The look of firm resolve upon the face of the man impaled to the mahogany cross held my eyes captive. With every step I took, I was drawn closer and closer to the idealistic, waxed effigy. Out of all the things my mind could focus on, it could only centralize on his face. I could have listened to the soft flicker of the lit torches attached to the pillars of the arcs, holding this once holy place up. I could have focused on the erratic, pounding of my heart. Or I could have done the most rational thing at the time and allowed myself to be consumed by what was to come. But no, that look on the face of the man once claiming to be the son of God wouldn't release me from whatever spell it had me under.
'I don't understand...' I thought to myself. How could someone believed to be--so pure--so good have ended up like this? The crown of thorns lying atop his head pierced his skin, allowing the realistically modeled blood to trickle down his face. Elongated silver nails buried themselves into the flesh of his wrists and his ankles skewered him into the wood. The realism of the art piece resonated with something inside me making my stomach plummet to the ground. And the irony of the large, colorful, and bright stained glass window being used as his background image didn't help much either.
Now I didn't know much about him, but I knew that he was considered a good human being. And as an unfortunate result of this piece of knowledge, I couldn't understand why this happened to him. I couldn't understand why terrible, awful things happen to some of the most wondrous people on this planet. I mean, was there a reason for these tragedies? Or did just some random crap happen that screws people out of their well deserved happy endings? Because it was more than a coincidence if the loss of good people's happiness became a pattern.
These thoughts began to swirl around in my head. I may have not believed in a higher power, fate or destiny but it would have been nice to believe that there's something that could ensure there's a point to all this misery befalling the righteous. Right?
My inner turmoil was left unresolved as the realization struck that I had reached the end of the long carpeted path. I looked back at the gold-trimmed white trail, realizing that about a minute ago I was just at the beginning. I wasn't alone, the two people I loved the most now stood on either side of me. And the woman I respected yet had come to fear in this particular moment stood before me, along with a seer of many centuries.
"Are you ready to begin Amara?" the woman asked me. Though she spoke softly, I could still hear the power and authority in her voice. Her voice remained at an even tone as her icy blue eyes pierced right through my unusual emerald eyes and into my soul. She radiated with such power and strength, I began to feel intimidated by her mere presence.
"Yes," I could feel my voice slightly shake as I tried to mask my nervousness with a face of bravery. I clenched my jaw and set my eyes forward with a faux look of determination. I had waited for this very moment all my life; the last few weeks had been filled with anticipation. This was my moment, my moment when everything changed, and I became what I've always wanted. But deep down I felt an ache, an ache I knew would eventually throb into something more. Because deep down I knew this wasn't supposed to have been just my moment...
"Then we shall begin," she finally answered, her lips downturned into an almost scowl. I closed my eyes and let out a deep breath. Carefully, I untied the mahogany colored silk robe I wore. It slipped gracefully down my arms falling to the red carpet, exposing my bare body . The cool air greeted me, sending shivers down my spine. My arms were slowly lifted slightly above my waist by the people flanking me on both sides. The intimidating woman descended the stairs, the black hairs on her head swaying to the deep impact of each step towards me.
Once she was within arms-reach of me, she placed both hands on my shoulders. It felt as if the weight of the world was literally on my shoulders. Hers eyes bored into mine as I watched the icy blue gradually fade, a blood red color appearing within the pupils of her eyes.
"Leis an ghealach lán ina ghlóir sa spéir, scaradh mé toilteanach mo shaol atá caite mar mac tíre teorantach sin de na fola an duine laistigh," her voice never wavering as she continued to maintain perfect eye contact.
"Leis an ghealach lán ina ghlóir sa spéir, scaradh mé toilteanach mo shaol atá caite mar mac tíre teorantach sin de na fola an duine laistigh," I repeated. My eyes were solely focused on hers almost entranced. It was if everything else had melted away. There was nothing else there in that moment. Nothing but her voice, her eyes, and the pounding of my heart.
"Glacaim mo ról mar chomhalta den phacáiste threoir ag neart agus vow mé a sheirbheáil dílis faoi mo ceannasach, mo alfa,"her eyes seemed to grow darker and darker with scarlet with every word. Lightning cracked within the atmosphere as the intensity grew within her gaze.
"Glacaim mo ról mar chomhalta den phacáiste threoir ag neart agus vow mé a sheirbheáil dílis faoi mo ceannasach, mo alfa," I mimicked her.
"Sa nóiméad faoi an ghlóir humble na gealaí roghnaigh mé a bheith ar an mac tíre roghnaigh mé a glacadh le mo chinniúint," she said.
"Sa nóiméad faoi an ghlóir humble na gealaí roghnaigh mé a bheith ar an mac tíre roghnaigh mé a glacadh le mo chinniúint," I had barely spoken the words when I felt teeth sink into my inner arms, sending pain to obliterate my senses. I gasped from the agonizing pain throbbing in my arms. Out of the corner of my eyes, right where the tears were trickling, I could see them burrowing their fangs in my skin as the blood flowed in a steady stream.
"Tá mé an mac tíre!" her voice rang through the air, the deep rich clarion sound heard throughout the chapel.
"Tá mé an mac tíre!" I spoke as loud as I could despite the torturous feeling in my arms. I braced myself, only having heard of what would come next. The daunting woman in front of me opened her mouth wide, her sharp, protruding fangs glinting in the dim light.
"Ahhh!" a small, shrill cry escaped past the barrier of my lips. She sunk her teeth into the vulnerable patch of skin between my shoulder and neck. An explosive amount agony spread throughout my body. As my knees began to buckle, succumbing to the pain, I felt something. I felt a total and utter amount of bliss sweep through me. Everything seemed so clear, like my mind and body had finally awakened from a long, deep sleep.
The feeling left as quick as it came as I felt all teeth release their grips on me. I fell to my hands and knees, struggling to catch my breath. As my heavy breathing subsided, nothing but an eerie silence filled the abandoned church. The dancing flames of the torches simultaneously abated in a spine-chilling manner. The only source of light came from the moonlight shining through the huge windows.
Crack! It took me only a second after my ears picked up on the noise to realize it was coming from within. A torturous ache tormented my body as I could feel my bones beginning to crack. An immense pressure seemed to push me from the inside out. It felt like something massive was trying to escape from inside. The pressure only kept building and building and...
"Raaaaaa!" I threw my head back a tremendous roar vibrated inside me, releasing a powerful shock wave into the nighttime sky where the ceiling ceased to be. A silvery light from the sapphire heavens above cascaded down upon me. I was gazing up at heaven's nighttime eye when everything went white.
"Amara, open your eyes, my dear. It is time to see your true form," I awoke to the sound of her voice. I slowly opened my eyes, everything had remained the same, except a mirror had been placed in front of me. I gawked at my reflection, not truly believing this was me. I was staring at a wolf, I--at me. White fur covered my face while black fur rested atop my head and my muzzle. The rest of my body was a clash of black and white fur perfectly balancing themselves out. My eyes were no longer green, they were a pure light blue.
"Congratulations Amara, you are now a Lycan," for the first time throughout the entire encounter, her voice seemed to turn gentle, almost warm as her defenses started to crumble.
'Oh. My. G-
"Amara!" someone's voice breaks into my thoughts.
"W-what?" I jump, turning slightly from my locker to see my best friend Phoenix.
"Honey, do you not realize I was literally calling you for, like, five minutes straight? I sounded like a freaking crazy person screaming down the hall," Phoenix rolls her light brown eyes. I look her up and down, taking in her chosen outfit for today. She wears a tight, plain white t-shirt that stops right above her belly button showing off her proudly pierced navel. A pair of dark denim shorts hug her upper thighs and a pair of white flip flops compliments her shirt. Her signature black, fingerless gloves that reach her elbows completes the outfit. Her dark thick, wavy hair hangs in a ponytail while her caramel bangs adorning her forehead.
"Well now you have my attention along with most of the male student body," I tease her with a slight smirk.
"Well if you got it, flaunt it," Phoenix reasons. I roll my eyes as I continue trying to clear out my locker, knowing only her and a certain other friend of ours would make a comment like that. Phoenix is the definition of a boy's wet dream: the pretty eyes, the beautiful hair, the dimples, and the perfectly tanned skin, stemming from being half-Filipino and half-white. Despite only being 5'4, she has the hourglass figure and C-cups to die for. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to have to constantly guard a friend from the hormonally charged idiots at your school? Let me tell you, it's not fun.
"So, Oreo, would you like to tell me why you were so zoned out?" Phoenix knows she's hitting a nerve with that nickname. Just because I have a black mother and a white father, back in sixth grade some idiot called me "Oreo" and it just stuck, something that Phoenix knew annoyed me to no end. And let's just say that the boy wasn't let off as easily as Phoenix was now. He certainly didn't find it so hilarious when I cracked my knuckles against his jaw.
"Nope," I simply answer. I rather not give Phoenix the satisfaction of knowing what exactly I was thinking about. She playfully begins to rub her jaw as if she's in deep thought.
"Could you be thinking about a major event that may have happened? Y'know a major event that could have happened last night? Maybe under the full mo-"
"Phoenix!" I cut her off. "You know we're not supposed to talk about certain things at school,"
I glance warily around us at the few stragglers heading to class, thankful no one heard her big mouth.
"I totally knew it," she smiles, obviously not getting the point. "So how was it? Was it awkward being naked in front of your parents?"
"Oh my god," I grumble, burying my face in my locker. I really did not want to talk about this right now because it was slightly awkward being completely exposed in front of my parents. Last night was my Awakening, my transformation from a werewolf to a Lycan. It's something extremely sacred that every werewolf goes through the full moon after their 18th birthday. My 18th birthday just so happened to fall on a full moon. It's customary for your parents to attend your Awakening and partake in the bite along with your alpha. Although it's not really necessary for there to be a parental bite, it's just believed since your parents each had a hand in your birth, it's fitting for them to have a hand in your rebirth. But as long as you're bitten by an alpha, your transformation is bound to happen anyway.
I remove my head from the inside of my locker, only to see Phoenix leaning her back against the locker next to mine complaining about God knows what. As I make a pathetic attempt to listen to her rant, my thoughts can't help but return to last night.
'I waited my whole life for this,' I think. Becoming a Lycan is something I've always wanted. The major difference between a Lycan and a werewolf is that as a Lycan, you can shift into a wolf completely. A werewolf remains in a state between human and wolf when you shift. A Lycan, also, has more strength and control than a werewolf. And growing up and having Lycan parents that were seen as these powerful wolves and were respected by all, only made me want to grow up and be just like them. Accomplishing this goal has never changed for me, although many of things have these past couple of years.
"Hey best friends," my other best friend Franchesca approaches us, completing our trio. "How are you beautiful ladies doing?"
"Well I would be doing great if Amara here would get the pole out of her ass and tell us how it went last night," Phoenix continues to complain.
"Omigosh, I totally forgot you're one of us now," Franchesca teases me about being the last one to turn. "You have to tell us, plleeeassse,"
I give her a slight smirk, not letting her pouty face get to me. Franchesca is quite the character, as my mother refers to her. She's the living definition of 'don't judge a book by its cover'. From just a quick glance, she looks like your average 'goth'. Black mascara and eyeshadow decorates her deep brown eyes; her ears are garnished with a dozen piercings along with her eyebrow, tongue, belly button, and nose; and blue streaks highlight her shoulder length black hair. At first glance Franchesca can come off kind of intimidating (it doesn't help she's a freaking tree towering over all of the girls despite being 100% Chinese).
But Franchesca is probably one of the sweetest girls out there, who just so happens to be one hell of a friend. She's just a bubbly girl who happens to love piercings and dark clothes. Today she wears a tight black dress that cuts off just below her butt with the sleeves reaching her elbows.
"Look, I'll tell you guys all about it later, just not here," I finally respond.
"Come on, break the rules for once. Be a bad girl like us," Franchesca smiles wrapping her arms around Phoenix from behind and resting her chin on her shoulder. Franchesca also happens to be a very affectionate person.
"And breaking the rules always works out so well," I grimace. They both knew what I meant and an uncomfortable silence presented itself. A slight tension crackled like lightning in the atmosphere.
"Ama-," Franchesca cuts her own self off as her eyes drift from me. I follow her line of sight to a somewhat good looking guy at his locker. Of course.
"Well, damn," she says, her eyes narrowing, no doubt eyeing him like I would a steak.
"More like hot damn," Phoenix agrees as she gawks at him too now. I squint my eyes at him, taking him in as well. Sure he has the whole tall, dark, and handsome thing going on, but he's not really my type. I don't know, boys just have never been my strong suit. I've only had one major crush but other than that, I'm failing in the whole boys' department.
"He's mine!" Franchesca chirps as he closes his locker. She claps her hands together and bounces on her heels as she stares at him.
"Hey!" Phoenix cuts in, clearly pissed she won't be getting this one.
"Sorry, but I called him first. You can definitely have the next one," Franchesca smiles mischievously, then gives both of us a quick kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you lovely ladies later, I'm gonna go try and score a homerun before first period."
As she begins to chase after him, Phoenix calls "Give me an S,"
"Give me an L," I continue our little chant.
"Give me a U," she responds.
"Give me a T" I finished.
"What's that spell?" we simultaneously speak. Franchesca still in a wolves' hearing distance, turns on one of her four inch heels and cheers "Franchesca!"
We laugh as she continues her hunt for a broom closet hook-up. Franchesca is...umm...a bit on the friendly side. I mean how do you nicely say your friend likes to sleep around? It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's her body and she's entitled to do whatever she wants with it. The fact she has sex like most human beings doesn't take away from who she is as a person.
I let out a slight sigh as my laughter dies and I look back to the mirror attached to my locker door. I stare into the mirror only seeing the face of any human girl. With my green eyes, wavy light brown hair, and caramel skin; you would never guess there was a blue eyed wolf attempting to claw itself out of me half the time. In the pack, we were always told that we were wolves cursed into the body of a human. But most of the time I feel like it's the other way around. Don't get me wrong I love what I am, but some days I feel more human than wolf. I go through the same things any other normal girl would and I feel the same emotions, too.
I shake my head trying to clear my head of these tumultuous thoughts. I glance back to Phoenix seeing her with her head down picking at her gloves.
"Hey," I say softly, pulling her away from her thoughts.
"Oh, hey," she bares a smile.
"What were you thinking about just a minute ago?" I question maintaining that soft tone.
"Nothing, just waiting for you, slowpoke," she jokes, poking my arm.
"Okay," I reply, not sure whether or not she's telling the truth. It scares me when she does that. I don't know whether she's fixing them on her hands or if she's remembering why she wears them now. There was a time when Phoenix wasn't the powerhouse she is now, and I fear when she goes into one her quiet staring modes, she'll somehow revert back. And I'll be damned if I let that happen. I could have just listened to her heart beat to figure out if she's telling the truth; but that would be breaking a promise we made along with Franchesca. We promised we would not cross that line and we should trust each other enough not to lie.
"So excited for graduation today?" she changes the subject.
"I'm just melting with anticipation," I reply. Oh, how could I forget I'm graduating hell, er, high school today? Man, I turned eighteen, I had my Awakening, and I'm graduating. One could say I had a full week and it's only Tuesday.
"What about you 'Little Miss Valedictorian'? Nervous for your big speech?" I ask. If I had to say one thing about Phoenix Mercado, it would be she's a friggin genius.
"Please, my speech is gonna kick ass and-"she stops, wrinkling her nose and I follow suit a second later. A foul odor of death has literally just attacked my nose. We look back to the source of the violent smell and we see the culprits.
About five lockers down, we see two boys crowded around an open locker, the slightly taller one with a lit cigarette. I recognize the one holding the cigarette as J.C. Lenz and the one going through his locker as Liam Aldaine. These boys have quite the reputation here, they are known to be the biggest players, get into the majority of fights, cut the most classes, etc. I guess you could say they're our school's bad boys. Although, despite J.C.'s boisterous displays of 'bad boyness', Liam's feared more. He's known to be a straight up badass which made the boys fear him and the girls love him. As I stare at him some more, I can definitely see why.
He wears a pair of dark jeans with a simple black t-shirt that clearly defines his abs and biceps that I swear are the size of my head. A black beanie covers his head, only a few wisps of dirty blonde hair peeking out from the bottom. From his beanie, my eyes travel to his face. He has a well-defined jaw with a hint of a goatee, an eyebrow piercing, and a single ear piercing. Damn it, I like piercings on guys. Of course J.C. has piercings and he's wearing the same thing; except with a white t-shirt and a baseball cap covering his floppy brown hair, but still...
Liam's insanely gorgeous (BUT, I'm not going there, a crush only brings complications) and, well, J.C.'s J.C. Speaking of our little bad boy here, he's still smoking that damn cigarette. Although, they are several feet away, we can still sense it because of our enhanced sense of smell.
"Hey," Phoenix finally snaps, getting both boys' attention.
"What?" J.C. replies coolly.
"If you wanna kill yourself with that little wrapper covered piece of death, do it on your own time. Smoking isn't allowed in here, and there's a reason for it. Ever heard of second-hand smoke?" she seethed.
"Heard of it and chose to ignore it," he smirked with amusement.
"Of course you would, ass hat," Phoenix bit back. She's had her fair share of jackass and I knew she wasn't about to back down. As much as I would love to hear how J.C. responds, my eyes drift from his agitated face to Liam's very nice one. Seeing his face from the front only makes him look even more charming. I subtly gawk at his stormy blue eyes. Although, his eyes are clearly shining with disinterest, there seems to be so much emotion boiling underneath. His eyes mystify me though, it's like I see all of this darkness but just a faint light consumed within it. It's too bad I don't realize he's looking back at me until now. He raises his eyebrows giving me a 'What?' look. I quickly glance away reinserting myself into the ongoing bickering between our friends.
"Look, why don't you just leave?" J.C. asks, sounding slightly annoyed.
"Not until you put it out," Phoenix responds.
"Y'know what-," he starts.
"No, I don't know what," Phoenix interrupts.
"Just put the damn cigarette out," Liam finally speaks, his voice deep and slightly gruff. J.C. gives out a small huff and does as he's told. He looks back at Phoenix and mutters "Happy?"
"No," Phoenix says evenly. J.C. suddenly looks at her, his brown eyes twinkling with interest and something more.
"You're feisty, I like it. A little mouthy, but we can put that mouth of yours to good use," he smirks. Phoenix lets out a tiny growl as she takes a step forward.
"Phoenix, we should get to class," I warn, grasping her arm. The last thing I need is for her to let loose on some human boys in public. It's forbidden to display our abilities around humans. Besides humans, there are other wolf packs, so we have to suppress our wolf scents in order to avoid any sort of conflict. Basically, Phoenix needs to cool it before she gets herself into trouble.
"Fine," she stiffly mutters, and we turn around before she looks over her shoulder. "One of these days, Lenz, I'm gonna beat the living hell out of you,"
"Count on it, Dimples," he smiles. At this point I'm literally pushing her forward to class before she explodes. There will be no blood shed...at least not today.