“Miss. Excuse me. Miss.”
I snap my eyes open with a sharp breath as a strong hand rubs against my shoulder. My face is pressed up against a window and I watch in confusion as a small group of girls stand around a wooden table drinking from bottles.
I turn my head, meeting the eyes of a strange older gentleman with grey hair and a small beard.
“See? She’s fine.”
Sky and Dominic sit opposite me in the booth. I lean my head back and blink, rubbing my head slowly.
“Well, I just wanted to make sure,” the man says. “You don’t look very well. Shall I bring you some water?”
“Yes, bring us some water,” Sky says. “I’m thirsty. And hungry. Could you bring us something that lists all of the food you provide to your customers?”
“The menu is right there.” The man points down to the table before squinting at her and walking away.
I look back to the window. I see cars and giant trucks driving past on the road. There isn’t a tree in sight.
“Everyone’s been staring at us since we carried you in here,” Sky says. “It’s like they think we’ve abducted you or something.” She slides the menu across to me. “Could you tell us what they serve? We can’t read.”
I blink over and over. This has to be a dream. I can’t actually be here, in a diner, so far away from the woods. I hear the boisterous sounds of boys laughing together and it makes me clench my teeth.
“Where are we?”
“Good question,” Dominic mumbles.
“I think it’s a social building for people to be loud and eat,” Sky says as she lifts her head up to look around.
I glare at her. “It’s a diner. But where are we?”
“I have no idea,” she says. “We can’t read the signs.”
I slap my head. “How long have I been unconscious?”
“Two hours,” Dominic says. “Maybe three. We can’t tell the time either.”
“This can’t be happening,” I mutter. “I can’t believe he did this to me.”
“He was just doing what’s best for you,” Sky says. “He told us to tell you that he’s sorry.”
“Sorry? For making me pass out and handing me over to strangers?” I say. “He took my choice away!” I bang my fist onto the table.
Sky leans back with a smirk. “You call that anger?”
The sky is turning red outside. The sun is setting. Sky and Dominic don’t seem concerned about it which makes me even more confused. They turn their gaze to the window. The waiter brings over three glasses of water and I sip it nervously.
“Our alpha is very controlling,” Sky says. “Once he realizes that we’ve left then he’ll come looking for us. Not him directly but he’ll send a group.”
“They won’t come near human villages,” Dominic says. “It’s best we stick to populated trails.”
“The sun is setting,” I say. “Why aren’t you panicking?”
They both stare at me simultaneously. It’s a little creepy. Sky looks around and checks in various directions before pulling a small plastic bag out of her jacket pocket. I lean closer to get a better look. It looks like the same herb that Thorn used to heal my arm.
“It stops us from transitioning,” she says. “But it only lasts for one night. We’ll have to take it every morning.”
“Until we eventually run out,” Dominic says.
It’s the cure. The herb that brought Thorn and his pack to this country in the first place. She has it right in her hand.
“Thorn has been looking for that for over a century.”
Sky nods. “Many werewolves have. It only grows in one place and it is one of our pack’s deepest secrets. Werewolves are drawn to this part of the world to look for it, that’s why he gave you that chain.” She glances down to my chest.
I look down, startled to see a circular pendant laying on top of my shirt. I didn’t even realize it was there. I rub it gently, sprinkling pieces of dust onto my knees.
“What is it?” I look curiously at the spiral markings on the iron medallion. The markings don’t seem to make a clear picture of anything, they are more like scribbles, but there is a slight hint of importance to them.
“It is the alpha’s seal,” Sky says. “It is worn by him until he finds his mate and then he gifts it to her for protection against other packs. When a werewolf sees the seal, they know that hurting you would ignite a war that they couldn’t dream of. It is well known among our kind.”
“But Thorn isn’t an alpha anymore. He stepped down.”
“He was,” Dominic says. “He was one of the most famous alphas in the world. He tore through half of the world looking for the cure. He started wars and slaughtered his way through packs to protect humans. His history is fascinating. Hasn’t he told you it?”
I shake my head. He never told me anything about his history before the curse, apart from what happened with his parents. I don’t know much about his war with Atticus. I frown as I realize that I hardly know him at all.
“Blood alphas can never be truly replaced,” Sky says. “Another leader would have taken his place when he stepped down but Thorn will always be their alpha. Thorn merely has to walk back in there and declare himself and they’ll follow him like the last century never happened. The leader will retaliate of course and it’ll be a fight to the death.”
“That’s how our bloodline became second in command,” Dominic chimes in. “Malese’s child became a blood alpha but he stepped down and allowed another to take his place. His children and grandchildren were too scared to challenge the new alpha and so a new bloodline was introduced.”
“But our father is still the blood alpha and always will be,” Sky says sadly. “Until Cole executes him.”
“I don’t get it,” I say. “If your father is the blood alpha then why doesn’t he just claim it back?”
“Our father,” she corrects. “And because this new line of alphas are disgustingly evil. Cole said that he’d slit our throats and hang us from a tree if our father ever tried.”
“The last thing that our father said to us was to find you,” Dominic says. “He knew that we wouldn’t be able to return if we did. He wanted us to get out.”
“Werewolves that abandon their packs are called truants. Some alphas let them go while others hunt them down. If our father dies then Dominic will be the blood alpha, the rightful leader. Cole won’t allow him to live now that he has an excuse to kill him.”
I look at Dominic and he drops his eyes. It looks as though we’re all being hunted and none of us are safe. I guess we only have each other now. Though I do believe them that I am their sister and their parents did give me up, I still regard them as strangers. It’s apparent that they have a strong closeness, a bond that I shared with my own brother. Someone that I have years of memories with. My parents have never felt like my parents. I’ve never felt a connection to them. It wouldn’t bother me at all if I never saw them again.
But Sky and Dominic’s parents? If they’re truly my blood relatives—truly the part that I’ve always felt was missing from my life—then they’re about to die and I’ll never meet them. All I have ever wanted is to belong to something. To have a family that cares, that would treat me as their equal. Over the last few weeks, I found that missing piece in Thorn. He became my family, my home, my everything.
Now we’re apart and I have to start over again. Thorn will forever be trapped in those woods and the two werewolves in front of me will stop me if I try and make my way back.
It’s not possible that this is over. I refuse to give up. There must be another way to break the curse.
“Are you three going to actually order anything?” a voice growls from my left.
My fingers clench around the edge of the table as I am plunged into a blurry vision of trees. It’s like I am back in the woods but when I look up, I can see the siblings staring at me with concern.
“Devon?” Sky whispers.
I look at the waiter. “Can you bring me a pen and paper please? It’s urgent.”
“Sure. But after that you better order or leave.”
“We will. Thank you.”
“What’s going on?” Sky asks.
“The mating bond,” I say. “I can see through his eyes. Can he see through mine?”
“Yes. That’s usually what happens.”
“I knew it.”
I try to keep the connection open as long as I can before the waiter drops the pen and paper onto the table. He isn’t showing me much, it looks as though he’s walking.
“I don’t know if he can see,” I say. “He isn’t reacting.”
I try anyway. I tap the pen for a few moments as I deliberate with myself over what to write. There are a thousand things that I want to say. I want him to know how mad I am but he probably already knows that.
I am going to find a way to break the curse, I write. I will never give up. Stay safe. I love you too.
Thorn comes to a stop beside a tree and I have the delightful sight of watching his hand tap against it. He’s reacting. He can see. He starts twisting his finger, giving me some kind of command before he continues walking.
I turn my face towards the window. My own sad and deflated reflection looks back at me. He crashes to his knees and I see his long fingers claw against the leaves as the transition takes a hold of him. I reach my hand out to the glass. It is so strange. Merging the visions together, it’s as though I am reaching into his sight and taking his hand. I am right there with him, the way it’s always been.
The connection stops suddenly. His hand is taken from me and I am just looking at my own reflection in a loud diner.
“No,” I cry. “Come back.” I close my eyes to try and open the connection again but I can’t find it. It always just appears to me. I can’t control it. I bang my hand against the glass frantically. “Come back!”
“Well?” the waiter demands from behind me.
I see Sky point her finger at me in the reflection of the window. Her eyes are wide and afraid. “We’ll have whatever cures that.”