Logan and I are with my dad, and we’re really young. Five, maybe? We’re in some man’s house. This room..it’s the living room, I know that, but...I’ve been here before. And the man...I recognize him but I can’t remember who he is. I can’t remember who he is though. I can’t remember anything.
My dad is introducing us to this man’s kids-two little girls. He says something about a third that’s not home right now. The youngest girl is very tall, with green eyes, blonde hair, and a slim nose. My dad says her name though I can’t recall what it is. I can’t remember what her name is either, but I’m sure I’ve met her more recently.
The older girl has dark hair, almost black, and the same nose that the other girl has. She looks slightly familiar, but not as much as the others.
The younger girl smiles at me, and then my dad not-so-subtly suggests that we go into another room and play. Logan, the other two girls, and I leave, the youngest girl talking to me about our dads.
The next time I wake up I’m in the living room of my own house, on the couch. Sitting up gives me a dizzying feeling and a headache, but I do it anyway. I let out a moan that comes out much louder than I meant. My body feels sore from the burning sensation I had earlier, but now it’s only a full ache and feels good compared to the other pain.
I hear footsteps and turn to see Logan coming into the living room from the hallway.
“What happened?” I croak as she comes toward me. My voice comes out weak and it hurts my throat. My throat feels itchy, like I need some water.
“You’re an idiot is what happened,” Logan says, kneeling in front of me. She feels my forehead with the back of her hand. “You took that stuff that Matt, or whatever his name is, gave you. Then you had a seizure and passed out. I came looking for after a while and that man carried you out to my car and I took you here. You were asleep for a while.”
When she says that I remember what I saw and sit up, gasping. “Where’s Tiffany?”
Logan furrows her brows at me. “She’s not here. She was gone when we got back. Don’t know where she went. Why?”
“I-I remembered something when I had that seizure,” I breathe. I look at Logan, my eyes wide. “You were right. Tiffany was familiar to you because we knew her. She’s Marcus’s daughter.”
“What?” Logan says, shocked.
“Yes, that’s why you recognized her, and that’s why she looked similar to that girl you killed. Because that’s her sister, and Marcus’s other daughter. And that’s why Tiffany’s here. She must’ve been spying on us the entire time for Marcus.”
I can’t believe that this entire time Logan was right. I can’t believe I let Tiffany stay with us, in our house, and the entire time she was just playing us. I figured Marcus probably had someone following us, watching us, but nope, she was with us the whole time, right in front of our faces. I’m such an idiot.
Logan gets to her feet, her hands clenched into fists. “I knew it, I fucking knew it. Where is that bitch? I’m gonna kill her.”
Slowly, but steadily the memory of what happened at the greenhouse comes back to me, and I recall Matt telling me not to throw-up. I also remember feeling nauseous, and I’m afraid when I had my seizure I might have thrown up the liquid that I swallowed.
“Logan, calm down,” I say, grabbing her arm. “We knew something was up with her, we just didn’t know what. If she comes back then we can confront her. Otherwise it’s pointless, and it’s not like we told her anything important. We made sure not to say anything in front of her. We’re good. More importantly, when I passed out and all that, did I throw up? Because if I did, then that stuff is not going to work.”
Logan gives me a blank look. “No, you didn’t throw up,” she says incredulously.
Oh, good, I think. At least my plan is still in motion. But what I don’t get, is why Tiffany would help us if she’s here for Marcus. Well, I guess she did it to earn our trust so she could stay, but what about the groceries? I’m assuming she heard me saying that we didn’t have any food, then went out and got some from Marcus? Why? Why does she care? And what about all that stuff she said? She seemed so genuine. How could she be lying the whole time? Not just that, but I bet that night that she left, she was probably going to talk to Marcus. She couldn’t even come up with a good excuse and I still let her stay.
“How long have I been asleep?” I exclaim, remembering the fact that I have to meet Roman at one. I can’t miss that, I can’t miss that, I better have not been asleep.
“It’s twelve o’clock,” Logan says. She stares at me for a long time, then adds, “Are we really not going to do anything about Tiffany?”
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “There’s not a point. We’d just be wasting time with it.” And I actually liked her and don’t want to hurt her, even if she hurt me.
We hold the stare for a long time before Logan sighs and gives in. “Fine. But remember these words: I told you so.”
I drag my feet off the couch and onto the floor. “That’s great, Logan. Real mature. And by the way, I’m going to need a ride somewhere else soon. Gotta be there at one.”
I pull myself to my feet, feeling dizzy, but manage to stay standing. The feeling passes, and though my body still feels sore, I feel pretty good for just having a seizure. To be honest, I’m just relieved the pain is over.
“That’s wonderful, Julia, where are we going now? I think you should stop and rest.”
I go into the kitchen and pour myself a glass of water, quickly chugging it down. Logan follows me in and sits down at the bar while I search for food, hungry now that I’m awake.
“So? Where are we going?” Logan asks.
“We’re going to a house. I’m trying to make sure that we have other people’s help on Sunday if worse comes to worse. We have Luke and Sarah in the trees, and now I’m going to get some of the other members on the pack to help us. If I can, we’ll have other people willing to fight for us, and maybe we can beat Marcus and the rest of the pack with their help. We need them.”
Of course, we won’t have to worry about any of this after tonight anyway. Marcus can’t control me anymore. I can take him on now. And I’m going to win.
I pull out a pan and begin cooking eggs. When I glance at Logan, I see that she has her eyes closed and her head on the table. I walk over and poke her with the spatula. “What’s wrong with you? Do you not want a backup plan in case Marcus does try to kill you?”
Logan pulls her head up and gazes at me. “No, I don’t want to pull anyone else into this. It’s my mess and I need to take care of it.”
I fight with her about it for a while, and though she agrees to let them help, I can tell she doesn’t like it. There’s nothing I can do about that. I want as many people on our side as we can get, so I don’t care that she doesn’t like it.
I go back to my eggs, and after eating that, it’s almost time to go. It’s just one thing after another. My brain is going to be fried by the time this weekend is over. It’d be great if I could just switch it off for a while and take a break, but that’s sadly not going to happen.
I relax for maybe ten minutes, but after that I have to get up and leave. Again. Logan drives me over there, and we make it there about five minutes before one. I still don’t like riding in cars, but I can’t walk twenty miles a day and be on time everywhere I go.
“Are you coming in?” I ask as we pull up outside of an old, victorian house. She parks by the curb, and I get a good look at the house. It looks like a bungalow, and seems to stick out when mixed in with all the other houses on the block. There are missing shingles on the roof, and the paint on the side of the house is chipping away, as is some of the brick along the bottom. I can tell from here that the house must be very old.
“No way, I’ll wait on you out here,” she says.
“Suit yourself.” I get out of the jeep and walk up to the large, mahogany door of the house. There’s a thin slab of glass on either side of the door. I take a deep breath, then force myself to tap on the door with the brass door-knocker.
Footsteps grow louder until they are on the other side of the door, and the door swings back. A woman with light brown hair, mixed with streaks of gray, stands inside. She wears brown sandals and a light pink floral shirt with jeans that look as old as the house.
“Are you Cecilia?” I ask, knowing from the wrinkles on her face that she must be the oldest one here. Though she does have wrinkles on the corners of her eyes and at the corners of her mouth, she does look young for her age, if I have the right house. She has a natural beauty about her now, and she must have been gorgeous in her youth.
“Hi, I’m Julia,” I say, sticking out my hand for her to shake. She glances down at my hand, then looks back up at me, grabbing my hand.
“Nice to meet you. Everybody’s already here. Come in,” she says in a silvery voice that seems to just glide through the air. She steps back to make room for me and I step inside while she closes it behind me. My heart thumps in my chest and I try to keep myself calm. I don’t need to be nervous; it’s not like they’re gonna kill me if they don’t agree with what I say.
Upon stepping inside, I instantly spot the other three to my left inside of what must be a living room. Seeing the pictures on a table next to the door, I realize that this is Cecilia's house and not Roman’s, which makes sense since she answered the door. I wait for her to walk ahead of me then follow her into the room.
She walks around the off-white couch, and sits in a matching chair diagonal from it, gesturing for me to sit at the couch. I sit down next to Roman on the right, a young girl with long, black hair on his left, which I assume is Alyssa. Another chair, the same as the one Cecilia is sitting in, is placed across from her, on the other side of a coffee table. A man with dark hair and dark eyes sits in that chair, and I gather that he is probably John.
“Would you like some tea?” Cecilia offers once I sit down. Her eyes seem to be pure gray, not even a speck of blue in there.
“Yes, please,” I say, and she slides over a teapot on the coffee table to pour me a cup. I thank her when she hands it over to me, and I try not to feel like the center of attention as I put a cube of sugar in it and stir.
As I take a sip, I feel a hand on my leg and Roman leans over. “Relax, you’re fine,” he whispers in my ear, then leans back.
I set my tea down on the table and introduce myself, and they do the same in turn. I feel a little more relaxed now, like I can just talk without being persecuted. We’re here for a reason. They came to listen, I came to talk. That, or there’s something in the tea that’s calming me.
“Okay,” I say. “I guess I’ll just jump right into this. I’m here because, as you all know, Marcus wants to kill my sister, Logan. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why he wants to do that, but Logan didn’t know what she was doing. She’d never do something like that on purpose, and you have no idea how bad she feels for that. She deserves to be saved. She deserves to live. And I’m not going to let Marcus take that from her, just because she did something that was out of her control. She’s learning now.”
Cecilia sets her tea onto a saucer on the table and crosses her legs. “So what you’re saying is that your sister is worth saving. And that you intend to do that by….killing Marcus?”
“I tried to talk with Marcus. I tried so hard to convince not to do this, but he refuses to budge at all on this subject. I even offered to work with him, basically serve him, as long as he let her go. But he wouldn’t budge. I’m not going to beg him anymore. So yes, he’s left me no other choice but to kill him.”
Cecilia stares at me a long time as I sip my tea, and I assume that John, Alyssa, and Roman are, too.
“And you want us to help you,” she says in a monotone voice. I wish I knew what she was thinking right now, considering she has a pretty good poker face. However, even though this thing could go any direction right now, I keep my calm. Showing that I can’t handle pressure is not going to help my case.
“Yes,” I say. “I had something made today that will prevent Marcus from compelling me. That means he can still compel the rest of you, so I will have to be the one who fights him. What I need for you to do is keep the rest of the pack away from our fight. I can beat Marcus, but not if there’s five other people attacking me. I know no one here wants to keep Marcus as alpha. He’s a dictator. Don’t let him control you anymore.”
“Well, that’s great and everything,” Alyssa says, leaning forward to see around Roman, “but what about when you’re alpha? If we help you kill him, that means you’ll be alpha, not us. How do we know that you won’t turn on us? How do we know you aren’t just wanting power? How-”
“How do we know you’re not just as bad as Marcus?” John interrupts.
Those are very good questions.
“I tell you what,” I say, scooting forward so I can see everyone, “if you can keep everyone away from Marcus and me, and I manage to overpower Marcus, I will hold him back so one of you can do the final task of killing him. I don’t want power. What I want is my sister, and that’s it.” I take the time to make sure I make eye contact with each one of them in turn, one at a time. I make sure that the message gets through, and I’m not just saying those words to be saying them, I mean them.
“Will you help me?’ I ask, breaking the silence. My eyes meet with Cecilia’s and I keep there, since she seems to be the unannounced leader. Say yes. It’s not that complicated.
Cecilia looks at the others. “I think we’re all in agreement here that we will fight for you.” She looks at me. “But one more thing. After Marcus is dead and your sister is safe, we want you to leave. We’ve heard the rumors about twins, and we want nothing to do with that. So don’t ever try to join our pack, and move somewhere else, far away from here. If you can do that, we will help you. Agreed?” She glances at Alyssa, John, and Roman, and once she gets a nod from them, she looks at me.
I don’t know how I’m going to get Mom to go along with this, just up and move...but I’ll find a way if it guarantees their help. Besides, I’m killing Marcus tonight anyway. This won’t even matter come tomorrow.
“Okay,” I say, nodding. “We can do that.”
“Good,” Cecilia says. “Then it’s settled.” I stand up, thanking them, and walk toward the door to let myself out. When I step outside I see that Roman has followed me to the door, and he steps onto the porch with me.
“Hey,” he says, shutting the door, “You did a good job in there. Have you ever considered writing speeches in the future?”
I furrow my brows at him. “Speeches?”
“Yeah,” he says, running his fingers through his hair. “I am still your teacher, Julia. And I think that you could be very good at writing speeches with a little bit of work.”
“Oh,” I say. “No, that’s fine. I don’t think I really want to do that. But thanks for the compliment.” I pause, shuffling my feet across each other. I notice that he also seems kind of nervous, and he glances around a few times. I should say something else, thank him.
Instead of saying something, I end up tackling him in a hug before I can think too much about it. I get on the tips of my toes with my arms around his neck. He flinches in surprise, but then he gently sets a hand on my back after a moment.
“Thank you for setting this up,” I say. “And thank you for being willing to help, and understanding. You’re a good man, Roman.” I pull back and smile while simultaneously deciding to leave before it gets uncomfortable. “But, um, I have to leave now, so I’ll see you tomorrow, I guess.”
“Yeah, see you then,” he says as I walk down the porch steps. I think that he goes back inside once I leave, but I’m unsure.
As I get closer to the jeep a sense of reassurance floods over me, and I begin to feel confident that this will work out. There are enough people on our side to know that there’s no way this could go wrong. I have hope that Logan and I will both make it through this alive.