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Embers curse prime wolf, p.14
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       Ember's Curse (Prime Wolf), p.14

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  "Shit. After putting up with you all these years? I wonder that myself." The slash of her mouth and the way she crossed her arms as she made that statement failed to impress, her eyes shone with unshed tears and joy, proving that she was just happy to see me safe.

  "Are you two ladies done chirping yet?" Milo piped in from his spot on the concrete floor. He pushed himself up and leaned his back against the bars of his cell. With blood stained hands, he pushed the loose hair from his face and took in several deep breaths. "I must be getting old," he griped. "It used to take twice that many vamps to hold me down." He patted a non-existing belly and said, "Yup, time to hit the gym. Show those punks what this seventy-five year old werewolf is really made of."

  "If you're done, Wolf, mind telling us why you interrupted our pow wow? We're in the middle of trying to figure out how to save your whiny ass," Harper snapped.

  "Don't worry your pretty little head over it. It’s handled," Milo said confidently.

  "What do you mean?" I asked.

  "I sent Mojo to get us help," he answered with a blood-slicked grin. "Tegan should be rounding up a posse as we speak...assuming she is not still mad at me," he said thoughtfully. "But no worries. She loves her uncle Collin, so I'm sure she'll still come."

  "Cut the crap, guy. The last time I checked, your dog isn't Lassie. Not to mention...she is just a dog!" Harper said with clenched teeth. "You’re really no help at all!"

  "Maybe we should listen to him. I did witness the puffy little thing pop out of here somehow, while he was fighting the guards earlier."

  She looked between the two of us speechless. Her hands flew up in the air and then she finally said, "Fine...how's the mutt going to save us? Bark to Tegan in code?"

  "Actually," he said standing, "she can send Tegan messages in another way," he looked at Harper expectantly.

  "Okay. I'll bite...how?" she asked.

  He leaned on the bars and said, "My little Mojo isn't just any ordinary pooch," he gave us both a lazy wink. "She is a fairly powerful witch, one that was cursed to live a hundred years as a dog."

  Chapter 16

  "Once upon a time in a land far, far, away, there lived a looker of a witch. She had a wealth of shock white curls that fell freely over her lightly freckled shoulders," Milo chanted staring at the ceiling in wonder with a dramatic hand over his heart.

  "When I asked for Mojo's story, I wasn't aware that it came in fairytale form," I chuckled.

  "He just can't help it, Em. The dude is a smart ass," Harper said.

  "All right, all right, the short and simple version then," he said, sitting on the lone stool in his cell. It made it harder to see him from where I was standing across the room, but I could still hear him. "Molly Joe is what my little furry companion use to answer to. When I acquired her, I shortened it to Mojo. She had a summer fling with a very powerful Warlock. She wanted to have fun...he wanted more. She left him, he cursed her...the end."

  "I like your friends, Ember," Dane said with an amused stare at Milo. "That funny guy over there the most," he said, pointing across the room.

  Milo stood back up and strutted around the small cell. He smirked at Harper triumphantly and said, "Kid has good taste."

  She shook her head back at him, unfazed. "Every kid loves a good clown show. So don't let it go to your head."

  "Hey," he said with mock offense, "you're just jealous of my greatness." His chest puffed out a little more.

  "I'm just over it all together," she retorted.

  "Can we please get back on track? The sooner we get out of here the better. My body is craving sex and blood...both at the same time preferably."

  "Amazing," I huffed.

  "What?" she looked at me confused.

  "We are being held prisoner by a bunch of vampire zealots and all you can think about is sex?" Incredulous. "Not to mention there is a child here. Show some restraint."

  She shrugged with indifference, "I like it. Not ashamed to admit it." Her eyes traveled over to Dane and they softened. "Never be ashamed to speak your mind. Sometimes the honesty of your own words is all you can count on."

  Dane giggled at Harper.

  He looked down at his bare feet and shyly peeked back at her through his disheveled hair. His amused expression switched to one of sadness. "My mom says to keep quiet around the bad man. I wish I could use my honest words with him."

  Harper’s face fell and she grabbed hold of the bars so tight her knuckles whitened. I bent down and picked up the boy. He tucked into me, his cold nose snuggling up into my neck. "I would like to sleep now," he said, pointing to my bed. I guess he laid claim to it after finally getting some good rest last night.

  "You got it, Buddy boy." I walked him over and laid him down. He pushed his legs under the covers and I pulled them up the rest of the way. With a kiss on his cheek, I walked back over to the side of the cell closest to Harper. She looked like she was about to lose it.

  "We can't leave him in here," she said. “We aren't leaving any of them behind."

  ***

  The boy slept soundly next to me through another night. Tegan never showed up. Milo had paced his cell all night sure that she would. Someone in one of the cells near me gave a throat-clearing cough. "There is no way out of here," the man said. "We all gave up that hope years ago."

  He was the first prisoner who had bothered speaking to us since I'd been thrown in here a couple days ago, besides Dane.

  "They can hear everything you say," another prisoner piped in. This one was female. "I'm surprised you haven't spotted the cameras yet. It's the first thing I noticed," her tone was soft, implying that she was young. Not a child but a younger woman.

  I sat up and searched the cells closest to me. Her voice hadn't been raised when she spoke but I could hear her clearly which indicated that she was near.

  "Here," she said lifting a slim, brown, arm. It was attached to a small body that was lying flat on a cot. She wore a simple blue dress, a bit faded and ripped in parts. Her black hair was braided tightly to her scalp. The woman's eyes were large, maybe a bit too large for her petite face. Those disproportionate eyes were transfixed on the ceiling above her.

  "How long have you been here?" I asked.

  She shrugged her shoulders. Her movement was slow and lazy. "Several months, maybe a year. It's not like I have a calendar."

  Nope…There weren’t any calendars, clocks, or any windows to help mark the passing days and weeks.

  "Were you taken from your pack house?”

  She shook her head. "No. I was taken while working my beat. I was closing in on a perp wanted on a simple possession charge. The last thing I remember, I was chasing him down an alleyway. Right before I caught up to him, I got hit from behind. Then I woke up here," she blinked and then sighed. "It's been all lollipops and gum drops ever since."

  I hadn't noticed before, but a chain was connected to her left ankle. The skin underneath the cuff was red and in some parts bleeding.

  "Why do they have you chained?" I questioned.

  She pushed her legs over the side of the bed. The tips of her toes barely touched the ground as she sat up. She couldn't be more than five feet tall. Being a werewolf gave her extra strength and way above average senses, so I understood how such a tiny thing could still be in law enforcement, but her fellow officers probably stayed up nights wondering how she pulled it off.

  "It seems I have a nasty habit of biting and punching anyone who enters my cell." She shrugged. "It's kept my veins fang free so far, so I'll take the trade off," she replied. She looked down at my unhindered legs and her brow rose.

  "How come you're not chained? I heard about your little freak out on Tyson the other day." She inched toward her bars, the silver cuff slowing her down. "I'm sorry about what happened to your friend. He usually doesn't kill many of us."

  I was thinking about how to respond to her when a thick wave of power rushed through the room. It made my skin crawl and snatched the air from my lungs. I fell hard to the f
loor. I pushed myself back up against the intense power. It's thick fog pressing down so hard that I had to hold the silver bars for leverage. The skin of my palm sizzled but I didn't let go.

  "What the fuck is happening?" Harper hissed and bared her fangs.

  The next few moments passed slowly. My ears felt like they were going to bleed from the ongoing power pulse. But then, just as quickly as it came, the pressure blanket lifted, leaving a tall, spiky haired woman standing in the middle of the hallway. In her arms she held a very satisfied looking Mojo. The tiny dog wiggled free of Tegan’s hold and dashed straight for Milo's cell. When she reached it, she squeezed herself through the bars.

  The woman, who was shackled, leaned heavy on the bars breathing slowly to try to catch her breath. "Holy hell...what just happened?"

  "Hi Ember," Tegan said, giving me a little wave. She looked around the room. When she saw Milo, she scowled. "If it wasn't for Mojo, I'd leave you to stew in here," she said to him.

  "I missed you too, Pip squeak," he said, blowing her a kiss.

  "I asked you not to call me that." She pulled her gaze from him and looked at me. "Where's Collin? I don't see him."

  I closed my eyes and ran a shaky hand over my face. My body was still amped up from the power surge and I had a feeling that if I wanted to, silver or no silver, I could probably shift with the extra boost from the residual juice.

  "They are holding him in a separate area. I have no idea where, but I can feel that he's close."

  The temperature in the room rose. Heat infused my pores and beads of sweat formed on my forehead. Tegan’s eyes widened. "Incoming," she said, casting a worried glance across the room.

  "I see a fellow witch has come a calling," said a tall, average looking woman. She walked out of the shadowed stairway with a smile. Her hands were stuffed into the front pockets of her jeans and she rocked to a stop several feet away from us. Her head cocked to the side and a studied look replaced the smile she wore. "You're a long ways from home, Water Witch," she said, not amused. "If you leave now, I will let you live."

  Tegan chuckled. "I'm not going anywhere. Not without my uncle and his friends. Sorry." she shrugged.

  "That's unfortunate," Margo placed a hand, palm out, arm extended in front of her. "Maybe this will convince you."

  Fire erupted from Margo's hand. It sailed across the room right toward Tegan. Tegan didn't so much as flinch as she held up her own hand in retaliation. Water cascaded from her palm and it collided with the other witch’s fire before it could even get near enough to touch her. A fog of steam rolled out from where their magic collided, making it hard for me to see through it to the two battling witches. Arcs of fire and water exploded all around us. The floor became slippery from the unspent water. Everyone jumped up onto their cots when the same boiling liquid began to collect and rise from the ground.

  "Ember, you okay?" Harper shouted over the booming battle.

  "Yes. Can you see Tegan?" I asked her. The steam had gotten so thick that I couldn't see more than a few inches in front of me.

  "I can't see shit through this fog," she answered.

  A small hand slipped into mine and I could hear Dane’s quick breathing. "I'm scared," he said, holding me tight. "It's okay. I'm here," I said, trying to console the frightened child.

  Then suddenly, the ruckus stopped. The noise, the rising of boiling water, even the bellows of steam lessened. Everything went silent.

  "Are we dead?" Milo asked after a few tense seconds.

  "No, we're not dead, you idiot. Can't you keep your mouth shut for two seconds?" Harper admonished.

  Everyone kept still while the steam dissipated and the room came more and more into view. When I could finally see, I jumped from the cot, my bare feet splashing in the now cold water. Tegan stood drenched in the same spot she was in when the fight started. Her shoulders and head where cast down and her arms hung loose at her side.

  "Is the bitch dead?" she asked.

  I looked over where Margo had been. She wasn't standing anymore. Instead, the Fire Witch was face down in a puddle of water, not moving. I watched her for a little while longer to determine if she was breathing, but not even one bubble breached the surface of the shallow water that covered her face.

  "Yeah," I said soberly, "she's dead."

  "Good," she said walking over to my cell. She placed her hand over the lock and began chanting under her breath. She had to stop a couple times and gulp in some air. The energy she used against Margo had taken a lot out of her. "The wards are broken, now that the witch who cast them is dead. So if any of you are vampires, you should easily be able to break through the bars."

  She pulled on my cell door and moved aside. "Now let's go find Collin." I looked at her pale face and nodded. "Yes. Let’s do that."

  Chapter 17

  I tried not to notice how pale Tegan was, but it couldn't be helped. I was worried. She was moving from cell to cell opening up the doors, picking all the locks with her magic.

  "Tegan," I called out. "You've done enough. It's time to rest."

  She rubbed her cheek, smearing grime from the bars she was touching, across her face. The dirt and her gaunt pallor made her look tired and fragile.

  "There are only a couple locks left to spell. I can manage," she said, walking over to the next one. I reached out and stayed her hand by gently grabbing her arm.

  "Harper? Can you come open these remaining cells?" I asked.

  Harper handed off one of the weaker wolfs that she was helping carry, to Milo.

  "Sure," she said, getting right to it.

  Dane yanked on my sheet and held up a dented tin cup. "She looks thirsty," he said, handing it to me. I took it and patted his head. "Thanks, Dane."

  "I can't help but wonder where the guards are," I said a bit curious. "You would think that with all the noise we have been making, they'd come running."

  Tegan managed to lift her lips into a sly grin. "I spun a Sleeping Beauty spell on the whole house. Mojo was able to give me a pretty good idea of where you guys were being held, so I just spelled around you." Her gaze swept over to the witch lying dead under the stone archway. "She must have fashioned a charm to protect herself against witchcraft." Tegan sloshed through the water and made her way over to the prone witch.

  When she reached her side, she pushed the dead body over. "These charms are a bitch to make," she explained while yanking the wooden disk that hung from Margo's neck, off her. There were strange markings carved into it. The charm was actually very beautiful. "It would be a shame to let all that hard work go to waste." Tegan tied the charm around her own neck and walked back over. "The sleeping spell isn't going to last much longer so we have to find Collin before it wears off."

  We wandered through the underground chambers, our footsteps echoing on the grey slate floor as we opened every door we stumbled upon. Harper and Milo had stayed behind to evacuate the prisoners before the Gatherers woke up. Nobody knew where Brady and Nathan were. I could only hope that they believed Tommy when he told them that Collin and I had taken off after speaking with him. It would make things much easier, and give me a couple things less to worry about, if I knew for certain they were okay.

  The cells where we had been kept in were only a small portion of what turned out to be a very large compound. Tommy or his father had had bedrooms built down here, with updated fixtures and decor. The rooms even had their own en-suite bathrooms, decked out with jet soaking tubs and marble flooring. Tyson and his followers lived like kings down here.

  We had just started to search a rather spacious gourmet kitchen for any hidden passageways, when we ran into some of the guards. They were still fast asleep. Some of them sprawled out on the concrete floor while others were hunched over a long dining room table. There was a bottle of blood knocked over next to one of them. It dripped over the edge and formed a puddle on the ground. My stomach growled and my teeth throbbed for a taste. I sucked in a few good breaths in hopes of easing the tension that rolled through
me.

  Tegan kept her blue gaze on her surroundings. She was pretty anxious to find Collin and get the hell out of here.

  I tried to reach out and touch the mind of my true love, but still, nothing. Even if he had finally woken up from the drugs given to him, Tegan’s spell would have just knocked him right back out. Even though I couldn't hear him, I could feel him. I jerked toward the doorway we just entered. The sudden movement was instinctual. A soft yellow line of light shot out from my stomach area and kept going, in a straight line, down the hall. I felt an overwhelming need to follow it. My feet moved over the floor carrying me in that direction. I stopped myself from blindly following it, even though everything inside me screamed to do the opposite.

  "What's wrong with you?" Tegan asked. "You look...funny."

  "I don't know...there's a light…" I said, running my hand through it, "…here. It's coming from my stomach."

  Tegan held her hand over my stomach. She didn't touch me, just hovered above it.

  "It feels like earthen magic," she said after a few seconds. She closed her eyes and her face scrunched up in concentration. "It’s animalistic in nature. And strong, very old magic....Ouch!" Tegan snatched her hand back. She looked at me with wide eyes. "She bit me."

  "Who bit you?" I asked confused.

  She paced back and forth, holding her hand against her chest, still thinking. Then she must have come up with something, because she stopped in her tracks and gave me a knowing smile. "It's your wolf. And I'm almost certain she's trying to lead us to her mate, and since they are one and the same, Collin."

  That was all I needed to hear, so without another moment wasted, I followed the line of magic my wolf produced. Its yellow glow beamed brighter the longer I followed it. We passed several doors and turned a few corners before the light shot right through a closed door. The door was made out of a mixture of steel, iron and silver. I could smell the silver. It left a burnt taste in the back of my throat. Tegan paused and tilted her head. She repeated the same process of hovering her hand over the door, just like she had done on me.

 
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