As Alpha Asher bounded through the forest, he sent out an alert to everyone in the pack. I could feel the panic ripple and spread, but Asher managed to contain the wildfire before it consumed us all.
‘Attention everyone–those of you on the Northern side of the pack, seek shelter. Remain indoors until further notice. The rest of you, head South and find a safe place to lay low.”
I had no intention of letting Asher handle the invasion alone, as I’m sure he had suspected. Now that I had finally discovered my intended mate, the last thing I wanted was to let him out of my sight. First, I needed to make sure my family was safe.
I didn’t run when I found out the truth about my heritage, nor did I run when I found out Sean was taken, and I refused to run now.
Staying in human form, I bounded through the woods and headed back to the party. The twinkling lights that had once been romantic, were now beacons leading me back to my family.
The smell of grilled food still lingered in the air, though the laughter and dancing had ceased. The music had gone silent, as had the carefree atmosphere. Tension rippled along the crowd as many held their children close, piling into cars and driving down the road.
Most chose to leave, heading to their homes where they believed themselves to be safe. Children continued running around, oblivious to the heavy sense of foreboding. The adults knew the truth. If Asher, Zeke, and Bran’s men failed to stop the attack, none of us would be safe.
My Dad had abandoned his station at the grill, helping some of the elderly into the packhouse. I gave Dad a hand as we lifted an old womans wheelchair onto the porch. Dad placed the woman into her chair and wheeled her inside with a grim nod. Grandma was helping some of the parents track down their excited children, those too young to understand what was happening.
Sean and Mason were nowhere to be found, most likely heading towards the Northern perimeter. I wanted to scold Sean for placing himself in danger, but how could I blame him when I intended to do the same thing?
Once everyone had cleared out, I headed inside with my Grandma. There were only a handful of people who chose to remain in the packhouse, all of them chattering quietly about the oncoming threat. Grandma flitted around the room like a hurricane, offering food and water to anyone in need of it. Dad perched himself in one of the recliners, looking more troubled than usual.
“Sean and Mason head over to the Northern perimeter?” I asked, catching the sour look on my Dad’s face.
“Sure did.” He huffed, “Can’t stay out of trouble any better than you can.”
“I guess it runs in the family.” I snickered halfheartedly.
“You make sure your brother’s safe while you’re there.” Dad grunted, his eyes narrowing as he looked at the bloody mark on my neck. “I suppose Alpha Asher finally got around to markin’ you, huh? Can’t say I’m disappointed, always knew you were destined for great things. You’ll be the most stubborn Luna in history.”
“I’ll be stubborn, but I’ll get things done.” I chuckled; my face heated under his knowing gaze. “How’d you know Asher was my mate?”
“Blame your Grandma.” Dad grumbled, “She’s suspected ever since you started training.”
“Of course, she did.” I scoffed, meeting my Grandma’s amused gaze. “I have to take care of something before I leave, but I’ll make sure Sean’s safe.”
I ran up the stairs, heading to the bedroom Asher and I shared. This had been a last resort, but I needed information. The scarlet mark on my shoulder tingled under the layers of concealer, reminding me that it hadn’t faded away under Asher’s touch.
As the bedroom door closed behind me, I reached out with my mind. Calling the shadows had become easy, as though they were hidden in the dark, waiting for my call. I walked over to Asher’s bedside table, grabbing the crude dagger I knew he had stashed there. The air around me turned cold, followed by the teeth chattering chill that sank into my bones. From the deepest corners of the room, the shadows squirmed, answering my call.
I pressed the jagged blade against the palm of my hand, exerting the slightest amount of pressure. The stinging pain was numbed from the cold, and I watched as my blood pooled in my hand. I couldn’t help but notice Tristan’s mark was the same shade, the color of fresh blood.
‘I need information.’ I told the shadows, watching them writhe at the sound of my voice. The slivers of smoke and shadow glided towards me, wrapping around my legs like an affectionate dog.
‘Ask, Princess. Let us drink.’ They whispered, their voices like icy silk against my cheek.
‘Why hasn’t Tristan’s mark faded from my skin?’ I kept my voice low in fear of being overheard. ‘I was just marked by my mate, but the Vampire’s mark is still on my skin.’
‘Half-Vampire, Half-Werewolf.’ They whispered; their silky voices sent a chill down my spine. ‘A mate for each side. One by fate, one by choice.’
‘I didn’t choose Tristan.’ I hissed, watching as the shadows coiled around my legs.
‘A part of you is drawn to the Vampire.’ They purred, ‘The part of you that longs for blood.’
‘I want his mark gone from my skin.’ I grimaced, ‘What is your price?’
‘A bond for a bond.’ They replied, ‘Our price is the bond you hold with Alpha Asher Desmond.’
‘No.’ I murmured, wincing at the stab of pain that coursed through my body. Asher was the mate I wanted, the person I had chosen and was made for. Giving up the mate-bond between Asher and I meant destroying a part of my soul, destroying a part of his soul. ‘I don’t accept.’
I could taste the shadows disappointment on my tongue, sharp and cold like a shard of ice. I willed the shadows away from me, willed them to return to whatever depths they emerged from. One by one, they slithered into the darkest corners of the room. The shadows writhing against the walls became still, making the cold dissipate.
‘The shadows were wrong, they had to be.’ I murmured to Maya, who unleashed her outrage at the information I had just received. ‘I don’t want Tristan, and I certainly don’t choose him.’
‘I know.’ Maya sighed, ‘I know how you feel for Asher, but I can’t tell how you feel about Tristan. There’s a whole side of you that I don’t have access to.’
‘Tristan’s attractive and can be seductive when he wants, but he doesn’t call to my soul. He doesn’t make me feel like I had been sleeping my entire life, only to finally wake up under his touch. He doesn’t make me feel a fraction of what Asher does.’
‘And yet there’s a bloodthirsty side of you that he calls to.’ Maya frowned, ‘Whatever happens, don’t throw away what we have with Asher.’
‘I won’t.’ I shook my head, ‘I promise you that.’
I ran back downstairs, giving my Dad and Grandma a quick hug before darting out the door. I grabbed a set of car keys from the table in the foyer, unlocking one of the many cars Asher owned. Only a few minutes had passed since I talked to the shadows, and I hoped I wasn’t too late.
‘Taking your sweet time coming up here, Lola?’ Asher’s voice flooded through my mind.
‘Am I that predictable?’ I snorted, putting the car in reverse and peeling off down the road.
‘Predictable is not a word I would use to describe you, darling.’ Asher purred, somehow managing to sound seductive despite the fact that he was fighting against our own kind. ‘Sean is safe, by the way. Mason’s at his side.’
‘I’ll be there in a couple minutes.’ I promised, ‘We’re mates, you can’t get rid of me that easily.’
‘Which car are you taking?’ Asher asked, making me chuckle. Even with the situation at hand, he cared about his car.
‘I grabbed the first key I came in contact with.’ I shrugged, ‘It’s a Mercedes, if that helps.’
‘Good, it’s Zeke’s car.’ Asher snorted.
I ended the mind-link as Asher came into view. He had shifted into his wolf, a large black beast that plowed through Vampire and Werewolf alike. Even with his large size, he moved with incredible speed and accuracy.
Blood coated some of the other wolves’ coats, yet none ceased their fighting. It seemed the Vampire King had deployed very little of his men on this attack, and used Luna Freya’s remaining men as the brunt force of the attack.
The houses had become scarce on this side of town, as most people lived towards the center. My heart stammered in my chest as the house Giovanni was staying in came into view. An inconspicuous house of blue panels and an old white porch. Breyona’s car was parked outside, rested against the curb.
I parked Zeke’s car on the side of the road, watching as one of the many wolves fighting slammed into Breyona’s car. The door of the car dented effortlessly under the weight of the wolf, the window shattering upon impact.
‘Breyona’s going to be pissed.’ Maya muttered.
‘Pissed but alive.’ I commented.
Asher and the rest of his men seemed to have the fight under control. I stayed on the outskirts of the fight, inching my way towards the house. As I made it to the porch, my stomach dropped. The door had been kicked down, lying in pieces on the living room floor.
I made it inside just in time for one of the wolves to slam into the porch, destroying a quarter of it. The boards groaned and screamed as they snapped, but the wolf seemed mostly unharmed.
With the snapping and snarling of wolves outside, the inside of the house was heartbreakingly quiet.
“Breyona!” I shouted, running up the stairs and peeking my head into the two small bedrooms. A king-sized bed sat in one of the rooms, the blankets a mess as though someone had been sleeping in it. Breyona’s scent was all over the house, the strongest portion on the large bed.
Her scent was mixed with another, something earthy with a hint of sweetness. I knew the smell would be Giovanni’s, but the scent in the bedroom was already beginning to fade.
As I stumbled back down the stairs, I noticed something shiny on the floor, reflecting the dim light in the kitchen. I headed through the kitchen to the sliding glass doors that gave a perfect view of the forest. The glass had been shattered; tiny droplets of blood stained some of the pieces.
An icy chill rushed through me, though this time it wasn’t from the presence of shadows. A note was pinned against the wall, held in place by an ornate silver dagger. I had seen this dagger before, when Tristan and Giovanni fought to the death.
We want the half-breed. Make a wrong move, the traitor and his bitch will die. You have 48 hours.