I ignored the pain in my shoulders as I raced through the dark woods. I could hear and smell the rogue behind me, and I was scared. I had been taught about what happens when a wolf loses its humanity, when it goes feral from loss of mate or Pack. The balance becomes unstable and the wolf takes over, and that wolf is the most dangerous thing we can face.
I pull on all the practice and training I’ve had in my eighteen years as I dodge trees and shrubs. I can feel the blood coming down my front legs and under my neck, the damage from his bite is slowing me down. He’s gaining on me.
I feel a sharp pain in my back hip, his teeth have found purchase, but a quick burst frees me from them. I dart right, losing some speed but getting back on track. My muscles scream in agony as I continue to work them, pulling the wounds apart, the blood continuing to spill.
“Duck down in three, two, one DUCK!” I drop to the ground, skidding along on the leaf litter and dirt, as a huge grey and black wolf flies over my head. There is a loud thud as he crashes into my pursuer, but I don’t stop. I get up and start to run again, painfully, trusting Kushiel to take care of the rogue. I hear the sounds of the fight, then a loud snap as a neck is broken.
I slow down as I see the others closing in on me fast. They surround me as Michael’s wolf checks me, licking at my bleeding wounds. ”Can you make it to the shed?”
I moved my body, I was stiffening up, but I could do it. “Yes if we don’t run fast.”
Michael licked my face as I got up, and the rest of the group formed a protective perimeter as we made our way back. I was glad I had worked my way back towards the start, it wasn’t a long run and soon I was inside the shed. I shifted, and immediately I screamed at the pain. “Do you need help?”
I held the door shut with one hand while I fought back the urge to scream again. “Not yet.” I pulled on my panties and carefully worked shorts up over the gashes in my left leg. My neck and right shoulder was more of a problem, I put on my bra very carefully, and held a T-shirt to my front. “I need help now,” I said.
Michael opened the door, his body filling the frame, clad only in shorts and a T-shirt. “Can I look?” I nodded, and he grabbed a flashlight from the shelf, checking the wounds carefully. I flinched as he touched the wounds, the gentle pulls sending sharp pains. “You’ll live, but you’re not going to like what I need to do to patch these up,” he said.
“I didn’t expect this to be fun. What the hell happened out there, Michael? How did a feral wolf get inside our land without us knowing about it?”
His shoulders slumped. “I don’t know, but I’m already setting a few guys onto finding out. Meanwhile, let’s get you patched up as best we can until your Dad gets here.”
Oh shit. Dad was going to flip his shit when he heard about this. “Do you have to call him? It’s four in the morning, we could tell him when he wakes up.”
“Too late,” he said. “He’s bringing the Expedition, and he’s bringing Hammer and Teri too. They should be here in a couple hours, so let’s go out to the table so I can clean these wounds.” He grabbed the first aid kit we kept here, and I walked out dreading what was to come. The kit included a bottle of rubbing alcohol, gauze pads and bandages, and it would sting like hell as he was cleaning and disinfecting the wounds.
They had laid a fleece blanket over the picnic table, and I had a rolled-up shirt for a pillow as I carefully laid myself face down. Michael gave me a couple of the pills from the kit and some water; the pills were werewolf strength painkillers that Doc Meghan had supplied. The guys brought in powerful flashlights, so Michael could see what he was doing. Over the next half hour, I must have screamed a dozen times as the deeper wounds were patched up; the pills were only so effective. He couldn’t do stitches, but there were butterfly bandages in there he used to hold the gashes closed. My wolf healing would take over, and in a day or two I’d be good as new.
I had no choice but to wait for my Dad to arrive, I couldn’t ride my motorcycle like this. I laid on my stomach as the sun started to rise. Michael covered me with another blanket and handed me a bottle of water. “I sent a couple guys had left to get some breakfast takeout from the nearest town,” he said, “But knowing your Dad, he’ll be here before they get back.” It was just after six when I heard the big SUV working its way up the driveway towards us. It had barely stopped before the doors flew open, Snake leaping down from the passenger seat and Teri from behind the driver. Michael barely stopped Dad as he was about to pull me into a hug. “Wait, she’s injured,” he said as he stood in front of me.
Snake went around him, carefully folding back the blanket. I hear his quick intake of breath as he saw my shoulder, I could hear his heart rate pick up as well. He lifted it up enough to see the bandages and the blood stains. “Are you all right, Eve?”
“I’ll be fine, Dad. I got away, Kushiel saved me.”
He just nodded, his jaw was tight, I could see he wanted to yell or beat someone up, but he was pushing it back. “I think we need to get you back home so you can heal up,” he said. “We’ll get Doctor Meghan to look at you when she gets back, it should be late today. Can you stand?”
I tried to move, but everything had stiffened up and I didn’t want to pull the scabs apart. I relaxed again, breathing through the pain. “Probably best I don’t,” I whispered. He organized the men, they rolled the edged of the blanket I had underneath me and used it to lift me off the table. Teri had the doors to the SUV open and they laid me across the seat. “Teri, can you drive my Harley back?” The bike was a little small for a guy like Hammer.
“Sure, honey. I’ll take good care of it.” She went and got my jacket, putting it on the floor. “Your phone is in the pocket if you want to play games or something,” she said.
“I don’t think I’m going to move to use it,” I said with a little smile. My arms were at my side, and it hurt to move them around, so I wasn’t going to. They closed up my doors and Dad got in, Hammer riding shotgun, four Harleys running with us as escorts. The rest of the group including Michael was going to stay here and figure out what had gone wrong and how to fix it. I hadn’t missed the rather choice words he’d had with Michael, and I knew he would have a hell of a lot more to say when Gabriel returned.
“Go ahead and sleep, baby, we’ll be home soon,” he said.
“Okay, Dad.” I closed my eyes and started to drift off to sleep. As I let myself relax, I knew one thing was for sure.
My days of running alone through the woods were over.
I stayed quiet as I watched my injured and exhausted daughter fall asleep in the back seat. My hands were gripping the steering wheel tight enough to make them white, and Hammer noticed it. “There’s nothing you can do about it except get her home safely,” he said. “She was attacked, she will need your support.”
“I know.” I looked up at the two riders in front, then in the mirrors where Teri was riding with two more Knights. “I just can’t understand how this could happen. For years we’ve been using that area for her runs, we’ve never had a hint of a problem before. Gabriel sent eight guys with her, and four more were waiting. How can she be attacked on her own land with twelve warriors around her?”
“Nothing is totally without risk, Snake. You know that. If not here, it could be out on a ride, or at the store. She’s the last one, any male wolf who randomly crosses her path could be a threat to her.” I tried to relax as he talked me down, but this part wasn’t helping. “Look, I talked to the guys when we got there. They were doing some training, Eve was practicing how to evade and escape and they were practicing tracking her. They’ve done it a lot before, and it’s one of Eve’s favorite things to do in wolf form. She loves to run, she needs it to maintain balance. You know that.”
Yes, I did.
Flashback, 18 years ago
“Come for me, Vivian.” I held onto her hips as she slammed down on top of me, taking my length as deep as she could. Her fingers were splayed on my chest, her eyes closed as she approached her peak. I had been holding back, but I couldn’t much longer. She arched her back as she slammed down one last time, a scream coming from her throat as she peaked. Her inner walls clenched at me, and I thrust up into her, sending my seed deep inside her. We didn’t move for a few seconds, I was pulsing into her and she was squeezing my length as the feelings crashed over her like a wave. When it was over, she dropped her chest down to mine as we both tried to catch our breath. “I love you,” I whispered in her ear.
“I love you, Snake, and I love this too.” She giggled a little as she tightened her core around me. We stayed that way, her in my arms, our naked bodies sliding against each other from the sweat of the hot island air. We were in the think jungle area near the center of the island, far from any trails or people. We loved these trips, them more than me; they got the freedom to run as wolves, and I hiked around and waited for them to return. When their run was over, Vivian’s wolf was always horny as hell, and we had incredible sex when she changed back to human form.
“These runs, what happens if you go too long without letting your wolf out?”
She looked up at me, pulling off my shrunken member as the fluids rushed out. I grabbed a towel and cleaned us up while she thought about it. “From a mental health standpoint, werewolves need to shift and spend time in wolf form. Go too long, and the wolf gets restless. The longer you go, the greater the chance the wolf takes over instead of it being a voluntary change. That is why the Packs insist on running together, on shifting often. It protects us from the wolf showing up when humans may see us, and it helps bind the Pack together.”
I thought about it, but she only had two other wolves here. “Don’t wolves need a Pack as well?”
“Yes, wolves are social animals, we need the time together, again so the wolf is stable. Wolves in the wild don’t last long if they are alone, they quickly join or form other Packs instead. With werewolves, it is worse because if you don’t have a Pack, the wolf becomes more and more desperate and unstable. Eventually, and this might take years, it could take over and the human side is pushed aside altogether. Very dangerous that way.”
We’d been here for years already. “So why are you guys all right without a Pack?”
“We are a pack, silly. It’s not a classic one, but we are bound together, I’m their Alpha. It’s enough. When their child is born, it will be part of our Pack unless we find a larger one to join. Never keep a wolf away from a Pack, Snake.” She snuggled into my side and we quickly fell asleep.
Eve had been a part of the Knights of the Moon since her birth, and Gabriel was her Alpha. It was a weird arrangement we had. She had three father figures in her life. Me, because she was my daughter by adoption; Viper, because she was raised with Andrew as a sibling, and Gabriel because he was Alpha to her wolf. I accepted the arrangement back when she was born because I knew I couldn’t protect her from other werewolves, and I had my own issues to work through.
Vivian’s attack at the bar on our Florida trip was evidence of that. I didn’t have the nose to sniff out who was human and who was werewolf, so I wouldn’t know when she was in danger. Having Gabriel’s pack close by, using our Clubhouse, patrolling the area and escorting her constantly, that was the price I had to pay to keep her safe.
In a few months she would turn eighteen, and then the real danger began. Gabriel and I had been talking for years about this time coming up. She needed to fulfill her destiny, find and mate with her true mate and start the recovery of her species.
As a father, I hated the idea of her almost instantly becoming more than married, not to mention being pregnant the next spring. I knew it was their way, but a part of me wanted to see her fall in love, take her time, start a family without all the pressure that had been on her since birth. She never got to date, never attended a dance, she didn’t get the experiences her teen friends had. She had to remain pure, remaining ready to take her place alongside her fated mate.
It hadn’t been easy, either. There had been dozens of fights along the way, little rebellions as she pushed back against the box we had placed her in. Gabriel had taught her everything he could about mates, but with no examples she could see, it was difficult for her to accept. Most shewolves grew up in the Packs, they saw their families, their sisters, their friends being mated and they understood. Eve wasn’t happy with the whole thing, and she was vocal at times about how they wanted to “auction her off like a brood mare” when they pushed.
“I don’t know how I’m going to let her go, Hammer. Gabriel is going to take her to the Alpha Gathering and have the men file past, each hoping she is her mate. She’s expected to go with him, to start a family. I’m going to lose her, brother.”
“You won’t lose her, she loves you too much to shut you out. She is growing up, and you can’t hold on forever. The tighter you hold the leash, the more she pulls.”
“I just want her to be happy. Gabriel says that she will be, I hope to hell he’s right.”
“Carson and Jessica were happy together, and they were choice mates. It works different for them, but a true mate for her will be amazing. I know you’re nervous about it, but it will happen and you have to support her.”
“Easy for you to say, Meghan didn’t even date much and still shows little interest in guys.”
“Yeah, well… she may be thirty, but she’s still my little girl.”
“You haven’t gone through this with a daughter, Hammer. It’s not the same as your boys.” Connor and Cash were both off and married now, Connor lived in Florida with his wife and two children, Cash was a Marine stationed in Hawaii with his wife.
We passed the rest of the trip in silence, arriving back at the clubhouse just before eight. We carefully lifted a sleeping Eve in her blanket, carrying her inside and up to her room. I kissed her forehead as I covered her up, thinking about the talk we needed to have. The one I needed Gabriel here for.