Chapter 93: Preparation
“Has Leyanne said how much longer she needs?” I pull us back to our topic in hand, walking to her and
kneeling down to meet her face and Meadow deflates completely.
“She’s ready to go whenever we are. She’s as ready as she can be, and they’re just going over the
same things until we say it’s happening.” That downward shuffle of her eyes tells me this is a
confession of sorts. I eye her up and know with that admission that Meadow is the one who has
delayed things. Knowing she didn’t want me to be a part of this, she’s made sure I thought there was
still time to change the plan. Maybe she was holding out for the vampires to pull back and for the high
lord to intervene… either way, I can tell she’s kept this close to her chest, so I won’t push us to just do
This girl! Protecting me even by delaying reunion with her own mate. I can’t be mad at her for that.
“So…. by day or night? Which works in our favor.” I don’t intend to argue over this with her or make her
feel worse or get bogged down in these emotional details. I just need us to do this and stop the
climbing anticipation and anxiety from growing further.
“Day… it separates them. Wolves to the woods, Vampires to the mountain. Even if the wolves follow
us, it still makes it less likely of encountering them all out here in the space when our goal is the
mountain. We may not be enough to fight them all once when we get there, but the witch just needs her
moment. We need to distract and give her a little time. Once she breaks the spell, the wolves come
back to us and the vampires become less of a problem when we want to leave. We just need to hold
our own until she does what she needs to do.” Meadow stops crying, pulls herself together and sits up
to gaze at me. My bossy commander coming back to me when she knows she has to accept and get
on with her duty.
“And how many of us do we have that are capable of helping and not hindering?” I ask gently, knowing
all this she has kept quiet from me until now.
“We have less than a dozen who are fight ready, but we can make up numbers to two dozen with
males from the village who are willing to try. The stronger ones… faster ones, and some with unique
My heart sinks and my pulse quickens, knowing that’s less than I hoped for.
“Against dozens of our own… we’re still going to be so small. Outnumbered by our fiercest. God, how
did we let this happen?” The despair rings in my tone, no need to pretend I am not freaking out in front
of her, because she know sit too. Meadow rubs her face, sighing heavily to calm herself and grabs my
hand to reassure me.
“There’s no point pondering on the how… that won’t give you the right mindset to get through it.”
Carmen’s voice startles us from out of nowhere, strong and clear with that bitchy tone that separates
her from other femmes. We both turn in shock at the presence that has been elusive for days,
expecting to see a moody and frosty Carmen, but she looks awful though.
Dark circles under her eyes where normally her skin was fair and blemish free; her figure is slimmer,
like she’s not eating well and she has a pale pallor and tiredness to her eyes that suggest she isn’t
sleeping either. I never saw her this way, not even back when Colton and she were falling apart, and it
shocks me to my core to see her so unkempt. All her life and vigor is missing.
“True.” I concur, not drawing attention to how rough she looks and welcome her with a gesture, a flick
of my fingers to come over and join us.
“How have you been, Chica?” Meadow is the one to ask, softer with her since Jasper rejected her that
day and Carmen shrugs, dismissing it with a sigh. Another non answer that she’s so good at. She
moves nearer but doesn’t sit down on the grass with us, just lingers as though she feels like she’s
invading. My heart aches for this girl anytime I see her now, and I just wish she would trust even me
enough to let someone close. After those days away, I thought we would have at least taken a step
forward as friends. All she did upon return was push everyone further away and killed any progress I
thought I might have made with her.
“Raring to go beat the shit out of vampire ass and teach those witches a thing or two.” Her tone is
familiar old haughty Carmen but the intent behind it seems forced. She gives of an aura of emptiness
and I frown at her, trying so hard to get a read properly on her emotions but get that cold wall again.
“Sure, you’re up to it?” I query, not entirely convinced she has it in her to be helpful but her stubborn jut
of her chin and the way she pulls her shoulders back speaks volumes.
“Yes! How else am I going to vent all this rage and fury to get it out of my system. Those monsters took
my mom…. I have a score to settle and I’m sorry, I know they’re also kind of your people, but your
brother is right. You have to avenge those you love, or it festers, and it no longer matters if people you
care about are connected in some way.” There’s an icy edge to her words that sobers the mood.
Meadow catches my eye over the top of her head, a worried glance at Carmen’s mental state but I one
shoulder shrug it off. I know what she means and how she feels. She’s hurting, and much like Jasper,
she feels that only taking some action against the cause of that pain will ease some of her pain. She’s
not unstable, she’s angry, and broken up, and looking to find a way to offload all the horrendous
number of feelings coursing through her.
And no, I don’t care if I’m meant to be half of what those things are. In my head I already separated that
issue out and came to a conclusion why killing them has never really been an issue at all. Darrius
called them halflings, turned creatures with no real link to those born like we are. They’re not what I am
at all… their like lab rats, injected with a booster to make them worthy as soldiers and a pale copy of
something they were never meant to be. The ones like me, with red eyes, they have never graced the
battlefield and come up against the wolves, well, except one – my father. Wherever he is. So, killing the
halflings is nothing at all like killing the ones who share my blood, because they were infected and not
created in nature.
“I don’t care how many you kill; god knows we have these past months. I’m not one of them and I
understand your need to do this.” It’s a blessing in a way and I lock my eyes on her to push the point
that I truly don’t care.
“We should leave at first light… the vampires will have retraced to the mountain to avoid the sun, and
we’ve seen the wolves pull back to sleep at night, so they will be surfacing only just. That means we
can get halfway to the mountain before we encounter them and less distance to fight while Leyanne
gets the rest of the way.” Carmen is obviously someone who has been thinking this through too, and I
listen and take in what she says as Meadow nods. Impressed that despite being absent, she is worthy
of adding her own input and summarizing things.
“That makes sense. Instead of fighting from the first step, me make a run for it straight to the mountain
in the tiny time gap we have open. If we’re lucky we distract them around the base while Leyanne gets
in with the ones needed to distract the vampires. Cuts down the time we need to keep fighting against
our own and minimizes failure.”
“Is the plan… split us in two and take a species each to distract so the witch can go alone?” Carmen
finally nestles into the grass and mimics Meadows habit of ripping out strands of grass while thinking. I
know it’s such a tiny movement and insignificant, but by merely sitting down with us, getting on our
level, it warms my heart and makes me want to hug her. That step to come closer and be involved
again, like she was when we went looking for Leyanne. It’s so stupid to get emotional over it but I do,
and I blink at her as my eyes mist over and try to conceal it. Damn hormones, from these two minis
inside me are making me soft.
“It’s the only plan we have. She needs to focus her powers on witches and spells. Not keeping
vampires and wolves at bay.” Meadow answers her while I pull myself back to normal. Realizing a lot of
my up’s and downs these past weeks are probably a lot to do with being pregnant before I knew I was.
“So two dozens of us, several dozen of our pack to get through and probably the same number of
vamps… wow, we’re really making life easy.” Carmen tries to joke with that heavy sarcastic way she
has but it’s the reality and it’s depressing. All things are weighed against us.
“Wolves will kill wolves, you know this?” Meadow brings us all back to somber with her words and we
all lower our eyes to the grass as I slump down onto my butt away from aching calves. No one has
wanted to talk about this, even though it’s been hanging in the air since we knew we had to go out
there, but we can’t keep ignoring it. The ones enchanted will fight to kill, we know this, while our own,
they’ll fight to keep them at bay and hope that the spell breaks before someone dies. We don’t want to
hurt our pack, we love them and know this isn’t their fault, but they don’t have any reason to restrain
themselves against us. To them, we’re enemies they don’t know but only hate.
“Maybe the fates will bless us and no lives that are wolves will be lost in this.” I murmur, lacking
conviction because even I know that’s a far reach but I have to hold onto hope.
“If we don’t’ all come home, I want you guys to do something for me… please. I know it’s an ask but….”
Carmen pauses mid grass tugging and takes a silent heavy breath as though trying to steady her
emotions. We both turn to her, surprised she has a request, given how self-sufficient she always acts.
“Put flowers down for my mom every year. She was innocent in all of this…. She never did wrong to
anyone. She didn’t deserve to die that away.”
“Carmen?” the tears catch in my throat and I throw my arms around her impulsively, reacting to the
pain in my chest that swells up by what she said. “You can do it yourself. You’re one of our strongest
and fiercest, I have no doubts you will be one who comes back.”
Meadow leans forward to her in my embrace and strokes her hair, for once not seeing green at my
kindness to the girl, instead offering affection, and she agrees.
“You skanky puta, stop talking nonsense. Your ass is way too cursed to take the easy way out and
you’re going be bugging me for eternity just because you can. I’m not so lucky to have a way to get rid
of you so easy, huh.” Meadows light tone, and sassy self break the mood and I giggle at her through
misted eyes. Carmen laughs too, so unexpectedly it seems to completely change the mood, through a
show of tears at Meadow and shakes her head. A sudden warmth between the three of us, a solitude
of being sister wolves with one common goal.
“I have no fight left… I’m tired. I don’ t think I’m meant to come back from this. I’m just meant to make
sure you do, especially these… I see that now. It’s why they chose him, as a message to what’s
important, and he rejected me for the reason he did.” she rubs my stomach gently from her awkward
angle, stunning me with her open affection and a show of Carmen’s caring side, and sniffs noisily. “I
knew as soon as that witch told you about these, that it’s why I was brought back. To stop it happening
to you, what happened to me… I don’t know how, but I felt it. These two, I’m supposed to make sure
they live… whether I do or not.”
I stare at her, eyes wide in open mouthed shock. Trying so hard to grasp the pieces together of where
she even got that and the clogged feeling in my throat almost kills me. Moved back to tears by this
show of softness, a declaration she will protect me and my children and sacrifice herself. The girl who
hated me most, and stood in my way, just swore to be my shield and ensure the future of my babies. I
can’t conjure words as they stick in my mouth and my heart aches with so much. Meadow swallows
loudly, her own eyes once again damp.
“I loved him…. These womb fruit…. they’re part of you both, and I love them too. My bond to your
brother gave me a bond to you as a sister…. I care about you, even if I never wanted to. Your stubborn
ass, clingy, little do gooder self, who wormed her way under my wall. God, you’re so irritating in that
wholesome sweet way I hate. No wonder he likes you.” She smiles at me, somewhat in a mocking way,
trying to take away the fondness in her tone but it doesn’t reach her eyes or touch on the sadness I see
there. It tugs a smile from me regardless; a warmth she’s finally admitting we have some sort of
friendship but an agony that she is only doing so because she thinks she is near the end of her life. “I
know it’s crazy, and doesn’t make sense, but it does to me. I know it’s what I’m meant to do to redress
everything. I’ll make sure no harm comes to you and my life will be yours. Just remember me and take
I don’t know what to say and Meadows stunned silence mirrors mine. A new heavy tension crackling
I know it’s Carmen’s fatigue and her emotional state talking and I in no way believe she has this right.
But she’s convinced herself and given herself a purpose to feel somehow worthy… because she still
thinks she isn’t… she’s wrong. My babies don’t need her sacrifice, they need an aunt, and I’m going to
do everything to make sure she comes home as long as we do. She’s my family now, even if my
brother didn’t accept her. She’s my sister. Just like Meadow is.
“Carmen, no, that’s not how the fates work. They wouldn’t make you sacrifice your life to save others.”
Meadow tries to reason, finally finding a hoarse voice but Carmen shakes her head, and I can see this
if futile. She’s mentally in pain and I guess the human part of her finally broke. Jasper was the last
shove of pressure on a thin and dwindling thread. He took the last ounces of her light and it breaks me
inside to know this.
“Isn’t that what Sierra did? So why not me too? I’m okay, really, I’m at peace with it…. I don’t plan on
leaving your side unless I die. I swear to you, Luna… you’ll come home, and I’ll go accompany mom
through to the other side.”