Raised by Wolves(5)

By: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Devon didn’t bother to expend energy by disputing my words or acknowledging my whine in any way. He just leaned back against the door of my garage-turned-studio and waited for my ranting to subside.

“Besides,” I continued, hoping to engender some level of sympathy, “Callum’s put me on surveillance. I’m sure my babysitter will be showing up any minute to escort me home, whether I like it or not.”

Fact of life: pretty much everyone I knew was stronger, faster, and less disturbed by the idea of throwing a girl over his shoulder and hauling her to a given destination than anyone had a right to be.

A slightly more satisfying fact of life: I didn’t have to make it easy for them. I’d doubtlessly lose any fight I started, but it was the principle of the matter. That, and annoying werewolves was a good way to dispel pent-up frustration—if and only if they were bound to keep you safe and couldn’t raise claw or canine against you.

Teeth ripping into flesh. Skin tearing like Velcro.

Glancing out the window in a show of calm, I wondered why my “escort” wasn’t here already. Like Devon had said, it was almost dark, and Callum’s wolves were nothing if not punctual. It was at that exact moment that I noticed the faint grin on Devon’s face.

“You’re my escort?”

Devon shrugged. “The Big Guy tells you to do something, you do it, even if it means babysitting a bratty little human girl who calls playing with glue art.”

I reached over and smacked him.

Devon just smiled back at me. He was my best friend. My partner in crime. He was most certainly not my keeper. I was going to kill Callum for this. He knew that in my current frame of mind, I would have fought anyone else, but I couldn’t fight with Devon, and Devon couldn’t disobey Callum.

Insert four-letter word here.

“Have I mentioned that I really hate werewolves?”

“A time or two, I believe,” Devon said. For no reason other than the fact that he could, he adopted a ridiculously affected British accent. “Come along now, luv. Be a dear and walk with your old pal Devon, yeah?”

My best friend, the drama geek. If I didn’t go with him now, there was a high probability that he’d keep switching accents until I caved. A werewolf channeling the Swedish Chef was not a pretty thing—and I had absolutely no desire to see it again.

“Fine.” I sighed melodramatically. Two could play Dev’s game, and if he was going to put his drama chops to use, I had every right to channel my inner diva. “If we must, we must, yeah?”

My own British accent was, in a word, horrid.

To his credit, Devon didn’t wince. Instead, he adopted an austere look. “Indeed.” He managed to maintain his serious expression for about two seconds before the two of us started cracking up. He linked his arm through mine and gently steered me out the door. We locked up and then headed down the trail toward town.

“Do you have any idea what’s got Callum’s panties in a twist?” I asked as we walked.

“It’s a miracle he let you live past childhood, darling. I can’t imagine anyone else talking about our esteemed leader’s underpants.”

Although his words were entirely true, I couldn’t help but notice that they weren’t an answer. “Don’t evade the question, Dev. Callum said he’d put an entire team on me. I’m guessing that means more than just you and that you got the short straw tonight because—”

“Because Callum knew you’d be defenseless against my ample charms?” Devon suggested winningly. Of our generation in the pack, Dev was the largest, the strongest, and the most likely to turn alpha himself one day, but being Devon, he preferred to think his true power lay in other domains.

I rolled my eyes. “Because Callum knows we’re friends,” I corrected. Werewolves had heightened senses, and a person would have had to be deaf, dumb, blind, and just plain stupid to miss out on the connection that Devon and I shared. There were only a few other juvenile wolves in our pack, and with Devon’s sense of flare (he was, I was certain, the world’s only metrosexual werewolf), he’d never really fit in among the other pups. Then Callum had brought me home, Marked me, and given me to Ali. Most of the pack had ignored the tiny, shell-shocked human, but Devon claimed he’d loved me from the moment he’d seen me, shivering in Callum’s arms, blood-spattered and wild-eyed. The two of us quickly became inseparable. It was to Devon that I’d said my first words once I started talking again, and with Devon that I’d mastered the fine art of mischief. He was Devon.

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