"Well?" Riven pressed. "Are you going to answer me?"
Aren sighed. "Where do I even begin?"
"Just tell me already."
"Shut your mouth, or I won't explain anything." Riven growled, but kept his mouth shut. This answer was too important to him to argue.
"For six long years, I had my mate by my side and not a care in the world. At the end of the fifth year, it went to hell. We had joined a pack, and they were reserved, quiet folk who seemed friendly enough. We had only been members for two months. Your sister and I had been trying for a pup. It took us six years, but finally she told me she was pregnant. We had to tell the alpha of the pack and when we did, he was thrilled for us. So we thought. Come to find out, there was a law in that pack that in order to have a kid, you had to put your name on a list and ask the alpha for permission. Every year, he would nominate one couple to have a kid. If they failed in that year, then they would have to put their names back on the list. He would go down the list and pick each year.
"The night after we had told the alpha, he sent some of his pack to kill the baby by any means necessary. He said if they had to, they could kill my mate. When they attacked we were sleeping in our bed. Your sister was exhausted and didn't hear them creep into the room. I smelled them before I heard them and was able to defend her just in time.
"They attacked all at once and I was almost overwhelmed. I kept telling myself I had to protect my mate and pup. I was able to kill two of the five before they got to Hannah. When I heard her scream, my wolf went crazy. I attacked with renewed strength. I killed two more and was on the last one when the alpha himself showed up. He had heard the fighting and knew something had gone wrong. He commanded me to stop, and part of me wanted to, but I was an alpha. No one was going to tell me what to do. I stopped, but only because I had a plan.
"I whimpered and made my body freeze. The alpha looked smug. I could smell his relief and it made me smile inwardly. The bastard had been scared. He thought he had me in his control, but as soon as he got close enough, I attacked. I ripped out his throat and threw his body out the window. I could see the rest of the pack gathered around my house. No one tried to help me. I knew right then and there we had to get out. I had killed their alpha, and they would seek revenge. I gathered my mate in my arms, trying to ignore the blood. They stabbed her and she was bleeding so much. I could hear the baby moving and hoped it wasn't hurt. I had to get her to a doctor, but one that knew about us.
"I walked outside, carrying her in my arms and glared at the people around me. I was completely naked and covered in blood. The people stepped back, but no one moved forward to help. 'I need a doctor.' I commanded them. No one moved and I growled. 'Your alpha is dead. That means unless someone wants to challenge me, I am your alpha. Where is the doctor?' There were murmurs in the crowd and then a little petite female stepped forward. 'I am the doctor around here,' she said. She eyed my mate and then motioned for me to follow. I did."
Riven stared at Aren, seeing the pain in his eyes and scenting his distress. This was hard for him to talk about, but Riven needed answers. He couldn't believe that no one in the pack had tried to help. They were sick people.
"It took several days, but finally both Hannah and the baby were fine. We were able to find out it was a healthy little girl. Hannah was ecstatic, and I have to admit, I was too. I wanted her to look just like Hannah. The day the doctor cleared her, we left the pack. They would have to choose a new alpha. I was not staying there and leaving my mate open to attack.
"Several weeks later was when it all happened. We were in the woods and Hannah was feeling really sick. I left her in a cave and ran to the nearest town. Everything went smoothly and I had no problems. When I got back to the cave though, she was gone. My heart literally stopped. I began frantically searching for her, and finally caught her scent. It rained while I was gone and made it hard to keep on her trail. I eventually followed it to a small clearing where I heard voices. I heard my mate scream and my wolf roared to life. I approached cautiously, but swiftly. What I saw made me lose all control. Hannah was tied to a pole and completely naked. There were several men around her and there was blood running down her face. I could tell her nose was broken. She was crying and begging them not to hurt her baby.
"Before I could stop myself, I leapt into action. I took down the first man easily. He never saw me coming. The other three had a few seconds to jump away. One grabbed a long hunting knife and tried to attack me. I growled at him and shifted. The surprise on his face was enough to buy me time to end him. The third man grabbed a gun and a bullet blurred by me. I snarled at him and jumped on him. He got a shot off and it hit me in the shoulder. I tore out his throat and then turned to face the last man. I could smell Hannah's blood on him and concluded he had been the one to punch her. I saw red. I launched myself at him. I never saw the knife. One second I was about to bite into his neck and the next I felt his knife slide through my ribs and deep into my chest. I stopped moving and fell over to the side. I could feel my wound burning and knew he stabbed me with silver.
"Hannah was screaming my name and struggling to free herself. She had tears pouring down her face and her breathing was labored. My eyes were locked on her face, but I couldn't move. I felt like I was paralyzed. I could hear everything going on, but could do nothing to stop it. The man I had been about to kill pushed my body away from him and climbed to his feet. I had expected him to stab me again, finish the job, but he just smiled at me. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and then a blur flew out of the bushes and attacked. I could hear the roar of a cat and cursed my luck. A fucking panther had come to my rescue.
"I felt weak and could barely keep my eyes open. I knew I was dying. I could feel someone touching me, trying to roll me over to my back. I couldn't shift back. I felt something hit me in the face and then I tasted salt. Someone was crying. I tried to whimper, to make a sound, but I was too weak. My eyes closed and I felt the last breath leave my lungs."
Riven couldn't believe it. Aren had died! But how was he sitting here, in front of him. Why had Hannah lied and said that he had been killed over land. None of it made sense.
"So you really died?" Riven asked.
"Yes," Aren answered. He was tired and leaned back on the couch, letting his head rest on the top. He closed his eyes. Reliving his memories was such a burden. His heart ached for his mate.
"What happened next?" Riven asked, pushing for information.
"You aren't going to leave this alone, are you?" Aren asked tiredly. He ran his hand down his face and opened his eyes. Crossing his arms over his chest he shot Riven a glare.
"I need all the details." Riven was unmoving in this.
"Fuck," Aren growled. "Fine, yes I did die. But I was somehow brought back. When I woke up, I was laying on a bed, staring at the ceiling. I tried to move my hand, but it was down. I looked around and saw that I was chained to concrete rings and that the chain was silver. Both arms and feet were chained. I looked down my body and saw that I had a giant red mark on my chest. It looked like a scar, but different somehow. I jerked my head toward the sound of an opening door. The person that walked in made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. 'Anthony' I said. He smiled at me in that menacing way he had perfected.
"He walked right up to the bed and looked down at me in pity. 'Aren, what have they done to you.' He tusked, shaking his head. 'What am I doing here?' I asked, getting right down to business. I wanted to know where my mate was. 'You were bought here by one of my men after we rescued your ass.'" Aren laughed, and Riven shot him a questioning look.
"What?" he asked. Aren just shook his head.
"I'm just remembering what fun times Anthony and I had together."
"Forget it. You wouldn't get it." Moving his arms to his sides, Aren started once more. "Come to find out, Anthony's beta had been the one to kill the man that stabbed me. He had carried my body back to his pride and dragged Hannah with him. They told me that I was indeed dead, and had to forcefully remove Hannah from my side. They sent her home, not wanting a pregnant wolf around. My body was sent to be burned. They were about to start the fire when they heard my heart stutter to life. It shocked them. It had to be a trick, they told themselves.
"Somehow, someway, I had come back to life. After being declared dead for five hours. After they consulted with a doctor, he commented that I might have shut my heart down to save myself. It had still been beating, but had been so faint, no one could hear it. That's the only theory they could come up with. I just went with it. I wanted to contact Hannah immediately, but they wouldn't let me. It had taken my three weeks just to get healed and have the strength to wake up. She had been gone three weeks and still thought me dead. It made my heart hurt to imagine the pain she was going through.
"Once I was back on my feet and feeling up to walking around, Anthony gave me the tour of his pride. He introduced me to several of his men. I knew something was suspicious with him not allowing me to contact my mate. I knew I was a prisoner, but something else was going on. My answer came two days later. Anthony had walked in and set a paper down in front of me. I asked him what it was and he told me to sign it. I told him I wasn't signing anything until I knew what it said.
"He explained that I was his slave for three years. The same number of weeks it took me to heal up. I told him to go fuck himself. He declared I had been saved by him and owed him. If I didn't sign it, he would kill Hannah and my pup. In the end, I saw no other way out. I had assumed I would be able to send word to Hannah immediately, but he outlawed it.
"Right after signing it, I went into training. I had to get back in the habit of fighting. I was somewhat out of shape after being on the road for so long and having been on my ass for three weeks. I got my ass handed to me every time they set me up against someone. It was a major blow on my ego. Days flew by and soon it turned into months. The time was passing by quicker than I thought. My every thought was on getting back to my mate and my baby girl. I knew she had already had my baby girl, and I hated myself for missing it. I had tried to escape several times, but each time I had been caught and every bone had been broken in my body. That put me on my ass for a week each time. Anthony was ruthless. No one got away with disobeying him.
"Finally after what seemed like forever, my three years were up. But Anthony wasn't ready to let me go. He told me that he had something for me before I left. I followed him down to the weapons room and then past it to the rooms where they kept the prisoners. He led me to the last door and opened it. He told me to look. When I looked in, I saw a girl that same build and same color hair as Hannah. My body was moving before I could think about the fact the girl didn't smell like Hannah. I rushed into the room and heard the door slam behind me. Anthony started laughing and I felt my blood chill. I turned to face Anthony and swore that I would kill him.
"I was stuck in that hell hole for three more years. I was about to go crazy. I was skin and bones. The girl had been removed from the room two days after I got locked up. I heard later they killed her. I became a better fighter, and soon I was able to best every man there. I was never allowed out of that room, so my fights took place there. Anthony sent another man each day. He watched me fight, learning my moves. What he didn't know was that I made a friend. His name was Mario.
"Mario had a mate and two sons. They were both old enough to start training in Anthony's little army. He knew how it felt to have a mate, and understood how I was feeling. He promised to find out how Hannah was doing and how my baby girl was growing.
"A few weeks later Mario slipped down to my room in the middle of the night and gave me a piece of paper. He left without a word and I quickly opened the letter and started reading. What I read tore me up. The letter stated that Hannah had mated with a human and that she had two girls. My daughter's name was Lucy. My blood boiled and I wanted to kill the man who dared touch my mate. It was enough to give me the strength to escape.
"I managed to kill the man bringing me food and stole the key. I had to kill many, but I managed to escape. My first instinct was to go to my mate and tell her I was still alive. Then I thought better of it. If I went there, I would lead Anthony straight to her. I had to bide my time until I could kill Anthony. Another two years went by and still my mate thought I was dead. Anthony had come after me with everything he had, but I outsmarted him every time." Aren took a minute to catch his breath.
"Men came to our house. They must have been from Anthony's pack, or from that pack that tried to kill you. They wanted Hannah. They attacked us, but we managed to kill them all. She never forgot you. She was heartbroken and a completely different person. She was only the old her when she met Jacob." Riven mentioned as he watched Aren's face.
"I'm glad she was happy, but with a human?" Aren looked disgusted. It didn't make sense to him how his mate could be happy with a human.
"She loved him."
"Whatever you say," Aren snapped. "Anyway, you pretty much know the whole story now. I was on the run from Anthony, until I heard that my mate died. Then I had nothing left to live for. My daughter didn't know me, and I wasn't even sure if she was going to shift. She had grown up as a human. I finally relented and let Anthony catch me. I wanted him to kill me, but he didn't want to lose such a valuable asset. He sent me on a mission to find his son. I didn't know it was going to lead me here, to my daughter."
"That's one messed up story," Riven answered honestly. He felt sorry for Aren, and saw him in a new light. He had been protecting his mate. That's why he had stayed away. Hannah died not knowing her mate was still alive. That must have eaten away at Aren.
"Why did you go back to working with him?" Riven couldn't help asking.
"Hannah's death left me an empty shell. I had nothing left to live for. I hoped every mission I went on would be my last. I wanted someone to get lucky enough to kill me. But a part of me wouldn't let myself die and I always bested my opponent." Aren shrugged as if it were no big deal.
"You were protecting her," Lucy's voice startled both men. Riven jerked his gaze around to land on his niece's face. Aren closed his eyes and sighed.
"Yes, I was protecting both of you," he replied, not looking at his daughter. Lucy felt tears in her eyes. Ever since finding out her father was alive and that he had never come for her, she had though that he was a selfish bastard that deserved to die. She had no idea that he was protecting her. He had suffered through so much. Listening to his story had torn her up.
"How long have you been standing there?" Riven asked.
"I heard everything," Lucy admitted. She and Raice had finished quickly after she heard her father start talking. She had to know about him and eavesdropped on the whole conversation.
"Well, I'm starving, so I'm going to go hunting," Aren said, climbing to his feet. He didn't like the way everyone was staring at him with pity in their eyes. It was sickening. He pushed past them and walked out the front door.
Lucy watched her father walk away and part of her wanted to run after him. She felt sorry for him after hearing his story. He had been through hell to get back to his mate and only for her to die without knowing he lived.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, a tear falling down her cheek.
Well there you have it! Aren's story! Yay! It was longer than I expected, but it explained everything! Hope you like it!