It'd been three weeks now. Mark Oberlin's wolf was beginning to grow restless. He scanned the square again as his phone began to vibrate in his pocket.

"Hello?" he murmured, careful not to draw attention to himself.

"Hey Mark, it's me, Alex. Are you still chasing that random chick?" Mark took the phone away from his face and rolled his eyes at it. Stupid Alex. It's not as if Mark enjoyed being a Delta borne to two of the most prominent Alphas the Southeast had ever seen. He would give anything to feel the drive to lead or protect....anything but this insatiable drive to heal and learn and teach. But this was the life that Luna had dealt him so he'd live it to the best of his ability. His family would accept nothing less.

"Alex you know that I have to follow my urge to nurture and heal. And you also know it's a sore spot with me so I don't know why you're bringing it up. No I haven't found her. Maybe I was wrong and she doesn't need help. Maybe I've finally cracked."

Alex sighed heavily. "Or dear cousin, maybe you've found your mate and you're being pulled to her because she's your other half. You know...that whole major thing that every werewolf wants to happen for them at some point in our very very long lives."

"Alex I'm not having this conversation with you again. My fucking perfect Alpha parents had an Alpha heir, an Alpha female, a Beta male and then MY miserable carcass. I'm the werewolf equivalent of "that one special child". I am a freak. An anomaly. It'd been one thing if one of my parents had been of a lower rank but they're not just Alphas, they're these awesome amazing Alphas. No female in her right mind would want to mate with me. They'd end up with an Omega child or worse a full human. What the hell did you call me for anyway?"

"Mark only ancient wolves cling to the class system like that anymore. Any woman would be lucky to have you for a mate and your pups will have a great father. The mating bond works so that you're paired up with someone who can appreciate what you have to offer? How am I 16 years to your 27 and I'm so much smarter than you?! And if I'm smarter than you why am I calling you for help with this stupid algebra homework? This is going to be the death of me Mark I have no idea what I'm doing!" Alex ended in a rush.

Mark pulled the phone away from his ear and rubbed it vigorously to try to ease the pain from the decibels that Alex's voice had reached. "Look dude algebra is simple. If you slowed down the chasing girl's thing and focused a little more you'd be ok and you'd pass. I'm gonna give this five more minutes and then I'm coming-"

Mark froze. "Alex I'll call you back." He had to concentrate to slip the phone in his pocket and not drop it on the ground. There she is. He'd finally found her. She made his wolf crazy. He was so wound up and anxious. She must be in some kind of trouble. The question is what? What did she need, what was wrong with her? Why was his wolf unable to let her go?


Sara tucked her hair behind her ear as she scoped out her reflection in the mirror. So far the day had been good; she hadn't gotten a lot of questions. Then again she was pretty sure everyone in her small office knew her husband Jimmy beat her and that she was out letting her face and body heal instead of battling the flu like she said. The true test was going to be running out to get her boss's lunch for one of the nearby restaurants. Some of the proprietors really knew her and she'd have to be careful about her appearance. If they suspected something they'd try to help her and then they could get hurt. She'd be crushed if something happened to someone just because they tried to help her out of a situation. Sara decided under her eyes needed a swipe more of concealer and that the bruise on her cheek matched her blush enough to blend and work. She adjusted her clothing and stepped out of the restroom.

"Hey cutie you ready to go to lunch?" Vaughn asked. Sara smiled up at him. Vaughn was a sweetheart. Short and beefy with bulging muscles everywhere he looked like a bouncer or a professional weight lifter. Instead he was a mild mannered advertising executive who was seriously opposed to any kind of force. He had a natural swagger and it drove the ladies crazy. Unfortunately for them he was completely devoted to his boyfriend Trevor. It was fortunate for Sara that he was gay. If not Jimmy probably wouldn't let her be friends with him. Even with him being gay, Jimmy was iffy about it. But he tolerated Vaughn's place in her life and for that Sara was grateful. She couldn't really make friends with women. They judged her harshly for not leaving Jimmy. They didn't understand though. No one really did.

"I think I'm just gonna eat here at my desk Vaughn. It's bad enough that I have to go out to get Mr. Carter's lunch, I'm just not up to being stared at by everyone." Sara pulled her cardigan closer over herself, subconsciously trying to shield herself from the pain of people's stares. Vaughn's eyes grew sad as he looked down on his friend. She was such a good person and deserved way better than that shitbag of a husband she had. Most of her friends had turned their backs on her because she wouldn't leave but Vaughn couldn't do that. The memory of identifying his little sister's body in the morgue kept him by Sara's side. Susie wouldn't leave her boyfriend no matter how their family had tried and in the end she'd died alone because they'd make ultimatums and demands she couldn't meet. Vaughn hoped like hell that Sara would get out in time but if she didn't she'd have a friend by her side. She wouldn't die alone in the street like someone who was unloved. She wouldn't be like his sister. Vaughn cleared his throat before he spoke. "Ok. Well you know where I am if you need me. I'll talk to you later."

Sara flashed him a smile knowing he was worried about her. "Sure thing." She gave him a small wave as he turned down the hall. 'Vaughn is a really good friend', she thought. In another life, they might go out for drinks or to catch movies...maybe hang out and go on couple dates. Sara gave herself a little mental shake. There was no sense wondering and wishing about what might have been. Her life is what is it is now and that's all there was to it. Looking at her computer she saw that Mr. Carter had requested a sandwich from the local Italian place clear across the square. Biting her lip, she groaned in frustration. Hopefully too many people wouldn't be out eating lunch although she doubted it seeing that it was 11:30 am. Sighing dejectedly, she grabbed her purse, making sure that her company check card was in there and headed out downstairs toward the exit.

The sun was incredibly bright when she stepped out, making her wince since the warmth was uncomfortable on the bruises on her face. Sara folded herself up and quickly walked to the other side of the square from the small advertising firm she worked at, trying to make herself as small as she possibly could. She could feel eyes watching her and she tried to ignore it as she made her way to Stratelli's Eatery.

She looked so frail and small. Mark felt the need to sweep her up and carry her back to the den. She looked like she stood about 5' 8" but with her all hunched over and scurrying across the square it was hard for him to tell. What was wrong with her? What did she need from him so badly that his wolf kept drawing him to this square? He casually walked along his edge of the square to try to get to where she seemed to be headed. She seemed very skittish so he wanted to be sure not to scare her. He angled his trajectory so that he ended up a good ways behind her. Cautiously sniffing the air, her scent sandbagged him. He smelled like chocolate and vanilla with a mix of honey. Her scent was almost creamy in a way. It was heavenly. He shook himself. He had to keep his head in the game if he was going to talk to her and maybe at least come into his practice here in the town. He didn't see a wedding band on her finger so no boyfriend to worry about. He entered the eatery behind her, his stomach grumbling at the rich smell of marinara sauce and garlic. Might as well pick up some lunch while he was here. She picked a good place. She ordered a sandwich that sounded pretty awesome too. Turning over what appeared to be a company credit card she paid for the sandwich and impatiently waited for the cashier to give her the receipt. She wouldn't stop fidgeting. What had her so nervous? As she readjusted her sleeves he saw bruises in the shape of fingerprints on her wrists. So. That's what was wrong with her, she'd been beaten. Mark's eyes turned a rich and swirling amber as his wolf tried to rise to the surface, desperate to find any trace of the fool that would dare touch the beautiful woman before him. She'd been making idle chit chat with the cashier while the credit card machine was running and finally the teenager was able to hand her back the card and the signature slip. She managed to hold onto the credit card but dropped the slip. Mark figured this was as good a time as any to introduce himself to her and bent down to pick it up for her. "Hi, I'm Mark. You seem to have dropped this." Mark stood up to hand her the slip and gently placed his hand on her shoulder to draw her attention.

Sara flinched and spun around quickly. "No no no please don't tell Jimmy I didn't mean anything by it I promise" Sara whimpered. She quickly began to hyperventilate. Jimmy told her that he always knew where she was and what she was doing. She should have known that he'd send one of his buddies to check up on her and monitor what she was doing.

Mark felt a stabbing pain in his chest at the fear coming off of her in waves. She was so beautiful and he could sense the good in her. Why would someone hurt her like this? Mark felt his wolf slamming against his human conscience aching to rip her abuser limb from limb. Calm down buddy if we change we'll scare her. "It's okay I don't even know a Jimmy I was just trying to give you this" Mark said calmly and slowly. As he finished talking he raised the hand with the receipt in it.

The whooshing of blood through Sara's veins blocked out anything the man in front of her was saying. All she could think of was how it took her three weeks to recover from the last beating she got when Jimmy thought she was too friendly with the gardener. Jimmy was going to kill her if his friend told her that she was flirting with another man. And she had to be flirting. Jimmy always told her how she couldn't talk to a man without flirting and acting like a whore. How was she going to keep Jimmy from killing her after this? As she ran through all of the ways Jimmy could hurt her and forced herself to stare at the floor, she saw a hand raise up out of the corner of her eye and the world went black.

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