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The Hybrid's Rogue

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

Chapter 1 - Leo

“I miss you. Do you think after the new year you will be able to visit? I know my parents won’t like it, but I could manage to sneak away.” I sighed, rolling onto my stomach, my voice barely above a whisper.

I can’t be too sure that my parents or my obnoxious brother aren’t outside the door trying to listen in. While Oscar would have a harder time not having his wolf yet, my parents could easily hear me. Planning to meet up with River is the last thing I want them to know about.

They’ve been thrilled these previous two years since they moved away. I don’t even understand why they hated them. Well, let me rephrase I don’t see the logic, but I know why my parents hate River.

River isn’t part of the pack. They are human and nonbinary like me. My family and pack are the definitions of basic white bitches. They are total purists. If there were a way to do it, our pack would never associate with humans or other supernatural creatures. To the Silvermane pack, anyone not a pure werewolf is inferior.

It’s total bullshit. I’d happily never awaken my wolf if it meant I could be with River. But I am a full-blooded werewolf. So like it or not, now that I’m sixteen, I’ll go through my first shift on the next full moon. And I don’t know what my wolf will be like. I worry that they will be like the rest of this pack and tell me I’m a girl and should act like one. I’ve never really felt like a girl, and the way this pack treats females certainly doesn’t make me want to be one.

“I don’t know. I’m hoping I can. I’m old enough to go alone, but you know my mom.” River grumbled. “But maybe if I get daddy Hale on my side, she’ll come around to letting me travel solo. As it stands, she’d probably want to make it some family trip, and I don’t want to share my Leo time with them.”

“THEY WERE MY FRIEND FIRST! You wouldn’t even have a Leo if not for me.” I heard Sage taunt in the background. Our calls often go like this since they have to share a room. But it won’t be forever since River said their stepbrother and his girlfriend are moving out after their wedding in April.

I miss them both. Sage is always so much fun to hang out with. But even if they are identical twins, they are very different. So while Sage was total friend material, I knew they were different when I met River. I don’t get the belly flips and butterflies when I’m around Sage or anyone else. Just with River.

“Well, the most you can do is try. I’d say I would try to come there, but we both know until I can get out from under my parents’ legal control, that won’t happen.” I sighed.

I wish I could tell River the truth. I wish I could say that I won’t be out of their control until I find my mate, and then I would be considered my mate’s property. And human mates are super rare; they are like fairy tales. So the chances of River being mine are low. But you know what, I don’t care what my wolf says or feels about it; I’ll choose River.

“Yeah, they suck. I wanted to put you in my suitcase and bring you here when we moved. I still say you’d have fit.” River grumbled.

“Mom told you not only would that be kidnapping, but it would also be inhumane.” Sage dryly remarked. “Now tell Leo goodbye. We don’t want to be late, plus it’s getting late there. Leo’s three hours in the future. BYE, FUTURE PERSON!” Sage’s voice grew louder at the end, so I could only imagine them leaning over River to scream into the phone.

“Sage is right. It is getting late. I don’t want to get caught on my phone… again. I don’t think I could take another month with no way to communicate with you.” I frowned, glancing at the clock seeing it was almost ten here on the east coast.

“Alright, fine. I don’t wanna go, but I’ll call you tomorrow and text you.” River conceded. “Bye, Bunno.”

“Night, Wolfie.“ I smiled. River may not be a werewolf, but they will always be my Wolfie, and I’ll always be their Bunno. I sighed as I turned my phone off and put it in my hidden charging area. Yes, I hide my phone even when it’s charging. You haven’t met my parents, so you don’t get how controlling they are.

Speaking of the controlling shits, I’m surprised one of them hasn’t strolled into my bedroom without knocking, by the way, to tell me I needed to go to bed. I found this change in their routine odd and decided to find out what may be keeping my wardens from their usual curfew rounds.

I had to be cautious as I avoided every squeaky floorboard in the hallway, especially past Oscar’s room. If that brat hears me, he would totally shout to our parents that I’m out of my room. He’s a total nark. He gets a twisted pleasure in rubbing it in my face that no matter how I feel, the pack will always see me as a female, and females are only good for one thing, according to our pack… breeding.

I wrinkled my nose just thinking about that. It’s like living in The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s bullshit, and I can’t believe the she-wolves all go along. Though I guess there are probably those that tried to stand up, to fight back, and ended up beaten into submission or dead. But then there are females like my mom who think this is how things should be—brainwashed much?

My ears perked as I carefully started down the stairs. I could hear my parents’ voices, more so my father’s, since obviously a female should be seen, not heard.


Honestly, if this is how all werewolf packs are run, I suddenly understand why there are rogues. Who in their right mind would want to be in a pack if this is how they treat you?

But it wasn’t my parents’ voices that got my attention. Hearing them in our house was to be expected. What had me confused and nervous was the voice of our Beta, Tucker Preston, aka Fucker Prickface. What is he doing at our house? And so late? Is the pack under attack or something? Maybe if we are, I could use the chaos as a distraction to get the fuck out of here.

“So then we agree. The full moon that Marybeth shifts, I will take her as my mate.” Fucker…. oops, I mean… Tucker stated, extending his hand to my father. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! I’M BEING TRADED LIKE DAMN CATTLE, OR THIS IS THE 1800S!!!!????

“Agreed, Beta Tucker.” My dad nodded, shaking Fucker’s hand with a smile. “I do warn you that Marybeth has some behavior problems. She spent too much time around humans and is under the false impression she’s this human construct of nonbinary and is adamant she’s not a female.”

“Don’t worry, Theodore. She’ll fall into line when I’ve marked her. She and her wolf will be submissive like a female ought to be. And if she isn’t, she’ll learn the hard way that the male is the one in power. She’ll be an ideal mate like her mother once she’s carrying my pup.” Fucker flashed a smug smile.

LIKE FUCKING HELL! I am NOT letting that piece of shit be my mate. Hell, even if he were my fated mate, I’d kill myself first! Nope. Nope. And oh, did I mention NO-MUTHA-FUCKING-PE! It took every ounce of self-control not to rush in and start throwing shit at their faces.

I had so much I wanted to say, okay, so much I wanted to scream but knew it would only get me locked in my room or worse, the basement until the full moon. How dare they try to sell me off to Fucker Prickface!? Or to anyone, for that matter? The Goddess gives us mates for a reason! How can we be a purist pack if we don’t even obey our Goddess?

This settles it. I am getting the hell out of this place before I shift. But when? I only have twenty days until the next full moon. As I contemplated how to escape, I crept back to my room. I wanted to call River or at least text them. I had to stop myself because I didn’t want there to be a way for my parents or others in the pack to find out my plans.

I hope that River can understand why I’m keeping them in the dark and will forgive me for all the secrets I’ve been keeping from them. I settled into bed and feigned being asleep when my mother checked on me. In reality, I was on my phone checking bus schedules for New Year. It would be the best time to run away. The pack always has a big fireworks show so that people will be distracted. I need to get the necessary herbs between now and then to cover my scent to give myself a head start.

Portland or Bust.

Chapter 2 - River

I don’t know what’s been going on with Leo recently. We’ve still been talking, but I can tell something is up. There’s something they aren’t saying. And I’m worried about them. I know what kind of wackos their parents are. Close-minded control freak fuck-nuggets. So I can only assume what they aren’t telling me is something about their parents.

That, of course, only makes me worry more. I remember these pricks grounded Leo for a month because they cut their BANGS! Leo cut their bangs and acted like Leo wiped their ass with the original copy of the Declaration of Independence. So whatever Leo is keeping from me could be bad. Would they hurt Leo? I don’t want to believe Leo’s parents would stoop to physical abuse. It’s bad enough that they abuse them psychologically.

“Whoa! River, turn down the light show! We’re not using powers. This is hand-to-hand combat.” David commanded as I suddenly realized I was being put into a full nelson to try and subdue me. My entire body was glowing like the sun blinding everyone else in the Bloodmoon training facility.

Crap. Lunar lost control again.

‘Oh, don’t start blaming me for that. You lost control, River. I’m still sitting over here because I listened. David said training today would not include wolves, so I’m only an observer.’ Lunar scoffed. ‘You’re the one whose mind wandered to Leo.’

I grumbled, instinctively trying to struggle out of David’s grasp. It wasn’t working in my favor as he tightened his grip—damn stupid stripper cop.

“River. Listen to me. I’m not looking to hurt you. Take calming breaths. Breath in, hold it, count to four, then let it out. Once you calm down, your power will too. And when you’re calm, I’ll let you go.” David instructed, his voice less authoritative.

I tried to do what he said. I was still annoyed, but with myself. It was my fault that I got distracted and lost control. I was focused on Leo, what might be wrong, and what their parents may have done. And because of it, my power got out of my control. It’s not on David. He’s just doing his job.

Not that this is his job. His job is to guard Luna Aurelia. This is a favor. He’s doing me a favor by training me. No slight against the Bloodmoon trainers, but I don’t mesh well with their way of training. And while Austin and Daddy Hale are always willing to train me, and they do when their schedules allow, training with David is slightly different. He’s pack, but he ain’t fam, so I know he’ll go harder.

I snickered at my innuendo. “Well, you shut down the light show and seem calmer. I don’t want to know what has you snickering. Your mind is a scary place, kiddo.” David shook his head, letting me gently go, so I flopped onto the mat rather than dropped.

I should be grateful for that. David could have just let me drop. Austin totally would have allowed me to fall and laughed at me for it. He’s an excellent big brother like that. Dad… yes, I sometimes slip and call him dad instead of Hale or Daddy Hale, so sue me… would have been all dad about it and made sure to set me on the ground. So David’s an excellent middle ground.

I sighed, rolling to my back and looking up at David. Like everyone else in this training facility, he’s in the Bloodmoon standard issue tearaway shorts and a muscle shirt. Unlike everyone else here, David’s the only one covered in ink and piercings. It was harder to tell when I met him a couple of years back since he was in his state trooper uniform. But in workout gear, it’s a game of where’s skin.

He’s got this incredible realistic grayscale full sleeve piece on his right arm of a mountainscape of a wolf pup sitting on a lake looking at the rippled reflection of a full-grown wolf. His legs are grayscale realistic mythology scenes featuring, you guessed it, wolves. His left sleeve is different, still grayscale, but it’s a Nightmare Before Christmas sleeve. And his back dude has a full-color Japanese Godzilla piece. And lastly, his chest piece is this grayscale twisted grove of branches that comes together to look like a guitar with a raven on the perched wings spread wide on the top.

I asked him once if there was anywhere he didn’t have a tattoo or piercing. His answer was his ass for both. I almost asked him if that meant his dick was tattooed or pierced, but mom heard the thought and clamped her hand over my mouth before I could say the words. It wasn’t a mystery for long since I had seen him naked after a shift since. FYI no ink on his dick, but it’s pierced. Something tells me that his blind mate likes it.

“Do you want to tell me what’s up?” David questioned, taking a seat next to me. “Sure, you and Sage are about as laser-focused as my ten-year-old, but not like this. You haven’t lost control of your power since the first few months of awakening your wolf. So, spill.” He nudged my leg with his foot.

I groaned, pressing the heels of my hands into my eyes. I’m not always good at talking shit through. I’ve been through enough shrinks to prove it. However, I’ve had some success with seeing Gamma Charles. He’s a good dude. Down to earth and possibly more patient than dad, which says a lot. David’s also good to talk to. I don’t feel like he’s judging me or that he thinks there’s something wrong with me that needs drugs to fix as all the human shrinks did.

‘Hey, what about me? Am I chopped liver? I’m in your head, so I know how you think and don’t think there’s anything wrong with you. And I offer my advice when you want it.’ Lunar pointed out.

‘And when I don’t.’ I snorted.

“I’m worried about Leo.” I finally admitted.

“Your long-distance they-friend?” David arched a pierced brow.

There are few things David would judge me about, and while he’s not outright judging, I know he has opinions about relationships that aren’t with your mate. And I get it. He’s told me his story. He dated a girl before he met Aislinn, and it was a shitshow. I want to tell him that Leo and I aren’t him and Cindy, but I don’t want to be a dick throwing his bad life choices at him. Plus, he’s just concerned for me, Leo, and whoever - if it’s not Leo- my mate could be.

“Yeah. Not in the mood to hear about how I shouldn’t even be keeping a close friendship with someone, least of all a human. But come on, there are two humans in Bloodmoon with fated mates. That’s gotta mean something, right? And I’m the kid of one of those humans. So maybe whatever made my mom special to get Daddy Hale as a mate and to bring Jason back is in me too. Maybe the Goddess will be on my side, and Leo will be it. Cause I don’t think I could love someone like I do Leo.” I ranted, getting to my feet as I started to get worked up.

“I’m not going to say anything. You aren’t me, and Leo isn’t my ex. I will suggest not getting your hopes up on a human mate. I watched Princess Hana’s heartbreak when none of the males in the pack was her mate. She was so heartbroken she went to college across the country.” David frowned, watching me pace around. “So let’s change the subject from mates. What about your friend got you all worked up and distracted?”

“Okay, soo… their parents are total fucking abusive drink the kool-aid cult assholes,” I growled, thinking about how they treated Leo before we moved and what they’ve told me since. “I don’t think they’ve ever physically hurt Leo, but I know they’ve psychologically abused them.”

“Like when Leo told their parents that they are nonbinary, they have refused to recognize it, which was years ago. They keep calling them by female pronouns, which is such bullshit. Just because Leo has a nice pair of tits doesn’t mean they get to use the wrong pronouns.” I snorted. “And worse, they call Leo by their eww name.” I wrinkled my nose.

“Ew name? I take it that Leo is their chosen name, and the ew name is what their parents gave them.” David nodded, quickly understanding. “Does Leo realize there are things legally they could do about their parents’ psychological abuse? Steps could be taken up to and including removing Leo from their custody.”

“Mom told Leo all about that stuff before we moved. With us moving, I think they lost the support system to attempt.” I frowned. But like a lightbulb went off in my head, I suddenly stopped and got down on the mat, grabbing David by the shirt.

I questioned him urgently. “But you’re a cop, so you’d know what we could do. Do you have connections to people in the Boston area? People that could help Leo? That could check on them? Cause I’m worried.”

“Whoa… relax.” David sighed, prying my hands off his shirt. “I can ask around. I don’t personally know anyone over there, but I can check into it. If all else fails, I could check local packs in the state to see if anyone I know from my guard duty is a cop.” David offered.

“Seriously? You’re awesome!” I grinned, launching myself at him in a hug.

“Okay… you’re welcome. Now get off me.” David grunted, shoving me off him like I weighed nothing.

“Sorry, I got excited. If you can find a way to get Leo away from them, that would be awesome. They’ve been acting weird recently, and I fear something bad happened, but they are afraid to tell me because their parents might hear. And I mean, these are the nutters who grounded Leo for a month because they cut their bangs!” I huffed.

“Okay, that’s fucked up. If my parents grounded me for every bad hairstyle choice I made… shit I’d have spent all of high school in my room. Cause let me tell you, my pop was not impressed when I went rainbow mohawk with straight razor-shaved sides.” David snickered, shaking his head.

I cocked my head, trying to picture him with a rainbow mohawk. “I need photo evidence of this!” I demanded.

“You got to the same high school I did, kiddo. The library keeps all the yearbooks. Otherwise, my parents probably have plenty of pictures. I don’t have any of them cause most involved my ex, and I purged myself of everything dealing with her when I found Aislinn.” David shrugged.

“I’ll have to check that out when school is back after the new year.” I grinned, eager to tell Sage about the rainbow mohawk and that David is willing to try and help Leo get away from their parents. “So, are we good for today?” I asked.

“Yeah, go home. You’ll be too distracted to train anyway.” David waved his hand to dismiss me.

“Later, Stripper Dave!” I shouted as I ran across the training center. I know it will annoy him, and that makes me smile more. But not nearly as much as I smile, thinking that I may have just set into motion the path to Leo’s freedom from their parents.

Chapter 3 - Leo

River knows I’m hiding something. I feel terrible about it, but I can’t risk even texting them what is going on. First, how can I tell River that my parents are essentially trying to make me some creepy thirty-something’s child bride? Cause that’s how a human would see it. And I know River would freak. I don’t want them to freak out and act irrationally.

I know them. So I understand that when River lets their emotions run the show, they do things that place themselves and others in danger. Like when they got into that fight with a neighbor kid and the kid’s mom before they moved. It landed them in trouble, and they had to stay in a psycho ward. I don’t want them to do anything dangerous. I don’t want River or their family to get hurt. Me running away is hazardous enough. If my parents and pack find out I’m running to them, it will get a lot worse.

And that thought makes me apprehensive even now as I’m packing to escape when the fireworks start. Am I doing the right thing? Shifting alone is dangerous. Being a rogue is dangerous. And I’ve never had a day of formal training in my life. Silvermane only trains the males how to fight. I’ve done some training on my own. But I don’t know how much of a chance I stand against anyone in a fight. I would have to depend on my wolf.

My wolf is another factor. I don’t know how they’ll handle me running away and being rogue. I’ve been trying to focus and connect with them since I turned sixteen, but it’s been radio silence. This worries me because I know for a fact I should start hearing my wolf, at least in my sleep. So why can’t I hear my wolf? Does my wolf not want to talk to me? Am I a disappointment already?

“Marybeth!?” My mom’s voice shouted up the stairs. I sighed, knowing there was no going back. I shoved the wad of cash I’d been saving for years into my knapsack. It wouldn’t look too suspicious as I threw a blanket over it. I usually bring it with some drinks and snacks for watching the fireworks.

“It’s about time you got down here. And what are you wearing?” Mom huffed at seeing me in baggy jeans and an oversized hoodie. “I put a cute outfit out for you. Why aren’t you wearing it?”

“This is comfy and warm. The outfit you picked isn’t even my size.” I rolled my eyes. Of course, she doesn’t know what size clothes I wear. She doesn’t care. She has a set size she feels I should be, and nothing else is okay. “Can we just go already?”

“We need to wait for your brother and father. They had some last-minute tasks to handle.” Mom waved a dismissive hand at me. “Which gives you time to change into something feminine. You’re a girl, and you need to dress like one. You’ll have your wolf soon and be able to have a mate. No male wants a female that dresses like that.” She wrinkled her nose.

I let out a sigh of relief when the door opened, and dad walked in with Oscar. This may be the first and last time I have been relieved to see either of their dumb faces. Dad is a stickler about being prompt, so I’m banking on his OCD to get me out of having to go back upstairs to change into something stupid.

“What are you two standing around for? We need to go. People are expecting us.” Dad barked, gesturing us to move. Mom quickly jumped to attention and practically shoved me out the door, with Oscar snickering as I almost slipped on some ice.

“Don’t break your neck yet, klutz. You haven’t even been useful to the family, let alone the pack.” Oscar scoffed, shoving past me to get into the car. Fucking asshole. I would bet money he’s aware of dad’s plans for me. I still can’t believe they want to sell me to Fucker Prickface.

As we drove to the field to watch the fireworks, I reminded myself of the plan. Just before the fireworks begin, I will say I’m going to use the bathroom. While in the bathroom, I will spray myself with the scent masking spray, then I sneak out the back using the distraction of the fireworks to make my escape. Then it’s only a three-mile run to the bus stop. Then I spend three days on a greyhound till I reach Portland. I am leaving my family and ass-backward pack chasing their tails trying to find me. Fucker Prickface can find a new mate to force himself on.

It was all going according to plan until Fucker showed up as I stood up. “Where are you going, Marybeth?” He questioned. I could tell he wasn’t thrilled by how he looked at me. I’m not the sort of person he wants. Maybe he should be reconsidering his choice.

“Leo. My name is Leo.” I barely contained my growl. I hate when people call me Marybeth. I swear as soon as I’m eighteen, I’ll legally change it, and until then, once I have my wolf, I’ll rip out the voiceboxes of anyone who calls me that eww name. “And if you need details, I’m going to take a shit. So why don’t you get out of my way.”

Was it the best idea to get mouthy with Tucker? Probably not. He is over a foot taller than me, older, stronger, and the Beta of the pack. The only person here who wouldn’t jump to obey his command is the Alpha and Luna. I don’t need him to be paying any closer attention to me tonight. It will throw off my schedule, and I cannot miss this bus. There won’t be another until morning, and I can’t wait that long.

“Marybeth, do not be disrespectful,” Dad growled, raising his hand to slap me. Just before his hand would connect to my shock Fucker stopped him.

“No need to mar such a pretty face, Theodore.” Fucker smiled and reached with his free hand to try and touch me. I quickly stepped back and ducked around him. No way am I letting that creep touch me.

“Yeah… while thanks for stopping child abuse, keep your hands to yourself.” I scoffed as I hurried in the direction of the bathrooms. I didn’t even look back. I didn’t dare. I’m sure they were watching me with narrowed eyes.

I locked the bathroom door and ensured no one was hiding in any of the stalls before I felt safe to take out the scent masking spray bottle. “Here goes nothing. This better be worth the money I spent at that witch in town.” I muttered as I sprayed myself from head to toe, my bag and everything in it.

“Goddess, if you’re listening. Please help me. Please help me escape. You can’t want this for your people. To have the females of our species forced to be marked and basically become sex slaves to a male you didn’t intend her for. So while I make my escape, protect me.” I prayed, pulling my hood up as I crept out of the bathroom.

The first booms of the fireworks exploding in the sky were my cue. With everyone looking at the sky with their ears covered to not deal with the intense sound, I made my way out of the park. I kept a leisurely pace at first, not wanting to draw attention. But once I knew I was away from the park, I started to run. To run like my life was on the line because it is.

I only slowed when my lungs started to hurt. Fuck I need to run more. When I have my wolf, I’ll run more. I’m sure they’ll want to go for runs nightly. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, feeling someone watching me. Cautiously I looked around and saw eyes watching me from the forest edge. Pack patrol! I kept my head down and started walking again, fingers and toes crossed, hoping they wouldn’t scent me and just let me keep going.

I let out a sigh of relief when I realized they weren’t following me. The masking spray was working. Patrol doesn’t care why a human would be running. Even if a human were in danger, they wouldn’t have intervened. The fewer humans in the world, the better. That’s how the pack sees it. I walked for a while until I caught my breath and started to run again, not stopping until I got to the bus station.

I didn’t relax until I was safely seated and the bus was in motion. I’m sure I looked suspicious as fuck to people at the bus station as I kept looking around, fearful that I was going to be found. I don’t care. I’m not taking any chances. I’m getting away from Silvermane, and I am NEVER coming back.

I ignored the person next to me as I dug out a pen and a postcard on which I’d already filled our River’s address. I can’t tell them via electronic means what’s happening, but I can send this at our next stop and hope it reaches them before I do. If not, I’ll explain in person why I’m there and haven’t responded to calls, texts, or emails for days.

Chapter 4 - River

I’m seriously freaking out. It’s been over twenty-four hours since I last talked to Leo. It may sound like something minor to you, but it’s not to me. Leo last texted me that they were being forced to attend the local fireworks display for New Year with their douchey family. That was it. Radio silence ever since.

I tried to call and text them at midnight on the east coast to wish them a happy New Year. Leo didn’t answer my call, and my text was left unseen. I may be coming off as a total creep, but I’ve sent multiple texts, voice mails, and emails, not to mention DMs on various social media. None of them have gotten me an answer.

Right now, my gut is telling me something is seriously wrong. Leo would never ignore me. At least not willingly. Their parents must have done something like maybe they took Leo’s phone and computer away. I wouldn’t put it past them. Leo’s parents suck donkey balls, but this doesn’t feel like that. Something is wrong.

“Mom, please call them. Call Leo’s parents. Something is wrong. I feel it.” I demanded, practically shoving her phone into her hands. “Something bad must have happened. Please.”

“River….” Mom sighed, hesitant for a moment as she took the phone. She’s got to back me on this. I’m giving her my best puppy eyes and pout. Yes, I am stooping to pouting. I need her to make the call. As an adult, they might listen to her, tell her more, and even let her talk to Leo.

“Alright. I will call the Hanley family. I would rather not start my year by talking to them, but you are so worked up. Once we confirm that Leo is perfectly safe, you will drop it and have to wait until they are ungrounded to talk to them.” Mom sighed, unlocking her phone.

Her eyes went all googly as she looked at her background picture. It was of her and dad from a hike in the fall. Admittedly, it’s a good picture, but now is not the time for her to get all lovey-dovey about her mate. “Focus, mom! You can get all weird about a picture of you and dad later.” I rolled my eyes.

“No need to place that call.” Dad interrupted, taking the phone from mom’s hands as she looked for the Hanley’s home phone in her contacts.

“What does that mean? Leo could be in trouble. I need to know they are okay. This is the only way.” I demanded, growling, feeling my control starting to slip.

‘Get a grip, River. Or I’m taking over, so we don’t use my power against your parents.’ Lunar warned.

“I know, River. Calling them won’t do us any good. I already know that Leo is in trouble.” Dad sighed, putting a hand on my shoulder. “There’s an Amber Alert for them.” He explained, holding up his phone to show the alert.

I furrowed my brow, trying to focus on the words. It was a jumble and not because of my dyslexia. If there is an Amber Alert, that means Leo is missing. Leo is in danger. My Bunno is out there where they could be hurt or worse. My brain was overloaded, and my control was long gone.

I felt myself falling into darkness, into a pit of despair as my mind thought of all the possible things that could have happened. I was only faintly aware of the voices around me. I could hear mom and dad calling out to me, but they sounded so far away. Even Lunar sounded like he was miles away.

‘RIVER! WAKE THE FUCK UP!’ Lunar shouted, sounding strained and distant.

“They’re too overwhelmed by the news. I’ll keep us in control while I try to pull them out of this. Just tell me what you know and what can be done.” Lunar was calm as he spoke to my parents.

“Leo was reported missing last night. Based on the story, it is believed they were abducted from a local New Years’ Eve event. They were last seen at a Greyhound bus station in Buffalo, where local police had followed them after a lead reported seeing Leo get on a bus. They believe the kidnapper forced them onto the bus. But after seeing the police have sought alternate means of travel.” Dad explained, reading off his phone.

I could hear every word; the more he talked, the clearer things got. None of that made sense. I mean, sure, Leo is cute as hell, so someone may want to kidnap them, but Leo wouldn’t just go willingly with anyone. They may be small, but they are as fierce as their name. No way. But even if it’s true, I need to find them all the more.

“Then I’m going to Buffalo.” I suddenly spoke up, pushing forward, taking back control from Lunar.

“River, we should leave this to the police. This isn’t like when we lived nearby, and you knew all of Leo’s hiding places. This could be very serious, and I know you’re worried about them, but you rushing in could put Leo in more danger.” Mom tried to rationalize.

I shook my head. “No, mom. I need to find them. I need to find Leo. If they are in danger, if someone did kidnap them, I can handle it. I can deal with a kidnapper. I’ve spent the last two years learning to fight, and I have Lunar. No kidnapper would stand a chance. No one stands between my Bunno and me.”

I didn’t wait for them to respond. I was already heading for the door. “Dude? What’s going on? River, where ya going?” Sage called out as they came downstairs.

“To get my Bunno.” I snorted, yanking the door open, my mind focused only on my goal. So focused, I ran right into the hard chest of Stripper David. I need to get stronger because if running into him makes me stagger and he does not budge, it’s not a good sign.

“Slow your roll, kiddo.” David sighed, putting a hand on my shoulder to steady me. “Let me guess, saw a recent Amber Alert for a Marybeth Hanley?” David arched a pierced brow.

“How…” I frowned. “Don’t use that name. Their name is Leo.” I growled, realizing he used Leo’s eww name.

“Yes. I just saw it and brought it up to River and Erin. Do you know more?” Dad questioned, coming up behind me.

“Wait, Leo’s missing?! When did that happen? Are they okay?” Sage started shouting out questions.

“Let’s all sit down, and I’ll explain,” David suggested. I don’t want to sit. I want to get out there and find Leo. I want to find them right the fuck NOW.

“Go sit down, River. What I have to say is important.” David instructed, more firm in his voice.

“Come on, and we’ll hear what David has to say. Then we will think of a plan and do what we can to help your friend.” Dad assured me, putting an arm around my shoulders to guide me back to the living room. Once we were all seated, David stood in front of the tv.

“I told you I’d check up on your friend. And I don’t say things that I don’t mean. So I dug into it and pulled a couple of favors.” David began. “So first off, your friend is a werewolf. They are part of a purist pack called the Silvermane.”

Way to drop an atomic bomb! Leo’s a werewolf too!? What are the odds? I was shocked I didn’t even have words. “Holy fuck…” I managed to utter.

“So if Leo is a werewolf, like us, they may be River’s mate! That’s even more reason we need to find them. Leo turned sixteen recently. They’d be able to know if they are mates now.” Sage started bouncing on their end of the sofa excitedly.

I’m excited about the possibility. Leo has to be my mate. It explained why what I feel for them is so intense. And although Lunar has never met them, he doesn’t get all snarky about Leo and my feelings for them. Lunar will get snarky and snarl at people here that have tried to flirt with me, making his stance on them very apparent.

“That’s even more reason I need to go find Leo. If someone took them, I will kill them.” I growled and started to stand up, only for David to shove me back.

“I’m not done.” He growled low.

“Silvermane is a fucked up pack. Alpha and Luna do not like them. The only time we went there, the Alpha was insulting to Luna Aurelia and nearly lost his face for his audacity. Fucker is lucky Beta John was there to hold Alpha Logan back. It took both Mikali and me to pull Luna Aurelia back after she claws out bitch slapped the Alpha out of his chair.” He sighed.

“Given the way Theodore and Jane behaved, I can imagine that their pack is jammed-packed of sexist pieces of shit who think anyone who doesn’t conform to their views is wrong, stupid, and needs to be put in what they deem their place.” Mom scoffed.

“Yeah, let’s just say rushing into Silvermane territory isn’t in pack interest. But despite the impression Luna Aurelia left….” David smirked. “I made connections with a few of their patrols who are tired of how the pack is run. When I put feelers out, they are the ones that told me your Leo is one of them. Leo wasn’t kidnapped. They ran.”

“They ran away from home?! I mean, I shouldn’t be as surprised as I sound. But why wouldn’t they tell me? I’d have helped them.” I frowned.

“From what you’ve said about their parents, I can see why they’d keep it tight-lipped. They wouldn’t want anyone to find out their plans. And given what I learned, I don’t blame the kid for running.” David frowned.

“Why? What happened? Did their fuckwad parents hurt them?” I questioned, once again having too much pent-up energy to stay seated.

“No. At least not yet. Silvermane is a fucked up place that emphasizes purity. Meaning werewolf purity. Males can seek their fated mate and bring them back to the pack. Females aren’t. They will be handed off to a mate chosen for her within the pack that didn’t find their mate.” David wrinkled his nose in disgust.

“It’s part of why we will never do business with them. Bloodmoon takes the mate bond seriously, so forcing a bond on a female makes Alpha and Luna’s blood boil.” He frowned. “And your Leo was recently promised to the thirty-one-year-old unmated Beta of the pack, Tucker Prescot.”

“I’LL KILL THEM! I’LL KILL LEO’S PARENTS! I’LL KILL FUCKER PRESCUNT!” I growled, blinded by rage, as I started for the door. I didn’t get far as I was yanked back by the collar.

“Slow the hell down, River. We have to be smart about this, and I told you I have more to say.” David rolled his eyes, holding me in place. “My contacts watched as Leo left the pack’s New Year celebration. They watched them to the bus station and ensured they were safely on a bus.”

“When no one in the pack could say anything about Leo’s whereabouts, the family went to the human police. That’s how they tracked Leo to Buffalo, where their bus was supposed to take a break before getting on the road. The bus they were on was heading for Portland. Leo’s parents probably know that. Probably suspect you were in on their kid going AWOL. I don’t know if they’d come here and risk crossing Bloodmoon, but it’s possible.” David sighed.

“So then what do we do? Leo is out there. They recently turned sixteen, and the full moon is coming! How often have you and others stressed how dangerous it is to be a rogue and shift alone?” I demanded, trying to wiggle free.

“That is why I went to Alpha. You and Hale are to come with me so we can try to find Leo now that they have had to find another way to get here. Austin, Suzie, Sage, and your mom will stay here to ensure if somehow Leo gets past us or tries to contact you here, someone can handle it.” David instructed.

I blinked, not having expected that. “What are you standing here for? Pack a bag. My jeep is out front. We have a lot of miles to cover if we are going to find Leo.” David smirked, letting my shirt go.

“Hell yes! Let’s go find my Bunno!” I pumped my fist in the air before I ran upstairs to grab a bag.

Chapter 5 - Leo

In the far reaches of my mind, I could hear my parents and even my brother screaming at me in our family link. They realized I was gone. And the longer I ignored them, the angrier they got. Do I care? Not even a little. Fuck them! I’m free, and I’m staying that way. If I had my wolf, I’d have happily renounced the Silvermane pack. And when I shift on the full moon, I will do just that and truly be FREE!

I managed to get some sleep after I wrote my postcard to River. I didn’t go into details, just in case. Mostly telling them, I’ll be seeing them soon and how I can’t wait to start this year together. I grumbled awake as the driver made a garbled announcement about arriving in Buffalo. I squinted, looking out the window. It’s not much to look at, but it’s not Silvermane, and that’s what matters.

I ensured I had all my stuff as I exited the bus to stretch my legs, grab food, and mail my postcard. Even though I’m miles away from the pack, I can’t help but keep my eyes peeled. My family knows I’m gone, and blocking them in the link doesn’t mean it’s out of the realm of possibilities that they could find me. It isn’t like the pack is lacking in connections.

They may not like humans, but they aren’t above using them for their own means. I kept my hood up and head down as I moved around the bus station. I found the mailbox, so my postcard is now on its way to River. I hope I’ll get to them before it does. As long as everything goes according to plan, I’ll be arriving in Portland on Saturday, and I’ll use a payphone… are those still a thing or just something in movies? Whatever. I’ll figure out a way to call River or walk my ass to their house.

I’d just grabbed something to eat from one of the vendors, and I started noticing more cops roaming the building. My heart started beating faster in fear that they were after me. Once again, I tried to make myself as small and inconspicuous as possible. Not that making myself small is a problem. I’m already short. But you know what I mean. I want to be invisible.

Cautiously moving through the crowd, I caught a glimpse of a photo the cops were showing to people. It’s ME! Leave it to my parents to give them a picture that I HATE! They forced me to dress up super feminine. My mom did my hair and makeup. Overall it makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. Dressed the way I am, I look nothing like that photo. I may like pink but not when like that. I guess it’s a good thing in a way.

I had a couple of close calls of the cops looking at me, but as I got closer to my bus, I thought I was in the clear. I knew I shouldn’t have let my guard down. I yelped as someone grabbed my hoodie, yanking my hood down. “There you are, Marybeth. We were all so worried about you.” Fucker Prickface sneered, his hot breath reeking of stale beer and cigarettes.

I cringed, nose wrinkling as I tried to duck out of his hold and escape his halitosis. “My name is Leo.” I snarled, stomping his foot as I slammed my elbow into his ribs. As he groaned, his grip on me loosening, I slipped out of my hoodie and started dodging and weaving through people looking for an escape.

My eyes widened in terror as I spotted my dad and others from the pack rushing after me with human cops. “Stop! That’s my daughter!” Dad shouted. I shuddered as he called me his daughter. It isn’t even just misgendering. It’s the general statement—the claiming of ownership. I’m not property! I am a person who will not stand by and watch sick fucks like him decide my life.

So much for my bus ticket. I will have to find another way to get to River now. I ran like my life depended on it, using the crowd to try and escape my dad and the others. I stopped a cab and dived in as a guy opened the door, ready to take the taxi for himself. “I need it more.” I half apologized as I yanked the door shut.

“Where to kid?” The driver questioned.

“Just away from here. And hurry.” I insisted while my brain was still trying to formulate a new course of action. My bus ticket was now useless. I can’t just get back on and won’t get a refund either. The cab driver shrugged and started driving while I counted my money to figure out another way to get to Portland.

“Can you take me to the nearest Amtrak?” I figured a train might be my next best bet to get to Portland. It might be more expensive, but it’s not like walking will be a good option either. I have to be more careful.

“You got it, kid.” He nodded. At least he wasn’t asking a ton of questions. I bet he has plenty, but I don’t feel like answering any of them. I want to get more distance between the pack and me. I won’t feel safe until I’m with River.

“Here you go. And kid, whatever or whoever you’re running from… good luck. Maybe change up your look.” He nodded as I handed him some cash. It’s not a bad idea. Changing my look may help me hide better. And I should reapply what I have left of that scent masking spray.

With this thought in mind, I went into a convenience store nearby and bought a pair of scissors, hair bleach, and then some hot pink hair dye. The bleach is to lighten my hair, so I get the pink I want. I will finally have the hair I WANT, and I think it will make for a perfect first step to my new life of freedom.

Taking everything back to the train station, I bought my ticket, the farthest I could get was to Chicago, but I’ll figure it out. I took my bag of hair products into the bathroom since I had time to kill before my train would depart. I made sure to use the family bathroom so I could lock it and not worry about other people just coming in as they pleased.

I was grinning like a fool as I tied my long hair back with a rubber band to about shoulder length. I can imagine the horror look on my mother’s face if she could see this. She has a sick obsession with my hair which is why it’s down to my back. I HATE it! It’s way too much maintenance to keep my hair this long. And my hair is thicker and curly, so I never understood why she wanted to keep it long. It probably gave her a sense of control over me and enforced some feminine ideals.

It was like a weight lifted literally and figuratively from my shoulders as the scissors snipped through my thick locks. It’s a good thing no one can come into this bathroom. They would think I’m a psycho as I stand here, scissors in one hand, a chunk of hair in the other, grinning like a maniac. I shook my head and giggled as I watched my hair flutter across my shoulders.

“This is amazing! I love this! I mean, sure, it could be a better cut, and maybe when I have time, I’ll go to a professional, but this will work. Now to lighten my hair so then I can dye it pink. I can’t wait to see how this goes. I hope River likes the result as much as I do. They love me no matter what. So I’m sure they will love me with shoulder-length pink hair.

It took a few hours between lightening my hair and then dying it. But by the time my train was ready to board, I looked like a brand new me. I don’t think I’ve been happier than I am right now. I finally feel like me. This is the Leo Hanley I’ve always been and wanted to show the world. Marybeth Hanley is dead and never resurrected. I made sure to burn my old hair and used the scent cover spray.

The train ride was peaceful, at least for the first few hours. Somewhere around the seven-hour mark, it took a turn. All around me, people’s phones were buzzing and going off with an alert. I suddenly really missed my phone. I know not bringing it was strategic to avoid being tracked, but without it, I’ve lost my way of knowing what’s happening in the outside world.

“Excuse me, ma’am. But what’s happening?” I quietly asked the woman sitting next to me.

“Huh? Didn’t your phone get the alert?” She blinked at me like I was an alien for even asking.

“No, ma’am. My phone has been broken since Buffalo. I’m hoping to replace it when I get to Chicago.” I quickly made up a lie.

“Oh… well, I hope you get it replaced quickly. Being without a cell phone can be the difference between life and death.” The woman tisked. “Especially when traveling alone. Do you have family picking you up when we reach Chicago?” She frowned.

“Oh, I’m okay on my own, ma’am. And I’m changing trains to head west. I’m going to visit my Aunt.” I lied, trying to stay vague while using details to be believable.

“I see. Why didn’t you fly? It would have been much faster than sending a child by train across the country.” She questioned. Oh crap. Please don’t let her realize I’m lying.

“Oh, well, I have a fear of flying. It’s awful, so this was the better solution than someone driving me across the country.” I shrugged. “But back to the alert. What happened?” I asked, hoping to get her back on the subject.

“Oh right… A little girl was kidnapped from Massachusetts.” She explained, turning her phone enough so I could see the Amber Alert. I did my best to hide my terror and horror at the picture the police in Buffalo had been showing on her screen with details about me, and more so not to wrinkle my nose as I read my eww name.

“Oh, that’s horrible. I hope the authorities find the girl.” I nodded, hoping I sounded convincing.

“I hope so too. A dangerous place for a sweet young girl like her. I’m going to pray they find her safe and sound soon.” She nodded, putting her phone away.

“Yes. I agree. I’m sure they will.” I nodded. Outside I hoped I was coming off as cool as a cucumber. Because inside, I was freaking out. The whole country would have gotten his alert if people on the train were getting it. So River or their mom and new dad have seen it. If they’ve seen it, I can only imagine River has gone into a frenzy. I hope they don’t do anything stupid.

Chapter 6 - River


The last time I was on a road trip was when we moved here. And then it was a long ass trip with my mom and twin. It was so BORING and as excited as I was about moving, I was still broken hearted that I was leaving Leo behind.

This time I’m in a jeep with David and dad, heading to find Leo. Miles seems to tick by in a blink as I’m equally eager and anxious about reaching my Bunno. I swear to whoever is listening that if something happens to Leo, like if they get hurt, I am ripping throats, starting with their parents.

“Okay… I’m going to take control of my radio.” David sighed, turning the radio down as it blared Skrillex’s Squad Out from my playlist.

“But you said I could DJ on our road trip.” I pouted.

If I thought anyone would complain about my choice of music and the volume, it would be Dad. I’ve seen his records. Yes, I mean records. He has vinyl, which would be cool if he had better taste. I like his Nirvana records, but that’s about it. I thought David would be cooler, I’ve looked through his Spotify, and he’s got some cool bands.

“Well, I want to check my phone for new messages. I can’t do that if your phone is connected to my system. Remember, I have an informant in the Silvermane pack. I need to know if there has been any news.” David explained.

“I think we can survive without your music for a little bit, River.” Dad chuckled from the back seat. I’m not sure if that’s a knock on my choice of music. But I won’t call him on it.

He’s been incredible and supportive of Sage and me since he met us. I know when we thought Leo was human, he was concerned about getting my hopes too high that they were my mate. I mean, shit, I bet if Alpha Logan didn’t organize this road trip, he’d be on it anyways to be here for me.

But now it’s different. Leo is a werewolf too! The chances of them being my mate have skyrocketed. It would make sense why we both felt an instant connection even before all this. Our souls already knew we were meant to be. My gut tells me Leo is mine. And since Lunar isn’t offering up any objections, I think he’s on board with it, too, though he is holding out till we find Leo and know for sure.

“Fine. Let’s see if your inside guy knows anything new.” I agreed as I disconnected my Bluetooth. The moment David’s phone was connected, the computer voice started talking.

“Five new messages from Ryan.”

“Message one.”

“Leo was found and nearly captured by Tucker.”

“Message two.”

“We lost their scent outside the bus depot. But a pissed-off guy identified them as having taken their taxi.”

“Message three.”

“Tucker would not be deterred. Tracked the cab. The driver was reluctant to speak but gave up where they dropped them. Amex train station.”

“Message four.”

“No one matching Leo’s picture was identified in the train station or having boarded any trains.”

“Message Five.”

“I dug deeper. Keeping it from Tucker as long as he doesn’t use Beta command. Leo has changed their hair and is on a train to Chicago.”

That was a LOT to take in. A rollercoaster of emotions with each message this Ryan left. My heart was in my throat the whole time and only made a slight descent when he said Leo got away and was heading to Chicago. But how long until Fucker Prescunt gets that information out of Ryan?

“How long ago did all this happen? I assume it was before or during the Amber Alert, as those don’t go out so easily.” Dad questioned, leaning forward to look at the monitor.

“Let me check, Chief.” David nodded with a smirk as dad rolled his eyes. “Text Ryan.”

“Texting Ryan. What is the message?”

“ When did the train leave?”

“I got; When did the train leave? Do you want to send or change the message?”


“Okay. Message sent.”

“Here’s hoping he is checking his phone often.” I frowned. “How far are we from Chicago?” I asked, looking around, trying to check for any signs.

“Something like another fourteen hundred miles.” Dad sighed, checking his phone. “A train from Buffalo to Chicago would take fourteen hours. It’s already been ten since we got the Amber Alert.”

I rubbed my temples, trying even to figure out the math here. Word problems were never my strong suit. And I don’t like the idea of word math problems that deal with the safety of my bunno. It doesn’t just hurt my head but my heart. We need to find them. I need to get them like yesterday.

“New message from Ryan.” The computer voice interrupted us.

“Train departed the station thirteen hours ago. Tucker knows. We are en route to Chicago. How far are you?”

“Do you want to reply?”

“Yes.” David quickly answered.

“Okay, what is your message?”

“We are just passing Billings, Montana. Eighteen hours unless I turn on the lights.”

The computer repeated the message before David confirmed to send it.

“Can we do that? Like is that allowed? Would we get in trouble or something?” I asked. Do I want him to turn on the police lights and forget all traffic laws to get us there faster? Well fucking DUH. I want to go warp speed.

“I could, but I don’t recommend it.” David frowned.

“What does that mean? It would get us there faster. Would it get you in trouble?” I asked, furrowing my brow, trying to understand.

“I throw my lights on, and I’ll be expected to explain the emergency if another law enforcement officer spots us. If I tell them we have a lead on an Amber Alert….” David sighed, letting me fill in the blank.

“That clues Fucker Prescunt and Leo’s douchebag dad in that we know where Leo is and are coming for them.” I groaned. Right now, we have the element of surprise. They don’t know we are coming. If they find out we are coming and know the details, they’ll know we have someone on the inside.

“Exactly, and we can’t let that happen. That puts Leo, my inside guy Ryan and us in danger. So I’m going to go as fast as possible, but I won’t hit the lights. Not unless we are desperate and know Leo has been hurt or captured. Right now, they are on a train safe.” David nodded.

“New message from Ryan.”

“Tucker is taking no chances. He had called the police in Chicago. They will be looking for Leo. We are three hours from Chicago.”

“Ug, I wish I was better at math problems. Does that mean Leo gets there before them? That they might be able to get away?” I asked, looking from David to dad.

“Yes. Leo’s train should be arriving in Chicago about now based on when they left and what the Amex Train site tells me. If they continue by train, the next train from Chicago that would head to Portland won’t leave for another three hours.” Dad frowned.

“So if Leo realizes the police are onto them, they might have to run for it and change transportation methods. I don’t know how much money the kid has. They’d have lost money on their bus ticket and still need to buy another ticket to get to Portland from Chicago.” David frowned.

“So… they’d have to go on the run, literally? Like having to evade cops on foot in a city, they don’t know.” I frowned. I do not like how any of this sounds. I wish Lunar could teleport.

‘I do too. But we have to work with what we’ve got.’ Lunar scoffed in my head. He was pacing around. So at least I’m not the only one who’s agitated and feels caged.

‘Of course, I’m agitated, and unlike you, I’m literally caged. You’re at least in control. I’m totally on the sidelines here. And I want to know if this Leo is our mate. And if they are, I’m ripping Tucker Prescott’s throat out after I remove all their appendages for daring to claim what is mine.’ Lunar growled, his eyes glowing with anger.

“Okay… settle down, River. Get your wolf under control too. I do not need a light show blinding me from the passenger seat.” David encouraged me as I felt dad’s hands press on my shoulders from behind me.

“It’s okay, River. It’s okay, Lunar. We will find Leo. And if anyone has harmed them, they will be dealt with severely. But we can’t lose our heads. We are here to save Leo and can’t do that if we lose our heads.” Dad calmly assured me.

“Okay….” I nodded, trying to do the breathing exercises. I have to stay focused. Leo needs me.

I blinked as my phone started to buzz. I frowned, looking at the unknown number. Who the hell could be calling me from an unknown number? I swear if this is spam.

“Hello?” I arched my brow, not sure whose voice would be answering me.

“WOLFIE!” Leo exclaimed in joy and relief.

“BUNNO!” I shouted back, nearly dropping my phone in my excitement.

“I don’t have much time. And I’m sorry to be doing this to you. But I’m in major trouble. I’m stuck in Chicago and don’t have enough money to get anywhere, and there are cops after me. Dad has gone off the deep end.” Leo hurriedly explained while still keeping their secret of being a werewolf.

It was kind of cute that they were still keeping the pretenses. But of course, they don’t know I am one too.

“I know. I saw the Amber Alert. Me, dad, and a friend are coming to try and get you. Um… we have a lot to talk about, but….” I started to explain before the phone was taken from me.

“Leo, this is Hale. Here is what you are going to do. Go to the ticket counter, tell them you are Leo Shelton and that your dad Hale Shelton purchased you a ticket to Minneapolis with a card ending in 8679. The train leaves in fifteen minutes. Get on the train and keep your head down. We will meet you in Minneapolis.” Dad outlined.

I grinned from ear to ear. It seems dad was already taking action. “Thank you.” I mouthed as he handed me the phone back.

“Okay, I got it. Thank you, Mister Shelton.” Leo sounded almost in tears.

“I’ll tell him you said thanks, Bunno. Now go. Don’t miss the train. I’ll see you soon.” I sighed, feeling relief that maybe something was going to go right.

“Okay. Love you, Wolfie. See you soon.” Leo said before the call ended.

“How far are we from Minneapolis?” I asked David.

“Seven hours. How long is the train ride?” He glanced back at dad in the rearview.

“Eight. So it should time out well.” Dad nodded. I sighed, glad we had a plan and that I would be able to hold Leo in eight hours.

Chapter 7 - Leo

That Amber Alert has me on edge. I keep reminding myself that I’m safe on the train. No one knows I got on the train. Well, the cab driver knew I had gone to the train station. But he wouldn’t know what train I took, plus I changed my hair and used the last of my scent-covering spray. So even if the pack found the cab driver and told them where he dropped me off, they wouldn’t know what train I got on. My scent might, at best, lead them to the store where and then the bathroom at the train station.

Oh, fuck! If they followed my scent to the store, they might discover I had bought the dye. Crap! This isn’t good. Dad won’t give up quickly, and Fucker seems to be set on me for some stupid ass reason. Why can’t he leave me alone and find his actual mate and let me find mine? Though I’d feel bad for whomever his mate is. Why would the Goddess pair any soul with that scumbag?

I felt like I was sweating so bad that the lady next to me could notice as my mind went through all these worst-case scenarios. I know inside me there is an optimist. A person that believes this will all work out. The optimist deep inside my head says I’ll get there, and I won’t see any cops or pack members waiting for me. My pessimist side, of course, is winning and calling the optimist a dumbass.

Getting off the train in Chicago, my pessimist side was smug when I noticed an odd number of cops at the station. And fuck my life, they are all walking around with that fucking picture from the Amber Alert. I ducked my head, keeping my hood up as an officer approached the lady I’d been sitting with on the train.

“Ma’am, we have reason to believe that this missing girl was traveling on this train. Did you see a girl that looks like this?” He questioned.

The woman peered closer at the image. “Oh, the Amber Alert girl. No, I didn’t see her on board. But it was a pretty full train.”

“They may have been forced to cut or change their hair to throw us off the trail. Did you see a girl get on with someone else and look like she was there against her will? Maybe someone who was on edge or cagey?” He continued to prod.

“Nothing like that. Sorry. I hope you find that girl.” She shrugged, and I let out the breath I’d been holding as she walked away. I blinked as she looked at me and winked. Holy fuck did she know? Did she just… oh damn, she just covered for me!

I hurried to the bathrooms to stay out of sight and count my cash. I don’t know how much I have left and if it would be enough to get me very far. I don’t know if that’s a good idea because there are so many cops here. I don’t want them to catch me or know where I’m going.

I frowned as I counted out what cash I had left after the bus fare that didn’t get me past Buffalo, the train here, not to mention the supplies to change my hair. I don’t know if that would get me to Portland. I’m down to my last three hundred.

Hesitantly I left the bathroom and went to the ticket counter, doing my best to avoid the cops. I looked at the train options and frowned when I spotted the train for Portland. I don’t have two hours to wait, but maybe I could hide that long if I can afford a ticket. So I took a deep breath and went to the counter.

“How much is a ticket to Portland?” I asked.

“The only seating we have left on the next train arriving in Portland is a cabin for two thousand three hundred twenty-eight dollars.” The teller answered, looking bored, probably knowing I didn’t have that kind of money.

“Oh… thank you.” I frowned, moving out of line.

I wanted to cry in frustration. I need to think of something. I can’t afford a train out of here and don’t know Chicago to try and make a run for it into the city. I don’t have my wolf yet, and my family and park are on my trail. I want River! I wish I had a way of… oh wow am I seeing things?

I was thinking about how I wanted to call River but couldn’t because I left all my electronics at home, and bam, my salvation is here in ancient technology! I was hiding in a bay of PAYPHONES! I didn’t think these things were real anymore. Yet when I picked one up, I heard a dial tone. HOLY FUCK, they still work!

I dug into my pockets, found some change, and dumped as much as it would let me in. Good thing I have River’s phone number memorized. My parents have taken my phone away enough that I had to remember to call them through other means. I hope that they pick up.

“Hello?” River’s deep voice greeted me, obviously unsure who was calling with that upward inflection. All I know is that my nerves had settled when I heard their voice. I felt at peace and safe just hearing their voices.

“WOLFIE!” I exclaimed in joy and relief. I’ve missed River so much. I know it wasn’t that long ago we talked, but it feels like forever. Maybe because of everything that’s happened since then.

“BUNNO!” They shouted back. I grinned like a fool at how excited they were. I know I have a lot to explain to them, but I also don’t have much time. Plus, I don’t want to explain most of what I need over the phone.

“I don’t have much time. And I’m sorry to be doing this to you. But I’m in major trouble. I’m stuck in Chicago and don’t have enough money to get anywhere, and there are cops after me. Dad has gone off the deep end.” I hurriedly explained, keeping my eyes out for cops, trying to keep my head down to avoid them taking notice of me.

“I know. I saw the Amber Alert. Me, dad, and a friend are coming to try and get you.” They’re coming to get me!? Their dad and a friend are with them? What friend? If it were Sage with them, they would’ve said so. Same with if it was their brother Austin. Oh Goddess, they are so sweet!

“Um… we have a lot to talk about, but….” River started to explain before the phone was taken from them.

“Leo, this is Hale. Here is what you are going to do. Go to the ticket counter, tell them you are Leo Shelton and that your dad Hale Shelton purchased you a ticket to Minneapolis with a card ending in 8679. The train leaves in fifteen minutes. Get on the train and keep your head down. We will meet you in Minneapolis.” Hale outlined.

I blinked as I heard a new voice. I’m not as familiar with Hale’s voice, well, not speaking directly to him. I’ve heard him in the background on calls with River and Sage. He always sounded like a nice guy. He had to be for Erin to have fallen in love with him. And it takes a special guy for River and Sage to call him dad.

I didn’t know how special Hale was until now. He doesn’t know me. Okay, Hale knows about me through River and their family. But Hale has never met me, yet here he is helping me. He’s hit the road with River to come to look for me, and now this? Oh wow, momma Carlisle hit the jackpot with this guy.

“Okay, I got it. Thank you, Mister Shelton.” I thanked him, feeling tears of relief pricking at my eyes. This guy is a damn saint.

“I’ll tell him you said thanks, Bunno. Now go. Don’t miss the train. I’ll see you soon.” River sighed. His voice tells me that he’s as impressed with his dad as me.

“Okay. Love you, Wolfie. See you soon.” I grinned while hanging up the phone. I have a way out of here, and when I reach my destination, I will see River! I returned to the ticket counter through the station, finding the one marked for pickups


“Hi! I’m Leo Shelton. My dad, Hale, got me a ticket to Minneapolis. He said to say it was paid for with his card ending in… 8679.” I quickly greeted the teller, pausing to remember the card number.

“Just a moment….” The man behind the counter quickly started typing on his computer. “Ah, here we are. Leo Shelton. You have a private room. Here’s your ticket, and have a safe trip.” He smiled while passing the ticket to me.

Oh wow! Hale got me a private room!? “Thanks.” I nodded as I took my ticket and rushed across the station to find the train to Minneapolis.

I felt the hairs on the back of my neck, and my arms stand on end. Someone’s watching me. I glanced around, and my heart filled with fear as I saw glowing eyes in the crowd. I don’t know if they are part of my pack or just a local werewolf, but I’m not going to hang around to find out. I ran onto the train, knocking into the guy checking tickets.

“Oh, sorry. Um, here’s my ticket.” I held it up, letting him punch before ducking around and hurrying to the private room.

The moment I was inside the room, I locked the door and pulled the curtains down on the window. A heavy weight settled in the pit of my stomach as I saw those same glowing eyes peering in just before the shade reached to cover the window.

For extra precaution, I hid in the private toilet until the train started to move. I still didn’t feel safe as I dared to venture out and pull the seat out into a bed. I don’t know if I’ll get any sleep, but I want to try at least. It’s a long trip to Minneapolis, and I want to be somewhat refreshed when I see River at long last.

Chapter 8 - River

It feels like time is moving too slowly. It didn’t help that we had to stop for gas, and David swapped with dad so he could get some sleep the rest of the drive. How the hell can he sleep? I haven’t slept a wink since I was told Leo was missing. And I won’t sleep until Leo is safe in my arms.

I’ve taken over the radio again, just using David’s phone so we know instantly if he gets any texts or calls from his inside guy Ryan. Not taking any chances when it comes to Leo getting away from their parents and that Fucker Prescunt. I’ve started shaking with anger whenever I think about them and their plans for MY Bunno. More than once, dad told me to control my emotions and focus on the task at hand, ensuring Leo’s safety.

“New text message from Ryan.” The computer voice spoke over the music. Despite that, he was snoring a second ago David popped up in the back seat.

“We have a problem. Tucker received a call from a rogue that claimed to have Leo. He has offered their safe return for a couple hundred thousand dollars. Tucker agreed to the amount, and we are flying to Minneapolis to get there before the train.”

I snarled, unintentionally ripping the seat’s leather as my claws came out. “Can we put the lights on now!? Leo is in danger if a rogue is involved. I’ve not had to cross paths with a rogue yet but based on everything, I’ve been told they are not people I want around Leo. Plus, they are holding them hostage for money.”

“So the rogue says. That doesn’t prove they have Leo. It could be a bluff.” David pointed out.

“But they knew about Minneapolis,” I growled. “Leo may be feisty when they want to be, but they aren’t fighters. And with how backward their pack is, I doubt they’d have ever trained them as the pack all sees Leo as a girl.”

“Let’s all remain calm and think this through.” Dad was calm as always, using his annoying logic on me. “If Silvermane is flying from Chicago to Minneapolis, even if they are taking a private jet, which I don’t think their pack is that rich, they would still not be getting off the ground for at least a half hour, and then it’s over an hour flight. They’d have to wait for a flight if they were taking a commercial. It’s not like flights from Chicago to Minneapolis are done at a standard interval.”

“Call Alpha Logan.” David suddenly instructed his phone. I’m not sure what good calling Alpha Logan will do for us. He’s back in Bloodmoon, so it’s not like he can do anything.

It took a couple of rings before the gruff voice of our Alpha filled the jeep. “What do you want, David?”

“Sorry to disturb you, Alpha. But we have news on Leo.” David was not bothered in the least by how rude Alpha Logan was.

I guess you can’t fault Alpha. He was probably sleeping or busy with Luna Aurelia. No one wants to be disturbed when sleeping or fucking. Or at least I know I wouldn’t want to be bothered if I was doing either of those things.

“Go ahead. What do you want or need from me?” Alpha questioned, getting right to it. I like that about our Alpha; he doesn’t mince words. He says what he’s thinking and gets to the point without all the bullshit.

“Supposedly, a rogue has infiltrated the train we had Leo get on to meet us in Minneapolis. He contacted the Silvermane Beta and offered to exchange Leo for two hundred thousand dollars. Silvermane is on the move by plane from Chicago to Minneapolis. We are forty minutes out.” David explained.

“So you want me to do what? Ground their plane or get someone to already be at the station in Minneapolis?” Alpha questioned.

“Both would be helpful, but either is a welcome aide. Mostly I want you to delay Silverman. We can handle a rogue. River and his wolf are itching to rip someone apart.” David shrugged.

“Fine. I’ll make some calls. I’ll text you when I’m done.” And with that, the line went dead, and the music started booming again.

“Do you think he’ll be able to do it? Does he know people in Chicago or Minneapolis?” I furrowed my brow.

“He’s the Alpha of the largest pack in North America. Any idea how many Alphas line up to kiss his ass. And if it’s not pack connections, he’s a Kinsley. They own Delta airlines.” David scoffed.

“Seriously? Damn didn’t know that. Well, about the airline. That’s crazy.” I can’t sit here idle in the car, worried something might be happening to Leo on that train. “But is there anything we can do in the meantime?” I asked.

“Call Demitri,” David commanded.

Demitri? I wrinkled my nose, unsure why he was calling his human police friend. I get they are friends and partners as cops, but what will he do? And how can he help if we can’t explain what’s happening?

It only took one ring before Demitri answered. “Hey, David. What trouble did you find this time?” Demitri asked, sounding more alert with each word. I guess he’s used to getting these kinds of calls from David.

“You know the Amber Alert for… Marybeth Hanley?” David asked. He even wrinkled his nose as he used Leo’s eww name. One of the many reasons to like this guy. He has never questioned Leo’s name and accepted that they don’t like what their assholes who gave birth to them picked, so he doesn’t like it either.

“Um, yeah. A kid from Massachusetts. What about her? Last I heard, they saw her in Buffalo. She was heading to Chicago, and they were trying to catch up to her and whoever took her.” Demitri answered.

I was about to open my mouth and tell Demitri off as he unknowingly misgendered Leo. But I stopped as David’s hand gripped my shoulder tight.

“Yeah, that’s the one. The Amber Alert is bogus and has it all wrong. The kid is non-binary. So they or them pronouns. They also go by Leo. Has a hard hate for their eww name.” David explained.

“So we have a missing non-binary teen. Okay, I got it. How do you know this stuff? And what’s it got to do with Oregon? You know where we live and work?” Demitri asked. He at least updated his terminology.

“Leo is an old friend to a kid of a family friend. You know my old man’s buddy Hale Shelton?” David started to explain.

“Yeah…. I think I remember him. The one with the son you called a dumbass and a set of twin non-binary kids. So what’s going on?” Demitri yawned.

“That’s the one. The younger twin, River, is dating Leo. Leo’s parents are emotionally abusive. This isn’t a kidnapping, or it wasn’t. It’s a runaway. Leo caught wind of their parents wanting to force them to be some thirty-something’s child bride.” David explained, squeezing my shoulder tighter, probably knowing I wanted to growl and he wanted me to stay quiet.

“That’s fucked up. Amber alert says they are only sixteen.” Demitri started sounding angry. “What do you need from me? I take it you’ve got a line where they are both the kid and the family.”

“You know me well, brother. Leo contacted River, and we got them on a train to Minneapolis, and we are meeting them there. My informant on the family side tells me someone on that train has taken Leo hostage and wants to exchange them for cash. Got any friends in Minneapolis or Chicago TSA? The family intends to fly from Chicago to make the exchange.” David outlined.

“I can do you one better. I have a couple of air marshal friends. I’ll make a call. Give me the names of the people we want to be detained. I am assuming you can handle the kidnapper in Minneapolis.” Demitri quickly got on board.

“Tucker Prescott, that’s the man looking to take Leo as a child bride.” David started to give Demitri the details.

“Sick fucker.” Demitri scoffed, and I couldn’t agree more.

“And then Leo’s dad, Theodore Hanley. Others are with them, but Tucker and Theodor are the big-ticket human trafficking fucks. My inside guy, Ryan Olmstead, doesn’t want to be part of it and is only helping to give me intel.” He explained.

“Got it. I texted my air marshall friends to find and detain Tucker Prescott and Theodor Hanley for child sex trafficking. They won’t be leaving Chicago.” Demitri assured us.

“Knew I could count on you. Get some sleep. I’ll let you know when everything is settled or I need more help.” David smiled, leaning back into his seat, letting my shoulder go.

“Anytime.” Demitri ended the call, and the music started.

“Whoa. That was impressive. So even if Alpha can’t come through with grounding the flight, you’re getting Fucker and Thundercunt locked up. But will charges like that stick?” I asked, rather impressed with David’s quick thinking.

“As long as we get Leo safe and sound and they confirm that their dad was indeed going to force them to be intimately involved with Tucker, it will stick,” David assured me.

“With Silvermane being taken care of on both ends between Alpha and the human authorities, let’s get to Minneapolis and make sure Leo is safe.” Dad nodded, pressing on the gas harder. I smiled, watching the jeep’s odometer jump from 75 to 90 in a blink.

We were almost at the train station when David’s phone made multiple announcements in a row.

“New message from Alpha Logan.”

“No flights I could ground had Beta Tucker on them. So I talked to Alpha Jackson from north of Minneapolis. He’s got a patrol taking point at the train station. He takes rogues seriously. Plus hates Silvermane too.“

“New Message from Ryan.”

“Holy shit! So I assume you are responsible for sending air marshals after Tucker and Theodore. It didn’t go as you planned. They only managed to detain Theodore. Tucker got away, and we are on a helicopter. He knows someone else is involved.”

“Well, shit. That didn’t go as planned. Fucker is still out there and coming for Leo.” I growled, pissed he didn’t get taken down with Leo’s dad.

“It’s fine. One down. That’s all, River. Focus on getting to Leo. Your old man and I can handle anything else. And Alpha has reinforcements meeting us there.” David assured me as dad found a parking spot.

He didn’t have to tell me twice. I was jumping out of the car before it was even in park. Dad and David had to hustle to keep up as I made a beeline for the station. My head was on a swivel, looking for where the train from Chicago would be coming—looking for any signs of Leo.

“This way, River!” Dad called out, grabbing my arm and yanking me toward the platform Leo’s train should be arriving at.

I watched as the train stopped and people started piling out. None of them were Leo. I started getting antsy the longer I stood there and didn’t see them. Had the rogue gotten to them? Are they hurt? I swear I’m ripping someone’s head off if Leo’s hurt. Then I smelled something. All the strange scents of the station disappeared, as all I could smell were strawberries and lilacs.

‘MATE!’ Lunar growled in my head. “Mate…” I growled as a garbage smell tried to overpower my mate’s scent.

“Rogue…” David snarled.

I wasn’t paying attention to anything else as my eyes locked on a pink-haired Leo. Some dirty-looking guy was exiting with them, an arm around Leo’s shoulder forcing them tight against his side.

‘KILL HIM!’ Lunar snarled.

Chapter 9 - Leo

I’m amazed that I got any sleep on the train. I was so on edge, and it felt like every time I closed my eyes, I could see those glowing pale yellow eyes watching me. Sometimes they watched me from the window. Others, I swore those eyes were looking through the crack between the door and the floor. It was creeping me out.

I only got through that train ride by reminding myself that River would be there waiting. That’s what I need to think about. I can’t just let my fears get the better of me when I’m so close. I need to remain strong and focused on my goal.

I’ve already come this far. I smiled as I imagined the whole slow-motion reunited romance movie scene. We’ll spot each other in the terminal. We’d call out to each other and push our way through the crowd—all culminating in me jumping into their waiting arms, hugging and kissing them.

As we got closer to Minneapolis, I used the private cabin Hale got me and took a quick shower to change into the spare set of clothes I could fit in my bag. I felt a little more alive now that I had washed and changed my clothes. And best of all, the pink in my hair looked even better after my shower. I hope River likes it.

I shouldn’t have let my guard down. It was stupid of me because as I started to head for the exit as the train reached our destination, I was yanked roughly by the collar into a room. I yelped and went into fight or flight mode and started thrashing, elbowing my attacker in the ribs.

“Hands off, mutha fucker.” I growled, trying to escape when the bastard clamped onto my hair.

“You’ll leave when I say so, little girl.” He snarled, pulling at my hair hard enough that I’m sure I’ve lost more than a few strands.

I wrinkled my nose. I don’t have my wolf yet, but they’re stirring in me, and I can smell that this guy is a rogue. Just what I didn’t need. In contrast, I’m technically a rogue or will be once I get my wolf and can properly denounce Silvermane. I’m not like this piece of shit as I don’t plan to be a rogue for long. I know there are at least two packs near River. If the Bloodmoon or Silverclaw Alpha is willing to accept me into their pack, I’ll be set. And the fact that he called me a girl just pissed me off more.

“I’m…” My elbow connected with his solar plexus. “Am…” My boot stomped his instep. “Not…” My fist slammed back, connecting with his nose. “A GIRL!” I shouted as I kicked back into his groin. Thank you, Sandra Bullock and Miss Congeniality.

I managed to get away and was almost to the doors when the rotting garbage, I mean rogue, grabbed me again. “You want to play rough? I can play rough. And call yourself whatever you want. You got the parts of a female. Settle down, do what I say, and get returned no worse for the wear to your mate. Or don’t, and I return you battered, bruised, and with a pup in your oven.” He sneered against my ear, making my skin crawl.

My stomach churned at his threat of raping me. I’m non-binary, so I don’t identify as a girl, but I know I have all the biological parts of a female. And situations like this remind me how fucking shitty males can be. I hate feeling weak. I hate knowing that I wouldn’t stand a chance in a fight outside of catching him by surprise.

Silvermane doesn’t train their ‘females’ to fight. If they keep the she-wolves weaker, they can’t fight back when someone tries to force them to be their chosen mate. It’s all part of their fucked up mentality. Because I have a pussy and tits, I was deemed unworthy to be given basic combat skills.

Speaking of mates, this bastard just referred to my mate. What the hell is that about? I don’t have a mate. I can only assume he means Fucker Prickface. And if he’s been in communication with him, they are coming to Minneapolis to try and collect me from this trash. I growled, glaring at the rogue but didn’t say or make a move.

River is waiting for me, and I don’t want them to get hurt. Rogues are dangerous because they are unpredictable. And even if humans surround us, he might not care about the secrecy of our world. I hope that either River isn’t here yet so they can’t do something to get hurt. Or they are here and maybe have help that can bring this guy down.

“No funny business. If you get out of hand, I have a silver blade that I am not above stabbing you with.” The rogue warned as I felt something sharp press against my side. I had no choice as he forced me to exit the train at his side.

As we stepped out of the train, I could feel my wolf stirring more than before. They are antsy about something. I’m not sure what. Maybe the dangerous predicament I’m in? The silver blade held against my ribs, perhaps? I mean, if something was going to awaken a wolf early, the imminent danger of silver should do it.

‘Mate…’ A low, almost sensual voice whispered in my head.

I blinked not just because my wolf sounded like some cartoon sex vixen but because a light, warm & earthy scent of sandalwood and citrus overpowered the garbage scent of the rogue next to me. I swear to Goddess if Fucker Prickface is here and the source of that scent, I’ll force that rogue to stab me in the heart.

And while logically, I know he isn’t because I should have realized it before this, it still terrified me. But then the idea of some random stranger or maybe a werewolf passing through this train station as my mate was just as bad. I don’t want anyone else. I want River!


I blinked as I saw them in the crowd flanked by two men. One I recognized as Hale from my video chats with River and pics they’ve sent me of their new family. I don’t know who the pierced and very tatted-up guy next to River is, but all three are looking right at the rogue and me, and there is rage in their eyes.

Holy shit! River is my mate! River is human, right? Oh shit! River’s eyes are starting to glow. Wait, it’s not just their eyes. Their body seemed to be glowing. HOLY SHIT! He’s a werewolf!? But… how could I not have known? Did my parents know?

The light show that is my mate only dimmed slightly as Hale and the man on their left put their hands on their shoulders. The rogue was still forcing me forward, looking all around with narrowed eyes. He is probably looking for Fucker Prickface. Though does he even know what he looks like?

His attention turned to River and company as they made a beeline for us. “One of you Tucker?” The scumbag asked, nodding at them. “Don’t get any closer if you want this little lamb returned unharmed.” He warned them, subtly showing the knife.

“None of us are Tucker,” Hale spoke first, holding a hand up and taking a half step closer. “But we will need you to put the knife down and let them go before you get hurt.”

“Not happening. She’s my golden ticket. So unless you can offer me something better, I’ll take my cash cow with me.” He sneered, digging his claws into my shoulder as he started to sidestep, looking to get around them.

“My dad warned you. Get your fucking hands off MY BUNNO.” River snarled, their voice not only theirs. A second voice was layered in that was just as deep but more gritty than River’s.

Everything went down in a blink of an eye. The cement under my feet started to shake, like a sudden wave in the ground pulled me away from the rogue and slammed me into Hale. He didn’t say anything, just turned me into him as the lights in the station seemed to intensify. Everyone in the station freaked out a little, only settling down when the lights were back to normal.

I turned to look and find out what Hale was shielding me from. River was still glowing subtly, and their other companion had the rogue on the ground with his arms behind his back as four werewolves I don’t know surrounded us with guns trained on the rogue. Others in police uniforms were telling passersby to move along.

“What the hell just happened?” I asked.

“Leo…” The light emanating from River went out in a blink as they rushed over, taking me from their dad to crush me into a tight hug.

I have so many questions to ask River. I wanted to protest and demand to be told what was going on, but the moment our hands touched, I felt the spark of the bond, and honestly, being in their arms was all I wanted on this trip. So I let the questions fall to the wayside and snuggled tighter to them, breathing in their scent and reviling in the warm tingly feeling of the bond.

Chapter 10 - River

All I wanted to do was rip that rogue to shreds when I saw him. And Lunar was on board with that line of thinking. Knowing Leo is our mate sealed the deal for him. I was barely holding back my rage, so to try and hold Lunar back… HA impossible. With a menacing snarl in my head, I could feel his power surging through me.

I was ready to make a move when I felt myself being held back, literally. ‘Keep your clam, River. We are in a mixed company and cannot risk exposure.’ Dad’s voice filled my head.

‘But…’ I started to protest as the hand on my other shoulder squeezed harder.

‘Listen to your dad. Not only do we want to minimize exposure of the supernatural to humans but think of Leo. We need to ensure they remain safe.’ David joined the conversation.

‘Fine. Then what do we do? I want that rogue dead. He is touching my mate. He is scaring my mate. He needs to die.’ I grumbled.

‘Here’s the play. Chief, is there enough material in this cement for you to bring Leo to us?’ David asked, tapping his foot on the ground.

‘I can feel enough materials that I can do something subtle.’ Dad confirmed.

‘Good. We make our way closer to minimize the distance. I can scent the Everclaw pack closing in. So we’ll have back-up pretty fast. Once Leo is safe, you make your move, River. Don’t go full throttle. Just enough to create a visual distraction. I’ll bring the rogue down and let Everclaw deal with him for entering their territory.’ David outlined the plan.

It was a solid plan, and I was ready to implement it. It took more control than I thought I could not to shift and rip this rogue’s throat out when he opened his mouth.

“One of you Tucker?” The scumbag asked, nodding at us. “Don’t get any closer if you want this little lamb returned unharmed.” He warned, subtly showing a knife pressed against Leo’s side.

We need to speed this up because I’m seeing red. I want to bury that knife in this rogue’s throat. How dare he threaten my Bunno!? I don’t want to hand him over to Everclaw. I want to kill him here, and no. Fuck the consequences.

“None of us are Tucker,” Dad spoke first, holding a hand up and taking a half step closer. To anyone who doesn’t know what he can do, it may appear he’s trying to suggest everyone remain calm. But I know better. He’s calling out to the bits of rocks that are used to make the cement we are standing on.“But we will need you to put the knife down and let them go before you get hurt.”

“Not happening. She’s my golden ticket. So unless you can offer me something better, I’ll take my cash cow with me.” He sneered, digging his claws into Leo’s shoulder as he started to sidestep, looking to get around us. Oh, that shit ain’t happening.

“My dad warned you. Get your fucking hands off MY BUNNO.” I snarled, Lunar’s voice overlapping with mine.

‘Now.’ Dad called in the link as I felt the ground move.

As soon as I saw Leo starting to be carried away from the rogue, I let Lunar’s power out. Not all of it, David said not to go full throttle. The lights in the station started to shake and get brighter, nearly burning out as I used them to blind the rogue and distract him as David tackled him. In all, it was over very quickly.

‘Tone it down, River. I’ve got him, and Everclaw has moved in.’ David instructed.

I pulled my power back and felt my body shaking with rage as I looked at the rogue smashed face first to the ground with David putting him under arrest. Everclaw wolves in police uniforms had guns trained on him as others instructed people to keep moving.

“What the hell just happened?” Leo’s voice pulled me out of my rage.

“Leo…” I called out their name as I turned and quickly took them from dad’s arms, crushing them against me.

It’s been two years since I’ve been able to hold them, which was too long, but we’re together now, and they are my mate. So nothing and no one can ever separate us again. Or at least, as far as I’m concerned, nothing can separate us.

Their parents are fucked after the sex trafficking charge David dropped on them. And as long as Leo confirms the allegations, they should stick, and they will not hold any rights to them by human laws. And by werewolf laws, I’m Leo’s mate, and therefore they belong with me.

“We will take the rogue from here.” Someone from Everclaw advised. “Our Alpha Jackson has instructed us to bring all of you back to our pack house to rest before returning to Bloodmoon.”

I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I just wanted to head straight home, but I suppose after the long drive here, dad and David could use the rest. And we probably can’t just refuse the hospitality of the local Alpha. I wouldn’t want to get Bloodmoon in trouble with any other packs.

“We appreciate Alpha Jackson’s hospitality. We will follow you in our vehicle.” Dad bowed his head.

“Come on, love birds. You can get reacquainted in the backseat.” David gestured for Leo and me to follow him. “You can make out, but no fucking or marking. I don’t need that mental trauma, let alone having to do a deep clean to get the smell out.” He taunted, making Leo blush as we headed for his jeep.

I chuckled while dad rolled his eyes, smacking David in the head. “Stop giving my kid ideas.”

“I don’t need David to give me ideas, dad. I’ve had that idea for years.” I snickered.

“Oh, my Goddess…” Leo groaned, covering their face with both hands. “Can this not be how I met your dad and packmate? We have a LOT to talk about, Mister suddenly a werewolf.” They poked me before climbing into the backseat.

“Yeah… about that.” I sighed, getting in next to them. As they started to buckle up on the other side of the seat, I yanked them closer. “You’re short. You can sit in the center. I want you as close as possible.”

“Don’t get all bossy, Wolfie. Now start explaining yourself.” Leo playfully pouted but didn’t fight me as they buckled in the center spot.

“Sage and I are hybrids. Sperm donor kept that detail from mom and then ditched her for his mate.” I snorted, thinking about how their dad must have known but kept us all in the dark. “So I never knew, but I pet your dickbag dad knew we were hybrids but didn’t open his fat mouth cause that would mean we belong in your world.”

“That’s probably true. Dad was uncannily happy when you moved away. So how did you end up finding out? Is it because of your mom’s boyfriend?” Leo nodded to Hale in the front seat.

Dad smiled, turning in his seat to offer his hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Leo. Hale Shelton. And I’m Erin’s mate. She is my second chance mate.” He explained, unzipping his jacket enough to show his two marks. No one can explain why his old mark from his matting with Austin’s mom is still there, but we chalked it up to that’s how it goes with second chances. The new doesn’t erase the old.

“Oh, that’s like a fairytale then. A second chance and a human. You’re a living legend.” Leo blinked, shaking his hand. “And it’s nice to meet you too. I look forward to meeting Austin and Suzie too. I’ve heard so much about everyone from River and Sage.”

“Oh, Dad’s more than a living legend because of mom. Dad lost his wolf when Austin’s mom passed away. But Jason returned to protect Sage and me from our dickweed sperm donor.” I excitedly explained.

“So you know the basics of the story about how dad and mom met on a dating app.” I started to jump into things. “And I told you that sperm donor came knocking, and dad sent him packing. Well, take all that and add in werewolves, and that sperm donor is an Alpha, well, not by blood. His mate was the only kid of an Alpha. He came knocking wanting one of us to be his heir since his mate died.”

“And the final fight was so damn epic. Sperm donor is about to lunge at mom and me, and BAM!” I accented my final word by making an explosion with my hands. “Dad leaps in but as a WHITE wolf. I’ve learned that those are rare. And damn, is Jason powerful. He controls the ground. He caged sperm donor until Alpha Logan and others arrived to take him away.”

“Wow! A second chance human mate and to have a white wolf gifted back to him.” Leo blinked. “The Goddess truly favors you. I’m happy she gave you Erin and returned your wolf because you saved River.” They smiled.

“I don’t like to think that the Goddess favors me more than others. But I am forever grateful to her for this second chance to have a mate, and my wolf restored.” Dad nodded.

“So, do I get an introduction? Or am I just the dude that’s driving?” David teased.

“Oh, right. So I’ve told you I’d been going to the gym and had a fitness trainer. Well, that’s him. Leo, meet David Bryant, aka stripper cop.” I snickered, making introductions.

“I am not a stripper.” David rolled his eyes. “This kid has been calling me that since I showed up at their door to check on Hale when his son Austin got worried. I am, however, an Oregon State Trooper. I’d offer to shake your hand, but I’m driving.”

“Nice to meet you, David. Thank you both for coming with River and helping get me away from that rogue. He was planning to turn me over to Fucker Prickface.” Leo wrinkled their nose as they mentioned Fucker.

“Prickface? I like that, but I’ve been calling him Fucker Prescunt. And we know all about it. David has a guy on the inside. Your dad was arrested in Chicago on suspicion of human, child, sex trafficking.” I snickered as I imagined their dad in jail trying to say it was all a big mistake.

“What? Wait, seriously?” Leo blinked. “How did you pull that off?”

“State Trooper, kid. I have connections. My partner back in Oregon knows an air marshal. They caught your dad after getting a tip that he was coming trying to sell you to Tucker. Tucker managed to get away but don’t worry. We’ll take care of his ass too.” David smirked.

As he looked at the rearview, his expression changed. “What’s wrong? I asked, looking behind us. I frowned because there was a car behind us, but it didn’t look like one of the cop cars the Everclaw pack was driving. This looks like a rental truck.

“New message from Ryan.” The music switched over to the computer voice of David’s phone. A message from Ryan cannot be a good thing, especially with that truck behind us that shouldn’t be there.

“Tucker is right behind you. He knows you have Leo and has already taken out the Everclaw patrol car behind you. I’m in a car behind him, so I’m limited on what support I can give.”

This bastard just isn’t giving up? If he wants a fight, he’ll fucking have one. Cause NO ONE is taking my Bunno away from me.

Chapter 11 - Leo

I had felt relaxed for the first time since River left for Oregon. Okay, so I haven’t been as on edge or mentally and physically drained as I have been since I left home, but after River moved away, I lost my safe space and have not fully relaxed since. So I should have known it was too good to be true.

I should have realized it wouldn’t be as easy as me rushing into River’s arms and having our happily ever after. Real life is never as simple as fairy tales. Cue the other shoe dropping. I looked back to see a truck following us as David’s phone delivered a message from Ryan that Tucker was behind us. I can only think of one Ryan that would be included in an assignment of retrieving a runaway pack member. Ryan Olmstead is known among the pack for his keen tracking abilities. He can find a scent that’s weeks old and follow it.

I never thought of him as a bad guy. And given that he’s been helping River get to me, I was at least right about him. Too bad others in our pack can’t be good like him. Why can’t they just let me go? Why are they all so set on keeping those they classify as a female in the pack? They want to treat them like servants that are either cooking, cleaning, or giving birth—the pinnacle of the ‘in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant’ neanderthal misogynistic mentality.

“Why won’t he leave me alone? Wasn’t me running away enough of a sign that I want nothing to do with Fucker Prickface or the Silvermane pack?” I grumbled. “And now I’ve put all of you in danger along with the Everclaw pack.”

“Bunno, you didn’t put anyone in danger.” River cupped my face, the bond’s sparks making my face tingle with warmth, and inside my mind, I could feel my wolf stirring again. “At least not a danger we weren’t aware of when we came for you. And no matter what, you are worth it. You have and always will be worth fighting for.”

They smiled and kissed my forehead. “Plus, Prescunt has no idea who he’s fucking with.” They added a wink before letting my cheek go to unbuckle.

“R..River, what are you doing?” I asked as they rolled the window down and started to lean out. Worried they’d fall out, and I quickly grabbed them by the waist. “Stay in the vehicle!”

“Google, text Ryan,” David commanded.

“Texting Ryan. What’s the message?” The phone voice asked.

“Fall back and shield your eyes.” What in the name of the Moon Goddess are they planning? “It’s about to get bright and messy,” David shouted as I was still trying to keep River in the car.

“I got ‘Fall back and shield your eyes. It’s about to get bright and messy.’ Do you want to change or send?” The phone asked to confirm the message.

“Send,” David commanded.

“Light them up, River,” David instructed. “Leo, I suggest you close your eyes to avoid getting blinded.”

I barely had time to react as I noticed River start to glow as they had at the train station. I forced my eyes closed as tight as I could, pressing my face into River’s back. Even taking precautions, I could still see the blinding white light. I can only imagine how intense it must be without shielded eyes.

I winced as I heard screeching tires and the distinct clink thuds of metal slamming against the ground. As much as I dislike Fucker Prickface, I don’t know who else is in the truck with him. So while I hope he was severely hurt and maybe to some degree I hoped he was dead, I don’t want anyone else getting hurt.

River was back in the car, hugging me to them. “It’s okay, Leo. I wasn’t going to fall out the window. I just needed to lean out enough to blind Prescunt.” They assured me as I felt the jeep come to a stop.

“We’re stopping? Shouldn’t we be trying to get to Everclaw faster?” I asked, opening my eyes. We should probably check that people are okay, but I don’t want to stay here, and it becomes a fight. I prefer to run.

“Everclaw will handle things their way. I’m sure we are in range of their pack link for them to relay information without needing to lead these ass clowns any closer to their civilians.” David explained, climbing out of the driver’s seat.

“And no matter what, we should ensure this issue is resolved. Running has a time and a place, Leo. But so does fighting.” Hale added as he followed David.

“It’s going to be okay, Bunno. I’m not letting anyone take you from me. And dad is right. We need to make sure this is resolved. He might keep coming for you if we don’t stand against Prescunt now.” River smiled as they got out too.

Great, now I’m the only one sitting in the jeep. “Stop being a coward, Leo. Face your fears. River is your mate, even if Silvermane won’t want to recognize that every other pack in the world would. You need to stand up for your bond too. It can’t just be on River to protect you.” I tried to psyche myself up as I climbed out of the car.

I gasped as I looked at the wreckage of the truck. Another vehicle, a van, had stopped, and four Silvermane wolves climbed out, rushing to the totaled truck. I watched as they pulled out three more packmates, including Fucker Prickface. No one was dead or badly injured—benefits of being a werewolf. As soon as they all realized that we and wolves from Everclaw had surrounded them, they went on defense. All but one, Ryan.

“How dare any of you to get in my way.” Tucker snarled as he lumbered to his feet. “I am Beta Tucker Prescott of Silvermane! Everclaw wolves, you are aiding and abetting the kidnappers of my mate Marybeth Hanley!” He pointed his finger at me as he glared daggers at River.

“BULL FUCKING SHIT! LEO IS MY MATE, PRESCUNT!!” River roared, their eyes starting to glow bright green as their wolf came forward.

“You have no claim to Leo. As my child has expressed, they are Leo’s fated mate. No matter what deal you made with Leo’s parents, it was done without Leo’s consent and went against the will of the Goddess.” Hale stepped forward, putting himself between Tucker and us.

“Do not disrespect the ways of our pack. We have taken chosen mates for generations. And Marybeth has been promised to me as my chosen mate. A role she will fulfill no matter what you say. Do not interfere with Silvermane business.” Tucker sneered at Hale.

“I want to be clear here. You are saying that you struck an agreement with Theodore and Jane Hanley for them to their sixteen-year-old daughter to be your wife?” David shouted, stepping forward further.

“Stay out of this freakshow. This is how our people have done it since the beginning. Marybeth will be mine and learn to be an obedient mate.” Tucker’s glare shifted to David.

“I’ll take freakshow as a compliment. At least I’m interesting and hot, unlike your dull and fugly ass. No wonder you have to force someone to be your mate.” David laughed, taunting Tucker. “Let me guess, you found your real mate and rejected you the second she looked at you? Or was it less superficial? Did you give her a rundown of how your pack treats females, and then she rejected your ass?”

There was a shift in the air as Tucker was getting angry. I took a step closer to River, gripping their hand as a lifeline. Tucker is no weakling. He’s a Beta for a reason, and everyone in Silvermane knows that his ability to emit a poison gas gets out of control when he loses his temper.

“Wait… let me guess. You found your mate, and it was a dude. He saw you and rejected you because not only did he have standards but wouldn’t be caught dead with a misogynistic bigot.” David’s grin grew wider as Tucker’s rage tripled. “Oh fuck I’m right. You have a male mate and are ashamed that the Goddess knows you’re secretly so deep in the closet you can’t see daylight.”

I saw the others from Silvermane backing away and knew that Tucker was about to make his move. “EVERYONE GET BACK! HE’S ABLE TO RELEASE POISON GAS FROM HIS PORES!” I shouted, tugging River, wanting to get out of range.

“We know.” Hale nodded, clapping his hands together. The ground shook at his movement, precisely the soil around and under Tucker. I watched in awe as the earth rose to surround Tucker, sealing him in an airtight ball.

“But…” I was going to ask if the intention was to suffocate Tucker. Not that he wouldn’t deserve it but killing someone does seem a bit extreme.

My question became moot when a hole at the very top of the sphere expelled the poison into the air being carried about by the wind. River was right. Their dad is impressive. Realizing that Tucker was captured, the others from Silvermane started to try and make a run for it, only to find themselves stopped by Everclaw wolves.

“You’re going nowhere. Your party has crossed into our territory without the permission of Alpha Jackson. You have also caused the injury of four of our packmates. You will face Alpha Jackson’s justice.” One of the Everlcaw wolves spoke.

The sphere that had contained Tucker dropped, not gently either. It just dropped, letting heavy pieces of stone smack into him, leaving him on the ground under the rubble. “What will you do with him?” I nodded hesitantly at him.

“Well, he admitted to taking part in a sex trafficking ring. I think the Feds will be more than happy to take him off our hands and put him in a cell next to your dad.” David shrugged, twirling a pair of cuffs on a gloved hand. Why’s he wearing gloves?

“Silver cuffs.” River whispered, answering my unspoken question as David kicked rubble off Tucker.

“Tucker Prescott, you are under arrest for the attempted abduction and human sex trafficking of….” David started to say before looking up at me. “Sorry, I have to use the legal name. We’ll get it changed for you fast.” He apologized.

Tucker groaned and started to get up, pushing David away. “Get your hands off me. It will… take more than that to bring me down. I am a Beta.” He coughed up some dirt.

“And no one gives a shit.” River declared, having slipped their hands from mine and, before I could protest, shifted to their wolf.

I blinked in awe at their black wolf with green markings. The markings began to glow as he barreled directly into Tucker’s chest. As Tucker fell back, it was almost like making contact with River siphoned the life from Tucker. At least some of it. It was like that scene in the Princess Bride when they sucked years off Wesley’s life. Tucker’s body seemed to shrink in mass for a moment, wrinkling and graying his hair. Is this what River can do? They aren’t just a light show.

Chapter 12 - River

I can’t believe what I just did. I didn’t know I could do that. After two years of training with my power and I didn’t know this was possible. I feel… weird. Like I have too much energy, I need to eliminate it. I feel as if I could run home without stopping.

‘Lunar, did you know we could do that?’ I questioned as I looked at Fucker Prescunt, stunned by the effect of what we’d just done. He looked ten years older than when I charged his weasel-looking ass.

‘I had no idea. I mean, I had an inkling we could. Light is just a form of energy. We absorb and convert light. And if we can take energy from light bulbs and the sun, why not waste flesh like this bastard who would dare claim our mate.’ Lunar shrugged, turning his head to look at Leo.

“Well, shit. It looks like you learned a new way to use your power, River. I’ll take care of him from here. How about you step away? I don’t want to get old any faster than natural.” David half taunted as he cautiously approached with the cuffs again.

I nodded, moving away from Tucker and rubbing against Leo’s legs instead. I’d considered changing back because it would be hilarious to watch Leo’s expression at suddenly me naked, but Lunar wanted to touch them, and this was his chance.

I’m not too fond of sharing Leo, except with Lunar. He’s my wolf, and somewhere in Leo, still not fully awakened, was their wolf. Once Leo’s wolf is out, Lunar will have his mate too.

“How did you do that?” Leo asked, stroking my fury cautiously. I sat next to them, cocking my head since I couldn’t speak and we didn’t have a link to talk that way. “Oh, right, sorry. You’re in your wolf form and can’t communicate with me. Your wolf is fantastic. And I don’t just mean how they look; your power is wow. What’s their name? Oh, right, you can’t tell me yet.” They sighed.

“Lunar. Their wolf’s name is Lunar.” Dad explained on my behalf. “When what they just did is new to me. But I always assumed the kids were special if the Goddess gave me back Jason to protect them and guide them as werewolves.”

“Lunar…” Leo smiled, scratching the fur around my neck. “I like that name. It’s very nice to meet you, Lunar.”

As David hauled him to his feet in the silver cuffs, Tucker’s meager growls got our attention. “As I was saying before. You are under arrest for the attempted kidnapping and human trafficking of… Marybeth Hanley.” David wrinkled his nose as he had to say Leo’s ew name.

“Now let’s go. I’m making sure you get locked up. And if you give me that shit about how it’s the way of your pack, I’ll make sure the human government comes for your Alpha. I’ll make sure Irwin is painted as the kingpin in this human trafficking scheme.” David threatened. It seems the threat was taken seriously and by more than just Prescunt. All but one of the Silvermane guys present cringed at the idea that their Alpha could be taken away.

“Leave Irwin out of this.” Prescunt whimpered in a pathetic plea. “Do not take our Alpha from our pack.”

“That won’t be my call. But I’ll talk to Alpha Logan. If he feels Irwin could turn things around in Silvermane, he might let it go with you and Theodore getting a life sentence. But if Irwin refuses and wants to keep the old ways….” David shrugged.

“What? What happens if Irwin can’t or won’t change the traditions of our pack?” Prescunt questioned with fearful worried eyes.

Beta John and others of rank called Alpha Logan by name, and Prescunt is probably tight with his Alpha. But I still found it weird that Prescunt kept calling his Alpha by his first name. It seems like an odd time to be informal. What got me the most was how he said his Alpha’s name. There was something more profound in how he said ‘Irwin’, like he cares a lot about this douchebag Alpha.

“My Alpha will do everything in his power to ensure yours gets a life sentence as the head of the human trafficking organization. And if that doesn’t work, straight up challenge him. I’m sure you’re all very aware that Alpha Logan has not ever lost a challenge. And sure, Silvermane is on the other side of the country, but he’d find a way to run it or get someone he trusts to do it.” David shrugged.

‘I say Alpha Logan gets all the ranked wolves and higher-ups in the pack in jail and puts someone new as the Alpha. Silvermane can and will change only with all new leadership.’ I scoffed through our pack link. If this type of shit has been going on for generations, it goes all the way to the top. Silvermane is rotted to the roots. Hell, it may need a total burndown. Dismantle that shit.

‘I know exactly how you feel, kiddo. We’ll see what we can make stick.’ David assured me as he walked Prescunt to one of the Everclaw’s vehicles.

A number of the Silvermane pack members were being loaded up too. But as they went to take one away, Leo stepped away from my side. “Wait, not him,” Leo called out. “That’s Ryan. He worked with David to ensure I was safe and Tucker was brought down.”

“Is this true?” The Everclaw wolf questioned, looking at David.

“Yeah, Ryan was my inside guy. No need to bring him to your Alpha in chains.” David confirmed with a nod as he not so gently shoved Prescunt into the back of a car.

“You did good, Ryan. We appreciate what you did for Leo.” David patted the guy on the shoulder. “You can ride with us to Everclaw. I guess River is going to want just to run there. They look to be still buzzing from that last attack.”

“Thank you, David.” Ryan nodded. “And you too, Leo. For telling them, I wasn’t part of the people here to force you to go back or to be with Beta Tucker. You deserve the freedom to be with your true mate. A Goddess given right denied to members of our pack for too long.” Ryan sighed before heading to David’s jeep.

I stood up, eager for that idea. A run is an excellent way to get rid of all this energy. Though as I looked at Leo, I could think of other ways. They aren’t new thoughts. I’ve had sexual thoughts about Leo since I was fifteen. And now that we are mates, they are just more intense.

“River, I don’t know exactly what you’re thinking, but I do know you. So stop being dirty. We are not having sex. Mate or not, I don’t even have my wolf until the full moon.” Leo scolded, wagging a finger at me, making David laugh.

‘Stop upsetting our mate. Your vulgar attitude isn’t what they need right now. They have been chased from their home by someone trying to force them to be someone they aren’t and do things they don’t want.’ Lunar scolded me.

‘I know that. I wouldn’t ever force myself on them. I love Leo. Even before I knew they were my mate.’ I huffed. ‘I’m just looking forward to the full moon when we meet their wolf and can complete our bond. You can’t imagine how I feel. I’ve wanted to have sex with Leo for years.’

‘ Of course, I can imagine how you feel. I know exactly how you feel, in fact. I’m in your head. But even after Leo’s wolf has awakened by the full moon, we cannot and will not move faster than they are comfortable with.’ Lunar shook his head.

“Someone, get the kid a rolled-up newspaper. They gotta break their mate of bad habits early.” David taunted.

“If you run back, keep us in sight or stick with any Everclaw wolves that are shifted. You don’t know this territory. I’ll call your mom while we head to meet with Alpha Jackson. I’m sure she and the rest of the family want an update.” Dad patted my head. I should be annoyed, but I know the pat wasn’t dismissive but just a gesture of love from a dad to their kid.

“Alright, it’s your choice, Leo. Getting back in the car with us or risking giving your mate bad ideas riding their wolf?” David smirked, leaning against the car, waiting for them to make a choice.

Leo started to step in the car’s direction, and I wasn’t having that. Even if I saw that sly smirk and knew it was them teasing me, I lowered my head and forced my way under them, making them have to cling to Lunar’s fur not to fall.

“AHH! I guess my choice was made for me. We’ll see you there!” Leo yelped, clinging tightly to my fur.

Yeah, I could get used to them clinging to my back, especially as their legs tightened to my body as I broke off into a run, following the Everclaw wolves. I was on cloud nine right now. Leo is my mate and now won’t ever be taken away from me. Leo’s dad was in jail, and soon Prescunt would join him.

I couldn’t ask for a better ending. Well, I could. This could be after the full moon, so Leo would have their wolf and be running next to me. Preferably to a secluded place to mark and mate as the Goddess intended. But as Lunar said earlier, I’ll wait as long as Leo wants or needs me to. It’s not like they are going anywhere.

Epilogue - Leo Part One

The last couple of weeks have been the busiest, most chaotic, and yet blissful days of my life. After Tucker was arrested, I rode Lunar to the Everclaw pack house. David contacted federal agents looking for Tucker, who picked him up within a few hours. I had to give my statement to them, and then everyone else from Silvermane had to provide comments.

They all took the path of least resistance, meaning they blamed Tucker. They all said that Tucker had various forms of blackmail, making them complacent in his hunt for me. Ryan stated that he only was there to try and provide inside information to David to ensure my safety. So, in the end, only my dad and Tucker were arrested.

The rest of the Silverman wolves were sent back home by Alpha Jackson. We had to sit on a video conference call between Alpha Jackson of Everclaw, Alpha Irwin of Silvermane, and Alpha Logan of Bloodmoon. I wasn’t sure what to expect when virtually being introduced to the Bloodmoon Alpha. I know he’s not very tall, only a little taller than me, from what River said, but even on camera, he has an intimidating demeanor.

During the meeting, my pack status was brought up, and I formally renounced the Silvermane pack and was unofficially welcomed as part of Bloodmoon, given my status as River’s mate. And the call ended with a warning from Alpha Logan to Alpha Irwin. He told Irwin that any interference in the investigation and trial against Tucker or my dad by Silvermane would be taken as an act of war by Bloodmoon. As Alpha Logan so colorfully put it, he would have Irwin’s head mounted on a wall.

He added that if any future incidents of forced mating occur, Alpha Logan would be making an in-person visit to challenge Irwin and take his pack permanently. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Alpha Irwin turn so pale. I thought he would black out when the threat of being challenged was made. It was kind of funny to witness. Almost as amusing as watching how the three Bloodmoon wolves reacted to their Alpha’s words. Hale remained serious and stoic. David smirked a gleam of mischief like he hoped Irwin would screw up in his eyes. I had to hush River because he started to whistle and cheer.

That was all just the beginning of the whirlwind that my life had become. I was brought to Bloodmoon with River, and the minute I crossed the threshold to the house, Erin pulled me into a tight hug. She was crying. I think they were happy tears, maybe some sad ones, because she knows what I’ve been through. Either way, I was grateful for the embrace. I’ve missed her and her unconditional love and support. I wish my mom were like her.

As soon as Erin let me go, Sage hugged me while River growled about everyone embracing me when I was theirs. River continued growling when their stepbrother decided to pick me up in greeting, calling me his new baby rainbow sibling with a kiss on my cheek. Austin is mated, and the kiss was utterly platonic and family in nature. River still growled and pulled me back to them, telling their family to stop touching me. It was cute yet annoying, and I had to remind them that this was my family, too, so they were allowed to hug me.

Hale and Erin were kind enough to let me stay in the basement, which had been used as Hale’s home office and Erin’s craft room. I didn’t dare ask why there was already a daybed down there. I feel that if I asked, the answer would probably traumatize me, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep in that bed. River, of course, had wanted me in their room. But as they share a room with Sage, I said that wouldn’t be fair, nor would it be fair to make Sage stay in the basement. Of course, that didn’t stop River from ending up in the basement with me, even if they went to bed in their room.

The paperwork for my emancipation from my parents was fast-tracked, given why my dad was in jail awaiting trial. Mom didn’t fight it. I don’t know if it’s because she genuinely didn’t care or because Alpha Irwin told her to let it go for the pack’s safety. Either way, I’m grateful. I didn’t want her to intervene. I want nothing to do with them or Silvermane ever again.

Until three days ago, I hadn’t even seen my family. Everything in the trial had moved quickly. Mom and Oscar glared at me the whole time. Then again, so did dad, as I had to give my testimony. I explained how I was always poorly treated in my family and even worse when I came out as nonbinary and said I wanted to be known as Leo.

Then I explained how I overheard dad and Tucker talking about how Tucker was going to take me to be his and that I would learn one way or the other to be an obedient wife. And because of that conversation, I chose to run away. I cried as I told them how my dad, the man who should have loved and protected me from such horrors, was signing me up for it. It was very emotional. I hated that I cried, but I did.

At that moment, my dad stood up and shocked the whole courtroom when he shouted that I wasn’t even his daughter, so why should he give a damn what happened to the product of his wife’s whore past. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to consider it. But one look at my mom and her guilty as fuck face and I realized it’s true. This was the source of all my pain and suffering. She cheated, and I was the living proof. No wonder they hated me and thought Oscar was so much better.

I cried that whole night as River held me. As much as my family hurt me, finding out the reason is that I’m a bastard cut deeper than any razor I’ve tried to hurt myself with. David offered to investigate who my real father was if I wanted to know. I still haven’t decided, but it’s so sweet that he offered to leverage his position as a cop and in the pack to track down my real father.

Dad, or I should say Theodore, and Tucker were sentenced to life in prison for human sex trafficking with the possibility of parole after a minimum of ten years of upstanding behavior. As I left the courthouse after the verdict was like a weight was lifted off me. I was truly free of my family and the Silvermane pack. And after generations of abuse being forced on she-wolves, I got justice. No one else will have to suffer forced mating again; if they do, Alpha Logan will know and make Irwin pay.

And while I still have much to unpack about everything that happened, none of that is important tonight. The only important thing right now is that my wolf is finally ready to come forward. At long last, it is the full moon and not only a night I’ll receive my wolf but when I can take my oath to Bloodmoon and more the night I can… if I’m inclined to mate with River.

I’m standing in a clearing with other young werewolves from Bloodmoon who, like me, will be shifting for the first time tonight. About a dozen of us were standing here with our families as Alpha Logan and Luna Aurelia addressed us, outlining what would happen from the shift to the run to a location where some food and drinks would be waiting to welcome the year’s first new werewolves.

“You’ll do great, Bunno.” River encouraged, squeezing my hand. “I’ll be at your side, and our wolves can run together.”

I smiled, nodding. A part of me was sad my family wasn’t here, but the other part reminded me that this is my family because blood doesn’t make a family. Looking at Hale, Erin, Sage, Austin, and Suzie, who had come out to be here for me through this, I knew that was true. In two weeks living with them has given me more love and support than a lifetime with the Hanley. And beyond having them here, I have River, my mate, at my side.

I could feel my wolf waking up, my body tingling with their presence as I looked up at the full moon, which was now directly over the clearing. There wasn’t time to be embarrassed or shy about nudity or that River would be staring at my naked body. I removed the robe I’d been wearing and did what came naturally.

I pictured the space in my mind where my wolf and I would share and blinked as I saw them. They were beautiful! A light-weight wolf with grayish-brown mixed with cinnamon and creme fur and expressive pale green eyes. They didn’t look like my mom’s wolf, like how I didn’t look much like her. Knowing what I do now, it all makes sense.

‘Don’t give those horrid people a second of your time, Leo. If I could have awakened sooner and ripped them apart to protect you, I would have.’ That low sultry voice greeted me as they walked toward me.

‘Oh. Um, thanks. I don’t blame you, of course. Um… what do I call you?” I was not sure how this interaction should go.

‘I am Storm. My name will be clear after we shift. Now let me come forward so we may run with our mate. I am eager to meet Lunar after seeing him from a distance.’ They nodded, walking past me in the room.

‘Right, so this might be rude. You know I’m non-binary. But what about you?’ I had to ask so that I would know what to call them.

‘I am female, but I know and respect that you are non-binary and would never impose my gender on you. I am a wolf and therefore see myself based on the sex organs I have. As long as you have no issues with having a sex life with our mate and being the one that carries children, we’ll get along fine.’ Storm informed me.

‘I… yeah, I can be okay with that. I know that even if I am non-binary, I still have urges and only so many ways those could be fulfilled.’ I agreed.

‘Good, now it is my time to take control.’ She stated as I let go of my last grip on my body and the shift was complete.

Epilogue - Leo Part Two

I blinked as I watched from the back seat of my brain as Storm looked around. River crouched in front of us, hands rubbing the fur along her neck as they looked into her eyes.

“Hello there. I can’t wait till you at least take the oath, so you have a pack link, or we are mated so that we can talk. But I’m River, and Lunar is growling at me to let him out to meet you. So I’ll do that so we can go for our run.” They smiled at us before stepping away and undressing.

‘We should look away,’ I encouraged, but Storm remained still watching River.

‘Why? They are ours. And sooner than later, you’ll be intimately familiar with their body. Might as well start memorizing it now.’ Storm countered.

I felt a spike of desire that I’m sure was hers, or maybe mine too, as I couldn’t help it and peeked to see River’s naked body before they shifted to Lunar. After River had shifted, Lunar rubbed against Storm in greeting before we all turned to the howl of Alpha Logan’s wolf Jericho announcing the start of the run.

Running in wolf form is so much different than riding Lunar’s back. While it lacks the thrill that the bond provides from being close to my mate, running as Storm was a new level of freedom I could get used to. I realized as we were running that Lunar was leading Storm away from the others.

I wish we had a link so I could find out what they were doing. Instead, I had to wait till we arrived at a small cottage near an orchard to get my answers. River shifted first, not caring that they were naked as they got a key from a secret spot in a flower pot.

“Come on, Leo. You can shift back. This is property owned by Suzie’s parents. She said we could use it for some privacy.” River explained, beckoning me to follow as they went inside. “If you don’t want to, that’s okay. We can head back to the others. And save the use of this place for when you are.”

I gulped as I realized what this all was. If I go into that cottage, we are going to mate. If we go there, we will have sex and mark each other. Oh, Goddess! Am I ready for that?!

‘Of course, you are. Goddess knows how long you’ve fantasized about River. And now that you’re old enough and in a situation where having sex with them is acceptable, you’re going to back out? I don’t think so.’ Storm scoffed, following River into the house.

I eeped as she suddenly switched places with me, and I shifted back, landing ungracefully on my ass on the hardwood floor of the one-room cottage. “Um… Storm just made the switch.” I explained, blushing as River arched an eyebrow at me.

“Bunno, if you don’t want to do this, not even your wolf can force you to change your mind. I’ll wait as long as you need.” River assured me, offering their hand.

I was hesitant, licking my lips as I took their hand. The buzz of the bond shooting through me grew more intense as River pulled me to my feet, and they pulled me into their chest. Holy shit! The extra skin-to-skin contact only magnified the bond’s sparks, and all of it seemed to be directed to my clit.

“I’m serious, Leo. We can leave if you want.” River offered again despite his reaction to our proximity and the mate bond. River’s eyes were darker, and I could see the hint of Lunar’s green at the edges. But it wasn’t just their eyes that told me they were equally affected by our nakedness. Something more um… prominent was making itself known between us.

“I…” I licked my lips again as my eyes drifted to their lips. What I say next will be a choice I can’t take back. But I know this is what I want, and Storm is correct. There is nothing left to hold me back. “I want to stay. I want you. I want to be marked by you and be bound together.”

River’s slips spread into a bright smile before they pressed into mine. I wrapped my arms around their neck to stay upright. The kiss was not short and sweet, it had so much more passion and fire than our previous ones. I felt like I was melting, knees going weak at the intensity of our kiss.

“I got you, Bunno.” River whispered as their lips moved to kiss my neck. Their arms moved lower, and before I could figure out what they were doing, I gasped as they picked me up, my legs instinctively wrapping around them.

“WOLfie…” My voice changed an octave from initially being startled into a moan as they sucked on my neck right where a mark would go. My body seemed to react on instinct, hips rolling against them, hands exploring their shoulders, wanting to touch and kiss more of their body.

“So tasty… I want to taste more.” River’s voice overlapped with Lunar as they growled, hands squeezing my ass just before I felt my back hit a soft bed. My mind was too foggy from the brain to have paid attention to anything but River. I hadn’t even realized we’d been moving this whole time.

“I want to touch and taste you, too,” I answered breathlessly, blushing at how forward what I just said was.

‘You could stand to be more forward. We should always tell our mate what we want and need.’ Storm encouraged me as she moved closer within our shared mind space. I’m sure my eyes were changing just like River’s are.

“I want that too. And you’ll get a chance.” River promised. “Just maybe next because this is a first for me, and I don’t want to embarrass myself by coming before we get to the best part.” They admitted.

I laughed softly, reaching up and touching the side of their face. “Every part is the best part because it’s you. But I understand what you mean.” I assured them, looking into River’s eyes that were a nearly perfect mixture of their natural brown and Lunar’s green.

With a smile, River’s lips were back on mine in a deep kiss, our tongues performing some mating dance of their own. The sparks from the bond overloaded my senses nearly as much as River’s scent did. I moaned into their mouth as I felt the sparks moving, their hands slowly, teasingly moving down my body.

Their first destination was my breasts, palming them, rolling their thumbs over my nipples till they were pebbled peaks before giving them a soft tweak. It’s probably a good thing we are far from other people because my loud moan seemed to time with River kissing a path away from my lips. I blushed as I realized I had gotten even more turned out by the pain.

“You’re perfect, Leo. Everything about you is perfect to me.” River whispered sweet words as their lips found their way to my breasts. “I love you.” They murmured before sucking at my nipple.

“I… I love you too.” I moaned, my body arching into their touch.

My hands started touching their hair, neck, shoulders, and as far as I could reach. The more River taunted me with pleasure, and the more my caresses became me digging my nails into their skin, leaving red marks quickly fading across their back and shoulders.

It felt like forever but not long enough before River moved lower, spreading my legs. “So wet.” River groaned in that extra deep growly voice they sometimes do. I blushed because I shouldn’t be embarrassed at how turned on they make me. I still am because they say it so bluntly.

“I love how when you blush, and it’s not just your cheeks but your whole body. Or is that just lust?” River winked.

I was about to try and make what I hoped was a witty comeback. Except the words died on the tip of my tongue as only a moan escaped my lips, River’s face disappearing between my thighs. I knew River had a talented tongue from our kisses long before now. But I guess I never considered how that talent could be applied to pleasing my pussy or combined with their fingers. Though I could think of a way, it could do a little better.

‘Either tell them how you want to be eaten or reach down and grab their hair and show them.’ Storm scoffed like it was so easy to be that forward.

It’s easier for her to say than for me. I grew up in a pack where sex, sexuality, desire, all those things were repressed. Sex was supposed to be just a thing you did because of procreation and the continuation of the pack… yadda yadda. My mother didn’t even give me the sex talk. I learned about mating and marking in a special sex education the pack provided. And that didn’t talk about it feeling good or how to make sure it does.

‘Oh fine, I’ll do it.’ Storm snorted, taking some control from me. I blinked as all I could do was watch as she took control, reaching down to grip River’s hair tugging just firmly enough to make them move so their tongue’s attention hit the right spot.

“Eat us like that.” Storm spoke through me as she encouraged River. “Yes… fuck just like that.” Our voices overlapped in a moan, my hips moving against River’s face to ensure where I wanted attention was front and center.

River didn’t seem to mind being told or guided in what to do, growling against me as they continued to pleasure me in the way I wanted. I could feel something building in me, a pressure building inside me until I couldn’t hold it back, and I let it overwhelm me, calling out River’s name as I came. Holy shit, I came?!

“Delicious.” River pressed a kiss to the inside of my thigh as they moved back up my body. “And now…” They smiled, reaching past me to a nightstand. I blinked, turning my head to see them grab a box of condoms.

“You planned ahead?” I arched my brow, unsure if I was annoyed or happy about that.

“Oh no. This is a place Austin and Suzie sometimes use. Austin told me there are condoms, so if we came here and got to this point, we would be safe.” River quickly explained. “I didn’t want to bank on what you’d decide or pressure you either.”

“Okay… good.” I propped myself up slightly on my elbows as I watched River kneeling between my legs, possibly concentrating more than I’ve seen them give any task into putting the condom on correctly, hands shaking a little. I sighed, relieved that River wasn’t plotting this, confident I’d give into them.

“You’re nervous too,” I whispered, sitting up to touch their sides. “Maybe that shouldn’t make me happy, but I like knowing it’s not just me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you’re my mate, and we will be each other first and only. But I’m still nervous about the pain.” I confessed.

“There is no one I would rather be with than you. Even if you weren’t my mate, I don’t think I could want someone else. I love you, Leo. And I know we can get through anything together. Including our first time.” River smiled, cupping my face now that the condom was secured.

I smiled, pulling them into a kiss, bringing them with me as I laid back on the bed. It wasn’t some perfect movie sex scene, but it wasn’t some epic fail. There was some fumbling on both our parts, and I’m sure if it weren’t for our wolves, there would have been more fumbling and awkward virgin moments. But honestly, it was perfect once they were inside me, and we found a rhythm.

We were connected in a new way, and as the pleasure between us started to build, River’s lips found the hollow of my neck. “Are you ready?” They asked in a husky voice as their canines scraped across my neck.

“Yes…” I moaned, my brain on the fritz as my body tried to keep up with the rhythm.

I had barely gotten the word out before their teeth sank into my skin, marking me as theirs for all eternity. They’ve owned my soul since the beginning, and now everyone will know it. Feeling one half of the bond fall into place, I followed instinct and Storm’s nudging. I tilted my head enough to reach River’s neck and bite them back.

The bond was completed creating an infinite loop of energy. I could feel the bond as it clicked into place. And as if the marking was what pushed us both over that building cliff of pleasure, we came together. River collapsed on me in a sweaty mess, trying to catch their breath like me.

‘That was… wow.’ River said but didn’t say. I blinked as I realized their lips hadn’t moved. I could hear their thoughts. Our bond was complete, and we now shared a mate link.

‘Couldn’t have said it better myself.’ I smiled at their startled expression as they heard me in their head.

‘Oh, this is going to fucking epic. We can talk without anyone else hearing us.’ River grinned.

‘Ahem, we can hear you.’ Storm spoke up.

‘And Goddess knows there will be times we wished we couldn’t.’ Lunar scoffed.

‘Too bad you’re stuck with us.’ River taunted as they moved to lay beside me, pulling me close to them to cuddle.

“I love you, Leo.” They sighed, kissing the top of my head as I snuggled closer.

“I love you too. And now, tonight, this starts our official happily ever after. I can’t wait to see what adventures we’ll have.” I smiled, contently falling asleep in their arms.

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Natasha Kelly
Natasha Kelly
Sep 19, 2022

Oh how perfectly scrumptious these two are! I love every word!


Simone Carlisle
Simone Carlisle
Sep 19, 2022

I love these two! They are so adorable!


Author Bryant
Author Bryant
Sep 19, 2022

Holy Moley, that was a lot! Theodore and Tucker went to jail, Leo was emancipated, and hold up... they aren't Theodore's kid!? Well, that explains how they manage not to be an a-hole like him or their brother. And I must say, I love Storm—the very forward, sex-positive wolf. And oh boy, the second chapter


Natasha Kelly
Natasha Kelly
Sep 17, 2022

Wow wow wow River & Luna you are badass that power is frocked awesome!


Amanda Gerner
Amanda Gerner
Sep 17, 2022

As crazy as this sounds, I almost feel sorry for Tucker. He still loves Irwin and was his Goddess given mate and can’t have him because his pack are backwards bigots. That has to mess with the mind besides the brainwashing his pack already messed him up with.

Amanda Gerner
Amanda Gerner
Sep 17, 2022
Replying to

Totally agree! You are still responsible for your actions. He knew it was wrong.

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