My Wolf's Bane (Shapes of Autumn, #1)(8)

By: Veronica Blade

I continued on toward the parking lot, passing them. A moment later, I sensed Zack behind me, but didn’t turn around to confirm it, since he might think I was keeping tabs on him. Just before the curb on the way to my car, Ashley waved me over.

Gina didn’t approve of being friendly to juniors, but I liked Ashley. She was one of those people who didn’t make you wonder where you stood.

“Hey, Autumn.” She gave me a shy smile. “I’m having some people over on Saturday night and thought you might like to come.”

I couldn’t go to any party, much less blow off Gina for someone else. Wait… throwing a party on the same night as Daniel? I couldn’t imagine her competing with the most popular guy at school on purpose. She wanted a good turnout, right? I frowned. “Uhm, this Saturday is Daniel’s party.”

“Oh,” she said in a small voice. “I thought it was next weekend.” Ashley’s gaze dropped to her feet, her bottom lip jutting into a pout before wandering off. Poor Ashley.

I turned in a circle to scan the crowd, searching for Daniel, who usually met me at my car. I couldn’t wait to say my piece and finally be free of him. Instead, I saw Zack sitting on a wall about three feet away. Except for his narrowed eyes, his face was a mask as he stared at me.

Over the sound of skateboard wheels banging against the sidewalk, honks signaling rides to potential passengers and car doors slamming, I heard Zack scoff.

“What a piece of work,” he whispered to himself, his eyes still glued to me.

I shouldn’t have been able to hear him over the noise, right? But his words had been so clear. Wait… had he heard me too? I paused a moment to replay my conversation with Ashley and cringed. I’d sounded kind of snobby. Yeah, as if that was going to make Zack think any better of me.

Whatever. He wasn’t going to give me a chance anyway and why should I care what he thought? I just hoped Ashley hadn’t taken it the wrong way, too. I scanned the parking lot, just in time to see her drive away with her mom. I’d have to fix it with her later.

I spun around, headed to my car and shoved my backpack through the window. I didn’t know where Daniel was or how long he’d be, but if I didn’t text my mom soon, she’d probably show up. I hated it when she did that. I hit the buttons of my cell saying I was hanging out with Daniel for a few minutes, but would be on my way soon.

Leaning against the door, I waved at John and Maya as they cruised by.

Daniel’s dirty-blond head and beefy body suddenly blocked my view. “Hey, babe.”

“Hi.” I gave him a weak smile, not looking forward to a confrontation. After what he’d said earlier about no one ever touching me again, he probably wouldn’t let me go easily. I could totally pass on the inevitable drama.

“I’m grounded,” I blurted out. “I can’t go to your party.”

His face fell. “Oh. I had plans for us.”

I didn’t even want to know what those plans were. “Yeah, about that. Uh, we need to talk.”

“Daniel!” a guy shouted from across the lot.

“Gotta go.” He gave me a quick kiss without giving me a chance to evade it, then took off.

Damn. I was still officially stuck to him. Resigned, I nudged my backpack over and settled in the driver’s seat of my ancient sedan. I turned the key in the ignition, then cursed under my breath. Today had sucked so much, I’d forgotten all about my car needing resuscitation.

John and Maya had already left. I could call one of them back to get me, but John depended on rides from someone else and Maya wouldn’t have time to come back, drop me off and still make it home in time to babysit her little brother.

Unless I could get my car to start, my only choice would be to call my mom or dad for a ride. Taking a deep breath and crossing my fingers, I waited a moment, then turned the key again.

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