A Dormant Howl

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Chapter 13

The exchange and the rejection

I stared up at the man in front of me, panting and out of breath. I was too confused, too dumbstruck to understand what was happening at first...then I smelled something delicious. I breathed it in, suddenly feeling warm everywhere. As I open my eyes, they meet familiar eyes I have known all my life.

Tanner...my mate. I felt a single tear of joy slide down my face and I began to smile. Then I noticed his stance, and the way his eyes slid over me with disdain. His eyes grew cold, different and the smirk on his face was predatory. My heart skipped a beat, causing me to pause- alarm bells going off inside my head. Corah stirred inside my head, whining and nervous as we stared at our mate...this is not Tanner.

The man who stood in front of me wasn’t the same person I grew up with. He was changed-- the man from earlier who was nervous and took pride in wearing his mate’s token had vanished, been replaced by an imposter. This version of Tanner was a stranger...and he was not alone.

Before I could even move or say something, I saw Merigold Newton slink up beside him, wrapping her arms about Tanner like an Anaconda would its prey. Like the clans whore she was, she was dressed in something slinky and eye catching, showing off her curves and barely concealing her hooker heeled clad legs. I scowled, knowing instinctively she had not been allowed. Jeremiah had promised me...there were guards at the entrance of our ranch...they wouldn’t have...they couldn’t do this...Tanner. Coldness swept over me that had nothing to do with the snow.

Tanner Wilcox was the Beta. Only second to Jeremiah, his orders were to be respected and obeyed. He could order anyone to do anything...even override strict orders from my family.

“Oh, Desi! So glad to see you but...ugh, honey, didn’t anyone give you a memo about this being a formal event?” She scoffed, pointed out my torn and sullied pre-Cinderella Ball gown appearance. She smiled, batting her eyelashes but her mouth was set to show off her sharp teeth.

“Even for your own party, you look like shit.” She cooed in a saccharine sweet tone. I huffed, opening my mouth to tell her off when Beta Tanner growled-- I thought at her, for her rude comments, yet his face still had a disturbing, painful frown painted on it.

He gingerly pulled himself out of her embrace, only to forcefully grab her by the hips and pull her to him so she was flush against him. She gasped, reaching out to ruffle his hair when his hand slapped across her barely concealed ass.

“Wait for me inside, Meri…NOW!” He ordered, his tone both rough and calculating. It made me and Corah shiver, affecting me in a way I didn’t think was possible. He was just as powerful in his commands as Alpha Jerimiah was, so she flinched as she scurried past me. When the door closed, I walked straight over to Tanner to make my displeasure about her being here known. Chosen mate, she was not welcome- I didn’t care if she was his plus one. She could freeze out here on her ass.

“She’s not permitted in my house; she wasn’t invited to this function. I want her gone.” I quickly snapped at him, a little spit landed on his prominent and attractive chin. As soon as my projectile spit landed on his smooth tanned skin the mood shifted. He glowered at me, his beautiful lips twisting in a sneer.

“We’re together: your invitation allowed me to have a plus one. We are together, Desi. Whatever infatuation you had with me-- let it rest for once, okay? Let’s go inside-- Merigold’s right, you do look like shit. Wouldn’t want your big night ruined.” He ordered coolly, batting aside my objections.

Without a word, he breezed past me to go inside. Anger boiled inside as I marched after him. As I entered the house, I saw Merigold tittering and trying to flirt with Jeremiah, who just scowled. Tanner spotted her and like a moth to flame began to float towards her. Furious I blurted out, “Don’t you dare walk away from me, Tanner Wilcox. Your whore is not welcome here! I order you to take her and leave!”

Everything came to a halt. Everyone stopped talking and moving, their mouths agape and their eyes wide in shock. A few people, my family, and the Nolan family, glowered at Merigold and Tanner while my friends just stared in bemusement and horror, waiting. Merigold stood at the center of the room, her eyes wide in shock and lips quivering in shame. She stared at me, her eyes losing their shock and glinting with malice and she turned her gaze at Tanner. The mood shifted immediately as Tanner turned on his heel to stare daggers at me.

It was as if the music skipped, the lights fluttered and there was suddenly this ominous snarl rising out from under the floorboards he stood on out the top of his head.

Reaching me in two strides, he grabbed me by the arm and yanked me outside. Blocking the door, he ignored calls from family and friends, the clan guests as he stared at me, his eyes dark and glistening with hate. The first and only time I had felt fearful of Tanner was this moment – this exchange. What happened next floored me as he barreled towards me and sweeping me up in a cruel embrace.

“Who are you to tell me who I can and can’t invite out with me? Last time I checked I am the Beta of this clan and you’re not my Beta female, are you Desdemona?” He spat, flecking my cheeks with spittle. I whimpered, the air then catching in my throat as foreboding stirred in my body.

He used my full name. Even at our most distant, he always called me Desi. In this moment in time, I could feel the hatred – the pure, unadulterated disgust radiating off of him and onto me. My chin began to quiver, yet I saw no sympathy in his eyes. My Tanner - the quiet boy who always watched and cared for me, who had taught me how to shoot - was nowhere to be seen.

He shook me, shoving me so I fell back into the snow in a purple heap. I stared at him, dumbstruck as tears and whimpers broke through my mask. His face darkened and lips trembled. It was like he hated me more for even being on the verge of tears.

“But-I, Tanner, y-you must feel it. You and I, we-we are,” I began to answer him back, hoping to reason with him-- I had to make him see, break through that fog now that Merigold was not here. I began rising in a shaky half crouch-- I was almost up when he lunged forward and grabbed my arms, roughly and with intent to cause me pain. I yelped in pain, but that seemed to spur him on. His breaths were coming fast and hot, painting my face in his scent. I stared into his eyes-- there was no kindness or love left there only crazed loathing. For me.

“No, no we’re not!” He snarled, roughly shaking me again. I heard the door finally open-- he must have blocked it --rushing footsteps as my family and guests poured outside to witness our argument. Looking up, I saw Jerry standing there. His face was stricken, his body shaking as he took in the way Tanner was holding me.

Tanner looked up, seeing the group gathered. I thought he would let me go...that he would apologize that he would-- He looked back at me, mouth twisting into a cruel smile. I shook my head-- no, no, no.

“Please, Tanner, please, don’t--” I began. He cut me off, his words ringing through the front yard, “I, Beta Tanner Wilcox reject you, Desdemona Corah Ada Patchett, as my mate and Beta Female.” He said, his eyes suddenly flashing with hurt. I blinked, only to see the same angry and hateful man in front of me. Still holding me, Tanner just stood there, searching for a tear, for some kind of emotional breakdown or maybe a plea to reconsider.

As he finished his testimony, I felt pain rip through me-- sharp as a knife. But I stood, Corah holding me up as she cried and howled in agony of her own. It took just a second to absorb what he did and how it made me feel. Everyone gasped in horror, but I heard a soft cackle coming from the house. Merigold had heard everything--seen everything. I turned away from my family’s crestfallen faces and the disappointed and disgusted ones of the Nolan’s and Wilcox’s. Instead, I met Tanner’s waiting gaze-- I could tell he was taken aback by my impending reaction.

My body began to tremble-- not in pain or hurt...but rage as the change began to take over. He should have known better than to think I would just roll over and let him or his whore trample all over me. He’s known me since I was a cub in diapers. I was stubborn, head strong, and obstinate. There was no way in hell I would show him any form of emotion. I shoved him away from me, his body flying several yards away in the snow. Everyone gasped as he landed, his body making a loud cracking noise.

Merigold screamed from the house and bolted outside, making a mad dash towards me. “You stuck up--” she snarled, her words getting stuck in her throat as someone blocked her path. Mr. Wilcox and Jerry stood there, the rest of the pack following suit.

“You will stand down, Omega Newton-- this is between Tanner and Desdemona,” I heard Mr. Wilcox snarl. I turned back, seeing Tanner rise from the snow-- nonplussed and seething --as he stalked toward me. I began walking toward him, eager to meet him head on.

“You know, there was a time where I thought you could have been my mate,” I began, making sure everyone heard me. I looked over, seeing Merigold peer around Mr. Wilcox and Jerry to glare at me. I smirked, my hand touching the mate token about my neck. She followed my eyes, frowning at the way I stroked it. I turned to look at Tanner, who had stopped in the snow. His eyes were wide, no longer holding the hate and disdain, but confusion and...fear. He looked between me and Meriold, watching the way I stroked the choker as Merigold’s gears were turning as the pieces began to fall into place.

“Especially after giving me the moonstone on my sixteenth birthday,” I huffed, pounding the nail into his coffin. Merigold shrieked and tried to push past everyone when I heard a huff, then a scream as Merigold landed in the snow, her hips and barely-there underwear on full display as my Mama stood over her, pinning her to the snowy ground.

“But now-- I see him for the rat that he is,” I sniffed sourly, standing but an arm’s length away. Then, I erupted in dark bursts of laughter. Tanner frowned, his body shaking in worry. Corah growled inside my head, eager to make her debut.

Patience, girl. One last swing, and he’s all yours, I purred mentally. She settled, crouching inside my head- waiting.

“Hell, I am actually relieved as fuck that he rejected me.” I lied, smiling darkly at him. He froze, his eyes widening in hurt. Huh-- too late for that, you cheap ass bastard.

Adjusting my stance like the warrior I am, I stood tall and looked him dead in the eyes--offering my counterclaim. “I, Desdemona Corah Ada Patchett, with undeniable satisfaction, compliance, and acceptance gladly consent to your rejection. In addition, I release you, Beta Tanner from any obligation, responsibility, or feelings attached to our mate bond.”

And as I uttered those impassioned words, I ripped the beautiful token he ever so gently placed around my neck two years ago and tossed it at his feet. The mate bond snapping had a ricochet effect, causing Tanner to gasp over in pain. I sneered, glaring down at him in disgust. How the tables had turned-- from rejecting to being rejected in a matter of minutes. I felt sad, yet at the same time something new surged through me. Power, liberation, and hate for one of the people I loved the most.

Scoffing, I turned to leave. I had had enough of his smug, glib, indifference. As I began to walk back towards the Lycan shield, Tanner grabbed at me, his hand missing mine only to rip at the silvery fabric of my gown. Growling, I turned quickly, knocking him off kilter as I shoved him with my warrior beast strength and watched him fall down sprawled in the snow.

Looking up, I saw the triumphant gaze of Merigold and the shocked and worried look on my family and friends’ faces. Overwhelming sadness and emptiness settled in me-- it was too much, the pitying looks, the smugness --I had to leave. I needed to escape. Without a word, I bolted-- I had to leave, needed to leave. As I began to run, I felt a powerful grip on my arm. I turned to face Tanner, whose anger and loathing had returned.

“You can’t do that!” He bellowed, reaching to grab at me so I would be flush against him-- trapped, unable to escape. Growling, I snarled back-- giving him pause as Corah took over me. I grabbed at his arm, my newfound Lycan strength bending it back so far, I could hear the tendons and muscles inside his arm pull and nearly rip.

He gasped, gaping at me as he crumpled into a crouch before me, raw pain and shock making him go almost as the pale snow surrounding us. Corah snarled at him as our nails elongated, slicing into Tanner’s swollen triceps so blood ran down his arms and into the snow, creating a gruesome paisley pattern in the snow.

Blood and dull pain filled my mouth-- no, our mouth --as our canines extended and she snarled. The noise reverberated through the valley, causing everyone-- even Merigold --to stare openly at us, at me, in dumbstruck speechlessness. WE pushed him back into the snow until both arms were pinned above his head, our body straddling his and pinning him down-- our hips flush against his. He whimpered and moaned, bucking his hips to throw me off and break my hold on him. Instead, we reached down and savaged his neck, causing him to unleash a blood curdling howl. It was enough to cause Corah and I to shift positions-- if but for a few seconds. And I stared down at him, gasping as blood fell from his neck as he stared at us in horror.

What have we done? We attacked him. We attacked Beta Tanner--

Beta my ass, he deserves it. He’s killed us, our future-- he deserves to die, Corah howled passionately, his warm blood running down her maw. She raised our clawed hand, eager to slash his pretty face to ribbons. Our ears pricked--someone was coming.

We need to stop...we’ll kill him. I reasoned, watching him through my double vision. Corah snarled, showing him back and jumping off him.

We need to leave--now. Before Tanner comes to his senses, Corah ordered-- showing no signs of relinquishing control until we were safe. Neck healing partially, Tanner groaned and turned his familiar eyes at us and scowled, bucking his hips again and knocking us off balance. While we fell away from him, our hands unleashed him. Huffing, we looked up at him-- our body tensed for whatever he would do.

Standing on shaking legs and hand pressed to his throat, Tanner made to grab at us again when we rabbit punched him in the chest and balls, knocking him off balance. We spun, our legs hooking around his neck as we fell back into the snow-- taking him with us. Our ankles locked at the ankles, putting him into a head lock that had both Wren and Tanner angry and eager to come out and play. Sharp claws dug into our partially exposed thighs, but we did not budge.

“Release my human form, mutt!” He thundered, his Beta tone washing over us like chaff in the wind. Corah snarled, her clawed hand striking out and nearly crushing his throat. This defiance didn’t go over well with Tanner, who dug his claws in hard. Snarling, we released him before somersaulting over him to deliver a roundhouse kick to the chest that knocked him backwards, but he did not fall. He glowered at us, Wren almost in full control now, and grabbed at us-- eager to make us submit by whatever means necessary. Corah’s words stopped them both cold.

“You will regret your decision. And when you do, it’ll be too late. You’re a coward, you’re weak and you DO. NOT. DESERVE. US!” We snarled, voices overlapping as we moved into an attack crouch. Even with a steady stream of blood flowing from the wound Corah left on his arm, she took another swipe again. He ducked and weaved, slashing out but missing. Every time, missing. But Corah did not leave anything to chance-- she followed each movement, finally slashing out-- This time along his left cheek. Gasping, he finally released us and at top speed we made our escape through the dark, dank, forest.

Through pain and tears, we ran through the forest on winged feet. I had heard about the Change-- the first Shift that would bring our true beast nature to the surface --was difficult, sometimes painful, or as close to death as one could get without passing into sweet oblivion. Yet we did not experience this, not like I had expected. We glided through the forest as one.

Though we did not shift, both Corah and I moved as one unit, her consciousness taking control and guiding us through the thickest and darkest parts of the forest. I was amazed, that for someone who had remained dormant for so long inside my head, that she was able to move with such grace and guide us through. As she took control, we began to move at top speed as she benefited from all the training and maneuvers and techniques that the most renowned and best warrior general on the Northeast Coast could offer are still inside us from childhood. instinctually I knew my father would have been proud of the both of us, in spite of the circumstances that led us to flee like a thief in the night from my own birthday party, from my own family, and even from my own mate.

At one moment, we paused nearly halfway to our destination which I had an idea of where we needed to go... I even knew that it was necessary to see him, but it had to be done. I had to protect myself, and he was the only one who would be able to allow me that option. Even though Corah did not agree with this, she knew it was for the best and her only option. And so, after a brief respite, and not wanting to be caught unawares by Jerry or my brothers, I allowed myself to be a silent watcher as Corah took control and led us through the forest.

It was amazing, to be a silent observer….unlike anything I had expected. It was like being an outsider, like a having an out of body of experience while still being attached...it was so hard to explain and yet, that is the only way I can describe this feeling as I watched Corah move and guide us. She was graceful, agile, and fast even in my human form. As we headed to the perimeter, I could hear the noise, the chatter...my mother and brothers...they were worried, they were going to come and search for me.

I have to tell them, I said to Corah. We chuffed, Corah shaking her head resolutely.

No, we cannot. They saw what happened, even heard it-- we cannot let them stop us. We have to do this, Desdemona Patchett! She snarled; her words laced with venom as we continued to run though our pace had slowed somewhat. I reached out, taking back control of my body, nearly straining with the effort to hold onto control, long enough...just long enough to drive the point home.

They are our family-- we cannot say goodbye like this, Corah-- not after everything. My mother deserves more than that, even my brothers-- dumbasses that they may be--deserve more.

After a moment of silence, she finally stopped moving. Our body halted, our feet tingling from the freshly fallen snow. We looked up at the sky, staring into the face of the bright full moon. The trees here we’re sparser, less dense. We would be able to find our way to our destination. In the distance, I could hear sirens and the howling of wolves--no, not wolves. Bigger than wolves - beasts.

Closing our eyes, we opened our mind-- reaching out until we felt a familiar presence...Mama, RJ, Jensen...they were there. When they felt me and Corah, the voices became a pounding cacophony of worry and anger.

Baby, where are you? Come home so we can…Mama began, only to be cut off by RJ. He sounded angry as a hive of disturbed wasps...

Damn son of a bitch! Beta or no beta, he’s a son of-- Soon RJ’s words were cut off, replaced by that of Jensen, who sounded just as angry yet proud. So proud. He was strange to hear these words come out of his mouth, when there had always seemed to be a distance there.

--man, whore who got off easy. Holy shit did you see her? Pops would be so damn proud! Those marks on his arm and face-- shame that he’s Lycan and will likely heal easily. Would be nice to see him have some wounds for once--

Jensen, RJ, please! Sweetie, where are you? Why did you run off? Come back and--?

We laughed with snide relief. Justified in my reaction, I was in hysterics as I leapt, darted, and sailed over earthly debris.

See? I told you this was a bad idea. Now they’re going to try stopping us...you know what you need to do. Corah coaxed though not ungently.

Somehow my mood shifted, replaced by anger. I could hear noise coming, my brothers were coming to find me. I had to remind them of what just happened, keep them away.

Come back to what, Mama? And yeah, Jensen, he is a son of a who’re, but he is-- WAS --my mate and rejected me. He rejected me-- a girl he was sworn to protect, to care for. No justification, no emotion, nothing. So, I accepted gladly, but I cannot stay there. He’s with Meri...Meri, of all the FUCKING she-beasts. Nothing justifies this betrayal.

For a moment, there was silence. Then I heard a sad sigh, as Mama tries reaching out again across the gap. I could feel my brothers and someone else closing in, but I was too far from them to know who, and too absorbed in my mission to care.

Oh, honey please don’t leave like this. At least let us meet you somewhere. My mother was sobbing. Corah and I felt it. We felt it all and it was excruciating. I heard mournful howls then, coming almost a mile and a half away from me.

Just let us meet you somewhere. You don’t have to run away, Desi. Please. RJ plead with me. Jensen broke in too, their voices suffocating and newly breaking my resolve. Just then, Corah took over for me as we ran, and I spoke to them.

I’m not a child. I can take care of myself. I feel their intimacy already and it’s ripping us apart. Corah is already being affected and I am not putting her through this. I have done enough to her by suppressing her for 3 years. I don’t want to lose her this way, not when I can stop it. I love you guys, I will miss you, but this is goodbye. I won’t be back, don’t look for me. I will be blocking you out after this and I destroyed my phone – so no calls.

But, sweetie, the Alpha- Jeremiah -is looking for you. He wanted to see you. My mother gave it one last shot. Corah and I nearly stopped running at this admission. I considered but for a moment wresting control from her, but we were soon moving again: it was just a way to get me to respond, but he had no reason to want to see me. Please, Des. Don’t go.

I couldn’t listen anymore. I blocked them all out. It wasn’t that I didn’t hear Jeremiah, I did but I chose to ignore his pleas to answer him.

Another hole broke through the silence, farther away but I knew that howl... Tanner. A lifetime ago, it might have been something that made me stop and think, but it meant shit now. If it meant anything-- if I meant anything --he would have been on my heels, trying to get me back. But, for whatever reason he had to reject me, that had more power over him than the bond.

For the rest of our run, Corah took control-- being happy to be unleashed as we ran. After being locked away for nearly 3 years, she had so much energy and so much strength it was exhilarating to let someone else take control. It was fantastic how much quicker it was to reach the border with Corah’s influence - a 30-minute run and we made it to the border lines.

I stood in front of the cabin I was searching for. I haven’t been here since I was 14. That day I spent here with him was enlightening and somehow, he knew I would be back. That fairytale he told me about mates, rejection, and the effects of the rejection all made sense to me now and there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to rid myself of these vile, heartbreaking feelings. I wanted Tanner gone from my life, from my ether, from my memories. I was going to have him erased forever. Or, until the pain goes away.

Corah, are you okay? My beast was either exhausted because of the run or from the constant pain of the bond breaking. Despite that bond breaking between me and Tanner, I could still feel the tell-tale signs of him and Meri mating with one another.

My stomach recoiled and I felt bile rise to my throat. I had physically injured him, and in some small way maybe damaged his fucking male ego. But Meri was there to comfort him and take care of him in a way that I could not understand. How could anyone do something like this to me, or even to my brother?

Anger rose in me, my claws extending on their own and piercing my palms as the thought of ripping Meri limb from limb and crushing Tanner flashed through my mind. I could feel Corah recoil and whimper as though in extreme anguish, and I sighed-- letting go of the illusion to comfort her and, in some way, myself.

Don’t worry, I said gently, I’ll make it all better for the both of us. I just took a moment, staring up at this ominous, dismal cabin from the porch.

I could feel my poor Corah, pacing and whimpering. Perhaps she was afraid of what was about to happen? All I know is, she wasn’t happy about being here. Truth be told, neither was I.

We have no choice now. Lennon can save us...he has to. And without another word or utterance of concern, I walked over the threshold and toward the porch to awaken the monster within. If only I and Corah had known how true a statement that was.

A Red-headed Drink of Water (POV Unknown): 2008 (Flash back)

I have been watching her ever since she arrived in town. Her whore of a half-breed mother, unbeknownst to her she had never known of her existence, had called me saying that her own child had smelled a strange scent—a scent that should be gone from the Earth and yet it was so familiar. I tried to assure her that such a thing was impossible, yet she persisted growling and snarling at me over the phone.

“You told me that she would be safe!” She hissed at me over the phone, her voice sounding angry and yet low as though she did not want anyone else to hear her. To know what she and her husband, the famed general of renown, had done. I smiled broadly over the phone, knowing she would not be able to see my reaction but still she should have known better than to call me. Especially with my ties to the old ways, she should have known I would use this knowledge and this information against her in some way. However, I was not going to let her know this.

“I promise I will look into this for you. I highly doubt it’s the same person, maybe it’s a blood relative passing through that none of you knew about or perhaps your little daughter is mistaken in what she saw or smelled. But I will look into it and get back to you,” I lied coolly before hanging up.

And so, I left my paradise in the woods and searched for her. Despite my age, I have not fallen into senility but can smell and remember everything. Soon, I am able to track my quarry to just outside of Meri’s Sweet Treats and Tricks. I chuckle at the name, knowing the namesake is anything but sweet, and is nothing but a common little whore who once even had the audacity to spread her legs for me in offering.

The remembrance makes me itch and my stomach recoil in disgust. I am many things, but a pedophile is not one of them. I instead struck up a bargain for something else...something more useful than sexual favors. However, as she is now older, her favors may be useful in some way…

I watch the girl inside, working behind the counter. She looks bored and out of place, radiant red hair tumbling past her shoulder in errant curls, her green eyes flashing as she watches everyone move-- waiting to help, in any way possible. I decide to investigate further, make myself known, and see if what that blasted half-breed said may be true.

As soon as I open the door, I am hit by the smell of burnt sugar, chocolate, and something else...spicy and sweet. As I peer at the items in the display case, the scent grows stronger...it seems the half-breed and her overly curious daughter were in the right.

“Hi welcome to Meri’s Sweet Treats. My name is Delta Rose and how may I help you today?” She says sweetly, the cadence of her voice rich and lilting across the plump redness of her lips. Those lips broaden into a welcoming but fake smile--her eyes tell me everything I need to know.

The prodigal daughter, the bastard of the Silver Bullet Clan, has come home. And despite not knowing me or how I have had some hand in changing her life, she doesn’t trust me. Smart girl...but this will make things difficult...so difficult.

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