A War of the Heart

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Chapter 22

Chapter Twenty-Two

Braiden yawned and stretched. He was well rested and ready to face the day. Today was the day that he would run things by Riven. He had yet to ask him about leaving the pack with everything that was going on.

The night has passed with no attacks from Anthony, and everyone was on edge. What was he waiting for? Raice and Lucy were back. Wasn't he here for his son?

Braiden shook his head. "Oh well. When he attacks, we'll be ready." Getting up, he walked over to his dresser and grabbed a pair of boxers and some jeans. He went to his closet and grabbed a solid black tee. He preferred to go barefoot, so he left his socks and boots where they were sitting.

Walking down the stairs, Braiden took note that the house was super quiet. He wondered where his family was. How late was it? Had he slept past breakfast? Or was everyone still in bed?

"Hello," he called. When no one answered he walked out onto the front porch and took in a breath of fresh air. The forest was alive with the sounds of birds and the garble of the creek as it crashed against the bank and rocks. It was peaceful.

Walking down the path to the pack house, Braiden sighed. He felt lonely. Michael was always hanging with Logan, trying to learn some new moves. Trent was locked in the basement for betraying his family. His mother was always in the garden or working on the flower beds around the pack house. Candy was gone to who-knows-where. Jaiden was dead, and Drew was a mess. Chris was the only sane one out of that family, and he was just too young for Braiden to hang out with. The kid wasn't even old enough to legally drink. It was frustrating.

Raice finding his mate had all the guys thinking. Braiden had even noticed Logan looking at the couple with desire and jealousy. Not because he wanted Lucy, but he wanted a mate of his own. Braiden was the same way. He knew Michael was. His brother had been acting strange lately, ever since he had talked to Braiden in front of their house the other day. Was he hiding something?

He reached the pack house without running into anyone. He thought it strange, but he wasn't going to let it bother him. He went to the bathroom and knocked before entering.

He set his clothes down on the sink and then looked into the mirror. He needed to shave. Opening the mirror cabinet he pulled out the razor and then grabbed some shaving cream from the shower. He squirted some on his hands and then patted it onto his face. After wiping his hands off on the towel next to the sink, he started shaving.

After nicking himself twice, and washing the remaining shaving cream off his face, Braiden climbed into the shower and let the water run over him, washing away all of his worries.

When he was dressed, Braiden turned off the light and opened the bathroom door. He was about to step out into the hallway, when he ran into someone. He grabbed them before they could fall and muttered an apology. Lucy looked at him and smiled.

"Good morning," she said cheerfully. Braiden smirked. Someone got laid this morning, he thought to himself. He was about to move when he caught a whiff of Lucy's scent.

"What the?" Braiden grabbed her by the shoulders and leaned toward her neck. Lucy asked him what was wrong, but he was too shocked to answer. Pushing Lucy gently away, Braiden threw his clothes in the hamper and then took off down the hall. He was so mad he could see red. His wolf was even clawing at him to be free.

When he got to Raice's room he didn't even bother knocking. He knew that Raice was in there. He kicked the door open and then walked forward and grabbed Raice by the throat.

"How could you? You know the situation we're in, yet you placed your mate in even more danger! You selfish bastard!" Braiden slammed Raice into the wall, not giving the guy a chance to respond.

"Braiden, let him go," Lucy screamed from the door way, her hands over her mouth in horror. "What is wrong with you?"

"Lucy, you're pregnant," Braiden stated, earning a roar from Raice. Lucy looked like she was going to faint.

Turning back to Raice, Braiden barely missed the punch aiming for his face. It nicked his chin instead.

"What the fuck is your problem? I was going to tell her later this morning, you asshole. You ruined the surprise," Raice yelled. Lucy looked sick and turned to run down the hallway. Raice jerked out of Braiden's hands and followed after her.

"Lucy," Raice called. Braiden stood there a moment, breathing hard and clenching his fists. He took a moment to calm himself before going off to find Riven. When he reached Riven's office, he paced back and forth before going in. He was pissed that Lucy was pregnant, but it was also good news. They would have another addition to the pack. Maybe it would be another girl. They definitely needed more of those around here. Finally calm, Braiden opened the door to Riven's office and found him on the phone. When he saw Braiden, he motioned him forward.

"Yes, I'm glad," Riven said. Braiden took a seat and waited for him to get off the phone. Riven said goodbye and then hung the phone up.

"What can I do for you?" Riven asked, looking well rested.

"I came to talk to you," Braiden stated, feeling a little nervous. He hoped Riven wouldn't be too mad at his declaration.

"What about?" Riven pushed.

"After the fight, and when things settle down, I'm leaving," Braiden declared. Riven looked at him a moment and then leaned back in his chair.

"Do you mean leaving, as in for good?" Riven asked, his face carefully blank.

"Yes. I think it's time for me to move on. I need to find a mate and settle down. Maybe once I find that special someone, we'll move back here. Until then I just want to explore the world. I've been here my entire life and I'm feeling restless. Please tell me you understand," Braiden explained.

"I actually understand you better than you think. The only reason I haven't left myself is because I have a pack to look after. If you want to leave, I won't stop you." Riven folded his hands together. "What does your mother think about this?"

"I told her and she's sad, of course. But she can't stop me. Logan, Michael, and Trent will look after her. She'll be fine," Braiden insisted.

"Then by all means, have at it. I think your mother would appreciate it if you called to let her know you were alright time to time." Riven climbed to his feet.

"I'll do that," Braiden replied. He got up and walked to the door, but stopped short of stepping out into the hallway.

"Is there something else?" Riven asked, starting to sound impatient.

"Yes, I just wanted to give you a head's up that you're going to be a great uncle." Braiden got up and left before Riven could say anything.

Riven felt like he couldn't breathe. Lucy was pregnant? Braiden had to be kidding. After taking a moment to collect himself, Riven walked out of his office and down the hall toward where Lucy's scent was strongest. When he got closer, he could indeed smell the scent change in Lucy and what it meant.

"Lucy," Raice was saying, beating on the bathroom door. "Open up."

"What's going on?" Riven asked. He stopped by Raice's side.

"That asshole, Braiden, spilled the news about Lucy's pregnancy. I had been planning on telling her this afternoon, but now she won't come out of the bathroom." Raice was pissed and his panther was pacing back and forth inside his mind which was making his anger worse. He could easily kick the door down, but he wanted Lucy to come out on her own.

"Lucy honey, what's wrong?" Riven asked softly, tapping on the door.

"Go away. I just want to be alone," Lucy called, her voice wavering.

"Give her some time," Riven said, patting Raice on the back. "Congratulations are in order, though I wished it were under better circumstances."

"I didn't choose the timing, though I don't regret it at all. I think Lucy would make a wonderful mother," Raice said determined. Riven shook his head, a smile on his face. This was definitely going to be interesting.

"I am having a meeting for everyone later. We're meeting in the backyard. Noon sounds good to me. Spread the word," Riven commanded. Raice nodded and then went back to banging on the bathroom door. Riven laughed and walked down the hallway.

Lucy felt like she was hyperventilating. She was pregnant. There was life growing inside of her. She felt another wave of nausea hit her. She couldn't do this. She wasn't ready. How could this have happened?

She thought back to when Riven had been telling her about the heat and that the first one was always the easiest one to get pregnant on. If she had remembered she would have used protection.

"I'm not ready," she whispered. Raice had finally stopped banging on the door and was sitting out in the hallway. She needed some space. How long had he known? Was he really going to tell her today? There were so many questions, but she wasn't ready for the answers.

After some time, Lucy climbed to her feet and looked at herself in the mirror. She had gotten darker, her skin looked soft to the touch. She had a glow to her, that made her wonder if it was from the pregnancy.

"Lucy, please come out," Raice begged. Lucy was surprised he had lasted this long. She had almost been worried.

Opening the door slowly, she stepped out into the hallway. Raice jumped to his feet and wrapped his arms around her. He pulled her close and she tucked her head under his chin. She rested her cheek on his chest and let him hold her. They stayed that way for a few minutes and then Raice pulled back.

"Let's go get some breakfast. I can fix you some eggs and toast," Raice suggested. Lucy nodded and let him lead her. As Raice worked over the stove, Lucy couldn't help but admire his cute ass. She thought about going up and grabbing it, but changed her mind. Raice might burn himself.

"I love you," Lucy said, finishing off her eggs. Raice had done a good job, and she was impressed.

"I love you too," Raice replied, kissing her on the forehead. "How are you feeling?" he asked.

"I'm a little shaky right now. I totally wasn't expecting this. It's came as a shock." Lucy was being honest. Raice and she needed to talk this out.

"I'm not really father material right now, but I promise that I will be a good father to our baby, and a good mate to you, Lucy," Raice swore.

"We'll work on this together," Lucy suggested. Raice nodded and picked her up.

"Let's go get changed and ready for the meeting."

"I'm sure that's the only reason we're headed back to your room and not mine," Lucy teased.

"Ha ha," Raice said dryly, a gleam in his eye. Lucy laughed as he started running.

Trent felt sick. Lucy was pregnant? He heard the commotion Braiden caused. Raice's room was to the left of the room over where Trent was being kept.

Raice and Lucy were going to have a hybrid. Was it going to be a wolf or a panther? Or a mixture of both? Had there ever been a mixed couple before? This was definitely new for the pack.

"I gotta get out of here," Trent said to the empty room. He climbed to his feet and walked over to the door. He tried the handle, but of course it was locked. He listened to make sure no one was around and then he got to work on busting the door down. No way was he going to stay another moment under this roof.

He wasn't going to go back to Anthony, he had learned his lesson in that regard. He was going to go off on his own. He would leave his mother a note and grab some of his things. He was partly sad he would miss the fight, but he was restless.

"Come on," he snarled at the door. He threw his weight against it, but still it wouldn't budge. What was this door made out of? He kept at it until his side was numb from pain and his energy was drained. "I'm never getting out of here."

Smith hugged each of his girls and kissed them on the forehead. "I'll be back before you know it," he said.

May felt a tear roll down her cheek and let it fall. She was emotional because her heat was coming on. That's what she told her father anyway. She didn't want him to know she was worried.

"We'll see you as soon as you get back. Be careful, Papa," Abeline said, hugging him back as tight as she could. She didn't want to let go. Something could happen to him. This could be the last time she saw him. Her throat tightened and her eyes burned as she held back her tears.

"If you can, call us tonight when you get there," May suggested. Smith nodded.

"I will," he promised. "That's if the panthers don't attack."

"We understand," Abeline replied. She watched her father join the group of men waiting to leave. She waved to her best friend, Sean and he smiled at her. May stepped closer and Abeline put her arm around her. She could smell the scent change in May and knew her heat was starting.

"I'm worried," May said after the men had left.

"Don't be. He'll be fine," Abeline encouraged. May just nodded and let Abeline put her arm around her. She was tired.

"I'm going to go lay down," she said. Abeline nodded and let her sister go. She watched her with worry in her eyes. She hoped May wasn't getting sick and this was only because of her heat.

Turning to follow her sister, Abeline looked one last time in the direction her father had disappeared. "Come back to us," she whispered, the wind carrying her words off.

"We attack tonight. As soon as the moon is high and everyone is asleep, we will go in and attack. You ten will attack from the back, distracting them while we go in through the front. If you encounter my son, roar. He is mine. Do not kill him. If his mate crosses your path, keep her alive and bring her to me. Do you understand?" Anthony asked, his eyes scanning the group of men in front of him. "Those not in my group will pick off any that try to run. Make sure no one survives except the women and the alpha. I want him to suffer for protecting my son. He should have kicked him out a long time ago."

After making a few more plans, Anthony shifted into his panther form and went for a run. He relished in the wind blowing through his fur. He stopped as he heard the squeak of a field mouse up ahead. He stalked forward on silent paws and eyed the creature. It was munching on a berry. Leaping forward, Anthony easily caught it between his paws. He bent down and ended its life. Tossing it in the air he swallowed it without chewing.

He kept walking, taking in the sounds of the early morning. The grass was damp and the air felt heavy. Lifting his nose into the air he took a whiff of air. Sensing no one and smelling only the forest, Anthony shifted back and looked around.

Sitting on the ground he crossed his legs and closed his eyes. Resting his palms on his knees he retreated deep within himself. He pictured the battle that was about to happen and watched as it played out in his mind.

After an hour, Anthony got up, feeling refreshed. Again he felt eyes on him, but couldn't pick up anyone's scent. He glared around, his eyes narrowing. Shifting back to his panther form, he raced back to his camp. He had a fight to prepare for.

Logan was seriously freaked out. What was the deal with this guy? He had swallowed a mouse whole and then did some meditating shit. It was just weird. He acted like he was totally relaxed, not planning on killing innocent people. It sickened Logan.

Climbing down from the tree he had been in, Logan jumped the last little bit. Turning to walk away, he didn't notice that Anthony changed directions. The hair on the back of his neck stood up and he turned around. Anthony was standing there in human form staring at him. Logan backed up.

"This is intriguing," Anthony said, a smile on his face, but not meeting his eyes. "How long have you been watching me?"

"What do you want?" Logan asked, ignoring his question.

"I want you answer my question. Were those your eyes I felt on me in the creek yesterday? Are you gay?" Anthony was baiting him, and he could see Logan reacting.

Logan held back his wolf. Now was not the time to attack this man. He could have plenty of men there in moments. Logan was alone and far from the pack house. He would see this man again on the battlefield.

Anthony felt a stab of disappointment when the wolf didn't attack. He had been yearning for a fight. Oh well, he'd see the young wolf again very soon. He would enjoy watching the life flow out of his eyes as Anthony ripped out his throat.

Logan turned and shifted in mid leap. He tore through the bushes, unsure if Anthony was following him. When he heard no one tracking him, and smelled no one around, Logan slowed to catch his breath. That had been a close one. Maybe he was losing his touch.

Riven looked at his pack and found himself feeling proud. They may be small in number, but they all had a big heart. He looked each of them in the eye and nodded his respect to them. He noticed Lucy was allowing Raice to stand closer and even put his arm around her. He guessed that Raice had fixed things with her.

"I have called you all here to discuss some things. A lot has been going on lately, and I wanted to let everyone know what was happening." Riven grew silent a moment and then continued. "As you all know, we are under the threat of attack. It could happen any day at any moment. What you don't know is that I have enlisted the help of a fellow alpha. He will be here this evening and will help us in the battle. He has asked for nothing in return. He is only watching out for his pack and the threat of attack from Anthony after he dealt with us."

The pack remained silent and Riven took that as a cue to keep going. He met Braiden's eyes as he said the next part.

"You may not know this, but Braiden has asked me to leave the pack after the fight. I have agreed," Riven said.

"What? Braiden, is this true?" Michael asked in disbelief. Braiden nodded and his brother looked disgusted. "Why? Why didn't you tell me?"

"I'm sorry man, I knew that you'd freak out. I need to leave, bro. Please don't argue with me," Braiden replied. Michael shook his head, but said nothing more.

"Another thing, is that Trent is going to be kept locked up until after the fight. Then I will deal with him and come up with his punishment after the threat has passed. What he did was wrong, but he is sorry for it. Hopefully you can all forgive him and put this behind you."

"That will be hard," Logan said to no one in particular. Riven looked at him and nodded in acknowledgment of his statement. Looking around, Riven gave everyone time to say something. When it remained silent, he finished.

"Lastly, I want you to know that we will be having a new member in the pack. Lucy is pregnant," Riven said. Gasps were heard and then everyone started talking at once. Barbara walked up to Lucy and asked her how she was feeling. Logan looked at Riven in shock, and Michael went up to talk to Braiden. Drew and Chris hung back in the shadows.


This was more of a filler chapter, but I think it also gives a lot away. Can you believe it? Lucy is pregnant! Yay :) She and Raice will make a beautiful baby! But is it going to be a panther or wolf? lol

I'm thinking there's only THREE chapters left, and the epilogue, but it could end up being just two. Depends on how quickly I can tie up the rest of the loose ends.

Leave me a review pwease!



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