One moment there was nothing but blackness and the next there was nothing but light. The warmth was beautiful and radiant and it seemed to fill in every cease and cranny, every shadow. She was smiling and so happy and free that she was practically floating. With a blink of her eyes, the light was gone and she stood in a field. Thick trees were interwoven together, creating a circular barrier all around her. She turned around quickly, looking for an escape, but saw nothing that looked any different. Tallgrass and flowers tickled her ankles when she walked forward a bit before looking up, towards the beautiful blue sky.
As beautiful as everything was, she knew that something was wrong. She was confused because, for the life of her, she didn’t know where she was nor did she know how she had gotten there. She stuck out one of her hands and looked down at her skin. Everything felt...funny. Not a bad funny. Not at all. As weird as it was she did feel good. Serendipity tried to think back to the last thing she could remember. Dominic had left her. She watched as the SUV with him in it had driven away and then she had gone into their room and laid down for a while and cried and cried. What had happened after that? She rubbed her chest at the uneasy feeling she was experiencing, now looking around frantically for a way to escape the mystical cosmos she had been transported to.
“Hi there, Firefly.”
She froze at the masculine voice that echoed out behind her. The hand on her chest dropped and tears filled her eyes. That sound was so impossible, so unexpected, that tears beaded up in her eyes and she couldn’t figure out if they were bad tears or good ones. She spun on her heel to look at the spot she had been standing in not seconds earlier. All of the breath in her lungs wooshed out and her stomach dropped at the man standing before her.
Her eyes bulged wide. She had spoken. She had said a name and it had come up out of her throat as if she had never been in a car accident. It was as if her vocal cords had never been slashed. With a teary-eyed grin, she took off across the field of flowers. A slight breeze carrying the scent of lavender on the breeze drifted past her before she launched herself at Caleb’s form. He caught her with a low chuckle, spinning her around like he had when she was little. She squeezed him with all her might, afraid that he would disappear.
“I’ve missed you so much. How are you here? How am I speaking right now? Where are we?” The words tumbled out of her mouth before she could stop him and Caleb just laughed harder before sitting her down in front of him. He was still just as tall as he had been the last time she had seen him. His blonde hair was cut short on the sides but there was a bit of length on the top that was styled. Bright blue eyes, eyes that looked just like hers, stared back at her with so much happiness she wanted to cry. He was even dressed in blue jeans and a Carhart jacket, the very same she had seen him leave their apartment in.
This time she couldn’t stop the tears. She had been so cruel to him when he had left to go off and fight. Hurling words of anger and throwing and breaking things, the very last thing she had told him was that she hated him for leaving her alone just as their parents had left them alone. Then he had walked out of their apartment and she had never seen them again. The smile on Caleb’s face didn’t falter, but he stepped forward and gripped her in a tight embrace as she cried silently, not knowing what to say. She buried her face into his chest, gripping his shirt tightly.
“I know you didn’t mean anything you said, Serendipity. I shouldn’t have left you to fight in a pointless war that did nothing but get me killed. I should have been there for you until I wasn’t able to anymore. I had to much pride,” he murmured. She just shook her head, not understanding how he knew what she was thinking. He pulled away from her, stroking her hair back from her hair in a messy manner that he always did when she was little. A hiccup of a laugh escaped her lips and she pushed his arm away.
“You did good, firefly. You’ve become so beautiful and kind and you didn’t forget about where you came from when it mattered. You are the best of us, our family. That’s why I know you can’t stay here, Firefly. It isn’t your time,” he explained gently.
She narrowed her eyes in confusion. “What are you talking about? I can’t leave now. I just got you back,” she told him quickly, terrified he was going to leave her again. Her brother looked sad for the first time since she saw him and a lump formed in her throat.
“You can stay here, but that means leaving everyone you love behind,” he explained gently. She shook her head, not accepting what she was hearing.
“No, no, please, don’t make me choose. Please, Caleb, come with me. Things are changing. I’m making things change for us,” she sobbed.“You can come live in the manor with me and Dominic. You’ll like him so much and he’ll like you. You’ll see,” she choked out, nodding her head up and down, talking more to herself than she was to him.
Caleb’s smile completely disappeared then and the next words that came out of his mouth were slow as if he was having a hard time telling her what he was. “Firefly, I can’t come with you-”
“No, please don’t say it,” she whispered.
“I have to, Serendipity. I’m dead. Right now, you’re dead too, but if you want to go back, you can. You have to make your mind up soon though. Limbo is never built to last forever,” he told her, looking around at the beautiful field. True to his words, the sky was beginning to fade into a bright white, the white she had encountered when she had first woken up in the strange land.
“I’m dead?” She asked. Her mind immediately sought out Dominic’s and she gasped loudly. She couldn’t feel him. She couldn’t feel her mate which meant that sooner rather than later, Dominic would get mating sickness. Oh God, she was dead and Dominic was going to die too. Not even thinking about it, she glanced back at her brother with horror in her eyes. “I have to go back, Caleb. I don’t want to leave you but I have to go back. I can’t leave him. He was so lost without me, and I was lost without him too.”
Caleb nodded like he had expected her answer. “I know you do, Serendipity. It’s okay. I want you to go back and I want you to be happy. I need you to be happy. Let go of the past because it’s the only way to truly move forward. My death was unpreventable but your happiness with Dominic is a choice. Make the right one.”
Serendipity nodded, watching the trees around them begin the fade into the whiteness. She stepped towards her brother again, clutching him tightly. He held her to them too, a feeling of finality between them as much as she didn’t want there to be. For a split second, she considered staying but knew she wouldn’t, that she couldn’t. She stepped away from her brother.
“I’ll see you again soon, Firefly. Next time, you can introduce me to the man that was lucky enough to snatch you up. I’ll give him a hard time like I would have done if I was still there and you just wait until mom sinks her claws into him,” he joked. Then, before she could stop it from happening, her brother disappeared and the white engulfed her again before blackness engulfed her and pain radiated from every part of her body.
With a loud gasp, her eyes snapped open and everything slammed back into her mind, including what had happened to her. Her head pounded with every beat of her heart and she groaned, ending the pathetic sound with a whimper. She looked around herself as best as she could and her terror mounted when she found herself in what looked to be the inside of an abandoned shed or barn. She tried to move her hand to her face and winced when she pulled on whatever was restraining her. Looking up, her hands were red where the oxygen was being cut off and down at her wrists was the culprit. Her right hand was handcuffed to a large iron gate door to one of the stalls in the barn where animals were usually kept.
Her left hand had been left free so she brought that one up to wipe her eyes clean of whatever was obstructing her views. She pulled her arm away and almost threw up when her hand came back drenched in blood. She was bleeding from her head. No wonder she felt so weak and everything hurt. Had she been shot? The pain was bad but surely it would have been worse was there a bullet lodged in her brain. She would be dead!
Looking around the barn, she was hoping to spy a pair of bolt cutters or something to free herself with. Thankfully it wasn’t dark yet, just dusk, and she could see despite all of the blood still on her eyes. There was nothing in reach of her though, only moldy hay and dried up poo of whatever animal had been kept there. Whoever had left her there had done a wonderful job of making sure she couldn’t leave. She was too weak to go far anyway. She would have to sit and wait for Dominic.
Testing the bond, she tried with all her might to reach out to her mate. Surprisingly, as if by some kind of miracle, she felt the bond snap together tightly as if they had been separated for years instead of hours. Dominic’s emotions were so strong and overpowering that she found it hard to breathe for a moment. Rage, there was so much rage. There was fear too, but that only served to fan the flames of his anger higher. She was surprised by the hate she felt coming from Dominic that it stole her thoughts and he was the first to speak.
Serendipity, baby, are you okay? Where are you? Dominic demanded with an edge to his voice she had never heard. He sounded almost evil in a way and she shivered.
The questions were filled with relief and she had to admit that hearing that he was okay filled her with relief too. I don’t know. It looks like a barn. She hesitated before adding. I don’t feel very good, Dom. I think I was shot. I keep bleeding.
There was a long pause before he answered her, so much so that she worried he was just a figment of her imagination. She reached out curiously through the bond and, as if feeling her anxiety, he finally answered her. I know where you are. I need to stay still for me and not agitate the wound. Can you do that for me, little human?”
Tears prickled her eyes at the nickname and she held back a little sob, not wanting her head to pop with any sort of movement she was making. The pain was growing worse and though she thought the wound was only a severe graze, she didn’t want to do anything that could make things worse. I can do that. Do you know where I am? A part of her felt like he was simply telling her that to make her feel better.
I do. I think you’re in a barn I used to play in as a child. I’m ten minutes from you though. The bastards laid a false trail for you away from where you are being kept and I tracked your scent for miles before I discovered you had been taken elsewhere. Is there anyone with you?
She looked around with her eyes, searching for a sign of another person but she didn’t see or hear anything to make her think anyone was inside the barn with her. Surely they would have approached her already if that had been the case. She licked her dry lips before turning her head to one side to search behind her. She stopped abruptly when a wave of dizziness attacked her and nausea welled up.
She closed her eyes to answer her mate. I don’t see anyone.
She felt relief again, not her own, and she realized that he thought they were going to try and hurt or kill her before he got the chance to rescue her. She whimpered a bit at the thought. Please hurry, Dom.
I am, baby. Then this will just be one bad memory, you’re last bad memory if I have anything to do with it. I’m so sorry for leaving you, Serendipity. Never again. I promise you. He sounded so sincere, she had no problems believing him.
I’m going to hold you to that. A fresh set of tears filled her eyes and she wanted to groan in frustration but restrained herself. I love you so much. I’m so thankful you kidnapped me. That would have been an interesting story to have told our children. I wanted a mini-Dominic running around, causing all kinds of chaos just like his daddy.
Dominic growled lowly in her mind, but it was a sad sound. That’s what you want, not what you wanted. You’re going to be fine. We are going to have a manor full of children. And I’m going to marry you. You’re going to walk down the aisle in a beautiful white dress just like you talked about. I know you think I don’t about your traditions as a human, but I do. Everything important to you is important to me.
She laughed, unable to stop herself. Is that your way of asking me to marry you? Us separated while I’m tied up and trapped in a barn, and you running to rescue me? She smiled despite her words.
I’m not asking, little human. I’m telling you that as soon as you’re free and healthy, we are getting married so that all the human men you come across know that you belong to me and that I belong to you. I want everyone to know just how much I love you and now that humans will be free within the borders of New Nation, it’s a good idea to mesh our traditions. He told her. She blinked tiredly, her eyes dropping. She knew he was trying his best to distract her, but it was getting harder and harder to focus on him with the agony in her head.
That’s a beautiful idea, Dom. She told him sincerely. It warmed her heart to think that he was giving the idea of humans and wolves intermingling some real thought. Tensing, she froze at the sound of footsteps outside the barn. I think someones here.
She couldn’t stop her breathing from picking up into that of a panic as the barn was opened with a loud bang as the door hit the wall, bouncing off it a bit. Whitlock walked in, a smirk on his face as he looked down at her. She stayed as quiet and still as she could, knowing first hand how unstable the werewolf was. She had a feeling she wouldn’t be as lucky the second time if a bullet was fired towards her.
Stay quiet and don’t entice him if it’s Whitlock or anyone else, Serendipity. You are to do everything they say without one word of protest. Do you understand me? he snapped.
She nodded before realizing what Dominic wouldn’t be able to see her. She was scared and still confused, her senses mixing everything up. I understand. Please, please, hurry.
With a loud laugh, Whitlock glared down at her. “You’re alive? I thought you were going to bleed out from the nasty little scrape I gave you. I guess my aim could use better work, don’t you think?” He walked over to her and bent down. She stayed as still as she could, not even daring to breathe. Just as he had before, he picked up a piece of her hair and this time she didn’t flinch. “Damn, I was hoping to throw your body to Dominic when he arrived, but I guess killing you in front of him would be a lot more fun.”
The middle-aged werewolf stood then, reaching for her wrist where she was restrained. He yanked on it and she yelped. With another hard yank, the metal of the cuffs broke and he hauled her up by the broken link, the other still digging into her skin. She stood, the world around her twirling like she was on a ride at the fair. Sharp fragments of glass pierced her brain and she leaned over to the side to empty the contents of her stomach.
Before she could wipe her mouth, she felt Whitlock tug her towards the door and she landed on her knees just outside the door before she was tugged up again, her body being used almost like a rag doll. Tears streamed down her face and she did her best to block Dominic from experiencing everything she was but she knew she couldn’t stop him from picking up on her feelings, her emotions. Not so long as they were connected and a large part of her was terrified that if she cut herself off from him, she wouldn’t have the strength to link with him again.
The sounds of laughs and jeers made her pay attention to what was happening around her instead of what the pain her body was in and she stilled when she saw what awaited her. At least fifty werewolves, if not more, surrounded the empty area outside of the barn. All of them listened as Whitlock rattled on about something and she did her best to listen.
“-this is what our Prince had decided to mate with. This, a human who can’t even speak for herself.” Whitlock marched to where she was laying on the ground being ogled at. “I’ll tell you what, human, I’m a fair man. If you can just tell us why you should be allowed to live, we will let you go.” Whitlock cupped his hand to his ear as Serendipity sat up as best she could, dazed. “No, you don’t want to live?” Whitlock pushed her back to the ground and she hit it with a huff.
“This is what we will allow to decimate our gene pool if nothing is done to stop the Alpha King and his son. I lost my wife and daughter to these demons and I won’t allow humans to be made free all because Dominic has been fated to a human. I say, when our Alpha gets here, we dethrone him and take what’s rightfully ours. With me as your leader, humans will be exterminated. Permanently.”
Roars of applause and cheers filled the air as Serendipity laid sprawled out on the ground, crying and hopeless. She reached out to Dominic then to warn him, though she knew that no matter what she said, he wasn’t going to do as she asked. Still, she had to try. Please, don’t come to me. There are so many wolves here who want you dead Dominic. You have to go back and get help. I’m bait and they are leading you into a trap. They need me alive if they want to get to you. Please, go back and get reinforcements.
With a growl of frustration, he ignored her. I’m almost to you, Serendipity, just hold on. I’m going to make sure you’re safe.
She sobbed silently in the dirt then, tired and more terrified than she had ever been. Not because she was scared she was going to die.
But because she knew Dominic was going to.