Thorn (Werewolf)

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Chapter Thirty-Six

“I think I’ve worked out why he wouldn’t look at me,” Sky says. I sigh as I try to focus on the pages of the book that I’m reading. I lift it a little higher to try and block her out. “Remember when Fiona told us about selective sight among alphas?”

“No,” Dominic says.

We’re laying around the fire that I started a few hours ago. It’s been hours since the connection with Thorn ended and although I’m relieved that he’s okay, I’m still shaken up by it. Hearing his voice was just another reminder that I’m far away from him. The forest glows a strange colour in the dark. Most of the trees still give off the red smoke but the entire ground glistens like it’s made of gemstones.

“Selective sight is when an alpha without a mate won’t look females in the eye because it avoids them being mated to someone they don’t like or aren’t attracted to. They basically hand pick their own mates by using this tactic.”

“Not true. They could look a hundred females in the eye and still not be mated.”

“It’s better than looking all of them in the eye and finding himself chained to someone unbearable or ugly. Hm. So which one am I?”

“Young,” I say.

“Not in our species. Sixteen is the age we can find our mates. It’s rare. It doesn’t usually happen until our twenties but my age is still considered acceptable.”

“There are a range of factors,” Dominic says. “You’re a truant. As Devon pointed out, you are young.”

“I’m not-”

“Yes, you are. Alphas would not trust the fate and safety of their packs with a sixteen-year-old.”

Sky scoffs. “Get off your high horse. You’re only two years older than me.”

I place the book back into my bag and I lay backwards on the bed of leaves that I’ve assembled. I stare up at the bright stars.

“Devon?”

“Hm?”

“What’s it like? The bond?”

I shrug my shoulders, unconsciously rubbing the medallion again.

“Please,” Sky says. “It’ll help to take my mind off the high probability that our mother has been executed.”

“I don’t know if I can describe it. It’s hard to put into words.”

“Are you in love with him?” she asks. “Or is it just a physical thing?”

“I. . . I don’t know.” I squint my eyes at the bright moon through a gap in the trees. “It was just physical at first. It was fun. Being with him felt exciting and there was this rush every time we looked at each other. I just thought it was physical but. . .”

“What changed?”

“When he told me how to break the curse, I offered him the chance to kill me without hesitation. I still would. I don’t think I would have done that if I wasn’t mated with him. Feeling the effects of this bond means that I’d literally do anything to put his needs above my own.”

I turn my head to see Sky smiling to herself. “And that was when you knew you were in love with him. The mating comes first, that emotional connection comes after. That’s so interesting. I wonder if he realized it at the same time when he rejected your offer.”

“You had the moon kiss,” Dominic says.

“What’s that?”

“The moon kiss is when two werewolf mates mark each other with an emotional gesture,” Sky explains. “It usually comes a long time after the initial mating. When their trust is built completely and they are completely in love. Some mates never experience it. Honestly, it’s like a fairy tale. They both give the other some kind of representation of their feelings and they become moon kissed.” Sky looks up at the sky in a daydream. “Offering your life for his freedom was that gesture and him not taking it—despite it endangering his pack—was his. It sounds corny but it’s a big part of our beliefs.”

I didn’t think too much into it being a gesture or an emotional expression of my feelings, I just wanted him to be free. I saw his entire future in that moment and although I knew that I wouldn’t be a part of it, I also knew that he was meant for great things. Greater things than what is meant for me.

I don’t regret making that choice and I’d give him the offer again in a heartbeat. Whether that means that I’m moon kissed is irrelevant. Thorn is the other half of me. He is the part that keeps me warm on the coldest nights. The light that shines through the trees when it’s too dark to see my way. The man has changed my whole life. He changed me. There is no way that the bond can fake that. The bond can not altar facts and the fact is; Thorn and I are meant to be together.

And that is the fact that stings the most when I glance back up to the stars and I realize that we may never be together again.

+ + +

The next morning, we decide to cover a little more of the red forest before we admit defeat and head back. Sky is quieter and withdrawn. I don’t think she slept well. I’m not complaining.

“There’s nothing out here,” Dominic says. “Like I said, they leave their mark and move on. Let’s turn back.”

I spot something in the distance, I can’t see it clearly but it looks like a cottage. “Hang on. I see something.”

“Bad idea,” Dominic mutters. “Bad idea. Bad idea.”

“Shut up,” I say. “What did you think we were looking for? Rabbits?”

Sky hums in respond. Dominic glares at her.

“If a witch is living in that cottage then she definitely wants to be left alone,” he says as he grabs my arm and starts stirring me away.

“Dominic, let go of me.”

“No. We’re heading back.” He drags me away and my struggles do nothing to stop him.

Sky grabs her brother’s hand and twists it, forcing him to release me. “We said that we’d help her.”

“By getting her killed? How is that helping her?”

“We need to trust her. First sign of trouble then we get her out of there. Okay?”

Dominic sighs and then charges right past us. “Stay close to me.”

Sky and I reach his side and we approach the small cottage together. It gives off an instant creepy vibe. The building looks old and robust with dead plants hanging out of the guttering. The walls are painted a dark red colour and the chimney releases blood red smoke. The door is brown with long splinters sticking out of it.

“Should we knock?” I say.

The door starts to slowly open, creating a small creaking noise. I swallow as no one comes into view.

“Bad idea,” Dominic repeats.

He might be right but I haven’t come this far to go back now. The answers could be in that cottage. Sky is fearless, she is the first to approach the open doorway and step inside. I’m closely behind her, while Dominic lags behind to inspect every inch of the walls.

It’s dark inside. All the windows are boarded up with wooden planks. It smells horrific, like a blend of rotting corpses and maggots. We all cover our noses as we walk down a small hallway. Sky opens a door at the end that reveals a completely darkened room. I can’t see anything but they can see in the dark, their backs travel back into a wall and they paralyse with fear. The door slams shut on its own.

“You invade my home and have the nerve to be afraid?” a voice says.

Light appears suddenly in the middle of the room in the form of dozens of candles. It brightens it to the point where I can see why they are unsettled. The woman with grey hair stands at the other side of the table, her eyes are black, her skin is wrinkled and pale.

“You wouldn’t be able to see the cottage if you were not witches,” she says. “Speak.”

“We apologize for the intrusion,” I say. “We need your help.”

The woman stares right at me but I can’t work out if she’s blind or not. She twists her head curiously and falls back into a chair. “They are descendants but you are curious to me. Hand.” She reaches out her bony and wrinkled hand that has nails almost as long as her fingers.

“Devon, no.” Sky shakes her head at me.

“Shush,” the old woman snaps. “Hand.”

I swallow as I stare down at it. Sky still continues to shake her head.

“Do you want my help or not?”

I walk towards the table slowly and I place my hand into hers. The woman wraps her long fingernails around it, pulling me closer as she focuses on something within my energy. I try to pull my hand away but she holds it too strongly, she squeezes it so tight that my bones start to crush. I cry out.

She releases me finally and I rub my hand as I back up the wall. The woman continues to stare directly at me with those hollow, black eyes.

“Malese,” I whisper.

“He let you go. I knew he would. You have come to beg for me to break the curse.”

“He has suffered,” I say. “He deserves to be free.”

“Do not tell me what he deserves. He killed the love of my life. I have been waiting a long time for him to feel the same loss.”

Sky and Dominic move from the wall and stand in front of me. Malese isn’t phased. Her lips twist into a dark smile.

“I cannot reverse the spell,” she says. “The curse can only be broken if he causes your death.”

“There has to be another way,” I say. “Please, he’s been punished enough.”

“You are not listening, child. There is no other way. I know what it’s like to be mated, I know how desperate it can make you. Atticus wasn’t just my mate, he was my life, my world. He was the father of my child. He deserved to live too.”

“Atticus was a great leader until he met you,” Sky says. “You turned him cruel and cold. You controlled every decision he made. That wasn’t love.”

Malese twists her head at Sky. She isn't angry at the statement, she finds it interesting.

“Sky,” I warn.

“It’s the truth. You marked the human town as yours and tried to convince Atticus to take full control of it, to enslave them. Pack members were executed for ever saying such things but we heard the true stories from our father. That’s why Thorn attacked that night, because he found out that Atticus was going to employ werewolves into the town and the humans would have been dominated.”

“Humans are a plague to this world,” Malese says. “You hide your identity from them like cowards. I showed Atticus that it didn’t have to be that way.”

“You manipulated him,” I say. “Thorn was just trying to protect the town from you.”

“Is that what you’re doing to Cole?” Sky says. “The weapons. The secrecy. The desperation for him to keep Thorn and his pack in those woods. How can we share our DNA with someone so evil?”

Malese chuckles to herself and stands slowly. “Evil is subjective. No one is truly innocent and pure. It has truly been a pleasure meeting you all.” She looks back to me. “I apologize that this is happening to you. Regardless of my past, I did love Atticus and I did love our son. Leaving him was the hardest choice I ever had to make.”

“You can make up for that,” I say. “You can put things right.”

“It is too late. The curse will not be broken because he will not kill you. Just a small part of me hoped that he would. Now that would have been suffering worth staying alive for.”

I snarl my teeth. “You-”

“Goodbye, descendants.”

She blows out the flame from one of the candles and the light vanishes from all of them. Sky squeezes her hand into mine before her body crashes into the side of me. My head feels light and fuzzy. Everything is spinning. The last thing I feel is my dizzy body colliding with Dominic’s before we all meet the ground.

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