Chapter Seventeen

Braiden's heart stopped when he heard Candy's scream. He glanced at Michael and they both took off sprinting toward the sound. They left their mother at the door of the pack house. She wouldn't be as fast, and they wanted her safe.

Braiden shifted and Michael followed suit. They kept their noses on the ground, following Candy's scent. Something was seriously wrong for her to have screamed like that.

When they arrived at the scene, Braiden was the first to smell blood. He motioned for his brother to be careful and then they stepped into the clearing. Their eyes first landed on the dead panther shifter. The body had shifted back into his human form, but they could smell the panther in him. Braiden growled and then moved forward toward where Candy's scent was strongest. He could also smell Drew and Jaiden. Then the scent of blood flooded his nose again.

He poked through the bushes and then stopped in his tracks. The sight that greeted him was enough to make him lose everything in his stomach. His wolf hacked and heaved. He shifted back and stayed on his hands and knees. He could hear his brother gagging.

Jaiden's body was a mess. His shirt was completely ripped to shreds and showed that his stomach was basically ripped open. If you looked hard enough, you could count Jaiden's ribs. His eyes were gone, and his arm hung at an awkward angle. They had made Jaiden suffer.

Braiden looked over at Drew. He was holding an unconscious Candy in his lap and looking somberly at Braiden. "What should we do?" he asked. He looked at Candy and then at Jaiden before his eyes landed back on Braiden.

"Take her back to the pack house. Michael and I will bring Jaiden. Have some sheets or something ready to wrap the body up in. Let Riven know what's happened," Braiden commanded, forcing himself to remain in control. His wolf itched to track down everyone responsible for this tragedy. Killing Jaiden had been a huge mistake. It would make the pack go crazy. No panther would be safe.

Riven was waiting on the front porch when Drew came walking out of the forest. He ran toward his beta, his expression grim. "What happened?"

"Riven, I have terrible news," Drew said somberly. He adjusted Candy in his grip and looked Riven in the eye. "Jaiden is dead."

Riven's mouth hung open and his eyes widened in shock. Then his expression took on that of a pure rage. He growled. "Who did this?"

"I killed the man responsible for killing him, but there was another male's scent there. I think it was Anthony. They will pay for this. Candy saw the body and fainted. This may have been too much for her." Drew looked down at the girl in his arms.

"Take her inside. Are Braiden and Michael bringing back the body?" Riven asked. Drew nodded and then walked into the house. He set Candy on the couch and then sat down in the floor in front of her.

Riven sank to the ground and held his head in his hands. He felt tears prickle his eyes, but he wouldn't let them fall. He had to be strong for his pack. But poor little Jaiden… He hadn't deserved to die, and Anthony was going to pay. Riven was going to rip him apart.

Tilting his head back, Riven roared his challenge. The birds flew out of the trees closest to him and he heard his pack echoing his call. Now they knew they would fight.

It took a while, but by the time the sun had set, Michael and Braiden arrived carrying Jaiden's broken body. Riven gagged and struggled to keep his food down. He couldn't believe the state that Jaiden's body was in.

"They will all suffer painful deaths for this. No one deserved this, especially not Jaiden," Riven promised. Braiden nodded his head. Drew came out of the house carrying two black sheets. They all set to work wrapping the body up.

"What are we going to do? Do we bury him?" Michael asked, looking to Riven for guidance. This was a major blow on the pack, and everyone would be feeling it. Logan and Trent had joined the group and all the men stared somberly at the wrapped body.

"Trent, you and Logan grab some shovels. Michael, you and Braiden carry the body. We'll bury him in the meadow. I'll go talk to Candy, and get everyone together. Drew, come with me." Riven turned to walk slowly toward the house. He felt like someone was watching him, and stopped. He turned and scanned the forest. His eyes stopped for a moment on a particular dark patch of trees, but he couldn't make out anyone. He shrugged and walked into the house.

Anthony tensed as the alpha's eyes landed on him. He had overheard every word. They were going to bury the boy. A smile crept onto his face and he turned to face his men after Riven walked into the house.

All together they numbered thirty. The small pack below was outnumbered. Even with the death of the boy riding on their consciences, they were no match for the hell that was about to rain down on them.

"Trent will meet with me tonight. We will find out what he has to say, and then we will plan our attack. I want all of you to stay on the other side of the pack's territory. If they patrol, I don't want any of you attacking them. I want to kill them all at once. Do I make myself clear? I don't want you attacking my son on accident." Anthony's gaze raked over each individual and he watched them all nod.

"Set up camp. I'll be along shortly."

After his men left, Anthony sank onto a stump and stared at the house. No one was out front, and most of the men went to bury the boy. He hadn't known that Riven housed a young female. Even if she was wolf, his men would enjoy her. He laughed softly. He would enjoy her first. When he was done, he'd give her to his men.

It was even better that the girl was the boy's sister. She would hate him and would fight back. He'd love to break her spirit. "Maybe my son running away wasn't for nothing. He's going to make me a powerful man when I take over this pack."

Climbing to his feet, Anthony's eyes sparkled with the thought of all the deaths and blood that would be spilt. He was a sick bastard, and knew it. Everyone feared him for a good reason. He had no compassion, and took what he wanted. "No one will stand in my way."

Lucy's breath was knocked out of her lungs and she rolled a good ten feet before slamming into a tree. She lay there a moment, hearing someone slam on the brakes. She knew she had to get up, and pushed herself to climb to her feet. She turned toward her father who was getting out of the car. She watched in horror as a car slammed into the back of their car and then Aren disappeared.

Lucy knew she should check on her father, but it took more than that to kill an alpha. She had to get back to the pack. The only problem was she didn't even know which direction to go. She'd just start heading the opposite way that Aren had been taking her. Hopefully she'd see something that might point her in the right direction.

She could hear sirens in the distance as disappeared into the woods. She made sure to stick to the shadows, and pushed her body as fast as it would go. She needed to put some space between her and Aren. He couldn't catch up to her, or he'd knock her out again and take her further away from Raice.

Lucy stopped suddenly. What was she doing? Why was she so desperate to get back to Raice? He mated her without her permission, and took the choice away from her. Yes she felt very strongly for Raice, but she was beyond pissed that he took the right for her to choose away from her. What if she wanted Braiden? She knew she didn't. The guy was a sweetheart, but he didn't make her heart speed up, or butterflies settle in her stomach every time she saw him. Michael, he was never really an option. Lucy knew he wasn't really interested in her. Trent… now he was a different story. Lucy didn't know how to handle Trent. One second he was a sweetheart, the next he was full of rage and striking out at everyone. He was definitely selfish. He wasn't the right one for Lucy.

Lucy shook her thoughts away and began walking again. She couldn't get distracted. Several minutes later, Lucy knew she was in trouble. Her nipples had hardened and her sex began to throb. Her heat was hitting her again. This time it was swift and all at once it seemed to slam into her. She fell to her knees, her legs too shaky to hold her up. Her hands dug into the ground and her back arched off the ground as she moaned. She slid her hands to her stomach and then up to her breasts. She groped her breasts, but it wasn't the same. She needed Raice, needed him inside her to help her through this. It was starting to become painful. She was shocked at how fast it was running through her. She whimpered.

"I have to keep going. Have to get to Raice," she mumbled to herself. She sat up and groaned at the sudden movement. Her head felt like it weighed a ton and she resisted the urge to lie back down. She got to her knees and then slowly got to her feet.

Her sweat pants were covered in mud and her shirt felt like needles poking her skin. She ripped her shirt off and then her pants. She was left in her underwear and bra. Those thin materials were almost too much, but she didn't want to get caught completely naked; especially if it were her father. She'd die of embarrassment.

She trudged forward, her body making her gasp as a strong wind blew, hardening her nipples even more and acting as a caress against her heated skin. Her attention was diverted and she didn't see the log until it was too late. With a startled cry, she went sprawling onto her belly on the hard ground. She moaned and then got back to her feet.

"What is that delicious smell?" a voice startled Lucy, causing her to gasp and clutch her clothes closer to her chest. She turned in circles, trying to find the source of the voice.

"Look at this, Jim. Little red riding hood is about to be eaten up by the big bad wolf," a different voice said from her left. She jerked toward the sound and gasped. A huge naked male was staring at her with lust evident on his face. He was around six foot tall, and had muscles that were as big as her calves. She took a tentative step backwards, but her bare back hit flesh and she came to a stop with a moan. Hands gripped her arms and pulled her flush against a hard chest.

Not being able to stop herself, Lucy rubbed her ass against the erection she felt pressing against her. The man growled and lowered his head to her neck. He took in a deep breath and then threw her away from him.

"Damn it, Smith! She's taken. She has a mate. I can't believe I didn't smell it before." Lucy turned her head and glared at the man that had thrown her on the ground. Her core throbbed and her body ached for contact. She whimpered as a strong wave came over her body. She arched her back and licked her lips as her gaze dropped to the man's cock. He moaned. "If she doesn't stop looking at me like that, I'm tempted to just fuck her and take her as my own."

"We better get her back to the pack. If she has a mate, he can't be far behind. If he's anything like me, he'll kill anyone that so much as looks at her. We're gonna need a lot of men to keep him calm enough to explain the situation to him." Smith took a step forward and squatted down next to Lucy.

"We aren't going to hurt you. Can you tell me your name and why you're on our territory?" He asked her kindly. Lucy licked her lips again and focused on Smith. She took a deep breath and then started talking.

"I've been kidnapped. My mate is probably sick with worry and on his way here. This is my first heat, and I didn't realize it was going to hit me so fast. I ache…" She trailed off as she eyed the man in front of her. Her body was killing her. Her wolf was pushing her to mate, but she didn't want the man in front of her. She wanted Raice. "I need my mate."

"Here, let me help you up," Smith said calmly. He stood and then lowered his hand to her. She took it and stood up. She resisted the urge to rub her body up against his. The brief contact of her hand in his was enough to make her core throb in need.

"Jim, run ahead and tell the pack what to expect. Get Renee and Sarah ready. They need to help this poor girl. We need to track down her mate and I have the perfect way to do it. First we need to get her to the pack house." Smith rested his hand on Lucy's lower back and pushed her forward. "Follow me."

He took off walking, his pace slow and measured. He kept looking over his shoulder time to time to make sure Lucy was still following him. Jim had disappeared and she could hear the pounding of four legs as he must have ran toward the pack.

Lucy was a bit tentative. What if these men were only pretending to be nice. One of them had even threatened to take her as a mate and kill Raice. She growled low under her breath and Smith looked at her with raised eyebrows. She looked at the ground, her instincts telling her this man was an alpha.

"We're almost there," he spoke after about thirty minutes of walking. Lucy's legs were so weak she didn't think she could take another step. She whimpered and then collapsed. Her body shook and her eyes slammed shut. She felt arms go under her body and then she blacked out.

Candy's eyes blinked open and she studied the person leaning over her saying her name. Where was she? Why did her throat hurt? "What's going on?" she asked.

She sat up, and Riven moved back to avoid her slamming her head into his. He looked at her sadly. It took a moment, but the memories slammed into her. She cried out and the tears started falling. She hugged her arms around herself and gave another cry.

"Jaiden, why? This is all my fault," she sobbed out. She looked up at Riven. "I killed him. He's dead because of me."

"What are you talking about Candy?" Riven asked, the shock clear in his voice. Candy closed her eyes and shook her head. "This isn't your fault."

"It is! If I hadn't distracted Drew, Jaiden would have never been able to leave. I killed my brother for my own selfish reasons. I'm a murderer." Candy turned and buried her face into the couch. She laid there and sobbed. She felt a hand on her back and then she was pulled into a lap. She took a deep breath and started crying harder as she realized it was Drew. She wanted to push him away, but something inside wouldn't let her. She buried her face into his shirt and wrapped her arms around his neck.

Candy wasn't sure how long they stayed like that, but she eventually stopped crying enough that she could listen to everyone talking in the room. She could hear Barbara taking to Riven, and Drew's steady breaths. She jerked out of Drew's arms and climbed to her feet.

"Where's my brother?" she asked. She hardened her heart. She wasn't about to cry again. She'd shed enough tears. Now someone was going to die. She growled when no one answered her. "Where is his body?"

"The boys went to bury him dear," Barbara was the one who spoke up. She looked at Candy with pity in her eyes. Candy dropped her gaze, not wanting anyone to pity her. This was her fault. She deserved their anger, not pity.

"Take se to him, please," She asked angrily. Riven looked at Drew and then stepped forward.

"Follow me," he said. Candy nodded and trailed after him. She heard Drew following her and turned toward him.

"Stay away from me," she growled, shoving him in the chest. It must have been shock that had allowed her to even push him, but he stumbled back with a hurt expression on his face. "This is partly your fault too, you bastard."

Candy knew she had no right to say that to Drew. He hadn't been the one trying to kiss her, and rub his body against hers. Candy had acted like a whore, and because of that, she had lost her brother. Never again. Drew was dead to her. She ignored the pain as her heart felt like it broke in two.

Turning she followed after a stunned Riven. It took them only a few minutes to arrive in the meadow that made up the side yard of Barbara's house. Her first mate, her boys' father, was buried there also.

By the time they arrived, the hole had been dug, and they were preparing to lower Jaiden's body in the ground. She told them to wait and walked off to find some flowers. When she had a handful, she walked back toward the grave, her face solemn. She held the tears back and stared at the sheets that were wrapped around her brother's body.

Setting the flowers on top of the sheet, she nodded at the men to let them know she was ready. They gently lowered his body into the ground and then stepped back to give Candy some privacy.

"This is all my fault, Jaiden. Why did I have to be so selfish? You warned me to stay away from Drew, but my hormones and obsession with him caused you to be killed. I swear to you, that I will stay away from Drew. He is dead to me." Candy made sure her voice was low enough that no one could hear her. "I love you, my brother, and will not allow another into my heart. I will be the cold hearted bitch your killer made me out to be. When I am old enough to shift, I'll track down every bastard out there and make them all pay."

Standing back on her feet, Candy looked around at the men that made up her pack. She nodded at them, showing them she was thankful for their help. Then she turned and made her way toward the pack house. She had some packing to do.

Trent was nervous, and knew Anthony could tell. Night had fallen and the pack had gone to bed. They all needed the rest after the difficult day they had. Trent dug his nails into his hand to keep from punching the grin off of Anthony's face.

"Why'd you kill him?" Trent growled.

"It had to be done. Now what news do you have for me?" Anthony blew Jaiden's death off. It made Trent's blood boil.

"I've actually got some bad news." Trent crossed his arms and studied Anthony. The man gave nothing away.

"Continue," Anthony said calmly.

"Aren took Lucy."

"And this has something to do with me how?" Anthony asked, his impatience starting to become clear. Trent gulped. This next part would be the make or break it point.

"Raice went after them. He's not here." Trent prepared himself for a blow, but none ever came. He looked at Anthony and noticed the man grinning.

"He'll be back. If there's one thing I know, it's that my boy will find her easily and bring her back. This pushes my plans back a bit, but gives me plenty of time for my men to come accustomed to the land. Go back and make sure no one ventures this way. If they do, I'll kill them." Anthony turned and disappeared, leaving Trent staring after him.

"Fuck." Trent shook his head and waited a few minutes before moving. He turned, only to come face to face with his brother.

A/N

Well I hope that you guys don't hate me too badly! I'm sorry, but Jaiden had to go... He wasn't a main character, but he was a well known one. Would you rather it be one of the other main characters? haha, I don't! I have plans for everyone! So what do you think of Candy and Drew? Is is just a crush? He is old, and does have a son... but she really seems to like him! lol What about Braiden's choice to leave the pack? Think it will really happen? Who are these people that have Lucy? Friend or Foe...? And what happened to Aren... Can he defeat death twice? Stay tuned :)

Midnight