Chapter 8

"Vivian!" I call, catching a glimpse of her down the hall. I race through students as they herd into the cafeteria. Her red hair bobs through the door and disappears as I slip past bodies. Once inside, I hurriedly make my way to their table, surprised to see everyone there. They look my way and I stand before them, my chest moving rapidly up and down.

"Wrenley," Vivian says brightly, "come on, sit down."

I place my bag on the table and take a seat beside her while eyeing the group. Imogen looks unbothered as usual. Eli and Elara are close, and Vivian is looking excitedly at me.

"Um, there's some stuff I want to ask you about," I say, catching Imogen's attention as well.

"Really? Did something happen?"

"Well, I saw these two students from the academy," I start," and I overheard them talking about an Alpha and Luna. Does that have to do with you guys? I'm assuming it's a wolf thing," I lower my voice.

Vivian looks to Imogen then back at me. "Oh, yeah, it is. Did you hear anything else? Anything about an Alpha or Luna?"

I shake my head. "I just thought you could explain it to me."

"Well, an Alpha is the leader of the pack, right? And the Luna is like the queen to his king. It's really not so complicated."

"Are you all in a pack then?"

Vivian nods. "There's only one pack in Waindale."

"Do all the academy students belong to the pack that you belong to? Is there going to be a new Alpha? What's a rogue? And, can anyone be an Alpha or Luna? Are one of you guys?"

Imogen chuckles. "Someone's putting the pieces together."

"Wow, a lot of questions," Vivian smiles nervously. "Um, not all academy students are werewolves. There is going to be a new Alpha. Only someone of Alpha blood can be an Alpha, which none of us are. Oh, and a rogue is a wolf that doesn't belong to a pack."

"Giving it all away, aren't we?" Eli comments.

Vivian rolls her eyes. "None of this matters, Wrenley, unless you get through to him."

"None of it matters? Why? I didn't think there was so much to learn, but it's all very interesting. Intriguing. Who has Alpha blood? Is it like a chosen-one kinda thing?"

"Enough questions for today," she says briskly. "Just, keep trying to communicate with him."

Vivian's urge for me to get through to this guy is starting to get on my nerves. There is obviously something going on with him, but I'd love to learn more about their kind and how they work. An entire myth has been brought to life in front of me yet all I'm allowed to do is wait for the silent wolf to speak?

I follow the needle-ridden path up the mountain after school. It had been raining all throughout the school day and is just clearing up now. The air is heavy and smells of wet moss. Unlike the paths I've taken, the underbrush is much more fierce, reaching out onto the trail and ready to trip me. Not many people take this path, I suppose. It's overgrown, covered in fallen leaves, and hidden away in the shadows. The climb alone is enough to make my head spin. After half an hour of hiking, the ground begins to level out and the horizon is visible through the trees. I can nearly hear the waves as they crash against the jagged rocks all the way at the cliff's base.

The towering pine trees thin out as I near the edge. Within a few more steps I'm peering over into the dreary blue beneath me. I hold my breath as I look over—my heart sinks, the wind is unforgiving, something is behind me—and I release it all as I sit down. The ground is rough. I shrug my bag from my shoulder and stretch.

Although the wind is powerful up here, it doesn't stop his scent from drifting to me. I can feel him, his presence, but I don't want to turn. It's easier if I can't see him.

"Shift," I call out. "Shift into a human."

My hair brushes against my face as I nearly look back. From the corner of my eye, I can see his black fur.

"Why won't you do it?" I ask, again fighting the need to look. "Is there something I have to do first? Have I done something wrong? I don't understand."

A part of me thinks that at any second I'll be sent flying off the mountain. One push and this beast can send me plummeting to my death.

I peek again—only black fur and nothing human-like—but this time I can't help it. I scramble to my feet and face him with impatience, so much impatience and yearning that throwing a fit seems like the only answer. As I try to bottle up my frustrations, the wolf watches me. Always watching me.

"Just—just shift! My god, I can't do this anymore! Every night, going into the forest, waiting to see if you'll show up, never getting anything from you. Christ, I don't even know who you are! The only reason I'm here is because of Vivian." The wolf makes a low growl. "Shift. Shift or leave. Shift or leave me alone from now on because I'm not waiting anymore."

The thing turns to leave. Feeling out of control, I shout, "No! Just—what are you getting out of this? Please, if you would become a human you could actually respond!"

It doesn't move closer or face me any more than it is, but the wolf doesn't step any further either.

"Fine. Maybe you'll never answer, but I won't stop asking. I won't stop asking why there's always a scent in the air when you're around. I'm smart enough to know that wolves don't smell like—like this. Or why you come to me at all. I won't stop asking who you are either. It's not fair because something inside of me wants you to be around, and I don't know why. Whenever you're here my body feels different and I'm not hurting anymore. After I see you, I can sleep and I can eat and I don't feel this oncoming dread. I don't think I'll ever stop wondering why. Just... There's a human side of you and sometimes all I want is to see it. To hear you talk. To hear you say anything, really. Just shift. Please. If you'd just shift we could—"

The wolf turns away and heads for the trees. Words of desperation escape my lips before I hurry after it. Thrashing through the brush, I frantically look for the animal. Like a blur, a dark, cruel blur, the beast runs into oblivion. I stand alone on the cliff, in the trees, exposed and furious.

Dark thoughts consume my mind. Thoughts of betrayal and carelessness and selfishness. Something inside of me broke—my last bit of restraint has been all used up and there's none left to stop me from storming that damn academy. There's a sense of finality. No more waiting, no more walking around on eggshells. This need inside of me doesn't care about my promise to Vivian—it doesn't care about friendships or trustworthiness. There is one goal on my mind. I must find him at the academy as soon as possible. I gave him plenty of opportunities, and now it's time for me to get what I deserve—truth.

The next day I sit throughout my classes, still, knowing that once that last bell rings I will finally put an end to this. At lunch, I avoid Vivian and her friends. It's helpful to shove in earphones and keep my head busy. If the music is just loud enough, I can't think about backing out.

I keep my earphones in as I walk out of the school and up the road. It serves well as a pep talk as long as the right stuff keeps playing. Soon enough, Waindale Academy comes into view and my heart bounces around in my chest, restless and wired. I stare at the brick building. A hurricane of emotion is brewing inside of me and is ready to rain havoc upon Waindale.

I power through the parking lot undisguised, like a sunflower in a field of poppies. Many students glance my way and stare as I climb the steps and push through the heavy doors that were once slammed in my face. My feet seem to grow heavier the closer I get. Inside this dim hallway is a trace of the scent—his scent. There's something so distinct and unforgiving about it. I could follow it with a blindfold on and avoid all obstacles.

My eyes spring from one academy student to the next, anxious that someone is going to drag me out again. With my arms crossed, I follow the scent down the left hallway and face many doors. The sound of echoing voices comes from all directions and makes me feel as if this is a nightmare. The echoes of my own footsteps send a chill up my spine. The only thing keeping me from dashing out like a frightened cat is the fact that the scent is growing stronger. It leads me to the end of the hall where I am faced with another decision. Left or right. Right, this time.

I notice my pace speeding up. When the scent is almost as it is when I'm with him, I find myself practically running. Then there's a door. The door. The one he's behind—I'm sure of it. My hand shakes relentlessly as I reach for the handle. Unexpectedly, my mind wipes clean. It's all too much; I can't think of anything at all as I press down and push the door open.

People are inside. He's inside. I know it, I can feel it, but it's hard to move. They're silent—waiting for me to enter. I swallow my worries and take the steps that must be taken. My eyes dance around him, looking at anything but the group of people. It's a classroom, a nice and neat one with windows and desks and chairs and this is torture. A wave of liveliness washes over me and my worries clog my throat. I'm caught between strange feelings of passion and comfort and those of fear and angst.

It feels like it's going to rip me in two.

My lips part when I spontaneously decide to look. It's not hard to look; that's the easy part. Comprehending what I am looking at is where it all makes my head hurt.

I haven't considered much to be perfect, or maybe I haven't thought enough about what is exactly perfect to me. But, he is perfect. He's perfect in both his world and mine and any other that may be out there. He—no longer an it or beast or thing—is sat in front of me, looking back at me as a being of perfection, and is making me feel inadequate. Only one thing connects him to the wolf that I know, and that is the dark hair. There are no yellow eyes or monstrous teeth. He has a beautiful face, angular and brooding. I can't stop looking at it.

The two guys beside him stand.

"Are you satisfied?" He asks.

They walk toward me and I know their job is to throw me out. I am too infatuated to care, though. The sound of his voice—I have to blink to stop my eyes from watering. It seems to be something I'll never understand as a human.

His being, the perfection, is forever a mystery to my kind.

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