MoboReader> Horror > Bound

   Chapter 25 No.25

Bound By Julie Embleton Characters: 22327

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:02


Nyah bounded down the porch steps of Dean's house as a familiar silver car pulled up on the street outside. Squealing with delight she hopped up and down on the path until the passenger door opened and Karen emerged. Before she was even fully upright Nyah had her arms flung around her. "I thought you'd never get here!" she cried, squeezing Karen tightly.

"We're early, " Karen laughed, her reply muffled by Nyah's hug. "Blake was hammering on my hotel door at four o'clock this morning."

"Still took you two hours to get ready though, " Blake grumbled, climbing out from the driver's side of the car.

Nyah released Karen to run around the bonnet to meet Blake. He pulled her up into his arms and swung her around. "It's good to see you smiling, " he said into her ear as he set her down.

"Nyah, meet Tom, " Karen said, pushing him forwards. "I know you've already kind of met, but, you know, here he is – officially."

"Hi, Tom. It's nice to meet you – officially." Nyah took his hand with a beaming smile just as Dean appeared from the house.

"Welcome to Carter Plains, " he called out, hurrying across the lawn to greet them. He stuck his hand out to Blake. "Great to see you again, Blake."

"You too, Alpha Carson, you too, " Blake grinned, but then not satisfied with a mere handshake yanked Dean into a hearty bear hug. "This is a nice place, " Blake said releasing Dean and nodding in approval as he looked around.

"Spacious, " Tom agreed, gesturing towards the mountain range in the distance. "Is all of that part of this territory?"

"Uh huh, " Dean smiled, drawing Nyah into his side. "I'll show you later."

"Blake?" Nyah threw a sad glance towards the empty car. "You couldn't contact him?" she asked quietly.

Blake's smile faded and he shook his head. "No. I haven't heard from him since he left. He just. . ." he shrugged and trailed off with a sigh. "He needs time alone."

"Poor Michael, " Nyah murmured. "I hope he's going to be okay."

"He's taken it bad, " Blake admitted. "What Northfell made him do – what he made us both do – he feels responsible."

"He's gone somewhere up north, " Karen said to Nyah, giving Blake's arm a sympathetic squeeze. "He'll be okay. He just needs time to deal with it all."

Nyah nodded and Dean slid his arms around her waist, pulling her back against his chest. "Michael seems like a tough guy, " he said softly. "Give him time. He'll be back when he's ready."

Nyah forced out a smile.

"Come on, girl, " Blake grinned, chucking her under the chin. "Show me round this place. The size of it is making me dizzy."

"The smell of barbecuing meat is making you dizzy, " Karen corrected. "Cos, you know, you haven't eaten in like, two hours or something."

"Are the others far behind you?" Nyah asked, wondering how long it would be before she got to see the remaining members of her pack.

"A couple of hours, probably, " Blake guessed.

"They're normal, you see, " Karen pointed out. "They didn't feel that getting up at stupid o'clock this morning was entirely necessary."

"Hey, " Blake argued. "I sacrificed the breakfast buffet to get us on the road early."

"I think you may have already mentioned that, " Tom said lightly, "five times."

"Six, " Karen sniffed. "But hey -, " spreading out her arms she smiled at Nyah. "It was worth it."

"Agreed, " Blake said, and unconsciously rubbed a hand over his stomach.

"Food's this way, " Dean laughed, nodding towards the playing field set further behind them.

"If you insist, " Blake grinned.

"We have so much to catch up on, " Karen whispered, linking her arm with Nyah as they walked towards the playing field. She threw an appreciative glance at Dean as he walked ahead with Tom and then winked at Nyah. "So much."

An area of the playing field had been set up for the visitors from Blackwater Ridge. Three barbecues were already sending out puffs of smoke and the cluster of picnic tables were groaning under the weight of food. All of the Carter Plains pack were milling around. The children were playing a loud game of chasing in a corner of the field while some of the men were throwing a ball around. Others sat in groups on the colourful rugs spread out on the grass, while Ellie fussed about the tables with a few of the other women, rearranging plates and straightening glasses.

"Wow, " Karen breathed, as they approached the picnic area. "This looks amazing."

"We want everyone to feel welcomed, " Nyah explained. "And when the rest of our pack get here later Dean's going to officially offer a place in Carter Plains to anyone who wants to join us."

Karen squeezed Nyah's hand and nodded, glancing around as kind welcoming faces began to approach them. "It's so nice here, " she whispered, "I'm so happy for you, really, you deserve this so much."

"Oh no, " Nyah cleared her throat and shook her head. "Don't start with all that. You'll have me crying in five minutes if you do."

"Sorry, " Karen laughed gently. "You'd better start introducing me to your new pack – it'll stop me getting all mushy and emotional."

With loaded plates they settled onto a rug under the shade of a massive sprawling oak tree a short while later.

"So -, " Nyah said, sitting down tailor-style and balancing a plate of food on the skirt of her dress, "tell me what happened after Dean and I left Blackwater a fortnight ago."

"Gosh, " Karen swallowed a mouthful of burger. "Two weeks already? Wow. That's hard to believe."

Nyah agreed with a nod as she took a bite out of her corn cob. "It feels less than that for me, too. Everything is still very. . . vivid."

"How are you doing?" Karen asked sincerely, putting down her burger and wiping off her fingers. "Have you been okay?"

Nyah nodded as she wiped her mouth and fingers, too. "I cried all the way back here, " she admitted. "All two days of driving. Poor Dean, he didn't know what to do." Karen remained silent, her attention fully focused on Nyah. "Once we got back I slept for the first few days, "Nyah continued. "And then I started feeling better – bit by bit, you know."

"Sure, " Karen replied.

"I didn't really want to talk about it at first, but Dean pointed out how I had gotten too used to keeping secrets, so I forced myself to say everything that was in my head. There were lots more tears of course, " she said with an embarrassed laugh, "but saying it all out loud seemed to lift this huge weight off me and I started to have room in my head for other stuff again. Normal stuff, nice stuff."

"Like how hot your mate is stuff?" Karen winked.

Nyah smiled and picked up her corn again. "Maybe, " she said secretively.

"Those eyes, " Karen said quietly, glancing over to where Dean and Tom were sitting at one of the picnic tables. "Seriously, Nyah. How do you not spend your entire day just wanting to gaze into them?"

Nyah pointed to her conveniently full mouth and smiled.

"And his hair, " Karen added. "I have to say – very sexy." She took a bite of her burger and still chewing, jerked her head towards him again. "And he's got that whole Alpha vibe, too, " she managed to say around a mouthful of food, "- very hot."

Nyah laughed and pressed her cool glass of soda against her burning cheeks. "Okay, you have to stop with admiring Dean now. I know how gorgeous he is. You're melting my face here."

Karen took another enormous bite of her burger and made noises of satisfaction which Nyah knew weren't because of the delicious food.

Rolling her eyes good humouredly she wiggled her finger at Karen's burger. "When you've finished stuffing your face I want you to tell me about Tom."

Karen chewed at break-neck speed and swallowed hard, washing down the food with a long drink of soda. "Tom, " she began, wiping her mouth, "was ringing and ringing when I was zombiefied. And then because I didn't answer or call him back he got into a bit of a strop 'cos he thought I'd dumped him."

"Oh no, " Nyah breathed. "That's awful."

"Yeah, " Karen agreed sneaking a quick glance over to where he sat. "He feels really bad about it now – knowing how I was going through zombie hell while he was having a big sulk." Her soft expression was still in place when she returned her gaze to Nyah. "Of course, now he won't let me leave his side."

"I know that feeling, " Nyah replied. "But to be honest, I'm quite happy to have Dean sticking to me like glue."

"Me too, " Karen admitted with a grimace. "Who would have thought, eh? Although – does that mean he's not going to let you go to see Tanya next month?"

"He's undecided, " Nyah answered. "We've only talked about it once though. And he knows how much I want to see her. I don't think he'll say no outright, but there'll probably be a long, long string of conditions."

"But – is he not coming with you?"

"Yeah, " Nyah laughed, "not that that matters – he's still being Mr Cautious about it."

"Did you give him the Big Brown Nyah Eyes treatment?"

"Not yet. That's for emergencies only. And I'm not sure if it works – hey, " Nyah waved towards an approaching figure. "Here's Nick."

"Hello, ladies, " Nick said warmly as he strolled up to where they sat. "I didn't think you guys would get here so early, " he smiled at Karen, "sorry to have missed your arrival."

"That's okay, " Karen replied. "Blake was an eager beaver this morning. He had us all up at the butt-crack of dawn."

"How are you doing?" he asked her gently, hunkering down by the edge of the rug. "How are things in Blackwater Ridge?"

Karen gave a half-hearted shrug. "Okay, sort of. Michael's gone."

"Yeah, I heard, " he said.

"He needs some time to himself, " Karen explained, even though Nick already knew, "and we're all trying to decide what we want, where we're going to go. We're all up in the air, I suppose."

Nick nodded in understanding. "Blake's been keeping Dean in the loop – he told me about your packs decision to separate."

"No-one wants to stay in Blackwater Ridge now, " Karen admitted, "it's just not the same anymore."

Nyah rubbed her upper arms. She wasn't cold, but the memories of her last horrific time in Blackwater Ridge still made her skin prickle. The shock of seeing the frightening condition of the place she had only known as home was still raw, and she stared into the distance as images of what she had witnessed flashed through her mind. Karen was so right when she said it wasn't the same anymore – it never would be.

"Sweetheart?" Dean's gentle touch pulled her back from the murky room where the demon had been summoned to the sunny afternoon on the open playing field in Carter Plains. "You okay?" he asked kneeling beside her.

She smiled up at him and nodded. "Yeah, I'm okay."

"Nick!" Blake's greeting turned all their heads and Nick hopped up, enthusiastically clasping Blake's outstretched hand in his. "Hey, Blake, " he beamed. "How are you? Great to have you here."

"Thanks for inviting us, " he replied. "This is some place you guys have."

"Did you get a look around?" Nick asked.

"Not yet, " Blake answered. "I didn't want to insult anyone by not eat

ing first."

Nick flung an arm around Blake's shoulder and began to walk him away. "Well, how about we run off some of those burgers with a grand tour, eh?"

"I'll be just over here, " Dean murmured to Nyah, kissing her forehead before standing back up to wander back to Tom. Kyle had joined them, too, and he waved over at her.

"So – has everyone pretty much decided to leave Blackwater Ridge?" Nyah asked Karen. "Was it an immediate decision?"

"No, " Karen shook her head and shifted into a new position on the rug. "A few hours after you left we held a pack meeting – not in the pack house, of course – we all sat on the grass outside Michael's house – which was weird, because it was the middle of the night – anyway, everyone agreed that Michael should take the Alpha position, but he refused straight away. I've never seen him so adamant about something. It was just – no, straight out. It kind of threw everyone a bit. Michael said the position should be Blake's, but Blake said no, too. He said he wasn't Alpha material and then, well, it all got a bit gnarly for a while." Karen pulled a bit of bread from the last piece of her burger, her frown fixed to it as she rolled it between her fingers. "We all agreed we wanted someone to pull us back together, lead us as a pack again, but no-one wanted to do it. And then Michael said he was leaving, said he didn't deserve to be part of a pack after what he'd done." Karen sighed and dropped the little ball of dough onto her plate. "Some people stayed quiet, Leanne and Eddie Stone's family especially, but others argued that it wasn't Michael's fault, it was Simon's; he was the one who made Michael do it." She shrugged and blew out another tight sigh. "It didn't make any difference though, " she said looking back up. "Michael insisted that taking the lives of pack members was unforgivable. After that he just got up and went into the forest. He was gone for hours, he didn't appear until the following afternoon and, well, then he left."

Nyah pushed her plate off her knee and leaned forwards. "So the pack agreed to splinter?"

"Not at first. There was a lot of discussion about what we could do to stay together, but bit by bit we began to realize that it was already happening. Michael was gone, I'm going to the Carverbacks to be with Tom, you're here in Carter Plains, Tanya and her kids are going to live with her sister, and. . ." Karen faltered, "there are those who didn't make it at all."

"I see what you mean, " Nyah agreed quietly. "It kind of has happened already."

"I think Blake wants to stay here, too, " Karen said discreetly, lowering her voice. "He likes Dean and he wants to be part of a big pack. You know Blake; he's always loved to be surrounded by lots of people. I think staying in Blackwater Ridge would kill him."

"And what about the place itself?" Nyah asked with hesitant curiosity. "What happened with my. . . the pack house?"

Karen stretched to one side and picked up a bowl of fruit pieces. "Well, " she began, throwing a wary glance up at Nyah. "We agreed, like you suggested, that. . . burning down the pack house was the best thing to do."

Nyah nodded once and subtly drew in a calming breath.

"Cassius Ochre came, " Karen continued, hesitantly.

"He did?"

"Uh huh. He's actually a really gentle man. I think you'd like him."

Nyah shivered. "In time maybe, everything's still too fresh. I just see him as the man who worked that awful magic on me."

"I get that, " Karen said and popped a strawberry into her mouth.

"But – he came anyway, and helped to. . ." Nyah broke off with a humourless laugh. "Clean up?" she offered weakly.

"Yeah, clean up, " Karen said dryly. Sensing Nyah was okay to talk about the annihilation of her old home she relaxed a little. "He did a lot of his magic mojo inside the house first and then he came out and sprinkled all this stuff around the perimeter before setting it alight. He said the place was full of negative energy. Once the charred wood cooled down he had it all brought into the forest and buried in blessed ground – all that's left now is a huge square of scorched grass."

Nyah pulled a face of disbelief.

"Yeah, " Karen agreed, "I know burying the charcoaled wood sounds a bit weird, but he said it would be best. To be honest, I don't want to know why."

"I hope it's buried deep, " Nyah murmured as Karen searched amongst the bowl for more raspberries.

"Very, very deep, " Karen confirmed. "No-one's gonna be digging up those sticks anytime soon."

"And what about the rest of the houses, " Nyah asked reaching for a plate of salad.

"The two that were already burned out were knocked down. Cassius went to every house, but he said they were all clean, they didn't need exorcizing or whatever it was he did.

"You can't exorcise memories though, " Nyah said.

"No, " Karen agreed. "And thankfully –, " she held up her palm displaying the scar from the knife that Yannek had sliced her skin open with. "- I have no memories of getting this souvenir."

Nyah swallowed hard and looked down. "When I saw you in that circle. I swear, I – I. . ."

"Hey, it's over, " Karen soothed, reaching out to put a hand on her knee. "And for me, it never even happened. Don't dwell on it Nyah. It's all in the past now."

On cue, his attention clearly focused on the emotions rolling from her, Dean pointedly turned away from his own conversation to mouth an 'Are you okay?. She smiled back and Karen turned to follow Nyah's gaze.

"He'll kick my ass if he thinks I'm upsetting you, " Karen said, cringing when Dean turned his gaze onto her and waved a single warning finger.

"Stop teasing, " Nyah said loud enough for Dean to hear. "I'm fine."

He winked at them both and returned to his conversation.

"Young love, " Karen sighed wistfully.

Nyah rolled her eyes and leaned back onto her elbows. "So do you remember other things from when I was gone?"

"Some, " Karen nodded, squinting into the distance as if the memories were there for viewing. "I remember bringing you to the mall that day. It was very confusing. You were smiling at me and it sort of woke me up a bit. I had a sense of being trapped and not being able to do anything about it. But after that, the memories are just a bit blurry and mixed up. I hunted a lot of small animals for Simon – not sure why those memories are so vivid compared to others – but the rest, well, I don't really want to scratch at them too much. I know my experience wasn't anything as bad as Michael's and Blake's and I keep telling myself that it wasn't me, whatever I did – or didn't do – wasn't me, so. . ." She trailed off with a small shrug.

"You think Michael's going to be okay?"

"In time, yes, " she answered definitively. "He has to forgive himself first. And understand it wasn't him who took those lives."

Silence settled for a while. Nyah sat back up and ate the rest of the salad while Karen finished her fruit. The sounds of playing children drifted around them accompanied by bursts of laughter from the different groups scattered around the field. It was comforting and peaceful, and Nyah knew that even if her father's house was still standing she wouldn't have wanted to ever return to Blackwater Ridge. Knowing her pack were on the verge of breaking apart was difficult, but everyone needed to start afresh; all their lives had been brutalised by Simon Northfell and they all deserved an equal chance to recover in whatever way they felt right.

"So, " Karen smiled once she had wiped her sticky fingers clean. "Mr Alpha, " she whispered, leaning in conspiratorially, "I'll bet he didn't wait too long to mark you once you got home."

"Karen!" Nyah squealed and leaned forward to smack her arm.

"Oh come on!" Karen laughed, falling backwards. "You have to tell me!""

"I do not!"

Karen sat up again, plonked her elbows on her knees and dropped her chin into her palm. "But it was amazing – right?"

Nyah sighed and brushed some crumbs off the skirt of her dress. "Yeah, " she shrugged nonchalantly. "It was good."

"Good?" Karen spluttered. "A hot wolf like that and it was only good?"

"Okay, okay, " Nyah laughed. "It was more than good. It was amazing. Actually, no, " she corrected herself, "it was more than amazing." Glancing over to where Dean sat, Nyah allowed her shoulders to rise and fall with a sigh of contentment. She had once bitterly regretted the day she had landed in Shoreton, but now she wouldn't change what had happened for anything. Despite everything she had been through, despite the fear, the pain and the loss, she felt like the luckiest girl alive. "It was amazingly, super-fantastically, awesome, " she said, turning her smile back to Karen. "Times ten."

Karen clapped her hands together. "I love a happy ever after!"

"It's not a happy ever after, " Nyah said wisely, "it's just a beginning – a very happy beginning."

THE END

###

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About Julie Embleton

Julie Embleton was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. She graduated from the National College of Art and Design with a bachelor's degree in Graphic Design and promptly left Ireland to find her fortune in London. Three years later she realized the fortune she sought was an urban legend, so returned home to Dublin where she experienced an eye-opening education in hotel life.

It was when she left the unsociable hours of hotel management behind to work in HR & Personnel, that her neglected passion for writing began prodding for attention once again. Julie began typing away in secret, releasing her first book to the world in 2012.

The ever unpredictable journey of life now has her living by the sea in County Dublin with her amazing daughter and ridiculously cute cats, where she is happily buried in the creation of her next book.

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Discover other titles by Julie Embleton, all available on smashwords.com

The Turning Moon Series

Bound

Released

Haunted

Standalone Novel

The Untitled

The Voyager Chronicles Prophecy Series

The Dawning

Bonus Content

Read on for a preview of Released, Now available at all good online retailers.

Following the disintegration of his former pack and life, Michael Vincent has been running as a tormented, lone wolf. When he discovers his mate, a fragile hope begins to ease the burden of the guilt he bears, daring him to strive for happiness again. The evil that splintered his former pack is casting its shadow anew however, forcing Michael and those dearest to him to confront a terror thought long buried.

-End-

Notice: The next 3 chapters are from Book 2 of the Turning Moon series

By

Julie Embleton

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