Saffron

The food tastes absolutely amazing. It's been years since I've eaten something I didn't cook myself. At the diner, I usually man the grill, so the greasy burgers and fries I scarf down on break hardly count. I've also had dinner at Anna's house before, but she's human and a vegetarian, so aside from the insane portion control, it's all salads and tofu. Bletch. I totally get not eating meat if you're human, but wolves are carnivores. We can't survive on vegetables.

The food here is primarily meat dishes and they're so delicious that I clean up my plate in under a minute. When I'm done, I turn to look at Zara. She's sitting cross legged on her bed, watching me. "Want to go down to the kitchen and see if there's more?" she asks.

"Nah, I'm okay," I tell her. "It just tastes so good."

Zara laughs and then turns serious. "Sofie, I need a favour."

"Sure." I wait for Zara to continue, but she remains quiet. "What is it?"

"I have a boyfriend. Jasper," She tells me.

"Oh," I reply, surprised. I kind of thought she was into Logan, too.

"His seventeenth birthday is on Tuesday."

I'm not sure where she's going with this, so I nod.

"I love him so much." Zara looks at me expectantly, but I'm not quite sure what she wants. Help picking out a birthday present? I'm the worst person to ask! I've never had a boyfriend, gone out on a date, or even hung out with a boy.

"He'll find his mate," Zara tells me. When I still don't say anything she adds, "... and it won't be me."

"Oh Zara. Why would you think that?" I ask, getting up from behind my desk and sitting down on the bed next to her. I' not sure how the whole mate thing works, but she loves him, and if he feels the same way, why wouldn't they be mates?

"Wow, your Dad really didn't tell you anything about mates, huh?" she asks. "Look, here's the thing. No matter how much we want someone to be our mate and how much we hope it happens, we don't have any control over it." Zara bites her lower lip and I think she might start crying. "My friend Jess was in love and she really, really believed they'd be mates. I thought so too, but on his birthday... well... they weren't," she tells me.

"I'm sorry," I whisper.

"I'm going to lose him," Zara moans. "I don't want to lose him, but..." A tear escapes, and she wipes it away.

"Maybe things will be different for you?" I ask hopefully.

"No." Zara shakes her head, looking absolutely dejected. "In two days I'll watch him fall for another girl and forget me. He says he won't let that happen. I know he doesn't want to be with anyone else but he doesn't have any control over it." Zara starts to sob and I hug her. "I can't watch him fall for someone else!"

"I'm so sorry, Zara." I hug her tightly.

Someone knocks on the door and Zara turns towards me. "It's him," she tells me, wiping away her tears. Her black eye makeup is smudged under her eyes, and she grabs and mirror and tissues from her desk to fix it.

"Him?" I ask, confused. For a second, I hope she means Logan, but I know it can't be him-him.

"Jasper." Zara moves towards the door. "Do you think you could give us some time alone? Maybe an hour? We only have today and tomorrow before..." she trails off.

"Okay." I nod. "Where should I go?" I don't know the house that well and I definitely don't want anyone to see me and think I'm trying to escape.

"You could take a shower?" Zara suggests. It's a good idea. I probably need one, too, after cleaning our room and going on a run. I hope Zara was just making a suggestion and she doesn't think I stink!

I nod and Zara opens the door to a grinning Jasper. He's almost as cute as Logan—tall and muscular, with dark-blond hair and soulful blue eyes. There's a huge contrast between him and the tanned, dark-haired Zara, which makes them a really cute couple.

"Were you crying?" Jasper asks, taking in Zara's red nose and blood-shot eyes.

Zara nods and tries to avert her gaze.

"Oh, Zara, baby," he wraps his arms around her and starts showering her with kisses. First her cheeks, then her forehead and chin and nose, and finally her eyelids, all the while telling her how much he loves her.

Zara melts into him and wraps her arms around his neck, pulling him close. She kisses him passionately and Jasper returns the kiss with a groan.

The two of them seem to forget the rest of the world exists. They keep kissing, and I feel my cheeks heat up. I want to rush out of the room and give them some privacy, but they're standing right there in the doorway. I turn around and grab the flip flops from the closet, blushing some more. I can't believe Zara and Jasper are going to break up in a few days. It just doesn't seem possible.

After I've slipped on my flip flops, I turn back around and they're still kissing. Jasper's hands are under Zara's tank top and she has a death grip on his hair. His tongue is in her mouth and I am pretty sure I know where this is headed. What is it about this place? First the couple downstairs, and now this?

"Um, guys..." I say quietly. They're still in the doorway and I need to leave. "Guys!" I shout, and they jump apart.

"Oops," Zara says, blushing.

"Hi..." Jasper adds, looking sheepish.

"This is Sofie, my new roommate," Zara introduces me. "Sofie, this is Jasper, my..."

She pauses, probably thinking that by Tuesday he won't be her anything.

"Boyfriend," Jasper supplies. He gives Zara a tender look and wraps an arm around her waist, pulling her close.

Zara smiles at him adoringly.

"Um, I should go take a shower," I tell them.

"Thanks Sofie," Zara smiles. "Here, take my phone." Jasper lets go of her, but the minute she retrieves the phone off her bed and hands it to me, he pulls her close again.

"I'll text you in an hour, okay?" Zara asks.

"Sure," I nod, my mind racing. She's giving me her phone? Could I use it somehow to me escape? I'd call Anna or Jen, but I don't have their numbers memorized. There's also Dad, but he's the one who sold me to POW, and the one who stopped paying the phone bill after Mom died, so they're really no way to reach him. Maybe I can look this place up on a map and plan my escape route... and email my friends and tell them I'm okay.

"It was nice to meet you, Sofie," Jasper says as I head towards the door, casually slipping Zara's phone into my pyjama pocket.

"You too," I reply, blushing.

"It's the second door on the left," Zara adds. "There are clean towels on the shelf. Just throw everything in the hamper when you're done."

"Thanks."

I close the door behind me, giving them some privacy. As I head to the bathroom, I think about the two of them. Zara and Jasper. Not about them making out or anything—I'm not some perv—but about how much they seem to love each other.

I've never seen two people as in love with each other as Jasper and Zara—at least not since Mom died. What they share, that's true love. That bond between two people that can never be broken.

How can there be a wolf instinct that's stronger than that? How can you look into someone's eyes and just forget you already love someone else? How can your wolf destroy the real you and all your feelings, just like that?

It's like our wolves turn us into mindless Zombies. Not just making us forget someone we love, but causing us to obey someone just because they're Alpha, turning us violent, and urging us to mate with people we hardly know. None of it is fair and sometimes I really wish I was human. 

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