Mac (Mammoth Forest Wolves Book 2)(4)

By: Kimber White

Would I stay? That was the question. Through no fault of her own...well...let’s be real...through large fault of her own, Nikki was the first reason I started to question what was happening in this town.

A little over a year ago, I’d been given an offer I didn’t think I could refuse. A simple email changed my life. I couldn’t afford college. Hell, the minute I graduated from high school, I knew I wouldn’t even be able to afford a place to live. I was on borrowed time, living in my English teacher’s basement out of the kindness of her heart. My father’s claim to fame had hit the local papers after my mother died. I had nothing and nobody. Rather than letting me spend the last few months of my seventeenth year in foster care, Mrs. Gerhardt took me in.

If she was the one who sent in the scholarship application for me, she wouldn’t admit it. But, the email came anyway and changed my life. I’d been offered a full ride at Birch Haven College, including room and board and everything. So, I came. Who wouldn’t in my situation? My freshman year had been perfect. Meeting Nikki was perfect. Like me, she had no real family left. Like me, she’d gotten an email offering the scholarship that changed her life. It had been perfect for both of us. Maybe too perfect.

She blew out an exasperated breath and tapped her fingers on her Psych textbook as if the information in it would somehow transmit to her brain that way. Her phone rang again and she gave me a shrug and answered it.

When her expression grew dark listening to whoever was on the other end of that phone, I came to her. I sank on the bed beside her. Nikki held up a finger. Her breaths started to come heavy. Her pink tank top plunged into a low vee and little red blotches started appearing on her exposed skin. I touched her leg.

“Who the fuck is it?” I mouthed.

“Do not call me again, okay? No means no.” Nikki threw the phone to the bed. She drew a shaky hand through her hair and forced a smile as she looked back at me.

“You wanna fill me in?” I asked.

“It’s nothing,” she said, but the hives on her chest blossomed. It happened when she got angry or nervous. At the moment, Nikki was both.

I grabbed her phone before she could stop me and pulled up her recent calls. The last incoming call started with three sevens, marking it as an on-campus number.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said, taking a wild stab. “Was that Joel?”

Nikki forced another smile. It was no good though. She was freaking out. Joel Wisher was a campus police officer and nearly thirty years old. He’d been sniffing around Nikki for weeks. The guy was a straight-up creep who clearly didn’t know how to take no for an answer. He’d asked Nikki out a few times and sent flowers to our room last week. She’d been as polite as she could be turning him down. Nikki’s reaction now got my blood pumping. Joel had been a nuisance, sure, but Nikki looked terrified.

“Hey,” I said, touching her arm gently. “Don’t lie to me. That was Joel, right? How did he get your number?”

The second I asked, the truth burned through me, and if I were prone to it like she was, I might have sprouted hives too. Joel probably had access to the student information. If he’d pulled Nikki’s cell phone, it meant he’d abused his position and invaded her privacy. No wonder she was so freaked.

“Nikki, we need to call Joel’s boss. This is not cool of him to contact you like that.”

Nikki shook her head. “Can we just forget about it for now? Joel’s harmless. Probably. You heard me. I told him never to call me again. I don’t know how much more clear I can be. He’ll go away.”

I wanted to press her to do more. None of Nikki’s rebuffs hadn’t made Joel go away yet, and this phone call was pretty bold.

“Nikki, come on. We both know what he is. God. What they all are. You can’t mess around with a guy like that.”

“Eve, I mean it.” She practically shouted it. Nikki’s voice echoed off the dorm room walls. “Just leave it alone, okay? I can handle it. I promise. I just need to get a little air. If you don’t mind, I’m going to head down to the fitness center and get in a run.”

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