I wake up once in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, the horrifying feeling of not knowing where I am washing over me. Sadly, I recognize where I am after a moment. I remember what the roof of an ambulance looks like.
I’m dimly aware of people talking and rushing around near me, but I’m not sure what they’re doing or saying. Agony surges over me once again and I’m relieved when my vision starts fading. Although a part of me is also afraid I won’t wake up again.
Beep . . . . Beep.
The heart monitor keeping track of my heart rate is the first thing I hear when I start waking up. My eyelids feel heavy, but I force them open anyway. I see white ceiling tiles. A hospital room?
“Julia?” I hear Logan say. I slowly drag my head to the right and find her sitting next to my bed. The hospital bed, that is.
“Oh, thank god,” she says. Her eyes are red-rimmed, as if she’s been crying. “I didn’t know if–if–” She pauses, gathering her thoughts. “Anyway, I’m just glad you’re awake. How do you feel?”
I feel something on my face, and I can see the top of it when I glance down. Once I lift my right hand up to touch it, I realize it’s an oxygen mask. I slowly pull it down, and after finding that I can still breath without it I leave it down.
“Weak,” I croak. My throat burns and a sharp pain shoot through my chest just from that one word, then the pain fades back to a dull ache. “We–we were in a car wreck, right? How are you not hurt?”
I take a look at my body, seeing that my left arm is in a cast, and the right has an IV hooked up to it. My entire body aches, but it feels like nothing compared to the pain I was in before I got here.
“I heal. Very fast,” Logan says.
“Oh. Where’s Mom?”
Logan’s expression sends my heart rate skyrocketing for the split second before she talks, making me think something happened. “She–she hasn’t woken up yet. But the doctors think she’ll be okay.”
That makes me feel a little bit better, but it doesn’t keep me from worrying. “What happened to her?”
“She broke her collarbone, bruised her ribs, and had a collapsed lung. Plus, she beat her head up pretty bad. The doctors ran some tests and they say she has a concussion and might have a hard time remembering things for a while. But she doesn’t have any kind of brain damage, so that’s good news.”
I let that sink in for a minute, allowing myself to feel some comfort in the thought that she’s gonna be okay. Logan is okay. Mom will be okay. I’ll be okay. At least I think I'll be okay.
“How long have I been here?” I ask.
“Two days. Everyone has been by to see you. Elijah, Sarah, Parker. Also, I went and saw Diana in intensive care. She made it too. But barely. She lost a ton of blood, and she’s going to be in the hospital for a while.”
I nod. “That’s good. Where have you been staying during all this time?”
“Mostly here. I only left a couple times and then came back right after.” She glances down to the sheets covering me. “There’s something you need to know.”
“What?” She keeps her head down. “What is it?”
“Do you remember the wreck?” she asks.
When I force myself to try to remember it, I recall us swerving to avoid something, but that’s about it. “Not really. Why?”
“Well, um, when we wrecked there was–there was something in the road. It–it was a man. I think he may have been there for you. He might have even been the one Luke was talking to. Either way, I know he was a werewolf.”
Oh my god. I have a quick flash in my head where I’m in the truck, and someone’s hands are under my arms, pulling me out. A memory. That’s all I see, but my brain has already put together what Logan is about to tell me.
“Spit it out,” I say.
“Um, well, when the paramedics got there, you were found outside of the truck. And . . they said you should’ve been dead. But somehow you weren’t, and . . and there was a bite mark on your leg. It disappeared by the next morning, but they told me it was the size and shape of a human’s, but the teeth were different. Like an animal. I think . . . I think that man bit you, Julia. That’s the only explanation for this.”
I stare numbly at the wall for a moment, trying to let myself fully grasp what’s happened. I’m–I’m going to be a werewolf?
“Does this mean I’m going to walk again?” I ask, searching out her eyes.
“I’m pretty sure, yes.” Maybe I should be elated by this news, but it’s hard to be after seeing Logan in the woods, and hearing what happened to her. She almost tried to kill herself because of it. What will it do to me? Never in my life have I been given something without something else being expected in return. Everything has a cost. What’s the cost of my legs?
“Is he–” My voice sounds like I just got choked on a cigarette, so I have to stop and clear my throat. “Is he the one who bit you too?”
She looks at me and I can’t help but think that I see the fear I feel reflected in her eyes. “I don’t remember.”
“You don’t remember who bit you or you don’t remember what happened?”
“I don’t remember any of it. But someone had to bite me, right? It must’ve been him.”
“Yeah,” I say, though I’m unsure. I guess it could’ve been him, but it also could’ve been someone else.
“So . . um, if my injuries are going to start healing, what on earth am I going to tell the doctor?” I ask, changing the subject.
“I–I have no idea. Speaking of that, do you know what your injuries are?”
“I just woke up, I have no idea. Although I’m pretty sure something happened to my lungs and nose. Plus, I have a cast on my arm so I think it’s safe to assume it’s broken.”
“Yeah,” she says, smiling a little. “You broke your nose and you had a collapsed lung like Mom did. You also somehow managed to dislocate your right shoulder and break your other arm. They had a tube down your throat for a long time to get the excess air out of your lungs. You also had a couple small pieces of glass in your leg, but you can't feel that, and it wasn't too deep. You’ll be fine.” She says the last part in such a nonchalant tone that I have to laugh at her, pain stabbing at my chest.
“Thank you. I feel fantastic.” She smiles for what seems like the first time in a long time. “Do you think you can get Elijah to come here? I’d like to see him.”
“All right,” she nods. “I’ll call him. He’ll probably be up here as fast as he can.” She gets up and starts making her way to the door.
“Logan?” She stops, turning to look at me. Suddenly, I feel kind of anxious and start fiddling with my hands. “Have you–have you told him about me?”
She shakes her head. “No. But I did tell him about me.”
“How did he react?”
“He was cool with it. I mean, he was shocked and a little weirded out, especially considering he didn’t really believe in werewolves until I showed him, but he said he’d help in any way he could.” She studies me, then adds, “Don’t worry about how he’ll be if you tell him, Jules. Anybody with eyes can see how much he loves you. Nothing you do or say will change that. Just tell him.” She walks out, shutting the door before I can say anything else.
I desperately want to get up and see Mom, but I know that that’s not possible right now. Actually, there’s a lot of things I want to do right now, but I’m confined to a bed with nothing but my own thoughts for me to worry about. Like, who is that man who seems so obsessed with me? What does he want from me and why did he bite me? What’s going to happen to me now?
I’m not sure what to think about the whole werewolf thing. It just seems so unreal. I mean, this can’t really be happening, can it? But it is. I’m not sure if I want it to be or not.
I continue thinking about and questioning everything that has happened, and what else might happen, until I notice something. The smallest of details, but an enormous deal for me. A small, tingling sensation in my feet. Barely noticeable, but my legs are normally numb all the time. Now there’s tingling in my toes. My spine is healing and . . . this is actually happening. I’m not sure if I should celebrate or cry.
Either way, just being up this long has drained my energy and I can tell I need to sleep more. I want to stay up, but my eyes start drooping so I pull the oxygen mask back up and within seconds I’m asleep again.
When I wake up for the second time, the first thing I notice is the tingling in my feet is starting to grow farther up, making it to my ankles. I begin to lean up to examine them, but I realize that I’m not alone. Elijah is here, sitting next to me and holding my hand.
“Juliana?” he asks as I pull my hand away so I can push myself to a sitting position. "How do you feel? Are you in pain?”
“No, no, I’m fine,” I say after pulling the oxygen mask down. I look at him, his bright, different-colored eyes staring back. He looks so worried already, how am I going to tell him what happened to me? How do I tell him what I am now?
“How long have you been here?” I ask.
“I came as soon as Logan told me you were awake. So a few hours.” I notice he has a book next to him on the ground, with a small, ripped piece of paper being used as a bookmark. At least I know he had something to do.
“Sorry,” I say. “I didn’t plan on falling back asleep.”
“No need to apologize for it,” he says, shaking his head. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”
I link my hand in his again, giving it a squeeze. “Thanks.” I pause, trying to figure out how to tell him about me as fast as I can. Just spit it out.
“I need to tell you something,” I say quickly, before I change my mind.
He looks at me expectantly. “Okay?”
“Yeah, um . . so you know all the stuff I told you about werewolves? That man that tried to grab me in the alley and all that research I did after?”
“Yeah?” he asks slowly.
My heart is thudding quickly in my chest, and I know that I need to get it out while I still can. This is just so nerve-wracking. What’s he going to say?
“Well . . I, um, I think he may have been after me. I think that . . that maybe he was using Luke so he could get to me. So he could bite me.”
“I’m not done,” I interrupt. “The reason I believe that is because of what happened when we wrecked. My mom didn’t just swerve off the road for no reason; there was a person standing there. It was a man.”
“What?” I can tell I’ve got his attention now.
“We rolled down the hill and just before I passed out, I remember seeing a man–the same one from the road–walking toward me. He pulled me out of the truck.” Elijah’s face looks shocked. And slightly disgusted. “I don’t remember anything after that, but when I woke up earlier, Logan told me I had a bite mark on my leg. It’s healed now, but she said that it was consistent with a human’s, except with different teeth. I think that . . that he bit me.” I clear my throat and try to say it firmer, with more confidence. “I think that he was a werewolf and he bit me, for whatever reason.”
Elijah’s grip on my hand loosened while I was speaking, but after a second he tightens it again. “Julia, I–I do believe everything you told me, but are sure he was a werewolf? Maybe he’s just . . just delusional or something. I mean, it sure seems like he went through a lot of trouble just to bite you. Why would he do that?”
I swallow down the ball in my throat and continue on. “Well, I know that he had to be something. If it wasn’t for me being bitten at the wreck, I would have died. I’m healing. All of me. And that includes my legs. So, unless I have a magical angel following me around, he has to be something.”
Elijah’s eyes look like they’re about to pop out of his head, and I think I must’ve struck him speechless because he can’t seem to get anything out.
“Look,” I say. I point with my left arm, which is still in a white cast, toward my feet. I feel enough tingling in my toes for me to be able to wiggle them underneath the white sheets. Elijah’s mouth opens and closes a few times like a fish, but before he can get anything out, the door opens and a nurse walks in.
She asks him to wait outside until she’s done. He, still out of it, kisses me on the cheek and leaves, fumbling around a bit while standing up.
Well, at least I got it out.
The nurse, a woman who looks to be about forty with startling icy blue eyes, starts asking me a series of questions, then goes on to check my vitals.
“Okay, I’m supposed to check your nose while I’m here,” she says in a modulated voice. “I’m gonna have to pull off the bandage and it might hurt a little. All right?” I nod and her hands move forward, then come away from my face with a white bandage. I watch as her face contorts in confusion. “What the hell?”
“What is it?” I ask, already having a good idea of what “it” is. I can hear my heart rate go up slightly on the monitor.
“Your–your nose. It’s perfectly fine. There’s nothing wrong with it.” She looks up from my nose to my eyes, and I can see her bafflement in them. “If I didn’t know better, I would’ve said someone made a mistake, but I was just in here yesterday and it was definitely broken. Now there’s not so much as a bruise.”
“That’s good, right?”
“Well, yeah, but it’s impossible. It’s–it’s like you’re healing on your own. I mean, technically everyone heals on their own but never this fast. You get what I mean. First, your leg had that bite that healed overnight, and now this. Which is impossible, right? People don’t just heal like that.”
“Yeah,” I agree, deciding that if she’s going to be freaked out already, I might as well tell her the rest while she’s here. “And there’s something else you might need to know.”
“My legs–they . . I can feel them.”
She stares at me blankly for a moment before grabbing her clipboard off the bed and rushing out of the room. “I’ll be back,” she says as she leaves. Great.
She comes back in a few minutes later with another male nurse and a doctor. She shows the doctor my nose and then tells him what I said about my legs. He asks me if I can move them any. I wiggle my toes.
They don’t freak out exactly at first, just kind of look up at each other with wide eyes. Then they freak out.
“This is amazing! We’re gonna have to run some tests and stuff, but what if we could take whatever is happening to her and apply it to other people?” the doctor says, rubbing his black hair and pacing around a bit excitedly. I don’t have the heart to tell them that I’m not going to take the tests, so I just let them talk to each other and leave after they get done venting about it, excited and worried at the same time.
Taking tests is the last thing I need, because I know what they’re going to find. I’ll be healed. My arm and chest aren’t in pain anymore, so I think they’ve healed as well. Or they will be soon. I can’t have them taking all those tests on me, for more reasons than one.
First of all: we don’t have the money for it. Second: who knows what will happen after finding out about my healing abilities. They’d take that and run with it, try to figure out why I heal, which would lead me to discovering what I am. Then what would they do? Kill me? Experiment on me? So, no, they won’t be doing tests. There are too many risks.
I can't really prevent them from finding out I healed, but that’ll be it.
The door closes behind them when they leave, only to open again a moment later with Logan, Milton, and Elijah coming through.
“That took a long time,” Logan says.
“Yeah, they got a little excited,” I say. Milton sits down on the edge of the bed next to me, though he’s careful not to touch me. Then he gets a good look at my face, and leans close to me, squinting. He’s gawking at me awful hard, for some reason.
“My god, Milton could you stare any harder?” I ask.
He leans away from me. “You look different.”
“I am aware, thank you. I was in a car wreck and I’m a little beat up right now.”
“No, not that,” he says. “Your eyes. They’re different.”
I furrow my brow and glance at Elijah. He shrugs. “What do you mean?” I ask, glancing back down at Milton.
“Haven’t you noticed? They’re green. They were blue before.”
I look at Elijah and then to Logan. “Are my eyes green?” They both shake their heads and I go back to Milton. “Are you sure my eyes are green?” He nods, so I decide to try something. “What color are her eyes?” I ask, pointing to Logan.
He swivels his head to look at her, then turns back to me. “Obviously green,” he says in a know-it-all sort of way.
Where does this sass of his come from?
Thinking he may have his colors mixed up, I ask if he can tell me which of Elijah’s eyes is blue and which is green. He gets it correct. So, why does he think Logan’s and I’s are green?
That’s weird,” Elijah says, and I have to agree, though I do have an idea as to why that may be. Logan’s eyes were green when she shifted, right? So, I’m assuming that’ll be the same color mine are. If it is, that could be what he’s seeing. Maybe he can just see things like this? And if he can, then surely others can, too?
“Yeah,” I say. Elijah looks at me and, without meaning to, my eyes dart away. I don’t know what he thinks of me right now. Is he okay with me? Angry? Disgusted? I don’t know.
“Can you give us a minute alone?” Elijah asks, speaking to Logan and Milton. Logan glances at me and nods.
“Sure.” She ushers Milton out with her and we’re left with silence.
Elijah sits down in the chair that’s still next to my bed. “Look at me, Juliana.” I do as he says and he takes my hand. “We’ll figure this out, okay? I know I kind of freaked out earlier, but I was just shocked. It was hard to imagine that . . that not only will you be a . . a werewolf, but you’ll also be able to walk again. This thing . . we’ll figure it out. Together. If it goes bad, maybe we can find a way to turn you back. We’ll figure out who that man was, too. I’m not going anywhere, okay?”
“Okay,” I say, nodding.
“All right,” he says, seeming relaxed now that he got that off his chest. “I love you.”
He stands up, leaning over me to kiss me. My right hand comes up for me to put around him, but it bumps into his stomach on the way up and he flinches. Big-time. His breath hitches like he’s in pain, and he stiffens a bit.
“What was that?” I say–demanding, not asking.
“It’s nothing–” I grab his shirt and lift it up before he can stop me. A black and purple bruise the size of a melon covers a good chunk of skin across the left side of his stomach. He quickly backs up and yanks his shirt down, but it’s too late; I already saw it.
“Where did you get that bruise?” I demand.
“It’s just from football, Juli–”
“Football ended last month, Elijah,” I say, worry filling inside me. “Where did that bruise come from?”
He sits back down, rubbing his face in his hands. “Please, can we not do this right now?” His voice sounds muffled from his hands.
“No, Elijah. I need to know what’s going on.”
He brings his eyes up to mine. “I’ll–I’ll tell you, just please . . not right now.” Oh no. He’s looking at me with those eyes: sad and distraught, and I find myself unable to refuse his request.
I sigh, closing my eyes. “Fine. Okay, we’ll talk about it later,” I say in a tight voice. I turn my head and look at him. “But we will talk about this later.”
He nods, his eyes still looking sad. “Okay, we’ll talk about it later,” he repeats.
I wake up in the middle of the night, still groggy from sleep, and turn my head to the right. I peer around the room at a moment’s glance, planning on going back to sleep, but see a figure standing by the door and my eyes widen.
What the fuck is that? No, who is that?
My head darts toward him on instinct. It’s a man. He looks . . well, kind of old. Or at least, older. Maybe early fifties. For sure not anyone I know.
I’m hooked up to the heart monitor so we can both hear how fast my heart is beating. My breathing is fast and shallow from the shock of seeing someone in my room during the middle of the night. Shit, he knows I’m awake, he knows I’m awake–
He turns toward me, and my brain immediately starts memorizing his face. Dark, thick eyebrows. A square jawline, and a slightly broad nose. Our eyes meet and I memorize those, too. They’re deeply-set, and very dark. Almost black.
I’m frozen in place, stuck staring at him. He slowly raises a hand, his finger pointing at me. No, not at me; at the bed. He drops his hand and I slowly bring my head to look where he was pointing, finding a piece of paper with scribble on it laying next to my waist. A note.
I look back at him, still unable to speak or move, and I see–see his eyes glow at mine. A bright, neon red. That’s impossible, that’s impossib– They fade back to black. His mouth slides into a smirk and then he turns and walks out, shutting the door behind him. I sit there blinking at it for a long time, wondering if I really saw that or if I was imagining it.
When I finally bring myself to look at the bed, I see that the note is still there; I wasn’t imagining it. With a trembling hand I pick it up and bring it to my face.
Julia, I didn’t plan on leaving you this, but I felt like I needed to. You need to know that I really, really didn’t want to cause that crash. But I’d been trying to bite you for the past month, and I could never get you alone. Even tried getting that one kid–Lucas, I think–to get you out there for me, but even that failed. You should know that I am the one that bit you; the one that turned you into a werewolf. I’m not going to explain everything now, I just wanted you to know that much. I’ll find you and your sister once you’re both out of the hospital and I can explain what is going on. Again: terribly sorry I had to do it this way. I hope Holland will be all right.