A few hours had passed, and Tessa moved onto searching for any reports made about a possible missing pack member. She knew something like this could have happened before she was even appointed Alpha, but surely John would have noticed. With the thought of his name, anger erupted inside her as Tessa remembered how traitorous and vile that man was. If a pack member would have gone missing, he wouldn’t have cared or even worse he could have been involved and no one would have noticed. “Maybe this wolf found something out he wasn’t supposed too,” her wolf added, knowing John was a man of secrecy. Tessa could feel the guilt creeping in her mind as she thought about any possible way she could have noticed or intervened something like this. “How many more members could have fallen victim to his schemes,” she thought, fighting the bile that rose to her throat, but she failed and made a quick dash to the bathroom.
As the contents of her stomach emptied into the toilet, pleasant sparks danced over her skin as her hair was moved gently away from her face. “I made it just in time,” Dainin said softly, his smooth voice filling the room. “I wish you were a little later,” Tessa grumbled, taking the tissue Dainin offered her to wipe her mouth. “I don’t. I want to be here for you in every way,” he assured her with a smile. Tessa smirked as she watched him prep the toothbrush, she always kept handy in her office bathroom. “You’re so good to me. Have I told you that,” she asked, wrapping her arms around his waist. The contact alone was already helping her nausea. “You don’t have to tell me Tess. It comes with the mate territory,” he chuckled as he ran his hand down her back, comforting her.
When she finished brushing her teeth, Tessa found Dainin sitting on her sofa, reading over the files from her desk. “All your P.I. found on them was their names and age,” he asked in disbelief. “Unfortunately,” Tessa sighed, resting her head on his shoulder as she joined him on the couch. “I hope they’re as willing to talk as you say they’ll be,” she added, peering up at his strong features. “They’ll talk. Sonia was frightened when she found me. I don’t think she was even kept with her mother,” Dainin assumed, placing the folders on the coffee table. “We should head over there. I want to get this over with before Zander returns with the Rogue,” Tessa said, standing to her feet. “What Rogue,” Dainin growled, but Tessa dismissed him and motioned for him to follow her as she explained. “A mangy Rogue stumbled into our territory last night and can apparently mind link with the pack members. I have Cadence meeting them halfway, but I’m worried this could have been one of John’s victims. Did Sonia ever mention anyone else being held captive,” Tessa asked as they walked through the pack house. “No, it was just she and I,” Dainin answered with a thoughtful look. “Well, we’ll have the answers soon enough,” Tessa said before walking out of the pack house and shifting into her wolf.
“I’ve told you everything,” Ingrid admitted groggily. “My daughter and I are from the Coven of the Sacred Moon. That monster came to us as a man seeking a way to sever and destroy his human half,” she explained, taking a moment to gain her thoughts. The elixir still seemed to be having long lasting side effects, making it difficult for Ingrid to focus, but Tessa was patient and keeping a keen ear to find any holes in her story. “My Coven worships the Moon Goddess, just like you. To eradicate her gift would offend her and throw off the balance of nature, so we turned him away,” she finished in heavy breaths. “So how did you end up helping that abomination,” Tessa asked again, snapping her fingers to get Ingrid’s attention. Dainin’s hand rested on her shoulder in an attempt to keep her calm.
Ingrid shook her head to regain her composure as she met Tessa’s eyes once more. “After a nightly ritual, I returned to my home to find it ransacked and my daughter missing. She was eight years old at the time and all that was left was a note with directions on where to meet. When I arrived at the meeting spot, my poor Sonia was bound, blind folded and gagged with fresh cuts and bruises decorating her once flawless skin. Then before I had a chance to let her know I was there, and she’d be okay, she was rushed away and that was the last time I saw her,” Ingrid wept with fresh tears falling down her face as she glanced at her once little girl, who was flanked by Elijah and Leah. “I had no choice but to join its ranks! It used her life to control me. I had no other option but to obey. I could feel she was still alive, but I wasn’t the only witch helping that thing at the time and he used that witch to keep Sonia hidden from me. Eventually, it killed her during an act of rage after another one of its failures. I thought I would soon share the same fate, until John came along,” Ingrid finished with dread filling her tone at the end.
Tessa’s ears perked up when she mentioned John’s name. “What part did John play in all of this,” she asked darkly as images of her family flashed through her mind. Moments where they were all celebrating together, to when John consoled her after their deaths, all the while being the cause of her heartbreak. “John caught wind of a monster with an insatiable lust for power and sought the beast out. Once he gained its trust, John encouraged it to take revenge on those that defied it. John fed its blood lust and once there were no more enemies, they looked to tie off loose ends and found out about Dainin being the Alpha of White Sand. The fact that its nephew held a position of power fueled the hatred that led to all of this,” Ingrid fell silent when Dainin growled at the mention of the planned attack on his pack. It was now Tessa’s turn to try and calm him as she motioned for Ingrid to continue.
“If John was so helpful, why did it kill him,” Tessa asked, intrigued, but not surprised, by the fact that John was a liar and manipulator on both sides. “Rumors started to spread among the Rogues that John was calling himself the Alpha, which we all know was the monster’s main objective to obtain. In the end, it used John for information on Blue Ridge as it wanted to make an army of beasts, like himself. So, John simply got cocky and became a loose end that needed to be wiped from the equation,” she stated with a labored breath. “Why didn’t he just use the Rogues,” Dainin asked. “Because the spell required a blood donor to be connected to the pack of wolves and the Rogues had no connection besides the control I held over them,” Ingrid explained, and suddenly everything made sense to Tessa about why a Rogue suddenly appeared with a connection to Blue Ridge.
Before Tessa could confirm her assumptions, the prison door creaked open in the distance. Over the muskiness of the cell, Tessa immediately recognized the scents of Cadence and Zander, but it was the foreign scent of the Rogue that was throwing her off. Tessa closed her eyes as she inhaled deeply through her nose. Normally, a Rogue had an unmistakable scent of decay and death, but even with the scent of disease in the air, a warm breeze surrounded Tessa with a familiar scent of fresh honey mixed with a hint of earl grey tea. ”Tea my mother used to drink,” she reminisced, picturing herself wrapped with her mother in a blanket while they rocked on the porch swing during a crisp morning. To this day, Tessa remembered her mother’s scent used to hold a more earthy aroma, but there was someone who held that honeysuckle scent. “It can’t be,” her wolf whispered, trying not to have hope where there shouldn’t be.
All Tessa could hear was the sound of Cadence’s boots on the stone floors as she got closer to the cells. Her heart swelled with a hopeful sensation she knew would crush her if her instincts were wrong, but she prayed the Moon Goddess had not forsaken her yet again. Once Cadence came into view a frail wolf followed close behind her and Tessa could feel her heart pounding in her throat. “Impossible,” her wolf cried out, not able to believe their eyes. Tessa watched the strange wolf glance at the witch beside her before locking eyes with her own, and once that contact was made all feeling of doubt left her body as a connection she thought she’d never feel again rushed through her in a whirlwind of emotion. ”Milo," Tessa thought in relief as she fought back the tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks.
Tessa’s heart broke for him as her eyes raked over his sickly form. ”It’s okay. We can fix him,” her wolf shakily assured her, even though her own heart broke for him. A sniffle from beside her caught Tessa’s attention. She looked to Ingrid and didn’t miss the guilt emanating from her eyes and body language. Rage engulfed Tessa’s being as she lifted the witch up against the wall by her neck, oh so tempted to squeeze the life out of her. “How do you know him,” Tessa roared, shaking the walls around her, mere centimeters from the witch’s face. Her wolf had risen to the surface and Tessa could feel her canines protruding past her lips, eager to sink into the witch’s flesh for the kill.
A commotion sounded behind her and she knew it was Sonia fighting to break free, wanting to protect her mother. Even if she broke free, Tessa wouldn’t hesitate to kill the witch before her as well as slaughter her daughter. “If you wish to keep your pathetic lives, you will tell me how my brother is alive and everything you bastards did to him,” she growled deeply, and by the look of pure terror in Ingrid’s eyes she feared Tessa’s unspoken promise of death and needed to choose her words carefully, for her next words could be her last.