A little warning: this chapter deals with the past of one of the characters. It is nothing too graphic, but it is not pretty. If you wish not to read it, skip the words written in cursive. You will still understand the plot without reading it.
They were going to be mad. Rey knew that much. But the slap that landed on her cheek right after she walked inside their temporary house, still surprised her. She expected Brynn to scold her assailant as she always did, but there was no Brynn to find. Rey was left to face Lia’s wrath on her own.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Lia screamed at her. “Leaving only a stupid note behind. You could have been killed or taken advantage of. Do you even use that brain of yours?”
“Lia, I ...” Rey wanted to stand her ground and try to explain what triggered her to run, but Lia’s eyes dangerously gleamed with unshed tears.
“Lia, what?” The young woman cursed as loud as before. “I was so scared, dammit. You were gone, Brynn was nowhere to be found and S? He wanted to run after you. I - I had to chain him down, Rey. Like some kind of animal. He probably hates me right now. But what was I supposed to do? Let him go after you? As far as I knew, you were dead by then.”
Rey’s whole escape plan lay on one fundamental rock: Brynn being there to calm the storm once Lia and S would find the letter. But that fell apart like a house of cards.
Her heart squeezed as she listened to what Lia had to do, but: “S would never hate you.”
“Yeah? Well, I surely hate myself then. We took an oath, Rey. An oath that we would never do anything to hurt him.”
Rey remembered the day they found him like it was yesterday. The three of them were just leaving one of the villages that needed Brynn’s help when they saw a body thrown into one of the ditches alongside the road.
The boy was more dead than alive when they pulled him out of it, and they had to try for hours to get his healing gene to kick in. It wouldn’t be a problem under normal circumstances. His body was young and strong. But there were simply too many injuries on his body for him to heal on his own and Brynn used up all the potions she had left to heal him.
So many cuts. So many bruises. So much evil.
And what for?
Rey learned the answer a year later.
The first couple of days, the boy refused to talk to them and shivered under any attempt to touch him. No matter how friendly. But not once did he try to escape. Simply because there was no place safer for him to go.
It took months for him to trust them enough to share a meal with them and even longer to share his story. But once he did, Rey cried even more than on the day they found him.
S was a happy child. He grew up only with the mother and never knew his father. They lived in the village solely occupied by humans and he had no idea he was different.
Humans possessed no abilities to recognise a werewolf if he was hiding amongst them. After all, when werewolves didn’t turn into their wolf form, there weren’t many differences between them. A man in complete control of his wolf would be able to spend years infiltrated inside such village and no one would have a clue. Unless something were to trigger his shift.
S was barely ten years old when he first shifted into a wolf and he didn’t understand anything, but one thing. His friend became his enemies.
He and his mother were made an example of what happens to people associating with forest beasts, and S never saw her again. To this day he didn’t know what they did to her, but deep inside, they all knew, it wasn’t anything good.
He never shared with them the exact amount of damage humans did to him, and Rey was a tiny bit glad for that. She didn’t want him to relive all those horrible memories.
He did say he was held in captivity for almost a year and he got disposed of only because the humans thought him dead after one particularly bad day.
It took a lot of coaxing out of all three of them to convince him that shifting into a wolf didn’t mean he was a spawn of evil, and he was free to do so whenever he felt like it. Rey wasn’t much of a help, but Lia was. Thanks to her, it was now harder to get him to shift back to his human form.
“I am so very sorry, Lia. I had no idea it would come to this,” Rey sobbed. “Where is he now?”
She thought for a second that Lia’s anger was so big, she would refuse to share it with her, but she did: “Gone. Left as soon as we got the message that you were alright and coming home. I just hope he went somewhere safe.”
Rey wanted to run after S as soon as the words “I had to chain him down” left Lia’s mouth, but she didn’t have any right to do so. It was clear to see that Lia would give anything to have him in her arms as well, but the best thing they both could do right now was to leave him alone.
He was going to come back. He had to. And if not, Rey would spend an entire lifetime trying to fix the mess she made.
“What about Brynn? Did you find her yet?” The absence of the older woman was an especially unusual one. She made it her priority to always tell them where she was going in case something bad was to happen.
Lia started to shake her head, but the door to their temporary house swung open and Mac came rushing in. His gaze held that of a terrified animal as he blurted out: “Talon. Where is he?”
Seeing his petrified state, Lia rushed to ask him: “What happened?”
He ignored her question, his eyes not leaving Rey: “Answer me! Where the hell is he?”
The urgency in his voice let Rey know that he wasn’t going to like her answer, but it was the only one she had: “I don’t know.”