“Absolutely not!” A loud shout from Stephan echoed through the solid wood door separating me from the downstairs family room.
Hyene has been in there for ten minutes, trying to get permission for me to do the tutoring center after school. Apparently, it wasn’t as simple as just asking.
“She just wants to stay after school for two hours max. She will be around a bunch of people, has her cell phone on her, and we can have someone pick her up once she’s done.”
“It’s too risky! You know what’s out there. She can be attacked or kidnapped while she’s there, and her training will slow down. I just can’t risk that.”
“So you’d rather risk her leaving?”
My ears perked up at Hyene’s reasoning. The room felt silent and I couldn’t tell if they were just whispering or if Stephan was actually contemplating what she said.
“If you don’t give her this kind of freedom and reason to stay, she won’t. She’d leave once she gets the first opportunity. You know why she is so important, and above all, we can’t risk putting her in a cage. All that is going to do is scare her away, and this is one way we can show her that she is important to us and we are willing to put her own wants and desires above our own greedy plans for her. She has asked us of this one thing. If we can’t give it to her, how can we give her a reason to stay and expect her to accept us as her own?”
The room fell silent and I took that as a sign that Stephan thinking about what Hyene was saying. Why would I leave? I know I have to stay until I can control my own ability. But then again, I knew Hyene was just using that as a bargaining chip. Without me, they really had no leverage to keep Claire here.
“Okay, fine. You win. Under one circumstance. She takes this wherever she goes and sends text messages to you every half hour or so. I will have Nathan pick her up at five o’clock sharp, and she better be ready by then. Got it?”
Hyene let out a breath loud enough for me to be able to hear on the opposite side of the door. “Thank you. I’ll go let her know.”
I jerked my ear away from the door and sprinted to the bottom of the stairs, not slowing to race up the stairs, instead taking every step two at a time. Rushing down the hall, I burst into my room and sat on my bed, snagging my backpack in the meantime. I ruffled around through papers to find my book and opened it in a second, waiting for Hyene to walk in.
A light tapping came from my door. “Elana? Can I talk to you?”
“Yeah, come in,” I replied, hoping I didn’t sound as out of breath as I was.
Hyene crept in and perched on the edge of my bed. “So, I spoke with Stephan, and he agreed to let you go into the tutoring center after school. But, you can only do Monday through Thursday, send me a text every half hour, be done by five, and you carry this with you.” Hyene stretched her hand towards me and dropped a pocket knife in my palm. It was small enough to fit in the front pocket of my jeans. I flipped the blade and saw a silver, sharpened tip pop out.
“Trust me, if it was even slightly okay to have a gun, Stephan would have you take that instead. Good thing it’ll get you expelled.”
“Can’t I get expelled having this with me?”
Hyene shrugged. “Probably, but this is easier to hide.”
I smiled at her carefree attitude she said it with. “Thank you, Hyene. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for you to talk him into this, and it means a lot.”
“Yeah, it wasn’t easy, but neither is hiding from a shape shifter.” My head snapped up and caught her eye. She leaned in closer. “Just so you know, you can’t eavesdrop on a conversation between Supernaturals and expect not to get caught,” she whispered.
I opened my mouth and closed it several times, trying to figure out an excuse. “It’s alright, you’re just lucky Stephan was too fired up to notice. Be careful about that, alright?”
Hyene smiled at me and stood up to leave when I grabbed her arm. “Wait, I need to ask you something.” She sat back down on the bed. “Can Shape Shifters tell where somebody is? Like, detect their movements?”
Hyene looked at me, confused. “Well, we can trace their scent.”
“No, I mean, feel where they are. Like a magnet of some type.”
Hyene thought about it for a little bit. “Actually, I don’t even know if that’s even possible for any of the Supernaturals to do.”
What else could it be? “Okay. Thanks again, Hyene.”
Hyene smiled lightly before getting up and walking towards my door. “Oh, and by the way, Nathan is waiting for you outside in the backyard.” With that, she left.
I closed my book and jumped to the door, eager for our next lesson. Somewhere between the tutor center and attempting to hide from a Shape Shifter, I lost track of time and forgot about my lesson with Nathan.
Bounding down the stairs, I went straight to the backyard. I opened the sliding door and stepping into the cold, crisp air.
“You’re late. Why did it take you so long to get here?” Nathan scolded, already shooting at a small target hanging from a tree. I think he had a riffle, but I wasn’t sure. The sack we used from yesterday still sat there, cotton pouring out of a million holes.
“Sorry, I lost track of time,” I said as I walked over to the shed and grabbed the same shotgun I used yesterday along with more ear plugs above it in the small pouch.
Nathan squeezed the trigger and a loud ringing echoed in my ears. “Next time tell me. You have my number.”
Actually, I had everybody’s numbers. I think they were created with them in it, then encrypted so I couldn’t delete them. Another ‘precaution’.
I moved closer to him while he reloaded his gun and pulled the trigger again, flicking the safety switch and moving to put the gun back in the shed. “What’s that?”
Nathan rested the gun in its place with the assault rifles. “Enfield L-85.”
I moved closer to take another look at it. It looked like those guns you would go to war with, a thick body, switching to a skinny barrel at the front. It had an extra handle thing on the bottom, in front of the lever, and it was camouflage. “Is that your favorite?”
Nathan moved back over to the shed and reached up and grabbed the same box as yesterday, full of shotgun shells. “Line yourself up,” he ordered.
I moved back into the same spot as yesterday and got into the same stance. “What are we doing today?”
Nathan took the shotgun from me and started loading the shells. “Getting you comfortable shooting. Your shoulder sore?”
I remembered the ache I’ve had all day and cringed again. I knew it would hurt, the kickback was pretty hard, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. “A little,” I admitted.
“Well, it’s not going to get any better, just get used to it,” Nathan said and shoved the shotgun at me. “Just shoot, take your time, and get used to the way it feels. Next, we will work on aim,” Nathan said, switching the safety off the shotgun and stepping back.
I held the butt of the gun to my shoulder again and peered down the barrel. “Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it to practice until Friday.” I pulled the trigger and the gun jabbed into my sore shoulder again as the pellets went sailing into the cotton sack, barely skimming it.
“Yeah, I know,” Nathan responded as I cocked the gun and pulled the trigger again.
“How did you know?”
“Feet a little more apart,” Nathan coached. “Stephan told me.”
“Is that another Shape Shifter ability I don’t know of?” I asked while widening my stance a little and taking the last shot.
“Well, in animal form, we can communicate telepathically, but when we’re not, we use a little thing called a cell phone.” Nathan sarcastically remarked while going for the shed for more ammunition. “You should try to use one.” I looked at my feet and found the empty shells scattered around me.
I switched the safety back on and leaned down to pick up the casings. “Sorry, I was just asking. This is all so new to me, there are things I just don’t understand yet,” I whimpered, picking up the cases from yesterday as well.
I stood up to see Nathan walking over to me with a hard expression on his face. Wow, I guess I really did make him mad. “Reload and shoot another round,” he demanded while taking the empty casings from me and running to a small trash can outside the porch door. “This is the last round, due to your tardiness.”
And thank goodness. Because as much as I genuinely enjoyed shooting, I wasn’t too fond of Nathan right now.
“So, these are the sign in and out sheets, you put your name, time in, whether you are a tutor or student, and the time you leave,” Miss Brewer explained while pointing to a clipboard velcroed to the wall in the tutor center. “I want you to grab one of the tutor stickers as well, so students know they can come to you for help,” she said while pointing to a small pocket containing blue stickers with ‘Tutor’ in bold letters on it.
The tutor center was nicer than I thought. They had multiple tables, four chairs around it, a dark wood making it look more expensive than it probably was. Along the back, there was a row of counters and stools, a single computer placed in front of every other stool. The adjacent walls had a bookshelf filled with every text book, and filing cabinets of previous and future tests for the tutors to look at.
“You will get paid seven dollars an hour. I know, not a lot, but it’s still more than you had before,” she continued while weaving between tables already filled with students. “This section is history, math, science, and foreign languages,” she said, pointing to a different set of tables per subject.
“There is only one other math tutor, so I will have you start immediately. These are mostly people that care about their grades, so it should be pretty good to get them to focus and try.”
I nodded again and she continued. “Although, you did join later in the semester, so they might not be used to you.”
Stephan had me wait until Friday to tell my math teacher I would be joining her in the tutoring center. They halted gun practice and wanted Trysten to show me how to use knives, pick locks, and show me all the emergency exits around the school. I knew the last one was hopeless because of my horrible lack of direction, but I didn’t tell that to him. I kept the pocket knife in my locker, though. They all thoroughly told me to keep it on me at all times, for emergencies. When I had it on me, I felt more paranoid than safe.
All of this ‘emergencies’ and ‘precautions’ crap was getting me worried. Is there something out there I don’t know about that can hurt or kill me? I asked Hyene, but she said it was nothing. Just them being safe and paranoid. But nobody could be that paranoid, right?
“Thank you, Miss Brewer,” I thanked her, watching as she left the tutoring center and signaled for me to follow her.
Reaching into her desk drawer, she pulled out a small key with a brown leather strap on the ring. “Here is the file cabinet key, please do not abuse that use, I will destroy you,” she warned. “And thank you, Elana. You are saving my skin.”
I smiled and made it back over to the tutoring center. The kids at the tables were hunched over their text books, scribbling something on a piece of paper. Other students were speaking across from the tables, blue tutor stickers sticking out from their plain shirts.
I pulled out another chair from a nearby table and pulled out my book, shoulder yelling in protest as that small act proved to be difficult. All weekend, I had constantly traded off between Spencer and Nathan, working on my mind and guns again. I think I stopped to breathe once, and I was yelled at for it.
But, the lessons with Spencer have become easier, finally being able to open my mind on demand, next working on the abilities I will be able to develop in the near future. Nathan’s gun lessons have proven to be working out as well, and I’m finally able to get more than two pellets to hit the target. But, my arm feels like it’s going to fall off every time I even think about moving it.
I kept reading my book until people started leaving. Checking the clock, I noticed it was 4:53. I shoved my book back into my backpack and got up, slowly slinging my backpack over to my good shoulder.
“Elana, I know you didn’t do much, but I’m sure there will be someone here tomorrow that needs help. If I may ask, too, sometimes I have to leave early, so I would appreciate it if you would be able to close up for me occasionally?”
I thought about it. Stephan wouldn’t like it, persistently saying I needed to be outta here at five sharp. “How long would it be?”
“The latest I’ve ever had anyone is six thirty. But that doesn’t happen very often. You can kick them out if you want,” she informed.
It’s not that long . . . “Yeah, that would be fine.”
I waved to her while checking the clock and rushing out the door. I had two minutes until Nathan got here and I still had to put some things away in my locker.
Finally making it outside, I noticed Nathan’s old, rusty truck was sitting on the side of the school. Rushing to it, I hopped in the front seat, wincing as I pulled off my backpack and threw it in the bed.
“Shoulder still sore?” He laughed out loud and I gave him I stare I hoped told him to stop. “Don’t worry, it just takes some getting used to. It won’t feel this way for long. We don’t have a lesson until Friday, so you have some time to heal.”
We sat in silence until we came to the bottom of the mountain and the truck started the climb the small slopes. “So, sometimes I may be a little closer to six when I get done. She wants me to close up on some days.”
Nathan didn’t say anything. Just kept his eyes glued to the road ahead of him. I was going to say it again in case he didn’t hear me when he responded. “Are you sure it’s worth it? Stephan will not be happy, that will throw off our schedule, and it’s not safe at that time of the day,” he scolded, not looking at me.
“Yes, it’s worth it. This is something I like to do, and I know it will be worth it. Besides, it looks good on college transcripts.”
Nathan gave a short laugh. “Alright, it’s your funeral.”
I saw the chair across from me disappear as someone took a seat, setting their backpack on their lap and digging through it. I put my book down and placed it in the corner of the table, excited to already have someone coming to me on my second day.
I spoke to Stephan last night, and to put it simply, he didn’t want me to close the tutoring center. He very strongly spoke that opinion. I lied and told him the only way I could be a tutor was if I closed down at least once a week. Finally, he gave in and told me I could close if I was done no later than six. I might have to kick a few kids out a little here and there, but other than that, I knew it was the only way I would be able to really help out.
I told Miss Brewer and she said she would have me close every other Thursday night. It’s not like I wanted to be away from everybody at the house, I just wanted to show Miss Brewer she didn’t make a mistake asking the new girl to come for help. I wanted to show her she made the right choice and I was grateful.
Ryan sat up and plopped his math book on the desk, followed by his notebook and homework assignment labeled on the large white space on top. I finished it in class, but apparently he didn’t even start it.
“What are you doing, Ryan?” I hissed, not trying to draw attention.
He looked confused and glanced at the bright blue tag on my shirt. “You are a tutor, right?” He asked, moving his gaze back to my eyes.
“But we can’t hang out together, I already told you that,” I protested. It had been over a week since I told him we couldn’t be friends anymore, and I have done a good job avoiding him. Until now.
“Look, we’re not hanging out, I promise. I just really need help with this stuff. Basketball is starting up again soon and I really need to pass this class. I would appreciate it if you would help me?” I looked into his deep blue eyes, nearly begging me for help. “Besides, you said you would help me a week ago.”
“Why can’t Sebastian help you?” I asked, looking over at the other math tutor, who currently didn’t have anybody in front of him.
“We are in the highest math class offered at the school. He’s a class below me, so he can’t help me.”
Would it make a difference? What if the other pack doesn’t know I’m tutoring him, would they find out? The last thing I want to do is cause trouble.
It’s a couple of tutor sessions. What harm will that do? My mind reasoned. “Okay, but nobody can know about this, got it?”
Ryan rested his arms on the desk, leaning in closer. “My lips are sealed,” he whispered.
I nodded as he opened his text book to the homework page. I got to work explaining vector equations, silently wishing this was the right thing to do.