A War of the Heart

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Chapter 24

Chapter Twenty-Four

Lucy woke to the sound of the bedroom door opening. She had gotten up to pee just moments before and was only slightly asleep. She looked up and screamed at the strange man smiling at her. Raice shot up and took in the scene. He growled and then launched himself at the man. Lucy screamed again.

"We're under attack," Lucy yelled as loud as she could. She watched in horror as the man punched Raice in the face. She covered her mouth and scooted back against the wall. Raice's fingers turned to claws and he raked them across the man's face. He pushed him out of the room and they disappeared out of Lucy's sight. She jumped to her feet and ran over to the door. She peeked around the door frame and then quickly jerked back as the man came flying down the hallway, barely missing her face.

Raice appeared in the doorway and he pushed her inside. "Lock the door. If anyone comes near the window, scream." He shut the door and Lucy leaned forward and locked it.

She walked over to the bed and sat down. She jumped as she heard a thump on the door. She nibbled on her lip and crossed her arms. Why was she sitting in here? She could fight too! She had just gotten up when she heard someone trying to wiggle the door handle. She eyed the door and then looked at the window.

"I'm coming for you, little girl," a voice growled. Lucy's eyes widened and she ran to the window. She gasped when the door groaned as a weight was thrown against it. She had the window open when she heard the door splintering. It was only a matter of time before they were in. Where was Raice? Not waiting another moment, Lucy jumped out the window. The door burst open behind her and she heard someone running toward the window.

Lucy shifted and took off toward the front of the house. She had just reached the porch when she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. She was about to attack when her father stepped out of the shadows, blood on his bare chest. She shifted back and he stared at her in shock.

"What are you doing out here?" he roared. He looked out toward the front yard and growled. He grabbed Lucy's arm and started toward the front door. He had just opened the door when a man fell into them. The man turned around and attacked Aren. Lucy screamed and moved to the side.

She watched in horror as Aren grabbed the man by the throat and tightened his grip. The man struggled, but was no match for Aren's strength. "Die," Aren growled and then threw the man to the side. Lucy waited, but the man didn't get up. Aren turned his focus back on Lucy.

"We need to get you out of here." Aren had just taken a step forward when an arm wrapped around Lucy's throat and she was jerked back into a hard chest.

"Well, well, well. We meet again, Aren," a voice said. Lucy looked at her father, her heart racing.


Raice wiped the blood off of his mouth and raced down the hallway. He climbed over a dead body and then glanced at his door. His heart stopped when he saw the door open. "Lucy," he called, running into the room. He looked around and his eyes landed on the open window. He raced over to it and jumped out. Sticking his nose in the air, he followed her scent. He was just about to round the corner to the front of the house when he heard footsteps running toward him. He turned just in time to see a gray wolf leaping at him.

Raice caught the wolf by the throat, stopping it in mid air. He roared in the animal's face and then tossed it away. He was completely a predator right now. His mate was in danger. He let his panther loose. As soon as his paws hit the ground, Raice leapt on the wolf struggling to get his feet under him. He bit into his neck and shook his head side to side. When the wolf lay limp, he let it fall to the ground and then roared his anger to the sky.

He tore across the lawn to the front yard. What he saw made his heart stop and his panther roar again. Anthony had Lucy. His arm was around her throat and his chest was pressed against her back. He saw red. He raced across the lawn and jumped onto the porch, landing in front of Aren.

"Let her go," Aren was saying. Raice paid him no attention. His attention was riveted on the man holding his mate.

"I take it this is my son?" Anthony asked, nodding toward Raice. Raice growled and Anthony laughed. "You filled out, son."

Shifting back Raice barely controlled himself. He couldn't just attack, he risked hurting Lucy. He had to think about her and the baby. "Let my mate go."


Raice growled and took a step forward. Lucy whimpered as the arm on her throat tightened, cutting off her oxygen. Her eyes frantically sought Raice and she looked panicked.

"Stop it," Raice said, reaching forward. Anthony jerked back, taking Lucy with him. He loosened his grip and Lucy sucked in breaths. Raice wanted to scream. He didn't know what to do. "What do you want?"

"I want you," Anthony answered, his eyes darkening in anger.

"Then you can have me. Let Lucy go," Raice bargained. Lucy shook her head, but Raice ignored her.

"I'm going to kill you, and I'm going to enjoy it," Anthony growled. He threw Lucy forward, and then shifted. Before Raice could react, Anthony was in the air and then Raice was under him. Lucy screamed as Anthony's claws tore into Raice's bare skin.

Aren darted forward and tackled Anthony off of Raice. Anthony swatted Aren in the face and he rolled away. It was all the time Raice needed to shift. He changed and then threw himself on his father's back. He dug his claws in and held on as Anthony started bucking.

Drew dodged the fist aimed for his face. He took a punch in the gut and then his feet were swept out from under him. He landed on the ground, but quickly bounced back to his feet, sweeping his opponents feet out from under them. They hit the ground and he was on them. He punched the man in the face until he stopped moving. Then grabbing his head, Drew twisted his neck until he heard it snap.

Climbing off of the body, Drew didn't see the man sneaking up behind him. He had just turned around when a fist met his nose. Drew gasped as he tripped over the body and hit the ground. A shoe came at him from the side, and he barely avoided it. He grabbed the man's leg and tugged the man to the ground. Struggling to get up, Drew shifted.

He watched the man shift into his panther form and fought the urge to tuck tail and run. The panther outweighed him and was stronger. He bided his time to get and advantage. The panther darted forward and tried to go for the throat. Drew was expecting that and leapt over him. He turned and quickly jumped on the panther's back. He dug his claws in and tore at the back of the panther's neck. His teeth couldn't get a good grip and he was slipping as the panther jerked and moved beneath him. Before he could realize what the panther was doing, he found himself under the full weight of the panther. He struggled to breathe as he fought his way out from under the panther. The panther got up and then went in for the kill. It bit into Drew's throat and then threw him against the wall. Drew hit hard and slid down. He landed in a heap in the floor and didn't move.

Drew felt his vision going blurry and watched the panther coming toward him. His eyes closed and the last thing he saw was a mental picture of Candy and the thought that he'd never see her again before everything went black.

Michael was limping and leaving a trail of blood as he pushed his way through the bushes toward the pack house. His mother was there and he had to know she was okay. The attack had come on a poor night. All of them were exhausted and Michael could barely keep his head up.

Something tackled him from the side and Michael yipped as he hit the ground. Claws tore into his side and he struggled to get the weight off him. He managed to kick the panther off him and then took off running. He was in trouble and needed help. He was hurt and couldn't fight the panther. He was almost to the pack house when the panther managed to get in front of him. Michael came to a sudden stop, dirt flying as he dug his claws in. His wolf growled and took a step back. Braiden, where are you? Michael called.

He heard a noise behind him and jerked around. Another panther poked its head out of the bushes. I'm coming. Braiden's voice filled his head and Michael's ears perked up.

Hurry, I can't hold them off. Two of them have me surrounded on the south side of the pack house. Michael had just gotten the last word to his brother when both the panthers darted forward. One grabbed his haunches while the other went for his throat. God help us.

Braiden tore past Logan fighting with a panther and raced across the yard. He had heard the panic in his brother's voice and knew he was bad off. He had to make it in time.

He was almost there when he heard his brother's wolf howl and then go eerily silent. NO! Braiden screamed in his head. He pushed himself faster and darted through the bushes. He saw his brother's limp body lying on the ground, the panther poised to deliver a killing blow. Braiden growled and tackled the panther. The slammed into a tree and Braiden heard a cracking noise. He ignored it and bit into the panther's neck, tearing out his throat. The panther struggled a few more moments and then went still. Braiden was walking back to this brother when he heard the other panther. Before he could respond, the panther was on his back.

Braiden growled in pain as the panther's claws raked down his haunches. The bastard took a chunk out of Braiden's shoulder and growled in his ear. Braiden managed to get the panther off and got in a few blows himself. A terrible sound rent the air and Braiden took the panther's distraction to his advantage. He darted in and ripped out the panther's throat.

He turned to see Michael struggling to his feet. He heard a crash of thunder and then rain started pouring out of the sky. He cursed and padded toward Michael. A bright light flashed in front of his eyes and then he heard a cracking and tearing noise. He looked up to see a tree falling toward Michael. He howled and threw his body against his brothers. Michael rolled away, but Braiden didn't make it. The tree fell, landing right on Braiden's back leg. Braiden howled and then passed out.

They were outnumbered. Every time Riven killed one of the bastards, another took his place. He was weak and felt like every bone in his body was broke. His muscles were taut and aching. He dropped the panther to the ground, the body unmoving.

He tilted his head back and howled. He could hear fighting all around him, but he was so tired. He wanted to just lie down and close his eyes. Maybe then this would all just be a bad dream.

He had about given up all hope until a howl sounded in the distance. The rain was making it hard to scent anything, but that howl was definitely wolf, and close. Riven hoped that it was Smith. That would be the miracle they needed at the moment.

He looked toward the woods and could have cried when he saw Smith and about twenty men step out of the woods. They took in the scene and immediately shifted. They took off in different directions, but Smith came running toward him. He brushed up aside him and whimpered.

Riven leaned against him, his legs barely keeping him up. Smith helped him toward the pack house. As they were approaching, Riven could see Logan struggling to keep two panthers off him. Riven growled and Smith followed his line of sight. Just as Smith took a step forward, three wolves darted in to help. Riven sighed and then continued to walk toward the back porch.

As soon as he got on the porch he shifted back into human form, Smith followed suit. "What the fuck took so long?" Riven growled. Smith growled at him.

"I tried my damnedest to get here. There were police and dogs all over the woods a few miles from here. My men and I had to avoid them all fucking day and not lead them to you. It was a real bitch. Luckily as soon as night fell they took their dogs and left. Some of my men heard them talking about a missing girl." Smith sighed.

"Well I'm glad you got here when you did. We are seriously outnumbered and I haven't the slightest clue how many of them are left." Riven groaned as he saw a panther stalking toward them. "Let's end this."

Riven shifted and so did Smith. They looked at each other and then took off across the lawn toward the panther.

Lucy watched in horror as Raice dodged another near deadly swipe of Anthony's claws. Raice was bleeding in multiple places while Anthony barely had a scratch. Aren and Lucy were watching from the sides. No matter how many times Lucy begged, Aren wouldn't join in.

"It's not my place," Aren kept telling her. Lucy wanted to growl in frustration. If Aren wasn't holding her back, Lucy would jump in the fight. She was a wolf now. She wasn't going to be pampered anymore.

Lucy gasped as Raice went rolling across the ground after a serious swat of Anthony's paw. Raice struggled to get to his feet. It wasn't fast enough because Anthony was on him before Raice could move. Anthony dug his back claws down Raice's belly and Raice roared in pain.

Lucy screamed and struggled in Aren's grip. "Just wait." Lucy wanted to punch her father in the face.

"He's going to kill him! Do something," she begged. Tears were rolling freely down her face.

"Have some faith in your mate," Aren replied. Lucy took a deep breath and turned her attention back to the fight. She gasped as she saw Raice launch his father in the air. He met his father mid air and dug his claws down Anthony's sides. His father roared and snapped his teeth in the air. Raice bit down, taking a chunk out of Anthony's side. Anthony was bleeding profusely and seemed like he was slowing down.

When they hit the ground, they rolled. Raice jerked away and jumped to his feet. Anthony did the same, but he got to his feet slower. He eyed his son, and Lucy wondered what would happen next.

After a few more blows, Raice finally had Anthony pinned. His father struggled, but Raice wasn't letting him up. He bit down on Anthony's throat, but didn't move. Part of him held back.

Lucy covered her mouth and waited to see what Raice would do. She didn't want Raice to have to kill his father. He'd have to live with that for the rest of his life. If he did though, she'd honor his decision. She held her breath as she waited.

"What are you waiting on?" Aren called. "Finish him."

Raice jerked back and shifted into his human form. Anthony did the same, but remained on the ground. Raice stared down at his father. "I can't." He looked at Aren and then at Lucy. "I can't kill him."

"You're weak," Anthony mumbled. Raice growled.

"Kill him," Aren snapped.

"No. Anthony, get lost. Don't come back. You've been beaten," Raice said. Anthony got to his feet and growled at his son.

"This isn't over. I'll be back." Anthony started walking away. Raice watched him a moment and then walked toward his mate. He smiled wearily at her, glad it was all over. He was bleeding from several cuts and he was bone tired.

Lucy smiled at her mate as he walked toward her. She could hear Aren mumbling curses under his breath and he glared at Raice. Lucy noticed movement behind Raice and gasped.

"Raice, look out," she screamed. She covered her mouth in horror. Before she or Raice could react, Aren was in the air in his wolf form. He tackled Anthony and they went sprawling across the ground. Aren landed on top his mouth attached to Anthony's throat. The wolf growled and then ripped the panther's throat out. Lucy gasped and closed her eyes. She felt sick.

Raice wrapped her up in his embrace and kissed the top of her head. "I'm sorry you had to see that. I'm sorry I couldn't kill him. I'm weak."

"You're not weak. You not killing your father shows me you have a heart. I love you for not killing him." Lucy kissed his lips. Aren howled and they both turned to find him in human form standing before them.

"That was a stupid move," Aren said. "But honorable."

"Thanks," Raice said awkwardly. Aren nodded and then started walking away. All around the house the sounds were dying down .The fight was over and Anthony was dead. Lucy couldn't be happier.

"I'm tired." She tucked her head under Raice's chin.

"Are you ok? You're not hurt are you? How's the baby?" Raice asked, all of a sudden getting worried. Lucy almost laughed.

"What did you say?" Aren asked, startling them both. They had thought he was gone.

"What do you mean?" Lucy asked.

"What baby?" Aren asked, his eye wide.

"Lucy's pregnant," Raice stated softly.

"Are you serious?" Aren asked, his voice shaking.

"Yes," Lucy answered. Then she gasped as the most unexpected thing happened. Aren dropped to his knees before her and started crying. He buried his face in his hands and sobbed. Lucy felt her heart break. She dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms around her father. She felt tears rolling down her cheeks.

"I'm going to be a grandpa," Aren muttered. Lucy laughed.

"Yes, you are."

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