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Chapter Four

Evangeline

The cool night air brushed against me and I stretched to enjoy the sensation. My body didn’t hurt, although I knew that it should. I’d been trained too hard as though my father was taking all his hatred for wolves out on me. Sadness filled my mind but I couldn’t understand why. This was who he was; it was just a part of my life.

But it hadn’t always been, the voice whispered with the wind and I was engulfed by the sadness again. Echoes of memories worried at the edges of my mind’s eye. I saw her, a gorgeous woman with laughter in her green eyes staring down at me, a soft smile are her full red lips as her fingers caressed my cheeks. Then a man was there, his features so different from those of my father. I could hear him say how beautiful I was, just like my mother. His voice was filled with pride and I felt no fear of him…I felt...love.

I reached for the memories. Trying to touch them, pull them into sharper focus. I knew she was my mother but the man was familiar but a stranger at the same time. I wanted to pull his face into focus and finally ask who he was but as I reached, they blew away in the breeze and I found myself running after them.

Tears stung my eyes as I screamed, “Who are you? Where are you?”

My feet thudded on the soft earth and I continued to chase those spectres of my dreams but they raced faster and faster with me. I could hear a roaring in my ears and I looked behind me to see a tide of blood rising in the distance.

And that blood would wash those memories away. I knew where it came from…all the rogues I’d killed in those eight years of training…all the wolves my father had killed. The blood was on my hands and a tide that was destroying those last memories of my mother.

I heard her cry out and I raced forward faster but horror sprang in her eyes and I heard her whisper, “I love you,” as she turned to the man beside her.

“Mom!” I cried and I reached for my Glock in an effort to save her. My hands met nothing but the cold ground and I glanced down to see giant paws sinking into the blood tinged mud.

“No…no…no!” I cried out as terror filled me and I ran blindly, my lungs burning from the effort of escaping the monster I had become.

Collapsing beside a river, I watched the tide of blood sweep over me but I didn’t drown. I knew this blood…I’d been coated in it before. Tears burned my eyes as I watched the memories get washed way in the red tide and I found myself weeping onto the pure white fur of my paws.

When the sobs stopped wracking my body, I focused on the wolf I had become. I moved toward the water edge, terrified of what I would find. Peering into the dark water, I saw a white wolf looking back at me. She was huge and shimmered with highlights of silver throughout the thick, white fur.

Violet eyes looked back at me and they were as old as the earth itself. Knowledge filled them and I felt my beating heart calm as she took me in as I took her in. I knew her, knew that she was a part of me. I drew in a breath, the cool clean water filling my senses and I lowered my head to lap at it. Once my thirst was satiated, I looked back at her reflection and asked, “How?”

She stared at me as her voice filled my head, “You know how?”

I shook my head, “No…I don’t.”

She looked as though she was going to answer and then her ears perked up. I felt something shake me as she sighed, “It’s time to wake up now Evangeline.”

****

“It’s time to wake up now Evangeline!” My eyes shoot open and I stare at my father, his hand on my shoulder as he shook me forcefully.

“What time is it?” I groaned as I automatically took stock of my body. It still ached in all the places he’d hit me. Slowly raising my hand, I felt a large lump on the side of my head. He hadn’t held back with that staff during our last fight.

“5am. We have work to do.”

12 hours. I’d been out for 12 hours. I’m certain his blows would have killed me if he hadn’t used the elixir on me. Even now, I was positive my body was one big bruise. I swallowed, the dream still sticking to me like the gossamer wings of a butterfly. I felt raw and open. A bruise both inside and out. What the hell was wr4ong with me?

I’d had that dream a thousand times but I’d never been a wolf. Was I losing my mind hunting the monsters? How could I even want to be like that, even in my dreams?

“More training?” I needed to focus on something more than the questions my dream had conjured. Anything but the fact that today was my 18th birthday and I was having wolf dreams.

“No, today we are tracking. The wolf that got away has a price on his head.”

“Why?” I sat up slowly and assessed each pain that echoed through my body. It was dull…the elixir seemed to be working faster than it had ever worked. Maybe Father had given me an extra dose so I was able to work today.

“He’s a monster.” His answer was flat, matter of fact. I waited as I knew he’d fill me in. “He kidnaps human girls and sells them. Those that don’t sell, he murders.”

“Is he rogue?” I didn’t hesitate. One thing I learned as a child was to never question Father but he expected questions when we were hunting. Questions kept my wits about me. Questions helped me track down the wolves. It was a matter of pride for me but I could track faster than Father ever could.

“Yes. The worst of the rogues.”

I cocked my head at him, “He didn’t smell like a rogue—”

My voice died as I saw the anger in his eyes. “Smell?”

I stopped. We didn’t discuss how I tracked so easily as it always seemed to make him angry. He didn’t want to know how, he just wanted me to produce results. But that wolf had smelled exciting. Like a warm summer rainstorm. Electrifying and powerful.

“Evangeline.” There was a question and a warning in my name and I winced. A week of punishment was enough. I was ready to escape to the woods and start tracking our prey. “Have you been taking your medication? You know how important these are.”

He stood up and moved toward the small table beside my bed. Picking up the pills, he opened the bottle and fished two out. “Yes, Father.”

“Yes Father, you have been taking them, or yes, you know how important they are?”

“Both.”

Father held out his hand and I took the pills he was offering, “Good, these pills keep you strong. Without them, you’ll become nothing more than a weak human. Your mother stopped taking hers and she died at the hands of those monsters. She wasn’t strong enough to fight them when they came.”

Picking up a glass of water on my nightstand, he passed it to me. His gaze watching me carefully as I brought the pills to my lips. Don’t! the voice pleaded and I closed my eyes as I placed the pills into my mouth. Taking the water, I downed it.

“Open.”

I opened my mouth and stuck out my tongue. Father nodded in approval and said, “I will be downstairs. Suit up and be ready. We leave in 20 minutes.”

He turned and walked out, closing the door behind him. As it clicked shut, I spit out the pills I’d pressed into the side of my mouth and stared at the little white pills. I’d taken these every day for as long as I could remember. Even before I remember training.

I walked to the bathroom and dropped the pills into the toilet as I wondered what the hell I was doing. The voice had begged me to not take them and it was time that I find out exactly what the damn voice was and what it wanted.

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