Authors: Tammy Blackwell
Tags: #Young Adult, #Paranormal & Supernatural, #Werewolves
Timber Wolves Trilogy :
Copyright © 2011
All rights held by the author.
Just in case the boys turning into wild animals under the light of the full moon didnʼt make it obvious, this is a work of fiction. All characters and events exist only in the mind of the writer.
Any resemblance to real life is a figment of your imagination.
To my YAAPers:
I wrote this one for you
In loving memory of
Rickey E. Blackwell
John Davis smells like Play-Doh. When we were in elementary school, it wasnʼt a big deal. I mean, we were kids. Play-Doh was pretty high on the awesome scale. But there comes a time when a guy should stop smelling like crafting supplies and develop a more manly scent, like campfire or gym floor.
I had been roaming up and down the crowded street trying to ditch John and his noxious odor for over an hour, but he was too oblivious for it to work. He followed me to the trashcan, stood in line with me when I ordered a second corndog, and even waited outside the girlʼs bathroom.
“I still canʼt believe our senior year is finally here, you know? I feel like weʼve been waiting for this one year our whole lives.” He paused to lift up his NASCAR hat, running his fingers through his hair. My attention drifted as he blathered on about post-graduation plans. I briefly considered stabbing him into silence with the pointy end of my corndog stick, but decided there were too many witnesses. Granted, most everyone was too busy oooh-ing and ahhh-ing as Jase Donovan regaled them with his
I beat the NCAAʼs top Point Guard in a one-on-one
story to notice my existence, but I figured the screaming and blood might draw some attention.
I was trying desperately hard to not be jealous that Jase was entertaining the masses, leaving me at the mercy of the only other social outcast within a five mile vicinity. I knew this would happen the moment he suggested heading out to The Strip, a mile long stretch of road that served as Western Kentuckyʼs go-to summer spot. The shops and tourist attractions of The Strip were overrun with vacationing families and tanned locals. It was the second group that mobbed Jase the moment we got out of our car. My brother had taken his rightful place as the center of attention while I was relegated to the Loserʼs Table with John Davis, whoʼs inability to grasp the fact we hadnʼt been friends at any time during the past twelve years was truly spectacular.
I was coping by playing a round of Anywhere But Here, imaging myself trekking through Europe with nothing but a backpack and limit-free credit card, when John nudged me back to reality with his elbow. “Do you know them?” he asked, nodding towards two guys sitting on a bench in front of Lyndaʼs Beauty Parlor and Tanning Emporium. They were obviously brothers, both possessing the same chestnut colored hair and aristocratic bone structure. The younger one was sprawled out, a book propped against one knee. I tilted my head, attempting to read the title, but he was too far away to make out the words. I was half-tempted to just go over and ask. The slight smile playing on his lips as he scanned the pages made me think he wouldnʼt mind the interruption.
In contrast, the older brother looked as though he might be inclined to eat children on occasion. It wasnʼt just his size; there something about the way he sat, as if he was waiting to pounce on the first person who wandered too close. He scowled at the world in general, and me in particular.
They say a person can get used to anything. Maybe one day Iʼll get used to being stared at, but I doubt it. According to my mother, people stare because theyʼre intrigued by my “unique beauty.” Of course, sheʼs a mother. She has to say stuff like that.
The thing is, there really isnʼt anything horribly wrong with any of my physical features when taken individually. Hair that is so blond it looks silver? Kinda cool. Pale ivory skin that can only manage to burn and blister in the sun? Appeals mostly to the Goth and Victorian crowds, but not a tragic flaw. Eyes a peculiar shade of icy blue that makes them seem almost translucent?
Even those might have looked okay on the right person. The problem occurred when you put all those monochromatic features on a single individual. It made me a freak, a fact driven home by my bottom-rung social status and an endless supply of gawkers everywhere I went.
Depending on my mood, I tend to handle the staring in one of two ways -- either I ignore it or I meet and hold their gaze, knowing that people find it unnerving to have the freak stare back. Thanks to John, I was all kinds of annoyed, which made it a see-if-you-can-make-them-flinch kind of day. I raised my eyes to meet his and waited for a reaction.
He never even blinked.
I didnʼt realize how tense I was until someone grabbed my shoulder. I reacted to the sudden invasion of my personal space without thinking. Luckily, Jase managed to block my right hook. The sight of my fist trapped in his hand caused my stomach to clench. Had I really just tried to hit my brother? What was wrong with me?
“Do you want to go get ice cream? Yes or no?” Jase asked slowly, as if I was mentally impaired. I heard someone behind him snicker.
Two corndogs and an order of onion rings had more than filled me up, but I ended up agreeing to dessert just as an excuse to stay near Jase and put some distance between me and Bench Boy. The plan had been to stick with the group, but after a few minutes of watching Ellie Davis, Johnʼs somewhat skanky little sister, throw herself at my brother, I decided I was willing to risk being on my own. After everyone got their order, I quietly slipped away, heading towards the lake.
“What happened back there?” Jase asked as soon as we were out of earshot. I hadnʼt realized he had followed me, but I was grateful. Although, I could have done without the whole concerned hovering thing he seemed intent on doing since my little episode.
“I wasnʼt trying to hit you. You just caught me off guard.”
“I said your name like five times. You were seriously zoning.” He jumped ahead, blocking my path. “Was someone bothering you?”
“It was just some guy with a staring problem.”
Jase worked the muscles in his jaw.
“Calm down. It was nothing.” I spotted a nice flat rock in the shade and started towards it.
The lake was considerably less crowded than the surrounding shops, restaurants, and attractions A few families splashed in the water, but most people preferred the public pool, since it didnʼt have the top layer of green slime that may or may not contain byproducts from the nearby chemical plants. We had a large chunk of the beach to ourselves, which suited me just fine.
Despite assuring Jase it was nothing, the incident with Sir Stares-A-Lot had shaken me up.
Iʼve dealt with my fair share of jerks, bullies, and weirdos over the years, but none of them had ever affected me like this guy. He hadnʼt done anything but look at me a whole lot longer than was socially acceptable, yet I was genuinely frightened of him.
I would have driven myself crazy trying to convince myself that he wasnʼt, in fact, a serial rapist or mass murderer, but luckily I had my brother there to distract me.
“Iʼm going back-to-school shopping,” I said as Jase polished off the last of my banana split,
“and Iʼm going to buy antimatter, baklava, a cyanide capsule, a D&D manual, an Easy-Bake Oven, the
soundtrack, a genetically modified goldfish, a harmonica, an imaginary friend, a janitorʼs uniform, a kidney off the black market, a loincloth, and...medieval weaponry.”
I gave a smug smile. Mom introduced us to the alphabet game when we were little with the purpose of keeping us entertained on long road trips. Over the years it evolved from a simple memory game to a contest to see who could come up with the most ridiculous items.
“Okay, then Iʼm going back-to-school shopping and Iʼm going to buy antimatter, baklava, a cyanide capsule, a
Dungeons & Dragons
manual, an Easy-Bake Oven, the
soundtrack, a genetically modified goldfish named Gabe, a harmonica, an imaginary friend, a janitorʼs uniform, kidney, loincloth, medieval weaponry for with which to slay, and...” He recited the alphabet under his breath. “N. Nude photos of Betty White.” It was obvious who was winning this round.
“Thatʼs just gross.”
He threw a hand over his heart and squeezed his eyes shut as if he was trying to hold back tears. “How can you say that about my Betty? Sheʼs such a beautiful woman.” He may have gone on, extolling the virtues of naked senior citizens, but I wasnʼt listening.
The guy from the bench -- the big, scary one -- was leaning against a tree about twenty-five yards away.
“Ground Control to Major Spazz. Can you hear me, Major Spazz?”
“Huh? What?” Jase was standing in front of me. I wasnʼt quite sure when that happened.
“Heʼs back,” I said, my voice a whisper for no good reason.
“The guy with a staring problem.” I nodded towards the small cropping of trees.
I knew by the way he called, “Iʼll be right back,” over his shoulder as he took off down the beach that he intended for me to stay where I was. I gave the idea some serious consideration before taking off after him.
“I know the rules,” Jase was saying as I approached. “This is our
territory. You either fight me now or leave.”
Was he insane? This guy could have passed as the Jolly Green Giantʼs considerably less green and jolly brother. It was entirely possible he could bench press a Volkswagen. Jase would get broken into a million little pieces.
“Iʼm not leaving.”
Jase pulled himself up to his full five feet and nine inches, which was less than impressive.
“Then we fight.”
“Like Hades you will,” I said, stepping up beside my brother. “Did you wake up on the stupid side of the bed this morning?”
Jase didnʼt even look at me. “Go away, Scout. This is none of your business.”
“Iʼm not leaving until you do.”
“I think you should go, Scout.” I made the mistake of looking up when he said my name. His eyes were an unusual shade of grey, no trace of blue, green, or yellow visible.
“No, thank you.”
He stepped over to me and someone made a strange whimpering sound. Oddly enough, I felt certain it had originated from Jaseʼs throat instead of my own. The other guy was less than a foot away from me, and I had to crane my neck to meet his steel colored eyes. Being in such a close proximity caused the hair on my arms to stand on end.
He leaned in so close I could feel his warm breath on my neck. I thought he was going to whisper something in my ear, but instead he quickly inhaled twice through his nose.
Well, I certainly had never been
“What is she?”
The question was aimed at Jase, but I took the liberty of answering. “What she is, is offended and quickly becoming angry.”
“Leave my sister out of it,” Jase said, sounding like a kid telling the bully to give his lunch money back.
Our new friendʼs eyes flickered quizzically between Jase and me. “Do they know about her?”
Jase didnʼt say anything, which apparently qualified as an answer. He finally backed away, giving me room to breathe.
“Iʼm staying,” he told Jase is a quiet, controlled voice. “I suggest your people stay out of my way. Iʼll take out anyone who crosses me.” He shot a pointed glance in my direction. “Even her.”
Once he was out of earshot, Jase wheeled on me. “Why couldnʼt you have stayed out of this? What am I supposed to do now?” He yelled out a stream of profanities and kicked a nearby tree hard enough to dislodge some bark and possibly a toe.
“Who was that? Whatʼs going on?” My anger matched, if not surpassed, his. “Were you seriously going to fight that guy? Heʼs like three times bigger than you!”
“Heʼs not that big.”
“It would have been like The Rock versus Seth Green. Now, tell me who he is.”
“I donʼt know.”
We glared at each other for a long moment. Finally, Jase stalked off, whipping out his cell phone along the way. I waited until he finished his call to strike again.
“Are you in a gang?” It was the most logical conclusion I could reach. I overheard just enough of his conversation to know he had called Toby, a cop. Convincing his naive young cousin to infiltrate a local gang sounded like the kind of idiotic plan Toby would have.
“Does this look like inner-city Chicago to you?” Jase gestured at the tiny town nestled in the forest. “Do you think the Bloods are doing drive-bys in pick-ups and mini-vans?”
“I think that something very weird just happened. Something about ʻterritoryʼ. Something that ended with Jean-Claude van Crazy threatening to snuff me out and sent you running to Toby. Did your idiot cousin put you up to something?”
“Canʼt you just drop it?”
Jase growled in agitation. “Please, Scout? Just this once? I promise, I wonʼt let him hurt you.”
“Can you promise that you wonʼt get hurt?”
“You donʼt have to worry about me,” he said, assuming what must have passed as a tough guy expression in Jaseʼs mind. “Iʼm made of 100% awesome, totally untouchable.”