by Jane Doe
“A curse. Now there’s a d**n curse we have to deal with?” Zeke sputtered, his voice flooding the cars speakers.
I turned the volume down a notch, wincing as I glanced over at Asher. He was chiseled from stone, his arm rigid as he held the wheel, eyes narrowed on the highway ahead.
“I told you what the Shadows said. There’s no way to ‘deal’ with it. Even if there was, Cordelia and Rowena can’t sense anything on him. You’d think two powerful witches could sniff out a curse.” I grumbled, sinking deeper into the seat.
My bottom was on the verge of becoming numb, but we didn’t have much longer to go before we’d hit our meet-up point. Fifty miles away, at a small gas station with one of our own wolves posted as cashier, we’d find the others. Breyona, Giovanni, Tristan, Sean, Mason, and Clara had taken a different route to avoid suspicion. Going off of Breyona’s idea when she rescued us from Ember and Tessa, we borrowed a work van from a local company in the pack for them to use.
There wasn’t any need to black out the windows considering it was the middle of the night, which is why the tractor trailer idea Mason had worked out smoothly.
A horn blared behind us, one louder than I’d ever heard before. It didn’t startle Asher in the slightest, but I definitely jumped a few inches in my seat.
“Earth to Lola.” Zeke sang. “Need me to honk again?”
“You said I could do it this time.” Dina snapped, her voice distant over the speakers.
“Why did we agree to let Zeke drive the big rig?” I asked Asher, running a hand over my tired eyes.
Asher tilted his head my way, eyes of sparkling gold crinkling at the edges. It was the only time he dared to relax after our conversation with the shadows.
“You agreed because no one else knows how to drive the thing.” Zeke said smugly.
The truck’s horn blared a second time, longer and louder than the first. I bit my lip hard enough to draw blood. We wouldn’t have bothered with the thing, but the Vampire’s already in the safe haven needed supplies. Among the usual lot of clothing, first-aid, and hygiene products was a fresh shipment of blood-bags.
In between spending time with his family, Asher’s Beta had been responsible for getting the shipment to the meet-up point. He’d also been tasked with transporting Bridgette there once I told her about my conversation with Deacon, and that there was a strong chance he’d make his way there in the future. From there, the cashier we had in place would contact one of the few wolves staying at the safe haven to pick up the shipment.
“What the h**l, Zeke.” I jumped, startled a second time.
“My bad. Just wanted to honk the horn. Never been in one of these things before.” Dina apologized over the phone.
“It’s alright, Dina.” I sighed, clenching my eyes shut for a few seconds to relieve the pain of staring into headlights half the night. “What were you saying, Zeke?”
“I asked if you tried to break Asher’s curse with your Conjuration magic.” His reply came a few seconds later.
As we whizzed down the highway, cars darting past us left and right, my eyes were drawn to the night sky. Stars kissed the horizon in a sea of silver and navy blue, reaching up to meet a moon so bright the streetlamps almost weren’t needed. I glanced back down to the car’s navigation screen, where Zeke’s name remained lit up in bold, white letters.
“Of course I tried. I’m still trying to work off this headache. Did you know over the counter medication does nothing for magically induced ailments? Well, I didn’t either. It didn’t matter how many times I tried or what angle I came at it from, it was like my magic had nothing to hold onto. If the shadows are right about Asher being cursed, and I think they are, then there’s nothing we can do but wait it out.”
Thick, heady silence enveloped Asher and I. It was so strong that even Zeke and Dina were affected, going quiet on the other end. None of us voiced what was going through our heads, the last part of what the Shadows had said.
Through carnage and blood, the curse would be fulfilled.
When Asher’s hand fell over mine, his fingers sliding through my own, I’d almost forgotten we were still on the phone with Zeke. My heartrate quickened when his eyes left the road to stare into my own, so strong and reassuring that I almost didn’t believe what the Shadows had said.
I’d seen Asher changing these past few months, becoming more and more protective, losing that cunning edge of his in order to wrap me in a cotton blanket and protect me from all harm.
We hadn’t even talked about Tristan and I escaping the pack like prisoners of war.
I could tell from the lingering stares and soft touches, from the raw emotion flooding the mate-bond whenever he looked my way, that there was no anger there for what I’d done, but it still needed to be addressed before it happened a second time. If there was one thing I’d learned from my mom, it was that in relationships, things like this always came to a head.
“We will get through this, Lola.” Asher promised, his firm voice the pillar of strength I needed—that our pack needed.
And more than anything, I wanted to believe him.
We met at the gas station, parking under the flickering dome light that shone down on one of the three gas pumps. Giovanni pulled in just fifteen minutes after we arrived, with Breyona sitting in the front seat. Her feet were perched on the dash and were the first thing she flung out of the car as she raced to the bathroom.
After reconvening at the meet-up point, there was but a short drive left until we reached the safe-haven Asher, and I spent months creating. There was one way in and out of the place, which might’ve been risky, but it allowed us to keep an eye on anyone that strayed too close.
When Asher had first purchased the property under the alias of a large real-estate corporation, the area had initially been planned to be turned into a series of quaint suburbs thirty miles from the nearest human town. The houses had been nothing more than husks when we snatched them up. With Killian and Claire lending a hand, the process wasn’t nearly as difficult as it could’ve been. They found builders to come in and finish the homes, humans who had little to no clue what this plot of land was being used for.
When it was all said and done, we began moving Vampire’s in. Without Tristan and Giovanni stepping up to transport them, the anonymity of the town would’ve vanished into thin air. Vampire’s who wanted to live here were blind-folded until they passed through the gates deep within the forest.
It wasn’t perfect, but we had yet to have any problems.
“Brandon will be leaving in a few hours. I’m still debating on whether or not I should give him the location and have him stop by on his way home.” Asher grunted, his eyebrows creasing at the mere mention of his brother’s name.
I made a sound of interest and cocked my head. Days had gone by and not once had I seen a trace of Brandon. It wasn’t that I missed the guy because I was fairly sure the only one who was actually fond of him was Cassidy, but he’d become such a frequent presence in my life that it was almost abnormal not to hear one of his dry quips or retorts to Asher inevitably threatening him.
When I finally bothered to ask Asher where his younger brother was, he told me he’d sent him off on a personal mission of sorts.
“He’s leaving Bran’s pack?” I asked, even more surprised than when Asher told me he’d sent him there in the first place.
Asher nodded, curving off the main road and onto the wide path that would take us into the safe haven.
“He’s actually very efficient at weeding out Bran’s loyalists. There were over two dozen warriors who hated the man, which isn’t surprising in the slightest,” He snorted. “But most of them agreed to join the hunt for the witches.”
“What about the rest of the pack? They still need warriors to protect them. There’s no telling if the witches will attack them now that Bran’s d**d.”
“That’s why I sent Brandon. The warriors loyal to their old Alpha will still defend their pack, but that’s as far as their loyalty goes. They won’t provide us any help, which means the best place for them to be is right where they are.” Asher replied.
The car slowly came to a stop when the headlights hit something deeper in the forest. The glint of old metal sparkled in the night, painted in a coppery tint from rust. He stepped out of the vehicle and waved at Giovanni and Zeke to hang tight as he wrenched open the gate and pinned it in place.
A few more minutes wobbling down the dirt road and the town came into view, stealing away my breath as a jolt of excitement danced down my spine.
I hadn’t seen the place since Asher had purchased the land and the houses had been fully completed. Many of the Vampire’s here I’d met only because they encroached on the boundary of our pack’s borders in search of help. The rest had been vetted by Giovanni and Tristan.
What at first had been a grass lot surrounded by oak and elm, littered with the bones of half-finished houses, was now a sprawling town that thrived under the cover of heavy clouds and silvery moonlight.
Homes of various shapes and color lined streets of unblemished asphalt. Some had shutters and wrap-around porches, while others had little back patios and small gardens nestled off to the side. A few had chain-link fences and driveways, while others were simpler in appearance. It was mismatched in the best way, an amalgamation of different styles and aesthetics from the various Vampire’s making each house their home.
There were four streets that branched off, all of them with houses nestled against one another. Each street met at the center, circling the largest house out of the bunch, which served as a sort of community center. This was where the supplies were dropped off at every month and where we parked when a Vampire flagged us down.
The older gentleman standing off to the side of the community center had been one of the Vampire’s I’d personally met. His salt and pepper hair had been much shaggier almost two months ago but was now cropped close to his ears. On his face was a tentative smile, one that blossomed into something warmer when Asher and I stepped out of the car.
“Welcome, Queen Lola. I was wondering when you’d come visit us all.” The older Vampire chuckled, his voice deep and gruff.
I could hear the others getting out of their vehicles, their feet padding against sidewalk and asphalt as they came up behind Asher and I. The older Vampire whose name I remembered as Emmett, cocked his head, and made a sound of interest.
“Don’t suppose you’re here to see Deacon, are you?” He asked. “He said you were the one that sent him here. Figured he was telling the truth when that mate of his jumped into his arms.”
“Did he come with others?” Dina demanded, her voice coming from a few feet behind.
Emmett’s bushy eyebrows sank low on his face. “Erm, yeah he came with others. It’ll probably just be best if I take you to him. Feel free to leave the tractor trailer here, I’ve got guys that can unload it. You can take your car, though. The house isn’t that far up the road.”
We were led to one of the many houses down the street, one with a small porch and a large set of windows overlooking the front yard. After pulling the car and work van up to the curb, Emmett gave us his farewell and headed back to the community center to help unload the truck.
The front door was unlocked when Asher opened it, and quickly we all saw why.
Seated in the living room were many faces, almost all of them familiar in some way. There was one I homed in on, one that made my blood run cold with recognition even though I knew the man wasn’t my father.
Deacon’s pale eyes latched onto my own, so much like my father’s that I couldn’t help but hold my breath. He tilted his head at me, the corners of his lips curling ever so slightly.
Alpha Asher by Jane Doe
Author: Jane Doe
Native Language: English