The sudden commotion sent the young wolf scurrying down the hall of the prison with his tails between his legs, blindly following the green-eyed woman to an open door. He knew immediately he had been locked away in a cell, but that didn’t matter to him. “Why is that witch here,” he panicked, running to the farthest corner of his new cell. “If she’s here then that monster must be close. What if they’re all in on his treachery,” his mind raced through the possibilities. Every noise he heard had him jumping out of his skin with his heart beating out of his chest. He was certain it would soon be his turn to face their wrath, but he could only hope the angry she-wolf would forget she ever saw him.
Over the hoarse rasp of his breathing, the wolf tried to listen to the chaos happening in the other cell. He wanted to get a sense of what was about to happen to him, but even with his sensitive hearing, he couldn’t make out the conversation. He was fighting to calm his breathing so the blood would stop rushing through his ears, but he couldn’t get a handle on his fear. It only worsened when he heard the other cell door creak open, followed by whispers filling the hall. “Please stay away,” he pleaded repeatedly, then familiar blue hues met his through the bars. He knew it had to be the black wolf that escorted him here, but now an intimidating man stood in his place, wearing an expression that was unreadable.
The young wolf’s back and shoulders pressed into the wall, wishing he could just become one with the rock and his eyes grew wide when a pair of hazel eyes met his through the bars. When she opened the door and stepped inside the cell, his ears drew back in warning as he looked for an escape. “Easy, I’m not here to hurt you,” she said in a low gentle voice with hands raised, but the wolf was wary of her. He had blindly trusted promises like that before, only to end up in a pool of his own blood. “I simply want to help you,” she said, taking slow steps toward him. His body grew tense, anticipating her to attack him like she did the witch. He could tell by her aura that he would be no match for her. He was weak, useless and a waste of life, but something in his mind urged him to meet her eyes and when he did, he was surprised to find no hostility.
“You stumbled into Blue Ridge territory. I’m the Alpha here, and my name is Tessa Hayes,” her words made no sense to him and he didn’t miss the way she tried to hide her disappointment. For some reason, it upset him to see her so defeated, but he was still too afraid to let his guard down. He warily watched Tessa make her way to the middle of the room where she slowly lowered herself to her knees. The young wolf contemplated faking an attack just to throw her off and get away, but he could still feel eyes watching him. Attacking this Alpha would most likely sign his death certificate. “Please, let me help you,” Tessa calmly begged him, and her tone truly confused him. “Can I trust you,” he wondered but remembered the witch was in her midst also. It could all be a trick.
Hurt morphed her calm expression as he watched Tessa’s eyes run over his atrocious form. Compared to the wolves that escorted him here her reaction was no surprise. “Maybe she’s thinking of ways to do worse,” he snorted to himself, knowing nothing could be worse than the monster’s torture. Tessa’s next words astounded him. “I know you must be afraid that we’ll treat you like the creature with the red eyes,” she started, earning a growl from him. “But you don’t have to worry anymore. The woman who brought you here today killed that monstrosity just days ago. That beast, those witches you saw earlier, and the Rogues that did this to you will never harm you again. I swear to you, Milo,” Tessa promised, respectfully crossing her arm over her chest and keeping her gaze locked with his.
The wolf sat there bewildered. “It’s dead,” he repeated in disbelief as relief flooded his soul, but then something else registered in his mind. “Milo? Why did she call me Milo,” he wondered confused, but something felt so right about that name. “Milo. Milo,” he thought, enjoying the way it sounded in his mind and it gave him a new sense of belonging and a possible identity of who he was before. “How would she know who I was,” he tried to ask the missing voice, but there was no response. “Where are you? Can’t you see we’re out of that hell? Are you going to leave me to face this world alone,” he called to the voice, but the silence only added to his frustration. “Fine. Be a coward all you want, but I’m done,” he snapped, not caring if his human side could hear him or not.
Milo’s wolf struggled to stand on his shaky legs, but once he gained his balance, he cautiously approached Tessa. The thought of this being a trap plagued his mind, but when as he got closer to her, the warmth surrounded them, encouraging his movements. He also noticed the way Tessa remained still. Her face was blank of emotion as she just watched him. As he searched her features a vision flashed in his mind of a younger version of the woman. She was looking down at him with such pride as she reached down to ruffle his hair. “Great job, Milo,” she praised him with an earnest laugh, but as quickly as it appeared, the vision vanished, leaving him even more confused. Nothing about this woman answered his questions. He had no idea where he was or who she was to him. She was nothing but a stranger, yet something was telling him she held the answers.
When he was a foot away, Milo’s wolf watched Tessa close her eyes. He could easily catch her off guard and try his luck at escaping, but something was urging him to trust her and the warmth still surrounded them. Trusting the strange sensation had helped him so far and for once his body was relaxed. He was surprised to hear his heart beating at a normal rhythm. Listening to his instincts, he slowly lowered himself down, ignoring the protests of his bones and joints cracking in agony as he crawled until his head laid in Tessa’s lap. He waited for the abuse to start at his audacity to take such a chance but like with the others it never came. Instead, a foreign sense of peace came over him and he actually found himself smiling as a long-awaited sleep took over his body.
Time had been no worry of his, Milo’s wolf was too consumed by a strange feeling of home as Tessa’s scent filled his nose. It seemed like something he had been missing was suddenly found, but he couldn’t understand why. It may have been the fact that for years the wolf had only known the scent of feces and blood, but now it was a calming earthy aroma that surrounded him and a hint of something else he was picking up in the distance. A gentle touch brushed over the marred skin of his face and it felt so nice that he couldn’t hide his happiness and purred while pressing his head further into Tessa’s lap, wanting more. Wet drops fell on his skin, but he thought nothing of it. “Trust me, brother. I will protect you this time,” Tessa whispered in his ear, causing another strange twinge in his mind.