Heart of a Beast

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Chapter 4 - Tiberius (Part 1)

Sunlight shone on her slick black hair as the ripples of the stream glistened like a beautiful dream behind her.

But the dream turned into a nightmare when her blue-green eyes widened in horror.

It was the reaction he feared most.

She’ll reject him.

And why wouldn’t she? She wasn’t feeling the effects of the matebond. She didn’t even recognize him as her mate. Instead, she woke up with another seizure.

This time, he felt it. From start to finish, he felt what was really going on within her.

She was a werewolf and for some reason her wolf was trapped within her. It was there under the surface, trying to claw its way out, seizing her body and rocking it back and forth, but could not surface. Something held it back.

When her spasming ceased and he pulled away to look at her, his blood ran cold. Her eyes gripped his as his heart twisted in a vice as the truth revealed itself to him.

He had done this to her.

His curse had struck her as well, locking her in her human form and refusing to let her wolf out. It must have afflicted him before she came of age and, thus, she never shifted. This left her with no heightened senses and completely unable to feel their bond.

It was his fault. All of this was his fault.

She didn’t deserve this. It had been his mistake. Why did she have to suffer as well?

That damned witch had no right attacking his soulmate like this!

The guilt gnawed at him as he carried her to the river to cool off. She was drenched in sweat and demanded water. It was the least he could do after the years of suffering he’d put her through.

He perked up when she called him by name, a pleasant sound to his ears.

Tiberius the Rogue.

He was confused, though. When had he denounced his pack? He left to find his mate. He left to break free of this curse that bound him in this form for years. He had every intention of returning after he found her.

True, he left in a fit of rage but he had to. He had to take matters into his own hands. Time was running out and he couldn’t sit idly by and wait for his mate to come.

If anything, his family had turned their backs on him. He had asked for permission to leave, but his parents refused, telling him it was too dangerous and the humans could spot him. He couldn’t disobey his parents, the alpha and luna of the Rosmi Maana Pack at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. While they had invited many packs to come visit them in hopes of finding his mate, she wasn’t among them.

Then, by chance, his younger brother found his mate. Jealous, his older brother went to search for his in order to reclaim his birthright as heir before his younger brother stole it from him. Laurencius had years of training ahead of him before he was fit to be alpha, but Dominius was ready, he just needed his mate.

An alpha needed his luna by his side to lead because without her, the pack would suffer.

They were all wrapped up in other matters that the middle son, Tiberius, had been pushed aside. He was the one who needed to find his mate before the next lunar eclipse, or else the curse would kill him.

He couldn’t tell them that. The curse garbled his thoughts, his words, whenever he tried to explain to someone that he needed to find his mate or else he would die. They brought in a dozen healers or shamans, but it was useless.

The curse could only be lifted if he earned the love of his mate, without the effects of the matebond, before the next lunar eclipse.

Time was running out. He had no choice but to leave.

The bitter stab of betrayal in the back made him run and never look back.

He would show them. He would show all of them. He didn’t need their help.

He left one night a year ago without a word uttered. They would have tried to stop him. They did, in fact, try to stop him. They chased after him for months across states, but when the snow began to fall, he finally managed to lose them.

But by then, he was so far away from home and so far north that his search for his mate was put on hold and he had to focus on simply trying to survive. Tracking her down in the snow was nearly impossible.

Isolation during those frigid winter months played with his mind and he almost gave up.

He longed to find his mate, but he also missed his family. Even with all their drama and stubbornness, he missed their company. He wished things had been different, that he could have told them, that he could have gone with Dominius and searched for their mates together.

Why hadn’t his brother included him in the search? Why had he been cast aside?

He could only travel during the night, allowing the blanket of darkness to conceal his dark form. The wind was brutal, throwing snow in his eyes and freezing around his nose, howling in his ears and pushing—always pushing—him around.

After a blizzard that lasted two days and nights, he ventured out of a cramped den that he fought and killed a fox for. The land was covered in fresh grainy powder that stung his eyes when the wind whipped against his face. A full moon peeked between clouds before disappearing and darkness fell.

He wandered for hours, exhausted and achy, but his heart ached the most.

What if he never found his mate?

The ice under his paws cracked and he fell through. The bitter cold water bit into him and he howled and yelped for help.

But who would help a drowning beast?

His family couldn’t help him and now he was on his own and completely alone. No one would help him.

As he sank under the water, unable to pull himself out, he felt truly alone. He stopped fighting and opened his arms to darkness.

Darkness had been his friend for years, concealing him and his curse, and darkness would swallow him up. Darkness would finish him and steal his life.

But something miraculous happened.

The full moon peeked out through the hole in the ice and touched him. Something in him snapped. Something that had been suppressed for months—years—under the brutal control of pain, loneliness, anger, fear, helplessness, and hopelessness had awakened.

Don’t give up!

Despite the numbing of his body from the freezing water, he pushed and kicked his way back to the surface. The broken ice was starting to freeze up again and he was able to grasp a solid chunk sticking up and pull himself out.

The moon stayed with him as he caught his breath and forced himself to move on and find shelter to warm up in.

The thought of finding his mate pushed him on. He couldn’t give up on her. She was still out there somewhere—he knew.

He had to find her. She needed him just as much as he needed her.

Even now, as this blue-green eyed female stared back at him in horror, river-water trickling down the edge of her face, soaked to the bone, her body starting to tremble despite the glaring hot sun filtering between the canopy of leaves overhead, he knew he couldn’t give up on her.

He did this to her and now he had to fix it.

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