My body feels discombobulated as I slowly feel myself waking up. My head swims in confusion, trying to remember what happened. I’m grasping at straws as I finally remember everything that happened.
Spencer’s lesson, Nathan carrying me to my room.
I blushed as I remembered my endeavor with Nathan. I remembered the tingles I felt when I touched him. What was that? And how did he get to that room in the first place? It’s not like he was in there during my lesson.
I glanced over at my nightstand. 9:24 blares through the darkness around me.
As if on cue, my stomach growled, reminding me I’ve been sleeping all day and has had nothing but breakfast to satisfy me. Making a mental note of the warning Nathan gave me this morning, I climbed out of bed so I can get some food.
I thought some more about Nathan’s warning. Why would it matter? She’s not close enough to smell me, right? I’d hope not. Besides, I’m just getting some food, not going outside.
I’ve just reached the bottom stair when I hear a loud piercing scream followed by a long muffled moan, and without thinking, I turn and race towards it. Following the sound to the dining room, finding Trysten and Nathan on the floor, their clothes torn, both of their mouths dripping with blood, while Claire thrashes and moans underneath Trysten.
“Elana!” Nathan shouts, springing to his feet and holding me back as I lunge, fight, and kick desperately to get to her.
“What have you done to her?” I shout, glancing between them, then seeking Claire’s pale skin, her eyes rolling back in her head, and knowing there’s no time to waste.
“Elana, Please, stop,” he says, his voice sounding way too sure, too measured for the incriminating circumstances he’s in.
“What have you done to her?!” I scream, kicking, biting, hitting, screaming, scratching, using every ounce of my strength, but it’s no match for him. He just stands there, holding me with one hand, while absorbing my blows with barely a grimace.
“Elana, please, let me explain,” he says, dodging my furiously kicking feet that are aiming right for him.
As I stare at my friend who’s bleeding profusely, grimacing in pain, a terrible realization sweeps right through me—this is why they tried to keep me away.
“No! That’s not it at all. You’ve got it all wrong. Yes, I didn’t want you to see this, but it’s not what you think.”
He holds me up high, my legs dangling like a rag doll, and despite all my punching and fighting, he hasn’t even broken a sweat.
But I don’t care about Nathan or Trysten. I don’t even care about me. All I care about is Claire, whose lips are turning blue, as her breath grows alarmingly weak.
“What have you done to her?” I glare at him with all the hate I could muster.
“Get her out of here, Nathan! Now!” I heard Trysten yell angrily from the back somewhere.
“Elana, please, I need you to listen,” he pleads, his eyes begging mine.
Despite all my anger, despite all my adrenaline, I can still feel that warm languid tingle of his hands on my skin, and I fight so hard to ignore it. Yelling and screaming and kicking my feet, aiming for the most vulnerable parts, but always missing since he’s so much quicker than me.
“You can’t help her, trust me, we’re the only ones who can help,” Nathan said, gesturing to Trysten.
“You’re not helping her, you’re killing her!” I shout.
He shakes his head and looks at me, his face appearing tired when he whispers, “Hardly.”
I try to pull away again, but it’s no use, I can’t beat him. So I stop, let myself go limp as I close my eyes in surrender.
At the moment he relaxes his grip, I kick my foot as hard as I can, my boot hitting the target as he loosens his grip and I drop to the floor.
I spring toward Claire, my fingers slipping to her blood-covered wrist as I search for a pulse, my eyes fixed on the bite mark gnashing from her side. I beg her to keep breathing, to hang on.
I heard a low growl from Trysten before he yells, “Nathan! Get your girl under control!”
Before I know it, Nathan is behind me, growling back at Trysten. They just stare at each other, ready to spring, then Nathan backs down and scoops me into his arms.
“No! You have to let me help her! Claire!” I flail wildly and kick and scream in his arms, but like always, he just stays there with a stone grip and takes all my blows.
He carries me kicking and rebelling all the way up the stairs and to the end of the hall where my room is. He kicks the ajar door to open it more, then plops me like a feather on my bed and walks out the door and slams it closed. I chase after him and jiggle the handle, trying to catch him before he locks it, like I know he will. Unfortunately, though, I’m too late.
I punch and scream at the door, knowing he’s still there, like he always is, and protest against this kidnapping. After realizing how childish I was being though, I stopped. What kind of teenager throws tantrums? I’ll just find another way.
I sit on my bed and look for other outlets. The only ones I recognize as a liable escape is the vent and window. The vent only goes through half the house, because the instillation wasn’t finished when the house was bought. Plus, I don’t know the paths and where they would take me.
So, I have one option left. The window. I have been warned many times now about the woods right under my window, but this time, I’m sure I can make an exception. Besides, how bad could it be? I think of a plan to sneak into the back door and into the kitchen, where they were torturing her, and… well, I’ll think about it as I go.
The window is small, the hinges only opening a crack, it making it tougher. I took a deep breath, grabbed a flashlight, and headed to the window. My slim body barely fits through it and I splat on the ground below me. I heard my foot pop and my elbow jam, and when I looked at my foot, I found it bent at an awkward angle. I shushed myself, knowing if I was caught, that would be the end of my plan. I gritted my teeth and pulled my foot back into its natural position and hear another pop as it slides back into place. After this, I will demand for Claire and I to go home. I swear I will find a way.
I slowly got up, knowing just because I was immune to paranormal powers, I still wasn’t from pain. I lightly stepped on my bruised ankle and pain exploded up my leg, making me sit back down. I took a few more deep breaths and stumbled against the pain of my leg around the house.
I limped around the outline of the building, trying to reach the sliding door, but not wanting to go past the obvious windows. Now was the time to think of the rest of my plan. Especially now that my ankle was screwed, I knew I didn’t have much luck. However, it was just Trysten with Claire because I knew Nathan was still sitting outside my door. I don’t know how I always know where Nathan is, but it was kinda coming in handy now.
My hope was that someone left the sliding glass door open, although that thought scared me to death. Then I can sneak through the kitchen and easily slip down—
But then something roared in my ear and then grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled me off my feet. Pain erupted from my shoulder as razor-sharp blades broke through the surface of my flesh. I tried to scream, but my breath had been knocked out of me.
Before I knew what was happening, I was being dragged at an incredible speed across the uneven dirt ground. I barely had time to register what was happening when the pain of sticks and sharp stones tore at my clothes and skin. I flailed wildly, searching for anything that I could hit my attacker with. My mind was racing, panicked, but I knew that I couldn’t let it take me deeper into the forest.
It was too late, I realized, as I was pulled over some gnarled tree roots with a bone-shaking thud. I hit the back of my head on a rock and struggled to push back the darkness that was closing in on the edges of my vision. I could see the light from my flashlight disappearing as I was dragged farther into the dense, dark forest. Now, I screamed and screamed, sobbing and choking with fear, but when I was in the woods at night and even if someone did hear me, they couldn’t come save me. Not against this thing.
I was going to die.
I’m not going down without a fight. I lashed out, trying to grab whatever it was that was holding me. My right hand closed around a fistful of hair and I yanked for all I was worth.
I heard a slight yelping sound and for a moment the creature slowed, but didn’t let go. I twisted my head around, trying to see what had me and where it was going, but the darkness of the night wasn’t even punctured by the stars. The only source was the glaring moon, but its light was obscured by trees.
I readied myself as my body jolted over more roots, and reached out and grabbed one as I hurdled past. Bracing for the impact, I cried out when my shoulder was yanked hard. I gritted my teeth and forced myself to hold on.
Then suddenly, whatever had me let go. I leaped to my feet and turned to face my assailant. I knew those eyes anywhere. Claire’s blue eyes were glowing in the moonlight, fangs dripping with Sylvia.
Warning words of how Claire could not control herself on her first shift echoed loud in my ears. I had to get away, or she will kill me.
I screamed and tried to run, but my foot got caught in a tangle of roots and I crashed to the ground. She leaped onto my back with a roar, and I tried to roll, but she scrambled and managed to stay on top. Massive paws pinned my shoulders to the ground as the wolf snarled down at me. I felt as if my heart was going to explode, and I could hear myself breathing in wheezing gasps. I thrashed, trying to throw her off. Then there was a sudden sharp pain in the back of my head, followed by blackness.