One week–one entire week of planning out escape routes, defensive strategies, and safe evacuations. Getting through the week, knowing Lola was in constant danger, was the hardest thing I had endured since becoming Alpha.
Each minute I felt the absence of the mind-link between us, was another minute I became closer to losing my sh*t.
The day Lola turned herself over to her father, Zeke found me in my office. Most of the furniture was destroyed, scattered along the room with shreds of paperwork.
None of it mattered. Not the paperwork detailing potential treaties and alliances, nor the computer–which held countless emails between other Alpha’s in need of assistance.
Zeke was the only one I told, the only person other than my Beta and Lola, who had my full trust. Zeke and my Beta managed to gain my attention, setting me straight before I leveled the house. There was nothing I could do at this point, but prepare for the inevitable. Lola had her mission, and I had mine.
In between scouting safe places for the townspeople to evacuate to, I took the time to break the news to Lola’s family. Lola had asked that I told them the truth once she was far away, as she already knew how her Dad would react.
Her Dad turned an interesting shade of red, undoubtedly feeling the same helpless anger I felt. Sean placed a hand on his Dad’s shoulder, keeping him sitting in the recliner.
“You let her turn herself in?” Lola’s Dad sputtered, the red in his face spread down to his neck. “What kind of f**king mate are you? Do you have any regard for my daughter’s life?”
“Calm down.” Lola’s Grandma snapped, silencing her son with a harsh look.
Lola’s Grandma reminded me of my Aunt Kira. Quick to step into an argument, but also quick to shut it down. I learned from Lola that her Grandma had an uncanny ability to sniff out bullsh*t and lies. She reminded me of someone I had once met, someone I had long forgotten.
It was a brief encounter, but the woman looked eerily similar to Lola’s Grandma. There was no way I had met Lola’s Grandma before. Lola told me her Grandma lived in a small cottage in the forest, hundreds of miles away.
The woman I had met was in my hometown, two days journey from where I stood. Regardless, I couldn’t help but briefly wonder if Lola’s Grandma had any relation to the stranger I met–the one who knew too much.
“You’re sticking up for him?” Lola’s Dad scoffed, “He let Lola go, Ma. Let her walk into the enemy’s hands. Do you have any idea what they could do to her–what he could do to her?”
“I know very well what could happen, not that I need to remind you.” Lola’s Grandma scolded her son. “Since when have we been able to stop Lola from doing anything? What makes you think her own mate could control her?”
That got Lola’s Dad to quiet down. Some of the redness faded from his face, and he let out an irritated grunt. Lola’s Grandma flashed me a smile, but I couldn’t miss the pride burning in her eyes.
She knew what Lola had sacrificed. She knew why Lola had left, even though no one had told her. Seeing the pride and absolute trust in her Grandma’s eyes solidified my own strength. I trusted Lola, and there was no one else better equip to help us all–to help rule this pack at my side.
I spent my days neck deep in work, never once taking a break for myself. Any time I had for myself was spent thinking of Lola, searching down the length of our ironclad bond for any whisper of her voice. Each day without her, rattled my insides, making me realize how much I had come to depend on her.
I promised myself, the day I got her home, I would name her Luna and complete the ceremony at her side. I wouldn’t stop until my people, and my mate, were safe.
Breyona and Giovanni made it back onto pack territory shortly after Lola’s surrender. I was surprised her Father had actually lived up to his word, as I had no expectations when it came to him. Giovanni and Breyona hid in her Aunt’s old house, giving me a call when they had made it safely.
The pack was still unaware of Giovanni’s presence, a problem I would face when Lola was safe and by my side. Anger pulsed through me when Giovanni could give me no information on their whereabouts.
The sooner I could get Lola out of there, the better. Giovanni insisted her Father had changed locations as soon as he heard of his betrayal. While he couldn’t give me Lola’s current location, he did give me the location of their previous base.
Hope blossomed in my chest when Lola flooded my mind one night. I couldn’t hear her voice, but I could feel her lingering in my mind. It was the first time I had felt Lola since she turned herself in to her Father. I sat upright in bed; my eyes wide as I scanned the dark.
Absentmindedly, my hand wandered to her side of the bed, and I swore I could feel her right beside me.
My wolf snarled in outrage when I heard they had put silver cuffs around her wrists, though I expected nothing less. I cleared the overwhelming anger and worry from my mind and focused on what Lola was saying. Another act that was unbearably hard.
All I wanted to do was soothe her pain, the anxiety I felt radiating down the bond. She was safe, for now–that was what mattered. The information she gave me would be the tipping point of this battle, it would change everything. I could only pray that her Father’s plans hadn’t changed.
Two days wasn’t much time to evacuate the town and surrounding land, but it was enough. I put out the mind-link immediately, telling every non-warrior family to begin leaving. I had all of the families in town pack their most important belongings days ago, hoping to speed up the process during evacuation.
I hauled myself from bed and threw on a t-shirt and some jeans, knowing tonight I would go without sleep. Zeke and my Beta appeared in the kitchen a few minutes later, looking as ruffled and tired as I did.
Zeke, Bran, and my Beta attended to many of the families leaving, and helped those who stayed behind wishing to fight. I found myself heading over to Lola’s Dad’s house, determined to get them far from the fight. Lola would never forgive me if I let her stubborn Dad stay in the pack.
Unsurprisingly, her Grandma managed to convince her Dad to leave, while Sean stayed behind. After a stern conversation with Lola’s Dad, telling me to protect his son and daughter, they left the house.
The town was all but vacant when the sun began to rise. The only people left in town were warriors, dispersed between houses and hotels. I gathered everyone to the Northern side of town, leaving a small group behind to attack from the back.
The small group would remain hidden until the Vampire King’s troops arrived, and until the fight began. I found myself walking the nearly deserted streets, marveling at the dreadful silence that filled the town. Even without the many families that lived here, the entire town was holding its breath.
The houses and stores, the offices and schools–it was all waiting, waiting to see the outcome. Would these buildings still be standing after this fight? Would the town and its rich history be preserved if we lost? What of the families who spent countless generations in this town? What would they come back to if we lost?
What ate at me the most, was knowing I would be the one to give the final call. All of those families would be waiting, waiting for the outcome of this battle. I would be the one to tell them if we won or lost. I could only hope, that if we lost, I could get the message out before I died.
Just as the sun settled in the sky, I called out to Sean and Mason, telling them to meet me at the pack house. I wanted nothing more than to leave this pack, to head to the location Lola gave me and storm the damn warehouse. My muscles were tense, my body rigid, as I fought the urge to reclaim what was mine. As much as I hated it, Lola was right.
The pack needed their Alpha fighting by their side. I wouldn’t make the same decision Tyler made. If my pack were to die, I would stand with them until the end, and I knew Lola would do the same. Heeding Lola’s words, I sent a group of my most talented warriors to her aid. I sent Sean and Mason as well, giving Lola familiar faces.
I wasn’t sure what she had endured during her time with her Father, but I could only hope Sean and Mason would remind her of what awaited.
Once the sun began to dip in the sky, most of the warriors headed to the Northern side of town. There was a small grassy area just outside of the forest line, and I hoped we could keep the brunt of the fight there. The least amount of damage to the town, the better.
Apart from quiet murmurs, a thick sense of foreboding lingered in the air. It felt like the entire town was holding its breath. Each empty house, school, and store were waiting–waiting to see if they’d still be standing come morning.
I had sent a small group of scouts into the forest, telling them to remain hidden at all costs. Their job was solely to alert us when the Vampire King’s forces trudged through the forest.
An hour after arriving at the battle site, Sean and Mason mind-linked me.
‘We’ve got her, Alpha.’ Sean spoke through the mind-link, and I let out a long breath I didn’t know I had been holding.
The tension from this week left my shoulders, making me feel lighter. The sensation was short lived as Mason chimed in, his voice thick with suspicion and irritation.
‘There’s been a change of plans.’ Mason grunted, ‘She’s making us take Tristan with her, and some girl she’s calling her sister.’
A ripple of anger pulsed through me at the mention of the Vampire’s name. Tristan had done nothing but attempt to weasel his way into Lola’s heart–and pants, all while working for her Father. I might not have deserved Lola, but Tristan was far from ever being worthy of her.
‘If we can’t trust our mate, who can we trust?’ My wolf chimed in. Usually, my wolf was quick to anger, but the trust he held in Lola was unbreakable. As much as he hated Tristan, he trusted that Lola made the right decision.
Gritting my teeth together until my jaw ached, I stifled the anger that pulsed through me. I had a million and one questions running through my mind, none of which I could have answered at the moment.
If we lived, I’d get those answers. I had a sneaking suspicion Lola’s information came from Tristan, and wondered what side the Vampire had finally chosen. If the information he gave Lola was wrong, and this was all a set up, I would make it my mission to end his life first.
‘Trust Lola, Mason.’ I hardened my voice, but refrained from using an Alpha command. I had never needed to use one before, and I wasn’t planning on it now. Taking away someone’s free will was a good way to lose their loyalty.
Before I could say more, I felt the flicker of the bond in my mind. Lola’s presence was faint, but I could feel it.
After a week of feeling nothing on her end, I could detect even the faintest trace of Lola in my mind. The memory of her scent wrapped around me, chasing away every emotion other than grim determination. We would see each other again, after this battle was won.
‘Lola! Lola, are you there?’ I called out to her, willing the bond to strengthen, willing her to heal from the silver that blocked out connection. ‘I can feel you. The bond–it’s faint, but I can feel it.’
Another voice echoed through my mind, one that made my muscles tense and my wolf snarl. The scouts I had sent into the forest had news. The Vampires were coming, heading from the North, just as Lola had said.
‘We see them, Alpha.’ One of the warrior’s voices flooded my head, pushing Lola’s to the side. ‘Three minutes away.’
The small group of warriors I had sent into town confirmed the same. The Vampire King’s troops were on the move, pushing through town and heading North.
What interested me the most, was that one of the warriors swore they saw the Vampire King in the midst of his own troops. The warrior wasn’t certain, as he had never seen the man in person before, but noted how the other Vampire’s seemed to form a barrier around the man–deeming him important.
‘Circle around and come back here. I don’t want any of you getting stuck behind them.’ I told the warrior, and ended the mind-link.
‘I’m here! Asher, I’m here!’ She called out after a few moments of silence. Her voice was quiet, like she was shouting down a long hallway, but it still managed to make my stomach clench and my heart flutter. ‘Did something happen? What’s wrong?’
‘Everyone was evacuated safely.’ I told her, ‘Wherever you got your information from, they were right. Your Father’s men came from the North. The rest are moving through town, trying to ambush us. They’re here, Lola. The war is starting.’
I had seen many battles as a teenager, and as a young Alpha–but I had never seen war. The second the Vampires cleared the forest line; all hell broke loose. I had just a split second to watch the realization dawn in the Vampires eyes before they all charged forward, a sea of dark clothing and the sly glint of a silver blade.
The sound of torn clothing filled the air as many of the warriors shifted into their wolf forms. Some decided to stay in human form until the last moment, while others shifted and barreled into the Vampire’s. As the Werewolves and Vampire’s clashed on the feild, the sound rang out into the night.
I locked eyes with Zeke, who was normally care-free and playful, but held a similar look of determination on his face. I called my wolf forward, and within seconds, was on four feet. Shifting had always come naturally for me, even during my first time.
I locked eyes with Zeke’s wolf, and an unspoken understanding settled over us. We’d go where the fight was at its worst, the thickest and bloodiest part.
Time seemed to slow as Zeke and I barreled through the crowd, dodging Werewolves and slashing at Vampires. Zeke let out a howl as his claws slashed through the chest and neck of a Vampire, nearly severing its head. The sharp tang of blood filled the air within seconds, and each Werewolf body littering the ground was a wound in my chest.
‘Asher?’ Lola’s voice filled my mind, bringing on a wave of strength that pushed me through a group of Vampires that had huddled together. ‘Where are you?’
I groaned inwardly, but I had expected as much. Some small part of me hoped Lola would have some sense and seek shelter with Breyona and Giovanni.
Somehow, I knew she would come and fight. She wouldn’t leave my side, just as I wouldn’t leave hers. It filled me with both love and irritation.
‘In the middle of it all, where else?’ I smirked, my heart stuttering at the sound of her distant giggle.
While fighting and watching Zeke’s back, I spotted Lola barreling through the crowd. I had given her sh*t in the beginning, but I found myself in awe of how she moved. Her wolf was larger than most, but held a sort of grace that most lacked. She was an expert at evading an attack, and missed the swipe of a silver blade from countless Vampires.
A chuckle ran through me as I remembered when we first met, and how frustrated she had been when we fought during training. We were equals, even from the beginning, just as it should be.
‘Where’s Breyona and Giovanni?’ She shouted through the mind-link, her bright eyes meeting my own. Lola rolled to the side, narrowly missing the swipe of a silver blade. ‘Are my Dad and Grandma safe?’
‘Breyona and Giovanni, at her Aunt’s place. Your Dad put up a fight, but he’s far from town with your Grandma.’ I replied, keeping my words short as two Vampire’s lunged at me. One of the Vampire’s was larger than most humans, broad shoulders with thick, tree-trunk arms.
The large Vampire grinned at me, showing a set of bloody teeth. His companion was much smaller, a female with an even happier look on her face.
They were enjoying this, I found myself scoffing at them both. I lunged at the big one first, determined to knock him off his feet. Even with the Vampire’s enhanced speed and strength, they were no match for me.
Werewolves were stronger than Vampire’s, it was what kept us alive for thousands of years. Our animalistic side worked with us, supported us–while a Vampire’s animalistic side controlled them, made them eternally bloodthirsty.
As I dodged the smaller Vampire, I felt a silver blade graze my ankle. The pain was brief, and my wound healed fairly quickly. Little did they know, it would take more than a thin slice to bring me pain. I let out a dry laugh as I charged at the two Vampire’s, feigning left and sinking my teeth into the female’s throat.
I tossed her body aside and watched as the larger Vampire screamed in outrage. His bloody teeth gnashed together, while his dark eyes burned murderously. I couldn’t muster up a single ounce of guilt as I realized I had killed the Vampire’s mate.
The loss made the Vampire frantic, swiping wildly with the silver blade clutched in his meaty hand. It was all too easy to disarm him, watching the knife become engulfed in the long tendrils of grass that spanned the field. As I sank my teeth into his neck, severing his head from his body, I sent him back into the arms of his mate.
As I turned on the nearest Vampire, a strange feeling came over me. Unbridled warmth flooded my veins along with a sickly feeling of panic. My eyes found Lola on their own, as if they knew the feeling was coming from her.
She was on the ground, writhing in the grass. Loud whines escaped her muzzle, and the hair on her body began to thin. She was going into heat, I realized. A snarl echoed through me, ringing out into the night, registering with every wolf nearby.
I charged forward, barreling through two Vampires who turned to attack. I couldn’t get to her in time, that much I knew. The two Vampire’s I barreled into joined a third, and all three of them approached me.
As I fought against the three Vampire’s, I noticed Mason protecting Lola, who had shifted back into human form. She was bare as she laid in the grass, her arms tightly wound around her torso. An echo of pain ran through me, along with a rush of longing so intense, it wavered my own concentration.
‘We need to get her out of here.’ My wolf snarled, ‘I won’t be able to hold back for long.’
The urge to claim her was overwhelming, spurred on by the other wolves around us. Each one would catch her scent; each one would fight at the chance to mate with her.
‘Get her out of here, Sean.’ I snapped through the mind-link. Sean held Lola in his arms, moving through the crowd of Vampire’s and Werewolves with wary eyes. ‘I can smell her from over here. Take her somewhere safe, just get her out of here.’
It took every ounce of my concentration not to snarl at the wolves glancing her way. Not only was I worried about my mate, but I was also worried for the warriors in my pack.
Lola would serve as a distraction, one that would cost many lives. It was best to get her out of here, to find somewhere safe, despite what my instincts were telling me.
‘Mason and Ethan, shield them both.’ I snarled, ‘Watch their backs until they get away.’
Mason and Ethan charged over, surrounding Sean as they moved through the battle field. I watched as Ethan’s wolf stiffened, baring its teeth at Sean and Mason.
Before he could take a step forward, I shouted through the mind-link. I used just a shred of my power as an Alpha, just enough to get through the haze that had become Ethans mind.
‘Ethan, if you touch her–I f**king swear, I will kill you.’ I promised, ‘Sean, take her to Breyona. She’ll be safe there.’
My words seemed to register in Ethan’s mind, and his stiffened posture relaxed. Ethan threw himself at a nearby Vampire, one that had noticed the small party moving through the crowd. I watched the tension leave each werewolf as Sean carried Lola off the battlefield and out of sight.
The fight resumed at full force, the wolves ripping through Vampire’s left and right. I turned my eyes away from the werewolves that had fallen and pushed forward, stopping when I found who I was looking for.
Standing at the center of a circle of Vampire’s, was Lola’s Father. I couldn’t be sure it was him, but who else would the Vampire’s protect so vehemently? His hair was the color of night, his eyes a startling shade of blue, just like Lola’s.
I could see her features mirrored in his face, and wondered how my beautiful mate had come from someone like that. The Vampire’s that circled him tore down wolves left and right, all while keeping their King–their master, safe.
The Vampire King’s crystal eyes locked on me, feeling my heated stare burn into his skin. A serpentine smile formed on his face, stretching the taught skin on his face.
He was pale–horribly so, and his skin reminded me of old, worn leather. Somehow, he still managed to look young, but his eyes burned with malicious intent.
Zeke stood close by, and I flashed him a hard look that I hoped he would understand. I nodded towards the Vampire King, growling when Zeke nodded his head. I needed him to cover me, to help me disable the Vampire’s surrounding Lola’s Father.
Any one of my warriors had the right to kill him, but I wanted that honor. It sounded horrible, murdering my mate’s Father–but the man was not family, he was a monster.
I had never been fond of Vampires, but my hatred never spanned as far as Bran’s. With Lola at my side, I knew that being a Vampire was as much a part of her as being a Werewolf.
She couldn’t have one without the other, and I accepted that fact wholly. Things would change if we won this battle, and I could only hope they would change for the better.
With that thought in mind, and the image of my beautiful mate seared into me, I charged the Vampire King and the group of warriors that surrounded him.
With Zeke at my side, we dodged stray Vampire’s, jumped over fighting wolves, and barreled into the circle of Vampires that surrounded Lola’s Father.
I took two down with ease, while Zeke took down one. Our presence on the battle feild was noticed. Warriors looked to their Alpha’s, seeing the importance of the person the Vampires were protecting.
Bran charged forward, snapping and snarling as he took out another one of the Vampire King’s defenses. Left and right, the Vampire’s began to fall, but not without loss of our own.
I faced Lola’s Father, seeing the calculated malice on his face as he realized the war was nearing its end, and that he was standing on the losing side. A familiar cold front passed over me, chilling me to the bone, sending liquid ice rushing through my veins. The night seemed to grow darker, the shadows gathered at the edge of the forest eagerly. None of the other werewolves seemed to notice, but I couldn’t ignore the pulsing shadows that twitched with anticipation.
I charged forward, skidding across the grass as Lola’s Father dodged my attack. Zeke and Bran ran forward, both aiming for the Vampire King.
The attack gave me enough time to run forward, taking advantage of the distraction. I could hear the shadows hushed whispers, and knew we were running out of time.
Just as the Vampire King opened his mouth to speak, Zeke dove forward, clipping his leg. The Vampire King fell to one knee, his lips moving as he stared at the gathering shadows.
I wasted no time, darting forward and sinking my teeth into his flesh. My heart hammered with each dull thud of the Vampire King’s heart, with each pulse of blood that squirted from his wound.
Zeke and Bran latched onto one of his legs, pulling one way as I pulled another. The sound of tearing flesh filled the air, and I watched as the Vampire King’s head rolled across the grass, his blue eyes shining smugly.
The shadows that gathered along the forest line darted forward, slithering across the grass until they reached the corpse of the Vampire King. Zeke and Bran’s eyes widened as they too saw the slippery tufts of shadow that inched forward.
The shadows descended on the Vampire King’s body, stealing every droplet of blood that stained the earth, leaving behind emerald grass in its place.
The Vampire King was dead, and the remaining Vampires seemed to notice their leader’s absence. One by one they stopped; hands raised in surrender. Zeke, Bran and I sent out a mind-link to our troops. The war was over, the fighting was finally finished, and we had won.
Each wolf lifted their head to the night sky, the full moon our beacon of light, and unleashed a deafening howl into the sky. Even with the joy and sorrow of victory pulsing through our veins, I couldn’t shake the icy feeling that lingered in my bones, the feeling that told me I had been too late.