Biting my lips, I controlled the urge to cry. Outside, there was a huge bang and even though I wasn’t a skilled wolf, I could smell the blood. Lots of blood. Men were walking aimlessly. I could hear them shuffling around. There was someone however, I could specifically pick out. A man that brought in such an intense dominance that made my head spin.
Jess finally spoke, unable to mask his horror, “oh god. What have you done?”
“I’ve started a revolution,” Jacob Nightingale stated in his soft-spoken tone. There was nothing outwardly terrifying about Jacob, but then I remembered his big hands and his thick arms. I recognized his change, the power festering inside him. It was almost... alpha like. But how was that possible? I wished I could see them.
“Can we skip the theatrics? Just tell me what you did,” Jess very nearly growled. I could hear the restraint, the tread of caution. “And why you’re here.”
“Is that anyway to speak to your alpha?!” Another man raged out of nowhere and I flinched.
“Jacob isn’t my-” Jess choked on the words. A beat passed before he could say “you didn’t. You didn’t.”
“I did. I took down the great Ezra Pritchett or should I say the late Ezra Pritchett,” he scoffed and my hand flew over my opened mouth. I contained a cry, despite my trembling hands. He couldn’t mean what I was thinking. That wasn’t possible. I just spoke to Ezra. He called me barely a few hours ago. He... it wasn’t possible. Wolves who wanted to become Alpha were supposed to make a public declaration, before a full moon. The whole city would have gone to the woods and watched Jacob try to dominate Ezra. I’ve watched countless wolves lose to him.
Jacob went on, completely smug. “You should feel lucky to be in the presence of the new Briar Pack Alpha and see how I’m making house calls? You can decide here and now Jess, whether you’re with me and continue your sad little life going nowhere or be against me and I’ll erase you off this earth like the other idiots that wouldn’t submit.”
“So, what? You just broke into Ezra’s house and murdered the man in his sleep? That’s not the way it’s done.” Jess said and then, I heard a scuffle. I heard people grunting and a pop before a long groan. I jumped at every noise, growing sicker and sicker. I wanted to try to peak through the cracks in the door and yet, my body wouldn’t move. My fear trapped me here.
Jess grunted and Jacob had moved. He said “I’m the Alpha, Jess. I can take to power however I please.”
“What about Angelica?” Jess asked about Ezra’s wife. “What about the kids?”
“She was a fighter,” a man laughed.
“The kids were like stepping on bugs,” another added.
“You’re crazy,” Jess said, but it sounded like he was the one losing it. “All of you! They’re our family and for you to just... you don’t deserve to be the Alpha-”
He could barely get the words out. There was another pop and a smack that caused my heart to slam the wall of my chest. It was torture, forced to listen to Jess’ pained grunts. As his breathing became labored, he spat out a wad of what I hoped wasn’t blood. What he did just made Jacob laugh. “I never took you for a fool Jess, but you’re still young. So let me advise you when I say there’s no point in being loyal to a dead man.”
I pressed both of my hands over my mouth and used all my control to keep from screaming. Tears fell down my fingers as I bared the attack on my heart. Jess told me not to help. I knew him. He was taking every punch, every kick for me. I’d only get in the way. I’d just distract him and then, he could really get hurt.
Closing my eyes, I focused on what they were saying. I owed it to Jess to pay attention. Jacob started speaking again, a new edge to his voice. It was like a sharp corner I could cut myself on if I wasn’t careful. “But you were never the brains of the operation, were you Jess? Tell me... where are you stashing your voice of reason?”
My eyes flew open, suddenly painfully aware of my position. The only thing that stood between me and them was a very thin door and a blanket. Jacob punched a hole into my chest and turned his fist, squishing my insides the more he spoke. “We followed your scent all the way from Pops.”
“What’s left of Pop’s,” someone decided to chime in and I had to swallow another sob. The people in my pack compiled pieces of my heart and after each name they scratched off their death list, my heart grew brittle and the pieces were breaking off. I couldn’t handle another blow. Not when I was already cold all over and shivering.
“We know Drew is here.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jess said and that earned him another hit. “He’s not here,” he still insisted and was punched again. He had to stop provoking them. He was no use to either of us, knocked unconscious and bleeding out.
“Tear the place apart,” Jacob instructed and I heard a struggle erupt, but also footsteps. A shadow past the closet and I held my breath, even when it felt like my chest was caving in. The steps passed. The destruction boomed from the hallway to the bedrooms and every second slinked slowly by, counting down the time I was going to have a heart attack.
The floor creaked. My muscles tensed up. A man walked right up to the closet and my heart sank. I scooted farther back as quietly as I could, getting a face full of coats. The man snickered, pressing his face against the door. Like an animal toying with its prey, the man knocked, “hello? Hello?”
The door crashed open and fear took a vicious bite out of me. A pair of hands grabbed my wrists as I cried out, “No! Stop!” He dragged me across the floor out into the hallway and up to my feet. I was greeted with toothy smiles, stained by blood. The men I once knew looked like complete strangers.
“Let me go!” I tried yanking my arms back and the man’s grip only tightened as he forced my arms behind and up my back. I cried out when it felt like my bones were going to snap and splinter off. He shoved me, forcing me into the living room as my heart pulsated in my ears.
“Get...” Jess huffed and I looked over, finding him held by both his arms. He was slumping towards the ground with one of his eyes swollen shut and blood dripping out of his mouth. My chest seized up as the tears bubbled up in my eyes. Jess spat on his floor. His voice was raspy and broken, driving me closer and closer to sobbing. “Get your hands off him.”
I shook my head, pleading to Jacob. I’ve known him since I was a kid. He said it himself. I was the voice of reason. He had to listen to reason. “What’s the point of all this?” I asked, seeing flashes of my memories with all the members of my pack and that was when the tears began to pour. “There won’t be a pack to lead if you kill them all-”
“Ssh,” Jacob hushed me, tenderly as if he were comforting a child. He touched my cheeks and I shuddered, getting hit by his pheromones. It made my head spin, but the quiver of fear in my chest kept me sober. He wiped my tears away and Jess raged, fighting against his holds. Yet, Jacob just ignored him and continued “we can regrow the pack, build it bigger and better.”
“Fuck you! You can dress it up however you like, but a monster is still a monster,” Jess growled, which earned him another punch to the face and I thought I was going to throw up.
“Stop!” I begged, twisting my arms and struggling out of Jacob’s hands. It was suffocating, everything pressing down on me. They bludgeoned Jess’ face again and blood splattered across the floor. This was going to kill him. It was killing me. “No! Stop! Jacob please,” I turned to him as his fingers brushed my cheeks, “tell them to stop.”
“Why should I? I warned Jess,” Jacob shrugged as he held my neck in place. “He didn’t surrender, so he has to die.”
“No!” I shouted without thinking. My heart took over and I cried “I’ll do anything! Anything! Please just don’t kill him!”
Tilting his head, Jacob’s eyes flashed red and I couldn’t take the words back. Dread ripped its nails down my chest and I couldn’t stop trembling under his gaze. Jacob smirked “do you mean that, Drew? You’d do anything?”
“Yes,” I closed my eyes and tasted the poison in my words.
“How old are you again Drew?” He asked.
“Eighteen,” I could barely whisper.
“No,” Jess bellowed, working his way back up to his feet. The man behind me let go and pushed Jess back. He was less Jess now, more wolf and more like the Beta he was meant to become and the four other wolves were having trouble keeping him still.
With my trembling hands, I rubbed my arms. Jacob grabbed the back of my head, getting a fistful of my hair as he forced my head to turn. He hummed, delightfully. “Eighteen and by the looks of it, no mate. Didn’t have the balls for it? Did you Jess?”
This time, Jess didn’t have an answer that was more than a roar and I was drawn to him. Jacob grabbed my arm, keeping me away from Jess and by his side. Jacob brushed his fingers through my hair and I cringed, suddenly feeling greasy and disgusting all over. He proposed, “I’ll spare Jess, but in-exchange you become my mate. Be this new pack’s Luna and I can stop this.”
Be his mate? Could I do that? Be in the shadow of a man with blood all over his hands, who could find another reason to kill Jess. It’d be the end of me. Life with Jacob, didn’t sound like one worth living. My face burned as I started sobbing harder, shaking more furiously and yet, I still said “yes.”
“Oh, but I don’t want to force you-” he stepped back and panic struck right through me.
“No! Please Jacob, I’ll be your mate. I want to,” I reached for his face and shakily caressed his jaw line, scratching my hands with his stubble. Not only did I stab Jess in the back, I took the knife and twisted it around my own belly.
“I accept,” Jacob smiled. He suddenly grabbed my wrists and I whimpered. He snickered, leaning in close and making my skin crawl. He spoke low, sending shivers down my spine. “Show me your neck. I can’t mate you now of course, but I can at least mark what is mine.”
I always imagined it differently. I thought I’d be married first, show everyone that my feelings were more than instincts or lust that I was going to mate with the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life committed too. I thought it’d be with my partner in crime, my best friend. My Jess. Jess, I’m so sorry.
Doing as I was told, I tilted my head to the side and showed my neck. It was the greatest form of submission a wolf like me could make and my shame ran deep. I shook with anticipation as he slipped his arm around my waist and pulled me closer against his chest. He licked up my neck towards the back of my ear and I quietly whimpered, unable to stop my tears.
His fangs punctured my skin and ripped a gasp out of my throat. My whole body tensed up as his fangs sunk even deeper, sending a numbing sensation through me and I slowly lost the feeling in my legs. And while I always thought a mark would be warm, it was like Jacob threw a gallon of ice water into my veins. Frost crawled over my skin, making me feel raw and tender all over like an open vein.
Then, my insides dropped and shattered into millions of pieces, all to the sound of Jess’ heart breaking. Jess screamed in agony. He never sounded more vulnerable in his life.
Oh, I thought towards the very end as I felt my life slipping away, Jess was my mate. It was the first time I ever believed in one of my instincts. Jess was my mate and I’ve committed the worst betrayal right in front of him.
Jacob’s teeth retracted and a gush of my warm blood spilled down my back. He let me crumble onto the floor, barely able to keep my eyes open. They let Jess fall too. He wasn’t moving anymore and while I opened my mouth to call out to him, no words could come out.
“Alex,” Jacob said. “Take Drew to my new home, the Alpha’s estate.” He lowered to his hind legs as I pressed my hand to the mark. Touching it rattled my bones and I sobbed harder, more devastated than before. I was drowning and no one was helping me. They just pushed me back under the water. Jacob stroked the side of my face and sighed “wait for me patiently sweetheart. When I’m done with this nasty business, we can mate with some privacy. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted this.”
Without warning, Alex scooped me off the ground into his arms. “Wait,” I heaved, using the last of my strength to reach for Jess “let me talk to Jess. Let me talk to Jess- Jess!” I cried, but none of it mattered. He took me outside and threw me into the back of his car. I shriveled into a ball, pressing the mark and hoped it would stop bleeding soon.
Even with the mark from another man, my whole body yearned for Jess. I shrunk smaller with the knowledge I’d probably never get to see Jess again. If I could, I’d tell him that I love him and I hoped that he’d forgive me. I wanted him to know it was all for him. I’d do anything for him. He liked to put me on a pedestal, but he was just as special as me and I’d do anything to pull him up and make sire he stayed by my side, forever.
Quietly, I let myself cry as I repeated his name “Jess... Jess...”