Ok, so as a writer I put little pieces of myself into my writing and it’s often done without my knowing it. I’ve read back over some of my books and realize that some of the things the characters go through are troubles I had either already worked through, or I was currently working through them at the time I was writing.
Well, tonight, I surprised myself again. Now, this is a bit of a spoiler alert for my Loup-Garou series, but this is a segment from chapter 12 of my next novel, Beast Within. It speaks a truth that I’ve been working at hammering into my own head for a while and I wonder if the message would help anyone else out there who is dealing with self-condemnation and insecurities about their life and relationships with others…
If the chase proved anything to Michael, it was that he was no longer a young man and that he had grown too accustomed to civilized life. Werewolves were always drawn to the woods, while his kind stayed indoors where it was safe and comfortable.
He stood in front of the cemetery gates to catch his breath, taking in the view of the graffitied sign that welcomed mourners and visitors alike. Miles away from Crestucky and well out of sight from human eyes, Logan had certainly picked a strange place to sulk.
“Leave me be, old man,” Logan’s voice drifted on the whistling wind.
Michael regained his strength and walked through the ajar gate, his footsteps barely making a sound on the crisp, untrodden grass. Even if Logan’s scent hadn’t led him to this remote graveyard, the trail of heightened emotions would have made his location known like a bright neon sign in the sky.
Since he had come to Crestucky, he knew the werewolves were in a dire situation. Fear and tension loomed like a thunder cloud over the city, and especially over the house in which Katey found herself living. Although Michael would have much preferred that she come to live with him, he understood the mind of the werewolves and their need for camaraderie and familial ties. To take her away from her pack would be like suffocating her slowly. To take her from her lover would prove even more disastrous.
From the moment he saw them together in the grand foyer, Michael knew their relationship was filled with love and devotion for one another. Yet, there was a queerness about their bond. Something unseen and probably undetected – even to them – was not quite right and Michael had racked his brain for weeks to figure it out.
Seeing them quarrel made it all too clear. Logan was willing to love, but not willing to lose. He loved to strongly, too passionately and although Katey loved him with just as much intensity, there was nothing holding her back, except for Logan himself.
With care, Michael approached the shaken wolf. Logan was crouched between two graves towards the back of the field. Every line of his body told Michael that he should not venture closer. But he did and stood within striking distance behind Logan.
He took a deep breath and turned to admire the surrounding woods that shaded the edges of the cemetery from the silvery moonlight. After a few moments of waiting, more or less to prove to Logan that he could control himself under the urge to assault the intruder, Michael asked, “Do you come here when you’re upset?”
“I come here to be alone,” he growled.
Michael looked back at the dirt road he had sped down to get here. “It’s a good place to be alone. I’m sure there aren’t more than a dozen people in the world who would know this is here.”
Logan looked over his shoulder, eyes still blazing gold and cutting through the night. “Many loups-garous know of this place.”
Michael avoided looking into the eyes of the beast and continued to observe his surroundings, studying the trees and the way the crickets sang their night chorus. “And now one vampire is privy to its location. Surely, you didn’t think we would let you run off while hunters are around?”
The hunters might have been closer than they thought. With his guards stationed around Katey’s home and new family, Michael was certain they would be safe for the time being. But there was one suspicion niggling in the back of his thoughts that refused to be pushed aside. With a few phone calls, he would know if his hunch was correct.
Until then, he had to find some way to get Logan back to the house so he could reconcile with Katey.
Logan turned away and rolled his shoulders before standing. They were equally matched in height, but with the extra pounds that age had given him, Michael was no match for Logan’s youth and brawn.
“Was that the first time you ever struck Dustin?” Michael asked, feigning intrigue and admiration.
“No,” Logan replied with a sigh. “It wasn’t. But it was the first time he didn’t deserve it.”
Michael bit back a smile. “Then why did you do it? If Dustin wasn’t – “
“I don’t know,” he snapped.
“Don’t know who you wanted to harm, or don’t know why you did it at all?”
Logan slowly turned to face him, face riddled with grief and a burden that no man could lift. “I don’t know why I struck him. I was just so angry.”
He shook his head. “No, I could never…”
Michael offered his ear to Logan, tilting his head and waiting for him to continue. “Never what? Never hate her? Never be angry with her? Back at the studio, you were furious with her. We could all see that as plain as day. There’s no shame in admitting that you were jealous.”
Logan shoved his hands into his pockets and averted his gaze. “I wasn’t jealous. How could I be jealous of someone coveting what is not rightfully mine?”
Michael rocked back in his heels and nodded. “Now, we’re getting to it. Come, son. There’s no one out here to eavesdrop and you can trust me.”
The werewolf shot a glare at him. “How can I? Ever since you showed up, you’ve been telling Katey how important she is, how her parents were famous and practically royalty. She’ll realize she can having something better than me and it’s all your fault. If you never came, everything would have been just fine the way it was.”
That was not true in the least. If Michael had never come, Katey would have never learned about her heritage and role in this grand design to bring the world back into balance. She wanted to know her parents, had wanted it from the very beginning before she even knew that she was the chosen one. Any orphan on this earth yearned for the same truth – to know where they belong and who they were. Michael furnished Katey with that knowledge and probably earned her undying gratitude for it. None of the others even knew she was the daughter of Adam and Jane.
“Has Katey told you this?” Michael asked. “Has she said the words ‘I don’t want you anymore’? Because, if I recall, she said quite the opposite just a short while ago.”
Logan shook his head. “She was saying those things to avoid making a scene.”
“No, I assure you that she was sincere. I am empathic, remember? Part from the fear that you were going to hurt someone, Katey felt love for you.”
“It must have been pity.”
Michael narrowed his eyes in puzzlement. “Why should she pity you? Why should she think you were not worthy of her love?”
Logan looked away across the field of tombstones, but would not reply.
With a sigh, Michael realized that he would have to learn the hard way. Using another of his vampiric abilities that was usually reserved for hunting or preying upon the weak, he reached into Logan’s mind and searched through is many memories.
Without blinking an eye, he sifted through the hate, the despair and utter agony that epitomized Logan’s life. One tragedy after another, full of lose and self-loathing. The only bright, shining light was Katey herself. Did she knew how much he needed her? How much he idolized her and worshipped her as his savior and angel of mercy?
It took only seconds for Michael to know everything; how Logan had unwittingly murdered his parents, how he was unable to change at will, how diluted his werewolf blood truly was. All of it made him wonder more about his origins.
In all of his years, Michael had never heard of a werewolf who obtained their condition from a second generation, such as Logan had inherited from Dustin. He might have been the only one to notice that morning at the castle, but Michael witnessed something extraordinary that left him scratching his head in regards to Logan.
When Katey had died, Logan was inconsolable as he held her in his arms. His tears ran in streams down his face. Michael had never heard a man weep in that way for over a century. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, or a romantic illusion, but he was sure that he saw one of Logan’s tears fall into Katey’s gun shot wound. A few seconds later, Katey was gasping for breath.
There was only one thing that could heal a mortal wound like that. Vampire tears had unique medicinal properties. In the dark ages, shamans and witches prized vampire tears and Michael had heard of some vials being sold for a small fortune. They were said to cure the plague and even bring the dead back to life.
Vampires did not cry often, making their tears a precious item that mystics searched after all their lives.
Michael held his hands behind his pack and continued to speculate as he watched Logan struggle for the words. It was lunacy to suggest that the werewolf who stood before him had any vampire blood in him. But the theory of his miracle tears was compelling. Then again, perhaps it was pure coincidence. Katey, after all, did poses the immortal spirit of Tanatia and with that privilege, might have come abilities that they could not begin to fathom.
Unable to wait for Logan to muster the courage, Michael spoke. “You think that because Katey is so special, that you can’t possibly match her.” He took a few steps forward. “My friend, love is not a competition. And if Katey’s parentage makes her unattainable, then you don’t understand what love is.”
Logan looked to Michael, a warning in his glare.
“Love,” Michael continued, “does not fabricate excuses. It wants what it will want and no force on earth can tear it asunder.” He held up a cautionary finger. “Unless you allow it to. If you continue to push her away on the grounds that you find your own self inadequate, then you have already lost her.”
“Katey deserves better than me.”
“No,” Michael barked. “She deserves the kind of love that you can give her. If you don’t pull up your trousers and realize that she will die inside without your love, then she will never fulfill her mission.”
“I’m sure she could do fine without me.”
Michael scowled. “So, then you don’t love her?”
Logan growled. “I do love her. She’s the only thing I’ve ever loved in this world.”
“All I’m hearing are excuses and lies that you’ve probably been feeding yourself for your entire life. The pack can do without you. Darren would be relieved that a disobedient pup left him. Dustin would be happier with a more stable grandson. Katey would be better off with a man who wasn’t so jealous and insecure. These lies will become true if you let them fester in your mind for the next four centuries.”
Michael leaned forward. “Or, you can make a choice to believe that your pack cares about you. You can choose to believe that Darren and Dustin love you as if you were their son. You can make a choice to believe every word that Katey tried to pound into your head on the sidewalk.”
Logan shook his head. “It’s not that easy. I don’t know how it is for you vamps, but I can’t just flip a switch.”
“I don’t expect you to flip a switch. I expect you to retrace the steps that have led you down this self-destructive path and find where you went wrong in your thinking. It may take years, maybe decades, for you to come back to the place you once were before you decided to make yourself your own worst enemy. But when you’re there, you’ll realize that you’ve been the mate that Katey has always deserved and the pack member that Darren has always needed.”
Logan was silent and Michael could see the wheels begin to turn in his head. Yes, it would take a while to reverse the damage, but tonight would be the first night of many where Logan didn’t have to hate so strongly anymore.