(There is a prologue to Insider, but I'm changing it so I won't include it)
THIS IS THE UNEDITED FIRST CHAPTER OF INSIDER
The small black and white dog jumped into my suitcase for the third time.
“Archie,” I groaned. “Please, stop it,” I said picking up the little dog and looking into his sweet brown eyes. He gave me a little doggie whimper before I set him back down.
I had to finish packing. Caeden would be here any minute to pick me up.
It was the day before Spring Break officially began and we had a plane to catch to Lübeck, Germany.
The little Boston Terrier pawed my plain black suitcase and let out a cry.
“Archie,” I said, “I’ll be back soon. You won’t even know I’m gone.” I kissed the dog on top of his soft head and then scratched him behind the ear. His back right paw thumped enthusiastically. I smiled at him.
I stuffed the last of my clothes in the bag and then zipped it easily. I smiled satisfied. I’d managed to get a week’s worth of clothes and essentials in one carryon bag. Success was mine.
“Sophie, Caeden’s here!” called Gram from the living room.
I shrugged my shoulders at the little dog. “Sorry bud, time for me to go.”
I wheeled my bag behind me and Archie nipped at my heels.
Caeden smiled when he saw me. “What, no fifty bags?” he joked.
I pretended to be offended. “Of course not. I’m a simple girl. See-- sweatshirt, sweatpants, and ponytail,” I said pointing to each.
He laughed and then kissed my cheek. “I know it’s part of the reason why I love you,” he smiled.
“Good,” I said. “Because you’re not about to get me in another dress,” I said referring to prom.
He chuckled. “You look good either way.”
“Suck up,” I said and smacked his arm.
Gram clucked her tongue. “If you two keep bickering like an old married couple you’ll miss your flight.”
“Gram’s right,” I said to Caeden. I pulled her into a hug and kissed her cheek. “I’ll miss you Gram.”
“I’ll miss you too, sweetie,” she said and patted my cheek. She looked between me and Caeden. She pointed to each of us and said, “You two be good. No funny business.”
“Eww Gram. Please,” I said shaking my head.
Caeden chuckled. “Don’t worry. I don’t have a death wish and I’d prefer for Sophie’s dad to actually like me,” said Caeden with a smile.
Gram narrowed her eyes at him but didn’t say anything.
I turned to Caeden. “Alright, let’s get out of here before she gives us the safe sex talk.”
Both their faces blanched and I quickly scurried out the door, my laugh carrying behind me.
I turned around and Caeden came striding out the door with my bag in his hand, shaking his head at me, with Archie nipping at his heels.
“Archie!” I scolded. “You have to stay here!”
Caeden chuckled. “No, he doesn’t. We’re bringing the familiars. See,” he said and pointed to the back of his red Jeep.
I could see a large crate in the trunk with the huge Murphy was sitting inside it looking displeased.
“I thought Murphy and leather didn’t mix?” I joked.
“Hence the cage,” said Caeden with a grin. “Bryce would not relinquish the use of Stella so I had to put Murphy in a cage. He’s not at all happy,” Caeden smiled.
He opened the trunk and put my suitcase in before petting the dog on the head.
“Sorry Murphy,” he said. The dog playfully nipped at his fingers. Caeden laughed and closed the trunk.
He shook his head and then suddenly pulled me into his arms. Our bodies were so closely molded together that air couldn’t pass through.
“Caeden,” I said startled.
“Shh,” he said and one hand caressed my cheek while the other held me firmly to him. Both my hands were flat against his hard muscular chest. His hand that had been caressing my face tangled in my hair as he pressed his lips firmly against mine. My toes literally curled. My mouth opened underneath his and he deepened the kiss with a moan before he pulled away.
“What was that for,” I panted.
He tucked a piece of hair behind my ear. “With your parents around I’m probably not going to have a lot of time to do that. It’s going to be a long week,” he sighed.
“Very long,” I added breathlessly.
He chuckled and then held my door open for me. Archie hopped in and then up on my lap. Caeden jogged around to his side and started the car.
I saw Gram peek out the front window and waved at her. I saw her narrow her eyes suspiciously but she finally waved back.
“Away we go,” said Caeden with a grin as he backed out of the driveway and we began the one hour drive to the airport. He took my hand. “Are you excited to see your parents?” he asked as we got on the interstate.
“Yeah,” I smiled. “Nervous though,” I said with a laugh and glanced at him.
“How do you think I feel?” he joked.
“Hey, I already met your mom. Now it’s your turn,” I said and squeezed his hand.
“You didn’t have to go to a whole other continent to meet my mom,” he said, “and your dad is a Beaumont.” He gulped, “This should be his pack. Not mine. What if he doesn’t think I’m adequate enough for you or the pack?”
“Caeden,” I said. “You’re perfect. He’ll love you. You’re worrying over nothing. I promise you. You’ll be like the son he never had.”
“I hope you’re right,” he said taking the exit.
“I am,” I said reassuringly.
“Welcome to Virgin Atlantic Flights,” said the overly perky red head flight attendant. She was probably twenty-five or twenty-six and her eyes kept lingering on Caeden. A growl rumbled in my chest. It was the growl of a wolf. A wolf saying, back off he’s my man.
Apparently she got the message because she moved away with a strained smile. Caeden squeezed my hand and emitted a low chuckle.
“Stop it,” I said and smacked him. “What if that was some guy hitting on me? I swear you attract single females in a five mile radius like a fly to honey.”
Caeden laughed outright now, throwing back his head.
“I can’t help it,” he said, “I’m just so charming and insanely good looking,” he rubbed his jaw.
“Conceited much?” I joked and petted Archie who snoozed happily on my lap. Poor Murphy was too big and had to fly with the suitcases.
“Don’t worry, babe,” he said leaning towards me so his cerulean blue eyes dominated my vision, “I’m all yours.”
I laughed and then sobered. “I love you, Caeden, with all my heart, I do.”
His eyes darkened. “I love you too, Sophie. I won’t let him get you,” he whispered sensing my thoughts.
I sighed and leaned my head back. “I know you won’t but it still scares me. He’ll know I’m a shifter now.”
“He hasn’t shown his face in months,” hissed Caeden. “Maybe we’re lucky and something happened to him.”
“You mean… he might be dead?” I asked.
Caeden shrugged and buckled his seatbelt. “One can always hope.”
I rubbed my face. “I don’t think we’re that lucky,” I sighed.
“I don’t think so either,” he said as the plane taxied.
“At least we have each other and I’m not so defenseless this time,” I said flashing my wolfy teeth at him.
He grinned. “Nope, you’re a natural. Travis won’t know what’s coming for him if he tries to attack you again.”
“I really hope there isn’t a next time,” I whispered.
“If there is we’ll handle it together,” he said as the plane took flight.
I clenched my teeth and tried desperately to get air to my starved brain. If this annoying red head didn’t go away I was about to go all wolf up in here and it wasn’t going to be pretty. My wolf was screaming at me to defend my territory. Caeden was mine and she just wouldn’t get the message!
She leaned over me to hand him his soda practically shoving her ample chest in his face.
Sophie. Caeden warned in my mind. No doubt I was shimmering around the edges as my wolf form tried to take shape. My fingers dug into the leather armrests leaving claw marks.
“Can I get you anything else?” she said in a sickeningly sexy voice.
I glared at her but she ignored me, that was her new policy, ignore the angry girlfriend.
Caeden smiled politely at her and leaned over me like he wanted to have a more intimate conversation with her. She leaned down, once again giving him a great view of her, um… assets.
“I’d appreciate if you’d stop flirting with me,” he smiled. “It’s very rude and not at all the kind of behavior you should have on your job. I might have to file a complaint. Oh and I’m still in high school,” he added and she paled.
She slowly stood and pulled her short skirt down so it was a tad bit longer. Color flooded her cheeks making her look like a tomato. She ducked her head and darted away.
“Thank you,” I said and the air finally flowed freely to my lungs.
“Sorry I made you suffer this long but it was so hot watching you get all worked up,” he grinned wickedly.
“I hate you,” I said pouting.
He chuckled. “Oh now I know that’s not true.”
“You’re right,” I said, “but that was unusually cruel.”
He grinned and gently stroked my cheek with his index finger. “You know there’s only you,” he said.
“I know that,” I snapped. “I’m not some insecure girl,” I hissed. “But I am a wolf. You know that. Your instincts are the same as mine if a man would come onto me. My body screams that it’s wrong. You’re mine, Caeden. My body doesn’t like it when other women touch you,” I said and found my fingers digging into the leather seats again.
“You’re right,” Caeden said again. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that, no matter how cute you are when you’re mad.”
“You’re killing me,” I said.
He grinned wickedly. “Love you too, babe, love you too.”
“Bite me,” I said and playfully bit his finger instead.
* * *
As the plane landed in Germany I looked over at Caeden. He saw the fright on my face and grabbed my hand. Once we were in the air I was usually okay unless there was a lot of turbulence but take off and landings always made me sick.
“Breathe,” he said.
I glanced at him and huffed, “If I breathe I’ll be sick.”
He chuckled and I smacked him.
Finally the plane landed on the runway and I let go of Caeden’s hand. Little red half-moons dotted his hand.
“You know,” I said sitting back in the seat and taking a deep breath, “when you said you’d distract me on the plane I didn’t know it would entail flirting with the staff.”
His laugh filled the cabin. “It worked didn’t it,” he grinned.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “I might have to tell my dad.”
“You wouldn’t,” he said paling.
“Oh, I would. I don’t think my dad would like to hear about my mate flirting with a flight attendant,” I grinned and he relaxed.
He leaned over and pecked me on the lips and then cupped my cheek with his hand. “Only you,” he said and then leaned close to my ear. “I might have to distract you with my lips on the way back,” he whispered and I shivered.
The plane pulled up to the gate and everyone stood to gather their stuff. Caeden grabbed my bag and his so I could keep my hold on Archie. I followed him off the plane and took in the stiff posture of his shoulders.
“Still nervous?” I asked giggling.
He glanced behind him at me and gave me a small smile. “Very,” he sighed.
Caeden found a trolley and loaded our bags onto it and then we went to get Murphy. The large dog barked happily when he saw us.
“Hey buddy,” said Caeden bending down to pet his familiar. Murphy’s large pink tongue darted out to lick Caeden’s waiting fingers.
Caeden then proceeded to load the large crate on the trolley. The cotton of his shirt stretched tightly over his muscles and I gasped. He was too perfect.
He looked up at me and grinned. He glanced around quickly before pulling me in for a kiss. He kissed me long and deep before pulling away with a grin. “Last one for the week,” he said.
“Oh please,” I said rolling my eyes.
“Hey,” he said, “I want to be on your parent’s good side. That means hands off,” he said and raised his hands in the air to demonstrate.
I stuck my tongue out at him and he laughed.
“Sophie!” I heard called behind me.
I turned and smiled. “Mommy!” I cried, gave Archie to Caeden, and ran into her waiting arms like I was five years old.
“Sophie,” she said again crushing me to her.
“Christine, don’t squish the girl,” my dad said from beside her.
“Daddy!” I said and dove into his arms next.
“There’s my little girl,” he said and gave me his signature bear hug.
“I’ve missed you guys so much,” I said.
“Oh, we’ve missed you too, Sophie,” said my dad and I could swear he sounded close to tears.
I pulled way. “Mom, dad, this is Caeden,” I said and motioned to the hunky piece of man meat standing awkwardly to the side with the horse sized dog and the very upset black and white dog.
“Get over here,” said my dad motioning Caeden to join us. He pulled Caeden into a hug. Surprised, Caeden hugged him back. My dad pulled away and held Caeden at arm’s length looking him over. “You look so much like Roger. I can’t believe he’s gone. He was my best friend. I loved him like a brother. He’d be very proud of you, I know that I am,” said my dad.
Suddenly, tears pooled in his eyes and he hastily looked at the ground.
My dad clapped him on the back. “It’s okay, boy. Good leaders know when to show emotion and when to remain stoic. Come on let’s get out of here. I’m sure you two have tons of questions.”
I smiled at him, “Of course we do, smart people always have questions.”
My dad laughed. “I’ve missed you, Sophie.”
My mom smiled at me. Caeden grabbed the trolley and we followed my parents out into the parking garage.
“I told you they were cool,” I said.
Caeden smiled at me, “Yes, they are.”