Wolf Child Page 1



“Why do you weep, child?”

The female jolted at my question, and I knew why.

I spoke to my children once in their lives, and here I was, communicating when I wasn’t supposed to, but her grief called to me. As did her idiocy.

So many mistakes… I’d made them, too, in my long life. They were powerful enough to eat me up inside, terrible enough to make me regret not just the bad, but the good also.

Having traveled along the path of this one’s life with her, I understood her grief.

Two sons abandoned.

One mate lost.

Such a waste.

“I miss him, Mother. I miss him so badly.” She gasped again, a keening cry escaping her, as if she couldn’t contain her grief. “And the worst thing is, I miss Paul too. My soul aches for them both.”

Of course it did.

Her first mate had strengthened her, but he’d never achieved the balance an omega needed. That was why I’d sent her the second mate. To soften her Paul’s rough edges, to bring an equilibrium she’d been lacking, and to be the light in the dark.

I’d just never foreseen the dark swallowing the light.

That was my fault.

It was my sacred duty to attach mates to one another. To bring them together.

To shape their futures for the best of the community.

Yet I’d failed.

I blew out a breath, which had the wind dancing around the circle where the child lay sobbing.

“I know you’re punishing me,” she whispered. “I should be dead by now.”

She should.

That was no word of a lie.

Both her mates had passed, and normally, that would sever her life. Yet live she did. But it wasn’t for a punishment.

She had a purpose. Her children served a greater role in this world than she could ever imagine.

“I’m not punishing you. I’m making sure your child is strong enough to live without you.”

“Another punishment,” she rasped, evidently not listening to me. “He has no mate. You didn’t give him one because of me, because of what I did.”

I had, but that wasn’t for her to know.

Staring at her, watching her as I watched over all my children, I thought about her distress, about all the mistakes I’d made, the ones that led to the errors she’d wrought.

To err is human, they said. To forgive, divine.

But who forgave the divine?

My eyes burned with tears, and I could feel the storm clouds growing heavier around me, swelling with rain that was on the brink of falling. But neither rain nor tears would cleanse us of our mutual foolishness.

When a shard of sunlight breached the clouds, piercing the circle in which I stood and had been standing for thousands of years, it was a moment of revelation.

We could both have our time again, and in doing so, she could serve her children as she’d never been able to in this life.

“What would you do to right the wrongs you’ve made, Merinda?”

She gulped. “Anything.”

“Do you truly mean that?”

Her eyes were bright red, her cheeks puffy as she scrubbed at them. But not unlike that ray of light which she was now pooled in, hope danced around her like the wind did the circle. “I mean it. With all my being.”

“You won’t always like what you must do, what might happen—”

“Anything, Mother. Anything.”

I thought about it, thought about how we could right our wrongs, then I whispered, “This is what you must do, child…”



Weirdly enough, it was the whimper I heard first. So soft, that it should have escaped my attention. So gentle that, over the noise of the carnival, I should never have been able to hear it, and yet hear it I did.

I tilted my head to the side as I looked at Austin, wondering if he’d heard it too. If a man’s ears could be cocked like that of a wolf’s, then his were alert. Just as I knew mine would be.

We stared at one another, squinting and narrow-eyed, as we tried to place where the sound was located.

Unfortunately for us, we were standing beside a hotdog stand. The scent of beef and pork sausages, as well as relish, mustard, and other condiments, scorched our olfactory senses while also messing with our others, because there was a long line and we had been waiting in it for a while.

Beside us, there were three kinds of rides, most of them with kids squawking at something, and on the opposite side, there was one of those old-fashioned shooting ranges with water pistols that you had to aim at moving targets. The water rushed in our ears as though we were swimming through it, making that whimper and the scream that followed all the harder to hear.

As shifters, we were always hungry. That was pretty much par for the course. We burned through eight thousand calories a day, and that had to be made up somehow. Though we often thanked the Mother for providing us with the miracle that was protein and whey shakes, nothing beat meat. Especially not for a wolf.

Ignoring our grumbling bellies, we both stalked off, letting our place in line be eaten up by the people behind us. I mourned it only for a second, because my hunger wasn’t more important than the girl who’d just cried out.

Grass crunched underfoot as we crossed the carnival. There was trash everywhere, messing with our senses even further. Tracking anything in this mess would be impossible, even if we were looking for the worst kinds of scent—blood.

As we rounded a large area that was set aside for bumper cars, I heard it again, a whimper, and this time, the scent of blood hit me. It wasn’t just a tiny cut, wasn’t even something that could be healed with stitches.

This was a gushing, gaping wound that bled from the heart.

I didn’t wait to see if Austin was there at my side, didn’t wait to see if he had my back. I ran off, letting my nose lead as that thickly metallic scent overtook everything, making me see red as the blood poured from the poor woman’s body.

When I approached a stall selling candy, I found her at the back. She was small in stature, but there was a hint of maturity about her face that told me she wasn’t a child. Her bones were definitely fragile, and the outfit she wore—a kind of gauzy dress that made me think of fortune tellers—was saturated with blood. I saw her scarf covering her throat, and I realized that was where the wound lay.

Austin skidded to a halt at my side, and when he did, he dropped to his knees and deftly tugged the fabric out of the way. With the barrier gone, we both saw for ourselves exactly what we were up against.

This was no ordinary attack.

This wasn’t a woman who’d been assaulted and stabbed in exchange for her purse.

She’d been bitten.

My mouth dried at what that meant, and even though I didn’t have to, even though I could feel the moon’s sluggish crawl through the night sky, I looked up, tipping my head back so I could see the full moon.

“We need to get her out of here,” I rasped, when I heard the odd gasps escaping her mouth.

I’d never changed a human into one of my kind. We weren’t supposed to. It was forbidden. Only pack alphas were given that opportunity, and even then, it wasn’t something they did frequently. Usually only mates were allowed to be changed, but that was after being part of the pack for a few years.

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