I saw Alex, dressed in only her gown, walking briskly behind the house and disappearing through the trees.
I slipped on my shoes quickly, grabbed my coat and followed.
I let the back screen door shut softly behind me and I leapt down the back steps, taking two at a time. The moment my thin Converse shoes hit the frigid ground, I regretted not doubling-up on socks and grabbing my hat and gloves while I was at it. I sucked in cold air as I ran, quickly realizing that my lungs were better off immobile, at least until I could breathe into the warm confines of my coat sleeve. My eyes burned; the layer of moisture coating them, stripped away by the cold October air.
Dashing into the woods, I felt swallowed up by the immediate darkness. The wind whipped through the trees and bit the back of my neck and the bare skin around my ankles. I kept running, over brush and limbs and toward a thin stream of water, slowing down only enough to gauge my distance before leaping over it.
Splash! I never saw the second sliver of black water until it was too late. My feet were soaked to my shins and the bitter cold stung my legs like thousands of needles.
But I kept running.
I knew Alex was just ahead of me. I had heard the same splash of water a minute before I found it.
My run finally came to a slow crawl. I could see Alex through the trees; the length of her shiny, dark hair glistening faintly like a spider’s web.
I stayed low behind the trees and off the makeshift path that was easy to lose as it was already so covered with leaves. The darkness engulfed me and the moonlight could hardly penetrate the veil of naked trees that stood so thickly together. I jumped and nearly shrieked when an animal darted past—I wasn’t afraid until that happened. The memory of the night in Georgia came back to haunt me in the worst moment, while I was practically all alone in the darkness of a deep, never-ending forest. Because of that fear, I never went far enough into the woods to let the house disappear from my line of sight.
But I pressed on slowly.
I could still hear Alex’s movements out ahead, though they seemed fainter. Her feet shuffled through dead leaves. Low tree branches snapped as she pushed her way through them. One snapped under my feet as well and I froze, but Alex never looked back. She continued her graceful trek through the forest as if she knew every downed limb and ankle-spraining crevice without having to mind her footing.
Several long minutes in and I could see a small clearing out ahead, bathed by the moonlight. Alex slowed to a delicate walk as she got closer. I stopped and crouched next to a tree, trying to stay warm and failing miserably. The only part of me that felt heat was the skin around my mouth and the tops of my fingers as I continued to breathe deeply into my sleeve.
Alex stepped softly around a maze of young trees. Faintly, I noticed that she was barefoot as she tiptoed over a blanket of leaves and dirt. I could see the white of her feet stained by a tenuous layer of mud. She entered the clearing where there was just enough light to see the outline of her gown and her naked form underneath it. I wondered how it was that she didn’t seem cold, though she wore less than I did.
She reached out her hands in an unusual gesture then. It appeared she was talking to someone. An erotic undertone in her movements was completely odd to me. I tried harder to penetrate the darkness with my eyes, needing proof that this girl was really my sister, Alexandra Dawson. I began to wonder....
I rose to my feet and crept further in until I noticed another figure and I stopped solid, sucking in more bitter air with one unexpected gasp. He placed his hands on each side of Alex’s face, her cheeks gently swallowed up by them. And then his lips covered hers. A boyfriend? No, something about this was different, off. The way he seemed to guide her movements as if controlling her, how she moaned simply by his fingertips brushing against her shoulders. I watched, feeling my insides twist into something hard. Vehemently worried about my sister in this place, this uncharacteristic situation, I intended to step out from my hiding spot and let this guy know she was not alone.
But then a second and third figure emerged from the darkness, stopping me in a fearful jolt.
The first one grabbed Alex protectively and pulled her closer. The others circled them almost ceremoniously it seemed, their necks craning as they appeared to inhale deeply of the air. I heard a few words amidst broken sentences, but nothing made sense to me. I slung the hood off my head and turned a bare ear toward them, hoping to hear something, anything that I could at least attempt to decipher. I got nothing but a blast of cold air against the side of my face.
The longer I watched the more I began to see that Alex was safe in the arms of this stranger. But it was difficult to see how she touched him so sexually and without a care in the world about having an audience.
Suddenly, the guy picked her up into the cradle of his arms and all four of them disappeared in an instant. It happened so fast that I staggered from the safety of the trees in a frantic search for any sign of them. I stood there for a moment, freezing and mystified, feeling every bone in my body clack together against my hardened muscles. I could see my breath in front of me, rapidly exhaling in the cold. Finally, I ran through the woods back toward our house as fast as I could, surprised I could find my way back so easily in the dark without tripping over the debris on the forest bed.
Alex never came home that night, or Sunday, and all day at school on Monday, I could think of nothing but her.
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After a nightmarish encounter with a werewolf, seventeen-year-old Adria Dawson loses her sister, but gains the love of a mysterious young man and his legendary family.
Strange and tragic things begin to happen in the small town of Hallowell, Maine: residents come down with an unexplainable ‘illness’ and some disappear. In the midst of everything, Isaac Mayfair is adamant about keeping Adria safe, even from her sister whom he has warned her to stay away from.
As unspeakable secrets unfold all around Adria, impossible choices become hers to bear. Ultimately, no matter what path she takes, her life and the lives of those she loves will be in peril. As she learns about the werewolf world she also learns why her place in it will change the destinies of many.
I’m a Contemporary Fantasy and YA writer, mother, werewolf & zombie fanatic, book addict and a happy hermit obsessed with the Universe. Oh, and AMC’s “The Walking Dead”.
Addictions: Starbucks every morning, trolling Barnes & Noble’s shelves once a week, detesting winter, shopping flea markets and preparing for the collapse of society as we know it. Do I own a tin foil hat? Maybe. :-)
I was born in Arkansas and have lived here most of my life, except the couple of times when I lived in Pennsylvania. I started my first novel at the age of thirteen and have been writing something ever since. Generally, I love characters in life and on paper. I pay attention to people, especially those whose personalities make them different from the rest of us: the drug addict roaming the Laundromat that talks to himself, the young, inattentive mother in the park with the meanest kid on the playground – (the entire cast of ‘Swamp People’) – characters fascinate me and I hope that it shows in my literary work.
Some authors that inspire me are Neil Gaiman, Cormac McCarthy, Max Brooks, Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling, Richard Matheson, William R. Forstchen, Carrie Ryan, David Moody, Phillipa Gregory, Stephenie Meyer and Lisa Smedman. I’m always on the lookout for the next great book to pull me into its world and piss me off when I read the last page and know that it’s over.
I’m a sucker for anything Christopher Lee (respect), Ralph Fiennes (love), Edward Norton (enjoyment) and Cate Blanchett (admiration).