Chapter Fourteen: Who's the Real Kidnapper?
I ran as fast as my feet could take me. I tripped a few times, falling and scrapping my knees on the pavement. I cursed at myself for not being able to shift and help Seb, but I knew I would be no use if I was vulnerable.
As I ran away from the fight, guard wolves ran past me to the fight. I pushed my limbs faster, already feeling out of breath. My legs stung and my feet were throbbing, but I was almost at the gates.
“Serena!” I heard my name and saw Cal sprinting towards me. Without any warning he scooped me up over his shoulder and sprinted back to the castle gates. Once inside I was put back on my feet. I felt a hand come down on my good shoulder and looked up at Cal.
“No,” I said immediately.
“I have to go help,” he told me.
I looked through the gates to where Seb was fighting alongside the guard wolves. “Go get Seb and bring him back here, and then you come back too and—”
He gave me a flat look, “That’s not happening. We have to defend what is ours.”
I nodded, “Be safe then, don’t come back in pieces.”
Cal laughed uneasily, “I’ll try not to.” Cal seemed to sense how worried was and said. “They say that one royal wolf is equivalent to ten normal ones. If that’s true than we outnumber them.”
I sighed, “But if you win, my sister loses.”
Cal nodded, “I get it, you’re torn. But you have to choose the side you’re on now, Serena.”
I sucked in a breath, “I stick with my mate.”
Cal grinned, “That’s my girl. Now, you stay in the castle. The Queen is upstairs in her chambers, go and join her.”
I looked out over the fight and nodded, “Alright. Be safe.” Cal kissed my cheek and ran off through the gates. Before I could blink he had transformed into his golden wolf and was sprinting towards his brother.
I quickly turned and ran into the castle. I started for the stairs when someone grabbed my arm. “Girly, where do you think you are going?”
My stomach dropped as I turned to look at the Golden Man that had brought me here, “I’m going to sit with the Queen while the fight happens.”
“Are you now? Don’t you know her chambers are the other way?” he sneered.
I swallowed nervously, “I know, I just wanted to stop by the Prince’s room first. My clothes are stained with blood and I wanted to change.”
The Golden Man squinted his eyes, “You don’t need to change, Miss. Not at a time like this.” I was about to reply but someone beat me to it.
“Goldstein!” the Golden Man spun around to find the person who had called his name. Another guard wolf was standing in the hall, gaping at him.
“Yes?” the Golden Man hissed. His eyes were still narrowed at me.
“Are you going to stand here and talk to girls or are you going to come and help your men fight?” the guy asked snidely.
The Golden Man growled, “I’m coming.” The man scampered off down the hallway and the Golden Man turned his attention back to me. “Stay with the Queen, Miss. Hope. We don’t need to have you get lost, the Prince would not like that.” He gave me another stern look before he turned and walked after the other man.
Without even needing to think about it I turned and ran. My shoulder was screaming at me but I pushed through the pain and sprinted up the steps. I came to a large window and looked out over the battle. My sister wasn’t among the wolves who were fighting.
“Rayne,” I hissed under my breath. I turned and headed towards Seb’s room. I ducked into the closet and changed into hiking boots, loose cargo pants and a brown long sleeve. I pulled my hair into a ponytail so it wouldn’t be in my way and headed to the back door of the castle.
Due to the fight, there weren’t any guard wolves at the back door so I was free to leave. I know I had promised Cal that I would wait with the Queen, but that lady was too obnoxious to spend five minutes with.
I crept through the gardens silently. The hair on the back of my neck and arms was raised due to the tension of the silence. Every now and then I could hear growls and snaps of jaws but the fighting was mostly in the background.
I climbed over the back fence and landed with a loud thump on the ground. I wasn’t exactly graceful but I got the job done. I felt eyes on me and sucked in a breath as I surveyed the trees around me. All I could see was the cloud my breath made in front of my face.
I walked further into the woods, making sure to keep my eyes open and my hands free. A twig snapped to my left and I spun to see a squirrel leaping onto an old oak. By the time I swung my gaze forward again, Rayne was standing there in her human form. I jumped, startled by her sudden appearance. Of course, werewolves aren’t heard in the forest, they would never make the mistake of snapping a stray twig.
“Serena,” my sister said curtly.
“Rayne,” I hissed.
She stepped forward and frowned, “It took me a long time to find you, sis.”
“You shouldn’t have started looking in the first place.”
She laughed, “What was I to do, Ser? Mom and Dad made me promise I would take care of you. I promised on my life I would keep you safe. And then I had to watch as you were towed away from me.”
I kicked a stray rock and looked up at her, “I know how it looked...”
“You were screaming, Serena. You were crying and screaming and that man just took you away. He shoved a picture up to your face and decided you were his to take. That’s not right Serena.”
I looked her in the eye, “I know it wasn’t right. But it’s what the Moon Goddess had planned for me... among other things.”
Rayne’s face went scarlet, “Please tell me you don’t believe in that Moon Goddess crap! You seriously believe she intended for you to get towed away by the King’s men? Wake up, Serena.”
I growled, “Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the most graceful way to handle it. But I was brought here, where I met Seb—Sebastian. He’s my mate, Rayne. It’s my fate to spend the rest of my life with him.”
She rolled her eyes, “So cliché to stay with the one who abuses you, Serena.”
“He doesn’t hurt me anymore!” I defended.
Rayne’s eyes widened, “But he used to? I will kill him for hurting you.”
I bit my lip, “Seb has been through a lot, despite being the Prince, his life hasn’t been easy. His brother skipped out on him and the only person he had to idolize was his father. His sister was murdered here in the castle and that just made him sour and unable to express himself. He’s not perfect, I know that. He still needs my help. But he’s trying, he’s trying so hard for my sake. And I love him, Rayne.”
“What about what you’ve been through? Are you saying his past is an excuse?”
I shook my head, “No! He doesn’t get off easy with me, you can believe that. But I can understand him and I can help him because of that. I—I know that it seems bad. But some of it has been truly wonderful.”
She narrowed her eyes at me, “Then what the hell happened to your shoulder? Why is blood seeping through your clothing as we speak now?”
I looked at my shirt and noticed that she was right. The stitches must have come undone while I was running. “I got hurt.”
“That’s rather obvious,” she said.
“It wasn’t Seb,” I told her.
“Than who was it, Ser?”
I sighed, “It was the King, he has a temper and he knew hurting me would get to Seb. It doesn’t matter, Seb got him back. And soon he won’t be King, it will be either Seb or Cal.”
Rayne’s whole body stiffened, “Do you know how wrong that is, Serena?”
I nodded, “I know—”
“No—you don’t understand. That man is supposed to protect us all. Yet he’s attacking his son’s mate. That’s wrong, that’s barbaric. He does nothing! He did nothing while the Black Luna pack destroyed ours. The King sat by and watched as the Sun Warriors killed wolves across the country. What do the royals do? What do they do to help? Nothing! They just strut around and collect women from packs to give to their sons!”
I licked my lips, “When Seb is King he will do more! He already has all these plans.”
Rayne spat on the ground, “Plans aren’t the same as actions. He can plan all he want, doesn’t mean anything is going to get done. He’s going to be exactly like his father. Vile and cold.”
I growled, “He isn’t like his dad!”
Rayne smirked, “Cool it there, Serena. You might just shift.”
I snorted, “I’m never going to shift, I’m a stunted wolf.”
She shrugged, “You never know.” I watched as she took a few steps closer to me. “Do you know how much I’ve been worrying about you? I’ve missed you so much, I started looking as soon as you were out of my sight.”
I sighed and closed the distance between us before pulling her into a hug. It was so nice to hug my sister. She was solid and real and for the first time in months, I felt safe. “I missed you too. I called a week ago to invite you here.”
Rayne laughed, “I got the invitation.”
“It was for one,” I said bleakly. Rayne reached up and patted my cheek with one hand while the other stroked my hair.
“I’m sorry, Serena.”
I smiled and put my hand over her hand, “It’s alright. At least now we can just call off the fight before anyone else gets hurt.” It was a huge relief to know that we had fixed this stupid fight.
Rayne smiled and laughed, “Oh, Serena, I really have missed you.” And then something hard hit the back of my head and I was out.
When I came around, I was definitely groggy. I tasted some sort of metallic taste in my mouth and tried to spit it out. I groaned and cried out as pain flamed in my shoulder and head. I just couldn’t seem to catch a break. I felt like I had passed out a lot lately.
“Serena,” I heard my name and blinked a few times before opening up my eyes. For a moment, everything was blurry and bright and I was unable to see anything. “Serena get up!”
I sat up and groaned as my head span, I felt like I had been hit over the head with a rock. “Who’s there?” I slurred.
“It’s me,” Rayne hissed.
“What?” I blinked and rubber my eyes and watched as Rayne’s face came into view.
“Sorry about hitting you,” she said, “I hit you a lot harder than I had planned to.”
I reached up and touched my head, there was a large bump. “You hit me? With what?”
Rayne winced, “A rock.” For the first time I took my attention off of Rayne and looked around. I was in some sort of trailer.
“Where are we?”
“We’re in a trailer that’s being pulled by a truck,” she informed me. I looked around and noticed there were other people with us in the large space. Sky was sitting beside Rayne and there was about twenty other people all crammed together.
“Where are all the other wolves?” I asked. There were a lot more than twenty at the fight.
Rayne shrugged, “Most ran off, some were injured and didn’t make it back to the trailer. I don’t know, this is all that showed up.”
I frowned, “What will happen to the ones that got hurt?”
“I don’t know,” Rayne said, “I guess they’ll become guard wolves for the royals.”
“Why are we here?”
“The fight is over,” Rayne informed me, “Now we’re going home.”
I felt my heart hammering in my chest, “Home? No, Rayne I thought—”
“Thought what? That I was going to let you stay with the Prince while he abuses you and his father nearly tries to take out a chunk of your shoulder?”
I licked my lips, “I thought you were going to let me choose what I want to do with my life. I have to be with my mate, Rayne. He’s my other half.”
Rayne rolled her eyes, “Some wolves get so caught up in this cosmic bullshit. You don’t need a man, Serena. You’re strong enough to deal on your own.”
I stood up and wobbled as the trailer shook, “No! I’m strong enough to not need you anymore, Rayne! I’m not the same as I was a few months ago. I’ve grown up quite a bit, and I know what I want in life. And I want to be with Sebastian. He’s my mate, and I’m his.”
Rayne stood up as well, “That was beautiful, sis. Really touching. But let me get something straight, I know what is best for you. I’ve been taking care of you for years. You have Stockholm syndrome Serena, you’re not thinking clearly.”
I snorted, “Stockholm Syndrome? Really? He’s my mate, I can’t help but love him. I’m not his captor either.”
“Did he give you the choice to leave?”
I blinked, almost feeling startled by the question. “I... uh—he—”
“He didn’t, did he? He was perfectly content with locking you up.”
“It wasn’t like he was treating me bad!” I argued. “I had everything I wanted at the Palace.”
“Except freedom, were you even allowed outside?” Rayne asked.
“Yes,” I told her, “I was allowed outside.” I balled my hands into fists and said, “Who’s the real kidnapper here? You’re the one who hit me over the head with a rock and brought me here against my will!” Rayne snorted and shook her head and I realised then that no matter what I said she had no intentions of letting me go back to Seb. “How long have we been driving?”
“Ten minutes tops,” Rayne said. “It was hard work dragging you to the car. Now, I admit we got off to a slow start but I really doubt—” Rayne was interrupted by a loud bang that sent the trailing swerving.
“What was that?” Sky cried out. Another bang rocked the entire trailer and everyone inside hit the far wall. I groaned as my injured shoulder collided with the wall of the trailer.
“Everyone!” Rayne screamed, “Stay calm!” I noticed than that the trailer had stopped moving forward.
“Rayne,” I whispered, “I think—” The trailer was jostled once more and everyone went completely silent.
“Give me back my mate!” A voice screamed. I sat frozen, not believing my ears.
The voice didn’t belong to Seb.
It was Cal.