“Daddy!” Jade yelled out, running down the dark forest path to the packhouse. “Daddy, daddy!” She yelled, her beautiful purple-tinted black hair flying in the wind as she ran.
“Daddy!” She screamed once more, rounded the last tree, and smacked into one of her fathers’ body. Alarick looked down at his ten-year-old daughter, a frown on his face as he held her trembling body against his with one arm, and ran his hands through his light silver hair with the other.
“What’s wrong, Jade? Why were you playing alone in the woods? You know not to stray into the woods alone!” Alarick barked out at his daughter. She shivered, fear racing through her eyes and she looked up at her daddy.
“I’m..I’m so..sorry Daddy!” She hiccuped, making Alarick relax his face as he ran his hand down his eldest daughter’s butt-length silky hair.
“Tell me what happened, I’m listening.” He said, going to his knees so he was at the same level as her. She wrapped her arms around his neck as she took a deep breath, her body still trembling.
“Colette and I were dared to go into the woods alone and climb the crooked tree all the way to the top,” Jade said with another hiccup.
Alarick frowned at his daughter, anger flashing in his eyes. “You know not to play on the crooked tree. It’s a dead tree, falling apart after the lightning bolt hit it earlier this year. We need to get rid of it.” Alarick said to his daughter. “Who dared you? And where is Colette then?” He asked, standing up and looking past Jade into the dark path.
Jade grabbed her daddy’s hand tightly, pulling in the direction of the path. “Colt and Emmett dared us. Colt said we were nothing but a bunch of prissy girls and we needed to prove ourselves if we wanted to marry them. I told them it didn’t work that way because we were already engaged but Colette got all sad and said if they didn’t marry us all of our parents will be sad. So Colette accepted the dare before they even told us what it was. Colt told us we had to climb all the way to the top of the crooked tree and tie ribbons to the top branch to prove it. So we did it, both of us. But as we were climbing down Colette’s foot got stuck and she tried to yank it out and I was too far down to help her and the branch fell and she fell down onto the ground! She won’t move, she’s breathing but she won’t move or talk and her limbs are twisted!” Jade screamed, pulling Alarick into a run.
He growled, scooping Jade into his arms, and ran faster, mind linking everyone.
‘Adaline! Colette is injured badly, I need your help!’ He yelled.
Instantly Adaline, Tate, and lyell started talking all at once. Tate growled and everyone silenced. ‘We are in the royal packhouse, is that close to you?’ Tate asked.
Alarick clutched Jade tighter into his arms as he ran. ‘Yes. Colt and Emmett dared Jade and Colette to climb to the top of the crooked tree.’ Alarick growled.
Lyell screamed in fury. ‘I will get a crew out to the tree tomorrow to have it removed. I knew I should have done that earlier when it was first hit!’ He yelled. ‘I’m coming to help you.’ Lyell said. Alarick nodded even though his husband couldn’t see him.
‘I will be dealing with the boys.’ Tate said in a clipped tone.
‘Let us talk to Jade, Colt, and Emmett first and see exactly what happened. Most likely though, it was probably all Colt’s idea.’ Adaline said with a sigh.
Alarick couldn’t help but agree. Colt was definitely an Alpha’s son, wild and adventurous, always getting into trouble. As for Emmett, he was more quiet and calm, thoughtful. He was more like his aunt Adaline than anyone. But Colt announced when they were only four years old that Emmett was his Beta, and they were inseparable best friends.
Finally, Alarick reached the crooked tree, setting Jade down gently as he rushed to Colette’s side with a gasp. Lyell bounded up behind him, giant in his light Gray wolf form, a bundle of clothes in his mouth. Jade turned around as her other father shifted and got dressed, and watched as Alarick examined their younger daughter.
“We can move her, there’s no injury to her spine or neck. But her legs are broken and her left arm. Maybe some ribs as well. We need to hurry.” Alarick said. Lyell nodded, gently scooping Colette into his arms. He was faster than Alarick in human form, and he took off running.
Alarick glanced at the tree, looking up and seeing the ribbons blowing in the wind. “I know we were being stupid, daddy.” Jade hiccuped, gripping her father’s shirt tightly in her hand. Alarick sighed deeply, scooping her into his arms again as he took off running after his husband.
“You weren’t stupid. That was just unnecessary. If the boys dare you to do anything else reckless, ignore them, or come tell one of the adults. Sure they might call you a tattletale, but eventually, they will grow up and get over it.” Alarick said with a chuckle.
Jade clenched her father's shirt tightly in her hands as the wind whipped through her hair. “Is Colette going to die?” She whispered.
Alarick stopped at the edge of the forest, gently putting his daughter down and looking at her. “Of course not. We have the best true healer in the world. The most powerful true healer.” Alarick said to his daughter. He didn’t mention anything about her being a protector, it was a secret only certain people knew.
Jade took her father’s hand and they walked to the packhouse.
“I want to be a powerful true healer too,” Jade mumbled, not knowing it wasn’t possible since she didn’t have the crescent moon birthmark. “One day I’ll be a powerful Luna like Luna Adaline.” She said with a pout.
Alarick chuckled at her, and they walked up the stairs to the twins' bedrooms on the Beta floor. Once they turned seven they decided they didn’t want to share a room anymore, and they moved to the next two rooms, where they got their own rooms and shared a bathroom.
They walked into Colette’s room just as Adaline was finished healing her. “She’s fine now, just resting. That took a lot out of both of us.” Adaline said as she leaned heavily on Tate.
We all rushed to Colette’s side, but Adaline reached out and touched Jade. She flinched, and we all looked at her closed eyes in confusion. “That feels weird and cold,” Jade said as she shivered.
Finally, Adaline let go of Jade and turned to the fathers, a confused look on her face. ‘I don’t know what it is, but it’s on both of the girls.’ She mind-linked them both, including Tate.
They looked at her in confusion. ‘What is it?’ Lyell asked, fear in his voice.
Adaline glanced at the girls again, biting her lower lip. ‘They’re different, something other than normal. Not human, but not like wolves. I don’t know what it is but their minds are different.’ She said. ‘I haven’t touched the minds of anyone other than humans or wolves, I couldn’t even guess what they are.’ She said with a frown.
‘I remember when their birth mother died, she said she was raped by a man who wasn’t a wolf. She didn’t know what he was, that he smelled different.’ Alarick said.
They all looked at the twins, staring at them with wide eyes. “What is it?” Jade asked, whimpering.
Lyell looked at everyone before he lowered himself to his daughter’s level, gently brushing his hands through her hair. “Nothing, beautiful. Nothing is wrong.” He said to her. She smiled, hugging her father tightly around the neck.
He glared up at everyone. ‘Until we know exactly what it is, what they are, no one mentions anything to them or anyone else.’ Lyell growled through the mind link.
‘Are you sure that’s wise?’ Adaline asked.
Lyell looked at his best friend, staring at her deeply in the eyes before he finally nodded. ‘Yes. We swore to protect them and raise them as our own, and I will never break my vow. They are my daughters, our daughters, no matter what they are.’ Lyell growled out.
Alarick sat on the edge of the bed and ran his hands through Colette’s pure white hair, brushing his fingertip along her resting cheek. ‘Yes, no matter who or what they are, they are our children. And they always will be.’ He said.