Falling For The Enemy
A week later, it was presentation day in English class. I was completely prepared with my half of the project, but I dreaded getting up in front of my entire class with Logan. I wasn't sure if he was going to screw it up, or embarrass me, or insinuate things in front of all the whole class, but the anxious butterflies were bouncing around my stomach constantly the morning before class. I was so nervous I didn't even notice when Logan walked into the room.
"Keep chewing your lip like that and you might accidently swallow it," he teased.
I blinked a few times, awakening myself from my worried thoughts to focus on his words.
I glared at him and turned to face forward, checking over the PowerPoint I had made for the hundredth time to make sure I hadn't left anything out.
When class finally started, Mr. Smith announced we would be going in order by chapter number. I sighed. I really hoped it would be on a volunteer basis so that we could go first and I could get this whole thing over with. But instead, I had to sit through three other people's presentations. I didn't pay attention to any of them, just checked my PowerPoint over and over again and made sure I had memorized everything.
Finally, it was our turn to present. I hooked up my laptop to the projector and put the PowerPoint on full screen.
"The werewolf is known by many names," I began. "the wolf-man, the lycanthrope, and the loup-garou are only a few examples sprinkled throughout folklore all over the world. All of them describe a terrifying creature that walks as a man, but literally moonlights as a wolf during the full moon each month."
I pressed the space bar key on my computer to show a few artist renderings from various folklore and mythology books from different cultures. They all showed grotesque, half-man, half-wolf creatures with large canines and crooked, clawed hands. I glanced at Logan and saw him frowning at the images.
I went on to describe everything the chapter had described; how one was turned into a werewolf, how one reversed the process, and how Wolfs Bane and silver were fatal to werewolves. It was strange, telling all these facts, knowing they were lies. But my grade depended on describing the legends as they were written, not for telling the truth. I only hoped Logan would keep that in mind.
When I finished, I turned to Logan, who immediately plugged a USB into my laptop and pulled up his own PowerPoint. He put it on full screen and turned towards out classmates.
"By researching at the local library, I found that the town of Fairbush has quite a history of werewolf sightings," he started.
He pressed the spacebar on my laptop and a picture of a newspaper called The Fairbush Tribune appeared, dated 1826. The headline read "Killer Werewolf Culprit Behind Various Town Deaths and Disappearances."
"This is the first article printed in Fairbush recording the presence of werewolves in the town."
He pressed the space bar key a few times and scrolled through a few other headlines, all blaming werewolves for local deaths and disappearances.
"For almost 40 years, every mysterious death, disappearance, or other abnormality was blamed on werewolves. And every article was always printed the day after a full moon. When the newspaper wasn't reporting werewolf killings, it was posting ads to create hunting parties that would go out and try to kill the werewolves."
Logan looked out at our classmates, but not at anyone in particular.
"But, the last article of The Fairbush Tribune, printed in 1864, tells a different story," he said.
He pressed the spacebar and on the screen, the article popped up. The headline read, "Local Girl Found Dead in Woods with Gunshot Wound on Night of Full Moon." Underneath was a faded picture of a girl about my age, with dark curly hair and innocent eyes.
"That night, in 1864, a young girl was found in a clearing in the woods. Her name was Anna Underwood."
Everyone in the room was riveted by Logan's story, especially upon hearing that he and the young girl shared the same last name. I looked at her, and then him. I tried to see the resemblance, but I couldn't see it at all.
I was just as entranced by his story as the rest of the class. I had never heard this story before, and I had studied the history of werewolf sightings in Fairbush several times.
"She had been out at night during a full moon. There had been a hunting party that night. The article remains very vague as to the circumstances of her death. It was revealed that she was shot, but no one was able to identify who shot her or why she was in the woods that night. The publisher blamed her death on werewolves, but the way it was worded, insinuated that she had been a werewolf," Logan continued.
I furrowed my eyebrows, thinking to myself that she must have been, since she was related to Logan. So I couldn't understand why he was risking exposure like this.
"However, on the second page of the article," he pressed the space bar, prompting the second page. "There is a quote from a local young man who had been a friend of hers."
On the page was a picture of young man with light, curly hair and a serious expression. Below his picture, was a name.
I swallowed the lump in my throat. I refused to look at my classmates, who undoubtedly could see the name just as well as I could. I slowly turned my gaze back to Logan, so I could hear the rest of the story.
"He described Anna as a gentle girl, who could never hurt a fly. He was outraged by the insinuation that she could have been a werewolf. He claims to have known this girl her whole life, and knew with 100% certainty that she was not a werewolf. He states that her death was tragic, and that no one felt her death more keenly than he. He admitted to the publisher, who found no trouble in sharing the information with everyone in town, that he had been in love with Anna. He said he found her, just before she died of her wound, and they had just enough time to admit their love for each other before she passed."
Every girl in the room gave out a little 'aww' at the tragic love story. I tried not to roll my eyes, though I had to admit, it was a little touching.
"Unfortunately," Logan continued, "he never saw who shot her, and it was a mystery that was left unsolved."
He closed my laptop, and the pictures of Anna and Marcus disappeared.
"That was the last article The Fairbush Tribune posted. I can only assume it went out of business. It was soon replaced by Fairbush Times, which is the town's current newspaper. Werewolf sightings also seemed to have died along with The Fairbush Tribune. Disappearances were blamed on kidnappers, deaths by animal attacks. The newspaper took on a less biased view and took a more scientific approach to the events that took place in Fairbush. Though, some say those 'animal attacks' may still be the work of werewolves," Logan finished.
Everyone clapped at the end of our presentation. I feel like they clapped a bit more for us than they had for the other presentations. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone as I grabbed my laptop and took my seat.
"Very well done, both of you. You two could have worked a bit more together to coordinate your sections a bit more," Mr. Smith said. "Very interesting story Logan. A wonderful example of connecting the past and the present."
I could hear the whispers around us as the other presentations took their turns. Mr. Smith heard them too, but no matter how many times he told them to be quiet and pay attention to the speakers, they always started back up again. The constant vibration of phones led me to believe that Logan's story about our possible ancestors may be trending around the school at that very moment. I wanted to sink further and further into my chair every time someone turned around to look at me.
As soon as the bell rang, I bolted out of the room before anyone could say anything to me. I hid in the bathroom for as long as I could without being late for my next class. That didn't help much either though, as I heard girls chatting about the "Tragic Underwood/Knight Love Story."
I slipped into my next class mere seconds before the bell rang and took my seat. Everyone in class looked at me and Logan, who was at the opposite side of the room, and whispered. Luckily, our history teacher, Mrs. Black, was a no-nonsense teacher and was able to keep everyone quiet for the rest of the class.
As soon as it was time for lunch, I kept my head down and tried my best to ignore all the whispers around me. When I sat down next to Layla, everyone hushed their voices and stared at me. Everyone except for Layla, of course.
"Okay, spill!" she demanded.
"There's nothing to spill!" I replied in a higher pitched voice than I had meant to.
"Than what is this I'm hearing about you and Logan having ancestors who were in love until one of them was mauled by a wolf and tragically died!"
"It wasn't a wolf! She was shot!" I corrected. "And it's nothing. It's so stupid. It was for our project. I bet you he made it up too, to stir up trouble. I told you he was bad news!"
"If it's nothing, then why are you blushing?" Layla smirked.
"Because the whole school thinks me and Logan are star-crossed lovers or some other nonsense!" I exclaimed, throwing my hands in the air.
"Don't worry about it, Lily. It's just the latest gossip. He's single, and all the girls who are trying, and failing, to get his attention need to have an explanation for why they are getting rejected. Right now, they choose to believe you two are meant for each other, and that he only has eyes for you. Once that fad passes, they'll all tell themselves he's gay," Layla explained with a straight face.
I had been drinking water while Layla was talking, and I almost spit it out bursting out laughing at her comment. When I was able to swallow the water, I did burst out laughing, and she soon joined me.
"Okay, okay, I can't take it," I said when I was finally able to breathe again. "Let's change the subject."
"Okay, let's discuss your birthday," Layla suggested.
"Sure. I was thinking-" I started.
"Already have everything planned out!" Layla interrupted.
"Layla," I sighed.
"Don't worry! You are gonna love it!" she exclaimed.
I rolled my eyes, knowing it was pointless to argue.
"Fine. But don't invite the whole town this time," I relented.
"Don't worry, this will be a small party," she said.
I shook my head, smiling to myself. Layla definitely threw some of the biggest parties, and she insists on throwing me a party every year. I let her for my 16th birthday, and it had been so huge, I couldn't find anyone I knew in the crowd of people. I'm hoping this year she actually meant it when she said a small party.
But I wasn't able to focus on that subject for long. While eating, my mind kept wandering back to Logan's story. I carefully glanced around the cafeteria for Logan, but couldn't find him anywhere. I thought about where he could be, and my mind immediately went to the gazebo. Our project was over, but that didn't mean he wasn't still out there eating. It was a nice place to eat, and there was a lot less noise out there than the cafeteria.
As lunch ended and our next class began, I started thinking about how and when I was going to confront Logan about his story. I was still completely outraged, but I was doing a very good job of keeping a calm demeanor. But I was going to unleash it on him as soon as I could.
I let off a bit of steam during Gymnastics class, but not nearly enough. The adrenaline just worked me up more, if anything.
Finally, school was over, and I knew this would be my chance. I pulled my sweatpants on over my leotard, and walked out the back entrance of the gym, where we had met that day before going to his shed in the woods. Sure enough, there he was, leaning against the wall.
"Hello sweetheart. I knew you couldn't stay away for long," he teased, giving me his classic smirk and an added wink.
I frowned and marched straight towards him, grabbing him by his shirt and pushing him back against the wall. He looked genuinely surprised by my show of force.
"What the Hell was that?" I shouted.
"Hey, take it easy," he said, throwing his hands up in defense.
"I will NOT take it easy! What were you trying to do with that story anyway? Why make something like that up?" I growled.
His eyes grew stern, and he grabbed my hands by the wrists and pried them from his shirt like they were sticky notes.
"For your information, that story was true. Anna Underwood was the younger sister of one of my ancestors. But she wasn't a werewolf," he stated, smoothing out his shirt and leaning casually against the wall. His body language and his serious, almost angry facial expression were at odds with each other.
"How is that even possible?" I asked, not really believing him.
"It's rare, but every once in a while, the gene for transforming into a werewolf skips a generation. Anna's whole family were werewolves, except for her, and her mother," Logan explained.
"It must have been because her mother was human," I reasoned.
"They thought that too, except both her brothers were werewolves," he reiterated.
"How do you know all this anyway?" I asked, not yet convinced.
"This story has been told in my family for years. All the Underwood's know it," he shrugged.
"And the part about Marcus?" I asked, a little curious, but dreading the answer.
"Also true. You can ask your parents. Your family and my family have been living in Fairbush for a long time, Lily. They just weren't always aware of what the other was, until Anna and Marcus. They did love each other, but Marcus didn't know that Anna's family were werewolves until the night she died, and she didn't know he was a Hunter either. He was trying to shoot her brother, when she jumped in the way to protect him. That's how she was shot. With her dying breath, she told Marcus she loved him, and he admitted the same," Logan explained.
"Why didn't Marcus just kill the rest of her family after she died? He knew they were werewolves," I asked.
"Because Anna also asked that Marcus keep her family's secret. And he did. That is why no one ever knew that the Underwood's were werewolves. They were able to move into the forest, into seclusion, where people eventually forgot about them. The children were homeschooled, and the pack slowly got larger. The Underwood name lived on, and the family's werewolf secret remained such, until you," Logan finished.
I shook my head, not wanting to believe a word of it, but knowing that there was no point in him lying to me. I didn't trust him, but somewhere deep inside myself, I knew he was telling the truth.
"Why did you have to go and tell everyone that story?" I asked. "Why couldn't you have just told me?"
"You wouldn't have taken the time to listen," Logan replied. He was right, I probably wouldn't have. "And besides, why do you care if everyone else knows?"
"Because!" I exclaimed, exasperated that nobody understood. "Now everyone thinks we're, like, star-crossed lovers or some other shit!"
"Maybe we are," Logan suggested, his expression absolutely dead serious.
"Don't ever say that again. Ever!" I hissed through clenched teeth before marching off.