Chapter 1: School
I smiled at a passing fellow wolf-bound student. I dusted off my jeans and closed my locker door.
“Next up is 'Ambush Tactics Class', after that thankfully is lunch.” I muttered a physical list aloud so I could keep better track of my day. I was tired beyond description, which was strange when I had gotten a full night’s sleep the night before.
“Ren, hey.” The slightly taller blonde boy with deep green eyes smiled at me. He wore the same brown-sweater uniform as I wore.
“Lu. Glad you managed to pull yourself out of the den.” I teased.
“I know. What can I say? Alana knows how to throw a last minute party! Stayed up way too late. I wish we were in the same class, I could use your notes again. This class is mandatory.” Luke laughed. The bags under his eyes were slightly puffed, proof of his confession.
“You must really like Alana. You've gone to one of her private parties at least thrice." I switched books from my locker and checked myself in the small mirror. I fixed what few fly-aways I could tame before closing the locker door. "Aren’t you meeting James after school for Pre-Choosing rehearsal?” I yawned.
"He’s been given leave to walk his sister home. I would ask for the same, but I know how you are about chivalry.” he teased.
“I don't mind chivalry. I mind it when it's being pushed on me.” I argued. An electronic howl called out, distant but distinct.
“That’s class. Got any plans for lunch?” he inquired.
“No. Bella decided to sit with her next pursuit, Drake BloodMark.” I shrugged and picked up the personal book I held in my arm.
“’Battle Strategies for dummies’? Really Ren?” he put his fists at his hips in mock disappointment.
“If you’re not going to read up before you go, I will have to. I’ll join you next year and one of us should know what we’re doing.”
“They train you in boot camp, remember?”
“Yeah,...thrilled.” I said flatly. The howl sounded again and Luke pecked my cheek before quickly charging off. I slowly shook my head, but couldn’t fight off the smile. Lucas Von Gerewolf was a character in his own right. I flipped my curly blonde hair over my shoulder and lightly jogged to class. I took my seat in the middle of the class room awaiting for the teacher to return. The normally plain white walls were decorated with lore of how the werewolves came to be and how they have evolved today. You’d almost swear this was a science class but no, this was 'ambush tactics and basic battle strategies'. Luke would often tease me by calling me “Athena”, but if he wasn’t going to take this war with the vampires seriously then I had to.
“Sigh!” Bella beamed when she walked into class and took her seat next to me.
“Hey Bella. Someone got some sleep.” I beamed all wide. Bella didn’t even blush.
“Serving the boys in brown before they leave is the only way I can show my appreciation.” she shrugged taking her seat next to me. I rolled my eyes but let it go. Chocolate brown straight hair, caramel eyes and bronze skin that almost glowed a light on it’s own, she was considered a being of beauty by many, myself included. She wore the medium blue jeans and brown sweater she had fashioned into a crop top. It wasn’t against the rules, so no one said anything. Cappa WolfsBane entered the classroom last, closing the door behind himself. He had bushy brown hair and wide dark brown eyes that watched us closely at all times. He wore a light blue button up shirt under a brown vest and sturdy blue jeans and brown boots, that gave a distinct accent to his walk. He shuffled his papers and cleared his throat that sounded like a pebbled stuck in a blender.
“Good afternoon Cappa WolfBane.” We replied in unison. What a good future pack.
“Remind me which side was immortal?” Bella huffed.
“The vampires, why?” I raised my eyebrow at her. Wolfbane began his long droll in his bored flat tone about the pros and cons of a plan B when invading enemy territory. Of course being the diligent student I took notes and asked questions.
Bella never kept track of her books or remembered the combination to her locker so I let her borrow mine. We had classes really close together or the same class period, and we often shared texts books. Bella was strangely more responsible with other people’s things than her own things.
“How is Cappa WolfsBane still alive?” she groaned. Cappa WolfBane had given her two essays to write before tomorrow due to her forgetting her homework...again. I laughed at her predicament and wrote the links to a few sites should could use for her extra work.
"You're a life saver, Sigh!" she squeezed me.
"I know." I winked at her. We turned to leave our lockers, the day was finally over.
At the end of the hall I saw a familiar figure. He was Luke’s opposite, in every way. His hair was black as night, his eyes were glittering jewels of green, and his skin was almost Bella-tan, but you’d never notice under his brown long sleeved shirt and dark jeans. He smiled with pride at the girl he spoke to. Her eyes were much darker, but her hair matched his. She wore a grey shirt and light jeans. He rested his hand in her hair. James NightShade, Luke’s best friend since we were kids.
“Bella!” Luke picked up a squealing Bella and spun her around. She laughed and her cheeks pinkened. Luke set her down and gave me a tight hug.
“I managed to get away long enough to see that you made it to James. With Bella around you might not need him.” Luke mussed our hair. Bella attempted to fix her hair once Luke released her and I tied my hair back into a ponytail so he couldn’t do it again.
“Don’t let it go to her head, Lu.” I teased. Bella stuck her tongue out at me.
“Of course I’ll keep my lady safe.” she winked at me.
“Bell, I’m just Sigh. Luke is just Luke, we’re no one special.” I reminded her.
“The son and daughter of the late Lieutenant Michael Gerewolf? Pure Werewolf bloodline? Just is a major understatement.” Bella crossed her arms over her chest.
“James, how’s it going home-slice?” Luke greeted James with a strange handshake.
“Luke you’re too white for that.” James complied with the handshake despite his verbal eye roll.
“You’ve met Bella, right?” Luke rested his hand on her shoulder. James and Bella shook hands. “Hi.” he muttered.“Siren.”
“James.” I greeted. We made eye contact, however brief, before he turned back to Luke.
“Not that Bella isn’t capable, but would you walk Siren home? I’ll talk to coach.” Luke bargained. James nodded to Luke. “I’ll be back shortly.” he glanced at me then turned directly to Bella. “Are you walking with us?” James asked.
“I live on the um…” She mumbled her reason, incoherently.
“She lives with her Uncle and cousins, all are of Vampire blood.” I chimed in. Bella looked at her shoes. Bella wasn’t really embarrassed by the fact that her family was mixed between wolves and vampires, but when she was around me, it seemed like a zit in a hide-able place she’d rather not bring up. Even though my line was pure werewolves dating back to the first family I didn’t have an issue with those who chose the immortality of vampires for themselves during their Ceremony of Choosing. The immortality of the vampires was tempting for the most part. Even if others considered such a privilege wrong. 'How dare you live forever!’ If they can live with drinking blood, why not let them be? The only true reason to get on a vampire’s case for being themselves is if they over drink and kill the donor. Granted this does happen but not every vampire has killed a donor. Vampires are a fascinating people if they have already gathered the patience to listen to your innate questions.
“Ah, my father is a vampire as well. Mom’s the wolf.” James told her sweetly. I had met Vampire Harry and sweet Claire in the past when Mom took Luke to a Celebration of Peace or something. Bella smiled, relieved. The girl James spoke to earlier approached slowly, her light brown eyes locked on me. She stammered in trying to say hello. I handed my books over to James and approached the girl.
“Hey, Brooke right? I remember playing house with some dolls when we were kids. It’s good to see you again, you look well.” I held my arms out inviting her to hug me. Brooke took a hesitant step closer. She was painfully shy? This wasn’t the case when we were young. I closed the gap between us and wrapped my arms around her. She stiffened upon contact then relaxed. She slowly wrapped her arms around me and squeezed harder than I did.
“I’ll never wash this sweater again!” I heard her murmur to herself and smiled. I knew I was kind of a celebrity around town, but I tried not to let it go to my head. Luke was an even bigger celebrity in town because he was Gerewolf’s firstborn and only son. I was kind of a celebrity because I was Gerewolf’s youngest child and only daughter. I was quite the catch to other noble born wolf families, not that I was anywhere near looking for that. I was more of a ‘do it yourself’ kind of girl. If I wanted to be a soft wolf-noble and have soft-wolf pups I would. Got a broken chair, not sure how to fix it? Give me an hour I’ll figure it out. I didn’t want to be the princess in distress. I wanted to be the knight to go out and save the dragon from the fellow lord. Poor dragon was just doing it’s job.
“I’ll do ya one better. I have a grey sweater I wear when I want to rebel against Mom without being obvious. I rarely wash it in case she finds it. You’re free to take it. I think seventeen and three months is a good age to give up the rebel life.” I muttered. Brooke held me at arm’s length and smiled wide.
“YES!....I mean, only if you’re not going to use it anymore.” she took her arms back and took a small step back.
“I wouldn’t offer it if I didn’t want you to have it. I’ll pick it up after we make it to my place. Mom should be at the store for another hour or so. It’s Thursday right?” I spoke.
“Yeah.” Luke chimed in thoughtfully. “Good to see you again Brooke, be nice to them Bell, and I’ve got to go. Love you, Ren.” Luke kissed my cheek with a quick peck, gave Bella a quick hug and lightly jogged away.
“We should go.” James waited until Luke was gone before he turned and began to lead the way out of the school.
The sun was bright from behind the overcast sky. The heavy blanket of the silver clouds covered our little town of RavenHill. James fell back and let the girls walk ahead of him. I stood in the middle of Bella and Brooke who each had one of my arms. We gabbed on about school and our usual day to day routine. Brooke shot questions with the intent to keep me talking. Bella would chime in when she knew the answer to a question I didn’t know. Hover Cars passed, and other students walked up to their vampire family or significant others. It was a shame that the town was divided in half. The west side of town belonged to the vampires, and their families. It’s where the blood donation centers were established, perfect for those occasions if you needed a quick buck, and hadn’t chosen your side yet, you could donate your blood, since wolf blood was poisonous to vampires. It was where the vampire families lived, when the sun set they came out to work at night, despite that the sun had no effect on them like in the tales of the past. People waved and others stared. I was used to this reaction to me simply being out in public, it was much worse if I were out with Luke.
“Good evening ladies, hey, you’re Siren Gerewolf, right?” The boy that approached had dark red hair, bright yellow eyes, wearing a black shirt and jeans. A vampire boy in the making. He seemed about the same age as Luke and James.
“I am. This is Belladonna MoonWhisperer and this is Brooke NightShade.” I introduced.
“Pleasure to meet you all.” he smiled politely to the girls at my sides. Bella eyed him wearily, and Brooke stuck a little closer to me. I squeezed my arm around her waist reassuringly. Bella and Brooke took a small step forward pushing me back so they stood in front of me.
“Good to meet you too! Oh my gosh! Are you pure Vampire? I’ll bet that’s what you’ll pick when you turn eighteen!” Bella gushed. She wrapped her arms around one of his and looked up at him like an admirer who finally caught up to her celebrity crush.
“It’s likely. About as likely as Siren picking wolf when her time comes, which would be a shame.” The new guy gave me a once over. I heard growling not far behind us.
“And your name is?” James barked.
“How rude of me, my apologies ladies. My name is Hunter DarkMoon. I’ll be walking into the Ceremony around the same time as Luke Gerewolf.” Hunter bowed.
The girls “oooh”ed, but Hunter never took his eyes off of me.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Hunter, maybe we’ll see you around.” I tried to be polite. I could grasp the tension that formed around us. Vampires weren’t well received on the Eastern side of town just as few wolves are respected in the Western side.
“I’ll see you again, Siren.” he winked at me then walked off to wherever he was going.
“I’ve been around vampires my entire life and none have sent chills down my spine like that.” Bella shivered involuntarily, her face didn’t show pleasure or thrill, but concern and unease.
“Pure Vampires may hold more power than mixed ones.” Brooke shrugged her admittance. It was as plausible an explanation as any.
“That doesn’t mean that they are not people. We were going somewhere?” I reminded them. We continued the walk to my place and I exhaled a silent sigh of relief. We got to the humble cabin; Luke, Mom, and I called home. It was a standard two story wooden house just this side of the neighborhood. All the houses after it were a one story building of similar make. Wolves were notorious for living in the woods so our houses were often made of wood or a more den-like home.
“We’re not far from here, I want to show you something!” Brooke grabbed Bella’s arm and dragged her off to a house not far from my own. I turned to James as we stood on my front porch.
“Looks like the girls made it safely home. I’ll take my books.” I held my arms out for them. James held my books close to his chest, one armed, the other hid in his pocket. He reluctantly handed them over and kept his eyes on the girls as they disappeared into the front door. I looked back at him to catch him looking away. Staring at me? Do I have something in my teeth? I had a chicken salad for lunch today maybe I had a piece of lettuce or something. I pulled out my compact mirror to see, nothing there. I shrugged and put the mirror away. Maybe I had a bug on me or something. I looked up at him to see him looking away again. I reached out and took my books one at a time.
“If the girls are safe and you don’t have anywhere to be, I’m making pizza tonight. Luke prefers his with pineapple. What a weirdo.” I laughed, not surprised when James didn’t. “But I imagine you have a Pre-Ceremony thing to get to and I won’t hold you up. Good luck.” I sent him a polite smile and opened the door to my house. I pocketed my keys and looked up at him to see him look away and try to lick his lips to hide his small ghost of a smile. He pocketed his hands and turned as if I hadn’t just caught him staring at me for the third time tonight. Must be some bug. I placed my books on the counter swearing to never forget my bag again. “I shouldn’t have passed my books over to James without permission.” Sometimes I worried my status among my people sunk in a little too deep from childhood and I was just used to others bending to my will. I bit my lip.
'I’ll have to be more conscious of that,’ I berated myself. I clapped for the lights to turn on in the kitchen. When nothing happened I clapped harder and louder, a little annoyed.
“Oh right, Mom hired electricians to install the new light types. Ahem, Owooooo!!” I howled into the empty room and the light turned on, dim at first then slid up with my howl until it was set to a soft warm glow in the kitchen. The counters were Jade green, but in truth it was dyed granite. The appliances were stainless steel and always cleaned, the floor was oak hard wood with soft bath towels set under the sink and other leak-possible spots. I slid off the brown sweater and tossed it onto the nearby dining room chair. I straightened my white under shirt and opened the silver fridge. My dough was rising nicely, I should have the pizza done before the boys get home and Bella will likely drag poor Brooke over. Mom wouldn’t be surprised to find her home full of wolf-possibles. Even if only Luke and I were Wolf-guaranteed. I threw more dough together and put it in the fridge before I headed upstairs to shower. The grand staircase wasn’t as grand as people usually expect before walking into Gerewolf’s den. The stairs were covered in the same carpet type that covered the living room floor. Our house wasn’t big for a normal family of five or six but for a family of three we needed our friends to help fill in the empty spaces. I walked up the stairs and headed to my room first, howling lowly as I went and feeling silly because of it. I knew Mom was trying to encourage Luke and I to continue our lineage to be wolves and I appreciated the support, but this was ridiculous. I howled to turn on the lights to my room. The crescent moon and the stars surrounding it still somewhat glowed as the sun’s final moments touched the stickers to keep them charged. My bed was a queen sized bed almost as plush as the brown carpet I walked on. My bedding was primarily light brown with dark blue outlines. My closet stood hidden behind my full length mirror, that stood next to the door to the bathroom. I slid the mirror aside to find my closet of primarily brown attire and accents of other colors and found the hidden shelf where my towels were stacked. I carefully lifted one towel I had chosen to find one corner tucked under the rest of the towel and smiled. Sarah our vampire maid, had little quirks about her, little homey touches she left in everything she folded or cleaned. I thought it was cute. I crossed from my bedroom to the bathroom that awaited me. When I opened the door I was confronted with the sink and the mirror the size of the wall. With the ways the mirrors were set up like a fun house it’s as if to say
’Never forget what you look like.’ Like I can forget the white skin that never tans, only burns then bleaches back to white if not whiter, or the blonde hair and the blues eyes that Luke and I shared. We called it the ‘Gerewolf’ stamp, since we had different mothers how could we look so alike? Same father. I set my towel on the white granite counter and turned on the speakers before I crossed into the next room where the shower over head stood prepped and ready.
“Luke, you’re supposed to push a single button and put the shower away when you’re done.” I rolled my eyes and shrugged it off.
I kicked the clothes aside once I was done and stepped from the tile to the slightly rougher shower rougher shower floor that was built for grip. The rock music was nearly drowned out by the hum of the lights turning on to engage the system. The water fell like rain, warm and soft at first. I lathered my hair and put in conditioner in time to grab my toothbrush and shave myself hairless. I scrubbed all visible blemishes I could see and rinsed off in the harsh, hot rain. Once I was sufficiently rinsed off the system blew cool air around the shower to de-steam it, followed by heated air to air dry me. I crossed from the bathroom to my bedroom to pick out my light brown pajama pants and a tank top. I tied my hair back in a braid and fetched my clothes from the bathroom, before I made my way down stairs. I prepped the kitchen for baking when Luke, and the girls walked in through the front door like they owned the place. Bella and Brooke were laughing and giggling, looks like Bella made a new friend. Luke came home heavy in sweat still jogging in place. Luke could replace the energizer bunny in the battery commercials. I was tired from looking at him.
“Hey sis!” Luke jogged over to me and kissed the top of my head before he jogged upstairs.
“Hi...Luke.” I said after he left. I rolled my eyes and slowly shook my head. Bella and Brooke took the bar stools by the elevated counter. “Remind me what toppings you guys wanted? I know we normally don’t do this on Thursdays but I think Mom and Luke are going away this weekend.” I mentioned.
“Yeah, so you have to go to the...cabins.” Bell shuttered.
“I’ll be there too. James opted out of the celebration this year, but they still require us to go. I think it’s an attendance thing.” Brooke frowned. I nodded in agreement.
“We’ll live. If you’re going to be there anyway then it won’t be all bad. We’ll set up a game of 3-D ball. Or did they take that down?” 3-D dodge ball with zero gravity mode was my game! I ruled the court!
“I think it’s still there.” Brooke replied.
“Great, let’s get some teams together and set up a game. Are you in Bell?” I turned to her.
“I wouldn’t go up against you, Sigh.” Bell turned me down. “Besides my family is going camping to honor the unmarked graves of the fallen.
“We’ll take pictures. I expect pictures from you as well. Hey Brooke is James coming over? Or is he too tired?” I asked.
“I saw him come home, he may be asleep.” Brooke answered.
“He should. The boys have early days tomorrow. I’d send Luke to bed, if he knew what that was.” I tease.
“I’m not the only one who noticed his lack of sleeping ability.” Brooke joked. I laughed along. I heard a soft knock at the door.
“Luuke! Door!...Luuke?” I heard the shower engage and knew he was otherwise occupied. I washed my hands of the flour in the sink and left to answer it. I opened the front door to see James. He wore a brown quarter sleeve sweater and dark jeans. His hair was styled a for a suave look with effort put into it. “Hot date tonight, James?” I teased. He laughed once through his nose followed by a small smile. He placed a hand in his pocket and the other fiddled with something around his neck that was under his sweater. ‘That’s a no, then.’ I stepped aside and let him in. He muttered something as he passed, but I missed it. “Luke is in the shower, the girls may be playing a game-” Rock music began to play as I spoke. “A music game likely. I’m making pizzas in the kitchen, let me know what you’d like as a topping. Luke is the king of Hawaiian pizzas. I know Brooke wants banana peppers and Bella is down for sausage and jalapeno peppers. I’m lame and will stick to pepperoni and sausage.” We walked into the kitchen to see the girls had gone to dance around the open living room with the speakers blaring something likely from Luke’s collection. The sound of the shower was diminished by the music. Mom will love coming home to this. I thought with a smile. I made my way back to the kitchen to put the pizzas together. I divided the dough, and looked up when I felt my bracelet vibrate. I dusted my hands off and waved my hand over it. A holo-screen blinked on and an envelope blinked in the top left corner. I tapped it to see a message take over the main part of the screen.
'Do you need some help in the kitchen?: Sent by James NightShade.’
“N-no need.” James was by the bar stools, and leaned his arm on the counter. He ran a hand through his hair.
“Haha, ninja strikes again. I would appreciate some help. Would you put the sauce in a pan and set it to simmer? I’ll put the sausage together and start some of the toppings.” He gave me a sharp nod. “Thanks. By the way, which toppings am I prepping for you?” I turned to prep the rolling pin, he opted out of answering and got to work. The girls came over when I went into the walk in pantry to grab a few other ingredients I had forgotten. The music ended and in the spance from one song ended to the next one beginning the girls had wandered back over.
“Come dance with us.” Brooke invited.
“No. I’m helping Siren make dinner.” he denied.
“You finally got back from class, take a break.” Bella agreed.
“I’m happy here. You wanted banana peppers with a dash of black pepper, weirdo?” he teased.
“Yes.” Brooke confirmed.
“And you wanted jalapenos with a slight pinch of salt, Bella?” James asked her.
“Wait, how did you know about the salt thing? Even Sigh forgets the salt.”
“Siren has a lot on her mind, I’m the extra memory space.” James sounded like he was shrugging.
“Who’s going to be the extra memory space when you and Luke take off?” Bella hinted.
“She’ll find someone. If not, I have confidence I’ll return.” James replied. This is the most I have ever heard him speak. Why didn't he talk to me? Wait, I know. I’m the best friend’s little sister. Why did he bother helping me make dinner? I grabbed the jar of jalapenos and another jar of mushrooms for Mom’s pizza. I set the jars on the counter, and checked on the oven, I reached to turn the knob to preheat the oven to see it was already set. “I don’t remember turning on the oven.” I murmured aloud. I stirred the sauce and sprinkled in a little seasoning.
“I think the sauce is almost done, I should have started the sausage ages ago.” I clicked my tongue at myself. “Sorry guys, dinner will be a little later tonight.” I warned.
“Gives the princess time to do his hair.” Bella teased.
“I heard that!” Luke called from upstairs. I laughed.
“I’m going to miss having you guys around. It’ll definitely be quieter.” I mentioned.
“Mmh.” he made a noise to let me know he heard me.
“And thank you.” I rested my hand on his shoulder as I passed. I had never seen someone’s head swivel so fast. “Oh, sorry.” I breathed taking my hand back.
“Don’t a-pologize.” he managed and went back to what he was doing. We put everything together and set it in the oven. I opted to clean the kitchen up a bit before Mom got home.