When Worlds Collide Ch. 13byJazCullen©
The house filled up with wounded Weres and others who had stayed around to assist. Luke and his two assistants were doing the best they could with what medical resources they had brought from the medical building. He was annoyed that he wasn't able to bring the injured back there but understood his Alpha's decision. It made more sense to have everyone in the one building just in case any attackers got through.
He moved swiftly to Loretta's side, pulling back the throw placed over her as she lay sleeping. He frowned slightly as he watched the bruising to her body start to fade before his eyes. Weres healed faster than humans but the speed of her recovery wasn't normal. He lowered the throw and moved away. At least she was healing, however unusually it was happening. He would ask her if anything out of the ordinary took place outside when she woke up.
Lacey was proving to be a great asset. She spent a moment with each Were, talking quietly with them, holding their hands and smiling soothingly. Luke noticed a renewed strength in each Were she left, as if they were determined to heal faster because of her words. Rafe was a very lucky man in finding his mate in the beautiful blonde woman.
His eyes fell on Ashleigh and he frowned slowly. The young girl was sitting in a corner in the hallway, her legs drawn up to her chest with her arms wrapped tightly around them in a purely defensive position. She wasn't injured physically but one look at her blank expression was enough to show that she was badly wounded mentally. Lacey had tried talking to her but received no response.
How did one so young deal with coming across the bodies of her parents and her siblings? Her entire family had been cut down in a hail of bullets when the humans attacked. The extent of their injuries had been too severe to allow them to heal. She was barely ninteen years old and now an orphan. The pack would look after her but it would be a long time before she recovered from this. He was worried she might even go rogue, her grief cut so deep.
Nors tried to ignore the increasing number of dogs in the room but it was hard when they were all talking, or groaning in pain. The incessant noise was irritating him greatly as his eyes swept over the compound from his stance at the window. He felt a dog approach and stiffened.
"You were the one who brought Ashleigh in?" Luke asked the vampire quietly.
Nors turned his head frowning slightly. "Who?" he asked, his tone distracted as his eyes swept over the sitting room quickly, checking his three charges were in the room and safe.
"The young girl who warned of the attack against the evacuation site," Luke answered patiently, his eyes intent on the large vampire.
Nors nodded, a vision of a little pixie face staring up at him in fear, a cap of soft blonde hair framing her young face. The girl had told Caleb her name was Ashleigh. "What of it?" he growled turning back to the window.
"I'm afraid she's going to go rogue, vampire. None of us can get through to her. I thought maybe you could try. You saved her once by bringing her home to us. Maybe she will see you as a protector and respond to you when she won't to any of us."
Nors stiffened, growling low in his chest. "I handed her off to you in one piece," he hissed. "You allowed her to come to harm?" Caleb had told him to protect the little bitch. He had done so to the best of his ability. That her own people had allowed her to come to harm oddly infuriated him.
"Graves hurt her, vampire. Not us," Luke snapped defensively. "She's lost her entire family, the family she came back to be with, the reason she was here in the first place to warn us of the attack on the evacuation site."
Nors turned slowly, his expression completely blank as his eyes searched the room and then travelled further into the hallway, finally alighting on the little blonde girl in the corner. He sucked in a deep breath. "Have someone watch this window and call me if they see anything," he bit out, striding across the room toward the girl.
He towered over her tiny figure, his fury escalating as she stared blankly ahead, not registering his presence. He didn't know what turned a Were rogue but he assumed it was some form of madness. The girl before him was sinking fast within herself and it angered him that one so fragile should feel such a wealth of loss and pain.
Growling he sat down beside her, close but not touching her. He mimicked her position resting his back against the wall. "Now I know why my kind prefer to kill," he said quietly. "It's so much easier than protecting others. We do not like to fail so we choose not to place ourselves in positions where the possibility exists. I did not want to protect you, little bitch. I did so because Caleb asked it of me. I handed you off to the first dog I could find because I wanted to be back in the fight. You were an irritation to me. Because I allowed you to be an irritation I have failed you and I am sorry."
She didn't speak but he thought he detected a slight stirring inside her. He contemplated trying to slip inside her mind but decided he didn't want to go there just yet. He would try with words first before he opened himself up to her mental anguish.
"Your family must have been very brave," he said softly. "How could they not be when they sired such a strong, brave daughter and sister who risked her life to walk among vampires so she could protect her pack? I am sure they would have been very proud of you, little bitch. I am sure they would not want you to lose the will to live because they no longer walk beside you."
He heard a tortured breath whistle out of her mouth, a muffled strangled sob being choked down as her head dropped forward to rest on her knees but still she did not speak.
"I don't know much about pack life, Ashleigh," he murmured quietly. "I know your people are worried about you, that they care for you very much. So much, they ask a cantankerous old vampire to come and speak with you, to try and help you. You may feel you are alone but you are not. Your pack is all around you, reaching out to be your strength when you need it most. Let them in, brave little wolf. Let them help you heal."
Ashleigh started to weep softly, the first tears she had cried since she had found her family dead. She turned, throwing her arms around the big vampire, burying her face against his chest as he shifted to accommodate her sudden movement. He seemed stunned for a moment before his large arms wrapped around her shaking body and he pulled her gently onto his lap.
He held her silently as she wept, half of him wondering how the hell he'd managed to get himself into this position and the other half of him wanting to comfort the weeping girl, to tell her it was going to be okay even though he had no idea if she would ever recover from her loss. He felt oddly protective of the little thing, angry with himself that he had failed to look after her earlier. Maybe if he had been around she wouldn't have lost herself when she discovered her family dead.
"Do you really think they were brave, Nors?" she suddenly asked brokenly through muffled sobs.
"I am of sure of it," he sighed stroking her hair gently. "They stood with their pack, willing to die for the good of your people. They gave their lives to protect the pack as would you if it was called for. There can be nothing braver than to be willing to lay down your life for those you love."
"I'm going to miss them so much," she whispered tearfully. "I know I have the pack but it's not the same as having my family, Nors. I will always be alone now."
Her tearful words touched a place deep inside the vampire that he had forgotten even existed anymore. His heart wrenched at her pain and he tightened his grip around her, holding her more securely. "You will only be alone if you allow yourself to be, Ashleigh. Grieve for your family but allow your pack to help you. I will make a deal with you. Promise me you will try your hardest to do so and we will meet again, one year from now. If you still feel alone then I will adopt you into my family." The words came out before he even knew what he was saying and he stifled down a deep groan as he finished speaking.
Ashleigh raised her head, her eyes red with crying, her cheeks soaking wet and her lips trembling. "Really?" she whispered tremulously. "Do you really mean that, Nors?"
He stared into her hopeful brown eyes and stifled down another deep groan wiping at her wet cheeks in an almost unconscious gesture. He let his breath hiss out in a loud sigh. "Yes, I mean it," he said in a resigned tone. "I am sure it will not be required though. A lot can change in a year, little wolf. Your pain will ease in that time and your pack will rally around you. But I will keep my word to you. If you still feel the same despite trying your very hardest, then you will have a place in my home. Are we agreed?"
The little blonde nodded slowly, more tears flowing as she leaned forward and grazed her lips against his cheek. "Thank you," she whispered softly.
Nors sighed again, gently dislodging her from his arms, standing and setting her down on her feet. He could see Luke and Lacey hovering close to them, their expressions stunned. They must have heard what he had said.
"Go now, Ashleigh," he said firmly, pushing her gently towards Lacey, sighing with relief when she ran into the other woman's arms and began to weep loudly. Tears were healing. Now she was finally releasing them the danger point was past.
Luke gave him a deep scowl and shook his head. "That's some promise you just made, vampire," he said coolly. "I wanted you to try and reach her, not promise to let her join your family. The Alpha will not be happy when he hears about this."
A burst of cold hard rage enveloped Nors and he hissed loudly. "I gave her what she needed, dog. Sometime to hold onto, an end goal to reach for so she can survive her pain. I don't give a fuck if you or your Alpha don't like it. At the end of the year, if she wants to come to me then she can. And no one better stand in her way."
He turned and stomped into the sitting room, growling at the Were beside the window until the man wisely moved out of the way. He spotted Caleb's youngling smiling as she watched him and rounded on her, glaring furiously. "What's so fucking funny?" he hissed.
"Nothing," Rhianna smiled, her lavender eyes twinkling with amusement. "You're a very nice man, Nors. I think I like you a lot." She turned and went back to Mara's side leaving him boring a hole in her back with his steely gaze.
Nors had no idea what the youngling was so pleased about and why she thought he gave a fuck about getting her approval. Maybe she was mentally deranged or something? Maybe it had something to do with being around two of the oldest of his kind? Whatever it was he didn't need her approval or anyone else's. He growled again and turned to peer out of the window, silently watching Lacey comfort the little blonde in the reflection.
Rafe caught up with Demetri in the clearing where he had sat with Rhianna the day before. The vampire was standing as still as a statue, facing another vampire with short dark hair. Graves! Rafe howled loudly, fury washing over him as he came face to face with the man who had abused his mate for two long years.
Graves turned his cold gaze to the wolf and snorted in derision. "Really, Demetri? You need to bring your little doggie to help take me down?" His voice was loaded with contempt as he dismissed the wolf immediately and turned back to his former friend. He was perturbed to see him in his most feral state. It could only mean one thing. Sandro had failed and Demetri knew he had rescinded his earlier edict to leave his loved ones alone. Still he was confident he could take the other vampire.
"Payback's a bitch, Graves," Demetri laughed softly. "You really should have paid more attention to the Weres. They're pretty formidable when riled and you've really riled my friend here. Lacey is his mate."
Graves snorted again and waved a dismissive hand. "As if I give a fuck," he drawled softly. "I'll rip his fucking heart out and then I'll find his 'mate'. I'll make her beg for death before I finally end her miserable life."
Rafe howled and started forward but Demetri blocked his path easily. "He's trying to rile you, Rafe. He wants you to attack him. Hold for now."
Rafe snarled furiously, his huge body trembling with his rage as he tried to get his wolf under control, tried to listen to the wisdom in the vampire's words but he so wanted to sink his teeth into Graves it was an impossible task. He sprang and Demetri's arm shot out, catching him around the side of the head and spinning him backwards into a tree.
"I said HOLD!" Demetri roared loudly as the wolf whined in pain as he connected with the tree and Graves began to laugh loudly.
"I see your skills at leashing your little doggie are just as bad as leashing your whore, Demetri. Oops, I meant to say wife. How is the delightful Mara these days?"
Demetri growled loudly, looking back at Rafe to see he hadn't caused too much damage. The wolf looked slightly dazed but none the worse for wear. He turned back to Graves and hissed, his talons clicking against each other as he held his position. "She is healing," he said in a dangerously quiet voice. "She will live which is more than I can say for you."
"That's a pity," Graves said letting out a disappointed sigh. "I would have preferred to hear that she died a slow, painful death. That I'd cut your balls off in a way no other has ever been able to manage before."
"I'd love to say I was sorry to disappoint you but I'm not really," Demetri laughed as Rafe once more came to his side. He looked down at the wolf who glared at him balefully. "You understand the meaning of the word Hold, now?" he asked with a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "You will get your chance, brother, but me first."
Graves frowned as he watched them interact, the word brother stunning him. "You're claiming a dog as kin?" he snorted in disgust.
Demetri shrugged his shoulders and Rafe growled quietly at his side. "I guess I am," he sighed softly. "You are Annie's brother, Rafe. If I claim her as my sister then I have to claim you as my brother, as distasteful as I find that notion. But if you tell anyone I did so I'll rip your bloody heart out and to hell with the consequences."
His gaze turned once more to Graves as his talons clicked together. He smiled. "The time for talking is over. You know why I am here and you know why you are about to die. Your army is defeated, your attack on the evacuation site failed. You have nothing left, Rich. No one's coming to help rescue you. The only thing you can look forward to is the sound of your screams as I make you pay for every second of pain you caused my Mara."
Graves felt the first frisson of fear go through his body. If what Demetri said was true, and he had no reason to believe that he was lying to him, then things were most definitely not going his way. There was nothing for it, he would have to stand and fight. Running wasn't an option where his former friend was concerned. He had played his hand and lost. Now he only had his life left to gamble with. He hissed, transforming into his most feral state, and launching himself at Demetri.
Rafe moved to the side when the two vampires crashed together. His head was still ringing from the smack Demetri had given him. He was furious at the dark haired vampire but understood why he had done what he did. It was the only thing to get Wolfie back under control. Demetri knew Graves, how he thought, what his intentions were. Mindless rage was not a weapon that worked against the other ancient. Cool, calm thinking was required. He could only imagine how difficult it must have been for Demetri not to respond to Graves' taunting about Mara but he had managed to keep his head.
Rafe prowled around the two ancients, waiting for his moment, trusting Demetri when he said he would get his chance at Graves. He'd never heard the vampire ever lie before. He had no reason to think he would do so now.
The vampires crashed into a tree so hard the large oak snapped cleanly in half, their momentum sending them both crashing to the forest floor. Graves landed on top, his talons trying to find purchase in Demetri's throat. Rafe sprang, his teeth ripping into the back of Graves' neck even as Demetri threw the vampire away from him.
Rafe howled in surprise as he went tumbling backwards, flesh and blood in his mouth as he rolled over and came back to his feet less than three feet from Graves. The vampire moved so quickly, his talons catching Rafe in his front paw and ripping downwards. Rafe howled as the pain crash through him, his paw ripped clean through to the bone.
Demetri was on top of Graves before he could do any more damage, slamming his hand into the man's lower back and ripping his talons upwards. He held Graves by the hair with one hand, lifting him bodily with the hand inside his body. Black eyes pierced the injured wolf with a baleful glare. "One day you might fucking listen to me, Rafe."
Rafe silently agreed with Demetri as he limped away, his left leg in complete agony. His euphoria at tasting Graves' blood paled into insignificance compared to the pain in his leg.
"I'm done playing with you, Rich," Demetri said softly pulling his hand from the other vampire's body. He gripped Graves' left arm and pulled it effortlessly from his body as the other man screamed in agony. "For Lacey," Demetri chanted, changing his grip on the shrieking vampire and ripping his right arm cleanly from his body.
"For Annie," Demetri crooned softly dropping his former friend to the forest floor and kicking him until he was lying on his back. He leaned over the fallen man, both hands coming to his chest, ten lethal talons sinking in deeply and raking down mercilessly to his groin.
"For my Mara," Demetri hissed furiously. "I warned you not to fuck with me, Rich. I gave you ample opportunity to avoid this but you just wouldn't listen. You had to hurt my woman. You had to think you were better than me, stronger, faster, more lethal. But you were so very wrong."
He straightened, moving over to Rafe, crouching down to look at his injury which was pretty severe. "You're not going to like this," he sighed before he pressed his bloody hands into the wolf's leg and smeared Graves blood over the wound.
Rafe's loud howl of agony changed to a muffled roar as he lost control of his wolf and shifted to human form. "What the fuck are you doing?" he ground out, tears of agony in his eyes.
"Poetic justice, brother," Demetri laughed softly, his eyes reverting back to his normal colour as he once more embraced his humanity. "Graves' blood will heal you enough that you can do what needs to be done. You don't have a lot of time. Even with no arms he will be lethal once his chest wounds heal. You have about fifteen minutes to exact your vengeance."
Rafe felt revulsion that Graves blood was being used to heal his wound. And yet, there was a certain irony to it as Demetri had pointed out. The other vampire's blood would heal Rafe enough that he could kill him before his own vampiric healing abilities kicked in. He smiled slowly as he looked up at Demetri and felt the connection of kin with the dark haired vampire. "You really are one sick bastard, Demetri," he laughed softly.
"When it's called for," his new brother laughed removing his hands from his leg. "Fourteen minutes," he counted down.
Rafe shifted, rolling to his feet, stalking over to the hissing vampire lying in agony on the forest floor. Fourteen minutes to kill him. He could do a lot in fourteen minutes, cause such pain and agony that Graves would scream louder than Lacey ever had, louder than Mara, louder than his Annie. The red mist of rage consumed him as he stood over Graves, teeth bared, saliva literally dripping from them as he sought to find the place he wanted to start to his destruction.