Bryan County was nothing short of a western movie scene. The main road of town was a little over fifteen miles from point to point. Nestled in between were small mom and pop stores, mixed among houses of every shape and size.
Overall, it was more of a village than a town. June had never seen a place so small, even the complex and Ashby were double, if not triple, in size. Which is why it made it the perfect hideout. June would bet she and Creed were the first werewolves to ever cross the border.
Neither of them said anything as they watched the town pass by. Something eerie laid in the air. There were only a few other cars on the street despite it only being eight in the evening.
“Our motel should be close,” June said, breaking the saturated silence. She shifted in her seat, not taking her eyes off the road ahead, not even for a second. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something was underway.
Creed nodded, “I’m going to drop you off and go scout out the farms.”
“Are you kidding me?” June asked incredulously, she shook her head, “I’m coming with you.”
The gamma let out a long exhale, “We don’t even know if there’s anything out here worth seeing, Luna. For all we know, Lena may have moved on.”
“And your point is what?” June retorted, “I’m still not sitting in a motel twiddling my thumbs, waiting on you to get back. This is our mission. We’re in this together.”
“Just give me an hour,” Creed pleaded, “I need to know that no one is waiting for our arrival. It’ll put my wolf at ease to know you aren’t in harms way.”
June’s lips pursed as she mulled over his words. It was strange to have Creed go from wanting to kill to needing to protect her. Figuring he wouldn’t drop the subject, June gave in, “Fine, but only for an hour. If you’re not back by then I’m going out on my own.”
Creed let out a grunt and five minutes later, they were pulling up to a shack of a motel. June climbed out of the car and shuddered as icy cold raindrops touched her skin. As Creed pulled away, she found shelter a foot away, the motel office. Above her head, the bell on the door rang, announcing her arrival.
A woman who reminded her of Rosie sat behind the front desk. Her eyes stayed locked on the book in front of her as she spoke dryly, “No vacancy.”
June’s brow shot up as she looked over her shoulder to the empty parking lot as she said, “I guess it’s good I already book my rooms online. I need to check in, please.”
The employee let out a huff and slammed her book closed. She glared at June as she stood up, going to the key peg on the back wall. “Name?”
“June Holloway,” She answered in a clipped tone. Genesis growled at the blatant disrespect, not caring that the woman was human. June’s clenched her jaw to keep her wolf in check, reminding her that they weren’t at home.
“Holloway, you said?” The woman asked as she turned around a smidge of a smile on her painted red lips. She set two sets of keys on the desk, pushing them across the counter.
“Yeah,” June nodded slowly and took the keys. She didn’t stick around to have a conversation and all but fled from the office. The hair on the back of her neck stood up until she could no longer feel the woman’s eyes on her.
After circling the motel twice, unable to shake the feeling that she was being watched, June finally found her room. Her hands shook as she slipped the key into the lock and turned. Once she was inside, June put her back to the wall, staying out the way of the drawn open windows. It took her a moment to calm down to lock the door and shut the curtains. Still, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t alone.
Needing to hear something other than the blood rushing through her veins, she sat on the bed and opened her connection to her mate, Donovan?
Baby? Is something wrong?
Nothing it’s just, June started but stopped. She didn’t want to worry Donovan over nothing. I wanted to tell you we made it. Creed went to scout out the farms.
Donovan growled, He left you alone?
I’m at the motel, she reassured, her eyes went to the window as the room was filled with light. Slowly, June stood up, her brows furrowed as she recalled the empty parking lot. At the window, she pulled the curtain back a smidge and froze.
In the parking lot was now a beat up pick up. Pilling out the doors were a group of men. Even without her advanced sight, June could have seen their shotguns that they didn’t try to hide. Her breath caught in her throat as the woman from the front desk scurried towards them. She saw their lips move and then she raised a stubby finger, pointing it right at June.
Oh, shit, June thought, not meaning to send it through the mind link. She didn’t have to dwell on it as she dropped to her knees as one of the men raised their gun. A second later, the silent night was ripped in half. Her ears were ringing as glass rained down, cutting her skin that instantly healed.
June? Donovan asked, his voice frantic. She knew without having to ask that he was now tapping into her emotions. What’s going on?
They were expecting us, she answered, sticking to the floor as she attempted to crawl to the bathroom. She prayed to the goddess there was a window in there. Just as her hand brushed the knob, the wood beside her head exploded as a bullet sank into the wood.
“What’s wrong, bitch?” A voice from behind taunted, “At least fight back before you die.”
June didn’t respond to either him or to Donovan who was screaming in her head. She pulled the bathroom door open and slipped inside, locking it behind her. It wouldn’t hold them out, but it was a start. Unfortunately, it was all she had, too. There was no escape.
Donovan, they’re hunters, June finally said as her panic rose. She knew their type well. They wouldn’t stop until she was either dead or they were dragging her from the room. What do I do? I don’t know what to do.
Baby, breathe, the alpha commanded, putting power behind his words.
June tried but a pounding on the door had her screaming instead. Her back went to the counter as the thin wood splintered. On the other side, she could hear someone grunting. They were breaking it down, literally.
You have to let them take you, Donovan said, making June freeze with shock.
You heard me, June. Lena must have known we were coming and sent them after you. I know you’re scared, baby, but if you fight them…they will try and kill you. Buy yourself some time. Dalia and I are on the way right now.
I don’t think I have a choice, June responded, her eyes on the crack beneath the door. White smoke was coming from under it, filling the air with a stale smell. She had only smelt it once before, in asylum, but this time, the wolfsbane gas had a much different effect on her.
In her head, Genesis went down at the same time as her. As her wolf fell, June did, too. Her hand slipped off the counter and the room went sideways. Her head hit the ground with a crack, stars danced in her eyes. An hour or a second could’ve passed when the door finally opened. Her eyes saw a pair of leather boots and without warning, they met her temple. The last thing she heard was the panicked voice of her mate and then he was gone, replaced with a void of black nothing.
June woke up slowly, knowing she had been out for a long time. It took a moment for her to open her eyes. Her head was heavy as she lifted it, trying to make something, anything, in the darkness out. Instead, all she saw was pitch black. When she tried pulling Genesis forward to help her out, the wolf wasn’t here. Instead, June was met with a total and absolute emptiness.
Without thinking, June attempted to wipe the tears welling in her eyes only to find that she couldn’t move. Her eyes went above her head where her hands were. Two, heavy-duty shiny shackles adorned her wrist like bracelets. A chain strung through a ring held her arms up. She wouldn’t even be able to stand without dislocating a shoulder, or both.
June attempted to pull on it, at least to see if it was somewhat loose, but stopped when she heard something shuffle across the room. It took a second for her eyes to adjust but when they did, she froze. Across the way, with their back to the wall was a hunched figure. Sitting next to them was a book, one had once seen through eyes that weren’t her own.
Her mouth felt like cotton as she called out, “Clark?”
The figure folded in on itself and moved closer to the wall. Instead of answering with words, they hissed, “Shh!”
“Don’t shush me,” June seethed, her brows pulling together. She tried again, “Look, I’m looking for somebody, a man, named Clark. You’re either him or you’re not.”
The figure’s head snapped up and June flinched. She could vaguely make out his features. His cheeks were hollow, and his hair was longer, unruly but not like Donovan’s. From Marigold’s memory, June remembered it being dirty blonde but now, it was white and almost as pale as his skin that lacked any color expect two bright blue eyes. If not for them or his long, narrow nose, June would have thought he was an entirely different person.
“If I say yes will you shut up?” Clark seethed, craning his head.
June followed his gaze, seeing a pair of rickety steps. On the top landing was a door where very little light bled into the room. She stared at it longer than necessary, trying to listen for voice or footsteps but without her wolf, she may as well be human again.
But that didn’t mean she was helpless. Looking down, she let out a sigh of relief. The hunters hadn’t messed with her necklace, thank the goddess.
“Who are you?” Clark whispered when the door remained shut. His eyes cut across the room, locking on hers. “And what are you? They only save those cuffs for non-humans.”
“My name is June,” She answered and realized there was no point in hiding the truth, “I’m a werewolf…like Marigold, or, as you know her by, Maggie.”
Clark froze and when he spoke, his voice quavered, “Y-you know Maggie?”
June nodded, surprised with how effortlessly he accepted the truth without question, “I know her and her brother, just like I know Lena is keeping you here.”
“Maggie’s alive,” Clark muttered as if confirming it to himself. After a moment, he asked, “So she’s…not-“
“Human?” June shook her head, laughing once, “No, Clark, she’s not nor she never was. Lena isn’t either, but I think you already knew that, huh?”
Clark’s swallow could’ve been heard around the room. He looked away, his eyes on the wall as he shook his head, “She’s everywhere, you know? Soon after I was dumped in this room, I started having dreams and she was always in them. In them… I was doing things, terrible things. It took me a while to realize she was the reason behind it. I don’t know how or why but I knew. And then, when they brought it that a man that constantly growled, it clicked. I was always into mythology. Emphasis on myth. Imagine finding out the monsters from your storybooks are real.”
June scoffed, “There have always been monsters, Clark. Humans are nothing more than the byproduct. It’s always been their world; we’ve just been living in it.”
His brows tight, making his eyes looked bigger, “You talk as if you aren’t one of them.”
The comment made her lips quirk. It seemed like so long ago when she was on his side of the fence, staring at Dani through the asylum bars. After a moment, she spoke, “I wasn’t until just recently. It’s a long story.”
Clark’s eyes went to her hands, “Neither of us are leaving anytime soon.”
It took June about an hour tell her entire life story. Once, she started, it was hard to stop, like a dam breaking open, everything came spilling out.
“So, let me get this right,” Clark said, pinching the bridge of his nose, “Your cousin shot you and you forgave her even after she left you for dead?”
June’s lips twitched, “That’s the part your going to focus on? Not the fact that I used to be a hunter or that I’m a living prophecy of a Greek goddess?”
Clark shrugged, and leaned his head against the wall, “I guess I’m just over the-“
He stopped talking without warning. For a second, June was sure he had heard something but then he leaned over started to cough. Choking was all June heard. She pulled on the chains, “Clark! Clark!”
June winced when he held a hand up revealing a bloody palm. When he looked back up, drops of blood drizzled from the corner of his mouth and fell like drops of water. Her eyes followed it, and, for the first time, she noted that at least half of his shirt was covered in old stains.
Clark clutched his side in agony as he pushed himself back up into a sitting position, wheezing for air. His eyes were half-closed as he groaned, “I’m okay now.”
“Bullshit,” June snapped, not expecting how her eyes watered, “What’s wrong with you?”
“My best guess is a burst appendicitis,” Clark groaned weakly, eyes closed. Despite his words, there was a small smile on his face, “At least when I die, I’ll be out of this hole.”
“No, no,” June bit out, “You can’t die. Marigold has been waiting for you for two fucking years, Clark. Are you really just going to give it up?”
His eyes cracked open. Somehow, even his face had grown paler, “I’m already dead, June. Unless you’re a doctor or something, it’s over for me.”
“It doesn’t have to be,” She muttered and then louder, “I can save you.”
June held his gaze, “I can turn you. Your body will heal itself and we’ll get out of here. It’s the only way you’re going to make it out alive.”
Clark was quiet for a drawn out second before asking, “What if I don’t want to be alive anymore? You don’t know half of what she did to me, June. The things I see when I close my eyes…God, I’m not stupid. There’s no getting over it.”
“I’m not going to pretend to know what happened here,” June told him softly, “But what I do know is that Marigold is still Lena’s prisoner. When all of this is over, she’s going to need you, Clark. You’re the only person who will understand. Don’t leave her in the dark, please.”
She wasn’t sure if her speech worked until he started making his way towards her. Clark practically crawled, making more noise than anything June had ever heard. She anxiously watched the door until he was suddenly there beside her, holding out his pale wrist.
“No, somewhere less obvious,” June said, her eyes going to his shirt, “Can you stand up?”
“I can try,” Clark wheezed and put a hand on her shoulder. June winced as he used her to pull himself right until he was able to grab onto the metal ring above her head.
“Lift up your shirt,” June told him and reached inside herself for a smidge of Genesis. Working through the muck was exhausting and body aching. June felt her mind was going to tear in two before she found a small piece of her wolf. With great concentration, she focused it on her canines. She was only able to get them out halfway and wasted no time burying them in his right side. She held the spot as long as possible, hoping it was enough to change him before pulling away. A patch of blood tainted the area but nothing that would be noticeable to Lena or the hunters.
“That’s it?” Clark asked, lowering himself back to the ground with shallow breaths.
“I’m pretty sure,” June answered, hoping he couldn’t hear the tremble in her voice.
But he did and she was surprised when instead of yelling or being mad, he put a hand on her throbbing shoulder, “If it doesn’t work, at least we tried. Just…just tell Maggie I don’t blame any of this on her. Being her friend was the happiest part of my life.”
“You’re not going to-” June started but stopped as the sound of heavy footsteps sounded, getting closer every second. She hissed to Clark, “Someone’s coming. Play dead.”
He fell sideways on the floor, covering his right side and snapping his eyes shut. June didn’t bother to do the same as the door opened, her eyes blinded by the sudden light. A man stood in the doorway, but she couldn’t see his face. Slowly, the descended the steps, stopping in front of her a moment later.
A large hand grabbed her face by the cheeks, jerking her head up so fast that her neck popped. June winced, making the man let out a booming laugh, one she recognized from the hotel, “Hi, darlin’. I’m glad you’re awake. Now…now we can play.”