“This is a shit idea,” I mumbled to myself as I once again slipped on the fallen leaf.
Already, I felt like I was going to collapse out of exhaustion, chasing after the two wolves who ran as if they hadn’t a care in the world. Chloe, the only person who could apparently feel or smell magic, led our sorry little party with Sydney right behind. I was trying to keep up, but seeing how I still hadn’t grown an additional pair of legs, I was a lost cause. And both girls weren’t as kind as Bennett in his wolf form - they didn’t really give a shit if I managed to follow or not. Which was why I hadn’t even had time to dig out my phone and call Emmie, Mr. Henry, or anybody who could actually help in case something happened.
We were doomed.
The wolves suddenly stopped on a hill, and I joined them a few minutes later, flinging myself at a tree and wheezing hard. Sydney glared at me, possibly trying to tell me to shut up, but I was too focused on breathing to pay her any mind. I was dying.
Chloe nudged my leg with a questioning look in now completely yellow, wolf eyes. I absentmindedly patted her gray-brown furry head to show I was somewhat still alive. Sydney wasn’t as accomodating. She changed back into a human, flashing me with the perfectly naked body, and stated:
“There’s a shed at the foot of the hill. I’m going to check if Keely’s there. You keep an eye on Chloe.”
She made a motion of heading towards the building, but I grabbed her arm.
“What? No!” I firmly disagreed. “I’m calling the Alpha. I’m not letting you go in there alone! We don’t know what that psycho is capable of, whereas I, for once, am not a karate kid! And we’re not putting Chloe in any more danger than we already have.”
“There is no fucking time for that!” Sydney bared her teeth at me. “Who knows what state is Keely in. We cannot wait for others to arrive! We have to act now! I’m going in, don’t stop me. You owe Keely that much.” Brooks played the guilt card, and, shit! I was actually bloody going to let her. I wanted to rip my hair off out of frustration but limited myself to kicking a tree trunk instead.
“Okay, I’m coming with you. If Keely’s in there, you’ll need somebody to help you get her to the car. Chloe, find yourself a place to hide and watch our backs. If anything, howl.”
The little gray-brown wolf yipped her agreement while Sydney stated a grumpy “Whatever.”
She started to slowly, soundlessly creep down the hill. I followed her, crouching close to the ground, neither as graceful nor as silent, earning a couple of frustrated looks from Brooks. I ignored them, focusing on the shabby shed in front, feeling my heart pounding loudly in my chest.
For the way it looked, it was clear nobody had used the building for a while now - its dark, wooden walls were missing bits here and there, the window was busted open, the door fell off its hinges, whereas the roof not only was covered in the thick layer of fallen leaves but was also partially collapsed. No unusual smell surrounded the building. There was no trace of Keely’s blood or the foreign scent of a rogue wolf. It was oddly normal. If Chloe wasn’t so confident Keely was somewhere in there, I would quite possibly ignore the place altogether.
Sydney plastered herself against the wall and peeked through the window. A sudden, strangled sob left her a second later as she stood up and ran through the doors - and to hell with all the sneaking. Cursing, I raced after her, stopping in my tracks as my gaze narrowed on the view in front. The sudden smell of blood, wild animal droppings, and decay assaulted my nose, making me sick. Oh, God.
“What has he done to her?” I choked out, placing a hand over my mouth.
Keely was placed in such a way she was facing the wall, her back to us. She was clearly unconscious and forced into a kneeling position - her head had lifelessly lolled to the side, red curls spilling around it like a halo. Her body was pressing against the rope that was tying her wrists together. It had been fastened to the hook above her head, keeping the girl somehow upwards. Her torso had been stripped of any clothing, covered in purplish bruises, and sporting a few deep, angry red cuts, which went all the way down from her neck to her backside. The blood was still oozing from the wounds onto the dirty ground below, pooling between Keely’s knees.
“Sick motherfucker used a silver knife,” growled Sydney. She crouched next to her best friend and gently brushed away a matted curl plastered to Keely’s cadaverous, sticky face.
The redhead moaned, and Sydney hushed her quietly as I rushed to the ropes.
“Help me cut them down,” I said to Sydney, and the girl obliged.
“Hold her,” she instructed while I gently wrapped my arms under Keely’s armpits. The redhead fell limply into my embrace a second later, surprisingly heavy. I grunted silently out of effort but wrapped her arm around my neck.
“What are you doing?” Asked Brooks, seeing me moving under the girls’ body.
“Someone has to take Keely to the car, and you’re a better fighter than I am. Help me put her on my back, will you? We need to get her to the hospital, fast.”
“No, no hospitals,” Sydney objected as she lifted Keely carefully and helped wrap her legs around my waist. “We have a pack doctor available.”
“Okay, whatever. Let’s just get the hell out of here,” I demanded, already regretting I volunteered to act as a carthorse. Keely must have weighted a tone! “I have a phone in my pocket. Take it and call Mr. Henry. The password is...”
I stopped midway, suddenly spotting a shadow behind Sydney. My shocked face was all the warning she got before she was hit in her head. I screamed when she fell to the side, crashing her temple against the edge of the ancient wooden table that had been pushed against one of the walls. Sydney gave out a tiny groan before she fell lifelessly onto the floor, blood immediately painting her blond hair red. I slowly looked up in horror at the guy who was blocking our exit. I couldn’t see his face clearly, because it was shadowed by the black baseball hat and a dark hoodie he wore, which made him all the more frightening. I took a step back, looking for anything that could act as a weapon. But I had only Keely over my back, and a phone in my pocket, and I doubted throwing the redhead at the assaulter was a good idea. Sydney moaned, probably coming round, distracting my opponent. I took that opportunity to get the stupid phone out, and I flung it at the guy with all the force I could muster. It hit him straight at his temple. He staggered back, clutching his head with a hand while my mobile landed with a characteristical crunch somewhere on the floor. Sydney decided to collect herself at that very moment. Seeing the guy disoriented, she punched him in the face. Once again, he hit his head, this time against the wooden door frame, and he slid down on his ass, woozy. Chloe popped out behind him a second later, naked as a day, and whacked him with a stone with a sickening crunch. If Sydney’s punch hadn’t already sent the guy in the arms of Morpheus, Chloe’s strike surely did.
“We need to go! There are more of them coming!” The little girl pronounced, alarmed, pulling me out of my stupor.
Sydney cursed loudly and yanked me by the arm towards the doors. “Run, idiot!”
I did. We climbed up the hill in record time and made it to the car even faster. The thing was, nobody was chasing after us. We jumped into the truck and Sydney drove us out of the parking and onto the asphalt road.
We were safe - or so we thought.
Until a car suddenly crashed into us.