The heads of the Royal Pack and their families are seated around a large conference table. The conference room is grand in size. The circular-shaped room houses a round marble table in the middle; it’s adorned with creams and golds, marble columns line the room, shimmering with gold flecks.
At the head of the table, with higher backed chairs and intricate carvings, showing their status - sit my parents. Dinah and Idris sit on either side of them, followed by Gamma Jude and Maria, Eddie and Amber and then the children of the heads.
All in attendance wear sombre expressions. Although Dinah barely looks like she’s restraining her Lycan… and to be fair, I’m just as angry as she is, at this moment, I’m just lucky I don’t have to restrain my wolf, or I’d likely already be hell-bent on turning over every stone to find Rex.
Even without my wolf, nerves and the raging inferno of my anger swirls inside. I’m struggling to contain myself, even without my wolf present. I sit rigid, with an unyielding glare and my hands clench the edge of the table, awaiting the bad news I sense is to come.
“As we all know, we have now found the culprits in Rex’s kidnap and detainment. Unfortunately…”, Dad starts.
Goddess, do I hate the word ‘unfortunately’. I already know there is bad news before he’s spilt it.
“…They’re very effective when it comes to hiding their tracks and leaving any traces behind. Making it nigh on impossible to go after them and retrieve Rex”, Dad sighs, pushing his hair out of his face. His silver orbs, much like my own looking tormented and torn.
“We have, however, detained Caleb’s parents. They have been very forthcoming with information so far... Caleb’s biological father is not the Alpha; he is fathered by an incubus. This knowledge was not known by or shared with anyone; only The Alpha and Caleb’s mother and Caleb himself know this, they have burdened themselves with this secret all of this time”.
My skin crawls, remembering our romp in the sea. I had lost thought of where I was and even who I was at times; I wonder hopefully to myself if this was his influence from being part incubus... or if I actually had been falling for the monster.
I can feel where this conversation is headed; although it might make sense on a tactical mindset, my brain is only thinking of getting Rex back and getting him back now.
Anger is rising within me at an alarming rate. I feel hot and clammy... I’m pretty sure my face has flushed red. My hands are now clenched into fists in front of me on the table.
“So, what do you suggest we do?” I say through clenched teeth, trying to reign in my emotion, to no avail.
I’m sure I’ll feel awful about the way I’m speaking to my dad tomorrow, but right now, all I know is anger. It’s tearing through my veins like molten lava. My eyes are fixed on my dad; he’s the unfortunate soul that my fury has hyper-focused onto. Looking for anyone to blame for the news I know he is about to deliver.
“I suggest we wait for their demands. They believe they hold all of the cards at the moment. I want them to believe they do. I want them to let their guard down. If we can arrange for them to step onto our soil… or even a place of our choosing, then we already have the upper hand in preparing a battle plan to get Rex”. He delivers very factually.
My arms are shaking now, nails digging into the palms of my hand. I’m surprised the hard stare I’m giving my dad hasn’t caused my eyeballs to pop out of my skull.
“No, fuck this!” I start ranting. “We need to go. We need to get him now! It’s been ten years! Ten fucking years he’s waited for us to find him”, I shout, feeling completely powerless and frustrated.
“I’m sorry, Mae. I know this is upsetting for you…”, Mum tries to soothe.
“Upsetting? Upsetting!? I’m downright pissed!” I spit, my chest is falling in heavy pants, my eyes wide with rage. Something is stirring within me, calling for blood… it calls for justice.
“Come on, Mae. Breathe, try and think about this from a tactical perspective. Your emotions are clouding your judgement”, chimes in Gamma Jude.
Well, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
My eyes flashed to Sierra’s flaming green eyes of hellfire.
I stand abruptly, chair scraping behind me before falling and crashing to the floor. Silence hushes the room eerily quickly.
“Does no one else see? We need to go now!? But you’re all too cowardly!!” I shriek as my fist slams down onto the marble table; a chunk of marble slams on the tile floor with a deafening crack.
The shock snaps me out of my rage-induced state almost immediately. Staring at my hands, I flip them over, checking for any signs of damage on my brittle human body… but I find nothing, not even a scratch.
Everyone in the room seems to be in a mixture of shock and awe. Most are staring, mouth agape, at a loss for words.
Clenching my fists, I check to see if they’re still functioning as they should. They’re perfect, no breaks, no marks… absolutely nothing.
Sierra… I call quietly.
H…ere, she answers weakly, almost unintelligibly.
My heart soars; I haven’t heard from her in so long. I thought she was gone, forever. She might not be at max capacity… but she’s here. She’s finding her way back to me.
Overwhelmed by Sierra’s new presence and today’s events, my legs buckle, driving me to my knees.
“I’m sorry”, I say with tears rushing down my cheeks, “everything is so confusing... why is this happening? He doesn’t deserve any of this”, I crack as I hunch over onto my hands, weeping like I haven’t wept in a long time, but I’m not just crying out of my sadness for Rex… I’m crying because I’m angry, I’m furious, yet there is nothing I can do. I feel like a jack in the box, slowly but surely being wound up, more and more, little by little, until finally... POP! I explode.
Emotions are rushing through me like a tidal wave, happiness that my wolf is trying to return, that I might even get Rex back, fear, pain, anger and hope… all coursing through me, swirling and mixing the emotions, so I don’t know where one ends and the other begins.
A sharp pain courses through my head - it feels as though it’s splitting in two; I clutch at my head as though trying to stop the pain, frantically pulling at my head, I feel like ripping my skull apart and stopping my never-ending pain.
The palace rumbles and shakes as my emotions grow rawer and more powerful, the chandelier shakes, the crystals clink together like a wind chime. Through my tears, I can see the disbelief on my loved ones faces... I even think I see more illusions of myself clutching at their heads, sitting on the floor around the circular table for a moment, though... I don’t have time to dwell on this.
The pain intensifies. I’m in turmoil, spiralling further and further out of control. The rumbling grows louder and louder. Dust falls from the ceiling as the palace continues to rock.
That dark energy that I try so hard to hide from is like a blinding light, demanding my attention. Even if I’m shutting my eyes, it seeks me out with no time to rest. It is awake and wants its release.
Just as I release a high-pitched scream, my last remaining pieces of composure begins to crack like a porcelain doll, ready to shatter into hundreds of fragments. I feel a pair of hands grasp me and push me into darkness…
…The freezing cold shock of the Palace pond snaps me out of my escalating instability. I come up for air, coughing and spluttering as pondweeds hang from my hair.
Crawling out of the pond, I lay flat on my front, relishing in the cold, soggy mud that feels so grounding at this moment in time. Usually, I would avoid getting this filthy, but right now, all I want is to make a blanket out of the mud and make myself a little pig in its muddy blanket.
I breathe a shuddered sigh as peace fills my soul once more.
As I lay frowning, realisation dawns on me. How did I get here?
Sitting up, I look around. Only to find Ozzy sat, with his face leaning on his steepled fingers, watching me with newfound interest, like a puzzle he can’t quite crack.
“What happened?” I ask.
His gaze is unwavering. A slight shrug lifts his shoulders, his eyes narrowing on me as if to say, ‘you tell me’.
“I think it was your demon abilities”, he states casually, assessing my reaction.
“Oh”, I state simply.
He cocks his head to one side, “You aren’t surprised?”
As I stare down at my hands, the silence stretches. I’m not entirely sure I know how to answer that question.
In one sense, my mind knows exactly what happened... but the other more dominant and stubborn side of my brain refuses to acknowledge it. It refuses to believe I’m anything more than the weak human I have been for the past ten years.
“Did we have another earthquake?” I timidly ask.
He shakes his head, his eyes so dark they look like bottomless pits still boring into me - intelligence resides in those deep pools of darkness.
“It was you, Mae. Has this happened before?” He asks as he moves to sit beside me in the thick oozing mud.
I nod, unable to vocalise my acknowledgement of these newfound abilities.
He sits thoughtfully for a moment, “How did you do it?”
It’s my turn to shrug now, “I just got angry”, I all but whisper, feeling guilt bubbling up like a well.
“Maybe one day you can teach me?” Ozzy says, glancing at me with a playful grin on his face.
I lean over and rest my head on his shoulders, “Only you after all the carnage I’ve just created would want to learn such a destructive ability”, I sigh.
“What can I say? There’s beauty in mayhem”, he smirks, allowing my head to rest on his shoulder.
We sit in silence, just enjoying one another’s soothing company. Ozzy might look and act like a menace at times... but deep down, he is sweet and caring for those he loves and cares for.
Hearing the mud squelching under what sounds like a stampede of feet snaps me out of my reverie.
As I turn my face, an apologetic smile spreads across my features as my parents and Hunter rush to me.
They pull me up for a bone-shattering hug. My mum strokes my damp hair out of my face; before holding my face in her hands.
“I’m so sorry, Mae. I should’ve been more understanding, forgive me”, she implores.
“No, mum. I’m sorry. I flew off the handle, I should’ve had better control, I should’ve recognised the signs and controlled myself”, I say, ashamed of my outburst.
“I, for one, want to know where the hell that cool power came from!?” Hunter chuckles, “You were everywhere… literally! And that, that shaking… everything was shaking, what was that!?” He quizzes enthusiastically.
I laugh, smiling bashfully, rubbing the back of my neck.
“I haven’t really figured it out yet... your guess is as good as mine”, I admit awkwardly.
A large soothing hand runs down my back, “Don’t worry, Mae-Mae, we will figure it out together”, my dad assures me. “How do you feel?” He asks.
“Like I’m not about to implode”, I give an awkward chuckle, receiving a laugh from my family.
For the past couple of days, my mum has been taking me to one of our training grounds when no one else is around… well, apart from Ozzy and his smelly four-legged followers.
I’m not sure whether he’s following me around out of intrigue... or waiting for a sign that I need another dunk in the pond to cool off. He sits observing my every move as if he’s taking notes.
“Come on, Mae! Let it out!” My mum urges, trying to rile me up.
She’s been trying to get me to use my demon abilities, so next time I can control myself better and harness my powers... rather than trying to shake the palace down to the ground.
Her attempts at getting my abilities to surface are by hurtling foam balls at me; although they don’t hurt, they’re annoying as hell.
Digging deep, I try to find that dark, looming energy that feels as though it could tear me apart. The truth is, I’m not scared of it anymore. It feels like death could strike at any moment when it bubbles to the surface… but, when I actually use that energy, it feels like drinking a nice hot chocolate on a cold winters morning, snuggled up under blankets and sitting next to a roaring fire. Safe and comforting.
But now that I’m not scared, I can’t seem to find the emotions needed to dig up the power for long periods. I’ve managed the odd rumble and a maximum of two projections of myself, but not much else other than batting a ball away with a small fireball.
I realise I’m being hard on myself, I mean… I couldn’t do any of this not too long ago. Now that I’ve found some power in myself, I’ve found the urge to keep pushing and bettering my abilities. I need to be strong to be able to face Caleb and anyone that stands with him. I need to get my Rex.
I keep digging, trying to find the source of my power. Each time, drawing a blank.
“Agh!” I huff, annoyed and stressed with myself.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Mae. It will take time”, mum says reassuringly.
I sigh and nod, kicking a stone with force to vent my frustration.
I can’t help but notice mum and Ozzy sit up a little straighter, as though they’re listening to something.
A mind link. Whatever it is about, it must be important.
“What? What is it?” I quiz, looking around in case we have an ambush incoming.
“Two rogues on the west border. They’re relaying a message to the patrollers for your father”, mum says, still staring off into space as the message is delivered.
A low growl rumbles from Ozzy as he kicks up from his seated position to pace. A dull flaming green aura starts to illuminate his body as his anger takes hold. His eyes are wide with murderous rage, his whole body taut and rigid.
Mum gives him a look, “Ozzy… don’t you damn well dare!” She says, her voice rising.
His refusal to obey is evident. His lip curls up into a smirk, disobedience written over his face as clear as day.
“I mean it, Ozzy!” She shouts.
But, of course… Ozzy does what Ozzy wants. In a flash, his portal is open and he storms through without a backwards glance.
Mum throws her hands up the air as if to say ‘I give up’ whilst muttering something unintelligible.
“Mum?” I say, snapping her out of her thoughts.
“You know what, Mae? I hope his mate causes him as much stress as he has caused me over the years... see these greys?” She points frantically to her scalp, “Yeah, caused by that little devil! I hope she is the most disobedient mate he can get. I hope she challenges him at every step of the way. I hope-”
“Mum!” I laugh, “stop with your ramblings woman! Please tell me what the fuck is going on”, I press.
Mum looks shocked, realising once again that there was a reason she and Ozzy were so mad, just mere moments ago, “Caleb has made his demands”, she responds monotonously, her eyes are flashing to those of her wolfs as she battles with her temper.
A few seconds tick by as I patiently await her answer, not wanting to push her until she’s ready to speak of these demands.
She closes her eyes, taking a deep, calming breath.
“He wants you, Mae. He wants you in exchange for Rex’s safe return”, she delivers with sadness.