The Rise

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Chapter Fifty-Two

“I know you’re basking in this beauty, but aren’t you a bit confused about why she did this to him?” Valerio asked me, pulling me out of my trance

I grazed my fingers against the stone. Why did she decide to turn him to stone rather than our pack doctor? Maybe because they were working together. Maybe because Brett’s dad just annoyed the crap out of her. Really either reason could be true.

Brett’s dad did tend to get on everyone’s nerves.

As much as I enjoyed seeing him like this, I wondered if his wife knew. What was even worse than that--what would everyone say about this? There was no doubt that they would blame my wolves for it.

Humans tended to hate anything that they didn’t understand. Even if I tried to explain that it was another divine, they wouldn’t believe it for one second. They didn’t understand that other creatures, other forms of life like nature could worship another divinity.

I ran my hand through my hair, suddenly overwhelmed with anxiety. The hospital was going to come find us and find this if we didn’t come up with a believable excuse. They wouldn’t believe that Mother Nature was alive and she was angry about people messing with her.

Especially now that she is in Luca’s body - the body of a werewolf - everyone would just think that Mother Nature was a lame excuse for a rogue werewolf who turned people to stone. It would give everyone another excuse to lock us up.

“Find our doctor,” I told Valerio. “I need to--”

Someone from the outside jiggled the doorknob, and I almost had a heart attack. Brett’s mom walked in, brows furrowed together. When she saw Valerio and I, her eyes widened, then her gaze fell on Mr. Braxon. She shrieked and stepped toward him.

I guess they didn’t break up after all.

“Oh my god!” She was in complete shock. Her lips were moving but she wasn’t saying anything. “Wh-what hap-” She grabbed onto his hand, too tightly. The stone looked fragile itself, and I knew that she could break it, so I grabbed her and pulled her away from it before she could.

I didn’t need two people to turn to stone right now. Not only would that look bad for us, but I actually liked Mrs. Braxon. She might’ve talked bad about werewolves behind our backs but never did she say anything to me about them. I think she could sympathize with me a bit. Secretly, I think she had a soft spot for them. When I was a little girl, I swore I saw her staring almost lovingly at them. But, again, that was a while ago. Her opinion could’ve changed.

She yanked herself out of my grip. “Get off of me!” She turned to me and backed away slowly until her back hit the front door. “What did you do to him?”

I softened my gaze, trying to be nice with her. “I didn’t do this. I promise Mrs. Braxon. I would never do this to him no matter how much he had hurt me.”

Her lips quivered. Tears began rolling down her eyes. “Why did you do it?” she whispered, still not believing me.

I knelt next to her and stared up at her, trying to get her to believe me. I needed her on my side, especially if this made it on the news. She would be the only one able to quiet this down and divert the attention away from us.

“Please, believe me.” I bowed my head.

“Why would I believe you? You threatened him,” she said matter-of-factly.

My eyes widened slightly, remembering threatening him at the hospital. Goddamn, did I fuck up. I gently grabbed her hand. “I threatened him in order to save my species. I would never hurt him. You have to believe me.”

She shook her head, her gaze travelling to Valerio who was standing back, trying to look harmless. “It’s true. A goddess is after us,” he said. “We can show you everything at our packhouse, if you need evidence.”

She took a careful step toward her husband’s stone. “Who then? Who has the power to do this?” She grazed her fingers against his.

“Don’t touch it. If he breaks, she will turn you into stone too,” I said.

She immediately removed her finger from his. “Who?” she said a little more confident this time, tears still racing down her cheeks. I knew that she was still in shock and I knew exactly how she felt. First her son, now her husband was dead.

I stood up and faced her, trying to think of a way to frame this that wouldn’t sound like I was crazy. “You’re not going to believe me without evidence.”

“Who?”

“Mother Nature,” I said. “At least, that’s who I think it is. She’s been draining pups of their life force and has been trying to weaken me. She is currently inhabiting a werewolf’s body.”

“Currently?” she asked.

I pressed my lips together. “It’s a long story.”

She wiped the tears from her cheeks and sat on the couch, still staring at her husband. “Well, I have time.”

So, I sat next to her and explained everything while Valerio mindlinked our doctor. From my mark to my mother who had faked her death to my ascension and all of the grueling deaths, I didn’t leave anything out.

By the end, we were both crying. She wrapped her arms around me, gently brushing her fingers against my hair. I hadn’t purged like that for a long time and it was strangely nice to be comforted by a motherly figure instead of tormented by one.

She shushed my cries while wiping the tears from her eyes. “Shh, shh, shh. You’ve done so good so far.”

“I’m sorry about him,” I said. Sure, I felt good about him finally being out of my hair, but I had so much sympathy for Mrs. Braxon.

“Nonsense, he was too stubborn. I told him to not get caught up in werewolves and goddesses and everything, but he wouldn’t listen. He was set on trying to get everyone locked up, especially after my son and your father.”

Valerio sat on the opposite couch and stared at us, frowning. “I hate to butt-in, but our doctor got back to me with information.” I nodded at him to continue. “I was told that he planned to remove the growth from the werewolf by himself, but Dr. Braxon insisted that he would help with the removal.”

Mrs. Braxon shook her head. “Oh, dear. Oh, dear.” She pressed her lips together. “He… he was looking for a way to defeat you all. He called me on the phone the other night, explaining his plan. I thought he was going crazy. He had called me saying weird things like that since we had separated.” She wiped another tear from her cheek. Well, I guess they did split up. “I told him not to. I honestly didn’t think he’d be stupid enough to do something like that.”

I wrapped my arms around her, now trying to comfort her.

“This was his decision. He made a poor one and has ended up like this,” she said. She gazed over at me and shook her head. “Is there any way I could stay with you for a few days? I don’t feel safe. Who knows if this woman you speak of wants to kill me too.”

I nodded. “Of course… I just have one request.”

“Anything.”

“The hospital is investigating this. I really need this not to come out on the news or any sort of media. We will be discriminated against and possibly imprisoned for this even though we didn’t do anything.”

She nodded. “I’ll clean that up. Don’t worry.”

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