I pulled away from the kiss to find us both panting from lack of air. I hadn’t planned on ambushing her like that, but the second I saw her, I just needed to kiss her.
Resting my head against hers, I stared into her deep eyes, “Sorry.”
She gave me a light smile, “It’s okay.”
We stayed there for a few moments, my hands on her waist as hers rested against my chest. We just stood there looking at each other. For a moment, it was as if time had frozen still and we were just us.
My gaze wandered down to her mark and the scar lying across it. As if she could sense my anger and curiosity for what happened, she lifted her hand off my chest and placed it on the mark to cover the scar before pulling away from me and moving to sit on the edge of the bed.
“We need to talk,” she started, taking the words right out of my mouth.
“How did you get the scar?” I asked first.
“The same place I got all my scars,” she mumbled, looking anywhere but me as I took a seat next to her.
Trying to hold back my wolf from scaring her, I pulled Ellie’s hands into mine in order to get her to face me, but she kept her head down, “How?” was the only word I asked her.
“I don’t think you want to hear this, Axton.”
“I don’t think I want to either,” I said, “But I have to.”
Nodding her head a little bit, she raised her eyes to look me in the eye as she started, “When I first left, all I did was keep running. I was terrified about you coming after me to kill us,” I growled at the insinuation, but she gave me a look and kept going, “I was so focused on making sure I wasn’t being tracked, I didn’t focus on where I was going.”
She took a deep breath as if to prepare herself, like she was breaking the glass of a box that said shatter in case of emergency, “I crossed into a rogue’s territory. The moment I crossed, I was taken. He didn’t like strangers coming into the territory since he had started his plans to take down the packs. He put me in the cells where I was to wait for a hearing to decide if I was good enough to live or not. When he interrogated me, he saw my mark. He knew I was the mate of an alpha, and with his obsession to destroy the packs, he thought I could be used as leverage. He was wrong.”
“What do you mean?” I asked softly.
“He wanted to know who my mate was, which pack I had come from. But no matter what he did, I wouldn’t tell him. He spent three months torturing me to try and get me to confess, but I wouldn’t do it. Even when he… when he started kidnapping pack members.”
“What?” I almost screamed. How did I not know about other missing pack members?
“He thought if he could kidnap members from each pack, at least one of them would recognize me and know where I belonged, but none of them did. So, he killed them. Slaughtered them all right in front of me, and there was nothing I could do about it. Until I escaped,” she said, raising her hand to rub her mark again, “The scar on my mark was from the first time I refused to tell him about you. You used a silver knife coated in wolf blood. It was spelled by the warlock he had with him, so even though it was used on the mark, it wouldn’t heal without leaving a reminder.”
“Ellie-” I started to say, but she cut me off when she abruptly stood up.
“You know, that’s how I knew it was you,” she said, turning to face me with not just pain on her face but anger too.
“What do you mean?” I asked her as I stood up to stand in front of her.
“I mean that he scarred my mark, your mark. If it wasn’t truly you that night that you rejected me, then you would have felt it. You would have known how much pain I was in and you would have come,” she whispered the last part, her eyes drawing to the ground for a moment before lifting them back up to mine, “Every day I would tell myself and my wolf that you knew, that you could feel it and you were coming, but you never did. I don’t know the exact day it was, but after so long, I just accepted it. You had rejected me, and if you were coming for me, it wasn’t to save my life. It was to end it.”
Grabbing her face in my hands, I pulled us close together so she would focus solely on my words, “I swear on my life, I would never, ever hurt you. I don’t know who or how we had been separated, but I swear to you that I will find out who tried to destroy our mate bond and I will end their life for it.”
“Don’t make promises you won’t keep, Axton,” she whispered.
I lifted her head higher as I moved closer to her, “I promise.”
We had just stayed there, staring at each other. Neither one of us willing to move a muscle, until Zea knocked on the door, asking for Ellie to help her with her dress for tonight.
After Ellie left the room, I just collapsed back onto the bed.
How could I have not known? How could I not feel the pain she had been going through?
Is mate mad that we couldn’t feel her? Knox asked.
I don’t know, I told him, I think she is disappointed that we didn’t know. We should have known.
Kill him. No rogue gets to hurt my mate, Knox growled at me.
I plan on it, I tell him before changing real quick and heading downstairs to my office, linking Walker and Reid to meet me there.
“What’s going on?” Walker asks the second the both walked in.
“Ellie told me about a group of rogues who started kidnapping pack members from different packs,” I start, but Reid beats me to the punch.
“The ones who were chasing her after she had escaped them,” he said as a statement more than a question, like he knew the answer.
I give him a look of disapproval, still angry about him keeping her a secret for so many year, but I nodded my head anyways.
“Wait, so Ellie was taken by rogues, not rejected by you?” Walker asked.
“I never rejected her,” I growled out, my wolf nor I liking the insinuation.
“Yes and no,” Reid tells him, “Ellie left because of Axton, but when she was on the run, she got caught up with a group of rogues.”
“Did she tell you what they did, or who they were?” I asked him.
He shook his head, “No, when I caught up with her, she had already escaped and was on the run from them as well. That was what gave me the last straw to get her to come here. She was six months pregnant and if rogues were after her, this pack was her safest place,” he says, “I tried getting her to tell me the name of the rogues, but she wouldn’t budge. She kept telling me on the way here that she would only talk to you, but as you know, that didn’t happen.”
“Wait,” Walker spoke up, “Ellie said these rogues were kidnapping other packs members?”
I nodded my head in response, so he continued, “I remember reports about six or seven years ago about missing pack members that were never found.”
“What?” I growled, “Why didn’t I know?”
“Well, we were all deep in the search for Ellie, we weren’t exactly in the right head space to go looking for a different pack’s missing member when we were searching for our Luna. The other packs didn’t ask us for help, they just sent us the information,” Walker tells me.
“Alright, Walker dig out those reports. I want to read all of them. Reid, call up some of the alphas from seven years ago and see what they remember or if they had any clues about their missing members or the rogues that took them.”
Once the orders were given, both of them left my office.
“Daddy!” Zea screamed as she came running in after the guys left. She was bouncing up and down as she gripped my hand tightly, trying to pull me with her, “Come on.”
I got up quickly as I let her lead me to wherever it was she wanted to go, “Where are we going, sweetheart?”
“To get mommy, so we can go to the party.”
I laughed at her over eagerness, but followed her to the staircase anyway. But we didn’t head up the stairs, since Ellie was already on her way down.
Her wavy hair cascaded down her back as her blue dress hugged every curve on her body, “You look beautiful.”
She smiled as a tinge of blush touched her cheeks. I loved that even with everything that was going on with us, through everything she had been through and every lie that we had both believed for long, I could still make her blush by saying the smallest things. I could still affect her in the same way she affects me every time she walks into a room.
“Thank you, Axton.”
“Let’s go,” Zea tugged again before leaving us completely to grab her shoes.
Ellie looped her hand through my awaiting arm as we all walked out the door with Zea running ahead of us.
“How is Knox doing after I told you about the torture?” Ellie asked.
“He’s furious as I am,” I tell her.
“You both always were the overprotective type,” she commented, “I guess that’s why I never understood why you would say you wanted me and Zea dead. It never made sense.”
“Ellie, I promise you that it wasn’t me, and I’m going to prove it.”
“Well then, what’s the running theory so far?” she asks, clearly not buying the truth.
“They had to hide the mate bond, make it feel like it was broken. The only creatures able to do that are warlocks.”
“Why would a warlock care about what happens between two wolf mates?” she asks me.
“I don’t know. When I find out who the warlock was, I will ask him right before I kill him,” I growl out.
The conversation died slightly as Zea started running around us in a circle as we continued to walk.
“I’ve missed this place,” Ellie says lightly as she looks out into the trees and the park, a smile gracing her captivating features, “I’ll miss it again when we go.”
“What?” I pull her to a halt, “You aren’t going anywhere and neither is Zea. This is where you belong.”
“As much as you believe that and I want that to be true, I don’t know if that’s what fate has in mind,” she says.
“What are you talking about?” I ask her, “What aren’t you telling me?”
“I didn’t tell you everything about what happened seven years ago,” she started, “There is a different reason about why the rogues attacked Blue Moon and about why I shouldn’t stay here. The rogue-”
Her voice was cut off by a scream through the pack link as a siren from the border went off. I looked at Ellie as she picked Zea up into her arms, “Take Zea to the pack house. Make sure all the children are in the bunker and seal yourselves inside. Go,” I tell her.
She gave me a longing and determined look as she gripped my arm before saying, “Be careful, Axton, and come back.”
She let go of my arm and ran carrying Zea towards the pack house as I took off towards my warriors and the pack border.
We were under attack.