• Driving home from the grocery store father and daughter laughed in a rare light hearted moment amongst many bad. Life had become a constant battle for normalcy, well as normal as life can be when you live in a world that only dreamed of the magic that they have. That was soon to be shattered. As they drove down the street and turned onto their own the happiness depleted. Parking in the driveway all pretense of happiness had lost hope. “Get out of the car Zoe.” Her father demanded as he studied the house they lived in. It sat perfectly still, looking normal with it’s plain white color and blue trim. It was the energy around the house that had tipped them off.
    “The shields are broken.” She mumbled in shock as she threw open her own door, setting her blonde hair tumbling out of her red hoodie as the wind blew in. Closing the door as quietly as she could Zoe ran behind her father to the ‘get away car’ as she called it. A beat up old gray 83’ ford mustang sat around the corner prepped and ready to go. “Where are we going?”
    “Your old school,” He said slightly shaken as he got into the car and wiped the sweat off of his bald head before placed a hat on. Checking that all was right within the car they set off going from 0 to 60 in about 5 seconds.
    “Which one?” She asked while keeping watch for anything suspicious. “I no longer go to high school but it might be stupid to back there.” Reminding him that she was only 17 and hadn’t gotten the chance to graduate.
    “No, your middle school. You know that place like the back of your hand and it still has a reminisce of your magic so that if you use it you can with out being tracked.” They were nearly there. “It’s the perfect place to get lost in… or for you, to hide in.”
    “Don’t you think that they might be there? They must have gone there before at least and know it’s one of my old romping grounds.” He pulled into the back parking lot next to the gym. The sky blue color of the school set off against the oranges and pinks of the setting sun. Being out after dark was like asking for trouble but it was all they had.
    “Maybe but I’m counting on you to either run to take them out. I can’t use my magic here or else I’ll risk the Waiters coming running and they wont be expecting you to use your magic.” They opened the only open door to the gym. You can trust a school to keep the old tricks up, like leaving one door open when people were still there. Although it was almost 5 o’clock at night they still slipped in unnoticed. They had plenty of places to hide and although finding the classrooms that weren’t lock was hard, there were still spells in place that opened to Zoe’s hand. She praised the days of sneaking around and making mischief or having adventures with her friends in the empty school. The only question left was the one they couldn’t answer…. Was it safe? Were there Watchers and Waiters out there in the school staging as teachers? What was coming? Her father walked to the pay phone next to the girls locker room and called her mom on their emergency disposable cell phone. He made sure she had all she needed and made her know the extent of it. Both of her parents had magic and knew that anyone who could break their multitude of protection spells and add Zoe’s to that… well that takes one power person or one very smart one with a lot of power on his side. They would know we were on the run tonight and there would be a lot of people and creatures looking for me. So the best idea would be to hunker down and hide it out. She knew what her dad was hoping, he was hoping that her old magic would cover any sign of new magic’s done tonight. They were tracking his magic and there weren’t really any places that held his magic besides home and the same went for her mother. Her brother has never came into his magic, which had been the grand design of her parents that their children never learn the dangers of magic. The dangers were especially great when you had great power and a type of magic that everyone wanted to use and exploit.
    “Alright Zoe we need to hide, where do we go?” Her father queried as he spread his arm indicating that it was her place so choose.
    “I say we should try the class room area of the school,” She reasoned it out. “There are many places to hide and many exits and quite a few places that lead out side if need be. Ultimately, even though it gives us many questions it will also give whoever is after us the same ones.” Her father conceded the points and let her lead the way to the gym entrance and out into the school entryway area that lead the way to the offices, cafeteria, and the class rooms. Across the way the doors blocking their passage stood, their only hope of safety and just before they got to them he broke in. The werewolf. He was tall, muscular, and headed their way, sniffing the air. He caught sight of them as they pushed through the locked door that gave way to Zoe. Rushing her dad down the hallway Zoe pushed for the side entrance of the library. They hurried around the bookcases and hide against a wall with a bookcase on either side of them. Calming their breath they heard the Were come in and start sniffing around. There really was no way to out run a Werewolf, in fact it was near impossible to hide from one to. Hearing him making noises and searching around nearly had Zoe bolting but she couldn’t leave her dad. She would have used her magic, if it would have done any good. Most Werewolves were immune to any type of magic and she could possibly have annulated him but it would have come at to great of a price for the school and definitely given away their position.
    A moment later that wolf sniffed on passed them, causing them to look at each other with both relief and confusion. Until, that is, Zoe felt her self being poked in the side. The only thing there was a wall and a bookcase and so she looked to see what it was. She nearly screamed as the Werewolves green-gold eyes reflected at her and his hand groped at her shirt. Zoe tore out of her hiding place, pulling her father in tow and knocking the wolf into the bookcase causing it to fall over. She scrambled out of the back door to the library and down another hall of empty, dark, locked classrooms. Forcing her way into the choir room she beckoned her father in but watched as he pushed her in, pulled off her sweater, and flee. Hearing the door lock she went back to it only to see her father run then she backed up a moment later to watch as the wolf followed after him. Tears streaming down her face she waited a few beats before back tracking and going back into the library to hide near the wreckage of books she had caused. Back tracking might throw off the scent, or so she hoped.
    And so it was that Zoe sat alone, worrying about her father and trying to hear all that was possibly going on. She curled up into the tiniest ball that a 17 year old girl could get into, just to try and seem small and insignificant. She debated the price of blasting away the wolf but that would cause negative energy to settle on the school and probably jinx or hex a lot of the innocent students. As this pass through her mind she didn’t notice the slight rrrint of the back door to the library closing, or the footsteps so quiet they couldn’t be heard as they padded against the absorbing carpet. Soon the rush in her mind didn’t matter as it blanked with fear. The wolf stood before her, looking down at her. She knew he saw her and didn’t understand as he pointedly turned while still looking at her and exited through the front door. Zoe, perplexed and over curious, was stunned for a moment before deciding to follow him. He lead her down the hall and into another class room.
    “That was anti-climatic! Ok I don’t get it!” She whispered at him. “Why are you leading me around? You had me and yet… nothing!” She was to curious for much caution. She knew how dangerous werewolves could be but she also believed that they probably had a somewhat good side otherwise they wouldn’t turn back into humans. Of course there were those that couldn’t and they only fueled her theory.
    “Maybe I’m not after capturing you and you just wouldn’t stop to listen to that.” He answered smoothly, but she didn’t like that maybe.
    “Where’s my dad?” She whispered, deciding to drop one quest of curiosity for another but the wolf only looked behind her, his animal like eyes reflecting the light from the room across from them. “Is he ok?” She asked worried about him. That brought a soft smile to the wolf’s face. Still all he did was look toward the door and even nod a little at it. She turned, knowing it was the band room, and hoped that practice was still going or at least that the old teacher Mr. Cooper was there. She approached the door and noticed that hoping Mr. Cooper was there was a no go, but there where a few kids left practicing with a new teacher standing up front. Glancing at the wolf, who now stood next to her, she smiled kindly hoping against hope that he was good and then opened the door. She bound down the stairs and into the band room with great vigor. Spotting a girl she knew from her neighborhood she smiled. Everything could go wrong but possibly one thing. If this was a trap, that girl had magic and there was hope that whatever she saw wouldn’t be erased, if she sees anything that is. “Hey Shelby!” She greeted the girl with short brown hair playing the flute. Shelby looked up and smiled, not expecting to see Zoe there. “You know what, the Spot is still free,” She said casually, referring to their old hangout by the tree in the park near the school. That was the place that her parents agreed was safe for her and she knew that if her dad was ok he would go there. “And we should really go there after you get done here. It has a beautiful View at night,” That was their code word for either look out or watch what’s happening. Shelby knew a little about her magic and nodded that she knew what was happening.
    “You got it Zo! You know we’re almost done, just stay put and We’ll go together.” She was asking if she was in danger.
    “Sure! I’ve got some things in Mind about the Story we’ve been working on and you’ll Love ’em!” In return she had said yeah, they’ll try to make you forget what happens next but she could only hope Shelby would remember all the meanings. Including to tell her dad that she loved him.
    She had wondered over to the far side of the room and was peering out of the window next to the door. Wolf quickly pushed her down and whispered in her ear, “You’ll never get the chance to go, the Watchers are coming.” He peaked over again. “And worse, so are the Waiters.” He knew he couldn’t get her out now that the teacher had blocked the other door. Zoe looked at Wolf, shock and very sad.
    “You are trying to protect me, and I know you can’t do anything but…” She leaned in and pressed a very light but shocking kiss on his lips. “Thank you.” She whispered.
    It nearly tore him apart to shove her down and start wrestling her as the Watchers and Waiters walked in but he got the chance to explain that right now there was no use. Of course she had already stated that. The teacher was a Watcher and they were surrounded. But that was kind of obvious. Unless he wanted to risk the lives of all in the room he had to make her come along. But, she did have another chance if she pretended to be unconscious. She might be able to get away while the car was moving. Then, when he noticed the signs of agreement, he pretended to bite the pressure point on her neck to make her ‘pass out’ before the Watchers and Waiters could interfere. He was the one to carry her to the van and gently set her in the back, thusly he join her there. When the van started and got going Zoe rolled over and grinned at Wolf.
    “So what’s your name?” She asked as she sat up and got her bearing. There were no windows so if they spoke quietly they wouldn’t be heard or seen.
    “Um, you should be escaping and you ask me my name?” He asked, looking very confused and running a tan hand through his brown hair.
    “Yeah, so ya gonna answer me?” She asked while looking for a way to open the locked doors.
    “Yeah, you can call me Connor. So how are you going to get out?” He asked as he watched her move around. She bit her bottom lip. Concentrating.
    “Donno.” She slurred the words together and she examined the lock on the van door. Suddenly she whipped around and stared at him. “Where’s my dad and is he okay?”
    “What? Um, he’s okay. I only locked him in a classroom and I’m betting he got out.” This was getting weird. Normal people would be getting out of the van as fast as possible, he was a werewolf and most people hated his kind.
    “Good.” She said and laid back down next to him. “I guess I’ll stay and see who’s after me.” She smiled at his dumbfounded look. “Well I can’t exactly leave without getting you in trouble right? They wont belief that I over powered a were, at least not without a big boom of magic. Which if I did that would give me away. Besides they would ask you why you didn’t go after me. And if you did go after me you would be expected to find me because I wouldn’t be able to out run a were. I shouldn’t be able to out hide a were without using my magic, which will draw them to where I am. No matter what way you looked at it, it’ll seem like you helped me and after a couple of days you’ll be a wanted wolf.” He cringed because she was not only right but because being a wanted wolf means he would have no protection from those who would skewer him and roast him alive.
    “So what’s the point? Why did you come along quietly? Why do you want to be trapped? Just to find out who’s doing this? Why should it matter who? You just might be giving him what he wants!! He wants to control everything!! He wants power and you can give him that!!! Why would you walk right into that?” Crap he was worried about her. For a tough a** werewolf he was a softy for her.
    “Because there was no way I was going to win once I stepped into that classroom. You know that so why do you insist on asking me if I’m crazy when all I’m doing is logicing my way through this all. I chose my own fate and now I choose to see who’s doing this instead of going on the lamb with you when I don’t know if we can protect each other. I’ll tell you now, and I hope you don’t use this against me any time in the future, when someone has a good in them I don’t like to screw them over. It’s a weakness, I know, but it’s who I am. I care for others. I can about life, intelligent life… no matter what form it takes but more so I care about good intelligent life. It’s neither intelligent or logic to think that all people are good, but I can tell when I meet someone worth caring about.” She smiled kindly at him. That smile nearly shattered his heart. “I know you are worth caring about Connor. Besides they can’t force me into giving them anything. My family is safe and should stay that way and there is nothing they can use against me that will make me give the type of power I have to anyone who would abuse it. That would be like giving them the world on a silver platter.”
    That’s it, I’m going to have to protect her and save her from this s**t she’s gotten into. He thought as he stared at her in shock. It was going to be hard and there were a lot of strings he’d have to pull but he knew the moment any of his contacts met her they would find that she was worth the trouble. To show a werewolf, one of the lowest grunts, compassion meant she was probably playing toward the weaker but larger grouping. He knew that might be what she was doing but he really doubted she was the type of person to kiss someone to get what she wanted. He couldn’t get the gentle but shocking moment she pressed her lips to his in a brief show of gratitude out of his head.
    The van turned sharply and he knew that they were almost there. This might be the last time he got to spend alone with her for the next few days. He was tempted to take advantage of it in a way he did know if she would appreciate. So he voted against it and drew in her looks. She lay on her back, her hands behind her head, her brilliant blonde curls spilling out of her red hoodie that hugged her curves and opened enough to reveal a little cleavage covered by a white shirt. She wore faded denim jeans that hugged her hips and flared a little at the knees and covered her scuffed white and red sneakers. She looked a picture to him. She was ready to do almost anything and he knew she was capable of almost anything.
    “So, why did you kiss me?” The question slipped out but he was wonder that. There were many ways to thank someone but a kiss is for those that you loved. He was never really loved by anyone, except maybe by his best friend and he was of his own kind. Zoe was a magic user, she was of those who dubbed themselves elite and she had kissed him.
    “Because I wanted to, because I felt I needed to. I can’t explain it because I don’t just give out kisses but it seemed so right at the time. Why not kiss the cute guy who was being protective when it was to late. What counts is that he’s good and deserve something good.” She looked up at him, letting her kind smile wash over him. He could feel the warmth and kindness flow over him like nothing and no one had given him before. That was how he figured out she could push her emotions onto others as well as energy and power.
    “So you wouldn’t mind a repeat performance?” He asked before he lost his nerve and slowly leaned down to her. She didn’t move, didn’t confirm or deny him, just waited for his lips. He pressed them gently to hers and felt the warmth triple. He could literally feel her joy and pleasure and he knew she could feel his. She knew his intentions and felt his need grow but she didn’t push him back but grabbed his shoulders instead and poured her fear and sadness into the kiss as well. Warping his one arm around her waist and holding her head in the other he let her give him all those worries for the longest moment he could give her before the van stopped and he had to break the kiss. “I wont let anything happen to you, if I help it. You know the realities of the situation and know that I mean it when I say I will do what I can for you.” He whispered before letting go of her and setting her down.
    She closed her eyes and lay in mock sleep for a moment before the back door opened and a man and women stood holding them open, ready for almost anything. He actually contemplated taking her and running right then and there but knew that they wouldn’t make it far. So he scooped up her limp body and hopped out of the van to follow a group of different magic users and creatures onto the compounds of a very large manor. She stirred purposefully and clung to him and he knew it was to be as close to him as possible. She was still scared and trying to hold it back. She was right, he reminded himself, she couldn’t have left without screwing me over and I can’t leave because I’m bound. I could help her, but I can’t go with her. He had been put in a bad situation in which there wasn’t much of a choice, at least not when the girl wont screw over some guy who just tried to screw her over. Great, I’m a jackass. He concluded as he trudged up the porch to the manors front door. It was being held open for him by the owner of the manor and proprietor of all this crap going on for Zoe, Dorian Gray.
    Her eyes popped open now, her grip tightening but her face didn’t show fear, it showed the curiosity she felt. That would give Dorian hope, and Connor knew that would be a bad thing but knowing Zoe she didn’t want to show fear because it was far weaker. Giving him hope when there was none was what she wanted. He didn’t hesitate to step in, that would have given him away but he did almost growl at Dorian. Oscar Wilde got some things right when he wrote that novel of his but he could never describe Dorian quite right. Wilde was right, Dorian was beautiful, in an unusual way but his features where as ruggedly handsome,
    at most times, as Basil’s but more so on the handsome part. He had long black hair and piercing brown eyes, a strong chin and full lips that begged a women to kiss them. Harry hand it very wrong when he said that beauty was for the unthinking because Dorian was possibly the most handsome creature ever and yet he had a mind that could dissect anything that was going on in a quick and decisive manor. And Dorian never regretted what happened to him, in fact he searched for more and better venues of power and his latest was a beautiful 17 year old girl named Zoe Robb. Maybe he was hoping his looks were enough to woo her, like they worked on so many other women and Connor really hoped it didn’t work. He knew she judged people not by looks but by personality and Dorian was the king of classic bad guy persona.
    “Welcome Zoe, we are very happy to have you here. I am Dorian Gray and I am hoping to be a very good friend of yours.” He offered her a hand as Connor set her down inside the house and the door closed behind him. Zoe graciously took his hand and met his eyes curiously which made Dorian smile at her.
    “Dorian Gray, you are nothing like Oscar Wilde described. Is the whole thing about having the portrait true?” She queried as she with drew her hand.
    “Ah,” He chuckled. “So you have read about me and yes, it was once true but I no longer have the need of the portrait to live as I do.” His eyes sparkled with amusement.
    “Oh damn, that makes my job harder.” She smirked and stepped back from him to turn and head up the stair to the room she knew waited for her near the end of the hall. He was pleased about it and she had sensed it so she wanted to check it out. He was left smiling because he knew the way she was and that was basically Zoe’s version of a slap. He had hoped she could be swayed because of the curiosity on her face. She hadn’t shown any fear just curiosity and that promised at least some hope, well she had just slapped him down on purpose. She let him know she was going to try and run the show. His looks held nothing on her but that didn’t mean he didn’t have other tricks up his sleeve. It might be a good thing he wore long sleeves at that too. He chuckled, impressed and quite amused, and followed her up the stairs to her room.
    The room she walked into was almost an exact replica of her own room at home. The room was bigger, of course, but still painted the same light blue and light brown that represented the sky and the earth. Her bed was there, in the corner facing her entertainment center/dresser and her small round table sat under the window. It even had the almost exact shade of shag carpet that her house hold had adorned for going on 40 years. There were boxes of her stuff; books, cloths, art, and even her childhood toys all scatter across the floor. She might have fun putting her stuff away, thinking of it as redecoration of her actual room but that could only take a few hours then her bubble would pop and she knew it. She wasn’t angry about all that had happened. Anger wasn’t her way. She was sad though, very sad and worried. She had sounded confident to Connor but to her own mind she knew all her words of logic and encouragement rang false. Well maybe not all but she knew that the position she was in was really bad. Dorian almost always got what he wanted and she knew it from what she could sense of him. That meant there were possibilities she hadn’t considered. Possibilities that could screw her over. She would take the time she had to try and lay everything out on the table for herself, to know all the possibilities and try to see what would most likely happen. It was always good to be prepared.
    “Sorry the room is in such disarray, we didn’t exactly have much time to transport your things and put everything together.” It was Dorian’s own personal jab say that it didn’t take long to catch her and she knew it.
    “Yeah, well seeing as I didn’t put up much of a fight you would expect that wouldn’t you.” Her eyes twinkled with amusement because she could tell that the fact that she hadn’t fought hard but her back was to him and he couldn’t tell she was reading his emotions. She doubted anyone but Connor and her family knew she could read emotions and push her own onto someone. Of course she hadn’t perfected it and she could only push strong emotions that she felt onto a person.
    “Well, it matters not now. You are here and I am very happy for that. Now we can move on to the next step. I’ll leave you for now to put your things away the way you like. We shall all leave you. If you need anything just knock on the door and some one will answer.” He turned to walk away but Zoe got her last word in.
    “If you think I will stay locked in this room you are sorely mistaken. If I need anything I will open the door and ask where it is to get it myself. I know I can’t leave the compounds, at least not easily, but I know I can break the spells you have to keep me in this room and in the house like it was nothing. But that’s it isn’t it. If I break the one on the room a stronger one goes around the manor and if I break that a near impossible one to break goes around the compound.” She had turned to watch his back and midway through her demand he had turned back to her.
    “You know your shields well. Yes, that is what will happen. So I trust you wont leave my house until you get absolutely stuffy in hopes that you ca figure out how to break the last barrier.” It was an entertaining back and forth between then. Them each pegging each other on how they would act or what they had already done. Zoe really was an interesting teenager or so Dorian thought.
    “Yep, you got that right. I wont just bow down and do as you wish Dorian. What I have is dangerous and whatever you want to do with my power is not something good. I wont give you any of my power.” It wasn’t anger that drove her to say it, it was confidence and caring. She knew he respected her more as every word came out of her mouth and she also knew he was counting her as the greatest challenge. She couldn’t tell if he wanted to crush her spirit or try to change her mind but she knew he was going to do whatever he could to win.
    “Yes, well we shall see what happens. The future is not definite and anything can happen. You don’t know everything I am capable of and I’m assuming the same for me to you. Soon though I will know the extent of your magic and you, well you will know the extent of my will.” With that he strode out and beckoned those with him to follow, including Connor. He was the one to close the door on her, his eyes filled with sadness but promise. He would do what he could for her.
    She turned and started on unpacking to calm herself. Sadness washed over her but that wouldn’t last long. She pulled out a mix CD and popped it into her stereo system that had been place onto of her entertainment center and hooked everything up to the TV then plugged it in. The process was one she knew so she did it mindlessly then pressed her eyes closed as Cascada blasted out of the speakers. A yelp of surprise sounded from the other side of the door and brought a smile of pleasure to Zoe’s lips. Opening the closet she notice with joy that there were shelves and drawers places to organize her stuff. Mostly she was happy because she had a place to put her books and there were plenty of those. She opened the closest box labeled books and pulled out her notebook with a list of books she had. She kept track so she knew what was the next one she wanted in a series and so forth. She flipped through to take in some of the memories she had from the books she saw printed in her own neat writing. On the third page under a series she had been reading then next book, that wasn’t even out yet, was written in in a hand writing that was still neat but not hers. She nearly chucked the notebook aside to dive into the box and pull it out. She held it reverently. It was the last book in there series she had been dying for. Over a year she had been waiting and here it was. It was something small but her love for books caused her to rush over to the door and knock. She waited for the door to open but instead she heard a little pop and then looking down at her feet she saw a little black dog like Toto off of the Wizard of Oz barking at her feet. She bent down, her blonde hair tumbling about her shoulders, and picked up the dog.
    “I guess you are my guard?” She said questioningly. “Well can you take a message for me?” When the dog barked the affirmative she smiled. “Tell whoever gave me this book thank you, please. It was very nice and although I don’t like bribery I can’t help it I want the book really bad.” The dog wagged it’s tail and barked again. Zoe took that as a you got it. She chuckled and gave the dog a kiss on top of it’s head and a nice rub. In response the dog wiggled with happiness and started to shift. It went through a cascade of shaped, mostly animals. A cat, frog, monkey, koala, mostly things fuzzy or cute. When it was done showing off and making Zoe laugh it popped back under the door in the shape of Toto again. “I would call you Toto but he was a boy and I think she was a girl.” Zoe laughed again and laid the book on her bed for later. If she went to read it now she would never get to putting away her stuff. One sad thought she let herself have was that all this stuff would be lost to her when she left. It was very sad to her but material things could be replaced, she knew that.