“What do you mean? Jelto, what is wrong?” I asked, my voice only a whisper. My entire body started shaking when I saw him spread his arms out, visibly blocking Gunnar’s way when he tried to pass.
Gunnar growled. “I don’t know what you are planning, but stop this at once!”
Jelto shook his head, not moving an inch. From behind them, I saw a wolf running up the stairs, fighting with other wolves along the way, biting into their throats without mercy. My heart almost stopped beating when I saw it jump over a fallen man Gunnar had punched, turning into his human form, revealing Bertram.
Blood ran down the left side of his face, and he wiped it away. “Jelto! Stop this madness. You can’t be serious about going through with it! I told you it’s nonsense.”
“It’s the only way! We both know it,” Jelto said, his voice trembling.
Bertram shook his head. “There is a better way than doing this! People are dying, Jelto!”
Laughter echoed through the air from behind me, and I turned my head to Vincent, holding his stomach with laughter. “This is getting better and better. Aren’t you his brother? What was his name again? Noah?”
“Don’t even utter his name, you piece of shit!” Bertram roared, and I looked at him in disbelief. His nostrils flared, and his eyes were filled with hatred.
I always thought I was the one he hated the most, but I suppose there is someone else above me on that list.
“No need to get so aggressive. Your brother surely was a strong man, too bad he isn’t here to witness it. He would have loved it. Other than his brother, it seems.”
“You are only bringing misery everywhere you go. You are lying and manipulating people into following your plans, just to let them drop like a hot potato when you don’t see a need for them anymore.”
Curious words from him, considering he called me a traitor and made it seem as if we mistreated the Vindictoria pack.
Bertram wiped more blood out of his face as it dared to drop into his eyes. “I wish we wouldn’t have to deal with neither the Vindictoria pack nor Ruinas pack, because there will never be winners, only losers.”
His gaze dropped to me, and he winced, clenching his hands into fists. He took a deep breath and looked back to Jelto, taking a step forward. “This has gone way too far already. Jelto, you are doing the wrong thing! Can’t you see you are only a pawn in his game, too?”
Jelto didn’t answer. Motionless, he kept standing there, which made my wolf roar. She wanted him to say something, to tell us he had a superior plan we didn’t understand yet. That we were misunderstanding, and he wasn’t in league with Vincent.
“If you don’t want to be here, what are you doing here, then?” Vincent asked. “You could be on your way, doing other things, like playing with dolls or something.”
“I warned them to stay away from her,” Bertram answered, pointing at me. “But they didn’t listen. I knew it would bring us misery, but my alpha loves her! What am I supposed to do then if he asks for my help? Whatever people may think, I’m loyal to my pack. I’m not my brother, and I never will be. All I wished for was to protect my pack.”
My stomach dropped at his declaration. Was all he did only to protect his pack, and he hated me because he knew it would eventually turn out to be that way? Or was he lying?
Vincent clapped. “Aren’t you so noble? Too bad that you will go down with all of them.”
Bertram snarled at him, but he didn’t get to say anything when people called for his help out of the woods. He turned around but before he was out of sight, only looking back once to meet my eyes. We stared at each other for what felt like minutes before he nodded and switched into his wolf, disappearing into the woods.
“Love, huh? The big alpha fell in love with a coward. A wonderful love story,” Vincent said. “Wish there was more depth to it. She does have a special spark in her though. Even that human man seems to be all enthralled with her.”
Gunnar shook his head. “This is ridiculous. Jelto, get out of my way before I make you!”
“If I had another chance, I wouldn’t do this,” he said, finally stopping his silence.
“What can the Vindictoria Pack possibly offer you that you would turn your back on us?”
I stared at Jelto’s back, seeing it shaking now. I hoped he would come up with a great explanation now, something that would explain this.
“It’s fascinating. He came to me and told me all about her. Where she was and what happened to her. Her plans, her little human lover. It was so easy to plan this with his help. Without Jelto, we probably would have needed more time to find her,” Vincent said instead of Jelto, and I thought my heart was going to rip in two. I expected Bertram to be the one to snitch on me, not the person who I considered a friend all those years.
“Jelto, please tell me this isn’t true,” I whispered, hoping that this was just another mind game Vincent was playing to tick me off.
“He even sent that human lover boy right in front of your doorstep. We weren’t sure that you would care for a human, but it was worth a try. Jelto told him he reserved a table in a five-star restaurant for you two. But you both never ended up going there. It was unfortunate, otherwise, we could have ended it last night already.”
So that was how George could find me because Jelto told him where I lived. All along, he was trying to gather information from me. Ways to get to me, ways to get rid of me.
“Why, Jelto? Why?” I shouted at him. He didn’t turn around though, he didn’t even flinch.
Vincent sighed. “He wanted me to help him with his human girlfriend. I told him that, when I hold the power of the ruins, I could strip his wolf from him, and he could live with his girlfriend. Just like he always wanted to. The power of love, yet again.”
I felt tears stinging in my eyes, as I tried to grasp the fact that Jelto was ready to sacrifice me and his pack for his own selfish reasons. Love couldn’t possibly make him that blind!
“That’s ridiculous. You won’t be able to do that,” Gunnar shouted at Vincent, his body vibrating in anger and his green eyes glowered. His wolf was so close to the surface that it was about to burst out of him.
Vincent simply shrugged and smiled.
Gunnar pushed Jelto, making him stumble. “Move out of my way. It’s time to stop this charade!”
“You are no longer my alpha. You can’t tell me what to do,” Jelto said, but it sounded uncertain.
My head started spinning, and all strength left my body, making me fall to the ground with a thud. “Mia,” Gunnar shouted, punching Jelto in the face. He took a step back, grunting in pain. Gunnar was about to punch him again when I saw Jelto fumbling with his jacket, pulling out a gun. I had no time to warn Gunnar when a gunshot echoed through the air.
Gunnar’s eyes widened in surprise, and he fell to his knees, red blood drenching the fabric of his t-shirt right above his heart.
“No!” A strangled scream left my throat as I tried to crawl toward him.
Jelto dropped his gun, staring down at him, then at me. His face was pale, tears in his eyes.
“How could you do this, Jelto?”
His chin trembled, and he shook his head, but I felt no pity for him. I hoped he would pay for this. Deep inside me, I hoped it wouldn’t work out for him.
Vincent laughed behind us. I stared at him for a brief second before looking back at Gunnar. He was panting, and he tried to stand up again, but another man from Vincent turned up and kicked him in the back, making him stumble forward. Jelto stepped out of the way, visibly shaking.
He looked up at me. He once again tried to stand up, but the man behind me put a foot on his back and didn’t let him go. It was devastating to see Gunnar struggling like this. The strong alpha who never seemed to lose a fight.
“What are we going to do with him?” The man asked, looking at Vincent.
“Let him enjoy the show. She won’t last any longer anyway,” he answered. I knew he was right, but I still didn’t want to give him that satisfaction.
My wolf roared alive inside me, and new energy rushed through my body. In a painful motion, my wolf pushed forward, forcing a switch.
Standing on shaky legs, I growled at Jelto. He stepped back, but I jumped at him and bit into his shoulder. The bone cracked under my teeth, and he fell onto his knees. He didn’t make a sound and stared at the ground, sacking into himself, whimpering quietly.
I whipped my head around and stumbled over my weak legs, licking my snout and tasting Jelto’s blood. I thought it would offer me some sort of satisfaction, but it only made me feel worse. It didn’t feel good to hurt a friend. I didn’t even bother to look at Vincent or do anything about him. My goal was to check on Gunnar.
The man, who was still stepping on his back, grinned at me, taunting me to do something. But my wolf felt too weak to move. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the gun, and I switched back to grab it, pulled the trigger, and shot the man right into the chest. The echo of the shot made my ears ring, but the man stumbled backward, holding his chest, his mouth hanging open.
“For all of what is holy, can you not take care of a small girl?” Vincent asked.
I whirled around, nearly dropping the gun with my bloody hands. I pointed at his head, shaking violently.
He grinned. “I dare you to shoot me.”
He didn’t have to tell me twice. I pulled the trigger, expecting another shot to go off, but there was nothing. I loaded the gun and tried again, but it only clicked without a result.
“You are out of shots. Is it my turn now?” He asked, his eyes flashing. “Or do I only need to wait and watch you while your life is slowly draining out of you?”
I was out of options. It got harder and harder to breathe. My whole body was shaking now, and my teeth chattered together painfully. My wolf whined in my head, no strength left to fight either.
I dropped the gun, staring at the smirking Vincent. I still haven’t heard a single word from Gunnar, and it scared me to look behind me, worried he might be dead already. The fight was still going on below us, but I couldn’t make out who was winning. With their alpha injured like this, their power will slowly decrease too. And something told me that the Vindictoria Pack was out-manning Gunnar’s pack.
Was this the way we would all die? Was Bertram right? That there would be no winners in this situation. Only losers.