The wolves come at me all at once. The wolf that is Johan jumps across the table. I duck underneath the dining room table pushing the chairs out of the way. Johan's wolf bites at me ravaging below. It snaps. Its fangs are dripping with spit and its jaws come only inches away from my foot.
My heart is racing!
I have to bring out the wolf!
I'm paying so much attention to Johan that I don't notice Matty coming from the other side of the table snapping to fit underneath the table. Johan bites hard into my wrist. I pull it away as hard as I can...but it's too late. 6 inches of flesh are ripped clean off my wrist from Matty's jaw. As soon as I pull away I struggle to push the chairs in front of me and block them from coming under the table. The wolves are so big. They are so fucking terrifying. I'm struggling at that moment to find my composure. I have to calm down to let my wolf come out.
I have to focus.
There is more snarling as the jaws bite down. The two wolves are coming at me from both sides. I am changing into my wolf at that moment. My muscles tighten and expand. My clothes start to shred. I have no time to get naked. I just have to change.
Fur grows all over my body.
My mouth starts to form into the red wolf's mouth.
Then the table flips completely! FUCK! I NEED TO CHANGE! I need more time. I don't get that time. I'm halfway through my metamorphosis when I realize that it's Ian's wolf who has flipped the table. The three wolves corner me as I struggle to change and back away at the same time. My mind is half wolf and half human at this point. My instincts are all over the place. I back up into a corner.
Was this the way that I was going to die?
Was I going to be ripped apart by these jealous wolves?
Ian attacks first!
I spin fast attempting to get away. I manage to avoid his bite I don't miss his claws They slash into the side of my back. Matty attacks next biting at my changing limbs. Johan doesn't even let the other two get a chance before he attempts to deliver a killing blow to my throat. I fight back. My heart is racing and instinct is taking over. I'm snapping at the Ian who is the biggest wolf. I can barely fight the others off. I'm moving in circles as fast as I can.
Bite, turn, scratch!
Bite, turn, scratch!
I'm managing somehow to stay alive. How I'm fighting off three wolves is beyond me but I'm still alive. I even start to think that maybe I'll survive this. Maybe I'll come out of this alive somehow. If only I can maneuver my way to the door.
I bite, I turn. I scratch.
That's when I feel the full weight of Ian's wolf on top of me attempting to pin me down. His nails dig deep into my flesh. All I feel is blood. A part of me wants to give up but I know if I give up at this moment I'm dead. I'd be dead.
I can't die here. Not like this!
I can't die here!
So I snap. My jaws are more vicious than my bite but it doesn't matter. Just looking ferocious gives me at least a second or two in between attacks. They think about it when they see the saliva dripping from my canines. I'm full wolf now. That's at least a part of it. At least my human flesh isn't coming off any longer.
I need a plan.
I can't take them all on.
I need to focus on one of them...which one though.
Ian was too big. Matty was too fast.
I manage to bite down on the smallest wolf Johan. I bite one of his legs as hard as I can. I'm ignoring the fact that Matty and Ian are attacking me. I focus all of my bite onto Johan. The other two bite down on me. Matty is biting down on my lower back. My spine is strong and the bite doesn't affect me really. It's Ian's bite that bothers. Ian bites down on my tail.
Ian clutches down on my tail. I've lost this fight today. Even as a wolf I can see him snicker knowing that he's gotten the best of me.
Then he pulls.
He rips my tail completely off!
The howl is the loudest noise I've ever made before. The howl is a desperate cry for help. I was going to die to day. Could anyone hear me? Could anyone come and save me.
Luckily the door opens. Qadir and Mayorga of the Vanderbilts.
"What's going on here?" Mayorga challenges the wolves.
Qadir doesn't wait for an answer. Within seconds he's full wolves. Ian and his goons don't even get the chance to defend themselves. Qadir's wolf is huge. He's double the size of an average wolf. Maybe even more than double. The only other wolf that compares to Qadir's wolf is Walid. By the time Mayorga joins in the fight it's already over.
The other wolves are beaten and have ducked up against the walls with their tails in between their legs.
At least they had tails.
Qadir has turned back into a human. He is looking down on me. I'm still in wolf form. I'm bleeding all over the place.
"Are you OK?" Qadir asks me.
I can't answer him. I can't change back to a human. I'm losing so much blood. I feel so faint. I'm struggling to stay alive. I'm just lying there. The red fur on my wolf is pasted with the thick red taint of blood. Mayorga is back in his human form as well but he stands off to the side next to his lover. He has wrapped himself with the table cloth.
Within a few minutes' others come into the room wondering what is going on. I try to make out the faces of some of them but I can't turn my head too much. I feel almost paralyzed from the attack.
There is one presence that appears in the next couple of minutes that is undeniable.
"Get the fuck off of him!" Walid demands.
His steps are louder than anything that I've noticed before. Qadir doesn't have the chance to explain what is happening. He doesn't even have the chance to defend himself. Walid picks him up with one hand and tosses Qadir across the room. Qadir hits the wall so hard that his body fractures the marble. He lays on the ground and on his knees. Either he is unable to get back up or he is showing that Walid is the more dominant wolf. He just stares at the ground.
Walid scoops me up even though I'm still in wolf form. He brings me into his arms. He just so happens to be wearing a red fur coat today and I can't tell where my fur ends and his fur coat begins. He brushes my coat at that moment.
"It wasn't Qadir," Mayorga defends his lover, "Yaser was attacked by those three Betas."
The passive submission is clear when Walid glares over at Ian, Matty and Johan. They don't dare attack him. They don't even attempt to defend themselves against him like they did with Qadir. They show all the signs of being subordinate wolves. Ian has laid on his side, exposing the vulnerable side of his chest and abdomen. Matty and Johan notice Ian and follow suit exhibiting their submissive behavior by holding their tails down and lowering their bodies. All three wolves avert their gaze showing Walid that the fight is over and they no longer want to ensue any other trouble.
I wish I could care too much about this behavior. My tail was ripped off though. What was a wolf without a tail? I can see it on the other side of the room.
Ian had ripped it clean off.
"You protected him Qadir?" Walid asks him.
Qadir doesn't speak verbally. He just gives a nod.
"We were walking by and he heard him howl. Qadir ran to his aid," Mayorga states, "Qadir knows how you feel about him Walid. He protected him because of you."
Walid looks at Qadir. He looks back down at me. I am shocked when Walid pulls me close. He holds me there at that moment. He rubs my fur. He's so gentle and this time he's being gentle in front of everyone. This isn't a private thing. This is very public. This is very clear.
"You are a loyal," Walid says to Qadir, "Thank you. Thank you for helping him. He means everything to me..."
"If he's the one you choose. I'll protect him for life," Qadir tells Walid.
He approaches Walid and Walid strokes the top of his head. This is a big sign of respect I think among wolves. Dakota used to do it to me all the time. Speaking of Dakota, I smelled him. I smelled him somewhere ... coming near.
I think I hear him gasp slightly and it's followed by a scream.
"Oh my god...Yaser!" Yuma states.
I don't see my brother but I hear him. He's panicking...no doubt seeing my condition. It tears me apart to know that my brother has to see me like this. We haven't been getting along lately but I could only imagine what it would be like to see Yuma torn up. I can't move my head to notice how many others have walked in the room. I'm assuming it's a lot by all the different scents I'm smelling. One scent next to Yuma's is unmistakable. Dakota has walked in the room as well. I can smell him approaching with my little brother.
I hate myself right now. I hate how disfigured I am. I am a wolf without a tail. This is more than embarrassing. I have lost my pride. I have lost my sense of self with my tail.
"Hold him back!" Walid screams at that moment.
Someone holds Yuma back by Walid's order. I'm assuming that it is Dakota.
"He's dying sir," Mayorga states, "With all due respect. There isn't a way we can get him to a doctor with the storm outside..."
"Don't you think I know that," Walid asks.
"SAVE HIM!" Yuma is screaming at the top of his lungs.
Tears are coming out of his eyes. Even though he is being held back I turn and notice him crying there. Dakota is holding my brother. Seeing how Dakota holds my brother and comforts him makes me happy that he is actually there for my brother. In case anything happened to me there was no one else that I'd rather be around my brother then Dakota.
If I was in human form, I'd smile looking over to him. Dakota is making him strong. He's comforting him in the same way that Walid is comforting me right now.
"Yuma. It may be too late," Dakota states.
There is so much pain in Dakota's voice when he says that. The reaction when he says it seems to send Yuma into a full blown panic. Yuma collapses on the ground in tears. The other wolves who are starting into the room seem to notice.
That's when I see it. I look over at Walid and I notice a single tear start coming down his eye.
He looks down at me, "I can't believe this is happening to me again. I can't believe I'm losing someone I care about again. How come I can never be happy? How come I'm always too late to make a difference?"
I can feel myself losing so much blood. I can feel myself losing everything. If there was no doctor around, then I'd be dead within minutes possibly.
It's crazy that I feel this sense of pride while dying. I made THE ALPHA Walid cry. That was amazing. This was a man's man. This was a wolf's wolf. You don't just make someone like Walid cry. I expect Yuma to break down that way. I even expect Dakota to show a little bit of emotion with his shaky voice. I don't expect Walid though. I don't expect him to be reacting like this.
If I died...I was OK. I knew I had an impact in his life.
I was fine with that.
"There's a way," a voice interrupts.
The other wolves turn to Qadir. He is still close to me after getting praise from Walid for saving me. He looks down at me.
The look of expression is in Qadir's eyes. He's standing there completely naked in front of everyone but still there is so much intention behind those eyes. He's the most concealed person in this room. I don't trust him for some reason. I look at him in his eyes and I can see him plotting. His eyes raise up and looks over at Walid.
He looks over at me. I can almost read his mind.
"Genesis Bah..." Qadir states.
"The witchdoctor?" Walid asks, "You stupid enough to come at me with that BULLSHIT!"
Walid's voice is loud. It causes Qadir to back up a few feet. I almost think by Walid's tone that he would take Qadir's head off completely if he wasn't holding me. It's lucky for Qadir that Walid is being gentle with me at that moment.
Mayorga interrupts, "Sir. He wants wolf's bones. He'd be willing to do anything for them---including saving Yaser."
"He wants bone. I can arrange that," Walid states looking over at Ian and his friends.
The three dogs whimper at that moment and stare down at the ground. I smell piss. I wonder which one of them has pissed themselves in fear.
"That's not who he wants. He says the older the bones the better. He wants a wolf that hasn't been around for a long time. You know who he wants sir..." Qadir interrupts.
I'm panicking. I'm not strong enough to protest this. Something is wrong with this. Something is wrong with all of this.
"For what purpose?" Naomi of the Vanderbilt Pack asks.
"What does it matter?" Qadir spits, "We all know Walid has the bones. They are no better than dust right now. Give them to Genesis. Nasir is the gone. I love my brother too Walid, but he's gone. Yaser isn't. Not unless you don't act."
Walid looks down at me.
"He's close?" Walid asks.
NO. FUCK! He was feeding into Qadir's bullshit.
"I can bring him here in minutes," Qadir states.
Walid doesn't even seem to notice how odd this sounds. He is so into me. There was a point that I would kill to have Walid into me in the way that he is. Now wasn't that time though. He's not thinking reasonably. He looks down at me. At this moment I am struggling to change back with all my strength. I'm struggling to communicate with Walid and tell him not to do this.
Luckily I'm not the only one who doesn't agree with this.
"You can't be considering this Walid," Naomi states, "There are other Betas. Prince is..."
"Fuck PRINCE!" Yuma says at the top of his lungs.
"Learn your place Beta," Naomi growls.
Yuma doesn't stand down, "Walid clearly cares about Yaser. Prince doesn't stand a chance. I don't stand a chance. Why do you think Ian and his fucking friends attacked him? They were scared. I know. I heard them talk about it myself. They knew that unless they got rid of my brother they'd lose."
Yuma standing up for me right now made me feel so good in a way. He was around Ian and his friends to know that. People trusted Yuma. He had no reason to lie.
"I won't let your brother die," Walid tells Yuma, "We won't lose him. Not today. I promise."
Walid saying "we" won't lose him seems to strike a chord. Yuma exhales deeply.
The other Vanderbilt wolves seem to start grumbling. The competition isn't even over. Even though I knew Naomi and the others had their own intentions for opposing this I kind of wanted to see them succeed. I wanted Naomi to get through to Walid.
"This sounds dangerous," Timus of the Vanderbilt Pack says, "There are whispers even among wolves about Genesis Bah. People are afraid of that name. Maybe you should listen to Naomi."
"You're asking him to watch someone he's falling in love with die," Mayorga argues, "Have you ever experienced that Timus? Have any of you? I didn't think so."
"You say the witchdoctor can save him?" Walid asks.
"Walid be reasonable," Walid's brother Fang says.
"ENOUGH!" Walid states, "Fang. Go get Nasir's bones. Give them to his brother. Go find the Witchdoctor and let him know that we have a deal."
There is silence in the room.
Fang leaves the room with Qadir and Mayorga to bring Nasir's bones to the witchdoctor. My heart is skipping a beat when they leave the room.
Walid signals Dakota to come over.
Dakota stands there, "Yes sir?"
"You are Yasser's guardian right?" he asks Dakota.
Dakota looks down at me and nods, "Yes. I am."
"Take him in the study," Walid directs him before turning to Ian and his friends, "I don't want him to see what I'm about to do to his enemies."
Several minutes pass, I'm in the study with Dakota and Yuma. I'm struggling to change the entire time. It isn't until I smell the fire outside that I manage to get the strength to change. My entire body in human form is still bleeding. My ass is bleeding. I'm not healing. I'm not getting better.
"Yas, what the fuck!" Yuma notices I've gone back into human form.
My human form is weaker than my wolf form. I manage to crawl over to the windows. Walid has started a fire out on the lawn. He is burning the bodies of Ian, Matty and Johan. I have no doubt that Walid killed them in that room. They didn't even stand a chance.
"That was a stupid decision," Dakota tells me, "You were already weak enough Yas. You shouldn't have changed."
I don't care about being weak.
"You have to stop this," I state, "I'm not...not going to make it anyway..."
Yuma looks over at me, "Don't be ridiculous. The witchdoctor is going to come and fix you. Didn't you hear Qadir. He said that the witchdoctor can save you."
"At what cost?" I ask.
Yuma looks away. My little brother is young and ignorant. He doesn't understand these things as of yet. The study is completely quiet. We're all waiting patiently for Qadir to return with the witchdoctor. Out of the window I can see Walid watching the fire flicker. He's focused on not losing me like he lost Nasir. This isn't right. None of this is right.
doesn't want to lose you," Dakota explains to me before pausing, taking a deep
breath and admitting, "None of us want to lose you."
Dakota was reasonable. He was a logical person. He thought with his head a lot of the times and always put his heart second. Yuma was too young and Walid was too primal. Dakota was the only one who would listen to logic now and make sense of this.
"We don't ---" I start off.
I collapse on the floor.
It's my brother who comes over and helps me up, "Stop trying to talk Yas. Save your strength for when the Witchdoctor gets here."
I shake my head. I have to let this out. I look over at Dakota.
"Dakota. We don't know what the witchdoctor wants," I state, "What about Qadir? Why would Qadir be helping the witchdoctor. What could the next biggest wolf in the pack want?"
"Power?" Dakota asks.
Yuma pushes at Dakota, "Dakota don't. Don't even. That witchdoctor has my mother. Remember. Let him have those fucking bones."
"Dakota please..." I start off.
I'm struggling to get through to them. Don't trust Qadir. Don't trust the Witchdoctor. Don't trust them no matter what! I could heal on my own. I could fight this."
Dakota shakes his head, "Yuma is right. I'm sorry Yas. You're in way too bad of shape to risk it. This is the best way. This way you don't have to betray Walid. He chose to give away the bones. This is a win-win scenario. Everyone gets what they want. The witchdoctor gets his bones. Your mother is safe. And you get Walid. Isn't that what you want?"
He looks at me hard.
The question is rolling through my mind. What did I want? Who did I want? Dakota is examining my face looking for that answer. Yuma is watching as well seeing how I react.
"Yes. That's who I want," I state.
Dakota nods. There is a form of acceptance at that moment. Through all this he seems to have found that acceptance. Maybe after seeing him with Yuma I found the acceptance between the two of them as well. They were going to be together. It was clear.
And I wanted Walid.
That was clear.
Dakota nods, "We are making the right choice Yas. Everyone gets what they want. Everyone wins."
I decide that maybe Dakota has a point. It's 10 minutes later and I'm feeling faint when they arrive in the study. They have the Witchdoctor with them. The Witchdoctor is wearing a red shawl. He always wears red. It's funny that it just so happens to be Walid's favorite color as well. The Witchdoctor has a presence about him. He barley steps. He almost glides across the room.
There are only select wolves that have been allowed to be in the room. Walid and his brother Fang are in the room. Dakota and Yuma are allowed to stay. Then there is Timus who I assume is the smartest Vanderbilt. I think Walid has a reason to allow Timus to stay in the room.
"I'm glad we finally came to an agreement," the Witchdoctor says.
Walid domes over the Witchdoctor. You would think Genesis Bah would be afraid of Walid. Anyone would be afraid of someone Walid's size. There is no fear in the Witchdoctor's eyes. There is no emotion really at all when he looks at Walid. He is indifferent. Walid could be 1-foot-tall or 10 feet tall. It made no difference to Genesis Bah.
Walid's eyes on the other hand are threatening when they look at Genesis, "You got your bones waiting for you. Do what you came to do. Yas is suffering."
Genesis smiles at him, "A man about his business. I like that. I need a sacrifice."
"A what?" Timus of the Vanderbilt pack asks.
"The magic I do requires sacrifice. Nature doesn't give something for nothing," Genesis states, "Everything has a balance. For every action something must be taken."
"You're playing games. I already gave you the bones."
"The bones were for me. For my magic I'll need a sacrifice. This is for Yaser. This isn't something new of course. Haven't you seen the Little Mermaid when you were younger. Ariel was given her legs but she had to give up her voice," Genesis explains, "Equivalent exchange has been around even in Disney. Call me Ursula if you'd like. So tell me, what would you give to spend a day in the sun?"
"SPEAK NORMAL!" Walid growls.
"Do you want to save him or not?"
"I do," Walid states.
His anger seems so soften at the idea of saving me.
"I need a sacrifice from someone that cares about him a lot," Genesis states, "I need just a little bit of blood...that's all."
Genesis flashes a dagger. I've seen the dagger before. He used it on the fire before.
Walid nods, "Fine. Give me the dagger. I'll draw my blood for him."
"Not from you," Genesis states.
Walid shakes his head, "Believe me. His brother may love him but I need him in my life. I can't lose him. I care the most..."
"I don't want his brother. I don't want you," Genesis states and turns his knife around the room, "Him..."
"Him?" Walid asks.
"Me?" Dakota copies.
Genesis has his knife pointed at Dakota.
Yuma looks uncomfortable at that moment. I'm more uncomfortable. I'm so weak and fragile but I kind of want to kick this witchdoctor out of the room for prolonging this thing. A part of me wonders if he was playing with us like puppets on a string. This was entertaining for Genesis. He was smiling so hard at that moment.
"You loved him for the longest," Genesis tells Dakota, "You've been in love, haven't you wolf? Secretly you pined for him. I can feel the energy all around you. Yes. You. You'll do."
"I don't know what you're talking about..." Dakota states.
Dakota is trying to save face. I can only imagine how embarrassing this feels in front of both Yuma and Walid. I don't think anyone believes him though. I don't believe him. I don't think Yuma believes him and when I see Walid stare at Dakota I don't think Walid believes him either.
"DO WHAT HE SAYS!" Walid barks at Dakota.
Dakota won't fight with Walid. He holds out his hand.
Genesis takes a knife at that moment and cuts Dakota's palm. When the blood comes out I hear Genesis chanting something slowly. As he slowly chants the room seems to flicker. All of a sudden I feel like we're not alone in this room. It feels like there is some other presence in this room with us. The presence flickers and attempts to stay around.
Then it comes alive.
And it touches me. It touches me right on my shoulder and I shiver.
There are sparks and then I pass out.
I wake up to a feeling of emptiness. I'm in a room. On the other side of the room is Dakota. He's just sitting there. He doesn't say anything. When I get up I realize that I'm fully healed.
"The Witchdoctor says you are good. Your tail won't grow back but you'll live," Dakota states at that moment.
I feel better than good when I get up off the bed from the study. My heart is beating as I walk over to him. I realize that I'm strong. I'm stronger than I was before. I feel so good. The magic of the Witchdoctor is definitely remarkable. Tail or not I was glad to be alive.
"You were right," I tell Dakota, "Everything worked out in the end. Thank you. You've always looked out for me. You always gave me good advice. Guess everything worked out."
Dakota smiles, "I have no doubt after all that, you are going to win the competition. Walid told everyone that he has a big announcement tomorrow night."
I raise an eyebrow, "A big announcement?"
Dakota sighs, "Don't play coy. He's going to choose you. He's going to stop the competition. Everyone knows this. It's not a big secret. He has his people working with me to pick out coordinating outfits for the ceremony already."
My heart is beating faster and faster.
Oh shit. This is happening.
"Oh my god."
"Congratulations," he says, "You got what you want."
The way Dakota says it is heavy. I wonder how long he's been waiting in the room. It's night outside at that moment.
"What Genesis said earlier about you being in love with me---"
Dakota has a heaviness at that moment. He doesn't look in my eyes. He's staring at the rug. He seems sad and kind of out of it. A part of me wants to go over to him and comfort him but the majority of me is confused by it.
"It's all true," Dakota states.
There was a time I would have given anything to have Dakota say that he was in love with me. For two years we probably were in love with one another and pretending like we weren't. I look over at Dakota now and a part of me just wants to accept this.
"Dakota. This thing that I have going on with Walid," I start off, "It makes me um...happy."
"I know. I get it. And I shouldn't be downplaying my feelings for Yuma."
"So everyone's happy."
"Not exactly. Yuma said it's over between us. After what the Witchdoctor said I think it was the last straw for him. Knowing I was actually in love with you seemed too much for him So when the Witchdoctor released your mother, Yuma quit the competition and left with her."
"In the storm?" I ask.
"The storm is passed," he responds.
How convenient that the storm has passed right when Genesis gets what he wanted.
I feel sad at that moment.
"I'll talk to him."
"Don't," Dakota states, "I'll figure it out. Besides, you have a friend that is waiting outside for you to wake up."
My heart is racing. Karamo set me up. I could be dead now because of him. Every part of me just wants to rip him in half.
"I came to say goodbye. I'm leaving. A lot of boys are. A lot of people figure we don't stand a chance after what he did for you. It's almost clear who he's going to choose. The only men are left standing are you and Prince. Prince just refused to believe that he'd lose to you."
Karamo enters the room when Dakota leaves. He doesn't look me in my eyes. He's showing that he is being passive. I'm raging. I want to tear into him.
"Give me one reason I should let you leave this room?" I ask him.
Karamo shakes his head, "I know you are angry---"
"ANGRY!" I ask, "I'm more than that. I'll be angry after I kill you."
I approach him. I circle him. At this moment I want to get back for all the pain that Ian, Matty and Johan caused me. This was all because of my so called best friend. I wanted to make him pay for it. I wanted to make him feel what I felt. I feel the wolf inside of me wanting to come out and rip Karamo's head off.
I circle behind him. I can see the veins in his neck. My wolf could break through those veins in one bite. All I needed was one good opening and I'd be good. All I needed was one good way to get at him. He'd be done for.
Karamo shakes. He is breathing heavy.
For the first time in a long time I feel like a proper wolf when I smell the sweat dripping down from his forehead. He is so nervous at that moment. He knows I'd do it. He knows I'd kill him right here where he stood. I had no reason not to. He thought he'd just come in here and say goodbye and I'd let him leave as though nothing happened.
Did he think I was so stupid?
I was on my way to being Walid's Beta. I was on my way to be the second most powerful wolf in this territory. There was no way I'd just let him walk over me.
I can smell his fear when Karamo hugs himself and holds himself close before whimpering softly, "I didn't have a choice."
"What?" I stop. I'm confused.
"He took Aunt Annie," Karamo explains, "He had her. I had to do what he said. I had to win. He wanted me to lock you in the room with Ian, Matty and Johan. He organized the whole attack. He put a battery in their backs and made them think it was possible to kill you. He kept saying that he needed Walid to trust him. He needed Walid to give up the bones."
I didn't think the witchdoctor could control wolves. I was pretty sure he couldn't. Had the witchdoctor found some other way to manipulate wolves?
"The witchdoctor was using you too?" I ask realizing what he was doing to my own mother.
"Witchdoctor?" he asks, "No. No not him. It was Qadir. Qadir set you up."
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