Ember Rains (Book 1)

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Chapter 2: Defensive

‘You okay?’ Rowan asked, nudging me lightly and cocking her head to the left.

‘Fine.’ I groaned before turning to face the she-wolf and her pup.

I couldn’t see the pup behind where she stood protectively. Her fiery red fur stood on end, making it difficult to see where she was bleeding from. The snarl she gave me was forced and weak. Her tiny body trembled adding to the illusion of flames.

Suddenly her legs seemed to fail her and she fell to the ground. A small yap notified me of the pup’s fear. I lowered my head in a gesture of peace as I stepped forward with a soft whimper. Showing in every way possible that I wasn’t a threat; I instinctively wanted to help.

However she either didn’t get my message, or she just didn’t believe it. I assumed the latter. She snarled weakly, forcing herself back to her feet, trembling. She was hunched over with her head down. Despite the weak snarling, nothing in her body posture suggested she wanted to fight.

‘She’s hurt badly, what’s with her fur? I have never seen anything like it?’ Rowan asked carefully as she stepped up behind me.

‘I don’t know.’ I responded fighting the urge to get closer, I didn’t know why I wanted so badly to help her.

‘She’s scared of us. Mate is scared of us.’ Brooke whined.

I froze and stared at her wide eyed. ‘Mate?’ I asked him, watching as she shied away from me again.

Brooke only whimpered softly in response.

‘I’ll be right back, stay there.’ I nodded at Rowan before backing behind a tree and quickly changing back and throwing on my cut off jean shorts and white t-shirt.

Shock flashed through my mates eyes as I returned in my weaker form. It was not a normal move to show yourself in human form to wolves you didn’t know and trust well. It could be dangerous. It took precious seconds to shift and by then the other wolf could have already made their move.

“Shift.” I commanded calmly.

She whimpered, fighting my command. I wasn’t Alpha but as the Beta in this territory I had a certain amount of authority. Every wolf in the territory, aside from the Alpha, had to respect that.

I quickly pulled my shirt off and tossed it towards her realizing that she might not have any clothes. It comforted me that she was modest enough to care. I didn’t want anyone to see her either, but I needed to talk to her. I needed to see what she looked like.

“Shift, now.” I commanded again, my deep voice echoing with an authoritative ringing tone.

I glanced away as her fur started to ripple and she shifted. I listened to the fabric as it slid over her body then turned back. My breath was suddenly trapped in my throat.

My shirt hung to her knees and already had splotches of blood staining the white fabric. Her long strawberry blonde hair was hung in loose waves down her back, matted with mud and blood. Her fair skin was several shades lighter than my own almond skin tone.

It was her warm brown eyes staring at me terrified that caught my attention the most though. I wasn’t just a threat to her. I wasn’t a possible danger, because to her there was no doubt. I was perilous and not to be trusted.

“What’s your name?” I asked calmly, hiding the internal fight against the desperate pull I felt towards her. She was definitely my mate.

“Myra.” Her bell voice chimed quietly as she bowed slightly to my authority.

I frowned internally, I’m not commanding her. I don’t want her to feel she has to submit to me, why would she bow. I thought hard on how I could come across any less threatening, I couldn’t think of any though.

“What’s your business in the New Moon territory?” I asked robotically.

“I…” She started, then froze staring at Zane as he walked back up next to me.

‘He’s long gone.’ Zane said calmly.

I nodded my thanks then gestured for him to join Rowan behind me. Rowan nuzzled his neck as he joined her and they stood close enough that they were touching. Zane watched Myra with steady eyes, trying to determine what level of threat she may be.

‘How about you guys go get lemons for Trish, looks like I won’t be getting to a store today.’ I asked, biting back the irritation from him making Myra even more uncomfortable.

‘You sure you’re okay? Should we chase them off as well?’ Zane asked curiously.

‘Mine!’ Brooke snarled in our heads.

‘Finally!’ Rowan shrieked excitedly as Zane flinched at my tone.

Rowan took a step forward and Myra growled weakly. Her protective instincts automatically triggered my own. In response to her weak threat Zane snarled a warning as Rowan froze. I stepped between Zane and Myra protectively.

‘Go!’ I snapped in return, glaring at Zane, who for his part looked slightly abashed.

Rowan nodded then nudged Zanes shoulder playfully before loping into the trees, Zane rolled his large eyes following with a raspy barking chuckle. Before he disappeared completely he stopped looking back.

‘I’m sorry, it was instinctive.’ He thought, then he was gone.

I, of course, already knew this. Rowen was Zanes’ mate of course he would step in if she was threatened at all. That didn’t however stop the anger I felt towards him for threatening my mate

I turned back to Myra, smiling patiently. “My apologies, continue please.”

“I didn’t know we were, I was just running…” She flinched as she said the word we, before glancing over my shoulder to where the other wolf had vanished.

“Zane said he’s long gone.” I said comfortingly. After a couple seconds I added in a disbelieving tone, “You didn’t smell the border line.”

“Well, yes.” Her cheeks flushed red as she shifted her weight staring intently at the ground, “I hoped he wouldn’t follow us here.”

Suddenly the child’s face appeared for a moment at her side. He peeked out with his dark green eyes wide, but not with fear. He stared at me in awe, his black hair poking out at odd angles. He looked to be about five or six, which shocked me.

Since she was my mate she had to be my age or less then a year younger. So Myra had to be twenty-one or twenty-two. She wasn’t even old enough to have a mate when she had a child?

Despite the different hair color he was clearly her child. It was like someone had copied and pasted her facial features onto the child. His eyes were the same almond shape, he had her nose, and stared at me with the same cautious untrusting expression.

Myra crossed her trembling arms, sidestepping to block my view of the child again. I watched as she winced at the movement and listened to her heart as it raced.

“You were injured, are you healing?” I asked, suddenly concerned. I stepped forward, reaching out to help.

“I’m fine.” She snapped limping backwards.

Brooke whimpered in the back of my head. I tried to ignore the metaphorical knife she had just driven into my ribs. This wasn’t how it was meant to be. Werewolves didn’t have to earn the trust of their mate. We automatically knew that hurting them would be like hurting ourselves.

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