I thought about what Camilla had said in the car, and what brought about my change in behavior. The root cause of my new attitude can be traced back to one source: Mira.
It was when I went over to Mira’s house to apologize, and I saw her in tears, that I started to care (even if it was just a tiny bit, and it didn’t last very long). Then it takes me getting beaten almost to death for me to fully realize how shitty I have been acting. Since then I have been trying to be better. And it all has to do with Mira.
I genuinely enjoyed Mira reading Sense and Sensibility to me. Plus, I have no doubt that it aided in my quick recovery. I was ready to hear more of Mira’s favorite stories. And since the weather has been so nice recently, we took the reading outside. Mira would lay out a blanket, pack a few snacks, and I would listen to her as she read To Kill a Mockingbird.
The story was good, of course. But that wasn’t the reason why I was enjoying myself so much. I enjoyed watching Mira as she read out loud. She would change her voice to fit the different characters. She would read faster or slower, depending upon the pace of the plot. Best of all, her rainbow eyes would shimmer in the fall sun as she read about Atticus and Scout facing down an angry mob.
In turn she encouraged me to share my passion for music with her. I would play various pieces for Mira on her piano. On the last Snowflake Day she surprised me with a hand-made guitar that her father had created for me. It didn’t look like much, but it sounded great. I still didn’t like playing at the café, or on front of anyone else. Just for Mira and sometimes her cats.
Honestly, it didn’t really matter to me what we did. I genuinely enjoyed Mira’s company. I was captivated when she would talk about her dreams of adventures in the great wide somewhere. I enjoyed Mira’s laugh, and I enjoyed being the one to make her laugh. I would do almost anything to hear that laugh, and to see those rainbow eyes sparkle.
The warmer weather also meant that fall was upon us. Ryker had told the pack that the first full moon of the harvest season was a special one. (I’m pretty sure that he had told us this before in the years past, however I hadn’t really been paying attention until now.) Ryker said that our “powers” would be at the highest level. I wasn’t sure what that meant for me, but at least this time I knew that I wouldn’t be puppy chow. On top of all of all that, instead of our usual “Full Moon Party” in our usual spot deep in the woods, this year the pack is going to be mingling with the other supernaturals of Moonlight Falls in the town’s Annual Harvest Jubilee.
Now that I mention it, I am positive that Ryker has talked about it in the years past. I remember hearing about this before, and in the past I made it a point to avoid this supernatural social gathering like the plague. I want to think that is was because I felt as if I was above it all, but if I am being honest; the thought of mingling with the rest of the town scared the living daylights out of me.
But remember, this is a new Linc.
Imagine the surprised look on their faces when I told Ryker and Camilla that they would see me there this year. Riley and Owen were over the moon excited (no pun intended). I had even made plans to meet up with Mira at some point in the night. I found myself growing more and more excited as the evening approached closer and closer. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was excited to find out.
I had always enjoyed the Fall Festival in Twinbrook. My parents always said that it was their favorite of the seasonal activities, and I always had fun with my family. But that was so different than compared to this gathering of Moonlight Falls’ supernaturals.
All of Moonlight Falls was packed into every inch of the festival grounds, literally. Each type of supernatural was there doing whatever it is that they usually do during a full moon. Although everyone was there, they all stayed with their own type. The fairies stayed with the fairies on the east side of the grounds. The witches and warlocks took up the most space, while the were-animals were at the far end from where I came.
This reminded me of another difference.
Back in Twinbrook my parents acted like a couple of school kids as they bobbed for apples and made a mess of themselves at the pie eating contest. We would meet up with our cousins, and dare each other to brave the haunted house while the adults would get together and talk about whatever adults talked about. I enjoyed picking out pumpkins with Autumn and Willow. Then taking them home to carve them as we talked about what we were going to be dressing up as. It was a fun family bonding time.
Yet here in Moonlight Falls the tension was super thick, thicker than the fog that hung in the air. It was almost as if there were invisible barriers around each supernatural grouping. And I didn’t want to see what would happen if someone from the wrong side crossed the boarder.
I wandered the festival grounds making my way to where I was told to meet the pack, all the while remaining very cautious of the boarders (and making a special note to stay as far away from the vampires as possible). I was crossing the main courtyard when something caught my eyes. Well, to be more accurate, it was something that caught my ear.
It was Mira laughing as she maneuvered her flying broomstick along the obstacle course.
I stood there watching her for longer than I probably should have, when out of the blue I was tackled by two very rambunctious wolves.
Even though they were in wolf form, I could easily recognize Riley and Owen. And even though I can’t communicate without talking the way Ryker is able to, I don’t need to. It doesn’t take ESP to see that these werewolf pups are excited to see me. They were jumping around, tails wagging so fast you would think that they would take off. I was really happy that I had decided to come out this year.
But just like a tiny balloon, my excitement burst in an instant.
Without warning a bolt of energy pushed Owen back 50 feet, sending him sliding and yelping into the bushes. Then in another instant, the same thing happened to Riley. I looked around to see what was causing this, and it wasn’t hard to find where the negative energy had come from.
“That’ll teach those mangy mutts to stay with their own kind.” Alcander chuckled at the pain he had caused.
“Hey, Jackass” I growled in response. “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size.”
“I would, if I could find someone as big and as bad ass as me. Right now all I see is a pathetic, flea ridden, douchebag.”
It was then that I heard Ryker and Astrid charging through the grounds. It wouldn’t be too long before they were upon us. Between the two, I wasn’t sure who could do the most damage. Astrid isn’t as big as Ryker, but she is the biggest protector of our pack you will ever meet.
In the meantime, while they charged towards us, I still had an opportunity to get a few attacks in. I crouched down ready to pounce, and Alcander readied himself. But before I attacked, a gentle hand on my shoulder stopped me.
“Please, allow me,” Mira said soft enough for only me to hear, then motioned to Alcander, “you want to pick on someone your own size, well bring it on you over-sized Neanderthal!”
“Oh Mira,” Alcander spoke down to her like he was talking to a toddler “I don’t want to have to hurt you. Instead, why don’t you run along a fetch me a piece of apple pie. Let the real men handle things. Or, at least one man and a whatever beastly thing that is,”
Mira didn’t say another word, she let her magic do the talking as she sent a baseball sized fireball hurling towards Alcander.
Alcander showed his boredom with an over exaggerated yawn, as he made Mira’s ball of fire dissolve in front of him. Acting as if it were no effort on his part, he sent a bright firework at her. Mira was able to jump out of the way, and at the same time send another fire ball (a bigger one than last time).
This went on for several rounds; back and forth. One fireball then one lightning firework, one after the other. I noticed that a crowd had quickly gathered around us. A large crowd, like the whole town had gathered, all rooting for Alcander except for me and the were-animals.
I could tell that this fight was starting to take a toll on Alcander. His overly acted boredom changed to real frustration and anger. And because of that his attacks weren’t coming as fast. On the other hand, Mira’s pace was only getting quicker.
Finally, she gave him the TKO Punch; one fireball, then another fireball, then a giant burst of light and energy that knocked Alcander on his ass. With a loud splash, Alcander fell backwards into the reflecting pool, sending the lilies and algae flying all over.
“Remember this night Alcander Saavedra“ Mira said as she stood triumphantly over Alcander as he sat helpless covered in soggy moss and slime, “for tonight you have been out maneuvered, and out matched, by a girl!”
Mira and I started walking back home as the sun was rising over the mountains. Not for her protection, but for my own. For the most part we walked in silence until I couldn’t take it any longer. There was something that had been bothering me for a very long time.
I had to know, “why do you put up with this? All of this? The nasty looks? Being treated like a second class citizen? Alcander’s never relenting pressure? Why even bother with this stupid town?”
In the dawn’s light Mira’s eyes shined even brighter, but I could see the tired sorrow behind them. Mira took a few moments to choose her words carefully then replied. “Moonlight Falls is my home. I can’t just leave my home.”
“But what about your dreams? You told me about wanting to have an adventure? What about that?”
“I have an amazing adventure every time that I read my favorite book.”
“That sounds fine and all, but it’s not the same and you know it.”
There was another pause as once again Mira thought about what to say next. “I can’t leave. Too many people count on me. People depend on me, and I won’t let them down. If I were to leave, then Alcander and Osiris win. And I will be damned if I let that arrogant Neanderthal win!”
“Have a good rest of your day, Linc” Mira turned around to waved good bye to me before she went inside.
I had a strange feeling; it was almost like Deja vu. Like the first time Mira and I walked home together. She was even wearing the same yellow dress. And she smiled and that overly cheery smile. Yet something felt different.
There is something there that wasn’t there before.
“Hell yeah, there’s something there that wasn’t there before,” Bert cheered after I told him about the Full Moon Festivities. “So, what is your next move Casanova? How about a picnic in the park? Oh, sweet l’amour. I know, you should make her a romantic candlelight dinner, with romantic music. Leading to professions of love!”
“What?!?!? No, no, no, no, and no!!” I quickly corrected Bert’s very wrong assumptions. “There will be no romance, professions of love, l’amour, or anything else of the sort. What I meant is that there is friendship. Friendship is the something there that wasn’t there before. Nothing but plutonic friendship. That is all, nothing more!”
“Oh sure,” Bert was not understanding my message. “Nothing romantic there. Wink, wink.”
“Remember what you said about your curse? The clause that the witch added? About finding love?”
I was done with this foolish conversation. “I am not in love. And even if I were, which I am not, love is not in the cards for a beast like me. That’s just how it is, and that will never change. This is Moonlight Falls, and things don’t change here. You, of all people, should know that better than anyone. The way things are now is the way that they will always be.”
Yet, little did I know how wrong I was. For as Bert and I were talking the wheels of change were already in motion. And two star-crossed lovers, secretly meeting in the woods, would be the ones to set the whole thing off.