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THE CASSANDRA CHRONICLESThe Pack
By Blakely Cane
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Blakely Cane
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFrom the time I was a little girl I wanted to be the finder of lost things. Well, more specifically lost species and objects. For years I have distracted myself from the outside world by reading, books about Bigfoot, werewolves and mythological creatures have kept my mind open to all possibilities. Once I graduated from high school in a small town outside of Chicago, the fire was roaring to learn more, so I'm studying cryptozoology at the University of Michigan.
My freshman year went by without distraction, other than one small one ... Alec Archer professor of crypto. I didn't have him for any of my classes my freshman year but here I am two months into my sophomore year and he is currently the center of my universe. Unfortunately he doesn't know I exist. So I pass my two hours three times a week with him staring dreamily into his deep blue eyes, usually instead of paying attention. Today is no different.
"Cass snap out of it girl, class is almost over." My best friend and roommate since I came here whispered under her breath when she looked at the clock seeing we have ten minutes to complete this test that I have done nothing on. Why? Because I'm too busy daydreaming about my professor, oh god I'm that girl. Heaven help me. I winced and quickly dragged my eyes from the tall, dark and ruggedly handsome man at the front of the room and looked at my test. Lucky for me, I've been reading up for so long that passing tests in this class tends to be a breeze. In a near panic I quickly ran through the first two pages of the multiple choice test and hit the last one exactly four minutes from the end of class. If I can pull this off it will be a miracle.
"Cass hurry ..." Piper whispered.
"Shh!" Professor Archer hissed, god every time he opens his mouth he gives me chills the size of buses. What am I doing again? Oh yeah, a test on megalodon sharks. Come on Cassandra just two more and we're done and you can run and hide under a rock; then in a million years someone will study your distracted ass. Tapping my pencil nervously on the desk there was no mistaking the growl from the front of the room or the fact that I was under the scrutinizing eye of Alec Archer, god among men. Ugh, I hate pressure, always makes me have to pee; talk about distracting. Even worse, I caused it; yes I Cassandra Holloway orphan twenty year old did this to herself. What a moron.
"That's it pencils down." Professor Archer said clearly irritated about something, probably not me, he would have to know I exist for it to be an issue with me. Groans filled the room as fifty-seven other students with issues tried to finish. "I said now!" He demanded in that deep sultry voice of his. I squealed putting in the last answer on my test. "Pass them up." He said the minute I put my pencil down, I looked up to see he was looking right at me. I took the stack of tests from behind me and passed them to the front then dropped my head to my desk. Everyone else got up and started leaving as he dismissed us.
"Cassie let's go we have to get ready for that party at the Kappa house tonight." Piper coaxed pushing at my shoulder, I whimpered and looked up at her.
"I can't go, I just can't." I said getting up and gathering my books and purse. She groaned and rolled her eyes.
"Cassie we've talked about this, you are never going to get a boyfriend if you do not get out of the fucking dorm and go to some parties. You've been here a year and a half and still haven't been on a date. There is more to life than school and A's." She said frustrated with my antisocial behavior.
"Piper it is not, I'm here to learn not screw my weekends away pining for some dumb jock that wants absolutely nothing but to get in my pants. I'm no dummy; I know what happens at frat parties. I don't want to go." I snapped.
"Too bad you are going, you promised me." She whined and I groaned.
"Piper you know me well enough by now to know I never keep promises when it comes to parties. I hate crowds, I pretty much hate all girls and the guys; well let's just say I want someone with a brain." I said as we walked down the aisle to the front of the class shaking my head in frustration, she'll never understand me.
"Miss Holloway, my office in ten minutes." Professor Archer grumbled when I hit the bottom step. I stopped short and looked at him turning bright red, I could feel the blush rushing to my cheeks, he just arched his brow and set his jaw.
"Yes Professor Archer." I said and promptly pushed the stunned Piper out the door and into the hall full of students. "Oh shit I'm so screwed." I whimpered nervously and headed right for the bathroom.
"Please, you make straight A's Cassie; you can't possibly be in trouble." She grumbled following me in the bathroom and promptly lighting a cigarette. I snatched it and took a puff before I went in a stall.
"This is horrible I have one shot at this and I spend more time daydreaming than working, I'm so fucked Piper." Ah yes, the conversations we've had with one of us sitting on the toilet.
"Stop it Cass, you are not." She said as I washed my hands and then I snatched her cig again and took another puff anxiously leaning against the counter looking in the mirror. At five four I sort of blend in because everyone is taller than me, I'm easily missed to say the least. I fussed with my long blonde hair fixing the giant curls that fall nearly to my butt, then I nervously pulled out my makeup bag and freshened my face a bit and shoved a piece of gum in my mouth then looked at Piper not bothering to hide how worried I was.
"You are gorgeous Cassie don't worry, as if it matters anyway. I saw him yesterday with Bethany Briggs having lunch." She said and I frowned, there goes another chance. Bethany is the prettiest girl on campus, Miss U of M last year, gross; beauty queens make me gag. Why in the hell would mister hot to trot want anything to do with me when he has her falling at his feet? I sighed shaking my head then grabbed my things in a huff.
"I'll see you at the dorm Piper."
"Okay, good luck." She said worriedly as I pushed the bathroom door open and headed down the stairs to his office. God I've never been called to a teacher's office before, I don't remember the last time I was this damn nervous. When I got to the door I stopped and took a deep breath then I knocked. Not sure what procedure is about such things so I did the polite thing.
"Come." He yelled and I winced and opened the door and went inside his office stacked with tons of books and models and bones, a dream for a girl like me. I was almost more distracted by the things in his office than by him. "Have a seat Miss Holloway." He said sternly and I glanced over at him and nodded slightly then sat in the chair in front of his desk as he sat in his chair and folded his massive strong hands on top of his desk. His black button down shirt was rolled up at the sleeves revealing his dark tanned skin, he had lost his tie since class and unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt. I watched the muscles in his forearm twitch, seems he's fidgety too, wonder why.
I was so nervous I could hear my heart pounding, he must have heard it since it was so damn quiet in his office. I chewed on my bottom lip and looked at him with big brown eyes through my thick lashes. I seemed to have forgotten how to form words at all and just stared looking like a fool I'm sure. Why isn't he saying anything? Did he just bring me in here so he could make me so nervous I wanted to puke or what? I watched in horror as the corners of his mouth turned up as though he heard my thoughts. That's not possible. Let's hope not at least because if he can hear my thoughts he knows all about the yummy fantasies I've been having about him since the day I first laid eyes on him. Ahh, the smile grew just a little and blood flooded my cheeks.
"Miss Holloway, you are one of the best students I've had in my class to date. You are smart, driven, determined and inventive. However, this test ... you suck." He said holding my test up and I gasped, he just arched his brow and plopped it down in front of me.
"I know, I'm sorry there's no excuse, I know the material I should have done better." I said regretfully looking down.
"You should have aced it Cassie. Unfortunately this will do some damage to your grade point average, so I thought I would be a nice guy for a change and offer you the opportunity to make it up, extra credit if you will." He said and I arched my brow interested in this offer, maybe; I have heard horrible stories about what extra credit means to hot professors. In answer, he grunted and I cocked my head to the side; I would bet he can hear my thoughts but that's impossible I need to get that out of my head, clearly I read too many damn books.
"What kind of extra credit?" I asked and he sighed and sat back putting his arms behind his head, holy shit he's making me a crazy bitch, everything he does is sexy, everything. I bet even the gross things he does are sexy. He bit his bottom lip, didn't smile but his eyes brightened. That's it, no more thinking around Professor Archer; just in case.
"Well I think you show great promise, you came into my class knowing a lot of the material already. Take a look at this." He said and tossed a file folder to me, I hesitantly opened it up to find newspaper clippings. The first one was a sighting of an unidentified creature in the forest flanking Lake Eerie; well that's highly appropriate. I flipped to the next and yet another sighting of a large creature, hairy with big teeth and eyes but not always on two legs. Not a biped.
"Hmm, well it's not a bigfoot based on descriptions."
"What does it sound like to you?" He asked and I winced and looked up at him.
"I can't tell you that, if I tell you I have to kill you lest you send the men with white coats after me." I said and he laughed.
"Come on Cass what do you think?" He coaxed with a gorgeous smile and gleaming white teeth. I shook my head and looked at the material again.
"Well, this description stands out to me, people say they smell dog. That reminds me of a story I heard back home, in the valley you can drive down the street through the country and I have a friend who claims that he was there one night late and there was a creature in the middle of the street, huge, doglike but standing on two legs. He said it's a werewolf. This sounds the same to me."
"He ran over it." I said and he gasped and his jaw clenched, I cocked my head to the side then smiled. "It didn't die, he said that when he hit it ... it ghosted through the car. When he looked in his rear view it was standing in the road, hadn't moved a bit. But I can tell you that his car reeked for weeks after that, the nastiest dog smell permeated everything in it." I said and he nodded coolly. "Um, why ask me?" I asked hesitantly.
"I want to go look for it." He said.
"Why? I mean if it is undiscovered for this long it doesn't want to be found. Besides if you found one they would test it and poke it with needles and cage it and make a mockery out of a mythical creature."
"And that right there is why I want you to go with me." He said and I burst into giggles.
"Yeah right, I'm sort of an indoor girl Professor."
"That's not true, you run every morning and sometimes at night. You are out of the dorm more than in it, you do your reading in the quad outside ..." He said knowingly and I frowned. Shit he did notice me, holy fuck what do I do now? "Come with me Cassie." Did he just answer my thought?
"I think that's a horrible idea." I said shaking my head.
"I can't tell you that either, it just is." I said firmly.
"Cassie it's extra credit, you go with me and I make this grade go away, problem solved and you keep your four point grade point average."
"That's blackmail." I snapped stunned and he smiled.
"No it's extra credit. We leave next Friday after class."
"But that's fall break."
"And you don't have a family to go home to, neither do I so let's go on a research trip." He said and I sat back frowning. He sat forward and pierced me with his intense blue eyes. "Listen, I'm putting together another trip for the summer, sort of an internship. I want to see how you do in the field, if you are as good there as you are on paper you're a shoe in."
"A week in the woods, alone with you?" I asked and he smiled and nodded.
"Uh-huh." He said and I whimpered internally my stomach in knots. I simply can't deny how exciting the prospect of finding a werewolf or unknown species is, or the ripping desire to spend a week alone with captain stud puppy but damn. I'm already plenty distracted by him, it's a disaster in the making and if I fuck up I lose my scholarship and I can't afford that. However, if that grade goes on my record it's in danger already. Lost in thought and contemplating all sides, making my internal pro-con list my internal dialogue was cut short when my cell phone rang. I shook my head to clear it and pulled it out of my purse.
"What?" I answered irritated by the interruption.
"Hurry up Cassie, where in the hell are you?"
"I'm coming Piper, give me fifteen minutes." I said.
"Cassie the boys await, and you'll never guess ... Ryan Snyder asked about you, he wants to know if you are coming tonight." She said and I gasped, he's only the quarterback of the football team.
"You are full of shit." I said stunned and grinning.
"I am not, hurry up you must look hot for him."
"That'll only take forever ..." I grumbled defeated already, there's no way he's interested in me, not when all the cheerleaders are on their backs every night for him.
"It won't either, when are you going to admit there is a hottie underneath all those brains?"
"Shut up, I have to go. Be there soon."
"Hurry ..." She grumbled impatiently and hung up. I sighed and dropped my phone back in my purse and looked at captain stud puppy.
"Can I think about it?"
"Nope, I need an answer now so I can plan over the weekend." He said casually and I pouted. "Oh come on Cassie it'll be fun."
"Yeah I've heard those words before." I grumbled. I do not want to go to this party with Piper tonight I already feel like barfing. "Fine, I'll go and you'll make that flaming 'F' go away?" I asked and he nodded.
"Yes ma'am." He answered firmly, I sighed and reached across his desk to shake on it. He chewed on the inside of his cheek lost in thought then shook my hand. Ladies and gentlemen we have an electric touch, heaven help me I am so screwed. "Thank you Cass, you won't be sorry I promise." Uh-huh sure thing studly boy. "I'll send you an email with the details and what you need to bring, if you don't have something call me and let me know, I'll get it for you." He said standing up, I gathered my things and got to my feet.
"Okay I'll look for it." I said and turned going to the door, just as I was about to turn the knob he cleared his throat.
"Hey Cassandra?" He said and I looked over my shoulder. "Careful with Ryan, he's a punk." I blew out a huge breath and turned the knob and left not answering him. Tell me about it, I think I know that already. I was halfway down the hall before his words sank in and I stopped, feeling a little dizzy. How in the hell did he know I was meeting Ryan tonight? Unless he heard and how could he have? Standing there in the middle of the empty corridor I had that odd feeling that someone was watching me and a shiver shot up my spine, the little hairs on my arm stood up and I turned around; nothing there, and she's officially losing it.
"I am not wearing that!" I snapped when Piper tossed me a little mini dress and stilettos.
"Yes you are, it'll be hot and Ryan will love it."
"Piper it says something I don't want to say to him."
"What? Take me to bed right now or watch your chance go out the window? That's kind of the point. It is my mission to get you laid this year and you cannot go wrong with Ryan Snyder."
"He's banged half the school Piper, there's no telling what kind of diseases he has."
"So practice safe sex." She said casually as I got dressed grumbling.
"The only safe sex is no sex, I cannot afford to have an accident or get sick." I said not willing to come off my moral high horse. Yeah I think about sex, but up until now I've managed to keep my legs closed for business. And one day I'll fall in love with some perfect man and I'll have the ultimate gift for him.
"You are twenty years old, at your sexual peak and you don't have sex, it's disgusting." She grumbled finishing her hair.
"Shut up, it works for me. Besides I'm determined not to wind up like my mother."
Excerpted from THE CASSANDRA CHRONICLES by Blakely Cane Copyright © 2012 by Blakely Cane. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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