Wolf's Lullaby

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The Egyptian River

PHILIP


“Aaaarrgh! I’m fine, for fuck’s sake! Do you really have to do that right now?!” I whined as Lola shined a light into my eyes, essentially blinding me, making me squint. She’s been on my case since the moment I opened my eyes half an hour earlier, in the cellar, poking, prodding. Though everything looked the same, the machines, the bed… something was off. Like they were just wheeled in.

“Stop your squirming! Enhance your vision, flash your eyes at me.” Lola demanded, turning the small flashlight off, a crease forming on her brow, her lips set in a tight line. I narrowed my eyes, opening my mouth to argue more, but caught David glowering at me. He was still here... and he looked like shit. His hair, a mess, gray circles under his eyes, a day’s old stubble on his jaw, his shirt untucked and unbuttoned at the collar, the sleeves rolled to his elbows... I don’t think I ever saw him like this… all disheveled. A flash of a memory of him kneeling at my mom’s bed after she passed filtered through my mind, but I shot it down immediately, frowning.

Heaving a heavy sigh at Lola’s unwavering stare, I relented, “Fine! Feast your eyes!” and with a deep breath, let my eyes glow. Lola’s face scrunched up, the crease in her brows deepening as she shook her head, a puzzled expression taking over her features.

“They are green... but…” she turned toward David, who was frowning even more now and the two exchanged confused looks.

“Of course they are. What…” I didn’t finish my thought because with no warning Lola turned and flashed that light at me again, making me instinctively close my eyes.

“Gods damn it! Can you stop!” I swatted the light away, moving my head back. Lola didn’t back down. The woman grabbed my jaw with a surprisingly firm grip, a stubborn look on her face as she turned me to face her, pointing the light in my right eye, “I said stop squirming. Let me look at you!” After a few seconds, she pulled away, frowning, then looked at my eye again. She released my jaw and turned to David. “His right eye...it’s not that easily discernible, but the smallest section turned blue…” she said, wonder and bafflement lacing her tone. What the fuck?! What was she on about?

David pushed away from the wall he was leaning on, straightening, his intent gaze drilling holes into Lola. “What? What does that mean?”

Lola shook her head. “I don’t… I’ll need to do more tests…”

My patience already thin, on a verge of snapping I growled my irritation, “Would you two stop talking like I’m not in the room! What the fuck is going on?!” Both of them snapped their attention to me.

“Oh, great, you can see me and hear me! I’m here! Phew... for a moment I thought to go check if I was waiting in the hallway! Now, if you two don’t fucking mind, fill me in on what’s happening, hmm?!” I snapped, gritting my teeth, glaring at their stupefied expressions.

David snapped out of it first, scowling. He pointed a finger at me, almost growling the words. “You, watch your tone…”

“It’s okay, David, he’s right...” Lola interjected, bringing her hand up to stop him from chewing me out.

She filled me in on my full moon escapade. She also told me I was fast asleep afterwards, no meds needed, which was extremely unusual. And I slept for two whole days. Her hands twitched almost imperceptibly, but the itch to start whatever tests she wanted to perform didn’t elude me. She tried to seem professional, confident, but her body snitched on her. She was equal part’s excited and terrified with the new development.

I, on the other hand, had no idea what to think. My senses dulled, and I felt slightly sluggish, but at the same time weirdly revitalized. Which made no fucking sense. No headache either. Not even the dull kind. So I focused on that. Who cared if I had a tiny splotch of blue in my right eye? It was just a splash of color. There was no need to panic if my body didn’t rebel. Even if I was done and ready to go upstairs to take a shower, wolf down a full chocolate cake that Stephan promised, Lola wasn’t.

“Let’s go. I need to do one more check on you.” She said, waving at me to follow her out of the room and into the one with the giant magic circle I had to sit my ass in the center of, so she can do her witchy scanning, healing stuff or whatnot.

“Aaaah, do I have to? We did that already a few months back, and I was fine. I’m fine now!” I continued my tantrum, though still obediently following her, while Lola completely ignored my protests as she entered a spacious room. Except for a wooden table, a chair and a few shelves propped on bare concrete walls, there was no more furniture inside. A few vials, pouches, dried herbs that perfumed the space, making me scrunch up my nose and a wooden box laid atop of the table. Candles lining the shelves, lit the inside of the room, casting a flickering golden-orange glow that mingled with a colorful array of sunlight as it passed through a small stained glass window, The temperature in the room was lower than in my chamber, prompting goosebumps to cover my skin. Though spacious, the room seemed to shrink as I stepped inside, the air stuffy. It always seemed a bit claustrophobic, unnerving when I had to be examined here. Thankfully, that happened only once or twice a year.

Lola immediately opened the wooden box and set out to affix four large onyx crystals to a certain position that formed a rhomboid inside the huge glyph inscribed circle in the middle of the room.

“Sit.”

I huffed my annoyance, grumbling as I shuffled to the middle and sat down on the concrete floor, crossing my arms over my chest.

Lola, not even glancing at me, strategically placed mirrors around the circle so that when she switched the light source on- her small flashlight, she placed on a chair- turned it and pointed it to one mirror the light would bounce around the room, forming an eight-point star over the circle, trapping me inside it. She sat on the floor too, facing me as she gripped an onyx pendant in one hand and grabbed a handful of the irritating powder, that always made me sneeze and my head swim from a small pouch, she grabbed from the table and attached to her belt at her hip, blowing it on the circle. Rowan berries. That was how it smelled.

Closing her eyes for a second, she gathered a lungful of air and, on the exhale; she opened her eyes, the brown melting to a glowing white as her lips moved in a silent chant.

I hated this shit. Not that it was painful or anything, just highly uncomfortable. The tingly, crawling sensation ghosted over my skin, before it turned into a wave of unpleasant hums, sinking deeper inside. Like waves rippling through my blood vessels, nerve endings, and each cell. Whispering, communicating their secrets to her. My vulnerabilities, weaknesses.

Betrayal. My body ratting me out to the witch.

And ratted me out, it did.

Lola stopped her chanting for a moment, frowning, “You’ve been half-shifting a lot lately, getting injured, what did you do?” David that was standing at the entrance of the room all this time, turned his scathing gaze to me.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity. Fuck.

How the fuck did she read that?!

I swallowed the budding panic, willing my heartbeat to steady, so I don’t trip on my tongue. Partial truth should work, right? No way she’ll figure out I had been fighting in an underground ring. I mean, my body couldn’t tell her that, but my mouth could, so I needed to sound convincing. Straightening my spine, I dared not glance at David, who’s eyes seared through my profile as I reciprocated Lola’s frown with one of my own, bracing myself for the lies to spill from my tongue.

I shrugged, my voice came out even, “I’ve been antsy lately... Restless, so, me and the boys ran to blow off some steam, which turned into racing, which turned to shoving…” And the Oscar for this heart wrenching performance goes to... moi.

Lola’s frown fell away, and she nodded, then continued to chant. I chanced a glimpse at David… he still had a crease in his brows, the corners of his lips turned down.

“You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?” David challenged, his scrutinizing green gaze roving my face as he leaned on the door frame, crossing his arms over his chest. I was aware I had been skirting a proverbial line in the sand with what I was doing behind everyone’s back, but I had to live with my limitations, not them. And I was fully aware of them. I never pushed beyond of what I deemed safe for myself. Sure, it was cutting it close with me throwing punches in the ring, but I was the one in control, not my stupid condition. Me. Of course, whatever concoction Lola was feeding me helped rein in my rage, cleared my head, made it more possible, I guess.

“Half-shifting is safe for me. Don’t you scratch an itch when you have one? It’s like that.” I said, my tone verging on condescending only made David glare at me harder, his jaw working.

“Yes, I know,” he gritted out, “But you shouldn’t rough house too much, or fight too often. Don’t be a selfish prick.”

I gnashed my teeth, ready to pour out an onslaught of defensive harsh words, but I choked down the urge. No matter how much I detested the man, his words poked the sleeping guilt, stirring it back to consciousness, its clawed hands scraping the inside of my throat, making it hard to swallow. Instead of arguing, I opened and closed my mouth a few times before I pushed the words out, “I know. I’ll be careful...” Lies. They tasted like acid on my tongue.

“All done.” Lola announced, bringing our attention to her as her eyes dimmed to their natural color.

“He’s fine...” the words came out sounding more like a question to herself. Her brows drew together, eyes seemed to look through me as she gnawed on her bottom lip. She blinked after a moment or two as whatever thoughts swirling in her mind settled. Pasting a strained smile on her face, she got up to turn off the flashlight. The eight-point star disappeared, setting me free.

“There don’t seem to be any abnormalities… But just to be on a safe side, I’ll do more testing. Especially nearing the next full moon. For now, you continue to take your meds and please refrain from half-shifting till we figure this out.” She added, patting me on the shoulder, then squeezing lightly, giving me a reassuring look, then gathered the crystals. At her recommendation, David raised an obnoxious brow at me. I barely resisted the urge to roll my eyes as I got up.

“So, I can go now?” I asked Lola, and she nodded, packing up the crystals in a wooden box. I turned to leave but David’s arm blocked my path. He gave me a pointed glare, jutting his chin towards Lola, waiting. His eyes screaming at me to stop being a rude jackass. True, I was being rude, though I hated he was the one to remind me. Lola didn’t deserve that, so I complied.

“Lola,” I called, turning back to face her. She lifted her eyes to me and I bowed, tapping my chest twice over my heart. The corners of her lips tipped upwards as she nodded. Turning back to face David again, I raised a brow as he nodded his approval and removed his hand from the door frame.

“Alpha,” I muttered under my breath, not bothering to bow to him as I brushed past, moving down the hallway towards the stairs of the cellar. There were no guards stationed outside, but I did spot Dragos leaning against his vehicle, smoking, waiting for David as I rounded a corner going to my porch. His dark eyes followed my movement, posture visibly tense as if I might shift this moment and rip him to shreds. Ignoring him, I climbed up the few steps to my front door.

“Oh, the prodigal son returns!” Stephan yelled the moment I entered my house. I heard feet padding over the wooden floor, and both Stephan and Luca came from the living room. Both held a plate with a generous piece of chocolate cake in their hands, stuffing their faces without a care in the world.

“You are eating my cake... Really?” I deadpanned.

“I’ll have you know, it’s called stress eating. David didn’t let us go downstairs, but Lola said you were fine. Are you? What happened?” Stephan said, approaching me and offering me his piece. I brought my hand up slowly, pushing the plate away from my face as I sidestepped him going into the kitchen, my eyes zeroing in on the rest of the cake sitting atop the kitchen aisle.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I mean, I feel fine. Better than usual, actually. But Lola wanted to make sure.” I said as I grabbed a fork from a drawer, already planting my ass in the chair, ready to dig into the dark chocolaty goodness. I didn’t like sweets much, but I loved the bitter-sweet flavor of the dark chocolate.

“Ah, yeah, I apparently developed a splotch in my eye for some reason.” I added around a bite.

“WHAT?!” In a breath, both of them got in my face, their wide eyes bouncing between mine, searching. Leaving the fork in my mouth, I pushed away their heads with my palms. “It’s fine. It’s just a teeny tiny spot, for fuck’s sake. Lola did her circle thingy and gave me a clean bill of health. Must have been a fluke.” My words seemed to do little to reassure them. Their worried stares bore into me.

“Seriously, it’s cool. Besides, I’m trusting what my body tells me, and I’m good.”

The two exchanged looks, concern still not ebbing away from their features completely as they slowly took seats at the aisle across from me. The beats of silence stretched only disrupted by Stephan’s fingers tapping over the aisle’s surface.

“Are you gonna eat that? If not, I’ll take it of your hands.” I stretched over the aisle to grab Luca’s piece of cake, but he seized his troubled hole-digging into my face and promptly swatted my hand away. “Shoo, grabby hands! This is mine. You have almost an entire cake!”

“Tch, stingy. You know I need a lot of sugar after the episodes.”

Without answering, Luca stabbed the cake, taking a huge chunk of it and stuffing his mouth, his gaze never leaving mine, while guarding his plate with his other hand. Idiot.

“Hey, here. I charged it, it was dead.” Stephan slid my phone over the aisle. “You better contact Anna or she promised to give you a wedgie, even your descendants are going to feel.” I winced, believing in each and every word of that threat to the point that my ass clenched involuntarily.

“Ah, yeah, you might have a message or two from your girlfriend. She asked me about you in school, was worried you dropped dead, but I told her you passed out with fever. Shrimp, right?” Luca snickered, wiggling his brows. A scowl took over my face, in complete contrast to the happy flippity flopping happening in my chest at his mention of Tara and using the word girlfriend to describe her. I didn’t want to analyze the emotions that stirred right now, and was doing my damnest to stop the heat climbing my neck to reach my face.

“What?! Philip has a girlfriend?! Who? Since when?!” Stephan screeched, excited like a kid in Disneyland. Ah crap. His weirdo switch is about to flip.

“She’s not my girlfriend. We are just friends.” I said, staring intently at Luca, whose grin turned smug as he completely disregarded my answer and said, “The new girl. The human. Tara was it?” The tone and way her name rolled from his lips made me want to throat punch him. Instead, I choked my fork.

“Oh, the tiny brunette? So that’s your type, huh? She is pretty cute…. Ah, I can’t believe the day has come... My boy is all grown up now…” Stephan theatrically placed one hand on his chest as he wiped an imaginary tear off his cheek, gazing at me like a proud mother. Dumbass.

Luca’s smug grin turned wider and, not taking his eyes off me, he raised a brow, his voice getting irritatingly low and velvety. Ew. “Yeah, she is very cute. Not really what I usually go for. But I could get used to the sweet and innocent type. You don’t mind me hitting on her, do you, Philip? Since she is just a friend.” Over my dead body. Whatever restraint I had snapped, the fork bent and died, all mangled in my fist. The chair scraped and crashed to the floor as I abruptly stood up, reaching for him over the aisle, claws extended. Bastard avoided me, nearly clawing his eyes out, all the while laughing. The raving lunatic!

I was about to jump over the aisle and wrangle his neck, but the weasel hid behind Stephan, who had about enough of our bullshit.

“Enough with your cat fight ladies. Philip, sit down and breathe,” he raised his voice slightly, but his tone was soothing, and reluctantly I backed down, balling my fists. He turned to Luca, and with the same tone asked, “Do you have a death wish? You took it too far.” A still chuckling Luca, who peered from behind him, sporting a shit-eating grin pointed at me, “See, he obviously likes the girl! But he splashes around in the Egyptian river!” I blinked at him, then frowned. What the fuck was the idiot saying?

My perplexed expression drew a chuckle from Stephan, “The Nile, Philip. The Nile, You’re in the Nile.”

I wasn’t in denial; I thought an hour later after the two left as I spread out on the couch in my living room. Luca had to run to school, the idiot had bad attendance, he already missed three periods, and Stephan went back to the auto shop.

Tara... we were becoming friends. I liked her as a person.

You don’t mind me hitting on her, do you, Philip? Since she is just a friend.”

My blood pressure shot up as Luca’s words rang in my head. No matter if he was my friend, knowing his track record with girls, if he ever tried anything on Tara... I swore to gods I would render him sterile.

Not her. Just not her.

The thought made me glower.

Okay, maybe I was a little in denial.

This… liking someone, if we were going to be anal about labeling shit...it was new. And I didn’t do well with new.

With those thoughts on the back-burner, I turned my phone on, finding many missed calls from Anna, and a text from Vera that caught my attention, inciting annoyance. I haven’t gone to a fight this month. I skipped out, and she had been incessantly sending messages about each fight that was organized.

Cat: Hey, they want to know when are you coming back? There is one scheduled for this weekend, should I add you?

Me: No. I have a family thing. Don’t contact me anymore. I’ll contact you when I’m ready.

After sending the message, I blocked her number, knowing she would probably still try to contact me. I’m not their fucking property. I don’t give a shit that they are asking for me.

Theo’s birthday was this weekend, and I didn’t plan on missing out on seeing him. Though I loathed setting foot in that house, I truly missed the little runt.

As I scrolled down through my messages, there they were. New ones from Shrimp, and my muscles couldn’t stop the grin from spreading over my face, nor could I stop the hiccup in my chest. The first one was some silly gif from two days ago, the second one from this morning. Another gif, but this one was an illustration of a cutesy looking cup of tea and a ‘get well soon’ spelled out in the steam. My thumbs danced over the screen, readying to send a reply, when my vision blurred and a high-pitched ringing started in my ears as if someone plugged my skull into the guitar amplifier and was playing with the volume. I would have sworn I heard unintelligible whispers as I clumped my palms over my ears, gritting my teeth willing the ringing to stop. And as suddenly as it started, it seized.

Panting, my heart beating in my throat, I raised to a sitting position. Something warm trickled over my upper lip and I wiped it with the back of my hand, red staining my skin. I was bleeding. I got up and hurriedly padded over to my bathroom, flipping the light on, taking the look in the mirror. Sure enough, there was blood trickling from both of my nostrils. Small droplets dotted the white ceramic basin for a few heartbeats, then stopped.

I hoped to shit that it had nothing to do with the recent development of my condition. The blue in my right eye… really barely noticeable. You had to get close and gaze intently into my eyes to discern it. I knew it was there, but seeing it for myself… An uneasiness slithered over my insides, but I cut that thing’s head clean off, hoping it wont sprout seven more.

Nope, fuck that shit!

I took my clothes off and jumped in the shower, letting the warm water wash away whatever remnants of the budding anxiety off. When I was done, dried and dressed, I went back to the living room and picked up my phone from where it landed on the carpet during the ear ringing incident. There was a message from Luca on my phone.

Casanova-wannabe: I’m sending you a surprise today after school.

You’re welcome.

And you owe me.

The fuck was he talking about?!

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Hyelooo dear Inkies, thank you for reading, I hope you are having a great week XD

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