Thorn (Werewolf)

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Chapter Thirty-Seven

I couldn’t be sure if I was dreaming but wherever I was, I was happy. Thorn was there. We were happy. His lips touched mine and it was as though the nightmare had finally ended. But as my eyes adjust to consciousness and I feel my hands restrained by metal cuffs to the frame of a bed, I realize that a different kind of nightmare is beginning.

“Finally. I was starting to think that you were in a coma.”

I roll my head up. A man with dark hair sits in a chair at the blocked-out window. He places the book he was reading on the windowsill. It looks like a motel room, the same motel room that we left yesterday.

“Cole, please, don’t do this.”

There’s someone else here. I look towards the bathroom and I see a golden-haired woman sitting on the ground beside the door. My mother. My real mother. She doesn’t look at me, she keeps her eyes on Cole whom rises from the chair. He paces towards the side of the bed and forces a glass of liquid to my lips.

“You must be thirsty. Drink.”

He doesn’t give me a choice. He pours it down my throat. He takes the glass away and I cough out. I glance down to my body. I’m relieved that I’m still fully clothed. How did I end up here? Where are Sky and Dominic?

“You look confused,” Cole says. “Did you really think that Malese would help you? That she wouldn’t send you to me?”

I look to the woman on the floor again. She finally looks back at me. Her eyes are sore with tears, she looks frail and beaten. I can’t tell if she’s tied up but she sits still as though she is. Cole studies our moment of mutual fear before he walks back over to the window.

Cole is so tall that his head almost hits the ceiling. His body is large and muscled, even his hands are three times as big as mine. He looks around his mid-twenties with grey eyes and pointy ears. He wears a leather jacket with black pants. Even as a human he would be intimidating, much less a powerful alpha.

“I found some very interesting things in your bag. I hope you don’t mind.” He extracts the bags of herbs and then carries on rooting until he pulls out the blade and observes it. “I like this. I think I’ll keep it.”

I stare at my left wrist, trying to gently pull it to see how tight the restraint is. He hears it and flicks his eyes to me. He walks over to me carrying the blade. The woman rises from the floor immediately.

He glares at her. “Sit back down.”

“What is the point to this?” the woman demands. “If you want to punish someone then punish me.”

“Punish?” Cole murmurs. He starts to climb over the bed, positioning the blade at my throat. “I just wanted to see if she fears death.”

I snarl. “I don’t.”

He reads my eyes, smiling to himself. “No, you don’t. But you do fear dying knowing that your mate is locked in a prison for my entertainment.” He presses the tip of the blade underneath the chain and lifts the seal out of my shirt. “Your mate has been the enemy of my pack for a long time. He always finds a way to become a complication.”

He lifts the chain over my head and jumps down from the bed. The woman relaxes but she stays standing.

“Are you going to kill me?” I say.

“I haven’t decided yet.”

“Why am I restrained?”

It makes no sense that he has handcuffed me to the bed. I’m a human, I couldn’t get past him no matter what I try. But the one werewolf that could isn’t tied up like me. She is a much bigger threat to him than myself but she is free.

Cole doesn’t answer my question. He takes a seat back in the chair and opens the curtain to look outside.

“There are a lot of people looking for you,” he says. “There’s quite a big reward for your capture.”

Is he implying that he’s giving me over to the humans? The fear is back. I can’t control it. I start yanking on the restraints as hard as I can.

“That’s interesting. Calm down, you are going to hurt yourself.”

I give up with a large sigh.

“Relax,” he says. “What use do I have with money? The humans are not coming for you.”

“Then what do you want from me?”

“Let’s just say a deal of mine didn’t go through and I’m a little pissed off about it.”

“Cole,” the woman says softly. “Please, just think about this. She isn’t a bargaining chip, she’s a person. She’s one of us.”

Cole stares at her blankly before dragging his cold eyes to mine. There is nothing behind them. No compassion, empathy or any ounce of humanity. I am alive because he’s using me for something, not because he cares about my life.

“My father ordered you to kill her. You should have listened to him.”

“I would never have killed my own baby. She is an innocent. No matter if she’s the curse breaker or not, she’s a member of our pack. She always has been.”

“She cannot even transition, Madison. She’s weak. Thorn wouldn’t have mated with a runt like her by choice. No one would.”

I narrow my eyes. “I can’t wait for the day that he rips your throat out.”

Cole laughs to himself. “He wishes.” He swipes his fingers at the curtain and observes the window carefully for a few seconds before standing and shoving my seal into his pocket. “He’s here.”

Who’s here? I start silently panicking as a hard knock sounds on the door. Cole walks over to it and opens it wide. Madison moves around the entire bed and positions herself as a barricade in front of me.

“Thank you for coming.”

“I must say this a rather odd place to meet.”

I know that voice.

“You will see why.”

Malachi walks through the door and Cole slams it shut. He folds his arms as Malachi meets my eyes and then looks back to him. “What is the meaning of this?”

“Can you not see her properly?” Cole mumbles. “My apologies.” He charges towards Madison and drags her away from the bed. She tries to struggle but he locks her arms behind her back and pinches his nails into them. “Look again.”

“Sight is not the problem,” Malachi says.

“I know you prefer humans,” Cole says. “You retracted on our deal so I am offering you something better. She is the runt. The gene is barely noticeable in her. She’s as human as the rest.”

Malachi doesn’t give away that we’ve already met. Cole doesn’t know why he retracted the deal which is a good thing. I doubt I’d still be alive if he did.

“What exactly are you offering?”

“You have two hours with her to do as you please. In return, I want my share of the weapons that we agreed upon.”

Malachi looks over my body thoughtfully. The kind eyes that I looked into yesterday are gone. He’s considering it.

“She’s from your pack?” he says.

“Yes. You have my permission.”

He’s lying. Malachi knows that he’s lying. Did yesterday even fucking happen?

“You will never get a chance with a girl like this again,” Cole says. “You’ve had humans, you’ve had werewolves, but have you ever had someone that is both?”

He is appealing to Malachi’s sinister cravings. Cole is desperate and depraved. Both of them are.

“You’ve got yourself a deal,” Malachi says.

My heart drops in my chest. I start breathing heavily as I try and pull the cuffs one last time. This cannot be happening. Not again. I thought I faced the worst when I was confronted with Lyle but maybe there's a whole world of Lyle's out there.

“Excellent.”

“Release her first. I don’t want her restrained.”

Cole pushes my mother into the wall and she smacks her head. He leans over my face and uses a key to unlock my cuffs. They slide from my wrists and I rub over them as they sting badly.

Madison charges towards Malachi but Cole grabs her waist. “If you touch her I will fucking-”

Cole tightens his grip around Madison’s mouth and drags her over to the door. Tears stream down my face as my mother looks back to me, trying to scream through his hand.

“Two hours,” Cole says. “And then you take me to those weapons.”

“Don’t hurry back.”

Cole hums before slamming the door closed. Malachi moves over to the window, he watches through the curtains. I turn my attention to the bathroom, wondering if I can run to it before he’ll stop me. It wouldn’t make much difference. He can kick the door down. I start imagining all kinds of scenarios in my head. I'll go down fighting but it won't be hard for him to dominate me.

I hear an engine of a car start and drive away before Malachi finally turns.

“I’m not going to hurt you. It was an act.”

I gasp out with relief. “Thank you.”

“Where are the others?”

“I have no idea. He didn’t mention them which isn’t a good thing.” I fall backwards and I rub my head, suddenly panicking about Sky. “He could have killed them for all I know.”

“He will never get his hands on my weapons, Devon. Anyone that could do that to another person—to a young girl—is capable of some monstrous things. He was right that I do prefer humans but I promise you that it is always consensual.”

“I don’t care about your indiscretions.” I walk over to my bag and I empty it onto the bed. “I need to find my siblings.”

“You should come back with me,” he says. “I will protect you against Cole. He doesn’t stand a chance against my weapons.”

I find the phone buried beneath a pile of clothing and I open Coan’s messages. “You’re wrong. You’re the ones that don’t stand a chance.”

“What do you mean?”

“You can’t use weapons if you’re wolves.”

He squints his eyes. “I don’t understand.”

Confirm this is still you, I type back to Coan.

“Cole and his pack have access to all kinds of herbs. Not just the one that healed Jesse. They have a herb that can stop them from transitioning. So while your pack is distracted with unbearable pain, Cole and his pack can find those weapons and kill you all.”

Malachi is silent for a while as he thinks about that. I read over the messages from Coan while he does.

Let me know that you’re okay. So far, no sightings. Keep doing what you’re doing.

Devon, text me back. I’m getting worried.

“If that is true then why didn’t he just do that anyway? Why bother with the deal at all? With. . . this?”

I shrug. “He could have offered you the cure in exchange for the weapons. Instead, he offered you me. Understanding his twisted mind isn’t something I’m interested in.”

“He didn’t want me to know that this herb existed.” Malachi rubs his chin and paces around the room. “He is intimidated by me. I have a powerful influence over other werewolf packs and alphas. I have many alliances. Going to war with me is a mistake that even he knows he’d regret.”

“He’ll go to war with you when he returns to find me gone.”

“Why are you so important to him? Your siblings are truants but once you are mated to a different alpha, you can choose which pack you belong to with no consequences. Cole has no choice but to let you go.”

“It’s more complicated than that.” I drop down on the bed. “I was never a part of Cole’s pack. I was raised by human parents. My birth mother, the woman that was just here, she gave me up when I was a baby. The person that I am mated to. . . he’s not an alpha in the traditional sense.”

“I don’t understand. Only an alpha has access to a seal like that.” He glances down to my chest, realizing that it is gone. I feel for it and frown. “Cole took it from you?”

I nod. “I guess he didn’t want you to know that I’m not his to be offered.”

“Who is your mate?”

I sigh lightly. “Thorn. His name is Thorn.”

Malachi leans back in the chair. “Thorn. That’s familiar.”

“Yeah, he was pretty famous once according to Sky. He’s been trapped by a curse for over a hundred years.”

Malachi squints his eyes and opens his mouth with bewilderment. “The alpha Thorn? I’ve heard stories but. . . he’s still alive?”

I smile and nod my head. “And hasn’t aged a day over twenty-five.”

“How?”

“Did you hear about his fight with Atticus?”

“Of course. Every werewolf has. It was the most historic battle between two alphas that the world had heard of. The version that we heard was that he killed Atticus and then his mate, a witch, murdered him out of revenge.”

“Not quite,” I say. “She didn’t kill him. She placed a curse upon him and his whole pack. They’ve been unable to leave the woods since.”

The phone vibrates.

The cat peed on your favourite blanket and you were convinced it was personally targeting you.

I smile. I go over to the window and I stare at the road in the distance, squinting my eyes at the route number on the sign. I message Coan the location.

“That’s quite a story,” Malachi says. “If your mate really is Thorn then that makes me feel better by helping you. Will you go back to him?”

“When it’s safe.”

I’m on my way.

I stare at the time on the phone before dropping it into my pocket. I start packing my things back into the bag.

“Are you going somewhere?” Malachi asks.

“If Cole has them then they’ll be back at the mountain,” I say. “I can’t just leave them there.”

“So your plan is to invade a mountain full of werewolves with no weapons, no back up and no solid plan to stay alive?”

I laugh. “That’s apparently what I’m good at.”

“Devon, this is serious. I want to help you but I didn’t bring my pack here for a fight.”

“I’m not asking you to help me.”

“Thorn would,” he says.

I snap my eyes to his. He doesn’t even know Thorn but he says that so confidently like they share some kind of alpha logic. Maybe protecting each other’s mates is a part of that logic, like a code among alphas that they uphold with great honour. It would explain why he was so apologetic yesterday.

“You’re right. He would. And if you could locate him then it would make things easier.”

Malachi nods. “Join our packs and take out Cole together. I prefer those odds.”

“Get to the woods before sundown,” I say. “I’ll meet you there.”

“Which woods? The ones surrounding the mountain?”

“Yes.”

“We’ll be there.”

I throw the bag over my shoulder as I hear a car approaching. I look through a gap in the curtain, making sure that it’s Coan before I leave.

Running doesn’t work. I know that now. It doesn’t matter how far I go, this isn’t something that I can escape. Hiding failed. Finding Malese failed. I can’t leave Sky and Dominic at the mercy of someone as sadistic as Cole and I can’t save them if I keep avoiding the inevitable.

I will find my way back to Thorn and with Malachi’s help we will put an end to all of this. The curse will just have to wait.

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