My Wolf's Bane (Shapes of Autumn, #1)(10)

By: Veronica Blade

That was probably as close to a compliment as I was going to get from Zack. I returned his smile.

His grin disappeared in a flash and his eyes grew cold as he jiggled the cables. “Okay, try it again,” he ordered, averting his gaze.

Climbing back into the car, I turned the key and it sparked to life. Oh, thank God! I got out again to thank him, but left the motor running, just in case. “So it was just the connection?”

He mumbled, then let the hood drop shut and strode off without saying another word.

Just because he had atrocious manners — when he wasn’t saving my ass — didn’t mean I had to stoop to his level. Besides, people were always nicer when you were friendly. “Thank you!”

He didn’t even turn around. Sometimes, taking the high road sucked.

Oh, what the hell. “Maybe you should fix that personality next!” I shouted, but he was already driving away in an old, faded red Jeep. As Zack cleared the gate, a yellow Corvette eased away from the curb and into the lane behind him.

† † †

I whooshed through the front door of my house, dropping my backpack in the entryway. This house was newer than the others we’d lived in, with high ceilings and plenty of wide-open spaces. Mom managed to make it homey despite the lack of furniture and knick-knacks, always keeping fresh flowers on the fireplace mantle, a soft rug over the hardwood floors and warm hues covering the walls.

“Mom? Dad?” I called out.

Faint voices from their bedroom wafted down to the ground floor, reminding me how much I’d be working over the weekend in my dad’s office upstairs.

But I’d have to embrace slavedom in order to win back my freedom. Maybe if I started working tonight and only stopped to eat and sleep… A thrill rippled through me at the thought of salvaging my Sunday. One thing at a time though. Right now, the only thing on my mind was talking my parents out of uprooting me again.

Bolting to the bottom of the stairs, I sprang, intending to take them two at a time. Instead, I soared over four steps, my feet landing with a thud on the fifth.

Sure, five-feet-eight was tall for a girl, but even my dad couldn’t hop that many steps as effortlessly as I just had. Unless, I’d already taken one step before doing the three. Had I?

My heart pounded, not with exertion, but sudden fear. Was my body freaking out or was I going crazy?

Eyeing the first landing, I braced myself, then leapt again. My foot slipped on the third step and my knee smacked into the hard corner. I teetered backward and caught the railing before tumbling to level ground. Pain sliced through my leg.

My knee throbbed as I hobbled the rest of the stairs one step at a time, then limped down the hallway toward my parents’ bedroom. Testing myself for suddenly developed superpowers had been a lame idea.

By the time I stood over the threshold to their room, any discomfort had completely vanished. Like I hadn’t already had enough weirdness for one day with my freaky sense of smell and heightened hearing.

Speaking of smell, the nicotine stench in the house was particularly pungent today. Before I could give it more thought, I noticed my mom smiling up at me from her cross-legged position on the floor. A thin mist of smoke from the lit cigarette between her fingers swirled up toward the ceiling. I glanced at the window that was cracked open only a smidgen and wondered why my parents hadn’t already flung themselves through the window to get some oxygen.

“Autumn.” Dad’s blond head popped up from behind his laptop. He grinned at me as he set the computer aside to reveal all six feet two inches of him. “How was your day?”

“Hi, sweetheart.” My mom’s nearly black hair swished over her arm as she reached over to cram a T-shirt into one of several very full plastic bags. Donations to the thrift store, no doubt. Mom liked to travel light, so she always purged just before we moved.

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