Chapter Ten

Meadow stood in front of the red Mustang studying the fresh paint job. She sucked on her bottom lip in thought concentrating on… something. The color was great, a shiny luxurious crimson but something was strange about it. Her phone went off inside her bag interrupting the quiet morning, "Hello." She answered stepping towards her car and sliding into the driver's side.

"Hiya, it's Brianna. From Latin American History." A tired voice replied from the other side, "I'm not going to school today but I can still come over to work on that project later." She explained with a yawn.

"Oh. Okay. But can we move that to 4:30? I have to be somewhere directly after school." She asked Brianna.

"Sure. That's not a problem." She said, "I just called to let you know. Bye."

"Bye." Meadow hung up and placed her phone neatly into her bag. She started the engine then felt like something was really wrong. She searched her car briefly and found that everything was in its place. She inhaled and realized there was an unfamiliar scent in the upholstery. It wasn't entirely unpleasant but still no one should have been inside her car. Shaking her head Meadow drove to school.

In the school parking lot she was greeted by Alec who was just climbing out of his truck. His coffee brown eyes burned intensely as usual, "Good morning Love." He spoke in his familiar accent before he kissed her forehead.

"Good Morning." She said cheerfully, "How did you sleep?" she asked casually. He only shrugged in response and asked her the same question, "Fine I suppose. I was up all night talking with my mom before she left for New York." She explained.

"She's gone? Didn't she just get back?"

"Three weeks ago. Trust me, three weeks home is a new record for her." Meadow told him patting his arm.

"Oh." He frowned and then he smiled mischievously, "So then, you are home…alone?" he asked raising an eyebrow.

Meadow rolled her eyes, "No. I have Desdemona."

"The cat does not count. You can't carry on a conversation with a cat."

She wanted to tell him otherwise but decided not to, "And here I go thinking you only wanted sex." She said.

Alec gave a small frown, "Sex isn't why I want to spend time with you." He said looking over at her, "Is that what you think?"

Meadow slipped her hand in his, "Of course not. I was only teasing you Alec." She assured him as the two walked to her locker. There Alec left her with a promise to return to her after visiting his own locker. She waited patiently for him fidgeting with a moonstone pendant that dangled from her neck. "Murderer!" Meadow jolted at the sudden outburst. It did not take very long for her to find the source, "You did this! You killed them! All of them!" Darleen Torres the twin sister of Deborah Torres who had passed away along with her boyfriend and Hailey shortly after the couple. Darleen glared at the Meadow with such malice that it could be felt through the dark haired girl's body.

A crowd began to form around the two girls waiting for a fight to break out. Many looked very apprehensive at Darleen confronting Meadow. "I am entirely sympathetic at your situation, however I should not be the target of your angst Darleen." She spoke with a sullen calmness that sent a chill through the air, "I forgive your ignorance for thinking that I could ever commit such an atrocious act."

Meadow composed façade did not appear to aid the situation at hand. Instead it only seemed to infuriate the red haired teen ever more, "You are a terrible, wretched bitch. You killed them… how can you be so calm? Psychopath!"

"I didn't kill anyone." Meadow put emphasis in her voice praying that Darleen would see light, "And damaging my property is a crime and I could easily report you." She threatened not intending to actually go through with it.

Darleen's freckled cheeks turned a vibrant red as Alec suddenly appeared at Meadow's side. He only gazed at the hysterical teenager briefly before gently tugging at Meadow for her to follow. She obeyed the silent order and walked closely to Alec.

At first the couple seemed to walk without a destination however they stopped when they reached an empty hallway. Alec was the first to speak, "Are you okay?" he asked as Meadow pressed her back against the wall and Alec followed suit only to lean into her.

"Yes." She spoke in an unanimated tone, "I'm fine." She looked up at him and gave a small smile as if to assure him. She looked at their surroundings and her eyes lit up.

"What is it?"

Her smile morphed into a genuine grin, "This is where I bumped into you." She explained to him.

Alec looked around as well as if to double check, "So it is." He spoke with a nod. His chocolate eyes looked back down to meet a pair of Malachite green eyes. He drew his finger under chin to lift her into a light kiss. Meadow was shocked at how placid he was being. All the times he had kissed her he was more than passionate he was hungry and greedy. This sudden transition was refreshing. When the bell rung Alec straightened up, "I'll walk you to class." He said his hand enveloping hers.

It was quiet at Meadow's house. The stillness was not uncommon but it was bizarre, even now. Desdemona was sleeping on the couch as Meadow organized the materials that she and Brianna would be using for their project. On the exhibit board she had already drawn on the country's name: Argentina in pale blue lettering with Ceibo flowers tangled in the letters. Spread out on the floor was pictures that she had found on the internet that was related to the country.

The door bell sounded through the living room removing Meadow from its presence. She opened the door and greeted Brianna, "Hey Brianna. Come in." she said with a smile.

"Thanks." She stepped into the foyer, "You can call me Bre by the way." She explained to Meadow, "Wow. Nice place." She said taking her jacket off and hanging it on the coat rack. Meadow only waited patiently as Brianna… Bre walked around looking at the décor. She stopped in front of an intricate painting of an ancient Roman column covered in vines and a vague looking woman with her back to the viewer as she was watching the sunset over a mountain top. "Whose work is this?" she turned to Meadow.

"It's one of my originals. It isn't very good compared to my newer paintings but I was only thirteen." She blushed embarrassed; the woman had been painted so vaguely only because she wasn't talented in the human figure at the time. Yes, she had come a long way in painting.

"What are you talking about? This is amazing. I've always wanted to learn but I wasn't any good at it."

"I thought the same thing when I first started drawing but my grandma always said nothing good ever came from quitting so I took the time to learn and I love it." She said warmly, "I'm almost finished with my part on the project if you want to finish." Meadow gestured towards the hallway that led to the living room.

"Oh, right. Yeah I have all my work done I just have to put it on the board." Bre explained.

The Grandfather clock chimed at nine o'clock letting the two girls know that it was getting late. They had already finished their project and were now sitting on the couch eating pizza and chatting, "Why weren't you at school today? You missed quite a show." Meadow pried.

"I have chronic insomnia and it was so bad last night. I gave up trying to sleep and did the project instead." She explained with a yawn, "Why? What happened?"

"Oh Darleen just had a mental breakdown calling me a murderer and what not." Meadow said feigning her happiness, "Do you take medicine for your condition?"

"She's a loon, don't let her get inside your head." Bre rolled her vibrant hazel eyes, "Yes, I do. But they weren't working at all last night for some reason."

"Have you tried aromatherapy?"

"Aroma-What?"

"Aromatherapy. It's an alternative than tradition medicines. It helps with the senses and the brain and stuff."

"How?"

"It's just the smell. It gets inside your head and makes you feel better."

"What kind of smells?"

"Well for insomnia there is Chamomile, it's really good in tea and helps calm your nerves. Lavender oils go in you bath and that helps you sleep but there are so many."

"So all I have to do is get some chamomile tea and lavender stuff?" Bre seemed apprehensive.

"Well I wouldn't go against your doctor but everything is worth a shot, right? I have some if you want." She said brightly.

"Really?"

"Yeah, I grow the plants so I always have some on me." Meadow explained briefly before standing up and rushing off into the pantry in the kitchen. She pulled out a canister of chamomile leaves and went to her room to find the lavender oil. She came back out and put them on the coffee table. "Put a few leaves in a filter and pour hot water over it and let it sit for a few minutes. And when you are getting ready to take a bath just pour all of this in as the water runs. You can sit in as long as you want." She told Bre.

"Thanks Meadow." Bre seemed genuinely thankful and tired. "I have to go though before my mom freaks out." She said with a smile.

"Oh right." Meadow said.

Alec had just arrived as Brianna drove away. "Hey there." He said kissing her forehead.

"Hi." She murmured hugging him, "Are you hungry? There's pizza in the house." She told him but he shook his head and together they walked inside the home. Meadow cleaned and shooed Alec away when he attempted to help her. It was her mess so she could pick it up. After she was finished she caught Alec staring out of the window. "What are you looking at?" she inquired and tried to find what had caught his attention.

"I was just waiting for you." He told her as his hands snaked around her waist down to her hips. He pulled her in closer, "So both you parents are gone?" he asked with a mischievous look in his beautiful eyes.

"Oh, so that's why you came over. For the sex." Meadow teased.

Alec frowned, "No. I came over here because I don't like the idea of you being home alone." He told her, "It isn't safe."

Meadow rolled her eyes and pushed away from him. She slid gracefully on the couch laying down, "Shame. I was hoping… but if you aren't here for that then I guess there isn't any need for it." She purred hungrily.

"Now who's the one who is after sex?" he raised an eyebrow following after her.

"Don't you know what happens when you feed a stray cat?" she asked rolling over on her back, "They keep coming back for more." She winked at him getting up. She took his hand and led him up to her room.

Alec woke the next morning to the sound of Meadow taking a shower. The bathroom door was closed unfortunately so he simply got out of the king sized bed and put on his pants he wore the day before. He stepped out of the room quietly shutting the door and padding to the front door. He walked out to his truck and grabbed a black string backpack from the passenger side.

Winter was coming that was for sure. The temperature was dropping speedily although it didn't bother him. However, Meadow would have to dress appropriately. She couldn't get sick. A frightened scream erupted from inside the house. Alec ran back into the house to Meadow's bathroom. There she stood in front of the mirror her eyes wide as she stared at an intricate ink colored mark wrapped around torso.

Alec lost his breath as he stared at her. "Alec." She looked over at him looking terrified as if she wanted his help. He could keep his little secret anymore of he was to explain this one to her.

She didn't understand, "Wait. Let me get this straight. You think you are a werewolf and you think this," she gestured towards her covered abdomen, "happened because you mated me?" she finished and paused briefly. "Are you insane? Alec werewolves don't exist like vampires and faeries and ghosts." She explained to him.

"Meadow." Alec tried to touch her but she scooted away from him, "Please, you have to believe me." He pleaded, "I would never lie to you about this."

"Do you know how ludicrous this sounds?"

"Yes I do but I'm not lying to you."

She paused as a storm brewing beneath her dark viridian green eyes, "Prove it." She told him.

He looked pained, "Why don't you believe me?"

"Because werewolves don't exist. If you are telling the truth you shouldn't have a problem." She narrowed her eyes at him.

He struggled eternally she could see it in his eyes but Meadow was determined, "Fine. Let me get dressed and I'll show you." He said a muscle in his jaw twitched.

After Alec dressed and after arguing with Meadow about putting on some decent winter clothes they walked through the densely wooded area behind the house. Alec stayed close to his mate just in case she slipped. She tried to push him away, he was "invading her personal space" as she had so cleverly stated. When Alec was sure that they were clear from view of others he stopped. His hands were balled into tight fist and his whole body was tense as the woman watched with a mixed expression of excitement and apprehension.

"Meadow, you have to promise me something."

"What is it?" she asked tilting her head to the side slightly.

"Don't…don't run okay? Or be afraid. I have control over my wolf side." He told her.

She frowned, "Why would I be afraid?" she asked as Alec smiled and kissed her lightly on her lips. He turned away from her and put some distance between them so she wouldn't be in any genuine danger. He c9ould control his wolf side but still the transformation process was still somewhat a wildcard. His bones began to pop and contort as he baited the animal in him.

Fur began to grow in masses and he slumped to the ground on all fours his hands morphing into paws. He could see Meadow as her expression changed to complete shock. Instead of backing away she seemed to step closer to him. When his transformation was complete Meadow was within arm's length of him. "You weren't lying." She whispered her eyes large as she reached out to touch him.

Alec rolled his eyes and began to shift back.

"Explain the whole mating thing to me. I'm still confused as to what that means…well I know what that means but only for animals."

"I am an animal Meadow." He said without much emotion.

"No you're not." She told him, "You have a conscious and you know what's right and wrong. Animals, as intelligent as they are, don't."

Alec still acted as if he did not want to speak about the topic Meadow was interested in, "Mating isn't like it is with other animals, it's…permanent. I cannot ever find another woman because my body is no longer my own, it's yours." He explained, "Werewolves, vampires etcetera can mate but in different ways. Werewolves mark their mates, I assure you it will fade in due time." He said as the tiny woman laid down on his lap looking up at him.

"So women can mate too?"

"Yes they can."

She frowned as her dark eyebrows drawing together, "But I'm human."
She said in a matter-of-factly tone, "So you mating me doesn't matter to me. I can leave you?"

He coughed and gave Meadow a worried look, "Technically that is true but I doubt I will allow anyone else to have you. Mated males tend to be a little possessive of their female counterpart." He told her.

She only smiled at his words, "As if I want anyone else." She said as someone knocked on the front door. She sat up obviously surprised by the sudden intrusion. "I'll be right back." She told him and went to answer the door. It was Detective Locke, "Hello Detective can I help you?" crossing her arms realizing she was still in her pajamas and that she and Alec were supposed to be at school.

"You weren't at school so I came here." He said raising an eyebrow as Alec walked up behind her, "I need to ask you a few questions."

"Okay. Let me get dressed." She told him allowing the detective inside the foyer, "Give me a minute."

Detective Locke hand Meadow the hot tea as she sat inside the interrogation room. Alec was waiting outside in the waiting room. "Thank you." She said softly looking down, "Why am I here?"

"There was another body found." He said flatly. Meadow's eyes went wide, "This time we found something that might belong to you on the victim." He said putting a plastic bag on the table top. Inside the bag was a black leather bracelet with the letters MAW stitched into the material, it was her initials. In fact this bracelet was hers.

"It is mine." She confirmed it.

"Darleen Torres was clinging onto it when her body was found inside her home." He told her solemnly.

"What? How did she get her hands on…my car." Meadow shook her head.

"Pardon?"

"She damaged my car. She must have gotten into it and found my bracelet and took it." She explained.

"Do you have proof that Darleen vandalized your car?" Locke asked.

"No solid proof, but I'm sure that the school has some kind of video of it seeing as how it was done during the school day."

"I'll have to look into that. But I have to ask. Where were you last night?" he asked solemnly.

"I was at my home with Alec. My mom left the night before and I didn't want to be home alone." She said getting a little defensive.

"Is there anyone besides your boyfriend who can verify that?"

"Go ask my neighbors." She glared at Detective Locke, she had no genuine reason why she was snapping at him, he was only doing his job, "Sorry, I don't mean to behave this way. It's just that these accusations are really becoming a thorn in my side." She apologized.

"It isn't a problem." He assured her, "I heard Darleen confronted you yesterday at school. Now it seems to me that someone is after you if they continually blame you."

"No one likes me there." She shook her head.

"Do you know what I think?" he inquired, "You should get your mother involved so she can put a stop to these accusations."

"What can she do?"

"Help." He suggested, "Dawn was always good at that."

Meadow frowned, "You know my mom?"

"Well I knew her. We went to high school together. But that isn't the point. Tell your mother. I'm sure she wants to help."

Meadow sat in her room staring at the violet house phone that sat behind her alarm clock. Alec was sitting in the living room where she had sent him. In her head she debated whether or not she should call her mom. Finally she decided not to think about it anymore and just call her mom.

"Hello." Dawn sounded distracted.

"Mom." Meadow had more emotion in her voice than she originally intended.

"Is everything okay sweetie?" she immediately sounded worried.

"Can you come home?" she felt tears threatening to pour.

"I'm in New York Meadow."

"Mom, I never ask you for anything, please just come home."

The woman sighed heavily on the other side, "Meadow–"

"I'm sorry I called." Meadow said viciously and hung up. She sat on the bed not feeling at all surprised but still hurt. There was knocking on her bedroom door briefly before Alec came in.

"Is everything okay?"

"I'm being accused of committing a murder I didn't commit and my mom is too busy to care. So no everything is not okay." She told him hiding her face in her hands.

Alec took her hands and pulled her to her feet, "Meadow, Detective Locke knows that you did not do anything with those murders." He assured her, "You don't have it in you."

She leaned into him burying her face in his shoulder the phone rang and Alec went to answer, "No, it's my mom. Leave it." She said calmly, "I'm tired. I think I'm going to take a nap." She told Alec with a weak smile as she looked up at him.

He nodded, "I'm going to take a shower if you don't mind." He told her kissing her forehead, "Sleep well, my Love."