Notes: Here it is! Super excited to be delivering content with Camille and Kyla in it again :D. Enjoy!
The night air was cold and crisp. It froze in my lungs, cooling the heated blood in my veins and the burning in my muscles so I could keep pushing. Keep running. Each hot exhale I released swirled like a fog as I blew by it, as white in the moonlight as the lingering snow beneath my paws. But I wasn’t cold. My golden fur shielded me from the blast of icy winds as we shot through the woods, and Camille was running so close to my side that the length of her wolf body was pressed right against mine, and I could feel the heat pouring off of her.
We were chasing a ghost, catching only glimpses of the white flashes through the trees, or disturbing what was left of its hovering clouds of breath. But we were gaining on it. We had been for the last few minutes, ever since Camille caught the scent in the still air and tracked the paw prints to our prey’s hiding spot. We were getting close enough that the flashes of white were no longer indistinguishable from the snow, but a clear outline of wolf from head to tail.
For every pace that put us closer, the blood connection I shared with Camille shared the spikes of building excitement that coursed through her. And each time I felt it, there was an answer of excitement in me. It echoed between us with every strike of our paws in the snow, until it reached a point where I could feel that Camille was ready to end this. Could feel a desire for the reward of the chase, an anticipation for it that had grown so strong it was ready to snap, and with that peak came a shift of action.
Camille gathered a burst of strength and left my side, and I pushed through the burning in my limbs to match her stride for stride. We separated, using our speed to edge around our prey, until we were in line with the glimmer of white fur. It was Camille who’d caught the scent, Camille who’d tracked and gotten us this far, and now it was my turn. We closed in, dodging trees and getting so near to the wolf that I made out the whites of its hazel eyes.
It was looking at me, knowing I’d be the one to pounce and go in for the take down, and I knew that it was scheming some way to avoid my attack. All I had to do was wait for an opening. I stared into its eyes through the rhythmic clouds of air it exhaled, keeping pace and cutting left or right when there was a tree in my path, but never removing my focus. Then it happened. The wolf glanced to its right to look at Camille on its other side, and I sprang.
I left the ground, throwing myself at the wolf and landing right on its back, taking the scruff of its neck between my teeth. It was smaller than Camille and me, and it toppled under my weight so we went rolling in a clumsy heap through the snow. Our momentum was so great that we came to a stop only when we crashed into a tree, and a sharp pang shot through the side of my back as I hit it. It caused me to release the grip of my teeth, and the wolf and I both recovered at the same time.
We darted up, not wasting a moment before going back at each other in a tangle of fur. Teeth flashed and paws swiped as rumbling growls filled the air. I leapt and slashed and feigned, trying everything to throw my opponent off its feet and get my teeth on its neck, while trying to avoid the same. Camille was circling the sharp coil we’d become, surveying for the opportunity to dive in and help without making it harder for me to aim.
Her opportunity came only a few seconds later. She dashed forward to snap her jaws around one of the white wolf’s hind legs and tugged. It pulled the wolf off balance and sent it crumbling, but Camille didn’t let go. She dragged the wolf backward instead, which kept it from regaining its feet for the brief span of time it took me to pounce. I went in from the left, stretching my mouth wide to set my teeth on either side of the wolf’s throat, and though everything went dead still and silent, I didn’t bite down for the kill. I angled my head to meet the wolf’s eyes, and it went limp beneath my hold as it let out a defeated growl. I let go, leaping backward in a triumphant prance as Camille jumped on the wolf to get in a few teasing bites of her own.
The ghost was Luna, Camille’s fraternal twin sister. Sometimes Camille and I won the chase, sometimes she did, but the three of us had had plenty of runs like this since she’d moved to Oregon – plenty of nights tracking and chasing and play fighting in the woods that surrounded the Pack house, and here, too, in the woods around our school. This was our last night before the start of second semester, a semester Luna would stay for. She’d never admit she came here because she missed Camille, and Camille likely wouldn’t admit to being excited about it, but I could tell just by watching them struggle in the snow that they were glad to be together again.
It didn’t take Luna long to battle Camille off of her and regain her feet, and while she shook out the ice crystals and scuffle from her fur, Camille came over to me. Her long, canine tongue swiped up the side of my face, and I ducked my head against her shoulder to return the affection. But I was still riled up and excited from the hunt, and couldn’t help a bit of mischief as I stretched forward to bite down on her hind leg. With it in my teeth, I pulled it out from under her and threw all my weight sideways, knocking her into the snow. I nudged her over onto her back, and she tried only halfheartedly to bat me away with her paws while I dipped in and out to nip at her neck and stomach.
We messed around for a minute before I realized that Luna hadn’t interrupted yet, and looked over to find her nursing a small wound where Camille had bitten down. When Camille realized it too, she pushed up to go and give her sister an apologetic nudge. Luna growled, side-eying Camille irritably while Camille bowed, her back half wagging in the air. Luna wasn’t really mad, and after a tense pause, she pounced. They wrestled for a minute before she managed to line Camille up under her back paws and kick, using the surge to hurl herself to all fours and take off running. I gave chase without hesitation, hearing a third stride pick up behind us.
It was getting late, and Luna was racing us back in the direction of school. She had a head start, but it didn’t take long for me to catch up, and Camille soon after. We matched Luna’s easy pace, tired enough by now not to push. Before long we were back on the outskirts of the dorm buildings where we’d left our clothes hidden in backpacks up a tree. Luna was the first to Phase back to human, and then Camille and I, and I felt a cold shiver travel up my arms when the lack of fur left me bare to the winter chill.
Finished dressing in a rush, Luna threw her backpack over her shoulders. “It’s freezing,” she said, pulling the hood of her jacket over her head of platinum blond hair, better shielding herself from the cold. “I’m out.” She tossed a wave at us and jogged off in the direction of the dorms.
By the time I was done pulling on my shoes, Camille was dressed and holding my jacket up for me. I slipped my arms in, and then turned to wrap them around her neck and kiss her on the cheek. “Thanks.”
She nodded in the direction Luna had disappeared. “I think that was the fastest you’ve ever pinned her.”
“You helped,” I pointed out.
“Only a little.” She slipped her hands underneath my jacket, and at first I thought it was to keep them warm against my skin, but then she slid one up to where I’d hit my back on the tree. “Are you bruised?”
I shook my head. “Why?”
“I think…” She hesitated, pausing in consideration. “I think our connection might be getting stronger. When you hit that tree, I could’ve sworn I felt it.”
“It hurt you?” I asked in shock. The blood connection we shared was because of our emotional intimacy when Camille bit me, and it had grown stronger. We could always feel each other’s emotions, and sometimes the physical expressions of more extreme emotions – like my chest tightening from Camille’s heartbreak when she missed Lacey, her best friend who’d died last semester; or like we experienced some of the jumps and peaks in each other’s bodies when we got intimate – but it’d never extended to physical pain.
“Not hurt,” she answered, and in the moonlight I watched her brown eyes squint in concentration. “Just a little pressure, like someone pushed me there.”
I hummed. It was exciting progress – if it was progress– but I wasn’t ready to get serious yet. So I brushed her curly blond hair back over her shoulder, and dipped forward to nip at her neck, punctuating the action with a kiss. “That kind of pressure?” I whispered against her skin.
We used teeth all the time in wolf form, but its effect on human Camille was always infinitely more stirring, and her fingers twitched on my hip. “Not quite,” she said.
“Let me know when…” I opened my mouth against the side of her neck, biting gently and then soothing it with my lips, only to repeat the action a little harder.
The second pass of my teeth had her hands gripping tighter, and by the third, she’d pulled me closer. She seemed to be enjoying it too much to say anything until my tongue touched down, and though she hummed her pleasure, she stopped pulling me closer. “Not out here,” she murmured, fingers flexing like they were trying their best to let me go. “It’s too cold.”
“Alright,” I said, kissing up to her jaw. “Get your bag.” I kissed along her jaw to her chin. “And I’ll race you to the dorms.”
One brief peck to her lips and then I’d grabbed my bag and was off. She laughed behind me, and then her swift two-legged stride was crunching through the snow. She was a better runner than me, and it didn’t take her long to catch up, but we were both panting by the time we reached the door of the building. I pulled my room keys from my bag and scanned my ID card so we could get through the front door. We walked through the lobby so as not to get yelled at by the security guard, who already didn’t look too happy about us coming in so late.
We stayed on our best behavior while we waited for the elevator, and then while we got on and stood side by side, but the lift had only gone one floor before Camille’s hand reached over and slipped into the back pocket of my jeans. I clicked my tongue. “No self-control.”
“This is self-control,” she said, but I could see the smirk on her face out of the corner of my eye as she squeezed my backside.
It was past one in the morning, so we were probably the only ones wandering the building, and I really didn’t care about self-control. I turned and grabbed the neck of her jacket to pull her to me, to get as much of her as I could before our elevator ride was over, but her lips barely grazed mine when the doors dinged and opened. One of my hands stayed clutched in her coat as we rushed down the hall to my dorm room, so it was already there when we got in and closed the door behind us. So it was that much easier for me to push the jacket off her shoulders and get to the rest of her clothing.
And her lips finally met mine in the open kind of kiss that left me breathless. That kept me breathless until our clothes were scattered piles on the floor and we’d robbed each other of whatever energy was left after the run. Until we were a tuckered out mess of tangled limbs under the blankets on my bed, and Camille was tracing her usual tired lines up and down my back. I laid my head on her chest, listening to the thud of her heartbeat returning to normal while I tapped out every other pulse against her shoulder, trying to get my own to match it.
“You want to shower with me?” she asked after a minute.
I rolled off of her to lie at her side, but was so tired that I ended up flopping onto my back instead. “I can hardly move.”
“Aw, did we run you too hard?” she teased, turning to half lie over me while she slipped her hand under the covers to trace my hip, purposefully skimming a spot that she knew tickled.
I held back a giggle and twitched away from her fingers. “Next time, you can pin Luna, and we’ll see how tired you get.”
“I know I’d be tired,” she admitted. “It’d take me at least twice as long if I even managed it.”
“Oh, is that why you let me do it?” I asked, sliding my hand up her arm. “Make me do all the work and then take me to bed just so you can run me some more.”
“Half the work,” she said with a glare, because she’d done all the tracking. “And you weren’t complaining a few minutes ago.”
“Well it’s hard to do much at all with your fingers-”
She cut me off with a kiss, trying to hold back a smile when she pulled away. “Finish that sentence and you’ll be passed out in another twenty minutes.”
I gave her shoulder a push and laughed, “Go shower.”
She climbed out of bed and started gathering my shower supplies, eventually saying, “I’ll be back,” while wrapping a towel around her bare body for the short trip to the bathrooms.
I nodded and watched her head out the door as I settled into bed. I stared across the empty dorm, fingering the sheets as the spot where she’d been lying was already losing heat, and it wasn’t even a minute before the stillness that sometimes came started creeping in on me. The new silence left me with nothing to do but think, and I thought about what I never wanted to think about. About being kidnapped only a semester ago, about fights and traumas and pain. But it wasn’t the thinking – I could force that away and think about nothing or distract myself with other things – nor was it the stillness of being alone so much.
It was what I felt in those moments. It was the emptiness in my chest that came from forcing myself not to think, because it meant I had to shut out everything, even things that might help me feel better. It was the discomfort bordering on nausea in my stomach, because even if I didn’t think about it, the memories were still there at the back of my mind, nagging at my instincts. I couldn’t control that.
Camille and I shared so much – if the connection didn’t make sure of it, it would’ve been certain because I loved her. But there was something I hadn’t shared. Something I wanted to but didn’t know how, and hadn’t worked up the courage to try because I knew how Camille would react. She’d feel guilty, like she felt guilty for turning me even though it saved my life, or like she felt guilty for the scar she’d slashed into the back of my left shoulder, even though it was an accident and she thought she was being attacked by a phantom. So I kept it to myself, but not saying it felt like lying, because in those still moments she was present for, she always knew something was wrong. She could feel it in the connection, and not telling her made me feel guilty.
The door cracked open, and Camille slipped in with a laugh of, “Forgot the shampoo.” She crossed the room to grab it, but on her way back to the door, she stopped to look at me. “You okay?”
I glanced up from where I was still staring and met her gaze, nodding and forcing a smile. Forcing myself to stop thinking about it because I didn’t want to think about it, and I didn’t want her to feel it. “Fine.” And that was enough. She didn’t force it because that’s not who she was, and she never pressured me for anything.
She hesitated to return the smile, but then did and slipped out once more. I stretched for the cellphone on the nightstand to make sure my alarm was set, and then curled up under the blankets and was tired enough that I was asleep by the time she got back. The alarm woke me up the next morning. Well, it was Camille stretching over from behind me to try and reach the alarm that woke me. She couldn’t get to it from where she was, and gave up after a second and dropped back onto her pillow with a groan. My lips curled into a smile as I grabbed the phone myself to turn it off, and then scooted farther back into the warmth of her body.
It took a good minute of reminding myself that I had to get up and shower before I could open my eyes again. I turned around in Camille’s arms to face her, whispering, “I got to shower.” I wasn’t even sure if she was awake, but then she made another noise of protest and tightened her hold on me. “I’ll be back,” I said, peeling her arms from my waist while I pressed a kiss to her cheek. “Want me to bring some food? Or you want to get breakfast together?” This time, she cracked one eye and gave me an innocent smile, and I understood that look perfectly. “I’ll bring food.”
After giving her one last kiss, I slipped out of bed, gathered my shower supplies and clothes, and tiptoed out the door. I showered in our floor’s bathroom, got dressed and dried my hair, and then hurried downstairs to collect breakfast – a bagel, an egg and cheese sandwich that I practically swallowed whole while waiting in line, the breakfast burrito and boiled eggs I got for Camille, and a coffee each. It was a little tough carrying everything back upstairs while still holding my bag of shower stuff, but I managed to get through the door and kick it closed behind me.
“Morning, Luna,” I greeted without looking, having caught her scent while I went to drop everything onto the desk.
“You brought me food,” Luna cooed, hopping off the bed. “How sweet.”
But as Luna took a step toward the desk and me, Camille reached out from where she was lying and grabbed the back of her jacket to stop her. “Not for you,” Camille said. I sat on the edge of the desk, sipping my coffee while Camille tried to wake herself up and struggled out of bed. A minute later she’d risen and trudged across the room to me, and she planted a tired kiss to my lips. “You’re the best.”
“You’re welcome.” I set my coffee down to grab my bagel, checking my cellphone with my free hand. “Better hurry, you got fifteen minutes to eat and get ready.”
She was already peeling down the foil wrapper of her burrito, but at that, she leaned over to get a look at the phone, eyes going wide. “You have anything else to do before you’re ready?” she asked. I shook my head, and she took a massive bite of her burrito and then extended it toward my free hand, asking through a full mouth, “Can you hold that please?”
I held it while she searched around the floor and her drawer in my dresser for fresh clothes, offering her a bite every time she got a spare moment. Luna laughed at the next mouthful, telling me, “You’re way too good to her.”
I smirked, extending the food so Camille could get another bite. “Love is holding your girlfriend’s breakfast so she can multitask.”
Luna hummed an agreement and began crossing the room, but she glanced at Camille as she passed by me, making sure she wasn’t looking and then stealing her own swift bite of the burrito in my hand. “Thanks, babe,” she muttered through a full mouth.
Camille swung her leg, and would’ve managed to kick Luna in the rear if Luna hadn’t dodged toward the door with a laugh. “Coffee?” Camille asked, rolling her eyes. I pointed, and she took a gulp before pulling on her socks and brushing her unruly hair. “And,” she said, tugging on her hooded sweater at the same time as she slipped her feet into her shoes, “done.” She plopped down on the desk beside me and took her food. “Thank you.”
Luna checked the time on her own phone. “Seven minutes. Not bad.”
We hovered around for a few while I drank my coffee and Camille scarfed down the rest of the breakfast I’d brought her, and then we left to start heading to our classes. We only just left the front doors of the building when I grabbed Camille’s arm and stopped in my tracks. There was a swarm of police cars outside the dorm building next to ours, surrounded by a group of students who were too curious to have abandoned the scene for campus. Not a moment after I’d processed the situation, I dragged Camille over without saying a word and with Luna beside us, pushing through the crowd of our peers to get to the inside of it, where the police cars had blocked off the sidewalk. There were a few cops outside who looked like they were taking statements from students, but the rest must have been inside the building.
“What d’you think happened?” I asked, using Camille’s shoulder to stretch higher onto my tiptoes, trying to get a better view through the glass doors at the entrance.
“I think someone died,” a random girl behind us answered.
Luna glanced back at her. “Why do you think that?”
The girl pointed at the only ambulance parked on the outside of the group of cop cars. “It’s been there for over twenty minutes and they haven’t brought anyone down.”
Both Luna and I looked at Camille, but she just shrugged. Our school had a lot of supernatural students, but I’d never heard of there being a death on campus before. At least not recent enough that Camille or my friend Abby had ever mentioned it. Even the ordeal with the phantoms last semester was completely unrelated to school – it was a group of vampires in the city. But as we stood there, watching, the front doors of the building finally opened, and the EMTs came out pushing a stretcher, the person on it covered head-to-toe with a white sheet. The girl had been right. Dead.
The EMTs carted the stretcher toward the ambulance, and as they bumped it up against the back of the vehicle to load it in, the hand of the body slipped out from underneath the white sheet.
“Look,” I hissed, grabbing Camille’s arm again and pointing. There was a strange mark carved into the person’s palm.
“Weird,” Luna murmured.
It looked like an occult symbol, like the kinds I’d seen around a magic shop once when I went with Abby, or in some of the old books at the Pack house. Needless to say, my curiosity spiked. I wanted to know what happened. I had questions. Who was the victim? How did they die? Why’d they have that weird looking symbol on their hand? Was it a murder? Was it something supernatural? Before any of us could say anything else, a distant bell sounded from campus.
The principal of the school left one of the officers to rush to the crowd of students we were standing with. “Go!” she hollered so all of us could hear, shooing us away with her hands. “Scatter! Get to class, everyone!” It was with reluctance that I let Camille drag me away.
“I’ll see you,” Luna said as we reached campus, and she headed off.
“Keep an ear out for details?” I asked Camille.
She didn’t seem half as interested as I was, but this was why I was here. I'd learned to control my Changes and we didn’t have to stay in Oregon. I could’ve gone home, but helping to deal with the soul-eating phantoms last semester gave me a taste of all the good our powers could do. We saved people. Because Oregon and our school were an epicenter of supernatural activity, it was the best place for me to learn how to keep doing that. And I could start with this.