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A motorcycle revved in the driveway, growling for her to jump on. Rebecca dashed to her bedroom window and climbed out of the opening. She wrapped her arms around his waist. As the motorcycle jerked forward, she buried her face into his beaten leather jacket. She tried to forget everything. She tried to forget the conversation she just had with her father. She tried to forget the finality of his words.
“Your mother and I only want what is best for you,” her father had said.
“An arranged marriage?” she had shrieked, “I refuse!”
“Listen to me! His family owns a large manufacturing company. Our family owns a large distributing company. A union between our families would benefit everyone involved.”
“What if this isn’t the kind of life I want to live?” she had asked.
“Julian will provide you with a better life. With his inheritance, you will live comfortably and securely.”
Rebecca had rolled her eyes. “Father,” she had groaned, “no one agrees to an arranged marriage these days.”
“Well,” he had stood up, “our families are a little more traditional. Goodnight.”
Her father had walked out of the room, closing the door behind him and closing the conversation.
Now the wind lashed against Rebecca’s face. It stung her cheeks, but it also dried the tears that escaped from her eyes. She hoped that Sam would not see them.
“I want to show you something,” Sam shouted over his shoulder. The motorcycle veered down an old country road. It was bordered on both sides by thick, shadowy woods, without a single streetlight to guide them. The only things lighting their path were Sam’s headlights and the glow of the full moon.
After five miles, the road faded into a narrow dirt path. Sam pulled over to the side and turned off the engine. Rebecca looked up. The ruins of a stone castle towered above them. Vines and thorny branches wrapped around the crumbling walls, forcing their way through the rotting wooden doors.
“What is this place?” Rebecca gasped.
“Moonlit Manor,” Sam replied, “A wealthy lord lived here two-hundred years ago. The locals say he abandoned it after his wife committed suicide on the balcony of that tower.”
Sam walked over to the front door, pried it open, and motioned for her to follow. Rebecca hesitated. She glanced up at the tallest tower, the one with a sagging balcony that wrapped around the stone walls. This place gave her the chills. But she had the rest of her life to be cautious and dull. She was going to be the wife of an heir to a manufacturing company. Tonight she wanted to live dangerously.
Rebecca followed Sam inside. He showed her around the ballrooms, the libraries, the courtyards and the grand halls. Then he led her up the spiral staircase to the lord’s chambers. The door creaked open, revealing an elaborately decorated room buried beneath a thick layer of dust. Rebecca circled around the room. She gasped at the faded tapestries and the tarnished silver jewels.
Then she wandered over to the windows. She stepped out onto the wide arch of the balcony, gripping onto the silver railing for support. She could see the shadowy tree-tops of the forest stretching for miles in each direction. Along the horizon, she could see a pair of headlights traveling down the old country road.
“Beautiful night, isn’t it?” Sam called from inside the bedroom.
“Come out here and look at this view,” Rebecca replied, “You can see for miles beneath the full moon!”
“Come here first,” Sam replied.
Rebecca stepped back inside. She found Sam standing next to the bedroom door with his hand on the lock.
“I brought you here for a reason, Rebecca” he said, “The lord’s wife did not commit suicide. Her husband had a terrible secret. One night she caught a glimpse of his secret, and he had to kill her. He fled town. But he returned a few years later, when his son started the transformations.”
“Transformations?” she shivered.
“Rebecca! I’m coming!” someone shouted.
Rebecca glanced back at the balcony windows. She caught a glimpse of someone dashing into the castle. A jeep was parked in the gravel driveway with the headlights still on. Rebecca gasped. That was Julian’s jeep, her soon-to-be fiancé.
“Rebecca,” Sam growled, gripping onto her wrists, “You can’t marry him! There is no choice now that you know. You have to come with me.”
The bedroom door slammed open. The iron locks that had bolted it shut clanged to the ground. Julian stood in the doorway. He pointed a pistol at Sam’s heart.
“Step away from Rebecca,” Julian commanded, “Step away from the balcony.”
“Afraid of a little moonlight?” Sam sneered.
“I’m the one with the gun,” Julian laughed, “You should fear me.”
Sam planted his feet in front of Rebecca, completely blocking her. “Why did you come here?” Sam asked.
“I told Rebecca’s father that I would bring her home,” Julian said, “He expects me to rescue her. He knows that you brought her to this tower.”
“And what will you tell him when she doesn’t make it home?” Sam replied, “Will you tell him that she committed suicide?”
“What’s going on?” Rebecca trembled, “Why do you have a gun, Julian?”
Julian glanced over at Rebecca. He kept his pistol aimed at Sam’s heart.
“Rebecca, why do you look so scared?” Julian asked, “What has he told you?”
“GET BACK!” Sam shouted. He lunged forward, tackling Julian and knocking the pistol out of his hand. The two boys wrestled back-and-forth. Slowly, they inched their way towards the balcony. One of them tripped over the rumpled carpet, and they both tumbled out the door. Rebecca followed after them.
Beneath the full moon, the balcony glowed with a bluish light. Julian writhed on the stone walkway. His body shook so violently that Rebecca thought he might be having a seizure. Then he started to transform.
“Grab the pistol!” Sam shouted.
Rebecca trembled. She wanted to scream, but her body was frozen against her will.
“Rebecca!” Sam shouted again, “GRAB THE PISTOL!”
Rebecca dashed back into the bedroom. She dropped to her knees and fumbled through the dark to find the pistol. Finally, her hand grasped onto what felt like the handle of a gun. She stumbled back onto the balcony. Then, she screamed.
Sam was dangling over the railing of the balcony. A massive wolf snapped at his throat, digging its claws into Sam’s chest.
“Shoot!” Sam gasped.
Rebecca gripped onto the pistol. Her hands were shaking, wavering between Sam and the wolf. She could not focus. She closed her eyes and fired.
Three shots. Three bangs. Three heartbeats.
“No,” Sam moaned, shoving the wolf off of him. He grabbed Rebecca’s wrist and led her away from the balcony and away from the bleeding wolf. As he led her down the staircase, Rebecca tried not to break into hysterics.
“But silver bullets are supposed to kill werewolves,” Rebecca cried, “I mean, that’s what they say in the movies, right?
“Those aren’t real silver,” Sam sighed, “Julian’s family business –the only manufacturer of guns and bullets around here- doesn’t sell real silver bullets. It’s their attempt to protect themselves if someone found out.”
“If he’s not dead… than what do we do now?” Rebecca asked.
“Now you have a choice,” Sam said, “What kind of life do you want to live?”
He let go of her hand and kicked open a door. They were back outside now. Sam fished his keys out of his back pocket and headed towards the motorcycle. He paused, picked up Rebecca’s helmet from the side of the road, and turned back to look at her.
Rebecca stood in the middle of the road. Her heart pounded and her legs wobbled. She followed Sam’s gaze down the narrow dirt road. If she followed the road south, she would arrive back at home. If she followed the road north, she did not know where she would arrive or what kind of life she would live.
Sam revved the engine and climbed onto his motorcycle. He turned the bike around so that it faced north.
He offered her the helmet and smiled.
Rebecca smiled back.