I could feel every emotion in that one kiss. All the fear and the relief and the love were overpowering in that one kiss.
I pulled away as he rested his forehead against mine. My eyes were still closed as the smile refused to leave my lips.
“I love you Ellie,” Axton whispers, making my eyes flash open to meet his as he gives me a soft smile, “I know you might not believe that yet or you still aren’t sure that I am in this a hundred percent, but I am. I love you; I’ve never stopped.”
My wolf howled in my head at the joy of hearing our mate’s words as I smiled up at him.
I don’t know why after all that’s happened I would believe him, but I knew in my heart that he wasn’t lying. I don’t know what happened between us, if it really was a warlock that had separated us or not, I just knew that I believed him. When I looked into his eyes, all I saw were the same ones that had met mine on that first night during his birthday party. All I saw was love.
“Axton, I love you too,” I told him before smashing my lips against his in a much more heated kiss that left us both breathless and smiling like too idiots.
“Daddy!” a little voice screamed. I turned around just in time to see Zea running past all the wolves and into Axton’s awaiting arms, “Are you okay? There were a bunch of bad wolves,” she rushed out as Axton rubbed her back, trying to soothe her.
“I’m fine,” he tells her, smiling at her questioning look.
“Good!” she yells excitingly.
“Luna!” Reid screams as he comes running up to us, “Ellie, we need you in the pack doctor’s office. Doc says she could use you to help some of our injured.”
“Of course,” I turn back to Axton, “Will you take her?” I ask him, nodding my head to Zea.
“I’ll take her home along with some of the other kids,” he tells me as he places one of his large hands against my cheek, “Are you sure you’re alright?”
I gave an exasperated sigh, “I told you, I’m fine. I’ll be home soon.”
Giving him one last kiss, I rushed off to help Jade.
Running into the doctor’s office, I went straight for the first patient I saw. Cuts and claw marks radiated his body as he held tightly onto a bleeding gash in his thigh. Without a second’s thought, I grabbed a suture kit and cleaned out his wounds before dressing them and giving him morphine for his pain.
Then I moved on to the next and the next. One of the best things about wolves are that we heal. Maybe not instantaneously, but we heal ten times faster than any human so most of the injured that I saw were stitched up and on their way back home before two hours even went by.
However, some of the more severe cases were still here. Those were the ones that Jade was focusing on. I walked up to her as she worked to rebreak a misaligned arm.
“Always. Grab his shoulders while I twist,” she told me as I brace his shoulders, forcing all my weight into so he wouldn’t move, “On the count of three. One.”
In one motion, she snapped his arm again.
“So much for three,” I laughed.
“Yeah well, math was never really my thing,” she smiled as she put the bone in a splint, “Hey, thanks for helping out. I know it’s probably been awhile since you’ve been back in a doctor’s office.”
“It’s fine. I actually kind of missed it.”
“Yeah, I always loved helping people, especially on nights like tonight when they really need another hand,” I tell her honestly.
“Of course, you love helping people and taking care of the pack,” she says, giving me a smirk, “That’s the Luna in you.”
I laugh as that as I take off my surgical gloves and toss them in the trash bin, “The Luna, huh. I don’t know about that,” I smile before changing the subject, “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. Why do you ask?” she said, hurriedly.
“I didn’t see you at the pack house. I figured you were out in the field during the attack,” I tell her, “I just wanted to make sure that the doctor was just as healthy as she is making her patients.”
She gives me a soft smile, “There you go again, always wanting to take care of the pack. A rogue did get close, but one of the guards got him. I’m fine.”
“Okay,” I tell her, but something just doesn’t feel right, “Jade, what was it you were trying to tell me earlier?”
“What?” she asked, taken back slightly before quickly stammering out some lie, “I wasn’t trying to tell you anything. Why- why would I even know anything. I don’t, that’s it- I don’t know anything and-”
“Jade,” I grab her shoulders before pulling her into one of the empty rooms, “What is going on?”
She bit her lip as she stared at the ground, “I don’t think I can tell you.”
“Jade, we have never lied to each other before and we aren’t going to start now. What were you going to tell me and how do you know about Zea?”
She let a deep breathe before finally looking into my eyes, “I know about Cortez the same way I know how you and Axton were separated and I know why.”
I took a step from her, “What?”
“I promise, I didn’t know until after the fact. He was keeping a promise he made to me. He was trying to protect you,” she rushed out.
“Who?” hurt that my own friend knew and didn’t tell me.
“The warlock, one of Cortez’s.”
“Michael,” I say, knowing there was only one who ever showed me kindness. The one who helped me to escape without Cortez ever knowing about Zea.
“Yes. He’s on his way here to explain everything to you, but I just needed you to know that it wasn’t Axton that night,” she pauses for a second before continuing, “But I’m not convinced the rogues were acting on anyone’s orders but Cortez’s. He planned this attack.”
I scoffed, “I figured as much. What do you know about Zea?”
“I know what she is and I know why you need to protect her,” she says.
I was about to ask her more but Reid came barging into the room, “Luna, you’re needed at the pack house for the meeting.”
“I’ll be there in a second,” I tell him.
He looks between me and Jade hesitantly before nodding, “Of course Luna.”
The second he is out of the room, I turn back to Jade.
“Promise me you won’t say a word about this to anyone,” she nods her head before I continue, “Good. I’ll deal with all of this when Michael gets here. I know Cortez, he wouldn’t attack a pack like this to get to me unless he had a few men on the inside, so watch your back,” I turned to leave before turning back to her, “And don’t think for a second we are done talking about this.”
I quickly walked out of the room and started following Reid down the hall and towards the pack house while Reid filled me in with the current information from the rogues that were now in the cells that Walker had been integrating since the attack.
“None of them are talking,” Reid began as we rounded the corner, “There were fifty-two killed during the attack and thirteen seriously injured and captured.”
There was so much I was thinking of. I thought about everything Cortez had done to me. I thought about Zea and the danger she will be put in if Cortez ever discovered the truth. I thought about all the danger I had brought into the pack by coming back here and the danger to my mate.
“How many of ours died?” I asked, pushing all my fear about Cortez and my thoughts about how Jade knows Michael to the back of my mind and focusing solely on being the Luna Axton’s mother had taught me to be.
“Three pack warriors,” he said, pausing for a second to let it sink in. Three of our members died, “About thirty-two warriors were injured in which you treated many of them with Jade. Axton’s called a meeting with us and hopefully Walker can get some information out of just one of the rogues.”
“Alright before I go into the meeting, I want to see all of the three pack warriors’ families to talk to them about their loses. Tell Axton not to wait for me in the meeting, I might be a little while. Also, send a few pack members who have had any medical training to help Jade with any of the injured. Make sure that everyone who was there during the fight has gotten checked out and cleared by Jade. Then, double the patrol on the border to watch out for a second attack. I want all borders being watched twenty-four seven,” I told him as we walked through the front door.
“I’ll make sure you get the address for the families and I’ll send Sawyer over with a few others to help Jade, and Axton has already ordered the border watch with the extra guards,” Reid said before turning to face me, “Ellie, take a breath. I know this attack is throwing you into full on Luna mode right now, but just take a second and collect your thoughts.”
I took a deep breathe in and out before answering him, “I’ll be fine. I’m going to go talk to the families,” I held up my hand to stop him from interrupting me, “And yes, I will take two guards with me, even though I know I can take care of myself. Tell Axton that I will be back soon and not to worry about me, please.”
“Of course, Ellie,” he nods and gives me a small smile before heading down the hall to Axton’s office while I turn around and go back out the door I came from.
I had spent two hours talking to the families. Many of the members were touched and thanked me for coming to talk to them personally, but all I kept thinking about was how this was my fault: How I had brought this attack onto them.
Pushing the oak door open, I squeezed silently into the room as Walker was talking to Axton, “I don’t know what else to try.”
“Not a single one of them is willing to give a name, even under torture?” Rolfe asked from the chair beside Axton’s desk as Reid paced near the window.
“There has to be at least one of them who are willing to say why they attacked us,” Reid said, “Rogues know what happens when they get close to this territory. We haven’t even seen a rogue in almost a year and now, all of a sudden, a group of them attack the pack. It doesn’t make sense unless they were after something.”
“None of them are willing to talk,” Walker says while turning his focus to Axton, “Half of them have died, not because of their injuries, but because they killed themselves. We know nothing about this attack or who is behind it.”
“That’s because they are more afraid of him then they are of us.”
Every face in the room turned to look at me, unware that I was even in the room.
“What do you mean, Ellie?” Rolfe questioned me.
“The person who attacked us, he’s not like other rogues. He doesn’t care about whose territory this is or how many other rogues would die in an attack, but the rogues will follow him because they know. They know to be afraid of him, so afraid that they would rather kill themselves then even think about turning on him.”
“How do you know so much about this rogue?” Walker asks.
“Because I know who attacked us, I know who he is and what he wants,” I said before continuing, “He’s ruthless, sadistic, and blood thirsty. He wants what was stolen from him and he is willing to risk anything and everything to get it.”
“Who is he?” Walker asks.
“And what exactly does he want?” Axton spoke up, drawing my focus to him. I could tell in his eyes that he knew the answer to his question; he just needed me to confirm it.
“His name is Cortez and what he wants is me.”
It was silent for a moment. Everyone stared at me. For a moment, just one moment, they were completely stunned into silence. But that moment couldn’t last forever.
They all exploded at the same time. A million questions being thrown out at me, but my eyes never left Axton’s. We both just sat there, looking into each other’s eyes as the three guys were going off about the danger and Cortez and the rogues.
I just watched Axton’s expression, knowing that he was putting two and two together. Everything I told him about my past, all the pain I went through. He asked me his silent question. I knew I had to answer for it all, so I gave him a small nod.
He stood up while slamming his hand onto the table, silencing all of them, “Let her talk.”
I nodded my head in a silent thanks before starting a story I thought I would never have to fully tell, the worst story of all, “I had already told Axton this, but when I first left, I accidently crossed into a rogue’s territory and was taken prisoner. While there, I was tortured into trying to reveal which pack I came from, in order to use me as leverage. The name of the rogue who controlled the territory was Cortez.”
“This is the same Cortez that attacked tonight?” Walker asked.
“Yes,” I answered him, “Seven years ago, he had started a war with his neighboring packs and he was winning. He wanted all packs to die, and would kill a pack with any means necessary. When he saw my mark, and knew I was a Luna, he started kidnapping pack members from various north American packs to try and find one who recognized me. Those who didn’t were tortured and murdered right in front of me,” I let out a shaky breath before continuing, “About three months of the torture, he brought a little girl to me. He had just beat and killed her mother in front of that little girl. He asked her if she knew who I was and when she shook her head no, he took a knife and slit her throat. She bled out in my arms.”
“How could he do that to a child?” Reid spoke, barely above a whisper as Axton walked across the room. He took my arms in his hands as he guided me to his chair behind his desk.
“We will get him, alright,” he tells me before turning to Walker, “You and Rolfe look through those old reports, maybe we can try to find him through his history and backtrack-”
I cut him as I gripped the forearm that was pressing against the table, “No, you don’t understand. I wasn’t telling you about the little girl because you didn’t fully understand who Cortez was. I told you about her because of what happened next.”
Axton gave me a weird look before Reid finally asked the question, “What happened next?”
“She came back. I brought her back.”
“You what?” Rolfe asked.
“I placed my hands over her wound, trying to stop the bleeding, when I did. It was like I was pushing my energy into her and I healed her wound.”
“Ellie, you’re a healer, a gifted wolf?” Walker asked, shocked at the news.
“Sort of,” I told them.
“I’m not finished,” I cut him off, “When Cortez saw that the little girl was healed, he took a knife and slashed it across my stomach. It healed itself. It turns out that I was much more valuable to him than just being an Alpha’s mate, I was a healer.”
“Why did Cortez need a healer?” Reid asked.
“Because he’s dying,” I stated, “He was cursed by a witch years ago. It’s a slow curse that weeds into every part of his soul, killing him slowly and painfully. He thought I could cure him, but I said no. I didn’t know how to heal him, I knew nothing about it. So, he took the little girl and ripped her heart out from her chest. He told me that for every day I said no, another child would die. He kept his promise.”
Axton placed his hand on my shoulder as he squatted down to face me, placing his forehead against mine, “I’m so sorry.”
“She would have been fourteen by now. She had her whole life ahead of her and instead she’s dead because I couldn’t heal him,” I pulled away, drawing in my emotions, “That’s why Cortez is here. He still needs a healer or he will die.”
“So, he’ll keep coming.”
“He was the one behind the attack at Blue Moon. He’s who I was running from when Reid found me. He has been chasing me for seven years. So, yes, he will keep coming,” I told them, “He will keep coming until I heal him or I’m dead.”