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Chapter 11

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As twilight settled in around the Gibson home, the pack gathered for dinner, and like all large families, it was loud. At least two conversations were taking place at all times between the passing and consumption of food and drink. After dinner, the pack split up into smaller groups while they waited for the moon to rise.

Kaiden and Nate found themselves on their own for a moment as their grandparents had wrangled Hazel and Axel into doing dishes. Kaiden had only narrowly escaped the chore when Nate pointed out that they'd already been doing them the last few nights, so it was only fair that they be spared.

The two had retreated to the only place where it was acceptable to play loud music and smoke weed, which was the cab of Kaiden's truck. Kaiden actually had the volume down for the moment and Nate had pushed his seat back as far as it could go so he could lounge with his boots on the dash.

"Maybe..." Kaiden started as he let out a gust of smog "Maybe you could just ... try to avoid upsetting the beta's pup?"

"Eh, she'll live."

"I'm not asking for her sake."

"Are you concerned because she's Dakota's kid or because she's your half-sister?" Nate pondered aloud.

Kaiden was quiet a moment.

"I'm concerned because if you get kicked out of the pack, I'm not going to have anyone to hang with." Kaiden chuckled, brushing some hair behind his ear to remove some of the studs and other earrings. All of the silver ones, anyway.

"Well...what about that Sean kid?" Nate asked, but before Kaiden could reply, a car pulled up and drew both boys' attention. "Looks like your mom came after all..." Nate murmured before finishing off his Mountain Dew.

This time, Kaiden didn't try to respond — no witty joke, no casual observation, only silence as he watched the women head towards the house.

He disliked her. Not quite hate, but a severe dislike, and it had everything to do with his father. She had crushed his old man and took advantage of his uncle. His dad had recovered, sure, but never fully... and Kaiden doubted he ever would.

About a half an hour passed before Hazel stepped out onto the porch with Karla skipping along behind her. The teen strolled up to Kaiden's truck, beaming as he rolled down the window for her.

"Everyone's gathering back behind the house to shift, are you coming?" Hazel wondered in a sweet, melodic tone before turning her attention to Nate. "Axel thinks you're already bitching out of the fight, by the way," she added as Karla grabbed onto the handle of the closed driver side door. The pup was trying to tug on it or climb up maybe... Hazel wasn't sure.

"Why's it smell so bad in your truck?" Karla said while her face contorted into a disgusted look. "And dad says smoking is bad for you."

Kaiden exchanged looks with Nate before both rousted into motion. Kaiden kept a strong grip on the door as he gingerly opened it, careful of the petite girl hanging on it.

"That's right, smoking is bad, that's why it's so stinky," Kaiden agreed. He might have expected Nate to have his own opinion on the matter, but he was already way ahead of them. Hazel's recount of Axel's words had spurred Nate into an almost full dash.

"Do you enjoy encouraging them?" Kaiden asked quirking one brow at Hazel with a small and slightly disapproving smile. While he had to admit it was entertaining to watch Axel and Nate play top dog, he had this nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"If it gets me some time alone with you," Hazel replied effortlessly — her eyes locked on Kaiden's sharp features.

"I'm still here," Karla said flatly, dropping from the door. "Are those real glasses, cuz they don't look like real glasses..."

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