“Then who was it?”
Without another word, Nathan stormed out of my room, coming back a few seconds later with his phone clenched in his enormous hand so hard, I thought it might break. My body was visibly shaking, but he either didn’t notice or didn’t care, because he was talking on the phone, almost yelling. I didn’t even try to pay attention to the words he was shouting into the phone.
The door swung open and a familiar gorgeous body sauntered in. “What on earth are you two doing in here? I can’t sleep with all this racket,” Hyene sleepily droned, complaining and obviously wanting us to shut-up so she could get back to bed.
Nathan pulled his phone away from his face for only a second. “I think the Keepers found us. Well, Claire, somehow,” without a second wasted, he yanked the phone back down to his mouth and kept talking.
Hyene’s jaw dropped and eyes widened. Well, she was awake. The quickness of her speed to Nathan made me queasy, but then I just blamed my shocked state for making things up. Or maybe that was another Werewolf ability? Whatever it was, it was over. “You speaking to Stephan? What does he think?”
Nathan put his back to her and kept talking into the phone. She dismissed his rude attitude and turned to me. “Elana, why don’t you go take a shower and get cleaned up, we will take care of this.”
I nodded numbly and sulked to the shower, Hyene following me to make sure I made it there, as if I would trip and accidentally kill myself on the way there. Actually, that was a possibility.
I stepped into the bathroom and Hyene waited out as I closed the door, offering her a small, reassuring smile. She returned the same smile as I closed the door all the way and locked it. Sitting on the counter by the sink was a pair of sweats and a simple blue T-shirt. I reached to the side and turned the shower knob, waiting for the water to get hot before I stripped down and stepped into the lukewarm water. The pleasant drops hit my back in a hypnotizing matter, massaging my tense muscles. I didn’t dare look down at the water for fear of how black it would be.
I found some shampoo and conditioner on the shelf and squeezed each one in my hand. Nathan.
I’m not obsessing, the hair moisturizer had Nathan’s smell all over it. The watermelon scent filled the bathroom as I squeezed just a little into my hand.
I quickly forced my brain to stop thinking of him and finish up quickly. Sure, he seemed perfect . . . besides his bi-polar attitude . . . but did that really qualify him enough for me to think about him this much?
I finished up quickly, needing a distraction from the perfect man that I’ve discovered earlier today. Or yesterday? What time is it?
Everything in this house was expensive and the definition of perfection—including the towels. The soft plush cloth wrapped my body like clouds, that alone almost making me fall asleep. I regretfully dropped it, knowing I wouldn’t actually be able to fall asleep without knowing what is going on.
When I stepped back into the hallway, the lights were bursting through the dark like a knife—sharp and direct. A single set of flip flops and a light jacket lay right outside the bathroom, and I quickly slipped them on. The flip-flops were a little big on me and the jacket a bit too small, but it did the job. A buzzing noise was coming from downstairs, filling the halls with noise. Some voices were muffled, some just speaking, others yelling. Taking a step towards the stairs to find out what was wrong, I started making out familiar voices. Hyene, Stephan, and even Nathan. Yet, there were still others that were unfamiliar to me.
My foot hit the tile on the foyer lightly and I slowly made my way to where the noise was coming from. At first I thought it was coming from the family room behind the foyer, but then I realized it was coming from the kitchen. Making my steps light again, I scampered to the kitchen.
Everybody from yesterday, and a few more, were gathered around the table, some siting, some standing. The only people not there from yesterday was Claire and Trysten. A beautiful short woman with midnight straight hair and a slim figure brought mugs and passed them around the table. When each placement had a mug, she started pouring some hot, dark liquid into the mugs. Probably coffee.
Hyene turned around to see me then elbowed Nathan, who was standing next to her, speaking at the moment. He followed her line of sight until it rested upon me, then stopped speaking all together. But not just him, everybody stopped and it was dead silent.
I awkwardly rocked on the balls of my feet and wringed my hands in front of me. Did I interrupt something? Should I turn around and go back upstairs?
Sensing my uncomfortable feelings, the lady pouring the beverage put the pot down. “Hello, Dear. How are you this morning?” She got closer and closer with every word until she was right in front of me. I thought I heard a growl from the distance, but I just shook it off as being so on edge.
“Umm, I’m fine. What’s going on?” By now, all eyes were on me, even Stephan’s.
“Oh, nothing. Just a little bit of planning. Come, dear, take a seat.”
That wasn’t a suggestion, that was an order. She lightly grabbed my hand and pulled me over to the table, sitting me two from the head, Nathan and Hyene standing on either side of me. Nathan stared at my hand in the Woman’s and his posture tightened. When she let go, his shoulders relaxed a little. He quickly grabbed the chair next to mine and sat. Stephan was at the head of the table, and most people on the other side I recognized from outside the school.
Now that I was seated, everyone else grabbed a chair. But not before a couple of them exchanged a look. Hyene pulled out a chair and sat on my left. Across from me, there was the man with dark skin and another man with red hair on his right. The beautiful woman pouring drinks continued her work then took a spot at the end of the table.
“Elana, how are you feeling this morning?” The man at the head of the table questioned.
Not sure if it’s genuine concern, I mumble, “Fine . . . thanks.”
Reaching to my own mug, I took a sip. Hot chocolate.
“So I suppose you have questions. Well, we’re here to answer them. Shoot away.”
Everyone seemed to lean in closer to see what I was going to say. “Well, um, what can you guys do, what do you guys do, what’s happening to my best friend . . . should I continue?” I tried to sound polite, but it came out a little bitter.
Stephan stared at me at first, then looked at Nathan and took a deep breath. “Well, we are Shape Shifters. You guys probably know us as Werewolves, but we prefer the term Shape Shifters. That’s because there are certain packs that can change into a different animal. We can shift anytime, but it is especially easiest when the moon is fullest.”
“So, although you’re not a werewolf, the moon does affect you?”
Stephan nods. “To some degree. The urban legend came up a while ago, but they never knew we can transform into other animals. We’re not as much as effected by the moon as much as you think, but the fuller the moon, the more powerful our abilities become.”
Another nod. “Well, as wolves we can see, run, smell, and hunt better, especially when the moon is full, but we also have other abilities.”
“What kind of ability?”
Stephan let out a tight breath this time. “Anything, really. It depends on your origin. You see, hundreds of years ago, there was a powerful witch that was hunted by vampires. In order to protect herself, she befriended a wolf pack and gave the wolves different abilities. Some had elements, tracking specialties, body manipulating, etc. However, after she was killed, the pack separated and the abilities scattered. Now, your abilities depend on which bloodline you came from. If the first ability a shape shifter develops is weak, there is usually a second or sometimes third one, but if the first is strong, there will only be one.”
“What do you do with these abilities?”
“We do what we need to. The animal side of us require some things while the human side of us require other things. Some of the animal needs being hunting, fighting, and tracking others.”
“So why did you take Claire and I?”
“We have reason to believe that Claire is a Shape Shifter, and we came to train her.”
My mouth felt like cotton balls. “Umm, sorry to disappoint you, but I think there is some mistake. There is no way Claire is a—,” the word kept getting stuck in my throat, but I forced myself to say it, “Shape Shifter.”
“Claire was adopted, correct?”
“Yeah . . .” How did he know?
“Well, her biological parents were Shape Shifters, but thought they were unfit to have a child, so they put her up for adoption.”
“They put a Werewolf up for adoption?” My question sounded sarcastic, but it was genuine.
Stephan let a low growl out, and Nathan growled back next to me. “Shape Shifters, and yes. You see, Claire’s biological mother had the ability of healing. She thought they were able to take out the gene, but all it did was delay the process and make her ability stronger. We didn’t find her until recently when one of my pack members was in the area and sniffed out her sent.”
“So, she spontaneously set the school on fire just as you guys happened to show up?”
Stephan frowned, obviously still not too keen with my continuous sarcasm. “Something like that. When we approached her, everything was too hard to take in and her emotions let loose the fire from within her.”
“How did you guys change my dream?”
Stephan twisted his head to the side slightly in confusion. Stephan looked around, but everyone was just as confused as he was. “What do you mean?”
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, suddenly aware I was about to share something so personal about my life. “Nothing,” I opted instead. “Where is Claire now and why can’t I see her?”
“Claire is undergoing her first transformation at the next full moon, and she needs to be kept away from you because she can hurt you.”
“Claire would never—”
Stephan raised his hand and cut me off. “While in the first stage, a wolf loses almost all human memories, except the smell of the ones they love. They pick up their scent, so they will go after them first. That is also their strongest transformation, so we don’t know if we can stop her. Especially because her Shifter gene is coming out later in her life. Most wolves get their first transformation around age eight, but Claire’s circumstances are different.”
I marveled at this phenomenon, trying to grasp it. “Then why did you bring me here?”
“We were going to bring you to a friend’s in New Mexico,” he pointingly looked at Nathan, but Nathan held his strong posture. “But our plans were changed and we brought you to our main home. Claire is not too far away, but far enough that she should now be able to change and not pick up your scent.”
I nodded and looked at my hands, trying to figure out all of this new information.
“Of course, we do have a Mind Manipulator with us, and our first plan was use him. But, of course, that couldn’t work on you, so the next plan was to take you somewhere safe.”
My mind froze all its current problems. “What? Why wouldn’t it work on me?”
Nathan grumbled something under his breath that caught everyone’s attention, but then Stephan dismissed him and spoke up. “Because you’re a Foreseer.” Stephan spoke it as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
That word rang a bell. They called me that yesterday. “What is that?”
The attention went from Nathan to me in less than a second, eyes as wide as an owl’s. Is it not normal to know what that is?
“They never told you?”
An awkward silence rang through the room. “Who never told me what?”
If even possible, the silence seemed to thicken. “Where is your mother?”
He has no right! “Excuse me?”
Nathan gave another low grumble, but this time I heard the warning he gave his leader, “Don’t.”
He ignored him again. “Your mother. Where is she?
“Well, if you must know, she left us a couple of years ago. It’s just my brothers, sister, and father now.”
Everyone’s eyes seemed to get bigger, if that was even possible. Their eyes slowly tore from me as they whispered amongst themselves. That was wrong with these people? Sure, it’s sad, but not impossible.
“Your sister, how old is she?”
I hesitated before answering. “Why?”
“Just answer the question, honey.” The sweet lady who was pouring the drinks peeped up.
“Her and my brother are both five. Why?” I pressed again.
Everybody seemed to relax a little bit at my answer, “Answer me and tell me why.” I demanded.
Stephan’s face twisted in anger, but Nathan stared him back down. Taking a deep breath, he explained, “The foreseer gene only comes from the same gender as the parent. Because your mother was a foreseer, that means the females in your family would also get the foreseer gene, a little less strength as the parent. However, because your sister and brother are twins, the male gene in the womb killed any chance of your younger sister of having the same gene as you and your mother share.”
I didn’t say anything to his explanation. I couldn’t. How can someone just believe that they were some sort of ‘foreseer’? And their sister could have been one?
Stephan must have interpreted my silence as a hint to keep going, so he continued. “Foreseers are the heart of the supernatural world. The most powerful. Not only can they see the future, but they can read minds, make others hallucinate, uphold telekinesis, and some can even make predictions. Depending on what your mother had, that determines what ability you will have. The stronger the mother, the stronger the child.”
I can do what?! Suddenly finding the lack of Oxygen in the room, I stood and went straight for the sliding door. Before I even got there, though, Nathan was standing in front of me.
“You can’t go out there.” He warned, his voice getting so dark it almost stopped me from speaking. His hand was palm out and inching towards me, as if gesturing he understood my suffering and wanted to help.
“I need some air,” I rebuked, before shoving his shoulder to shoo him aside. Only he didn’t move. Like stone, he didn’t even lean over.
“Nathan, just go with her. After all this, I’m sure she needs some space to think it through.” The woman at the foot at the table suggested.
Nathan’s body moved slightly from the door. “And she wouldn’t need to go outside if Stephan would have listened to me in the first place! Now she can not only put herself in danger, but us as well.”
Faster than my mind can even process, Stephan jumped from his chair and got right in Nathan’s face. The hatred and detestation radiating from his so strongly, I thought he was going to hit him. He tried to speak through clenched teeth, but it was hard to understand him from the disapproval in his tone. “You question me? I am the leader of this pack. I don’t care if you are my son or not, nobody will speak poorly of me!”
Right away, Nathan bowed his head in shame and moved so he was more directly in this “pack leader’s” path. “Yes, sir. My apologizes.”
I took this opportunity and slipped behind the virile man still slightly blocking my way. Barely tugging on the handle, the door slid gracefully open and I was able to squeeze myself out the door and into the pouring rain, wrapping itself in a thick layer of fog.
I push the hair from my face and race blindly through the fog, hoping to locate some sort of a trail so I can get away without nearly killing myself. I hear someone behind me and I push myself harder to run faster. My lungs threatened to explode in my chest, as my flip-flops break and abandon my feet, but I still run. Running as the sharp, unadorned branches snatch at my jacket and rip it right off me. Running for my life, even if I don’t know it’s probably not necessary.
The cold rock under me bit into my rear and thighs. Without my jacket, I was pretty sure my arms would freeze off my body, and my feet felt numb from the cold and needles that were eating away at them. However, that was nothing compared to the confusion and emptiness circling inside me.
I had to have been out here for a few hours; the rain letting up about an hour or two ago. Still, although I was the most drenched I have ever been in my entire life, and knew I could get pneumonia or hypothermia or something, I had no urge to go back to that house full of Werewolves, or Shape Shifters, or whatever they call themselves.
I didn’t even know what to say when I got back there. ‘Hey, sorry, but I just had to abandon you and run away like a two-year-old because I have mommy issues.’
Yeah, they would probably ship me off to the New Mexico house if I said anything close to that. The truth is, I don’t know why my mother could not at least warn me instead of just leaving and having me deal with this all at once with some strangers that abducted me and my best friend at the scene of some fire my best friend just happened to set.
Maybe she thought I wasn’t worth it. She didn’t need my drama along with her own. Now that I look at that, I don’t blame her. I know I am probably the worst person to have around, and if she didn’t really care about us, I didn’t want her here.
But then again, I just lied to myself. I did want her here, loving or not.
Tears came flooding out of my eyes again, but I didn’t try to hold them in anymore, just let them flow freely down my face. All the events and the stress of my new life was starting to catch up to me and I allowed all the tears that wanted to escape flow freely down my cheeks.
I continued beating myself up when I heard footsteps in the pine needles coming towards me and decided to push the pause button on my self-loathing. I didn’t turn around to see who it was, though. I can’t. If it was someone from our group, I know I wouldn’t be able to face them yet. And if it’s a stranger, I definitely do not want them seeing me like this.
“Elana?” A British accent made my name sound exotic as it rolled off her tongue,
I still didn’t turn around, just studied the trees in front of me. “How did you find me?”
I heard her take a few more steps towards me and realized how close she really is. “How are you doing?”
Dodging a question with a question. Not knowing how to answer her question, I stayed silent. To be honest, I didn’t understand how I was doing.
Sighing, Hyene took a seat by me on my rock. “Look, I know how it feels to be abandoned. I was in your place, and I want you to know that we are all here just to help you.”
I looked over to my right, studying her face in confusion. She was where I am?
“I don’t tell a lot of people this, but my mum is an alcoholic,” she started. “Well, what I know of my mum, that is. She had never made the right choices. She was a foreseer, like you are, but her father passed away when she was a teenager and she just gave her life to a bottle.
“One day, she found out she was pregnant and didn’t know what to do. She knew she didn’t want to take care of me, and when she found out I was half Shape Shifter, she freaked and gave me away. She didn’t care to whom, so she just handed me off to the first man who wanted me. A man named Dr. Jackson.”
That name. Nathan said it before.
I looked back at my feet as she continued. “He had never heard of a half breed before, yet alone between a foreseer and a Shape Shifter. So, he did what he does best. He experimented on me.” I turned my head to look at Hyene again, her eyes glossed over from the recollection.
Hyene’s hand slowly went to the bottom of her shirt and she lifted the left side up, revealing numerous scars, criss-crossing and intertwining as they pleased. I think there were more scars than skin on her side. And that’s just one part of her body. “They pushed me to my limits, forcing me to shift at a young age, and use my ability for whatever they wanted to use it for. And once I couldn’t go any farther, they put me in a cement box for a night, then they would take me out and use me again.” Hyene released her hand from her shirt and it fell back into place, hiding the past she desperately wanted to forget.
“I was there for ten years when Stephan found me. Although he didn’t know me, he did all he could to help me break free. Once I was out, I asked to go see my biological mum, only to find she hasn’t changed; she didn’t care about what happened to me.”
I heard Hyene sniffle as a lone tear fell down her cheek. “That’s when I decided to stay with Stephan, and he treated me like his own. Showed me how to use my ability for the better and showed me the love I never thought I would be able to find.”
I didn’t realize I was crying until I felt a tear drop from my eye. Here she was, pouring out her heart, while I had nothing to compare even the slightest to. “Why are you telling me this?” I asked, hardly getting the words out in a whisper, the tears still choking my words.
Hyene faced me and looked directly in my eyes. “Because I want you to know that, even though you left your old life behind, there is always something to look forward to here. We all want to help you guys, and let you join the family, if you want to in the end.”
Her comfort emanated to my heart and I felt my own troubles go away.
I would try. I need to. It’s not like I will never see my own family again, I will be able to go back. Someday. “Thank you,” I whispered.
Hyene shot me a small smile and stood. “Well, we best be getting back.”
I smiled softly back and stood, only to remember I lost my flip-flops while running out here. “Umm, I kinda . . .”
I didn’t need to finish my sentence before Hyene grabbed a pair of tennis shoes from behind the rocks with some socks in the heels and thrust them in my direction.
“How—” she cut me off.
“My ability is mind reading. It’s how I knew where you were and what you needed.”
My mind spun. She did what?!
Before I could press her, she continued. “It’s alright, I can turn it on and off when I want, so I’m not always reading your mind. I use it only in emergencies.”
I thought about it. “That must be pretty nice.”
Hyene shrugged as I sat on the rock to put the shoes on my still numb feet. “It has its quirks,” she said, humbled. “But it’s better than other things.”
“What do you mean?” I curiously asked, tying my right shoe laces.
“Well, for starters, I can only shift when there is a full moon or it’s really close. Maybe they should call me a Werewolf.” She laughed out loud at her own joke, and I laughed along, not knowing if it was actually funny.
I slipped on my left shoe and tugged at the strings. “Because you read minds, you can only turn into a wolf?” I thought they had abilities and transformation.
“Well, because my mum is a foreseer and my dad is a Shape Shifter, I got half of each gene. The half that shifts, and the half that reads.”
I felt the wheels turning as I tried to process this. “So can I read minds?”
Hyene shrugged her shoulders as my cold fingers finished my knot, and we were off. “I don’t know, actually. Most foreseers can’t read minds, but we think it just blended with my Shape Shifter ability.”
That made sense, I thought to myself. I wondered what kind of other things I will be able to do as time passes.
We didn’t speak very much on the way back, which was farther than I originally thought. Being myself, I found logs and rocks catching my foot and throwing me to and fro. Hyene caught me every time before I landed face first, though. She said I would get used to it, but I knew it would take years for me to actually ‘get used to it’.
After a while, I saw a flash of red brick up ahead and sighed in relief from the wonderful sight of my temporary home. I didn’t see my jacket or flip-flops on the way back, so we either took another route, or somebody already found them.
“I’m gonna go run and get you a jacket. You go ahead inside and settle on the couch in the family room. There is still more to discuss. That is if you’re still up to it?”
I shrugged. I’ve already got my little tantrum out. Hyene lightly nudged my arm as she took off inside. I didn’t realize just how cold I was until she mentioned it. Shivering, I grabbed my arms and looked down to find goosebumps all over me, but I wasn’t able to feel them due to an overwhelming numbness covering my body,
I stepped in the sliding door I fled from this morning, leading to the kitchen, and found nobody in there anymore. The table was cleaned off and all the counters wiped down, with the dishes done. How long was I gone?
I looked at the stone clock. 10:28. I didn’t know when I woke up, but I knew it was closer to 7, based on the sun. I was out there for three hours? I asked myself in disbelief. It is a miracle I didn’t lose a toe.
Stepping into the kitchen, I realized my shoes were the filthiest I have ever seen from trekking through the mud and manure lining the forest ground. Stepping back outside, I pulled off my shoes, barely able to move my fingers due to the numbness and walked back into the kitchen.
Some more commotion was coming from outside the room, so I slowly inched forward, my miraculously dry socks tempting me to slip on the smooth tile. Reaching the doorway, I peeked back into the foyer to the right of the stairs. The open arch leading to the family room was dancing with shadows and light, noise filling the foyer effortlessly.
My constant shaking propelled me forward, the motivation of a warm blanket moving me along the tiled foyer.
The family room was, by far, the largest room in the house. That I have seen. About two times the kitchen and dining room together, the room was filled with several large windows, followed by another sliding door, letting the natural light in. The dark, plush carpet spread across the whole floor with a light cream displayed on all the walls.
In the middle of the room, there was a large leather brown couch combo, escorted with a few bean bags finishing a horseshoe shape. Another long leather sofa was against the wall across from the windows, giving the perfect view of the forest. On either side of this luxurious lounge were two chairs, white this time, with some red design on the seat and back.
A glass coffee table stood proudly in the center of all the couches, resting on a simple white rug. On the backside of the couch combo were numerous chairs and a small, round table surrounded by more wood chairs, looking to be the same shade from the kitchen.
Above the single sofa, there was a sketch of a wolf, mystic and gallant. The pride and honor shone from the posture and elegance radiated in the gracefulness of the lines. I took a few steps forward, inching to the picture, only to find all the lines were made up of a great deal of different names.
I didn’t realize the speaking had ceased until then; all the people from earlier sitting on the luxurious furniture and staring at me. Probably watching to see if I would bolt again. I had a serious case of deja vu.
“Here, I found a blanket in the hall closet, it should warm you up right away,” Hyene boasted, rushing in the doorway and throwing the heavy blanket over my shoulders and wrapping in front of me.
Backing up from me and turning around, she overlooked everybody gathered around, then grabbed my hand and dragged me to the section of the lounge combo that was empty. Not letting go of my hand, she sat beside me and looked around for further guidance.
Stephan, who was sitting in the love seat across from us with the black-haired lady from the kitchen earlier, started off. “I’m sorry if we brought this on you too soon, I understand this is a shock to you. And I apologize again for my rude manners. I realize you have not met everybody here. My name is Stephan, and this is my wife, Lydia. She is also a Shifter.” Upon her introduction, Lydia offered a small wave as the introductions continued.
Pointing to the boy in the beanbag next to him, he introduced, “This is Blake, also a Shifter.” A curly red-headed boy, maybe a year younger than me, beamed at his title, his green eyes gleaming with excitement.
“The young man at the end of the couch here is Junto, also a Shifter,” Stephan continued as I moved my focus to the end of the couch under the wolf sketch. He had dark, almost black eyes, and dark brown curly hair and a deep brown skin color. And man was the right word for him, being a little shorter but more masculine than Nathan. But not by much. He smiled a friendly smile and nodded slightly in my direction.
Sitting next to Junto was Nathan, not looking anywhere but at me. His melting eyes captivated my breath again, his face gentle. He looked as attractive as ever, dressed in a tight black T-shirt, showing his well-defined muscles. His tousled hair was messed up perfectly, accenting his well-defined jaw perfectly.
When he caught me looking at him, his face hardened and he looked away, as if it was the wrong thing for me to do. “I guess you already know Nathan,” Stephan said, but his voice sounded far away as I stared at this Greek god. I don’t like him. He is a jerk.
“And sitting next to you is Spencer, he is a Mind Manipulator.” Stephan continued and I finally forced my eyes away from Nathan’s. Spencer was the only person I had not seen yet in this group. He looked to be maybe in his mid-twenties. He was dressed head-to-toe in black, his leather jacket being the first thing I noticed. He had some snake-bites on his bottom lip and a tattoo snaking its way up his neck. He was lounged in a way that told everybody he was ‘king of the couch’. Giving me a slight nod, he acknowledged me, then went back to looking at his leader.
“What is a Mind Manipulator?” I asked in all curiosity.
Stephan seemed irritated to be disrupted, but answered my question. “They have the ability to make someone hallucinate, erase minds, and even the strongest ones can make you do something you don’t want to do. They are a lot like foreseers, despite the fact their abilities don’t work on other supernatural creatures.”
I nodded slightly, indicating I was somewhat okay. I would have a while to digest this all, apparently.