Part of me was relieved to see Jayce in his wolf form raging towards us but the other part of me was terrified. He was enormous and he was beautiful, a sight to behold, designed for killing, tailored for winning. I glanced at the grey wolf who stared at Jayce, baring his fangs. The wolf didn’t stand a chance, Jayce was twice his size, easily.
Suddenly the grey wolf stepped towards me. Before I knew what was happening his large paw struck me in the chest and sent me hurtling through the air. Pain shot through my head as I landed in the grass, striking a small rock in the process. My vision started to go dark as I tried to focus on the two beasts, battling to the death only metres away.
I shook my head and tried not to think about the sharp ache in my skull. I fought the darkness, I couldn’t lose consciousness. I knew I had to stay awake. I pushed myself up in the grass, groaning. I watched as the grey wolf turned to look at me. I stopped. There was something in its eyes I hadn’t seen before, something...human.
The grey wolf side stepped just as Jayce was about to jump on him again.
I gasped as the grey wolf slashed across Jayce’s face with his claws. Jayce was catapulted through the air and landed with a thud. I went to move to him and was suddenly stopped. The other wolf cut me off, standing in front of me. I heard a small whine escape him and my eyes drifted down to one of his shoulders. A large gaping wound that oozed blood and matted fur stretched from the top of his shoulder and ended halfway down his front leg. I could see the pain in the wolf’s eyes as he looked at me. There was no anger in his eyes, just pain...and something else.
I reached forward. Something inside me urged me to touch him. Rogue was silent but I could feel her willing me forward, she needed to feel whatever this was too.
Just as I made contact with his face Jayce came powering towards us, tearing the grey wolf away from me and smashing his body to the ground.
“Jayce! No! Don’t kill him!” I screamed.
It was no use. Jayce didn’t hear a word I said. I felt the sharp pain in my head again and winced. It took me a moment to realise that the pain wasn’t just in my head. My hands felt like they were on fire, my back felt like it was being slashed with shards of glass, my legs felt like the bones were...breaking.
It is time!
I screamed in pain as I realised what was happening. I had completely forgotten about my twentieth and clearly midnight was here already. The pain was unbearable. I clawed at my arms and chest in desperation, I needed the pain to stop. I heard the bones cracking and popping and my clothes tore from my body.
Then I remembered what Moira had said. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, focusing on the shift. I stopped fighting the inevitable and gave into it, allowing my body to do what it needed to do. I concentrated on every part of my body and internalised what was taking place. The pain in my hands as my claws tore free. The pain in my jaw as it elongated and teeth burst through. The pain in my back as my vertebrae shifted and I took on the form of a wolf.
I opened my eyes and looked ahead. Jayce, my stunning, vicious, protective, loyal mate stood on top of the grey wolf. His teeth embedded in the wolf’s neck as blood dripped everywhere. I should have been rejoicing at Jayce’s display of strength and power but instead I had a pain in my heart as I watched the life slip away from the grey wolf.
As his movements slowed I thought back to what I had felt when I had touched the wolf’s face prior to my shift. I had felt familiarity, I had felt common ground I had felt common pain. I had felt common...blood.
Oh my god!
My wolf sprung to life and I leapt forward in the direction of Jayce. As the realisation ripped through me of what was happening in front of my eyes a low and pained growl tore through my soul.
Jayce let go of the grey wolf, it’s body dropping limp to the ground. Jayce turned his head to look at me, his eyes clouding over momentarily with pride as he saw me thundering towards him. It was too late by the time he realised what I was doing. I jumped into the air and sent my body crashing forward into Jayce’s, using all my power and momentum to get him away from the grey wolf.
Jayce was thrown to the other side of the clearing and I approached the wolf. His breathing was slow and blood pooled on the grass around his broken body. I cried as I nuzzled his head. I couldn’t believe it but I knew in my heart that the wolf that lay in front of me, the wolf that was about to die in front of my eyes, murdered by my mate...was my father.
I watched in confusion as Quinn’s wolf approached the grey wolf on the ground. She seemed to cry in pain as she nuzzled him lovingly. I stirred with jealously. There was a connection between the two and I didn’t like it.
I huffed and pawed at the dirt, I was about to make a move towards them when I felt a hand on my fur. I turned to the side to see Moira next to me. Cameron, Matt and Brad slowly moving up to flank her. Moira was in her human form and the others still as their wolves.
“Leave them” she whispered as she stroked my back, trying to calm me. I was confused, what did Moira know that I didn’t?
There had better be a good reason why my mate is over there cuddling with another wolf that tried to claw my face off.
Moira nodded, acknowledging that she’d heard my mind link.
“There is a good reason Jayce” she answered, a sad smile on her face, “that’s her father”
My ears pricked up as I looked back at Quinn. She lay down in the grass next to the grey wolf, licking the wound on his neck.
Are you sure?
“Positive. I would know Mason’s wolf anywhere”
I took a step back and shifted into my human form. Moira threw me a T-shirt and pants from her bag and I put them on.
“Go to her Jayce, but be careful” Moira said, looking at me, “remember we don’t know what Quinn is exactly and she is in pain. Pain...as you know...can make you do things that you may regret”
I nodded and started walking towards the two wolves. Quinn’s wolf was unlike anything I had ever seen. She was bigger than most female wolves. She was long and slender and moved with such agility and grace. Her coat was a magnificent silver, I had never seen a silver wolf before. Her eyes remained their shade of ice blue, giving her an almost ghostly appearance.
“Quinn?” I called gently as I approached her.
I heard her cries stop and she began to growl as she turned to face me. She stood up on all fours but remained in a crouched position, as if she were eyeing me off as prey.
“Quinn. I know you’re hurting. I didn’t know...I thought he was going to kill you”
Quinn stalked towards me, her white teeth on full display. I kept my stance casual and relaxed, as hard as that was. I didn’t want her to think I was coming in to finish off what I had started with Mason.
Mason. How could I not have known? Why did he attack me? His scent had been different, almost devoid of humanity but if he had truly lost his humanity then he would have torn Quinn’s throat out the second he had a chance.
The silver wolf closed in on me, her blue eyes never leaving mine. I could tell she was struggling with what she was feeling. Quinn was furious for what I had done to her father but her wolf was wanting to submit to me, I was her mate and Alpha after all. She shook her head and growled again. She planted her feet firmly on the ground and her body began to shake, the sound of bones breaking being the only thing to be heard in the still night air.
Quinn was shifting back into her human, this was a good thing. She was giving in, she was submitting to me.
Just as I was about to move closer to her, I stopped. I felt my face pale and my breath catch in my throat. What the hell was happening?
Quinn’s wolf was shifting but she wasn’t shifting into a human. I stared at the animal in front of me as it crouched low in the grass, taking my brain a moment to register.
“What the fuck?”
I heard the other wolves start to growl behind me. They saw her too and they weren’t impressed. Different shifter species did not associate with one another. Epic battles had been fought between shifter species for as long as they had been around.
I stared at the panther as she paced back and forth. Her coat was the same colour as her wolf’s. Once again, Quinn was like nothing I’d ever seen. Her tail flicked in annoyance as she stared me down.
I was just about to speak when a low groan came from Mason. He was still alive and in a considerable amount of pain. Quinn turned to Mason and padded back over to him, nudging is face.
I walked a few steps towards them and the panther spun around. Before I had time to react she leapt into the air, her two front paws landing on my chest as she slammed me to the ground. Quinn hissed again menacingly. I could hear my wolves growling behind me and Moira’s voice as she tried to hold them back.
“Quinn. It’s ok” I whispered as she continued to hold me down.
Suddenly her head shot up and she growled as a large tan wolf came charging towards us.
I tried to mind link my Beta but he blocked me out. His eyes set on the panther above me. I attempted to lift my body up but Quinn refused to budge. I knew she wasn’t going to hurt me, if she was going to then she would have already. Her claws remained retracted the whole time, even as Cameron’s large wolf howled and advanced on her.
I considered shifting back into my wolf but I could tell he was extremely torn about the fact his mate was also a panther. If I shifted and Quinn decided to pick a fight, I didn’t know if my wolf would hold back.
Quinn’s panther began to shake again, she jumped off me as her body cracked and broke for the third time. She cried out in pain, I could tell the shifts were taking their toll. I stood up and moved in front of Cameron, putting my hands out to stop his approach.
“Stop Beta! That’s an order!” I yelled.
Cameron stopped dead in his tracks and tore at the grass in front of him, not happy with my command but also unable to defy me.
Jayce. Turn around.
Matt’s voice echoed in my head and I turned on my heal, coming face to face with a ten foot tall silver grizzly bear. Once again I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Quinn could shift into all three shifter species, I had no idea how to react. My wolf howled internally as he struggled to grasp the reality of what his mate really was.
Quinn’s bear moved forward. She locked eyes with Cameron’s wolf and they both growled aggressively at one another. I stepped between them and put my arms out. This could end up being a blood bath and at this stage my bets were on Quinn to come out on top.
“Stop! Quinn, look at me!”
We all turned to see Moira. She had got around us undetected by Quinn and was knelt down next to Mason. Quinn dropped down on all fours and stared at Moira.
“Quinn, your father is still alive...barely. I think I can help him but I need your help”
The bear tilted her head to the side, taking in what Moira was saying.
“Quinn you need to shift back to human. If you want to save Mason then we need to end this power play now!”
I watched as the bear nodded. Relief washed over me and I let go of the breath that I didn’t know I’d been holding. Quinn closed her eyes and the shift started to take place. I cringed as her bones broke once more and eventually she stood in her human form in front of me.
I quickly ran over to my mate as her body swayed, catching her just in time. The poor girl was exhausted, she had nothing left.
“Shhhh. It’s ok Quinn” I whispered as I stroked her face, cradling her naked body in my arms, “I’ve got you”.