Thorn (Werewolf)

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Chapter Thirty-Three

THORN

I watch the burial from on top of the hill. Lucias carried Daria here almost two hours ago and it took a while until they managed to convince him to let go. I’ve been staying out of the way. I travelled back towards the camp to get the clothes that I left during the transition and it took a lot to resist going the full way.

I came back here. I have no idea why. I can’t seem to leave this time.

Maria decides to be brave enough to approach me and she ignores my snarls of protest. She drops down to the edge beside me and watches the burial. I move further away from her.

“That could have been any of us,” she says. “Aren’t you just a little bit relieved that it was Daria?”

“I would have been more relieved if it had been you.”

She leans back and bites on her lip angrily. “What exactly is your fucking problem with me? I remember a time when you were tearing my clothes off.”

“Don’t remind me,” I mutter.

“We were only mates for a short time but it meant something, Thorn. We had a connection even if you believe that we didn’t. Just because we lost the bond doesn’t mean that the connection is gone.” She rubs her hand along my knee slowly.

“You’ve got three seconds to remove your hand before I break your wrist.”

She pulls it back.

“You’re only interested in me because I gave orders as the blood alpha,” I say. “And if you want to know what my fucking problem with you is, it’s because I know that you were feeding information to Atticus in return for a safe alliance if I died.”

She blinks. I’ve never told her that I knew that. I’ve never told the others either. She was punished with us, there’s no point in letting her suffering end. She deserves to rot here.

“How can you even think that?” she says quietly. “It isn’t true.”

“Even the mating bond didn’t stop you from thinking about your own survival, did it?” I snarl. “I never saw it. Not until Malese took the bond away. Then everything became clear.”

“I would never have betrayed you,” she says. “Or our pack. I only met with Atticus to try and convince him not to attack. I told him that you were a good leader, that you do what’s right.”

“He knew every move we were about to make before we made it. What was it? The allure of an alpha that was stronger than me?”

“You killed him, didn’t you?” she mutters. “And he had a fucking witch as a mate. She could have predicted our moves. It doesn’t mean that there was a grass. And if there was, it certainly wasn’t me.”

I start laughing. “Atticus told me, Maria. It was among his final words. Save yourself the embarrassment. If by some miracle we do ever make it out of these woods then you won’t be welcome at my father’s estate. You won’t be coming home with us.”

“Imagine being so foolish to believe that there’s still a home to go back to,” she says as she dusts off her trousers and stands up. “Fuck you, Thorn.”

“No thanks,” I mumble. “I still have nightmares.”

I see her twist back angrily in the edge of my vision but she turns around and storms off. I look down at the community and I see Kira sheepishly walking around a hut. She shakes some leaves out of her hair before walking towards Balan.

I stand up, reaching my head as high as it will go. I see her ‘mate’ walking towards the mountain. Slowly. Like he’s in some sort of daze. I breathe angrily and I start running down the other side of the hill. My plan is to intercept him before he gets to the mountain but he’ll be able to hear my approach.

It’s impossible to sneak up on a werewolf without careful planning. We’re trained to use our senses to evaluate threats. He doesn’t seem to be panicking. His speed isn’t increasing. If anything, he’s slowing down.

He thinks that I’m Kira running back to him. Poor sod.

When he sees me and realizes that I’m not his younger and more attractive mate, he tries to run. I catch up to him in seconds and I tackle him to the floor. He’s strong for his age. He can’t be much older than twenty but he fights his way out of my hold with some serious skill. I rub my bleeding nose with the end of my shirt and I stare back at him. He swallows fearfully, trying to escape by crawling backwards.

I grab his ankle and I drag him along the ground before swinging him into a tree. Most werewolves have a high tolerance to pain but this kid just gets back up like it’s nothing. I pick him up by his throat. His blue eyes start pleading with me in desperation as he claws his fingernails against my skin.

“Who said that you could wear my pack’s clothes?” I demand. His throat begins to swell, his cheeks flush red. I release him and he drops to the floor, sucking in the air like it’s a ventilator. “The only reason that you’re not dead right now is because of her. But I swear, if you hurt her in any fucking way then suffocation will feel like a blessing.” I crouch down to be eye-level with him. He starts coughing and spitting onto the ground. “I have quite the grip. Sorry.”

The apology is not sincere. I smirk at him as he snarls at me through his dark curls that float around his jawline.

“I would never hurt her,” he mutters. “We cannot control it. I will protect her for-”

“Bla bla bla.” I pull him up and I smack his back into the tree. “So how are you going to stop your alpha from slaughtering your mate in three days?”

“If I tell him then he will spare her. Kira will be given a place with us.”

“Interesting,” I say. “I take it you’ve not discussed this with her?”

He shakes his head.

“So she doesn’t know that Cole’s coming back in three days to kill everyone she loves? That’s problematic for you.”

“Why? Kira belongs with me. She’s mine.”

“Careful,” I hiss. “That isn’t the right statement to make when the brother is very close to ending your life. Try again.”

“I just mean that her place is beside me, as mine is beside hers.”

“But your loyalty is to your alpha,” I say. “So what will you do when Kira decides that she’s going to stay and fight against your pack?”

He snarls his teeth. “Give Cole the location of your mate and it doesn’t have to be that way. She’s just a human, her life is worthless.”

“Shadow, is it?”

“Yes.”

I meet his eyes intensely. “I might not be keen on killing you but don’t ever say that again. Do we understand each other?”

He nods.

“Good. Try again.”

“I can try and convince him to hold off the attack but he isn’t the listening type. He gave you three days and he’ll stick to it. If you try and engage in a fight then you will lose. The pack is dosed up on herbs so strong that they wouldn’t feel it if you burned them alive.”

“The herbs that relieve pain during the transition?”

“Yes. We all take them. We literally cannot feel pain when we are on them.” He shies away from my gaze for a second, mumbling at the ground. “I was going to bring Kira some tonight.”

“You’re going to do more than that,” I say. “You’re going to bring us all some.”

“I can’t. The risk-”

“Fuck the risk. Let me tell you how that conversation with my sister is going to go. She will not leave her pack defenceless, not for a mating bond and certainly not for you. When Cole sees you protecting her then he’s going to work it out pretty damn quickly and he’ll order you to kill her. I’ve seen it happen before between two warring packs. He will give you that order and he’ll kill you both if you refuse.”

“No. Cole wouldn’t do that. He’ll give her a place with us. I know he will.”

“She isn’t going to fucking go with you!” I yell. “Don’t you get it? If you take part in slaughtering her family then she’ll reject you without hesitation. If you want to keep her safe then you need to give us an advantage to fight back. We can protect her for you.”

The guy is torn. I think I’ve ripped his head to shreds. He can’t have it both ways. He can’t keep Kira as his mate and commit to his alpha’s orders to kill her pack. It doesn’t work like that. Her happiness will outweigh anything. Her safety will come before any order that his alpha gives. The only logical thing to do is reject her but it doesn’t look like that is an option. I can relate.

“I will get it for you,” he whispers.

“And another thing,” I say. “There are two prisoners on your mountain. A man and woman. You’re going to release them discreetly in three days while your pack is distracted.”

“Are you trying to get me executed?” he spits out angrily. “I might be mated to your sister but you are still my enemy.”

“We need more numbers,” I say. “They’ll fight for us. It’ll help keep her safe.”

He rubs his chin. I literally only have to dangle Kira’s safety in front of him and he’ll consider anything.

“I can release the man but the woman. . .”

“What?”

“They took her. Cole ordered a group to track the truant pack members that fled with your mate. She’s their mother so they’re using her to draw them out.”

I start becoming a little dizzy. I sway a little as I try to focus on Shadow. “Release the man.”

The pain enters me at full force. I clutch my stomach and fall to my knees. I clench on my teeth to keep from screaming. Shadow uses the opportunity to his advantage and runs away.

Something’s wrong.

It’s Devon. I don’t know how I know or how I can even feel it but her fear is alive inside of me. I can’t see through her eyes like I do during the transition but the connection is making me frantic. She’s in trouble.

I still clutch my stomach as I run in a direction that I haven’t taken in a very long time. The sensations become more intense. It’s in my chest, it’s in my fingers, it’s in my fucking legs that start trembling from underneath me.

I could never feel her pain physically like this before. Is it because we’ve mated that it’s changed? I never felt it with Maria.

It’s like she’s calling to me.

I run all the way to the edge of the border and I reach the road. The barrier is like an electric fence. It zaps me as I try to run straight through it. I run along the side of the road, my hand bashing at the barrier. My punches become stronger until I can almost break through it.

I have to get to her but I can’t. This is my fault. I thought that she’d be safer if I sent her away. I’m powerless to help her.

I collapse to my knees at the side of the road and then a car pulls over in the distance to my right. I look at it momentarily, not caring which human has stopped to witness my strange behaviour.

Then I see Lyle. He stares right at me, recognition flashing in his eyes. His head is bandaged. It’s misshaped. There’s a hole in his skull. I start backing up into the woods, silently inviting him to follow me. He doesn’t accept the challenge. He gets back into his car and turns around.

Coward.

I can’t feel Devon’s pain anymore. It’s stopped. I don’t know what that means. There are still a few hours left until sundown. I can only hope until then.

Hope that wherever she is, she's alive.

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