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Unholy Bonds

by T.S. Watkins 2 months ago in Fantasy
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Chapter Eleven

I hunched over the booklet self-consciously, the night replaying endlessly in my mind. Liam is a shapeshifter, they all are. I glanced over at Melissa; she was staring blankly at the page in front of her listlessly writing answers. Liam was prowling across in front of the class watching the students work. Who shot Darren? The bloody scene flashed in front of my eyes and I flinched, dropping my pencil. Liam looked up sharply as I slung my bag over my shoulder and marched out of the class. I need time to think. The mark on my hand burned sharply as I strode out of the room, clenching my hand into a fist I strode quickly to The Cafe and slid into a booth.

“Can I take your order?” it was Aimie, she was looking at my dazed expression with a frown, “Are you okay?” she asked hesitantly.

I shook my head stiffly, “Coffee is fine,” my voice sounded weaker than I thought it would. She ambled away slowly, shooting me a confused glance.

A sharp clatter startled me and I jumped as a folder landed sharply on the table in front of me, “You okay Dusty?” It was Micah. He slid into the booth across from me and smiled gently.

“I’m fine,” I mumbled, avoiding his gaze, ``No you're not! Groaning, I pinched the bridge of my nose, squeezing my eyes shut, trying to order the chaos in my mind.

“Hey what’s that?” his quiet query made my eyes snap open; he swiftly reached across the table and grabbed my hand. Flipping it over so the mark was fully visible in the dim lighting of the cafe.

“Nothing,” I said quickly, yanking my hand away and folding it in my lap. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped.

“You’re a bride.” the words tumbled out of his mouth and I looked up at him in shock. Bride? Liam said I was a mate! What the hell is going on here? He got a sober expression on his face, “Liam hasn’t told you anything about it has he?”

I shook my head swiftly, my full attention focused on him now, “What is a bride? Liam said that I was a mate, what does this mark have to do with anything?” he scratched his head uncomfortably and looked away, not answering me, “Micah.”

He turned to me instantly, “Lower your voice!” he hissed, his golden eyes looked almost dangerous, “I knew there was something different about you.” I felt the blood leave my face almost instantly when he spoke again, “You’re in danger now, that mark will lead them right to you.”

“That’s enough Micah,” Liam pushed him farther into the booth and sat down across from me, “we can talk about this later.” placing a small stack of booklets from the final on the table he scowled at Micah.

“You’re going to get her killed.” Micah growled back, his brow furrowing into a fierce scowl, “You need to tell her now.”

“We’re in public,” Liam said through gritted teeth as Aimie finally came back with my coffee. He shook his head at her when she hopefully asked for his order.

“It doesn’t matter, they could be here already.” Micah snapped, drawing every pair of eyes in the dim room to him. Silence fell briefly over the cafe.

Liam gathered up the booklets with a sigh and threw a bill on the table to cover my coffee, grabbing my wrist he turned to walk from the cafe, “Call Darren, you come too.” he shot over his shoulder at Micah as he pulled me out into the brisk air.

A cold speck hit my cheek, then another as he pulled me across the campus, “Where are we going?” I finally managed to say in a small voice. It was snowing, since when does it snow in October? I stumbled along behind him as he marched across the campus silently.

After a brief stop at his car to drop off the booklets he turned and pulled me towards the woods, I dug in my heels bringing us both to a sudden halt. He turned to me looking surprised.

“I said where are we going!” I put more force into my words and he ran his hand through his hair roughly.

“All of us need to be there for you to understand what is going on.” he said quietly, “Remember where you met me in the woods? That’s where we are going.”

“But Liam.” he cut off my sharp protest with a scowl and I clammed up. Walking along behind him obediently.

Ducking into the woods he wove swiftly through the trees, finally, the clearing came into view and he sat me on a rock looking around impatiently. After several minutes I heard panting breaths and the newly fallen snow crunching under running footsteps. Two wolves came into view weaving through the trees, that’s Darren and Micah. Answering my thoughts, they seamlessly shifted right in front of us skidding to a halt a few feet away.

Darren was gazing at me wide-eyed, apparently, Micah had filled him in, “Did Micah tell you?” Liam asked swiftly, they both nodded in unison, “Okay, here we go.” he turned to me with a guarded expression, “Dusty, you’re a shifter bride.” my jaw dropped.

“What is that?” I said weakly, clenching my hands so tight against the cold that I felt my nails bite into my palms.

“Once every few years or so a girl is born,” Liam started quietly, “One that is meant to be the bride of a shifter, it’s a rare blood trait. It causes a bond, a very strong bond. The last bride was killed before the ceremony.” Was it Abigail? The thought ran through my head before I could stop it.

“What happened to her?” I asked thoughtlessly, okay this just keeps getting weirder. I swallowed dryly as they looked at each other cautiously, Liam continued.

“Dusty we’re being hunted to extinction,” he said and took a deep breath ignoring my question as he continued, “By vampires and hunters…” the word made the earth drop out from under my feet. Vampires are real...they exist...and they’re hunting Liam and his family. Vampires.

I felt the blood drain from my face, already guessing the answer I asked anyway, “What does this have to do with me?” The question felt sour on my tongue.

“A shifter bride is meant to keep the bloodline going, she is the only human capable of carrying the bloodline trait.” he said, “The last one chosen was killed and the gene jumped to you.”

“But what about your mom? Isn’t she a bride?” I said weakly, my head was feeling faint. Liam frowned and raised a brow.

“How old do you think our mother is Dusty?” The sudden topic change surprised me and I gave him a puzzled look.

“She looks like she’s in her late forties, give or take.” I said cautiously, “Why are you asking me that?”

“Our mother is nearing her one-hundredth birthday,” Darren said quietly and I nearly fell off the rock.

“How is that even possible!” I was gaping at them as they exchanged a grave look, “Are shifters immortal? Do they make their brides immortal?” questions were swirling around my mind making me dizzy.

“Not immortal,” Liam said crouching down and sitting back on his heels, “We have very long lives, we age slower than humans do.”

“But the brides are human right?” I choked, clasping my hand over my hammering heart, “What do you do to them?”

“They are human, yes, until their mate marks them.” he said glumly, “When she is marked by him, she isn’t fully human anymore. She can’t change like we do, but she has a very long life.”

“Marks her? How?” I was dumbfounded, “What if she doesn’t accept the mark?”

“Technically the bride is bonded to one of the members of the pack, it’s a hierarchy, at least in our tribe it is. The alpha is first, then once he has a partner, the Beta gets a partner and it moves down from there,” Liam said quietly, shooting a look at Darren, “But the Alpha can also choose another shifter to be her partner if hers dies, there isn’t anything that the pack can do about his choice.” he frowned, “Normally the bride won’t refuse, once she has contact with her partner. It’s a soul bond so she won’t be able to survive apart from him for long once the initial bond happens and because of the last bride dying our Alpha doesn’t have a bride anymore.”

“Liam, who is the alpha…” the sinking feeling in my gut told me it wasn’t him, he frowned and stood up backing away.

“It’s Darren,” he said quietly and turned away, without another word he shifted and disappeared into the woods.

I looked between Darren and Micah, a war of emotions spinning dangerously in my mind. But I’ve been in contact with Darren, I don’t feel any different. I gave him a sidelong glance. He still looked haggard from the wound, but he seemed to be better. Both of them were staring after Liam with mixed expressions of pity and understanding.

Micah turned back to me, “You still look confused,” he said quietly, “Just so you know it has to be after you get that mark, and it has to be more than a touch, more like real physical contact he has to be close to your heart.” Darren turned and gave me a guarded stare.

I looked back at him, but I like Liam, why do I have to be bonded to Darren? Micah and Darren both held out their hands displaying the small marks on their hands. They were almost identical to mine, except Darren’s mark was more elaborate. A trail of black wound around his wrist like thorns, it looked almost like a tribal tattoo. I slowly slid off the rock and sank to my knees in the snow.

“Are you okay Dusty?” Micah crouched down next to me, concern etched on his face, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.” I stared blankly at the snow as the cold crept into my skin, “We got our marks last night, we didn’t know it was you. I’m really sorry”

“Why me?” I said quietly before I knew it tears pooled in my eyes, “I actually like Liam, I don’t want to leave him.” I heard a sigh and looked up. Darren turned and shifted disappearing into the woods after Liam.

“Without you we could die Dusty.” Micah straightened and looked after his brothers, reaching down he pulled me to my feet and brushed away my tears, “Darren isn’t a bad guy, just don’t sweat it. We’ll sort this all out I promise.” I glanced up at his steady golden gaze and a soothing warmth spread through me, relaxing me.

Taking my arm he led me through the trees, bringing me back out to the campus grounds. With an encouraging smile, he hugged me quickly and turned disappearing back into the trees. I stood staring after him until the cold biting into my thin shirt forced me to move. I’m a bride, Darren’s bride...vampires are trying to kill them. I can’t be with Liam...tears rolled down my face as I trudged slowly through the thickening snow. I glanced out at the parking lot; their cars were still there. Is Liam, okay? Did I hurt Darren’s feelings?

“Damn it!” I was suddenly furious, turning I strode quickly back into the woods. There’s no way I’m just going to let this all go and walk away like an obedient child! I sloshed angrily through the snow, not caring when it spilled over the tops of my shoes.

I had scarcely gotten five feet into the woods when a freezing cold hand clamped over my face and a weight hit me from behind knocking me face-first into the snow.

“Well well what do we have here?” a sultry voice whispered close to my ear and I seized in fright, sharpened nails bit into my face as whoever it was flipped me over onto my back. It was a stunningly beautiful man, his hand felt like porcelain against my face smooth and hard as stone. I could only stare up into his deep burgundy eyes in shock. He grinned, showing off perfect white teeth, I shivered when I saw the fangs. Vampire!

He sat astride my chest in the snow holding me down, “Found you little bitch.” His harsh sneer chilled me to the bone. I immediately started struggling to try to push him off, “Feisty one aren’t you,” he turned my head sharply to the side oblivious to my struggles, exposing my neck and leaning over to breathe in my scent deeply, his nose skimming across my skin, “mouthwatering.”

I heard a thunderous snarl and an enormous black shape bowled into him from the side knocking him clear of me. They flew across the snow in a tangle of black and white. I scampered backward and suddenly warm hands grasped my shoulders pulling me to my feet, I looked up into Liam’s pale face and then back across at the wolf. I heard a sharp yelp and the wolf flew several feet landing in a heap against a tree. It jumped to its feet instantly and lowered its head growling at the vampire. That’s Darren! His burning blue eyes were focused on the vampire as he limped back towards him, No! He’s still hurt!

“Let’s go!” Liam pulled me roughly back towards the tree line trying to get me out of the woods, “He can handle it, get out of here before you get killed!” he shoved me roughly out of the trees and turned to go back to the fight, shifting as he sprinted away.

Suddenly someone was tugging my arm sharply, “Come on Dusty move!” Micah’s clear sharp command unfroze my limbs and I stumbled after him as he drug me across the grounds swiftly.

I heard a crash and looked back in shock as I saw a tree fall in the woods, “They’re going to get killed!” yanking my hand free I turned back to the woods, if I go back, that thing will kill me! But if I don’t it’s going to kill them! The indecision warred in my mind.

“They can handle it, it’s only one!” Micah snapped, grabbing my arm again and tugging me across the campus, he swiftly pulled me to the parking lot and opened the door of his car, “Get in, the flat is safe.”

“Are you insane?” I looked around at the white expanse, “The roads are icy, you can’t drive in this!” he sighed and shoved me in.

“Buckle up buttercup and hold on tight.” he said and slammed the door, sliding across the hood he yanked open his own door and sank into the driver's seat quickly, “I said buckle up!” he snapped and I quickly obeyed. The engine growled to life and he accelerated swiftly. I clung to the seat tightly as the car slid dangerously out of the lot.

Micah slammed the car into gear and skillfully maneuvered the fishtailing car down the icy road. I felt sick as the car weaved drunkenly under me. He shifted quickly, accelerating across the thin sheet of black ice. The trees blurred by making me feel even more nauseous. If he hits something we’re going to die! I squeezed my eyes shut and held on for dear life. The car slid sideways and came to a stop, I opened my eyes in alarm and looked around. I know we aren’t there yet! The vampire from before was crouched in the center of the road ahead. Oh no, what happened to Darren and Liam? Before I could blink the creature was standing outside the door. Micah quickly hit the gas and sped away from it. I saw a wolf tackle the vampire in the rearview mirror. It’s a good thing we’re on backroads, this would have people panicking!

“When we get to the flat, go straight inside, understand?” Micah’s hard voice brought me around, “They can’t get in the house but they can get in the yard.” I nodded quickly.

“Wait, what about you?” I said shakily, “I thought you said they could take care of that thing, are they okay?” he shot a glance at me.

“I can hear them you know,” he said, releasing the shifter to tap his temple, “They’re fine, this one is pretty fast.”

“You’re telepathic too?” I squeaked in disbelief, he nodded once keeping his attention on the road.

“Only to pack members,” he said briefly, “Look we’re pulling up now, get out and don't look back. The door is unlocked.” The car slid sideways again as he parked haphazardly against the walkway leading to the flat.

He leaped out and slammed the door behind him, immediately shifting, his claws digging into the ice as he raced back down the drive. I quickly jumped out of the car and sprinted up the walkway, ducking through the door I sank against the wall gasping for breath. Please let them be okay. I repeated the words in my mind like a mantra.

“Dusty?” Melissa’s timid voice broke through my horror and I looked up quickly, why is she here? “Jesus, Dusty are you okay?” she quickly crossed the hallway and sank to her knees beside me.

“V-vampire.” I panted out between gasping breaths and she turned a sickly white, “Chasing me, guys, trying to kill it.”

“Oh my god!” her hands flew over her mouth, jumping up she pulled me to my feet and led me to the den, “Are they okay? Where is Micah?” I jerked my head towards the door and she bit her lip.

Sitting beside me she hugged me close, “You’re freezing Dusty!” jumping back up she ran back into the hallway and came back after a few minutes with a thick blanket. Wrapping it around my shoulders she pulled me closer to the crackling fire and silently rubbed my shoulders as I sat there numbly staring at the dancing flames.

It was dark outside when I glanced at the window. Where are they? As if in answer to my question the glass door in the kitchen burst open and Melissa jumped from where she had dozed off against my side. They came through the doorway into the den looking like hell. Melissa immediately went to Micah making sure he was alright. Liam quietly strode past me where I was kneeling on the floor and stood near the fire, melting the snow on his clothes. I glanced up at his stiff back and a well of sadness pierced me. He’s ignoring me now. Pushing myself to my feet I backed away from him and sat down on the sectional facing away from him. Darren sank into an armchair across from me, wincing as he jostled his ribs.

“Are you okay?” the words leaped unbidden to my lips and I saw Liam stiffen out of the corner of my eye.

Darren glanced at Liam then back at me, “I’m fine,” he said and stood up quickly, limping back into the kitchen. Alone on the sectional, I felt tears well in my eyes.

Why me! I screamed internally again, obviously, Liam wasn’t going to come near me again because I didn’t belong to him. Sighing I curled into the blanket and sank back into the cushions. I heard Micah say something to Melissa behind me and suddenly he jumped over the back of the couch landing with a thud beside me.

“It’s alright, don’t cry.” I saw Liam turn towards us when Micah spoke, he reached out and brushed the tears away as Melissa came around to sit beside him, “That thing is dead, you’re safe. Those two will get over themselves too.” he scowled at Liam and Darren who had stuck his head back into the den looking at my tears in confusion.

I shoved Micah’s hand away and jumped to my feet dropping the blanket, “I didn’t ask for any of this!” I snapped at both of them and their jaws dropped. Storming out of the den I ran up the stairs and out the door onto the balcony wrapping around the house. Sinking to my knees on the cold wood I huddled against the banister. The tears bit my cheeks in the cold as they rushed down my face. What am I supposed to do now? The chilling wind wrapped around me like a scarf making me shiver. The dark yard stretched out below me, silent except for the occasional rustle from the breeze blowing through the trees lining the yard. I heard a heated argument going on below me but I didn’t care. Wrapping my arms around my knees I laid my chin on top of my arms and stared blankly at the yard blocking out the argument. Suddenly the door swung open and Liam was standing there, looking down at me soberly. Sinking down beside me he wrapped a warming arm around my shoulder and tucked my head under his chin.

“I’m sorry Dusty,” he said quietly, I was silent listening to his heart thudding against my ear, “I can’t fix this.” I heard him sigh, “I’ll leave you alone until Darren makes up his mind, if this doesn’t happen our bloodline might die out. But if it does…” he trailed off and I heard his heartbeat pick up, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” his arm tightened around my shoulders.

I tilted my head back looking up at his pained expression, “I really like you Liam.” the words broke something inside of me and I choked, “I don’t want to leave you.”

“I know,” the words sounded strained, his mouth twisted into a grimace, “but this is out of my hands now, I can’t go against him.” he leaned over and kissed my cheek softly, “This is my fault, I had no right chasing after you in the first place.” I heard him sigh again, “I’m sorry Dusty.” letting me go he stood up and brushed off his pants, “Come back in before you get sick.” offering me his hand he fell silent.

I looked blankly at his hand and brushed it away, “I’ll be fine here,” I said quietly and turned back to look across the yard. I heard him shift uncomfortably, hesitating, before he turned and silently walked back into the house, leaving me on the balcony.

A few minutes later the door opened again and Melissa crept out onto the balcony, “Dusty?” I looked up at her and she immediately sank down beside me hugging me tightly, “They told me what was wrong, I’m so sorry!” she squeezed me.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do Missy.” I said the tears turning into sobs, “I don’t want to lose Liam.”

“Well don’t think of it as losing him,” she said trying to lighten my mood, “He’s still going to be there.”

“But I can’t be with him, Missy!” I snapped, making her jump, “If I don’t choose Darren his whole bloodline could die out. I don’t want them to die, they don’t deserve that!” biting down on my lip I tasted blood but I didn’t care, “But if I do choose Darren it’s going to hurt Liam.” she fell silent, mulling over my words.

“I know you love him Dusty, they said this was up to you.” she said quietly, her mouth pulling down in a sullen frown, “I think Liam will forgive you if you can save his pack.” her eyes tightened, “I know you’ll choose what you think is right.” squeezing me one last time she stood up, “I’m guessing you need time to think?” I nodded silently, still frowning she turned away and carefully made her way back across the icy deck and back into the house.

What am I going to do? If I choose Darren, Liam said I won’t be able to live without him. But does that mean I won’t care about Liam anymore? It might break my love for him but it won’t break his love for me. I pushed to my feet just as the door opened again, “Darren?” I looked at his somber expression in shock.

“Look, I don’t want to take you away from Liam.” he said crossing his arms over his chest, “But I can’t step down from Alpha, I’m the oldest son of the previous Alpha.” he shifted his weight looking past me, “That’s how it works with us if I die it goes to Liam and if he dies it passes to Micah. I don’t want to love anyone else.” his eyes tightened and he frowned, “The hunters attacked Abigail on her twenty-first birthday and she escaped but they hurt her pretty badly.” I gazed wide-eyed at him as he continued, “One of the hunters was her brother, a half-blood-fledgling, they turned him against her and made him attack her. I got pissed when I heard what happened and I changed. It’s hard for us to focus when we’re angry like that, she knew I was going after her brother and she tried to stop me. She still loved him even though he hurt her and she got in the way so I killed them both.” his voice cracked and he clenched his fists at his sides, “I’m more dangerous than either of my brothers, understand that right now.” I paled and stepped away but he shook his head and extended his hand to me, “Please come back inside.”

I looked at his hand and back up at him, Liam, my mind spun chaotically. You can do this, another stronger voice popped up in my head, Liam won’t go against his brother so you might as well give up on it now. He’s already given up on you! I shoved the thoughts away before they choked me and hesitantly placed my hand in his. His hand curled around mine warmly, I was shocked at the heat it sent straight to my toes. What is this? I’ve touched him before but I never felt this...a sudden sting on my hand made me yank my hand away, the mark was burning against my skin. Rubbing at it I looked up at him wide-eyed, he frowned rubbing at his wrist.

“I’m sorry,” he said instantly, looking contrite. Steeling my nerves, I walked directly to him and wrapped my arms around his waist.

This is what I have to do. I tried repeating it in my head but it still felt so wrong. Liam’s strained face swam in front of me and I immediately teared up again. Darren briefly stiffened in my arms then relaxed winding his arms around my shoulders. We stood like that for a few moments until he felt the heat of my tears through his shirt. Leaning back, he lifted my chin with a firm hand and brushed the tears away.

“I don’t know what you want me to do Dusty,” he said quietly, his guarded expression made me cry harder.

“That’s just it, if I’m with you you’ll just love me because you have to.” I sobbed, “Liam loved me because he wanted to and now, he doesn’t even want to be near me because you’re the alpha and I belong to you now.” he looked bewildered.

“Dusty, I already love you,” he said catching me off guard, my mouth popped open in shock, “You don’t belong to anyone and you are so faithful and strong, your nerve is unbelievable, especially when you stood up to me when I called you out at the party that mother threw. You literally chipped the front tooth of a fired model for touching my brother and instead of running when you found out what we are you stood strong and forgave us.” he stroked my jaw and smiled gently, “Nothing is forcing me to love you, just like nothing forced him to love you.”

I was speechless as I gazed up at him, he watched me soberly. His blue eyes darkened and he glanced away sharply frowning. Looking down, I focused on my shoes, the snow was nearly deep enough on the balcony to cover them. After a minute Darren sighed and pushed the door open behind him, pulling me through it. The warm air burned my lungs after the bitter chill of the air outside and I immediately started coughing. When I finally caught my breath Darren laughed and gave me a lopsided smile.

“Told you so, that cough sounds nasty.” he said patting my back, “You gonna be alright?” I nodded and glanced over his shoulder when I heard a muttered curse. I barely caught a glimpse of Liam as he ducked into his room and slammed the door.

“I guess I should make a pallet on the couch for the night,” I said weakly and went to move past Darren, he was scowling at Liam’s closed door.

Holding out his arm he stopped me, “No, I’ll take the couch. You can have my bed for the night, I don’t mind.” taking my hand he led me back down the hallway past Liam’s room to a door right across from the monstrous bathroom.

I looked at the french doors and fresh tears coursed down my face, Liam. Darren took one look at my tortured expression and pushed open his bedroom door.

“Come on,” he tugged at my arm and I gazed at him shocked, what is he doing? Following him cautiously he shocked me by sitting down on the edge of the bed and pulling me into his lap.

I stiffened instantly and almost fell on the floor but he caught me quickly, winding his arms around my waist, and leaning his head against my shoulder. What is he doing! The frightened thought raced through my head. But he never moved, just sat there calmly stroking my side. I finally relaxed and glanced down at him.

“I know this is going to be hard,” he said quietly as soon as he felt me relax, “You’re perfectly safe with me, okay?” I narrowed my eyes remembering what he had said, “I know I have a bad temper and I can lose control.” He reached behind him and pulled an intricate silver blade from under his pillow pressing it into my hand, “You know you can choose right now? You don’t have to worry about a choice if I’m gone.” I stared at his serious expression in horror, he wants me to kill him? What!

My hands went numb and I immediately dropped the blade, it clattered across the floor and he gave me a puzzled look, “I’m not doing that!” Is he insane? I folded my hands in my lap nervously and he picked me up, setting me aside.

“I’m going downstairs now, I’ll be in the den.” he swiftly left the room, hitting the light switch as he left, leaving me in silence.


About the author

T.S. Watkins

I am a single mom of four who is also a published author! I use writing as a second income to help me raise my kids so every little bit helps! I write Erotic Fantasy novels and poems. if you love my work thank you! I appreciate your time!

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