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Chapter 10

PETER

We walk out of the water onto the sand. The tree is huge. As I get closer, I see what Lana means. It doesn’t look good at all. It’s leaves are all turning black.

I walk up to it and touch it. I feel the bark. Picking at it, I look at Lana. “This isn’t possible…How is this possible? How did it get down here.”

She shrugs. “I don’t know. Titus found it and built the city over it.”

“Wait.” I turned to her and crossed my arms. “How can Titus build the city? A city this size and age, it wouldn’t be possible. He’s barely 28 at most.”

She smiles. “Some older people age better than others.”

“What do you mean?” I looked confused.

“Titus will be turning 328 this year.” She actually said that with a straight face.

“Excuse me?” I raise a brow.

She nods. “328.”

“He…Titus…the guy that can bench press a Buick. That guy is three centuries old.” I don’t believe it.

“Yes, Peter.” She repeats.

“How?” I flop my hands to my sides.

She leans to me. “Ever hear of the fountain of youth?”

“Yeah, I’ve heard the stories. The legends.” I say.

She motions her hand to the tree. “There it is.” She sits and leans her back against the tree. I sit down beside her.

She takes a breath and rolls her eye to me. “Our father found this place. He was born in Wales. He was a sailor. A fisherman. He decided he wanted a new life, so he moved him and Titus’ mother to the western world.”

She grabbed my hand and started playing with my fingers. Tingles of electric warmth seem to come from her and warm up my arm.

“He found the beach and built a little house for Titus' mother to live in. They were happy. They were mates and deeply in love.” She glanced at me and I caught something in her eye that made me pause. She continued to gently rub my hand between her delicate ones.

“One night when my father was out fishing, a stranger showed up at the door. He was tired and starving. Titus’ mother let him in and fed him. He seduced her and left. Titus came shortly after.” She let go of my hand and played with the sand between her knees.

“They found out later, that man was a cosmic being named Destiny. Our father was so enraged he killed Titus' mother for her adultery. Cutting out her heart and throwing it into the sea. Titus was 12.”

“Jesus. That’s insane.” I furrow my brow and glance at her.

She nods. “It’s the reason he’s so hard on us with relationships. He’s afraid the same will happen to us.”

“Yeah, but he’s got to know he’s in a different time.” I say.

“He does, but his memories are still there. Even after all this time. He doesn’t even date himself. I’ve never seen him with a woman in my life.” She looks at me and grabs my hand again.

“Wow. It kind of explains his anger.” My brow goes up. “He’s probably got a lot of pent up frustrations.”

“He does.” She nods. “Anyway, a few years later, Titus found the tree. He found out the sap when mixed with water, had properties. Properties that extended your life…forever. You stop aging completely. Him and his father lived together for centuries. Never leaving the tree. They protected it. Guarded it. Kept it a secret. Years later, our father found his second chance mate. Then he had us girls. Again, he was mad because she couldn’t give him a natural heir. He didn’t want to give Titus the title, but he was so frustrated, he sailed off and never came back. My mother was so heartbroken, she stopped drinking the water. She was dead a day later.” She lowered her head.

“Lana, that’s awful. I’m so sorry.” I shift closer to her and slide my arm around her.

She waves me off. “It’s OK. I never knew her. It happened shortly after I was born. Titus has been my father my whole life. I don’t know anything else.”

“Ok. So the water. You have to drink it all the time?” I ask.

She looks at me and nods. “Yes. To keep essentially stealing years, you must drink at least a glass a day. If you don’t, all those years you stole, come back in a hurry. The aging process speeds up and you either age fast or die depending on how many years you took. Even still, the aging process is horrible and have killed wolves even if they only took ten years or so.”

I look down and nod. I grab her hand and start playing with it. Running my fingers across her tiny ones. “You said the tree was dying. What happens when it does.”

She looked at me with the pain I saw earlier. “Everyone in Atlas will die. Titus had the city’s water tapped into this lake. The tree leaches into it and we drink it in our kitchens.”

“Fountain of youth on tap, you’ve got to be kidding.” My brow goes up.

She shakes her head. “Nope. Everyone knows the secret here. They know they can’t leave. It’s also why Titus is so picky about who he lets in. If the tree was ever found out, you can only imagine what would happen.”

“The humans alone would try and take it.” I answer.

She nods. “I keep it too, but I can’t anymore. Titus is the oldest of all of us. The tree is slowly killing him as it dies because he stole so many years. The water is getting too weak for him. I need your help, Peter. Please. I need your help to save my brothers life.” Her eyes well as she pleads with me.

I rub my neck and stand. “I don’t know how. I don’t know the first thing about magical trees.”

She stands and faces me. “Maybe your wizard?”

“Azriel? Maybe.”

I look at the tree and look at the dead leaves on the ground. “When did the leaves start falling?”

She thinks. “Just over two years ago.”

“Huh.” I bite my cheek and look at the tree. Feeling it’s bark, I walk around the whole trunk.

In the back, I see something. A hole in the trunk about six inches off the ground. I trace the edge of the hole with my hand. It’s weird. I put my hand into it. It’s about five inches deep. It feels very familiar.

I stand and walk to Lana. “I think I can help.”

“Peter! I knew you would! I just knew it!” She grins ear to ear and throws her arms around my neck. It shocked me at first, but then I found myself sliding my arms around her tiny waist. This sense of comfort came over me as I held her. Electric Shivers ran down my spine as her chin settled into my neck. Her sweet scent seemed to get stronger and surround me. I closed my eyes just to soak it in.

“Thank you.” She whispers.

“Don’t thank me yet.” I whisper back as my arms wrap more around her. I’m pulling her closer to me, almost on instinct. Like it just felt right for her to be in my arms.

Just then the door to the room opened and we broke apart.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING DOWN HERE?!” Titus' voice boomed through the cavern.

Lana steps in front. “Titus. We’re helping, ok. Peter thinks he can help.” She puts a hand up tk him.

“HOW DARE YOU BRING AN OUTSIDER DOWN HERE! THIS IS UNBELIEVEABLE, LANA! I TOLD YOU UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES…” Titus got up in her space and flailed his arms around.

“NO, TITUS! I asked for help, because you refused. You just want to lay down and die and take us with you. Well, I refuse to watch you die and I refuse to let this pack suffer because you’re too stupid to realize I love you and want to protect you like you protect me!” She pointed in his face as she yelled.

Honestly, I didn’t think she had it in her. She’s quite snippy when she gets going.

Titus stood and scowled. He pointed in Lana’s face. “You will be confined to your room until I can figure out what I’m going to do with you.”

He looked at me and took large steps.

Oh fuck.

He grabbed my neck and I grabbed his arm. “You are so under arrest.” He growls in my face with a snarl. “Then I’m going to chop your ass into so many tiny pieces…ARGH!”

The tree sputtered and faded. Titus went down on one knee, holding his side. He’s breathing is labored. “Titus!” I grab his arms and kneel with him.

“I’m fine!” He growls. Sweat beads on his forehead.

Lana started to cry. “Titus, you’re not fine. Please, let Peter try.”

“No.” He grinds. “Ah, fuck!” He doubles over.

Lana cried harder.

I hold on to him. “Man, you can’t do this to your sister. Look at her.” I whisper to him.

He’s shaking and sweating. He turns his head to Lana who’s cheeks are wet with tears.

“You need to set aside your anger and self loathing, ok. That little girl loves the shit out you and all you’re doing now is breaking her heart. I think I can help. If I can’t, you can arrest me, but at least let me try.” He turns his eyes to me. They’re slits. His body is shaking bad.

He presses his lips together and nods.

I wrap his arm around my neck and lift him to his feet. “Ok. Let’s get you upstairs and I’ll see what I can do.”

I carried him to the elevator and we ride it to the second top floor which was his apartment. I supported him to his bed snd helped him into it.

“You can’t tell anyone.” He groans as he rolls onto his back.

“I have to, Titus. I can’t do this without them. You can trust my friends.” I cross my arms.

“I said no!” He yells then rolls on pain.

My eyes flick to Lana who covers her mouth with her hand and cries.

I turn my gaze back to Titus. This pissed me off. My blood boiled. My wolf went nuts seeing Lana cry. I snapped.

I lean down to him, resting my hand on his bed and pointed in his face. My face twisted in anger. “Listen, I get the whole Zeta Alpha self pity thing. Zander’s fucking full of it. But you hurt that girl over there, now I have a fucking problem. So, look at it this way. I’m not saving your fucking ass, I’m saving hers. She’s not fucking dying with you.” I tilt my head and glare into his eyes. He has this look on his face that says no one has ever had the balls.

I stand back up. “Titus. I know you don’t trust me…”

“You're right, I don't.” He growls.

“But right now, I’m you’re only hope.” I stare at him.

He nods, reluctantly.

I nod back and walk away. I pull out my phone and hit a contact. Putting it to my ear, I look at Lana who’s wiping her eyes. I want to hug her so bad and tell her everything’s going to be fine.

The other line picks up. “Zane. I need you to come to Atlas. Bring the rock.” I turn and look at Titus. His skin looks yellow and his hair is dulling. He has an arm over his eyes.

I turn back around. “And Zane? Hurry.”

I hang up and turn back to Titus who groans in pain and rolls over to his side.

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