Chapter 21: The Crimson Wolf
I watched him race away as I fell to the ice, shifting back to my human form. Slumping to the cold ground, I cried in anguish as his voice resonated in my mind. Grey had gotten through to Lucian in mind link for only a moment, but in those seconds, I heard him shout four words that shattered my heart.
She is a Monster, he had said. And it was not Lucian’s voice, it was Luca’s. I saw it in his eyes before he turned from me. They were not the deep, wild blue of Lucian’s eyes, but the light, gentle blue of Luca’s. Although, no tender kindness or love shone in them at that moment. Clear as day I saw my reflection in his eyes that shown fear, and above all, loathing.
I laid there, naked and broken. Feeling the cold settle into my aching limbs, I heard Grey speak in my mind.
We need to get up, you cannot survive out here for much longer. She said gently.
I could feel her try to call upon our flame to warm my shivering form, but my sadness prevented her from accessing our power. My flame was fueled by passion, rage, and power. In this moment, I felt none of those things. I felt torn, and most of all, alone. More alone than I had ever felt in my life.
I closed my eyes as I summoned the strength to stand, pushing myself off the ice I could feel the sting where the contact had burned into my exposed skin. Grasping my discarded blanket, I made my way to the jeep. Tears streaming down my cheeks, I grasped the cell phone that Luca had left in his seat. Searching through the contact I dialed the only person I knew to trust at this point.
“Luca, you rarely call. What’s the problem?” Christian said in a rather annoyed tone.
“Christian,” I spoke in a rough and broken tone. “It’s – it’s Red.”
His voice changed to a serious attitude immediately. “Red, what’s happened. Are you hurt? Where is Luca?”
“We – we were on the plains, introducing our wolves to each other when he…ran away.” I had to take a moment to breathe.
“I – I don’t know where he is now, but I don’t want to leave him out here alone.” I stammered, my voice betraying my broken emotions.
“Red, just stay where you are, I can track his phone. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Are you safe? Is there anyone around you?”
“No, I’m –“ my voice broke as I realized what I had to say. “I’m alone.”
Christian continued to speak but I could no longer hear his words. I could hear Grey softly whimpering in my head, she had felt a connection to Lucian, a strong connection that we both felt. It was not Lucian who had turned away from us, but Luca.
Dropping the phone, I began to get dressed. I did not want to be any more exposed than I already was when Christian arrived. Pulling on my clothes, I found myself staring out into the plains. In the few short days since Luca had come into my life, I had felt more intense love, lust, and longing than I had in the rest of my life. Now, I was feeling more intense pain and anguish than I thought possible.
I’m sorry Grey, I whispered to her, trying to ease her suffering.
I don’t understand, she said, our flames did not hurt him, he is our mate, our love, our other half. Why would he run from us?
Feeling the strength leave my limbs, I slumped against the side of the jeep, still staring out into the emptiness of the icy tundra.
“I don’t know,” I cried aloud, I don’t know.
I felt hands grasp my shoulders, lifting me off the cold ground. Blinking my unfocused eyes several times, I gazed up at Christian who took in my tear streaked face with worry. “Red, come with me, I’ll drive you back.”
“What about Luca?” I stammered, more tears spilling down my face.
“He’ll manage.” Christian said confidently as I let him secure me in the passenger seat.
I nodded as he took his place in the driver’s seat, starting the jeep and pulling onto the small road. We drove in silence, while I stared at the blur of trees as we passed them. I felt an insidious numbness begin to settle into me, replacing the aching feeling in my chest from being so far from Luca.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Christian spoke softly.
I shook my head, no; I was beyond words still. Thankfully Christian did not push the subject and we made the rest of the ride in silence.
When we got close, I directed him to the main cabin. I needed to speak to Rose and Dan, I needed to know what it was about my wolf that was so frightening that even my mate would run from me.
Pushing the main door open, I found Rose rolling out cookie dough with Emmy. Laddie and Ara were taking a nap. Seeing my expression Rose immediately dismissed Emmy and called for Dan.
Despite my pleas, Christian followed me in, relaying that he intended to stay with me for protection until Luca was found. Reluctantly, I accepted. I did not have the energy in me for more than one fight today.
Inviting Rose and Dan to sit in the living room I remained standing, my nerves too raw for me to be calm enough to sit down.
“What happened Red? Please, you’re worrying us.” Rose spoke in a timid tone. I shot her a pointed look.
Sighing deeply, I began. “You both are the only ones to see me shift to my wolf, and immediately after you forbade me from shifting in public ever again. I used to think it was because I could not control her…fire, but now I know it was something else.” Christian remained leaning against the doorframe leading to the entryway, his gaze hard, boring into my face as I spoke.
“I have never seen another wolf with my coloring.” I said, pressing my fingers against the brow of my nose. My head was pounding from crying so much.
“I know you know more than you’re telling me and I need to know the truth. Now.” Gray made my voice growl at the end of my statement.
Dan sighed deeply, Rose just hung her head, not meeting my eyes. Their silence was igniting anger in my core.
“I need to know!” I shouted. “This secret may have just cost me my mate and I have a right to know why.” Tears welled up in my eyes, but I refused to let them fall. I had done enough crying.
“Red, we just wanted to protect you, protect the family.” Dan murmured, his voice full of emotion. Hugging Rose to his side, he met my eyes. “As you know, Rose and I found you wandering around the icy plains when you were just a child.” I nodded, silently.
“There were stories, nightmarish tales of a pack of ruthless wolves, led by a single crimson wolf who inhabited the plains long ago.” Rose looked into his eyes alarmed, but he shook his head solemnly.
“She needs to know.” He spoke gently.
He continued. “The legend went that the first wolves that were granted gifts by the gods were pure and perfect. Those that lived in the northern regions lived in harmony with the sparse groups of humans on the inhabited the plains and surrounding forests. The forests that we live in now.”
“As time passed, one among them craved more than the lands of the wolves. He wanted to expand further south, into the lands inhabited by man. It is said that his wolf began as the bright, clear red color of fire. But when he attacked the humans and first tasted their flesh, the crimson red of their blood stained his fur a darker more menacing red, tainting him forever.”
Luca’s words rang in my mind. “He was a monster” I stammered.
I had to sit down, or I would collapse. Christian approached me but I waved him away. Sitting across from them, I nodded Dan to continue.
“This crimson wolf was the first to break away from the pack, his gift was that of fire. He amassed great power, gathering ruthless wolves and humans alike. Eventually he returned to the arctic to stake claim on the lands inhabited by the original wolves. Lands then settled by the white wolves of the arctic.”
My eyes widened. Luca and his family.
I swallowed the bile that rose in my throat. “What happened?”
“The story goes that he was no match for the original Alpha, so he planned a diversion to divide the Alpha from his mate and young cub.” Dan continued as tears brimmed at the edge of my eyes.
“There is honestly not much known about the battle itself, but the she-wolf was killed, the crimson wolf was defeated and most of his men were torn to pieces. The original Alpha white wolf raised his son alone and disappeared into those very plains a few years later.” Dan finished speaking, his eyes conveying the sorrow he felt.
“I’m so sorry Red, we didn’t want you to think you were anything like him, or his kin. We didn’t want you to be hunted -“ Rose pleaded, as her words faltered.
I stared blankly at Rose and Dan not actually seeing them. I felt as if the walls were closing in on me, I had to get out of here. Standing on wobbly legs, I ran out of the house just in time to vomit in the bushes. Emptying what little was in my stomach, I stayed there dry heaving for what felt like an eternity.
I heard steps behind me as I tried to wave whoever it was away. Christians hand appeared in my field of vision offering me a water bottle that I accepted gratefully. Closing my eyes, I focused on my breathing until I was able to calm slightly.
Taking a few sips, I composed myself enough to stand and began walking towards my cabin. I mind linked with Dan saying that I needed some time alone before shutting off the connection.
Walking in silence, Christian stayed a few paces to my side. “So, your wolf is red, I gather. That’s ironic.” He said with a sly smirk.
Seeing his expression, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of his joke. He joined me laughing, immediately brightening my mood.
“Yes, named after my hair, long before Rose or Dan ever saw my wolf. It started as a nick name until I regained my memory but, I never did, so it stuck.” I said shrugging.
He stopped, causing me to stop in turn. “Listen Red, I don’t presume to know what’s going on with you and Luca, but I do know that he doesn’t give up on anything without a fight. Maybe this was just a fight he’s having within himself, a battle he needs to face alone.”
I took in his words, looking deep into his eyes as he searched mine for acceptance. Sighing, I nodded, moving to take a seat in one of the patio chairs sitting before the entrance of my cabin. He took a seat opposing mine.
“I have known Luca a long time, and I’m sure he never meant to hurt you. Like I told you he found me when I was in a dark place.” Christian sighed, running his hands through his hair.
“I had just lost my mate. She was human and became ill, I didn’t know how sick she truly was until the very end.”
My heart clenched with the pain he must have felt, I thought the pain of seeing Luca run from me was immense, but just the thought of being without him for the rest of my life was too much to bear. “I’m – I’m so sorry Christian.” I stammered.
Raising his head, I could see his eyes red with tears he refused to shed. “It was not long after that that Luca found me, at the bottom of several bottles, in a flat in Paris.”
“Red, I’m telling you this to say that Luca took me from the worst point in my life and gave me purpose again. He did not let my past define me, and I am sure he will not let his do the same.”
I nodded, grateful for him confiding in me.
“Thank you Christian, I hope you’re right.” I stared out into the trees, imagining Luca tearing himself up inside, waging an internal battle with Lucian. His white wolf alone on the plains.
I let the barrier to my mind link down, trying to connect with his. Luca, please come back to me.
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