Rise of the Moon (Moonlit Series Book 1)

Rise of the Moon

August

Prologue

The sound of my paws beating against the ground was the only sound I heard as I travelled through the forest, distancing myself from my father. He’d put no effort into stopping me; hadn’t even yelled at me when deep down I knew what I did was wrong. I was more frustrated with the fact that my father had simply let it slide like he always did. How far could I go before he put his foot down?

Shouting was something I could ignore. The thing that was so hard to pay no attention to was the unbearable, heavy silence that swarmed around me. That silence was like a hundred daggers hanging from the ceiling, just waiting to drop.

Trees flew by me in the opposite direction, like cars passing each other on the highway. The only real difference was that unlike the drivers in their cars, I felt something for each bit of nature that I passed. The scent of the healthy trees, the mouth-watering smell of a rabbit –if I focused, I was certain I’d be able to hear it running through the underbrush. Such serene details could soothe the soul of any creature and beast. If only anyone would stop and listen.

Lights flashed by ahead, and I allowed myself to pick up on the sounds of traffic. What time was it? It was dark out, but beyond the fact that it was nighttime I was at a loss. Without slowing down, I changed my direction towards the road. It was a small highway, single lanes in either direction. I didn’t look as I darted across. Nothing hit me, and I didn’t look back to see if I’d caused any damage.

Back in the cover of foliage, I stopped. My paws throbbed from hours of endless running. I hadn’t eaten anything since the night before, when I’d taken off. Maybe if I followed the highway, I’d come across a town where I could rest for a moment.

Edging back towards the paved ground, I remained just inside the treeline and picked a direction. Within an hour, trees gave way to back yards. While I needed clothes, I didn’t bother looking for someone who took the time to hang their clothes to dry. I’d learned long ago how to break into the salvation army donation bins they kept in the parking lots of grocery stores, so that was where I headed.

I shifted from wolf to man right there in front of the bin after lopping around the parking lot and making sure there were no cameras. For the first time, I let myself think that the pain that ripped through me was something I deserved. In human skin, my hands and feet still ached, but I pushed past it, quickly getting to my feet and breaking into the bin. My fingers trembled, my heart beat fast –the adrenalin pulsed through me, fighting me. Had I been in the forest, I would have just lay there on the ground until the moment passed, but here I couldn’t let myself be seen.

Raising suspicion was bad.

Acting without permission was bad.

Betraying the Alpha was bad.

Killing was bad.

Rules. Rules, rules, rules, rules and more rules. Simple rules. Practical rules. Rules that seemed like common sense.

Why was it so hard to follow the rules?

I finally got the bin open and I pulled out bags, digging through clothes both washed and unwashed, some smelling like fresh linen and others smelling faintly of urine. But the clothes went to the needy, so what did the donators care?

Amongst everything, I found a pair of colourful board shorts and a black t-shirt that had holes along its hem. I stuffed everything back inside and closed up the bin before quickly pulling the clothes on. The shorts were a little too big, but they tied up at the front. I pulled the string as tight as possible as I started towards the street. I could live without shoes.

Many places were closed at this hour, so I headed downtown. It didn’t take long to get there, since the town was on the small side. Along the way, I found a high school. It stood tall and proud in its skin of red brick, faded to a dark orange over the years. Every window peered down like eyes staring at me in the darkness. But these eyes themselves were the darkness, as the building was vacant and quiet inside.

On the other side of the school, there was a river, and beyond that was a park. It was low from lack of rain, and I could see everything from bottles to a rusting grocery cart scattered along the edge. The air smelled strongly of duck and geese, hinted with the feeble scent of a swan. Maybe I should have stayed a wolf after all. Duck was delicious.

I looked over the railing that safeguarded the cars from going over the edge of the bridge. If I fell off and hit my head
just
right… No. There was a higher chance of me surviving, and then I’d have to walk around smelling of duck shit.

I went the long way around to the water’s edge. Mud and questionable water oozed between my toes, but I didn’t let it bother me. Places like this were the perfect place to find a bit of change –which I would need if I wanted to get anything to eat. It took me a while, but I found a few coins in a sludge-filled purse: Three loonies, two toonies and seven quarters. There were pennies, nickels and dimes, too, but I didn’t bother to pocket them. I went to toss the purse back into the water, then changed my mind and carried it back up with me. It may not help much, but taking a small amount of garbage out of the river would be better karma than leaving it there.

With the purse dripping wet in my hand, I strolled through the empty park until I found a drinking fountain and a garbage can. The purse went into the trash, and I used the fountain to wash my feet and the money, then followed my nose to the smell of donuts and bagels.

Being a Canadian town, I wasn’t surprised to find a Tim Hortons. It was open, and I headed inside still shoeless and ordered as much food as the eight, almost nine, dollars would get me. The employee mopping the floor noticed my feet, but didn’t say a word despite the door’s label of “No shoes, no shirt, no service.” Three bagels and a donut wasn’t a whole lot, but it would do for now. Maybe I’d go hunting tomorrow. While I ate inside, I finally got a grasp of what time it was. Two o’clock in the morning. The sun would be rising in four hours.

Tired, I headed back to the park to find a quiet place to sleep. I found a shroud of bushes and crawled underneath, lying flat on my back. If I was lucky, I’d be able to get in at least six hours of sleep.

But I wasn’t lucky.

Feminine laughter floated through the air. It was distant, but the only voices I’d heard all night outside of the Tim Hortons. I rolled onto my stomach and peeked through the leaves at the approaching teenagers.

“Shh –shhhhhh,” one hushed the other. My ears tuned into the sound of the female’s voice immediately. “God, my mom would kill me if she knew what we were doing. You’re lucky your mom doesn’t care.”

The other girl’s voice was a little harder to pick up on. “–worry. We’ll be
fiiiine
.” One of them came into view. Female. Short. Drunk, by the sounds of it. She continued, “Like, they don’t even
have
to know.”

“Let’s just be glad that Kristy’s mom is pretty cool, alright?” The second and only other companion came into view. She was nearly a head taller, her hair darker. Her hand hovered around her friend’s elbow on the off chance that she needed to be stabilized.

I caught myself crawling out of the bushes unintentionally, as if I was drawn to her. Shaking my head, I withdrew once again. Something was off with me.

“This is exactly why I don’t like partying,” the taller girl said. This was the first time I wanted to know a human girl’s name. She was human, right? Being downwind, I couldn’t pick up her scent. But they were heading my way, cutting across the park instead of following the path.

“You’re such a spoilsport,” her friend said as they grew closer. “But I love you anyway. You know that, right? That I love you? Because I do.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know.”

They walked past me, heading back towards the road. I finally allowed myself to slip out of the bushes and follow them. She glanced over her shoulder a few times but it was dark, and I was more than certain she couldn’t see me. But did she sense me?

I didn’t know what I was waiting for until we reached the road. Finally in the light, I saw her in all her glory. Mousy brown hair, pink lips that I imagined to be feather soft. She looked like an angel with the way the light hit her, and she captivated me to the point where she was the only thing in my line of vision. It took every fiber in my body to keep from approaching her.

But she was beautiful.

No… she was perfect.

And she
would
be mine.

September

Chapter 1: Evelyn

 

Where was she?

I squinted in the darkness, the fire not supplying as much light as I would have liked as I searched faces. This was why I didn’t like parties,
especially
ones where my options were to get bitten by mosquitoes outside, or lose my sense of hearing to the music inside. Either way, alcohol was spilling everywhere. It was bad enough I’d had to change my shirt once already that night.

Deciding that she wasn’t outside, I headed towards the house. She couldn’t have left –the thing about hosting the party meant you couldn’t go far. Maybe she was refilling chips… or something.

The fact that I was even here was a symbol of how much our friendship meant to me. We’d been to four “end of summer” parties already in the last week, though most of them had been in town. The thing was that when she was holding the party, we couldn’t escape. Well, she couldn’t.

People moved from the house to the yard, and I squeezed past them to get inside the kitchen. My jaw grinded as beer spilled down my back. I let out a small moan, knowing I didn’t have a third change of clothing, and I wasn’t going to walk around in my blue pajama tank top.

Red hair flashed in the corner of my eye amongst the blondes and brunettes, and I changed my direction to follow it. As I passed the door to the basement, the thought crossed my mind that I’d rather be downstairs chilling with her parents and her sister than up here with all these kids –sure, I knew them. I just preferred them in a school environment.

“Maddie,” I called, grabbing the redhead’s arm.

The girl turned around to reveal Marissa, and not my best friend. Feeling like an idiot, I dropped her arm. The two of them didn’t look alike, not even from the back. At least, not with the height difference. Marissa was my height, roughly five foot six, though tinier in stature. Maddie was a head shorter than us, with a curved body that made the boys go wild.

Marissa narrowed her brown eyes at me, and I immediately cursed her long lashes. I hoped they fell out with all the mascara she layered on them. The splash of freckles across her pointed nose would have made her look sweet, if her lips weren’t always pursed in a sour frown.

“Do I look like Maddie?” she said over the music, holding her red plastic cup to her shoulder as if deliberately keeping it out of spitting distance. Maybe one day I would spit in her drink. Anyone would admit she deserved it.

“If you did, it would be a compliment to you, and an insult to Maddie. I’m surprised you’re here, Marissa. I didn’t think this would be your scene,” I said in a quiet moment as the song was switched. “And we all know Maddie and I didn’t invite you.”

“All the more reason to show up –though I’m regretting it. This party is awful.” Or, that’s what I imagined her saying, since the music started again and her words were drowned out. I offered a helpless shrug and walked away. I didn’t really feel like dealing with her anyway.

Thankfully, it didn’t take much longer to find Maddie. I found her waiting in line for the bathroom upstairs, impatience written across her rounded face, her arms crossed under her bust, making it appear even larger –which was probably her intention. When she saw me, her blue eyes lit up.

“Evelyn,” she greeted as I approached. The structure of the house allowed for this spot to be significantly quieter than downstairs in the kitchen and living room. Not silent, but I could hear Maddie at a normal volume. “Nothing sucks more than waiting in line for the bathroom at your own house.”

“Try growing up with three sisters,” I reminded her.

“Right,” she laughed. “I’m just glad that my parents aren’t angry that this turned out a little bigger than they were expecting. I guess it’s only natural for the lines to be a little longer.”

“Well, I’m wondering if the size of the party has anything to do with Marissa being here,” I told her.

“She’s here? Damn. I should almost start inviting her to these parties so that I know that she won’t come,” she muttered. A sigh, “Well, I don’t have any tricks up my sleeve tonight. How fast do you think we can set up a prom environment, fill a bucket with pig’s blood and crown her prom queen?”

“Considering prom is months away, I’m pretty sure she’ll catch on quickly,” I told her. “Besides, it was the other way around. Carrie was an outcast –not the biggest bitch in school.”

“Well, everyone knows that the biggest bitch in school deserved it more anyway,” Maddie said, earning a giggle from the girl standing next to us.

“As much as I would like to make this an in-depth conversation, I actually think I’m going to head home,” I told her.

“You told me you were going to spend the night,” she pouted, pushing off the wall. “Was it Marissa? Did she say anything to you?”

“No –it’s the loud music and my shirt being drenched with beer for the second time this evening. Honest.”

“I can lend you a shirt,” she offered.

“We’ve tried that before. You forget how much your boobs stretch out the front of your shirts,” I reminded her.

“But you’re not actually going to leave, are you? We can quickly throw your other shirt in the wash.”

“Yeah, but I have the feeling if it’s already happened twice, it’s going to happen again and again and again. Maybe I’ll come spend the night tomorrow,” I suggested.

“I’m sorry –but this is the last party at my place for the year. Or, at least, until my birthday… Should I get my mom to drive you home?” she asked.

“Nah,” I shook my head. “It’s only ten-thirty. I’ll walk. I don’t have a problem with it.”

“Your mom will,” she pointed out.

“She’s also going to have something to say about the fact that I smell like beer and cigarettes,” I retorted. Not that I smoked –hell, I’d barely had anything to drink. Two rum and cokes didn’t do much to hinder my sense of balance or coherency. Mom smoked, but she told me and my sisters that if she ever caught us with a cancer stick between our lips she’d rip us a new one. I personally had never seen the ‘cool’ aspect of smoking, and had always hated it whenever my mother chose to smoke in the car with any of us.

“Hoping the wind with blow the smell away?” she asked. The girl beside us was finally allowed to enter the washroom.

“I’m hoping that the smell of the fire will overpower it,” I rolled my eyes. “Anyway, I’ll message you when I get home. Just going to grab my bag and I’ll be out of here.”

“Call me if you change your mind halfway through walking home –my mom wouldn’t mind,” she promised.

“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” I told her, before disappearing into her room. It was clean, for once, though I’d played a big part in that earlier that day. I was a little surprised that no one was in here, though I imagined Maddie had cleared it out as soon as she’d found anybody there. I gathered my things, tucking them into the old backpack I always used; nothing fancy, just a plain light grey bag. It once had two straps, but one had finally given way in grade eleven. Mom had offered to buy me a new one, but it was otherwise a still useable bag –I just now had to carry it over my left shoulder, instead of the right like I was used to. Zipping it closed, I headed back into the hallway. Maddie was gone, presumably in the bathroom.

I headed downstairs, stopping at the bottom to debate whether or not I should go and say goodbye to Maddie’s parents. If I did, they’d insist on driving me home, and I didn’t want to be a burden. So I turned towards the front door and ran into my third and fourth redheads of the nights.

Philip was Marissa’s twin brother, and the only other red head that was
supposed
to be at the party; Maddie had invited him. If I had to guess, I would say that as babies almost right into their tweens, the twins would have been identical. I was almost willing to bet that their freckles matched up. Although they were the same height, puberty had made Philip a much more masculine version of his sister, starting with his stronger jawline and ending with his thicker eyebrows. He was, in all honesty, attractive, and it wasn’t hard to see why Maddie had a small crush on him. He was probably my second favourite redhead that I knew.

Cole, on the other hand, was my least favourite redhead. His hair was darker than the other three, bordering brown in darker lighting. His face was oval, and slightly feminine with his high cheekbones, though he was such a jerk that I doubted anyone called him out on it. He was taller than Philip and me by mere inches, but he made them count since he never failed to look down on me. Part of me wondered if he and Philip became friends solely because of their hair colour –they didn’t appear to have much else in common.

I was a little disappointed that the third member of their trio wasn’t there. I wondered if Evan was sick. Hopefully I’d see him on Tuesday, the first day back of the new school year. It was hard for a girl to crush on a guy in the summer when she never had the chance to see him.

“And I was beginning to think my night wouldn’t be complete,” I spoke loudly again as I rolled my eyes, not at all happy to see Cole. The music made my head throb. “Hey, Philip.”

“I don’t want to make assumptions, but you look like you’re leaving,” Philip called over the music.

“You’d assume correctly,” I shouted back. “But, hey, I’ll catch you at school next week.”

He nodded, and I walked away before Cole could make any digs –which he would if he’d had the chance. I knew I should find Maddie and tell her of the second unwanted guest, but I had confidence that Philip would keep him in line.

I exited through the front door, hopping off the front porch and narrowly avoiding stepping where someone had decided to throw up. Nothing a hosing down couldn’t fix in the morning, though I dreaded the number of people that would be walking through it before the night’s end.

The night was warm. Humid. Not that I felt the change when I was already gross and sticky from the beer that’d been spilled on me. That aside, it was a lovely night to walk home. I hummed as I did so, glad to be leaving my worries at the party –not so glad to be leaving them with Maddie to deal with, but there were so many people there that I seriously doubted they’d try anything.

As I passed the first intersection, I heard an animal cry out. I stopped to listen, closing my eyes, but it was over before I could fully enjoy it. A wolf’s howl. I frowned, though I didn’t think I’d mistaken it. My not-so-secret obsession of werewolves stemmed off into my obsession with wolves. I’d go on YouTube and listen to the howls of wolves, coyotes and foxes, over and over again until I could tell them apart nine times out of ten when Maddie played them for me. Maybe I needed more practice though, because wolves didn’t inhabit the area. 

I couldn’t be sure without hearing it again, but there was nothing to be heard. There wasn’t a second howl to make a final call. With a sigh, I continued on my way. Maybe it was really a coyote calling out instead.

The walk back, alone, was always so much longer than the walk to Maddie’s house. There was a reason she was my best friend, and time definitely flew by when I was with her. The forty minute walk definitely felt that long now. But I enjoyed my time alone. When you grew up in a crowded home, peace becomes a virtue. It used to be me, my parents and my three sisters. Now, Sydney and Bree were both married with kids, so it was just Sophie, me and mom. Dad came and went on business, hardly ever home. It was empty, but time away was still appreciated. Mom was clingier than ever since Bree moved out with Nick, and Sophie was like every other little sister –annoying and frustrating.

Up ahead, I spotted a sleek, black car parked at the head of a driveway, almost invisible except for the light of the moon hitting its roof, and a boy about my age sitting on the hood, looking at the house. Even in the best light of day, it didn’t look all that appealing, although my mother would say it had character. There was a long stretch of driveway that rounded to the back side of the house, not allowing you to see who was home unless you walked right up to the front door and knocked. It was a dark red brick, three stories with a rotting wooden porch that surrounded the entire building. The third floor was an attic, as far as I knew, with a round window facing the road. The sign hammered into the front lawn had read “sold” for two weeks now, but this was the first time I’d seen anyone around that could possibly live there.

My heart rammed into my throat, taken by surprise that someone else was out on this road at this hour. I debated crossing the street, to the side opposite of the driveway, but decided against it. I was admittedly shy though, and while I could see that he was tall and thin, I didn’t dare look at his face. I tried to walk by, hoping he wasn’t the social type.

“Evangeline?” he asked suddenly, and I looked up. He was handsome, with dark brown hair, silver-blue eyes that seemed to glow in the moonlight, fair skin, and pale lips. Everything about him screamed nonthreatening. That almost made me more wary.

“Um,” I looked around, not quite sure that I believed that he was talking to
me
. “No.”

“Ah, I’m sorry, you just looked like someone I used to know,” he said, looking away. He had an accent. British. And if that line hadn’t irked me, making any shy feelings I had vanish, then I might have felt a little giddy. If there was one thing I couldn’t stand, it was cheesy pick-up lines. 

“Does that line actually work?” I crossed my arms in front of me.

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