24.1 | Wolf in Boy's Clothing

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Author's Note

There were a few comments on the previous chapter in which people said they disliked how Lu invaded Nika's mind to plant the hallucinations. I just want to clarify that this was the most merciful option, and the merciful method is what Luiza Lazarov always chooses to do. 

If she seemed apathetic to Nika's suffering, please let me know. That's not how I wanted it to be relayed. Lu is a very empathetic character, but she also has a keen ability to make practical and judicious decisions. For those reasons, she would make a fantastic surgeon or doctor. And that's kind of how I want her to be regarded—as a healer/helper whose primary motive is to save people.

I try to introduce gray morality in all of my books. That means you will encounter characters, situations, and ideas that you might not be comfortable with. And that's what real life is like. So while you read, please try to learn something, gain a new perspective. 

There was no ideal choice in the torture situation. Lu did what she thought was best for herself and Nika. While the method itself might have been ugly, she spared Nika from further physical harm. And that's going to make all the difference in the chapters to come. 

Please pay attention throughout the chapter you are about to read. Note Lu's reactions and emotions. Consider what you would have done if you'd been in her shoes...

A heartbeat after Lu stumbled out of the truck and ripped off the hood, Tatiana materialized from nowhere. She hadn't driven to the camp with Lu and the betas, which was good, considering what Lu did next.

She'd never been a violent person—quite the opposite, really—but her rage was honed into something volcanic as she lashed out at the demon-witch.

When she rallied her power, magic snapped through the air. It was like the crack of a whip, or the striking of a match. Warmth flooded the campsite in a thick wave as Lu focused her anger directly onto Tatiana.

With a gasp, the demon-witch crashed to her knees and cried out in pain. Blood trickled from her eyes, nose, and ears. A whirlwind gathered around them as Volkari rushed out of their tents or trailers, sleepy and disoriented. Car alarms went off. Flames engulfed a nearby tree. The earth rumbled underfoot.

All the while, Lu held out her arms and drew from every invisible current of magic that made itself known. She hurled it into Tatiana. Not a precise, thought-out spell with a chant and ritual. Not a curse with objects and gloomy weather to secure it.

It was raw, untamed power, unseen and unheard apart from the effect it had on Tatiana.

"You gave me your word that she wouldn't be harmed!" Lu bellowed for all to hear. "And you wonder why we think you're savages!"

She stood above Tatiana's seizing body. Those uncanny, blue eyes rolled back into her skull, and what passed beneath her skin could only be described as death.

"I will never help you," Lu went on. "Any of you! So enjoy your curse, enjoy being hunted and poached for the rest of your miserable lives. And you can all blame her"—a finger pointed at Tatiana—"and your noble alpha for torturing Nika Dimitrovich!"

The onlookers ranged every shape, size, color, and age. But the expressions they wore were one and the same.

Fear—that was fear clouding their eyes, freezing their movements. Fear and awe.

Lu took a moment to assess herself, her surroundings.

Her skin was glowing. Not a normal halo, but a vibrant, violent burst of light. Her silver hair whipped relentlessly in the wind, and she could have sworn she heard a high-pitched chorus of angels.

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