Once, long, long ago, there lived a girl who always wore a red cloak and lived on the edge of a great enchanted forest and often visited her granny who lived on the other side of the wood, the wood in which a great big and bad wolf resided.......But this...this is not her story.
This is the story of Redalia Hood, a seemingly normal woman hiding a dark secret...this, is my story!
Present Day Sanctuary, West Virginia
Welcome to Sanctuary, located in good old West By-God Virginia! Hey, don’t let any local hear you call her that though, only Mountaineers can call our home state by it’s....“Proper Name” as it’s referred to around here.
My names Redalia Hood and I own and operate The Dark Horse or TDH for short. What is The Dark Horse you ask? Well, if I tell ya I’d have to kill ya..... notice I didn’t laugh, hence that was not a joke.....Oh I’m just having some fun with ya.
TDH is my dive bar. Coincidentally, it doubles as a sort of headquarters for the group of assassins known as The Elite. For centuries we have been trained since birth to protect the human race from what lies in the Black Forest. The Black Forest is what surrounds the town of Sanctuary. We’re shielded on all sides by thick, dark, menacing woods and what lives inside the woods?
Well, at last count about 100 different kinds of evil. The worst is the Wolf King. Yeah, I know, I know “Wolf King” sound’s nuts! Hey, I get it, I really do, I mean, come on, it’s not the dark ages and nobody believes in magic or goblins or even the boogeymen (yes boogeymen as in the plural....as in there are more than one).
Well, I’m here to tell ya if you don’t believe...you should. The Wolf King is the worst of all evil beings. The legend say’s that once he was nothing more than a two-bit magician named Doran, who barely made enough coin to survive due to his lack of skill in the area of magic. (Ironic huh?)
After year’s of being on the bottom of the food chain the sniveling worm came up with a plan to gain more magical power than he could ever dream of possessing. Inside the wood, there lived a race of wolves who were of massive size. (We’re talkin HUGE!)
Their king was Orin the Wise, which he very much was but he was also known to have a soft spot for children and those in need. (No not in the creepy way either, he was a great guy.....get your mind outta the gutter.)
Using this knowledge to his advantage Doran lured King Orin from the protection of the woods, claiming a child was seen at the edge of the forest and was now lost.
The king immediately offered his services to aid in the hunt for the child, but as soon as he crossed the boarder he was stricken down in cold blood by the traitorous coward. He then used Draiochta Marbh or “Dead Magic” to extract the Wolf Essence from the dying king’s body, giving him the power of the moon. He could now change into a massive, nearly impossible to kill wolf whenever he wanted. Consumed by power he took the dead king’s Wolven army and wreaked havoc upon our land’s.
With each year that passed Doran the human magician faded away and was replaced by Doran the Wolven, fueled by hate, anger, and the need for more power. The lands began to wither and the people began to slowly die off, it wasn’t until the champion came that hope once again returned to Sanctuary. Leading a small rebellion the champion set us free from the Wolf King’s tyranny.
Though he was not killed, he was driven back into the woods and sealed within its boarder’s using light magic from what few good sorcerers were left living. Once the spell was set the champion locked it in place so it would never be broken. In order to accomplish such a feat he had to forfeit his own life, by using his life force as a staple to hold the spell to this earthly plane forever.
Seeing his sacrifice the Moon Goddess Cerridwen (Ker-a-dwen) sent forth her Great White Stag and Wolf to usher the champion’s weary soul to her celestial forest where he would stay for all eternity and watch over her animals in peace. That champion’s name was Caderyn Hood, my ancestor. After his burial the town came together and forged a council of sorts. This was no ordinary council though, oh no, no, no this was a special council.
These people decided the town needed watchers and protectors so using magic and blood from the fallen Wolven Army they created a serum. They then infused some of their own people with it, once they saw how well it worked and that there were no side effects they made their decision to release the serum into the drinking water. So only the certain few who already carry magic in their blood would be affected and they would become one of THE ELITE. THE ELITE is a group of highly trained and skilled assassins. Wanna know how to join our little club? Well, ya can’t, sorry, you have to be born in Sanctuary, oh and your bloodline has to be tested at birth. (See above paragraph for info on on how you get special blood.)
Yes, you heard right tested.(No not like a pencil and paper, SAT tested), I mean they hold up a 1000-year-old Moonstone in front of you and if it glow’s this really beautiful iridescent blue then your in! Yay me, so once your “Chosen” you live with your parents like everything’s normal and your a regular kid until you’re about 5, that’s when you begin your training.
By the time you’re a teen your thoroughly skilled in hand to hand combat, karate, Brazilian Jujitsu and the art of stealth. By the time you’re in your early twenty’s you should be a master in all previously stated skill set’s along with Taekwondo, Aikido, Judo, Muy Thai, Ninjutsu, and finally the ever popular Krav Maga. Now if you didn’t already know about 90% of these styles of fighting end in your opponent’s death.
Yes, I’m dead serious (no pun intended) So anyhoo growing up as an assassin isn’t all that bad really. I mean sure we hunt and kill, but it’s for the greater good! We don’t run off all half cocked and go on a major killing spree unlike some people. (* Cough, C.D Flannery, Cough *) We simply go about our everyday lives until we’re summoned.
When I say summoned I mean we feel the pull to our base compound which happens to be located in the heart of the city (convenient huh?). So when we feel the pull we sort of go into autopilot and head straight “home” there we receive our order’s. We have survived for hundred’s of years by adhering to a strict code.
ELITE CODE OF CONDUCT
1.)NEVER HARM AN INNOCENT
2.)MOVE SWIFTLY AND SILENTLY
3.CLOSE ALL CONTRACTS
4.)NEVER GET CAUGHT
THIS IS THE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR THE
ELITE, AS SET DOWN TO US FROM OUR
ANCESTORS. THOSE FOUND BREAKING THE
CODE SHALL BE SEVERELY PUNISHED TO
THE FULL EXTENT OF THE “DEARG MAC
TIRE BANRION” (The Red Wolf Queen). SHOULD
THERE BE NO DEARG MAC TIRE BANRION
AT THE TIME OF THE BREACH OF CODE THE
HIGH IONADAI (Representative) SHALL
RESERVE THE RIGHT TO PASS JUDGEMENT.
SO SAYETH THE ELITE COUNCIL. SO IT SHALL
Anyway so there ya go, now you know all about me and my weird yet intriguing “job”. So here’s the skinny on my unsettling and strange night so far. I had just closed up the bar and was headed to my 73′ Charger (jealous much? I prefer my truck, if I’m being honest.) when I heard a weird sound coming from behind the dumpster.
So, of course, my assassin instincts kick in immediately and I assume the crouched position and arm myself with my silver blade from its holster on my thigh. Funny thing, those thigh holster’s, I was actually on the fence about them for a while. I didn’t wanna look too Laura Croft, but they actually turned out to be a great buy!
Pretty proud of myself, I seriously got a great deal! Dang It!! There I go getting sidetracked again, Anyway so back to the action. I’m inching closer to the dumpster and I hear it again, this sort of low, deep growl like noise.
I’m thinking it’s probably a Shifter from the Badlands (old decrepit part of town)or something. Either way though it’s best to be prepared for anything. The closer I get to the dumpster the more I start catching whiffs of something on the wind.
I know this smell, deep earthiness with a slight metallic undertone, then it hit me. This is blood, and not just any blood, Shifter blood. I could practically taste the “wild” in the air. I was directly in front of the dumpster by this point, it’s now or never.
I grasped the side of the nasty (understatement of the year), slimy thing and tossed it aside, given my heightened strength it was practically like tossing a paperclip. (Oh did I mention I’m the reincarnated Dearg Mac Tire Banrion or in English, The Red Wolf Queen? Yea it has it’s perk’s, which we’ll talk about later.).
Once the dumpster was outta the way I jumped back, ready to defend or attack if need be. To bad for me the Shifter I had tracked happened to be a freaking BEAR.
“Seriously?! Oh, come on!! First, the bar has a bad night, then my tip jar gets robbed.....AGAIN, then I lose my phone....my NEW phone!!! Now I stumble on a freakin’ BEAR SHIFTER!?!?!”
(Aaaaaaand now you’re up to speed on what’s happened so far tonight. Back to live action folk’s!)
Ok so huge bear in front of me what do I do? I go to my inner monologue, obviously, he’s a Shifter, he’s wounded, probably scared. Think, think, think, think, think Redalia!
Unfortunately, there is no time to think, he’s attacking!
“Get in the game girlfriend!” I snap back to reality!
Just as I regain my composure the bear threw himself at me full force, thankfully I’m pretty darn fast, unfortunately not fast enough to get outta his way. I felt the full weight of that massive creature land on my rib’s like a summer hog flop’s down into the mud.
He was pretty quick to be so gargantuan. He was up and attacking me again in the blink of an eye, but I was quicker. I sidestepped his thrashing claw’s and managed to pull my blade and slice through his outstretched arm.
He wailed in pain and for a moment I almost felt sorry for him but the feeling quickly vanished when he came at me again. Jaw’s wide, teeth gnashing, he tried fervently to sink those chompers into my flesh.
I whipped around and landed on his back. Holding my dagger between my teeth I grasped two handfuls of his fur and pulled with all my might. He reared up until he was standing on his hind leg’s. Suddenly he threw himself into a tucked position, trying to roll on-top of me.
I lurched and landed a few feet away. Having knocked his stupid self senseless, I took full advantage of the moment and bolted for my car. Reaching for the sniper rifle I kept under the backseat I whipped it around only to find the spot the bear had been now empty.
Now, I’m no idiot, I know creatures, even magical ones, don’t just up and disappear without leaving a single trace. I carefully began inspecting the parking lot while loading a tranquilizer dart into the rifle. Checking for any signs of life or traces of blood when all of a sudden, !!BAM!!, talk about missing by the skin of your teeth!
The bear went flying in front of me so fast it’s fur tickled my nose and knocked the rifle across the parking lot and back towards the door of my bar. Now at this point, I’m starting to think something weird is going on. (Ya THINK?!?!)
Hmmm, Ok, so now there’s a low growl coming from behind me, I can feel a presence but...it’s not dangerous. Even though I hear the growl I feel like, I’m safe. Like I’m not the one in any actual danger, which is strange enough as it is, but it’s made even stranger by the fact that this feeling is followed by another one, calm.
I feel...calm, and sort of like, I’m at peace. My arms relax along with my shoulder’s and soon my whole body feel’s like a warm sunny meadow. Calm and wonderful. Then something soft and muscular brushes by my hand. I like the way it tickles my thigh as it goes past me. Electricity flows through me, into it and back into me from it, if that makes any kinda weird sense.
I wanted to keep feeling this magnificent calm and when I suddenly woke from this crazy trance I immediately wanted it back. I blinked a few times then shook my head for good measure, what I saw before me shook me to my core! A Wolven was standing directly between me and the Shifter. Wolven were the guardians of the Black Forest at one point in our history.
They were the original Wolf King’s most loyal sentries. It was said that when the old king was killed not one of his sentries would bow to Doran, so he cast a particularly evil spell on them all and made them his slaves. It is also said Doran, being the sniveling worm he is, decided the men would never find peace and so they were cursed with everlasting life. Doomed to watch everyone they loved die, but never be able to join them in death.
Because of this people believed the Wolven slowly lost hope and one by one gave into Doran’s evil way’s and thus became his Dark Reapers. I’d never actually believed they were real, mostly because I’d never seen one. I mean seriously nobody has seen a Dark Reaper since the border was sealed.
Now here stand’s one right in front of my very eyes! Speaking of thing’s right in front of me, he had his back towards me like he was protecting me. But Dark Reapers are cold, heartless creatures that will kill anything with a pulse. They are said to be massive sized wolves with coal black jagged fur that feel’s like ice spikes and blazing red eyes with thick nasty red saliva spewing from their broken, sharp fangs.
What stood before me though was the exact opposite (except for the massive size thing, I mean this thing is HUGE!)
his fur is brown and tan and beautiful, not to mention he’s as soft as goose down! No more time to ponder this craziness though because at that moment the Bear Shifter mad a move for my throat...AGAIN. I’m getting reeeeeal tired of this guy! I summoned my strength and at the very last (and I do mean VERY LAST) second I jumped into the air, somersaulted and landed on his back.
I threw my legs around him, whipped out my dagger and held it to his throat.
“I know you can understand me! Now nod yes if you’re coherent in there!”
Nothing, just growls and snarls. Ok, let’s try this one more time. I twisted the blade and applied pressure until the edge was soaked in blood.
“Need I repeat myself?”
“Grrr...aaarrrggg...get off me, woman!”
“About time! I’m not budging an inch until you explain why you’re trying to kill me!”
“I’ll tell you nothing!”
“Well, its look’s like I’m the one with the upper hand here my friend. I suggest you change that tone.”
“You’d have nothing if it weren’t for that damned wolf! In fact, you’d be in pieces on the pavement if he hadn’t ripped my arm to shred’s!”
I chanced a swift glance at the wolf. He stood very calmly in a fighting stance, ready to pounce when need be. He watched me and the bear closely, as if making sure I was Ok. I quickly shook off that strange feeling creeping into my stomach and up my spine and focused on the bear.
“I’ll ask only once more, why are you so determined to kill me? I was only trying to see where the blood was coming from. You could have ran off and I would never have given chase. Why did you choose to pursue me, Bear?!”
He was very quiet for a long moment, so quiet that I’d have thought him dead if I wasn’t sitting on his erect back. He laughed suddenly. It was a deep maniacal laugh. It started slow and low then grew louder, his whole body shook. The wolf stiffened.
“I am a lowly Bear Shifter who was shot by a hunter. See here on my back leg, that is the open wound from the bullet. I thought you were the hunter coming to finish me off. I admit I was a bit rash but I’m calmer now and if you would allow me to shift back into human form I’ll explain everything.”
Something inside me told me he was lying, it told me there was no hunter, no wound, just claws and teeth ready to kill me at the first chance they got. Still, though I felt like I had to give him the benefit of the doubt. THAT...that right there. That whole, benefit of the doubt crap, that’s what made me different from all my assassin brothers in the ELITE. They killed without mercy, without hesitation.
It didn’t matter to them whether the target was set up or innocent. It says plainly in the ELITE Code of Conduct no innocent blood shall ever be spilled. Yet I feel like over the year’s plenty of it has been. I slid off his back and took a few step’s away from the bear.
“Oh thank you Miss Hood. Thank you! Now come here I’ll show you the wound to prove to you I’m not here to murder you.”
I started to take a step forward but before my foot ever left the ground a deep, masculine voice filled my ear’s.
“Did you tell him your name?”
I looked around but there was nobody to be seen. (getting creep-ed out again!) Suddenly it hit me, the word’s I heard...they were right.
I didn’t tell him my name. I looked up at the bear and slowly took a step back as I slid my hand down the length of my left thigh to grab the dagger secured there.(Two daggers are better than one I always say) The bear looked at me and turned his head slightly.
“Where are you going? You asked for proof and all I’m doing is trying to show you.”
Dagger’s in hand I braced my right foot a bit behind me so I could push off of it.
“I never told you my name...”
You could see the moment it registered in his tiny brain, what he had done. His smile now turned to a twisted snarl. His eyes began to glow brown than red as his teeth elongated. He stood up on his hind leg’s and roared into the night.
“For Doran, Wolf King I will kill the Dearg Mac Tire Banrion and take my rightful place upon his council!”
He roared again, an ear-splitting hideous noise. I bent my right knee and readied myself for impact, but it never came. The wolf suddenly came outta nowhere and latched onto the bear’s throat. He clung to the ragged, thrashing creature until he collapsed to the ground in a massive bloodied heap. I watched as the wolf pulled himself from beneath the bear and with one swift toss of his head he ripped the bear’s throat out.
Blood covered the parking lot, I stepped towards the wolf then hesitated. Was he actually a Dark Reaper sent by Doran to kill me as well? If so why did he protect me earlier? Why do I feel so strange around him as well? These were just a few question’s I had for the wolf but they would have to wait.
He turned his huge head towards me and locked his beautiful green eye’s with my own violet one’s, then he fell to the blacktop. I made it to him just in time to catch his head before he busted it. He really was massive! Bigger than my charger that’s for sure. He was still breathing but just barely.
Upon closer inspection, his beautifully muscular body was riddled with scars. I absentmindedly ran my hand down the length of his huge neck and in return I was graced with a low purr like sound. (I’m pretty sure Dark Reapers don’t “Purr”) In that moment I think I knew he was no Dark Reaper.
“But, now how am I going to get you help? I can’t put you in the charger, your way to big. Think Red, Think!”
Suddenly, he shifted beneath my hand’s as a shimmering blue light covered his huge form, when it faded a naked, very attractive, man lay with his head on my lap.......
“Ooooook, I think I can work with this!”
I slowly and very carefully placed his arm around my neck and lifted him up. (Super strength remember)
We made it back to my charger, I slung open the passenger door and after one or two tries I finally got all of him inside. Before shutting the door I happened to glance down and wouldn’t you know it there sat my stupid phone!
Wedged between the door and the seat! It must have gotten stuck there when I was late to work the other night. I tend to just sorta throw it in the passenger seat when I’m in a hurry.
I snatched it up and shut the door as I powered the phone on, I made my way to my door and pressed my speed dial button for Jaxon Sauder. The engine purred to life as Jaxon answered with a happy,
“Hey Red what can I do ya for?”
I threw the charger in gear and laid on the gas, leaving black tire mark’s as I sped down the road towards my home.
“Jaxon, hey sorry about the late call but I need help.”
His voice took on a grave tone then.
“What’s happened Red?”
I could hear voices in the background go quiet. Jaxon was a top dog in our secret society. He was also my best friend since childhood. He was dubbed my protector after the attack that nearly killed me and did kill my parent’s and since then he has never stopped watching out for me. If anyone could get the mess at The Dark Horse cleaned up it was him.
“A Bear Shifter attacked me tonight...”
“Are you hurt? How bad is it? Where are you now?”
“I’m Ok, just a little banged up, On my way to the manor, There’s a huge mess in front of the bar, please Jaxon I need a clean up crew immediately, people are going to start driving by to head to work soon. Someone might see something they aren’t supposed too.”
“Hold on a sec.”
I held my breath as he told the others what had happened.
“Red we’ll clean up the bar don’t worry, then we’ll be right over Ok. You just get to the manor. Once you’re inside the gate you’ll be protected. I’ll be there soon.”
“Ok...uh Jax, there’s something else you should know.”
“There was something else there tonight. Besides the bear.”
“What do you mean something else?”
“A wolf was there. A massive wolf, and I think...I think he spoke to me...in my head. I’m not crazy I swear.”
He was quiet for a long time, I checked to see if I had dropped the call, but I had full service. Finally, he spoke again. A steel like tone sharpened his voice.
“Redalia get home and wait for me there. Lock the door’s let no one inside until I get there. I’ll bring Doc to check your wound’s. Stay inside you hear me?!”
“Yea I got it. I’ll see you soon.”
I hung up, now I was definitely curious and a little weirded out. What a night! Geez, and it had barely gotten started. I pulled onto my long driveway a mere 10 minute’s later. Living so close to the bar had it’s perk’s I thought as I rolled down the gravels. As I neared the gate it began to open.
I roared through and once inside, it closed itself immediately. (Magic can be super helpful sometimes) I slammed the charger in park and rushed to the other side. Wolfy was looking a bit pale and very, very bloody. (My new leather upholstery!! No time to mourn, life to save here.)
Throwing his arm over my neck again I hoisted him up and out of the car. My footsteps were light and swift as I rushed through the front door. Making my way into the dining room I laid him out on the large dark cherry table and began to assess the damage.
His shoulder was torn, left ripped to pieces, fractured or broken ribs on the same side, and his arm was shredded. I ran to the pantry and gathered as many towels as I could hold. Then off I went to the bathroom for hot water after I retrieved a large bowl from under the kitchen sink. Alcohol and peroxide were next along with bandages, tape, and a couple Ace wraps. I could kick myself for not keeping up and re-ordering on my supply of antibiotic’s and antiseptics. Oh well, nothing to be done now. I heated the already hot water up to a boil on the stove then took it to the table. Wolfy lay very still and appeared to be barely alive.
I took his temp, 104.7 that’s not good. I ran to the freezer for a cold pack. On my way back a thought struck me, Why in the hell am I trying to save a Dark Reaper? In the same breath I answered aloud.
“Because he’s not a Dark Reaper, you idiot he saved your life. Dark Reaper’s don’t save, they kill. Still....something feel’s....weird.”
I shook it off. I mean if it hadn’t been for him I might be dead right now. That bear had immense strength, even for a shifter. He should have gone down after I stabbed him then dug my blade into his throat. Dark magic was the only explanation as to how he was able to continue on with such ferocity.
I placed the cold pack on Wolfy’s head in an attempt to cool his fever. I found myself tracing lines on his face and chest with my finger tip.
“So many scar’s, so much pain inflicted. Could you really be a Wolven? Why are you here? I thought....well....I thought all Wolven had become Dark Reapers, so why did you save me? Oh great, now I’m talking to a naked, unconscious man on my dining room table....wait.....OH CRAP! You’re still naked! Hold on I think I have some of Jaxon’s old stuff here in the hallway closet...Why am I still talking to you!?”
I dashed to the closet and found Jaxon’s old clothes. He, being my guardian, had of course stayed over on many nights and in fact had even lived with me up until a few year’s ago when I made him move out so he could have a normal life. He didn’t want to but after a while he agreed to move, right down the road of all places.
Although I can’t complain, since moving out he actually found a girlfriend. A nice one too, I knew her from my childhood! I’m so happy he’s happy! I pulled myself from my thought’s of my bestie and quickly made my way back into the dining room where I saw a very livid looking Jaxon surrounded by about 5 other members of the ELITE starring down at my Wolf, MY wolf...where’d that come from? Oh well, no time to ponder.
“Hey!” I said as I walked to the other side of Wolf-Man.
“Redalia, living room. NOW!”
The thunder in his voice matched that of the thunder that had just began outside. I knew it was gonna rain. What a craptastic night! I laid the pant’s I’d picked out down beside Wolf-Man. I couldn’t help myself and brushed his hand as I walked past his body. Something just kept pulling me towards him, when I walked away it was like a piece of me was missing.
I followed Jaxon into the living room, fully prepared to get a thorough tongue lashing.
“Redalia what the hell were you thinking?!”
I opened my mouth but was cut off.
“You could have been killed tonight, and what do you do? You bring the damned threat home with you! He’s a Dark Reaper Redalia! His soul purpose in life is to serve Doran and kill the Dearg Mac Tire Banrion!”
“Jaxon if you’ll just let me explain!”
“What could you possibly say Redalia? Please do enlighten me!”
He was practically fuming, but sadly for him I have a temper to match that of a pissed off bull!
“Jaxon Taylor Sauder!”
His head snapped up to look me square in the eye.
Well that seems to have gotten his attention!
“I am Redalia Ashling Hood, I am the Dearg Mac Tire Banrion and you will NOT speak to me as if I were some child in need of reprimanding! You have been my life-long guardian and friend and I love you Jax, but please calm down and listen.”
As my voice grew softer so did his burning gaze. Finally, he rubbed his eye’s and pinched the bridge of his nose then looked down at me and smiled.
“Red you sure are a firecracker and a half! The Goddess definitely chose the right woman to be our Dearg Mac Tire Banrion. Am I right boys?
Laugh’s and murmured agreements went all around the room as Jaxon and I took a seat on my large and very comfy (if I do say so myself) sectional. Just then Doc came through the hallway.
“Sorry I’m late everyone. Jaxon, how are you this evening?”
“I’ve been better Doc.” he exclaimed, not even trying to hide his disdain.
“Red my girl how are you? Feeling alright? Jaxon said I was to hurry right over, but you look fine. Well except the cut’s and gashes, my god were you in a fight?”
“Never mind me, there’s a man on my dining room table in need of your help.”
“Right! I’ll get to it, then, young lady I want to take a look at those cut’s.”
He winked as he took off to the dining room. I then turned back to Jaxon and the men and offered everyone a seat. Once they were seated I began the retelling of the night’s previous events. When I finally ended my tale a strange feeling of sickness washed over me. My stomach began to turn a bit. I figured it was because I hadn’t eaten so I brushed it off.
Jaxon began to lecture me on the consequences of my action’s in bringing the wolf home with me but I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. My hearing started going in and out along with my vision. I snapped to my feet when the same male voice as before rang in my head again.
“Redalia your hurt. Come to me I can heal you.”
I wavered on my feet and felt faint suddenly. Jaxon jumped up immediately but I steadied myself and brushed his hand off.
“Redalia you’ve been poisoned. Quickly come to me I can heal you, you’ll die if I don’t.”
“Who....How do you know...?”
My knees gave way, the floor came up to greet me and all went black.
“Redalia, Redalia do not give in. Come back! Come back to me! I’ve searched the very fabric of time for you, I won’t lose you now! Come back to me Mo Chroi (uh-KHREE)”
I suddenly sat bolt upright. I was surrounded by my brethren from THE ELITE, each looking at me then looking away quickly. It was only after a very chilly draft did I realize my shirt had been torn to the point that I was showing a bit more of my chest then I wanted too. I quickly covered myself with the tattered fabric and immediately regretted the movement.
Jaxon rushed to my side, taking my face in his palm’s he kissed my forehead.
“Oh thank the Goddess you’re alive! Red....I thought we’d lost you!”
Tears threatened to fall from his beautiful amber eyes. Jaxon was a very handsome man. Standing at 6 feet 2 inches, year round tan skin, well defined muscles, thick wavy blonde hair, square jaw with a hint of stubble, and hand’s that were made for holding a woman. Yep, my bestie was drop dead sexy! Alexandria was a lucky lady indeed!
I laid my hand on his cheek and closed my eyes as I pressed my forehead against his.
“Red, do you remember what happened?”
“I remember cold, cold and dark, and a voice...the male voice I’d been hearing all night. He brought me back.”
“What are you talking about sweetheart? What voice?”
“It was a man, a man brought me back. I think it was the wolf. OH MY GODDESS!! The wolf! Jax where is he?!”
“Shhhh calm down darlin’ he’s still alive. When you fainted no one could wake you, you turned blue and cold. Suddenly, he was beside you. Naturally, I didn’t exactly approve but before I could say or do anything he took you from me and held you to his chest. Then he glowed, like legit, he glowed! It was some kinda bright blue light and then you glowed. Then your color came back and he fell backwards a bit and went back out of it.
I had Doc look him over again and then the boys took him upstairs. Which is exactly where you’re going.”
“But, when he spoke to me in my head he said I was...”
“No Red, no one is speaking to you in your head. You’ve had a long day and you need rest. Now come on I’m taking you to bed.”
Before I could protest he scooped me up and off we went. He stopped at the foot of the staircase and turned to one of the other men. His second in command would be my guess.
“I’m stayin with Red tonight. Take shifts on the outer perimeter, close in throughout the night. She must be protected!”
They all chimed in unison, then bowed. Didn’t they care that it was pouring the rain outside? They’ll all be sick! I have to put a stop to this.
“Jax I’m Ok., I can go to bed by myself.”
“I’m not risking you getting light headed again and falling down the stairs. Now hush I’ll carry you.”
After trying and then failing to wiggle free from his iron grip I finally sighed and gave in to his foolishness.
I said, with all the exasperation I could muster.
“Hey, remember when you were young and I was a teen and you used to fake being asleep so I would have to carry you up the stairs to bed?” he said playfully.
I couldn’t help but smile at the memory.
“Yea, (I giggled) I loved it, I always felt safe with you Jax.”
“You are safe with me Red. Forever.”
“You need a normal life, you and I aren’t the same. You can have a love and a family. I want you to have these thing’s.”
We were at my door before he spoke again.
“Red I took an oath to protect you. I’m your guardian and your friend. All I NEED is you and for you to be healthy and happy.”
He pulled back my thick jersey knit blanket (I love this thing!) and placed me under it.
“I want you to have a normal life, Jax. You should want that too. This life of servitude is bullshit. You shouldn’t have to be tied to me for the rest of your life!”
“Hush now Red I’ll not hear another word. Your tired and you’ve had a terrible night. Do you want me to lay down with you?”
I opened my mouth to answer but stopped short.
“Send him away Mo Chori.”
It was the voice again. He doesn’t want Jax here. Hmm, maybe this is my chance to get to talk to him.
“No, I’ll be Ok, I’ll holler if I need you though. Will you be here? You know you can go home. I can call if I need you.”
“I’ll be here, downstairs in fact.”
“Send him home Mo Chori. We need to talk.”
“Jaxon, go home.”
“NO!, Jax you need sleep too. Alexandria will hate me! Go home!”
I gave him my best smile. Fighting the sickness in me I bit back the urge to faint again until he shook his head and kissed mine then left quietly. Once I heard his truck start up and roll out of the driveway I breathed a sigh of relief. Though it wasn’t an easy breath. Suddenly it became very hard to breathe.
I began to panic then quickly composed myself and slowed my breathing, then I placed one leg off the edge of the bed and laid my foot flat on the ground to reset my balance and stop the room from spinning. ( This trick also works when you’re drunk * wink*)
A gentle hand slowly caressed my face, Oddly I wasn’t shocked or scared. In fact, I was very, very calm. The hand made it’s way to my left shoulder and very carefully rolled me onto my right side, pulling my leg back up onto the bed as he did so.
“Mo Stor (uh-stohr) you have been poisoned. The bear left a tainted claw embedded in your back beneath the shoulder blade. I can take it out but the pain...will be terrible.”
Keeping my eye’s closed I steeled my nerves. Where the hell was Doc when you needed him.
“Get it out.”
He caressed my arm again. His touch was so feather light and yet it held so much feeling in it. I became over whelmed with the calming sensation. A moment of sanity returned only long enough for me to form a rational question before it wafted away again.
“Why do I feel this way?”
“The calming effect you’re experiencing is the bond we share. When we are together we balance each other. Creating a zen-like calm. I’m going to remove the claw now Mo Stor , brace yourself.”
I squeezed my eye’s shut as I felt him re-open the still fresh wound. White hot dagger’s pierced my shoulder as he pushed his hand through the now gaping wound. Tears threatened to fall, I almost lost consciousness once or twice as well but still I hung on to the light.
To the sound of his voice. I could feel his emotions as if they were my own. It was killing him, putting me through this torture. (I’d gladly trade him places at this point!) When I felt as if I could take no more he pulled his hand free.
“Got it Mo Chori, lie still I’ll seal the wound. Our bond can do many great things.”
I was feeling better already. The sickness had left and was replaced with joy and just a hint of that searing, morbid pain. But that damned darkness was rearing its ugly head again and this time, I gave in willingly.