“Please marry me,”
Talia repeats, her eyes full of tears as she sets Kota down on the floor.
“W-what?” I ask, unsure if I just imagined her proposal.
She steps on the tips of her toes, cupping my cheeks in her warm, soft hands and repeating the most wonderful words to ever leave her lips.
“I love you,” she murmurs, my heart pounding against my chest as I struggle to hold back my own tears.
“And I just realized that I’m going to wake up tomorrow…And you won’t be there,” she shrugs with a sad smile on her face.
“And that scares me,” she whimpers softly.
“Because I-I don’t ever want to wake up without you.I want your face to be the last face I see at night and the first one I see every morning…for the rest of my life.” I can’t seem to gather my thoughts and for once, Grayson is as useless as I am.
“I used to be so afraid of your love,” she whimpers.
“But now I fear living without it.Please marry me, Zane,”
Talia whispers, gently brushing her lips against mine as sparks tingle across my face.
“I want to be your wife.”
No words seem sufficient enough to express the blissful joy I feel in my heart right now as my mate kisses me with all her heart, begging to be mine for the rest of our lives.
I grew up thinking the and now it seems surreal to have a mate love me enough to give me her broken heart.
Despite all her fears, Talia loves me and I love her with all of the light of my soul.
“Y-yes,” I reply, wrapping my arms around her waist.
“Y-yes.I-I’ll marry y-you.”
She smiles against my lips as I accept her over and over again, forgetting the horrible truth of our reality to share a single moment of true happiness with my mate.
She’s going to be my wife! Thank Goddess! Grayson howls ecstatically.
I thought we were going to die alone at this rate! lignore my wolf’s commentary, lifting my beautiful mate in my arms as I deepen our kiss.
“Come back to me, Zane,” Talia murmurs between kisses.
“You have to come back so I can be your wife.” I nod emphatically as I set her down, taking her hand and kissing it.
“I-I promise.I-I promise I’ll come back to y-you and Kota.” I cup her cheeks and shower her head with kisses, Kota hopping up and down with excitement.
“Ewww!” Kota squeals, a huge grin on his face as I kiss his mother.
“No more kisses,” he shouts, running up to us with his hands in the air.
I bend over and pick him up, Kota placing his hand over my mouth to stop me from kissing him. Aren’t you forgetting something? Grayson says, his tail flicking side to side.
What? I ask, completely confused.
Must I do everything, he sighs tiredly.
A ring, you gump! You need a ring for our mate! Oh! Right! I gasp, realizing I don’t own anything that remotely resembles a ring.
I’ll have to improvise.Pushing his little hand aside, I whisper instructions in Kota’s ear, the little boy nodding obediently and running off to complete his task.
“Zane, we have to go,” Tylen insists.
“We don’t have a lot of time-“
“I-l know,” I interrupt him, lifting my hand to silence him.
“J-just give m-me one more minute, p-please.”
Tylen eyes Talia and I, sighing tiredly to himself as he gives in.
Just then, Kota returns with the four bead bracelet he made for me a while back.
“Here you go, Daddy,” Kota says, placing the bracelet in my hand.
I untie the string, removing the pink and blue beads from the bracelet and handing the blue one to Talia.
“K-Kota made this for m-me.It’s our family,” I explain, pointing to each bead.
“Y-you’re now ho-holding a piece of m-me and I-I’m holding a piece of y-you.
I-I don’t have a ring for y-you yet but I-I promise to c-come back so w-we can put our fam-family bead in my hand.
Tylen snaps when I kiss Talia one more time.
“Y-yes sir,” I nod, pecking Talia on the lips.
“I love you Talia,” I murmur.
“I love you.”
I turn on my heel, grabbing my bag and following Tylen towards the door when he suddenly halts, his jaw clenching as he places his hand on the knob.
A small growl leaves his lips and he turns around, storming towards Agnes who stares at him with bewilderment.
Neither one of them signs a word and for what seems like an eternity, they simply stand before each other.
Grayson hums to himself, leaving me to be oblivious on my own.
What is? I ask but Grayson never gets the chance to answer me as Tylen suddenly removes his dog tag and places it in Agnes’s hand.
Without another word, Tylen leans in and kisses her gently on the cheek before turning away and leaving her.
“Let’s go,” he snaps, pushing past me and opening the door.
I remain frozen in place, all of us staring at Agnes in confusion.
She seems stunned herself but before I can ask questions, Tylen once again yells at me to move, the sound of his booming voice startling me.
I jump in a fright and hurriedly kiss my pup and mate goodbye once more before running out of the “Ty-Tylen!”I call out after him, Tylen marching quickly towards the pack house.
“No time,” he shouts back without looking at me as I catch up.
“We have to move.Sebastian’s troops will mobilize soon and we have to prepare the islands before they arrive.”
“What about Agnes?” He says, stopping in his tracks and looking at me.
“y-you kissed her,” I say quietly.
He huffs, walking past me.
“You kiss your mate.Why can’t I kiss mine?”
My eyes widen in shock.
“W-what?” I ask, completely blindsided by his revelation.
“You heard me,” he grumbles.
His answer does not satisfy me and I clear my throat to demand a proper explanation, when Tylen slows down and sighs tiredly.
“Agnes is not an afterthought to me,” he whispers.
“She’s all I think about.”
He turns to face me, his features strong and certain.
“I won’t hurt her.I just thought you should know that.”
He turns and walks away again, greeting his father who is busy speaking with the young Queen with a glare.
Toran pretends to not notice his son’s obvious hatred and gestures for me to step forward.
“We have a change of plans,” Toran explains.
“Her Majesty “Why not just teleport us to Ravenstone?”
Tylen mutters, Aurora flicking her wrist and opening a portal to what appears to be a private terminal.
“Every gift has its limitations,” Aurora explains.
“I can only teleport to places I have been and I do not know Ravenstone.The airport is as far as I can take you”
“And I greatly appreciate your help, your Majesty,”
Toran bows, gesturing for us to step through the portal.
“It’s been an honor to be in your presence.”
Aurora accepts the compliment with a nod, Toran stepping into the portal with his things.
Tylen and I follow after him and I take a deep breath to calm my nerves as we board our plane.
The jet resembles a small office, with luxurious leather seats gathered around a table and a l arge monitor mounted on a wall near the end of the plane.
Coffee tables and recliners are also sparsely spread around the cabin to create a sophisticated atmosphere and there is a fleet of flight attendants ready to make our trip as comfortable as possible.
We all settle down for a meeting, Toran pulling up a map of Ravenstone on the monitor.
Ravenstone and Scarlett Haven are located along the Samish Bay in Washington.
Scarlett Haven sits on a large peninsula surrounded by woods and ocean but Ravenstone is very remote, positioned across five small islands almost three miles off the coast.
There is a main island where most of the pack lives and equipment, food, and the training grounds.
In the middle of the island ring, there is an abandoned missile silo located on a fifth island and a series of underwater tunnels connect the islands to each other.
The old silo has been converted into a fortified bunker and is perfectly camouflaged on the island, buried nine stories underground with layers of concrete and steel protecting it.
To an outsider, the island appears insignificant and uninhabited but it contains an impenetrable fortress my father can’t seem to locate.
“My source tells me Sebastian has mobilized his soldiers on the eastern side of the island near the bluffs,” Toran explains, using a laser pointer to indicate Sebastian’s movements.
“However, knowing the bastard all these years, I know this is likely a distraction and he will have a smaller crew jump along these islands here,” he adds, pointing to a trail of other islands in the area.
“Until he reaches our main dock on the western front for an ambush.”
He and Tylen fall silent as they study the map intently in search for a solution to this problem.
“We are greatly outnumbered,” Tylen sighs.
“I assume we will have to utilize guerilla warfare if we want to survive.”
“Sebastian has not yet located the entrances to our tunnels so we’ll use them to our advantage to strike and slip out unseen between the islands.We’ll have teams stationed here, here and here, and the rest will remain scattered Toran stops mid sentence and studies me for a moment, his lips pressed firmly into a tight line.
“The Queen tells me you’ve been training over the last few weeks but are still figuring out your gift?” he asks, though it is not really a question.
I nod silently and he thinks for a moment.
“You and Tylen will lead a team on the bunker island and make sure Sebastain’s men don’t find the bunker entrance.Zane, due to your lack of war experience, you will follow all of Tylen’s instructions without question,” Toran says sternly.
“Zane, how much of your gift does your father understand?” Tylen asks, keeping his eyes on the map.
“M-my father doesn’t kn-know what m-my gift is,” I reply with a shrug.
“Then we’ll keep it that way,” Toran hums to himself.
“In fact, if you can avoid it, don’t make your presence known for as long as possible.It’s to our advantage that he and his men not know whose side you’re on just yet.When the time comes for you to activate your gift, they won’t be expecting it and that will give us an edge in the coming fights.”
“What weapons do you know how to use?” Tylen says.
“Any archery, riffles, explosives, gasses, spears?”
“I-I’ve practiced with s-spears,”
I mutter, feeling slightly embarrassed to not know much about war to begin with.
“But I-l’m not very good.”
Toran and Tylen exchange glances, and I fear they may be “see,” Toran sighs.
“Your father wasted a good resource in this war,” he adds with a shake of his head.
“It’s a shame, really.I imagine with you in his fleet, we would’ve stood no chance.”He says it with such conviction, I almost believe I may be worth something after all.
“But no matter,” Toran says with a small smile.
“We will work with what we have.”
“D-do we have allies?” I ask, hoping the fate of this pack is not resting solely on my shoulders.
“They will supply us with equipment and the ingredients we need to slow down Sebastian and his soldiers.”
“As you know, werewolves are all susceptible to wolfsbane and silver, but Silver and Gold wolves are more resistant to it.It takes a greater dose of wolfsbane to bring down a silver wolf, but there is, however, a much faster way to hurt us.”
I lean in closer, my ears twitching to listen.
“Have you heard of the Flame Lily?”
I shake my head at him, Tylen patiently explaining it to me.
“The root of a Flame Lily when crushed with the petals of a Moon Flower, creates a very potent elixir that can temporarily block the connection between a human and their wolf.
Essentially, their powers while under the effects of the elixir.”
“It’s taken years of trial and error to perfect the mixture,” Toran adds.
“You have to get the right proportions of each ingredient for it to work or the elixir is useless.The herbs are hard to gather but luckily, we have a supplier who can give us exactly what we need.”
“We’ll only use the elixir if needed,” Tylen adds.
“No need to let your father know all of our cards just yet.”
For the rest of the flight, Tylen and Toran strategize over the best places to plant their small teams for counter strikes and ambushes and while I offer little help, I hang on to every word they say.
“We have drones circling the entire area,” Toran says, noticing my silence.
“So we’ll have eyes on all of Sebastian’s movements once we land.My sister will meet us at the airport with a full report on her findings.With any luck, this will all be over in the morning.”
I highly doubt this will end anytime soon, but I don’t tell him that.
The flight is relatively short and we arrive in Seattle with no issues.
Upon landing, Toran and Tylen take me to a secluded runway where a helicopter is waiting for us.
A voice whispers beside my ear, startling me.
A hearty cackle follows soon after and a woman who shares similar features with Toran suddenly appears out of thin air beside
“Did I scare you?” The woman laughs, Tylen greeting her with a hug.
Toran shouts over the loud sounds of the helicopter bladed spinning, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Must you always be so childish?”
“Well Hellos are boring,” Taryn shouts back.
“But that’s the least of our worries.Come, I’ll fill you in on the way to the island.”
The woman leads us to a helicopter where we are given headsets to speak properly to each other.
Dread settles into the pit of my stomach as we take off, Seattle becoming a small dot in the distance.
This is it, Human, Grayson sighs.We’re going to war.