Chapter 90: Returning
I missed the journey home, thankfully. Not by intention, but because my body just passed out on me
without my having a say on the matter. I intended to lay on the bed near Carmen for a while, in case
she needed to talk to someone, give her some support for something I’ve experienced too. Somehow
sleep took over and the last memory I had was gazing at her lonely figure across from me. Last night’s
tension, the camping out in the open air, and no real shut eye, all the emotional heaviness of the past
few days just kicked my ass, and my maybe the growing lives inside of me too. The next thing I know
I’m waking to subtle thuds on the truck walls and jump awake, startled by the rattle as though
something is caving in through the roof over my head.
Carmen is sat up on the other bed, her knees pulled into her chest, looking like she too slept the whole
time and didn’t switch places with Meadow to drive at any point. She seems to be staring blankly at the
back window, her expression blank, her face pale from dried tears and showing nothing of any kind of
emotion. I turn to, to follow her gaze and see the fog, thinned out across the glass, and containing the
dark figures of wolves once again trying to get in with running jumps. I realize we’re back at the
homestead already, the banging is the second wave of the wolves attacking our truck, so I slept for
more than seven hours straight.
“Nothing’s changed here then.” I point out with a deflated tone, flinching with every new thud over us
and Carmen silently shakes her head. All her energy and vigor is gone, and she just seems lifeless and
empty. Her mood is like a dense smoke in itself and holds only sadness and melancholy. I wonder how
many tears she shed before her emotional exhaustion knocked her out and can do nothing to console
I glance up towards the front and see that in my place the witch is parting the fog so Meadow can drive
safely onto the dirt track, back to our main entrance and we’re almost there. Leyanne seems relaxed,
Meadow too, as though the seven hours of chatting time has mellowed any mistrust between them. I
wish I had stayed awake long enough to get to know more about this witch, but I guess it’s too late
A huge black form, so familiar it wounds me just seeing him so suddenly, jumps right in front of the
truck in a bid to swerve us into a crash. I instinctively lift my hands, cutting passed the two figures
seated before me and throw him aside in instinct, catching him before he hits the ground and carefully
nestle him on the bushes, so Meadow doesn’t have to run over her alpha. I think hitting her mate was
enough on the way out, I don’t want Colton being added to her guilt list. I try not to take anything from
the moment, pushing down the biting pain and remind myself we have the witch, who soon will help me
get him back. I have to cling onto hope, that my mate will be free to come home soon.
Leyanne glances back at me knowingly, shifting in her seat, and I see the smirk that she knows she just
met my mate. That little eyebrow wiggle and ‘hmmmm’ which spells out ‘interesting’. I just don’t
understand her at all. She is neither likeable, nor unlikeable. Somewhere between good and bad and I
can’t decide if I trust or don’t. She gives off so many mixed signals but yet Sierra put so much faith in
“Home stretch, brace yourselves because I feel like they’re going to throw everything they can at us
before we cross the rune line.” Meadow warns, snapping my gaze back from Leyanne and almost on
cue the truck begins to shudder and wobble, and grind and groan, with revving effort as dozens of
wolves fly and pile up on top of us. Try as we might, between the witch and I we can only keep
sweeping them off for seconds at a time as though they somehow figured out how to cling on when
they couldn’t before.
One last shudder as it feels like the groaning roof might come down on top of us, a slight buckling of
metal as Carmen and I sit transfixed to it above and whoosh. Travelling into the fogless air, over the
protection line, swipes off the ones over our head with a dramatic flurry of bodies flying backwards. We
accelerate with a last lurch of speed, skid, and crunch into the gravel in the front of the house with a
noisy halt that sends us all falling forward to brace ourselves. We are only minutes before sunset and
the timing couldn’t be any closer. I shudder when I think of the difference if we had more of Darrius’
kind here, daylight walkers who seem way more capable than the brain-dead fanged freaks of our
“Home sweet home.” Carmen mumbles and kicks off the blanket she was cradling to her stomach
before jumping down to her feet and casting me a bank look. “You should eat right away… you haven’t
at all, and you have more than you to keep fed.” it’s a stern telling off, delivered in her usual haughty
tone but somehow, I’m getting used to her manner. I see the care behind the words and my whole face
softens at her scrutiny. The icy coldness, the blunt often rude way she has of letting words fall out of
her mouth. She’s a hard ass. No softness at all and that’s what tells me that underneath that prickly
shell, Carmen might actually be even softer than Meadow. She just doesn’t have anyone to give it to, or
trust enough to show it. It’s a way of shielding herself and acting like she cares about no one. She can’t
be hurt by people if she doesn’t give anyone the opportunity to get close enough to try.
Jasper would have been that chance to nurture the hints of love I see glimpses of in her, and now, I
have no idea what the hell is going to happen there. I’m angry at him, disappointed in what he did and
her standing here before me, I want to beat my stupid brother in the face. Even if I am overjoyed and
still in shock that he’s even still alive.
“I need to see Sierra first and then ..” I start to explain and follow her to the front to get out, but Meadow
cuts me off.
“No, she’s right. Go to the kitchens and eat. I’ll take Leyanne to Sierra, and Carmen can make sure you
get food first. Luna, you’re home. Your priority right now is giving your unborn what they need. Let us
manage things for you.” It’s her ‘I’m in charge’ bossy tone that likes to pop up when she thinks Colton
would want her to take over for me. I can’t fault her love.
I know arguing is futile and I’m weak and a little dizzy with lack of nourishment from the journey as it is.
I haven’t eaten since yesterday, since before we found Leyanne and were eating while we drove. I
hadn’t thought about it before and guilt flushes through me as I realize how careless it is. I have to be
more responsible of the children in my body.
I follow Carmen without further protest and we’re immediately swarmed by pack sentinels who saw our
arrival or were summoned by Meds. They start unloading the truck and greeting our return with
submissive nods and uttering ‘Luna’ under their breaths. A huge sense of relief in the air around me as
tense guards relax at finally laying eyes on us back home. I can taste the agony my departure caused,
and I am weighed down with another layer of remorse that I abandoned them. Despite the emotions,
nothing is amiss in any of them, or our surroundings, and it looks like our absence didn’t cause much
upheaval to the pack at all. Nothing has happened since we left.
It feels good to be home but standing in the almost darkness and staring at that imposing fog, knowing
Colton isn’t inside to greet me. To shower me with his love and hugs, that I need more than air. He’s out
there, watching and waiting for his chance to wound me instead, and it dampens my joy down
completely. Heart tearing with the return to real, eyes misting that we are so close yet still so far in
terms of bringing them out of the fog.
Instinct pulls me to the nearest wall of mist, and I get close enough to the tree line that I can see out
through the forest at where the fog physically meets the boundary. Straining to see as Carmen hangs
back, sensing I need a moment.
“Colton…. If you can hear me…. You have more than me to fight for now, don’t give up. We’re working
on it. I love you and I miss you.” its loud enough that my voice travels on the wind and yet quiet enough
and directed away from the house to not echo around the drive. Only Carmen will have caught it and
she remains silent and at a distance, giving me some space and showing respect.
The fog twirls and moves in the wind and for a second I catch a glimpse of a lone dark figure directly in
front, separated by the twenty feet or so of wood and he’s staring right at me. Full on wolf form, black,
devastating in size, claws extended in readiness, and glistening in the moon light. He’s a sight to
behold on any given day, but like this, how he is just shreds my emotions into frenzied pain and aches
heavily in my chest. His eyes are still empty darkness, and his growling snarl is unmistakable to my
ears. I would know Colton anywhere, no matter the distance.
He’s warning me that I’m his prey and if this wall wasn’t holding him back, nothing I could say would
stop him from tearing me limb from limb. We connect for one second, a tiny fragment between my mate
and I and yet I feel only his desire to kill me. Its intensity is shocking and overwhelming to my soul. I
shudder, turning away with tears blinding my eyes, to shut him out and jump when I bump into Carmen
right behind me. She’s moved closer as though to make sure I didn’t stray closer to the border.
Lingering to protect.
“It’s not really him…. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. This isn’t who he is, and you know it. When the
spell’s broken, Luna, he’ll smother you with love and protect you and his children with the ferocity of
what you see standing out there now. Try and not let this get to you… at least you know his heart is
willing when everything else is pulled away.” Her sadness bites through and she rubs my shoulder
lightly, rare physical contact, before turning on her heel and walking towards the house. She gestures
me to follow and seems sure I am coming now, I blink after her in astonishment, the hints of that caring
person I see in her sometimes, shining through and reminding me just how unfair life can be.
“Carmen? Jasper….” I don’t know what words I intended but his name alone dies on my lips with the
pain from my own heart at saying it. I realize I have no idea how to console her at all, when I don’t even
know how to process myself that my brother stands against us. Her aura changes to cold and closed
“Don’t. Karma, remember? I deserved this.” She shrugs, that controlled mask of indifference back in
place and moves off, throwing her feelings away. Sill walking without looking back and I silently shake
No, you don’t.
I maybe used to think she deserved all kinds of awful to happen to her for her part in my pain, but not
anymore. I hate that she now suffers all the things I did in some strange balance that seems to be
intent on making her feel everything I once suffered through – the death of my mom, the loss of the
pack, the mistreatment under Juan’s care. The rejection of an imprinted mate because of who she is.
Walking alone as though cut off from the shore, while trying to find her place in a new order of things.
She’s the outsider now.
Carmen doesn’t deserve to keep being put through all of this and she’s stronger than most, to keep
getting up to fight over and over again. Jasper, he was always so loving, so loyal and I know that if she
weren’t a Santo, he would the kind of mate she could only dream of. As a brother he was everything in
my world, my rock, my safe haven, and I don’t doubt a mate would be even more cherished. He would
love her in ways that would heal all her wounds, protect her, and show her what worth and stability are
in the same way he showed me.
She just happened to have the wrong name…. and nothing to do with a feud that meant her mate
despises her for that one detail alone. Jasper is an idiot to not see beyond his own hatred.
“I should go see Sierra first while you see what the kitchen has to offer. I’ll come right back, I swear.
She’ll want to see me, know I’m safe. I know how she is, and her worry won’t subside without it.
Besides, I have to tell her about….” I glance down at my stomach, feeling awkward and still not fully
confident in this new little fact at all. I still need to have it confirmed but yet, deep down inside since
Leyanne told me, I have known it to be true. I can sense something now which I ignored before and I’m
certain it was two little lives. Carmen nods sadly when I catch up with her and link my hand in hers
loosely, a natural movement borne of being friends with Meadow. She hesitates, flexes her fingers and
her hand pauses but doesn’t pull away and avoids looking at me directly.
“I can get something for you and bring it up to her suite. I’m sure Sierra will be happy to see her
daughter in the flesh, even if the witch is monopolizing her attention.” Her tone is tight, a slight lacing of
something under the surface that I can’t read. Her emotions are shielded effectively, and I sigh inwardly
that she just won’t let her guard down. Not even around her Luna.
I’m glad she doesn’t argue with me the way Meadow does on this, and we part at the inner stairway
when we get inside the house. Just the air and the atmosphere alone make me see how much tension
I’ve been holding in my body these last couple of days and I exhale to release some of it. My body
sagging at the familiar and safe surroundings, the very air in this space calling me home and soothing
that eternal weight of pain in my chest. If he wasn’t missing in this scene, then this would be heaven to
It feels less despairing than before we left. We have the witch, we have crazy revelations about my
mother, and we have hope of not only fixing this mess of this spell but ending the war. Something we
never knew how to achieve before. Which if we do, leaves only one little problem left in our list of all
things we have lost sleep over in recent months. Juan Santo and our mountain.
With the threat of vampires out of the way, maybe our focus on saving our people might actually
become priority when we get Colton back. And then Jasper… my brother out there in the world posing
a new kind of threat if he sticks to his word and comes after my people for what was done to our family.
I can’t even contemplate that right now and what will happen if he holds true to his word. Jasper
against me… or even against Colton. I know he would lose. He’s strong, his gift is speed which is why
he probably escaped Juan so long ago. His hyper speed compared to other wolves is twice as fast, but
he’s no alpha and he would never be a match for my mate. Colton is stronger, has more aggression in
his pinky, and is battle worn and calculative in a fight. I don’t know of Jaspers training these past ten
years with the vampires, and I was shocked at his level of hostile, but I could still sense he wouldn’t be
able to take me alone, let alone with my mate.
I don’t want to fight him, especially not when at the root of his goal is the pain of our loss. He loved our
pack, our family, our parents. He lost everyone, even thought I was gone, his home, and has had to
carve out life within the lap of those he was once afraid of as the enemy. Creatures he rose against in
battle and had been ingrained to fear since childhood. Living with vampires for a decade can’t have
been all that great.
And then there’s that which completely confuses me…. vampires accepted a wolf and let him live. Not
as a slave or a mistreated being, but as one of them. Initiated into their coven from what Darrius blurted
out, which raises a whole lot of questions about the morality and laws of what we once believed were
only monsters. It seems this breed we never knew existed, is far superior in so many ways to those
things out in the woods. Miles apart physically but also in morality too. It shakes everything I thought I
knew about them.
I need to talk to Leyanne about the difference between the born and the turned, and if there is one, how
the hell we create peace once more so that no more blood has to fall on either side. I don’t fancy our
chances should the born vampires come into play and be the ones to stand in battle against us instead.
I can’t even begin to contemplate my own heritage and that’s a whole head mess I’m leaving aside for
now. If I’m royalty… I’ve been killing my own kind for the past months and hating them, while maybe I
might have had a chance at stopping this. My head aches with all of it and I don’t even know how to
start pulling it apart, turning it over or figuring it out. That’s always been Colton’s forte. To see things
and figure out the chess moves, lay it out in a logical way. I miss him so much more with every second I
need him to be here.