The training was brutal. There wasn’t really any word to describe it. Several people were sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else. One girl, had broken her nose and had also gotten her lip split. Someone else had nearly broken a rib. Despite the brutality though, the fighting was quite beautiful. They all seemed to move with a sort of liquid grace and every move looked elegant and part of a deadly dance. I winced when I heard a bone crack and I turned my head towards two girls who had been fighting. One had blood running down her face, and the other was cradling a broken arm.
I watched them in concern before turning my attention to Rhea and Hadley who were still fighting. Hadley ducked Rhea’s fist. Rhea stumbled forward and Hadley grabbed Rhea’s arm, pulling her forward and punching her in the face. Rhea tried pulling away and Hadley turned around, pulling Rhea forward. She squared her hips and flipped Rhea over her shoulders. Rhea fell to the ground, stunned. She coughed but got back to her feet quickly and aimed a roundhouse kick at Hadley who danced out of the way.
I turned my attention to where Max was taking on Alex, Josh and Keith. He didn’t seem to be struggling at all and it looked like it was quite easy for him to dodge their fists. Max ducked a punch that Keith had thrown at him and also ducked the grab that Josh had made for him. He elbowed Alex, who had been coming up behind him, in the stomach and kicked Josh’s stomach, making him stumble back.
I watched them all for over an hour. I had learned a few things about each of them. Keith relied a lot on his strength, Alex liked to sneak up on his opponents, Josh was all about strategy, Hadley had a lot of stamina and had clearly taken martial arts classes when she was younger and she was quick on her feet, and Rhea was also quick on her feet. Rhea also had perseverance. Even though Hadley had knocked her down countless times she seemed reluctant to give up and admit defeat.
All movement stopped and I spun to face who had spoken. Mr. Judge. Max moved, coming to stand by me and taking my hand in his. We stared at him for a few moments.
“Loup Chasseur have been sighted in the forest,” Mr. Judge said, “Max-”
Keith groaned, falling to the ground and I glanced at him before quickly returning my attention to Mr. Judge who looked panicked. Max gripped my hand tighter and I stared at him. Why were they so concerned?
“I want all trackers out in the forest now. Max lead a patrol. Choose six wolves,” Mr. Judge said before shifting into a large brown wolf with black eyes. He then turned and ran straight into the woods.
“Alex, Hadley, Rhea,” Max looked around the assembled pack members that hadn’t dispersed after Mr. Judge had shifted and run away, “Leanne, Josh, and...Keith if you think you can handle it.”
Keith clambered to his feet and nodded at Max, “I can handle it.”
Max nodded and slowly let go of my hand. Alex, Josh, Hadley, Rhea, Keith and the girl, Leanne shifted. I looked at Max. Did something happen to Raven?
“I’ll be back soon,” Max promised, “Just go back to the house and watch TV or read a book.”
“What’s going on,” I asked, as Alex and the others ran into the woods. Hadley paused, glancing back at us.
“Keith and Raven are mates,” Max hurriedly explained, “Keith felt a lot of pain, so something must have happened to Raven and since Loup Chasseur are in the forest we’re going to go look for her. Anya and Raven are usually together so it also stands to reason that Josh’s mate might be in trouble.”
“Be careful,” I whispered and Max nodded. He bent down and kissed my forehead and I froze. Max shifted into his black wolf and ran at full speed into the woods.
I slowly headed back to the house. Raven and Anya were in danger. Since Max was out looking for them, he was probably also in danger. That worried me. I hadn’t realized how strong exactly my feelings for Max were until this moment. He had been showing me all along how strong his feelings were. I sighed as I entered the house.
I made my way into the living room and turned on the TV. I couldn’t exactly go after them so I guess I had to kill time by watching stupid shows. Slowly the hours passed and no one had returned. I was growing increasingly agitated. When six o’clock rolled around and they still weren’t back I started pacing.
The door halted and I stopped my pacing, heading to the foyer and smiling in relief when I saw Max, Alex, Josh, Rhea, Hadley, Anya, and Keith.
“Where’s Raven,” I asked and Max sighed.
“She betrayed us to Loup Chasseur,” Hadley muttered, “I don’t know why.”
Keith had a look of hurt etched on his face and I felt bad for him. Raven had meant a lot to him. “She didn’t betray us,” Keith hissed, “I asked her to try to fool Loup Chasseur.” We all looked at him in surprise. “She’s just taking it a step too far. She wouldn’t betray me.”
“She doesn’t feel the mate bond like you do,” Rhea pointed out, trying to be gentle. “It’s possible that they could have converted her to her anti-werewolf campaign. She never was uncomfortable with the idea of us being werewolves, we all know that.”
“She wouldn’t,” Anya argued, “I know Raven and she wouldn’t betray us. She wouldn’t betray me. She wouldn’t betray Keith. It’s probably just a clever little ruse. That’s all.” She didn’t sound that convinced though and I looked at Max, hoping for him to elaborate.
He just looked at me and shook his head. He wasn’t in the mood to talk about it but until I found out what happened my curiosity wouldn’t be sated. Hadley ran her hands through her hair and exhaled loudly.
“It was rough,” Hadley said, “We were ambushed and-”
“Hadley,” Max cut her off and I stared at him in surprise.
“She is our Luna, she deserves to know,” Hadley muttered, “Anyways we were ambushed. We got hurt. We found out that Raven was actually laughing with Loup Chasseur and then we came back here. Keith will try to talk to her tomorrow, I guess.” She gave Max a look, “I didn’t damage her mind. She isn’t as fragile as you think.”
“Hadley,” Rhea admonished, “You know how protectives males are. Alex is just as protective when it comes to you. Let’s just go to sleep. I’m exhausted and we have school tomorrow.” She paused, “Are you coming back to school Trinity?”
I shrugged, “I don’t know. I want to find my family first.”
“My father and I are going out tomorrow to look for your family,” Max murmured, “One of the trackers caught a scent and we’re going to follow it up before it goes completely stale.”
I smiled at him gratefully. We all spoke for a few more minutes before we dispersed and headed to our individual rooms to get some sleep. Instead of following Rhea to her room, I followed Max to his and crawled into the bed, curling up in a ball. In the next few minutes I was asleep.
I was running through the woods. Why? I don’t know. Something was chasing me, I think. I tripped over a branch and laid sprawled on the ground. I didn’t move for a few seconds and then they were upon me. Stabbing and slashing at me. Blood splattered on the ground and across the figures which were just shapes resembling people. I only recognized one person clearly. Raven. Her eyes had a manic light and blood had splattered onto her neck and the white tank top that she was wearing.
I tried to form words but blood dribbled out of my mouth and I started coughing. I was choking on blood. I felt myself slump against the ground. The leaves and ground were stained with red. Darkness swallowed me.
I woke up, gasping for air. Instantly Max was sitting upright and pulling me into his arms.
“What happened,” Max asked, clutching me tighter to his chest and I swallowed, leaning against him.
“I...I just had a nightmare,” I answered as vaguely as I could, “I’m fine.”
“What was the nightmare about,” Max inquired, staring at me concerned and I avoided his eyes.
“I don’t know,” I lied.
Max nodded. He didn’t believe me. I was a terrible liar. I sighed, flopping back down on the bed and burying my face in the pillow. I would just forget about the dream. It didn’t mean anything.