Mackenzie, a not-so-ordinary girl, is uprooted from the only home she has ever known and forced to move to the small town of Forks, Washington. Miserable at first, she eventually sees that the town is much more interesting than she'd expected when she befriends a peculiar boy named Jacob Black. She soon finds they have much more in common that initially thought and within hardly a few months, her once-normal life becomes a complicated mess fraught with confusing emotions, mythical creatures and a great danger that threatens everything she holds dear.
1. Chapter 1
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2431 Review this Chapter
The morning was bright and clear, sun streaming through a tiny crack in my curtains and glaring into my eyes the moment I opened them. I quickly shut them again and stretched languidly on my double bed, groaning and smiling to myself as the sound of twittering birds entered my ears. Glancing over to my alarm clock, I saw that I was awake ten minutes earlier than I needed to be so I laid wrapped in the warmth of my blanket, staring at the blank ceiling of my room, not thinking, just resting.
About seven minutes had passed and I moved for the first time when I heard the sound of footsteps pass my door. I could tell it was my mother. Her steps were quick and light, barely audible; a person with normal hearing would not have noticed. I, however, did.
I crawled out of bed, searching through my dresser for a change of clothing in the dim light. Not that I needed much light to see what I was doing. My eyes worked exceptionally well in the dark.
I heard a second person trudging down the hallway. These footsteps were slower and heavier; my older brother, Wesley. The sound came to a halt at my door and I grimaced, tossing my clothing onto the bed. In two steps I was at my door, yanking it open just as he was about to pound his fist into it. His hand stopped an inch from my nose and he smiled.
“Oh, good, you’re up.” He said smoothly, looking down at me with bright hazel eyes.
I simply stared back with identical ones. I decided instantly that I would not converse with him that morning. It was too nice a day to have it ruined by my idiot brother. His smile didn’t falter.
“Well, I thought I’d give you a fair chance at the shower this morning, but if you’re going to be like that…” He trailed off, the mischievous smile still in place and turned back the way he came.
My eyes widened and I quickly reached out, grabbing him by the shoulder and knocking him aside. “Oh, no you don’t!” I all-but growled, racing passed him down the hall. I heard him hiss behind me and his fast footsteps reverberated on the floor. Too bad I was faster.
I threw myself into the bathroom and slammed the door, just in time for Wesley to run into it, resulting in a loud “BANG”. I laughed triumphantly as I flicked the lock on the door knob. The day was just getting better and better. I heard him swear as he pounded the door. I ignored him, turning on the water while humming pleasantly to myself.
“WESLEY!” My mother’s strong voice traveled up the stairs.
He grumbled from the other side of the door, and the pounding ceased. “You win this time, Mac…”
I shook my head and rolled my eyes as I stepped into the shower, knowing that he would get his revenge on me in some way. That was my brother; your typical idiot jock with more brawn than brains and a knack for being completely and utterly annoying. Well, no. I couldn’t really call him typical. None of us were typical. Not him, not my mother, not I.
In actuality, my family was quite rare. In my seventeen years on the earth, I had never met anyone else like us. There was something in our blood, passed on through generation to generation, that allowed us to transform into something… not human. We were shape-shifters; People that had the ability to morph into large cats. Mountain lions, to be precise. Some might call us “were-cats”, but that wasn’t quite true as we did not require a full moon to change. As well, the change was only physical. Our bodies would change, our senses heightened, but our minds would be the same.
This thing, this part of us, has been in my family for as long as we could possibly know. My grandmother told me that centuries ago we had been “protectors”. What we were protecting people from, she did not say. She only said that we were given this ability to defend and protect. It confused me because we no longer lived up to our original purpose, and yet we were still changing. My children, their children and their children’s children would have this ability, too. It would go on forever, as far I knew.
The change first shows itself around puberty. I was fourteen when I experienced my first change. My brother had already gone through it the previous year, so I knew what to expect. I was not afraid, only shocked by how suddenly it came about. It was summer, and I had been arguing with Wesley about something, which was not uncommon, but this time I couldn’t seem to control my anger. Something snapped inside me and I could feel it spreading through my bones, every nerve and every muscle, taking over my body entirely. I felt powerful. I felt like I could kill. Then, before I knew it, my clothes were in shreds around me and a fierce growl echoed in the air and I realized it had come from me.
Initially, the change is a hard thing to manage and the slightest emotional disturbance can set it off, but as time passes you learn to control it. After a few months, I was able to change into my other self and then change back as I pleased.
My younger sister Hannah had yet to go through the change. She was eleven and had a few more years to go before she had to deal with it. She wanted it desperately, though, I could tell. She felt like an outcast in our family, the only one without “feline tendencies”. But she was already beginning to show signs of it. Her hearing and vision were growing rapidly, beyond human, with each month that past. As was her strength and speed. My sister was already giving me a run for my money when we arm-wrestled or had a foot race.
After I thought I’d taken long enough in the shower I stepped out, wrapped myself in a large, fluffy towel and waltzed down the hallway to my room. Wesley was no where in sight. My eyes narrowed and I could tell that he had been in my room; his scent was in the air. I groaned loudly when I realized the clothes I’d laid out on my bed were missing.
“’Kenzie…?” I turned to see Hannah standing in the doorway. “If you’re wondering where your clothes are… I saw Wesley take them outside.”
My lip twitched in anger. It wasn’t the first time he’d done this. I stalked down the stairs and out the front door, still only in my towel. I wasn’t worried about being spotted half-naked by neighbors because we didn’t have any. We lived on a hundred acres of pure forest, our house nestled in the middle. Looking down our long driveway, you couldn’t even see the highway. It was hidden from view by the many trees.
I looked up and around at said trees, squinting to see where he’d tossed my clothes. He’d been a real jerk this time and thrown each piece onto a separate tree, miles apart from each other. It took me roughly ten minutes in total to find each item, climb the tree in which it was stuck and retrieve it.
I changed quickly outside and then stormed back into the house, fuming as I had to continue picking leaves and pine needles out of my clothes. I made my way into the kitchen where my mother was sitting at the table drinking her coffee and reading the paper. Her auburn hair was thrown up in a ponytail and she was wearing a white blouse and blue jeans. She hardly looked her 40 years.
“Did Wesley hide your clothes again, Mackenzie?” She asked, not looking up from her reading.
I growled in response.
She sighed. “You two really need to learn how to get along. You’re so tit for tat. Couldn’t one of you be the bigger person and not retaliate?”
I leaned against the counter, staring out the back window as I tried to calm my breathing. I could hear the shower running upstairs and a light went on in my head.
“Is Hannah in the shower?” I asked.
“No, I’m down here!” I heard her called from the basement.
I paused, and then reached out for the tap, turning the hot water on full. I smiled pleasantly when I heard a loud shriek from above as Wesley’s shower turned ice cold. My mother inhaled sharply through her nose and I reluctantly turned the tap off again.
“I could’ve turned on the cold…” I muttered.
The bus ride to school was a long one. We lived a half-hour from Vancouver, but with all the stops, it took us about forty-five minutes to get there. I couldn’t wait to get my own car so I could drive myself. I asked my mom to borrow her’s on her days off but she accused me of being a speed-demon and said she wouldn’t trust me with her precious Pontiac. I’d rolled my eyes and said something along the lines of “God forbid you worry about me and not your car!” but she simply laughed, both of us knowing it would take more than a car accident to kill me. Our bodies were built like tanks. It took incredible force to cause us harm.
Amber, my best friend, beckoned at me as I climbed onto the bus. I smiled and sat down beside her, dropping my backpack between my legs.
“You ready for tonight’s game?” She asked, bouncing in her seat with excitement, her blonde ponytail swinging with her movements.
With a smug face, I casually waved my hand in the air as if to dismiss any doubt. “You know it.”
Basketball; My 5’11” frame, speed and agility made me a prime candidate for the sport. I’d been playing it for as long as I could remember and I was very good. My dad had been a huge fan of the game and, before he went missing five years ago, he’d taught me everything he knew.
“We are gonna smash ‘Les Dragons’ into the ground!” Amber announced loudly, earning equally loud cheers and applauds from the students around us.
I laughed. “Don’t we always?”
‘Les Dragons’, the team from the French school across the city, never stood a chance. Against them, we were undefeated and they seemed to be very aware of that. It made them nervous and clumsy and just like Amber had predicted, we smashed them into the ground; at many points, literally.
Afterwards, all the girls hit the showers. I was silent, like I always was after a game, just listening to the conversation buzzing around me, enjoying the leftovers of my adrenaline rush. Suddenly, I felt someone’s eyes on me and turned to see Lisa leaning over the shower wall that separated us.
“So, I hear you’re moving.”
I blinked, not really understanding what she had just said.
“My dad told me about your mom’s new position in Washington. Pretty exciting stuff, isn’t it?”
I continued to stare at her for a few a beats, trying to process this information. “What?” I finally managed. “Are you sure you’re not mixing me up with someone else?”
Lisa grinned. “Your mom’s Marie Phelps, right?”
All I could do was nod.
She gave me a surprised look. “You mean you really didn’t know about it?”
I opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out.
“Wow. Well, my dad told me your mom took a job down in Washington. So, I guess you’ll be moving there soon. I hear it’s nice there. Rainy, but nice.”
Without a reply, I switched off the water, grabbed my towel and stomped off toward my locker, fists clenched at my sides.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I shouted.
My mother pinched the bridge of her nose between her fingers and sighed. “I was waiting for the right time.”
“Oh, perfect! TWO WEEKS! We leave in two weeks! When was the right time? When the movers started packing up my room?”
“I’m sorry, Mackenzie, really.” My mom said in a soft tone.
I was pacing back and forth in our living room where my mother was sitting on the couch with my sister, whose eyes were shiny with unshed tears. Wesley was leaning against the doorjamb, staring intently at the floor. Just like our father had been, he became very quiet when he was truly upset. I, on the other hand, became very loud.
Apparently, a doctor had moved away and the hospital down there was in dire need of another one. My mother had volunteered for the job. She said she thought a change would be nice.
Nice. Yeah, right!
Finally, I stopped my pacing and brought my voice down to an acceptable level. “Where are we moving to again?”
“Right, lovely. A town named after cutlery couldn’t possibly SUCK.” I hissed sarcastically.
Everyone was quiet, and I sighed. “I’m going for a run.”
I marched out the backdoor and made my way into the woods, stripping myself of my clothes and hanging them off a tree branch. As soon as I was free of the constricting cloth, I changed. I fell onto all fours as my body morphed, becoming stronger, sleeker and more powerful. My senses instantly heightened and I could smell and hear all the animals around me. I could also tell that it was about to rain. I didn’t care. The thick, golden fur that covered my body may not keep me dry, but it would keep me warm.
I ran quickly through the trees, twigs snapping noisily beneath my paws, and tried not to think about anything but the scenery around me. When I reached a small pond, my favourite place in our part of the woods, I settled myself on a rock that jutted out over the water and gazed down at my reflection. I was met with a blur of tawny fur and sad, glowing yellow eyes. I huffed and rested my head on my large paws. The night was beautiful but I could hardly take any notice. I had two weeks to say goodbye to everything I’d ever known. My house, my friends, my teachers and the place I was currently at. In fourteen days, I would never see these woods again.
I felt like crying and that was something I never did. Thankfully, I couldn’t in this form, so instead I simply sulked, staring out into nothing. I didn’t move from my spot, not even as the large drops of rain began to fall.