I opened my eyes.
The day was already fading. Golden light came in through the window, planes of yellow light reflecting along the walls. As the bleariness of sleep subsided, my eyes met Sam’s.
“Hi.” He spoke.
A golden shard of light made a triangle on the plane of his cheek. His dark eyes studied me.
“Do you ever sleep?” I asked.
Sam let out a hushed laugh. His thumb reached out to graze my jaw. His hands were so rough. So weathered by years of hardship. There was still much that I didn’t know about Sam Evans. So much that he kept hidden from me. I didn’t know if this was for my benefit or for his own.
“I try.” He finally said.
We looked at each other for precious moments. It was times like those, in the quiet of the fading day that would soon welcome the night, when I found myself hungering for deep and precious things from Sam Evans. The strength of our bond surged through my veins, the magic permeating the air around us as though represented by the golden rays of late afternoon. I wished to know him. This yearning tugged at my heart, my hands. My mind.
“Do you miss them?” He whispered, running his thumb along the hard line of my jaw.
I was stunned by this question. By ‘them’, I knew that he meant my family. Everyone that I had known back in Aurora.
That time seemed so incredibly distant to me. It was terrifying how faraway it seemed in my head. It was like the seventeen years that I had been living that life, a perfectly human life, had simply vanished from my memory. Pieces would come back to me, but they were more like figments of my imagination, parts of a dream, than reality.
“Sorry.” Sam said after I didn’t respond. He looked ashamed, like a flustered little kid who had just written the wrong answer on the blackboard.
“No, don’t be.” I said immediately, my impulse to protect him coming to me like it had been there all my life. My hand touched against his collarbone.
“I just don’t know what to say.” I whispered, telling him the real and honest truth.
I wondered about the other guys. If they had families of their own. They probably did. I wondered if they remembered them at all. Or if they had just let the memory of their old life sink into oblivion, never to be welcomed again.
Maybe it was just too painful. Remembering.
“I guess,” I started, “I miss them. In a way.” Sam nodded his head. I was careful. The topic didn’t seem to be a comfortable one for either of us.
“But there are also things that I don’t miss.’” I finally said, looking Sam right in his eyes as though to reassure him of my full commitment to him. To the pack. Because it was there. As binding as the commitment that had tied me to my own family. In fact, it was stronger than anything that I had ever felt. Especially my Imprint to Sam. Its magic had ignited in me things that I never knew I could feel before.
I thought, briefly, as a span of contemplative silence stretched between us, of the things that I did miss.
I thought of my mother’s chocolate chip cookies that she would make on rare occasions. Usually holidays. The light in her eyes when she laughed, in those days before Jack left for college. The way that my dad would touch her shoulder as he stood behind her while she was doing dishes. The smell of Adam’s car- pine trees and dirt and home. The way he touched my jaw when he kissed me.
I thought briefly of those things with a bittersweet feeling. But it wasn’t long before they faded away.
Sam was studying me when I came out of my thoughts. I admired the silent, strong way about him. The quiet intelligence. Again, for what seemed like the hundredth time since I’d known him, I wondered about his past.
Who was Sam Evans?
His dark brows drew inward towards the bridge of his nose. “Are you upset about something?”
I had forgotten that he now had a direct line into my feelings.
Slightly flushed, embarrassed by my own negligence, I shook my head, moving closer to him beneath the covers so that my head lay against his sturdy chest. “No. I’m okay. Don’t worry.”
My hand splayed against the bareness of his chest. I remembered his nakedness as we had greeted the Change the night before. Then, it had seemed so natural. Second instinct. But that was another kind of nakedness. It embodied the rawness of a magic that was bigger than all of us. There was a different kind of nakedness that I craved with him. And I knew that he craved the same.
A nakedness that told stories of love and devotion. One that emboldened the beauty of one soul baring itself to another.
Sam sensed the direction of my thoughts. The feelings that they gave me. His chin rested along the top of my head.
“Oh, Jane.” He exhaled.
He was warm beneath me. I thought of the reassurance that he gave me. The warmth of both romantic love and a bond that ran as deep as blood.
I knew that a time would come for those things that we both craved. And that gave me peace.
I closed my eyes, resting them for the busy night to come. He did the same, unspoken thoughts and symphonies of feelings passing between our subconscious minds as we faded into the golden afternoon.