Painted Scars (The Millennium Wolves 03)

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Chapter 2

Sneaking out of the Pack House when it’s full of people running around was tough, but I was clever enough to use the exit nobody would think of; through the Alpha of the Millennium’s assigned room.

Raphael’s suite was in the highest floor, and I knew that the moment he returned from his visit in Shanghai and his distinct nose would scent that I was here there would be a price to pay, but since I’d also sneaked his daughter’s blood on a regular basis to give it to a vampyre in exchange for information, there wasn’t much I was afraid of anymore where he was concerned.

When I got to his and Eve’s rooms, I didn’t linger; I simply went to the window of their living room, opened it, and looked outside. There was a tree close enough so I gave myself a small pep talk, mostly of “You can do this!” catch-phrases, and, crouching on the window’s ledge, I took a deep breath and hoped my werewolf reflexes were good enough as I launched myself onto the tree.

My hands closed around the branch, my backpack with the first-aide kit was steady on my back, and I heaved a sigh of relief. I pulled myself up on the branch, then slid down the trunk to the grassy ground, then sprinted to the parking lot, where I stashed my bike. I hopped on, started the engine, and rocketed through the parking lot, the city, and eventually the forest. My heart was beating quickly from adrenaline at disobeying a direct command from my alpha, but my healer part, which was much bigger than everything else, was in full agreement with my decision.

The combination caused me to pent in exhilaration and fear, fear mostly for those still out there, vulnerable and fighting. It made me wonder why the hell Gabe and Zavier weren’t joining the fight, but since I wasn’t a military mastermind, I couldn’t hope to figure it out. Even though I believed that generals should lead the fighters, not stay back and contemplate the outcomes.

It took twenty minutes for me to finally hear the shooting and explosions and growls in the air. Smoke came from the war zone, and fire blazed in the distance. It looked like hell paid a visit and I didn’t like it. Not at all.

I stopped my bike and pulled myself out and onto the ground. I walked toward the zone and heard shouting before there was shooting. My heartbeat escalated and I swallowed hard. I’d never seen death before my eyes, but I had a feeling it would change soon.

When I stepped on something different than the ground, I didn’t process what I was seeing first. Then, when I saw it was Miles, bleeding from a few places, his eyes looking up at the sky, my throat choked. “Miles,” I whispered, falling to the ground next to him and fumbling with my first-aide kit.

He didn’t even glance at me, as if he couldn’t hear me. “Chloe’s waiting for me,” he said softly, eyes filling with tears, “she’s waiting for me up there. I want to see her.”

“You’re not joining Chloe just yet,” I said fiercely as I began healing his torso. “You still have a chance at living and I’m not going to let you waste it.”

He said nothing in return, but I could see it in his eyes. Ever since his mate, Chloe, died before he could even mate her (which was the only reason he was alive right now) Miles had been sinking into grief and sorrow. He was Gabriel’s adviser, and Gabe was keeping an eye on him, but looking now into his electric-blue eyes, I knew that no matter how he chose to live his life, he would never be able to live it to the fullest.

He wanted to die.

I didn’t want to let him die.

Shoving healing energy to my hands, I growled as I made sure he was good as new again. It took me about ten minutes before all gushes closed and all he had were bruised knees and elbows. He looked at me when I finished, eyes angry. “I hate you.”

“I love you too,” I said dryly as I rose. “Stay out of the fight, Miles, and call all that backup you can think of. Use the East Coast Pack if need be.”

He snarled, “You’re not my alpha. You don’t get to give orders, especially not in the battlefield.”

“Shut up,” I growled back, “Gabe’s too stupid to do anything right now so someone needs to take charge. Do it now.” It wasn’t fair of me to undermine Gabe when I was pretty sure he was working on getting backup himself, even preparing to join the fight as soon as he worked everything else out, but looking at Miles, seeming so lost and agonized, I knew that he needed the reminded that he wasn’t his own person. Gabriel needed him. Even Zavier needed him. I needed him. The pack needed him. We wouldn’t let him give up on life like that, no matter how hard it was to be torn apart from your Fated One.

Leaving Miles to it, I searched the scene for more injured soldiers. I could see the enemy moving steady in a military formation of sorts, all wearing dark cloaks and masks. They were armed with heavy guns – some I recognized as M16, one even an Uzi, and the most terrifying; a Bazooka – and there were some Hunters scattered, attacking our sentries one-on-one.

We weren’t exactly outnumbered, but we didn’t have the same artillery, that was for sure. Werewolves mostly relied on their superhuman strength and only sometimes bothered with guns. This time, however, inhuman strength wouldn’t be enough to prevail.

Taking a deep breath, I made sure to move through the shadows, hiding from the enemy, and searched the ground for more fallen soldiers I needed to heal and send back to fight. Then, I saw something that made my heart lurch.

A man, a Hunter, broke formation and raised his gun to point at someone before him. My eyes slid quietly to see who that was, and my stomach dropped.

Shade. The Hunter was aiming at Shade who was down on the ground.

I didn’t know Shade too well, although I doubted anyone did. Daphne, too, told me that despite of him being part of the crew, he wasn’t close to anyone, not even Rafe, who recruited him. I’d only exchanged a word or two with Shade in the past, and while we weren’t close, something about the fact he was standing, or rather lying, before of his death tugged at me.

I don’t want to see Shade dies.

An instinct far more primal than anything else set me in motion. As the Hunter was about to pull the trigger on Shade, who was seemingly down unmoving on the ground, breathing heavily, already wounded, I lunged at him, shifting into my wolf form at the same time. My limbs lengthened, fur grew on my skin, my back bowed, fitting my new shape, and then I was clawing at the Hunter with everything in me. The other Hunters were now in the middle of a fight with the other soldiers, shooting and cursing and throwing punches, so nobody paid me attention as I ripped into the Hunter writhing underneath me.

Okay, I didn’t exactly rip into him. I didn’t have the power for that, although I did have enough menace to make it work. Instead, I closed my wolfish teeth around the Hunter’s throat and made sure to tear a main vein that wouldn’t be able to be closed anytime soon. Then I leaped off him, made myself shift into human again, nudity be damned, and went to Shade.

I didn’t even think as I grabbed my backpack from the ground nearby, where it’d fallen when I shifted, and rummaged inside, searching for bandages. I found only two were left, since most of them I used on Miles. “Fuck,” I snarled as I crawled over to Shade, whose eyes were closed and whose clothes were torn. Heck, his shirt was in tatters, and his jeans had new wholes in them. I forced myself not to think of his muscles that were on display, but I found it hard.

Every woman would tell you Shade was the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. They were not wrong; with his longer-than-average light brown hair, his hypnotizing green eyes, his strong, square jaw, high aristocratic cheekbones, tall and lean figure roped into tight, strong muscles and golden skin, indicating he was probably of some Mediterranean descent, he was one of the hottest men to ever be roaming the Earth. And seeing him shirtless, despite the fact it was in the middle of a battlefield, his chiseled chest open to display, was something to cherish. Shade, according to what little I knew of him, never walked around shirtless.

However, when my eyes locked on the fact he was bleeding from a gunshot in the middle of his abdomen, I cursed and threw the bandages aside. “Shade,” I said softly as I straddled him, putting my hands on both side of the injury, “I’m going to take the bullet out and you’re going to let me.”

At my voice, he stirred. His eyes were still close. “Luxford?” he spoke roughly, tiredly.

I smiled in relief. He was still conscious if he could hear me and actually talk back. “The other Luxford,” I informed him. Daphne and I had similar voices. “Now do as I said. When I finish counting to three, I want you to stop breathing. I need to make sure the bullet didn’t punctuate a lung. Okay?”

He nodded briefly and I counted to three. At three I felt him tense, and I squeezed the outlines of his injury. I could see him gritting his teeth as I saw more blood coming out of his bullet wound. I winced. It must’ve hurt like a bitch.

It wasn’t working. The bullet was too deep. “Exhale,” I ordered and he did so. “The bullet is too deep for that to work. I don’t think it touched a lung, but I don’t want to take any chances. I’m going to heal most of your internal injuries now, at least closing them so you can function before I can bring you back to the Pack House and operate on you to get the bullet lodges inside out. Capiche?”

Shade didn’t reply vocally, just gave a slight nod. I grew worried, but forced myself to focus on the task at hand. This was going to require more healing energy than before. This would be a life-saving healing at play, and since I’d been healing for few hours in a row, I had a feeling my unusual amount of magical power would eventually run out. But that was a notion not to be thought about.

Putting my hands on the bullet wound, I closed my eyes and drew magic from inside of me from the core that was my healing magic. The core, theoretically, sat in the pit of my stomach, and whenever I drew power from it consciously to heal greater wounds, my stomach squeezed almost in discomfort. It didn’t matter, though. Shade was in serious trouble.

Drawing from the core, I felt the magic zinging through my blood, electric as it slid down my arms and into my palms. Then I let it out, and the magic did its thing, fixing the internal bleeding, seeking every injury whether superficial or not, healing bruises, healing some small broken bones in Shade’s body. It was an extensive outlet of magic that would leave me spent, but if I could heal Shade, the Gamma of the Millennium, he would be able to put an end to the fight. He was strong enough at least to hold them back until backup came, if not beat them all, and if Zack was out here somewhere, still on his feet, they both could pummel into them like bulldozers. Or so I hoped.

The healing magic kept on coming, because there was so much damage done to Shade, and my healing told me it wasn’t just from this fight. When he was completely fixed up, my magic found its way around his body, to his back, on which he was no longer lying. There were scars there, scars I felt with my magic but never saw before, scars my magic sought to heal, scars I wanted to let my magic heal –

“Do not heal them, Luxford.”

His voice was directly in front of me, low and growly, threatening, warning, aimed against me. Then I felt his hands on the skin of my back and I realized I was still straddling him... only he was sitting up now, completely healed despite the bullet still tucked inside of him.

“Let the magic go, Luxford,” he said, voice dropping even farther into danger territory. I shivered, refusing to open my eyes, refusing to stop the magic from coming. “You’re exhausted as it is. Healing them would knock you out. Cut the connection to your magic core and open your eyes.”

His voice was authoritative, and that was what I needed to hear. Sighing, I draw my magic back, shoving it back inside the core, then felt myself slumping against his naked chest, while still naked myself. I would’ve been embarrassed at our compromising position had I not been completely spent, like I’d suspected I would be.

He froze, then said harshly, “Open your eyes, Luxford. Don’t pass out. I need you standing so I can return you back to the Pack House.”

I’d never heard him talking so much before. Shade was a man of few words. “You’re talking,” I found myself mumbling, almost unintelligibly. That was it. Exhaustion turned me mad. “You’re talking way too much...”

“Luxford – “ he began.

I cut him off. “Don’t call me Luxford like I’m some weird stranger,” I slurred, then, using all my strength, I pushed against his chest so I could straighten myself. I opened my eyes. “I have a name, you know. It’s Daisy – “ I stopped at once.

My eyes widened as they locked onto Shade’s also broad ones. He seemed shocked, and the moment my eyes caught sight of those hypnotizing jungle irises of his, something snapped inside me. Something crucial.

As the war raged around us, Shade and I looked into each other’s eyes, me completely naked and straddling him, and him completely motionless, and felt as the knowledge hit us both almost at the same time.

Mate... He’s my mate... Mine...

Oh no.

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