Chapter 1

Music booming throughout the house fueled the bodies consuming every square inch of the hardwood floor. Each paired, gyrated against one another to the fast beats as they all sang along, song after song. I was in the middle of it all, for once, enjoying myself.

A sharp pain suddenly hit me like a bolt of lightning, forcing me to stop and grab my chest. After a few seconds, the pain slowly subsided, but as I started dancing again, I felt it ten times stronger.

My best friend Kenya must have seen the look of sheer pain on my face. In an instant, she was at my side, the palm of her hand flat on my back while the other held on to my hand clutching my heart.

"What's wrong, Jade?" She searched my face frantically, but I was in too much pain to speak. "Ok, let me find Braden, and we'll get you out of here."

"No..." I huffed out, straightening my back to pretend everything was alright, although my hand remained over my chest. "This is your birthday party, Kenny. Go dance with your mate and enjoy yourself. I'll get some air, and everything will be fine."

I waved her off and pulled away before she had the chance to protest. I could feel her eyes burning holes into my back as I attempted to walk normally through the house on my journey to the back door. Kenya was always protective of me, and while I appreciated her concern, I hate it with a passion. I'd never tell her—or anyone for that matter—that the treating me like I'm helpless or a fragile piece of glass, contributes to the sadness that I've been hiding for the last 5 years with forced smiles and a friendly persona.

Pushing through the thick crowd with my eyes squeezed shut, the pain hit me full force. It started off as a dull ache then surged through me like a spiked knife, twisting in my heart before easing its way around my back.

I couldn't be shifting, could I?

After 5 years of being told I would never become the wolf I was born to be, could it really be happening?

Excitement and fear instantly filled me so I quickened my pace as the door came in view, hoping that the fresh night air on my skin would somehow reveal answers to me.

With a whoosh, a small gust of wind greeted me, the pain grew more and more intense. Staggering to the wooden banister I slowly slid down onto the wooden deck, holding onto it for dear life. What was happening to me felt ominous. The world was spinning around me as if I'd just stepped off of a roller coaster. The colors of the night and surrounding trees fused together like an abstract painting.

The sound of panting and heavy breathing caused me to run my hand over my chest, thinking my lungs were closing up on me. Then, I realized that the sounds weren't mine.

I looked up through a pain-filled daze and the thick black curls that had fallen into my face. As I slid to the ground, I saw two blurry images moving against the wall behind me. I could make out the color of his shirt—a white tank top slightly rolled up revealing part of a muscular back.

Squinting, I desperately tried to will my vision to correct itself. With a few long, hard blinks, I could see dirty blond hair. It was the back of a perfectly styled blond head that suddenly sent sharper pains through me the very moment my eyes lazily traced the lines of a unique but familiar tribal tattoo.

"Cam?" I called out to my mate, my voice cracking with tears forming in the corners of my eyes.

That's not him! It can't be him!

Mentally, I tried to reason until he looked over at me then nonchalantly turned back to the female against the wall in front of him. The jingle of his belt mixed with the sight of her pulling her dress down hit me like a fast moving train, bringing back sharp aches deep within me. It wasn't until she finished smoothing out the imaginary wrinkles in her short dark green dress beneath the dimmed wall light and sashayed into the house, that I realized who she was.

"Y-you cheated on me? With Marissa?"

Another crack formed on my heart as if that were even possible. Since finding out we were mates he has been distant and only gave me the closeness I desire when putting on a front for our parents and the Alpha, but I never thought he would do something like this. I sobbed as I pulled myself up, looping my arm around the wooden banister, now knowing where the pain was actually coming from.

"With my friend, Cam?"

Everything about him from the way he stood to the non-reaction at the sight of my tears, showed disinterest. With one hand in his pocket, the other ran smoothly through his hair and down the back of his neck.

"Cam?"

"WHAT?!" He shouted so loud I swear it could have been heard over the music. "Spare me the tears, Jade! If you want to talk to me, woman up and do it without trying to throw a guilt trip." He spat so bitterly that I flinched. I felt small and insignificant.

"I just caught you with my friend, and you're calling my reaction a guilt trip?"

"Don't act like it's a surprise. I've never touched you, and I have needs, Jade. You should've known I was looking elsewhere."

I was at a complete loss for words. He has never been loving towards me, true, but at the same time, he has never been this cold. He's looking down at me like I'm worth less than the dirt on the bottom of his shoes, telling me that these are his true feelings. If I could hear my wolf, she would probably be howling her agony, just as loud as I could hear my heart chipping away and burning.

"I thought you just needed time. That you didn't want a mate just yet since we're only 18 but… how could you do this to me? You're supposed to love me! Like Braden loves Kenya..." I trailed off as he stepped so close to me that I could clearly see the hate within his dark brown eyes. His body shook slightly with rage, and for a split second, I questioned if he was going to shift.

"Braden has a normal mate. That's why he loves her the way he does," he backed away from me slowly, shaking his head with a chuckle that was anything but amused. "You don't get it, Jade! It's not that I never wanted to have a mate. I didn't want to be yours. You can't shift and chances are your kids will have the same defect. I don't want my kids to be freaks and useless like you are. You're the weakest of our kind and an embarrassment to your family and me. If you ever left the pack, it would be the best thing that ever happened to everyone. You wanted to know how I've felt all this time? Now, you know. I'm ashamed to be bound to you. My wolf longs for you, but I will spend the rest of my life listening to him bitch and moan for claiming someone that isn't his mate before I accept you."

The look of utter disgust he gave me as he stormed off, broke whatever was left in me. With that, I was sobbing harder than ever before. Everything he said about me hurt like hell, but only because I know it was true. I can't shift, and chances are high that if I ever have kids, I'd curse them with the dormant gene as well.

Cameron was all I had to remind me of the wolf I was supposed to be. The tingle in his touch and immediate love in our glare on the day he mistakenly brushed my shoulder with his, gave back the hope that I'd lost years before. Gave me hope that I could fit in with everyone else and provide my parents with a reason to be proud of me.

He is supposed to be my future, my chance at feeling like I truly belong. With that gone I have nothing and no reason to stay here other than to disgrace those that love me.

I won't.

I can't.

They deserve to be respected for being the active wolves they are and not for their connection to "the wolf that isn't," as the kids used to call me.

After today they'd no longer have that problem. After tonight, I'll be no one else's problem.