Some Secrets Can't Be Hidden
“That’s impossible.” I said. The Spartan Pack had been gone for years. Everyone knew the story of the Spartans that went to war with the Packs under our rule. They were once the most coveted warriors in our society, you couldn’t find a better army to have on your side, but then they rebelled. The war decimated their ranks and now they lived only in the annals of our history. And this girl was supposed to be a one of them?
“It should be impossible.” My dad whispered. I’d never seen him like this. He looked worried, afraid. “Who are you? Where did you come from? Why are you here?” His voice was urgent and forceful. His eyes flashed to their werewolf gold and I was worried I’d have a murdered girl in front of me soon.
“Larken Harding said her name was Asenna.” I told my dad. I felt like a failure for not having more information before bringing her into the city. What was I thinking? I might have endangered the whole pack by letting this rogue into our territory. “I shouldn’t have brought her here, I’m sorry dad.”
He stepped close to me, keeping his eyes trained on the silver-haired girl. “You say she fought off the three of you?”
“Yes, sir.” I confirmed.
“But I see you still managed to take your pound of flesh.” He said with smug pride. Great. Even more guilt.
I looked at the girl in front of us. Dirt and blood were smeared over her body. I could see the visible gashes on her legs just starting to heal, the rest of her was covered, but I could imagine the damage done to her back- all because she chose to protect one of our own instead of herself.
“Actually, dad,” I started, whispering into his ear. “Larken got mixed up in the fight. She covered him when we attacked.” I paused, ashamed and embarrassed. “We only got to her because she let us.”
I watched her carefully. She was standing but tensed in a defensive position. The jacket that covered her was short enough that I could see the musculature of her thighs and calves. Our kind were naturally fit, but damn- this girl was raw muscle. Beneath the odor of the wilderness, I could faintly smell the aroma of honey and lavender coming from her. Her light hair was tangled and matted, falling around her body in erratic tendrils. But what struck me the most were those eyes. They were strange and haunting, rimmed with sapphire and crackling with electricity. Those same blue eyes had stared at me from her icy white wolf- the only blue eyes I had ever seen in our wolf forms. And it just so happened that those eyes were staring at me now with more hatred than I had ever witnessed.
“She defended him?” My dad asked tentatively.
“It’s not my fault your kid was too preoccupied with attacking me to notice the brat.” Asenna sneered.
My father and I were both taken aback. I had never heard someone talk to my father and me like that, and about myself no less.
“Well, I see someone will need an education on manners and respect.” My dad noted. “Miss... Asenna, was it? While you are in my presence, you will conduct yourself respectfully and address me as Alpha, and my son as Alpha Prince.” Her lip curled and I could’ve sworn I heard her snarl. My father considered her for a moment, then looked to my two best friends. “Bryce, Soren, would you please escort our new guest to a room and have the staff fetch her some clothes so she can… freshen up a bit?” By the way my dad’s nose was wrinkled and his tight smile, I could tell it wasn’t a suggestion.
“Yes, Alpha.” They said in unison before placing their hands on Asenna’s back to steer her towards her new lodgings. I couldn’t help but notice her flinch at their touch and a new wave of guilt washed over me.
“Ryker,” My father said as he placed a hand on my shoulder, “come with me.”
He brought me into his office- a warm, dimly lit room with shelves overflowing with books and artifacts. He sat in his large leather chair behind his desk and clasped his hands in front of his mouth as if he was pondering a deep-seated problem.
“What’s up dad?” I asked as I sunk down into one of the chairs across from him. “You never let rogues stay in the city, so what are you planning?”
His brown eyes crinkled a bit and he chuckled. “You know me too well, son.” He sat forward and placed his arms on the desk, readying himself for what I was sure was going to be an interesting talk.
“I don’t think she’s a rogue.” He said.
“How could she not be? You’ve seen her- she’s wild. There’s no way she’s part of a pack.” I argued.
“Oh, no, she is definitely not in a pack.” He agreed cryptically.
I held my hands out in frustration. “So then please, enlighten me as to how she’s not a wild, untrustworthy rogue.”
“Rogues have to have a pack to run away from.”
My dad was really starting to piss me off. I gave him a look as if to say “And?”
“She doesn’t have a pack to run away from, Ryker. The Spartans are dead and gone. She’s the only one left.” His voice was distant, and his mind seemed to be somewhere far away.
“Dad, there’s no way that a Spartan could have survived the war. She had to have been a kid when it happened. She couldn’t have made it through the battle, let alone the last eight years alone.” A pup surviving without a pack for protection, food, or companionship? It was unheard of.
“She shouldn’t have.” My dad conceded. “And yet, here she is.”
“How do you know she’s a Spartan? I mean really know.” I still wasn’t buying it. That girl? A Spartan? She really didn’t measure up to the stories I’d read and heard. She was a far cry from the warrior wolves of our history books.
“Well, for starters she took three of our best wolves on and lived to tell about it.” He said. I couldn’t help but turn red at the mention of it. It wasn’t every day I was bested, let alone by a she-wolf. “Then the eyes…”
“They’re blue, so what?” I shrugged.
“They stay blue, don’t they? When she phases.”
I was quiet. My father took my silence as conformation and smiled to himself in satisfaction.
“The Spartans were one of the very few packs that carried that gene. It’s a rare anomaly of our kind.” He was proud of himself for knowing more than me. I was always trying to show him I wasn’t just some dumb pup anymore- I was 23 for Goddess’ sake-but I never seemed to measure up to him. “But the brand is the most convincing. That was the sacred mark of the Spartans. Pack members received the brand on their tenth birthday, a sort of rite of passage.”
I couldn’t deny the absolute clarity of that scar on Asenna’s shoulder. It was plain as day and obviously not misplaced or accidentally inflicted. That upward pointing arrowhead was placed there with purposeful intent.
My dad abruptly stood and pulled an old, tattered leather-bound book from the shelves. He rifled through the pages and slapped it down in front of me. It was an illuminated manuscript with a large, ornately designed wolf bearing the Spartan brand on its shoulder. Could Asenna really be a Spartan? The idea seemed ludicrous. But still, a lot of the signs lined up.
“So, what do we do?” I asked as I leaned back in my chair. “She’s not a part of the pack, we can’t force her to stay, and I don’t see her as the type to stick around.”
“I’m inclined to encourage her to stay- for a while at least.” My dad said. He was up to something alright. “The Spartans were known for their impeccable fighting ability, militaristic lifestyle, and their…” he paused, thinking of what the right words could be. “Intriguing training techniques.”
“So, you want to…?” I trailed off, giving him the opportunity to fill me in.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment. I was testing his patience, but could he get on with it?
“I want you to get to know her, get close to her.” He said, meeting my eyes evenly. “Make her trust you. The closer you get to her, the more you will learn from her. Get her to teach you her pack’s ways.”
He had to be kidding. “You want her to teach me?” Did he not have any faith in me at all? “Dad I don’t need her to teach me anything! I’m the best fighter in our pack!”
“If you were the best, she wouldn’t have been able to lay a paw on you.” His voice was as cold as steel. My mouth sealed shut and I lowered my eyes as I gritted my teeth. I hated when he treated me like the second best of everything. No matter how long or hard I trained I would never be as good as he wanted me to be. “You can learn more from that girl than just how to fight.” My dad said as he stood and reached toward the shelves again.
“Like what?” I asked, genuinely curious.
With a flash of frightening light, my father planted the tip of a shining dagger into the old book right in front of me. I gulped, staring at my reflection in the lethal, toxic blade. The hilt was finely bound in leather that was etched with delicate filigree. The weapon was beautiful, but my skin crawled just being near it. My dad leaned in close, his eyes locking onto mine.
“Spartans,” He said with reverent excitement, “are immune to silver.”