Winter Wars

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Marcelletta

I don’t like dreams. They’re often confusing and I can never remember what the hell I was dreaming about. The only thing that’s worse is when I do remember them, but forget not even ten minutes after I wake up. Irritating. Now, being forced into something like this by a certain someone (who will not hear the end of it when I wake up) is beyond irritating. But I suppose, after what I dreamed, he can be forgiven.

My dreams starts off with me as a few months old. I waddle towards my mom, her arms stretched out ready to catch me. “Come one, sweetie,” she smiles. “I know you can do it.” This is one of my earliest memories and before now, unless I concentrate very hard, I can’t remember it.

The scene shifts and I’m walking hand in hand with Trina by a cliff. Waves are crashing against the rocks far below and dad is humming something under his breath. He walks on my other side looking into the woods as though searching for something. There’s a blur of movement and someone is kneeling before dad. I trip on my sandals and Trina hauls me up.

“Three years,” the stranger says.

“That’s not much time at all,” Dad mutters. He looks to us. “They’re just children.”

“Catalysts,” the man corrects. “They will be the trigger for the bloodiest war in history.” A butterfly flutters in front of me and I reach out to grab it. It evades me and Trina reaches for it instead. It lands on her fingers. We both giggle and it flies off.

“Bring her,” dad says. “Bring the diviner. I must speak with my wife.”

“As you wish,” he says. In another blur of movement, he’s gone.

Dad looks tired and exhausted as he leads us away from the cliff. Trina and I jog to keep with him. “What’s wrong daddy?” Trina asks.

“Nothing, sweetheart,” he smiles. “Mommy and I just have business to talk about.” Dad pulls out his phone and calls someone. “Ethan, come to Westmoor. Bring Ryner and Jayson.”

“Who are they?” Trina asks.

Dad smiles. “Just some friends. You can play with them while mommy and I talk.” We walk inside and sit in the family room near the kitchen. Trina sits behind me and messes with my hair.

“Tree stop,” I say. “My head hurts.”

“Katina, Marcelletta.” Someone calls. We turn. Two boys are standing in front of a tall man. The older one looks tired. Bags are under his eyes and his dark skin looks grey. The younger one fidgets with his pants, his eyes look from Trina to me and then to the ground. “This is Ryner,” The man sets his hand on the older one’s head. Looking at the man, I scoot behind Trina. He looks exhausted and angry. “This is Jayson. They are my sons. They will play with you.”

He kneels down and looks both of the boys in the eyes. “These girls are important. Protect them no matter what. Understand?”

Ryner and Jayson nod.

The scene changes again and I’m three years old, running away from a fire. I look back to see Westmoor on fire. Tears are rushing down my face as I remember my birthday being celebrated at this house and turn my back to my childhood home. Trina is holding my hand as we run after Ryner and Jayson. We have to stop so many times because I keep tripping. There’s howling, barking, and baying in the air. Dark figures rush around us bathed in red.

“Marcy! Trina!”

“Mommy!” I cry. My heart is beating out of my chest in fear. “Mommy!” Trina stumbles to a stop behind Ryner and Jayson. A silver and black wolf stands in front of us, growling, hackles raised. Ryner and Jayson place themselves firmly in front of us. If wolves could laugh, this one did. As it tenses, preparing to lunge, I think back to all of the play dates we had with the two of them. The time I colored Jayson’s arm purple; when we played hide and seek and Trina and Ryner let me and Jayson win. The time we used the entire family room to build a huge fort and refused to take it down for a week.

As this runs through my mind, I make a split second decision and jump forward. Trina rushes after me as I crash into the boys. By some amazing feet, my weight is enough to make us fall to the ground in a heap and, quick as a thought, mom is there in front of us. She brandishes a long knife. In a flash of silver, the wolf falls to the ground, whimpering. Mom grabs our arms and pulls us to our feet. “Come on; follow me.” Trina takes my hand as Ryner takes Jayson’s, and we run after mom. She fights her way through the throng of snarls and yelps and small battles. Westmoor starts to collapse and a chorus of howls pierce the night.

Once more, my jumbled memories fill my head, but I know it’s still that same night. Ryner, Jayson, Trina and I sit on a bench in an office. The left wall is a floor to ceiling book shelf. The back wall is glass. Sitting at the mahogany desk is dad and I recognize this place as his office at home.

“You can’t do that,” mom grounds out. “I can’t let you do that.”

“We don’t have a choice,” Dad grumbles.

Mom slams her hands on the desk. I flinch back and scoot closer to Trina. Jayson takes my hand. “I cannot—will not—let you have our daughters mixed into this. They’re only children, Victor, three and six.”

“This is the life you chose—”

“But this is not the life they chose!” mom screams. “Look at them!” She gestures to us. Our faces are covered in dirt and ash. My ankle is throbbing and my Trina’s eyes are puffy and red. “They are terrified.”

“It’s a hazard of life.” Dad’s voice is stoic and calm. “When you found out what I was and said you still loved me, you should have known the costs. Our lives are not easy. They have never been easy. War and bloodshed are a part of us as much as the beating of our hearts.”

“If you won’t do something about this, I will.” Mom snarls. She turns in a flurry of anger and beckons us out the door with her.

The scene fades to another and I’m in Westmoor again. I don’t know how I know because the office is identical to dad’s. A blonde woman with an eyepatch is kneeling in front of Jayson and Ryner.

“Look to those girls. Do you see them?” She points to us and the look. “Try to remember the first time you met them. Remember all the time you spent together up until now. Close your eyes and focus on those memories.” The woman leans down and murmurs something over their heads. Their bodies go limp as they fall to the floor.

The woman turns her attention to us. Her eyes swirl a hypnotic grey. “I’m Matrianna. Now, please do as I say.” She repeats her instructions to us and murmurs, “So long as you’re ignorant, you will no longer be in danger. Even as you forget, they will be your protectors still. The best of luck to you both.” She kisses both of our foreheads and for the last time, everything goes dark.


Light shines in my face and I roll over. My stomach rolls and my head pounds. I open my eyes slightly to see Trina is lying next to me. Her face is beaded in sweat and she’s shaking like she’s freezing in Antarctica. I realize that I’m not much better. Her eyes fly open and she takes in a deep breath.

“What… happened?”

“I… I don’t know.” I try to sit up, but my arms shake. There’s a knock on our door and I fall off the bed. “Ow! Son of a mother frickin’ bulldog…”

The door opens. Jayson and Ryner step in. “Are you, uh, okay?” Jayson asks.

“Yeah, I’m peachy keen. I didn’t just hit my shoulder.” I rub my shoulder and lift my hand. Jayson helps me to my feet. “Oh, and Jayson?”

“Uh, yes?” I stick my leg out and pull the back of his knee forcing him to the ground. It was meant to bring him to his knees, but he has no balance and falls flat on his back. I take advantage of the situation and set my foot on his chest.

“Don’t ever drug me again. I don’t care whose orders you’re following.”

“Okay,” he groans. “I promise I won’t do it again.”

“Good,” I remove my foot and Trina gets up and folds her legs beneath her. Her expression is somber.

“Ryner, Jayson.” Jayson, now back on his feet, stands next to his brother. He fidgets with his jeans. “Tell us, what do you know about the night Westmoor burned down?”

A low rumbling sound emanates from Ryner’s throat and he crosses his arms. “That night, most of Westmoor burned to the ground. The attack was because of the two of you.”

“Three years,” I say. “When I would be five and Trina eight, something would happen with us and spark one of the bloodiest wars in history. That’s what my dad was told. Do you know what that would be?”

“No,” he says. An odd sense in the base of my skull tells me he’s lying. I decide to leave it and ask Jayson. He looks extra fidgety.

“Then what was the point of it?” Trina asks. “Was it to get me and Marcy?”

“Yes,” Ryner nods. “If the both of you were to meet an unfortunate end, then perhaps the prophecy would be diverted.”

“I’m not expert but aren’t prophesies and things like that hard to avoid? Doesn’t it, on a general scale at least, turn out worse?”

“Normally, but you two… are a special case.”

“I get the feeling if we ask, you either won’t tell us or don’t know,” I say.

“My apologies,” he shrugs. “I am not at liberty to say.”

“Who says?”

“The Beta. Since your parents have died, he is in charge.”

“I don’t do well under command.” I deadpan. “If I don’t respect or know them, they better not be surprised if I don’t listen.”

A small smile graces Ryner’s lips. “He will not take well to you.”

“Most people don’t take well to me,” I grumble. Jayson taps his jeans like he’s in war tapping morose code to save his life. His nervous tick seems to have gotten worse. “How about, Jayson? What do you know?”

“Huh, uh. I don’t really… really, uh, know anything more.” His eyes stay on the ground as he stutters out the sentence.

“Yeah, sure. We’ll talk later.” He glances at Ryner then looks back at the ground. Maybe one day I’ll figure out why he’s so nervous all the time.

“Ryner, the full moon is only a day away.” Trina starts. “Before we drank… whatever that was, the full moon was five days away. Were we out for four days?” I think back. Not once had we the time or interest to learn what phase the moon was in relative to the full moon, but I know without a doubt that she’s right. The full moon is tomorrow, but what that means, I’m not too anxious to find out.

“Yes,” Ryner shoots a glare towards Jayson. “It was a rather… startling experience.”

“Don’t get mad at him,” Trina smiles. “He was only following orders. Not much different from you.”

“I suppose,” Ryner grumbles.

“Weren’t we supposed to meet the people that chill here during the full moon?” I ask. I sit on the bed and cross my legs.

“‘Chill’ is not the word I would use for what we do here during the full moon.”

I wave my hand. “Tomato, tomahto.”

“Hey, mom and dad always left during the full moon, but mom… she wasn’t a wolf, right?”

Ryner nods.

“Then what…?” A look of understanding passed over her face and was replaced by confusion again so fast I almost missed it. She shares an intense look with Ryner and I take that as the signal for the younger siblings to leave.

“Come on, Jayson.” I pull his arm as I jump off the bed and walk to the door. “Give me a tour of the house.”

“But, I, um, already—”

“I didn’t pay attention.” I gave him a pointed glare then cut my eyes to the older people in the room.

It clicks in his eyes and he nods. “Right, um, okay.”

Before we left, Ryner stops Jayson. The look at each other, having a silent conversation and Jayson lowers his eyes to the ground. We walk out and the door closes behind us.

This time around, I still don’t pay attention as he mumbles about the house. There’re drapes, carpet, nice wood, lots of stairs and window, etcetera, etcetera. All very interesting to another person. We walk in silence until we’ve reached the landing to the third floor. I glance out the window at the ocean. “Talk to me,” I say.

Jayson jumps at my voice and wrings his fingers together. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a guy half a foot taller than me is this nervous around people. “A-about what?”

“You know what,” I say. “When we were talking you were super silent and even more fidgety than usual. And that’s saying something. You and Ryner know something and you’re not telling us. Well, Trina obviously knows more than I do, so I’m really the only one left out of the loop.”

“I, uh, I don’t—” His eyes look to the ground, to the curtains, to my shoes.

“Alright,” I put my hands on my hips. “Let’s make a deal: if you can look me in the eyes and say that you don’t know anything else, I’ll leave you alone. If not, you have to tell me all you can about what you know without complaining.”

“Ryner would be more—”

“Yes, he would be more useful, but he’s not really someone I can talk to about all of this. Now, come on, look me in the eye and say you don’t know anything else or be interrogated.” I lift my chin in defiance. “Look at me.”

Jayson lifts his gaze from my toes to my chin. “Higher,” I coax. His eyes settle on my mouth. “Higher,” He studies the bridge of my nose. “You’re getting closer.” Finally, he focuses on my eyes. Staring down Jayson might be easier if he didn’t look so freaking miserable. Unlike Ryner, whose eyes resemble the crystalized amber that catches insects, Jayson’s are more like honey, and I love honey. It’s my only weakness.

But, while he did look pitiful, I wanted to know more. This part of my life had been taken away from me at the age of three. For good reason, I will say, but nonetheless I had grown up without it. Without knowing who and what I am. Half werewolf, half human. I want to know as much as possible because mom and dad might have taught us this. And mom being who she is, will know that no matter what measures are taken to protect us, there will always be someone who can get around it. If there was one thing Sebastian taught me that I hold to, it’s that everything has a loophole, you only have to be smart enough to find it.

Jayson breaks our little staring contest and heaves a sigh. “I’ve never won at this game.” He grumbles. “I can’t look at people for very long.”

“Fine by me,” I smirk gesturing to the window seat. “Sit. It’s time to be interrogated.”

I fold my feet beneath me and stare at him. “What, uh, what do you want to know?”

“For one thing, I want to know what would have happened if Trina and I had been killed when we were kids.”

“Because of who you are, the events would have been null and the war wouldn’t have happened.”

“Okay, but what am I?”

“Half werewolf…”

“Well, yeah, I got that part, but what else? Mom could be human, but somehow I doubt that. I don’t know anything else about the magical community except diviners and even that’s vague since I don’t know all that much of what they do.”

“Um, I can’t tell you.”

“Why not?” I cross my arms and glare.

Jayson picks at the frays in his pockets. “The Beta says otherwise.”

Leaning forward, I take his face in my hands and say, “Screw. The. Beta. I wanna know more about myself and you and Ryner seem to be the only people with knowledge that I can go to.”

“I’m sorry, but I really can’t.”

Jayson goes cross eyed for a second as I squish his face in frustration. “Excuses, but whatever.” I sit back. “At least give me a hint.”

“Um, your mother never needed glasses because she had excellent sight? Is that good enough?”

I shrug. “Why are you asking me? You’re the one giving the hint.”

“Yeah, um, I guess that works. Just think about it.”

I think about it. One second… two seconds… Oh.

“She was a diviner.” I decide. “Dad knew that mom wouldn’t like that we were in danger, but once he was told that a diviner had said something about us, two heads are better than one.” Jayson nods. “What did she see that made her want to take everything away from us for good?”

“You’re back to questions I can’t answer.” He smiles.

“Yeah, all the important questions.” I pout.

He shrugs apologetically. Movement draws my attention to the window. A midnight black Chevy sports car. Jayson glances out the window and sits up straight.

“Is that one of the people staying here?”

“Yes,” Jayson nods. “He’s the Beta.” The car pulls to a stop and a man in a suit steps out. Even from the third floor I can make out a cruel sneer on the man’s face. “That’s some face you’re making.”

I relax my features, but my irritated look comes back. “Sorry, not sorry, but I don’t like your dad.”

“Most people don’t.” He agrees. “How do you know him?”

I flop down on the window seat. “He used to come to our house when we were still little. He treated me like I’m the scum of the earth and Trina like she’s the best thing since Betty White. I don’t really care, I just wanna know why he doesn’t like me.”

Jayson bites his lip and I sigh. “You know why, don’t you?”

“I’m sorry,” he apologizes. “I really don’t know why I can’t tell you, I just can’t.”

“Yeah, okay, but I’m getting tired of not being able to get the answers to the more important questions.”

“You have one answer,” he says with a hint of optimism in his voice. “That’s good, right?”

“Yeah, I guess.” I decide not to crush his small bit of enthusiasm since he’s trying to make me feel better.

Soft footsteps sound on the stairs and Jayson is on his feet before I can blink. Though I can’t see anything past Jayson, I know someone is there.

“Hello, sir,” Jayson says in a slow manner. He’s trying not to stutter, I realize. Unlike when he was talking to me, he’s stiff and is trying to keep his hands at his sides instead of picking at his jeans or tapping his thighs. It’s the first time I’ve heard him speak above a mumbled and he sounds a lot like Ryner to my surprise.

“Hello, Jayson,” Ethan says. “Where is your brother?”

“He’s downstairs with Trina, sir.”

“I see,” he murmurs. “Move,” Jayson scurries to the side and look up at the man keeping info from me. “Hello, Marcelletta.”

It’s weird hearing my full name and I almost don’t respond. “Hey, dude.”

“It is disrespectful to not stand in the presence of a superior.” His voice is monotonous, but there’s a hint of danger laced in.

I snicker. “You’re right, but it’s funny you expect me to bow and scrape when I don’t even respect you let alone like you.”

Silence stretches on for a full minute before Ethan speaks again.

“It is just as I thought when your parents described you to me, you have not enough sense to know your place.”

“Yeah, here’s the thing,” I shift my position on the seat. “I don’t do authority figures. The only people I’ve ever listened to are my parents and even that was a slim chance at best.”

“Yes, well,” He pulls at the cuffs of his jacket and his sneer turns into a mocking smile. “Your parents happen to be six feet under and I am their sole successor. You have no choice.”

Something smart is on the tip of my tongue, but irritation is making way for anger in a swift manner. How can he speak of mom and dad is such a callous manner? Dad always considered Ethan a friend no matter how monotonous and blunt he is. Mom didn’t like him all that much but still trusted him.

“And to think,” he continues. “They only do so to save an undeveloped whelp such as yourself.” I brush off the insults—I’m way too used to them to take offense—and try to rein in my anger, but his next volley of abuse sets me off. “Not only that, but you have abandoned your family to whore yourself to a—what would call him?—a gang leader.”

Now, I don’t meant to move, honest to God I don’t, but those are two things I’m sensitive about. Before I can even register what I’m doing, Jayson is holding my wrists captive to stop me from punching his father.

“Stand down,” he says. “You don’t want to do this.”

“I would listen to my son,” Ethan says in a bored tone. “He is right for once.”

Jayson looks me in the eyes and gives me a silent plea to stop. I doubt Jayson would interfere if he believed I would be able to hold my own.

I tear my wrists away and grab Ethan by the scruff of his shirt. He’s at least seven inches taller than me taller than me, but right now I feel seven feet tall. “If you wanna make me feel like shit, congrats on succeeding, but get the facts right.” I grit out. “I would never in a thousand years be a willing pet for Sebastian. I would rather die first. And the only reason I ever left everyone was to protect them. If you’re gonna do something, make sure you get it right.”

I let go and glare at him. He holds my stare even after Ryner and Trina have joined us. We stay like this for so long, even Ryner starts to fidget, but I refuse to break eye contact first. In a battle of wills, mine is always the stronger one.

Nothing breaks our showdown until his phone rings. At first he answers it without looking away, but whatever he’s told breaks his concentration. I smirk and finally turn away. I don’t care if I won because he got distracted. It’s called multitasking—something I’ve mastered.

“Come on,” I take Jayson’s hand. “Let’s go greet the people.” Jayson gives his father a nervous glance, then let’s me take him downstairs.


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