Chapter 9 ♕
I couldn’t take this.
I felt so much at the same time that I just couldn’t take it. Everything went too fast. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through me. I was anxious and heartbroken. It only got worse, heavier, more intense.
I tried not to lose control, but how could I while the most important person in the world was suffering in my arms. I tried to hold back tears, while looking down at his face.
Cayden was so many things. He was stubborn and hot-headed. He didn’t like to do what he was told, even though he was my brothers Beta. I’d seen him fight, explode, and break things more than I’d ever seen anyone do.
But there had never been a time when he hadn’t been there when I needed him. All my life I had been treated differently. Maggie had shown me that. But Cayden had treated me differently most of everyone else. He had taken care of me, listened to me and was always there for me. I felt a strange laugh rise from my throat, and at the same time I felt tears flow.
I already loved him so much.
I had to calm down, now more than ever. It was as if he knew because although he was still unconscious in my arms, I heard a painful groan escape his mouth and a moment later I felt his warm touch on my lower leg.
Sparks shot through my body. I felt them in every nerve in my body. I gasped for breath. The bond between us fell into place, and all the other emotions were instantly forgotten.
We found him, her voice reached me. Jade. All the commotion disappeared. I heard nothing anymore. He was all there was. My best friend. My Mate.
It couldn’t be other than that he have known it for years. Cayden was seven years older than me. I had heard stories of wolves who, on their eighteenth birthday, told their much younger mate who they were to them. Sometimes that would have given them some extra years of happiness. But in other scenarios it had ensured that the other person could not have experienced the feeling on her own. The mate bond was something to be chosen, felt, not forced.
His back seemed to have been transformed into a battlefield. Ripped flesh, muscles in sight, and blood that started to spread like a puddle among us.
Again the emotions came in all at once, but this time it was no question which of them would prevail. Anger shot through my veins. She had done this to him.
A shadow fell over me. I looked up and saw Magnolia standing in front of us. For a moment I thought this was her desperate attempt to protect us, but only then did I see her face.
It was expressionless.
The Maggie I had got to know had always shown everything on her face. Her affection, friendship and appreciation. But this face was blank. Only then did the seriousness of the situation dawn on me. The ballroom had turned into my worst nightmare.
I didn’t know what her plan was, but I wanted to stop her. I didn’t want Maggie to sacrifice herself for me. I hated myself badly enough, but the feeling that someone’s death would rest on my shoulders was too much to bear.
She was my first friend. The first girl who bothered to get to know me and then stayed. I could never tell her how much that meant to me. I knew we would have to part ways again soon. In our short time together, Maggie had never lied to me either. Not even about her length of stay.
She always looked me in the eye and said exactly what she was thinking. I had never experienced that before. Everyone had always been careful with me, with my feelings. No one had never treated me like I could take a beating, except her. Because even Cayden, even if it had been to protect me, had sometimes withheld things from me.
And even though it hurt excruciatingly, knowing that after tonight I didn’t know when I would see her again, at least I could console myself with the idea that it wasn’t my fault. Magnolia had a life elsewhere.
I shook my head.
There were more important things at the moment. Like the fact that Magnolia had to be alive to go home tonight. She was defenseless. She probably did this because she felt she needed to protect me, but at least I still had my wolf. She had nothing. I was supposed to be protecting her, but that meant I had to leave Cayden unattended.
I looked up.
The witches were winning. They were everywhere. But they weren’t fighting serious. They were playing with us, the guests and the guards.
I felt worthless and gritted my teeth in frustration. The last time they invaded our house, everything had been different. My brother had made them all disappear from the face of the earth. None of them survived and all that in just a matter of minutes.
And in that moment the loss of my big brother hit me hard. I missed him. More than words could explain. I missed every part of him.
I saw that disgusting excuse of a creature Giselle take one of my guards down. She enjoyed this so much it made me sick. But then, just out of nowhere, the satisfaction had disappeared from her face at the very same moment that I heard an unknown voice whisper a simple word.
“Enough”, I heard.
Then everything stopped. The elements returned to their place of origin and the witches were left empty-handed. I saw the confusion on the their faces. And only then, did I return my gaze to Maggie.
There she stood. Her eyes closed, hands out in front of her. She radiated something, but I couldn’t quite put the feeling into words. It was as if she was praying.
“Had she-” my head began, but I cut off the sentence.
That was impossible. Magnolia was human. Her scent was human. She shouldn’t be able to.... Apparently, one of the witches had come to the same conclusion that I had, because the moment it happened, Giselle turned directly at Maggie.
When she got behind my throne earlier tonight, I had been grateful for that. I didn’t want anything to happen to her, but now she had taken the full vengeance of a coven of witches on her. And that while my guards were scattered on the ground, their captain was in my arms and her only possible remedy was an eighteen-year-old girl with no further added value.
The guests would not offer any help either. These were all the kind that were used to not lifting a finger. I slid my arms around Cayden’s neck and clung desperately to him. If this was to be the end if necessary, I wanted to be as close to him as possible.
“Open your eyes,” I heard Giselle say.
Something in her voice made me look up again. Giselle sounded strange. I watched the scene from a distance. Maggie seemed in no way impressed by the threat Giselle was trying to emit. But then Maggie opened her eyes. I heard the witches gasping for breath, myself at the same time.
The first thing I had noticed about my friend were her eyes. I had never seen anything so beautiful and different at the same time before. But now, it was as if that moment disappeared into thin air. Magnolia watched the witches, still without expression. But this time, her blue and green eyes were framed by a bright golden glow.
I found that some witches were trying to take advantage of the situation by restarting the attack, but none of them seemed to have any control over their gift anymore. It was like Magnolia had flipped a switch and turned everything off.
Uncertainty began to sink in to some of them, while I saw others sinking down to one knee. As if they surrendered to Magnolia. They bowed their head.
Something about the way Magnolia stood there made me want to do the same. Bow down, surrender to her, pay my respects to her. I shook my head to wake up from the trans.
“Who are you” I heard Giselle say.
I don’t know if Maggie would ever have answered that question, but suddenly it didn’t matter anymore. It seemed then as if everything was slowing down.
I felt something in the back of my head. Something I hadn’t felt in over two years. There was no voice, no confirmation of what I thought was about to happen. But that was not necessary. Because I could feel it. I felt him coming closer.
His presence was overwhelming. I could see from everything that Magnolia experienced the same. She knew it too. I gasped. “He’s back,” I whispered, to no one in particular.
And then, something came through the broken glass wall behind us and flew over our heads.
He landed with so much brute force that the marble floor beneath him formed a crater. The closest people staggered from the impact and fell over.
Then everything slowed down.
I was myself again and I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what had happened or what was going on. Just that I couldn’t take my attention from what was in front of me.
He had his back turned to me. Every muscle was tense and seemed to be made of solid metal. He stood on his hind legs, and was completely covered with snow-white fur. He towered inhumanely tall over everyone. Wider, bigger and more threatening than I’d ever seen anything or anyone do. He put his head back on his neck. Opened his mouth, revealing the knife’s sharp teeth that could easily be bitten through concrete. The growl he then gave was deafening. It was then that the panic broke out completely and the screaming began.
People ran out through the open doors. And while hell had broken loose, I stood still and stared at him. This was him. Bethany’s big brother. King of wolves, and he was a Lycan.
I had read about his kind. About their speed, power, senses, about everything. The world’s most dangerous predator. But none of what had been in those books explained why I felt the way I did.
I heard witches shout the most horrible words to him. He was a monster, not worth walking this globe, an abomination. Those words stirred something up in me. He wasn’t pretty. There were scars all over his body. His stomach, covered with almost leathery black skin, was taut and muscular. His eyes were bloodshot red with no pupils. He mowed wildly with his arms, which had sharp claws attached to it that could easily tear any body to pieces.
In my eyes he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
He was losing control. These witches had broken into his home, destroyed his belongings, and assaulted his loved ones. I saw him take a meter-long solid wood table in a claw and throw it effortlessly through the room. Whereupon the furniture then landed on three witches, who were immediately unconscious. But he was far from finished. Unfortunately, at the same time as his entrance, whatever had happened seemed to have been broken, for the witches had their gifts back instantly. They used whatever was within reach.
The wind blowing in through the open window. The earth hidden under the solid stone floor. The water, coming from the fountains that were scattered throughout the room. And the fire came from the torches and chandeliers that hung on the wall.
As one and the same person, the witches attacked with everything they had. The king was hit from all sides simultaneously. He hid his face behind his claws and crouched. I heard Bethany, along with another voice, scream deafeningly as he took the brunt.
A little voice in my head pointed out that I was the other voice. But I didn’t stop. I was terrified. I wanted them to stop hurting him. I wanted them to disappear. I wanted to close my eyes, remove the image from my mind forever. But then it was suddenly over.
The witches lowered their hands and grinned with pleasure. The creature was still huddled on the ground. Small clouds of smoke rose from the patches of skin where the fire had hit him. Everyone watched breathlessly. And then he started to move. It started very slowly, but after a few seconds he was back on his feet, without a scratch.
I didn’t know what happened then, but I felt something inside. It was so overwhelming it should freak me out, but I calmed down instead. I had never felt so peaceful before.
It was as if there was a wire between us that was getting shorter and shorter, forcing me to move closer to him. I took a step in his direction. And with that removed myself from Bethany’s side.
And then he suddenly stopped. His whole posture had suddenly changed so drastically that no one seemed to dare move a muscle anymore. He seemed petrified.
It was almost invisible, but excruciatingly slow, he put his nose in the air and sniffed. Then he started to turn, towards me. When our eyes met each other, everything else seemed to disappear. I parted my lips, tried to say something.
He was seriously terrifying. For everyone, but not for me. He still seemed unable to move. He was just standing there. All other attendees stood equally still. There was no sound, no movement. He towered so high above me that I had to put my head back on my neck. He just looked at me with those red eyes.
My whole mind went blurry. And there was only one thought left crystal clear to me. I knew those eyes. Those eyes. Those eyes had visited my nightmares since my parents death. But he had never terrified me, instead those eyes had saved me time and time again.
And then, in the midst of all chaos, I felt a smile bloom on my lips. I didn’t know how it was possible, but I knew him. I knew exactly who he was without ever seeing him before. I knew who he was. I parted my lips again, but this time they seemed to know exactly what word to speak.
“Alaric”, I said.