“No, wait,” I said, hating that they were talking about me as though I wasn’t even there. “I just need time to understand. How can this be possible? How can you even exist?”

“Is it so hard to believe that such a thing is possible when there are so many other miracles that occur every day? Nobody knows for certain why we have been given this gift, it is just the way things are. But you have seen it for your own eyes. There is no use in disbelieving. Only acceptance can set you free.”

“And my father?”

“His name was Jake. He was one of the best of us. He was our leader for a time. He met your mother, but the Hunters got to him before anything could happen. They knew he was seeing someone, and they wanted to know because his offspring would be desirable, either a powerful male wolf or a pure female carrying the wolf gene. There has always been a tradition where the females carry the wolf heritage. We believe it’s from Mother Moon. Your father did not tell them who your mother was, so none of us knew, but then at the bar when you started singing I

knew that it could be no other. In your song you carry the legacy of the wolves, and after we met you it was clear. You are his child. You can be our future. Your place is here with us. It is what he would have wanted.”

It was so much for me to take in. I had no idea how I was supposed to process it all. I had never known anything of my father, and now I was suddenly being given so much information it was difficult for me to handle.

Jack leaned down. His breath was warm and sweet. “I know you do not understand, but we must take you back. Your place is with us. The future of our pack relies on you,” he said. I was so numb that I could do nothing but nod in reply and be led up by his hand. We walked back to the clubhouse and it didn’t seem to take nearly as long as it had taken me to flee, but perhaps that was because my mind whirled at a million miles an hour, struggling to understand my place in the world and how everything fit together.

*

We were back in the small room where I had started the day with Matt. Jack pointed to a picture on the wall.

“That’s him,” he said. I peered at the faded photograph, at the man who was purportedly my father. He was tall and broad-shouldered. He had a leather jacket on and a round helmet upon his head. A handlebar moustache was thick, and he certainly seemed the type Mom would go for. He smiled widely and his eyes twinkled with delight. Surrounding him were the other members of the MC, or the pack, looking so happy as though nothing could harm them. My gaze drifted to the next photo, one in which he was absent. The smiles were gone from the faces and there were fewer people. Clouds gathered in the distance as though a great storm was rising.

“Mom never told me…”

“She didn’t know. He wouldn’t have told her. I’m sure he intended to, but the Hunters got to him,” Jack said, leaning against the table with his arms folded across his chest and he looked somber.

“What beef do they have with you?” I asked.

“They’re just jealous. They think they’re stronger, so they want to take us out. They’re younger, arrogant, and they think they’re deserving of the purer bloodline. They’d stop at nothing to get you. That’s why I had to keep you like that, so they couldn’t get to you.”

“You could have told me,” I pouted.

“Would you have believed me? I can see it in your eyes that you barely believe it now. Even after you’ve seen things for yourself, you still struggle. What use would it have been for me to tell you all of this?”

I had nothing to say to that. A cold shiver ran down my spine as I thought on his words and about the other world that existed between these packs, a world that had been hidden from me. I was the first to admit that there was much about the world I didn’t know, but this was almost too much to believe. Yet what alternative did I have? I had seen them shift with my own eyes, and everything they said made sense. When I looked at the picture of my father I saw myself in his eyes. I could almost feel a spiritual connection to him…but how could I open my heart and mind to this when it seemed so alien and distant?

“Where do we go from here?” I asked softly.

“We’ll keep you safe. Matt has a plan. Something to help you understand properly. Try not to hit him around the head this time. I’m sure it was an accident before,” Jack snapped as he marched out of the room. Matt came in swiftly after him and looked reserved. Pangs of guilt stabbed at my heart, even though I felt justified in what I did. But Matt had been the only one to be kind to me.

“Have you come to terms with everything Jack told you?” Matt asked.

“Not quite. It’s a lot to take in. Matt I’m…I’m sorry about before. Surely you can understand why I did what I did? It wasn’t personal. I just needed to try. What you’ve done to me is wrong, even if what Jack said is right and that you were doing this to protect me. You should have told me all of this from the beginning.”

“Jack said it wouldn’t have made any difference. He said that with patience you would come around, and we’re used to trusting his judgment around here. I thought we should tell you and I hoped that you’d be patient enough to understand. I guess I kind of hoped that being here would spark something inside you considering you’re Jake’s daughter, but I think that was too much to hope for. I’ve come up with something that might help you though.”

“What is it?” I asked curiously, kind of intrigued to know how I might be able to learn more about my past and understand everything that was being told to me from a trusted source, without having to just take Jack’s word on everything. While he clearly believed what he was saying I didn’t know how I could trust him, given everything that had happened so far. How could I give him my trust when he had taken me from my life without any concern for my wishes? And he didn’t trust me enough to tell me the truth…maybe he was correct in that respect considering that I still couldn’t comprehend the truth of the matter even though I had seen it with my own eyes.

My word…the image of the beasts turning into men made me wonder if I had always been crazy. It was so unreal, and yet I had seen it with my own eyes. I had heard their growls turn into words. I had seen the fur recede into their bodies and be left with flesh. I had witnessed the magic swirling around them, a deep part of this world that I had never been aware of before. How was anyone supposed to understand this kind of thing? I struggled to know where to turn from here. I needed some kind of guidance. I clearly couldn’t escape, and even if I did escape I had no idea how I would be able to leave this behind. How could I go through life when knowing that these secrets were held in the world? No, I had to stay here and try to figure this out. If there was a mystery to the world, then I was going to get to the bottom of it and, in doing so, maybe I would unravel the mystery of my father as well.

“Actually it’s something that I was going to explain to you before you hit me,” Matt said. There was an undercurrent of tension to his voice.

“I’m sorry about that, I…” I stammered out again.

“You have to understand Trish; there are people here who aren’t against you. I know it might not seem like it, but there are those of us who genuinely care.”

“Like Buck?” I challenged. Matt smiled.

“Buck is Buck,” he said. “I mean people like me. I never wanted to hurt you like this and I wish we could have been straight with you from the beginning, but surely you can understand why we had to do what we did. I want you to try and think of things from our perspective, and maybe this will help with that.” He pulled out a dark liquid. It was as though he had distilled the essence of night and poured it into a glass. I instantly shuddered and reeled back at the sight of it, some instinctive part of me told me that it wasn’t right. From the look on Matt’s face I could tell that was an accurate assumption.

“What is this?” I asked, with caution in my voice.


Tags: Lilly Wilder Paranormal
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