Bleed the Earth: Blood Wild Chronicles Book 2

“Go,” Jia growled, positioning herself between the whole of the Flushing Pack and Pain and his followers who emerged from the darkness. They may not have been anticipating her arrival tonight, but they were watching for her, waiting, and they were there to support her against the threat they had known was beyond their door. Near from the library entrance, the scatter of the debris of living surrounded the smoldering remnants of a nearly extinguished fire, telling her everything she needed to know about Pain and his intentions. He had come to claim the Pack, had been here, too close, threatening them with his aggressive proximity, waiting for a moment of weakness when he could make his move.

If he had come to beg for clemency, to beg for remittance into the Pack, his posture as he emerged from the dark and the hostility that forced the growth of dark fur across his arms, hands, cheek, and neck would have been kept in check.

“You have no right…”

“I don’t see him.” His words, made guttural by the eruption of fangs, felt both hot and cold to her. “Where is Roland?”

Torben, having battled his share of men like Pain, exhibited no fear as he swung his wrapped burden from his shoulder and lay it tenderly on the ground. “Here.”

On the opposite side of the group of Cana, QiangXu paced the edges of the gathered cluster, eyes on the unfamiliar Ursa. Notoriously solitary, it was rare for Ursa to remain in close proximity with others of their kind without conflict. Even mates rarely lived together, though parents would live near enough to each other to share the raising of cubs until the young came of age. Only the newcomer’s focus on Pain and not QiangXu, and the fact that he had born Roland’s body home, kept the smaller man from any aggressive action.

Pain was the bigger threat.

QiangXu’s stare, however, was enough to prompt Vance to shuffle into a position that placed him between the two Ursa and closer to Jia. The Pack’s grief and shock at Torben’s words, at the sight of the Alpha’s face when Addi opened the fasteners that kept the canvas closed so that he could see the proof for himself, hit Vance’s mage senses like a board against his head. He winced and rubbed the back of his skull, and then the bridge of his nose, in an effort to reduce the throbbing that threatened to rob him of his vision.

“What…?” Addi began in shock before snapping his mouth closed. This was not the time for questions or answers, even if a dialogue might have diffused the brewing conflict. After Pain’s insistence in sitting near the library door as if holding the Flushing Pack at siege, the medic knew that nothing but blood was going to erase the anger from the air.

Pain only glanced at the corpse, taking no time to express respect or remorse. “Then the Flushing Pack is mine.”

Dropping the jacket she had been wearing, Jia growled through erupting fangs. “Only if you take it.” Anticipating his move, the shift from human to half-form Cana was swift, both shifting and leaping as one to crash into a grabbling embrace of claws and fangs.