Aura

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8/College Didn't Prepare Me For This

The revolting thing in front of me was so foreign my body didn’t know how to react. Panic and run? Maybe if I stayed very still it wouldn’t notice me. No, stupid that’s a T-Rex. Oh God, this wasn’t happening. Bone and fur jutted out unnaturally until the fur became thicker, and his bones moved as if possessed. Nash fell to all fours with a grunt. I was equal parts fascinated and horrified. Like watching a car crash and knowing you can’t do anything about it.

Bones stretched against skin painfully. His body hair thickened until it covered his legs, arms, and chest spreading like a disease. His face was downcast which only silhouetted his nose elongating. Time seemed irrelevant and stagnant. The transformation finished and in its wake, a beast stood. His breathing was labored unlike my stone lungs. Jack’s smile was replaced with true horror. I dazedly noticed the two men who were at my back a moment ago were now absent. I was only a short distance from freedom. Soundlessly, my feet shuffled backward towards the open door. I rubbed the sweat from my palms against my dress. My eyes never left the beast, Jack always in my peripheral. There was no plan but to survive this moment. True to my word, I didn’t scream. No, I was too busy freaking out. The scream came from behind me in the hallway. This lady could’ve won an award, she even fainted. My head snapped back to the beast who was watching me with soulless eyes. No recognition, only the wild reflected back.

“Shut the door.” Jack’s voice was low and steady. I moved to comply but the wolf took a step in my direction a growl reverberated within the room. “Shut the door and stay in the room.” My vision blurred, was this how I die? Side to side my head refused Jack’s command.

“I-I can’t.” A whimper accompanied my trembling lip. I didn’t want to die. But the wolf, was it really still Nash? While lost in thought, Jack had moved soundless through the room. His arm gently pulled me back in and shut the door while calling out for someone to help the woman who had fainted.

“I think that’s enough Nash.” Jack’s tone was cool and clipped. He looked down with distain at Nash. “Change back, you fulfilled your end.” He tugged at his shirt sleeve to straighten the wrinkle free shirt.

I forced my attention back to the beast who seemed to be struggling with something. His sharp teeth snapped at air, head thrashing about. With a horrified gasp I blinked until I knew what I saw was real. His fur receded and bones circled at the joints until patches of skin shown. Nash knelt on all fours grunting and gulping more air than a drowning man would. Jack kicked Nash’s shoes to his form, a new pair of pants, and draped his jacket over his shoulders.

“I’ve heard it takes them awhile to talk after a shift. I suppose it’s true or you would’ve demanded I tell you where Michael is.” Jack lounged on the couch with his left ankle propped on his right knee. Nash’s head snapped up and the golden shine from his eyes glowed with unholy light. They narrowed at the sight of Jack’s casual manor. I pressed my body into the wall praying fervently that it would swallow me whole. Jack looked at his watch and tapped it. “Let’s see how long it takes a natural wolf to talk after a changing.” A low ravenous growl chilled my bones to the marrow. Did that come from Nash? But he wasn’t a wolf a anymore. Was he more beast than man then? Questions flooded my thoughts but my lips froze, terrified of the answers.

Jack ignored my presence, busy keeping time. Nash, however, seemed to look everywhere but at me while he dressed.

It started as a growl, deep and guttural, but soon formed into words. “Where?”

“Ah five minutes then!” Jack actually seemed pleased with himself. “But that’s not good enough. I want full sentences.” He tapped his watch for emphasis.

No. I wanted to get out of here now. My blood boiled at his cockiness, the situation I was in, and Nash. The words came out of their own accord. I hadn’t realized I said them until they were out. “Tell us now! I didn’t scream-”

Jack doubled over laughing. Took one look at my shocked expression then laughed long and hard once more. Well that pissed me off. Enough in fact to make my limbs work. I’m not usually a violent person but tonight I hit my limit. At the last minute my brain decided a slap wasn’t good enough. So I upgraded him to my untrained right hook. It took a moment to figure out Jack wasn’t the one laughing anymore but Nash was. One look over my shoulder eased the tension I had been holding onto. Nash was back, laugh lines and all.

Jack rubbed his left jaw and held out a card between his thumb and forefinger. “You ever get tired of this guy, come to me. I’ll hire you for the jobs no one’s stupid enough to do.” Was that a threat or a joke? “It was never about you, girl. I just wanted to see something no other human has lived to tell about.” Mouth open, I was ready ask what he meant when Nash interrupted.

“Michael, where is he?” Nash took the card from Jack’s hand.

“Lucky you he’s making his way north.”

“And that’s luck because..?” I trailed my question off into a roll of my wrist.

Jack’s face settled into an annoyed expression. “Because he’s still on American soil. No passports, for now. He’s got a meeting in Canada so he’s making his way up. Last I heard he was in Nebraska.”

“Well let’s hope the Dakotas are enough to hold his interest for a week.” Nash held out his hand. I flinched at contact. He let out a short huff and dragged me by my wrist out of the room. “Michael owes me a personal favor. He’s going to help us whether he wants to or not.”

“Why can’t you just, you know.” I trailed off embarrassed.

He stopped mid stride just outside the building. Mr. Bodyguard was still there and just as happy to see us as ever. Down the moss and marked alley, he stopped just shy of the street. Nash gave me a look, prompting me to elaborate.

I sighed and broke from his grip. “Why don’t you go all wolf on the guys after us?”

He met my eyes for a long moment and chose his words carefully. “I did.” My shock couldn’t have been clearer. “I was ambushed by my friends, well not anymore I guess.” He rubbed the back of his neck with a humorless chuckle. “I don’t know who to trust anymore. Michael is an old contact who owes me. He’s a vampire so our kind and his don’t mix much. Not only that, he’s the only one I know who will give us a chance.” Nash outstretched his hand but didn’t force me to take it. He was asking me to trust him. What choice did I have? I believed him when he said his enemies would come for me if they found out I was involved. While my mom and friends were safe and enjoying the break, I guess I was getting mixed up in a supernatural war.

I took his hand tentatively. “One condition.” He cocked his head to the side with a lopsided grin and dimple. “I want you to tell me about vampires and werewolves.”

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