It’s a feeling no one wants to feel. That unsettling, gut wrenching feeling that just won’t leave you alone, that’s fear. That’s what I feel as I run through the forest with the autumn air rushing through my hair. Celeste is all I think about as I dodge trees and jump over logs. A blood curdling scream echoes through the air causing birds to squawk and fly off.
I freeze in place as I recognize it as Celeste’s scream. She actually did it. A few seconds later my phone goes off, snapping me out of my trance. “What?” I snap angrily into the speaker. I don’t have time for this right now. “Austin, it’s going to kill her!” The panicked voice of Eve filters into my ears as she yells. “I don’t have time for this, Eve.” I go to hang up when her frantic calls stop me. “It’s Celeste, she’s here and she’s going to die.” My heart beat seems to slow down as I drop the phone and bolt through the forest. I’m quick to shed my clothes and collect them though before I do.
As I run, different questions fill my mind.She went to Eve? Do they know each other? Why didn’t Eve call me earlier? I stop my thoughts from running wild when I hear yet another scream. This one was worse than the last. I push my legs to move faster as the cozy little cabin comes into view. I only stop to shift and pull on my pants from my slobbery jaws.
I start to slow down as Celeste comes into my line of sight. She looks so broken resting up against the tree, her breathing shallow as her eyes struggle to remain open. Next my eyes land on the witch from before, the one who tried to take my mate. “You!” I snapped at him, low growls emitting from my chest. “What did you do?”
As I make my way closer to the fear filled witch, his scent makes its way to my nose. The mysterious smell sending off warning bells in my head. It’s a smell I recognize very well. “You’re the one who took her, the second scent we picked up while tracking.”
He takes a step back, hands in the air as a sign of surrender. “I was only doing what she would’ve done for me. Besides, I needed to talk to her, and you never would’ve let me near her.” He stays calm while I’m still raging in front of him. “You’re a filthy witch who tried to take her away. Of course, I wouldn’t want you near her.”
A whistle sounds from behind me then a soft, yet angry voice speaks up. “Uh, hello? Thatfilthy witch is my cousin, so be nice or kiss my protection spells goodbye.” Eve glares harshly at me before her eyes flicker behind me. “Austin.” The sound of Celeste’s fragile voice snaps me back to the situation at hand.
I make my way past Cal and to Celeste’s side, pulling her into my lap as I sit on the ground. “Celeste, darling? Stay awake for me.” I whisper as her eyes flutter shut then open again. Her red eyes looking dull and lifeless as black rings engulf them. Her usually perfectly tan skin is ghostly pale. “Celeste, my pack is on their way with the doctor, just stay awake for me.” She doesn’t respond. Instead her eyes just scan over my face like nothing is wrong.
Her eyes have unshed tears brimming the corners. I couldn’t help but stare with admiration. Even on the verge of death she has to be tough. My tough little angel, never showing weakness, always being strong. I don’t even realize a tear has slipped down my cheek until her small hand reaches up and her thumb wipes it away. Her cracked, pale lips part to speak. “Shh, Austin. Chin up, eyes open. No tears shed and no hearts broken.”
Her eyes fall shut for another time but this time they stay that way. She had used her remaining strength to try and comfort me. Panic rises within as I struggle to hear her heart. “No, no, no! Celeste, wake up!” I lift her head up by placing my hand behind her neck and head, pulling it forward to try and hear any breathing. Her breathes shallow and light, barely there.
“Where’s the doctor!” I scream as my Beta comes to my line of sight. As if on cue, the doctor comes running out of the forest with some of my warriors flanking to his left and right. He runs up and sets his bag down before kneeling in front of me. “What’s happened, Alpha?” He takes her vitals, waiting for me to speak. “She forced herself to shift while her wolf was restricted. She shifted half way before passing out.”
He nods, taking in every word before trying to take her from my arms. An involuntary growl slips from my lips as I pull her closer. The doctor, Dr. Greene, halts his movements. “I need you to let her go, Alpha. I need to help her.” My grip doesn’t falter as I try desperately to set her down. Logically I know he just wants to help and that she’s safe, but a part of me, the more animalistic side of me, doesn’t want her out of arms while in this state. I need her in my arms to keep her safe.
“No, I have to keep her away from the danger.” I growl again, pulling her body to my chest as I hold her head in the crook of my neck. “Austin, she is safe. The only thing dangerous to her right now is you. Let her go or she won’t get the help she needs.” Dr. Greene asks, pleading with me to set her down.
A small whimper leaves my lips at the thought of injuring my mate even more. She was already in this predicament because of me, I didn’t want to worsen it. So, I do as he says and slowly lower her to the grassy floor. Her beautiful black hair spreads across the shortly trimmed grass.
“Thank you.” The doctor mumbles lowly while continuing his assessment of Celeste’s state. “She needs to finish shifting or we’ll lose her.” He speaks softly to himself, digging around in his bag. “How do we get her to shift?” I ask to which he releases a stress filled sigh.
“I don’t know, Alpha. A forced shift is different for everyone. Some just need an extra kick of adrenaline while others need to feel a certain emotion.” He runs his hand through his hair while he tries to think of something to save his Luna. “Did she mention anything to about how she was going to shift?” I shake my head no before turning my attention back to Celeste.
“She wanted to feel angry.” A quiet voice speaks up from behind Dr. Greene, the male witch stepping forward as he stares down at my mate. “What?” I ask, watching as he leans down and rests on his knees. “Anger. That’s what she told me. When she was younger, she was forced to shift because her wolf was mad.”
The doctor goes wide eyed at his statement. “She forced a shift when she was a pup?” He nods slowly. “A rogue had almost killed her, well itdid kill her. As she was taking her last breath, her wolf got mad at her for not wanting to survive and took over. Her human side was dormant until she was 16.”
“Well, then we need to kill her.” My eyes go wide at the doctor’s words and I have him pinned to the ground within seconds. “You will not touch her.” I whisper darkly and Dr. Greene visibly gulps, swallowing the fear building up before speaking. “Alpha, I only want to do what’s best for my Luna and if my suspicions are correct, her wolf will finish shifting before her heart can actually stop. Her wolf is obviously strong and doesn’t plan on letting her human die.” I slowly get off him, letting his words sink in. “And you’re sure she’ll survive?” He nods quickly while sitting up, scooting a few feet away from me.
“Fine.” I force the word out, it comes out as more of a growl. “Do what you have to.” I go back to resting by Celeste’s side and he goes back to digging in his medical bag. Pulling out a syringe and a vile of clear liquid, he fills not even a quarter of the syringe before coming closer to Celeste. “What is that?” I ask as the horrible smell wafting off the needle hits my nose. “Wolfsbane with a dash of silver. She’s weak enough that just this small amount will stop her heart.” A lump forms in my throat as my wolf itches to grip onto Celeste and never let go. “Will this hurt her in the long run?”
“Of course not, Alpha. The shift will force the wolfsbane out of her system.” Taking a second to think, I give him a curt nod and he injects the horrible liquid into her blood stream. Her body starts to convulse within seconds and the doctor begins to yell at me, telling me to hold her down. “She’ll hurt herself if we can’t keep her still.” I hold down her shoulders while he and Cal keep a tight hold on her legs.
It takes a few minutes before her body finally settles down and the cracks and pops of her body rearranging are heard. “Stand back. Once she shifts, she’ll be feral as she tries to find a threat.” Her eyes open wide as she jumps up to rest on all fours. Her back arches, the bones of her spine twisting and popping. The movement is visible through her thin t-shirt. Grey fur sprouts out as her skin tears along with her clothes.
In no time a giant dark grey wolf stands in front of me, shaking out her fur after stretching. Scars litter her body, the only speckle of color being the small splatter of white dots coating her left thigh. Her red eyes rimmed with gold scan her surroundings before stopping on the unfamiliar group of people watching her every move.
She crouches close to the floor, letting out a warning growl as she stares at my warriors in caution. “Celeste?” I call out, gaining her attention. She growls lowly, trying to convey that she isn’t the small girl I’ve gotten to know over the last few days. “What’s your name?”
I call out softly, taking small steps towards her. I smile in relief when she lets me get closer.“Cat.” Her voice echoes in my head as I walk. She begins to circle me a few times before finally resting in front of me. She refuses to move her eyes away from the group ahead of us. “It’s okay, Cat. They’re our pack. They won’t hurt you.”
I place my hand on the top of her head, stroking her surprisingly soft fur, calming her tense nerves.“So, you are the one that blocked me from my human?” She turns her head slightly, her hard gaze never leaving my eyes. “I’m sorry about that, I regret it deeply.”
“So, your wolf has told me.”She replies slyly, turning her head back to my warriors.“It’s okaythough. You did it for the safety of your pack. Besides, you had no way of knowing how much Celeste actually needed me.” I release a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. My relief is short lived as my breath gets stuck in my throat from the harsh glare being sent my way. She stands on all fours with her teeth on display as she growls lowly.“But if you ever come between me and Celeste again, I will not hesitate to kill you. Mate or not, you have no idea what she has been through. She can’t function without my support so leave me and her be if you want to keep her as a mate.”
“I won’t come between you again. I’ve learned what happens when I do, and I don’t wish to have that pain inflicted on her again.” She nods her giant wolf head in satisfaction before resting down by my feet. “Cat, when can I have Celeste back?” Her eyes close and for a second, I think she’s fallen asleep until her exhausted voice plays in my head again.
“She’s resting. I’ll be stuck in wolf form for at least a week, replenishing her strength until she’s no longer dormant. Once she is fully healed, I will let her have control.”I nod to myself, soaking in all the information and before I know it, she’s fallen asleep curled in a ball at my feet. Oddly enough, her sleeping form reminds me of a kitten curled up for warmth.
Sighing out, I send my men back to the pack as I bend down and stroke my mate’s fur. I give her a kiss to the forehead before shifting myself and lifting her five-foot frame onto my own six-foot frame. I carry her on my back as I start the walk back to my home.
I stop for a second though to talk to the witch cowering behind me.“Are you coming or what?” I ask through a mind link between us. “Seriously?” He asks, eyes wide as he stares at me.“Well, I have some questions, you have the answers, and Celeste wouldn’t like it very much if I denied her the right to see her friend.” His mouth that was currently hanging open snaps shut as he starts walking behind me. He follows my lead as I make my way through the bundle of trees around us.