Roger regarded Sandra worriedly as she sat down beside him.
“You were outside a long time, Sandra. I almost came out to investigate.”
Sandra blushed, glad he hadn’t. What would Roger have said if he had seen her and Rhyley kissing? He didn’t like Rhyley, and he would certainly think it was too soon for the first kiss.
“What were you doing?” Roger asked. “Was he trying to pressure you into something?”
“No, it wasn’t like that, Roger,” Sandra told him, looking into his eyes to convey her sincerity. “He just wanted to talk.”
Roger looked doubtful.
“Are you sure? Rhyley’s not the type to ... talk.”
“I know but... today he did. I think...” Sandra spoke carefully, hazarding a guess that might be dangerous. “I think he accepts that he has to treat me differently. Because I’m not the type of girl he usually dates, because I’m chaste.”
Roger nodded slowly.
“D’you think he’ll manage to respect my difference?” Sandra couldn’t help wondering.
Roger shrugged, frowning.
“I really don’t know, Sandra. I’ve only seen him with hot girls who he wanted to...” Roger cleared his throat. “To have casual relationships with.” He laid a hand over one of Sandra’s. “But I hope that he’ll respect you. For your sake.”
Sandra smiled slightly.
At that moment, Roger’s dad unexpectedly entered the room. Roger rose to his feet, the four people dancing stopped, someone turned off the music, everyone straightened up and someone turned up the lights. Sandra stood up too, wondering first why the reaction had been like this and second why Roger’s dad had appeared.
“Well, hello, everyone. I’m glad you could make it,” Roger’s dad said. “I have a few announcements to make and then you can get back to having fun. Firstly, I’m sure that some of you have noticed a new guest at our New Moon party - Sandra Longmorrow. I hope that you are all friendly to her - it wouldn’t do to have tension in the pack. Secondly, the last new moon before Christmas will be Thursday the 13th of December. It would be great if you kids could organise a Christmas party among yourselves. I advise you let two people be the main organisers, one of them Roger.”
Sandra noticed Roger’s cheeks redden.
“Lastly,” Roger’s dad continued, “as I’m sure you’re all aware, the next full moon will take place on the 29th of this month - unfortunately the first Monday back following the October half term. Make sure you’re safe; make sure you’re not seen. If you want to hold a Wolfsong, find a forest. That will be all. Enjoy the rest of the party.”
Everyone bowed their head, murmuring “Thanks, Alpha.”
Sandra quickly copied them.
Mr Steelfang nodded and left the room.
When she looked up, she looked at Roger.
“What happens on a full moon?” she asks.
“Oh, you shift,” Roger told her. “I mean, a werewolf. A werewolf shifts.”
“All of you are going to shift?”
“Ask Rhyley if he’ll take you along, though you probably won’t want to stay for the full time. If he says no, you could come with me.”
“It sounds really interesting,” Sandra told him, smiling. “What’s a Wolfsong?”
Roger smiled mysteriously.
“Now that, I can’t tell you. You have to be there yourself.”
Someone dimmed the lights again and put the music back on. Over the course of the rest of the party (which only went on until 8 o’clock because of school the next day), Sandra ate some party food, as a replacement for her customary evening meal, and sat with Roger, sometimes singing along with him to their favourite songs, but mostly in one of the comfortable silences that they liked to share. She was content to see other people having fun, like Ben who was doing silly dance moves with his friend who Roger said was called Kayla. A few times she looked around to see what Rhyley was up to, but he stayed in the same place, chatting with his friends (Willis being the one with thick and tousled blond hair and nice blue eyes, and Jonah being the tanned one with coal-black hair and light green eyes - according to Roger). Kayla and Ben finally stopped dancing and Roger introduced the girl formally, but none of Jonah, Willis, or the dancing tipsy girls was vaguely interested in Sandra. Not that that upset her - she had her best friend and Roger was all the company she needed. Kayla and Ben sat with them and Kayla chatted on about this and that - she was a nice girl, the sort of girl who was instantly your friend even though you had only just met her. They went out of the room to get some food and after they had eaten returned to the dance floor, clearly full of energy.
About ten minutes before the party finished, Rhyley detached himself from the wall he had been leaning against and came over to where Sandra and Roger were sitting.
“Hey, I was thinking we could swap mobile numbers - in case we want to call each other,” he told her, completely ignoring Roger.
“Oh, um, sure,” Sandra said, surprised.
She gave him her phone, he gave her his and they typed each other’s numbers into them, saving them in each others’ contact lists.
They gave each other their phones back and Rhyley said - rather cheerfully - “I’ll see you on Monday then.”
“Oh, see you,” Sandra said, mildly but pleasantly startled.
Rhyley walked back to his friends.
Sandra noticed that Roger was frowning slightly.
“Wonder what he wants your number for,” he murmured.
“Because we’re soulmates?” Sandra suggested, which was what she’d assumed, even though that wasn’t much of an explanation.
Roger’s frown deepened.
“Yes, but what will he do now he has your number?”
“I... don’t know,” Sandra said, confused by Roger’s evident anxiety. “Maybe he wants to meet up after school - he does want some sort of a relationship with me.”
Roger looked concerned.
“Yes, but what sort?”