I drag my feet as I make my way down the hall. I don't feel good about what I'm about to do, even if it wasn't my idea. I know I can't just refuse a direct order from my Alpha, but what bothers me is that a part of me doesn't actually want to. Some part of me is glad that I get to order some random girl to clean my room, so that I don't have to. I know it's not fair to her—I do—but I need to get into town by noon. Then, my secret will be safe.
I don't even know why I'm letting this bother me so much. I'm only going to be here for two more days, and it's not like anyone can blame me for obeying my Alpha. He has his reasons, and I shouldn't question them. Maybe I'm even helping this girl Saffron. She must have something awful at her old pack and cleaning my room will teach her a valuable lesson. It'll make her a better person, and then she'll thank me and... oh, who am I kidding? It's my mess, and if anyone screwed up big time, it's not her, it's me. I just know that if I order Saffron to clean my mess, I'm going to hate myself, but if I don't, my life is over. The choice is clear.
A lump forms in my throat and I hesitate at the top of the stairs. Tears threaten to fall, and I push them back down and force myself to keep going. It has to be done, and that's that.
I take a few more steps and that's when I see her, this Saffron. Then, I feel awful all over again. I guess some part of me expected Saffron to look bad. I don't mean bad as in ugly, I mean like a bad person. That maybe I'd catch her snorting drugs off the marble floor, or she'd have a bunch of piercings, a gang tattoo, and a gun tucked in her waistband. Okay, I know Alpha wouldn't bring her into this house if she was that bad, but I was expecting something. Anything to prove that she's a worse person than I am. That she deserves the punishment Alpha Patton has in store for her.
Instead, Saffron just looks poor. I know how mean that sounds, but I'm not being totally spoiled about this or anything. It's not like the rest of us are rich or anything, but we can afford nice clothes and shoes and makeup. Saffron doesn't even look like she can afford a new t-shirt. She's wearing a big, baggy one that may have once been white but is now this odd shade of yellow. It's got some stains on it, and patches where she stitched it up. Her sweat pants don't look any better and one of her sneakers has a hole in it large enough that her bare toes are showing. The only thing that doesn't look that bad is the yellow duffel bag she has slung over her shoulder, but it is really ugly.
Saffron hasn't noticed me watching her, and I follow her gaze to the couple on the living room couch. Geo and Elena. Their lips are fused together, and Elena tugs the hem of his shirt up so she can slide her hands underneath. Geo groans and grabs her ass with one hand, while the other slides under her shirt. That's when Elena lets out this loud moan and rocks her hips back and forth, riding him like he's her personal stallion.
"Get a room, you guys," I shout, feeling a sudden surge of jealousy. How dare they show off like this in the pack house living room? In front of everyone? No one wants to see how happy they are, how good their life is now that they're mates. No one wants to be reminded of what they'll never have with the boy they love.
Geo and Elena break apart, but they both still look blissfully, sickeningly happy. Geo grins and Elena giggles, and I feel like I want to punch something or start crying, or both.
"Saffron?" I snap. "Come with me."
I turn around and march back up the stairs. Is this what it will be like, each time I see a newly mated couple? Will it always make me think of Jasper, and what I'll never have?
"I have to stay here and wait for—" Saffron calls after me, then hesitates.
"Alpha Patton," I tell her without turning around. "His orders."
My voice wobbles when I say it, but if Saffron notices, she doesn't comment. My back is to her, so at least she can't see that I'm openly crying. I walk faster, and quickly raise my hand to wipe my cheeks, glad that I thought to buy waterproof eyeliner and mascara.
By the time we get to our floor, I manage to pull myself together. I even convince myself that I can order Saffron to clean my room and get to town and survive one more day at the pack house.
"Why aren't there any adults here?" Saffron asks suddenly, making me jump. "Or boys?"
"It's a pack house. Boys are on the third floor," I reply quickly, hoping to end the conversation. I don't want to talk to this girl, or get to know her.
"What about adults?" Saffron presses.
"They're on the fourth floor," I say. I guess if she is trouble, she'll want to know who to watch out for, so I give her the full list. "There's Alpha and Luna. Beta and his mate. The pack doctor and a few housekeepers." Plus Jasper and Alpha Patton's son, Logan.
"What about parents? And why aren't there any little kids around?"
"Haven't you ever been in a pack house before?" I laugh at her horrified, judgmental look. I've heard that some of the more 'modern' packs have done away with our more 'outdated' pack structure. Some have coed floors, and others—like the Silvertooth pack where Jake and Ryan are from—don't even have a pack house. The Wolfsbane Luna obviously does, so now one openly opposes our way of life, but that doesn't mean that some of them don't judge. And, if Saffron is any indication, don't even talk about how we do things. "Families live in houses around the property. When a kid shifts for the first time, they move into the pack house."
Saffron seems satisfied with my explanation, so I lead her down the hall. "This is my room," I tell her, stopping in front of the open doorway. "Alpha says you'll be staying with me."
I half expect the Alpha in question to be waiting for us, but he's nowhere to be found. I glance at Saffron, who's got this deer in headlights stare as she takes in my room. I think I'm so used to this mess that I don't notice it anymore, but to her, it must look absolutely horrible. Why didn't I ever stop to think that someone would have to pack up all my stuff after I was gone? That someone would have to clean my room so that some other girl could move in. Hopefully a girl who wouldn't get her heart broken by the love of her life, maybe even someone who could be happy here.
Saffron turns to look at me, and I look away in embarrassment. Then, before I can think better of it, I force the words out. "My stuff goes on that side of the room," I point to the right. "I'm going for a run. When I get back, I expect this place to be spotless."
Then, before she has time to react, I race down the hall. With each step, I try to get away from what I've done. It's only when I reach the staircase that I realize my mistake. I left my math homework behind, and now there's no going back.
1. Did you like this bonus story?
2. Which POV (Point of View, not POW) did you like better, Saf's or Zara's?
3. What's it like being in Zara's head?
4. Should I write more Zasper chapters?