XII | Inevitability Of Secrets

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The air bit her, whipped against her face like it was trying to stop her, to keep her from what she knew she had to do. From what she wanted to do. There was no way she would stop now, not after what that woman had done. Shadows danced around her vision like the world was closing in on her, but she didn't pay any mind to them. They weren't real. Was any of this real?

Kaia ran, her feet pounding like steady drumbeats against the earth beneath her, the others at her side. They were here because she'd ordered them to be, but Kaia knew that they secretly relished it. It was an honor for them to run with her, to serve her.

Then Kaia skidded to a stop, raising her nose to the sky. The world smelled of citrus all of a sudden. She was close now. Soon, she'd taste that sweet, warm blood on her tongue, feel flesh between her teeth; she'd sampled it time and time again, and she would relish it once more tonight. That woman deserved what she was going to get.

Something caught in Kaia, a voice in her head. Something's wrong, it shouted, this isn't right!

And when Kaia bolted upright, she knew that the voice had spoken the truth. Kaia pressed her hands to her mouth as bile rose. The memory of how she'd felt in her dream, how angry, how hungry was all too real, and it was entirely wrong. It hadn't been Kaia. It couldn't have been; she liked to think that she wasn't capable of such hatred. It couldn't have been her own. Kaia would never hurt another person. She doubted she could even if she'd wanted to.

She kept telling herself this over and over again, staring out the window from where she sat upright in bed. It was barely dawn, a sleepy haze still coating the world outside. The snow seemed to fall in slow motion. Kaia gasped for air in short bursts, her lungs panting one moment and not moving the next. There was still an echo of hate in her somewhere, the aftereffects of such intense emotion. It was vile. She felt as though someone had injected oil into her veins and she'd swallowed fire.

It was all she could do not to let the oil light because once it did, there was no way she could stop the fire from spreading.

"Kaia!" She tried to blink but felt like she was in a trance. She just stared out the window, wishing and wishing that the fury in her would subside, the bloodlust. It wasn't hers. It was alien. But it swallowed her up and held her prisoner like a puddle of mud did a boot. "Oh my god, are you ok?"

It sounded like she heard his voice through a wall. Who was it? He seemed worried. "Kaia, I swear to god if you don't blink in the next minute I'm going to slap you." She heard his voice this time as if it were an echo in a pitch black cave, bouncing off of jagged rocks that tore the sounds apart before they reached her ears.

All she could do was watch the snow fall, observe how quiet and peaceful it seemed compared to the typhoon that raged underneath her skin.

A door slammed open somewhere, and another voice entered Kaia's consciousness. This one was clear, though; it was hot chocolate between her hands at The Neighborhood on a cold day, just what she needed. A perfect peace welled up inside her, combating the filthy residue from her dream. "What are you doing here?" it asked.

"I don't know. I heard..." this was the first voice, answering. It was spooked, rushed and hoarse. "Kaia's not moving."

"What?" Kaia sensed fear in the air like a net had fallen from above and trapped them all. There was a pain in his response that stabbed into her like spurs on a horse's flank. Kaia tried to stir, but her body wouldn't move. All she could do was stare. And cry. Hot tears slid down her face in twin rivulets.

But then warm hands held her face, slowly bringing her back to herself. She didn't break free until soft lips were on her cheek, brushing her tears away into memory; Kaia thought back to the forest when she'd met Kaleb, how his rough tongue had swept away her tears then, too. And then she tumbled from that place she'd been suspended in, clumsily falling back to her wolf's arms with shakes and shivers.

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