I ran hard through the woods, but the Pack chasing me was closing in fast. I stumbled as I leaped a downed tree, a sudden pain in my leg causing me to lose my concentration. I rolled when I hit, losing the keys, and lost precious seconds as I had to find them and pick them up in my mouth again. I was in so much trouble; despite everything I had been taught, I was in a strange land with no protection, and everything could go bad quickly. My back left leg hurt, then my right. I pushed on.
The story Dad told me about how Vivian was attacked during the trip to Florida and force mated was up front in my thoughts as I ran like the wind. In her diary I was given when I was sixteen, I read about how she gave up hope of finding her true mate, losing her virginity to her personal guard. I knew how much she suffered, and even after marrying Dad, she lived in fear of being taken again.
I was a fool. A kid throwing a tantrum because I didn’t get my way, and I was going to pay the price. A sudden headache made my eyes narrow, I had to breathe through the pain before it went away.
"Eve! It’s Abaddon, slow down so we can escort you back to our vehicles!”
I almost stumbled when I got the mental message from the Master at Arms of my Pack.
"You’re chasing me?”
“Yes, although I sent two to get Mitch and four after that wolf who found you.” I slowed to a trot, hearing them approach. As they got closer, and I could smell their familiar scents, I relaxed again. I was happy to see them, they weren’t so happy with me. ”What in the hell do you think you’re doing out here? And why do you smell of sex and that vile human?”
“I’m sorry... I just want to go home. This was all a mistake, I’ve made so many mistakes.”
Abaddon came alongside me, turning me towards the direction they came from. ”You are all right, we’ll deal with the rest when you get home,” he said.
"Don’t hurt the wolf, he didn’t do anything,” I said. ”He just looked at me, howled and ran off. There was something about him, though. He smelled, I don’t know, it was amazing. I wish I could bottle it.”
Abaddon stopped. ”Did you look in his eyes?”
“Yes, his eyes were amazing, it was like I could see right into... oh Luna... oh shit... THAT WAS MY MATE!”
“Shit. GUYS DON’T HARM THE WOLF HE MIGHT BE HER MATE,” he thundered over the link.
“Too late,” Samsiel replied. ”He fought when we caught him, he’s alive for questioning like you asked but he isn’t going anywhere soon. I knocked him out and both his legs are broken.”
“NOOO!” I turned to run towards him, only to be tackled and held down by Abaddon. Struggling was useless, he was almost twice my size in wolf form and an experienced warrior, I wasn’t going anywhere.
"We continue back,” he told me. ”Samsiel, make a stretcher and bring him to our cars. Doc Meghan will be here in a few hours with the ambulance.”
“On it, boss. It’s going to take a few hours to get there anyway.”
I stopped struggling, and he let me stand again. Placing himself between me and where we came from, he growled until I lowered my head and started moving towards their cars again. The group of wolves with him took stations around us, alert and ready to respond to any other threats.
I had a lot of time to think as we moved back to the cars. No longer running hard, we only needed about twenty more minutes to make it back to the road that they had parked along. They verified there was no traffic, then I turned around while the men shifted and pulled clothes out to change into. One of them handed me a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, and all the men turned away as I shifted and put them on. “How much trouble am I in?”
“On a scale from one to ten, you’re at fourteen, maybe more after they find out what you’ve been up to.” Abaddon said. “Call your father and let him know you are safe.”
He handed me his phone and I dialed Dad’s number. “Dad? It’s me, I’m safe with the Knights.”
“Thank god, Eve, you had us all so worried.” I could feel his relief.
“I’m so sorry Dad, I was foolish, and I put myself and you guys in danger.” I was crying by now. “Are you all right?”
“Viper and Crash were shot but survived, Michael was hit bad but will pull through. The Knights, they lost four men in the attack.” Oh Luna.... I had no idea, I’d barely thought of what might have happened to those left behind after I was driven out of the parking lot of the clubhouse. “Don’t give them any trouble, they aren’t in the mood for it.”
“I won’t.” The guys were giving me space, I knew they could still hear me, but they were pretending not to. “Dad, I really screwed up. I think I saw my mate.”
“That’s wonderful! What’s his name? When do you see him again?”
“The Knights are bringing him, they thought he was a threat and they hurt him bad. Dad... I didn’t recognize him at first, it took a while to figure out what my reaction was since I only got a quick look and a sniff. But... I was with Mitch when he saw me, he was hugging me as I was crying. I think he smelled me, smelled us, and took off.”
“That’s not bad, you can explain that to him. I’m sure he’ll understand.”
“No...” Oh Luna, this was not a conversation I wanted to have. “He smelled US. We were, um, kind of together the night before.”
“Oh god... I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL HIM!” I heard a crash and the phone cut off. He probably threw his phone and broke it. I was pretty sure I was now over a fifteen on the scale.
I sat on the road, leaning back against the SUV, wondering how the hell my life had spun so out of control while I was having a great time. If I had only insisted on calling my Dad from Mitch’s house, I would have saved all of them a lot of time and effort. Instead, all I thought about was myself. I handed Abaddon his phone back, and instead of leaving me alone, he sat down by me. “I ruined everything, didn’t I?”
He laughed a little. “No, not everything. You haven’t mated another werewolf yet, so there’s still a chance to get through this. Mitch, not so much. If your Dad doesn’t kill him, your mate just might. Didn’t anyone ever tell you how jealous a male gets when he finds out his mate has been canoodling with someone else?”
“Canoodling? Geez, just how old are you?” He shook his head. “I didn’t go all the way, it wasn’t ‘sex’ sex. I’m still a virgin.”
“That may help, but you have an uphill climb. The bond will help, and so will the drugs Meghan gives him while he heals. Love forgives all, young one, and in that bond, you will find all the love you need.”
“Can you feel it before you actually mate?”
He nodded. “Did you know I met but never actually got to mate my true mate?” I shook my head no. “I was a Pack Warrior, I was protecting the Luna of our Pack as we visited another. I had sworn an oath to protect her with my life, above even my own happiness. I saw my true mate as the Luna went through the reception line, she was the eldest daughter of that Pack’s Beta and was underage. I was able to shake her hand, look in her eyes... I got lost. We knew what we were to each other, our wolves started to bond with that look. I couldn’t break away from my duties, and a month later she was killed when another Pack attacked them. My Alpha, he had been called there to discuss a treaty with her Pack, but he wanted too much in return and it didn’t happen.”
“And you never saw her again?”
“No.” He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “I felt her as she died, felt the pain as she was ripped apart. I blamed my Alpha, I went rogue that day. I went back to her home, found her and her family and sent them off properly.”
“You never mated again.”
He nodded. “I eventually met Gabriel in my travels, and what Luna said in his vision resonated. I couldn’t have my true mate, but I could protect the hope of our species. I took the vow, devoted my life to preparing for war and took the name Abaddon. And now, I’m back where I started. Guarding the last hope of our species is what I have vowed to do. You, Eve. You have a responsibility as well, to make our sacrifice, our lives, to make them worth something. It’s never about just you, it never has been.”
Everything was hitting me at once, I felt so small, so stupid. I needed to put on my big girl panties and quit being a spoiled teenager. I’d apologize, take my punishment and move forward. So much had been lost. I thought about them for a while as we sat quietly together. “I’m sorry about your friends. How did it happen?”
He told me of what they had found when I was taken, and the battle that happened behind me. “They died doing what they pledged to do, to keep the Promised One safe. It was a sacred pledge each of us made, a pledge I’ve lived now for over two decades. I prayed to Luna that I would live to see you break the curse on our people, and now we’re so close.”
“If I get him to forgive me and we mate,” I said.
“Yes, child. It is your destiny, just as mine was to protect you. Here you tried to run from your destiny, you rebelled and went far from where you belonged. And yet, you end up in his back yard, looking at each other from across the clearing. Luna certainly has a flair for the dramatic,” he said with a chuckle. “Come on, let’s get you into the car. I’m getting too old to be sitting on the pavement this long.”
He opened the back door for me and I slid in across the soft leather. I was glad to be alone again, it gave me time to think. I closed my eyes, working through my true feelings for Mitch. He made me feel desired, special, but did I love him, or did I love the idea of someone like him loving me? And what about my mate, my wolf was already fighting me on this, she wanted him and him only.
I couldn’t have both, and worst case I wouldn’t have either.
My life was a mess.
When I went to investigate the scent coming from near the old Pack house, I was confused. It was a wolf, and a human, but the wolf smelled female and that just couldn’t be right. Shewolves were extinct, the last ones had died almost ten years ago.
Still, I ran to the area, the scent getting stronger and my wolf getting more excited the whole way. I stopped in the treeline, looking at the couple locked in a loving embrace among the ashes of one of the homes. His scent was thick on her, her arousal on him. Underneath it all, one scent my wolf recognized.
I stared at her as she was in his embrace, my shock slowly being replaced by anger, then by revulsion. How could Luna do this to me? My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of wolves coming fast. I looked back to her, howled in warning, then took off for home.
The straight path home would let them take an angle and cut me off, so I veered away from them. These were my woods, I knew them like the back of my hand, and I’d take that advantage. I led them away, looping back in a wide arc, finding out too late they hadn’t been fooled.
The two warriors, both bigger and older, were waiting for me when I emerged from around the rock formation I had weaved through. I tried to get by, but one got his teeth in my back left leg. He held tight, causing me to hit the ground heavily as I heard the bone snap. He let go, I got up on three legs, and we started to fight. I shredded his ear, but the second wolf took out my back right leg the same way. I couldn’t stand, and when I tried to crawl away with my front legs, they gave a warning growl. I rolled on my back, exposing my neck. One of the warriors shifted, he was an older wolf, his skin covered in tattoos and scars. “SHIFT,” he said.
I complied, the change coming over me as the pained howl became an agonizing scream. The man helped me sit up, he was sizing me up as a threat. “I’m no rogue,” I said, “I’m a lone wolf. I’ve lived on this land my whole life.”
“This is North Shore Pack land, kid.”
“No shit. My Pack no longer exists.” The second wolf had shifted, and I heard two more approaching. “Now what the hell are you guys doing on my land?”
The guys who walked out of the trees towards me were not happy they had missed the fight. “We ask the questions here,” the one said as he picked up a thick branch. One of the men grabbed my hair just before the log knocked me the fuck out.