still sunk in. “The problem is most bees died off in the fallout and those that survived are more susceptible to mites and diseases that also persisted and multiply in beehives. Dad’s hoping if he can produce a honey bee that is as strong as the wasp as far as fighting off diseases, he may make it possible for bee pollination again.” “Interesting,” Adrielle said. Everett laughed. “Now you really are just being nice.” Adrielle shook her head and touched the leaf of a squash. “No, I’m not. Plants are important. Imagine a world without them. I can’t believe we almost lost them all. A few of my friends would be without a purpose.” Unsure what she meant, Everett watched her in silence. She walked around the small greenhouse lit by red and orange hued bulbs. It gave her white-blonde hair a fiery glow. “Good to see you both out here.” Mr. Masterson’s voice startled Everett. Adrielle just smiled at him as if she knew he had come to the door. Everett realized that with her werewolf hearing, she probably had. “This is a beautiful greenhouse,” she said. “Yes, well, if our bees can continue to flourish, maybe we’re actually getting somewhere,” Everett’s father replied. “I hope so,” Adrielle told him. Everett could tell by her expression that she really meant it. “At least someone is taking an interest in horticulture,” Mr. Masterson said, giving Everett a meaningful look. Everett laughed. “Come on, Dad. I just don’t have a green thumb. Remember the tomato plant I managed to kill off in less than a week?” “Just because you gave it so much water it was practically floating,” his father replied, adjusting his glasses with a smile. “It looked thirsty,” Everett replied. He decided not to mention that it was perhaps his own thirst that had caused him to overwater the plant. He knew what it was like to be surrounded by so many sources to quench the need, but yet be unable to partake from any of it. He cleared his throat uncomfortably and turned to Adrielle. “I’ll walk you home.” She shook her head. “That’s not necessary. I’m perfectly fine out there by myself, which you know.” She stressed the last words meaningfully. Everett was aware of his father’s attention. “Just the same, a girl shouldn’t walk the streets alone.” Adrielle glanced at Mr. Masterson and nodded. “Okay, thank you,” she finally accepted.
The rhythmic pattern of their footsteps was all that broke the deep night. Everett searched the shadows they passed, feeling unexplainably protective over the werewolf at his side. She had already proven she could handle danger, but there was something else about her, a vulnerability he saw that made him willing to fight the world to make sure she made it back to her apartment in safety. Maybe it was the way she smiled at Bran and gave Annie a kiss on the cheek before leaving. Perhaps it was the gratitude with which she accepted the little package of rolls and honey butter his mother gave her before they left. It could also have been the way Hadley clung to her on the porch, refusing to let her go. The little five year old was notoriously shy. Everett had never seen him warm up to anyone the way he had to the werewolf. “Why did you invite me to dinner?” Adrielle asked, not looking at him. “You heard my mom on the phone,” Everett replied evasively. “It was her, not me.” Adrielle gave him a sideways glance. “Seriously, Everett. You and I both know you could have just left and not said a word, but you brought me to your home.” Her steps slowed. Everett pushed his black hair out of his eyes. “Mom always makes more than enough to feed everyone and an army on the side.” “Everett.” The way she said his name made Everett look at her, really look at her. She had stopped walking and she watched him with her hands on her hips and her head tipped slightly to one side. He saw his reflection in her golden