Chapter Forty-Three

Grey should have known this would happen.

As soon as Shepherd mentioned taking her, reminding Alex in the process that she was married to Teddy, Alex acted in typical jealous guy fashion and went for the kill, sending a wave of magic towards Shepherd.

Shepherd didn’t seem remotely bothered by the attack, simply stepping aside and then moving forward than either of them anticipated to punch Alex in the jaw. He hit the ground, hard.

“Alex!” Grey shouted, kneeling next to him to check on him.

“I didn’t know you would stoop to consorting with such filth,” Shepherd said, looking down on Alex disdainfully. “Really, I expected more of you.”

Grey growled and stood. “The only filth I see right now is you,” Grey retorted, and then she transformed. It was strange, doing this in front of Julian so openly. She knew she would get used to it eventually, assuming that Julian survived the transition period. She couldn’t afford to worry about any of that right now though—she had to fight with everything in her. It was the only way to get Shepherd worn down enough for Teddy to get his chance. After that, it was down to prayer

“See, this is a worthy fight. Pay attention, Julian. If you survive long enough, maybe you’ll know what your place is: beneath me,” Shepherd declared, transforming in one swift movement.

Grey met Shepherd mid-leap, snapping at his throat and snarling with everything in her. Meanwhile, Alex was gathering himself up once more, wiping a dribble of blood off his lip. He was already muttering a spell, sending a blast of air towards Shepherd to distract him. The hope was that he would end up letting his guard down just enough for Grey to move in for the kill.

It didn’t work so well, though it did make him miss a step and Grey managed to nip at one of his legs. Alex grinned and if Grey was human, she would have wanted to kiss him. As it was, she was very much busy with her own fight.

Julian was struggling, trying to push himself into something resembling an upright position, though it seemed to be a losing fight. Grey wanted to tell him to stop, to relax, but she couldn’t at the moment, as Shepherd’s claw caught her in the side.

The power behind the blow was shocking and it forced a yelp out of her as she hit the ground a moment. Shepherd moved, intending to get her haunches between his teeth, but Alex sent another spell at him, buying her just enough time to get back to her feet.

The fight itself was almost a dance to her, the wolf-like reflexes of her ancestors lending speed to her steps and offering her a grace and coordination that she lacked in human form. The power coursing through her was stronger than ever—maybe it was because of the blood she shared with Teddy now, or maybe because she knew what was at stake, but Grey hardly even felt the pain of her injuries as the fight continued, growing in intensity. She met each of Shepherd’s attacks with equal intensity, helped along as she was by her boyfriend.

It was truly remarkable, seeing Alex in action. He didn’t seem at all intimidated by the violent wolf fight he was in the middle of. But, unfortunately for him, Shepherd was getting tired of his interference.

Grey didn’t realize what was happening until it was far too late. One minute, Shepherd was locked in fight with her, their teeth straining against each other, Shepherd’s blood (and some of her own) thick in her mouth. The next, he jerked away from her and was running towards Alex.

Alex, too, seemed taken aback by the sudden attention, and he stuttered mid-spell. It was all the hesitation Shepherd needed as he leapt at Alex’s throat.

All told, the witch put up a good fight. He caught Shepherd’s teeth on his arm instead, though he couldn’t do anything about the claws digging deeply into his chest. Grey moved to help, but it was in that moment that Shepherd sent a forceful command her way using that unique language of a pack: Do not move.

Normally, Grey could resist it. She was a Lycan, and not originally part of Shepherd’s pack. But the fact that she had some of Teddy’s blood coursing through her had both pros and cons, and unfortunately this was a con she hadn’t considered: his natural need to obey his alpha. It only worked for a second, her own pure blood much too strong to be held for long, but a second was really all Shepherd needed and he took it with gusto.

Alex screamed as Shepherd tore into his arm, and then the wolf shook his head violently and flung the arm out of the way. Alex’s screams were silenced quite abruptly then as the alpha’s teeth clamped down on his throat.

The shock, the horror of it, was too much and if she were human, she knew she’d be screaming. Since she was a wolf, however, all that came out was an agonized howl. Julian made a small gasp in horror as well

But Alex wasn’t dead, not yet. His eyes, glazed with pain, slid over to Grey’s. He seemed to be trying to say something, mouth moving, but all that came out was a bubble of blood as his ruptured windpipe flooded. Knowing he couldn’t say or do anything to help her through her grief and shock, Alex instead locked eyes with Teddy above the catwalk and then wrapped his arms tightly around Shepherd.

The wolf struggled against the grip, trying to separate, to get his teeth out of Alex, but dying seemed to have granted Alex a superhuman strength and he didn’t budge, holding the wolf there.

He was buying them time, Grey realized, giving them the signal. Just like that, Teddy was there, landing on the ground with a soft thump. Shepherd couldn’t even turn to look at the sound, making a gruff sound against his victim’s throat but incapable of much else.

Lighting fast, Teddy covered the distance between them and opened the collar enough to slip it onto Shepherd’s neck. As the pieces once more joined, they seemed to fuse together. Then and only then did Alex let go, his hands falling uselessly to the ground. He was gone.

There was a flash of light and then Shepherd was human and screaming, clutching at the collar, fingers scrabbling desperately to try and open it. He staggered away from Alex’s prone body

“It’s no use,” Teddy said, “You can’t transform again, not as long as you have that collar on. You’re done.”

Grey transformed back into her human form and staggered over to Alex. She was sobbing openly, her whole body wracked with grief as she pulled him into her arms. She buried her face in his hair, ignoring the blood as it stained her skin. She didn’t care about Shepherd; not anymore. He was hobbled—all because Alex had made the ultimate sacrifice.

“No,” she keened, clutching him tightly to her as if she could bring him back with the sheer force of her will.

But she couldn’t—of course she couldn’t. He was gone, he was gone, he was gone…

“You think I’m done,” Shepherd gasped, his voice sounding strained. The collar must be tight—she hoped it was.

“How wrong you are, Teddy.”

And just like that, he leapt at the blonde, bearing him to the ground and wrapping his hands around his throat before Grey even registered what had happened.

 

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