The quiet of the night wrapped around Nicholas and Antonio as they moved through the dense forest, their steps light and purposeful. Their eyes met for a brief moment, a shared understanding passing between them. Revenge was a dish best served cold, and they had spent years honing their skills and this was one of those moments when that skill was needed.
Their eyes were sharp as they moved with practiced caution.
Antonio glanced at Nicholas, his voice barely a whisper, "You remember how the wolf looks, right?"
Nicholas's jaw clenched, a flicker of anger in his eyes as he nodded. "I can never forget. That image is etched into my mind."
Antonio's gaze turned solemn, and he placed a reassuring hand on Nicholas's shoulder. "We'll make sure justice is served."
Nicholas's grip on his weapon tightened, his resolve unwavering. "We wait. He's the pack's beta, he'll come out eventually."
Antonio nodded in agreement. "Patience is our ally tonight. When he's vulnerable, we strike."
They found a concealed spot, shadows providing them cover, and settled into their positions. The air was charged with tension, anticipation heavy in each breath they took.
Antonio's voice was low, "Any wolf that crosses our path, we eliminate."
Nicholas shook his head, "We can't afford to take any chances. This is a one-wolf kill tonight. We can't risk alerting the entire pack."
Antonio's voice was steady, understanding the gravity of their mission. "I get it. But the time will come when we take down every last one of them."
Nicholas's jaw tightened, a mix of grief and anger in his gaze. "My sister deserves that."
Antonio's gaze was resolute. "And we'll make sure she gets it. For tonight, though, we focus on the target."
As they waited in the shadows, a distant laughter floated through the air. Both men tensed instinctively, their weapons at the ready, only to relax as recognition dawned upon them. Aria stepped into view with Lydia following behind, their laughter infectious, and Nicholas exchanged a glance with Antonio.
Aria's eyes glowed with maternal warmth as she placed a protective hand over her rounded belly. "The pup's arrival draws near. I can feel the excitement building within me."
Lydia's smile was genuine, her eyes softening as she glanced at Aria's belly. "You and Knox are about to embark on a new chapter, Aria. It's a wonderful journey."
Aria's eyes glinted with mischief as she teasingly nudged Lydia. "So, when are you and Ryder going to have your own pup?"
Nicholas's ears perked up at the mention of the name Ryder. He took a step forward, his intent clear, but Antonio's firm grip on his arm stopped him. Antonio shook his head slightly, signaling that they should remain hidden and listen.
Lydia chuckled, her cheeks tinting with a rosy hue. "Oh, we'll see about that. Ryder is more focused on his duties as the beta right now."
Lydias gaze turned contemplative, her expression taking on a more thoughtful tone. "You know, Lucas was marked by the moon goddess just like you. Perhaps the mark will be passed down your line. Do you think our pup might be marked too?
Aria's gaze turned pensive, her hand gently cradling her belly. "I'm not sure. But one thing I know for certain is that your pup will be just as strong as Knox."
Antonio's heart skipped a beat at the mention of the moon goddess's mark. He strained to hear every word, his breath caught in his throat as he listened intently.
Lydia's voice held a touch of curiosity. "Knox is strong, that's for sure. Your pup will make a great Alpha just like him.”
Antonio's grip tightened on Nicholas's arm, his eyes widening with realization. The pieces of the puzzle were falling into place, and a surge of understanding washed over them both.
His voice was barely a whisper as realization dawned on him. "The prophecy..."
Nicholas nodded, his voice just as soft. "She's the mother of the child the prophecy spoke of."
A few days had passed since Jackson's conversation with his father about the upcoming celestial eclipse. The weight of the impending event pressed on his mind, but amidst the preparations and discussions, there was another matter that tugged at his heart— Shana.
"You are leaving again?" Jackson's voice broke the silence, his words carrying a trace of sadness.
Shana turned to face him, her eyes meeting his,"Yes, I am. It's time for me to go back to my pack, Jackson."
Jackson took a step closer, his gaze never leaving her. "But why, Shana? Why are you still reluctant to switch packs? Why not make it official and become a part of our pack?"
Shana's fingers tightened around the strap of her bag, her gaze flickering away briefly before returning to meet his gaze. "Jackson, we talked about this. It's not that simple. My loyalty to my pack, my family, it's something I can't just abandon. And you know the traditions, the ties that bind us. Switching packs isn't just a matter of choice."
Jackson's fingers curled into fists, his internal struggle evident in his clenched jaw. "And what about us? What about the connection we share?"
Shana stepped closer, her voice a gentle plea. "Jackson.”
Jackson's gaze bore into hers, his emotions raw and unfiltered. "I don't want to lose you, Shana. These past few days have been... different. I feel something between us, something real. Don't you feel it too?"
Shana's gaze wavered, “I do. But I have so much at the Nightshade pack and I’m not ready to say goodbye to it just yet.”
Before the tension could escalate, the soft voice of Keena, Jackson's mother, entered the conversation. "Perhaps there's a way to bridge the gap, my dear."
Shana and Jackson both turned their attention to Keena, who wore a thoughtful expression as she stepped further into the room
Keena's gaze shifted from Shana to Jackson, a small smile playing on her lips. "Jackson, you've been working tirelessly for our pack. How about you take a few days off from your duties? Shana wants to return to her pack, and maybe you could accompany her."
Jackson's eyebrows shot up in surprise, caught off guard by his mother's suggestion. "Accompany her? To the Nightshade pack?"
He turned back to his mother, his expression a mix of gratitude and uncertainty. "And what about our pack? I have responsibilities here."
Keena's smile was reassuring. "We'll manage, Jackson. The pack will understand. And besides, there's something important you could do during your time there."
Both Shana and Jackson leaned in, curiosity piqued. "What is it?" they asked in unison.
Keena's gaze held a glint of determination. "Regarding what your father discussed with you. We were planning to send a messenger to Knox about the celestial eclipse. But perhaps you could go instead. Deliver the news in person, share the importance of unity during these challenging times."
Shana froze at the mention of the celestial eclipse, her eyes widening slightly. Jackson felt the shift in her demeanor and turned to her, his concern evident in his gaze. "Shana, are you okay?"
Taking a deep breath, Shana met Jackson's gaze, her voice steady but laced with a hint of surprise. "I didn't realize how much time had passed. The celestial eclipse... It was something spoken of during my time in the past. I never experienced it but tales were told of wolves losing their ability to shift.”
Jackson nodded, the weight of the information sinking in. "Yes, my father mentioned that. It's an event that affects all of us."
Shana's gaze flickered between Jackson and Keena, her eyes holding a distant look. "There's something else I heard about during my time. A name whispered in hushed tones—Malachi."
Both Jackson and Keena blinked in surprise at the unexpected revelation. "Malachi? Who is he?" Jackson inquired, a note of curiosity in his voice.
Shana's expression turned somber, her voice soft as she continued, "Malachi is a figure long forgotten by most. He was a powerful wolf, known for his strength and his connection to the spirits. But he faced a fate worse than death. The Order of the Eclipse trapped his wolf spirit, sealing his powers away."
Jackson's brows furrowed, a mixture of disbelief and intrigue coloring his features. "Trapped his wolf spirit? Why?"
Shana's eyes darkened, as if lost in the depths of history. "He was a threat to their control, to their dominance over the packs. They feared his strength, his influence. So, they took drastic measures."
Shana's gaze met Keena's, her eyes holding a hint of sadness. "I heard a tale during my time, passed down in whispers. The legend says that only during another celestial eclipse can Malachi's spirit be released."
The room fell into a hushed silence, the weight of Shana's words hanging in the air. Keena exchanged a glance with Jackson, "Then we have more to worry about because the eclipse is in a few months."