Painted Scars (The Millennium Wolves 03)

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Chapter 1

April 2015

Lumen, Oregon

Working as the head healer is often a bit hectic. But days like today were downright chaotic.

“Grace!” I practically yelled as I shoved the door open to the Pack House’s emergency room. “Where the fuck is Mae and why the hell did she let Kaylon escape?!”

Grace, one of my healers, squirmed at my anger as she was infusing the unconscious female soldier with extra blood and tried to heal all the surface scratches. “I – I don’t know, ma’am,” she whimpered, not taking her eyes off the wolf she took care of, “M-Mae said that Kaylon w-was fine – “

“How could he be fine with two broken legs and twisted arm?!” I couldn’t believe this. Werewolves might have superhuman self-healing abilities, but even a super strong werewolf couldn’t simply walk away with these injuries!

Grace was evidently under enough pressure, so instead of pushing her farther and get all my anger and frustration on her, I left her with a furious growl and went from bed to bed in the ER, checking up on all the wounded before I went to hunt down Kaylon, who couldn’t have gotten too far.

I found the stupid wolf in the backyard of the Pack House, almost passed out. Growling, I barked out, “Someone help me carry this dumbass back to his room!”

Into the backyard skipped Claire Hill. She was a cute, overweight girl with soft chestnut hair and startling hazel eyes. She was plump and voluptuous and had Zachary Greyson wrapped around her pinkie. She also became some sort of a friend to me in the past few weeks ever since Chloe Danes’ death. But that was a story for another time.

Claire smiled faintly at me and then, without words, helped me carry the twenty-year-old soldier back inside the House. “Damn, he’s heavy,” she said, her face strained.

I grunted. “Thanks for the help. I can’t believe he’s too stupid for his own good.”

She chuckled, dragging the man along. She was stronger now that she was a werewolf, but Claire still got used to her new strength, to her werewolf senses, to everything the world now had to offer her. “It’s good exercise, Zack would say,” she said, voice affectionate, “he’s been trying to get me to lift heavyweight for a while now. I told him that if I do, he would end up being mated to a wrestler.”

At this imagery I couldn’t help but laugh, despite the current circumstances. “Fuck men,” I said, and Claire laughed along with me.

Our laughter died when we got to Kaylon’s room and dropped him on the bed. He moaned in pain. I sighed. “Thanks again, Claire. I got it from here.”

She sent me a concerned look. “You sure? You seem really pale. Do you want me to talk to Daphne?”

People always assumed Daphne was the big sister between the two of us, because she was tall, had a somewhat more mature, beautiful face, and was part of the Millennium Wolves crew. She also had that arrogant, confident air about her that I always lacked, and I think it was also because she was way prettier than me, with her soft, wavy brown hair, smoky blue eyes, and slender yet curvy figure, covered by gorgeous, natural tan. I, on the other hand, had such a light skin, it looked pale most of the time because of my dark brown hair. My eyes were blue, but they were boring blue, and while I was pretty enough, I was short and slim, practically flat-chested. I was so tiny, people always thought me to be at least five years younger than I actually was.

But that was beside the point.

“Daphne’s spent,” I told her as I began checking for additional injuries in Kaylon’s broken body, “she’s been healing the injured one after another when they just arrived. She needs to rest a few hours, recharge, and then she can continue again.”

Claire didn’t seem to like this. “What about you, Daisy?” she inquired. “Aren’t you getting spent as well?”

That was my secret, the one I hadn’t told anyone. When it came to healing abilities... it took a lot more than that to exhaust me. “Don’t worry about me,” I waved her off, “but please, since you’re free, help me and get updates on everyone who’s wounded or no longer injured.”

“You got it,” she said and went out the door. Just as she left and I began sending some magical healing through my skin to Kaylon’s, the idiot opened his eyes and looked at me with a lazy grin.

I gave him a stern gaze. “Don’t give me this look, Kaylon.”

“Hmm...” he hoisted himself on his elbows and I almost slapped him for using his twisted arm when it was, well, twisted. “Having you fawn all over me like a worrywart... I can’t say it’s not a fantasy come to life.”

Ignoring him, I began bandaging an open bullet wound in his waist. But Kaylon, it seemed, had a death wish because he continued to push. “Rumor has it the Season’s just ’round the corner, Daze,” he murmured in what, I guessed, was supposed to be a seductive voice, “I wanna have fun with you again.”

I wrapped the bandage so tightly around his waist that he grunted. Then I looked at him. “I’m not having sex with you again, Kaylon.” It had been a mistake when, a year ago, I let him sweet-talk me into being his lover for that Season. He’d been good, but not good enough to make me feel sated like a werewolf should feel during the Haze, the sex-craze all werewolves felt. Now Kaylon got it into his head that he had a shot with me again.

Nope. Not happening.

He sighed. “You’re breaking my heart.”

I hummed my healing magic to quicken the fixing of his broken bones. “You’ll get over it.”

“But you’re so pretty,” he now pouted.

“You’ll deal,” I said again.

“But – “

“Kaylon!” I snapped, giving him another stern look. He looked startled. Whenever I was having a day like this, I tended to get snippy. Most people understood that, knew that, and Kaylon, who quickly realized he pushed too far, figured that out now, too. “Our pack has just been attacked by the Divine Hunters and while you’re spouting nonsense our soldiers are dying out there. So shut the fuck up and let me work!”

Kaylon finally listened to reason and clicked his mouth shut.

Once I was finished with the young soldier, Claire gave me updates about the others, and I went to talk with my healers. “Eliza,” I told the newest one in my group, who was only seventeen, “do you think you can hold the fort for now?” Eliza needed to know those kind of things, since she was an intern and interns needed to learn from situations like these. I might be the youngest head healer to have ever been in the West Coast Pack, but I’d been practicing this kind of scenario long before Eliza even manifested her healing powers.

She nodded jerkily and said, “Most of the injured here are not critical anymore. The others and me can handle them if you need to rest.”

I trusted her word, but decided to ask Iris, too. The old healer said the same, even though new wrinkles lined her face. All healers were about to reach their limit, but since Daphne was out at the moment until she recharged, and they said nobody was critical anymore, I knew they could handle this for now. There were much more important things to take care of right now.

Not wasting time, I went to Gabe’s office and knocked. “Come in, Daisy,” he said and I entered. Gabe was on the phone, a grave expression on his face, while Zavier was pacing, watching the video on his phone. I’d already watched it a few hours ago. It was a video gone worldwide of the open attack the Hunters had launched.

This day was abnormal on all accounts.

I tapped my foot impatiently on the floor, my arms crossed, as I waited for Gabe to finish his phone call. Zavier glanced at me, and I gave him my moody, annoyed look. He scowled. I scowled back. He sighed and then continued pacing, knowing that irritating me farther in this mood was stupid.

Gabe finally hung up and looked at me. He had short dark brown hair, golden eyes a shade darker than those of his “brother” Rafe, and he was tall and lean, looking more like an athletic breakdancer than a muscular fighter, like most alphas looked like. He seemed Hispanic, with darker skin tone and his facial features, and I guessed that it added to his dangerous aura, which he had despite of that.

Unlike him, Zavier looked like a Hollywood actor or something, with longish dirty-blonde hair, greenish-blue eyes that were the Greyson’s trademark, and tall, ripped body with sun-kissed skin. He was hot, I guessed, just like Gabe was hot, but since I was so close to the two, being part of the West Coast Pack alpha gang, I couldn’t view them like anything more that comrades or something, and that’s if I didn’t consider what happened the last Mating Season. And I didn’t.

Even though Gabe tried to remind me sometimes.

Thankfully, Gabe caught up on my mood and decided against pushing my bottoms today. “What’s going on with the injured, Daisy?” he asked, his eyes dead-serious.

I could deal with him when he was serious like that. It was only when he tried to sweep me off my feet that I wanted to throttle him. “No one is critical anymore,” I said, and saw both Zavier and Gabe relaxing, “but the fight’s still going on. I need to go there.”

Gabe’s eyes turned flat. “No.”

“It’s not up for negotiation, Gabriel,” I said, narrowing my eyes, “the Hunters, for whatever fucking reason, are attacking all of our sentries just outside the forest. Eve and Raphael are halfway across the ocean, Jed’s in Texas, and our numbers have been lowering significantly in preperations for the Solstice Assembly.” The Solstice Assembly, unlike the Yule Ball or the sometimes Equinox Assembly, was more of a familial kind of gathering. Families visited their family members in different packs, single werewolves went to roam in groups, and so on. Since the Solstice was only a couple of months away, Gabe had allowed many families and even soldiers to get out of the territory, roam and visit their families.

Unfortunately, without notice, earlier today a group of cloaked figures who claimed to be the infamous Hunters attacked the sentries of Lumen, and a battle broke out. Some were dead, some were brought here to the Pack House, hurt, and some were still fighting. It was almost evening now, and the unexpected attack was still underway.

With Raphael and Eve visiting the Shanghai Pack, Jed’s post in Texas, Daphne out of commission, and our numbers dropping drastically, I needed to take action. I hated when my people died, just like Gabe hated it, and I wanted to save whoever I could. We could think about the whys afterwards.

“No,” Gabe’s voice was final, his eyes flashing wolf-gold. “You’re not going into that war zone. You’re the head healer, and you’re staying here. Everyone else will be fine.”

“You’re being a fool, Gabriel,” I snarled at him, letting my own wolf out to play, my eyes shining a brilliant sky-blue. “People, your people are dying because of the Hunters. I need to be out there, to take care of them. What do you think Raphael would say if Shade, Zack and Omar died?”

“He’d say they died fighting for what’s right,” Gabriel snarled back.

“Don’t recite cliched phrases for me!” I sniped, feeling my wolf bristling against my skin. “I need to be out there, helping. That’s my job. My true job. You know it and so do I.”

He stood up at once and gave me his alpha stare. I winced at that and my wolf immediately wanted to shrink away, despite our resolve. Sometimes, when Gabriel acted all infuriating, I forgot that he was truly an alpha. When he gave me this look, I remembered. “No, and my decision is final. You’re too important and if something happens to you, all those people would think they got wounded for naught. You’re staying here, Daisy, even if I have to lock you up in a cellar.”

A growl rose in my throat at the threat, but Gabriel was unmovable. He simply folded his arms and dared me to argue with him. But that just pissed me off even more, and I found myself breaching a subject I’d done my best to never talk about again. “Is it because it’s me?” I asked, feeling indignation at the thought that what Gabe felt for me might be one of the factors he took under consideration. “If Flora or Celia would’ve been the head healers and asked you the same thing, would you still have said no?”

This time, it appeared I’d crossed a line. He growled deeply, and I involuntarily took a step back. “You’re staying here,” he said, and I finally heard it in his voice, his worry, his almost fear for me. “Now go back to where you belong, Daisy.”

I gave him a spiteful look before I stormed out of his office and slammed the door shut. Goddamn him. Goddamn him.

This was not over. It didn’t happen a lot that our pack was under a direct threat. It’d been years since the last time someone tried to poach on our territory. We were the strongest pack in North America, the biggest too. Nobody dared touching us. So when something like that happened now, that the Hunters, actually the Hunters, those who used to keep a low profile and only targeted specifically small groups of werewolves, were attacking us in full force, I felt responsible more than ever to my people, felt the weight of my job on my slim shoulders.

My wolf needed me to help, for both of us, our shared healer nature. We needed to help. I was going to help. And for the first time in my life, I was going to disobey a direct order given to me by the alpha.

I wouldn’t let Gabriel make decisions upon being attached to me. Not if I could help it.

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