After The End

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 30 (v.1) - 30

Submitted: September 17, 2018

Reads: 43

Comments: 3

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Submitted: September 17, 2018





There was a warm weight across her torso and, half in and half out of sleep, Mila started to struggle against it before Caelan’s familiar, sweet scent filled her nostrils and realisation dawned. Blearily, she turned her head. Caelan’s soft hair tickled against her neck, his slow breaths stroking across her skin - still asleep.

For a few moments she was frozen, suddenly completely unsure of herself. In the last six years, she had learned to live a life without attachments, a life where she was entirely dependent on herself alone. Her partnership with Caelan over the last month or so had already gone beyond what she would normally be comfortable with, and after last night a small part of her wanted to run and run and never look back, terrified of what she’d let herself admit to.

And yet…

His warm, naked body was pressed against hers under the blanket, his scent enveloping her, and, just as she had last night, she felt comforted and safe, and exactly where she wanted to be.

Caelan sighed softly and his blue eyes slowly opened. Pink lips curled into a lazy, contended smile. “Morning,” he murmured.

The sound of his voice seemed to soothe some of the tension in her muscles. She felt herself returning his smile. “Good morning.”

His hand, where it lay on her stomach, shifted slightly, and the terror returned anew. She resisted the urge to push away from him. “So…” She tried for a light tone but her throat was dry and the words were sandy on her tongue. “That happened.” She’d turned away, unable to meet his eyes and open herself to the feeling of vulnerability that came with that.

His breath danced across the back of her neck. "Yeah, it did a bit.” She could hear both the smile and the uncertainty in his voice. “Do you regret it?” He asked quietly.

“No!” she exclaimed, instinctually turning back to him. “No,” she said, a little softer. The deep joy and relief in Caelan’s eyes washed across her like a balm, and for a moment she paused, struggling to express the complex melting pot of emotions currently bubbling away in her chest. “I just… I don’t know…” She frowned slightly. “I feel strange. Different. In a good way,” she added quickly. She realised she was chewing the inside of her cheek, nervous again. “Was I… ok?”

The stroke of his lips on hers immediately banished any doubts from her mind. “You were more than ok,” he said, before his mouth dropped to her neck and speech became, once again, impossible.

“Wait a minute,” she gasped, pulling away again, “we didn’t… shouldn’t we have… you know… used some sort of protection?” She felt herself blushing.

Caelan quirked a smile. “Normally, yes, but I’m not exactly normal.” His finger stroked absently across her stomach. “I can’t carry diseases,” he continued, “and I’m completely sterile.” For a brief moment she thought his smile turned a little sad. “Comes with being a half-breed.”

“Oh…” It was a weak response but she didn’t know what else to say.

Caelan nuzzled his nose into the crook of her neck. “I know I should have probably mentioned that beforehand,” he murmured, apologetically. “I got a little caught up in the moment.”

She chuckled, settling back against the firm contours of his body. “That’s quite all right.” His hand was still on her stomach, gently tracing across her skin, and she felt her eyes flicker closed as she basked in the comforting warmth of his touch. In that moment she just wanted to lie there forever, with him holding her as he was, no other people, no worries in the world…

But she couldn’t. She felt her muscles begin to tense again, her blood turning to ice.

Caelan’s fingers paused. “What is it?” He asked.

Mila swallowed. “Full moon tonight,” she replied.

“Oh yeah…” He sounded thoughtful.

“What are you going to do?” She asked, eager to keep the subject away from her for the moment.

“I’ll head off on foot around lunchtime,” he said. “I plan to be the other side of the hills well before sundown. Johnny says the pack never ventures further than that.” Mila was still facing away from him but she could hear the soft frown in his voice. “But it’s not me you’re worried about.”

“I…” She swallowed again. Caelan’s statement wasn’t probing as such, but the more she thought about it she wanted to tell him the truth. All of the truth.

“Most of us have our first change around our thirteenth birthdays,” she began before she could stop herself. “The packs believe that an early change is a sign of great strength, the sign of an Alpha. I’d always believed that too…” She chuckled wryly. “Spencer had his first change when he was eleven.”

Her voice was weak but she continued. “I didn’t have my first change until I was nearly seventeen. I learnt to dread the full moons when they came because every month I proved to be even more of a failure to my father. He started growing distant after I turned thirteen, and it only got worse and worse every month…

“The night after my fourteenth birthday I overheard him talking to his Beta. Turns out, my mum and he hadn’t had the rosy relationship he’d always told me they had, and she’d had a fling with a human man around the same time I must have been conceived. He thought, what with the late change, that I wasn’t his true daughter - that I was never going to change, because I was human, like my real father.

“My mum died when I was five, so she couldn’t support me, and she couldn’t defend herself against my father’s accusations. When my fifteenth birthday came around and I still hadn’t changed, I started to believe it myself - I wasn’t my father’s daughter at all, and he hated me for it. I knew the pack were judging me, starting to draw their own assumptions, and I thought my father was going to come clean with them any day and kick me out. So, one night, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and I packed a bag, stole a horse and ran away.

“It was hard at first, and I thought about going back, but months went by and I started to enjoy my new life on the road - the freedom of it. Sure, it was dangerous, but I worked out how to take care of myself pretty quickly. I stayed in a small town for a while and met an old smith who taught me how to make and use a sword. I learnt how to fight vampires, and I found out I was pretty good at it too. For some reason it never occurred to me that I might be better at it than most teenage girls had any right to be because I wasn’t merely human - I’d left behind any doubts that I was anything but human when I ran away, and I’d learnt to enjoy being the new, human me: Mila, not April.”

She paused, briefly, before continuing with a humourless chuckle. “Of course, I was wrong… It came the night before my seventeenth birthday. I… I was staying in a small village at the time. When I realised what was happening I managed to get out into the woods, but I didn’t get far and they heard… they heard me screaming. When they came to investigate, the wolf attacked them, but they managed to drive it off…” Mila could feel her throat clamming up with unwanted tears. “When I woke up the next morning, I knew if I went back to get my things they’d kill me, so I never found out if it had killed any of them.”

She shook her head. “You saw the wolves when Andrea found us. I’m not like them. I can’t control it. When I turn, I’m not me anymore, I’m just a monster, and…” A sob broke through her salt stained lips, her tears dripping quietly onto the pillow.

Caelan had let her talk uninhibited until then, but now he drew her closer to him, one hand gently stroking through her short hair. Mila gulped back another sob, forcing back her tears as she fought to continue. “After I first turned I thought about coming back, but I couldn’t bear the idea of facing my father again. I never wanted to go back to that life.” She shook her head, closing her eyes. “But now I’m here, and my father’s dead, and I just don’t know how I feel anymore.” A shudder raced down her spine. “All I know is that I’m going to change tonight, and just like before I’ll be the odd one out - the freak. Before I wasn’t wolf enough, now I’m too much wolf…” Her voice trailed away, a slightly wild chuckle bubbling through her lips. She could feel Caelan’s eyes on her but she couldn’t quite bring herself to look at him, to once again see the pity in his eyes.

“We don’t have to stay,” he said finally, softly. “If we leave now we can be long gone by sundown. Staying was my suggestion in the first place, I had no idea about any of this…”

She shook her head, resolute. “I agreed to stay. I’m not backing out now.” She paused. "Spencer might be able to help me,” she admitted, somewhat grudgingly. “He’s the Alpha now - he has power he can use to ease the transformation. Alphas help out the younger wolves… The first time is always the worst, that’s why wolves normally stay with their pack until they’re nearing adulthood.” Another pause, this one more loaded. “That’s why my first time was… well… not very nice.”

“But after your argument yesterday you feel uncomfortable asking for his help,” Caelan ventured.

Mila grimaced. “You heard all of that?” She’d hoped he hadn’t heard much before he’d actually interceded.

“I have good ears.” She knew he was smiling playfully. “I also have good eyes. I’ve seen the way he looks at you.”

She turned to him then, letting her lips twist into a smirk. “Jealous?”

He cocked his eyebrow. “After last night?” His lips found hers and they were soft but hungry, and she felt her body melting into his touch. Gently he traced the line of salt the drying tears had left on her face. “I will confess,” he murmured against her, “I also saw you making a hasty retreat from his advances last night.” He grinned cheekily. “As you did not do the same to me, I figure the only one with a right to be jealous is Spencer.”

Mila felt a flush rising in her cheeks. “God, do you think he knows?”

“Hmm?” Caelan nuzzled into her neck again. “I have no idea.” He paused. “Does it matter?”

She twisted around, her lips stroking his. “No,” she whispered. “No, it doesn’t.”

“Glad to hear it.” Caelan’s eyes were bright as they met hers. “And for the record - I’ve seen lots of monsters, I’ve even been one from time to time.” His gaze hardened. “You are not a monster. Neither is your wolf. If you must know, she’s rather beautiful.” A small smile. “Scary, certainly, but beautiful.”

Mila tried to smile but it felt brittle. “Thanks,” she said.

All she could hope was that the pack agreed with him.




© Copyright 2019 Amy R. Beckett. All rights reserved.


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