“What else did we do to you?”
Liam’s deep voice barely registered, making me hate Anara more. I dug my fingers through my hair. “It was hard enough going through it. Don’t make me talk about it anymore.”
My torrid emotions fueled Aric’s rage, his growls grew increasingly menacing. I seized his hands. The way he focused on his Warriors frightened me. His human half could reason that they weren’t responsible for their actions, but the infuriated beast within wasn’t as forgiving.
Holding Aric soothed him only minimally. His emotions teetered toward out of control, and, short of moving him away, I didn’t know how else to calm him. “Aric, please look at me.” Fury blazed in his eyes. “I need you to calm down. You’re scaring me.” He didn’t want me to be afraid and tried to tame his beast. But then Liam opened his big yap.
“Celia, the day I found you bloodied and choked…Did I do that?”
I shifted Aric into the ground as he lunged for Liam. If I hadn’t anticipated the attack, I wouldn’t have caught him.
“Liam had nothing to do with it!” Aric’s head snapped up, expecting me to tell him exactly who’d hurt me. I swore a few times. Revealing the truth had done more harm than good. “It was Anara. That was the day he first came to see me.”
Aric broke through the packed ground, enraged. I hugged his waist, ignoring the dirt caking his borrowed clothes. His heart pounded against his rib cage. I didn’t know how much more he could take before his wolf would demand his mate be avenged.
He pulled me tight. “You were already carrying our child, weren’t you?” I didn’t want to say anything, but answered with a nod. He shook against me. “You’ve been through hell, Celia. And I’ve done nothing but fail you as a mate.”
“Don’t say that,” I said quietly.
Aric’s face darkened to a deep red. And although he remained furious, I sensed the blame he carried. “I should have recognized you were in danger. Instead all I did was add to your suffering.”
Tears streamed down my dirty face. “You didn’t know, love. Please calm down.”
Liam hurried forward. “He beat her up bad, Aric. Her nose was crushed and forced to the side. And her face was so swollen, I only recognized her by scent.”
“Her back was sliced and her throat was bruised from being strangled—”
“Liam, shut up!”
Aric broke away from me to crush rocks with his bare hands. They exploded into the air like bits of sand. His strength scared me senseless and yet the wolves continued to nod, in approval. I rushed to him, but Gemini blocked my way, careful not to touch me directly. “Leave him, Celia. He needs to embrace his anger. It will help him when the time comes.”
My stomach churned with a horrible sense of dread. “Help him do what?”
Koda stared at me with dark, implacable eyes. “Help him and us kill Anara.”
My anxiety prompted a sudden attack of morning sickness. Aric halted midstride, worry replacing his need to crush stone. Nothing like projectile vomit to stop a raving werewolf in his tracks.
In seconds I had more help than I knew what to do with. Weres by definition ruled as calculating and vicious predators capable of emerging victorious even when outnumbered. Mine completely panicked. Liam swept me up and flung me over his shoulder, racing me toward the river and holding me over the raging water by the waist. “Shit! She’s not stopping!”
Koda, who’d chased us, called over his shoulder. “Damnit, Gem. Boil some water!”
Gemini yelled from the safety of the shore. “What for?”
“How the hell am I supposed to know? It’s just what you do when someone’s knocked up.”
I gripped my knees, trying to catch my breath. Liam “helped” by splashing me in the face with the icy water. I fell back into Aric’s arms from the force. “Liam, stop! You’ll give her hypothermia.”
“She needs water!” Liam insisted.
I glared at him. “In a glass, Liam. Not up my nose.”
Aric led me back to the bank, trying to warm my shaking body with his and barking out commands. “Gem, start a fire and grab a pot from the cabin to boil water.”
Gemini blinked back at him. “Okay, but what do I do with the water once it’s boiled?”
Koda growled. “I told you, it’s the type of shit you do when someone’s knocked up!”
These are the future uncles to my child.
Aric clenched his jaw. “It’s for Celia. Start searching for some coyote mint to add to the water. It will help settle her stomach.”
“Oh. Well that makes more sense.” Gemini bolted into the woods with Koda following.
Liam watched me closely. “Damn, Celia. You look like hell. Aren’t you supposed to be glowing or something?”
Aric’s scowl completely shut him up. “Just get her some dry clothes.”
The tea the wolves threw together helped reduce the acid that continued to gnaw at my stomach. I returned to the cabin and took time to freshen up so I didn’t appear so haggard. Or so I thought.
“She looks pasty,” Koda murmured to Gemini when I joined them outside. “Is she supposed to be that fucking white?”
“She can hear you.” I narrowed my eyes. “I’m pregnant, not deaf.”
Liam nudged him. “It must be the hormones. Try not to upset her, she might kill us all.”
Gemini cleared his throat upon taking in Aric’s death glare. “You look beautiful, Celia.”
Liam flashed two very enthusiastic and blatantly dishonest thumbs up. Koda didn’t bother to agree. He thought it best to stare awkwardly at his feet. Smart wolf.
Liam’s sweats swallowed my legs. I had to roll them six times to keep them on my hips. Aric chuckled before pulling me to him. “I’m taking you back to my original Den in Colorado. Right now we’re in Oregon’s Blue Mountains. We need to hurry. It’s a long trek back to Koda’s SUV and an even longer drive to Boise, where we’re meeting your family.”
“You don’t trust Martin and Makawee enough to return to California, do you?”
Aric stroked my cheek. “I’ve known Martin all my life. He and Makawee are honorable, but too much has happened without their knowledge. Something has blinded them to Anara’s actions.”