The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 17)

Chapter 17

Terrie exhaled and began the spell. “Sanguis venande invocavite. Sanguinem autem ejus de venator defendat. Sanguis enim venator covina praesidio!”

Terrie felt a tingling sensation all over her body, which soon dissipated. She looked at Eli and nodded. Eli lifted the ceremonial dagger off the table, proceeded to slice open the palm of his right hand, and did the same to Matt’s left palm. Elias handed the knife to Terrie, and she cut open both of her palms. Terrie stood between the two boys, and they joined hands. All three chanted the words to the bonding spell in unison. A wave of energy spread outward from the circle. Terrie’s jaw dropped. “Wow. It’s not that I can read your minds, but I can feel both of you in the back of my head. It’s an image of what you are feeling. It’s so clear that I can tell which of you is which.” She looked at Matt. “Stop worrying about everything. We’re going to figure this out.”

Eli grinned. “That’s what I’ve been telling him.”

Matt rolled his eyes. “If it’s always going to be two against one, I may back out of this… whatever we call this relationship.”

“I believe the trendy name is throuple.” Nate quipped. “But I think you guys are beyond labels once you add in the supernatural connection.”

“I’ve never liked labels, even when I thought I was straight,” Matt said.

“Society always wants to label everything. You guys just ignore all the bull and keep being who you are. All three of you are very special to me.” Brad said.

Elias quirked an eyebrow. “You’ve changed, Bradley, in good ways. I approve of the more mature and wiser Bradley 2.0.”

Brad blushed. “I’d like to think that I was changing on my own, but all of this,” Brad motioned around them. “Was bound to change us all.”

Eli shrugged. “Point taken, but some people would have been changed for the worse. You have changed for the better. Nathan is a lucky guy.”

“So is Matt.” Brad grinned.

Eli smiled. “Ok, Terrie, what’s next?”

“We go to Lilly’s cabin,” Terrie said to Elias. “While Matt, Brad, and Nate finish preparing the curse breaker and wolf charm spells.”

Eli handed a spell book to Matt. “The two pages are marked. Gather and separate the ingredients. Don’t mix anything until I get back. I should be gone less than an hour if all goes well.”

Matt took the book and turned toward Brad and Nate. “Ok, boys, let’s get to work.”

Sky kicked at the gravel path as he walked next to David. “There was nothing out of the ordinary at either of those houses. Are we wasting our time checking out the third one?” Then, Sky’s nostrils flared as if on cue, and his eyes opened wide. “Do you smell that?” He nearly growled.

“I don’t smell… hey! Slow down! Hey!” David yelled as Sky was running and pulling David along behind him. David managed to pull Sky to a stop before he entered the backyard of the house they were approaching. When Sky turned to face David, David’s eyes went wide. “Skylar! You need to calm down. Talk to me. What do you smell? What are you feeling right now?”

“What am I feeling? I’m feeling angry and powerful. Can’t you smell that? I smell everything, but from that house, I smell wolf and blood and fear and death.”

“Babe, look at your hands.”

“What the hell? Why do I have claws?”

“You also have fangs. You need to calm down and get yourself under control. Elias said that you might be able to change at will even in daylight because you aren’t cursed. At will is the key. Right now, your emotions are in charge. Take control of your mind and body, Sky.”

Skylar knelt and bowed his head, then took deep, calming breaths. He watched in amazement as his claws retracted. Sky felt his teeth and found the fangs were gone. He looked up at his boyfriend. “That was intense. When we are somewhere safe, I will try and do that on purpose.”

“You should also try preventing the change tonight. If we can control when we change and remember what we do as wolves, we might be able to get a handle on this.”

“Good idea.” Sky nodded toward the cabin. “We know where he lives. What should we do? Should we try and take him down right now or proceed with Eli’s plan?”

“Let’s go back and consult with Elias. We don’t know what he’s capable of. I’m still cursed, so I can’t change in daylight. You don’t have control of what you can do. If he can do what you do but controls it, we may fight against a werewolf while we’re human. There are too many unknowns. Let Eli trap this guy with magic, and then we can decide how to deal with him from there.”

“Ok. Let’s go. Hopefully, Elias has the spells ready to break your curse and trap this guy. We still have tons to do today, and it is already afternoon.” With one last look at the cabin in the woods, the two boys turned and started walking quickly toward the Carrier house.

Elias and Terrie stopped inside the tree line and looked down the hillside at Lilly Monroe’s house. “Are you sure Lilly is with your dad at the police station?” Eli asked for the sixth time.

“Yes, Eli. I even texted my dad again just to check. She is there.”

Eli stepped into the open and raised his arms. “Quae latebat claustra reveletur. Nune ponite insidias quae volebat. Patere nos omnia pericula sine limite.”

The air between them and the house shimmered with light, and there was a strong sulfur smell. Then, the light and the odor vanished. Terrie looked quizzically at Elias. “Did it work? What exactly did you say?”

Elias shrugged. “I hope it worked. A loose English translation would be ‘Barriers which were hidden now be revealed. Traps that were set now be sprung. Let the path before us be clear of all dangers.’”

Terrie nodded. “I like the wording. I guess we proceed cautiously and find out if it worked.”

“I wish I could say there’s a way to know for sure, but if there is, I haven’t learned it. If I knew what she did, I could have a better plan, but we don’t know, so proceed with extreme caution.” Eli said as the two started walking toward the house.

They got to the front porch unharmed and without setting off any alarms, at least none they knew. Eli reached for the doorknob, but Terrie grabbed his wrist and stopped him. “I think it would be safer for me to go in alone.” She said. “You got me this far, but we already know that she had one barrier in place inside that only a hunter could pass through. Who knows what else she’s done?”

 “Isn’t that why you asked me to come? To help you get through the barriers?”

“Outside the house, yes. When I was with Lilly, she kept me close to her while we were outside and let me roam free once we entered the house. I suspect there may be anti-witch traps inside. I do, however, have one more task for you.”

Eli cocked his head to one side. “How else can I assist?”

Terrie pointed to the right of the door. “I can pick locks and walk past magic barriers, but I don’t think I can fool that. She used her thumbprint and a retina scan to unlock the house.”

“Neither can I,” Eli mumbled as he knelt in front of the keypad. “Did she also use the keypad?”

“Yes. Is there anything you can do?”

“I’m no hacker. I can get you inside the house using magic. Still, if she has cast anti-magic spells to secure her alarm system, I can’t guarantee you’ll get in unannounced.”

“Do it. Get me in the house. After I’m inside, go home. It’s already well past noon, so the boys should be back at your house. I can finish this on my own. You are needed there to cast your spells before moonrise.”

“I hate leaving you here, but you’re right.” Eli shook his head. “Matt will kill me when I get home without you, but he’ll understand.”

“Do your thing, magic man.” Terrie grinned.

Elias stood up. “Averte virtutem.” The keypad and the retina scanner shut down. “Aperi ianuam.” The front door swung open. “Enter at your own risk.” Elias huffed out a laugh.

“Get home. The boys need you more than I do.” Terrie said.

“As long as Matt doesn’t kill me.” Eli grinned, then turned, leaving Terrie alone as she stepped cautiously into the house.

Elias saw David and Skylar enter his house as he crossed the lawn toward the kitchen door. Eli walked into the house and was met by the pungent aroma of fresh-cut herbs. He smiled as Matt walked toward him, but then the other boy stopped in his tracks and scowled.

“Where’s Terrie?” Matt asked.

Eli sighed. “She’s still at Lilly’s house. There was no way I could get in, so she sent me back here to do the curse breaker spell and prepare the werewolf charms.”

“You promised that you’d keep her safe, Eli.” Matt frowned.

“I did everything I could, Matt. I got her past all the barriers and traps in the yard and disabled the door alarms. When the front door swung open, she insisted I come back here and do what needs to be done.”

“We’d sense if she was in danger, right?”

“I think we would. I’ve never done this before, Matt. I’m learning on the fly. We don’t have time for proper training. Everything is happening too fast.”

“I understand.” Matt wrapped his arms around Elias. “I think I have everything ready for you, babe.”

Elias looked deeply into Matt’s blue eyes. “I wouldn’t have left her if I thought she was in danger, Matt.”

Matt leaned in, and their lips met in a tender kiss. “I know.”

A voice from behind them startled the two boys. “Before you two start making out, can we uncurse my boyfriend? Uh, wait, is uncurse a word?”

Elias and Matt stepped apart, and Eli looked over at Skylar. “We weren’t making out, and yes, uncurse is a word. Also, yes, we can start the process of uncursing David. Let me gather everything, and you and David meet me in the dining room.”

Matt helped Eli carry all the herbs and potions, except for the wolfsbane, into the dining room. Matt spread all the items on the table, looked at Eli, and smirked. “Does David have to get naked like I did, or was that a special stipulation for me only?”

David’s eyes went wide. “Wait, what? Naked? What exactly is going to happen?”

“We will talk all that out before we begin the spell, and, no, you don’t have to be naked. The spell will be drastically different from the one I did on Matt. The curse is affecting you in a much different way than it was affecting your brother.” Eli said.

Sky leaned forward. “What about the charms and traps we have planned for the grey wolf? We are ninety-nine percent sure we know who he is and where he lives if that will help.”

I’ve picked out an area that I want to lure him to. It will definitely help to know where he lives, but we still don’t know if he transforms at his house. I can cast multiple charm spells near the home and in the areas where he has been most active. Once the spells are in place, I’ll explain what I need everyone to do. Hopefully, by the end of today, David will no longer be cursed, and the grey wolf will be in the sheriff’s custody.” Eli said.

“Will a regular jail hold a werewolf? Do we want the world to find out that werewolves exist? Wouldn’t that put all of us in danger?” Sky asked.

“I haven’t solved those problems yet. I’m not sure I can murder a living being despite this person’s actions as a werewolf. The sheriff knows everything. I hope he has his own ideas on handling the grey wolf.” Elias said.

David shrugged. “One step at a time. What do we need to do for the curse breaker spell?”

Eli took a deep breath. “Brad, take Nate and Devon into the kitchen. You guys cut the wolfsbane exactly like I showed you. Sky, you can stay here, but do not touch David while I do the spell, even if it looks like he’s in distress. I’m not sure what would happen. Ok?”

“Got it. I’ll be here if you need me, but I won’t interfere unless you give the go-ahead.” Sky said.

Elias nodded. “Matt, sit across from your brother. I’ve written the spell down. Repeat it with me. You might feel tired once we begin. That will be from me drawing power from you. We talked about that. I need your strength, Matt. I can’t do this without you.” Elias looked back at David. “As far as the spell itself, I’ve set up these bowls of herbs.” He lit three of the bowls on fire. “These will burn like incense.” Eli handed a coffee mug to David. “Drink this.”

David made a face. “I hope this doesn’t taste as bad as it smells!”

Elias chuckled and set a second mug on the table next to the first one. “This one smells even worse.”

“This better work.” David frowned.

“I’ve had good results so far.” Eli shrugged. “Are we ready to start?” They all nodded. “The closest English translation to this spell is as follows: Dark magic release. Werewolf is strong. Nature magic is cleansed. Let this cursed wolf be free. The wolf shall be free. The curse shall be broken. This I command.” Elias looked at Matt. “Let’s begin.”

Elias and Matt started chanting in unison. “Tenebris magicaeest abiit. Versepellem volebit. Mundandus magicae naturae. Et lupus maledictam esse liberum. Lupus ad liberum erit. Maledictionem conteratur. Lubeo fiet.”

Matt slumped forward, and David’s body went rigid and then convulsed. Elias took one of Matt’s hands and placed his other hand on David’s forehead. Eli repeated the spell. The bodies of both Montana boys shook, then a dark cloudy mist rose out of David’s body. The cloud grew and swirled around the room.

Elias pointed at the swirling cloud and shouted, “Dispello!” And then he collapsed onto the floor.

Sky leaped to his feet and rushed to Eli’s side. Sky frantically looked from Elias to David to Matt. All three boys were unconscious. “Devon! Brad! Nate! I need you in here!”

“What happened?” Brad asked.

“After Eli and Matt did the spell, a black mist rose out of David, and then they all collapsed.” Sky said. “One of you, get some cold, wet facecloths from the kitchen.” Sky pulled Elias to his feet and set him in one of the chairs. Devon brought the wet cloths and placed them gently on the three unconscious boys’ foreheads. In a few minutes, all three began to wake up.

“That was intense. Did it work?” Matt asked.

David leaned against Sky. “I felt weird for a while. When you guys were chanting, my body felt tingly. Then it felt like my insides were being ripped through the pores of my skin. Finally, I felt exhausted, and I passed out.”

Sky wrapped an arm around David’s waist. “A freaky black cloud rose out of your skin and eyes. I’m not surprised by how you describe the feeling, babe. I’d like to say that it was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen, but we’re werewolves, so I don’t know. Par for the course, I guess?”

Elias still held his head in his hands but finally spoke. “I think it worked. We’ll know for sure after you change tonight, or rather after you change back in the morning and tell us if anything was different.”

“Can you tell anything from my aura?” David asked.

“Good idea. I should have thought of that.” Eli said. “Aurae apparuistis.” Eli stared intently at David, then at Sky, then back at David. “It does look different than it did before. Your aura is now yellow, silver, and blue. The black and grey that were clouding it are gone. I think the curse has been removed.”

Matt moved around the table and squeezed in next to Elias. “You’re doing awesome with all these spells, babe. What do we do next?”

“Next, we set the traps for the killer wolf,” Eli said as he stood up and walked toward the kitchen.

Terrie made her way to the basement of the hunter’s cabin without tripping any traps or setting off any alarms., at least as far as she knew. She decided it would be best to avoid the bookshelves where she encountered the barrier last time. Who knows if that would alert Lilly to her presence? Books weren’t what Terrie was looking for this time around. She passed by the cabinet with the wooden stakes and other anti-vampire weapons. Terrie bypassed the charms to protect against witches and warlocks. Finally, she found what she was looking for.

Terrie examined the glass case in front of her. There was no way for her to be sure if there were any magical alarms on it, but now that she was this close, there was no way she would leave without the silver sword. Terrie took the sword out of the case. She was surprised by how light it felt in her hand. She prayed that it would have enough weight for the task she planned for this sword. With her prize in hand, Terrie opened her backpack and started filling it with an assortment of necklaces, rings, and medallions from other tables and glass cases in the room. Terrie focused on the items she believed were most important to werewolves and witches. This may be her only chance to pillage the hunter’s cabin, so she wanted as much as she could carry.

Terrie heard a noise from the room above, footsteps. She went to the top of the staircase and listened until the footsteps faded. Whoever was there ascended the stairs to the second floor. Lilly must have come home. Terrie cursed herself for taking too long in the basement. She opened the basement door and stepped into the kitchen as quietly as possible. Terrie stealthily made her way to the front door.

Taking a chance that the alarm was off, Terrie exited the house and broke into a run. When Terrie reached the tree line, she heard shouting. Terrie turned and saw Lilly standing on the front porch. Terrie turned, ran off into the trees, and didn’t stop until she was back at Carrier House.

Matt stood on top of a small hill and surveyed the scene around him. Elias picked the best place to fight the grey wolf. Old Hickory Lane was the only road in sight. The road came up the hill’s south side, crossed the clearing, and disappeared into the trees to the north. The other significant feature was the bike path that crossed Old Hickory Lane from east to west. The bike path led into Roxbury Park, traveling east, and ran past the house that belonged to Christopher Parker, the grey werewolf.

After David and Sky identified the house, finding information on the homeowner didn’t take much research. Matt compiled all their research and composed a draft of an email that he would send to Sheriff Hanson just before moonrise. After he sent the email, Matt would text the sheriff to ensure the email was received and read. The sheriff would be informed of not just Parker’s information but also of the plans to capture the grey wolf. Hopefully, Sheriff Hanson would devise a plan to keep Christopher Parker, and his wolf locked up. The boys, so far, had not come up with any ideas.

Matt looked at Elias. “The charms have been placed, and I’ve memorized the spells that we might need. I have to say that I’m more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life. We are intentionally trying to lure a murderous werewolf to us. We plan to trap it using spells that we haven’t even been able to test to see if they work correctly.”

Eli took both of Matt’s hands in his. “Those are all valid points. I’m scared, too. Everything that we’ve done so far has worked perfectly. I’m confident we can continue that streak.”

Devon shrugged. “Not to be the Devil’s Advocate, but one could say that because everything has worked perfectly so far, your luck is due to run out.”

“Elias isn’t relying on luck, Devon. Look at what he’s accomplished with Matt and David. Have faith, little brother. The grey wolf is going down.” Sky interjected.

“The moon will start to rise in less than an hour. I can already feel its power. Do you want me and Skylar to stay here or go to the warehouse, Eli? You might need us if you can’t contain Parker, but we still don’t know how much we will be able to control our wolves. We might be a help, or we might add to the chaos.” David said.

“I want you both here in case our spells fail. We need to take the chance that you will have at least as much control as Sky did last night.” Elias said.

“I agree with Eli. I remember everything from last night. It was a conscious decision to do what I did to calm you, David. I acted to keep you safe from hurting yourself against the cage. Plus, it was fun.” Sky grinned. “If you are cured, I think we’d be more useful here than locked in a cage.” Sky said.

Brad spoke next. “What about me, Nathan, and Devon? Don’t even try and tell us to leave. We’re all in this thing until the end.”

Eli smirked. “I knew you’d say that.” He looked at Nate and Devon. “Do you both agree with what Brad said? If either of you wants to leave, this is your last chance.”

“Count me in. I’m not leaving my brother or any of you guys.” Devon said.

“There’s no way I’m leaving. I’ve dreamt of being involved in something like this my entire life.” Nate said.

“It’s not a game or a horror novel, Nathan. If you stay, I have an important task for you.” Elias said.

“Sorry. I know it’s serious. I’m in. What do you need me to do?” Nate said.

Eli tossed his backpack to Brad. “Inside my backpack is all the wolfsbane that you guys cut up. Split it between you three. Once the wolf is here, spread the wolfsbane in a circle around the clearing, then light it on fire. Even if Parker breaks free from my spells, he won’t cross the line of burning wolfsbane.” Elias looked at David and Sky. “Stay near the center of the clearing once they light the fire. It shouldn’t harm you if you don’t inhale the smoke.”

“I understand. Hopefully, we have enough control to remember and stay away.” David said.

Sky grabbed David’s arm and leaned against his boyfriend. Sky’s voice was deeper, almost like a growl. “We’re going to find out soon. I feel the wolf stirring inside me. I’m trying to hold him back, but I’m not sure I can.”

David’s eyes were wide with wonder. “The other nights I changed, I blacked out from the pain. This is different. Sky is right. I feel the wolf inside like a separate being trying to break free from confinement. It… he…. I want to howl and run free under the full moon’s light!”

Eli’s eyes lit up, and he looked at Matt. “If these two are feeling the change, Parker must be, too. Get ready!”

Brad tore open the backpack and handed Ziplock bags to Devon and Nate. “Spread out, guys. As soon as we see this freak, get ready to work!”

Then, they heard a bone-chilling howl, and the grey werewolf stepped out of the trees and started walking up the hill.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 16)

Chapter 16

Nancy Holliday stared down at the two boys asleep on her couch. She shook her head and smiled. They found a loophole, like all teenagers eventually will. She told them they couldn’t sleep in the same bedroom, so instead, they slept on the couch. At least they were both still dressed! Nancy used the remote to turn on the tv. The two boys jumped and nearly fell off the couch.

Brad ran a hand through his strawberry blonde locks and yawned as he reached for his glasses. “Did you have to turn that on so loud, mom?”

“If you were sleeping in your own bed, you wouldn’t have heard it.” Nancy arched one eyebrow.

Brad grinned but blushed at his mother’s words. “We did not break your rule.”

“I know you didn’t. I didn’t raise a dummy.”

“Wait! Shh! Shh! The sheriff is on tv!” Nate yelled.

Nancy and the two boys listened in horror as Sheriff Hanson reported the fourth death in the park. It was a teenager, another friend of Brad’s. His name was Justin Thomas. “I’ll make a quick breakfast before I go to the park and talk to the sheriff. I’m afraid to ask what you boys will be up to today.”

Brad looked up from his phone. “I can happily confirm that David and Skylar were not in the park last night, which adds to my certainty that David isn’t responsible for any of the deaths.”

“That’s good news, but we have to find the responsible person. You boys keep doing whatever you’re doing, and I will track the crime scenes like I do for any other murders. You track the wolf; I’ll track the man.”

“That’s brilliant, mom. Sheriff Hanson is doing the same thing. Maybe one of us will get lucky.” Just then, there was a knock on the door. “Who’s here this early?” Brad asked as he jumped up and raced to the door.

Brad walked back into the living room with Terrie Hanson. “Add one more for breakfast, mom,” Brad said.

Terrie grinned at Nate. “I was going to say that you got here even earlier than I did. But now I notice that the couch quilt is pulled down, you’re wearing the same clothes as yesterday, and you have an exceptional case of bed hair! You stayed the night.”

“By the time we got here last night, it was close to curfew. It only made sense to sleep here.” Nate shrugged.

“Anyway,” Brad laughed. “What brings you here this early, Terrie? I thought we were all meeting at the warehouse. Did something else happen?”

“You could say that.” Terrie nodded toward the kitchen. “How much does your mom know?”

Brad sighed. “As of last night, everything. She’s digging into the deaths, and she’s good at what she does. I thought it best to tell her, plus I hate lying to my mom.”

“I’m glad she knows,” Terrie said. “Let’s join her in the kitchen. I’ll tell all three of you my news.”

Nancy slid a plate of waffles and cut up strawberries to each of the three teenagers sitting around her table. “Ok, give it to me. What else do I need to know before I go to the park?”

Terrie took a deep breath and told the other three everything she discovered about Lilly Monroe, the witch hunters, and her mom. After she finished, she looked at Brad. “Lilly gave me a book about the history of witch hunters and how to become one. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Obviously, I couldn’t hunt Matt or any of our friends. Now that I know that I can use the same ritual to become a witch protector, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be just like my mother.”

Nate leaned forward. “What can we do to help? Can we assist with research?”

“For now, I don’t need anything. If I read anything in this book that needs further research, I’ll text you first, Nate.”

Nancy collected the empty breakfast dishes. “I’m heading to the park. Do you need me to relay anything to your dad, Terrie?’

“No. We talked before I came here. Thanks, Mrs. Holliday. I’ll clean up the kitchen while waiting for the boys to shower and change. Be safe out there.”

Brad grinned at Nate. “Should we shower together to save time?”

Nate laughed. “That would not save time. I’ll shower first. You let everyone know that we’ll be on our way soon. Maybe we can have a plan of action before we get there.”

“Good idea,” Brad said as he took his phone out of his pocket, and Nate ran up the stairs.

Sky yawned and stretched, trying to wake up. His whole body ached, but he thought that might be normal after his transformation last night. Sky’s memory was fuzzy, but he remembered the change’s intense pain. He started to turn over and felt himself press against the warmth of another body. Sky blinked his eyes open and found himself wrapped in David’s arms.

David woke up, and the first thing he saw was Skylar. He smiled. “Good morning, beautiful.”

“Good morning. Such a nice way to wake up.” Sky pulled David’s arms tighter around his body, and David kissed the side of Sky’s neck. Then they heard voices and the sound of someone clearing their throat.

“I’m glad you two are so comfy but don’t forget that you’re naked and still in the cage.” Matt laughed. “I’ve unlocked the gate and set your backpacks inside whenever you’re ready.” Matt tossed a couple of blankets to David. “Just cover yourselves. We’ve seen enough. Too much, actually!”

“Hell yeah! Way too much! Horny devils!” Devon laughed.

David caught the blankets and handed one to Sky. “Do you remember last night? I remember them putting you in the cage and then waking up with you in my arms.” David frowned.

“I remember images and emotions. But, more and more memories are coming back as I focus.” Sky said.

“What do you remember? Did we…?” David blushed.

“Yes!” Matt, Devon, and Elias yelled in unison.

“It was like nature documentary porn!” Devon groaned.

Sky blushed. “I remember now.”

“Elias has a video,” Matt said.

“What?! Why?!” David said, eyes wide.

“In case you two couldn’t remember. I thought you might want to see.” Eli shrugged.

David stroked the side of Sky’s face. “Ignore them, babe. What do you remember?”

“Let’s get out of this cage.” Sky said. He stood and wrapped the blanket around himself. Sky picked up his backpack on his way out of the cage and sat at the table where the other boys had played gin rummy all night long. He looked from face to face and then focused on David. “It was strange. I felt like me, only different. I was stronger, more primal, but I knew that I was still me. I was a wolf, but I was still Skylar.” He held tight to David’s hands. “When they first put me in the cage, your wolf was angry. All he wanted was to get out of the cage and hunt. I’m not sure how I knew, but I knew he was angry and hungry and wanted to get out of the cage and run free.”

“I didn’t hurt you, did I?” David asked.

“No. Absolutely not. When I looked into the wolf’s eyes, I knew that I was looking into your eyes. Somehow, I could sense that the wolf was in charge, but you were in there fighting for control. Once I was sure it was you, I knew what I needed to do to calm you.”

“What did you do?” David asked.

“I submitted myself to you, both as a member of your pack and as your mate. Wolves mate for life, by the way. You’re stuck with me now.” Sky grinned and blushed at David.

“I wish I could remember!” David’s head spun toward Elias. “Why can he remember, but I can’t?”

“I have some theories that align exactly with how Sky describes things. My theory is that when you bit Sky, you passed the werewolf gene on to him, but not the curse. All the stories about werewolves in the witch’s journals have led me to believe that the wolf and the man maintain a symbiotic relationship. The curse is what put your wolf in control, David. It makes you more primal, more instinctual. That would explain the wolf’s focus on freedom and hunger.”

“Does that also explain why I can’t remember, but Skylar can?”

Eli shrugged. “It makes sense. The wolf is the dominant personality for you, so you can’t remember. For Sky, he is in control or, at the very least, a co-equal partnership. Therefore, Sky retains the memories.”

“We really need to cure me of this curse,” David grumbled.

“We need a three-pronged focus today. One group working on potions and spells for your cure, one group collecting the supplies I need for the werewolf trap, and the final group searching for the wolf in human form.” Elias said.

“Do you think there’s anything else different about me?” Sky asked.

“There are stories of wolves changing in daylight. Other stories about partial changes, and we know that the wolf that bit David changes completely into a wolf. The two of you changed into what resembled horror movie werewolves. We may not know what you are capable of until you do it, Sky.”

Skylar sighed. “I guess I hoped you had an instruction manual.” He laughed.

“Not at all, but I will help you as much as possible.” Elias looked from Sky to David and back. “I will not abandon either of you no matter what.”

The two boys each put a hand on one of Eli’s shoulders and said in unison. “Thank you, Elias, that means a lot.”

Devon leaned forward. “So, who does what for these three tasks?”

“We’ll decide that at my house. Brad, Nate, and Terrie are meeting us there. While David and Sky get dressed, we’ll pack up everything else, and then we’ll meet the others at my house.”

The two groups of friends arrived at Eli’s house at nearly the same time. They all went into the house and gathered in the living room, just like last night. Terrie sat on the ottoman right in front of Elias, and she took his hands in hers.

Terrie took a deep breath. “Elias, I am starting to think that we were all fated to find each other. We have deeper connections than we ever knew.”

“What do you mean? What else have you discovered?” Eli asked.

“Lilly was at my house yesterday. She took me to her home. Lilly’s intent was to convince me how dangerous the supernatural is. My intent was to gather information to help you guys. What we discovered surprised us both. Lilly has a secret sub-basement full of tools to fight all manner of creatures. Witch hunters, I guess, is a generic label. Hunters fight all of the supernatural. Prime example, there was a case full of wooden stakes. Vampires are real. Who knew?” Terrie shrugged.

“I wonder what else is out there,” Eli said, his eyes full of wonder.

“Well, there were also shelves full of books in the basement. When I approached one of the shelves, I felt a tingly sensation all over my body.”

“Are you ok? What was it?” Matt interjected.

“I’m fine. It was a spell designed to only let those with witch hunter blood approach the bookshelf.”

Eli’s eyebrows scrunched together in concentration. “Does that mean that you are descended from hunters?” The room went silent.

“It does, but there’s a catch. My mom had hunter blood. Her ancestors, going back generations, were all hunters. My mother became best friends with someone she later discovered was a witch. She knew that woman to be a good person. My mom cast a spell when she found out that the hunters were going after her friend. She bonded herself to the witch as the first witch protector in a thousand years. Elias, the witch that my mom bonded herself to was your mother, Marie Carrier. My dad told me that my mother didn’t die in a car accident, as I was told. She was killed by the hunters. She died trying to protect the same coven you and Matt are now rebuilding.”

“I’m not even sure what to say to that. I’ve read about protectors, but only in the oldest journals. My mother’s journal said nothing, though it ends rather abruptly, probably with her death. Her spirit has never mentioned it either, but all of our conversations have been about witchcraft and werewolves.” Eli said.

The air shimmered behind Elias, and Marie Carrier’s ghost appeared. The spirit stared at Terrie before it turned to Eli and spoke. “What she says is true. Her mother fought for the coven, and she died a hero. The coven and this house would have been destroyed seventeen years ago if not for Julia Hanson.” Marie’s eyes darted to Matt. “When I sensed that you loved another besides my son, I did not know it was the daughter of the most powerful witch protector in a thousand years. The hand of fate is upon you, Matthew Montana. You and you alone have drawn this band together. It may seem that events center on the wolves or my son. They do not. You are the thread that connects them all. Without you, it all falls apart. Stay strong, Matthew.”

“Well, that’s not too much pressure!” Matt huffed out a laugh as the ghost disappeared.

Hands reached out from seemingly everywhere, patting Matt on the back or knee. David reached over and ruffled his brother’s hair. “We all have your back, Matt. We will find the grey wolf and the hunter, and we will deal with them. We can do this!”

Elias took Matt’s hand and laced their fingers together. He kissed the back of Matt’s hand. “I was pulled into your orbit before we ever met, and I am not even a little bit sorry. David is right. We can do this. With you by my side, nothing is impossible.”

Everyone in the room gave similar statements of support to Matt. He leaned against Eli’s shoulder with tears dripping from his eyes. “I feel the same way about each of you,” He looked around at everyone, then focused on Elias. “What do we need to do first?”

Terrie held up the journal she had gotten from Lilly. “I have my own task.” She looked at Eli. “I may need your help with something, but first, I need more details from this journal.”

Elias nodded. “Understood. I will be right here. Matt and I will be researching spells and gathering ingredients. I need to refine the curse breaker spell, and I need a werewolf charm spell.” Elias looked around the room. “Brad and Nate, take the wolfsbane map. Find as much as you can, but make sure it is tightly sealed before bringing it back here. The scent alone could make our two wolves sick, and speaking of our werewolf friends,” Elias smiled at David and Sky. “You two get to hunt.”

Sky smirked. “Fitting, but we may need more instruction than that.”

“I’m referring to the wolf, for now. We’ll deal with the hunter if we must. I’ve marked a map with all known or suspected locations where the grey wolf has been. I’ve marked your aunt’s house, and all four kill sites in red. Brad, Nate, and Devon found a lot of reports of large animal sightings and unexplained livestock deaths. I used their research to mark all those on the map in blue. As you will see, they are surprisingly close together. It should give you guys a strong starting point.”

“We’ll do what we can except knock on doors and ask if any werewolves live there.” David laughed.

“We’ll do some sniffing around.” Sky smirked. “My senses are enhanced even in human form. I’m not sure exactly what we’re looking for, but maybe we’ll know it when we see it or smell it.”

David, Sky, Brad, and Nate all left the house and went about their tasks. Terrie settled in on the couch with the hunter’s journal, and Matt sat next to her with his own pile of books to research charm spells. Eli wandered into the kitchen to gather supplies for the curse breaker spell.

Sky and David sat in the file room of the Roxbury Falls town hall, looking at deed after deed. It wasn’t the search they expected, but after they had walked around the park for an hour without a clear plan, David called Aunt Nancy. He explained to her that they wanted to narrow down who might be the werewolf, but all they had to go on was a map of the kill sites. Nancy suggested that they check the homeowners in their search area, then narrow that down by who lived there the longest. Once they had fewer houses to check, they should start with the ones in the center of the search area and work their way out.

Now, three hours later, they had a list of eight names. Five were married couples with children. Three homeowners were single males, so they had three possible suspects or three wild goose chases. David sighed. “I don’t know how Aunt Nancy does this kind of stuff all the time. It’s mind-numbing! Plus, we don’t even know if one of these guys is our guy or if we’ve wasted the entire day!”

“It’s still early. Let’s swing by all three houses and see if anything sticks out as weird.” Sky shrugged. “It couldn’t hurt.”

“I was thinking the same thing. If we can get a name and address, it will help when Elias sets up the traps.”

“First step, 96 Mitchell Lane.” Sky said as they left the town hall.

Brad snapped the lid shut on the Tupperware container, and he looked over at Nate. “Do you think this is enough, or should we go to the last field on our map?”

Nate took out his phone and snapped a pic of the three containers of wolfsbane that they had collected so far and texted it to Elias. A reply came back in seconds. Nate looked up and grinned. “We’re done. Eli said he could kill five hundred werewolves with what we have. But if there were five hundred werewolves, Eli would leave town without stopping to make potions.”

Brad rolled his eyes and laughed. “That sounds like Eli. Let’s get this stuff back to the house. Maybe we’ll have time to finally eat unless he has anything else for us to do.”

“I like that plan.” Nate grinned.

Brad and Nate walked into the kitchen and set the containers of wolfsbane on the counter. Brad leaned against the counter next to Matt and nodded toward Elias and Terrie. “That sounds like an intense conversation.”

“Yep. I’m staying over here until those two decide what to do. I am not getting in the middle of Eli and Terrie.” Matt said as Nate joined them. The three boys stood back and listened to their friends talk.

“Come on, Elias! We have to at least try!” Terrie said.

“If you knew how many defensive spells she has set up or where they all are, I would be more inclined to say yes. If I miss just one, we could alert her to our presence, or worse, it could be dangerous to someone like me. Hunters would likely have anti-witch barriers in place.”

“There’s so much in that basement that we could use. I saw a sword made of pure silver.”

Eli sighed. “There is a spell that I found that could make other spells visible. I’m not saying yes, but if we go, you do not question my judgment if we encounter a spell that I can’t nullify. We stop and return here. Do you accept that as a condition?”

“If that’s the closest thing I’m going to get to a yes, then I accept. Can we go now? I can call my dad and make sure she’s still at the station.” Terrie said.

Matt interjected. “No. Hold on. If the two of you are rushing off into danger, I have my own condition.”

“You are NOT coming with us,” Elias said forcefully.

“I one hundred percent agree with Eli. There is no reason for you to put yourself in danger, Matt.” Terrie said.

“While I struggle to not be offended by that, can I say what I actually intended to say now? Is this what life with the two of you will be like? A life of unfinished sentences?” Matt smirked.

“You may continue, my love.” Elias and Terrie said in unison, then blushed at each other.

Matt looked at Terrie. “I don’t trust either of you to call for help. I want to know that you are safe. You said you found the spell you were looking for. Bond us. Become the protector of the Roxbury Falls coven just like your mom was. Do this before the two of you run off into danger. If I can sense you through the bond like I can Eli, I will feel better about letting you do this.”

Terrie looked at Elias. “Do you think the changed wording for the first spell will work?”

“Yes, and I have an idea for the second one. I’m prepared if you’re both sure this is what you want.”

“I’m ready,” Terrie said.

“What do I need to do?” Matt asked.

“For now, sit there and look pretty,” Elias smirked. “Then, when we start the second spell, it will be nearly identical to when we bonded.”

“Should me and Brad leave?” Nate asked.

“Not necessary. Just don’t touch any of us. I’m not sure what would happen.” Eli said.

“Got it. No touching.” Brad huffed out a laugh.

Terrie and Eli started setting up the circle where the spells would be performed. First, they set out the herbs and lit the incense for Terrie’s witch protector spell. Once they were ready, Terrie stepped inside the circle and inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the incense smoke.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 12)

Chapter 12

David let the hot water cascade over his body. He watched the shampoo and soap mix with the reddish-brown water as it all swirled down the drain. He wracked his brain trying to remember where he had been tonight. His last clear memory was of Sky. They’d had dinner and then they went to the park and then… what? Had he hurt Sky? He couldn’t remember. Texting Sky would be the first thing he did when he was out of the shower.

Three nights, three blackouts, and three times waking up covered in blood. Matt’s idea was ridiculous and impossible, but it was also the idea that ran through his own head. Skylar told him not to think that until all other possibilities were ruled out. It looked like that time was now. A werewolf. Was it too late to convince Matt that he was just trying to fit his own nightmares into David’s reality? How much did Matt know? He’d have to have a long talk with Matt when he got out of the shower. He just couldn’t have that conversation standing there naked and covered in blood.

David stepped out of the shower and toweled himself dry. He slipped on a pair of sweats and went back into his room to talk to his brother.

—————————————————————————

As soon as David closed the door, Matt leaped to his feet. “David, you have to listen to me. I never told Brad that the wolf in my dream had blue eyes and now he says he has seen a blue-eyed werewolf and has pictures of it! And I know that it was a wolf and not a dog that bit you in the backyard. Add that in connection with what’s been happening with you and how can it be anything else?”

“Matt, werewolves don’t exist outside of stories. I can’t explain my lost time, and yes, I am very concerned about waking up covered in blood. But a werewolf? Come on.” David sat on his bed while Matt paced back and forth in front of him.

Mat stopped directly in front of David and held up both hands clenched into fists. He raised one finger with each point he made. “Gramps’s stories. My dreams. The wolf biting you. Your lost memories. The blood. The animal attacks in the park. And Brad seeing the blue-eyed werewolf.” Matt shook seven fingers in front of his brother’s face. “What more proof do you need, David?”

“I…” David sighed. “Ok. I have considered it. I’ve even talked it over with Skylar. I didn’t want to worry you. There has to be another more rational explanation.”

David sighed and looked up at his brother. “Stay with me tomorrow night. Record me all night. Brad too. Even if I’m not a werewolf, I may be dangerous in my sleep. The blood worries me most of all. Especially with the deaths in the park. I don’t want to believe that I’m responsible, but I guess we have to be sure. Will you do that for me? You and Brad record me all night?”

“Of course, I will, David. It’s kind of scary. We should do it somewhere else though. Not here. Somewhere safe just in case I’m right. Don’t you agree?” Matt asked.

“Yeah. I’ll meet you guys at the abandoned warehouse down by the school at six. Okay?” David ran a hand through his still damp hair, concern evident on his face.

Matt’s brow furrowed while he considered the meeting place. “That’s as good a place as any I guess.” Matt glanced at the clock. “It’s almost morning. Thank God it’s Saturday or it would be almost time for school. I’m going back to bed. I’ll see you in a few hours, David. Try and get some sleep. You look exhausted.” Matt turned and left the room.

David flicked off his light and lay down on his bed. He stared at the ceiling and thought about everything his brother told him. He was anxious to see the photos that Brad took, even if they were super blurry. David did not want to even consider the possibility that he was a werewolf. Not only was it ridiculous, but if it was true, then that meant that he had killed two or, more probably, three people. That was just unthinkable. There had to be another explanation.

Considering the hour, he doubted that Sky would be awake, but he couldn’t fall asleep without sending his boyfriend a text. He was just too afraid that he possibly hurt Sky. He knew he would never be able to live with himself if that happened. He didn’t expect an immediate response, but he sent it anyway.

David: Hey. I need to hear from you as soon as you get this. I don’t care what time it is. I                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            had another blackout. The same thing happened. I woke up the same way again.                                                                                                                           My brother found me this time. Please call. The last thing I remember is I was                                                                                                                                             with you. I hope I didn’t do anything to you, Sky. I love you.

David set his phone on the nightstand and closed his eyes. He tossed and turned, trying to force himself to fall asleep. He nearly jumped out of bed when the text alert on his phone notified him of a new text message. He glanced at it. The message was from Sky.

Sky: I’m ok. I haven’t been able to sleep all night, though. I’m not hurt, but there is a lot                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   that we have to talk about. I’ll be over your house in a few hours. Try and get some                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             sleep. I’ll text you when I’m on my way. Good night, David. Or morning or whatever                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             it is. Haha. See you soon. I love you, too.

David could tell that something had happened, but at least Sky was ok, and he was coming over to talk. David closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.

————————————————————————————————————

After Matt left his brother’s room, he went to his own room to try and sleep. Before drifting off, he sent Elias a text.

Matt: I just found David outside in the bushes. He was covered in blood, dirt, and what                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            looked like chicken feathers. We were right. He’s not ready to openly admit it, but                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   even he knows that something is seriously wrong. I guess he’s already been talking                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               to Skylar about it. He’s had blackouts and memory loss three nights in a row. I have                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               to see Terrie first, but I’ll meet up with you later for sure. Things are starting to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        happen quickly. More and more people are figuring this out. Brad has pics, but I                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 guess they are super blurry. I’ll see you soon. I miss your touch on my skin.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 (Blushing emoji) (Heart emoji)

Less than a minute later, Matt’s phone beeped with a text alert from Eli.

Eli: Wow. Things are happening quicker than even I expected. We can’t let word of this                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        get out to the wrong people. We have to handle this ourselves. It’s almost morning.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I’ll just get up now and get to the research. I miss you, too. See you soon. (Hug emoji)

Matt put his phone back on the nightstand, turned over, and tried to sleep.

————————————————————————————————————

Fresh out of the shower and still fiddling with his hair, Matt went downstairs and into the kitchen. David was already sitting at the table, eating a bowl of cold cereal.

“Where’s Aunt Nancy?” Matt asked.

“She’s in her home office. I think she’s going to go pick up Brad soon.”

“Did you get ahold of Sky last night?”

“Yeah. He was a little mysterious about it. I’m going to meet him in about an hour.”

“He was cryptic in his texts to me, also. He might have seen you transform. I know you’re not ready to admit what we both know you are yet, but too many pieces are falling into place. We have to decide what to do before the moon rises tonight.”

David sighed, his eyes downcast. “I know. I know. Let me talk to Sky, and then we will both meet up with you and discuss everything.”

“That sounds like a good plan. You talk to Sky, and I’ll find out exactly what Brad knows. I also have to meet up with Terrie and have a completely different kind of stressful conversation.”

“Everything ok, little brother? Trouble in paradise?”

“I…” Matt sighed, looked down, and blushed a deep scarlet. “I almost kissed Eli last night.”

“What?! I thought we always told each other everything. I didn’t know you were bi! What happened?”

Matt rolled his eyes. “You know I hate labels. I don’t think bisexual would fit me anyway. I’ve never been attracted to any other guy in that way. I mean I’m not afraid to admit that a guy is attractive, but I’ve never been interested in touching them or kissing them or whatever. There’s just something about Elias. The attraction is intense. He touched me and it felt like my whole body was on fire. I wanted him more than I’ve ever wanted anyone, more than I’ve ever wanted any girl, even more than I want Terrie. I guess, if you have to put a label on it, I’m pansexual more than bisexual. I want him because he is Elias, not because he is a guy.”

“And you’re going to tell Terrie?”

Matt shrugged. “I have to be honest with her. Hell, I don’t want to break up with her. I really like her a lot, but I really like Eli, too.”

“Good luck with that, little bro. I doubt that either one of them will let you date them both. I know I wouldn’t stay with Sky if he was dating someone else!”

“You’re probably right. I’m just going to talk with her, be honest, and tell her everything. I’ll see where things go from there. There’s other stuff that I need to tell you about Elias. He is deeply involved in all this werewolf and curse stuff. When I meet up with you and Sky later, I’ll tell you both at the same time. I might even bring him along.”

“It feels like we’re living in a movie. I can’t believe this is all real.”

“What movie are you boys living in now?” Aunt Nancy asked as she walked into the kitchen.

“Not sure what we’ll name it yet, but I’m ready to change the channel.” Matt quipped.

Nancy laughed. “Do either of you need to be dropped off anywhere? I’m heading over to the Hanson’s to pick up Bradley.”

Matt stood up. “I need to talk with Brad before I meet up with Terrie, so I’ll go with you.”

“I’ll just hang here and chill. I’m meeting Sky in an hour.” David said.

“How much trouble is Brad in?” Matt asked his aunt just as they pulled into the Hanson’s driveway.

Nancy’s expression grew thoughtful. “I’m not making a decision on that until I talk to the sheriff and see those alleged werewolf photos, but regardless, he’s in big trouble for running off and putting himself in danger without telling anyone.

“Such a crazy story.”

“People deal with tragedy in a lot of different ways.”

“I get that. So much has happened in the last six months. I can barely wrap my head around it.”

Nancy put a hand on her nephew’s shoulder. “If you ever need to talk, I’ll listen. You know that, right?”

“Of course. Thanks, Aunt Nancy. Anyway, we’re here. Let’s go get him.” Matt smirked.

————————————————————————————————————

Matt knew he’d get more information from Brad alone, so, while Aunt Nancy marched straight into the den to talk to Sheriff Hanson and Brad, Matt snuck off into the kitchen to find Terrie.

Terrie jumped up from the table as soon as she saw Matt enter the room. She rushed over and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Hey, you. I didn’t expect to see you for another couple of hours.”

“I came with Aunt Nancy to pick up Brad.” Matt rolled his eyes. “I didn’t even want to witness that reunion, though. I’m excited to hear about what he saw last night, but I’ll talk to him when we’re alone.”

Terrie huffed out a laugh. “You should have just waited for him at home then. Less chance of getting caught in the crossfire.”

“He texted me. He’s going to have her drop him off at the library. He plans to tell her it’s for a school assignment, but it’s for more werewolf research.”

“I still have a hard time believing that we’re seriously considering the possibility of werewolves. Did you find anything out from Elias last night?”

Matt couldn’t hold back from blushing. “I… yeah. A lot happened last night. We’ll talk at lunch. You’re still meeting me down by the lake at noon, right?”

She smiled up at him. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world! It’s our first real date.” She ran her fingers through his hair and pulled his face down to hers. Their lips met in a kiss that started tender and quickly turned passionate. The sound of someone clearing their throat from the kitchen doorway caused Matt and Terrie to separate and look guiltily toward the sound.

Brad stood there, grinning. “You ready to go, Matt, or do you need a condom and another twenty seconds?”

“Shut up, perv.” Matt rolled his eyes. “Ignore him, babe.” Matt said, turning back to Terrie. He leaned down for one more quick kiss and then left with his cousin.

————————————————————————————————————

“The library closes at three on Saturday. You better be home before three-thirty, Bradley.” Nancy said just before the boys got out of the car.

“Yes, mother. I’ll go straight home when I’m done with my research.”

The boys sat down on the front steps to the library, and they both sighed. Matt looked over at his cousin. “You didn’t just lie to your mom, did you?”

“Nope. I said I’d be home when I’m done with my research. I never mentioned the library or what type of research.”

“Clever. So, I have a lot of news to share, but I want to hear about your close encounter first. Do you have the photos with you, or did you leave them with the sheriff?”

“I gave my thumb drive to Sheriff Hanson, but you couldn’t see much anyway. Just a big brown blur with two little blue blurs for eyes. Let’s wait on the story until Nate and Devon get here, so I don’t have to tell the same story two or three times in a row.” Brad laughed.

“That’s fair.” Matt said with a grin. “I feel the same way about my news. We really need to get everyone together. So much is happening so fast.”

“It’s so crazy. I can’t believe it’s real.” Brad looked at his phone. “Nate and Devon should be here any minute.”

Just then, Devon walked around the corner and up onto the steps of the library. “Are you using my name in vain again, Holliday?” He smirked.

“Every chance I get. It’s about time you got here.”

“Looks like I beat your boyfriend here, so shut your face.” Devon’s smirk turned into a wide smile. “Hey, Matt, what’s up?”

Matt looked surprised. “Boyfriend?” His head swiveled from Devon to Brad and back again. “I thought I only missed updates on research. What’s this about a boyfriend?”

“He’s not my boyfriend. At least not yet.” Brad blushed.

“Who? Who isn’t your boyfriend yet? What did I miss?”

“Well, duh! He’s the only other person who isn’t here yet.” Brad rolled his eyes.

“You mentioned someone named Nate.” Matt shrugged. “Have I met him? Does he go to our school?”

“No. That’s true. You probably haven’t met him. So much has happened, it seems like you’ve been here forever, and not just a few days.”

“So? Who is he?”

“He’s the assistant librarian now. He’s older than us. He graduated last year.”

“Did you guys ever date? Were you friends? Two years older isn’t really that much.”

“I barely knew him. I mean, I knew who he was, but we weren’t close. Now shut up, here he comes!”

Nate walked up and smirked at the three boys waiting on the steps. “Gee, I’m not used to so many eager faces waiting to get into the library on a Saturday morning.” His gaze stopped on Matt. “You must be one of the Montana’s. Matt I’m guessing. I’m Nathan or Nate. I’ll answer to either.” He stuck out his hand toward Matt.

Matt shook the offered hand. “Nice to meet you. We were just talking about you. You are everything that I expected.” Matt winked.

Nate shot a look at Brad then grinned at Matt. “I hope you were only told good things.”

Brad piped in. “I barely had a chance to tell him your name before you showed up. He’s exaggerating as usual.”

Nate winked at Brad as he finished climbing the steps. “It’s good to know that I left enough of an impression to be talked about.” Then Nate unlocked and opened the library doors. The other boys followed Nate into the library, and they all settled in at the same table in the research room.

“I may need to be out front from time to time, but I should be able to help in here again, too. What books do you need me to find today?”

Brad spoke up. “Anything you have on werewolves. Specifically related to this area if there’s anything, but werewolves for sure. They exist. I saw it again last night. Possibly a different one, I’m not sure. I took pics, but they are super blurry. The sheriff might try and get them cleaned up for me.” Brad looked right at Matt. “Johnny Hanson was there. He saw it, too.”

“Sky came home from his date early last night, and he was acting weird. He went right to his room. Matt, how was David acting last night after he got home? Did they have a fight?” Devon asked.

Nate was practically jumping up and down. “You saw a werewolf again? Did it attack you? How did you get away?”

“Loud music and yelling. He ran off. I probably got lucky; I don’t know for sure. I think it was a different wolf than the other one that I saw, but I don’t want to believe that there’s one, much less two!”

Matt sighed. “There are two. The monster that bit my brother, and my brother himself.”

All eyes turned to Matt. Brad spoke first. “Do you know for a fact that David is a werewolf? Have you seen him change?”

“I haven’t seen him change, but I dreamt about it.”

“A dream? Come on, Matt, that isn’t proof!” Devon said.

“Elias helped guide my dream last night. It was very vivid. Then, later, I found David outside our house in the bushes. He was nearly naked and covered in blood and what looked like chicken feathers. I’d like to think that the blood was chicken blood, and that my brother isn’t eating people. We need to find out exactly what is going on, and we need to do it fast!”

“Elias was in your dreams?” Brad asked, one eyebrow arched.

Matt blushed. “You were right. I was blind. There’s… something more there. I hope that’s ok with you?” Matt said, looking pleadingly at Brad.

“Oh, wow. I figured that he liked you. I didn’t expect you’d like him back. Yeah, it’s fine with me. No big deal. Terrie might have a different take on it though.”

“I will be having that conversation with her today.” Matt said with a worried expression. “Anyway, I did find out a lot from Eli last night. The curse is real. Eli’s magic is real. That’s where you guys should focus your research, in my opinion. Try and find out as much as you can about the witches. Elias will do research at his house, but the town records and newspapers may say things about the witches that they wouldn’t say about themselves. Knowing both sides is always best.”

Devon looked totally confused. “You’re gay? And you like his ex?” Devon pointed at Brad when he said “his.”

“I am not gay, but I’m not straight. I’m dating Terrie Hanson, at least for now, but I do have strong feelings for Elias Carrier. Call me bi, call me pan, call me whatever you like. I hate labels. I like who I like. That’s good enough for me, and it should be good enough for everyone.”

Nate stood and clapped. “Here, here! Great speech! Everyone should feel that way. I mean labels do sometimes make people comfortable, but if you don’t want a label, society shouldn’t force one on you.”

Matt cleared his throat. “Thanks, but right now the labels that matter are werewolf and witch. There’s a lot more that I need to share with you guys, but there’s also people missing that need to be told. It would be easier to tell everyone at once. For now, you guys research the witches. In particular the coven that lived here. If you happen to find anyone named MaryAnne Carrier, find everything that’s available. Eli’s ancestors were a big part of this. I’ll go have a talk with Terrie about everything. Obviously, I’ll have to talk to her about the Eli stuff, but also, the monster stuff. We need to find out if her father has found anything. I hope she’ll still help us after we talk. Hell, I hope she’ll still date me!”

Nate gave Matt a sympathetic look. “Figure out what you want,” he tapped Matt on the chest with one finger, “before you let other people’s decisions affect what you do.”

“I want them both, but I know that’s unrealistic.” Matt blushed.

“I wouldn’t agree to that, but hey, you never know!” Nate huffed out a laugh.

“I’ll cross all my fingers and toes.” Matt laughed. “Ok, I’m gonna take off. You guys get to the research, and I’ll try not to get murdered by my girlfriend.” He looked at Devon. “Sky was going to meet up with David. If you hear anything, let me know. I’ll do the same if I hear from David. Later we all have to meet up somewhere and share all of our various stories.”

“Definitely, dude. Call us if you wanna bring you girlfriend back here or your boyfriend or both or your brother or whatever!” Devon giggled hysterically.

“On that note, I’m outta here!” Matt said and turned and started toward the door.

“Bye, Matt!” Devon yelled.

Matt turned just before he was out the door. “Later, guys. Good luck with the research!”

————————————————————————————————————

David was nervous and pacing in the kitchen when he heard the soft knock on the door. He raced over and yanked the door open. “Sky! David wrapped his arms around Skylar. “I’m so happy to see you! What happened last night?”

Sky hugged David tight, and then he stepped back. He looked at David with a worried expression. “You don’t remember anything?”

“It’s just like the two nights before. I only remember up until a certain point and then nothing. The last thing that I remember, I was with you. That’s why I was so worried and texted you.”

“You were with me. I know what happened. I know why you are losing time. Our worst-case scenario is true, David, you’re a werewolf!”

David slumped into a chair and took a long drink of water. “I kinda knew. We both did. I guess there’s no denying it now.”

Sky huffed out a laugh. “No. You can’t deny it now. Not only did I witness the transformation, but you also bit me!”

“I bit you? I thought you said you were ok. Sky, I’m so sorry! Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine. At first, I thought you were being a little too aggressive. You barely drew blood. We were kissing, and you bit my lip. I pushed you backward, and I was going to scold you for being too rough, but then I saw you transform. It was scary as hell!”

“I can never apologize enough. I don’t think Hallmark has a “I’m sorry I turned into a werewolf and bit my boyfriend” card. Now I guess I have to worry even more that I may have killed people.”

Sky sighed. “Even after seeing you change; I just don’t think that you would kill anyone no matter what form you were in. Have you checked out the news yet today? We know about the deaths from the other two nights, we should find out if there’s anything else today.”

The two boys walked into the family room and turned on the tv. They sat on the couch, shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. They sat like that for a few minutes, not speaking, just watching the local news reports. David nervously drummed his fingers on his thigh and kept casting furtive glances at Skylar. Sky smiled and turned toward David then clasped David’s hand within his own. “It’s ok. I’m fine. We’re fine. I know you didn’t mean me any harm.”

“I could have hurt you, though. I could have killed you.”

“I honestly don’t think you would have. You said that your brother found you this time. Was there anything else different? Did Matt notice anything that you didn’t?”

He found me outside in the bushes underneath my bedroom window, so that was different. He also said that Brad took blurry photos of a blue-eyed werewolf. I guess people are starting to piece things together. I’m really scared, Sky. The only relatively positive thing that I’m holding onto right now is that this time, even though I was covered in blood again, there were lots of feathers around. Matt and I think they were chicken feathers. We hope that the blood was also from chickens.”

“See! It’s still possible that I’m right. Maybe all three nights all you did was raid farms and kill animals.”

“I guess so. We can hope. Hey, wait a minute. Let’s listen to this. The sheriff is on tv.”

The boys listened to Sheriff Hanson talk to the local news. He was standing in front of the park which was almost completely roped off with yellow crime scene tape now. The sheriff looked into the camera and began to speak. “Citizens of Roxbury Falls, it is with a heavy heart that I am speaking to you today. For the third night in a row there has been a vicious animal attack in the park. A third teenager is dead. For now, we are not releasing any names. We are giving the families time to grieve. I am extending the 8pm curfew indefinitely. We believe that there is a rogue bear coming into the park at night to hunt. We ask that you do not go and hunt this animal yourselves. We are searching for the bear, and we are confident that it will be found and destroyed very soon. If you spot a bear, or anything else suspicious, please report it to the sheriff’s office immediately. Thank you for your time.” The sheriff turned, ducked under the crime scene tape, and walked into the park.

“A third teenager is dead! There was an attack last night. What if it was me, Sky? What if it really was me?”

“You said that Matt has more information, and Brad has photographs, why don’t we chill here and try not to think about it until we hear from them. My brother is with Brad at the library, so I’m guessing that he’s in on the research. There’s more than just the two of us to figure this out, David. We’ll help you get through this.”

“Matt has been talking to some kid named Elias about this, too. I guess his family is also tied in with the story of the curse. A week ago, I would have laughed at the idea of a witch, but, hell, now I’m a werewolf. Witches probably exist, too.”

Sky pulled David in close and gave him a quick, tender kiss. “Let’s ‘Netflix and chill’ until they text us.”

David smiled for the first time since the new report. “That is a fantastic idea.” David slid his arm around Sky’s waist and snuggled in close to his boyfriend.

Sky leaned down and softly kissed the top of David’s head. “We will figure this out, babe. I promise.”

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 9)

Chapter 9

Nate raised an eyebrow. “You will have to narrow that down a little bit.”

“Ok. What do you know about the Roxbury Falls alleged werewolf curse?”

“Not a lot. The stories go back over two hundred years. A young witch was murdered. A young Montana was blamed by the witches. The leaders of the town wouldn’t even put the Montana boy on trial, so the witches got justice the only way that they knew how. They cursed him and all his descendants. Supposedly, the eldest male in the family line is cursed to be a monster. They gave him a way out though. The curse would only affect him if he stayed in Roxbury Falls.”

Brad scowled and ran a hand through his hair. He took his glasses off, cleaned them, and put them back on. “With what you know about witches and werewolves, does that seem like a possibility?”

“Anything is possible if magic is real.” Nate said. “However, from everything I know, you have to be bitten by a werewolf to become one, even if you are cursed.”

Brad’s eyes grew wide, and Nate leaned in closer. “What is it? Has David been bitten? Was he attacked before the killings?”

“Could a werewolf take the form of an actual wolf or would it only look like a monster like I described before?”

“The books and movies and even the legends and myths all say different things. I guess it could, why?”

“David was bitten the night before Kim was killed. He said it was a big dog. Matt swore it was a wolf.”

Devon spoke up now, closing the book he was reading. “Are we seriously considering the possibility that my brother is dating a werewolf?”

Brad sighed. “I say that’s another conversation to table for later. We need to prove for sure what we’re dealing with before we jump to conclusions. If it is a werewolf, David is an obvious suspect. Now, Nate, if it is a werewolf, what do we do? Is there a cure? How would we kill it if we have to?”

“I don’t know anything about cures. I don’t know as much about witches and curses as I do about werewolves. As far as killing one, this is where every werewolf story agrees. Silver is the best way to kill a werewolf. Decapitation works, but silver bullets or silver tipped arrows are better, because you have the obvious advantage of killing from a distance. Also, wolfsbane will poison a werewolf and just the scent of it will keep them at bay.”

Devon chimed in. “All the Native American legends that I’ve been reading agree with what he just said about wolfsbane and silver. I googled some pics of what wolfsbane looks like and where we might find some. You know, just in case. I totally expect that the sheriff is right and it’s a seven-foot grizzly, but. hell, research is fun.” Devon laughed.

“What I saw wasn’t a bear. This is exactly why I came here and not directly to the sheriff, Dev. If I can’t convince you, I wouldn’t stand a chance with him. I need food and then I’m going to the park with my camera. I’ll text you tomorrow if I wanna come back to the library.”

“Do you need help taking all these books back before I go, Nate?” Devon asked.

“Nah., I got it. It’s a slow night and I’m here until we close at ten.” Nate said.

Devon got up from his seat. He took all the books he had been going through, put them into one stack, and turned to leave. He looked back and smirked. “You two boys behave after I leave.” Then he was gone, leaving Nathan and Brad alone in the research room.

“Are you taking off, too?” Nate asked Brad.

“Soon. I can help you put these books away first. We took a lot out.” He waved his hand at the table littered with books.

“I don’t mind. It was fun. I love talking about werewolves, and the possibilities that you brought up are equally frightening and exciting. “

“Just frightening if you ask me.” Brad chuckled then his face turned serious. “Did you really have a crush on me last year? I mean, I was a nerdy sophomore, and you were a popular senior. Why would you like me?”

Nate took a step closer to Brad with each word he said. “I did… err… I do have a crush on you.” Nate blushed. “You’re smart. You’re sweet. And you are incredibly gorgeous. Why wouldn’t I like you?” As Nate closed in, Brad took a shy step backward until his back was pressed up against the end of one of the bookshelves. Nate reached up with one hand and cupped it along the side of Brad’s neck. His eyes twinkled and he continued talking. “I wanted to ask you to Homecoming, but I found out that you had a boyfriend. Then, I heard you were single, and I was going to ask you to Prom, but I heard all kinds of crazy rumors and figured that you needed time. The breakup with Elias must have been… wait a minute.” Nate let go of Brad as he ran his fingers through his hair and started to pace. “The rumors were about your ex hanging out at the witch house, weren’t they? That house is connected to the witches that were supposed to have cursed your family. Do you think he’s involved in whatever is going on? Is he out to get your family?”

“Nice mood breaker, Nathan.” Brad laughed nervously. “I thought you were just about to kiss me.”

“Oh my, God. I was just about to kiss you! Did you want me to?” Nate sat back against one of the tables. “I’m an idiot and I’m easily distracted.”

“I did. I mean I do want you to kiss me. You missed your chance for tonight, though. It’s getting close to sunset. I was here longer than I expected to be already. I’ll grab some Burger King for dinner and bring it with me to the park. To answer your question, do I think Eli is out to get my family? No. He does know stuff about the curse that isn’t in these books. Matt is at Eli’s house right now. I think Elias truly wants to help us find out what is going on. Matt is handling that investigation, and I am here.”

“I’m glad you’re here and not with him.” Nate got a dreamy look in his eyes.

“Me too,” Brad smiled and blushed. Brad scribbled something down on a sheet of his notebook paper. “Here’s my number. Text me. You owe me a kiss.”

“Ok. I’ll text you, and I look forward to paying my debt.” Nate said smiling broadly.

Brad couldn’t stop smiling as he ran out of the library.

———————————————————————–

Skylar and David avoided the deeper conversations that they knew were needed, and instead, engaged in small talk as they ate their dinner. “How’s the job at Sonny’s going? A job like that and you probably don’t need a gym membership.” Sky quipped.

“You’re right! My upper body is sore every night. I need to find myself a hot boyfriend who likes to give massages.” David winked.

Sky smirked. “That could be arranged. I’ll swing by the mall and pick up some massage oils. I hear they have flavored ones.”

“That does sound interesting!”

“I’ll stock up on other supplies, too. Just in case. Flavored massage oils could lead us just about anywhere.”

“This massage idea keeps sounding better and better.” David said, pushing his empty plate into the center of the table.

Sky finished off his french fries and pushed his plate next to David’s, He sighed and stared into his boyfriend’s bright blue eyes. “Spill it. Talking about our favorite movies and planning erotic massages is fun and what we should be doing on a date, but I know there are deeper and darker things on your mind. Talk to me, Boo.”

“I…” David stopped and looked around the diner, then started talking again but in a softer voice. “I woke up the same way this morning as I did yesterday. The clothes, the sheets, my body… everything the same. Well, not everything. I wasn’t taking a nap this time. I wasn’t even home. I blacked out right after you left me at the park yesterday. You left, then I noticed Brad and Kevin in the park, then I woke up this morning. Kevin was the last person I saw, and he wound up dead.”

“David, I said it before, and I’ll say it again. I don’t think that you, in any form, could kill. Besides, you saw Brad with Kevin. Brad would have said something to the cops or to his mom if he saw a monster kill his best friend.”

“Ok. You’re probably right. But something happens to me, and it can’t be good with all that blood. I’m scared, Sky. Like really, really scared.”

“Come here.” Sky got up and walked around the table and pulled David into a hug. “Let’s go for a walk. It’s almost six-thirty already and the curfew is at eight.”

“Yeah. I find myself a boyfriend and the town imposes a curfew! Lucky me.” David laughed and the two boys walked out of Will’s Diner.

They walked through the park to the little bench by the lake. Sky leaned against the back of the bench and pulled David close. David leaned in and kissed Sky. “You have more faith in me than I have in myself. What did I ever do to deserve someone like you in my life, Mr. Taylor?”

“You are a good and kind person, David. Everything you’ve gone through, everything you’ve done for your brother, not many nineteen-year-olds would or even could have done that. Then that dick of an ex-boyfriend you had out in California ditched you when you needed support the most. Hell, you deserve someone even better than me.”

“There is no one better than you, Sky.” David said as his hands slid to Skylar’s hips and their mouths met in a passionate kiss.

————————————————————————

Brad was still smiling as he walked out of Burger King with his dinner. Thoughts of his almost kiss with Nathan Burke was drowning out the thoughts of his task at hand. He had fantasized about Nate, but he never dreamed that the older boy would ever be interested. Then Brad met Elias and he’d forgotten everyone else for a while. Thinking about Eli got Brad remembering what he was in the park to do. Was Elias involved? If werewolves were real, didn’t that mean that witches probably were, too? Brad took his phone out of his pocket and considered calling Matt. Could his cousin be in danger from Elias? Eli had been totally focused on Matt ever since Matt got to town. Brad assumed it was a crush, but now he wondered. Brad shook his head. No. There was no way that he could believe that Eli was evil, even if he was a witch. Brad muted his phone and slid it back into the pocket of his jeans.

Brad threw his, now empty, Burger King bag into the trash and settled into his hiding place. He considered setting up close to the lake, but he didn’t want to be too far into the park just in case he needed a quick escape. Brad didn’t want to be an entre on the werewolf menu. He decided on a clump of trees from which he could keep an eye on both main trails, the one that led to the lake, and the one that led into the wooded portion of the park where both Kim and Kevin died. He unpacked his camera from his backpack, and checked and double-checked all the settings and batteries. He also got out a notebook and pen to take notes on anyone or anything that he observed in the park. He took a sip from his water bottle and settled in for what could be a long night.

—————————————————————————-

Elias opened the door and stepped aside for Matt to enter the house. Matt was the first person, other than Eli, to enter “the witch house” in over sixteen years. He looked around. “It looks a lot nicer on the inside that’s for sure.”

Elias shrugged. “I spend a lot of time here. I’ve cleaned it up a bit. I didn’t touch the outside. I’d rather that people avoid it.”

“Is that why you didn’t repair the broken windows? Because the jerks would just throw more rocks through them? Wait a minute. How is it so warm in here? The windows are all smashed and it’s thirty degrees outside.”

Elias grinned. “Magic.”

Matt groaned. “No, I mean seriously. How can…”

Elias cut him off. “Come here.” Eli grabbed Matt’s hand and pulled him over to the closest window. Eli’s eyes were wide with excitement. “Put your hand out the window.”

Matt looked hesitant, but he did it. “Ok, but why…” His hand was barely outside and his eyes snapped open wide with shock and he pulled his hand back inside the house. He cautiously stuck his hand back outside again, and pulled it back in. “What is happening? How is this possible, Elias? There’s nothing here. This is so weird.” He kept sticking his hand back and forth through the broken window.

Elias shrugged. “I already told you. It’s magic. Like you said, if I fixed the windows, they would have broken them again. I wanted to spend time here, so I had to find lowkey ways of fixing things without making the repairs obvious to people that would want to destroy things again.”

“It’s amazing! How do you do it? Can you do other stuff?”

Elias concentrated and waved a hand towards the window. Matt felt a gust of cold air and he shivered. “Woah! Did you make that wind?”

“No. I released the spell protecting the window.” Elias raised his right hand, palm facing the window, took in a deep breath and released it. Matt saw a momentary flash of light in the window and then the cold and the wind were gone.

“You just sealed up the window again, didn’t you?” Matt asked with a touch of awe in his voice. “Can I see the rest of the house now?”

“Yes, I put the spell back in place. I’ll show you around, but I spend most of my time in this room, the kitchen, and one of the bedrooms. I sit in here and read the spell books and the journals. They sometimes describe small statuettes or totems or crystals that have magical properties. I’ve found a few in the house and brought them to this room. Maybe someday, if I find others with magic, I’ll rebuild the coven and fix up more of the house. For now, with just me, there’s no need.”

Matt glanced at the time on his phone. “It’s getting late anyway. We can save the rest of the house for my next visit.”

“Next visit? You… you want to come back?”

Matt grinned and blushed. “Of course. We are friends, right?”

“I wasn’t sure if all of this, or what I still have to tell you would scare you away.” Elias got a serious look on his face and motioned toward the window. “Now that you are more open to believing in magic, we need to talk. Do you want to sit down?” The two boys walked over to the kitchen table and sat on opposite sides, facing each other.

“What do you want to talk about first? I have lots of questions, but it sounded like you had something specific in mind.”

“I do. I’m trying to decide on how to bring it up without upsetting you. It involves you specifically, not the curse or your brother. It’s about you.”

Matt arched an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

Elias folded his hands in front of him on the table and sighed. Let me start with a question. When did you start having your nightmares?”

“I started having the nightmares right after the accident, but the wolf didn’t appear in them until it was a done deal that we were moving here, why?”

“To be clear, the wolf entered your nightmare while you were still in California? Right after David finalized the plans for the move?”

“It was the same night that we officially sold the house and bought the plane tickets. Like a week before we moved. What are you thinking, Eli? Is this bad?”

“I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but what it means is that the curse touched you before it touched your brother.”

“Why would it do that?”

“Maybe as a warning to stay away, and you didn’t listen.”

“I tried to convince David not to come, but he wouldn’t listen. Good things have happened for both of us here. We just have to stop the bad from happening.”

“It might be too late for that, but that’s why we are here right now.” Elias blushed. “There’s something else while we’re on the subject of dreams. I think I had a dream about you. Before I ever saw you. Before I knew who you were. Before I knew you were coming here.”

“What kind of dream? Was it a nightmare like mine?”

“No. It seemed like I was watching you from a distance. Well, I didn’t know it was you. I was watching some dark-haired cutie on a beach. I thought it was gonna be a different kind of dream.” Both boys blushed beet red. “Anyway, in my dream I watch you siting on a beach watching the sun set into the ocean. That was the first thing I noticed, because I’ve never been to the west coast before.”

“What night did you have the dream?”

“Last Friday.”

“That was the night before we flew out. I remember that night. I did go to my favorite beach to watch one last sunset.”

“That makes it even stranger. I’ve never had visions or prophetic dreams before. In the dream, you were wearing tan board shorts and a blue tank top that perfectly matches your eyes. You had a skateboard with you, and it was on your left side. While you sat there, you wrote a name in the sand. I couldn’t see it clearly, but my best guess on the name is “Charlotte.” After the sun finished setting, you got up and walked past a food stand that had a red and white awning. Then it felt like you looked directly at me and said, “Help me. Please.” That’s when I woke up.”

When Elias finished telling about his dream, Matt could barely speak. He sat there for a minute, his eyes wide with wonder and wet with tears. “That wasn’t just a dream, Elias. That was exactly what I was wearing and what I did my last night in California. The name in the sand was Charlotte. She was my little sister. That was our favorite beach. I wanted to say goodbye to her one last time.” Matt reached up and wiped the tears from his eyes. “I never called out for help. That part was only in your dream. Maybe that was why you had it. So, you’d know to help me.”

“I’m so sorry, Matt. I didn’t intentionally intrude on such a private moment. I’ve never had a dream like that before. That’s why I couldn’t keep my eyes off of you that first day in the cafeteria. I knew that you were the boy from my dream, and there you were sitting in the school cafeteria next to my ex.”

“Is that why you’ve been so intent on helping me? The more you explain to me, the less I understand. Your family cursed mine. Shouldn’t we be like mortal enemies or something?”

Elias huffed out a laugh. “I’m helping you because you’re a super-hot skater boy.” He winked and stuck out his tongue. “No. Seriously, I’ve seen hate. I’ve lived with hate my entire life. You and David have done nothing wrong to me or anyone else. I reject the hate of my ancestors, and I choose kindness and love. Starting with this curse, I want to undo as much of the damage that witches have done over the years. Ghost mom is pissed, but I don’t care. She won’t even appear when I try to summon her now.” Elias shrugged.

“That was quite an impassioned speech. I believe you one hundred percent. Ghost mom should be proud of you, I sure am.” Matt smiled.

Elias chewed on his lower lip and looked like he was lost in thought before he finally looked directly into Matt’s eyes. “Feel free to say no, but I want to try something. I’ve read a lot about dreams and nightmares and dream magic ever since I saw that you were real. I think if we can form a mental connection, that I can share your nightmare with you. Maybe I can see something in it that you haven’t, because of your emotional connection to the events. Can we try?”

Matt scowled and thought for a minute. “I have a couple of questions first if that’s ok.”

“Anything, Matt. I want to be an open book to you. Ask your questions.”

“I hope that’s true. I do believe it is. You explained about your dream and that’s how you recognized me in the cafeteria, but how did you know exactly who I was, that I was a Montana, and how did you know that I had an older brother?”

“In the cafeteria, I only recognized you. I asked around about the new guy who was hanging out with Brad Holliday, and I found out that you were his cousin from California. The people I asked only knew that your name was Matt, not your last name. I put that together later, in the diner, when you walked past me, and I felt the dark slippery touch of the curse magic.” Elias shuddered at the memory. “Dark magic has a different feel to it than elemental magic.”

“Am I cursed, too? Will I become a wolf?”

“When I sensed the curse, I cast a spell to look at your aura.”

“You can do that? Will you look at David’s aura?”

“Matt. Please. Let me answer one question at a time.”

“Ok. Ok. I’m sorry. Continue.”

“Where was I? oh yeah. I cast the spell and looked at your aura. Matt, you are surrounded by the inky darkness of the curse, but it can not touch you. That is how I knew you must have an older brother. If you were the eldest, the darkness would have been inside you. That’s not all that I saw, though. You also have a bright glow emanating from the core of your being. It is a warm and comforting light. For now, it is being held inside of you by the dark curse magic. I think that if I can remove the curse, you may have access to that magic. Matt, I think that you are like me, a witch!”

“You think that I have magic? That I might be a with like you? Could the dark magic take over and still turn me into a werewolf?”

“I don’t think that the curse can touch you while your brother still lives. The curse is only designed to infect the eldest. As far as your other question, I think that you must have a witch ancestor. We have to remove the curse before you can even try to access that power. If the elemental magic touches the dark magic, it will become tainted and affect any spell that you were trying to cast.”

“Wow. I’m a little overwhelmed right now but thank you for answering all my questions. I think I’m ready for you to try the dream magic now. Oh wait, if you try to connect to my nightmare, you won’t be tainted by the dark magic, will you?”

“I’ve taken that into consideration. I am confident that I can bond with you and avoid the dark magic.”

Matt shrugged. “Let’s do this.”

Elias took a deep breath and laid his hands face up in the middle of the table. His cheeks tinged with blush. “Put your hands in mine, Matt.” Matt didn’t hesitate. He laid his hands on top of Eli’s and closed his eyes as Eli’s hands closed around his. Then Matt felt the world tumble on its axis, and he was in the car as it rolled over the embankment.

Matt found himself standing on top of the hill, staring down as an all too familiar scene played out below him. He started to scream out his sister’s name, and, for the first time ever, he felt a comforting hand on his arm and a soft voice in his ear. He looked and saw Elias standing next to him. “Eli? You’re here. We did it. Can you… can you help my family, Eli? Please.” Tears were streaming down Matt’s face as he looked pleadingly at Elias.

“Matt, I can’t. I’m so sorry. This has already happened. I can’t alter your past through a dream. We have to let your nightmare play out. I’m here to see if I can see anything about the wolf that you may have missed.”

“I had to ask.” Matt sobbed and leaned into Eli. Elias stood behind Matt and wrapped his arms tight around him for support. It felt good. It felt right. He rested his chin on Matt’s shoulder and whispered into his ear.

“Tell me if you see anything that you’ve never noticed before.”

Wrapped in the arms of Elias, Matt felt safe for the first time in six months. “I will. Thank you, Eli. This isn’t so scary with you here.” Matt let out a contented sigh. “Here comes the wolf.” Matt wanted to close his eyes against the scene that he’d already lived over and over again in his nightmare, but as with every other time, he could not. He watched as the wolf bit his brother and then opened its jaws wide and ate David whole. He started to scream, but he heard Eli’s soothing voice in his ear.

“Shh. It’s ok, Matt. I’m still right here. You’re safe. This isn’t real.”

“Elias? I’ve always screamed and woke up right then, but there’s something else happening. There’s more to my dream than I ever saw before.”

“Keep watching, Matt. This is what I hoped for. Something new.”

“Wait. Look. The wolf that bit David both in the backyard and here in the nightmare, the one standing right there with the bloody jaws, it’s silver and grey, right?”

“Yes. What do you see, Matt? What’s there that has you so worked up?”

“I was always too scared to notice before, plus I woke up, but look behind the grey werewolf. There’s another werewolf lying on the ground. The other wolf’s fur is a light brown, you could possibly even call it blond. I think my brother is a werewolf, Elias, but he isn’t the only one! There are two!”

Matt’s eyes snapped open, and he stood up quick. The force of his backward momentum pulled his hands out of Eli’s grasp. The kitchen chair matt was sitting in was knocked over and Matt lost his balance. His arms pinwheeled as he tried to regain his footing. Just as Matt crashed into the wall, Elias was there. Eli held Matt up by his armpits supporting him against the wall. Elias exerted enough force to allow Matt to regain his balance.

Matt leaned into Eli. “He’s a werewolf, Eli. My brother is a werewolf. I’ve lost so much. I can’t lose him, too!” Matt sobbed.

“You won’t lose him, Matt. I’ll fix this. If it’s the last thing I ever do, I will fix this. I promise you won’t lose your brother.”

“I’m so scared, Eli. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life.”

Eli’s arms tightened around Matt, holding him even closer. Elias whispered into Matt’s ear so close that he could feel Eli’s hot breath against his skin. Each word sent soothing vibrations throughout Matt’s entire body. “Don’t be afraid, Matt. I will make everything right. I will fix this. You’re safe now. You’ll always be safe with me.”