Read Black Moon Online

Authors: Rebecca A. Rogers

Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban

Black Moon (2 page)

BOOK: Black Moon
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Switching her weight from her right leg to her left, she retorts, “What’d you think we do, collect coffee and muffins for breakfast?”

“No, but that would be badass if you did,” I say, rubbing my belly. I drop my smile. “All right. All joking aside, I didn’t know they put you in harm’s way like that. If you want, I can talk to them—”

“No!” Jana and Blake yell at the same time, glancing at each other and then back at me.

Blake explains, “If we mention that we can’t handle something as simple as hanging out in a bar to catch information, then how will we be allowed to join you guys when shit hits the fan?”

I shake my head.

“Exactly,” he states. “We won’t, which means you guys are left without a few Watchers.”

“A few?”

This time, Jana answers, “Candra, it’s not just Blake and me who are in this; our families are, too.”

“It shouldn’t be like this, you know?” I say, trying to explain my thoughts. “I mean, it should’ve never gotten this far. You and your families shouldn’t be involved. This is our fight, not yours.” I close my eyes and bite my tongue. “I don’t mean it like
. I just mean . . .” Okay, I need to shut up before I complicate things more than they already are.

As I open my eyes, Jana loops her arm through mine and smiles. “We know. But we also know what we signed up for. We’re the good guys, Candra, remember?”

I nod, but something deep inside of me doesn’t feel the same way.

“C’mon,” says Jana. “Let’s get you cleaned up.” She coerces me toward the bathroom.

This is the first time I’ve gotten a good look at myself since the fight. Purple bruising has begun to surround my right eye, and it continues to swell so much that I’m afraid I won’t be able to open it by morning. I didn’t realize how much blood there was. It’s everywhere; all over the front of my shirt, down to my jeans, crusted around my lips and nose. Gross!

“Why didn’t you tell me I look like shit?” I ask Jana while surveying the damage done to the rest of my face and body. Blake’s mishap a few minutes ago on the stairwell confirms there are bruises on my ribcage, and a nasty bite mark on my arm.

“I’m surprised you don’t feel it. I guess you’ve been running off adrenaline.” She huffs. “Just wait until that wears off.”

“Oh, I felt it before we left the parking lot.”

“Could be a lot worse than what we see on the surface, Candra.” Turning on the cold water, she holds a washcloth underneath the spout. “Sit,” she orders, motioning with her head toward the toilet.

I drop the seat and respond with a salute. “Yes, ma’am.”

She squeezes out the excess water in the sink and then rolls the washcloth into a semi-ball, using the tight edges to clean up blood. “I still can’t believe you two were fighting over Ben,” she says, shaking her head.

Suppressing the urge to smile, I say, “I think it was more about the fact that he actually paid attention to me.”

“Well,” says Jana, pausing to inspect her clean-up job, “you might be right. But I hope this is a lesson to you.”

“Please.” I roll my eyes. “I’d fight her again. It’s not really about
. It’s between her and me.”

“Whatever. This has always been about Ben. If he wasn’t in the picture, you two wouldn’t be fighting.” She dabs my nose and lip a few more times.

“He’s not in the picture. At least, not mine.” Which is the honest-to-God truth. He made that clear a couple of months ago, and I haven’t talked to him since. What will he think when he hears Ali and I fought?

“He’ll always be in your life, Candra.” Jana sighs sincerely. “Whether you like it or not.”

“What are you talking about?”

She takes her sweet time rinsing out the bloodied washcloth before she turns to me. “Because you’re marked, remember?”

“Oh, yeah. How could I forget? The marked thing,” I say, sarcasm dripping from my words. “Seriously, stop with the cryptic language and just tell me what that means. We can’t continue to be friends and fight on the same side if you’re going to keep secrets.”

“Fine,” she says, dropping the washcloth in the sink. “I’ll tell you, then. Being marked means that, at some point down the road, you two will be mates.”

“Mates?” I laugh. “Sounds so . . . so . . . animalistic.” But then I realize my word choice and gulp loudly.

Jana’s eyebrows rise in a way that screams,
Duh, Candra!

I hold one finger in the air, directed toward her. “We can’t be together. So there’s no way I’m going to hump Ben in the future, let alone anything else.”

“Whatever you say,” she adds indifferently.

“Jana . . .” I begin, but don’t know exactly where I’m headed with this. “What gives him the right to mark me? I mean, how can he have that ability, anyway?”

“You remember that night at the movies?”

How could I forget? It was so random for him to approach me and hand over a twenty-dollar bill, then leave like nothing ever happened.

“Anytime a werewolf of the opposite sex hands you something that belongs to them, and you accept, you’re marked.”

I scrunch my face. “That’s stupid. How was I supposed to know?”

She shrugs. “I don’t make the rules, but I know that rule’s been around for generations.”

“What if I want him to
-mark me?”

“Not possible,” she says. “Whatever you do, though, don’t give him anything of yours.”

“Why not?”

“It would link you two. Forever. He could see your thoughts, and you his. He’d know where you were at all times. That wouldn’t exactly be the best gift to have during this battle. You two would know one another’s plans before the other could react. We don’t have time to teach you to block your thoughts. So, just save us the trouble and don’t go anywhere near him.”

Even though the words are coming from Jana’s mouth, it’s still a hefty pill to swallow. I failed in trying to make peace between our families, and in the process, happened to fall for my sworn enemy. Sounds lame, but Ben’s different from the others. Or maybe he’s put me under one of his black-magic spells. Who knows?

“So, why’d he pick me? Why not Ali? I thought those two were inseparable.”

“I can’t answer that for you, only Ben can.” Pointing a finger at my face, she adds, “But don’t even
about using that as an excuse to talk to him.”

I hold my hands up in mock surrender. “Wasn’t planning on it.” Sucks my best friends don’t trust me, but I can’t say I blame them. The past few months have been filled with nothing but me walking into thorny bushes, getting stuck, and hoping someone will rescue me before I bleed to death.

Jana motions for me to follow her back into her room. Blake’s too busy thumbing the controls on the Xbox to notice us. Giving me the once-over, Jana says, “I’m going to see if we have any frozen peas. Be right back.”

As soon as she’s out of earshot, Blake pauses his game. “Listen,
, Jana and I care a lot about you; otherwise, we wouldn’t be involved. I know Jana can be frustrating sometimes, but you have to be patient with her. She’s like a mother, even to me. And God knows I sure as hell don’t need a second mom.” He snorts. “But there’s something comforting about it. Just take it easy on her, all right? She’s under a lot of stress.”

“Aren’t we all?” I retort, but Blake has already resumed his violent shoot-out with the enemy onscreen, so he can’t hear me. Figures.

And the Ben thing? Why couldn’t she have told me that sooner? “There has to be a way for him to un-mark me,” I mumble to myself, the words no sooner leaving my mouth than Jana returns.

“I couldn’t find peas, but I did find mixed veggies.” She lifts her shoulders, lets them hang there for a second, and then drops them. “Guess they work the same.”

I gladly take it from her, lie back on her bed, and drape most of the plastic bag filled with frozen greens over my face. “Thanks.”

Blake once again pauses the game, violent yelling and gunfire immobilized. I raise the icy sack from my face, only to realize both Jana and Blake have frozen—legs, hands, arms, faces, all unmoving—like the animated soldiers onscreen. Mid-action. Dead silent. Before I can ask what the hell is going on, pounding sounds on the other side of Jana’s door. I nearly jump out of my skin. Jana takes long strides across the room then jerks it open. Two adults stand on the opposite side—a man and a woman.

“There’s been a sighting,” the woman says.

Jana, breathless, asks, “What can we do?”

“The only thing we can do,” says the man. “Fight.”

Chapter Two

old up. What do you mean
?” I scoot to the edge of Jana’s bed, as if that can help me hear their responses better. “Does this have something to do with more cults around Hartford?”

The woman, who I now see has the same freckles on her nose as Jana, and the same short haircut—or Jana resembles her, I should say—casts a sideways glance toward her counterpart, who, I’m guessing, is Jana’s father.

Before the woman can respond, Jana says, “Mom, Dad, this is Candra.”

Now that she’s confirmed my uncertainties, I wish I had a camera to capture the looks on their faces. Is that shock? Horror that I dare step foot in their house, the one person who’s caused so many problems? No, it’s more like elatedness, because the moment Jana’s words register in her parents’ brains, their mouths stretch into the biggest damn smiles I’ve ever seen.

“Oh, Candra . . .” Mrs.
exhales, eyes sparkling, hands clasped together at her chest. “It’s so nice to finally meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too,” I reply. “Look, I don’t know if my family ever thanks Watchers for all the hard work they do, but they appreciate it.” What is this, a guilty party? Am I feeling like I should clean up the mess I’ve made and brown-nose while I’m at it?

booming voice fills the tiny room: “No need to thank us. We volunteered to do the job. Frankly, you guys need all the help you can get, and we want to clean up this town.”

Clean up this town? He makes it sound like drug addicts, gang members and prostitutes hang out on every street corner. The magic users generally find remote areas of the woods to practice their art, but lately they’ve been more blatant about locations, so that could be his reason. Plus, there are more of them now than there were two months ago. It’s going to take a while to rid Hartford of these alliances, but it’s going to take even longer to figure out
they’re actually practicing and
we can stop them.

One mission at a time.

“I hate to interfere, but we should probably get going,” says Jana.

“I’m coming with you,” I blurt, but Jana’s face is a telltale sign I’m not raiding anywhere tonight, except maybe the kitchen . . . to raid her ‘fridge.

“Sorry, Candra. You can’t go with us until after your birthday, once you’ve turned. We’d have no way of communicating with you out there,” she affirms, pointing toward the world beyond these walls.

I get it: the eerie psychic connection between my family and Watchers, the connection between werewolves of the same pack. Someone needs to remind me later how we’re able to speak via our minds. That’s just too weird.

“All right. I understand.” No need for me to pitch a hissy fit that won’t get me anywhere. I’ve got one more week before my human body takes the form of a werewolf, which is when all the fun begins. Oh, joy.

BOOK: Black Moon
8.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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