"A Werewolf's transformation itself would kill a normal human within thirty seconds.
The heart stops and shrinks by two-thirds, whilst the Werewolf also experiences liver and kidney failure as all other organs must shrink as well.
The Werewolf's bones then break and begin to reshape and reform. The Werewolf, although experiencing intense pain, will then stop screaming for a while, as their throat and vocal cords tear and reform.
The pituitary glands will then attempt to ease the pain by flooding the body with endorphines, however it will have shut down by this time too.
Once the internal changes have taken place, the external changes begin.
Fangs grow in, and the fingernails and toenails grow out to form claws, whilst the face and skull reform to form a snout. The spine enlarges and the vertebrae push out on the skin, whilst fur begins to sprout from all over the body. The skin under this fur also seems to become much darker as well. The eyes change from their normal colour to a yellow, more animalistic form. "
Taylor's claws clicked against the hardwood frantically. No friction! Her nail clicks were soon drowned out by the cries of the public. Yup. She was a dead wolf. But she could smell Kaden around the corner--safety. In contrast, she could also smell the male werewolf bounding towards her in human form-- death.
As it turned out, people weren't as good of cover as she'd have hoped. Being so low to the ground, it blocked her view. True, she wasn't as short as regular wolves or dogs, she was still only up to mid-drift on a human.
She wouldn't have shifted if she had thought she might've had any hope of getting away on two feet. Ordering at a local restaurant, complete with charming tables, Taylor had waited for their orders of four 8 ounce steaks, medium rare.
Kaden, her best friend and fellow packmate, was in the restroom; a one stall bathroom room. Kaden had barely left the table when he arrived.
He was a tall man-- most Weres were,-- with amber eyes and sand-orange hair. As soon as his eyes landed on Taylor he had made a bee-line for her table, completely ignoring the hostess who sat customers.
The enclosed room had made his scent as strong and completely ignorable as a ragingly pink skunk. His eyes, which were growing lighter by the minute due to his wolf rage, fixed on her with such animosity it took her a second to react.
Taylor unceremoniously had dropped her fork from her trembling hand and proceeded to dive underneath the table to 'grab it'. There she--well her wolf, made a split second decision to Change. It had been painful in the cramped position she was in and with her panicked stated but she had bigger problems.
Just as the toupee table cloth was lifted up from one edge, she took a leap. The male fell back, surprised at her new form, giving Taylor time to run. She gave a sharp bark to alert Kaden. The woman's restroom door swung open with a deafening clap... But no one seemed to notice. They were all starting wide-eyed at the humongous sand colored German Sheppard that looked like it had gotten into a vat of miracle growth.
"Sadie!!" Kaden chided, wadding through the people scurrying away from Taylor. Kaden made her way over and grabbed the scruff of Taylor's neck, "How on Earth did you get here??" She faked bewilderment well.
Kaden gave a millisecond once over to the man still on the ground before throwing money on the opposite end of the table- away from wolf man.
She then proceeded to haul her 'dog' outside and around the corner, away from prying eyes. It was there in the saftey of the shadows that Kaden released her, looking over her own shoulder at the same time.
They didn't have much time. Taylor gave an impatient yip. Translation: Let's get the hell outta here.
Sure, they probably could have handled the wolf. But he was part of a pack. A pack they had no idea how larger or strong. And they had no idea how close or fast this pack could be there if the tattle cried for backup.
Kaden gave a brisk nod in agreement following Taylor's thoughts.
They ran. Taylor & Kaden didn't stop until they reached the outskirts of town. It was still in the hostile pack's territory, but further out from their den-- they hoped.
Taylor shifted back. Now naked but fully human she panted for breath, "What the hell?"
Kaden thrust the very clothes Taylor had shifted out of, at her.
"How-?" Taylor blindly reached for the clothes while looking increduously at her friend.
"When I put the money on the table. Everyone was watching that...or you and I swiped up the clothes with my foot." Kaden explained, a tiny hint of a Spanish accent peeking through that most wouldn't have noticed.
"Niiice," Taylor grinned gratefully, pulling the shirt over her head. By the time Taylor had pants on, Kaden was deep in thought.
"Why'd you change?"
"Same reason you ran." Taylor pulled on the collar of her shirt, it had been slightly stretched out during her Change.
"Alpha." They replied in unison.
"What the hell was an Alpha doing in that old place?!" Kaden grumbled.
"Getting steaks? Like us?" Taylor offered, smoothing the material down before giving up on it completely.
Kaden gasped, "That bastard! I bet he got our steaks! I thought it was weird, him not running after us."
Taylor sighed thinking about smells coming from the kitchen. They were almost ready too...
"Well, now what?" Kaden asked warily while absently rubbing her stomach.
They had this discussion much too often, but this time it was different. Why hadn't that Alpha come after them? Was he just a second, a Beta? Or a really dominant wolf they had mistaken for an Alpha? That said a lot about the pack's Alpha then, because the power radiating--not to mention anger, off of him was sizzling.
"It's risky to stay..." Kaden admitted.
Taylor gave her a droll look, "But you want to, don't you?"
She gave her a sheepish grin, "Welll..."
Taylor shook her head, hiding a smile, "This one's different. We've met the head honcho, which means he'll tell the Marrok."
"Not necessarily," She argued back.
A piercing howl tore through their argument. It was decided. They were leaving. Now.
Kaden made it through the Change first. Taylor looked at the pile of clothes that had been on her moments ago.
"I'll stay in human form," she told Kaden's wolf which was barely visible in the dark. If it hadn't been for her charcoal coat fading to white on her underbelly, she would have been nearly invisible in the dark. Kaden gave a low disapproving wine.
"I need to carry your clothes. Plus, shifting twice in a day wears you out. I need energy."
Kaden reluctantly turned her back on Taylor and loped through the forest headed due north. The further they got away from that call, the better. Taylor scooped up the clothes and followed suit. It was harder to keep up in human form, but she figured they had time. She figured wrong.
"Cal!" Mason shouted into his mobile as he exited the diner.
Cal gave a rude reply back.
He chose to ignore that comment and proceeded to give orders, "Gather Emma and Jesse, I need you three to herd some sheep."
Calvin's tone changed, "Where? Who?"
There. That was the second he appointed.
"Heading east off of Brunswick. Two rogue Werewolves," Mason hesitated "Female."
The other line went silent for a moment, "And you said TWO?"
Taylor's heart was pounding, the bastards were getting closer. There were at least two. Their pursuers weren't trying to hide the fact that they were after them, maybe they were that confident they'd catch them without the element of surprise. That only served to fuel Taylor's speed. It wasn't until Kaden stopped abruptly that she felt any sense of dread.
There, in all its wooden glory, stood a cabin. And on the porch of that cabin stood Wolf.
Kaden whipped around to double back in what Taylor knew was a futile effort; the hounds were at their heels. She couldn't hear them now, which meant they'd stopped. Most likely circling them.
The Alpha stood. The air instantly thickened with his power, surrounding them.
A growl stuck in Taylor's throat. Kaden's hackles raised.
"We mean you no harm. We were just passing through."
"Without an escort?" The man had a deep voice that vibrated through her.
"I have one," Taylor gestured to Kaden.
Kaden took a step forward, baring her fangs. The man's eyes never left Taylor's so she clenched her jaw and stared determinedly back.
"We'll leave," she made a small step to the right, still looking into his eyes. A growl different than Kaden's sounded.
They were still pinned in.
"Why, may I ask, are you two girls traveling alone?" He took a step closer to them.
Taylor mauled that question over with a twisted smirk, "Because we had a craving for steak in the middle of the night, sleep-walking all the way here, woke up and thought- 'Oh, what the hell? We're here, might as well eat.'"
The man had the courtesy to look amused. He took another step, asking another question, "What are your names?"
"Sadie and Lassie."
Kaden gave an offensive wine-bark.
He lost his smile and stalked another few feet closer.
Taylor curled her nails into her palm, "Well, that's enough questions. I'm bushed. Good night all!"
"You can't go. First invading my territory then exposing yourselves to the humans at my local diner!" He tilted his head down in a threateningly manner, or so he tried to be.
"You were coming at me," Taylor countered.
"You're an outsider."
"And you're an asshole."
An inhuman growl tore out of his mouth.
Kaden gave her an exasperated look before circling around to guard her back. Apparently they were closing in.
"You don't smell like a pack," he stated.
Taylor raised her chin proudly as Kaden gave a supporting bark.
His eyes widened incredulously. "You aren't in a pack." It wasn't a question. It was a statement of fact.
"I have to call Bran." The wolf said--and then he made the mistake. Mr. Wolf turned his back on Taylor to get his cell phone off the porch railing.
They must've timed it exactly because Taylor could feel Kaden push off the ground behind her going for throats.
Taylor never liked attacking from behind. But she couldn't let him call the head alpha Werewolf of North America. Bran could never know he had two stray female wolves wandering around the northeast territory.
Taylor landed a fatal blow to the back of Mr. Wolf's head. Much to her dismay- not surprisingly, he only faltered and turned on her with a savage snarl.
Taylor ducked out of the way of his arms as he thrust punch after punch at her. Thank God Kaden and Taylor were as quick as they came. Taylor kicked his side but instead of it landing, he grabbed hold of her calf and flung her against a tree.
There was a cracking noise. One that didn't come from the tree. Kaden's snarls were becoming quieter. She wasn't sure if this was because she was losing consciousness from the sudden flare of pain or if Kaden was in trouble.
.::. Kaden's POV.::.
Kaden heard a deafening crack behind her, glancing out of the corner of her eyes she saw Taylor on the ground. It didn't look like she was going to get up again. What a good actress she was.
Kaden turned back towards her prey as she realized that her initial pounce upon them had only succeeded in making her stray further from her partner. The pack wasn't anything if not smart, they were isolating her.
Returning her attention back to the fight, she realized her three attackers formed a semi-circle around her. One male and two females- by the smell of them.
The male gave her a wolfish grin....it was a mocking one. It was his mistake.
Without a second thought, she pounced. Adrenaline pumped through her veins, coming to her aid. Kaden swiped him viciously across the snout. He yowled painfully; giving her time to jump back, ready for the next attack.
The grey she-wolf growled threateningly, no doubt he was her mate.
Refusing to be intimated, she growled back, her lip pulling up to expose her sharp canines.
Too distracted by the grey wolf, she's remembered much too late about the other dark red female wolf.
She attacked Kaden with surprising speed and agility. The she-wolf was ALMOST adequate. But being faster than Red, Kaden dodged her attack-- only to find that it was a trap.
The male jumped her from behind, pinning her while Red attacked from the front, snapping her left paw with her powerful jaws.
The grey she-wolf took advantage and knocked her over. Kaden's painful yowls turned into snarls. Anger clouded her vision as the grey female stood above her. Kaden was belly up, totally exposed.
With a feral snarl Kaden went for her neck, but the grey wolf jumped back just in time.
Kaden flipped herself onto her paws, but Red tackled her. As if by mutual agreement they all jumped in for a piece of her. And damn were they hungry.
Without thinking, she went for the one she hated the most, good ol' Red. Apparently she wasn't expecting it, because Kaden reached her throat and latched on...tightly.
The rest of Red's packmates, desperate to get Kaden off her victim, viciously attacked her.
It hurt like hell, but it didn't faze her.
Deciding Red had had enough, she tried to retreat but the male rammed into her, knocking her to the ground once more.
Kaden looked down her body to find that she'd been bitten so savagely that she could see bone. Wow, that was a lot of blood. She looked up to find the attacking wolf glaring at her and from the looks of it, she'd momentarily blinded him in the left eye. If she could laugh as a wolf she would have, but all that came out was a weird huff.
She then looked past him to the grey female on his right and the very wounded Red on his left, both flanking him.
The leader continued to glare at her as she slowly got up. Pain ripped through her, but she refused to show it. Instead she returned his glare tit for tat.
Kaden knew the look he was giving her would have subdued most anyone.
Lucky her, she wasn't just anyone--or rather any wolf.
Outnumbered, exhausted and hungry she tensed; happy to welcome any one who had the balls to attack her. She braced herself as the male got ready to spring, and by the looks of it, he had nothing to lose.
He started the carnage, and soon the females followed suit.
Mr. Wolf came at Taylor while she was on the ground. He made mistake number two coming in range, thinking she was down for the count. Ignoring the burning sensation around her middle she kicked out his legs from underneath him. Seeing an opening, Taylor kicked between his legs. Mr. Wolf doubled over with a cry.
Instead of finishing the man off, Taylor blindly whipped around to find Kaden. She was on three legs, immobile. Chunks were taken out of her and crimson coated her coat and most of the ground. The other three wolves, too engrossed in picking off pieces of her friend, didn't see Taylor coming. The light grey one nearest her paid for it dearly.
With a running kick, the she-wolf was sent spiraling across the air, landing in an unmoving heap. The other two turned on Taylor. Forgetting Kaden.
"That's enough." A voice sounded in her ear.
She jumped and aimed an elbow backward but there was a heavy blow to her head that had made her vision go instantly black.
Taylor awoke with a gasp.
Her entire body shook from the cold sweat that had beaded over her skin while she was out. The smell of dried blood and unfamiliar wolves told her where she was-- if she hadn't figured it out from the chains holding her to the wall.
"Taylor..." a voice croaked, barely audible from across the room.
"Kaden!" she whispered frantically back.
Looking quite tattered and torn, Kaden offered a sly grin back at her, "Well, look at what we've gotten ourselves into."
Taylor's mouth twitched into an amused smile that died quickly at the sight of her friend in chains, pinned on the opposite wall. She too, could feel the heavy shackles that held just enough silver in them to warm her skin uncomfortably but not enough to burn.
Thank God for small favors, she supposed.
Taylor opened her mouth to ask how long she'd been out when another voice interrupted,
"Well, well, look who's finally awake." the voiced cooed, sweet as honey.
Simultaneously, Kaden and Taylor snapped their heads toward the door, letting out an inhuman snarl.
It was Mr. Alpha himself.
He ignored their savage snapping and growling and instead of reacting, he carried on chatting,
"Welcome to Kansas City, ladies."
Taylor felt fire leap through her veins at his nonchalance. She went with her better judgment and reigned in her temper, "Thanks for the heartwarming welcoming party, but we really should be going. If you could just release us from these shackles we'll be on our way."
Okay. So it came out a little sarcastic...
His lips curled back, showing his white human teeth.
Oh. She'd made him mad... Again.
Taylor had to admit, he was good looking, about 6'3 with tan skin pulled over sculpted muscles. His hair was tousled, as if he'd just ran about 4 miles from a restaurant to here, falling around his face and hanging in his eyes.
It was his eyes that pulled Taylor in though. Pure amber-golden eyes that seemed to pull her in-- that, she assumed was because of his rank. Alpha's had a certain power over other lower ranking wolves and although Kaden and Taylor could resist the call, they weren't immune. This was half the reason being around an Alpha made her skin crawl. Despite that with his head tilted and hair obscuring the brunt of his eyes, Taylor could feel his challenging stares at the two of them.
"So, I'll make you a deal." he showed off with another flash of teeth, "I won't call Bran if you don't run off...not that you could get very far anyways."
Okay, now she wanted to kill him. Why hadn't she when she had the chance??? She mentally kicked herself.
"Lucas! Take the darker haired one into the other room. I'll deal with this one." he jerked his chin toward Taylor.
Kaden gave her a sympathetic smile-- Taylor returned a cheeky grin back, "Stay strong on me, Kaden!" she joked, overdramatically.
Kaden was about to reply when her binds that kept her on the wall were undone and she was pulled from the room by Lucas.
While Taylor's attention was elsewhere, Mr. Wolf came up to undo her chains too. Taylor growled at the sudden proximity. He hit her forehead in a taunting manner and she lunged for his hand even with her human teeth.
What made her even more frustrated-- he laughed,
"Oh, you're going to be fun to tease."
.::. Kaden's POV.::.
The new wolf, Lucas, escorted her to the room next door. He closed the door so she could no longer hear Taylor's sharp wording, poking at the Alpha's patience. He grabbed her arm and proceeded to binding her to the very uncomfortable looking chair in the room.
"Damn, if you're gonna grab me like that, you better buy me dinner first." Kaden snapped, "Preferably some rare stakes."
Lucas turned and gave her a level look; he had crew cut dirty blonde hair, and dark brown eyes, his height about two inches shorter than his Alpha.
"Just tell me your name, the pack you belong to and your business here." He was quick to get down to business.
"Seriously?" Kaden asked in bewilderment, "No steaks?"
He threw his arms up in exasperation and leaned in over her, just bare inches away.
"We can do this the easy way...or the hard way." He whispered menacingly.
She just wanted to know where the line was drawn...so she could cross it.
"Is there no semi-easy medium way?" Kaden asked.
He let an angry growl erupt from his throat. The man had no patience. This was going to take a while.
"So, why have you decided to go renegade? And dragging your friend down with you no less." he tsked at her.
Mr. Wolf, also known as Mason, had been talking forever-- trying in vain to get information out of her. Taylor knew in the next room Lucas and Kaden's 'talk' had to be going just as well.
"You know--" "MASON!" a lower ranked wolf Taylor hadn't seen, burst through the front door.
"What?" Annoyance bled from his every pore. "The Topeka Pack are coming!"
Who? Taylor had thought as she watched a very troubled Mason rise from the chair he had placed in front of her.
Taylor, placed in metal folding chair far less comfortable than his had been, tried to crane her neck around to see the window and possible the approaching pack. However, being chained to the chair provided little freedom even for her neck and all she succeeded in doing was make an obnoxious clanging sound.
Fine. She could work with this.
"Topeka?! What are they doing here?]?" Mason ran his hands through his hair.
Taylor clicked her chains on the metal chair legs. He continued to pace as the wolf answered him back, "They want to speak about the boundaries lines again."
"This isn't good..."
"If they find out we have two female Weres--"
"Will you cut that out already!" Mason rounded on her with a frustrated growl, "If they find out about you two, they'll tell Varen for sure."
"They're here." the wolf alerted.
"Shit." both Taylor and Mason echoed each other. Taylor smelled them rather than saw them, because of her chair's unfortunate view, enter through the door.
"Mason~" a voice seemed to hiss out Mr. Wolf's name "Long time, no see."
"Yes, I was rather enjoying it too." Mason stood in front of Taylor's chair back, probably trying to block the pack's view of her tied to a chair. "Yes, well- ...who's that?"
Ah, the ingenious plan fails.
Oh. Good. That'll confuse him.
"This female." Taylor heard his steps as he walked around her chair and into her view.
The wolf waltzed over like he owned the place, not at all like he was in a hostile Alpha's territory. Two dog tags dangled from a long necklace around his neck, they made soft metallic noises as he walked. The wolf was just an inch shorter than Mason. He had long, messy ebony colored hair falling into his light emerald eyes; and was wearing faded black jeans, and a white wife beater that revealed the results of long hours at the gym with skin darkened by long hours in the sun. He sported long scars that started at his collarbone and drug along his shoulder and down his left arm. "Who's she?" The new Alpha asked Mason.
"Her? Not that it's any of your business, but she's a pack member."
Ha! Taylor had to suppress a laugh.
"She's in chains."
"Yes. I'm aware of that."
"As am I," Taylor retorted with a glare at both of them.
The Topeka pack leader-- he was obviously Alpha, sniffed in Taylor's direction. "She's not in your pack...she's not in any pack." His eyes widened incredulously. "Varen doesn't know, does he?"
"…They just showed up today. I was going to call him when I learnt what packs they had originally came from."
"I'll call him for you."
Mason gave him a short glare before opening his mouth, "Okay, I'm sure we can come to some kind of agreement where we won't have to get the very busy Head Alpha, Varen, involved."
The other Alpha didn't look like he was too fond of the idea. "We captured two females. This one," he pointed at Taylor "And another in the other room. Considering our shortage of pack females…I'll let you have one."
Taylor was about to tell him exactly what he could have when Kaden's voice stopped her train of thought. "WHAT?!? Taylor couldn't see but she could imagine her friend seething in the doorway. "Taylor, did this bastard just give me away?!"
Taylor couldn't stop her laughter. "Yes. I believe he just proposed that." Taylor heard her friend stomp across the floor, probably dragging her wolf escort behind her.
Kaden finally appeared in her view, her eyes already rimmed with a warm honey tone—her wolf was close to the surface. While Kaden proceeded to shout obscenities at the speechless Alpha, Taylor turned to Mason to chew him out as well.
"I'll take her." Was all that Taylor could hear before the screech of her best friend filled the room.
l Axel's POV l
Axel could do nothing but stare. No one had ever dared talk to him like that, no one still alive that is.
His first instinct was to take her down as fast and efficiently as possible- However, he fought the urge and just stared at her just like you would a naked person walking down a crowded street. Her dark brown hair was in knots; her eyes, which were gradually lightening from brown to honey, were wild with fury and passion, her skin was a soft caramel color that contrasted with her eyes and all she wore was a white t-shit plenty of sizes too big. Her left arm dangled at a strange angle, broken no doubt. The She-wolf was coated in crusty blood and as she proceeded with her violent gestures and he could see that her thigh was starting to bleed again from a deep gash. She was in no shape to be standing up.
"Are--you--listening to me?!" She screamed at him.
"No, not really," He replied honestly. "But just calm down and--"
"The hell I will!" The girl replied, growing more hysterical by the minute. Her wolf escort had long abandoned her, for fear of her wrath. "Who do you," She pointed to Mason "think you are, giving me away like you own me!?"
"You're bleeding more substantially than before. If you continue like this, you'll faint." Axel tried to tell her, but she wouldn't listen.
"Lassie, you should calm down before you faint from blood loss." Replied the female that psycho-girl had called Taylor. Lassie stilled and looked over at where Taylor sat, and after a brief pause, she nodded absently. It wasn't a command, just a suggestion, and it showed how much this "Lassie" respected Taylor, that she would agree with her without question. Everyone stood still for who knows how long before she went over to where Taylor was seated and took the chair beside her.
"Well, looks like we'll have to keep these two together." Axel said with a smile in his eyes. He hesitated, then walked over to where "Lassie" sat and knelt to where he was just an inch taller than she was. "What do you call yourself?" He asked her.
"Well," She said, turning to Lucas and giving him a triumphant look, "Ask, Lucas. Right now, I'd say he'd call me hungry."
Axel glanced over at where Lucas stood, cradling his bleeding arm....wounded from a recent bite. He'd been distracted and hadn't noticed Lucas. Axel gave her a bewildered look. "Chill, she's hasn't lost control of her wolf, she was just angry with being chained." Taylor offered, trying not to laugh at him. "And who can blame her?" She added, with a wolfish grin.
"Mason, they need food and rest. And we need to talk."
.::.~Taylor & Kaden's POV~.::.
"Good call on the steaks." Taylor mumbled around a mouth full of steak.
"I know, right? Nothing says, we want you to stop complaining and shut up, like steaks." Kaden waved her fork around while gesturing.
"True. Who needs to be dominant when you have a freezer full of these babies."
Taylor sighed happily while cutting another piece off, this was a rather difficult task itself without the use of steak knives. Guess they still didn't trust them. Who knows why that was.
When they both had their fill, they began to grow tired of waiting in their chairs. And by 'waiting' it meant they were handcuffed.
Taylor and Kaden held their breath, trying to minimize any sound that hampered their hearing of the two Alpha's conversation in the kitchen.
To their displeasure, the Alpha's had turned on the microwave—whether it was to heat their own dinners or just a ploy to block out nosy listeners, they didn't know.
They did happen to catch bits and pieces as the conversation turned more heated and voices raised a fraction.
"You're lucky I'm even considering giving up one!"
"Well, you're lucky I'm deciding to only take one!"
Kaden and Taylor rolled their eyes, they weren't talking about steaks. Oh no, they were talking about them.
"And how are we going to split—" The microwave dinged and their voices were drown out by the microwave door opening then slamming shut.
"I agree. It's settled then."
Taylor wanted to cry in frustration, could the timing have been any worse? One look at Kaden told her the same thing, how unlucky were they? Before either one of them could put into words how cursed they were, one of their captors pushed open the white kitchen door.
It was Mason. He had what looked like a double stacked hot dog in one in his left hand and two cell phones in the other. He stalked out into the room and threw himself into the dining room chair next to Taylor. Mason had on casual white-collared button down shirt that was left open to expose his chest, and faded jeans that hung low on his hips. His left arm had a leather strap that wove around his arm several times before meeting at the end of his wrist, tying off with a small bronze Celtic medallion. Mason face was twisted up into a scowl, how he managed that while eating was a mystery. Neither Taylor nor Kaden made an attempt at conversation while he scarfed down his double hot dog filled with enough ketchup, mustard and relish that the smell triggered memories of the fair.
Now Kaden wanted some cotton candy. Blue preferably.
The door to the kitchen banged open again and Taylor's head whipped to the sound while Kaden ignored it, instead favoring to draw circles on her plate with her left over steak juices.
The other Alpha plopped down in the chair next to Kaden.
Both Alphas glared at each other while attacking their poor defenseless hot dogs.
When it was clear neither was going to speak up, Taylor decided it was time to remind them they were captives and quite unhappy about it.
"How was your steak?" Taylor tried to sound casual.
"Good."Kaden played along like they had telepathy.
"Too bad…" Taylor set her fork down with a sigh.
"I know." Kaden nodded in sympathy. "
You'd think they had no sense at all."
"I don't think they do."
"It'd be more thoughtful at this point if they just killed us, put us out of our misery. You know?"
Taylor saw in her peripheral vision that both men had stopped chewing and glaring, instead tuning into their conversation.
"True. Instead they just cuff us to chairs. Kinky bastards." Kaden shook her head solemnly.
Taylor had to stifle a smile before she replied, "I mean here we are, broken, bruised and bloody and we're still man-handled."
"You think they'd treat us like the rare gems we are."
"I know. I mean they don't even know your name."
"Not through lack of trying." Mason retorted dryly.
"Oh. Now they're listening to our conversations. How rude." Taylor turned her head to acknowledge Mason.
"This is getting out of control." Kaden said in mock terror.
"What is your name, anyway?" the dark-haired wolf asked Kaden.
"Why do you want to know? I mean, is it really necessary? It's not like I'm applying for a job or creating a profile on E-Harmony."
"Yes. It is." He narrowed his eyes visibly trying to reign in his temper. "Okay, I'll make you a deal, I'll tell you my name in exchange for yours."
"Fine, ladies first." Kaden made a gesture at him.
Taylor made a low chuckle watching the Alpha clench his jaw in annoyance. "I'm Axel, Alpha of the Topeka pack." He announced with pride.
"Good for you." Kaden would've patted him on the shoulder if she wouldn't have thought he'd break her only currently working arm.
"And your name?" he prompted with slight annoyance. "Oh. Lassie." Kaden said in a matter-of-fact tone.
"That's not your real name." Axel spoke through clenched teeth. "Well, it's one of my names. You should have specified which one you wanted." Kaden gave a shrug.
Taylor covered her laugh poorly with a fake cough. Both girls were surprised their fun wasn't being spoiled by Mason. They were sure he had heard Taylor call Kaden's name earlier. But either he wasn't inclined to help Axel out or he just liked seeing the Alpha squirm because he never said a word. After a few more rounds of name dodging, Mason spoke up, "Well, I'm going to take Taylor," he emphasized Taylor's name just to spite Axel, "to her room downstairs in the western wing. I have prepared rooms for you and...Lassie in the eastern wing."
With that explained Mason hoisted up Taylor's chair and proceeded to carry her out of the room. Kaden would have laughed at Taylor's shocked expression if it wasn't for her own sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. They were going to be staying in separate rooms, who knows how far away from each other. Alone. When was the last time she stayed alone? Kaden was sure Taylor was thinking the same thing as she was hauled away.
Taylor was not thinking of the same thing as Kaden. She was, instead, thinking of Mason's big dumb wolf head.
It was in striking distance, she thought, was it worth it? No. No. Not now. Not with her chair being held several feet in the air, being carried off— CARRIED?? Taylor twisted around in her chair to watch Kaden's receding form still seated at the table. Taylor couldn't let show how upset she was that they were being separated. That would give them power over them. Instead she gave a small smile complete with a weak wave at Kaden then turned her attention forward to Mason's path.
It was always good to memorize the way back to freedom.
Mason stopped in front of an oak door and set the dining room chair down.
"Are you going to try to hit me?" he asked warily.
Taylor couldn't help the small laugh that escaped her lips. "I thought about it. But no, not tonight…wait. Why? Are you going to do something else that deserves a hit?"
He smiled back, "Not that I know of, I'm just showing you to your room." And with that explanation he proceeded to uncuff her arm from the chair.
Again Taylor felt like she had to run.
But then her mind wandered back to Kaden. She was still cuffed and guarded by an Alpha herself. Neither one of them was up for another fight, or even running away.
With a sigh, ignoring the burning sensation around her middle, Taylor rose from her chair. They would wait. And when they were healed, thank god they healed fast, they'd give 'em hell. Mason seemed satisfied with her resigned expression and before Taylor could react, Mason scooped her up in his arms and pushed the door open.
Taylor was vaguely aware of them descending steps but abandoned all logic and starting to screech, curse and elbow him in the ribs and stomach. "Put me DOWN!" Taylor bellowed.
"Shh. You'll wake up all the wolves." he chastised.
Wolves? Who the hell cared about them? "PUTMEDOOOWN!" she developed a howl quality this time.
Mason seemed to falter down the last few steps as he received blows to his abdomen. "So much for not getting hit." Mason murmured, although he was sure she couldn't hear him over her protests. "Here you go," he nudged another door open with his shoulder. He plopped her on a queen-sized bed that was a deep maroon with cream colored pillows.
Taylor stopped to catch her breath, still glaring at him. "This is your room. You're welcome." Before Taylor could spit back an insult, he sat down on the bed next to her. She shut her mouth, opting for a frown instead.
Oh great. What now?
"Lay down." He ordered.
"Excuse me?" Taylor raised an eyebrow.
"Lay. Down." He sounded each syllable like she was confused with what he had said.
"N. O." she stuck out her tongue for good measure, childish but effective.
He gave a growl and pushed her down by her shoulders. Taylor felt a tremor of fear run through her. Mason grabbed both of her wrists in one hand and pulled them over her head, his other hand lifted her shirt. Taylor started to growl and flail desperately, using her still free legs to land hard blows to Mason's side. He didn't even flinch, a lesser wolf would have let go immediately and probably suffer from internal damage for a few days. Alpha werewolves were scary. Pulling all that strength from their pack.
"Geez," Taylor stopped struggling to hear Mason's relatively calm voice.
Another surge of anger rose from inside her but died instantly as Mason's free hand was placed on her stomach. "You have at least three broken ribs that I can feel and that's just on the left side."
"I know." She snarled "I can take care of my own injuries if you'd just give me some bindings."
"Nonsense. You don't want to have to rebreak these if their set wrong and heal that way." He took out a wrap from the first aid kit on the night stand.
"You can let go of my wrists now." she said it as a suggestion but it was its tone made it sound like an order. She knew how much Alpha's hated following orders. And if she wanted to be free within the next century, she'd play by the rules...barely.
"I don't know, you could freak out again." he shook his head.
"That's your fault. If you'd just tell me what you were going to do I would've let you." Okay, that was a lie but whatever. She wouldn't have freaked out as much.
"Fine. Hold still." He released her abused wrists and she exhaled in relief. As he began binding around her waist she flashed back to the last time she had been so close to another Alpha.
Michael looked into her eyes. It was time.
"Come with me." Taylor tugged his arm. "
I can't. Jackson orders."
"Fuck his orders!" Taylor growled "Don't you love me?"
"…I do…but we can't be together…" Mike grimaced, feeling the Alpha's power near.
"Taylor." A deep voice echoed "Why are you out here? Disobeying my orders." Taylor felt his power. He was so angry, the swirling energy made her sick. "
I'm not getting mated to anyone you choose, Jackson."
"Wouldn't you rather have a dominant anyways? One who could give you power?"
"You mean like you? What about Tawney, you bastard." Taylor snarled. "
I'm bored of her." He closed the space in between them.
"I'm leaving this pack."
"I forbid it."
"I didn't ask. I was telling you." With that she shoved one of the only wolves she'd ever loved into her former Alpha. It was the only way he would've protected her considering he had been cowering in the corner since Jackson had showed up. Then without a second glance, she ran.
Taylor came back to as Mason clicked the kit shut.
"That should do. Goodnight, Taylor."
"Hmm." She gave him a nod as she lay her head down on the pillow. She never wanted to be controlled again. She'd die first. As she closed her eyes she was vaguely aware of the faint clicking sound of a lock sliding into place.
.::. Kaden's POV.::.
Axel was waving his hand in front of Kaden's face.
Angry with her thoughts being interrupted she lunged at it, clasping onto it like one would a lifeline. He took his other hand and pried her jaws open, retreating his wounded hand.
"Yep, she's a biter." Lucas said as he walked by, laughing at the other Alpha's luck.
"Damn!" He said standing up and walking to the kitchen. When he came back he had a blood soaked rag that covered the almost completely healed wound. "What the hell's your problem?"
"Take a wild guess." She said, looking down at her bruised body. "Can you just take me to my room?"
"Give me your name."
"I diiiid!" She whined.
"No, you played me into a game of wits, so either give me your birth-given name, or you're sleeping cuffed to that chair and not just tonight." He warned her, as he sat back down and turned her chair to face his, his expression controlled though she could smell faint traces of curiosity.
"Oh ok, it's nonexistent. See, I suffer from amnesia." She replied with a wide smile. Axel ruffled his hair and hesitated for a few seconds, then took out a set of small silver keys and uncuffed her. She looked up at him puzzled.
"Why'd you take them off?" She said rubbing her raw wrists. "C'mon, let's go to your room. We'll discuss this another time." He said as he stood, extending his hand to her, so she could use him as leverage. Reluctantly she took it. He put her hand on the crook of his arm against many of her protests and in the end had to hold it there while leading her through the big house. After a short journey they stopped at a door and the Alpha took out another set of keys to unlocked the door. He opened the door and all that stood on the other side was a big bed and a nightstand.
So much for personality.
"I'll send a doctor in a short while."
"Don't bother. I've had to do this so often I might as well be certified." She replied warily.
"Yes, that would help."
"I'll be back shortly…Lassie." He said, almost regretfully. He was trying to guilt her into giving him her name.
"Kaden." She said before she could think twice.
After a while, he came back with some bandages and cookies. "Let me see your injuries." He said, starting for the bed Kaden was so happily being lazy in.
"Nope. You don't show your enemies your weakness." Kaden replied.
He kept coming toward her with the cookies and bandages. Kaden freaked out and started yelling at him to stop. But he just kept on coming. She looked around for weapons, but failed to find any suitable ones, so she settled for the pillow she had so comfortably been laying on. "I uh, I have a pillow. And I'm not afraid to use it!" She said, almost seriously. Axel stopped and burst out laughing.
"I'm only here to set your arm, I do have to take care of my possessions you know." She glared and threw the pillow. He efficiently dodged it and sat safely on the bed. So much for weapons. He set the items down on the nightstand and then started on setting her arm. Kaden bit her lip to make sure he didn't know how much it hurt, but damn was it hard. After he finished she stayed up to bandage the rest of her bruises. He offered to, but of course she wouldn't let him. When she finally finished, Kaden was so tired she couldn't manage the covers so she plopped on top of them and fell into a long, dreamless sleep.
After her third attempt, she was getting frustrated. She would have had this done by now, had she not been working with a bra wire. It also didn't help this wasn't your average, run of the mill, lock. With one last jab and a twist, a satisfying pop sounded.
She resisted the urge to swing the door open and exclaim, 'Free at Last!' Instead she opted for a stealthier approach and cracked the door open.
Taylor had no idea what time it was, being that there was no clock in her bare room but it had to be early. She didn't hear the sound of wolves bustling about.
Taylor slipped through the door and up the steps-- which proceeded to scare her with each creak and followed Kaden's weak scent throughout the house. She did, however, pause at the door to the kitchen.
She made a detour knowing Kaden would appreciate food with her visit.
After a few minutes, Taylor emerged with several bags of chips, cans of pop, a deck of cards, each of the Alpha's cell phones and several overused paperclips for future locks in need of picking. She followed Kaden's scent down the winding hallway of the east wing. She stopped at a reinforced door with one giant lock on it. With a flip of her wrist Taylor unlocked Kaden's door.
"Hey buddy!" Taylor kicked the door with her foot, seeing as her hands were full of junk food. Kaden was busy examining her bandages and didn't even bother to look up or act surprised, "Took you long enough."
Taylor unloaded the mound of snacks from her arms and onto the bed. The rustle of the bags caught Kaden's attention, "Ooh! You went on a fun-run! All is forgiven."
Kaden grabbed at the bag of Funyuns and Taylor began to shuffle the deck of cards. Both girls knew they couldn't escape yet, their injuries didn't really bother them anymore but it could still slow them down in the long run. And when you were out running a pack, every last detail went into effect. So instead of running they opted to bide time...the fun way.
"Up for a game of Speed?" Taylor shuffled the cards. "You know it." Kaden replied around a mouthful of funyuns.
After much arguing over who said 'speed' first during the fifth tie-breaker round, a phone rang. Both Taylor and Kaden grabbed for a cell phone and answered with a cheery hello.
"Yo." Kaden's greeting was rewarded with a snarl and a very unfriendly
"Who's this?!" Taylor tossed her losing phone to the side and listened more intently to Kaden.
"Lassie. Who's this?"
"Where's Chris?!" snarled the pissed off female.
"I 'unno." Kaden shrugged with her reply, "Where is he?"
Kaden then turned to Taylor, "Sadie, you know where he is?"
"No clue." She said as she munched on some cheetohs.
The female screeched again, bringing her back to their center of focus, "Where are you located?!"
"My room. The one with the huge lock. And you?"
"Topeka." she growled.
"Sadie, do you know where Topikah is?"
"Oh Topeka." Kaden was corrected over the phone. "
Ha, ha, Topeka. I like it, it's catchy. Topeka~"
It seemed their female informant had had enough of their ridicule and hung up the phone. Kaden looked at the phone with a frown, "How rude." She then proceeded to pocket the phone.
"I'm hungry." Taylor proclaimed.
"You think there's more steaks?"
"Nah, I think we laid waste to them....oh. I know. How about pizza?"
"Meat lovers?" Cal asked hopefully from the doorway. Without missing a beat, the girls agreed with a hearty "Hell yeah!" Taylor was already punching in numbers on what she assumed was Mason's cell phone. "Only if you pay." Kaden laughed. After their second round of poker, using fritos as chips, another guest arrived. A sleepy looking Axel sauntered in, "Deal me in." They all slid over to make room as the doorbell rang.
"Who's that?" Axel asked, examining his cards. "Pizza." Kaden and Taylor explained in unison.
"Meat lovers?" Axel asked hopefully. "Naturally." Lucas stated, Lucas, their 'guard' had shown up right as they started to deal their cards.
The bell rang again.
"You gonna get that?" Axel asked the girls.
"Nope. Mason can take care of it." Taylor waved the subject away and turned her attention back to the cards.
== Mason's POV ==
What was that annoying sound?
It continued to get louder and more frequent as it drug him back to consciousness.
"Ugh...what now?" he murmured into his pillow. It was bad enough he was sharing his house with a rival Alpha but two crazy She-wolves that resisted any and all assistance? It wore him out. With a grumble he hoisted himself out of bed and staggered out to answer the door. The mystery visitor had abandoned the doorbell now, instead pounding on the door.
"Yes?" Mason had snatched the door open before another round of pounding could ensue.
"Ah, hey man, didn't think you were ever gonna answer. Here's you order, five large meat lover pizzas."
The young teen pushed the five boxes into Mason's hands. "That'll be $62.53" The boy looked at him expectantly.
"I didn't order this." He gestured to his sleepwear to say he'd just got out of bed.
The teen ignored Mason and began digging in his jeans. He tried to give it back to him but he refused as he pulled out a scrap of paper.
"Are you Mason Kavanaugh?" The boy looked at the receipt.
"Yes." he set the boxes on the nearby counter.
"Well, this is where we were suppose to deliver....some female...Tra...Tay..."
"Taylor." Mason couldn't keep the venom from his voice.
"Yes! Her. She placed the delivery here...was it a prank phone call?"
Mason thought for several heartbeats, "No. No, it wasn't." he sighed "How much do I owe you?"
"Let me go get my wallet." Mason rubbed his face with one hand. After paying the bill and giving the teen a small tip, he slammed the door shut. She'd escaped. Damn. Mason rushed to her room to find it empty with a wire still dangling from the lock. Stomping back up the stairs he heard it. Laughter. Who the hell was laughing at 8:30 in the morning? He followed the sound to the room he'd assigned for Kaden. What he discovered shocked him.
There, in the small room, were Taylor, Kaden, Axel, Lucas and Calvin. They all sat in a circled engrossed in what looked like an intense game of poker.
"I call your bet." Taylor triumphantly slid two Fritos forward. Mason saw his two wolves stiffen and look up at their Alpha. He raised an eyebrow and they scrambled to their feet, "We'll uh, go dish out some pizza."
Lucas supplied before rounding the corner and following Cal.
"Morning." Taylor grinned.
His temper flared, "How'd you get out?"
Taylor didn't seem the least bit intimidated, "Well, I'm sure you saw, I picked the lock." She leaned over to look at Cal's abandoned cards that he foolishly left on the floor face up. "Ha. I knew he was bluffing." she laughed to herself.
"Why the hell are there five boxes--Is that my phone???" Mason took a step closer and bent to pick up his cell that was surrounded by empty wrappers near Taylor.
"Oh? It's yours?"
"I had it locked in the kitchen drawer last night with Axels'." He checked his outgoing calls and found Pizza Hut as the last call. Yep. The little thief.
"Wait. My phone was in there too?" Axel whipped to looked at Mason "Is it still in there?"
"Probably not." He said, narrowing his eyes on Taylor.
"Hey, I don't have his phone." Taylor held up her hands. All eyes turned to Kaden.
.::. Kaden's POV.::.
"What'd I do now?" Kaden said innocence radiating from her wide eyes. "I didn't steal his phone. Hey Lucas, gimme a slice would ya?"
"Then who did?" Mason asked, rhetorically.
"Yeah, me too Luke." Taylor interrupted, calling everyone's attention back to her.
"Tay, pass me a soda?" Kaden asked.
"Who has my pho---."
"You mean pop." She asked, cutting across Axel and opening a new case of Mt. Dew.
"THE PHONE!" Axel demanded.
"Geez, someone's grumpy." Kaden replied. "I have a phone. Some very rude chick called about an hour ago for some guy named Chris. He in the pack?" She then asked Mason. "....no." Mason replied, stifling a smile.
"CHISTOPHER AXEL ARMSTRONG!"
l Axel's POV l
No way. Audrey? Here? NOW? Damn it all. Damn it all to hell.
He got up and started for the door.
"Christopher?" Kaden asked. "Oh my God, no friggin' way."
Taylor added laughing so hard she doubled over clutching her stomach.
"Shut...up..." Axel replied, now turning down the hallway. He was headed for the entrance to the house, but Audrey saved him the trouble. "Where have you been? Your pack has been worried sick! Why don't you have your phone? And who the hell is Lassie and Sadie?" She asked, jealousy creeping into her voice.
Axel knew she was just here to keep an eye on him. His pack would have known if something had gone wrong which it hadn't. He held up one finger, "Here." Then added another. "Sadie." And then a third finger joined the other two as he simply stated "My poker buds."
Audrey shrieked with rage and walked up to him and tried to slap him, but he grabbed her wrist, his movement barely traceable.
"Stop struggling." He told her, and immediately, she did.
"Go back home." He told her. "They can," she said pointing over her shoulder, "I'm staying."
Axel looked at the other half dozen wolves and in resignation, turned to Mason.
"Up to you Alpha man. Will you allow her?" He asked.
"No problem here." Mason replied.
"Great." Axel said, sounding less than happy.
Audrey's face morphed from rage to ecstatic as she smile up at Axel and asked what had been going on. He ignored her and returned to Kaden's room. "I'm going to bed." And without another word, pulled up the covers of Kaden's bed and went to bed. "But....that's my bed." Kaden said, around a mouthful of pizza. Axel opened his almond shaped eyes and looked over at where she stood, slice of pizza in one hand and a Mt. dew on the other. "Sharing is caring." He replied, patting the pillow next to him.
"Oh yeah. I care so much that I'm going to let you have the whole bed. And Taylor cares about me so much, she's going to share her bed....i hope."
Taylor looked over at Kaden "Yeah no prob, this room's trashed. Candy wrappers, beer and soda cans all over the place, nah I can't let you sleep in here."
Axel scoffed and turned his back to the room, giving a silent signal for everyone to leave the vicinity. "Sorry for the mess in here Mace, I'm sure Axel will have it cleaned up in no time." Taylor voiced, sounding more than assured that Axel would do the work.
"Yeah, we sure as hell aren't." Kaden added as she walked out of the room, down the hallway and into the kitchen for a second slice. Everyone, except sleeping beauty did too.
The kitchen now held, Kaden, Taylor, Mason, Calvin, Lucas and Audrey. With the Alpha's rage meter off the charts, the victim could be any of them at this point, they had all done some thing or another to anger him and the large kitchen now felt stuffed and confined with his power surrounding them.
Taylor sighed. "Well, Mason, ma' man, I'm ready to fall over from exhaustion. If you don't mind I promised a certain friend of mine that I would share my bed with them. So I bid you fare well and g'night." She said, slowly backing out of the room.
"Uh...I'm the...friend...so if you don't mind I'm just gonna grab a box of pizza...and...yeah..." Kaden, added as she followed Taylor out of the room, pizza balanced on one hand soda can held in the other.
Mason ignored them and started pacing, but halfway down the hallway both girls could hear him clearly disciplining his wolfs for playing poker and ordering pizza with two someones who were clearly under lock and key. And if that wasn't bad enough, Audrey started to question the Alpha on Taylor and Kaden's existence and their place here.
Soon she would know everything, and all might go to hell, but for now they had things to discuss themselves.
Everything after their initial escape from Mason's rant was kinda fuzzy after that... Guess four cans of Mt. Dew and at least six slices of pizza can do that to you at eight in the morning. Either way, Taylor and Kaden staggered into Taylor's 'room' and passed out. They didn't even bother to get under the covers or even shut the door.
That, was their first-- well, third or was it fourth? Mistake since coming to this place. Saying they were tired was an understatement. Normally, both women would jerk awake at the mere scent change in the air around them when they were sleeping.
Not only did someone waltz into their room undetected, they got close enough to them to press a cold wet nose to Taylor's cheek.
"Yahh!" She swung the arm that had been hanging off the bed and arced a swipe across the air.
Instead of hitting her offender, she hit her bed mate lying next to her.
"Oof!" Kaden bolted up into a sitting position, ready to deck whoever had hit her.
Taylor, eyes now open, fists out and ready to demolish whoever was stupid enough to approach her sleeping form, took in the wolf at their bedside.
It was Lucas. He was a rather large wolf, most of his bulk settling around his shoulders. He was a plain wash grey, peppered with specks of brown and black around his face and mane. Lucas' tongue was lolling out of his opening mouth, as close to a wolf grin as his muzzle would allow.
"What?" Taylor growled as Kaden let out a puff of breath in annoyance.
Lucas gave a short bark and turned his back to trot out of the room. "You suppose that means he wants us to follow?" Taylor asked.
"Probably." Kaden fell back on her pillow.
"Hm." Taylor laid back as well and just as her eyes were starting to get heavy again, a yell jerked her back to consciousness.
"GET UP HERE!" It was Mason.
Taylor could hear muffled activity on the floor above and curiosity was her only motivation as she swung her legs off the bed and onto the floor.
"Hurry up!" Mason sounded again, this time she heard distinct whining sounds.
"Oh, shut up!" Taylor growled as both her and Kaden got up and stretched-- taking their own sweet time.
"What's going on?" Kaden sounded wary.
"I don't know..." And neither really wanted to know. Side by side, they left the room and ascended the steps to what was in store. Both would have never guessed that when they reached the living room, they would be greeted by at least a dozen of the pack members in wolf form.
Taylor's head jerked back and Kaden took in a sharp breath of surprise. The only two still in human form were Mason and Axel. Axel was stretched across the couch, given wide berth from the other pack. Audrey was the only wolf near him, laying on the floor next to the couch. She was a bright blonde shade that seemed to shimmer in the low sunlight coming through the windows. Low sunlight?? Taylor noted that the sun was on the verge of setting beyond the hills.
"Wow. We've slept awhile." Kaden voiced what Taylor was thinking.
"Finally!" Mason had been leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest.
"What's all the fuss about?" Taylor questioned.
"We're going on a pack hunt." Mason explained.
"Which means you're going on a pack hunt." Axel added in.
Taylor wrinkled her nose at the order but couldn't deny the feeling that leapt out at her. Joy. She wanted to stretch her legs, run. The dull pain in her ribs reminded her that she wouldn't be sprinting-- but a light trot would suffice.
Taylor glanced at Kaden. Based on her expression, she had mixed emotions too. "Oh, goodie." Kaden directed her sarcasm at Axel, who arose from the couch and almost stepped on Audrey.
"Changing will help speed up the healing process." Mason pointed out the obvious.
"Fine. What kind game do you even have around here, anyway?"
"Fun ones." Axel gave them a cheeky smile.
"I meant animals! Hunting game." Taylor shook her head in exaggerated disgust.
"Oh, plenty. Anything to satisfy your tastes."
Taylor gave a nod of approval and looked at Kaden who did the same. They were going hunting. With a pack. Who'd have thought?
Several minutes later, a whole pack emerged from the house. As in turned out, Taylor and Kaden had no feel for pack dynamics. With all the examining, sniffing and playful bumps quickly turned into snapping and snarling. Taylor's gums peeled over her canines as another female, one who neither Kaden nor her recognized, confronted her.
The brown She-wolf was sleek but fit. She snapped at Taylor's paws in warning. Ears back, both Kaden and Taylor growled in warning back. The pack had split apart to give, what Taylor now assumed to be the Alpha female, room.
This was silly. Taylor gave a snort and stood up straighter in nonchalance. The female still didn't back down. Taylor gave a wag of her head and pawed the ground. She didn't want to be in the pack at all, the female's rank was safe. Still, the female bared her fangs. Kaden gave a snap of her own jaws as another wolf got too close to her. He was black as night, and tall even for a werewolf. It was Axel, trying to tell the female to back off, which-- only proceeded in making Audrey growl solely at Kaden.
Oh damn. This got out of control fast. Kaden was dealing with a snapping Audrey as Axel only made things worse and Taylor stared down the Alpha female. Mason couldn't help out with this one. His hands-- er, paws, were tied.
The Alpha's had a policy, however stupid it may be and that was the way things were. In the Alpha female's mind, a new comer had to be put in their place. A place below her. And that wasn't going to happen, no matter what shape she was in, she'd go down fighting. With one last ditch effort, Taylor tried to reason with the female. Instead the bitch lunged at her throat.
Taylor was faster than that though, even with broken-- well, probably bruised ribs now. She grabbed hold of the brown Alpha's mane and shook her like a rag doll. She was light enough that her body was actually lifted off the ground slightly. While what little strength she'd gained through her sleep was sapped, she tossed the wolf into the other She-wolves that were watching with fascination.
Unfortunately, the throw had hardly slowed the Alpha female down, just pissed her off. Before either of them had time to attack again, Mason was there. His wolf form was a shocking red, as red as a fox's coat. With one low growl, he told the female that that was enough for now. She froze, ears pinned to her head and eyes glued to the floor. Mason's golden eyes then turned to her. Taylor gave a jolt as their eyes met…
.::. Kadens' POV .::.
Kaden growled and took several steps closer to Audrey, warning her to back the hell off or deal with the consequences. Audrey just snapped at her front paws, trying to get her to leave. Fine, she would. But only because it sounded like Taylor's side of pack drama was reaching a new sky high, and they always had each other's backs.
As she tried to make her way back to Taylor's side, Axel stood in the way, as if giving her permission to try and beat Audrey's status of Alpha female and join his ranks.
Kaden snorted and as she continued to stalk her way around Axel, someone had tackled her from behind. Pissed off from all the games they were playing, she lunged….and missed Audrey by inches. She may be very God damn annoying, but she was Alpha female for a good reason.
Fine, if they wanted to play, she was game. It was Audrey's turn to attack, and fail miserably. Adequate as she may be, she was no match for a lone rogue female. One who had faced it all--with Taylor of course. If she hadn't have had Taylor by her side she probably wouldn't be alive and in the good company of this bitch. The hunting game continued, and Audrey was visibly wearing out. Kaden might be injured, but at least she had energy.
Kaden's wolf let out a , aimed to anger Audrey. It worked. With blind fury alive in her brown eyes she clumsily attacked Kaden from the side and made her back into another wolf. A good sniff of the air informed her it was Taylor dearest.
Before either could have a stare down, Taylor was bumped by Kaden as she dodged a bite by Audrey.
Axel stood in between them now, neither appeared to be hurt either.
Saved by the Alphas'.
It would have been a shame had they fought and beaten the females. Sure they'd be left alone afterwards. But they'd also be Alpha females themselves.
Taylor gave a shake of her coat as she felt the revulsion go through her. Giving a bark to Kaden, both of them walked out of the cluster, giving the steaming females room to cool...for the time being.
As if the stupid Alpha's hadn't helped out enough, they followed after them. With a bark from Axel's shadowy form, he stepped forward to rub his head against Kaden. Much like a cat did, this wasn't a show of affection as much as a declaration. Kaden was Axel's. And while Taylor watched Kaden 'deal' with Axel's proclamation, Mason stepped up and did the same. While this wasn't a permanent marking, it still meant the same as if they'd been marked with a bite. But a simple shower or roll in leaves would fix the marking and that was the only reason both Alpha's were still intact.
Had they over stepped the bounds much more they would never have had the opportunity to do it again.
Mirroring Kaden's growl, Taylor snapped at Mason, who as usual, seemed unaffected.
Taylor never had so much trouble intimidating anyone.
Glancing at Kaden, Taylor was sure she was having similar thoughts as Axel pawed and inched closer to her even as she snapped at him. With a snort of air, Taylor closed her muzzle and looked toward Mason. Hopefully the meaning was clear, 'Let's go already.' She was hungry and impatient for whatever freedom and movement was allowed.
He understood and gave an authoritative bark and the pack was on the move.
Silently leaping over fallen trunks and foliage with little to no noise. It didn't take long at all for the pack to scent deer. As Taylor and Kaden burst through the clearing, there were three doe grazing, oblivious to the danger because the pack was downwind.
'Too easy,' Kaden thought, about to rush one.
Axel stepped into front of her, stopping her. The same for Taylor and Mason. If not for spooking the deer, they would have snarled.
As it seemed, the lower ranks were supposed to take the deer. At least this time. They were to be decoys to make the deer go in the wrong direction, into the claws of the pack. Ambush wasn't Taylor's thing. They both chased their game down, no tricks. If the deer outran them, it was their fault; they'd do better next time. Work harder. Taylor and Kaden had a few fast-food nights because something had managed to slip through their grasp.
But this? Kaden voiced her opinion with a sharp bark.
The deer ran before the pack was in position and darted.
Axel and Mason sprung into action as only Alpha's in their position would do. With savage barks of annoyance that would later be translated into chastising words they dove after the doe. As a pair they worked to bring a deer down each.
Kaden and Taylor trotted up to the dead deer happily. The pack fanning out around them. Taylor had a feeling if they could talk, they'd be muttering obscenities at them costing one deer.
Eh, so Bambi's mother lived another day. To the humans, this would have been a saintly act-- er...sort of.
Taylor watched Mason rip a leg off Doe #1 while Axel still had his maw around Doe #2's neck. As both of them inched closer to the kill, both Alpha's growled. Those S.O.B'S! They actually expected them to wait to eat after them. Sure, it was their kill. And they HAD made it harder than intended... But that wasn't what bugged them.
The Alpha's got to eat first, then so on. So, there probably wouldn't even one good piece on either deer when it was their turn.
Kaden gave a snort and pushed her way out of the circle awaiting their turn. Taylor followed in suit, stomping her paws in protest. What was the point of coming again? After a few good minutes Mason came sauntering up to Taylor, lying down on the dirt. He licked the blood that hardly showed up on his already red muzzle.
With a low annoyed growl that Taylor didn't even raise her head for, Mason went back into the circle of the pack. When he came back, he was carrying a leg. Not the ideal piece, skinny, tough dark meat. But even this was better than what she would've gotten had pack dynamics gone into play.
Kaden nudged Taylor's shoulder with hers to show Axel playing tug-of-war with his carcass. It looked like he was trying to share too. Audrey just wasn't willing to.
Taylor rose to her feet and tried not to give him too much praise. 'Yeah, yeah, thanks.' She gave a nod as he dropped the leg and nudged it toward her with his nose. Fine. She'd eat it. But she didn't have to enjoy it. She gave Mason one last wary look before sinking her canines into the limb.
Axel must have gotten everything under control because the heavy plop of the carcass sounded close to Taylor. She looked next to her. Kaden was dining on part of the middle. Lucky girl. She knew Kaden would share, but she wasn't about to get Audrey on her ass for eating Axel's kill too. She had enough to worry about.
After both Taylor and Kaden were sated they started at a trott back into the woods for some light exercise but as usual Mason didn't approve.
They simultaneously gave each other a look, and after a few seconds of silent agreement, both She-Wolves bolted. Same direction, same speed. Being in Wolf form they could afford to run for a while without having their injuries hamper them too much. Not at their usual prime, their stamina was still low, but they could still outrun a pack for a mile or two. And both could hear the Alphas and wolves alike; scrambling to go after them, the 'captives', but nothing could match their speed. Nothing.
After a few minutes of playing tag, the pack on the losing side of course, Kaden and Taylor headed back for the cabin. Nudging the door open with their muzzle they headed straight to Taylor's room to Change.
After a few short minutes they were both human, naked and laughing their asses off. "Oh…my…d-did you see them?" Taylor cracked up, "Trying to keep up!"
"I-I almost slowed down b…b-because I felt sorry for them!" Kaden wheezed inbetween laughs.
After they had sobered enough to breathe, Kaden took notice of the stuff in Taylor's room. There was clothing, shoes, brushes, deodorants and everything needed to take care of one's basic needs. "Hey look, human stuff." Kaden picked up a toothpaste tube and twirled the unsuspecting 'Crest: Clean Mint' container.
"Yeah, and enough for both of us." Taylor noted picking over the clothing and selecting an outfit.
After each took a shower, Kaden wound up with black jeans, a plain white tank top, and a pair of chucks while Taylor sported a black tank top with camouflage green cargo pants and short leather boots one size too big.
They headed up the stairs, their minds set on the kitchen, but as they turned the corner they came face to face with Mason. He was still naked from his run in the woods. "We need to talk." He stated, out of breath, probably fresh from the Change.
Kaden gave him an irritated look. "No, you need to get dressed." She replied, trying to step around him.
"No, we have things to discuss." The now, angry-looking leader responded, stepping into Kaden's path.
"Right, discuss away as we eat." Taylor's dismissal was quickly followed by a growl on Mason's behalf.
"They're right." Lucas said coming around a corner and towards them, naked as well.
Werewolves were used to being naked, the older the wolf, the less they seemed to care about modesty.
Mason looked back at him and Lucas immediately dropped his eyes submissively. The lower wolf scrambled to explain himself, "They'll cooperate better with food in their stomachs; I learned that the hard way." He said looking at Kaden.
"We were just hunting." Mason stated.
"So?" Said Taylor, now past Mason and in the kitchen, closely followed by Kaden, "Its not like I got the lions share...or in this case, the alpha's."
Mason through his hands into the air in annoyance and left the two to their own 'hunt' for food.
Finding an unopened pack of Oreo's they set to work. Spearing the Oreo creme with forks and dipping them into milk. Something Taylor had a habit to do to avoid her fingers dipping into her milk as well as the cookie.
Before either could attempt to eat an oreo, Mason returned with Axel and Calvin… Apparently he required backup, but at least they were all fully dressed.
"You're different." Calvin started.
"Well, no shit. We're only two female rogue Werewolves that work together with no pack hierarchy." Taylor shot back through a mouthful of Oreos.
"He means…you guys go through The Change a lot faster." Axel said, looking at them as if he expected them to internally combust
"I mean, hell we're barely finished Changing and you guys are showered, dressed and headed for the kitchen?"
"…I like food." Kaden calmly replied like that explained it all.
"Enough. Either you girls tell us what's going on, or we lock you up again," Mason looked over at Kaden "With muzzles."
"Damn! I bite someone one friggin' time."
"…Wait. Haven't you bitten someone more than once?" Taylor interjected
"Not helping." Kaden looked over at Taylor and mutually agreed to fess up on their secret.
"Fine, but we can leave to hunt and eat whenever or whatever we want." Taylor replied, poker face in place. "And we get a Wii." Kaden added, smirking at their expressions.
"With…Super Smash Bros Brawl." Taylor inputted.
Calvin and Axel looked over at them with approval in their eyes, Mason just looked annoyed.
"Fine, whatever. Talk."
"Okkkkay, well you see, my friend here she's Indian." Kaden started. "Not dot Indian, feather Indian."
Taylor didn't bother to correct her by saying Native American-- Sioux, to be exact.
"Right." Kaden rolled on, "Anyways, her tribe was, like magical and stuff. They can do spells and all that good stuff, this—"
"So Taylor's a witch?" Calvin asked.
"I don't really know what I am, I'm not a direct decendant. Point is, whatever I have may it be magic or luck, I can change faster and painlessly. I was a wolf before puberty, but when I hit, these…er- powers came into effect."
"That doesn't explain Kaden though. It's not apparent at first, but she's Hispanic." Axel said, crossing his arms as if he caught her in a lie. Kaden gifted him with a droll stare while Taylor responded, "Yeah, well, we theorized about that. We came to the conclusion that since Kaden and I are technically in a pack, I can share with her if I choose. If I was alone I'd be able to change in less than a minute."
Axel gave a long whistle while Lucas and Calvin just looked at Taylor like she'd grown wings.
Mason however, nodded, "Yes. I knew something was different. I went into the diner and spotted her right away, she dove under the tablecloth for a few minutes and bam, out comes a pouncing wolf."
No one had bothered to comment on her diving and transforming under the tablecloth in their local diner. She guessed they were more interested in her change 'ability' than her risking her race's discovery.
Oh well, she'd take a distraction where she could get it...maybe she could use it in the future too. Maybe she could get them into believing something truly ridiculous like she could control plants or walk on the surface of still water.
Taylor couldn't help but snort silently at her imagination.
"Is that even possible?" Lucas snapped her out of her amusement, coming in from the living room.
Privacy was basically nonexistent with Weres.
"She's like our leader's child?" Calvin asked thinking of Varen's own Native American son.
There weren't many cases of Weres being able to do what Taylor nonchalantly claimed to be able to do, so most wolves knew of these few 'famed' wolves. But no one, at least in their company currently, heard of their ability to share this power with others. Cal's question went unanswered as Mason's eyes suddenly lit up, "So you can share that gift with us?"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, now buddy. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Kaden is the one and only one in our two-wolf pack. I'm not sharing with anyone else. There won't be enough magic to go around anyways, I'd be left with nothing! The only gift you'll get from me is the gift of our presence."
Both Alpha's had the audacity to laugh.
"Share and share alike." It was Luke this time.
Taylor was beginning to see why the few wolves who had this power kept the specifics to themselves. This was going to be an annoying...unless she could convince them of the water or plant thing... Hmm.
Before Taylor could get her hands on the rest of her neatly stacked oreos, Mason grabbed her by the arm and led her out of the kitchen.
She didn't know why he bothered, the whole pack could hear outside the room anyways…unless someone in there decided to suddenly start up the damn microwave.
"Whaaat?" Taylor was mildly curious as to what he was about to propose and that was the only reason she let him man-handle her at this point. Both she and Kaden were almost well enough to be lethal again yet these wolves seemed to keep forgetting that. Mistake for them.
"Now that you're in our pack, you can—"
"Whoa, bud, when did that happen? As far as your pack's concerned, we're still out of your reach." Taylor unconciously put her hands on her hips in a defensive gesture.
He gave her a patronizing smile, "It's cute that you think that."
"Aw, and it's cute that you're so delusional." Taylor lightly pinched his cheek.
Taylor was now mildly aware of the muffled laughing sounds coming from inside the kitchen. She wasn't sure whether it was from Kaden, Axel or any of the other wolves in the kitchen eavesdropping.
Mason seemed to discover he was the star of this new roast taking place outside his kitchen and growled grabbing Taylor's wrist again, "Come on."
"What? No." Taylor dug her heels into the carpet.
Kaden chose this time to bust through the door, "You heard her buddy, take your grimey paws off."
"My knight in shinning armor." Taylor dramatically stretched her free arm outward at Kaden.
Kaden grasped it firmly, "Yes, m'lady. Sorry for the delay, there were a gang of rowdy oreos that had to be put in its place."
"Oh. You better not have eaten all of them." Taylor warned, thinking longingly back to her stack and the glass of milk barely touched.
A pull from her arm brought her back to reality. Mason yanked her towards the door, "Oh for God's sake, I was just going to take her to get your Wii."
Kaden let Taylor's other arm go before a painful tug-of-war ensued, "Well then, get all the good games, Taylor."
"Wait! You're not coming?" Taylor sputtered feeling the dread of being left alone with Mason.
"Yeah, I don't feel like going…I've had a big day." Kaden gave an exaggerated yawn.
"Oh? And I haven't?!" Taylor was being forced out the door now.
"And besides, someone has to look after your oreos. I'll protect them with my life." Kaden gave her a salute.
"Da—" Taylor's insult was obscured by the slamming of the door.
"Let's go." Mason seemed genuinely happy about
Taylor's grim mood.
He led her around the back of the house and to a large separate garage.
He bent to grab the latch and hoisted up the non-automatic garage door with ease.
Inside were two covered cars that immediately piqued Taylor's interest. Naturally, Mason yanked her toward the last uncovered vehicle. It was a simple a simple Ford truck from what she could see."A pickup?"
Taylor was a little disappointed. Her imagination went wild with all kinds of rides Mason might have, from Kawasaki motorcycles to sleek black BMWs, she imagined it all. He was supposed to have a high class yet rugged thing going. Apparently, he didn't get the memo as he got into the cab of the truck.
"Hey, it's a 2009 Toyota Tacoma 4X4, okay? It survives out here in the woods." Mason rolled his eyes at her when she was settled in the passenger seat.
Oh. That made sense. She never thought of an actual vehicle getting through to this cabin. But to be fair, when she had run through here she wasn't exactly noting the rough land while running for her life.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
Back at the house, Kaden could feel something coming closer. Something was stalking the house, hunting its prey, but she made sure that her fear didn't travel through her bond with Taylor, that woman would get here faster than the attackers would and endanger herself unnecessarily. Most of the Pack was gone now, the only ones left were Axel, Lucas and Calvin, playing an old school Nintendo 64 and who the hell knew where Audrey was. Kaden smeleld them well before she hear the knock.
"What the-" Is all that came out of Cal's mouth before the rival pack tore the door of its hinges and attacked.
How many there were she couldn't say. As she engaged the first wolf to burst through the door, she came to realize they were hesitatant to do any real damage. She could smell the apprehension.
As she thought about what that could mean, another wolf came up behind her and brought an elbow down on hersholder blade.
She cried out in pain and lunged for the new attacker, but before she could do any real damage, Axel was there, stoic, fighting the Werewolf with quick, fluid movements.
"The Boss needs her, dead or alive wasn't specified!" She heard the black Were say, his dreadlocks swinging around wildly as he attempted to fend off a very angry Axel.
The Were was pinned between the floor and Axel's granite form holding a butterfly knife centimeters from his throat.
"Kill…her?" he grunted as he lowered the knife and slit the Weres throat, "How about we just get rid of you?"
That was all Kaden witnessed before someone hit her hard on the back of the head.
She fell to the floor, her vision blurry, she was trying desperatelly to stay concious...
After a few minutes of silence with Mason's insistence to keep the radio off she had to speak,
"Okay, what's the real reason you're dragging me out here?"
Mason took his eyes off the dirt road briefly to look at her face.
Looking back at the road he spoke, "I need you to pick out the Wii stuff, I don't know anything about any of that."
"Oh come on Grandpa, you do too. Besides, why do it tonight? Every store will be closed."
"Not Wal-Mart. Open 24 hours a day and excuse me for wanting to deliver on my end of the deal as soon as possible." he spoke into the dashboard.
Was he trying not to make eye contact for her sake?
It was possible Mason just hated to owe anyone and that was why they were driving to Wal-Mart for a Wii at ten o'clock…but even that was a stretch.
"Next excuse…unless you wanna just skip this part and tell me the truth."
"I just wanted your company?" he offered hopefully.
Taylor would have been more flustered if he hadn't worded that to not come out as a lie.
The beauty with Werewolves was that they could smell a lie.
Don't ask her how, but it had a sharp, distinct smell that could be covered up by cologne or perfume—But Mason wasn't wearing any. So, that meant he danced around his lies.
Fine. She could play detective.
"How nice, and why would that be? Not for my charming conversation, I'm sure. Maybe you needed to get me alone? I wonder why…hm…" she pretended to give it some thought.
While Mason showed great tact and restraint in not waiting to ask her about her Changing magic, she'd bet he would have by the ride back.
"Why would you think that?" he kept his face composed.
Ah, avoided the question. Sneaky, sneaky.
"So, you didn't want me alone?" Taylor quirked an eyebrow up.
"Of course I did, you grill me in front of my pack, the only time I can talk to you without being undermined is by taking you away from witnesses."
She had to laugh at that one.
He was right but she wasn't about to apologize. He seemed to need to be taken down a few notches.
"That's it?" she was starting to get won over, and she was begrudging to admit it.
"Should there be more?" He gave in to a soft laugh himself.
That wasn't a direct answer either. The only way she'd get the absolute truth was if she asked him outright.
"That was the only agenda you had for bringing me out here? Yes or no." Taylor watched his mind process how to get out of this situation to only come up short.
"…No." Mason admitted.
"Then fess up." Taylor sighed.
"There are a number of other reasons but I'm sure the one you're searching for has to do with your…special ability."
There we go. The truth at last! Man, would she hate to be a lawyer.How would one explain to the judge, he was lying I smelt it?
"I want you in our pack…" he trailed off.
Yes and you want this power yourself.
"And I want you to know you don't have to share your magic if you don't want to."
"What?" Taylor voiced her confusion while turning to meet Mason's full gaze.
"What did you expect me to say?" humor danced across his features.
Taylor couldn't help it, she rolled her eyes.
"You broke first."
He was talking about a dominance contest that 'technically' went on between them and she lost.Never look an Alpha in the eyes, they see it as a challenge, she learned that early on.And no matter how anti-authority she was, to survive- especially as rouge, you didn't make eye contact with an Alpha.But it seemed Mason was a special case because she completely forgot about her rule that had kept her alive this far.And the fact that she lost pissed her off to no end.
Taylor whipped back to see he was watching the road, "What?! That didn't count! That wasn't a challenge!"
"Yes, it was. You just backed down from me." He was grinning like a mad man.
"Oh yeah? Then give me an order." Taylor glared.A submissive wolf that 'lost' a challenge would be under the dominant wolf's command.
"Give you an order? Never thought I'd hear those words…"
"Okay, I order you to glare at me," he glanced out of the corner of his eye at her "See? There you go. Obeyed."
"Words can't express how much I hate you right now." Taylor gave up talking to him in favor of looking out the window.
~ Taylor's Pov ~
Arguing, as it turned out, made time fly because they had entered the Wal-Mart parking lot.
He parked the truck as close as he could at 10:30 at night, meaning the only closer parking spots had been handicapped—Which Taylor was going to say they could park in thanks to Mason anyway, but she remembered he was still in his 'Oh Mighty Alpha' high and kept silent.
They walked through the automatic doors and Taylor's eyes were assaulted by the bright overhead lights.
"Get a cart."
"No. Get your own cart."
"PLEASE get a cart." Mason ground out through his teeth.
"We don't need a cart."Taylor was walking in the opposite direction as him, away from all the carts and baskets.
"Fine. You carry everything."With a sigh he jogged to catch up to her and pulled her arm to slow her pace down.
Taylor wrinkled her nose and tried to yank his hold off.Mason merely kept strolling through the aisles to get to the electronic section.
"Don't make me scream rape."Taylor hissed under her breath which only succeeded in getting a chuckle out of Mason.
"And who will come to your rescue?" his voice dropped a few octaves giving Taylor the chills.
She looked around.Besides the two middle aged woman who looked half asleep, there was no one in the store that she'd seen.With a huff, she started to walk faster again despite his efforts to slow her down.
This had the effect equivalent to a fairly good sized dog on a leash trying to drag its owner across the park when the owner clearly didn't want to go at such an erratic pace.
By the time they reached the Electronics, Taylor's arm felt like it was about to come out of it's socket and Mason probably didn't have any soles on the bottom of his shoes.
"You done?" he whispered in her ear provocatively.
"Never. You done being an alpha idiot?", she hissed back.
"Why is it—"
"May I help you two?" a young Wal-Mart clerk asked from behind the kiosk.
"Yes, we'd like to get a Wii. Would you mind getting one out for us?" Taylor turned on the charm.
"S-sure." The teen stammered "It'd be my pleasure."
She flashed a smile, "I appreciate it."
Mason's grip on her arm tightened.
He didn't apologize as his gold eyes flicked back to hers.
"What?" she managed to growl before the clerk strolled back into their conversation with a large white box containing the Wii.
"Anything else I can do for you?"He was in a rather chipper mood for working the late shift.Mason eyed him with contempt.
"Ah. I need Wii Sports, SS Brawl and any other good games you'd recommend."She went to grab the box but the boy politely refused, set the box behind the counter, muttered something about her not having a cart and he'd carry it for her because it was heavy.
Mason snorted.She could carry five times that boy's own weight, that Wii wouldn't even faze her...although, the boy probably wouldn't really have bothered with the technicalities even if he knew.
"Sure. You like action games?"
"You bet." She grinned.
"I think some Call of Duty or Rainbow Six would be good for you then."His hands flew to his belt to find his key ring and the key that unlocked the glass shelves, eager to look for the best games for her.
= = Mason's Pov = =
He watched Taylor flit about the store in a grumpy manner because he had her arm.Then watched her crabby mood do a 180 as she flirted with the puny electronics boy.
Damn.Was he jealous?Is that what this feeling was?Well, he didn't like it one bit.
Mason had no idea what any of these games were but he took a leap,"Make sure they're two player games. We like to play them together."
He moved his arm, that was clamped to her forearm, and slung it to drape around her waist.He gave the guy a promising stare and the kid snapped to attention.
"Y-yes, of course. Why don't you just go to register six? I'll take all the stuff up there when I'm done."
Mason watched him flee the scene, much like he wanted to do, when he looked down to see Taylor fuming.
"What…was that?" her voice was low and barely contained.
Okay.He was walking on eggshells.
Mason shrugged,"He was flirting with you. I was doing you a favor."
That, apparently, was the wrong answer because her eyes blazed.
"I mean, you don't want to lead the human on." He peddled on.
"I wasn't leading anyone on-"
Oh yeah right.Well, maybe she did it unconsciously?
"I make it very clear who I want and who I don't." she heavily emphasized 'don't' while pinching his arm to let go of her waist.
Mason gave a small growl to go with his frown and pulled her against his chest.
Mason looked silently into her eyes.
The challenge has been thrown.And the more you resist, the more it strengthens my resolve.
Taylor squirmed against his chest as he looked directly into her eyes.Too prideful to make the same mistake twice, she stared hard back.It wasn't until he started to smirk down at her that she felt her flight response fighting to take action.This wasn't good.
"Let-let me go." She tried to keep her voice even.
"Never." He copied her previous statement.
"Mason,"It seemed she'd have to reason herself out of this one.
"Hm?" It seemed he was savoring this moment.
"I—You know what? Reasoning has never been my strong suit, unfortunately for you."With that statement said, she jerked her head back and thrust it forward, head butting him square on the chin.
Mason cursed letting her go and grabbing his jaw.
Taylor groaned, "Aw man, you have a hard head…literally."
No one wins with a head butt.
Looking up she saw Mason was starting to recover from the brief pain and was looking for payback.With an undignified squeak, she darted toward the sixth register.And made it…barely.
Taylor stopped so abruptly she felt Mason's chest bump into her back.His hands gripped her shoulders.
"Honey," he drawled out deliberately slow.
Taylor bristled as his mouth leaned closer to her ear.
"We'll talk about this later."
It was said sweet because the older woman who had already rang up their stuff was beaming at them.
"Oh what a cute couple."
"Ma'am, we're not—"
Mason's arms snaked around her front to wrap around her waist, bringing her closer to rest against him.
"Thank you. She's quite the handful though."
Both of them laughed good-naturedly as he paid with a visa.
Taylor mumbled under her breath, suring Mason would hear, "That's like the pot calling the kettle black."
This cut off his laugh as he slid his hands back and grabbed the plastic bags on the counter.
"Thank you." He inclined his head to the woman and stalked out the door.Leaving Taylor no choice but to follow.Although, it was tempting to find a different exit and hitchhike back to Kaden on her own.
There was a light breeze as she stalked after the silent alpha, watching as he loaded the bags in the back of the cab and unlocked the doors.
With a pause and a quick glance over his shoulder, he muttered, "I should make you sit in the back too."
Taylor jerked up her chin,"I'd do that."
Better than riding alone with you.
"Oh. Well, if you prefer it then never mind."He grinned as he climbed in, leaving her to glare at his shut door.
She growled as she walked around and flung open her door, tucked her legs in and slammed it in an equally huffy manner.After a few minutes of silence on the back country roads Taylor had to give him a piece of her mind,
"You know your delusional if you think I'm part of your pack."
"I don't think you are."
She didn't have to look, she heard in his voice that he was smiling.She glared out the window,
"Then what's with getting all possessive in there?"
"Oh…That."He paused and seemed to be gathering his thoughts.
Taylor waited for his brilliantly twisted words that would probably not answer her at all—She was unprepared, however, for the blunt answer that he delivered instead,
She choked back something between a laugh and an indignant gasp.
"You? …Me?", was all she could manage as she shook with silent laughter.
She could feel his power seep into the air as his growl vibrated the very truck.But she didn't have the sense—no, the willpower at the moment to stop.
"You think it's a joke?", he was barely louder than a whisper.
"I-I,"Taylor gulped in air as another fit of giggles ensued.
"I've decided that my mate will—"
"Kaden." Taylor grew still.
"What?" Mason wrinkled his nose "Not Kaden, yo—"
"No," Taylor sat up straighter in her seat "Kaden. She's in trouble!"
That's when he heard it.His own wolves call his name.How he couldn't have heard it earlier was beyond him.
"Hurry."She whispered, feeling her bond with Kaden pulse with a spike of pain.
It wasn't a stubbed toe or an oven burn, this was bad.This called out to her, made her skin itch as the wolf in her snarled.
= = Mason's Pov = =
His eyes flicked over at Taylor then back at the road.
He was going 90 as he weaved in and out of trees, still a good ten minutes until he got to the house.He felt a power surge through the air, swirls of shocking cold air flitted though the luke warm pulses in the seat next to him.How she could keep her footing and Change at the same time was beyond him.
His nose took in her earthy, cinnamon scent, telling him she was through the change.
Fast. That was really fast.
Through the pack bond, Mason learned that there was a rival pack they had never interacted with before in their territory.Two of his wolves were injured.The bond was in such a frenzy that it was all he could sort out.
There had to be a large commotion going on to keep Cal from answering him.
He growled and punched the peddle as far down as it would go.Taylor joined in on his growl, making it sound complete—if not ten times as menacing.
The cabin light spilled across the ground through the open front door.
Mason slammed on the breaks and thrust open the truck door.Taylor's swift frame flew across his legs, out his door and into the cabin.
Mason gave a curse and dropped his feet to the ground, running after her beige blur.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
Face down on the wooden floor, Kaden fought hard to keep conscious.The stench of blood was everywhere, grunts and curses flying all over the place, and her right arm hurt like a mother. Flipping herself over onto her back, she tried to see what was going on around her but her eyes wouldn't adjust, everything was still a blur. She finally let her emotions run through the Bond and felt Taylor's emotions flow into her as well. She could feel panic, excitement, and fear, not for Taylor, but for herself.
Kaden was pulled up into a sitting position, the person placed a blade to her throat."One more move and I'll finish you, damned be the orders."
She could finally look around, as a surge of adrenaline rushed through her veins and steadied her. Four strangers were all bruised and battered from fighting, their slumped bodies spread all around her in a semi-circle.There were three unknown men dead on the floor and an additional one in wolf.
Even their side was looking pretty beaten.
Lucas lay unconscious but breathing, back against the opposite wall.
Cal was bound, hand to feet a couple of yards away, his chest bleeding profusely...but then there was Axel.
Axel stood with quite the unusual weapon, a raptor claw, in one hand. He breathed heavily from such an outnumbered fight but still proceeded to glare at her captor.
Kaden wasn't worried. She could smell her now and couldn't help but smile, she was so going to get hell for this.
"Let her go or –" Was all Axel was able to say before another wolf came tearing into the room, past all the Weres and rammed right into her captor. The knife he had at her throat was thrown away from her vulnerable neck, instead stabbing her in the left shoulder blade as he fell back.
An explosive pain shot through her. Kaden's hand shook as she took the knife by the hilt and pulled it out, the pain almost too overwhelming. She leaned against the wall trying to catch her breath. Another fight ensued as Mason came in a heart beat later, taking down the remaining men along with Axel, so quick and efficiently you'd have thought they fought as partners for years. After the rest of the enemies had been defeated, Taylor loped back to where Kaden lay against a wall with her eyes closed.
Taylor gave her a low whine.
"What?" Kaden warily opened one eye, "I didn't think it was going to be this bad okay?"
Kaden thought about it. She shouldn't be so winded, but for the past few months they'd had a rough time on their own. She was not in the best shape, and that was putting it nicely.
Taylor responded with a growl.
"Tay, I'm sorry ok?"
"Damn right you are!" Taylor had switched back, she was now naked sitting across from her.
"Now, go clean up and get to bed. I'm going to question these bastards myself."
Kaden sighed, "Firstly, I'd like to point out that they might not take you very seriously if you go commando."
Taylor glared at her.
"Second, I was attacked and wanted as hostage or whatever, and I want to know why."
"No!" Taylor, Axel and Mason all snapped in unison.
"What? Why not? Man, you guys are ganging up on me!"
"You're barely hanging on to consciousness," Mason pointed out.
"Yeah, and they are obviously here for you, so we can't have you around them." Axel added in.
Kaden looked up at Taylor, her last hope, pleadingly.
"Nope. Sorry, I agree with them this time."
As she said this, the rest of the pack showed up and were tending to Cal and Lucas' wounds. A few unluckier ones, cleaning up the mess of dead bodies and blood.The few ambushers who survived were hauled down to the cages in the basement.
"But I saved your…Oreos from Luke's tyranny! "
"Kaden, don't make this any harder than it has to be." Taylor mused.
"Yeah, ok, but as soon as I can walk I'm going down to the basement and helping you make our guest's stay that much better." Kaden replied heatedly, while she managed to get up and at a slow shimmy make it to the bathroom with Mason's guidance to clean herself up.
Afterwards, Kaden returned to her room and laid down on her bed in deep thought.
Who were those people, and why come after her? Had she done something illegal or wrong before Taylor had found her? It may have been possible...There were huge chunks of memory missing from Kaden's brain. But before she could give it much more thought, her mind wandered to something more important. She quickly made her way out of the room and into the kitchen where the stairs to the basement and more importantly the holding cells for intruders were.
"Hey, guys! Um, I thought about it and you were right, I shouldn't overexert myself." Kaden yelled from the top of the basement stairs, "So, I'm just going to go grab that Wii and plug it into your amazing giant plasma screen TV, okay Mason?"
Kaden had barely said those last few words before Axel came barreling up the stairs, Taylor right behind him.
"Absolutely not!" He said at the same time as Taylor's, "Hell yeah!"
He turned a glare on Taylor, "Are you insane? She had a knife stabbed into her shoulder blade!"
"Ha! It'll take more than that toothpick to keep me down." Kaden brushed her injury aside.
"Damn straight!" Taylor added as she walked past Axel, towards the kitchen counter where a Wal-Mart bag lay.
"Wait, weren't you going to help interrogate the intruding pack?" Axel asked Taylor.
"They're unconscious thanks to your temper, Ax. So I kind of can't." Taylor sneered as she walked into the living room to set up the Wii game system, followed by a smiling Kaden and an annoyed Axel.
"So Kaden, Super Smash Brothers, or Mario Kart"
"Take a wild guess."
"Smash Bros it is," Taylor grinned as she synced two of the four Wii controllers.
"Well you better count me in," Axel declared as he grabbed for the third controller.
"Oh, Axel got game?" Kaden laughed.
"Bring it on," he taunted.
"Oh, what is this? A cheerleading competition?" Taylor snickered back at him.
"Ha, ha, clever." He made a face at her while Taylor turned on the Wii.
After they'd set up characters and scrolled through the game rules, they played for hours.Taylor was Pikachu, Kaden as Kirby and Axel as Fox. All were equally matched.
As the dawn hours approached they heard the pack coming back up through the stairs of the basement.They paused their 'ultimate top winner game' to look expectantly at them.
"So, how'd it go?" Axel broke first, asking Mason.
Mason glanced past Axel and focused on Kaden, locking eyes with her, "We need to talk."
"What? Are we breaking up?" She replied in fake shock.
He chuckled, "Afraid so, why don't we go out for a walk and I'll explain everything."
Kaden's eyes found Taylor, "Can Taylor come? I mean, I'm going to tell her everything as soon as I get back anyways."
"Yeah, sure." He nodded heading for the door, followed by both Taylor and a now nervous Kaden.
Why was he letting Taylor come?Mason usually didn't concede that easily and this meant that something was wrong, very wrong.
= = Mason's POV = =
Mason came up through the basement with a grim face.
With what he learned from their captives, it wasn't good for Kaden.
After asking to talk to her…and indirectly Taylor, he waited outside, for at least a little privacy.
Taylor came out first, abandoning her Wii controller as Kaden and Axel finished up their game,
"So? It's them isn't it?"
"I've always known…I mean, the way I found her…It's why I let her come with me. But that was years ago, why now?" Taylor walked a few paces ahead of him on the porch in agitation.
Mason raked a hand through his hair with a sigh, "Well—"
The slamming of the front screen door stopped his sentence as he turned to find Kaden pulling on the handle, "No!"
A muffled voice came from inside, "Let me out!"
"This isn't your business." Kaden huffed, still sealing the door shut with both hands.
"Axel," Mason felt his alpha power seep out unconsciously to take control of the situation "This isn't the time. I'll explain later, if Kaden wishes so, besides I need you to watch our prisoners."
Axel snarled back at him, "I'll do what I damn well please."
The power level spiked, leaving them both growling.
"Puh-lease," Kaden hit the screen door, stopping Axel's protests at the same time Mason was hit in the back of the head.
He whipped around to glower at his attacker, naturally Taylor, while Kaden talked Axel down.
"Haven't you learned not to turn your back on me yet?" She smirked.
He glared, remembering the exact spot on his head he thought had split open just from the heavy blow Taylor gave him when he wasn't paying attention.
He underestimated her. Not anymore.
He vaguely heard Kaden tell Axel to shove it, "This is my business I'll handle it on my own, thanks."
That came out frosty.
"Fine. I'll watch the prisoners…I'll make sure they never make the mistake of attacking any my mine or Mason's pack." Axel seemed distracted with malicious thoughts.
Oh well, whatever keeps him busy.
Mason felt the need to shout through the door as he walked away, "Don't kill them yet!"
It wasn't reassuring to receive a chuckle as a response.
After five minutes of coaxing information out of him, Taylor snapped,
"Enough beating around the bush! Give us the short explanation."
Kaden agreed with a fierce nod.
Mason blew out a breath, "Okay, Fine. Here's what we learned, these wolves are from the southwestern region judging by their dialect and markings, Cal guessed they were sent from the California pack."
"California?" Taylor felt her eyebrows raise in disbelief, "And they're in Kansas why?"
Kaden remained quiet as Mason looked back and forth between the two of them.
"Well, they're claiming you're part of their pack." His eyes burned into Kaden's.
Flashes of memories too quick to catch danced behind her eyes.
"Bullshit! Send those puppies packing!" Taylor snarled and started to pace the porch, hands clenched at her sides.
She was always afraid she'd meet the bastards who had mauled her best friend…she just didn't think it'd be happening now, during all this mess.One thing she really wanted to know,"Why'd they do it?"
"What?"It was spoken so softly they barely heard it.
"Why'd they rip her up so bad to change her and then lose her during the fever of her change?"
"That's simple. They didn't want me."
"Why?" Taylor whipped around to look at Kaden.What pack didn't want a female when they were so hard to come by?
Mason stepping in to explain, "Apparently, they thought she was an Omega…but after the change…she—"
"Grew a back bone." Kaden grinned proudly.
"—and they were so angry she wasn't an Omega, they turned their backs on her."
"Then they got worried that she survived the change and was going to tell Bran that an unconsenting female was attacked?"
"That's pretty much what we assumed since they stopped talking." Mason looked at Kaden who was muted, staring off in the distance.
Taylor wasn't doing much better, pacing back and forth.
"But there's a problem."
"Worse than being attacked?" Kaden rose an eyebrow at Mason.
"Depends on your opinion I guess…" he rubbed the back of his neck "Ah, well…"
"Spit it out." Kaden ground her teeth together, starting to feel just as anxious as Taylor.
"There's nothing I can do…You really DO belong to that pack."
Taylor stopped pacing.Kaden stopped breathing.
"…WHAT?!" Taylor beat Kaden to the chase as she spun on heel slowly to stare down Mason, her eyes taking on a golden hue.
"She didn't inform Bran that she was illegally made, it's been too long to prove it now, with her scars gone and everything."
Taylor knew for a fact they weren't all gone. But it didn't matter, there was no way to prove she hadn't consented.
"Fine. Have her leave the pack." Taylor shrugged.
"You know as well as I do they don't let females just up and leave." Mason looked straight into Taylor's eyes as if his point were being made by merely looking at her.
So, she'd ran from her pack too. So what?
"Then what are we suppose to do?" Taylor growled, taking a step closer to Mason.
"…Just sleep on it now, I'll see if I can swing it that both you and Kaden are in a different pack and out of their claiming rights."
"We are. We have been." Kaden's eyes blazed in the night.
They both knew the only way out of this was to be in an actually pack…the problem was, could they handle it? Taylor wrinkled her nose in disgust.They could run too. Yeah, that sounded better.Meeting Kaden's eyes, it seems she agreed.
They'd deal with this first thing in the morning.
l Axel's POV l
Axel was glued to a spot a few feet away from the front door, contemplating what he had overheard when the door opened and Kaden walked in. He started to approach her but saw the fear and resolve in her eyes.
"Kaden, I'm sor-"
"Don't. You. Dare. Say you are sorry." Kaden said as she walked past Axel without breaking her stride.
"Don't mind her." Taylor informed as she walked past, "She tends to get like that when her life is about to change drastically." With that said she headed in the opposite direction as Kaden.
"Axel, we need to go for a drive."
Mason spoke to a shocked Axel staring after Taylor.
"Whoa, hey. All discussions will include me." Taylor made a 180, turning and heading back towards them.
"Aren't you going to be with her, you know, her last night here?" Axel asked.
Taylor stopped and turned slowly to face him, her eyes slits.
"It…is…NOT her last night here. I will be damned if they take her away from me, they treated her like dirt then, they might treat her worse now. Plus, she needs time alone to try and remember the night she was unwillingly Turned."With that clarified, she turned and walked outside, "Whose car are we taking?"
"Actually, I had something else in mind." Axel grinned as he took out a set of keys from his pocket.
A few minutes later they were standing outside, in front of a sleek silver and green motorcycle.
"Wow, nice wheels." Taylor said as she walked around his bike.
"Yeah, that's my baby, Triumph Daytona 675 SE Sport." Axel spoke in admiration as he took the silver helmet that was sitting on the seat off of it and placed it on his head just as Mason came around the corner of the cabin wheeling his own bike, a blue and white BMW HP2 Sport.
"Never would have pegged you guys for bikers."
"Gets me around," Mason remarked as he took out his own helmet and placed it on his head.
Axel revved his bike as he lifted the shield of his helmet, "We leaving or what?"
"Well, which bike am I riding?" Taylor asked.
"Mine." Mason ordered, "Get over here and put your helmet on."
"Oh, I think I feel like riding with Axel."
Mason glared at them briefly before he took off down the dirt trail.
"Okay, grab my spare helmet and hop on." Axel told Taylor. "I don't want him to think we're slow."
Taylor hopped on and they peeled out, trying to catch up to Mason.Once they had, they didn't travel far before Mason decided to stop at a local dinner.
Axel made a face as he got of the motorcycle.
"What?" Taylor noticed his grimace.
"Hate this terrain for my bike."
"Quit whining, we have more important matters at hand. Hey, isn't this the place you first spotted us at Mace?"
Mason remained quiet as he walked into the dinner, and claimed a table, with Axel and Taylor following after him. Axel took the chair against the wall and turned it over, so he was sitting on it backwards with his back to the corner. Mason, turned his chair towards the door as Taylor did the same thing, they all made a triangle.
"What can I get you, boys?" The young waitress asked with a little too much enthusiasm.
Mason raised an eyebrow at Axel, "I'll take a coffee, and a blueberry muffin."
"Same for me," Axel added.
"I want a steak, medium rare please." Taylor said loudly to show that there were more than just boys at the table .
The waitress gave her a once-over and wrote her order down.
They waited for the girl to retreat, then put their heads together,"So you heard everything that went on outside right?" Mason asked.
Axel nodded, not the least ashamed he'd listened in.
"So what do you think we should do about Kaden's situation?"
"Welcome her into a pack, what else can we do?"
"So, what about Taylor? If the pack that she left finds out where she is they will probably want her back too."
"Then she joins your pack."
"So, what you guys are saying is the only way to keep us together…is to put us into separate packs?" Taylor asked, bewildered.
"Yeah, two added females in one pack would give it an advantage.' Mason answered.
Taylor had almost forgotten the fact that before they had stumble upon them, Axel and Mason were rival alphas, each fighting to gain more territory for their respective packs.
"This would have never happened if the California pack hadn't showed up."She grumbled loud enough for them to hear.
Axel's eyes went distant for a second as a new thought bloomed in his mind,"We have a traitor in our midst."
~ Taylor's POV ~
Taylor's breath hitched in her throat,Why hadn't they thought of this before? They had attacked when there was almost no wolves around. It was too perfect.
And now they gave them another wide open opportunity.She only hoped the new guards on shift would stay strong--
She'd be fine.She was okay.
That was the mantra Taylor repeated over and over in her head as the pavement raced under her.
But she realized she made the same mistake twice in les than 24 hours.
Taylor had left Kaden on her own.
She couldn't believe she had stolen Mason's bike....Although, this beat running. But she didn't have time to enjoy the feel of such a powerful bike under her.She barely even registered the few cars that blared their horns as she cut them off in an effort to shave time.
Please be o--
Taylor about swerved into a minivan doing ninety as the pain racked through her skull and slid down her leg.The pain confirmed their worst fear...and almost through her off the bike.
It wasn't always good to have this sharing ability.But who knew she'd have picked such a trouble brewing wolf?
Taylor wasn't experiencing Kaden's pain first hand, only a small dose of it. And that meant Kaden was rolling in pain.Taylor revved the handle, willing the bike to go faster.
It wasn't until the bike pulled in view of the house that it occurred she had no plan of action.Going in guns blazing was always more of Kaden's thing...but it would have to do.With a mental shrug Taylor hopped off the bike while it was still attempting to screech to a halt.
Tearing open the door, it took her breath away.Laid before her eyes was a scene of carnage.
Cracked plaster, jagged pieces of shattered mirror, torn upholstery, bullet littered walls and--
The air was thick with her scent.The blood trail painted a vivid picture in her mind of what had happened.
Taylor choked back a sob as she saw the Kaden-sized dent in the wall and the blood that pooled around the spot on the floor.
They shot her with silver bullets...
Taylor saw red.They couldn't have gotten far.
She was just about to run back out to Mason's, hopefully still working, bike when the pounding registered.
"Who..?" Taylor narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
The door to the basement had been barred shut with a giant oak cabinet and the other couch that had been missing in the living room.
"...Who's there?" Taylor walked up to the door, hoping that one of the kidnappers had been left behind.She needed someone to take this anger out on.
"...Luke? What the hell?!" Taylor shoved aside the blocked furniture with ease...why hadn't they?
Wrenching the door open, she came face to face with the barrel of a shotgun. With a jerk of her body, she almost fell on her ass trying to back out of range.
"It is you..." Lucas lowered the gun with a sigh of relief.
"What were you....hiding in here?!" Taylor's anger mounted.
Lucas only gave her a weak smile as he fell from the top of the stairs all the way down.
She took her first step down the stairs, it made a squeak of protest followed by a low growl.Taylor proceeded down the steps, the scent of Kaden's blood still clogging her senses. She reached the bottom landing and proceeded to prop Lucas up against the wall.
The growling increased.
Who the hell?
With one brief glance at the unconscious Lucas she gave him a silent promise she'd be right back.But what Taylor found around the corner only wanted to make her fall to her knees.
A familiar dark grey wolf coated in its own blood.The wolf, still warily, baring its fangs at her, was Calvin.
"Cal..." she tried to keep her voice even.
Cal snarled louder and attempted to step toward her even though there were chunks of flesh missing from his back.
Taylor wrinkled her nose at the smell overpowering the blood.
Silver.They had both been shot by with silver bullet, like Kaden.
She clamped her teeth together and tried to remain calm. Calvin had no human reasoning in his eyes, he was lost to his wolf, and he was losing blood fast. She had to remain calm.
"It's me Cal." she stated firmly, looking into his fading eyes.
He shut his muzzle but still didn't look at all approachable.
Taylor looked past his form to see that all the cells containing the prisoners were intact.Not a one had been rescued.
"Cal, you've done your job."
The wolf put its ears back.
"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO MY BIKE?! Do you know the irreversible damage you've done making me ride back with--"Mason's voice stopped; clearly he just stepped into the house.
"Down here. Hurry." She kept one eye on Cal.
Mason was at her side at once.With a sharp intake of breath he dropped to a crouch beside Calvin.
"Get me the first aid kit. And get on the phone with Emma, tell her we have injured wolves here she needs to tend to...one being her mate."
Taylor didn't mind taking these orders. No questions asked.She grabbed the phone from him, walked up the stairs dialing 'Emma's Cell'.
"This is Emma."
"Emma this is Taylor."
"What are you doi-"
"We have injured wolves here, Lucas and Calvin."
"...Cal?" her voice shook.
"Okay, I'm on my way." She hung up without saying good bye.Slipping the phone in her pocket she hoisted the overused first aid box out of the kitchen cabinet.
"I've got it." Axel was there.
He slipped the box from her shaking fingers.
"Thanks." With a nod at his receding back she stood in the kitchen doorway, overlooking the torn up living room.
Where were the other guards?
White hot anger shot through her.No doubt Cal and Lucas were trying to question the prisoners when the rest of them had attacked.
But being injured in their previous fight, they were in no state to defend anyone let alone take care of themselves.Their attackers must have tried to spring the other trapped comrades in the basement, only to open the door and find a pissed off wolf and a shotgun wielding blonde man.
She felt a surge of pride, almost soothing her anger.They had tried to get out and help...only to be overwhelmed and pushed back...
Taylor eyed the open door and a growl leapt from her throat involuntarily.
In the room, walked a woman wearing a brown tailored mini skirt and a cream blouse.Her auburn curls brushed back into a clip at the base of her neck.
Bree.The very wolf that had challenged Taylor during the pack run.
"You." Taylor's voice was dripping with anger and promise of pain.
"Where the hell were you?" Taylor wasn't excepting any answer excusable short of death itself.
"Getting a latte down the street....What happened here?"She asked the question like Kaden had merely stained the furniture.
"Oh...!"Audrey's fair blonde hair peeked out from behind Bree.
"You both were supposed to be here? And you left?" She was trying to keep her voice even but it was steadily raising octaves.
"What happened?" Audrey's brown eyes widened as both women shuffled into the room holding their precious lattes'.
"Why did you leave this house unattended?"
"Calvin and Lucas were here." Bree's hazel eyes rolled.
Rolled! I'm gonna kill her.
"Yes. Two INJURED wolves, leave them to guard the prisoners..."
And my wounded friend...Although she supposed they couldn't have cared what happened to Kaden.
"So," Bree took a long sip of her latte "They caught the rest right? Killed a few?"
It was in that moment Taylor's logic took a flying leap out the window...
~ Taylor's POV ~
She was in front of Bree faster than she could blink.
Her hands wrapped around the woman's throat,"You think I'm some whipped submissive that'll take your shit?"
She slammed Bree against the wall, right next to the dent where Kaden had hit...that alone strengthened her resolve.
Bree's latte, still steaming, rolled down her front but Taylor had a feeling she wasn't gasping from it burning her.
"Taylor!" Audrey's hands wrapped around one of her forearms.
Taylor snarled but never turned her attention away from Bree, who was now trying to struggle free.
"Taylor," another voice cut in, its tone wrapping her in a comforting malice all on its own.
She turned her head to see Emma.She had short black hair with light ivy eyes peeking out from the bangs.
Those eyes looked livid.
"Let her go. I'll take the bitch on in a second."
Taylor loosened her grip, astonished, letting Bree fall into a coughing heap on the floor.
"But first where is he?"
"You packless whore--!" Bree apparently had enough air in her lungs to almost form a sentence.
Emma glanced over her shoulder with a murderous look that gave Taylor's a run for its money,
"You are to stay upstairs and are not to go endangering your life further by picking any fights you are sure to lose."
Taylor felt the order flow from Emma, giving Taylor the chills.
She had forgotten Emma outranked Bree because she was mated to the Beta, Calvin. Bree technically wasn't alpha female unless Mason accepted her.Apparently he hadn't because Bree froze.
Seeming satisfied, Emma turned her back on both she-wolves.
Taylor quickly took the lead, directing her down to the basement.
After forcing herself to stay downstairs, she watched Emma work.Taylor knew she couldn't go back upstairs because she'd fight Bree again and since Bree couldn't fight back because she was ordered...even Taylor wasn't that much of a bully.
Emma stitched Calvin's side with an emotionless face.Knowing how the woman had barely held on to her grief and rage moments ago, it was admiring to see her process so efficiently.
Calvin was in Taylor's bed, since it was downstairs too, they hadn't wanted to move him much in his state.Taylor didn't care either way and was actually flattered they had asked her first. It was a holding room anyway...one that hadn't kept her in, but that was neither here nor there.But that did pose a problem...
Considering that Kaden's room and the two couches were ripped up in her efforts to escape, she had nowhere to lie down. And she REALLY needed to lie down.
The sun had gone down and she had no real idea what time it was but she was determined to stay up.
Her friend was missing!This was no time to be thinking about beds.
She shook her sleepyhead, imagining Kaden's teasing laughter,'And you're of no use to anybody sleepy! That one track mind of yours will just be thinking of beds. Or worse, you'll start to space out soon and creep everyone out!'
Taylor's lips curved into a small, fleeting smile.
She had no doubt Kaden was giving them hell.Even now, wherever she was.
She jerked back with a start,"Y-yes?"
"Go to bed."Mason had been staring at her intently for awhile, watching her lids droop then snap open wide in an on-going battle to stay awake.
"I'm not tired."It was an automatic response; she could smell the lie herself.
He just raised one brow, his chin resting on his hand as he surveyed Emma from a chair across the room.
In the beginning, Taylor was reminded of a hovering mother, nervous of their child's scraped knee. Of course, this was worse than a scraped knee and he had the right to worry. Even Taylor had worried briefly.But that had melted away when she saw Emma set to work.
Taylor could hear the faint snores of Lucas in the other empty furnished holding room. To everyone's relief, besides a couple cuts and bullet grazes he would be okay.
He had a mild concussion but Emma had ordered sleep would be best, any minor damages would be repaired overnight thanks to fast Were regeneration rates. She bet that would be the only time a certified doctor told a patient that the best thing a person with a concussion could do is go to sleep.
"Come on," Mason appeared before her.
"What? Where?" She didn't resist much, not wanting to make a fuss with both wolves sleeping and Emma still concentrating.
He steered her from the room by her shoulders, guiding her up the stairs.She faltered in the living room, seeing Axel scolding Audrey in heated tones.
Bree was slumped against the wall, no doubt waiting for her turn. She actually flinched when Mason walked up the stairs with her. Taylor wished she could take credit for the woman's fear but she could feel Mason's power flair up behind her, practically burning her back. But Mason didn't acknowledge her yet, instead he kept pushing Taylor down the upper west corridor.
"Hey!" He shoved her in a room on the left.
"Get some sleep. If you come out of here, I'll just drag you back in." He shut the door, a warning in his eyes.
"What? No lock on the outside this time?!" She yelled after him.
She turned around to survey the foreign room and froze.His scent surrounded her. This was Mason's room.
Her eyebrows rose in appreciation. Decked out in deep emeralds and black tones, the room popped. He had a king-sized four post bed, the frame done in dark mahogany. Jeans and a few shirts littered the far corner where there appeared to be an opening for a closet.
Next to that was what she assumed was his own bathroom.Guess an alpha has its perks.
His bed was rumpled just on the left side near a nightstand and a digital clock blaring the numbers 11:32.
That had gone by fast, she was so out of it.And despite how tired she was, she wasn't going to sleep until she knew what their plan was for getting Kaden back.
Turning on heel, she opened the door and proceeded to step through the doorway only to be met by Mason's chest.
Mason grabbed her by her shoulders and threw her on his bed; standing by the side of the bed he folded his arms across his chest.
"What the hell?!"
Taylor clawed her way to the opposite side of the bed, away from him, "What, were you waiting for me?!"
"I figured I'd save myself the walk to bring you back up here. I stopped the problem at its source."He smirked down at her.
She glared, "I can't sleep. I need to know what's going on."
"And I'll let you know, when I know." he sighed, sitting on the bed now.
"Then I'll wait." she rose her chin up in a stubborn pose.
He rubbed one temple, "It'll be awhile."
"Are we going to get her?" she couldn't keep the fear from her voice.
This caused Mason to look up at her, "Of course. We're leaving on a flight first thing in the morning."
She felt her body relax slightly, "Good..."
"Now will you sleep?"
"What else do you wanna know?" he grumbled.
"Where are we going? What time? What's going to happen to Bree and Audrey?" she ticked the questions off with her fingers.
He scooted closer to her side, "Somewhere in California, eight A.M. and none of your business."
That last part stung a little although, it shouldn't have.It wasn't like she was pack.Actually, she bet Emma was dealing with the idiot right now.
"Now, go-to-bed." he rubbed her head.
"Heeey! Don't touch the hair." It was a pet-peeve of hers, no matter how stupid, "And I told you, I'm not going to bed."
"Why now?" he sounded exasperated.
"I wanna know anything you find out, the minute you do. Plus, I don't trust you. You could edit information." Taylor eyed him suspiciously as if he'd already done just that.
"Oh please! Fine, fine." He pulled the covers out from under her and pulled them back.
She watched in utter confusion as he peeled his side back as well, arranged all four black pillows in the middle and propped them up against the headboard. When he was satisfied he grabbed her by the waist placing her under the covers with him.
It all happened so fast she could only blink in shock.
He snuggled deeper into the covers, but still sitting halfway up against the pillows. With a content murmur he let his head fall back on one of the pillows...
Unlike him, she wasn't using a single one.He had pulled her up against him, her head resting just below his chin, one of her hands that tried to stop his pull initially, ended up splayed across his chest.
"There." he mused, tucking them in with his left, free hand.
"Okay," she took a deep breath "You have five seconds to explain yourself before I tear your arm off."
Just to aggravate her, he tightened his hold, snaking his arm further around her waist.
He gave her an amused stare.
He closed his eyes.
"Two." she was starting to growl, "O--"
"Go to sleep already." he grumbled, turning slightly taking her with him.
"Ah! Let go, you bastard!" she dug her human nails into his arm.
"Hey, you wanted to be the first one to know, or rather 'when I know', so here's the solution. You get to sleep, I get to sleep and if news comes, I'll be right next to you."
Taylor was silent as she processed the situation, "Okaay...but why do you have to sleep so close?"
"I don't trust you either. Between you and your friend, you stir up all kinds of mischief. I can't leave you alone for two seconds. I'm not going to have you abducted too."
"Highly unlikely. Go sleep on the floor."
"Nope. You could slip right past me." he yawned again.
"Lean against the door then."
"What about the window?"
"What ABOUT the window?" Taylor was getting frustrated.
Something only he seemed to be able to do to her in such a short amount of time.
"Nope. This is the deal, take it or leave it."
She couldn't see his face but she bet he was grinning.
"Fine then, I'll leave, you stay in here. I'll post someone outside the bedroom just in case you try to sneak out." Although he said that, he made no attempt to get up.
"Fine. Stay." she dug in her nails for one last ditch effort to cause him pain.
He only chuckled.
It wasn't until he turned off the light with a snap, that he spoke,"Besides, there's a three inch scratch along the right side of my bike, this is payback."
Mason was in second heaven.Taylor in his arms, agreeing to his terms.He couldn't believe it!
He would've pinched himself but both of his hands were a bit preoccupied and did not intend to move anytime soon. When his right arm shot around Taylor's waist he thought she was going to blow.
He berated himself; he was normally a better hunter than this.
He took his time with his prey, he was more methodical. This was just plain sloppy but he wasn't complaining now.
Taylor sighed in her sleep, her breath tickling his neck and making his stomach do flips. He'd been silent and unmoving as a statue, waiting for her to get comfortable and fall asleep.
She'd been tense and guarded for the first twenty minutes or so, her muscles bunched, waiting to break free from his hold if he so much as breathed wrong.He didn't.
And as the minutes continued to tick by, he decided he would try to feign sleep to give her peace of mind.He tried his hardest to let his breath go in and out in a slow rhythmic pattern. It paid off.It wasn't long before her breathing matched his.
He kept up his charade for a few more minutes just to be sure until he felt her muscles untense against him. It was then he opened his eyes.It was dark; but his eyes, even in human form, could make out the part of her face and chest as it rose and fell slowly.
He was almost positive if it weren't for Kaden, he wouldn't be in this wonderful situation. Taylor needed comfort, he was sure of it. That was why she agreed to sleep in his bed, not for information.He owed Kaden one. He just hoped they got there fast enough so he could get a chance to repay it.
Taylor gave another murmur, breaking his thought process completely. He focused on her lips and his wolf howled in agony at being so close but so far from its goal.
Before he could stop himself, he tightened his hold around her middle and dragged her up across his chest until she rested beneath his chin. Her scent permeated his nose, calming him a degree.
It said how exhausted she was with today's events that she didn't wake up with that one action.He thanked his lucky stars.
Now if only Kaden could be this lucky.
The thought darkened his mood a degree.
Taylor snuggled deeper against him making his heart hammer in its rib cage. Her movements were restless as she sought to his body for purchase, wrapping her own arms around him tightly.
"We'll get her back...I swear it." Mason whispered against her hair.
And he knew if he didn't, it would break Taylor down so badly she'd never be the same again.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
She was numb.
Numb and in pain....was that possible?
Flashes of light danced before her closed eyes as she replayed the scene of her kidnapping. How everything had went wrong in that one moment...
**** Kaden, at the time, had been trying in vain to put the random pieces of memory together that floated around in the corners of her mind, but no matter how hard she tried to make sense of them, she couldn't piece the puzzle together.
She saw faces, but couldn't remember who they were--except one, she was able to place one.
A black man with dreadlocks whom Axel had slain. She'd seen him before, but before she could get a grip on where she had seen him, movement in the house had caught her attention.
She had gotten up, opened her bedroom door and stalked into the hallway to the kitchen to grab a weapon. There had been a little bit of light coming from the kitchen window as the sun tried to burst through heavy gray clouds.
Kaden made her way to the knife holder and had proceeded to grab a carving knife. She had felt a twinge of warning, there was someone else in the kitchen with her-- right behind her. She had thrown an elbow that connected with a solar plexus, the assailant falling in a heap at her feet. She remember peering down at him but didn't recognize him.
Her heart raced, as she realized who they were.
This couldn't be good.
They had to be the rival pack, here to take her back.
She started to make her way into the living room, knife held out in front of her. Just as she had rounded the corner and the doorway came into view, two wolves rcame around the corner she had been about to pass by.
Kaden had lunged at one with the blonde hair, stabbing him in the left shoulder blade. She still remember his feral growl as in anger, he threw her into the opposite wall, shattering the mirror adorning it.
She had cried out, as the impact sent a jolt of pain thorugh her damaged shoulder.
With much effort, Kaden had gotten up and started searching for the carving knife, but just as had she spotted it a few feet away, the other man was coming at her. Kaden had tackled him to the ground and threw a punch right at his throat.
Kaden glanced down at her attacker, choking on his blood. The jab had cause his esophagus to collapse, as a result he would suffocate to death in due time.
The thought had brought a smile to her face at the time.
It was then Kaden had picked her abused body up, ready for the next attacker but he was nowhere to be found.
Kaden recalled the room, it had been an utter disaster. Chairs were flipped, mirrors was broken and blood everywhere, most mixed in with the scattered shards.
Mason was so going to give her hell for that one. That thought made her smile faintly through her current pain. She redoubled her efforts to distract herself and proceeded to dig up details from her memory that might be useful later...if she got out of this mess.
Kaden then had headed for the front door but had to stop because she grew lightheaded. She had realized then that there was something warm running down her back. She had brought a hand up to touch the back of her head and realized she had been bleeding profusely, the floor slippery from the blood.
She had thought in discust. Like she didn't have enough memories missing, she didn't need anymore hits to the head.
Kaden had then tried, stubbornly, to take another step, but her vision was double. Just in time, she had spotted another Were rounding the corner right next to her.
She hadn't had any hesitation at the time as she went for him, her hands clenching around his neck before she realized that he had brought backup. And the backup had guns.
Kaden had tried to retreated and run in the opposite direction, but she was dissortiented, wounded, and had lost a lot of blood.
"Don't let her get the hell away!" She had heard a new voice yell. She paused her memory for a moment to replay the voice.It sounded familiar....
She filed the thought away in important details for later and resumed her reflection.
She ran down a corridor that ended in a restroom. Getting in, she locked the door and was down on all fours Changing before they had even got there. Her body tingled as it remembered her forced Change. It had hurt worse than usual because of her wounds, but as a wolf she had thought she would've had a better chance of getting away...if only she knew then what she knew now. They had taken the door down easily, but by that time she had been ready to roll.
Kaden proceeded to pounce on the nearest person, which happened to be the guy she'd stabbed earlier and had his throat all over the floor before the rest knew what had happened.
She huffed with exertion, taking in the scents and realized there were at least a dozen new wolf scents, making her heart and chances to get away unscathed, sink.
She had bolted down the hallway to get away from the raining bullets but before she reached the nearest window, someone had hit her right hind leg. It was then her mind had registered that the bullets she had been hit with had silver in them.The same silver that was still coursing through her body even now...where ever she was.
It was easy to recall the rage she had felt, the bastards had wanted her weak, but alive.
Before she knew what was happening, Kaden was lying on the floor snarling and barking in pain as the silver from the bullets burned through her body making her welcome the numb comforting darkness.
That all had happened mere hours ago by her estimation. She had to guess at the time because where ever her captors had stashed her, they hadn't felt she needed a clock on the wall. Not that she really wanted to open her eyes.
How the hell was she going to get out of this? Damn it! This was the third time she'd need rescuing and this damsel in distress did not like her role.
What was that sound?
"Uhmm..." Taylor snuggled deeper into her warm pillow.
There was that faint echo again.
What was that?
She wished it would just shut up already.
"Mmmhr..." she tried to mentally block the idiot trying to bug her.
"Get up, little wild one." someone whispered into her ear.
She jerked with a start, raising her face to meet Mason's amused eyes.
"Me. Don't you remember last night?"
Taylor was aghast to find herself snuggled against Mason tightly; her arms wrapped around his middle, her head had been nestled into the crook of his neck.
Her face flamed, "Don't say it like that! People will get the wrong idea."
Taylor released him immediately, her body missing his warmth already.Flinging herself out of bed, she turned to stare down at his lazying form.
With a grin he replied, "What? We slept together."
"Don't say that!" she buried her face in her hands.
"Come on, it wasn't that bad." he purred, rising out of the bed as well.
"So, no one has come to you with any new news?" She ignored him, any humor that showed in her face moments ago now fled as she got down to buisness.
"Yes. Actually." Mason rubbed his face in a tired manner.
"We're heading to Fresno. I've booked us all tickets."
"Fine. It's...what six-thirty and we fly out at eight? I'm going to go take a shower quick."
"We don't have time for that, go get packed and then we head out."
"It'll only take a sec," Taylor informed him, her hand resting on the doorknob "I just need to get this gross scent off me."
"Why did you get blood on you last ni-" he cut himself off as he finally got the joke "Oh, ha, ha. Fine. Make it quick."
An hour and thirty minutes and two hastily eaten poptarts later they were through the airport security checkpoint.
"Huh? Oh yes?"
"Stop messing with the drug sniffing dogs and take your ticket." Mason held out her ticket while making sure the policemen weren't witnessing their dogs being harassed. Thankfully they were too preoccupied with the luggage going through x-rays.
"Fine, fine.........grr!" She lightly growled one last time at the two German Shepards to watch them flinch.
What could she say? She was simple to entertain.And she needed anything and everything to distract her from her growing feeling of dread.
Roughly five hours and the 'Dani California' playing on infinite loop in her iPod, they arrived at Fresno International Airport.It was only 11:33 thanks to the time change.
"Caliiii-fornia~ rest in peeeace! Simultaneous release~" Taylor sung the lyrics out loud, as long as she sang religiously she didn't think about the plane.She hated to fly but for Kaden she could manage the flying metal deathtrap for a few hours.
And the song seemed appropriate, actually being in California.
"Oh for the love of god! That's it. Give me it, give it here!" Mason dove for her iPod.
"She's a lover baby and a fighter, Shoulda seen it coming when it got a little brighter. With a name like Dani California, The day was gonna come when I was gonna mourn ya---YAH! Hey!!!" Taylor's headphones were ripped from her ears violently.
Mason stuffed the bunched up cord into his front pocket.
"Oh that wasn't necessary," she frowned.
The others wolves Mason had brought along, Akira and Daren chuckled; even though she didn't know them very well she stuck her tongue out at them.
"You drive me crazy." Mason ran his fingers through his hair in aggravation.
I bet Kaden was driving her captors nuts....
The thought sobered her a little.Kaden could hold her own for a while and Taylor knew they wouldn't kill a female...at least she hoped they weren't that psychotic.
Still, whatever they were doing to her; it couldn't be all sunshine and rainbows...
Taylor gritted her teeth and tightened her hold on her only bag, a small grey carry-on backpack that was slung over her left shoulder; determined to find her friend before the day was through.
.::. Kaden's POV.::.
This was insane.
"So, you think you can lure Taylor here to this shithole in California and MAKE her become part of your doggy club? You guys are on a serious acid trip," Kaden spoke to a guy named Chase-- the pack leader, as he turned around. He had dark brown eyes, dirty blonde shoulder length hair and pale skin. Wasn't tall for an Alpha but it was easy to tell why he had the position.
He was ruthless.
"Listen here Rachel, I do-"
"My damn name is NOT Rachel, you stupid dog!" The more Kaden was with these Mutts the more she learned miscellaneous facts about her life--ones she didn't welcome.
He slowly slinked up to her, slapping her across the face and she could do nothing about it. Kaden was attached to shackles that were bolted to the floor, with about four feet of chains that linked to the cuffs on her wrists and legs. One seperate thick chain was anchored to the wall behind her and also attached to a heavy collar around her neck.
"She won't have much of a choice if we capture her," Chase sneered.
"Ha! You can try but you won't succeed." Kaden replied in a singsong voice.
"We caught you." He smirked down at her.
"Yeah...I was outnumbered like one to twelve and I was also recovering from a broken arm and knife stab. You, my friend, got lucky. Very lucky."
"We have a strong pack as well." He paced in front of her, not acknowledging her, "She'll come for you."
"Well no shit, Sherlock. You just don't see what you're getting yourself into."
He stared at her for a few more minutes before snapping, "Let's go." to another wolf she hadn't bothered to look at.
"Hey, what I-"
Just like that she was alone in the holding room.She took inventory of her body.She was still covered in blood and she had a horrible headache.
They had asked how she'd gotten away all those years ago but she honestly didn't know, which just made them mad. So, they repaid her with a couple nice bruises to add to the lovely holes saturated with silver and a pretty little head bump. She'd be damned if she was staying like this.
"Hellloooo, hungry down here!" She yelled.
"Shut the hell up you stupid bitch!" A new wolf strided down the stairs. He had short brown hair and hazel eyes. He was also sporting a pair of gloves and he holding some sort of shiny utensil. He crouched in front of her and pressed it against her cheek, it burned. It was pure silver.
Kaden hissed and backed away from him.
He went to touch her face with the silver instrument again but he had to step back as she lunged for his hand, angry tears streaming down her face, her vision going blurry. Not only was she dehydrated, starved and exhausted but now they wanted to put more silver in her?
It's like they wanted her dead.
"What's your damn problem?!"
He was laughing, "You should have remained an Omega. I was the one that chose you, you know."
An Omega? It was laughable now, but back then she was a meek human. Omega's, wolves outside of the pack order, tended to be docile and nurturing. No matter how dominant a wolf was, they couldn't control an Omega. To their disappointment, she wasn't a rare Omega. And she didn't want to be, especially if she would've been imprisioned by these idiots.
She turned to where the wolf's voice was coming from but the silver was roaming her body and she was disoriented.
"How did you get away anyways? You said you didn't remember and you weren't lying, someone must have helped you. And--" He spoke, leaning down again, " You don't smell like Pack."
Kaden was breathing heavily, her shirt was soaked with her sweat.She collapsed at the guy's feet, angry more at herself for giving in than at him for poisoning her with the silver.
"That's because I'm not in one." It was even hard to speak.
"You don't remember me do you? Me, Ryan? We dated for a few months, then one day I took you out into the woods and gave you this…gift. You should be thankful."
She raked him with a look of disdain, "Well, please forgive my failure at recognizing the awesomeness of being submissive to a pack of narcissistic jackasses."
He pulled his foot back and kicked at her injured leg.Kaden screamed out as the kick connected with a recent wound.
He was still laughing as he walked out of her line of vision, bringing back a wet cloth and putting it to her nose. As what little of the world she could see faded, she could still hear Ryan's laughter ringing.
l Axel's POV l
"Yes, that's right, Mason Kavanaugh." Axel repeated back to the young woman at the front desk.
"Can I see your ID?" The blonde flashed a smile.
Axel turned to her with his charming smile, "I'm sorry. I don't have it with me, but any information needed I can verify."
The woman looked him over before giving him a quick nod as she went into the back room to retrieve the room keys.
Axel turned to the doorway where Mason and Taylor stood arguing,"……like that one time! You made me sleep with you last night! I can't go through that again!" She growled as she strode over to where Axel stood, staring at them with amusement.
"Fine. Let's see what happens to your-" Mason said as he reached inside his pocket for her iPod, but came out with nothing.
Taylor grinned, holding the ipod up. As Axel was laughing, Taylor swooped in and grabbed one of the card keys the girl, who had returned to the desk, had laid out on the counter.
"Looks like more Alpha male bonding for you boys. Have fun sleeping together." She chuckled as she jogged over to her forgotten bag and walked up to the elevator, a grin on her face.
Axel jogged after Taylor, "Hey, come on now. You, heh...you don't really want to do this right? I mean, you made me ride with another Alpha…front to back on my favorite bike. You realize the psychological barbed wire I'll have to go through in therapy if I share a room with him?!"
The door to the elevator ringed."Oh, sounds like you have a problem there. Hope you get that fixed." Taylor smiled sweetly as the elevator doors closed, leaving a fuming Mason and irritated Axel in the lobby.
Akira and Daren came over from their restroom break.Axel went ahead and gave them one of the two keys and looked down at the last remaining key to check the room number.It was room 804.Odd they put it on the key.
"It better be a two bed." He grumbled as he pushed the button to call down an elevator.
After a few minutes, the hotel room door swung open and Axel and Mason both stalked in, unloaded their luggage into a (thankfully) two room suite that could be sectioned off by a single door. Despite being a hotel, the rooms were spacious and quite well stocked.
Mason must have had spent a pretty penny for these suites.
And to think that Axel could have gotten it all to himself if Taylor hadn't taken the other room, but he was here for one thing only.
Kaden. He'd taken an unnatural fascination with her. He could withstand any Alpha rivalry as long as it took.
The room had a nice king sized bed which he was just about to sit down on when someone pounded on the door.
Axel walked out of his room as Mason emerged from his own room to check out the noise. Axel positioned himself to the left of the door and Mason on the right.
"Open up!! I don't have all damned day!" Taylor's voice shouted from the other side.
The Alphas exhaled in unison as Axel reached over and unlocked the door.
"Took you long enough. We have to go right now. Plan along the way." Taylor said briskly as she strode into their suite looking a little pale.
"Why? What's wrong?" Mason asked.
Axel and Taylor gave him a 'do-you-really-have-to-ask' look.
"Not what I meant. Why are you so agitated?"
"Kaden's being hurt by them. I felt it constantly on the flight but just now it spiked and everything went blurry. It's like she's numb or unconscious."
That put them into action."We need Daren and Akira here to execute a plan of action." Mason stated, "I'll go ge-" Was all he got out before the pair strode in.
Akira stood with a eager grin on his face while Daren plopped down on a cushy chair as he chewed on half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Daren had spiky hair, which was dyed half black while the other half was blonde and dark blue eyes. On the left side of his face was a nasty scar that went all the way from his left ear, across his cheek, to the top of his right eyebrow. He wasn't tan but he wasn't paper white either. He had informed Axel on their flight over that he was orignally Australian and happy to be such a long way from home.
Adrenaline pumped and ready for action, they all went out the door and on their search for Kaden's captors, ready to take her back by whatever means necessary.
The other Alpha's lair was on the very fringes of 'The Great Van Ness Extension' in Fresno, California.
Thankfully, the smell of the enemy pack, which was now familiar to them, had overpowered everything in the huge neighborhood, making it easy to follow the scent to it's source.
Two teams had been made for the operation to be successful.One contained Axel and Taylor in wolf form, the other Mason and Daren as humans and Akira on four.
The anxiety kept building up, their legs ready to spring.Anticipation accumulated in Axel's heart as every second that went by spanned on like an eternity.His front legs pawed the ground anxiously, his heart pumped quickly, as his ears perked up, catching any and every sound surrounding the enemy Alpha's house.His eyes on the lookout for danger.
Next to him Taylor sat, staring off into the distance, the only sign of her worry showed in her irregular breathing.A howl was heard from the other side of the house, their sign that the guards had passed by, and in unison they both sprang into action.
They ran for the second closest window which was located in the kitchen.Axel jumped through it, followed closely by Taylor; both unhampered by the shattered glass now at their feet.
"Don't breathe the air!" They heard a voice warn from the other room but it was too late.
The knockout gas, which was heavily dosed chloroform, had been pumped into the air vents by Mason and his crew. It was fast acting, so by now it had probably rendered everyone who had been breathing it for more than a few seconds unconscious.
The air ducts didn't go to the basement, which they were sure where Kaden was located.
Taylor barked at Axel to follow her into an open doorway that had stairs leading down to Kaden's sweet caramel scent.Axel stepped cautiously over unconscious bodies to reach Taylor. He nudged her side, assuring her that he was flanking her as they both descended.
On the other side of the room, Kaden was lying on the filthy concrete floor, a shackled prisoner.
Her face had an angry red mark across it, her right hind leg was bleeding silver along with her blood and her skin looked more purple than the soft cinnamon it usually was.
Taylor let out a growl, but Axel was distracted and didn't know who it was for.
He started made his way over to Kaden when someone stepped in his path, without knowing who it was or really giving a rat's ass; he lunged for them.
No one was keeping him from his Kaden.
The guy smelled familiar... one of the ones at Mason's house. The blood from the guy's arm gushed into Axel's mouth and with another tug, the arm came out with a sickening guy pop altogether.
He screamed out in pain, clutching the base of his shoulder where an arm should have started.
Axel turned his attention to the pair of wolves and two humans who stood in his way.
He growled at them along with Taylor; each baring their fangs.The longer they stood their ground the more his humanity slipped, letting his wolf step up and taking control. There was no one here dominant enough to contain him. He was an alpha, they weren't suppose to lose control.
This could end very badly.
"Kaden's heroes," The short blonde one clapped in mock admiration, "Pleased to meet you. The name's Chase and this is my second Ryan."Chase pointed to the man missing one arm.
At least he stopped screeching, Axel thought while giving him a disinterested once over.For a Beta, he really was unimpressive.
"Now that introductions have been made, we propose a trade for this filthy stray."
Axel growled in response.
What the hell was wrong with this kid?Did he really think they came for a trade-off?
His patience was quickly waning.
"I want Taylor. She's the one that has Native American heritage right? The one with the powers? I'll give you Kaden for that one."
Axel didn't bother to glance at Taylor to know she disagreed as her growl ripped through the air.
"We didn't come to negotiate. We came here to execute." Mason strode in with Daren, who had a gash down one of his arms, and Akira--who seemed to be intact completely.
"There's no way we're giving her up witho-"Was all Chase was able to get out before Axel lost his control and went after the closest wolf and Taylor leapt for the bleeding Beta.
Axel had the wolf down in a couple of minutes, and Taylor had taken care of Ryan while Akira was still taking care of the others.
He looked back to where Kaden was to discover Chase holding a knife to her throat.She was now conscious, but she didn't cry or tremble in fear.
"You're not getting Taylor, you might as well get used to me or kill me." She spoke softly.
"I want her." Chase rejected any offer of Kaden's.
"Ouch." Kaden gave a half smile, faking a wounded pride.
"What makes you think that Kaden's yours to trade?" Daren asked him, his accent thick because of his rage.
"Ryan made her for me. She was my present and someone took her from me. So this bitch is mine…" Chase declared as he looked straight at Axel, running his tongue along Kaden's left cheek.
"You're so disgusting!"Kaden's sore voice yelled at the Alpha.
That was when Axel lost it.But before he could act on his rage, Taylor dashed past him and clamped onto Chase's arm, pushing him back against the wall as his knife clattered away into the corner.
With the help of Daren, they knocked him out and tied him up. Although Axel wanted to do some much more permanent damage.
As this went on it gave Axel time to regain some of his humanity.When he was calm enough, he started the Change from beast to man.
It hurt tenfold, seeing as the wolf was going through an involuntary Change because it wanted to stay.
He vaguely heard Kaden protesting through his pain,
"Dude, stop the angst, I'm gonna be fine." Kaden growled in response to Taylor's crowding.
Axel rose to his feet in a shakey motion while Taylor growled at Kaden in a scolding manner.
Taylor sat close to Kaden but couldn't touch her.She had explained earlier to them that thanks to her heritage she was extra sensitive to silver.Even more than the average wolf.
"Taylor…go before you get sick as well," Axel muttered, his voice strained.
She gave him a long whine that meant she didn't want to leave her packmate.
"What good will it do if both of you are sick?" Mason remarked.
She gave Axel a reluctant look, then started on her way up the stairs followed by Akira and Daren.
"Axel, you're wounded from jumping through that window, do you want me t--" Mason started to suggest before Axel turned his eyes on him, which were his wolf's icy blue.
That was when Mason decided to leave Kaden to his care.Even lost to his wolf, Axel would never hurt his mate.
Axel watched as Mason went over to where Chase sat tied up, and proceeded to pick him up and took him upstairs.
Axel turned his attention to Kaden's shackles and ripped them from the walls, then took the cuffs off her hands and feet, proceeding to pick her up in his arms.
It was upsetting how easy it was to free her.She had to be drugged pretty heavily not to be able to break those chains with her strength.
It spoke volumes that she was even conscious now.
"I'm fine, I just need some rest." Kaden claimed, pushing his arms away and trying to get up to no avail as her legs kept giving way.
She was just getting ready to try again, but in response, she received a very inhuman growl from him.
"Is this punishment?" She spoke to noone in particular as she let him pick her up, but as he did so, he touched her very sensitive wounds.
Her face twisted into a grimaced as a long hiss escaped her lips, "Yeah it's gotta be…"
"I promise, this'll all be over soon. Just sleep." Axel soothed as her determination caved and she gave into her exhaustion, letting her eyelids flutter close.
Taylor waited back and forth, barely holding back her 'breakfast' of half a strawberry pop-tart and an orange Gatorade.
"Taylor," a voice sounded above her.
She growled, whipped her head to the sound, seeing Mason look down at her with concern.
What? She tried to snap the answer at him but it came out as another irritated growl.
That was one draw back to being in Wolf form. You couldn't communicate actual words to another, Werewolf or not.
He seemed to get the jist though and folded his arms over his chest,"No need to get crabby. We have a van ready, no need to pace inside here. I don't trust the after effects of this gas. Its suppose to have dissipated by now but I still smell traces."
Taylor hoped her look of contempt was clear in her wolf eyes.
She'd wait for Kaden.It was the least she could do.
Before Mason could start arguing, Axel was there, carrying an unconscious Kaden up the stairs.
This was her fault, she thought numbly.Somehow those wolves had known about her…How?Who had told them?
Taylor willed her body to move forward, dragging her tan paws across the last of the marble tile until they reached paved driveway and the ugliest van she had ever seen. The front end was a metallic orange, while the back was a plain cardboard brown. It looked like the owner had started painting and then changed his mind on the color.
Where the hell had they gotten this from?
Akira spoke up in the silence, it seemed everyone was thinking the same thing,
"Daren and I found this around the block, abandoned. It started with a few love taps. This is bigger than the car we rented and unmarked."
"…Couldn't you have gone a few more blocks and jacked a nice soccer mom van?" Mason wrinkled his nose.
"Coming through," Axel broke through all of us loitering around the orange brown van, "Open the back , it had two double doors in the back that swung open and revealed plenty of empty space.
In fact, all of the van was solid metal flooring except for the long seat up front for the driver and one passenger.
It looked like a kidnapping van but it was perfect.
Mason took the clothes that had been Akira's and laid them down on the hard floor.
They couldn't leave her in those bloody and silver soaked clothes.Stupid boys.
With an agitated snort, Taylor shifted.Within a minute and a half, she was done. Where a sand colored Werewolf had once stood, a female with dusted olive skin and long dark brown hair so dark it almost appeared black, replaced it.
Taylor wasn't self conscious, being a Were didn't give you that privilege.
So she stood to her full height of 5'8 and stretched.When you first changed it always took a minute to adjust from four paws to two feet.
A collective gasp sounded.
Taylor turned her tawny-brown eyes to survey the boys. Guess they hadn't seen her change before. It wasn't like a normal transformation, it was fluid and started from head to toe in rapid succession.
One good point to them, they were looking at her face.
"Give her to me." Taylor didn't bother to not hide the order.
Axel growled at Taylor's outstretched hand.
"Don't play with me, pup. Give. Her. To. Me."
Taylor's eyes were aglow with gold, because her eye color was already fairly close with her wolf's own muted golden ones, normally no one would even notice when she was going feral. This time, however…Taylor could see the reflection in the van's chrome bumper, her eyes glittered with an animalistic fury.
Mason tried to lay a hand on her shoulder but she ghosted out of his reach.
"We need to get her out of those clothes and there's no one here I trust to do that but myself,"Taylor snatched up her own forgotten clothes and motioned for Axel to put Kaden in the van.
Axel and Taylor stared at each other for a minute, each silently studying the other.
"Fine, I understand." he nodded putting her gently inside.
Without any acknowledgement, she shut both doors and began undressing her friend as carefully as she could.Wiping any access blood or silver off with her relatively clean socks, she then proceeded to dress her in Taylor's clothes. Stepping back, she surveyed her friend's sleeping form and decided that was as good as it was going to get.
She hadn't had any broken bones, thankfully-- just cuts, holes and silver burns all throughout her skin.
Taylor's own hands were now aching. She had touched Kaden; who was right now, equivalent to a soaked silver sponge, and Taylor's hands were on fire. Even her nose and throat burned with her being so close and in an enclosed space.
A normal Were…okay let's face it there was no such thing as a normal one--A basic Were could withstand this little amount of sliver, especially when it was just traces on the outside of their skin…but I guess it was her price to pay.
Taylor opened one door to find everyone standing around nervously.
"Lets go. Those other wolves will be waking up soon," Taylor hopped out to breathe in the pure air which felt raw on her throat.
Mason noticed her singed knuckles and furrowed his brow,
"You're riding up front. Axel and Akira will stay in back with Kaden."
Taylor opened her mouth to argue but Axel had already hopped in with Akira, who was still in his lithe dark brown wolf form complete with a black stripe running from his mane to back left leg. They shut the doors as Mason eased her into the passengers seat.He shooed her to the middle as Daren took the wheel on her left and Mason took up the window on her right.
She was still naked.The thought dawned on her sheepishly.
"I'm gonna change." she stated, though already drained.
A shirt landed on top of her head.
She tore it off and tossed a glare in his direction,
"Thanks."She forced out.
He shrugged it off and turned to look out the window, giving Taylor a peek at his well toned chest.
She gave it it's own appreciative nod then proceeded to put on his navy cotton shirt. It pooled around her waist and hung loosely off her shoulders…but it was comfy. And it served it's purpose, hiding all the essentials from prying male eyes.Now if only she could do something about it's smell.
"By the way," Daren's voice sounded far away, she was exhausted but she tried to fight it, "Where are we headed?"
"MY den." Axel growled from the back as if it was Mason's fault all this had went down.
Well...Actually it was theirs.
Taylor and Kaden had been nothing but a burden.
Oh well, they tried to warn them.It's what they get.
With that last thought, she closed her eyes, adding a, "Wake me when we get there."
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
****Her heart raced as she ran through the dark woods……this was not going as planned.
They were supposed be having a moonlit picnic.
But then he'd disappeared, leaving her alone.
And now she was being hunted by who knew what.
The wind seemed to carry her name…'Raaachelll'
She was scared shitless.There could be many dangerous things out in the wood.Why had she agreed to this?She kept running as she entered a clearing.
It was then she noticed the constant nagging at the back of her head.
Someone was watching her.
She heard whimpering, but couldn't locate where it came from;Followed by two yellow orbs staring at her, reflecting in the moonlight.A great beast emerged from the shrubbery—Like a dog, but it contained too much muscle to be one.And it was much larger.
The giant wolf crept up to her, mouth salivating.Out of nowhere it sprung…****
"Kaden. Wake up."
Someone was shaking her. She grumbled as she opened her eyes to find Axel staring down at her.
His eyes clear as ice.
She sat up with help from Axel.
His back was against the van, one leg was bent at the knee while the other was laid straight out where Kaden had been resting her head.
Akira lay sleeping as a wolf on the other side of the van.
"Where are we?" Her voice was raspy.
"On our way to my house," Axel replied, his voice soft in contrast to the overwhelming smell of rage and fear he was emitting.
She looked down at herself. She was wearing Taylor's clothes.
Kaden turned to the front of the car to find Taylor sleeping and Mason looking at her like he'd never seen anything more amazing than her.
She laughed to herself, but regretted it immediately as it made her ache. She grabbed the hem of her shirt and lifted it to reveal a gash that was healing at a painfully slow rate. Kaden poked it lightly and out flowed silver tinged blood.
She would have thought this was cool if she hadn't been in mortal danger.
"How long can my body stand being a silver fountain?" She asked Axel while wiping her finger off on the shirt.
"We'll get the silver pumped out of you by our Pack doctor as soon as we're in Topeka, though you've sweated out most of it."
She nodded. Her whole body ached, she felt like one giant bruise. And she was very tired dealing with the California pack; trying to stay conscious while around them had taken a lot of willpower.
Axel crossed his legs, grabbed her by the waist and laid her across them, her head resting in the small of his arm.
Kaden started to protest, but he growled, and she conceded.
He was warmth and safety.
She could deal with this.
It didn't take long for her to fall asleep to the constant stroking of her hair.
Okay. As it turns out.
You can't sleep for a 1,643 mile car ride.
Well, at least Taylor couldn't.
She'd slept a good six, leaving 17 hours left of driving--
Or so the boys told her.
They were in some place called Barstow.
Apparently, Barstow was only two hours or so out from Las Vegas.
Taylor had been there a time or two before she had met Kaden.She wondered if Kaden had ever been there.
It had been too risky to go there after Kaden had escaped from a place so close.
…besides, they would've gotten thrown out eventually anyway.What could she say? They liked to have a good time.A good, loud, rowdy, obnoxious time.
Kaden had been in and out of consciousness, just enough to tell Axel to stop breathing down her back.The poor guy was a wreck, constantly fretting if she was in too much pain etc, etc.
Taylor took a back seat to that one, or rather front seat because that's where she was stashed, never saying one sarcastic utterance.But that's because Taylor felt for him.
He must really like Kaden…Poor bastard.
Mason on the other hand, wasn't as preoccupied and proceeded to nag and complain to deaf ears.
Taylor busied herself with the radio dial which only picked up AM frequencies, which covered sports, politics, religious preaching…but no music.At least nothing remotely acceptable.
With a frustrated grumble Taylor switched the off knob.
Turning her eyes to the horizon, she observed the desert, sun beaten landscape.Sand, sand, sand, sand--oh look sage brush.Red clay, red clay mountain, red clay hill, dirt hill--
Mason waved a hand in front of her face.
"Hey! You interrupted my admiration-ing of the land."
"I asked if you want to stop and grab a snack, or pee…or something,"He rested an elbow on the door, propping his head up while he stared at her.
"Oh how gentlemanly of you, sure. I'm imagining you'll pay too?"
"Daren take this next exit here." Mason ignored her.
Bet you wish I didn't changed back now, don't ya?
"How's she doing?" Taylor twisted to see the two passengers in back.
When they didn't answer, Taylor pursed her lips, "Anyone want to trade seats with me?"
Everyone who could answer, except Akira who was still in Wolf form, answered back.
This was going to be a long ride.
One she wished Kaden would be up for.That way they both could drive them crazy.
It seemed at this point they were ready to throw Taylor out and see how many times she bounced and rolled as they sped away.
But she couldn't help it, it was in her nature.Trapped in a metal box on wheels for hours on end made her restless.
"Hm?" he was looking out the window again, but judging from his vacant stare he probably wasn't taking in any of the scenery.
"Will you play a game with me?"
Taylor tried her best puppy dog face.
It was wasted; Mason didn't even bother to look at her,
Well, she knew a lost cause when she saw one.New tactic,
"No."He mimicked Mason.
"Puh-lease???"She jiggled his shoulder.
"No. I'm driving."
"You can multitask."
It wasn't like there was a lot of traffic anyway.
"No. Bug Mason,"He gripped the steering wheel with resolve.
"I know he won't change his mind. Pleas--"
"Mason!" Daren cried.
"Fine!" Mason threw his hands in the air, "I'll play a game with you."
~Taylor's POV ~
Thirty-two games of eye-spy later…
As it turned out, they couldn't take anymore of Taylor's insane babble and pooled together all the money they had on them to buy plane tickets in Phoenix, Arizona.
And according to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport they would take the red eye to Topeka.
They had no belongings, food, or cash cards.Everything had been left at their hotel rooms, ones that they assumed they would be back to.
But being that Fresno had a much larger pack base than they expected, they had to get out of dodge fast.
They took out one of the main den's Chase had but he had several more bases in the large city filled with plenty more able-bodied Weres at his disposal.
That was also the reason why they hadn't killed the bastard.
His whole pack would have felt the nearing of their alpha's death and come to the rescue, too late, of course, but they could still get revenge.Something Taylor mentally tacked up in her brain that he would get his later.
After buying a cheesy souvenir t-shirts for Kaden, Akira and Mason to hide tell-tale blood stains, they proceeded to rouse Kaden from her healing sleep.
Taylor donned her own, cheap cotton shorts while waiting for Kaden to get her bearings.
The guys had managed enough money to get two first-class tickets and the rest coach.
Not bad considering they had that kind of change in their pockets— although Taylor thought Daren had been wearing a nice Rolex before she went to sleep, so maybe it wasn't all in their pockets after all...
Kaden need the extra room…not to mention first boarding of the plane.
It would look pretty suspicious if a group of bruised men and one woman were hauling an unconscious woman on the plane.
Kaden managed to stay conscious but she wasn't making an elaborate conversations.
Taylor figured her body was pretty much on auto-pilot at this point; her brain down for the count.
After maneuvering through the terminal to locate gate D27 Taylor got the nerve wracking task of leading Kaden on the plane, seeing as how she was defaulted the other first-class ticket.
Here goes nothing.
Taylor grabbed Kaden's arm, which still made her tingle at the silver absorbed into her skin.
She approached the desk and handed the stewardess both tickets.
The stewardess scanned them, each making a beep sound but she never took her eyes off Taylor and Kaden."Is…she okay?"
"Ah, yeah," Taylor thought on her feet "She's really nervous about flying-- to the point of nauseousness." The minute Taylor hinted about any chance of bodily fluids spilling had the woman hurrying to get them through.
"The plane is docked and ready, we won't be ready to take off for another good thirty minutes, would you still like to board now?"
"Yes, please, it would be better to take a load off. Maybe she can fall asleep before the take-off." Taylor regarded politely.
"Of course," she nodded, throwing Kaden a sympathetic look, "Here's your tickets back."
Taylor grabbed the tickets with their seat numbers on them and put an arm around Kaden, steering her down the walkway.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
Kaden could hear the whispers as she was steered down the aisle.
Taylor had an arm around her waist, leading her towards their seats.
"You're pressing my stomach gash, therefore releasing more silver-blood on my nifty new shirt."
"Oops."Taylor's hand moved to her shoulder.
The few passangers in first class who had boarded before them continued their gossip as they ambled past.
She couldn't focus on any particular face, so she turned her focus to walking the short distance left to her seat without stumbling.
She couldn't understand the whispers--to her it sounded like a violent wind nagging and scraping at her pounding head. In short, Kaden felt like crap, which most likely meant she looked worse.
Kaden looked around, the world seemed to be in slow motion but she still couldn't keep up with it.
The California pack had heavily sedated her, and she was still dizzy from it.
Her eyes finally caught on to where they were. A flying metal death trap.
Scratch that, an almost empty flying metal death strap. She could only spot a passenger here and there.
They finally made it to the seats Taylor had been leading them to. It was a big space. Build for comfort.
"Who'd we kill to afford this pimp lair?" she asked as she took a seat, heaving from the effort of walking.
"The boys pooled their remaining funds. Got us buisness class, they get coach."
"Sweet." Kaden replied as she closed her eyes. "Nothing like mooching."
"Dude, you ok?" Taylor's voice had a tinge of worry.
"...Why do you ask?"
"You feel like jello. It's like a wiggly Bond. It's kinda fun, but weird. What's up?"
"Hehe, jello. Nah, I feel high." She spoke more slowly, trying to grasp the words to communicate, "Everything's spinning and you sound miles away. Do not miss the stoner days."
"You were a stoner?"
"I have so many memories that are coming back to me its unreal, Tay. I remember being human."
Kaden said as she opened her chocolate eyes, turning to her friend, "The California douche bags knew more about me than I did. They probed and the more they talked about it, the more I remembered. But at that time I was so out of it, so numb, that it hadn't really mattered."
"Well, what do you remember?"
"....Shit I didn't want to."
"What kind of 'shit'?"
Memories flashed before her eyes as she tried to put pictures to the words they belonged to.
She took in a deep breath, closing her eyes, "I remember a dog, and I, uhh remember my old home…"
Her eyes scrunched together, "…I see, I think they're my parents...?"
Kaden's breathing became heavier, "…they're my family. I see people but I don't know who they are. Friends?" Sweat started to coat her brow as she delved deeper into her thoughts. "It's a picture of me in the newspaper."
She snapped opened her eyes, to find Taylor staring back at her, "They think I'm dead."
"My family," She responded as she leaned back against her seat and closed her tired eyes-- letting the numbness of the drugs to put her anxious mind to rest.
~ Taylor's POV ~
After some time and a few forced glasses of water later— Kaden came around.
Not enough to be fully healed but at least she was awake and actually talking in complete, comprehending sentences.
"Where are we?" Kaden's first words were rough and laced with sleep.
This surprised Taylor as she studied blank Kaden's face.
Had she no recollection of ever boarding the plane? ...Of her family?
"Plane. Going to Topeka."
"Ah." Kaden rubbed her head as if it ached.
She had to hand it to her, she rolled with the punches. Taylor would have hated waking up in a foreign place not knowing what was going on.
"Where are the guys?"
"Waiting to get on the plane, we have first class—prior seating. We get on first." Taylor repeated the explaination she had told her before, a little distrubed she wasn't remembering this.
"We're in first class?" Kaden sat up a little to take in the cabin surroundings.
Taylor looked out the window, watching the humans bustle about with all sorts of bags, unloading them off the cart and into the plane under-belly.
"Cool."Kaden finally mused, slumping back down in her reclined seat.
"Strangely…no," She admitted.
Yeah, Taylor thought wryly, because I had to force a gallon past those lips while you were out.
"Miss, will you want another?" the stewardess loomed over them to ask Taylor while taking her empty glass.
"Yes please, that'd be great."
"What are you drinking?" Kaden asked, surely already catching a whiff of alcohol.
Mason would kill her when he got on but she had to soothe her wolf somehow.
It hated being enclosed somewhere for too long and even after her second glass she could feel it pacing and snarling in displeasure.
Kaden stared at her for a heartbeat before declaring, "Actually, I'm parched. I'll have one too."
Taylor hid a smile by shaking her head, "I thought you might say that, here." She handed Kaden one of their many fake I.D.'s.Currently she was Donna Prinkle.
By Kaden's third glass, they were allowing the other passengers to board the plane.
Axel and Mason pushed past the other passengers in the narrow aisle, each trying to muscle past each other as well. It was comical to watch.
Akira and Daren must have actually waited in the line like civilized people because they weren't clambering toward them like both Alphas currently were.
Taylor licked the rim of her glass, reveling in the last few moments of alcoholic bliss before Mason rained on her parade.
"What are you drinking???" Mason demanded as if on cue.
"Wine. Want some?"
"You're supposed to be looking out for her!" Axel snarled.
Taylor turned to watch Kaden kick back a gulp, "She's not going anywhere."
"You know what we mean!' Mason cried exasperated.
"Relax. I'm not drunk…yet." Taylor rolled her eyes.
It was a shame Weres were so hard to get drunk—cost her an arm and a leg, not to mention the bartender thought she was a alcoholic.
"Hey!" Kaden protested as Axel fished the glass from her hand.
Taylor sighed. They weren't going to like this.
She pressed the 'Call' button.
At once the stewardess came to their row, with some difficulty considering the boys were blocking people from passing and as a result, had built up quite a line.
"Yes?" the stewardess' eyes wandered to Mason and Axel questioningly before turning back to settle on Taylor.
"They're bothering us." Taylor shrugged simply.
Her red lipsticked lips formed an 'o' before she turned with resolve to face the troublesome males, both of whom were sputtering in outrage, "Sirs, I need you to return to your seats. You're not in first class are you?"
"Er, no but—"
"Then please find your seats."
With that said the lady literally pushed them along, cheers from the backed up line erupted.
Kaden laughed beside her but all Taylor could think of was her ultimate demise as soon as she stepped off the plane and wasn't under the protection of the 5'4 stewardess dressed in a dark blue skirt and vest.
Ugh. Oh well, might as well enjoy it.
"Barten—Er, stewardess? More wine, please."
A few hours later, they were on the ground, in the terminal getting scolded just like she predicted.The beauty of it?She was too buzzed to care.
"I can't believe this, you were too drunk!' Mason chaisted.
"Not true…I was sober when I denied it that last time…" Taylor tried to defend herself at the same time she watched the floor lurch.
Really. They shouldn't use a checker pattern.
"Oh good god! She's smashed too." Axel steadied Kaden.
"It'll wear off by the time we get to his den." Taylor assured them with a slur.
"Argh, let's go." Mason gripped her by the arm and pulled her along.
Taylor noted that Axel had simply picked Kaden up in favor of pulling her arm out of her socket. She supposed Mason was still a wee bit mad for sicing the stewardess on them.
When he stopped and let go of her, she was aware of the world violently deciding it was going to tilt to the left.
"Woah!" Mason grabbed her shoulders and bought her against him.
The automatic doors to the street opened letting the air blow through and carried the scent of new wolves. Taylor couldn't help but snap to attention and snarl.
It was a habit ingrained in her mind from having to constantly watch their backs.
'It's fine, they're mine." Axel assured.
"Hey there, boss man." One of the new wolves strolled through the doors, hands in his pocket.
He had a on a charcoal silk shirt with embossed copper diesel buttons.
He had a lean build like most Weres. He was slouching but if Taylor had to guess he was about 6'2, his hair adding on to his height because it was gelled into short spikes which were frosted at the tips making his fair blonde hair seem to have golden lances through it.
Turning his ice blue eyes on Taylor, she suddenly wished she hadn't drank as he seemed to size her up like prey.
He smirked and Taylor could feel Mason's chest rumble a silent warning.
He turned away before either Taylor or Mason could snap and instead addressed Kaden,
"And this must be the stray our Alpha picked up,"
Fire snapped in Kaden's eyes, "I'm not a stray, you dumb mutt."
He had the audacity to laugh, "Nice to meet you Kaden, I've heard the stories. I'm Connor."
He introduced himself to no one in particular.
"Please excuse Connor," a wolf Taylor hadn't seen come in, stepped forward, "I'm Jordan. I usually keep him more civil but I was arguing who had to stay in the car."
Taylor studied the new wolf.
He was African American paired with dark warm skin tones and dark eyes.His voice was deep and had a slight southern dialect.
He had buzzed hair and a baggy green shirt and black jeans. He was quite the opposite of the blue-eyed angel with designer clothes and a foul mouth.
"Shut up, Jordan. You don't deal with shit." Connor's tone was malice but his body language was lucid.
Obviously they did this alot.
"I deal with you all the damn time. I'd have to say I disagree." Jordan sneered.
"This is the cream of the crop pedigree you sent to pick us up?" Akira, who had just returned with Daren from trying to find some kind of coffee to snap them out of their buzz, remarked snidely.
Both of Axel's wolves turned to snarl at them, their fight forgotten now that they had a common enemy.
"Enough!" Axel and Mason both snapped and all wolves froze.
"I assume you brought separate cars?" Mason asked with a long sigh tacked on the end.
"Yes," Axel had no doubt this wasn't going to happen, separate cars were necessary, "Kaden and I will go with Jordan and you and Taylor will go with Connor."
"There's no need. Take him with you, I have Akira and Daren. I just need a driver."
"Plus I don't like him." Taylor felt it had to be said, maybe had she been a bit more sober she wouldn't have spoken.
Ice blue eyes met hers, "Babe, I can assure you, you'll get over that quick." His eyes raked over her body not bothering to hide the hunger.
Taylor bared her teeth and Mason glanced to an amused Axel, "Keep that one on a short leash or you'll have to find a new third."
Axel glanced at Mason and whatever he saw there must have convinced him, "Connor, you're riding with us."
Daren snorted behind her in a satisfied manner making Taylor let out a laugh because she hadn't realized they had been posturing behind her back-- promising death.
They had the decency to look sheepish before Akira took the front and Daren flanked behind.
Mason led her more gently after Kaden and Axel.
Taylor briefly wondered if Kaden would mind riding with those strange wolves.
She supposed if they got out of line, Axel could handle it.
She would've thought Kaden would handle it…but at the moment…well, alcohol is a bitch.
"Come on." Mason led her to a shiny silver parked car.
Taylor didn't know much about cars, but she knew enough to recognize a Mercedes when she saw one. The car looked out of place surrounded by all the tacky yellow buses and taxis.
A lone guy stood with his back to the wind, clutching his coat at that the collar. When he saw them approach, it was obvious that he was a lower ranking wolf. He dropped his eyes to the ground and somehow managed to open the back door without looking for the handle.
"Thank you." Mason inclined his head politely to the wolf.
At least he acted civilized.
Taylor figured she'd have had to scold him by now. He must've felt guilty about Kaden getting kidnapped in his territory.
Axel's comment had been quite the low blow.
He then proceeded, unpolitely, to stuff Taylor into the car first, followed by him and Akira
.Daren rode shotgun-- which was odd considering it was an Alpha's spot but really, at the moment she was too gone to care.
With three werewolves in the backseat, it was uncomfortable at best and Taylor was trying her hardest to merely not kiss glass.
Mason noticed she didn't have any breathing room and his solution was to plop her unceremoniously into his lap.
Taylor squawked at the sudden intrusion, noticing her new placement she immediately regretted wishing she had more room.
She missed her glass wall friend that she had bonked her nose on three times from abrupt stops and sharp turns,
"What the hell?!"
"I'm giving you more room." Mason looked down at her, far too close to her face.
"By invading my personal space," Taylor snapped as the car stopped short again causing her forehead to hit Mason's jaw, "Would you freakin' drive right!"
She realized she had braced her arms against Mason's chest to help avoid further impact, with a grimace she yanked them away as if he had burnt her.
"S-sorry," The wolf driving glanced in the back briefly, flashing a pair of nervous grey eyes.
"Be nice." Mason's breath on her cheek made her look back to him.
"Me?" Taylor couldn't think of a much more coherent statement with his face so close.
Mason's eyes danced like the persistent embers of a dying fire.
His light copper hair was strewn about and fell into his eyes…it looked like he had taken a nap during the flight.
Glad he could relax.
She had to get drunk.Not easy to do being a Werewolf and having an uncooperative stewardess who couldn't understand how two girls were standing and demanding for more alcohol instead of passed out cold hard in their seats.
The things she did so she could tolerate flying.
She hadn't realized she'd been scowling until Mason's hand reached out to smooth her crinkled brow.
He just gave her a slow smile, "You didn't respect my personal space when you spent the night in my bed."
"Don't say that!!" She blushed, realizing everyone in the car was turning a discreet ear in their direction, "It wasn't like that!" She tried to explain to the eavesdroppers who were too afraid to meet her eyes.
"Aw, don't be like that." Mason prodded, turning her face back to look at him so he could flash her a devious grin.
Don't be so damned charming, you bastard. She knew when she was sober it would be much easier to resist his forlorn attempts.
"You're scowling again. Do you always space out this much when you're drunk?"
Taylor tried to ignore his scent as it pounded against her senses.
It was a futile effort as her brain cataloged and picked apart the unique smell.
It was a smooth, soothing scent that wrapped around her in teasing tendrils.His scent was a rich pumpkin pie kind of smell, loaded with sharp spices and hinted with a twinge of earth, pine and fur that all Weres shared.
Before her slowly recovering mind could stop her, she spoke the simple truth,"You smell nice."
He blinked several times before breaking into a low laugh.
It was that action that caused her to realize her mistake, it became blaringly obvious as if the sentence was posted and highlighted over her head in yellow.She groaned inwardly.
"Giving me compliments?" he had recovered from his laughing fit but his voice still held great amusement, "I should get you drunk more often."
Taylor tried to focus back on the road but with each bump the car endured as it started to follow the road less traveled, her back bumped it Mason's chest. It wasn't long before Mason wrapped his arms around her front and pulled her back against him.Taylor gave a growl so low, he could have only felt it vibrate through her body.
"Shush," His arms relaxed against her stomach contently, "This is quite the drive. You might as well be comfortable."
She knew there was a reason why his point didn't matter but at that moment, she didn't care.She was warm and comfy, not wedged between a glass and an Alpha.
Taylor stretched her back against him and then proceeded to lean her head back, trying to find a comfortable body part that could be used as make-shift pillow.
She found purchase on his shoulder where she could breathe in Mason's scent without getting caught.
= Mason's POV =
"And here I thought he'd have to be dying before he got that much affection from that one." Daren laughed softly from the front seat.
"Shut up."Mason dared a small whisper that he hoped still conveyed his rage at the fact his moment was being ruined.
"I know, I thought he was going to lose it when she complimented him." Akira made googly eyes at him.
Mason lifted his lip in contempt and was just about to retaliate when Taylor's head dipped from his shoulder to under his neck.
He froze and wished he could have kept his heartbeat in check, his wolves hooted in silent laughter.
"He's gonna spike all her drinks from now on." Akira grabbed his sides from laughing so hard.
Mason ignored them as she nuzzled against his neck.Her nose breathed in deep gulps and her mouth would puff out warm little bursts of air that gave him the chills.
And it was in that moment he realized…He had it bad.And he didn't really care what they were saying at the moment.
Taylor was His.Theirs.
He corrected his thoughts as he felt his wolf—who had been quite tense among Axel's wolves— settle down peacefully.
.::. Kaden's POV.::.
"You are so out of it."
"On the contrary, I think I am perfectly okay." Kaden replied to Connor as the dark green Chevy Trail Blazer rounded a particularly sharp corner, and because she didn't have the strength to stop it, caused her head to bump against the glass.
She turned to Connor, who rode shotgun, glared and said, "This doesn't diminish the fact that I am perfectly okay."
"Yeah, sure," He sneered at her.
Kaden shot him the bird, then turned and leaned her back against the door, now facing Axel.
"So I have a question." Kaden stated.
"How did they know when to come get me back in Kansas?" Her eyes were staring down at the seat between them.
She could physically feel Jordan and Connor tense, also eager to hear an answer.
Axel, heaved a heavy sigh, and turned sad eyes to her. "We don't know yet. Mason, Taylor and I narrowed it to someone in his pack. Someone who's alliance has wavered."
"So you guys don't know. Okay. How long has it been since then?"
Axel considered that question and responded with, "No more than a day and a half."
"Oh." She murmured just as the Chevy made another turn, and she once again bumped her head on the glass behind her.
"Ow!" What was up with her and head injuries?
Axel, who sat beside her in the spacious car grunted and pulled her across the seat.
"Hands off…handsy! I demand food first!"
"I have obliged several times. Who do you think paid for all the Oreos and Funyuns? Therefore, I get to be handsy," He gave her a playful grin.
"Perv! And those didn't count. I had to share with everyone."
"Oh, so what you're saying is you want me to take you out. On a date. Just you and I?" His eyes, which were back to their light emerald, twinkled with delight as he put his arm on the edge of the seat behind her head.
She turned to him, "Well, yeah. That'd be nice."
Did she just say that out loud?
Damn!If she wasn't tipsy, she would never have told him what she really wanted.
Him to herself.
"Well, as soon as you're better we can--
"NO!" she exclaimed before back peddling into a more rationale tone, "…I mean, I'm uh, out of it. I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about."
Kaden, in a desperate attempt to distract herself; tried to focus on her bond with Taylor, but not only were they both buzzed, it felt like Taylor was sleeping.
"Well, as soon as you do, we can have a nice dinner. It's the least I can do because you got hurt under my protection. For now you might as well rest."
"Psh, I'm not tired." Even she could smell the lie. Kaden was still exhausted and far from full recovery— therefore, needing as much rest as possible. It didn't help that Axel's scent reminded her of cookies—sweet and warm.
Axel looked at her, gave an exasperated sigh and made her lean into the crook of his arm.
"Axel, I don't want t-"
"Sleep, woman!" He snapped.
With one last glare up at him, she scoffed and fell asleep lulled by his scent.
l Axel's POV l
His wolf had finally regained control, and he could enjoy this moment.
Her steady breathing told him that she was no longer having nightmares.
When they had been in the orange…ish van, Kaden had started tossing and turning— followed quickly by whimpering in her sleep.
As much as he'd hated to wake her, he didn't want her to suffer anymore.
He glanced at her from the corner of his eye, his stomach instantly filling with butterflies.
Her face was almost healed from whatever the bastards had put on it.He stroked her soft cheek and she turned to nuzzle his hand. It was the cutest thing he'd ever seen.
She looked serene just propped up against him, sleeping like baby.It betrayed what she really was—a feisty Latina, ready to take on anyone standing in her way.
That thought made him smile.She was different.
He'd never really chased after a woman, not the way he was after her anyway.
Sure, he'd had lovers, but this one was different. Axel wanted to claim her as his, and so did his wolf counterpart.
"Hey, umm, boss? You done making kissy faces at your girl?" Connor asked amused from the front seat.
Axel shot daggers through his eyes at his second-in-command for having interrupted this rare and precious moment, "What is it you need?"
"Just curious. What's gonna happen to Audrey? I hope it's not something too bad."
"Considering she left in the middle of her shift to go get a coffee, yeah I'd say she's gonna get it bad." Axel understood he was pretty close to Audrey, they had shared a womb, but that didn't mean he would go easy on her. What she had done was irresponsible and had gotten his Kaden hurt.
Connor conceded the point and turned back around.
They would be arriving anytime now. The road they were on ended at the beginning of his estate.
There was a sign posted stating "No Trespassing: Private Property" just before the pavement gave way to a smooth dirt trail wide enough for incoming and outgoing cars to pass each other comfortably.
On the right side there was nothing but grass and trees.It looked like a public park, with benches placed against random trees— he'd meant it to be that way so his wolves could enjoy nature comfortably.
To the left there was a great lake, spotted with trees along it's edges. There was a stone trail leading from the lake back to his home, which was just a little further down.
It was a two-story Victorian style home.The front entrance had a huge arch with wooden double doors; behind the house, about a quarter of a mile back, stood hundreds of acres of woods— all belonging to him.The dirt trail gave way to a cement pool that surrounded the base of the house.
Pulling up to the house there was a red Camero, and a black Cavalier parked outside.The Camero was Andie's, while the Cavalier belonged to Connor.
Jordan steered to the left where he could park his Chevy in suit next to the others, closely followed by the Mercedes.
Everyone was about to get out of the car when he paused,"Ummm…"
How could he possibly make Kaden wake up when she was resting so peacefully?
Axel looked up to find Connor giving him an amused look, and before he could stop him, the foolish wolf started shaking Kaden awake.
Her eyes snapped open, and before either of them knew what was happening, she was sinking her teeth into Connor's hand.
He gave a yelp and pulled his hand back.
"I don't like when people touch me."
Axel simply laughed as he opened the door and proceeded to get out of the car, "Tried to warn you."
He looked back to the car, extending a hand to Kaden.
Kaden grabbed it for support, letting go of it instantly when she found her footing.
All the while she looked around, her face in awe.
Axel smiled to himself, eager to show her the rest of his home.
This would be where she stayed from now on, and he wanted her to like it.
Taylor roused herself from sleep, feeling the car begin to slow to a stop.
To her horror and confusion—which only added to her throbbing headache, Taylor found that she was snuggled tight to Mason.
Mason, who was looking out the window, hadn't noticed she was awake yet.
How was she going to pull this off? How could she keep her dignity?
She almost blew her cover with a groan as her brain offered her memories of embarrassment.
You smell nice?! What the hell was she thinking?!
That's the thing.She wasn't thinking.The alcohol was.
Damn. No more drinking. Ever.
If that had been said out loud, Kaden would have laughed her ass off at that declaration.
Her hands were clenched with fist fulls of Mason's dark red shirt, crumpled in between her fingers while her legs were bent at the knees curling around the side of him with her butt resting on one of his thighs.
Leaving her head to rest under his chin, making it hard to see his face.
"You gonna carry her?" Daren's voice sounded from the front seat.
She closed her eyes.
Mason exhaled, making her body rise with his, "Well…I could,"
"But?" Daren prompted him to continue.
"But you don't want her to wake up and be drop kicked for your good deed?" Akira attempted to finish the sentence.
This elicited a light chuckle from Mason, "No. Although I don't doubt that would happen…"
Taylor felt Mason's head attempt to tilt downward more to see her face.
"It's because I think she'd want to walk herself, after all, she's awake."
Taylor's body froze as a barrage of curse words flowed through her head.
She peeked one eye open and managed to display an apprehensive grin before Mason's gaze.
"Well, shit. She was. Look at that." Akira craned his head to look at her.
"How'd you know that?" Daren asked, his tone impressed.
Mason didn't take his gold eyes off Taylor as he shrugged his reply.
If he had some secret technique to her faking, he wasn't giving it away.
Taylor felt this was her cue to push off from his chest and wrench open the car door.
Thankfully, it had come to a full stop.
"I just didn't want to open my eyes against the light," She rubbed her temples for good measure.
She didn't have that bad of a hangover considering she was just buzzed but she wasn't above faking one.
Mason stepped out from the car with a smirk as he straightened to his full height, "Whatever you say."
Lacing his hands together and stretching them about his head gave him the appearance of a satisfied stretching cat, not at all the alpha wolf that lurked under his skin.
With an unlady-like snort Taylor turned to face the Axel's house.
"And they're bringing them here?"
"Hell, yeah. Can't you smell it, those sweet scents?"
"Those scents are off limits." Akira strode through the door first without waiting for either of the Alphas. He was a curious wolf.
"And why is that, wolf?" Both other wolves that were lounging inside Axel's den jumped to their feet to snarl.
"It's just advice," Akira stretched his arms over his head, "But…" Mason and Taylor strolled in the doors first—arguing as loud as their voices would let them."That's our alpha, that's our stray…and this—" Axel burst through the door with an equally looking pissed Kaden in tow, "—Is yours with the other. I don't think it's in your best interest to get to close to either of them. Advice."
Both wolves looked at each other and almost looked convinced until Taylor in her classic clueless fashion stretched and presented her—well, their incentive.
"Idiots." Daren spoke next to him, shaking his head.
"Hey, it isn't everyday you see an unmated female as cute as those two. I can see their thought process." Akira watched both girls assaulting the Alphas with no fear at all.
"You're just saying that because you want to watch them get their asses kicked." Daren smirked at his companion as he watched the two dim-witted wolves edged closer to the pairs.
Akira laughed, unabashed, "True, so true."
What Akira and Daren hadn't expected…the two wolves, judging by their manners to be only pups in age, were put in their place not by the Alphas but by Taylor and Kaden.
Which, to be honest, they should have seen coming.
"Funny." Kaden laughed.
"No, not funny," Taylor growled back at Kaden, "Enough about my car ride…what about yours?"
Kaden grew silent.
"Oooh? Something 'funny' happen?" Taylor sensed a juicy story and seized onto the change of topic that led away from her own embarrassment.
"Shut up." Kaden pushed Taylor's shoulder.
Kaden and Taylor turned their attention to the new company in front of them.
"Welcome." Both boys extended hands eagerly.
Kaden and Taylor looked at each other and gave a mutual smirk, all the while ignoring their outstretched hands.
"Yeah…hi," Taylor managed to force out.
"Sup." Kaden gave a nod.
One of the braver—or less intelligent wolves—stepped forward toward Taylor.
Reaching up to brush a strand of loose hair behind her ear, Taylor caught the foolish wolf's wrist before he could even begin to try and touch her.
In a ruthless manner, she yanked at his arm throwing him off balance; she ducked through his falling form to stand at his back.
Giving one finally push to his shoulder blades the Were fell on his face with Taylor twisting his arm to hold him in place…and a well placed foot to the spine as an added precaution.
Kaden just snorted, not at all surprised by Taylor's antics.
"Shouldn't have gone for the hair, she has a thing about that…" Kaden bent to meet the squished Were's eyes.
He let fly a string of curses as he tried to stand.
Taylor twisted his arm harder,"Now, now. That's no way to speak to a lady."
"You bitch! Aaron, you just gonna stand there or are you going to help me?" he snarled.
"Psh, it's not like you should need help, Brett. It's just a chic—"
"If you finish that sentence, you'll be like him. Or worse," Kaden supplied him with a lazy grin.
"Oh? Cute. You want to wrestle me, doll?"
Kaden moved faster than Taylor had— not that this surprised her.The dummy had asked for it.
She swiped "Aaron's" foot out from under him and before he could register what was happening, he was slammed against the floor next to his companion.
Kaden held both of the Were's arms upward and twisted.
It was obvious one arm was pulled out of socket, although Taylor was spared any bone chilling pops because neither could hear anything over the howling and blubbering.
This signaled Mason and Axel back in the room in a flurry."What the—?!"
"Hey, guys." Taylor used Brett's arm that she gripped to wave at the pair.Brett groaned at the motion.
"What are you two doing?" Mason's voice was full of pure amusement, not at all what Taylor thought she would hear.
"What did you two do?" Axel gave a more stern tone to them.
"Hey, they had it coming. You think lycanthropy would have leveled their male egotistical thinking." Kaden added a twist of Aaron's arm for good measure.
Taylor disagreed, finding that this tended to make it worse.
Even if one could lift a twist iron in the shape of a pretzel, females were coddled— Taylor and Kaden just used it to their advantage.
The wolf didn't disappoint as a whimper escaped past his lips from the painful jerk.
Axel pursed his lips in a disapproving manner at the pack mate at his feet before leveling his eyes to meet Taylor and Kaden once more, "I was talking to them. Not you."
"Axel, I thought it was foolish to worry about them here, being that they were guaranteed safe and all." Mason's voice dripped with sarcasm.
"At least no one has gotten kidnapped yet—!" Axel interjected with venom.
Taylor used the foot that was placed on Brett's back to push herself off the ground and land between the two Alphas smoothly,"Now, now, children, play nice."
Both looked on with a twinge of animosity, conveying quite clearly without words that her interjection was not appreciated.She felt the friction of energy singe her skin from being in between angry wolves and instead of breaking out into chills—she got annoyed.
She opened her mouth to speak and no doubt add fuel to the fire when Kaden interjected.
"So, where are we sleeping?"
Kaden was good like that. She sensed when the tension was getting high and defused it without even thinking; that and she could follow Taylor's own moods as clear as her own.
"Ah, glad you asked," Axel gave her a toothy smile that seemed like nothing good would come from this news—call it her own intuition.Stepping closer to Kaden he continued, "You will be staying in this room…with me."
Taylor almost let loose a loud laugh but caught herself in time and reduced it to a soundless whoosh of air escaping her lips as she tried not to look amused.
"…What?" Kaden was miraculously calm, although Taylor figured that it was more of a deadly tone than a calm one.
"My room is obviously the best room in this house and I don't have any vacant rooms near mine. Plus, the idea of you staying in a room alone without my immediate protection…no." he sounded resolute, "You will be staying with me."
Taylor tilted her head down to hide a smile as Kaden began a tirade all her own—she even thought she heard her dipping into Spanish, but she was speaking too fast for Taylor to tell for sure.
Axel appeared undeterred and actually looked on with a peculiar fascination.
Taylor didn't know when she started to giggle but she blamed it on Mason.
He was the one who started to snicker until it was an all out laugh. It was contagious.
"And what about her?!" Kaden snapped around to face Taylor once more.
Taylor shrunk at the attention, her smile evaporating.
"She has a room right next to Mason's—"
"Ab-so-lute-ly not!" Kaden made sure to over pronounce every syllable in the word absolutely as if it would make her point come across better if she elongated it.
"Wha--?!" Taylor jumped to her own defense, already seeing where this was going.
"It's only fair—I mean...she needs closer protection too." Kaden pointed out, faking a concerned expression.
"Well…" Axel pondered, his own sentence trailing off.
"I suppose I don't mind helping out." Mason chimed in a little too eagerly for her.
"Then it's settled."
"What?! No! I want my single room!" Taylor whined before turning a glare on Kaden, "And you? You're evil."
Kaden answered back with a laugh, "It's what you get. You were laughing at me."
And she had tried so hard not to laugh too…Well, this would be an interesting stay.
She turned to look at Mason's smirking face before burying her face into her hands.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
"When am I gonna get pumped?" Kaden asked again; mostly because her body was acting up again, her veins were bulging, and her heart beat was speeding up like she'd been working out.
She'd been slowly draining Taylor's energy through the bond and she knew it would start affecting Taylor soon if the silver wasn't extracted.
Kaden didn't know if Taylor could feel it, but if it kept going like this, she would soon find out.
She thought she was going a little crazy, kept remembering things that she knew hadn't happened to her, but the memories felt so real. Kaden was sure as soon as the silver was gone, everything would be back to normal.
Brett, the young wolf that had been taken down by Taylor snorted,
"You're gonna have to wait a while, Andie's treating Gaby," He turned to Axel "Had another fit".
Axel sighed and looked over at Kaden, "Want a tour of the house?
Kaden, who was still fuming over the restrictions they had set on the girls, rolled her eyes at him and shrugged.
No going outside alone, or at all during the night.What did they think they were a couple of inexperienced pups? They'd been watching out for each other for years, who gave the Alphas the right to call them their property?This was very frustrating.
Taylor looked over at Kaden, "See?! If you hadn't said I needed protection too they wouldn't have put these ridiculous restrictions on us."
"Oh no, I would have found another way to keep you guarded." Mason looked Taylor straight in the eyes.
She scoffed, "Yeah we'll see 'bout that."
Axel went ahead and started with the tour of the house.It was elegant, but comfortable; decorated in beige and light browns, to give the place a nice flow of energy. On the first floor, the living room took up the whole entryway and there were two hallways on either side of it.
Kaden didn't want to miss out on useful information she could use to escape, so she set her surliness aside and perked an ear.
"The left hallway has a restroom, two holding rooms for injured wolves, and stairs that lead down to the basement holding cells for dangerous wolves. The right hallway has the kitchen, and a library-study room which you guys are more than welcome to. It's also got the room I will be sharing with Kaden." He said looking over at her.
Kaden turned away heading for the stairs, Axel at her heals with Mason, Taylor, Akira and Daren in tow. Axel's wolves, Brett and Aaron were flanking the crowd, making Mason's pack edgy.
Axel stepped ahead of Kaden to the first room on the left, "This is Gaby's room. She's currently in one of the injured wolf rooms. The room across is a guest room." He opened the door to reveal a room with a dresser, a queen sized bed and a built-in bathroom.Akira quickly stepped ahead and laid claim to the room.
They walked further down the hall, huge paintings of beautiful landscapes hung on either side. They stopped at another room which happened to be Mason and Taylor's.
Mason looked over at Taylor, his eyes glittering in mischief.Taylor ignored Mason and waited for Axel to proceed.
Axel continued down the hall; then pointed to the next door on the right, "This is a bathroom. This is pretty much the end of the tour unless you wanna go out to the porch. Anyways you guys hungry?"
As Taylor and Kaden jumped at the idea of eating, Daren protested, "Whoa dude. Where am I supposed to crash?" He lifted his luggage as if to show them that he was, indeed, not settled in.
"Oh, Daren, you're welcome to chose any of the other rooms in this floor, but not the one the where the hallway ends, it's off limits."
"Why?" Kaden asked.
"Who else is staying here?" Taylor added.
"It's you guys and part of my pack."
Taylor, who had started inching forward towards the forbidden room asked, "Well, who else?"
Yeah, it would have been smarter to tell her to stay in there if they wanted her away from it Kaden silently mused.
"Connor lives with me, Andie's the pack Doctor and Gaby—Well, she's my most precious wolf. I like to keep her close."
A small tremor of jealousy snaked through Kaden at Axel's declaration. Instead of acting on it, she went ahead next to Taylor to see whose room was next but mostly to see if she could get away from Axel and control her damn emotions.
"I don't think it's a good idea to-" Axel started.
"Just show us the room." Kaden snapped.
"If you insist..." He replied, opening the door.
~ Taylor's POV ~
"And this room—"
Taylor smelt it coming before her brain had even registered the owner of the room; over applied cologne and plasticky gel assaulting her senses.
"Ah, come to visit me, sweetheart?" A cocky voice cut through Axel's remaining tour.
She turned a narrowed stare in the direction of the noise.
Axel walked into the room and the group of her, Mason and Kaden followed.
It was a large room with what looked like a porch with sliding glass doors on the far side wall and what may have been a private bathroom opposite of that.
It was completely devoid of color, using only black and white tones through the furniture, walls and decorations. It was tasteful— in one of those "chic but modern" ways and if she hadn't known better, she'd have guessed it was a girl's room. But that also could have been largely to do with the fact that he was the only male so far with a floor she could actually see.
A shock of blonde hair caught her eye, stashed in the far corner of the room.
Connor was bent over a brushed chrome desk, slashing his pencil this way and that—not bothering to meet or greet his visitors. Taylor chose to stay silent and ignore his jabs, now completely recovered from her impaired judgment.
The silence made him look up and grin, "So, how long are they staying, boss man?"
"That…is a complicated question." Axel admitted reluctantly.
Connor gave a nod, not looking like he heard the answer to his question at all.
His eyes were on Taylor.
And Taylor stared spitefully right back.
"Well, hopefully they'll stay with us a while." His tone was well practiced and came off smooth and seductive.
It made her skin crawl.
She was about to tell the wolf to 'take a picture it would last longer' when Mason gripped her wrist.
It was subtle enough that only Connor had noticed—Taylor frowned.She could feel Mason's influence and power, willing her to just stay near him and be content, safe— So she took a step forward, wrenching her wrist out of his grip and putting her closer to her other nightmare.
"What are you drawing?" She managed to fake enthusiasm, directing her question gleefully to Connor.
He, at first, was taken back but quickly recovered and pushed the paper closer to the edge of the desk for all of them to see.
What Taylor saw, she wasn't expecting, "It's amazing."
On the large 16x20 paper in dark vine charcoal was a building plan, but it was the indepth details at the side of the page that grabbed her attention—a large backyard garden complimented with wall murals and art decos littering a glass-lined back porch.
"Well, it's not finished. That's just a rough draft…" he went on, finally losing his confident tone.
"That's cool, what's it for?" Kaden tilted the paper more toward her to get a better look.
"Ah…I don't know. Maybe I'll build it and live in it…or maybe I'll sell the design." He shrugged off-handedly, wiping the stray charcoal from his fingers.
Taylor let out a small laugh, "Maybe you'll live in it? What are you—rich?"
"Yes. Filthy, actually." Axel mused while turning to walk back out the door, "Yet he still stays here and bugs me on a regular basis."
"Starting to like me more now?" He wiggled his eyebrows at Taylor.
She sighed. And he was doing so well too."Do I really need to dignify that with a response?"
"I'm not hearing a no." He called as the group proceeded to follow Axel back out.
Taylor heard Kaden chuckle but she wasn't about to say anything smart when she could sense a very moody Mason beside her once more.
Worn out from patrolling the halls—because she wasn't allowed to go outside no matter how much bribing she did from the posted guards, she proceeded to find a secluded spot.
That was easier said than done considering since she'd been here there had been a constant flow of wolves wanting to meet the "rogues". Really, she didn't consider herself much of a rogue considering she hadn't yet killed a human or gone rabid in public. She thought if she hadn't been a female, she might have disappointed a few visitors too.
She walked into the spare injury room, the one next to the room housing the mysterious "special" wolf none of them had yet to meet.Leaving the door ajar she studied her surroundings, the room was sturdy and simple, painted in peaceful pastels.
The room smelled like medicine, even though she didn't see any on the counters but she expected there was at least some rubbing alchol in the small cabinet on the far wall.It was unpleasant to the senses but she was willing to bet it was to others too and they would stay away from the room.
She heard a faint scraping against the wall next door and her mind flickered with mild curiousity but she pushed the thought away.
She'd be free game when she got out of that room, until then she'd let the poor thing rest.Weres may heal fast but it still hurt and she definetly understood the 'let sleeping dogs lie' now.
Walking on the other side of the bed she sat down, hoping the bed would block the top of her head if someone decided they wanted to peek in.She sighed, letting her muscles relax.Taylor still wasn't use to having wolves around that weren't trying to kill her and her guard had been up all day.
Now that she could think in peace, she thought of Kaden.She had went into Axel's room with a some other women, a pack doctor apparently.
Against Taylor's protests, she still wasn't allowed in and it wasn't until Kaden said she'd be okay that she had backed off but she hadn't been happy about it.
Andie was her name…she thought.Taylor really hadn't been paying attention; she'd been instead, trying to break past Axel and into the room where she could glimpse Kaden on the bed attached to some machine.
Andie was shocked that Taylor brushed off Axel's orders, she could tell. But that trick had been tried time and time again on her and her mind now only accepted them as suggestions.
That was yet another reason she couldn't be in a pack anymore. She couldn't fake obedience—she wouldn't.
It felt like a stinging sensation in her brain that she brushed off, it hurt but it was bearable.
Maybe if she had been in his pack it would have carried more weight.
She knew that she wasn't immune to a dominant's call. She wasn't that foolish, but she had yet to meet one that blindly compelled her to obey—and she was damned glad.
Closing her eyes against the late light streaming in through the window—barred, she had already checked.
Hm. Maybe Axel lost some face with her little stunt. Oops…again.
Well, she couldn't say she was sorry. He had asked for it when his whoosh of power washed against her skin. Part of the reason Taylor thought she could resist most orders was the fact that when she felt that power, those orders, she didn't feel comforted or scared—she felt rage.Her blood boiled at the thought of anyone trying to take away her opinions, her choices.
It was his fault.
And like that, the guilt vanished.
Blurs of her old life flashed across her closed lids, making her grit her teeth.That happened every now and then…
Flash. A young girl running from the pool of blood seeping under her parent's door.
Flash. Her rescuer, a handsome man bandaging her bitten arms while telling her everything would be alright now. And she believed him.
Flash. Her first change and pack run, he'd been so proud.
Flash. Her first defiance, he'd beaten her black and blue, ordering her to not change for a month. Her skin had been crawling with want during the pack hunt where he'd ordered her to attend as a human and stand there—listening to the sounds of playful yips and barks. She'd changed accidentally, her control still weak back then. She was beaten again, learning for the first time that an alpha's power could literally make her feel sick.
Flash. She was forced to—
"Taylor!"She was shook awake, startling her into a fenzied punch outward.
"Fuck!" it was a little muffled as Mason covered his nose, "Am I bleeding? Is my nose bleeding?"
She rolled her eyes trying to look annoyed but was really just grateful to be out of those memory loops. She must have fallen asleep.Taylor glanced out the window and saw that they sun was low, but still out. So at least she hadn't slept that long.
"Ow, ow," Mason's whining floated to her ears.
"Oh please, buck up or I'll tell your pack I made you cry with one punch."
He grinned and rubbed his nose one last time, "I thought I'd milk it but considering your sympathy fountain is dry, I'll let it go."
She smiled in spite of herself, "What did you want?"
"Okay, okay, straight to the point. Got it. Food's ready, you hungry?" he stood up and offered her a hand.
She pushed herself up on her feet and smiled as he scowled, putting his hand down."I'm famished."
Showing up at the table with Mason in tow, she was met by five other wolves.A woman, Ms. Doctor Andie.The flirt and rich wolf, Connor.The entourage made up of Akira and Daren.
And an obnoxiously bright red haired female.
"Oh, it's about time you found her." A lilting voice rang, "Where was she hiding? I can imagine being around our caliber of wolves can be a little overwhelming."
Taylor's eyes met the misty grey eyes of the red-head; her eyes were such a light, surreal color that if she hadn't been following them as they walked in Taylor would have assumed she was blind.
Taylor wasn't quite sure if that was supposed to be an insult or not but she let it slide in favor of the food sitting untouched in the center of the table—chicken.
Sliding into the seat next to Daren, Taylor replied,"Hiding. Hm, more like relaxing. It's not my fault certain wolves can't follow their noses. But I suppose that's fortunate because God help any unsuspecting member of your pack that would have disturbed me…I would have hated to chip a nail on your 'caliber' of wolves."
All movement seemed to still, sensing the tension.
Taylor carried on like normal, reaching to grab a piece of chicken.
As her fingers enclosed around a leg piece, a hand shot out swiping at her wrist.
Snatching her hand and what was left of her scrap of chicken back to her plate, Taylor glared up into Red's creepy eyes.
"That was a waste," Taylor gestured to the remaining bone and meat that had been neatly sliced off her piece and lay in between them on the oak table.
"Alpha eats first." She hissed back at her.
Taylor felt the bubble of laughter before it actually spilled out of her mouth.Amusing. And here she thought there was a deeper more complicated meaning to why Red was being such a bitch. Oh pack dynamics, what a hoot.
"Well, he's not here and I'm hungry."
She was pushing buttons now and if she didn't quit she'd start a pack war singlehandedly.Oh what the hell?Biting into what was left of her chicken she smiled, "Mmmm, that's good eats. Don't you think? Oh wait. You haven't had any yet…"
"You—!" she lunged across the table but her reach was too short and ended up clawing air.
Taylor chewed on as she cursed.
"Gaby. Enough." Axel's voice rang though the air, the power lancing through it making Taylor look up to watch Red's reaction.
"Yes, Alpha." She switched to a purr, beaming as he took the seat next to her.
Taylor took this time to look Red over in a new light.
This was Gaby? The special one? Her?
There must have been something more than met the eye with her because she was pretty unimpressive.
She was good looking, yes, but in that 'protect me' kind of way. She screamed submissive and snotty, that was probably why Taylor felt the need to ruffle a few feathers.
Gaby had bright red hair, obviously dyed because it was so intense in color. It waved down her shoulders to rest at an impressive set of breasts.
She was petite which was rare among Werewolves, she couldn't have been much taller than 5'1—but that was a guess considering she was seated.
Her skin was a light olive that complimented her misty doe eyes, which were currently fixed on Axel's every move.
"Hey, Ax. How's Kaden doing?"
Axel blew out a tired breath and threw a wary glare at her, "Fine now. You know, it could have been good information to know that she was afraid of needles."
Taylor gave him a coy smile, "Oh, I guess I didn't think it was relevant information at the time…"
"There seems to be a lot of information that could be relevant at the time in that head of yours."
"But would be it be as exciting if I told you what was coming all the time?" she grinned and Daren poorly covered a laugh with a cough.
Axel grabbed a chicken, signaling he was done talking about it; giving other wolves who had sat idly by their chance to talk.
"So…are you a part of the Kansas City pack?"
Taylor shifted her attention to Andie.
She was around the same height as Gaby only she had to weight twice as much.
Pleasantly plump, as Taylor referred to it. Her face was framed with short dirty blonde hair that just reached her shoulders, her eyes a dark chocolate brown.
Taylor formed a smile she didn't really feel, "No. Not exactly."
"Interesting," Andie pushed up on her black framed glasses that had slid too far down her nose.
"Not really." She took another bite of chicken, marveling at the chick's audacity.
"Doesn't it get lonely?" Connor smirked in her direction.She didn't miss his implied question.
"Have you not met Kaden?" Taylor smiled around a mouthful of chicken.
Akira laughed, "But I bet it'd be hard with you two always on the go."
Taylor felt a warning light go on in her head and sought to diffuse the situation before they started talking pack memberships, "Ha, Why? Getting attached to me?"
"Well, it would be considerably less exciting without you around." Daren jabbed her with an elbow making her laugh.
"Peaceful." Taylor offered, "Nice and peaceful."
"Overrated," Mason broke in with a lopsided grin of his own.
After that Taylor was bombarded with questions of their 'survival' alone. She answered them the best she could, being vague where it counted most but no one seemed to mind—merely fascinated with the stories she could fabricate about their misfortunes and near misses.
When Andie yawned, it signaled the end of dinner and bedtime, considering they talked most of the night away. Everyone said their goodnights, proceeded clean up scraps and head to their separate rooms…except for Taylor.
She stalled, squirming awkwardly in the hallway.
"Let's go." Mason came up behind her and pushed her through the doorway.
"But I'm not tired. I was thinking of browsing Axel's bookroom…or something." Anything but sleeping in here.
"No. You're tired." He barely spared a glance at her as he pulled his shirt off and threw it at his feet.
Walking past her frozen form he shut the door with a firm click.
"Shh," Mason took another step toward her and in the dark she could only see his golden eyes peering back at her.
"Yah!" Taylor tripped on some conspiring shirt or other cloth and her back hit the wall with a loud thump.
"Hey you two, make out more quietly! Some of us are trying to sleep!"Taylor heard muffled laughter ring out in living room down the hall and she attempted to memorize the voices to kill them later.
"We are not--!!"
Taylor's sentence was cut off as Mason's lips met hers.
Her hands, quicker than her mind at the moment, started to move of their own accord as they moved to push him back.
His own rough, wide hands captured hers at the wrists and he continued his assault on her mouth.
She tried to make sounds of protests and to produce a ferocious growl that wasn't nearly as threatening muffled.
Taylor brought her knee up and attempted to knee him in the groin.But, he too, saw that coming and avoided pain by grabbing both of her wrists in one hand and used his free one to knock her offending knee aside, spreading her legs wide so he could step closer to her.
She gasped as he pressed his chest against her and in doing so, left her mouth open and unguarded from his tongue.
It was at this time, Taylor began to grow lightheaded and her focus of getting away was starting to be forgotten.
Just as she closed her eyes at the assault of the various sensations—it was gone.
Opening her eyes frustrated and horrified at the same time; she was met by those gold eyes.
His face was close enough that she could see him through the pitch black, windowless room.
He was grinning smugly.
Her only hope of salvation at this point was outrage,"YOU SON OF A—"
One hand covered her mouth,"Shh, people are sleeping."
As he removed his palm she hissed, "What the hell were you thinking, you perverted wolf!"
She felt his body shrug against hers and she realized he still hadn't backed off or let her go.
"You smelt nice, not my fault."
That was his defense?
That was it?
She wrinkled her nose up in a wolfish manner and glowered at him,"Let. Me. Go."
"Hey, I would have apologized if it had looked like you weren't enjoying it."
His hand covered her mouth again as his lips grazed her ear, "Sleeping, remember?"
A wild thought of biting his hand crossed her mind, but before she could act he removed it again.
Pity. Next time.
With a step back, Mason let Taylor's poor wrists go and without another word, climbed into the bed.She stood there, speechless; her heart beating in frantic thumps as she idly rubbed her wrists.
What just happened here? And when did her life spiral out of control?Finally deciding to sleep on the floor, she plopped cross-legged right where she stood, leaning her back against the very wall that had trapped her.
"What are you doing?" Mason's voice was muffled as he spoke against a pillow.
"Get on this bed now," He raised his head to peer at her through the darkness.
"No." She replied back, her tone hysterical; after what happened he was lucky she was staying in the same room as him. And that was mostly because if she ran out of the room with her tail between her legs she would need to explain…and she wasn't about to go into specifics.
"If you don't get in here in the next five seconds I'm coming after you."
"Ooo, I'm so scared."
And actually, she was.
The springs of the bed creaked as he sat up, "Five."
"Don't even try it."Her voice was wary as he used her own technique against her.
"I'm comfortable here." She tried to make her voice a little more soothing, pleading.
It didn't help as his stoic voice counted, "Three."
"No!" she whispered furiously "After what you just did?? I'm staying here."
"Two, and I'm not going to try anything in bed. I promise."
She heard the smile in his voice."Hell no!"
Hearing the bed dip, she took that as her cue to run.Scrambling on all fours to the door, or anything she could grab really, she heard it.
"One."With that utterance he caught and pulled her right ankle, yanking her towards him and giving her quite the rug burn in the process.
"Shit!" she still managed to whisper as her panicked self thrashed against his hold.
Landing a few hits, she only managed to get a small whoosh of breath out of him.It didn't slow him down.
He proceeded to take the blanket on the bed and wrap it around her body and tie it in a big knot at the end.
"Are you serious?!"
She was answered only by his chuckle as her picked up her swaddled body and placed it on the bed.
He grabbed the other blanket at the foot of the bed and covered them both with it.
"Night," he was trying to hold back laughter.He placed one arm around her middle, halting her struggle to rip the blanket by sheer force.
"…Why me?" Taylor whimpered to no one in particular.
Mason pulled her tighter to him, "Because I'm tired of all those other wolves sniffing around you. You're mine."
It was sheer fear that kept her silent the rest of the night.
.::. Kaden's POV.::.
Kaden's eyes snapped open, her vision blurry, lips dry from lack of moisture.
She tried to move but she was tightly strapped against the bed, like a psychotic person in an asylum.
Her eyesight was slowly going back to normal, and as she looked down her body she saw that it was secured to the bed by thick leather bands.
She lay in cross form, with her arms extended all the way out to form a "T" shape. As Kaden tugged at restraints, they made faint stretching noises.
Her body pulsed with pain and she didn't know why until she heard a soft beeping that went in synch to her heart.
"What the hell's going on?" She asked herself softly as she turned her head to the right and spotted a contraption about the size of a night stand with a large glass bubble protruding from its left side and another from its right side. One bubble was filled with blood while the other was filled with a substance that looked like silver. The tubes on the machine carried blood through one end and pumped it out the other.
As she followed where the tubes were headed, Kaden realized there were needles attached to her.
They were attached in crook of her elbow, which was how the machine was getting her contaminated blood and putting pure blood back in. It had taken less than a second after seeing the needles for the panic set in like a brick in her stomach.
She renewed her tugging at the straps—now more desperate, but even if she had been energized and uninjured, she couldn't have ripped the long, thick straps of leather.
The machine picked up its beeping along with her increased heartbeat.
"Fuck," She whispered to herself as she tried to think of ways to free herself.
The crazy idea of Changing came to mind, but as scared as she was, Kaden wasn't that stupid. The needles would wind up snapping inside of her and probably killing her.
She, unwisely, looked down at her right arm, where yet another needle entered her vein. It was purple and bulging because that was where the blood was coming back into her body.
She instantly regretted looking at it, grimacing as she tried in vain to put her emotions into place.
Abandoning calm, she pulled more violently at the straps and that's when a face appeared before her.
Kaden hadn't heard Axel come into the room. He looked weary, but alert as he grabbed her face in his hands, "Kaden, it's okay."
When she thrashed even more violently he turned her head to him, forcing their eyes to meet.
"Kaden!" He spoke more sternly.
"Get me the fuck out of here!" her eyes were reduced to angry slits, "Right now."
"It's almost done ok?"
"Done with wh-"
And that's when she remembered last night's events.This machine was a creation made to remove a Wolf's infected blood and extract the silver from it. It hadn't occurred to Kaden that to do so, she would have to be attached to needles.
Damn alcohol. Thanks to it, she had been happily blissful. She might have made a run for it had she known it would end like this.
After having made the tour through Axels' house, Andie, the pack doctor, had taken her to the room to get started on the silver extraction. Axel hadn't let Taylor in and the pair had argued until Kaden had told Taylor she'd be okay—which Kaden would have never done had she known what would happen.
"What the hell am I? Some feral bitch? Get. Me. OUT!" she yelled, straining at the straps again.
Axel looked down at her, regret clouding his eyes, "I can't."
"The hell you can't! You have two hands, put them to use." She gritted her teeth.
Her arms, despite her tan complexion, had grown dark red with the effort of trying to break free from the bonds and they were starting to go numb.
"It's almost done. We have to extract every trace of silver, or overtime it will end up killing you."
"I don't give a shit, get me out!" Angry tears streamed down her cheeks, and flashes of her first two months as a wolf pranced through her mind.
Before Taylor had found her, she'd been experimented on.
When Kaden had been found, she'd been like a rabid animal and it took Taylor months to help Kaden with her fevers.
Remembering the casualties during that time made her guilty, but that was for another time, right now she wanted to get away from the room.
"Just one more minute. One. And I promise it will all be over." He spoke soothingly as he stroked her hair.
In reply, Kaden snarled and all logic went out the window.
Her eyes were quickly changing from brown to bright honey, her canines grew and her body shook.
"Oh shit. Taylor!"
Taylor rushed in at Axel's call and took hold of Kaden's shoulders as her back arched, trying to fight the Change, "Take control!"
Kaden whined as she fought her Wolf's demand for control of her body. The Wolf felt Kaden wasn't keeping them out of danger, and had decided to take the reins.
She barely resisted the call; the battle so harsh that Kaden felt like she was ripping her soul in half.
The machine gave three quick consecutive beeps before shutting down, signaling the end of the silver extraction.
Taylor and Axel moved quickly to remove the needles and leather straps and as soon as they were done Kaden let her wolf spring out.
Night black fur covered most of her body, except for her white underbelly.
Her body changed legs first, torso, then head. She stood on the bed, making it creak, and stretched out, her rump in the air as she let out a yawn.
Her eyes, though gold now, still had brown speckles in them.
So the wolf had only won the physical change.
She jumped down from the bed and nudged Taylor's open hand with her head, while she bumped Axel with her rear—a sign of gratitude.
"You're still evil. A lot has gone down." Taylor retorted drily, tipping Kaden off that something had happened.
Kaden's response was to give her a low whine which prompted Axel to give them a quizzical look.
"Later," Was all Taylor supplied, letting Kaden know she didn't want to discuss it in front of Axel.
Kaden snorted and trotted out the open door with Axel and Taylor close behind.She overheard Taylor's laugh as she turned to Axel to say, "Bet you she's headed for the kitchen."
Kaden turned a glare on Taylor as she continued her light run to…the kitchen.
She barked a greeting over at Akira, who sat on a stool in the kitchen.
"Hey Kaden. how ya feeling?" Akira asked, getting up to approach her and slapping a hand on her back.
Her rumbling stomach answered his question.
Akira laughed but she was all but ignoring him now.She had spotted his chicken on the counter, but being that it was out of mouths reach she jumped up on the counter to further eye the delicious food.
Just as she was about to clasp her jaws around it, the chicken disappeared.
With a sad whine, she looked up to see a woman with red hair holding the plate.Her eyes were so light it was freakish.
It was like they had no pupil or iris, just white.
Kaden growled at her, demanding the food back.
"This isn't yours to eat. Our Alpha hasn't given you permission," Her voice feigned innocence.
Kaden got ready to pounce, but Axel blocked her target.
"Kaden, it's okay," He spoke to her, oblivious of the redhead's smirk from behind him, "We're going out to dinner anyways."
Kaden saw the girl's face lose it's smugness as she looked at Axel in disbelief.
Kaden snorted, jumped down from the counter and left the room. She came back as a human wrapped in a dark blue sheet she'd found stuffed in a closet.
"Out to dinner?" She asked incredulously, "What do you think we are—a couple??"
"No, but I do recall you saying it'd be nice to go on a date with me," He replied with a smile.
"I…don't recall ever saying that." She snapped, noting that the girl had grabbed a hold of Axel's arm possessively.
"Plus, I owe you for not protecting you." He explained as he approached Kaden, trying to shake off the parasite on his arm.
"Look your deb--"But Kaden was cut off by the redhead.
"You can't leave!" Red pleaded to Axel, "I…we need you."
Kaden raised an eyebrow at her correction.Looked like the red head was a little infatuated with Axel.
"Gaby, it's not up to you. Plus, she can be a fine addition to the pack."
"She can't do anything. She's bad. She's broken." Gaby replied scathingly.
Taylor, knowing the girl was treading close to tender territory, laughed, "My, aren't you a glass half full."
Kaden snorted, "Of what? Poison?"
The Kansas City pack snickered as the woman continued her sputtering ranting,"B-buuut Alpha, you're finally back to protect us. You can't leave again. Especially with that filthy street bitch!"Gaby then proceeded to shoot Kaden a pointed glare.
The smirk fell away from Kaden's face and it was replaced by a look of hatred.She lunged for Gaby, but two pairs of hands shot out to hold her back, Mason and Daren held her arms tight.
Kaden was not in the mood for this, "Oh yeah? This 'bitch' is about to wipe the floor with that whore!"
"Gabriela!" Axel yelled at the girl, "You're dismissed!"
Gabriela shot Kaden and Taylor dirty looks as she placed the chicken platter on the counter, and walked out.
Kaden was immediately released, but the tension in the air was stifling.
She started to walk out, but Axel grabbed her arm, "Kaden, please." His eyes pleading.
She thought about it."What's in it for me chico?" She smirked, knowing only one thing would make her consider it.
Taylor laughed, following Kaden's thought process.
Axel chuckled as well, "Steak. Juicy, delicious, medium-rare goodness."
Kaden's smile fell.Damn. He was starting to get to know her.Not good.
She sighed, "Fine, but I ain't got shit to wear."
"Oh, don't worry, I've got it covered."
She had a bad feeling about this.
"This place really is beautiful…" Taylor wistfully thought outloud with a content sigh.
It was regretable she wouldn't witness the struggle and seeing off of Kaden and her date.
But being that all eyes were turned on her friend, she took the opportunity to sneak out because noone was watching her...and more importantly, the back doors.
She was sitting in the sun on a stone bench overlooking the rolling hills that had begun to change from a rich, lush green to a soft, mellow green.
She reached a plucked a few tufts of grass blades out of their roots, twisting them between her fingers while she thought.
Pretty soon they were going to have to go. It was obvious that Mason and Axel's shaky control was waning.
Ever since Kaden had been kidnapped they had been annoyingly protective and very eager to point the blame at each other.
Taylor shook her head, trying to keep her thoughts not on their current troubles but a solution.It really was too easy to sit and wallow though.
She noted the blades between her fingers, a few already hurrying to change into golden strands of yellow and brown instead of the soft greens.
She let the strands fly on a gust of wind.It was decided, it was time they left.
With both Axel and Mason's one track minds, they expected them to join their respective packs and with that act become separated.
That wasn't happening. It was true both of them had warmed up to the quirky wolves, but it wasn't to the extent of giving up their freedom and friendship.
The large cottonwood tree rustled in the wind making her raise her eyes to the leaves as they danced for her attention.
But they were denied even that simple action as the wind carried a scent foreign to the grassy expanse.
"So you finally noticed." Mason's cocky voice sounded from the branches high above her head.
"What are you stalking me?" Taylor raised a palm to shade her eyes from the sun so she could search for him.
Even while sneaking out, thinking she had been in the clear, Mason had caught her.
He snorted, "Don't flatter yourself. I just happened to be lounging in this tree before you came wandering out here all alone—something I told you not to do, by the way."
Taylor felt like being childish and retorting something along the lines of,'You're not the boss of me! Nyah!'
But she chose a more dignified approach,"I assumed I could handle myself. At least until my alarmed girly screams for help summoned backup mere yards from the house."
Mason laughed, shaking the branch he was lounging on; letting Taylor know where he hid amongst the thick leaves, "You? Girly?"
He laughed more as Taylor tried to decide if she should be insulted or not.
She was never one to like being called girly…but to say she wasn't…well, that wasn't good either.
"So, what brings you strolling out here looking so serious?" Mason asked, oblivious to the moral dilemma he brought up in her mind.
"Ah. Nothing too interesting, "Taylor shrugged hoping the statement was vague enough to not smell like a lie.She looked down at her feet hoping to hide her face.
A muted thud made her snap her eyes back to the tree Mason had been in to see he had jumped out of it and was making his way over to her.
She briefly wondered if Kaden was fairing better than her at this moment.
They heard something shatter, followed by "No way in hell I'm wearing a fuckin' dress!"
Everyone could hear Kaden's scream of protests from the living room.
It'd been going on for half an hour.
The ones remaining at the house had all decided to spend the night; offically declaring it pizza and poker night.Something both packs had seemed to do quite alot ever since Taylor and Kaden came into the picture.
"No way she's wearing a dress." Akira muttered, arranging his hand.
They were playing small practice games to pass the time before everyone gathered later in the evening.
Aaron smirked, "Bet I can take her in a dress."
Darren looked over at where the pup sat, hands held securely close to his chest and effectively hiding his cards, "Well, if you're willing to bet. I'm game."
A thud came from Axel's room, then a muttered curse from Kaden.
"Fine." Axel said, confidently.
A few minutes later they heard the door open.
Axel stepped out, adjusting the collar of the leather jacket he wore over a black satin button down shirt. As he continued to walk, he adjusted the belt on his black slacks, which were well accented by the black Nikes he wore.
Darren wolf whistled, "Lookin goooood."
Axel looked up from the jeering and smiled, hair slicked out of his face. "You ain't seen nothing yet."
Kaden stepped out next, her long brown waves of hair parted to one side. Her skin made good contrast with the turquoise of the halter top that tied around her neck and went down to her belly button, hugging her curves. She also wore a black skirt and a pair of mid-calf leather boots that made soft clip-clop noises as she walked across the hardwood floor, a jacket nesting in the crook of her arm.
"What did I do to deserve this?"
"Because I believe Taylor had claimed, 'You are evil!'. And something along the lines of 'karma being a bitch.'" Akira retorted, making Darren choke on his beer.
"Well, babe, you should thank karma, cause you look fiiine," Added Connor.
Kaden shot him the bird as she walked out the door, Axel at her heels.
This was always what made Taylor the most nervous.The way Mason looked at her…she felt like prey being stalked as he made an easy lope over to her.
"Really?" he plopped down on the vacant bench spot next to her, forcing her to move from the middle to the edge so they didn't touch.
Taylor studied his features to see if he believed her, or if he simply had grown bored with the subject—neither, unfortunately.
His golden eyes were sweeping across her face, looking for any disproving signs that he wouldn't find.
He had one eyebrow quirked up slightly to show he didn't believe her in the slightest. His lips curved into a soft grin that was usually reserved for when he was trying especially hard to goad her. The wind tousseled his hair, making his already mildly orange hair have a flame like quality.
"You have a leaf in your hair." Taylor noted flatly.
He tilted his head up in a haughty manner, "I know this. It's all the rage these days, you ignorant shewolf."
A laugh escaped her lips, making her scowl slightly at herself.She was still mad at him from last night, he wasn't about to charm his way out of that.
The simple sound spurred him on more, "Would you like me to design some leaf fashion fit for you, milady?"
"No. Leave." She regained control of her icy tone.
He sobered, resting a chin on his hand, propped up by an elbow resting on his knee, "What if I'm really quiet?"
Taylor rolled her brown eyes as she thought up a reply.She wasn't going to get rid of him and this was the best deal she was going to get, "Fine, whatever."
He beamed at her and looked like he was about to reply with a thanks but caught himself and instead mimed locking his lips and throwing the key over his shoulder.
Again she fought the urge to laugh and did her best to ignore him as she looked out at the landscape again.As she had been thinking about before; they should leave soon.Where would they go this time?Far away from these demanding dogs, that's for sure.
Said dog eased his head into her lap, startling her from her plans yet again.
"What do you think you're doing???"
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
The restaurant they arrived at was aptly named,The Blind Tiger Brewery and Restaurant.Steak and booze.
Axel knew her.
And damn well.
The whole place smelled of alcohol and meat.
"How many in your party?" The host asked.
"How many people do you see?" Kaden grumbled at the man.
The host looked like he was going to retort with something rude, but then he looked over at Axel and recognition dawned in his eyes, "Oh, Mr. Armstrong, would you like your private table?"
"Yes, Julian," He replied, giving the host a small nod.
They were sat down at a secluded table, the seats were comfortable and cushy.
The host started to hand them Kaden a menu but she waved it away,"Sixteen ounce Sirloin. Medium rare."
The host looked over at Kaden like she was crazy, "Ma'am, that's our biggest steak, are you sure you wa—"
"Yes I'm sure. I ordered it didn't I?" She snapped.
The host jotted it down, and then looked over at Axel.
"I'll take two full racks of spare ribs, a large platter of fries and a pitcher of beer."
"Any appetizers?" He asked jokingly.
"Nachos." Kaden stated, "Beefy nachos."
The host looked over at Axel, then Kaden, and wearily replied, "…Okay...coming right up."Then he walked away muttering.
"Nice place." Kaden observed, looking over at Axel, he looked really well dressed up.
"I figured you'd like it."He looked back at her through a few strands of dark hair that had fallen into his eyes.
"So why are we here exactly?" She figured something was up since he'd basically bribed her into coming.
"I want to know more. About you. About your life. I want to know how to make you stay."
Kaden hesitated as she saw the intensity in his eyes, "Why?"
"Because I want you mine."
"Quit dreaming. I'm my own person."
"Will you tell me how you and Taylor survive the madness of not being in a pack?"
"Will you tell me how long you've been packless?"
Axel sat silently analyzing, then responded with, "Will you tell me about your Change fever?"
Kaden figured she could reveal that much because it didn't include a lot about Taylor, and nodded, "My old Pack, well, they turned me without permission because they thought I would end up being…special. A wolf that would make it easier for other wolves to survive their changes, but I ended up being a plain and pretty damn dominant wolf. They considered me useless, so for me to be of use…they tested things on me." Her voice faltered a little.
"What type of things?" he was leaning across the table now.
"Just drugs that would speed up the Change…drugs that would incapacitate wolves…how to make wolves stronger…it was all very painful. It felt unnatural. I was at least half-drugged all the time for three months. I guess that's why I freak about needles."
Axel just stared at her, disbelief obvious on his face.
He looked up at her with what she assumed was his best puppy dog eyes,"Resting. I wasn't making a sound."She narrowed her eyes and his smile grew.He got her there. She hadn't specified that but it was clearly implied.
"Get away from me." She hissed scathingly.
Mason was undeterred as he replied with a "No."
She was about to push him off when he remarked,"Besides…I don't like when you get that look."
Taylor turned her eyes questioningly back to him.Certainly he wasn't this astute was he? Could he read minds?
"You look upset. Troubled," he reached up to gently tug a strand of her hair that was hanging inches above his face.
"I'm…thinking." She offered finally.
"About what?" he twirled the strand around his index finger, bringing her closer to him.
She knew at this point she had to word her sentence very carefully, "Kaden."
She left the rest open-ended hoping he would think it was about Kaden's abduction.
"Ah." He mumbled, not really looking at all interested in her answer anymore; his gold eyes lingering on her lips.
It was then Taylor realized she was in dangerous waters.
If she pulled back, she would lose a good chunk of her hair.
She liked her hair.
"It scared me." Taylor offered quickly to distract him before he could advance the space between them.
His eyes refocused on her own— his face losing some of it's initial heat, "I'm sorry to have put you through that."
He let her dark brown locks glide through his fingers before setting his hand back on his stomach.
Taylor felt a flare of irritation burn through her.Flicking his forehead in a scolding manner she glared down at him.
"Ow! Always the head with you!"
"Don't start a pity party; you had nothing to do with Kaden's kidnapping. So stop."
He studied her expression for a heartbeat before turning his head into her stomach and inhaling.
"What are you—What the hell?!" Taylor tried to push him off but he wrapped his arms around her waist and wasn't budging.
She could feel her shirt get hot and cling to her skin because of his breath.
Really, how did she find herself in these predicaments?
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
"Here you are." The host placed a big platter of cheesy, beef nachos on the table, and walked off promptly.
"What about you and Gaby?" Kaden asked, feeling a change of subject to be in her best interest.
Axel exhaled, "She's a very important part of the Pack, she's the only one in North America."
Kaden was astonished. So Gaby really could be a glass half full of poison, "How the hell—?"
"Short story? She had grown to be a powerful witch, and a big enemy of some pack in the northwest territory. They mauled her and left her for dead—But she wasn't. I rescued her and turns out she's a wolf now. It's quite the edge."
They had talked for a bit more, laughed and made jokes, and not too long after the main meals arrived.The steak was juicy and delicious, the fries fresh and crunchy, and the beer tasty and refreshing. The rest of dinner went pretty well, except for Axel getting forked.
That's what he got for trying to swipe some of her steak.
After paying for the food and tip, they left the restaurant with three more steaks for the wolves back home. The meat wouldn't last five minutes, Kaden guessed.
As she walked out, she felt like she was putting something aside but couldn't quite put her finger on it.
She shook her head at her foolishness, grinning. She was just about to open her passenger door when Axel grabbed her shoulder and turned her around.
Axel towered over her.
"What are you doing?" She asked, feeling the booze with such a quick turn.
"Why don't you want to be mine?"
"It's…I mean. It's not you, Ax…it's just…I don't know, okay? Please don't ruin this night. I had fun, as friends, you know."
Kaden didn't have the same "thing" against men as Taylor did, but her desire to stay single was still pretty strong.
"I don't like being controlled, okay? I like the freedom I've got, and you're a Pack Alpha. You're as dominant as it gets."
"I can protect you. Give you a good life. I know how you live, no different from any other rogue, you're lucky you haven't gone mad. Not staying in any place for too long, eating only what you can afford. No moment of peace." Axel stepped closer to her, trapping her between the car's steel frame and his rock hard body.
Kaden had to admit that having a good life had its appeal, but she was too set in her ways to just walk away, especially since she'd probably have to leave Taylor behind.
"I want to take care of you."
For the first time ever, she was speechless.To compensate, she tried to get out of the sandwich Axel had made out of her, but he pressed against her harder, taking her face in his hand and making her look into his eyes.
"I won't let you get away."
She felt Mason draw in a large breath while rubbing a circle with his forehead on her abdomen.
"You weirdo—!" She shook his shoulders roughly.
"You know I have to leave soon, my pack needs me. But I need you." Mason's muffled voice murmured into her shirt.
"Excuse me?" She tried tugging on his hair, not understanding his mumbling.
"I said," he pried himself a centimeter from her middle, "Thank you."
No, he didn't, but she let it go."Can you get off me now?"
"No." He placed his face back against her, making her sigh in annoyance.Her hands that were tugging hard on his scalp turned to gentle glides through it.
He really did have nice hair. Very silky, not too long but long enough to run her fingers through.
It was unfair men never took care of it and it seemed to do well enough.
She felt his shoulders relax in her lap bringing the thought why he was outside alone.Was he worrying about something too?
Feeling his hands grip desperately to the back of her shirt had her thinking yes.
Fine. She'd allow him this.She owed him for his supply of manpower in rescuing Kaden anyway.…although that was probably evened out thanks to last night...Her hands tightened into fist just as he gave a light sigh making her forget her rage.
"Oh Alpha, what has you sighing like that?" She kept her tone lightly teasing as she resumed playing with his hair.
"You have no idea." He rolled unto his back, letting go of her waist and staring vacantly upwards.
"You feeling better?" Taylor arranged his bangs out of his eyes.
"Much. Thank you." He gave her a slow, grateful smile while refocusing his stare on her.
In one swift moment, she stood; the action making him roll off her lap and unto the ground.
"You're welcome." She smiled down at him as he eyed her warily, making no move to pick himself up, "Glad I could help."
And with that, she started her walk back to the house alone.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
Axel kissed her softly, like he'd been waiting for this moment a long time.
Kaden's eyes widened as her mind caught up with her reacting body and she tried to push Axel away, but as a result he slid his hand around her hip, gripping her tightly.
She had to stifle a moan as his tongue flicked inside her mouth, he pulled back and looked down at her in happy triumph.
Kaden's breath caught in her throat, as she realized she wanted more. And it was at that moment, Kaden caved and went for what she wanted.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him back, now fiercely. His hands now snaking up her sides, along with her shirt when Kaden suddenly pulled back—a painful jab racked through her body.
Her semi-drunk mind didn't register what was happening until it happened again. The constant bell that had been going off as she'd left the restaurant.
Taylor was in trouble.
"That was unnecessary!"
Taylor heard Mason called in the distance, still probably wallowing in the dirt where she'd left him.
She turned around to give a sarcastic reply when she spotted a golden streak in the distance, zigzagging around the birch trees and racing straight for Taylor.
It was then she was aware of the soft puffs of air coming from somewhere behind her.
A quick glance behind showed her Lucas, one of the wolves from Mason's pack. Lucas looked quite ragged, his jacket sagging down one of his arms, ripped open in the front and missing a zipper. Dirt, scratches and leaves decorated his face and hair.
The strange noise sounded again, drawing her eyes to his hands, there—a gun, complete with a small silencer.
"Get back!" his eyes didn't leave his initial target past her clueless form.
Then who was he shooting at?
She looked back to see that the golden blur of fur hadn't slow down at all and had made up surprising ground—faster than she'd expected.
Only mere feet away, was Audrey; her blonde fur darkened by blood, probably her own.
Before Taylor could react, Audrey had already launched herself in the air, her mouth baring opening in fury.
Taylor was aware of another puff, signaling another shot fired off by Lucas and Audrey's body recoiled.Audrey's muzzle closed in what would have been a grimace if she'd have been in human form.
Her large body, still flying in a large arc, crashed into Taylor; knocking her body to the ground with a bone jarring thud.
"Taylor—! Lucas! What the fuck is going on?!"
Taylor was vaguely aware of Mason's voice as his rapid footsteps took him nearer to them.
It was hard to breathe.
Audrey was crushing her body with her 300 pounds of wolf muscle. It had felt like a boulder slammed into her—actually, a boulder might have at least broken and gave a little bit. A werewolf's bones in wolf form were as tough as steel and felt just as peachy getting rammed against with.
She was pretty sure she broke her wrist and maybe another stray bone or two…
Lucas came closer to her and ignored Mason's rant.He peered down at her—no, he was looking at Audrey, Taylor realized.
Was Audrey dead? Did she really care at this point?
"Taylor!? Let me help you up." Mason started to move forward and reach for Audrey when Lucas stiffened, although she was sure Mason didn't notice.
"Lucas?" Taylor used what little air her lungs had left in them.
Lucas snapped to attention, barely sparing her another glance while staring down Mason.
Mason seemed to sense something was wrong after his eyes left Taylor. He retracted his arm and gave the command, "Lucas, give me the gun now. It's over."
Lucas raised the gun from his side.
And then—Taylor broke out in chills. It wasn't a subdued expression Lucas was wearing, but one of madness.
He raised the gun higher, barrel pointed outward, safety still off and finger still on the trigger—then he smiled.
Everything went in slow motion. Despite the burning in her wrist, Taylor shoved at Audrey's unmoving form, trying to get more of her body free to reach Lucas' ankles.
The click of the trigger beginning to be squeezed filled her ears and she screamed an angry, desperate howl.
A form too fast to catch; crashed into Lucas, jolting him sideways just as the bang sounded…but Mason still went down.
No! No, no, no, no!
This couldn't be real!
She wrenched her body out from under Audrey, barely aware of snarling and screaming.
Her eyes only had a second to take in the large brown wolf shaking Lucas like a ragdoll in her jaws.
"..Bree—?" before her confused mind could sort out what to do, there were hands pulling her backward.
She snarled and blindly swung backwards, hitting her offender.
"Oof! It's me! It's me!" Daren's voice filled her ears making her stop her struggle.
Wolves were everywhere now, huddled around Mason, pulling apart Bree and Lucas, and checking Audrey for a pulse…
What…? Just a few seconds ago, everything had been so peaceful.
Taylor was bombarded with quick flashes of memory strings with Lucas, he was the first one they had met…the first one to interrogate Kaden (and get bit), he played poker with them, ate all the pepperoni off the meat lovers they ordered, his peppered brown and black wolf form with his tongue lolling out happily after he woke them up—
"Dead." Taylor echoed the statement in a hollow tone.
"The other one?"
Taylor watched numbly as one of Axel's men nudged Audrey's body with his foot.
"She's still breathing. Get her inside, and get the other girl inside too."
She thought they were talking about Bree's panting form, now human and sprawled on the grass, until Daren began dragging her backwards.
"No," Taylor scrambled for footing and her voice, "No!"
"Akira's got him. Akira's carrying him in behind you." Daren spoke against her hair, trying to soothe her.
She looked to see that Akira was carrying Mason out of the crowd gently.
Taylor nodded but didn't take her eyes off Mason, mesmerized by the rise and fall of his chest—it was as if she were to break eye her contact, it would stop.
Everyone was ushered through the door and a flurry of movement commenced. Taylor wasn't aware of anything other than blood filling her nose, there was so much of it she couldn't scent one from the other.
She was eventually sat in a chair in the same injury room she had taken a snooze in before. Her mind reeled at the fact Bree, the very She-wolf who hated her guts had saved them and the Wolf she'd befriended had been the one trying to kill them. Or at least Mason….she really was too shaken up to contemplate much.
It wasn't until Mason was hauled in, did she sit up and come back to reality.
"Hon, now let me see your wrist," Andie came into her vision, startling a growl out of her.
Akira and Daren, who were already on edge by having an injured alpha in enemy territory, spun around to issue a growl of their own.
"Hey, hey! None of that, I have to look at this. Calm down," she grabbed Taylor's wrist more roughly than she would have liked.
"Will he be okay?" Taylor's throat sounded rough and tired.
"Yes," Andie's voice softened "He'll be fine. The bullet, thankfully, missed all his vital organs and passed completely through him. We only had to disinfect and bandage. The bullet was made of an unusual silver that burnt a much larger radius than a normal silver bullet. Although, no permanent damage was done, he won't be mobile for a while."
Taylor nodded, really not hearing anything past, "He'll be fine".
"Oh, and you have a nice clean break here…This won't take long to heal. May I see your stomach?"
Taylor complied, lifting her shirt for Andie to note the large purple bruise that started at her lower stomach and climbed, disappearing into her bra. Andie pressed the cold stethoscope and listened to her heart…or lungs…whatever, Taylor wasn't paying attention again.
"Well, I don't feel any other broken bones, ribs might be bruised and your lungs might be a bit sore but they seem fine. Let me know if you still have any shortness of breath tomorrow." Andie quickly set her wrist in a gaudy, temporary blue brace.
"Right," Taylor followed Andie's movements as she headed for the door, "Hey, how's Audrey?"
Andie turned to face her with a less than optimistic look, "She's…well, she's alive for now. The next couple hours will determine what will happen with her; the other girl…Bree? She's with her now."
Taylor gave a final nod to signal she was done talking when Andie continued,"You need rest—Ah, I know," she cut off Taylor's protest before she even started, "Lay with Mason. It's a big enough bed. Just be careful not to jar him."
Taylor gave her a small grateful smile, "Thank you."
"Mm-hmm. And as for you two," She directed to Akira and Daren who had been pacing the bedside, "You need to leave this room."
Feral growls were the response.
"I have more than enough man power outside to have you removed. This room is for the injured. Are you injured? No. Not yet. Now hop to it, out!"
They still didn't move, "Guys,"Taylor did her best alpha voice she could manage—anything to avoid more bloodshed tonight, "Get out. And guard the door. The window is barred; no one's getting in here unless it's through that door."
Both of them looked into her eyes and stared long and hard, it was the most uncomfortable experience of her life but miraculously they back down, "Scream if you even hear anything out of place, we'll be right outside the door."
"I will."She grit her teeth at the fierce protectiveness and determination she felt to not let another thing harm Mason or any other friend around her.
Maybe it was infectious.
They seemed satisfied at that omission and went voluntarily, ushered from the room by Andie, who then proceeded to shut the door behind her.
Gathering her numb feet out from underneath her butt on the chair, she weakly worked her over to the bed.
"You idiot," She stared down at Mason's emotionless face, "You gave me a heart attack, you know that?" And to her horror, she felt her vision start to blur. Blinking rapidly and shaking her head to clear her traitorous tear ducts, she crawled gingerly unto the bed and lay closest to the uninjured left side of his torso.
"And when you wake up, I'm gonna chew you out for the hell of it," Taylor laid her head on the pillow and finally succumbed to exhaustion.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
The second pang of pain hit Kaden hard and unexpected, undoubtedly just as Taylor had received it, as she took her boots off to run faster. There was only one problem with that pain…well besides the fact that Taylor was in pain. This felt different.
It didn't feel like the typical pain they shared, it ran deeper, and that's when Kaden realized it wasn't physical. She stifled a relieved laugh as she realized what had been so off about Taylor as they pulled up to the house.
Kaden got out of the car barefoot and ran, her feet pounding against the rough stones as her desperation to know what had happened grew. She barged the front door to find every wolf in the room turn to look at her; their assortment of expressions varying from curious, sad, to downright annoyed, which let her know nothing too grave had gone down.
"Taylor, whe… where is she. She alright?"
"She's resting with Mason, and yeah she's fine, just needs some rest." Andie replied as Axel caught up to Kaden.
Connor stood up, face grim and eyes dark brown, unlike their usual ice blue, "Kansas pack member Lucas Sharpe assaulted Alpha Mason Kavanaugh and our Audrey Randall with a weapon. Respective Kansas pack member Bree Bennett stopped Sharpe and killed him. Mason is recovering. Audrey's condition is…unknown." Connor finished as he tightened his fists in anger, which was to be expected considering Audrey and Connor were twins.
Connor all but flew out the door, his job as Axel's second fulfilled.
Jordan replayed the story in more detail to Axel and Kaden, as more and more of Axel's wolves arrived. The new wolves stared at her curiously, not even trying to pretend they weren't staring.
She had to admit, it bothered her a little.
Kaden was at least grateful that Daren and Akira weren't around. They'd have felt very uneasy considering they would have been outnumbered and completely surrounded by another Pack.
Kaden focused back to the story, but as he continued, it didn't make sense.Why would Lucas shoot Audrey and Mason? How did he even know Audrey, since they weren't in the same Pack? And then how could he have shot his own Alpha? But if he was able to shoot him, did that mean he belonged to his Pack? Thinking about it gave her a headache.
"This is all from Taylor?" Axel asked.
"Affirmative, sir. Mason and Audrey have not awakened, and Bree refuses to speak to anyone who is not her Alpha." Jordan said his African accent thick.
"Axel, there's something I would like to mention," Andie said as she stood.Axel nodded his permission for her to continue as he paced in thought.
"The bullet wounds that were inflicted on Kavanaugh and Sharpe were abnormal. The wounds grew in circumference in the few seconds it took me to get to them."
Kaden's head shot up, "Did you treat it right away?"
Andie scoffed, "Of course! I'm no amateur, I know my stuff."
Kaden glared, "I've had the same thing happ—" But before she could finish, she was cut off by Bree.
"Can I speak with you?" Her eyes seemed glared holes into the wall straight ahead of her; it seemed she was determined not to look at anyone.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
Kaden hesitated. She wasn't exactly Bree's favorite person.
In fact, if it wasn't for Taylor, Kaden would probably be at the top of her list. Plus, Kaden was definitely not her Alpha.
Reluctantly, Kaden decided to follow Bree's limping form back to her room and shut the door behind her.
Bree's face was bruised and her right arm was in a simple cloth cast.
Kaden crossed her arms over her chest, "What is it?"
"I want you and that damn freak gone." She said in a low voice, spitting the word freak venomously at Kaden.
Kaden's heartbeat picked up with rage as she took a few steps closer to Bree, "If you're not afraid of me, you better start. I don't care that you're hurt and saved Mason's life today, I don't mind adding collapsed throat to your list of injuries."
Kaden was satisfied as the thick, tangy smell of fear overcame her nostrils.She smiled at Bree, "Well?"
"I know what's going on with Lucas and everything, but you have to promise to leave. Both of you. You keep hurting Mason and Axel. You keep bringing death into our Packs."
Kaden flinched at the accusation; more so because Bree was right.
If it hadn't been for the pair of them, the two packs would be safe and sound in their respective territories.
Now thanks to them, there had been blood, destruction, and danger brought upon the Kansas packs.
"You also can't tell anyone except Taylor. I will tell my Alpha what we have done when he awakens. Do we have a deal?"
"Deal," Kaden responded around a dry mouth, still feeling guilty about the Pack's situations.
She wasn't sure if she'd go through with leaving or not, but she needed to hear what the She-Wolf had to say.
Bree smirked in satisfaction, "So, Luke set you up to get sent to California. As soon as he'd laid eyes on you and Taylor he'd known you were runaways. He'd had a few buddies who were looking for you, and willing to compensate heavily for his troubles, so he helped get you back to them. And he brainwashed Audrey and me into helping." She whispered.
"What?!" Kaden exclaimed in a mixture of surprise and rage.
"Shh, they can't hear about it. No one. Anyway, point is, we didn't know about the blood and killing bit. We just thought he was taking you back to where you belonged, which worked in our favor because we wanted our Alphas back and you had taken them." She continued in a low voice.
"You fucking serious?" Kaden whispered back angrily.
"Yeah, so? Whatever. Bottom line, Audrey and I didn't want to be involved anymore. We wanted to come clean. But Audrey made the mistake of telling Luke—stupid woman, and he came after her when she went to contact Axel. She and I are friends; I couldn't let anything happen to her. I followed Luke to the clearing find him pointing a gun at my alpha," the fury in her voice was impressive, "Guess he wasn't meant to win. Anyway, dead or not, his buddies are still coming here to collect you both so I suggest you start packing."
Kaden took all this in silently.
They had gotten so good at staying off the radar, never staying in one place for too long, always avoiding Pack dens and the other wolves.
Now look at them. Who knows what would happen now.
And it was at that moment that Kaden decided it would be best to run. Not because she'd promised Bree, but because they needed to continue their lives as lone wolves, without hurting anybody else and getting themselves caught.
But before that, she had to get all the information out of Bree and go look for Taylor so they could decide what to do,"When are they coming? And who are they?" Kaden asked.
"Sometime tomorrow, and both your old packs."
Kaden's eyes widened at that horrible thought. Taylor and her would be imprisoned and separated for good. In panic, she started for the door, but stopped short as an idea sprung from her mind."How did Lucas get here?"
"Car. If you go Northeast of Axel's back yard, there's a road a couple miles ahead that leads to an abandoned gas station. I tracked him on foot after that, so I assume it's where he stashed the car."
"Make sure the wolves are safe," Kaden turned her back on Bree and headed for the door.
Everyone in the living room looked up at her expectantly, but she wasn't going try to come up with any explanations. Her mind was focused on Taylor and getting the hell out of Axel's place.
Axel called after her, but she kept walking.
She was trying to follow her nose to Taylor when one of the wolves she hadn't met, stepped into her path.
She gave him a low growl, but he still didn't back off, "Our Alpha is speaking to you."
"Let her by, Kendrix, it's alright."He scowled at her, but complied by moving out of the way.
Kaden half-jogged through the house trying to find Taylor's room. She was getting close, her scent was growing stronger.
She was rapidly turning a corner when she almost ran into Gaby standing in front of her, blocking the hall, eyes alive with mischief.
"You know," She said in her light voice, "Trouble goes on even if you aren't around."
"What? What are you talking about?" Kaden questioned.
"It'll catch up to you soon. I know what's going on, and I know how it'll end," She said as she walked around a confused Kaden holding a small red pendant in her hands with a smile on her face.
She had to admit that was weird, but Kaden decided to let it go and continue her journey to Taylor.
As she pressed on she debated whether to mentioning her little bump into Gaby or not, before she could come to a decision Kaden spotted dear Akira and Daren, arms crossed, blocking Taylor's door so inconspicuously.
= Mason's POV =
Mason was having a great dream.His pack howled out around him, each member spaced a few miles off.
There was no danger here. He could just stay and rest in the soft bed of pine needles and enjoy the sounds of the forest without being bothered.
The sound of up turned leaves swiveled his ears behind him, he growled.
Making his body rise and turn to his offender, he was awestruck by the sight he took in. There, viciously digging in the earth and planting her muzzle in the hole she made, stood a beautiful, beige female werewolf.
He pulled his lips down over his bared teeth and just sat and watched in wonder, it seemed she hadn't seen or heard him yet.
With an adorably frustrated growl, she jumped up with her two front paws and slammed against the soil.
Mason rose his head to scent the air—rabbit. There was a rabbit hidden in his burrow that must have gotten away from her. He watched as his movement made her body freeze in awareness. She turned her head and met his eyes, she had the brightest gold eyes ever seen on a Were, it paralyzed him—until she turned tail and ran.
Mason sat for a heartbeat and watched her sandy tail bounce out of his sight behind the brush, then he gave chase.
His wolf gave a happy snort as he followed her trail by scent because there was no sound to track her by anymore. He squirmed at the thought she was tucked away in hiding somewhere, it would be easier if she thought she could hide from him.
It meant less running.
He entered the small clearing at a jog, his pointed ears straining for any noise to alert him of her position. He was close.
She had to be around here. Trapped. There was nowhere else to go with the cliff that dropped off into an impressive drop into the water below.
No, she couldn't have jumped she—A snap of tree bark made him spin.
There the female stood on two legs, her dark brown hair cascading down her back and covering her breasts in the front. She was a smooth tan complexion that was darker than her Shewolf fur, but her eyes were the same gold peering out at him unflinchingly.
He was so busy studying his prey's new form that he didn't notice the large, strained birch branch she grasped in two hands.
"You underestimated me," She told him, following his gaze.And then she smiled and let go of the bowing branch.
Mason's wolf took over before he could even process the branch coming at him, but it was still too late. The branch hit him in the neck and chest, pushing him the last distance over the edge.And as he fell, back first, he couldn't keep his eyes off the wily female standing on the cliff.
Pain. He felt pain.
Did that fall kill him?Everything was dark and he felt like he was constricted, so he thrashed desperately until he connected with something hard.
"Ow! You fucker!"
He opened his eyes in surprise to find the same golden eyes peering down at him from a bed.
"You fell from the bed after scrambling around so much, you idiot." She made no move to help him from the tight, make shift crevasse between the wall and bed.
"What's wrong?!" a loud bang sounded as Darren barged in the room with Akira on his heels.
"Nothing." She sighed, taking her eyes off him to give an exasperated look to the nervous pair.
Mason noticed she was cradling her side, "…did I hit you?"
Taylor glanced back down at him, "My fault. I tried to hold you down and stop your moving but you freaked. Lucky hit in an already tender area."
A loud rushing sound filled his ears as his veins burned with rage and shame for himself.But before he could say sorry, she reached down and flicked his forehead, "Don't start."
"Ah! Hey—!" Mason growled and tried to tear out of the blankets wrapped around him.
"Boss, do you want—"
"NO!" he cut Darren off, "I'm fine. Leave."
"Hey!" Taylor turned his jaw to make him look at her and not glare at Darren, "Be nice. They're worried about you."
Her brow was furrowed seriously as she scolded him. He couldn't help it; he broke into a smile that instantly made her expression change to one of suspicion.
"I'm sorry, thank you." He looked directly at her.
She let go of his jaw with a smile, "There. See? That wasn't so bad," she turned beam to at the pair still frozen awkwardly in the doorway, "He appreciates your concern, thank you guys."
No. That wasn't true.He could really careless about those two at this moment.
He was talking to her, but he wasn't going to tell her that.
"R-right," Akira was flustered by Taylor's bright smile, Mason growled at the transfixed pair.
Mason reached up and hit her lightly on the arm, "So, are you going make yourself useful or what?"
He was aware of the fast clicking of the door as she turned her attention on him once again.Good. The idiots got the hint.
"I'm thinking not. Ruude," She tsked, but still began unraveling the blanket so he could get his other arm free.
"I'll tell you what's rude, killing me in my dream."
"What?" she gave an amused laugh, still untangling him.
"You killed me in my dream!" he huffed indignantly.
She paused to look at him with a cheeky grin, "You dreamt about me?"
He fought the heat rising up on his face, "That's hardly the point!"He definitely wasn't going to divulge she was naked in said dream either.
"Right, continue," she grasped his shoulder and helped him wobble back unto the bed.
"You whacked me off a cliff."
"What'd you do?"
"You…" he wasn't sure if she was aware of the fact that she was tucking him back in the blankets gently as she listened; so he continued, "Ran from me."
"Oh?" He didn't like the sound of that Oh.
"So, how did this end in me killing you?" she avoided the subject.
He was tempted to not let it go, but maybe he was just being paranoid, "I tracked you to this cliff, I thought I had you trapped. But you were behind me, waiting for me to get close enough to the edge and bam! You let go of a branch that flung back and knocked me off."
"Huh." She was sitting against the bed frame on top of the covers now, "…So, even in your dreams I bested you?" Her mouth formed into a mischievous grin before busting into laughter.
"Oh, ha ha," He tried to sound unamused but even he heard the laughter in his voice, "You know—"
"Oh, like hell!! If you two don't move out of my way—!" Kaden's voice rang out, full of fury.
"Kaden? Oh, let her in," Taylor barely raised her voice knowing they would hear her through the door.
They had alot to discuss.
l Axel's POV l
Bree and Kaden had been quiet enough— except for Kaden's unexpected yell, but still the Pack hadn't been able to hear anything of merit.
Axel's decision to leave Kaden to her own choices was hard, but he decided that securing his home was more important than his petty desire to be around her.
He looked around to Kendrix,"Take two teams with you and make a round-about. Make sure no strangers are lurking about."
"And if there are?"
"Capture them, and if that proves troublesome, take care of them."
Kendrix obediently jogged out of the door with half a dozen wolves at his back.
Jordan approached Axel, "Do you wish for me to call the rest?"
"Yes, put them on alert." He replied over his shoulder as he strode over to a wooden cabinet and opened it to reveal an electric key pad.
Axel then inserted the ten digit pass-code that allowed him access to its contents—four silver pistols.
Jordan's body froze as he was reaching for the phone when he spotted the weapons, "Are you sure about this?"
"I thought those guns could kill a Were in a matter of seconds—Actually, kill pretty much anything with magic in it's veins."
Axel looked back at Jordan and chuckled, "Exactly. No one's getting near her."
"But using them could be dangerous," He eyed the guns with a mixture of fear and respect.
Axel took out a gun and weighed it in his hand. It was surprisingly heavier than a normal gun and it was to the touch warm. Placing two of them in the waist line of his belt, he took the other remaining two in each hand. He walked over to Jordan and tried to hand him one, but the wolf took half a step back, appalled to be offered such a thing.
"Alpha, I cannot…" He stammered.
"It's fine. The magic won't affect us. Gaby made sure of it. Take it."
"How can you trust that hateful wit-"
Axel put his hand out to signal Jordan to stop talking.He inhaled deeply, catching a subtle vanilla, and whispered, "Watch what you say, Brother, you never know who might be lurking."
Axel caught his twinge of apprehension, but Jordan took the gun despite his uncertainty.Axel nodded to him encouragingly, and headed for the kitchen, almost bumping into Gaby in the process.
"You're going to use them?" She asked incredulously, her red pendant securely against her chest.
"Yes. I need them. Why are you wearing the necklace?"
"They took years to make, and you're going to waste them on this mutt?" She avoided his question, her light voice weaving through his conscience.
"Gaby…" He growled a warning.
"What?" She questioned innocently, stepping closer to him.
"Stop it." Her voice was one of her more powerful weapons when she wore her pendant, and he couldn't get distracted, not now.
She leaned into him, trying to place a kiss on his neck, but he backed away before she could.
"What are you trying to do, Gabriela? What kind of shit are you trying to pull?"
She flinched at Axel's raised voice but still spoke the next comment boldly, "She's worthless."
"I don't have time to deal with you."
Gaby scowled and strode out of the kitchen, "Pretty soon you'll have to."
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
Kaden watched as the unflappable Taylor stared at her like she was a mad woman.
Kaden had related everything to Taylor that she learned from Bree, but the hardest part Taylor was have trouble gripping was that her confidante had been Bree, not that Lucas had plotted to sell them to the highest, and furthest, bidder.
She had taken Taylor to the laundry room, mostly because it was loud in there. Taylor sat on a washing machine, as she considered what she had been informed. Kaden had told her all about Luke's set up to have them taken away, how he convinced Bree and Audrey to follow his orders, and how after it got too intense the girls wanted out but he wouldn't let them—Which all led up to the situation they were in now, with their old Packs still coming for them.
"Tay, I know we can trust her, I couldn't catch a whiff of a lie." Kaden added in a barely audible whisper as she shifted to lean against the wall opposing the washing machine.
"Hmm, okay. Well, like you said, we're just gonna have to get on the road again. This all started because we let ourselves get drawn into Pack business anyway." She whispered back, swinging her legs back and forth off the edge of the machine.
"Yeah, for their own good as well as ours, we have to go. We can't make them fight our war."
"Okay," Taylor replied, running a hand through her dark hair in resignation, "How will we do this?"
"Bree said that Lucas had left a car parked somewhere in an abandoned gas station. Let's take it. I'm sure there's a way to get the keys."
"Good. And we can sneak some essentials before we leave."
"Yeah, but we'll need a distraction so they don't see what we're doing." Kaden pointed out as she started for the laundry room door before anyone came looking for them.
They stepped outside to find every wolf busy with a purpose, and something snapped inside Kaden.
She was sure Taylor had felt the sudden jolt of anger through the bond because she flinched.
"Sorry," Kaden spoke in a low voice, "Being around these packs, and not actually belonging feels…strange. It's rubbing me the wrong way."
"Kaden, other people in general rub you the wrong way."
"…and your point would be?"
Taylor snickered as they both looked around the room at the bustling activity.
"Would you rather be like them, having to obey the Alpha's orders?"
"Guess not. Kinda bad this is all over just us two, huh?" Kaden asked.
"Oh they'll be rid of us soon enough. You have a game plan?"
"Just make sure we can share a room tonight, I'll take care of the rest."
And with that Kaden headed for the stairs, and into Axel's room with a purpose of her own.
Taylor sat motionless in a chair placed in front of the window out looking Axel's backyard.
The scene unfolded in her mind again, the gun shot echoing in her head.
What kind of cheaters used guns? That's what bothered her the most.
More and more of their pursuers were using silver loaded guns to stop them dead.
It made her wonder if there was more than just their "packs" after them. Maybe there were humans involved now. Nothing would surprise her at this point.
She mulled over Kaden's explanation somberly. It would chafe her ego running away, but it was the only option. Taylor wasn't foolish. Still, she had a horrible feeling Akira, Daren and…Mason would think she abandoned them; just gaining their trust until their backs were turned.
Taylor exhaled, her resolve set.She wouldn't cause anymore pain amongst these packs. She and Kaden could handle their pursuers as they had done before—they would drop off their radar.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Daren moved in front of her chair, blocking her view.
She managed a crooked smile, "Can't say I'm one-hundred percent, but I'll survive."
Daren patted her shoulder, "There's nothing you could have done to make anything turn out any different."
She turned a speculative eye on Daren, his spiky hair that had been dye black in streaks throughout his blonde hair had begun to fade on their long journey. His scar that ran diagonally across his face puckered slightly as he furrowed his eyebrows in concern.
"Daren, thank you," Taylor hadn't meant to sound quite so dramatic but this was her goodbye to him.
He had been like a diligent older brother to her.
His dark blue eyes studied her face, confusion crossing his features.He opened his mouth just as Akira bounded next to them, "Man, Mason's cranky."
"Did you mess with him again?" Taylor laughed but it was more of a relief at being saved from questioning.
"I'm anxious. He's hurt and we have to keep an eye on him," Akira grumbled, his straight black bangs falling momentarily in his brown eyes.
"Then why are you over here?" Taylor looked over her shoulder to see Mason talking idly with one of the other wolves that had shown up after the attack.
He seemed at ease and barely hurt, although she knew better than that.
"Because he wanted us to watch you," Akira scoffed as if that were an impossible task.
She felt the familiar spark of irritation rise inside her.Here he was, barely able to walk straight, in a rival's den and he was worried about a nonpack member?
"That's ridiculous. You know I'm not the one to worry about now."
"We know, but it was an order." Daren retorted drily, as if she was questioning the earth's roundness.
"…Well, he ordered you to protect me right?" Taylor chose her words carefully, trying to exploit the loophole, "Then, because you are setting me on edge by being around me in such an emotional state, I will start to think up diabolical plans to escape you two—and any other eyes watching. It would be dangerous, me being alone. So to protect me from myself, back off."
Each wolf looked at the other in uneasiness."But… he'll have our heads." Daren voiced their fears.
It was obvious they wanted to be by their Alpha's side. This wouldn't take much convincing.
"Blame it on me. Easy. Say I threatened to run away, hurt myself further by fighting you two…anything, I don't care. If he still has a problem, come and get me. I'll handle it."
It was Akira who nodded first, "Fine, but it's all on you."
"Oh, please, you owe me." Taylor gave them a teasing wink as they melded into the background, closer to their Alpha.
They are good guys.…Too trusting, but good guys.
Taylor rubbed her hands together and rose from her seat.Now that she got those two off her back she could get ready for tonight.
Navigating past the wolves in the room she had almost reached the hallway when her arm was grabbed.
Damn. So close.
Turning, she met Mason's eyes."Yes?"
"Where are you going? And alone too."
"Shower. Or did you want Akira and Daren to accompany me there too?" Taylor replied sarcastically while slipping out of his grasp.
His eyes narrowed, "They can wait outside the door, smartass."
This was low and she hoped never to stoop this low again, she brought out the waterworks."I just want to be alone. Maybe sleep with Kaden tonight."
Although she hadn't let the tears drop down her eyes, just merely perch on her bottom lashes; she could still see Mason's resolve and hostile attitude crumble.
She expected him to back down, what she hadn't expected was the hug he swept her in.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
The wolves prancing around the house never gave Kaden any trouble as she headed for Axel's room.
She held her breath as she opened the door, but the room was empty. She went over to his closet to look for something to carry stuff in. She came upon a red and black hiking backpack that was on a hook in the back of his closet. She grabbed it, and searched it for contents but came up empty.
Kaden proceeded to look through the room for anything that might be of use to them, but still being careful to take only what wouldn't be noticed and leaving everything else like it was. Still, even with her hands busy, it wasn't long before her thoughts soon came up on leaving Axel and Mason behind.
Even though they'd initially been captured by them, they had taken care of them— Daren, Connor, Akira, even Cal. All of them she'd only known for a short time but she had gotten small taste of what being in a Pack was like, and she couldn't lie to herself, she would miss it, but they couldn't cause more trouble for these Packs.
Kaden approached the dresser to find Axel's military dog tags.She picked them up and read Axel's information: Christopher Axel Armstrong, his serial number, Blood type: A positive and N/A for religious preference.
Her eyes watered as she looked down at them, and although she knew there was a good chance Axel might miss them, Kaden stuffed them into a small pocket on the side of the book bag.
She then proceeded to search the dresser where she found enough money to get them through the journey until they got back on their feet. She mouthed a sorry to Axel as she stuffed the money into one of the smaller front pockets, and continued her task.
Kaden left the room shortly after her pilfering and headed for the garage. Where Axel was and how he hadn't stopped her already Kaded didn't know; she just knew her luck usually wasn't this good, and she had to stash the book bag quickly before her luck decided to change.
Thankfully, the garage was empty and found some flashlights and tools they would most likely use later. After packing away all her newly found goods, she stashed the bag behind a large toolbox on a high shelf.
She made her way back into the house just as Axel exited the kitchen, an annoyed expression on his face as he looked after Gaby storming away.
His expression cleared as he spotted Kaden and headed towards her.She struggled to keep her heartbeat in check as he got closer.
"Hi," She replied, "Why does it smell so sickly sweet?"
"That's the smell of magic, love." He smiled as he extended his arm and tried to hand her something.
It was a pistol.
"A gun? You guys are getting ready to fight with GUNS?" She asked incredulously while eyeing the pistol.
"Look, I know it's kind of low but we can't take any chances. These guns are special."
Kaden laughed, "What are they magical?"
Axel looked back at her with a face that held no amusement.Her own smile fell, as she looked back down at the gun.
"Yes. The magic placed on these pistols makes the bullets disintegrate on impact, delivering the parasitic curse straight into the bloodstream that kills the red blood cells so you can't blot. It's gruesome, but effective."
She stared back silently.
"Please take it. If someone should break through our defenses, you need to have something on you as a last resort."
"What if something goes wrong?"
"Like what? Shooting yourself?" He replied half smiling.
She snatched the gun from his hands, and was startled by it's warmth. Kaden would probably never use the gun unless it was absolutely necessary, but deciding to run away left you feeling vulnerable after being under Pack protection.
"You better hope this gun doesn't end up in the wrong hands."
Axel grabbed her wrist, and started to push her up the stairs, "You need rest, we can go sleep in my room."
Kaden's fear spiked as she thought of his recently searched room, "No, we can't."She resisted his pull to go up the stairs.
Axel gave her a level look before picking her up over his shoulder and continued carrying her up.
"Mother fucker!" She yelled as she tried to get him to let her go. "Put me down"
"I'm saving you the trip." He replied.
"I'ma shoot you."
Weres looked up the stairs in amusement as she struggled for freedom.
"No you won't." He spoke while clutching the railing for support, "You'd fall with me." He continued working his way to the room but they approached his bedroom door and he reached for the doorknob, Mason called out Axel's name.
Axel turned around, brow furrowed,"Mason, you shouldn't be up and about. It could be very dangerous."
"Not as dangerous as giving Kaden a gun." He mused.
Kaden frowned, and doubled her efforts until Axel dropped her on her ass.
"Jerk." She snapped as she got up, placing the gun on the small of her back then unleashing a glare on Mason.
"Axel, I think it would be a good idea if Taylor and Kaden shared a room tonight." He suggested carefully.
Kaden's eyes quickly turned from angry slits into round, innocent orbs as she turned to Axel, "It's the least you could do." And in her mind, that wasn't a lie.
Axel considered it wearily, than agreed to it as long as they had guards.Mason nodded and returned to his own room, with his own guards.
Kaden shrugged as she was led to the first room on the left of the stairs.Before she reached the doorknob Axel took hold of her hand.
"Thank you for going out to dinner with me, it was nice." He placed a kiss on the back of her hand.
Kaden looked up into his green eyes, and almost broke into tears.She looked away and cleared her throat, "I did it for the steaks."
He smiled down at her and gave her a short kiss on the lips."Yeah, you keep believing that," He spoke as he backed away, heading for the stairs, "I'll send Taylor up with your guards." He waved a final goodnght.
"And junk food. Lots of it."
He smirked, "Sure thing, Hon'. G'night."
"Goodbye." She replied softly.
Axel turned a puzzled look her way, but continued down the stairs.
In that instant it hit her. The sadness engulfed her like a dark shadow.That would be the last time she would ever see Axel and his beautiful emerald eyes.
She entered her bedroom and closed the door before he could question her. She struggled to rein her emotions in as she tried to make sense of them to no avail.
This was going to be harder than anticipated.
Her body still tingled from his embrace.He had gone up the stairs to look for Axel and relay her wish.
With a frustrated growl after his disappearance, she whirled around and stalked to the kitchen muttering, "He had to be an Alpha too."
In the kitchen there were wolves mulling about, some seated on the counters and others leaning against cabinets. They all visibly straightened and preened for attention.
Taylor felt sick but decided she might as well take advantage.
They all murmured enthusiastic greetings back.
"You know where I could find some trash bags?"
One wolf with sandy colored hair obliged by jumping off the counter and rummaging through a lower drawer to produce a small box of Glad bags.
"Well, thank you." She touched his hand deliberately while grabbing the box, "Maybe you could help me…with a few more things?"
A hasty few minutes and five disappointed wolves later, she walked through the door that their, apparently new, guard held open for her.
Taylor nodded, because she didn't have any other way to thank him.
Her mouth held two spoons, her arms held a lot more.
Kaden watched soundlessly as she unloaded garbage bags, knives, various sealed foods, a small notebook, pen, map, duct tape and bandages.
"This is all I could grab without being too conspicuous." Taylor mouthed, while reaching in one opened garbage bag to reveal a jar of Skippy peanut butter.
Unscrewing the lid, she dipped one of the spoons in the jar to gather an impressive amount of Skippy and handed the loaded spoon to Kaden before mimicking the action for her own spoon. Shoving the utensil in her mouth she mumbled, "I don't know why girls always eat ice cream when depressed. Is that a stereotype? Either way, peanut butter works better."
Kaden absently licked her peanut butter-sicle.
Taylor flipped open to a blank page in her stolen notebook and wrote with her pen: What time are we leaving?
She pushed the book, with the pen on top, to Kaden.
Kaden read the sentence before sliding it back to her with a reply, 1:10 A.M.
The guards change, Audrey persuaded Connor to turn a blind eye.
Sweet. Taylor allowed herself a small smile.
Good thing they're family. Connor probably wouldn't have defied his Alpha for just anyone.
A vulnerable, injured, begging baby sister would do the trick.
Taylor swiped the pen enthusiastically, underlining: We are lucky.
Kaden nodded, setting down her empty spoon, "Want to try and get some sleep?"
Taylor looked at the clock that read eleven and shrugged, "Might as well try…it'll be hard with all that's happened today." She tossed the last bit in just in case their guard was listening more intently than necessary.
After Kaden packed everything else into her backpack, she clicked off the bedside light.
Both of them stared up at the ceiling, knowing full well they wouldn't get any rest any time soon.
***1:10 came sluggishly but the quiet whispers of Connor arriving, greeting the old guard reached each of their ears.
Not risking walking out the door, Kaden hopped out of bed and started the painstaking process of unscrewing the bolted window.
It wasn't a particularly noisy process, but one that would certainly tip off the guard standing right outside their room.
Taylor watched the door, waiting for Connor to change his mind and storm in to stop them but he never did.
The window wasn't that hard to unscrew from the inside, probably because it wasn't meant to be used to keep wolves in—but out.
Thankfully, they were in a regular room, not a holding room because that would have been a different story.
Setting aside the bars and screwdriver on the bed, Kaden eased open the window and popped out the screen. Taylor rearranged the screwdriver to weigh down a torn out piece of notebook paper with a heart drawn on it with their names signed at the bottom to reassure everyone they weren't kidnapped but left of their own free will.
With one last glance at the door, Taylor gathered up the bag before turning to the windowsill, lowering it to Kaden—who had already jumped out the window.
Taylor did her best cat impression and jumped down, hopefully silent enough.She could hear other wolves patrolling the area and knew they didn't have much time.
Nodding at Kaden, they took off, careful to stay in the shadows and downwind as much as possible from the guards.
Taylor didn't let her legs, and heart, slow down until the gas station parking lot was under their feet.
It was a miracle they weren't caught. But they wouldn't have long.
By grace of God, the old white landrover was unlocked—however, absent of keys.
"Hotwire it." Kaden climbed into the passenger seat, throwing the bag in the backseat.
"Hotwire it? You know how long it's been since I did that sucessfully?" Taylor asked incredulously, popping open the front compartment conceiling the necessary wires, "I have an equal chance of sounding the horn and starting the wipers simultaneously than starting the engine."
Wouldn't that be great? Honking the horn for all the wolves to hear?
Taylor shuddered at the thought of seeing Mason's hurt gaze after learning of their attempted escape.
"Move. I got it." Kaden slung herself over the armrest to pull at the wires.
"You sure? I've never seen you do this."
"Well, as it turns out, I've been to Juvie for this exact sort of thing." Kaden worked while she talked, stripping wires with her teeth.
"Juvie??" Taylor raised her eyebrows, "Out of all the memories you remember from that blanked head and its Juvenile hall?"
"Hey, I can't pick and choose," Kaden retorted as the engine came to life with a subdued purr, "But we should be glad it did."
Taylor nodded and gave a short laugh, "I suppose so…you delinquent."
"Like you can talk!" Kaden pushed up on Taylor knees to get back up and into her seat, "The only difference between you and I is that you never got caught."
Taylor thought back to her little flash of life before her Change, "Hick towns don't throw you into Juvie…and it helped that I knew the sheriff."
Kaden snorted. "Typical. Dirty connections at a young age."
Taylor hit her playfully with the map she had fished out of the backpack before proceeding to unfold it and hand it to her.
Pulling out of the lot and onto the quiet back road they sped away from Axel's house.
"Where to, Tay?" Kaden turned on her dome light to see the map in the dark.
"San Antonio, Texas."
Before Taylor had stumbled upon Kaden, she had originally heard that there was a neutral, unclaimed territory near the border where all kinds of magically beings gathered without much structure—a place she had planned to live out her numbered days.
"Texas?" Kaden repeated confused.
"No packs there." Taylor explained shortly, turning off onto the interstate.
"Not to my knowledge, no." But then, the wolf who told her could have been pulling her leg. But she chose to keep that part to herself, after all, they're options were limited.
It seemed a little shady, and dangerous but at least no one there knew who they were.
Maybe there wouldn't be Werewolves there. Taylor tried to convince her mind of the slim possibility.
Anything to make a little more at ease…
As an after thought to that, Taylor eased her grip on the steering wheel before she bent it and blew out a breath.
And onward into uncertainty.
He had no idea why he woke up so unexpectedly—and at such a God forsaken hour too.
Mason scrubbed at his right eye with the palm of his hand tiredly while staring at the offending clock telling him it was five in the morning.
Extracting his legs from the covers and lifting his exhausted body off the bed, he silently reprimanded it for being exhausted but not succumbing to the sleep it needed.
His side still burned but he ignored it in favor of stretching his arms out, making a satisfying pop.
He then reached blindly along the floor to find a shirt to put on. His fingers finally catching stray material; it was impressive how far his shirts seemed to roam from the spots he threw them from the night before.
Taylor wouldn't allow him to sleep shirtless while she was staying in the same bed.He allowed his face to break into a brief grin while he pulled the t-shirt on. He had tried to explain to her that she, too, was allowed to sleep shirtless—making them even.
She didn't go for that though.
So to make her aggravated anyway, he would change into his "night shirts" and take his sweet time doing so…if Taylor just happened to be in the room when he did this, it was purely coincidental.
It was a wonder, really, how he lived this long with her killing him in his sleep.
He let a frown overtake his face.
She hadn't slept with him tonight. In seeking comfort, she opted for Kaden.
His wolf quietly growled at it's rival—petty, but his human side had to agree; he too, had been hurt when Taylor hadn't come to him.
But before he could sink into a nice depression, he reminded himself that they had been together far longer, formed unbreakable bonds of trust…and he, well, he at least got her to stop tensing up when he approached.
"It's a start," he sighed out loud and turned the door knob as quietly as he could.
He walked the last short steps to the end of the hall where Kaden and Taylor resided. The guard, who he hadn't met, nodded curtly at him.
Mason inclined his head politely back, "Are they up yet?"
It was a stupid question being that it was 5 am, but he was getting addicted to her presence and need his fix.
The guard let the corners of his mouth turn up in a small smile, "I'll tell you the same thing I told Axel when he checked in with me about ten minutes ago, they haven't so much as let out a snore or stir. Sleeping like the dead, they are."
"Thanks." He hadn't meant to sound so disappointed.
Turning around and following the scent of coffee to the dining table he found Axel idly swirling a mug.
"Hey." Mason greeted him awkwardly.
Axel had bed-head, probably much like Mason himself.
Axel nodded, not even bothering to glance his way, "Coffee?"
Mason sat in the chair next to him, overlooking the backyard through the large sliding glass door.
"I'm alright. I'm actually hoping I can go back to sleep."
Axel gave a light chuckle and gave him a sideways glance, "That's what I told myself an hour ago. I gave up." He held up his green mug filled with coffee as proof.
Mason gave him a sympathetic grin before staring out into the yard as Axel had been doing, the red blood stains on the grass still visible even from their seats inside.
"I wanna kill them." Axel sounded suddenly.
Mason lifted his brows in surprised but didn't take his eyes off the blood. After a moment he tilted his head thoughtfully, "Their 'packs'? Me too".
"Think we could get away with it?" Axel took a long sip of his coffee.
"Probably not. Would it be worth it? Probably yes."
Axel and Mason both gave into an exhausted laugh—and it was at that moment he realized he could actually be friends with this guy, this rival Alpha.
It floored him so much, he cut his laugh short.Clearing his throat he switched to a more serious, detached tone, "What are we going to do?"
Axel thumped his mug down on the table and sighed deeply, "About how to deal with two separate packs? Or how to get them to join our packs? OR accept us as mates?"
Mason gave him his first real grin, "We are in the same boat, aren't we? Hate to burst your bubble but you forgot about who they'll stay with because they won't stay apart."
Axel thumped his head unto the table next to his mug and Mason felt like echoing the action.
"God, do you remember when life was simple and we hated each other? I mean, I'm even starting to tolerate you!" he grumbled into the wood grain.
Mason laughed, amused at how the wolf seemed to just spout what he was thinking—the opposite of himself, who thought and then spoke.
"Maybe we should just be direct with them?" Mason suggested, "Do it quick, like a Band-Aid."
"Yeah, maybe…" Axel raised his head off the table with one arm to regard him, "But I don't care what anyone says, that is NOT the least painful way to do it."
They each grinned at each other like idiots, after that, delighting in the fact that they weren't alone in their suffering. And whether they liked it or not, they were tied by association now; they might as well give in to their camaraderie…gradually.
Mason eventually got up to get coffee as Axel had predicted he would, and they sat and talked about pack dynamics and other stresses an Alpha inherited.They were both mildly pleased and relaxed talking to one another—until about 8:02am.
"Tennesse Riverrrr, take me home—to the plaaaace that I belooong~!"
"I swear I'm going to throw you out of the car right after I rip out the radio." Kaden threatened.
Taylor laughed and twisted the volume knob down, "It's not my fault we don't have any other radio signals coming in."
"Then turn it off!" Kaden grumbled, closing her eyes and reclining her chair back.
"Noo! Then there would be silence…that I would have to fill…with more songs."
She waited for some sort of sarcastic or threatening reply, but it appeared she'd dropped off.
They both hadn't got much sleep last night and Taylor was starting to feel it herself.
Looking down at the gas gauge; the orange needle was reaching over, obnoxiously trying to reach the E to declare the tank was empty.
With a dismissive snort, she drug her eyes up to look at the green exit signs flying by her, Exit 128 promised fuel and food. Signaling and turning off the turnpike and into the Conoco gas station, she parked, hopefully on the right side as the gas tank, next to a pump.
Kaden stirred but didn't wake as Taylor shut off the car and opened the door, "Be right back." She whispered to her out of habit.
Rounding the vehicle, she opened the gas cap and inserted the fuel nozzle and selected standard.
Letting the meter run until the car was complete full, Taylor proceeded to walk into the gas station with stray cash in hand.
The cashier, an older man, didn't even look her way as she passed by, heading for the snacks and drinks. She was busy contemplating what chip flavor to grab when the smell hit her too late.
Jerking hard to her left and stifling her growl, she saw him.
A behemoth man, he had to be 6'2 and at least 250 pounds of lean muscle, and right next to her.
His chocolate brown eyes found hers under a mass of messy, wavy brown bangs.
His big hand slowly began to reach over to her and Taylor resisted the urgue to close her eyes and pray or shift and hightail it.
In both scenarios, it wasn't the smartest move.
This huge man looked like he could have caught her in just a few quick strides if she ran.
Glancing out of the corner of her eye, she looked at the old man—he wouldn't try anything here would he? Would he drag her outside, away from human prying eyes?
She should've woken Kaden and gone in together.
She just hadn't had the heart to wake her up. Sleep was so rare between them these days…Maybe it wouldn't have done any good anyways. They just both would've died then—
"That's no good." He grumbled, his voice a deep bass.
"…Huh?" She didn't bother hide the confusion in her voice toward her would-be executioner.
He continued to reach over and pluck the chips from her arms, although they were probably crushed to crumbs now.
"This cheese kind is horrible." He put it back on the shelf and turned to her with a smile, "I'm Brendon, by the way."
He was introducing himself?
"And you are?" he prompted, ignoring her open-mouthed confusion.
"Surprised." Taylor offered, eliciting a low rumble of laughter from him.
He used his arm to usher her closer and he bent his hulking form down to whisper, "I like you, wolf, you're not as uppity as the others…although I thought my sudden presence might start a brawl right here in the store." He let her go with an easy smile.
Taylor straightened awkwardly, "Yeah, I'm a bit on edge…"
She leaned back to fully study the man in front of her and sniffed. She couldn't place his scent, but she knew he was a Were-animal of some kind. It was rare to run into another species of Were, there weren't many that ventured out into the human world. Wolves were a bit more social with humans. Tolerant.
"Bear." He offered helpfully.
Holy—!She couldn't stop her eyebrows from shooting up into her hairline.
Taylor wasn't sure WereBears even existed until now, and if they had, she never thought she'd meet one.
Being quite polite and continuing to ignore her gawking, he offered her one large hand.
She took it numbly, still cautious but curious, and shook it twice.
"My name's…Taylor," She threw caution to the wind.Hell, if anyone came looking for them this close to their destination, they were toast anyway.
"Taylor," He repeated and he shook her hand, "It's nice to meet you. You heading to San Ann too?"
Taylor looked up into the bear's eyes, hesitant.
He took the hint immediately, "Listen, I live at the sanctum there. If you want someone to follow, I'm heading straight home."
She reached over to grab another bag of chips—the non-cheese kind, while she considered.
"If you don't mind me asking, what were you doing out here anyways? This is still a good stone's throw from San Antonio."
With a low whistle, he clapped her back good naturedly, "Wow, you are paranoid. You in any kin—"
"Don't touch her!" Kaden's growl was unmistakable, ringing clearly throughout the store. It's venomous tone unmistakable in its promise for bloodshed.
The poor old store keeper jumped for behind the counter, dropping his magazine he had been lazily skimming.
Brendon, although he probably could have knocked Taylor out with one quick cuff of his wrist and gone on to rip Kaden to shreds, he backed up slowly from Taylor with his palms outraised in peace.
Taylor didn't know if they were all like this, but she couldn't help but think--I like bears.
Taylor outstretched her hand to keep Kaden back as she stalked down the snack aisle, "Woah, woah, Kaden, meet our guide to the promise land—Brendon."
Kaden slowed, the danger that was so clear in her mind moments before disappearing, her body sliding from hostile to nonchalant.
"Hello," Brendon tentively stepped forward to offer his hand again.
Kaden ignored his huge appendage and stared, no doubt trying to catalogue his scent.
"He's a bear!" Taylor cheerfully supplied, making Brendon blink in surprise before settling into a low chuckle.
It was then Kaden smiled widely, grasping his hand between two of hers, shaking purposely,"That's pretty cool. It's nice to meet you, Brendon Bear."
"Ma'am? Ma'am??" Taylor and Kaden turned around to see the store keeper standing nervously, waiting for a fight to start, he kept his phone open and ready.
"We're fine, fine." Kaden waved his fears away, "Misunderstanding."
The old man eyed Brendon's large frame once before flicking back to the pair of them, "…if you're sure?"
Taylor nodded and resumed her snack gathering, "Like I was asking, why are you here?"
Brendon grabbed his own pack of honey roasted peanuts—how appropriate, and continued, "I'm a truck driver, I haul all over these neighboring states. You just caught me coming back from hauling a load of lumber to Wichita Falls."
"So you have a big rig and everything?" Kaden had a bag of FunYuns in her arms.
Brendon tipped his head, "Right outside."
"Double cool." Kaden declared, going to the next aisle in search of drinks.
"Okay," Taylor accepted his answer easily, "We'll follow you…will we be allowed to…stay at the Sanctum?"
"As long as you don't start trouble, everyone's welcome at the Sanctum. And if you're impressed with me, wait and see what else lives there."
Taylor mulled that over, her imagination running away from her with thoughts of all kinds of odd Weres and witchery.
"Mind if I ask one thing?"
Taylor tilted her head, "Shoot."
"…You're running away from the bad guys right?"
Taylor gave the curious bear a tight-lipped smile, "Yes, we're running from the bad guys."
He nodded his massive head like that was all the conformation he needed, "Well then, you'll especially fit in with us. We've all been chased at one point or another," he hesitated at the next part before meeting her eyes, "We defend our own."
The last sentence was said with such a low, malevolent growl that it gave Taylor the chills."Thank you…"
Paying for the snacks and drinks they each climbed in their respective vehicles.
Brendon, perched atop his massive silver and white cabin seats of his semi, rolled down his window to call down to them, "Although my trucks empty, I still won't be cruising too fast. Is that a problem? If not I can just give you the address and you can zip ahead of me."
Part of Taylor just wanted to get the address and put further distance between their enemies…and Mason and Axel—who, no doubt, knew they were gone by now.
But she resisted. They needed an introduction, it was better than strolling in unaccompanied. And while it was unwise, she already trusted the bear. He seemed genuine in his motives. There was no way he was wormed into wolf politics that concerned them.
"That's okay." She decided out loud, "We'll just settle in behind you, like your own personal convoy."
He grinned and gave a salute before rolling up his window and starting his huge engine in a large thundering roar.
l Axel's POV l
The sound of banging and shouting put the Alphas into action.
They both sprinted towards the living room, entering in the middle of a brawl.Kendrix and another one of his Pack mates, Rush, were wrestling a foreign Wolf, trying to subdue him.
Axel, feeling the pull of the Pack, immediately fell into his Alpha role, "What's the story?"
Aaron came in through the front door, panting with a swollen lip, "We caught them sniffing around the place. They ran, we pursued."
Axel then walked over to where the foreign Wolf was snarling at Kendrix, pulled back his foot and kicked him in the ribs.
A loud crack, closely followed by a cry of pain, silenced the room.
"FUCK!" howled the Wolf.
"Tie him." Ordered Axel.
Rush complied, grabbing the wolf and putting him into a sitting position as Kendrix went to get restaints.
Axel knelt down and took the Wolf's hair like a reign, pulling his head back and making him look at Axel, "State your business."
"I ain't done nothin' wrong!"
Axel stood up again, towering over the wolf, and marking his dominant status, "Then why did you run?"
The Wolf looked away before answering,"You have something that belongs to us."
That's when Mason interrupted, his own Alpha instincts taking over, "And that would be?"
The Wolf hesitated, "Two girls, we made an exchange for them."
Axel was smiling on the inside at the thought of Kaden and Taylor being called 'girls'.
"What are two packs doin' in one den anyways, what's up with that?"
He asked, bewilderly looking at Axel and then at Mason,"That ain't nothing natural."
Axel scoffed, "That's none of your concern. And we haven't any "girls" here so Kendrix, go ahead and lock him up-"
The wolf laughed, "You can't hide 'em for long. I can smell their sweet unclaimed scents. As soon as we get a hold of 'em, we gonna have our fun."
Mason erupted in a low growl and Axel glared at the Wolf.
Axel had to agree, the thought of his woman in the hands of this wolf made him want to kill him...But Axel reigned his temper in and walked back to the kitchen, searching for his unfinished coffee.
Cries from their recent prisoner were echoing down the hall as Mason walked in. "Should we wake the girls?" Mason picked up his own mug.
Axel shook his head as he found his cup and put it to his lips.
"Well then, what are we going to do?" He asked, seeming frustrated at having to even ask another person's agenda.
Axel downed his coffee before responding.
"Well, I'm gonna go get dressed up."
Mason raised an eyebrow.
"Gotta look nice for the interrogation." He said smiling as he exited the kitchen.
When Axel was almost done with shaving, he heard more hostile noise coming from downstairs.
Thinking that Mason had caved and was now going to kill their only lead, he tried to hurry up and finish.
As he absentmindly applied some aftershave, he searched the counter for his dog tags but they were nowhere to be found.
A little panic struck him as he tried to remember where he'd last placed them.
He left the bathroom, and entered his room. Axel walked to his dresser, but all it had on top of it was his hygiene products.He continued on to check the drawers, messing them up in his panic to find them.
He noticed a few odd things about his drawers, but his mind was too distracted to register anything at that moment and before he could draw any proper conclusions-- a crash came from downstairs.
Hesitantly, he jogged down the stairs to seek out the commotion, but his thoughts stuck on the tags' whereabouts.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
Kaden's fingers absently brushed the dogtags around her neck.
"Where are we right now?" She asked as she shifted her chair into a sitting position to look over at Taylor as she settled the car behind the Bear's huge truck.
"We're on the outskirts of Killeen, Texas. It's around 150 miles from San Antonio. "
Kaden grunted a response and opened her bag of Funyuns, "So a Bear? Hmm. I didn't really think they existed, though I'm not at all surprised."
"Yeah, the dude's huge. And it's all muscle."
"Yeah, no kidding. Why didn't you wake me up before going in? You gave me a damn heart attack."
"I could say the same thing about that cashier back there." Taylor replied with a chuckle, "Poor guy."
"He'll live."Kaden replied before crunching down on a helpless Funyun.
"Wonder what other types of Weres there are. By the looks of it, Wolves are the most…abundant, to say the least."
"Well, if there are such things as Were-Squirrels or something, they probably got us beat. Yumm, squirrel."
Taylor snorted, "Yeah unlikely. I was thinking maybe Were-Lions. Or Were-Cheetahs."
Kaden shrugged, "No idea, we'll see I suppose. Wonder if we'll blend in."
"Well, our best bet is to behave." Taylor warned with a sideways glance.
Kaden gave Taylor a level look, though her brown eyes were full of amusement.
"Hey, I behave. Just not in a way everyone approves off."
"Yeah, yeah." She replied with an easy smile and a shake of her head.
Kaden, now done with her snack, threw the bag into the car's back seat.
"What do you think Axel and Mace are doing?"
Taken back by the change of subject, Taylor thought for a moment before responding, "Probably searching. Trying to follow our scent, until the trail leads them to an abandoned gas station."
"I just hope they're okay. "
Taylor nodded, "Yeah."
Kaden hesitated before building courage and going for it, "While I slept, little pieces of memory returned to me. That or I had very lucid dreams."
"Oh?" Taylor waited for a response, but after Kaden didn't elaborate she egged her on."These memories and or dreams are…?"
"Ehhh, well, it's about my past."
"Yeah, that tells me a lot."
"I'm not really sure how much I can trust them."
"Then tell me what you 'dreamt.' "
"In most of them I was drugged for the most part, but I think I dreamt about my family. And they really liked Ryan, the fucker who turned me. I think they set me up with him. It's so blurry though." Kaden leaned her head back, a headache well on its way.
"What do you mean? You think your family did this on purpose?"
Kaden heaved a heavy sigh, "From the little clips of memory I have in the time of my turning, I think they got paid for it. I can't be sure, the things being said came in and out of focus. The Change fever can distort things...right? Either way, I'm not seeking them out."
"Yeah." Taylor supplied, "You might have heard wrong. But it's better to leave your family as they are, at least for now."
"I hope so." She replied reaching for the radio dial, drowning the car with music.
= Mason's POV =
He wasn't aware of it at first, but an outraged snarl escaped his mouth mid-sentence, signaling Akira to his side with panicked confusion.
He ignored Akira to snatch up the lone note on Taylor and Kaden's bed, nearly tearing it to bits with what he read.
For one terrifying minute, he thought they had been kidnapped-- In fact, that was the reason he was in their room; even though he knew neither of them were morning people, he wanted to make sure there were no lingering wolves trying to get to them through their window.
Mason couldn't risk having them being taken right under their noses and if that meant having cranky females for the day, so be it.
He wasn't prepared, however, for an empty room.
The guard standing on his left looked just as shocked himself.
"T-they couldn't have escaped during my watch," he chattered on nervously, "I would've heard...surely, I mean--"
Mason heard an uproar start downstairs, which only lasted minutes before Axel must have joined the fray and reduced the yelling and growling to muted tones....Of course, Mason was about to change that.
Still growling, he picked up the screwdriver that was resting on top of the note in one hand and the actual note in the other, and headed downstairs.
The hostility in his voice was probably misdirected but he didn't care.
Grabbing the other Alpha by the shoulder and whipping him around to face Mason had both of them growling.
Other wolves from Axel's pack bared their teeth but he hardly spared them a glance.
"What the hell do you--"
Mason shoved the note into Axel's chest, not bothering to note his reaction in favor of pacing.
Axel gave a much more savage snarl than he produced seconds ago, "Don't tell me--!"
"They went out the fucking window!!" Mason pitched the offending screwdriver at the wall, which embedded itself into the plaster a few inches.
Axel, himself, didn't notice as he balled up the note and threw the ball at the same wall with about just as much force...although it hardly produced the same effect.
After a lengthy curse, he gathered himself,"...And how," Axel turned to survey his wolves, "Did they have a screwdriver from MY toolbox? How would they have found that?"
And just like that, the wolves that had been brawling amongst themselves, each trying to claim credit for yet another foreign wolf found on the property, were quieted.
Mason turned to watch him drill his wolves, the guilty ones squirming and quivering under Axel's gaze.
"More importantly," Mason spoke up now, "I'm more interested in knowing the guard line-up and how they managed to turn a deaf ear to the heavy-duty iron bars being removed."He gave a toothy smile he didn't feel, a few wolves took a step back. It made him feel marginally better...for the moment.
"Boss, we have another one!" Another one of Axel's wolves burst through the door carrying an unconscious stray in wolf form.
The poor bastard had just stumbled into the fire and didn't even know it.
He sauntered over to Axel awaiting further direction and praise.
"Brady, we have another situation..." Axel motioned for another wolf to take his prize down to a cell, "Care to tell us how a guard could miss hearing metal bars being removed from a window in the middle of the night?"
Oh, even better.This wolf had been on guard duty it seemed.
Mason watched the color drain from Brady's face, not following his feeble protests.
"It doesn't matter." he spit out the words, suddenly very tired, "It doesn't matter which of them slipped up. All I care about now is finding them."
While Mason had gotten quite fond of Kaden as well, he could honestly say that her disappearance wasn't the one that had him itching for blood.
"Right, right....for now." Axel gave a threatening glare to the few wolves who hadn't escaped the room yet.
"I'll search the perimeter with my wolves, you question the other prisoners and your wolves for leads of any kind." Mason tossed out over his shoulder, already heading for the back door.
Axel probably had wanted to argue, but he had little room to-- It was his wolves and his territory that had been invaded.
For once protocol didn't have Mason under it's thumb.
Akira and Daren fell into step wordlessly behind him.
Opening the door, his feet barely hit grass before he was stripping to shift.
The wolf in him responded easily, quick to come to the surface and bathe in his rage.
Changing always hurt, but after a certain age you just didn't feel that pain anymore. Your mind went elsewhere as your body snapped and contorted to its new proper shape.
But being too upset to relax and let his mind wander, he felt every single bone and joint change in an explosion of pain.
Opening his gold eyes, Mason sat back on his furry haunches and waited for Akira to finish his change.
Daren remained human and Mason approved of his decision, speech and a set of hands could come in handy too.
Akira gave a short sneeze, signaling he was ready.
Mason eyed Akira's dark black coat, nose and eyes. If it wasn't for his single white stripe running down the length of his body, he would have been the perfect wolf to stealth around at night--which was opposite Mason, being that he was a shocking deep crimson that did little to ever help him in a hunt.
It had actually caused him quite a bit of hell, it wasn't common to have a coat as vivid as his and hunts or missions could always be compromised with him.
But he was sure, it was also the reason he ended up as an Alpha.
Getting picked on and left out of hunts wore on him until he simply...burst.
He had been determined to prove he didn't need the element of surprise to catch any prey.
His coat became synonymous with blood as he reinforced the fact that he wouldn't tolerate any more mocking.
Mason had made his coat a prize, one he was quite proud of.
He gave his coat a shake and produced a bone chilling howl that Akira, and several other wolves patrolling nearby, couldn't resist chiming in.
It did little to ease the ache in his gut, but he pushed aside his unease and put his nose to the air and began the fruitless search for their scents.
Taylor was like a kid in a candy store--or maybe a kid looking through the pet store window at the puppies in awe, only these weren't harmless puppies she was oogling with a fascination that completely abandoned any attempt at politeness.
"You're fogging up the window." Kaden's amused voice floated through her subconscious, breaking the spell, "You want me to roll it down so you can stick your head out?"
Taylor glared at the window, but didn't turn away from object of her attention, "If you weren't driving right now, you'd be worse than me."
Kaden gave an offended gasp but made no move to deny the statement as she drove the Landrover toward the fancy black gates of what looked like a large, hoity-toity gated community.
Kaden broke the silence first as she watched Brendon pull his semi over to the right of the enormous blacktop driveway to allow them to pull their vehicle up to the guard house on the left side, "Sooo, do you think Brendon-Bear's been driving a little too long and pulled up in the wrong place?"
The place did look out of place and very up scale for what was suppose to be housed on the other side of those fences.
"I would say yes..." Taylor motioned for Kaden to look out the driver side window, "But how would you explain them?"
She heard Kaden suck in a deep breath of surprise at the two guards approaching her window.
They barely looked like they could breathe in the tight navy button-ups that served as their guard uniforms.
"Jesus! I'm not rolling down my window!" Kaden cried, struggling to undo her seat belt to lean further away from what could finally be their impending doom.
"I...don't think glass is going to slow them down much..." Taylor watched as the pair reached the car, each bending down to peer inside.
She studied each man meticulously, if she had been in wolf form she'd have had her ears back nervously.
The one closest to the window had to be at least 6'5, give or take a few feet, with piercing dark grey eyes and light blonde hair maintained at a short buzz.
The other man wasn't nearly as tall, Taylor guessed he was in the six foot range too, but he wasn't about to be out done. He had to have weighed in at 280lbs--maybe even pushing at the 300lb mark and none of it was fat.
Yet being as big and bulky as each man was, they didn't lumber or falter over their giant feet. They stalked.
The shorter man had a smooth, predatory gait as he navigated around his partner and rapt at the glass with the backs of his knuckles.
He waited expectantly, his hazel eyes almost glowing in the low light of the sun, giving away his human facade--as if his size hadn't already. The man had a rustic orange hue to his hair, which was slicked back loosely, giving a few lazy strands the chance to rest at the edges of his sharp jaw.
"Whaduido?" Kaden's voice came out in a rush.
"Roll down the window...a crack." Taylor added in lamely.
As Kaden rolled down the old window manually, she could see Brendon start to approach them from the other side of the driveway.
Oh, hurry up Brendon!
It wasn't that Kaden or Taylor thought these guys would kill them on the spot, it was just unnerving.
Their very ingrained lupine instincts sent them into overdrive as if to say, 'Don't you see those behemoths?! You haven't a prayer! Run idiots!'
"And you are?" Orange-slick asked in an almost condescending manner.
Kaden bared her teeth in a hostile manner but Taylor cut her off before she could voice any outrage, "Rude. Don't you know its customary to offer your name first?"
He seemed to hiss in warning, making Taylor falter in surprise.
Before he could retort, Brendon was there grabbing the man's shoulder and pulling him back.
"Now, Sean, this isn't how you treat guests is it?" Brendon towered over the man but it didn't comfort Taylor, if she had to bet on who would win in such a fight, it could be anybody's game--until the tall blonde man stepped next to Brendon, clearly warning the orange man to make a move.
He retreated, smart.
"Now then," the blonde turned to them, discovering Kaden had rolled the window down all the way, he gave a smile before continuing, "I'm Eli."
"And he's a polar bear!" Brendon chirped from behind him, still warningly close to Sean.
"Awesome!" Kaden pumped her fist up as Taylor laughed at Brendon's attempt at mirroring her earlier enthusiastic bear delivery news.
"...It is?" Eli tilted his head, looking a little thrown off balance.
"Yes, my goodness," Kaden sounded exasperated, "You know, you bears really waste your Bear-dom."
Taylor tried to recover from her own laughter to say,"It's true! If I were a bear, I would always introduce myself like this: Hi! I'm Taylor the Polar Bear, a way more awesome WereBreed than you."
Brendon laughed harder behind Eli, still having not recovered from "Bear-dom".
Eli grinned at them now, "I like you two wolves--"
"We're not as uppity as the others wolves, yeah so we heard." Kaden shot a grin at Brendon, which he returned sheepishly.
Eli gave them an amused once over, "Then maybe you can teach the abnoxious pack here a thing or too."
Taylor's smile vanished in an instant, "A...pack?"
"No, no, Eli doesn't understand wolves very well. There are no pack dynamics here, or pride, clan, herd--nothing. There's too many of each species here to have groups and territories to control."
Taylor let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding.
"Well, Eli, thanks for giving us a heart attack," Kaden grabbed her heart dramatically, "But don't worry, we'll get you up to speed on wolves--Oh. I'm Kaden by the way."
"Ah, Taylor." She supplied, still feeling the lingering affects of adrenaline through her system.
"I look foward to it," Eli handed them a clipboard through their window, and then a large red key, "Just fill these out and bring them to the Lavender house at the end of the first block, you can't miss it, they have a dropbox right out front, just drop these in and they'll send you your permanent housing assignments after the paper work's been processed. The temp houses are towards the back of the complex, all the houses are numbered just follow the numbers until it matches your key."
"Thanks. See you guys around?" Taylor skimmed over the form questions, no longer looking at the bears.
"Oh, you bet."
Taylor whipped her head up to see Sean grinning at her maliciously, she wrinkled her nose at him in discust.
Brendon bumped the man's shoulder, but still outwardly smiled at them and waved slightly.
"Welcome to Wandering Evergreens, Reserved Estates...W.E.R.E.s for short." Eli winked, before retreating into the beige guard shack and opening the gates for them.
Literally bouncing with excitement as they entered the gates, Taylor put her clipboard down to take in the sights and smells--although her nose did her little good because she had no idea how to identify the other breeds she was taking in. Were scents didn't exactly follow normal animal scents. So even if she had known what a polar bear smelt like, it wouldn't have helped her identify Eli.
She frowned, but took deep gulps of air anyway.
Taylor realized they had stopped already, the tour was over, "Hm?"
She studied the purple house they parked in front of, Eli was right--they wouldn't have missed this thing.
With overly embellished white trimming and flower, cookie-cutterish shutters, the house looked like it was coated in frilly lace.
Not to mention the pastel purple paint coating the house panels that seemed to reflect any light it could to make it's color seem even brighter.
Tulips of varying bright colors lined the walkway leading to the front door.
Taylor eyed the light yellow gingham mailbox with a ribbon trailing down its pole, a matching mint green checkered patterned dropbox sat next to it.
"You want the bad news or the worse news?" Kaden asked dryly, not taking her eyes off the house.
"I'm trying to decide what's worse."
"Now I'm worried, spill." Taylor turned to look at her.
"...Well, most likely, in that ugly house are writing utensils of some kind," Kaden watched Taylor expectantly but there was no reaction so she continued, "We have no pen and we have to turn these in completed--"
"I am not going in there to get a pen!" Taylor connected the dots.
"I don't want to either!" Kaden made a face.
"....I'll rock, paper, scissor for it." Taylor offered finally.
"So, instead of going in there together and bearing the evil that surely lurks inside, you want to have just one of us venture in alone while the other is spared?"
"Okay, just so we're clear."
"Rock, paper, scissors, shoot--!" They chanted in unison.
.::. Kaden's POV.::.
Kaden stalked towards the door nervously, she turned, giving Taylor a look of uncertainty and disdain, but Taylor just smiled and waved her on.
Kaden scowled as she approached the house, it really was too much, but she sucked in a breath and turned the handle.
If she'd thought the outside was bad, the inside was horrendous.Everything was purple and pink.
Chairs, tables, walls, even the staplers.
"Oh God." A wave of terror washed over Kaden as she tried to go back outside— and she'd almost made it, but a hand wrapped around her wrist. Had it been any other situation, she would have ripped the person's arm out of their socket; thankfully she reigned in the impulse.
"Well, hi there! My name's Mindy, how can I assist you on this wonderful day?!"
Kaden slowly turned around and faced the girl. She was short, and cute. With Strawberry blonde hair adorned by a purple bow, round hazel eyes, blushing cheeks and round pouty lips. She looked like a kid playing dress up in her mother's business suit.
"I just need to borrow a few pens…but don't worry, my blood will do," Kaden replied as she tried to exit once more.
"Nonsense!" Mindy exclaimed cheerily while she sat Kaden in an overstuffed armchair, the action made Axel's dog tags tinkle against her chest, "I'll get you a pen, and you can fill out the paper work right here."
"No, really, my blood's fine." She responded as she stood back up.
"Come now!" Mindy berated as she reached for Kaden's arm again, but this time she jerked out of reach.
"Don't touch me."
"What's wrong? Did I upset you? I'm sorry. Can I get you some refreshments, and some cookies?" Mindy apologized while simultaneously shooting questions at her like rapid-fire, Kaden felt a twinge of guilt, but before she could act on it, another girl stepped in from the back door.
"Mindy," The newcomer growled, "Let the Wolf be, you know how they are."
Kaden, who had started heading for the door, stiffened.
"Because they're one of the top predators in the food chain, they think they're better than us. She didn't even offer her name."
Kaden let out the breath she was holding. Really, less than five minutes here and already, she had made an enemy.
Oh, Taylor was gonna get mad when she found out Kaden had stoked an already raging fire.
"Funny, neither did you." Kaden turned around to face her.
She was considerably taller than Mindy, with short blonde hair and deep black eyes.
The girl half smiled, "You have no business here, She-Wolf."
Mindy seemed to shrink at the animosity developing and distracted herself by walking over to the gaudy white and gold gilded desk and extracted a few pens, handing them to Kaden.
Kaden stored the pens, but still didn't miss a beat in the argument, "And who's gonna make me leave?"
"Anna, please leave her alone. I shouldn't have been so persistent…"
The woman, Anna, turned her glare on Mindy, "You have no say. All you do is prance around like the world has rainbows shooting out of it's ass. You're just a baby Fox— Hell, you're a disgrace to your race. You know nothing of how things work outside the reservation!"
Mindy's face was blank as she backed away, heading for the back door from where Anna had originally emerged from, but before she left she gave one last glance at Anna, "Maybe you're just a bitter old Hyena, and you're mad because you've always had to be a scavenger. I pity you."
Kaden laughed, and when she noticed Anna glaring at her, and shrugged, "I pity 'da fool."
Anna bared her teeth at Kaden as she exited the house.
Kaden could only smirk at what she knew would be trouble in the future.
l Axel's POV l
Axel paced in the prisoner holding area.
A few men were chained against the wall, shaking in fear.
He kicked a chair out of the way, "That's not a motherfuckin' answer!"
His pacing stopped as he looked up, growling at the ceiling for patience, "Did you, or did you not have anything to do with their escape?"
The wolf chained to the far right looked up at Axel, not quite meeting his eyes, "No."
At first the prisoners had evaded answering his questions, but anger, confusion, and frustration at Kaden's departure had made Axel delve into his military training.
Data gathering could be a very cruel thing.
Axel sat on a nearby chair, one that he had yet to fling or kick, exhausted. He didn't know what he was going to do, he had no leads, no idea where his Kaden was, and it was driving him nuts.
Every time he got like this, he usually reached up to feel the dog tags that always adorned his chest, but they weren't there— not today, and that bothered him. He was very paranoid with his tags, took them everywhere, but he'd somehow misplaced them.
That's when an idea sparked his mind.
He ran out, going up the stairs and into his room.He searched frantically, but he knew he'd never find them.This was a good sign.
"MASON!" he yelled; running back down the stairs and out the door, "Get your ass back here."
A few minutes later, Mason's fiery red hair could be seen in the distance, running full speed towards Axel, his wolves were restless but they stood their ground behind their Alpha.
Axel paced impatiently as Mason went through his change, a rather painful one it seemed.
Mason stood up, his brow covered in sweat."What?" He panted out in a rush of air.
Axel shooed all the other wolves away to get privacy.When he was sure all the other wolves couldn't hear anything, he continued.
"I think they took my dog tags, more specifically Kaden."
Mason looked up at Axel skeptically, "Uh-huh. And that will help us how?"
Axel laughed, "I was in the military section A6-Shade. It holds the Hounds, Scouts, and other smaller branches. It's a part of the military few know of, and it's composed solely by Weres. The Scouts do recon, Hounds track and hunt, and Elites who excel at both do missions in Quartets. All units get special tracking dog tags that relay coordinates to Control and to each unit member. My tags, even after being off-duty for so long, are still traceable. They just need to be reactivated and I know who to call—That is, if I'm correct and Kaden took them, I'll be able to track her and Taylor."
Mason, who until now had been scowling, smirked.
"Let's get us some rogues." He said with conviction while he gave Axel a pat on the back.
Axel let out a breath, relief finally settling in his heavy heart, "Bet they won't see it coming."
He hoped the girls were prepared, cause they were gonna come for them, and he himself refused to come back empty handed.
~ Taylor's POV~
Taylor sent up a final prayer of thanks to the Rock, Paper, Scissor Gods while she eyed the luminous pink monstrosity one last time before turning her attention back out at the street, looking at the bright color for too long was starting to give her a headache.
Taylor seriously doubted such a home housed an ingenious trap filled with deadly Were-assassins with itchy claws, waiting for one sarcastic utterance.
It was more likely the—
Taylor jerked her head in the direction of the driver side window. It sounded like someone walking and they had turned up some loose gravel on the road. She scanned both sides of the car, taking her feet down from the dash.
But once again, everything seemed…peaceful, mundane even—if Taylor hadn't scented the fur and wild aromas around the place, she would have thought it to be a real complex for humans.
…Surely they weren't above the car somehow? No, no, they couldn't be.
As far as Taylor knew they didn't have WereBirds, their human mass was just too heavy to transform into delicate bird bones, tendons and such.
She thought for a minute before deciding it was safer to check, it's wasn't like she knew everything in the wide Were World.
Leaning out the window, she cranked her neck up to look at the clear sky. The most threatening thing up there being the sun, which she looked directly into, blinding her momentarily,
"Aw, shit." She rubbed her eyes against her folded arm resting on the car window frame, trying to clear the white spots dancing behind her lids.
"Why'd you do that?" A high voice sounded very close to her right.
Startled, Taylor whipped her head up…right into the top of the window frame.
"Double shit!" She grabbed the back of her head with one hand while letting her eyes adjust and take in the small girl in front of her window.
The girl was small, too small to be threatening to Taylor.
In fact, at that painful moment, she wanted to kick her ass into next Tuesday— tempting, knowing she could probably manage it with only one hand.
"My name's Cleo." The small Were extended her hand, barely reaching up into the tall cab of the Landrover.
Taylor realized why she didn't spot the runt sooner.
She was too short to see from the atop the passenger seat of the vehicle.
Taylor took in her hand, splotched with chipped lime green nail polish, "What do you want?" she opted for a less than polite greeting, more annoyed that someone had snuck up on her.
The girl seemed unfazed as she retracted her hand and scratched the back of her neck while looking off in the distance like she was trying to think of an actual answer, one that Taylor really wasn't interested in.
"Well," she finally worked out.
But Taylor was too busy studying her odd choice of clothing to really hear the rest.
She had on a baggy cyan colored shirt, its light cotton fabric hanging loosely off one slim shoulder, paired with maroon polyester capris, a patched grey scarf threaded through it's loops like a make-shift belt, and chunky galoshes with red and blue bird silhouettes across the fronts.
"—and that's when I thought, well I should say hi!" She finished enthusiastically.
Taylor opened and shut her mouth for the second time, each time she was about to reply she noticed a new accessory that was so out of place she could only gape.
Finally, feeling a bit rude, she opened her mouth to reply when she noticed another fashion faux pas, "…You have two different earrings. More specifically, one of said earrings is a fishing lure…isn't it?"
"Yup! My special pike jiggin' spoon." She fingered the lure, letting it flash in the light.
Now, Taylor wasn't the expert fisherwoman, even before the change; as a child she hadn't liked dooming the poor little minnows to a hook to await their death as bait for a bigger fish.
It wasn't fair in her mind, she liked something with more sport—something that had a fighting chance. It was ironic that now she lived in a world where all she did was fight, usually against all the odds—she was the damn minnows on the hook now.
"Well, hi." Taylor finally answered back flatly, making her greeting sound as much like a farewell as she could manage without telling the girl to go away.
Taylor narrowed her eyes, exhaustion coming fast.
"Bye" was on the tip of her tongue when a slam from the house door distracted her.
"I swear to you, I won't ever do that again—Rock, paper, scissor be damned! We will use our blood and you-will-like-it!"
Taylor couldn't stamp down the grin blooming on her face, "That bad?"
"I am not the diplomatic one! What the hell were you thinking?!" Kaden wasn't even going to acknowledge Taylor yet—let alone the new girl standing wide-eyed next to their car.
"What did you do?" It was more of a hostile accusation than a curious question, "We just got here!"
Kaden marched up to Taylor's window and practically threw the pen at her,"Here! You take the pink one! And don't you go lecturing me ab— who is that?"
It was about time she noticed Runt—er, Cleo. Her mind was already subconsciously dubbing the poor thing.
"Cleo. Apparently." Taylor blandly replied, her gaze drifting downward to the girl watching both of them with large auburn doe eyes.
"Hello…" Kaden elongated the greeting while she sized the girl up.
To Cleo's credit, she didn't so much as blink.
Either this girl was extremely brave or stupid.
"What are you?" Kaden had no finesse about it.
Cleo gave her an offended look before replying, "I'm a girl, obviously."
Taylor couldn't help the laugh that escaped her lips.
Yes. She was stupid, not brave.
Still chuckling, Taylor tried even more directly, "No, what kind of WereAnimal are you?"
"Oooh," Cleo brightened, "My genus, Lynx Rufus."
"Gesundheit." Kaden offered.
Ah. That explained some of it.
At least her stature, her personality was a different story.
"Well, aren't you a friendly cat." Kaden mused.
Friendly wouldn't have been the word Taylor would have used.
Kooky, crazy, a few fruit loops shy of a full bowl, a few Brady's short of a bunch, a nice house, but not much furniture…really, she could go on and on with idioms—it was actually quite entertaining.
"And you two aren't so bad for wolves," Cleo stated unabashed.
"So everyone says…" She snapped herself out of her mildly entertaining insult list that had begun to grow in size and creativity.
They had to meet these wolves who were giving them a bad name here.
Sure, most lupines were a bit domineering, low temperance, haughty…Okay, so the odds were against the wolves.
Oh well, they were cool enough to be the exception it seemed.
Cleo continued as if Taylor hadn't spoken at all,
"I mean, Tessa told me not to bother the wolves and then everyone's worried about you two—I don't know why. You guys are uber chill, not at all bloodthirsty or insane."
"What?!" Kaden and Taylor voiced in utter disbelief.
Now Taylor wouldn't deny they weren't the most stable of company…But among Weres? Hell, they were as docile as lambs comparatively. They didn't care about rankings or dominance, therefore violence wasn't as regularly invoked.
"Oh yeaah," Cleo was pleased she had so effectively gotten their attention, "I heard from Leon that you two single-handedly broke into the Fresno pack and took down big bad alpha Chase. You did, didn't you?"
"Oh, he deserved it! Murdered him, cold blood, huh? Forcing the whole pack to bathe in his slowly draining life blood as he—"
"Woah, woah, you vicious little runt." Kaden interjected.
Taylor didn't feel so bad at dubbing her runt if Kaden thought so too.…besides, she was quite the deceiving package, and maybe a touch psychotic?
"We didn't kill the bastard, no matter how much we wanted to." Kaden growled and Taylor joined in on the brief growl.
"Oh. Well…that's just what they were saying. Also, word outside the walls are you guys are wanted by, like, six packs."
Lie. Blatant lie, it was actually four but did Mason and Axel really count? She had to stop this rumor mill, Taylor didn't want a lynch mob showing up at their door randomly for something blown out of proportion.
"Huh. Well, you guys are significantly less interesting." Cleo pouted.
"I bet you're beat up a lot for being so…frank." Taylor found herself stating.
Cleo pursed her lips, not looking offended in the slightest, "Yes, but I'm quite quick. They had to catch me first, and usually it wasn't worth their time. And then Tessa came, she takes good care of me and my big mouth."
"Uh huh," Kaden gave the girl one last look of dismissal before turning to deposit her completed form in the drop-box, "See you around, kid."
"Right. Kid." Kaden didn't look back to see the outrage on Cleo's face as she walked around the vehicle to get into the driver seat.
Taylor copied Kaden's action, depositing the form and giving Cleo a three-fingered wave of nonchalance for a goodbye.
She didn't move.
She only stared, watching them drive away so intently like only a cat could do.
He wanted to jump for joy, howl at the moon…toss the next nearest alpha out of the car.
Why hadn't Axel had noticed and come to this conclusion sooner?
He always had those damn tags—actually, kudos to Kaden for snagging them.
He supposed he should thank his lucky stars they had a lead at all, but he had been too close to losing himself to the terrifying thought that he might never see Taylor again—even more blood chilling, she might be dead or seriously hurt in some Were's claws for petty pack gain.
"What were the coordinates?" Mason asked for the millionth time.
The cool timbre of Daren met his ears, trying to soothe his beast unconsciously,"The same as the last two readings, alpha."
He was amazingly patient. Mason absently wondered why he wasn't a higher rank.
Daren seemed like he possessed more control than Calvin had. Maybe he didn't want the pressure that came with the Beta role.
Mason was actually starting to trust both knuckle-heads, depend on them fully, something he rarely did with any of his pack members.
Plus, it was hard to snap at them when they genuinely cared for Taylor's well-being too.…but that didn't mean he didn't get jealous of them from time to time.
Mason glowered, looking into the driving mirror and spying Daren's oblivious eyes watching the road as he drove.
"Good." He snapped out of his petty thoughts, "That means they are staying somewhere. Hopefully in a stable, safe location."
"Yeah, in Texas." Akira snorted.
"Did you call the other alphas in the surrounding territories? Dig around?"
"Yeah, but here's the funny thing, there are no controlled territories around those coordinates." Akira twisted around in the front passenger seat to look at him.
"What?" Mason and Daren both echoed their disbelief.
"Yep, no Alpha's go near—and I quote, 'That crazy place'."
"Oh, great…" Mason buried his head in his hands.
Lovely.His mate would pick an uncharted free-range where anything goes.
"How long do we have?"Mason felt a headache coming on.
"A few hours yet." Daren answered.
"Call Axel, let him know what you found." Mason's voice was wary as he looked out the window for a solace he wouldn't find.
Axel and Mason each had taken separate vehicles, for obvious reasons.Axel had brought along Connor, Jordan and Gaby.
Mason had opted for the only three he had with him, Daren, Akira and Bree.
Bree sat stone-still, as far from Mason as possible, on the back seat they were sharing.
He allowed himself the briefest amusement that, in the past, she would have been stuck to him like glue.
It spoke volumes of how guilty she was feeling for selling out Taylor and Kaden—If not direct guilt for them but for betraying Mason, her Alpha.
She hadn't looked at him since she'd arrived and the only reason she wasn't black and blue while being sent packing back to the den was the fact that she had redeemed herself enough to be trustworthy, dependable.
"You think we'll be enough?" Akira voiced his concerns.
"Yes. If not brute force, we'll fly under the radar." They couldn't bring both of their packs into what could be a slaughter. No matter how much they wanted their mates, they had to at least think of their pack members' safety.They wouldn't risk unnecessary lives for such a personal reason.
Although it touched him to know that a number of them volunteered freely for the job.
It seemed the duo had made an impression on their packs. Whether they knew it or not, the little snots had an endearing and infectious personality.
The most telling example being Calvin; Mason's stern, current second ranking wolf.
He had been the most earnest and persistent in Mason's pack to offer assistance in finding the girls.
Which was humorous considering Calvin's opinion on the "rabid rogues" in the past
Cal had been the first he'd called to help herd the girls to their den.He had also been the first to voice his complaint at the stability of the girls, calling them a dangerous liability.
However, Cal's attitude seemed to do a 180 after the second ambush at the house when another pack abducted Kaden.
Taylor had been on the scene first, discovering Calvin's silver riddled body and had tried to approach him to help staunch the rapid blood flow.
To hear Taylor tell it, she was lucky Mason had come in time before Cal used the last of his strength to wrap his jaws around her throat.
To hear Calvin recall it, it was in complete awe. He confessed to Mason that Taylor had calmed him, making him come out of his blood-lusting, lupine survival instincts. Some random stray simply didn't do that to a dominant wolf that had lost himself to his baser instincts.
It was then that Mason realized the raw potential Taylor was holding back, the power she had.
She claimed to hate alphas because of the power they lorded over her…but she had no trouble telling him or Axel no.
Maybe it was all in her mind.She was at a young, vulnerable age when her Alpha had abused his power.
Or maybe…Maybe she was aware of her own dominance and was too afraid to, as she put it, "enslave the weak" She didn't want to order because she knew how unpleasant it could be to have opinions taken away.
Mason brightened a degree.
If that were the case, he had some hope.
She didn't even have to issue a single command by his side unless she wanted to.
He could explain to her he wasn't a power hungry Alpha that squashed opinions that opposed him, he did what was good for his pack as a whole—and didn't order a single command more.
And whether she wanted to accept it or not, wolves were attracted to her, unconsciously listened and watched her—Taylor was a wise, magnetic Were, one born to lead.
"Axel's car is stopping in for gas, should we do the same?" Daren broke his concentration.
"Ah, sure, let's get it over with. Fill the tank quick and I'll get some drinks and snacks."
His own stomach growled in anticipation.They had been driving for hours upon hours nonstop, eager to reach Kaden and Taylor before they magically got wind of their plans and ghosted from their reach yet again.
They had briefly entertained the idea of flying there, but they hadn't wanted to go through security with the weapons and other gadgets they had that wouldn't go through airport security.
"Get me a Fanta!" Akira called, getting out of the car to stretch his legs.
"Seriously? What are you, twelve?" Daren snorted, already taking the pump off the hook.
"Orange soda is a timeless drink, don't belittle it—"
Mason didn't hear the rest of Akira's defense for the disgusting drink because the gas station door closed behind him, issuing a cheery jingle.
A balding elderly man barely spared him a glance before going back to his Sudoku with a renewed fervor.
"Twenty on pump two," a woman told him, throwing the money down on the counter.
The man nodded in reply, it seemed he wasn't much of a talker—but the woman didn't seem to get that vibe from him as she continued, "Barely made it here…"
Mason lost interest and made his way down the drink aisle grabbing waters, cokes, and one orange Fanta.
"—I mean, there wasn't another gas station for miles. I thought I was gonna have 'ta push her home." The woman joked.
Mason next browsed the snack aisle.
"Yeah, we are the only stop for a good couple miles and more." The man grunted a reply, "It mostly used to be a truck stop until the other gas station's closed down."
Mason had pretzels, trail mixes, and M&M's in his arms when he picked up a bag of chips.
He froze in his tracks.The scent was unmistakable. Taylor.Grant it, it was faint—but it was there.
He loosened his death grip on the bag and cradled it gently, as it was his only link to her.
Walking up to the counter, he pushed aside the woman still blathering about…something.
He issued an "Excuse me" he didn't really feel; his gaze only on the old man behind the counter. "Was there two women in here a few days ago? A tall, tan, brunette, gold eyes and a dark haired Latina—"
"With a bigger fella?" he interjected "Yeah, sure, I remember them. Don't see very many beauties like that come through our doors. Thought the poor things were getting harassed by the giant guy but they settled down after some talkin' and went quietly with 'im."
Mason nearly dropped his wallet on the floor.
The man didn't seem to notice as he carried on, ringing up his items.
"The guy I recognized. He's a regular here, drives a pristine little silver rig. Never caused any trouble, although he looks rough enough."
"How big was this guy exactly?" Mason's knuckles were clenched white.
"Did they say where they were headed?"
Mason didn't know when Axel had come to stand beside him in place of the woman, but he did now, and he looked just as outraged as Mason felt.
"Ah, now that I don't know. I wasn't really listenin', a glance now and then—although, those glances told me he was at least six feet and stocky enough to bench four of those girls, no sweat."
Mason bit the inside of his cheek to keep for baring his teeth in fury.
Feeling almost robotic as he accepted his card and receipt back, he thanked the man and stiffly walked back outside. He could feel Axel beside him in a similar state.
He was all the way to the car when Axel's low voice reached his ears, "When I get my hands on that damn girl, she's going to wish she never even dreamt up this grand escape."
Mason had to agree.
"Did you get a good read on his scent?"
"No. Too many people filtering in and out."
"It was by pure luck that I even picked up on Taylor," He held up the chips that had come in direct contact with her, "But I think his scent is on there too. It's hard to pick up among all the other unfamiliar ones, but I smell a foreign Were scent."
Axel took a sniff and nodded,"Well, at least we know we're heading in the right direction."
Yeah, but it wasn't the best clue to find.
Mason sniffed the bag one more time, memorizing the odd smell.
He was going to find the bastard and make him regret breathing the same air as his mate.
Taylor stretched, reveling in the fact that there were no other wolves in the whole house—well, aside from Kaden, who was still slumbering in the next room.
The house was empty except for the beds, plain and smelt of PineSol in an attempt to wash out the smells of it's previous residents.
It didn't work with her nose but it was a nice gesture.
Shaking the covers off her body, she ambled to the kitchen in search of food.
Quickly finding out it was just too much to hope for, she finger-brushed her hair and prepared herself for the outside world the best she could.
Opening the door, her first step was halted as she encountered a basket.
It was a simple straw hand-basket with a bright tie-dye cloth covering the contents in the center.
But she didn't have to look to know that the mystery objects hidden from view were of the food variety.
Taylor's first reaction was joy.
Obviously she was starving and some wonderful person took pity on her plight.
However, that thought was dashed just as quickly as it was thought up.
Who was this thoughtful person and why didn't they show their faces? It wasn't in her nature to put her trust in some random person's kindness—although her stomach urged her to today.
"See, this is why I wanted to deliver it in person! Look at her, just staring at it in suspicion."
A voice came from behind the fence of their temporary front yard, it seemed that they were trying to be stealthy by whispering but doing such a terrible job that she could only glance at the spot in wonder.
"Shh! Aw, crap! She's looking this way, I think she knows we're here!"Another voice hissed back.
It was then one of her spies decided to abandon their stealthy observations and vault over the fence and into view.
It was none other than Cleo.
"Morning!" She waved and was already skipping over to Taylor.
With a curse, the other spy jumped over the fence to halt Cleo's progress across the lawn,"I'm sorry about this," the woman grimaced, "I tried to tell her to leave you alone but she has taken a fascination with you and your friend…"
The woman had slightly almond-shaped eyes that swirled a hazel green from their depths. Her hair was a light, sand blonde that cascaded loosely down her shoulders.
"I knew they'd be hungry!" Cleo pouted and struggled from her grasp.
"But Tessa!"Cleo dug her feet into the lawn.Watching the scene in mild amusement, she gave in,"Would you…like to come in and share some with us?"
Tessa released her grip from Cleo in surprise and she bounded away, cheering in joy. "Yaaay! Absolutely!"
"Oh, but..." Tessa hovered in the doorway as Taylor followed Cleo inside.
"What? Don't want to follow your friend into the wolves den?" Kaden grumbled, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, "Smart move."
It wasn't until about three blueberry muffins in that Tessa started to un-tense her shoulders.
It turned out she was a WereCat, puma to be specific, and it seemed she had some rather unpleasant run-ins with the Wolves who took the Cat vs. Dog grudge to the extreme.
"That's crappy." Taylor devoured the last breakfast item in the basket, "Were they the wolves in this place?"
"No," Cleo chirped in, "But they are just as jerkish."
"Well…can't wait to meet them." Taylor felt her lips twitch in a snarl that was already becoming synonymous with the Wolves here.
"Agreed," Kaden started in on the cookies which Cleo, her mind replaced "runt" with her rightful name after one delicious bite, so expertly baked.
Taylor was inspecting the cookies she found hiding at the bottom of the basket when she heard the thundering blast.
l Axel's POV l
Axel walked through the cloud of dirt and debris blowing around in the air and looked around the community.They came in through the hole in the perimeter wall, landing in some unlucky person's yard.
Faces peered out from the lit up windows, some scared, others angered. People had started to file out into the streets to figure out what was going on.
All kinds of Weres stalked forward, slowly making their way towards him.
A few of the scents were familiar to him, but before he could start to identify what kind of species of Were, he heard a shout coming from his left—Axle froze.
"Sean! Stop!" Kaden's voice rang out and it took him a second to realize something was barreling towards him, giving him just enough time to dodge the attack.
Axel backed away and assessed the man, a tiger. A damn Siberian Tiger.
He had known one back in the military and they were quite sadistic…and hard to kill.
Axel's team engaged in battle, fighting with vigor at the growing number of Weres in what he could already see was going to be a hugely unfair fight. The Weres knew his pack was made up of Wolves, however most of his team had never encountered the wild and different Weres-breeds barring their fangs in front of them.
His attention swung back to Kaden as she stood frozen in-between them with indecision, her dark hair and his necklace both swaying in the breeze—he couldn't help but smile. Although it didn't last long, thanks to Axel's momentary distraction, he was earned a sidekick that sent him sailing through the air and hitting part of the wall they hadn't blown up, effectively blinding him with pain.
He blanked out for a second, but when he came to consciousness Kaden was running towards his attacker in her Wolf form.
"Kaden—! Don't! He's a fucking tiger!" Axel coughed out, but she kept running, almost invisible in the shadow of the wall with her midnight fur.
She pounced on the Tiger's back, clawing at him and trying to find purchase on his brawny human back.
In response, he snarled savagely and grabbed one of her hind legs, hurling her through the air at a nearby house.
But she was quick on her feet and rebounded off the siding safely.
Sean, his attention diverted from Axel, stalked towards Kaden, a toothy grin plastered on his face, "I knew you wolves would bring nothing but trouble."
Before he reached her, Axel found his footing and flung himself in front of Kaden,"Stay. Away." He growled, sounding more animal than human. And this satisfied him.
Sean scoffed in arrogant cat-like fashion but still stopped a few feet away, turning his gaze on something over his shoulder.
Kaden growled at the newcomer approaching, but the large Were held up his hands in surrender, "Woah, girly. S'alright. There's been a misunderstanding, eh? Got word from Brendon to call off the attack, so put away those kitty claws, Sean."
Sean hissed at him, spinning on heel to order the others to stop fighting, all the while muttering about them blowing the "damn wall" and how he wasn't about to fix it.
Axel ignored Sean and turned his wolf's ice blue eyes on the new threat, a bear. "I'm not leaving without her."
Eli blinked once then turned to Kaden, "Well that's all fine n' dandy, Wolf. I ain't keeping her prisoner. She came of her own accord, Taylor likewise."
Axel just glared.He didn't care the reason, he just wanted her back.
"Now, that I have Sean handled and everyone knows you aren't the enemy-"
Before Eli could finish, Kaden gave a bark, nuzzled his leg in thanks and took off full speed down the road.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
Kaden's poor wolf legs worked hard to put as much distance as they could between her and Axel.
The emotions she had locked away when she had left Axel's home a few nights ago were leaking into her head little by little until she was overwhelmed by them.
Among them was:Anger—Anger that Axel thought she was his property to reclaim.Confusion as to why Axel wanted her so badlyLoneliness, from Axel's absence.
Sadness at the thought of being separated from Taylor to be with said cause of all listed feelings.
And fear, as to what it could all possibly mean…
She finally couldn't run anymore and shifted back to human form to sit in a dark, empty yard, naked but for Axel's dog tags—which still softly tickled around her neck.
Why the hell was Axel back? This wasn't fair!She was trying to forget that part of her life.
Kaden pulled her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms around them to rest her head on, "At least I got away."
A chuckle whispered out from the darkness,"You should know better than that."
Of course it was Axel's voice, he was off to her right, but she refused to look up.
He padded silently towards her and pulled her up by an arm, taking his shirt off and putting it over her. After everything was in place Axel then hugged her from behind, one arm wrapping around her waist, while the other snaked up to play with his dog tags still around her neck.
"I'll always find my way back to you, love," He cooed, placing a chaste kiss on Kaden's cheek before she came to her senses and shoved him away.
"Don't touch me." She replied in clipped tones, glaring up at him.
"Kaden, why did you run?"
"I'm not sure I want to talk about it." Kaden looked away, sounding defeated.
"Anyways, what the hell are you doing here?" She quickly adopted a hostile tone, sounding more like her old self, "How did you find us?"
Axel gave her a predatory smile, looking at her fingers still playing with his tags,"Answer lies in the palm of your hand sweetheart."
Kaden's face blanched.Taylor was going to seriously kill her this time.
And as if Taylor had been listening in somehow, she felt a odd tug coming through their bond from her friend's end.
Kaden started to walk away, but before she could fully escape the uneasy situation, Axel grabbed her face in between his palms and kissed her, making Kaden's eyes go wide in surprise.It was a powerful and passionate kiss, but she had no time to indulge in meaningless self discovery; she broke the kiss.
Groping for a better excuse but not finding one—she finally opted for a half truth,"Taylor, needs me."
And with that uttered, left the lovesick puppy trailing after her with less answers than he started with…
= Mason's POV =
It had been easy. Too easy, to break the gate.
Either they were very confident in their abilities to defend the place or they assumed their cover was good enough to get them by.
As it was, Axel's team blew through the wall like it was wet tissue paper.
But regardless of how easy it had been, they still raised a quite fuss.
And more importantly, they drew all the attention away from Mason and his team.
Akira vaulted over the wall first, he was a nimble bastard. They chose a spot far from the main gate and it's chaos—audible even from their position.
It was harder to get over the wall, even with their strength, but with Akira perched atop it, pulling them over the last few feet to the edge they couldn't reach—they were almost home free.
As Mason landed, trying to cushion the blow by bending at his knees, his crouch was the perfect concealer for the two large men's eyes, lounging in the backyard.
1900156333He barely had time to study their faces before Daren landed with an audible thud next to him.
The men froze mid-sentence to look in their general direction.While they were hidden from view by some fairly healthy sized hydrangea bushes—It wouldn't hold them for long.
Akira, who was already next to Mason and landed silently, punched Daren on the shoulder.
Bree didn't take her eyes off the men lumbering toward their bushes, which was probably a smart thing to do.
Mason swiveled back around to survey the increasingly alarming situation.
The big question was, did they all blow cover to take down these guys or have just—Bree burst from their purple hydrangea shield.
"Akira, Daren, go!"
Mason made the split second decision to have all his man power focus on one goal so they wouldn't get hurt.
He would go on alone.
They obeyed instantly, charging out of the bushes to help Bree, who had attached herself to one of the Were's back and was repeatedly trying to slam the back of his head in.
Watching his pack work for a heartbeat, he reassured himself they were fine on their own.
Creeping around the house and away from the snarls and shouts, Mason looked out at a mundane street.
He had just about made it down the pedestrian block, when an inhuman roar of rage stopped him in his tracks. Turning around he had just enough time to register a large body slamming into his, ripping the air out of his lungs in a violent whoosh.
His bulky attacker tried to wrap his arms around Mason's waist as they fell but Mason twisted from his grasp, rebounded off the asphalt and was on his feet with his fists up, ready for the next attack.
"You!" Mason almost dropped his guard in shock, his attack's scent was unmistakable.
The man got back to his feet just as quickly, impossibly quick for his size,"Me."
"You're going to regret taking her." Mason promised on a growl.
"I never understand you wolves…First, you land into my backyard and beat up my family," the man huffed visibly as rage overtook him, "Second, you go spouting nonsense, accusing me of wrong-doings."
"That's fine, I'll finish this quick. You'll talk." Mason snarled and charged the giant lummox standing between him and his mate's location, unfortunately the man dodged. The giant wasn't as slow as he looked, although Mason shouldn't have been surprised, he could smell he was some kind of Were.
Keeping up his relentless attack so the man wouldn't have the chance to change into his WereAnimal was risky because that meant he had to attack and stay at a close distance, ready to take the kill shot at the first sign of change.
He dodged a swipe that would have slammed him back against the nearest house.
Deciding he needed to move the fight out of the middle of the street, he backed into the shadow of a blue townhouse.
Mason had reservations about fighting with a wall at his back, preferring space to maneuver if necessary but if it was between being overwhelmed with an enemy circling around his back or being pinned in, he would take the wall.
He wanted to die seeing his enemy coming.
He desperately wished he was in his Wolf form, to have ears that could swivel around to take in what his eyes couldn't afford to. If Axel and his men were facing Were remotely like the ones Mason and his pack were encountering then the battle couldn't be going well for them either. It didn't matter how well their fighters were, they were badly outnumbered and facing opponents whose fighting style and abilities were foreign to them.
The man took a break from swinging at Mason's head to brush his unruly brown locks out of his face and glowered at Mason like one would an annoying bug.
Mason's fatigue was starting to show in his movements, the small break not helping him recover energy, and it wasn't long until the Were clipped his shoulder, the force of such a glancing blow still managing to make his body spin violently out of control.
Mason rose his dazed head from the ground at the familiar sound.He growled, not believing his eyes.
There she stood, his mate, perfectly fine—and eating a large sugar cookie.
The Were had yet to acknowledge Taylor, who stood mere feet behind him, pulling back a fist that would easily be Mason's finishing blow; Taylor jumped into action, dropping her sugary confection.
"No, Brendon!" She slipped a hand around the Were's arm, halting his punch.
Mason growled at her familiarity.The rage inside him so great, it triggered his Change.
The Were affectively ignored him and studied Taylor for a full minute, the rage that had been directed at Mason still his eyes. Mason tried to make his Wolf body rise in preparation; he would protect her till the end, but he wasn't even half way through his change yet.
The man tossed one more look in Mason's direction before he looked back at Taylor—and smiled.
He straightened his large body out of a crouch and ruffled Taylor's hair,"Ah, you know this wolf. He on the good side then?"
Taylor broke into a soft smile, a smile that should be reserved just for him,"Yes. The good side, Bren."
"Did you know this fool accused me of hurtin' a female, a female I'm now assuming is you?" the Were named Brendon asked her, "My mama raised gentlemen, he's lucky I didn't pound him into a pulp."
"I'm sorry, he jumps to conclusions….alot." Taylor glanced his way, finally noting his change—which was almost complete now. Rage the only factor fueling his Change so quickly.
"I'll go stop Eli, Sean and the others before any permanent harm's done then."
Taylor inclined her head gratefully to him before turning to face Mason head-on.
His wolf eyes roved over her body, looking for injuries he was sure she had—there were none.
If he had been human he would have let a large sigh of relief free, but instead he could only huff.
Mason's body was burning, all that distance he ran, dodging and blows his body took, and the final straw— his speedy forced Change. He wanted to collapse and die, but his awareness of any pain he had been experiencing a minute ago was gone.
He forced one paw forward and watched Taylor tense. Mason leveled his stare at her and took another step, willing her to come to him.
Her scent was already driving him crazy, he could only imagine what her touch would do to him, wolf or not.
Mason watched his beautiful mate study the third rise and fall of his paw stepping toward her before she twisted and bounded away from him like he was one of the hounds from hell.…and at that point, he felt like acting like one.
With a snarl that only ceased to speed her escape, he chased after her, leaping past the nonchalant Weres that only moments ago were trying to tear his throat out.
Taylor twisted and turned through the blocks and houses with practiced precision, but he was determined to not lose her.
Not after all he went through.
Bursting through the bushes, he heard rather than saw, her frantic steps change direction.
She was going south, down the back alley.
Fine, two could play at that game.
She could feel Mason sticking behind her like glue, she had to get some distance on him and outmaneuver him by changing her course. Her scent was all over this trail by now, she hoped he would follow her normal trail and not follow the new course she was about to take.
Not being able to hear his steps, Taylor took it as a good sign; she was actually impressed he lasted as long as he did after such a battle. Taking the new path down the opposite alley, she headed for the other temporary homes a few blocks away from the one they occupied the first day they arrived, homes that didn't have their scents all over them.
Arriving at the bland house, she thrust open the unlocked (because who would rob a WereAnimal?) front door that had yet to be cleaned or rented out. She slammed the door closed and locked it with a satisfied pop—more for Taylor's peace of mind than security.
Trying to catch her breath, but still cautious to avoid the windows, she lowered her human body to the floor. Sinking into the soft beige carpet as her mind flashed back to Mason and his burning gold gaze.
His body had been humming with energy, almost successfully pulling her to him like some mindless zombie.
Yes. That had been entirely too close for her.She would see him when he calmed down and returned to human form. He wouldn't be that powerful then. She could easily resist his call then.
But any plans of avoidance were dashed when her nose picked up the heady mixture of sharp spices and the subtle, cool pine undertone that stood out from the whole condo.
Her head shot up at the immediate scent assaulting her.So busy and confident at covering her tracks, she hadn't thought to search the rest of the house. There, now between her and the locked door, stood Mason.
She hadn't even heard him come in, there must have been a window open somewhere or hell, he could beaten her to the house for all she knew.
Still in Wolf form, his red coat shone brilliantly in the streams of light piercing through the living room windows. His head was lowered to the ground, staring her down, as his body braced itself for any movements she might have attempted to make an escape.
She sucked air through her teeth.Gathering herself, she sat up and made no other movements.
She smiled in spite of herself; why did she think she could escape from this bastard?
Mason's head perked up at her smile and relaxed posture.His ears shooting back and body lunging forward, he pounced on her, knocking her back flat into the carpet with his front paws.
Whining and licking her face with a vengeance, she could do nothing but take it and try not to laugh—a futile effort.
"Mason, Mason! Come on, get off!" Taylor attempted to push the big beast off her, but he didn't even budge.
Running her hands through the furry mane at his neck, she allowed herself to be distracted by the softness until the crackle of power froze her to the spot.
She cautiously lowered her arms, still flabbergasted.Mason was changing. Right on top of her.
Not knowing what to do, whether she should roll out from under him, or stay as still as she could manage—she opted for stillness. She knew how difficult it could be to change, and she supposedly had it easy, she wouldn't make the Change any harder for Mason if she could help it.
Although, as soon as he was through, she was going to chew his ass for Changing on top of her.
She could feel his power ebb and flow throughout his body, lengthening and shortening respective parts to match his human body. While Taylor had more control of this energy, she was in control of what she changed and its order—Mason looked like he just went along for the ride, his energy sliding all over his body, trying to gather up enough power to force everything to instantly obey and change, but of course it didn't work quite that smoothly.
The most disturbing thing wasn't that she could feel him changing, or see him changing…it was that she could hear his thoughts.
So floored by the ability, she almost pushed him off her.
The power that flowed in and out his hands, resting on her chest, was like a current, transferring his thoughts, feelings and sensations.
Even more astonishing than that little trick were the thoughts being broadcasted to her: Finally, you're safe, my mate.
Taylor about choked on her tongue at the mention of such a word.Mate??
Surely, he was clocked too hard by Brendon.
Before she could think more deeply into the matter or get any more insight from his head, the power flow stopped and the body that had only partially rested on top of her, now sank fully down to blanket the upper half of her body—and it was purely human male.
"Uh…Mace, let me explain, you see—" She couldn't even get her flimsy excuse out before his lips crushed down on hers.
In reflex, she tried to propel herself up and out from under the man who was effectively silencing her. He didn't move. Instead, undeterred by her resistance, he grabbed the sides of her face and pulled her into a deeper kiss.
After satisfying himself, he moved to her neck, burying his head into her shoulder and the locks of hair resting there.
"Why?" Mason was barely audible, still seizing her in an iron grip.
To Taylor, the answer to this question was very black and white. If someone asked her True or False, is the Sun hot? She would say, "True, duh."
"I didn't want anyone else killed."
That was as streamline and cut to the point she could make it.Surely he would respect the fact that she had thought about the safety and well-being of his pack.
"That," Mason began in a low tone.
Taylor noticed the way his body began to tremor and shake; she didn't take it as a good sign.
"Is the most stupid thing I've ever heard."He raised his head from her shoulder to flash a pair of angry bronze eyes.
Okay, so clearly Mason thought about the grey areas. When answering such a true or false question; he would have answered,"Hot compared to…?" or "That's relative. It would depend on the asker's definition of hot and cold."
Taylor shrank at how far he was pushing his control, her fear of dominant wolves came surging up like an old reopened wound, effectively constricting her throat.
Mason still wasn't finished however, and luckily wasn't waiting for a retort from her, he plowed on, "You left me without a word. You went out the damn window, out into the night defenseless-"
"Defenseless, probably running right into the arms of your enemies! Did you know you basically have a bounty on your head? Both of you do, caught five wolves trying to abduct your asses that morning alone.
And you know what they'd do if they caught you, right? Right?!" Mason grabbed her chin so she would look him in the eyes.
Trapped, immobile and frantic, she tried not to revert to the sniveling girl who had kept quiet and had taken her beatings. As an image of her old abusive alpha flared into her mind—her temper sparked, washing away the urge to cry.
"I'm safe aren't I?" She craned her neck up, getting her face as close to Mason's without touching, she wanted her fury to be clear, "In case it's escaped your notice, I have been living an odd sum of 7 years without any help from anyone—and would you look at that, miracle! I have survived! So, before you try to write off my noble actions as stupid, look at yourself. Chasing down a rogue female over the united states, risking the lives of your pack, staying with your rival instead of going back to your own den and taking care of a pack that's clearly unraveling—"
With a inhuman snarl, he reached around to the back of her head and pulled her the last few inches towards his lips.
What was first a rough intrusion, morphed into a gentle askance of a kiss.His hand rubbed the back of her neck in slow circles, as he broke the brief kiss and nipped playfully at her chin.
Still in shock that Mason hadn't torn her throat out in her rebellious outburst, she eyed him with a weary disposition.
"I did all that," Mason trailed his lips along her jaw, "Because I love you."
Taylor's eyes had to be as large as plates.Noone had said that to her since her first, and only, mate, many years ago.She had been young then and believed the mutt without question.
Now, however, she would like to think she had progressed mentally.
"You really did get hit on the head hard, didn't you?"
"Okay, so what the hell's going on?"
Kaden burst through the condo door, busting a lock that they would probably have to pay for, at the most awkward moment in Taylor's life…and she couldn't have been more grateful.
Mason, startled at the intrusion, left himself open for a launch that she hadn't been able to pull earlier. She pushed him off her and scrambled away.
"Oh…Mace…you're…naked." Kaden observed as Mason gathered himself off the floor, not a shred of self consciousness in his gaze.
Of course it wasn't unusual to be naked, even around another gender.
But Taylor knew what she wasn't saying. 'Oh, you were naked on top of Taylor.'
Blowing out a breath, thinking about how bad things looked, she eyed Mason who still hadn't taken his eyes off her—aside from a short death glare for Kaden.
Averting her eyes from his stare, she looked to Kaden…and her shadow.Her smile curved, "Axel, my man, long time no see."
Axel's brilliant green eyes leered back at her venomously.
Kaden stiffed slightly at the new topic before loosening into a relaxed forced posture next to her.
She smelled of Axel, although Taylor would never say so. Hell, she probably smelt like Mason after her ordeal and nothing...well, practically nothing, had happened between them either. She wasn't about to make assumptions.
"Well this is awkward," Kaden spoke through the silence, making Taylor snort a laugh.
"Yeaaah, it was nice of you guys to come all this way to visit but…" She began.
"Put some clothes on, you heathen, I don't want to look at that all day." Axel snapped, ignoring the both of them now.
Seriously?You think if they traveled this far, they'd be a little more attentive—if only for the day.
Mason snarled and with a move Taylor already saw coming, launched himself off the wall he was leaning against to try and get a swipe at Axel.
"Hey!" Taylor stuck out a leg and tripped him before he could get to his goal, "You'd think being together this long would have numbed some of the hostility!"
Flat on his face, Mason growled into the carpet.
But it wasn't really all that threatening with his ass face up, mooning them all.
Hand shooting out, he jerked her ankle forward enough that Taylor lost balance as well and ended up falling on her own butt beside him.
She wanted to growl back, but she could only laugh, "My, someone's grumpy."
"I mean, a fucking bear!" Mason propped himself up on one elbow, looking past her to Axel now.
"And a huge damn tiger!" Axel joined in.
Kaden shot Taylor a confused look, Taylor shrugged.
And like that, their rage was forgotten and in its place were tales about the fight and the Alpha's amazement at how two females could get in such dangerous situations so quickly—no matter how much Taylor and Kaden tried to explain their new friends weren't threats…well, at least the bears…
This type of "conversation" hadn't stopped until Akira and Audrey showed up with a nervous Tessa in tow.
Peeking around the corner cautiously, Tessa searched for Taylor's eyes, catching her attention.
"Tessa, hey—oh! Akira!" She hugged him warmly, finishing with an awkward smile to Audrey, who stood off to the side looking more uncomfortable than Tessa.
"The rest of them are staying at your temp. house, but I came to tell you your request for housing went through and Mindy wanted me to give you your key…"
"Oh, thanks." Taylor looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to hand her a key.
"…But I ended up giving it to your friends…I hope that was okay?" She looked petrified.It made Taylor wonder what had happened to her in the past.
"That's fine. They're pushy wolves, hard to get the word no through their heads." She offered Tessa a smile that she hoped would ease her fears.
"O-okay, but…there's more bad news."
"I was told that there were two packs here and you would need another house…but we don't have one open anywhere near the one you rented…"
Taylor was still trying to process the information about packs and their house. A house they hadn't even stepped foot in yet.
"That's fine. Whatever one's available that's big enough for us and my pack," Mason spoke from an open room down the hall. Akira had brought him clothes to change into.
"You're staying?" Taylor groaned.
"And with Axel?" Kaden raised a brow.
He stormed out of the room, a simple grey shirt and worn blue jeans on.
"Don't be ridiculous. Kaden's staying with Axel and Taylor is staying with me."
"WHAAT?!" They each echoed, making Tessa flinch.
"We've already discussed and agreed." Axel cut in, "You can't be trusted and your safety is in question now, you don't have the luxury to be picky."
"Noone's going to find us." Taylor protested.
"We did." Mason leveled his gaze.
"Speaking of, how did yo—"
"Okaay! Fine! We'll stay with you, damn, quit with the whining." Kaden interrupted Taylor's question.
Axel shook his head, him and Mason sharing an amused, knowing look.
"Come on, let's go find us a house." Mason grabbed her arm and motioned for Tessa to follow.
Shooting a glare backwards, toward Kaden, she promised silently that she would figure out what that was all about later.
.::. Kaden's POV .::.
"Chain her to a chair."
"Super glue her hands together!"
"Wrap her in a cocoon of duct tape."
Kaden huffed, half amused, half exasperated, "Really? Connor? Duct tape cocoon?"
"At least that's a step up from 'break her kneecaps'." Kendrix pitched in.
Kaden raised an eyebrow, "Who the hell pitched that?"
Connor laughed, "Gaby always did have a morbid sense of humor."
"Whatever, anyways we're been at this for how long? I'm hungry."
"Kaden. They could have killed you! Don't you understand the danger a free-range Tiger could pose? They could kill you in the blink of an eye. He could have taken you away from me in a second..." Axel trailed off.
"First off, I don't belong to anyone. I'm a 23 year old Wolf. I'm able to care for myself. You should have left us alone. Left your pack out of harm's way. We are trouble."
"Why would I leave you alone? I love you."
Kaden's eyes widened but before she could say anything, Gaby interrupted, "She's right. You're putting us all in danger." Gaby added in.
"Piss off," Kaden said looking back at her, irritated "I couldn't care less about you."
Before Gaby could retort, a knock came from the door.Kaden looked on while Kendrix got up and went to answer the door.
To her surprise, Chloe's face peeked around the corner, her hair now a light blue, which Kaden was positive wasn't there before.
"Kaden! Heyyyyy! How are you? Oh. My. Gawd. You look so mad and tired." Chloe exclaimed as she did a brisk walk, navigating around all the other wolves, to sit at Kaden's feet like a lil' cat.
"Wassup kid?" Kaden replied, internally laughing as she noted that Chloe finally noticed the other wolves she had just walked around, she eyed them nervously. The girl wasn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.
"Oh yeah the committee wants you guys to come to a party we're having. So everyone can, like, get to know each other or whatever."
Kaden hesitated, looking around at the wolves behind Chloe, most of which were mouthing 'No'.
"Humm, I'm not sure the –" Kaden was cut off as an excited Chloe continued, "Oh c'mon! We even ordered like tons of steak for you. I heard them say they didn't want any casualties caused from hunger. Isn't that weird?"
Kaden laughed, "Kid, you're so naïve. But we've LOVE to come."
Yes, Kaden knew not one Wolf from Axel's pack wanted to go, but that's what they deserved for interrupting her consumption of delicious baked goods.
"Great. You tell Taylor for me, okay? I'm gonna go tell them you said yes, and help fix everything. BYE!" Chloe said as she literally jumped up and parkoured across the house. Talk about a cat stereotype.
"Really. You're really gonna make us socialize with bears." Connor spoke, none too happy.
"Cats too. Lynxes, Lions, and Siberian Tigers," Kaden replied, wiggling her eyebrows.
Axel gave her a droll stare.
"Awww c'mon, Ax! Free food!"
"I could buy you food."
Kaden huffed, grabbing the dog tags around her neck like she'd become accustomed to when stressed.
Axel eyed her for a moment, "So, why did you take them? The dog tags, I mean."
Kaden looked down at Axel's name carved in the tags. "I'm not sure. I just kinda stuffed them in the backpack along with the g—glazed donuts." She finished lamely as she realized the gun was still in the backpack.
Kendrix and Connor eyed her like she was crazy.
"I gotta pee." She said, abruptly standing up and making a beeline for the backpack, which was on the dining room table, "I'll be back."
She debated whether to hide the gun or keep it on her, but paranoia won out and she tucked it into the small of her back, making sure it wouldn't fall out, and then proceeded to hide the backpack on a high shelf in her room.
Going to the restroom and splashing some water on her face she muttered, "Think of something…..think of something… gotta keep 'em outta danger…and away from us."
She sighed in resignation and washed her hands, then opened the door.Gaby stood just outside the bathroom doorway, backpack dangling in one hand.
"I'm watching you mutt."
"If you were smart, " Kaden replied walking around her, "You'd watch your back."
Gaby turned, watching as Kaden rounded the corner, her plans for destruction already brewing.
Mason drug his still flabbergasted mate along behind him, he didn't take it as a good sign that she followed along wordlessly.
After his declaration that she was staying in a house alone with him, he expected yelling—maybe even a couple of swings he'd have to dodge, but nothing.
Nothing had fazed her past his admission.
He could practically hear the gears turn in her head, desperately trying to rationalize it, explain it was false somehow.
It wasn't until he reached one of the few available houses they'd finally found with their fox friend when she spoke, resisting against his hold, "How long are you staying?"
The halted motion almost made Daren run into her, but Akira guided him out of the way by his shoulders in time, steering him past them a few feet for a feinted privacy.
"As long as it takes," Mason tried to look into her light honey eyes but she refused to let that happen.
She stared resolutely forward, taking every detail the house had to offer. He almost thought she wouldn't question him further because she started to walk past the iron-wrought fence into the yard but Taylor spoke, "I won't stay here that long."
"Then neither will I," He meant to make it a light-hearted joke but it ended up sounding much more serious than he intended.
She stiffened and pulled from his grasp and up to the steps with Akira and Daren. He watched her touch Daren's shoulder gently to motion him out of the way of the door.
His growl rang throughout the air unbidden.Mason saw Taylor falter with the key before squaring her shoulders, unlocking the door, ushering Akira and Daren in, and whipping around to issue a low growl of her own.
Mason clenched his jaw shut, conflicted as to what to do when such a vicious growl was coming from his mate, directed at him.
He stood in the grass dumbfounded.
With one last look at him, she turned, stepped into the house and he closed his eyes as he heard the deadbolt slide into place.
She let a small grin overtake her face as she turned to face Akira and Daren,"Either one of you let him in and I'll personally cut your balls off. Clear?"
They each nodded hesitantly but that wasn't enough for her.
"Are-we-clear?" Taylor punched the entryway table for good measure, hearing the splintering of wood annunciating each word.
"Clear!" Each answered in unison.
"Besides, I'll always be within ear-shot of the door. You won't make it before you even turn the knob."
Taylor knew that a locked door wouldn't keep a determined Alpha out, but she was proving a point and she had to stand up for it.
Mason getting jealous wasn't as disconcerning as the primal growl that erupted from harmlessly touching Daren's arm. She wouldn't avoid contact from men for the rest of her life because Mason didn't like it.
Wolves needed contact to thrive, a casual bump or brush of the shoulder was expected and she was used to that contact now—she needed it.
Her wolf paced restlessly under her skin, at odds with how her human half handled the situation. Taylor always tributed her temper with her wolf, but after this ordeal, with her wolf more mournful that their "mate" was spending the night outside—the fire in her veins was purely a product of human emotions.
Daren and Akira lay on the couches in the living room, the TV turned up unbearably loud, terrified that they'd hear Mason issue a direct order that would make them cross Taylor.
Poor things, she mused, they were trying.It actually surprised her that they listened to her orders—Surprised and terrified.
Was she already Alpha female in their eyes? Or just a strong-willed female they liked enough to humor.
Taylor unclenched her jaw, not realizing she had been clamping her teeth together so forcefully.
Scenting the air, picking through all the foreign scents still not faded from the house was easy when the scent she was trying to target was Mason. His scent flared out above all others, annoying her without him even trying. He was still around. Somewhere.
Light squeaking of the floorboards upstairs drew her attention. With a light growl and a meaningful glance at Akira and Daren, each snapping their eyes back to the TV screen, she rose from her seat at the table.
Breaking in was he?
Taylor felt her muscles tense in anticipation as she ascended the stairs.
Someone was climbing through the window of her room, the one she swore she'd locked. Impressed, not thinking Mason had lock picking skills, especially the complexity to unhook a latch on a window from the other side without shattering glass.
Taylor flicked on the light, rushing the shadow that was Mason
.He sidestepped her swing—and as her eyes adjusted she took in the long hair and breasts.
Nope. Not Mason.
Kaden grinned at her and went to her closet, not bothering with an explanation.
Taylor lowered her raised fists, not bothering to turn around, "To what do I owe this pleasure?"
Kaden laughed, ripping what little clothes Taylor had managed to bring off their hangers and throwing them over her shoulder, "There has to be something flashy in here…Something party worthy."
"Yeah, there's a block party tonight, we're invited."
"And you were going to tell me when?"
"After I took your best outfit?"
Taylor threw a shirt at her with a laugh before digging in next to her to look for something to wear.
It wasn't everyday a girl met other Weres.
.::. Kaden'S POV.::.
Kaden could feel music thumping through the walls of the house. It vibrated through her body and made her eager to leave the confines of the house. As happy as she was for this party, she kept thinking back to what Axel had said earlier, Why would I leave you alone? I love you.
She shook her head, focusing on the present, remembering what lay ahead.
Giddy with expectation for the party to come, Kaden walked over to the kitchen sink to hassle Akira, "Dude! What's taking so long?!"
Akira gave Kaden a pointed look, briskly drying his hair off with a towel, "Sorry, your majesty, but we were only informed of this party after you came downstairs already in your gallant attire."
Axel's dog tags clanged together as Kaden looked down at her purple and silver tunic top and skinny jeans, ending in the fur of the boots she wore, her brown curls corralled in a high ponytail.
Typically, a tunic top wasn't her first choice, but it made it a lot easier to hide the gun against the small of her back. She thought about leaving it behind, but she couldn't shake the uneasy feeling that had been shadowing her for the past few days.
She stuck out her tongue as Akira grabbed a gallon of gel and proceeded to shape his half blonde, half black hair, into the fohawk he often wore.
Kaden went back to sit at the couch, where Daren and Taylor sat, also waiting for Akira.
Taylor looked great with her long blank tank that clung down to her hips, a faded tan cardigan dotted with holes rested around her shoulders and dark jeans tucked into buckled brown boots.
Before Kaden could enter the conversation Taylor was fervently was engaged in, Akira came out, in a simple t-shirt with an abstract design and baggy jeans, a half smile on his face.
They got up from the couch as one and headed out the door. The music was loud and inviting, the smell of food, mouthwatering, and the sight incredible.
It'd been a long time since Taylor or Kaden had gone out, and it was astonishing to see so many different types of people, especially knowing that behind each face was a Were. That many different types of Were gathered in one place alone was staggering but the fact that they were all socializing without a care in the world was even more incredible.
Before their quartet even reached the block party, Kaden noticed Taylor get dragged into the shadows of a townhouse.
Sensing who the culprit was and the fact that neither Akira nor Daren seemed all that worried about her friends abduction, Kaden walked on, leaving Taylor at the mercy, literally, of the wolf.
As soon as their trio stepped under the stringed multi-colored lights that seemed to serve as the boundary of the party, a muted silence fell over the crowd as all the Weres seized them up. Before their Wolves could get riled, Chloe broke the spell, bounding towards them cluelessly. The short, blue baby-doll dress she wore was a perfect match to her dandelion feathered blue hair.
"You guys made it! The other Wolves have been here for a while, I was wondering if you were coming or not." She said as she tried to give Kaden a hug. Startled she attempted to hug her back.
"C'mon, let's go have fun." Chloe said all smiles.
The quiet that had ensued when they had arrived drifted away, leaving Kaden's attention to wander back to the party, she spotted Axel speaking to another person, his hands in the pockets of his black slacks, a simple black shirt hugged his muscles tightly, his ebony black hair lose around his face, and emerald eyes alight with amusement as he caught Kaden looking at him, a smile blooming on his lips.
The sight of him sent shivers through her, and reminded her of what he'd said earlier. I love you…
Kaden tried to ignore Axel, walking towards the nearest stand, lured by the smell of alcohol. It was the only smell she could distinguish besides cooking meat, and Wolves. She couldn't even begin to process the different types of Weres. But even the sight of un-sobering goodness couldn't distract her from the feel of Axel's presence drawing nearer.
"You look delicious enough to eat." Axel crooned in her ear as he snaked an arm around Kaden's waist.
"Said the big bad wolf," Kaden half-smiled as she turned around to face him, trying to keep the jolt of energy his touch had brought hidden.
They looked at each other for a while before someone invoked the inevitable interruption,
"Damn, y'all got some hard core sexual tension up in here. It's a freakin' time bomb!" said the Asian girl serving the drinks behind the counter they leaned against. Her black hair framed her face beautifully. She looked about 5'3, and wore a pair of short-shorts and a tank top with a green and black glittery swirl adorning it.
She shot them a knowing smile, "You Wolves are different, eh? No stick up y'all ass at the sight of a kitty cat," Added the bartender, studying them with her almond shaped black eyes as she worked to mix drinks.
"You're a Cat?!" Kaden asked excitedly, "What type?"
The girl smiled, "I'm a Black Leopard."
"Isn't she great?" Chloe asked as she appeared next to the Leopard, "Her name's Nyx! But she's leaving soon after the party. It makes me sad." Chloe ranted giving Nyx a puppy dog eye look.
"You ain't so bad yourself, Chloe-Chan." She smiled as she offered Kaden a drink. "On the house."
Kaden took a sip.
Yumm, a Screwdriver.
"Thanks." Kaden barely had time to reply before she was dragged away by Axel.
"You better chug that, and soon." He stated.
"We're gonna dance." Axel replied as Kaden topped her drink off, dropping the plastic cup, as Axel waited patiently.
She searched the crowd, briefly spotting Taylor dancing with Mason, and smiled, deciding for once not to let her fear rule her life.
The rest of the night went by in bouts of both slow and fast motion. Kaden danced, and laughed, and ate, and definitely had drinks, but not enough to get her drunk.
Though apparently she had drank enough to make her ask stupid questions…
"So, I need to ask…" Kaden tentatively stated as she and Axel took a seat on the curb of a house on the outskirts of the party.
"Why did you say you …umm, you loov…ahem, te amo?"
Axel raised an eyebrow, "Is that 'I love you' in Spanish?"
Kaden nodded, looking up at the dark night sky. Anything to avoid his eyes.
Axel chuckled as he took her hand in his, twining their fingers—Very much like he had intertwined her emotions.
"Because I do. You're not gonna roll over and take a beating. You won't let innocent people get hurt. You are stubborn, and irrational, and beautiful. You're so different from all the other She-Wolves, I just want to be around you. You calm the Wolf's violent rage, you provide warmth for both the man and the wolf. "
He grabbed her chin, making her finally look up at him.
"I've never been more sure of anything in my life. And I know it won't be easy, but I'm willing to try."
Kaden could feel a lump in her throat. She wanted to believe him. She wanted to stop punishing him for mistakes her past lovers had made, and she really did think they could do it, that it could all work out. Plus, he was hot as hell.
But crying in front of him? Oh hell no.
Just as she was about to make some excuse to use the restroom, a faint echo of a voice whispered in her head.
Come to the backyard of the office….Or I will contact the Alpha……endangering his life.
Kaden stiffened, knowing who it was with the kind of power that could communicate with her telepathically without having any kind of connection to her. Her eyes flicked to across the party toTaylor, who seemed to not have heard a word, because she was still dancing languidly.
"Hey Axel?" Kaden spoke as she stood, "I'm gonna go find Taylor, hang out with her for a bit."
Axel looked hurt but quickly set it aside, "Sure,"He gave her a kiss on the forehead before watching her go.
Kaden's heartbeat picked up as she headed the long way around the party crowds, getting her lost from Axel, or his pack's sight, before heading in the right direction, toward the horribly pink house, at a light jog. It was a good distance away from the block party that had seemed to still be growing at an alarming rate.
She weaved through people until they thinned to just a few stragglers. Rounding the houses' corner and into a secluded make-shift alley between the two houses stood Gaby. Seeing Kaden come into view, a triumphant look overtook her face, which only seemed to ignite Kaden's anger.
"Why the hell would you threaten Axel? He's your Alpha. Leave him out of this, it's me you gotta worry about."
Gaby laughed as she stroked the pendant around her neck, "I'll make this as quick and easy as I can." She purred as she raised both her hands out towards Kaden.
Confused, Kaden took a step back towards the party, but was stopped in her tracks by the crackle of…electricity?
She looked down at Gaby's hands to find that they were glowing with a malevolent blue light, and every couple of seconds, they would spark as if an angry electric current flowed through them.
"What the—" Was all she had the chance to say before the electricity shot towards her.
Kaden was slammed to the ground, all the air leaving her lungs. She tried getting up, to assess the damage done to her body, but there was none. That's when Kaden realized that the blue glow Gaby had was also around her own body and it felt like being pulled down a rushing stream but oddly, it didn't hurt at all.
Startled, she tried to get back on her feet, but was knocked back down as another pulse of lightning shot out of Gaby's outstretched hands, this one much more powerful.
This new powerful blast, however, overloaded her bond with Taylor, snapping their link like an overstretched rubber band—and left her feeling alone.
Ever since Taylor and Kaden had been together, there was always a reassurance that told them they were never alone. Never. But now that the bond had broken, Kaden felt no whisper of reassurance— Gaby had ruined it. She grew frantic as her attempts to reach Taylor failed.
Nothing.No feelings, no thoughts, just emptiness.
After recovering from the initial shock that their ties had been severed, Kaden could only feel a burning anger.
Whipping out her gun from behind her back, glad she had brought it out tonight after all, she raised the sight level with Gaby's face.
Gaby's laughter rang out, her frustration at failing to kill her with her Witch powers a first time melting away, "So that Native bitch's power saved you the first time, lucky you, but apparently it didn't save your fried brain. A gun?" she chuckled some more, "Mere steel won't harm me."
To her nose, that's what it would smell like, a normal metal hand gun that couldn't even boast silver bullets to poison a Were with, but it wasn't a normal gun. Gaby didn't even think to block and Kaden didn't think about the irony involved in killing Gaby with her own bespelled creation.
Kaden pulled out th egun, and without another word, pulled the trigger.
The bullet shone bright white, spiraling towards Gaby, hitting her square in the forehead. Her body fell to the ground, making a soft thump on the grass, her mouth open in horrified 'o', preparing for a scream that never reached past her lips.
Kaden looked down at the gun, it was warm, and heavy in her hands. She sighed, wiping sweat off her forehead. She was almost about to turn her back on Gaby's body when she was startled by a bright light out of the corner of her eye. A large blue electrical orb emerged from within Gaby and was making its way into the pendant Gaby still wore around her neck.
Kaden looked down at the necklace, wary, before aiming the gun and shooting the pendant into a million pieces.
The orb, now free and apparently not knowing what to do, quickly dashed into the next best host, and apparently, that was supposed to be inside Kaden.
"No, will not reconsider my actions! I'd lock him out again if I had to." Taylor had cornered Daren into the far end of the couch.
"I'm just saying, you should be flattered," He mumbled, no longer sure that anything he said was safe.
Taylor waved her hands at him in exasperation, "You just don't understand. Ugh, males!"
She felt the couch dip, signaling Kaden's return when Akira walked into the room, finally ready. They all rose as one quirky little pack and filed out the door, matching their steps with the speeded tempo of the music down the lane.
They had barely made it a block and a half before she, being on the end of their traveling line, was plucked into an open shed that rested on a front lawn. Slammed against a lawnmower was not part of her plans that night, she snarled her displeasure into the darkness.
"You can't go to a party without me," Mason's midnight voice soothed.
Taylor squinted to her right, her eyes not adjusting with the setting sun's rays filtering through the shed's open door. She snatched a hand through the air, coming up empty.
A chuckle rang though the air before it sound stilled. Taylor took a step backward to leave when her shoulders ran into a warm back. Arms wrapped around her, she twisted in it's hold, his hold.
"Can't you apologize like a normal person??" Taylor growled, still having trouble seeing his face because he was backlit in the opening of the door.
"Normalcy is overrated," he paused to stroke her cheek, "And I'm not apologizing."
Taylor pushed at his chest to make him leave the confining shadows of the shed, but was shocked at the abrupt yank and fall of their bodies. Sprawled on the lawn, Taylor took a moment to watch Kaden, Daren and Akira's small forms reach the end of the street and the party destination.
"May I accompany you--"
His voice drew her attention to him once more, "No, you may--!" She cut her tirade short at the blazing feralness of his eyes. As a honed reaction, she tried to spring away from him.
His eyes narrowed, forehead crinkling in displeasure, "Do I scare you?"
"Y-you? Nooo," she hoped spouting such blatant lies would placate him enough to persuade him to release her.
"I do," he spoke in wonder, dragging his finger along her jawline and down her throat.
"But it's not really me you're afraid of, is it?" he lowered his mouth to rest at the base of her throat. Taylor didn't respond so he continued on, "It's the wolf beneath…What happened to you?" He spoke breathlessly now, terrifying her.
"Well, you're a hypocrite." He playfully nipped her chin, and rose, carrying them both to their feet.
Shakily, she regained footing, and looking into his golden eyes, refused to say anything.
He grinned a wolfish smile, "I don't know how many times a dominant, pissed, She-Wolf is staring out of those pretty eyes. Besides," he went on, ignoring her shock, dragging her along, "You upset Us."
He was referring to his Wolf now. It was amazing the control he had, his Wolf being that close to the surface, yet his grip on her was so gentle, his tone so lucid.
"Locking me out like that, away from the Pack and you. Then the Wolf that knocked on the door…"
That grabbed her attention, "Nobody knocked."
"Well, he almost knocked…" Mason reluctantly admitted.
"Mason! What did you do?!" Taylor accused, barely aware they had reached the block party.
"He was sniffing around where he wasn't welcome." Mason averted his eyes from Taylor's angry face and focused on some food tables, "He wanted to "show you around". Psh, as if you couldn't navigate your way to a party this loud."
"Augh…" Taylor closed her eyes. So that was what had set him off. Made more sense now.
"Enough about that unfortunate incident, dance with me," Mason insisted with an endearing laugh at odds with his wolfish eyes.
Taylor eyed him with much speculation, resisting his pull a few seconds before finally giving in, "One dance…" she grumbled, her body already aching to bob to the upbeat tune blaring from the mini speakers perched on the surrounding trees.
He grinned in answer, pulling her out to the dark, red-cherry floor mats that made up the dance floor.
It wasn't until the second twirl from Mason that she sensed something was wrong from the bond.
Before she could voice her concern to Mason a blinding, white hot pain tore through her system, making her vision go black.
But her last thought wasn't concern for herself, it was for the friend she could no longer sense.
= Mason's Pov =
As Mason watched his desperation grew.
His mate was no longer writhing in pain—which was probably less terrifying than her stone-cold pose she had adopted now.
She hadn't moved after Mason had made the split decision to move her from the chaos that was once a dance floor, changing forms be damned. His hands still tingled from the nerve frying shock of electricity that passed through his hands the minute he touched her shoulders.
The next thing he knew, he was waking up in a bleak barricaded house with Akira standing over him, telling him that he had passed out after he had tried to pick up Taylor, so Akira brought them somewhere safe until Mason came around.
It seemed during his snooze, Taylor finally had decided on a form, opting for one with fur.
He stroked her side once, hoping for any sign that she could feel him, sense…something.
The battle raged on outside, making Akira and Daren hover outside the house as protectors. Mason could smell the panic of other WereFamilies seeking refuge, huddled in the back rooms.
Mason's eyes shot briefly to a crying WolverineWere pup, currently in his human form, his little brown eyes filled with tears as he clung to his mother's shirt. Mason had made a mental catalogue of all the animals in the room with him. He wasn't about to be caught unawares if some species got edgy and decided to lash out. Everyone was a potential threat right now.
A few lion cubs mingled with other young cats near a sofa, their reflective eyes wide in terror but refusing to breakdown into hysterics. Two foxes curled themselves in the corner, their red orange coats mirroring the color of the fire's glow filtering through the windows from outside.
There were more shots, making a pack, consisting of some hyenas, wild dogs, jackals, dingo, coyotes—and of course, wolves, yip and flinch under the dining room table.
All of the Weres around him were young and very few were accompanied by any parents of their own. But the beauty of the Sanctuary, other mothers, daughters, fathers, stepped up and tried to comfort foreign young.
A young lioness in human form, only sixteen if he had to guess, hissed her displeasure at his probing attention around the room. His wolf rose to the forefront and a growl burst from his lips, making him step between her and Taylor.
Half the Weres in the room jumped, shying away from what they thought would be bloodshed. The lioness backed down with a shiver, almost making him feel guilty.
Daren burst into the room, coated black by being so close to the smoke and ash, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Mason tried to keep his voice even and calm. He rose to his feet and swayed.
Daren was at his side at once steadying him, "Alpha, lie down, please. You're of no good to us in this condition, let alone if you get yourself killed."
He bristled, knocking Daren's hands away.
His condition? He was never in any damn hindering "condition" and he wasn't about to be useless now.
"No. We need to get out of here."
"We can't. We're surrounded, the most we can do is sit tight and kill as they invade."
"Surrounded?" Mason blinked, "By whom?"
"It seems some of the local wolves," Daren sneered the word as if he wasn't in the least bit related to the genus at the moment, "Leaked the girls' location and were waiting until ALL of us were in the same place to eliminate us."
"Basin and Kansas City. Competing packs for the female ownerships, Alpha."
Daren was being careful not to look into his eyes still.
Still, two packs shouldn't have been able to cause such damage.
"What aren't you telling me?" his tone changed to one of barely contained rage.
Daren hesitated, putting distance between them, "They've hired outside help."
He nodded. It was what he figured but why did this make Daren so jumpy?
"Which they have already been doing, considering all the strays we've caught prowling around Axel's. How many Weres did they employ?"
He stared at Daren for several heartbeats, "Pardon?"
"Magic carrying bitches." Akira growled from the open doorway, his arm cradled into his side, "And you haven't heard the best part. Guess whose leading it all?"
His heart was stinking as he suspected the answer, "…Gaby."
"Gaby." Daren nodded in confirmation.
Mason's mind whirled. How much did she know? She had been present at all their meetings, all their prisoner questionings. No wonder the bastards hadn't broken. It was either a snapped neck from them or some magical horror of a slow death from her late in the night.
Christ! She had even been a guard.
That was how wolves kept getting in Axel's perimeter so easily.
"No idea, but she's not in danger, YOU are. Gaby doesn't care about getting Kaden or Taylor. She's merely using that as an excuse to appease those packs in exchange for manpower. Persuading them that you won't concede and death is the only option. I wouldn't be surprised if she's arranged attacks at home too. With Axel and you gone and a coven to support her, she'd get what was left of both packs and rule the territories with no opposition."
"Then we need to find Kaden. Where Kaden is, so is Axel. We need to band together and stop her before this all goes to hell." Mason took a step forward.
"No you need to rest—" Daren was cut off by a feminine voice.
"Sorry Alpha," he didn't need to turn around to recognize it was Bree, "But this is for you own good."
He felt a sharp blow to the back of his head before his vision went dark for the second time in one day.
~ Taylor's Pov ~
Was this mutiny? …More importantly, why was she still alive? Her body wasn't in mind numbing pain anymore. That was a good sign.
She sniffed the air subtly, still keeping her eyes closed.
"Bree! I can't believe you just did that!" Daren chastised.
"Yeah, well, you know that he wasn't about to stay put and considering this was the first time out of nine others that he could actually understand you and wasn't screaming nonsense about her—"
Taylor could practically feel Bree's fiery gaze on her.
"What did you expect me to do? He kept passing out before he even got to the door. I figured it save him the trouble."
"Not funny." Daren growled.
"Its fine," Taylor recognized Akira's strained voice, "He needs to stay put anyways. There's no way he could fight right now and he wouldn't have listened to us."
"I'm switching guard duty. Daren, you take my post, I need to be where some action is. "
"Fine….besides the more distance we put between you and Mason when he wakes up the better."
Taylor waited what seemed like forever for the noise of footsteps to fade and the doors from the back and front of the house to close.
It was lucky to wake up in her Wolf form because she didn't think she had much energy to Change again. Inside, what little magic she had, rolled, a spiking beat still dancing in her head.
Opening her eyes, she attempted to stand. Weres of all breeds looked at her progress with unease, as if they could sense the magic her body leaked. With a shake of her head, her vision cleared. Putting one paw in front of another she realized that her body was more than fine. What used to be her bond felt…different. Taylor wasn't sure if this was how she used to feel before sharing a bond with Kaden but she didn't feel empty as she had when it first snapped. Maybe she had acclimated while she was out.
With a glance to the windows, she could make out Akira and Bree in the front lawn, alert and focused on the center of battle that was only a block from their doorstep.
Taylor's eyes next roved over Mason, who lay in an unmoving heap. Sorry, Mace…She felt her ears go back at the prospect of what she was about to do.
He had protected her and now she was going to abandon him.But she had to find Kaden.It comforted her to know that she left him in good hands at least…although Bree was questionable.
She turned to the audience she had gained since she had rose to her feet. Showing her teeth in the fiercest silent snarl she could muster, she felt good about making all in her company flinch further away from her—and more importantly, Mason.
Bounding down the hall and jumping through the back window, she thought she'd made it home free…until Daren's voice of alarm reached her ears.
With a snarl of annoyance, she poured on a burst of speed and twisted through the familiar back alleys. She recognized where she was now, only two blocks from the awful purple office.
"Taylor!" Daren called from behind her. He was losing ground, at a severe disadvantage because she was in her Wolf form and he was not.
I'm sorry Daren, I have to find her.
..::. Kaden's POV .::.
Kaden placed the gun back against the small of her back, and knelt down to Gaby's level, placing two fingers on her wrist. She was definitely dead.
Kaden was indifferent as she took this chance to search Gaby's body for anything that might be useful. She wasn't sure if Gaby had been a part of the ongoing raid or not, but as she searched her pockets the only thing produced was a small red stone.
Before she could figure out what to do with it, Kaden's decision was made for her as she heard a group of voices, freezing her on the spot.
"I heard the shot this way!"
Kaden jumped to her feet as she heard people coming closer, and bolted for the backdoor of the horrible pink office, simultaneously sliding the stone into her pocket.
She reached the door and tried to give the doorknob a twist, realizing with dread that it was locked. Kaden wiped her damp brow on the back of her hand while debating if she could just knock the damn thing down, she rejected that idea as too noisy and conspicuous as she went around the side of the house.
Luck finally being on her side, she spotted a small window big enough for her to squeeze through. Hoping the window was unlocked, she ran for it. Kaden could have leapt for joy to see the glass slide up so easily, only a screen covering the frame.
Popping the frame out with a single jab, she leapt through the opening, expecting for an easy landing, but instead her shoelace caught hold of a piece of splintered wood making up the old window frame, sending her off balance.
Landing with a loud thud on the hard wood floor, she rolled with the fall and went into a low crouch. She crept through the dark room, now seeing that it was some kind of staff lounge, and out into the lobby. Prowling into the next closest room down the hall, she closed the door while praying no one had heard her.
Taking a deep breath, she leaned her head against the door, listening as the battle raged on outside. If she had any idea what was going on, she would probably be out there fighting alongside Axel, or one of the other Wolves that had waltzed into her life, but she didn't even know who was fighting, or even who the enemy was. For all she knew, another "friend" of theirs could have pulled a "Lucas" and betrayed them again.
With a wary sigh Kaden pushed herself off of the tile floor, and flipped on the light switch, illuminating a small, elegant restroom.
She grabbed a few lilac hand towels and stuffed them into the door crack to block out any outgoing light. Taking stock of the damage done to her body—she couldn't feel the palms of her hands, and her back throbbed from having been thrown backwards on it, but otherwise no major injuries.
Her shirt and jeans, however, hadn't boded so well. They had big burn holes perforating them, and her boots had no soles.
Thinking it was better to go barefoot, she took her shoes off.Her clothes however, she'd have to deal with.
Wanting to refresh herself a little, she turned on the faucet, letting the water run until it got cold. As she reached down to scoop up some water to splash on her face, she jumped back as a blue electrical discharge left her hands and traveled into the water's stream before she made contact with it.
Slowly she reached for the water again, and the tips of her fingers lit up with what Kaden had to conclude was an some sort of electric current flowing from her insides.
With a pause, staring at her outstretched hands, she sighed warily, "You just HAD to blow that damn necklace into the afterlife, didn't you Kaden?"
With a sudden hardening resolve she didn't know she had, Kaden stuck her hands in the water.
No shock, no pain—nothing. A light still drifted from her hands and traveled through the water, like a harmless illuminating flashlight.
Kaden's heart was beating a mile a minute from the adrenaline rush she'd just induced. Ecstatic she hadn't died from electrocution, she splashed her face with the icy water, helping cooling her nerves a bit. She was still chuckling as she bent over the sink, not believing the situation she was in, when a loud crash shook the little house.
Turning off the light, she forced open the towel barricaded door and crept back out into the hallway only to find that the soul shaking crash had been a body tearing through the walls. Connor's body.
Kaden ran to him, seeing that he was bleeding from a wound on his thigh where he had been staked by a piece of wood from the house.
She grabbed his face between her hands, "Oh shit, oh shit Connor…Connor wake up!" She slapped him lightly on the cheek.
"Come out and play pup, I ain't done with you yet," Came a taunt from just beyond the hole in the wall.
Grabbing a hold of Connor, she dragged him back to the open restroom door with her, before proceeding to turn and lock it, hopefully slowly whatever happened to blast Connor through the wall in the first place.
She propped him up against a wall and turned to the sink, opened the faucet, and splashed him with water, "Connor! Wake the hell up, man!"
Connor's eyes snapped opened startled, "Kaden?"
"Connor! You okay?" She asked, giving him a slight shake as his eyes started to drift close again.
He placed a hand on her shoulder, eyes still resolutely closed, "Are you daft? Stop shaking me, it's giving me a bloody migraine."
Kaden smiled, "Guess you're ok."
"I'm aware sweetheart, I'm still alive, eh?"
"You're welcome for that." Kaden mused, reaching towards the stake.
"Thanks sugar," he replied, as he pushed her hand away, smirking up at Kaden, "Though you have to know, since you two came into our lives, thing have got a bit dodgy."
Kaden looked away, shamed, sitting back against the opposite wall. "What do you know about all this?" she gestured about the warring outside world, but as he opened his mouth to reply, the door blew up into a million pieces.
A tall, slender man stood on the other side. Around his neck hung a pendant that looked exactly like Gaby's.
Which wasn't good news for them. Not good news, at all.
"You're the filthy dog that killed our leader? Give it back, and I may spare your life." He said in a calm voice.
Kaden looked back at Connor, and then at the man, "The hell are you talking about?"
Kaden's wolf was in a frenzy, she wanted to run as far from this man as she could, but Connor was injured, and the only exit was blocked. She worked hard to see past her wolf's panic,"I… don't have it. It's been destroyed."
The man's eyes bulged before his composure fell and he stuck his hand out towards them, the sudden act made Kaden flinch and put her hands up in a purely instinctive manner to protect her face, and in the process lightning erupted from her open palms, striking the tall man square in the chest.
She fell back as a blinding show of light engulfed the room, and just like that, abated. It left Kaden and Connor momentarily blind but the tall man was nowhere to be seen.
"What the hell was that? Are you a part of the damn coven attacking us?" Connor angrily growled at Kaden, making her flinch.
"No! I don't know what it is! It just kinda' happened!"
Connor made a good show of smelling the air for the sour smell of lies, before calming down a degree.
"Now, what's going on out there?" She asked him again, as she slowly scooted next to him, and started working on removing the stake.
He closed his eyes tightly and ground his teeth as she tenderly removed the stake from his upper tight, "Gaby wants Kansas and Basin pack territories. She bribed t-" Before he could continue, a low growl erupted from his throat as the stake left his leg with a spurt of blood. He looked up at her not with his usual sky blue eyes, but with dark red eyes.
"Shhh, it's okay Connor." She said soothingly, as she tore a piece of his shirt off and bandages the leg.
He let out a soft moan, and rested his head against the cool sink, "I never should have left London."
Kaden chuckled, "C'mon, we have to find Axel." She pulled him up.
He growled and snatched his arm out of her grasp, "I'm fine..."
Kaden rolled her eyes, mumbling about males and their pride as she slowly made her way out of the restroom, and out of the horribly pink house.
The fight was still intense; everyone's faces made an ocean of chaos, until one face with brightly blue hair stood out, yelling for her.
"Kaden! Help me! Please!" The young Lynx screamed and trashed against her captor.
Kaden started to go after Cleo and her captor, but Connor beat her to it. The Australian was a very skilled fighter, he got Cleo free from her captor, and the smart girl bolted for Kaden.
"Kaden! Kaden!" She said as she slammed against her in a tight hug.
"What's going on?" She asked, mid sob.
Kaden looked down at the Baby-Were, her mascara running down her face, "Kid I don't know, but when i find out who—" Was all Kaden was able to say before an anguished, cry cut across the sky.
Kaden's looked up just in time to see Daren fall to the ground in the distance, motionless...
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 03.04.2011
Alle Rechte vorbehalten