A War of the Heart

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Chapter 9

Chapter Nine

Raice took a moment to think and shook his head. "I'm sorry, make that when I was fifteen. What happened before that doesn't matter."

"Anyway, go ahead," Riven encouraged.

Raice drew a deep breath and started again.

"I was fifteen and still hadn't made the transition into a shifter. My parents were worried sick, my mother more so than my father. I didn't find out exactly why until later. Anyway, it was about four months after I turned fifteen that I started feeling strange. I followed my dad out to the car to go to the grocery store and it hit me all at once. I dropped to the ground, the air rippling as my body tried to force the change over me. My father hollered for my mother and she came running.

"We lived out in the middle of nowhere, so we didn't have to worry about nosey neighbors. It was pretty much all pastures and farms. The only people we had to worry about would be the hired help. Luckily it was a Sunday morning and they were all at home with their families.

"I knew what was happening, but I couldn't seem to stop the pain from wracking my body. I tried to will the change to happen like I had been taught. After ten minutes of struggling to change, my parents started getting nervous. No transition had ever taken this long on either side of their family. They were both alphas and my chance should have been a simple one.

"Finally, after another five minutes, my body gave itself over to the change and I found myself in my animal form. My mother's eyes were opened wide in fear and my father was furious. I had no idea what was going on. My head was still a little fuzzy, and I was still trying to adjust to being on four legs.

"'What the hell is this?' my father had screamed. He turned on my mother, shifting as he went at her. My mother tried to shift, but she couldn't seem to focus. She was too intent on keeping my father at bay. I didn't take to kindly to that, and my animal half didn't either. At this point in time I had no idea that I was a panther. My panther had yet to speak to me and I didn't know what I looked like.

"I jumped on my father and ripped him off of my mother. She came away with a broken arm where my father had crushed the bone in his jaws, and a lot of scratches. I shifted back to try and find out what was going on when a car pulled up. My dad's beta jumped out of the car and came running up the driveway.

"He took in the scene, but kept his mouth shut about what he saw. 'Alpha, we are under attack. We need everyone. The northern side of our territory is in flames and the Watts family is dead. You must come quickly.' My father shifted back and his eyes shifted warningly back and forth between my mother and I. We both nodded and I stepped a little in front of my mother. His eyes narrowed and then he turned his full attention on the beta. 'Tell me everything on the way,' he had commanded.

"After my father left, my mother turned and entered the house. I stood there staring after the car, wondering why my father hadn't taken me. I was now a shifter, and could help defend my pack. I shook my head and followed my mother. She was sitting at the bar, cradling her arm against her chest and staring out the sliding glass door.

"I walked over and put my hand on her shoulder. 'What's wrong Mom?' I asked her. She sighed and didn't respond. I didn't understand what had happened. 'Is there something wrong with me? Was my wolf cripple or discolored?' I asked, genuinely concerned. If that were the case, then that would explain my father's anger. I would be an embarrassment to my pack and to my father.

"She turned with a gasp and quickly grabbed me by my face and pulled me close. 'You are perfect just the way you are. You look just like your father.' She exclaimed, her voice ringing the truth. I closed my eyes and let my mother hold me there for a few minutes.

"I finally broke away when my stomach started growling, demanding attention. Later that night, when my father came back home after dealing with the problem, I could hear him screaming at my mom from my bedroom in the back of the house. I jumped out of bed when I heard him hit her the first time. Running down the hall, I heard a thump and then another as I approached the bright light of the kitchen.

"When I came into the room I stopped and stared. My mother had blood running down her face from a cut in her head and she was holding her stomach. She was begging my father to listen to her, but he wouldn't and continued to beat on her.

"I stepped further into the room and they both turned to face me. My father's face was one of fury while my mother's face was filled with fear. Her eyes were begging me to help her. 'What is going on here?' I asked my father, my fists clenching at my sides. He growled and said, 'Nothing that concerns you.' Then he began to hit my mother again. I gave a growl and launched myself at him. My animal half took over and I shifted in mid leap. I landed on my father and we rolled across the floor and slammed into one of the cabinets.

"The glass from the cabinet fell on top of us and it was then I caught sight of my reflection. Instead of a wolf's head peeking back at me, I saw a panther the color of a moonless night. I stopped moving and stared at my reflection. My father pushed me off him and climbed to his feet. 'Now do you see why I'm pissed? My mate cheated on me with a fucking pussy.' My father moved toward my mother again, but he never laid a hand on her. I grabbed him, having shifted back and threw him away from her.

"I took a deep breath and then looked my mother in the eye. 'I want you to tell me what happened. Did you cheat on dad? If so, then who's my father?' my emotions were going haywire. I could hear my panther pacing back and forth in my head.

"My mom looked me in the eye and said, 'Yes, I did. Your father is Anthony Hicks, the alpha of a pack of panther shifters in Las Vegas.' I stared at her and didn't know what to do.

"I started pacing, keeping an eye on my father who was glaring at my mother. 'How could you do this to me? To our family? How could you cheat on me with some pussy cat and then have the decency to lie? You are no longer my mate. You will be banned from this pack. I will not stay mated to a cat lover.'

"From there it went all downhill. My father banished my mother from the pack and sent her packing. I went with her, not willing to let her go off on her own. My father didn't really want me anymore anyway. We decided to try and find my birth father. It wasn't a good idea to be without a pack, and at that time we were packless and prey to rogues. I was still too young to take on any older shifters and my mother could only teach me so much.

"We found my birth father after a month of searching and it wasn't the greatest reunion. My mother had been walking across the street to get us some dinner at the diner across from our hotel room when one of the men in my father's packs picked up her scent. They recognized her as a wolf and therefore assumed she was an enemy. As soon as she hit the sidewalk in front of the diner one of them men grabbed her and pulled her into an alley. I raced across the street, having seen the whole incident from our open door. I had wanted to make sure she made it safely to the diner and had kept the door open to watch her.

"The man had my mother by the throat dangling in the air when I made it to the alley way. I felt my rage flow through my veins and before I could stop it, I had shifted into my panther form. I attacked the man until he released my mom. He turned to face me just as I swatted him with my paw. My claws caught his face and dug into his skin. His blood squirted as he went flying into the wall."

Raice stopped talking. He remembered the smell of blood and his adrenaline pumped through from the memory of the fight. He could picture the exact moment his father stepped into the alley way and the way that the scene had ended. The thoughts flashed in front of his mind and he found himself thrown back into the memory.

"What the hell is going on here?" a deep baritone voice shouted furiously. The sound of running feet echoed down the alley and soon several more men showed up. Raice backed up until his body was placed protectively in front of his mother's. "Why are you attacking this boy and woman?"

Raice jerked his head toward the man speaking and almost stopped breathing. The man looked like and older version of himself. He had the same color hair and the same dark eyes. This had to be his father. How they had found him, he wasn't sure, but he wasn't all that happy to see him.

Shifting back, Raice accepted a pair of sweats thrown at him from one of the men. He pulled them on and faced the man who was his birth father. "Your pack mate grabbed my mother as she stepped onto the sidewalk and attacked her. I was only protecting my mother. He had no right and I did nothing wrong."

"Calm yourself, son. I will handle this situation." Raice's father turned to face his mother. "You, what is your name?"

"You don't remember me, Anthony?" His mother questioned, stepping around Raice and walking toward his father.

"I remember you now." He stopped his guards with a wave of his hand as they moved forward to stop his mother's approach. She walked right up and cupped his cheek in her hand.

"I have something to tell you. This boy right here is your son. He is a panther shifter like you, as you saw and looks almost like your younger self. My mate banished us from our pack when he found out about the affair. I've come asking to take shelter in your pack and for you to acknowledge your son." Raice's mother turned to face Raice and smiled at him sadly. She acted like she knew something he didn't.

"This is my son?" Anthony stepped toward Raice and scented the air. He studied the boy and then turned to face his mother once more.

"You can stay with my pack for now, but we'll see what happens. This boy is too small for his age and needs to put on some muscle if he's to survive in my pack. You will be under my protection, but sometimes people get out of line. He will need to learn how to fight and kill. My pack is different than when you were here."

"Mom, are you sure you want to do this?" Raice questioned. He did not like the way some of the men were eyeing his mother or him.

"We will be safe," His mother answered, not taking her eyes away from Anthony.

"Let's show you your new home," Anthony responded, smiling menacingly.

Raice shook his head, pushing the memory away. He must have been talking while he was having the flashback because as he continued on, Riven didn't question him.

"After joining my father's pride, our lives became hell on earth. My father was ruthless and killed for the sport. He immediately started training me. I would get up at 5:30 every morning and train till 9:00 at night. My body was starting to get larger and soon I could hold my own with all of the males in the pack. By then I was 18. My panther form was also larger and I could move faster.

"My father was proud of me, but my mother worried. She was afraid I would get caught up in my father's affairs and eventually I did. My father came to me and demanded me to come along on a job. He was a mercenary and was paid to do different tasks. He wanted me to go and I refused. He was so angry that he took it out on my mother. He attacked her and beat her up very badly. I came home and saw what he had done and went after him.

"I wanted to kill my father for what he had done, but I knew I wasn't a match for him. He told me if I joined him on his task it wouldn't happen again. I reluctantly agreed. From there it went downhill. I kept getting pulled into jobs, my father holding my mother's safety over my head. Soon I was so far gone I started enjoying the killings, the pain it caused others. I was as sick and twisted as my father.

"Everything changed the day a rival pride attacked while my father and I were away with several men from our own pride. The rival pride attacked with everything they had and slaughtered anything that moved. My mother was also killed, but not before being raped several times."

Raice closed his eyes and heard footsteps as Riven stood up and started walking toward him. He ran his fingers through his short hair and looked up at Riven.

"If this is too hard on you, we could take a short break," Riven suggested. Raice shook his head and continued his story.

"When we came back and found most of the members of our pride dead, my father went into a state of pure rage. He attacked the rival pride. I threw myself into the fighting, trying to see if my mom was alive. When I stumbled across her body I lost it. I attacked, killed, slaughtered, maimed, anything that caused the others pain. I went half crazed. Even after everyone from the rival pride had fled or were dead, I still attacked my own pride. It took three men and my father to sedate me and even then I got in some good attacks.

"I was about to turn twenty one around that time. I was young and dumb. And I was completely heart-broken. I wanted to die, feeling I had nothing left to live for. My father tried to get me to go on jobs with him, but I just sat around in my mother's house and mourned. He threatened, beat me, but still I was quiet.

"On my twenty first birthday, I left my father's pack. I joined the army and continued to kill. My father vowed he would come after me. According to him, no one left his pack, especially not one of his best killers. He tried to send men after me, but I always sent them back to him with missing limbs, or until they were within moments of dying.

"I had started growing a conscience when I met this girl on one of my missions. She was the tiniest thing, but had a mouth like a sailor. She was fierce in her own way. The men thought they could pick on her because of her size, but she held her own and sent many of them packing. I accidentally bumped into her one day and she swung at me. I easily blocked her arm and kept walking. She hollered after me, but I ignored her. I could feel her eyes on me, but I didn't stop.

"Two weeks later after our first interaction, we were put in the same unit and sent to do a sweep of the area. There were only six of us and we had plenty of weapons. We left at midnight to do our sweep and split up once we hit the edge of our territory. The girl, whose name is Mallory, was stuck with me.

"We were walking through the woods when I heard her step on something and then a click afterwards. I yelled out and she instantly stopped moving. Normally I would've just let the human die, but there was something about her that made me want to save her. Maybe it was because she looked so scared, or maybe because she was a female. I honestly don't know.

"I told her what I was going to do and she looked at me wide eyed. She didn't think I was really going to and resigned herself to her fate. She told me to get far away and she would let the mine loose. I shook my head and stuck my foot next to hers. I slowly started sliding hers off the mine and soon only mine was left on it.

"'I need you to run away and get help. I'll wait here.' I told her. She looked like she wanted to argue, but eventually I sent her on her way. When I couldn't hear her anymore, I stepped off the mine, but launched myself into the trees above me. The mine went off and I heard the female scream somewhere in the distance. She started running back toward my area and I knew I had to think fast. I tore off my shirt and then my pants. I ripped them in places and shredded them in others. I heard rustling next to me in the tree and caught two squirrels. I killed them and placed their blood on my clothes. It was only half believable, but it was dark enough that maybe she would believe I was blown to bits. The mine had been a strong one and I could only hope. I dropped my clothes and it was just in time. The girl came flying back into the small clearing and gasped.

"I climbed from tree to tree, not staying to see if she believed it or not. I was naked so I shifted and my journey went a lot smoother. I came across some enemy camps, but easily passed. I made my way back to the states by different means and eventually ended up just living on the streets. I helped people when I could but mostly I was thief and stole to keep myself alive.

"More men from my dad got close to capturing me one time when I left my guard down, but I kept escaping and disappearing. This last time I disappeared, you found me and took me in. I have left that lifestyle behind me, but I can easily defend this pack and keep it safe. I'm stronger than I look and know how to control my actions. I'm asking that you allow me to stay in this pack."

Riven sat quietly and Raice wasn't sure what he was going to say or do. They sat there in silence until Riven finally spoke.

"You have given me much to think upon. One question though. Is your father still looking for you, and will he not stop until he has you back?"

"He will try to bring me back and won't stop until he's dead," Raice answered honestly.

"I need to think about what you've told me. Give me a couple of days to think this over. In the meantime, send Lucy to me please. I need to talk to her. You are free to stay for now."

Raice climbed to his feet and let out a shaky breath. He was safe for now and would be allowed to stay. He would be close to Lucy. And he could protect her from harm.

He moved toward the door and opened it. He turned around and thanked Riven before slipping out and closing the door behind him. He walked down the hallway, following Lucy's scent to her room.

Opening the door slowly, he could see Lucy curled up into a ball on the bed. He slipped into her room and closed the door behind him. He walked over to her bed and said her name softly. She didn't stir.

"Lucy, Riven wants to see you," he called a little louder, but still she slept on. He sat on the edge of her bed and put his hand on her side. She still didn't stir, but she did say his name. Was she dreaming of him?

She said his name again and it was almost a moan. His cock hardened and he resisted the urge to run his hand higher and brush his fingers across the side of her breast. He pulled his hand back and made to get up. He would let her sleep and let Riven know.

Lucy's hand shot out and grabbed his wrist. He stopped and turned to face her. She was still asleep. He couldn't believe it. She said his name again and her hand fell back to the bed. He sat back down on the bed and tried to rouse her again. He could see her face clearly now and could see dried tears on her cheek. What had upset her?

He glanced at the door and then back at Lucy. Riven could wait. He pulled the covers back on his side and then picked Lucy up to set her under the covers. He then walked around the bed and climbed in. He pulled her against him and rubbed his hand comfortingly through her hair. She sighed and snuggled closer. Her head was tucked perfectly under his chin and he felt a sense of peace enter his body. He slowly relaxed and let all the stress go. He closed his eyes and drifted to sleep with his mate in his arms.

A/N

Hey guys! I'm sooooooooo sorry this took soooo long to get out! My beta was in a car accident and was really busy Keep her in your thoughts and prayers that she will heal quickly! I'm leaving for a week and won't be able to write any, but I will try to get another two chapters up by the end of June! I'm going to have a lot of down time from the 20th on!

SOOO how do you like Raice now? Does this give a little insight into his life? Do you like him better? What ever happened to his pride… or his father… lol Could they reappear? Find out in the coming up chapters! Bahahahahha

Midnight Writer 2012

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