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Saffron

I take a deep breath, steel myself for my meeting with Alpha Patton, and follow Zara down the hall. I wonder if I'll be meeting with POW—as pissed off as ever—or an even scarier wolf that outranks him. The idea makes my heart race.

Even though I've done it a million times, I mentally rehearse every detail of my Omega act: the trembling, hunched shoulders, bared throat. My instinct keeps screaming at me to fight, to run, to do something, but that would be stupid. I have to convince the Alpha that I'm harmless, or I might as well kiss my future goodbye.

Zara and I head down the hall and then up the marble staircase. We pass the third floor landing and continue on until we reach the fourth floor, where the adults live. At the landing, we turn right, and head down the empty hall.

Zara leads me past half a dozen closed doors, and stops in front of a room with a golden plaque that reads Alpha. She knocks loudly, and I hold my breath. A few seconds pass. Then, POW's gruff voice tells us to enter, and I follow my roommate inside.

POW is seated behind a large desk and Zara stops directly in front of it and bows her head in respect. I do the same and conclude that POW must be Alpha Patton after all.

"Has Saffron been behaving herself?" POW asks.

"Yes, Alpha," Zara responds, blushing, while I fight to suppress a growl. I don't like POW talking about me like that. Like I'm some little kid that Zara has to babysit, instead of the girl who just slaved for hours cleaning her hurricane of a room.

"Good. Good." POW nods. "Zara, you'll drive Saffron to school tomorrow."

School? My anger instantly dissolves and my heart leaps. POW wants me to go to school! I don't think I've ever been that excited about the thought of classes, and books and homework in my entire life.

I'm not going to be trapped in some dungeon. I'm not going to be surrounded by guards. I'm not going to be stuck cooking, and cleaning, and spending time with POW all day. I'll be in a public place, surrounded by people who would mask my scent. I'll have dozens of opportunities to escape.

I sneak a quick peek at my roommate and wonder if I could outrun her. What if it's actually that easy? What if I could just walk out the front door, shift, and run? By the time POW finds out about it, I'd be miles and miles away!

It couldn't be that easy. Zara must be faster and stronger than me, or POW wouldn't have assigned me to her. That and she grew up with a pack while I'm just a Rogue. Even the weakest pack Wolf—a true Omega—is probably faster and stronger than I am. Otherwise, a pack would have taken me and Dad in, instead of tossing us out on our tails.

What I need is a plan. I know my school and the surrounding area way better than Zara does. I know every hallway, every classroom, and every hiding spot. I could climb out of the second floor bathroom window, or use the emergency exit in the girl's locker room, or... I stop mid-thought. School is miles away. It took us hours to get here, and it would take just as long to get back. I guess POW hasn't really thought this through.

"P... um, Alpha..." I hesitate, "OPS is two hours away." OPS is short for Oakburg Public School, where I've been going since fourth grade.

There is a moment of silence, and then POW jumps up from his chair and slams his hands on the table. "Are you questioning me?" he shouts.

Zara jumps and I glance at her in time to see her jaw drop. It's like she's never seen the Pissed Off Wolf, well, pissed off. She is so weird.

POW growls and my eyes snap back to him. Crap. He's going to kill me. My heart starts to pound in my chest, fast, and it takes all the control I have not to shift. I swallow nervously a few times before I can get the words out. "N-n-no, Sir." My voice trembles.

All the times Dad and I fought flash before my eyes. The times he demanded that I stand up to him and fight even though we both knew I'd lose. All the pain, the cuts, the bruises, the broken bones... all things that Dad, who is so much smaller and weaker than POW, did.

How painful will POW's blows be? Will he break every bone in my body? Will I survive?

Scary images flash before my eyes, one after the other: POW, pounding my face with his huge fists... POW, laughing as I spit out bloody teeth... POW, breaking my fingers, one by one... POW, throwing my broken body out of the fourth floor window...

I start to shake and have to fight to snap out of it. I remind myself that I'm still in POW's office, still unharmed. POW's sitting behind his desk, more calm now, and I glance at Zara. She opens her mouth to say something, only to close it. A few seconds pass in silence and my heart rate begins to slow to a more normal pace.

"You'll go to Mapleton," POW finally tells me, "same school as the others. I already sent out an e-mail to have you registered."

"But all my school stuff is in my locker," I argue and then ask myself why I can't just keep my big mouth shut. First, I risk my life for a toothbrush and now for school supplies. It's like I'm stupid or have a serious death wish. Maybe both.

I've just been given a chance to go to school—to escape—and I am about to screw it all up. I might as well just get the word "rebel" tattooed on my forehead and chain myself up in the dungeon to save POW the trouble.

I wait for him to shout again, but he just raises an eyebrow. I'm pretty sure he can see right through my "obedient little wolf girl" act, and I cower. Back hunched, throat bared. I even emit a whimper for effect. I'm actually really proud of myself.

POW frowns and Zara stares at me, wide-eyed. Dad's always fallen for my Omega act, but I can tell these two aren't buying it. They should look sympathetic, but instead they both stare at me like I'm crazy. I'm so screwed!

"Zara will get you everything you need." By his tone, I can tell POW's annoyed at me, but at least he's still letting me go to school.

"Yes, Alpha." I reply, mimicking Zara's posture from earlier, right down to the head bow.

"Go get my son, will you Zara?" POW orders and Zara rushes off to do his bidding.

I start edging towards the door, not liking the fact that I've been left alone with POW. Maybe if I walk backwards really slowly he won't notice?

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Oh no! What's going to happen next? 

What would you do?

Any idea what POW's thinking? 


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