Sneak Peek into “The Enigma”

I am happy to announce that my pride and joy, “The Enigma” and “Becoming the Enigma”, have been resubmitted for a second round of editing. We’ve still got a ways to go until it’s published, but I though I’d like to give a sneak peek into chapter 2 to give you a taste of what’s to come. This is when Katey and Logan meet for the first time. Enjoy!

And for more about “The Enigma”, check out my blog page about it in the menu above under “Loup-Garou Series”.

***

Katey followed the paper signs that were posted up on the side of the road as she drove out of town. For the first time in a long time, she felt something. Butterflies. She’d never been to a party like this before and hardly knew what to expect.
She nearly missed the turn down the dirt road and came upon what would have been a beautiful open field. Cars and trucks were parked along the outside of the field near the tree line while in the center was a great bonfire and what looked like half of the student body dancing around it.
She could already hear the loud music that was blaring from someone’s stereo system and the obnoxious laughter and hysterical chatter. The butterflies metamorphosed into vicious beetles that clawed at her nerves.
She didn’t want to be here at all. Already she was growing agitated at the thought of being around so many people. But, she knew she had to try
Katey slung her hands deep into her hoodie pouch and stepped out into the cold night air. She meandered around, searching for a friendly familiar face. She knew Beth wouldn’t be here, but there were still other girls she hung out with on a regular basis at school that might have been there.
It was a total scene of debauchery with students smoking and getting drunk off the cheap beer someone brought in kegs and administered from the back of their pickup truck. Some couples were dancing, but the rest were mingling. No one noticed her, the outcast lurking in the shadows just beyond the rim of firelight.
The party was supposedly for the comet, but it was turning out to be just another excuse to pass the time in a boring town on Friday night. The moon was already making its appearance above the jagged tree tops and they would all miss the big event that only came every eighteen years.
Katey couldn’t find a single person she knew well enough. With a huff of frustration, she went back to her jeep and sped away from the party. She knew this was going to be a waste of time.
She didn’t want to go home, but she had nowhere else to go. Mary, her foster mother, would be home by now and the last thing Katey wanted was another altercation with her.
There were not that many places to go in Crestucky. There was a movie theater that played only a few outdated movies, a skating rink and a bowling alley, but all of those things seemed about as interesting as the party did. Nothing interested her anymore. Katey had heard about how debilitating depression could be, but this was ridiculous. There had to be a way to shake this despondency.
Then a thought entered her mind and she smiled.
Katey made her way back into town and turned off onto a sparsely populated road. It winded for miles until the road became dirt instead of pavement and trees closed in on either side.
A few miles more and she found herself at a dead end and a graveyard. It was a cemetery she had been to a few times before, but not for the reason most would assume.
Katey always thought graveyards to be peaceful places. They provided a quiet, secluded place for meditation and deep thinking. If anyone were to walk past her, they’d think she were mourning over a loved one and leave her alone.
And tonight, she needed solitude to think.
The sky was clear and the moon gave enough light that allowed Katey to read the writing on the stones. Katey parked the car and wandered amongst the graves. Her steps were slow, her shoes treading across the well worn path between the rows of stones and statues. This graveyard wasn’t monitored or gated, allowing anyone to visit at any time of the night. She could take her time and breathe in the earthy smell of the woods that surrounded her. Maybe later she would take a trip amid the trees too.
One plot of land was for a couple that died early in their marriage, another for an infant that was born and died in the same day. One was for a child who was indicated to have died of cancer at the youthful age of five.
Such tragedy, such loss. Sometimes Katey wondered if she’d become insensible to it all. There might have been a time when she’d feel her heart ache for the deaths of these people. But, just like the past year, she felt nothing.
Katey found a comfortable corner of the cemetery next to a grave of a boy that died during his eighteenth year.
She stared at the quote engraved in the cold, unforgiving stone. “Good night, I love you. See you in the morning.”
Katey never understood what the quote meant, but she always wondered.
She closed her eyes and let herself relax. She found herself smiling and she didn’t know why. Maybe it was the cool gentle breeze that played in her hair, or the chorus of nocturnal insects that surrounded her so completely.
It was that inexplicable serenity that she hungered for. The effects went deep, seeping into her. She wanted to laugh with relief. Maybe this was her breakthrough. That’s all she needed. A breakthrough. Something to stimulate the dead soul inside of her.
A twinge of bewilderment touched her mind as she began to wonder what exactly changed to make her feel this way. It couldn’t have been her surroundings alone. She’d taken a trip to this same cemetery a month ago and she felt nothing then. Maybe the moon? Maybe the comet that was to come soon? Or maybe…
“Someone you knew?”
Katey’s heart jolted. She gasped and looked behind her, staring up at the figure of a stranger.
She couldn’t see him well because the moon’s rays shone from behind him, shadowing many of his features. He was no more than a silhouette in her sight for the time, and he was far too close.
She didn’t hear him walk up. It took her a few minutes to recuperate from her minor heart attack before she could talk or breath.
“What?” Katey asked, forgetting what the stranger had just said. He chuckled a little; his laugh was so deep she could feel the sound waves vibrate in the earth. Katey shuddered.
“Was he someone you knew?” he asked again, motioning his head to the grave plot.
Katey looked at the tombstone and shook her head, sitting up straight again and avoiding the urge to look up. She knew she shouldn’t be talking to strangers, especially in a dark place, out in the middle of nowhere. She then remembered that her cell phone was in her car, so far away that if she needed help she couldn’t even call for it.
Fear flooded through her, but would not latch its claws around her heart just yet. She was afraid, but not that afraid. It was as if two conflicting emotions were battling with each other inside her. She trembled for a second or two, but then she inhaled and the peace came with the air in her lungs. It was a tug of war that she couldn’t comprehend or accurately explain.
“Then why are you just sitting here?” he asked.
Katey looked up at him, perplexed and suddenly brave. “Why are you here asking me why I’m staring at his grave? Was he someone you knew?”
The stranger shrugged and shook his head. “No, he wasn’t. I was just curious if you did.”
“How long have you been standing there?” she asked accusingly. “I didn’t even hear you walk up.” Her eyes flitted over him, but she still couldn’t make out too many details. If she could, perhaps she could tip the balance over these conflicting emotions.
The stranger chuckled again, sending oddly pleasant chill bumps down Katey’s spine. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
He then stepped forward and sat down next to Katey. He was far too close for comfort now.
Katey bolted from the bench and backed away under the shade of a nearby elm. She could see him clearly now.
His hair was black as the night sky above with very thin blonde highlights that looked natural in the way they weaved through his hair. Yet, the color combination was so peculiar.
In the moonlight, his almond shaped eyes appeared light blue, almost grey, a striking contrast to his dark hair and tanned skin. A slender tapering strip of dark stubble traced along his bold jaw. His features were strikingly handsome; so much that Katey had a hard time holding in a grin. To have him looking straight at her like that gave her thrills unimaginable.
The scale was tipped in favor of trusting him, but her mind would not trust her heart in this matter. Even the most beautiful roses had thorns.
Katey looked him up and down warily, remembering every detail of his appearance and outfit in case she had to repeat it again for a police report. What stood out most about his fashion was the black and blue paisley bandana tied loosely around his neck. The colors nearly matched his hair and eyes. No one wore things like that anymore, but he pulled it off well.
He looked up to her and smiled, his eyes smiling with him. “Wow, I’m sorry. I’m being a bit forward, aren’t I?”
Katey scoffed. “Try creepy and forward.”
The stranger then stood up and offered his hand out to her to shake. She eyed it suspiciously and scrutinized him in the dim light.
“My name’s Logan. And yours?”
“Why should I tell you?” she asked, still skeptical.
“Because I was kind enough to tell you and it’d be rude to not give me your name as well.”
There was an old world characteristic of him that she couldn’t quite place and it didn’t make sense with his so modern style. It was in the way he smiled, the way he looked at her, his mannerisms, and the aura he emanated.
Katey stared into his eyes. They seemed to have a certain luster to them that she couldn’t describe. It almost looked like he really cared what her name was and not just trying to be polite. It made her feel valued somehow. That was something she hadn’t felt in a long time.
She took a deep breath and replied, “My name’s Katey.”
Logan retracted his hand that she had refused to shake. “I’m assuming that’s short for Katherine?”
“What would it matter?”
Logan grinned. “Boy, are you the edgy one.”
“I kind of have a right to be,” she retorted. “You just showed up out of nowhere and I’m all alone out here. For all I know, you could be a murdering rapist or something.”
Logan’s smile faded. “But, I’m not.”
“How can I know that?”
“If I was, I would have done it already.”
Katey had to admit that he had a point. She glanced towards the parking lot and her jeep. She wondered if she could make a run for it. She looked back to Logan and he was still gazing down at her with a look of contentment. It was eerie, but oddly comforting at the same time. Even if she wanted to run, her feet wouldn’t respond. They were listening to her heart and not her head.
Katey stepped forward and extended her hand to him. He gave her a friendly grin and shook it firmly and briefly. His hands were warm, she recalled.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Katey,” he said.
“Yeah, you too, I guess,” she replied, trying to hold in the smile that was threatening to show on her lips. “So, what are you doing out here? Visiting someone?
Logan shook his head. “No, not really. I just come here sometimes to relax and get away from things. A graveyard is the perfect place to be alone, don’t you think?”
Katey was stunned. That’s exactly how she felt, but she wasn’t about to admit it. She wasn’t ready to let her guard down just yet. “Except right now. Neither of us is alone.”
Logan sniggered. “I suppose so. Why are you out here then?”
Katey pause, wondering what she should reveal and what she shouldn’t. “I just came from a party and I came here instead of going home,” she replied, looking away to the flourishing grass on top of the grave.
She couldn’t help herself but glance at his ragged jeans. They didn’t look like the kind of jeans that could be bought with holes already in them. These looked like they were torn up naturally.
“Why didn’t you stay at the party?” he asked. His voice was mature, deep and oddly soothing, like a balm to her rattled nerves.
“It was boring and I didn’t know anyone there. They were all just dancing and drinking. Not my kind of scene.”
Logan laughed. “But graveyards are?”
Katey felt flustered. “Well, no… Not really… I don’t know.”
“Sorry, it was just a question. Didn’t mean to rile you.” He waved his hands up in a gesture of apology.
Katey shrugged and looked away. “I guess I came here for the same reasons you did… I spend all day being around people and sometimes I just need to get away and be with myself for a change.”
Logan nodded and smiled. “Well, then let’s be alone together. Follow me.”
Logan then turned and walked off towards the center of the cemetery. He had a peculiar walk; smooth and graceful, yet masculine and commanding. He stopped and looked back at Katey with an encouraging smile.
“It’s okay, come,” he said, nodding his head a little before he continued walking.
Katey gave in, despite her better judgment, and followed him. She kept a few feet behind and compared their heights and estimated weights. She was so vulnerable. It would be near impossible to defend herself against him. But sometime told her that she had a greater risk of being attacked by a shark out in the middle of this graveyard than for her to be put in a situation where she would have to defend herself against Logan.
Now she knew the source of that peace. It must have been him. Just like her teachers, Logan radiated that same confidence in everything he did.
He stopped at the edge of a little pebble-stoned area, surrounded by a concrete perimeter that kept the stones in. It reminded Katey of a little sand box, minus the sand. There were no tombstones so it was kosher to walk on.
Logan stepped over the little concrete wall and into the pebbles, his heavy boots crunching against the rocks with each step. Katey watched and waited as he settled himself down on the stones.
She stared at him in puzzlement.
He let out a content sigh, folded his hands on top of his solar plexus and looked over at Katey with those dazzling eyes again. She could see that he was very physically fit. His waist was trim and from the way the light hit his black shirt, she could see the rock hard abs underneath. His broad chest steadily rose and fell with each steady breath in a rhythm that Katey could watch all night. He motioned for her to join him.
Katey raised an eyebrow at him.
“Okay, I know it looks weird and I know what you’re thinking, but I’m really not the kind of guy to hurt someone. At least not on purpose…” His eyes flashed with momentary hesitance. “But this is pretty relaxing and it’s a perfect view of the sky for when the comet comes,” he said sincerely.
It was then that Katey realized she had never been this alone with a guy before, let alone lay down next to him. Her common sense screamed at her, begging her to leave now while he wasn’t in the position to chase her. But the part of her that didn’t want to be numb anymore vetoed the idea.
She joined him and gazed up at the night sky, letting it fill her vision. She’d never realized how many stars there were and the moon was huge that night. Who needed street lamps when such a natural light was already there.
With each second that became the past, the restlessness that Katey had been feeling for months began to ebb away. Her tense muscles released and she felt she could breathe for the first time. Her chest no longer ached with loneliness. Her mind wasn’t engulfed in the black fog of despair and doubt.
Katey felt, for the first time perhaps in years, at home. This was her breakthrough.
“Do you feel it yet?” he said softly.
“Feel what?” she asked, her voice sounding loud even in her own ears.
“That weird sensation of peace like the world is alright.”
“Yeah,” she replied with a grin. “How’d you know?”
“Cause I feel it too,”
Katey rolled her head to the side and met his gaze. She didn’t realize how close he was, but she didn’t care. It was exhilarating.
He grinned and Katey couldn’t help but smile too. It was a true smile, not faked for the sake of friends and teachers. But, a true, genuine grin that she was slightly embarrassed to reveal to such a perfect stranger. She felt her face flush and turned back to the staring at the sky.
“I come out here probably twice a week. It’s almost like therapy,” he said. A moment of silence passed between them and she spoke again.
“Today is actually my birthday.” She didn’t know what provoked her to share this detail with someone who she just met when she never even told her best friends. It must have been that peace he was talking about. “A little before midnight I’ll be eighteen,” Katey said. She didn’t really know what time she was born; she just set a random time. Eleven fifty-five at night seemed nice for the moment. Beth had always bragged that she was born at three o’clock in the morning while Lily’s parents told her she was born exactly at noon.
“No kidding? Well…” he pulled out a watch from his jacket pocket and peered at it in the darkness. “In the case that either of us leaves before then, happy birthday.”
Katey giggled. “Thank you. And how old are you?”
“I turn nineteen in a about month,” he replied.
“You look older than that.”
He shook his head. “I get that a lot. You don’t look your age either.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she replied.
“Good. I meant it as one.”
They spent the next several moments in comfortable silence. A gust of wind rolled above them and Katey shivered as it leaked through her hoodie. She didn’t know whether to be frustrated that she didn’t come prepared with another jacket or that she could feel her skin crawl with gooseflesh. She hadn’t felt such a sensation since last winter, even though this was the closing of the first week of December.
“Are you cold?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” she mumbled with a sigh.
Logan ignored her and sat up to shrug off his heavy jacket. He handed it to her with a severe look like she shouldn’t argue. And she didn’t. Katey took his jacket and remarked how heavy it was. But once it was around her shoulders, it blocked out the cold perfectly.
They reclined back down, but this time Logan folded his hands behind his head, displaying his ripped body for her. Katey shivered, but not because of the cold.
“So do you live around here?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Katey replied with a note of apprehension.
“Where?”
“Why? Are you going to stalk me?”
“Not unless you want me to.”
Katey rolled her eyes at his teasing. If he had made that comment any earlier, she wouldn’t have taken it in the way it was meant at all.
“So you have heard about the comet, right?”
“Yeah, who hasn’t? That’s what the party was for. Funny thing is that everyone’s going to be too drunk to even pay attention when it comes around.”
He laughed. “And you really are not afraid to be out here all alone?” he asked, looking back to her with sympathetic eyes.
“Nah. I don’t think there are any really dangerous wild animals here anymore. And I can usually take care of myself,” Katey said with a level of counterfeited confidence that made even herself smile.
“But you get freaked out over a stranger trying to be friendly to you.”
Katey shook her head. “That’s just being careful.”
“And I still managed to get you to lay down here with me.”
Katey laughed off his comment. “Whatever.”
“And that thing about wild animals isn’t necessarily true,” he said softly.
Katey looked back at him. His expression was shadowed and somber, as if everything had been merely a joke up to this point. He was perfectly serious and he wanted to make sure she was aware of it.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I’ve heard that wolves are making a come back in this area,” he said, keeping his eyes on the moon, while she kept her eyes on his. They looked like they were changing colors, becoming lighter and lighter, mimicking the paleness of the moon. It took a moment for his words to sink in.
“Really? Are you serious?” she asked.
“Very serious. They spotted three just the other month from what I heard.”
He must have been pulling her leg. If they spotted wolves, it would have been all over the news. She rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“You don’t believe me, do you?” he asked.
“Not a bit,” she replied. He didn’t press the matter or try to make her believe him.
The moon made its gradual ascension into the sky, slow and majestic in its climb.
Katey had no idea how long they had been laying like that before a dull exhaustion crept in. She closed her eyes, but seemingly seconds later Logan spoke.
“And… happy eighteenth birthday, Katey. It’s midnight.”
Katey didn’t reply, but smiled all the same. She could feel his eyes on her, but she didn’t move or look at him in return. She was too wrapped up in her own thoughts. She was finally considered an adult. She could leave Crestucky, leave Mary and start a new life.
But with that revelation came the knowledge that if she did leave town, she’d be leaving far more than a bad home and hick town. She’d be leaving her friends behind. And before she could stop herself from thinking it, she knew she’d be leaving Logan too. It was silly. They just met and he suddenly became a factor in her decision to leave town.
“Hey, Katey… Look.” Logan knocked his hand a few times gently on her arm and she looked up. Just below the moon, a small streak of pale blue light, the color of Logan’s eyes, shot across the sky. She watched in wonder as its tail left a trail of stardust in its wake. Katey had never seen anymore more glorious.
And all the sudden, she felt small. In the vast workings of the universe, she realized that she was just a small speck of dust, no bigger than the pin of a needle compared to what else lay out there for man to discover. Now she understood why people could be so obsessed about space.
But Katey wasn’t concerned with space. Just her place in it. She was afraid that the depression would return and tried to force the thought out. But it wouldn’t leave. And instead of giving her feelings of grief and sorrow for her own insignificant life, it instilled something else completely different.
Katey wanted to find her place in the world, not just accept the idea that she might not have a place. She remembered how good it felt to help Mr. Myers with his car earlier in the day. It was the feeling of fulfillment when she helped someone in need. She wanted to feel it again.
Katey looked over to where Logan was laying to tell him all about her new revelation, but he wasn’t there. She didn’t even hear him leave. Rocks surrounded them, but somehow he managed to get up and walk away without making a single sound.
Katey sat up and swiveled her head around, searching for him. She didn’t see him anywhere. Katey began to wonder if she had fallen asleep and only imagined Logan. As she looked around more frantically, her heart began to pound in her chest with the thought that she was alone again. The peace that she had felt only moments ago had left her. She didn’t want to be alone ever again.
She jumped up and ran to her jeep, stumbling a little on her way. Just as she stepped over the threshold to the parking lot, she heard a long solemn wolf howl coming from the forest beyond the graveyard.
The sound reverberated through the air like a haunting call, chilling her blood and then making it boil all at the same time. It was a bizarre sensation as she froze and listened to the last dying notes, captivated by it.
Was it really a wolf or just a lone dog? She’d heard stray dogs bark and howl before, but none of them sounded like that. The howl was majestic and regal. Not the mangy wailings of a mutt. Could what Logan said be true?
She quickly hopped in her jeep and sped away from the cemetery. It took her that long to realize that she was still wearing Logan’s heavy jacket. Now she knew that he must have been real and not just an illusion. But if he was real, she wondered why he hadn’t taken his jacket back.

 

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