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Full Moon Kisses:A Full Moon Novel(4)

By:Ellen Schreiber


"Hi, guys," Abby said. "Sit down. We've been waiting for you."
Nash gave me a quick glare. Then his face brightened. "Yes, we have." My former boyfriend didn't protest.
I'd given him the gift of remembering his lycan nights. Why couldn't that be enough for him?
"Hey, Brandon, why don't you sit over here?" Nash said, scooting over.
We all looked at him oddly. Was it a prank? Was there a tack on the bench or something worse?
But Brandon didn't seem too bothered and sat down next to Nash.
Ivy gasped and Abby giggled under her breath.
"Seems like you have a new friend," Abby said to my former beau.
"Yes," Nash said. "We're going to be great friends. We have so much in common now, right, Brandon?"
It appeared to the others that he was talking about me, but I knew Nash was really referring to fixing their werewolf problem.
Brandon didn't respond and instead squeezed my leg underneath the table.
The two guys opened their bagged lunches. Brandon had five sandwiches, and Nash had four, plus three protein shakes.
"Dude-football tryouts aren't until late summer," Dylan said, surprised at their lunches.
"Gross. How can you eat all that?" Ivy asked.
"It's the spring air-" Nash said. "Makes me feel like an animal. Do you feel like an animal, too, Brandon?"
"What is he talking about?" Ivy whispered to me.
"Oh, nothing. Just a joke between friends," Nash said.
"So, boys, are you excited for the Werewolf Festival?" Abby asked. "It's only a few weeks away!"
"Oh, yeah," Dylan said. "We'll have to get tickets soon."
"The girls and I have already made our plans to dress up for the festival," Abby said proudly. "Will you guys? There's a hundred-dollar prize for the best-looking werewolf."
"That could be me," Nash said.
The girls giggled, but I knew what he was really referring to.
"What about you, Brandon?" Abby asked. "Are you going to dress up?"
Ivy and Abby treated Brandon so nicely, I regretted taking so long to tell them the truth about my love for him. I should have known they would include him, and I still felt guilty for misjudging them. However, their support made our friendship even stronger.
"I guess, if Celeste is."
Brandon appeared pleased with his new set of friends. I knew eating alone at that table for so many months had to have been so lonely. It killed me that he ever had to be there in the first place.
"What are you going to wear?" Nash asked him. "A costume?"
I nudged Brandon's leg under the table.
"He can be the brave huntsman that saves me," I said. "I'm going to come as Red Riding Hood. I still have the costume I wore for Halloween. It will be perfect."
"Or maybe he can be the Big Bad Wolf," Nash said.
"In that case, he might not need a … "
I shot Nash a look as if to say, Stop talking now.
But he was delighted with his inside jokes. The sad part was that my hero might look more like a werewolf than the attendees wearing their costumes.                       
       
           



       
THREE

field trip

Legend's Run was a small town spotted with sprawling communities, high-end and strip malls, and tons of chain restaurants. However, to get to more cultural activities, one would have to drive to the big city, which was less than an hour ride from our cozier town. Our neighboring city had sports stadiums, an accredited art museum, and a renowned zoo.
Every year the junior class went on a spring field trip to the zoo. There was a special feeling in the air on Thursday when students at school knew that we would soon embark on a fabulous field trip. With a school outing came freedom-a day clear of pop quizzes, long lectures, and sitting all day indoors. It would be an educational and relaxing time for all of us. And boy, did I need it. It would be great for Brandon and me to walk around the zoo and hang out with our friends.
I was stoked, waiting in line next to Brandon and Ivy to board the buses. Even though I enjoyed school, it was just as much fun to be taken away from it as to be driven to it.
Nash eyed me as I got on the bus with Brandon.
Brandon watched as I slipped into an empty seat, and he sat down next to me and slid his hand over mine. I looked back at our school, where the lower classmen were having a day like any other. I breathed in and sighed, releasing the tension, as if I were a yoga instructor.
As we pulled away from campus, there was a lot of hooting and hollering from the back of the bus, and Nash and some of his jock friends had to be scolded by the bus driver.
I breathed easier as we made our way out of Legend's Run High and onto the country roads. The open windows blew the breeze through my hair, and the warm sun seemed to kiss my cheeks. We passed fields of wheat and corn, grazing cattle and beautiful horses, spring flowers and trees in bloom. Yards were decorated with colorful tulips, daffodils, and potted plants and adorned with American flags and plastic geese. Birds were singing, and I felt exhilarated. I glanced over to my friends to see how they were enjoying our outing only to find them listening to their MP3 players and playing with their phones. Most students weren't even looking out the window. I felt sad, as they were missing out on the very things we were supposed to be enjoying and experiencing by being on a field trip.
I glanced at Brandon from time to time, and he seemed just as pleased as I was to get a break from school and take in the fresh air and sounds and sights of nature. However, our bus soon passed a strip mall and then turned onto the highway. It was exciting to get the chance to travel with Brandon on a field trip, and we intertwined our fingers as we passed corporate offices, car dealerships, and chain restaurants.
After a long drive on the highway, we passed through part of the city with its high-rise buildings and then saw signs for the zoo. It wasn't too much longer before we saw cars lined up on the street and the entrance to the zoo. Our bus pulled into the lot, and the boys in the back row started making ridiculous chimplike noises. This time, the bus driver ignored them as she was moments from parking.
One by one, we all exited the bus and made our way to the zoo's entrance, where one teacher did a head count while a volunteer from the zoo handed us each a map and a checklist of many of the animals at the zoo, with a blank area underneath where we had to write our observations about them. We were instructed to visit every major animal habitat and to meet at the zoo's entrance by two o'clock.
Ivy immediately veered off from our group and headed for the gift shop. Abby had to drag her out, appeasing her with the promise we'd have a chance to shop before we boarded the bus again to leave.
Ivy and Abby caught up to Dylan, Jake, and Nash and then joined Brandon and me and we all headed out for the exhibits. We girls were first to arrive at the cat house. The exhibit was both indoor and outdoor, and we proceeded to watch the Bengal tigers as they were resting in the sun. As the guys caught up to us, the tigers began to stir in their enclosure. For a few moments, the big cats sniffed the air and several of them began to stretch. Then a few of them squinted and perked up their ears. Several slowly rose and began to pace back and forth in front of their younger cubs. As we watched them, they continued to pace and we took a few notes before we thought about heading to the next enclosure. The adult tigers started to growl, and we were taken with their roars. Their growls grew louder. Then we realized the tigers were staring straight at Nash and Brandon.
"That's weird," Ivy said. "They don't like you guys."
Brandon backed away, but Nash stayed and waved his hands wildly. The tigers were still on their rocks and cavelike formations. One tiger stayed with the young, but another began to walk off the rocks and through the pond that separated the visitor's fence and the tiger's habitat. It was creeping over toward Nash.
"Can't you read?" Abby scolded him. She pointed to a sign that warned against taunting the animals.
The tiger was in its pen and at least fifty feet away. But it wasn't stopping or turning its direction. It was heading straight for us. And even though we were safely protected by a wire fence, it was creeping closer. We could see its eyes as, now not more than twenty feet away, it waded step-by-step, through the pond toward us. I wasn't calmed by the steel fencing, and I moved away, as did Ivy and Abby.
"You might want to stop," Jake warned Nash. "I don't think that's smart."
Nash immediately stopped waving his arms. But the tiger didn't pause.
Nash was as frightened as we were by the imposing tiger and retreated from the fence.
The tiger drew closer still and locked eyes with Nash. Then it growled. We could feel his breath and massive roar, and we girls screamed. Ivy and Abby ran a few feet back but Nash, Brandon, and I remained frozen.
"Let's get out of here," Nash said. "I never liked tigers anyway."
The tiger brushed against the fence, and other onlookers were also startled that it had approached us so closely.
We scurried away and as I glanced back, I still saw the tiger watching us until we were out of view.
We all laughed awkwardly and shook our heads at the weird incident. I was wondering whether others might have thought it to be bizarre-or if they were just passing it off as Nash taunting the animals.
"Scaredy-cats," Jake said to Abby, Ivy, and me as we made our way to the next habitat.

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