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TRIAL BY FIRE
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult

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“No more school, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks . . .”

For a two-hundred-twenty-pound werewolf, Devon Macalister had a wicked falsetto. Leaning back in his chair with casual grace, he shot a mischievous look around our lunch table. “Everyone sing along!”

As the leader of our little group—not to mention the alpha of Devon’s pack and his best friend since kindergarten—the responsibility for shutting down his boy-band tendencies fell to me. “It’s Thanksgiving break, Dev, not summer vacation, and technically, it hasn’t even started yet.”

My words fell on deaf ears. The smile on Devon’s face widened, making him look—to my eyes, at least—more puppy than wolf. To my left, Lake, whose history with Devon’s flare for the dramatic stretched back almost as far as mine did, rolled her eyes, but her lips parted in a grin every bit as irrepressible and lupine as Devon’s.

A wave of energy—pure, undiluted, and animalistic—vibrated through my own body, and I closed my eyes for one second . . . two.

Three.

In control of the impulse to leap out of my chair and run for the woods, I glanced across the table at the last member of our little quartet. Maddy was sitting perfectly still, blinking her gray eyes owlishly, a soft smile on her lips. Images—of the night sky, of running—leapt from her mind to mine through our pack-bond, as natural as words falling off lips.

The impending full moon might have been giving the rest of our table werewolf ADD, but Maddy was perfectly Zen—much more relaxed than she normally would have been when all eyes were on the four of us.

Despite our continued efforts to blend in, the buzz of power in the air and the unspoken promise that within hours, my friends would shed their human skin were palpable. I recognized the feeling for what it was, but our very human—and easily fascinated—classmates had no idea. To them, the four of us were mysterious and magnetic and just a bit unreal— even me.

In the past nine months, my life had changed in more ways than I could count, but one of the most striking was the fact that at my new high school, I wasn’t an outsider, ignored and avoided by humans who had no idea why people like Devon and Lake—and to a lesser extent me—felt off. Instead, the other students at Weston High had developed a strange fascination with us. They didn’t approach. They didn’t try to penetrate our tight-knit group, but they watched and they whispered, and whenever Devon—Devon!—met their eyes, the girls sighed and fluttered their eyelashes in some kind of human mating ritual that I probably wouldn’t have completely understood even if I’d grown up like a normal girl.

For the complete first chapter of Trial by Fire click here>>