“W-what are you doing here?” Every inch of me shuddered down to my bones, recoiling from her. The cozy, heart-warming feeling faded, replaced with fear and the terror that maybe I assumed too quickly things would be alright. The longer I stared at the old woman with gray-streaked black hair sitting wildly around her round face, the more the fear grew.
She snatched my hand, nails digging into flesh, her vivid orange eyes piercing into mine. “Bitch.”
I tugged against her, clawing at her iron fingers wrapped around my wrist. “Get off me,” I cried out, drawing the men’s attention.
Their growls pierced the silence, but then everything happened too fast. And like I’d seen on the first night I met her weeks ago, there was a flash of brownish scales and sharpened teeth showing past the wrinkles, through whatever glamour she used.
“What do you want?” I demanded.
Ignoring me, she sneered toward Hendrix and his brothers racing toward us.
One flick of her hand, and they flew backward, tumbling away. My heart sank and I cried out for them, wrenching my arm still trapped in her grasp.
“You think I’d let any of you go so easily? You greedy assholes, coming here to draw more power from the magic lake. It’s mine, only mine. Why do you filthy beasts deserve this precious magic?” She spewed the words with venom and raised her other hand towards me, while murmuring other words under her breath. Words I was convinced were a curse to destroy me and my baby.
My breath sharpened, and urgency to escape drummed in my veins.
Movement came from around me as my men threw themselves at us again, shouting at her. In seconds, they flew back just as quick but farther away this time.
“Get the fuck away from her,” Hendrix roared, gaining her attention, climbing to his feet as his beast spilled out of him, tearing out of his body.
Twisting her head toward him, her upper lip curled over her teeth and gums. “Don’t worry, I’ll deal with you soon enough. Seems I was too light-handed on my sleepwalking spells. Should have guessed you three were too fucking stupid to even do that right and fall for all the traps I’d set on your island.” With one snap of her hand, Hendrix flew once more away from us.
Her words struck a chord with me, with the times I caught the men seemingly wandering aimlessly. With Eliza’s stories about others on the island hurt by bizarre accidents.
“You bitch,” River hollered, throwing himself back up to his feet, and with his brothers, they charged at us. But like before, they kept bouncing away.
“Why are you doing this?” I pleaded, hating that I should show her anything but the fury she deserved. “We’ve done nothing to you.”
“Oh, save your breath. Try watching for years these spoiled brothers using a power that didn’t belong to them. And yet the lake gives me nothing,” she screamed the words then shot a side glare at Caspian who prowled towards us like a predator, growling, his eyes already taking on his wolf form. “I even used the blood sample I took from them in the lake, and nothing. So yes, I will destroy them, take anything happy from them, including you and that furball you’re carrying.” Her eyes grew wild, leaving me trembling. “They need to understand suffering.”
My wolf rumbled in my chest, and holding back was impossible. “You have no understanding of what suffering means.” I lashed out at her, my wolf shoving forward.
The bitch wrenched out of the way, while she hurled a fireball right at my face. It slammed into my chest, the heat sizzling through the fabric of my shirt, sending me backward.
I yelled frantically, batting away the fire, ripping off my top before it spread. I stumbled back, seething as the witch marched toward me, throwing the men away from us.
Her eyes darkened with a glare, with trepidation. She raised her hand right in my face, murmuring words under her breath.
Terror suffocated me. After everything, this couldn’t be where it all ended. Not when I was so close to finally holding onto happiness.
Out of instinct, I reacted quickly, shoving my hand forward, slapping my palm to her chest to shove her away from me.
The moment my hand touched her, a flash of emerald light glowed from my hand, pulsing like a heartbeat. It boomed outward in heat waves.
Her eyes widened with a shock I hadn’t expected, and instead of backing away, she shuddered, her pupils rolling back into her head. She frantically beat at my arm, fingers tearing at my skin, but I couldn’t move. Evidently, my hand had glued itself to her chest.
“You,” she snarled in my face, her brows furrowed. “The water bestowed magic on you? A pathetic wolf? Wolves don’t have magic.” Her chest puffed with how furiously she sucked in each breath.
“You’re jealous? All of this because of that?”
“You’re so stupid. The lake gave me its power years ago, only a taste, but soon after these three idiots gained their abilities, the lake stopped working. So, the solution is easy. Remove them and the power will be redirected to me.” She spoke so matter-of-factly, as though she knew these things for real.
I didn’t believe her. How could I when she tried to kill me and my men?
My arm trembled, and a sharp pain across my forearm had me wincing. That was when I noticed the white moon tattoo forming over my skin.
I stared at it incredulously, confused and terrified. Especially with the witch now striking my hand in a panicked reaction. Her hits hurt, and I winced, shoving her to stop while I fought to rip my hand away.
Whatever was happening, I felt it calling to me, and a shot of sparks jolted up from where I touched the witch, making its way directly to the moon. Where earlier the red color fringed the top, now it dripped across the moon’s surface, encapsulating it completely.