Heart of a Beast

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Chapter 14 - Tiberius (Part 3)

Justin hesitated, glancing at Crystal for elaboration.

She stiffened, her heart rate increasing. “Um, h-he said th-that a witch c-cursed him…”

Tiberius pulled her roughly against him, his throat rumbling as she whimpered.

“Dammit, Tiberius,” Justin muttered, combing his fingers through his hair. “I know it’s hard, but stop reinforcing this behavior.”

Tiberius growled at the tone of his voice, even though he knew Justin was right. Crystal’s wolf was on edge, but not trying to break through the surface. He couldn’t help it. Instinct drove him to comfort and protect her.

“Don’t worry, honey. I don’t bite,” the witch said, walking around the table and leaning against it. Beta Justin and Alpha Jackson stood on her left while Darnell stood on her right. “I’m Kylee, by the way. Would you like something to help relax you?”

Justin and Tiberius both growled protectively at that.

She narrowed her eyes at Justin and pointed a finger at him. “Don’t give me that, Beta. It’s just herbs, not magic. I promise.”

“What do you think, Crystal?” Alpha asked, while Justin continued to stare down the witch.

“I’ll try it… If it’s just herbs…” she replied meekly, shame burning her face as she buried it in his fur. The smell of it peppered his nostrils, but he ignored it.

“I only sell herbal tonics, honey. This dumbass knows that,” Kylee said as she tore her eyes away from Justin’s only to jab her thumb in his direction. “Must be because you two are here that he’s putting up this asshat persona.”

“What did you call me?” Justin grunted, still glowering at her.

“You heard me, dumbass!” She snapped her fingers and turned on her heels as Justin grumbled incoherently under his breath and folded his arms across his chest.

She walked back around the table and pulled out another little chest from underneath it. From that, she withdrew a small two-ounce vial with a dark amber-colored liquid within. “Five bucks for this one.”

Alpha nodded his head and she walked around the table and up to Crystal and Tiberius.

Crystal mashed her lips together before pulling away from him and accepted the vial from her. “Thank you.”

“Liquid courage, honey,” Kylee said as her copper eyes trailed over the features of Tiberius’ face. Curiosity mingled with her herbal scent before she turned her attention back to Crystal.

Crystal tugged off the small rubber stopper from the top and the smell of peppermint overpowered the rest of the herbs in the concoction before she threw her head back and gulped the liquid down. She gagged and held the empty vial and rubber stopper out to Kylee.

“That smelled better than it tasted,” she mumbled.

“Always does, honey. That’s going to take a minute to kick in.” Kylee turned and parked herself on the table while the other guys leaned against it. “Get comfy, unless you’re in a rush?” She turned to Alpha for confirmation.

He shook his head, crossing his own arms next to Justin.

“So, what are your names?” the witch asked.

Tiberius lay down on the ground and Crystal leaned against his side and began their story.

She introduced herself and Tiberius as her soulmate and told Kylee that they met less than a week ago. She relayed the little that she knew—that he had been cursed a long time ago, most likely before her first shift, but that his curse prevented him from shifting, and that he thought his curse affected her as well.

“So, I have seizure-like panic attacks whenever I’m stressed, and he told me that is my wolf trying to take control and protect me, but can’t. It’s like she’s trapped inside and can’t break through the surface.”

Kylee hummed in thought. “That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of a spell or curse transferring onto another person like that. That’s some powerful magic right there. Has he tried finding the witch who cast it to try and remove it?”

Tiberius huffed. He didn’t believe the witch when she first cast the curse and did everything in his power to never cross paths with her again. It was too late to even bother trying to find her after he made the connection of his painful shifts with the curse she uttered a year before. She was long gone and all of the locals he inquired had never heard of her or seen her.

Crystal looked at him in confusion, trying to make sense of his exhalation, before looking back at Kylee. “I’m not sure. Last night, he told me in a dream that he didn’t believe the witch at first, but as time wore on, it became harder for him to shift until he stopped trying and then was locked in this form ever since.”

“Wait, you guys can communicate in dreams?” Kylee asked.

“Yes, it’s another influence of the matebond on us until we seal the bond,” Alpha replied with a nod of his head.

“Oh, how cool,” the witch replied before she turned her copper eyes back to Tiberius and Crystal. “Well, that does sound complicated. I only deal with basic spells and herbs. Something as complex as this is beyond my scope of understanding and training.”

She paused and hummed for a second. “I might know someone else who can help you, though.”

She pushed herself off from the table and pulled the purple tablecloth up to retrieve her purse from underneath. After rummaging around for a bit, she produced a piece of paper and a pen and scribbled down a few sentences before pointing her wand at it. The paper began to glow a golden hue and folded up into a crane and with a wave of her wand, sent it flying on its way.

“There’s another witch here, Madame Papillon, and she’s kind of, like, the best of the best, ya know? Complex spells, curses, transfiguration—she can do it all. She might have some answers for you.”

Darnell approached her and brushed his fingers across her arm. “Thank you, my sweet—”

She jerked away, her face growing warm. “Cut it out, Darnell. No one wants to hear your cringe-worthy pet names.”

He chuckled. “You say that now.”

Tiberius coughed.

“See! The lycan agrees. Save it.”

Both Jackson and Justin were trying to keep themselves from chuckling, their eyes looking away.

Tiberius nuzzled Crystal’s hand until she reached up to scratch him behind the ear. Sighing, he was relieved that whatever the witch gave her did, in fact, help to relax her. He hoped it lasted for the duration of their time at the Market. It had to be emotionally exhausting to be seized with so much anxiety all the time.

A few minutes later, the paper crane returned and unfurled when Kylee caught it between her fingers.

“Looks like you’re in luck. Madame Papillon said to send you over.”

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