Chapter 72: Carmen
Colton is preoccupied most of the day with overseeing the new buildings, checking in with the sentinels
on patrol and keeping himself busy. We have fallen into a routine of doing what we need to do separate
first thing in the day and gravitating back together by lunch, or after, to do things together. Today was
exceptionally busy I guess as I had lunch with Sierra, like we always do, and then checked in on the
school and some of the smaller workshops without laying eyes on him once.
The wolves have started getting life back on track again. With the kitchens being used as both a mess
canteen and a bakery to provide for the village, we have started to bring in some animals to graze on
the surrounding lands to fill our meat, egg, and dairy needs, although occasionally vampires kill a few.
We have managed to get them within the boundary for nightfall most of the time, but animals like to
In the evening the school is used to run arts and crafts workshops, drama, and other small hobby
interests to keep the people occupied. They know they can’t leave the boundaries if they want to stay
safe and many have adapted to small town living pretty smoothly. I would say that despite the constant
threat from our fanged neighbors, we have somehow created an almost peaceful existence and the
rune boundary enables us to sleep well without fear of invasion. We’re in a safety bubble where nothing
can penetrate and we’re so much luckier than surrounding packs for it.
At the mountain we had free reign of not only the vast space, the valley but also the surrounding
human towns and all beyond, there was never need for this kind of prison like existence. So it’s been
an adjustment for many, especially those Santos who did have a life, work, and school, in the human
world and now are confined to our peaceful bubble. I have to say there hasn’t been many complaints
and they all just try to get on without fuss. Most are just grateful to Colton for bringing them somewhere
safe and happy to live out the days.
We try to keep this is as safe a haven as we can and keep disruption to a minimal so the young ones
and the elders can have a trauma free existence. In the fight at the mountain, we maybe gained several
of the fiercest sub packs, but we also gained the land loving peaceful families, lots of femmes and
children. So the majority of our numbers are those who want to spend their days in quiet living and
never face vampires. Those ones wouldn’t know how to fight unless their lives depended on it and even
then, I don’t rate their odds highly. Much like my family, they are farmers, not warriors.
Our sentinels are all sub packs with battle experience and Juan lost some of his best who followed and
respect Colton. He made a mistake dismissing Colton’s right as alpha that day, as those governed by
our laws and pride in the pack, the strongest, were those who followed him. They provide our security
and without them I don’t think we would be half as capable at dealing with our enemies swiftly.
I cross the open gravel drive towards the tree line when I come back from the village rounds to oversee
the details. I do this sometimes to see if I can feel anything out there, sometimes to flex my gifts a little
and blow off some steam from days of not using my abilities. I feel like since becoming Luna, I have
better control of them, yet sometimes, less need of them. I’m so bubble wrapped by Colton sometimes
that having gifts seems a waste as he’s Mr protective, and over pampering, and I get little chance to
I’ve fought the vampires with Colton by my side multiple times in six months and I have to say that not
using my gifts is also a little down to me. We’ve killed many of their kind and each time it felt awful. I
can’t explain, like even though I know it was us or them, and they are the enemy, somehow it was
wrong deep down inside of me. Maybe it’s that part of me is Vampire and I somehow connect with them
on a weird psychic level, but every death has weighed on me heavily since we took them down and I
can still recall the many faces and smells of these creatures that died by my hand.
As opponents they are not equally matched to Lychens. On their side they have speed, some strength,
and can be vicious. I was shocked to find most vamps possess very little in the way of unique gifts like
we do, in fact barely any at all. Only their purest, oldest, seem to possess abilities like mine and with
their own hierarchy they never come out to use them. Or show face. That means every Vamp we have
come up against has been easy to take down with little effort. I always thought they would pose a
bigger threat but maybe they have vast numbers and in a battle between two species, in all our glory,
maybe they would be deadlier. Outnumbering us. Once they realized we had counteracted their
weapon with our own frequency and stayed within our border to ensure it, they have been less eager to
try and invade. It sort of hints at the fact that they know they are the weaker of our two kinds. It makes
no sense to me why they still pursue a war.
It’s no wonder they have come to the witches then to try and get a level playing field. Wolf on Vamp
sways to our side more than theirs in every scenario, and even with our lesser population, we have
been slaying them anytime they try to come at us. No match at all. Now they have witches in their midst
though I have no idea what that will do or even means. I know very little about witches and magic, in
fact, only what I have seen from Sierra and Colton and neither are purebreds. They lean heavily to wolf
in daily life and only have their gifts as add ons rather than their sole being. I haven’t ever met any real
pure witch before.
I stand on the edge of the gravel, facing the dark succulent tree line of our natural wall and spread my
hands out, watching the sway of the trees as I move them from right to left softly, and then gently back
as I push them out. My gifts are like breathing nowadays and I’m still discovering my limits every day.
The absorption side of me is something I never really need to tap into, not when my telekinesis is
strong enough to disable most things, push out of my path, or create a short-lived protection bubble
around me if needs be. This however is almost therapeutic, manipulating my environment which
somehow frees my mind and helps me relax. Watching the waving of the trees under my command
helps ease the tension form my shoulders as I make them dance for me in the afternoon breeze. The
rustle so subtle and yet calming as it surrounds me and drums out the noises of the village in the near
Colton devised a way to first combat the noise weapon when we first started getting invasions of
Vamps and they disabled us when we chased them out. He would cover my ears and block out the
sound so I could use my gifts to build an eternal ball of energy. Then much like a sonic boom I would let
rip, exploding outwards and it knocked out every device in a 5-mile radius, thus rendering their weapon
useless as long as I was with my pack or until they got it running again and we had to repeat. Since the
Doc came up with the alter frequency though, even that is used less. The Vampires abandoned their
weapon as t was pretty much useless against us and I know Juan has something similar at the
Mountain to deter them there.
I watch as the ripples through the trees and foliage move in satisfying patterns with every turn and twist
of my hand, sighing loudly that it’s become this easy, so second nature, and doesn’t thrill me like it did
in the beginning of honing my gifts. The downside to having them is the ability to feel other’s emotions,
beyond Colton. Whether I want to or not and that too is heightened in the past few months so that I
constantly have to dampen it down. I hate feeling what anyone near me feels, just form being within ten
feet. Unlike when Colton and I share moods, and emotions, it feels more invasive somehow, but it
helps me deal with my people. Feeling when they are hurt or sad, or afraid, and I am able to put them
at ease or help in some small way. It’s like being psychic in a way.
“Who knew you would turn out to be this gifted?” the familiar snooty female voice behind me startles
out of my absentminded manipulation of the trees and I turn in surprise, bristling slightly, to face
Carmen as she stands behind me. Hands on her hip as she stares at the forest over my head and
seems almost impressed for a moment. I was so engrossed and honed in on what I was doing that I
neither felt her or sensed her which I guess is not a good thing. I tune in on her and sense her tension,
locking my eye on her pale blues as she hesitates and looks away submissively.
I experience a ripple of satisfaction and a small glow of smugness that at least in six months she has
learned who not to mess with. The tables are turned and now I am no longer fading in her shadow. I’m
a force to reckon with now.
“Yup, who knew?” I respond drily, hostility brimming and unsure why she seems to have sought me out.
Or if she has just wandered here and accidently bumped into me.
It’s rare I get any time alone, and the front entryway to the homestead is usually my go to for some
head space, as no one but the patrols venture out here normally. The village is out back, sheltered in
the homestead shadow, and where all life and soul thrives. I focus my full blank attention on her sharp
and pointed but annoyingly pretty face, hoping for intimidation and a huge flashing ‘back off’ vibe. I am
in no mood for her and the bubbling green eyed me is in there trying to slither up and slap her down.
Her fair hair shields half her delicate face as she moves her hands to cross over her ample bust on that
slender figure and I honestly hate the fact she is actually attractive as a femme. At least I can see what
Colton dated her for.
“Look…. I know you and I have had our ups and downs. I just wanted to say that I won’t cause any
problems. I know how things are. You’re mates, it’s done. I’m just another femme from the pack now,
and I respect your position as Luna. I’m sorry for everything before. I just want a calmer life and no
drama, and I don’t intend to create any.” Carmen lowers her eyes and nods, to show her submission,
her posture loosening as though trying to act like she isn’t as stiff and stressed as I can feel, and I
frown at her warily. My gut tightening in knots because this is the last wolf on the planet I would ever
willingly shake hands with. Well, besides Juan!
“Are you being nice because you’re afraid of what I’ll do if you disrespect me, or because you have
actually realized what a bitch you were to me?” Direct and blunt, to match my mood. No attempt at
being hospitable when really, she doesn’t deserve it at all. I know I don’t have to be civil to her if I don’t
want to be, there are no rules saying a Luna has to love all. She’s staying with my pack, but it doesn’t
mean I have to like her, and it’s not like anyone will challenge me on my coldness. She deserves way
more than a moody Alora!
“A little bit of both, I guess. I’m not suggesting we become best friends, I’m just saying…. I’m thankful
you let me in and didn’t turn us away, and I don’t intend to give you reason to be sent back to the
mountain. The past is the past, I’m not proud but you have to understand how heartbroken I was. I’ve
had time to let it go.” She turns her face back to me, no hint of deviousness in those pale almond
shaped eyes, Her cheeks are naturally rosy as though she’s blushing, or seething inwardly, and yet
there’s not a hint of malice or bad feeling coming from her at all. I think she’s being honest.
I don’t want to dwell of any of the before, I turn my face away and shrug, indicating I don’t want to dwell
on it either or talk it out with her. It was another time, feels like a lifetime ago and I don’t want to revisit
old hurts where Colton is concerned. We’re happy now, we’re together, that’s all that matters. She just
needs to stay on her own side of the line and leave us on ours.
“So what motivated it? Weren’t you a sworn stayer in Juan’s army?” I ask bitchily, not sure I like
Carmen’s attempts at playing nice when I don’t trust her at all. Not softening in the slightest, even with
apologies and oaths to play nice.
“I was always going to follow Colton; I was there that day and saw him defeat his dad. I tried to leave
with the pack but my mom, she wouldn’t leave with me, and by the time I tried to convince her my dad
showed up and put an end to it. My mom isn’t strong, she lives in his shadow, she’s naïve and maybe a
little too innocent. I couldn’t leave her with him to be ground down and trampled over. You don’t know
how he is.” Her clear, almost husky voice, cracks a little and I blink her way seeing a tiny chink in the
confident armor she wears like a shroud.
I waiver a little in my coolness when I see that soft warmth in her eyes when talking about her Mom,
and yet there’s something raw and almost painful when she says the word Dad. Although the most
surprising part is how hard it is to believe someone like Carmen came from someone sweet and feeble.
She’s a born bitch. I can’t imagine she came from someone weak.
“And now?” I fix her with a direct stare. Not moving an inch in my stubbornness or me haughty tone.
Not really wanting to dig apart or figure out the puzzle sin her emotions. I just want her to walk off and
leave me to my trees.
“She saw the truth…. One of the pack passed on the memories of your wolves; I guess we had an
infiltrator. Then my mom confronted my dad and demanded to see the past in his own minds eye, he
refused but my mom has a gift… she can extract memories of the sleeping and dead without their
consent and I never thought she would be brave enough to do it.” She looks down at the ground in an
instant wave of emotion, her eyes brimming with sudden tears and she swallows hard. “We saw what
they did to your family, to your pack…. The actions of one, spreading its poison to the many in the
people we trusted. My mom couldn’t take it. She broke and I knew if we stayed my dad would send her
someplace to make sure she didn’t do anything stupid… like end her own life.” The tear rolls down
Carmen’s cheek, her body bristling as she feels it and she stubbornly straightens up and wipes it away
harshly. In that second, she looks like a lost child, trying to act tough in the face of adversity and
despite everything. I am moved.
The curse of the Luna in having compassion for her people, and my own gift of feeling her emotions
out. Her pain bruises my heart and winds through my veins like a prickly cold icicle, aching, and hurting
me deeply. Reminiscent of grieving my mom and my family and I reach out instinctively and touch her
shoulder. Cursing myself inwardly for this insane compassion that grows in me the longer I lead our
people. I swear at myself mentally for showing her softness.
“She’s lucky she has you. To care for her and bring her here. You did the right thing.” I soothe, moving
into maternal mode of appeasing and gentle with my tone then bite my own tongue for being a weak
assed bitch. I really disappoint myself sometimes. Who knew Luna gifts would be my nemesis when it
came to this girl.
“I’m afraid. She’s mentally unstable, she’s always been fragile and my dad’s part in it all, the betrayal,
the moral destruction; she’s not okay. Her Alpha turned out to be a monster she always followed loyally,
her world came crashing down and the safety of our people became lowest on the pecking order. She
cries all the time. It’s like her mate is dead but she got to live, if that makes sense. Colton’s leaving
didn’t just cause a hole in the pack, it changed everything, and those left behind, they’re prisoners of
misery.” It’s a gush of words and she looks shocked at herself for opening up to me. Swallowing back
with a confused and almost dazed expression but I nod in understanding. I know Luna’s have this
power over their people and I never really understood it when Sierra was ours. Only now looking back I
see that Sierra had this too, that a Luna has a way of lowering walls, making you trust and respect her,
by merely being close to you. They are the literal embodiment of pack mother and any who needs her
feel compelled to confide in her.
I motion for her to walk with me along the tree line as sentinels appear to walk to grounds and I feel this
conversation is not done with. Despite wishing she would go away; I can’t just let this end this way. I
want privacy from prying eyes because I know the second a guard sees us together then Colton will be
out here like a shot thinking the worst.
Carmen obediently follows me as I turn and gesture to the shaded overhang of the narrow path which
leads far along the side and behind the house. This is just inside the rune border here and the closest
to the invisible wall as you can get.
“We can have her taken to the medbay if you truly feel her mental state is worrisome. We can monitor,
help. We have human medicines, an understanding of mental health, and a very good staff down there
who wouldn’t leave her alone. Maybe she needs time and safety and the kind of peaceful life we are
building here. The village has some community groups and maybe being back among old friends…..” I
try to reason as I decipher the pits of angst and anxiety swirling around Carmen now we are shoulder
to shoulder, and moving at a slow stroll under the outstretched branches. Her mom’s state seems to be
where all her focus is, and not of anything from before. It makes me relax knowing she has no obvious
ulterior motives. Her whole aura and ambience tells me her heart and mind is right where her mom is
“I don’t know if it will help, or if she’ll agree. My mom has always been so dependent on security and
the balance of her life. No rocking the boat, no sudden changes. My dad has never known how to
handle her so he avoids her best he can. It’s always been me and her…… I’m her rock.” Carmen’s
distress grows and more tears roll down her face, making her angrily wipe them harder as though she’s
embarrassed by her own weakness and the genuine fear that she doesn’t know how to help her.
I have a sea of contradictory emotions and feelings running through me and I try to separate Carmen
from the past, and the girl beside me in the here and now. I’m not ready to lay my old feelings to rest, to
let go of hurt and anger and jealousy. I don’t know how I would handle seeing her approach Colton like
this, or if I would be able to swallow it down, but I know one thing for certain, right now, I just want to
help. This cursed need in me to make sure my pack, every last on of them, is cared for. Even her.
“Do you want me to get Sierra to come see her in your rooms? Maybe she could help. She can heal
certain things, instill calm with a touch. Maybe seeing her…..” it’s an absent minded suggestion as my
brain strays onto things I don’t really want to think about and I flinch at her sudden exuberant response.
“Oh my god! Sierra! Yes!!! Yes, yes, yes…. she was one of her closest friends. She mourned her for so
many years and I don’t think she believes that the rumors are true, that she’s really here. Please, I’ll do
anything if she can see her, or help…. I love my mom, she’s all I have now.” She croaks the last
sentence, her eyes misty with emotion, turning to me energetically and grips my hand. It’s impulsive
and without thought and she seems oblivious to my sudden stiff response as she turns to me full of
new life and energy. The aura of pleading, desperate need, so strong it catches me off guard and for a
second, I’m ashamed of my hatred for this girl.
Carmen has never really been a femme that blended in with the Santo pack; even I knew that all those
years. Knowing Colton’s memories of her now too, seeing she was a loner, brought in because of her
father’s ties to Juan and put in his upper circle, down to his position. She stuck with Colton and his
friends, lived in his shadow, and didn’t really seem to have any true friends beyond what she thought
she had in the sub pack.
Her abrasive, spoiled girl behavior, her outward hostility, superiority, bitchy glares, all added to her
being a girl I know we all avoided like the plague. Not just my kind at the orphanage, but most femmes
in the entire valley. It was common knowledge that everyone hated Carmen and she didn’t seem to
give a rat’s ass about it. When she dated Colton, she was with him constantly and acted like she didn’t
care about other wolves in the pack, let alone making friends beyond her mate. She was so up her own
ass; sure she was the future Luna, that she pretty much didn’t bother to make any kind of bonds with
Looking at her now, feeling her pain from her own depths, I wonder what it is that made her this way.
Why she closed off from anyone except Colton…. I know even the sub pack never really bonded to her
like they have me and dutifully endured her presence for him. I can’t imagine what losing him must
have felt like if he truly was the only person she thought of as her friend and security, and then lost the
subs around her which were probably the closest to a real pack she had.
She isn’t as tough or as cold as she makes out and I can feel her fear, her insecurity, her worry over
her mom, and her complete lack of bold now I’m touching her hand to hand. I squeeze it tightly and try
to numb down the intense feelings I am absorbing from her and she suddenly yanks her hand away,
realizing what she’s doing by holding on to me. There’s a moment of heightened blush on her face as
she reels back and pulls herself stiff and cold. A gust of icy cold as her heart clamps shut and her
emotions are bit down hard in an effort to conceal all form me. Like an internal fire door being slammed
shut to keep the fire at bay. The armor sweeping back up and the haughty exterior comes back into
play. It’s almost so effortless and speedy that a blink would have made me miss it.
“I can arrange for Sierra to come sit with her, send up some food and give them time alone. She maybe
isn’t Luna anymore, but as Rema she still cares for the people and plays a hand in making this home a
haven of calm.” I ignore the change in her and don’t draw attention to the fact she’s wiping her hand to
remove the feel of my warm touch on her. My brain is firing ahead to a solution for her mom.
I’m sure a little gentle coaxing will have Sierra leave her rooms for a while, especially if like Carmen
said, this was one of her friends from the past. We don’t have many of those here. Most remember her
only as Luna, her friends were all kept behind by mates or lost in the war.
‘I’m sorry I ever doubted you as Luna…. as worthy. For everything I said or did. He broke me. I was in
pain. It was juvenile and I’m over it.” She states coldly, icily harsh in her tone as though
overcompensating for the weakness she showed me moments before. In that flash the old bitchy
looking, aloof and haughty Carmen stands in place of the lost and vulnerable soul of seconds before,
trivializing her love of my mate once upon a time ago, but this time I see through it.
A broken hearted, lonely girl, who lost someone she loved, was left to fend alone in a home she no
longer recognized and still harbors a world of agony deep inside. As much as I look back and feel like
she once deserved my anger, I don’t think she does anymore. Carmen’s adrift, with no anchor
anymore. Her home is gone, her mate went to another, her father’s a betrayer of all she knew and her
mother…. slowly slipping away from her as the days pass by. There’s only devastation and fear hiding
behind cold bitch, and I wonder what she has gone through in the last few months under Juan’s rule to
lose the last ounces of soft she used to allow herself to show at times. I wonder what else our people
out there are going through right now too, while here we live in a bubble of general safety and happy.
“The past has passed. Let’s focus on the now and the future and making your mom well.” I utter quietly,
but with determination. A need in me to offer her some sort of hope now that I can feel her mood has
returned to distant and closed off. It’s like there’s no light in this girl at all and she has become so
accustomed to dwelling in the dark that her very warmth has ebbed into nothingness the second she
reels it back to her damp cave with her.
“It’s been so long since I felt like we had any kind of real leader, or Luna…. I forgot what it feels like to
have someone share the load and make you feel that everything might be okay.” She stares at her feet,
a tiny flinch of her jawline and eyebrow and seems to unfocus for a second as a tiny hint of color warms
the apples of her cheeks at her own words, and then it’s gone just as quickly. A hint of something,
maybe gratitude, maybe real genuine hope, then bam, she closed it back down and swallowed her
carelessness once more.
For the first time I think I see what maybe Colton did all these years and why he tried to stay with her
before there was us. Knowing him and how he likes to see the best in people, and his hero complex. I
see it now. The scared little girl in the midst of the hard-outer shell and the signals she gives off so
subtly you almost miss them if you are not looking for them. It’s in glimpses when she forgets to pull her
mask up, the tiny wrinkles in her armor, the careless words, or the unintended moments of genuine
touch. It makes you want to help her, bring her into the warmth and remove the shackles she has put
around herself to keep people out.
The bitch isn’t who she is. The tantrums, the behaviors, the arrogant outer persona, they’re all a mask
to shield this right here. More like her mom than I thinks he knows and maybe it’s not so unbelievable
that her mother is a weaker wolf with no ability to fend for herself. Maybe that’s exactly why carmen
learned to be this kind of way after watching her mother get pushed around for her own flaws.
Carmen is fragile in her own way, yet at the same time so much stronger than I gave her credit for, in a
completely different way. She’s more capable than Tawna, less likely to break into a thousand pieces
the way her mom seems to, but it’s there alright. The vulnerability. The sadness. She needs a strong
mate to give her what she lacks, she needs security, and devotion, loyalty, to find her self-worth and
someone who will love her and bring her peace the way Colton has for me. She needs a family that she
leans on, instead of them leaning on her and making her the one to shield and protect.
Maybe it’s guilt, maybe it’s that now I see her in a new light, I truly feel sorry for my part in her
unhappiness. The fates disregarded her, cast her aside, and Colton could no longer stomach to look
her way when she betrayed his bond. Which I guess, now I even understand why she did what she did
to him when he bonded to someone else. I can’t even imagine what that did to her mentally and
emotionally when all she had to rely on was him.
I took her place, in his heart, his bed, and the pack, and she was left on the cold mountain, alone. To
weather the storm and figure out how to save her mom. She watched everyone slip away and her life
was turned upside down while she held together the pieces of the wreckage she was left with. Maybe
she has more reason to hate me than I ever hard for her. Yet standing here, I don’t even find a trace of
it anymore. It’s like her emotions have died and all that’s left is a need to keep her single lifeline safe or
else she has nothing at all to go on for. Her mom.
“You’re home now. We’ll figure this out… as a pack.” I try a brighter smile that conveys ‘it’s okay, we got
this’ and push down every other thought and feeling inside.
Carmen’s eyes mist over, and she turns away swallowing hard, and clears her throat, giving off some
strong uncomfortable vibes. Unable to produce words she nods her head and wipes her cheek with the
back of her hand in an almost childlike gesture so I don’t see the breaking of another single tear rolling
down her face and yet I feel her shame and disappointment in herself for letting me see her weak. She
just never stops fighting.
“Go sit with your mom and I’ll go see Sierra. I’ll send tea and cake up to your quarters and we can take
it from there.” I ignore her behavior and feel somewhat relieved when she moves to walk away from
me. Obviously had enough of my company and makes a break for it thus relieving me of her emotions
as she gives me space. I’m sort of glad as this interaction has left me kind of screwed up and confused
about my own feelings and exactly how and what to do with Carmen now being here. I need some
head space to process all of this.
I hope to god Sierra has a way to help her, maybe soothe and heal Tawna to better accept the past and
move forward in a new life with us. I mean a femme whose own mate put her in a coma for eight years
to keep her silent might be better at understanding the betrayal and hopelessness she feels. Maybe it
will be good for them both.
And I need to go find my mate and talk this out with him, because I am sure as hell feeling weirded out
that the girl I told him I didn’t want here this morning, is now on my list of top priorities for the day, and I
have no idea how that even happened. I still have no clue how I will react when I finally see them
together once more in any kind of interaction.