The Wolf’s Crescent
The rain poured down for what seemed like days. It was only a few hours. However, it fell so intensely it prevented any comfortable way to walk through it. Lauren looked up at the cardboard roof she made from a few boxes she found to patch a hole in the ceiling of her apartment. It was already a dark brown dripping with wetness. A few minutes ago, she placed a small cup under it to catch the drippings. She hated her apartment, but it was all she could so call afford. Her job did not pay much but it kept her dry, but still damp. The apartment was dark with only a small lamp next to her small metal bed. She was fine with the darkness, if the dampness did not feel so cold she would have just covered up and started reading a book. Instead she held her legs closely against her chest and stared outside. The window only reveled the brick exterior of the building next to hers. It was fine, at least there wasn’t another apartment across from her window where some creepy man would be staring at her every day.
She turned on the small television that sat next to her small stove and table where her breakfast still sat as she was not hungry this morning. She turned it to the weather station to hopefully hear that the rain would stop in time for her to go to work this evening. The woman who seemed to be more model that meteorologist gave her what she was asking for. The rain would stop an hour or so before she needed to head out for work. At least some good news today she thought to herself. She stood up and made her way to her bathroom for a shower, she had another boring day ahead of herself.
The rain was almost through the newspaper Ryan had held over his head. The rain was relentless and there was near to no relief from it as he walked across an old road leading into the city. Wolfdale it was called. Ryan laughed at himself at such an ironic name. There are barely any wolves here, at least the good kind he thought to himself. He wished there was more cover around, or even if he knew where he was heading, he didn’t know his way around this part of Pennsylvania. It was too risky to change without knowing there is a good hiding place to wait for the change to complete. At least there was plenty of food around for when he did change and the town seemed quite and backwards enough that he shouldn’t raise suspicion for a while.
The town was mostly small homes with plenty of land. Not really used for anything in particular except for yards for kids to play in and near by forests for animals to wander about in. The forests looked dense enough for good hunting when needed, that brought Ryan great joy. As he made his way into the center of town he found the local hotel. By this time the rain stopped and the sun was cutting through the dark clouds making the downtown area look hopeful. It was vastly different from the rest of it. There were tall buildings for about ten blocks either way. Banks, shops, grocery stores, and other offices filled in the town to at a glance seemed more like a city. The people of the town went about their daily routines not taking any notice of the new man in town, this was a good sign.
Ryan came to a tall building not far from a small river that ran through the town. It was the hotel he was going to stay in until he wore out his welcome. The building as one of the older ones downtown, but it still looked study and well made. He walked into the reception area. The interior was very clean and taken care of. There were a few seats to the right of him and a café to his left. The reception desk was straight ahead with an elevator and stairway next to it. Ryan was impressed, this was way nicer than most small-town hotels. He might want to stay here a bit longer than normal. He walked up to the desk and greeted the employee waiting behind the counter.
Lauren was so glad she didn’t have to fight the rain today to get to work. Since she must work the reception desk she is surpassed to look her best. He felt there was no way for her to look that good with the uniform they had her wear. It fit to large in the wrong places, but it’s not like her future husband was going to walk through the door anyway. The only people who stayed at the hotel were older people who had their secrets and a few travelers that were passing through to never be seen again in this part of the country. He didn’t have anyone come in today so far and she started getting uncomfortable just standing behind the counter. She often paced around the front desk area and often stopped in the café when there were not customers around.
She was just about to start her ritual just as a man about her age walked through the door. He was tall and stout, some might even say a bit handsome. He had something about him that made him seem dangerous. He walked with a slight limp, but nothing that would keep him from moving quickly if he needed to. He looked around the room and had a small smile on his face. As he finished observing the room he made his way towards her.
Ryan noticed the woman behind the counter. He caught himself looking at her a bit too long and quickly looked down at his wallet he had pulled out. She was short with long hair with skin as pure as he had ever seen before.
“Hello, I’m here for a room please.” Ryan said to the woman.
“Yeah, sure. We have plenty available,” she said with smile. The smile hit Ryan harder than it should of, she shook it off however as it was just her job to smile and be nice to him. He was sure she had men all over this small town worshipping her, or at least he though they should be.
“I’d like one kind of off by itself it that’s possible,” Ryan replied.
“Sure, we can do that for you,” she made a few button presses of the computer just behind the counter. After a moment, she turned around and grabbed a key and turned towards him again. Okay, room 259 is all yours, how long are you planning to stay?” she asked.
“Can I pay for a month?” Ryan asked.
“Yeah sure,” Lauren said surprised.
“Is that okay, if not I’ll pay weekly.” Ryan said unsure of himself. The last thing he wanted was to stand out his first day here.
“Oh, yeah, its fine, we just don’t really get many people staying that long.” Lauren said felling a little embarrassed making the man feel unconfirmable.
Ryan could tell she was embarrassed by asking such a question, “It’s fine, I’m a writer and just like to stay in small towns sometimes to get the juices flowing so to speak.” He said in what he felt was a natural way. It was a line that he worked on for some time now.
“Oh, that’s really cool. I like to read, anything I might have heard of?” she said excitably.
“Probably not, mostly nature articles for magazines.” Ryan responded starting to feel uneasy and hoping for not many more questions.
“Oh, well that’s still cool,” Lauren said with a big smile and starting to feel embarrassed again and wishing she would stop asking so many questions.
She finished checking in the man without any more random questions. For some reason, she had a desire to ask a lot more. She normally was not like this, but something about this man made her want to find out more about him. She did have a month or maybe more to maybe see him again and talk. But she shouldn’t, the last thing she needed was to make a customer mad and maybe even get herself fired.
Ryan took the elevator up to his room. There was something about that woman that made him uneasy, not even the questions she was asking him that would lead to trouble for himself. He knew he couldn’t get close to anyone, not anymore. He had to just do his best to avoid that woman. The last thing he needed was complications.
The hotel room was your standard room. A large window even though covered with white cloth blinds allowed enough sun in to light the room. The walls were a light blue with generic prints on the wall to keep the room looking like someplace you wanted to spend time in. There was a queen-sized bed against the wall to Ryan’s left. It was the neatest made bed he saw in a long time. Each side of the bed had a table with a lamp. A television was on the opposite wall and next to that was a desk with a local business and hotel services books laid in the corner. To his immediate left was the bathroom, all white with enough towels for a family of five. A coffee maker with some packets of coffee sat next to the bathroom sink. A closet was on the immediate right where Ryan immediately placed his belongings that consisted of a backpack and a jacket, he knew he would need to go shopping either later today or tomorrow morning. In the closet was an iron and board alongside a microwave and mini-fridge sitting in a cart that would needed to be moved someplace near an outlet.
Overall Ryan liked what he saw, it was what was expected. What he didn’t expect was that woman downstairs. For some reason, she still didn’t leave his thoughts. He figured he just needed to find something to get his mind thinking about other things. There were a lot of things he needed to do being in a new town.
He had time, about two weeks until he started to change. So, he would need to find a safe place for him to stay near the woods for a few days while the transformation took place. He then would need to find safe hunting grounds that he would not be noticed and a place to dispose of the animal remains that would also not bring about unwanted attention. He saw a few potential places while he walked into town. He decided that tomorrow he would find a place to shop and then start scouting out these locations in the afternoon. The rest of the afternoon would be his, and he was tired from the walk so he decided to lay down and watch some television.
Lauren sat in the chair behind the counter, that man, she thought; why did she want to know so much about him. There didn’t seem to be anything special about him. Maybe it was that he seemed to be someone that traveled the world and had insights about things she never experienced, yeah that must be it, she thought. Just a small-town woman that never got to experience anything major outside of this town. Sure, Pittsburg was not that far from here, she visited the city a lot when she was younger. Still, he seemed to have been on adventures, experienced things he needed to write about, things others wanted to hear about. This thinking was not helping, she wanted to know more. She would go to the library tomorrow morning to see if she could find any articles the man wrote. That’s not creepy she told herself. It’s public material, thousands if not millions probably read them. She looked up at the clock, an hour to go in her day before it was time to go home. Maybe the man would come down for dinner? Maybe she would hang around after her shift and get something to eat here, it would be a free diner; nothing wrong with that. She smiled and looked up at the ceiling, yeah nothing wrong with that.
Ryan was hungry now waking from his nap. He was far enough away from the transformation that he still had a human appetite. He remembered the dining room downstairs, he was sure it was expensive but tonight he just wanted to eat and relax, maybe that woman would still be down there however. That worried him, something inside him wanted to see her again, but he knew he shouldn’t; he can’t. After a few minutes of pacing around he took his keycard and left his room.
The dining room was well lit with golden trim all around the celling that was otherwise white. There were no walls, only glass windows surrounding about twenty tables with two seats apiece and two booths in the center evaluated slightly from the tables that sat maybe about six. A bar was near the entrance that had about ten stools. The bar was more lit than the room with a large glass mirror running all along the back wall with shelves full of alcohol. There was a single man behind the bar waiting on two men and a woman. He was younger, maybe in his mid-thirties, handsome enough to where you wondered why he was working a hotel bar in a small town like this. This small town has its share of dark secrets Ryan thought to himself while smirking aloud.
Ryan went towards the bar, then he noticed the woman at the bar was the same woman that checked him in earlier. He tensed up, and fought himself to keep walking forward instead of turning around and walking back up to his room, or worse just standing there like an idiot. He had been through enough that a woman should not have this effect on him. He continued to the bar, to what he though was sitting as far away from the woman as he could, instead he found himself sitting a stool away from her.
Lauren looked over like she had been every five minutes or so, in reality it was more like every ten seconds, and she was shocked to see the man from earlier sitting a stool away even though the bar was completely empty on her right side where there were enough seats for an entire dinner party to sit. She didn’t know what to do, she ran through these a million times today, she was going to be cool and charming. That was the last two things she felt she could pull off now. All she could do was smile.
Ryan felt very uncomfortable, he was already feeling off by how he didn’t know he sat so close to this woman. But now she is looking at him like a school girl. He didn’t want to admit that he like it, but he knew he needed to fight it. Dexter always warmed him about these things.
“The way we are, relationships do not work.” He would tell Ryan over and over again when they first met. “Having feeling for anyone, lusus naturae or human, is the same as jumping off a cliff. It may be exhilarating but it will be the stupidest mistake you’ll ever make. I’ve know too many of our kind that all ended up dead because of it.”
Ryan always took those words to heart, Dexter was one of the oldest lusus naturae that he knew. He never really got why his kind went with the term lusus naturae. It meant a freak of nature and didn’t know if it was his kind mocking the term or if at some point someone thought it was cool. Ryan didn’t like the term, but it was the common name his kind used to reference themselves. Ryan then noticed the woman staring at him like he wanted to speak.
“Hi,” she spoke.
“Hi!” Lauren replied quickly. “Are you okay? You seemed to be out of it there for a second.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Ryan suddenly realized he was thinking way too much and drawing attention to himself. At least from this woman. “Sorry, it was a long trip,” he smiled back, “Your name is Lauren?” he asked.
“Yes, it is!” she almost replied shouting. Calm it down he told herself. “You’re Ryan?” she replied acting like it took a great deal of effort to remember. “How is your room?” as she asked she hated herself asking about a work thing.
“It’s good,” Ryan said with a smile. “I didn’t expect you to still be here this late.”
Lauren suddenly felt nervous, or more nervous than what he was a moment before. Is he getting annoyed with me? She thought to herself. She needed to pull herself out of this immediately.
“Well it was a long day and I decided to grab something to eat.” That was a good save she thought, nothing weird with any of this.
“Makes sense, Ryan smiled again. I need to stop all this smiling he thought to himself. He never had this problem before, he needed to figure out how to control this and fast. “What is good here?” he asked, and again telling himself to shut up and stop talking to her.
“Um, the steak is good especially with a drink,” as she spoke those last few words she looked down and couldn’t believe she brought up drinks with him.
“That does sound really good,” I think I’ll try that. Ryan couldn’t figure out why he lost total control. It will be fine he finally told himself. It’s only a meal with random company, nothing will go wrong. This is normal for people to do.
“Do you want to go sit at a table?” Lauren suddenly turned red. Why did she ask that? What is wrong with her? “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked that.” She immediately replied to herself.
As Ryan herd those words he knew that was his chance to get out of this. She went too far for a random casual encounter. He had every right to walk away from this and hold it over her. He never had to speak to her again.
“No, it’s fine, I’d love to.” Ryan said instead of going with his local thoughts. Well this is the beginning of the end of me he thought.
The two of them made their way to a table furthest from the bar. There was a fait sunset showing through the window that displayed the center of the town. The combination of the old and new of the buildings contrasted perfectly in the sun’s last golden rays. Ryan always found conflicting feelings at this time of day. He loved this time growing up, but after his christening into the life of the lusus naturae it had so much meaning not all of it things he cherished. Before it was just pretty, now it represented many of his loves and fears and now he was about to sit down with this woman he just met, a woman he started to feel would have a large impact in his life. It just better not be for the worst.
As Lauren walked next to Ryan her mind was running a mile a minute. What was happening? Why was she doing this and why did she feel the way she did? The dining room never seemed so large, she felt like they should of be at the table at this point. The man made her nervous, she wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. She noticed the sun setting over the buildings she could see out the window. She saw this scene every day and never thought about it, tonight it was the most beautiful thing she ever saw.
The two of them sat and didn’t say much, mostly stolen glances across the table. When the waiter came for their order Lauren ordered lobster and Ryan ordered steak.
“So, what project are you working on that brings you to this small town?” Lauren finally came up with the courage to speak again.
“The wildlife I guess you can say, and the quite.” Ryan replied pleased with his answer.
“How did you find this town, there isn’t anything special about it.” Lauren continued to question.
“I knew I wanted to be in this area, so I looked on a map and liked the name.” Ryan replied again pleased with his answer. So far so good. He thought to himself.
“I guess that makes sense,” she quickly started thinking of something awesome to say but kept getting distracted by Ryan’s eyes. “How long have you been writing and traveling?” she blurted out knowing the silence was a bit too long.
“About 10 years now, I got bitten by the bug a bit early so to speak,” Ryan knew that was getting too close to home and needed to calm himself down. It was very difficult around this woman however.
“What got you interested in it?”
“I was walking in the forest one day and ran into some wolves, they changed my life.” Okay Ryan, he told himself, that’s enough, calm yourself. “What about you? Did you grow up here?” he asked trying to change the subject.
“Yeah, boring old small town girl,” she giggled stupidly at herself.
Ryan noticed she was really embarrassed when he talked to her. It was enduring, he felt his heart beat harder in his chest, the same feeling he had from his “wolf dreams”. He never felt this feeling before out of those “dreams”.
“I’m sure you’re not boring, people are not different because they come from big cities or small towns.”
“Well I’m sure I haven’t done the incredible things big city people do.” Lauren said feeling a bit down talking about her small-town life.
Ryan seeing this was determined to make her feel better. “What’s the one incredible things you haven’t done?”
Lauren was surprised at Ryan’s interest in her. She wasn’t worth his attention, it wouldn’t last, she told herself. But it might be worth it while it lasts.
“I have really traveled anywhere. I would like that someday.” She replied with a grin.
“I hope someday you get to do that.” Ryan responded with a grin in return.
The two continued to talk through dinner and up till the dining room closed at midnight.
“It was great talking to you Ryan,” Lauren said looking into Ryan’s eyes.
“Yeah, this was fun, maybe we can do it again?” Ryan asked in response. Ryan bashfully looked away at Lauren’s glare.
The two walked out to the lobby together. Lauren was slightly ahead of Ryan. She kept thinking of walking beside him but could not will herself to do it. She was so full of feelings for this man she just met, she didn’t think she could trust herself at this point and home would be the best choice.
“Well good night and I’ll see you soon,” Lauren said and quickly turned and left the building through the front doors.
Ryan smiled to himself. He could tell she didn’t want to leave him that night. But it was for the best, this couldn’t keep continuing the way it was going. He needed to keep his feelings in check. But it was really nice to have a night like he just had. There was something special about that girl, he just didn’t know if he should take the chance. Everything he had been through, he was scared of a normal girl with a great smile.
Lauren walked across the street in front of the hotel, her building was about five blocks southwest from the hotel. The sky was dark but clear with each star providing its own special light. The moon was about half-full. The air was cool with a light breeze lightly hugging her body and arms trying to bring down her temperature. That’s not happening tonight, wind. She thought to herself, the evening left her feeling very warm, enough so that her jacket was making her sweat a little. She finally reached her building and went in.
Ryan stood in the lobby for a few minutes after Lauren left. His mind caught up in reviewing the night in his mind. Everything for some reason about that woman had him captivated. The way she talked, the way she sat, the way she smiled. He never felt this way before, before his coming into the pack he remembered a girl, he loved her, but it was nothing like this. This was similar, but this was so much more impactful on him. After he realized he was standing in the middle of the lobby for who knows how long, it was fifteen minutes, he started making his way to his room. He noticed he had a spring to his step and tried to hide it while others were in sight. As he rode the elevator to his floor he allowed himself to smile and soak in these new-found feelings. He could enjoy it for the night at least. Tomorrow he might need to refocus and get this woman out of his head. Until then, it was about time he enjoyed life for once.
The spring sun rose above the horizon and started slipping into the window of Lauren’s apartment. It felt warm on her face and blinded her as she tried to open her eyes for the first time today. The sun felt extra good today she thought to herself. Unlike most days, she jumped out of bed and took a shower and brushed her teeth. She planned her day the previous night.
- Go get breakfast at the diner down the street
- Go to the library to try and find some of Ryan’s articles
- Go to work and hopefully run into Ryan
- Hopefully come back home feeling like she didn’t make a total ass of herself
A good plan she thought as she dried her hair and got dressed.
The spring sun rose above the horizon and sneaked through the hotel room’s blinds. It finally crept up to Ryan’s face and woke him. It was a surprisingly good sleep for a hotel, but that seemed the normal. It wasn’t until a week for so he started to mind sleeping in a hotel bed. I better enjoy it while it lasts he thought to himself and he slowly crawled out of bed. He wished he could just stay in bed awhile longer but he had a lot to get done. He needed to find a place to stay and hunt and recoup and needed to make sure everything was set before the changing would occur. He also needed to think about Lauren, the girl he just had dinner with. He enjoyed his time with her but knew it was not good he did so. He did not need anyone to notice he would not be in his room for a week. He needed to figure something out. He picked up she was smart, that just giving her made up stories about what he was up to would not work with her. He might need to call for advice, he already knew what Dexter would say and want him to do. He would not do that, so far, he liked this place, and he liked her. Talking to Dexter would help however, it was awhile since they last talked. Not knowing the town well, he figured he would go roam around downtown and see what was around. He also remembered he needed some more clothes and today would be a good day to get some if he had time.
The street was filled with people, many moving with purpose to their jobs; some because they enjoyed it while most because they feared not having one. Others moving slowly either because of age or a low amount of caring what was going on. Lauren decided she was in the middle, she did have to go to work later in the afternoon but also had plans. These plans were not really that important, but for some reason she found they held more importance then they should.
She arrived at the diner, it’s red brick exterior showed perfect contrast in the morning sun. It was full of customers as it normally was in the mornings. It was the only one in the area and many people worked in town so it was a good place for a diner. It wasn’t as full the rest of the day however, there were chain restraints around the outside of town and not that anyone would tell Tiffany the long-time owner, but besides breakfast, the food was very so-so. The diner was a converted hardware store front that her father owned before he passed away. Even in a small town, hardware stores were not a good business to get into, plus Tiffany went to school for culinary; so, it was her passion to have a diner.
Lauren walked in and made her way to the unique mezzanine 2nd floor where it was generally less crowded area. There was a dumbwaiter and a small counter for some pastries and coffee so the service was about the same on either level. Lauren liked the top level since you could look out over the town. She would often get lost from the view and the books she would read on her off days as she enjoyed her coffee and beagle that would last her the entire day.
She sat down at a small table next to a window. The window faced the east so that made it perfect for the morning, and another reason the diner was less than preferred in the afternoon. The town was covered in the morning light. Lauren caught herself thinking about how beautiful it was and how it would be nice if she could share it with Ryan.
Ryan made his way down to the street in front of his hotel. The sun shining in his eyes he held up his hand to block some of the sun. The town was busy with people heading to wherever there lives took them on a weekday morning. He looked to his right then his left, neither direction promised what he was looking for at first glance. He took a whiff of the morning air and decided to head left. He walked for a few minutes only seeing office and government buildings lining the streets. A library made an appearance on his left with an apartment building on the other side of the street. Ryan continued down the same street for a few minutes until he came across a diner. He felt his stomach rumble and decided to go in.
The diner was crowed, not really to Ryan’s liking, but the crowds do keep one hidden and unnoticed. It was much nicer inside than out and for a small town. It had a lot of style but tried to downplay it. There were two floors and had the setup of a big city restaurant but with the small-town charm one would expect. He noticed that the upstairs was less crowed and he could use some space away from the crowd downstairs, especially since he was hungry. There was also a feeling he had ever since he walked outside. He could not figure it out but there was a small sense of something leading him around. As he finished the climb up the stairs he finally realized what that feeling was. There was Lauren sitting at a table right in front of him.
The two locked eyes right away. They both smiled and felt a bit lighter. Ryan knew better than to walk over to her but he found himself already at the table before he could think another thought.
“Good morning!” Lauran greeting Ryan with a bright smile, one that was normally reserved for loved ones that had not been seen for a long time.
“Morning,” Ryan replied with a grin that was really a giant smile he was trying to hold back.
“So, you decided to try some local food? Not that it’s anything different then what you have ate before.” Lauran spilled out the words like a dam bursting loose.
“Yeah, I wanted to go see the town a little and do some shopping.” Ryan didn’t even want to say as much as he did but couldn’t help himself. He decided what was said was good and not to panic. He did know he could not say much more.
“Do you want to join me?” Lauran asked then tried and crawl into a hold. What am I doing asking him that? She thought to herself.
“Sure, seems like you have a good seat here.”
As Ryan sat down in the chair next to hers he started to panic. What was he doing? Why can’t he seem to control himself around her? He needed to have a quick breakfast then leave and get back to his planned day.
“So, what’s good?” he asked.
“For breakfast, everything!” she replied happily as if she was his waitress.
“Okay, this all looks good.” Ryan stated as he looked over the menu at the table. “Do you work today?” he asked.
“Yeah, later on…maybe I’ll see you then?” Lauren realized that sounded horrible. Don’t stalk him. Don’t stalk him. She kept telling herself.
“Yeah maybe, I’ll be out most of the day. I don’t expect to be back at the hotel until this evening.” Ryan replied.
“Well I get to see you now…”as Lauren spoke those words her voice faded away and looked to see how Ryan would react.
“Yeah, it’s nice to see you again so soon.” Ryan said with a smile then realized what he just did. What the hell are you doing? Get out of here before you do something really stupid! He quickly told himself.
Lauren looked over at Ryan as her cheeks turned a soft red and he tried to hold back a smile she knew was something she should not be doing on the second day of talking to a stranger, even a cute one.
Ryan sat trying to hide himself in the menu until the waitress came over. This is getting out of control. Ryan thought to himself. I can’t fall for this girl, even if she is cute and seems to be fun to be around. This is just simply not a good idea. I can’t do stuff like this anymore, the others would not approve nor would it end well.
The waitress came over and took the two’s orders. The two gave each other glances back and forth when the other wasn’t looking.
“So, do you come here every morning?” Ryan finally broke the silence.
“Only a few times a week, “she replied with a different smile than before. It was calmer but also seemed to have some secret intent behind it.
“I might stop here for now on, it seems very nice.” Ryan replied, realizing he was once again flirting with this girl despite telling himself no.
“It is the best breakfast in the area,” she once again replied with the same smile as before.
“I expect a great meal then,” Ryan said with a returned smile.
The waitress came over to get their order. Ryan ordered an egg omelette and bacon while Lauren ordered scrambled eggs.
“What are you plans today? Ryan asked Lauren with an interested smile.
“I was going to read before work,” Lauren took a second before answering as she didn’t want Ryan to know she was searching for his writing.
“You sure like to read, don’t you?” Ryan said in a good-natured laugh.
“I do!” she said excitedly, “I read as much as I can.”
Ryan could see how happy Lauren got from talking about reading. He couldn’t help but feel good from the energy she gave off. He could sense it wasn’t all about reading and books. Maybe this was why he wanted to spend more time with this girl? He felt good in her presence, it was a feeling he never really felt before and this was just from being next to another person. Maybe he should take a small chance to let her in his life just a little. Feeling like this shouldn’t be something to be feared. He did though, he was told of how things like this ended very badly, his kind has to be on their toes at all time. These kind of feelings have a habit of sneaking up on you and putting your guard down. When someone like him puts his guard down some kind of death is normally nearby.