Aren gripped the arm of the rocker so hard that it splintered. He closed his eyes and grit his teeth. When would the screams end? There was nothing he could do for Lucy, but her pain was breaking his heart. His wolf was restless, not happy with the situation either. He got up and paced back and forth on the porch. Lucy screamed again, only this time it ended in a howl. After that everything grew silent. Aren sighed. She made it. She was now a full shifter. He felt something wet on his cheek and was surprised to find a tear.
"You should be proud. You have a fine daughter," a woman's voice broke the silence.
"I am very proud of her. Even if she hates me, she is still my daughter," Aren answered defensively, his face turning into a blank mask.
"You should have come home sooner. She could have used your guidance. She is much your daughter in spirit. She is impulsive and only thinks on her actions after the fact," Barbara said, taking a seat in the now empty rocker. She started rocking back and forth, watching Aren.
"I couldn't risk it. It was only trading her safety for the whereabouts of Anthony's son that made it possible for me to step out and let her know I was alive. I didn't ask to be away from her so long. She looks like her mother." Aren turned away from the old lady, not wanting her to see his eyes filled with sorrow.
"She needs you now, more than ever. Don't abandon her," Barbara said softly. Aren sighed and then turned around. He opened his mouth to speak, but closed it when he realized the rocker was empty and Barbara was nowhere to be found.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said to the wind.
Lucy woke feeling groggy and as if in a dream. Her vision was blurry and she felt like her feet weighed a ton. She lifted her head to find Raice in his panther form smiling at her.
How are you feeling? Raice's voice echoed in her head. She looked at him in surprise.
How did you do that? She asked.
When you're in your animal form, you can communicate with others telepathically. It comes in handy. Raice's voice was filled with joy and he climbed to his feet. Walking until he stood beside her, he put his body against hers. Lean on me and get to your feet. You'll be a bit shaky at first, but don't worry.
Lucy was confused. Then she remembered the pain, and the hair sprouting on her arms. She looked down and yipped in surprise. She was a wolf, a solid white one at that. She jumped to her feet, but quickly ended up in a heap on the ground.
Take it easy. It's going to take you a moment to get adjusted. Raice scolded. Lucy lowered her head. Leaning against Race's body, she attempted to stand once more.
Managing to stay standing, Lucy attempted to take a step. She made it. She wanted to shout for joy, but just managed to yip in delight. Raice purred and rubbed up against her. She took a few more steps and then became comfortable. She started down the hallway, Raice following to see where she'd go. Lucy walked to the backdoor and then turned to face Raice. Now what? She asked. Raice shifted back to human form and laughed.
"Anything, for her Highness," he teased. Lucy growled at him. He reached forward and opened the door. Lucy darted out, already stable on her four legs. She raced around the yard, taking in all the sights and sounds. Raice watched her a moment more and then shifted back. He stretched, enjoying the fact that he could now run with his mate.
Race you. Lucy called in his head. He laughed, letting it echo around in her head. She howled and took off into the woods. Raice gave her a head start and then raced after her.
Trent paced back and forth in the small room he was being kept in. His wolf was going insane from being caged. He had let it out twice now, but it hadn't been enough. When Lucy had started screaming earlier, his wolf had rushed to the surface, but he had figured out what was wrong.
He was pissed because Raice was up there, helping her through her change, when it should have been him. He was the perfect mate for her, not some cat. Yes he was sorry for betraying his pack, but he still didn't think Raice deserved Lucy. If he ever got out of this room, he was going to leave the pack. He couldn't stand to be around the ones he loved and had ended up betraying. He hated himself for it, and could only hope that they didn't find out about Bruno. He was lucky Anthony had cleaned it up so well and that the other pack hadn't been sniffing around.
"Riven," Trent called. He waited a moment and then yelled again. He heard footsteps coming down the stairs and then the door to this room opened. Riven stepped in, shutting the door behind him. He kept his body positioned in front of the door and eyed Trent.
"What?" he asked.
"How long am I going to be locked down here? My wolf is going crazy." Trent ran his fingers through his hair, his feet still pacing around the room. He couldn't sit still.
"You'll be down here until after this mess with Anthony is handled." Riven grew quiet. "I don't think you told us everything. Why would you join Anthony? I don't think it was over Lucy. She may have played a part, but not that big of one."
Trent swallowed, this throat feeling tight. Part of him wanted to confess, but the part that wanted to survive held back. What would keep Riven from killing him? He had killed Bruno in cold blood.
"Trent, I promise nothing will happen to you. Talk to me," Riven said, crossing his arms. "You used to be such a good kid. What happened to you?"
"That kid murdered a man in cold blood and got caught by the man he joined, betraying his family," Trent admitted, laughing at the end. He was going crazy with guilt.
Riven stood there in silence. "Explain. Who did you kill?" he asked. Trent leaned against the wall farthest away from Riven and slid down it till he was sitting on the ground.
Trent looked at the ground the entire time he told Riven about killing Bruno and Anthony finding him after. He was too ashamed to meet his alpha's eyes. When he was done, Riven was silent.
"Look at me," Riven commanded, his voice giving nothing away.
"What you did was wrong and punishable by death. Once Anthony is dead, only you and I will know about it. I will keep your secret, as long as it never happens again. If you kill in cold blood again, I will turn you in. Nothing will stop me. I will be keeping a closer eye on you, but my mouth is sealed." Trent stared at Riven in shock.
"Why? After everything I've done, why would you do this for me?" Trent asked, tears actually coming to his eyes. How could he have ever betrayed this man?
"I knew your father very well. You are just like him. He was impulsive and strong willed. You will grow up into a fine man. I just hope your past doesn't bog you down." Riven turned and exited the room, leaving Trent to mull over everything.
Closing his eyes, Trent let the tears fall. "I'm sorry," he said to the empty room.
Riven leaned against the door. He could hear Trent crying, but he didn't go back in the room. Could he really keep silent about this? Trent had killed Bruno, his old friend in cold blood. There were even rumors that he and Bruno were related.
Yes, Riven could. He owed it to Trent's father. If Trent ever did it again, he wouldn't hesitate. Until then, he would forget it ever happened, and hoped the kid would too.
Standing up straight, Riven walked upstairs. He entered the kitchen, opened the fridge and poured himself a glass of grape juice. He took his glass into the living room and sat down on the couch. He propped his feet up on the coffee table and sighed.
Drinking his juice, he listened to all the sounds in the house. Drew was in his room, talking to his brother. Trent was crying in the basement. Braiden and Michael were wrestling in the back yard. Barbara was humming while tending to the flowers out front. Lucy and Raice were probably in the woods enjoying Lucy's new form. Everything seemed so normal in his pack. When would this peace end? Could Anthony be readying his attack now? Night was falling; it would be the perfect time to attack. No one would be ready for it.
Anthony watched his son and daughter-in-law frolic around in the grass before darting into the trees. The man standing next to him cracked his knuckles, disrupting the peace. Anthony shot him a look and he stopped, softly apologizing.
"Should we follow them?" the man asked Anthony. Anthony remained silent, mulling it over.
"No, leave them alone," he replied. He turned around and headed back toward his camp. The man remained. His job was to report anything new to Anthony. The latest was that Lucy had finally shifted to her wolf form, and what a beauty she was. She was solid white, and easily stood out against Raice's black fur.
When he arrived back at his camp, Anthony's beta stepped up to him. "Sir," he started. Anthony motioned for him to go on. "The men want to know when we are attacking. Some of them are growing restless."
Anthony looked over at him. "Are you sure it's the men growing restless, and not you?" he asked.
"Um… yes, sir," the man answered, looking nervous.
"Tell them that we'll attack when I damn well please. Now get out of my sight." Anthony kept walking and ended up at the creek. Stripping out of his clothes, Anthony walked into the freezing water. He walked to the very middle and then dunked himself under the water. He held his breath for as long as he could. When his lungs were about to burst, he shot out of the water. He shook his head, getting the water out of his eyes. He glanced around, not liking how silent the woods were. He walked out of the water and dressed.
When he was walking back to his camp, he could have sworn someone was watching him. He glanced around, but found no one. Shrugging it off as his imagination, he didn't think anymore on it.
Logan watched as the man walked into the icy water. He was thinking this guy was crazy. The water at this time of year was freezing. Logan watched as he dunked himself and remained under for quite some time. Then he burst out of the water and then dressed. He glanced around, but Logan was well hidden. He could probably tell someone was watching him, but he'd never find Logan's hideout.
After the man disappeared, Logan climbed down the tree, dropping to the ground with a soft thump. He glanced around, scenting the air. When he was sure no one was around, he shifted and took off back to the house.
He heard a noise up ahead and stopped. He scented the air and growled when it was just Lucy and Raice. He was shocked when a white wolf raced by, a black panther on her heels.
Logan was surprised that Lucy had shifted, but it was about time. Now her heat would be over until next month. If she were pregnant, it would be nine months until her next heat. They needed some new life around the place, but not until after Anthony was dead and the threat to his pack was taken care of.
Logan had been the beta to Riven after his father died, but had been so caught in the grief and booze that Riven passed the position to Drew. Lately it was apparent that Logan was being the better beta. Drew needed to get his mind off of Candy. Logan was glad the girl was gone so Drew could do his job.
When Logan reached the pack house, he shifted, grabbing his clothes he stashed on the front porch. He dressed and then went in search of Riven. He found him in the living room drinking a cup of juice. He sat on the chair diagonal from him and then told him what he had seen.
"That man got in the water?" Riven asked incredulously. Logan nodded.
"They're all camped out on the southern border of our territory. They're spread out and easily accessible. I think we could attack the before they attack us," Logan suggested.
"I will discuss it with Smith when he and his men arrive tomorrow evening." Riven got to his feet, empty cup in his hand. "Thank you for this Logan. You would have been a good beta."
"Maybe he should just take my place," Drew said, stepping into the room. His face was blank, anger burning in his eyes.
"Drew, there's no need," Riven scolded, shaking his head.
"Ever since I took this position, I apparently can't do anything right. Jaiden is dead because of me. I take advantage of under aged girls, and I'm not brave enough to find Anthony's camp. Logan is more than capable of being your beta."
"That is enough," Riven raised his voice. "You are my beta. I was just complimenting Logan, telling him he would make a good one. You didn't see me offering him the job. What is with you?"
"Nothing, I'm going to patrol," Drew spat out. He tore off through the front door, not bothering to close it behind him. Logan sighed and walked over to the door. He peered out and then closed it behind him.
"I'm sorry about that. I have been overstepping," Logan offered. Riven shook his head.
"This isn't your fault. We're all on edge. This danger to our pack is new to us. It takes some getting used to. Keep an eye on Trent though. I don't want Anthony finding a way to get to him. I'm going to keep him locked up during the fight and don't want him getting killed." Riven looked expectant, and Logan couldn't help but agree.
Part of Logan didn't want to have anything to do with his brother. His brother had probably told Anthony everything he wanted to know. It was impossible to tell. He would do as his alpha asked though, even if he didn't want to.
Smith looked at his daughter and shook his head. "Abeline, you are not fighting with us. I need you to stay here and watch after your sister. Make sure she takes care of her heat. It should be starting soon. I don't want anyone taking advantage of you guys while I'm gone. It would be a strain on the men left behind if she let her heat go."
"I'll watch her, father," Abeline agreed. She didn't want her sister to be taken advantage of either. May was always against using the concoction they had come up with. It was a mixture of different things, and worked well. She believed it was unnatural and wrong. Abeline had to put it in her drink, or force it upon her at times. Even when she was in immense pain, May wouldn't ask for it.
"Please be careful. You two are my heart and soul," Smith said, moving forward to wrap his daughter in a hug. "I'll come back to you. I promise."
"Please don't promise something that may not be true," Abeline said, her eyes filling with tears.
"Honey, I'll be fine. Go find your sister. You guys can cook all the men breakfast and you need to make out a list of what to make. They love your cooking, that's for sure." Smith was teasing, May was the cook, not Abeline. She could burn water.
"You mean they love May's cooking. I could burn water." Abeline smiled at her father, and kissed him on the cheek. She walked out of his office and down the hall to where her sister would be reading one of her romance novels.
Abeline rolled her eyes when she saw May curled up on the sofa, a book lying on her chest, fast asleep. She walked over and shook her shoulder gently.
"What's wrong?" May asked, coming awake instantly.
"Nothing, father wants you to cook breakfast for the men in the morning. He wanted you to make a list of what to make and make sure you had everything." Abeline sat down beside her sister and took the book from her. She folded the corner of the page down, just as her sister always did, and then closed the book.
"Are you worried, sister?" May asked after a moment of silence. Abeline mulled over her answer.
"Our father is a great warrior. He has been in battles before against greater enemies," Abeline started, but was interrupted by May laughing.
"You sound so political. You were always the history buff of the family," May teased. Abilene launched a pillow at her sister and they both started laughing. Then May grew serious. "But honestly, do you think he will come back to us."
"Honestly, I don't know. I don't know how many men are in the pack he's fighting for, or what numbers they're up against. They are also panthers and they can be tough sons of bitches. But like I said before, Papa is strong." Abeline pushed her sister's hair behind her ear and grabbed her hand. "Let's go get that list ready."
That night, after running around all evening, Lucy was worn out. She collapsed on Raice's bed, her eyes closing immediately. She was out before Raice could even crawl into the bed. He slid up behind his mate and wrapped his arms around her.
"I won't let anything happen to you. You are my life. You are my love." Raice kissed her forehead. Then rubbing her stomach he leaned over and kissed it. "You are also my future, and the mother of my child."
Closing his eyes, Raice drifted to sleep with his mate pressed against him, and her heartbeat in his ear. He dreamed of a bright future and of the daughter he longed to have.
WOW! Four chapters in two days :) you guys should totally love me! Like I said, I'm trying get this baby finished! Let me know what you think about the progress so far! I'll have more done by tomorrow night! So leave me a review and it might be faster than that!
I've decided that Trent's story is going to be next and then Braiden's. I've got both planned out and that's just how it falls into place. I hope i don't piss too many people off :) I know Trent is a real asshole, but he had motive for helping Anthony. Now Riven knows his story and he hasn't sentenced him to death. The guy can be a great guy, someone just needs to bring out the best in him. I have just the girl in mind :)
Thanks for all of you that have stuck with this story from the beginning! And for my awesome beta penquin53 for all her help!