My eyes strayed from my magazine to the back of the solitary figure I'd followed here three tables away from the door. He couldn't see me, but I also didn't want anyone who walked in to know that he was the object of my desire, so I quickly returned my attention to my magazine.
Mack Carver could care less that I existed, that girls existed. He was cute, but not too handsome to be asked out to often – perfect. A pair of intelligent brown eyes hid behind a pair of glasses, and scruffy brown hair made him look like an adorable puppy. He was polite to everyone; he even invited me to join conversations other girls would rather wish I wasn't part of, but he was too focused on his grades to discover too much about females.
Suddenly, Mack stood and stretched. No wonder. He'd been sitting for at least an hour, if not more, and hadn't moved much in all that time. I kept my attention on the article nonchalantly.
The sound of my name made me look up at Mack, and I smiled at him despite the ferocious pounding of my wild heart.
"Oh, hey Mack," I said pleasantly. "I didn't know you were here." I felt the lie and tasted it and gagged on it. Would he notice?
He just looked at me. Usually Mack didn't bother me, but there was something about his non-blinking gaze that made the heat of my flesh rise, and I couldn't tell if it was a bad sign or a good sign. It was time to go.
I dropped the magazine on the stand where I'd gotten it and stood up. I was almost eye-level with Mack, I noticed as I stood face to face with him.
"Umm, see you at school tomorrow," I said uncomfortably and made a mad dash for the door.
I stopped short as I saw the bright glowing orb in the darkened sky. Crap. I'd stayed out too late.
"April? Is there something wrong?"
I continued to stare at the glowing orb, even as the words tumbled out of my mouth in shaky breaths. "The moon… It's full."
Before my courage could fail me, I opened the door and went outside.
The air was brisk but not cold as I walked over to my car. Oh, why had I parked near the darkest corner?
All of a sudden, rough hands covered my mouth and pulled me into the deepest shadows. I couldn't scream. Who would hear me if I could?
"Well, well, boys. Look at the fish we've caught ourselves tonight."
I stared at Paul, my cousin, in deep fear. He and his friends were nothing but mean to me. Paul and I could pass for twins with our matching brown hair and golden eyes. It came from our dads' side of the family.
"How's dear Uncle Ralph doing, April dear?" Paul asked with as much malice as he could muster. Paul hated me because he hated my father, I knew that, but it didn't make it any easier. I ignored his taunt. I couldn't speak anyway. One of Paul's friends had his hand over my mouth.
Paul's eyes glittered as he looked at my neck.
"Still wearing this trinket, I see," he snarled. "Do you really think it will save you if he comes after you?"
He reached for it, but flinched away as the silver pentacle caught a beam of moonlight and pointed it directly at his face. He laughed menacingly.
"Now, April. You know these don't have as much power when we haven't made the Change."
He grabbed the pentacle and ripped it off my neck, throwing it to the ground in pain. I looked at his hand and saw smoke rise from his palm where the silver had burned him.
"Your father's not fit to be the Alpha, April," he snarled directly in my ear. "He couldn't even produce a pup who could make the Change."
The moon shone bright on Paul as he took a step back, out of the shadows, and bathed in its light.
He screamed, but his scream quickly turned into a howling snarl as he took on the Change. His mouth lengthened into a muzzle, his legs buckled backwards, a tail sprouted from his backside, his nails became claws, and his teeth sharpened.
"Tonight, April, I will kill you and help my father take his rightful place as Alpha!" His words came out as slurred snarls. Human words weren't mean to come from a wolf's mouth.
He growled and came at me.
Tears coursed down my cheeks as I shut my eyes tight, realizing this was the end.
But nothing happened.
I opened my eyes slowly, confused.
Before me stood a wolf, a large brown wolf, the largest I'd ever seen. It easily came up to my waist and I'd bet it was larger. It growled at Paul sharply, its hackles raised. Paul, in turn, snarled at the beast.
"What's a wereling doing here, Paul? This is werewolf territory!" one of Paul's friends asked.
Paul growled at the wolf. If I had been able to speak, I'd have asked what a wereling was, since I'd never heard of them before. Whatever it was, it was outnumbered: three to one.
"Paul, do you need our help?"
"Let her go."
"What?" both of his friends cried.
"Let her go. Werelings never travel alone."
I was released a moment later and Paul growled at me. "Uncle Ralph's command is going to slip once the pack realizes he's got a pack of werelings in the same territory. Then you will see me again, April, for the pack will kill him, and I'll be free to kill you."
The wereling growled long and low. Paul didn't take any chances. He and his friends ran off into the darkness somewhere. As soon as he was out of sight, I sighed and collapsed to the ground. Tears of relief poured from my eyes, and I buried my face in my hands.
A wet nose brushed against the back of my hand.
With a gasp, I toppled over backwards and planted my back against the dumpster.
"Please," I said brokenly. "Please don't hurt me. I'll do anything. Just don't hurt me."
The brown wolf watched me with sad eyes. Then it padded over to my necklace where Paul had thrown it and picked it up in his mouth. He walked near me and placed the necklace about a foot away before he backed up a few feet and sat down to watch me.
I reached forward and snatched the necklace, watching him the whole time. This monstrous beast hadn't killed or attacked me yet, but it didn't comfort me that he could touch the silver pentacle without bringing harm upon himself.
"Thanks," I whispered brokenly as I pulled it over my head and re-tied the leather cord. I looked at the ground, unsure if the wolf would harm me but realizing there was no way to stop him if he was going to.
All of a sudden, warm hands caught my face and made me look up.
"Are you all right?" Mack asked me.
I stared at him wildly. What in the world…? I looked down. Bad thing.
I flushed crimson and yanked my gaze back up to his face. Did he knew he was naked? Where were his glasses?
"Are you all right?" he repeated, and I blinked at him.
"Are you all right?"
This time I nodded, too confused to make heads or tails of what was going on. He sighed and looked at me closely.
"So, you're a werewolf?" he asked. "I was wondering why you smelled odd."
"I'm not a wolf," I said bitterly. "That's why Paul hates me. I can't make the Change."
He smiled at me, which looked odd on his face when he was crouching before me without clothes on.
"Where are your clothes?" I asked finally and realized my teeth were chattering."
"Oh, April." He wrapped his arms around me. I froze, unsure of what he was trying to do, unsure of how I was supposed to respond. After a moment, I realized I was warming up though and buried my face into his shoulder.
"What in the hell is going on?" someone snarled and I jerked away from Mack.
One moment, Mack was human, and the next, there was a large brown wolf standing half over me and facing my father.
My father's golden eyes burned for only a moment more, and then they softened in surprise.
"A wereling? Here?" He seemed shocked.
I too was shocked, by Mack's transformation into a wolf, and by the fact that my father wasn't in his wolf form despite the fact that the moon was shining fully on his face.
Mack growled and stepped closer to me. Was he protecting me?
My dad sighed heavily.
"Boy, you haven't told her, have you?" Mack cocked his head, confused. It was apparent he couldn't speak in this form – not the human language at least. "Well, it looks like it can't wait any longer." He sighed as he strode toward me. Mack growled at him and he stopped and looked at me closely. "April, who is this, and can you tell him I need to talk to you?"
"Umm, Dad, this is Mack. Mack, this is Ralph, my dad."
"Mack, she's safe with me. I don't know what kind of trouble you two have been getting into, but I have no intentions of harming my daughter."
Mack seemed to think about it for a moment and then stepped aside, shifting back into human form.
"Go get dressed boy," Dad said and sat before me. Mack gave me one final look to make sure I was all right and took off when I nodded. I blushed crimson and looked down at the ground when Mack ran through the light. Right now, after what I'd discovered about him, he was gorgeous.
"Is that the Mack I think it is?" Dad asked and I nodded. "Did you know he was a wereling?"
"I don't even know what a wereling is," I admitted. Dad sighed again. He was doing that rather often tonight.
"It's what Mack is, April, a man who can take the full form of a wolf although much larger and able to Change at will. It's what you are, what I am."
"What?" I asked.
"We, our family, consists of werelings, April," he explained as if this wasn't something he wished to discuss at the moment, but knowing it couldn't be helped.
"But you're a werewolf. You're Alpha."
"A position I got because the pack thought I was best suited and because I was your grandfather's son."
"So was Dean," I growled. "And now you're telling me we're not even werewolves." This was too much to handle.
"Dean's an ass, but he's a werewolf, April. That's why he is bitter towards me. I am our father's youngest and not a werewolf myself, yet I became Alpha. He can't stand it."
"What about the pentacle?" I asked. "It doesn't work on werelings."
"No, it's not supposed to. That was to protect you from Dean were he to take his bitterness out on you."
"He didn't have to," Mack growled behind my father. "Paul did it for him." He came next to me and stood with his arms crossed across his chest. He was wearing his glasses again, and I noticed my father looking at him curiously.
"Mack," he said as if he suddenly knew who he was. "Mack that you…" He didn't finish his sentence. The glare I sent him froze his words in his throat.
Mack looked between us with mild curiosity.
"I didn't know he was a wereling," I said, as if it made a difference. I head the sound of enraged howls nearby.
"April, I don't have much time. The pack is coming, and they will hunt you and Mack down, and I won't be able to stop them." He looked at me, and I saw the hurt in his eyes. He and I hadn't been close, but I had always known he cared. "Get out of here. Find other werelings. Form a pack. Join a pack. Just get out of here, all right?"
I nodded and stood up next to Mack.
"I love you, April."
"I love you too, Dad."
No hugs. No goodbyes.
Mack nodded once, and I climbed into my car. I watched Mack throw his keys to my father, but I didn't hear what was said. Then he was in the front seat with me.
"April?" I looked at him just in time for him to kiss me. I blinked in surprise. "You don't know how long I have been wanting to do that. When I saw you in the library, I was very tempted to do so there, but I couldn't get up the courage, and then you walked out."
I was too surprised to say anything, so I started the car and drove. Halfway out of town, I reached over and squeezed his hand. He seemed surprised for a moment, and to be honest, so was I, but then he smiled, and I realized we'd be all right.
We didn't stop driving until the sun rose to meet our faces and end the darkness of the moon's creatures.
Far off behind us, I heard the forlorn cry of a single wolf.