“Aurora, listen to me. All we want to do is help Lily,” Jax says, cautiously. It has been over ten minutes from when the attack finished, but Aurora wasn’t letting up. She has been so alone, so isolated that she now doesn’t trust anyone. Once like me. She thinks everyone is a threat who is trying to hurt who she sees as our own pup. She doesn’t even trust me, her other half, she thinks I’m delusional for trusting these people. Despite me telling her that these people are our pack, that they would never hurt us, she doesn’t listen.
A few uninjured members have begun, circling us making Aurora even more agitated. She doesn’t want an audience from every direction. Jax has been trying to get me back in control, but Aurora is much stronger than I am, especially in her unnerved state. It is a worry when even your mate can’t calm you down. That’s when you know something devasting has happened.
Aurora hears a footstep begin to approach her from behind and automatically spins around, growling at the challenger. Tom, the pack doctor steadily strides forward, one hand holding what looks like a medical bag and the other one raised in the air, showing me he means no harm. He is putting himself in danger; he knows at any second Aurora could attack him as she is not in the right mindset, but he is taking the risk to save another member. But Aurora doesn’t understand this. She sees him as the enemy. Aurora takes a daring step towards Tom. If he comes any closer, she will launch at him and tear him to shreds. I silently beg Tom doesn’t move. I couldn’t live with myself if she kills him.
“If you don’t let me help her now, she will die,” Tom pleads. That was it. The growls that emit from my mouth silence and Aurora takes a step back as if the wind has just been knocked out of us. Reality finally settles in for her as she realizes she is the one stopping Lily from being saved. She is causing Lily to die. “You can watch everything I do, just let me heal her. I don’t want her to be in any more pain than she has to,” Tom continues, hoping he isn’t pushing it.
To show that she accepts his terms, she trots back over to Lily and flashes her teeth at everyone except Tom. She’s in charge and she wants everyone to know that. Apprehensive, Tom advances near, still with one of his hands raised until he reaches the pair of us. We stand protectively over Lily’s unconscious frame whilst Aurora holdbacks her growls of disapproval. This isn’t easy for her. Trusting another man when all she has known from them is that they cause pain and harm. She has never lived a day where someone has treated her with any sign of respect, so now she does the same. I have to give her some credit for not going berzerk on the pack and killing everyone in sight, despite her thinking it.
Tom crouches down until he hovers next to Lily, never straying his eyes from mine. Smart man. After a few heavy seconds, Aurora watchfully falls back, giving Tom enough room to see the damage to Lily’s ripped-off right arm, and only then does he move his eyes over to her rooted body.
Very tentatively he leans closer to Lily and places his bag next to him. I don’t think anything in that small carrier will be able to help Lily, but Aurora allows him to do what he does best. “I need to get Lily to the hospital immediately. Her wolf won’t be able to heal such drastic damage quick enough, so I need to seal it before she loses any more blood,” Tom mutters to himself, but with my new heightened senses, I hear it clear as day. “I need a stretcher to take her there. Can someone please go get me a stretcher?” Tom asks calmly.
Not processing what Tom has just said means someone has to move, she begins to freak out when movement is heard from behind her. Not knowing who it is, she assumes it is an enemy and does the first thing that she can think of. Attack.
Aurora lunges towards her opponent, ready to kill. I begin screaming when I notice that the person she is attacking is Jax. My mate. Her mate. But she doesn’t care. He is her threat who is trying to stop Lily from getting healed. I know Jax will never hurt Lily, he would want what’s best for her, but Aurora doesn’t know this.
Fortunately, Jax shifts before we can reach him and dodges our strike. Spinning around, she launches at him this time with her mouth wide open, teeth exposed, to sink them into Aaron’s fur. But she is too slow compared to her experienced mate.
As if it was nothing, as if it was easy, Aaron pins us belly down, holding our scruff between his teeth, showing that he is in charge. He doesn’t grab it hard enough to cause any pain, but enough to stop our jerky movement. The Alpha doesn’t like being challenged by anyone, even his mate. Aaron shifts back to human form, giving Jax control. “Aurora calm down. I don’t want to hurt you, I just want Hayley in charge. Can you please give Hayley control? For me?” Aurora slowly realizes he isn’t like the other men that she has encountered in her life. She expected him to ruthlessly beat her for her actions, but his soft tone has bewildered her. She can’t understand that not everyone will hurt her as that is all she has known. Eventually, Aurora returns control to me, as she falls into the back of my mind and judges her deep-rooted assumptions. She doesn’t trust him fully but accepts that he will not hurt us. “Shift back, Hayley. Everything is alright. It’s okay,” Jax reassures me, releasing my scruff.
Following Jax’s orders, I shift back, reliving the excruciating pain again, something I will have to get used to until it will only be a dull ache, but that will come over time with practice. I return to my human form, and stand on my wobbly legs; I try to ignore the new imbalance I feel. Shifting between two different bodies is not easy. “I’m so sorry, Jax. I didn’t mean to attack you. Aurora saw you as a threat and attacked. I didn’t know...” I ramble, now raising my own shakey hands in defense. Jax takes a step forward so I can feel his body heat despite it being less than two degrees. He gently clasps my hands and stares down at me, with worry in his eyes. He assumes I will lose my control again.
“You have nothing to apologize for, love. I’m sorry if we hurt you,” he says as gently rubs the back of my neck, soothing the ache that had grown there. Remembering there was an audience, I look around me and notice everyone is looking at the ground. I don’t understand why until I realize it is because of my naked form. In perfect timing, Axton walks over to where I am standing and hands me an oversized t-shirt, whilst keeping his eyes trained to the floor. Gratefully I put it on, then turn back to Lily.
From the time I attacked Jax to now, a pack member had gone and got a stretcher, which she now lays on. An remaining life in her face has completely vanished, and to the eye, you would believe she is dead, but her faint heartbeat flutters in the air showing she is still fighting. Pulling away from Jax, I run over to Lily to let her know I’m close by, even though she is still knocked out.
"We need to get her to the hospital," Tom says, eyeing Jax and Axton. They pick up either end of the stretcher and carry Lily to the hospital, whilst I walk beside them, holding Lily's only hand.
When we finally make it to the hospital, Tom takes Lily into a separate room, much to my protests. I'm not entirely sure what he is doing in there with her, but I can only assume that he is trying to stop the bleeding and keep her heart beating.
After a long amount of time, and my anxiety at its peak, Tom and a nurse wheel Lily out, who is lying on a medical bed, and take her into another room. Lily lays perfectly still, with one arm missing and deathly pale. She no longer has her beautiful, pink cheeks; they have instead been washed out. "Jax may I speak with you," Tom says as the nurse plays with monitors that are linked up to Lily.
Keeping my eyes on my fragile pup, I listen to the conversation between them as they silently step out of the room. “It was a nasty rip. As you saw, the tear is just under her shoulder, because of this I have smoothed her bone so soft tissue and muscle can cover and protect it. I evaluated the arm that was torn off and concluded that it couldn't be reattached as it was too mangled, deeming itself useless. I have stitched up the wound and wrapped it in a bandage which I will come back and change later on. She is not out of the clear yet but I will do my absolute best at keeping her alive.” A silent pause is heard before he continues. “To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised she’s alive after the amount of blood she lost. That poor girl,” Tom mummers. I don’t know how any doctor can do all of this so bravely. They deserve so much more than they get.
“She won’t die, will she?” Jax asks exactly what I’m thinking. Either he sensed I wanted to know or he thought the same.
“I can’t promise anything, but I strongly believe she will have a healthy life. Over time, she will learn to adapt to her new body but it will not discriminate her from daily activities,” Tom reassures. My main concern was her loss of life. I will help Lily in every way I can with her new condition, but I will make sure she knows she is loved and that she should continue to live her life to the fullest. “Most patients who lose a limb suffer deeply from mental illnesses, such as depression and PTSD. She will need a strong support system, which I'm sure you and your mate can provide."
"Absolutely. Thank you, Tom," Jax responds. As the nurse takes her leave, Jax solemnly walks back into the room and over to Lily and me. Giving my shoulder a tight squeeze, he leans over me and places a gentle kiss on Lily’s forehead. “I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you, little one,” he whispers before standing back up. He then buries his face into the crook of my neck, needing affection. Every gender needs to be comforted at some point in their life, even the strongest.
"I'm assuming you heard all of that," Jax mutters. My response is a slow nod as I stand from my chair so I can be closer in my mate’s arms. In these four walls, we allow our emotions to spill without being judged. “Lily is getting bullied at school by other pups... just because she doesn’t have any parents. I promised I wouldn’t let anyone hurt her again, and now look. I failed,” I sob into Jax’s chest.
He calmingly strokes my hair as he says, “It is not your fault, Hayley. I shouldn’t have left Rose’s phone, none of this is your fault.” He is trying to blame himself for all of this. He wants to put all of this chaos on his shoulders. Well, I won’t allow him to.
“If it is not my fault, then it isn’t your either,” I insist. “I mean it, Jax. You can’t blame yourself for other people’s actions.” I pull back so I can look into Jax’s eyes to make sure my point gets across.
“How are you doing? I mean, you had your first official shift after all these years, how are you coping?” he asks, changing topics.
Rolling with it, I tell him the truth. “Drained. Everything is happening so fast. Lily. My shift. The attack. It doesn’t help Aurora is still on edge, it’s causing me to feel aggravated. Everything is so...clear. Like I’ve been blind my entire life, and I’m only seeing everything for the first time.”
“I’m so proud of you, love. I can't imagine what you are going through. You are handling everything so bravely,” he compliments earnestly.
A warming silence filters the room, as we embrace each other. The silence is bliss until my stomach growls like a caged monster. “You must be hungry, let me go get you some food,” Jax says, pulling away. Despite my protests, he continues, “You have hardly anything in your system, baby. Lily would want you to eat something.” He knows exactly what to say to get me to agree.
With a small, “Fine,” Jax leaves the room and quietly closes the door behind him. Not long after there is a small knock at the door. After sniffing who it is, I allow them to come in.
In a hushed tone, Rose speaks. “How is she holding up?”
After a heavy sigh, I say, “She’s a fighter. Tom says that she most likely will survive...but he has to keep a close eye on her as she is still in a critical condition,” I don’t stray my eyes off Lily’s form, afraid she will disappear as Rose walks over and clasps Lily’s only fragile hand in hers. “Did you know she was getting picked on at school?” I ask exhausted. It was something I had been wondering about when Lily told me she is getting bullied.
"Yes," she sighs before continuing. "I tried my best to make them stop but they would always continue to bully her. I spoke to their parents hoping they would control their pups but they didn't believe me and thought I was making it up for whatever reason. Whenever Lily used to run away, I would always panic because I wouldn't be there to protect her if they had done something, and Lily has a habit of disappearing," she chuckles as if remembering fond memories of the two.
"She has had such a difficult life, already at such a young age," I whisper, which Rose nods her head to in agreement.
Rose starts fidgeting as if she is nervous to say something. After building up some courage, she says, “Hayley, there is something that I need to tell you. When the matebond showed me Luke’s mind I saw...something. I thought you should know that your Mum and Luke weren’t just friends. They didn’t mate together, but they were definitely close. I saw a glimpse of your mum saying that she never felt loved by your father and Luke was there to comfort her. After a while, things started to get a little heated and she and Luke got intimate. I believe your father never knew of the affair.” I don’t know what to say. My mum was cheating on my Dad for a disgusting pig. “I didn’t want to upset you, Hayley, but I thought you should know.”
“No, I appreciate you telling me. Thank you, Rose,” I say, still absorbing everything. There has been so much happening these past few hours, my brain is struggling to keep up.
I just gave Hayley her cheese toastie, but I couldn’t stay long as there are a few errands I need to do first. First of which is to meet Dimitri. I had left him in charge whilst I went with Hayley and Lily, but I want to go check on him to see how he is doing. I will always think highly of Dimitri as he has always been so loyal towards me, especially in my darkest time, like when my dad passed away for example. I know he would die for this pack, which makes my trust for him logical, and trust is the most important aspect of a pack. No trust, no pack. Simple.
I let my scenes guide me to Dimitri who is currently lifting dead rogues breathlessly and throwing them into a burning fire. Standing over eight-foot-tall, the beautiful flames dance with the wind, snapping and sizzling in its path.
Walking over to Dimitri, who only has a few scratches, I catch his eyes once he hears my footsteps. “How are you holding up? And your mate, is she okay?” I ask when I arrive in front of him.
“I’m... hanging in there. Sarah is shaken up but not injured luckily. Those bastards did a number on us,” he says grievously.
“How bad?” I reply, holding my breath. Flashbacks of lifeless bodies cross my mind; something I could have avoided.
“So far twenty-six bodies have been found, but there are some deeper in the forest which I need to gather. And then there are roughly seventy injured and counting.” Moon Goddess. Twenty-six, innocent, good, lives lost. And more to come.
“And the rogues? How many rogues died?”
“Fifty-three, but yet again, I haven’t finished burning them all,” he responds smugly. Fifty-six out of over one hundred. Not the worst, but not the best.
"Thank you, Dimitri. Keep me posted." And with that, I head off to do my next task. The one thing I have dreaded since the start of the fight. After sprinting for less than twenty minutes, I walk over to my pile of clothes that I left before I shifted, and pull my tailored trousers out from the bottom. Diving into the pocket, I pull out Rose’s phone and there is. Laughing at me. ‘Get somewhere safe.’ Fuck! My pack members' lives wouldn’t have been lost if it wasn’t for my unforgivable actions! Despite Hayley’s comforting words, it is hard not to blame me for all this destruction. I could have avoided all of this. I didn’t think the run would be long enough for me to be able to not see the text and have an attack.
I’ll have to sort the funerals for tomorrow for the fallen members. I have never liked the idea of families having to wait days to pay their respects. What they are going through is difficult enough, I want to try and make it as easy as possible for them.
For this to all be over, there is one more thing that I need to do. So many things to do and in such little time. I start heading back to the packhouse but stop when I bump into Axton. "Alpha," he greets.
"Axton, how are you?" I ask, assessing him. He needs to be healthy to protect my mate, if he isn't able to do so, someone else will have to.
"Healthy as a horse," he responds. He has dried blood plastered on every part of him, some his, some others. I don't see any major wounds that would stop him from protecting Hayley. Good. "I want to formally apologize for not taking Hayley to the bunker. I assure you that was my intention, but Hayley heard Lily and jumped off. I did everything I could, but I was too late," he says, guilt radiating off him. He blames himself for what happened to Lily. I may not have been there to witness the ordeal, but Axton is a strong warrior where he puts his pack first, so I know without any doubt in my mind that he would have tried his hardest to protect Lily.
"It's okay, Axton. You did all you could do in the situation and that's what's important. Right now, I need you to go keep Hayley company. She needs to be protected, but she also needs a friend at a time like this, and as you two have a close relationship, I think you will be a good influence for her."
"Of course, Alpha. I will go to her now," he says with a serious expression.
"She is with Lily in the hospital," I say to steer him in the correct direction. Axton takes off to Hayley whilst I head in the direction of my office, ready to contact the council, having all the evidence that is needed to convict Bloodnight Pack...