“Get over yourself,” she muttered and rolled her shoulders back. She was going out with her friends to be a normal person for a bit before she went back to her den and dealt with everything else going on. She was strong enough to do it all, she just had to remember to not wallow and dwell on the things she couldn’t change.
The girls were standing by the front door when she walked out of the restroom, and she waved as she made her way to them. “All ready,” she said with a smile.
“Are we walking or driving?”
“We can walk,” Aimee said, and Dawn studied her friend. Aimee looked skinnier than she had before, but when Dawn inhaled, her friend didn’t smell sick. She had no idea what was going on.
“Are you sure?” Dawn asked softly.
Aimee raised her chin. “Of course. Now, let’s go before we miss out on all the super expensive things that we can’t afford.”
Dhani snorted. “We don’t know they’ll be too expensive.”
“Honey, unless it’s an outlet or department store with a huge sale, it’s going to be too expensive,” Cheyenne added dryly.
“Truth,” Dawn muttered. “Why are we doing this, then? I mean, it might just make us feel broke and depressed.”
Aimee shrugged as they made their way down one of the alleys between the major cross streets where the businesses were. “Because window-shopping can be fun if you’re looking for new ideas.”
“That is true.” Dhani was pretty crafty when it came to making accessories and other things to make an outfit pop.
Dawn was about to say something but closed her mouth, the hairs on the back of her neck rising as her wolf rose to the surface. She tilted her head, trying to understand why she suddenly felt on edge when the scent hit her.
“Run,” Dawn growled out low.
Her friends froze and looked at her. “What?” Cheyenne asked. She looked around the alleyway, confusion on her face. “Run?”
“Go,” Dawn ordered. “There’s something coming.”
“What are you talking about?” Dhani asked, her hand going in her bag to lift out a can of pepper spray.
But it was too late.
A shifter in wolf form pounced on Dawn’s back, and she hit the ground face first. The others screamed but didn’t run away, as if they didn’t want to leave a friend behind. In any other circumstance, she’d have admired that they wanted to fight for her, but this was a very large rogue wolf, and they were only humans.
Dawn’s claws slashed out as she rolled over. The others gasped, taking steps back as she slashed at the wolf on top of her. She wasn’t as strong as he was, and from the look in his eyes, his wolf was out of control. That meant unless she found a way to maneuver around him, there was no way she’d beat him. She might be strong, and had been trained to fight, but she wasn’t the best at it.
“Get away from her!” Dhani yelled. “Dawn! Close your eyes!”
Dawn rolled and closed her eyes instinctively as Dhani sprayed the wolf in the face with her pepper spray. While it might have given Dawn a few moments to collect herself to fight back, she knew that it also could have been a mistake. The others started throwing things they found in the alleyway near the dumpster at the wolf, and Dawn shook her head, awed at the fearlessness she saw in her friend’s actions—though each of them had stark fear stamped on their faces.
She pulled herself up, her claws out—as well as her secret—and she growled. For some reason, the wolf only wanted her, not her friends. It must have gotten her scent and would only stop or move on once she was injured or dead. That was fine with her, because her friends were human and wouldn’t survive this. Dawn wasn’t sure she would survive this.
The wolf took that moment of hesitation and pounced again. Dawn darted to the side and slashed her claws down its side. It let out a pained howl, and she did it again.
“Get behind me,” Dawn yelled, her fangs descending. She was just dominant enough that she could partially shift, but she didn’t have time to do a full shift, nor the inclination to be so vulnerable.
“We’re not leaving you,” Cheyenne yelled. “I’m calling 911.”
“Don’t, we will handle this on our own,” a deep voice growled, and Dawn nearly spun around, startled. Mitchell came to her side, also partially shifted, and she almost let out a relieved breath.
Though she hated being the damsel in distress, she was no match for this wolf, and they all knew it. She’d be able to fight and probably hurt the rogue, but not when she was trying to keep her friends safe and wasn’t able to shift to full wolf form. She was at a disadvantage, but if she fought alongside Mitchell, she had more of a chance. “Get your friends out of here, Dawn.”
“I’m not letting you fight alone,” she said quickly. “There’s something off with this wolf.”
Mitchell spared her a glance, and then things moved quickly. The rogue leapt at them, teeth bared, and she and Mitchell ducked out of the way. While she’d seen Mitchell train with some of the wolves in her den, she’d never seen him move like this before. One moment, he stood next to her, claws out. The next, he was like smoke, drifting from one side of the wolf to the other, tearing through the wolf’s fur. The rogue kept coming at her, snapping it’s drooling jaws, so she couldn’t just run away and leave Mitchell to fight even if she wanted to. It would only follow her, and someone else would get hurt in the process.
She rolled to the side again, aware that her friends hadn’t left the alley but were far enough away now to be relatively safe. The rogue came at her again, and this time, she and Mitchell somehow worked as a team, taking the wolf down to the ground. From the manic look in its eyes, she knew there would be no saving it. Somehow, whoever this was had let their wolf take control to the point they’d lost whatever made them sane. They were no longer wolf or human, just pure rogue. Mitchell met her eyes quickly before snapping the wolf’s neck in a clean break.
Her hands shook as her claws and fangs receded, and she met Mitchell’s gaze once more. He’d saved her and her friends, and she didn’t know how to thank him, wasn’t sure that he’d accept her thanks anyway. All she knew was that she never wanted to be put in this situation again. She’d train harder, fight harder, and find a way to protect herself so no one would have to come to her rescue.
“You fought well,” Mitchell growled, his wolf in his voice. “He was so far gone, and a whole lot bigger than you. There was nothing else you could have done. I’ll take care of the body, and my team is on the way to clean up. Meet me in your den this afternoon. We need to talk.” He paused and gestured over her shoulder, and she turned to see her friends starting at her with wide, hurt eyes. “And I think you need to talk to them, as well.”
Dawn swallowed hard as she nodded. She had no idea what she was going to say to them, wasn’t sure there was anything to say. Blood covered her hands and arms, and she had a few nicks and scrapes on her cheek and neck. She didn’t look like herself, didn’t look like a simple barista.
No, she looked like the monster she’d fought to hide.
And now she’d have to explain to her friends why she’d lied to them.
Ryan, Carrie Ann. Destiny Disgraced (Talon Pack Book 6) . Carrie Ann Ryan. Kindle Locations (890-947). Kindle Edition.