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Chapter 27: Betrayal

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Rowan's blood dries on my skin, the thinnest splatters cracking and the strips of it clumping my hair. I hold myself against the front door as the house continues to cool. Trying to sort through my thoughts is like picking smoking hunks of wood out of a bonfire, so I let the chaos behind my eyes rage on—it has to die out sometime.

My hairs stand on end, a reaction that consumes my arms, crawling up from my wrists. One realization claws its way out of my inner hurricane: the window is shattered, and I'm exposed.

I heave myself upright and stagger to the couch where Maude left the duvet from upstairs. My arms and legs are jelly as I lift the blanket over myself to cover my nudity; after running so hard, the blanket feels like it's stuffed with lead.


Just as I part my lips to call her name in the house which seems in every way empty, the loudening beat of wolf paws outside strikes me like a hot poker. I grasp the staircase railing and haul myself as fast as possible up every step until I'm running into the bedroom. I push my shoulder into the doors to shut them, but I know if it's one of Rowan's wolves still prowling, there's only a matter of time before I'm found.

Just as I consider locking myself in the bathroom or somehow climbing out of a window, I hear Theo's voice.


His footsteps are already drumming up the stairs when I swing one of the doors back open. He ascends wearing only a pair of shorts while the rest of him is smeared with blood and dirt—dredged in purpling bruises and enflamed cuts. If I thought his state after the previous attacks was startling, I should be falling unconscious at the look of him now.

He strides to me and cups my cheeks, and his face washes over with swift solace as though he's relieved I'm not dead cold. He rams me into his blood-stained chest and coils around me, fisting my blanket and grasping my skin.

He says, "Rowan's Beta is dead."

Something lodges in my throat. Lily—she must feel it—the bond wrenching out of her. The fire in my thoughts flares and burns hotter.

Theo looks at me, concerned, and releases me to go into the bathroom. I don't move while he's rummaging in there, not even to scratch the dried blood now itching around my nose.

One of the sinks runs, and then he emerges with a washcloth. With an arm around my back, he guides me to the bed. I sit, and he swipes the damp cloth gently at the blood on my face.

"I need her here," I say, my voice gravelly.

Theo's eyes dance around my face as he focuses on cleaning me. As though he's been procrastinating the question, he asks, "What did Rowan do?"

I study Theo's face. I think he's apprehensive of my answer.

I say, "He broke into the house. Maude and I tried to hide, but he found us and took me with him. He said we were going to the south border and that my family was waiting for me."

"And?" Theo asks, squeezing the reddening cloth.

"And then you came. Alpha Rowan changed when he saw you, and he tried to bite me—tried to kill me—you saw."

Theo exhales. "You did good shifting when you did, okay?"

I nod.

"When he saw me, he knew it was over. Killing...you...was the last thing he could do you hurt me."

"That," I helplessly pause, not expecting to nearly die tonight, "makes sense."

Theo wipes at the blood from my neck, upper chest, and shoulders.

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