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I’m Meda, the oldest triplet born to the King of the vampires and the High Alpha of the lycans. Heir to the Collective throne. My sisters and I are used to being in the spotlight. Unfortunately, our birth also comes with a prison sentence.
Leaving the compound unguarded? Not an option.
Going to an out of state college was laughable.
My parents’ solution was to expand the Collective Academy to include a University—a whopping mile from home. My sisters and I are being allowed to live in the dorms, you know, so we’ll feel normal.
My fire magic takes a strange turn, prompting me to seek the help of an old witch friend. I haven’t seen Sterling in months and when he shows up at the dorm with his two best friends, a feral need uncurls inside me.
Sterling, Dorian, and Peter are my mates. Like true, fated mates. A complication I don’t need with my fire power on the fritz.
On top of everything else, I’m having blackouts where I lose hours, sometimes a whole day. I need to fix my magic, not worry about how to deal with new mates.
When students go missing and show up dead, the evidence points to me. Suddenly I’m beyond grateful I’ve got three intelligent men on my side as I try to prove my innocence.
“Papa, it’s fine right there.” I stared at one of my overprotective parents as he positioned my bookcase, again. Taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly, I tried to keep my annoyance to a minimum—something that was always hard for me. “And I’m perfectly capable of fixing all of this.”
“I know you are, but what is an incredibly strong father good for except moving heavy furniture and beating up would-be boyfriends?” The man sliding the bookshelf across the floor for the fifth time wasn’t my biological father, but he might as well have been. He, along with my mother and her other two mates had raised my siblings and me.
“Quin?” my mom called from the common room of the top floor of our dorm at The Collective University, an extension of the Academy and a mile from home. “You done?” I heard her going into my sisters’ rooms as well, looking for all the dads. “Let’s go, unpacking is part of the fun of living away from home.”
My sensitive ears picked up their grumbles, and I smirked. I’d known it would be like this. They didn’t want to leave. I followed my Papa out of the room to join the rest of the family.
Luckily, Mom had agreed to leave our younger brothers and sisters at home. We were a houseful when everyone was gathered. I wasn’t in the mood for their million questions and the noise from their chatter.
My sisters and I were triplets, the first vampire-lycan hybrids to be known in the world. Most with parents from different species only took after one parent. My sisters and I had two dominant halves—our wolves and our vampires. We each also had a little extra power. Mine was fire.
Of course, being as special as we were meant our lives had been nothing but overprotective dads on top of overprotective guards on top of a seriously overprotective High Alpha mother. It was stifling. Not to mention our grandparents—one set being the rulers of hell.
The fact that we were living away from home while going to school was a miracle.
“You only live a mile away,” I said dryly.
“Meda, hush. I’m still not convinced this is a good idea.” Mom stood at the door, ready to usher my Niswi—all three dads—out of our new living space. All the while glaring at me as a warning to continue being mouthy and see what happened.
“It’s a great idea, Nokas.” My sister, Tala, used our pet name for our mother. The Algonquian languages of our ancestors were obscure, but we’d learned as much of them as we could as small children. “We’re ready. We’re strong, we’re trained. You prepared us to be confident, powerful women.”
My mother’s face softened as she looked at my sister. Tala had a darker nature and needed our mom the most. I’d always wished I could take away some of her anxiety and give her some of my rash personality in exchange, but there wasn’t a spell for that.
Yet. Maybe I’d learn one in my new college classes.
“You’re right. I’m not worried about you three.” She squared her shoulders. “Let’s go.”
The dads had to have their hugs and doled out last-minute advice.
“I can be here in literally five seconds,” Dad said, his fangs peeked out from his upper lip, and his eyes darkened with worry.
“Kane, you’ll not be zipping down here to check up on them. We promised them freedom.” My mother gave him her famous arched-eyebrow stare.
“Like you can call living a mile away freedom,” I muttered.
“We can hear you,” Dad said, but there was no bite in his tone.
I grinned at him. “I know.”
Amitola, the youngest of us triplets, came wandering out of her new bedroom. “Oh,” she said with surprise. “You’re still here?” She had a load of books in her arm. “I was coming to ask Meda if I could use her bookshelf.”
“Sure.” I didn’t read nearly as much as she did, and I always just grabbed one of her books anyway. Might as well let her use it. “Leave me one shelf.”
Her smile of thanks was enough for me. Ami was the absentminded one, with her head in the clouds. We all felt protective of her, but I was sure she was going to surprise us all one day. She moseyed her way into my room, trying to read the opened book on top of the huge stack, completely oblivious to the fact that she passed our Paw on the way.
Mom had mated with two lycans and a vampire the year before we were born. It hadn’t been done before—not since our Algonquian ancestors and hadn’t been done since. When she gave birth to triplet girls, the Collective—the combined Lycan Pack and Vampire Coven—had rejoiced.
They’d spent the next eighteen years smothering us. Bless their overprotective hearts. They didn’t mean to, but they were so worried about us being the only hybrids and the possibility of a threat to our lives that they forgot to let us be kids.
Mom finally ushered the Niswi out the door, leaving Ami, Tala, and I smiling at each other.
“We’re free,” I whispered.
“You’re not free.” A stern voice came muffled through the closed door to the dorm hallway. “You’re on a secure site. Nobody gets on this campus without my security team knowing about it. And everyone in this building has been thoroughly vetted to ensure your safety.”
“Stop ruining it, Paw!” I banged once on the door before turning back to my sisters. “I won’t let him ruin this for us. We may be guarded, and close to home, but for the first time we’re not in their house.” My excitement ran rampant. The world, or at least about a square mile of it, was our oyster.