Thorn (Werewolf)

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Chapter Thirty

“We can’t accept that.”

“Why not?” Sky protests, staring at the waiter in confusion.

The waiter passes her the bill back. “Because it’s over a hundred years old.”

I cross my arms as I observe her rooting back through the bag that Thorn packed for me. I wasn’t hungry but the siblings ordered a giant pizza that I took a few slices out of. I warned Sky that he’d come back and ask for money. After educating them on what ‘money’ actually meant, she found some curled up notes in the bag.

The two of them are like aliens. I don’t think they’ve ever left the mountain before today. They know everything when it comes to werewolves but hardly anything about the human world.

Sky can’t read so she keeps passing me the bills to inspect. The paper is crispy and smells strange. I’ve never seen bills like these. They are well-preserved but they’re from a different lifetime.

“They’re all the same,” I say.

“This is ridiculous,” Sky mutters, eyeing the waiter angrily, though I’m starting to think that he’s the owner. “She says it’s money so why can’t you accept it?”

“Let me see that bill again,” he says.

“I said it’s ancient money,” I mumble.

The owner takes the bill in his hand and inspects it closely. I can tell what he’s thinking, he’s thinking that he can probably still gain value from it. Value that is worth much more than one pizza and three coffees.

“On second thought, I’ll accept it.”

Sky is so confused. “But you just said-”

“He’s going to accept it,” I say. “Let it go.”

“Fine.”

The owner walks away and Sky finally relaxes. I reach over and I take the bag from her hand. He packed it well. There are clothes, food, bottles of water, herbs, money and one of his books. As I dig deeper, I feel something sharp at the bottom. A blade. He always said that he’d give me one if I ever went out into the world on my own. This bag summarizes my entire time with Thorn.

I finger the medallion around my chest. This was what he thought would be ultimate protection. He doesn’t know how many other werewolf packs are in the area and neither does Sky or Dominic but they’re just as paranoid about it as I am.

“Do you know how lucky you are?” Sky says as she watches me rub the chain. “Every female werewolf on the planet wants to wear one of those.”

“Do you?” I say.

“Being mated to an alpha would certainly make life easier,” she sighs.

“So werewolves can still mate? Thorn didn’t know if losing it only applied to his pack or not.”

“It only applied to his pack,” she says. “They were cursed that way, the rest of us can still mate. There’s only a few that are mated to each other on the mountain, ours are still out there. I guess being loyal to your pack means having to sacrifice your own happiness.”

“Not anymore,” Dominic says, smiling at her.

“No,” Sky says. “We’re free now.” She drops her eyes and frowns.

“You’re worried about your parents?”

Our parents,” she says. She keeps doing that. “Yes. Saving you comes first but not knowing if they’ve already been executed is not making the situation better.”

“Cole has probably force fed them the herb,” Dominic says. “So they’ll be trapped in their human forms.”

“Were they…?” I take a deep breath as I swallow my nerve. They both glance up and wait patiently for me to spit it out. “Were they there? Did I meet them?”

She shakes her head. “They were tracking Thorn with Cole. You didn’t meet them. Cole already knew that the eclipse was going to happen. Alphas can sense them. Cole likes to assert dominance over other alphas so hunting Thorn was like an exciting game to him. I’m glad that Thorn was smarter.”

Cole sounds like a joy to meet. Even hearing stories about him makes me afraid. They are scared of him too. I can see it in their eyes. I don’t think those that leave his pack ever make it very far.

I’m starting to become very self-aware of werewolves and the world that they exist in. The more I learn, the more intrigued I become.

“Tell me more about the witch,” I whisper. “Where is she buried?”

They exchange a look of nervous silence. Dominic shakes his head at her.

“Malese isn’t dead,” Sky says, ignoring her brother. “She’s alive.”

“What? That’s impossible. She’d be-”

“One hundred and fifty-six years old,” Sky says. “Yes. They can slow their aging.”

“Are we just telling her all of our pack’s secrets now?” Dominic hisses. “Malese wants her identity to remain hidden.”

“She’s our sister,” Sky says. “She deserves to know. And we’ve left the pack.”

“She might be our sister but Malese wanted her to die,” Dominic says. “Our parents were meant to kill her so that the curse could never be broken. Protecting her will anger the witch and all of our ancestors.”

I understand Dominic’s point but all I can focus on is that Malese is alive. If I could somehow find her—meet with her—then I might be able to convince her to reverse the spell she put on Thorn and his whole pack.

Sky rolls her eyes. “What harm can it do?”

“I need to find her,” I say. “Where is she?”

“See?” Dominic says. “Now she’s going to look for her.”

Sky looks back to me thoughtfully. I must look desperate because she’s actually considering it.

“You’d be wasting your time,” she says. “She won’t let werewolves anywhere near her.”

“But we’re her descendants. It’s different,” I say.

“Devon, she left her child to grow up on a mountain without her and ran into the human world. She doesn’t give a shit about us. We don’t know where she is. Only Cole does. He meets with her once a year to update her on the curse but even that’s vague.”

“You must know something.”

“I’m sorry. We don’t. Only those that Cole trusts would know and he never really trusted our father.”

I believe that she doesn’t know but it doesn’t help. Finding Malese is my only lead on breaking the curse. I can’t just let it go. I pretend to though. I listen to the sounds of teenagers shouting at each other and I watch young couples hold hands and kiss through the window. Even before this happened, I was never a part of this world. I was never allowed out after dark and I certainly wasn’t allowed to hang out at diners. If these teenagers knew that I was high-born then I’d be targeted.

I was almost their Queen. Most of them don’t care about the royals or which potential will be chosen. They’ll continue to get together and have fun and ignore the politics. It’s their parents that will be terrified.

We leave the diner several minutes later after the siblings started complaining of headaches due to the excessive noise.

The night is calm and quiet. I try to pay attention to the signs but I have no idea where we are. I’ve never heard of any of these places. I think that we’re in a town outside of the central city but the city could be miles away.

We pass dozens of homeless people as they aimlessly wander the streets in a daze carrying plastic bags and glass bottles. It saddens me to see humanity like this. I was always shielded from it but this is the true reality. Some of them are slumped against walls with their heads leaning against each other and Sky's face tells me what I already fear; they're dead.

I try to push on from the haunting image. Around the corner, there is a more cheerful part of the town.

Just like Thorn, Sky and Dominic don’t feel the cold easily but I am hugging my thick sweater tightly. We pass a street of lit houses. I’ve never seen houses so small. I grew up around mansions. The siblings have never seen houses at all. They are in awe of everything.

“What is that?” Sky says, pointing across the street to the hole beneath the pavement.

“It’s a drain.”

“Drain,” Sky repeats, turning her head. “And that?”

“A mailbox.”

She stops and starts inspecting one at the bottom of someone’s yard. “Peculiar. What is it for?”

“It’s for mail,” I say. “Letters that people write to each other.”

“What is that noise?” she says. She twists her head around and starts walking oddly. “Dominic, do you hear that?”

Dominic twists his head too and they both walk ahead of me. I smile at them as they stop in front of a house and stare up at a bedroom window.

“I don’t even want to know what you’re listening to,” I say as I pass them.

We turn a corner and I see crowds of people gathering in the distance. I start counting on my fingers, trying to figure out what day it is. Dammit. It’s Saturday.

It looks and sounds as though the entire town is out tonight. Sky and Dominic aren’t afraid of human crowds but I start secretly panicking. The King could have shared my face far and wide across the country. He could be offering a reward for my capture. Any of them could recognize me.

This is the risk now. There’s no going back.

Sky has a natural sister intuition. She places her hand to my arm and gently snaps me out of my fear.

“Thorn said that you were being hunted,” she says. “We don’t have to stay with crowds.”

“It’s fine,” I say. “We’ll be safer.”

“From werewolves maybe. Why is the King looking for you?”

I fold my arms and I pace myself towards the crowds slowly. I want to tell them but I also don’t want to discuss something so sensitive this openly.

“Seriously?” Sky demands as she rushes after me. “You don’t trust us? We’ve told you everything about us, about our pack’s most sacred secrets. We hardly know anything about you.”

“Now isn’t the time. We need to find somewhere to sleep.”

This street must be a popular bar strip because every girl I see is wearing a tight dress or skirt with heels. Some of them are already drunk and we have to walk around them as they stumble.

“What is wrong with them?” Dominic says.

“They’re intoxicated.”

“What?”

“They’re drunk.”

One guy is standing outside of a bar and is twisting his shirt around his hand while his friends attempt to convince him to get into a car. Dominic and I walk ahead and I start wondering if I should ask someone for the nearest motel directions.

We stop as we realize that Sky is lagging behind. A man is speaking to her at the entrance to a club, he hands her a leaflet that she can’t even read and then she turns to walk inside. She doesn’t even give us a glance.

“What is she doing?” Dominic says.

“They’re very persuasive,” I mumble as we walk over. “I can’t believe he just let her in. She’s like sixteen.”

We get past the leaflet man easily but the two giant bouncers on the door place their hand out to block my way.

“No sweaters.”

“Okay.” I take the sweater off and I fold it around my arm. “Better?”

The bouncer moves aside and I enter the club. It’s packed. I can’t see Sky anywhere. Dominic sticks close to my side, stirring me away from intoxicated boys that are instantly dancing around me.

The music is loud but Dominic finds it overwhelming. He clenches his jaw and places fingers into his ears. I spot Sky at the bar. She shows the barmaid the leaflet and is being poured a free drink when we reach her.

“What the hell are you doing?” I say. “We need to leave.”

“The kind man outside said that I’d get a free drink if I showed them the paper.”

“A free drink of alcohol.” She reaches out for it and I slide it away from her. “Do you even know what alcohol is? You need to stay focused. We all do.”

“She’s right, Sky,” Dominic says. “Look at those people outside. Do you want to become like one of them?”

“I’m sorry but I’ve never experienced anything like this,” she says, grabbing the drink out of my hand forcefully. “Let’s just stay for a little while. Please?”

“Five minutes.”

Sky smiles excitedly and moves over to the dance floor with her drink. I look so out of place with my casual clothing and giant bag pack but I still manage to attract a cluster of unwanted attention as I claw my way to a table.

I take a seat with my back to the wall as man after man stares at me and tries to coerce me into a dance. I’m tempted to put my sweater back on but it’s boiling in here.

“Why do so many people keep on walking in and out of that door?” Dominic asks, pointing towards the corner.

“It’s the bathroom facilities. People go in there to pee.”

“I need to pee. I’ll be right back.”

He gets up before I can warn him. If he’s never been in a public bathroom before then he probably doesn’t understand the rules. It’s too late. He’s on his own.

Sky is having the time of her life. She has no idea how to dance so she’s observing other girls around her and copying them. It’s hilarious. Her eyes keep finding mine every now and again to check in but she’s having too much fun to worry.

This means a lot to her. Being free from the mountain and Cole’s control. I can tell that it’s something that she’s always wanted. Despite not knowing anything about the human world, here she is. Ready to take it on.

I wish I was that brave.

“Is this seat taken?”

The voice next to me makes me flinch. I swallow as I keep my gaze forwards. “Yes.”

“Even for me?”

“I’m not interested.”

I feel a large, vibrating thud as the person drops next to me. I place my hand into the bag, feeling for the blade at the bottom. I finally turn my head to glimpse the stranger and I find my brother’s eyes staring back.

“Coan,” I say.

I wrap my arms around his shoulders and I hold him close to me. I can’t believe that this is real. I lean back and I blink, looking over his face.

“What are you doing here?” I say.

“I’m glad that you’re alright but you need to be more careful. You were spotted in a diner around the corner. The report came straight to father but I overheard it and thankfully got here before his team did. All I had to do was ask some questions outside. That’s how easy it is.”

“We need to go,” I say, grabbing the bag and rising to my feet. “Sky, come on, they’ve found us.”

Sky hears me across the room. She stops immediately and sways herself out of a boy’s grip. She stares at my brother as she approaches.

“Can you take us somewhere?” I ask him.

“Us? Who’s us?”

I flick my eyes to the siblings as Dominic joins his baffled sister. I introduce them briefly but it just leaves them rubbing their heads.

“Fine,” Coan says. “We need to go. Now.”

I follow him out of the club and we jog down the street towards his car. Coan gets in right away and starts the engine. I throw the bag beneath the passenger seat but I look up to see Dominic and Sky standing frozen in the middle of the pavement.

“What’s wrong with you!” I shout. “Get in the car!”

Something has startled them. They turn their heads and then their bodies face towards the opposite side of the street.

“Devon,” Coan says desperately. “Get in.”

I run back to them and I yank on Sky’s hand, trying to get her to move towards the car. She shakes her hand out of mine, keeping her stare on the darkness of an alley. A woman is suddenly pushed out of it. Her long, golden curls fall around her face as she collapses to her knees.

I freeze along with my siblings as I feel a pull towards this stranger that I’ve never felt before in my entire life. All my rational sense of fear and flight leaves me as I look at this woman and want nothing more than to just run into her arms.

The woman looks up at us. Her eyes finally find mine. They are frantic. “Get out of here!” she screams.

Hands reach out through the darkness and grab her ankles, dragging her backwards on her stomach until she vanishes. Sky plunges forwards but Dominic restrains her.

A group of tall, intimidating men walk out of the shadows. They are werewolves but they’ve taken the cure to blend in. One of them looks like he’s talking.

“What is he saying?” I demand from Sky.

“He says that he’ll let our mother go if we hand you over.”

It’s a trick. We all know that. I don’t know how I feel about this woman. She is a stranger to me. But I can’t deny the connection that I felt when I looked into her eyes.

“Cole is giving us until tomorrow and then she dies.”

The group start charging towards us and we cower back into the car. We manage to secure ourselves inside before they reach us. Coan takes off immediately but the werewolves are catching up. One of them manages to bang his hand against the side of the door and it forces Coan to speed up.

“Who the hell are they?” he says. “Who was that woman?”

“I’ll explain everything,” I say. “But right now you need to lose them.”

“How are they matching the speed of a car? I’m doing forty!”

“Go faster!” Sky yells.

I look out of my window to see one of them right outside, he lifts his arm back to smash the glass but Coan twists the car a sharp right and the man is thrown several feet through the air. Coan speeds up to seventy and the group eventually fall back, probably to check on their wounded pack member.

Coan soars us down the highway and I watch the small town fade to nothing behind us.

“Explain,” he mutters.

“I think I’m adopted,” I say. “Sky and Dominic are my siblings.”

“What are you talking about? You’re not adopted and they are not your siblings.” Coan flicks his eyes to the mirror and meets Sky’s. He swallows. He can’t deny the resemblance between me and her, we look like twins.

“We are,” Sky says.

“Shut up,” Coan hisses. “I don’t know if my sister’s told you about the shit that she’s in but she doesn’t need you making it worse for her. I should throw you both out of this car.”

Sky snorts.

“Coan, they were coming after me,” I say. “I am adopted and there’s something in my genetics that makes me wanted.”

“Something like what?”

Sky and Dominic both look in opposite directions awkwardly. They’ve probably been taught to conceal their secret the same way that Thorn was. Humans knowing is a dangerous thing. I understand that now. Coan wouldn’t believe me anyway.

“I don’t know,” I lie. “I just know that I can trust them.”

Coan takes a deep breath and checks his mirrors. “It’s probably a good thing that you’re out of those woods. Lyle was attacked by something. He’s been in a coma for a few weeks. He woke up yesterday and told the King that a savage did it.”

“He’s awake?” I whisper.

Coan narrows his eyes at me. “You knew?”

“Yeah, I was there. I saw it happen. He got what he deserved.”

“I agree. I wanted to sneak in there and finish him off,” he growls with disappointment. “The good news is that he’s not focusing on you anymore.”

“What is he focusing on?”

“Finding the savage that hurt him. He told father that the savage kidnapped you. He’s hired one of the best trackers in the country to find you because his hunters never came back. Your face is on posters everywhere, you have to be more careful.”

“He isn’t a savage,” I say. “I owe him my life.”

In more than one way. I’ll probably die before I ever get the chance to repay Thorn for everything that he’s done for me—that he’s given me. But I will try until my last breath to succeed.

“I’ll take you to a motel for the night. I’ll try and pick you up in the morning but I might not return if I’m being followed.”

“That’s not necessary. Just take us to some woods.”

He laughs. “Don’t be stupid. You can’t spend the night in the woods.”

“Coan, I’ve been sleeping in the woods since the day I ran into them. It’s what we’re all most comfortable with.”

Sky sticks her head in between our seats. “Actually, I would like to try one of these motel places. The woods are uncertain territory. If you catch my meaning.”

I sigh. I had forgotten that there might be other werewolf packs nearby. Like Sky, I’d rather not take the risk.

“Fine,” I say. “Take us to a motel. But don’t travel too far. I can’t be too far away.” I glance out of the window, staring at the medallion through the glass. “He’s waiting for me.”

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