A War of the Heart

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Chapter 16

Chapter Sixteen

Riven just hung up the phone with one of the alphas that lived in the city when the door to his office was thrown open. He glanced at the angry Raice and sighed. "What now?" he asked wearily.

"Where is she?" Raice asked, his voice more animal than human. Riven tensed.

"Where is who?" he asked. He got to his feet and moved around his desk.

"Where is my mate?" Raice roared. His hands were covered in fur and his nails were now claws.

"Is she not in her room? Did you check the living room? The kitchen?" Riven asked. He was trying to keep Raice calm.

"She's not here," Raice growled. He stalked forward. "Where is she?"

The phone chose that moment to ring and Riven sighed. He walked back around his desk to answer it. Raice's voice stopped him. "Ignore it. Where is my mate? What have you done with her?"

Riven picked the phone up, ignoring the angry male. This call could be important. "Hello," he answered.

"Riven, listen closely."

Riven knew that voice instantly. It was Aren and the man sounded angry.

"Anthony is on your land. He could be outside your house at this very second. I'm sorry, but my daughter is my main concern. I had to get her away from the danger. We are headed to a safe place far from your pack. Tell her mate that I will keep her safe, and if he is alive at the end of all of this, I will return her to him. Good luck." The phone went dead with a click and Riven stared at Raice in shock.

"I'm going to kill him!" Raice roared. "Lucy!" that was the last word he got out before the change came over his body. He welcomed it. It would help him track down his mate. Riven watched as Raice landed on all fours in an all-out sprint.

Jaiden glanced around as a peculiar smell wafted under his nose. He straightened and prepared himself for an attack. He hoped it was some animal and not Drew, and instead some animal. He was supposed to be staying close to Drew's house, but he was old enough to patrol further along the property line. Drew was busy helping Candy anyway.

Sighing, Jaiden shook his head. He knew his sister had it bad for Drew, but he was too old for her. Jaiden had to find a way to get Candy away from Drew. He'd have to talk to Riven about it. His sister needed someone more her age, but at a later time. She wasn't ready for a mate yet. She was too young, and hadn't even changed yet.

A twig snapped and Jaiden looked around. "Who's there?" he called tentatively. He angled his head toward the sound, his ears struggling for any other sounds.

"Well, what do we have here?" a cold, laughing voice asked. Jaiden spun on his heels to face the intruder. He growled low in the back of his throat, and his hands grew into claws.

"What are you doing on our territory?" he asked.

"I'm here to get my son back," Anthony said, stepping out of the shadows. He nodded at Jaiden and then looked at the man that had first spoken to Jaiden. "What should we do with him?"

"Sir, we should send the pack a message through the boy. If you want your son, you're going to have to make them fear you." The man turned his attention to Jaiden and smiled menacingly. Jaiden shivered, finally realizing how serious his situation was. This was the man everyone was worried would show up. No one had expected it was going to be this soon.

Jaiden glanced at the men once more before turning back around and running in the opposite direction. He could feel their heartlessness and it petrified him. He knew that he was no match for them. He tore through the forest, his breaths coming out in deep rasps. He dodged a tree and then screamed out as a hand grabbed the back of his shirt. His momentum propelled him forward and the man holding him landed on top of him. Jaiden's breath flew from his lungs and he immediately started struggling. He managed to roll the man over and started clawing at his face. The man screamed in pain and punched Jaiden in the face.

Jaiden's body flew through the air and he landed on his back, facing the sky. He felt the blood gushing out of his nose and his scent of fear permeated the air. He scrambled to his feet and watched the other man do the same. They eyed each other and Jaiden growled. He was maybe a mile from the cabin where Drew and Candy were waiting. If he howled, maybe they'd hear him.

Taking a chance, Jaiden pulled his head back and howled as loud as he could. The man tackled him and straddled his waist. He pinned Jaiden's arms down and then looked up at Anthony who strolled calmly into the vicinity.

"You shouldn't have run, kid." Anthony shook his head and looked down at Jaiden. Jaiden's body shook in fear and he knew the men could smell it. He had one more shot. Turning his full attention on Anthony, he used his powers as an omega and tried to sway the man's decision.

"You don't have to hurt me. If you let me go, I won't let anyone know you're here. You can even keep me until after you have your son. Then you can let me go," Jaiden spoke softly, his calming power stretching toward Anthony. He watched the man relaxed visibly.

"You're right, we could do that," Anthony said, thinking aloud. Then he laughed cruelly and turned toward Jaiden. "Sorry kid, being the omega doesn't affect the alpha."

"Let me go," Jaiden begged, all pretense gone. He was scared shitless. He didn't want to die. He began to cry. He was too young to die. He had to live for his sister, to protect her from herself.

"Kill him," Anthony said, and then turned and started walking away. The man straddling Jaiden looked down at him with a cruel smile.

"My pleasure," he said.

"No!" Jaiden screamed.

Riven jumped to his feet and raced after Raice. The boy couldn't leave. They needed everyone to defend the pack. Raice was a perfect fighter and had trained with his father. He knew Anthony's weaknesses and that would make a victory more likely.

"Raice, wait," he called, pushing himself to move faster. He reached the front door at the same time that Drew and Candy walked up. They looked at him and then turned to watch the panther disappearing down the road.

"What's going on?" Drew asked.

"Aren called to inform me that he kidnapped his daughter. Anthony is somewhere in the woods, maybe even watching us now, and wanting his son. Raice just ran off to find Lucy." Riven ran his fingers through his hair.

"Have you seen Jaiden?" Candy asked worriedly. Riven shook his head then glared at the girl.

"What are you doing with Drew and Jaiden anyway? I told you to stay in the house. You could have been killed. There are all kinds of dangers in these woods. If you wouldn't have this stupid crush on Drew, and find some sense, maybe Jaiden wouldn't be missing. One of you should have been watching him." Riven was pissed, and he could see how much he was hurting Candy, but he had had enough. He was tired of everything that was going on. Sometimes being an alpha had its troubles, and this was one of those times he regretted being who he was.

"Riven, what is with you?" Drew asked, the anger evident in his eyes. He pushed Candy behind him, not liking the way Riven was singling her out.

"This is getting to me. I'm running on like zero sleep. I need this situation handled." Riven growled. "Drew, round up everyone. I want every member of this pack in my living room in the next ten minutes. Candy, I want you to go pack your stuff."

"Why? Where am I going?" Candy asked in shock.

"I'm sending you away. It's time you went off to school. You need an education, and an alpha I know will care for you. This will also be for your protection." Riven turned to go, but a hand on his arm stopped him.

"Don't do this," Drew said quietly. He looked intently into Riven's eyes.

"I'm sorry, but this is for the best. She's too young for you. I have to do what's best for every member of this pack. This can never happen." Riven shook loose of the hand and stalked back into the house.

Drew looked at Candy. "I'm sorry."

Candy let the tears fall. This was all her fault. She should have hid her attraction to Drew better. She knew he was too old for her, but she and her wolf didn't care. When she looked at Drew, she saw a mate. Riven was going to break her heart, but she knew that she had to obey her alpha.

They both started walking in the house when a howl sounded far in the distance.

"That's Jaiden," Candy cried, turning to look at Drew in horror.

"Get in the house." Drew pushed Candy toward the house and took off running. He leapt into the air and landed on four legs. He pushed his wolf as fast as he could. Jaiden sent out a call for help, and Drew was going to make it in time.

Braiden sighed as he opened the door to his house. He could smell Trent inside, and he wasn't in the mood to deal with his brother. He walked into the house and started toward the stairs. His mother's voice stopped him.

"Braiden, come have a piece of pie," she called from the kitchen. Braiden thought sometimes it was eerie how she knew which of her sons was present. When they had been kids, they had disguised their scents, but she had still known. It must be a mother thing.

"I'm fine mom, I'm just gonna go change and lay down. It's been a long day." Braiden raced up the stairs and straight into his room. He shut the door behind him and leaned against it.

He was worn out. Michael had talked him into a run, and he had been grateful to just let himself go. His wolf had taken control and he pushed his human half to the back of his mind.

Braiden could still taste the two squirrels his wolf caught and ate with his brother. They had both caught the strong scent of panther, but had never seen anyone. As soon as he changed, Braiden would go tell Riven of the intrusion.

Braiden walked over to his dresser and pulled out a shirt. He pulled it over his head and let it slide down his waist to settle into place. He then grabbed a pair of sweat pants and pulled them on, opting to go commando.

A knock on his door caused Braiden to look up. He smiled at his mother as she opened the door. "Can I come in?" she asked. He nodded and she shut the door behind him.

"How are you doing? Did the run help get your mind off that girl?" his mother asked him. He sighed and sank down on his bed. He bent over, rested his elbows on his knees and lay his head in his hands.

"I'm fine mom. She wasn't just some girl to me, I thought she was the one," he replied honestly. He didn't think he felt as strong a pull as Raice had, but there was definitely one there.

"I really must meet this girl," was his mother's only reply. He looked at her and nodded.

"Yes, you must."

"You will find the one for you. Just have patience my son."

Braiden growled. "Mom, I wanted this one. I know I sound like a little kid, but damn I feel like I just lost my only chance at finding a mate. There aren't many females in this pack, just you and Candy. She's too young for me. I'm going crazy. I'm thinking that maybe I need to take some time away from the pack, maybe travel for a while."

"Braiden! You can't leave!" his mother stared at him in horror.

"Mom, not everything is all about the pack. For once I want to be selfish. I've served Riven long enough. It's time I took off on my own. You can't stop me. I'll be leaving in a couple weeks, after all this has settled down. I'll stay to protect you and my brothers from the panthers, but then I'm gone."

The room grew eerily silent for a few moments and then she finally spoke.

"Come downstairs and eat please. Your brother left to go talk to Riven."

"I'm fine, really I am not hungry. I need to speak to Riven too. I'll come back later and we can talk."

His mother opened her mouth to reply when the front door slammed open and heavy footsteps sounded on the stairs. Braiden jumped to his feet and placed himself between his mother and the door. He bent low and growled, ready to take on the threat.

Michael came barreling into the room and bent over to catch his breath. "Something terrible has happened. Riven's called a pack meeting. Everyone must come, even you mother."

Braiden looked at his mother and then they all followed Michael down the stairs. They all stalked out the front door and took off running toward the pack house.

Lucy woke with a pounding headache, and not a clue where she was. She could hear someone talking low, but her senses felt muffled. She opened her eyes and looked around slowly. She was in a car and they were moving fast. She watched trees pass by in blurs. She sniffed the air, making out the scent that she placed with her father. She sat up and groaned as her vision went black and she almost passed out. Her nose ached and she could taste blood.

"Sh, take it slow. You're going to have a huge headache, and sudden movements will give you blurry vision." Aren glanced at his daughter worriedly. He hadn't expected her to wake so soon. They had only been on the road for an hour.

"Where are we?" Lucy asked.

All of a sudden, it all came back to her. Her father coming through her window, demanding she pack. Then his fist coming toward her face when she had tried to go warn everyone that Anthony was there.

She growled and turned to face her father. "Turn around. I need to go back."

"I can't do that Lucy. This is for the best. I wouldn't have had to knock you out, if you had just cooperated with me. I know what's best for you as a father." Aren gripped the steering wheel tighter and Lucy watched his knuckles turn white.

"After all these years, you assume you can start being my father now? What the fuck is your problem. You left all of them there with out a clue that Anthony was as close as he is. They could all be dead. If my mate is dead, I'll kill you. Do you hear me? Now turn this piece of shit around and take me back." If looks could kill, her father would be dead.

"I'm not taking you back. Now do I have to hit you again to get you to cooperate?" Aren threatened her. She gaped at him. This man was impossible.

An idea came to Lucy, but it was reckless and dangerous. It could even kill her, but she couldn't leave Riven and Raice to face Anthony alone. She felt like part of the pack and had grown to care for both men. Raice was still on her bad side for mating her without her full consent, but she wasn't going to let him die without chewing his ass out. And Riven was like a second father figure to her. Yes sometimes she hated him, but he was still family.

Waiting a few minutes when she knew Aren was more focused on the road, she took the time to study their surroundings. Every few miles the road was surrounded by trees on either side. It would work perfect with her plan. She watched as the first patch of trees flew by and then the road opened up three miles later. She waited until she saw the trees up ahead and then got her hands ready. One was on her seatbelt button, and the other was moving toward the door handle.

Counting to ten, she braced herself and then set her plan in motion. She pushed the seatbelt button then opened the door. She heard her father gasp and shout her name, but she was already leaping through the air and out of the car. She closed her eyes, curled into a ball and braced herself to hit the ground.

Candy looked once at the house, then toward Drew. No way in hell was she staying behind. She tore after Drew. She pushed her human body as fast as it would go. She cursed that she was too young to shift.

She ignored the branches that scratched her arms and the leaves that smacked her in the face. She had to get to her brother. He sounded so scared and desperate in that howl. Why had he run off? Why had she distracted Drew and let Jaiden sneak out? She was so selfish. She had tried to kiss Drew and it had to lead to a long serious talk. She felt tears brush her eyes as she remembered Drew telling her it wasn't going to work. It had broken her heart. She remembered the way his lips felt pressed against hers. It had been her first, and she'd never forget it.

Drew responded, that she was sure, but then he had pushed her away. She had seen his erection, knew he wanted her, but then he had broken her heart. She let the tears fall, the adrenaline that came with them helping her to move even faster. She heard a commotion up ahead and then burst into a clearing. She could see Drew in his wolf form battling with a panther.

She watched as he leapt onto the panther's back and bit into his neck. Drew was majestic and beautiful in his wolf form. Candy couldn't help but watch in awe and horror as Drew ended the panther's life. He let the body drop limp to the ground and then his eyes found hers. He growled and moved toward her.

Shifting back, Drew glared at her. "What are you doing out here?"

"I came to find my brother," she snapped at him. She brushed the tears away, and faced him full on. She wasn't backing down.

He growled at her and the sniffed the air. His expression grew tense and then he turned toward the left. Candy followed his gaze and then moved forward. She pushed through the bushes and past trees and then her gaze fell on a motionless bloody body. She gasped and then hit the ground. Her knees had buckled under her.

"No, I can't be too late," Drew mumbled. Candy couldn't look at him. Her gaze was stuck on the body. She started crawling forward, her breaths coming out in gasps and her heart beating fast.

Drew darted forward and dropped to his knees by the body. He placed his hands on his chest and started doing CPR. Candy reached the body and felt for a pulse. There was none.

"No! Damn it! Wake up!" she screamed. She watched Drew sit up and stared at her in horror. She could feel the tears streaming down her face, but she didn't wipe them away. "This is all your fault!"

Without thinking, Candy launched herself at Drew. She was angry, hurt, and heartbroken. She punched Drew in the mouth and then started scratching his face. She didn't care where she hit, as long as she hit him. Someone had to pay.

Drew wrapped his arms around Candy and stopped her movements. He crushed her to his chest and tears welled in his eyes. He held the small girl in his arms, his hands covered in blood and looked down at Jaiden's lifeless body.

"This is all my fault. If I hadn't distracted you, he wouldn't have been able to leave. Why… why?" Candy sobbed.

Candy shoved Drew away and stood. Throwing her head back she screamed, the sound eerie and hollow. She screamed for minutes, or hours, Drew didn't know. He only knew he had to make her stop. Before he could reach her, her eyes rolled back in her head and she dropped to the ground.

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