Bad Wolf(2)

By: Jo Raven

In the time we lived on that street, I didn’t manage to find out about him anything more than random details.

Like the fact he has a middle name nobody knows.

That he likes fries dipped in ranch dressing.

And that he hates loud noises. I know because I saw him jump a foot off the ground once when a car tire burst down the street. I teased him about it. He never said a word.

But things were about to change. Our neighborhood was getting worse by the day. We had moved there from our little home town with my sister’s husband to start a new life. Go to college, pursue our dreams. We rented a house there, because it wasn’t far from his parents’ house, and his mother babysat his little kids when we were all out at school or working.

Then gangs encroached on the neighborhood, robberies became the new standard, and assaults became worse.

So we moved away, to a new house, a new neighborhood. A quieter place.

I never saw Jarett again, or Sebastian.

Until today.

Chapter One


“Hurry up,” Sydney hisses, dragging me by the hand through the night club, under the strobing lights. “We’re late.”

“So what? We’re fashionably late.” I tug on her hand, but she’s strong for such a tiny person. “Relax. We’re supposed to be having fun.”

“You’re always about the fun, aren’t you?” She pulls me deeper into the club, like a short, red-haired missile locked on target.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Getting annoyed, I tug my hand harder, freeing it and stumbling back a step on my stilettos. “It’s our night out. Of course I want to have fun. Don’t you?”

“Yes! But if I’m not on time… Seriously, I can’t be late.”

“On time for what? Late for what? God, you’re turning into a grump.” I step farther back, heat seeping into my neck. “Is it because you’ll finally have to choose between all the boys you’ve been hanging with all this time? Poor baby.”

“Whoa. Really?” She stares at me, her cheeks reddening.

“Hey, you’re the one who’s all stressed out.”

Normally I don’t go off on her like that. I’m an easy-going person, light-hearted and fun. Syd likes that I’m fun. So why throw it into my face like an insult?

And now she’s staring into the dancing crowd, and I’m not even sure she hears me. Something’s definitely off.

Sort-of-dating three dudes at the same time can be stressful, I guess, especially if you’re all good buddies.

I honestly don’t understand the dynamics of her little group. Her three friends seem nice, sure, and they’re handsome as hell and friends with each other. I get that choosing one will destroy the group—but hey, you can’t marry all three, now, can you?

She has to make a choice. But surely not tonight?

Or maybe it is tonight? That would explain her odd behavior.

“Look, I gotta go,” she whispers, turns around, and before I can even blink, she vanishes into the crowd.

O.M.G. What in the world just happened?

“Syd! Sydney!” I start after her, pissed and annoyed and kind of scared. She’s never walked out on me like this before, not in a night club where I’ve never been before. Plus, she’s my ride back home.

Looks like I’ll be calling a cab, instead.

But heck, no. I’ll find her, sit her down and have her explain to me what has gotten into her tonight. All this is… no bueno.

She’s my bestie. My bestie can’t abandon me like that without an explanation. The world just doesn’t work that way. We’ve been best friends since I moved to St. Louis almost three years ago. Almost three full years of trust and late-night confessions in the dark, nights when she told me about her dreams and fears, about her three friends.

She knows practically everything about me, probably even things I don’t know. I thought I knew her like the back of my hand.

Where is she?

Hurrying through the drunken crowd, the music blaring in my ears, I tug ineffectively on the hem of my short dress as I search for her familiar head of red curls.

Where was she heading anyway? There’s nothing back here but more people and the neon-lit bar with its shelves of bottles and bustling bartenders.

Cursing my stilettos—remembering Sydney warning me not to wear them if I wanted to dance, but they’re so damn pretty I ignored her—I slow down, walking down the length of the bar, anxiously checking the swaying, shaking, jumping bodies on the dance floor.

My stomach is twisted up in a knot. It feels like fear. For her, and for me.

Oh come on, I tell myself. You’re a nineteen-year-old woman. You’ve spent as much time inside night clubs as you have outside them by now.

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