Maniacal voices swamped her mind, forming the turbulent background noise. Gemma was breathing, but only just. The antidote that had been forced down her throat was mitigating the pain that burned through her veins like acid. As the pain ebbed away, the air returned to her lungs in abundance, finding herself able to relax from where she lay clutching her throat on the forest floor.
Her Alpha, Alec White had been telling the truth all along. The potion she swallowed did exactly what he promised it would do. She had been saved from the clutches of death with only moments left to spare.
Gemma opened her eyes, searching the scene before her and finding the world upsidedown in an ocean of stars and sky. The silvery light of the moon was partially hidden behind the most delicate band of clouds, like an inky-blue veil encrusted with sparkling diamonds. Gemma rolled to her side, scrambling to her hands and knees and unable to muster enough strength to stand. Her chest heaved with ragged breaths, still unable to believe that she was alive.
Erabus spoke in a mocking tone, “Do you really think you stand a chance against me?” The vampire lord's eyes narrowed as he advanced towards the Luna, Leah White. “Did you really think I would pass up the opportunity to raise my weapon from infancy, to mold and shape him into something magnificent?” His lack of patience was exemplified by his clipped tone. “It's in your best interests to comply, She-Wolf. That way, I will see to it that no harm shall befall you. But should you resist, then you will feel the full extent of my wrath. I lay the choice at your feet, young Luna. So, what’ll it be?” He began folding back the sleeves of his shirt, stopping before the crease of his elbows.
“I’ll take my chances,” Leah replied, through clenched teeth.
Gemma didn’t want to watch the exchange between them, but she couldn’t seem to divert her eyes.
She saw the Luna clench her fists, bravely. Although, Gemma could see the fear that quivered behind her chocolate-brown eyes. She knew Leah was no fighter, but still, there she was prepared to die fighting rather than risk succumbing to a fate far worse than death. Erabus intended to steal her child as well as her mate, the Alpha. They were descendants of an ancient lycan bloodline, and Erabus sought to use them both as weapons.
Gemma watched through terrified eyes as her Alpha fought off four pure-blooded vampires at once. They circled him, caging him in, lunging, biting, pulling at his fur-covered limbs, cutting him off from protecting his mate. Gemma wanted to cry out in anguish but her throat was painfully raw. She was confused and disoriented, her loyalties conflicted. She loved the Vampire Lord, Erabus, or so she thought she did. She was pregnant with his child, after all.
He had courted her in secret after being part of her life since the age of twelve, although, he hadn’t shown any romantic interest in her until her eighteenth birthday. In being with him, she had forsaken her fated mate. She knew this, but her feelings for the Vampire Lord were not something she could understand—as much as she tried. The wolf inside of her whined, bound and chained in the back of her subconscious. The loyalties to her Alpha and to her pack had been forcibly severed, but not through any choice of her own.
Erabus struck the Luna first, delivering a sickening blow to her face. Gemma recoiled, helpless and frightened. Leah was taking quite a beating and Gemma could only look on hopelessly, convinced that the young Luna was surely done for.
“Is that the best you’ve got?” Erabus taunted. His acid tongue mocked the Luna, goading her to fight.
“Leah, catch!” Their mutual friend, a girl Gemma had grown close to during these past few weeks, Hannah Winterbourne, threw a gun to the Luna.
Leah jumped and caught it with one hand. Without a moment's hesitation, she took aim and pulled the trigger, sending a deafening shockwave throughout the clearing.
Gemma felt the hefty weight rip from her mind like she had been held underwater, struggling for air. All her painful memories came flooding back to her all at once as if the dam walls had burst around her. The magic that Erabus had weaved into her mind was draining away as quickly as his life essence seeped into the dry forest ground. The serum that was capsulated inside the bullet had been fired into his heart, exploding on impact and killing him within moments. Slowly, painfully, remorselessly. Good riddance, Gemma thought, darkly. He had robbed her of everything, and now there was no going back for her. She had sealed her fate the day her curiosity had led her to the edge of the border, to where she had first laid eyes on the predatory monster.
Gemma waited for death to embrace her, whether it be at the hands of the Alpha that she had forsaken, or the friend she’d betrayed, or the Luna who had more cause than any. It was the Luna's parents who she sold out to the vampires. It was Leah's life she had helped to destroy. Gemma felt that she didn’t deserve the mercy that Leah had shown to her, by simply banishing her from the pack. Even if it was only to spare the life of an innocent child. Leah Grayson was everything that Gemma was not. She didn’t deserve the Luna’s forgiveness, not when she could never in a million years learn to forgive herself.
As each pureblooded vampire dissolved into the ground, Gemma waited for her turn. The Alpha had indeed developed a serum capable of destroying a pure-blood and had leveled the playing field for all of mankind and shifters alike.
However, one vampire remained, choosing not to partake in the fight. His attention was focused firmly upon Gemma, his expression grave with worry. He moved with inhuman speed, dark and deadly. His neon yellow eyes were the first thing she noticed glowing amongst the shadows. With his complexion as pale as milk, his iridescent skin shimmered in the silvery light. His strong hands gripped her limp body, lifting her bridal style. Air and earth streaked past her as if she was being pulled through a time vortex, tearing her out of the forest and out of harm's way.