I must have slept for quite a while, because the next time I opened my eyes, we were already on a windy road up the mountain. However, I was more uncomfortable than when I fell asleep. I looked down to find myself lying on an old torn quilted seat. Confused, I sat up and noticed I was in the back seat of an old pickup truck.
“Finally. I thought you would never wake up,” Nathan startled me. He must have heard me rustling around. I glanced to the driver’s seat to look at him and noticed it was dark outside. The nearly-full moon accented his features, highlighting his sharp features. His jawline was defined and his high cheekbones were accented. The moon made his dark hair take on a blue hint and his eyes looked dark and focused as he winded up the endless mountain. I silently cursed myself for being so attracted to this jerk.
“How long have I been asleep?”
“Long enough to get a new car.”
“It doesn’t look very new,” I sarcastically remarked back at him.
He didn’t respond, just stared ahead at the road.
“So, how long until we get there?”
“Another hour or so.”
“How can you tell? Is there some kind of Werewolf ability for that?”
“No, it’s just called a map. And, we’re Shape Shifters.”
“Oh,” I felt so stupid I just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide in a corner. But, instead, I pushed for answers. “What can you do?”
“Breath, eat, talk—just like you.”
“No, really, don’t you guys have abilities? I saw Claire shoot fire out of her hand. Isn’t that something a witch would do?”
Nathan’s hands clenched the wheel so hard now his knuckles were white. “I liked you better when you were asleep,” He grumbled.
I let the truck fall into a silence that seemed to be so full of tension, I thought I could cut it with a knife. I don’t understand what his problem is with me, but I decided I just wouldn’t talk to him if he was going to treat me like this.
“What would’ve happened?” He shot at me.
“What would’ve happened if you didn’t go in there for the girl?”
I scoffed at his rude attitude, “Well, first of all, that ‘girl’ has a name. It’s Claire. Second of all, why do you care?”
He didn’t seem fathomed by my snarky remark, “You would have died, ha? You dreamed of her dying and decided to go in there to change fate,” when I didn’t respond, he pushed farther, “I’m right, aren’t I?”
“Why do you care? I can already tell you hate me, so I don’t see why I have to tell you anything.”
He must be deaf. “Well, that was very stupid of you. Now you’re in this mess you will never get out of. Just because you had to help one person and get killed in the meantime. Do you realize how rare you are?”
“Seriously? Obviously, you haven’t had anybody you care about because then you would understand. And once again, you don’t even like me, so why do you care?”
I thought I heard him grumble something like, ‘you have no idea’, under his breath, but I wasn’t sure because the rumbling of the truck was louder than his voice.
He didn’t make another attempt to start another conversation, so I just sat back and stared out the window. It was so beautiful here. Trees enveloped most of the ground and each one had different colored leaves. The more we drove the more light snow we saw that sprinkled the mountains around us.
I was so engulfed in the beauty of this state I didn’t notice when Nathan stopped the truck. I did notice, however, when he slammed the door and rounded to the back. I craned my hand around the front seat from where I was sitting to pull the lever and moved the seat forward and crawled slowly out of the back. Unfortunately, I didn’t watch my footing as the seat caught my foot. As I squeezed my eyes shut, I realized how much this was going to hurt because of all the pine needles and unkept wilderness.
However, the ground never reached my face. I slowly opened my eyes to find myself in strong arms instead. I followed these beefy arms and found Nathan looking at me with a different look in his eye. Worry maybe? At first I thought it was, but there is no way. The only other thing it could be is adoration, but I knew that was definitely not it.
When he noticed I was trying to read his handsome face, he changed it back to stone and plopped me on my butt as he stood and coldly smirked, “Watch out. This is not the place to be clumsy.”
I sat there for a second in utter shock. What just happened? How did he get to me so fast? He was just at the back of the truck.
The hike up was much harder than I expected. Roots and rocks kept reaching out to trip me. Even though I go on runs all the time, I’m not used to this terrain, and the darkness did not help me at all. The dead branches and bushes kept cutting my legs and bruises kept marking where I’d fallen so many times. I didn’t dare look back, because I knew Nathan would just be there to judge me and tell me how clumsy I was.
He wasn’t kidding. It felt like we were hiking for hours before I was finally able to see a structure. I don’t know how it could stay so hidden because this building was huge. Red brick containing two stories, at least that I can see. Its light shingles gave it a new appearance, though it had to be at least a hundred years old, based on the mount of ivy snaking around the strong structure. The building itself seemed well taken care of, which surprised me, because I highly doubted Werewolves, or Shape Shifters, or whatever they call themselves, would worry about such a mundane task.
There was a beautiful garden in the center of a large, round driveway. There were various plants and flowers that bloomed from the dirt, bright even in the fall. The trees that were visible around the house were trimmed and well cared for, even though the leaves were starting to change color and fall off.
I didn’t realize I’d stopped until I felt a nudge behind me as an annoyed Nathan pushed me onto the unused gravel driveway. I looked closer at the landscaping, noticing the complete absence of weeds and miscellaneous twigs. The front porch was even tidy, not a leaf or speck of dirt on its surface, abnormal for the fall time. It seemed like a shame such a beautiful house was hidden from the world.
I went to knock on the heavy mid-evil door when Nathan stepped up from behind me and nudged the massive door to swing open, his earthly scent lined with watermelon engulfing me. I quickly stepped away from him, trying to keep my focus and not get lost in him again.
I opened my eyes to see the inside even better taken care of. If that was at all possible. The door opened to a spotless foyer, the light tiles and dark walls contradicting each other perfectly. In the middle of the foyer, there was a mark on the ground, a mixture of a moon and a wolf-like creature. Right above the tiles was a large crystal-like chandelier, shimmering in the light and making the place that much brighter.
To the left of the foyer, there was a big oak door and a staircase leading upstairs, followed by a cat-walk overlooking the foyer, a few doors along the way. Then the hallway disappearing further, leaving the foyer and venturing to another part of the house. To the right of the entrance, there was an open doorway, but the awkward angle I saw it at gave me no advantage to what it was.
Stepping forward slowly, afraid of getting dirt in this spotless house, I tip-toed toward the empty door frame. The kitchen was clearly more expensive than the whole house put together. All the appliances were stainless steel and the counters a deep granite I had never seen outside of magazines. There was a matching island in the middle, styling the same granite. The whole kitchen was bigger than my kitchen and living room put together.
Stepping further into the kitchen, I looked to the left to find a large dining room. Tall, large shining windows stood around a table, as if on guard, and I noticed one of the glass panels at the head of the table was a sliding glass door. Each of the windows had some large drapes pulled to the side, letting the moonlight from outside encase the large room. The table looked as if it could fit an army, and it alone looked like it was valued at more than my life. Despite it’s size, the set only had a total of nine chairs set around it, with one at the head and one at the foot.
Crash! A shattering noise came and filled the air within the matter of seconds. I looked back, but only saw Nathan’s arm disappearing through the door frame as he fled the kitchen to find the source. Scurrying to keep up, I followed him back out to the perfect entrance, tailing him up the stairs. The door at the top of the stairs was adjacent, leaving only a sliver for us to see through it. Nathan stuck out his arm, and placed a finger over his lips with his free hand. Reaching slowly towards his back, his hand disappeared under his shirt, coming back out with a gun.
My mind shrieked in horror, all of a sudden questioning how much I trusted the stranger before me. I know he just used it to help us escape, but who says he’s not trigger-happy? I stood gaping at the armed man, mouth opening and closing like a fish. One hand pulled the top of the gun, cocking it for an attack. The other hand left his mouth and snaked to the door and gave it a light shove, exposing enough light for only him. Jumping inside the room, Nathan plunged the gun out in front of him, looking for anyone to shoot. Everything seemed to slow down as my heart pumped in my head louder than the gunshot would be.