Read Alpha Asher by Jane Doe Chapter 160
The moment her fist connected with my shoulder; I knew Cassidy hadn’t been exaggerating.
Emilia punched hard, like MMA level hard.
Not only was she strong, but she was fast too. She came at me without warning, without shifting into a stance that let me know the battle had begun. She had hoped to catch me off guard, but Chris had skinned my hide too many times for me to make that mistake again.
His method of keeping me on my toes came in the form of sneaking through my window in the d**d of night. If I weren’t on my feet the second the window cracked open, I’d quickly find myself groaning on the floor with the taste of blood in my mouth.
His methods weren’t humane by any means, but they worked.
Boy, did they work.
I used my small stature to weave in and out of her blows, a partner in a painful dance that would surely leave me black and blue.
If I weren’t a Luna or a Vampire, I might’ve lost this fight. That being said, my positions gave me power and speed, both of which I used in abundance just to remain on my feet.
“You see how she’s not letting me knock her off balance…” Emilia shouted to the class who watched with overflowing interest despite the thick silence that enveloped the room. “If you fall in battle, you have seconds–seconds to act before your mistake becomes f***l.”
To prove her point, Emilia let me knock her to the ground. In a move that I would’ve done if the roles had been reversed, she kicked out with her long legs and managed to clip my ankle in the process. My legs buckled from the sharp pain that danced up my tendons and bone, but a quick roll to the side followed by a few sharp jabs kept me advancing forwards.
What ended our match was a sharp whistle that exploded from the back of the room.
I barely noticed it. The shrill sound couldn’t reach me, not while this sea of adrenaline churned in my head, its frigid waters bursting with every technique, move, and tip I’d learned from Chris.
When Emilia faltered mid punch and I managed to land a crushing kick to the side of her ribcage, I knew the whistle hadn’t been intended for me. The warrior, whose prowess I actually found myself admiring fell to the ground. She recovered quickly, with speed I found impressive despite the fact that I was faster.
Before she could make it to her feet, my foot was at her throat. I kept it there, hovering above her pulse point, feeling the faint thud hit the millimeter of air between us.
I could’ve used this moment to assert myself, to land a final blow that would prove to these wolves that I wasn’t one to be messed with, but it was Emilia’s eyes that halted the idea in its tracks. They stared up at me with pride, but also just a hint of fear.
It was that fear that made me lower my foot and extend a hand.
“That trainer of yours…if he wants a job here, he’s got it.” Emilia said through heavy breaths, smiling as she wiped the sweat from her forehead. The expression soured as she turned to glare daggers at the class. Even I had to repress the urge to flinch at the ferocity in her voice. “Who did that?”
For far too long the class stood in silence, most of them cowering under her heavy stare. I noticed quickly that Cassidy wasn’t one of them, and Emilia seemed to notice as well because her eyes darkened to a muddy brown when they registered her face and tense posture.
Cassidy took a step forward and Emilia’s mouth opened, but the high-pitched bleating of a cellphone rang out instead of her voice.
“Apologies, I’m afraid I have to take this.” Emilia murmured to the glass, though her eyes remained on my tanned, narrow eyed friend.
She slipped from the room without another word, her shrill ringtone fading as she walked down the hall.
“Way to kick some a*s, Luna!” Cassidy cheered when I ventured back to her side. A snicker escaped her lips as she toyed with the end of her ponytail. “Goddess, what a cathartic experience. I’ve been waiting to see her get her a*s kicked for years now.”
“You really don’t like her, huh?” I kept my laugh light but couldn’t help the way my head tilted with curiosity. Knowing she’d chew me out if I said this aloud, I slid into her thoughts and asked the question circling my brain. ‘Were you the one that whistled at her?’
Cassidy’s eyes twinkled mischievously, and within their depths I swore I saw something that reminded me of Chelsea.
‘It was a bit harsh; I know…but you have no clue how much she has coming to her.’ Her thoughts had a sour undertone that alerted me to how much she disliked Emilia. With a quiet grunt she lowered herself to the floor and placed her back against the wall.
‘She seems friendly and approachable…I can’t help but wonder what she did to make you hate her so much.’ I said truthfully, sitting down beside her as we waited for Emilia to return.
‘Look…if I show you this, you can’t tell anyone, got it? I mean, obviously people already know, but they don’t speak about it because they’re all weaklings who fear me…and rightfully so.’ Cassidy huffed, gnawing on her lower lip until the pale pink of her skin turned red.
As she tucked the golden strands of her bangs behind her ear, a fuzzy image began to form in my head, one that was pulled from the depths of someone else’s memory.
“Ugh, Cass wait up!” Brandon shouted, his voice a few octaves higher and his appearance almost ten years younger. His feet seemed to land in every single puddle, sending droplets of muddy water scattering into the air. They seeped into the white t-shirt he wore, but only made the grin on his face widen. It was one of playful joy and not the callous scowl I was used to seeing him wearing.
“Not a chance in h**l! Last time I was it for two weeks. You’re not catching me anytime soon!” I heard Cassidy say, her laugh exuberant as it rang in the air like a symphony of delicate bells. I saw flashes of golden curls through the tall grass feet away. It swayed in the breeze, jostled by the light rain that continued to fall. “Only Asher can catch me! He’s never it!”
“Asher’s in Alpha training, Cass. You know he doesn’t have time to play anymore.” Brandon’s little frown and furrowed brows squeezed at my heart hard enough for me to memorize the forlorn look that lasted on his face for only a few precious seconds.
“Well I’m not coming out until he catches me. He promised he would this time!” She shouted from deeper within the grass, her voice facing with each word tossed into the air.
Brandon groaned loudly and threw his hands in the air, “Fine! I’ll get Asher, but you have to promise you won’t sneak out while I’m gone. That’s cheating, and cheating means you’re automatically it.”
“What?!” Cassidy squealed in horror, “You just made that rule up!”
“Can’t hear you anymore-walking away now, going to get Asher.” Brandon shouted, cupping his hands around his lips as he backed away.
When his small form vanished behind a hill, I saw a pale face with bright blue eyes pop out of the grass. The cheeky grin belonged to Cassidy, though it was laced with the fading innocence of a child hitting their teenage years.
As she tip-toed out of the grass and headed in the direction opposite to where Brandon went, I realized she couldn’t have been older than thirteen.
The scenery changed as she walked, her blue jeans darkening with each water droplet that landed on them. Even her paisley top, which looked adorable when paired with the dainty charm bracelet around her wrist, was changing colors from the rain.
Before long we stood in a small neighborhood, similar t o the one Asher’s parents lived in. Even in the rain, children crowded the sidewalks.
Bikes and scooters, sticks of melting chalk clutched in the hands of kids too young to partake in many other activities. They were everywhere, laughing and playing like there tomorrow would never come.
It breathed life into Cassidy’s cheerful walk, which soon fizzled out when I heard Emilia’s voice.
“You should’ve known better than to come back around here.” Emilia said, appearing from the side of a pale-yellow house whose front porch was in the beginning stages of construction.
Even as a child her champagne eyes were bright and her voice a high soprano that reminded me of a robin’s song. Those eyes of hers narrowed into little slits and her hands became fists that trembled at her sides.
“You don’t own the neighborhood, d***y.” Cassidy sneered, wiping away some of the ash blonde curls that clung to the sides of her wet face. “This is Asher’s pack, and Asher is my friend!”
I hadn’t a clue what happened before this, what events formed the snowball that grew and grew until it was an avalanche cresting down the side of a great mountain, ready to crush them all.
They were children, but the way they glared at one another reminded me of adults.
Emilia stomped over to Cassidy and grabbed a handful of her hair without warning, breaking out into a run that forced a scream from Cassidy’s mouth. She had no choice but to follow and stumbled onto the sidewalk after Emilia.
The other children looked at the fight happening just feet away on the sidewalk where so many of them played. Some pointed, others laughed and taunted Cassidy, who quickly found herself on the pavement.
Emilia leaned down to whisper something in Cassidy’s ear when the memory came to an end.
Even though I was floating back to the present, I could still taste the rain on my tongue and could see the m****r that mixed with the embarrassment on young Cassidy’s face.
I blinked a few times, pawing at my eyes when they began to water from the artificial light. Cassidy’s face came into focus, slender and much more angular than it had been all those years ago, though her expression was exactly the same.
Rage and embarrassment.
‘Looks like Asher wasn’t kidding when he said she doesn’t handle embarrassment well.’ Maya murmured, flattening her ears against her skull.
‘What is it she whispered in your ear?’ I couldn’t help but ask, feeling my curiosity expand in my chest like a bubble ready to pop.
The door opened with a slight creak and Emilia stepped back inside. In that same moment, Cassidy gave her a feverish glare and sent her answer rushing down the mind-link, so fast that the words rattled around in my head before rearranging themselves.
‘She told me he wouldn’t be my friend for long, not once she got her hands on him…she promised she’d make sure he knew just how ugly and disgusting I actually was.’
The way she said it struck me as odd. There was no emotion in her voice, no burst of rage turning her iris’s a deep shade of blue. It wasn’t the words Emilia said that stuck with her, that turned her anger into something more potent. It had been the embarrassment, the shame she felt when she was vulnerable and broken, teased by the cruel children who did nothing to help.
We didn’t speak of the past for the rest of the lesson, and instead put every ounce of our focus into sparring. Once class was finished and every ounce of pent-up rage flowed from Cassidy’s body and into the mats, we emerged out the set of double doors leading into the parking lot.
“Hey, I’ve got to get going. I’m getting all dolled up tonight to go out with Kendrick.” Her lips tilted up in a silky smile that contained a double meaning I didn’t miss.
After saying our goodbyes I readied myself to merge into the sea of students flooding the parking lot. It was Emilia’s voice, oddly unchanged from her childhood, which gave me pause.
“Luna! Mind if I get a word?” She shouted above the chaos of the crowd, all of which were eager to get home and shower before continuing with the rest of their day.
For a moment I contemplated ignoring her, feigning ignorance as I vanished within the throng of people.
It was a tugging in my gut, a feeling of concreteness that made me turn around and wait for her to catch up.
“You were beyond impressive back there, really. If you weren’t Luna I’d offer you a position, effective tomorrow.” Emilia put every ounce of emotion into her laugh, which was warm and effortless despite the cruelty I saw on her child-like face. She pulled a small pin from her hair and sent the tiny ringlets spiraling down her shoulders. “I was serious about hiring that trainer of yours, though. You think he might be interested?”
“Mmm, he’s a bit of a…recluse.” I cringed at the word I used, knowing Chris would kick me into next week if he heard me saying such a thing. He didn’t like it when I brought up his general hatred of other people, even less so when I attached words like recluse, hermit, or loner. Seeing the disappointment form on her face and the light leave her eyes made me stumble for a solution. “I can’t promise anything…but I can try to get a hold of him, at least to relay the offer.”
“Yes! Oh, I can’t thankyou enough. Tell him benefits are included along with pension and retirement. We can work out his salary if he agrees.” She nodded eagerly, but her excitement was short lived.
A student with bleach-blonde hair passed by, and the cheerfulness on Emilia’s face dropped. Even though the girl’s roots were a deep shade of brown, I knew it was Cassidy she reminded her of.
“During class did you see who whistled?” Emilia asked quietly, her eyes scanning the parking lot as the grim expression on her face darkened. It didn’t appear from out of nowhere, but instead seemed to resurface from somewhere deep within. With lips pressed into a thin line and reluctance hardening the softness of her face she asked, “…was it Cassidy who did it?”
I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. There was this twisting in my gut that felt right and wrong all at once, like a storm of knives and butterflies that refused to cease. It yanked me in Emilia’s direction, only to send me spiraling in Cassidy’s.
Even with that torn shred of the past, I had no clue who to trust.
Unfortunately, my hesitation was answer enough.
Emilia nodded her head, and the bleak understanding in her eyes made an apology float past my lips.
“Don’t apologize, Luna. I know it wasn’t your fault.” She shook her head gently, her lips twitching at my surprise. “You probably don’t remember me, but I was one of the warriors that came to help when your father attacked your old pack. I k****d a lot of Vampire’s that day, and each one haunts me the moment the sun goes down. Corey, my mate, he’s a good guy. Keeps me safe from what demons he can, even though it’ll never be enough to save me. On that battlefield, I realized something. The Vampire’s, they’re just like us. Hating, loving, fighting each day to survive and make something of themselves. Seeing them as monsters, it makes us no better than the humans that call us beasts. You were the first to see that. It’s why I support you, Luna…and why I always will.” Her eyes darkened into that muddy brown as a shadow of a memory ghosted across her face, “It’s also why I’m going to take the risk and warn you, knowing it could be my job or life on the line if you don’t like what I’m about to say…”
“You don’t have to worry about your job…or your life.” I swallowed and tightened my grip on the water bottle in my hands, even though it would do nothing to soothe my dry throat.
“I appreciate the reassurance, Luna…and I do hope you listen when I say this.” Emilia murmured, her voice quiet and eyes guarded as they scanned the space above my head, far into the parking lot where students still milled about. “I’ve done things in my past, stuff I’m not proud of but I’m no longer that kind of she-wolf. People change every day, but Cassidy-she isn’t one of them. I’m not telling you to not be her friend, but just keep what I’m telling you in mind. She can be charming and nice…until she isn’t anymore.”