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Their Shifter Academy 2: Unclaimed
 



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Their Shifter Academy 2: Unclaimed


  Their Shifter Academy: Unclaimed

  May Dawson

  Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Epilogue

  A Note from May

  I. An Excerpt from Her Kind of Magic

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Also by May Dawson

  About the Author

  Prologue

  The worst part of dying was she’d never make him pay.

  Her fingernails scraped across the pavement as she tried to drag herself toward her sword. She was the last to fall. The only one who knew the truth.

  She owed it to her team to survive long enough to get justice for them.

  The ground beneath her was slick as she squirmed forward, her fingertips straining toward the sword. Blood. Her blood. Pumping out steadily. Gut-shot.

  She probably wouldn’t make it even if she got to the hospital, but if she could tell them what happened, if she could protect the other shifters…

  He kicked her boots, and pain jolted through her already tortured body.

  “Time’s up, Eliza,” he said. “They’ve got to believe that you died first.”

  Her fingertips finally brushed the hilt of the sword as her eyelashes fluttered closed. Too late to pray. God didn’t listen to shifters anyway. She’d decided that after her mother died. But she’d see Mom soon enough.

  When she wrapped her fingers around the hilt of the sword, he laughed behind her. “Good. Die with your sword in your hand. You’re still going to die without honor.”

  She didn’t have the strength to fight him.

  But she did have the strength left for one last spell, one of the many forbidden spells she’d learned.

  A familiar jolt of magic streamed through her body, warm and languid.

  Who knew magic felt like dying?

  He kicked her side, knocking her over as a grunt of agony exploded from her lips. She dragged the sword with her, pouring the last of her magic into the hilt. Praying, even if she didn’t believe it would matter, that he wouldn’t see the runes that glowed under her palm.

  He raised the barrel, and she knew he needed to put the bullet in her face for the story he was going to tell them.

  “Fuck you,” she told him.

  They weren’t clever last words, but they weren’t the worst, either.

  The gun went off.

  Chapter One

  Maddie

  Even the way Jensen McCauley wrote with a pencil annoyed me.

  He wrote lazy, scrawling cursive that looked like he didn’t give a shit—which was certainly the persona he presented to the world—but he wrote so fast, his pencil scratching across the page, that the noise was a constant annoying whisper.

  I stared at the two paragraphs I’d already written on the lined paper in front of me. I couldn’t think of much more on the topic Rafe had assigned during our current punishment tour of the library. He’d phrased the topic as: “Why I’ll follow the simple fucking rules set forth for me in the future.”

  I’d asked him, “Is there a rule for cadre about not swearing at their cadets?”

  Jensen had laughed out loud, a genuine, surprised laugh before he ducked his head, only to return with his usual smirk.

  Rafe had stared back at me, eyebrows rising over his dark eyes. He always looked like he was chiseled from stone, like one of those sexy statues of Lucifer, but he never looked so sexy as when he was a little bit pissed at me.

  And that was going to be my downfall.

  “You have no survival instincts, Northsea,” Rafe had said. “But you’re right. I should watch my mouth around the cadets.”

  There was a subtle emphasis that reminded me that I’d never be his friend or even his peer, let alone his girlfriend. I’d flashed him a smile, then sat down to do my homework. Rafe made us do our homework before we dug into our essays. It was a long time to be trapped in the library with the grouchy cadre I had a hopeless crush on and my worst, albeit also kind of sexy, enemy.

  The door creaked open behind us. Rafe looked up, and then his eyes brightened with recognition. I twisted to see who it was. Dani stood in the doorway, worrying her lower lip between her teeth as she waved to Rafe. Her pink-tipped, dark hair fell in loose waves around her delicate face. What was she worried about? And why was the visiting witch so damned pretty, anyway?

  Rafe rapped his knuckles sharply on the tabletop in front of me, and my heart raced as I twisted back around. “Stay on task,” he said. “I’ll be right back.”

  I blew out a breath and returned to my essay.

  It’s important to follow the rules because they are based on lessons previously learned. “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

  It was hard for me to believe that some of the rules at the academy were based on anything but a desire to make our lives miserable. If I ever made it off restriction and visited my sister, Piper, who’d been the first dean of the academy, I had a lot of questions.

  The pencil-scratching paused. Jensen’s golden-yellow eyes must’ve been fixed on me, because sudden tension whispered across the back of my neck.

  Sure enough, he was twisted in his seat, staring at me with those eerie eyes.

  “What?” I demanded.

  “You’ve got a thing for Raphael Hunt,” he said.

  “Rafe?” I never heard anyone call him Raphael.

  He mimicked me, whispering huskily, “Rafe.”

  “Maybe I do,” I said. “You jealous?”

  “Don’t flatter yourself, Northsea. You don’t have a lot of competition right now, being the only girl in school, and I’m still not interested.”

  I flashed him a tight smile. “Good.”

  He grinned back at me. “Keep telling yourself that. You’re about as transparent with me as you are with Rafe.”

  I rolled my eyes. He was trying to get under my skin. “You’re pretty transparent too, Jen. It’s embarrassing.”

  “Do you think it bugs him?” He pushed the eraser of his pencil absently into his cheek, forming a dimple under the high arch of his cheekbone. “The way you stare after him, the little smile that comes
to your lips when he pays you any attention? Even though when he’s giving you that attention you crave so much, he’s usually telling you not to be such a human trainwreck?”

  And just like that, Jensen McCauley was successfully under my skin. Like a gorgeous human splinter.

  Jensen was probably making up stuff to annoy me. Still, the idea that Rafe not only noticed, but was irritated by my crush on him was humiliating.

  “Honestly, it seems like you sigh over Rafe just as much as you do over Lex. And you wrote Lex all that poetry. You’re quite the…” he paused, dramatically looking upward as he searched for the right word. “Romantic? Obsessive?”

  It wouldn’t help to tell him to shut up. I ignored him, returning to my essay, even though I could barely focus. Jensen certainly did know how to get to me.

  It wouldn’t do me any good to ask for my poetry notebook back. Someone else had stolen my poetry journal, but Jensen had gotten his hands on it somehow—people gave the idiot whatever he wanted, for some reason—and he was never going to return it.

  “You caught me/trembling on the edge/between one life and the next/I knew you would catch me.” He delivered the lines from one of my poems with a deep dramatic voice and a flourish, before grinning and shaking his head. “You really overdramatized losing your virginity, Northsea. You’re the same person after as you were before, unfortunately: spoiled, hot-tempered, and so intense that you give me the worst case of second-hand embarrassment.”

  I closed my notebook and sat back, flashing him a tight smile once again. His words prickled on my skin, and the worst part was, Jensen was right. I’d let Jensen control me too often because my temper controlled me, and he knew how to push my buttons. I was too intense. I’d made an idiot of myself with Lex, and I’d dived headfirst into my feelings for Penn, damn the consequences. The most hurtful words are the ones that are true but delivered without any grace, any affection.

  I could hurt Jensen back. My lips parted. He’d confessed once himself that I didn’t deserve his cruelty.

  He wanted to force me out of the academy, but really, he wished his sister Eliza had left the academy. She had been the first woman to graduate from the academy.

  When anyone questioned why women couldn’t serve in the patrols, the packs invoked the name Eliza McCauley.

  I could tell him that he didn’t need to take out his family’s disgraced legacy on me.

  But I didn’t say any of that. Instead, I stood, the feet of my chair scraping across the floor. Fuck him—let him think he won. It was better than making myself mean and small.

  When he told me about Eliza, there had been a genuine, ragged edge in his voice. I couldn’t use that against him. Eliza didn’t deserve that, and maybe Jensen didn’t either.

  But I was totally going to kick his ass the next time we were in the pits, and I’d enjoy it.

  “Where are you going?” he drawled as I headed for the door. “Your crush is going to be pissed.”

  I didn’t want to answer him, but whatever. I couldn’t trust Jensen to relay the message, but an attempt might placate Rafe if he came back while I was gone. “Ladies room. Be right back.”

  Jensen smirked. “Sure. Run away, princess.”

  My jaw set. Since that was exactly what I was doing, I didn’t have much of a comeback.

  When I slipped out into the hall, Rafe was nowhere in sight. I wondered where he and Dani had gone. I had to corner her to find out more about this prophecy she’d mentioned, but the witch was elusive.

  Of course, if I was the only witch at an academy full of shifters, I’d probably move quickly and keep to myself, too.

  It was tempting to run up two floors to the peace of my own room—or the ruckus of the bathroom I shared with Silas, Penn, and Chase, which felt increasingly like our living room where we had many important talks—but that would really be flouting the rules of mandatory library hours. Instead, I slipped into the bathroom down the hall.

  I splashed water over my face, hating how easy it was for Jensen to get to me. I could hold my own when the two of us fought in the pits, even though he was more than competent as a fighter.

  But when it came to the ability to be shitty to another human being, Jensen was the king. Must’ve learned it from his dad. I’d watched Dean McCauley callously tell his son one of his best friends had been ripped apart. Every time I thought about it, a familiar, traitorous stir of sympathy for Jensen rose in my chest. Dean McCauley struck me as a cruel man, and he was cruelest to his youngest son.

  When I looked up, the girl who faced me in the mirror gazed back with clear, piercing blue eyes. It looked as though my tightly braided was almost the same pale blond shade as my sister’s, even though we weren’t sisters by blood.

  I shouldn’t be stuck at the academy this weekend. I should be going back to Blissford to support my very-pregnant older sister, and to get her mates’ help. I needed to figure out who was behind the mysterious message from my ‘father’.

  Maybe I could trust Lex, Penn, Tyson and Silas. But I didn’t want to take the gamble. My secrets could get me kicked out of the academy.

  Instead of hunting down my father or supporting my sister, I’d spend this weekend paying for my sins. And Jensen’s.

  I had to follow every little rule from now on, no matter how stupid. Sometimes, it seemed as if I was as much a witch as I was a shifter.

  If anyone found out I had a demonic babysitter that possessed woodland creatures, I’d be expelled.

  When I headed back down the hall to the library, a couple of guys loitered in the hall. They were hashing out plans to meet up at the gym. As they noticed me, their conversation abruptly broke off.

  “Hey there.” One of them flashed me a friendly smile, which I hadn’t expected. Most of the guys at the academy had been jerks so far. “How’re you doing, Maddie?”

  “Fine.” I had no idea who he was, but of course he knew my name. “How are you?”

  “Good. Hey, when you’re done, do you want to meet up with us at the gym?”

  When my lips parted, I wasn’t sure what to say in response to the invitation.

  The door to the library jerked open, and Rafe towered in the doorway. “Northsea. Get in here.”

  I raised my hand in a quick wave to the guys and ducked under Rafe’s arm as he glowered at them.

  Jensen glanced at me and yawned, looking disinterested. His voice was bored when he asked, “Was anyone bugging you?”

  “I can’t tell anymore,” I said. “You annoy me so much it really drowns out any other inconvenience.”

  “It’s nice to know I’m special to you.” He splayed one long-fingered hand over his heart.

  I sat down to work on my essay and flipped open my notebook, but I barely looked at the page.

  Was Jensen being protective? He’d convinced almost everyone at school to bully me, and then just like that, he’d snapped his fingers and warned them off.

  He claimed I was his to torment, and anyone who hurt me would suffer. Anyone else, that was. He remained devoted to making me miserable.

  Wait. Across from my essay, there was a drawing inked out on the opposite page. The picture was a disturbingly good caricature of Rafe. His chiseled cheekbones and his broad shoulders were both ridiculously pronounced.

  Underneath it, someone had written in quirky handwriting that looked an awful lot like mine: mean but adorable.

  Damn it. I looked to Jensen, who smirked at me across the table. I hadn’t known he was such an artist. Rafe had taken his seat at the second table in the library, where he was working on his own homework again. If Rafe saw this, even if I explained that it was Jensen’s handiwork, it would be—

  “Northsea!” Jensen proclaimed, pulling the notebook away from me. “That’s some impressive drawing. Are we doing graphic essays now?”

  I slapped my palm down on top of it, preventing him from tugging it any further. He grabbed it with a second hand, and I yanked back harder, trying to wrestle it back from him.


  Rafe snatched the notebook from both of us. He loomed at the edge of the table, his face exasperated. “Do you remember how you ended up in here with me to begin with? If you’re going to act like children…”

  “Sorry.” Jensen leaned back in his chair. He’d already accomplished his mission, though, because Rafe did a second take, glancing at the page again as his eyes widened.

  “I’m not sure if I should be mortified or flattered, Northsea,” Rafe said, ripping the page out of my notebook. “Or both.”

  “I didn’t draw that,” I said.

  He held up his hand. “Let’s pretend that this never happened. For the love of Cain, focus. Finish your essay so we can get out of here before midnight.”

  I returned to writing, but I glanced up through my eyelashes, curious to see if he’d throw the drawing away.

  He slipped it into his backpack and sat down before pulling an old leather-bound Hunter’s journal across the table with a sigh. Hunters kept journals of the things they found—and killed. I couldn’t wait to get deeper into the curriculum at the academy and to really dig into the supernatural.

  But for now, I continued writing this stupid essay.

  The rules against fighting in the mess makes sense because alcohol is served in the mess, and alcohol inflames tensions…

 
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