Evie checked on her children one last time before deciding to turn in. Halfway down the stairs, she heard loud scratching on her back door.
Who could it be this late at night? she wondered.
The visitor continued to scratch anxiously and Evie paused in front of the kitchen door. She glanced down at the large opening at the bottom of her kitchen door. Larger than a standard pet door, the Wolf Door was large enough to let a wolf in. There was no need to secure the Wolf Door because no Wolf would dare enter another’s domain without permission.
The visitor pawed the Wolf Door, scratching lightly, but did not enter.
“Who is it?” Evie demanded.
Evie heard a high pitched, anxious whine and called out, “Come in slowly.”
The Wolf Door lifted up slowly as a dark grey wolf cautiously pushed its head in. The wolf whined as it stared at Evie.
“Serena?” she asked, shocked to see her friend at her door. The wolf barked softly, snapping Evie out of her momentary shock.
“Come in, come in!” Evie insisted.
Serena-wolf entered the Wolf Door and shifted into her human form. Naked, she shivered in the kitchen.
“I’m in trouble, Evie. Remington—” Serena’s voice broke and she began to cry.
Unable to turn her friend away, Evie held her as she cried. When her sobbing finally subsided, Evie led Serena to her bedroom. She gave Serena some of her clothes then built a cozy fire.
“Are you hungry?”
“I haven’t eaten all day,” Serena confessed. “I really don’t think I can keep anything down.”
“I’ll make some ginger tea. It will help settle your stomach. Lie down and I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Evie said gently.
Evie prepared the tea and carried it to her room on a small tray. Serena lay curled up on the bed, staring at the fire. She forced Serena to drink half a cup of tea before asking, “What kind of trouble are you in, Serena?”
“Oh, Evie! I—” She took a deep breath and made her confession.
“I ran away from Remington,” she whispered.
Evie was momentarily speechless.
“You’re supposed to be mated tomorrow, Serena.”
“I know,” she cried. Serena covered her face and sobbed some more. Evie moved to sit near her. Evie put her arm around Serena’s shoulders and pulled her close. Worried, she asked, “Serena, what happened? Most women would be flattered to be his mate. Remington is an alpha. He is rich. Powerful. Handsome… in a rugged way. I know at least half a dozen women who are envious of you.”
“I know, Evie. Believe me, I know. I should be flattered that his father chose me to be his mate.” Serena sniffled as she spoke to Evie.
“So what happened, Serena? Why did you run away?”
“I just…I can’t be his mate, Evie. He’s so.…” Serena hung her head before continuing, “He’s so aggressive. S-s-sexually.”
“Oh,” Evie said, surprised at Serena’s answer.
“We’re not true mates, Evie. I feel nothing for him. No sexual attraction whatsoever. He hasn’t touched me yet, but he is so….” Serena left the bed and began to pace in front of the fire.
“Every time he’s near me, when we are alone, he touches me. He’s always grabbing my ass, my breasts. He even touches me….he keeps….grabbing me…between the legs, cupping me. And that’s not the worst, Evie. He says things….about what he will do to me after we’re mated. Things he expects….” Serena paused in front of the fire, her back to Evie.
“I just can’t be his mate, Evie. The last four months have been awful. I dread his touch.” She turned to face Evie. “I get this feeling, deep in the pit of my stomach whenever he’s near. I can’t live the rest of my life like that, Evie. I just can’t.”
“I’m sorry, Serena. Having a mate shouldn’t be torturous, even if he isn’t your true mate,” Evie stated. Evie bit her lip.
“Serena, I hope you realize that the Tarchannen Tracker will hunt you as soon as the pack realizes you’ve left.”
“It’s not the Tracker I’m worried about,” Serena whispered. She feared Remington himself would search for her.
“If he finds me….” Serena refused to say aloud the penalty for her crime. According to Tarchannen Pack Law, Remington must choose between raping, killing or selling her to another pack. He could also choose to beat her in front of her pack then mate her, but knowing Remington, his ego would never allow him to mate with a wolf that abandoned him. Serena shuddered and hoped he would have the decency to kill her, rather than selling her to another pack.
“What are you going to do, Serena?”
“I’ve already done it, Evie. I’ve run away. I just have to keep running.”
“Oh, Serena, where will you go? You cannot seek refuge from another pack. Any alpha you encounter would be forced to return you to Remington.”
“I realize I will have to stay away from packs,” Serena said.
“What happens if you run into a Rogue?” Evie asked worriedly.
“I will stay as far away from other wolves as possible, Evie.”
“Then how will you ever find your true mate?” Evie asked.
“I…guess it will never happen for me, Evie. But it doesn’t matter. A life on the run is better than a life with Remington.”
“Serena….” Evie stood and walked over to Serena. Not knowing what to say, she hugged her tightly.
“I will do what I can to help you, Serena.” Evie released Serena and went to her walk in closet. She returned a few minutes later with a thick envelope. She handed the envelope to Serena. Puzzled, Serena took the envelope and opened it. She glanced at Evie, tears in her eyes.
“It’s ten thousand dollars. Not much, but enough to get you the hell out of here and hopefully off his radar for a while.”
“Evie.” Her voice cracked. “Thank you. Thank you.” She hugged Evie and sniffed. “I know you are taking a huge risk by helping me.”
“That’s what friends are for, Serena.”
Evie gave her a squeeze before releasing her. She searched her room for a small bag that would fit around Serena-wolf’s neck. She took the envelope, placed it in the bag and zipped it up.
“I better get going. I want to get as much of a head start as possible.”
Serena stripped and shifted into her wolf form. Evie set the bag around Serena-wolf’s neck and they walked to the Wolf Door. Evie gave her one last hug before Serena-Wolf disappeared through the Wolf Door.