There are no winners in a war. Either way, somebody loses, and even the winners lose.
They lose friends, family, humanity, and themselves. We won the battle, but no one wins the war
because no one walks away unscaffed after witnessing such carnage, such loss, and it always ends in
Grief shows you how valuable life is but also how cruel life is. It shows you the darkness of losing
someone. Then it shows you the light in appreciating others more. You realize how precious life is but
also how short life can be.
You learn how torturous it can be when you lose someone you couldn’t imagine living without, but
somehow you do.
Somehow, you’re still breathing even when the pain of grief is so intense you believe it will kill you and
sometimes wish it would, just so you don’t have to know the pain of losing them.
Standing in this hall with hundreds of peering faces staring back at us, you could see their grief as if they
wore it like armor, as if it was branded into their very being like a tattoo, screaming their anguish.
You could hear their gut wrenching screams as they realized the pain they were feeling wasn’t hurt loved
ones but broken bonds, and broken families, broken.
Nothing will kill your soul more than losing a loved one.
Nothing will break you down more than realizing you will never hold them again, never hear their voices,
never see them.
1 We stood on a podium while Valen called out the names of loved ones, needing them to come forward
to claim their dead sons, dead mates, and dead parents, and while trying to mask my own grief, I
witnessed theirs, felt theirs with each broken tether.
How Valen called out the names, it was almost as if he was desensitized to death, expressionless.
Yet, through the bond, I knew he was barely holding it together as their screams and pain rippled through
him like a stone tossed in the lake, that rippling tide on repeat, and I don’t know how he bared it as he
tried to keep the bond blocked, though those that sifted through I felt, felt him, felt them.
We won the battle, but we lost too. One hundred seventy-six lives were lost, Ninety-one bonds are
broken, meaning a possible Ninety-one more lives to wither away until either they die slowly or their bond
Most of those deaths were men, she-wolves rarely lived without their mates.
Yet seeing my father sitting vacantly ahead, I knew he wished it killed him.
Valen called the names, and we heard their cries. It felt surreal, like a nightmare, a loop of horror that we
were desperately trying to wake up from.
When he finished, we made our way out and met up with the council investigators; they were raiding my
father’s house when the attack started and they quick to jump in to help. Then while we cleaned up, they
raided Nixon’s pack.
A vast majority of the forsaken turned out to be his own people, unbonded males that apparently
volunteered in the name of science, put up their hands for their own suicide, half his pack gone, and for
what? The other half was shocked, and Nixon used the attack as an escape from the city.
They were left abandoned. As each forsaken shifted back after their death, we were left with their true
identities. He killed his own people.
The rest were the missing rogues. They were promised rnoney, a cure, and a pack for their sacrifice. A
sacrifice that ended in their deaths. Some thought it was worth the risk. We were shocked to C: — Jul-
1:1 —-hta .
onload I had find that his daughter was dead. He had apparently switched off her life support before
fleeing the city, leaving behind his son in a padded room, which we learned held the cure in his veins. 2
His blood was the key needed to save them.
The investigators told us that Carter was shocked by his father’s plans, that he had nothing to do with it
or knew anything of it. That he, too, was a victim of his own father’s cruelty.
A pack that was now left to him, Nixon had moved all his money and took every cent the pack had before
running away like a coward leaving behind his mate, his son, and killing Carter’s sister. I thought I knew
evil, but ‘Nixon proved he was more than evil.
There wasn’t an accurate word to describe what he had done to this city, to his own people and his
Carter had handed his blood samples to the Slasher pack and Valen’s pack for tontina Castor
tunaaminoala Nivan had testing.
Carter was a miracle. Nixon had accomplished something. He accomplished finding a cure for the
incurable. He was planning on infecting the world and then selling the cure to them.
Zoe was standing by the car with the kids and Kalen
I touch Valen’s arm, and he looks over at me. I nod toward Zoe, and he gives a swift nod before I make
my way over to them. Valarian and the girls were sitting in the back of the car with the heating going as
the night turned terribly cold, cold-like emptiness we all felt.I look at them, checking on them before
leaning against the hood next to Zoe, when my father wanders out looking rather lost. I was about to go
to him when Kalen gripped my arm.
“I’ll go check on him,” Kalen says, and I nod, grateful.
“Macey is still with Tatum. He has gone in for surgery to try to save his leg,” Zoe whispers to me.
“And Macey, she was bitten, wasn’t she?”. Zoe shakes her head.
“She isn’t infected. She called me before her blood tests came back clear, however, Tatum is riddled with
venom, and they aren’t sure if he will make it,”
“Marcus?” she nods toward him, where he is walking over to Valen, who is still talking to the council
“He is fine, Beta blood. He is stronger than most, but so many are infected. Hopefully, Carter’s blood
really is the cure that’s needed,” Zoe says, and I swallowed.
“Have you seen Ava?” I asked her.
“I gave her your spare house keys,” I nod.
Ava had said she wanted to stay with us the night. Dad too, was staying at our place, not wanting to go
home without mum. We waited. Neither of us knew what to do, so I left it to Valen and the Slasher Pack
They seemed to be in their element dealing with all the aftermath, and I didn’t know the first thing about
dealing with the werewolf council or what we do from here.
When they are finished talking, and everyone eventually leaves, Valen comes over with Marcus. He rubs
his hands up my arms. His touch was warm, making me realize how cold my skin was.
“You should be in the car. It is too cold out here,” he murmurs.
“Where did our fathers go?”
"Your father is staying with mine.Yours was apparently pretty drunk by the time dad finished talking to
“I could go for a bloody drink myself,” Marcus says, sounding exhausted as he nudged Valen.
Zoe shoots him a look, knowing I don’t like Valen drinking, and he had been drinking recently over the
last few weeks, and I didn’t want him to fall back into old habits.
“Come on, I should get you home,” Valen says, pulling me closer to use himself as a shield to protect me
from the wind.
He moves to the back of Zoe’s little car, where Valarian had fallen asleep with the girls.
“Am I taking Taylor, or are you?” I asked Zoe.
“Marcus and I will take her,” Zoe answers, and I nod, grabbing Valarian’s blanket after Valen grabs him. I
kissed both the girls who were sleeping soundly before following Valen to our car.
He puts Valarian in the back, and I place his blanket over him while clipping him in. We drove home in
I was glad it was dark because I knew the roads were still painted in blood, a storm was brewing above,
and I was hoping most of it was washed away by morning, Yet, we still had plenty of clean-up to do,
plenty of people still missing because it was dark before we found the vast majority of bodies, Valen
parked out in front of the hotel instead of underground. I stared at the front by the hedges where my
mother’s body was before Valen gripped my hand, pulling my gaze away.
Those were the most harrowing hours of my life, sitting on the rooftop watching, trying to keep the kids
distracted from witnessing the horror scene below us.
Trying not to scare them, and when it was all said and done, Valen’s desperation to check on us sent him
to the roof.
Not ideal, considering there wasn’t a speck of skin that wasn’t covered in blood. Luckily the kids were
half asleep, so hopefully, they don’t remember seeing him, though I knew Valarian did.
He didn’t stop trembling until after Valen stepped out of the shower clean, and he realized it wasn’t his
father’s blood, though he had remained silent ever since.
It was impossible to convince the kids to keep their eyes closed while we left the roof, but Marcus
brought blankets up to check over their heads while we carried them to the first accessible floor so they
wouldn’t see the forsaken my mother killed in the stairwell.
Getting home, I unlocked the door, and Valen immediately went to put Valarian in bed, though the sound
of crying I could hear up the hall made me move to the guest bedroom I nudge the door open to find Ava
in bed, huddled under the blankets; her body shook as she sobbed.
Quietly, I move toward the bed before climbing in behind her and wrapping my arms around her, hugging
her as close as my belly would allow. I held her, and she cried, the sound breaking me into a million
fractured pieces with sharp edges that pierced my sou
“She’s gone,” Ava whispered. I nodded my head against her back and sniffled. “I know,” I whispered, not
knowing what else to say. I couldn’t take her pain; it was mine, too, though I wished I could stop her from
She cried herself to sleep, and I held her until then. Slipping out of bed, I moved toward my room.
Pushing the door open, I find Valarian in our bed, Valen wrapped around him. I slip my pajamas on, and
Valen lifts his head. “He came in about 20 minutes ago,” he whispers.
I nodded my head before quickly slipping into bed on Valerian’s other side. Valen drapes his arm across
both of us, his hand rubbing the side of my belly. III was worried vou would try fighting