The Warriors Of River Falls (Book 2)

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Lifeline

I struggled to get Amber out of my mind. The image of her that night; crouched in the corner, eyes wide but fierce; hand clutching a piece of glass so tight it was cutting into her skin causing the blood to flow down her arm. I was twice the size of her, but the way she was ready to fight me when I opened that door and entered the room, I held so much respect for her; I instantly knew why Vicky had chosen her as a friend.

When I left after the funeral, I was so wrapped up in my own grief that I didn’t even think about anyone else. I knew Alex had Logan and Vicky’s family had each other. Amber had her own family and friends; I just assumed… well I didn’t assume anything; I’m ashamed to say I never gave her a second thought. Another promise I broke to Vicky; I promised her that Amber was safe, but I never checked on her afterwards. I never made sure she stayed safe; like I should have.

I found myself that following week seeking Amber out. I never approached her, never let her know I was there. I think I spooked her out this morning in the woods, but the feeling I had to make sure she was safe; I couldn’t explain. It was just something I had to do. My life had held little purpose the past few months but now even for a little bit of each day, I just check secretly that she’s doing okay.

Amber seemed to change over the course of a week. The way she walked, the way she held her head higher a little more each day. Something was making her confidence grow; I wasn’t sure what it was, but I know that Logan had mentioned that Alex had noticed it too. However much as she looked like she was safe, secure; but there was a nagging feeling that she wasn't. That it’s all an act.

I know because it’s what I did; it’s what I do.

There’s a new coffee shop in town, quite trendy apparently, not that I give a damn about what’s trendy and what’s not, it’s a coffee shop, aren’t they all the same really? Hot drinks and cake? I decide to stop by anyway, I need to get a coffee from somewhere, and I’ve got a stack of papers to read through of all the wolves that just left school and want to work full time with the pack instead of going to college. They will be guards, warriors, enforcers, but they take training and they need to be able to be trained. Otherwise you get some hotshot young wolf thinking he is in charge and can do what he wants. So I need to vet all their paperwork. I should be here a while.

When I’m on my second cup the chime above the door sounds, I’d like to take it down actually, it’s really annoying. But the person walking in takes my attention. Amber strolls up to the counter and smiles at the guy taking the orders. He looks familiar but I’m not sure where from. He looks around my age, maybe a little younger; but the way his eyes lit up when Amber walked in was unmistakable. It’s nothing to do with me, but with what she’s been through, she needs someone good enough for her.

They obviously know each other by the amount of time she spends at the counter and then he carries the tray over to the table for her. I haven’t seen him do that for any other customer. I don’t purposely listen to what they are saying but I have werewolf hearing; it’s hard not to overhear in such a small building with not many other people in. A little bit of anger and protectiveness kicks in when I realise where the conversation is going. Again, it’s not that I think she’s not ever going to be able to date again after what happened but there’s something about this guy… I don’t like him.

Thankfully the stupid bell chimes again and he goes off to serve them. Amber pulls out her phone and within seconds it starts to ring. I smile to myself when I hear Alex’s voice on the other end but frown when I hear she is encouraging Amber to go on this date. I start packing up my paperwork and put it all in neat piles on the table. It’s a good job it’s so quiet in here today, I’m not sure I would have been able to hog the table for as long as I had if it had been busy. When I notice that the coffee shop guy has finished and realise he is making a bee line for Amber again I grab my now empty coffee cup and stand up abruptly. Causing my chair to scrap the floor and gaining Amber's attention. When she sees me, she gasps and sits there, stunned. Coffee shop guy stops in his path too and looks back and forth between us. I hold my cup in the air, aimed at him.

“Can I get another please?” I ask, a little sharper than I intended to really. Not that I ever let things like that bother me though.

“Yeah sure. I’ll get right on that.” He answers me back but stands unmoving. I raise my eyebrows to question if there was an issue. Again, he looks between Amber and me. Amber hasn’t moved or taken her eyes from me, but the colour does seem to have drained from her face. I take a step towards her and she pulls her hands into her lap.

“Is everything alright Amber?” Coffee shop guy asks her, he is sort of starting to annoy me now; he is still stood there.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m…. good…. I’m okay.” Amber just about whispers out her reply which confirms to both me and coffee shop guy that she is in fact not good.

“Maybe a glass of water too, with the coffee?” I address the guy, waiting for him to actually do his job. He reluctantly walks away to get the drinks but not without looking back a few times.

“Hey Amber.” I say with a small smile; brushing my hand through my short dark hair.

“Hey.” Is all she replies.

“Can I sit?” She nods and pulls at the sleeves on the shirt she’s wearing.

“When did you get back?” She asks without looking at me.

“Last week. Logan’s been nagging at me for a while; but it was time.” She nods her head again and looks to the front of the shop where coffee shop guy is stood watching.

“How’ve you been? Alex said you go to college. Teaching?” she smiles the tiniest of smiles and just nods her head again. I feel like reaching out to keep her head still.

“Where, where were you? Where did you go?” She asks while folding her arms around herself. Coffee shop guy chooses this moment to arrive with our drinks. I smile my thanks while Amber, being more polite than me actually says thank you to him. He stands by the table for a while longer; obviously trying to decide if she is in fact okay with me. I can see on his face exactly what he is thinking.

“She’s fine with me. You have another customer.” I blurt out. Vicky always did say that I had issues with my manners. Amber smiles a little at my outburst but nods in confirmation to him. He reluctantly walks back to his counter.

“So, where were you?” she asks again.

“Here and there really. Just hopped on my bike and went wherever I wanted. Stayed in motels really.” She drops her head.

“That must have been nice. To get away.” It wasn’t. The pain still stayed with me.

“I saw Chris actually. Spent a few weeks with him.” This gets her attention.

“Really? How is he? Still doing stupid stuff I bet.” I laugh and she smiles at little and takes a sip of water.

“You know Chris better than any of us. He’s always going to do stupid stuff.”

“Are you… staying? Or are you leaving again?” I lift my coffee and take a gulp.

“This is my home. I needed to be here. I’m staying. So, how’s college?” she shrugs her shoulders and tucks her hair behind her ear. When she lifts her arm to her face, her sleeve falls and I see a glimpse of a scar. Only for a second, she was quick to drop her arm and pull her sleeve back down. Again, I’m transported back to that room and the blood that pooled down her arm. Her arm had injuries, but it was covered in too much blood to ever make out what had actually happened.

“I never got chance to… to say… thank you. For what you did.” She ignores my question about college but stuns me with what she does say.

“That’s not something you ever needed to say thank you for Amber.” I reach out to place a comforting hand on her arm, but she flinches back and quickly pull my hand back too.

“It is; and I’ve needed to say it for a while...”

“Amber…. You don’t…”

“I do. I didn’t ever think we were getting out of there. That day… that day was…when Alex came to get me, I had hope for like a second. But then he came and took her, and she told me to run… I froze. I couldn’t do anything. I knew they were all around me. I was no match for… so I knew I wouldn’t be able to take any of them on the way that Alex always seemed to.

I looked down and there it was.

My lifeline, that piece of glass, that was my lifeline. It would get me out, I would finally be free; but I was even too scared to do that. Then you came in. I would have fought you; I knew I would never win but that would have been my freedom. My way out, it was the easy choice…” She wipes away tears from her cheek and I lean towards her, resting my elbows on my knees.

“Amber… It’s okay… You don’t…” I don’t know what to say so I stare at my feet, mimicking her actions.

“Thank you. I know I can never repay what you did you me. Or replace what you lost because of me… I need to go. It was good to see you Shawn.” She whispers and I don’t think I register what she says. She picks up her bag and she leaves, without us saying anything else. I hear coffee shop boy call out to her as she passes the counter, but she leaves quickly without stopping.

As the doorbell chimes, I rise from my seat and go back to my table, gathering all the papers there. I make my way down the shop to the counter; all the while being glared at by coffee shop boy. I know he has a name but in all honesty its of very little interest to me. I don’t need to know it.

“I just need to pay for our extra drinks.” I say curtly. He nods his head in agreement and pushes a few buttons on his cash register.

“It’s just yours, Amber's all good.” I’m not sure why but that statement gets my back up and my jaw clenches. I place a ten-dollar bill on the desk, knowing that will be enough to cover the drinks and walk out closing the door harder than was necessary.

I don’t know why, but there’s something about coffee shop guy that doesn’t sit right with me.

I also want to find out more about what happened to Amber while she was being held with the rogues. If she was willing to use that broken mirror to end things, to end her life. Then those scumbags didn’t suffer anywhere near as much as they should before we killed them.

The only problem is though is that I know we didn’t kill them all.

Some of them got away.

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