Dawn of the Dead. Book 2
- Genre: Werewolf
- Age: 18+
- Status: Completed
- Language: English
- Author: Taylor Brooks
The stale stench of the cave irritated his nose as he moved in deeper, scrubbing one of his paws against the under of his nose.
Now that he wasn’t being chased by men with guns who wanted his blood to clean Riverrun County, he calmly assessed his situation and felt weirded out that he was in a wolf form, moving languidly against the soil, his sinewy muscles stretching to cover the ground with ease and confidence.
As weird as he felt, a smile stretched across his lips, his teeth poking out from the sides of his mouth. Part of him felt like he had been walking as a wolf for years.
Ah! He felt the need to puke and shook his head to clear his head. He wondered if he really was at the cave where the werewolves lived.
Doubt rang clear in his mind, and he convinced himself that the wolves didn’t live there.
As a newly turned wolf, his enhanced senses of smell picked up on all the stench emanating around him, and if their senses were half as good as his, which he was certain would be better than his, he wondered how they could stand living somewhere that nauseous.
If he had been the one subjected to living and hiding here for a long time, he was sure he would have plastered the wall with his vomits.
He raised his head and scanned the walls and the roof for vomit the wolves might have involuntarily spewed on their way in and out of the cave and was surprised to find nothing.
Either the wolves had a sanitation day, or they all had weak stomachs. He couldn’t imagine walking in here and not spewing out the contents of his stomach, especially if he had a full stomach.
At the thought of food, his stomach growled to remind him that he hadn’t eaten dinner. His teeth clenched together as the pain of hunger washed over him, threatening to tear his insides to pieces.
He growled low in his throat, the sound rumbling through his chest as he wished he could know what the time of the night it was.
The wristwatch he had put on had been lost together with his clothes when he had turned into a wolf.
He sighed in deep regret, already missing the watch. It had been a gift from Olivia to mark their first night out as a couple, and he vividly remembered that night.
He had looked into her eyes and promised to cherish the watch as much as he loved her heart because it was a gift from her.
He chuckled in self-mockery at himself. Good to go, Jared. He said to himself.
The last place he thought the watch would end up in was the police station evidence room. He knew the poor watch was sealed in a nylon bag by now, recorded as evidence, and packed in one box to be used as evidence against him should they ever find him.
His thoughts strayed to his girlfriend, and his eyes misted with unshed tears as he wondered how she was at the moment.
She would definitely have heard of the murder he committed at school and the search for him. Her father was the mayor, after all.
He hoped she could deal with the shock and pain the news would put her heart in and prayed she would still love him.
He bared his fangs, his lips stretching wide as he growled, repeating the prayer over and over in his mind.
He hoped that Olivia believed in him and chose to love him and wait for him. He hoped he could find a way to resolve the mess he was in and return to her. Back to her embrace where he belonged.
His mind drifted back to his surroundings, and he continued his assessment, moving further into the cave.
He had no choice but to move in. He couldn’t go backward, and anywhere was perfect for him, so he was far from the terrified and determined humans out there, raving for his blood.
He observed the marks on the wall once again, his sharp mind scrambling to get answers. The claw marks might have been made a long time ago by humans or even kids who were just fooling around in the cave.
Certainty rang in his heart that the cave was not what he had thought it was and he had been fooled.
He nodded to himself at the possibility that he could have jumped to conclusions about the hideout of the pack because he was desperate for an escape and a sense of belonging somewhere.
He had always lied to Curtis that he was fine with being a wolf, with being the only odd creature in a sea of normal humans, but deep down in his heart, he had always wanted to find other wolves like him.
He had a lot of fantasies of how their meetings were going to be and wondered if they were going to all feasts on a carcass and bond as they rubbed their tails together in wolf forms or if they were going to clink glasses and laugh as men while boiling with a suppressed urge to topple one another.
His amused chuckle rang out, and he shook with humor at himself.
Damn, he could be silly at times.
He got to a bend in the cave and paused, debating where to go. There were two lanes, and he felt confused about the way to go.
He sniffed and noticed with pleasure that the air down there changed and smelled better than the one up.
A memory flashed in his mind, and he smiled as he remembered his mom, ignoring the twisting ache in his heart as he thought of her.
When he was eight-year-old, he was at a crossroads like this, and his mom stood beside him, smiling at him, waiting for him to make a choice.
He was faced with the choice of picking just one thing out of two boxes placed in front of him. He didn’t want to choose a gift he might have no need of and wondered if his mother could help him out.
He raised his head at her, gazing at her with pleading puppy eyes, but she chuckled, telling him the choice was his to make. She told him his grandparents bought, packed, and sent the gifts, and she had no idea as well what was in each box.
She chuckled and said he could pick one or wait for his cousin, who was on holiday with them, to come, pick his own, and then get the rest.
He remembered scowling and shaking his head, tears looming in his eyes as his lips shook with a childish expression of sorrow.
He remembered the despair he felt and the fear that licked at his heart then. Even as a child, he hated to fail.
Eventually, she gave in and told him to pick the box on the right. Left with no choice, he did as she advised and was elated to find out a gift he really liked.
Even when his cousin came back and unwrapped the remaining box, he never regretted the choice he made.
Later in the night, he asked his mother what made her tell him to pick the box on the right. He asked her if she knew what was in the box.
She shrugged and told him she wasn’t lying when she said she had no idea of what the gift was but told him to pick the one on the right because the right could never be the wrong choice.
As strange as the words sounded to his eight-year-old mind, he nodded and smiled at her as if he perfectly understood what she said and hopped back to his bedroom to admire his new gift.
Looking at the paths before him, he decided to make use of his mother’s advice one more time.
“The right can never be the wrong choice, Jared.” He could hear her voice loud and clear and feel the warmth of her smile as if she was right there beside him.
He fought to clamp down on his tears as the image of his parents watching TV in bliss swiped through his mind.
He knew they would have known of his atrocities by now. If nothing else, the mayor would have done the courtesy of breaking the bad news to his father after delivering it to his daughter.
Pity squeezed his heart on behalf of Olivia as he imagined how her father must have told her that her boyfriend was a murderer.
If the mayor he knew was still himself and hadn’t changed overnight, he was certain he would have delivered the news to Olivia with scorn on his plump lips and a shake of his head while advising her to be on her guard the next time she was going to have a boyfriend.
He could picture Olivia breaking into heart-wrenching sobs and running to her room to cry into her pillow. His heart broke at the image, forcing him to zone out and stop torturing himself.
He wished he could be there in her room with her. He wished he could fold her in his arms, rock her in a comforting embrace of love, and tell her he wasn’t a murderer.
He wished he could see her, bare his heart out, and plead with her to believe him and not discard his heart.
His knees wobbled, and he sagged in despair. He suddenly felt tired, and at that moment, he wanted to be human and tell his story to someone.
Anything to get the awful burden off his chest.
He took the right turn and gasped in surprise to see an opening.
The field he stumbled into was wide and filled with buildings of various sizes. He smiled, realizing his mother was right once again.
He found the pack’s hideout. He guessed the foul stench and horrific image on the walls were to discourage and scare off wandering humans who could discover their existence.
Never could he have imagined that a place like this existed in Riverrun County. He scoffed at the thought. Never could he have imagined that there were werewolves in the world either before.
He came to that stage in life where nothing was impossible, and he was willing to believe anything.
He wondered where the left path led and shuddered at the realization that he could have made a wrong choice.
Firewood crackled from a distance, and the fire blared up, illuminating the arena. He knew people would be gathered around the fireside and ran on, feeling no need to hide.
He was certain they would have sniffed him out the moment he walked into the field if he was right about them being werewolves, and his gut was telling him he didn’t make a mistake.
Men and women, even a litter of children, sat, awaiting his arrival, and some gasped when he made his way to their midst.
He plopped down on the ground, his tail lolling and wagging in a tired manner as his eyes took on everyone and everything around him.
His breath wheezed out in a relieved sigh as the cold of the earth seeped through his fur.
“Damn, it was a long day,” he thought and congratulated himself for surviving it.
He hoped they could help him back into his human form and allow him to stay with them.
After all, he was a werewolf like them. “That definitely makes us family,” he grinned to himself.
A need pressed more on him than the rest. He hoped they had food. He was so hungry that they looked like decorated snacks to him.
Silence dominated the field, a strong yoke clogging Jared’s throat and suffocating him as the wolves stared at him.
Some inched back, disgust written on the faces of those who didn’t have fear marked on.
Jared scowled, hitting his tail on the ground to get their attention. This wasn’t what he had expected when a spark of joy had run through his heart at finding their hideout.
Eventually, one of the werewolves snickered. “Looks like he doesn’t know how to shift back into his human form.”
Another werewolf nodded. “Seems so. I guess his shift was triggered by something, and he is either confused right now or scared.”
“I think he is scared. I can’t sense confusion at all in this one.”
“He has his right to be scared. I can bet my breakfast tomorrow that those slimy humans are already out for his skin.”
“I think he was turned, though,” someone whispered to his neighbor, looking overhead him to ensure their alpha didn’t hear. “A born wolf would have been trained to shift back and forth the moment he had his first shift as a child.”
Jared’s head dropped in sorrow as he realized the wolves were waiting for him to shift so they could know who he was.
He hoped they realized they would wait a long time for that as he had no way to do that. He wanted to howl into the air, but his voice sounded like a sad whine.
Chuckles echoed amidst the wolves, but one of them was unmoved.
His eyes hardened as he stroked the skin on his chin and glared at Jared. His cold blue eyes gave him shivers, and he was grateful he was in wolf form at the moment.
His muscles bulged and rippled with power, and Jared was forced to look up past his cold eyes and blonde hair, noting the full physique of the man.
He whistled low in his throat as best as he could as a wolf and, for the first time, doubted if he had made the right choice by assuming his troubles were over because he found the hideout of the wolves.
The man glaring at him with venom was tall and seemed like he could break him into pieces with a flick of his fingers.
A woman stood beside him, her hand hooked into the arms of the man, and Jared would have thought her to be a beautiful one if the scowl on her face had not been harsher than that of her mate.
The man roared. “Get me Maia!”
One of the wolves shuddered and bowed, hurriedly moving in an opposite direction. “Yes, my lord.”
Jared groaned as he realized he had just met the alpha of the pack, and bad news for him – the alpha didn’t like him.
The woman beside him that he had already assumed was his mate spoke into his ears. “Calm down, Dylan Carrera. Don’t get worked up over a stray wolf.”
She looked at Jared and snorted. Jared snorted as he looked at her, hatred for the woman bobbing in his ears. How dare she call him stray?
Dylan smiled, a bare twist of his lips and flash of his teeth, and snuggled into the woman.
He bent and dipped his head into the crook of the woman’s neck. “This vermin can’t spoil my mood, Suian. You have nothing to worry about, my love.”
Jared shook, anxiety rising in him as he wondered what his fate would be for the night.
The midnight cold air wafted toward him, and his teeth chattered in fear.
He could feel Dylan’s strong dislike for him, even without knowing who he was.
The wolf who had run off to get Maia returned, his face scrunched up, avoiding looking at Jared.
He opened himself up and felt he could sense pity emanating from the wolves.
A woman walked behind the wolf, her gait gentle and unhurried. She had a smooth face, and her dark eyes shone with the knowledge and wisdom of years one could only get by bravely struggling through the storms of life.
Her salt-and-pepper hair was a relief to Jared’s sight amidst the sea of blonde heads he could see all around him.
He fixed his eyes on her, afraid to look at the blonde alpha.
She got to where they were, took a glance down at him, and scowled.
She turned to the alpha. “You sent for me, my lord.”
Dylan motioned to Jared with a turn of his head, looking down at him.
“He is yours. Get him to turn so we can know who the heck he is.”
Maia looked at Jared again and then faced Dylan. “What do you plan to do with him, my lord?”
Her voice was kind, and Jared found himself calming down despite the cauldron of fright boiling in his stomach.
Dylan snorted. “I don’t give a damn. You know how much I detest wolves who were turned and not born; most have no sense of loyalty and are quick to turn on the pack when they get in favor with another pack.”
He continued. “As the leader of this pack, I am meant to protect the pack, and there is nothing more that I want than the best interests of the pack, and I will never let any outsider come and spoil the plans I have spent years cultivating.”
Suian spoke up beside her mate as her fingers trailed down his chest. “What my love here is trying to say is – as the healer of the pack, please help him to change form so we can ask him what he knows and decide if he lives or dies.”
Maia nodded, suppressing her gasp, and felt pity for the poor wolf hunched on the ground before them all.
She was not surprised, though. If Dylan was a domineering and brute leader, his mate was even more brutal than he was.
There were days she wondered if she took lessons from the devil.
Maia took a deep breath and turned to Jared. “Okay, let’s see the man behind the wolf. Shall we?”