#Chapter 225: Long Shadows
My friends and I sat around the fire, listening quietly to the crackling of the legs and the sounds of the forest around us. It was so pitch black that we couldn’t see anything beyond the dim
orange glow cast by the first.
Everything else beyond that was nothing but inky blackness, despite the fact that the moon was full in the sky. It made no sense; there had to have been some sort of spell on this forest, as though someone was trying to slow us down or get us lost.
We were all exhausted, but none of us felt safe enough to sleep. Every so often, we would hear some sort of strange sound in the forest and we would all leap up out of fear, shining our flashlights frantically into the darkness only to find that nothing was there. It felt like tricks were being played on us. Maybe, if we got tricked enough times into thinking that the sounds we heard were all in our head, someone would ambush us from the shadows. It was like the boy who cried Wolf.
“Um… Maybe we should try to sleep in shifts,” Lori finally said, breaking the silence. “I don’t think it’s super helpful if we’re all sleep deprived. I think we’re starting to see things.”
“There’s no way I’m sleeping out here,” Jessica grumbled as she pulled her jacket closer around her shoulders. “It’s too creepy.”
“I think we should just keep moving,” Matt finally said, standing. “The longer we sit out here, the easier of a target we are to anyone who might want to hurt ” us.”
Luke shot me a glance over the fire. I shook my head; we needed to stay put. I couldn’t quite explain why, but I somehow felt safer staying in one spot. Not only would we just get even more lost in the darkness, but it would be too easy to lose each other if we were inoving. Someone could have easily gotten snatched away if we walked through the dark forest and we would never know until it was too late.
“We’ll stay here,” I said, gesturing for Matt to sit back down. “And if anyone needs to sleep, then sleep. I think we’re safe as long as we stay put and keep someone on guard.”
My friends fell silent. I knew then that none of them were going to rest – not even me. I was more on guard than ever, because I had a sinking feeling that Selena might suddenly show up. Of course I told my friends that we were safer here, but I didn’t think that we were really safe anywhere. I felt as though we were being watched already.
There was no knowing exactly how many minions Selena had in this world. For all we knew, she had an entire army all to herself.
Finally, I felt too exhausted to sit up any longer. I didn’t know how long we had been sitting there, but it felt like we were sitting there for an eternity, and even my back started to hurt from being so tense. Still staying next to the fire, I decided to lay back and stretch out a bit. I let out a bit of a sigh as I felt my back align on the hard ground, and I stared up at the full moon above us.
If only the full moon’s light could have illuminated the forest; then, I would have felt confident continuing on our journey. But I knew that Selena knew we were here. I could sense it. As twins, we were more connected than I had previously realized. I was funny, because I had never once thought that I
had a twin, and I had never felt connected to anyone like that. Somehow, I thought that returning to the werewolf realm after spending more time with Selena made our bond stronger, because I felt a strange connection to her after passing through the portal.
And, not to mention the fact that I had that foreboding premonition when I passed through the portal. It was only for a split second, but I felt an unmistakable feeling of dread. In my mind, a single image flashed for that brief moment: an image of Selena’s body laying next to mine. We were both dead. But I knew that it didn’t have to end up that way. If I could stop her without killing her, then neither of us would die; and yet, if I did have to kill her, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to survive. The bond between us was too strong, and if one of us died, then so would the other. It was fate, and there was no escaping it. I didn’t want to have to kill Selena. And of course, I didn’t want to die, either. I knew that I would try everything I could to not have anyone die, but if Selena simply couldn’t be stopped either way… Then it had to be done. The fate of the world rested on it. I didn’t know if she was working with the Crescents or not, but I did know for sure that she had sinister intentions. She hated my existence, not only because I was a threat to her chances of finding love, but also because I was a threat to her power. I knew that she already had the Alpha King wrapped around her little finger, and there was no telling exactly what she would use him to accomplish. All I knew was that she planned on using him for something bigger and darker than anything the Crescents or the Fullmoons could fathom. Whatever she had planned… would make the war between the Crescents and the Fullmoons seem like child’s play.
Suddenly, my train of thought was broken by another sound in the woods. I instantly shot up, my eyes wide. My friends stared back, their eyes equally as wide as mine. This sound was far louder than the sounds we had heard before, and it lingered even longer.
It was the sound of twigs crunching underfoot.
Someone was coming, and they weren’t stopping.
Without a word, I jumped up to my feet, and so did my friends. Our fight or flight instincts kicked in then, and because we couldn’t flee due to the overwhelming darkness, we had to fight. I just hoped that whoever this was didn’t outnumber us, but for all we knew, there were multiple people. Maybe Selena finally came, and maybe she brought friends. The footsteps approached even closer, slow and steady. A low, thunderous growl rumbled in Matt’s throat as he put himself in front of us, between the rest of us and the intruder. Jessica slowly reached down and grabbed her big, heavy bat flashlight, and Luke and Lori put their fists up instinctively, prepared to fight.
But when the unexpected intruder stepped into the light and showed his familiar face, all of our bodies froze and a chorus of gasps escaped our throats as we saw who it was.
It wasn’t Selena or anyone else. I felt my heart leap into my throat when I saw him, and all of my worries suddenly melted away.
It was Enzo, and his face looked just as surprised and confused as ours.
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