Page 34

I’d once overheard Jack warning Mordecai not to let his wolf strip him of his logic. It made so much sense now. Will Green had clearly lost that battle long ago.

“You need to learn respect, girl,” he growled.

Goosebumps spread across my skin. Adrenaline surged through my blood.

“You don’t teach people respect through violence, you fucked up, sad excuse for an alpha. You don’t sneak-attack your betters when they are vulnerable, and you don’t prey on minors. You stole your throne from the Wolfram family, and today I will help that family punish you for it.”

The Line pulsed out a thick throb of power. My magic swelled beyond what I’d yet experienced. Time slowed down again and spirit spiraled around us. The little strings attaching everyone’s souls glittered into view a second time, their ends resting at my feet and pulsing like beacons, almost urging me to grab them up. I started to collect them one by one, using my eyes, but then sank into the feeling of that other place—the place with no time, and no physical presence—and sucked them to me. I felt them, all of them, like balloons floating together from a festoon of ribbons. The souls were all connected to me, and mine was connected to the spirit around us, as if I stood in the middle of an intricate, glittering spider web.

Will snarled, a pure animalistic sound.

The world snapped back to full speed, and the alpha surged toward me in human form.

I plunged a thick cord of my magic through Will’s middle and wrapped it tightly around his spirit box. Surprise lit up his face, quickly overpowered by that manic fire that wasn’t controlled by rational thought.

Power throbbed through me and I shoved his spirit box with my magic. A sharp sound left his mouth. He barreled toward me, his momentum taking him the last couple feet, his arms reaching.

I pushed forward on the balls of my feet at an angle, easily stepping around his loose-handed swipe. I slapped his arms out of the air and then smashed my fist into his nose. My knuckles cracked and so did cartilage.

Souls throbbing within bodies closed in around us. I yanked that bundle of strings I’d sensed in my magical grasp, slamming souls against their suddenly tight housings.

Screams and shrieks and terrified panting filled the air, louder than before. I had their attention.

“You will leave this boy alone,” I roared, shaking Will’s spirit box. I tightened my grasp of the strings connected to the other souls. “You will forget he exists, or I will rip away your life essence and play puppet with your bodies, do you hear me?”

I shook all of their spirit boxes this time, in hard yanks.

“Do you hear me?” I hollered.

Someone broke off from the group, racing away.

Without thinking, I yanked the string and held fast. The force stopped him short and he bowed around his chest before falling to his knees, clutching at his heart. An inhuman scream erupted from his throat. He flopped around like a fish, completely lost to hysteria.

Another broke away. And another. I held on to their spirit boxes, keeping them from running even though the sensation drove them to blind panic. If I didn’t, Zorn and Jack wouldn’t be able to catch them all. They wouldn’t be able to keep Mordecai safe.

Screams turned to howls. Fear rose from the group, a palpable thing. Voices went hoarse.

“Uh-oh,” I said, uncertainty pawing at me. I was handling this very badly and I wasn’t sure how to hit the ejector cord without landing myself back in the middle of a bunch of angry or recently crazed shifters. “What do I do now?”

Will’s power throbbed. A strange keening worked out of his mouth. He wobbled where he stood, but I could tell he would not take a knee. He would not submit, and until he did, Mordecai wouldn’t be in the clear.

“You can end this,” I said to Will. “You can end this at any time.”

“Fuck…you…” he spat, his face red.

Clothes ripped as Will’s body elongated, starting the change to his wolf. His spirit box altered with it, the hard outer crust changing density. The power I’d wrapped around it began to seep into the fibers. I brushed up against his soul.

“Oh gross,” I uttered, freezing.

He froze as well, his magic swirling around him like someone had just kicked a hornet’s nest. He abruptly stopped panting, now holding his breath instead. His eyes locked on mine and I recognized the utter terror swimming within them.

“For the love of God, don’t latch on to that connection,” I said, using spirit to delicately feel each little prong that secured his soul. That material hadn’t changed, just the protective crust it was attached to. They would hold on if the change was quick enough. They would come loose if it wasn’t, and his spirit would escape. He’d die. I said as much.

“Don’t we want that?” Mordecai asked quietly, somehow cutting through the chaos around us.

“Fuck you, boy,” Will ground out, his whole body straining. His maniacal stare clung to Mordecai. “You look just like your pappy, do you know that? Just as stupidly useless as that limp dick. He was worse than weak. He was soft. Spineless. He was bankrupting our pack. He was leading us nowhere.” Drool escaped his mouth. “And don’t get me started on that whore of a mother of yours. She spread her legs all over town. She—”

A low growl was the only warning I got before a shove pushed me out of the way. Mordecai smashed his fist into Will’s face.

I staggered back, startled…and accidentally yanked Will’s soul with me.

“Uh-oh,” I said.

25

Kieran

Heart in his throat, Kieran took a chance and bolted through the last few rows of the shopping complex parking lot to get around to Alexis. Using the service entrance would’ve drawn too much notice. All of his Six, other than Henry, should already be there, Henry having been the farthest away and the hardest to extract.

They must have arrived in time to help Alexis. They must have, or he would’ve gotten a call. He would’ve felt it through the soul connection.

Just like he’d felt her drift away earlier. He’d already been on his way to the shopping complex, racing through the hidden passageway behind her house to get to the dual-society zone, when a strange loss had niggled his awareness. It had felt as though Alexis had disappeared from this world. As though she’d died. If the feeling hadn’t resolved quickly, he would have completely lost his composure.

Screams and yells sent cold trickles down his spine as he raced around the corner. The cloud that was Zorn drifted not far away and Thane stood idle a few steps beyond him. Disbelief ran through Kieran. What the hell were these guys doing so far from the fight?

In a moment, he understood.

Furry bodies rolled around on the concrete, whimpering or howling. Human forms thrashed on the ground or bent over, clutching their middles.

In the middle of it all, her hair blown by some unseen force, cloaked in glowing white, stood Alexis, facing off against a badass shifter. She looked like a rampaging angel claiming her vengeance on anyone foolish enough to threaten her brood.

She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever witnessed in his entire life.

He jogged to a stop next to Zorn, his fear for Alexis dissipated like rain drops on hot cement.

“What happened?” he asked as Zorn materialized next to him.

“She’s using her magic,” Zorn said quietly, his voice somber.

“Yes, she is.” Thane joined them, grinning. The glory of battle burned in his eyes. His Berserker side felt Alexis’s call to arms and yearned to join her. It spoke to his unbelievable control that he had not. “I have been fucking vindicated for my reaction to her the other day. Fucking vindicated. I might’ve changed, but at least I wasn’t reduced to this.”

“She has a shaky handle on the situation, at best,” Zorn said, his mind as quick and calculating as ever. “I have no doubt she can keep them down, but not long ago she asked what she should do next. If she releases her hold, more than half of them will take off running. There aren’t enough of us to snatch them up before they escape. We need an end game.”

Will Green spat a series of disgusting remarks about Mordecai’s family, and the boy launched forward, throwing a well-placed and powerful punch at the older alpha.

“The kid was exceptional in the thick of it, sir—”

Zorn cut off as Alexis flinched back.

“Uh-oh,” she said loudly.

Green collapsed. It wasn’t from the punch.

Through his soul connection with Alexis, Kieran saw what happened next.

Confused and disoriented, Green’s spirit form stood outside of his body, twice as muscular as his physical form and taller. Clearly he saw himself differently than he actually appeared.

Alexis had learned how to rip a soul out of a body, and she’d done it on accident.

“Sir—”

Zorn didn’t need to finish his sentence—Kieran was already on it. He sent a thick blast of power into the scene, swirling around Alexis and Mordecai and rolling over the enemy. Their agonized screams and shrieks turned into squeals and grunts of pain. She might be able to frighten to the point of hysteria, but he could inflict pain to the point of unconsciousness or death. This time he aimed for the former. He needed to figure out what to do with all these shifters, and death was the last option.

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