Six months ago, Full Moon, Skyline Blvd, Oakland CA.
“Do you think one day we’ll look back on this and laugh?” Lexus McDonald asked her best friend Maria Juarez. Her breaths painful from running and her soles ached.
“Nope.” The equally winded Latina replied through chattering teeth, more from fear than the evening chill. “But I hope so.”
The sixteen-year-old girls remained motionless, surrounded by the outlines of two Doberman Pinschers, and what appeared to be the grand-daddy of all gray wolves. The canines burning red eyes coupled with the sound of human screams in the background heightened the hairs on the nape of Lexus’s neck.
“Damn!” The petite Latina evaluated their seemingly hopeless situation. “How did it get to this?” Her dark hair clung to her face and neck from sweat. Her sand brown skin flushed red. “I just knew things would get better.” Lexus regretted ever responding to the talent request posted on Craigslist.
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As a video dancer
You may have what it takes to start a career as a background dancer in the video of your favorite stars
When Lexus received a response from Pepper, the agencies Talent Scout regarding their performance of “Put a Ring on It,” uploaded on YouTube. She should have known it was too good to be true. Pepper invited them to become their newest talent. When Lexus informed the scout, they lived in a group home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and had no way to get to Oakland. Pepper said the company would pay for their transportation, housing and give them a living expense until they started working.
With prepaid Greyhound tickets in hand, the duo quietly packed their favorite items and slipped out of the eighteen-girl group home. When they arrived in Oakland, they were greeted by Pepper Brown. Despite her vibrant, red hair and a large diamond stud in her nose. The petite Korean was professionally dressed and well-spoken. Everything about her appeared legitimate. She gave each $100.00 in cash, manicures, pedicures, clothes, and makeup while hyping up the recording industry, informing the excited teens that even MC Sepulcher who currently ruled the charts, got her start as a backup dancer.
After a whirlwind day, Maria and Lexus were taken to the Jack London Motel where they could rest before their midnight video audition.
The Oakland Hills home of the recording executive was different from what Lexus had expected. Although there were several rappers present, it was obvious Pepper had taken them to a party and not a video audition. The smell of weed and alcohol permeated the house. Rappers and giggling females in revealing outfits snorted lines of cocaine on any available flat surface, others videotaped the lurid happenings. After several hours of shrugging off drugs, alcohol, and requests for sex, the two slipped out a side door into the heavily wooded area. The dream of the foster kids turned famous dancers had turned into a nightmare.
The pair spent the next twenty minutes wandering aimlessly down a dark, unpaved, hiking trail in impossibly tight-fitting, Lycra dresses, and uncomfortable shoes, hoping to cross a major street that would allow them access to a bus that could take them downtown and back to their room at the Jack London Motel.
When their heels finally stepped on a paved surface. The blinding headlights of a vehicle descending the road greeted. Like deer, the teens remained frozen, their eyes transfixed on the glowing orbs of light not knowing what to do. An angry, cream-colored male, his hair styled in finger waves parked his Mercedes behind them. He held the steering wheel gazing menacingly at the girls. How his head touched the car ceiling, it was apparent he had long limbs and a short fuse. Pepper sat on the passenger side wearing a grim expression. Two heavily made-up females, one white the other African American, neither much older than Lexus and Maria occupied the back seats. The second male with a bald pate kicked gravel on them parking his dark Mercedes just past Lexus. An African American female, wearing an electric, blue wig, clearly under the influence of drugs, head was pressed against the window. , She ignored the three anxious Pit bulls roaming in the back seat.
Pepper stepped out of the car. The teens remained silent. Lexus observed her every move. “Listen, guys,” the Korean explained, the diamond stud in her nose glistening from the headlights. “There’s been a misunderstanding, get in the car, and let’s head back with no hard feelings okay?”
“We’re sorry for the trouble we caused,” Lexus said, wanting to set things straight with the occupants of the Mercedes.
“This is the wrong crowd,” Maria argued under her breath.
“Good, get in the car, we’ll talk about this after we all have gotten some sleep,” Pepper agreed.
“We cool, thanks anyway.” Maria intervened, her arm blocking Lexus in mid-motion.
“What are you talking about?” Pepper’s tone more assertive. “You are in the middle of nowhere. Stop being silly, get in the car.”
“You didn’t want dancers, all you wanted was some ho’s,” Maria fired back, “and we ain’t ho’s, so if you don’t want to leave, we will!”
The large driver stepped out of the silver Mercedes, adjusting his hair before moving toward the teens. “I’m sick of this!” he sneered, exposing his glistening silver-plated 45 Caliber automatic stuck in the front of his pants. Get in the car, ‘fo I pop a cap in yo ass’s right out here in these hills!”
Lexus froze at the sight of the pistol allowing the male to grab and force her toward the car. The other females also exited the vehicle approaching Maria. “Bitch get in the car” the black girl demanded.
“Maria, run!” Lexus screamed, struggling with the larger male, but instead of fleeing, Maria slipped off her stiletto high heel and used it to rake the face of the black girl that sought to grab her.
“I ain’t nobody’s bitch!” The Latina screamed. The scarred female dropped to the cold ground. Cursing in agony, her face a bloody mess.
With rage in heart and a stiletto in her right-hand Maria charged Pepper. Screaming, Pepper and the white girl retreated behind the Mercedes to avoid the furious teen.
The permed driver struggling to place Lexus in the back of his car, turned his attention to Pepper allowing Lexus the opportunity to deliver a savage punch to the man’s Adam’s apple. Gasping for air, the man dropped, gashing his waved head on the side of the opened car door. By the time he hit the dew-covered ground the man was fully unconscious.
Lexus and Maria quickly regrouped, the lights illuminating their movements as they scurried down the hill toward the clearing. Sharp pebbles and twigs bruised their nylon covered feet. The frantic voices above, saying they had to take Sweet and Sandra to the hospital right away.” Seconds later, the ebony blanket of the night once again covered the hill, but the silence was interrupted by screeching tire and barking dogs. The second driver had released his pit bulls on them. Their screams competing, the teens tripped and tumbled down into the open field. The growls grew louder, merciless. Lexus stood, her body aching, Maria at her side ready to run, but instead the dirt, covered pair froze in stunned silence. Before them, six glowing, yellow orbs hovered several feet from the ground. Aware of the growling menaces behind her, Lexus studied the approaching orbs until she could see a humongous wolf and two Doberman pinschers. Maria and Lexus remained motionless, frozen by fear. The canines stared at the teens before observing the Pit bulls that entered the clearing. The three attack dogs skidded across the dew-covered ground snarling, but not approaching the larger canines with luminous eyes. “Trained domestics, this has nothing to do with you.” The wolf spoke. Oh, my God, the giant wolf can talk! Lexus turned to Maria, her mouth equally as wide.
“Go back to your human masters and live to serve another day.” The wolf’s voice was deep and commanding. The Pit bulls, snarled at the massive wolf, approaching the teens, slowly but defiantly. “Such useless loyalty” the wolf sighed. He turned his large head toward the Doberman pinschers. “Leave no remains, including the occupants in the Mercedes.”
Lexus blew her hair from her face; the Pit bulls were gone. Brief screams from atop the hill followed. This was way too weird. What was going on?
“I am Miwok,” the gray wolf approached. His heavy voice reflected intelligence and authority. “You have been selected to be part of the Union. Do you accept this invitation?”
Not knowing what else to say, Lexus then Maria nodded in agreement.
“Excellent,” the wolf responded. “You have made a wise choice. When you awaken, you will choose your spiritual form, and you will be part of a pack that dates before human time.”
Lexus looked at the beast shaking her head. This surreal experience had to be a nightmare. Maria was pressed to the ground by a Doberman pinscher before she was also forced to the ground. The last thing Lexus remembered was the gray wolf standing over her. His warm, pungent breath bit at her nose before his sharpened teeth went for her throat.
Lakeview Drive, Felton, CA
Lexus woke with a start; both her hands gripped tightly about her neck, ready to fight off the gray wolf. To her relief, it, nor the dogs were in sight. “It was all a dream,” she sighed. Then realized she was not in the small bedroom she shared with Maria at the group home, nor the Oakland motel room. “Where am I?” She gazed at the king-size bed, in a king-sized room. Where is Maria?
Slipping out of the bed, Lexus recognized the dress given to her by Pepper lying across the arm of a worn, rust-colored leather chair. That’s when Lexus noticed the bright, red, flannel Victoria’s Secret pajamas she was wearing. “I’m keeping these.” The chocolate girl with dyed blond hair mused, admiring the fit and feel of the colorful ensemble in the full-length mirror that stood in the corner. She wished she had her phone to upload a selfie to Instagram.
Seriousness again gripped Lexus. What happened to me? Sliding across the polished hardwood floor of the rustic bedroom that looked like the rooms featured on HGTV. Lexus peered out the window. The view of the mountains and trees quickly informed her she was no longer in the city. In the driveway below was an expensive-looking black, sports car.
Finding Maria now, at the forefront of her mind the sixteen -year old gently opened the redwood door as not to make a sound and noticed across the mid-sized hallway an ornate wooden door like hers. Tiptoeing across the Navajo runner, Lexus quietly opened the door; and as she had hoped, Maria was in the bed sleep. Her ripped dress also lying across a distressed leather chair.
“Maria?” Lexus whispered loudly to her sleeping BFF, Maria opened her eyes. She was pretending to be asleep. She sat up, sliding out of the bed. “Didn’t we get attacked by dogs?” Lexus asked, noticing that her best friend wore pajamas like hers, only canary yellow. Lexus preferred her own.
“See all the blood on my dress over there,” Maria pointed to her silver dress covered in bloodstains. “I don’t know what happened, but my knees and feet are no longer bruised or sore.”
Lexus pressed her soles upon the wooden floor. It was also true for her arches. “Where are we?” she whispered.
“I don’t know,” Maria answered. “But I’m sure it’s time for us to leave”.
“Check the closet to see if they have a jacket or something,” Lexus spoke realizing that their dresses were tattered, and their shoes were never designed for walking.
“Good looking out,” Maria replied opening the closet. “Whoa!” she cried with surprise “There’s Hella stuff in here.” Lexus peered into the closet and shared Maria’s astonishment. The closet was lined with various tops, jeans, shorts, and jackets. Boxes of sneakers, boots, and slip-on occupied the floor.
“They all seem to be in your size,” Lexus added, looking at the tops and jeans. What’s in my closet? Lexus wondered, walking across the hall and finding that her closet mirrored Maria’s. Changing quickly, the two crept down the stairs and stopped when they spotted a lone black woman sitting on a green printed couch in a Santa Fe styled living room. The two began to quietly retreat up the stairs, the seated woman released a heavy sigh, “Enough already, her English accented heavily influenced with French. “I know you are there, come down, so we can get on with this.”
The two exchanged glances, then cautiously descended the stairwell.
“Sit,” she instructed the teens who bumped into one another as they headed for the couch across from the stunning, dark-skinned black woman, although she was sitting, she was statuesque, at six feet tall. She had a small pug nose and large full lips, a short Afro with a starburst of white in the center. Her almond-shaped eyes immediately informed you she was a no-nonsense woman. She wore tight black slacks and a loose-fitting creamy white, chiffon blouse that forced attention to her ample cleavage and a tight-fitting black leather vest. Her crossed legs revealed black alligator boots with high-heels that added three more inches to her height. The woman sat on the couch as if she was posing for a high fashion shoot. “If you would allow me,” the woman gestured, her graceful left-hand revealing diamonds on each of her long, French tipped, fingers, “I will answer your questions before they are asked.”
“Where are we? And what do you want from us?” Lexus blurted.
The woman sighed, “If you allow me to speak, then I can answer your questions before I am deluged with an avalanche of pointless inquiries.”
“Let her talk,” Maria added.
“Okay,” Lexus agreed.
“I am Josephine Morreaux. I am here to inform you that you have been honored to be part of the Union, a group whose history dates to nearly the earliest years of civilization.”
“You guys are Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Lexus asked, forgetting she was not to interrupt.
“No, we are not Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Josephine replied with calm restraint. “If you would allow me to continue, The Union is an elite group of Le Loup-garou, or how you say werewolves,” Josephine smiled.
“Did you say join some werewolves?” Maria scoffed, “Lady you crazy. C’mon Lexus” she stood from the couch, “We gone.”
“That may be,” Josephine replied, offering no resistance to their exit, “but I did not say you were asked to join. I said you were selected.”
“That don’t mean nothing to us,” Maria jabbed, insistent that she have the last word before slamming the door.
“It will, when you asked, how were you attacked by a pack of werewolves and lived to tell about it without a scratch?” Josephine’s words lodged in their ears as the door slammed.
Seconds later, the door reopened, and the two walked back into the house and again sat on the couch opposite Josephine.
“How did you do that?” Lexus asked.
“As I was saying,” their host continued, “You were selected by the Union.”
“But why?” Lexus asked with frustration, her mind going back to the frightening experience.
“That question will be answered by Miwok one of the leaders later; though personally, you would not have been my choice, as I cannot see your worth.”
“Too bad it wasn’t you,” Maria chimed.
“Indeed,” Josephine nodded in agreement.
“What do you mean by that?” Maria replied realizing she had just been dismissed.
“Look at you,” Josephine smirked, as she waved her jewelry covered hand to outline the teens, “I suppose there is the promise of potential, and it is obvious that you two are attractive. Yet, you represent nothing, and you bring nothing to the table. Why I am here even entertaining you, is a mystery as much to me as it is to you.”
“Ya mean, ya Mama don’t represent nothing!” Maria fired back.
“You know what?” Lexus added, “we probably caught a whiff of some powder and dreamed up that we got attacked.” “And she’s just lying,” Maria agreed.
Josephine broke into loud laughter. “You flatter yourselves. Lying requires creativity and a concern for the person they would seek to deceive. Who are you that I would exercise my considerable creative wilds? No, my young friends what I say is as true as I knew that your pale taste in clothes would only be improved by the fundamental wardrobe I provided.”
“I don’t like em, and won’t wear em,” Maria replied.
“Now, who are using their creativity to impress?” Josephine asked, with self-satisfaction before tossing each teen a colorful, Dooney Bourke Wristlet Purse. “You will find inside, five hundred dollars, and the keys to this cabin.” She spoke as the two opened the purses to inspect the contents. “If you choose to stay, you will find that all the amenities that you could possibly desire are to be found here, a fully stocked refrigerator, television with cable, laptops, hot tub, etcetera.”
“What about a phone?” Lexus asked suspiciously.
“But of course, you each have your own phones located on your nightstand.”
“And just what are we supposed to do for you?” Lexus asked.
“Do for me?” Josephine replied with a chuckle. “No, my small, loquacious one, you couldn’t possibly do anything for me, for one, I will not be here.”
“You don’t live here?” Maria asked.
“This is one of the seventy-five homes that I own. It is for your exclusive use. Treat it with care as you go through your transformation. I will be at my Montmartre flat in Paris. Sherman, my property manager will come by once a month to see if you require anything, and my number is available if you must communicate with me.”
“Transformation? Lexus spoke alarmed, “you’re really serious about this.”
“Your wee brain is starting to grasp the complexities of your new-found reality. This is good, as I said, you do possess the potential for promise.” She smiled at the teen’s discomfort.”
“You talk a lot of shit lady,” Maria grumbled under her breath, growing tired of Josephine airs.
“Excellent, you are starting to feel the fire of the Le Loup-Garou fueling you with passion non?” Josephine smiled at Maria’s comment. “Leaving you to question, could I best this woman who talks so much shit? I would advise you to try,” she challenged. “But you will not, as the smell of your fear is nauseating, non, you would not do well against the leader of the Wolfen.”
“The Wolfen?” Lexus asked seeing the opportunity to change the momentum of the moment.
“Yes, right on cue,” Josephine turned to Lexus anticipating her interruption. “The practical one, you two will serve each other well. The Wolfen is a critical component of the Union that will also be explained in time.” She looked at the two. “The transformation will take place regardless of where you are. It is your choice to stay or go. It will happen slowly, with you first choosing your spirit form and shape, then you will acquire powers that will be unimaginable. I must take my leave.” Josephine stood, towering over the teens as she headed towards the door.
“Wait a minute,” Maria followed Josephine outside, with Lexus close behind. “Where are we? And how are we supposed to get around?”
“You will soon become accustomed to the outside, and you will find getting around an issue that requires little or no thought, but it is a skill that must be put into practice. The chocolate Amazonian dropped inside the black, Maserati Spyder parked outside. “Once that has happened you will need to go back into the city of Oakland for two purposes.” She reached inside the glove compartment and tossing Lexus a piece of cloth, “This belongs to Joseph Madayag, the last member selected to join the Union. You will find him and set up a meeting with Miwok.”
“How are we supposed to find him with this?” Lexus replied with incredulity.
“We don’t know anything or anybody in Oakland,” Maria added.
“It will come to you,” Josephine assured her, revving the elegant vehicle.
“And what’s the other thing we’re supposed to do in Oakland?” Lexus asked.
“Let just say, Le Loup-Garou never forgets an enemy, “Josephine laughed heartedly, driving off in a cloud of dust.