Left (Reflections Volume 12)

By: Dean Murray

I spent five hellish years in a constant state of fear, convinced that we were only a heartbeat away from being destroyed by a larger pack of shape shifters.

Just when it looked like we'd won, an even bigger group of thugs stepped in, and this time I ended up as one of the casualties.

I lost all of my memories, everything that made me the person I was back then, and became a stranger inside my own home, uncomfortable with everyone from my father to my boyfriend.

I thought Wyatt's arrival was the lifeline I'd been looking for, but I had no idea just how dangerous his secrets were.

My name is Jessica Engel and this is my story.

Chapter 1

Knowing that your boyfriend is keeping secrets from you—important secrets—tends to put a damper on a relationship. I knew that, but that still hadn't stopped me from choosing to go with Wyatt rather than staying back home with my dad and Isaac.

I'd known Wyatt for less than two months, but my decision to go with him wasn't as stupid as it sounded. At least that was what I kept telling myself. Looking from the outside in, it would've seemed like the easiest decision in the world. On the one hand, I had my dad, who was basically confined to a wheelchair as a result of the wounds he'd taken trying to defend our home only a short time after I'd been born, and Isaac, who'd been there for me practically since the time he and I had been able to walk. He'd fought for me, protected me, and basically bared his soul in an attempt to keep me from leaving home.

On the other hand I had Wyatt, who was the very definition of irresponsible, and who had yet to tell me where he lived.

When looked at in that light, maybe what I was doing was as crazy as it sounded.

The problem was that I couldn't remember any of the things my dad had done for me growing up, or what exactly Isaac and I had shared. I didn't remember the first time we'd held hands, our first kiss, or even going to prom with him just a few months earlier. I didn't remember any of the things that helped ground a normal person and let her feel like she belonged with the people and places that made up her life. My first memory was of a time shortly after one of the Coun'hij enforcers had attacked me and stolen everything that had made me who I was.

Maybe I should've viewed that as a blessing in disguise. Plenty of people hated their lives and would've given almost anything to start over, but I wasn't really getting to start over. At least not as long as I'd stayed in Sanctuary. As long as I'd been home, I'd been forced to talk to people who had a hard time separating me from the Jess that they'd grown up with.

It didn't help that by all accounts Jess hadn't been a terribly awesome person. Back when I'd been Jess I'd been scared a lot of the time. Apparently one of the pack's enemies, a guy named Vincent who was long dead by now, had tried to rape me and come awfully close before Isaac had been able to save me, and I'd never been quite the same after that.

Everyone seemed to be trying to give the old me the benefit of the doubt, but the truth was that Jess sounded like she'd spent a significant amount of her time being petty out of fear that losing control of her surroundings again would result in something else terrible happening to her. Maybe I was being unduly insensitive to the person I'd been once upon a time, but so far no one had been able to give me a compelling reason why Jess being replaced with Jessica was anything but a win.

Everyone had reasons—Isaac had a million—but none of them stacked up against the fact that out of the entire pack only two people had really seemed to care that Jess was gone and I'd replaced her. So what if I'd been a wonderful dancer and spent countless hours with Isaac learning a variety of big-band swing steps? So what if I'd always known the right thing to say to make Andrew feel like he wasn't a failure as a father?

The truth was that neither of those things seemed to stack up favorably against the way I felt around Wyatt, who'd shown up in my life out of the blue and offered me a way out of all of my problems.

It wasn't just that he was hot, with blond, surfer hair and bright green eyes, it was that he was the antithesis of everything Jess had been. She'd been paranoid about losing control, convinced that only by controlling her surroundings nearly to the point of neurosis could she ensure her safety. Wyatt, on the other hand, was marvelously carefree. He understood that no matter how hard someone tried to control all of the variables in their life, there was always something big that was utterly uncontrollable.

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