Would you get your lazy ass up? Yes, I’m talking to you, Shyanne! We’ve been in bed way to long and I will not stand for it! I feel as if my paws are melting from the need to run.
Groaning loudly from my sore muscles, I rolled over and stared out my window; the bright morning sun streamed through my flimsy curtains. Yawning, I mumbled sleepily, “I’m up, I’m up already.”
Not exactly, you’re still laying in the bed; what I meant when I said get up, is GET OUT OF BED.
Rolling gracefully, I jumped up on my feet. Stretching, I looked around to see who was talking to me. No body, save Shine, was in the room. Neck prickling with awareness, I said cautiously, “Who are you?”
Bout time you picked up on that. The voice said with a snort. I happen to be your better side; your companion, best friend, your shifter counterpart… whatever you want to call me. I’m like your wild side but with a voice.
“So, basically, you’re my beast?”
Did you even read the fucking book? She snarled.
“How about you get the hell over yourself? Of course I haven’t read it yet!”
Even after saying that, the book seemed to have its own gravitational pull; I was practically pulled to it as it lay on my desk.
Go to page 67. That’s all I want you to read right now, alright? It’ll explain.
Doubts filled my head; what would it say? Would I find out if I’m some weird-ass person who can go beastly during full moons?
My fingers had a mind on all their own and I flipped the book open with a musty creak. I gently looked through all the pages until I landed on page 67.
“It was once said, by one of the oldest and most favored Seekers that a woman, born of two wars, shall grace this earth. She will have the strength of her father but the grace and wisdom of her mother; all the animals will grace her soul. By a mere thought, she will form herself into any imaginable creature that has ever walked, or thought to have walked, this earth.
“During her twentieth year of life, however, she will be forced to change her heart. Harsh challenges will either break her or strengthen her. But, at what cost? Will she come back to help save our species from each other or will she fight against us all? May the fates take mercy on us if she fights.”
A picture, a very old but creepy looking picture, graced the bottom of the page. It depicted a woman, a very young but beautiful woman, riding a black stallion in full body armor wielding a sword and a wolf at the horse’s hooves. She looked out from the page as if she knew who I was and she wasn’t afraid to splice me with the double-edged sword.
“My dad was a wolf, wasn’t he?” I whispered as I looked down at the wolf. It was pitch black with white in his ears and on his chest. A pang struck my heart as I looked at the beautiful creature.
Your mother was a Black Panther. The soft voice murmured silkily.
“So they told bedtime stories about my birth, and basically I was either the savior or the killer of the shifter race.” Groaning loudly, I slammed the book shut. “This is some corny movie that little boys and girls watch, isn’t it? Just to make them feel as if they can change the damned place. Some corny book, probably.”
I’m pretty sure you just called your life a corny joke.
“And if I had?” I said with a shake of my head.
Ignoring my comment, she said, Your mom is going to think you’re mentally insane if you keep talking out loud like that; try to think the thoughts to me, ok?
“Trust me, this wouldn’t be the first time she’s caught me talking to myself.”
Just humor me, ok? We’re gonna have to talk in private sooner or later and I’m pretty sure mumbling under your breath to me won’t exactly be ‘private.’
Quietly taking a deep breath, I thought, maybe if I whisper it quietly enough they won’t hear me.
See? It wasn’t all that bad, was it?
Before I could answer, the gleaming numbers on my alarm clock glared into my eyes; November 6th 10:49. Looking at the calendar, I noticed it was a Tuesday. “Holy crap! I’m late for school!”
Scrambling around, I found a clean tank and slipped it on and found a semi-clean pair of skinny jeans before shimmying into them. Shine watched lazily from his perch on the window sill, his golden eyes still glazed from his mid-morning nap.
Maybe we should stay home; how many times have you tried to skip in your life?
If I don’t go to school the day after I fainted in the middle of the school, do you know how fast Shan and Nick would kick the door in? Faster than a fat kid running after cookies and cakes.
That’s pretty fast, she conceded with a laugh.
Squirting some of my favorite perfume on my neck, I slipped on my class ring and then I was flying out the door.
“You’re not going to school today, sweetheart.” A soft voice said from a recliner.
My eyes sought out the voice and was not surprised to see Jason, his feet propped up on my coffee table and a book on his lap. He had a four day beard on his jaw and chin, the color as dark as the hair on his head.
“What the hell do you mean? Of course I’m going to school; I have people to see, people to bitch slap and teachers to piss off.”
A grin, rare and beautiful as far as I can tell, revealed straight, white teeth. “Ah, you can save that for another day, baby. Today, however, we have some things to do.” Slapping his knee and sighing, he stood to his 6’ 5” stature, dwarfing me.
“Like what?” I asked grumpily, not wanting to spend any time with this weirdo.
Weirdo? Girl, he’s a hunk of a man and one hell of a shifter; I may be trapped inside of you but I still here gossip.
What do you mean? I asked as Jason led me out of my house and to his mammoth truck.
Jason tracked his first Jagar when he was just nine years old. The Jagar had killed his mother mere two years before; apparently, they tracked him down and was getting ready to attack. His father and brother made him stay behind in the cabin they had rented; but, the Jagar was smarter than that. He just wanted to hurt Matt even more by killing his youngest… what the Jagar didn’t know was that Jason was a warrior, even at such a young age. He killed the Jagar even before he had time to grab his gun.
Jason had already helped me into the truck’s cab and was climbing in himself when she finished her story. Looking at his face, I could clearly see his light scars covering his muscled arms and a peek of his chest from his plaid shirt. His eyes met mine curiously before he said, “you okay?”
“Just peachy,” my voice sounded strangled, even to me.
Staring out the window, the town that I had been living in for the past eighteen years ran by. The two gas stations bustled with activity, along with the local salon. The library, at the edge of town, was relatively quiet, even on a Tuesday morning.
“You can’t lie, sweetheart; tell me what’s wrong.”
The denial was balanced patiently on the tip of my tongue, waiting for even the smallest of inklings of approval to dive off. But I decided to actually be truthful and I murmured, “Do all shifters have inner voices?”
He was quiet as he turned us onto a semi-active road and to a group of trees. “Most of us do; for some reason, some don’t have voices, per say, but we have an over-whelming amount of feelings; a normal amount of anger is like a crumb while for someone who doesn’t have the voice but rather the urges and feelings, it’s like the whole piece of bread times ten.”
True understanding and experience coated his words. “Are you like that?”
“My mom, actually; she passed it onto my brother and that’s one of the big reasons why she was killed.”
“By the Jagar.” It wasn’t a question; it was a statement.
“You finally read the book?” he asked quietly as he drove off the road and onto a dirt path. The path took us to a little clearing where hunter’s usually parked their trucks in the fall time. He sounded surprised and a little happy.
“No,” I said with a slight sniff. “My…” I didn’t know how to explain her. Do I call her my voice? No, that sounded a little weirder than it already is.
“Your inner animal told you.” He said with a nod of his head. “Mine is always just using one-word syllables. He hates using long sentences, it’s like he’s phobic of long words.”
Laughing lightly, I murmured, “Maybe we should switch; mine can hardly shut up when I talk to her.”
Maybe we should! He’s fucking gorgeous. She said as she practically panted in my mind. I wouldn’t mind being in his mind all day.
Shut up. The words were practically snarled in my mind, jealousy and protectiveness falling over me like a warm blanket.
Alright, alright! Damn, if I wasn’t in your head all the time, I’d swear you were a werewolf.
“Looks like she’s as feisty as you are, if your scowl has any indication.” He laughed, reaching over and flicking the end of my nose with his index finger.
Awareness and electricity practically destroyed my system at his innocent playfulness. It seemed like the cells in my body decided to take a break and play bumper cars in my stomach. My body grew goose-bumps and my heart started to skip beats; my lungs burned and all I wanted was for him to cup my chin and kiss me.
His eyes went warm as he parked in the middle of the grassy field. “Shyanne…” he whispered, his lips distracting me.
“Yes.” It was simple; the one word, so small but so significant. Yes; yes, I wanted him to show me who I was going to end up marrying, despite my refusal. I wanted him to show me that he deserved my hand and maybe, my heart. But right now, I just wanted him to kiss me.
Soft and warm, his lips gently touched mine, urging my lips to react. As my mouth opened, he gently cupped my chin and then slipped his fingers through my hair, removing the clip I had messily thrown in. Tongues touched and danced and it was everything I had ever wanted in a kiss.
All of those cheesy romance movies and novels I had scoffed and claimed bullshit. I’m not the one to kiss a lot of guys, but I’ve had my fair share and it was nowhere near what they claimed…until now. All those fuzzy feelings the heroines and heroes claimed when they kissed their one and only. The gut wrenching feelings, the emotions that practically killed them and, of course, how beautiful I made them feel; so… in power.
Jason finally pulled back, with my resistance, of course. His eyes practically glowed as he looked into mine. He then rested his forehead against mine and said breathlessly, “Wow. I’ve never felt anything like that before.”
“That’s because I’m so damn awesome.” I said with pride but also happiness.
Damn straight; you kissed him like the world was gonna explode and that was your last wish. My inner animal sighed, her happiness evident. Told you he wasn’t so bad.
Sharp laughter burst from his mouth and he got out of his truck. I watched as he walked around the front of his truck, my eyes glued to his denim clad ass, my mouth lifting in a smirk.
He sure does come with a nice ass. That’s always a perk.
Grunting with agreement, she then said, you don’t have to call me the inner voice, you know. My name is Ashmara. But nobody ever called me that before I was assigned to you so you can call me Ash.
Leaves fell to their fallen brethren as Jason helped me get out of his truck.
“I can make it out of a truck, you know; I have made it to the age of eighteen without you holding my hand all day.” I grumbled; I just hated being helped to do things; I was able and healthy and I didn’t want him to go out of his way to do anything.
“My momma taught me right before she was killed; so suck it up, buttercup because I’m gonna do everything like a gentleman.” He said, his southern accent peeking out more than normal.
Knowing that his mother was a very touchy subject, I let the argument go and let him lead me to a fallen down tree where he then pulled out a knife. He flipped it in his hands and then said, “So you already know about your inner animal; what has she told you? Or how about this; what all do you know, exactly?”
Sitting on the old sycamore tree, I started with, “Well, I know about the kings and queens and then there’s Kade; it was the day I found out and I was sitting in my room, talking to myself and he appeared in my room. We talked and I found out some things.”
“Did he mention that you were destined to be the strongest and best all together shifter to ever be born? Even he will fall to your knees in submission.” The knife’s blade gleamed manically before Jason plunged the sharp blade hilt deep into the ground.
Shifting. That one damn word just pissed me off in so many ways. Just for no reason. “Does that mean that I have to change once every month against my will?”
“We’re shifters, not werewolves. Werewolves are cursed creatures that roam the earth because some other werewolf bit them when they were humans. It’s been whispered that werewolves are like the police for the supernatural. When you’re a human and you do things and are smart enough to get away, the werewolves are stalking you. If you do it more than once, the werewolves will then change you and make you a part of their ‘pack.’ So, needless to say, there are hundreds of werewolves.”
“How about vampires?”
Jason leaned back to look at the sky. “Vampires are nocturnal, as you can tell. They don’t sparkle or anything like that in the sunlight but they do get sunburned horrible. Let’s say they can go out for a few minutes in the sun and get a very mild sunburn but any more than that, their skin will blister and then fall off and then they’ll die from blood loss. They do drink from humans but they’re very good at curbing their appetite. Unlike us, they can survive weeks to months from feeding and when they do, majority of them either nab the homeless or the bad guys. Then there are the hooligans that steal unsuspecting victims, which is why some people are missing from key parts of the United States.”
“What do you mean by key parts of the United States?” I asked as I kicked at a few leaves.
“Well, do you remember that congressman that ‘disappeared’ right before a debate around two years ago?”
“Yeah; I did a report on him my sophomore year and then he just up and disappeared. His wife reported it because she was expecting him home to read a book to his son.” Police found his car and that was it. His laptop, keys and his wallet was all gone too.
A group of rabbits all popped out from a pile of leaves, saw us, and took off back in the woods. “That’s the one. Apparently, his mistress went to the vampires and told them that he dropped her because he was feeling guilty for cheating on his wife… he offered to pay her for her services and she wasn’t happy. So they got him right after work, drained him and then disposed of him in the coven.”
That sums up that nasty species. They’re greedy bastards that want money and blood; one of these days, they’re going to find out that they can’t have both. Ash growled from my mind.
A thought occurred to me. “So are they recluses or is that a myth?”
“Recluse is an understatement, Shy. They only leave their cave when they need to feed or to kill someone.” His tone clearly stated that he was particularly fond of the subject.
“What about shifter’s? How many of you are there?”
“You mean how many of us?” he emphasized the word us as he stared into my eyes, forcing me to concede to including me. “We are almost extinct. Since we are more social than both werewolves and vampires, we are the ones that the Jagar attack. We may not have that blood thirst like the others but our animal sides do; some people have a really strong animal and they can’t keep them restrained and they go berserk. I believe that some of the people that shoot out in the middle of malls and schools are shifters. They are so insane with the restraint that they just can’t handle it anymore and they kill people to help the animal from killing them.”
Frowning harshly, I said, “I hope to God you’re not defending those people who have killed hundreds of innocent people, some even children.”
“No, no, no!” Rushing his words, he spun to where he kneeled in front of me, a horrified look on his face. “That’s not what I meant! I swear, I was just telling you what I believed. Trust me, if I could go back, I’d kill them before they even tried to hurt those people.”
Looking in to his eyes, I saw the hurt that still rested on his heart from seeing his mother killed; seen the darkness in his soul from killing a grown man at the tender age of nine. But, more than that, I saw the man that just wanted to be loved for who he was. The tender heart with so many rips and tears in it, wanted so much to let someone in and heal all of it.
That’s what he wanted; I could see it. He may not even know it or even acknowledge it, but being a woman, I could almost sense the want, the need.
“I know Jason; you’re a very nice man. I’ve only known you for a few days, but I feel as if I know you inside and out.”
He smiled, his eyes once again melting to where I could drown in them again. “You know, you forgot about our date last night.”
I saw on my watch that it was nearing one o’clock and said, “Why don’t we make a trip to Cincinnati? We can go to the movies and my great aunt owns a nice restaurant….” I trailed off, waiting for him to say okay.
“Sounds perfect, sweetheart; let me call your dad and tell him why you won’t be home when he gets there.” I watched as he pulled out his phone and hit a number. Apparently, my dad was on his speed dial. “Hello, Alex. I just wanted to call you and let you know that I’m taking Shyanne out on a date… Cincinnati…. A movie and to dinner; Alex, you know I would never put her in a- yes, alright. See you later tonight. Bye.”
Laughing, I jumped up and said, “Race ya.”
We ran to the truck, me leading by a hair before he swiped out and pushed me a little. I lost my footing but quickly got it back.
“Cheater!” I screamed as he opened my door.
“All’s fair, especially when it’s me and you.”