Chapter 101: The Truth
“Ten years ago, it was about all wolves… a species that dared to kill his woman and his unborn child for
merely existing. When he found out she lived and died at the hands of the Santo pack and he thought
his child too, he concentrated his hatred on one pack alone.” Leyanne wanders casually across the
floor, shrugging as she goes, and all eyes follow her. An awkward quiet around the room instantly as
we all digest this.
“That’s why the fog stayed only with us and them … nothing further out. We saw no vampires in our
entire trip to find Leyanne.” Meadow fills in the blanks, adding to what I guess she spoke to the witch
about, and brings my mind to the truth of her observation. Outside the Santo domain, we never picked
up on a single vampire in eight hours of cross-country travel. Not one sense of them, no scent in the air
at all. It’s why Leyanne didn’t care about leaving us out in the darkness alone. She knew we weren’t in
danger so far from the mountain because vampires weren’t hunting any pack that wasn’t Santo. It
makes sense now.
“Correct. Because there were none. I told you; vampires dwell where people don’t and only venture
where wolves are when they have a bone to chew. This time, that bone was buried in your father’s
garden. Under his patio…” She seems almost smug at her euphemism, smiles with a hint of sarcastic
glee, and dusts the mantle as though she’s merely made a small joke. That accent of hers making it
sound more like a mocking sentence than a pretty important proclamation. Her calmness grates on my
growing nerves and I shuffle in my seat.
“So, the attacks on the home, the tests with the weapon? We weren’t just unlucky…. we were always
the target!” Cesar pipes in, repeating the obvious and Leyanne nods, turning slowly to face us as a
group and moves back against the mantel to get comfy. I stare at her with a sense of surreal, feeling
like this is all a weird dream and digesting it slowly.
If only the vampires knew how ironic that was, what they did. That they almost killed the reason they
were even there in the first place. My father would have seen me dead at his own hands was it not for
Colton and his pack saving me that night. It’s almost funny.
Their weapon, their tests, hit the home that concealed his child for almost a decade and yet the pack
he hated protected me. If only he knew how close he was to taking down his daughter, the Santo heir,
Juan and their Luna at the same time. My death would have ended it all, by taking the three of them
with me. Yet it wouldn’t have balanced anything at all. I would have died at vampire hands.
“They’re shadowing us here…. because of our bloodline. No wonder they never left. They stalked us,
they persisted. And yet the war never progressed. They were waiting and biding time, even if that took
years to get past our boundaries.” Matteo runs a hand across his face, his voice deflated as minor
shock reverberates around the stillness of the room. I sense Colton tensing beside me and glance up,
catching his eye on me as he swallows noticeably and then he turns and looks at all the faces, locked
on the witch and the eerie pause to our normally humdrum group.
“There was no war intended. It was always about avenging Marina and Alora. And now he knows about
her, which means he focused his efforts on avenging her mother instead. He knew I’d take care of the
witches in no time, and that the mongrels he left were no real threat to his child. With Alora’s brother in
tow, and his need to avenge Marina too, they aren’t walking away quietly as we hoped. He still wants to
address the balance. Darrius warned us because he knows you have people there that still shouldn’t
be part of this, and Vampires don’t lay down grudges when vengeance has been their path for
decades.” Leyanne sighs heavily.
“Why would he warn us? What does he care?” I finally find my voice and question the motives of that
dark weirdo. He didn’t seem all too invested in wolf lives back at that road.
“Darrius is a strange one, honor bound. He’s a Shadow Knight commander of the highest order and
he’s never agreed with Varro’s need to crush your kind in revenge. It goes against his code, so he
stood back and lifted no finger in the war of the past and kept the Shadow Knights out of it.” Leyanne’s
voice softens and I can tell, despite her cool manner and indifferent tone and Darrius’ obvious darker
disposition, she has respect for him. Even if she makes it out like it’s a flaw that he has morals.
“What do we do, Cole… those are our people?” Radar sits down suddenly as though shock weakens
his legs, pulling my attention to the eyes around the room and I swallow hard as I try to compute all
this. I feel like crying and yet something more terrifying simmers inside that we should really be worried
“He doesn’t know that if Juan dies… I do.” I point out, mumbling it loud enough for those around to hear
and Colton slides his hand over mine and sits on the arm to press close to me. Giving me his comfort
because he can sense my anxiety, confusion, and fear. Leyanne exhales heavily, an expression of
minor irritation crossing her face as she focuses on me.
“It’s not a detail Darrius would have excluded but that won’t stop Varro wiping out everyone else who’s
there and making Juan watch. I don’t think Juan’s death is his goal….. it’s vengeance he seeks. Even if
he has to kill everyone to get to him and then lock him in a cage for the rest of his days. Varro is cruel
and torture is better suited to his personality. I believe he’ll make Juan suffer until the end of his days.”
Her words soothe and yet horrify me at the same time.
“We can’t let them kill everyone at the mountain. There’s so many innocents.” I choke out the words,
my head bombarded with so many faces, as my eyes mist over at the thought of losing them, because
of my mother. These were people she fought alongside to protect. How was she to know the war was
because of us.
“I told him that, but Darrius, he’s not exactly the warmest of souls. His response was merely that many
innocents had died in the past, what was a few more if we wanted an end to this. All Darrius cares
about is that he no longer gets dragged along watching his future king waste his time on an inferior
species. He wants him back where he belongs, back where he is to eventually rule. He warned us so
we know what’s coming, but he won’t sway Varro either way.” Leyanne shrugs with one shoulder,
making it clear that Darrius is not really going to be of any use to us in this. He’s an information passer
at most and his loyalty is with Varro, even if what he’s doing is against Darrius’ code.
“Son of a bitch! That’s what you get for trusting a cold-blooded monster like them. Fucking vampires,
man!” Remo is the one to explode, throwing his arms out in agitation but Leyanne doesn’t seem to look
offended at all.
I dare say she doesn’t trust Darrius any more than we do and he’s more of an acquaintance for her
benefit than a friend. I’m not even surprised that cold blooded demon doesn’t give two craps about
innocents. I got the impression he doesn’t feel at all; like he has no humanity. He can stand back and
watch many die over these decades and do nothing, when he has an army of his own that could have
intercepted in some way, so many times.
Shadow Knights… pffft. What good are they? It’s as much a crime to stand idle and do nothing as it is
to be part of the attacks and killing innocents.
“If we want to save them. Then it has to be done by us. We have to go to the mountain and protect
them ourselves. With us they stand a chance, without us… they die.” Colton gets up, letting go of my
hand and starts pacing to match Cesar. Both seemingly intent on passing by one another as they walk
back and forth on the rug.
My anxiety elevates thirty million times more just watching the restlessness of the two most tactical
minded among us. I know his head is in overdrive as he thinks this through, and I squeeze my eyes
shut to get my breathing under control. Knowing what he says is fact and that they don’t stand a
chance as a fractured pack. We took the strongest and they don’t have any real leadership left with
I thought we were done with fighting and now less than a day later we’ll have to do it all over again.
Only this time my brother is on the other side. We’ll have to side with Juan against everything we feel,
for the sake of the people and march out there to unify. I can’t believe this is what we’re even
contemplating but I know in my heart that Colton’s right.
“And when we get there…. can we be sure that Juan won’t mount an offensive against us, even if we’re
trying to help?” Radar the one who always sees flaws in our plans, points out the discrepancies, and
questions the angles. I look to Colton with a nod, that it could be a very plausible outcome and we
should seriously take time to think about this before we decide. Juan vowed to never let his son take
back his power… Juan won’t see us as anything but an enemy if we go home. Even if we fight to save
Colton fixes his gaze on me, stalling in his pacing and exhales loudly. His whole posture stiff and tense
and I can feel his stress levels hitting the roof, even at a distance. The weight of his emotion pulling my
“We can’t keep ignoring what happens to them. We’ve done it for too long and this time, if we do it
again, none of them will be alive by morning. I can’t fail them anymore…. what kind of an alpha does
that make me?” He drops his chin to his chest, breaking his focus on me and I catch the moist sheen
over his eyes from here as he battles with the turmoil of this situation. His guilt heavy because I know
that he’s struggled all these months with what to do about the ones we left behind. It’s plagued him
“We could warn them, make them leave… get those out that we can in daylight. I mean they still need
darkness to attack, right? So we have time?” Carmen this time, trying to find a solution with a
somewhat upbeat tone as she perches on the edge of her seat. I sink my head into my hands and rub
my temples in defeated exhaustion. My brain throbbing from all of this and emotions strangling me at
the same time. Anxiety growing and hemming me in at the wall and hard place we find ourselves
“If they want them that badly, no matter where we take them, they’ll still come. And we don’t have room
here, not for the long run. If this is what he needs to end this, there’s no outrunning it. Colton’s right. We
have to go there and protect who we can and let Varro kill who he needs to while making sure Juan
isn’t one of them.” Meadow is the voice of reason as this all swirls inside my head and makes me dizzy.
I know that this is because of me and I can’t accept that the losses and deaths, all of this, came out of
my being conceived. I can’t process it.
“Son of a bitch… fuck stupid mate bonds.” Radar snorts out through gritted teeth, his anger flaring in
his raspy tone. He storms off towards the bookcase before slamming a fist into a row of them and
sends them scattering to the floor with a clattering noise, giving me a jolt as he does so. My heart
hammering as I recover from flinching at his sudden aggressive display, but it only adds to my uptight
tetchiness. It’s no guessing where his anger is focused and that in itself makes me feel worse. If only
Radar had been Sierra’s fated mate, then maybe everything would have been so different.
I exhale and throw my head back on my chair and try to relax my sprawled body, inhale slowly as
nausea rises around me and pushes out the deafening guilt that’s building. I only end up stiff as a
board and unable to release the tightness of my shoulder muscles as tears fog out my vision.
Hormones are making this worse and I’m already exhausted to the point that I can’t think straight.
“There’s maybe a chance I ….. if I can see Jasper and my father. Maybe I can talk to them, stop this.
Maybe I can somehow….” I don’t even know. I’m deflated, grasping, consumed by the responsibility of
all this and I feel completely useless. This is partly about me, so shouldn’t I be able to fix it?
Didn’t the fates pick me because of all of this? Why don’t I have the answers if they have been guiding
me all along? What good am I? Or my gifts that can’t be used. I don’t get why it seems just when I
might have a purpose, the fates throw in a curveball and render me useless all over again.
Knowing I was alive didn’t even stop this, so what really am I here for? What is the point of me being
what I am when I feel shackled and useless.
“You heard Jasper… Santo is the enemy, and he won’t stop until he takes revenge. Not even the mate
bond could make a difference, not his sister being alive, and certainly not pleading.” Carmen sounds
bitter, pulling me to sit up slightly with her tone and I look to her. Catching her eye and biting my lip on
the surging pain as I recognize her inner sadness. I’m not ready to admit defeat when we still have
hope, even if she seems to be. She deadpan locks her gaze on mine and unflinchingly shakes her
head at me, as though telling me this is not a solution.
“Maybe the two of us, there, ready to stand in front of him and die… maybe that will make a difference.
I know my brother, he’s not evil. He’s not a killer. He’s in pain and he has a stubborn head and a loyal
heart, and he thinks this is what he needs to stop the agony in his existence.” I mumble, attempting to
appeal to her, trying to send some sort of begging message, hoping to invest her in this a little more. I
can tell by her closed off expression and her bleak and cold aura that she isn’t buying it. I know what
she’s thinking. That this is futile, and she won’t be a part of being humiliated for a second time at my
brother’s hands when it will change nothing.
“Well, I guess I better come along and try and do damage control. I mean, I was planning on heading
out, but as the vampires hired me to solve the issue of Varro returning home, and I’m not quite done
with that…. guess we march to your mountain.” Leyanne cuts in abruptly, bringing everyone’s attention
back to her and her steady and nonchalant tone. She really doesn’t seem like anything in this world
phases her at all. It’s like she just announced we were going grocery shopping and not taking control of
a decision to go fight in a battle to the death.
“You can stop him from killing Juan right…. if we fail, if all goes to shit.” Colton is the one eyeing her
now, homing in on her usefulness and I can tell by the surge of hope he gives off that he thinks the
witch might have influence. My heart sinks, because I know him so well. Nothing will sway him from
marching there now his mind is made up, and despite everything, he will fight to protect his people
even if they turn on us when we get there. He already knows it’s what we’ll do and he’s already
planning. As much as I don’t want to do this, I know it’s happening. She shrugs at him and then exhales
slowly and heavily.
“Yes… I can protect your sniveling weasly old man if that’s what you need. It won’t be too much of an
inconvenience… You know, if Sierra hadn’t used one of my spells to bind her life to Alora, this would
have been an easy fix.” Leyanne gestures the twins to move their legs as she looks like she’s planning
on leaving the room by walking past the couch where they’re sat. Her faint smile on show, and that
indifferent vibe once more. “Just saying.” She adds with a hair flick before she wanders off, obviously
done with this meeting and she knows what her part is in it. She doesn’t seem like she wants to sit and
mull it over now she knows what role she has.
I scowl at her parting words, along with most sat present, and disagree with her silently while
separately glaring after her. Tied to Juan or not, Sierra should never be put at risk. That witch really is a
cold and heartless one if she thinks sacrificing a life is the answer to everything.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck … fucking, fuck!!” Colton’s spew of expletives and his hostile and loud elbow ram into
the bookcase near him startles me and startles the room once more with the sudden outburst. “We
need to recall the pack, pick out the strongest, apologize for making them do this all over fucking again!
Then head to the mountain before dusk. God dammit. Fuck my life….. Most of them haven’t had a
chance to recover and now I’m asking them to put their lives on the line all over again.” He vents and
kicks the wastebin across the floor with an impressive thrust, to the desk leaving it dented as it
attempts a wonky roll under a chair. All eyes following and quietly understanding his need to get the
“The pack will do what’s needed. Not for you, but for them. The ones we left behind. They’re our
familia, we won’t abandon them this time.” Meadow soothes him from her seated position, but the
heaviness in the air is suffocating and I know everyone feels the same way.
We always intended one day to do something about the split pack on the mountain, I just didn’t think it
would be like this. We thought we had time to come up with a plan. We have to protect them, they’re
part of us too. We can’t watch them die when most of them had nothing to do with what Juan did to my
family. They’re only crime was staying behind. And the reasons for that are not a simple case of loyalty
to father or son or even choosing a side.
“We have zero time to plan, to even think about this. It’s now… happening, and we can’t ignore it.”
Colton lets it out, the stress he’s been holding and sinks down on the arm of my chair where I
automatically lean forward to rub my hand up his back to console him. My touch softening his rigid
posture a tad and he leans in to scoop my other in his and pulls it to his lap to cradle tightly. My touch is
his harbor sometimes, even when I feel like he’s locked up inside his own head.
“We have half a day…. We can rally what we need. Pack the trucks and sit at the mountain waiting for
dusk. Juan won’t attack us if vampires are invading. He’ll be too distracted, so we can focus on the
people. Separate them…. Juan’s loyal from the rest. Maybe if we divide two camps and just work our
ass off to keep them safe, then Varro will do what he needs to do and realize we won’t back down.”
Meadow is determined and I nod almost numbly, seeing the logic in her words and daring to hope. If we
stand up for them, not standing in his way with regards to Juan, then maybe we have a chance. If his
efforts are focused on one camp, then he may leave ours alone.
“I think with me there…. With Carmen there… we might have a shot at swaying them once they take
down all Juan’s men. Juan, they can have him, as long as they know he has to live, and they can take
him away so the rest can be free.” I chime in, knowing somewhere my words will be hurting Colton but
he doesn’t react or look my way. It’s still his father but he knows it’s what he deserves.
“No, they’ll torture him… if they do that, you will all feel it when he’s close to death. You’ll feel extreme
pain, They can’t put you all through that.” Cesar is drumming it over while tapping his thumb on his leg
and Meadow gets up and goes to him. Wrapping her arms around his waist as he envelopes her in and
hugs her back. Pulling her onto his lap as she curls up tight and for once, looks vulnerable in his arms.
I’m so used to seeing strong, sexy Meadow, that this sudden need for her mate’s reassurance and the
coiling up in him makes me even more determined that I have to protect my pack. We’re all scared of
the outcome and yet here I am…. with the means to really end this. Simply existing.
“When will this all end? I feel like I’ve spent my life killing and fighting these damn creatures and one
day I just want to settle down and think about puppies. Half the sub pack is already retired because
they have their own…I want to be like that one day too.” Meadow starts to cry, shocking us all with the
show of tears, and without meaning to my eyes fly straight to Carmen who glances away and bites on
her lip. I curse myself for the reaction, but any mention of babies and I can’t help it, she’s the first thing I
look at. Guilt sweeps over me and I stare at my hand in Colton’s instead as the heat form my cheeks
engulfs my face.
“We just have to get through this…. I told you didn’t I, your papi will give you the best pups when life is
more stable. Maybe this is the last hurdle. We have so much time left Princesa.” Cesar leans in and
kisses her gently on the temple, and I caress my stomach absentmindedly, catching Colton’s eyes
move to follow my motion and a steely expression floods his face as his warrior side shows face. That
air of stubborn comes out of nowhere and he stands up, letting go of me and stiffening aggressively.
“You know, screw this. You’re right. This is the last hurdle and then after…..a stable life to raise my
kids. We just got to suck it up, do what we got to do, and then be done with this shit. All of it. The
vampires, the feud with the mountain, my father’s shadow, living in fear…..it all ends if we do this right
and sort this out tonight. I will hand my father to that vampire myself if I have to. In a cage, bound and
gagged, if it means this ends, and we all get to walk away alive.”
My breath catches in my throat and my pain aches with the way he just came out and said it.
In one little reaction he told me what I’ve been waiting to hear since he found out. That he wants them,
that somewhere he’s accepted they exist, and he is ready to protect them. He was never one for
emotional chats or opening up too much when it came to feelings. Especially when he was carrying so
much else on his shoulders, so this is enough for me.
I get that happy joyous reactions are a no, given our circumstances and the way he was fired with a
multitude of facts in one go, but this tells me what I needed to hear. He is happy. He’s just holding it in
check until he can relax, knowing we’re safe and he can let out his feelings about the fact he’s going to
be a dad. He can priorities them when his responsibility to everyone else is dealt with. I know him well
enough to see that this is what this is.
“With the vampires attacking, we can at least separate out the ones not loyal to your father as he’ll be
focused on saving his own ass anyway.” Matteo who’s been quiet finally cuts in and throws Colton a
reassuring look that we got this, and we have nothing to worry about. He’s right too. Juan won’t care
about the people, only himself. His attention won’t be on the valley or anyone that can’t shield him.
His loyal will protect him and look to him alone, while they let the rest die. It won’t be hard to see which
wolves we should be there for.
“Darrius and the Lord are the only two vampires with any kind of real strength that we should fear, and
neither will harm me. Darrius won’t even lift a finger. If he took only the strongest from the mountain
and left behind the weak then it’ll be tougher than what we just did, but not impossible. Wolves have
defeated halflings before, we will again.” Carmen brings the voice of certainty out, somehow finding
that inner fire I know is always just within grasp, even when she wobbles. The quiet nods of agreement
seal our fate, as we all understand and agree what’s to come.
She seems somehow stronger in this second, determined, and there’s a look in her eye that tells me
she isn’t about to go down without a fight. A moment hits me in the stomach, a tiny little tremor that had
I never come back to Colton, I think she would have been a Luna in her own right. She maybe isn’t the
warm and approachable Luna in the traditional sense, but maybe in time she might have grown that
way if she had felt secure in her mates love. She’s a warrior for sure.
The pack isn’t done fighting yet and tonight, before we even have time to catch our breaths once more,
we will face a battle we’ve been putting off for months. It’s time to go home and save our people, and
maybe this time, the problem that is Juan might get some sort of resolution.
“Witches are no longer an issue; my only responsibility is what the vampires first asked of me…. To get
Lord Varro to give up this vendetta and go back to where he belongs to begin learning to rule. I can
achieve that tonight, and your people, will see an end to a twenty-year fight once and for all. So, I’m
coming, and I can possibly offer a little protection where it’s needed.” Leyanne’s voice cuts in from the
open doorway, surprising me, and I realize that despite her leaving, she didn’t actually go far or she’s
come back. She is lazing against the frame, seemingly bored and looking out of place in such a casual
Despite not being sure about Leyanne, I feel like we can rely on her and trust is growing when it comes
to which side she fights for. She keeps people at a distance much like Carmen does and she has an
aura that she doesn’t care too deeply, but I guess at three thousand years old she has cared about
many and had to watch them die. Maybe the repeated loss of people growing old and fading around
you made her not want to soften towards anyone anymore. She doesn’t seem bad; she seems
disconnected, lacks feelings, yet helpful because its suits her to be. I cannot imagine the loneliness of
her existence at all and I could maybe forgive her lack of heart when I think that maybe she’s just bled
one too many times.
“I guess we do this. Meds call an early meeting in the hall; we need to see what numbers we’re taking
and prepare. Radar, you are the commander of the Luna’s guard and that’s what I need now. Form the
ones you want to shield Lorey and my mom, make sure they’re worthy. I don’t want any mistakes… she
stays safe in this. They both do. Matteo, go sort out transport for as many of us as possible, the rest will
have to travel on foot. We need a map of the mountain and a tactical plan of where we wait and where
we launch an attack. That’s on you Cesar. I have to go see my mom…. Leyanne you do what you need
to do, we appreciate the help. I guess we just…. hope and fight and see where this ends.” Colton
scrubs his fingers through his hair, his voice strong but I can feel the tiredness in his tone, his fatigue
obvious and stress weighing heavily on him. This is what he was born to do and I doubt anyone else
would be able to do it the way he does. I know his father is sitting heavily on his mind, because either
way, tonight Juan will be the focus and finally this will be the end. It’s why he wants to see his mom,
because he knows as well as I do that she will want to be there whether he wants her to or not.
She was his mate; she is linked to his soul and she has just as much right to hate him and want to see
him suffer as I do. She lost a decade of her life as his silent prisoner and her future is empty because of
her bond to him. It’s only fair that she gets a chance to see him shackled and caged and led away by a
species that will make him live in agony without death for as long as he breathes. She wouldn’t want to
stay here and see everything she suffered for happen without her.
“There’s one thing… I have a possible solution to a problem of yours Colton. Seems I do have a trick
up my sleeve. I’ll have it ready by the time we need to leave. I just need to make a few adjustments.”
She holds up a book she didn’t have with her before and I guess it’s where she went. To get it from the
grimoire library and came back because she found something. I eye her with interest and let my gaze
sway to the leather-bound ancient book held loosely by her side with interest.
“What solution to what problem? Colton blinks as he stares back at her, also flicking a glance at the
aged book in her hand. Leyanne moves to leave and stops with a self-satisfied smile and gestures
towards me with a flourish.
“A life bound…. only mates should hold that power. It wasn’t ordained by the fates, but by magic’s
touch and with magic’s breath it can be undone. Especially when the source is standing right here.
Although I don’t think you want to tell your mother about it…. who knows what ideas she might get if
her life no longer endangers yours.” She shrugs with one shoulder as my mouth falls open and I gasp
in realization at what she’s saying.
“You mean unbind me from Sierra? So that her death is no longer mine?” That means Juan’s death
would not take us from this world…only Sierra.
My blood runs cold as I realize why she doesn’t think Sierra should know and Colton looks instantly
afraid. His mind going the same place as mine and coming to the same conclusion. To rid the world of
Juan, and to end her bleak future, she would sacrifice herself. Like she once did to ensure my survival.
We both know Sierra would do it without hesitation and the sudden chill of Radar’s aura sweeps my
way as his emotions overwhelm the space with the same realization.