The haze that had shrouded my mind was starting to drift away and I became acutely aware of my surroundings. Someone was talking loudly, or maybe shouting, but it was all muffled to me and I couldn’t make out the words. As the haze lifted even more, the words became clearer and I was starting to comprehend what the conversation was about. There was another voice speaking in a hushed tone and it was slightly familiar.
“You didn’t have to bite him!” A strong female voice yelled. I realised they were talking about me.
“I couldn’t help myself! He was right there! You would’ve done the same!” The familiar voice said back.
“You shouldn’t have gone out on a full moon!”
“How was I supposed to know he was going to be there?” The voice was getting more and more agitated. I realised I was lying on a bed when someone sat next to me, making the mattress dip slightly with their weight.
“Guys, I think he’s waking up,” a new voice said from beside me.
“Jace?” The familiar voice said. I slowly opened my eyes just to close them again as the light glared at me.
“Turn the big light off!” The voice said. He was closer to me this time. “Jace?” I tried to open my eyes again, this time the lights were dim and more comfortable. I looked around the room for a few moments; the walls were a soft brown colour that was strangely soothing and I noticed a large mahogany door that looked like the secret passage to Narnia.
“Are you alright?” I gazed up at the man and instantly recognized the floppy blonde hair and the smouldering auburn eyes. I glared at him. He sighed and let out a small chuckle.
“I take that as a yes,” he smiled at me.
“Blake, you’re so rude!” The female said as she pushed her way past him and stood next to the bed I was lying on. Her hair was a fiery red with eyes to match. She was a lot shorter than the man, who I now knew was called Blake, but she seemed to have this big presence about her that made up for her lack of height.
“So your name is Blake?” I asked. My voice came out hoarse and I clutched my throat as it burned.
“Yes,” he smiled. He handed me a cup full of a red liquid that smelled like berries. “Here, drink it; it’ll help your throat.”
“I’m Avalon by the way,” the red haired girl said.
“And I’m Leo,” the guy sitting next to me said.
“You obviously all know who I am,” I smiled awkwardly, wondering how exactly they knew who I was.
“Yeah, we know who are you, more or less,” Avalon said. “But what we don’t understand is why you ran back into the forest?” She looked at me with a weird expression. I shrugged and remembered the night.
“I guess I just realised that I couldn’t lead the psychotic beast towards my family.”
“Was it instinct?” Leo asked with a voice slightly more animated than it should be.
“I guess so,” I replied. “Wait, how long have I been asleep?! I need to go home!”
“I’m afraid you can’t go home,” Blake said looking at me with pain in his eyes. I started to panic. Rose popped into my head.
“Rose needs me!” I threw the blanket off me.
“Jace, she’s fine. I promise. Of course, she’s worried, but she’s okay,” Avalon said with a gentle voice.
“I have to go home!” I shouted, my voice made the room vibrate; the pictures dotted all over the walls shook and the windows rattled. Avalon and Leon looked at me with gaping mouths.
“Told you he had it in him!” Blake said with a smug smile. I looked at him, confused about what he had just said. Avalon and Leon nodded in agreement, too shocked to speak. I looked from them to Blake.
“Had what in me?” I demanded.
“The power,” Blake said mystically. “Come with me, you need to stretch your legs and have everything explained to you; without anyone trying to butt in.” Blake made a point of looking at Avalon. Avalon smiled innocently at him. I looked down and realised that someone had changed my clothes. I was now wearing brown, like mud, coloured trousers and a forest green top. I was starting to sense a theme and I decided to just follow him instead of kicking up more of a fuss.
Blake walked me through the large house that he lived in with Avalon and Leon. Each of them had their own room; naturally, Blake had the biggest. The living room was a huge room with a projector fitted to the ceiling instead of a TV. He showed me their state of the art kitchen, that had an archway that lead to the dining room. I gasped as I saw the beautiful painting that hung on the largest side of the dining room.
“This is absolutely stunning,” I said as I fingered the figures that were painted along the enormous canvas.
“It was my great grandfather’s, and it was his grandfather that painted it,” Blake said as he came to stand next to me. I walked along the painting and gazed at each of the gorgeous faces painted on the figures. I stopped as I got to a set of twins. I looked at Blake who stood, staring at the ground.
“Blake, please explain this to me,” I said pointing at the faces of Rosie and I.
“Well, let’s call it a premonition. My great grandfather told my father the story of it once, but he forgot it and didn’t tell me,” Blake sighed. “I may have the answers for some of what you want to know but even I’m still clueless about some of my history. I’m sorry.” His voice was full of regret and a sadness which I didn’t understand.
“Come on,” Blake said and led me out of the room again. We walked out of the doors into the garden. I gazed out into the distance to see where it stopped.
“It doesn’t end,” Blake said as if he were reading my mind.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I own the land that the forest sits on, and built myself this house. The forest is my playground,” Blake smiled as he held out his arms as if to boast his luck.
“So, it’s all yours?” I asked. I found myself smiling back at him and feeling comfortable for the first time since I had met him. His eyes sparkled in the sun and there was a certain beauty about him. I felt the little strings in my heart tug again, like the night I had first met him. He nodded towards the vastness of the forest and started jogging off. I wondered if my legs could cope with running, they were achy from lying down for a long time. I sighed and ran after him, taking off at a much faster pace than I expected.
“Woah,” I whispered to myself. I saw Blake up ahead; much further ahead than I expected him to be. He waved, as if he was taunting me. I let out a growl and ran faster to catch up to him. I dipped and ducked through the trees. I could hear the wind zipping past my ears and smiled as the adrenaline pumped through my veins. I reached Blake and he gave me a smile and patted me on the back.
“Do you feel it?” He asked me with a grin that revealed dimples on his cheeks.
“The rush?” I asked. Surprisingly I wasn’t out of breath and as I inhaled I felt the rush of the crisp spring air flood my lungs.
“Yeah,” Blake smiled.
“Blake?” I asked tepidly.
“Yes, Jace?” His voice was much more relaxed than earlier.
“What am I?”
“You mean ‘what are we?’” He smiled. “We are the Children of the Moon, Creatures of the Night.”
“What?” I asked.
“Werewolves!” Blake laughed. His eyes glimmered blood red when he said that word.
“Fuck off!” I said, scowling at him. “Be serious!”
“I am serious,” he said. He smiled slightly and shrugged.
“I’m a werewolf…?” I asked.
“Yep,” Blake said, popping the ‘P’.
“Take another breath, Jace,” Blake smiled and turned me around to face him. “Focus on the smells.” I looked him in the eyes and trust filled my heavy heart. I closed my eye and took another deep breath. My eyes flew open as a million different scents filled my nostrils.
“What do you smell?” Blake’s face was animated with excitement.
“Flowers, a deer. I can smell the town!” I said. “I smell the trees and the cars.”
“Good!” Blake said encouragingly. “What else?”
“I smell…you,” I said. “You smell, sort of like cinnamon, but with a hint of pine tree.”
“So I’ve been told,” Blake laughed. “Do you want to know what you smell like?”
“Yes,” I nodded. I smiled and sat down on the grass and took in the smells of the forest that I had never noticed before.
“You smell mostly like freshly cut grass, but you also smell a lot like burning wood.”
“It’s a nice smell,” Blake smiled. I looked at Blake to make sure he wasn’t joking.
“What else can we do?”
“Aside from shifting? Pretty much anything.”
“Teach me how to shift!?” I said excitedly. Blake laughed and shook his head.
“I can’t just teach you, it happens naturally. You have to concentrate really hard in order to be able to control it properly, and for that you need to practice for months and months; sometimes even years!”
“But if I can’t do it myself yet then how will I know when I shift?” I asked, getting slightly confused now.
“It normally happens in a Young One when they’re angry, or upset about something. It’s normally triggered by emotions that are really strong. Sometimes it can be triggered by extreme happiness.”
“So I have to get angry?”
“Did you not hear yourself earlier? When the room shook?” Blake had sat down on the grass next to me.
“Was I nearly shifting then?”
“No, but your inner Wolf wanted to come out then. The strength of your voice wasn’t human.”
“So, how can I get angry enough to shift?”
“I don’t know, but until your first shift, you can’t go anywhere near the town,” Blake said with a sorry expression.
“Why?” I asked quietly.
“Do you remember that girl that was said to be savaged by a wolf a few years ago?”
“That was Leo’s girlfriend. They had been together for two years when he got bitten. He missed her and he wanted to see her, he got so upset that he shifted and ripped her throat out.” Blake’s voice was soft as he remembered. “Do you want to do that to your friends? To Rose?”
“No,” I whispered. “So I’ll stick to the forest. Right?”
“Okay,” I said.
“Want to try something else?” Blake smiled.
“What?” I asked looking up at him.
“You have to really focus for this to work,” Blake said with a wide smile on his face.
“Okay,” I smiled back slightly; the story of Leo’s girlfriend haunting me.
“Focus on everything you see,” Blake said looking into the distance. I looked in the same direction as him and focused on the air. I gasped as tiny insects and flies became visible and as particles of pollen and dust became visible too I let out a small, undignified noise.
“Amazing, isn’t it?” Blake smiled.
“Yeah,” I said with a smile on my face.
“Focus on the distance.” I did as Blake said and laughed when I saw a squirrel climb a tree at least 300 yards away.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this.”
“I’ve been like this all my life and I’m still not used to it. Everyday there’s a new experience to have and a new sound or smell to hear.”
“All your life?” I asked surprised.
“Yeah, both of my parents were Werewolves, so it’s in my DNA and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Blake sighed.
“Why did you bite me?” I asked looking at Blake.
“That’s another story for another time,” Blake said.
“I’m thinking you’re probably starving, considering you were asleep for three days.”
“Three days!?” I practically shouted.
“Jace! Calm down,” Blake told me. I felt myself shaking and getting angrier and angrier.
“My family think I’m dead!”
“No! They don’t!” Blake held his hands out in front of him slightly trying to reassure me. He saw me shaking and started to step backwards slightly. “Jace, you need to calm down.”
“Don’t tell me what to do,” my voice was practically a roar. I yelled out as a searing pain cursed through my body. I dropped to all fours and felt my body start to distort, the noises were becoming louder and I held my ears to try and block them out. I felt the shirt rip from my body and my trousers start to split.
“Jace!” Blake’s voice was muffled. With an earth shattering roar, I sprung up back onto my feet and growled at Blake. He had shifted too and was standing a few metres back.
“Jace,” his voice was deep and echoed in my mind.
“What?!” I snarled.
“You should have told me.”
“No.” I snarled at Blake and took a few steps closer, lowering myself so I was on all fours again; I could feel instinct taking over, and instinct was telling me that Blake was a threat.
“Jace, stop,” Blake sounded concerned despite the gruffness of his voice. I growled and snapped at him. He sprung back and snarled at me.
“If that’s how you want it,” he warned me. He let out another growl and lunged forward, I retaliated. He snapped at me, just catching my neck. I yelped and felt the sting of the wound before feeling my skin heal up. I went for him and managed to grip a large chunk of his back between my teeth, he clawed at me but nothing he could do was getting me to let go. Blake bucked his back and sent me flying into a tree, which then shuddered and fell to the ground. I got back up and started circling Blake, snarling and growling at him as he did the same to me. I lunged forward to just hit a tree as Blake moved out of the way.
“Stop!” A new voice roared. I whimpered and cowered away from this new danger. My Wolf slowly started to fade as a tall figure loomed over me. I was disorientated when I had returned to my normal self. The figure threw a dressing gown at me. I caught it without any trouble.
“Put it on,” the figure’s voice was raspy and not threatening, unlike the command he gave. I put the dressing gown on and stood up making sure I was covered. Blake stood next to me and nudged me slightly. I looked at him and he smiled reassuringly. The figure stepped forward and I saw a tall man with a mop of wild curly hair on his head and eyes as blue as the Caribbean Sea. By his feet was quite a big black cat with eyes to match his owner.
“I thought cats hated dogs,” I wondered out loud.
“They do, but not Bubby. Bubby is my pet and has been since he was a kitten. Now if you’re quite done experimenting with Blake, the food is almost ready,” the man said. He turned around and strutted back towards the house with Bubby on his heels. Blake started walking forward before he noticed Leo and Avalon standing near us and watching us.
“Well done, Blake,” Avalon said sarcastically.
“I tried,” Blake replied before walking back. Leo came over to me and smiled.
“Come on,” Leo said. “You did better than me.” He smiled sadly and walked back with me, never leaving my side. Avalon walked behind us, carrying the remaining shreds of my clothes. Blake had been smart enough to take his shorts off before shifting but then he was used to this life.
As we reached the house a delicious smell filled my nose and I closed my eyes. My stomach rumbled and I blushed in embarrassment as Leo, Blake and Avalon all turned to look at me. Leo was the first to laugh.
“We’ve all been there bud,” Avalon laughed. “Let’s go eat.”
“Sounds good to me,” I said. I hadn’t seen the man again and wondered where he had gone.
“Zee doesn’t eat with us, he it’s in his study. Alone. Everday.” Leo explained.
“Can you all read minds or something?!” I asked.
“You’re like an open book Jace,” Blake explained. “Your face gives it away.”
“Right,” I sighed. I followed everyone back into the dining room and was surprised to see it filled with other people. Leo noticed me stopping and looked back.
“Don’t worry, it’s the rest of the Pack,” he smiled. “We all live here, but some are off doing perimeters all day and others are training and doing the shopping.”
“Oh, right, okay,” I said still uncertain.
“Come and sit next to me,” Leo said and sat down. There was a seat free next to him but as I went to sit down a n older guy sat down before me.
“Oops,” he smirked. “This seat is taken.” Leo punched the guy in the face and he fell flat on the floor; Leo laughed as he grabbed my arm and sat me down. I looked at the guy, shocked as he stood up with blood pouring out of his nose. He had olive skin and black hair with dark brown eyes to match. He snarled at Leo and walked off to sit somewhere else. I looked up at the others sitting around the table. A few people were whispering and pointing at me before looking at the painting along the wall. Leo leaned towards me.
“Use your hearing,” he whispered. I nodded slightly and focused on what they were saying. I concentrated on a pale fair haired girl first.
“I heard he’s a prophet and the painting’s based on a prophecy. But where’s his sister?” There was a pang in my heart at the mention of Rose. I sighed and focused on the boy next to her.
“Maybe she didn’t survive the bite?” I snarled slightly at the thought of Rose not surviving the bite like I did. I felt someone watching me and as I looked around I spotted the tall man standing at the dining room door. The room instantly hushed as one by one the rest of the Pack noticed him. He looked at me and beckoned me with a nod of his head. I slowly stood up to an echo of ‘oohs’ from the younger part of the Pack. Blake shushed them as he gazed worriedly at me. I smiled slightly and followed the man they called ‘Zee’ to the large mahogany staircase that Blake had taken me down earlier. I ran my hand along the bannister, memorizing the way that the intricate swirls felt as my fingers ran along them. We reached the top of the staircase and the man took me down a corridor I hadn’t been in before. He opened a colossal wooden door for me and let me in first.
“Sit,” he said bluntly. I obliged and sat down in one of the leather seats across the large desk that was placed in front of a vast bookshelves filled with old books covered in leather with battered spines. I took a slight whiff of the room and took in the scent of the books, the man himself smelled of the books and Earl Grey tea. He coughed a little and sat down in the armchair on the other side of the desk.
“Jace,” he said with his raspy voice.
“Hello,” I replied. I tried to sound confident but instead I sounded like a mouse that was about to be eaten by Bubby, who had jumped onto the desk and made himself comfortable under the table lamp. Zee stroked Bubby luxuriously and smiled at me. His smile was laidback and casual and all of a sudden he didn’t seem so intimidating and terrifying.
“I’m Zeus, or Zee, which is what a lot of people call me, despite me telling them not to,” he smiled.
“Some nicknames just stick I guess,” I smiled slightly. He gazed at me thoughtfully.
“Yes, I suppose so,” he said. “If it’s alright with you, I want you to have dinner with me.” He smiled at me again.
“Of course,” I smiled. His smile exaggerated the magnificent cheekbones he had and his eyes sparkled.
“How are you settling in?” He asked me.
“Alright, I guess,” I attempted a smile.
“There’s going to be a lot of whispering tonight and tomorrow, that’s why I have decided to give you your own room. That also caused a ruckus when you came,” he let out a chuckle. “And obviously, once dear, sweet Rose joins us, she’ll be put in a room with you or a room that is adjoining yours.”
“Rose is coming?” I asked. The thought of seeing her again made my heart swell with joy.
“Well, I hope so,” he said shrugging. “We’re going to pay her a visit tonight.”
“Really?” I couldn’t stop the smile that spread across my face.
“Only if you feel that you are ready,” he said sternly. “And you promise to tell me when you feel your emotions are getting out of control.”
“I promise!” I said excitedly.
“Good,” he smiled. A door on the far wall opened and a woman in a plain black dress and white apron walked in pushing a little trolley with our meals on it. I smiled at her as she set mine down in front of me. She smiled back and put Zee’s plate in front of him. She said ‘bon appetit’ and pushed the trolley back out of the same door.
“Eat,” Zee said. “I’m sure you’re starving. Shifting really takes it out on Young Ones.”
“I didn’t mean to shift earlier,” I said.
“No Young One means to shift at first.” I smiled and looked down at the plate in front of me, my mouth watered as I took in the scents of the meal. It was steak and pepper sauce with a variety of vegetables and mashed potatoes. I cut the steak and took a bite. A million different tastes exploded on my tongue and I savoured every last bit of it. Zee laughed at my euphoric expression.
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he smiled.
“It’s my first meal in over three days, I am famished!” I said.
“Oh, town boy knows big words?” He joked. I nodded.
“Yep, top of my English class,” I bragged. Zee laughed and ate some of his steak. As we ate we spoke about Rose and I told him about the night I got bitten.
“Check your bite,” he smiled. I lifted the shirt I had been given when we got back to the house. The bite was gone; all that was left of it was a few faint scars that looked like they were at least a decade old. I ran my fingers over them and smiled.
“We heal faster, a lot faster, than humans,” Zee explained.
“Wow,” I said as I marvelled at the scars on my abdomen. Zee checked his watch and smiled.
“Right,” he said. “I think it’s time to get some sleep before we see Rose, don’t you? You must be tired after today.” I hadn’t realised it but my eyes were aching from the day and I was exhausted despite having slept for so long.
“Okay,” I smiled.
“You know where you’re going, right?” Zee said. As if on cue, there was a knock on the door and Blake walked in. “Ah, great, Blake will take you back to your room.”
“Of course,” Blake said. My heart tugged as I looked at Blake. I thanked Zee for the meal and followed Blake.
“So he had dinner with you?” Blake asked surprised.
“Yeah,” I said. We were sitting on my bed and talking about the things that had happened that day.
“He’s the Alpha, he never eats with just one other person, he either eats alone or with the rest of the Pack.”
“Well, he wanted to eat with me. And he’s going to take me to see Rose and see if she’ll come here.”
“Really?” Blake said. “I should go too.”
“Yeah, you’d like her,” I said. “She would probably have a crush on you though.” I laughed.
“Well, I’m sort of taken, the person just doesn’t know it yet,” Blake sighed and looked at the floor.
“Who?” I asked. My heart leapt as if to give me an answer.
“A Werewolf has a mate, you know that right?”
“Yeah,” I replied.
“Well, with Werewolves it’s slightly different. Our bodies give us signs as to who our mate is, it might be butterflies, or perhaps their heart pounding or feeling as if its tugging at their souls,” Blake explained. Suddenly everything clicked in place in my mind. I stared at him, and he stared back.
“Yeah,” Blake sighed.
“It’s alright,” Blake said. “You’ve had a lot to deal with today, that’s why I didn’t want to tell you why I had bitten you.”
“I feel it,” I whispered. “But I’m not gay.” I could feel myself start to panic as confusion set into my mind.
“It’s not about our gender Jace,” Blake said gently. “A Mate is the other half to our soul, the other part to us, and the part that makes us feel complete.”
“So, we’re mates?” I asked. My heart leapt and heaved rapidly.
“Not until we go through the mating ritual, but it’s too soon for that, and I don’t want you to have to deal with that too.” Blake stroked my cheek. “You should get some sleep.”
“So should you,” I said. He smiled at the floor and chuckled.
“Yeah, you’re right,” he said as he got off my bed. He leant down and gave me a slight kiss on the cheek. “Goodnight Jace, see you in a few hours.”
“Goodnight Blake,” I replied with a yawn. I settled down under the cover and Blake switched the light off as he left. I thought it would take me ages to fall asleep but soon enough, my dreams had captivated my mind for the night.