I land on my right side, then roll onto my hands and knees, coughing and gasping for breath. I didn’t faint. I didn’t faint. I can hear movement going on in front of me. I need to get up. Logan’s in trouble. My whole body stings from the impact against the wall, but nothing seems to be injured. I stumble to my feet, seeing that the wall made the cracking sound, not my body.
I stagger for a moment, dizzy and leaning against the wall. Though my vision spins, I manage to spot Marcus and Logan on the ground in the living room. He’s on top of her and choking her. I’m dimly aware that Tiffany is still in the kitchen, frozen in shock. I choose to ignore her because I need to help Logan. That’s the only thing on my mind, and I feel myself shifting over. Instead of restraining myself, I let go. Let myself fully become an animal, because that’s what I need to be right now. And all I want to do is kill the man hurting my sister.
I don’t even bother running, just jumping on him from nearly ten feet away. I knock him to the ground beside Logan and open my mouth, expecting a scream or a growl to come out. Instead, something else does. A deep, loud sound that resonates throughout the house, kind of like the sound of a lion. A roar.
Marcus reaches out and grabs my neck before I can get to him, but he doesn’t coke me or throw me. He just holds me still, staring into my eyes.
“Everybody stop,” he commands. Still staring at me, he says, “You’re going to stop fighting me and you’re going to shift back into human form.” Why is he speaking to me like that? I try to say no, but like before, I can’t. My mouth gapes open, but nothing comes out. Marcus lets me go and I try to attack him, but I can’t do that either. All I can do is sit here, watching.
Marcus gently scoots me off of him, then turns and grabs Logan again. Every muscle in my body strains to move and attack him, but I simply can’t do it. You have to move, Julia. C’mon, Julia, MOVE. My body starts to shake from the effort.
“You will not fight, you will not shift. You will listen to what I say and then I will leave, unharmed from either of you.” He stares into Logan’s eyes like he did mine. Then, he lets her go and backs away. She, like me, doesn’t attack him. Can’t attack him. We’re completely helpless. What Luke said was true: he can . . can control us with his voice somehow.
In a weird way, I’m grateful. I felt myself lose all control for a moment there, and I didn’t care. There’s not a doubt in my mind that I would’ve killed him if he didn’t stop me. I didn’t feel . . human. I can’t explain what exactly happened, but I don’t want it to happen again. Even so, I still need to be able to move. We’re still in danger and I don’t know what he plans to do.
“I’m sorry,” Marcus says, looking down at us. “I–I saw her and I let my anger get out of control. I didn’t mean to attack you. I just want to talk. You can get up.”
As soon as he says that, Logan and I both start getting up at the same time. This isn’t good. I can only hope that if something happens, Tiffany will think of something and attack him. As if right now, she’s still standing next to the bar in the kitchen, almost . . . untroubled by what’s going on. Like she expected it. You’re just being paranoid because of what happened last night, Jules.
“What do you mean you let your anger get out control?” I ask, confused and still a little angry.
“Sit down,” He says, gesturing to the couch next to him. I shake my head. There’s no way I’m sitting down when he’s here. He can–
“Sit. Down.” He pauses. “Now.” I’m about ready to start yelling at him, give him a piece of my mind, but my body moves on its own. No, I’m not going–Well, apparently I am. Great. My legs–which are still working, just not in my favor–lead me to the couch, as does Logan’s, and we plop down next to each other. Since I’m unable to control my body, I hit it hard.
Marcus, instead of sitting on the couch with us, thankfully pulls us a dark, wooden chair. It’s an extra that we keep behind the couch we’re sitting in, and he drags it in front of us, next to the coffee table. He sits down slowly, as if he has all the time in the world. My heart is racing in my chest once again, and I keep wishing I could move.
“I’m sure you’re probably wondering what’s going on,” he starts. I scoff on accident at the ridiculous comment. Obviously.
“And you’re probably wondering why I’m here, too. I’m here because I need to apologize to you.” He’s looking at Logan. “I was unaware of when you had shifted. Otherwise, I would have been there to help.” He looks back at me now. “I will be there to help you.”
Logan squints at him. I can hear her heart beating even faster than mine; she’s scared. She still manages to speak up though. “What–what about me?”
Marcus looks back at her. His eyes flash, anger washing over his face again. His jaw clenches and I’m afraid he’s going to do something, but then he seems to relax a little. Just a little. Why is he so angry?
He leans in closer to her, putting me even more on edge. He better not touch her. He needs to back up right now.
“I know about all the people you killed,” he says, his voice practically a whisper. They’re mere centimeters from each other, and I can see how uncomfortable Logan is. “And you’re not going to get away with it. If I could, I would kill you right now.” He spits the last part in rage and my entire body tenses. I don’t care if he can control me, I will break free from it if he touches her.
But he doesn’t. He leans back, smiling charismatically as his whole demeanor changes. He brings his foot up onto the opposite knee, resting comfortably against the chair. “But I’m a fair man. So you have until Sunday. That’ll give you time to come to peace with your inevitable death, and you have time to make things right with everyone in your life. You should feel blessed for that.”
At that, I shoot to my feet, Marcus doing the same. I get in his face, glaring up at him. Julia, sit down, I tell myself. You have to play this out better. Keep doing this and you’ll get everyone killed. Sadly, it’s too late for that now. My emotions are winning this battle.
“Blessed? Blessed? What drug are you on and where can I get it? She’s not dying, and if she was, she sure shouldn’t feel blessed about it! And you,” I yell, poking my finger at his chest, “are sure as hell not killing her!” It comes out almost as a snarl, my elongated teeth now poking at my lips.
Marcus is bigger and taller than me, so he glares down at me as I glare up at him, way too close to each other. “You will sit down–”
“No, I will not,” I interrupt. Of course, if he decides to use his power on me then I might now have much of a choice, but I’ll do everything I can not to. “And do not use your powers on me. Don’t be a coward.” Oh my god. Shut up, shut up, shut up, you idiot.
The tension hangs in the air like an actual weight weighing us down. Marcus stares down at me, anger sparking behind his eyes. I realize that my hands are clenched, causing my claws to dig into my palms. I force them to relax and unclench my hands, making the warm blood run down my hands and drop onto the carpet.
The pressure feels like it continues to get more strenuous as we hold eye contact, until it feels like it’s going to kill someone if the tension isn’t broken. In the end, Marcus is the one who finally does break it, though he doesn’t look away. His eyes crinkle as he smiles, laughing. It’s a deep laugh, but it doesn’t sound . . . evil, if that makes any sense. Something changes in his eyes and I find myself relaxing a bit more.
“You know, I kind of like you,” he says. “You’ve got guts.” I don’t crack even the slightest hint of a smile. “All right,” he adds when I don’t stop, “I won’t use my powers on you, as long as you don’t attack me. I don’t want a fight, Juliana. Let’s just sit back down and finish talking, okay?” He says it all super nice, like he didn’t just threaten to kill my sister. What the fuck?
I hesitate, then decide to go ahead and sit down. My only other option is to fight him, and I have my doubts about winning that fight. Especially considering he can control me.
“Fine,” I give in, sitting down, as does he. “But two things. Never call me Juliana again, and I want to ask the questions.” I turn to Tiffany, still standing in the kitchen watching from afar. “Tiffany, can you please come sit down?” I try to signal with my eyes that I desperately want her to be closer to us, just in case. I don’t know if she can tell what I mean though.
She looks from me to Marcus, who has his back turned to me, and her eyes stay there. I can’t see Marcus’s face so I don’t know what he’s doing, but as I watch Tiffany, it . . it almost seems like she’s waiting for permission. I glance back at Marcus just in time to see him give a nod, so small I can barely see it happen. As soon as it’s over I know I just imagined the whole thing. What is wrong with me? I’m supposed to be wary of Marcus, not Tiffany. She’s here to help. I need to stop imagining things right now and just trust her.
She stiffly walks over, slowly sitting on the opposite side of Logan. I blink hard to wake myself up, then turn back to Marcus.
“Why did you bite us?” I ask, speaking the first question that comes to mind.
“I didn’t,” he says. “Or at least, I didn’t bite Logan.” i wait for him to explain, but he offers no more information.
“So, who did? And why did you bite me?”
He peers at me with the perfect poker face, saying, “No one bit Logan. And the only reason I bit you was because you would’ve turned eventually, and I needed it to happen soon so I would know.”
What? “What are you saying?” I ask.
He puts his foot back on the ground and leans forward, his elbows on his knees. “I’m saying you should do some digging into your family.”
Everything seems to stop. “What?”
He leans back, obviously pleased with himself. “I’ve said enough. I don’t want to tell you everything at once or else you’ll have a stroke. And anyway, I just came here to tell Logan what I said, and apologize about the car wreck. I didn’t want to do it that way, but I was getting desperate. I’m glad Holland–I mean, your mother–is okay. Also, you should know that you’re a part of my pack now. I like to give all my new numbers a few tests, but I think I’ll only do one until after Sunday. So, be prepared for that, and I’ll start training you soon too. Actually,” he adds, looking at Tiffany, “it looks like you have a head start.”
Him mentioning Logan puts me on edge. “I’m not taking your stupid tests, and I’m not going to be in your pack either. And you’re certainly not going to kill Logan. I don’t want anything to do with you. It’s be best if you just dropped everything and left us alone. In fact, I don’t need to know whatever else you wanted to tell me. I just want you to leave.”
“I’m sorry, but that’s not an option,” he says, scooting forward. “You are in my pack now and I’ve made a promise to take care of you. You are my delta. Even if you refuse, I’m confident that you will give in eventually.”
I don’t know what a delta is, but I choose to ignore that part. “You made a promise to who?”
“I’ve said more than enough already. I can explain more in good time.”
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “I don’t need anything from you and I don’t understand why you want to kill Logan so badly. You’re keeping me, so why not her? I–”
“I want Logan dead because she killed people!” He yells, his finger pointing at her. His eyes glow red, a visible fire in the midst of his white face.
Every fiber of my being screams at me to stop, to back down and let him think he’s won. Except my mouth, that is. It does what it wants. “So have I.”
His arm drops and he stares at me, dumbfounded.
“And so have you,” I add. Quick as a bullet, he jumps on top of me again. His hands wrap around my throat, his claws sinking in. Pain explodes up to my head, and a shrill squeal escapes from my mouth. I scramble to get him off me, but he lifts me by the neck again. My legs curl into a ball from the pain, my hands latched onto his as he spins around, slamming me into the coffee table. It breaks underneath my back, and everything’s black as I struggle to open my eyes. This is it. This is how I die. By making a stupid comment.
“Don’t get me wrong, Julia,” Marcus snarls, right next to my ear. “I admire the fact that you stand up to me, not many have done that, but I will not tolerate this. You’re crossing a line. You are my delta, Julia. And Logan will die. The sooner you accept it, the better.”
My vision comes to light, blurrily, and from what I can see he’s fully shifted. He has some serious anger issues and I can’t keep dealing with him by making these comments. From my indistinctive vision, he looks like a distorted demon, and that freaks me out all the more. I twist in every direction trying to break free, trying to breath, but nothing works.
Just as fast as he was on me, he’s off. I back away, scrambling against the broken wood and glass beneath me. I feel someone’s arms underneath me, freak out for a split second, but then I realize it’s just Logan. And I also realize I’m crying and I quickly wipe away the tears.
“I’m okay,” I say, shaking Logan off and pulling myself to my feet. I almost fall over from my dizziness, but manage to stay vertical. My neck has healed from the time it takes me to get up, so all that’s left is the blood and a slight aching pain. My eyes rise up to Marcus’s and my fear and anger mingle to make a terrible match. I’m not sure which is going to come out when I open my mouth.
“It’s not crossing a line! She may have killed someone, but so have I! So if you’re going to kill anybody, it better be me!” My voice sounds hysterical. I am hysterical.
Marcus simply stares at me, breathing heavily. His teeth go back in and his eyes return to their natural color. “That’s–that’s different, and . . . we’ll talk about it later. I think it’s time I leave before something else happens. We’ll be meeting at Spruce Woods on Sunday at midnight, at the heart-rock. I’m sure you know where that is, but I will have someone escort you both there anyway. You can either go willingly or unwillingly. Your choice.” He studies me for a moment more. “We’ll talk more later. Remember what I said Julia: dive deeper into your family’s history.
He strolls over to the front door and walks out, leaving me confused, worried, scared, and angry all at once.