The stack of books and newspapers tumbled out of Nate’s arms as he sat at the study table. He sighed and looked over at Devon and Brad. “That’s the last of what I think will be worth looking at. We should be done in a couple hours. The library closes at noon today anyway.”
Devon tossed the book he was reading onto the table and reached for another one. “There are a lot more stories about witches than werewolves and almost nothing about the two of them together. Didn’t you say you had some local stories?” He scanned the material spread out on the table.
Brad pushed a stack of newspapers closer to Devon. “These are old and local papers.” He said without even looking up from the paper he was reading. “There’s not much here, myths and legends and family trees. I found that every person who was suspected to be a witch has no living relatives in Roxbury Falls, except Elias, and Eli just moved back here a couple of years ago with a foster family. He didn’t even know anything about his family history until last year.”
“That in itself is weird, isn’t it? That many old families moving away?” Nate asked.
“They didn’t all move away. There were a lot of deaths… all deemed accidents.” Brad said.
“We need to move on to the next stage of our plan,” Devon said. “I’m gonna text Sky and tell him to come to the library and to bring David with him. Matt said he’d text after he talked to Terrie, right?”
“Yeah, and I’ll let him be the one to text Elias, too.” Brad rolled his eyes. “Nate? Let’s put all this away. We need to switch to searching the internet. It’s time to dig deep into the crazy conspiracy blogs.”
Devon grinned. “Now that sounds fun!” Devon shot off a quick text to his brother, which read, ‘Come to the library. Bring David.’
Matt sat cross-legged in the middle of the blanket. He took the food that he brought for the picnic out of the basket while he waited for Terrie. A shadow crossed over the blanket, causing Matt to look up and smile. “Hey, beautiful. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you. How are you?”
“Silly boy. You were just at my house. This looks wonderful.” Terrie said as she sat down.
“But I miss you every minute that we’re apart, and that makes it seem so much longer.” Matt grinned and then sighed. “I wish… I wish we could be just another young teen couple out on a first date in the park, but we’re not. A lot has happened, Terrie. There’s so much we need to talk about. You know some of it from talking to Brad last night and this morning, but there’s a lot more. I found out so much at Eli’s house, and I had another weird dream and woke up to find David outside in the bushes.”
Terrie reached over and took Matt’s hands in her own. “Tell me. Tell me everything.”
Matt started with the easy stuff. He told her about his dreams of the blue-eyed werewolf, and he told her about the new details that he learned with Eli’s help. Matt told Terrie that he was now almost positive that two werewolves were stalking the town, and because of that, he had hopes that his brother had not yet killed. He skipped, for now, details about Elias. Instead, he told Terrie about finding David in the bushes. He told her as much about the curse as he had learned. Then, after he finished telling her about werewolves and curses, he had no choice but to tackle the more complex topics, Elias and witchcraft. Terrie was still holding Matt’s hands. He pulled her to him and kissed her forehead, then took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “So, that’s what I know about werewolves and the curse that is on my family. But, there’s more that I need to tell you.”
Terrie’s eyes opened wide. “Wow. What else could you possibly have left to tell me? That’s a lot already. It’s all so hard to believe, but with you and Brad and even my little brother Johnny having seen stuff, I one hundred percent believe you guys.”
Matt frowned. “Most of the rest is about Eli and how he ties into all of this. Eli is a witch, and on top of that, he has proven to me that I am a witch, too.”
“What do you mean? Did he show you real magic? Can you do stuff?”
“He did show me his magic. He also explained his family history to me. There are many old books in the house that everyone calls the witch house, and he has learned from them. One of his ancestors was part of the coven that cursed my family.”
Terrie’s brow furrowed. “Then is he helping you, or is he the enemy that we should be wary of?”
“He’s helping. Ever since that first day that he saw me at Will’s Diner, he has wanted to help me. He dreamed about me before he ever met me, and I know he wasn’t lying. Elias described to me exactly what I was doing on my last night in California. Even David didn’t know what I did that night.”
“I can’t say that I like Elias dreaming about you, but that’s pretty cool that it was accurate.”
Matt blushed. “There’s a lot more that I have to tell you about Eli, and there’s more that you won’t like.”
Terrie looked concerned, and she held tighter to Matt’s hands. “You can tell me anything. But, especially now in these scary and unbelievable times, we have to be honest with each other and lean on each other.”
Matt sighed. “I agree. I just hope you still feel that way after I tell you everything. So, after Eli told me about his dream, I told him about the dream I’d been having about David. Eli got the idea to try to use his magic to enter my dream and help me see things about it that I hadn’t been able to see before. His idea worked perfectly. With Eli’s support, I stayed in the dream past when I would normally scare myself awake. It was near the end of the dream, the new part that I hadn’t seen, that I knew for certain that there were two wolves, and they match up exactly with the descriptions that Brad gave.”
“This is all scary as hell, but it seems encouraging. Like maybe your brother hasn’t killed, even though he’s a werewolf. So why would you say that I wouldn’t like what you had to say?”
Matt pulled his hands away from Terrie’s. He pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. Matt rested his forehead against his knees and spoke softly. “I’m getting to that part.”
Terrie reached out and put a hand on Matt’s shoulder. Hey, I’ll say again that you can tell me anything. I have a feeling that I know where this is going, and it’s ok.”
Matt looked up with tears starting to form at the corners of his eyes. “I didn’t even know where this was heading until it was happening. How could you?” He took a deep breath and let it out. “When I saw the new ending of my dream, and I saw the danger that David was in, the danger that we were all in, I jumped and nearly fell out of the chair that I was sitting in. Elias caught me, but my momentum crashed us up against the wall. I was scared out of my mind, but he held onto me until I felt safe. First in the dream, and then there in his arms up against the wall, he made me feel safer than I’ve felt in months. He held me until I stopped shaking, and then he promised me that he would save my brother.”
“There’s still more to this story, isn’t there?” Terrie said. Her expression was sad.
“Yes.” Matt sighed. “I mean… I won’t make you listen to details. Not much physical happened, but I wanted it to. I stopped myself, and I stopped him until I could figure out exactly what I want. I needed to talk to you before I did anything I would regret. I didn’t… I wouldn’t cheat on you, Terrie. I’ve never been sexually attracted to a guy before. I’ve never been as attracted to anyone as I was to him last night, yet, sitting here, I know I’m falling in love with you. I’m so confused. I don’t want to hurt either of you, but I don’t want to abandon either of you. Saying that out loud makes me sound selfish, but I want both of you!”
Terrie’s eyes were wet with tears. “Is it possible that the dream caused your connection in real life? Maybe the magic?”
“We talked about that very possibility. According to Elias, the magic that binds us to each other could enhance feelings, but it couldn’t create feelings out of nothing. Terrie, there’s still more that I need to tell you.”
“What else could there possibly be?” Terrie raised her hands, exasperated. “Did you kiss him? Did he kiss you? More than that? What else?”
“I didn’t kiss him. I wanted to, but I didn’t. Full disclosure,” Matt pulled his shirt collar down, exposing the hickey on his collarbone. “That happened, but that’s not what I need to tell you. The physical stuff didn’t go further than him briefly kissing my neck. Terrie, you need to understand something about witches. Their powers grow when multiple witches are bonded in a coven. Eli doesn’t think that he’s strong enough to break a werewolf curse by himself, but he does think that he could break the curse’s power over me. If he can do that, I could bond with him, forming our own coven. It might be the only way to save my brother, but I think it is something I would want to do even if David wasn’t cursed.”
“I’m not really sure what the right thing is for me to say to all that, Matt. I think I’m falling in love with you, too, but you’ve said so much more than that. I can’t tell you not to bond with him if that’s even possible. Saving your brother and protecting the entire town has to be the top priority. You have to keep hanging out with Elias to do that. Besides, I care enough about you that I want you to be happy even if it isn’t with me. Go figure yourself out. I won’t abandon you. I won’t even break up with you right now, but I can’t say that I will be ok with whatever you decide. I’m your friend no matter what, Matt. We need to stick together through all the craziness and then, as long as we all survive,” Terrie huffed out a laugh. “We’ll figure out where to go from there.”
Matt nodded his head. “I suppose that’s the best possible reaction that I could expect from everything I told you. I appreciate what you said, Terrie. As soon as I know what the hell is going on with me, you’ll be the next one to know. I’m so sorry that I screwed up our picnic with my drama.”
Terrie shocked Matt with what she did next. She moved over closer to him and then straddled his lap. Terrie cupped Matt’s face in both her hands. “Babe, the fact that you tried to have a picnic with me while this is going on tells me how much you care.” She leaned in and gently kissed his lips. “You are an amazing man, Matthew Montana. I will stand by you while you figure all this stuff out. The supernatural stuff, and the romance stuff. I’m not ready to let you go.” She leaned in again, and he leaned in to meet her this time. Their lips crashed together, and their tongues entwined. They didn’t part until they were both breathless.
Matt was nearly panting. “That. Was. Amazing! Unfortunately, we have to meet up with everyone else now. David and Sky were going to meet up with Brad, Devon, and Nate at the library. I… I gotta go to Eli’s house before I go to the library. Do you want to meet up with everyone else before I get there, or should I swing by your house on my way there?”
Terrie’s brow furrowed. “I’ll go home first and try and find out if my dad found out anything about Brad’s photos. Then I’ll go to the library on my own. You do whatever you need to do with Eli and meet us as soon as you can. It seems as if Elias is a central figure in all this almost as much as David is. I’ll see you at the library, babe.” With a final kiss, Terrie got up and left the park. His head still spinning from the entire conversation with his… girlfriend? Ex-girlfriend? Friend? … whatever she was now… Matt sent off a text to Elias to let him know that he was on his way.
Brad followed Nate deeper into the library as they put all of their research materials away. As Nate set the last book back on the shelf, he turned and grabbed two handfuls of Brad’s t-shirt and pulled him in close. “I hate having debts hanging over my head. Do you mind if I pay you what I owe you now?” His green eyes sparkled, and his full lips curled up in a smile.
“I’ve added interest onto the debt, so now you owe,” The rest of Brad’s sentence was cut off when Nate pressed him up against the bookshelf and kissed him. Brad wrapped his arms around Nate’s neck, and Nate’s hands slid down Brad’s back and came to rest on his hips.
Nate broke the kiss, nearly breathless. “Oh, God, you’re an amazing kisser, and you taste just as sweet as you look. I have wanted to kiss you for two years, and I am not the least bit disappointed in the result!”
“I sure hope you don’t wait two more years to do it again!” Brad said with a giggle.
“Definitely not.” Nate leaned in for another kiss, but they were interrupted by the sound of Devon clearing his throat.
“I hate to interrupt the nerdy library sex, but Sky answered my text. He and David are on their way here. So you two might want to keep your clothes on a little while longer.”
Brad laughed. “Has it been that long for you that you confuse kissing with sex, Dev?”
Devon rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say, dude.” Devon huffed out a laugh. “I like being a single pringle. Anyway, I’ll start organizing all our notes, so we’re ready for my brother and his werewolf boyfriend. Have you heard from Matt or Terrie yet?”
“Nothing yet. I hope he made out ok. That conversation could have gone bad. If he doesn’t text me soon, I’ll text him.” Brad said as the three boys walked back to the research table.
Terrie walked into the house and looked around for her father. Her search took her to his home office, where she finally found him. Terrie’s alert eyes noticed that her dad minimized whatever he was looking at when she walked into the room. “Hi, dad. I’m home. What’re you working on?”
“You’re home early. I didn’t expect to see you until curfew. Is everything alright?”
“No, dad. Nothing is alright.” Terrie’s brow furrowed. “Did you get anything back on Brad’s photos yet?”
“Why do you ask? Let me handle that. You don’t need to be concerned with it.”
“You’re wrong. I do need to be concerned. Brad was telling the truth. I’m sure of that now. The photos will prove it.”
The sheriff sighed. “What else has happened? Why do you say that you’re sure of it now?”
“You know something. You got the photos back, didn’t you, dad? I’ll tell you everything I know if you do the same.”
“Ok. It sounds like you’re involved already.” The sheriff opened the photos that he had been looking at when Terrie got home. “My forensic photographer friend emailed me these, and he asked me why I was trying to prank him with pics of a werewolf.”
“You know it’s not a prank, right?” Terrie asked.
“I’m getting there. It’s taking me a while, but I’m getting there. What do you know? What else has happened?”
Terrie stared at the photos of the blue-eyed werewolf, and then she looked over at her father. She pointed at the pictures. “That is most likely David Montana.”
The sheriff’s jaw dropped. “Tell me everything.” Terrie sighed and began telling her father everything that Matt had told her earlier and everything she had talked with Brad about the night before.
Ronnie shook his head in wonder. “So, there are two werewolves, and all the stories about the Carrier witch house are true. This… is unreal. And Matt is a witch? What about Nancy and Brad?”
“Not as far as anyone knows. Nancy and Brad aren’t in the direct bloodline, so they should be safe from the curse. Matt isn’t sure where the witch blood comes from yet. Who knows? This is all crazy, dad.”
The sheriff scratched his chin. “It is crazy, but if all this is true, then maybe all the stories are true. Do you know my deputy? Lilly Monroe?”
“Yeah. Lilly is nice. What about her?”
“Right after I hired her, she started asking a million questions about the town history. Now that I think about it, she moved to town and applied for the job right after the rumors started about the Carrier kid visiting the witch house. She tried to convince me to burn down the house. Let’s take a ride to the station. I think we should have a more in-depth talk with Lilly.”
“Do you think it’s best to get someone else involved?”
Ronnie shrugged. “If my hunch is right, she’s already involved. So we should know as much as possible.”
“Ok. I’m in. Let’s go.” Terrie said as father and daughter walked out of the house.
David and Skylar walked into the library, and Sky looked right at his little brother. “I can’t believe that I’m seeing you, of all people, in a library.”
Devon rolled his eyes. “We have a lot to talk about, big brother, but I’m sure that you know that already.” Devon’s eyes darted toward David.
David took Sky’s hand in his own. “Where is Matt? We may as well tell all these stories all at once. There’s no sense repeating everything multiple times.”
“I hoped Matt and Terrie would be here by now. Elias as well, I guess. This is all so unbelievable, David. I know we want to wait for everyone to get here, but I have to ask, do you know for sure? Are you a werewolf?” Brad asked.
“Yes. I do know for sure. I am a werewolf, and… I accidentally bit Sky. We’re not sure what that means yet, though.” Everyone started talking at once. Waiting for the rest of their friends went out the window as the five boys became lost in telling everything they knew and everything they had researched. It wasn’t for another hour that Brad’s phone alerted him to a text. Terrie was on her way to the library, but she was alone. Matt was at the witch house with Elias.
Matt knocked on the door, and it was answered by Eli’s foster mom. “Hello, can I… oh… you’re Eli’s friend, aren’t you?”
“Yes, ma’am. I’m Matt. Is Eli home?”
“Yes. Let me get him.” Before she could even turn around, Elias ran up behind her.
“Hey. Matt! Come on in.” Elias said with a grin.
Eli’s foster mom stepped aside, and Matt followed Elias up the stairs and into his bedroom. Eli spoke softly. “I just need to grab a couple of books to bring back to the other house. I think I found all the spells and ingredients that I will need to accomplish both things that we need to do.”
“Do you mean…” Matt’s eyes were wide and hopeful.
Elias grinned. “Yes. I don’t know if I’m capable of succeeding in either task, but I’m pretty sure I figured out how to remove the curse from you and bond you into my coven.”
Matt closed the bedroom door and then stepped in close to Elias. Matt’s blue eyes burned with desire as he stared deeply into Eli’s eyes. There’s a third experiment that we need to do today. One that I want to try before you cast any of your magic spells on me.” Matt smirked as he maneuvered Elias closer to the bed.
“What about… did you talk to… can I….” Elias stuttered out half sentences as he stared into Matt’s eyes.
“If your lips can’t form whole sentences, maybe I should find a better use for them.” Matt leaned in, and the two boys shared their first kiss. As the kiss deepened, Eli tried to take another step back but stumbled because his legs were already against his bed. As he fell, he clutched onto Matt’s shirt, pulling Matt down on top of him. Elias moaned into Matt’s mouth as he wrapped his legs around the other boy’s hips.
Matt pulled back and smiled down at Eli. “I hereby declare this experiment a complete success. Admittedly, I don’t have a ton of experience to compare it to, but that was easily the most amazing kiss of my life.”
Elias blushed. “It’s like you lit my whole body on fire. I hope this means that you want to be with me?”
“There’s a lot we have to talk about, but there’s one thing for sure, I never want to be without you ever again. I crave your touch like it’s a drug.”
Eli pulled Matt into another fiery kiss then pulled away. “I could lay here and kiss you forever… and do so much more, but we have things that we need to do before dark. With any luck, we can help your brother before the change hits him tonight.”
Matt rolled off of Elias. “It is getting late. It’s good that one of us was thinking with their big head.” Matt huffed out a laugh.
Elias giggled and sat up on the edge of the bed. “Being near you makes all this scary stuff a little easier to deal with.”
“I feel the exact same way.”
Eli grabbed his backpack and led Matt out of the room. At the bottom of the stairs, he poked his head into the living room. “Hey, Judy. Matt and I are going for a walk. I probably won’t be home until late.”
“Just make sure you get in before curfew, Elias,” Judy said.
“I will. Thanks. Bye!” The two boys left the house and walked toward the witch house.
Terrie stood in the corner of her father’s office and listened intently as her dad talked to Deputy Lilly Monroe. “So, you haven’t found any hard evidence about the Carrier boy, have you, Lilly?”
“You sound like you are a lot closer to believing me, Ronnie. What do you know?” Lilly’s eyes darted to Terrie and then back to Ronnie.
“Let’s just say that my mind is open to possibilities now.”
“You know that there are no bears in the middle of town, right, Ronnie?”
“Witchcraft didn’t kill those kids either. What do you think did it if not bears?”
“You know the stories, and I can see that you know something of what’s happening now. First, the boy reopened the Carrier house, then the Montana family bloodline returned to town. It was after those events that people started dying, Sheriff. Dark supernatural forces are at work in Roxbury Falls. If the sheriff’s department can’t stop it, I know people who can.”
“Lilly, give me time to wrap my head around all this. Then, bring me your evidence, and we’ll work together. Don’t bring in outsiders.”
“If there are any more deaths, others will come. That is unavoidable. I will try my best to work with you to regain control of your town.” Lilly looked at Terrie. “I have seen you with the younger Montana boy. If you find things getting weird or out of control, come to me. I will help you.” Lilly nodded to both Ronnie and Terrie and then left the office.
Terrie and her dad both looked at each other after Lilly left the office. Terrie spoke first. “Thank you for not giving her any details of what I told you. I don’t think she would care if they are killers or not. Her opinion appears to be that all supernatural beings are evil.”
Ronnie nodded. “If David is a killer, you realize that I won’t be able to protect him. I won’t want to protect him, and I won’t be able to arrest him. We would have to involve Lilly and her friends.”
Terrie frowned. I’m meeting all the guys at the library this afternoon. I promise I’ll keep you in the loop. Please don’t involve Lilly until I talk to you again.”
“I expect you to keep that promise, and I will promise in return that I won’t get Lilly involved. Of course, if there’s another death tonight, she may get involved whether we want her to or not.”
Terrie shot off a text to Brad and then spoke to her father again. “I might be out late, dad, but I will be in before curfew. I promise.”
“Be careful, Terrie,” Ronnie yelled as his daughter nearly ran out of the police station.
Matt sat at the kitchen table in the house that he thought of as Eli’s house instead of the witch house. He watched Eli’s lithe form dart back and forth across the kitchen. The rich earthy aroma of herbs filled Matt’s nostrils as he inhaled deeply. “Are you cooking me dinner or casting a spell? The kitchen smells amazing!”
“Both,” Elias smirked. “The spell first, though.”
“Can I eat it? I’m starved!”
Eli rolled his eyes. “I’ll make sure you get fed. I have no idea how your body will react to the spell, and I don’t want you to puke on me.” Eli laughed.
“Gee, thanks! Are we ready?”
“I think so,” Elias said. “Huge disclaimer. I’ve read about these big spells that include herbs and potions, but I’ve never actually cast any. The biggest things I’ve done are all the protection spells around the house. So you’re going to be my guinea pig.” Eli huffed out a laugh.
Matt arched an eyebrow. “What’s the worst-case scenario if this goes wrong?”
Eli got a serious look on his face. “From my research, I am relatively certain that if I do this wrong, nothing at all will happen. If something does happen, I’ve done it right. I don’t know. What I think will happen is that the dark magic will be expelled from your body. What does that mean? Again, I’m not sure.” Eli shrugged. “Do you still want to go through with this?”
“Absolutely one hundred percent yes. WE know what’s happening with my brother. I’m willing to take my chances with the unknown to help him. But, doing nothing is not an option.”
Elias pushed Matt’s chair away from the table and straddled his lap. Eli ran his fingers through Matt’s thick dark hair as he stared down into his eyes. “You have the most beautiful blue eyes that I have ever seen. I would die before I ever did anything to hurt you. I will be careful. I will do everything exactly right. I made you a promise last night that you would not lose your brother. I mean to keep that promise, and the first step is cleansing you of dark magic.”
“What do you need me to do?”
Eli’s fingertips slid across Matt’s face and down his neck, finally coming to rest on his shoulders. Elias smirked. “The first thing you need to do is follow me into the bathroom and take off all your clothes.”
Matt’s eyebrows shot up. “What kind of spell is this?!”
Elias laughed. “I knew you would immediately think naughty thoughts. These herbs,” He motioned toward the kitchen counters. “Will go into a cleansing bath. The magic should draw the darkness out of you and into the water.”
“Oh! Ok! That makes sense.” Matt blushed. “It will be weird to be naked in front of you and not have it be naughty, though,” Matt smirked.
“We might get naughty later. Who knows?” Eli waggled his eyebrows, then turned away from Matt and collected all his bottles and bowls of herbs. Eli led Matt down the hall and into the bathroom.