The next day, during the barbecue held in the gardens, Elva finally got her wolf ride. Nicholas helped her up onto the massive wolf Night, who then trotted slowly around the field under Nicholas’s watchful eyes.
Confined to my wheelchair, I stayed on the patio, not wanting to take my chair into the grass on the chance of getting stuck. It had been embarrassing enough yesterday, having Nicholas haul me around. I didn’t want a repeat performance.
It was a little lonely so near the door, while everyone else was out in the gardens, but I was happy to
watch from afar.
Eventually, Silver came over to see me. She let me scratch the top of her head, and licked.
“Thank you, Silver, for yesterday,” I told her. “I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for you.”
She chuffed at me. I wished I knew what she was trying to say. She didn’t seem to mind, though. She just lowered her big wolf head into my lap and made herself comfortable.
“Interesting how the only person who can’t talk to wolves is the one who made the best friend of one.”
Julian sauntered toward me, moving slowly like he hadn’t a care in the world. I had parked myself near a stone bench in case anyone wanted to chat with me. He plopped himself down there now.
“She’s beautiful and deadly.” I scratched between her ears. She closed her eyes. “I’m happy to be her
“Makes sense, I suppose, then. Why she would choose you.” Julian glanced out at the other girls standing in the garden. Their companion wolves had all mostly abandoned them. Instead, they played amongst themselves out in the grassy field.
Only Susie had deigned to join them, enjoying the company of the wolves more than her human
“Most of the girls saw their wolves as mere tools, not as living breathing creatures with their own
thoughts and opinions.”
“Sometimes when you have everything, you take certain things for granted.”
I had never been ultra–rich or popular, but I remembered what it had been like in my academy days.
When the world was at my fingertips, it had been so easy to almost–forget the needs of others.
Nicholas hummed. “You are something special, Piper.”
“No,” I said. “I’m just not what you are used to. The novelty of me will wear off eventually.”
He glanced at me sideways. “I’m not so sure.”
Beyond him, out in the field, Nicholas glanced in our direction. His face immediately hardened and he
I tried my best to ignore him. I knew Nicholas had warned me about Julian being a playboy, but he wasn’t hitting on me. We were just talking.
“I showed Lena your broken bow,” Julian said, snaring my full attention.
“She denied any knowledge of the clear sabotage, but I have no doubt she at least knew who did it, if she hadn’t ordered it herself. I made my intentions clear to her, though, so you shouldn’t have too much
more trouble from her for now.”
His words sat heavy on me. “What are your intentions, Julian?”
He shrugged, carefree. “She may have her plans to sabotage you, Piper, but now she will have to worry
about my plans to sabotage her.”
His tone was so casual, so flippant, it sent a chill up my spine. He was a little bit terrifying. Who knew.
what he would do, all with a smile on his face? I was relieved, in this case, that he was on my side and not
“Oops, I’ve been spotted.” Julian waved to a group of girls who had begun to inch closer. “I better head
them off or they will come over here.” He hopped to his feet. “Always a delight, Piper.”
“Don’t break too many hearts,” I called after him.
“Only the correct amount,” he replied. The scoundrel.
With Julian gone, I was once again left alone with my thoughts. I continued to stroke Silver’s fur as I considered that this might be my true last night of fun. The elimination ceremony was only a few nights away, with not much planned in between