Chapter Fifty Four

“What took you so long?" D.K. demanded as I came in the front door.
 
“Sorry," I got sidetracked.
 
D.K. stood up and glared at me.  “Woman, when I tell you to do something, you'd better get it done fast, you hear?"
 
“Yeah," I said, bowing my head sheepishly.  “Sorry."
 
He fumed for a few seconds, and then asked, “You got the money?"
 
“Yeah," I said, taking it out of my pocket.  He snatched it from me the moment I held it out.
 
“You didn't spend it on nothing, did you?" he asked, flipping through the bills.
 
“No, D.K.," I said.  I wanted to roll my eyes, but couldn't bring myself to do it.  Not with him right there, watching me.
 
“Fine," he pocketed the money, “now get outta here."
 
I turned to head back to my room.
 
“Hold up!" he said, and I turned to look at him again.  He went back to his chair, and picked something up off the floor.  My breath caught in my throat when I realized what it was
 
“This your jacket?"
 
I nodded, still not able to breathe.
 
“Where'd you get it from?  I didn't buy it for you."
 
“Well, um," I stammered, trying to figure out a good excuse, “I didn't have one before, and it's cold outside, so I stole it."
 
My alpha stared at me for a few seconds, and I silently kicked myself.  Why had I just left it there on the porch?  How could I have been so stupid?
 
“Watch yourself, girl," he said, finally, and threw the jacket across the room at me.  I caught it.  “I don't want no trouble with the cops, you hear?  If they catch you stealing, you don't come back."
 
This caught me off guard.  “Um…"
 
“Shut up!  I don't care if Majestic said we had to babysit you and your sister.  If you get the cops over here, you're out!  Both of you!  If Majestic has a problem with that, you can tell them to shove it."
 
I gulped nervously, and nodded my head.  “Yes, D.K."
 
“Now get outta here," he said again, and waved me away.  I didn't give him time to change his mind again, but his words echoed in my ears all the way back to my room.  There was a limit to his patience, or what little he had of it at least.  Good thing I had no reason to tell him about the jacket and pants I really had stolen.
 
“Hey."
 
I paused, and saw Tyler standing in the doorway to one of the other rooms.  He beckoned me inside, and then shut the door behind me.
 
“It go okay?" he asked.
 
I briefly considered telling him about Roy, but decided against it.  I didn't think a purse-snatcher like him, even a magical one, posed much of a threat to a werewolf pack, but I didn't want to risk the information getting to D.K.  Knowing my alpha, he'd probably send the entire pack to track him down and kill him.
 
“Yeah, it went fine," I answered.  “What's up?"
 
“It's almost dark.  When D.K. goes to bed, take Kimberly outside."
 
I raised my eyebrow. “Why?"
 
“I'll be out there waiting for you," he said.
 
“Okay, but why am I bringing her outside?"
 
Tyler glanced at the door, and then pulled me away from it with one of his powerful hands.  Even as a werewolf, I was no match for strength like that.
 
“The full moon is only a week away," he said at last, his voice hardly more a whisper.
 
“I know," I agreed, a familiar sick feeling returning to my stomach.  “You promised to help her."
 
He nodded.  “That's what this is for."
 
“What does she need to be there for?" I asked.  “Can't you tell me what to expect without her?  I mean, no offense, but I don't want to scare her with all this."
 
“We're going to do more than just talk.  She needs to get used to being around werewolves."
 
“She's around me all the time," I argued, though I wasn't sure why, since I didn't disagree with him.
 
“And only you," he pointed out.  “She's barely spent five minutes with the rest of the pack."
 
“Wait," I held up my hand.  “You're not going to invite Kaylie and D.K. to this too, are you?"
 
Tyler shook his head.  “No, she'll have time to get used to them later.  For now, we have to make her feel comfortable just being around other wolves.  The worst thing that could happen to a first time changer is being afraid of the other wolves."
 
I thought about this, and slowly nodded my agreement.  I didn't know what to expect for her first change, but he was right— being afraid of the rest of us definitely wouldn't help matters.  She'd screamed the first time she saw me turn into a wolf, so this time we needed to…
 
“Hold on a second," I said, a stray thought occurring to me.  “You said we're going to get her ready for being around us on the full moon.  Does that mean…" My voice trailed off.
 
“Yeah," Tyler said, nodding.  “We're going to spend the night with her in our wolf forms."
 
And that was all he had to say about that.  Without another word, he opened the door and left me alone.  I sucked in a deep breath, pushing away my dread, and headed for my room.  He was right, I guess.  This needed to happen sooner or later.  Out in the hallway, I saw D.K. heading for his bedroom, and my stomach turned over.  Looks like I wasn't even going to have time to prepare.  I opened my door and went inside to find Kimberly already asleep in bed.
 
“Hey, wake up," I said, shaking her shoulder.  She blinked a couple of times and sat up, yawning.  “Get dressed, we're going outside."
 
“What?" she asked, looking at me with bleary eyes.  Despite her confusion, she got up and lethargically started changing out of her pajamas.
 
“Hurry," I urged her, kneeling to help her tie her shoes.
 
“What are we doing?" she asked.
 
I was so nervous that it felt like my stomach was trying to crawl out my belly button, but I managed to keep my voice steady when I answered.
 
“Tyler wants us to meet him," I said.
 
This perked her up a bit, and she grinned at me. “We're gonna go see your booooyfriend?"
 
I reached over and tweaked her ear.  “He is not my boyfriend," I said.  Then I got up, retrieved a jacket for her out of the closet, and helped her put it on.  I picked up the one D.K. had found off the bed, but after a moment of thinking, put it back.  It wasn't like I would be wearing it for long.
 
“Come on, then," I said, leading the way to the door.  I put my hand on the knob and then turned back to her.  “Be quiet, though, all right?  We don't want to wake anybody up."
 
Kimberly nodded and put her finger to her lips, still smiling at her earlier joke.  Then, moving as slowly as I dared, I opened the door and led her down the hallway.  The front door was already unlocked, which I guessed was a good sign that Tyler had already left.  I opened it and ushered Kimberly outside, easing it shut again behind me.
 
It is way too easy to sneak out like this, I thought.  Not that I was complaining or anything…
 
“So, what's your boyfriend want?" Kimberly asked as I took her hand and led her towards the woods.
 
“He's got something planned for us," I answered, trying to sound cheerful.
 
She looked up at the moonlit sky.  “At night?"
 
I nodded.  “At night."
 
“Oh.  Is it something fun?"
 
No, most definitely not, I thought, but declined to give her an actual answer.
 
“Over here," I heard Tyler's voice call to us from somewhere to our right.  Kimberly froze, obviously caught off guard by his sudden announcement, but I had known he was there even before he spoke.  Even as a human, my nose and ears were sensitive enough to pick things like that up now.
 
Was I ever really that blind? I thought, watching Kimberly look around, trying to find Tyler.  As a werewolf, my other senses were just as important to me as sight.  Without them, I would have felt just that: blind.
 
“Come on," I said reassuringly, taking her hand and leading her towards his voice.  We found him standing in the shadows of the trees, his arms crossed.  “We made it," I said, trying to smile even though my anxiety was only made worse by seeing him.  Not being able to find him would have been my last excuse for not making Kimberly go through this tonight.
 
“What're we doing?" Kimberly asked, some of her fear gone now that he was in plain sight.
 
Tyler gave me a sharp look.  “You haven't told her yet?"
 
I grimaced.  “I wasn't sure how to."
 
Tyler looked back down at her, and before I could stop him, he said, “Your first full moon is coming up soon.  We need to get you used to being around other wolves."
 
Kimberly face paled visibly, even in the dim moonlight, at the mention of her first change.  Somehow, I got the impression that she'd managed to forget about that part of herself in the wake of everything else that had happened.  Still, to her credit, she didn't cry or try to run.  I was so proud of her…
 
“Amber and I are going to turn into wolves, and you'll spend the night with us," he went on.  “Don't run, don't scream, and don't try to fight."
 
I gave Tyler an incredulous look.  “Seriously?  Now you're trying to scare her!"
 
He shrugged.  “I'm not good with kids."
 
I turned and knelt down to be at eye level with Kimberly.  “Don't listen to him, okay?  Nothing is going to hurt you."
 
Tyler's warning seemed to have scared her, but she still managed to give me a brave, if not somewhat unconvincing, smile.  “Promise you won't let your boyfriend eat me?"
 
I laughed, and mussed up her hair.  “If I had a boyfriend, maybe I could promise that."
 
When I stood up, Tyler raised his eyebrows at me.  “Boyfriend, huh?"
 
Suddenly, I was glad it was dark so that he couldn't see how red my face had turned.  “Don't you start too," I said.
 
I wasn't really paying attention, but I could have sworn that Tyler actually laughed at that…
 
“Okay," he said before I could think about it long.  He turned to Kimberly.  “Ready?"
 
Kimberly sucked in a breath, and then nodded.
 
“Right," he said, and started to pull his shirt up.
 
“Whoa, hold on!" I demanded, stepping in front of him.  He lowered his shirt again, giving me a confused look, and suddenly my face was burning again.  “Maybe… maybe you should go somewhere else to do that."
 
“It's better if she sees us changing," he told me.
 
“I'll stay here," I insisted.  “She can watch me change.  You go somewhere she can't see you, and come back after you're done."
 
Tyler thought for a minute, and then nodded.  Without a word, he turned and walked further into the forest, leaving Kimberly and me alone for the moment.  I sighed with relief.  At least Kimberly wouldn't have to deal with that tonight, too.
 
“Why'd you make him go away?" Kimberly asked.
 
I laughed and shook my head.  “You'll understand when you're older."
 
And with that, I began to strip.  Kimberly watched with mute curiosity as I took off my clothes, piling them on the ground beside me.  It still wasn't a great situation, but at least she was with another girl, I thought.  I shivered when the chilly wind bit my skin.
 
“Why do you take your clothes off?" she asked.
 
“So that I don't ruin them," I explained.  “I'm bigger as a wolf, so if I kept them on they'd all break."
 
She nodded, and I knelt down in front of her again and put a comforting hand on her cheek.
 
“Don't be scared," I whispered.  “Remember, no matter what I look like, I'll still be me."
 
I looked into her eyes, and finally saw just how scared she was.  It felt like a nail was being driven into my heart.  She was way too young to have to go through this.  And it was my fault…
 
Finally, she nodded.  I stood up, and took a few steps back to a spot where the moonlight shone more brightly on the ground.
 
Then, without giving myself more time to think about it, I changed.
 
 
 
NEXT TIME: Well, I'm glad she got that mess with Roy all sorted out.  At least D.K. isn't declaring another gang war or anything.  But what about Kimberly?  Will she make it through the night okay?  I see approximately 519 things that could go horribly wrong here… and 3 health code violations.

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