Authors: Justine Winter
By Justine Winter
Copyright © 2014 by Justine Winter
Published by Justine Winter
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction.
All of the characters, names, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, except for those in the public domain. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. All rights reserved.
Cover by Melody Simmons
Cover model: Janna Prosvirina
To my family, for always inspiring and encouraging me.
I’d been dreaming of
again. I couldn’t help it and I didn’t even know who
was, yet here I was for the second night in a row, waking with the vision of him seared into my mind. He was extremely handsome, tall and muscular. His hair was dark brown and cut short, and his eyes were an intense emerald green.
Unfortunately, I’d woken before anything good could happen. It was a nasty reminder that my arm really hurt, and that I needed to take some more painkillers.
Three nights before, I’d been mugged. It had been my usual day that consisted of waking up and rushing over to university to hear the lecturers babble on about making last-minute notes. Bearing in mind I’d have an exam at the end of the week; it was a waste of my time.
I was prepared as much as I needed to be, besides, I was taking a creative writing course and everybody knew it was all about spontaneity and our creative ability. After all, we wouldn’t know what was in the exam until we got there, so it wasn’t like we could prepare a story before. However, the lecturers stipulated that I had to attend the revision classes otherwise they’d fail me! How unfair and uncreative was that?
After Uni I was scheduled to work at
. I waited tables, poured drinks and listened to the constant chit-chat that filled the pub. It was pretty boring, but the manager arranged my shifts around my Uni schedule so I couldn’t complain (much).
I’d been looking forward to the next few weeks to be over with for a while. I’d be packing my bags and heading out to see the world. That was the reason I took the job. I’d saved every penny and not had a social life in years. The thought of writing a novel while travelling the world held so much appeal that I didn’t much care about ‘partying’. Besides, I lived in Wales, and there was no way I’d be staying a minute longer than was necessary.
I was shattered from another long day as I walked to my car after finishing work, and that’s when I was mugged. He came running at me, and yanked at my bag, scratching my arm in the process. I tried to grab it back, pulling as hard as I could, but it was no use, my attacker was much stronger than I was, and it all happened so fast. I had no idea how my brain even registered that I was being mugged. I guess reflexes really did work in the heat of the moment.
If you could call it luck, I had my car keys in my hand ready to open the car when he’d attacked me. However, everything else I carried like my phone and purse had been in my bag. My options were limited so I’d jumped in the car and headed towards the police station. By the time I got there I was a nervous wreck. Running on auto-pilot I recalled everything that happened. And that took forever.
The next day I’d gone to the doctors to have my arm checked. It had swollen and was extremely red and itchy. In my opinion, it looked like it was infected, but I was prescribed some strong painkillers and sent on my way. Nothing like a bit of sympathy.
It was still early and I had another day of revision ahead of me before my final exam tomorrow. Deciding I wouldn’t waste the morning moping in bed, I grabbed a pair of joggers and a t-shirt, laced up my trainers and headed out the door to take a walk in the woods.
It was promising to be a glorious day, the sun was rising and cast beautiful pink and orange rays throughout the sky. I couldn’t resist the urge to sit on the bench for a few minutes and watch nature pass me by. It was so tranquil.
As I sat gazing at the sky my eyes began to sting, and my vision blurred, and like an elastic band, it snapped back into view, and I could see
. I could see the minuscule rain droplets on the leaves across the path glisten in the sunlight.
My ears popped with a loud bang as I sneezed, sending my senses into overdrive. I could smell bacon, wait, what? The nearest café was twenty minutes away… And the traffic! I could hear the cars speeding along the dual carriageway, and that was miles from here.
I was obviously more tired than I’d thought, either that, or my painkillers had been working
well. Odd how I hadn’t felt like that yesterday, though, perhaps I was having some delayed side effects! Were hallucinations even classed as a side effect?
There was noise coming at me everywhere I turned, yet there wasn’t anybody here.
I ran back home, dashed into the house and grabbed my towel intent on going to the shower. I waited for the water to warm up and hoped it would ease away the tension. My stomach was in knots, and I had that horrible gut feeling that something wasn’t right with me. What was going on?
I lathered up my favourite coconut body wash and scrubbed down my body, avoiding the scratches on my arm. Wait a minute… They’d gone! My arm was completely healed. How was that possible?
Less than two hours ago I was taking painkillers to help ease the pain. I stared at my arm again and noticed a faint scar in the shape of a bite mark. Huh, that was weird. I was sure I hadn’t been bitten there before.
I gathered my towel around me and headed for the door when a wave of nausea hit me. I stumbled to the floor and a loud crack penetrated my skull. Crying out in pain, I felt a weird tickle in my mind. A loud dominant male’s voice boomed through my thoughts.
You have been branded. You are a Werewolf!
Hysteria penetrated my body. I couldn’t think straight and my head thumped from the blinding pressure. I could see black dots floating above my eyes. I knew I was about to pass out.
I tried to breathe evenly, taking big gulps of air and letting them whoosh out of me. I couldn’t pass out, not now. I had to stay calm, I needed to work out what was going on. I stuck my head between my legs which should have worked, but made no difference.
The searing pain in my head increased and I felt the urge to give in to the darkness. I couldn’t resist it anymore.
I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing. I stretched my arm out and patted the bed, but it was no use, I couldn’t find it. I was too sleepy to really care, and I could feel the pull of my dreams drawing me back to sleep. The phone could wait, for now I needed to rest.
I could hear a faint pounding in my dream, it matched the rhythm of paws hitting the ground as I ran. The noise grew louder the closer I got to my destination.
“Luna, are you there? Come on girl, open up!” Huh, that was odd, I could’ve sworn that was Sky’s voice.
The constant thudding increased and my head started to hurt all over again.
“Luna, I swear if you don’t open this door in two seconds I’m going to kick it down!”
With that threat, I realised I wasn’t dreaming anymore, and that was definitely Sky’s irritated voice I could hear. Intent on keeping my door on its hinges I leapt out of bed and dashed to open it.
“Geez, Sky, there’s no need to get all dramatic!” I couldn’t help sounding sullen, I was enjoying my dream too much for it to be over. The second I opened the door she came barging in. “Hello, to you too!” OK, so maybe I was grumpy, but she deserved it.
I closed the door behind her and turned to face her. She’d better have a good reason for interrupting my sleep.
“Where’ve you been, Luna? Classes started four hours ago!” I was about to throw a bunch of sarcastic comments her way when I realised what she’d said.
“What? It’s only seven, classes don’t start until nine-thirty today!” I felt a weird sensation come over my body as I realised the words I had said didn’t seem right. It was still morning wasn’t it? I tried to find my phone to check the time, but Sky beat me to it.
“Luna, it’s half past one in the afternoon! Are you OK? You look odd.”
“You’d look odd too if I’d just beaten down your door when you were sleeping! Wait, hold up. It’s afternoon already? Shit.”
How had I missed my alarm? I never slept in late, especially when I had classes scheduled. My headache was seriously beginning to get on my nerves, and I couldn’t concentrate long enough to remember anything past the last five minutes.
I headed towards my bedroom to grab some aspirin, I needed to dull the thumping. The cool water helped ease some of the tension away as it trickled down my throat.
“What are you doing here anyway, Sky?”
“You mean apart from saving your butt? I thought you’d be a little more grateful Luna. You know we only have today before the exam tomorrow, and you know we HAVE to attend the revision classes! Professor Stuart has been questioning me all morning about you!”
“What did you say to him?” I asked, dreading the answer.
“That you were sick, but hoping to get back for the afternoon session! So get your butt in gear, and get ready, before we both get cut from the exam!”
“Crap! Thanks Sky, I owe you one,” I said, as all of my energy deflated.
“Yeah, yeah, you’ll definitely be owing me one! You can take me to the bar later and get me tipsy. After the anxiety I’ve gone through this morning I’m going to need it!”
I rushed into the bedroom and opened up my wardrobe. I grabbed my favourite blue skinny jeans, a pink vest top, laced up my Converse, and picked up my hoodie. I quickly checked my appearance, and realised I didn’t have to fake being unwell. My face said it all.
“Chop, chop, Luna!”
“Can you grab my bag from the kitchen?” I called as I raced down the stairs.
I picked up my replacement phone and some cash from my hidden stash.
When my bag had been stolen along with my purse, I phoned the bank as soon as I could. They’d cancelled my cards, but had given me a new one that could withdraw emergency cash only. I took out as much as I could that day, and tucked it away in a secure place in the house. The last thing I wanted was to be robbed of that as well.
With my cash safely in my pocket I picked up my keys and followed Sky into the garage. “How’d you get here, anyway?”
“Oh, I begged Jamie for a lift. He was being really stubborn to begin with, moaning about the distance and the cost of petrol, blah, blah, blah. Then I persuaded him with my womanly ways!” she fluttered her eyes at me as she finished her sentence. I had no doubt that was true.
Sky was definitely a catch. She had such beautiful blonde hair that came down past her shoulders, and it always looked perfect whether it was straight or curly. Today it was straight, and her make-up was perfect too. She could do no wrong.
She often told me her face was a blank canvas, and the make-up she wore was an expression of her uniqueness. I could never compete with the likes of Sky. Her beauty and slim frame never gave the rest of us much hope. However, she could keep all the attention, I preferred to hide in the shadows. It was safer that way.
I had long brown hair that was naturally curly, and my body was curvy in the right places. I wasn’t the high-maintenance type. I liked the bare minimum of make-up, mostly because I didn’t have anyone I wanted to impress. ‘Take me as I am’ - that was my mantra.
“I still can’t believe your parents gave this to you for your birthday. If mine gave me a car, I would drop dead,” Sky whined.
“You know my dad fusses with my safety all the time,” I reminded her. Last October I’d turned twenty-one, and my parents had given me a white Range Rover Evoque Coupé. They’d assumed a big tank of a car would assist in keeping me alive.
It was completely expensive, but I loved it. As a student who had a high-end car, and a house to themselves I was perceived as having things easy, that everything had landed in my lap. What everyone failed to see was the real me, and why I had them.
I’d grown up around money. My mother was an author, and she wrote crime fiction on a daily basis. My dad, however, was a surgeon. Mum would spend days writing about death, while dad spent his saving lives. The irony wasn’t lost on me.
As usual, it hadn’t taken Sky long to mess around with the music in the car. She was obsessed with the entertainment system. I turned the key in the ignition and set out for Uni. It was a thirty-to-forty minute drive depending on the traffic, but I didn’t mind because it was mostly scenic. I’d seen plenty of beautiful mornings on my way in before.
Sky was too busy wailing at the top of her lungs to carry a conversation which was fine with me. I had plenty to think about.
I was extremely worried that I couldn’t remember anything about last night, or even how I’d slept in so late. Especially when everything had seemed normal at home. I was also pretty sure I hadn’t been drinking last night, but it was the only plausible conclusion that explained my headache.
I was a responsible drinker. Too often at the pub I watched the drunkards make fools of themselves before spending the night with their heads stuck in the toilet. It was enough to put me off, and I liked to be in control of my mind and body.
Sky was a bad influence. If I didn’t have a drink in my hand, she’d made sure I did. It was hard work, until I realised I could fool her. Once Sky had had a drink or two, she couldn’t tell the difference between vodka and lemonade, and just plain lemonade.
“Sky? Did we hang out last night?” I wanted to know, I was feeling crazier by the second.
“Uh, no, Luna. You had work at
remember? What’s going on with you today? You’re so dishevelled! Are you OK? Did something happen?”
“Whoa, slow down Sky! I’m fine, honestly!” I lied. “I just have this headache, and I guess I’m just a little out of it.” I didn’t know why, but I felt like I shouldn’t really tell Sky the real answer to her questions. I didn’t want her to panic even more, or worse, consider me crazy. After all, who in their right mind loses their memory?
“OK Luna, if you say so. You’re still alright to drive though right? ‘Cause I really don’t wanna crash!”
“Such faith you have in me!”
“I’m too young and pretty to die yet!”
“You’re so shallow, Sky!”
“Dude, lighten up! It was a joke!” I knew she was only messing, but I couldn’t help feeling cranky about what she’d said. There wasn’t even a logical explanation for it.
I tried to take some deep breaths, but my body wouldn’t accept the calming influence it usually gave me. I could feel my insides vibrate from the anger that coiled inside me. My hands gripped the steering wheel tighter as my foot pressed down further on the accelerator. I couldn’t stop myself.
The needle of the speedometer increased within seconds, and I knew I needed to get myself back together again before Sky realised how fast we were going. I didn’t want to though, I wanted to go faster.
I tried desperately to think of something else, like the way the sun looked in the bright blue sky, and how it glistened off of the roofs on the cars ahead of me. I mentally smacked my head, as I realised I was about to crash.
Logic took over and I eased off of the accelerator, dodging the cars in front. My muscles relaxed and slowly the tension faded. I could taste blood, I’d obviously bitten my tongue while I’d been busy seeing red. Anger left a bitter taste in my mouth.
I let out a sigh and thanked my lucky stars that I’d regained control before we became specks on the road. I
needed to work out what was wrong with me. I was becoming some hot-headed, anger-fuelled crazy person!
I parked the car close to the entrance, and headed to class with Sky. My stomach growled with hunger and I realised I hadn’t eaten since last night. I made a quick detour to the vending machine because I definitely couldn’t sit through a whole class without some sustenance, even if it was chocolate! It wasn’t healthy, but it made me happy, and when I had an afternoon of droning ahead of me I needed as much borrowed happiness as I could get.
It was time to face the wrath of the literary beast.