ONE WEEK LATER
Eclipse was making french toast. Or, at least, attempting to. She slathered a stick of butter in the pan, threw on two pieces of bread, then an egg on each, and waited. Her eyes glazed over as she stared at the sizzling pan, and I knew it was only a matter of seconds before she got distracted.
I rushed over and nudged her out of the way, just in time for her to open the fridge and inhale half a can of whipped cream.
"Ash-ling," she smothered with a mouth full of cream, as it dripped down her chin, "You doh haf to do dis."
"I know," I said, flipping the toast over.
There was a long moment of silence, so unlike Eclipse that I looked over. She had some how consumed enough chocolate to make a nice outline around her mouth, and her dark, midnight eyes watered. "You look soh purdy."
"C'mon, Eclipse, no mushy gunk!"
She wailed and wrapped her arms around me tight, her long black hair tickling my nose and almost burning itself off in the pan. My spatula clattered to the ground and I grabbed onto her as well, half so she wouldn't burn her hair, the other half because she was making me all emotional.
Conaire rushed over, to save the french toast, flipping it onto the plate I had left on the counter. He was well accustomed to the house now, especially since Eclipse's family built it all over again (in which I was not allowed to be around, due to her family's weird privacy).
Eclipse and I broke from our embrace. I wiped away tears and snot; she wiped away that and the chocolate and left over whipped cream. Daimine walked into the grand kitchen and raised his eyebrows at our reddened faces. "Eclipse, did anyone ever tell you how much you look like that Kim person?"
I blinked. "Kardashian?"
"Yeah, that chick. But you have a better face."
Eclipse wiped her face from her shoulder to her palm. "Daimine! Shut up! Can't you see how upset I am right now?"
Daimine said nothing, slipping passed us like smoke so he could start scrubbing the pan. Ever since Conaire was reunited with his family, they had been showing up randomly, especially Daimine - who I suspected had a pretty big crush on Eclipse, but refused to admit it. And I didn't think Eclipse was into anyone that didn't exist in her books.
Conaire's arm was suddenly around my waist; he pulled me close and kissed my cheek. "You look lovely, Aisling."
I bit my lip, embarrassed. Eclipse had chosen this outfit for me; a long, flowery skirt that brushed the floor, with a black tank top and long, colorful beads, my hair down and messy. She said it was perfect, and that he would love it, especially the hair.
"Not that we want to please him, but you have to look good for yourself," Eclipse had said.
"Only a few more hours," he reminded me, turquoise eyes looking into mine.
"Don't ruin it!" Eclipse shrieked, waving him away. "Let us have some girl time before she makes her decision!"
Conaire rolled his eyes and detached from me. "I don't want you putting strange ideas in her head."
I laughed. "Too late for that."
Eclipse grinned. "Years too late."
Suddenly starving, I sat down and attacked the french toast. It wasn't nearly as good as my parents used to make it, and I felt a familiar pain shoot through me. But it was getting better, and I no longer had 2 constantly push it out of my mind. I could think about them from time to time without too much trouble.
The boys left as soundlessly as they came. Eclipse grabbed my hand and dragged me upstairs. "We need to paint your room!"
I shrugged. "What if I decide to go with him, Eclipse?"
"Hell, you're still living here. I don't care what Werewolf says.
I tugged my tank top down, unwilling to talk about the first and only time I shape shifted. As time went on I became more and more uncomfortable with it and tried to avoid it as much as possible; except for the time when Conaire and I shifted together, but it was very brief and just a test run.
We entered the room, the walls a blank slate, my things still waiting to be moved in. Eclipse held up a framed picture and waggled her eyebrows; it was a rather good-looking picture of Ed Westwick, whom Eclipse is convinced I'm still in love with.
"Just a little something from me to add to your new room," she said seductively.
Teasing, I said, "I would rather have a self-portrait of you."
"Don't worry, darling, there are plenty of those to come, too!"
I picked up two big cans of mint green paint, handing one over to Eclipse. "Where are the brushes?"
She looked at me blithely. "You can't be serious."
Startled, I asked, "What?"
She flicked off the lid with her own fingernails, and stepped back a few feet.
I knew what she was going to do, so I jumped back as fast as I could while holding a very heavy can of paint.
And then she heaved her arms forward, slashing the walls with a great big streak of green paint. She flung herself at it, wearing another completely white outfit, and rolled about, flailing her arms so that her hand prints left exclamation marks in the white emptiness.
I said, "I never, ever doubted that you are crazy."
"That's because you're insanely intuitive!" she reached into the bucket and pulled out a handful of paint. "Now, go change real quick or you'll be sorry."
I definitely, definitely didn't want to be sorry, so I left the room to change into a white tank top and white shorts. I pulled my hair into a ponytail, and as soon as I walked back into the room a glob of the paint hit my stomach, splattering all over me. I gasped and caught onto the threshold.
Eclipse cackled, almost completely covered in mint green. "I knew I was going to get you one of these days!"
Grabbing the next bucket, she went to the other side of the room and slashed the paint, back and forth. I snatched the first bucket, which only had a small portion of paint left over, and dunked it over Eclipse's head.
"You crazy bitch." she said calmly, and in the next moment I had the wind knocked out of me as I was tackled to the ground.
It took three showers to completely wash the paint out of my hair. I came out of the bathroom and into Eclipse's room, where a midnight blue dress was laying across her bed.
"Where are you going to where that?" I asked her.
It had taken her only two minutes to wash the paint off. Must've been some freaky vampire thing or something. Sitting at her desk, no doubt on that crazy site she created, she said, "It's not for me."
My mouth dropped. "Eclipse, I can't accept this."
"Yes, you can! The outfit from earlier was only a preview. I expected the paint scene to happen, and when I saw this dress - it was the only one, and in your size, too! - I knew I had to get it."
I picked up the fabric. It was a dark, sapphire blue, with tiny pieces of glitter so that it shimmered in certain lights. It reminded me of the night sky, of all those stars surrounding the crescent moon that fateful night.
I looked back up at Eclipse, tears brimming my eyes. "You think I'm going to say yes," I stated.
She shrugged. "I have never been one for romance. As you know. I may obsess about your own romantic life in order to fill the void that is my own, but it is your choice, after all. And who said you can't find someone better, someone who isn't a dog boy? Love springs eternal," she said, very seriously, "but not always with the same person."
Hugging the dress to my chest, I said, "I don't know how I'll be able to repay you. For everything."
"You don't need to! Just do whatever you think will make yourself happy."
My next words were lost when a strange feeling swept through me, tingling my senses. I only had a few more hours before I had to make my final decision.
"Do you know what to say?" Eclipse asked quietly, as if she noticed my sudden change.
"I can't say. I don't want to dwell on it too much, not until it the right moment."
Eclipse nodded, then headed to her huge walk-in closet. "Now! I have some beautiful jewelry that will go great with that dress."
Conaire wasn't sure if he felt like he was waiting for a wedding or a funeral.
He had never been to a wedding, and had only witnessed Briar's funeral from afar, since he was banned from his pack. Funerals had a feeling of uncertainty to them, a gloom that consumed everyone and everything, especially once the casket was brought out. He remembered the way his heart shattered as they lowered the coffin, one with wood as black as midnight and had several carvings into it.
Wolf funerals were different; there was no priest, only the head of the pack, and once the funeral was over people had to move on as quickly as possible. People rarely visited their loved one's grave, unless it was in the dead of night or they were going through especially hard times. It wasn't a requirement to where black, but you had to at least dress formally, and almost everyone came up and spoke about their lost ones. Many people simply kneeled down and spoke into the coffin, as if the dead could hear their whispers. Speaking the names of the recently departed after the funeral was forbidden, in an effort to heal the pack and respect the dead.
Conaire shook the memories out of his head. He wanted to stay as positive as possible, and wanted to be happy for Aisling, whatever choice she made. But it all reminded him of a wedding - at least the ones he had seen on TV - because he was waiting for someone who may or may not show up, who may or may not choose him.
And this left him feeling jittery and nervous and scared and excited. He was a total mess, and the blazer and shirt he wore felt too tight, itchy and suffocating. Conaire looked up at the crescent moon, asking it for patience, for guidance. For happiness.
A movement caught his eye, and there she was.
She was wearing this dress, and he could tell it was one of those outfits that you remember forever, even in your last moments of life. It was a little lighter than the night sky, the stars caught in the fabric and dancing as she moved. Her hair was curly and up, so that you could see her sparkling sapphire earrings, which matched the teardrop-shaped necklace of the same stone. It hung below her collarbone, and her throat was embraced with diamonds.
She was a vision, a dream. She left Conaire feeling breathless.
I walked barefoot through the thick leaves and weeds, unwilling to wear those god-awful black heels Eclipse prescribed. Barefoot felt more natural anyways, and I couldn't feel the rough ground piercing my skin.
Conaire couldn't take his eyes off me. His jaw was slack, his blue eyes glowing in the light of the moon. I felt heat rising to my cheeks, especially when he whispered, "You are so beautiful."
He wrapped his arms around my waist, watching me carefully, as if he couldn't believe what was in front of him. He pulled me close, so that our bodies barely touched. Together we looked up at the moon, took a breath, and then met each other's eyes.
"Are you scared?" he asked.
I was, but I shook my head. One side of his lips tilted up, like he could tell I was lying.
"So, Aisling, have you made your choice?"
Unable to speak just yet, I nodded and closed the distance between us, settling my lips on his. We kissed for a few moments, sensations shared between us, our inner alarms warning us that we were running out of time.
Conaire pulled back, holding my hands, our noses touching. "What will it be?" he mouthed, voice so quiet I could barely hear him.
I bit my lip, and whispered, "No."
Confused, he said, "No?"
"I'm not ready. You're great, wonderful, fantastic - hell, I think I even love you. But I don't know if I'm ready for forever. I don't think I have the capacity to even make that choice right now."
His face stayed steady, brave, but I could sense that inside he was shaking. "I understand."
"But," I interrupted whatever he was about to say next, and his eyes flickered to mine, "I want to be with you."
He stepped back. "Okay, now I'm really confused."
"Conaire, I want us to date still. To be a couple. But I don't want to be locked to you in some werewolf bond that neither of us will ever get out of if we somehow change our minds. Except Eclipse said that I can't see you after this."
Conaire looked baffled. "Why would she say that? I know she hates me but..."
"She said I can get really sick if I see you again after this."
He shook his head. "That's never happened before. Maybe vampire rumors?"
My eyes widened, stunned. I wondered what else she had mistakenly lied to me about. If the other options had ever been actual options. "So then...?"
"You want to try...after you change back?" he smiled slowly. "Is that what you really want?"
"Of course!" I smiled, happy he wasn't rejecting my offer. "And even if our feelings disappear tonight, there's no reason why we can't fall in love again, over and over. Falling for each other every day. And not because of some werewolf venom. Doesn't that sound nice?"
Conaire squeezed my hand. "I couldn't think of a better way."
My insides jumped, like I had been shocked. It was now or never.
As if reading each other's minds - which was probably the case, since I had never felt so wolfish since the two times I shifted - we kissed passionately, tangled in each other's limbs, as if these were our last moments together. Everything in my body constricted, so tight I could barely breathe, and my scar pounded faster and faster. I could feel the same thing happening to Conaire, his teeth aching. We held onto each other desperately, my body tilting my neck back just before Conaire sank his teeth into my neck.
And then my body just let go, releasing everything inside me in a fiery shock, my insides collapsing in on themselves, just like a super nova. Bright colors flashed before my eyes, along with the memories of being a wolf, of the animal instincts, of the pain from the first bite. I was lost in my own world, unable to feel Conaire or the bite or the power of the moon anymore, and fell so deep inside myself I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to crawl out again.
Sometimes, when you're going through a hard time, being strong is all you've got.
I'm sitting on the front porch, gazing at the last sunset of the summer. I feel different since the change - lighter, as if the spirit and the power of the wolf inside me was almost too heavy for my body to bear. I have very few memories as a wolf left, and I'm not sure why. But I feel more or less normal, like how I was before I was bitten. Calmer, with this light, happy feeling inside me, something that stays even after Conaire leaves.
And there he is now, coming up the steep driveway of Eclipse's house. Before him, all I saw was the fiery light of the sunset and the mainly-empty land around me, save for a few houses like Eclipse's. Conaire pauses in front of me, his head blotting out the sun. His hair is a little shorter, since I finally convinced him to cut it.
He sits down next to me and I am blinded again, but only for a moment, because the sun steadily sets. Tomorrow is the first day of autumn, a new season, full of crisp leaves and cool air and faded colors.
I look to my left, into Conaire's eyes, such a bright shade of turquoise that I doubt they will ever fade from my memory.
He asks, "What are you doing here?"
His hand clasps mine. The sun drops a little more, turning the edges of the horizon orange and pink.
I squeeze his hand reassuringly and say, "I never knew until now."
*****Wow, it's the end! I honestly didn't see it coming, but after such a long period of no new chapters, I felt the need to end this.
So, what did you think? Are you sad it's over? What were your favorite parts of Crescent Moon?
I am starting to get better about updating on here. I try to as often as possible, especially since I have a little more free time on my hands. So I sincerely apologize for making everyone wait so long, and I hope you all forgive me and lend me some of your input:
If you want to learn more about the characters of Crescent Moon and the plot lines, I am thinking about creating a second installment, Frost Bite, which mainly circulates around Eclipse (as opposed to Aisling).
Aisling and Conaire would make regular appearances, as well as his pack and maybe (maybe!) a visit from one of Eclipse's family members, although the relationship between her and her vampire family would be more throughly investigated. We would also learn why Eclipse is the way she is, and fill in some things that were never really properly explained in Crescent Moon. Also, their could be some romance!
So, if you want to approve this possible-sequel, just review or message me and let me know. Also, share your thoughts with me on this last chapter! I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you :)