Diamond's Edge

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Peace When You Are Done

Chapter 12

Ellie


I was visibly trembling when Valen and the other wolves entered the building. He was still human, but his eyes were glowing the brilliant green of his wolf. He knelt in front of me, where I still crouched next to Eric’s body, pressing his forehead to mine as he wrapped his arms around me, holding me against him.

“She…. she just killed him. I was getting through to him and she just killed him.” The words were muffled against his chest but I knew he heard me. Rather than respond out loud, his arms tightened around me as his wolf’s voice rumbled through my head.

I am afraid Eric was lost to this world long before he was killed. His wolf’s appearance shows just how far gone he was.

“He’s right, Ellie. I’m sorry.” Valen’s voice was gentle but final. I closed my eyes, swallowing the sobs that had threatened to take hold. I felt warm cloth draped around my shoulders as one of the wolves placed a blanket around me. I’d forgotten until that moment that I was naked. Whether that spoke more to my state of mind or my comfort with being a werewolf, I didn’t know and I wasn’t going to question it at that moment, just grateful for the added comfort.

“They…. they got Siri.” I did sob slightly then but Valen’s arms tightened around me.

“Shhh, she’s ok. We got to her in time. She’ll heal. Slowly, but she’ll heal.” I gasped, relief flooding through me. My wolf, however, seemed less surprised. I glanced inwardly and felt her pulling me toward something. Valen’s wolf was there too, so I followed it without hesitation. As I reached our goal, I felt other, fainter presences surrounding me.

This is our pack. Valen’s wolf sounded calm, and that peace surrounded me as he spoke, quieting my lingering unease. That is until something jolted down the pack bonds and through me, into Valen.

“Something’s wrong.” My voice held no question as Valen stiffened.

“To the Pack House. Now.” He spoke to his wolves as he stood with me. Together we rushed back to the waiting vehicle with the other wolves in tow, racing back toward the pack house, and the alarm that had been raised around it.

^ ^ ^

Evie


“So, let me get this straight: all I have to do is have the most money at the end? And I win?” Jonah’s voice was suspicious. Evie glanced at Anabelle to see the latter hiding a grin before turning back to her brother and nodding. “And no one can steal my money?” He looked to Tommy this time, who in turn glanced at his sister for confirmation.

“No one can steal from you, but you can sometimes land on spaces that require you to pay others. And you have to get a job in order to get money. Unless you want to go to college first, in which case you have to pay money in loans and then get a job.”

“Why would I want to pay to go to school?” Jonah’s voice was utterly disgusted in the way only a seven-year-old’s could be. Tommy, at nine, didn’t look any more enthused by the idea. He glanced down at the game board again before pointing at a pink tile.

“What is this spot for?” Anabelle glanced at the spot in question before hiding a giggle.

“Congratulations: It’s a Girl.” She read, still trying to hold back laughter. Both boys simultaneously shoved themselves away from the board like it was contagious.

“I don’t want to play anymore.” Tommy stated.

“Me either.” Jonah agreed, shaking his head vigorously.

“Come on, guys, it’s fun!” Anabelle coaxed, but both boys continued their protests. Finally, Anabelle sighed, defeated. “Fine, what do you guys want to do all day then?” Evie glanced at the clock.

“We only have a few more hours until Mom gets home, anyway. We could go outside for a while and look around. Or explore here. This house is huge.” The boys glanced at each other again before shrugging.

“Works for us, but we stay together, ok?” Tommy sounded a lot younger as he added the last part, eyeing his sister meaningfully. Evie glanced at Jonah to see that he was watching her with just as much intensity. She held her hand out, pinky extended. Jonah met hers with his and they nodded, an agreement they’d formed a few years ago, during the worst part of the divorce. It could never be broken, that was the promise.

* * *

They’d been to the attic, the basement, the kitchen, the west wing, the garden outside, the kitchen, the green house, and were heading back toward the kitchen when the activity in the house changed tone slightly. It was a subtle shift, but Evie noticed the wolves around them went from going about their relaxed daily activities to bustling much quicker through the hallways. She glanced at Anabelle, who met her gaze and nodded. She’d seen it too.

“You guys go on in. I want to ask Tyson something.” Anabelle stated, spotting the wolf in question as he and Valen made their way toward the front door. Both boys nodded but Jonah hung back, grabbing Evie’s hand.

“I think something’s wrong.” His voice was still the small, higher pitched sound of the seven-year-old he was, but his words were sounding more and more like an older, wiser version of himself. Evie nodded, acknowledging his concern.

“I think you’re right. Go with Tommy, Anna and I will check it out and meet you guys in a few minutes.” After the slightest hesitation, Jonah nodded and he and Tommy turned and entered the kitchen. Anabelle and Evie turned in the opposite direction, following Tyson and Valen as they reached the stairs leading to the main entrance.

“Tyson!” Anabelle called before they could exit the building. He paused before Valen nodded and he turned completely to face them. “Something’s happening.” It wasn’t a question but Tyson nodded.

“Where’s my mom?” Evie asked, suddenly feeling uneasy.

“She’s at work but something’s come up and we’re going to get her.”

“But Siri’s with her still, right?” Anabelle asked, Tyson nodded and she breathed a sigh of relief. Evie wasn’t so easily comforted.

“Why is everyone suddenly on high alert?” She persisted. Tyson glanced behind him briefly but Valen was already outside. He met Evie’s gaze.

“We’re going to get your mom and everything will be ok. For now, that will have to work, ok? I promise I’ll explain more when we get back.” Evie thought about that for a second before nodding. Tyson smiled kindly and then turned back to the door, following Valen outside as two other wolves joined them in front of one of the SUVs. Anabelle glanced at Evie as the car sped out of the driveway.

“Something bad is happening, isn’t it…” That wasn’t really a question either but Evie gulped before reaching her hand out. Anabelle took it and the two girls watched as the wolves around them began preparing the house for what looked like a siege.

* * *

Evie allowed the first two hours to pass before she truly began getting worried. She knew her mom’s clinic was a good hour away from the pack house, but even then, someone should have heard from Tyson and Valen by now. She’d stopped a few of the wolves as they’d rushed by the kitchen, where she and Anabelle were trying to keep the boys busy. None of them were willing to disclose too much information, but it was clear that something had happened.

“Why aren’t they back yet?” Anabelle murmured, trying to keep the boys from hearing. Evie shrugged, her stomach in knots. Before either of them could say anything further, Jonah glanced up from the castle he and Tommy had been constructing out of building blocks.

“The storm is coming.” He stated, his voice matter-of-fact. Evie glanced out the window as sunlight streamed through it before eying her brother again.

“No, it’s not.” Tommy stated, equally as sure of himself. Evie glanced at Anabelle who shrugged.

“He’s afraid of thunderstorms so every morning he has me check the radar to see if there will be one. He’s right, nothing showed up.” Evie glanced back at Jonah, who shrugged, his attention returned to the castle as he fiddled with something on one of the towers. After a brief hesitation, Tommy did the same. Evie glanced at Anabelle again and without further communication between them, both girls stood as one and exited the kitchen.

“What do you think he meant by that?” Anabelle asked. Evie shrugged, glancing back into the kitchen at where both boys were immersed in their project.

“He’s been saying things like that a lot lately. When Valen found us in my closet it was Jonah who convinced me we should trust him.” She shook her head. “If he thinks there’s a storm coming, there probably is. It just may not mean what we think it does.” Just as she finished speaking a blaring alarm sounded all around them. Evie slapped her hands over her ears as she and Anabelle rushed back to the boys, both of whom were cowering under the table they’d been playing at, their own hands clamped tightly over their ears.

“The storm!” Jonah shouted to be heard over the deafening sirens. Three wolves rushed into the room before spotting them and hurrying over.

“Come with us!” They shouted. Anabelle and Evie nodded before removing their hands from their ears so they could assist the boys. They rushed down the hallway and around a few corners before turning into one of the rooms in what Evie recognized as the medical wing. “Stay here.” One of the wolves instructed before closing the door behind them, effectively containing them in the room.

“Anabelle?” The voice was fragile and coated with pain. Evie turned before gasping at the sight of Siri laying in the hospital bed. She looked like she’d been hit by a truck.

“What happened?!” Anabelle cried, rushing forward, Tommy on her heals.

“Where’s mommy?” Jonah’s voice was fragile as he grabbed Evie’s hand and squeezed tightly. Evie shook her head, unsure how to respond.

“We were ambushed.” Siri’s voice was horse and she coughed several times before she could continue. “They took her and before I could stop them, they shot me.” She indicated the mound of bandages wrapped around her torso. “Valen went after them. Don’t worry, he’ll bring her back safe.” Her voice was kind, but her eyes were worried. The sirens were still blaring in the hallway but the sound was deadened in the room.

“What’s going on out there?” Evie asked, trying to keep her mind away from all of the ways in which everything may not be ok. Siri shrugged, then winced.

“I’m not sure. Tyson is out there, though. He’ll figure it out.” She smiled weakly.

“Has this ever happened before?” Anabelle asked. Siri shook her head.

“Not since I’ve been part of the pack.”

“How long is that? If it’s ok that I ask…” Evie trailed off but Siri smiled kindly.

“About fifteen years. I’m a younger member of the pack, in terms of wolf-years.” She chuckled weakly and winced again. She opened her mouth like she was going to say more before closing it with a snap and furrowing her brow instead.

“What is it?” Anabelle asked.

“Tyson. He says there are intruders on the grounds.” She made to rise from her bed but winced again and fell backward. Anabelle and Evie each reacted instinctually, catching each of her arms and easing her gently back down to the pillows.

“What do we do?” Tommy’s voice was soft and there were tears in his eyes but he stood his ground. Beside him, Jonah nodded.

“Stay here. If I can’t help out there, I can at least make sure you stay safe in here. The likelihood of someone making it this far in is slim but if someone does manage to get past everyone else in the house, I need you to hide in that closet.” Siri indicated the door in question and Anabelle and Evie exchanged glances around her.

Evie could feel her heartrate quicken as her stomach knotted with fear. The last time she’d encountered a situation where her home was under attack, it had led her into this strange and dangerous new world and while she loved the light that had returned to her mother’s eyes because of it, she wasn’t fond of the fact that she now found herself in more dangerous situations than she ever had before. More importantly, she now found Jonah in more dangerous situations than ever before.

As if he could hear her thoughts, Jonah reached out and grasped her hand in his, squeezing slightly. She glanced at him and he smiled reassuringly. “We’ll be ok, Evie.” He stated, again in that matter-of-fact voice he had no business using at his age. Before she could respond there was a resounding crash in the hallway.

“Closet. Now.” Siri’s voice held no room for argument, despite its weaker tone. Anabelle ushered both boys inside before returning to Evie’s side. “Girls…” She trailed off menacingly.

“We’re not leaving you out here alone. We stand a better chance if we work together.” Evie stated, glancing around the room for anything she could use as a weapon. Her eyes landed on a medical cart in the corner and the scalpel blade laying there. She picked it up, its slight weight comforting in her hand. Anabelle grabbed one of the syringes filled with some sort of sedative (it was on the label).

The door handle turned slowly and Evie grasped the scalpel more firmly, feeling it slide around in her damp palm. As the door swung forward, she readied herself to strike. She’d just taken a step forward when the door opened fully to reveal a man standing there. Evie didn’t recognize him, but behind her Siri gasped.

“Arthur?” She inquired; her voice hesitant. The man smiled but the expression wasn’t pleasant. It made Evie feel like she was covered in dirty oil, like she needed a shower. Rather than answer Siri, the man, Arthur, stepped further into the room so that for the first time Evie could see that there was another, smaller statured man just behind him.

Evie nearly gasped out loud and, beside her, Anabelle did. The thing that crept into the room behind Arthur didn’t look like either a wolf or a man but rather a sick combination of both. Anabelle immediately began trembling and the syringe fell from her now limp fingers and clanged to the ground. Evie could only imagine what she was going through. She hadn’t seen her father the night he’d attacked their house, but she assumed he’d looked similar to the creature now standing in front of her. However, this was not her father, this was someone, or rather, something else.

The beast stalked further into the room and Evie glanced beside her to where Siri followed the thing’s movements with an expression that was both calculating and disgusted.

“Arthur, what have you done?” She murmured. The man cackled and Evie was forcibly reminded of the main villain in a cartoon she used to watch as a child.

“For one thing, it’s Alpha to you.” Despite his earlier amusement, his laughter wasn’t present in his voice at all.

“It’s Beta. Beta Arthur Nations of the River Blade pack. Does Alpha Ramsey know you’re here?” Siri’s voice held an edge of disdain, and Evie wondered if the men present knew her well enough to pick up on the fatigue still heavily present. She sincerely hoped not. Siri curled her lip into a sneer that would have looked more at home on her wolf. “What are you doing here?” She demanded. Arthur laughed again and stalked forward, placing himself only a few feet from the edge of Siri’s hospital bed. The beast moved as well, placing itself directly in the way of any escape through the still open door. Evie glanced over at Anabelle to see that the latter had regained some of her bravado. She’d placed herself in front of the closet that hid their little brothers.

“The surest way to crumble a pack is to take out the women and children first.” He said it like it was the simplest, most obvious reason in the world for him to be standing in the middle of their hospital ward. He glanced next to him, at the beast staring hungrily at the three of them, saliva actually dripping from its mouth. He must have given some kind of signal, because the beast readied itself to strike. Before it could move, however, something knocked into it from the direction of the doorway with the force of a freight train.

^ ^ ^

Ellie

“Drive faster.” Valen’s voice was tense from beside me in the back seat. He’d allowed one of the wolves to drive in order to stay at my side and I was grateful. Without comment, the wolf, Liam, obliged. We were now nearing fifty miles above the speed limit, but it worked for me as long as we reached the pack house as soon as possible. My head was pounding as my wolf scrambled against the walls of my mind, desperate for escape so she could fight for her pack. I wasn’t necessarily opposed to the idea, but I decided shifting in the confines of the SUV was probably not the best idea. Beside me, Valen appeared to be enduring the same struggle.

“How much further?” I murmured, still not used to the drive. Valen glanced over at me and noticed my struggle. He reached his hand out and gripped mine, squeezing tightly.

“Not far.” He answered, his voice as clipped as my own. His eyes were reflecting the brilliant green of his wolf and I was sure my own had gone opaque.

“Can you tell what’s happening?” I asked. Valen appeared to gaze inward before shaking his head.

“Tyson is occupied.” He stated, his voice betraying nothing of the worry I could feel radiating down the mate bond. From the front seat, Mason, the other wolf who’d come with Valen, growled quietly. Valen reached forward, placing a calming hand on the latter’s shoulder. The growling ceased and Mason turned a grateful expression on Valen.

“Thank you, Alpha.” He muttered. In answer, Valen nodded.

“When we arrive, I want you to go straight to the infirmary.” Valen ordered the wolves in front of us. Both nodded without comment. He turned to me and I spoke before he could.

“Where will we be?” I only slightly emphasized the plural. I swear I heard one of the wolves in the front seat snort in amusement. Judging from his slight look of annoyance, Valen had heard it too. I smiled innocently as he turned that annoyance toward me.

“Ellie…”

“We fight together, remember?” I stated, not giving in. Valen closed his eyes, inhaling slowly, before opening them again.

“We find Tyson and determine exactly what we’re dealing with.” He stated, I nodded, squeezing his hand in mine. In my head, my wolf did a slight happy dance, now that she knew we wouldn’t be separated from the chance to protect our pack.

* * *

When we roared into the driveway of the pack house what felt like hours later, chaos reigned. There were wolves scattered all over the grounds. Some of them I recognized, others I didn’t. I hoped those were the enemy, and not just wolves I’d not met yet. Valen took in the scene with a practiced eye as he flung his door open before the SUV had stopped moving fully. I followed close behind as Liam and Mason rushed to do as they’d been told, entering the house at a run.

“He’s this way.” Valen stated without turning to me. I followed him as he headed around the house, toward one of the gardens I’d not gotten the chance to explore. We found Tyson tending to a fallen wolf near the tomato plants. He glanced up at us but didn’t seem surprised to find us there.

“Alpha.” His voice was clipped, to-the-point. I guessed they’d been in this situation, or similar, before. “They attacked from all angles. It was like they knew you were gone. I recognized a few wolves from River Blade, but the rest are unknown.” The whole time Tyson was speaking, neither he nor Valen were looking at each other. Tyson was focused on the wolf he was tending (I’d seen her around the house but hadn’t caught her name yet) and Valen was scanning our surroundings.

I filed River Blade under the category of ‘find out later’, unwilling to interject while they were so focused. Instead, I took a page out of Valen’s playbook and scanned the grounds around us. The wolves I could see were either dying or dead. At first, I wasn’t sure how I knew that, until I looked inward again and started listening to my wolf. This turned out to be a smart move a few seconds later as she snarled in my head.

I turned just as the monster staggered out of the surrounding trees. If I hadn’t watched Eric die, I might have mistaken it for him. It had the same wild eyes, though a bright blue instead of the golden of Eric’s, and the same matted, wild appearance. It had to be another rogue, though I wasn’t sure where it had come from or who it had been before.

My wolf was faster than both Valen and the rogue, something she was proud of and fully intended to gloat about when this battle was won. I shifted mid step, shedding my clothes painfully as my body exploded into fur and fangs. I landed in front of the rogue and catapulted myself forward and upward, jaws snapping around his exposed neck. I clamped my teeth around him, feeling tendons tear beneath my powerful jaws followed by the warm rush of fresh blood as his jugular gave way under the force of my bite. The rogue struggled once, feebly, before his lifeforce was emptied down my muzzle and on the ground around us. I unclenched my jaws, shaking my head to rid myself of the worst of the blood.

In my wolf’s form I picked up on the intruders that still surrounded our home. I snarled, my wolf’s anger joining with my own, before throwing my head back and howling my rage to the forest around us.

Behind me, Valen’s howl joined my own. I cut off and turned, seeing his wolf standing proudly next to a slightly smaller grey wolf that I knew to be Tyson.

Nicely said, Love. Now let us remind these animals who they are dealing with. Valen’s wolf sounded in my head. My wolf answered his voice with her own.

We will bathe in the blood of those who dare threaten what is ours. Strangely, I didn’t disagree.

* * *

We split up. I wasn’t happy about it, but it was the right thing to do. Valen continued around the house in the direction we’d been going, while Tyson and I went back the way we’d come to circle around the other side. The reason I wasn’t happy about it was because that put Valen on his own until we found more of our pack. I could sense them easier now in my wolf’s form than in my own, but that didn’t mean I knew where they were or even if they were able to fight. The invaders had done a number on our unsuspecting pack. Many of them were scattered, in both wolf form and human, around the grounds. It looked like despite their surprise, however, our wolves had managed to inflict nearly as much damage to them.

Where are the kids? I asked Tyson via the pack bond.

Safe, they're with Siri in the hospital ward. Valen sent Liam and Mason to guard them. It's the most secure location on the grounds.

Where are the attackers? This question was met with silence. I could sense them around us, but they weren’t making themselves known easily. What are they waiting for?

As if my musing had been the signal they were waiting for, the wolves streamed out of the forest around us. As they appeared, the bubble of silence we’d been trapped in evaporated, allowing me to both sense and hear the battle that raged around us. Our pack was scattered throughout the trees, fighting the enemy on multiple fronts. We weren’t losing, but we weren’t winning either.

Fuck! Tyson’s curse was all the warning I had before he was ambushed on all sides by four enemy wolves. I had little chance to assist him, however, as I faced an enemy of my own.

These wolves were most definitely not rogues, if my previous experience was any indication. They were strong and healthy, and they were bearing down on me from all sides. I snarled, snapping my teeth together menacingly. In my head, my wolf echoed the sound.

At my wolf’s urging, I flung my weight to the side rather than attacking head on. It worked, the enemy at my right wasn’t expecting the move, so when I slammed into her, she was thrown off balance, sending us both tumbling several yards from her cohorts. The move also effectively removed me the uncomfortable scenario of being surrounded on all sides. I could still hear the snarling of Tyson and his assailants, but could no longer see them as my momentum had propelled me around the corner of the house, cutting them off from view.

Be safe, My Lalina. Tyson’s parting words were strained as he fought his battle but the sentiment was clear and I appreciated it. I bared my teeth at my attackers, now able to face all four of them at the same time, the other three having followed their comrade and I around the corner.

The enemy wolves weren’t going to give me any time to regroup. After a brief, barely noticeable exchange, they pounced. My wolf and I were able to catalog their movements between the two of us:

We countered the first swipe of a massive, clawed paw with one of our own, sending the larger wolf spinning past us with his own momentum. This, however, allowed the first female, the one we’d attacked, to get her teeth around our side. She shook her head viciously and I yelped involuntarily. That was all the warning I gave however. Using the front paw on the side she had grabbed, I pushed backward, raking my claws down her exposed flank as I back-pedaled away from her. The unsuspected pain caused her to break her grip and I was able to twist away from her, though leaving a significant amount of my fur and flesh behind in her jaws. I snarled again, turning so that my back was against the house. The solid wall behind me made my wolf calmer as we faced off against the enemy once again.

Just as the animals in front of me readied themselves for the next wave, something caught my wolf’s attention from inside the house. I wasn’t positive what it was, exactly. Not at first. Regardless, one word echoed through my wolf’s mind. Protect.

That was all the motivation I needed. There was only one reason I needed to be protecting someone, well, four reasons, and they were all currently inside the house, where my wolf’s attention had been drawn. I snarled again before lunging forward, latching my jaws around the nearest attacker’s throat. I bit down, hard, shaking my head back and forth with the motion. The wolf I’d chosen gave one final gurgling yip before going limp in my grasp. I released him, turning with the motion to place the corpse between me and the remaining three enemy wolves. Before any of them could move forward, I saw their eyes widen as they turned tail and ran in the other direction. I was unsurprised seconds later to see Valen, ears pinned flat and teeth bared, rush around me to give chase. My Alpha snarled as he disappeared around the corner.

Go. Was all his wolf gave as a parting word. I went.

* * *

I entered the house at a dead run, my blood-soaked paws skidding slightly on the oak floors as I made the entry way. I took the stairs four at a time, bounding effortlessly onto the carpeted second floor and rushing down the hallway. The first thing I noticed was Liam, unmoving and still human, slumped against the wall. His breathing was shallow, but present. I moved cautiously forward, stealth a priority now. I could smell the strange wolves in front of me and hear their voices. I could also smell my children and Siri in the same room, and that just didn’t work for me.

“The surest way to crumble a pack is to take out the women and children first.” Nope, that just didn’t work for me at all. I entered the room swiftly, teeth bared in a snarl that echoed off the walls. The monster in front of me barely registered as I took both it and myself to the ground, rolling to place the beast beneath me. I slammed my paws down hard, disconnecting the vertebrae of the spine from those of the neck, in one harsh blow.

The wolf I’d collided with was yet another rogue, evident in both its appearance and its scent. Once I’d verified the kill, I stood, placing myself between my pack and the remaining enemy. The other wolf was more well-kept. He was also, currently, in human form and glaring at me from several feet away.

“Ah, the Lalina.” He didn’t say it like it was a title he respected. Instead, he wrinkled his nose as he looked down at me with barely contained disgust. “So, you’re the whore who brought the Diamond Edge Alpha to his knees…or did he bring you to yours?” He said this last with a glint in his eye that made me want to take several, long showers…in a row…for weeks. My wolf echoed the sentiment. “Tell me-.”

What, exactly, he wanted me to tell him, I never found out. Valen entered the room, still in wolf form, so fast he was merely a blur, even to me. The two collided, the stranger shifting in mid-air into a large black wolf with smoldering orange eyes. He was impressive, in a way, though Valen was more so. His glare was filled with hatred as he bared his teeth in a snarl that echoed off the walls. Valen’s growl was louder. After a few seconds of the two glaring at each other from opposite sides of the room, they began circling one another. Well, mostly circling, Valen refused to allow the enemy to get past him, so they more paced back and forth from one side of the room to the other. I positioned myself between the fight and Siri and the kids, who’d all gathered around her sickbed.

Tyson is cleaning up their mess outside. While I deal with this one, make sure Siri and the kids are ok. Valen’s voice echoed inside my head via our bond only. Out loud, he let loose another thundering growl. I wasn’t sure if it was a conscious movement on the strange wolf’s part or not, but he’d moved back a few paces, putting more space between him and my angered Alpha. I glanced behind me, meeting Siri’s eye. She nodded minimally and I returned the motion. The kids were unharmed.

I moved forward, placing myself just behind Valen’s right side, and bared my teeth in a silent snarl as we faced off against our adversary. When the stranger made no move to retreat, I released a growl of my own. The change was immediate. While the wolf may have been having trouble holding Valen’s gaze, he was actually fully unable to face both of us together. He stumbled back a few more paces before he caught himself, baring his teeth at us as if it was our fault. Well, I guess it was sort of our fault. My wolf was pleased with the outcome. Valen’s apparently was too because I heard his snort of amusement both out loud and via the mate bond.

The wolf snarled again, the message clear, this wasn’t over, before flinging himself out the door. He was gone when Valen and I reached the hallway. A quick conference with Tyson confirmed the remaining enemy had fled with him.

* * *

A few hours later found everyone in the dining room, the only room in the house large enough to fit all eighty-eight members of our pack. Eighty-one, now. We’d lost seven wolves in total, including Mason. They were currently wrapped in burial cloths in the center of the room, awaiting their pyres, which would be built once this meeting had ended.

“Who were they?” One of the wolves asked Valen, who, along with Tyson and I, was standing in the center of the room also.

“It appears they were a mixture of members of River Blade and what is left of Cedar Falls.” Valen’s voice was calm despite the rage I could feel still seething across the mate bond. I reached forward, lacing his fingers with mine and squeezing his hand. He returned the motion before pulling me forward so that he could place his arm around me. At the mention of Cedar Falls, the pack began murmuring around us. Three years wasn’t a very long time in any respect, but especially not for a werewolf, and they remembered the apparent brutality Cedar Falls had been capable of. Valen waited patiently for the whispers to fade before continuing in the same patient tone. “The Beta of River Blade was here as well, and though I haven’t been able to confirm the whereabouts of Alpha Ramsey, I am confident that he did not sanction this attack. This means that either the Beta has gone rogue, or Alpha Ramsey is no longer in control of his pack. I suspect the latter.” This was met with more whispers, but this time Valen held up a hand to silence them.

“What does this mean for us, Alpha?” This from Liam, who sported a spectacular bruise across the back of his head but was otherwise unharmed. Valen nodded at the younger wolf.

“This battle was won, but it doesn’t change what comes next.” He paused, meeting each of his wolfs’ gazes in turn. “As of today, we are at war.”

The End

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Ellie and Valen will return in Diamond's Edge: Blood Moon

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