I’m sticking with the next installment of The Tribe series – The Wolf again this week.
To set up the scene ever so briefly without revealing too much, Velli and Kane are on their way back to the one place Velli never wanted to return – the reservation where she faced a painful and severe punishment because she fell in love…with Kane. They have to go, because something is there that they must find.
Along the way, Velli spots another spot. The one place where her life changed forever:
Instead of driving straight through, Kane behaved like a normal human. They stopped often on their ride for breaks and spent the night in hotels. Even in their need to get to their daughter he’d been considerate of her still healing body, and the wounded soul being ripped back open with every mile closer to what had been her home for so long.
For that she was grateful, even if it somehow made it both worse and better at the same time. With her Wolf back her own pains were intensified by Tala’s still broken spirit. Of course, there was the anger and the knowledge that the people so cruel to one of their own, the ones that hadn’t recognized Velli’s pain, they were the ones raising her child.
Kane mostly left her alone in her quiet to absorb every mile marker of impact, every memory that rushed forward to remind her of what they drew closer to. Rationally she knew her mind exaggerated the horrors of her youth to make peace with the terror and pain of her final days there.
In truth, beyond the depth of fear and sorrow was a note of peace. Returning to the home she’d known so long brought a sense of relief. Her mother. The lands filled with magic. The familiar forests and lakes that filled her few peaceful dreams.
Kane’s hand brushed her leg again as it had periodically throughout their drive. The gesture offered an occasional comfort and offer of support she’d been free to reject.
This time she grabbed his hand and straightened. “Stop.” The squeak in her voice embarrassed her. She hadn’t realized how long it had been since she’d spoken.
The truck stopped short and they both jerked forward with the force of the sudden stop. His thumb brushed the back of her hand when she lingered in silence. “Vels? What is it?”
“That’s it.” Her heart raced so fast she worried it might burst. The skeleton of the silo’s roof hovered above the tree line, broken and rotted with the age of the past ten years. Last time she’d been there the roof had been whole, where bats collected in a writhing nest.
A seatbelt clicked and his warmth covered her against the sudden chill coursing through her.
More than anything she wanted to turn into his warmth and go away, push away the memory once again as she always did. Instead she shoved open the door at the same time as she undid her seat belt. Ignoring his yell to wait, she took off running.
Toward the place that started her pain.
If she was going to face the pain of returning home, first she had to face this place. Where everything started. She didn’t know if it would help, and it probably wouldn’t, but she had to prove she was strong enough.
Turned out she wasn’t.
Ten yards away she stopped, gasping at the impact of a memory.
“Poke Pocahontas!” Childish stupid laughter echoed through the dark enclosure. Another painful attack made her sore body jerk in protest. The laughter annoyed the bats still lounging and they swooped in her face and hair as the boys pinned her to the wall.
“Velli.” Kane shook her hard. “Velli. Look at me, baby.”
She hadn’t even realized she was crying until the pad of his thumb brushed a tear away. His lips took care of another. “I can’t even face this. How can I go back?”
“Because you aren’t alone. You tried to do this alone. I’m here now.”
“I always thought I was so strong. I’m not. I’m just a hell of an actress.”
“And so modest, too.”
The laugh bubbled out before she could stop it. A weak laugh that was muffled by his chest along with her words, “Big oaf.”
“I know.” He pushed her back by her shoulders until he could press his forehead to hers. The steady strength of his touch helped ease her trembling. “And just for the record, I think you’re more than strong. You’re invincible.”
“Kane.” She sighed and grasped his cheeks in her hands. “Gushing doesn’t look good on you.”
“I don’t gush.” He spun her around and smacked her ass. “Now get moving.”
Reassured by his presence, she did just that. Any time she faltered his strong hand rested on her shoulder to help. Before she could truly contemplate running in the other direction they were standing in the door.
“What a shit hole.”
“It had a roof. Back then.” She wrapped her fingers around the cold rusted metal of the door and pulled it open. The grating squeak of the hinges sent Tala shivering and she felt a similar shudder from Kane. At the moment, Tala wasn’t cowering—after all it wasn’t her fears now. It was Velli’s.
“Looks like it’s still a hangout.” Kane’s bitter tone echoed through the small space. Funny, it had seemed so much bigger a decade ago. “I can smell it all. You said you kill the ones that raped you?”
“They were the first people I ever killed.” Velli ran her hand along the concrete blocks of the walls until the cold seeped into her fingertips. The icy chill seeped through to her heart until the rapid beat slowed to almost a stop. “I did it before I left Canada. There was a horrible accident. They were drinking and died in a car wreck. Drowned in the lake. Tragic.”
“Too good a death for them.”
She smiled, not the least bit bothered about finding humor in their deaths. Vengeance may not be right in most cases, but it had been necessary for her. “They didn’t die slow. I got to watch the light face from their eyes as I drowned them. I poured beer down their throats as they struggled just as they had done to me.”
“Seems they passed on their tips and tricks. This place reeks of sex, drugs, and alcohol.”
Even without the senses of her Wolf she could smell everything. The silo itself was saturated with the sickening scents of her memory.
Everywhere she turned images rushed forward. The screams of her own memory filled her head, the scents of the past and present consuming her nose. Her body tensed for another scream she didn’t want to release for anything.
Then Kane was at her side. Maybe instinct guided him, but he didn’t touch her. Instead a low growl rumbled through the cramped space, not loud, but enough to cut through the screams in her head. The warmth of his body lingered close. “You’re not alone.”
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