by Jane Doe
As the back patio came into view, along with Asher’s broad shoulders and unruly hair, I realized my gut had been right after all. Flecks of dazzling gold swirled in his eyes and were bright even in the dark, much brighter the porch lights with their artificial glow.
His shoulders visibly relaxed as his eyes settled on my face. Only. I could see and feel the fury that painted his iris’s gold. While my vision might’ve tunneled on Asher, I didn’t fail to notice he wasn’t alone. Reclined on the swinging bench was Breyona and Giovanni. Mason and Clara occupied the two chairs off to the side.
There wasn’t a single smiling face, only scowls carved deep with worry.
I’d almost forgotten about Ember and Angelica, both of which were partially concealed behind my back, until Asher let out a snarl that nearly shook the entire house.
Ember went deathly still. The temperature rose several degrees, quick enough that a sweat began to break out along the back of my neck.I took a step towards my mate.
“Don’t, Asher. They’re with us.”
Breyona shoved herself off the bench, evading Giovanni’s arms before they could pin her in place. “Since f*cking when?”
“It’s a recent development.” I admitted, waiting for Brandon to chime in. When he didn’t, I was forced to continue. “You don’t have to trust her. Trust me, okay?”
“Where’s Tessa?” Ember didn’t hesitate to ask.
Surprisingly, Clara was the one who answered. “Your sister’s inside with her mate. You ain’t welcome in yet, though.”
“Where the f*ck have you been?” Asher bellowed.
I bristled at fury in his voice, thinking he was talking to me. His eyes, however, were trained on Brandon.
“Oh, you know. Here and there.” Brandon replied dryly, grunting when Ember slammed her elbow into his ribcage.
I wondered if Ember could set things on fire with her glare, because she looked angry enough to kill.
Brandon sighed dramatically. As usual, he wasn’t taking a d*mned thing seriously.
“I was captured by Ember…my mate.”
He was more than reluctant to admit the second part.
Silence and shock rippled along each of their faces, the same that had passed through me back when I found out. As deafening as it was, the silence didn’t last long. It was replaced with a low growl I barely recognized as my own when she walked out.
“I must be going crazy. Did I just hear Brandon-” Cassidy’s laughter was cut short when she popped her head out of the back door and spotted us standing at the base of the porch.
Blood began to boil in my veins, as though Ember had touched my insides with her magic induced flame. All rational thought evaporated from my head as I stared into her eyes, trying to force two words through her skull and deep into her brain.
It didn’t matter that I had limited strength. Every ounce of it was forced into the command I sent out to the shadows, drawing them from the depths of the forest by the dozen. They leapt off the ground and stretched, wrapping around Cassidy’s body before she even had the chance to shriek.
I swore I heard Angelica coo in amazement, but the sound was swallowed before I could truly register it. “Lola, what the hell!” She screeched, golden-blonde hair falling into her face as she thrashed.
Brandon whirled on me, his eyes wide with confusion and outrage. I stumbled back, swallowing my surprise when he went to take a step towards me. Ember, of all people, cut him off. Her palms were flat against his chest as she held him back. His eyes flickered between her face and my face, searching for answers but finding none.
Asher held up his hand, and Cassidy’s shrill scream was cut short. Her chest continued to heave, and as her lips trembled, I could practically see her dying to continue.
Helpless until the bitter end.
“Baby, what are you doing?” The soft tone Asher’s voice had taken on sent a wave of agonizing pain through my chest.
He’d believe me. He had to:
My voice cracked from the weight of what I was about to say, a truth that would change everything and could never be taken back.
“It’s her. It’s always been her. Cassidy’s the second witch.”
Upon the words leaving my lips, Cassidy threw back her head and snarled. She wriggled against the hold the Shadows had over her, belting out her frustration.
“She’s lost her d*mn mind, Asher. You know me! You’ve known me our entire lives!”
Asher didn’t move a muscle. Even his chest had gone completely still, the oxygen still swirling in his lungs. My mate looked between Cassidy and I, and for the first time in our tumultuous relationship, he truly seemed torn. When Asher failed to come to her rescue, Cassidy hurled her words at Brandon, who appeared much less inclined to believe what I was saying.
“Brandon are you going to let her do this to me?! You’re my best-friend. I-I thought I was yours.”
Her big, baby-blues watered so convincingly that if it hadn’t been my own brother that whispered her name in my ear, even I would’ve believed her. I wasn’t at all surprised when Brandon’s eyes slid to my own and his face hardened beyond recognition.
“Let her go, Lola. I won’t tell you again.”
A snarl tore through Asher’s chest, directed at his younger brother. “Touch her and you die.”
“Everyone needs to just calm down.” Mason chimed in, ever the peacekeeper.
Breyona narrowed her eyes on Cassidy, pursing her lips until they formed a thin line. “I’m on Lola’s side. Look at her arms. That weird darkness stuff she had going on is gone, which means she’s not going crazy.”
Ember, who had been blocking Brandon from me this entire time, cursed under her breath.
“For fck’s sake, Brandon. Get your head out of your as and listen!”
Brandon glowered at his mate, but the witch was able to dish it back tenfold.He spoke through gritted teeth. “I am listening. Cassidy is innocent-”
“No…” Ember whispered. “…she’s not.”
Those three words were Cassidy’s undoing, melting whatever spell or magic she had placed over her. It wasn’t her face that changed, that part remained the same. Color seeped into her hair from her roots, staining the golden strands a deep auburn. Her eyes followed, the blue tones swallowed by darker notes of crimson and brown.
Cassidy went so still that the shadows encasing her twitched with unease. Much like a vicious snake coiling in the grass, she attempted to lunge at Ember, all hints of innocence obliterated from her face.
“You fcking btch! You pathetic, worthless traitor! I’ll kill you for this! Freya will kill you! You ruined years of work for nothing. Nothing! We’re going to kill you-all of you!” Cassidy screamed and snarled, switching between manic laughter and fury so potent a chill skittered down my spine.
Ember, still holding onto Brandon even though there was no need, craned her head over his shoulder to where Asher gaped at his childhood best-friend.
“Don’t blame Tessa for this, please. She didn’t know.” Ember begged.
From the look on Asher’s face, I could tell he wasn’t listening. The sting of betrayal hurt that much more coming from him, radiating down the bond as it added his emotions to my own. If I could, I would’ve taken that pain tenfold if it meant keeping it out of his grasp.
Cassidy looked at Asher with a mixture of bitter regret and disappointment. If it weren’t for my brother’s warning against dark magic, I might’ve ended her here and now. She ceased her thrashing long enough to speak. “I was going to let you live,,Asher. You and Brandon. An Alpha’s blood has power. I convinced my mother to let me keep you both, but you’ve ruined it.”
Brandon snapped out of his stupor to gape at Cassidy. “Your mother?”
Pride lit her eyes brighter than any magic could. Her heart-shaped lips peeled upwards in a triumphant grin. “Yes, Brandon. My mother. The Blood Witch.”
In the midst of all the chaos, not one of us noticed the patio door sliding open. Only when Tristan’s face came into view, was my attention snared. It wasn’t on my first-in-command, though. Rather, the girl clinging to his side.
Holly’s eyes widened with a slew of emotions, so many that it would take me hours to dissect them all. Her jaw dropped, plummeting to the ground where it rolled down the stairs and into the grass. Holly’s betrayal didn’t anger me nearly as much as Cassidy’s, but it was still a truth I planned on bringing to light.
If I’d been paying closer attention, I might’ve noticed the slight ripple in the air-a sign that Angelica was no longer hiding us with her magic.
I never got the chance to say anything more. That presence I’d felt hovering over my shoulder, the one I’d forgotten about during the chaos, chose this moment to descend. It happened so quickly that nothing could’ve prepared me.
My lips refused to listen. No matter how much I screamed, they remained frozen in place. The only voice heard was the one in my head, but even that was short lived.
I wasn’t sure when the chanting began. Perhaps, it started back in the forest, too quiet for me to hear. All I know, is that once it began, a presence filled the empty spaces of my body-the ones my brain no longer had access to.
‘…it’s time…’ I swore I heard something whisper.
Time skipped a beat and the next thing I knew Asher stood in front of me. I cried out in relief, but the sound was reserved only for my thoughts. Asher would fix this; he’d find a way. I could feel his hands on my shoulders, his thumbs rubbing soothing circles on my bare skin, but no matter how hard I pushed, my body would not listen.
Even though my head refused to turn in Ember’s direction, I didn’t miss the way she gasped. Her hand trembled as she placed it over her mouth and whispered, “Oh, no. It’s begun.”
The familiar tingle of magic skated along my skin, and while I recognized it as my own, it wasn’t my command that it followed. I shouted a warning that never made it past my lips and watched in horror as a wave of magic exploded from my chest.
It came out in single blast that made the air around me ripple and hit Asher at a devastatingly close range. The bittersweet look of shock on his face was the last thing I saw before my mate was thrown backwards. He hurled through the air so violently that even the side of the house couldn’t slow him down. The wall exploded as he hit it, crumbling beneath him as a plume of drywall dust billowed into the air.
Without my command to hold them in place, the shadows imprisoning Cassidy slithered away into the darkness.
She wasted no time, throwing back her head to howl her laughter into the night sky, before turning and attacking the people I loved most.
Desperately, more than anything in this world, I wanted to help. Unfathomable power sat right at my fingertips, but it no longer listened to my voice. No matter how much I cried out and begged for its help, it remained just out of reach.
The chanting in my head grew louder, and as it did, I was able to make out a number of overlapping voices.
‘…come to me…’
Only Angelica, with her golden pigtails and round eyes, noticed me slip away.”
Alpha Asher by Jane Doe
Author: Jane Doe
Native Language: English