The smell of sage wafted to Elize as soon as she woke up. Elize grunted in annoyance. Some sort of pain throbbed from her chest. Somebody was going to get an earful today, she thought to herself.
She sat upon a large queen size bed, rubbing her eyes in irritation. She looked around to the weirdly familiar surroundings.
The room was quite big but seemed quite cramped owing to all the random furniture and clothes thrown around everywhere. The walls were painted a deep red with at least fifty framed pictures covering it on all three sides. On the one wall, to which the bed was joined, was a huge window covered by heavy blackout curtains, owing to which Elize couldn't figure out whether it was day or night- except for a faint yellow glow coming from a partition. Where did she end up again? She got off the bed only to land on a carpeted floor.
"Hello?" She called out.
Elize walked towards the window, pushed the curtains to both sides, and swung open the glass windows. The smell of wet earth and forest hit her as soon as she did. She sighed, happy for the fresh air.
She could see a myriad of huge trees right outside the house from where she stood. It seemed that she was on the second floor of somebody's house. Elize leaned out the window to get a better view of the location. She could see nothing more than more trees. The sun was going down slowly towards the back of the house. As her eyes followed the direction of the setting sun, she could see a white building quite close to the building that she was in.
It looked like a huge victorian house, connected to this one by a small unpaved road. Realization dawned on her. She knew that house! She'd been there before, she thought.
"I hope you don't fall and break your back." the sound came from the doorway.
Elize turned around to the familiar sound with a squeal. She ran to the figure standing by the door frame and hugged them tightly.
"Hmm, you smell like freshly baked brownies nana," Elize said, breaking away from the hug.
"Haha. I've missed you too child." Aileen said, patting Elize on her back.
"Oh Aileen, you have no idea what I went through to get here!" Elize replied, laughing.
"I do. I'm the one who brought you here from the mutt's place. And you've slept for three days straight since then."
Elize laughed nervously. "About that....who are they? And where is Alex?"
Aileen smiled, the wrinkles around her mouth showing. It made her look exactly like great-grandpa Khaled- Elize thought. The old woman took hold of her hand and dragged her down the stairs with her to the kitchen, Elize happily obliging. She sat on one of the high stools at the small kitchen counter and watched as Aileen started taking out her china from the cabinet above the microwave.
"So they're what? Wizards?" Elize prodded.
Aileen chuckled at that, sliding a plate of brownies and a glass of chocolate milk towards her. Elize took a bite from it and momentarily forgot her surroundings as she got lost in its richness.
"No silly. Magic cannot be passed on to men. This is not Harry Potter." Aileen said as she sat on a stool next to Elize.
"Oh. So what are they? And why is Alex one of them? By the way, where is he?" Elize asked, looking around her surroundings.
"Slow down kiddo. I'll explain it." Aileen leaned in so that she could rest her elbows on the countertop.
"Well?" Elize asked with a mouth full of brownie- that was the last of the four huge pieces that were on her plate.
Aileen sighed. "Okay so have you heard the story of how your great-grandpa brought your great-grandma Anna home to the Island?"
"Well somewhat. I remember Anna telling me something about how she eloped with him and settled here."
"Ahh well, the love story has a twist."
Aileen sighed. "I hoped that you would have figured this out by now, seeing how smart a girl you are."
"Figured what out?"
"Khaled was a werewolf child. He was the Beta of this Island's pack. Anna was his human mate."
Elize drew in a sharp breath. "Wait. I don't understand. Werewolves are real?!"
Aileen rolled her eyes. "That's what I just said."
"Wait, then are you a werewolf too?! I mean you must be since you're his sister!"
The old woman smiled. "No dear I am not. Khaled was my half brother. Our mother was a human. His father who was a werewolf passed away very early on and then our mother got married to my father who was from a family of witches. So here I am- a witch who had a werewolf for an older brother."
"Wait. So your father was a wizard?"
Aileen shook her head. "Why don't you listen when I'm explaining child? Magic might run through blood, but it will only get activated when it runs in the body of a woman. Men in the family are only carriers of the gene. They can't use magic themselves. They can only pass it on."
"Wait so if that is why Alex is a werewolf then that would mean that mom was one too. Which would mean I could be one too!"
"Bingo." Aileen smiled.
"But I never turned into a dog, as Alex did. And why do I possess magic?"
"Well, that is what I wanted to talk to you about."
"What?" Elize asked nervously. It was too much information for one day.
"Your father came from a family of witches and your mother was a wolf. This makes you a part witch and part wolf."
Elize started chugging down on the chocolate milk. Something had to calm her down. "Mmhmm," She said in between.
"I know this is a lot to take in my child. But your first shift will take place on your 18th birthday. Before that happens, we need to initiate you as a witch."
"Why? What will happen if not?"
"Witches are supposed to be initiated as soon as the sigil marks itself on them," Aileen said, pointing to the tattoo of the star on Elize's right palm. She continued, "The lack of it equals the lack of control over your magic. In your case, you have a wolf inside you as well- which is quite a rare case. The two tendencies will tear each other apart if you have no control over it as soon as both surfaces."
Elize's eyes widened. She slowly kept the glass down on the countertop. "Am I-"
"No, and yes. If you get initiated before the wolf tries to come out, then you'll live." Aileen intercepted.
"Then initiate me. Let's get going." Elize said, getting up from her stool.
Aileen chuckled. "Don't worry. Your wolf won't come out before your 18th birthday if you're not near other wolves or your mate."
"Mate?" Elize asked, confused. A pair of blue eyes flashed in her mind. Her heart started beating faster.
"It's nothing that you have to worry about my child. You're safe here. The wolves stay quite far from here on the other side of this Island."
Elize didn't know if she was relieved about this information or not. The pain in her chest was resurfacing again, forcing her to sit down once more. She tried hard not to show it. She didn't want to burden anyone with it. Aileen got up from her seat and started walking towards the front door.
"Alex will be staying with the wolves for a few days, seeing that he turned out to be a late shifter. He will have to learn to control his wolf before he comes near you again." She said.
"Oh," Elize said, following her out the house.
"I've cleaned up the house knowing that you'd want to stay over at Anna's," Aileen said as she led Elize towards the back of the house.
"Thanks, nana. I would rather stay there than impose on you."
Elize linked her hands in Aileen's as she walked towards the imposing victorian mansion that seemed to be growing bigger as they walked towards it. She smiled at the imposing structure which once was her salvation every summer vacation as a child. She couldn't believe that it's been ten whole years since she came back.
They passed the huge garden where flowers now grew wildly along with tall weeds. It was once a beautiful place that her great-grandma tended to with much care.
A flood of memories pushed at Elize's mind and she smiled at the warm feeling that the place evoked in her. She could clearly remember Anna and Khaled running behind a little Elize as she ran around the house, refusing to eat her share of rice. She laughed at the memory. They reached a tall wooden paneled door that swung open to both sides as Aileen pushed at it.
A huge crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling in the hall that they entered. A winding staircase which split into two sides from the middle lead to the second floor, going around two huge columns which supported the roof. The whole house was a shade of creme bordered here and there with white, contrasting the deep maroon of the various teak furniture set classically. The large windows that sat on every other side of the wall on either floor, let in the final rays of the setting sun, enveloping the insides of the place in a warm golden glow.
It was exactly like she remembered it, minus the people who were the only family she was close to, other than her mom and brother.
Aileen smiled at the girl who was taking in every detail of the place.
"I'll get going kiddo. You know where your room is. If you need anything I'm right next door. Or send me a fire message."
Elize nodded and turned to wrap Aileen in a deep hug. She closed the doors behind her and bolted it shut. Switching on a small light in the hallway, she went up the stairs to inspect the room that was once hers.
It was exactly how she remembered it. With a queen-sized bed attached to a tall wooden frame and a green comfortable looking ottoman next to the fireplace at the other end, the room was everything she missed when she was at her father's house. It had a huge curtained window on one side and an armchair that once belonged to Anna next to it. Following the color scheme of the house, the whole room was painted in shades of creme and white.
Elize switched on the lights and opened the glass window to let the fresh air in. Her bag was placed on the side of the bed. Aileen must have arranged it- Elize thought. Feeling tired and sore, she started rubbing her shoulders as she sat down on the bed. She needed a bath.
She opened her bag and dumped all of its contents on the bed. Selecting a pair of black cotton shorts and a baggy t-shirt, she shoved everything else to one corner of the bed. Unpacking will have to wait, she thought, exhausted. Placing her clothes on the ottoman, she went inside the bathroom to get that long-awaited shower.
The hot water felt good on her skin. Elize washed the soap off of her body slowly, enjoying every moment of it. The heat of the water was slowly releasing her body from all the built-up stress. She started humming to herself while lathering shampoo in her hair, never for a moment stepping away from the water.
Elize heard a noise coming from outside the bathroom. She turned off her shower to listen.
"Is anybody there?" Elize asked, now conscious of the fact that the door to the bathroom was wide open.
"Maybe I imagined it," Elize whispered to herself and once again turned on the shower and washed the shampoo off of her hair.
She turned the water off and stepped outside the shower. She reached for the towel neatly folded on top of the rack next to the washbasin. While she raised herself to reach for it, she felt it. Somebody was staring at her.
She turned around to surprise whoever was standing on the doorway. But there was nobody there.
"Maybe the excess supernatural talk is finally getting to me," Elize muttered under her breath, turning around and wrapping herself in the towel.
Still muttering about how Aileen was driving her mad, she walked into the bedroom and grabbed her clothes from the ottoman. A slight wind came in through the open window from the now dark woods, sending her chills down her body as she quickly changed into her shorts and t-shirt. She turned towards the bed, hoping to finally lie down. That was when she saw it.
A huge wolf was sitting on her bed, staring right at her. Its blue eyes bore into her very being, sending weird tingles down her spine.
It was him. The same wolf which saved her on the day of her accident! Wait. She'd seen this wolf again, somewhere, she thought, confused.
She inched closer to her bed, feeling a strange tug pull her towards the creature. She stopped one step away from the bed once the realization hit her.
"Zack! You're him! The wolf was you!" She shouted, pointing at the wolf on her bed.