Chapter Two: How Different, Life Could Have Been
Tate looked at his best friend. His heart went out to the man. He’s never loved anyone as deeply as his friend loves his mate. But he knows he would be the same, right now, if it was him down there, rather than Dustin. He shook his head. He needs to do what he came here to do; time is short.
And he’s not sure how much longer Shar is going to survive up there, with him not keeping an eye on her.
“Where is my mate, Vampire?” Dustin demanded.
“Safe,” Tate said.
Dustin growled and tried to break the bond his brother had over him.
Tate moved and knelt in front of Dustin. Dustin glared at him, and Tate hated what he was going to have to do next.
“Dustin,” Tate said as he placed his hands on either side of the man’s head.
“Don’t touch me, unless you want me to rip your arms off.” Dustin threatened.
Tate smiled. Knowing the threat wasn’t much of a threat, as long as Daryl had control of him.
“Listen and see,” Tate whispered. Then closed his eyes.
Dustin bellowed as a searing pain shot through his head.
The Kraftman brothers moved to stop the Vampire, but Pearl put up a shield, stopping them.
“Let him finish.” She whispered, then blocked her mind from what Tate was showing her brother.
When Dustin stopped hollering, Pearl let down the shield.
“Fucking hell,” Dustin growled.
“I’m sorry,” Tate said as he leaned his forehead against Dustin’s. “You’re my best friend, Dustin. My brother. I had no choice but to take her. She killed that man, and it was a perfect reason to take her. But things are getting out of hand up there. I need you, Brother. Shar needs you.”
Tate looked up at Daryl. “Release him.”
“Are you sure?” Daryl asked as he watched them closely.
“Let me go, Brother. Sharissa needs me.” Dustin said as he looked over at his brother.
Daryl nodded. “You can go.”
Dustin got to his feet and looked at his family. “Please take care of Joy.” He said, then Tate placed his hand on Dustin’s shoulder, and they both disappeared.
“What the fuck?” Dylan grumbled as he stared at where his brother and the Vampire had just been standing.
“It’s okay,” Pearl said as she took hold of her mate’s arm. “Tate has a good reason for taking Shar. And he needs Dustin to help him with the problem.”
Dylan looked down at his mate. “What’s going on, Pearl?”
Pearl took a deep breath. “I tell you what I saw. Which wasn’t much. I blocked it as soon as I realized I shouldn’t be seeing it.”
“What the fuck,” Daryl grumbled.
Pearl looked at her brother. “Please, Alpha. Don’t make me say anymore.”
Daryl snorted. “I would never do that.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you what is going on.”
Daryl grumbled as he paced his parent’s living room. It has been three days since Tate had taken off with his brother. They had finally gotten hold of Pearl’s father, who was now in his parent’s house, telling him, the Alpha of his clan, that he can’t tell him shit, about what Tate is doing with Dustin and Sharissa.
“Thank you for coming down here, Daddy,” Pearl said from her place next to her mate, on the couch.
Kristoph Venstone nodded to his daughter. “I wish I could be of more help.”
“Talk to your brother,” Kristoph said with a wink. “He misses you.”
Pearl showed no emotions as she nodded to her father, then watched him disappear.
“Do you think Kota knows something?” Dylan asked his mate.
Pearl nodded. “I think so.”
“Call him,” Daryl said as he looked at the Witch of their clan.
Pearl chuckled. “I planned to.”
Daryl nodded, then left the house. He walked out to his bike and threw his leg over it.
“When did you start riding again?”
Daryl turned to his brother and shrugged. “A few days ago.”
“I haven’t seen you on a bike in…”
“Forty years,” Daryl said as he started his bike.
“Do you plan to join a biker gang?” Dominic asked with a laugh.
Daryl grumbled. “How many times do I have to say, I was undercover.”
Dominic shrugged. “We know that. But it was still uncomfortable to pretend to hate you.”
Daryl nodded. “It was uncomfortable for me too. Good thing I gave that life up.”
Dominic nodded. “Where are you headed?”
“Not sure yet. There’s a lot to do, and not enough time to do it in.” Daryl said as he started to back out of the drive.
“Be safe!” Dominic called out.
Daryl gave him a wave, then was gone.
Dominic sighed as he watched his brother drive away.
“When did he start riding his motorcycle again?”
Dominic turned to Drezden. “A few days ago. So, he says.”
Drezden nodded. “I haven’t seen him on a bike since…”
“Since that girl was killed,” Dominic said with a nod.
“Do you ever wonder what Daryl would be like today, if that girl he’d sworn to protect, hadn’t been killed, along with her family?”
Dominic sighed. “Every day, Brother. Every fucking, day.”
Daryl looked around as he turned the key on his bike. He hasn’t been here in almost forty years. He kicked down the kickstand and moved off his bike. He hasn’t felt like riding his bike in almost that long. Not since he’d failed at finding the hunters who had killed Ivy and her parents.
He found the trail that led to the caves and shifted. His Cougar remembers the area better than he does. He let him have the lead. He hasn’t thought about Ivy, in years. Then his brothers started popping out pups, and the memories had flooded back.
He doesn’t like or want to think about Ivy. He had promised her he would protect her… And he had failed her.
His Cougar whined, and Daryl shook his head. Why is he here? Ivy is gone.
They had never caught that hunter or his partners. But he knows they had gone into hiding. Because they’d never heard about Shifters being sold for their pelts again.
But why kill Ivy and her family, then go into hiding? Not like they ever figured out who any of them were…
He paused when he saw the caves up ahead. They looked the same. Time hasn’t changed them, except maybe for the… Is that ivy growing around them? Great, more shit to make him feel guilty…
“Look what we have here.”
Daryl growled as he turned around to the man who stood behind him.
“Didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”
Daryl snorted, then began shifting. “Scott.” He said with a nod to the man.
“What are you doing here, Kraftman?”
Daryl shrugged. “Thought maybe I could find something…”
Scott laughed. “There’s nothing here, that wasn’t here forty years ago.”
“Why are you here?” Daryl asked the man.
Scott shrugged. “Your brothers called me. Thought I might know where you’d driven off to; when they couldn’t find you anywhere else.”
Daryl scoffed. “Nosey little brats.”
Scott laughed. “More like, worried little brats. Daryl, how long do you think you’ve been gone?”
Daryl shrugged. “Maybe an hour.”
Scott snorted. “Thought as much. You left your parent’s house, over seven hours ago.”
Daryl grunted. He understands his brothers’ concerns.
“Your brothers said you were riding your bike again.”
Daryl shrugged. “Felt like taking it for a spin this morning.”
“Are you sure you’re not feeling nostalgic?”
Daryl snorted, then turned back to look at the caves again. “I promised her…”
“You would protect her. Yes, I know.”
Daryl turned his head to look at his old friend. “Fuck you, Scott.”
Scott laughed. “You let your emotions rule you when it comes to this case. Think of the ones you were able to solve and fix…”
“No amount of successes will make up for that loss,” Daryl said with a growl.
“You only knew the kid for an hour,” Scott said, for the thousandth time in the past forty years.
Daryl shook his head. “My brothers have all found their mates. I don’t think I’ll ever find mine.”
“Why is that?” Scott asked as he crossed his arms over his chest.
Daryl shrugged. “Because I think I found and lost her, forty years ago.”
“Where the fuck, have you been?”
Daryl turned off the motor of his bike and watched his brothers as they glared at him from his driveway. He wondered how long they’ve been waiting for him. Had Scott called them and told them he’d found him?
“Didn’t Scott tell you?” Daryl asked as he stepped off his bike.
“He only said that he found you, and you were safe,” Dylan said.
“I went to the caves,” Daryl said as he pushed past his brothers and walked to his front door.
His house is large, like his brothers’. Not that he will need this big of a house. He’ll never find his mate. No matter how much he looks for her or prays she’s out there. He has always known, his was lost to him. He just never let his brothers see it. He will continue to look for her. He may not be destined to have cubs join in on the fight, but he will be there to back up his family.
He is their Alpha, after all. Though his little niece, Joy, seems to outrank him; when it comes to the cubs and pup.
“Why did you go there? You haven’t been there in almost forty years.” Dominic asked as he and his brothers followed their oldest brother up to his front door.
Daryl shrugged as he fitted his key into the lock of his front door. He honestly hadn’t known he was going to the caves; until he’d found himself parked by the trails.
“Daryl,” Dylan said as he and his brothers followed Daryl into his house.
“I don’t know why,” Daryl said as he tossed his keys onto the table beside the door.
He’d allowed Sharissa and his other sisters, to decorate his home, that way it had a woman’s touch, for when he found his mate. Thinking of Sharissa, made him want to punch something.
Now, not only is one of their sisters missing; but their brother as well.
“Daryl,” Drezden said as he placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder.
Daryl paused and closed his eyes. He has noticed that his brother has been a bit more outgoing since he’d found his mate. Or had it started before then?
“I just found myself there, okay. I hadn’t set out to go there.”
Drezden squeezed his brother’s shoulder. “We’re here for you.”
Daryl turned to his youngest brother. “When did you become so outward. You’re usually the one in the back, telling us how wrong we are…”
“About that,” Drezden said with a sheepish smile. “We should talk.”
The four Kraftman brothers gathered in Daryl’s living room. They were short one brother, but it wouldn’t take much to catch Dustin up, once he returns from whatever the Vampire had him doing.
“I’ve been meaning to talk to you guys,” Drezden said as he paced the living room floor.
“Great,” Dylan grumbled. “We have one brother missing, one brother running off for hours without telling us where he’s going, and another holding secrets.” He said, then looked at Dominic. “Do you have anything you’re holding back?”
Dominic laughed. “Nope. What you see, is what you get.” He said with a grin.
“I had a good reason to hold a secret,” Drezden said as he stopped pacing and faced his brothers.
“What is it, Drez?” Daryl asked as he gave Dylan a warning look.
Drezden sighed. “Well, it all started when Dad left us and ended when he returned.”
“Yeah, I noticed you’ve been more outgoing since Dad’s return,” Dylan said as he pointed at their youngest brother.
Drezden nodded. “Yeah. Well, you see. I blamed myself…”
“For what?” Dylan and Dominic asked at the same time.
Daryl studied his brother’s face. The kid had blamed himself for their father leaving.
“For Dad leaving,” Drezden whispered.
Dylan and Dominic stared at each other, then their brother and started laughing.
“It’s not funny,” Drezden grumbled.
“It is,” Dominic said with a laugh.
“Just a little,” Dylan said as he held his finger and thumb apart from each other, to show the little bit that it was actually, very funny, that their brother has blamed himself for their father leaving them.
“Wait,” Dominic said as he cleared his throat to stop his laughter. “Are you saying that you blamed yourself for Dad being gay?”
“Wait. He was serious when he’d said that?” Dylan asked, his eyes opening wide.
They’d lost track of how many times their youngest brother, had announced that he was the reason their father was gay.