The Wolf Who Cried Like a Boy
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Marina came to the tropical islands of Red Moon only to man their ancestral house for her grandfather that has been injured, so meeting a hot local boy while staying in the huge old mansion was not on her mind. She wasn't even planning on dating again after her last relationship ended, but Grae was interesting enough for her to let him just pass by her. And when they started dating, everything felt like falling into place for Marina, until it didn't. Grae suddenly broke up with him, disappeared, and came back as a monster who was hellbent on making the ancestral house his own turf. Will Marina ever survive the mystery, horror, and thrill of the wolf who cried like a boy? Because Grae certainly is not just an ordinary boy.
"Liz, I think you'd flip if you hear where I'm right now," I said over the phone. I am now at the airport's small and only lounge-slash-waiting area waiting for my cousin Bella to pick me up, and the summer heat here is crazy. I could already tell that I would hate it here. The lounge had AC but it definitely felt like it was not working as my sweat was dripping as hell from my forehead, and even from my chest. I was literally soaked the minute I stepped foot in this new place. "I think I'm about to pass out from the heat. I know you dig tropical places, so I wished you were here instead of me."
"Why? Where are you, girl? Oh my gosh! Don't tell me that you're in Japan?"
I laughed because damn, I wished that I was indeed in Japan. "Japan's not a tropical place, Liz. I'm at Red Moon Islands," I replied, rolling my eyes as if Liz could see it. We bicker and talk like this like we secretly hate each other, but we're actually best friends. "And I know you haven't heard of it, so it's this group of islands in the Pacific near Hawaii and I just got off my flight."
This time, I know Liz actually flipped and I could hear her excitement over the phone as she squealed. "You traitor! I know that place! Who do you think I am? Of course, I have heard of the Red Moon Islands! Isn't that the summer islands where the naval base used to be during the war or something like that? Oh my gosh! I heard it's beautiful there! Marina! Why did you not tell me? I could need a tan, you know!"
"I'm sorry," I replied, but not really apologetic, since I would have traded this trip with Liz if it was possible. "But it's not too late. Come and join me, please," I finally said, revealing the real reason why I called her in the first place. "I don't think I would last a day here alone."
"How I wish I could follow you there, Marina. But you know that I need to move out of my Mom's. Gabriel is becoming more and more annoying. I need to have peace, you know. P to the 'effin -eace. But if you just told me this sooner, who knows, maybe I'm there now with you, you traitor." We both laughed while Liz kept on insulting Gabriel. Gabriel is Liz's stepfather who moved in with her and her Mom a year ago and they just don't get along. "God, what would I give just to make that awful man disappear in my life."
"Then come here," I begged.
"I'm saving up, girl. If you just told me this last week---"
"But this was an emergency," I explained to her. "My grandfather, who's from here, is on long-term medication. I think he broke his left leg from some road accident, so he will be in the hospital for months and no one will man his house--- our ancestral house, to be exact. It's supposed to be very old, so the house needs to be maintained and cleaned. You know what I mean... It's like being the cleaning lady without the payment. So don't be jealous. This is not a vacation." I was downplaying this trip because I did not want to be more disappointed than I was, so I just decided to hate this place the very moment I set foot on this foreign ground.
"Well, I hate to break it to you girl, but that is technically a vacation," Liz replied with witty sarcasm that I laughed at in spite of myself. "Lucky you, sunbathing there after a whole day of dusting off wooden tables while I'm here working at the shop spending my days with unruly Karens. Send me pictures to make me more miserable, but I will still like them because I'm your girl."
"Stop lying. You have a new boyfriend, so you're not technically totally miserable."
Liz giggled and I could picture her talking to me now beside Allain, her workmate-slash-new boyfriend that she kept on talking about these past few weeks that we were separated. Liz and I had just graduated from college and we were both on the hunt for our first corporate jobs when this trip happened to me. So while she was busy helping her Mom's shop, I was in the middle of applying for jobs when my cousin Bella called and talked about what happened to our grandfather, who I think is now seventy-five. My Dad wanted to come, but he's in Alaska and my older brother is in Asia doing volunteer work, so I was the only family member left for the very important but demanding job.
"And speaking of boyfriends, it has been months since you and Noah broke up, so maybe go and find a new one there. It's a famous tourist place so you'll find lots of hot men there. You know what they say. There's tons of fish in the water so it's not too late for the last bus trip."
I giggled. "I'm not that old. Don't make it sound like I'm forty-nine."
"Exactly. You're just twenty-two, girl, so go and date a local boy there. I bet they're hot since it's so sunny there."
"Ha, ha, you're so funny that my underarms are crying."
We laughed again and people near me were starting to look at me and that made me feel awkward because everyone else in here was quiet, so I finally told Liz that I was hanging up. And just as when I said my goodbyes to my best friend, I heard the voice of my cousin calling my name, and there she was, standing near the exit waving and smiling at me. I ran towards her and hugged her and I couldn't help but cry tears of joy since we were just fourteen when we last saw each other in person. We used to be close whenever Bella and her parents visited us in Brookview and I can definitely say that she's my closest blood relative because she's my age.
Bella helped me with my luggage as she told me that a car was waiting for us so we better get going, and we were just walking toward the parking lot when a handsome guy in a white sleeveless shirt and blue boardshorts appeared in front of us and my heart just... stopped. "So you're here, Grae. I thought you'd just be waiting in the car?"
The guy shrugged and even his shrugging was attractive. He was tall, but not so much that I would feel small beside him. He had this aura in him that made you want to look at him all the time. Then he stared at me with his piercing black eyes and I became conscious of what I was doing— that I was staring at him so hard, so I looked down. "It was hot waiting there." His voice was low but pleasant to the ears that it made me blush.
Bella laughed and I wondered if this guy was her boyfriend, since he looked young enough to be our age or at least close to ours. "Oh, by the way, this is my lovely cousin from Brookview, Marina. Marina, this is Russell Grae Evans, Grae for short. He's one of the caretakers at the Botanical Park where I work, and I asked him for a favor to give us a ride from here back to where I live."
"Hello," I said and offered him a handshake. I don't know why, but I became nervous. But he wasn't looking at me right now. Instead, he looked at Bella.
"You don't have to tell her my full name."
"Oh, trust me, I should have," said Bella who found this awkwardness between the two of us very amusing. "Just shake her hand, Grae. She's not going to bite you."
He did not smile back as he took my hand, like he had this mysterious air in him and that just made me more curious about him. Since he was tall I had to look up to see his beautiful face and I saw him wink at me. I think I just had goosebumps from just his wink. And the reason for that might be because he is so good-looking that I was starstruck.
He looks like a prince, but that wink told me that he's not that princely. "Welcome to Red Moon Islands," he said, and I saw that he had a tattoo of a wolf's head on his collarbone. He saw me staring at his tattoo, and he also probably saw me swallowing my own saliva because he smirked, and I could already tell that this guy would become a problem. A beautiful problem, by the way.
The ride back to Bella's house was hot and bumpy, but I wasn't actually bothered by those that much. I'm not big on trips that last for more than half a day, or trips where aside from jetlag I would also be dealing with unfamiliar weather that my body won't seem to adapt to because as a woman, dealing with the extreme is tedious sometimes. But this time, all of the things that annoyed me seem to feel irrelevant compared to the awkward feeling I have with the man in the driver's seat.
"Are you okay there, Marina?" Bella asked from the shotgun seat. I was in the backseat looking outside the window where I could see the royal blue water of the sea. "You're way too quiet."
"Oh, sorry. It must be the jetlag creeping in. You know what they say. The almost three thousand-mile flights are the beginner's introduction to hell." Bella laughed, but the guy beside her didn't. I saw him look at me from the front vie
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