1 - Hidden

Caia recognized his ruddy face and chocolate eyes from long ago memories, memories that poked and prodded her heart and set it racing, her ears burning hot with the sudden onslaught of blood rushing to them.

Life was going to be very different from now on.

His dark eyes settled on her only companion these last ten years, Irini, and shifted from soft concern to steely determination.

“It’s finally safe for you to return her, Irini.” His gaze flickered back to Caia as if trying to gauge a reaction.

Irini sagged down into the sofa beside her as her wide eyes flew to his face. “Dimitri, please promise this is for real.”

“I know you have lived alone for a long time… but it’s finally time to come home.”

“What happened?” Irini breathed in disbelief.

Dimitri managed to fold his huge, muscular body into the small armchair before them. He looked to be somewhere in his forties but she knew he must be much older than that. He was an Elder after all.

“Lucien returned five years later to reclaim the pack.”

Caia looked to Irini and then to Dimitri. She had been seven when she was taken from the pack but she still remembered Lucien, a young headstrong male who’d had a fall out with his family and ran away from the pack at fourteen years old. It was less shocking than it sounded, since a fourteen year old lykan was more than capable of taking care of himself, especially one who was bred to be an Alpha. A year after Lucien’s departure, his father, Albus, the Pack Leader, had been killed by The Hunter.


Irini looked shocked at this news. “And the pack welcomed him with open arms?” She shook her head.

“After Albus’ death, no one else tried to track The Hunter. With Lucien being a.w.o.l. everyone was caught up in who was going to be Pack Leader. While you were stuck in this goddess-forsaken place under Marion’s protection, we were trying to reassemble our lives. Then Lucien returned. He didn’t give us much of an explanation…but he told us what he had been up to.” Dimitri’s eyes narrowed. “He killed The Hunter, Irini.”

His eyes went to Caia as did Irini’s. She was puzzled by their guarded looks. Shouldn’t they be happy? The Hunter had killed her father and mother and had wanted to murder her as well. If it hadn’t been for Irini taking her into isolation The Hunter would have killed her. As it was, Albus, a beloved Alpha, was gone because of his determination to see herself and Irini returned to the pack. After all, her father had been Albus’ greatest friend.

“I suppose that gained him his rightful place then?” Irini sneered.

Dimitri shook his head. “No. Magnus and I were willing to see him take up the mantle of Pack Leader-”

“How could you after-”

His hand came up between them shushing her accusation. “Irini, he is extraordinary. Everything his father was and more. He just … needed time.”


“Time.” He sighed and then narrowed his eyes. “Of course there were others, some of the younger males who felt the need to challenge him. We felt it only right that those who challenged him were truly willing to risk everything for the mantle …”

“A Lunarmorte?” Irini breathed.

He merely nodded.

Caia looked between the two of them again. Irini was somewhat closemouthed about the pack and their way of life, but this she had mentioned. Lunarmorte was an ancient ritual amongst their specific lykan pack, dating back to their Portuguese origins. If there was a break in the hereditary line of the pack, or a rebel rising within it, it fell to a Lunarmorte to determine the Pack Leader. It was fought during a full moon and only happened once in a blue one.

“As you can imagine, in the end only one challenged Lucien. Lucien killed him within seconds.”



Irini look unsurprised by this. “You sound impressed. I assume my brother’s done well as Pack Leader these last five years?”

Dimitri stood, towering over them, stating his authority physically. “It was Lucien’s idea to keep you here protected. There are still some Midnight followers of The Hunter on the loose, and we had no way of knowing if they still held plans for Caia.” He nodded towards her, using her name for the first time. “Instead he wanted to wait until we had built a safe new life.”

“And I’m guessing you have now that you’re here.”

“Yes. Lucien has managed to integrate us into a good town. All the families have good jobs. Lucien’s got this furniture business going …” he drifted off at the sour look that passed over Irini’s face.

“We’ve been left here for ten years, Dimitri.”

“I know.”

Irini shook her head in anger. “No! You don’t know. I have been left here with Caia while my brother gallivanted around goddess knows where - not allowed to come home for my father’s funeral, not allowed to even speak one word to my mother!”


“And now my brother just expects me to come home. Like nothing happened? Like he didn’t abandon us? Goddess-”

“Irini!” he growled, and Caia slid back in her seat. She had lived with Irini’s tantrums for ten years. Not entirely sure how to deal with the behavior she had merely listened as Irini hissed and snarled about her predicament. Apparently Dimitri didn’t have the patience for it.

Irini’s eyes widened and she inched closer to Caia.

“You would not even be able to return if it wasn’t for Lucien. As soon as he learned of Albus’ death he hunted The Hunter and he won. He didn’t send for you immediately because he wanted to make sure you had somewhere safe to come home to. And now you have.”

“And if we don’t want to?” she whispered, although Caia was sure she didn’t really mean it.

Dimitri glanced at Caia. “You must,” he said, throwing Irini a meaningful look.

Irini turned to her and reached for her hand. Clasping it she nodded in agreement.

“Do we leave now?” Caia enquired.

Dimitri looked startled by her question. It was the first time she had spoken. “Yes,” he eventually acknowledged. “While you pack, I’ll summon Marion so she can finally drop the protection spell.”

2 - The Unknown

They traveled by plane. Caia sat by Dimitri leaving Irini alone to her thoughts.

“You’re apprehensive.” Dimitri smiled kindly down at her. She brushed her hair behind her ears so she could look up at him. Being so close to him she could smell his own individual brand of beautiful damp earth that identified him as a lykan. It brought with it unprepared for memories. In truth, she sighed inwardly, she had been so long without the pack that if it hadn’t been for her weekly runs with Irini in her true form, she would have felt almost entirely human - a socially deficient human, but one nonetheless. Looking into Dimitri’s eyes she saw blurry images of a life long gone, a life where she had felt a part of something. But it no longer existed, and now they just expected her to what... be one of them again? The pack didn’t know her anymore, and she didn’t know them.

“Of course,” she muttered in reply to his question. “I’m the returning orphan who stole away a member of their pack.”

He laughed. “Irini? She’ll get over it.”

“Really? Because that’s what lykans do, they get over it?”

“Well,” he shrugged, his eyes twinkling, “True we’re a temperamental bunch, but Irini has never blamed you for what happened. No one has.”


“Good to know.” She turned away and gazed straight ahead with her jaw set in determination. Out of the corner of her eye she felt him nod in understanding. It was irritating - she wanted to hide where he couldn’t see through her false bravado.

“Well, as for having no immediate family that will change. It’s only right you go back to staying with Irini and her mother Ella... and Lucien, of course.”

“What about Uncle Magnus?” she tried to sound indifferent. Magnus was an Elder like Dimitri and Ella, and in truth, the lykan she remembered the most.

“He’s there … waiting for you, too.”

They’re all waiting for me, she sighed, trying to tamp down the butterflies in her stomach.

“You’ve been living a civilized life with Irini in a big town much longer than the pack has. I’m sure you fit in at high school much better than any of the pack kids.”

She turned towards him at that, smiling wryly, shaking her head. “Uh well … I wouldn’t say I exactly fit in.”

“What would you say then?”

“I ate lunch in my car.”


The door was thrown open, his tall, gangly assistant, Lars, almost falling into the room in his hurry to get to him.

“The spell!” Lars heaved as he lunged at him, out of breath.

“You’ve been running?” he asked him incredulously, following the trail of sweat that trickled down his assistant’s forehead.

Lars nodded, bending over, his hands braced on his knees as he tried to regain composure. “I … I … I still … haaaa … haven’t … mastered the communication spell you taught me.” He gulped for air again, wheezing as he flopped down beside him.

“Well obviously you rushed with a purpose, spit it out.”

Lars turned to him now, his eyes bright with excitement. “The protection spell is down. She’s unprotected.”

He stiffened at the news “You’re certain?”

“Positive. I’ve been on Marion duty for two years. Her protection spell on the girl has been dropped.”

A tingling of anticipation and bitter hate rushed through him and he found a slow, predatory smile stretching his lips. It was his first smile in many days. “Well you know what this means…”

“It’s time?”

“Activate our agent.”

“They’re on their way, Magnus.” Lucien strolled into his sitting room. Magnus was sprawled across an armchair while his mother Ella poured them all coffee.

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