By:  Sydney Marie  Completed
Language: English
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Wrenley moves to Waindale, the place where her mother grew up and where her grandmother still lives. Between the pine trees and above the wet ground, she soon realizes that Waindale is anything but the perfect place she remembers it as. Dark things stalk the woods. Dark things are pulling her in. "I turn on the lamp that's sat on top of my dresser. The pink lampshade makes my room glow with a feminine warmth, and it shines through the glass of my window; a signal so he can find his way home. It's dark out there, so bone-chillingly dark that I nearly fear for him before realizing that he is the greatest danger in those woods."

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57 Chapters
Chapter 1
I didn't think towns like this existed—ones towered over by trees and drowning in blues and greens. Ones that make your hairs stand up. Ones that have pathways through the forest that lead nowhere. Ones that have a bizarre history bubbling under its surface. I thought such places existed exclusively on television screens and in the pages of my angsty, young adult novels. But as I watch it all grow in front of our car—the trees and the dull colors and the heavy clouds—I know that those creators got their inspiration from real places and not just their heads. I can't help but press my hand against the window and wish to be exploring. My eyes bounce from the dark pockets of moss and rocks and brush to the glimpses of water just beyond the forest. The chilled coast reminds me of those many little rocks. When we would visit Grandma over the summer, I would flock to the beach but hate the peb
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Chapter 2
I walk to Waindale High School on Monday morning—well—I briskly walk and avoid the trees at all costs. The bear warning was put out, but Grandma said this morning that there wasn't another sighting. It must have run off, is her reasoning.Waindale High School seems like an okay place to be. The outside is wet-looking like everything else, but like most high schools is a bunch of bricks and doors and windows and cars. The people in the front office are nice and walk me to my first class. It's like ripping off a bandaid every time I enter a classroom and say that I'm new. I suppose this is what happens when you change schools when the year has already begun.Some students are kind enough to introduce themselves, but most are too preoccupied with their own lives to notice my existence—which is just fine with me. It's hard
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Chapter 3
I take two melatonin gummies before climbing into bed. As usual, it takes a few hours for me to fall asleep, but once I am, I'm suddenly awake again.Stumbling, I grab at a near tree and stabilize myself. My vision is a little blurry, but it's night again, and I can assume what's coming. Not wanting to face the dark thing, I turn and hurry toward what must be salvation. An owl coos above me, and crickets sing below me, and the distant sound of pounding steps grows from behind. Roots pull up from the ground and tangle around my ankles. I yank my feet free and tread on. When I grab onto trees, the bark sticks to my hands. Dirt is like glue caked on my feet. The air weighs down on me. The pounding steps are louder, closer, just behind me. I fall to the ground and cry out in frustration. Everything is holding me down. Everything is on its side.

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Chapter 4
Monday after school, I start my first shift. I shadow Laura the entire time and leave disappointed when Vivian and her friends don't come in, let alone anyone from the private school. The next day is my only chance before waiting until my weekend shifts, so I nearly run to the diner after the bell rings.Laura sends me on my own to a few customers. "Hi, welcome in," I say in my brave voice as I hand the menu. "Can I get you started with anything to drink?"As Laura teaches me how to make coffee again, I hear the door chime. Peering over my shoulder, I watch Vivian and Imogen walk in. A gasp escapes me and Laura turns as well. "What is it?" She asks."I know them.""Okay, well g
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Chapter 5
My school bag slips off my shoulder as I walk to school on Monday morning. I haul it back up and rub my puffy eyes. My surroundings blur then slowly straighten back up, nearly making me dizzy. A car passes by then, so very loud as its tires push against the warn-down road. I can't think right now—when I try, my head starts to pound. I wander into the main school building and flinch at the sound of slamming lockers and blaring voices. The day passes slowly. At lunch, I spot Vivian and her friends. She looks as if she wants to call my name and talk things over, but before she can, I turn and walk in the other direction. I meant it when I said I was over them. Even back home—where friendships seemed so shallow and meaningless—the few friends I had treated me better. At least they tried to include me.

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Chapter 6
Vivian shakes her head and takes my hands in hers. "No, Wrenley. We don't pretend. We are werewolves. Real life werewolves.""What I saw yesterday was a wolf. What I'm seeing now is you—a human. I mean, you guys can do whatever you want, but you don't have to talk to me like I still believe in Santa Claus.""I thought this would be easy, for some reason," she mumbles. "You want me to prove it? Is that what this is all leading to? You want me to shift?""Um, it's fine, Vivian. I have to go to class anyway."She rolls her eyes and grabs me again, pulling me further into the school. "Let's just make this quick," she mutters as a door appears at the end of a hall. Feeling uncomfortable but curious at the same time, I go along with it and wond
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Chapter 7
I wait impatiently in the forest again, hugging myself in the cold and minutes away from kicking a rock. This is ridiculous. For some reason, I have to face this guy, and no one can just tell me what's going on because he wants to make it even more difficult. If my mom or grandma woke up, they'd think I've been kidnapped. The police may as well be out searching for me with flashlights and dogs.Tired of sitting, I get up from the boulder and walk around. The night is still and nearly lifeless. Hardly any crickets are chirping, and the only sounds I have to comfort me are the breeze and the ocean in the distance. Ignoring the sudden crack or rustle is getting harder.He hasn't been back since I tried to talk to him that first night—approximately three nights ago. At this point I'm exhausted, grubby, frustrated; the list goes on and
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Chapter 8
"Vivian!" I call, catching a glimpse of her down the hall. I race through students as they herd into the cafeteria. Her red hair bobs through the door and disappears as I slip past bodies. Once inside, I hurriedly make my way to their table, surprised to see everyone there. They look my way and I stand before them, my chest moving rapidly up and down."Wrenley," Vivian says brightly, "come on, sit down."I place my bag on the table and take a seat beside her while eyeing the group. Imogen looks unbothered as usual. Eli and Elara are close, and Vivian is looking excitedly at me."Um, there's some stuff I want to ask you about," I say, catching Imogen's attention as well."Really? Did something happen?"

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Chapter 9
As the guys gently touch me and lead me to the door, he says, "Leave her. Forget it."I watch them walk around me and out the door. Their obedience has me curious.Sunlight filters through the windows, seeping through the thinning clouds and resting on his face. Would it be silly to say that he sparkles in the sunlight? Or is my head caught up in fictional fantasies and not this real one? Either way, unearthly or not, he looks at me, waits for me to speak but nothing leaves my lips."You're not allowed here, Wrenley," he says. My stomach wobbles inside of me. How does he know my name? "How much did Vivian tell you? Do you know what is happening here?"His voice makes me giddy. There is no way that he is also that scary, rude, stubborn
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Chapter 10
"Wren."I look to my mother as she's cozy on the patio furniture, her laptop sat in front of her, ready to make literary magic. I shrug my school bag higher on my shoulder."Off to school?" She asks after sipping her coffee. "Did you get breakfast?""Yeah. Grandma made French toast."My mom sits up. "Well, maybe I should go in a grab some before she cleans up. You don't want me to drive you, right?"I shake my head. "Just that one time. I'm fully capable now. I-I should get going.""Alright. Oh! Before you go—when are you working this week? I wanted to ask Tali's family over for dinner."

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