Saffron

Last year, I became faster that Dad—I exercise every morning and do all the hunting, while he just lounges around, so it's only to be expected—and now he can no longer catch me. The rules have changed, and if I try to run, Dad gets mad, and my beating later is ten times worse. Now, Dad wants to fight in human form first—which has led to a lot of torn clothes and a lot of sewing— and then shift mid-fight.

During past training sessions, I have had my ribs cracked, chunks of flesh torn out, and my body bruised to the point where I could no longer move. When he was sure I could take no more, Dad would stand guard over my broken body until I healed enough to walk home. Wolf bodies can repair themselves within a day from most injuries, so I've rarely had to miss school and no one's ever been the wiser.

Dad's just a rogue though, and really weak as far as wolves go. For Logan—the Alpha's son—fighting me would probably take no more effort than swatting a fly. He's almost as muscular as POW and my gut tells me he's really strong. Even if he wasn't faking his slow speed, he could order another wolf to catch me. I'm slow and weak and wouldn't stand a chance. Surrendering while I still had the chance was for the best.

I snuggle under the covers and can't help but relive every second I've spent with Logan. When I left my room dressed in my old clothes, I just wanted to disappear. I kept thinking about how much he hated seeing me in Zara's clothes, how in his mind I probably looked awful and didn't deserve nice things. I just wanted to get through the run without doing something embarrassing like crying or something stupid like shouting and calling him names.

Then, Logan became so sweet. He hugged me and held me close, making me feel safe and loved. It felt so perfect, being in his arms, even if any feelings between us were all in my head.

Logically, I know Logan and I just met and he doesn't feel anything for me, especially not love. It's not like I love him either! It's just a silly crush. First cute male wolf my age I've ever spent any time with.

I feel myself dozing off, thoughts of Logan still on my mind, and next thing I know someone is shaking me awake. I open my eyes, but the room is completely dark. My wolf senses haven't kicked in yet and I'm only half awake, so I don't fully register where I am. Dad's made it a habit to wake me up in the middle of the night to train—after all, a rogue attack could happen at any time and I need to be prepared—so I bolt upright, ready to go. Dad isn't above resorting to violence if I don't wake up quickly enough.

"Sofie?" a distinctly feminine voice gasps in the darkness. There was a new moon last night, so the sky is lit by only a tiny slither, barely providing any light to see by.

"Zara?" I ask. I can make out her outline and get a whiff of her scent.

"Sofie, I'm so sorry." Zara genuinely sounds upset.

"What is it?" I ask. Suddenly, I start to panic. In books, if someone says 'I'm so sorry' in the dark, usually it's the bad guy apologizing right before he kills you.

Is she holding a knife? Is she's going to inject me with something that makes me fall asleep, and when I wake up I'll be shackled in the dungeon? Does she have a gun? Is she going to kill me?

"You have to cook breakfast tomorrow," Zara tells me.

I instantly feel relieved and very, very confused. I've been cooking breakfast every morning since I was eight.

Zara's voice drops down to a whisper. "Alpha made me do it. I swear. He said I have to order you to make breakfast and I can't say it was his idea. Promise you won't tell anyone I told you!"

"I promise."

"I'm really sorry. I would help you but Alpha said I can't. I'll make it up to you somehow. I swear I will."

I look pointedly towards the closet and then giggle when I realize that she probably can't see my expression in the dark. "Zara, you gave me half your clothes today. You don't have to make anything up to me."

"I just feel so bad. It's supposed to be Mark's turn to be on kitchen duty, but Alpha made me switch days with him and then he said I had to order you to do it for me."

"It's fine. I don't mind," I tell her. Poor Zara! This is so much harder on her than it is on me. I mean, I'll probably be gone by tomorrow afternoon, so what do I care if I have to make breakfast? She's the one stuck here with POW day in and day out.

"It's just not like him," Zara tells me.

"Like who?"

"Alpha. I know he doesn't like rogues, but it's not your fault!"

"It's fine, really."

"Well, I still feel bad." Zara gets up and turns on my desk lamp. "Look, I brought up some food for you."

"Thanks." I get up, realize I'm still in my underwear, and head for the closet. I put on my pajamas, plop myself down in front of the heaping plate of food, and dig in.

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