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Forty

Roman

I didn’t want Ava coming with us, but it wasn’t like she was going to listen to me. Noticing her nervous look, I offered my hand.

She took it, sending me a grateful look. I met it with a reassuring smile.

Ava

Okay, maybe I was a teensy bit scared to hop on a boat again- but can you blame me? I mean, come on. I passed out, and then the boat flipped over. Next thing I know, I’m washed up on the beach like a message in a bottle!

Well, maybe that’s not exactly how it happened. But that’s how I planned on telling it for the rest of my life- if I ever did have to repeat it, at least.

 

The boat was a little motorboat, with enough room to fit Jace, Roman, David, and two other men whose names I learned to be Daniel and Warner. As soon as we sped away from the makeshift dock, David called from behind the wheel, “I need at least two of you up front to even out the weight distribution.”

Jace had laughed at that. “I’ll go. And so will Ava.” Of course, volunteer me. No big deal- whatever. I rolled my eyes. 

Of course, Jace had volunteered us because we both ended up soaked. Mind you, I was wearing a pair of size-0 white shorts (which are obviously too small for me anyway) with a little yellow tank top. Let’s just say- hot pink bra and panties? Never going to be worn with this outfit again.

 

We reached the dock of the mainland. It wasn’t like some huge city, as I’d imagined. But it was more than a few houses built into trees, at least.

Ava

           After docking the boat, all six of us gathered around a picnic table at the edge of the beach, right near the boardwalk. The ocean breeze played with my hair, the sea’s salty scent warming me alongside the sun’s rays. Thankfully, the heat from the sun was also doing a speedy job of drying my clothes enough so that they were no longer completely transparent.

           I took a seat on the bench across from David, who had a notepad out. He tore out sheets of paper, one after the other and started jotting down notes with a pen on a fresh piece. “Alright… Jace is going grocery shopping… Roman, you’re taking Ava clothes shopping.” He spared a glance at me, obviously taking note of the too-small clothes and the fact that he could see my underwear through them. “She needs then, kid. Unless you want some other were stealing her.” A growl escaped from Roman’s throat- unintentionally, maybe? I wasn’t sure. “Hey, I was kidding. Don’t get too territorial. I’m just saying… She’s a gem. You should hide her as best you can- as long as you refuse to Mark her.” What the **** does that mean? I thought. “Anyway, Daniel, Warner, you’re getting supplies. New fishing rods, knives, guns, bows and arrows, whatever. I need all that.”

           He handed everyone stacks of hundred dollar bills, nodded at the group, and headed in the opposite direction.

 

           We reached the little outlets, where there were mostly tourists being ripped off- $80 for a pair of knockoff sunglasses? I don’t think so.

           

           We entered the first store, Pacsun, and I was searching through the clearance rack. “Ava, you don’t need to look here,” Roman said, meeting my eyes from above a stack of clothes. “We have the money. You don’t need that much stuff, anyway- as far as I know. It’s only a matter of time until Victoria and the rest of the pack head down here. We just came in advanced because…” He trailed off, but I knew it had to do with me and how they’d hurried me out of the state, onto a plane, and then how I’d run.

 

           “Roman, listen very carefully,” I told him, raising my eyebrows. “Spending twenty-five dollars on a plain white tank top is absolutely ridiculous. Money should be used for things like heating a freakin’ house- not designer-brand clothes. And the clearance section is still expensive. $12.99 for a t-shirt is considered clearance? That’s sale at best.” I rolled my eyes.

           

           He shut up and let me browse. I picked out a pair of jeans along with some shorts and t-shirts- ones that were actually my size.

 

           We headed to the check out. $42.15 was our total. I felt like a boss until Roman chuckled silently to himself and handed the woman a hundred.

 

           I grabbed the bag and spun around, out of the air-conditioned store and into the warm embrace of the sun’s heat sinking into my pores.

           Of course, Roman came after me. “What the **** was that? Take the bag and run?”

           I rolled my eyes. “What did David mean when he said you’d better ‘Mark’ me soon or whatever?” I demanded, crossing my arms.

 

           He stared at me, obviously unsure how to respond.

 

 

Jace

           I paid for the groceries- actually getting a 25% discount for giving the girl at the checkout a smile.

 

           I somehow managed to find a pay phone- my cell wasn’t exactly functioning at the moment, it being at the bottom of the ocean and all.

 

           “****o?” a light voice answered.

           “Hey, Victoria.”

           “Jace?”

           “Yes.”

           “Umm… What the **** happened?”

           I ran my hands through my hair. “That’s not actually important right now. What’s important it that you get the rest of the freakin’ pack over here. Tell them that it’s the Alpha’s orders.”

           “Oh, is Joseph there? Can I talk to him because I had a couple quest-“

           “No. He’s not here right now.”

           “So, where are you guys?” she finally asked, seeming suspicious.

           “We’re staying at the village.”

           “Wow, so I guess you got there more quickly than anticipated? That’s good-“

           “Bring whatever is left of Ava’s clothes, please. She, uh, lost her things on the way.”

           “How- I- Okay, Jace.”

           “Thanks. Sorry, but I really have to go. Time’s up, bye.”

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