I felt the darkness more than anything. The endless sea of black was spread out before me, taunting me. My eyes opened slightly, but there was no difference in scenery—it was just dark. I tried to open my eyes more, but that did little to show me of my surroundings. I sat up, blindly reaching and touching anything I could that might give me a clue as to where I was.
A worn, ripped quilt and thin uncovered mattress lay beneath me, torn and full of holes. A patch was stiff with some sort of stain, but I couldn’t tell of what due to the darkness. The mattress lay on nothing but the ground with nothing else beside it. I crawled off the thin padding and looked around the tiny concrete room. My hand roamed to the cracks and crevices in the room, trying to figure out an outline and frame of the room I was caged in.
“What’s going on?” I whispered into the dark, hoping for some sort of answer. My whisper vibrated off the small walls and came bouncing to me, mocking my lack of knowledge.
The cement opened and light flooded in, blinding me momentarily. I placed my hands distantly from my face, trying to block out the light but still see what is happening. A couple of silhouettes blocked some light from view, getting bigger and bigger as they closed in on me.
Big, beefy hands enveloped my arms and yanked me up, dragging me to the door. I pushed myself to fight, to do something, but none of my limbs were obeying. My feet scraped the ground with defeat and my arms hung loosely at my sides. The two men roughly dragged my unresponsive body out of the room.
I closed my eyes at the stunning light from the hallway. Unlike the small room I was just in, these walls were as white as a hospital’s. A sterile smell made its way up my nose and I cringed from the familiarity of it. If I ever got out of here, I was never going anywhere near a hospital again.
A big, deformed glass door at the end of the hallway stood in contrast to the solid metal doors lined against the wall. The men stopped, one releasing his bruising grasp as he punched numbers on a pad. A light above the handle flashed green and the door slid open. A single hospital bed lie in the middle of the room, various machines around it. A man in a white coat had his back to the door as the body guards picked me up again and shoved me into the room.
“Place her in the chair, then you two can go,” he ordered. Before I knew what was happening, I was being dragged at an inhuman speed towards the bed. Straps boorishly encompassed my wrists and ankles, confining me to the bed.
My muscles finally responded and I tugged against my restraints, desperate to get out. My hands and feet were starting to tingle from the cut-off of circulation. Now all I wanted was to get the blood flowing again as I pulled on the tight straps.
The man in a white doctor coat turned around to face me. The hair on his head was thinning out from age and thick, wired glasses perched at the tip of his nose. Thick wrinkles on his forehead started going past his balding hairline, highlighting some frustration lines.
He smirked as he came closer to me, a scalpel prominent in his grasp. I tried to inch away from him, but my restraints held me down in place. “Let’s figure out what makes you so different.”
A big screen at the end of the room suddenly illuminated, showing a very angry Nathan. He thrashed and pounded against the door, screaming in protest. ′Nathan!′ I mentally screamed, knowing there was something I had to hope in now.
He stopped abruptly as if I had actually yelled at him. Spinning around, he glared right at the camera. If looks could kill, Nathan would be able to take out the whole Russian army.
“Don’t do it,” Nathan sneered, lips barely moving as his teeth started to sharpen.
The doctor smiled cruelly, the look haunting on his face. He placed the scalpel down on a silver tray and instead balanced a thick, full syringe between his fingers. He held the needle up and squeezed the last bit of air out of it before pointing it at me. My heart picked up and fear lodged itself in my throat as I instinctively flinched away from the needle. The restraints held me firm in my place, making sure I didn’t put too much distance between us. I may not be afraid of needles, but I was of this one.
Plunging the needle in my arm, he squeezed the liquid in at a rapid pace, flooding my veins with pressure. The poison was pumped through my body, spreading quicker than wildfire. Flaming pins and needles scorched itself over my body in seconds, tearing me apart from the inside out. I clenched my fists, hoping to release a little bit of the pain racing through my limbs, but to no avail.
I let out an excruciating scream and bucked my body against the table, trying to get out of the restraints. My legs cramped and begged for the pain to stop, but another wave passed through my body at an inhuman speed. I was going to die.
My hands instinctively sprung to my overly-beating heart and I lurched from the cushion beneath me. A tear escaped from the corner of my eye as I struggled to catch my breath.
“Elana! Oh, my gosh, Elana! Don’t ever do that to me again! Are you okay?” Claire yelled from next to me.
I took deep breaths, trying to steady my erratic heart. I’m alive. My mind could only come up with those two words as I thought them again and again like a broken record. I’m alive. I’m alive. I’m alive.
Claire shifted from the back bench of the car and angled her body more in my direction. “My gosh, I thought you were going to die. How are you feeling?” Another voice came from behind me in a British accent. I turned my head slowly, just in case there were any after-effects from my awful vision. Hyene was on my left, just outside the car doors. Her arms were slack at her sides and she had a cell phone in hand, Liam’s name brightly lit in the center.
“What’s happening?” I heard the phone ask. Liam’s worry was evident in his tone as he spoke. I could only imagine his stress right now.
Hyene moved the phone back to her ear. “She just woke up.”
Claire recaptured my attention. “Elana, answer me. Are you okay?”
I opened my mouth to reply, but my voice got caught and came out as a squeak. I cleared my throat, trying to reclaim my defunct voice. “I’m fine,” I whispered.
“No, you’re not. Do realize what just happened? You just had a seizure in the back of Hyene’s car!”
I shook my head gently, still trying to avoid helping out a pending headache. “No, I just had a vision. I’m sorry I scared you, but I think I’m fine now.”
“Elana, listen to me. You just had a seizure. Liam said none of your dreams were ever that bad. Is all this training making them worse? What did you dream about?”
Claire may have given me a variety of questions to answer, but I didn’t want to reply to any of them. They’re not getting worse because I’m improving my skills, but because my lifestyle has changed tremendously, and not in the best way, apparently.
Claire sensed I didn’t want to talk about it. She let out a long, drawn-out sigh and her tense shoulders slumped against the seat like she was exhausted. “Are you okay to go into the party? I can take you back to the house if you would like.” Hyene asked, her cell phone still pressed against her ear tightly.
I thought about the tempting offer. It was safe there, and that was something I needed to feel right now. I could go and write it down to help myself forget about this nightmare—probably the worst one I’ve had.
Or, I could go back from all this work of getting ready and sit at home and worry if something will happen to my new friends tonight. If something will happen, I’m the only one who knows about it and can do something. As scared as I am, I would rather do something than cower in my room.
“No, I’ll come,” I proudly say and move to get out of the car.
Hyene repeats my answer into the speaker, then pinches the bridge of her nose as she listens to Liam’s reply. She spins around, talking softly into the phone as she tries to calm my brother down. Although we both know it will probably be useless.
After many reassuring words, my brother calms down and allows us back on the road. By his reaction, you would guess that it was him that had a vision. But, I know how he doesn’t like not being there when I need him.
I didn’t bring my phone and I was really gracious about my decision right now. There is no doubt that Liam would be blowing it up with messages asking about what happened and suggesting I come home or take it easy.
After another half hour, we finally arrive at what I assume is the house we are staying at. I have no idea how long I was asleep, but I’m guessing it was quite a distance from where we live based on the increased snowfall. The house is Victorian style, with columns stretching from the roof to the floor. There is at least two floors, and each one is complete with rows and rows of windows. The outside reminded me of Mr. Darcy’s mansion in Pride and Prejudice.
Junto meets me just outside the car and offers his elbow again. I graciously take it, thankful for the help on my impossibly high heels. “Are you feeling alright?” He asks, seeming genuinely concerned about my well-being.
I shrug my shoulders. “I know about the car ride. Are you sure you’re all right?”
“How did you know about the car ride?” I ask, suddenly cautious about how quickly word spreads.
“Jules called to tell us you guys would be a few minutes late because you were having a bad nightmare. Are you sure you’re alright?”
The whole time I was there, I didn’t even think about Jules. In fact, I don’t even think I saw her.
I nodded, not making eye contact. “Yeah, my life just feels like a broken nightmare right now. And what’s worse? There’s not a single thing I can do about it.”
Junto looked sympathetically at me, but moves us along, sensing my discomfort. Snow packs itself into the bottom of my shoes, freezing my toes. My arms and feet are starting to numb, even though we are only a second away from the large building. I’m instantly grateful I’m partnered with someone who is never cold.
The pristine walls of the luxurious building were spotless, containing a few photos of people I didn’t recognize. There was a mix of blue, purple, yellow, and green around me, everybody dressed up in some extravagant type of clothing. The second we stepped into the luxurious building, all eyes snapped in our direction. The only noise that could be heard is the orchestra in the other room.
I felt uncomfortable standing the center of attention in such a huge space. Junto seemed to sense my discomfort, dragging me as fast as he could through the foyer while keeping his head held high.
I don’t get it—has a Foreseer never come to one of these things? Maybe they thought I was inferior or superior to them.
Junto leaned in close to me, “Don’t worry about them.” When he realized I hadn’t relaxed any, he asked me to dance.
I was about to decline his offer when I saw a dark, forest green next to me. Nathan stepped onto the dance floor with Claire in tow, pulling her close to his chest. Anger and jealously bubbled in my chest at the sight. I just wanted to go over to them and tear them apart, sticking a foot-long branch between them.
Instead, I grabbed Junto, bringing him to the same dance floor as Nathan and Claire. I uncomfortably pushed myself to him. Apparently, he was uncomfortable, too, because he took a step away from me. He grabbed my hand and placed his other gently on my back and started to sway to the music. It was then I realized I didn’t know how to dance.
“Umm, I have another confession. I can’t really dance.”
Junto smiled again. “It’s alright. Just stick by me and I will protect you,” he joked, using the same line as earlier.
I tried to smile, ignoring the laugh I heard from Claire as she was spun around. “So, can I ask you a question?” Junto’s dark eyebrows popped up. “Where did your name come from? I’ve never heard it before.” The honest truth was I have been wondering since the first moment I met him. And Hyene, but I haven’t found the right time to ask her.
“I’m from Africa. My mom was an American tourist who fell in love with my dad, a Shifter.”
“So how did you come to the Night Pack?”
Junto averted his gaze. “It’s a long story.” When he realized I was still waiting for his response, he sighed. “My dad and I weren’t in the best pack. Lots of violence and drugs and stuff. One day, Nathan showed up, only to take down the pack, deeming it unworthy. Seeing as though I was the only one not stoned or drunk, I was nominated to defend the pack. We almost killed each other, but eventually I gave up and let him shut it down. I really didn’t see a purpose of letting it stay and hated my dad for the way he treated me, so I just let it get destroyed. Nathan came back for me later, inviting me to become part of another pack.”
“He has the authority to close down packs?”
“Well, kind of. There is a hierarchy for the Supernaturals, to make sure they’re being nice and everything. If the President finds it otherwise, they can send an agent to destroy the pack.”
“So, Nathan was an agent?” I asked, bewildered. I thought he was only, like, nineteen. But now it seems I might be wrong?
Junto shook his head. “That’s not my story to tell you.”
My interest piqued at his response even more. I didn’t push him, though. Just let myself go back to stumbling around like a flopping fish out of water.
But more than anything, I wanted to know what kind of secrets Nathan was keeping.