Stories Hub / NonHuman / Seeking Eternity Ch. 07

Seeking Eternity Ch. 07

by silver_firefly 01/13/18

This is dedicated to the readers who stuck with me and expressed support during my long hiatus. Thank you very much. SF

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The sound of a slamming door reverberated through the house. With a heavy sigh, Amélie put down the book she was reading. Her moment of peace and quiet was obviously at an end: the master of the house had returned, and so had the air of doom that seemed to cling onto him these past few days.

Making as little noise as possible, she slipped out of the library and down the stairs. She had known Ashford for so long, and when he was in one of these moods, even a single whisper could bring down his wrath upon her head; it would be better, then, to leave him alone until his sanity returned.

For Amélie earnestly believed that her brother had lost his mind. Ever since Raine's disappearance, Ashford had been chewing their heads off with orders to find her, and their lack of success was not helping his moods.

Amélie headed for the front door and was surprised to find both Adam and Ross outside, their faces grim and drawn as they stared straight ahead into the darkness of the street.

"What goes?" she asked, firmly closing the door behind her. Not that it would keep Ashford from hearing them, but no matter; he could attack them here if it would please him. "Is anything amiss?"

"Things are quickly sliding down to hell," Ross answered with a huge sigh.

She frowned. "How come?"

"Ashford just attacked a wolf," Adam answered. When Amélie cocked an eyebrow, he added, "Cassandra Norwood."

To hell, indeed, Amélie thought. She had never been fond of the old bitch, but even she was not foolish enough to threaten the uneasy peace between vampires and wolves by perpetrating an attack. However tempting the idea was, however much Cassandra deserved some form of punishment for all the things that she had done, an attack on a wolf was an attack on its pack, and if knowledge of it reached the Council of the Wolves, Amélie could almost sense the certainty of war.

Clearly, Ashford's insanity was graver than she had initially thought.

"Why on earth did he do that?" she blurted out.

"Well..." Ross flinched. "Territorial claim?"

Fuck. Amélie took a seat on the porch swing and rubbed her face. She dearly wanted to keep heaping the blame on Ashford's head, but where territory was concerned, she had her brother's back. It was one thing to abduct Raine and keep her away from vampires; it was another to take her and bed her when she had already been claimed. Amélie had been in the same situation once; decades later, here she was, still unable to forgive the woman who had taken her man away.

"Do we know which wolf touched Raine?" she asked.

"There's only one wolf in Ambercrest who will be bold enough to do it," Ross said quietly, pertaining to the leader of the pack.

Amélie was not convinced. "Have you seen the pack? There's a reason why Ashford approached Ambercrest. It's not only because Raine's only existing family belongs to it, or because we are on Ambercrest lands; it's mainly because there are a lot of strong wolves in that pack."

"But there's only one wolf who has a history with Raine," Ross explained. "Or did you think she would sleep around like a bitch?"

Amélie refrained from pointing out that, being a female wolf, Raine was a bitch -- or half-bitch, to be precise. Besides, the woman had been claimed, and she ought to feel the pull of her bond with Ashford when faced with the possibility of another lover. If Raine had indeed slept with another man, then something powerful must be at work here. Amélie could only think of a few things that could overshadow the pull of the special connection between claimant and claimed.

"Did you say history?" Amélie backtracked, wondering if she had misheard Ross.

"Yes, he did," Adam chimed in. "Raine had unknowingly encountered a wolf before."

"Nicholas James Collbreed, Ambercrest alpha," Ross said, "although, of course, he was not yet leader of the pack when the two of them met."

Amélie narrowed her eyes. That would explain a lot of things, not the least of which was the response of Raine's body to Ashford's claim. Sleeping with Ashford should not have necessarily awoken Raine's wolf -- but it had, probably because her wolf had been biding its time for years, and the touch of a vampire -- a wolf's mortal enemy -- forced the beast to rear its head. Either that, or...

She shook her head, unwilling to think of the other possible and more likely reason. It was all cause and effect, Amélie thought. Not that she could say such a thing to Ashford. Her brother might kill her if she did. After all, what choice did Ashford have but to claim the girl? Granted, he should not have given Raine his heart, but even Amélie knew that that was unintentional.

No self-respecting vampire would deliberately choose to fall in love with a wolf, she thought bitterly.

But now that it had happened, what was left for her to do? She could not just leave Ashford to deal with this problem alone. Amélie owed her brother too much, and it was about time she started paying him back. Besides, she might have a way of reaching out to Raine.

It was time to call on some old friends and call in some long-standing favours.

*****

Nicholas looked outside the window toward the stretch of land that made up the Collbreed mansion's backyard. The lush garden that was immediately against the house had been his mother's pride -- a reminder of the sweet and gentle soul that held their family together before her untimely death. Beyond that lay the woods considered to be the heart of Ambercrest territory, in the middle of which was a vast meadow where Nicholas used to spend most of his time as a child to escape his father's wrath.

He knew this land very well -- a territory that had been ruled by his ancestors since time immemorial. This was where generations upon generations of Ambercrest alphas had been born and raised to become leaders of the pack. If given the chance, this was where he would like to raise his own children -- but only if he could start a family with the woman of his choosing.

He turned to look at that woman, who was peacefully sleeping on his bed. He had insisted on taking Raine to the Collbreed mansion to be able to take care of her better. It had not been easy convincing Cassandra to let her granddaughter go, but Nicholas would not be deterred when he had set his mind on anything, so the older wolf had no choice but to acquiesce.

Raine had been exhausted these past three days, and why not? Nicholas had been quite merciless in training her. He had asked her to run as fast as she could for as long as she could, always goading her to continue whenever she was about to collapse from exhaustion. Most wolves would come out when their human forms were under such kind of pressure, but Raine was obviously not like most wolves.

When Cassandra asked for help, the woman thought that what Raine needed was someone to be with her as she quadruped. As the days went by, however, Nicholas found out that what Raine needed was someone who could completely coax her wolf out. Her transformations always stopped in the early stages, and although Nicholas was able to help her make such transformations painless, nothing he had done could push Raine to completely turn.

Nicholas spent the next few moments watching Raine. He wanted to touch her -- to kiss her -- before leaving, but experience had taught him that he would only end up waking her. And that was the last thing he should do. As the past three nights had shown him, a fully awake Raine Amethyst Reinhart would be bent upon seduction, and he was much too enthralled with her to resist her advances. So he contented himself with just looking at her, wondering how much longer he would be able to keep her.

The answer, of course, depended on how the congress of elders would react to his revelation. Raine's whereabouts would not be unknown forever, and with the Council of the Wolves slowly closing in and the vampires building an army, he knew that time was running out. He needed all the allies he could get, and get them he would, by whatever means necessary.

Cassandra was waiting by the car when he finally stepped outside the mansion, her face a mirror of concern. She bowed her head to him -- a perfunctory act that Nicholas had finally gotten used to after three years of leading the pack. Of course, when around those who did not know about the existence of wolves, they skipped these formalities, but here in the middle of Ambercrest territory, it seemed as though not bowing before the alpha was a sign of utmost disrespect -- to Nicholas's chagrin.

He acknowledged her with a nod and automatically found himself by the passenger side, opening the door for her. Cassandra flashed a smile of gratitude before ducking inside and waiting for him to slip into the driver's seat.

"Are you certain you would like to do this?" she asked hesitantly when Nicholas started the engine.

Nicholas swallowed down a grin, opting for a passive expression that was meant to appease his present company. It occurred to him that, despite the bow, the first thing that escaped Cassandra's lips showed a total lack of confidence that would have mortified most wolves. Not so Cassandra Norwood. Then again, it was this side of her personality that prompted Nicholas to ask her to become the head of the congress of elders in the first place.

"We have no other choice, Cassandra," he answered, slowly driving toward the open gates of the mansion. "We need the congress's help if we are to succeed in helping Raine."

The old woman nodded distractedly. "But there are those who will think that it is unwise to keep Raine away from the Council."

"Of course there are," Nicholas agreed. "I hardly expect them to believe otherwise. Even I know the dangers of keeping secrets from the Council. But how many do you think would openly criticize my decision in this matter?"

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