29. Rabid grizzly bears are a nice go-to lie.

The drowning rush of fear didn't allow me to do anything. Not even shift. This was it. In a split second, my life would be over. All the hands had to do was squeeze or rip and I couldn't think of a reason why they wouldn't.

"Dee! I got him!" The person—a guy—behind me yelled, shocking me so badly my legs gave out. It didn't matter though, the grip on me loosened then switched lightning quick to under one of my arms and my opposite thigh. Then I was flying. Straight up. Really fast.

I screamed and Piper howled below me. All I could do was watch as the ground raced away from me and then begin to come back as I started to fall. Suddenly, I was jerked to a stop by a hand grabbing my arm and just my arm. I screamed again as I felt my shoulder pop out of the socket.

"Stop whining will ya?" I looked up at the person who held my arm—which was pulsing in agony—to see a blond vampire. Unlike the one in the cabin, she wasn't acting like she had rabies. She looked more normal, but not completely human-like. She had too many teeth and she was clinging to the tree she was hanging off of with short claws that seemed like they would be more at home on a werewolf than a vampire. "And I wouldn't struggle if I was you, dogs don't land on their feet."

I couldn't get much more than a strangled yelp out as she jumped away from the tree, dragging me with her. She landed roughly on a branch of the next tree over. Pain shot through my arm and I screamed again. She didn't take the time to tell me to shut up, she just jumped again and again, moving through the treetops like she was some kind of undead ninja.

Fuck this! I pushed through the pain and the fear. This would probably hurt, but not as much as whatever she had planned for me once we got where we were going.

As soon as she landed again, I kicked off of the tree which let me jump up closer to her. I flailed my other arm up and tried to grab something, anything. My movement unbalanced her, so she had thrown her free hand against the tree, otherwise I don't think I would have connected—I'd seen how fast vampires could move.

For one heart-stopping moment, I thought I had only grabbed air, then I realized I had a chunk of her hair. I pulled. It was her turn to scream now. I screamed with her as blood splashed against my face and I was left holding a chunk of hair with a scrap of skin attached. I flung it away from me with another scream. I only about a half of a second to freak out about it before she released me out of shock to slap a hand against her bleeding head.

Then I was falling. I hit the ground hard. I tried to cover my head and neck with my still working arm as much as I could. I didn't know if my sloppy technique actually worked or if there were some baby angels out there that finally decided to give me a break. Nothing broke and I didn't knock myself unconscious while the forest was full of murderous vampires. I got up and was running full tilt in an eye blink. I could hear crashing in the trees behind me, but I didn't know if she was chasing me on foot now or if it was one of her friends.

I just ran.

A few moments later, the treeline thinning dramatically disoriented me enough that I slowed down a hair. I quickly realized I had run the wrong way. Those fucking baby angels. I had been trying to go back to Piper, but I had ended up near the highway. I kept going. Maybe I could see if the pack was heading this way? Maybe flag someone down?

I left the trees and saw that I was at one of the small rest stops in the area. There were no cars driving by, but there was one parked in one of the spots. I had to do a double take since the person leaning against the car, checking something on their phone wasn't a werewolf, but they were familiar.

It was the fucking substitute that had taken over for Mr. Sander's class. I couldn't even remember his name, but I knew he was human, and this was no place for a human.

I wrapped my good arm around the other in an attempt to stabilize it, it throbbed, but it didn't hurt as much as it had when the vampire had been using it to fling me all around the forest. I then ran over to him, trying to keep my speed within the human limit—though I was throwing all that subterfuge away if any vampires showed up, they obviously weren't concerned about keeping the humans in the dark—and called out. "Hey, Mr..." I mumbled something and coughed.

He jumped in surprise, but gave me a smile. "Oh, yes, Mr. Harper, from my first period." The smile faded a bit. "Aren't you out here kind of late?"

Fuck! I didn't need this dude trying to call my parents or anything, I needed him to get gone. "Ah, yeah, but I'm into stars. I was checking out the stars." My stupid mouth decided to say.

The sub looked up to the sky. I took the chance to look behind me. I didn't hear any crazy vampires chasing me anymore. Hopefully, someone from the pack had caught up to her. "They are rather nice here." I snapped my attention back to him. "I grew up in a big city, so I never got to see them like this."

"Yeah, it's nice, but um, you should go." He just cocked an eyebrow at me. "Because um..." Think, Rory, think! "There was a bear sighting!" Fuck! That was dumb, but it was something. "Grizzly, a big one, maybe rabid. They said it wasn't afraid of people. So you know, you probably shouldn't be hanging around here."

The sub just continued to look at me doubtfully. "A grizzly? Really?"

I frantically nodded. Just believe me, I silently pleaded. Just go so you're not the second of my teachers to be killed by vampires.

"Well, that does sound dangerous." He didn't sound like he was buying it at all. "I'll think I'll head home, then." He said and I almost melted into a puddle in relief. "But how about I drive you to that gas station up the road? I don't want you out here by yourself if there's something going on." Nope, not puddle time. He was looking at me more closely now. I didn't know what he was thinking, probably either that I had gotten into a fight or was out here doing drugs. "You can call your parents and they can pick you up there."

Okay, I knew all about Stranger Danger, but the dude was a substitute teacher. And a human. Plus, he wasn't being creepy or anything, offering to drop me off in a public place instead of going straight to my house or his. And most of all, I just needed him away from the werewolf vs. vampire fight going on.

"Okay, sure." He unlocked his car—an ugly green Toyota Corolla—and got into the driver's seat. I got in on the passenger side.

"Seat belt, please." He said as he started up the car and locked the doors. I just put seat belt on—one handed, hoping he wouldn't notice and start worrying about my dislocated shoulder—trying to keep an eye out on the surrounding area. He reached out to adjust the rear view mirror and I almost started yelling. What, was this guy a part-time driving instructor, too?

My impatience turned into confusion as I realized he wasn't adjusting the mirror. No, he was reaching for the small metal charm hanging off of a cord that was wound around the mirror. And then the confusion turned into fear as soon as he touched it. I felt my limbs grow heavy and I couldn't keep my eyes open. The smell of magic grew thick in the car.

"Just relax, you're not dinner. You're special. Hopefully." He said just as I lost consciousness.


I knew nothing and there was just darkness for a moment before I was floating again.

Like during the spell Elan and Soren had done, I was outside of my body. I could see it, slumped in the seat. Though, unlike before, everything was moving at regular speed. I didn't have the luxury of slow-mo to figure out how to escape. The sub—no, the witch—was on the phone now. Looking through the windshield, I could see he was driving away from North Ridge.

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

"What do you mean 'am I certain?' There's no 'certain' with this job." The witch was saying to whoever was on the other side of the call. "Vague, ancient ramblings and confessions under torture aren't dependable, but I think I have what they're looking for."

Torture!? And what were they looking for? Me!? Someone was looking for me!?

"I'm dropping the package off, then I'm going to the meeting. If you don't hear from me in twenty-four hours, light the fuse." There was a pause. "Yes, I'm serious. Did you see the kind of spells they were fronting us? They want this werewolf bad and the fact that they were willing to hire outside of their Family means they're going to try erase us after they get what they want." Another pause and I could hear the other person freaking out. "Calm down! That's why Martin set up the precautions in the first place. If they try anything funny, they don't get shit. Not the werewolf, not our info, nothing." A longer pause. "Well, no it's probably just going to be split in half, now. I can't get a hold of Martin, so he's probably dead." A short pause. "I'd bet on the werewolves. Or, who knows, maybe that leader of theirs figured out her and her little gang were just cannon fodder and offed him in retaliation."

Okay, this was illuminating—and fucking scary—but it wasn't getting me out of this car.

The charm—and now I knew that was exactly what it was in the proper witchy sense—wasn't around the rear view mirror anymore, it had been hastily wrapped around the hand that held his phone. If I could snatch it from him, that would probably end the spell, but...

I tried to smack him, but absolutely nothing happened. I was little better than a ghost like this. Hell, ghosts could probably affect the world more than I could, what with all the hauntings they got up to.

I needed help. I looked down at my "body" and found the thread that connected me to Piper. I grabbed it and thought about Piper. He'd been stuck under that hunk of tree when that vampire had snatched me. Was he okay?

I was yanked out of the car and thrown back into the forest. In the next second the taste of blood—weirdly acidic and just foul tasting—filled my mouth. I felt my muscles strain as I dug my teeth in and pulled.

It wasn't until Piper was pulling away, dropping the half of a vampire he had in his jaws—the other half was in the dirt, still twitching—that I realized that our bond hadn't brought me to Piper, it had put me inside of him.

Piper's ear flicked back and caught the sound of stirred up leaves, making him leap out of the way. We saw a blur as a vampire lashed out where we had been. Piper didn't waste anytime, he just rushed the vampire, trying to bite. The vampire dodged with their insane speed. Piper backed up, searching for something.

There was a giant black wolf in the half-assed clearing that must have been made by whatever spell had been loosed earlier. Piper and Mrs. Jia put each other at their backs, trying to keep out of the way of the vampires' attacks—there had to be at least three of them running around, apparently keeping their speed up so the wolves couldn't tear them apart like Piper had just done.

One of the vampires rushed closer to Piper. He missed and his teeth snapped closed on empty air. The vampire, didn't, though. I felt a stinging line cut through Piper's back. The vampire was gone in the next second, but I saw a flicker of light as they retreated. I freaked out for a second, thinking they had some kind of magic on them, but then I realized they had knives that were reflecting what little light filtered down from the sky, flashing as they slashed through the air.

Now that I was looking for it, I could feel about a dozen cuts in Piper's skin, his fur pulling weird as the blood dried it in clumps. The stinging was intense for such shallow wounds, though. That's when I realized that there had to be some silver in the blades. Thankfully, though they hurt, none of the wounds seemed serious. I wondered if it was the speed of the vampires messing up their accuracy or if they just sucked at using knives.

Being shit at stabbing or not, they were still a group of bloodthirsty vampires. I didn't dare try to get Piper's attention, he needed all of his concentration to make sure the vamps didn't get the drop on him. All I could do was offer some silent support that Piper probably wasn't even aware of as a few tense moments of both sides dodging attacks then attacking in turn played out.

A blade cut worryingly close to Piper's eye, but he didn't flinch—I did, I also screamed as much as I could in my disembodied state—he just pushed forward and grabbed the vampire's shoulder, overpowering them and slamming them to the ground. Since Piper was still holding them, I could finally make them out. He was a skinny pale guy who looked like he was in his early twenties and seemed the most human—or I guess regular vampire-like. I wondered if he had been the vampire who had caught me earlier.

Also since Piper was still holding him, he didn't need to be good with a knife. The vampire just stabbed straight down at him. The knife plunged into Piper's side, burning and burning where the vampire had left it. Not even that was enough to make Piper hesitate, he forced his jaws together, ripping and tearing the vampire apart while he screamed. I wanted to look away—the vampire was trying to kill my Mate, I wanted him dead, I just didn't want to watch it happen—but I couldn't, trapped in Piper's head like I was.

Once the vampire was a bloody mess on the ground, Piper scanned in the area for the next threat. Before he could fine one, we heard the most wonderful sound in the world. Howling. And lots of it. The noise seem to shake the entire forest. It was coming from the direction of the Farm.

One of the vampires hesitated, probably thinking about making a retreat, but she was too late. Mrs. Jia got to her first, biting out her throat and a good chunk of her face.

Seconds later, other wolves were racing into the clearing and beyond. With the odds so obviously in our favor, even the super animalistic vampires tried to run for it, but they were quickly ripped to pieces.

Once Piper wasn't in danger anymore, I yelled "Piper!" That didn't seem to do anything. Fuck!

Before I could try anything else, he was running back towards where the tree had fallen on us, stopping only briefly to tug the knife still embedded in his side out with his teeth. Once we were by the cut down tree, he sniffed at the ground, circling a spot. He looked up and let out a growl, but he didn't move. Oh, yeah, he couldn't exactly track me through the treetops.

I tried to just focus on Piper. How the hell had I done this before? Piper! Piper! Can you hear me!? Is our dumb telepathy working!?

Piper startled and looked around the area frantically. Yes! It worked! I waited for him to say something back before I remembered it apparently only worked one way like a shitty walkie-talkie.

The substitute from Government is a witch! He has me in his car, under some kind of sleep spell. He's on the highway, going out of town. In an ugly ass green Corolla. Also, I'm inside of your head again. Sorry!

Piper didn't seem too concerned with the last fact and was speeding through the trees in the next second. In no time at all, he was at the highway, further west than the rest stop, which was the direction the car was heading. He stopped for a second and I started to get worried.

Are you okay!? Was it blood loss? What kind of damage had that last knife done?

He didn't acknowledge the question. I felt his hide start rippling and I watched as he shifted. Not to human, though.

Holy shit.

Piper—already massive—grew in size and stood on his hind legs, his body readjusting until his frame was more man than wolf, but only in the vaguest sense. The bony protrusions that broke through his skin and settled around him like armor weren't very human or wolf. I hadn't seen anything like it before. The pain from his stab wounds carried on to this new form, and didn't fade away like a regular cut would after a shift.

I didn't have time to process the wolf-man-thing before Piper was running again, loping down the highway. Though he didn't go west.

Other way!

Piper shook his head, then leaped, landing on something that hadn't been there a second ago—or at least hadn't been visible a second ago. The pinnacle of ugly cars flickered in and out of existence as Piper stood on its hood and broke through the windshield with one long, clawed arm.

In a disorienting flash I was sucked back into my body. I jerked awake and saw that the witch had let both his phone and the charm that had put me to sleep fall to the floor as he slammed on the brakes and rushed to pull something out of his jacket pocket.

The car started to fishtail, so the grab Piper had been trying to make for the witch missed. It bought the witch enough time to pull out a glass rod from his pocket as the car jerked to a stop. I didn't know what it could do, but I knew it wouldn't be anything good, and I wasn't going to let him hurt Piper.

I grabbed his wrist with all of my strength as he started to jab the rod at Piper. I wasn't that strong for a werewolf, but to a witch—who seemed to be as every bit as fragile are your regular run-of-the-mill human—it was devastating. I felt bones creak then break. Sharp, broken edges pierced through skin and into my palm. The witch screamed and dropped the rod.

I had only a moment to wonder where the fuck I went from here—I didn't know what the hell to do in a fight—before Piper took care of it. I let the witch go and Piper dragged him through the shattered windshield. The witch started to say something, but Piper grabbed his face in one giant hand and broke his neck, letting his body fall to the hood of the still-running car.

I unhooked the seat belt and had to lean over to the driver's side to unlock the door. Piper was right there as I got out the car. I wanted to fling myself into his arms until all of this was over, but I couldn't. One, because we weren't completely sure the danger had passed, and two, Piper was currently bony and sharp in places that would make hugging difficult.

The car was still flickering. I guessed whatever cloaking spell the witch had used on it was freaking out due to the damage the car had sustained.

Piper bent his giant form so he could sniff at me, focusing on my shoulder, letting out an unhappy whine. I gently pushed his still mostly wolf-shaped head away. "Yeah, I'm hurt, but so are you." He had less fur in this form so I could see the wound the last vampire had given him. None of this wounds were bleeding anymore. Normally, that would be a great sign, but not when there was silver involved. Fucking silver.

I tensed as I heard movement in the nearby trees, but Piper didn't. About five giant wolves came out of the shadows. Rowan wasn't in the mix. Neither was my mom.

Molly Harris shifted once she was near enough. "The forest is clear. We got those motherfuckers." She announced with vicious triumph, which dimmed a bit as she took in me and Piper. "You two alright there?"

"We're kinda banged up." I answered. "Is Doc here? He needs to get checked out." I gestured to Piper, who huffed at me in irritation. "Well, you do! You got stabbed with frickin' silver. I just need my arm popped back in."

"He's here, I just saw him at the Farm. I can take care of that arm for ya, though. Doc's bound to be busy."

I nodded and tried to give her my arm before I remembered I couldn't move it. She just grabbed a hold of my forearm and raised it up so it stuck out in front of me at a ninety degree angle.

"Hold him steady, Piper." She ordered and I started to get nervous. The nervousness ticked up a notch as Piper's beefy arm wrapped around my middle. Not fighting my wolf... myself for once, I turned my head so I could bury my nose in Piper's sparse fur. The scent of him surrounded me and I relaxed so much that the sharp pain from Molly yanking on my arm took me by surprise. I shuddered as I felt my shoulder slide back where it was supposed to be.

Molly let me go and I moved my arm around experimentally. The pain was gone now.

"Thanks." I said, but Molly just brushed it away with a dismissive gesture.

She turned to the other wolves that had come with her. "Rob, go get your tow and get this thing off of the road. Nate, get the body back to the witch. Rowan wanted him to check it out."

The witch? "Soren's here?"

"Don't remember his name, the little thing with all the attitude."

"That's him." Piper huffed above me and I realized that neither of us had moved. He was curled around me, holding me in a loose hug on account of his pointy bits. I nudged him arm. "Come on, let's go get you patched up. Just let me shift."

I stepped off of the road and found a nice patch of trees to get naked behind. Piper followed, but I didn't care at this point. I dumped my discarded clothes on top of my spread out hoodie, then bundled it up. All I needed was a stick to tie it to and I could be hopping trains in the 1930's. I shifted then picked the whole thing up by my teeth, trying to be gentle about it. Didn't need my undies soaked in wolf spit.

Once I was ready, we headed off—with Piper nudging me in the correct direction from time to time—and made it to the Farm in a few minutes.

The whole area was swarming with werewolves. I made a beeline for the cabin Doc usually worked out of. Piper tried to wander off to where Rowan was standing, surrounded by wolves with obvious tension flowing through them. I could also make out Ailbe and Jamie in the group. Okay, that was interesting, but silver.

I knocked into Piper and headed him off, nodding vigorously at Doc's. Piper rolled his eyes at me, but he went with. At the porch Piper shifted to human and I followed suit, waving Piper inside as I got dressed.

The cabin was as jam-packed as I've ever seen it. Piper hadn't been the only one who had gotten stabbed tonight. Doc came out of the far back room, looking harried, followed by my mom.


She was in human form—so that meant naked, but I had seen so many naked people in the last five minutes that I think I was becoming immune to it. There was a bandage wrapped around her leg. She shouldered through the waiting wolves, limping, though that didn't seem to slow her down any.

"What happened to you!?" I asked. There wasn't any blood staining the bandage. That had to be good, right? Once she got to me, she pulled me into a hug.

"That fucking witch took a chunk out of my leg, but I tore out his spine, so I say we're even."

"Is it healing?"

Her grip around me tightened. "Yeah, it's going to be fine. Doc did a skin heal over it, but it'll take a little bit before I'm fully healed."

"Ew." By "skin heal" she meant that Doc had stretched her healing skin over the wound, so the wound was closed, but her healing abilities still had to take care of everything missing underneath.

"Are you alright?" She demanded.

"I'm fine, now. Piper's hurt."

"Doc!" She called. "Rowan needs him, bump Piper up the list."

"It's not that bad." Piper argued. "He can hold off for now and take care of the rest of the pack."

I pulled away from my mom so I could properly glare at Piper. "You've been stabbed. With silver."

Doc arrived before Piper could argue some more. "This worries me." He said gesturing towards the stab wound in his side. "Come on back, I'll have to cut the burn out."

Piper sighed, still not at all concerned or bothered by his stab wound, but he followed Doc to the back room. I followed.

"You two find Rowan as soon as Doc's done." My mom called after us. I waved at her and Piper—apparently not realizing that I was following—shot me a questioning look.

"Don't you need someone to hold your hand?" I asked, entering the room and shutting the door behind me. "I'm returning the favor."

"I've had silver burns cut out before, it's not pretty." Piper said, hopping up on the exam table in the middle of the room.

"So? I'm not going to watch." I scooped up one of his hands and held on tight as Doc wasted no time in bringing over the tools he would need—most of them being sharp—and got to work. Piper's body was instantly filled with tension and he let out a breath hissed out between his clenched teeth a couple of times, but that was it. He barely even squeezed my hand. I was impressed.

Silver to skin contact would burn us, the severity of the burn depended on the how long the contact was held and the purity of the silver touched. Mild silver burns, which were similar to first degree burns on a human healed by themselves, easy peasy. Severe silver burns stopped our healing abilities dead and the affected area had to be cut out so it could heal itself. And that was just silver to skin contact.

Once silver touched our blood, the effect was amplified and a lot more dangerous. If it happened in a vital area, like say if someone were to shoot a werewolf with silver bullets and turn their lungs into Swiss cheese, there would be no healing from that.

Silver just sucked ass in general.

Doc, using his werewolf speed, got the more superficial burns removed from Piper's skin in no time. Then he ordered Piper to lay down on his side so he could get a better look at the more serious wound. I chanced a look at Piper as he moved. Blood stained his face from the cut that had come way too close to his eye, but the cut itself was healed up. I wiped away some of the blood with the sleeve of my hoodie. It was already spotted with wolf spit, it was going right into the wash anyway.

It was gross, but I couldn't help but watch as Doc examined the wound on his side. Were there any important organs there? How long had that knife been? Doc pulled out a long pair of tweezer-looking things and a long-handled scalpel and started cutting away the burned skin. Blood poured freely from the wound as he worked. Which looked terrible, but was a good sign. I held Piper's hand tight between two of mine, trying to make a sandwich of comfort. Piper just squeezed his eyes closed and breathed hard.

Blood cascaded over Piper's side in a final push. Doc wiped the area clean, revealing perfectly healed skin.

"Are you feeling any discomfort?" Doc asked.

Piper let out a held breath, then sat up, moving his upper body around. "Feels alright."

"I didn't find any signs of punctured organs, but I want you back here tomorrow so I can give you a more thorough exam."

"He'll be here." I answered for Piper and just gave him a smile in return for the irritated look he shot me. I patted the hand I was still holding and the irritation receded a bit. I then tugged on his hand. "We have to go to Rowan, come on."

Doc ushered us out of the room and went on to treat the next werewolf in line.

Piper and I backtracked to the last place we had seen Rowan. As we neared, the wolves parted to let us past and I could finally see what they were circling—guarding really.

There was a vampire in the middle of the circle. She was on her knees, her hand clamped tight onto the stump of her ruined shoulder—the rest of her arm missing. She had short, dark hair and didn't seem to have any weird extra features. Hell, she looked like she should be in a college library somewhere having a nervous breakdown over an upcoming final. Well, she had the nervous breakdown thing going on. She was sobbing and shaking, a few words managing to make it out between her stuttering hiccups.

"I... tried... I... didn't... want..."

"My third's here. You can start." Rowan said to Ailbe as soon as he caught sight of Piper. There was a streak of blood on Rowan's torso, but other than that, he looked perfectly fine. I kept a hold of Piper's hand as we moved to stand closer to our pack leader, my mom and Mrs. Jia were already there.

Ailbe nodded, looking exhausted and pissed the fuck off. He stepped closer to the vampire. She flinched and stopped talking, curling in on herself like she was trying to disappear in plain sight.

"Do you know what I am?" He asked her.

It took her a moment to answer, but she finally shook her head, not looking up at him. "I just know it feels weird."

"I'm a necromancer, which means I have magic that gives me power over dead things. That includes you. So, your choices now are to talk to me and tell me the truth. Or you can try to lie to me. And if you choose that option, I'll just erase your mind and get the answers anyway. Your call."

The vampire looked up at him and nodded frantically. "I'll tell you the truth, I swear!"

"Who turned you? Was it someone in your little group?"

"Yeah, David turned me. He said we'd be immortal and be together forever." There was more light here than there had been in the woods, but it was still pretty dim. That didn't stop me from seeing Ailbe roll his eyes at her answer.

"Who started all this bullshit? Who was the first one?"

"Dee, I'm pretty sure. I never met the guy who turned her, he didn't hang out with us."

"Did you ever get a name?"

She shook her head. "No. I'm sorry!"

"So, what? She get turned and she thought it would be a neat idea to turn all of her little friends?"

The vampire started to shrug, but stopped abruptly with a frown aimed at her mangled shoulder, almost like she had forgotten that she was missing a limb. "Basically? Who would want to be immortal on their own? It was okay at first. It was great, really. But then Neil died. One night he just didn't wake up. It wasn't like he had his head cut off or got burned by the sun or anything."

"And that's when you realized you didn't know what the fuck you were doing?" Ailbe asked.

"Yeah, but then Landon and Martin showed up. They said they were witches, but that they could show us how to stay alive and stuff. They showed us how to... feed off of people, how to make them forget. I was okay with that part. We weren't actually hurting people. It was easy to go to a bar or a club and get a sip here and a sip there. But then they started saying that we needed to kill people. I wasn't the only one not down with that. Then they said that shifter blood could sustain us longer and with our numbers it would be easy to get. I still didn't want to kill anybody, but once everyone else started drinking shifter blood no one else cared. It's like they went crazy."

"Yeah," Ailbe said dryly. "That's what shifter blood does. Were you the one that dumped the wolf kid's body back out here?"

The vampire looked away, but she answered. "I felt so bad for him, he looked so young. And I thought that maybe you could use him to find us or something? I don't know how any of this works! Last year the only thing I had to worry about was getting through another day at my shitty job at the mall and making rent. This is all so fucked up!"

"What did you do for them? The witches? Since you're new, I'll explain, they don't do shit out of the goodness of their hearts. So what did they want in exchange?" I wanted to argue that point—Soren wasn't like that—but there was no way I was speaking up into that oh, so tense atmosphere.

She looked back up at Ailbe and then swept her gaze over the assembled werewolves, quickly going back to the necromancer. "They wanted us to come here. They wanted us to attack your... your pack. And that one guy? He lived in town, he was a human? They wanted him gone."

"Any idea why?" Ailbe asked her. Piper and I shared a look. She was talking about Mr. Sanders. Landon—who I was assuming was the witch who had kidnapped me—needed him gone so he could fulfill his role as the new sub. Because they had been looking for a particular werewolf and thought they would find them in a high school. Whatever descriptions they had to work with probably included an age.

I squeezed Piper's hand and subtly shook my head. We were going to tell Rowan, of course, but I was thinking that in front of practically the whole pack wasn't a good idea.

"No. Dee talked to them in private a lot. She'd order us around, she didn't explain things. And if you made her mad..." The vampire trailed off with a shudder.

"And you've never killed anyone? Never drank the blood of someone who was dying?"

The vampire looked confused with the change in subject, but then the confusion turned into fear. "No, I haven't! I swear. I couldn't do that."

Ailbe nodded, more to himself than at her. He turned and went back to Rowan, Jamie followed close behind. "Was there anything else? I don't think she was important enough in their group to have any useful answers."

"No, you're right. We can finish this now."

Since I was standing close to them, I saw Jamie's hand reach out and pull at Ailbe's sleeve. Ailbe sighed, but he spoke. "About that, can we take her off of your hands?"

Rowan just looked at him like he had started speaking in French.

"Yeah, I know. But she's just a dumb kid who got caught up in something bigger than she is."

"A 'dumb kid?' She attacked my pack." Rowan growled at him.

Ailbe didn't back down, which was impressive, but probably not the best move when literally surrounded by agitated werewolves. Good thing Rowan wasn't an ego-driven kind of pack leader.

"If it makes it any easier, she's not escaping punishment. She's got..." Ailbe trailed off and turned so he could see the vampire again, studying her. He turned back to Rowan after a few moments. "I'd say about a couple more days before she's gone. Before she just doesn't wake up one night. Like—what was it, Neil? She won't be a threat to your pack anymore."

"And how do I know that? How do I know you won't just take her off and teach her how to kill? Rehabilitate her like some fucking sick bird."

Surprisingly, Jamie answered him. "Because forcing this life on someone is cruel."

Rowan growled again, shaking his head. "The life of one of my pack members was stolen. And for that, there will be no mercy."

Jamie seemed to deflate in on himself, but he didn't argue.

"Can I at least make it painless?" Ailbe offered. Rowan nodded, allowing it.

Ailbe went over to the vampire, and I couldn't help but feel bad for her. She didn't look like a monster, then, rocking back and forth slightly with her arm wrapped around her middle. I leaned against Piper and he shifted so he could hug me to his side. I closed my eyes, but I didn't have any way to drown out the noise. Piper's hand skimmed against the back of my head and I was grateful for it.

"I heard what he said." The vampire whispered.

"Yeah, sorry, kid." Ailbe did sound genuinely sorry. "But this isn't the life for you. You know that."

She sniffed, sounding like she was trying to do her damnedest to not let her tears out. "And there's no going back?"

"There's no coming back from dead."

"And it's not going to hurt?" She asked in a very small, shaky whisper.

"No. It'll be just like going to sleep."

"Okay." She said. It sounded like all the air whooshed out of her at that word.

"Drink." Ailbe said gently. The smell of blood wafted through the area.

I could feel the tension leak out of the nearby wolves a moment later. I opened my eyes to see Ailbe slapping a bandage back onto his forearm and the vampire slumped over in the grass, not moving. One more dead body.

There had been so much death tonight. And for what? Me? I clung to Piper, but looked out at the pack still hanging around the Farm. Some wounded. Others without a scratch on them, they weren't untouched, though. I saw anger in their body language, anger that their territory, their pack, their home, their family had been threatened. And then there were those who were filled with fear and worry at the brazen attack.

I didn't know if my weird new sight that let me see pack bonds was making me better at nonverbal of if it was just because I was so very familiar with these emotions. Anger often rode Piper and fear and worry was where I lived.

I hated it.

Unfortunately, the night wasn't even over yet.

"Soren's been looking over the bodies of the witches who attacked us. Hopefully, we'll get some answers out of them." Rowan said.

"I, uh, I might have some answers." I told him. The pack was moving off now that the threat was gone.

Rowan pinned with his gaze, ordering me to continue without saying a word.

"The witches tried to kidnap me. They said I was special."

Piper's grip around me tightened and I felt his chest vibrate as he growled. It didn't do anything to block out the sound of my mom's shout of "What!?"