Dark Magick Rising – Chapter 47 (new)

Dark Magick Rising (Draegan Lords Book 5) by M.L. Rhodes

Copyright 2019-2020 by M.L. Rhodes, All Rights Reserved

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CHAPTER 47

Later, after much discussion, and less-than-enthusiastic support from Jarrad, Wesley and Wen exited their chambers.

It was time to tell Marta everything they’d learned tonight. And that meant Wesley bringing someone else in on his secret, which, frankly, was starting to become a burden anyway. He wasn’t remotely ready to broadcast it to the entire castle, but, in spite of his concern over the sorcerer knowing about and wanting him, and after his initial shock at Malcolm already being aware of what he was, it was a relief that Malcolm and Jarrad knew. So, telling Wen’s mum was the least of Wesley’s concerns at this point.

Malcolm was scared, though, about anyone outside of their foursome knowing his situation. Which was understandable. Especially considering Marta was the acting leader of the resistance at the moment. 

Wen had promised him Marta wasn’t going to lock him up or send him away, but his assurances hadn’t fully soothed Malcolm. Which was why Jarrad had argued against it. 

“Just give him some time,” Jarrad had hissed at them in the doorway. “He has every reason to be scared.”

“He does, and I understand completely. But we don’t have the luxury of time, Jarrad. Mum’s not going to do anything to him, you know that. He’s a victim, and she’s going to recognize that, just as we have.” He shook his head. “You’ve got to look at the bigger picture here. Mum’s acting in the draegan lord’s stead right now…which means we can’t keep all of this from her.”

“You kept the fact Wesley’s an ondaen from her.”

“We’re going to tell her that part, too. Wes has already agreed. She has to know what we know. Not to mention, from what Malcolm just told us, we’ve got to find out where they took Lochlann. It could be an important key in the sorcerer’s plans. But you, Wes, and I have responsibilities here. We can’t just disappear to investigate it without giving Mum a heads up.”

Ultimately, Jarrad backed down. Wesley sensed he’d given in because, in his heart, Jarrad knew Wen was right. But he wasn’t happy about it.

So, they’d left Jarrad to watch over a restlessly napping Malcolm while they went to speak to Marta.

After they were in the hallway, with their chamber door closed behind them, Wen unexpectedly pulled Wesley into an embrace, and Wesley went willingly. He wrapped his arms around Wen’s lean waist and breathed in his warm, comforting scent. They stood that way for several long moments, savoring the quiet and the connectedness.

But eventually, Wen leaned back, kissed Wesley, then rested his forehead against his.

“How are you doing, m’caire?” he asked.

Wesley huffed out a soft breath that was almost a laugh but not really. “Honestly? I’m not even sure. It’s been a bizarre night.”

“It truly has.”

“How’re you doing?”

Wen did let out a weak laugh, then shook his head. “Like you, I’m not sure. It’s a lot to take in. Malcolm as a spy…”

“And a morphling,” Wesley added.

“As well as being Jarrad’s mysterious lover. Who would ever have guessed any of that? And hearing about his friend…” He winced.

“I get a knot in my stomach every time I think about him,” Wesley murmured. “And about the fact the sorcerer wants me to replace Kai, for whatever nefarious reason he requires ondaen blood.”

“I know.” Wen stroked his back. “I have that same sick knot. But Byram’s not going to get you, Wes. He’ll never get you.” His words were fierce, as was the wave of protection and love radiating out from him.

“I don’t know. Lochlann being captured is troubling.”

“I know what you’re thinking, but Byram can’t get to you here. He doesn’t know where you are.”

“Lochlann does.”

“You said yourself in there not a half-hour ago that Lochlann might not have meant what he said about giving the soldiers information. He might merely have been bargaining for time so they wouldn’t kill him on the spot. I’d bet my life he hates the sorcerer more than he hates any of us, and with his sister and brother here, it’s highly unlikely he’d lead the sorcerer to Kellesborne.”

“But that doesn’t mean he might not talk about me. If the sorcerer wants me as much as Malcolm seems to think, and he realizes Lochlann was living here at Kellesborne for a while, the sorcerer could describe me, and Lochlann would recognize me and give me up.”

“I don’t think that’s likely to happen.”

“You don’t know that for sure.”

Wen smiled, and it was so surprising under the circumstances it nearly stole Wesley’s breath. 

He cupped Wesley’s face between his hands. “Yeah, I kind of do. One soldier saw you in the woods, months ago, probably from a distance, while you were in the water. Because you were in your ondaen form, my guess is, he was not looking at your face. And even if he did pay attention to more details than the fact you have ‘dark hair,’ which is the only description Byram gave Malcolm, you look nothing like you did back then.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean…” He gently tucked a strand of Wesley’s hair behind his ear as he spoke. “Your hair’s much longer and has sun streaks from you working outside every day. Your beard gives you a completely different, rugged appearance from when you’re clean shaven. And after months of hard training, your body’s changed. You’re not even the same build. No one who doesn’t know you well and hasn’t been here to see the changes happening would equate the young, untested Wesley you were before with the strong, confident Lieutenant Brannock of now.”

A part of Wesley wanted to be flattered by Wen’s description, but the more practical side of him insisted, “I’m still the only young man with dark hair who lived at the settlement.”

“Sure. But why would Lochlann know that? He, Risa, and Neric didn’t join us until after we were at Kellesborne. Months after the attack on your settlement. People have been arriving, first at the forest camp, and then here at the castle, for months. Lochlann would have no idea when you got here or where you came from. So even if the sorcerer questioned him, told him he was looking for a dark-haired young man…that description fits a significant portion of the men living here.”

Wesley, reluctantly, saw the logic in Wen’s words. “I suppose that’s true.”

“So, I say again,” Wen said, kissing his forehead, “Lochlann’s capture isn’t going to lead to Byram finding you. The sorcerer has no idea who you are, and we’re going to keep it that way. Okay?”

Wesley sighed. “Okay.”

“Meanwhile…what I am concerned about is this place in the mountains the soldiers were taking Lochlann.”

“I know. I am, too. Let’s go talk to your mum and see what she thinks about it. Although, it’s so late, she’s probably in bed. Is she going to mind us waking her?”

“She’s not necessarily in bed. I don’t think she gets much sleep these days.” Wen’s forehead furrowed. “Can you find her?”

Wesley knew what he meant. “Probably. Give me a second.”

As he was closing his eyes to concentrate, Wen said, “And after that, you can tell me how in hel you found me and actually talked to me tonight down at the guard camp.”

Wesley’s eyelids fluttered open. “I wondered when you were going to ask me about that.”

“Consider yourself asked. I have an idea, but, holy crap, Wes. That was…”

“Yeah. For me, too,” Wesley said, biting back a grin as he sensed Wen’s excitement over how they’d communicated. “But your mum first.”

He closed his eyes and concentrated, tracing a path through the halls and down the stairs to the second floor where Marta, Al, Edric, Risa, and Neric lived. He sensed all of them asleep…except Marta. Wen was right. She wasn’t there. 

He went next to the library tower, which seemed the most logical place if she wasn’t in her rooms. But aside from a faint sense of Thomas, sleeping in his small bedroom next to the library, no one else was nearby.

Huh.

Kitchens and great hall? Maybe. So that’s where he looked next. But he couldn’t pick up Marta’s emotional aura there either.

“Are you sure she’s in the castle?” he asked Wen. “And not maybe down at the guard camp?”

“She could be, but I can’t imagine why she’d have flown down there this late, barring trouble of some sort. And if there were trouble, someone would have come to find me.”

“Hmm. Okay, she’s not in her usual places, but I’ll keep looking.”

He systematically searching Lilia’s treatment rooms, the vellanjhere common room, the armory, the greenhouses, then up and down the hallways. Until… 

“Ohhh.”

“Oh?” Wen asked.

Wesley opened his eyes, his pulse racing ever-so-slightly. “Well, I found her.”

“Where is she?”

“She’s with my mum.”

“In the greenhouses?”

“No. In my mum’s rooms.”

Wen shrugged. “Well, they’re friends, so—”

“Um, I don’t think this is about them having a friendly chat. Especially not in the dead of night. Besides, they’re sleeping.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I mean, your mum is with my mum. They’re sleeping together.”

Wen’s brows rose. “Ohhh,” he echoed.

“Yeah. I take it from the look on your face you didn’t know about this any more than I did?”

The little half smile that curved up one side of Wen’s mouth made Wesley smile, too. “Not a clue. But, you know what? In these troubling times, if they’ve found comfort and companionship with one another, I’m happy for them.”

“So’m I, actually. My mum’s been alone a long time.”

“So has mine. And I can see how they’d be drawn to each other.”

“Not including because their sons fell in love, you mean?”

Wen smiled again. “That just means they were family already.” He held out a hand for Wesley to take. “I wish it were for a more pleasant reason, but let’s go pay them a visit.”

***

Wesley’s mother answered their knock in her dressing gown, her long dark hair falling loose around her shoulders.

“Sweethearts, is everything okay? What’s happened that would bring both of you here in the middle of the night?” Wesley sensed her worry, and it was reflected on her face, in the lines on her forehead.

“It’s okay, Mum, nothing terrible,” Wesley said, kissing her cheek. “But we do need to talk to Marta.”

She didn’t miss a beat, didn’t even look surprised they knew Wen’s mother was there with her.

“Of course. Come in.”

“Did I hear my name?” 

Marta met them, coming from the curtained-off sleeping area. She’d obviously just finished plaiting her hair and was tying off the end of her long, blonde braid with a ribbon Wesley recognized as one of his mum’s. Usually, Marta tied her braid with a piece of leather, much like Wen did, so the shimmering blue ribbon made Wesley smile. 

Marta was dressed in her usual utilitarian fashion, but her shirt was untucked and her feet were bare, evidence she’d probably thrown on her clothes quickly at their knock.

“Hi, Mum,” Wen said. “Sorry to bother you so late.”

“No, it’s fine. Anytime. You know that. What’s going on?”

“It’s…been an interesting night.”

“That’s an understatement,” Wesley murmured.

Wen glanced at him and gave him another of those half smiles that sent a pulse of warmth through Wesley. To his mother, he said, “Wes discovered something tonight that led us to uncover information we felt you needed to know about as soon as possible.”

“Before you go any further,” Wesley’s mother interjected, “is this private? Because I can take a walk if you need me to.” 

Wesley knew his mum meant it and wouldn’t be the least bit offended if they asked her to do so.

“No, it’s fine, Sarah. Stay. Please,” Wen said.

“All right. Sit down then and I’ll make some tea while you talk.”

Wesley gazed fondly at his mother. Her solution to everything was a mug of hot tea. He’d followed in her footsteps earlier tonight, doing the same thing with Malcolm.

Marta sat on the bench on one side of the small table, while Wen and Wesley took the other side.

“Start from the beginning,” she directed.

“Before we do that, there’s something you need to know,” Wesley said. “That is, if you don’t already. Mum, does she?”

His mother turned from where she was working at the fire. He knew instantly she understood what he was asking. She shook her head. “It wasn’t for me to tell, sweetheart. That’s up to you.”

He took a deep breath and nodded. “Okay. You need to know this before we fill you in on anything else,” he said to Marta, “because it plays a role in the rest of it.”

“I’m listening,” she said kindly, her green-eyed gaze curious.

 Wen’s hand curled around his under the table, twining their fingers together, offering his support.

“I’m…an ondaen.”

Marta’s eyes grew wide, but the emotional reaction Wesley felt coming from her wasn’t concern or distrust, as it had been initially with Jarrad. It was… Was it wonder he sensed?

“Are you really?” It was said with that same flicker of admiring surprise, and the question was obviously rhetorical. 

But Wesley answered anyway. “I am. Mum found me when I was a baby, after my parents had been murdered.”

Wesley’s mother had just set mugs down in front of each of them and settled herself on the bench next to Marta. 

“Did you realize?” Marta asked her. 

“Not immediately. Later, though, I suspected. And then when he told me about his full change in the water when he was a teenager, I knew for sure.” Her expression grew sad. “I didn’t tell him, though, what he was. For his own protection. Just as I never told him until recently how he’d come to be mine. But I worry every day that those decisions weren’t fair to him.”

She was responding to Marta’s question, but her troubled gaze never strayed from Wesley and he knew she was really speaking to him.

He reached across the table and rested a hand atop hers. “Don’t feel that way, Mum. I understand why you made those choices. You did it out of love, as you do everything in your life.”

She gave him a grateful, damp-eyed smile, and he smiled back.

But then he returned his attention to Marta. “I’m an ondaen, but that means I have all of the traits of one. The good and…” He winced. “The bad.”

“Sweetheart, you don’t kn—”

“Mum, I do know. Trust me.”

His mother’s expression grew fearful, and he knew she was pondering what could have happened to make him so certain. He also understood her fear wasn’t of him but rather for him and how others might react if the bad parts of being an ondaen were true.

Marta, on the other hand, merely cocked her head to the side, not projecting any particular concern over what the “bad” might be. 

“All of us have both darkness and light, Wesley. But that doesn’t mean the darkness is bad. Dark and light work in tandem to create necessary balance. After all, we can’t have day without night. The things you’re able to do, on one hand, must be balanced to fill the magick well you empty on the other hand.”

“So you…you know what happens?”

“I know enough to understand that whatever you have to do to replenish your magick when you use it is simply a natural part of you. It’s neither good nor bad, it just is.”

It wasn’t that what she was saying was particularly different from what Wen or even Malcolm had told him, but she made it sound less about the bad being needed to balance the good, and more about how it was simply a complete state of being. And that was oddly…comforting. 

Marta smiled. “Having you sitting here is something of a miracle, you know? Outside of Iann, I’m not aware of anyone who’s ever seen, much less met, an ondaen. Your species is so rare, many thought you might actually no longer exist.”

“Apparently, that’s what the sorcerer thinks, too,” Wen said.

“Byram?” Marta’s lip turned up in disgust. “What does he know of the ondaen? Though…” She tilted her head to the side again. “The more pressing question is, how do you know what the sorcerer’s thinking?”

Wen sighed. “And that leads us back to why we’re here tonight…”

* * *

“So, for the moment, Byram doesn’t know the ondaen he’s looking for is Wesley?” Wen’s mum asked a while later, after they’d shared Malcolm’s revelations with her.

“That’s right. And, as I told Wes, he doesn’t look anything like he did back then. That same soldier could see him now and wouldn’t even recognize him.”

“Still not really agreeing with that,” Wesley said under his breath

“But it’s true, sweetheart,” Sarah said, smiling fondly at Wesley. “You have changed.”

“Mum, not you, too.”

“I see the difference as well,” Wen’s mother said.

“Told you.” Wen fought back a smile as he looked at his mate.

Wesley shook his head, but his eyes sparked with amusement. “Fine. If you all say so.”

Wen’s mother’s expression had turned thoughtful. “For now, Wesley, I would recommend we keep the truth of your origins between us and not share it with anyone else. The fewer people who know you’re an ondaen, the safer.”

“That won’t be difficult since I’m used to keeping it a secret,” Wesley replied. 

“Good man. I suspect Ph— I mean Malcolm’s correct in that we probably don’t have any other spies in the castle or else we would have already been found. But…if we do, your heritage is one bit of information we absolutely cannot let the sorcerer get his hands on. I will not see anyone else I care about end up in the sorcerer’s dungeons,” Wen’s mum said fiercely.

“I have no intention of ever getting anywhere near his dungeons,” Wesley said. “I just wish we knew what in hel he wants with me. What was he doing with Kai? Using his blood for something, but what?”

“Could he have wanted it to heal injured soldiers?” Sarah asked.

Sarah had taken the news of Wesley’s ability to heal surprisingly well, but she hadn’t asked a lot of questions about what happened to Wesley afterward. Earlier, Wen’s mum had implied she knew, but Wen had to wonder if she knew specifically or had just heard stories in general? Wesley hadn’t been inclined to go into detail about it, so Wen didn’t either. 

They also hadn’t told their mums how Wesley knew his blood healed. It wasn’t that Wen felt they needed to keep it a secret. It was more that he knew how much it would upset his mum to learn he’d almost died. And, right now, she had far too many other things to worry about. Wesley seemed to understand because he hadn’t breathed a word of it either, and, thankfully, neither of their mothers had asked for any specifics. 

“Maybe,” Wesley responded, addressing Sarah’s question. “But, honestly, this is Byram we’re talking about. And if Malcolm’s right, and Byram is so desperate for an ondaen, it seems likely there’s some bigger, far more vile purpose for it. Maybe there’s something else about my blood that we don’t yet know.”

“I just can’t even bear to think of that evil old bastard wanting you,” Sarah said, her voice trembling with what Wen suspected was probably part fear, part anger.

“Then don’t think about it,” Wesley told her in a soothing tone. “Byram doesn’t know who I am, which means it’s not something we need to worry about at the moment.”

Wen’s mum was obviously sensitive to Sarah’s concern because she reached over and squeezed Sarah’s hand atop the table. “He’s right,” she said. “With only a trusted handful of people here who know the truth, there’s very little chance the sorcerer will ever find out. It’s going to be okay.”

Hearing her say it reminded Wen how many times he’d told Wesley the same thing…It’s going to be okay

“So…” his mum said, moving on in her practical way, “let’s talk about Ph— Malcolm. And the fact he’s a spy for the sorcerer. I have to admit, I didn’t see that twist coming.”

“None of us did,” Wen told her. “But in spite of the sorcerer’s threats and torture, he’s been doing his damnedest to protect us.”

“Because he feels safe here,” Sarah said, shaking her head. “Bless his heart.”

“We’ve got to find a way to get him out from under the sorcerer’s thumb,” Wesley said. “He can’t go on like this, living in constant fear that Byram’s going to torture him or snap his neck at any moment.”

“And we’ve got less than a week to figure it out,” Wen agreed. “Because if Byram doesn’t get either the location of Kellesborne or Wesley, he’s said he’ll kill Malcolm, and Malcolm fully believes he’ll do it.”

“There has to be a way to cut the tie between them,” Sarah said. “Maybe get the poppet and destroy it?”

Wen’s mum shook her head. “Sadly, that won’t work. If Byram used a part of Malcolm to make it, that means the poppet and Malcolm are magickally bound together by blood. It’s as if they’re one and the same. That’s why whatever he does to the doll happens to Malcolm.”

“Which means if the poppet’s destroyed, it kills Malcolm,” Sarah murmured. Dear heavenly gods. I know little of magick, but surely there must be something that can help him.”

“Maybe we can put Thomas on it,” Wen suggested. “There’s got to be some source in the library that might describe how the binding spell can be broken. We don’t have to tell Thomas who it’s for, or anything about Malcolm that would put him in jeopardy…just see if Thomas can find a way to break such a spell.”

“That’s a good thought,” his mum said. “I’ll speak to Thomas first thing this morning. We have a week, which gives us a little time…as long as the sorcerer doesn’t lose patience sooner, and we’re going to pray hard that doesn’t happen. Meanwhile…” She rubbed a hand tiredly over her eyes. “We need to deal with the situation with Lochlann. Tell me again what Malcolm saw and overheard.”

“He said Lochlann pretended to be human when the soldiers caught him. Which was smart. Byram would be able to tell the difference, but it’s doubtful his human soldiers would unless they tested Lochlann with glargak slime, which they didn’t. Not there anyway. But instead of letting him go, which is probably what Lochlann hoped, they tied him up. Malcolm said that’s when Lochlann started screaming at them that he had information. They told him to shut up and that he could tell the wraith about it when they got him there. Then they knocked him out, threw him into a wagon, and—”

“Stop there,” Marta said. “The wraith. I’ve been trying to figure it out since you mentioned it earlier, in your first telling. Who or what is this wraith?”

Wen shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“I’ve been thinking about it,” Wesley said. “Could they mean Moh’dredion? Wraith makes me think of death, and you’ve said the name Moh’dredion in the common tongue means death.”

“Gods, I hope the hel it’s not that,” Wen said.

His mum’s face had grown pale. “Because that might mean Moh’dredion’s regained enough power to come and go from Ballian as he pleases. And in order to do that, he’d have needed to…” She drew in and let out a shaky breath. “Oh gods.”

“Don’t even think it, Mum. Just don’t. If the wraith they’re talking about is Moh’dredion, it could mean the opposite. That he’s not strong enough yet to leave Ballian, so they’re taking him stragglers they find along to road to appease him. Which would mean—” He stopped and looked between his mother and Sarah, trying to gauge how much he should say in front of Sarah.

His mum understood. “She knows everything, love. I’ve told her where Gaige has really gone.”

Wen nodded. He’d guessed as much, as freely as his mum was speaking, but just wanted to be sure. “If they are taking people to Moh’dredion, it would likely mean the lords haven’t been compromised.”

“I want to believe that. But Gaige has been gone for so long…”

“I know. I would think, though, that if Moh’dredion had gotten the lords’ magick, we’d know it somehow. He’d be appearing all over the land, terrifying people and decimating towns to continue feeding. We’ve heard no reports of anything like that from our scouts. We can’t lose hope that the lords are safely out of his clutches.”

“If it is Moh’dredion…then the direction Malcolm said they were going might kind of make sense,” Wesley mused. 

“How so?” Marta asked.

“Ohhh. Right,” Wen said, picking up on what Wesley was thinking. “Malcolm followed them partway into the helys ganhedig.” Then, realizing he’d used the Draega words, he translated for Wesley and Sarah. “The demon’s maw. It’s what the draegans have always called the sharp crags and dark passes in the depths of the Dormere Mountains.” 

“Demon’s maw. That’s fitting,” Wesley said. “From what I’ve heard, that area is filled with caves. If Moh’dredion’s world, Ballian, is underground, perhaps there’s a portal between there and one of those caves?”

“It’s a good guess. Byram’s been getting draegan children to Moh’dredion somehow all these years.”

“At this point, anything is possible,” Wen’s mum said. “But I can’t quite fathom why they’d be abducting people from the road for him. According to Thomas’s research, and from what we’ve learned through Gaige’s visit with Keiran in Ballian, it’s magick folk Moh’dredion is seeking. It’s why he wanted Keiran, and presumably why he came for Gaige. It’s why he prefers the draegan younglings. So, it seems odd he’d settle for humans now.”

“Unless we’ve managed to stop enough of the flow of draegan children he’s become desperate. Especially if he still hasn’t been able to access the draegan lords’ magick.”

“There is another possibility,” Wesley said, his expression grim. “Even though Lochlann told the soldiers he was human, and we assumed they believed him since they didn’t kill him on the spot, what if that’s not the case? What if they’re not killing draegans on sight, but instead are taking them to Moh’dredion.”

“Bloody hel,” Wen murmured.

“That’s possible as well,” Marta said with a sigh. “But until we find out for ourselves what’s going on in the helys ganhedig, anything we come up with is purely speculation. We need to go there. We need answers.”

“Agreed,” Wen said. “Which is why I propose that Wes, Jarrad, Malcolm, and I retrace Malcolm’s route and pick up the soldiers’ trail where Malcolm turned back two days ago.”

“Out of curiosity, did he say why he turned back?”

“I had told him if he ever felt scared, he should return to Kellesborne.”

“And he was truly scared,” Wesley added. “I sensed it when he was talking about it.”

Wen nodded. “It wasn’t just the soldiers, either. He said it felt like something evil lurked there.”

“Well, that’s not comforting at all,” Sarah murmured.

 “What in seven hels is the sorcerer up to out there?” Wen’s mum said. “All right, go get a few hours of sleep if you can, then the four of you head out to retrace Malcolm’s path. Reconnaissance only. Whatever you find, don’t engage unless you have no other choice.”

“Do you want us to try to get Lochlann back?” Wen asked. “For Risa’s sake.”

She took a deep breath, looking troubled. “Lochlann made the choice not to work with us and he accepted his banishment. Plus, we can’t assume anything’s changed about his attitude and behavior. For Risa’s and Neric’s safety, we still cannot accept him back here as a free citizen.”

Wen nodded.

“That said,” his mum continued, “if he’s still alive and you feel he might have information about what’s happening out there, then I’ll leave that decision up to you. But…” She looked seriously at both Wen and Wesley. “You are not to risk your lives for him. Understood?”

“Understood,” Wen told her, and Wesley nodded his agreement.

“Okay. I’ll put Thomas to work on finding a way to break the spell that’s keeping Malcolm linked to the sorcerer. As you said, surely to goodness there must be something in the library that will give us some leads. I’ll also let Allend know he’s in charge of training until you’re back, Wesley. Meanwhile, watch each other’s backs,” Wen’s mum said, her expression serious, as they rose from the table.

“We always do,” Wen assured her, reaching for Wesley’s hand.

“Always,” Wesley echoed, giving him one of those sweet smiles that filled Wen’s chest with warmth.

“And, please, watch Jarrad’s and Malcolm’s, too. As much as I love that boy, gods know sometimes Jarrad thinks and reacts with everything but his head.” 

“They’ll be okay,” Wen said. “It’s pretty obvious Jarrad’s fallen hard and he just wants to protect the person he loves. I know what that feels like.”

His mum smiled and tousled his hair, as she’d done since he was a kid. “I know.” Then she did the same to Wesley, who smiled in return.

“Be safe, sweethearts. Extra safe,” Sarah said, pulling first Wesley, then Wen into a hug.

“We will be.”

Wen’s mum walked them to the door. “Safe travels. And good hunting.”

Click here to read Chapter 48!

Author: mlrhodes

Author M.L. Rhodes writes bestselling m/m romance and fantasy novels. She's also a geek, an introvert, a night owl, a potter, and a damn fine margarita maker.

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