Fever Claim

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Thirty Four

*Trigger Warning*

Judah

Running in our wolves is like a rush that you can't come down from. The feel of our muscles working and the feeling of freedom wafting through our furs are irresistible. Hunter had previously sent out trackers to the crash site. The vehicle that was transporting Bethany is now nothing more than a piece of metal in the ditch by the side of the country road.

It was hard to track a scent that has been dampened by the rain. There is barely anything left. No tracks and no scent. Yet our trackers have years of experience. We are natural predators in our wolf forms. Humans might be good hunters, but they are nothing compared to us.

From the report, the hunters have sought refuge in a nearby abandoned facility. The rainstorm has stopped them from continuing further. They had to hide and wait out the storm as well.

The slow transition of heavily wooded planes to clear planes forced us to shift into our human. The clothes that we brought with us were quickly put on in hiding. Crouching low, we looked at the facility. It looks uninhabited. Whatever life is left in the facility is now gone. The metal fenced gates were torn down and the front gates are wide open.

It doesn't take us very long to realize that the place is completely empty. Hunter didn't need to say it out loud. One look in Ace and my direction and we knew exactly what he was thinking. Either we are too late, and they have abandoned their hiding spot and moved on or they have successfully completed their mission and we are falling further behind them.

Nonetheless, the warriors spread out and did their initial examination as well as circling the facility and blocking all exits. Hunter, Ace, and I walked through the broken down front gate entrance and up the cemented driveway. Parking spots on either side of us.

When we reached the front entrance of the building, we heard a soft, barely audible moan. Someone sounded hurt and left behind. My friends and I exchanged a quick glance before Hunter opened the door.

We noticed right away the person laying on the ground, drenched in her own blood, weak and naked. Her eyes fluttered open when she heard the entrance door squeaked open. Although Bethany was a pack member who didn't understand her place and caused harmed to her pack member, to see her like this, it sickened me.

She had cuts all over her body that has caused her wounds to turn black. Between her bare legs, you can see that she was bleeding profusely. Her hair is a strewn mess and saturated in her own blood. Her lips were bloody like someone had slapped and abused her repeatedly.

Slowly, one by one the warriors appeared in a circle around the main floor. They all looked at her and although she has committed a crime, she was one of us. To see this kind of cruelty happen to anybody invokes a strange fury inside of us.

She turned onto her stomach with her hands outstretched towards us. Seeing a thick wool blanket hanging from the rail nearby us, I grabbed it and walked down the steps. I can hear Hunter and Ace following behind. I moved to wrap the blanket around her before lifting into my arms.

"What happened?" I asked.

"They tortured me for days," she whispered weakly.

"What did they want?" I asked further.

She shook her head, "I don't know."

Hunter crouched down on the ground next to me and Bethany's eyes moved to her former Alpha.

"Tell us, Bethany. This is important. What information were they trying to get out of you?" Hunter questioned.

"I never wanted any of this. I only wanted, "her eyes moved to me, "I only wanted you."

She coughed into her hands and the blood that she coughed out was black. She lifted her hand up to examine the blood. Then her lips lifted at one corner.

"They raped me for days. One after another. They never stopped, and when they didn't have enough strength, they used objects. They did- "Tears welled up in her eyes and spilled down her cheek the second she blinked.

"When they were inside me, they would cut me and beat me. I couldn't think. The pain was too much. They would break my fingers and bones and just before they could heal again, they would do it all over," she sobbed, and her body shook with an incomprehensible fear.

"It's ok. We will take you back to the pack. The doctors there will fix you up," Hunter assured her.

She shook her head and coughed some more. Blood spurted out of her mouth and she quickly covered her mouth with her hand. Shaking her head vigorously until her coughing spasms stopped.

"It's too late," she whispered, and her eyes glossed over with more unshed tears.

Bethany is in the same grade as Rosemary. She has good standing parents that provided well for her. When they heard of the things that she has done, they were quick to be disappointed even when they love her. It doesn't mean they wouldn't be upset when they hear about this. She was supposed to be protected when being transported to the authorities. Now, they will have to hear about what happened to her too. If it was my pup—my arms tightened around Bethany almost protectively at the thought of my own pup suffering through this.

"They cut me with knives coated with silver. The poison has compromised my system. I can feel it slowing everything down. I won't make it home," she mumbled, blinking a few times to keep her eyes opened.

Hunter moved to take hold of Bethany's cold hand in comfort. She looked at their connected hands and more tears welled up in her eyes. Her lips quivered, and her eyes moved to meet her Alpha's.

"They spoke in hushed tones most of the time, but I noticed their leader's name. His name is Baden. He kept questioning me about our packs. He asked about our numbers, strength, leaders, location, and everything that he needed to know to infiltrate.

Bethany's face flushed with guilt. Her eyes filled more with tears and they streamed down the corners of her eyes. She shook her head unable to speak any further.

"Did you tell them everything they wanted?" I asked the question I knew everyone is wondering.

The air is stricken with a dead silence while we waited for her response. Our fate depends on her answer. My mate is back at home in the packhouse unbeknownst of the impending threat or capability of this sadistic human hunter. I couldn't stop the rising panic inside of me. I shook her slightly to jerk her awake.

"Tell us what you have told him, Bethany." Hunter is having trouble holding back his temper. He wanted an answer but Bethany isn't completely lucid.

She closed her eyes and her head lulled back exposing her redden and bruised neck. They had choked her. I can see fingerprints and rope burns. Her body is weak and barely alive at this point.

"Baden came to me one night when everyone was asleep. That night the only thing that ran through my head is death. I wanted death so much because he did horrible things to me. He wanted to know—he wanted to know if there were two females that sought safety within our pack about fifteen to ten years ago," Bethany slurred. Her skin is ashen with the loss of blood and poison running through her veins.

My eyes shot up to look at Hunter and Ace. Everyone knew the answer to this. We are a close pack and rarely accept sanctuary. The only one was with my mate and her mother.

"What did you tell him?" I growled, my arms tightening harder around her slender form to an almost vice-like grip.

She is struggling to breathe at this point. Pushing me away from her. Her head is shaking back and forth. She is experiencing excruciating pain at this point with the silver taking its final blow to her organs and systems.

I released her and she dropped to the ground. Coughing up more thick and tarred blood. She collapsed onto the ground. One side of her face settling to the ground in exhaustion.

"Rosemary," she breathed her last breath. Her eyes were wide and lifeless.

Hunter and Ace stood up along with me. Hunter waved his hand for a pack warrior to carry Bethany's body back for burial before he turned to face me. Hunter and Ace are like brothers to me. They know what I am thinking even without saying it. Hunter's steps fell next to mine. Grabbing my arm, he forced me to stop my pursuit back home.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"Home," I growled.

"We don't know what is out there. We don't know what they are planning, nor do we understand the full potential of their powers, Jude. You can't just fucking walk back home without thinking. What if they are out there waiting for us right now? What if all along, they were here, and we never knew about it?" Hunter's eyes scanned the facility and open landscape before stopping on me again.

"Did you see what they did to Bethany? Imagine if that happens to your mother or your mate? What would you do? We are over here when they are at home. We can't fucking protect from here." I jerked my arm from him.

"You're right. We can't but you know that they aren't defenseless at home. There are warriors, guards, and my dad back at home. He will know what to do to keep them safe."

"They don't know what is heading their way. They don't know what we have seen, Hunter. It is best to run back home," Ace spoke up for the first time.

Hunter acknowledges our concerns but he knew the possible things we could be facing on our return. So, we left five warriors behind to scope the area out. Sent one to the werewolf authorities for back up and took the rest back to our territory. Bethany's body is taken to the authority for evidence by the warrior we sent for back up.

The run back home seemed like forever. My heart refused to sit still and with each passing second, it tightened just another inch more. My chest ached and my lungs feel like it refuses to breathe on its own. Fear has taken control of my rational mind. A picture of Rosemary's face appeared in my mind and the only thing I could think of is that it was too soon. We just started. I haven't had time to even show her how much I love her.

When we neared the territory, nothing was out of the ordinary. Hunter howled into the night sky, announcing our return. Another howl returned in rthe esponse from the nearest pack guard.

When we reached the packhouse and we were greeted with Hunter's parents along with mine and Beta Ace's. Shifting, we were tossed garments to put on. I pulled up an old athletic short and yanked on a sleeveless t-shirt before my eyes scanned the packhouse entrance further.

Galen stepped out followed by Rosemary's mother and Rosemary. Like magnetics, I watched her scan the crowds until her eyes found me. It remained there and I can see the relief glimmering her light russet-colored eyes. The wild urge to hold her quickened my footsteps until I am jogging up to her. Grabbing her shoulder roughly, I yanked her into my chest. She landed with a thump before her arms wrapped around my waist. I buried my nose in the curve of her neck. Soft tingles and warmth calmed my fear. I can breathe again but my heart refuses to stop beating rapidly in my chest.

While holding her, I knew without a doubt that I will do everything I can to protect her.

"We got trouble heading our way and I don't know how much time we have left," Hunter said from behind me.

Rosemary pulled away from me as much as she could. I still got her in a tight hold but we both turned to see Hunter's parents directing us back into the packhouse.

"Let's talk inside," Hunter's dad said with a nod.


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