A white heat prickled across her skin, boiling her blood as it passed inch by inch from her feet up through her legs. It was a familiar heat she had felt only once before.

“And there I am, waking up next to his gorgeous body. I think the pack will be celebrating another mating soon, and when we do,” she smiled and touched her flat belly, “This will be a whole lot rounder.”

At those last words, without warning and with no way to control it even though she knew what would happen, the white heat blasted out from her body like a force and sent a horrified Alexa flying across the other side of the room. The sound of her peers gasping and chairs scraping back was lost on her. She stared at Alexa in horror, her hands trembling, the blood pounding in her ears.

And then the worst happened.

A familiar wincing pain radiated from her left hand. She glanced down and saw her fair pelt pushing through the soft flesh there. She slapped her other hand over it so they couldn’t see. No! Oh goddess. She couldn’t breathe.

“What on earth?” she heard the teacher cry as Alexa stumbled to her feet.

She heard the 'oh my God's' of everyone, even some snickering, but they were all staring at her like she’d gone mad.

“Caia Ribeiro, what has gotten into you?!” The teacher was shrieking.

“I have to go,” she mumbled, ignoring Alexa’s snarl of her name as she fled past her classmates and out of the door. Her eyes never left her hand as more and more of her pelt started pushing through. She swallowed a groan at the feel of her muscles burning, readying themselves for the change.

“Watch yourself, young lady.” She looked up as someone steadied her, and realized that there was a small crowd in the hallway. “The water.” The janitor pointed to the floor a few feet from her. “The pipes in this place have all gone crazy... water getting everywhere...”


Caia didn’t stop to hear him finish. The water was her fault again, but with the change coming fast that was the last thing on her mind. Her pelt was pushing through her legs now, her feet shifting in her shoes. Holy Artemis, she wasn’t going to make it out of here.


Sebastian? She heard running footsteps and turned to see him running towards her. He stopped and tried to halt her too, locking onto her elbow. “Caia, I need to talk to you about Saturday night.”

“Sebastian,” she growled, her voice changing, too.

His eyes widened, and he gripped her tighter. “Caia?” He looked terrified.

Tears spilled over her lids, rolling hotly down her cheeks as she leaned into him, pleading with her eyes. “I’m changing, Sebastian. I can’t stop it. I didn’t... you have to get me out of here.”

She was never so thankful for his quick thinking. He didn’t say another word, just grabbed her, and started running with her towards the parking lot. She tripped as her left foot completely changed inside her shoe and he swung her up into his arms, running towards his car. She was aware of him almost ripping the car door off, and then he was none too gently throwing her into the backseat. The door shut behind her and she clawed onto the leather seats as her back rippled. She heard Sebastian getting into the front seat, and then a blanket was thrown over her, launching her into darkness as she changed completely, her clothes tearing and ripping painfully. Her heart slowed, somewhat, as she realized they had made it, and she sat panting as the car spun around and sped off at high speed.

“Lucien,” she heard Sebastian say and realized he must be on his cell, “We have a problem. It’s Caia. It’s happening, man. Meet me at your house.”

What is happening? she screamed inwardly, and let out a low growl of anguish. Did they know already?

Daddy, she thought for the first time since she was a little girl and she used to speak to him in her thoughts, Daddy I’m scared. But, unlike when she was little when an imaginary strong voice would always reply, Caia heard nothing… nothing but the steady thud of her heart and the squeal of Sebastian’s tires.

15 - Time

Lucien flew up his driveway, the gravel rioting against his paintwork as he skidded to a stop two seconds behind Sebastian’s car. His heart was hammering in his chest and pounding blood in his ears as he jumped out of his car and strode towards an anxious and flustered-looking Sebastian. He knew it, he cursed inwardly, he had known yesterday something was wrong with her, it was just he had been self-absorbed enough to think it had something to do with the kiss they’d shared. “What’s going on?” he asked in a low anxious voice as he reached the young male, looking beyond him and into his car. He could see a lump under a blanket in the back seat. “What the..?”

Sebastian raked his hands through his hair and Lucien noted how they trembled. “I caught her in the hallway. She was so scared, Lucien... and she was changing.”

Lucien flinched at the thought. She must have been terrified. Growling, he brushed past Seb and pulled the car door open with enough force to unhinge it. He ignored Sebastian’s squeak of protest and pulled the blanket out of the car. Caia was revealed, lying towards him in her lykan form, her snout nestled between her forepaws, her large green eyes staring up at him, blazing with fear.

“Caia,” he whispered, reaching for her. At the sound of his voice, she stood up and leapt out of the car, running past him and up into the house.

Sebastian shrugged nervously at his questioning look, and then followed Caia inside. Lucien took a huge gulp of air, feeling his own hands tremble a little. Guilt pounded along with each of his steps as he followed the two inside, trying to focus enough to form an explanation for her. Inside he found Sebastian in the sitting room, his neck craned back as he stared at the ceiling. Lucien frowned, and then understood as he heard the noise of Caia’s movements from above. She was obviously trying to change.

He waited tensely in the sitting room, his heart thudding louder and faster, his jaw clenched in self-directed anger, his brain refusing to formulate the explanation he knew Caia deserved.

“Do you think this is it?” Sebastian asked in hushed tones.

Lucien threw him a look that clearly said ‘you think?’

He growled again and threw himself into his armchair. “We need to ask her what triggered it.”

“Should we call anyone else?”

Lucien nodded. “Call Magnus. My mother will be with him. And Dimitri.”

Sebastian nodded back distractedly before wandering into the kitchen to use the phone. Lucien shook. If it was happening he had left Caia scared and unprepared. Magnus was right. They should have told her as soon as she had arrived. How would she ever trust him now?

His gaze shot back to the ceiling at the sound of a thud and he was out of his chair within seconds, storming up the stairs to her bedroom. At the sight of her crumpled on the floor he drew in his breath and rushed to her. He pressed his fingers against her neck and sighed in relief at the healthy pulse he felt there. She had changed back, and had obviously been in the middle of getting dressed when she had passed out, no doubt from the shock. She had thrown on a long t-shirt and had been pulling on her jeans, so Lucien, trying to be as much of a gentleman as possible, pulled the jeans back off of her, and quickly picked her up with the intention of sliding her under her covers and into bed. But as he did so, she unconsciously snuggled her head into his chest, making mewling sounds that sent his heart hammering. He held her like that for a while, knowing that this was probably the last time she would accept his touch for a time. His eyes drifted over her peaceful face as he pulled her tighter into his chest. When had she become so vital to him? He sighed deeply, and was finally able to let her go, laying her in the bed and pulling the duvet over her. He pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. She had no idea what was to come. The guilt he felt for having not told her sooner was burning in the back of his throat. He’d done what he thought was best for the pack at the time. Dimitri had been his voice of reason, telling him that no one knows what the deep darkness can do to a person. But now he felt sure of Caia. Sure that she was good, that she wasn’t a danger.

“Is she OK?”

Lucien turned to find Sebastian standing gazing at her, worry tormenting his young face. An image of a drunken Sebastian leaning in towards Caia on Saturday flitted across his mind and he realized he wasn’t the only one who was worried that they wouldn’t be forgiven for their deceit when she woke up and learned the truth. He didn’t want to think about that. On the one hand he could empathize, but on the other he didn’t want this stupid kid anywhere near her in that respect. He was beginning to understand the possessiveness of the mated guys in his pack. “I need you to call Ryder,” he ordered gruffly, turning to look back at Caia, his hand involuntarily brushing her hair back from her face. “He’s on a job for Marion.”

He looked back at Seb, whose eyes were round as he watched Lucien’s behavior with her. His face crumpled as if he understood. “Are you-?”

“Call Ryder,” Lucien demanded, making it clear his private business was exactly that. “And tell him to bring Marion back with him. Tell him... tell him it’s time.”

Magnus, Dimitri, and his mother had all returned home. Ryder was already on his way back with Marion. Apparently they had news of their own. Lucien wasn’t sure he could take any other news at the moment. He had sighed and told Sebastian not to tell his parents anything yet but to go home and get some sleep. He would call him when it was time. His mother was trying to ease his guilt, assuring him they had all done what they thought was best.

But none of them knew what had been happening to Caia lately. None of them knew the extent of her fear.

Lucien could feel Magnus’ disapproval rolling off him in waves. He deserved the Elder’s anger; he relished it in fact.

As for Caia, she made no move towards waking. They checked on her regularly, until Dimitri assured them it was just exhaustion that was keeping her in bed.

Finally Lucien had sent them all to bed, while he himself hadn’t been able to sleep, at all. And that was why he found himself alone in his kitchen at 5am, dressed and drinking coffee, his stomach rolling at the deed that was to be done as soon as Caia woke up.

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