Bound to My Mate Ch. 19byDoctorWolf©
Enjoy this chapter and do not fear the cliffhanger ending! I swear I didn't do it this time. Thank you to all the loyal fans who take the time to read and comment. Seeing a new comment makes my day. -DW
"Don't call the pack with a howl," I begged Joel still on my knees. "The rogues don't know we know, yet. Let them think we aren't onto them."
"Shift," Joel ground out quietly, "everyone here shift now, pass the word quietly."
The pack was silent watching us. Those that heard the command shifted, those that didn't followed the lead of the wolves that did.
I heard Joel's voice ordering all the warriors to take up positions around the pack.
Joel pushed into my mind and into Rick's at the same time.
'Which way and when?' he asked.
'They looked like they might have been heading north, sir, last I saw them was about thirty minutes ago,' Rick answered.
'No better directions?' Joel asked quietly.
'I didn't want to get caught, sir. I wanted to get back to you and warn you, sir. None of my brothers were shifted, I couldn't call out to anyone I knew.'
The black hybrid looked at Rick and the shivering little human next to him. Pushing into Joel thoughts, he held the same opinion I did. Rick would have stayed out of their way to protect April. He could have howled a warning, but that would have brought the rogues right to his mate.
'It may be for the better,' I sent to Joel, 'if he howled we'd know, but they would, too. We have the element of surprise now.'
Joel didn't agree, not even a little bit, but he let it slide. Instead he focused on the warriors and divided everyone into search teams.
I felt the weird push as the minds of the pack melded and centered on Joel's command. Everyone but Joel was quiet, but I could feel them all shifting anxiously in my head.
'We need to hit the main roads out of the woods,' Joel told all of us. 'Trackers get in your teams. Fan out and find their routes, focus on the area north of us.'
The trackers bolted out from the clearing. I could feel their discomfort. The pack had been all over the area around us. Finding the trails the rogues had left would be difficult and we did not have time.
'They'll want out of our territory,' Joel told me, although everyone could hear us. 'Most likely they carried the girls to waiting vehicles and they'll move them across the country.'
Betas were divided into teams to monitor the exit roads from the forest. This time of night there would be almost no traffic. If they saw anything, they could call in back up.
'What about the service road in the northwest corner of the national forest?' I asked Joel. 'You could get on the interstate fairly easy from there, even though there isn't an official entrance ramp.'
All the warriors were in our heads now. I sensed them all listening for Joel's response.
'That is a long run from here, Elizabeth, even for powerful wolves,' Joel contemplated. 'However, that interstate is the most direct access out of our territory.'
I could see in his mind as he calculated the distance and the time necessary to reach the road.
'I could make it quickly and just watch it. If they were there, I could just let you know,' I offered.
'Love, if this is the second larger pack we were tracking, we are talking about perhaps thirty violent wolves. If they saw you, they would kill you.'
'I swear to you Joel, I wouldn't move on them without back up. If they went that way I'm the only wolf fast enough to make any difference,' I argued as politely as I could.
'No suicide runs, Elizabeth, just watch the road,' was his command and I bolted out of the clearing.
In the back of my mind I heard him order five wolves to follow me. I couldn't concentrate on them. My feet, I just focused on my feet and moving them as fast as I ever had. I ran for the service road where it neared the interstate.
It was a long shot that they'd take this route. It was a massive hike through the forest even for me, however, it was all I could do to help. Standing in the clearing while Joel organized and monitored the search would have driven me crazy. Watching a road was a job I could do.
I kept tabs on Joel's planning as I ran. He was moving his base of operations to a clearing much farther north. Reports from the few trackers he had sent in other areas seemed to be saying that no rogues had been in those directions. He was closing in on where the rogues would be quickly.
I heard Anthony in my head after several more minutes of zipping through the forest. He wasn't talking to everyone, just me.
'Madam Alpha, we are behind you. I'm begging you to be careful and be on your guard.'
'I'm not ready to die just yet, Anthony. I'm just on a sight seeing tour,' I sent back to him.
The service road was not well known, but it was secluded. It curved in a large S down the side of a mountain. It was intended to monitor the satellite dish at the top of a small hill. Once the road straightened out it ran for miles eventually dumping into route 301.
The piece of road I was interested in bordered the interstate. The interstate wasn't busy at night and it would be easy enough to drive through the trees and merge.
I was getting closer to the road when the smell hit me: fear and pack blood. There were male scents mixed, but I didn't recognize them.
Opening my connection to Joel I heard him send everyone in my direction.
Staying hidden in the dense foliage I darted along the road until I found a set of vehicles. I watched as the rogues tried to pull my girls into the vans. The small Omegas they had taken resisted as best they could. I longed to jump out and fight, but I was seriously outnumbered and the pack was on its way.
As I stood and watched the girls put up a final bid for freedom. They attacked the rogues as a pack in an effort for the fastest two to get away. The girls didn't get far enough to shift and were dragged back. It tore at my heart to watch this display.
It seemed to take an eternity, but the rogues beat the girls until they forced them into the vans. They drove back toward 301 and the interstate. Remembering my promise I followed along beside them, but did not intercept.
The lights were on in one van and I watched a vicious looking male pummeling something on the floor. It was one of my girls; I was sure of it. My promise to Joel made me helpless and I hated it.
'Mate,' Joel called into my mind in warning, 'just follow them.'
It took every bit of effort I had not to jump the caravan. 'Just watching, Joel, not doing anything more.'
Suddenly the lead van veered off. They were going to cut across the empty field, through the tree line, and onto the interstate. Once they were there I couldn't follow as easy and we'd have a hard time stopping them.
'Joel, I can take out their tires with my claws and then get out of the way. It'll stop them from getting on the interstate. I will not engage them at all, I swear,' I pleaded.
The van was almost to the trees when Joel made his decision. 'Destroy a tire on each van and get back up on the hill. Stay away from them.'
I struck like a snake, clawing the tires on the driver's side. I moved so fast I was just a white blur with claws. Quickly, I darted up the hill.
Anthony and his group joined me near the top. They closed ranks around me silently. We had no other reinforcements, so we just waited.
The rogues jumped out of the disabled vans. Several tried to bring the Omegas they had kidnapped with them. The girls knew we were close and continued to fight as best they could.
I wanted to help them, to run down the hill and slay the monsters that had kidnapped my pack. I waited for Joel, though. He was right; I would lose this fight.
Anthony seemed to sense by distress and comforted me softly. The girls would be fine, he said, the rest of the pack would get here in time. Luna, I hoped he was right.
The rogues regrouped and seemed to be forming a plan. They tried to pull the women to follow them and my females resisted them. It was obvious the pack was near, so the women tried to stay put.
Horrified, I watched the scene before me. If the rogues couldn't have the females, they weren't going to leave them alive. I saw massive claws raised above my girls' throats. They were going to murder them in front of me.
Joel moved like a shadow intercepting the clawed hands. Anthony and my guards rushed to his side and started to battle with the rogues. Outnumbered as they were, my pack knew how to work together. The warriors attacked and countered slowly decimating the intruders.
The Omegas scrambled to get out of the way. I watched them move into and under the disabled vehicles. They refused to be in the way of this fight.
I stood on the hill and watched. This is what Joel wanted, me out of the way and safe, but I hated it. It took every bit of self control to just watch the battle unfold below me.
Somehow in the melee the rogues managed to peel Anthony away from Joel. He was no match for the five to one odds they pitted against him. They bit and slashed until he lay on the ground bleeding from multiple wounds.
I sensed that the rest of the warriors and they were still many minutes away. Anthony did not have minutes. The bloodthirsty look in the eyes of the rogues confirmed they were moving in for the kill.
Anthony was a good wolf and a good man. He had looked out for me since the day Joel found me. I still remembered when he pulled me over, concerned because I was driving too recklessly. I couldn't let him die like this.
Bolting down the mountain, I tore into the rogues surrounding my Beta. They didn't expect my speed and I injured them badly. My claws were bloody and my teeth dripped with their sinew within moments.
I felt Joel's acceptance of my actions. He pushed the battle plan into my mind and I followed his directions to the letter. Joel knew how to plan and how to fight. I wanted to learn from him.
Adding me to the skirmish seemed to diminish the small advantage the rogues had in number. Barely trained and still new to this life, I was an Alpha and a force to be reckoned with. By the time the full complement of warriors arrived, the battle was already over.
Several of the rogues had run, we had seen them turn tail during the fight. Trackers arrived with the warriors and Joel set them to the task. We were agreed on this. No rogues were living on our territory ever again. Whoever had run would not live through the night.
The trackers work was easy in this part of the forest. Joel wanted a search and destroy. He sent trackers with teams of warriors to find and neutralize any rogue they found. He moved briskly around the area, making sure they didn't miss anyone. While he organized that, I took care of the wounded.
There was a lot of healing that needed to be done. Several girls had oddly angled broken bones and Anthony was still bleeding heavily. As the wolf I dragged Anthony closer to the huddled female Omegas and started to work. I cleaned and healed as best I could in the field.
Several of Joel's warriors were standing around and I ordered them to change the tires I had destroyed. Using the vans we could deliver the wounded back to the den most efficiently. The men shifted and quickly got the vans back in working order so we could use them.
The girls all clung to me when I got near them. They reeked of fear and pain. I couldn't stand it and nearly cleaned off skin in an effort to comfort them.
I replayed the day in my head and knew we had made a mistake. We trusted our lands to be safe and didn't worry about security at the lake. The pack had been in grave danger and if it wasn't for Rick we would have lost members.
I felt this was my fault. It was my job to protect my pack from danger. I had failed to anticipate their needs. We came so very close to losing some of them it made me shudder. I was guilty and angry all at once and my bad feelings did not end there.
Watching the battle with the rogues as I stood on the hill had been horrific. I had been like a sentry and watched Anthony nearly be destroyed. It didn't matter it was because Joel had asked me to. It didn't even matter I had eventually stepped in. I felt I was weak and ineffectual.
With all the negative thoughts going on in my head, my mood was volatile. I was protective of the rescued females and Anthony to a point I wouldn't let anyone near them. I growled and showed teeth when anyone tried to approached them. It was like I couldn't think other than to know my own needed protection.
One of Anthony's good friends came too close and I nearly took a piece out of his shoulder. The wolf bolted to the side and rolled showing his belly. I was preparing to attack again when I heard Anthony's voice.
'You know, Madam Alpha,' Anthony sent weakly into my mind, 'I think it's you. I've never spent this much time being injured in my life.'
My wolf was agitated and angry, but that made me laugh inside. I had managed to get Anthony sent the infirmary at least twice now. It took effort, but I backed down and allowed the pack to approach the victims.
Joel padded over to me and rubbed his nose along my neck. I was forced to breath him in and it calmed me further.
'Relax, love, they are safe. You don't have to worry,' he crooned rubbing down along my side.
'We worked together,' I said absently still trying to gather some measure of control.
'Yes, we did. It was a good first step and I think the pack will recognize it,' he said continuing to stand close for a moment.
'They need to get back to the den,' I said turning my nose toward the injured. 'Anthony lost a lot of blood and several of the girls have broken bones.'
Joel ordered several of his warriors to run with the caravan back to the den. I would feel much more at ease once everyone was safely inside our home. The rogues had seriously damaged my sense of safety in the woods I now considered mine.
The trackers got Joel's attention as several made there way to where we were. The bodies of escaping rogues were being dragged out of the undergrowth for Joel's inspection. They needed their leader to coordinate the search. Joel walked around counting the kills the warriors had made and planned the search for any remaining stragglers that may have gotten away.
I padded along beside Joel and growled at every leaf that blew around us. Despite Joel's comments I was still upset and having trouble keeping a handle on it. The warriors all backed carefully away from me. My mood was at best, unpredictable. Joel noticed, but didn't fuss at me.
'Get Dia's truck,' he ordered Nate instead. 'Have one of the men that work the docks drive it down here and pick up the remains. I'm sure one of them knows how to handle a semi. We'll take the remains to the circle and burn them.'
'Dia doesn't own the trailer,' I argued for some reason, 'whoever she was trucking for would own the trailer part. We can't use it to haul around dead bodies.'
My brain just wouldn't work right. I felt agitated and just wanted to fight with someone. If that someone was Joel, so be it.
'Shift,' Joel ordered looking over at me, 'we will speak in our human form.'
Joel shifted and stood in front of me waiting. I fought with the urge to just do what he said. Eventually, I transformed back to my human skin and took a defensive posture. Wolf form or not I was ready to battle at the slightest provocation.
Moving quicker than I anticipated Joel wrapped me in his arms and pulled me close. "Feeling a little anxious, love?" he asked quietly nuzzling my neck.
I tried to pull away from him. I wanted to fight, not cuddle. He was so persistent, though. Joel forced me to breath against his chest, so every bit of air was saturated with his smell. Eventually, I melted into the embrace and let him hold me.
"I bought Dia's trailer from the shipping company yesterday. It still reeks of Linda's body," he explained not letting go. "You are feeling pent up because I made you watch an attack on your pack and did not let you take part. An Alpha will always feel anxious when they don't think they are protecting members."
He continued to hold and stroke me gently as he spoke. "You did a very good job of stepping in when it was needed. Anthony is grateful you didn't watch him die. The girls are grateful you stopped the caravan. It was not weakness to let me handle the renegades in battle, although I may be forced to reconsider your ability there."
"How did you know?" I asked sinking farther into his arms.
The urge to rip and kill was slowly subsiding and I felt more like myself now.
"I've been at this a very long time, my love," he said running his hands up and down my back.
"I didn't like watching," I grumbled.
"I know," he laughed, "but you did it to make me happy, thank you."
We stood for a few more moments before Joel got back to the task at hand. We both shifted so we would have contact with the rest of the pack. He had sent teams to find and destroy any remaining rogues. As they dragged back the kills, he monitored the search.
Several minutes passed by and then Will arrived with a group dragging several dead renegades. They had been watching a road further west and were the last to arrive. Will and his group had intercepted a couple rogues that almost got away.
Suddenly Will turned toward the entrance to the service road and growled low and long. He bolted toward the main road without a backward glance. Joel and I pushed into his mind at the same time.
Will had felt Dia through their bond. She wouldn't let anyone else drive her truck, despite the Alpha's orders. It was hard for her to find the service road in the dark and her agitation had gotten Will's attention. Dia was with a single male Omega driving toward us with renegades possibly on the loose.
I thought it was pretty classic, but Joel did not appreciate being ignored. The last thing he needed tonight was a human to watch after. Joel sent a cadre of his warriors to surround the truck and protect it's occupants.
'Can you imagine,' Joel fumed watching the truck pull slowly down the road, 'what Will's father would say if I allowed Will's mate to be injured? He would be livid. Not to mention I've already had to hear an ear full about the way I treated her. What a disaster.'
I felt like a fool, but I wasn't sure why Will's father would care if Dia was hurt.
'Please explain that to me,' I requested.
Joel shook his big wolfy head and spoke into my mind, 'A werewolf can only have pups with their mate. Dia is the link to Will's line being carried on. Most of us don't get a second chance at a mate. Lucas was an exception,' he said walking toward the truck.
'Emily also found a second mate,' I said thoughtfully and Joel snorted.
'The young ones often confuse attraction with the mate bond. They become overanxious. I take great pains to ensure it is truly a mate bond when the younger wolves come to me. If Emily had truly found her mate, he would not have hurt her.'
Joel was walking toward the driver's side of the truck and watching it with interest. I had the feeling he was intent on giving Dia a piece of his mind, but Will beat him to it.
When the rig ground to a halt and Dia jumped out, Will shifted to his human form. He stalked up and started to talk quietly and quickly to her. She wasn't quiet in her response.
"It is MY damn truck. Alpha Latro owns the fucking trailer. If you want it hauled around with this rig, I do the driving!" she screamed at him.
Will responded cooly, but he was obviously upset, "Do you have any idea what you're picking up? The rest of their pack is scattered in these woods, for all we know. You just brought them a portal of escape. I know you were lucky to escape harm two days ago, but you may not be so lucky a second time. I am begging you to stop taking chances."