We should have heard something by now. Luna huffs as I scrub dishes in the kitchen sink. After a simple dinner and a quick bath, Lila curled up on the sofa to watch her favorite show while I clean up. It‘s amazing how unfazed she is by the sudden change in scenery and my undoubtedly tense energy.
No news is good news. I tell my wolf, focusing on the glass in my hand. Especially when it comes to Bastien.
He‘s going to be furious, you know. She cautions, not sounding the least bit concerned,
That only matters if he finds us. I remind her coolly.
Oh he will. Luna remarks smugly, he always will.
You know you‘re supposed to be on my side, I complain.
I am.I want what‘s best for you. She adds. Bastien is what‘s best
1 throw my hands up in exasperation, sending water and suds flying. You‘re impossible.
And you‘re in denial.
A giggle sounds from behind me. “You made a mess, Mommy”
Turning to find my young daughter standing behind me watching my temper tantrum, rather than safely ensconced in the couch cushions, I paste on a smile. “You‘re right.” I agree. “Mommy did make a mess.”
“Have to clean up your messes.” She advises sagely. “That‘s the rule.”
I adopt a pitiful pout. “You don‘t want to clean it for me?”
The little tyrant puts her foot down. “Uh–uh, your sponsibilty.”
Throwing my head back with a dramatic groan, I surrender. “Fiiiinnnee.”
Lila‘s giggling again. The sweet sound is music to my ears, the perfect balm for the stress of reuniting with Bastien.
I‘m still reeling, and beginning to think I‘ll never stand on solid ground again. What am I supposed to do now? My entire life is in Asphodel: my business, my friends, Lila‘s playmates and babysitters.
I can‘t pretend life in the Eros pack has been perfect – far from it. The wolves here were distrustful of me from the beginning. They saw only a halfling; a single mother who seemingly had the future Alpha wrapped around her finger. The she–wolves hated me, and the men wouldn‘t go near me for fear of angering Drake.
Things got a little better after I opened the cafe. Good food and regular interactions convinced people I was not an incurable outcast, and once I made it clear I had no designs on becoming the Alpha‘s consort, I was practically accepted as one of the pack.
But fitting in and belonging are two very different things. There are times I find Asphodel truly enchanting; during the equinox festivals when bonfires are set afloat through the canals, or when the marsh freezes in winter, and the entire wetlands become a giant skating rink. If nothing else, this place will always be special to me because it is where Lila was born and spent her first years, not to mention where I found my independence.
Yet deep down I know it isn‘t the place I‘m meant to be. I am a mountain wolf, made for evergreen forests and fresh alpine air. Asphodel‘s sprawling mangroves are not my element, no matter how enchanting the glittering lagoons, soothing tides, and bountiful wildlife may be.
In secret i pine for Elysium. Despite every terrible memory the city holds for me, there is no denying one‘s true nature, and mine yearns for home.
I think you‘re forgetting something, princess. Luna interjects. You‘re not really a Nova wolf. You‘re a Calypso, remember?
Rolling my eyes, I brush off her quip. Same difference, I was born and raised there.
That‘s one explanation. She purrs. Would you like to hear another?
I don‘t even have to think about it. No.
Unsurprisingly, she ignores me. You don’t miss Elysium, you miss your mate.
Oh put a sock in it already.
The attack is as brutal as it is ill–planned. Cavanaugh‘s wolves descend on me like a pack of rabid dogs, but they‘re no match for Aiden, Donavon and me. It‘s disgraceful really, that the Alpha should set his men on us without joining the fight himself. Not 10 mention the complete lack of sportsmanship in setting 12 wolves upon 3.
Cavanaugh leaves before the fight is over, either heading for Selene or just seeking to escape the brawl. In truth, I‘m astonished by his behavior. I always liked Drake, at least, I thought I did. I‘ve never seen this side of him before, and never imagined he would be a threat to my relationship with Selene.
He‘s certainly handsome enough, but he‘s Alpha of a far weaker pack and no great protector. Drake‘s greatest asset is his brain – not that there‘s anything wrong with that, it simply isn‘t enough when it comes to leading shifters.
When did Selene and Drake even have occasion to form such a friendship? Wasn‘t my father‘s birthday the first time they met? Is it possible he could have been the man she described being in love with since she was a child? I suppose it‘s possible, but if that was the case, why aren‘t they together now?
I continue running through the possibilities as the Eros wolves mount a fresh assault with reinforcements from a lower floor. Frankly, the fact that I‘m able to perform my mental gymnastics amidst a b****y fight only goes to show how mismatched we are to our opponents.
Once the floor is littered with unconscious wolves, my Betas and I depart the Pack House with great haste. Selene fled hours ago, she could be hundreds of miles away by now.
“How the hell are we going to find her?” | breathe.
With a truly devious grin, Aiden pulls a sleek black cell phone from his pocket. “How much do you want to bet Selene‘s phone is set to share her location with Cavanaugh?”
“How did you get that?” Donavon asks in astonishment.
“The a*****e was so distracted insulting you, he forgot he left his phone on his desk.” My friend laughs, “Even if they don‘t have location sharing activated, the number is enough to track it as long as it‘s turned on.”
“How soon can we get into it?” I question, my voice gruff from excitement rather than anger.
“It‘s already done.” His fangs gleam in the fading sunlight, “For a smart guy, he‘s not very good at shielding his screen when he enters his passcode.”
A wave of pure pride and sweet relief washes over me. I grab Aiden by the shoulders, shaking him excitedly. “I could kiss you!”
He shrugs me off with a chuckle,“save that for your mate.”
Four hours, and still no word from Drake.
Part of me worries that something‘s happened to him, after all the text I received promised further instructions would be provided once we were here. Surely Bastien wouldn‘t have killed him. I worry in my head, killing another Alpha would mean taking over their pack. It‘s not something one takes lightly, even at the height of passion.
I would feel safer if I could disconnect my phone, but that would make it impossible for Drake to reach me. And anyway, it‘s not like Bastien has my phone number. Unless of course he killed Drake and took his phone. Luna suggests,
“Oh god.” I whisper, glancing down at Lila to make sure the quiet words didn‘t wake her. We‘re lying on the couch and she‘s sound asleep, stretched out on top of me like a ragdoll. The television plays on low in the baokground, doubtless the only sound for miles
f****d away in the silent hills between Eros and Vega territory, the safehouse is so well hidden I had a hard time finding it even with directione While I appreciate that being so remote makes it more difficult to find, I‘m painfully aware that the seclusion also F ans there‘s nowhere to run and no one to hear your screams if it is discovered. Well aren‘t you just a little ray of sunshine? Luna
Well forgive me if bounties on our heads and vendetta–mad Alphas haven‘t put me in a particularly cheerful mood. I bite back.
Oh relax, Luna grouses, he‘s almost here anyway.
“What?!” This time my voice does wake Lila, since I all but screamed in her little ear. She looks up at me in bleary–eyed confusion and I want nothing more than to soothe her and send her back to sleep, but Luna‘s words have to take precedence. What in the Goddess‘s name are you talking about? I hiss.
Can‘t you feel him? She inquires nonchalantly. I sensed his wolf more than two minutes ago.
How close does he have to be for you to sense hi
Before I can get the thought out, a car door slams outside, followed by three sets of heavy footsteps. I jolt to my feet, carrying Lila with me and looking frantically around the safehouse. It‘s an open floorplan and clearly not intended for more than one person to inhabit, given the only room with walls and a door is the bathroom
Deciding I‘d rather keep Lila close to me than trying to hide her, I dart into the far corner, pushing her small body behind me and whispering, “We‘re going to play a game now, sweetheart. You have to be very quiet and very still. Pretend you‘re a statue, can you do that for me?”
She opens her mouth to answer but I hold up a finger to my lips, and she purses her lips tight, nodding in agreement. “Good girl.”
The front door was locked and deadbolted, but it only takes Bastien and his Betas a moment to break past those defenses. My heart thunders in my chest, galloping and stalling in turn, unsure whether to be excited or terrified. It‘s not so difficult with Luna and I, it‘s definitely clear which one of us is happy to see him and which is petrified.
As Bastien towers in the doorway, his silver eyes glowing with barely contained fury, I realize it‘s all over. Everything I‘ve worked for these past three years is already lost; every tear I‘ve shed and sacrifice I‘ve made has all been for nothing.
I‘ve done everything I can to avoid ever finding myself in this precise situation, but in the end, I still landed right here: trapped in a corner, with nowhere to run.