Tessa rushed to shower and change so she and Dainin could join the celebration downstairs. As expected, the gathering was still in full swing with an endless amount of food and music. It was so nice to see everyone enjoying themselves after the weeks of uncertainty. Although Tessa wished the attack never happened, she counted themselves lucky that the beast needed the warriors alive in order to build his army. Otherwise, this may have been a funeral. Her heart tensed with the thought it could have been her own funeral, if it wasn’t for Cadence reacting so quickly.
"We still haven’t seen her,” Tessa’s wolf pointed out as her eyes scanned the room, but she was nowhere to be found. ”Cadence,” she tried through the link, but there was no reply, only silence. Tessa’s chest constricted with worry as she tried to contact Zander, but again, no response. ”Something isn’t right,” her wolf thought. Every worst-case scenario played through Tessa’s mind, just when she thought the worst was over.
Before she could overreact, Tessa spotted her Uncle Tyler from across the ballroom and swiftly made her way towards him, weaving in and out of the bustling crowd. “Uncle, have you seen Cadence or Zander anywhere,” she asked, trying to keep the worry from her tone. She didn’t want to ruin the carefree atmosphere. “I think they were heading to the prison,” he answered, reaching out to another warrior for confirmation. “Yes, Alpha. After Alpha Monroe took you away Beta Turner ordered us to capture the witches until you could decide what to do with them. They’re now in the pack prison,” the warrior informed her. “Thank you,” she replied, turning away to head for the prison herself. ”Why wouldn’t that have been the first place we thought to look,” she scolded herself for being so thoughtless.
On her way to the door, Tessa looked for Dainin and found he was surrounded by her Grandmother and her friends. ”There’s no saving him now. He’s a goner,” her wolf chuckled. They both knew exactly how their interrogation would go. ”When are we going to see pups running around here,” Tessa mimicked to herself, placing her hand on her stomach with a smile. When she snuck a glance at Dainin, she was surprised to see him already watching her. ”I heard that,” he complained through their link and Tessa couldn’t help but laugh out loud, earning strange looks from her pack members.
They weren’t used to seeing her so bubbly, a quality Dainin definitely helped her discover. ”Cadence is at the prisons. If you survive, come meet me,” she teased as she made her way out the door before he could stop her. ”He’d probably tell us “It’s too dangerous”. That’s probably why we are just hearing about the witches now,” her wolf grumbled. She didn’t like the fact that they were left out of the loop, again. Tessa made a mental note to rehash the conversation they had about keeping secrets later as she walked out the door.
The sun was beginning to set and the dimming rays were painting the sky in a soft pink hue. Tessa inhaled the cool fresh air and then took off, shifting into her wolf. The way to the prison was through the thickest part of their territory which made it a fun challenge to navigate at a full run. ”When we’re farther along in this pregnancy, how are you going to cope with being stuck in human form,” Tessa asked her wolf. They both knew shifting could be too stressful and dangerous for the baby after six months. ”I’ll manage. It will all be worth the trouble in the end,” her wolf sighed, imagining their newborn pup safe in their arms.
"Besides, nothing says you can’t do the running in human form,” she pointed out and Tessa agreed. She had every intention to keep her training up to par, pregnant or not. There was no time for slacking and her skills needed to remain sharp. ”Dainin might disagree,” Tessa mentioned, making them both chuckle. They both knew they’d never listen to him whether he agreed or not. ”We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Maybe he’ll spank us next time,” her wolf said with a playful smirk, but her demeanor changed when she sensed trouble in the air.
Arriving at the edge of the clearing, Tessa saw Cadence and Zander standing protectively in front of the pack prison door. Their body language made it clear they were trying to keep someone out, and when Tessa turned to see who it was her eyes narrowed in confusion. A fuming Elijah stood a mere twelve feet away, pacing and pulling at his hair in frustration. It appeared he hasn’t slept in days and still wore blood stained shorts with filth and grime all over his body. “You have no right to deny me entrance,” he challenged Cadence, who refused to budge. ”What is going on,” her wolf asked, but neither of them could decipher what they were witnessing. There had never been ill will between the two before. ”It’s obvious there is more to the story than just the pack’s victory,” Tessa sneered, she was not pleased with how much they had missed since being in the hospital.
“I have every right, traitor,” Cadence spat, with venom dripping from her tone. Tessa could tell she was beyond livid and was fighting with all she had to keep her wolf at bay. Elijah seemed to be taken aback by her declaration, but he still took a challenging step forward. “You can’t blame them,” he declared, pointing to the prison. ”So, it’s the witches he’s defending,” her wolf realized. “They were forced to help that monster,” Elijah continued to argue, with his tone full of desperation, but Cadence showed no mercy.
“Oh, please. They’re witches Elijah. They could have done something to stop that mad man! Instead, they helped him kill countless innocents, wiped out entire packs, and that is unforgivable,” Cadence growled in disgust. Their energies pulsed with an oncoming shift and Tessa knew it was only a matter of time before a brutal altercation would unfold. ”I want to see how far this will go,” her wolf stated and Tessa snuck closer to the group, unnoticed. If Elijah continued to show Cadence disrespect, he deserved everything that was coming to him.
From her new position, Tessa could see Cadence’s body shook as she continued to fight for control against her wolf’s brutal nature. It was very rare for her to succumb to a forced shift, brought on by pure rage, but when it did happen, there were few who stood a chance against her. “Just listen to them. Give them a chance,” Elijah pleaded, taking more steps, but he stopped at the sound of Zander’s warning growl. “No. I don’t care who they are or what their story is. They deserve to die, along with their Master,” Cadence snarled, flashing her canines as her claws extended. Zander pulled her against his body with all his might, trying to hold her back, but she easily broke free, pushing him away. She knew what was coming and by the sinister smile spreading across her face, Tessa knew Elijah may not come out of this alive.
“No,” Elijah roared, shifting into his wolf and charged for Cadence. Cadence let her rage free and shifted into her large brown wolf, charging straight for Elijah. If Elijah had any sense at all he would snap himself out of this blind rage, but it was too late. The two wolves clashed together with so much force the ground shook. Cadence tossed Elijah around like a rag doll, sending blood and fur flying through the air. Elijah tried his best to counter her with attacks of his own, but Tessa could see he couldn’t land a single blow. Zander anxiously paced around the pair, ready to jump in to protect his mate, but Cadence was not the one who needed protection.
Elijah tried his luck by turning on Cadence, aiming his jaws for her neck, but she dodged him fast and sent her claws down, landing a hard blow over his eye and down his snout, drawing more blood. Elijah’s wolf yelped in pain and Tessa watched him try to wipe the blood from his eyes. ”Wrong move,” her wolf said in pure disappointment. They could tell exhaustion was catching up to him, but after all his training, Tessa couldn’t believe he’d leave himself so vulnerable.
Cadence easily used his distraction to her benefit. She took the opportunity to charge at him once more and sent his body flying back until the stone wall of the prison unforgivingly broke his fall. From the sound of his impact, Tessa could hear his shoulder dislocate and there was no doubt ribs would definitely be bruised, if not broken. Elijah laid motionless on the ground as Cadence stalked towards him. When he finally started to regain his senses, it was a moment too late.
Cadence pinned him down by his neck with her large paw against his throat. Her eyes shone with an unquenchable thirst for blood and Elijah’s own eyes grew wide at the realization he was knocking on death’s door. Cadence snarled, displaying her wolf’s sharp teeth in anticipation of the kill. When her jaws were seconds away from snapping his neck, Tessa’s wolf released a ferocious growl stopping her in her tracks. ”Enough,” she commanded through their link and Cadence immediately backed away from her prey, submitting to her Alpha.
Elijah’s wolf growled and made a feeble attempt at attacking Cadence again, but now it was time for Tessa to intervene. Her wolf instantly knocked him back into the wall, pinning him down by his neck, crushing his windpipe with a deep threatening growl. She locked her eyes with his, daring him to fight against her. ”Shift,” Tessa ordered, demanding he submit to her. She could feel his quickened pulse beneath her claws and his shallow breaths as his lungs begged for air. Finally, he stopped struggling and, with a whimper of surrender, Elijah morphed into his human form with his head turned away in submission.
Tessa kept him pinned to the ground by his chest, bringing her bared teeth to his neck to show how easily she could end his life. ”You better have a good explanation for your traitorous behavior, Delta,” she snapped through the mind link as she snapped her jaws, making him jump with fear. Once her wolf was satisfied, she stepped away with a low growl and shifted back to her human form. If Elijah wasn’t her friend, she would have done a lot more damage, but his fate was still to be determined. She had no tolerance for deadly outbursts against other pack members, especially when it was an attack against the leadership.
Elijah gasped for air while rubbing his bruised neck. The left side of his face was marred by the gashes Cadence left and his right arm hung limp at his side, needing to be supported by the other. Tessa could also see a dark purple bruise forming on his side. ”It must be something important if he was willing to die,” her wolf said, but they both felt no remorse for the beating he took. He was lucky Tessa arrived when she did, or he would have been a corpse.
Elijah took a few staggering steps as he tried to maintain his balance. He slowly looked to Tessa with his defeated red rimmed, bloodshot eyes, but Tessa could see a glimmer of hope shining through. “I do, Alpha. I swear,” he said in a hoarse tone. Cadence shifted beside Tessa without a scratch and scoffed. “She doesn’t deserve it Elijah. How can you look past her crimes and forgive her? They tried to kill all of us. Death is too kind for them. They should rot,” Cadence argued, in a final attempt to make him see reason.
Elijah growled in response. “He forced them,” Elijah started, but Tessa raised her hand, stopping them both. “Stand down, all of you,” she ordered. She was not about to let their emotions delay her from getting to the bottom of this any longer. Tessa met all of their eyes until she landed on Cadence. “Explain,” she ordered her Beta and by the look in Cadence’s eyes and the uneasy way Elijah shifted on his feet, Tessa knew she was in for one hell of a story. “I’ll show you,” Cadence said, opening the mind link to share her memories.