Winter Wars

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I’m almost convinced my sister doesn’t have a brain.

It was just two weeks ago she cursed out Sebastian and now she wants to go see him. Her idea, in theory, is a good one. Rich guy with resources could be useful. But when said rich guy is responsible for making you estranged from your family and is a certified psycho, he’s not to be messed with.

Jayson is with me in thinking it’s a horrible thought. Ryner is contemplating it for which I smacked him for even thinking about it. He’s not willing to risk her safety on a battlefield but will think about compromising her in close quarters. Real genius.

Marcy thinks I’m being unpractical, but she doesn’t seem to realize that she can’t risk her life on a hunch or in general and Ryner’s an idiot for even thinking about it.

“I would not underestimate your sister when it comes to Sebastian,” he said. “She is more than capable of taking him on herself.”

And it’s not like I don’t think that, I know she can take care of herself. She always has no matter the circumstances. If she wants to take a risk I can’t stop her, but I can try to convince her otherwise.

When we reach the airport, she’s threatening me. “I will go to Ethan and you know he doesn’t care if I live so he might just let me.”

I can’t argue with that, but all the same I say, “I care if you live. Ryner cares even though he’s being an idiot. Jayson almost got himself killed, again, because he cares.”

She trips one of the chairs and almost falls. She rounds on Jayson who takes a step back. A few people spare us curious glances as they hurry to their flight. Ours leaves in thirty minutes. “What?”

“He freaked out, wolfed out and destroyed everything in his way so Ryner could get you back here. Being injured as he was, he almost died from blood loss.” I join her in glaring at the boys; I honestly don’t understand their thought process, but I suppose Marcy isn’t any better. “I’d have helped, but I had my hands full.”

I don’t know what’s funnier: the fact that Ryner and Jayson look so scared or that Marcy is potentially planning their murder.

She leans stands on her toes and hit both of them upside the head. I hide my snicker as we continue walking. “You’re both idiots,” she mutters. “Don’t ever risk your life for me again.”

“Marcy,” Jayson says rubbing his head. “You can’t demand something like that and not expect us to ask the same.”

The conversation is cut short as we make our way through security. I have to walk through the metal detectors, get a pat-down, and get waved by the metal detector wand. I guess we’re not the only ones on edge about the war. They aren’t taking any chances.

Marcy makes a fuss about the pat-down and mutters threats and curses towards the offices as he pats around her baggy sweatpants. “I’m not hiding anything in there unless my virginity counts.”

The officers tells her watch it and waves her on. Jayson doesn’t move too much or cause a scene, which I am grateful for, but Ryner, although I am sure what the problem is, is stopped by the officer. He gets pat-down but has to lift his shirt. What the officer is looking for, I don’t know, but I have a pretty good guess as she just waved him on after that.

“Why was I stopped?”

“It’s cuz you’re ripped,” Marcy snicker. “She was trying to sneak a peek.”

“I do not understand,” he cocks his head to the side. “What do you mean?”

“You’re so smart and yet not,” she waves away the question. “If you really wanna know, you should ask Trina. I swear she was drooling.”

Blood rushes to my face. “I wasn’t drooling,”

“Yes you were,” she teases. “You were staring like your life depended on it.”

“I wasn’t staring, I was making an observation.”

“Sure you were,” She hands the service agent her boarding pass and skips onto the plane. She’s going to be the end of me, I think. I walk down the aisle and take my seat by the window. Marcy sits across the aisle and looks out the window. Jayson sits next to her leaving Ryner sitting next to me.

Closing the window, I lean back in my chair prepared for the six-hour flight to Sacramento, California.

“Why? Why the hell are we getting in a car to drive somewhere?”

“And you get mad at me for complaining,” Marcy stifles her yawn as she climbs into the truck bed. “You slept the whole way here, what are you upset about?”

“I don’t like sitting around for long periods of time. And the truck is hot from sitting here for six hours in the California heat.”

Marcy spreads out and smiles at the sky. “Trina, just get your ass in the truck and stop complaining.”

“It shouldn’t be this bright out,” Jayson mutters climbing into the truck be with Marcy. “It’s eight.”

“Correction: it’s five,” Marcy points out. “You guys have no sense of adaptability.”

“And you’re such a chameleon,” I grumble slamming the door. It may be painfully obvious, but I’m not a happy person when I don’t have enough sleep. True, I did sleep in the plane, but that doesn’t count since I woke up every thirty minutes because of turbulence, I was too cold, or I had a neck cramp. Not only that, I had to lean against the window since Ryner was already cramped in his seat—I didn’t want to make him feel even more claustrophobic.

The two-hour drive to the nowhere town of Downie is excruciatingly painful. Bumpy small town roads are bad, but the dirt road Ryner takes us on is even worse. I brace myself with one hand against the dash, one on the roof, and my feet against the ground and wonder where we’re going. I know if I try to talk I’ll more than likely bite my tongue.

When Ryner finally slows to a stop, my arms feel like jelly and I feel for the cowboys that got saddle sores because the seats have no type of cushion. I glance in the back to see Marcy and Jayson sprawled over one another.

Getting out I look at them. “That’s a very compromising position.”

“Oh, shut up,” Marcy mutters. “I’d move, but I can’t feel my legs.”

Jayson scoots from under her and sits up. “Ryner, you need to work on your driving.”

“My driving is fine, it is the road.”

“Someone needs to fix that,” Marcy sits up and rubs her head. “A normal person would have a concussion by how hard I hit my head.”

“How did Marcy end up on top of you?” Helping both of them out, they steady themselves on me, which isn’t a very good idea wince I’m just as wobbly as they are.

“Well, it was a bit after we hit that first ditch, Marcy went into the air for a moment and landed on me.” As soon as we’re ready to walk, Ryner leads the way down a long, paved driveway. He doesn’t seem to have had a problem with the ride.

“Bet that was a painful impact.” I say. She gives a murderous look.

“Not really,” he shrugs. “It was more surprising than anything.”

“When we hit that first ditch it sucked to high hell and I was not keen on flying again, so we had to suck it up and deal with the circumstances.” She flexes her arms, bending them and stretching. “Jeez, my arms haven’t felt this sore since I tried to work out that one time.”

“You were fourteen.” I point out. There isn’t another point in time I can remember her trying to work out. Too much effort, she would say.

“I know,” she yawns again.

“So, where are we?” I ask. “It took forever to just to get here.”

Ryner squints at the sun and grumbles something incomprehensible before shaking head and saying, “The first time Westmoor burned to the ground, your parents made the assumption that it would happen again. So to prevent a house suited for their need being unavailable, they issued construction of a new house here in this out of the way town.”

Marcy snickers. “I love how you and Jayson are like exposition dumps.”

“I… do not know if that was a compliment or an insult.”

“She means to say that you’re knowledgeable,” I explain. “She just doesn’t know how to compliment someone without making it sound like an insult.”

She wrinkles her nose. “What can I say, it’s just who I am.”

Our destination comes into view and I have to stop. If not for the hours I spent uncomfortably crammed in tight spaces, the searing heat, and the lack of an ocean view, I’d think we were still in Massachusetts. From the ground up Westmoor had been rebuilt.

“Is it the same on the inside?” Marcy wonders. “That would be kinda weird, but okay since I kinda knew how to navigate Westmoor.”

“It is, for the most part,” Jayson says. “There are a few modifications, though. Your parents figured that if Westmoor was burned down again it would be because of a war.”

“A few of the room have been… fit to cater the needs of a war base.” Ryner says. Honestly, what’s with those pauses he does? It’s a little nerve-wracking.

“If I become Alpha, would I be in charge of this?” Marcy folds her arms and gazes up at the mansion. “Would I be responsible for all of their lives and well-being? If we lost this, would it all be on my shoulders?”

Ryner and Jayson share a look. I know that Marcy was feeling vindictive before seeing how Ethan treats everyone, but maybe now she’s having second thoughts. The safety of hundreds would be her responsibility. And we were to truly go to war, thousands of soldier would be under her jurisdiction.

I know that Marcy wants to protect those who can’t fight for themselves, it’s who she’s always been, but can she handle the power and authority that comes with such a position?

A smile spreads across her face. “Well, well, I guess that just makes it all the more challenging.”

We reach the door and it flies open. Tyler launches herself on Marcy. “I’m so happy you’re not dead.”

“I’m happy I’m not dead too,” she wheezes. “That would suck.”

Tyler lets go and bounces on her feet, her nervous energy boiling over as she leads us inside. The inside is an exact replica of Westmoor. “Ethan wants to see you, but I don’t think you need to go now.”

Marcy wrinkles her nose again. “What does he want?”

“I dunno. He seems angry,” Despite the news, Tyler can’t stop smiling. “There’s also something else that happened.”

“It can wait,” Jayson and Ryner stiffen as Ethan makes his appearance. “We need to talk.”

“About what?” Marcy says avoiding the obvious and walking towards the kitchen. “My miraculous recovery or my horrid journey here? I’d be happy to talk about either.”

If looks could kill…

“Hey, Marcy,” I start. “I know you don’t want to talk to him—quite frankly I wouldn’t either—but I think you should get it over with.”

“I would be inclined to listen to Trina,” Ryner says. The look on his face suggests it wouldn’t only be wise, but lifesaving is she takes my advice.

“Why not? I got nothing to do.”

“Your arrogance aggravates me,” he growls. “Follow.”

Marcy hums quietly as we walk up the stairs. She’s planning something, I just don’t know what it is.

“Sit,” Marcy turns the chair around and sits a half smile on her face. “I cannot let you die as much as I would like to. It would do you well to listen to what I say.”

“But I don’t have to,” she points out. “Which is cool because I don’t want to.”

Ethan takes a deep breath. For someone with such a short fuse, I don’t know how he manages to have decent conversations with Marcy. “If you value your life, you will.”

She silent for a moment. “You already know how I feel about my life. My actions are proof, but there must be something else you’re upset about. You’re not quick to anger no matter how much I aggravate you. I do remember you from when I was younger. There are many things I could say to describe you. Sarcastic and cruel, yes. Irritating and ill-mannered, definitely. But short tempered isn’t one of them.”

Ethan sighs. “As much as it pains me, I must be inclined to agree. Normally I am not quick to anger.” He shifts his gaze to me and suddenly the cabinets look very interest as an idea of mine comes back to me. “Because of a request Katrina asked Ryner, he looked into finding a certain diviner. She thrives on my discomfort and so I am on edge as a result.”

“Oh, come on, Ethan,” a British woman says. “I wouldn’t say I thrive on your discomfort. I thrive on the discomfort of others.” The voice sounds like she’s coming from behind us, but when I turn no one’s there. Looking back to Ethan, a woman with bright blonde hair, an eyepatch, and a mischievous smile is leaning on Ethan’s chair.

Just as I remember her, Matrianna grins at us and says, “Hello, loves. It’s been a while hasn’t it? Fourteen years since I suppressed your memories?”

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