My Wolf's Bane (Shapes of Autumn, #1)(7)

By: Veronica Blade

Sure.” Gina scanned the room, probably hunting for Zack, but I steeled myself to stay tuned to Gina. If Zack caught me staring again, I’d look stalker-ish. Or, even worse, desperate.

I hesitated, my teeth holding my bottom lip hostage. “That money I spent with you? I borrowed it from my parents, planning to work it off during the week.”

“Yeah, so?” She brushed her auburn hair off her shoulder, then stiffened, her eyes fixing on me and narrowing. “Don’t even tell me you’re grounded.”

“I’m sorry, Gina. I—”

“We’ve been planning this for two months.” Her nostrils flared, lips tightening. “I can’t believe you did this to me.”

I sighed. “You act like you have no one else to go with. What about Natalie?” Yes, I’d broken my word, but her attitude was over the top. “And at least you get to go to the party. I’ll be stuck at home with my parents. I’m not any happier about this than you.”

“Whatever.” She crumpled her napkin, tossed it on the table, then stomped off.

Now I was free to spend the rest of lunch with Maya. But beyond Gina’s retreating back, John and Maya stood with Zack, who seemed engrossed in something she’d said. Just great. Seemed like I was the only one at school he didn’t like.

As if knowing I was watching, he turned. I silently cursed for getting caught staring, yet couldn’t take my eyes off him. After a long moment, he returned his attention to my friends.

Was it extra noisy in the cafeteria today or just my imagination? Whatever. I took my tray to the trash bin, knowing the warning bell would ring soon.

Daniel waved at me from across the cafeteria and mouthed, “See you later.”

I hoped not. Except I still needed to break up with him.

Gina approached Daniel and his posse. Zack still chatted with John and Maya — which made both groups off limits. Damn.

If I had superhuman powers, I’d turn invisible right then. And no one would’ve noticed.

I headed to English Lit. Alone.

My phone vibrated and I sighed, reaching into my pocket. It was my mom again, reminding me I was grounded and offering to let Maya stay over. Knowing she’d keep texting me if I didn’t answer her right away, I stopped to type in my thanks, then I continued down the corridor. Thankfully, my mom knew I wasn’t allowed to text during class, which gave me a reprieve.

Seeing the restroom, I darted inside to finally put on some makeup, since I had a little time to spare. A few minutes later, feeling cute for the first time all day, I rushed into the crowded classroom and claimed my usual spot.

Oh, goody, Zack was in that class and he’d taken a seat two rows over to my left. He was facing the front of the class as though I didn’t exist. I inwardly groaned, then flipped my hair over to form a wall between us. Peering between the dark strands, I eyed him on the sly. I only got his profile, but that and his muscular shoulders were plenty satisfying.

Once class began, I tried to forget Zack was a few seats away, but I couldn’t. His presence added an awkward tension I could live without. And we had a pop quiz to brighten my day — which I hadn’t prepared for.

On the upside, my day probably couldn’t get any worse.

† † †

When the final bell rang at the end of last class, I gathered my books and bailed.

Seeing Gina in the corridor ahead of me, I hoped she’d ignore me. Luckily, she kept a brisk pace and didn’t look back. Closer to the exit, she slowed until she stood in front of Zack. He smiled at her and listened attentively. After scribbling on a piece of paper, she handed it to him, then walked backward grinning. He mouthed, “I’ll call you.”

Flirting when he had a girlfriend. Yuck.

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