Family Ties - (Book 3 of the Marvelous 3 Saga)

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16 - Sorcery & Vengeance

“...mee-thee-oohss...”

“Leviosaaaa..”

“KIARA!”

“What?”

“You’re not even trying!”

“I’m sorry,” Kiara said, putting her head down and trying not to laugh. “I know this is important. I’m a science girl. I’m just having a hard time taking this... seriously...”

Rhea huffed in frustration as she readjusted herself. Both of them sat with their legs folded beneath them on the floor facing each other in Marshala’s living room. They were practicing incantations. “You wanna see serious?” Rhea asked.

Kiara looked at her curiously as Rhea closed her eyes. In seconds, the flames from the candles around them started to grow. “Whoa! Wh-...what are you doing?” Kiara asked.

“Channeling energy.”

“What the heck does that even mean?”

Rhea opened her eyes and exhaled. She looked at Kiara and all the candles around them went out at once. “We as witches are able to channel energy from nature or any element. It helps boost our power. So rather than using all of our energy to do a powerful spell, we can use the energy of elements around us to help.”

“So it’s like a magical energy drink,” Kiara said.

Rhea blinked at her and then shrugged in defeat as she rolled her eyes. “Sure, Kiara, let’s go with that.” She scooted closer to Kiara until their knees were touching. “Take my hand. We can channel energy from each other,” she said grabbing, Kiara’s hands.

Kiara watched as Rhea closed her eyes. She bit her lip nervously, not knowing what to do. “... what’s... supposed to be happening...” she asked hesitantly.

Rhea’s eyes popped open. “Woman! Close your damn eyes so you can focus!”

“Oh, right, right. Sorry,” she said quickly, closing her eyes. “Hooommm.”

Rhea’s eyes popped open again. “Kiara... what are you doing?”

“I’m trying to meditate. Hooommm.”

“Oh, sweet baby Jesus lying in a manger... Kiara, you don’t need to say anything. Just close your eyes...” Rhea said calmly. Kiara closed her eyes again and relaxed her shoulders. “Clear your mind... try to focus on the feeling of energy surging through your body… from your toes... to your fingertips... let it flow...”

Kiara felt herself getting lighter before she felt her body start to tingle. “Woah...” she breathed out excitedly. “I think... I think I’m doing something.”

“You are doing something,” Rhea said. “Open your eyes!”

Kiara opened her eyes to see all the candles that were previously blown out, ablaze with bright flames that decorated the entire living room. “HOLY MOLY!” she shrieked. “Did I do that?!”

“Yes, you did!” Rhea said, clapping her hands.

“Dude! I’m a friggin Jedi!” she said, jumping up.

Rhea immediately deflated. “Kiara...”

“I’m kidding,” Kiara smirked. “But I feel so badass! What else can we do?!”

“Well, you can do a lot more if you would learn these incantations...”

Kiara immediately lost her smile as she sat back down. “Right... okay...” She looked around at all the lit candles. “We should probably blow these out. It’s kind of a fire hazard.”

“Have at it,” Rhea smiled.

Kiara looked at her before she closed her eyes and immediately felt the warmth of the room fade away. She opened her eyes to see that all the flames were out. “AYYY!” she said, jumping up and doing the tootsie roll.

Rhea burst into laughter as she watched Kiara dance in the middle of the living room. “Alright, chill. You’ve barely scratched the surface,” Rhea smirked.

Kiara plopped back down on the floor just as Marshala walked into her house, carrying a bag of groceries. “Well, hello there, ladies!” Marshala said cheerfully as she walked around them. She glanced at all the candles around her living room. “Y’all are really out here tryin’ to burn down my house.”

Kiara and Rhea immediately started laughing. “Kiara channeled energy and actually lit them up and blew them out... all on her own,” Rhea said proudly. Kiara beamed like a 1st grader with an A on her spelling bee test.

“Did she now,” Marshala smirked as she put her bags on the table. “And what about those incantation studies?”

Kiara immediately lost her smile. She glanced over at the large ruffled notebook of incantations she was supposed to be memorizing. “Marshala... I’m a medical student. I have enough studying as is,” Kiara whined.

“Oh, hun,” Marshala chuckled as she leaned back against her couch. “Our magic can do more than any medical procedure or device you can come up with.”

Kiara looked at her curiously. “Really?”

“Yes, really. And these texts,” Marshala said, bending down to pick up the notebook. “These are extremely important because it’s the closest thing we have to our ancestors. It helps us to communicate with them. Draw energy from them.”

“I thought we drew energy from nature and the elements,” Kiara asked.

“In general, yes. Witches do draw energy from nature and the elements. But what makes us and our coven so special... is our link to our ancestors. The power that they have given us to use responsibly to help our people.”

“Power? Responsibly? I feel a Spider-Man quote coming on...” Kiara smirked.

“Please don-” Marshala started.

“With great power! Comes great responsibility!” Rhea shouted.

“And this is why we’re friends,” Kiara said, hi-fiving Rhea as Marshala groaned.

Rhea smirked. “But Marshala’s right. Connecting with our ancestors is not only vital but it’s... comforting. And so cool. You can speak with family you’ve never even met before.”

Kiara quickly looked at Marshala. “Like my parents? I can connect with my parents? Or my grandmother? Or Melissa?”

Marshala smiled. “Yes. Every single one of them. But... you have to learn this stuff first,” she said, handing the notebook back to her.

Kiara grabbed the book and looked at it with new eyes. “You guys should have started with that. I’d give anything... anything to hear my mother’s voice... just to know what she sounds like... what she looks like... do I look like her…?”

Marshala and Rhea exchanged somber glances before Marshala crouched down next to her. “You still have some ways to go, Kiara. I don’t want you to harp on this part yet. Learn to bring forth and wield your power. You need to be able to tap in before you start connecting with them... okay?”

Kiara looked up at her and nodded. “Yeah... okay...” Marshala stood up to walk to the kitchen. “Marshala?” Kiara called. Marshala turned around to face her with an inquisitive look. “Did... did something bad... happen to our people? I just... I get the feeling...”

Marshala swallowed hard as she glanced at Rhea who looked like some color had drained from her face. “... Yes, Kiara... something very... very bad happened to our people...”

Kiara took a deep breath and looked at her. “But you’re not going to tell me...”

“Not yet, Kiara... That’s news you really need to be prepared for...” Marshala said.

“I understand. You’re the Minerva of this group so I defer to your judgment,” Kiara said.

“Minerva?” Marshala said, confused.

“Don’t ask, Marshala. Just don’t,” Rhea snickered as she stood to her feet. “I promised I’d meet Levi for lunch. Kiara, let’s continue tomorrow. Same time, same place?”

“You got it,” Kiara said. She stood up as well and hugged her. She watched Rhea leave before she turned to Marshala who had used her magic to float the bags of groceries to the kitchen. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this,” Kiara said, watching in awe.

“Oh, you will. And it will make your life much easier,” Marshala smirked.

Kiara smiled with hope. “You cooking a Thanksgiving meal or something?” she said, looking over the contents as Marshala pulled them out.

“Some is for eating, some is for healing,” Marshala said, using her magic to put them in different cupboards.

“Is this one for eating or healing,” Kiara said, pointing to a strange fruit. Marshala looked back at it and squinted.

“Eh... depends,” she chuckled.

“So are you like the town’s witch doctor?”

“You could say that,” Marshala smiled. “People come to me when they need medicine, healing, and the like.”

“Can I heal people too?”

“You probably could. All witches have very special gifts. Rhea is particularly good with spells which is why she probably seems a little anal in trying to get you to learn. I tend to dabble in potions and healing.”

“Crazy...” Kiara said, thinking. “I wonder what mine is.”

“Well,” Marshala said, turning to her. “For one, my dear... you are a seer.”

Kiara squinted her eyes. “A... seer?”

“Yes, you have the ability to see into the past... and into the future. You also have the gift of premonition. It’s pretty rare.”

“Wait... I can see into the future? And the past? Well, my powers suck cause I have never been able to avoid some of the bad luck I’ve had.”

Marshala chuckled. “It doesn’t necessarily work like that, hun. You can often see the past and future of others.”

Kiara squinted as she tried to think about the visions she’s had about Melissa, Evangeline, Cole, and Rhea. “I don’t know, Marshala... that can’t be right. I’ve seen some really... really sick and twisted things. And they’ve only gotten worse and more frequent since I’ve moved here.”

Marshala frowned. “Some of your visions have probably become more apparent because of how many witches you around right now. So, that makes sense why you’re getting them more frequently. But, I’ll tell you what. Let’s set aside some time to go over these visions you’ve been having. Breaking them down will help you learn more about yourself.”

“Okay, that sounds good. Thanks, Marshala.”

~*~

“Hi, Elijah!” Kiara said, rushing through the door just as he opened it.

“Kiara,” he smiled. “How were classes?”

“Same as usual. But! Today I learned how to ‘channel my energy’,” she said, smirking at him. “I feel like a video game character who has to beat each challenge to reach the next level.”

“I’m glad you’re so enthusiastic about what you’re learning,” he smiled.

“Is Alexander home?” she asked.

Elijah let out a quick sigh as he glanced at Marshala. “He’s in his room.”

“Thanks!” Kiara said, running up the stairs.

“I can threaten Alexander as often as possible, but I can’t keep her away from him, Marshala,” Elijah said, watching Kiara run up the stairs.

“I can see that...” Marshala said, nibbling nervously on her bottom lip. “Maybe I should talk to her. I don’t want to intrude on her love affairs, but I don’t want her to be too distracted. This is a pinnacle time in her life.”

“They’re clearly drawn to each other,” Elijah said, turning to her. “...Sound familiar?”

Marshala looked at him sarcastically. “It’s not the same thing, Elijah...”

“Isn’t it?”

She slowly exhaled before she averted her gaze from him. “How’s Evangeline?”

He smirked at her avoidance and leaned back against the couch. “Better. There’s more color in her face. She actually spoke a word today.”

“Did she?” Marshala said, surprised. “What word was that?”

Elijah smiled at her. “Mellie.”

~

Kiara stood at Alexander’s door, contemplating whether she should knock or not. “He’s gonna think I’m stalking him or something...” she whispered to herself. She raised her hand to knock when she quickly shook her head and turned around.

“Kiara?”

She spun around to see Alexander standing there with the door open. He had on a clingy black T-shirt and paint on his arms. Even covered in paint and his hair a tousled mess on his head, he still made her knees weak. “Alexander!” she said embarrassed. “I was gonna knock.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“I... I don’t know...” she said, looking down nervously.

He smirked at her before he widened his door. “Come in.”

An excited smile broke out on her face as she walked into his room. She saw his easel in front of his bed with a sketch of the outline of a face. “What are you painting?” she asked.

“You’ll find out when it’s finished,” he smiled.

She looked at him with a smirk. “Okay, Mr. Mysterious.”

“How’s witchcraft 101 going?” he asked.

“It’s... a bit overwhelming,” she sighed. “But, I’m learning a lot. Today I found out that I could actually connect with my ancestors. I could even possibly talk to my mom.”

“That’s great, Kiara,” he said, giving her a sincere smile.

“I... also learned how to channel energy... You know, from nature and elements and such.”

“Well, hey, that’s pretty cool,” he said. He sat down on the bed and looked at her. “You’re learning a lot fast.”

She smiled at him before she nervously bit her lip. “Maybe... I could show you?”

He looked at her curiously. “You sure you’re ready for that?”

“Yea,” she said, sitting down on the bed in front of him. “I’m basically a pro,” she said jokingly.

He smirked amused as he stared into her eyes. He could tell she was nervous. “You don’t have to do this, Kiara,” he said softly.

“I want to,” she said, looking into his crystal clear blue eyes.

She raised her hand to his chest and gently touched him, feeling his tight pectoral muscles underneath. She bit down on her lip anxiously, wanting to jump his bones rather than channel his energy. He watched her attentively as she closed her eyes. To Alexander, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Her plump lips looked delectable and tempting as he leaned in to kiss her.

Suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his chest. He felt like all of his muscles were being harshly tightened with a screw and exploding beneath his skin. Kiara felt her body weight fluctuate drastically from extremely light to extremely heavy. Her skin tingled and she opened her eyes to see what looked like Alexander struggling to breathe before he fell over on the bed. “Alexander? ALEXANDER! OH MY GOD, ALEXANDER!” she screamed as she leaned over him, grabbing his shoulders.

Alexander’s eyes rolled up as his veins started to protrude from his skin. “MARSHALA!” she screamed.

~

Elijah and Marshala immediately ceased speaking when they heard Kiara scream. Quickly lifting Marshala into his arms, Elijah brought them upstairs outside Alexander’s room in a flash. Marshala burst through the door to see Alexander shivering on the bed with Kiara panicking as she tried to give him CPR.

“Marshala!” Kiara looked at her with tears in her eyes. “I- I don’t know what I d-did! I was just trying to sh-show him I c-could-”

“Kiara, it’s okay. Calm down,” Marshala said, coming to her side.

Elijah leaned over Alexander and grabbed his chin to look into his constricted eyes. “Alexander, can you hear me?” Elijah said sternly. Alexander nodded weakly. Elijah glanced at Marshala. “... She took his strength...”

“I DID WHAT?!” Kiara screeched.

“Dammit,” Marshala groaned.

“What did I do?! Marshala!” Kiara said, freaking out.

“Kiara, listen to me,” Marshala said, turning Kiara to face her. “I need you to do exactly what you did before... but backward.”

“WHAT?! But I don’t know what I did! I thought I was channeling his energy not- not hurting him!” Kiara panicked.

“Do you remember the feeling you had when you touched him? When you tried to channel him?” Marshala asked.

“Y-yes... I th-think,” Kiara said with tears streaking down her face. She looked at Alexander still struggling on the bed as Elijah held him against his chest.

“I need you to do it again... in reverse. It felt like pulling before, right? A pulling sensation?” Marshala said.

“Y-yes,” Kiara said.

“You need to push it out. Push it back out. Do you understand?” Marshala said firmly.

Kiara nodded apprehensively. She readjusted herself on the bed and looked down at Alexander. His veins had darkened and his face seemed hollow as if he had aged a hundred years in merely seconds. “I’m gonna fix it, Alexander. Okay? I promise I’ll... I’ll fix it,” she said as she hesitantly put her hand on his chest.

She closed her eyes tightly shut and tried to focus. The lights in the room flickered as a couple of Alexander’s things flew off the dresser. Marshala and Elijah looked at each other apprehensively before setting their eyes back on Kiara. Seconds later, Alexander gasped as he felt like his life-force was returning back to him. “Alexander!” Kiara screeched as she watched him come to.

Elijah quickly pulled him up as he struggled to breathe. “Alexander,” Elijah said, grabbing his shoulders firmly. “Look at me.” He looked at Elijah weakly as Elijah saw his pupils dilate. “...Are you alright?” Elijah asked. He nodded as he breathed heavily.

“I’m so sorry, Alexander! I’m so sorry!” Kiara sobbed.

“I-it’s okay, Kiara...” Alexander said weakly.

~

Kiara wrapped her arms around herself as she watched from the door Elijah speak calmly to Alexander.

“Kiara...” Marshala said, touching her shoulder.

“Is he going to be okay?” Kiara said with tears in her eyes. “I didn’t... I didn’t mean to hurt him, Marshala, really.”

“I know, hun,” Marshala said, squeezing her shoulder. “He’ll be okay.”

“What did I do?! Elijah said... I ‘took his strength’? I wasn’t trying to do that at all! I don’t even know how to do that or how I even did it in the first place!”

Marshala looked at her somberly. “Sometimes... pulling out energy can feel similar to pulling out strength.”

“But, that doesn’t make sense, Marshala. I did everything you and Rhea taught me. I wasn’t trying to take his strength! And it felt so... strange... I didn’t feel like myself...”

“Don’t dwell on it, Kiara. It was a simple beginner’s mistake,” Marshala said. “You should just try to comfort Alexander for now.”

“I don’t want to go anywhere near him,” she said, shaking her head as she backed up. “I don’t want to hurt him again...”

Marshala looked at her sadly before she glanced at Elijah who stood up from the bed. He approached the two of them standing at the door. “He will be okay. He just needs rest,” Elijah said. He looked at Kiara who was nibbling on her fingernails as she watched Alexander.

“Kiara?” Marshala said, trying to break her out of her trance. Kiara said nothing as she just kept her anxious brown eyes on Alexander. Marshala exchanged glances with Elijah before they both left her alone.

~

“We taught her to channel energy from nature and other elements,” Marshala sighed as she pulled on her coat. “... living...elements.” She looked at Elijah. “But Alexander is not necessarily of the living... so instead she took his strength.”

“Not only that, but she also took enough to turn him into a 98-year-old mortal on his deathbed,” Elijah said with caution.

Marshala looked at him surprised. “She took that much from him?”

Elijah nodded. “Not enough to kill him but... dangerously close...”

“She’s already much stronger than I thought. It has to be because of Melissa,” Marshala said, trying to think. “Will you be okay?” she said, looking up at him. “I can spare some time to help Alexander.”

A subtle smile crossed his lips. “If you start showing some concern for me, Marshala, I might actually think you care,” Elijah smirked.

“Elijah, don’t do that,” she sighed.

“I’m teasing you, mon coeur,” he chuckled. He grabbed her waist, pulling her against him and nuzzled the side of her face. “I know no one with a bigger heart than you.”

She smiled warmly, settling into his embrace for just a moment before she quickly backed out of his arms. “Tonight’s a full Blue Moon,” she said, checking her watch. “I need to finish these potions and get them to the pack before sundown.”

Elijah tilted his head to the side as he eyed her admiringly. “What would those stray dogs do without you...”

She rolled her eyes as he walked her to the door. “Call me if Kiara needs me. She’s still without a phone.”

“And if I need you? Will you still pick up then?” he said, leaning against the door and giving her flirtatious eyes. “I guess I could just pay you a friendly visit since I’m allowed in your home now.”

She raised her eyes to the heavens in exasperation. “Don’t make me have to move again,” she said jokingly.

He gave her a teasing grin. “I would still find you, mon coeur... and you’d still let me in...”

She gave him an unamused look. “Goodbye, Elijah,” she said flatly. She left the house, closing the door behind her.

~

Kiara put away Alexander’s paint brushes before she folded his easel and pushed it back against the wall. Alexander sat back on his bed and watched her as she frantically cleaned his room. “Kiara...” he called out to her. “Please stop cleaning my room.” She looked back at him to see him giving her a comforting smile. “I like it messy,” he teased.

She gave him a nervous smile and placed his things back down. “Okay... I’ll just... let you get some rest,” she said, walking towards his door.

“Kiara, wait,” he said before she could leave. “Don’t run away from me... come here.”

She looked at him nervously as she chewed on her fingertips. “I... I don’t want to hurt you again.”

“You won’t. Come here. Lay next to me,” he said, patting the bed. She looked at him for a moment before she approached his bed and cautiously sat down. He smirked at her distance. “Do I offend?”

“No,” she said quickly.

“Then come closer, Kiara.”

She took a quick breath before she lay down on her side next to him and stared into his forgiving blue eyes. He brought his hand to her face and softly stroked her cheek as he searched her eyes. Grabbing her chin between his finger and thumb, he leaned in. “Alexander, I’m... I’m so sorry,” she said remorsefully.

“Enough already.” He firmly pressed his lips to hers feeling her warmness invade his very being. He could feel her hesitate to open her mouth as his tongue caressed her bottom lip. “Don’t shut me out, Kiara...” he whispered against her lips. “Let me in, iubita mea...”

Kiara felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest. She had no idea what he just called her, but damn did it sound sexy as hell coming from his lips. She immediately opened her mouth for him and his tongue clung to hers like a magnet. He slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him as he intensified their kiss. Things quickly escalated as Alexander rolled on top of her, lifting his shirt up over his head. Kiara gawked at his pristine physique and could have sworn she felt some drool slip down her lip. He sat up and purposely angled his leg between her thighs, rubbing his knee against her sensitive core.

In seconds, Kiara found herself straddling Alexander’s leg like he was her lifeline. She closed her eyes and let her head fall back as a moan escaped her lips. She didn’t understand how he was getting her off with just his knee as her thighs desperately clenched around his leg. Alexander’s eyes became hooded as he looked down at Kiara slowly coming undone just from the slight movement of his leg. She was so sensitive. Each moan that escaped her lips tortured him as he tenderly caressed her thighs, just to keep his hands from ripping off any more of her clothes.

“You make this so difficult, Kiara...” he croaked. He continued moving his leg, memorizing the spots that made her jerk and intensifying his movements to give her a better sensation.

“M-make... w-wha-” she struggled to speak as she felt herself reach her climax. She quickly grabbed his pillow to stifle her moan. But it didn’t stop Alexander’s excitement from escalating. He felt her pulse quicken and her muscles contract against him. The sound of her blood rushing through her veins from the high he gave her made him harden in his pants.

He removed his leg from between her thighs and could see a wet stain through her pants. It took everything in him not to pull her pants down and clean her up with his tongue. “Sorry...” he said sheepishly.

“What?” She looked down to see the stain and wanted to die. “Oh my god, that’s so embarrassing.”

She quickly moved off of his bed when he suddenly grabbed her arm. “It’s not embarrassing when I’m the one who did it to you...” he grinned.

Kiara felt her face get hot as she nearly melted under his intense gaze. “You’re supposed to be resting,” she said meekly. He searched her eyes before he let go of her arm and sat back on the bed.

“Are you going somewhere?” he asked.

“To change,” she said, looking down at her pants. “And to get a new phone. I feel naked without one,” she chuckled.

“I can take you.”

She smiled as she shook her head. “Thank you, but I’m okay. There’s a mall in the main square. I’ll just make sure to catch the bus back. You get some rest.”

Alexander was already feeling perfectly fine but he didn’t want to stress her. He grabbed her waist and pulled her to him before he locked his lips with hers. He entangled his fingers in her hair and squeezed her tight, allowing his tongue to repossess her mouth.

Kiara felt dazed when Alexander eventually let her go. The guy sure knew how to kiss. “I’ll see you later,” she smiled at him before she left his room.

~*~

Marshala pulled up to the Volkov cabin and parked her car on the gravel. She hopped out and could hear shouting in the distance. “They must be training,” she said, walking around the house.

*SLAM*

“Shit, Levi! What the fuck?!” Denis growled, lying with his back flat on the ground.

“That’s what you get for dropping your guard,” Levi smirked.

“I was stretching!”

“Don’t be such a pussy,” Levi teased. He jutted his hand out for Denis to grab and pulled him up.

Marshala spotted Nick’s pack practicing combat. All sporting nothing but sweatpants as their shirtless bodies glistened with sweat and dirt. “You guys look like you’re in desperate need of a shower,” she said, walking up to them as they all turned to her.

“Marshala,” Leo smiled. He let go of the guy he had in a headlock. “I thought you’d be here earlier.”

“Sorry, I got tied up,” she said, searching for Nick.

“He’s in the house,” Levi said, answering her unasked question. “Did you bring it? A couple of the younger guys are a bit nervous about tonight.”

“Of course,” she said, pulling out a case from her bag. “Why nervous? You guys have endured Blue Moons before.”

“Some better than others,” Denis grumbled.

“I made these extra strong,” she said. She held up one of the small, liquid-filled vials from the case. “As long as you take it an hour before it reaches full moon, you’ll not only retain moderate control but it will ease the pain of transformation for the younger wolves. There’s no reduction in strength or speed, so I suggest you guys stay away up here, just in case.”

“Thanks, Marshala. This means a lot to us,” Gedeon said. He walked up to her and gave her a quick hug.

“Have you lost your fucking mind, Gedeon?! Get your damn hands off my woman!” Gedeon immediately put his hands up and backed off. Marshala turned to see Nick exiting the house with a black compression shirt on, his hair tousled on top of his head.

“Sorry, sir,” Gedeon said submissively.

“Nicholas...” Marshala sighed as Nick grabbed her hips and pulled her to him. “He was just thanking me.”

“I don’t care,” Nick said. He grabbed the back of her neck and kissed her ferociously.

Marshala struggled to escape his possessive hold. “Jeez, Nicholas, you smell awful,” she said, making a face.

“That’s ‘scent of wolf-man’. What, you don’t like it, baby?” Nick smirked as he reached for her ass.

“Not in the slightest,” she teased, pushing him off. She rummaged through her bag and pulled out one of the vials. “I made one for each member of your pack. Make sure they take it no sooner than one hour before the full blue moon.”

Nick sucked his teeth. “This fucking blue moon shit. That means I can’t be around you tonight.”

“I’d rather not be present while you’re going berserk, tearing things up,” she teased.

“I’d rather tear that ass up...” Nick whispered hoarsely.

“Nick! We’re standing right fucking here?!” Leo shouted as the others snickered.

Nick rolled his eyes as he grabbed Marshala’s hand. “Continue training. Levi, make sure everyone gets one,” he said, tossing Marshala’s case to his cousin.

He dragged Marshala around the corner of the house, away from prying eyes. He quickly pushed her up against the wall and attacked her lips with his. Lifting her shirt, he caressed her waist as he lowered his mouth to her neck and sucked on her flesh. “Fuck, baby, you smell so good,” he moaned. He tucked his hands into the back of her pants, squeezing her bare ass.

“I wish I could say the same for you,” she teased. She let out an abrupt gasp when he lifted her onto his waist and wrapped her legs around him. “Nicholas, we are not doing this outside,” she panted.

“You used to love it when I fucked you outside,” he smirked against her neck. “In a bed of leaves, against a tree...”

“We were on the run,” she whimpered as he hungrily massaged her breasts.

“That just added to the excitement,” he chuckled. She smirked in amusement as she lifted his face to kiss his lips when suddenly his face tensed up in her grasp.

“Nicholas? What’s wrong?”

His eyes flickered between blue and amber and a growl escaped his lips. He quickly put her down. “Lukas.”

~*~

After forcing Marshala to sneak into the house through the back and hide in his room, Nick rounded the corner of the cabin to see his pack encircling two outsiders. “Nick Volkov! My man!” a deep voice boomed. The curly-haired, tan Polynesian grinned widely as he approached Nick.

“Akamu,” Nick said, roughly embracing him with a hard pat on the back. “It’s been a while.” Nick glanced at the other curly-haired man with sharp menacing grey eyes who was grinning at him wildly. “... and I see you brought Lukas with you...”

Lukas widened his grin as he went to approach Nick. Two of the men in Nick’s pack quickly blocked him. He looked at the two of them and smirked as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. “I’m feeling a little unwelcomed here, Volkov...” Lukas’ voice was smooth like butter, but his tone was dripping with poison. “What happened to that good ol’ Volkov ‘hospitality’?”

Nick slightly grimaced before he motioned with his hands for the men to let him pass. “Forgive us for being a little wary. My pack doesn’t take kindly to unwarranted ‘visitors’...” Nick said coolly with a tinge of tension in his voice.

“Why so tense?” Akamu asked, slapping Nick heartily on the back.

“Your timing could have been better... Why are you here?” Nick said, locking eyes with Lukas.

“We need to talk, old friend,” Akamu said smoothly. “Got a minute?”

Nick glanced at Levi and Leo. He briefly nodded before walking into his home. Lukas and Akamu followed him with Levi and Leo right behind them.

~*~

Akamu remembered the first time he met Nick. Nick had just gotten the living daylights beaten out of him after his strained attempt to stand up for his younger brother. He watched as a young Nick lifted his bruised body off of the ground and charged headfirst at the guy that had just put a fist in his gut. By the time his assailants had submitted and backed down, Nick looked nearly dead. Akamu approached Nick who checked on his brother even as he staggered from his own wounds.

“That shit just ain’t right,” Akamu said, assessing Nick. “5 on 1? Pussies.”

Nick had looked at Akamu curiously and scoffed as he wiped the blood from his split lip. “Could have been 10 on 1 and I’d still have kicked their asses.”

Akamu knew right then and there that they would become good friends. Akamu and Nick trained, hunted, and often lived together before Akamu went on to become the alpha of the Tui pack. They held the strongest of bonds as Nick became Akamu’s most trusted friend. That is... until Akamu accepted Lukas into his pack.

Lukas Krow was a juggernaut. Powerful, manipulative, and extremely callous. He cared nothing for human life. To Nick, Lukas was a liability. A vagabond with psychopathic tendencies who managed to weasel his way into Akamu’s good graces. Lukas constantly contradicted Nick like it was his job. Nick wasn’t sure if it was because Lukas was jealous of his relationship with Akamu, but he was even more disappointed that Akamu allowed Lukas to come between them, as they eventually grew distant.

Yet, even as Nick went on to become alpha of the Volkov pack at a time of war and bloodshed, Akamu still found himself fighting at Nick’s side. But like all wars, countless lives were lost, leaving even the victors feeling the vast void of death. And Akamu had lost many.

Even now as Nick sat at the kitchen table staring into the seemingly friendly eyes of a long-lost friend, the pain in Akamu’s gaze ran as deep as the wound that fractured their friendship. “How’s life in New England?” Akamu asked. He sat back in the kitchen chair with a large mug of beer in his hand.

“It hasn’t changed since you were last here,” Nick said with his hands folded on the table.

“So, it’s shit,” Lukas snickered. Nick’s eyes landed on Lukas, with an unbothered expression.

“You still teach at that school?” Akamu asked, circling the rim of the mug with his finger.

“Of course,” Nick said.

“That’s unfortunate...” Akamu muttered.

“What’s unfortunate is lacking an education. That school is the pinnacle of this town and has done more for these people than you can begin to imagine,” Nick said sternly.

“Shit, take it easy, Nick. Forgot that damn school was your pride and joy,” Akamu smirked. “I meant no offense, brother. Just that... you’re better off doing something else. It seems beneath you.”

“I’m right where I should be, Akamu,” Nick said. Akamu shook his head with disappointment and leaned over the table. He glanced at Lukas who winked at him with a mischievous smirk. “You got something you need to get off your chest, Lukas?” Nick said, leaning back in his chair.

“Yea, as a matter of fact, I do,” Lukas smirked. “You still fucking with those vampires? Heard you guys are best buddies now.”

“We tolerate each other. We keep this town safe. That’s all that matters,” Nick said sternly.

“Cause of that ‘treaty’ you all consider your ‘salvation’ but really just ended up turning you into the vampires’ bitches,” Lukas snickered.

Nick scoffed condescendingly. “Same old fucking Lukas. If you wanted me to shorten your lifespan on this earth, we could have skipped the pleasantries and gone straight to me ripping your heart out of your damn chest.”

Akamu quickly put his hand up. “He’s just fucking with you, Nick,” Akamu said jokingly. “Right, Lukas?”

Lukas grinned as he leaned back in the chair. “... Course I’m fucking with you, Volkov...”

Nick exchanged a quick glance with Leo who was standing behind Lukas, looking like he was ready to rip Lukas’ head off. His eyes landed back on the two men in front of him. “Let’s cut the bullshit. Why are you here?” Nick asked sternly.

Akamu exchanged a knowing look with Lukas before he leaned forward. He folded his hands and locked eyes with Nick. “This treaty...” Akamu started.

“What about it?” Nick asked with a raised brow.

“It’s a bad fucking look, Nick. What the fuck are you even doing?” Akamu snapped.

“Not this shit again,” Nick groaned. “This is my territory, Akamu. I don’t tell you how to run your shit. You don’t tell me how to run mine. And frankly, whatever I do here is none of your goddamn business.”

“It is our business when word gets around that you’re working with those fucking bloodsuckers,” Akamu said tensely. “You turn your back on your own?! For them?!”

“I have never turned my back on my own! Did you forget who the fuck I am?!” Nick snapped.

“Oh, I remember you! At least the old you. I don’t know who the fuck you are now,” Akamu said coldly.

“You bite your damn tongue, Akamu,” Nick threatened.

“They are our enemy, Nick! How could you defend them after what they’ve done?! After what he’s done?!” Akamu snarled. He abruptly stood to his feet and Levi tensed up behind him.

Nick shook his head. “We made a deal, Akamu. I’m not explaining this to you again.”

“HE KILLED FETU!” Akamu’s voice reverberated so loudly off of the wooden walls that it echoed around the house and floated outside. Marshala listened from upstairs and sighed sadly as she leaned back against the wall. The flashes of war and death still plagued her mind.

Nick softened his glare. “Akamu... not a day goes by that I don’t regret what happened to your brother. He was my friend too,” Nick said apologetically.

“And yet you protect his murderer,” Lukas said snidely.

“Elijah can protect himself. He doesn’t need me to do that for him...” Nick said.

“Then tell your pack to back the fuck off and let us deal with him. That damn demon is ours,” Lukas said. He nodded at Akamu and they briskly headed for the door.

“So, that’s what this is?” Nick said, blocking them. “You want revenge?”

“Get out of my way, Nick,” Akamu threatened.

“I feel for you, Akamu. I really do. But this is still my territory. And no wolf other than those in my pack is allowed anywhere near those I oversee. That includes the vampires part of this treaty. Now I still consider you my friend despite our differences. But if you defy me, I’m gonna have to take you both out,” Nick warned him.

Akamu’s eyes flickered amber as he let out a loud growl. “You’re a fucking traitor, Nick! He was my brother! Fetu deserves vengeance!”

“I get it, Akamu. But he was already a loose cannon that posed a danger to us all,” Nick argued.

“He was just doing his damn job and that fucking bloodsucker killed him!” Akamu snarled.

“He was playing with people’s lives and he got himself killed! It was a fucking war, Akamu! We ALL lost someone! Fetu made his choice and paid for it with his life! Now, BACK. THE FUCK. DOWN! That’s my fucking order!” Nick barked.

Akamu glared at Nick with fiery amber eyes. His teeth bared as he growled, just barely repressing his anger. Lukas sat with a huge smirk on his face, waiting for his friend to do what they came to do. When suddenly his ears twitched from a slight noise upstairs. His nose moved slightly and Nick watched cautiously as Lukas looked up at the ceiling. “Now that’s a familiar scent... Your witch is here isn’t she?” Lukas said teasingly. “She smells sweet... Why don’t you have her come down and give us her input on all this...”

In a flash, Nick had grabbed Lukas by the neck and slammed his face down on the table. “Akamu is the only reason I haven’t snapped your fucking neck like a damn twig. I fucking dare you to mention her again,” Nick growled.

Lukas chuckled in Nick’s grip as if they were merely rough-housing. “Nick, stop,” Akamu said, shoving Nick off of Lukas.

Nick looked between the two of them angrily. “You can both get the fuck out. Now!”

Lukas grinned as he got up. “Come on,” Akamu said, nudging Lukas with his elbow. They both headed towards the door.

Nick waited for them to leave before he turned to Levi and Leo. “Watch them!” he said quickly before he ran upstairs.

~*~

“Baby, what are you doing?!” Nick said, barging into his bedroom.

Marshala jumped startled on his bed. “I’m not doing anything!” she said.

“I could hear you!”

“How can I stay quiet enough when you all have super hearing?!”

Nick slowly exhaled as he ran his hand over his face, trying to calm his anxiety. Marshala cautiously approached him. “Akamu... he wants revenge for Fetu?” she asked.

“He’s just... hurting. The bond between brothers with wolves is deep and the wounds of Fetu’s death are still fresh...” Nick paced the room thinking before he looked out the window.

“You nearly killed Elijah yourself when he put down Fetu. I was surprised to hear you defend him,” Marshala said.

Nick looked at Marshala with pure disdain. “I was not defending Elijah! Fetu was taking more lives than he was saving. He went crazy and completely lost control. He couldn’t tell friend from foe. If Elijah hadn’t taken him out, I would have... just like I had to with the others...” Nick’s words faltered as he rested his hands on the window sill, trying to control his raging emotions.

Marshala walked over to him and gently caressed his arm, feeling his muscles tense to her touch. “Nicholas...” she said, grabbing him. She turned him to face her and gently ran her palm over his chest. She looked into his eyes and could see pain and regret still lingered. “The war is over,” she said.

“The war is dormant, Shal. It never ended and it never will. At least not until we break this damn curse!” he snarled angrily.

“We will! Hey, look at me,” she said, grabbing his face. “We will, Nicholas. My people are the ones who took the brunt of it. You don’t see me freaking out,” she tried to joke.

“Not now you aren’t...” he said seriously, holding her gaze.

She sighed as she pulled her hands away from his face. “Nicholas...”

“I can still feel you cry at night, Shal... You’re holding on to too much of their pain. There’s nothing we can do about the ones we’ve lost. You need to let some of it go. It will kill you,” he pleaded.

“I can handle it,” she said sharply as she turned away from him. He eyed the back of her form as she turned away from him. From the way she trembled he knew she was already breaking down.

“Baby...” he said softly.

“Nick!” Leo came barging through Nick’s bedroom door. “Lukas,” Leo said anxiously. “He... he wants to challenge you. He wants to be Alpha.”

Nick narrowed his eyes as a vein popped on the side of his neck. “That fucking bastard,” Nick said, stalking towards the door.

“Nicholas, wait!” Marshala said, grabbing him. “What are you doing? You’re not going to accept his challenge are you?”

“I have to. Otherwise, his crazy ass is just going to keep coming back and threatening to ruin everything we’ve worked for. We’ve made too much progress to go back because of some deranged asshole,” Nick said, turning away from her again.

“Nicholas, please!” she said, grabbing him again. He looked into her eyes and could see they were completely laced with fear.

He gently grabbed her arms and pulled her into his embrace. “Shal... We’ve been receiving threats from vampires and wolves alike for this damn treaty since day one. We knew what we were getting into. Taking Lukas down will send a warning out to any others to back off.”

He gently stroked her cheek and ran his thumb over her lip before he pulled her in for a deep, passionate kiss. She clung desperately to him, not wanting to let go. “I promise I’ll come back to you...” he said against her lips.

“You better...” she said anxiously. He kissed her forehead before quickly following Leo out of the room and outside.

~*~

Nick stepped outside to see Lukas shedding his jacket as he grinned at him wildly. “Lukas! I fucking told you! You don’t need to do this! Let’s just get out of here,” Akamu said, pushing Lukas back.

“Fuck no!” Lukas said, throwing his hand off of him. “We’ve been listening to this asshole for how long? And for what?! To let our own die?! For them?! Fuck that! This town needs a new alpha that puts our kind first. Fuck the damn vampires. Fuck this stupid ass treaty. And fuck you, Volkov. We play by OUR RULES!” Lukas beat his chest as the men started to disperse around him, allowing Nick to approach him.

“You really wanna do this, Lukas?” Nick said seriously.

“No! He doesn’t!” Akamu said. “Lukas! Stop fucking around!”

“You’re not stupid, Volkov,” Lukas grinned as he rolled out his neck. “You know I’ve been wanting to kick your fucking ass for years.”

“Well, at least now he finally admits it,” Nick smirked as he pulled off his shirt. “Pretending you care about Akamu’s brother when really this is just a pride thing for you.”

“Why can’t it be both?” Lukas snarked.

“Because if you really cared about Fetu, then you would respect Akamu’s wishes not to do this,” Nick said, tossing his shirt to the side.

Lukas glanced at Akamu who gave him a frustrated look, pleading for him not to go on. “Don’t listen to him, Akamu. Volkov is about as trustworthy as the same demons he protects. He’s manipulative. He turns people against each other. Just like he did during the war.”

Nick shook his head. “You can hate me for calling a cease-and-desist with the vampires. And you’re justified in being angry with me for not allowing you near the Blackbournes. But I’m not going to apologize for saving lives. For protecting our families. Because that’s exactly what this treaty did.”

Nick looked Akamu straight in the eyes. “I’m sorry, Akamu. I am sorry that you lost your brother. I can’t imagine anyone taking Leo away from me. But Fetu was killing innocent people. He let the bloodlust take control, and he had to be stopped. If it wasn’t Elijah, it would have been me. I’m sorry it happened that way, but it did. I feel for you. I do. I know you’re hurting. But taking revenge will not solve anything. Nor will I allow you to. There’s been enough bloodshed already.”

Akamu clenched his jaw in frustration. “If you need help... dealing with the pain, we have a lot of good healing witches around here. They can help you, if you let them,” Nick offered. “I can talk to them. You know that they’ve been our allies since the beginning. Just come with me.” Nick extended his hand for Akamu to take.

Akamu looked at Nick’s hand and then looked up to search his eyes as if he were considering it. “I don’t need your fucking help...” Akamu seethed. He shoved Nick’s hand and turned the other direction. “Do what you want...” Akamu muttered to Lukas as he walked past him.

Lukas watched Akamu walk away before he directed his gaze back at Nick. “Let’s go, ‘Alpha’,” he taunted.

Nick rolled out his neck when Leo quickly approached him. “Nick,” Leo said quickly.

“Don’t worry about it, Leo. I got this,” Nick said, pushing past him.

“Nick, wait,” Leo said, running in front of him. “It’s a full Blue Moon and you haven’t taken Marshala’s potion yet. At least take that first so you have some control.”

“Fine, fine, give it to me,” Nick said, motioning with his hand. Leo pulled the small bottle out of his pocket and handed it to his brother who quickly downed it. “Get Marshala out of here. Bring her home and come right back. I don’t want her anywhere near us when this shit goes down,” Nick ordered him.

Leo nodded but hesitated to leave. “Nick...” he said apprehensively. “Please...”

Nick sucked his teeth. “Not you too, Leo. Get the fuck out of here. I’ll be done by the time you get back,” he smirked, ruffling Leo’s hair. Leo smiled warmly though anxiety still danced in his eyes. “Go, Leo... now!” Nick barked. Leo quickly took off with a prayer on his lips.

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