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Jan 6, Forever Maggie Stiefvater Pdf Ita - Ford Mondeo Titanium X 08 Owners Manual. Forever: lesforgesdessalles.info back to Forever». i. Forever (The. The official site of NYT Bestselling Author Maggie Stiefvater, including news, is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the novels Shiver, Linger, Forever. Linger Maggie Stiefvater To Tess, partially for the clever stuff, but mostly for the bits in Anyway, it took forever, of course, like it always does in a hospital, and I .
Since publication, rights to thirty-five foreign edi- Maggie lives in Virginia with. Commotrendz team. I held out the bag so that she could toss everything inside, and watched as she retrieved the sandwich-paper crane before we headed down the stairs. I decided the outside chance of them noticing my car missing in the middle of the night was a happier option. Where I used to live, we had real coffeehouses.
I looked at him, eyebrow raised, until he smiled. I made a face at him. Choose a college. I got distracted by this cute boy who turned into a wolf. I need to get back on track. From the countertop next to the phone he got a pen and an index card. He wrote Keep loving my job. I wrote Stay madly in love. He wrote Stay human. I kept looking at him, his eyes hidden behind his lashes, until he lifted them back up to me.
The question felt loaded—we were edging into the first conversation that really addressed what life would look like this side of winter, now that Sam could live a real life. The closest college to Mercy Falls was in Duluth, an hour away, and all of my other, pre-Sam choices were even farther. I scribbled down Pick a college in a hand that looked completely different from the rest of my list.
But instead of answering, Sam stood and went to the kitchen. I swiveled to watch him put on the teakettle. He brought down two mugs from the cabinet over the stove; for some reason, the familiarity of this easy movement filled me with affection. I fought the urge to go stand behind him and wrap my arms around his chest. Sam smiled a self-deprecating smile and shook his head. I know that sounds…terrible. Like I have no ambition.
Until this month, I never thought I could go to college. At all. Who will take care of the pack? The words sounded strange in my mouth. Nobody knew what the newcomers were like. And Olivia. He returned to his list at the table and added something to it. Then he smiled at me and spun the index card so that I could read it right side up. Listen to Grace. Things like Write a novel and Find a band and Get a degree in obscure poetry in translation and Travel the world.
It felt indulgent and fanciful to be considering those things now after reminding myself for so long that they were impossible.
I tried to imagine myself filling out a college application. Writing a synopsis. The words danced in my head, dazzling in their sudden nearness. That night, while Grace showered, I got out the card and looked at it again. And I wrote: Believe in my cure. I was bleary, exhausted, confused. Groaning, I rolled onto my back and clenched and unclenched my fists, trying out my strength.
The early morning forest was absolutely freezing, mist hanging in the air, turning everything light gold. Close to me, the damp trunks of pine trees jutted from the haze, black and severe. Within a few feet, they turned to pastel blue and then disappeared entirely in the white fog. I was lying in the damn mud; I could feel my shoulders coated and crackling with it.
When I lifted my hand to brush off my skin, my fingers were coated as well—a thin, anemic clay that looked like baby poop. My hands stank like the lake, and sure enough, I could hear water slowly lapping very close to my left side. I reached out a hand and felt more mud, then water on my fingertips.
How did I get here? To wolf, and then to human. The logic of it—or rather, the lack of logic—was maddening.
Beck had told me the shifts would get more controlled, eventually. So where was the control? I lay there, my muscles starting to tremble, the cold pinching my skin, and knew that I was going to shift back to a wolf soon. God, I was tired. Stretching my shaking hands above my head, I marveled at the smooth, unmarked skin of my arms, most of the scarring of my former life gone.
I was being reborn in five-minute intervals. I heard movement in the woods near me, and I turned my face, my cheek against the ground, to see if it belonged to a threat. Close by, a white wolf watched me, halfway behind a tree, her coat tinted gold and pink in the rising morning sun.
Her green eyes, strangely pensive, met mine for a long moment. There was something about the way she was looking at me that felt unfamiliar. Human eyes without judgment or jealousy or pity or anger; just silent consideration. Without a sound, she slid into the mist. My body jerked on its own accord, and my skin twisted into another form.
Was it minutes? It was late morning. I hovered somewhere in between, my mind skating from memory to present and back to memory again, past and present equally lucid. Somehow my brain darted from my seventeenth birthday to the night my heart stopped beating at Club Josephine.
This was who I was, before I was a wolf: I was Cole St. Outside, the Toronto night was cold enough to ice over puddles and choke you with your own frigid breath, but inside the warehouse that was Club Josephine, it was hot as Hades, and it would be even hotter upstairs with the crowd. And there was a hell of a crowd. She smelled like lemons. It was empty, but she reached into the pocket of her jeans to pull out a wad of plastic wrap.
Inside, I saw a collection of electric-green pills, each stamped with two T s. They got an A-plus for pretty factor, but who knew what they were. In my pocket, my phone buzzed. I fished the phone out and put it against my ear. His voice was gritty and fast as always.
Brilliant but frenetic front man Cole St. That Elliot Fry. Now you guys are golden. Total turnaround. I turned to Jackie. Tell Victor. The place to find the new high before anyone knew how high it took you. Unnamed pills, brand-new powders, shining mysterious nectar in vials. Back in the dim lounge, waiting to go on, Victor swallowed one of the green pills with a beer while Jeremy-my-body-is-a-temple watched him and drank green tea.
I took a few of them with a Pepsi. I was feeling pretty bitter about the transaction by the time we got onto the stage. We started our set, and the crowd was wild, pressed up against the stage, arms outstretched, screaming our name. Behind his drums, Victor screamed back at them. He was high as a kite, so whatever Jackie had sold us had done it for him. But then it never took as much to get Victor high.
The strobes lit up bits and pieces of the audience—a neck here, a flash of lips, a thigh wrapped around another dancer. My head pounded in time with the beat that Victor laid down, my heart scudding double time. I reached up to slide my headset from my neck to my ears, my fingers brushing the hot skin of my neck, and girls began to scream my name.
There was this one girl my eyes kept finding for some reason, skin stark white against her black tank top. She howled my name as if it was physically painful for her, her pupils dilated so wide that her eyes looked black and depthless. He was dancing in place, fixed to the ground only by the drumsticks in his hands. Illuminated sporadically by the strobes and lasers, I was fascinated by how he stayed still, despite the press of bodies all around him.
He held his ground and watched me, his eyebrows drawn down low over his eyes. When I looked back at him, I remembered again that scent of home, far away from Toronto.
I wondered if he was real. I wondered if anything in this whole damned place was real. He crossed his arms over his chest, watching me while my heart scrabbled to escape. I should have been paying more attention to keeping it in my chest. My pulse sped, and then my heart burst free in an explosion of heat; my face smacked against the keyboard, which wailed out a pulse of sound.
I grabbed for the keys with a hand that no longer belonged to me. And then I closed my eyes on the stage of Club Josephine. I was done being Cole St. It was warm enough that the snow had mostly melted in the areas where the sun could reach, and it was only under the trees that patches remained.
The few degrees of extra warmth lent a gentler look to the landscape, infusing the grays of winter with color. Though the cold still numbed the end of my nose, my fingers were snug inside their gloves. Scaring wolves away? Looking for Olivia? When it gets to be a warm snap.
Like today. Evenly spaced and farther apart, with tangled, soft, relatively new growth for underbrush. I stopped short when I saw color peeking out of the dull brown thatch at our feet. A crocus—a little finger of purple with an almost-hidden throat of yellow. A few inches away, I spied more bright green shoots coming up through the old leaves, and two more blossoms. Signs of spring—and, more than that, signs of human occupation—in the middle of the forest.
I felt like kneeling to touch the petals of the crocus, to confirm that they were real. Back in the glory days of our house, before we lived here, I guess the owners had a walkway down to the lake and a little garden thing here. There are benches closer to the water, and a statue. Once I knew where to look, however, it was easy to see what the shape of the sitting area had been—there was another bench a few feet away, and a small statue of a woman with her hands brought up to her mouth as if with wonder, her face pointed toward the lake.
Beside me, Isabel scuffed her foot through the leaves. This is stone under here. Like a patio or something, I guess. I found it last year. Our true purpose momentarily forgotten, I scraped at the leaves, uncovering a wet, dirty patch of ground. I knelt and scraped a few of the stones bare with a stick. They were mostly natural colored, but there were a few chips of brilliant blue or red tiles in there as well. I uncovered more of the mosaic, revealing a swirling pattern with a smiling, archaic-looking sun in the middle.
It made me feel odd, this shining face hidden under matted rotting leaves. This was the sort of thing Sam lived for. An object beneath the bench before me caught my attention, however, pulling me back to the real world.
A slender, dull white…bone. I reached out and picked it up, looking at the gnaw marks on it. As I did, I realized there were more scattered around the bench, half buried in the leaves. Pushed partway underneath the bench was a glass bowl, stained and chipped, but obviously no antique. It took me only half a moment to realize what it was. I stood up and faced Isabel. I retrieved the bowl and shook out the two leaves that lay curled in the bottom of it. I gave her a look. And only when it was really cold.
For all I know, the stupid raccoons have been eating it. I had been planning to goad her about her hidden compassion, but the raw edge to her voice made me stop. Looking to add some protein to their diet. I took a deep breath. We scared it.
Once you knew the mosaic was underneath your feet, it was easy to feel how unforgiving the surface was; how unlike the natural forest floor. I walked over to stand by the statue of the woman and pressed my fingers to my lips when I saw the view. My heart sped. On the other side of the statue, a wolf was lying in the leaves, its gray pelt nearly the same color as the dead foliage. I could just see the edge of its black nose and the curve of one of its ears rising out of the leaves.
And that Sam was a boy, safely trapped in his human body.
But it could be Beck. Olivia and Sam were the only ones that mattered to me, but Beck would matter to Sam. He was a gray wolf. Swallowing, I knelt next to it while Isabel stood beside me and shuffled in the leaves. I watched the banded gray, black, and white hairs keep moving for a second after I lifted my palm. Then I gently opened the half-lidded eye on the side closest to me. A dull gray eye, very unwolflike, stared at some place far beyond me. Relieved, I rocked back on my heels and looked at Isabel.
I winced in anticipation of a gruesome discovery. But there was no visible injury on the other side, either. My friend Rachel had had a dog when we first met: I swallowed again, feeling a little sick. Look at the nose. But Isabel was there. Morbidly, I wanted to look at the other side again, the bloody one. Then she shrugged. Do wolves get nosebleeds? They can make you yak if you look up when you have one.
Come on. Head trauma could do that, too. Or animals picking at it after it died. Or any number of disgusting things to think about before lunch. The end. I stood up, brushing the dirt off my knees. I had the nagging feeling you get when you leave something undone, a prickling anxiety. Maybe Sam would know more. He can come look at it afterward. She got out her cell phone, aimed it at the wolf, and clicked a photo.
Welcome to technology, Grace. She was a backlit silhouette against the bright blue sky, and I could just glimpse the slender white of her smile, and saw her kiss the air at me before she and Isabel headed around to the front of the diner. A moment later, Grace, her nose and cheeks pink from the cold, slid into the cracked red booth beside me, her jeans squelching on the perpetually greasy surface. She was about to touch my face before she kissed me, and I recoiled.
Do I stink?
She laid her cell phone and car keys on the table in front of her and reached across me for the menus by the wall. Leaning away, I pointed to her gloves. Your gloves smell like that wolf. Not in a good way. If the waitress comes, order me a coffee and something that involves bacon, okay? Isabel examined the chunky cuff of her sweater and the way it rested on the table. I looked away as the waitress came and took our order. Grace ordered coffee and a BLT. I got the soup of the day and tea. Isabel just ordered coffee, taking a bag of granola out of her small leather purse after the waitress had gone.
Where I used to live, we had real coffeehouses. When I say panini here, everyone says Bless you. Until then, bacon will do you good. Grace said that you said something about wolves getting fifteen years after they stop shifting. Isabel shrugged, unapologetic, and flipped open her phone. She pushed it across the table to me. My stomach gripped in a fist when I saw the wolf on the screen, clearly dead, but my grief lacked force. I had never known this wolf as a human. I slanted the screen back and forth, squinting at the muzzle.
Maybe this wolf got knocked in the head. For a long moment there was silence as I doctored my tea and Isabel did the same to her coffee. Grace studied her BLT pensively. He went straight to the counter and pulled out a stool, hunching his tall frame as he leaned on his elbows. Before he even ordered, the waitress brought him a coffee. John stood at the end of the table, looking slightly uncomfortable as Isabel waited just a moment too long to make room for him on her side of the booth.
John glanced at Isabel, who was leaning away from him, in a fairly tactless way, arm against the windowsill. Then he leaned toward me and Grace. Her voice conveyed just the right combination of hope, disbelief, and frailty.
Only Grace knew Olivia was still alive. I shot her a look. Grace ignored me, still looking, all innocent and intense, at John. That she was coming home soon! How could she do this to Mom and Dad? Strange what love taught you about your faults.
That was the worst, not knowing if she was alive. He looked guilty. I guess—I guess I will. Because they can track it, right? So they could find out the general area it was coming from. Like maybe even right here in Mercy Falls. I miss her, but there had to be some reason for her to go. I was just thinking that it was an awfully perceptive and selfless thing to say, if slightly uninformed. John looked down into his coffee cup. Gets me out of the house. He had only been out of the diner for a moment when Isabel slid back into the center to face Grace.
Grace waved it off. I sent it the last time I was in Duluth. I wanted to give them some hope. And I actually thought it might keep the cops from looking so hard for her if they thought it was an annoying almost- legal runaway instead of a possible homicidekidnapping thing. See, I was using my brain. Sam, tell her to stay out of it. Isabel and I both stared at her. He loves her and wants her to be happy. Yeah, the greater world would definitely take it the wrong way.
But family members? Isabel looked at Grace. Also, John is clearly too highly strung to handle the concept. I nodded. I think we should operate on a need-to-know basis. The wolf. The day after I buried the wolf was frigid, Minnesota March in all its volatile splendor: One day the temperatures would soar into the thirties, and the next it would be barely twelve or thirteen degrees. It was amazing how warm thirty-two felt after two solid months of single digits.
Today was one of the bitterly cold days, as far away from spring as you could get. Except for the brilliant red winterberries that clustered at the edges of the trees, there was no color left anywhere in the world. My breath frosted in front of me, and my eyes dried with the cold.
The knowledge both thrilled and hurt me. Without Grace there, it was just a place to wait for her, a dull ache inside me. Today, the ache had followed me to work. I had already written a song—just a piece of a song—Is it still a secret if nobody cares I if having the knowledge in no way impairs I your living—and feeling—the way that you breathe I knowing the things that you know about me—the hope of a song more than anything else.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly, keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I? The clock ticked to five. This time I locked the back door, picked up my guitar case, and went out the front, sliding a little on the ice coating the threshold.
I pulled on the skullcap that Grace had bought me in a failed attempt to make me look sexy while keeping my head warm. Stepping out into the middle of the sidewalk, I watched tiny flakes float down onto the abandoned street.
As far as I could see, there were banks of old snow pressed into stained sculptures. Icicles made jagged smiles of the storefronts. My eyes smarted with the cold. I held my free hand out, palm up, and watched as snow dissolved on my skin.
This was not real life. This was life as watched through a window. Life watched on television. I was cold, I had a handful of snow, and I was human. The future stretched before me, infinite and growing and mine, in a way that nothing had ever been before.
Sudden euphoria rushed through me, a grin stretching my face at this cosmic lottery I had won. I had risked everything and gained everything, and here I was, of the world and in it. I laughed out loud, no one to hear me but the audience of snowflakes. I leaped off the sidewalk, into the bank of graying snow. I was drunk with the reality of my human body. Skidding in the slick tire tracks in the road, I waltzed across the street, swinging my guitar case in a circle, snow falling all around me, until a car honked at me.
I waved at the driver and jumped up onto the opposite sidewalk, knocking the crisp snow off each parking meter as I came to it.
My pants were frozen with snow stuffed into my shoes, my fingers numb and red, and still I was me. Always me. I circled the block until the cold had lost its novelty, and then I doubled back to my car and checked my watch. The more obvious Grace and I became with our relationship, the less her parents found to say to me.
And vice versa. Pulling into the empty driveway, I climbed out of the car and took a deep breath. I could pick out the scent of the pack, too, musky and pungent. Habit led me to the back door, the fresh snow squeaking beneath my boots, clumping at the cuff of my jeans.
I dragged my fingertips through the snow on top of the bushes that grew against the house, as I walked around back and waited again for the surge of nausea that meant I was about to change. Beside the back door, I hesitated, looking out over the snowy backyard and into the woods.
I had a thousand memories that lived in the span of ground stretching from the door to the woods. Turning back to the door, I realized that it was not quite ajar, but not quite shut, either, pressed in just far enough to keep it from coming open with the intermittent wind.
I looked down to the doorknob and saw a smear of red on it. One of the other wolves, shifting very, very early—it had to be. Something about the way it sounded, scraping and scuffling across the tile, made me uneasy. I tried to think of something to say that would sound reassuring to a wolf but not sound insane to a human.
Coming around the island, I saw a guy curled on his side, shaking hard. His dark brown hair was spiked with dried mud, and on his outstretched arms, I saw a dozen little wounds, evidence of an unprotected trip through the woods. He stank of wolf. But I felt a weird prickle go through me when I thought about Beck handpicking him, when I realized that this was a brand-new member of the pack, the first one in a long time. He turned his face to me, and though he had to have been in pain—I remembered that pain—his expression was quite composed.
And familiar. Something about the brutal line of his cheekbones down to his jaw and the narrow shape of his brilliant green eyes was irritatingly familiar, attached to a name just on the edge of my consciousness.
Completely level, despite the shudder of his shoulders and the darkening of his nails. Try the box that says sam or the one that says ulrik—something in there ought to fit. The guy had broad shoulders and muscles like a gladiator.
Someone who would willingly lose themselves for more and more of the year until eventually it was good-bye to all of it. It was a sort of suicide, really, and as soon as I thought the word, it made me look at the guy in an entirely different way. I hurried to get the back door open so that the wolf, brownish and dark in the dim light, could escape into the snow and away from the too-human environment of the kitchen.
Like I would have, as a wolf. Instead, he stalked slowly by me, head low, pausing to look directly into my eyes with his green ones. Long after the new wolf had gone, the image of him haunted me: Retreating back to the kitchen to clean up the blood and dirt from the tile, I saw the spare key lying on the floor. I returned it to its hiding place, by the back door.
As I did, I felt watched, and I turned, expecting to see the new wolf at the edge of the forest. But instead it was a big, gray wolf, eyes steady on me, familiar in an entirely different way.
I had my usual group of girls who sat around me, eyes painted like mine, looking unattainable—which was not the same as being unattainable.
Being popular in a town the size of Mercy Falls was ridiculously easy.
You only had to believe you were a hot commodity, and you were. The effects of attending the assembly—an hour-long ad for the Isabel Culpeper brand—would last for a week. But finally I had to make my way home. I was beside myself with joy. I sat in my SUV in the driveway, opened the Shakespeare I was supposed to be reading, and turned up my music loud enough that I could see the bass vibrating the rearview mirror.
And so the evening was under way. Inside our vast stainless-steel kitchen, it was the Culpeper Show at its finest. Thanks for playing it loud enough for them to hear it. I asked our daughter. I knew where this was going. See you next week. Is that true?
His arms crossed, he leaned against the colorless counter, his shirt and tie still perfectly unwrinkled, one eyebrow raised in his narrow face. I raised mine to match. I hang out with Grace. Good idea. Should I tell Grace to lure them closer to the house? Portrait of a Woman With Chardonnay. My father looked like he wanted to hit me. I thought my part in this particular episode was definitely over, so I left them behind in the kitchen.
I probably needed to stop feeding the wolves. The closer they got, the more dangerous it was for all of us. Rachel lacked the concentration to bread the chicken pieces, so I had her stirring the tomato sauce while I dredged an endless number of chicken parts through egg and then through breadcrumbs.
I pretended to be annoyed, but really the repetitive action had a kind of relaxing effect, and there was a subtle pleasure in the tactile elements: Still, the process of making dinner and having Rachel over was doing a pretty good job of making me forget about both my headache and the fact that it had gotten winter dark outside, the chill pressing in against the window above the sink, and Sam was still not here.
I kept repeating the same mantra over and over in my head. Rachel bumped her hip against my hip, and I realized, all at once, that she had turned up the music insanely loud. She bumped my hip again, in time with the song, and then spun into the center of the kitchen, wiggling her arms over her head in some sort of demented Snoopy dance. Her outfit, a black dress over striped leggings, paired with her dual ponytails, only added to the ludicrous effect.
She spun and came face-to-face with Sam, standing in the doorway from the hall. At the sight of him, my stomach slid down to my feet, a weird combination of relief, nerves, and anticipation all in one, a feeling that never seemed to go away. I am watching Grace make Italian food! He blinked. What were you up to? My lips are still cold from being outside. When will it be spring?
My head was starting to pound, and I really was beginning to hate the mere sight of uncooked chicken. Does that work? As Rachel disappeared into the small pantry and began crashing through the pots and lids, Sam leaned over to me so that his lips pressed against my ear. Was Olivia human? Did Sam have to try to find the other wolves? What happened now?
I turned sharply toward him. He was still close enough to me that it put us nose to nose; his was still cold from being outside. I saw the worry in his eyes. Kissing in front of the loveless is an act of cruelty.
And there was guilt mixed in as well, making the time drag. Mmm, food. I had no doubt. Mom was an excellent food burner; ceaseless movement did a lot in the calorie-destruction department. She turned, saw Sam. Her voice changed to something knowing and not entirely pleasant. Hi, Sam. Here again? She turned and looked at me. Clearly it was supposed to convey some meaning, but it was lost on me. Sam, however, turned his face away from both of us as if it was clear enough to him.
Once upon a time, Mom had really liked Sam. But that was back when he was just a boy that I was seeing. The length of the pauses between sentences conveyed more information than the words within them. My jaw tightened. Are you working more tonight? I get it. See you later, Rachel. Something about the entire exchange had left a sour taste in my mouth.
I wanted him to know that I thought it was. That was when I decided to confide in Rachel. He cast an anxious look toward the ceiling, as if Mom could read his thoughts through the floor of her home studio. Then toward Rachel. And then toward me, his unasked question clear in his expression: Are you really telling her?
Rachel looked at me quizzically. Sam came back into the kitchen. It was written all over his face. Wait—has The Boy been sleeping here? Taking Rachel by the elbow, I propelled her over toward the corner of the kitchen and released her quickly, looking at my fingers. Are you guys like—sleeping together? Just like what? What do you guys do?
It was about growing up and realizing that the feeling of his arms around me, the smell of him when he was sleeping, the sound of his breathing—that was home and everything I wanted at the end of the day. Rachel considered. Far be it from me to break up the young lovers.
By the time her mom arrived a few minutes later, we were both fairly giddy. Maybe it was time to tell her some of the other secrets, too. I softly cursed icy Minnesota springtimes, but the words swirled away in puffs of white in the darkness. It was strange to be standing in this cold, shaking with it, unable to feel my fingers or toes, my eyes burning with it, and to be no closer to being a wolf than I had been before.
Her mother wondered gently if I would be coming over tomorrow night as well. Her mother commented to no one in particular that some people might think that we were moving too fast. Grace asked her mother if she wanted any more chicken parmesan before she put it away in the fridge. I could hear the impatience in her voice, but her mother seemed oblivious, effectively holding me prisoner outside by her presence in the kitchen.
Standing on the frigid wood of the deck in my jeans and thin Beatles T-shirt, I contemplated the possible wisdom of marrying Grace and living a young hippie life in the backseat of my Volkswagen, without parental constraints. It had never seemed like such a good idea as now, my teeth starting to chatter and my toes and ears going numb. She came over to the glass door of the deck, silently unlocking it as she got her sweater off the back of the kitchen table with her other hand. I saw her mouth Sorry to me.
I was shuddering uncontrollably with the cold, but I was still Sam. I had all the evidence I needed that my cure was real, but I was still waiting for the punch line. I shoved my bedroom door shut without turning on the light and followed the sound of his voice to the bed. My fingers brushed against the goose bumps that covered his arms; I could feel them even through the fabric of his shirt.
I tugged the blanket up to cover both of our heads and pressed my face against the frigid skin of his neck. It felt selfish to say it out loud.
To be together. For a brief moment, I envied their freedom to come and go as they pleased, no school, no parents, no rules. If it gets too difficult. I reached down to clutch his fingers in mine; we held them like that, smashed between our bodies in a knot, until his fingers stopped feeling so frigid. Sam went still beside me. Who would choose that? I wondered if Sam remembered lying beside me last year, just like this, and me confessing that I wished I changed, too, to go with him.
No, not just to go with him. To feel what it was like, to be one of the wolves, so simple and magical and elemental. I thought about Olivia again, now a white wolf, darting between trees with the rest of the pack, and something inside me felt a little raw. His thoughts were far, far away from me, untouchable.
I just feel like no good will come from these new wolves. Sanders was pretty famous for letting kids who were overwhelmed with life hang out in her office, which was fine until someone who had a pounding headache and just wanted to sit down walked in and found all the waiting chairs full.
I came around to the front of her desk and crossed my arms across my chest. I felt like humming along to the throb of the ache in my head. Sanders agreed. She got up and gestured to the wheeled chair behind her desk. It felt odd being here. Without Mrs. They were headaches that seemed to threaten more: I kept waiting to get a runny nose or a cough or something.
Sanders reappeared with a thermometer, and I hurriedly dropped my hand from my face. Sanders chatted about classes with the two awake students on the chairs while three minutes dragged by, and then she returned and slid the thermometer out.
They figure you high school hellions have enough patience to use the cheap ones. You probably have a virus. You want me to call someone to pick you up? But he was working and I had a test in Chemistry, so I sighed and admitted the truth: I was not really sick enough to justify leaving.
And I have a test. I approve. Well, here. There was a bunch of loose change, her car keys, and a bottle of acetaminophen in there. Sanders said, feigning shock. I could barely feel my headache. By the end of last period, the acetaminophen had done the trick. Sanders was probably right.
This nagging sensation of something more was just a virus. I tried to tell myself that was all it was. Sleet cut into my bare skin, so cold that it felt hot.
I was shaking almost too badly to stand, unsteady on my legs as I tried to figure out why I had changed back from a wolf. Before now, my stints as a human had been during warmer days and had been mercifully brief. I knew, with sinking certainty, that I was stuck in this body, at least for the moment. Too many extremities that I preferred not to lose. Wrapping my arms around myself, I took stock of my surroundings. Behind me, the lake reflected brilliant specks of light.
I squinted into the dim forest ahead of me and could see the statue that overlooked the lake, and beyond the statue, the concrete benches. So now I had a destination. Hopefully nobody was home. There were just enough nerves working in my bare feet for me to feel the stones cutting into the cold flesh. I tried the back door—unlocked. Truly the Man Upstairs was smiling down on me. I made a note to send a card.
Pushing open the door, I stepped into a cluttered mudroom that smelled like barbecue sauce. For a moment, I just stood there, shivering, briefly paralyzed by the memory of barbecue. The idea of wanting something that bad made my lips curve into a smile. And then my painfully cold feet reminded me why I was here. Clothing first. Then food. I headed out of the mudroom and into a dim hallway. The house was every bit as gargantuan as it had seemed from the outside and looked like some kind of spread in Better Homes and Gardens.
Everything was hung on the walls just so, in perfect threes and fives, perfectly aligned or charmingly asymmetrical. Glancing behind me to make sure the coast was still clear, I narrowly avoided tripping over a pricey-looking vase that held a bunch of artfully arranged dead branches. I wondered if real people actually lived here. More pressingly, I wondered if anyone who wore my size lived here.
I hesitated as the hall opened up. To my left, more dim hallway. To my right, a massive, dark staircase that looked like a murder scene out of a gothic horror movie. I wrestled briefly with logic and decided to go upstairs. Because heat rises. The stairs led me to a hallway that was open on one side to the stairs below. My toes burned against the plush green carpet as feeling slowly returned to them. The pain was a good thing. It meant they still had blood flow.
I was acutely aware of my heart beating normally in my chest; God, I missed adrenaline. I turned around. It was a girl. She was pretty much drop-dead gorgeous in an eat-your-heart kind of way, all huge blue eyes partially hidden behind a jagged fringe of blond hair. And a tilt to her shoulders like she knew it. I tried a smile. Below us, there was the sound of a door shutting, and Isabel and I both jerked to look down toward the noise. For a brief moment, my heart yammered in my chest and I was surprised to feel terror—to feel something after such a long stretch of nothing.
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