no idea why I dressed up, but I did. I took a deep breath before stepping in. The halls were still dark. This early, the only people here are custodial staff and sports teams with scheduled practice. So I made my way to the list, ignoring the rock in my chest that had been there since Friday. When my name caught my eye, I was wrapped in the smell of something I couldn’t put my finger on, but it made the rock disappear. My shoulders relaxed, and my wolf stopped clawing at me. My whole being was at peace, and the moment I tried to relax, I was slammed into the office in front of me. “Mate.” In unison, was growled behind me as two hard, sweating bodies turned the handle, pushing me into the room. The scent. It was the twins… they are eighteen now… for goddess’ sake. “What? No. No. No.” I said, pointing at them when I saw the look in their eyes. They are disappointed. Unhappy. “Little bird.” Atlas murmured with his eyes locked on me. Atlas whispered something in Axel’s ear as he stepped out of the office. I couldn’t describe how I felt as we stood silently, locked on each other.
I tried to decipher the emotions raging in his eyes, but he was blank… or maybe angry. Then, finally, Axel returned with his face set in hard unreadable lines as he whispered into his brother’s ear. “No. I don’t want to do that.” Atlas reared back, looking into his brother’s eyes. Axel only nodded. What felt like a lifetime passed until both exhaled a shaky breath before being able to even look at me. “We, the future alpha of the Clearwater pack, hereby reject you, Harley Grace Ashwood as our mate and Luna.” I felt like a ton truck had parked on my chest. My heart had been ripped from my chest, and with one inaudible whisper, my wolf was gone too. I ran past them, dodging their hands that were reaching out for me. I ran and ran hard. I busted through the double doors into the parking lot and the tree line. I have no idea where I am going, but I won’t turn around. Shift, damn it. Shift! No matter how much I call her forward, she will not come to me. She’s gone. I lost my shoes somewhere when I ran out of them, but the cuts on my feet don’t even burn right now. I ran up into a tree, praying I would be safe from them there. Until I wasn’t. Their strong arms and massive legs climbed the tree like it was nothing, experiencing none of the struggles I had. I leaped from the tree. I have to get away from them. The flames are consuming me, the pain of the rejection too much as my feet hit the ground. My brain said to run, but I collapsed. Their feet came into my sight. My lungs were heaving, and I wanted to vomit, but nothing left me, no matter how much I gagged. My tears and snot are all over my face, and I feel completely shattered. “Little bird. Let’s just talk, please. This isn’t what we wanted.” Axel pleaded with me like he hadn’t just torn my heart out and stomped on it. “Leave me alone. It is clearly what the both of you wanted, and now you have it.” I barked. “Harley, it is better this way, sweetheart. You are still so young. It is better to do this now while you don’t have your wolf’s bond. It won’t hurt so much.” Atlas said as he reached out, letting his fingertips graze my shoulder. The sparks that were supposed to put my wolf at ease aren’t there anymore. She isn’t there anymore. “We need you to listen, Little Bird. Our father is here.
He wants us to walk you into the territory gap. That would be certain death for you, Harley. Despite the rejection, you must trust us enough to know we don’t want anything bad to happen to you.” I scoffed at that nonsense, considering they had hurt me worse than anything else ever could. But he just continued. “We will put you on a path into a pack territory that will care for you. But you have to keep going this way, and you will go straight into the Evergreen territory. We are so sorry little bird, but this is for the best.” Axel said through gritted teeth. Things blurred on the walk. The sun was high now. Where was Denny? Why didn’t he come for me? Instead, they sent me through the forest just like they said, with only my ripped dress and no shoes. My tears and snot streaked my face, and blood had dried on my skin, crunching under my movement. I am still determining if I am on the right path, but the sun is setting now, and even with the rogues in this forest, I have no fear. My body is beyond exhausted, and between the ache of it and the ache in my chest, the territory gap may have been better. “Harley?” my head snapped up at the call of my name. A tall man with sandy hair and big blue eyes stood a few feet before me. I couldn’t find the voice in my raw throat, so I just nodded. “Did you find her?”
A cute guy around my age jogged up to him, looking toward the man’s eyes. His eyes held pity for me, and I… damn… I hate that look. I stood up straight, holding my head high, avoiding any emotions. I tucked them away tight, feeling only fire, rage, and the anguishing pain in my chest. They both stepped toward me, and I stepped back. “Come on, kiddo. Let’s go home. Okay?” the man said in my direction. Home? My home just rejected me. But I nodded again, stepping towards them. With that pity still, in their eyes, I will never be looked at like that again. This pain and devastation will be felt today and not another day after. Tomorrow… I fight.