Strange Eyes

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Sixteen

All that I could do was wait.

Waiting. It had become painful. The agonizing apprehension weighed down on my bones, every part of me alive with a nervous energy. All I could think about was what to come.

I knew what to expect. From what Adonis had told me, technically, I had been experiencing the beginnings of the Change for weeks. It had slowly been taking effect, slowly surging through my body, the magic running through my veins.

I had a play-by-play constantly going on in my head of what it would be like. Changing into one of them. Becoming a changed one. It would be painful. The heat would be the worst that it had ever been. It would feel like my body was splitting apart, like the splintering in my head that final day before I had been taken to another world.

I would become a wolf.

I found myself watching them constantly. Studying their dynamic, how they functioned in the human world with human bodies and human things. By then, I knew all of their names.

There was Rick. He was the wildly funny one. Although he didn’t look it, with his bulging form and his dark features, he was a riot to be around. He was nineteen. One of the older ones. There was a certain gentleness to him. He was the one that brought me drinks late at night when I thought that I was feeling the Change, waking up in a ghost of that painful sweat. He had the dark hair and dark features that they all had. But that gentleness in his eyes was what set him apart.

Then, there were Max and Damon. They were identical. Adonis told me that they were the first twins to ever receive the magic simultaneously. A real phenomenon. They were boyish, no more than my age. They had identical fox-like features: narrow eyes that gleamed with humor, sharp features. They were constantly messing with each other, always in some kind of competition. It was quite cute.

Paul. He was a sight for sore eyes. Of course, he didn’t possess Adonis’ captivating beauty, but he was pretty much gorgeous. He had a severe face, almost military looking. He was one of the older ones. Maybe twenty. There was a quiet strength about him that I admired, although he had yet to disclose much to me.

Sam. The beta.

He was everything that Adonis wasn’t. The yin to the yang. The hot and the cold. He was gentle where Adonis was hard, he deviated where Adonis remained straight. The dark eyes were the first thing that I noticed about him. Their depth was astounding, like within them, they held the world. A churning sea of the unknown. There was that commanding voice that he had. The ability that he possessed, along with Adonis, to gain the attention of every single person in the room. Watching him, he was something of an enigma. I didn’t know much about him. All that I knew was that there was something almost…tortured, about him. Laying beneath the surface, waiting to be uncovered.

Days passed in a slow, heavy manner.

Confined to Halona’s home, where I was becoming familiar, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how it would happen, when it would happen, what would take place the days following. All that I knew was that I was ready. I was ready to leave behind everything that I knew, everything human. I was going to become a changed one.

It was late one night.

I had been strong enough to get up out of bed. We were all gathered in the living room, Paul next to me on the couch with Les on my other side. Paul’s profile was illuminated in the candlelight. I couldn’t help but stare he was so beautiful. That captivating severity.

When he noticed me looking, an amused smile curved against his lips.

“You done, Jane?” My cheeks flamed. I nodded quickly, shooting him an apologetic look as the other men laughed. The sound was like music. They all blended together so immaculately. Like one being.

Halona was moving around in the kitchen, the smell of something delicious wafting out of the room, consuming the cozy house. Lately, all that I had managed to eat was some fruit and the occasional sandwich that Sam practically forced down my throat. They kept encouraging me to eat, saying that my body would need the strength. The others said that it was normal not to have an appetite when the Change was occurring.

“I didn’t eat for weeks on end when it first happened. My parents didn’t know what the hell was wrong with me.” Rick had said, laughing along with everybody else. But there was something sad about what he’d said that I couldn’t put my finger on. I wondered about his parents. About all of their parents. Then, inevitably, I wondered about my own.

There had been nights when I’d thought of them. I’d thought of Adam too. And Mon. But there was something foreign about those thoughts. Like I was thinking of something that had long past, a distant memory. Pieces came together. Like the curve of my mother’s mouth. The comfortable silence of my father. The blue flicker of the television. The feeling of Adam’s mouth on mine. The smell of pine trees. Monica’s shiny lip gloss.

But it wasn’t me anymore. I knew that. I had to let go of those parts of me.

That brought on the idea: what would happen next summer? When I returned as my former self? As soon as the winter was over, the cold leaving the earth, everything would revert to how it had been. Would it feel as though nothing had ever changed? Would I be able to return to a joyful family?

It didn’t seem that easy.

I didn’t ask about that part. It seemed so…heavy. To think of leaving the world as a human for those long nine months. I would be gone. Jane Schwartz would be gone, and in her place would be something else entirely.

“Are you eating tonight, Jane?” Les asked me, looking concerned. They all were. They tip-toed around me as though they expected me to spontaneously combust at any moment. And maybe I would.

“I don’t know.” I said, truthful. I had felt a painful stirring in my stomach since that morning. A hand on the waistband of Halona’s pants that she had given me, I could feel my bones. I was too thin. I knew that. But there was simply nothing that I could do about it, unless they wanted to feed me from a tube. At that point, nothing was out of the question. I knew that I had to get nutrients somewhere.

“Come on, Jane. You’ve got to eat.” Rick said. I shrugged, smiling at him with a slight weakness. “I’ll try.”

“Yes, you will.” Sam said, his voice carrying that familiar quiet urgency. Looking at him, his dark eyes lingered on mine. It was like he was studying me hard. Observing me. We made eye contact for what felt like forever, something pulling me to his dark gaze. “Here, my flower.” Halona interrupted the moment when she came over to where I sat, handing me a glass of water. “At least drink something.” She said, her voice warm and soothing where Sam’s was cold and relentless. I nodded, giving her a small smile before pressing my lips to the edge of the glass.

I could see Sam looking at me, something in his eyes that I couldn’t place. He looked handsome sitting there with a black cotton t-shirt on. But it was moments like those when I would catch that tortured look in his eyes.

There was something undeniably tragic about him.

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