Smiling back as though her actions had been completely normal and expected, Roger smiled, shook Florence’s hand and replied “Roger Steelfang. May there be eternal unity between our parents’ packs.”
Florence bowed her head formally and the two let go of each other’s hands.
“Um, wow, I didn’t realise that was what happened,” Kayla said, grinning.
“My soulmate,” Roger was quick to say. “Kayla Chalcedony.”
“Beautiful surname,” Florence commented. She held out her right hand to Kayla too. Kayla, looking taken aback but charmed, took it and shook it, murmuring a shy thanks.
Florence looked behind her at her companions and looked at Roger. She gestured to her twin and introduced him as “My brother, Jack.”
Jack nodded. “Nice to meet you.”
Florence gestured next to the older girl.
“My cousin, Leanne.”
Lastly, Florence gestured to the boy with dark hair.
“And your wolf Ben’s soulmate, David.”
“Ben’s soulmate!” Kayla exclaimed. “At last I get to meet you!” She proffered a hand now. “I’m Ben’s friend, Kayla. He’s talked so much about you!”
David instantly looked wary.
“What’s he said?”
“Nothing bad. He said you were lovely.”
David relaxed and looked touched.
“Aw. How sweet.”
Florence’s attention turned next to Darryn.
“Ah, now I’ve seen photos of you - Darryn, wasn’t it?”
Darryn nodded, smiling.
“Yup. Nice to meet you.” He gestured at Tamrita. “This is my soulmate, Tamrita.”
Florence smiled at Tamrita.
“Hey there. You’re from the States, aren’t you?”
“You sound like you’ve been having lessons on the Arctus family,” Tamrita joked.
“It does rather feel that way.”
“Where’s Jonah, incidentally?” asked Florence’s brother, Jack, looking around in confusion. “Didn’t he come with you, Darryn?”
“Oh, no, he’s coming with Willis and Christa,” said Darryn. “I think he said something about picking something up on his way here...”
Florence frowned slightly.
At that moment, the music started. It was quiet at first but the volume soon increased.
“Oh, the DJ has clearly decided that the party’s started,” said Darryn, grinning. “Come on, Tam, let’s go prep the bar.”
“Prep it?” Tam asked, confused.
“Oh, yeah - we’ve got to unload all the beer - it’ll be on high demand, you know.”
Tamrita rolled her eyes but followed him to a door in the same wall that contained the window.
“Oh, can I help?” Leanne asked. “I never have anything to do with myself at discos and dances.”
“Sure,” replied Tamrita, smiling at her. “I need to watch Darryn as well.”
Leanne grinned and quickly walked over.
“So what’s your name?” Jack asked, directing his question at Sandra. “We’ve been so rude to ignore you all this time.”
“Oh, I’m Sandra,” Sandra said, blushing. “And I don’t mind, really. I’m not very interesting.”
“Oh, that’s not true, I’m sure,” said Jack, smiling charmingly.
Sandra’s blush deepened.
“Have you got a soulmate?” he asked.
Sandra felt flattered but very embarrassed.
“Yeah - he’s called Rhyley.”
Jack looked slightly disappointed but masked it quickly with a smile.
“Ben told me to watch out for a Rhyley,” David said unexpectedly, frowning in thought. “Apparently he’s the hottest thing I’ll ever see?”
Sandra blushed again.
“I ... I suppose he’s a looker...”
Jack looked intrigued.
“But you’re not into that sort of thing?”
Sandra looked down and mumbled “Just prefer soul, that’s all.”
“Aw, no, don’t be embarrassed! I think that’s beautiful.”
Sandra glanced up and met Jack’s gaze; she looked away quickly. His eyes had been brighter ... and slightly wistful.
“Why didn’t you come together?” David wondered.
“Oh, he’s driving and I’m not allowed in other teenagers’ cars,” Sandra said wryly.
“Fair enough,” David said.
Someone else’s footsteps and a call of “Hey guys!”
It was Willis, Christa and Jonah. Jonah, on seeing Florence, jogged up to her and hugged her.
“Hey,” he said. “I’m so glad you could come.” He let go and everyone could see that Florence looked startled. Jonah brought a long, thin box out of his pocket and opened it.
“I bought you a necklace.”
Florence looked at it and looked blown away.
“Jonah, that really wasn’t necessary.”
“I know,” Jonah said, looking embarrassed now. “But I wanted to. D’you want me to put it on you?”
“Um... yeah, sure,” she said, slightly awkwardly.
Jonah took out the sparkly necklace and carefully put it around Florence’s neck, doing it up at her nape.
Jack was sniggering. Florence shot him a glare, but Jonah noticed before he stopped.
“Something funny?” he asked, confused.
Jack shook his head, keeping a straight face.
“Nothing, nothing at all.”
Jonah looked even more confused.
Florence sighed slightly.
“I ... I’m not much of a pretty sparkly things girl, Jonah.” She gestured down at herself. “I mean, look at what I’m wearing.” What she was wearing was a top over denim shorts. The necklace contrasted to create an effect that wasn’t really positive.
Jonah looked pale and tense and awkward.
“But it’s okay!” Florence said hurriedly. “I do like this necklace.”
Jonah looked unconvinced.
Florence kissed his cheek. Jonah blinked and hugged her again.
“I won’t make the same mistake again,” he promised.
“Sorry,” Florence said apologetically.
Jonah shook his head, smiling to show that it was fine.
A moment later, Willis and Christa arrived at where the group was standing.
“Heya,” Christa said.
“Hi,” Willis said.
Introductions to Florence and her pack members were made and then Willis and Christa went off to get food, followed by Jonah and Florence, who were in turn followed by Roger. Kayla chose to stay with the remainder of the group.
“I feel like we should be dancing,” she said, blushing and glancing over at the DJ who was leaning against the back wall sipping a coffee, his machines clearly on some sort of autopilot.
“I’ll come with you,” Sandra offered, needing a distraction while she waited for Rhyley.
“Oh me too,” said Jack, who Sandra hoped hadn’t forgotten about Rhyley.
“Guess that means I have to come as well,” said David. So the four moved forwards and started dancing. Someone turned the lights off and a few minutes later Roger had joined the group and was taking Kayla’s hands and swaying jauntily with her, grinning.
“How long have you known Rhyley?” Jack asked Sandra.
“Um, three months,” she replied.
“Ah, so you found him quite recently. Did you know him beforehand?”
She shook her head.
“Where did you meet?”
“School. He was just someone who’d never been in my classes before.”
“Ah, interesting. And - I’m curious - do you think you’d have naturally fallen for him if you’d met him ... but not had the Wolf Dream? I’ve always wondered.”
Sandra frowned slightly, thinking about how Rhyley had been at the start of their acquaintance.
“No, definitely not. And he’d have never gone for me either.”
Jack looked concerned.
“But it’s okay now,” Sandra said quickly. “It’s a bit of a compromise but we’re working.”
“I’m waiting till marriage. He’s had nine other girlfriends.”
“Nine,” echoed Roger, who had obviously overheard. “That’s mad.”
David was astonished too.
“I don’t think I’ve even imagined having nine boyfriends in my lifetime.”
“But it’s all right now,” she insisted - to everyone. “We love each other.”
“You sure about that?” said Jack quietly - just to her. “Because...”
“Jack, I’m sorry,” she interrupted, not wanting to go through the whole offer to have her soulmate changed again - as she assumed was his idea, since he was an Alpha’s child (although with Roger being an only child, she hadn’t considered it would apply to all an Alpha’s children if there was more than one). She hadn’t realised she was so fancy-able. “You seem like a nice guy, but really, it’s fine. I’m happy.”
“Well, if you’re sure...”