I couldn’t think. My mind unraveled into a messy pile of yarn on the floor into frayed, knotting pieces. Everything happened in quick pounding moments that rattled my brain. Jacob sunk his nasty teeth into Drew’s neck and pain smashed a hole into my chest and my weakened foundation crumbled into rubble. The pain dropped me to my knees as my vision darkened around the corners. It was the feeling of death reaching out and asking if I wanted a way out. I realized I had never really experienced pain until that moment.
The next thing I knew Drew was calling my name.
“Drew,” I huffed, flinching as my lungs cried out. He was being taken out of the room, I could feel it. A primal growl ripped out of my throat as the lines between myself and my wolf blurred. Underneath my skin, my bones were crunching. They were changing, letting the animal side of me completely take over.
“Stay down Jess,” Jacob spat, shoving me back down to my knees. “This is going to be another lesson.” My breathing labored as my shoulders rose and fell in shuddering bursts. My teeth were sharpening as Jacob grabbed a handful of my hair. He whispered close to my ear, “let me teach you when it’s time to die.”
I hocked the biggest wad of spit right in his ugly face. He smirked a little as he wiped it away, right before he wound his fist back and struck me across the face. It was hard enough to nearly knock my lights out. I fell face first into the floor and didn’t move. I shut my eyes. With no real plan, I just had to change the ending to this path. This path only led to tragedy, but Drew deserved nothing but a happy ending.
“Useless,” Jacob laughed at me. “Loyd, get rid of him and then meet me in the next house. I want you to break him apart and send what’s left of him in a dozen different directions. I never even want to hear anyone breath his name again, understand?”
“Yes Alpha,” Loyd probably saluted.
“Good,” Jacob said and with that, he left out the front door.
My mother once told me that hate was a strong word and yet, every fiber of my being hated that man. It took everything I had to keep still to keep from letting my hot head explode. This would be the only time before my death that I would ever stay that still again. Jacob Coldwell be damned.
Between the two of us and the world outside, the rain made more noise. The floor beneath Loyd creaked. The squeak grew louder the closer he walked towards me until he lorded over my body. The wolf inside me quivered, itching to take a big bite out of him. My blood started pumping faster, pounding at my ears. The transformation started again in my bones as they snapped and cracked to the perfect shape.It was usually less painful. Usually it felt more like stretching a tired muscle. This time I felt every punch, every kick again. Pain spiked up my ribs and I couldn’t swallow the gasp that flew out of my mouth.
“What the-” Loyd said, but it was too late.
I stood in front of him on all four legs, growling. Drool and blood dripped out of my mouth, spilling down my fur. The fire inside me blazed and it was turning me into a monster made of steel. Without a second thought, while he stood there gaping and wide eyed, I pounced. I saw red. Before I knew it, I was ripping into his neck and he was screaming. I spat the chunk of meat from my mouth to make room for more and he fumbled backwards. He knocked into my mantle and crumbled. He broke the top in half, taking down the pictures and vases with him. He went out cold and I growled. It wasn’t enough. I still had this venom running through my veins and I demanded more of a fight.
I had to find Drew. I had to be with Drew. Drew was still in-trouble. I fought my instincts. I struggled to silence my wolf and still think like a human, like the guy who was going to save his mate. I turned the wrong way, feeling another painful split through my side. I shook out my fur and bolted through the door into the rain. I skidded to a stop and pointed my head to the sky. Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath and Drew’s smell filled my lungs. His smell came with the sour twinge of Jacob’s filthy mouth and a growl crawled out of my chest. I kicked the mud and rocks and twigs up behind me as I raced through the woods, the back way to the mansion.I followed the trail and found myself in front of the manor in an instant. I had never ran so fast in my life.
The smell of blood hit me hard enough to make my head spin. Ezra. I could smell his blood and bile bubbled up my throat. He deserved so much more than an execution. Everyone in Briarwood did. I hid behind a line of bushes in front of the house, breathing hard. I watched Alex’s little black car roll up the driveway and I hunkered deeper into the ground, ready to jump again. I was itching to bite again. My greatest desire was to get this over with to end this day with Drew safe. I had to make Drew safe again.
The second Alex stepped out of the car, he pointed a confused look at the sky.
He could smell me.
Immediately, I appeared from the bushes with my mouth already wide and ready to make him my new chew toy. He threw his hands up and grabbed my jaw. I thrashed, ripping my head out of his hands. I couldn’t waste anymore time. With all my might, I whirled back and head-butted him square in the chest. He flung back, putting an elbow through his window and the glass shattered into pieces. It’s smash ripped through the air like lighting to this storm.
My skin was buzzing and I was becoming hyper aware of everything, my breath, the way the rain soaked and weighed down by fur and the sound of Drew’s heartbeat in the car. I never untapped this kind of power and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to put it back. Still, it overflowed and I was drowning in the power.
Alex launched back, ripping off his human skin in ex-change for a mouth full of great big teeth and brown fur. He snapped at me, but I jumped backwards. Without hesitation, I lunged and latched onto his neck, sinking my teeth into his flesh until my mouth was full of his blood. Alex howled and struggled, running us in a continuous circle. Desperate, he thrashed and broke free from my bite, but with skin than before and the coward ran with his tail between his legs. He was off to tattle on me to Jacob.
Jacob would know in minutes what happened.
I transformed back and the weight of my humanity crushed my bones to dust. I gasped as all my pain returned and I nearly collapsed. My hand slapped the top of the car as I kept my balance. “Fuck,” I spat, pulling myself around using the car’s roof. The rain still pelted me and I slicked back my hair just to get it out of my face. I felt dirt and blood in-between the strands. I barely pulled on the door handle and once I realized it was locked, I yanked it open and ripped it off its hinges. I let it fall and clatter onto the pavement. Every inch of my skin pulsed to the beat of my heart.
“Drew?” I struggled to speak above a whisper. “Drew?”
Drew looked so small, curled up in the back seat of the car. He held his trembling body as if it was the only way he could keep from falling to pieces. I gently laid my hand on his shoulder and Drew gasped. His whole body tightened up as he ripped my hand off. He was suddenly on the other side, pressing his body against the far door, breathing hard with widened eyes. He still held the wound on his neck and one side of his chest and neck and even up his cheek was covered in his own blood.
When he finally saw me, he faltered. He was pale as if I was a ghost. “Jess? Oh Jess,” he sobbed, tears filling his eyes and my heart ached. I opened my arms as he crawled back to me, “Jess! I’m sorry! I’m so-” The tears began to pour as he shook inside my hands. He laid his forehead into my chest and he gave his head a hard shake. “I’m so sorry! Please, I don’t want to be his- I don’t- I just wanted to protect you-”
“I know,” I told him. I pulled him back, narrowing my sights on him. I spoke low. I laced my words with conviction so he knew what I told him was nothing but the truth, “Drew. You saved my life. Don’t be sorry. I understand. You’re the bravest man I’ve ever met and I love you Drew.”
His eyes widened just slightly. His mouth opened.
“I love you and I will always love you,” I said again and his hands clutched my arms. “And I’ll tell you that one hundred more times.” I smoothed the hair out of his face, wiping the blood from his cheek with my wet hands. I kept my voice steady. I kept it strong, even if I felt as if I was going out of my mind, I had to be the strong one. This time Drew was allowed to fall apart. This time, I was going to take care of him. I told him, “but first we have to leave. We have to get out of here before they come back. Can you shift?”
“Y-yes,” he nodded and I helped him out of the car. As I retreated back, I shifted into my wolf again. I could bear the pain a little better like this anyways. He jumped and landed on the ground as his wolf. His beautiful snowy fur was stained with blood. He was a few inches smaller and leaner than most of the other wolves. It made him faster and I counted on that so he could outrun them all. Even me, if it came down to it. I huffed, motioning him to the woods and he nodded.
We ran straight ahead and followed the endless lines of trees. We tirelessly ran the scale of mountains through the morning, through the rain and into the next day. I drowned out my thoughts with the sound of my raging heart. After a while and all of a sudden, the connection to our pack snapped. I no longer felt the pull to Briarwood or anyone in that town at all. I didn’t know what the future held. I couldn’t say I had a plan at all, but only one thing would be for sure.
We had become Rogues.