Eternally

We'd always been together yet we'd always been apart.


This is my sequel to the 'Shiver' trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater. Honestly, I think its one of the best sagas I've ever read. Forever was left on a bit of a cliffhanger so I wanted to kind of carry it on. If you haven't read the three books, I suggest you read them because they are amazing.

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4. Cole

3.

Once Sam left for work, I'd decided that I'd go check out Beck's shed, see if any new arrivals were there. It was early days but maybe one of the new wolves were having that awkward shift-into-a-human, shift-back-into-a-wolf moments. I remembered that vividly and, unlike Sam, I was okay with it. The fake feeling of the shift, curdling in my stomach. The pain wasn't real but my mind didn't want to dull the memory of it.

My mind seemed to flinch at the use of 'Beck's' shed; it wasn't his anymore. Memories flashed by my eyes; the grey wolf, lying, dead at the side of the road; Sam's broken body as he saw his non-biological father die in another form.

Despite myself, I felt bad for the guy.

Anyway, I made the decision to get changed and then go to the shed, but my body stayed locked beside the sink. It overlooked the large back yard, where the grass grew into a rough, bumpy forest floor. The trees waved their spindly limbs at me, leaves budding on their thin branches. There was no ice on the ground or on the trees but I could see the trees waving in a breeze. Goose bumps washed over my unreliable skin. I never felt firmly Cole. I was born to be a wolf; I was born to leave Cole St. Clair behind.

After I looked out into the forbidding forest for over ten minutes, something caught my eye. Something--a movement of dark grey, in the trees. Blinking liquid brown eyes stared out at me. They seemed to watch my every move. Sighing, I braced my arms against the counter. The wolf stepped out of the caressing arms of the trees, its paws gingerly padding against the fluffy grass.

It twitched. The warmth appeared to be getting to it. The wolf looked immensely sad and its eyes were hollow with hunger. The feeling of sorriness came on very suddenly. I remembered that raw, blistering feeling of an unsuccessful winter, with a crap hunt. It felt as though your stomach was so hungry that it was turning on itself, gnawing on the lining of the stomach that kept the rest of your body safe from the acid it contained.

Something curdled in my gut. Guilt, or pity, I think.

Rolling my eyes, I threw the fridge door open and grabbed the pork loin that I think was meant for tonight. Whatever. Sam wouldn't care--

I whirled back to look at the wolf. Dark grey, brown eyes. 

Grace.

Well, Sam definitely wouldn't care if it was for Grace. If I squinted, just so that I could see her brown eyes, I could imagine her as a girl. My hand suddenly went for my pocket, to grab my phone, but stopped. I couldn't phone Sam just yet. She was still a wolf; even if she was a wolf that looked close to shifting.  Instead of calling Sam, I darted for the back door. The plastic-wrapped meat felt heavy and cold in my palm as I crossed the yard. Grace retreated backwards a few steps into the woods but her nose was quivering. She wouldn't go far if there was a promise of food.

Despite the heavy, humid air that could only mean summer, I found myself shivering. Not the stomach-twisting shivers that meant change, but the usual ones that human people got. I licked my dry lips as I advanced closer to the wolf. Grace started growling, a low rumble in her chest but her lips didn't draw back, her teeth didn't show, which generally meant I was safe. Still, just in case, I stopped a little while back from her. She sat down on her haunches which was rather unnatural for a wolf--if an unknown  enemy was there, she should be on her guard. This only proved she was close to shifting. Her human emotions and actions were bubbling at her surface.

For Sam's sake, I knew I would have to guide her back to the house with the meat and encourage her to shift now. For once in my life, I was determined to do something good for him.

"Grace," I said firmly. She cocked her head to the side, as if acknowledging her name. I nodded. "Yes, that's you. Now, listen. You know Sam? Your boyfriend? Yeah, he's pretty much dead inside. I gave him another bout of the cure and that's why he didn't join you this winter. But we need to give you the cure too, Grace. You know you want to live with Sam forever, don't you? So, say goodbye to your wolf and follow me inside."

I didn't have a clue if she understood me and frankly, I didn't care. I just unwrapped the meat with a look of disdain on my face and waved the meat towards her. Her eyes sparked and she stood up quickly, her tail high and still. Shaking the pork, I started backing towards the house. Grace looked behind her. There was hulking shapes in the forest behind her; blurs of white, grey, black. Then, she shook her head and tiptoed forwards, her ears flattened to her skull. Sure that she was following, I trusted her to let me turn and walk more confidently back to the large house.

No point going to the shed today.

My bare feet hit polished floor. I turned, making sure she was still there. She was, her shoulders hunched. 

"Damn you, Sam," I hissed.

"Damn me why?"

I spun, startling Grace. Sam was standing in the living room, too far away to see what was happening. I swallowed.

"Um...why are you here?" My voice was dry.

He shook his keys at me. "Forgot my keys. Why are you holding our dinner?"

I nibbled my lip, debating if I should let him down easy or what. In  the end, I didn't have to. I threw the meat into the center of the empty dining room. Grace followed swiftly after it, her jaws chomping down hard on the uncooked food. The sloppy, bloody mess hanging from her teeth, she swiftly looked for an escape. I swiftly shut the back door, not just to keep her in here but also to shield myself from the awful look on Sam's face.

Pure and utterly undisguised pain.

"Grace..." Her name whistled out his teeth.

When I turned back, Grace was looking at Sam, frozen, all apart from her limbs, which were starting to tense and twitch. Her legs suddenly folded and she crashed to the ground, quivering and howling. The meat slumped onto the floor; a pool of blood surrounded it. Although it was only animal blood, I saw Sam's fingers disappear under his jumper and I knew that he was running his fingers over his scars. The ones his parents had ruthlessly inflicted to banish the demon from inside of their seven-year-old son.

It was almost as though I was watching a scene from a movie. One that ended badly.

The whining turned into guttural screeches. The wolf convulsed on the floor, bending into shapes that wasn't possible for a human nor a wolf. Claws thumped into scrabbling fingers. Fur peeled backwards, off of her, replaced by shiny, unblemished skin. Howls turned to screams. 

And suddenly, Grace was free of her seasonal skin.

One last change that I almost felt myself. The snap of a summer skull replacing the winter one.

Sam and I were still. He was frozen while I was choosing to still myself.

But Grace. She was sobbing into the floor, her dark blonde hair shielding her face. Quickly, I grabbed the furry blanket off of the table--I'd left it there in case there were any incidents, like this one--and tossed it over her naked body. I knew Sam would pummel me for indecency to his girlfriend if I didn't.

Sam collapsed to the ground and wrapped his arms around the shaking girl. I could still see muscles jumping under her visible skin and her limbs still twitched. I knew that feeling. The wanting of your body to change into another, simpler form.

"Grace," he whispered into her hair, his yellow eyes tightly shut. "Grace, oh God."

She mumbled something unintelligible against him, still crying, but couldn't seem to move. He just hugged her tighter and opened his eyes, glaring pointedly at me.

"Cole," he pleaded. "The cure. Please say you have some."

I nodded, not replying with words. I couldn't seem to fathom any. Disappearing upstairs, I tried to shake the images of a simple-minded wolf bursting into a complicated teenage girl. It was always worse watching another person shift, even if you couldn't feel the pain of your own. If it was you shifting, you could shut your eyes and block out the fact that your skin was peeling off and a wolf was bursting from inside of you. But if it was someone else, there was something disgustingly enchanting about the way you were torn from your own body, and stuffed into that of an animals.

My bedroom was still a mess. Clothes everywhere, half-eaten food on plates and the telltale claw marks on walls that seemed to yell, AN UNCONTROLLABLE WOLF WAS HERE. I blinked, willing the mess to go away, not in my room, but in my head. It was far too cluttered up there. 

My wardrobe had become the home for all my successful concoctions. Which was one. There was also a notebook, the one I'd scrawled all the experiments I'd done on myself in. Many had side-effects. Many of the side-effects were, 'Quick death if not saved by someone quickly, i.e. Sam Roth or Isabel Culpeper.'

Isabel. She was gone too but not in the same way as many of the people I knew. Winter hadn't stolen her. She moved. Moved away from the craziness of Mercy Falls.

My hand gripped a vial of the cure, and then I yanked open a drawer to grasp a needle. I was overcome with the familiarity of the action. Sometimes, even now, I wished for the release that only a needle or a pill could give. I wished I could still slide a needle under my unreliable skin and slide into a much more colorful world than the real one. I wished I could still pop a pill onto my tongue and swallow, allowing the drugs to cloud my brain and system.

But I couldn't. Not just because of the pacing wolf inside of me. But because of the two people downstairs. I never thought that Cole St. Clair, madness encased in a body, could ever care for someone, other than himself. I don't think Sam did either. But I do. I want to protect Sam and Grace. I want them to have a good life. 

I wanted to make sure that they had that before I slipped away into a wolf, abandoning Cole forever. It didn't even feel like the wolf was the fake body; the fake body was the one I wore now.

"Cole!"

The urgent yell jerked me into action. I slammed the drawer and doors shut and raced back downstairs. Once I was in the living room, I threw the needle and vial at Sam. His eyebrows pinched as he caught them.

"Cole! I don't know what to do--"

"I know," I replied, scrambling to the kitchen. "Don't do anything yet."

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