by Jane Doe
The howling didn’t stop when we raced through the pack’s boundary lines and into what many wolves considered ‘no man’s land.’
A total of four hundred and seventy-three miles west of Asher’s pack was Alpha Bran’s, which we fully planned to steer clear of. Even though it was insanity not to relay the location of the Vampire’s lair on the off chance we didn’t make it back, I couldn’t risk Asher sending a group of warriors to my rescue.
The last thing I needed were the Vampire’s thinking I’d come to ambush them.
A few of the warriors followed us past the boundary lines, though they didn’t dare venture too far. If I had to guess, the ones brave enough to leave Asher’s territory were new recruits, desperate to prove themselves in the eyes of their Alpha. When the last wolf following us slowed and darted back to the territory lines, I let out a sigh of relief.
The sound was muffled by the helmet I wore and smothered by the snarling of the engine, yet Tristan still felt the need to turn his head ever so slightly in my direction. It was the weird connection he and every other Vampire had with their ruler. In many ways, it was similar to the bond between a Luna and her pack, yet there was no direct channel of communication.
As convenient, and mildly unsettling, as it was to have Tristan and Giovanni picking up on my emotions, the ability to mind-link would’ve been far more useful
Curled behind Tristan’s large frame, I lost track of the time that passed. Unable to see the small screen on the sports bike, I counted the passing hours by how sore my backside was becoming.
Silence rang in my ears where Asher’s voice had once been, and even though I promptly ended the mind-link between us after promising I’d return, I could feel his lingering presence in the furthest depths of my thoughts, waiting–listening for any whisper that I was in danger.
Always the protector, no matter how tumultuous things became.
“He’ll forgive you. You know that, right?” Tristan grunted, clearing his throat to regain my attention.
I set the helmet onto the seat of the bike and stared up at the flickering sign of the gas station we stopped at, unsure of how to respond. FastMart, I deduced even though the blinking letters read ‘F st M t’, was nothing more than a little shack comprised of four poorly constructed brick walls. Right outside the front door, whose glass was hazy and covered in half-peeled stickers from cigarette advertisements, were two gas pumps. The one we stood at had a rusted number 2 on the handle, as if we couldn’t figure that one out ourselves.
I looked back at Tristan, still unable to conjure a response. He had never liked Asher, especially before coming to accept that I’d never choose him as my mate. It was strange to hear his reassurance rather than some clever insult meant to tear Asher down.
“I’ll go pay for the gas. I don’t think this fossil has a card reader.” I mumbled.
As I fished my wallet out of my jacket pocket and stared down at the slim wad of cash I kept handy, I hesitated.
“Don’t pay in cash.” Tristan drawled, “If we don’t make it back, Asher can track us through your card and see that we stopped here. It’s not much, but it’ll give him somewhere to start.”
He watched me from where he leaned against the pump. It sat at an odd angle, making it look as nodded, erasing my look of surprise when he snorted dryly.
The start of a plan unfurled in my mind–one created by the slew of intrusive thoughts that explained in explicit detail the many number of things that could potentially go wrong. Well, at least they couldn’t take me to my father. Not that I would’ve minded k*g him a second time.
“If anything happens, I want you to leave me behind and go straight to Asher.”
It was Tristan’s turn to raise his eyebrows, only instead of surprised, he looked unamused.
“Sure, thing. I’ll run for my life and the Queen of all Vampire’s to de. Who will plan my fl when Asher murders me for leaving your side? Perhaps, Giovanni will forgive me for trying to mr him and for the loss of Breyona’s wolf. If not, I’m sure Breyona could prepare a lovely f***l.” him.
Leaving him to his own devices, I turned on my heel and approached the little shack. Through the foggy glass windows, I could see a single aisle of what appeared to be potato chips and some very old looking candy, along with a tiny counter and a mass of crimson hovering behind it.
“Aye’ kid, you got any money?” A raspy voice low to the ground asked.
The homeless man sitting against the brick wall of the gas station was partially concealed by a large ice cooler. A sign was stuck to the door of it by a single piece of duct tape. ‘Out of order,’ it read.
He peered up at me, his eyes a bright shade of blue. They were made even more vibrant the uneven mop of ebony hair on his head. Without looking to closely, I fished a twenty from my wallet and held it out to him.
“Appreciate it. Garret in there charges an arm and a leg for a beer, just thought you should know.” The man said, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder as he pointed towards the inside of the little shack. He let out a wet laugh and relaxed against the brick wall.
I nodded, grabbing the door handle. “Glad I could help.”
A little silver bell attached to the frame jingled as I pulled the door open. Instantly, I was greeted by the pungent scent of gas station hot dogs and the body odor of who I could only assume was Garret. The mass of crimson I saw through the foggy window was the man himself-or hist-shirt, rather.
The strength of the man’s body odor could easily alert every werewolf in the state that this man was one hundred percent a human. He looked up from his magazine, which had half-dressed women printed on both the cover and backside and flashed me a greasy grin.
“Whatchu doing around these parts, sweetheart?” He drawled, sliding the magazine off to the side.
His voice had a slight southern twang, which made sense when he picked up an old Styrofoam cup and spat a wad of something dark into it. The scent of stale tobacco wafted between us, deepening the look of disinterest on my face.
what.” I deadpanned.
“No need to get snippy, just askin’ a question.” He chuckled, his large stomach jiggling.
One of the perks of growing up in a pack was that I didn’t have to deal with human men. More often than not, human men were insufferable and entitled with their women. Werewolves had the same qualities, but they knew when to back down and submit. Garret here, had the same haughty tone as most men, speaking down on me like I was some innocent doe. Little did he know, I wasn’t just a wolf but a blood-drinking one at that.
“And I answered it. Put thirty on pump two, and I’ll pay for a beer for the guy outside. I trust you’ll make sure he gets it.” I replied, holding out my card.
Garret grumbled incoherently and spat a second time into his cup. I walked back to the pump, listening to the homeless man’s wet laughter hit the air, followed by the crack of a can being opened. By the time I caught Tristan’s interested gaze, the laughter had morphed into harsh coughing.
“How kind of you, buying the local drunk a drink.” He commented dryly.
He plucked my helmet from the seat and held it out for me to take, glancing once at the pump. The faded numbers ticked by slowly. I snatched it from his hands and snorted through my nose.
“At least someone will have a good night. Maybe we’ll have one too.”
I flipped my hair over my shoulder and yanked the helmet into place. A solid five minutes later, the hum of the engine filled my ears, and my backside resumed its aching.
Counting the mile markers and letting my thoughts drift by as idly as the surrounding trees, I noticed we’d made it about fifteen miles before rounding a curve and hitting a long stretch of road.
I’d been fixated on the moon as it hung in the sky, shining brightly and free of any wispy clouds, when Tristan stiffened, and the exhaust’s rumbling faltered. I tapped his shoulder, not expecting a response, but the bike’s slowing speed was answer enough.
He must’ve spotted the sign Bridgette told us about, the one with the splotch of glow-in-the-dark paint. I caught a glimpse of the speedometer and grimaced when it read a whopping ten miles per hour. At that point, I said, ‘s***w it’ and lurched to the side to peer around Tristan.
It wasn’t the distinct outline of a person standing at the very end of the road that made me pale. Rather, it was the rustling I heard coming from the forest, both behind us and on our sides. A chilly breeze kicked up, and the scent of something sweet permeated my helmet.
I’d been wrong, so very wrong.
Tristan hadn’t found what we were looking for, the sign which led to the Vampire’s lair. Instead, they found us.
Alpha Asher by Jane Doe
Author: Jane Doe
Native Language: English