Chapter 3

"Have something silver in your possession."

-The Werewolf Handbook by Dr. Robert Curran

My hair pulled up in a ponytail, tennis shoes laced up, wearing basketball shorts and loose t-shirt, I locked the front door behind me and put my key in my pocket. I started off down my long driveway at a light jog, warming up. It was just after six in the morning, and the sun was rising. Fog clouded the view only a bit, limiting the light rays of sunshine from brightening the woods too much. The hair on my arms raised, chilled, but I knew they wouldn't be cold for much longer.

Getting to the main road, I took off at a comfortable run away from the town. I didn't want to hit the 'busy' section of Main, the few streets worth of shops a distraction.

Running was a hobby of mine. I tried to go on one at least once a week, even though I knew I really didn't need it. Sometimes I had to skip because I didn't have the energy to spend exercising. Although I didn't have dinner the night before, and hadn't have a good meal since I ate with Svelte's family, I tried to keep up sense of normalcy, especially during the harder times.

I ran in the gravel on the side of the road, facing the oncoming traffic. Birds chirped, and wind rustled browning leaves, and the pounding of my feet were the only sounds. Because I was headed out of town, no cars were coming in. The people who worked in the town lived in the town; it was a very close-knit community, outsiders (AKA my father and I) were not involved or invited. It was one of the reasons why I didn't have many friends at school; most of the kids had known each other since birth, their mothers knowing each other since their birth, and so on and so forth.

Svelte was that way, too. Her family had moved here to stay out of the 'dangerous' Montana city schools. They sat up their company half an hour away, in the city. The small office they rented was just their base of operations; they had agents all over the world who guarded the bodies of important political figures, pop sensations, movie stars, royalty, etc.

Although Svelte had started kindergarten here, she had never made close friends, the children already cliquey by then.

My watch beeped. I had been running for twenty minutes, and needed to turn back. I ran a few more steps, to the top of a hill, so I could see traffic from both ways. Content that no cars were coming, I crossed the road to run back to my house, making sure to face traffic.

I ran for ten more minutes before slowing down to a jog. I felt drained, and I still had school to go to. My stomach rumbled loudly, I sucked it in, heat rising to my face even though no one was there to hear. Svelte would definitely notice my stomach growling, and question about it. My friend already thought I was starving myself, I really didn't need any more attention to my lowering body weight.

Arriving at home five minutes later because I slowed, I knew my dad wouldn't be up yet so I hopped in the shower, taking my long dull brown hair out of the ponytail. It fell to my shoulders in a tangle of waves and frizz. Before I showered, I stepped on the old scale my dad owned from when he was in the military before I was born. The thing was old and yellowed, but it still weighed correctly. I'd lost ten pounds in the past two weeks. Looking at myself in the mirror, it showed. My cheeks had sunk in, and my ribs poked through just slightly. I winced.

I only took ten minutes to shower, shampooing my hair and washing the sweat away. I got out and wrapped up in a towel. I brushed my teeth and blow dried my hair, which caused it to frizz more. With a frown, I tied my locks back in a loose bun.

I exited the bathroom half an hour later, clean and ready to face the day. Well, I was clean at least. In my bedroom, I dressed in a pair of loose jeans, a t-shirt, and my ever-present brown hoodie. I snuggled in the soft fabric of my hoodie, the large clothing hanging to mid-thigh. My running tennis shoes went in my closet, and I pulled out a pair of thin black clothed shoes that I liked to wear during the day.

Dad was awake by the time I finished dressing. He was in the kitchen, holey plaid robe over a pair of boxers.

"Mornin'," he grumbled, drinking warm water instead of coffee - we'd run out the day before. Dad never worked well without coffee, so I knew he would be having a hard day.

"Good morning, Daddy," I brightly greeted. "Have you gotten the paper?"

He shook his head, plopping down in one wood seat at the kitchen table. I smiled, leaving the kitchen to go through the living room to the front door. The paper boy demanded to be paid extra because our driveway was so long, but after arguing with the Lunawood Daily, we didn't have to fork over the extra thirty dollars a week; it was delivered right to our door.

I picked the paper up, taking it to the kitchen. Dad still wasn't in a good mood, so I read through it, skipping most of it and heading straight for the wanted ads. A few caught my eye: a babysitter for after school care, a tutor, the local lawyer needed a part-time secretary. I circled them for myself, planning to apply for the jobs after school.

I made my lunch, two pieces of bread with the last of the butter and a Tupperware of canned fruit that I found in the back of the pantry. I knew that I needed to start eating more, but when you opened the cabinets and there was no food whatsoever, it made for slim pickings. Hunger getting the better of me, I went ahead and had a slice of dry toast for breakfast, hoping that my stomach wouldn't grumble at me today.

It probably would, because things rarely went the way I wanted them to.

"Jay, your mother called yesterday."

Standing at the counter putting my lunch in a paper bag, I tensed. My teeth clenched and my lips turned down harshly.


"She wants to see you on Friday."

I could feel my dad's green eyes staring at me.

"Tell her I said that's fine." I tersely snapped. "Did she say anything about Charlie and Cayden?"

"She said she'd bring them."

I grunted unattractively. My watch beeped again, and I turned around.

"Time for me to go. See you after school, Daddy. I love you."

He smiled at me. "I love you, too, Pumpkin. You know, you don't have to go if you don't want to. To see your mom, I mean."

I sighed. "I know."

I grabbed my bag from my room and took off towards the bus stop. I shifted at the end of the driveway for only a few seconds before my driver pulled up, bus screaming loudly. I boarded, sitting in my normal seat, and slunk down.

Svelte got on much later, after my failed attempt to sleep. She looked exhausted, dark circles under her eyes. I felt bad for her; she had just as much homework as I did and a job. Svelte sometimes didn't get to go to sleep until after one in the morning.

"Good morning, friend. How are you?" She plopped down in the seat.

"Tired, but not as tired as you look. Girl, why don't you tell your parents to cut back on your hours?"

Svelte tossed her glossy hair over her shoulder, running her thin fingers through the strands. She wore no makeup today, not even a smidgen of mascara, which usually was the bare minimum for her.

"I have to prove to them I can do this, work and school. In my family, there is little excuse for not getting high grades." Svelte's Russian accent, usually barely detectable, was more pronounced this morning, her voice raspy.

I pat her on the back, thankful that my dad was slightly more understanding.

"Don't push yourself too hard, okay? If you get sick or pass out from exhaustion, I won't have anyone else to sit with at lunch."

Svelte chuckled. "You, friend, need to take your own advice." Her brown eyes looked down to my stomach critically. "If my mama saw you like that, she would force feed you until you gained twenty pounds."

I wiggled in my seat. That sounded nice.

"But first she would have to catch me." I winked, unable to take it seriously like Svelte wanted.

She threw her hands up in the air, giving up. We sat in silence for a few minutes, before Svelte said, "Oh!"

I looked over at my friend, who was rummaging through her shoulder bag. She pulled out a paper bag from the boutique store in town, Petit Amour (1). The French store was owned by an old woman who lived on the second floor, and the only one in town that wasn't owned by the Hudson family. The shop was smack dab in the middle of Main Street, with the ever popular ice cream shop on one side and the lawyer's office on the other.

"My mama saw these at Petit Amour, and thought they were perfect for us." She said, pulling out two necklaces from the bag.

They were best friend necklaces, two silver four-leaf clovers. I gulped and reached for the outstretched necklace, hesitant to take it. Everything in the store was overpriced, and I worried about money.

"They are beautiful." I murmured, holding one in my palm to look at the small charm.

"Mama said that she thought they were perfect because it was lucky we met each other. We were both so alone, and needed one another." Svelte put her necklace on.

My heart squeezed, and, necklace clenched in hand, I turned to my friend and hugged her tightly. I could tell she was smiling, and I pulled back.

"Thank your mom for me. She's awesome." I told her. "Now, could you please help me put this on?"


I turned around in my seat, facing the window. I saw the school come into view just as Svelte clasped the chain around my neck.

"Mama will be very upset if you don't wear this." Svelte waggled her finger with a light smile, gathering her things.

"Of course I'll wear it. It means a lot to me." I sniffled.

Svelte pat my head and stood up, the bus beginning to unload. I followed her into the building, where we split after we passed the doors to go to our lockers.

I headed to mine, fingering the small charm against my collarbone. A few people stared at me, nose wrinkled, as I walked down the hall, making me self-conscious. After the third person openly looked at me with revulsion, I veered off into the bathroom to make sure I didn't have anything on my face.

Looking in the mirror, my eyes met my own hazel ones. They glided down my thin upturned nose, freckled cheeks, and small lips. A stray piece of hair separated from the rest was parted to the left rather than right. My hair, a bit frizzy, looked normal. I didn't see anything wrong.

I went back out into the hallway, still needing to go to my locker before the final bell rang. As I walked, I looked down at the floor. It was the other option besides meeting people's odd sneers and glares. I made it to my locker without hindrance, putting in my combination and pulling the metal door open.

It slammed shut.

I jumped, spinning to whoever smacked it. I was met with a broad chest, t-shirt straining over the muscles.

"Hey." Avery smirked, leaning up against the locker next to mine.

"Hi," I squeaked in response, looking at the people around me. Was this some joke?

I hesitantly reached for my locker dial again, eyes on Avery's gold irises. When he made no move to stop me, I put in the three numbers again.

"I realized yesterday that I didn't get your cell number." I opened my mouth to tell the pompous boy that I didn't have a cell phone, but he cut me off. "Because we're working on the project."

I frowned at him. "I don't have a cell phone." My book bag dropped to the floor, and I leaned over to pull out the books that I had to replace. "My home phone number is 555-0000."

Avery, iPhone at the ready, punched in the numbers. He placed the black-cased phone in his front pocket, crossing his arms to watch me. Remembering bullies from middle school, I just ignored his presence. I was learned quickly that if left unfed, fires would soon put themselves out.

"What else have you done for the project?" Avery finally asked. "I wanted to call and see if we could work on it yesterday after school, but…" he trailed off. "Are you doing anything this afternoon?"

I was tempted to tell him to let me check my schedule, but I knew nothing was planned for me tonight.

"No, I don't have anything planned for tonight." I bit my lip. "You really don't have to help me out with this project. I've already got most of it finished, and I don't mind putting your name down next to mine." I brushed my hair behind my ear.

Avery tensed, glaring at me. I shivered. Even with his angry face on, eyes boiling and arms bulging even more, it was hard for me to be scared. I didn't know how, but I knew that this guy would never harm me.

"That's plagiarism, and I am not a cheat." He spat, but his eyes weren't the heated gold of anger, just melancholy.

I shook my hand, looking up at him with wide eyes. "No, that's not what I meant."

Avery shook his head and leaned up against the locker again. The warning bell rang, giving us two minutes to get to class, but he didn't look overly worried.

"Look, I just think it's a bother to have to work together." I picked up my bag and shut my locker. "I purposefully didn't work with anyone."

Someone in the masses of kids rushing to their classes called out Avery's name. He glanced at them, waved them on, and then focused on me again.

"The thing is," Avery said thoughtfully, "I want to work with you. So, your place or mine?"

"I'll talk to you in history," I grumbled, fully aware that I didn't answer his question. He most certainly was not going to my house, and I was not going to his house.

"How about we talk at lunch?" Avery called as I started to walk away.

I just turned and gave him a shrug, not really caring at the moment. Today was not the day I would be getting my first tardy, and especially not for a guy who seemed to want to cause me trouble.

By lunch, I had completely forgotten about my morning conversation. Throughout the day, I kept getting hissed or glared or sneered at. People wouldn't leave me alone, and I couldn't figure out why. What was so wrong with my appearance that caused such reactions? With every new stare I got, I nervously touched my silver four-leaf clover necklace.

Svelte had gotten some similar reactions, though hers not so strong. We met before lunch, both looking haggard from the bad treatment we were getting. She told me of going up to the teacher to ask a question, and the teacher whipped on her with wide eyes and yelled at her to get away. I told her that a senior had pushed me in the halls telling at me to leave the school.

It was an odd day.

We started towards our normal seats. I touched my necklace again, eyes flitting over to see if Svelte was still wearing hers. I could see the chain disappear into the collar of her white blouse. Halfway to our table, a hand reached out and pulled me back. I made an exclamation of surprise, not expecting someone to touch me, much less pull my arm out of socket.

"You were about to walk right past me." Avery frowned, sitting at a nearly full table.

"Uh," I bit my lip.

Svelte, hearing my scared 'ah' when Avery grabbed me, turned around. Her normally pleasant face immediately sneered.

"She's not sitting with you, Hudson." Svelte bit out, her Russian accent heavy. "Let her go."

Avery's grip on my arm tightened so much so I let out a whimper and yanked. He immediately released my wrist, a guilty look on his face.

I scampered after Svelte, who turned around on her heel and stalked the rest of the way to our table. I watched her silently, as she pulled out her plain black lunch box and throw it down on the table.

"What was that about?" She asked me, her tone bothered.

"I told you that Mr. Thompson put us together for a project, right?" Svelte nodded so I continued. "He met me at my locker this morning wanted to eat lunch together to talk about the project." I said. It sounded harmless, and it was, but the way Svelte reacted made me think Avery had some ulterior motives.

"I don't like that boy." Svelte muttered darkly, unzipping her lunch box. "Not one bit." She cut her dark eyes to me.

I shrugged in response, pulling out my own lunch. I started munching on the lukewarm fruit, not looking at my friend. Avery had seemed nice enough to me, a bit flirty, but nothing that I couldn't handle. I thought.

"Why?" I asked her.

Svelte, swallowing a vicious bite of her carrot, glowering. "Do you ever get the feeling that something is off, Jay? Or a person is off?"

I nodded, knowing that I usually tried not to judge just based off of a feeling, but it was often best to go with my gut. It was normally right.

"I feel that way about Avery Hudson. There's just something not right." Svelte took a sip of her water. "He has been gone for two years, and then suddenly shows up right in the middle of the semester? Excluding some people, no one was surprised to see him."

I could see her point. It was a bit odd that everyone just accepted him back like he hadn't been gone, which I hadn't thought about before. But when your parents were friends, and your grandparents had known each other since birth, a close-knit community would be more accepting of someone returning.

"He just doesn't feel right to me." Svelte said with a sour look. "I wish I could explain it more."

I shook my head. "No, I understand." I sympathized. "I guess I don't feel the same way about him, though. He doesn't have an off-vibe to me." I paused. "Hey, could I borrow your phone?"

Svelte dug around in her purse and pulled out her iPhone and handed it to me curiously.

I dialed my home phone number, leaving my dad a message.

"Daddy, I'll be back late today. I'm going to the library with a friend to work on a history project. I shouldn't be too late, but I won't stay past eight." I spoke into the receiver to the machine. It beeped a second later and I hung up, handing Svelte her phone back with a thank you.

She snatched the expensive cell from my hands, and I flinched, looking at my friend with worry, only to see her eyebrows raised and nostrils flared. She was pissed.

"You're going out with him?" She hissed at me. "Even though I just said I don't have a good feeling about him?"

Oh. She was pissed at me.

I stared at her, bewildered. "Svelte, I can't just not do the project with him." I frowned.

Svelte stared at me harshly, and I flinched. Her lips curled, angry. "So we don't see eye-to-eye on this subject." She said coldly.

Svelte turned to face the window, not speaking to me for the rest of lunch. Upset, I didn't talk to her, either. I refused to back down from my opinion just because I didn't share the same views as my best friend.

By the time I reached the history class, I felt haggard. My feet dragged slightly, and my shoulders were hunched over. My plain brown locks hid my face from view, and I looked at my shoes as I dropped into my new seat.

Avery Hudson walked in slowly right before the bell rang. He plopped down in front of me, only giving me a look before looking to Mr. Thompson for instructions.

"Okay, class," Mr. Thompson started, shutting the door, "you'll be having another work day. These projects are due in four class periods, next Wednesday. Get to work."

Once again, the class came alive at the order. People moved to their friend's sides to gossip and work on their papers. Avery simply turned around, eyebrows raised.

"I didn't know you had a guard dog." He said stiffly.

I glared, deciding to be the civil one and not reply to his condescending tone.

"I think it would be best if we went to the library after school." I said, taking a breath.

The Lunawood Library was only a mile downhill from the school, which made it a quick place for me to go after school.

Avery rolled his eyes. "The computers still use dial-up." He argued in a bored tone. "Why don't we just go to my house?" He cajoled, smiling nicely at me.

I huffed and crossed my arms. "I can't go to your house."

Avery's thin lips turned down in a pout. "Why not?"

Because I'm not comfortable enough around you yet, weirdo.

"My dad doesn't want me to." I lied.

"Don't lie to me." Avery scolded.

I looked into his golden eyes with indignation. I may have been lying, but he had no right to call me out on it without any evidence. I narrowed my eyes at him, my chest puffed out.

"On what basis do you make that claim?"

Avery rolled his eyes. "Oh, my god." He muttered under his breath. "The basis that you were lying." He flatly drawled.

"Was not." I crossed my arms.

He threw his hands up in the air, frustrated.

"Going to use the library computers will take at least an hour more than just going to my house. It's not like I'm going to murder you in the woods." He said with annoyance.

"Well that lays my worries to rest," I mumbled, but a smile lifted my lips. "Fine, you win. We'll go to your house."

Avery smirked, happy that he won. I inwardly smirked, too, knowing that the only reason he won was because I let him.

"My plan is going perfectly," he winked at me. "I keep my axe in the trunk."

I rolled my eyes, not finding his joke as humorous as he did. Avery chuckled for a minute before quietening.

"Now," I pulled out a folder from my bag, and a packet of notes from the folder, "here is what I have done so far…"

(1): French for Small Love

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