The world of werewolves isn't always black and white- werewolves and humans, good and evil, Turned or Born. The same goes for becoming one... sometimes there isn't a choice.
Kayla, a recent college graduate, moved to the small town right outside of Eugene, Oregon to start her new job at a start up engineering company. She has a small apartment to call home, a rescue dog named Bandit to call her friend, and a past to leave behind.
The locals seem friendly enough- at least, the ones she's seen. There's a strange group of individuals who live out deep in the forest, who only come into town to gather food and supplies. Although they give her the creeps, Kayla learns to avoid them like the rest of the locals do.
Then things change on the night of a full moon, and Kayla finds herself lost in a world she did not know existed. And there's another problem... Who's Emmett, and why is he following her?
This story is rated M for language, sexual situations, and violence.
Prologue: A New Start
The drive from California into Oregon was always breathtaking. The flat, dusty land gave way to hills and mountains thickly covered with trees, and the air cooled and carried the scent of pine and distant snow.
The car radio kept fading in and out as Kayla Wilkerson navigated through the winding roads. The car itself was a piece of junk- a '93 Toyota Tacoma that had once been red- but Kayla was attached nonetheless.
"Come on," she murmured, pressing her foot flat against the accelerator as she reached yet another incline. She winced when the engine gave a terrible screeching noise, but once they were over the top, she gave a sigh of relief.
After another hour of driving, Kayla pulled over into a gas station to fill up and to stretch her long legs. Sighing wearily, she pushed her hair out of her eyes. Even though she had tied it back, the caramel brown curls still found a way to spring loose. On a good day, they fell in loose waves down her shoulders, but thanks to the fog, it frizzed up.
The bell hanging over the door into the station creaked as Kayla stepped inside. She looked around and grabbed a few things- a large bottle of water, some trail mix, and then Red Vines and other treats. Walking up to the counter, she placed her things down and reached for her wallet, giving the cashier a polite smile.
The cashier, a pimply teen of about seventeen, gave her a mumbled greeting and "didya find everything OK?" before Kayla handed him some cash and went back to her car.
A bark from the back seat had her smiling. "Hang on, Bandit," she said, opening the back door.
Bandit, a rescue dog that Kayla had found in a local shelter, wagged his tail when he saw the treats in her hand. He was a mix of sorts- hound and German Shepherd, the shelter had guessed. He was smaller like a hound, but had the coloring of a shepherd, and friendly brown eyes that lit up when he saw her. He wore a bright blue collar and a tag with his name on the front and Kayla's cellphone number on the back.
Bandit barked again, and sniffed her hand before carefully taking the treat she had on her palm. He waited as Kayla poured some water into the little plastic dish she had in the back, then slurped up some water too. He licked Kayla's cheek when he was done.
Kayla laughed, wiping away the drool. "Easy, boy. We still got some time before we get there."
As if he understood, Bandit sat back down, his tail thumping against the seat. Kayla laughed again.
It was nighttime by the time Kayla and Bandit rolled into the small town of Daven, Oregon, which was about twenty minutes away from Eugene. The population was a third of Eugene's, and she had been told that she was the first person who move to Daven in fifty years.
The streets were deserted as Kayla drove through, using her high beams. She had already missed a large buck by a few feet on the main road, and her heart had not settled back into its regular rhythm.
When she found the small cluster of apartment buildings she was looking for, Kayla sighed loudly with relief. "Come on, Bandit," she said, grabbing his leash.
"Oh, you're here!"
Kayla jumped at the voice and Bandit growled. She blinked when she saw a short, curvy woman with gray and brown hair grinning at her. "H-hello," Kayla stammered, wondering if it was possible for hearts to jump out of chests.
"I'm Pam, your landlord," the older woman said, walking forward to shake her hand.
"Oh, yes, we spoke over the phone," Kayla said. "I'm Kayla."
Pam laughed, a deep, warm laugh that had Kayla relaxing. She had warm, dark brown eyes and she smelled vaguely of cinnamon. "Your boxes arrived this morning, I had my husband Doug haul them up to your place. Let's grab your bags and get inside, it's cold out!"
Together, Kayla and Pam managed to lug everything upstairs in one trip. "Thank you," Kayla said, looking around as she stepped inside the apartment. She saw the boxes stacked in the corner and Bandit was already sniffing around.
"Now, Doug and I live two doors over in apartment C," Pam told her. "If you got any issues, he can fix it right up. Do you need anything else, dear?"
"Oh, no, you've already done enough," Kayla insisted, flushing when the older woman embraced her like a grandmother might.
"Welcome to Daven, Kayla," Pam said, before taking her leave.
"Thanks," Kayla murmured to the now quiet apartment.
The sun took its time to rise over Daven the next day. The ground was frosted with dew, giving everything it covered an iridescent gleam. The inhabitants woke as slowly as the sun, and it was mid-morning by the time the shops began to open.
Kayla was already awake and ready to fill up her small apartment. First, she wanted to grab some groceries so she could feed herself and Bandit. With strict instructions to not do anything she wouldn't, Kayla left Bandit snoozing under her thick duvet.
She shivered when the cold air hit her, and she pulled her leather jacket closer to her, suddenly grateful she had thought to shop for warmer clothes before moving.
Her boots crunched on the gravel as she walked into town. She looked around, noting there were not many people out. How small can a small town be? she wondered.
When she found the grocery store, which was a small building with only two check out lanes, Kayla took her time going down the aisles to learn where everything was. Grabbing some dog food, she was happy that Bandit liked the generic stuff, because the selection was limited.
"Oh, hello, dear!"
Kayla gave herself credit for not jumping this time at the now familiar voice. "Good morning, Pam."
Pam beamed at her. Her long, graying hair was pulled into a braid and she wore jeans and a jacket like Kayla. "How was your first night in our small town?"
"Cold," Kayla said with a smile.
"Any problem with the radiator?"
"Oh, no, not at all. I guess I'll just have to adjust. I'm from California."
Pam laughed. "Ah, you'll adapt more quickly than you realize. Well, I need some eggs. Doug loves eggs and bacon for breakfast. Take care, dear."
"Bye, Pam." Kayla watched the older woman go, now wondering if was a small town thing to be so nice to newcomers.
When Kayla left the store, she rounded the corner and nearly collided with another person. She gasped, startled, and looked up.
The man, who was nearly six inches taller than herself, stared down at her with eyes that were so dark, they looked black. His hair was just as dark, made only darker by his brown skin and dark colored clothes.
Kayla swallowed. "Sorry," she said.
The man didn't respond at first, but kept staring at her. "No worries," he said after a beat. His voice was low, husky, as if he had just woken up.
Kayla began to skirt around him, clenching her bags and lowering her gaze.
"You're new to town."
Kayla paused, turning to look at the tall stranger again. "Just moved in last night. I'm Kayla. I'd shake your hand, but..." She gave him a little smile, lifting the bags in her arms.
The corner of the stranger's lips twitched. "Emmett Cole," he replied. "Do you need help with those?"
"Oh, no," Kayla said immediately, her politeness giving way to caution. "I live close by. Small town and all."
Emmett nodded at that. "Nice to meet you, Kayla."
Kayla gave him a nod, then turned and kept going, weaving her way through the streets. She felt a small thrill that she already knew the way from her place to the store with ease.
It took her a few days to arrange her apartment to how she liked it, but when it was finished, she was immensely pleased with herself. The kitchen was all white appliances, but she felt the colorful tea towel she hung on the oven door handle and her bright purple coffee maker added a splash of color.
The living room was decorated in warm colors- with a bright red couch as the centerpiece. She covered the walls with photos she had taken, and posters sporting some of her favorite literary quotes.
The bedroom was the opposite- it was all cool colors, with a bed draped in blues and turquoise, giving it a ocean vibe to remind her of the place she came from. The walls were bare apart for fairy lights she had put up, giving the room a soft, warm glow.
Satisfied, Kayla sat down on that red couch, curling her legs up as Bandit snored on the thick, fleece lined dog bed in the corner by the window. Leaning back, Kayla studied the ceiling and felt her eyes grow heavier and heavier.
Hours later, Kayla was jolted awake by a loud sound. She sat up, realizing it was twilight, and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
Bandit stood on his back legs, looking out the window, whining.
The sound echoed again, and Kayla froze when she realized what it was.
A pack of wolves were howling.
Author's Note: This story is heavily influenced by the recent trips I've taken to Oregon, and my love for the supernatural. The title is based on a series of poem I've been working on- which can be viewed on tumblr or Instagram, just search under the hashtag "the way of wolves". Hope you enjoy!