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Highland Wolf Pact:Compromising Positions(34)

By:Selena Kitt

"Ye've t'listen t'me," Kirstin sobbed, pulling the blanket Laina had  given her more fully around her. She was cold, hungry, tired, but those  things could wait. "Please. Take me t'Raife. Take me t'Darrow. I'll tell  'em everythin'. But I do'na wanna t'have t'say it twice."         



"A'righ', we'll take ye to 'em," Laina soothed. "But firs' let's get ye  cleaned up and dressed, mayhaps feed ye, and we can talk-"

"There's no time!" Kirstin howled, tears streaked down her face.  "They're goin' t'kill ye all. The women, the children-they're goin'  t'kill them first. Yer baby, Laina. They're goin' t'kill yer baby. Yer  son, Sibyl, the one ye carry in yer belly. They'll cut it out and gut ye  like a fish."

She made her language as horrible and her images as vivid as she  possibly could. It worked. Sibyl went pale, her hand moving to her still  flat belly.

"Kirstin, you're scaring me," Sibyl whispered, meeting Laina's big eyes  and they both looked back to Kirstin. Garaith was wailing now, as if  he'd picked up on the energy in the room.

"Ye should be scared. I'm terrified. And the wors' part is-I do'na know  if we can stop them," Kirstin confessed hoarsely. The weight of her  words felt like an avalanche of rock falling over her head, burying her.  "Where's yer mate? Where's Raife? Where's my righ?"

Righ-her king. If anyone knew what to do, how to keep them safe, it would be Raife.

"He's in the kitchen," Sibyl said. Her lips barely moved. It was like she was frozen. "They're restringing the bows today..."

With that, Kirstin was off, tearing down the tunnels barefoot, wearing  just a shirt, the blanket wrapped around her shoulders trailing behind  her like a plaid cape. She didn't even stop to see if they were  following her.

Raife was far easier to convince than Sibyl and Laina had been.

He and Darrow listened to it all without comment, her whole story, from  the time she'd run away from the castle, to the time Lorien had scouted  her and brought her into the den. Sibyl sat beside Laina on one of the  long kitchen benches, the two women grasping hands. Sibyl was so pale by  the time Kirstin was done with her story, her freckles stood out on her  cheeks like constellations. She sat with her hand over her belly, and  Kirstin knew she was thinking about the bairn she carried. Kirstin was  thinking about all of them-all of the bairns, and their mothers.

Her pack. Her family. The last of their kind.

They all stood, gathered around, to hear Kirstin's story, and they all  looked to Raife to see what to do. Their leader was quiet, thoughtful,  and it was Darrow who spoke first.

"We hafta barricade ourselves in," Darrow urged. "Seal off both exits."

"If we do that, we're sealin' our own tomb." Raife shook his head.

"Donal will protect us," Kirstin insisted. It was the only thing she  could think of-and not just because she wanted to go back to the  MacFalon castle. "If we go t'him, he'll protect the wulvers. I know he  will."

"The wolf pact doesn't exist," Darrow scoffed. "We can'na trust The MacFalon."

"He loves me," Kirstin assured him. Even though she'd left him, she knew  this was true. "And he'll honor t'wolf pact wit' his life, no matter  what t'English king says."

"Ye said his bride is on t'way," Raife reminded her, frowning. "And King Henry did'na grant the dispensation."

"It will'na matter," Kirstin assured him. "He'll do it, because he loves  me. He'll do it because he cares about all t'wulvers. He will'na wanna  see anythin' bad happen t'any of us."

Raife considered this.

"There's plenty of room at the castle... or..." She bit her lip, the  idea just coming to her. "Raife, we could go down into t'first den. Our  numbers aren't as great as they once were. We don't take up half this  mountain anymore. There's enough room in t'first den t'house  e'eryone..."

"If we can'na barricade ourselves in, we can face 'em," Darrow  countered. "Whoever comes-no man can stand against a wulver warrior."

"Can a wulver warrior stand in the face of magic?" Kirstin asked softly, glancing between Raife and Darrow.

"Nuh magic spell can compel me," Darrow sneered, rolling his eyes. "D'ye  really think we'd follow anyone, simply because a witch said some silly  words over some silvermoon? She threw a knife at ye and scared ye, 'tis  all … "

Kirstin swallowed, looking at Sibyl and Laina, seeing a knowing in their  eyes. Men were always doubtful of witchcraft, either afraid of it  because they didn't understand or like its power, or distrustful and  doubtful. Darrow had always been the latter, even though Laina's belief  they could break the wulver-woman's curse was dependent on the idea of  magic.         



Raife looked at his brother, frowning, then at Kirstin, who stood as  tall as she could in her plaid blanket, speaking up so everyone could  hear her.

"I assure ye, there is a witch," she insisted. "She did'na throw a knife  at me, Darrow. She ne'er touched it. It wasn't in 'er hand. It jus' …   flew."

Raife was listening-and that was good.

"It grazed me, Righ. Look." Kirsten turned, dropping the blanket,  pulling her shirt down in back to reveal her wound. "But it did'na stop  there. The knife wobbled back and forth in the bark, like this."

She showed them with her hand, mimicking a fish's movement through the water.

"If it had'na hit the tree with such force, I think it would've pulled  instantly free and found me heart." She swallowed at the memory. "I'm  tellin' ye, Darrow-that blade was tryin' t'pull itself out so it could  finish the job … "

"It was enchanted, Righ." She turned her pleas back to Raife's receptive  ears. Darrow just scoffed and rolled his eyes. He was a man who could  turn into a half-wolf, and yet he doubted the existence of magic? The  strangeness of it almost made her want to laugh.

"It would take days to gather everyone, to pack them all, and at least  that long to reach the MacFalon castle," Sibyl said, putting a hand on  her husband's arm. "We'd be giving Donal no warning and-"

"We do'na have time." Kirstin interrupted her with a shake of her dark  head. "We need t'go. Now. We can'na wait. We can'na stay. We hafta go,  and we hafta go now."

"Raife, we can't just leave everything..." Sibyl glanced nervously at  Kirstin, and then back at her husband. "Aren't we safe here, in the  mountain?"

Kirstin saw doubt pass over Raife's face, and he looked at Sibyl. He  wanted to tell her they were safe, that they could stay. Kirstin saw  that much in his eyes. He wanted to give his mate what she wanted, and  Sibyl didn't want to leave. This was the place she called home now, and  the fact that she was with child made her all the more protective of her  territory.

"Aye." Raife nodded slowly, touching Sibyl's cheek.

"No!" Kirstin cried, ignoring the dark look in Raife's eyes at her protest. "D'you know what yer sayin'? What yer riskin'?"

She'd thought of nothing else, on her run through the woods. She'd seen  images in her mind of slaughter and death, the wulver warriors slaying  their own mates, their own children, the tunnels in the mountain running  with rivers of blood. She couldn't let that happen.

"Kirstin, we're glad ye told us," Darrow said, sighing. "Now we can be prepared if they try t'get in. But y'know nothin' of-"

"Raife, please," she pleaded, ignoring Darrow's words, ignoring the way  the wulver warriors agreed with him, nodding their heads. Had the  witch's magic already started to work, then? Were they already being  compelled? That thought made her blood turn to ice in her veins. "She's  powerful, this Moraga. I do'na think her name's any accident. It was  Morag who killed Ardis, the first she-wulver. Do ye n'remember the  legend?"

"More legends, more magic!" Darrow threw up his hands.

"She's goin' t'compel ye." Kirstin knew it was hard to believe. She  wouldn't have believed it herself if she hadn't seen the witch's blade  fly through the air all on its own, if she hadn't seen it struggling to  free itself from the tree. What could she do to convince them? "Jus'  like she did the blade. Lord Eldred's goin' t'use e'ery one of ye to his  own ends. But first, he's goin' t'have ye kill yer women, yer  children."

"Yer goin' t'draw yer sword on yer mate, Darrow." Kirstin couldn't keep  the tears from falling down her cheeks as she looked at her sister-wolf,  Laina, and little Garaith, happily suckling at her breast once more.  "Yer gonna slit yer own bairn's throat. Is that what ye want?"

"Enough!" Raife said roughly as a small sob escaped Sibyl's throat, her  hands low on her belly. "Kirstin, enough! I know y're afeared, but-"