thirteen

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A/N: on the first day of christmas gen10 gave me to me, a chapter of gentle predator..... (let's pretend it rhymes). To get everyone into the holiday spirit, and to count down the last 12 chapters of this book, I thought I'd post a chapter a day until christmas! Merry Christmas you guys!

Illyria looked at the letter in her hands before she could move. Her heart pounded as she ached to follow Tristyn out into the attack. But she promised. Illyria sighed as she sat down on his bed, her fingers tracing over her lips as she remembered his kisses. God, what she wouldn't do for more of those kisses.

A wolf's howl echoed through the forest, shaking the windows of the pack house and shaking Illyria into Warrior mode, Luna mode if you want to get technical. Shoving the letter into the band of her sweat pants Illyria threw open the door to Tristyn bedroom, yelling to everyone to get up. Illyria runs, knocking on every door, and getting everyone down to the cellar where Luna Claire and Rachel already are, escorting all the elderly and orphaned children.

Once the upstairs are cleared Illyria rushed down the stairs, meeting the eyes of the guards through the windows and nodding. Her mind is thinking strategy while her body mechanically makes it's way to the trap door in the pantry, the one leading directly to the cellar and safe room.

Another loud howl rings out, this time closer to the pack house, and this time by the enemies. Illyria shivers as a dead weight settles in the pit of her stomach, a bad feeling clouding her sense of outcome. Rushing now, Illyria slams shut the trap door. Enclosing the underground hallway in darkness as she follows the scents of her pack members into the safe room.

As she was raised a warrior, and as attacks on her pack were infrequent and small, Illyria had never been in the safe room. But now approaching the doorway, finding what seemed like hundreds of wide eyes trained on her, she knew that she wanted nothing more than to run back out, ignore what Tristyn asked, and fight anyway.

Seeing all those worried eyes triggered her fight or flight instinct; but the Luna in her just squared her shoulders and walked into the middle of the room, finding a seat by Lily. Her little friend from training, "Lilster, why you crying?" Illyria cooed, pulling the little girl onto her lap and and smoothing down her hair. "Both my parents are out there," Lily hiccuped, "I just want them back,"

Illyria sucked in a sharp breath of air. "You know Alpha Trissy, right?" Lily nodded, "Do you trust him?" The little girl gulped back some tears, nodded her head at Illyria's question. "Well, if your mommy and daddy are out there with Alpha Trissy, then I think it'll be okay. He'll make sure to protect them. He loves everyone in this pack a lot, he won't let anything happen to us." Lily sniffed, wiping her eyes as she looked up at Illyria, "okay," Illyria smiled, leaning forward to place a kiss on Lily's runny nose, meeting Luna Claire's eyes from across the room.

Slowly Illyria began rocking Lily back and forth, until the younger girl was fast asleep, along with various other children. Mother's tense as silence rang out from above. Illyria, remembering her letter, shifted Lily onto one side, pulling out the now creased paper and smoothing it out. What was the letter going to say? What kind of secrets would it reveal?

Illyria took a sharp breath as she ripped open the end of the envelope, pulling out the lined note paper from the inside.

"My Dearest Illyria,

I'm sorry you're stuck with a nickname like Ill, honestly we could've thought that one through better. If you're reading this it means that you've discovered my dairy from the year when I met your father. I am writing this now, just after your birth, but it is intended for your nineteenth when you'll find your Mate.

My darling girl, I'm sorry if he messes up, if you don't like him, or if for some reason, he doesn't like you. He's an idiot, but he's your idiot. If you're reading this letter it means that you've got the diary, and I don't know which one you read first but if it was the diary you'll know that myself and your father didn't have the smoothest beginnings. It was difficult, and annoying, and soul destroying but I wouldn't change it for the world, because after everything that happened, when we did finally get together, it was completely worth it all."

Illyria sniffed as fresh tears coated her cheeks. Her mother's words only solidified what she was already feeling, or what she already knew; that she loved him. Illyria loved Tristyn.

"I hope that you and your mate have it easy, but I know that it doesn't work like that, and I just want you to know that it's okay. There's nothing wrong with you my girl. You are the most perfect little baby I have ever seen, and holding you in my arms is the greatest thing I've ever experienced. Even if your poop smells like, really, really bad.

Illyria, my little girl, I hope you have the best life we can give you, and I hope that your nineteenth birthday is the best one out of them all. I know we have nineteen years to get there, and nineteen future birthdays to beat, but little girl, we're going to do this one together.

On another note, I know you'll find this one out later, but is Tristyn your mate? Myself and Claire, really really want you and little Tris to be mates. I don't know, your mother's just being silly, let me know after you read this though. I'm probably going to give this to you before the celebrations.

I love you my little Warrior-"

A loud yelp rang out through the cellar, and then the sound of cracking glass, cascading over marble. There was a growl, and slowly everyone asleep in the cellar woke up, wincing each time they heard a sound. Illyria handed Lily to one of the other mother's and stood up, inching towards the safe rooms door.

As her hand reached out to the handle, another hand landed on her shoulder, causing Illyria to jump. She turned and came to face Luna Claire, Rachel, and Jess. Illyria opened her mouth to protest but Luna Claire shook her head. "We go together or not at all," Rachel spoke, her voice carrying the full power of her dominant voice. Illyria shrugged but faced Jess, ready to protest, except Jess cut her off before she could carry on. "I can handle myself out there. Don't you dare argue with this."

Illyria ignored the challenging look that her best friend offered her and took a deep breath, "Okay. We go together." Illyria turned towards the door, but then turned back, issuing instructions to the two Luna's and Jess. "You guys stay near the kitchen and dining room, keep everyone away from the pantry," the Luna's nodded and Illyria turned to Jess. "Go upstairs, deal with whoever got in through the upstairs balcony, I'm going outfront." Jess nodded and the women steeled themselves for what was about to happen. No doubt it wouldn't be good.



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