Thorn (Werewolf)

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Chapter Thirty-Two

I dump the bag on the first bed I see in the small motel room and then I head into the bathroom. Coan said that he’ll be back in the morning but I’m not sure if I want him to come back. Having a car is ideal but I feel like I’m travelling further and further away from Thorn and every second of it hurts.

I leave the bathroom. Sky is testing her new bed and is slightly bouncing into it while Dominic remains by the window. He looks up at the curtain curiously and figures out that pulling it blocks the view. The room is pretty vague, which is expected for the cheap price that Coan paid for it. Just two beds, a bathroom and a television screen that looks smashed.

“Can I offer you both some advice?” I say as I flip the covers over on the bed against the far wall and crawl inside them. “Use the shower in the morning.”

“What’s a shower?” Sky says.

“I’ll show you. It makes you smell better.”

“You’re being a little. . . off,” Sky says. “Is something wrong?”

I turn on my side and I play with the medallion. “I’m just tired.”

“I’ll keep guard,” Dominic says. “We’ll switch halfway.”

“Okay,” Sky says before directing her voice to me. “I bet it’s the mating bond. Apparently it makes you feel all depressed and sad when you’re apart from your mate. Like a part of you is missing. It’ll get worse the longer you’re away from him.”

“Thanks for the analysis.”

“You’re welcome. Good night.”

I close my eyes against the pillow. I don’t want to focus on how badly I’m aching for Thorn because it’s out of my control. It is like a desperation. Just to see him, to touch him, to hold him. I wonder if he feels it too. It’s not quite torture but it’s on the border.

“We did the right thing by leaving,” Sky says. I snap my eyes open. “It’ll be hard at first but there are other packs out there.”

“Packs don’t usually accept truants that left without their alpha’s permission,” Dominic replies. “We might be on our own for a while.”

“I’m okay with that. There are other options. I am liking the idea of the human world.”

“That is where we differ, Sky. I can’t stand them.”

“You don’t have to trust them. You just have to tolerate them enough to merge your world with theirs.”

“Can you please be quiet?” I groan. “You can literally hear each other’s whispers so do that.”

“Sorry,” Sky says. “We don’t sleep through the night. We’ll be awake for a while. We’ll be quieter.”

“Thank you.”

They keep to their word. I’m not even sure if they’re whispering or have stopped talking altogether but I fall asleep to silence.

I wake up to Sky’s snores generating from the small chair underneath the window. Her head is rolled up and her mouth is wide open. She looks adorable and happy. Dominic is sleeping in the bed next to mine, turned away from me.

I take the bag into the bathroom and I lock the door while I take a shower. The water is barely warm but it’s warmer than what I’ve been used to bathing in. I dry myself off with a towel that I’m not completely sure is clean and then I change into some new clothes. The choices are not abounding but he at least packed some underwear.

I replace my black low-cut shirt with another and I exchange the thick sweater for a tighter and more comfortable one.

I tie my wet hair up and I go back into the room to see the siblings awake and sitting at the end of the bed. Their eyes are wide as though they’re students about to go to a class.

“Oh right,” I mumble.

I spend a few minutes showing both of them how to use the shower and informing them of how it works. They seem to catch on quick. I offered to give Sky some clean clothes but she refused. I don’t think they’re used to changing their clothes every day. Growing up on a mountain, they probably don’t care.

I stay at the window, my fingers folding back the curtain to peek at every car that pulls in or drives away.

“Who’s Lyle?” Sky asks.

“A dangerous man,” I say.

“Dangerous how?”

“He is the reason that I ran away into the woods in the first place. My parents were forcing me to marry him.” I meet her eyes. “Marriage is-”

“We know what marriage is. Why didn’t you go through with it?”

“He hurt me. Physically.” I close the curtain and I drop down to the chair. “My mother didn’t care.”

Sky smiles at me. “Our mother would have.”

I smile back, sadly glancing down. “I don’t know her. She is a stranger to me.”

“Stranger or not you feel it, don’t you?” she says. “You felt it like last night when you looked at her. Werewolves have this sixth sense of recognizing family. Blood. It ties in with being unbearably loyal to each other.”

I nod. “I felt it.”

“You’ll feel it for the rest of your life. Through us. Even if you never get the chance to know them, they’ll live on within our DNA. You’ll always feel that connection. Blood bonds are powerful. Some werewolves argue more powerful than the mating bond.”

“In human terms,” Dominic says. “It means that if you ever need us, we’ll be there.”

“That’s the lame version,” Sky says. “But yes. No questions, no hesitation. Our unconditional loyalty will make us come running.”

“I just never imagined that I’d have this whole other. . .” I swallow, unable to say the word. Sky is amused by my struggle. “Life.”

“It’s a life that will be a huge burden for a human,” she says. “But I envy you.” She looks to the floor with bereft. “Thorn could have rejected you and sent you back to the humans, he could have disconnected completely and killed you to release his entire pack. Instead, he looked into you and saw someone worth staying in a prison for. I’ve always wanted someone to care for me like that. And it’s because you’re human that he overcame that conflict.”

At the mention of Thorn, I start rubbing the medallion again. I managed to go minutes without thinking about him but now the pain is back.

“It’s hardly a prison,” Dominic mutters. “At least they’re still free to do what they want. We were the ones trapped in a prison.”

“Why am I human?” I say. They stare at me in that creepy way again. “Why can’t I activate my wolf gene? Thorn tried once but it didn’t work.”

“You saw him in transition?” Dominic asks.

“Of course she did,” Sky tells him. “She wouldn’t be able to see through his eyes otherwise.” She looks back to me. “We don’t know much about witchcraft, it’s forbidden from being spoken about on the mountain because they feared our witch genes could become more dominant. But our father would take us somewhere secretly when Cole was away to try and teach us some things. All we really know is that a curse works against the witch rather than with her. Malese had to borrow more power from her ancestors to inflict the curse and that power is owed back to them. So, half of her magic is invested in keeping the curse active forever while another side will continuously throw curveballs to try and break it because her ancestors want that magic back.”

“Curveballs like you being human,” Dominic says.

“Yes, I was getting to that part. Being human is what’s kept you alive for so many years. Even before our kind transition for the first time, they have the scent of a werewolf. Other werewolves would have smelt you if they merged themselves into the human world and I’m sure many of them have crossed paths with you. If they saw a young, female werewolf being raised by a human family then they probably would have abducted you and tortured you because that either means that you’re a truant or the daughter of someone powerful that’s being hidden away.”

“Our kind can be barbaric,” Dominic says.

Sky nods. “Even from here, all I can smell is human. Only those that get close enough to smell and inspect your DNA would know. That’s how suppressed it is.”

“So Malese’s ancestors made me human?” I say. “There might be another way to break the curse?”

Sky shrugs. “It’s unlikely but probable. Her ancestors were probably pissed that she had a child with a werewolf. We were enemies for centuries.”

“And her coven,” Dominic interjects. “Father said that her coven rejected her once she mated with Atticus. She turned to black magic after his death to inflict the curse but even Atticus’ pack blamed her for his death. They believed mating with her made him weaker so her only option was to hide among the humans.”

This just gets more confusing. There was so much blame and anger around that fight and it seems like all of it inevitably fell on Thorn. The war only started because Thorn and his pack refused to leave their territory without the cure but there has to be more to it than that. Was there something else that Atticus was doing that Thorn disagreed with?

“They accepted her child and raised him as a werewolf,” Sky says. “But they still feared Malese returning if they didn’t watch over Thorn’s suffering. We were always taught that their son, Carlton, refused the alpha position but I’m not so sure. They could have bullied him into refusing.”

“Our genetics scare them,” Dominic says.

None of this helps me now. It doesn’t tell me where she’s hiding or how to find her. What would I even say if I did find her? Malese doesn’t sound like the type of person that would gladly reverse her own spells because of the plea of a stranger. She’d most likely try to kill me rather than help me.

“We are the children of a blood alpha that has no control over his own pack,” Sky says. “I think that is a first for werewolves.”

“Can werewolves and humans be mates?” I ask.

“Yes but it’s incredibly rare,” Sky says. “So rare that most of our kind regard it as myth. Werewolves don’t tend to scream it out in public if it happens. The human mate would be in grave danger unless it’s a female human and the mate is a powerful alpha.”

“Humans cannot feel the effects of the bond,” Dominic says. “We’ve heard stories of werewolves raping their female human mates because they couldn’t control themselves. And these are werewolves that are instantly programmed to never hurt them or cause them suffering. That’s how dangerous the bond can be.”

Thorn was right. The bond is manipulative. Now I understand why he kept running away every time we kissed. He assumed that I couldn’t feel the effects and at first I didn’t. He had to be careful so that he wouldn’t lose that control. He waited until he was completely sure that I was giving him consent even though I spent days trying to convince him that I was.

It just makes me crave him more. I’ll have to wait until sundown to know that he’s safe and it feels like forever away.

I hear a car pulling off from the highway and I peek through the curtain. “Coan’s here.”

I wait by the door until I hear him outside and I open it quickly. He wastes no time with reaching into a bag and throwing something soft at my stomach. It’s a black beanie hat. He throws the siblings one too.

“I don’t have much time,” Coan says. “Lyle made father install a fucking GPS tracker into my car. I’ve managed to disconnect it for a few minutes to give the illusion that I’ve lost signal but they’re probably still tracking me.”

I place the hat over my head and I tuck my hair under it. “Coan, I don’t want you to be in danger for helping me.”

He ignores me and takes out a few bottles of water that he passes for me to put into my bag along with a small device. “It’s a disposable cell phone,” he says. “You’ll only get messages or calls from me. I won’t put any questions in the messages. If you receive a message with a question then it isn’t me. Do you understand?”

I nod, placing the phone into my bag.

“Get as far from here as you can,” he says. “I wish I could go with you but you know what they’ll do to her if I leave.”

“I understand,” I whisper. “Thank you.”

Coan has been in love with our low-born house maid since the first time he met her. Our parents always suspected that something was going on between them but they could never prove it. He wanted to run away with her so many times but he always stayed because of me. I hope he might have that chance now.

I wrap my arms around my brother and I try to hold in my tears. He might not be my biological brother but I will never think of him as anything less. We are family. As strong as Sky and Dominic are.

“I need to ask you something before you leave,” I say. “It’s important. Do you remember ever hearing about a woman called Malese Rivers? She lived in our town around a century ago.”

Coan leans back. His eyes flash with confusion for a moment but then he thinks harder. He repeats the name to himself. “The witch?”

I nod. “You heard of her?”

“Vaguely many years ago. Lyle used to tell the story when we were kids to scare us. It was just a story.”

“What was the story?”

“That she found our town and cast spells on it to keep it hidden from outside humans. Like tourists and such that used to visit back then before the war divided everyone. The legend was that she ‘marked’ these towns as hers. They became indebted to her and one day she’d return to claim the payment. Then she fell in love with a savage and after the war, she was chased out of the town by the King’s army and locals. But not before swearing that she’d be back to slaughter all of their descendants.”

I exchange a look with Sky and she shrugs. I thought that Malese left willingly, I didn’t know that the humans chased her away.

“Did the story ever include where she came from?”

“Uh. . . the red forest? I don’t know, Devon. It was over twenty years ago.”

“The red forest?” Sky says, jumping up from the bed. “You’re sure?”

“No, I’m not,” Coan says. “Why is this important?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I say. “Just forget it. Like you said, it’s a story.”

He doesn’t seem convinced but he drops it. “I have to go.” He leans in one for final embrace and I tremble against his warm hold. “I am so proud of you,” he says. “For being brave enough to know your true worth.” His arms unfold from me and he backs up to the door. “Don’t let them take that from you.”

“Goodbye, Coan.”

I wipe my tears as I stumble towards the window and watch him leave. It still pains me that he doesn’t know the truth and probably never will. It’s better that way.

“Your brother is hot,” Sky mumbles.

I ignore that. “Apart from Thorn, he’s the only person in the world that I trust.”

“Hey,” Sky grunts.

I grin at her. “I’m still warming to you. So I take it from your enthusiasm, you know where the red forest is?”

“We saw one on our way here,” she says. “I think I remember the way. We’ve only ever heard descriptions of them from our father. A forest touched by a witch is called a red forest. Only those with the witch gene can see it, it’s sort of like a territorial mark to warn off other covens.”

“Fascinating,” I mumble as I make sure my bag is packed. “Let’s go.”

I’m slightly pissed off that they’ve been with me the whole night and didn’t mention that they saw it. And that is exactly why I’m not so eager to trust them just yet. We leave the motel, adjusting our hats as we keep our eyes down and jog towards the highway.

“Just to be clear, there could be dozens or even hundreds of red forests in the surrounding areas,” Dominic says. “This doesn’t mean that we’re going to find Malese.”

“But it means that there’s a witch out there that could help us,” I say.

“Red forests are touched by witches, it doesn’t mean that they are still there,” he says. He sounds resentful. “Directly searching for covens or witches is a dangerous move. They’re more territorial than werewolves.”

Sky laughs. “Stop worrying. If we run into trouble then I know a spell or two to get us out of it.”

Dominic glares at her. “No, you don’t.”

“Yes I do. Father taught me them.”

“Prove it. Cast one.”

“I can’t if you’re staring at me.”

“Because you’re lying,” he says. “You’ve never cast a spell in your life. You wouldn’t even know where to start.”

“I’d know more than you,” she puffs.

I clench on my teeth, trying to walk ahead to escape their mindless bickering. We walk through wasteland for a while and then we enter the woods. It’s just normal woods but Sky insists that we have to cross it to get to the red forest.

We’re deep in when the siblings lag behind. They’ve heard something but they won’t share what it is. Before I even have the chance to ask them what’s going on, they charge towards me and Sky grabs my wrist.

We’re running now. I have no idea what from but we’re running fast. She pulls me to a stop and they circle their heads around. She takes out a gun from beneath her pants and slips it into my hand.

“You had a gun all this time?” I demand.

“Not the time,” she mutters. “We’re being surrounded.”

“By who?”

I hear a noise from behind the trees and I aim the gun higher, clicking the safety off. I look at Sky and her eyes widen over my shoulder.

“Devon-”

I can’t turn quick enough. I hear a loud thud from behind me as though someone has jumped from the top of the tree. The gun is wacked out of my grip and I turn to meet the brown eyes of a tall man that smacks me across the face. I hit the ground instantly, not quite unconscious but I’m seeing blurs.

Sky and Dominic become surrounded by shadows. I hear rustling and punching sounds as the siblings engage in a fight. I push myself up enough to see what’s happening. Dominic has one man in a headlock but two others jump him and drag him to the floor. Dominic freezes when he feels the blade against his throat. Sky is fighting head on with another, she holds her own. Her skills are mesmerising. The man punches her but she doesn’t even flinch, she kicks his stomach and throws her fist into the side of his jaw. She knocks him unconscious but she surrenders to her knees when she sees her brother.

The man that hit me slowly walks around my head. I try to reach out for the gun but he picks it up before I have the chance to grab it.

I make the foolish mistake of looking up. The last thing that I see is his boot soaring down at my face before I enter blackness.

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