Strange Eyes

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Twenty-two

That night, I was jarred awake from a restless and famished sleep by the tortured wailing sounds of those Changing, the sounds bleeding into the silent night. Rolling over, I knew that there was nothing that I could do. Squeezing my eyes shut, salty tears dripping along my nose and down my jaw, I shut out their pain as they took on new life.

Rick Shifed the next night.

The air in my bedroom was stifling as I rolled around, covering my head with my pillow to try and block out the agonizing sounds of his transformation. It terrified me. Absolutely terrified me.

“Jane.” I heard a voice from my doorway. “Go away.” My voice was muffled. Rick let out another half-animal half-human cry that echoed around in among the night-shrouded trees. I felt my bed move as someone sat down. With that, I lifted my head from underneath the pillow and was mortified to see that it was Sam.

I wondered if I would receive some kind of punishment for speaking to the Beta in that way. The thought was almost comical, but the humor soon faded away into the same anguish and pain that defined the night.

Sam just looked at me with his dark eyes. They were hooded with some form of fatigue, although I could hardly imagine him tired. He seemed so unstoppable, so strong while others were weak. I found myself clinging onto his essence like an anchor, a lifeline. He was my source of strength.

“Why does it have to be this way?” I asked, my voice a sliver of a whisper in my moonlit surroundings. The blue dark emboldened the hard lines of his face, the rigidness of his jawline, the curve of his cheekbone. Sam looked at me in an all-knowing way, calm yet fierce.

“It is the way of things. The way of the Changed Ones. We are all used to it.” He said this with a gentle voice. I wished that I could hear that voice forever. Just let it lull me to the comfort of sleep. Rick let out another air-piercing cry, this one cutting through the night like a blade. I winced. Sam remained expressionless, watching me.

He looked at me like I was the most curious thing that he had ever seen. It was both amusing and frightening at the same time.

Suddenly, Sam and I listened on as Rick’s cries stopped. I could hear rustling, a faint sound that was both familiar and filled with foreignness at the same time. I had heard the sounds of a wolf walking along the forest floor before. Just never in such a…context.

“Is that…”

Sam nodded.

I stared in the direction of the window, the curtains blowing around in the silver-lit night. I swallowed. I could hear the darkness. Imagining Rick, Less, Damon, and Max out there, as things that I had never seen them as, was startlingly surreal. I sat in silent awe of the world, the magic of the Changed Ones.

I was glad for Sam’s presence there. It was as though he had sensed what I was thinking, my mental distress. “Tell me more about it.” I asked. Sam looked at me as though he were wary. “Like what?”

“What everyone is like. How we communicate. Everything.” I said. Something in me was afraid to know. Terrified, actually. But another part of me, the dominant part, wanted fiercely to know everything that being a Changed One would require. It was a part of me.

Sam exhaled. “It’s all…in our heads. If that makes sense.” I looked at him with a peaked curiosity. “In our heads?” I asked, a question in my voice. I had moved to sit up in bed, however, I didn’t dare turn on the bedside lamp. There was a quiet sense of reverence in the air following Rick’s Change. As though something that occurred that was extremely rare.

He looked perplexed. “Images, words, feelings. Everything is shared between the members of the pack. Only Adonis and I can communicate without being disturbed.” I pondered this. “Wouldn’t that get kind of annoying after a while? Hearing and seeing all of those things. Like a million different signals.”

Sam laughed, a rich and melodic and gorgeous sound that I could listen to for hours. “Yes, it does.” We were quiet. I couldn’t hear Rick anymore. Or any of them for that matter. I could hear faint snoring from down the hall. I knew it was Hunter. The thought made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

I saw Sam touch the back of his neck. A faint sheen of sweat had gathered along his arms, his forehead. Everywhere come to think of it. It made his tanned skin glow. “Are you feeling okay?” I asked, and my heart started at the thought that he could be experiencing the beginnings of the Change. Sam looked at me without worry in his eyes. “I’m fine. It will be soon.”

An overwhelming fear overtook me at the thought of being without his guiding presence for those final days before I would Change. There was something about Sam that was so eternally comforting, so familiar. I couldn’t place it.

Sam breathed out, the sounds of his breaths filling up my bedroom. I didn’t realize what was coming until it was already happening.

He pressed his lips to mine, the action slow. Intimate. Right. I felt every sense in me come alive at his nearness. Feeling him was astoundingly clear, everything bursting with newness and exhilaration. All of my fears melted away. Our lips moved together, and my hand touched against his rib.

He pulled away.

“I’m…I’m sorry, Jane.” His voice was short as he quickly got up, leaving the room before I could say anything, his comfort leaving me as soon as it had been given.

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