Hey guys! Here is the first chapter of the first installment of the project I said I'd be working on. This story is written from Derek and Chloe's alternating POV's and I'd really love some feedback about that. What Binds Them was mostly from Chloe's perspective and An Anniversary to Remember is from Derek's perspective, this is the first story where I'm really alternating and I want to know what POV you guys like best. Because What Binds Them and The Reckoning were pretty similar this story is following the plot line that I laid out in my version; meaning that if you haven't read WBT alot of this will not make sense. Thank you for your ongoing support and to express my gratitude-and let's be honest, because Chloe and Derek are pretty much the most fun couple to write ever-here is a mostly fluffy story as a reward for your patience!
WARNING: This is a sequel. If you have not read my other story, What Binds Them, this will not make sense! Also you should read it anyway because it is awesome.
I had found my own personal ring of hell. A hell with elevator music clashing horribly with the newest pop song and a dozen other soundtracks; babies crying, girls giggling, boys peacocking and sniggering, hundreds of different footfalls in heels and boots and sneakers and flip-flops. Worse was the smell, perfume, seven different kinds of cheap greasy fast food, hormones and cleaning products.
"Stop fidgeting. You were the one who insisted on coming here." Chloe Saunders, necromancer to the nth power and the most beautiful, clever (insert positive adjective here) girl I knew glared up at me with her colorless gray eyes.
I'd mourned the loss of her blue eyes after our finale with the Edison Group—she'd pushed herself too far and when she was releasing a demi-demons ghost (don't ask) it had taken her eye color with it. As far as trade-offs went it wasn't that bad and I'd grown to love the new color of her eyes just as much as every one of her scars from our misadventures. They were marks that reminded me every time I looked at her of just how brave she was.
I tilted her face up and leaned down since I had over a foot of height on her and pressed my mouth to three faint parallel white marks that ran from her hairline to the edge of her eyebrow. She had been lucky that time and they skipped over her eye without doing any damage. She'd been even luckier that she only got scratched and not bitten as it had been a werewolf who attacked her, the same type of supernatural that I was.
"I was just thinking about what a good time I'm having." I said, forcing a smile.
She laughed and suddenly the mall didn't seem too bad. "You're a terrible liar."
I could argue that I could lie to anyone I wanted to but firstly I didn't see the point in conversation without purpose or truth and secondly no matter how tightly I closed down my expression and body language Chloe could read me like an open book.
"You know I could always get Simon to help." She gave me a coy look.
I refused to rise to the bait. "Uh huh."
"Do you think he'd like this one… or this one…" She pulled a black bathing suit off the rack with almost enough material to pass for an ace bandage and another red one held together with rings.
She sighed exasperatedly. We'd been swimsuit shopping for an hour and there had not been a single one that I would be okay with Chloe wearing in public.
"This one?" She gave me a sarcastic head-tilt as she pulled a floral print one-piece with an attached skirt.
She kicked me in the shin and I winced. "My granma would even think this was too modest you territorial mangy-"
I kissed her. Nothing overtly sensual because it was getting harder and harder to keep the wolf in my blood in check whenever I kissed Chloe but it was enough to make her soften and lose the edge off her temper.
Mine. I thought, pulling away and looking down at her. She shivered as if she could read my mind—more likely my expression—and placed her slender hand on my chest.
"Yes." She murmured quietly. After a second she blinked and blushed. "O-okay. Focusing on task at hand."
The stutter was my personal meter of how flustered Chloe was. Since taking down the Edison Group and nearly dying and proving that she had just as much guts as brains she never stuttered unless we were alone. I wouldn't have it any other way, I'd always thought the stutter was pretty cute and I didn't share well.
"This one?" She pulled a plain blue two-piece with one of those tank top things.
There wasn't an excess of straps or sheer stuff or frills, it was the most modest thing we'd seen besides the grandmother suit. "… Fine."
"Really?" She smiled and it lit up her face. "Thank goodness, go find Simon and Tori and I'll check out."
I nodded, pulling out my cell phone, then remembering that Simon didn't have his due to stalkers and sighed, glancing at Chloe who had already moved to the summer dresses. She looked back at me and smiled reassuringly, shooing me out with a wave.
Even with my nose it took a good a good fifteen minutes to track Simon. Naturally he was hiding in the art supply shop, drooling over a ridiculously overpriced colored pencil set. I still felt the slight twinge of guilt about waiting so long to tell him that I cared about Chloe. That was what had hurt him the most, not only had he actually liked Chloe—not like the other ninety percent of the girls he pursued—but the first girl that I had gotten attached to I hadn't told him. It didn't make a difference that mates didn't have anything to do with teenage hormones, to him I had held back about something big. He had no idea how big though and I had no intention of telling him for awhile.
"Hey." I said.
He jumped and glared. "I'm getting you a bell. There's a pet shop down towards Macy's that has Rottweiler size collars."
"Sorry." I shrugged, I'd been spooking him since grade school and he'd been threatening to get me a bell for just as long. "Chloe found a bathing suit."
Simon shot me a wink. "Let me guess, overalls?"
I shook my head. "Tank… thing…"
Simon rolled his eyes. "I'm surprised that you didn't make her get one of those granny suits with the skirt."
I winced. Simon knew me too well.
"Tori's going to meet us back at the entrance." I said. I'd texted her on the way to finding Simon, letting my nose keep me on the right track.
Simon gave the pencils one last wistful look and I filed the brand name and number in the set for his next birthday present. We walked toward the exit and I felt every hair on my body standing up like there was another predator nearby. I started to glance around but Simon shook his head subtly.
"Don't look, it only encourages them."
I looked in the reflective glass beside us to see a group of girls around our age trailing us and giggling. They wore impractical clothes like mini-skirts and heels and covered their faces and natural scent with perfumes and too much makeup. They reminded me forcibly of Barbie dolls and I shuddered.
Finally the doors to the parking lot appeared, sunlight filtering in like the gates to freedom that they were and I resisted the urge to run and never look back. It was official, malls sucked.
Kit's minivan jumped along the dirt road, making me bounce in my seat. Derek put his arm around my shoulders, tucking me against his side—more secure than any seatbelt. I gave him a grateful smile and he nuzzled the top of my head.
"God you two are going to make me barf." Tori complained, fake gagging. "Puppy love."
I smirked at that. "At least I go for guys outside of the family."
"We agreed to never speak of that!" Simon said loudly, looking a little green.
Derek had told me about the night that Simon had actually had so much girl-withdrawal that he'd caved and snuck off with Tori. The next morning he apparently claimed temporary insanity and pretended to be deaf whenever she was around.
The whole sibling thing was still taking some adjusting. Since Tori's mother was still missing in action Tori was staying with the boys and me. We made an unusual temporary family to say the least. Kit's fully blooded Korean and a lawyer/sorcerer, Simon's a half Swedish and half Korean sorcerer-in-training, Tori's half evil-bitchy witch and half Korean sorcerer, I'm a good old-fashioned American mix necromancer and Derek—the most exotic for last—half Icelandic and a quarter Japanese werewolf. If I ever researched genetics I had a heck of a subject group right at home. Kit, Simon and me were the only ones who actually looked like our heritage, Tori and Derek just inherited the hair from their Asian genes.
"What's up?" Derek touched my arm, getting my attention.
"Hmm? Nothing, just…"
"We're here kids!" Kit called from the driver's seat.
Derek perked up, camping was something he was good at, being part wolf and all. I smothered a giggle, he just looked so much like a puppy I expected him to stick his head out the window, tongue lolling—a mental image that made me have to bite my lip to keep from laughing.
"Okay! Everybody out!" Kit opened the sliding door and Derek had our seat belts off and was dragging me outside two and a half seconds later.
Simon followed shortly, kicking off his flip-flops and pulling off his shirt as he took off towards the dock, diving off the end without breaking stride.
Derek shook his head with an exasperated sigh. "Come on, we should unpack the-"
I grabbed my backpack and was running off to the bathrooms with Tori before he'd even finished talking.
"You can help unpack but you have to put on your bathing suit first." I glanced over my shoulder to see Kit grinning at Derek, tossing him his black swim trunks. "I bet you'll want to get in the water as soon as we're done."
I laughed at that and turned down the dirt road, preceding Tori into the small concrete building. It was about what you'd expect from a camp ground bathroom, just two stalls and two shower heads. I put down my backpack and started rummaging for my new bathing suit.
"Let me guess." Tori leaned up against the wall. "Dog boy made you get a grannie suit."
I shot her a smug grin. "He thinks that's what I got." I pulled out the bathing suit that I'd bought after Derek left and Tori's brows shot up.
"Go you." She actually smiled, she'd been trying to be nicer which I realized wasn't a front, it was just really hard for her to let down some of her water-tight shields.
I went behind the shower curtain and stripped, pulling on the suit. The bottom was pretty normal but the top was one of those strapless band things. It came with an attachable strap that you could lace in the middle and put around your neck and I attached it. Wearing a completely strapless top with Simon around was just asking for trouble—not that he'd pull it off but he'd probably toss me in the lake or something and goodbye bathing suit. I'd found the suit at the last minute, it had strawberries printed on it and I couldn't not buy it.
"Ugh." Tori rolled her eyes when I came out and I faltered.
"It's just… so girly and cutsy. Yeah Dog Boy is going to freak."
I grinned. I'd stopped correcting her because she wouldn't stop calling him that and there wasn't any menace in her tone when she said it now.
Naturally Tori was wearing a black sporty bathing suit with a high-cut leg that made her already long legs seem even longer. Her skin had magically procured a sun-touched glow that made me jealous, Derek tanned just as easily with his olive skin and I turned around huffily while I pulled out my sunscreen and hosed myself with it. If I was lucky I'd get a tan line.
The bathroom was dimly lit but I could still see the collection of scars I'd accumulated in the past six months. I was grateful that the thin lines on my thigh were nearly invisible now, those had been from Derek when he was partially changed and I startled him. The other scars that seemed likely to heal completely were the three on my face from my encounter with a man-eating werewolf. The rest were there to stay; criss-crossing scars on my upper arm from a bullet and broken glass, a knife cut on my cheek, a scar on my side from a bullet graze, a scattering of slender scars around my chest and shoulder from where my necklace had exploded and the complete lack of color in my eyes.
"You know, sometimes I feel a little like Sally from a Nightmare Before Christmas." I twisted, testing the still tight scar tissue on my side.
"Please. Boys think battle scars are cool." Tori said with an eye-roll.
"Scars on them, not on their girlfriend and Derek has plenty of his own."
We wrapped on towels and slipped into our flip-flops before heading back. The sun felt warm and golden on my skin and I smiled, grateful for every ray. Nearly dying once and actually dying later can do that to you.
Derek was naturally helping his dad unload the car, putting down a cooler big enough for four teenagers and one adult to eat for two days.
My breath hitched. Derek was ripped from necessity not vanity but if anything knowing that body was for fighting and not for show just added to the hot factor. The big scratches that raked across his shoulder and chest stood out more than his other smaller scars, pale against the rest of his skin. I felt the familiar twinge of guilt, he'd gotten those rescuing me.
From his expression even in profile I could tell that he knew subconsciously that I was back. But being Derek he would finish helping his dad before coming out to play.
Tori snorted at my fixed gaze but I saw her give him an appreciative once-over before she went to get her book from her bag. I swallowed the territorial feeling that was beginning to be familiar. Because I was bonded to Derek I shared some of his werewolf-traits, such as being occasionally aggressively territorial. I shook it off and waved to catch Simon's eye before Derek got a good look at me. I didn't need to, Simon was gawking at me, mouth hanging open and I winked. He hinged his jaw and grinned, shooting a look Derek's way.
Downwind. I mouthed and he nodded.
I silently untied my towel from my waist and finally called to him. "Coming in?" I called with a grin, making sure there was plenty of distance so I had a good head start when he started running after me.
Derek's expression was worth the price of the suit, I'd have paid a thousand dollars just to get that look. His green eyes went wide and his lips parted, an expression of complete surprise being rapidly replaced by a scowl.
I think I got further than he had expected, racing halfway down the dock before he lifted me by the waist and I squeaked in protest. He tucked me under one arm like a duffel bag and marched us back down the dock.
"Where is the other bathing suit?" He asked, keeping his voice even as his eyes glittered dangerously.
"What other bathing suit?" I gave me the sweet and innocent look, which he didn't buy for a second.
"Go put on a towel. And a parka." He pointed at my backpack while I tried to stifle a laugh.
"You know I think I forgot my parka."
"Woah! Could use a hand here!" Kit yelled and Derek's head snapped up, seeing him holding a stack of firewood and two camp chairs.
Derek put me down with a stern look and jogged over and took them from his dad before he keeled over backwards. It wasn't until he got everything to the ground that he noticed Kit grinning and shading his eyes, watching the dock. I glanced over my shoulder and waved seconds before I went in with a swan-dive, those years of gymnastics once again coming to my aid. I heard a muffled splash and twisted to see a dark shape diving in after me and kicked hard away from the dock.
I didn't get far before the need to breathe won out. When I surfaced I got a quick breath before he yanked me back down by my ankle and encircled my waist with his hands. We both came up for air and I put my arms around his neck, blinking water out of my eyes and grinning.
"The 'wet look' is nice on you." I pushed his bangs back and pretended like he was giving me a loving smile instead of a hearty glare.
"What. Happened to the other bathing suit." He growled.
"This one has strawberries on it." I protested, pulling back enough to get some of the top out of the lake.
I rolled my eyes. "And I wanted to see the look on your face when you saw it."
He checked his temper long enough to actually look at the bathing suit and his expression gentled as he brushed a strawberry. "It's… cute." He sighed begrudgingly.
I kissed him and we sank into the water, breaking apart only when the risk of drowning became a very real possibility. I slipped out of his arms and his hand trailed down my leg from thigh to the arch of my foot as I swam at a leisurely pace back to the dock.
He followed with long strokes and I smirked. "No doggy paddle?"
That got me dunked again, this time without the kiss.