The ceiling mocked me as I lay awake in my bed next to Derek. The recent events taunted my mind, worrying about what would have happened if Nathan had not found us when he did. Would I have ended up like Steve O’Hara? How did he know where to find us? And how did Junto get there so fast without a car? Would he run around the city as a wolf for hundreds to see?
Derek shifted from next to me and I froze, as if my thinking too loud was going to wake him. Peeling the covers back slowly, I slipped out of the bed, making a commitment to leave him alone so he can sleep. He was offered a room to himself, but he was still terrified of the Walkers, so he opted to stay in my room for the time being. I didn’t mind, it helped me keep him safe.
My mind spun with unanswered questions, driving my nerves to their maximum. Crawling out of my bed, I snuck over to the door and crept down the stairs, being careful not to make any noise.
The sun still hasn’t risen, but I woke up hours ago. I grabbed a light blanket from the hall closet and pulled it over my shoulders, knowing the cold would come to me soon. Stepping into the family room, I looked around as if that room has all the answers to my questions. The picture of a wolf came into view and I stepped toward it again. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the wolves and moon were made up of names. Tons of names that circled and swirled into patterns and revealed beautiful Shape Shifters running after the midnight moon.
“Those are the names of all the people we’ve helped.” Nathan stated and came to stand be me. “We started out in New Mexico, helping whoever we could, but then had to expand. Stephan chose Colorado and this place was fixed up.”
I didn’t look at Nathan again, just admired the names in front of me. “What are you doing here?”
“I couldn’t sleep, either. When I heard you come downstairs, I saw it was an opportunity to check up on you.” Nathan stepped to my side. “Stephan had helped dozens of people, each one of them going off to do wonderful things, fulfilling their dreams, even. He pretty much saved their lives, gave them whatever they needed.
“I know you are worried about Derek right now. That and the fact that you are wanted for murder. But what I need you to understand is Stephan has always had a plan. He always knows what to do. Whatever he decides here, just know that he has put a lot of thought into it and is doing what he thinks is best for everybody.”
I looked back at the names. What he thinks is best for everybody. All these people got help from Stephan, got a chance. Did Derek have that opportunity to have the same help? He was different, like me. “When we first met, you told me that people like me were rare. Does that mean there aren’t many Foreseers anymore?”
Nathan didn’t say anything. I pulled the blanket tighter around me and turned to face him. “Please. Nobody is telling me anything and I need to know what is going on here. I at least deserve that.”
Nathan took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair. “Foreseers are the weakest strength wise of the supernatural powers, but have the strongest power. That makes them targets for the Keepers and Walkers. The population has decreased in the matter of five years to only a handful left. It’s extremely rare to have two in one state like you and Derek are,” he explained. “Most foreseers now travel with another supernatural, such as a Mind Manipulator, Shape Shifter pack, or even Vampire. On their own, they usually don’t make it.”
I thought about what this means to me. I will probably never be able to go home. Unless I want to die. “Why didn’t anybody find me in Nevada?”
“Spencer said when he went to your house, he felt a spell your mother had probably set on your siblings and home. When you go too far from where the spell was first set, it will fade away. I don’t know how your mother could find a witch, they are even more scarce, but it protects you from any supernatural or keeper to find you. That’s the only reason why you were safe there.”
“I’m not safe to go back there anymore, am I?”
Nathan looked at his feet. “No, I’m afraid not.”
I turned back to the picture to digest all this information. I’m not actually going to be going home. That’s what Hyene meant.
“How are you doing with . . . the attack?”
I shrugged. “I’m fine.” Nathan was looking at me with disbelief. “Seriously. I have some dreams and stuff that are just as bad. I’ve had them since I was just a little girl, and I guess you just learn how to cope with them when you have them so consistently.”
Nathan looked at me with pity. “I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with all that.”
I shrugged again. “I’ve dreamt about those things, you know. Not about what happened today, but I used to have dreams about them and my mom. I guess they weren’t just dreams, though.” I shivered and pulled the blanket around myself even more.
I changed the subject. My dreams are not something I like to discuss openly. “What did Stephan mean when he said I’m your responsibility? I’m not a piece of property—”
“No, of Course not!” Nathan exclaimed, cutting me off. “I’m Stephan’s son and heir to the pack, so he wants to see how I can handle all this stuff. You seem to be the largest obstacle we’ve had, so he wants me to prove myself by handling the problem.”
I shook my head. “I’m your largest obstacle? It’s a miracle you guys have made it this far.”
Nathan shot out a short laugh. “Yeah, it is. If one Foreseer can put us in danger, we’re in worse shape than we thought.”
I laughed and was grateful of how light the mood had become. I misjudged Nathan. I thought he was a heartless man who thought he was better than everybody else and hated the world. He was pushy, impossible, and self-centered. Now I realize how much he really cares about everybody here and all he wants is to help people who need it.
Nathan looked behind him to check the time. “I’m pretty late, I’m going to get some sleep. You should too.”
I turned to Nathan and saw the vulnerability shining in his eyes. His hair was still disheveled from tossing and turning in bed, but he made it look like he worked hours on it to style it perfectly. His chocolate eyes seemed to peer right into me and I felt the air being sucked from the room. All I managed to do was nod.
Nathan grabbed my hand, kissing it before turning to disappear from the family room and leaving me alone. My hand exploded in a surge of tingles, feeling as if the whole world had fallen into place. My head spun from my reaction of a simple kiss. Why does that happen?
I shook my head, trying to eliminate the question before it piled onto my other worries. Instead, I thought back to Derek. This poor boy needed help, and I wanted to be the one to give that to him. I wandered back to the dream. What were the odds I dreamt about Derek’s mother? My heart soared in the idea of her still being alive, and all I wanted to do was find her so Derek could be reunited with his family.
The glass door from behind me creaked and I spun around rapidly, almost losing the blanket from around my shoulders. Dark curtains were pulled in front of the glass, blocking my vision from the outdoors. I took a hesitant step closer, not knowing if I really heard something. You’re just being paranoid, my mind told me. You were attacked last night and you’re just on edge.
Another creak came from behind the door and my heart lurched with fear, pounding a thousand times more than usual. I felt my body tense as I struggled again to see between the dark sheets covering the tall windows. Hesitantly, I stepped forward, trying to change my angle so I could see through them. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and my body was instantly covered in goosebumps.
Someone is watching me.
I thought back to the last time I had this feeling. I took a step back, wanting to flee just as I had done that night. My mind screamed at me to go, to run as fast as I can and never come back down here at night again.
But another part of me tugged and begged to stay. To finally open that door and find out what I have been so afraid of all this time. To know I wasn’t crazy for feeling there was something out there at night. I had to finally discover what kind of fear factor kept people from the forest behind the house.
I took another step forward, this time a little more bold. A few more followed before I reached out and tugged the dark curtains aside, exposing the glass windows and door. It was close to sunrise by now, but the sky was still enveloped in darkness. Squinting, I took a closer look through the glass, but only saw the never-ending darkness around it.
I unlatched the door and stepped out, my bare feet hitting the concrete the patio furniture resided on. Looking around, I found a large pair of flip-flops next to the chairs. Slipping them on, I stepped off the patio and closer to the forest line.
My eyes scanned the woods, only finding trees and the huge shed containing every possible gun. I thought about reaching in and grabbing my shotgun. I have become pretty good at using it, but I didn’t have the keys to get in there or the ammunition. Instead, I stepped closer to woods, knowing something was in there.
I heard another snap to my right and turned so fast the blanket slipped from my shoulders. I saw a pair of bright green eyes. I blinked, not knowing if they were real. Then they were gone.
Another twig sounded from the forest and I bolted to it before I could think about what I was doing. My legs pushed me forward from under me as I raced to the one lead I had about anything being in these woods. If people were going to keep secrets from me, I was going to find out what those secrets were and why they are all so afraid of it.
“Long time no see,” a familiar voice said from behind me. I skidded to a stop and whipped around, not wanting to believe who was calling to me from the dark.
The two men from outside my house were standing before me, looking casual as they addressed me. “We’ve been looking for you for a while now,” the older one said, pulling himself off a tree he was leaning on. The sun just started to peek above the mountains, illuminating the two men in front of me in orange highlights.
The younger man also moved from his position and joined the older man standing in front of me. “I say we kill her, boss.”
My body shook in terror at the causal tone he used to say the most terrifying phrase known. The older man sneered, showing off a pair of sharpened canines. “I couldn’t agree more.”
I finally lunged, heading back to the sanctuary I left behind. My legs pumped as my body exploded with panic. They’re going to kill me.
My lungs were on fire, so I quickly stopped and threw myself behind a thick pine tree, doing the best I could not to pant or make any noise.
I racked my brain trying to remember anything about vampires that could help me, but the pain from my head and fear pumping through my veins scattered my thoughts like the needles falling from the trees around me. Not to mention I haven’t had a 411 on Vampires yet.
The older one had stopped running. The underbrush rustled as he walked a few steps, then stopped. Probably listening for my footsteps in the thick leaves.
I heard the younger guy running through the woods too, but he’d run the opposite way from me and apparently doubled back.
“Dimitri, is that you?” The old one, no more than ten feet away from me, yelled out in the dim light.
“Yeah. I haven’t seen her yet, Gavin,” Dimitri yelled from afar.
“Go to the edge of the woods and make sure she doesn’t come out that way,” Gavin instructed. His ‘friend’ immediately headed off to the right, away from us.
Rustling kicked up once more. Every leaf-crunching step brought him closer, making my stomach twist. He was less than five feet away now.
“I know you’re here somewhere between me and Dimitri,” he called. “You’ve already got me in a lot of trouble with the fire thing.” His footsteps stopped, then thumped the ground hard, followed by an annoyed grunt.
I scanned the woods, looking for a path I could take that would allow me to work my way around him and back to the way I came.
“I know you’re the one who helped that girl Claire in the fire,” Gavin said, after another thud and huff of frustration.
As soon as he said Claire’s name, I froze. Everything clicked in my brain. They’ve been warning me to stay away from Claire. That thought heated steam through my body. I guess I already knew this, but from everything that has been going on lately, I haven’t had much time to process everything. They were after my best friend and thought they could just scare me away like that.
“I know you can hear me,” he hissed, moving faster, closer than I wanted him to be. He was less than two feet away now.
I clamped my mouth shut and forced air out through my nose. My chest hurt from the attempt to keep quiet.
“But what’s been bugging us all this time,” the crunch of needles almost on top of me.
My heart pounded, making me lightheaded. I could hear his heavy breathing from the other side of this thick pine. I slowly lifted my foot and set it down on the other side of a bulging root, then slid myself slightly around the tree and away from the direction of his voice.
“And what’s been driving us nuts . . .”
The silence that followed freaked me out more than the noise of his steps closing in. I inched further away from where I heard his voice last, hoping I’d be out of his line of sight.
A blur crowded my vision as he came around the side of the tree and slammed his hands on either side of me against the bark, blocking me in. “How did you know about the fire?” Gavin snarled.
I was so shocked he caught me, a small scream escaped me. Jerking my leg up, I nailed him in the groin as if I was aiming for a goal three soccer fields away. As soon as he stumbled back, I turned to run. Tripping over more tree roots, I stumbled then took off in the direction I hadn’t come from—not knowing or caring what was over there as long as it would help me.
Gavin staggered after me, coughing hard. He mumbled something under his breath then shouted, “Dimitri! She went this way!”
It took all my willpower not to scream hysterically, but I knew I needed my lungs for running. I ran in terrifying silence, ducking past branches, jumping over logs, zigzagging around trees, doing my best to make it out of this death hole. My legs tumbled and my lungs burned, but I plunged onward.
As soon as I dodged around a big pine tree, I saw the back of the huge mansion that has been my home for the past month.
A bolt of energy jolted through my system, my feet hammered the ground as I jumped into the faded path and pushed even harder. I needed to get someone. I dug my feet into the bark and pines from the trees, giving my shaking legs everything I had.
At the moment I cleared the woods, someone grabbed my arm and whipped me around. My body flew into the back of another hard form, blocking everything from my view. A familiar tingling sensation erupted from my hands and arm where we touched.
“Stay behind me,” Nathan ordered. I didn’t argue.
Gavin and Dimitri emerged from the forest line, fangs drawn and posture ready to spring. They glared at Nathan before looking behind him to see me peeping around his huge frame.
Gavin gave out an ear-splitting laugh and retracted his fangs. Dimitri didn’t do as much as he stayed put, ready for an attack. The bright rays of the sun illuminated their faces and it was the first time I noticed a starking resemblance. They both had the same dark brown hair just brushing their shoulders and bright green eyes. The dark black rim around the emerald color looked deadly, and I couldn’t tell if it was from being a vampire or their intent to kill me.
“Dimitri, do you see this? Looks like wolfy here has gotten himself a toy,” Gavin sneered, amusement sparkling in his eyes.
Nathan’s grasp tightened on my arm while staring down the vampire. He turned his head slightly, addressing me. “Elana, go get Stephan.”
I looked at the desire to kill in Dimitri’s eyes. I didn’t know how well a Shifter could handle two vampires, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy, even for him. I couldn’t just leave him. “No,” I said defiantly and stepped out from behind Nathan.
Nathan’s grip tightened on my arm and he shoved me behind him again. I reluctantly let him, knowing he is tons stronger than I am. “Go get some help, Elana,” he said, not bothering to look back this time. “I’ll be fine, you just need to go get someone.”
His shoulders shook with furry, and I knew anybody would have to be a fool to attack Nathan with the deadly attempt radiating from him.
“Yeah, Elana,” Gavin teased. “Go get someone. We’ll be right here waiting for you to get back.” He looked over at Nathan, eyes still teasing. “Then we can have a bigger audience when we tear you apart limb by limb, having them listen to your agonizing screams and torment. Best part of this story. They won’t be able to do one single thing.”
The body blocking mine was disappeared within seconds, a big black wolf in its place. Shreds of clothes spurted around him, too small to cling to this new form. A deep, threatening growl erupted from the back of Nathan’s throat, and Dimitri jumped back in surprise at the sudden change. Gavin gave out another teasing laugh at both of us.
Nathan took a bold step towards them, but then looked at me and inched back slightly, as if he was still trying to protect me. Another snarl came out, just as harsh as the other one, but this time it came from behind me.
I turned my torso to see four other wolves. Hyene was a light brown, which was a few shades lighter than her hair. The wolf that really stunned me, though, was Claire.
Without her attacking me, I was able to really look at her. She had a salt and pepper coloring, black and white covering her whole body. Her bright blue eyes shone brightly in the early hours of the morning, really confirming to me that my best friend was a Shifter.
There was also an enormous wolf that was completely black if it wasn’t for a few white strands. The last one had a gold color, sky blue eyes illuminating enough to let me know that one was Trysten. Spencer was standing behind all the wolves, some sort of gun in his hands.
“Elana, you need to go inside. Now,” Spencer demanded, not tearing his eyes from Dimitiri’s. I took a slow step backwards, not sure if I really wanted to be in the middle of a Shape Shifter and Vampire fight. I slowly spun on my heel, patting Claire’s head on my way inside. As soon as I was in the house, Lydia rushed to me and Spencer slammed the glass door shut. I hesitantly turned around, not really sure if I wanted to watch this fight happen. But when I turned around, everybody had already disappeared.