"Maybe this isn't a good idea," Megan said, sitting behind the wheel of Lucas's car in a vacant lot. It was night, but the parking lot was well lit. Lucas chuckled.
"Really? After everything… this is what scares you?" Lucas asked, amused.
"That's not funny..." Megan said, but Lucas was still grinning.
"It is... a little," Lucas said. Megan sighed.
"I don't... have great hand-eye coordination, if you haven't noticed," Megan said irritably. Living most her early life as a wolf hadn't done her any favors. Learning to drive hadn't even crossed her mind. She had no idea why Lucas was pushing it.
"You are better than you think. Now come on... just put it in drive, and let it coast so you can get a feel for the wheel. We won't go far; it'll be fine." Lucas said. Megan sighed and put her hands on the wheel in an effort to appease him, but she couldn't make herself go further. They sat in silence for a moment; until she let her hands fall back into her lap.
"I don't want to do this," Megan said firmly. She suddenly felt on the verge of tears for no reason at all. She hated how emotional she was becoming.
"Hey... it's okay. I'm sorry I didn't mean to push you." Lucas said gently. Megan didn't look at him, until he reached over and threaded his fingers through her hair. She frowned and met his eyes. He just gave her a wolfish smile.
"You don't have to... let's just go get some dinner," Lucas said as he opened his door and quickly got out. Megan just sat there until he'd circled around to open the driver's door. Megan got out, feeling slightly shaky. He pulled her into his arms and held her tightly. Megan took a deep breath of his comforting scent.
"I'm sorry... I don't know what's wrong with me..." Megan said, her tears breaking free. She felt like an emotional wreck.
"It's okay... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have pushed you." Lucas said. Megan nuzzled further into his chest and said nothing. Lucas nuzzled into her hair and kissed the top of her head.
"Come on; it's cold out here..." Lucas continued, giving her a nudge toward the passenger seat. Megan just nodded.
"Very good," Nadya said. Megan sat at the table, staring at the flickering blue flame atop the white candle. She felt she should be happier now that they had moved onto actual spells, but her mood had hardly improved. In fact, it was getting worse. Megan wouldn't admit it, but she felt like she could barely function. She heard Nadya sigh when she got no reaction for the compliment.
"I told you this would happen. Next Blood Moon, you will need to-" Nadya began.
"NO!" Megan screeched, the candle in front of her burst, sending chunks of wax skittering across the table. A thick silence settled over them for a moment.
"I told you, you would need that release. I understand your feelings but-" Nadya began.
"Do you? Do you really? I really doubt that." Megan snarled, the anger still boiling beneath the surface. The lights around them flickered. Again, Nadya was quiet for a moment.
"Even you can't deny that you are unstable right now. The next Blood Moon is less than a month away. You can't go through another with no relief. I have an idea. It will keep you from betraying that wolf boy if that's what you're so worried about, but you must trust me." Nadya said. Megan frowned, feeling the anger inside her begin to settle a bit.
"What do you mean?" She asked.
"As I said, you must trust me. You will come to the coven house the morning of the Blood Moon, and ask no more questions about it. Understood?" Nadya said. Megan studied her face. The more she shifted, the more her wolf was becoming in tune with her senses again. Her wolf felt immediately uneasy about it, but at present, Megan didn't care. Anything would be better than using that bracelet again.
"Okay..." Megan said.
"Good, I want you-" Nadya stopped. Megan glanced up at her and frowned at the expression on Nadya's face; she looked unsettled. It was foreign to Megan, Nadya never looked worried. An oddly tense moment passed.
"You must go. Now." Nadya said as she immediately began to clear off the table. Megan stared at her, puzzled.
"Why?" Megan asked.
"I said now," Nadya said firmly. Meg frowned and stood from her chair when Nadya practically snatched it out from under her. She glanced to the window. It was 1 a.m and it was pouring rain, she could still hear the pattering on the roof. Nadya would only see her at night now since they started with spells. Why would she want her to leave?
"I have to call Lucas-" Megan began. He was her ride home, and he wasn't expecting to get her for another hour.
"NOW!" Nadya screamed, startling Megan. She grabbed her leather-bound book from the table but just as she leaned down to grab her bag Nadya shoved her toward the beaded doorway. Megan stumbled through the curtain of beads. Her bag tumbled to the ground and sent all its contents skittering across the floor. Megan dropped to her knees to frantically shove everything back in when the sound of a truck screech to a halt on the wet pavement in the store's back lot made her pause. Megan looked back at Nadya.
"Leave it and go! Do as I say!" Nadya said, her voice furious, but Megan suddenly couldn't make herself move. She heard at least four sets of footprints approach the back door.
"Nadya!" A very gruff accented voice shouted as the back door was kicked open. She heard a man's muffled screaming.
"Megan, leave," Nadya said firmly, her tone was almost begging now. Meg glanced beyond her, where she saw two men enter the room wrestling with a struggling gagged and bound man. Behind him, a fourth man walked in with a lifeless body over his shoulder. Megan heard no heartbeat. The lifeless man being carried was clearly dead.
The scent of blood and death hit her hard then. All five men were covered in it. Mud, blood, and death. It made her stomach churn.
The struggling man was dropped facedown with a horrible thump onto the ground. With his arms bound behind his back, his face hit the ground hard. It stunned him for only a moment before he continued to struggle, desperately trying to get out of the bindings. Meg found herself frozen on the spot in terror, especially as the man's pleading eyes met hers. He started to scream louder, his expression desperate for help.
"Megan, out," Nadya repeated, but her tone was calm and stern now. Only the curtain of beads separated her from the scene. Megan tore her eyes off the struggling man to glance up at Nadya, and it was then that she noticed all three men looking at her. She met eyes with the largest among them, and the hollowness of his gaze sent a chill down to her very bones.
"Oo's zis?" The man asked in a frighteningly vicious voice as the other laid the dead man down on the table.
"No one. She's off limits." Nadya said firmly. Megan didn't wait to hear his response. She snatched her phone from her belongings and shoved off the ground, leaving everything else behind. She pushed through the front door in a full out run.
"What happened?" Lucas asked gently. Meg sat trembling in the passenger seat, the color drained from her face and not from the fact that she was drenched from head to toe in freezing rain. She managed to call Lucas when she got to the next set of stores. It was almost 2 a.m. now; no one was on the street.
"Nothing," Megan said as she avoided eye contact with him. She could feel herself shaking. It wasn't just the scene that had disturbed her. Something in that man's eyes frightened her wolf to its core. Those eyes belonged to a predator of predators.
He didn't seem fully human.
"Meg, what the hell happened?" Lucas pressed. Megan swallowed. Silence settled over them.
"Fuck it.. you're not going back there." Lucas snarled as he put the car in drive. Megan grabbed onto his arm.
"No... it's okay," Megan said. Lucas looked back at her, and Meg tried her best to settle her nerves. She knew Nadya would explain everything; it had to be a misunderstanding.
"It was just...I.. I don't know what happened. Some men came in.. and.. I just got scared." Megan said. Lucas's frown deepened.
"What men?" Lucas asked.
"I don't know.. she just had some unexpected company." Megan said.
"Humans?" Lucas asked. Megan looked back to the window. The one on the ground was, but the others.. she wasn't so sure.
"Yes," Megan said anyway.
"Humans that know about us?" Lucas asked, and it was clear his voice was becoming unsettled.
"I'm not sure," Megan answered honestly.
"Well.. what the hell has you so upset?" Lucas asked. Megan shook her head.
"It's nothing..." Megan said.
"You running almost a mile in the pouring rain makes me think it's not 'nothing'" Lucas said. Megan swallowed.
"Can we just drop it?" Megan asked.
"Not until you tell me exactly what happened." Lucas pushed. Megan took a slow breath, and it went silent for a time.
"They... they had a dead man, and there was so much blood and..." Megan trailed off before she mentioned the human man bound up on the floor. She felt an inner shiver at the memory of his pleading eyes, and an overwhelming feeling of guilt crashed over her.
"What the fuck were they doing there?" Lucas growled.
"I don't know..." Megan said. Lucas's hands had gone white from gripping the steering wheel. Megan didn't dare say anything. A long silence followed aside from the pattering of the rain on the car.
"Megan... there are dangerous people out there, even for us. Especially for us," Lucas said, his voice calm and serious now. Megan said nothing. She knew about hunters. She wasn't that naïve; even the ferals were weary of them.
"Do you think they were-" Lucas began.
"I don't know. She seemed familiar with them. Maybe she does business with them.. so I don't think so." Megan continued. She doubted hunters would be involved with a witch. Despite the strangeness of everything, what really started to bug Megan was the fact that Nadya seemed to be caught by surprise. Nadya wasn't exactly the type; Megan had never seen her ruffled. It made the whole thing all the more unsettling.
"I know we've had this conversation.. but you cannot trust her. I really don't want you going back there. Maybe it's time to we go to your moth-" Lucas started.
"NO!” Megan growled and grit her teeth, she was tired of having this conversation with him! Lucas was quiet for a moment.
Megan looked out the window, gritting her teeth as she tried to calm her breathing. The surge of her wolf came to her eyes then. But more than that. She felt it, the unsteady current flowing inside her. It was making her hands ache. She clenched her fists tightly.
Nadya's words of her being unstable came back to her.
No... She could control this. Megan took several deep slow breaths and closed her eyes, forcing herself calm. It wasn't until she felt Lucas's hand running through her hair that she opened her eyes and looked over at him. He was watching her with concern.
"I'm fine," Megan said quietly. She focused on his eyes, and let his presence soothe what remained of the anger.
"I didn't mean to bring it up again," Lucas said. Megan sighed and looked away. A brief silence followed, and it wasn't until that moment that she realized the direction they were headed.
"Where are we going?" Megan asked him.
"I want to show you something," Lucas said. Megan frowned at him.
"I just... need you to understand why we don't trust them." Lucas continued. Megan sighed and sunk back in her seat a bit. They drove for another ten minutes until he pulled up into an empty parking lot of an old building. Megan glanced around them. The rain had lightened up some, but it was still coming down. Only a single street lamp illuminated the area. If it weren't for her wolf's night sight, she wouldn't be able to see anything at all. She glanced up to the sign. It was an old Salem library. Lucas got out, and Megan sighed and followed him.
"I don't think they're open," Megan said as they ran up under the overhang. Lucas tucked his hands in his pockets and didn't reply as he circled around the building. Megan followed him.
They came up to a back door, and Lucas tugged on it. It didn't budge. He cursed briefly before he back up and started to scan the second story of the building. Megan furrowed her brow.
"What are you doing?" Megan whispered. She looked around the empty lot. It was giving her the creeps for some reason. There were no modern upgrades to it. She didn't even hear the telltale hum of security cameras anywhere.
"Looking for a way to break in," Lucas said simply. Megan looked to the door again. Without even thinking, Megan leaned down and dipped her finger in the rainwater gathered in a small puddle near the door and used it to draw a sigil above the handle. She placed her palm upon it and waited a moment for the telltale feeling of warmth to rush through her hand before she opened the door. Megan glanced back and was unprepared for the look on his face.
Megan realized what she'd done. Something she never intended to do in front of him. She quickly glanced away from him.
A thick silence followed.
"Thought you were just learning to control it," Lucas said with a bit more venom then she wanted to hear. It pissed her off for some reason.
"Knowing how to use it is part of controlling it. You wanted in.. I got us in. Now are we going or not?" Megan spat back, a bit more moodily then she intended. She regretted it the moment it left her mouth. Megan avoided his eyes as he wordlessly passed her. With a sigh, she followed him in.
The smell of old parchment and mildew hit her like a slap to the face. It was pitch black; the narrow windows above were covered with some kind of butcher paper. Lucas pulled out his phone and brought up his flashlight. Megan didn't say a word as she followed along behind him, idly fiddling with her sleeve.
They walked past several long shelves as he scanned the wording along the records. Megan was starting to get restless. She felt guilty that he hadn't spoken to her. When she was about to speak, he finally stopped in front of a series of old books. He quickly pulled three out and headed over to the nearest flat surface. Megan furrowed her brow and followed behind him.
"My pack has lived here for hundreds of years. I'm talking upwards of four hundred, long before this town was even established. The Kalapuya tribe held this region when my ancestors lived here in the 1600s. So I want you to let that settle in your mind when I tell you this next part. Nadya and her coven have been here just as long, and I'm not talking generations. She has been here... with her group, for over four hundred years. The same god damn woman, unchanged. There is something seriously dark about them. I know you can't deny that. Has she even told you how old she is?" Lucas asked.
Megan stared at him, unable to help the shock on her face. Lucas handed her his phone with the light as he started flipping through pages. Megan frowned and held the light over the book for him. She was starting to feel uneasy now.
"In 1812 Europeans began to arrive, the area started out as fur trapper's outposts, and then eventually in 1842 became a legitimate town. Here..." Lucas said, finally stopping on an image. He turned the book to show her. Megan frowned and glanced down. The photo was of a pre-civil war looking town. It was centered on a group of men standing in front of what looked to be the town's church. Off to the sides were townsfolk going about their business. Some were a bit blurry, which was to be expected considering the cameras back then. But when her eyes fell on one woman, in particular, her stomach dropped.
"Recognize anyone?" Lucas asked. Megan pursed her lips. It was Nadya, even with the era clothing and hairstyle, it was unmistakably her. Megan glanced down to the date of the photo. It said August 2, 1852.
"And it's not just this... Strange things happen here; my pack avoids this town like the plague. Nothing that would make the news... but... people act strangely, sometimes they change overnight, there have been more unexplained disappearances here than most towns. Especially out there in the woods.. near their coven house. I'm not just telling you not to trust them out of prejudice... I'm telling you for legitimate reasons." Lucas said. Megan couldn't ignore the wave of uneasiness she felt at his words.
"This all just sounds like folklore.." Megan tried to defend.
"Folklore.. legends, they all come from somewhere. How do you think humans write those 'stories' about us? Someone somewhere saw us, more than one someone, enough for those stories to never die, because they know there is a hint of truth to them, people can't help but believe even if they won't admit it to themselves." Lucas said. Megan frowned and looked up at him.
"These books all have images of that coven. There are stories here too... lots of them. Weird things that all center around here... and them." Lucas said. Megan stayed silent, still staring at the photo of Nadya.
"And... there's one more thing," Lucas said. Megan glanced up at him and frowned. He looked reluctant to say it.
"Ever since you've come here, I've had this weird feeling we are never truly alone... My wolf can never be fully at ease, and I know you feel it too." Lucas said. Megan felt the chill run through her. She knew her wolf had been restless, but she attributed it to her unsteady emotional state. Megan took a slow breath and glanced away from him. A long silence followed.
"Now do you understand why I don't trust them?" Lucas said. Megan nodded as her eyes stayed glued to the old photo.
She suddenly felt torn.