❝I grew up to the smell of the lake and the feeling of the woods.❞
“I don’t know about this,” Noah muttered as we walked down the sidewalk.
“Don’t back out on me now, we still have to do this project. I already told my parents about you coming.” I tell him, patting his shoulder reassuringly.
I could still see the hesitation on his face as we walked, the cool air brushing over the bangs that laid over his forehead. The temperature in the area was dropping and I wouldn’t be surprised if it snowed, it is Colorado after all.
“If you say so,” he replies back in soft tone.
A car passed us, bringing along a whoosh of chilling air that I couldn’t help but shiver violently to. My eyes shift over to Noah to see him walking perfectly fine.
“You aren’t cold?” I ask, pulling the thin sweater closer to my body, trying to find warmth.
His eyes glided away from the surroundings ahead and toward me, searching my face.
“No.” he comments, “why?”
I shake my head, stopping at the end of the street then looking both ways before crossing over to the next with Noah in tow, and down the familiar street that leads to my house.
“It’s just that, you’re wearing nothing but shorts and a plain T-shirt with no jacket and it’s below sixty right now,” I tell him, chuckling.
“I-I don’t know,” he says nervously, his eyes darting away from mine.
I narrow mine and reach my hand up to feel his cheek, excepting it to be cold to the touch, I was surprised when I felt nothing but warmth. My mouth hung open.
“Wow! Your body is hot!” I exclaim, both of us halting in our steps as my hands move down to his shoulders and down his arms feeling the same warmth.
For a split second, I drift my eyes back up to his face and could see his cheeks burning dark pink color, I blink at him and process the words I spoke. A blush of my own crawls up my neck and settles on my face.
I become a stuttering mess, “I, uh, I didn’t mean it like that, um, I-I was talking about your—oh would you look at that.” I point across the street.
“There goes my house,” I state and grab his wrist, pulling him along behind as we jaywalk to the other side and up the small sidewalk that led to the steps of my house.
Before we even made it to the first step, the wooden door swung open and out stepped Dad a hard expression on his face.
I waved, dropping Noah’s hand. “Hey, Dad.”
His eyes briefly snap over to me and soften a bit before he turns his attention back towards Noah, who was staring intensively at Dad.
“Who’s this?” he asks.
One of my eyebrows twitch down, “Didn’t Mom tell you? I was bringing a friend over to work on a project with.” I tell him, slowly moving up the steps.
Noah continued to stand on the bottom step, his hands slightly curled into a fist.
“Oh,” Dad finally mumbled, stepping out of the way.
I motion to Noah with my hand and he snaps out wherever haze he was in and makes his way up the steps and beside me as I walk through the threshold, before he could make it inside Dad slaps his hand on top of his shoulder.
“Dad!” I call out, swiveling around on my heel the same moment a small growl resonated.
Noah’s body was tense as he stared eye to eye with Dad who’s lips were pulled back, baring teeth in an animalistic way. He lowered his head down toward his ear and whispered something, that caused his hand to curl once more. Before I could step in, he pulled away.
“Have fun,” Dad grits stiffly, watching as Noah walks over toward me.
I went to ask him what the hell happened, he lifted his hand and walked into the living room. Blinking, I turn toward Noah who wore an angry expression.
“You okay?” I ask, standing beside him.
“I’m fine.” was his short response.
I stared at him for a second before opening my mouth. “What did he say—”
“—can we just work on the project, please?” he states before walking up the steps.
I stare at the back of his head as he walked up the wooden steps, my mind swirling. A pang began in my chest when I realized no one was going to tell me anything soon, knowing, in the end, I wouldn’t like the outcome.
I twirl the end of the pencil on the corner of my mouth while gazing out the window. The sky turning a bright orange as the sunset above the horizon, I subconsciously slide my hand down to my ankle that was once injured; rubbing the soreness away. I look down toward the spot where I last saw that wolf, my mind flashing back to last night.
My feet carried me down the steps, the minute the wolf was gone, I jump down the last two just in time to catch Dad walking inside the house from the back door. Out of breath, I lean against the doorway.
"What was. . that?" I ask once my breath is normal.
He shuts the door, locking it and looking back towards me. “What was what?” he asks, moving toward the fridge.
"Don’t play dumb, it doesn’t suit you," I tell him, earning a glare. “I saw what you did out there."
That statement makes him set the glass cup and milk carton down on the counter then placing both hands on the edge.
“That was nothing."
I laugh sarcastically, “So you’re telling me that simply staring at an unnatural large wolf until it was gone, was nothing?"
He nodded, his lips tilted to the side. “Pretty much."
I sigh, stalking further into the kitchen. “There’s something you aren’t telling me." I say, “What is it?"
Dad walks around the counter, toward me and stops till I have to slightly crane my neck up to look him dead in the eye.
"Nothing you should worry that head of yours, about." he utters, resting his hands on my shoulder.
I relax a little, “Are you sure?"
He eyes moved around, scanning my face before giving me a small smile. “Yes. I’m sure."
I snap back to reality and whip around to see Noah gazing at me with creased brows.
“Yeah?” I mutter.
He sets his pencil down on the top of his notebook and scoots down to my side. “You alright?” he asks.
I look down in my lap, now twirling the pencil in between my fingers. Shaking my head, I fall back onto the bed; my hair flaring out like a fan around my head, I ran a hand down my face.
“No, I’m really not,” I answer, staring at the ceiling.
“What’s bothering you?”
I turn my head to the side, connecting my eyes with his honey brown ones. “It’s my parents,” I start. “Ever since we moved here they’ve been acting. . weird.”
Noah tilts his head, motioning for me to go on, and I do, I need to get these things off my chest.
“I get the feeling that they’re. . . keeping something from me and it’s making me hesitant on trusting really anyone.” I utter, furrowing my brows.
I begin to sit up and run a hand through my hair, gripping the roots. “And don’t get me started on the town’s people; mainly everyone.”
“What?” his eyes burn with curiosity and were doe-like.
I smile a bit, “I receive so many stares and it’s unnerving.” I say, “It’s like they’re staring into my soul trying to figure me out. I don’t like it.”
A moment of silence engulfs us, I stare out the window again, seeing small white balls of specs falling from the sky. My eyes began to un-focus.
“Then there’s that time in the woods, the day I got the injury on my ankle.” my voice lowering below a whisper. “If I would have known there were wolves in the area, I would have never gone into the forest that night.”
I turn my body towards Noah, “Have you ever seen a red-eyed wolf?” I ask.
He shook his head. “All my life I have lived here, I haven’t seen one,” he told me.
“This one was. . .aggressive, dangerous, and downright horrifying. Never feared my life before.” I laugh at myself, shaking the images away.
“There’s something with this town, and I plan on finding just what.” I declare, looking him in the eye.
“You with me?”
Noah looks at my held out hand, before drifting his eyes upward to stare at my face. Making a sound in the back of his throat, he nods, clasping our hands together.