Strange Eyes

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Twenty-nine

That night, everything was so different than the first time had been.

It was like a dance.

We all just knew. It was instantaneous. We could feel the push and pull of the magic, the receding of the drowsy day into the fierce and full night. The magic coursed through our veins. It was electric.

Sam and I held hands as we all left the safe house. At first I was stunned to see all seven of them there. So magnificent in the sunset. The last sliver of the day. The winter wind was chilled. Adonis’ eyes gleamed pure topaz as he looked from Sam to me, his silent sternness radiating from him. A reminder. Their connection shivered in the glowing air.

Sam looked to me, making the moment intimate. “If you’re feeling modest, look away.” At first, I blinked at him, unknowing. But as soon as the others started stripping off their clothes, I knew exactly what he was referring to.

“Oh.” I whispered. My cheeks colored initially, and I looked away. Sam stepped in front of me to shield me. “It’s okay.” He said, and he smiled his warm smile. “We just don’t like to waste clothes.” I nodded in understanding, warming up to the moment. Modesty didn’t have a place here. This was real. This was our connection that we all shared. The strength of the bond couldn’t be ignored in that moment.

I was feeling brave.

I slipped my jacket down on my shoulders, shedding it onto the leaves. Sam looked surprised. “I’m okay.” I said. There was no jealousy in him. No human emotions. Just the silent communication of the wolf as we both bared ourselves to the coming night. I didn’t indulge in the sight of their nakedness. Or even Sam’s nakedness. It was unspoken. It was right.

The chilled air washed over me as the last orange rays of sun shone down on the world through the tops of the trees. I closed my eyes, spreading my arms out. I could feel the magic in my blood as the slow heat began. It crept up my spine. I shivered in its icy-hot grasp. Even the pain was beautiful.

Sam’s hand connected with mine as the Change consumed us all.

It felt like no time had passed, and yet, an eternity as I stepped out of the blackness of the Change. Somehow, I knew to run.

My instincts were quick to sharpen, like the blade of a sword, as I ran through the padded forest floor, following every fiber of my being like its own compass. I sensed other bodies near me. I sensed Sam’s presence, strong and radiating like a warm fire. And then, he was beside me, his dark coat gleaming with warm brown. His same eyes connected with mine.

I’m here, his voice echoed in my head.

I communicated my gratitude to him through our line of communication. It was Adonis that we were following, his form strong and silent as he moved lithely. We were miles and miles away from the safe house. From any semblance of familiarity. But somehow, I felt like I was home.

Don’t get too cozy back there, lovebirds.

Rick’s distinct voice echoed in my mind, and his large russet form came up beside Sam and me. I conveyed my laughter, the sound echoing through all of our heads.

Oh shut up. Sam said. My side brushed against his as the wind moved above us and below us, a shining crescent moon rising up above us in the cloudless night sky. It gleamed with a stunning beauty. The stars were out, glorious in their own way. I had never seen a night that clearly.

With Sam running beside me, I was unstoppable.

Are we close? Les’ voice echoed. Hunter joined him in additional question.

I sensed him near the base of the pack, where we ran in a triangular shape, Adonis at the tip of it. Sam and I were close to the rear. It connected in my mind that Rick and Paul, who ran beside him, were towards the back due to their size. Sam was the Beta. I was his mate. The order somehow made sense.

We are near. Adonis said. We were all connected with some invisible golden line of magic, our minds and our hearts in a perfect and wonderful synchronization. We traveled silently and with perfect speed, our bodies stretching and molding to fit into the mold of the night.

We’re starving, Max and Damon said in unison from near the base of the pack. Sam’s worry flushed through me, and I looked to him as we moved.

What’s wrong? I said to him and him alone. I could feel our connection smolder while the other larger one subdued. We were alone.

Wolf Sam didn’t meet my eyes. I could once again sense his immediate distress. Is it feeding that you’re worried about? I asked him gently. I could feel his answer.

I’ll be fine, I said to him, brushing up against him once again. Sam didn’t feel assured.

We ran on for some time in silence before Adonis stopped us abruptly. We were in deep forest. It was dark and black and ominous all around me. I was comforted only by the thought of those closest to me around me, Sam’s presence an anchor.

Hunt now. We move soon. Adonis said. I had never heard him so abrupt. So short. His alpha power radiated through his words as they echoed from within all of our minds.

My heart sank, pounding within my massive rib cage. Sam breathed heavily from beside me. He eyed me with his large eyes, so dark and yet radiating with his permanent warmth.

I’ll be okay, I said to him again. Although I wasn’t so sure.

Rick moved first.

So fast. So lithe. I watched with a wild fascination as he ran gracefully with a brute hunger towards the thickest portion of the forest. The others went in their own directions, their minds echoing with their separate pursuits, the goals of the hunt.

Sam stayed with me. Our own communication separated us from the others in isolation.

It’s part of being a Changed One, he said. I brushed up against him to prove my assuredness. Will you show me?

And with that, we both took off together.

Adonis was not far behind. He and Sam seemed to gravitate towards each other in all situations. Their bond was unbreakable.

Sam stopped abruptly. The others were near us. We never traveled too far apart, except when one took on an individual pursuit. The dynamic was instantaneous. So closely tied.

Look here, Sam spoke. I stared into the trees, my heart pounding. My laser eyes immediately saw through the gray darkness the silhouette of a massive buck. It glowed in the faint moonlight. Its massive horns protruded upward in magnificent angles. I couldn’t help but be in awe of it.

My mind flashed back to memories of hunting with Adam and my father. Despite how uncomfortable and strange remembering them was for me, I made the analogy of them with their guns to me with my animalistic abilities and duties. This was my duty as a member of the pack. I didn’t think of it as taking a life.

It was survival.

Go on, Adonis spoke from not far behind us, somewhere in the distance. I could sense his hunger. His need. The buck grazed about, most likely scouting out a living place. The trees were thick. Shrouding him from ordinary human sight. The creature would have otherwise been safe from the threat of gunfire.

Follow my lead, Sam said. I could feel him tense beside me. Nearly in a crouching position. His large wolven form moved slowly but lithely. I followed suit. Carefully.

Don’t be frighten, He assured me. He made eye contact once. My wolf-self assured him with my own eyes, although the pounding of my heart no doubt betrayed me. I could sense the rising crescendo, the thrilling climax.

Sam pounced.

His form rose up off of the ground as he sprinted, moving so fast that he was a blur among the blackness. I hung back. Observant. He made his move, as the buck was frightened away by the unseen predator, moving in the opposite direction. Sam was deadly. A swift blade connecting with the skin. He caught up to the creature quickly, making the kill strike in seconds. The large animal fell to the ground with a loud thud. I watched with a morbid fascination as he made the kill in a collision of both beauty and death.

My human-self disconnected from my wolf-self for that moment. The two were usually interconnected, one streamlined with the other as the magic took hold of me. But for the occasion of hunting, I knew that I would distance the two.

For my own sake.

I was full. My body was nourished. It was so strange and magical to me how it all worked. How the body gained sustenance in multiple forms, both so intricately designed for completely different purposes.

You did well, Adonis spoke to me as the hunt was finished. I expressed my gratitude in the silent way that we all had. There were obviously no words between us. But there was no need for them. We communicated in an entirely new way, one that was absolutely effortless.

We all moved back into formation. Sam and I were back at the base of the pack, Paul and Rick close beside us. We moved in a wide span, covering much space. There was a sense of purpose in the air, although I was not yet clear on what had called us there. Sam and Adonis kept quiet. I sensed that they knew why we were moving in the direction that we were, and I trusted them boundlessly.

With something of a chill, I remembered Halona’s visit to the safe house earlier that day. I didn’t know what her intentions were in coming there, although I had loved seeing her. I remembered Adonis’ seriousness, the privacy of their conversation. I wondered with an aching feeling what they had been discussing.

I could sense Sam’s restlessness.

His form was craving something. It was almost like he was waiting. For what, I didn’t know. Adonis was the same. I got the idea that he and Sam knew something that the rest of us didn’t.

And so, the night passed in this manner. This waiting game. A mystery to me. Sam was always beside me, the others like my own personal safety blanket. Although I was strong in this new form, I felt like a newborn just coming into the bright lights of the big and scary world. It was all so new to me. I was glad for all of them there to help me navigate it. I could feel that dawn was soon-approaching when Adonis spoke to all of us.

Go back, he said in all of our minds.

I was weary from a night of traveling, despite my gained sustenance from the earlier hunt. But there was the lingering restlessness, even as we passed through the bounds of the safe house as the sun rose above the trees, golden and magnificent in its symbolic beauty. It had come to be the backdrop to the shedding of old skin and the gaining of new. We all stood there in our human nakedness as we let our weariness consume us, stumbling back into the safe house with our clothes half on. Sam’s hand found mine as we navigated the familiar hallway.

“Will you stay with me?” I asked him, my voice still raw and new in this old form. He nodded at me with his dark-lit eyes.

“Always.” He said.

And so we fell asleep beside each other, the strange newness of everything made easier by his constant strength.

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