The next morning Twilight felt fine and she proved as much to her mate by climbing from his warm embrace to dress before tossing his clean clothes onto the bed for him. “It’s time now get up and get ya ass dressed. Ya have grandpups to see downstairs. I know Eva will wanna take her family home as quick as possible. I know I would.”
Kieran decided to play sleeping as long as he could. And that wasn’t a very long time.
When she got no response she wickedly scratched the bottom of his barefoot with her nail and watched him move as she laughed softly.
“Oh, for the love of the Goddess, I just got good and comfy, Twi,” he smiled up at her, his dimples showing, now.
“Come now mate, ya wanna walk down with me don’t ya?” As he started moving she smiled, “I thought ya would.”
Down below Devon was seated beside the bed that held his mate and their pup. He was exhausted but refused to sleep, he wouldn’t risk losing his family. The kidnapping had him paranoid that such would happen again. When Eva opened an eye to look at him, Dev smiled for her.
“Devon, why are you still here?” Eva was so happy to have Terry in her arms, but she was beginning to worry about her mate. “You need to bathe.”
“I will I just..”
“Holy Mutton, what’s that smell?” Kieran shook his head. “Everybody knows, unless yer in the battlefields, ya clean up after a scrap, Devon.” He couldn’t believe his son had stayed right there and not gotten cleaned up. There was literally no telling what was on him.
“See?” Eva said it like it shouldn’t be something he had overlooked. They were lycan. Smells really stood out to them.
“Goddess but it stinks down here.” Twilight fanned before her face and glared at the offending one, “Go wash ya self up and stop wafting that horrible stench around. Ya mate and pup will be fine with me and yer dad watchin’ em. I promise, if anybody bad gets close, I’ll cut their balls off and Kie will carve out their hearts just for you.” She held out some of his fathers clean things and pointed towards one of the outside bath houses.
“I’ll even roast those hearts for ya. Waste ain’t in our vocabulary.” Kieran smirked before scratching his chin. It still felt weird not to have hair there.
As Devon walked off Twilight took his seat and watched Kieran check on both Eva and the pup. “I didn’t lie to him, we really will do that to any that dare threaten either of you at this point.”
“I don’t doubt it,” Eva whispered. She grimaced a bit as she tried to readjust her pup in her arms. He was getting to that young man stage where they were much more than a couple of arms full.
“Here,” Kieran reached down and placed a hand on Terry’s face, letting him smell his grandpa’s scent. He rumbled low to also ease the boy, and then he lifted Terry up so Eva could have a break and move.
At first, Eva clenched. But then, she watched how Kieran was so gentle with their boy, turning his form – which looked slight against the size of this man – to simply be cradled in his arms. Kieran sat on the edge of the bed and rocked the boy.
“You go and refresh yourself, Eva. I can handle grandpa duty for a bit. I’ve done it before. When you’re ready, he’ll be right here for ya.” Kieran waited for the gal to get up and realized she was having a bit of trouble. “Twi..” he winked at his mate and tried not to poke any fun at the stiffness that had settled in. Seemed they were a bit soft after moving to the other side.
Her blue gaze had been riveted on Kieran’s sweet handling of Terry. She snapped out of the moment once he called out to her. Taking the woman by the arm and the hand, She helped pull Eva to her feet. “There ya go.” She managed a smile.
“Oh, thank you.” Eva happily accepted help. “I uh, still have a bit of aches. Hoping that goes away soon.” She had a saddened expression on her face. But then, she wasn’t sure Twilight and Kieran had even known she was expecting again.
“Ya hungry? I can get the kitchen to send us food out here. They’ll send food for Kieran anyways but is there anything particular ya want fixed up?” Twilight moved to get the attention of one of the guards that stood just outside of the tent. Her palms felt suddenly damp and she dried them on her pants while Kieran wasn’t paying attention to her. She wouldn’t ruin this moment with his grandpup for anything in the world. “If you’d like to freshen up we can arrange a room for ya to do that in.” The female warrior had stood up to fierce enemies without backing down.. Hell she’d stood her ground with Kieran from the beginning and never backed down. However, being around Eva – the well-known mother of the other pack – it bothered her right now.
“Oh, I’d love some just toast and jams, please. I’m not much on meats and eggs right now. And the room? Well, yes, I want to take Terry home, but he needs just a little more time before tumbling him through another portal. Give him another day, maybe? So a room would do wonders for my aching back. And maybe in a room, Devon will finally sleep.” Eva smiled and made her way out of the tent. “I know my way to where to freshen up, though. At least for now. Thank you, Twilight.”
She stood at the opening to the room, but stepped back and out of the way when another entered. Twilight moved to the other side of the bed and checked on Terry. “He has red hair like your daughter did. The dark haired one Russell? That one takes after you though. At least some of him does.” Twilight smiled for Kieran and rested a hand on his shoulder.
“His face. Poor shit.” He smiled as he watched his mate. “You want to meet the other ones? I was told that Clinton is the spittin’ image of me in my younger days. Just remember… you’re mine and I will beat his ass if he even thinks ta flirt with you. And you need ta be on your best behavior. I don’t want ta have ta lock you up. Cause I imagine some of these can charm the pants off a priestess.”
“No good for em to even try cause I’m beyond happy with you.” Twilight smoothed her hand over his beads and played with them as he went on.
“Well, I imagine it wouldn’t just be meeting them. We’d be able to see those that left so long ago. Reestablish ourselves to the pack on the other side. We’d also get to meet the dragons and others that are in the pack’s life over there. Devon ain’t quite as strict as we are, remember?” he knew she had never been over. He wondered if she’d be as adventurous there as she was here.
“We could see the other side for a few days. Then come home to our pack. To each other…”
Twilight let his beads go to fall back into place with soft clicks. He wanted to meet his grandpups and she wouldn’t deny him that no matter how she felt. “Yeah Kie, we can do that.” The getaway would be nice and she prayed nothing would ruin it.
The boy groaned in his grandpa’s arms. He whimpered and his eyes shot opened to show how glazed they were. “No…no…no…don’t…” Terry fought against the hands that held him as they tried to stop him from clawing grooves in his elders face.
Kieran held both the boy’s hands in one of his own while still cradling him with the other.
“Terry…it’s me, yer grand…you’re safe. We got you out. You’re safe,” He looked to Twilight for help. He’d never thought this would happen. He supposed, he’d forgotten about Wulf… the kid had nightmares for a long time. Now it was coming back to him. He’d seen this kind of terror from older lycan, especially after war. To see it in his grandpup, it broke his heart.
“Shhhh..” Twilight soothed the pup as best she could.
“Terry, your daddy’s just takin’ a shower and your mama’s gonna be right back. You smell the bacon and the ham? Breakfast’s cookin’ for us. You smell that? Your mama makes good breakfasts for you and your brothers, don’t she?” The boy had started calming down with Twilight’s touches and with Kieran’s words. He hoped they could get the boy through it.
“You gotta look at me, now. Look at ya grands. We’re here for ya, just waitin’ on breakfast, too. Can you see me?” he’d stopped struggling and had a sleepy, yet perplexed look on his face. So Kieran wondered what would happen.
As his hands were released Terry just laid there exhausted and stared up at the man that said he was his granddad. “Didn’t let em get em.. grandpa.. kept em safe..” Terry’s usually bright green eyes were now the dull green of a warrior that’d seen more than he ever should have. He closed his eyes and curled against his grandfather’s chest to sleep again. He had no craving for food, he just wanted to sleep while he was safe.
“I know you did, Terry. You saved them. Now you’ve been saved. Now you can rest and get better.” He frowned deeply, and Twilight could tell he was fighting the urge to growl desperately. Instead, he pulled the boy up on his shoulder to better hug him. His eyes looked to his mate and she could see the tears welled there… both from knowing what his grandpup would always have to deal with and not knowing what he’d been through.
Twilight squeezed her mates shoulder knowing how hard this was hitting him. He’d made sure that most of Terry’s tormentors had been dealt with, yet he couldn’t slay the demons in the boys sleep. “He’ll be okay Kie.”
“He’s too young for this,” the big Alpha took deep slow breaths to back off the heavy emotions stirring through him. His mate could see it. He didn’t mind that. He just didn’t want the others to feel uncomfortable and he definitely didn’t want to scare anybody. “They’d better’ve killed every last one of those coven bastards. And when Xarlan comes, he won’t be spared. If he doesn’t show, I’ll go pull him out of whatever hole he’s dug. Swear to the goddess.”
“What’s wrong?” Eva came back in barefoot and with her hair pulled back and braided. She could tell by how they were positioned that something had happened. Kieran gently placed Terry back down in the bed. The pup was sound asleep again.
“Terry had a bad episode, but he’s alright now.” Twilight stepped out of the way of Terry’s mama. She watched the woman check her son over before tucking him back into the bed so she could guard him while eating and awaiting her mates return.
Kieran was silent and walked over to stand behind Twilight, his hands on her shoulders as the worried mama handled her pup.
When Devon stepped in he took up as much if not more of the room than his father. It made the place feel crowded very quickly. He moved to the bed and lifted his boy to rest on his lap as Eva showed the servants where to put their food. He rumbled low for his pup and just held him close. They’d nearly lost him and the look on Devon’s face said none would ever make the mistake of snatching one of theirs again.
“He’s gonna have night terrors for a while. Be careful he don’t hurt you or Eva. The boy shifts his hands for defense. I don’t know when you start trainin’ yours for shifting, but it might be a good idea to help him into that so he has a bit more control. I remember Wulf goin’ through similar episodes.” Kieran spoke quietly and watched Devon’s way with his boy.
Brushed red hair from his pups face, Devon rested his hand on Terry’s chest and rumbled with a little more force. Terry’s green eyes opened at the familiar sound of his papa’s gentle command. He’d been listening to the different tones of this rumble since before birth. You never ignored papa’s rumbles. “Ya mama had food made up special for ya. Sit up here beside me and eat. Then we’ll get ya cleaned up. Sen’ll take ya to the stream to wash up if ya like.”
Seated by his father, Terrance dropped his gaze and then shifted it to his mother as his fingers gripped the sheet. He shook his head no and pressed into his father’s side. He didn’t want to go out, he didn’t want to leave them.. when the food was brought close he pushed farther into his father’s side as he tried to get away from it.
“It’s just broth son.. ya need to eat somethin’.” Devon urged gently.
Terry shook his head and pushed the tray away. They didn’t understand! He’d been so hungry after two days of nothing but a few cups of water. He’d made the mistake of mentioning that hunger to his captors. Clutching his stomach Terry heaved and tossed up nothing but black chunks of mud. They’d forced the rough, pitch black dirt down his throat. They’d filled him with it every day after that. He had laid on that hot earthen floor of his cell filled with water and dirt and prayed for it to end. Not just this torture but the others as well. His mind had been just as numb as his body when they’d finally found him.
The growl that left Kieran’s body was not something any of them needed to continue to hear. He knew it. He knew better than to stay and yet he knew better than to leave. He walked over to the water pot and got both a rag wet to hand to Eva and also got a cup of water.
After another minute or two of heaving up mud, Terry wiped his mouth and stared at the damaged tips of his fingers. Some had bits of broken nails remaining while others had nothing. For the first two days he’d tried to claw his way out. At least once he’d gotten close. That was when they’d de-clawed him as they put it. They’d left the broken bits behind to remind him. They’d done the same to his toes though they were out of view at the moment. Terry felt the rub of the material from the sheet over exposed and sensitive nerves. There wasn’t any place on him that didn’t hurt. He was bruised in ways they couldn’t see and yet Terry never cried out or even whimpered except in his sleep. He had no control over himself there.
Right now as he felt them all looking at him, Terry wanted to hide away. But they wouldn’t let him. His dulled gaze went to the mess on the bed that he’d made. “Sor…” He coughed and felt the grit of the dirt in his mouth which he swallowed back to try again, “Sorry… I.. I’ll clean it… up.”
Devon watched his son and fury flooded through him. What had they done to his pup? “Nah son, we got it. Ya just relax and rest.” He lifted Terry from the mess and felt him tense up in his arms before going slack.
“Here. You need ta wash that stuff from your mouth and drink the rest of it down. It’ll come out. Then you’ll be well again. You’ll be strong.” Kieran held the cup for Terry and offered to help him with it. “No broth right now. You were right Terry. You just gotta keep lettin’ us know things so we can better take care of ya. Broth would be too much after all that mess. Water it is, little hero.” He had the same gaze that Twilight would recognize from Kieran’s sparse, secret visits with his daughter and grandchildren. He loved them. There were no conditions. And he hoped coming to Terry in this way would help the boy to accept what was offered. The first thing the pup had said was that he had protected them. So he’d appeal to Terry’s inner hero.
Terry held his grandpa’s gaze as he leaned to drink from the cup. He rinsed his mouth and spit it on the ground before drinking the rest down. He’d called him a hero.. he looked up at his father and then back at his grandpa as he asked in a low voice, “More?” His lips were still cracked and dry so were splitting as he spoke but he didn’t care. He didn’t feel it only tasted the slight bit of copper in his mouth. But he wanted more water.
“You got it. Anything for my hero grandpup.” He pulled the near-empty cup back for dabbed his thumb over some of the blood on Terry’s lip before he turned to get more water. It was a good to see the boy at least ready to keep going. So many times people sunk into that hurt they had endured and never came back. The thought of Gar hit Kieran hard as he refilled the cup and turned again to offer it to their little ginger warrior.
Eva smiled and forced her tears away. She didn’t want Terry to see them. How Kieran was doing this, she was very grateful. She wasn’t sure she’d have the strength to force Terry into anything right now. And she definitely wouldn’t have thought of wording it that way.
“Think Doc needs to tend to ya Terry. She’s been holdin’ back but we gotta get ya cleaned up and get ya wounds dressed proper. Yer grandpa and I can stay if ya like. We can send ya mama and Twi for some better clothes for ya. Would ya like that?” It was taking everything in Devon to not storm out and rip apart the one responsible for this!
The boy nodded and looked to his mama. He knew it was going to hurt and he didn’t want her there if he screamed out. He hoped she understood that. “Love ya mama.”
“Love you, too, Terr… oh… I got Sen available for me so I can get to the market and back quick. What colors do you like most now? You change up every other month on me! I want to get you the right sash. And I know your uncles can’t wait to get you some things…” She wanted to let Terry be in control as much as possible. Even when it came to this, it was important. After all, he’d had enough control taken from him this week.
“Blue..with yellow.” Terry was hesitant at first but then had told his mother what he wanted. He had always been this way and his mama simply went with it. Every few months the colors changed dependent upon several factors. He never spoke of it because he hated being thought of as the odd one. So it stayed between him and his mama.
What no one realized was there was another who’d been right outside the door. He peered through the opening as Doc went in and he saw what they’d done to his brother. This was his first stop the moment he and Essa had returned from the water. Russ hadn’t thought they’d do so much to a child! The one responsible wouldn’t get a chance to repeat it on another.
Moving from the door Russell found Ariessa, “I’ll be back in a day or two. Let me know if anything changes here alright?”
“By yerself?” Ariessa seemed a bit disappointed.
“Yeah by myself, Essa. Trust me, ya don’t wanna be with me for this one.” Russell had no intentions of holding back his monster. In fact he was going to let go and enjoy every gory moment of it.
“Okay, fine. I’ll let you know anything happenin’ here. But you might want ta ask the slave girl for information before you just use yer nose. And you best tell me if you need my help, stubborn ass…” She walked around the tent in the courtyard that they had set up for the boy for now. They’d not know she was there, she’d be quiet as a mouse.
Russ watched her and damned if he didn’t already miss her at his side. But for this one he really didn’t need anyone with him that could be held as a witness against him later on. ~ I promise you’ll be the first one I call. ~
~ I better be… I know you, handsome. ~ she was kind of apologizing for calling him a stubborn ass. She understood that he needed to do things this way.