Authors: Noelle Blakely
“Where did you get all this?” Alex demanded.
“Let’s just say that I have some military connections and
leave it at that.” Ryan nervously glanced at Sara and then quickly away.
Sara didn’t even notice, but Alex and Aurora both did.
He’s definitely keeping secrets from her, Aurora thought.
Alex looked on the verge of pushing it further, but stopped
and said, “Fine for now, but we are going to talk about this again, soon”
“This doesn’t change anything about the idea I’ve been
thinking about this morning,” Alex said, changing the subject. That’s when he
outlined his plan for them.
They were all enthusiastic about it and began throwing
ideas back and forth until they had all essentially put Ryan’s dire news aside
to deal with later.
Alex scratched the map on the floor, Ryan grew quiet and
listened to Alex rehash the details, and the women became distracted.
It was getting dark when Alex finally felt that they had
covered almost everything. “There’s just one last thing,” he said quietly.
Sara was lighting the lantern, and she carried it back to the
others, who were all sitting cross-legged on the ground. “What’s that, Alex?” she
asked, sitting back down.
“I need to leave tonight and find a way to feed. Aurora should
too. We’ll need strength to travel tomorrow.”
“Find a way to feed?” Ryan quipped.”What does that mean,
Alex?” It was the first time Ryan hadn’t called him Mr. Lake and he was
feeling a little empowered. “There are no more blood banks and no refrigeration
to keep your little bottles in. So, what exactly are you planning to do?”
Sara scowled at her brother angrily. “That’s enough, Ryan.
We are not having this conversation tonight. It’s none of your business. You
don’t know anything about it,” she scolded. “And as for leaving, Alex, I
already told Aurora that you two can feed on me until we figure something else
Ryan jumped to his feet and shouted, “What the fuck are you
talking about, Sara? You are not bleeding for anyone! I forbid it!”
“You don’t get to stroll back in here after two years and
start telling me what I will and won’t do,
.” She emphasized his
name with contempt in her voice. “I am a grown woman, and I have been taking
care of myself for a very long time. You would know that if you weren’t
leaving all the time!”
That last part stung him, and he reached out to pull her to
him. “Baby, you don’t understand--.”
She jerked away from him. “No!
You don’t know anything about me.” She looked to Alex and Aurora who were
still sitting on the ground. “Alex and Aurora are trying to do what is right
for me, for all of us. If you really wanted to help me, you could offer some
of your blood so that we can all make it through this.”
Ryan just stared at Sara, speechless.
Aurora stood and walked behind Sara, putting her hands on
Sara’s shoulders. Softly, she said, “He can’t.” She was talking to Sara but
looking meaningfully at Ryan.
He raised his eyes to meet Aurora’s, and there was anger in
them. She stared into his angry eyes, without blinking, willing him to speak,
wanting to give him the opportunity to tell Sara the truth, to explain to her
why he often had to leave her and why he was so secretive about where he went.
She felt Sara’s pain, and she wanted Ryan to ease it, but he would not. He
turned and stalked out of the barn, slamming the door behind him.
Sara thought Aurora meant that it was too difficult for
Ryan to overcome his convictions about live feeding, when she said that he
couldn’t feed them. She had no idea what Aurora really meant and Aurora had no
intention of explaining it to her. Aurora only meant to give Ryan the chance
to come clean with Sara. She hugged the young women wanting to make her feel
After a moment Sara pulled gently out of Aurora’s embrace
and said, “I should go talk to him.” She followed her brother outside. He
must have been close by because Aurora could hear them talking softly.
She turned to Alex, who was watching her. “When were you
going to tell me about this?” he asked without any anger, only curiosity.
“I hadn’t decided if I wanted to take her up on her offer.
I like her and I don’t want her to be hurt. I needed to know if she was really
okay with this.” She sat back down with Alex and took his hand.
“I guess telling her brother, means that she is sure about
it,” he said, leaning forward and placing his lips to her forehead. “You have
a tender heart, my love,” he said without taking his lips from her skin.
“That’s why I want you to make it enjoyable for her, Alex.”
She pulled her head back to look in his eyes. “I want you to please her, not
because she wants you sexually, but because you appreciate her gift. I want her
to know that it is a gift.”
He nodded solemnly “What about you, darling?” he asked,
brushing her hair from her face just to be touching her.
“Tomorrow will be soon enough.”
Aurora looked up as Ryan and Sara came back in. Sara gave
her a little smile and nodded her head. Ryan looked like he ate something bad
and went to go visit the horses, grabbing a brush as he went.
Sara moved toward them and seemed a little awkward. “Well, then...”
She clearly did not know what to say.
Aurora touched her arm reassuringly and said, “Sara, why
don’t you go to the cellar and find something for you and Ryan to eat tonight.
Alex can go with you. He sees so much better in the dark.”
She turned and watched Ryan brushing one of the horses at
the other end of the barn. “Besides, I think maybe you two should be alone for
this so that nobody’s feelings are hurt unnecessarily.”
“Thank you,” Sara whispered.
Alex grabbed a blanket and folded it over his arm. He put
his other hand on her back at her waist as they walked together out the door.
He glanced back at Aurora over his shoulder, and she just smiled at him.
Ryan pretended not to notice them leaving.
After a few minutes of silence Aurora walked over and
leaned on the stall door where Ryan was working.
“Why don’t you want to tell her?” she asked quietly. There
was no need to explain who or what she meant.
“I don’t think that she even knows that
exist,” he said without looking up from his chore. The horses had become
accustomed to their scents and were no longer nervous.
Aurora moved inside the stall and touched the horse’s head
between his eyes. He nuzzled her shoulder a little but did not bite.
“Sara is very open-minded and far from naive,” she said.
“Why would you think that she would have a problem believing?”
Ryan hesitated. “I just want to protect her,” he said,
brushing the horse again with faster strokes, becoming a little agitated.
The horse reacted by tossing his head and snorting. He
back up a step away from Ryan. Ryan stopped brushing and stood there with his
arms down to his sides and his head down.
“Shhh Shhh Shhh, “ Aurora soothed the horse, cooing to him
quietly. When he was calm, she looked at Ryan. His back was to her. “Ryan?” she
demanded gently, still waiting for him to give her the real reason.
His head came up, and he said, “I don’t want her to think
I’m a monster.”
He walked out of the stall and put the brush away. He
started walking around straightening the barn, putting things in order. He
wouldn’t look at her.
She let him work out his frustration and eventually he sat
down with his back against a post, drawing his knees up and resting his chin on
She sat down facing him. “She loves you so much, Ryan. I
don’t believe she would ever think you were a monster.”
“Maybe you’re right, but I don’t know how to tell her. What
would I say?”
“I can’t tell you what to say, only that you should be
honest with her. She’s going to be a little mad and hurt that you didn’t share
this with her a long time ago. Why didn’t your parents prepare you both for
this?” she asked, truly interested in the lives of these two young people.
“I only found out a few years ago, that my Dad, a
was in hiding from some pretty nasty people,
people. I met someone
who was able to fill in some blanks.” He put his knees down opening up his posture
as he began to open up and share with her.
“Sara and I were little kids when our mom, Sara’s mom came
and told us that Dad had been killed in an accident. Only now, after what I
have found, I don’t actually think it was an accident. I think the ones that
were looking for him, finally found him.”
“That’s terrible. I’m sorry,” Aurora sympathized.
“I’m convinced that Sara’s mom didn’t know he was a
even though they were married four or five years. He was in hiding. He
never said anything to me either. He must have thought that I was so young
that I wouldn’t be able to keep his secret. Plus, he probably figured he had
another eight or nine years to fill me in before I reached the change.” He
“So, you changed without knowing what was happening?!”
Aurora was aghast at the idea.
“It wasn’t quite that bad,” he told her. “I was going
through the awful hormone thing, you know, the anger and wildness. I thought I
was going crazy because you start thinking about killing people, animals, and
whatever else, out of the blue. You daydream about ripping flesh with your
teeth. I was trying to keep it from Sara and Mom. Then one day, at school, I
was losing it in the lunch room. I didn’t do anything to anyone, but I was
seeing the whole place covered in blood. It was all in my head, you know, but
there were dismembered high school kids everywhere, and I thought I could taste
their blood in my mouth. I think my eyes
and one of my
teachers, Mr. Gardner must have seen it. He came at me, and I saw his eyes
shift. I couldn’t help it, my teeth came down, but Gardner was right there by
then. He knew what was going to happen if he didn’t stop it. No one else was
even aware anything was going on yet. So, Gardner reaches under the table,
where nobody can see, and he pinches my leg, the inside of my thigh, where it seriously
hurts and he hisses in my face. At least it sounded that way to me, and he
kept pinching me until all I felt was the pain and I couldn’t see the blood
anymore. It hurt so bad that I made some kind of crying noise like a little
puppy and the kids sitting closest to us were starting to look around. So, Gardner
grabs my arm and marches me out of there like I was in trouble for something.
My friends that asked me about it later, thought I got detention for spit wads
in the cafeteria or something.”
“That was lucky, considering how few people really know
at all,” Aurora commented. “So, Mr. Gardner, what was he?”
“Gardner was a
, Panther Clan, but he knew how
to get me to other wolves and so he took me to meet an Alpha who took me in. I
had to disappear from home, and it was five years before I had control over my
Change so I could come back. Now, I rarely Change completely, but for reasons I
can’t talk about right now, I need to be in Shift mode a lot. So, I have pretty
great control from all the practice.”
Aurora knew that the Change was something that happened to
involuntarily during some lunar cycles, or extreme emotion or duress, when they
became almost fully animal. But usually the older the
, the more
they were able to control the Change so that they would not turn at all if they
didn’t want to. It didn’t actually have anything to do with age, but it was the
practice that was key and by virtue of their age, older
had more practice, hence more control. Shifting, on the other hand, was
entirely deliberate and could be just a subtle shift toward their animal, maybe
just the eyes if they wanted to see better. Shifting was always intentional and
became easier with practice. The teeth, however, might drop when they were
exited, Aurora knew from experience. She actually thought it was kind of sexy.
“Great control sounds like a pretty big boast for a
,” Aurora teased.
Instantly, Ryan’s eyes flashed from gray to a bright silver
and Aurora knew that if they were in the dark, she would see them glowing. His
canines grew just as fast and he gave her the smile, complete with
which she had been wondering about earlier, and it was just as hot as she
thought it might be.
Just as quickly he shifted back and said, “I’m actually a
lot closer to thirty.” He flashed her that handsome rogue smile sans
Aurora’s eyes twinkled a little.
Oh yes, this one is trouble in a pretty
package. Mmm hmm! A
Sara was acutely aware of Alex’s hand in the small of her
back. He made her skin tingle with electricity. The wind was still blowing,
and she felt tiny drops of moisture strike her face as it started to sprinkle.