Chapter 2

There were voices parting the fog that wrapped around Tegan's brain like a heavy blanket. Unfamiliar voices rose and receded, dispersing the haze and rousing her from sleep. Her eyes fluttered open, revealing a high spinning ceiling. She groaned and moved her hands up to clutch her aching head. Blinking hard, she tried to right her vision. Why did she feel like hell warmed over?

Looking around she caught the stares about ten strangers. With a start, Tegan bolted upright. That turned out to be a mistake because a pounding started behind her eye sockets and spread to the rest of her brain. Tegan groaned, placing her head between her knees and tried to remember what had happened to her. The last thing she remembered was talking with Storm. And then that other guy had come then…nothing. Oh, yeah. He had said she was a wolf.

What the hell did that even mean?

Sneakered feet walked into her line of vision. Slowly, she picked her head up to get a look-see at whom it was standing in front of her. Dark grey eyes looked down at her with a gentle stare. She was relieved to see that it was Storm.

"Where am I?" she asked, looking around. She realized they weren't in her cottage anymore, but someone else's lavish living room.

At the forefront of the group was a large man with a woman at his side. On her face she wore a worried expression. Behind them was the boy who had broken into her house, the one who had called her a wolf. His arms were crossed and he looked at her with all kinds of attitude. He wasn't as tall as the male before him, but their countenances were eerily similar. There had to be some kind of blood relation between the two.

"You're in the Den," Mr. Breaking and Entering said. "God, are you sure this girl is the one? She's so fucking…weak!"

Tegan glared at him from the couch she was perched on. She didn't know where all this resentment was coming from. She never met the jerk in her life. There was no reason for him to be talking about her like this, even if she didn't know what the hell he was talking about in the first place.

"Watch your tongue! She is to be respected," the older version of B and E snapped.

He sighed and rolled his eyes, looking utterly bored and unimpressed. "Yes, father," he groused, the testiness never leaving his tone. Tegan had to suppress the childish urge to stick her tongue out at the scolded boy – though boy wasn't an accurate description of him. While he wasn't taller than his father or Storm, he was still a lot taller than her five three. His blond hair was clipped short. Cinnamon brown eyes glared at her with cold indifference.

The father came over to stand in front of her. He kneeled down so that he was eye level with her. Storm leaned in closer, his side pressing into her. It was sort of a protective stance that he took, ready to intercept the man if he tried to cause her any harm. It had Tegan snuggling in just a little bit tighter to Storm and her hand went searching for his. She found it and squeezed, looking up to find him gazing down at her with a warm smile.

It's alright, he thought at her, giving her hand a gentle squeeze of its own.

Tegan nodded then turned toward the one kneeling before her. "Who are you?"

His lips turned up slightly before he answered her. "I'm Ulrick, Alpha of the Darkwood Wolf Pack. And they –" he turned slightly in his crouched position to motion to those behind him, "– are part of my pack." The group stirred with head nods and low murmured welcomes.

"Let me get this straight: you guys are a bunch of werewolves?" she questioned slowly like her tongue had trouble forming words into such a ridiculous question.

"Yes," Ulrick said, turning his full attention back toward her. He had a five o'clock shadow and his hair was slightly longer than his son's. They both had brown eyes and a full mouth. And although he was older and his rugged build was slightly intimidating, he was still very much handsome.

"I'm losing my damn mind," Tegan muttered. She ran her hands through her short brown hair and pulled slightly at the roots as if she were trying to rip out the madness leaching into her brain. Ulrick reached out to cover her hand with his, but she pulled away from his touch like it would burn her.

He looked from her to her familiar. "Do you think you could have explained things to her a little more thoroughly before she was brought here?" he asked Storm in a deep, resonating voice.

"I was getting to that part when Soren over there, ever so eloquently, burst into the room and told her what she was. The shock alone was enough to put her out for awhile. If he had never come along, I doubt any of this would have ever happened. I would have been able to better prepare her," Storm explained, glaring over to the one he was talking about.

Tegan could feel the tension in his body. There was hostility between the two, and not because of what had happened with her. The anger was born from something that had taken place before she had ever stepped foot on the island.

"Don't put this shit on me, asshole. It's not my fault she's so pathetic. There is no way that she could be our healer if she faints so damn easily," Soren sneered.

"Why are you being such a jerk?" Tegan demanded. Her confusion was quickly turning into rage. As far she knew she had done nothing to offend him. He was being vicious for no good reason.

"Please, don't mind my son. I will have a word with him about manners later," Ulrick ground out through clenched teeth. "Soren, apologize."

"I'm not apologizing to her," he barked.

"Apologize now!" His father commanded. His tone was low and venomous. It had Tegan shrinking even further back from him.

"My sincerest apologizes," he muttered, sounding anything but sincere. His puss had defiance written all over it. He uncrossed and re-crossed his arms, flashing sour looks at everyone that dared to glance at him.

Tegan thought it was best to take the high road and ignore the little brat. She had so much more to worry about than him right now. "Am I like you, a werewolf?" she asked softly.

Ulrick's face softened and he smiled gently at her. "You are only half werewolf."

"Am I going to change into some kind of monster thing on the full moon or something?" All she could picture was wolf-man hybrid creatures roaming the countryside and tearing up anything that got in their path.

Ulrick laughed a full belly laugh. Soren sucked his teeth from the corner he was sulking in. There were snorts of laughter that rippled from the group of spectators.

"We are not monsters. We are not evil creatures. We are like humans, but we just happen to turn into wolves. It is true that on the night of the full moon we are at our strongest. The only time when we cannot change is on the new moon. We are at our weakest then. Full werewolves can change at will any other time, though," he explained. "As for you coming into your change, I do not know what will become of you. Some half-breeds can transform, while others do not. We shall have to see on the night of the full moon when all wild magick is frenzied and reaches its pinnacle."

Tegan was beginning to feel nauseous, not dealing with this session of getting-to-know-you any better. Her head swam with all kinds of horrible things. The lightheadedness was beginning to creep back in. She put her head down between her knees again and took a deep breath in, let it out then repeated. She did this until her gut settled down and the jack hammering taking place behind her optic nerves subsided.

"Is there a way to know that I'm going to change? Does it hurt?" she finally asked.

"You'll be able to feel a shift within you, the wolf demanding to come forth. Your instincts will become baser, your senses sharpened, your thoughts wilder. But as a half-breed, the only time you will be able to change is at the full moon." Ulrick stood up from his crouched position, his knees cracking as he straightened them.

Tegan thought for a bit, collecting everything she knew about werewolves and piling up questions in the corner of her mind. "What about getting bitten or clawed?"

Soren sighed loudly, drawing attention to himself once again, and rolled his eyes. "You need to stop watching horror movies," he muttered. "That's all human werewolf fairytale bullshit. You are either born with lycanthropy or you're not. There is no contracting it with a scratch or bite. It's not a disease, it's genetic."

Well, at least this time he was giving her something knowledgeable and with substance, even if he was still going about it like a jackass.

"What is it like to change?" she asked.

"It's amazing – if you are lucky enough to experience it, that is. You let go. You let your wolf take over and forget about everything and rely only on instincts. It's the most wonderful feeling just to let everything go." This time there was nothing but great longing as Soren spoke. All the disdain and sarcasm had melted away from his speech.

Tegan's tongue darted out to lick her dry lips. "What happens if I do end up changing?"

"Then you shall join us on the Run," Ulrick told her.

Her eyebrows puckered. "What's that?"

His lips parted in a grin showing sharper than normal teeth. "That is when the entire pack gathers and hunts as a group."

Hunt? Why and what would they hunt? Couldn't they just go to the store like any normal – okay, never mind.

"What do you hunt?" She probably shouldn't even ask.

Ulrick shrugged; a big movement on a large body. "Deer, mostly. But there is always the occasional rabbit or squirrel."

Not really thinking about it, Tegan made a face of disgust. "Ew, that's gross." Realizing what she had just said, she clamped a hand over her mouth as if to stave off any other words from escaping. "I'm sorry. I…I didn't mean it like that, but I'm guessing you all don't cook it before you eat it."

Ulrick raise a brow at her. "No, we don't. As a wolf you tend not to be squeamish about such things."

Tegan shuttered. "I don't really think I can do this. I can't…it's just not for me."

"Come full moon, you might not have a choice in the matter. First change is always mandatory. You don't have control over it," Ulrick proclaimed, beginning to pace to his pack then back to her.

Tegan tilted her head back to stare at the high ceiling. Taking another deep breath, she let it out gradually. "When is the next full moon?" she asked, hoping it wasn't anytime soon.

Ulrick stopped his pacing in front of her. "We are in the beginning of the waxing moon right now. It gives you about thirteen days to prepare yourself."

"I think I need some air. Storm, do you think you could take me outside for a breather? I just…I need some time to gather my head," Tegan uttered weakly.

"Alright," Storm said, holding his hand out to her. She took hold and he hoisted her off the couch. They walked through the crowd of people into a vestibule. He led her past a series of doors and a flight of stairs. Wrenching open one of the doors revealed the cool night and the front porch lit in a soft glow from lights on either side of the doorframe. There were various cars parked in a circular drive. What she could make out of the landscape was manicured and most likely beautiful in the daylight. She didn't care if she ever saw it though. She only wanted off this godforsaken island.

Tegan inhaled deeply, smelling woods and clean air – a vast contrast from the exhaust and pavement scent of the city. Though it didn't completely clear her mind – not even close to it – she didn't feel like she was about to keel over again. A gentle, but chilly breeze blew across the porch and Tegan broke contact with Storm to wrap her arms around herself.

"Are you okay?" Storm asked beside her.

She nodded her head slowly. "This is just all way too much information to take in at once. It feels like I'm dreaming and can't wake up. I don't even know what to think or say. I'm having trouble processing all of this," Tegan murmured, staring out into the dark night. She looked up at the sky. There was too much cloud cover to see the moon.

Storm settled his hand on her shoulder. Lifting her head, she looked up into his grey irises. Concern for her was swirling in those dark orbs. "You must be in shock. Why don't you sit down out here for a little bit. It's cold and damp so I'll go back inside and see if someone will lend you a coat or something warmer to wear."

"Do you think that maybe you could take me home instead?" she asked, wanting to get as far away from this place as possible. "I-I just want to lie down for a little bit. I'm completely drained from all of this."

"Ulrick is going to want you to stay here in his home. That house is not fit to reside within. It has no heat, no running water, and no electricity. Also, there are a few things that he still must speak with you about," Storm said.

"But I don't want to stay here." She sounded like a whiney child, but she didn't care at this point. She was deliriously tired, her head felt like someone had taken an ice pick to it, and this was the last place on earth that she wanted to be at the moment.

"Please, Tegan," Storm begged. "What he has to tell you is very important. Once we finally get everything resolved, I promise you can rest. I can discern your weariness through our bond. I will urge him to be quick so you can finally settle for the night."

Tegan buried her face in her hands. "I don't know how much more of all this I can take. I'm on overload right now. If I have anymore put on my plate I think I will lose what is left of my mind. Hell, I think it has already checked out." She slipped her fingers through her hair and cradled the back of her head. Her eyes sought out her familiar's. "I mean werewolves. Come on. There can't be such a thing! And I'm a witch?" She began to laugh loudly; it was maniacal and bitter, like some cheesy super-villain had taken over her body. "I'm bat shit crazy is what I am." Her laugher immediately broke down into sobs. And not quick little tremors of the body; it was the hard, soul shattering kind. The kind you get when you find out your nearest and dearest were dead, or if you find out you had a terminal illness.

Storm grabbed her and pulled her to his body, holding her in a tight embrace. "Hey," he soothed, rubbing her back with slow circles. He started saying something else. She could tell by the vibrations from his chest, but she couldn't make out the words he was saying over her wailing. She just couldn't seem to get a hold of her emotions. All she could do was sit there and shake, rattle, and leak. She cried until her nose ran and throat ached. She was sure she made a mess out of Storm's tee shirt, but he didn't seem to mind as he held her to him and let her cry as long she needed to. Tegan didn't know how long they were like that, but by the time she had finished her boohooing she was utterly depleted of any strength. Sagging against Storm was the only thing she could manage at this point.

He must have gotten tired of her limp rag routine because he picked her up and carried her back into the house. On the other side of the door was Ulrick with the rest of the wolf pack right behind him.

"Is she okay?" she heard him ask her familiar.

He shook his head. "Ulrick, she needs to retire for the night. You can't press her for anything else." The alpha must have been about to protest because Storm's tone got firmer, all end-of-discussion-and-that's-final. "She just had a breakdown. I'm not going to let you put her through any further anguish. Now, I need a room for her to rest in. You can finish your discussion tomorrow if she is faring better than she is now."

Ulrick inclined his head, yielding any further argument. "Lyn will take you to one of the available rooms." It was the woman from before; the one that had been tucked close to his side. The dark-haired woman stepped forward with the mention of her name. Her lovely green eyes held worry and anxiety as they swept over Storm and the bundle in his arms.

"Of course. Please, follow me," Lyn said, motioning with her hand to follow.

Tegan snuggled closer into Storm's body, taking comfort in all the heat he was throwing off, and not just the thermal variety. Anger was burning strong through his body, anger and the impulse to protect her. She felt safe with him, especially after the way he stood up for her.

The room they were taken to had walls in olive and furniture finished in cherry with cream colored cushions. It was huge, almost the size of one floor of her old cottage. There was even a fireplace with a fire crackling away. A pile of wood lay in a bundle beside it, ready to join its blazing brethren.

Storm set her down on a soft comforter. The bed itself was luxurious and her body sank into the mattress. She curled up in a tight ball and rested her head on the pillow. Even if Armageddon was going on outside the window, Tegan didn't think that she could muster the strength to move or even care.

She could hear the muted voices of Lyn and Storm, the hushed tones dragging her further down into exhaustion. Closing her eyes, Tegan didn't so much fall asleep as pass out again.

When she woke up, the sun was burning bright and lounged across the bay window seating was Storm. The golden rays bathed his body in its morning glow. He wasn't wearing a shirt – probably because she had made a mess of it with her hysterics. His legs were crossed at the ankles and his feet were bare. Though his dark wavy hair was all mussed, the feathers tangled in the locks were still perfect.

He must have sensed her rouse because his gaze shifted over to her. He smiled a little and got up from the bench to come to her. Tegan sat up in the bed and yawned. She noticed that the duvet had been pulled around her while she was asleep.

"Are you feeling better?" Storm asked, coming to a stop at the foot of the bed.

"Yeah. I don't feel so mental right now. I'm really sorry about losing it like I did last night," Tegan said.

Storm sat down on the edge of the bed. "Do not worry about that. It was a lot of information that you had to absorb all at once. And I know you do not want to, but there is more that you must discuss with Ulrick."

Tegan rolled her eyes and flopped back down onto the mattress. She stared at the high ceiling painted in the same green as the walls. "This is never-ending, isn't it? It's just one big reveal after another. It's starting to wear thin, I tell you. Next I'll find out that my uncle is a vampire and my aunt is the tooth fairy."

Storm exhaled and did a little eye rolling of his own. "Don't be ridiculous. The tooth fairy is a myth that humans made up to deceive their children. Besides, you don't have an aunt or an uncle. Your sires had no siblings."

Tegan felt like screaming at the top of her lungs. "I'm being ridiculous bringing up the tooth fairy, but you know, people turning into something out of the Howling on the full moon, that's just everyday stuff, huh? And don't you dare tell me that vampires are real, too."

"Well…" Storm began.

"No!" Tegan shouted to stop whatever flow of words that was about to spill out of his mouth. "Shut your trap. I said don't tell me. I don't need, nor do I want to know. Ignorance isn't just bliss; it is u-fucking-topia."

"Ignorance can also get you killed, Tegan," Storm admonished.

"I don't wanna deal right now, okay?" she whined, crawling back under the covers to block out the reality of the situation. But someone else in the room had other ideas. The covers were snatched away from her body. She groaned angrily and glared at the man holding the blanket that she was just hiding under.

"You are going to have to deal with this sooner or later, whether you like it or not. Now, come on." Storm dropped the covers then grabbed her arm and pulled her up into a sitting position. "I'll be with you the whole time. You have nothing to fret about."

"Yeah, except for a pack of werewolves. And speaking of werewolves, what the hell is that one guy's problem? Soren I think his name is. Why does he have so much hostility toward me, and you for that matter?" she questioned, throwing her legs over the side of the bed.

Storm shook his head. "Don't pay any attention to that fool. He is always belligerent and speaks out of turn no matter the individual he is addressing. He acts more like his animal counterpart without any sense of civility. He is nothing but a primitive dog."

Tegan grinned. "Won't you get in trouble talking about junior wolf-boy like that?"

"I have sworn no loyalty to them. And I have absolutely no respect for Soren after the way he has treated you," Storm said.

"How long have you known the pack?" Tegan raised her arms in the air, her muscles stretching and her joints cracking with the movement.

"I met them the day you were brought into this world," he told her plainly.

She raised her brow in question. "What about family? Don't you have any?"

"You are the only family I behold. My birth does not come about from procreation. With the first breath of air you took, I came into being," Storm said.

Tegan pushed an unruly lock of hair out of her face. It probably looked like hell – not that there was anything she could do about it anyway. "How?"

"I was formed from a bit of your soul and wild magick," he told her.

"What is wild magick though? You all kept bringing up." She could wait to ask Ulrick, but she didn't trust him. She knew that Storm would give the answers to anything that she asked.

"Magick is the basic essence that naturally flows within select creatures when they enter this world. Some beings have more than others. It is a factor in determining how strong the conjurer will be when they come to maturity. But wild magick it exactly that; magick that exists in nature with no true sovereign. If it does have a master, it is always of its own choosing, one that is strong of will and can wield it with inherit ease. In this case, it has chosen you. It is also what sustains the supernatural. You can manipulate it and use it all will, but you can never actually make it your own," he explained.

"So I need the wild magick if I am to cast spells and stuff?" Tegan asked, still a little confused.

"Only if you are casting on a grand scale, but I don't think it is a wise idea to go about carelessly using it. With such magick, light or dark, there must be organic sacrifice. It can range from something as insignificant as plant matter to the very significant. Like human sacrifice. But offerings that serious are only used in the darker crafts, and only for mass destruction. All of this, I will explain with more detail when you start to learn how to use your power," Storm said.

Tegan thought back to their previous conversation and pondered over it for a moment. "You said that some witches have more than one familiar. Could I have another roaming around out there looking for me?"

Storm frowned then shook his head. "No, I am the only one."

"How do you know?" she asked, cocking her head to the side.

He shook his head. "I do not feel the presence of any other in you."

"About last night, Soren mentioned something about me being a healer. What is that?" The only thing she could think of was some sort of tribal holy man. If that were the case, she would pass. She wasn't going to become some werewolf witch doctor to the supernatural.

"Ulrick will explain all of that. Speaking of which, we must go to him now. He is waiting to talk to you," Storm urged, getting off the bed.

"Finding out I'm a witch is so much easier than finding out that I'm going to sprout fur and fangs at the next moon phase." Tegan's brows furrowed in thought for a moment. "How come I haven't changed before I came to the island?"

"You did not have the influence of your pack around you. That is what causes the change to begin. After the first change, whether you are within your pack or not, you can change at every full moon," Storm said.

"I don't want to transform into anything, Storm. I need to get off this island before the moon is full. I-I don't want to be a werewolf. I don't want any part of it," Tegan moaned.

"Please, just hear Ulrick out first," he said. "Then you can make the decision to stay or leave. What he has to say is very important and I think you will have a change of heart when he is through."

Tegan became resigned. "Okay, let's just get this over with. I doubt anything he has to say will alter my mind in any way."

Storm pulled her up off the mattress and led the way out of the room and to the werewolf leader.