NINETEEN*

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Nineteen

My eyes felt like they were glued together when I finally came to from my comatose state of being. It took a few tried, I had even tried to rub my eyes, but I didn't really have any feeling in my arms at that moment, but I was finally to blink my eyes open and take in my surroundings.

I was sitting by the stream, my one arm stretched out towards a blazing fire a few feet away. To my right a giant, two meter tall green flower bud protruded from the ground.

"Good," someone said, and for a second I thought that it was the flower bud, because at that moment it kind of shifted. The faintest shade of pink had begun to spread from the bottom of the bud. "You're awake."

Suddenly a man stepped around the bud and sat down beside the fire. He held a glass cup in his hand full of a clear substance that I guess must have been water. That was when I realised how course my throat had become and how the inside of my mouth was. My tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth and my teeth were pressed firmly against my lips.

Something painful began to shift inside of my head, it felt almost like something was trying to get out. Escape. It robbed my breath and tears sprung in my eyes. It hurt so much, I wanted to let it free so that I wouldn't have to suffer through it anymore, but something in my gut told me that it was a bad idea. Whatever it was it needed to be detained, but damn it hurt like a mother.

The man slowly crawled towards me, fear spiked my system and I wanted to run away from him but I couldn't move. I winced when I felt his uncomfortably warm hands pull me into his lap and rest my head on his broad shoulder.

I began to struggle when he brought the cup up to my lips. I didn't want it, I didn't know what he had put in it. Eventually my efforts died away when my breath started to come out as short gasps. As he brought the cup up to my lips I realised that I didn't care if I was about to die. At least that would stop the pounding in my head.

As the liquid slipped down my throat I felt the pressure in my head explode and bright lights splashed across my vision. A burning sensation shredded through my body, it felt like I was being burned from the inside and it was slowly trying to make its way out.

Images rushed through my head and memories began to unfold. I jumped off Austin's lap and ran towards the bud that contained my best friend. I placed my palm on the surface and sighed in relief when I felt the steady pulse under my hand.

"Brooke?" Austin's voice said behind me. I turned around and silently signalled with my head for him to come close. He walked up beside me and I took his hand and placed it beside mine. His eyes widened and jerked his hand back. "What is that?"

I smiled sadly at him and looked back down at the lotus bud. "It's her heartbeat," I whispered.

Suddenly it felt as though someone was stabbing five knives into my back simultaneously. I fell to my knees, a cry of pain lodged in my throat. He was beside me in an instant but I was blinded by tears. But it was gone just as soon as it had come about.

My breath came out jagged and short, my arms were wrapped around my chest and I felt like I was about to throw up. With a deep breath I fell to my side and tried to get my lungs to expand. Whatever that had been, I hoped that it never happened again.

Quickly I got on my knees, leaning back so that my arms were supporting my weight behind me and stared up at the sky. That bud wasn't going to keep her safe forever and when she got out there was no way her wolf was going to allow her hide her smell. There had to be another way, a way that could keep the rogues away from here long enough for Talia to recover and the packs to train some more.

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