Chapter 3: The Lake
It was pretty quiet the rest of the way to the lake. When we pulled in to the parking lot at the boat ramp, Curtis Goodwin was just parking his truck after putting the speedboat in the water. They parked and got their stuff out of the back and headed down to the boat. When we got there, Carol’s older brother David was pulling away in the big Lund fishing boat with Curtis and Olivia’s older brother Nathan. Carol got the boat fired up while I changed into a wetsuit, I would be the first to ski this afternoon.
We headed out into the open water of the main lake on a beautiful fall day. The wind wasn’t bad, just enough to leave a light chop on the water. The sun wasn’t that strong and the water was cooling into the high 50’s, but I didn’t care. The lake was almost empty and I was going to ski.
Once I was ready, Carol stopped the boat and I jumped in the water. I floated on my back, feet forward and ski tips up, while she slowly moved the boat away and took out the slack in the towline. When taught, she waited for my thumbs up before gunning the engine. The twenty-foot speedboat roared to life, pulling me forward as I leaned back against the rope. I popped out of the water and immediately cut left to pick up speed.
The next forty minutes went by like a blur. It didn’t take long for me to get comfortable, and soon I was jumping the wake and spinning a full 360. It took a few tries and a few wipeouts, but eventually I was able to land a back flip to the cheers of my friends.
After one last wipeout, I yelled to Carol I was done. I took off the skis as they came alongside me and handed them to Olivia, who was already dressed out and ready. I climbed up the ladder in back as she got ready to go; I barely had time to get out of the wetsuit and get a towel around me before Carol gunned it again. Olivia could ski, but she wasn’t near my level and didn’t last as long. Twenty minutes later, she was done and we were picking her up.
“Your turn,” I asked Carol.
“Nah, I’m more here for the sun than the water.” She pointed at a small island about a half mile away. “There’s a small beach there, how about we pull up and catch some sun while we eat what is in the cooler?”
“Oh yeah, I could use a break,” said Olivia, still working her way out of the wetsuit. Carol made sure the skis and equipment were stowed before heading over to the island.
“Dad, what’s going on? How are the talks coming along?”
I could feel his frustration through the link. “Slow, honey. They are very interested in you, despite me warning them off. They are pushing an arranged mating as a way of cementing a relationship with their Packs.”
I started to growl in my chest. “You told them to pack sand, right?”
“Yes, and I’m starting to get worried they won’t take no for an answer. Are you all right?”
“Yep, it’s just me and my two friends out here, we’re taking a break from skiing and we’re going to a beach on a small island. We’ll be heading back in a couple hours.”
“All right, keep your guard up and have fun. Love you.” I felt the link shut down while I thought about what he has said. I could think of a couple of the boys who would want me as their mate, I could feel them sizing me up as we were introduced. I’d just have to stick with my girls.
We got to the island, it was less than fifty yards across with tall trees in the middle. Carol raised the motor and let the momentum carry us up to the sand, and Olivia jumped off the front and ran forward to tie the boat off to a tree. I helped Carol with the blankets and cooler, then went off to scavenge dry wood for a fire. By the time I got back with an armful of dead branches, they had the blanket set up and a buffet on top of the big cooler.
I got the fire started quickly, warming us all up after the cold water, and Carol handed me a Solo cup with a greenish liquid in it. “Diet Slice and vodka,” she said. “No one even knows it has alcohol.”
I gave it a taste, it was pretty good. Booze metabolized pretty quickly in a werewolf, so we weren’t going to get drunk, but if we drank fast enough we could get a little buzzed. I took a long drink, then grabbed a handful of Oreos from the package on the cooler. “Thanks for this girls, I’m so glad we’re not stuck with the boys back at the Pack House. I was starting to feel like the meat on display at the market.”
“They aren’t THAT bad,” said Carol. “My brother isn’t that bad. He just comes off a little strong sometimes. I think he’s trying to show he’s just as tough as his older brothers.”
“Overprotective older brothers at that,” Olivia said. “I wish they’d just find their mates, then maybe they’d leave me alone.”
Carol nodded. “Yeah, you’re lucky. You don’t have older brothers watching over you your whole life.” She looked around. “I’m sure if you wanted some company, you’d find someone willing.”
“Yeah, I think not.” I laid back on the blanket, letting the sun warm my skin. “I don’t want to deal with a possessive, horny male.” I relaxed into the blanket, suddenly feeling tired. More tired than I should be. My wolf raised the alarm first, she could feel her power being sucked away.
I’d been poisoned.
“Dad, something’s wrong. I’m getting weaker by the minute, my wolf thinks I’ve been poisoned.”
“SHIT! We’re leaving now, can you get somewhere safe?”
“I’m not sure. I’m trying not to let on, I think Carol slipped something into my drink. I can’t feel my fingers or toes.”
I opened my eyes, Carol was standing over me. “I’m sorry it has to be this way, Ella.”
“What the hell did you do to me?” I was furious, but mostly scared. My friend was setting me up, and whatever plan she had wasn’t good.
“Just a little muscle relaxant. We don’t want you running off, or doing something stupid. You are too selfish to see things clearly, Ella. Get your head out of the clouds and quit chasing fairy tales. You need to think of more than just yourself, think of your Pack. This is good for them.”
Olivia came up behind us. “Did you really think that an unmated Alpha heiress could travel outside her territory without consequence? Hell, if I was worth everything David gave up, I can only imagine what you are worth. Not just Alpha blood, but the chance for a male to become Alpha of a Pack? You went to the highest bidder. With all the money your family is worth, he had to promise the others a nice cut to get them to cooperate. He’s been waiting for months for this chance, and you are stupid enough to walk right into the trap.”
Carol kneeled next to me. “Several Alphas wanted you for their sons. You got lucky, if you ask me. He’ll be a good Alpha for your Pack and a good mate for you. Your parents are being informed now, they can’t stop it. They will just have to accept it, accept that it is the best thing for you and them.”
I heard footsteps approaching, our three fishermen were coming, their scents on the air. They must have landed on the other side of the island.
“Dad, David, Curtis and Nathan are here. They were waiting for us. They have been planning this for a long time, the girls are in on it along with their families. They’ve auctioned off rights to me, they’re going to force mate me to one of the sons.”
Dad didn’t respond, but Mom did. “We can’t let that happen. They aren’t letting us leave, we’re trying to fight our way out. Get out of there, get somewhere safe. I love you baby.” She cut the link.
I sat up, I was dizzy and I knew I didn’t have much time. I swept Carol’s leg, knocking her on her butt as I jumped to my feet. I kicked her in the ribs, causing her to cry out in pain and roll on the ground. I ran past her the best I could, heading for the boat. I was too slow, and before I left the sand I was tripped up by Olivia. I couldn’t catch my balance, it was like my legs and arms were many times heavier than normal. I faceplanted in the shallow water just off the beach. I tried to get up, but Carol jumped on my back.
I was trying to roll her off me when it felt like my chest was being ripped in two. My wolf howled out in pain, and I couldn’t breathe for a few moments. I reached out for my father, but there wasn’t anything there anymore. The link was gone.
My Dad was dead.
I screamed in pain and anger, now desperate to get away. I twisted my upper body, aiming my elbow at Carol’s face. There was a satisfying crunch as I knocked out a few teeth. She fell unconscious at my side.
I put my hands down and tried to push myself upright again, but things just weren’t working. The poison was moving faster through my system now, and I struggled to get to my hands and knees. I crawled into the water, reaching up for the rail of the boat and coming up short.
Olivia grabbed my left ankle and started to pull me back, dropping my face back into the water. I tried to kick myself free, but the motions were weak and ineffective. I pushed myself up to take a breath, but was immediately pulled back down as my arms could no longer support me.
My face was scraping against the sand when the second bond broke. My mother. “MOM!” I screamed through the bond, but it was gone too. My wolf howled her loss in my head, the pain ripping through my soul once more. I felt the Alpha power of my parents flow into me, I cried as it happened, not wanting to believe they were both gone and I was now leader of my Pack.
The headache I had was incredibly painful. My eyes were squeezed tightly closed and my teeth were clenched. My wolf was trying to push forward, she wanted blood. My teeth started to shift and some fur started to emerge, but the drugs were stronger. My wolf gave up, panting in exhaustion as she whined in grief.
I didn’t have the strength to scream any more, the tears were coming fast. I closed my eyes as Olivia dropped my leg and the boys surrounded me.
I was rolled over onto my back and taken into a pair of strong arms that lifted me out of the water. I looked up to verify what my wolf already knew. It was David. David Tanner.
He held me to his broad chest and walked back to the blanket with me as tears ran down my face. The drug had almost paralyzed me by now, I could no longer move my arms or legs and I was losing feeling. I reached into my mind for my wolf, but she couldn’t do anything. We were helpless and alone.
He set me down and Curtis and Nathan each took an arm to hold me in a sitting position. David kneeled in front of me between my limp legs. “Just relax, Ella, it will be over in a moment. Eventually you’ll realize this was all for the best.” His canines started to elongate as he leaned forward.
“Don’t do this,” I said. “I’ll never forgive you; I’ll kill you for this.”
He laughed. “The bond forgives all sin, my Ella. Your wolf won’t let you hurt your mate.”
I did the only thing I could; I spit in his face. His face changed, he was angry and backhanded me. The blow was strong enough that I could feel the cheekbone breaking. “You will learn, little Ella, to respect those above you.”
I looked back at him defiantly. “If you were so fucking strong, you wouldn’t have needed your sister to drug me. Pussy.”
He slapped the other side of my cheek hard. I spit out the blood from my mouth on his chest.
“I’m looking forward to having you in my bed, my little spitfire. The spirited horses are the most fun to ride.” I felt Carol come up behind me and put her hand over my mouth. David fully shifted his teeth and jaws, snapping them in front of my face before lunging forward. He bit down on the juncture where my neck met my shoulder on the right side. I screamed in pain, the bite burned from within as he placed his claim on me.
Blackness took me and I sagged to the ground.