The new girl stiffened, like she had seen a ghost, and quickly darted behind me.
“He is not human,” the girl whispered in my ear.
“How are you feeling?” Rosa spoke softly, as if to a child.
“Who is he Rosa?” I asked, feeling defensive for both Rosa and the new girl. This stranger, though he seemed young, gave an air of superior knowledge that could only be accumulated with the years, years maybe he didn’t posses. My mind started wandering to one of my past encounters with supernatural beings. Only in rare occasions had I ever shifted into someone who was not human, mostly because the effects of the shifting to a supernatural being left me tired and with an acute headache. Right now, with the presence of this man, the hair at the nape of my neck bristled. I could feel something sharp in my jaw and my skin gradually turning paler than usual. Then I tasted blood.
“Jayden, stop!” Rosa said, shaking me.
My shifting stopped. Only once had I met a vampire and Rosa and her pack had saved me that day. I was new to the area of Birchwood, in search of adventures and more identities to collect. The lone vampire was roaming around the area, unaware that it was Vulpelage territory. He had smelled me from afar and I had seen him charged right at me like he was possessed. Normally, vampires were quick, but this one was apparently starved and his moves were sloppy and slow, in vampire terms. I ran and shouted for help. Rosa came just in time as he had me pinned down on the ground, ready to insert his fangs into my neck. It took her three seconds to kill him by stabbing him in the heart with a stake. It was early morning and the sunlight tendrils burned his skin to ashes. Reynard didn’t like it that Rosa had killed a vampire, even though he was technically not supposed to be in their territory, since it might jeopardize the pack. Honestly, I took it that he was jealous since she had broken away from a hunt earlier that morning to save me.
“You’re a vampire.” I said coolly, leveling my gaze with his. I could see smears of blood from the corners of his mouth. I also noticed that Rosa was empty-handed, which usually never happened. “Did you like Rosa’s catch?”
“Jayden stop it please. Seriously, sometimes you can be so irritating. This is Rayne, I met him in the woods. Rayne, this is my friend Jayden, a shapeshifter and she is… uhm…” Rosa didn’t know how to address the poor girl who was still hiding behind me.
“A shapeshifter, interesting, I thought Lycanthropes had wiped your race.” Rayne commented.
I balled my hands into a fist.
“Wait. How did you know this girl was the girl from the crash? What crash are you talking about?” Rosa asked. She had walked to stand next to the girl.
“The one by the bridge,” answered Rayne.
“So you wiped the interior clean?” I asked.
Rayne’s facial expression turned darker. I guess he had seen the revulsion I had on my face when I pictured Rayne running his tongue through the car’s dashboard.
“Please stop fighting.” The timid voice of the girl spoke up for the first time, and she was not hiding behind me anymore. “All this raucous noise is making me dizzy with fright.”
“Guys please,” Rosa pleaded. She walked the girl back to the living room.
I locked gazes with Rayne and waged my options. 1) I could shift into a vampire and beat the crap out of him, or shift into Reynard, either one would work. 2) I could wait a bit longer and see what he was up to. Besides, if Rosa had invited him to her house then she must have trusted him, or she was delusional.
“After you,” I said, stepping aside to allow him through the hallway.
Rayne shrugged and walked down the hallway. We were all in the living room, Rosa and the girl sitting on the couch, Rayne standing next to the window, and myself next to the hearth.
“What can you remember?” Rosa asked.
“I don’t know, everything I know I told Jayden already,” she answered.
It surprised me that we all had taken confidence in this girl even though we knew nothing about her. She knew what we were and yet she didn’t feel threatening.
“Her blood takes different,” Rayne said. We all turned to looked at him and he was regarding the girl with a lust for blood in his face. “The blood was stronger, definitely not human, and maybe I tasted magic.”
“Yeah, I smelled magic before I found you in the car,” Rosa explained.
“Rosa, Rayne needs a drink,” I pointed out.
“Oh, right,” Rosa stood and went to the refrigerator and took a blood pouch out. She tossed it to Rayne, who turned his back to us so we won’t see him drink blood like the estrange vampire from his pack that he was.
“I could shift into her and access all of her memories, wouldn’t that be easier?” I suggested.
But the girl seemed genuinely scared of my ability.
“I need my bags, from the car, they have important information. Maybe about whom I am and where I came from. Please, I have to get them back.”
“Impossible, they were taken to the police station.” I replied.
“Break in tomorrow and retrieve her bags,” Rayne said.
“Please, you make it sound vulgar.” I retorted. “It’s an art, not just breaking in.”
“Whatever, if stealing someone else’s identity and memories makes it more of an art than theft then good for you.”
Rosa rolled her eyes.
Elias Park was no longer a safe subject anymore; instead I was Tobias Moore, his partner for the day shift.
“Morning Elias!” a loud voice unlike my own erupted through the office. “How was your night?” I was genuinely curious since Elias had no idea what had happened last night when I took the form of his body.
“Funny you should ask that!” Elias seemed nervous and frustrated. “The captain keeps telling me that I was out there at a crash site last night, but I don’t remember. I remember going to bed after 9:00 pm sharp.”
“Maybe you don’t remember because of the excitement. You know how nothing ever happens in Birchwood.”
“I doubt it, but the chief is pretty pissed at me and wants me filing paperwork for the case the whole day.”
“Sorry to hear that man. The chief sent me, told me to check on you…”
“You must be kidding me!” Elias sounded furious. “Fine then.”
“Nothing personal Elias, he’s just worried about you.” I lied perfectly these days. I walked through the filing cabinets, pretending to be examining the paperwork and the evidence collected just waiting to be filed. I noticed a large Ziploc bag with a pink string bag. I could not take the big one but surely nobody would miss the small one.
With deft hands, I took the Ziploc bag from the pile and shoved it up my shirt. “Everything seems to be in order E. Don’t work too hard; I’ll put in good word for you right now.”
Elias mumbled thanks that I barely heard. I was out in the woods already, shedding Tobias Moore, when I found Rayne waiting at the agreed upon spot under the most heavily shadowed tree.
“Well, at least you still get to keep the clothes you were wearing.” Rayne grinned. The figure of office Tobias Moore was far from fit, his uniform clinging to my lanky frame.
“Oh gosh, you saw Rosa naked when she shifted back into her human form!” I gasped. “Anyway, let’s see who our mystery girl is.”
We both ran back to Rosa’s house.