We stood there for a long while, watching the moon rise, speaking occasionally. Jax didn't kiss me again, but he kept closer than before. After a long while, I remembered he hadn't told me why he'd brought me here in the first place.
"I presume you didn't just want to get me alone to..." I paused. "Well, why did you bring me here?"
Jax didn't turn, he was still watching the river. I thought he hadn't heard me, or was selectively ignoring me, and I was about to say something else when he said, "I felt I owed you. You shared with me what was perhaps the most important and scary thing to you. I should do the same."
"But first, I want you to be... calm about it."
"O-kay? I'll try to be." I said it with a hint of humour, why would I have to be calm?
He took a breath, and turned to face me. "I don't know how to say it. It's not something you blurt out, but I'll show you instead." He closed his eyes and tilted his head down. There was a few moments of silence.
"Jax, what are you-" I stopped. The shadows around us were beginning to move. Literally move, and it sounded like whispers, so faint I could barely hear them, were travelling with the wind. Jax opened his eyes and looked up, and they were dark, almost black, and his face looked harder and threatening. The shadows around him began to lean in, as if they were trying to get to him, and the darkness parted and swirled.
The reality of what he'd been saying, and doing, linked together. Despite the fact I said I'd remain calm, all my nervousness condensed into fear, and I stumbled backwards. Jax is the Shadow Shifter.
The words of the previous weeks rang in my head 'There's been Shadow Shifter attacks... They are very powerful." I remembered what Jax had told me 'I don't have an Okan' I should have seen it. James had been killed by a Shadow Shifter. The Shadow Shifter who stood in front of me now.
"Aria, listen to me." Jax said, reaching out towards me. I fell backwards, and internally I felt the ripping sensation that meant I was going to shift. But when it happened I embraced it, and looking up again through wolf eyes, the fear I felt had not changed. Jax was saying something, but I couldn't hear him. My animalistic instincts told me I should be afraid, that this was a predator, a killer.
I turned away, digging my claws into the dirt, and raced into the forest.