Snuggled under two blankets, Leah and Zara were halfway through The Lost Boys when Seth Clearwater came bounding into the living room, leaping onto the sofa and squishing Zara in the process.
"Zara! I haven't seen you in ages!" Seth beamed, giving the girl a big hug.
"Seth, you saw me five days ago." Zara chuckled at the younger boy, placing a kiss on his forehead.
Due to Leah and Zara being best friends since birth, Zara had watched Seth grow up; she had become like a second sister to him and he'd become the annoying little brother she never knew she wanted. However, the two of them now had a close bond, and if Seth ever had a problem, he knew he could go straight to Zara.
"Exactly, that's too long. I'm used to seeing you everyday."
"Blame your sister for that one." Zara teased, bumping Leah's shoulder with her own.
Noticing the film on the TV was Zara's favourite, Seth wriggled his way between the two girls before reaching over to the coffee table and stealing their popcorn.
"How's school been?"
Seth let out a disgusted groan at the topic.
"Just because you broke free of that torture chamber, does not mean you get to remind me that I'm still imprisoned."
"That's awfully dramatic for a young boy." Zara teased, emphasising 'young', as she knew it annoyed the youngest Clearwater.
"What can I say, I'm going to be an English major." Seth shrugged his shoulders, smiling at his sister's best friend.
As the Clearwater siblings returned their attention to the TV screen, Zara watched them. This was her family. Nothing and no one could ever come between her and her love for the Clearwater's. Since day one they had been there for her and her mother, and no matter how hard she tried, Zara would never be able to repay the kindness and love Harry and Sue had shown her.
Sighing happily, Zara placed her head on Seth's shoulder and protested at the rom-com Leah had picked for them to watch, However, she couldn't stop her mind from drifting to other placed and the face that popped into her daydream horrified her in the most delightful way.
Pulling the boxes of doughnuts out of her car, Zara chuckled at the memory of baking them. Seth had wandered into the kitchen whilst Zara was on her third batch and instead of just passing through, he had decided to 'help'. Two hours, three bags of flour, and a botched tray of doughnuts later, Sue had come home to three messy children and banned them from the kitchen due to the mess.
Struggling to keep the boxes upright in her arms and close the door to her car, she groaned when the car keys slipped through her fingers. Before she had a chance to react, a muscular tan arm reached down and picked them up.
"Hey, Zara." Jared Cameron shot the brunette a lazy grin as he took some of the boxes of doughnuts from her. "Busy weekend?"
"Jared, hi. I guess you could say that." Zara stammered, shocked at the boy before her.
Somehow, since the last Tribe meeting, Jared had physically changed. Drastically. Despite having always been short, she could still tell that he had grown far taller than he had been before. He had packed on an insane amount of muscle and his hair had also been cut short. The weather was in no way warm but that didn't seem to affect Jared, who was wearing a black wife beater, showing the tribal tattoo branded on his upper arm. When his hand accidentally brushed her own, it was as if Zara had placed it too close to a fire.
Hurrying to get out of the chilly autumn air, Zara kept polite conversation with the man a little younger than she and resisted the urge to ask about his sudden change. However, before she built up the nerve, Luann came rushing over, squealing about the fresh batch of pastries. Practically snatching them out of the younger girl's arms, Luann hurried off to the back room to eat one or two before putting them on display.
"So, can I get you anything?" Zara smiled as she pulled on her apron, and got out her pad and pen.
"Can I have a Full Monty and a doughnut? With a cup of coffee, please?"
Staring up at his Alpha's imprint, Jared could tell why Sam was unable to stop thinking about her. Not only was she beautiful but also when she smiled at him, her eyes lit up and it was the kindest, sweetest thing he had ever seen. Even without an imprint, it was easy to see why a man might fall for her. Pulling out his cell, he messaged his Alpha and informed him to meet at the diner. Operation 'Alpha and Luna' was a go.
Watching her tables to ensure her customers weren't left waiting for anything, Zara lazily tilted her head to the door as the bell rang, informing her of a new customer. The smell of pine and the cool, crisp of the autumn air filled her nose. Turning to greet the newcomer, she halted in her tracks when she noticed it was Sam. Some small part of her couldn't deny how handsome the man was with his muscular physique, new haircut, his caring brown eyes, and the way he seemed to smile at only her. Which was ridiculous when he smiled at Leah all the time, a loving smile.
Spotting Jared, Sam made his way over to his Beta and tried to ignore the way his wolf called out to the beautiful waitress. Tried to ignore just how much he was aware of her presence.
"Why'd you want me to meet you here?" Sam's voice came out lower as he felt Zara getting closer.
"Afternoon, Sam. Can I get you anything?"
The intense feelings of love and lust coursing through him was like a punch to the gut as he tried to avoid looking into the brown eyes that had already gotten him into so much trouble. Somehow, she looked even more beautiful today than she had the last time he had seen her, even with the apron and dishevelled hair.
"I'll take some coffee and one of those doughnuts, please."
His voice sounded even deeper and more intoxicating than the last time she had spoken to him and Zara had to remind herself that, whilst he was handsome, he was completely off limits.
"Of course. I'll bring them right over."
He tried not to watch the way her hips swung in the red diner skirt, tried not to watch her tanned legs leave, and tried to ignore the yearning of his heart to follow after her. It would seem that no matter how hard he tried, the feelings of the imprint would never diminish. In fact, after some time apart, the feelings appeared to be getting strong. Sliding out of the booth, Sam hurried over to the counter to where she was making his coffee, and decided to be her friend. After all, being her friend was better than being nothing.