My world is very similar to yours but in some ways it's as different as you can get. We send our children to school, we smile, laugh, play and shag. We get angry, fight and cry. We feel fear and pain but more importantly we know the difference between right and wrong. Being part of a werewolf community doesn't make you a monster. My Mum, Dad, Doctor and Greengrocer are werewolves. But it's not them that are responsible for turning me into a nightmare, a thing to hide your children from. I spent 23 years surrounded and loved by "monsters". It took Viktor less than 2 hours to rip away all that was me to be replaced by - nothing. The scariest people aren't full of bad thoughts, anger, aggression, depression or despair. No, if you ever look into someone’s eyes and see only emptiness, run. Run as far and as fast as you can and don't ever look back. If you ever see me, run. I was once a good person, people enjoyed my company, I helped people every chance I got. Viktor changed all that - my humanity is fading quickly; I needed to write this before it disappeared completely. My family, friends and neighbours are good people. Don't hunt them down and hurt them for any bad I will undoubtedly do. If you see my Mother, My Father, Andi or my precious Ian tell them that I thought of them until the end and that I loved them.
The time has come, I don't want to go, there was so much more I wanted to do, so much more to see and I had so much more to give.
To you all - Goodbye and I'm sorry
I loved running, I was a Were so it made sense. I loved everything about it, the steady pounding of my feet, the burn in my lungs, the wind keeping my sweat soaked skin cool. I especially loved running in the rain. The smell of ozone and wet earth sang to my Wolf. Sometimes, the song would be so sweet that it was a physical effort to stay on my 2 human legs, my Wolf begging to run full out on her 4 legs, but I was only 23. I had 2 agonisingly long years to wait before I could run like that, so for now, I swallowed back the frustration shook out my shoulders and just ran faster, fast enough that all thought was left behind with my footprints.
I was half way home when the back of my neck started to prickle, It felt like I was being watched, I couldn't sense anything with any surety just that strange prickling. Telling myself that I was imagining things I sped up and went over in my head the days plan of action. It was our Alpha Steven's party that evening and I was helping my Mum prepare some of the food. Happy with the timing of the oncoming schedule, I started to slow down, cooling down on the last 5 minute stretch.
Reaching my front door I felt the prickling again and picked up the smell of a stranger. If I had been a mere human I wouldn't have been able to tell that the stranger had been there at all. If I were a full werewolf in human form I would have been able to tell how long ago the stranger had been here and been able to follow the scent. If I had been a full werewolf in wolf form I would have been able to tell if the stranger was male or female, young or old. But I wasn't yet full werewolf so all I knew was that someone had been here. It was very unsettling. I checked the windows and the back door but there were no more signs that anyone had been near and my day ahead was busy so I tried to clear it from my mind. I went straight to my music station and found my happiest, bounciest most bum jiggling sing along friendly playlist, cranked up the volume and went to shower before I spent the remainder of the day baking.
I finished spreading the raspberry and chocolate butter icing over the chocolate sponge cake and licked my fingers, moaning in delight at the taste. Glancing at my watch I squeaked and quickened my movements. I put the cake in a box, put the lid on the container holding my cinnamon swirl biscuits and took the olive bread rolls out of the oven, burning my fingers in the process. Running to my bedroom I stripped off my flour and sugar covered vest top and jogging bottoms. I quickly changed into a white blouse and yellow wrap skirt. I debated in front of my 3 shoe racks a little too long but finally settled on a pair of cream wedge sandals. People often tell me that 3 shoe racks is excessive, but I have a thing about having complete sets of things. So I needed to have a pair of flats, wedges, mid heels and high heels in each colour. Looking at my complete rainbow of foot wear just makes me happy. Placing my sandals in a bag I put on some yellow converse low tops for the drive. After a quick brush through my long , thick blonde hair and a flick of eyeliner and mascara I return to the kitchen. Deliberately ignoring the mess of dirty dishes, piles of spilt flours, sugars and cocoa and carefully stepping over the squished berries on the floor I place all the food into a large box and snap the lid shut. Making my way to the car I place the box on the passenger seat and belt it into place, I tend to take corners fast and can be heavy footed on the brake so to avoid upsetting the food contents it seemed the best option. I head back into the house to hunt down my handbag - behind the couch and the multi coloured wrap my Nana Alexandria had crocheted for me - beneath my fallen coat. After double checking that the oven was off and all the lights were out I got as far as turning on the engine before I remembered I had left my sandals in the bedroom and rushed in so fast I bumped into the door frame cracking my elbow and hip in the process. It was just another typical day in my world. Surely I’m not the only one this clumsy and messy?
When I arrived at my parents house I nearly knocked over the pot plants that lined the drive. My mother Gabriella rushed out to meet me. Mums usual perfectly styled hair was in disarray
"Oh Lee, thank god you're here. The phone has been ringing off the hook, the food is ready but I still need to sort out the garden and I haven't had a shower yet. Please can you go help your father out the back? Oh have you made some goodies for us? You are an angel"
"Hello Mum" I kissed her cheek "I've got it covered, now go!" Whistling to myself, I unloaded the car and walked into the kitchen. I looked around in envy as I placed the box down. The floor was wooden and the worktops were made of small dark green tiles. There was a large table in the middle of the room, it had been there all my life, it was well used, had odd scratches here and there and I knew there were dashes carved into the underside; I had made them as a child with my ruler whilst doing my maths homework. The industrial sized stainless steel oven gleamed and the empty sink sparkled. The house smelled of my Mum's famous stew, freshly baked bread, lemons and furniture polish. There were some rock cakes cooling on a rack and unable to help myself I pinched one as I headed out to the back garden. My father Graham was wrestling with the bouncy castle whilst the large paddling pool was filling with water
"Hi Dad" he looked up and smiled
"Hi Lee, you're just in time to save me from this stupid castle. I swear your mother has lost the plot with this party. Why do we need a bouncy castle? Oh darling, you have something in your hair" It was sugar, I sucked it clean whilst Dad wrinkled his nose in disgust "Have you seen the amount of food she has cooked? And the phone hasn't stopped ringing all morning. She won't stop clucking and rushing about. Honestly it's like we are entertaining Royalty or something. It's driving me mad!"
"Oh Dad it's important to her, she feels out of things so often, this is just her way of proving her worth to the pack. Besides, 5 years as an unchallenged alpha is huge for Steven." I looked out over the huge expanse of the back garden "Though how you could have fulfilled your beta duties of throwing the party if we didn't have all this space I don't know"
"We would have just had to use the Moon clearing. Wait, what do you mean out of things? What has she been saying? For God's sake she's a nurse, she more than proves her worth every day. Is this because she can't do security detail?" Mum had had a tumour in her brain, in the frontal lobe. It had been removed and things seemed to be going fine but it had, permanently it seems, damaged the olfactory sensory nerves, the nerves that dealt with smell. It had been a year and half since the surgery, the doctors said if her sense of smell wasn't back by now it never will be
"Yes, but don't say anything; she wouldn't like you to know how much it bothers her. She has hinted that losing her sense of smell has made her feel less of a wolf" the pain that flashed across my father's face was so raw it broke my heart "I'm so sorry Dad, I shouldn't have said anything. Mum didn't want you to know, she said you would think it stupid
"Of course it's stupid, that woman is one of the best of us. It just kills me that she won't confide in me ..." his voice cracked with the weight of his emotions. I hugged him tight
"It's not like that Dad, you know what she is like. She won't tell you something that may upset you, not if she can help it. Once she has sorted her thoughts out she will talk to you, just give her time. Now, come on we better get a move on or the guests will be arriving and the garden will be empty"
We spent the next hour setting up, inflating the bouncy castle was easier with 2 of us, we chucked the pool toys into the paddling pool for the little ones, placed the patio furniture around and got the heated umbrellas out ready for the evening. I got the buckets of water, sponges and water pistols out for the inevitable water fights - we told ourselves it was for the kids but the adults had more fun with them every time, especially after a few drinks. It was too early to put the food out but I had to satisfy my curiosity so went in to nose around. There were the usual mountains of burgers, sausages and chicken legs for the BBQ. Baked potatoes and buttered foil wrapped corn cobs were in the oven. The fridge was stuffed full of trays of fish, spiced meats shaped into balls, called kufte, marinating kebabs, bowls of salads, dips, sliced vegetables, platters of cheese and fruit and cakes. Mum had also made my favourite Dark chocolate torte, the crust was made from ground walnuts and the filling was almost truffle consistency. I almost ran my finger through the filling in a giant L to lay claim and sneak a taste like I did as a kid but I heard my Mum's voice in my head 'Selena Rose Bailey Thompson, if you stick your finger in my torte one more time I shall lace it with chilli' with a chuckle I removed my hand and head from the fridge and headed back outside, she had followed through on the threat once. As an adult the thought was quite appealing but 10 year old me had not appreciated a flaming mouthful of chilli ganache.
I got the BBQ bricks lit whilst Dad ran in for a shower. Mum came out and as usual looked amazing. Her pale yellow sundress hugged her trim figure beautifully. She had artfully pinned her hair up leaving some curls to frame her face, she had on some lipstick but no other makeup was needed. I glanced down to her bare feet and let out a long suffering sigh. Most werewolves preferred to be barefooted, I knew I was an oddball for my love of shoes but it didn't stop me from spending my life trying to persuade Mum to join me on the dark side. We started bringing out the food. Mum seemed nervous and jittery but was controlling it, so I wasn't getting a mental read off of her. I wished for the billionth time that the rest of the pack would learn to hide their emotions as well as my parents.
People started to arrive a few minutes before Dad was ready so I helped Mum to meet and greet. Once Dad came down he took charge of the drinks but not before I heard him tell Mum how beautiful she looked and that he loved her, they shared a quick but incredibly tender kiss that was almost painful to watch. Was it any wonder no guy had ever turned my head? I had been brought up by two people who had only ever had eyes for each other. They were Mated; their bond went far beyond that of just love. When they were in a room together they were like dancers, they knew where each other was and were almost always touching. They bickered good naturedly and occasionally had disagreements but never argued. Outsiders usually only ever looked wistful or jealous in their presence. Dad disappeared inside and Mum and I went out back to make sure everyone was comfortable and the kids were enjoying themselves safely.
As soon as it was clear Mum and Dad were in a comfortable routine with the hosting responsibilities I headed up to my old room. When I turned 13 my 'powers' reared their ugly head. Although I can't hear actual thoughts if I am around too many people for any space of time I get migraine like headaches. I had to use the soundproofed rooms in the music block to do my schoolwork, only venturing outside when it was absolutely necessary. My Dad had soundproofed my bedroom to help me out at home, I shut the blackout curtains and lay down on my bed relishing the darkness and silence. I had only meant to rest until the pain in my head had reduced slightly, but I had fallen asleep for nearly 2 hours. I went to the bathroom and fixed my hair and makeup but there was nothing I could do about the wrinkles in my clothes. Taking a deep breath I started down the stairs heading for food table in the back yard. Tentatively I checked the vibe of the party and was relieved to feel that there was only an ignorable amount of negativity. I helped myself to a huge plateful of food and found somewhere quiet to eat.
I was just finishing and desperately trying to wipe the drips of melted butter and meat juice off my blouse when our alpha Steven spotted me and came over to speak "Here you are Lee. Allow me to introduce you to my guest, Ian" I looked back to where he was pointing with confusion. Steven looked back and frowned "He was right behind me, I'm sure he'll join us in a minute. He is on loan to us from Christian"
Chase's alpha, from the West Moor pack"
"Right, Chase is Michaels father, are Chase and Michael ok?" Michael is the barman in our local pub. I worked closely with him in my first year at the school as a guidance counsellor. His father Chase, met his mother Annie at one of the Moon meets. They had hit it off and had fallen pregnant. But unfortunately they were both head teachers for their packs schools and without any suitable replacements neither had been able to move, so they could only meet up occasionally. Michael found it very difficult to deal with. Usually in the werewolf community if a couple produced a child but didn't want a relationship, the child never got to know the father. It sounds harsh but it is a proven method that dates back to when neighbouring packs were less friendly and cooperative with each other. Michael always seemed to think that as his father knew him but didn't move in with him, Michael himself couldn't have been worth his fathers love. I helped Michael through his last 2 years of school and still had a good relationship with him. I was so panicked about him that I was already looking around for my handbag, to run an help. If I had been a little more calm I could have focused on Steven's emotions and would have known there was no need for alarm, but dealing with my own nerves had always been beyond me. I was the first in generations who could taste lies and feel negative emotions so I had never had a teacher. It was my great grandmothers sister who had last had this type of ability, she was incredibly talented and controlled but her mother had also had the ability so she had been taught. I was scrambling through my mind trying to remember if I had my little first aid kit, tissues and home-made herbal tea mix that I used as sedatives in my handbag when a man loomed over me casting me in shadow and freezing all thoughts in my head. I slowly looked up and my breath caught in my throat. He must have been 6 foot 3, he had wind tousled jet black hair, deep brown eyes and the most sculpted body I had ever seen. His arms and shoulders were huge, biceps straining against the confines of his tight white t shirt. His waist was trim, his thick quads showed through his dark blue jeans and my mind had no difficulty imagining how good his butt would look if he would please, just turn around. My lips went dry and I swallowed heavily. Everything about him screamed werewolf, from the warm woodsy wolf smell of him to the electric thrum of energy coming out of him in waves. With a blink, my thoughts started to come back to me, and snapping my mouth shut I analysed the area around me and felt no tension or urgency. He smiled at me and the laughter in his eyes made it clear he knew the reaction he had on me. I suddenly became very aware of the wrinkles and food smudges on my clothing
"Hi, I'm Ian" his voice was deep and smooth, I felt it rumble down my spine causing my stomach to clench, I smiled back fascinated by his full bottom lip, vaguely I wondered how it would feel between my teeth. Inside my head a pair of canine eyes opened with curiosity
"Lee" I looked to his outstretched hand "I know better than to shake a strangers hand. I doesn't feel like Michael is in trouble?"
"I'm not here on behalf of either Michael or Chase, as far as I know they are both safe. I would like to shake your hand but you seem a little jittery" I inhaled deeply, I let his words roll around on my tongue, I could taste early morning dew and pine needles. The taste of him coated my tongue like syrup, this meant that he was telling the truth and that he had abilities. Not everyone tastes the same way, or even tastes at all, when they tell the truth but everyone tastes bitter and peppery when they lie. Only people with abilities coat my tongue like syrup and if they were trying to use their abilities against me at the same time I was reading them, the syrup coating spread down my throat and could sometimes choke me
"Are you trying to read me with a handshake?"
"No, my abilities are not enhanced by touch. I can not 'read' anyone" I inhaled again, smiled and shook his hand, they were large, warm and calloused
"Do you always speak like that? A simple No would have sufficed
"No, but I know about your talents and wanted to make things clear"
"Oh, thanks. People aren't usually so considerate"
"How did you know I had a talent, and what did I do that was considerate?"
"I can taste if someone has abilities but I can't tell what they are. I can tell if they are being used on me at the time. I can tell if someone lies, but I cant read minds. Simple answers work in conversation but there could have been something you were hiding underneath which would have sent off my lying alarm" noticing his confusion I continued "Look over there at that empty pie plate. If I were to ask did you eat that pie? You could say no but it would taste wrong, whereas if you said you ate a piece of the pie it would taste fine. Nothing I do is an exact science, I spend most of my life sensing lies but most of the time I'm not actually being lied to. It's confusing and headachy" just the Steven came over to us
"Lee, I see you've met Ian. He is here as a favour to me. Maybe we should head indoors, I have a feeling you are not going to like this conversation, oh and grab your father"
Steven was right, I did not like the conversation.
"Let me get this straight, because Diana, a woman you have NEVER MET, has a vision - I'm supposed to take a leave of absence from my job and put up with being followed around by a man I haven't known for 10 minutes. You must be out of your mind. There is absolutely no way I'm doing this Steven"
"Lee, I'm your alpha, you will do as I say"
"I will not be bullied into something Steven, besides how do you expect to back me down when I can feel your reluctance? I don't think you are strong enough" Ian gasped and took a step back and my father groaned
"Lee! ... Steven, please, she is just scared, she didn't mean ..." Steven glared Dad into silence. The atmosphere changed as Steven went from shock to anger, he let his werewolf energy snake out into the room, Ian became anxious and as still as a statue and my father was as scared as I've ever felt him. The hairs on the back of my neck rose and I felt Stevens anger like hundreds of bees buzzing round my head and stinging me, distantly I realised that the prickling sensation I had felt earlier whilst running was similar. The air became scarce and I found it hard to breathe.
"Steven" I wheezed "I'm sorry, I was not challenging you" I felt my own anger rise, giving me the ability to breath easier "This isn't like you; you hate to force any of us. If I was anyone else you would advise and ask but never force them. If these are the lengths you would go to, to keep my abilities in your pack maybe you're not the alpha I would choose to follow" Stevens anger momentarily increased but then he took a deep breath and got it under control
"You're right, I shouldn't force you. But you are wrong about my reasons. You're like a second daughter to me Lee, you and Andi have been friends since before you could walk. The thought of something happening to you is unacceptable. Think about your parents and Andi; think about how you would feel if you lost one of them. Listen to reason, you have been threatened, why would you refuse protection?" I wanted to refuse, I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears like a child and make it all go away but instead I looked at the genuine concern in his eyes and my shoulders slumped in defeat
"Fine. I'm not happy about it but it would be silly to refuse Ian's protection, but I am not stopping work" I saw Steven's fists clench "No! Steven I appreciate and understand your concern but I love that job, I need it and it helps with my control and the kids rely on me. If this person is determined enough they will get at me wherever I am. At least if I am there they will be less inclined to attack due to all the witnesses"
"Isn't there anything I can say to make you see sense?"
"I'll be careful, I will take any other extra precautions you suggest. Besides it's not like anyone can sneak up on me"
"You're not invincible Lee, you only sense negative emotions. What if he is excited about hurting you?" Dad said in a pained voice "What if he is emotionless about the whole idea? Don't glare at me, losing you would kill me, you're my little girl, the only one I've got, I want you safe"
"I know Dad, I'm sorry I really am but those are my terms" turning back to Steven I knelt down, lowered my head and offered him my hand "Please forgive me for my outburst. I recognise your authority and pledge myself to you, my alpha and this pack" Steven accepted my official apology by taking my hand and touching my hand. I wouldn't have usually gone as far as using the official apology but felt I owed him that after my show of defiance in front of a non pack member.
"OK Gray, let's go and enjoy my party. I could do with a beer. Lee, why don't you spend some time talking through your schedule with Ian so he can work out the best way to work with you?" Steven and my Dad went outside after Dad gave me a telling look. I turned on my heel and went through to the kitchen, I poured myself a glass of apple juice and offered Ian a beer
"Could I have a coffee please? I don't drink on the job"
"Sure. Milk, Sugar?
"Black with 2 please" whilst I was making his coffee I was very aware of him, I could feel his unease and it added to mine, Strangely I didn't feel scared about my predicament, having Ian watch my back felt incredibly safe. Someone put the sound system on for the party and the song was one of my favourites. I hummed along, swaying my hips and head in time to the music, trying to shake off my nerves. I turned to hand Ian his mug and the hungry male look in his eyes caught me short. I gulped and my heart rate sped up, I could feel the first stirrings of arousal as well as the beginnings of panic. His fingers brushed mine as he took the mug from my hands. I ached to grab hold. With fascination I watched him lick his lips and longed to feel his lips against mine. He raised the coffee to his face and inhaled, sighing appreciatively at the smell. Without conscious thought my body leaned towards him, my lips parted and I quietly whimpered with need, the sound brought me back, what the hell was I doing? I had to get away from him before I embarrassed myself any further
"I, er, need to go disappear in my room for a bit again. It's too much, I mean, er ..." I didn't bother to finish, I just ran upstairs. I burst into my room, slammed the door behind me and sat on my bed, back against the headboard and arms clutching my knees to my chest. My heart was still racing. I wasn't inexperienced, but the extent of my want for him worried me. We were going to have to be in close proximity for a while, I did not want to be fighting myself the entire time. Nothing could happen between us, it was too stupid and dangerous to contemplate. I rested my head on my knees and groaned. There was a knock on my door but it opened before i had a chance to reply
"Go away, my head hurts" I didn't bother to look up or even open my eyes
"I can't. What's the matter Lee? You ran up here like you were on fire"
"Too many people, headache. This room's soundproofed, it helps" I was lying but it's not like I could tell him the truth
"Oh, ok. So it's like telepathy then?"
"Mmm only so much as it gets noisy and crowded in my head when I'm around too many people. But I can't actually read thoughts. I'm not that much of a freak" my need for solitude, to process things was leeching all emotion from my voice
"I'm sorry Lee, I know you want to be alone but we need to discuss your schedule and my sleeping arrangements" he was looking around the room
"You don't expect to stay at my house do you?" it came out more like a squeak. I was back to being panicked. How was I supposed to handle having that huge man in my small, quiet, safe little house?
"Well yes actually. I can hardly protect you otherwise" he sounded amused but it just made me angry
"I don't even know you. I don't want a stranger in my home, at night whilst I'm sleeping" especially a stranger I wanted to lick and nibble all over "You could be a pervert or something" he had the sexiest smirk I had ever seen, running out of steam, I lamely added "Besides I don't have a guest room"
"Not a problem I can sleep on the couch, believe me I have slept in some god awful places in my time. Now what about your schedule?" I huffed, but one look at the stubborn set to his jaw made me realise that resistance was futile so I gestured for him to sit on the edge of the bed and talked him through my week. He didn't interrupt, just nodded every now and again
"Well what do you want to do now? Stay here, re-join the party or head home? I'll work out your security this evening"
"I should go back to the party but I can't face it. I'll just go say bye to mum and Dad then we'll leave. Oh, do you have transport?"
"No I'm afraid you are to be my chauffeur for the time being. I'll send your parents in so you don't have to go out there. Then I'll give Steven the good news" he grinned at me mischievously. Oh boy, I was definitely in trouble and I wasn't talking about the death threat.