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Author's note: I wrote this piece because I ran out of good books to read. So I wrote my own. Enjoy!
I can feel the warm water beat down on my face as I sit under Desoto Falls in Helen, Georgia. I feel well. I feel free. Like nothing can interrupt this rare peace. And yes, this is an uncommon moment where I can
truly be myself. My wolf self. The water feels alluring and comforting on my fur as I put my head back into the rushing water. “I should do this more
often,” I think to myself.
Just as I shake the water from my silver-brown fur, I hear my mom shout from our house, “Natasha! I know you’re at the Falls. Come in now!”
I guess that means the little time to myself is over. As I change back to human form, I notice that the sun has already set. “Wow,” I say aloud.
“How did it get so late?” I run back to my house as fast as I can. I probably can go faster if I phase, but I don’t want my parents to see me like this. Not yet, at least.
When I approach the florescent lit doorway, my parents look more worried than angry. “You were at the Falls, weren’t you?” My dad asks, with a sigh of relief. I nod.
“Again?” My mom exclaims.
“I needed some time to myself.” I answer, hoping that they’ll drop the topic. Fat chance with that! As I come closer to the porch light, I guess they can see that I’m dripping with water.
“Natasha! You’re soaked!” My mom cries out.
“I went swimming with Sarah.” I lie.
“That’s kind of funny,” Dad starts, “Because I got a call from Sarah’s mom today, and she said Sarah couldn’t make it to the movie tomorrow, and she asked if we can reschedule.”
After waiting a minute, Mom says, “Just, go get some dry clothes on. Your father and I need to talk to you afterwards.”
I go into my room, passing the kitchen along the way. “This place used to be fun. Not since…he left.” I murmur, as I pass my parents.
Mom sighs and tries to say something, but Dad stops her. “In a minute, Forrest,” He tells her.
My room is nothing fancy. A green quilt, brown walls, a tiny bathroom connected to it.
My parents are mad, I know they are. They’re wondering why I lied. Why did I lie? I’m such an idiot! Out of my dresser, I pull dark blue jeans and a black hoodie. Lately I’ve been having really bad chills. I wonder if it has anything to do with this wolf thing. I change in the bathroom and go back into the family room where my parents wait for me on the sofa.
“Sit down,” Mom says, patting the seat beside her. I take a seat, as Dad asks, “You’re a wolf, aren’t you?”
The question hits me hard. How did they find that out? “How did you know that?” I whisper, utterly shocked. “Have you been spying on me, or following me?” I have to get some answers.
“No,” Mom answers. “We’re wolves, too.” I can’t believe it! My own parents never told me of a part of me that I never knew existed? I mean, when I changed, I was pretty sure that something about me was different, but never have I thought that my parents are exactly like me.
“What else have you not told me?” I spit out. “There’s got to be more than that. Spill.”
“You, your mother, and I,” Dad starts, “Are what they call
shape-shifters. Shape-shifters can phase into wolves just by thinking about it.”
“How many are there, and where are they?” I ask, trying to sound as calm as I can.
“Not many of us exist, but most of them live at Isle Royale,” Mom tells me.
“Which is why we were going to ask you if you wanted to go there to meet the Pack... and Finn again,” Dad says, wondering what my reaction will be.
“Finn?” I can’t breathe. Finn was my best friend ever! He had moved to Colorado five years ago, for a reason that I didn’t know of. We had met when we were in Pre-K and were friends ever since. The past five years have been so hard without him. I guess I partly blame my parents for letting that
happen. “How could they let us split up?” I had once sadly thought, the day that my family moved from Key West, Florida to Helen, Georgia.
“Mmm hm,” Mom nods. “He's like you. That's why he left in the first place. He wanted to make sure that he didn't loose control of himself in the beginning. He wanted to make sure that he didn't have a chance to hurt you.”
“Of course I want to go.”
“Go pack,” Mom tells me, seeing that my expression is happy. “Finn is going to meet you at the airport tomorrow night.”
“Thank you, Mom.”
After giving my dad a hug, I go into my room and do as they say. After a few minutes, there’s a knock on my door.
“Tasha, just so you know, Isle
Royale is in Michigan. You need to dress warm and pack warm, too.”
“Okay, Mom. Got it.”
“Also, we leave to get you to the airport at 6 tomorrow night. Okay?”
I double checked everything that I have packed. Tooth paste? Check.
Hairbrush? Check. Extra jacket for the plane trip? Check. Looks like I’m
all set. I’m quite pleased with myself for being so organized. It was
I look in the mirror to make sure that my appearance is the best it can
be. I wear an orange hoodie and jeans. My brown hair has it's normal blonde highlights and my green eyes sparkle right back at me. My skin is perfect, no blemishes or pores in sight.
I decide that something is missing. A strange feeling had went over me, and I knew I had missed something. Going over to my jewelry box I grab an orange bracelet. The amber beads have tiny flowers incased in them, and the amber heart charm has a butterfly inside, the colors on its wings brighter
than most butterflies I have seen. This was the most precious thing to me.
It was the friendship bracelet Finn had given me right before we moved. He said it would help keep him in my thoughts at all times. It has, and I’ll never give it up.
I place it on my wrist and carry my two suitcases out to the car,
keeping my jacket with me. After putting them into the trunk, I go back into the house for one, last thing: a picture that hangs on my bulletin board. I unpin it and look at it carefully.
It’s Finn and I, sitting on a palm tree in the Bahamas. This was the most recent picture I have of him, five years ago. Pretty sad, I know. I can guess what you’re thinking. “What kind of friend won’t even send pictures?” I don’t know but I intend to find out today.
“Ready to go?” Mom asks from my doorway.
“Yeah, sorry. Time already?”
“It’s almost 5:45. I don’t want you to be late.” She tilts her head
sideways, trying to see clearly what I’m holding. “I know that picture.
It’s the one you keep on your board all the time, right?” I nod.
“I’ve never been able to get rid of it.”
“A little, but I’m more excited than I am nervous, though.”
“Well,” she says, as I stick the photo into my left pocket, “you won’t
have to wait much longer. Come on.”
When we pull into the parking lot, Mom says, “Finn said he’ll meet you through those doors, right there.” She points to a pair of swinging doors. “He’s already inside.”
I get out of the car, and tell her softly, “Thanks, Mom. I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you, too,” she says, her brown eyes contrasting perfectly
against her blonde hair. “But have fun with Finn. He’s missed you too, you know.”
I snicker, and roll my eyes. “He left. How do you know that he misses
She smiles. “He kept talking about you yesterday on the phone. He
sounded super excited to see you again.”
"And you aren't even one bit concerned about me going to Isle Royale alone?"
She shakes her head. "Nope. When I was your age, I came to Isle Royale as well. Both me and your father did. The Pack will take good care of you. I'm not worried at all."
I grin. “Thanks, Mom. I promise I’ll call as soon as we get to Isle
Royale. Bye.” I grab both my suit cases and put my jacket on. I run
towards the doors.
Inside, is just like any other airport. People busily running around
trying to catch their planes, parents holding their children’s hands trying to make sure that they don't become lost, business men and women in big fancy suits and briefcases talking on cell phones as they rent cars.
I look around for a familiar face but I see none. I walk father into the airport complex but still see no one. Calm down, I tell myself. Mom said he was here already. You just haven’t found him yet. Chill! Breathe.
I look around more carefully. Then, I see him. He’s sitting on a bench against the side wall to my right. His hands are folded and he’s staring off into space, thinking about something intently. I watch him for a few seconds. Every few seconds he looks around, looking for me, I realize. His backpack is beside him and he’s wearing jeans and a black T-shirt. His strait, black hair is an inch or two grown out and it sticks up slightly in
the front. His tan skin is, well…tan, for someone living in Colorado. Or does he live in Michigan now?
I walk closer to him, hoping that I have the right person. No, I say to
myself. Of course you have the right guy. Who else could this be? I’m about ten feet away now. He looks up from the floor and, when he sees me, he smiles his bright, white smile. “Natasha?” he asks, in a calm voice.
I smile. It’s not the voice that I know of, but I can tell it’s his.
Finn gets up and comes towards me, still smiling. He’s gotten much
taller than last time I saw him. He’s maybe 5 feet 12 inches? He holds his hands out like he’s trying to explain something, but lets them drop, not knowing what to say. “Um, hi?” he starts, awkwardly.
“Hi.” I repeat, not knowing what else to say.
Finally, the silence between us drives him crazy enough to do something. “I’ve missed you.” He whispers to me, finally breaking that awkward barrier between us.
“I’ve missed you too.” He reaches out to take my suitcase from me.
"I promise I’ll explain everything later,” Finn tells me, looking around. “But unless we want to be late for our plane ride, I
suggest we start moving.” He runs his hand through my hair. “I still can’t believe how grown up you are now.”
“How have you been?” Finn asks, after we take our seats on the plane.
“Um… pretty good, I guess. How about you?”
He shrugs. We’re quiet for a while. After the plane takes off, I zip my jacket zipper up farther and cross my arms in front of me. “Are you cold?” he asks.
I nod. “Have been a lot lately.”
“Always cold…” he mumbles to himself.
“What? You know why?”
"No." He bites his lower lip and looks around, making sure that no one
is listening to us. When he is convinced that none are eavesdropping, he turns back to me, and murmurs, "Okay, listen. There are a lot of things that are different about us now. Here's some things that you need to know
about being a wolf. First of all, you need to know that there are four
packs: the Greenstone pack, our pack, the Feldtman pack, the Minong pack, and the Red Oak pack. They're all named after mountain ridges on Isle Royale. Second, after you have had a few days to get used to Isle Royale, we have school to go to."
"You mean that they have school for wolves?"
"Yeah. What? Did you not think so?"
"No, I'm just... surprised. Everything about this new world is different to me so, please, continue explaining, but I have a LOT of questions."
Finn laughs. He continues to explain.
"The school we go to is an old abandoned building that used to be a
welcoming center for the hikers for Isle Royale National Park. It was shut down some number of years ago, and the packs rebuilt the basement and expanded it to be our school grounds. Kind of like a boarding school, almost."
"Do we sleep at the school?"
"Well, the Greenstone pack doesn't. We have our own little... hotel if you wish to call it. It's smaller than that, though. Really, it's just an overgrown log cabin. We love it there, but all the other packs sleep in the school's dormitories. The last thing you need to know right now is where we’re going.”
“Yeah!” I exclaim. “That might be useful. All I know so far is what it’s called.”
“Isle Royale is in the middle of Lake Superior. It really is a wonderful place, Natasha! There are all sorts of stuff to do. There’s biking, hiking, swimming, everything!”
Over the loudspeakers, I hear soothing music. “What time is it?” I ask.
Finn looks at his watch. “About eight-thirty.” I look out the window,
and Finn says, “You’d better rest, Natasha. The Alphas keep us up pretty
late, sometimes. I want you to be well rested. I promised your parents I wouldn’t let anything happen to you. I intend to keep that promise.”
I look him in the eyes, and blurt, “I’m too excited to sleep. Besides, I know you won’t, and I want to stay awake with you. For heaven’s sake, I haven’t seen you in five years.”
He looks at me, and says, “I’ll rest if you do.”
I narrow my eyes at him and ponder this. “Okay,” I finally relent. Leaning my head back, I close my eyes. Not able to help it, I peek them back open and see, out of the corner of my eye, Finn resting, too. I’m glad he took my advice. I am also happy to have a protector and a friend like him. “Good night, Finn,” I whisper, not expecting any reply.
“Good night, Natasha,” he whispers back to me.
I’m moving, but not at my own will. Someone is carrying me somewhere, but I’m too tired to care. I think that I must be dreaming. Then again, I might not be fully unconscious. This movement might actually be happening.
It’s warm, and I have no idea why. My eyelids seem to be forced shut. Maybe I’m dead, I think inside my head, but there’s no pain, not even the unusual movement there had been just seconds ago. Everything is still, peaceful.
Thoughts from the past few hours come rushing back, all at the same
time. Finn! Where is he? Is he okay? I have no idea where he could be. The
thing I only know is the blackness surrounding me is endless.
I tell my eyes to open, and this time they obey. The first thing that I see is that we’re not on the same plane anymore. We were on a smaller one. The second thing is that when I peek my eyes open to look out the window, the scenery is very different. We must be close to out destination.
I breathe in and out, deeply. Finn realizes I’m awake, and asks softly, “How did you sleep?”
“Fine,” I reply to his inquiring. “Did you carry me here?”
“Yeah,” He whispers. “I didn’t want to wake you.”
“Thanks,” I compliment him, grinning. “I didn’t sleep very well last night. I was too busy thinking about today."
He smiles, and chuckles, “You really missed me that much?” It is more like talking to himself, but I answer it anyway.
“Course! I’ve missed you so much! When we moved, that was the hardest
time in my life. And when my mom told me you had moved to Colorado, I
thought I’d never see you again.”
His tone becomes harsher, as he says, “That isn’t true, and you know
I sigh and close my eyes. “I know. I was scared and I couldn’t help it. You mean a lot to me. I mean, you're my best friend.”
As I fight back the tears of the dreaded memories, Finn holds me closer and runs one of his hands up and down my back. This is nice. He’s treating me like he used to, like a little sister and a best friend. I have never had siblings, but I consider Finn a brother. He cares for me and looks out for me, just like an older brother would.
I think that I have control of the tears, but one slips down my cheek, onto my chin, and drips onto Finn’s hand over mine. He looks down at me, but I’m too afraid to return the sight. He says, “I’m sorry. I shouldn't have been so insensitive like that.”
“It’s okay, it’s just, you never wrote, you never called. I thought you had disappeared from my life completely, until last night.”
“I know, and for that, I’m sorry. The Alphas wouldn’t let me write to
you, or communicate with you in any way. They said that your time as one of us would come soon enough.”
I wipe my eyes, and say, “Sounds like they’re pretty selfish.”
“No, not really. They’re just trying to protect our secret.” I nod
thoughtfully. Why would anyone forbid Finn to talk to me, shifting or not?
Finn reads my expression, and adds, “The Alpha male is Josh Cleveland and the Alpha female is Ember Cleveland.” There is a long moment of silence. “I need to tell you something,” Finn says suddenly. “Well, two things, really.”
“Anything.” I wonder what is going to come next.
“Ember and Josh weren’t always the Alphas, you know. Before them, your parents were in charge.”
He nods, then asks, “How hard is it for you to phase?”
“Not hard,” I say. “Why?”
“Your parents were the Alphas. It shouldn’t be hard for you at all. It’s in your blood, I guess.”
“How come they never told me?” I ask myself.
“Oh, we’re bound pretty tight. We can’t tell anyone outside our own Pack about anything. Believe me, if that weren’t true, I would’ve called you the day I found out and told you everything. I wanted to so badly, but, I couldn’t. One more thing.”
He says, “When you go to Isle Royale, you start to look for your
Soulmate. It's called Soul-binding. It’s a tradition. When you find, him or her, you get to communicate telepathically. It’s a way to keep in touch over longer distances.” He pauses for a second. “Um… I was wondering… if you’d like you and me to be Soul-bound to each other.” Finn’s whole body goes tense after he finishes.
I don’t hesitate for a second. “I think that we already are Soul-bound
to each other.”
"So is that a yes?" I nod, happy for the first time since I saw him
earlier this night.
He smiles, then sighs in relief. "Oh, good. I was slightly afraid that you'd say no."
I raise an eyebrow at him. “Now, just think about that for a minute. Why on earth would I say no? You’re the best friend I’ve ever had. It will be awesome.”
“It will also help me protect you when I’m not with you. I can keep an
eye on you without looking over your shoulder all the time.”
After we finish talking, the plane starts diving though the air. Pretty soon, we’re on the ground. Finn thanks the pilot, as I get our bags out of the plane. I hand him his backpack, and he leads me into the woods. “We’ll camp a few minutes away from here. Too many humans make me uncomfortable. Is that okay with you?”
“Totally,” I answer. “Whatever you think is best. You’d know more than I do.”
He turns around and smiles at me. “This way,” he says, pointing to the barely seeable path in front of us. “Just a mile. Can you handle that?”
“Of course I can handle a mile. I walk a mile through the woods behind
my house every day!”
He chuckles, saying, “Well, that’s good, because we do a lot of running. The Pack, I mean.” He grabs my hand. “Be careful. It’s dark and the woods are full of life at night. Not to mention that you can trip over some hurtful things.” I nod.
He leads me through the woods, always a few steps ahead of me. Every
once in a while, I catch him glancing behind him, checking to make sure that I’m still here. What does he think I’m going to do? Freak out and run away?
After a little more than one mile, he stops, and says, “This is it.”
There’s a bare spot in the middle of a circle of trees. A pile of rocks
in the middle of the circle. Looks like a place where people have camped. “What is this? For what?” I ask slowly, confused.
He sets his backpack down, and answers me with, “We’ll camp here for
tonight. It’s where I was brought when I first came to Isle Royale.” He
places the rocks in a circle and lays some wood into the already made fire pit. After he gets the fire started, he unpacks a few things from his backpack. A few non-perishable snacks, bottled water for the two of us, and a sleeping bag. How he got that all into one bag, I’ll never know.
I unpack my sleeping bag and uncurl it. I replace my converse with my fur boots. I sit on my sleeping bag and warm my hands in front of the fire. Finn hands me a bottle of water, and I smile at him, “Thanks.”
He smiles back at me. “No problem.” He hands me a bowl of little snacks.
I ask, “How on earth did you get all this into that bag?” I motion to
the black backpack.
He shrugs. “I like to come prepared. Do you like it?”
“It’s wonderful. Thank you, again.”
Finn comes over to me and sits beside me. After we eat, he asks, “How’s your family?”
“Good,” I answer. “Yours?”
From there we talk for a while about our families, past trips, school, and what not. After maybe an hour, Finn says, “Are you ready for bed, yet?”
I sigh, not wanting this to end. I've missed just talking with Finn. “I don’t want to sleep and I doubt that I can, but yeah, I am tired.”
“Let’s talk more tomorrow. I’m tired, too.” He turns to his side and
gives me a good night hug. “Good night, Natasha.”
I hug him back, saying, “G'night, Finn.”
He goes over to his sleeping bag and lays down into it. I snuggle down
into my own and think of how great a day it’s been. I’ve got to be with
Finn, we arrived safely at Isle Royale, and we're almost to the Pack.
As I’m thinking of this, I see tiny snowflakes flutter down from the
sky. Oh, great. The last think we need is snowy weather while we’re
camping. It’s very cold. It is January, I think to myself. And we are in Michigan, in the middle of Lake Superior. Fantastic.
I start to shake. I turn around to face the fire. Finn is facing the
same way. He doesn’t even look slightly fazed by the upcoming weather. “Are you cold?” he asks, concerned.
“A-a little,” I lie. “I’m not exactly used to polar weather yet.” He laughs quietly. “Do you know what the time or the t-temperature is?”
He looks down to his wrist watch. “It’s 1:30 in the morning and its twenty degrees Fahrenheit.” No wonder I am freezing. At this temperature, anyone would!
“How c-come you aren’t freezing your t-tail off?” I ask.
He props himself up onto his elbow, and answers, “Male wolves have
thicker skin. Like a built in heating blanket. I’m never cold.” He stresses the word ‘never’. “Do you need an extra blanket?” I nod, and he gets up and grabs something out of his endless backpack. He drapes another blanket over me and bends down to look me in the eyes.
“How did you know that I was freezing?”
He answers, smiling, “You may be able to tell me that you’re fine, but
the color of your lips is saying something different. They’re purple. It’s kind of hard not to notice.” We wait a moment before continuing. I have stopped shivering. “Are you warmer now?” he asks, caringly.
I nod. I am warmer. The extra blanket has kept all the available heat around me better than my sleeping bag has. He nods too, and says, “Alright, I’m going back to bed now. Call me if you need anything else.”
I sigh, deeply, breathing in the smell of the spruce on my blanket and
something else that I couldn’t categorize.
A few minutes pass, and I hear Finn snoring softly. Soon after, I fall asleep, dreaming dreaming about what is to come.
I awake to the sound of barking. I thought at first that I’m still
dreaming, but when I open my eyes, I see two, giant wolves. One is a brown, Timber wolf. The other is a white, Ethiopian wolf. I'm just about scream, but before I can, I hop out of my sleeping bag and phase. I growl menacingly at them, a warning. I don’t know who they are or what they’re doing here, and I’m not taking any chances.
Finn jumps out of bed and in front of me, keeping me from attacking.
“Whoa! Natasha! Calm down. It’s just the Alphas.”
I calm down enough to turn back to human. “Sorry,” I say, looking down guiltily.
Finn comes to my side, and says, “Don’t worry about it. I had the same reaction, only,” he chuckles, “There was no one to stop me from attacking.” I laugh lightly, still uneasy. “Yeah, I learned the hard way.”
All of a sudden, three other wolves come out of the woods from nowhere. I step back, unsure. I didn’t want to get too scared. Last time I did, I phased.
The Alphas are a bit intimidating, big and strong. Much bigger than my wolf form. I wonder what they will do, but all they do is stand there looking back and forth at Finn and me, as if they are reading what we’ll do next. Finn breaks the silence, by saying, “Josh, Ember, everyone, this is Natasha. The one I have been telling you about. Her parents are Daniel and Forrest Winterpike, the past Alphas.”
When he says this, Ember turns back to her human form. She has long,
dark brown hair and brown eyes. Her skin is darker than Finn’s, more of a
coffee color. She smiles at me, and greets me with a, “Hello, I’m Ember.
Nice to meet you, Natasha.” She holds out her hand.
I shake it, and say a simple, “Hi.”
She releases my hand, and says, “I’ve been waiting for you to reach this age, but I had no idea you’d be this far along. You phased faster than I can and your wolf is beautiful!”
I smile, slightly. “Thanks, but I didn’t know about any of this until
two days ago.”
“That’s understandable. I’m sure Finn told you why, right?”
“I got her up to date on almost everything. There are just a few things that I left out.”
Ember nods. “Good. She needs to know.”
Just as she finishes, the dark brown wolf, shifts. “This is Alpha Josh.” Finn explains.
Josh has short, blonde hair. His eyes are a mix between blue and hazel. “Hello,” he says. “Welcome to the Greenstone Ridge Pack, Natasha.”
“Thanks,” I nod my head towards him, and then look over at the three
other wolves. One white as snow, one russet brown, and one sandy like the
beaches that I love to visit.
“This is Willow,” Finn says, as the sandy wolf changes to her very small human form and looks down at the ground. She has strait, chin-length black hair and… purple eyes? I’ve never seen any eyes like hers before. Her skin is pale, and she looks the size of a 10 year-old.
She looks up shyly at me, and whispers, “Hello.” Then lowers her head again, not meeting my eyes.
Finn leans down to me, and whispers in my ear, “She’s shy when she first meets you, but make no mistake. She’ll talk you to death by tonight.” I nod and he goes on farther with the intros. “This is Chase.”
He points to the boy that changes from the red-brown wolf. Chase has
light-brown hair and blue as blue can be eyes. He doesn’t seem shy at all. Chase grins at me with a nice, “Hello, Natasha. Welcome to the Pack.”
I smile slightly. “Great to be here.”
Finn points to the changing white wolf and says, “And this is Mariah.
She’s the Alpha’s daughter.” He does not sound too happy about Mariah.
Mariah is pretty. She has white-blonde hair and dark brown eyes. Her skin is so white, I wouldn’t be surprised if she could get the part of 'Snow White'.
She gives him an evil look and, half-heartedly, smiles at me, saying,
“Nice to meet you, Natasha.”
I move closer to Finn, only slightly, not enough for anyone to see, but it makes me feel a little more secure and safe. “Hi.”
Mariah’s smile becomes something devious. “I hear that you can phase
Josh turns his head to stare at Mariah. “Mariah, no.” He orders. She
totally ignores him, still staring at me, expecting an answer.
“Yeah, I guess you can say that,” I answer, not sure what else to do or
Finn moves slightly in front of me, saying, “Mariah.” His tone is urgent and slightly annoyed, as if this happens every day, and he’s tired of it. Looking back at Mariah, I believe that is the perfect answer.
Her mouth is pulled up slightly at the corner, and her black-brown eyes say, “Bring it on, Newbie.” Right now, she has a scary resemblance of a shark. “Well,” she starts, “if you’re not going to play first, I’ll start the game.” She phases into her white wolf, crouches back, and jumps into the air.
Finn leaves my side in a rush and phases into a huge, jet-black wolf,
right in front of me. Finn leaps onto Mariah, keeping her away from me.
Willow and Chase start to move towards the fight, as if they want to
help (on which side, I don’t know).
But Josh holds his hand out, saying, “No. Let them work it out
themselves. They’ve been at each other for a while. Let them get it out of their systems.” Willow nods and steps back a couple of feet. Chase, on the other hand, looks like Josh just asked him to not eat for a month. He grinds his teeth, and I get the feeling that he doesn’t like Mariah much either.
My eyes go back to the wolf fight. Finn and Mariah are going at it hard, biting each other and trying to pin the other down. Finn’s bigger, so he has the upper hand. He knocks Mariah to the side and slams her into a tree. Her wolf lets out a howl in pain and she looks at me.
When I look into her eyes, I see what she’s thinking. “I didn’t mean it. You don’t know me. He’s not going to stop.” I get a wave of guilt thrown upon me. She doesn’t want this anymore that I do! That simple comment was just her way of playing around. She isn’t cruel, and like her eyes said, I don’t know her, yet.
I have to stop the fight, I think, but how? Finn raises his paw and prepares for the final strike. I look around, hoping that one of the Alphas will stop the insanity. Ember and I lock eyes. She mouths to me, “Do what you need to do.” I nod, understanding what has to happen.
I phase and jump in front of Mariah. Finn doesn’t see me in time, and his paw slashes across my shoulder, it flings me over to the right, and I slam against a rock. I hurt so much, it’s almost unbearable. I shift back to human, sitting up.
Finn looks stunned for a second, and then the truth of his actions
smacks him. He rushes over to me, shifting to human as he goes. “Natasha!” he yells. “I’m so sorry." Josh comes over to kneel beside Finn. Finn asks, “Why didn’t you stop me? All this could have been avoided!”
“Your friend is a quick one. I didn’t see it coming before it was too late to stop her.”
Ember says, “Get her to Jade. She’ll fix her up.”
Josh says, “I’ll help her back to the Lodge. Nataha, can you walk?"
I nod. "Yeah. I think so." I stand up. "I'm fine, guys."
"Alright," Josh says.
Finn says, “I owe you. I’m your friend. I’ll help you back.” He rips
part of the end of his T-shirt off and wraps it around my shoulder, another around my neck, and one last one around my wrist. “That should hold you until I get you to the Lodge."
He helps me up from the ground and we start to walk. Mariah comes up to us, and says, “I’m sorry. This is my fault.”
Finn is a little too harsh on her. “Yeah, it kind of is.”
She lowers her head. “I really am sorry.” She walks away from us, and
Finn growls deep in his throat.
My whole body wrecks with pain. My shoulder must be a sight for sore
eyes, my neck has a good size gash on it, and my wrist apparently has a
cut. Yet, I can still walk. I'm not dizzy or loosing conciousness.
Finn makes his way through the woods, passing moss covered rocks and
trees as he goes.
“I get you back for one day and I do this to you,” Finn says. “How’s
that for friendship?!” I can’t stand to think that he blames himself. I
reach my hand over to his. He jerks his head to look at me, clearly not
expecting me to touch him so gently. I smile at him.
“I’m so, so sorry, Natasha. I’m so sorry.”
“I’m going to be okay,” I say, quietly. “I know you’ll take care of me.”
“That was an accident, Finn. Everyone has those.”
He looks into my eyes. “You haven’t changed a bit, in your personality, I mean.”
“Neither have you, still protective.” I chuckle and walk faster.
Another minute passes. Finn comes out of the woods, me following, and up to a wooden building. I can’t get a good look at it. We walk up to the door and knock.
When the door opens, I see a girl of maybe 19 years of age that looks
exactly like Josh. Her blonde hair is just barely touching her shoulders. Her blue and hazel eyes an exact copy of Josh’s. She smiles friendlily at us, and says, “Hi Finn.” When she sees my condition, she frowns, and asks, “Who is this and what happened to her? Come in."
Finn shoves past her as she finishes talking. “Natasha Winterpike. It was an accident, Jade. I... I didn’t mean to.” He takes me into a room with two bunk-beds inside with lots of color and light. He sets me into the lower part of the bunk-bed farther away from the door. “Can you help me get
her fixed up?”
“Of course, that’s what I do, but how did it-” Finn doesn’t let her
“Look, I’ll explain everything later, but just help her. I can’t bear to see her in so much pain.”
“Finn?” I rasp. “Finn, I'm fine."
Jade leaves the room. “Natasha, Jade’s our doctor here on the island. She’ll take good care of you."
When Jade comes in, she bandages my cuts up. Finn stays with me the
entire time. I stay sitting up the entire time.
“You’ll need to rest for a while,” Jade says, as she completes rapping my cut skin. “At least a day or two. No overworking allowed, Missy.” She smiles.
“Okay, Jade,” I say, sleepily.
“Thank you, Jade,” Finn says.
She places a hand on his shoulder, and says, “She will be okay, Finn. I promise. All she needs is rest.”
He nods. “Yeah, I know.”
She gets up and leaves us alone. Finn’s face looks contorted. He looks
to the door, making sure she is gone, and then bends down in front of me, grabbing my hand and holding it tight.
“Finn, are you okay?”
He half laughs, half cries. He says, “You’re hurt… because of me, and there’s nothing I can do to take it back. I feel awful, Natasha.”
“Please don’t,” I beg him. “You were just trying to protect me from
Mariah. It wasn’t your fault.”
“Yes, it was,” he whispers, holding my hand tighter. “Mariah and I, we... we’ve had a rivalry going on from the day I got here, and I let that get in the way of your safety. I never should have been so stupid.” He is shaking uncontrollably now, having trouble with his emotions.
My eyes open farther, realizing that I need to help him calm down.
“Finn,” I say, holding his hand tighter.
When he, eventually, calms down so that he is not shaking any more, I give him a hug around his shoulders.
“Thanks,” he whispers.
“I’ve missed you.” I tell him again.
Finn chuckles. “I’ve missed you, too.” He squeezes me tighter, and I
groan at the compression. “Oh, sorry!” he says, placing me back into the bed and snuggling me in the covers. “Get some rest Natasha.”
“You need rest, too,” I object.
“I will sleep if you do.”
“Promise?” I ask.
“Promise. Now, listen, my bed is right across from yours. If you wake up and need anything, I’ll be right here. Okay?”
“Alright,” I say, slowly letting sleep take me.
When I awake, I feel light headed, but other than that, I'm fine. Better then that actually, I feel fresh and new. I scoot up and look around the room. Before I fell asleep, I wasn’t fully aware of everything around me. Now that I’m rested, I can fully function.
The room is a soft, creamy-brown color and every few feet, there is a
log pillar that comes from the outside of the cabin. There's also a window on the wall to my left and there’s light coming through the white curtains. My bed is incredibly soft and has an orange duvet on the top.
As I look farther around me, I see a door across from me that leads to what looks like a bathroom. On either side of that door, are two, very large, dark-wooded dressers. On the top of one there are four or five
pictures and on the other there is a lamp.
I look to my right and see a nightstand beside my bed with my picture of Finn and me in a frame. Odd..., I think to myself. I don’t remember putting anything out, let alone my favorite picture!
I look farther across and I notice a dark-blue bed is made up and it looks like it hasn’t been used for awhile. My backpack is flat and is hanging from his bedpost right next to his own black one.
I slip out of bed, uneasily, and walk over to one of the dressers.
Opening the one across from his bed, I catch his familiar earthy, spicy scent. I smile and close the drawer. I go over to the other dresser and open it easily. My own smell comes out, briefly, along with a small trail of Finn’s scent. I chuckle. He unpacked my clothes for me. How nice.
I grab a new, clean pair of jeans and a hoodie to go over my t-shirt. I
head towards the bathroom and shut and lock the door behind me. I turn the water on as hot as it can go and enjoy a nice shower.
After shutting the water off and getting dressed, I turn around and face the door, to find my bathroom bag hanging on the hook. Of course Finn knows what a bathroom bag is, I think to myself. I take it off the hook and look inside to find my hairbrush and toothbrush and paste. I brush my hair, carefully attempting to get all the tangles out. After it is all smooth, I
brush my teeth, thoroughly. Then I slip on my clothes, straightening them out so I look decent at the least.
Once I finish that, I pack everything back up and re-hang the bag. I open the door and yelp, jumping back and slipping of the wet floor. Finn is at the door and he catches me from falling. “Might wanna be more careful,
Natasha.” He says, smiling.
I blush slightly and push myself up again. “Were you the one that
unpacked my stuff?” I ask him suspiciously, but with a grin on my lips. He nods. “Thanks, that gives me one less thing to do today.”
“You must be hungry.” Finn assumes, taking my hand.
I nod. “I am very hungry.”
He chuckles. “Well,” Finn looks over at me to make sure I'm paying
attention as he leads me out of our room and into a dark hallway, “After
that spell of hibernation, I’d guess so.”
I stop dead in my tracks. What did he mean by saying that? “Hibernation? Wait, what do you mean?”
“You’ve been asleep for two days, Natasha. I was starting to think that
you’d never wake up.” He tries to hide his worry, but I can sense his
worried uneasiness instantly.
“I’ve slept… for two days straight?” He nods. “Oh boy. I’m so sorry.” I look down, worried that I’ve kept him in the dark so long.
“Hey,” he says, lifting my chin so that my eyes meet his. “It’s not your fault. You were healing. It is normal. Trust me.”
“Okay, I trust you.” I smile up at him, and he returns it.
“Come on, let’s get you something to eat, and like I said before, Willow wants to meet you.”
We walk into a log-cabin styled kitchen and Jade is at the stove,
cooking something that smells wonderful. “Hello, Natasha! Finally awake, I see. How are you?”
“Fine now, thanks to you.”
Finn leads me over to a table and sits me down. “Don’t push yourself,”
I glare at him playfully. “Finn, I’m just standing.”
Jade laughs and Finn and I join her. “You’re right, sorry. I’m
He sits down in the chair next to me. “I know.”
Jade puts a pan under the water and it sizzles. “It’s ready. Finn, would you call everyone in. Tell them it’s time to eat.”
“Where are they?” Finn asks, getting up out of his chair.
“Oh, they’re just outside. Go on, before it gets cold.” He hurries out
the door, and I watch after him. “He’s been really worried about you,” Jade says, bringing my eyes back to hers.
“I know, I feel bad for that, too.”
I play with my amber bracelet. Jade brings over a pan of breakfast food and notices my bracelet. “Where’d you get that? It’s really pretty.”
“Oh, this?” I hold up the bracelet as she nods. “Finn made it for me when we were little kids.”
“So, you guys are pretty close, eh?” she sits in the chair on the other side of me.
“Yeah, we are,” I answer truthfully.
She eyes my bracelet again. “May I take a closer look?”
“Sure,” I say, taking the bracelet carefully off.
She holds it and looks over it carefully. “The amber is called ‘Baltic Amber’.”
“How can you tell?”
“Baltic Amber is distinguished by its yield of succinct acid, hence the
name succinct.” She taps gently on the small stone. “Succinct has a
hardness between 2 and 3, which is rather greater than that of many other fossil resins.”
“Oh... okay.” I give her a look, trying to understand what she means.
She hands it back to me. “Amber often is used for healing.” I nod and
stare at my small stoned bracelet. “I’m sorry, sometimes I get too ahead of myself and start quoting stuff from books I’ve read.”
I smile at her. “It’s okay. I love books, too.”
“I have a whole shelf if you ever want to borrow one.”
“Thanks, Jade. I’d like that. What are you reading now?”
She smiles bigger. “Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater. It’s a book about
werewolves, but it’s also a love story. It’s really great.”
“Sounds good.” I look at the door.
“What is taking them so long?” Jade asks no one in particular.
She gets up and moves towards the door. When she opens it, Finn, Mariah, Chase, Willow, and another older teenage boy come in, soaking wet.
“Finn what happened?” I ask, jumping out of my chair.
All of them are laughing except for Mariah. She just walks through,
quickly, and goes down the hall. I hear a door slam shut and it being
locked. I look at Jade questioningly, but she mouths the word “Later”. Finn comes over to me and keeps grinning like a fool.
“What happened?” I ask, not being able to do anything but return his
“Chase,” Willow says, pointing to the guy behind her, “Decided that it
would be fun to dump a bucket of water on me-.”
“It was fun!” Chase exclaims.
“-And I got revenge,” Willow finishes.
“Oh, come on!”
“You guys go get changed. I will NOT have you spreading water all over
the place, or all over the dry ones! Skylar!!!” The older teenage boy,
Skylar, grabs Jade and pulls her into a giant, wet hug. “Uh! Now I’m all wet! You jerk.”
She walks away from me as Mariah comes out of her room, dressed much
warmer and drier. Skylar, Chase, Jade, and Willow go to their rooms and change. Finn turns to me and wraps an arm around my shoulders.
“Oh, no you don’t. Not me too. Sorry, but you need to dry off first.”
Finn doesn’t listen and as I back away from him, he follows me. I move
around the table as fast as I can, trying to get away from him. I quietly squeal as he catches me before I can dodge away. My feet come off the ground in his embrace, and he transfers all the water he can onto me.
“Finn! You are SO going to get it for this one!”
“You have to catch me first.” He runs out the door.
“Oh, no you don’t,” I say, running out after him.
When I get outside, I look around for him. All I see is the green woods, a light dusting of frost on the ground. I turn my back to the Lodge, wondering if he went inside without me. I feel something butt into my shoulder. I turn around and gasp. Finn’s huge black wolf is right in front of me, his chocolate brown eyes glistening.
“Hey, you,” I say, rubbing the top of his muzzle. He moves out of the way of my hand and licks it. “Ew! Finn! That’s gross!” He makes a barking laugh. I move closer to him and wrap my arms around his neck, feeling through his coarse top fur and smooth undercoat.
After a minute, he uses his nose to push me towards his back. “What? You want me to get on?” He huffs a “yes”. I smile and climb on. “Only a short ride,” I whisper into his ear. He takes off quite fast, and I have to grasp his fur tightly in order to not fall off.
He runs into the woods, and I am instantly keeping my eyes closed as
tight as I can. I move my arms, hesitantly, to brand around his neck,
keeping me closer to him. “Finn! Slow down! I’m going to fall off!” I start to slip off his back, but he comes to a stop and shifts back to human form.
“You okay?” he asks.
“That was the scariest and most exciting, adrenaline rushing thing
He laughs. “Thought you might like that, Tashie.”
“Tashie,” I sigh. “That was your nickname for me when we were kids.”
“We still are kids, Natasha, but yeah. I thought that I should call you that after all that’s happened.”
“What do you mean, ‘all that’s happened’?”
I look into his eyes, as he answers, “Well, just all the change, and for being apart for so long.”
“Finn! Natasha! Come on!” Jade yells from the Lodge.
“Come on,” Finn whispers. “Let’s go eat breakfast.”
As we are eating with my new family, I look at each of them carefully as they are talking. Mariah hardly ever talks, just glares at Finn. I’ve decided that she’s probably not the best one to get on the wrong side with.
Chase seems to be the jokester of the pack. He always smiles and kids
around. He’s so nice and very welcoming to me. He only says encouraging things, helping me accept what I am and the changes that have happened or that will happen.
Willow is the shy type, or at least that’s what I thought. She is
talking slightly more than she did in the woods, a few days ago now. I have found out that she loves to dance and do gymnastics, which she is perfect for with her slight, small frame. She also loves music, just like me.
Jade is the type that talks when something needs to be said. She doesn’t say much when there’s nothing to be said. She loves to read, like she told me before, and she’s always trying to improve herself in her works and knowledge. She seems very nice.
Skylar is… interesting. He is very tall with light skin and with
red-blonde hair and hazel eyes. He seems to like Jade a lot. I catch him throwing her grins, and she blushes in return. I’m not going to ask about that now. Maybe later.
Josh is a leader type, to say the least. Not that’ he’s bossy, but you
can just tell that he’s in charge. The way he says things, you can hear the authority in his voice. He’s very nice though, very welcoming. He doesn’t blame Mariah or Finn for their mistake. He only does what’s best for the Pack.
Ember is also a leader, but in a different way than Josh. She is always trying to figure people out and try to help them. She’s constantly putting others before herself. Her sweet smile reassures me.
Wow. How did I know all of that by just listening to them talk?
“Ember?” I ask, after the commotion and chatter settles down some.
“Yes, dear?” she answers, kindness in her dark eyes.
“I-I need to talk to you.” Finn gives me a worried look. “Alone,
“Okay, do you want to talk now?”
“If you could, please.”
She gets up and moves towards the door. I follow her, after giving Finn a small smile to let him know that, physically at least, I am fine. She leads me back to the hallway and turns right, into another room.
The room is filled with various things: a piano, a TV with a glass shelf filled with movies next to it, a shelf next to the piano with many plants, and two sofas. Ember sits down on one side of the sofa and she motions for me to sit on the opposite side of the couch.
I sit down, as she asks, “What did you need to talk about, Natasha?”
I play with my amber bracelet, as I always do when I’m nervous. “I
wanted to ask you about… something.”
“Okay, what is it?” she says in her sweetest tone.
I look up into her eyes. They show nothing but concern, kindness, and understanding for me. I say, “A few minutes ago, when everyone was talking and telling me about everything here and everyone, I… what I mean is… I think that I know more about you and this place than you told me.”
She looks sweetly confused. “What do you mean?”
“I-I don’t know what I mean,” I say running a hand through my hair,
frustrated. “I’m trying to explain, I really am, but I…don’t know what’s
going on. Everything’s changed so fast and my mind hasn’t had time to catch up.” I feel a single, silent tear come down my cheek.
She puts a hand on my shoulder and looks at me, understanding sparkling in her eyes. “I know exactly how you feel, about the instant change.”
I wipe my eyes. “You do?”
She nods. “Mm hm. When I was your age, I first turned and when my
parents sent me to Isle Royale, I saw it as a betrayal. You see, I was very close to my parents. They were my best friends. Especially my mom. She and I did everything together, and when she sent me here without an excuse, well… I fell apart.”
I listen to every detail of her story, knowing that she knows what I am going through. “When I arrived, my Alphas, they tried to help me move on, but I was holding onto my misfortune so much that I couldn’t see the good things that were here. Good people, new family and friends.”
She pauses for second and wipes a small tear that found its way out. “I
was around seventeen when I couldn’t take it anymore. I went out to the
shores of Lake Desor. I went scouting around the borders and found a group of cliffs that were ninety, maybe one-hundred feet drop. That night at around midnight, I went to the top of the cliffs. I was so torn up inside, I didn’t see any hope at all.
I didn’t know that I had a secret admirer, and he followed me that night all the way to the cliffs.”
“Josh.” I mumble.
She smiles. “Yes, Joshua Samuel Cleveland. He followed me and tried to stop me. I didn’t care what he thought at the time, I was too upset. When I was about to jump off, he told me to just listen to him for one more minute. I did as he said, and he then told me his feelings for me.” She paused, taking in my reaction.
"I was stunned at the time," She continued. I had never looked at him
very much, but when he said that he loved me, it woke me from my sorrow. I could see everything so clearly. I realized that, I kind of liked him, too.
He came closer, but the cliff edge couldn’t hold both of our weights, so I pushed him back off the cracking ground. The edge crumbled and I fell into the Lake below. Lake Desor, as you will learn soon, is not a kind lake. It is very deep and has wicked waves and the temperatures are below freezing most of the time. It’s only the constantly moving water and wind
that keeps it from freezing over.
I was drowning, and I knew it, too. Josh, being Josh, did the stupid
thing: he jumped after me. He swam after me and dragged me back to the
shore. By then, a few of our friends had figured out that something was up
and they had come to Lake Desor. They helped Josh get me back to the Lodge and helped get me better. After that, Josh and I never separated. We’ve been together ever since.”
It takes me a minute to absorb all she has just said, her life’s story. “You have an amazing story, Ember, but, frankly, some of that I already knew, and I have no idea how I do know what I know about everyone.”
“So, that’s what you were talking about when you said that you know more than we’re telling you.” I nod. “You’re really worried about this, aren’t you?” I hug my knees to my chest and nod again. “If it really worries you so much, I’ll talk to Jade, Josh, and Skylar about it and see if we can’t
figure out what’s wrong, if anything at all. Okay?”
“Thanks, Ember. You’re doing me a big favor.”
She looks, puzzled, at the floor, and then asks, “How long have you
noticed this ‘all-knowing’ symptom? And to who have you noticed it?”
I blink my eyes a few times, trying to recall when it first started and to everyone that I’ve noticed a new piece of knowledge. “First time that it
happened? It was when I came home from after first phasing in my favorite place in the woods. The first person I noticed that I knew something new in? I think that it was my favorite teacher, my history teacher, Miss Evens. I noticed the change in her attitude, the next day, first and then I instantly knew that she had a date that night with a guy named James Thompson. He was a former-gang member that had change his ways. I asked her about it later, and she looked shocked. She said that only she and her date knew about it. When she asked me how I knew that, I didn’t have an answer. I just… knew.”
Ember stares at floor, deep in thought. “Ember? Is something wrong?”
She shakes herself out of her daze, and smiles uneasily at me. “No, its fine, Natasha. Really, it’s just-.” She cuts herself off and looks past me to the doorway.
I turn around to see Finn standing there. “Sorry, I just wanted to see if anything was wrong.” He looks seriously worried. His face is creased with lines and his jaw is set into what looks like a permanent frown.
I get up and move over to comfort him. “Everything’s fine, Finn. Natasha just had a few questions and a few things that she needed to talk to me about.” Ember reassures him.
Finn looks to me for an answer.
“Precisely what she said,” I answer, and he finally relaxes.
I suddenly got a wave of what he was thinking about just before. He was thinking about us… playing at a park somewhere. We’re little, maybe five or six years old. He’s pushing me on the swing, and we’re laughing. We look over to our parents, as if they’ve said something important. I get off, and we run towards the stream that runs by the park. We run into the water and start playing in the waves. Then his thoughts go back to the hallway door, from the point of view in the kitchen.
“Finn,” I say, frantic all of a sudden. “What were you just thinking
about, before you came in here?”
“Why? What’s wrong, Natasha?” He grabs a hold of my arms, as if he knows that I’m about to fall.
“Please, just answer me,” I whisper, grasping his arms to help me steady myself.
“I was thinking about us when we were little.”
“Yes and where were we when we were little? Tell me the exact details, please.”
“We were at a park in Florida, and we were six years old. We were playing on the swings before we went to play in the creek.”
“And our parents were there.”
“Yes… but how did you know all that? What’s going on? Ember?” His voice gets higher as he goes on. I am gasping now, and Finn knows it, too. He scoops me up and carries me to our room that we share with the other Pack members. Ember follows us.
After Finn sets me down in my bed, I say, “Finn really, I’m okay.”
“No, you’re not. You’re freaking out about something, and I don’t know
what it is or what is going on. Ember, please explain.”
She looks calm. “I would if I knew, Finn, really I would, but I don’t know. Give Josh, Jade, Skylar, and I some tome to talk about it and we’ll do everything we can. That is a promise that will NOT be broken.”
“Finn, you need to stop pacing a trench in the kitchen,” Chase teases.
“Chase, I can’t help it,” Finn answers, “What if it was your best friend or one of your family members? I’m worried about Natasha. What’s so wrong about that?”
“Finn, you need to get your mind off my issues,” I whisper.
We are all silent as we sit in the, what I would call, family room, the one with the piano, couches, and TV. Finn and Mariah are the only ones that are standing. Finn is facing Willow, Chase, and I that sit on the sofas, while Mariah is to our side, running her fingers over the piano keys. “How about we give Natasha the grand tour?” Willow suggests.
“That’s a great idea!” Chase and I exclaim at the same time. We start
laughing, and eventually, Finn joins us, letting his worry fall away… for
“Okay, maybe I do need to get my mind off things. Come on, we do need to show her where everything is.”
Finn, Chase, Mariah, and Willow go ahead and go out the door, and onto a porch. I have no idea where they are going, so I stay behind. Finn looks behind him to see if I’m following and slows to match my pace. He reaches for my hand, and I take it gladly.
I feel a rush to my head again and I pause, mid-step. This time, I see me earlier this morning, and then I see me and Finn when we were maybe eleven or twelve years old.
“Happening again?” Finn asks, bringing me back to the present.
I nod and continue walking. “Where to first?” I ask.
Chase turns around to face us and walks backwards. “Well, what do you
want to see?”
“Everything,” I say, “This is home, now. I want to know it well.”
Chase nods and continues walking backwards. “Chase, if you keep doing
that you’re going to fall,” Willow tries to warn him.
“Nah, I’ll be good, Willow.”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Just then, Chase trips over a fairly good sized rock on the side of the road and falls. “Told you so.”
Finn starts to laugh, uncontrollably. Mariah says, “Oh, you dog!” and stomps away, back to the house.
I look after her. “You saw that he was going to trip, didn’t you?” I
“Oh, you….” I chuckle, swatting at him, weakly.
He keeps chuckling. “Come on, you guys. We don’t have to wait for the
slowpoke!” Willow teases.
She runs ahead, down the road, as Chase gets up, and yells, “Get back
Finn and I follow them. Willow, finally, slows down in front of a plain field. It looks like a football field. “This,” Willow tell me, holding out her hand to the field, “Is where we train. We come here almost every day to test our abilities in stamina, strength, and speed. Lots of fun, really.”
I look the field over. It’s as big as a football field, only, without the yard lines. There’s a bin of thick wire on the nearest side of the field to us, filled with what looks like Frisbees, balls, different poles and spikes, and what not. “Those are used to put into the field for evasive training.” Finn whispers in my ear, when he sees me looking that way.
I nod, taking that into account. “Where to next, Willow?” I ask.
“Oh, no. I’m gonna pick the next place.” Chase announces.
“Okay, where are we going to go... Chase?”
“Follow me,” he says, walking up the road farther. He walks to what
looks like an old abandoned mine shaft. “Where are we?” I ask.
"Nowhere,” Finn says, his hold on my hand tightening. “Chase, you know
that we’re not supposed to be here.”
"Yeah, but I thought that we should show Natasha the entire island!” Chase whines.
“No. we shouldn’t go in there. It’s very old and it could collapse.”
“What do you think Willow?” Chase asks.
Willow bites her lower lip and frowns at the ground. “I think that we should try the other entrance. It’s safer and more stable. We shouldn’t go too deep, but I think it would be okay just to take a peak around.”
“Great. Follow me.”
He walks us a few more yards and we stop at another entrance. Chase runs into the cave without saying another word. “Chase!” Willow yells. “Don’t go in there! We have to get him.”
Finn rolls his eyes. Running towards the entrance, he says, “I’ll go get him.”
“Be careful!” I yell after him.
“I will. Don’t worry!” And with that, Willow and I wait.
“I think that we should go after them,” Willow says, after around ten
minutes have past.
“I think you’re right. Come on.” I jump up from the stump that I was
sitting on, and we dive into the miner’s shaft. “Is it stable in here?”
“I think so,” Willow says. The shaft walls start to shiver. I place my hand on the wall, gently. “Then again, maybe not. Should we just wait for them outside?”
“No,” I say, sternly. “I’m not going to leave this cave until all the Pack is out safely.” Where the heck did that come from? I barely know these people, and yet, I feel prone to protect them at any cost. Another mystery yet to be solved.
I keep walking farther into the tunnel. The walls quiver slightly again. “Natasha, I really think that we should head back. They’re smart boys. Well, Finn at least is. They’ll find their way out. The tunnel is a giant circle with lots of out branches. We could get lost.”
“Willow, you can go back, really, but I’m staying until I find them.”
“Then I’m staying, too,” she says stubbornly.
We walk a few minutes farther, and then I say, “You know what, Willow, you’re right.”
“Finally.” She mutters.
“You should go back and see if they are there. If not, come back. I’ll stay on the main branch of the tunnel.”
“No. Go. I’ll be okay.”
I give her a reassuring smile. “Okay, but Finn isn’t going to be happy about me leaving you.”
I roll my eyes. “I’ll deal with him later. Just go, I’ll find them.”
After she leaves, I continue down the hallway of the underground prison. After a while, I start to get jittery. What if they really aren’t down here? What if they’ve already gotten out and left me here? What if-.
Before I can finish the thought, the rocks behind me crumble, and I run for my life. I get out of the way in time to not get crushed under the small avalanche, but I realize that there’s smoke coming through the small holes. I start to cough and I run the opposite way, away from the dust and debris.
“Natasha?” someone yells. I know that voice, I think to myself.
“Natasha!” he repeats.
“Finn!” I rasp back. “Finn, where are you?”
“I’m at the wall, the one that just fell down.”
I run back to the collapsed rocks. “Finn, it fell, and I can’t find my way out.”
“I’m going to find you,” He calmly tells me. “Natasha, listen to me. The reason that they closed this mining shaft down was because of the toxins. Chase was very stupid to come down here in the first place. We need to get out. Go around the other way. I’ll meet you there. Okay?”
“Okay,” I answer, in my now raspy voice. “Hurry.”
“I will.” And with that I hear him leave.
I turn around and start running the other way.
Three minutes, and then I crouch down, coughing so hard that my vision
blurs. I lift my shirt collar to cover my mouth and nose, but it does
little to help.
“Finn! I... I’m over here!”
I hear footsteps come towards me. “Natasha! There you are.” I feel his arms scoop under me and he slips me around, easily, to his back. My arms wrap around his neck, and I refuse to let go.
“Finn, I don’t feel well.”
“I know, I know, but we need to get out here. Then I promise that I’ll take care of you. I’m so sorry.”
He runs through the tunnel as the walls quiver much more violently. When my eyes open, I see Finn covered with dust. “What the heck?” Finn exclaims, as he comes to an instant stop. “What is that?”
I look up to see what he’s staring at. On the ceiling is a row of blinking, red lights. They start to blink faster, and Finn whispers, “Oh, no.” he takes off faster than he has been going.
“Finn, what’s… wrong?” I ask, barely able to get the words out.
Finn slides me around and holds me tight to his chest. He says
something, but it’s incoherent.
“What?” I ask.
“Close your eyes and hold your breath!”
I do as he says. He walks a few more feet and then jumps over a long, solid rock pillar that has fallen, and he crouches behind it.
The rock walls start to quake. The floor starts to rumble. Then we hear a colossal, “BOOOOOM!”
I burry my face in my knees, and Finn hides his face in my hair, his
arms tightening around me. “It’ll be okay!” Finn tells me repeatedly.
The booming stops, and then there’s the falling rocks. There’s so much dust. I'm choking on the smoky debris that the rock slide has left.
Finn peeks his head above us both. He gets up and swings me to his
back and starts running. “That was dynamite. If I’m right, there will be
more up ahead. We have to get ahead of it before it blows, otherwise, we’ll be trapped down here.”
I burry my face into his neck, hoping and praying that we will make it. “We’re almost there, Tashie. We’re almost out!”
I sigh, heavily. We’re almost out of the collapsing cave. We’re almost
to safety. I hear another explosion and I look behind me to see a ton of
rock slide down around thirty feet from us. “Finn!”
“I know. We’ll make it. I promise.”
I nod. “We’ll make it,” I repeat, more for him than me.
When I see light coming from the tunnel ahead, I smile and start to
think that we’ll make it for sure this time.
Just when we get less than ten feet from the exit, there’s another
explosion and it closes out the exit.
“No,” Finn whispers. He sets me down on the ground and goes over to the recently made, rock wall, knocking on it, harshly, and kicking it. “NO!” he yells, so loud that I have to cover my ears.
I get up to try and calm him. “Finn-."
“Back away, Natasha!” he says, putting his hand up in front of him, and then removes it, quickly. I back away and watch as he irrupts in pain. He turns into his black wolf and lets out a tortured howl. And then another.
I wait for him to calm down. After howling a few times, he changes back and looks at the ground, his face a picture of agony. He looks to my frightened face, and his softens. He comes over to me and sits down, cross-legged, in front of me. “I-I’m sorry, Natasha. I don’t know what else to do.”
I move over to sit in his lap. “Finn, it’s okay. Really. Help will come.”
Finn looks up at me. He wraps his arms around me, making my ear smash
against his chest. “I promise, once we get out of here, I will do all I can to make sure that you don’t get hurt anymore.”
“It’s okay, Finn, really. I’ve always been a danger magnet. Remember, when we were little kids. The time that my clothes caught on fire at the campfire we went to? And remember the time I cut myself trying to clip the flowers in the garden? This isn’t new.”
He chuckles slightly. “Yeah, I remember all that, but this is very
different. I don’t think that cutting yourself with scissors is going to kill you.”
“We’ll make it, just like you said.”
Then we hear a crushing of rock and voices outside the exit.