Fur and Skin - Chapter 2
The girl who I saw on the first day of the school year, the one with the old werewolf novels and the sketchbook full of drawings and doodles that seemed to fill her free time, was called Trish. She was fairly attractive, for a human, and intelligent for someone her age. The scar on her lip perplexed me from the moment I saw her, but I didn’t think it polite to ask. She did not strike me as a violent person, so I was surprised when, four weeks after I started sitting with her at lunch, so revealed to me that she had obtained it during a fight at one of her previous schools. Someone had tried to take a very precious book from her arms in the hallway and Trish had defended herself, only to have a lip ring torn out by the young man she was fighting. She said he ended up in the hospital for a few days with a broken nose.
One Friday afternoon, as I was leaving the school grounds, Trish caught my arm.
I turned and looked at her quietly. She seemed out of breath and flustered and, glancing over her shoulder, I saw why. Two young men stood about twenty feet away, glancing over at me and whispering to one another. The taller one was rubbing the knuckles on his right hand and the other was nursing bloody nose. Trish herself had little more than a bruise on her cheek. She swallowed quietly and looked up at me.
“Mind if I walk with you?” Her voice pleaded with me and I sighed, casting a glance at the two young men as they headed towards us. I linked my arm through hers and smiled a bit, nodding.
“Sure.” We turned and made our way down the street, leaving the two young men standing in the school yard. Apparently Trish and I lived in the same direction from the school, for she made no complaints as walked her through the town. It was a small, quiet town that rested in the country a few miles from a very large city. The city was north and to the south and the west, woods stretched on for what seemed to be forever. In truth it was fifty miles and they broke out into a rolling grassy plain that met the ocean. I let my mind wander to the ocean, let it recall the salty and sweet sea air and the scream of the gulls and the warmth of the sand and sound of the waves.
A tug on my arm brought me back from my thoughts. We were standing in front of a very large, very old and very beautiful house. It was centered on a green yard and the walkway up to it was decorated with now wilting roses. A young man stood under one of the front windows, raking dead flowers and leaves. Trish glanced up at the house and then at me, smiling a bit.
“This is me…What time do you have to be home?” There was something in her voice that held my attention, even as something about the house made me want to leave. Maybe it was the thick, musty scent of the dead flowers or the irritating scrape as the worker’s rake caught the edge of the brickwork that lined the flower beds. I shrugged.
“Not for a while. Normally I stop off at the library or meet some friends on Fridays. Why?”
“My mom’s been bugging me about friends. She wants me to bring someone over today so she can meet them. Would you mind..?” She looked up at me and shifted her backpack on her shoulders, glancing from me up to the house. Then I realized what was making me want to stay. She sounded lonely. I could understand why, seeing as the rest of the kids at the school alienated her. It was more than just her mother’s whim that made her ask me. She really did want me to stay. So I shrugged and smiled at her, taking her arm again.
“Thanks.” She closed her eyes for a moment and smiled again as she pulled me up the walkway. I glanced around the side of the house that the back yard was very open. The flat yard, broken only by a small hill, was backed by the stretch of woods that led to the grassy plains. And then I realized, too, why I wanted to leave. Those woods were part of the territory of an enemy pack. Even though we were still partly human, werewolves still thought and acted like actual wolves, steering clear of each other’s packs and territories and prey. I must’ve stopped and my thoughts must’ve been reflected on my face when I realized this, for Trish stopped and looked at me quietly.
“What’s wrong? Have you changed your mind..?”
I blinked a few times and looked at her. I wanted to tell her yes, that I had, that I had to go, but I couldn’t. Instead I just sighed a bit and smiled at her, taking her arm again and walking her up to the door.
“I’m fine. Just a little tired.” She smiled at that and opened the door. The house was just as impressive inside as it was outside. A staircase led up from the entrance hallway, probably to the bedrooms and such. The kitchen was a little further down, the dining room was across from that, and the den was at the very end. The fireplace was lit, I could smell the wood smoke, and someone was watching television. Trish let go of my arm and walked into the living room. A piano stood at the far end of the large room, along with a glass case that held an assortment of flutes, violins and a few small harps. I followed quietly and watched as Trish hugged her mother. The woman turned and smiled at Trish, though the smile was half hearted and wholly fake. She was not pleased with her daughter.
“Mom, this is Jacob.” Trish smiled at me apologetically as her mother turned and eyed my dark clothes and long hair. The woman had dusty blonde hair and tan skin, a sharp contrast to Trish’s black hair and pale skin.
But despite her obvious disproval of her daughter’s choice in friends, the woman smiled and stood, stepping around the couch and offering her hand to me. “It’s nice to meet you, Jacob.”
I smiled and shook her hand, nodding. It suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea what their last name was. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss..?”
She smiled and this time it wasn’t so fake. “You can just call me Dorothy. Trish, are you going to take him to meet your father?”
Trish, who had been in the process of taking off her boots and flipping through the TV channels, rolled her eyes and grunted a bit. “Yes, mother.”
The woman stepped back and sat back down on the couch as Trish took my hand and pulled the up the stairs. The whole house smelled faintly of the flowers outside, but the smell was sweeter and more pleasant. We brushed past a pair vases of blue and black roses. Trish motioned to it and mumbled “my room.” and a few other slurred words. We found her father in a large circular room at the end of the hallway. The walls were stacked with books and the desk was stacked with even more books and the floor under the books on the floor was littered with pictures and maps and charts and other papers I had no time to look at. Her father had the same dusty blonde hair like his wife, which led me to believe that Trish had dyed hers black. He smiled and looked at us over the rims of his reading glasses, closing his book and standing to hug his daughter. His smile wasn’t as fake as his wife’s, but it still held a small hint of displeasure at my appearance. All the same, he offered me his hand and I shook it. He introduced himself as Tim and told me that it was a pleasure to meet me.
Trish hurried me out of the room and down the hall to hers. Dragging me in, she sighed and closed the door, leaning back against it and looking at me. I didn’t see her, though. Her room was big. The wall that faced the back yard, directly opposite us, was mostly window. The thick glass reflected us standing at the door and the rest of the room as well. The window would be covered by thick black curtains when they were drawn closed. A big water bed sat at the far end of the room to the right of us. The pillows and comforter and canopy were all black with white borders. On the left, there was a stereo system and a large rack of CDs. Trish walked past me and sat down on the bed, sighing a bit and looking out the window quietly.
“I hate it here sometimes. Six bedrooms and the most we ever use is three. Four bathrooms, we only use two. I don’t see why my parents had to buy this big house. We didn’t need it.” She looked at me as she spoke and then stood, walking to her closet. It was one of those big walk in closets, but the floor was full of junk. Almost everything from stuffed animals to picture books. A big pair of combat boots thumped onto the floor just outside the closet and she walked back out, holding a knee length skirt decorated with delicate silver chains and a black shirt. The shirt had three rings down the front and a chain was laced through each, linking to a collar and then to her belt.
“What’re you dressing up for?”
“I’m going out tonight. Two friends of mine are taking me out to this little club in the city.”
I watched as she walked past me and out of the room, leaving me feeling rather stranded in very unfamiliar territory. I sat on her bed and waited. When she walked back in, she sat down on the bed beside me and pulled on a pair of black stockings. She put on her boots and stood, the chains rattling slightly as she made her way to the door.
“Come on. I’ll give you a ride home.”
“You can drive?”
She looked over her shoulder at me and grinned. “With a licensed adult in the car.”
I laughed and followed her. “Are you parents coming?”
“No. You have the license.” I was confused at that. I didn’t have a license so what was she talking about? I found out soon enough. She walked into the kitchen and reached up to take a pair of keys off of a board just inside the door. But they weren’t there…She rolled her eyes and stuck her head into the hallway.
“Mom, where’re my keys?”
“In the garage, honey. Where are you going?”
Trish walked down the hallway and opened a door that opened into the garage. She found the keys on a bench beside the door. “Thanks, Mom.”
“You’re welcome, sweetheart.” Her mother appeared in the doorway as Trish climbed into a black Volvo. I was getting in beside her when her mother walked over.
“Where are you going?”
Trish shrugged and cranked up the car as I sat down. “To pick up Val and Jen. We’re going to a party.”
“Okay…Be careful, okay?”
Trish rolled her eyes and nodded, smiling a bit. “Yes, Mom.”
“And no racing this time, alright?”
Trish laughed and closed her door, putting the car in reverse. “Yeah, okay, Mom. I’ll be fine. I’ll call you when we’re leaving.”
She backed the car out of the garage and into the street, turning sharply and heading back in the direction of the school. The streetlights flashed through the windows as we passed. The tense feeling I had back at the house was beginning to fade. After about ten minutes, I managed to actually relax. I looked at her.
She laughed a bit. For some reason, it sent chills down my spine. “Yeah. I’m a bit of a speed demon. I nearly totaled my last car. Broke my collarbone and got cut up pretty badly. Jen and Val weren’t with me, thank God.”
I shivered a bit and looked out the window. Trish stopped the car a few minutes later and hit the horn a couple of times. Two girls came from the apartment building across the street. One of the girls, wearing a simple black outfit and boasting dark purple hair, glanced at me as she passed the passenger side of the car and climbed into the back seat. The other, with a similar simple black outfit and bubblegum pink hair, leaned forward as she climbed in and grinned at me, looking at Trish.
“Finally got a boyfriend, huh?”
Trish reached back and smacked the girl’s cheek lightly, her cheeks pink. “Shut up, Jen.”
Jen laughed and leaned back in the seat, putting on her seat belt as Trish turned the car around and sped down the street. “Just try not to kill us, babe, okay?”
“C’mon. You know I love you guys too much to kill you in a car wreck. Break a few bones, sure, but never kill you.”
That seemed to sober Jen up a bit. Val was silent and I glanced back at her to ask why, only to find that she was asleep. Trish followed my gaze and smiled a bit, looking at Jen in the rear view mirror.
“Another late night?”
“Yeah. She ended up staying at work late last night. Her boss won’t give her enough hours for that promotion, so I don’t know what to do. We’re having a hard enough time paying the rent.” As she spoke, Jen reached over and brushed a lock of purple hair from Val’s face. Trish sighed and stopped at a red light.
“I keep telling you, come stay with me. We’ve got more than enough room.”
“Yeah, and what of your parents? They hate us, remember?”
“Forget what they think. I can always threaten to drop out of school and start dealing drugs if they refuse.”
Jen grinned a bit at that and shook her head, looking out the window. “Nah. We don’t want you to get into trouble.”
Trish opened her mouth to reply, but a black car pulled up beside us. It revved the engine a few times and the window rolled down, revealing the face of one of the young men from earlier that day. The sun was going down and in the twilight, you couldn’t see the bruise on his nose. He revved the engine again, glanced at the stoplight, and then looked at Trish. She revved the engine a bit and grinned, looking ahead. The light flashed yellow. Jen reached up and laid a hand on Trish’s shoulder.
“Relax, babe. I won’t wreck. Promise.”
“Trish…” I reached over and grasped her arm. She looked down and then up at me. I didn’t want her to crash and kill herself. But she shook our hands off and looked forward. The excitement was still there, but her expression was now a glower. She revved the engine as the light flashed green and released the break. The car shot forward before she hit the break again, letting the black car speed forward down the road. She eased her grip on the steering wheel and looked into the back seat. Val had been thrown forward against her seat belt and was hanging her head in her hands. Trish pulled forward out of the inter section and parked by the sidewalk, undoing her seat belt and reaching into the back seat. She smoothed Val’s hair against her head and looked at her quietly.
“Sorry.” She got out of the car and slammed the door behind her, walking down the road a few steps and hanging her head in her hand.
“You guys okay?” I looked into the back seat. Jen was holding Val and she looked up at me, smiling a bit.
“Yeah. We’re fine. Check on Trish.”
I nodded and climbed out of the car, walking towards Trish. She sighed and looked at me as I came closer. She seemed irritated, but smiled and shook her head before I could speak.
“I’m fine, let’s go.” She turned and walked past me, grabbing my wrist and pulling me along. She climbed back into the driver’s seat and I got in beside her. Val had fallen back asleep and Jen was staring out the window. We rode on in silence, listening to the radio. The sun had gone down by the time we reached the city. By the time we parked in front of the small club, it was cold and our breath misted in the air. Inside a mass of bodies seethed as people danced to the thumping music blaring from speakers set at regular intervals in the ceiling. We made our way towards a bar at the back of the building and the three girls took seats on the stools. I simply stood beside Trish, leaning back against the bar and watching as Jen and Val went off to dance. Trish watched them too and tugged my sleeve, pointing my attention to a dark haired young man coming our way.
The little hairs on the back of my neck as I saw him. His eyes were the same cool green-blue as mine and his hair was longer. My older brother, Anthony, stopped in front of me and looked from me, to Trish, and then back to me. I hate him, the way he always sneered at me as if I was still just a pup. In truth, I really was, but I wasn’t far from the end of my young years.
“Well, brother, I see you’ve finally found a girl. And won’t mother and father be so glad to see that she’s a…girl.”
Trish looked at him as if he was an idiot and I would’ve laughed at the look on her face, had I not understood the meaning of the word. A girl, a human. A young female human. Trish was my friend, not my mate. Why was I offended at my brother’s words? It didn’t matter. I leaned up in front of the bar and shook my head. My brother took a step back, the sneer still on his face, challenging me. Trish turned away from us and said something, but I didn’t hear her. I was too focused on my brother, the man who had made my life miserable so far, who had betrayed our pack and our laws. I was facing the man that I would one day kill.