LAUREL’s POV ONE HOUR BEFORE HELIOS ENTERS THE DARK FOREST I haul myself up over mother’s old furniture, chairs, and cupboards to climb to the top of the stack where the window lies. And with trembling hands, I yank the planks off. The rusty nails give way, the wood crumbles and the dilapidated planks disintegrate into a flurry of dust. Then, balling my fingers into a fist, I smash the window. CRASH! The glass shatters into tiny pieces and shards of glass cut my skin but I do not care. I've already lost so much blood, what is a little bit more if it can buy my freedom? Then, a moan comes from the basement floor. It is Jamie and I know she will wake up soon. There is no time to lose. Quickly, I tear off the emerald curtain that frames the broken window and wrap it like a shawl around my head. I know I need to get to safety, but I doubt if anyone will come running my way to help if they see a green-colored walking corpse. A wave of dizziness hits me as I try to squeeze my way out
LAUREL’s POV It’s very quiet here in the Forbidden Forest. The air is cold but I keep warm under a blanket of twigs and dry leaves as I lie near the entrance of a cave that I stumbled upon after what felt like an eternity of running away from Helios. Pinpricks of stars dull the lightening sky, signalling the dawn of yet another day. Carefully, I brush away the leaves and check on the wounds on my hands, thigh and face. They are not healing as fast as they should but at least I am not losing any more blood. Jamie won’t be getting her energy drink from me today. I try calling Daphne again as I did many times the night before but no surprise there, she does not answer. I don’t think I have ever felt so alone in my life. A sudden growl from my stomach reminds me that I haven’t had anything to eat in three days. I am hungry, very much so. But there isn’t a single animal here in the forest for me to catch, and neither are there any mushrooms or fruits that I can pick. I let out a pent-
LAUREL’s POVThey say that you can feel it when your mate appears. First, your gazes meet and then, an invisible bond, stronger than life itself forms between you two; a bond so irrevocable that the life you once lived before will never be the same again.Someone once said that the feeling will hit you like an unstoppable juggernaut, crashing into your very soul before igniting a flame of desire and possession that will burn within you for all of eternity, going strong even after you enter the gates of the afterlife. I have never met my mate before, nor have I ever felt the imprint of one but I have heard enough to know when a person meets his or her mate.And Jamie has met hers.“Mate,” she whispers, her voice, or rather, mine echoes through the now eerily quiet square. Marty stares at her unblinking as he too, mouths the same before a peal of laughter erupts from Nox.“Goddess! You two are mates!” he roars, palming his stomach and throwing his head back to laugh some more.Helios c
LAUREL’s POV The hand tightens around mine and lifts me off the ground, dragging me out of the hut. I stumble and fall, all the while gasping and wheezing for air that eludes my lungs but I am given no respite for the hand that drags me yanks me along brutally as if I am a criminal; a prisoner of war. The fabric that wraps around my face loosens and though I desperately want to cover up my face, I am unable to do so. Poisoned fumes fill my every being, my eyes moisten as tears spring out and I almost black out. It is the intense danger and the impending doom of death that keeps me conscious. The owner of the hand lets out a strangled hiss and curses. His breathing is heavy and laboured but he does not let go of me. Then his body spasms as he hauls me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and with the fog confusing everything, I cannot tell who it is. But I do know one thing, he is bringing us to safety. He morphs into his wolf form and thick fur takes over his human skin. On
LAUREL’s POVAres stares at me as incredulously as if I have somehow grown another head on my shoulder.“Are you out of your mind?” he yells, his spit landing on my face. “We just escaped from the fog and now you want to go back there? Are you crazy!”I wipe away his spit with the back of my hand and ask back in defiance, “What about Helios then?”Ares groans in frustration and pulls me back up into a sitting position, all the while muttering to himself, “The Alpha will be fine. It’s you who’s not. Go back to the fog you say? It’s suicide. Jamie didn’t just steal your identity, she probably took a chunk of your brain too.”Ares is right, Helios will be fine. But I am not.Somehow, the fog had affected me, as if it had another kind of power. A power that somehow increased my physical pain tenfold. A power that does not come from anything natural. Someone or something created it.And I need to find out why.“Look at the fog, Ares.” I point towards the swirling fog that still dominates t
LAUREL’s POV Every step is torture. The fog is getting thicker by the second as both Ares and I thread deeper and deeper into the Dark Forest, trying to find the source of this poisonous vapour. My limbs feel heavy, as if a massive hand is pressed down on my body and the soles of my feet sting with every move, as if the hands of the undead have broken through the soil and are clawing at me, trying to pull me down into the earth with them. A groan slips through my lips. Ares quickly slides an arm underneath my shoulder blades to support me. “You’re dumb to have even thought of this,” Ares complains. “You’re dumber for agreeing to come with me.” “We should turn back,” he says, his voice void of any humor. “No, we’re almost there.” And sure enough, the fog around us thickens even more, clouding our already blurred vision. I feel as if I am seeing things underwater. I do not know what lies ahead, but I do know one thing. We are getting closer and closer to ground zero. I take bu
LAUREL’s POV Fear and guilt spike through my body and I try to yank my hand away but Helios does not let me. Then, swamped with emotions, I pry my eyes away and stare at the ground but the rage in his voice demands my attention. “Look at me!"I do and catch a flash of red that flares up in his eyes before it quickly fades; something that always happens when he is angry. Rigid cords form in his neck and he snaps irritably at me, “Just how long were you planning on keeping this a secret from me?” And when I do not answer, he lets out a frustrated groan. “Damnit, Laurel! Answer me!” He releases me and I quickly wrap my hands around myself. I feel like a fool. He walks around me in circles and runs both hands through his hair in frustration. Helios stares down at me as he walks, his eyes never leaving mine and I say to him in my mind, ‘Okay, two can play the eye game. I’ll stare too.’ But after three seconds, I look down like a little school girl who is being scolded by her teacher.
ONE HOUR BEFORE HELIOS AND LAUREL ENTER THE HUTHELIOS’ POVThey say that the eyes are the windows to our soul.And as I stare at Laurel who stands next to me at Morningstar Square, I cannot help but feel something is off. Like always, her hair is tied up in a tight no-nonsense ponytail and she is wearing her usual dull brown vest and black leather pants. But there is something different about her. Something is missing.I notice how red her lips are and how shifty her usually bright blue eyes look. Then, her beautiful face contorts into an ugly scowl as if a pungent smell has just hit her nostrils. It is not a pleasant sight to behold. “Mate,” Laurel suddenly whispers. Her tone is incredulous as if she herself has trouble believing what she just said. And from the side, Nox slaps Marty on his back.“Goddess! You two are mates!” he roars, palming his stomach and throwing his head back in laughter.I close my eyes and suck in a deep breath. Laurel and Marty are mates?!This is ridicu