He laughs again, but before he can make a move I strike out and hit his face with the heel of my hand. I hear his teeth crack and he grabs his mouth as he stumbles backwards. I kick his chest and hear his ribs snap as he falls back against the wall. He’s out of the way now, so I decide to get out while we still can. I reach behind me and Loren takes my hand without hesitation, and we go to step around him.

Just as she goes by, Greg reaches out and snatches her leg with one hand and pulls out a knife with the other. Terror shoots through me and I react like any mate would if someone tried to do them harm. I grab his wrist and bend it back, snapping it with just a flick of my hand. He cries out and I grab the knife, stabbing it in his neck to silence him.

“Don’t look at it,” I say as I block the view from her. Loren’s face is white as I pull her close to me and run out of the door. “I don’t have time to explain, but I promise it’s all going to be okay.”

I’m worried she’s traumatized because she’s shaking now. Is this what happens when humans go into shock?

Just as we exit the house there’s another explosion on the other side and internally I’m thankful that my family didn’t listen to me. I scoop her into my arms and run as fast as I can away from the house and away from harm.

A dark van is waiting nearby and when we get close, the door slides open. I’m relieved when Kane and Valen jump out to help us get in quicker.

“Thank you,” I breathe as they close the door and the van speeds away from the curb. Loren is shivering, and Juliet places a blanket on top of her as I cradle her in my arms.

“We can’t go back to the houses. That’s the first place he’ll look,” I say. “If you’re all loaded up, then let’s go to the mountain.”

Ezra is behind the wheel and he nods. Dove is sandwiched between him and Erik, and she turns around to face me.

“We’ve got everything on the emergency list loaded in the back. The twins and I had the house stocked up last week just in case. We should be good to hide out there for a long time, or until we can figure out what to do next.”

I nod and feel relieved that I have my family with me to help. I know I thought I was making the right decision sending them away, but I was wrong. “Thank you, Dove.” She smiles brightly at me and then looks at Loren.

“You okay?” she asks, but Loren doesn’t respond.

“Just get us to the compound,” I say, and Dove nods and turns back around.

I lean close and whisper to Loren. “It’s all going to be okay. You’re safe and no one is going to hurt you.” I place a kiss on the top of her head, and when she buries herself against me even further, I know that she’s going to be okay. “You can trust all of us.”

I need her to understand that she’s not in any danger and that we’re only here to protect her. I don’t know how long that will take, but I’ve got all the time in the world now, thanks to her. She saved my life, and the best way to repay that is to make sure that danger never finds her again.

Seven

Loren

I finally pull my face away from Bishop’s neck when I feel myself being lowered onto a soft surface. I miss his rich scent and warmth instantly because I clung to him like a lifesaver in the storm that my life had become. I felt like I was drowning, and when he pulled me in closer to him, the shaking finally stopped. I melted into him, feeling comfort instantly. It was all too much to take, but when I was surrounded by him I felt safe.

When I saw him standing there I thought for a moment it was a dream. That none of the horror was real and I would wake up in bed back in a life that hadn’t been turned upside down and my dad would be himself again. But it hadn’t all been a dream.

I went with Bishop willingly and believed the words that came from his lips as if they were truths carved in stone. I went with him so easily because something inside me pulled me towards him, telling me that he was safe. It was like an invisible thread that linked us together and tightened, and I knew he would make everything okay.

The same man my dad told me to fear for all these years is the one to save me. Gordon, I mentally correct, because he isn’t really my dad. I needed to come to terms with that. Gordon had taken me just as Bishop had, but didn’t I go willingly with Bishop? He asked me and I didn’t fight him. I reached out, taking his hand, and it was the most natural thing in the world.

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