The intimidating guy that scared me to death was the first person to talk, “We, all of us, are in the Night Shade Pack—a Shape Shifter Pack.”
I couldn’t help but have a laugh escape my lips, and once that one shot through, I couldn’t control the flows of laughter after it. I glanced up to expect everyone else laughing at the joke, but there were only stone angry faces staring back at me. My laughing came to an immediate stop and I looked back at each of them, “Wait—you’re serious.” I said, half in amusement.
I turned to Claire. “You believe them?”
“Well, think bout it, El. It explains things. It makes sense.”
“No it doesn’t. This is crazy—”
“Elana, I shot fire out of my hands today. I caught the school on fire with my hands. How else would you explain that?”
I scoffed. “Not with a dumb excuse like Werewolves.”
I stopped when I heard a low growl come from the leader. Did he really just growl? “We don’t have time for this.” He mumbled. “Nathan. Trysten. Take them before everyone notices they’re gone.” Nobody moved at the command. “Now!” he said with more authority in his voice. Wait—take us where?
The blonde guy that, uh, healed my leg before argued. “But, Stephan, don’t you think they should know?”
The leader—Stephan—looked at him sternly. “Now, Trysten.” The he glanced over at the boy who saved me earlier. “You, too, Nathan. Unless you have any other objections.”
Nathan locked his eyes with mine and I just sat there, absorbed in his beautiful dark eyes. After a pause, he responded without breaking his gaze with mine, but it sounded so far away. “Yes, Alpha.”
I continued to stare at his melting chocolate circles. I tried to pull away from him, but I couldn’t do it. I just kept staring at him like he did to me. I felt like I was in a trance. The other strange part, I didn’t want to get out of it. It was like when I looked there, I was safe and I knew nothing was going to happen that I can’t handle. He almost made me want to believe this whole Werewolf scam. Almost.
I didn’t look away until a slight hold came across my arm. I looked up to find Claire with her still worried glance. She mouthed ‘are you okay?’ I just nodded and returned to my safe haven. I looked back to find that Nathan was no longer there. Instead, there was a huge furry wolf about the size of a small horse.
I felt my body jerk back in fear and my hands start to sweat. I looked around and there were many others. But the people who were there before were no longer there. Did we get attacked and I didn’t notice? But then where is the blood?
I glanced at Claire and she was already climbing on the back of one of the furry over-sized wolves. I glanced at her worriedly and sprinted at her and started to tug at her arm. “What are you doing? For all we know it could me a mutation of some kind of wolf.”
“Uh, did you not just see them change? You were staring at that guy and he transformed right in front of you.”
“Nathan did not just transform. He, uh…” the truth was, I didn’t know what happened to him. I was watching him the whole time and knew he didn’t move, but could he really transform into a wolf?
I felt my hand get wet and cool. I looked down to find one of the wolves with beautiful dark brown eyes. The same as Nathan.
This had to be a dream. But I didn’t have weird dreams. Maybe this is another metaphorical dream like the fire. I was about to wake up from this horrible nightmare with my sanity intact.
But everything felt so real. I could feel the light breeze and the wet nose press against my palm again. Maybe this is real?
One look in Nathan’s eyes told me so. I had only seen those eyes on one person, and I knew they couldn’t be duplicated. These people turned into wolves. And Claire could too—once she figured out how.
Once I got over my internal conflict and believed what was right in front of me, I looked up to tell Claire something, but she wasn’t there. Only Nathan was, and he was dressed in a pair of sweats and gray t-shirt. But he was walking around with his back was to me. I took a second to admire the muscles on his back and his incredible physique. His dark hair was cropped close to his head, but still long enough to touch the top of his shirt. I noticed the size of his arms and how proportionate they were to the rest of his muscular body.
I shook the clouds from my mind. Stop staring at him! I mean, yeah, he;s gorgeous, but get a grip of yourself. “What do we do now?”
“You have to stay away from your friend for a little bit,” his baritone voice rumbled.
Nathan stopped abruptly with his back still turned to me. He turned his head slightly to the side, but I still couldn’t see all of his face. He sighed, then responded, “It’s for your own good.”
“What do you mean?” I countered, my voice went squeaky and you can sense the hysteria in it, but I wanted to get answers.
This time, he turned his body all the way around and faced me. His eyes were hollow, holding no emotion. He answered sympathetically, “I guess the disadvantage of having a best friend is you have to know all their problems and secrets. In this case, your friend has told you too much. With the knowledge you have now, we have enemies that could use that information, and if they get to you… well, we just can’t let that happen. So you and your friend are stuck with us until you get all of your abilities under control.”
“You know, my friend and I have names. And we’re not property just to be taken. You can’t do this. Sooner or later, you’ll have to tell me where I am and let me go.”
“No, you don’t get it. This society has been hidden for over hundreds of years. There’s no way a couple of little brats are going to ruin it. Now, either come with us, or sit out here in the middle of nowhere and starve.”
I guess it was an easy decision, but I still didn’t like it. We started of. Nathan had changed back into his wolf form. Even as a wolf he was beautiful. He had slick, jet black fur covering his entire body. He jerked his chin to his back, and I guessed he wanted me to get on in a similar manner that Claire got onto the other wolf. His pelt was soft to the touch, and I could feel the hard muscles under his thick coat. Maybe all wolves are really big and I just don’t know because I never met one, but I barley made it onto his back. Good thing I’m tall.
I clung to his thick fur as he sped up in every step. His radiating warmth gave me comfort as I comprehended I was riding on a Werewolf. We flashed through the forest. I tried to glance behind me, but the wind forced my head down. Instead, I found myself clinging for dear life to Nathan’s coat and waited until the ride was over.
I was still squeezing his fur until we stopped. He let out a snort, and I took that a sign that we were done moving. I hopped off, his body lowering so I could touch the ground before I slipped off. I immediately looked for Claire, but couldn’t find her. Panicked, I asked Nathan as soon as he transformed back to human form and changed. He was wearing the same gray clothes as before, but this time I could make out the faint silhouette of the handle of a handgun.
“She can’t come with us, not now at least.”
“What do you mean not yet! Of course she is, or I’m not.”
“Ugh! I don’t have time for this!” He yelled in frustration as he grabbed my arm. The second his fingers touched my arm, he jumped back like I shocked him. Staring at me for a minute, his eyes softened to look like the melted chocolate I admired before. I’m not even sure I saw it though, because the next thing I know, he’s grabbed my arm again with hardened eyes and stomped off. Nathan was so strong I had no choice but to go with him. As we walked, I still threw furious frustrations at him, only to make him tighten his grip on my arm with every word. We walked for a long time before my arm fell asleep from his grip and I knew I had to stop before my arm fell off.
We surfaced from the woods and came to an empty parking lot with only a few cars in there—most of them were empty, but one had a couple of teenagers in the backseat. I quickly moved my glance to the other wolves, who had also followed Nathan and I, but there was still nobody there. I scanned over the trees again before I caught sight of the same man who had threatened me yesterday about ‘staying away’.
“Nathan,” I breathed.
“Ghal! That’s it! Do you ever shut-up?!” He yelled in frustration. He looked at me and followed my gaze. His body tensed as he pushed me towards one of the slick, black cars. “Go.” He said coldly. He didn’t have to tell me twice. I was off and I could hear his feet slapping the concrete behind me. I didn’t have to turn around to know our pursuer was not far behind us.
I was panting as we reached the Porsche and the door unlocked as I rounded the passenger side. I turned and looked at where Nathan and our little follower was. I wish I wouldn’t have. I turned just in time to see Nathan pop a bullet into the man’s shoulder and he stopped running to collapse on the parking lot floor. Nathan didn’t give another thought as to what he just did. He ran over to my side to push me into the passenger seat then hopped onto his own side and shoved his key in the ignition. It happened so quickly I didn’t know what to do about it.
We were a good fifteen minutes of speeding down the street before I was able to speak. “You shot someone.”
“Yeah? So? He would have killed us if we didn’t stop him first.”
“You could have killed a man.” I muttered, the only thing able to come to my mind.
“But I didn’t.”
“How do you know?” I asked blandly.
“Because I do. Trust me.” Was all he said.
“Trust you?! You just shot a man! What makes you think I can trust you?!” I was hysterically yelling at him now he couldn’t suffocate my arm.
“Because you have no choice right now.”
“There’s always a choice.” I grumbled under my breath and was surprised when he snorted at my comment.
We sat in silence for another few minutes before I couldn’t stand not having answers anymore. “Where are we going?” I asked him.
He didn’t answer, but picked up his phone and scanned through it a bit before pushing the call button, one hand laying on the steering wheel lazily. He didn’t have to wait long before I heard a low hello from the other line. “It’s me.” Was all he had to say before explaining the previous event. I heard a series of ’yes sir’ before the phone clicked shut and Nathan swerved off the road and onto the highway east.
“Are you going to answer my question or not?”
“Just sit back and enjoy the ride. I know where we’re going, so don’t worry.”
Oh, yeah, just sit back and relax like someone didn’t just try to kill us, I thought to myself. Instead of speaking, I just folded my arms across my chest and stared ahead, as splotches started darkening the road. I decided my best option was to watch the nature swinging around us.
Waving in the storm, the trees were pretty, their scarlet branches flickering like flames. Raindrops on the windshield were like magnifying glasses, creating dollops of color. As we drove, the trees began to press in thick and close on one side of the road, branches arching overhead. The other side was a wall of tall tremulous rocks. The road itself was steep. Suddenly, my eye lids felt heavy. All this stress was making my tired and I felt head begin to bob as I dozed in and out.
I must have finally fallen asleep, because the next thing I know, we pass a sign that says ‘Welcome to Colorful Colorado’ in big bold letters on what looked like a piece of textured wood as the background.
“This is your idea of safe. Colorado. In case you haven’t noticed, this place it pretty hilly.”
“Yeah, so?” He answered with annoyance laced in his words.
“Well, first of all, you’re in a really nice car that could hardly get up there, just one storm can make the roads dangerous because nobody in this state can drive, and once a storm does start, it never stops. And to add to that, we will be in the middle of nowhere with nothing by trees and dirt for company. Is that the point?” I don’t know why I was being so rude, but something about Nathan just irritated me.
“Well, I wanted to take you to where your friend will be for when she’s ready, but if you insist,” he drenched each word with annoyance and sarcasm as he grabbed from under the wheel and pulled it to the left, spinning us in a rapid U-turn.
“No! I mean, Colorado’s fine.” I sucked on my lip so I wouldn’t say something else I’d regret.
Nathan turned the car back around and peeked a few glances at me. “We decided to enroll you into school that way you can get back to a semi-normal schedule. Besides, you’re only a junior and you need to get in your education.”
I ignored Nathan’s words as something dawned on me. “How long have we been driving?”
Nathan seemed annoyed with me, but answered my question anyway. “About eight hours.”
My jaw dropped. Before I could ask, Nathan jumped on my question. “When you get healed by Trysten, it takes a lot of energy, making you sleep a lot more than usual.”
I sat back to try to comprehend what is going on in my life. Just yesterday, my biggest concern was making sure I would pass Miss Kirkpatrick’s class. Now, I’m with a renegade group being hunted by others like them.
I didn’t want to ask this question, but it was starting to hurt my tongue from withholding it. “Will I ever have my normal life back?”
I could tell he heard my question by the way his shoulders tensed and looked at me, but he didn’t answer. He just turned back to the road and looked dead ahead, ignoring my question.
I didn’t try to push him; I understood the answer because I knew what the silence meant. I could never have my life back. My school, future, home. Everything was left behind at this point.