Four: The Forest

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"Hi! You've reached Crystal's cell. Feel free to leave me a message! Or not. Honestly, I don't care that much." Beep.

            "Hi, Crystal. I thought we had plans? Anyway, you can call me later after you come up with feasible excuses for ditching your two-favorite people." I clicked off the phone and stuffed it in my pocket. Turning my attention down to Kat, I offered her a light shrug. "She didn't answer."

            Kat's eyebrows pulled together. Her arms folded across her chest as her shoulders slightly rolled forward. "I have a bad feeling, Ella."

            "Don't worry about it," I assured, gently weaving my arm around hers. "Come on. We can watch movies all night and talk about how cute Donovan looked in that white t-shirt today." Did I think Donovan was cute? Maybe a little, but I was mostly just trying to tease her.

            Sure enough, her entire face tinted bright pink. "Uh... W-why Donovan? Um..."

            I laughed at her reaction. However, all of my amusement snapped away when I lifted my eyes to see someone staring at me. It was a woman; long legs crossed over one another, tanned and smooth. Fitting in a dress that showed off her curves, she held the confidence of a Queen. When my eyes met hers, dangerous shivers traveled down my spine and I felt cold, all of a sudden, at the sight of the grin forming on her face, void of imperfection. As though the sun had been ripped from the sky and I was abstracted into nothingness.

            After blinking my eyes once, she was gone.

            "Come on. Let's go." I spoke cheerier than normal, only hoping that Kat didn't catch on to my dismay. Luckily, she didn't say anything.

            It wasn't until we started driving back to my place that she found her voice again. "It's never gotten this bad," she breathed out in a whisper. "The attacks."

My grip on the steering wheel tightened. "It's fine, Kat," I insisted. "They've got it covered."

            Sometimes, I came close to coming clean to Kat. She was, like how I was supposed to be, completely clueless. She was being juggled around by the lies of our town and I was doing nothing to relieve it.

            My words did nothing to relieve her stress; I could feel her trepidation shaking inside of the vehicle. Even so, no more words were spoken between us. Not until we made it safely to my home, walking into the emptiness of it. I briefly heard the humming of the vacuum from upstairs, no doubt from one of the maids.

"Don't be offended, but I'm glad your mother isn't home," Kat admitted quickly. She flashed me a sheepish grin, her shoulders rolling forward. "She scares me."

I waved my hand at her disparagingly. "Don't even worry about it. She scares everyone."

Just as I had guessed, the house remained deathly silent when the two of us stepped inside. Quickly shrugging it off, I distracted Kat from noticing my discomfort by grabbing us each a few snacks. We headed up to my room and it wasn't until we stepped inside that I remembered the package my mother showed me that morning. Noting Kat's watchful eye, I started ripping it open.

Kat joined me on the bed. "What's that?"

            My words caught in my throat at the sight of what had been wrapped up in white fabric. It was a photo of my beast, half hidden behind a set of bushes. Written on the photo was words in the same calligraphy as the note in my locker.

            'If you become too curious, his blood is on your hands.'

            "Ella?"

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