Chapter 74: She Ran
Curled in Colton’s arms in bed, my head laid on his chest as I listen to that steady rhythm of his
heartbeat, I doze in and out of peaceful and contented slumber. Something keeps waking me when I
start to fall deeply, and I can’t seem to put my finger on it. Like a dream or a feeling that’s just out of
sight and seems to jump in to haul me back whenever my consciousness drifts away. An unease or a
threatening nightmare maybe, it’s definitely a sense of unease and try as I might, I can’t seem to fall
into blissful darkness for any length of time. It’s almost dawn and I have barely dozed for more than
twenty-minute slots at a time. I’m frustrated and exhausted, yet I can’t seem to rest.
Colton however is completely out cold, wrapped up around me protectively, his face buried in my hair
as he silently inhales and exhales so peacefully that it at least brings me a sense of calm. In his
preferred position of full-frontal body wedged against my side as I lay on my back, held in his arms and
using his bent lower one as a pillow. He seems oblivious to my restlessness and with that flawless
smooth expression showing a vulnerable snoozer it at least soothes me a little.
My inner anxiety is swirling, and that strong sense of foreboding is slowly chipping away at my mental
state. I just can’t figure out why or what it is. The night is quiet, the patrols have reported nothing
untoward and the air is just right in temperature for once. It should be a comfortable slumber. I screw
my eyes shut tight, knowing that soon the sun will rise, and Colton will get up and the rousing noises of
the village will take away this sense of being alone. I will just lay here and hope to catch a few more
slots of shut eye before that happens and leaves me shattered all day.
Colton’s a way early riser and always likes to patrol the grounds with the changeover of sentinels at
first sun, to check, to be sure nothing happened in the night. He seems to survive on bare minimal
sleep and yet me, I can never rise before seven nowadays. In fact, even nine is becoming hard. My
ability to be as up and on form like he is daily has been dwindling of late and I often wonder if I am
getting spoiled and lazy. I want to sleep and curl up in bed way past his leaving me alone and the first
thing I want to do is eat with Sierra when I do. It’s rare for Colton to stay in bed for any length of time,
but he does come back before I wake and usually seduces me into some morning time affection before
we stroll for food.
A light catches my attention through my closed lids, glowing insanely close and blue in color and I
flicker my eyes open knowing instantly what it is. Colton’s hand resting gently on my neck is illuminated
in the telltale glow of his gift and I squint at his face to see if there’s any hints of distress. My heartbeat
upping that he may be having a vision or another of those horrifying dreams he mentioned at breakfast.
I reach out to touch his face and hesitate as the glow intensifies to an almost blinding light and I have to
screw my eyes closed with the sudden prick of searing pain at its sheer intensity.
He dreams of things sometimes and this is usually the signal if I am awake when he’s not. His hands
warm my skin as it travels up his wrists and makes his forearms gently glow too before fading out
before it reaches his upper arm. His hands enveloped in an azure bright orb that lights the whole room,
yet he’s still motionless and I wonder if this really is the dream he says he keeps having. He seems
calm and motionless, expression still and youthful and not at all like he’s having a nightmare. I know
how much it distresses him if it is and I don’t want it to progress, so I gently touch his face with my
fingertips, across his cheek softly to rouse him from the deepest part of sleep.
“Colton….. wake up.” Whispering, I try and stir him out of his state of vision, but he only opens his eyes
impulsively, blinding blue glow like neon tube lights making me squint and stares blankly through me.
His body responding to me, but his mind fully submerged in wherever he is. He is most definitely not
awake, and his focus is on nothing out here with me. No depth, only blank and rigid and disconnected
He still hasn’t decided if this gift is a curse or something positive as he’s yet to find the use beyond
disturbing dreams. He likes the fact he’s learning to heal ailments and wounds with a touch and it in
itself has great advantages, especially to the children who come to the med bay with scrapes and
bumps. He healed a broken wrist in a three-year-old a few days ago so he’s definitely getting stronger
in his ability to do it. Yet the dreams, the visions, he abhors the vagueness and the sporadic nature of
He’s motionless as I lay, surrounded by eerie light which casts shadows in the furniture around us,
lighting up only parts of the room and the rest falls into odd shadow. It feels like a surreal fairy room
and a little ethereal, reminding me of my memories of Sierra when she came to me as a child. If I
wasn’t lying next to him them it would be kind of freaky and most certainly unnerving.
Colton gives me a heart attack by gasping out loudly as though suddenly taking a breath, grasping my
face with an impulsive jump reaction and I flinch with a small yelp; so not ready for any kind pf physical
response. My stomach lurches up into my chest and my heart misses a beat as I hit a cold sweat with
the sudden fright he gave me. His eyes widen as the glow intensifies and then he blinks, seemingly
coming to and brown eyes are restored almost instantly as he registers the fact I am wide eyed staring
at him like a scared little rabbit.
He blinks again, subtly shakes his head as though to clear a dream fog away, seems to fully wake up,
rubs his face, and takes a second to realize I am still staring at him in the now darkness again, as his
nocturnal vision kicks in. A frown coming over him and a second of pause while he inhales.
“We need to get up!” he commands, darting upwards and giving me no clue as to why, or a second to
pull my swirling emotions back to calm. His whole mood sends me into anxiety overload, as he shoots
immediately into panicked concern and out of bed in a flash, grabbing the nearest clothes he has and
throws them on, turning to me hurriedly. His rushed ambience, the deathly fear seeping my way, all pull
my senses to high alert and my own heart starts racing.
“Baby, up, move … Now! It’s Tawna!” Colton doesn’t wait for me, he turns as soon as he’s dressed and
takes off at hyper speed and I don’t hesitate to do the same, grabbing a robe to cover my sheer
nightdress and throw it on as I follow him at speed. Nerves strung out, head dazed with confusion but I
know him well enough to not argue. He saw something and he’s acting on it and I should follow
because he told me to.
He’s already down and outside and among the outer ground patrol, issuing orders to wake the reserve
patrols immediately. His tone is harsh, his voice low and husky from residue sleep and something else;
an underlying edge that sounds like he’s almost in freak out mode. A sense of urgency in the air as he
rallies every one of our strongest and I catch his arm as he paces past me to direct more wolves
coming in from the west tree line at his command.
“What’s going on?” Colton’s scaring me with the intensity of his panic, and he screws his eyes shut for
a moment, turning silent and then blinks them open at me. I see the sheer devastation in the depths,
and it makes me catch my breath as cold sweeps through my body. A shiver that something really bad
is happening as my eyes mist over of their own accord and I’m instantly sick with gurgling worry.
“Carmen’s on her way down… her mom isn’t where she should be. I dreamt……. I saw her. She ran.
Out there…” Colton turns and points into the densest part of the forest, the direction that most of our
vamp attacks come from, the path to imminent danger for a loan wolf in the dark. His face falls somber,
paling out as the last of his color seems to drain away and I gasp as what he says sinks in.
“Oh my god, it’s still dark, she doesn’t know about the boundary or the fact they lurk out there waiting
for us. Colton what is she doing?” My own tone reaches high pitch hysteria as my stomach clenches in
fear. I gaze out into the darkness and scrunch my eyes closed tight in a bid to exert my Luna link.
Instinct taking over to shield one of my pack in anyway I can.
Tawna, if you can hear me, then come back, come home to your pack. It’s not safe out there.
I home in on Tawna’s image in the hopes it reaches her mind link but it’s not something I do often as
Colton is so much better at pack linking. Colton stares at me for a second, obviously he heard me, as
my mate he can sometimes tap into my mind links involuntarily when we’re this close in contact.
Tawna, I command you to turn around and head back to the homestead and safety. Right now. Colton
alpha tones her, cutting into my head and taking over himself, sending out the link and I cross my
fingers in hopes that she hears this. No wolf can deny or resist the alpha tone. It’s the whole point. To
command unruly or defiant in your pack against their will so you can regain order and control. She can’t
disobey him if she hears him.
“Do you think it will work? What if she closed her link off so nothing gets in?” my questions are quieted
by the shrill voice that comes at us from the open homestead door. A familiar haughty tone only it’s
pitched in terror and higher than normal and I flinch at his appearance.
“Where is she?….. I couldn’t find her…. She’s not in her room, or in the house. Colton why did you tell
me to come down here?... Do you know where she is?” Carmen is already in a state of hysteria, tears
streaming down her face, not seeming to care who sees them and we are blinded by the sudden
illumination of the whole front sweeping drive and tree line as guards switch on our floodlighting. The
patrols are streaming in from the village, the homestead, and every nook and cranny around as they
gather together as a thrown together chaotic search party.
I move to Carmen at the door in a flash, instinctively going to her, and pull her into my arms, wiping her
face and shooshing her as I cradle her in a hug. She doesn’t fight me, her body is trembling, her
attention fully on the void of her mother’s presence and she let’s me hold her up without any kind f
resistance. Her body is cold, her posture is weak, and her eyes are fixed on Colton as though begging
him for answers that she knows he doesn’t have.
“We’re going to find her…. Try and be calm. Let us get out there and look. She can’t have gotten far.” I
soothe with a gentle tone holding her as best I can even though she doesn’t hug me back. Carmen
sags in my hold and seems to crumble completely, turning to a whimper as the tears fall freely.
“I knew…. deep down, I knew she would try this.”
Assembled are all of our strongest males, and a few femmes, the sub pack too as they come in from
the forest where they had been out walking the perimeter before dawn.
“We didn’t see her leave, are you sure, Cole?” Meadow interrupts as she strolls into the center of the
group and stands by Colton’s side. Straight to command mode and all emotion pushed aside when she
has a task. Colton nods and taps his head as if to tell her he had a vision and Meadows face pales out
much the same way his did. I can tell he’s linking her with details and her expression says it all.
“Okay, I’ll take three of our sub packs and spread on the left and backside of the stead, you take the
rest and spread right and front. Even if you know which direction she took, she might have veered…..
or…” She doesn’t add ‘has been chased’ to the end, glancing at Carmen warily and then looking away
fast as she waves her hand at the nearest wolves. They jump to attention and silently rally to whatever
command her hand gesture gave.
Colton pats Meadow on the back as if in agreement and then turns and links the several packs he’s
choosing for his own search party via the open pack link, so we all hear him. This is urgent and he’s
wasting no time and no number of bodies. He’s rallying all who are capable, and I know it’s because he
fears time is of the essence. They split almost instantly as half the crowd moves with Meds and the rest
with Colton and they all fan out and head into the woods at hyper speed.
“Come on. Let’s stick with Colton and we’ll help. More eyes.” I brush Carmen’s hair back and release
her from my hold, instead taking her hand and pull her with me out into the clearing. She lets me guide
her like a vulnerable child needing guidance, and for a moment I wonder if this is the same girl from
earlier, the same Carmen who doesn’t show weakness. I shove it out of my head, focus on being her
rock and speed to catch up with Colton.
As I have no shoes on I have to turn my feet to wolf to save myself from injury and ignore the fact I’m
out here in a silk dress and a short towel robe, while everyone else is fully dressed. It doesn’t really
matter I guess, given any hint of danger I’ll shred these with a turn so it’s probably a blessing I didn’t
get dressed. We lose too many clothes that way.
We catch up with Colton just inside the permitter of the frequency border and he halts, sensing us
behind him and turns to me. His eyes amber glowing, his claws already engaged in case we hit trouble.
He looks wild, poised to fight, and yet I still can’t shake seeing that deep fear in the depths of his
beautiful eyes under furrowed brows and stress lines etched on his face. He thinks we’re not going to
get to her in time and I can feel it in his emotions.
“Stay right with me. No more than four feet away, okay? No matter what. We’re fanning out six feet
apart and walking a wave around the whole stead… We’ll find her, we have to… Sun isn’t up for an
hour yet, it’s not safe here.” Colton beckons us with hushed tones and turns to lead the way as we join
the search. His head fully engaged in the task and taking control like the Alpha I love. I seem to be the
only one who recognizes he’s not as confident and assured as he seems, that his aura is bleeding, and
he’s genuinely is afraid of what we might find out here.
Even at speed, the pack moving as one swift line, checking every fallen log, cave, nook and cranny,
and heading further into the deep dark forest, we still see no sign of her, and I start to wonder if she’s
really out here. Glancing from wolves in the trees around us, to the back of Colton’s strong body as we
push on beyond our safety net of the frequency and shudder as another wave of revulsion overtakes
This is the third time since walking beyond the line, that a deep well of nausea and cringe consumes
me wholly, and this time I gasp inwardly as I am sucker punched low down at a strange smell that
makes me giddy with memories. The almost stinging, astringent whiff of something awful yet outwith
my grasp of memory as a familiar thing. My eyes water with the intensity of it’s odor and I have to pull
myself stiff to stop my body from crumbling as I stagger over a fallen log. It’s like the smell alone has hit
some deep unwanted thought and made my body react like I’m in trauma. I feel weak instantly, my
limbs loosening as dizziness moves in and I become aware that I have let go of Carmen fully.
Colton? …. I blanche and mind link via our mate bond only, the fear rippling over my spine as I figure
out what the strong metallic and awful smell is that’s engorging my senses and leaving me hyper aware
as one sickly vision clouds my sight. A dark terrifying night when I was clinging onto life by a thread and
all the people, everyone I had known, were ripped to shreds around me. I almost vomit with the return
of that scene in my mind’s eye, my body shuddering in revulsion and pain as my broken heart rips at
old scars and tears well up in my eyes.
Wolf blood smells different to most other things in nature, and dead wolf is the most unique of all. It’s
like the second our life essence drains it leaves the red fluid rancid and potent so no animals will come
and try to feast on remains. It’s the smell of death, of repulsion and awful things, from the night of the
courtyard when vampires almost killed me.
I smell it. Stay here. Keep Carmen back. Colton doesn’t turn to look at me but acts like nothing is wrong
and wades further forward increasing his speed, so he flips out of sight in a blink. I pause, grabbing at
her arm and finding her palm with my own to bring us back together to lasso her to me. I yank her back
to my side a little aggressively in a bid to shield her form what she’s about to find.
“Colton told us to stay.” I fix my gaze on her, tone commanding so she knows not to argue, aware of the
movement around us and my body bristling with tension as I keep searching for hints of vamps in the
forest. My senses are tuned in but I feel nothing of close presence, which is weird for them. Given what
smell lingers around us, I can’t understand why there’s no lingering scent of our enemy with it.
We’re really far from the stead, out in the densest area before it starts going uphill towards the
mountain and yet not a single vampire has stuck around. They obviously did this to her recently, so why
are they not still here?
“No!…. He would only tell us to …. What’s that smell?” Carmen breaks into my thoughts with her return
of bitchy tone, she’s emotionally all over the place and seems to be back in abrasive, don’t touch me
mode. Her fear and angst intermingled, hysteria curbing the horizon and it’s obvious she’s never
smelled dead wolf before. It’s not common I guess, given our ability to stay alive, and few who never
went to battle have smelled it. Once you do though, you never forget.
Carmen starts tugging at my hand impatiently to get free, sensing something off with his sudden
departure, as Colton disappears from view completely into the thicket with surrounding sentinels. I note
that several wolves along our line have halted too, to guard us, staying close enough to fill the gaps
that have been left by Colton taking pack with him.
Colton leaving us safe. Always thinking of protecting his mate even if he knows I have abilities to
“He knows something, he’s found something, hasn’t he? …” Carmen spins on me, her eyes red rimmed
with tears, her appearance haggard, yet her tone is fierce and daunting, and her eyes are glowing
bright orange. Without warning she yanks her hand hard out of mine and takes off in the blink of an eye
in the direction Colton went before I can react. Instinctively I lift my hands and try and grasp her with
my power, to stop her leaving me, but she dodges between trees and instead I manage to yank the tree
backwards with a little too much force so it’s almost uprooted.
“Shit!” I curse out into the eerie quiet and throw my hair back as decision overtakes me. I take off after
Colton, carmen got free, she’s heading to you. I link him in warning and curse under my breath as I
speed to catch up, panic overtaking me. Not only for her, but what I might see. I have never shaken the
memory of that night from my memory bank and despite being on the battlefield and killing vamps
these past months, I’m not exactly okay with death and bloodshed.
I follow the scent of my mate and run smack bang into the back of Carmen’s halted form only twenty
yards into the bush and have to sidestep her at the very last second to avoid hitting her full pelt to see
why she’s stopped. The sight brings me to a frozen halt and my brain blanks out as my eyes widen in
Colton is kneeling by what looks like the ripped up remains of an animal, the ground drenched in dark
red, thick fluid, and pieces of unidentifiable gristle, meat and bones are shredded across a ten foot area
like someone blew up a cow. The smell is at an all-time high here and the scraps of fabric and hair
among the debris, caught up on bushes and leaves send my stomach into an instant upchuck motion. I
have to swallow down hard to curb the urge to vomit as realization hits me hard in the chest and I
struggle to breathe. Colton turns, catching sight of us and jumps to his feet before Carmen reacts. It all
happens so fast, only second of time but to me it feels like endless minutes.
It takes Carmen a second to release the torn up animal is wearing shreds of her mother’s dress and
she erupts in an almighty scream that shakes the trees and drops every wolf around us to their knees.
Even me, as blinding pain assaults my every sense and nerve and I crumble under the sheer power of
a high-pitched, blazing, searing agony, shooting through my head and limbs. Covering our ears as
Carmen assaults us with her powerful ability and her sheer heartbreak makes it more potent than I
knew she was capable of. I cover my head, shuddering in terror that my brain may self-implode and
sag with relief when Colton’s sharp alpha tone hushes her assault.
“Carmen, stop screaming!” he commands harshly, and the instant relief leaves my ears ringing, my
brain stuttering, and my body shivering as though I have been electrocuted with high voltage right on
the temples. Carmen moves fast, heading straight for the devastation, screaming out ‘Mom’ as she
runs at the mess around the ground before him. Her hysteria breaking loose and she’s no longer that
mask wearing girl, but a blubbing mess of despair.
Colton counteracts her fast. Dashing in front of her and catching her, hauling her backwards with a few
strides to keep her away from the worst of what I can see. He pulls her to him fluidly, cradling her in his
arms to keep her tight and pushes her face into his chest so she can’t see the devastation of what’s eft
of her mother. What those creatures did to her.
“Mom… MOM! … MOM!!!” Carmen breaks completely, wailing, sobbing, screeching with a broken
voice which turns to howls as both her human and wolf battle for dominance in their anguish. Fighting
him, wriggling wildly to break free and go to her, even though there’s nothing their to hold anymore. It’s
the most distressing thing I have ever witnessed as I watch her fall apart in my mate’s arms.
He struggles to keep her, gripping her in a way that should make me jealous because of how intimately
he’s trying to control her, but it doesn’t. My own overwhelming sadness and despair rationalizes why he
has to and why it’s the only thing he can do in this moment. My Luna heart kicking in to bleed for the
loss of one of our own, and the deep sympathy for the heartbreak of another.
Despite his strength, he’s struggling to keep her tied to him and has to force her down to her knees with
him so he can gain better control of holding her in a hug. He locks eyes on me, his own shining with
unshed tears that literally rips my heart to shreds and I cough as I choke with sudden sobs that escape
of their own accord. Wracked with heartbreak of my own.
I know he feels like somehow, he did this, it’s his fault, that he failed as Alpha to protect Tawna, but I
can only shake my head at him as my own warm tears roll chaotically over my cold cheeks and the air
around us falls deathly still. I only feel an ounce of the pain I know Carmen is spewing out in the air
around me and it’s enough to almost suffocate me. It’s unbearable and I can only stand here and stare
at them, frozen still where I stand and unable to move because I don’t know what else to do.
Carmen claws at Colton’s chest and arms weakly, to let her free, without any real fight anymore, and
ends up crumbling in his arms hopelessly as her body gives up. Finally, on her knees as Colton sinks
over her, from restraint to cuddling as her body slumps into a disheveled heap and seems to slide
through his hold like water as her limbs dissolve. Refusing to relent and let her go and leave her in the
heap on the forest floor where she comes to be quieter and broken. He moves over her protectively,
holding her shoulders and upper body as her face lands in his lap and she curls into a tiny ball like a
small child would after a traumatic nightmare.
“Why?.... Why would she…….? She left me….” Her broken tiny whimpers barely graze the air, but I
hear them, and they cut me like a knife to the heart and stomach. I cover my face to wipe away the
onslaught of wet waves overtaking my skin and blink at the pitiful sight of her, avoiding looking beyond
at the carnage and pushing the scent out of my nostrils. Wolves around us move in and lower their
heads as many begin to shed tears for their fallen kin, and the air is filled with a sadness that destroys
what’s left of my sanity. A low howl begins nearby and extends to join a mournful chorus that echoes in
the air around us, spreading far beyond into the forest and back towards the stead as the wolves let out
their own sorrow at being too late. The sound is enough to make me crumble to my own knees and cry
painfully, hugging my own body with my arms.
“Carmen, I’m sorry…. I’m so sorry.” Colton tries to hush her, his voice breaking as his own tears fall
freely and drop over her lowered head like gentle raindrops. He’s stroking her hair and squeezing her
tight as I stare in numb disbelief at what we failed to stop from happening, carrying the heavy weight of
guilt in my heart that my mate is already bearing.
I don’t know how to fix this.