Chapter 69:1 Felt Her Go
Mirage was in shambles, but it was quiet. All around us people were moving as though in slow motion. It had been roughly
eight weeks since Damian invaded and tore the place to shreds. But oddly enough, the destruction was the only trace left of his invasion.
All of his warriors were gone. The castle was empty.
We had left Winter Forest three days ago, shortly after Ernest and Gemma had arrived. Rosalie and Georgia had stayed behind, and with good reason. Gemma was too far along to risk travel, and Rosalie seemed to have plans for Hanna.
U glanced over my shoulder at Rowan, who was huddled amongst a group of men pouring over several sheets of blueprints. Rowan was pointing to the lopsided radio tower that rose out of the trees and was covered in vines, his eyes shining as he explained his course of action.
I watched him for a moment, seeing at once the man he would one day become. A leader. The next Alpha King. He would inherit it all. The West. The East. Whatever lands Maeve found past the Southern channel. It would be his.
I wouldn’t let him inherit ruin. I was going to end this, whatever it was.
Ernest was walking ahead of us as we sauntered around the castle grounds, bending every once in a while to examine debris left behind by Damian’s men.
“He feels guilty for leaving,” Talon said, tucking his hands into his pockets as we walked.
“He shouldn’t; there was nothing he could have done.”
I believed it wholeheartedly. Mirage was a city of many packs, the territories bleeding into each other the closer you got to the city. Ernest didn’t flee like a coward. He had hidden Gemma in the center of Mirage while he gathered the other Alphas. together, placing a few in charge of caring for those people who had been displaced, and the rest to fight and guard their hold on their territories that bordered the city. Then he brought Gemma home, praying to the Goddess that things didn’t unravel further in his absence.
He was born and bred to be the Alpha of Drogomor, the sole ruler of Mirage. Ernest felt like he had abandoned his people, but what choice did he have? We didn’t know then what we knew now.
And he was after her, right now, while we tried to put the pieces of Valoria back together.
“He will come back to rule, of course. Gemma too.” Talon bit the inside of his cheek, shaking his head.
“I think you and Georgia should stay as well-”
“Of course, we wouldn’t think of leaving. But this is his throne now, Ethan. I have no desire to take over.”
was probably right about it. Regardless of the fact that Damian and his army had already left
couldn’t quite wrap my head around who those people
standing next to the castle now, looking up at a window on the fourth floor. A piece of plywood covered it from the inside, the glass
out of the castle,” Ernest said sadly as we caught up to him, flanking him on either side. “Gemma heard it
Talon laid his hand on Ernest’s shoulder, squeezing. “We‘re safe,
never have let her go to get Maeve
came in through the tunnels. There was nothing you could have done,” I said sternly, hoping to ease some of his guilt.
I showed… I showed Julian of Greenbriar the tunnel system. He asked me about
began, but I turned to Ernest, cutting off Talon with
How-but he’s an old man?
Talon looked from Ernest to me, his eyes shining in
remembering the blonde woman with the beady black eyes who had been in the
for someone to explain, but Ernest
Julian of Greenbriar was blond, wasn’t he? Strange looking guy?” I asked Ernest. Ernest nodded. “F*ck. We
Ernest began, but I cut
was stuttering, trying to organize the plot playing out in my head. Blond, black eyes, the strange, lifted accent. Opaline and Julian weren’t of Greenbriar, no. They were Lycennian. I’d bet my life on it. Julian was likely
Lycenna want with Mirage? From what you told me
goes beyond territories, Talon,” I snapped, my skin prickling with adrenaline. Goddess, this was getting more
with you guys?” Rowan walked up to
back to Winter Forest,” I said, giving Ernest a
got here! There’s
and tucked under
the invasion, Rowan,” Talon said
not yet,” Ernest said
to,” Talon retorted, his voice carrying a stern,
little patience for an explanation. A few minutes passed as we argued back
overall bull-headed about the situation. Rowan was clutching his blueprints in his hands, his mouth drawn in a scowl of
“Listen to me, Rowan,” I said sternly, but then stopped, sensing that something was wrong.
“Dad?” he said, but then looked away, his face undergoing an incredible transformation. His brow furrowed as he lifted his hand to his chest. “Rowan? What’s the-“| barely had a chance to catch him as he fell to his knees.
“What’s wrong with him?” Talon knelt, taking Rowan’s head between his hands. “Rowan, hey, kid”
He screamed, and Ernest dropped to his knees, the three of us holding onto Rowan for dear life as he crumbled between us. He began to protest, saying “no” over and over.
“Rowan!” I exclaimed, shaking him. I was seriously concerned; I had never seen him act like this before. “Are you hurt? What hurts,”
A wave of what I can describe as absolute dread washed over me, drowning me in an instant. I felt my breath leave my body as I swayed, pitching forward. I didn’t catch myself, landing on my side in the grass.
“What the hell –” Talon’s voice faded as I closed my eyes, finding it hard to focus enough to take a breath.
My entire body was on fire, the pain so intense I couldn’t stop myself from crying out. I closed my eyes, gritting my teeth
against the onslaught of pain rippling through my body.
And then I saw her, sitting upright in a hospital bed. She was young, her hair falling loose over her shoulders. She was hurt, her body covered in bruises. I was angry. I was trying not to scare her. Estrella was talking to me, Vicky by her side. I turned to Talon, whose mouth was moving, but his words were distant, an almost silent murmur tickling my ear. So young. Everyone was so, so young.
“Ethan?” Rosalie said, her mouth curved in a soft smile..
I turned to look at her, a girl of barely twenty. My breeder. My mate. I knew it then. I remembered. I remembered I felt it the second I laid eyes on her
“I’m sorry, honey,” she said in a quiet, strained whisper.
“Ethan?” she said, suddenly panicked.
I went to her, the images of Estrella and Vicky disintegrating as | walked through them.
“Ethan!” Talon screamed, shaking me until I opened my eyes.
I looked up at the clouds moving rapidly over our heads. I wasn’t in the hospital anymore. I was laying in the grass in front of the castle.
“No,” I said weakly, willing it to stop. Willing her to obey me. “Stay, I’m coming. I’m coming home,”
I felt her go, taking my heart with her.