Chapter One – Oh the New Beginnings
Somehow, everything seemed better. There was no psycho hunter out to kill me—at least one that was a threat I knew about—and my father was gone. He couldn't manipulate my life anymore, he couldn't kill anyone, and he couldn't put my sister Ange at risk.
Ange was currently on the hotel's bed, packing. Before the final fight with my father I'd stopped by, and I was nearly sure she'd already had everything done, but I guessed I was wrong. She said something about a change of plans and how she'd dropped everything.
So we were here now, packing. Or, she was packing while I sat and watched her. It felt good to be able to do something so mundane and not worry about my whole life falling apart. Ange folded a shirt and tucked it away.
She and James, a former of pack member of my father's who was forced to bond with Ange, were leaving. But like Ange had said, plans changed. They were still leaving, but not now. James apparently had some business to attend to—business I had a bad feeling involved me in some way—and they were going to move into our old house while they stayed. After being stuck in the hotel for so long, Ange wanted to get away and I didn't blame her.
The others had left a few days ago. I'd freed them without a second thought, and most of them had stuck around to see how things played out. Most of them were still tied to my dead father's orders. After they'd seen the vial of something not kill me, however, they'd left pretty quickly.
Tracing the lines in my arm, I thought about it. James had said whatever was in that injection was supposed to rush the breakdown, something that forced my werewolf genetics to turn against me. The needle had pierced me, but my power had forced the poison out. Which was good, and apparently bad.
And that was what James wanted to talk to me about. I could sense it, but thankfully, it wasn't the same as before. For a while I'd been able to practically read people's minds, and it had been disturbing. After I'd gotten my revenge on my father and the pack had left my power hadn't acted as volatile, and things seemed to have calmed down.
That didn't mean they would stay that way.
I shook my head. I needed to stop thinking like that. I'd survived Eric, I'd survived my father, and I would survive Chase's death. I would keep surviving, and everything would be fine. Correction, everything was fine. It was stupid to dwell on things like that.
"So," I said, looking towards Ange. Her dark hair was tied into a bun, and her dark eyes didn't glance up but I knew she was listening. She looked much better now. Before, my father had tried to turn her into a werewolf, but it hadn't gone well. She'd been stuck in the middle, and it had been killing her. James had been feeding her doses of power, though, and it seemed to be working. She looked almost normal again.
"Yeah?" she pressed when I didn't continue on my own.
"Are you going to be okay staying in that house?" I asked. When we'd all lived there, Mom had been with us. Close to a year ago she'd been scared of Ange's fate, afraid that it was attached to mine, and kidnapped her. My mother had ended up dead.
"Are you going to be okay with it?" she asked, raising her eyebrows. "I know you're not just thinking about mom." She gave me a look.
I could've played innocent, but we both knew. James was… well, for starters, older. And I didn't trust him. He also didn't wear shirts a lot.
All things aside, it looked like I was stuck with him. He was bonded with Ange, and that meant I couldn't kill him without hurting her. He was also the one helping her stay healthy without changing into a werewolf with my help, so I was thankful for that. I didn't like the idea of the two of them together, however.
Explaining my feelings about that was always difficult. "Doesn't he… bother you?" I tried.
"He saved me," she reminded me, putting in another shirt. "And we're bonded. I have to like him."
That wasn't true. I'd been bonded to Chase before this, and for a long time I'd resented his very existence. I hadn't wanted to be a werewolf, and he'd been the one to turn me. He'd come down under my father's orders to watch for me—and possibly Ange—and we'd gotten close. Maybe closer than we should have. It was hard to say.
I learned later that my father—who was bent on giving werewolves the upper hand in life—had chosen Chase to be the one I married. Or whatever you wanted to call it. I don't know that he cared about the ceremony so much as the fact that Chase was powerful, and I had potential.
Chase had a mass amount of power, and I'd been able to tap into it through the bond. There were few side effects, and that made me dangerous, I supposed. But my father didn't mind that I would one day have enough power to kill him: he only cared about the next generation. He cared about the powerful children Chase and I would be able to have.
Or maybe he hadn't, I thought, clenching my hands in the sheets of the bed. When I'd refused to play along with his games and change Ange, things had gotten rough. Stupidly, I'd told my father I couldn't do it because of my bond with Chase. Dad had said he could fix it. He'd—
"Hey," Ange drew me back to the present. She wasn't looking at me, but I could tell by the way her eyes were fixed on the suitcase she was reading me. "I know you just zoned off, and I know it wasn't somewhere pleasant. Stay away from those thoughts."
Easy for my little sister to say. Not that she looked little anymore. Before she'd been barely a teen, and I'd had the urge to protect her with everything inside of me. I would've never let her leave if given the choice.
But with everything that had happened, I was starting to see her as an independent person now. She didn't seem as weak, and being honest, there was a possibility we'd grown somewhat apart. Or maybe she just didn't need to be as close to me. Either way, we now had the same level of knowledge on werewolves, unlike before.
"You could stay with me," I said quietly. It hadn't been part of the original plan, but all of those had gone to hell and back.
She stopped folding and paused for a moment. If she said she wanted to she would be lying, and we both knew it. "Alex," she said slowly, and I wanted to chuckle at how grown up and logical she sounded. "I don't want to go back," she told me honestly, resuming her packing. "He takes good care of me."
"Loves you, feeds you, calls you George?" I grimaced.
"Calls me Ange," she corrected. "But yes. During this whole mess, we… we bonded. In the literal sense and in the way that we have some things in common and he's not such a bad guy. And I mean, he's the one keeping me from dying, so that adds something." Her smile was wry.
There was nothing to argue about it, but I found I wanted to. "There are other options," I said dully, tracing patterns in the comforter.
She closed the suitcase and zipped it up before speaking again. "We're in love, Alex," she said simply.
I remained expressionless, but my thoughts raced. She wasn't even sixteen: how could she know what love was? How could she understand the power of the bond at such a young age and decide how she felt about it when she hadn't even lived yet?
Besides that, how the hell could she love someone like James? He just… he wasn't her type.
A knock on the door had both of our heads turning. The person entered, whistling happily. It was none other than James, and I knew he wasn't alone, but I didn't care about that part.
"Speak of the devil," I grumbled under my breath. I was under no delusion that I was going to take my sister loving James easily, but I didn't exactly expect to feel so… empowered. I wasn't angry at him, exactly—we needed him—but I wanted to do something.
My fist caught the side of his face.
Saying I had anger problems wouldn't have been accurate or fair. People just seemed to do annoying, stupid things that made me angry a lot. Really, if you thought about it, it was their fault. Considering I also had to stay on my toes for hunters, it wasn't bad that I was quicker to punch than say something.
Punching the guy your sister was in love with might not have been bright, but it felt good. I smiled, watching the shock register on his face while he stumbled back. He shook his pale hair out of his eyes and gaze me a once over.
"You dick, that's for—"
He'd have to figure out what it was for, though, because Ange had jumped onto my back. I twisted around, trying to grab her unsuccessfully. She was screeching in my ear. "What did you do that for?"
"Get off of me—"
"Don't touch him—"
I leaned back, dumping her onto the bed before I came back swinging. This time James was ready for it, and he caught my fists before they could hit him again. "What did I do this time?" he asked, resigned. If he'd been anyone else I might've felt bad for him.
But this guy had flirted with me before he knew my sister. He walked around without a shirt, and he talked with some stupid drawl and pretended to be a gentleman. He joked about everything and just was not right for her.
Unfortunately, I couldn't even say what the problem here was. I didn't want to say the word love, and I didn't want to use either of their names with it. It was like by saying it I would make it all come true, and that would just be wrong.
Fed up, I shoved him back. "I just don't trust you," I said grudgingly, though we both knew that wasn't what I really wanted to say. However, he wasn't going to call me out on it, and I wasn't going to continue.
Nick stepped into the room, closing the door behind him.
"That was uncalled for, Alex," Ange complained. She pointed to Nick, who looked wary. "Do I attack your boyfriend? No. So why are you attacking mine?"
Glancing to Nick, I supposed that's what he was. We hadn't done any official dating stuff, and he hadn't asked me out, but there was something. He'd always been there for me, which is something I'd always found irritating before. However, after killing my father and having my bond with Chase shattered, I'd been thankful he was there.
No matter any feelings I had for him, he hadn't been included in my plans. I'd decided on leaving to be a lone wolf, killing hunters until the breakdown eventually took me. But first Nick had bonded with me, and that changed things. Still, I had the choice to leave, but he'd offered to show me a different way to live. And I'd decided to try.
We were also living together now, which I supposed could have made things awkward. But while we had a stronger bond now, he wasn't making moves. He wasn't trying to seduce me or anything like that. He simply cared, and he knew that it would take me a while to understand my own feelings.
Because I'd loved Chase. I'd admitted it before he died, but in the end it hadn't changed anything but made it harder to see him die. I knew we hadn't been in a serious relationship, so it wasn't like I was cheating on him with a bond with Nick—especially since Chase had known about it and told Nick to strengthen it—but I was still mourning.
I liked Nick. I wasn't sure I wanted to, but I did. Beyond that, unfortunately, I still had feelings for Chase. I wanted to sink into a pit of despair and just kill hunters to forget about everything, but Nick wasn't going to let that happen. And that was going to make things very complicated.
Still, I'd agreed to try. So I was going to try and deal with this life. "Nick is trustworthy," I said. "Somewhat. And he's closer to my age." I turned to James, who had the intelligence to move out of my reach. I jabbed a finger at him anyway. "She's not even a minor," I accused. "That's technically illegal."
"We run by werewolf rules, Alex," he said, giving me an amused look. "And you didn't seem to mind when you were with Chase."
My gaze turned dark and stormy. First because having him mention Chase put me in a bad mood. I could say his name, and I could think about him even though it hurt, but James was different. James had known about the suicide plan, and he hadn't done anything to stop it.
And besides that, it was still a low blow to bring him into this. "The age gap wasn't the same and you know that." My hands tightened into fists.
He didn't heed the warning. "By two years, maybe," he said, folding his arms over his chest. "Don't act like you're perfectly innocent." I took a deep, calming breath. I didn't need to punch him. He was just saying things, and the conversation was going back to a safer area.
"Chase was a better person than you," I said coolly. I had to say something. The situation required it. "Even with the age gap, he would have never taken advantage of me."
James looked aghast, but it was all an act. Beyond that, though, I could catch a hint of something that felt like real anger. He'd meant for this to be a fun banter, probably, but he didn't like it where it was leading anymore than I did. "You think I would take advantage of your sister?"
Now Ange stepped in as well, and she wasn't much happier. "Do you think I'm a slut or something?" she snapped.
I'd fought five against one before. I'd fought two against one as well, but for some reason, this time it was even more overwhelming. I took a step back, away from them, and shook my head. "You're young," I said to Ange, though I didn't look at her. "And he seems like your best option." James gave me a narrowed look. "It would be so easy for you to fall for everything he says, even if it wasn't in your best interest."
Ange looked entirely too worked up for something like this. My power seemed to react to the tension, lashing out experimentally through the air. It didn't disturb anything, but it was ready. A low growl built in Ange's throat.
Nick looked to me in surprise, and I looked to James. He hadn't seemed concerned, but in the next second his eyes widened. He looked like he'd lost control of something. I felt the pressure in the room shift and Ange was a werewolf.
That was absolutely wrong. When I'd killed my father and figured out James could save my sister through the bond, I'd thought she was staying human. That's what she'd wanted. But it was obvious by her snarling wolf form that something else had happened.
It didn't seem to bother her like last time though. Last time she'd been in pain, and she'd curled onto her side and been in pain. This shift had been much more fluid, and she looked enraged. I remembered what she'd said about her wolf feeling better when it was around another. With brief hesitation I shifted as well.
The power didn't leave me. It merely shifted to accommodate my new form before it continued swirling around the room. James saw the shift as a threat, and he glared at me, his body tensing. I knew he was going to move for me.
Did he think I was going to attack my sister? I was only trying to comfort her through whatever this was. I leapt back onto their bed and watching him silently, only giving Ange half of my attention. She snarled, obviously not content with that. But she'd just have to deal.
Or not. She moved forward, her mouth spreading wide as though to bite me. I jerked my head back but otherwise stayed where I was. Her teeth missed my feet by mere inches and I snarled at her in warning. Again, James glared at me.
Someone had to tell her to snap out of it, and obviously the two guys weren't going to. I tilted my head to James, about to test if I could contact him with my power, but Ange was moving again. This time when she went for my feet I snapped at her face, but she didn't back down. Her teeth dug into the sheets and pulled.
Apparently she thought she was being clever, trying to trip me. I dug my heels in and flipped around, grabbing the other end of the cloth. James just looked fed up at this point.
"Alex, down," he commanded, like I was a dog. Why didn't he tell Ange to knock it off? She was the one who'd shifted when that should've been impossible.
I took a brief pause to snarl angrily at James, and apparently that was enough. Ange gave a large tug, and I went falling off the back of the bed. For one brief moment everything was uncertain and actually… terrifying. The sheets twisted around my limbs and made it difficult to move. It was dark and suffocating, and for some reason, it reminded me of Eric.
Panic threatened to overwhelm, but I pushed it into the back of my mind and told myself I could still shift and Eric was dead. There was nothing to fear here. My power didn't agree, though, because even as I fought to untangle myself it lashed out, shredding the fabric in half.
Standing up and flipping the hair out of my face, I quickly turned to James. "What the hell was that?"
I'd made the mistake of assuming Ange was done with her freaky little tantrum. She came out of nowhere, leaping for me, and for one moment, I wondered if my power would deem her as a threat. It didn't seem to care who it hurt, and it seemed to be shifting in position.
James grabbed her, and in the next second, everything was fine. She was human again, in his arms, though she still didn't look too happy. However, she didn't lunge at me again, so I took that as a good sign.
"I was just about to ask you the same thing," he retorted. "What did you think you were doing, shifting like that?"
"She shifted too!" I protested. "And speaking of that, I thought she was human now." The look I gave James wasn't very nice at all. "What's going on? Did you lie to me? Is she still dying?"
James shook his head. "She's still human. When she just shifted, that wasn't… her."
Now I felt like laughing at him. So when Ange had gotten angry, some other wolf had randomly appeared in her spot, right? I looked to Nick, wondering if he was following. He looked stoic, but also thoughtful. Maybe he could explain it better later.
"She drew on my power through the bond and forced a shift." He gave her a strange look. "And she did it willingly."
Her chin jutted out stubbornly. "I was tired of you saying all this crap," Ange said, glaring at me. "I knew I could shift if I wanted, and I knew you'd take me seriously after that."
I snorted. "Now I just think you're crazy."
Her nostrils flared. "Will you stop—?"
"We've spent a lot of time here," Nick said from the corner, managing to sound dispassionate and unattached from everything that had just happened. "Maybe we should help Ange and James move into the house before we continue talking."
Unfortunately, I had to agree with him. At least there it was safer. Here, any number of things could happen. There could have been a hunter outside the room, and we'd been making plenty of noise to attract attention.
We should've probably left a long time ago.
No one else seemed willing to say that aloud though. James and Ange were tense, like they thought we might be planning something. I didn't think Nick was up to anything: if he was, he hadn't shared it with me.
"I'll carry your duffel or whatever," I finally grumbled as I headed back to the bare bed. Some of the contents from bags had been spilled onto the floor because of our little scuffle.
Very slowly, Ange relaxed. Once again I was struck by the thought of how entirely different she was now. In some ways it was good, and in others, bad. She was tougher, that much was apparent, but at the same time, she had an air about herself.
She acted stately, like she was a princess and expected everyone to obey her or something. I wondered if I acted like that sometimes. But when I did it, it was probably just classified as bitchy.
Nick hadn't let us stay at their house for very long. He probably hadn't wanted to trigger anything else, and I had to admire how easily he made things work. I always planned things—and ways to avoid them—but it never seemed to work out as well.
Either way the unpacking had been short and silent. I'd basically set the bags I was carrying down and Nick had pulled us away and down the street without saying goodbye. At first I'd thought something was wrong, and I'd been alert, but then I realized he was just getting us out of there.
"What do you think they're doing in there?" I asked glumly as I watched the dark house from the window.
Nick glanced to the window, to me, and then back to the wall he'd been staring at. "Nothing."
"Innocent nothing or guilty nothing?"
His gaze went back to me. "Nothing nothing. That house is boring."
Tapping my nails against the frame I tried to content myself with that answer. But I couldn't. "But if it's boring then that means—"
"What do you have against love?"
The curtain fell out of my hand and swung closed. "What?"
His gaze was steady. "James isn't that bad of a guy, and I don't think he'd hurt her. They obviously both love each other, and that means they only have the best interests at heart. Is that so wrong?"
"You can't know that's exactly how they feel," I said, frowning. I had a mass amount of power and I couldn't even register that for sure. I hadn't tried, anyway.
"I don't need to test it to know it's true," he said, shaking his head. "You can tell by the way they act."
My lips thinned. "Like irresponsible love drunk teenagers?"
He didn't say anything more, but I knew how he felt. He thought I was overreacting, and I thought about it. Maybe I was, and maybe I wasn't. Maybe I had a reason to be worried about her. After all, she was my sister.
We were both living different lives now, and we both wanted different things. I pressed my forehead against the wall and decided I didn't have to make things difficult right now. Everything had finally been overcome, and I was ready to just have a break.
Glancing back at Nick, I smiled. "You know, things actually feel like they're getting better." He smiled back at me after only a moment of hesitation, and for some reason, that seemed to really make this whole situation better.
Anddd we're back!
Yea, everything's better!
So the story still isn't moving along too fast (and now I have school and scholarships and whatnot to worry about) so for right now we're going to do one chapter a week. Better than nothing, right..? For right now I'll be updating on Monday but if anyone prefers a different day tell me. :)
Bah. I can't believe this is the final book.