I swear, I must have sat there for ten minutes just staring at Dex before he waved his hand in front of my face.

 

"Helloooo?  Earth to..." he glanced down at the sheet of paper in his hand. "Amber Pace, right?  Is that your name?"

 

I nodded, my mouth still hanging open.

 

He raised his eyebrows, like he was waiting for something.  Then, leaning across my desk, he whispered loud enough for everyone to hear, "This is the part where you say, 'here!'"

 

"Uh, here?" I mumbled.

 

"Excellent," he said, standing up straight and marking my name off the note in his hands. "Grace Marcher?"

 

"Here."

 

I watched him for a few seconds, moving from one side of the room to the other like there was nothing weird going on, and then I heard the snickers coming from behind me.  My face started to burn, and I fought the urge to look back at them.  In typical Dex style, we'd only been in the same room for a minute and he'd already managed to humiliate me in front of everyone.

 

"As you may have guessed," he said, swaggering back to the front of the class, "Mr. Ragg is sick, so I'm filling in for him today."

 

"I just thought you ought to know that there's going to be a sub in history class today."

 

My face went from red to pasty white in less than a second.

 

"Ed, you can go straight to hell," I grumbled under my breath.

 

"If you would all be so kind as to open your textbooks to page 394, we can get started," Dex said.

 

I watched him with eyes narrowed as he turned to the whiteboard and began writing on it, only looking away long enough to turn to the page he'd said.  It was right in the middle of a chapter we had covered months ago.  I wasn't the only one who realized this.

 

"Um, sir?" one of my classmates said, holding up her hand.  "We've—"

 

Dex raised a finger. "Ah, ah!  I didn't give you permission to speak, Chelsea."

 

She lowered her hand a little, looking puzzled.

 

Dex nodded his approval. "Good.  Ask your question."

 

"We've already—"

 

He cut her off again, "Nuh uh, Simon didn't say!"

 

I clamped my mouth shut.  It was the only way to hold in my groan.  Seriously?  He was doing Simon Says jokes?  I mean, not that I expected him to be a paragon of comedy or anything, but... Simon Says?

 

Chelsea's face started to turn red now too.

 

Get used to it, I thought wryly. It only goes downhill from here.

 

Dex smiled smugly. "Very well, Simon says you may ask your question."

 

Now Chelsea's face was as scarlet as mine, and she actually looked close to tears.  I almost felt bad for her.

 

"We- we've already read this chapter," she mumbled, sinking lower into her seat to try and escape the judgmental eyes of her classmates.

 

Dex slapped his forehead in astonishment. "What, you have?" he turned back to the whiteboard. "I don't care."

 

He raised his marker and began drawing.  A minute later, there was a blue stick man facing down the most crudely drawn cow I had ever seen... at least, I think it was a cow.  The cow was drawn with purple ink, even though Dex had never switched markers.  I don't think anybody else noticed.

 

"In the year 1302," he declared, "George Washington won the Civil War by crossing the Delaware.  He did this on a bet, the condition being that if he won the Nazis all had to go home.  The Yanks were so thrilled with their victory that they dumped a barrel of tea on the President.  This became known as the Boston Tea Party."

 

He spun back around to see us all staring at him in bewilderment.

 

"You'd better write that down," he said, motioning impatiently with his hand. "It's going to be on the test."

 

The others reluctantly pulled out their notebooks and jotted that down, but I refused to move, arms crossed.  He turned to me.

 

"You too, Miss Pace," he said, and flashed me an irritating grin.  I don't think I ever hated him more than I did right then.

 

I opened my notebook as well and wrote, Dexter is an idiot.

 

"So, after that," he went on, talking fast, "Napoleon took over Antarctica and brought Christmas snow to Egypt by means of parting the ocean in exchange for half of their Hebrew slaves.  The most trustworthy account we have of this is in Shakespeare's autobiography.  Fifteen thousand years later, give or take, Rip Van Winkle awoke from his nap and waged war on the Mongol Hordes, but then Emperor Caesar invented the Collapsing Roman Empire, and that was the beginning of the digital age."  He pointed at his drawing from before. "I drew the cow to distract you.  Ignore it."

 

Dex prattled on for half an hour, somehow keeping a straight face during the whole lesson.  For the first ten minutes nobody knew what to think, but eventually they began to snicker again.  I might have laughed with them, if I wasn't so busy trying to figure out what was going on.

 

What's your game, Dex? I thought. What's the point of taking over one of my classes like this?

 

Finally, Dex spun around and scribbled the stick figure out.  I looked up and saw that he had drawn a UFO over its head, and a crocodile about to bite his feet off.  The class erupted in laughter.

 

"And I think that's enough for today," I think, he said, putting the cap back on his magic color changing marker. "How about you all head down to the computer lab and work on a report for the rest of class?  I expect all your facts to be sited straight from Wikipedia."

 

Still unsure of what to think of their substitute, everyone rose from their seats and filed toward the door.  I got up and tried to join them, but stopped when I felt Dex's hand alight on my shoulder.

 

"Hold on a second, Amber," he said.  I could hear the grin in his voice. "I need to discuss your grades with you in private."

 

I sighed.  Why wasn't I surprised?  I waited until all the other students were gone, and then shrugged off his hand and turned to look at him.

 

"All right," I said, crossing my arms. "What do you idiots want this time?"

 

Dex cocked his head and gave me a wounded look. "Well, I'm happy to see you too, Sugarsnout."

 

I frowned, but didn't reply.  Truth be told, Dex was the Majestic goon I hated the least.  He may be a pain in the butt, but at least it seemed like he tried to help when he could.  He had been the one to help me break Kimberly out of the funeral home, and he'd done his part to catch the original Silverblood.  He'd even attacked Hendricks the day I'd been kidnapped, even if it'd ended with him promptly being knocked out.  Ed was a coward, and Victor was... a few choice words I'm not going to share with you.  Dex, idiot though he might be, at least seemed like he had a heart.

 

I wasn't going to tell him that, though.

 

"First of all," he said, raising his finger, "let me piss you off.  We're the reason you had to come to school today."

 

He leaned back against the whiteboard, getting purple cow ink on his fine black suit, and stuck his hands in his pockets, waiting for my reaction with that annoying smile.

 

I shrugged. "I didn't want to stay home anyway."

 

The smile fell from his face. "What, seriously?  What's wrong with you?"

 

"What do you want, Dexter?"

 

He winced. "You're using my full name, huh?  That must mean you're not happy with me."

 

"Dex, I swear to God I'll kick you in the crotch if you don't answer me."

 

Dex sighed, but when he looked me in the eyes his gaze was dead serious. "Fine.  We brought you here so we could warn you about something."

 

His expression was so... Un-Dexterish that I felt a chill run down my spine.  Before I could ask what he meant, he went on.

 

"Something bad is coming.  Go home tonight, and don't leave until we give you the all clear."

 

I snorted. "We already know about Becky.  Stark's put up some wards around the cabin to keep her away.  There's nothing to..." My voice trailed off when Dex started shaking his head.

 

"I'm not talking about Becky," he said. "What's coming is way, way worse."

 

I don't think I had ever seen Dex act like this before.  He never seemed to take anything seriously, always slinging jokes left and right with his dry sense of humor.  Maybe that's why I found myself listening to him.

 

"What could possibly be worse than a hyena the size of Stark's pickup truck?" I asked, smirking, hoping he would drop the act and start laughing already.

 

Dex gritted his teeth and looked out the window, away from me, and waited a few seconds before saying. "Tonight there's going to be another snowstorm.  School will be closed tomorrow.  Probably the next few days, in fact." He turned back towards me and looked me straight in the eye. "Stay inside, don't go out for anything."

 

"Okay, you're starting to creep me out, Dex," I said. "Seriously, what's going on?"

 

"It's better if you don't know.  Just keep what I said in mind.  Tell Stark too."

 

"How am I supposed to tell him anything if you won't even tell me what's happening?"

 

Dex hesitated, and for a second I thought he was going to come clean. "Just tell him they will be passing through.  He'll know what that means."

 

I lowered my eyebrows and gave him my most menacing glare. "Dex, if you don't quit being vague with me right now, I'm going to—"

 

"You'd better get to your next class," he interrupted me.  He pushed away from the wall and gave me one of his sly smiles, though this one seemed somehow insincere. "Don't want to get detention now, do you?"

 

I put my foot down. "I'm not going anywhere until—"

 

Werewolves are naturally stronger than humans, almost on a superhero level.  Even the strongest human would have a hard time outmuscling the weakest werewolf.  That was why I was so shocked when Dex grabbed me by my shoulders, spun me around, and pushed me out of the classroom.  I dug my heels into the tiled floor, but that barely slowed him down, and the next thing I knew I was stumbling out into the hallway.  That drew a few strange looks, but I didn't care.  I spun back around to face Dex just as he gave me a cheery wave and shut the door.

 

I lunged forward and grabbed the door handle. "Oh no you don't, you little..."

 

I threw the door open, but the classroom was empty.

 

“Craaaaaap!”

 

There was no point in staying there now, so I reluctantly went to my next class.  Dex's warning buzzed through my head the entire day.  I couldn't make heads or tails out of it.  What could be worse than a demon crime lord and his grizzly-sized pet, and what would they want with me?  The questions itched at my brain all day long, and I didn't take a single note in any of my classes.  With nothing else to go on, I decided to take his advice and pass the warning on to my alpha.

 

"Stark!" I yelled when I finally got home, stomping snow off my shoes and closing the door behind me.  Kimberly gave me a sidelong look, but then headed for her room.

 

"What'sat?" Stark grunted, sitting upright in the same chair he'd fallen asleep in before I left for school.

 

"Sorry," I said, setting my backpack down on the floor and collapsing on the couch. "I didn't think you'd still be asleep."

 

He still looked tired, and not at all happy that I'd woken him up. "What is it, Amber?"

 

"I got a message from Majestic today," I answered. "They want me to tell you that they will be passing through tonight, so don't leave the house until they give the all clear." I wiggled my fingers. "Scary, huh?  What a bunch of drama queens."

 

Suddenly, Stark seemed wide awake, and he leaned towards me with a look in his eyes so much like Dex's that I felt a pit form in my stomach.

 

"They said they're coming here tonight?" he demanded. "You're sure that's what he said?"

 

"Y- yeah," I said. "He didn't tell me who they were or anything, but he said that you would—"

 

He leaped from his chair, as spry as a frog, and ran to the front door.  He locked it.

 

"Stark, what's going on?" I asked, sitting on my knees to look at him over the back of the couch.

 

Once he'd checked the door, he went to each of the windows and made sure they were latched too.

 

"Stark!" I yelled, and then covered my mouth when he spun around to look at me.

 

We faced off for a few seconds, and the look in his eyes... suddenly I felt like I was back in the Swag Pag again.  He was my alpha.  He was my alpha, and I'd yelled at him.  I'd shown defiance, and now he was mad.  I would be lucky to get away with a mild beating, and...

 

"As of right now, this house is on lockdown," he said, pointing at me, eyes wide. "Nobody in, nobody out.  Got that?"

 

I took a deep breath, and then nodded. "I understand.  But why?"

 

"Amber," he cut me off. "Nobody in.  Nobody out."

 

Before I could ask again, he dashed into the hallway to make sure the other windows were locked.

 

 

NEXT TIME: Ooh, look out everybody!  They are gonna get ya!  Who are they?  What do they want?  And why do they have to be italicized every time they’re mentioned?  I’m sure Dex and Stark know what they’re doing, though, right?  A vague, ominous warning has never, ever backfired before, ever, amiright?

Chapter Eleven

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