Serendipity didn’t know what she expected to find out, but she was surprised to learn that werewolves were very human in a way. She had drilled Dominic all night long with questions. Some of them were about dumb things and other inquires were about serious topics that only days ago she never would have dared to ask him. He returned the favor by feeding his curiosity and she was honest with him about anything she was asked. Eventually, after another round of food service for Dominic, she had drifted off in his bed beside him as he told her stories from his youth.
She had learned so much about the flesh and blood man that lived in the shadow of the monster everyone made him out to be. He liked steak, cooked rare. She swore that Dominic wouldn’t know what a vegetable was if a whole plate full of them smacked him in the face! His favorite color was blue and when she had asked what shade, he had cited her eyes as an example. She had blushed then, burying her face into the covers to hide her embarrassment. They talked about their hobbies, their likes, and dislikes, and even what their favorite movies had been before the war. The entire conversation had felt so normal. It had made her feel human.
Then she had opened her mouth and ruined it by asking about his family. He had responded by asking about hers. They studied each other, gauging the response of the other, before agreeing upon saving that particular conversation for another day. Serendipity was just glad she wasn’t the only one hung up over dead people. She didn’t know what was going to happen when they eventually got around to talking about it, and they would get around to it. It was only a matter of time. Still, just thinking that the sweet and kind Dominic she had gotten to know could kill her brother wasn’t even a thought she wanted to entertain. So she didn’t.
She hadn’t meant to fall asleep in his bed, but she couldn’t say she wasn’t disappointed that Dominic wasn’t snuggled up to her when she woke up. Instead, dozens of fresh-cut roses and a note explaining an emergency had pulled him away was what awaited her.
There is nothing in the world that I want more than to spend the rest of my mornings on Earth watching you sleep curled up in our bed, especially since you’re there willingly this time. Unfortunately, there is something that I must take care of. I should be back before nightfall.
If you feel you must leave the comfort of our room, you may roam the manor as you please. Do not leave sight of the guards you have been assigned.
I left my heart for you to safeguard until I return.
“Rise and shine! I want to hear all about how the nasty between you and Dominic was, and don’t leave out a single detail!”
Serendipity rolled her eyes and dropped the note lovingly on the bedside table as Emily walked in with a giant smile on her face. The oldest triplet had been slowly warming up to her and it made her happy that the older girl was comfortable enough to joke and make light of the situation, even if it was at her expense.
Emily took one look at her and snorted. “I knew it! You’re still wearing yesterday’s outfit which either means you didn’t have sex or it was bad enough for you to get up and clothe yourself afterward, and since I don’t think the Alpha Prince is allowed to be anything other than perfect, I’d say you still have your V card!”
Serendipity’s face burned a bright red and she glared teasingly at the girl. A quick knock was followed by Lindsey entering the room. She caught sight of Serendipity and smiled, winking at her.
“Pay up, Emily. I told you Serendipity wouldn’t jump the guy the first chance they were alone together,” Lindsey snarked.
Emily laughed. “Fine, fine! You win!”
Serendipity let out a breathless laugh and landed on her back in the bed. She wanted to take a nap. Sleep sounded good.
“I know you aren’t closing your eyes. You have to get up, get ready, and go downstairs so that we can sneak out,” Lindsey informed her as if it was no big deal.
Serendipity did sit up then. She arched an eyebrow at her friend and smiled before shaking her head no. Lindsey pouted for a moment. As much as she wanted to roam the manor without Beckham and her other guard making her feel uncomfortable about it, Dominic would be furious when he found out. Well, if he found out.
Emily re-entered the room with a handful of Dominic’s dirty clothes. She threw them down the laundry shoot and turned to support Lindsey. “Go and have fun, Serendipity! The Alpha Prince will be gone for most of the day and all the humans sneak off to visit the beach at least once. It’s a tradition! Otherwise, we don’t get to enjoy it.”
Serendipity bit her lip. Lindsey made the jaunt sound like it would be no big deal and if everyone did it and they hadn’t been caught, then she wouldn’t be caught either. What Dominic didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt him. She finally relented and nodded to the two girls, climbing out of bed. Lindsey squealed before rushing off into the adjoining room and returning with an outfit for her to wear. Serendipity took the outfit and changed into the jeans and a thick sweater in the bathroom. She combed her hair in a high ponytail and brushed her teeth.
Outside of the room, Lindsey sat waiting on her and it looked like Emily had finished cleaning the room and had left to do other chores she was responsible for. Serendipity took her dirty clothes to the shoot and turned to face her friend.
How are we going to pull this off? she signed nervously. Beckham never leaves from standing watch outside the door.
With a mischievous smile, Lindsey gripped the handle to Dominic’s bedroom and twisted. “Leave it to me.” Lindsey opened the door up and walked outside for a moment. She heard a crash and then Lindsey was walking back inside with a huge grin on her face. “Come on. We have to be fast.”
Serendipity placed one foot in front of the other with her heart in her stomach. Outside, the table that was positioned just outside had been tipped over and a few trinkets littered the floor. Her eyebrow rose in question.
“Don’t say anything, but Beckham found his mate. She’s human and you know how he feels about us. He’s been stubborn and rude to her. So I just told him that I saw her downstairs flirting with another wolf and he rushed out of there faster than I could think twice about the fact it was a lie,” she explained. Serendipity immediately felt bad for whatever girl had gotten stuck with Beckham. She couldn’t imagine Dominic hating her. It would probably crush her soul.
Lindsey tugged her down the stairs, careful to listen for anyone heading their way. She noticed her friend took hallways and corridors where humans traveled and she was grateful because, without Dominic by her side, she didn’t want to run into any wolves. They passed a few wary servants. Some were openly curious, and others wore expressions of hate and envy on their faces. When they made it to the kitchen, Lindsey spoke to a few humans standing around before tugging Serendipity towards what looked to be a closet full of coats.
“Here, put this on. It’s way too big, but that’s the point. When we get outside, we don’t any wolf on patrol to know who you are or they could contact Beckham. When we get back inside, we will just tell him that we came downstairs to get something to eat,” Lindsey told her, helping her into a large oversized jacket. It was warm and furry on the inside and she briefly wondered who it belonged to, but realized Lindsey wouldn’t just take someone’s jacket without them knowing.
When they were both dressed, they went back into the busy kitchen area and slipped right out the door she had first entered all those days ago. At first, she thought that maybe Dominic would be standing outside, or maybe even Beckham, ready to catch her and yell ‘gotcha’! She breathed a sigh of relief when the only thing she saw was parked buses and humans sitting at break tables, talking with each other. Lindsey said brief hello’s as they walked past and soon they had rounded the corner of the manor and Serendipity could see a path between two cliffs that led to the shoreline. It wasn’t far from the manor in any way, which surprised Serendipity. Lindsey stopped in her tracks suddenly and turned so that they were facing each other. It took her a second to realize that Lindsey was doing her best to shield her from view.
Then she noticed the wolf prowling down the side of a cliff. Massive in size, there was no doubt that he was a werewolf. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart stuttered in her chest. The massive creature wasn’t Dominic and she wanted to go back inside. Her hands raised and she signed her request to Lindsey.
“Shh, Serendipity. You’re fine. He will go away in a minute. It’s not uncommon for humans to take walks on our breaks and that’s all we are doing,” her friend comforted.
True to her word, both girls watched as it sniffed the air a few times before continuing its slow pace over the cliffside. Eventually, it left the area to prowl elsewhere and she felt Lindsey release her breathe she’d been holding.
“We should be good for about twenty minutes since they just patrolled the area,” she said in a low voice, tugging her down the path.
She gulped in a deep breath of chilly sea air and guilt began to eat at her as she turned and watched the manor grow smaller and smaller behind her. Dominic had trusted her to stay with Beckham. Now she was purposefully ditching him for a walk on the beach. All because every other human had done it. She was such a pushover!
Still, as bad as she felt, the loud sound of the waves hitting the shore called to her in a way that almost had her mesmerized. It had been so long since she had seen the ocean. The last time had been with her brother, right before he had gone and fought in the war that had ultimately claimed his life. Once upon a time, the ocean had acted as a soothing balm on an ugly wound. Right after her parents died it was the only place she wanted to be. Her brother had even found her asleep in the sand on more than one occasion when she didn’t come home some nights. She’d gotten an ear full all the way home about how dangerous it was but it didn’t stop her from doing it over and over again. It was the only place she found peace with the fact that her parents weren’t coming back.
Her feet felt the change first. The soles sank into the soft sand, a sharp contrast to the frozen dirt path she had been on moments before. Then, after walking over the first dune, she saw it. Like a beautiful symphony of angry dark blue waves and white frothy foam, the sea fought with itself, pulling in and out until one wave crested over the other and crashed onto the beach with a roar. The water was violently pushed towards the shore until it was called home by the tide. It retreated almost as fast as it had come leaving the sand wet and dark wherever the sea touched it.
Giant boulders were littering the shore too, and a huge rock stuck out of the water about fifty feet in front of her. It was almost as tall as the cliffs behind them and she watched as a bird lifted from its perch on top of the rocky surface and took flight above the sea. There was something so beautiful about the way it flung its body out, wings outstretched with complete trust and freedom as it glided on the clouds above.
They finally made it close enough to the shore that the water lapped at her boots and she almost started crying. Specks of saltwater hit her numb face and she closed her eyes and just breathed it in. Why hadn’t she asked Dominic before to visit the little stretch of beach? She had a wonderful view of the ocean from her room and she hadn’t thought of asking. She definitely would be now.
“Serendipity, come this way! There is a cool pool of water over here,” her friend shouted from a good distance away.
She had been so caught up in her thoughts that she hadn’t even noticed Lindsey move. She moved away from the waters edge hesitantly, but ultimately she knew they had to hurry. They didn’t have all day and she didn’t want to get caught. The further towards Lindsey she walked, the rougher the ground appeared to grow until eventually, the sand turned to hard rock and then the rock began to break up to form large holes and dips in the ground. Eventually, treading as carefully as she could, she made it over to her friend.
They were right at the edge of one of the large cliffs now and up close the imposing rock was massive! Her hand came up and gripped the side of it, slipping over the slick rock to rest in a tiny dip of the formation to steady herself. When her gaze was pulled towards Lindsey, she found herself staring down into a huge cave! She could hear the sound of flowing water and she could just barely see the white tips of little waves as new water was pushed into the cove from somewhere she couldn’t see. The sight was beautiful and she knew that if there was a way to get down there, she’d be making Dominic make it happen for her.
“When the tide is higher, the pool is up higher too and you can sometimes see sea life swimming around,” Lindsey told her excitedly. Serendipity nodded in response.
They sat and watched the pool for a few minutes and Lindsey told her everything she knew about the area, including what it was like during the summer months before Lindsey jumped a foot from the rock she was standing on to land on hers. “We should head back. I would hate for Beckham to have a stroke when he finds out you aren’t in your room.”
Serendipity nodded and followed Lindsey away from the cove, her feet balancing delicately over the slippery rocks. The area was a hazard to cross, especially in the misty weather they were in. She leaped over on crack a second too late and her foot slipped, but she was able to right herself. Lindsey looked back to check on her and tipped to one side, off-balance over a large hole in the ground. Serendipity’s heart stopped. She jumped, not looking down for her next footing as she worked to steady her friend so she wouldn’t fall. Lindsey muttered a thank you but before Serendipity could sign a response, something odd happened.
She felt her foot slid back and her eyes grew wide. Then she heard the sound of rock crumbling before she felt herself begin to fall. Lindsey’s hand shot out to try and grab her but she wasn’t fast enough and Serendipity watched the horror play out on Lindsey’s face as their fingers skimmed each other. Her body was in free fall for not even a full second and she closed her eyes before she could think about anything more.
She landed at an awkward angle at the bottom of the cavern with a sick snap. All of the blood in her body seemed to rush to her head and her ears roared before she felt a fiery pain sweep through. Her eyes snapped open and her mouth shot open to scream, her mouth releasing strangled breathy sounds when it decided it couldn’t scream. The pain was so intense that her vision went black for a few moments and there was a moment that all she could hear was a tiny ringing in her ears, her body falling completely limp. The reprieve didn’t last long and before she knew it, her eyes snapped back open when the flames from the fiery pain encased in her leg came back with a vengeance. It was then she heard Lindsey shouting for her from a few feet above. The pain nauseated her beyond belief and she turned to the side and vomited. Again and again.
“Serendipity! Oh god, I have to go for help. Can you hear me? I’ll be back okay?”
Serendipity didn’t acknowledge her. She couldn’t acknowledge her. There was something very, very wrong with her. She couldn’t feel her left leg, only the fire. She floated alone in a sea of it and she was ashamed, but she asked for death. Welcomed it. The sound of the ocean was growing closer and a part of her hoped the tide would find a way to reach into the hell she had landed in and swallow her up.
Then her thoughts turned to Dominic. Poor Dominic would be so sad when he learned she’d died. He’d get sick and wither away. She opened her eyes then, trying to fight to stay awake and aware of what was happening no matter the cost to her. She couldn’t die. Then Dominic would die. Tears blurred her vision and she continually blinked them away, looking for something to help herself and coming up empty-handed.
As cold as it was, she felt sweat coating her body, drenching her clothes. Hadn’t Lindsey left for help? Her friend was taking so long it seemed. So very long. Her finger twitched and she tested the movement, grasping a cool rock laying on the cavern floor with her. She opened her eyes wider before blinking away tears. It wasn’t a rock, she realized. It was a shell. A perfect spiral that had most likely gotten swept in with the rising tide and left there alone. As alone as she was.
A loud, bellowing howl ripped through the air with a terrifying ferocity, but she couldn’t make herself feel afraid. She wanted to call back to it more than anything. Beg it to come for her, friend or foe. Even if it killed her it had to be better than continuing to suffer. She turned her face until the light pouring through the hole she had made above her came into view. She licked the salt from her lips as if she was going to try and call out. More tears fell when she remembered she couldn’t. The pain was making her delirious. Maybe she hadn’t heard anything.
“Over here, Alpha! It’s really bad. I don’t think she can move.”
She knew that voice. That was Lindsey. Soon enough, she was able to see the worried face of her friend peer down at her and she blinked at the shade that was cast down onto her face. Then, as if out of a superhero movie, her knight in shining armor was there, leaping down into the hole with ease. He was on his knees beside her, looking down at her before she could blink.
“Fuck! Lindsey, what the hell were you thinking? Go back to the manor and get help. Don’t let me see you again. I can’t control my wolf and he wants nothing more than to rip your throat out.”
Serendipity frowned then. He didn’t sound like her Dominic. He sounded terrifying, enough so that she whimpered. She knew she wasn’t understanding certain things happening to her. Everything was so hard to think about. She moved her hand, the one with the shell in it.
“No, little human. You stay still, do you hear me? You’re going to be okay.”
She kept moving it anyways until finally, he moved just enough so that he was peering down into her eyes, his mouth kissing her forehead gently. His hand covered the one she kept moving, keeping it in place. She opened her palm and shoved the shell into his hand. She didn’t know what she was doing. She didn’t. The pain painted everything in a different light. Up was down, right was wrong and nothing made sense. She looked up into her mates eyes. He was the one thing that did make sense. He was her constant. Strangely, his eyes were glowing the gold of his wolf and yet his face was wet as if he had been crying. Did wolves cry?
Warm hands stroked messy hair back from her sweaty forehead. “Help is coming, Serendipity. It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.” He cooed as if she was a baby. She wanted to believe him, she did. She tried to shift her body closer to his, not wanting him to be so upset, and she felt the blood drain from her face as black dots ate away at her vision when her leg was jarred.
“Stay still, Serendipity. I’m not going anywhere,” he snapped, his eyes flashing a brighter gold in anger. She gave a short nod, all she could manage, and more tears streamed down her face. She heard impending footsteps and her gaze latched onto Dominic for reassurance. His finger traced up and down the length of her cheek as if to calm her.
“It’s the healer. It’s okay.” She blinked in relief and watched as another wolf threw himself down the same way Dominic had, careful to not hit her. A duffel bag hung low at his waist but before she could pay any more attention, the feelings of hands-on her leg had her withering under the ministrations. She hadn’t made a real sound in years, but at that moment, little wheezes of air left her throat, the only way she could object to what was happening.
“It’s a compound fracture. She’s bleeding heavily and while I don’t think it was the main artery the bone hit on the way out, I can’t rule it out. We have to move her now,” she heard the man explain. She shook her head up at Dominic, pleading for him not to do that. She hadn’t even attempted to move her leg yet and she couldn’t imagine the pain she would feel if she did. He looked down at her with sorrow in his eyes and she knew it didn’t matter how much she begged. They were going to move her.
“You can’t give her anything for the pain? Knock her out, Marcus. Don’t make me move her like this,” she heard Dominic order. The doctor didn’t even spare him a glance.
“Of course. I have enough medicine to put her under. I have to brace her leg after she’s out before she can be moved. Lawrence is on his way with a brace and board now,” the doctor told him. Fresh tears pooled in her eyes and she closed them when she felt Dominic lean down and kiss them away.
She was surprised that she felt the prick of the needle, but she did and it stung. She felt something cold wiggle its way into her veins and she kept her gaze on Dominic, his frantic eyes searching her face for something that she knew he wouldn’t find. She was in pain. So much pain that even the coldness in her veins couldn’t extinguish it.
At least, that’s what she believed. Surprisingly, she felt the moment the pain began to recede. Dominic noticed too and she saw him give her the first real hint of a reassuring smile she had seen him wear since finding her. She sighed loudly, the pain becoming even more of a thing from the past. The moment a hand touched her leg, she jerked it out from under the touch and the fire was eating her again. Dominic snarled at the doctor who ignored him and glanced down at her.
“I’m sorry, Luna. We can give it a few more minutes. Try to relax,” he suggested. She felt like rolling her eyes at him but found she didn’t have the strength. She barely had the strength to keep her eyes open. She felt them droop once, and she opened them wide in surprise. She didn’t want to be unaware. She needed to know she was going to be alright, but more importantly, she needed to know Dominic was going to be alright.
“Close your eyes, little human. I’ll be right beside you until you open them back up,” he assured her. She gripped onto his hand a bit tighter and did as he asked, closing them. She counted back in her head, imagining she was in the doctor’s office. She could do it. She could put her trust in Dominic and just let go until she was better.
And so she did.