As I sat in first period the next day I stared tiredly at the board and thought about the night before. When we'd arrived at the video store Kyla couldn't make up her mind about which Disney movies she'd wanted to get. So she'd picked at least six, and just like that we were up all night watching movies and talking. Renting all those DVDs and having a sleep over was Kyla's way of catching me up on my childhood, and the effort was appreciated. Not to mention I'd liked the movies better than I thought I would have. After watching every single one that she picked, I'd decided 'Beauty and the Beast' was my favorite.
Since we talked a lot, I heard a lot about Aaron. Probably a little more than I would have liked. Especially when Kyla admitted that because they'd been together for a while by teen standards, she and Aaron had been intimate. He had also declared his love for her, though according to Kyla, she wasn't sure if she felt the same way. From what I could gather during our conversations it seemed like Aaron had just been a good way to kill time, though I wouldn't have said it like that to her. Fortunately for me it didn't seem like she was too head over heels for him. Unfortunately, however, Kyla still had a boyfriend, and the previous night had only succeeded in furthering my interest in the beautiful brunette.
The steady hum of the air conditioner in each of my classes reverberated on my lethargic brain like a massage, adding to the weight of my eyelids and making it impossible to keep awake. While I nodded off my first and second periods flew by, and it wasn't until third period when my phone vibrated in my pocket that I finally lifted myself off the desk.
Stealthily checking who the text was from, a big smile couldn't be kept from spreading across my face as I read Kyla's name, and the text from her that said "**Yawn**".
"You too? I've been sleeping all morning." I replied, and stared groggily at the front of the room as I waited for a response.
"My car. Nap. Lunch :]" As I read Kyla's text the teacher leaned over through the aisles and cleared his throat at me.
"Meet you there." I pounded out my final text as fast as I could, and put my head back down on my arms as my smile grew.
I wanted it to be lunch right then and there. Ever since we'd parted ways this morning I couldn't wait to see Kyla again. Never would I have thought that I could talk to and connect with someone so easily, but Kyla proved me wrong by talking endlessly and making me laugh more than I could ever remember. The effect the girl had on me had to be the result of her easygoing personality. She was so accepting of and so interested in what insignificant details I would tell her about my life. Even when she was sharing her own intimate details, she did it so easily and in such a carefree manner that it made me want to confess everything, to open up and trust her with things I devoted my life to hiding from the world.
The bell to go to fourth period rang and I trudged to my next class, only to fall asleep for that entire hour too. When I thought about it, I found it odd that none of the teachers said anything about me sleeping, and figured those were the perks when I had a reputation for doing all my homework and getting good grades. A loud dinging woke me up at the end of fourth period and I excitedly walked a quick pace to Kyla's black truck, where she already had her elbows up on the hood, her head resting on her arms. She must have sensed me getting near because she picked her head up off the car and smiled happily.
"You just couldn't wait to see me again, huh?" I teased her.
Letting out a small chuckle, Kyla rolled her eyes and opened the door so we could both climb into the back seat of the four-door truck. Immediately she took off her jacket to use as a pillow to put her head on while she leaned back against the seat behind her. She began making snoring noises and I would have laughed, but I was reduced once again to the staring fool as Kyla's long body stretched out in front of me. Her low cut tank top revealed a lean, tanned upper body, and I couldn't help but let my eyes wander as her chest rose and fell each time she took a breath. There was that desire again. Tugging at me in ways that were hard to ignore. In the silence Kyla opened one eye to peek at me, and with a shy blush reddening my cheeks I quickly looked away.
There was no way I hadn't been caught gaping, but she ignored it and leaned forward. She then kicked one of her feet up to rest it on the center console between the front seats, and with her knee raised she rested her arms on it. With her leaning forward like that, where I had the perfect view, it made it extremely hard for me to resist stealing glances at her chest. God, once you start you just can't stop. I growled at myself, forcing myself to look Kyla in the eyes, or anywhere else but there. Does she know what she's doing to me? I just hoped she wouldn't notice how hard I was trying not to. And failing not to.
"Not only didn't we sleep last night, but you're the only interesting person in this whole town. Everyone is so boring the only thing to do during class is sleep."
I laughed as I nodded in agreement, nervously looking down at my hands. My boring, un-stimulating hands. "Well I'm glad you don't think I'm a total bore."
"Not a total one," Kyla teased with a wink. "But I ain't even tired any more. So I was thinking," she started, taking her foot off the console and tucking it beneath her as she turned to face me. "Have you ever been in love?"
I thoughtfully played with my fingers as I tried to come up with the right answer. I had never been in love, but even after one day I was pretty sure that it was exactly what was happening with my feelings for Kyla. Of course I couldn't tell her that, didn't even want to really admit it to myself, so I settled for a simple, "Nope, how come?"
"Well, last night we talked about my boyfriend and how I really feel about him. So, this morning I was thinking about love and if I really do love him or not, but I've never been in love before so I don't know what it's supposed to feel like. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction."
I smiled as I took in a breath of the heavenly scent that filled the car. Without looking up from my hands I knew I could give Kyla a description of what I was feeling in that moment, and every moment I breathed that scent, or that she smiled at me. It was undoubtedly a physical attraction, but the more she talked to me the more it started growing into something more.
"I think when you're in love you'll know it, and won't need to think about it. It's probably confusing, frustrating, irrational and irresistible. It's one of those emotions that isn't hard to distinguish I'd imagine." That had sounded cheesier when I actually said it than it did in my head, but Kyla seemed satisfied.
"Are you sure you've never been in love before?" she asked, laughing as I shrugged my shoulders.
I stopped fiddling with my fingers, and when I looked up my heart skipped as Kyla's enchanting green eyes met mine. The girl seemed to be in deep thought and unaware she was staring, but regardless, I began to feel weak. I'd have sworn those dark, striking eyes were unearthing every secret I worked so hard to keep, but still I couldn't look away. The gentle pureness behind her eyes seduced me, kept me staring and craving to go deeper. An all-too-familiar itch in my fingertips started, and succeeded in tearing me away from Kyla's gaze. I worriedly cleared my throat as I rubbed the itch out of my hand.
I needed to start another conversation, to talk about anything that would distract me from the fact that I'd begun to lose control. I hadn't lost control since I first started Changing. No way I could let it happen now. "Hey, sleepy head." I waved my hand in front of Kyla's face, breaking the girl's stare. "How do you like this school so far? Besides all the boring people."
Kyla stretched her arms in front of her and with eyes half open laid the side of her head down on the back of the seat. "Sorry, I've been staring so much today. It's not too bad yet, and it's bigger than I thought it'd be for such a small town. By the way, what is there to do in town?"
"Not much really," I told her thoughtfully, secretly admiring the way her straight, chestnut hair framed her face and made it's way down to fall lightly over her shoulders. "There's food, ice cream, the movie theater, and that's about it."
"Sounds like fun." Kyla rolled her eyes sarcastically. "Do you want to go to the movies this weekend?"
"Yeah, sure." I smiled, though it wasn't the movie I was happy about. I'd only been to a theater once in my life, and I hadn't stayed for nearly half the film. Not only were movies usually the last thing on a werewolf's mind, but they also couldn't hold my attention near long enough. Even for a werewolf, I'd always been a bit restless. "But I'm going to warn you now that I get a little fidgety when I'm supposed to sit still."
Kyla laughed. "Don't worry, I'll strap you down if I have to." At that I raised an eyebrow, giving a look that made it obvious I was teasing about what could be taken as an innuendo. She caught on quick and didn't miss a beat as she responded, mimicking the eyebrow raise and teasing right back, "Yeah, you'd like that wouldn't you?"
The brunette's unrestrained wit made me snort with laughter, and I couldn't deny I was pleased with how comfortable she was with it. I wanted to indulge in it further, but couldn't be sure how far was too far. So, for fear that I possibly could make Kyla uncomfortable, I changed the subject. "What would you want to see?"
"I don't know what's out," she answered with a shrug. "I'll check it out later and let you know." Kyla stretched her legs over the tops of my thighs and leaned her head back against the door. "I'm ready for nap time now."
"Good night," I barely managed to say, as her stretching out started a small flurry in my stomach.
I don't know if it was because I liked her, or because I rarely had any kind of physical contact with humans, but either way I wasn't sure how to react. Should I throw my arms over her legs like it didn't make me nervous and was no big deal? That could run the risk of making her think I was flirtatious. Or should I ignore it, act like I didn't even notice? Which might make her think it made me uncomfortable. I knew something like this really shouldn't be so thought provoking, so I told myself to get over it. As I decided to rest my arms comfortably over Kyla's legs I laid my own head back, and when she didn't so much as flinch at it I was able to relax and fall asleep.
About thirty minutes later I faintly recognized the sound of the bell calling for the end of lunch. Without lifting my head I half-opened my eyes and lightly tapped Kyla's legs. "Hey, lunch is over."
She took a deep breath like she was waking up, and then as though she was getting ready to leave, sat up. Only, instead of getting up she turned around to lie on her back and put her head in my lap. "Yeah, okay," she mumbled and fell right back asleep, if she'd really even woken up at all.
I smiled, and even though Kyla lying in my lap had put a fresh hurricane of nerve in my stomach, I was already halfway back to sleep myself. I gently stretched my legs out over the center console between the two front seats. Through the fog of exhaustion I wanted to settle my arm across Kyla's stomach, but felt that might be on a separate level from doing it over her legs. So instead I stretched an arm over the back seat and immediately fell back into a deep sleep.
What seemed like five minutes later I felt Kyla sit up and stretch. "Oh crap, we slept through fifth and sixth period," she grumbled after checking the time on her cell phone. Still grumbling she fell back down into my lap, and the unexpectedness of her lying down once again sent butterflies bolting through me. One thing was certain, Kyla definitely wasn't shy, and wasn't lying about her comfort with my orientation. She didn't seem to care one bit.
The way she looked up at me while waiting for a response made it hard for me to focus, and even harder to form a response. I just wanted to stare. To savor the warmth of Kyla's body, to brush her hair away from her face. Feeling so strongly after so short a time was slightly alarming, especially because I had hardly felt more than a physical attraction to any girl before, but I didn't feel like there was anything I could do about it.
Once the erratic fluttering settled enough for me to form a coherent sentence, I shrugged, "Eh, it's only the second day of school. I'm starving though. Do you want to get some food?"
"We can go to my house if you want. I've got to feed the horses so I have to go home first anyway," Kyla told me, sitting up and stretching once more.
I didn't mind going to her house. I'd spend all day there and even help with whatever chores I could if it meant being able to spend time with her.
"Yeah, that sounds fine," I nodded while we each got out of the back seat to get into the front of the truck. "How'd you sleep?"
Kyla yawned tiredly, supplying an answer to my question before she could even speak. "Like a baby. I could've lain there all day."
I rested my head on the window with a contented grin. Kyla could have lain there all day. Was it possible that before I met her I'd been unhappy, maybe even lonely? Barely getting by on the belief that my siblings were all I needed for companionship. On the belief that if I worked hard enough all day and didn't leave too much time for dwelling, then I'd never notice. I couldn't be sure exactly what was happening with my feelings for the girl. That, or I didn't want to believe it was happening so quickly. I barely even knew Kyla. But she made my heart do backflips. She filled it with so much bliss that the only thing I could do was sit there and grin the entire fifteen-minute car ride. As we reached the Walters' farm, I wanted to reach over and hug her, to let her know that she made me feel this indescribable way for the first time in my life. If only I could make her feel it too.
When we pulled into the driveway in front of the large stone house, I watched the heads of two large Gordon Setters pop curiously up on the porch. I let out a sigh as I reluctantly got out of the truck, knowing exactly what was coming next.
"I didn't know you had dogs?" I asked as the canines greeted Kyla with wagging tails and while I stayed on the other side, waiting for them to go back to the house.
"I didn't either," Kyla giggled, pushing them off of her so she could make her way to me.
Despite my efforts, one of the dogs followed her over and caught wind of my scent, and I sighed helplessly again as they stood a cautious distance away and began their ceaseless barking. Even though it was relentless and extremely annoying, I couldn't blame them. Their noses and instincts told them I was canine, just like them, but their eyes offered human. The confusion disturbed most animals more than it frightened them, but I wished they wouldn't make me stand out.
I could growl. A throaty threat the dogs would understand perfectly. One that would rid the confusion and instill them with a fear that made them shut up. Though the terrified silence would be less conspicuous, I couldn't exactly growl without Kyla hearing. And that would be hard to explain. So I did my best to ignore the yapping.
Kyla's uncle came hurriedly out of the house to check on the commotion, and when he noticed the dogs barking at me he quickened his pace. "Blue! Brandy! Get over here!" He whistled and then yelled loud enough for the dogs to hear him over their noise, and they begrudgingly made their way into the house to watch me from the safety of the kitchen window. "Camille Zade. I haven't seen you in quite a while! Heard you were keeping busy in the fields this summer. Too busy to come help me out?" Rob came over excitedly once he was satisfied that the Setters wouldn't be any more trouble.
I saw Kyla lean patiently against the truck's front bumper as I shook hands with Rob. His dark blue shirt had faint wet outlines around his neck and chest, and his face glistened with sweat like he'd been outside working moments before going into the house.
I laughed at his teasing, and as he clasped my hand I shook my head. "Never too busy for you Mr. Walters, but old man Carter needed the extra hands."
He nodded understandingly. "How're the folks?"
"They're doing good, just busy taking care of the farm. You know how it is," I told him while I leaned back against the truck next to Kyla. Then I pointed toward the kitchen. "Sorry about your dogs, by the way."
"Oh it's not your fault." He waved it off with a laugh and turned to follow my gaze to the dogs, which were still staring at me from inside the house. "It's been so long since we had visitors they've forgotten their manners."
"Where'd they come from anyway?" Kyla asked curiously.
"Oh, I got them a few months ago. They were at the vet's down the road getting groomed yesterday. I wanted them nice and clean for when you got here. Well, I'll let you girls get back to what you were doing. It was good to see you again, Camille." I stood and waved at him as he made his way back to the house and then turned to face Kyla, waiting to be led to wherever we needed to go.
She looked up at me, and when she noticed the dogs still watching from the house she chuckled apologetically. "Crazy dogs. I'm sorry, I don't know why they're acting like that." She stuck out her hand for me to pull her up.
I lifted the girl onto her feet and followed as she began to walk toward the barn. "It's not just them. Most animals don't like me much." I shrugged. "Speaking of which, I'd love to help, but I'm not good with horses. So I'll wait for you out here." I stopped at the barn doors, already able to sense the horses tense from my proximity.
Kyla shrugged her shoulders indifferently as she made her way into the barn, grabbing a large bucket on her way in. I watched her fill the bucket with feed and come back out with it, motioning for me to follow her to a large fenced area behind the building. There was an amused smirk on my face as her delicate, feminine body tensed to lift the bucket so she could pour the contents into a trough. Even before a werewolf's first Phase, things like strength, smell and hearing are in our genes. So small tasks like these had hardly been a challenge. It was kind of… cute. The way Kyla struggled even to lift the bucket.
Kyla walked back toward the barn after emptying the bucket, and she must have seen the look on my face because she playfully bumped me with her hip, mumbling the word 'lazy' with a teasing smile. The only thing the playful friendliness succeeded in doing, aside from making me grin and roll my eyes, was to draw my attention to her hips, my eyes following their sway as she made her way into the barn.
As I waited near the fence, Kyla came out the back door of the barn a few seconds later with the first horse. The second the animal caught sight of me it froze, its dark eyes widening in fear. If I could predict muscle tension in the slightest I'd say it was about to rear up, and it did take a few tentative steps backward. Luckily, Kyla had enough experience to be able to keep control of the frightened animal, and with a tight grip on the lead she led it past me and into the corral. Knowing this would happen with each of the horses, I took it as my cue and walked away from both fence and barn until Kyla had finished the process.
With the last horse in the field, Kyla waved me over and led me back into the empty barn. "It's weird how freaked out the horses are right now."
"I told you animals didn't like me much." I reached for the shovel she was holding to offer some help, and she gladly handed it to me.
"Yeah but, they haven't all been tense like–" Kyla stopped before finishing her sentence and began busily shoveling the stall she was in. "Never mind."
She didn't have to finish her thought for me to know exactly what she was thinking. Whether or not she knew exactly what it was, inherently she had figured out that I was different. There were only so many pieces needed to solve the puzzle. The question was, did I want her to solve it?
Through the silence that followed as we cleaned out each of the stalls I could sense Kyla's mind turning. I couldn't help but look over at her every so often to reassure myself that she was still there. Even if she'd already started having suspicions about me, she hadn't gone anywhere. Or maybe she just didn't think it had to do with me at all.
After finishing the shoveling and putting the tools away, I hopped up to sit on the side of one of the stalls while Kyla dragged in a hose from the outside. As she began to spray the dirt on the cement floor toward the door, she finally stopped thinking to herself and picked up conversation again. "You worked on farms over the summer?"
"Yeah," I nodded even though Kyla wasn't looking at me. "Summers are usually pretty boring for me." And I get restless. "I figured I might as well do something productive."
"What do your siblings do?"
I laughed and shrugged. "Nothing, they're lazy."
With a chuckle, Kyla exited the barn to put away the hose and came back in a few seconds later. She then leaned a thirty-foot wooden ladder up to the high loft of the barn a few feet away. Never having dealt with horses before I watched curiously, wondering what was up there, when a moment after she disappeared over the top a bale of hay came tumbling down, landing on the cement with a soft thud.
Her eyes scanned me as it hit the floor, and noting the curious look on my face she explained while kicking over another one. "This goes out in the field too. Then when the floor's dry we spread some in the stalls."
I mouthed the word 'oh' with an understanding nod. After a couple more bales, Kyla turned around to come back down the ladder. Her foot searched for the first step, and once she found it she began to lean her weight on it to descend. But the smooth wood was wet from the hose, and instead of staying where it should have, her foot slipped off. My heart dropped, and I felt the blood leave my face as I saw her begin to fall backward, and she hit her chin on the edge of the loft. Knowing she was going to hit the ground I jumped off my perch and rushed forward without thinking or batting an eye, and I was beneath the ladder to catch her before she reached the floor.
Catching her was easy, but with the image of her hitting her chin in my mind I was now nearing frantic, worried she might have a concussion or something. I set her down on the damp cement as smoothly as I could with how alarmed I still was, and leaned her back against the wall.
"Kyla are you okay?" I worriedly brushed her hair behind her ear, and resisted the urge to tilt her chin up with my hand because of the cut underneath. "Kyla?"
With shocking speed Kyla lurched forward and threw her arms tight around my neck, and I wrapped my own arms around her waist to return the hug. Her shoulders were shaking and I thought she might be crying, but when I pulled away I found that she was laughing.
"Are you okay?" I asked, moving my head to get in her line of vision. "Why are you laughing? You almost died just now." I had to be just as frightened as she was, so her giggling was a bit unnerving. I was getting ready to shake some sense into her if she kept it up.
"I'm alright, thanks to you." The panicked laughter finally subsided, and Kyla put her palm to her likely pounding heart and took a deep breath. After the breath she twitched her bottom jaw, touching her fingertips to it with a wince. "Ow."
"Let me see," I asked, gently tilting her head up with my hand. The scrape was only a surface wound, and as more of a raspberry than a cut there wasn't really any blood, but I didn't doubt how much it hurt. "You might just need to ice it."
With a nod, Kyla looked up into my eyes for a moment and then back down, her own voice growing concerned as the shock and pain started to wear off. "You're bleeding."
Relieved that she wasn't hurt, and that she hadn't yet started to ask questions about how I'd caught a falling girl that weighed about as much as I did, I looked myself over. Sure enough I had a deep, three-inch long cut on my forearm. Even though blood had already made it down to my wrist, it hadn't started to hurt until I noticed it. "I must have hit it on something, it's just a scrape."
Kyla wrapped me in another grateful embrace and then pulled away to tenderly reach for the hand of my uncut arm. "Come on, I'll clean it for you. It's the least I could do."
I let her lead me to the house without protest, but I wasn't worried about my arm. The cut would be gone in a matter of days. All I wanted was Kyla back in my arms. I wanted to squeeze her tight and keep her close, keep her safe.
"I got blood on your shirt," I noticed, and pointed to the back of Kyla's gray tank top as I followed her inside.
"Don't worry about it, I'll change after we take care of your arm," she responded, leading me to the kitchen sink where she turned on the faucet. Grabbing a paper towel off the counter nearby she dampened it under the water and waited for me to hold out my arm so she could start cleaning it.
Now that she was about to take care of the wound, I froze. All it took was one speck of blood getting into Kyla's blood stream to Change her. Meaning if she had any cuts on her hands then I couldn't let her touch me. How could I be so careless? I shouldn't have even put myself in this situation. This was one of the reasons I tried to stay away from humans. Even my own self getting hurt was dangerous to them.
"Are your hands clean?" I asked, swiftly pulling my arm away and pretending I was worried about germs.
Kyla nodded but washed her hands in the sink with soap and water anyway. When she returned I raised an eyebrow teasingly, like I didn't trust that they were really clean. Knowing what I wanted, she raised her hands to prove that they were dirt-free, and I used the opportunity to make sure that she didn't have any cuts that my blood would touch.
Satisfied I held out my arm, and she began to gently wipe the blood from it. "At least it already stopped bleeding."
I smiled and nodded, unsurprised. As I began to relax, I couldn't help but admire the graceful delicacy with which Kyla treated my wound. She wiped around it as gently as possible, unconcerned with how long it would take to clean off all the blood with the amount of pressure, or lack thereof, that she applied. I didn't mind either. It could take all day I was so content watching her try to take care of me.
When she looked up and caught me watching her, she gave a shy smile. "What?"
I gave a short, quiet chuckle and shrugged. My brothers and sisters knew how durable our kind was and wouldn't have given a second thought to an injury like this, but Kyla seemed genuinely worried. "You're just so gentle, it's refreshing. My siblings would be telling me to rub some dirt on it."
She turned to grab some fresh paper towels off the island to dry my arm as she giggled. "Well, tough love isn't my calling."
After another quiet minute while Kyla focused on my wound and I focused on her, the two dogs could be heard sniffing under the closed door that led from the kitchen to the living room, and seconds later they started scratching at it. They probably smelled the blood, and were no doubt curious where it was coming from.
"I don't know what's got their feathers in a bunch." Kyla paused to glance at the door and then roll her eyes. "Come on, there's bandages up stairs." She motioned for me to follow as she started for the bathroom upstairs. Unable to find a bandage big enough for the wound, she grabbed some gauze and wrapped it around my arm. "There, all better." She grinned as she flattened the tape that would hold the gauze in place, pleased with her medical accomplishment.
"Thank you very much," I thanked her, smiling as I studied the wrapping.
She nodded happily and then stretched to look at the back of her tank top in the mirror. "Now I got to change, since you got my shirt all dirty," she teased as she turned to leave the bathroom. I stood there for a moment, unsure of whether I was supposed to follow or not, before Kyla noticed I wasn't following and turned around. "Are you coming?"
With that I pushed off the counter I'd been leaning against and followed her into her bedroom. I had been at Kyla's the night before, but hadn't received the official tour since we'd spent the whole night downstairs watching movies. The bathroom was in the middle of the long hallway and Kyla's bedroom was the next door down. A few unopened boxes sat on the dark wood floor near the door, and on the far side of the room past the bed was a desk.
I took a seat on the thick orange comforter that covered Kyla's bed as I watched the brunette search through a box of clothes for another shirt. It didn't take her long to find a new one, and then she removed the tank she was wearing, carefully avoiding further smearing of the blood. It was hard not to admire her complete lack of insecurity, though I tried to be considerate by not looking. I inspected various things around the room, but out of the corner of my eye I couldn't help but study Kyla's perfect, fragile figure.
She was thin without being muscular, making her look soft and delicate. Her sun-kissed skin was a dark, olive color with a couple uneven tan lines on her back from wearing different styles of bathing suits. Even out of the corner of my eye I could see a dark, skewed-oval birthmark to the bottom left of her naval, about the size of a playing card. Her jeans hugged low on her hips, which curved perfectly into her waist and chest. As her body twisted to pull on her shirt, I let my eyes wander along the lines of the girl's slender back.
Again the itch started in my fingers and I clenched my fists tightly, lying back on the bed in utter frustration. I couldn't understand why I got the urge to Change when I was around Kyla. I'd never had a problem unless I hadn't Phased in a long time, and losing control would be the single worst thing that could ever happen. I was already growing exhausted from fighting the urge all day.
Kyla slumped down on the bed next to me, lying on her stomach and gently fingering the injury on her chin. "What're you thinking?"
I turned my head to look at her. Discontent turned down the sides of my mouth as I realized I had to leave. I had to Change and talk to someone in my family about this. Maybe they knew what the problem was. "I just forgot I promised Luna I'd go running with her today," I lied, hoping Kyla wouldn't see through it.
Aside from the obvious disappointment, she seemed to understand. Sitting up, she patted me on the thigh and hopped off the bed. "A promise is a promise. I guess I'll take you home then."
I was quiet for the duration of the ride to my house, and Kyla seemed to be in deep thought herself. The silence on her part began to frighten me after about half the drive. Fear of the worst made me wonder if she was replaying the fall in her head and questioning every detail. Glancing at the gauze wrapping around my arm, I shook my head at how unlucky it was. Kyla hadn't seemed to notice how deep the cut really was, and that normally it would have called for stitches. Then in less than a week the wound would be gone, no doubt she would notice. What then? Obviously there would be questions. What would I say?
When we pulled into my driveway ten minutes later, I sighed with relief as Kyla turned to me, unwilling to say goodbye. "So, I'll look up the movies and let you know."
With all the stuff on my mind, I had forgotten I'd made plans with her. There was nothing I wanted to do besides spend time with the girl, but not if it was dangerous. If I was already having control issues at this point, who knew how much control I'd have over myself if I couldn't stop a Change?
With a nod I unbuckled my seatbelt and grabbed the handle to open the door, but Kyla reached over and put her hand on my arm to stop me. I smiled as I turned to raise a questioning eyebrow at her. Urge aside, I was off to a good start. She was already starting to get attached to me. "Thanks for catching me," she said shyly, eyes running back and forth over my face, searching for something. An explanation.
Of course Kyla was already questioning things. She was obviously too observant not to notice. But I couldn't, and wouldn't, give her an explanation. Instead I tried to smile as gratefully as I could. "Thanks for taking care of my arm."
I got out of the truck as Kyla shrugged it off like it was the least she could do, and then waved as the girl drove away. After watching the disappearing taillights for a minute, the slamming of the screen door behind me grabbed my attention. Bright blue eyes met mine, and my sister smiled, medium length jet-black hair bobbing as she hopped off the porch to make her way to me. We always picked on Sky and told her she was adopted because of her reversed physical features. Everyone in the family but Sky was blonde, and almost all of us had brown eyes except for her and Carter, whose eyes were also blue.
"Sky, I'm glad you're home! I need to run, and talk to you. Talk first."
She turned on her heels back toward the house and motioned for me to follow. We made our way to the porch swing on the right side of the deck, where I dropped my backpack and we sat facing each other, knees pulled up to our chests and shoulders leaned against the back of the seat. "What's wrong little sis?"
"Well, there's this girl," I sighed as I started, and heard Sky laugh. A quiet growl escaped my throat, and I glared as I tried to maintain the seriousness of the problem. "It's not funny, Sky. I think I'm falling in love with her."
"Camille? In love?" She teased in mock disbelief. "I've never even heard of you being interested in anyone. She must be special." I nodded with a reflective shrug. "Well, does she love you back?"
I shook my head. We had only met the day before. There was no way Kyla even thought about me like that. How could I already be in love with her anyway? I had to love her. Everything about her made my senses, my raw emotions, uninhibited. And that damn itch. That badgering need to release everything I tried to control.
"We kind of just met. You know, Rob Walters' niece, Kyla. We're friends I guess, but she's not in love with me." I sighed. Even just talking about it was tiring. "She's absolutely beautiful, Sky. It's seriously exhausting."
"You've got to be careful with humans, Cami. You know how delicate they are." I nodded knowingly before she continued. "You're worried about the itch. Afraid you're going to lose control?" I could feel her mood shift as she started to understand what I was concerned about.
I nodded again, leaned my head back against the swing, and sighed. "Is it because I'm in love with her? How come any time I think about getting close to her this curse drives me away?"
"Because you're starting to crave it. You're still young so let me make this easy for you to understand. You might love her, you might not, but there's this little thing called hormones. Like it or not sis you're an animal, through and through. That means fundamental instincts and fundamental needs. Your body wants what it wants." Sky paused, thinking about how to explain it in more detail. "Most likely, it's probably just infatuation. But if you're not going to Phase when the urge comes up and you're not going to be physical with this girl, then the only solution is to Change more often and make it easier to control."
"Be physical with this girl." I couldn't help but laugh as I teasingly copied Sky's words. "She's not a sex toy, Sky."
"I know. But Jesus, with urges like these I don't get how you're still a virgin. It just isn't normal." The teasing side-glance Sky gave me told me that she was only slightly joking, but when I shot her a glare she just laughed and got up to stretch. "You get the point. Come on, I need to run as much as you do."
I smiled gratefully and stood to take my backpack into the house. When I reached my room I quickly threw it into the corner and stripped my clothes. Reluctantly I removed the bandage that Kyla had so tenderly placed around my arm, and then ready to run I stopped to think. The quickest way down was through the window.
I pushed open the large panes of glass, stopping for a second to breathe in the fresh breeze before I hopped out, Phasing in midair. Endorphins rushing from the Change made me sigh happily as I landed softly on the ground. Changing alleviated any stress that being with Kyla put on my body, and I was more than glad to be in wolf form again.
As silently as possible I padded around the house to find a steely blue wolf already waiting for me. Crouching low to the ground I crept closer and closer, hiding in the shadows the sinking sun had made out of the house, and when Sky was within leaping distance I pounced. The wolf nimbly rolled over to kick me off of her, and having done so tried to sink her teeth into my neck. We both tried to pin each other, and in a blur of fur and teeth we rolled into the side of the house. I had managed to get my sister trapped when our mother ran outside to yell at us.
"Hey! You're going to put a hole through the side of the house!" She threw her arms up as she shouted. Sky used the distraction to her advantage, and flipped us over to get the final pin on me. The move received a death-glare from our mom. "Knock it off guys." But attempts obviously unsuccessful, she just rolled her eyes and went back into the house.
Kicking the large wolf away from me, I sat up and tried to reach a fresh cut on my shoulder with my tongue. It was pointless though, since I couldn't reach it. So I settled for scowling at my sister for beating me and adding a second wound in one day. Sky flashed a wolfish grin and rolled over innocently. She then got up and trotted toward the vineyard. I followed, and we ran for a while before Sky slowed her pace and changed direction to playfully chase after a rabbit that darted across our path. After a few minutes of letting her have her fun I nipped at her heels impatiently, ready to really run.
Once I got Sky's attention off the rabbit I took off sprinting, getting a head start on her. She might have been better at wrestling, but my longer body made me faster. We raced through the trees on neighboring farms, Sky relentlessly snapping at my tail to try and slow me down.
Running west at full speed it wasn't even an hour before we were halfway to the coast, but I kept pushing forward, my limbs thanking me eternally with each fatiguing strike. I loved thinking about and being with Kyla, but now I was free. Free from containment and disguises. Free from worrying about controlling my emotions and desires. Free to do whatever and be whoever I wanted.
The wind hitting my face got colder and colder as we got closer to the shoreline, and the colder it got the more alive I felt. Eventually the biting air turned salty. The stimulating ocean breeze filled my nostrils, and my heart raced toward the source faster than my legs could carry me. As we came bursting over the top of a hill my excitement peaked.
We'd reached the water. A fresh energy filled me as I bounded down the sandy hill, and upon reaching the bottom I rolled in the sand, kicking it up with my enormous paws. Sky happily lay to rest and watch me prance through the shallow tide. I nipped at the small waves as they rose to graze my paws and then tease me as they made their way back to the depths. I ran and rolled through the sand and water until I was soaked to the bone, and the weight of the water in my fur finally wore me out.
I made my way up the beach, teasingly shook the water from my fur all over my sister, and plopped down beside her, delightfully exhausted and ready to brave the rest of the week's strain from my contact with Kyla.