Read Chapter 1 of Fang and Claw by K.A. Faul

Fang and Claw

By K.A. Faul

Chapter One


Mina blocked the large bearded man’s punch, spun, and planted her elbow into his face. She was rewarded with a satisfying thud. He grunted and stumbled back, holding his nose and grimacing, but she hadn’t broken anything.

She’d barely worked up a sweat. Ass kicking could be fun when the other person wasn’t trying to murder you with golden knives and bullets. Unlike Garett, her current opponent could take a few hits without losing control.

Just another wolf here to test me, huh? Have to love all these packs suddenly interested in me.

Even if she’d not spent a huge amount of time around Jason since his arrival in Golden Oaks a few years back, from what she’d seen, he wasn’t a flaming asshole.

Mina grinned and bounced back, her feet shifting in the bloodied sand of the training pit. “Regretting asking me to spar now, Jason?”

“Nah. I don’t have regrets.” Jason spit out some blood and shook his head. “A fight where you don’t get banged up isn’t a real fight. Keep it up, Mina, and you might just impress me.”

Mina doubted she’d hurt Jason badly enough for it to take more than a day to regenerate, but fast healing wouldn’t do anything about the actual pain. She didn’t enjoy hurting people not named Garett, but she wasn’t going to stand there and let anyone take her down without putting up a fight, especially not after she’d managed to get people to respect her as a wolf and stop treating her like a reject from the weregerbil factory.

She snickered and took a few steps back, adding in as much cocky swagger as she could manage. A little psychological warfare could help.

Mina motioned with her fingers for him to attack. “Bring it, big bad wolf.”

Jason grunted and charged her, this time going for an obvious tackle. Mina spun to the side, but his long arms caught her legs. He yanked them out from under her.

Mina’s back and head slammed into the ground, knocking all the wind out of her. Jason jammed her leg forward. Pain spiked through the limb. She gritted her teeth.

Damn, that hurts. He’s not playing.

It looked like Jason was willing to risk breaking her leg to win the fight. If he was willing to go that far, she was more than willing to repay him in kind. Time for some real-world cheapness.

Mina gasped for air as she grabbed a handful of sand. Just as Jason’s grin grew the widest, she tossed the coarse sand into his eyes.

Sorry, but not sorry.

Jason let her go of her leg, the pain retreating but not gone. A quick roll to the side and a jump to her feet jolted Mina’s aching leg, but her enemy remained disoriented, blinking and brushing sand out of his eyes.

Mina gave him a hungry grin. “If I had a golden knife, I could have already stabbed it into your throat. You left yourself open.” She patted her leg. “This is probably going to hurt until I go to sleep tonight, so I owed you.”

“Sure, but damn, Mina. Sand in the eyes? That’s harsh.” Jason grunted.

Mina snorted. “I almost got killed by a Hunter because of a snare trap on my Rite of Passage. Cheap is what I expect from my enemies.”

Of course, very few wolves knew a wereraven had saved her life during her Rite, not that she felt compelled to tell them.

“I might be a werewolf,” Mina continued, “but you’re also a werewolf and bigger and stronger than me. If there’s one thing I learned on my Rite of Passage, it’s that you do what you need to do in a fight to win. Not only for yourself, but for your pack and friends. Got a problem with that?” She locked eyes with him, pouring all her defiance into her face. “If so, you can walk right now. This little sparring session is over. I’m through apologizing to anyone in this clan.”

The bearded man lowered his fists and shook his head, a faint smile on his face. “No, I don’t have a problem with that, Mina. I wasn’t about to give you some big lecture about the rules or honor or some crap. I agree with you. If you’re trying to take down an enemy, getting too worked up about the noblest way to do it doesn’t make sense.” He shrugged. “If we’re in wolf form, we’re going to tear them to shreds anyway. I’m sure a lot of humans don’t think that’s all that honorable.”

I’m getting worked up about nothing. Jason’s not here to mess with me. Not everyone’s Garett. Got to dial it down to only fifty percent bitchiness.

Mina blew out a breath and wiped some blood off the side of her face. “We done with the ass kicking for today?” She rubbed her leg. “Not eager to break anything. You got me good there.”

Jason gave her a quick nod. “I just wanted to test you out myself. My alpha always says you can’t really know a person until you’ve fought them, and it seems like you mostly just spar with Thomas and Anna.”

He motioned to a stone bench and headed that way. Mina followed him, her leg still aching, and they both took a seat.

Might as well get this over with. Not like he asked to spar for the fun of it. I should be flattered, even if it is kind of annoying that I’m suddenly so popular.

Mina eyed Jason. “Not that I don’t have a good idea already, but care to share why you decided to ask me to spar all of a sudden? Not exactly like we’re close. I mean, we see each other around town, but that’s about it, and that’s the way it’s always been since you came to Golden Oaks.”

“Fair enough. It’s been two months since your Rite, and you haven’t joined a pack.”


Jason shrugged. “You should probably pick one, don’t you think?”

Mina smirked. “At some point, yeah, that would be a great idea. Haven’t found one that works for me yet.”

“You haven’t found one, or don’t want to be in one?” Jason rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. “Why don’t you want to be in a pack? It’s not like you’re a bear. You’re a wolf. Everyone has their theories, but I wanted to hear from you.”

Mina’s smile disappeared. She hadn’t thought much about it, but there was one other Golden Claw wolf who hadn’t picked a pack in recent years, her older brother Brent, who had disappeared.

I’m not Brent. I’m not Sean. I’m not my father. Screw this.

Mina inhaled deeply, enjoying the thick woodsy scent dominating the air. Some people in Golden Oaks, both shifter and Unturned, felt the town was small, isolated, and insular. While she couldn’t disagree with that, if she was forced to leave, she would prefer to go to another small town and not some temple to glass, steel, and choking air like Seattle or Portland.

Guess I’m just a country wolf at heart.

“I’ve got my reasons.” She made a circular gesture with her hand. No reason to waste either her time or Jason’s “Well, let’s hear it, then. I’m sure we both have other things we need to do today.”

Jason blinked. “Huh? Hear what?”

“The speech. The pitch. That’s what you’re here for, right? To convince me why your pack needs my sassy little mouth in it.” Mina shrugged. “A few months ago, most of this town hated me and would have been happy for Garett to pound my face in, but now, everyone wants me as a member. Funny how things change.”

Jason let out a loud laugh. “It’s not that weird. You proved yourself. That’s the point of the Rite of Passage.” He scratched his beard. “And you proved yourself in a way a lot of Initiates never get to. I never said much for or against you before. I’ll admit that. Not trying to claim I was some great friend, but I wasn’t a dick either. It doesn’t matter either way.”

“It doesn’t?”

He nodded. “Now that you have proven yourself, you’re an asset to any pack.”

A wide grin split Mina’s face. “I wonder how much of this has to do with me proving myself versus me being able to speak to animals, but I’ll admit I’m surprised more people don’t think I’m a freak because of that.”

“A useful power is an asset to a pack and the clan.” Jason pointed to the red streak in her otherwise dark hair. “Lots of wolves have the Mark of Rogan, but not a lot of wolves get actual powers to come with it. I underestimated you, and my alpha underestimated you. Hell, the entire clan underestimated you.” He shrugged. “Even without your powers, you’d still be an impressive addition to any pack. Not a lot of people can claim solo completion of their Rite of Passage.” He grunted. “And let me make something clear. My alpha wants you as part of our pack before the next Rite of Passage. It’s political crap or whatever you want to call it. There are a lot more Initiates going through the next Rite, and a lot of good pack candidates. Like it or not, Mina, you’re famous now in the clan, and not just because your father is the king.”

Political crap, huh? He blows it off like it’s nothing, but my dad and Sheriff Storm keep telling me, we had a coup only a couple of decades ago. Politics for werewolves ends with someone getting their head torn off.

Mina sighed, the cool September breeze caressing her face. The relentless gray clouds of the last few days consumed the sky, a stark change from the blue heavens of the summer. The seasons changed and cycled, but when people, human or werewolf, changed, it was hard to return to what they once were. Maybe impossible.

“I don’t like the idea that I’m some sort of trophy,” Mina murmured. “I’m not going to say I don’t like it better now that people are telling me I rock, but it doesn’t sit well with me on some level.” She shrugged. “But that also could just be too many years of built-up bitchiness. Or a little bit of both.”

Jason chuckled. “I don’t see the big deal. People didn’t respect you before. You proved you’re worthy of respect, so now you’re getting it. That’s the wolf way.” He held up a hand. “I’m not here to piss you off, and I didn’t think I’d come here and convince you to join right away, but can you at least tell me if you’ve got any packs you’re interested in? We’d like to know the competition.”

Makes me sound like I’m some rich debutante trying to choose a wealthy suitor.

Mina furrowed her brow and thought about the question. “No, not really. I know I don’t want to be in Sheriff Storm’s pack.” She sighed. “I respect the Sheriff and Thomas, but I’d probably murder Garett or vice-versa within a week, so that’s a bad match. For now, I’m keeping an open mind, otherwise. Just waiting to see who I might fit with. I know everyone, but that’s not the same as knowing if I’d be good in a pack with them.”

Jason nodded. “Just keep us in mind. There are a lot of good wolves in our pack, including our alpha.”

“Not saying there isn’t. This isn’t about wolves sucking, other than Garett. This is more about me making sure I end up somewhere I belong. I’ve spent a lot of years learning to be a certain way, and I’m not going to be able to get rid of that, so I need to find people who truly understand that.” Mina blew out a breath. “Trust me. It’s not that deep, and I’m not deluded. I’m under no delusions that I’m not a stubborn bitch at times.”

They both chuckled.

For a brief moment, Mina entertained the notion of asking to join her father’s pack, but it was a rare child who did well in their parent’s pack, one of the reasons the idea was discouraged. A strong clan needed dynamism within, and diversity of packs was a good way to strengthen it.

She also didn’t want to confirm to Jason she was a strange werewolf who didn’t want to be in a pack at all, even if he already sensed it. Her hard-won respect might fade away if people began to whisper about her being like Brent. All her agonizing over the question never let her decide if she was reacting from years of taking crap from other wolves, or if there was something else fundamentally wrong with her. Even if they wanted her to join in their werewolf games now, that didn’t change how she’d been treated.

No one likes a lone wolf, Mina. You’ll have to get it together.

A flutter off a tree caught Mina’s attention. Dozens of birds stood on the branches of nearby trees, watching her like it was a freaky convention or the beginning of a horror movie.

Can a werewolf even be a damsel-in-distress? Or would I be the monster in the movie?

Mina stood and slowly walked toward the closest tree and the line of small birds lining its branches, their dark eyes bearing down on her.

“Something wrong, Mina?” Jason asked, tension underlining his voice.

She held up a hand. “Nothing, just stay there. Don’t want you to scare the birds.”

“Okay…” Jason didn’t sound convinced everything was okay, but Mina wasn’t even sure anything was wrong, only that a lot of birds were watching her.

She continued toward the tree, keeping her gaze locked on the birds, half-waiting for one of them to drop and shift, but she didn’t see any ravens, and as far as she knew, they were the only bird shifters in the Pacific Northwest.

Is something wrong? Mina sent to a bird.

He tilted his head back and forth as he stared down at her. He chirped once.

The four and two legs wolf who can hear, he sent back.

Yes. That’s me.

Even after two months, Mina was still getting used to communicating with animals. Despite her ability growing stronger, it was still hard to wrap her mind around the best way to communicate as her power was more an exchange of translated sensations parsed as words than the direct exchange of true words she could share with other wolves using wolf thought. She wasn’t sure if there was a fundamental difference, or if it was a mere reflection of intelligence differences, but her failed experiments trying to communicate with Linh in her raven form proved even her new powers had limits. It didn’t help she had no mentor who could train her in the use of her ability.

You fight other four and two legs, the bird sent. No food to fight over.

Mina glanced over at Jason. Not real fight. Play.

Four and two legs wolves are strange.

She chuckled. You could say that. Why are there so many birds here?

Trust the four and two legs wolf who can hear.

The bird fluttered away, as did all the others. Mina let out a sigh of relief. No grand conspiracies that day, no cryptic clues leading to Hunters, only birds less frightened of her kind because they knew that she was among them. It was a victory of sorts.

Mina wasn’t surprised at the conversation either. It was interesting speaking to animals, but she’d not found one yet who was that deep a conversationalist, even if certain crows and a few dogs she’d talked to did better than most.

“Is there a problem?” Jason called. He chuckled. “It’s funny. I see wolves talking to each other using wolf thought, and it doesn’t freak me out at all, but seeing you standing there, doing whatever with the birds, and…”

Mina grinned over her shoulder. “It freaks you out?”

Jason grimaced. “I’m not saying it’s wrong or something. Just hard to get used to. Not trying to talk crap. It’s cool, just different.”

Mina waved a hand. “Don’t worry about it. Most people in town are still a little freaked by it.” She shook her head. “And, no, there’s nothing wrong. Just think of them as bird tourists who wanted to see a celebrity.” She nodded away from the training ground. “Last pack recruiter bought me lunch. You going to buy me lunch? You won’t even have a chance if you don’t buy me lunch.”

“I think I can swing that. Mind if I invite someone from my pack?”

Mina smiled. “As long as they don’t try and jump me during lunch. Got to give me time to digest my pasta.”

Jason laughed. “I think we can swing that.”



Chapter Two


Mina padded along the darkened forest in wolf form, sniffing along the ground and following the scent of rabbit. The dying rays of the setting sun cut through the forest, providing a small amount of illumination. Her superior werewolf vision let her operate well enough even at night, even if it was feeble compared to Linh’s sight in her raven form.

She wasn’t sure who was getting the better deal. As a werewolf, Mina could regenerate from grievous injury, but her friend could shift instantly with no pain, in addition to having better vision, even in complete darkness, than some Terminator sent from the future.

What would it be like to fly? Too bad the Mark of Rogan couldn’t give me that power.

The light buzz of insects kept silence away. Even before her first shift, let alone before her new powers manifested, she’d always appreciated how much life inhabited any slice of the forest. A wolf was never alone, even far away from a city, no matter how relaxing that might be.

There I go again. The wolf who wants to be alone. The anti-werewolf. What the hell is wrong with me?

Mina’s thoughts drifted to her lunch with Jason and his packmate earlier.

Jason’s okay, and Regan’s as loud as ever, but okay too. Hard to figure whether she’s been avoiding me all these years or if I’ve been avoiding her. Doesn’t really matter, I suppose. Either way, it ended up in the same place.

Mina slowed her pace, the scent of the rabbit stronger now. She burst into a sprint. A few animals rushed out of the underbrush, darting in different directions. Animals might trust her in two-legged form when she was calm, but not when she was hunting on four legs.

With a quick pounce, she landed on her target, a plump rabbit, its heart pumping.

I’m sorry, she sent before ending its life with a quick bite.

Linh had filled the last couple of months with every “circle of life” joke she could manage whenever Mina discussed her hunting. Her friend still had no problem just grabbing a combo meal at Gold Burger, but Mina found it increasingly difficult to eat any meat she’d not personally hunted. Something felt so hollow about it, so distant and mechanical. At least when she killed an animal with her fangs and claws, she could honor it, and she held no illusions about where her food came from. She wasn’t sure whether that was her wolf instincts infiltrating into her more human mind or the implications of her power making her think about every animal interaction differently.

Mina consumed her meal quickly. A presence bore down on her. She lifted her muzzle and sniffed a few times. The wind shifted, and she caught the scent of a wolf.

Her heart kicked up, and her hackles rose. She spun, growling. A wolf from Golden Oaks wouldn’t have tried to sneak up on her, but there was a group of wolves who wouldn’t announce themselves, the same cowards who’d likely helped direct Hunters toward her Rite of Passage.

You should have killed me when you had the chance, you True Breed scum, Mina sent and snarled. As long as she took at least one of the assholes with her, she’d be satisfied. Now I know you’re there. No way you escape without taking a few bites.

A light-coated wolf padded out and shook his head.

Calm down, Mina, he sent.

Wolf-thought might have no true tone or texture, but every wolf’s voice was still understandable, and she recognized the wolf’s coat anyway. It wasn’t True Breed. It was Thomas.

Mina stopped growling, even as her heart continued to pound.

Don’t sneak up on people, she sent. It’s a good way to get hurt.

Thomas padded forward, flicking a gaze toward the rabbit carcass. I’m impressed you could tell I was following you. I went out of my way to stay upwind of you and not make noise. He growled. But if the True Breed come, you shouldn’t try and fight them. You should make a break for town. You’re tough, but you’re not going to win against a pack.

Run? And get other wolves killed protecting me? Like I almost did the others during the Rite? No way.

Thomas bared his teeth. That wasn’t your fault. The strength of the wolf is in the pack. I know you accept that now, even if you’re having trouble picking one. You’re not doing anyone a favor by letting the enemy kill you.

Mina’s ears moved forward. She let out a low whine and closed her eyes. Pain shot through her as her body twisted and turned, bones and muscles shifting. Some grew shorter, some longer. The agony lasted for thirty seconds until she stood there in human form, staring at Thomas who had managed to finish his shift before her, his experience on display.

Both wore preservation amulets, Thomas because of his position in Sheriff Storm’s pack and Mina because of her father’s concern about assassination. Sometimes, it was more convenient to be a human than a wolf when a woman was fleeing for her life, even in a town filled with werewolves and Unturned.

Thomas pointed to the rabbit. “I remember how squeamish you were the first time you had to make a kill as a wolf, and now you’re going out and doing it all the time. Interesting.”

Mina shrugged. “Things changed, and I told you about why I feel like that. Still wrapping my mind around all this Doctor Dolittle crap. It’s kind of unsettling. What can I say?”

“Just because you can hear animals doesn’t mean they are the same as you, Mina. Remember that.” Thomas shrugged. “Rogan made us different, blessed us in a way different from other animals. They don’t have true souls.”

Mina chuckled. “Didn’t think you were such a believe by faith type.”

“It’s not faith when you know it’s true objectively speaking. Do I buy into the Prophecy of Rogan like Anna? I don’t know, but you even having the power you possess proves that his blood is strong in you.” Thomas furrowed his brow and pinched the bridge of his nose, his classic stress habit. “Look, this is coming out all wrong. I’m not trying to upset you.”

Mina snorted. She could see where this was going. Time for a wolf mercy killing.

“There’s no way in hell I’ll join your pack. Not while Garett’s still a member.”

Thomas laughed. “My pack? Who said anything about joining my pack?”

Mina’s face heated. “Oh, well, that’s what I kind of assumed.”

Thomas grinned. Some of the old arrogance from her training days returning to his face. “Assuming’s a dangerous habit. I’m not an idiot. Nor is the Sheriff. We know you can’t get along with Garett.”

Mina gestured around the forest. “Then why are you following me around at dusk in the middle of the forest? Just to harass me?”

“Because I want to keep reminding you that you’re a wolf in a clan and that you can rely on everyone else. I’m proud of how you finished the Rite of Passage. I don’t even care that Linh was involved. Shit went south in a big way.” Thomas shrugged. “But it’s been months now, and I think you’ve learned the wrong lesson, and I’m worried about that.”

A wolf howled in the distance, undoubtedly one of their kind given how close they were to Golden Oaks despite Mina’s paranoia.

She narrowed her eyes and slapped a hand on her hip. “And what lesson did I learn, oh great beta?”

Thomas kept his gaze locked on hers, but no hostility marred his face. “You don’t need to risk your own life if there is a danger to another wolf. It’s not your responsibility to cover everyone’s escape.”


He cut her off with a jerk of his hand. “No buts. Bravery is one thing, Mina. I’d started to think you were blowing off the risk of the True Breed coming after you, but the way you reacted earlier, I see that’s not true, which makes wandering off by yourself even stupider. You could even take Linh with you to watch your back. She can fly out of danger.”

Mina shrugged. “She doesn’t like watching me hunt.”

“Then take another wolf.” Thomas chuckled and turned away. “I know the more I talk, the more you’ll resist because you’re stubborn. Just remember, whatever problems you had with the clan before, a lot of people respect you now.” He gave a final shrug and wandered off, his hands in his pockets. “Keep that in mind.”

Mina let out a long sigh, watching Thomas as he disappeared into the darkness of the forest.

Never realized how having more than a few friends can really be annoying at times.


* * *


An hour later, Mina sat at a green folding table in a studio apartment, sipping on a Dr. Pepper.

Anna smiled as she sipped from her glass of water. “I’m always willing to talk with you, Mina, but I didn’t know you were planning to come today.” Her blue eyes twinkled with amusement.

Mina couldn’t help but notice that after a couple of months in southwest Washington, Anna’s Canadian accent had diminished. Whether by conscious choice or simple osmosis, she sounded more and more, with each passing day, like someone born and raised in southwest Washington.

Of course, we don’t sound like a lot of people in the rest of Washington, so it’s probably not helping her in the long run.

Mina rubbed the back of her neck. She liked the blonde girl and even considered her a friend, but the fact that Anna seemed convinced that Mina had some sort of special destiny still didn’t sit well with her. There was a fine line between groupie and friend, and Anna probably crossed it the moment they met.

“Just wanted to talk to a friendly face.” Mina chuckled and lifted her drink. “One who gives me free drinks.”

Anna laughed. “I don’t think most people would make someone pay for their drinks during a visit.”

“You might be surprised. Bet Garett does that.” Mina chuckled. Her smile faded, and she took a deep breath.

Okay, here it goes. Time to not just be a martyr but help someone. See, Thomas? I can learn.

“I’ve been thinking about the Rite of Passage.”

Anna’s delicate eyebrows lifted. “What about it?”

Mina sighed. “You failed because of me.”

The blonde girl shook her head. “No, I failed because of Hunters.”

Mina ran her hands through her hair, her fingers lingering on the red streak. “Who were most likely there to kill me. The only person who didn’t get seriously hurt was me, and that’s crap. It’s not fair.”

“Life is many things. Fair isn’t one of them.” Anna shook her head. “I didn’t die, so I’m not going to cry about it.” She tugged down the side of her shirt, revealing a hint of the jagged scar that ran across her chest. “This is a reminder that the world is filled with dangerous people, and a reminder that those people would seek to destroy someone great. I consider it an honor that I gained this helping you.”

Mina fisted her hands. “But I’m not great. I’m just another wolf.”

Anna quirked a brow “Who bears the Mark of Rogan and can talk to animals. You aren’t just another wolf.”

Mina closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She reached across the table to take Anna’s hand. “Fine. Who knows? Maybe I’m destined to destroy Demura and kick a bunch of demon ass or something, but before I do, I want you to promise me something. Please.”

“Anything you want, Mina.” Anna blinked and tilted her head.

“I want you to promise me that you won’t sacrifice yourself just because you think you might need to protect me.” Mina forced a stern look on her face. No more suffering for her. “I couldn’t handle that.”


“Promise me,” Mina barked. “If you believe in me so much, you should be able to promise me.”

The other girl sighed and nodded. “I promise.”

“Good.” Mina took a deep breath. “That’s not what I even came here to talk about anyway.”

Anna nodded. “What is, then?”

“My dad’s the king.”

“So he is.” Anna blinked.

Mina grinned. “That means I have influence. I’m sure if I asked him, he could bend the rules, get you in on an earlier Rite so you don’t have to wait a year. You shouldn’t have to wait.”

Anna shook her head. “That’s not necessary.”

Mina blinked. “But a year? That’s a long time.”

“Only ten months now.” Anna shrugged. “I respect the ways of our clan, and I’m patient. Also, I wouldn’t ask you to do something that might cause you or my king trouble later on. If you make a special exception for me, are you sure no one will complain?”

“It won’t cause trouble, and if it does, I can take the heat.” Mina shrugged. “I’ve been taking heat all my life.”

Anna shook her head. “It’s fine.”

“If you say so.” Mina picked up her Dr. Pepper to take another sip. “Just obsessing over this crap lately I guess.”

Anna gave her a soft smile. “You need to focus on something else, then. Maybe friends.” She nibbled on her lip. “Maybe a girls’ night. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.”

Mina arched a brow. “What do you mean exactly? Is this going to involve oiled-up guys in Seattle in dark clubs or something?”

Her friend’s cheeks reddened, and she shook her head. “Nothing so crass.”

“I didn’t say it sounded crass.” Mina winked. “Not that I’ve ever actually been to a club like that.” She chuckled.

“I just think we can have some fun together. Maybe you, me, and Linh. We need to get our minds off the clan and flock.”

Mina was about to add something else about the oily men before realizing it wasn’t like she or Anna could even get into a club like that, given they were both under twenty-one. Then again, she didn’t know. It wasn’t like they had a strip club in Golden Oaks, and the bars weren’t all that obsessed with age limits, given the laxer werewolf attitudes toward alcohol.

She sighed and nodded. “Maybe we should ask Regan Rivers to join us.”

Anna’s brow lifted. “Oh, you thinking of joining her pack?”

“Not really, but she’s been chatting me up, and she seems fun.” Mina shrugged. “She’s never really been a bitch, and I can’t say whether it’s my fault or not we didn’t hang out a lot before, especially since she’s got several years on me. It’s not like I’d want to hang out with some eighteen-year-old chick if I were twenty-three.” She sighed and slumped forward, resting her head on the table. “Besides, I get it now. I’m a symbol, and not just to you. A lot of people might not still like me or my personality, but at least they’re being nicer, so I’m trying to meet them halfway. It’s better to be smiled at than spit on and all that.”

Anna reached over to pat her hand. “Everyone will see what a great person you are eventually, other than just your powers. I’ll handle the logistics, then. It’ll be fun.” She smiled. “It’s been a while since I’ve gone out and had normal fun. A long time. Don’t worry. I’ll plan something special for all of us.”

“Normal fun.” Mina chuckled. “That sounds so weird.”

She sat up, a smile returning to her face. She was a werewolf and daughter of the clan king. Her best friend was a wereraven, and her second-best friend was practically a cultist who worshiped her. The word normal didn’t belong anywhere near her.

At least if someone assassinates me on girls’ night, I’ll die after having fun.

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Fang and Claw

By K.A. Faul

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