“Alexia…” I hear Logan’s calm voice as he walks into the room, we are sat in. I’m starting to think I just said something I shouldn’t have.
“What does he mean Logan?” She rises from her seat to confront her mate. Full of confidence; she had changed over the past few months, grown… not in height but in spirit.
“Alexia, why don’t we go upstairs, and we can talk about this.” He makes his way towards her, trying to reach out to her but she side steps him.
“Shall I just call Amber? See how much she knows…” she looks to both of us then and I glance at Logan and can see uncertainty on his face.
Crap… I messed up.
“Alex… I’m sorry, I’ve been away… I don’t know the full extent of everything that hap…”
“Oh no, don’t try and cover for each other now. Now, let me ask… every rogue that was there at the compound, they are all dead? Right?”
I attempt to speak but Logan holds up his hand to stop me.
“Alexia, we killed almost all of them. There were a few that had run off early, into the forest and we were too late to catch them, or they got in vehicles and we lost their tracks. But Scott, we killed Scott. Chris shot him; his body was burned with the rest of them. He can’t hurt you anymore.” He moves to embrace her again, but she flings her arms up in the air and pushes him away.
“I don’t care about Scott. I know he’s dead…but what about…” She starts to pace, running her hands through her long hair. I stand by and watch. There’s nothing I can do to help, but I’m also slightly confused at what’s going on. A look from Logan tells me he has no clue either.
“Where’s Amber?” I stand up straight at the mention of her name. The urge to protect her almost overwhelming.
“She’s at home. I dropped her off, watched her go inside. What the hell is going on?” she looks to me and opens her mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. She looks to her mate and then runs to the front door, when we follow her, we see she is putting her shoes on.
“Alexia, where are you going?” She lifts her head to Logan and gives him a look that says he shouldn’t even have to ask that.
“We need to go to Amber. Now.”
We all get in my car and I drive just as crazy to Amber's house as I did when I left her house a few hours earlier. When we pull up the drive, I notice her parent’s cars aren’t on the drive, so she must be home alone. Alex jumps out the car and runs to the door, banging loudly, not caring about the noise she was creating. However, from the inside of the house, music is blaring out. There’s no way she would hear us anyway.
“Amber… Amber … It’s me, open the door.” When no one comes she runs around the side of the house and into the garage, we follow her from afar, and hear her rummaging around for something. She comes out, her one hand, held in a tight fist and runs to the door again, producing a key she opens the door and flies up the stairs. The music getting louder as we get nearer to the source.
Logan and I stay back as we enter and I spot her, huddled in a corner of the room. Knees bent up to her chest, her eyes look red raw from crying and I’m immediately thrown back to the night we saved them.
Alex approaches her slowly and pulls her into a hug, where she starts to sob again, joined in by Alex.
“I didn’t know, I promise you I didn’t know. I came as soon as I did.” Logan and I look again to each other, unsure on what we should do, so we just stand there. Silently watching. As Amber moves her arm, I notice something red on Alex’s back. The smell of fresh blood assaults my nose and I take a step closer. I can see it's from the inside of Amber's arm, where the scars were.
When they calm down, Alex takes Amber's face in her hands and pulls their faces close together.
“You’re safe here. He can’t get you. He’s gone.” Amber only shakes her head.
“But you don’t know that. Not for sure. What if he comes back? I don’t want to go back.”
“No, he won’t. He won’t. You’re safe now.” She drops her hands to Amber's hand and attempts to pull her friend to her feet, but Amber just pushes herself back in to the corner, shaking her head. Alex looks over and Logan walks closer but the closer he gets the faster Amber's heart beats, and she whimpers, eyes squeezed tightly shut.
“Stop, Logan stop, you’re scaring her.” I say quietly.
“We can’t just leave her there.” He says pointing to where she is sat, cowering on the floor.
“I know that… Just give me a sec…” I start to make my way towards her, and her whimpers increase.
“Amber, it’s Shawn. You’re safe here. You’re at home.” Her whimpers quiet and she opens her eyes, they connect with my own.
“We need to get you from the floor. Okay?” she looks to Alex and she comes to stand by my side.
I crouch down in front of her and look her in the eyes.
“I’ve got you. Whatever you’re scared of, we can keep you safe.” She just shakes her head at me in disagreement.
“No, you can’t… you…” I take her small hands in mine, trying not to let my gaze linger on her arm and the fresh blood there and pull her to her feet.
“I can. Come on, let’s get you cleaned up.” I walk her to the bathroom, from my last visit here, I know where it is. I sit her on the toilet and run the hot tap in the sink.
“Alex do you know where there would be any bandages?” She nods and disappears downstairs. She returns only moments later and places them on the counter next to us.
“I’ve got this. Just give her some space.” I say quietly to her, she looks to Amber and to my surprise, Amber just nods her head in agreement. I don’t say anything else and I see Alex pull Logan away and move downstairs.
I run the washcloth under the hot tap and bring it back to Amber's small wrist. Wiping it over the scars and new scratches that are there.
“Stupid I know. I thought I could scratch it off.” I just continue to wipe it gently.
“Who did this to you Amber?” I grab a dry towel and dry the area, while waiting for her to talk.
“Clayton Denver.” She gives me a name that means absolutely nothing to me. I’m not sure what I was expecting. I start wrapping her arm, she just watches my movements.
“Why did he do this?” she laughs a humorless laugh.
“Because I couldn’t stop him.” She pulls her arm away, but I still haven’t finished so I simply tug it back to me, being as gentle as I can. I don’t think I’ve ever been this gentle, I’m almost ashamed to say I was never this gentle with my mate, but Vicky was… she was strong.
“Is that who you are scared of? Was he there? At the compound?” I tape the end of the bandage, but don’t release her arm.
“So many questions… You already seem to know the answers though.” She pulls her arm away again, and I tidy up the counter, dropping the washcloth in the wash basket.
“If you let me Amber, I can help you.” She gets up and walks out to her room, standing by the window.
“How? What exactly can you do Shawn?” She wraps her arms around herself and I stand by her side, watching the birds in the trees opposite.
“I don’t know Amber, but I can try. But if you don’t tell me anything, then I can’t do anything… what made him put his initials on your arm?” She holds her bandaged arm in front of us, inspecting it as if it weren’t covered in white bandages.
“He said… he said something wasn’t working, and I needed a reminder.”
“A reminder? A reminder of what? What happened out there Amber?”
“Look, I appreciate you coming over here, I really do. But the fact is you can’t do a thing. No one can. So, this is something I just need to get over. Like all the therapists told me to do. He is gone. It’s been six months. He’s gone.”
“Shawn, just drop it will you and let me believe what I want to believe.” Her tone bought a smile to my face. She was stronger than she gave herself credit for. Stronger than most gave her credit for. I draped my arm around her shoulder, and she leaned against me. I felt her take a couple of deep breaths, steadying herself.
“He’s gone Shawn, he has to be. He’s dead.” Her voice is quiet but I have no trouble in hearing what she says.
I make a vow to myself, too afraid to say it out loud. I wouldn’t break another promise, but I would protect Amber. I would find this Clayton Denver, and if he wasn’t already dead; I would kill him myself.
We stand in the window for a while longer, when she yawns and she steps away from me.
“I’m just really tired Shawn, can you ask Alex to lock up when you leave?” I watch as she climbs into bed and turns away from me, pulling the covers up.
“What time are your parents due back?” she sighs and pulls the blanket around her tighter.
“Tomorrow night, they went out of town.” She must pre-empt me saying something, as she cuts me off pretty quick.
“I’m fine Shawn, I won’t do anything silly. Just lock the door please, tell Alex I’ll call her tomorrow.” She turns over again as I walk to the door, keeping her face away from me. I’m almost out the door when I hear her.
“Thank you, Shawn, again.” I don’t respond with any words and make my way downstairs to find Alex and Logan.
“How is she?” Alex quickly asks upon seeing me.
“She's going to sleep. She said she was tired and she will call you tomorrow and make sure we lock up on the way out.” She looks worried, and I have to say I agree.
“Her folks aren’t back till tomorrow night.” Alex’s face drops, and she looks up to the ceiling.
“I’ll stay, you both go back, I can call you if I need you.” Alex offers to stay but I can tell Logan is less than thrilled with that idea, but I do think someone should stay too.
“No, its okay. I’ll stop with her, that way she’ll be angry with me in the morning for staying and not you.” Alex laughs and leans towards Logan.
“You know her so well. Well… if you are happy to take on Amber's wrath, I’ll leave you with the key. Give me a call if she gets upset. No matter the time.” She leaves the key on the table and walks to the door, Logan following behind.
I lock the door after saying goodbye and head to the lounge, removing my shoes; I settle down for the night on the sofa. Unable to sleep, my mind wanders to places its not been in a long time.
I hadn’t thought much about my past, until the night we went to go get Alex and Amber. The stench that assaulted our noses, it had been years since I had smelt that smell. The smell of a pack of rogues. Some people say that rogues don’t belong to packs. And that’s true if you are talking about a lone wolf.
But what if you’re talking about a hundred rogues, all working together.
The consequences are deadly.