I raced back to the pack house as fast as I could, but by the time I got there, I knew I was too late. Again. My wolf growled in the back of my mind as I entered the house. The broken-down door and the claw marks on the wall drew me back to seven years ago. It was almost identical.
I was about to follow the marks up the stairs when a small creak stopped my movement. I looked toward the closed kitchen door as another squeak sounded from that direction. Pushing the slightly ajar door open, I took in the scene of the kitchen.
My shoes squished as I stepped onto the floor covered in water and noodles as I growled down at a dead rogue who seemed to have the skin covering his face burned and scarred.
I could smell Ellie’s scent all around the kitchen. She was always smarter on her feet when it came to attacks than any other.
I heard another light creak come from the cupboards near the sink. Bending down to the doors, I pulled the cabinets open to reveal my little girl, “Zea, it’s me,” I tell her as I pull her out past the cleaning supplies and into my arms. I hug her close as she cries gently against me, “It’s okay baby girl. You’re safe now.”
I pulled her back slightly, so she could see my face, “Sweetheart, are you okay? Are you hurt?”
She shakes her head quickly, telling me she was fine as I used my right hand to wipe away the tears that she had shed. I give her a light smile as she sniffles again, “The bad man took mommy.”
My heart broke as she said that. He had Ellie. He drew my focus to the border and used his army as a distraction, so he could kidnap my mate. That’s why they retreated instead of attacking. He didn’t need to attack the pack, he knew I would be there instead.
“Sweetheart, did he see you, when you hid under the sink?” I asked her quietly.
She shook her head again at me, “No, I wanted to help mommy, but she told me not to come out. She didn’t want me to heal her.”
I hugged my daughter closer to me as I tried to call to Ellie through the link. I could feel her mind there, but it was like she was standing in fog and my call was echoed back to me.
I was so focused on Zea and trying to call for Ellie that I almost didn’t notice Walker and Reid come bursting through the kitchen door behind me.
Neither said a word to as they surveyed the room.
It was Reid who finally broke the silence, “They took her, didn’t they?”
I didn’t reply as I didn’t have to. If I knew where Ellie was, I would have her and Zea in my arms right now. I would never have let either one of them go.
I hug Zea tighter to me as she rests her head on my shoulder.
“Can you reach her through the mate link?” Walker asks.
“No. She’s cut off from me,” I tell them, “I don’t know what is blocking-”
I stopped midsentence as Zea kept tapping on my chest with her fist. I looked down at her face as I saw fear and sadness in her eyes. Two emotions that I never wanted to see in my daughter and two that I swear I will make sure she never holds again.
She taps her fist again. so I look down at her small hand as her finders uncurl around the vile that she had been clutching. I give her a questioning look before taking the vile from her.
It’s empty except for a light purple tint to the glass. Lifting the open end up to my nose, I inhale the scent, almost gagging as I do, “Wolfsbane.”
I heard Reid curse as Walker spoke, “That explains how the got her. She would have taken down a lot more guys than just one, even if the surprised her. But if the injected her the wolfsbane-”
“I pain I felt from her,” I finished for him. When wolfsbane enters our system, its like burning burned alive from the inside out. I was trying to fight the pain, but I could still feel it in every fiber of my body, “They are using it to block her from us and from her wolf. She’s in so much pain.”
Walker put his hand on my shoulder, “We’ll get her back. She found her way home once. It’s our turn to find her and bring her home.”
“Her scent leads off to the west.”
“We tracked it to our western border, but its like the second she crossed the line, the scent vanished.”
“But the rogue we encountered at the north border were tracked going east until we lost them at the state border.”
“Their scents disappeared.”
“The witches are not only blocking our scent of Cortez or Ellie, but off every rogue in Cortez’s army.”
I slam by fist against my desk, spilling the water onto the mapping we had been studying for the last four hours. Every rogue sighting had been mapped out, every rogue hideout and every rogue territory was on this map. Ellie was here somewhere, I just had to figure out where.
“Do we not have anything new to go on? Tell me someone has a lead,” I growled out, but the room remains silent as my warriors watch me. Walker and Reid stand to the side of my desk, both giving me apologetic looks. They knew how much pain I went through the first time I lost El and now I was forced to go through it all over again. But this time was worse. I could feel her pain, “Well, no one has any leads or a way to find her!”
“I think we might be able to help with that,” the voice resonated through the silent room.
Connecting my eyes to the owner, I would have smiled if I wasn’t in such dismay, “Xander.”
He looks almost the same since the last time I saw him, almost six years ago. His brown hair was a little shorter in length, but he was still built as big as me. His eyes reflected the same color as Ellie’s. He was the one who told me to stop looking for Ellie. I was shocked when her own brother told me that, even he had given up. Turns out he was only protecting her and Zea.
Reid shuffles the warriors out before closing the door behind the last one and retaking his previous place.
He gives me a small smile as he walks further into the room with his mate at his side. When he finally reaches me, he puts his arm on my shoulder reassuringly, “We will find her.”
“Thank you for coming,” I tell him as his mate, Aurora, moves in front of him and gives me a hug.
“We will bring her home. I promise Axton,” she says before releasing me and moving back to stand next to Xander.
“Do we know the direction the rogues were heading in?” he moved to look at the map that was lying on my desk. He was an Alpha like me. He knew how to keep his emotions in check and get the job done, even if it was his sister we were looking for.
“They came from one direction and scattered to the east and west after. We can’t figure out how they got through our defenses in the first place,” I tell him.
“Have your trackers been able to find any sign of Ellie?”
Walker shakes his head at that, “The second her scent reaches the border, it disappears. Cortez has a few witches and warlocks. We think he is using them to block our tracking.”
“Makes sense,” Aurora says as she moves around the table. She was so short compared to the rest of us but her fiery red hair made her stand out like a sore thumb, “Cortez’s coven of witches are some of the cruelest I have ever seen. It took in those who were cast out of their own covens for using dark magic.”
“Ellie said that you were a witch,” I say to her.
“Sort of. I am an elementalist. I can control the elements around us,” she states.
“Were you the one who cursed Cortez?” I ask her. I knew Ellie said that she did, but I needed to make sure that it was the truth.
She looked down as Xander pulled her into his embrace, rubbing small circles down her arms as she spoke, “Years ago, Cortez attacked me in the woods. I hadn’t learned to control all of the elements yet, especially spirit. When he attacked me, I cursed his spirit into a slow death.”
Reid shook his head, “You should have made it a faster acting curse.”
Xander growled at him as Aurora gave him a dirty look, “I didn’t even mean to curse him in the first place. He’s lucky he didn’t drop dead right then and there.”
“If you’re a witch, can you track him?” Walker asks.
Aurora just shakes her head, “I’ve tried, but the witches he has are blocking him from my sight. Because I am the one who cursed him, I can track the curse itself.”
“How can you do that?” I asked, “A curse isn’t a person. I thought for tracking to work, the think you track needs to be a living thing.”
“That’s the point,” Aurora says, “The curse is attached to his soul. Think of the curse as a parasite, feeding off his spirit. It’s not exactly living but its not exactly not either. It gives off a homing beacon of sorts, I just need enough power get around his witches’ block and to tap into it.”
“I don’t understand,” Walker states.
“Listen, I can stand here all day and explain to you how magic and witch’s curses work, or I can just try the spell,” she grits out.
“Do it,” I say, “What do you need from us?”
She pulls out a jar from her bag of what looks like dirt before placing it on the table with a light smile on her face, “I have already brought it with me.”
She unscrewed the cap and dumped the contents onto the map on the desk before gesturing us to move back. I could hear her mumbling something, but it was so low not even my wolf hearing could make it out.
The wind outside began to pick up as rain plastered against the window. The lights flickered in and out as Aurora continued to mumble with her eyes closed. The dirt on the map started shifting as the weather outside grew even louder.
I let myself hope for a second as the dirt started to move again, seeming to clump as it started to head in one direction. But the hope shattered as I heard Aurora scream out and collapse onto the ground.
Xander rushed to her before she could even hit the wood floor. The wind and rain outside quieted as everyone remained silent, “Aurora, are you okay?”
She nodded her head as she stood up, much to her mate’s apprehension, “Those stupid bitches felt me. I couldn’t get past their block. I’m sorry, Axton. I’m not powerful enough to get around them by myself.”
“Who would you need then?” I asked, worry and anxiety clear in my voice. She was so close. I could feel her scream out in pain as numbness in my wrist began to take over my thoughts.
“Someone from my old coven. The best choice would be a sibling, but mine are all dead,” she tells me.
“Please, Aurora,” I beg her, “I need to find El. Whoever you need, I will get them.”
She gives me a sad look, “I’m sorry. Anyone that I could use to get around the spell, is already gone.”
We all turn to the voice that entered the room. I wasn’t all to shocked to see Michael had been listening in as he stood in the open door with Jade stood next to him. I was about to tell her to get him out of here since just being near Michael made my blood boil. Everything that went wrong with us, from El leaving seven years ago to Cortez taking her now is because of him.
But I never got a chance as Aurora moved away from Xander and approached Michael. The look she was giving him was one of awe and anger all at once. She only said one word as she stood in front of him, “Michael.”
Before he could even react, she slapped him across the face so hard that he ended up on the floor. Pulling himself back up, he stood again in front of her.
“It’s good to see you too, sis.”