** Continuation of October 16th, 2010 post. Please click here for Chapter 3.
“Yo, Callaghan. You sticking around over break or heading back home?”
Brody straightened to his full six feet and turned to face his best friend Alby as the other teenager appeared in the doorway in faded jeans, sun-bleached t-shirt with the school logo on the left breast and beaten up Reebok sneakers. “Yeah, it’s my Gran’s seventy fifth birthday this weekend and the sisters planned a big dinner party for her.” He smiled, dimples flashing, and turned back to resume his packing. “You staying here?”
At seventeen, Brody’s build showed the promise of being a formidable size when he hit full adulthood. His shoulders were broader than any of the other boys and the muscles from years of playing basketball and the military style drills his father had taught him were better defined than those of his classmates. He wore his medium brown hair short as required for all cadets but today it was covered by a baseball cap with the emblem of his favorite football team, the Chicago Bears.
Classes were out for spring break so the boys were out of uniform and enjoying being able to wear their street clothes for a change. Alby confirmed he was staying at the school over break and watched as his friend dropped a stack of t-shirts into his suitcase next to the pile of jeans which had probably cost more than Alby’s entire wardrobe. He knew his friend would have been glad to lend him anything he wanted to borrow were he not a good fifty pounds lighter than Brody and short enough to fit neatly under the bigger boy’s armpit.
“Go pack a bag Alb. You’re coming with me.” Brody headed to the tiny bathroom attached to his dorm room and came back out with a small toiletry kit which he tossed football style into the suitcase. “Gran likes you and I’m sure the girls can make room for one scrawny punk ass like yours at the table.”
Alby pushed his fingers through the short brush of his dirty blonde hair and smiled, a rosy blush covering his cheeks. Mrs. Callaghan and her granddaughters always spoiled him when he made the trip back to Atlanta with their grandson and brother. “Already done.” He bent and retrieved his dark green duffel bag from outside the door, smile widening as Brody laughed and shook his head. “You never go home without me.”
Brody pulled his black suitcase shut and zipped the edges closed. His friend was right; he always took him along when they were let out on break. Brody could afford to go home on breaks and weekends when he felt the urge to drive the four hours it took to get there whereas the Tennyson’s, Alby’s family, couldn’t afford to fly him back from South Carolina to Arizona more than once at Christmas and again at end of year.
The boys tossed their bags into the trunk and climbed inside the silver and black 1967 Mustang Shelby. AC/DC’s Thunderstruck blared from the sound system as the car peeled out of its parking spot and sped out of the lot. Camden Military School faded into the distance when the boys turned the car toward Interstate 20 and home.
Four hours, and a stop for burgers later, the Mustang with plates that read GRAYWOLF parked in the circular gravel driveway in front of the old Callaghan plantation house. A young girl with hair the color of caramel and warm hazel eyes rose from one of the antique rocking chairs on the veranda and ran down the driveway toward her brother as Brody exited the car. He scooped the petite thirteen year old up and swung her around. “Hey baby girl. Where are the other girls?”
Brody put his younger sister Isobeal down and frowned when he saw the apprehension on her pretty face. She was hedging and he could smell the fear on her as he waited for her answer. The breeze shifted and he suddenly realized why she was taking her time telling him why no one else had come out to greet him. “What’s he doing here Belle? That son-of-a-bitch had better not be in my house or I’ll kill the mutt.”
Isobeal put her small hands in the middle of her brother’s chest hoping to hold him back and stop him from storming up to the house where their oldest sister Siobhan and her mate Calvin were waiting in the kitchen. “She loves him Bro. You know they’ve always had something between them, even before Ma and Dad died.”
“They didn’t die Belle. That bastard killed them.” He looked down at his sister and began walking toward the house, his eyes glowing amber as he fought to stay in his human form. “Did she mate with him? I’ll kill him if she did.” Brody’s voice was the low growl just before a shift and Isobeal stopped Alby from following his friend up the yard.
A tall woman, with her blonde hair in a ponytail appeared in the doorway and Brody stopped cold in his tracks at the sight of the roundness of her belly. Siobhan’s scent carried to him on the breeze and he noted the differences the pregnancy had brought to it. “You can’t kill him, Brody. Your niece needs a father. Come inside and let’s talk about this.”
The muscle in the side of Brody’s jaw twitched. He clenched and unclenched it while he tried to digest the news that his sister had not only married, but was carrying the child of the man who had killed his father in a fight for leadership of their pack. Unable to live without her mate, their heartbroken mother had followed her husband in death a few days later.
“No. I will never set foot in that house again as long as he’s there, Siobhan. Never.” A low angry growl built in his chest until it erupted with a shout as he charged across the yard and tackled the hundred year old oak tree in the middle of the lawn. The impact of a near two hundred pound werewolf against the old wood echoed in the silence of the spring night like the crack of a baseball against a bat.
His aggression spent and left shoulder neatly dislocated, Brody stalked toward his car and Alby to whom he tossed the keys. “Get back in the car, Alb and drive. We’re not staying here with a house full of traitors.”
Alby caught the keys before they bounced off his chest and got behind the wheel. He adjusted the seat, which was as far back as it could go to accommodate Brody’s long legs, and plugged the key into the ignition. The engine grumbled to life as Brody slipped in the passenger side door with a grunt of pain when his shoulder hit the seat. “You going to be okay, Bro? That shoulder looks bad.”
“Just drive. I’ll explain while we’re on the road.” A loud pop filled the silence of the car and Brody growled a curse as his shoulder put itself back in the socket. The amber glow of his eyes shone bright in the dark interior of the car while they drove back through the rich suburbs toward the glittering downtown area.
“Wanna explain what just happened back there and why your eyes look like something I’d find in a wolf man movie?” Alby glanced at his best friend briefly before turning his eyes back to the road. He waited patiently for the answers to his question.
Brody contemplated his words closely as he tried to come up with an explanation for what the very normal, very human Alby had just witnessed. “You know how I always hate watching those stupid were wolf movies? How I keep saying they’re so fake and full of bullshit?” He looked over and noted Alby’s faint nod. “I know they’re full of shit because I am a werewolf, Alb. My whole family is werewolves and you nearly witnessed two alpha males beating the shit out of each other to see who rules the pack. It’s how my Dad died three years ago. I wasn’t big enough then to fight Cal and take over the pack in Dad’s place. Ma died of a broken heart a few days later. I stuck around for their funerals and left before I did something that would get me killed.”
Alby pulled the car over to the side of the road, put it in park and turned to face the boy who was his best friend. “You’re plenty big, Brody. Why not take him down now?”
“Because it would hurt my sister and her baby too much if I did. The pup in her belly is the only reason Cal isn’t dead right now. The pack can’t have two Alphas, Alby. I can’t go back there. Ever.” His eyes searched the inky darkness through the windshield as if the cars passing by or the twinkling lights of the city could tell him what he needed to do now that his family, his home was off limits to him. The metallic glint of his father’s ring on his right hand caught his eye when a car passed by and shone light over the interior of the Mustang. Brody knew then, as he looked at the solid band of gold, what he would do. “I’m enlisting as soon as the semester is over and I’m getting as far away from Atlanta as I can. Hell, I’m getting clear across the country if I can manage it.”
Alby looked up – surprise written clearly across his young face at Brody’s words. They had both talked about going to college after they graduated from Camden; spent days filling out applications and then celebrating when they’d both been accepted to the same school. “What about Princeton? You studied hard to get in there.”
The golden glow from his eyes once again colored the planes of Brody’s cheeks as he turned to look at Alby. “I’m not going. Find a motel or something we can stay in for the night and we’ll figure out what to do in the morning. My head’s a mess right now and I need to think.”
The first motel they found had a room available with two beds and Brody paid cash up front for the night. He flashed his dimpled charmer’s grin at the pretty brunette behind the counter and winked at her in the hopes he could charm his way into getting her to reopen the kitchen and fix them some dinner. Half an hour later, the boys were seated at the small table in their room with a burger and fries in front of each of them while they ate in silence.
Morning dawned bright and early the next day waking Brody with the bright yellow rays of early morning sunshine through the flimsy blue curtains that covered the windows. He stretched and chuckled silently as his feet dangled off the bed clearly made for midgets. A smile curved his lips as he looked over at the other bed and his best friend curled comfortably in slumber beneath the coverlet.
Needing to relax and unleash some of the tension kept in check since leaving his family the day before, Brody slipped out of the room after having changed into a pair of well-worn track pants and a tank top. Gravel crunched beneath his sneakers as he crossed the back lot in search of a secluded area. He spotted a thick covering of bushes behind the motel and headed for them. Once he was sure there was enough cover to hide his transformation Brody quickly stripped and began the shift from six foot tall teenager to large gray-black wolf.
The bones of his body snapped and popped to reshape over muscles that stretched, tore and reformed his body bit by torturous bit until there was nothing left of the brown hair, hazel eyed boy but his mind behind the amber eyes of the wolf that had taken his place. He panted, tongue lolling in the crisp morning air while waiting for his racing pulse to settle into the regular beat of his wolf’s heart.
Taking a moment to acclimate his senses, Brody rose to stand on his furry paws and shook himself to throw off the ghosts of the pain that had ripped through his body. Glossy fur the color of storm clouds before a downpour rustled in the wind as the huge wolf stepped out from the bushes and stopped mid-step to turn back and fix his gaze on the small blonde boy who watched wide eyed from the corner of the building.
Brody barked at Alby and waited for the other boy to make his way over, hand held out as if wanting him to sniff it. A soft chuffing sound emanated from the wolf as brushed his side against Alby’s hip.
Alby smiled down at his friend taking the wheezing noise for the wolfish equivalent of a laugh. “Jesus, you’re huge. Imagine the look on the Commandant’s face if he got a load of you like this, Bro. He’d crap his pants.”
Wolf and boy walked through the trees and scrub in a companionable silence for a while until Alby stopped and leaned against the trunk of an oak tree. “Are you coming back to school with me?”
Brody sat his furry behind amidst the grass and ferns that covered the edge of the path they’d been walking and lifted a dark paw the size of a dessert plate to nudged his friend’s jean clad leg.
“I know you said you’d finish out the semester but I get this awful feeling from you that once we get back – you’re not going to stay, are you?”
A low, frustrated growl rumbled from Brody’s chest. He got back up to all four feet and turned with a swish of his thick charcoal tail back toward the bush where he’d left his clothes. He was thankful for the privacy Alby gave him as he shifted back to human form and hoped the grunts and cries of pain caused by his body reforming didn’t freak the kid out too much.
When Alby came upon him ten minutes later, Brody was lying on the ground, dressed once again and sweating under the early morning sun. “No, I’m not staying. My eighteenth birthday is next month and I’m going to apply to write an equivalency exam for all of my classes. I’ve got the grades. I know I can pull it off.”
Silence stretched between them, pregnant with unasked questions and the answers that would forever change their friendship. “What about your plan to search for Ardeur? We were going to go look for her this summer?”
Brody sat up, got his feet beneath him and rose to tower over Alby. He clapped him on one scrawny shoulder and the two of them turned back toward the motel. The rest of their lives lay ahead and somehow, within twenty four hours, it had morphed into something they had not planned for or imagined. “I’ve got a feeling. Wherever my life is leading me, she’ll be at the end of that road.”
Come back on October 23rd, 2010 for a look at Chapter 5 of Possession is Nine Tenths – Ardeur.
Copyright © 2010 Danielle Gavan
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.