The Protectors Series Bundle - By Nana Malone Page 0,1

it in stride. She’d been friends with Cassie and Peter’s mother. She’d seen Cassie at her worst, when she was so sick in the hospital the doctors hadn’t thought she’d make it through the night. Cassie shuddered. Her congenital heart failure had meant spending more time in hospital beds than she had in her own. But thanks to her father and brother’s research she’d gotten better. Much better. She flexed her hands and wondered at their strength. Just a year before, the idea of picking up a box of canned goods would have been impossible. Now she could out-lift some of the boys who volunteered.

“Okay, look, what if I have mom call him. Sometimes he listens to her. After all, she’s almost like an aunt to him.”

Mallory was like a dog with a bone. She never gave up on anything she wanted. Cassie chuckled. “Yeah okay, if you think it’ll do any good. But honestly it’s not that big of a deal to me. I got to see you today and he’s letting me come to your birthday party at the end of the month, I’d rather not push my luck.”

Mallory tugged on her arm. ”You don’t understand. You have to come. I need moral support.”

Cassie narrowed her eyes at her friend. “Why are you pressing this? Why do I have to come? It’s just a school party and you think they’re lame anyway.”

Mallory scoffed. “Well maybe I’ve had a change of heart.”

“Bull. Spill, Mallory.”

An errant thought popped into Cassie’s head at that moment. Bryan Porter. She resisted the urge to whip around and find him in the crowded gymnasium. She’d had a crush on him since middle school when he’d moved here.

Mallory squirmed under Cassie’s gaze. “Okay, look. I promised I wouldn’t tell you, okay? Bryan’s totally in to you and wanted to see if I could convince you to come.”

Heat spiked Cassie’s skin and the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Still, she resisted the urge to turn and look for him. “I really doubt Bryan Porter wants me to come tonight. Honestly, Mal, using my crush to lure me to a party is just low.” She smirked. “And might totally work.” Maybe, just maybe, Peter would let her go tonight.

Mallory grinned. “You have to try Cassie. He so totally has a thing for you.”

Cassie flushed and her skin prickled with heat. “I—uhm—I don’t think so.” There was no way on earth Bryan, with his tall good looks, was paying her any attention. Like all the romantic comedies she liked to watch, he was movie-star good-looking for a teenager. His hair was dark and his eyes even darker. He had the constantly brooding look down pat.

“Would I lie to you, Cass? Besides you’re totally gorgeous with your black hair and those eyes of yours. Do you know how many girls go hunting for contacts to match your pale green color? And let’s not forget the skin to die for and those never-have –to-study brains. Not to mention you’re cool enough to be my bestie. Why wouldn’t he like you?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Lots of reasons. He doesn’t even know me.” Not to mention she was a total freak. But what Mallory said rang true. Sometimes she’d catch him staring at her. And every time, a single thought would pop into her mind. So pretty. But not like she thought he was pretty, more dangerous looking really. Pretty was too feminine an adjective for him. But more like he thought she was pretty. Like he was thinking the thought so hard it was written all over his face.

Mallory giggled. “Something tells me that’s about to change.”

Cassie frowned. “Huh?” But her friend had already skipped off. Bewildered, Cassie blinked. “Mal—l”

“Uhm, hey, Cassie.”

Cassie whirled around, nearly dropping a can of green beans and a box of spaghetti. Bryan stood behind her in all his lanky glory and she swallowed hard. She tried to force her mouth to work, but that would mean her brain needed to kick in first.

“H-hi, Bryan.” He smiled and Cassie’s knees wobbled. Okay, all she had to do was play it cool. This was the exact reason she told her brother she needed to go to real school, so she wouldn’t be so incredibly awkward.

“So are you coming to the party? Mallory said she’d get you there.”

Cassie shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. “I’m going to try --” She watched as his expression dimmed then amended her statement. “I—uhm, might be a little late.”