• Prologue : Survived

    I was the last person on Earth and there was a knock on the door . . .

    Let’s start at the beginning so its less confusing confused
    My name is Natasha Cole, I’m 26 living in Boston and attending Harvard; Or at least I was, before this happened. I was the only one who survived, as far as I could tell. It was just after dark when it happened. I was working on a project for my science class when I heard the first gunshot, followed by yells and cursing and screaming; All I remember after that is the smell of smoke and a burning pain in my side, but by that time I was already dead; At least that’s what I thought . . .

    Chapter 1 : Marked

    I woke up disgruntled and the world was blurry. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes so I could see. Then I felt it – the pain was back, worse, if that was possible. I was thrown back in a soundless scream of agony. Then I heard the impossible noise. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. Could it be a trick? Am I going crazy? My pain forgotten, I walked towards the door in a daze.
    I don’t know what I was thinking, I cracked the door open an inch. A warm breeze whispered through the door to greet me. Strange confused , I thought. Isn’t it Autumn? I don’t know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t this.

    Before my slight form stood a shirtless russet-skinned man, looking a few years older than I was, and staring at me in disbelief. There was something about the man that made my throat close in fear and my heart beat go through the roof. But he seemed familiar to me, as if I had known him all my life and forgotten.

    Chapter 2 : Questions

    After a long silence he spoke in a deep, throaty voice that reminded me of a woodsman. I smiled at the thought of someone so . . . well, there was no doubt he was gorgeous heart , working as a woodsman rofl . “ Who are you? And why do you bear the mark? ”
    He pointed to my burning side. I was to confused to answer him immediately, so I looked down at my side where he pointed. Sure enough, there was a wolf’s paw branded there. I don’t remember having a tattoo there. I thought, giggling at myself for thinking that when I should be thinking about what the man was doing here. “Who are you? ” He repeated, “And why do you bear the mark? ”

    . . .

    His name was Joel Sin and he was the leader of the pack – my pack. Now I understand what happened 3nodding – sort of; The pack came looking for those, like me, that had ‘the mark’. But there’s a catch, One : Well, you have to release a painful chemical to be able to pinpoint where the pack members are and track them. The gas is found in a special type of bullets. Figures, I thought bitterly, Out of all the bullets in the world, it had to be that one the people were shooting! Obviously, (and I still can’t get over the irony of it) I came in contact with the gas, so it burned my hidden mark. The second catch (yes, I know there’s only supposed to be one catch!) : The pack needed a distraction to get me. AKA : the war. They didn’t start the war; It had been going on since I was 22, but hadn’t affected Boston yet, so they had the perfect distraction for gathering as many recruits as they needed; But the war got out of control. That’s why I thought I was the last person on Earth, that is, until Joel and his pack found me.

    Chapter 3 : Phase

    So I definitely WASN’T the last person on Earth. I wasn’t technically a human anymore, and neither was my pack; but I think you get my point wink .

    Joel’s voice interrupted my train of thought. “. . . And when your in your wolf form, you’ll be able to contact anyone in the pack within about a twenty mile radius. They’ll hear your thoughts, you’ll hear theirs. It gets really annoying sometimes. Also, don’t talk to anyone about what you hear when your phased in case they’re an imposter trying to get through to the pack through the weakest link. We don’t know who they could be disguised as or when they will strike.”
    Weakest link?!?! What a jerk evil ! Oops! I am so glad he can’t hear me right now! I guess it does kind of make sense that they would target me. But it doesn’t give him a reason to be rude to me!
    I wanted to insult him or …
    or at least make him say sorry for what he said. But my curiosity got the best of me so I just asked, “Who wants to get to the pack?” And how can I trust you? If what you say is true ninja ? I added mentally, waiting for him to answer. He studied me closely before replying, “The enemy,” he said carefully, “Is a force of tremendous power. Intent on wiping out the humans – and us. And they could very well be hidden near us now.”

    His tone turned from careful to commanding, “Take your shoes off.” He ordered abruptly, and I felt a need to obey him, but that didn’t stop me from questioning him.
    “Because why?” I insisted stubbornly. He grimaced,
    “Because,” He sounded impatient, “ I’m going to teach you how to phase into a werewolf. Now take your shoes off ! ” He snapped as he untied his beat-up converse.
    Wow eek , I thought, Why does he want me to phase so soon?
    “Okay,” I said, ignoring my wary thoughts and pulling off my faded jean pumps.

    “First of all, you need to be careful when you phase. Don’t phase around people. And to start your first phase, you have to think about something so upsetting to you that it makes you shake in rage. Yes, I know it sounds cheesy, but you have to do it. ”

    I thought back to the war. I thought of my family’s screams gonk as I failed to save them, of the blood-washed street when I woke up this morning. Of the gunshots sounding off the empty houses where so many had died . . .
    I felt my self shaking and thought harder, knowing the phase was coming. I thought again of the empty feeling in my chest where my heart had been splintered by the invaders who I couldn’t save my family from – I thought of all the needless killing, my sleepless night coming back to me all at once, I felt myself weakening gonk , then growing stronger, stronger, heard my clothes ripping, my muscles rippling with new power blaugh .

    Congratulations Natasha, An unmistakable voice whispered in my mind.
    Joel? I whispered back nervously.
    Yes. Great job, I didn’t think you would be able to phase by yourself. I’m impressed.
    Thanks, Joel. I answered, blushing slightly under my fur at his praise redface . A new voice started speaking, unfamiliar to me.
    Hey Joel! We need you back at the hotel. Ash lost it again; now she’s mad at Paul. I think he told her that her pelt was shaggy. Stupid boy!
    We’ll be right there, Sara.
    We? who’s we?
    I found another one.
    Hello?! I’m right here! I said, irritated mad .
    She phased already? That’s interesting.
    Yes I did! I said, grinning biggrin .
    Okay. Anyway, come back as soon as you can!
    We will.
    Joel said, nodding.

    Joel phased again (I looked away quickly) redface , tied his shoes around his ankle, then phased back.
    Okay, We’ll go to your house first to get you some clothes, then drive to the old hotel where the pack is staying.
    Okay, lets go blaugh !
    I’ll lead since your not used to running. Move quietly and stay right behind me.
    Okay! I couldn’t keep the excitement out of my thoughts
    Joel started running with amazing speed and grace for such a large animal. His paws barely touched the pavement, and I quickly followed him. I was surprised at how easy it was to keep up with him. It felt like I was flying; paws barely touching the ground, fur flying back and streaming behind me in silver-blonde strands; the same color as my short human haircut.

    Chapter 4 : Home

    I searched frantically for my duffel bag while Joel stood outside my door whee .
    “Are you almost done?” He yelled impatiently.
    I didn’t answer, just kept looking for my bag. I finally found it and threw onto my bed, going through my closet and throwing in all 10 pairs of my jeans and a lot of tops and jackets. Now for shoes, I looked at the bottom of my closet, covered in shoes ranging from heels to converse. I threw in some heels, flats, converse and sneakers (I have a lot of shoes). Then went out the door to the waiting Joel.

    “ Wait! ” I yelled to him as he stepped into the car.
    “ What?”
    “ I want to bring my dog!”
    “ Why?” He yelled back.
    “ Because he’ll starve if I don’t!” I almost screamed it at him scream .
    “ Well,” he said, trying to recover himself sweatdrop , “ people usually don’t ask me that!”
    “ So can I?”
    He thought for a moment, “ Fine!” he yelled back at me.
    “ But hurry!”

    I looked up at the brick hotel as we rounded the corner in his car.
    The Manhattan Hotel? I heard about this place on the news. They must have re-painted it after the fire last year. I heard the door click open beside me and found myself looking up, meeting Joel’s intense gaze.
    I quickly looked down, my stomach filling with butterflies heart . He stepped aside to let me pass, then got my duffel bag out of the trunk; I slowly stepped toward the massive building and waited for Joel on the doorstep. I jumped as the door creaked loudly and opened.

    I almost dropped Tobi in my surprise eek when I found myself looking into the moss green eyes of a slight, tan girl with dark red hair that barely grazed her shoulders. She was wearing a light green sweater that complimented her eyes with faded blue jeans; she looked just as startled as I was and turned her wide-eyed gaze to Joel for instruction. He nodded while saying, “This is who I was telling you about, Sara.”
    “The one who phased so fast?” she asked, her gaze turning from startled to interested.

    “Yes!” I snapped, peeved they were talking about me like I wasn’t there. mad
    “Well Sor-ry!” Sara said back, sounding just as annoyed as I was.
    “Sara,” Joel said sternly, “why don’t you take Natasha inside? I’ll be right behind you to deal with Ashley and Paul.”
    “Okay,” She said, sighing lightly.
    “Come on Natasha. Or do you have a nickname you prefer?” She murmured, turning to me.
    “ Um, my friends call me - oh - right - used to call me Tasha.” cry
    “Okay, Tasha then. Lets go see Ashley and Paul.” She grinned impishly as she said this; having trouble containing her laughter. twisted

    Chapter 5 : Fight

    Sara took me down the hall into a spacious main lobby where a crowd had formed below the fancy hotel chandelier. At the center of the mass there was a small beach blond girl with ice blue eyes who looked around 25 years old standing opposite a tall brunette man who’s hazel eyes were widened in shock. I overheard a burly man in his 40’s make a bet with a plump red-faced woman who looked a few years younger. “Twenty on Ashley!” He announced. I didn’t listed to see if she took it.

    I heard Sara giggle and turned my attention to the couple in the middle of the crowd.
    “I’ll give you shaggy!” scream I heard Blondie snarl at the man. He just barely dodged her blow intended for his face.
    “Ash, I didn’t say that. The guys were just joking around.” He seemed to be pleading with her. Wimp. wahmbulance
    “‘Just a trim, Ash.’” She mimicked in a slightly higher pitched voice than his, and a thousand degrees colder. evil
    “I was just joking with you.” He said, pleading again. This continued similarly until Joel stepped in with two other wolves at his flanks.

    “Ashley, calm down.” He said, his voice ringing with authority. I felt myself calm, even though the command was meant for her, and could see the other wolves were having the same experience. She took a few gulps of air and allowed Joel to take her back to her room, making it easier for her to calm down without seeing Paul to set her off again. After a few minutes Joel came back to the lobby where the mass was departing to go about their usual business.
    “Well, she’s calmed down now, Paul. Would you mind explaining what happened? When I asked Ashley all she did was start yelling curses at you and sobbing.”
    “Well Joel, um, you see, it was, then she, just joking, freaked out, fight, you, she, now,” Paul sputtered incoherently. sweatdrop

    “Why don’t you say something we can understand, huh?” A woman to my left muttered. There were sounds of agreement from a few of us that were still gathered around Paul and Joel. 3nodding
    “I understood him quite clearly, Brianna.” Joel said in an a tone I would have used for an incompetent child. Brianna stared at him in shock, obviously not used to being contradicted. eek After a few moments Joel motioned for me to follow him, and showed me to my room.

    Chapter 6 : Flight

    The next day a select few of us boarded a small plane; On the way to . . . wherever we were going . . . I had time to straighten my muddled thoughts. Okay, so lets recap the last few days. Day one : World war 3 wipes out New York City burning_eyes . Day two : A Gorgeous man appears at my door heart and shows me a world I didn’t believe in and takes me to an abandoned hotel where I was taken into a clan-group-city-civilization? Whatever you call it, of werewolves. Day 3 : I get shoved onto a plane with a handful of other werewolves to an unknown destination for god only knows what stare . But Joel did tell me that he’d tell me what was going on when we got there. I sighed and settled into my seat for the ride.

    We arrived at 2:37 am on a barren hillside. The first thing I saw was what appeared to be a campground. But when I turned to go toward it I felt a large, vice-like hand clamp onto my shoulder. I turned to see Joel inches away from me, holding me next to him with a finger on his lips, a definite sign to be quiet and stay where I was. I had no problem standing next to him heart , but a million questions were on my tongue, ready to spill out when I opened my mouth in even the slightest sigh; So I kept myself silent until Joel took me inside the tunnel the pack was using as shelter. Once inside, he was bombarded with my queries. confused

    “What was that all about? You said you’d tell me once we got here! Why don’t we stay in those tents instead of this dank, wet hole?!?!? Why are we even here? Where are we, anyway?” The questions kept flowing until I had nothing else to ask.
    “Well now, We are in Peru at the moment, and . . .” Joel was cut off as I asked him why we were here for a second time. confused
    “If you’ll stop interrupting me I will answer your questions. Now, we are in Peru because of a celebration we have to welcome new recruits of the pack. We can’t stay in the tents because they are already inhabited by resident werewolves of the area who guard this . . . dank hole, as you put it. My favorite color is green. I have two sisters and a brother. One of my sisters is in the pack, her name is Sara. My other two siblings died in the war. I used to own two rabbits which turned into ten rabbits so I sold them for a decent price and then owned a husky until it died at age 19. And no, I do not have a girlfriend.” He finished. The last one embarrassed me, because I hadn’t noticed I had asked it. redface
    “Oh,” I said, tucking a stray lock of hair behind my ear to cover my embarrassment. Oops. redface Didn’t mean to ask that. Sara is Joel’s sister? Poor them, both their other siblings are gone. I conducted a mental observation to see if there were any similarities between Joel and Sara. Hmmm . . . Greenish/bluish eyes, tan skin . . . well, guess that’s it so far.

    “You should get some sleep. We have a busy day tomorrow.” Joel said.
    “Uh-huh,” I murmured, already drifting to sleep.

    Chapter 7 : Dreams

    My dreams were dark and cold; Many times I saw Joel or Sara. I called to them but they never wavered in their path, their eyes seemed glazed. Like the dead.
    I woke gasping for breath, shivering from cold and dread. gonk crying
    “Joel,” I croaked, my voice thick with sleep. It was Sara who answered me.
    “Hmmm?” Sara said incoherently. “ Tasha?” she murmured; Then I was blinded by cell phone light.
    “Unnggg,” I groaned and heard Sara whisper an apology as she squinted into the light. xp
    “Tash,” she whined, “its only 3:00. Why’d you wake me up?”
    “Oh. Um, I had a nightmare.”
    “What about?”
    GAAHHHH! What do I tell her?!?!? “Uh, nothing. Don’t worry about it.”
    “Hey Tash, did you know you talk?”
    I had no idea. “Really? I honestly didn’t know.” I replied, my voice dripping sarcasm. stare

    “Well, you do like my brother. A lot.” She said, grinning. “I won’t tell him though. But I will tell you all the latest gossip.” Sara sqinted n concentration. “Okay, so Seth just asked me out and bought me a blue topaz necklace and of course I said yes heart . I mean he’s the biggest sweetheart you’ll ever meet but that sometimes gets him bullied by Chris and since Paul is Chris’s best friend he goes along with it mad .
    Chris is single but everyone knows he likes Brianna. Brianna is a total b***h and so Chris thinks he has to be mean to make her like him and Paul follows his lead. Paul is with Ashley. Ashley and I have been fighting over Paul since she got here and she is a big fat drama queen .... but now we stopped ‘cause I’m going out with Seth.”

    Sara stopped for a breath before continuing, “ Ashley’s best friend is Brittany. Brittany is dating Ryan who is Seth’s best friend so that’s been causing a fight between her and Ashley because Paul doesn’t like Seth and Ryan is his best friend so yeah. Ryan is kind of shy but can be very funny and cute 3nodding . He used to like Serena who is Brianna’s ‘best friend’ but now is dating Chris because Chris wanted to make Brianna jealous,” Sara finished out of breath.

    I stared at her, waiting for my thoughts to untangle themselves.
    Wow eek . . . Was the first thing I thought. Sara was looking a me intently, obviously waiting for me to say something or launch into a juicy piece of gossip that I wanted to know details on. I watched as her smile fell.
    “Is something wrong?” She asked me carefully, her big eyes managing to look hurt.
    “No, it’s nothing,” I said. “I just wasn’t expecting to get that much information tonight.” I sighed, thinking of the time.
    “Oh,” Sara murmured, her eyes drooping with exhaustion. I was sure I didn’t look much better. That was the last thing I heard before I was enveloped in a soft blanket of dreams.

    Chapter 8 : List

    I woke to the bitter smell of coffee.
    “Oh good! You’re awake!” Sara said excitedly. “Now I’m not all alone!”
    “Ungh,” I mumbled; then reached for the coffee.
    “ Ooh Tasha, you look like hell.”
    “Feel it too.” I replied, my voice raspy evil . I needed to find a bathroom. I crawled over to the coffee pot and poured a mug, adding cream and sugar to the mix. I located my cell phone and flipped the screen to see the time. 8:07. I rolled over and searched for my duffel bag, gaining an amused grin from Sara as I gasped in realization. I could see in the dark eek ninja .
    “Well, yeah Tash; What did you expect?”
    “I wasn’t expecting to be able to freaking see in the dark!”
    “But the fact of the matter is, you can!”
    “I know! Why do you think I’m freaking out?!?!?”
    Sara rolled her eyes at me, but to be honest, I really didn’t care.

    It was late morning before we both got dressed and out of our cave. In fact, I almost ran straight into Brianna, who had come to wake us up; She had a glass of water in her hand.
    b***h evil ! I thought impulsively. Oops! I wonder if she will know I thought that when we’re phased. Hope not! Oh well, she is twisted .
    Brianna glared at me as I mumbled an apology, well, it was supposed to be an apology, but I used the word ‘hag’ a few times. I decided to walk around her because I had no doubt that she would have stayed there, blocking my way, until I succumbed to her hateful stare. stare

    “Joel?” I called tentatively into the small cave one of the other wolves had pointed to when I had asked where Joel was.
    “Joel? Its me, Natasha.” I called again.
    “Come in,” He rumbled from the other side of the wall I had decided to lean against while I waited for permission to enter.
    “Hey,” I said, suddenly shy under his intense blue gaze rolleyes . “Umm, I was wondering, what am I supposed to do? You know, like do wolves do stuff different than normal people? Do I have to do something special now or something?”

    He chuckled, a deep husky sound from the back of his throat.
    “What? Do you think you’ll have to drink out of a bowl or sniff other peoples butts?” He teased, then attempted to be serious.
    “Well why don’t you stay with me today? I’ll show you around, introduce you to other wolves, and make sure you don’t get confused.” He said that last part with a smirk on his face twisted . But I didn’t mind at all heart .

    It was 12:00 and I was already on information overload. Not only had I had to meet the other pack members that came with us (I tried to memorize all of them and their pack positions), but Joel went to meet with the other pack, so I had to come with him. I decided to write down everyone’s place :

    MY PACK :

    Joel : Leader heart
    Sara : Trickster twisted
    Paul : Cry Baby wahmbulance
    Ashley : Drama Queen dramallama
    Brianna : b***h stressed
    Chris : Bully scream
    Seth : Sweetheart blaugh
    Ryan : Beta blaugh
    Serena : Mean stressed
    Brittany : Snob dramallama


    Charles : Leader cool
    Vanessa : Beta smile
    Aliea : DEVIL!!! evil
    Bruce : Tough stare
    Casey : ??????
    Samuel : Elder neutral
    Melissa : Drama Queen dramallama
    Aaron : Shy neutral
    Bailey : ??????

    Chapter 9 : Secret

    ‘Don’t leave me!’ gonk I desperately screamed to Joel, but he seemed to just walk farther away, leaving me in the smothering darkness of the caves. I came back to reality as Joel started to jog back to me, a startled look on his face. eek confused
    “What was that?” He asked, concerned. “Did you need something?” I looked into his striking blue eyes and saw nothing but confused concern.
    “Uh, no. Never mind that. I’m perfectly fine.” I stammered breathlessly.
    “Are you sure you’re okay? You seem pretty freaked out.” He asked, never moving his gaze from my face; I felt like I needed to tell him.
    “Well, I guess I am pretty freaked out. And I need to talk to you about something . . .” I answered, trailing off at the end.

    “I’m listening,” His face turned from concerned to curious; And the only thing that gave away his confusion of the situation was the turmoil of emotion behind his eyes. I looked at my sneakers, turning away ever so slightly rolleyes .
    “I meant in private,” I said hesitantly, feeling childish for not being able to look at him. And I knew how I must have looked to him, a more than slightly secretive woman who’s actions say that she likes him. Well, the last part was somewhat true. And I was being secretive. But no one should know about my . . . unusual knack of seeing things that will happen. I had never revealed this to anyone, seeing as I hadn’t fully believed it myself.
    “Come, we’ll go to my space.” Joel suddenly changed, looking more like the leader he was and less like the guy I had just admitted to liking heart .

    “So, what you’re trying to tell me is that you can see the future?!” Joel looked so lost and confused, I found myself wanting to comfort him somehow, to tell him it would be alright; But of course I couldn’t do that. redface
    “Not exactly. I only get glimpses. And it has to be someone I’ve met or know, or myself. So back there - I had blanked out, had another vision, whatever you want to call it – About being left in the tunnels alone, and you were walking away, leaving me in the darkness . . .” I stopped when I felt the tears sting my eyes and my sight started to blur with the effort of hiding my emotions. cry Suddenly Joel’s warm arms were around me, clamping me to his chest. I buried my face in his T-shirt, letting my tears flow freely now they had started. Joel whispered assurances to me all the while I cried. crying

    When I had no more tears to shed, and Joel’s shirt was soaked from my crying in his arms, I pulled away from his chest and looked into his eyes. There, I found sympathy, questions, and there was something else there; Something more intense in his gaze. I smiled slightly and tore my eyes from his to look at his tear-soaked shirt.
    “Oh, Joel. I’m sorry. I’ve ruined your shirt.” I whispered, hoping my voice didn’t show my happiness (that would be waaaayyy to embarrassing! redface ).
    He smiled too. “Yes, you have, but that’s fine.” He still had his arms around me, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to break his hold. I didn’t want to heart . So, content, I stayed where I was, leaning my head against his soaked shirt. Hmmm . . . I wonder if this counts as asking me out. Probably. Is he gonna kiss me now or something? Hope so. Did I brush my teeth after my coffee? YES!!! Okay, I’m good to go. Hey, what’s he . . .
    Joel brushed his lips against mine and my train of thought evaporated. heart heart heart heart heart

    . . .

    I slipped into the cave I shared with Sara, hoping she had fallen asleep and wasn’t still waiting for me to arrive. Of course she was.
    “Where the hell have you been?” She whispered curiously.
    “Wouldn’t you like to know.” I jibed back.
    “You can’t expect me to leave you alone with that answer!”
    “I’ll tell you in the morning!” I snapped.
    “Fine!” Sara said, looking as irritated as if I had slapped her evil . I smiled. smile

    Chapter 10 : Ghost

    I got up even earlier than usual to avoid being interrogated by Sara and moved at cheetah pace getting dressed and making my cup of coffee. I sat for a moment, enjoying the warmth leaking from my sugar-filled drink and sighed, content for the moment. I pulled my ice-blue puffy jacket over my cobalt T-shirt, not really worrying about cold but trying to look fairly human, remembering Joel had said there were humans camping in the area. I wondered about that. hadn’t they sort of disappeared? Pushing those thoughts to the back of my mind, I slipped into Joel’s cave. I had expected Joel to be awake, but as I walked through the room I saw no sign of him. There was a note folded on his pillow (I blushed when I saw) redface that was addressed to me :

    Natasha ~

    I am expecting you to come into my room and find this. Don’t worry. I’ll be back in about an hour. This was written at 4:30 am. See you then.

    I looked down at my watch. 5:14. Wow. I had gotten up early. I sighed and moved the note from the pillow to the side table. I’ll just rest my head for a minute, I said to myself stubbornly; I laid down and my eyes slid shut in exhaustion, blotting out the small table standing beside me and the warm surroundings of Joel’s cave-room-thingy. I didn’t dream.

    . . .

    Swish, swish. Swish, swish. The sound of fabric moving didn’t bother me until I caught a scent. That didn’t belong to Joel. I lay motionless, waiting for a voice to sound; to tell me who was there. Thoughts ran through my head too fast to process, words cutting each other off as my brain worked to make sense of what was happening. Why are they . . . Who is . . . How long was I . . . Who would . . . Where . . . Is it . . . Who??? . . . confused
    I ran through the people here : Lets see . . . Joel, me, Sara, Serena, Brianna, Ashley, Seth, Ryan, Brittany, Chris, Paul . . . I think that’s It . . . At least who I know . . . But I guess it could be someone from the cave-pack . . . Hmmm . . . confused

    I kept silent long enough for them to speak. I heard a cell phone flip open and a number dialed. “Nope, not here,” It said. The voice was a man, but I didn’t recognize anything else. “I’ll check around here awhile, then head back.” A voice mumbled something into the other end of the line but I didn’t catch what it was. After a short pause I heard a small click! as the cell phone was shut and pocketed. Swish, swish. And he was gone; leaving no trace that he’d been there. A ghost.

    Chapter 11 : Gotcha!

    I lay still under the soft blanket until I was certain the intruder was gone. Rolling over I saw there was no perceptible change in the room or atmosphere. Whoever it was must have been looking for Joel. Why? I wondered, slipping my cell phone out of my pocket. confused

    joel? I typed, hoping he would answer.
    what tasha?
    im scared. ther was some1 in ur room.
    k dont worry. b ther in 5. heart u.
    u 2. bye.

    I closed the phone with a loud snap and inhaled deeply, making sure there was nothing in the air; After I was satisfied with that I snuck to the curtain acting as the door. I picked up a stone from the floor and hurled it at the thin cloth. Nothing happened. I heaved a sigh of relief blaugh . Oh well, at least Joel has nothing to worry about. As soon as the thought escaped my mind I heard a crash from the tunnel opposite. Just perfect. I whirled around until I was facing the entrance. BOOM! CRASH! SMACK! I swept aside the curtain and immediately went into a defensive crouch, expecting the worst ninja . All I saw was an empty hallway. I ducked back inside the room to wait.

    It had been a few minutes when I heard it. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. I chuckled to myself rofl , remembering that a knock on my door was how this had started. Then brought myself to the present. I went to the door as quietly as I could, making no noise as I passed through the labyrinth of books and random junk. I squinted through the thin fabric to see Joel waiting for me to emerge.
    “Come in, Joel.” I whispered, my voice crackling.
    He exploded through the doorway, rushing into the room and disturbing the cool air, making it sizzle and crack with the power of his anger and worry. The torrent of it was strong enough to knock me back to the bed. I sat on the edge, waiting for him to calm down. He had started pacing the short distance of the room and was obviously furious; scream At who I couldn’t be sure. confused

    When he had cooled down he looked at me expectantly, waiting for me to speak. I stared back, trying to find the words; At last I spoke, little more than a whisper and dry as bone.
    “There was a man,” I started, “he came in about 10 minutes ago and didn’t seem to do anything, I mean, nothing at all! Nothing seems different, nothing’s missing, though I wouldn’t be able to tell if it was, in this room.” I continued, making a feeble attempt at a joke. He didn’t laugh. “And then he just left! I mean, I checked the air, the walls, the books. The only thing that did anything was the door, and that could’ve been a coincidence! I don’t know what he was here for, or if he found it, or what. ” I finished, shrugging. rolleyes

    Joel watched me all the time I spoke, now it was his turn.
    “Well if he didn’t do anything,” He paused, “how can you be sure he wasn’t one of our wolves?”
    “He didn’t smell right.” I said matter-of-factly. “All our wolves smell like brick and denim. He smelled like . . . I don’t know, like tobacco smoke and pine trees. It was weird.” confused
    “How do you know what denim and brick smells like? I would ask you about the tobacco and pine but they’re pretty clear scents. Even a human could smell them.”
    “Sara showed me lots of smells before we came here. she said it might come in handy sometime. Looks like she was right.”
    He pondered that for a moment. Then half-smiled. “I guess it did,” He murmured, gathering me into his arms. heart

    I turned towards him and our eyes met. Something undecipherable flashed in his eyes and I shivered at the intensity of it. I looked away, severing the connection between us and bringing myself to the present.
    “I’ll see you later, ‘kay?” I said in as neutral a voice I could muster. neutral
    “Yeah, sure.” Joel said, just as distant as before.
    “Love you,” I whispered as I pushed the curtain aside.

    “You too.” He replied as I walked out.

    . . .

    I crept down the tunnel toward my cave and found myself thinking of Tobi, my chocolate lab I’d left at the hotel. I wonder if he’s happy with those people he’s staying with. Of course he isn’t! Tobi doesn’t like anyone to be near him, he’s so shy! He must be in a custom made hell. Poor Tobi . . . I miss him. And all I wanted to do just then was bury my face in his soft fur and have him scare my worries away. cry
    “Tobi,” I whined softly. “Why couldn’t you be here instead?”
    I stopped for a minute, thinking of him and how he was always able to comfort me when I needed him even though he couldn’t speak. I continued down the hall toward my cave, wondering how he managed it. confused cry crying

    I stopped outside the room, watchful of any sign of an attack or ambush. After scanning the room with my nose I took the first step in toward my bed and waited. Nothing happened. I took another, feeling perspiration build on my brow, anticipating some kind of attack sweatdrop . Still nothing. I reached forward to flick on the battery lamp and was grabbed from behind. I only lasted a few seconds before my opponent pinned me to the ground, so I lay there thrashing until a flashlight came on and a voice whispered, ninja

    Chapter 12 : Snap

    I lay sprawled on my sleeping bag while Sara stared persistently at me.
    “You know,” I started, “you didn’t have to tackle me!” My sentence ended in a rude tone but I thought she deserved it. For a millisecond she actually looked sheepish, but if I had blinked I would have missed it.
    “I knew you wouldn’t tell me otherwise! And I gave you an explanation, too! So you should be thanking me! Think of it as a noble attempt to ensure you are filled in.” She smiled. “You’re welcome!” 3nodding

    That’s when I snapped. “You know, you haven’t explained anything to me! And I don’t even know what you’re talking about! And I’ve had it with you doing crap like this so, GET.OFF.MY.BACK!” The last word turned into a snarl as I felt myself slip to the floor, now an enraged wolf scream ; She changed too, which made me even more angry scream . I hurled myself at her red-brown form and she dodged, running swiftly across the room so we were on opposite ends of the cave.
    What do you think you’re doing!!!! Her voice shouted in my head. I ignored it. Baring my needle sharp teeth I lunged again, this time missing by an inch. Sara screeched again, this time bordering desperation as she hurtled around the cave, narrowly escaping my snapping jaws.

    Joel! Help! Tasha’s gone nuts! What do I do?!?!?
    There was a pause, Then a rough voice spoke. It seemed the most beautiful thing I had ever heard.
    Sara? Is that you? What’s wrong?
    No, it’s the freaking Easter bunny. Of course its me!!! Now help!!!
    Well, I don’t know what’s happening!!!
    Tasha went nuts!!! I already told you!!!
    Okay. I’ll try to help. Natasha?
    I whispered back dreamily, reveling in the sound of his perfect voice.
    Can you phase now? He asked gently.
    Didn’t I already? I asked, now confused.
    Tasha. You’re a wolf right now. Change back now please.
    Sure. I said, dreamy again.

    I phased, noticing for the first time the shreds of cloth covering the floor.
    “What happened in here?” I slurred to Sara, who had started pulling on some undergarments. I looked the other way and started walking towards my duffel, only to be tripped by the edge of my sleeping bag. I cursed before grabbing some clothes out and pulling them on. Then I faced Sara, now dressed in a pair of jeans and a Harvard sweatshirt; I looked down, laughing.
    “What’s so funny?” Sara said in a hard voice, clipping off her words and letting me know she was mad. She has a right to be! The sane side of my mind whispered in my mind. Why? I asked, but I didn’t answer.
    “Well? What is it?”
    I giggled again, taking my time to answer her.
    “Tasha, you should stop that.” She sighed.
    “Why would I do that?” I asked, getting confused. My head hurt.
    “’Cause you sound like you’re drunk.” She answered truthfully, a smile tugging at her lips.
    “O-oh.” I said, drawing out the word into two syllables.
    “Now what’s so funny?”
    “Oh,” I said again. “We’re wearing the same thing.” I ended in another stream of giggles, but silenced them when I saw Sara roll her eyes.
    Another minute of silence passed before we heard a noise coming from the hall.

    I looked up to find that the door curtain was knocked onto the floor and I barely had time to think, Crap, I’m going to have to put that up again! Before I was pinned to the floor. Joel? I thought helplessly. I whimpered when he moved, and realized I was being crushed. Joel! Help! I’m being crushed! Owww . . . My last thought ended in another whimper. The weight vanished as quickly as it had come.
    “Natasha?” Joel’s voice croaked.
    Yes, Joel? I answered
    “Can you speak to me normally, please?”
    What? I answered, Aren’t I talking to you?
    “Yes, but you’re talking in my mind.” He sounded scared and pleading.
    “What the heck are you doing, Joel?” Sara said.
    “Talking to Tasha.”
    “Yeah, but you’re acting like she’s talking back.”
    I am talking back, silly! I thought at her. She gasped and looked as scared as Joel did.
    “What the heck?” She repeated. I inhaled deeply, then spoke.
    “What?” I asked.

    “So . . .”
    “Yes?” I answered, annoyed. “What? You’ve been saying the same thing for the past five minutes and I’m getting really annoyed!” stare
    “Well what do you want me to say, Natasha?” His cold voice sent a jolt down my spine cry . His voice softened. “I’m sorry, Tash, I’m just a little freaked out right now . . .” His voice faded out again.
    “Why? Because of my . . . talent? Or the thing with . . .” My voice broke before I was able to finish the sentence. cry
    “I honestly don’t know. Maybe it’s a mix of both but . . .” He trailed off as unwanted tears welled in my eyes and I was suddenly embarrassed as I realized that I’d already cried in front of him . . . twice. I tried to pass off wiping the tears out of my eyes as tucking a stray lock of hair behind my ear. By the look that Joel gave me, I wasn’t fooling anyone. Great. Just perfect. I didn’t know what brought on the sudden sarcasm. Maybe it was just my nerves looking for a way to occupy themselves. Oh well. And the tears flowed. cry crying cry crying cry crying cry crying cry