Six: I Will Protect You

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Fear is a funny thing. It happens to everyone but acts differently for each person. For my entire life, I welcomed my own fear as an old friend. However, as I drove the ten minute drive to Kat's house, I felt a harrowing fear with enough power to poke and prod at my jumping nerves. As I drove, I couldn't help but think of the worst possible scenario. Kat could end up like Tom. Kat could end up like Samantha. 

No. Anyone but Kat.

With the anxiety built up inside of me, I nearly missed the slumped over silhouette leaning against the back porch of Kat's quaint house. The little house sat at the end of the street, under a shadow of overgrown trees. With a white picket fence and a row of blooming flowers, it was a place which usually held peace and tranquility.

Stepping out of my car, I felt neither. I did, however, feel a tidal wave of relief when I saw a ghostly Kat sitting on her porch. I scrambled over to her, nearly tripping over my feet, and fell on my knees in front of her. Even then, she wouldn't look at me.

"Kat?" No answer. "Kat, are you okay?"

Her eyes were focused behind me, tears welling at the corners. It looked as though she were in shock. With a quick scan, not a scratch was on her skin. Gently, I started shaking her shoulders, causing her attention to snap down to me. "Ella?"

"Kat. What happened?"

Her eyes squinted slightly and she tilted her head to the side. "I don't... remember."

"You... what? You hung up after you screamed. What happened?"

Kat narrowed her eyes and, after moments of trying, shook her head again. "I don't know what you're talking about, Ella. I was just taking Bones out for a walk."

Leaning to the side, I saw Bones, her tiny Chihuahua, barking at the door. "Bones is inside, Kat."

Wallowing in confusion, she placed her hands on her forehead. "I-I don't know. I think I need some rest. Would you like some tea?"

"Tea? Kat, you just called me telling me you were outside of the border!"

"Why would I go outside of the border?" She stood up slowly. "You must have misheard me. I'm sorry, Ella, but I'm really tired."

Shocked, all I could do was watch as she left. I spun around, turning my attention to the forest. It had rained earlier on, leaving droplets of water to fall from leaves, soaking up in the soil. Deep within the forest, there were shadows. Shadows which held so many secrets.

One step forward, my shoes stepped over rubble. Another step and I was on grass. Kat was in that forest and something happened to her. Something.

A curse. Wolves. It all added together. It started with a curse... but who did the curse influence?

Maybe everyone in this town.

Another step and I was cascaded by the trees' shadows. Some water droplets wetted the top of my head. It was north and I was south; for some reason, I could not ignore the invisible pull that lured me into danger. One more step and I knew that I was committed.

If Kat saw wolves in there, did she see my wolf?

I hadn't realized how deep I'd gotten until the winds were colder and the sound of cars dimmed to a bare minimum. I exhaled a breath of air and enjoyed the stillness around me. Just as I was about to turn back and bury my suspicions, a voice spoke from behind me.

"Don't go any farther, Ella." Deep, dominating, and assertive. The sound of the mayor's voice sent every nerve on my arms to tickle. When I looked behind my shoulder at him, I noticed his attention was ahead of me.

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