Strange Eyes

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Thirty-five

It seemed that my life had become an endless cycle of sleeping and waking.

As the sun rose, everything ceased. But with the sunset came an astounding beginning. The space in-between was a gray area full of half-dreams and heavy limbs. And Sam.

Always Sam.

But as I opened my eyes to my lightened surroundings, I somehow knew Sam wouldn’t be there beside me.

My eyelashes fluttered against my cheekbone. I didn’t move. I looked at the empty space where his body had been, slightly ruffled, lingering with the ghost of his presence. He had always been the connector of all. There as the sun set, as it rose. In the space between.

But these were different times.

Halona’s home was a comfort- just as I remembered it to be. As I looked around the lightened room, golden with the fading winter sun, I zeroed in on the curtain. It fluttered in the light breeze.

I shivered.

A slow murmur of voices came from outside of the house. I strained to hear them, although my body was still anchored to the bed by the ghost of sleep. My sharp ears made out Halona’s voice. Adonis’ deep timbre echoed among the hushed conversation. They spoke in the Native Lupus tongue- I knew that much. They spoke too quickly for me to make anything out.

But I managed to hear one constant mention that left me reeling: u-so-nv.

The word brought a chill to my spine. It ricocheted all the way down to my feet, zooming back up to connect with my brain. I yearned for Sam’s presence in the harshness of the unknown. The heaviness of the circumstances. I was afraid.

But he had duties elsewhere. That had always been the case from the beginning.

I made out his voice among them as they passed beneath the window, deadened winter leaves crunching beneath their feet. It sounded like they were coming into the house.

I got up from bed, my feet connecting with the hardwood floor. It was still difficult for me to believe that this was Halona’s home. Of course it embodied her perfectly-what with its utter warmth and comfort, along with its perfect simplicity. But the place was literally in the middle of nowhere. All that surrounded it were trees from all sides- a wall of dense green.

At least, that was all that I had ever seen of it. But it seemed there was much more to discover.

The travel the night before had been uneventful. Luckily. Although all of us had been on edge what with our poignant awareness of the dark possibilities that lay ahead; unknown presences that threatened not only our safety but the safety of all those around us. Strange forces were at work. I felt that in the deepest part of my soul.

The balance was being disturbed.

We had arrived at Halona’s home late, just as the full moon had begun to descend from the sky. Exhausted, she had welcomed us in. She was like a warm beacon of light within the tumultuous and stirring darkness that threatened to close in around us. It was like coming home.

After we had Shifted and changed into the clothes Halona had prepared for us, Sam and I had gone straight to bed. I don’t remember parting from the others with any words. We were too drained. All I recalled was the feel of his hand connecting with mine from beneath the warm sheets as I drifted away.

I knew that he hadn’t slept. He never did. There was too much weighing on him. Especially in these trying times.

I thought of this as I surfaced from my bedroom. I worried much about him. Sam needed rest. Padding along the hardwood in the comfortable robe that I had found hanging in the closet, I followed voices that came from the living room beyond.

“We don’t know anything, that’s the problem.”

I was startled to hear Paul’s agitated voice coming from the quiet living room. He was always so soft spoken. It was strange to hear him speak in such a way.

I heard a sigh. “I don’t know what will happen. All I know is that Adonis-“

A door opened. I felt Sam’s presence as his closeness ignited with mine. Our imprint crackled with its own subdued power, making itself known. I exhaled, hanging back. I didn’t want to intrude just yet.

“Hello.” Adonis’ deep voice rumbled in greeting. There was the subdued yet alarming presence of power with his voice, as though it contained his very aura. The Alpha aura.

“My children. You don’t look well-rested.” Halona’s sweet voice was a comfort even in such a tense time. It sounded like the babbling of a spring brook, the call of a songbird- everything sweet and calm and of the earth.

“It’s hard to rest.” Les’ voice spoke up. I assumed that everyone had been awake but me. Sam’s presence neared mine as he drifted from the room, and I ventured back in the direction of the bedroom, my feet quick. For some reason, I felt as though I had invaded on some private conversation that I wasn’t supposed to be hearing.

Throwing myself back onto the bed and yanking the sheets over my body, I made it just in time as Sam opened the door, peering in.

“Hey.” His voice was welcome as my heart thrummed with adrenaline.

“Hi.” I said, trying to appear as though I had been sleeping the entire time. He looked exhausted, as expected. His hair was getting long. He wore a leather jacket that stretched along his shoulders. His boots thudded along the wood floor as he neared the end of the bed.

“How did you sleep?” I asked him, when he was quiet. Sam looked at me with a touch of a wry smile.

“Fine.” He lied.

I was quiet. He sat down on the end of the bed, near my feet. His dark eyes were ringed with a subtle purple. Like bruises.

“Halona’s making breakfast. You need to eat.” He touched my foot from beneath the covers, his hand settling into the curve of it. I ran a hand through my tangled hair. “So do you.” I countered. He needed to take care of himself. That was becoming alarmingly evident.

Sam just looked at me. I looked back.

I sat up, my back hunching as I rested my hands along my knees, pulling my legs inward and crisscrossing them.

Sam spoke up after a period of silence. “Tonight we are meeting with the rest of the tribe. Halona has some things to share with us.” I couldn’t help but notice the grim tone of his voice as he said this, and instantly, that same chill zapped up my spine. My back straightened, almost instinctively.

“Okay.” My voice was quiet.

“Come here.” Sam said, and I climbed over into his waiting lap. He wrapped his arms around my tired body. I could feel his strength; he was giving me someone to lean on. But I knew that he needed just the opposite.

I put my hands on either side of his face, his jaw curving beneath my palms. I stared into his eyes- those sorrowful eyes that I knew more about than I had a few weeks ago, but that I knew I still had yet to decipher fully.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Sam said, his voice subdued.

I just looked at him. “I don’t know.” I whispered. “Can’t I just look at you?”

My hands traveled down to his neck. His arms tightened around me. “Okay.” He murmured.

I could see his sorrow. I could see his pain. I could see the worry- forming lines curving along his forehead, around his eyes. I could see his tiredness, outlined in the purple stains that flowered like bruises. I could also see his need for me, outlined in his body, his very curvature. The way he pulled me close to him. He didn’t have to say anything. I could see all of these things so clearly.

Sam wasn’t an open book. But I was getting better at reading between the lines.

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