You Belong Here.
I had been sloshing through the deepening waters at the bottom of the ravine, when a lone howl reached my ears. It was desperate and eerily beautiful. Just the mere sound of it brought tingles down my spine. Adeline. She was calling out to me, out to her pack as if she knew her place in it. I ran towards the sound of it, proud and relieved that she would recognize her own and respond, that somewhere inside, she knew she had a place here.
It only took me a few minutes of trudging through the rising water to realize I needed to get to higher ground, and soon. Picking the best spot I could find, I stormed up the ravine wall, my powerful legs launching me half way up in my first leap. Reaching the top, I looked back down at the ravine, hoping to use the height as a vantage point. While I ran, I focused all my senses on finding any trace of her. Watching the water level continue to rise I began to get more worried.
I howled again, begging her to answer me. I needed to find her. I needed to know she was okay. Standing still I waited. A minute passed and my ears drooped. I took a step forward, believing there would be no answer when a feeble howl cut through the rain. Leaping towards the howl, I ran, pushing my legs as hard as they would go. Her howl was much too weak. A strong breeze brought the metallic smell of blood to me. The rain was still falling down heavily, and for the scent to be that strong, I knew there must have been a decent amount of fresh blood.
As I neared the origin of the howl, the smell of blood and the faint sound of growling could be heard. Jumping through a bush and bounding around a tree I slid to a stop. Standing about ten feet from me, was a large wolf. Her butt was up against a tree as she crouched low, hair on end. Baring her teeth, she growled menacingly warning me to stay back. Her back right leg lay limp behind her, and I could make out the arrow that was sunk into the flesh. A puddle of blood pooled beneath her abdomen as an open wound bled freely. Adeline.
Being injured, instinct had taken over at my approach, as she displayed that although she was injured she would not be an easy kill. It wasn’t her stance or her wound that had left me frozen however. It was her beauty. She was larger than any rogue she-wolf I had ever seen. Her fur was a mix of white and silvery gray, and her paws and right shoulder were black. The tip of her left ear was black and a black mark rested in the middle of her forehead. It wasn’t dark, but it looked like an outline of the full moon. She was breathtaking, and I had never seen another wolf like her.
The sight of her made me more curious about her heritage, as coat colors and markings could often be an indication of pack and lineage. My wolf, for instance, was black, and that had been passed down from father to first born son, since my great-great grandfather. Taking cautious steps toward her, I whimpered, observing her injuries once more. She needed a doctor. My wolf called out to her, confused as to why she would act so hostile towards us. Once we got closer, a breeze blew past me, sniffing, she looked at me through the haze of her heavy eyes and gave a yip, her legs buckling underneath her. Closing the distance between us quickly, she attempted to get back up but putting my paw on her shoulder, I growled lightly and pushed, indicating she should stay down.
Leaning over her, I touched my nose to her forehead before licking her face. Lowering my head to her shoulder I nuzzled her neck breathing in her scent. She whimpered and I nudged her face again, trying to let her know it would be okay. Moving to her stomach I put a paw on her chest and used my head to roll her onto her side, she growled at me, but I continued examining her wound. A long gash ran down her abdomen, it looked deep. Instinctively I began licking the blood away, cleaning it as best as I could, trying to help her heal. The blood slowed considerably, and while I licked it clean, I linked Patrick that I had found Adeline and she was badly injured. Moving back up to her face I could tell she was going in and out of consciousness. Needing to know if she had any other injuries I took a few steps back and shifted in front of her.
The cold wind immediately hit me. Goosebumps puckered my skin, and the rain ran down my bare back but I didn’t care. “Adeline! Please wake up, I need you to look at me.” I stroke her cheek as I plead with her. Once her sapphire eyes meet mine, I smile at her calmly. “I’m going to check out your leg and then I need you to shift, okay?” She shook her head ‘no’ before dropping it back on the ground. Frowning, I moved back to her leg. I growled when I examined the arrow protruding there. My wolf would take great pleasure in ripping out the jugular of the hunter who had done this. Turning her leg slightly she whimpered. “I’m sorry. Almost done.” I reassured her. Seeing that the arrow had gone straight through I braced her leg with my thigh. Feeling the sudden pressure she tried to sit up but I urged her back down.
“I’m not trying to hurt you, please just trust me. You’ll be okay.” I said softly, stroking her head. When she had relaxed, I grabbed both sides of the arrow to hold it steady before breaking off the pointed end and sliding the shaft out of her leg. She howled when the arrow came out and wincing at her pain, I tried to comfort her once more. “Okay Ade, I need you to shift for me, okay baby.” She looked up at me and rolled her eyes at my usage of ‘baby’. That was a good sign, her attitude was still intact. She shook her head again. “Please, shift, I promise I won’t look, and I won’t let anyone else look either, I just need to know if you have any other injuries.”
Shaking her head, she pulled herself up. Confused, I watched her use her front leg to wipe the leaves away from the ground in front of her. Using a shaky paw, she isolated a claw and to the best of her ability she carved the word ‘can’t’ into the forest floor. Her head dropped in shame and she refused to look at me. “Why?” I asked her, not understanding why she felt she couldn’t shift. Huffing, she started to carve the word ‘stuck’ into the dirt. If possible her head dropped even lower, the shame and embarrassment evident, even on her wolfy features. Realizing that her injuries and the trauma from the event had probably drained her I racked my brain for a solution. The doctor would need to see her in human form to treat her.
“Can I talk to your wolf?” I said to Adeline, an idea coming to mind. She tried shaking her head no, when her eyes suddenly shifted from blue to gold. Her wolf nuzzled her nose against my hand, licking my fingers. Her wolf obviously knew who I was. “I need you to shift, you are no longer in danger and this is the best way I can help you. I will protect you, I promise.” She nodded in understanding, licking my fingers one last time before laying her head down. Closing her eyes she whimpered, and that whimper turned into a loud whine as Adeline slowly shifted back into a human.
The energy it took to shift had drained her, and the pain had caused Adeline to fully black out. Her stomach wound had reopened and her body was covered in bruises and cuts. Her right thigh was not only bleeding but was bruised black, and swollen. She shivered as the wind and the now trickling rain assaulted her bare skin. Pulling her into my arms, I placed her on my chest and leaned back against the tree trunk. Wrapping my arms around her, I shoved my face into the crook of her neck, savoring the smell of her and the feel of her close to me. I was just about to link Patrick when his voice popped into my head. ′ We are trying to get to you, the water is making it difficult. We will be there soon.′ Sighing, I thought about walking her to them. Knowing the trees were helping shield her from the weather made me decide to stay put for a little while longer.
I returned my face to her neck, listening to her shallow breathing. ‘Mark her.’ My wolf growled. ‘This way we will never lose her again.’ My canines extended and I dragged them across her skin slowly, enjoying the act. Finding the perfect spot between her neck and collarbone, I felt my eyes go dark as my wolf started to take control. Dragging my tongue over the area, I growled ready to sink my teeth into her skin, when a small whimper stopped me. “Zach?” Adeline whispered against my heaving chest. Breathing deeply, I closed my eyes and forced my wolf back. She deserved to choose, I wasn’t going to mark her until she wanted it.
“You’re okay.” I whispered back to her. “I’m naked.” She answered. Laughing a little I tried to console her. “I promise I didn’t look.” I started stroking her back. “Is that even possible?” She asked, and I could feel her cheeks heat up against me. “To not look at someone as beautiful as you? Barely, but I managed it.” Groaning, she pushed off my chest. Her face was incredibly pale and her eyes still looked heavy and weak. “Thank you for saving me. I wasn’t sure if anyone would come.” Ouch. Her words hurt, although I knew she didn’t mean for them to. “Why would you think that?” I asked, studying her face. “Because I’m a rogue and you would have had one less problem.” Shaking my head, I realized that Adeline had very poor communication with her wolf. Stroking her cheek I looked deeply into her eyes. “I will always come for you, you’re no problem, and you are definitely not a rogue. You are my mate and you belong here.” Her eyes widened as my words surprised her. They seemed to calm the battle I had seen raging behind her eyes. Pushing the hair out of her face, I pulled her closer and touched my lips to hers, feeling the sparks spread as our lips touched. She gasped into my mouth at the sensation and pushing my lips against hers harder, I deepened the kiss, letting her fall into it.
Hearing and smelling the sounds of people approaching, I pulled away, touching noses with her, before standing up. Shifting her in my arms so her entire front was covered, I easily carried her to meet the group that was coming for us. Upon seeing Patrick he smiled, throwing a large shirt towards me. It landed on my head and growling, everyone turned around so Adeline could change. Setting her down, she swayed on her feet weakly as I helped her pull the shirt over her head. Patrick then threw me a shirt and a pair of basketball shorts that I pulled on before picking Adeline back up. “The pack doctor is ready and waiting for your arrival.” Patrick informed me. ” . . . And the hunter?” I asked. Patrick shifted uneasily. “We still have patrols out looking for him.” Damn it. I hated that this guy was still on the loose somewhere on pack lands. “We need to keep everyone but our warriors and patrol inside until he is found.” I ordered, not wanting to risk him shooting someone else. Patrick nodded as he started to spread my orders through the link.
Getting back to the other side of the ravine was a bit tricky, but we quickly managed, and once on the other side, I broke into a run, as Adeline had started passing out all over again. Running to the pack house, I ran straight to the mini medical clinic set up in a small house behind it. Once in, our pack doctors motioned me towards a bed. Laying Adeline down on the bed, her eyes began to open as she searched around the room. Stroking her hair I tried to calm her. Under the bright lights her skin looked even paler, the dark circles under her eyes deeper. Her normally vibrant blue eyes looked dim; extinguished. A strong hand squeezed my forearm, and I turned to see Joanne standing behind me. She gave me a small smile and a curt nod, and I stepped back allowing her access to her patient.
Joanne and Peter were mates, and the head doctors for the pack. Although they had both been rogues at one point, I highly respected both of them. Losing their packs during the wolf wars, their love for helping others lead them to travel between the packs, offering their medical help. When packs were attacked they often tended to the victims. Traveling between the packs had taught them a great deal. They had seen many things and I often trusted their advice and expertise. Joanne had delivered me when our old pack doctor had fallen ill. Afterwards, my father had offered her a place in our pack and she had agreed. Peter visited our pack later, coming in with a group of refugees from a destroyed pack. He met Joanne while tending to the survivors, and stayed to be with her. We were extremely fortunate to have two amazing doctors working with us.
Joanne stepped forward, her salt and pepper bun slightly frazzled as she pushed a stray hair from her face. Motioning to the nurse to start hooking Adeline up to the monitors, she immediately began examining her. “Hello again.” Joanne breathed, offering Adeline a small smile, as she reached out and squeezed her hand. ” Joanne is going to take care of you.” I said to her, as she numbly nodded in understanding. A nurse brought Adeline a blanket and draped it over her lower half as Joanne lifted her shirt and started her examination She motioned for someone to put pressure on her stomach while she began poking and prodding at her ribs. Adeline winced a few times, and without glancing up, I knew Joanne had noticed each time.
“Help me lift her up so I can check her back.” Joanne asked. I instantly moved to Adeline’s side. “My back is fine.” Adeline said speaking to the doctor. Their eyes met for a moment and Joanne nodded in understanding. “I just need to feel the sides of your ribs and check real quick.” She reassured her as we pulled her up. Before Adeline could argue again, the doctor lifted her shirt and started prodding along her back.Small three pronged scars were scattered around the middle of her back. I opened my mouth to speak but the doctor shot me a meaningful look and nodding we pulled her shirt down, not saying anything.
Stepping back, I couldn’t help the anger and concern that bubbled up inside me. How hadn’t I noticed this earlier? Since werewolves typically healed quickly, it took a lot to scar us. Our rate of healing wasn’t as fast before our first shift, although all were-children were different. Still, all possessed enhanced abilities. These abilities would feel natural, and not out of the ordinary to the child. That was why it was important for a child to grow up around other wolves. Adeline having those scars meant that she had acquired the injuries they came from at a fairly young age. I knew Adeline grew up an orphan, I knew where she lived, worked, and where she had gone to school, but other than that I knew close to nothing about my mates’ life. What must she have gone through?
A sharp gasp from Adeline brought me out of my thoughts. Joanne had moved to her leg and examining it she grimaced. “She was shot through the leg with an arrow. It was a clean shot and had made it through her leg. I broke the tip off and pulled it out so she could shift” I explained. Her only response was a nod as she massaged around the wound carefully. Straightening, she moved to the monitors to check Adeline’s numbers.
After looking them over she motioned me away from the bed and towards the door. “So far she isn’t showing any signs of infection, but she has lost a lot of blood. I’m going to need to check her blood type and do an infusion. She’s also going to need stitches as she isn’t healing as fast as I would like. I shouldn’t be surprised as she wasn’t healing when I treated her before. We may have to run fluids as well.” I allowed her to finish before asking “Before?” Eyeing me impatiently Joanne nodded. “Yes, when she was first brought here. She had been drugged, but usually our bodies burn through that rather quickly, she however stayed asleep a lot longer than expected. She was also attacked when she was apprehended and the shoulder wound hadn’t healed when she left, although I blamed the trauma from the incident. I noticed however that it’s barely healed over now.” “What can cause that?” I asked worried. “It’s not uncommon in rogues or in those who have suppressed their wolves for long periods of time to have these occurrences. Also, wolves are stronger together, and often we share strength with our mates as being mated makes us stronger. With her living alone, in the city and unmated, this all makes sense.”
Thanking her, I let her begin treatment on Adeline. They numbed around her injuries before cleaning and starting her stitches. Not even an hour later, Adeline was asleep and receiving blood we had brought out of our medical storage. I was watching her rest when I felt Patrick walk up behind me. “Did you find him.” I yawned. There was a pause as Patrick shifted his weight nervously. “We did.” Jumping up I turned to him. “Was he handed over to the authorities or is he locked up for questioning?” Scratching his head Patrick’s eyes found mine. He looked exhausted, but more worried than anything else. “Neither.” He responded. “He’s dead.”
Thirty minutes later, I stood at the border of my lands with Patrick. At my feet lay the hunter, just beyond my border, dead. His eyes were wide and glassy, an expression of horror, now forever stained on his gaunt features. Protruding from his chest were 4 arrows, but that wasn’t what disturbed me most upon seeing him. His stomach had been ripped open viciously , and in his right thigh lay another arrow. The injury matching Adeline’s. On his body, the vague scent of an unknown wolf lingered, though after the rain it was far too faint to identify.
“We need to get this covered up. We don’t need the authorities looking into wild animal attacks in the area. His vehicle was found?” Patrick stopped his pacing and looked over at me, “Jeremy found it on the other side of the property.” “We need this to look like an accident. Maybe like he was thrown from his vehicle? Get our men in town on this.” I said running my hand through my hair. “Yes Alpha.” Patrick and the warriors responded.
Looking at his mangled body a dark feeling began to rise from the pit of my stomach. “Patrick, I don’t want Adeline to know about this.” I said quietly, not wanting her to worry. The fact that someone had gone through the trouble to replicate her injuries was creepy. It meant that someone had been watching, they were acting to avenge her. A rogue we hadn’t detected. I didn’t need her worried that I couldn’t protect her. Looking over the body once more, I swallowed the lump that had started forming in my throat. Somewhere inside, a dark voice whispered that this was just the beginning. Turning away from the sight in front of me, I started to think about what this could mean.
I want to thank everyone for the comments, reviews, and the follows this week. It feels amazing to know that this story is being read and enjoyed. Before I joined Inkitt, I almost gave up on writing this story because I didn't think anyone would read it. I decided to continue with it because I love to write, I had a story, and I wanted to see if I still could.
This story has been a wonderful outlet for me, so if anything, my wish is that no matter where you are or what you are dealing with, this book provides you with something that can help make your day easier.