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Authors: Mason Sabre

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BOOK: Cade
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Cade nodded as the small
wolf
came to him on unsteady feet, and after only a moment’s hesitation, tentatively rubbed against his side.

The
wolf
was his now.

 

Chapter Eight

 

The water was cold as Cade immersed himself into it, its icy-like claws digging into him and seeping deep inside. He breathed slowly, trying to mentally hold onto the boy instead of giving in to the cold. The small
wolf
beside him, scrabbled to stay close to Cade. His movements were jerky, uncertain, and afraid—like a toddler just learning to walk.

Cade watched him as he lowered his face to the water, his paws sinking into the mud. He puffed out his cheeks as if taking in the scents. What it must be like, Cade wondered, to suddenly be gifted with the abilities of
Others
. The
wolf
stepped forward cautiously, and Cade hoped that the shock of the temperature wouldn’t contrast too much with the fever that he was running.
Humans
always got fevers when they were turned. More often than not, it was the fevers that eventually claimed their fragile lives. They had to learn to regulate it. Their bodies were designed for the normal thirty-seven degrees, but it was hotter for
weres
. It drained them, took all of their resources. It was partly why they ate so much and had insatiable appetites. Their bodies ran hot and devoured energy that needed replenishing. 

The small
wolf
glanced up at Cade with fear-filled, blue eyes, wanting the reassurance of the dominant
wolf
. Cade motioned with his head for him to follow.
Stay with me
. He spoke to him between their minds.
Just me
.

The young
wolf
took a tentative step, and then another. He paused, glanced at Cade once more, and at Cade’s nod, the young
wolf
let himself slide into the water. His eyes opened wide as the freezing cold enveloped him, but he floundered to catch up to Cade.

Gemma swam up beside the boy so that he was flanked by her and Cade, but she stayed far enough away so as not to distract him. Stephen stayed at the back. He slipped into the water a good while after everyone else, making sure they were safely in and on their way. He had perfected the low and silent swim, keeping the water calm, his head the only part above the water’s surface, his eyes constantly scanning the area. It was only a fool who would try to escape a
tiger
by getting into water and believing that cats wouldn’t follow.

The boy’s mind was a slippery slope, ready to plunge into dark water. Chaos threatened at the edges, and Cade fought with all he had to push it away so that it didn’t consume them both. It was hard enough for Cade to distract his own mind. He had his own hunger to worry about, and he could feel it rising inside. His
wolf
hadn't hunted this evening. He had faced danger, protected and fought—he needed to be rewarded. Cade focused on reaching the bank. He avoided thinking about Stephen or Gemma. If he didn’t, his mind always landed on her—and that was a whole different hunger, one that was even harder to fight.

The young
wolf
paddled furiously next to Cade. They swam slowly, keeping a nice, even pace. But then, abruptly, Cade started losing the boy—he was losing his grasp on the world around him. He saw the panic that rose inside him, watched as it shone bright in his eyes. He stopped, letting his
wolf
speak to him through their bond.
Calm
, he said.
Listen to me
. But the boy was past listening.
We’re nearly there
.  They were. They were so damn close that it was almost tangible. They had crossed the main body of water, the deeper parts of it. The tide was out; they had been in luck with that.

Cade glanced at Gemma and Stephen—they had come to a stop, too. The young
wolf
started to struggle as he trod water. Spluttering as water entered his mouth, he suddenly went under. Overcome by dread, Cade waited for a moment for the boy to re-emerge. When the moment had passed and the young
wolf
was nowhere to be seen, Cade forced himself to calm and think. He closed his eyes and searched for the boy.

Panic slammed into Cade’s chest and he gasped, taking in a mouthful of water. Disorientated for a minute, he slowly started to realise that it wasn’t his panic he was feeling—it was the boy’s. Focusing hard, he pushed into the boy’s psyche, willing him to calm down. Sudden splashing had Cade’s eyes shooting open. The young
wolf
had resurfaced and was wildly thrashing about.

Cade fought to keep himself afloat physically and mentally.
We can do this
, he soothed.
We’re trying to help but you have to stay with us. Stay with me. Hear my voice. Feel it inside
. The boy’s hunger was rising again. Cade could sense it. The rabbit was nothing to sate it for very long. He wished that he could speak and tell Gemma and Stephen how urgent it was to get to the other side. He hoped that they would realise on their own. He swam towards the young cub, his heart like a drumbeat in his head. Using his muzzle, he pushed him with both his mind and his body, forcing him onto the bank.

The field that led to Cade’s house normally contained sheep. Cade hoped with everything he had that tonight, they would be inside. That they would be locked up in the safety of the barn and not served up on a platter of green grass for the emerging ravenous young wolf. He wouldn’t stop slaughtering them until everything was dead, unable to comprehend that his body had had enough. When the hunger got hold of you, it was so strong that no amount of food seemed to be able to quench it. It had to be learnt to be tolerated. It had to be taught. If he could just survive long enough, Cade could teach him how.

When they reached the bank, Gemma and Stephen held back, allowing Cade to first calm the cub. Cade pushed himself onto the bank first, and then the boy followed. He sidled up to Cade and pressed against him. He rested his muzzle under Cade’s chin, and Cade lowered his head in response, offering him some kind of comfort in a world that was so confusing.

Like a beacon on the hill, a sheep bleated, having sensed predators in the vicinity. The young wolf’s head snapped up, eyes wide, ears pricking. 

Cade gave a silent curse and let a growl roll from deep in his throat—it was a warning to the cub to stay. But the boy snarled and snapped in rebellion and then darted off in the field.

He was lighter than the three of them, so it was easier for him to dash through the mud. Their paws sank deep with each step as they tried to go after him, their weight a hindrance in this marshland.

No
, yelled Cade in his mind, hoping to reach the boy. But it was no use. The boy had already reached the grassy edge and was out of the morass. Cade pushed himself forward, putting power into his hind legs. He raced for the boy before shit happened that he’d never be able to undo.

The boy was only a half-breed, though. He wasn’t used to running on four legs. He didn’t have the natural talent to use his tail for balance. When he reached the turnstile, he tumbled to the side. He rolled with the fall, smashing his head off the wood. The sheep on the other side chorused their cries of fear and warning.
Shut up
, Cade thought.
Shut the hell up
. If they didn’t, it would not be long before the stupid
Humans
came out to see what the racket was all about. It wouldn’t matter that they had made it across and to Cade’s house. They’d have been caught out, the
Humans
would know, and then they would all be fucked. Just like that.

It was Gemma who raced past him. She was smaller than Cade and Stephen and moved with much more ease than they did. She raced ahead of them both, and as the boy made another leap for the field, she leapt into the air and tackled him to the ground. She bit the back of his neck, holding him in place and dragging him down into the mud. Gold and orange fur meshed as they rolled together, the cub thrashing for his freedom as he tried to deny the submission Gemma was trying to impose on him. He slashed out and caught her on the shoulder, making her yelp, but it didn’t stop her.  She kept a firm grip on the nape of his neck, pressing him into the dirt until he stopped struggling.

Cade and Stephen were only just milliseconds behind. Cade skidded forward, spinning as he did so that he landed in front of the boy, snout to snout. He held the
wolf’s
gaze for a minute before closing his eyes and forcing himself into the boy’s mind. The sudden invasion had the boy thrashing under Gemma’s weight once more, but he was now pinned heavily to the ground. Inside his mind, he was half boy and half wolf. Lost with the ravages of his hunger, he rolled about, screaming as he clutched the
wolf’s
head with a boy’s hands.

Listen to me
, Cade demanded.
Listen to me and breathe. You can fight it. I know you can. Don’t let it consume you in here. Listen to my voice
.

The boy snarled and growled so that he could get free. The scent of blood hung thick in the air, but Cade wouldn’t open his eyes right now to see whose blood that was. He couldn’t allow himself to break his concentration with the boy. Cade pushed deeper in his mind, using everything he had.
Come to me
, he said.
We can do this
. But it was no use. The boy was salivating, overtaken with his hunger. Cade opened his eyes again and stared into the young
wolf’s
. The boy stared back and, for a second, he was still and tears ran down his fur.

Push it down
, Cade urged.

Stephen snarled from his place next to them, but Cade ignored the
tiger
. He shuffled forward, sliding closer until his face was touching the boy’s. He opened his mouth then and bit down gently enough not to hurt, but firmly enough that it connected them, inside and out, strengthening their bond to a deeper level. The boy relaxed and closed his eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

Cade’s house was small but adequate in comparison to places like the Davies’ residence, or even the place he grew up in. It was, in most respects, just a mere shell of a house, but it was his. He had bought it with the hopes that one day, it would be filled with the life of the family he might have in the future. He didn’t hope for much, just enough that he could be happy and have peace inside.  However, with every passing day, he was sure that peace might never come—not if he couldn’t shake the things that his mind wanted, but that he couldn’t have.

He was more than aware of Gemma’s presence as they made their way across the fields and to the land at the back of his house. She was like some kind of homing beacon that, for whatever reason, his
wolf
had caught onto and didn’t care that she was a
tiger
. She padded on ahead of them, pushing her way through the jungle that was the land behind Cade’s house. Her fur was a lighter shade of orange compared to Stephen’s, and she seemed to have fewer stripes than he did. Cade couldn’t take his eyes from her as she led them to his house.

Cade’s house only had a small square patch of grass at the front of it, but at the back it had a vast span of land. It was uncared for and overgrown; Cade hadn't yet got around to fixing it up. There was enough of a path trodden through it, where the tall grass had been beaten to the side. That was all Cade needed. He ran sometimes on the land behind. It led to the estuary, but he found that it was often a bother if the animals were in the field—he would set them off bleating and charging in fear.

To one side of Cade’s garden, there was an old shed. It looked okay from the distance, and at least it was in one piece. On the other side, there was a greenhouse—or what remained of one. It was half caved in and Mother Nature had moved in and wrapped her hands around it firmly, vines and weeds entwining the metal frame in an intricate pattern. A patch of cut grass just at the back of the house was where he would sit out in the evenings and soothe the need inside for nature and earth. Cade had done enough so that he could enjoy some of the garden—enough for him.

Gemma stopped when they got to the patch and the small
wolf—
who had kept himself close to Cade the entire way, having finally given in to the dominant
wolf
once more—flopped himself down onto the grass, panting from exertion, tongue lolling.  Before Cade went to check that he was okay, he opened up his senses, listening for any sounds that were out of place, sniffing the air for any foreign smells. He already knew that Stephen and Gemma would be doing the same–after all, it was in all
Others’
nature—but instinct wouldn’t let him relax if he had not scoped the area himself. Only when he was absolutely satisfied there was no imminent danger did he pad over to the small
wolf
, Gemma
and Stephen standing on the lookout behind him. 

BOOK: Cade
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