Maxim laughed seeing my priceless reaction. Though I knew I was a hybrid, it never occurred to me that I would need to shift into a wolf form. Nor that I would have the amount of power he was implying. “Don’t worry. For your first shift, I’ll be there.” I was still highly concerned. “It may be painful for you, especially since you’re a different, but I’ll be next to you every step of the way.”
“Lovely,” I said, sarcastically.
Veronica poked her head in. “I’m sorry to interrupt. We’re going to resume the meeting.”
We both looked to her nodding our heads. “Sure, we’ll be right there.” I looked back to my uncle. There were still so many questions swirling around in my mind. Right then, wasn’t the best time to grill him.
Heading back toward the office, I took notice of the serious size difference between the two of us. I had never really seen a wolf in the flesh, so I assume wolves appeared larger than normal humans. Maybe I’d grow larger when I shifted, which was not something I was looking forward to.
Everyone was already assembled.
Silas looked like a true leader as he stood in front of his desk, arms crossed over his chest. “We’ll pick up where we left off.” Taking my place next to him, I shot him a smile. “We’ve been brought together by Marnie, and as I’ve told her, and I will tell all of you, the vampire council has officially declared war on Micheal Blackmore.”
Maxim and Maddox both smirked. I couldn’t help but snort slightly at their faces. They were so satisfied that it was amusing.
“So, what’s the plan then?” Maddox asked. Silas hesitated for a moment, and he continued. “Your Majesty, with all due respect, we need a plan—and a damn good one if we want to defeat Blackmore. We are just a few wolves he had imprisoned. The only reason we never wore those shock collars was because he knew we wouldn’t do anything. Once he wiped out our pack, we lost ourselves in our quest to live. Now, I don’t know about you, but I want to take this fucker down permanently.”
Zander chuckled next to me. “You seemed to be pretty well taken care of.”
A loud growl ripped through the room. “Well, we weren’t. Punishment was a daily part of life,” Blaze retorted.
Silas put his hand up to quell the two of them. “All right, that’s enough. No one is discounting what happened to you, gentlemen. But right now, none of that matters. We have to work as a team.” Zander scoffed at his statement. “Shut up, brother.”
“If I may, Your Majesty,” Maxim piped up. “I know more about Blackmore’s forces.”
“I trained those wolves. But they are bred to fight to the death, no matter what. They will always follow their master’s order. Though I was their commander, Blackmore gave final say. The few that we encountered made up a very small fraction of those that could be called upon.”
“All of that is good information—“
“One more thing,” Maxim continued. “Those wolves have no pack. They were found as rogues and remained that way behavior wise. He uses the shock collars as his insurance policy so they won’t rebel against him, treating them cruelly with the promise of freedom.”
“What sort of numbers are we talking about?” Silas inquired.
Taking a moment, he pondered. “I would say numbers ranging from five thousand to seven thousand.”
“How the hell are we supposed to fight against that?” I cried out.
“It’s impossible,” Veronica commented.
Silas was silent for a few moments, thinking. “Are there more wolf packs in the neighboring regions?”
The wolves exchanged looks, shrugging their shoulders. “We’re not sure. We’ve been in that damned place for so long—“
“Yes, there are,” Maxim interrupted. Everyone turned to him. “I know for a fact that my brother, Marnie’s father, started a pack several years before he died. It’s possible they continued after his death.”
“How many members, to your knowledge?”
“As far as I’m aware, there are at least one thousand wolves who’d fight for us.”
Maddox and Jax exchanged looks. “We could see if our cousin is still around. Although, it is possible that he kept our pack going, even though most of it was destroyed.”
Silas nodded, liking this turn of events. “It’s a start. Gentlemen, go find our allies.”
They all parted ways, and I zoomed off toward Zander’s room to see Alina. I was excited to see my friend hoping she was all right. But, I knew it would take her time to recover from her ordeal.
Going into the room, she was completely nestled under the comforter, sleeping peacefully. Not wanting to wake her, I simply observed. She had bruising around her eyes and scratches on her face. I dreaded the thought of when Zander would find out that she was violated.
Feeling a presence behind me, I turned and Zander stepped up next to me. “How badly is she hurt?”
“The bruising is extensive on her arms, and legs. She has a couple broken fingers, maybe a cracked rib. Her wrists are severely irritated from the manacles she was in. Appears to me that she tried to fight her way out. Hence, bruising on her sternum. One other place I found bruising was between her legs.” He shifted his body to face me, arms crossed across his chest, and I froze. “Want to tell me what happened?”
Sighing deeply, I paused for a moment, unsure of how to proceed without angering him. “I don’t think now is the time for this, Zander. You have a responsibility to help her in this time.”
“Don’t dodge the question, Marnie.” He was beginning to get agitated. “What happened to her?” Enunciating every word, a chill went through my body.
“Please don’t make me—“
The door opened behind us, much to my delight. “Marnie, I need you,” Silas whispered.
Without hesitating, I entered the hallway, taking a deep breath. “You came just in time.”
“I know,” he replied. “What does he want to know exactly?”
“He wants to know what happened to Alina.” My lip quivered, barely able to utter the words.
Embracing me tightly, he soothingly rubbed my back. “Shh, you don’t have to speak of it. The important thing is you’re both home now.”
We heard someone approach, and we saw Maxim walking toward us. “Your Majesty. Marnie.”
“What can we do for you?”
Rubbing the back of his neck uncomfortably, his cheeks were pink seeing us act like couple. “Well, it has to do with Marnie’s shift.” I grew nervous, not wanting to go through with it. “Seeing as how war is imminent, we may need to expedite her shift.”
The two of us were puzzled by his statement. “How exactly does one expedite a shift?” Silas inquired, mildly irritated.
“Seeing as how the full moon is in a couple days, she will need to be outside with me and the rest of the wolves. Our shifts will help her get to her own.” Maxim had such a pleased expression on his face. I could understand that. His only niece was going to finally become a wolf. “There’s one more thing,” he continued. “You will need to drink some of my blood.”
Silas pushed me behind him, growling. “No fucking way.”
“I assure you, it’s not because I want her to. The blood of her kin will help.” Maxim bowed to Silas in reverence. “I mean no disrespect. But, she is my niece and I want her to become who she is meant to.”
Moving to stand in front of Maxim, I defended my uncle. “Take it easy, Silas. He’s my blood, and if he says it will help, then it is what has to be done.”
Silas wasn’t sure what to believe. “What exactly will she become?”
“I don’t know. She’s the first vampire-wolf hybrid since long ago,” Maxim responded.
My eyes widened at him. “Are you joking?” I asked, dumbfounded.
“Afraid not. The original hybrids were wiped out centuries before the first set of wars broke out. As far as anyone knows, no others have been found.”
Standing there in shock, I wasn’t sure how to react. Was it good that I was the only hybrid in existence, or should I be concerned? Surely, there were other people like Micheal Blackmore who wanted to exterminate those who were different.
Alina had been asleep since she was brought back here. As I watched her chest rise and fall, I could only wonder what happened to her while she was prisoner in Blackmore’s keep. Marnie avoided the question, and I was too afraid of the truth. I didn’t want to have to murder those wolves who were stinking up my house.
“Zander?” a sleepy voice asked.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, I smiled at her. “You’re awake.” She started sitting up slowly. “Hey, maybe you should lie down. You’re pretty banged up.”
She chuckled at me. “Don’t worry. I’m fine.” Her face kept contorting in pain, and she winced with every move made.
“You aren’t fine, Alina,” I said. “Lay back down.”
She shook her head defiantly. “I don’t want to sleep anymore. I keep having bad dreams.”
I felt terrible, and deathly afraid of what happened to her. I wasn’t going to ask, at least not at the moment. What she was feeling was still fresh, and I didn’t want to rub salt in the wound. She refused to look me in the eye, just like when she first came to me. “Look at me, Alina.”
Her lip quivered, and tears welled up in her eyes. “I can’t,” she sobbed.
Sliding on the bed close to her, I wrapped my arm around her shoulders, pulling her body flush to me. Putting her head on my shoulder, I could feel the sobs racking through her little body. “When you’re ready.”
“He hurt me,” she sputtered.
“Who did, sweetheart?”
Anger boiled in me, but I swallowed it, not wanting to scare her. “Stay here, love. I’ll be right back.”
Storming up to the closest wolf, I threw him into the wall, baring my fangs. The others started to close in on me, then Silas and Marnie walked in. Veronica was about to pull me off when Marnie tossed me into the furthest wall.
“What the fuck are you doing?” she seethed.
My rage was uncontrollable. Charging at Marnie, Silas stepped in front, pushing me back again. “Explain yourself, immediately,” he boomed.
“Which one of these fucks violated my woman?!” I screamed.
Maddox spoke first, putting his hands up in defense. “None of us. I swear to you that no one here touched your woman. In fact, Marnie attacked the one who did.”
“Is he dead?” I gnarled.
The wolves all exchanged glances, communicating via their telepathic link. Maddox answered again, “He was killed, by Marnie in fact, as we were fighting our way out.”
Marnie took a step forward, hands up. “He’s telling the truth. There was no way I was going to let that stand.”
Relaxing slightly, I glared at the wolves, who banded closer to one another. Growling, I pushed my way through Marnie and Silas.
Chasing after me, Marnie jumped in front. “Do not—I repeat—do not make Alina suffer through this again.”
Staring hard at her, she meant business from her tone of voice. “I would never. I love her,” I confessed.
“Then be with her,” she said, softly.
Dashing back to my room, Alina was still resting. Though she was scared, she managed to fall asleep again. Covering her back up, I slid in next to her, making myself comfortable.
My poor Alina.