As Chloe sat in the parking lot of the local diner in town, she couldn't help but feel the pull of the knot in her stomach as it anchored itself in the very pit where Chloe's anxiety had been living.
Ever since she sent that text to Aubrey, she had been warring with herself over whether or not she had made right decision. Beca, her mate, had begged her, pleaded with her to leave it alone.
Yet here Chloe was, about to do something that could potentially cause more harm than good. Beca was right, Chloe wanted to believe that there was good in Aubrey, that the girl who had been her best friend almost her entire life couldn't possibly be as monstrous as her family.
Until Chloe had the answer, her curiosity, wouldn't be sated. She couldn't walk away from Aubrey until she knew for sure that she couldn't be trusted. That she wasn't the person Chloe thought she was.
With her hands gripping the steering wheel, Chloe inhaled a deep breath to steady her nerves. She knew that if she didn't calm down Beca would pick up on her emotions and she couldn't allow that to happen.
Gazing out the windscreen she glanced around at the people passing by out in the street and then, with one more breath, she pulled the key from the ignition, ready to face Aubrey and whatever truth lay ahead.
Just as she placed her hand on the handle to exit the car, the very blonde in question stepped out of the diner and glanced around. Chloe watched her for a moment, wondering if it was her Aubrey was waiting on when a familiar truck pulled up and Chloe's hand retracted from the handle almost as if it had been burned.
She watched as the truck pulled to a stop, Chicago stepping out, his expression frantic as he approached Aubrey. She watched as the two engaged in a heated argument, Aubrey yelling at Chicago as he glanced around and tried to shush her.
She couldn't hear what was being said but something inside told her that something wasn't right. Before she could put anymore thought into it, she watched as Chicago jumped back into his truck and sped off. Aubrey retreated back inside the diner but returned a moment later with her coat and purse, quickly unlocking and climbing into her car.
She didn't take off straight away and Chloe was about to step out and approach her to see if she could suss out what had just transpired when her phone rang. She looked down at it cradled in the drinks holder between the two front seats and picked it up.
"Shit," Chloe uttered under breath as Aubrey's name flashed across the screen. Swiping the screen to answer it she pressed the phone to her ear.
"Hey Aubs," Chloe greeted but was quickly interrupted before she could say anymore.
"Hey Chlo, I'm really sorry but I'm gonna have to cancel on lunch. My Mom's got some sort of emergency with the luncheon she's hosting. Rain cheque?" She asked and Chloe watched as Aubrey started up her car ready to make a hasty exit.
"Uh huh," Chloe answered distractedly before snapping back to attention, "yeah sure it's fine. I'll text you later."
Aubrey bid her a goodbye and Chloe hung up the call, phone lowering from her ear as she watched the blonde speed out of the carpark and down the street in the same direction Chicago left in.
After a moment of taking in what had just happened, Chloe put the key back in the ignition and turned it on, reversing out of her spot and pulling out of the car park.
All the way home she couldn't rid herself of the guy feeling that something was horribly wrong and it toyed with her emotions to no end.
When she finally made it back to the ranch she turned down the dirt road and watched the as the horse paddocks passed by as she journeyed on down the road. When the house came into view she saw a familiar black jeep and could make out a figure sitting on the front step of the deck.
Chloe eased the car into its usual parking spot and stopped. She swallowed thickly as she tried to gauge Beca's mood but she couldn't feel anything, it was like her mate was blocking any thoughts or emotions from her.
Gathering her stuff, Chloe climbed out of the car and locked it. Slinging her bag over her shoulder she approached the deck, not once did Beca glance up to watch her actions. Chloe had an idea of what was wrong but Beca's next words confirmed it.
"How's Aubrey?" The brunette questioned, fingers fidgeting with a long stem of grass she had plucked along the way to the house. When Chloe didn't respond right away, she looked up with her eyes, but her head remained low.
"You know you should really learn not to think so loudly if you're going to lie to me, I could hear you from miles away," Beca stated and Chloe swallowed thickly. She could feel her mates emotions growing colder.
She knew of her mates issues with trusting people and Chloe had more or less tested that to the max when she sent that text to Aubrey. She wished she could go back and talk herself out of it now but that was the benefit of hindsight.
"I didn't lie to you I just, I didn't tell you what I was doing," Chloe whispered under her breath, unable to look her mate in the eye as she spoke. Even she couldn't buy into what she was saying, and based on Beca's snort of amusement, neither did the wolf.
"Cause that's so much better," the brunette retorted. As Beca dropped the stem of grass, she stood up and shoved her hands into the pockets of her zip up hoody, stepping down off the deck but still keeping a distance from her mate.
"I stood in my living room and pleaded with you not to go to Aubrey. To leave it alone. Instead you arrange to meet up and what? Talk things out? Play United Nations with someone who hates the very existence of my kind? Do you know how much danger you could've put us in?" Beca queried, her voice rising in anger.
"NO!" Chloe yelled back, hands raised out to Beca in a placating manner as she took a few steps forward only for the other woman to take a few steps back. Chloe's body visibly sagged at the act, upset about the distance the was being placed between them.
"I didn't talk to Aubrey," Chloe said, hoping to remedy the situation, but Beca stared at her stoically and interrupted her before she could continue.
"Only because she left," Beca replied, Chloe's eyebrows creased in confusion as to how Beca would know that and was saved from wondering any longer as the brunette continued.
"Luke saw you at the diner. He also saw Aubrey leaving before you could meet up. I could also hear your mind working a mile a minute trying to figure out where she was going and I promise you Chloe, if she left in that much of a hurry, it doesn't mean anything good for me or my pack."
The wind was knocked out of Chloe's sails, her mouth bobbing up and down as her brain tried to compute what she was being told and what it could all possibly mean. Luckily for her Beca spared her from wondering any longer.
"Serenity and Theo stumbled upon some new upgrades to the hunters traps they're leaving out in the woods. Trigger pressure spear guns. Gail and John just spent the last hour patching Theo's shoulder back up."
Chloe raised a hand to her mouth in shock, her minds eye conjuring up a visualisation of the wolf being pierced by a weapon that was intentionally created to kill him and his kind. Then the thought crossed her mind of how easily that could've been Beca.
"Not a pretty picture is it?" Beca asked, though the question was rhetorical. Tears began to well in Chloe's eyes as the guilt of the damage she could've caused had she had the chance to speak to Aubrey began to sink in. Beca heaved out a heavy sigh.
"I get this is hard for you Chloe, more than I think you realise. I've spent my whole life pretending to be something that I'm not in order to survive. That's why I can't put my feelings for you ahead of the survival of my pack."
Chloe's posture stiffened at Beca's words, lip trembling with the threat of tears at the unspoken words that were hidden between the lines of what her mate was saying.
"What are you saying? Bec, are you..." Chloe stumbled over the lump in her throat as she struggled to even form the words. But she didn't have to wait for a response, her mate knew what she was going to ask.
"If you can't let go of this need to try and bridge the gap between wolves and hunters, if the need to talk to Aubrey means more to you than me and my word, then I can't be with you," Beca said, her voice wavering slightly as she spoke, "I can't risk putting the pack in danger like that. I can't risk losing the only family I have left."
Chloe's heart broke at those words. She was Beca's girlfriend, her mate, wasn't she her family too?
"What about us?" She cried, tears rolling down her cheeks, "what about our bond? We're mated," she tried to argue back but Beca shook her head clearly frustrated.
"Do you think this is easy for me? Do you think I want to do this? Chloe I risked everything to be with you. Being with a human goes against everything most wolves believe in but I loved you enough to take that risk."
Beca lowered her head and closed her eyes. The pain of potentially losing her mate already setting in and it was threatening to break to the surface. She knew she needed to keep herself calm. At least until she was no longer in Chloe's presence. Steeling herself, she glanced back up into the eyes of the girl she loved more than anything.
"I can't keep trying to stand on middle ground with you. The hunters have made their choice now our pack has to make ours. We're not going to keep cowering in the shadows to appease them anymore. We're done running from them."
Chloe's brow was deeply furrowed. There was an ominous tone to what Beca was telling her and she didn't like it. She could already feel the unsettling pit of despair creeping in.
"W-what are you saying?" She asked, her voice hushed, afraid of what was coming next. Beca gazed at her, deep into her eye.
"I'm saying, that unless you can let go of Aubrey, of this idea that you can somehow settle a centuries old dispute between wolves and hunters, then we can't be together. It's us or them. No more middle ground. It's not safe there anymore."
A tear rolled down Chloe's cheek and her face began to crumple up with the weight of the words Beca had just spoken. The brunette must have taken pity on her because in that moment, Beca approached her, a delicate hand reaching out to cup her face.
"I love you more than anything in this world Chlo and I've tried to keep things as normal as possible for you to keep your world in balance," Beca sighed, eyes closing as she rested her forehead against her mates.
"I'm not gonna be that person who makes you choose. I won't do that to you. So I'm gonna take a step back so you don't have to."
Suddenly the well broke as Chloe was hit with the overwhelming feeling of pain. The pain of a wolf that was willingly letting go of her mate and only served to intensify the feeling of pain she herself was currently experiencing. It was unbearable.
"Bec's please don't do this," Chloe pleaded, reaching up to rest her hand over the one that was cupping her cheek. Midnight blue eyes glanced up into Chloe's and she could see the tears swimming in them.
"I don't want to, but I have to. It's the only way I can keep everyone safe. It's the only way I can keep YOU safe."
With one last long deep meaningful gaze into Chloe's eyes, Beca kissed her, and before the redhead could react, her mate was turning away from her and climbing into her jeep.
Chloe watched on as dust billowed in the wind as Beca drove off down the road, knowing there was nothing she could do. She had made a choice, a stupid one, and because of it she had lost the best thing that had ever happened to her.
Maybe the person who came up with the saying curiosity killed the cat was right. Chloe had chased her own curiosity and in doing so, killed her relationship. She should've listened to Beca, trusted that her mate knew best.
But Chloe couldn't quash her own desire to have the best of both worlds. She wanted so desperately to believe Aubrey wasn't like the rest of the hunters. The she wasn't capable of carrying out the kinds of atrocities her family had inflicted upon wolves, on Beca's family.
She wanted to have her mate and her best friend co-exist in the same world. She couldn't even be mad at Beca for walking away because her mate was doing the most selfless thing anyone has ever done for her.
She was willingly walking away so Chloe didn't have to choose between Beca and her old life, the life she knew before the wolf world. Beca was willing to sacrifice being with her mate, so that Chloe would be unburdened by the war that would never stop waging between hunters and wolves.
When the was finally out of sight, Chloe stepped inside her house and retreated to her bedroom. Throwing her bag on her desk chair she perched herself on the edge of the bed, hands gripping at the comforter that lay beneath her.
Looking up, her eyes landed on a picture tucked into the edge of her vanity mirror, a picture of she and Beca taken on the camping trip. They looked so happy, so in love and now, now Chloe was left in the ruins of what could've been the greatest love story of her life.
And that was when the dam finally broke. A deep mournful sob escaped as Chloe collapsed into floods of tears, hand rising to her mouth to try and quieten down the sound of her own heartbreak, but it was useless.
She had lost her mate.
2 Weeks Later...
Chloe deposited the books from her bag into her locker with a sigh. For the past two weeks she'd been hoping to bump into her mate so she could speak to her, try and salvage their relationship.
But Beca was nowhere to be found. Not once had the brunette appeared, not even in passing. She thought she had caught a glimpse of her in the cafeteria one day only to realise it was someone else entirely.
It was beginning to really affect her mood. She was snappier, her usual sunny disposition having up and left along with her girlfriend.
Pulling out the books she needed for her homework, Chloe caught a glimpse of the wolf sticker in her locker, openly mocking her. She slammed the metal door shut to find Stacie on the other side leaning against the row, eyebrow raised questioningly, arms crossed over her chest.
"Okay, I give, it's been two weeks now and you've been a miserable bitch. Not to mention the fact that Beca hasn't been around in days. What's going on? Did you guys break up?" Stacie asked, pushing herself off the locker. Chloe just shook her head and turned to walk away.
"Just leave it Stace. I don't wanna talk about it," she replied, already moving towards the exit, Stacie hot in her heels falling into step next to her.
"Nope, not happening. You've been a grumpy ass for two weeks now and I'm not gonna let it continue. What's going on? It's Beca isn't it," Stacie said, knowing well what the root of the issue was, just not knowing the details.
"Things are just complicated right now," Chloe finally conceded. She wouldn't admit that she and Beca were more or less broken up because she still believed she could salvage their relationship if she had the chance.
As they exited the building, Chloe's eyes landed on Aubrey in the parking lot talking to some girls from her English class. The redhead stopped and stared for a minute the knot in her stomach that had formed two weeks ago tightening before she inhaled a deep breath and kept walking towards her car.
Stacie watched the moment unfold, her eyes darting back and forth between both of her friends, eyebrows creased in curiosity just as Chloe mumbled a quick 'see ye' and walked away.
The taller girls eyebrow raised as she crossed her arms, wondering, not for the first time, what the hell was going on, but determined to find out.
Across town Beca stood out on the balcony of her home, gazing out over the vast landscape before her. Gail watched over her niece from the doorway, wondering yet again at what point would the wolf catch a break?
"How long do you plan on hiding out for?" She asked, as she made way way across the balcony to lean on the steel framed glass barrier next to her niece, perching her arms on top of it.
Beca just turned and looked at her briefly before returning her attention to the forestry down below. She wasn't in the mood for a lecture, even if Gails heart was in the right place.
"Just say I told you so and get it over with Gail. I'm not in the mood for small talk," she snapped and Gail sighed at the response that came her way.
"Do you really think that little of me?" She queried, brows furrowed as she turned her body towards her niece, arms crossed over chest.
"I may have been hard on you when you first started gravitating towards Chloe but I was just trying to protect you," Gail said and Beca turned towards her.
"Protect me from what?"
"From THIS!" Gail bellowed, chest heaving at the force of her words.
"Do you think I wanted this for you? For you to yet again have to face the cruelties faced by our kind? Do you think I enjoy watching you suffer?"
At Gails words Beca's bottom lip quivered and she swallowed around the lump in her throat. She knew she was taking her anger at her situation out on Gail but she couldn't help it, she was sick of being different.
"I watched a little girl retreat inside herself for years because of what had been inflicted upon on her. When your parents died part of you did to and I wanted to protect you from that happening again. It's all I've ever wanted."
At the mention of her parents a tear slipped past Beca's defences and down her cheek. But that deter Gail from continuing on.
"I knew your bond with Chloe would only lead to hardship and I didn't want that for you. I didn't want you to suffer again because of who you are."
Beca sniffled, tears now free falling as her mind flickered towards her mate. The person her soul was longing for. Beca glanced up at her aunt, midnight blue eyes swimming in tears.
"I love her Gail," she whimpered, and her aunts whole demeanour softened at the sight of her heartbroken niece. It was like looking at a small girl mourning the death of her parents all over again.
"I know. That's why I let Chloe in, why I stepped back. Seeing you with her is the happiest I've ever seen you. That's all I've wanted for you. For you to finally find peace. She gave you that."
Beca reached up and wiped at her eyes with the back of her sleeve. She steadied herself, taking a moment to catch her breath and collect her thoughts. Then gazed up at her aunt like a child seeking the answers to all of life's questions.
"What do I do?" She asked, and Gail heaved out a sigh and brushed the distance between them, pulling Beca into her arms and pressing a kiss to the side of her head.
"I can't tell you what to do. Only you can decide that. I know that's not what you wanna hear, but that's all part of growing up. I have to let you stand on your own two feet. Only you can make those decisions. This is your path Beca, you choose which one to follow."
Beca knew Gail was right and it pained her to realise that she alone was responsible for the choices she made, because the weight of those choices could have far reaching consequences.
But she could also hear the underlying tone in her aunts voice, the words that were unsaid because they didn't need to be. No matter what choice she made, no matter what decision she came to, Gail would be in her corner supporting her.
As if a pin had popped their bubble a voice infiltrated their thoughts... Luke's voice.
We've got trouble...
Without so much as a second thought, both women were leaping over the balcony and transitioning mid air, their paws barely touching the ground before they were sprinting off into the forest at full speed.
Out at the ranch, Chloe sat out on the steps of the porch, a burgundy beanie hat perched upon her head and a thick wool lined denim jacket keeping her warm against the bite of the cool night air.
Her eyes gazed out at the full moon and the many stars that that were gleaming in the night sky, like a scattering of diamonds against a pitch black backdrop.
She couldn't sleep, her mind had been racing non stop and no matter what she did, she couldn't switch it off. So she did the only thing she could. She sat out on the porch waiting. Foolishly hoping that Bella... Beca might show up. Like old times.
The creak of the front door alerted her to the presence of someone else on the porch. Chloe's head turned to find her mother making her way over to her, the elder Beale taking a seat on the same step as her daughter and wrapping her jacket tighter around herself.
"You know I haven't seen you spend this time out on the porch since Bella showed up," Claire said, casting a curious gaze at her daughter.
If hadn't gone unnoticed by the Beale family that the wolf hasn't been showing up the last two weeks. Chloe lied and said she had seen Bella a few times around the ranch at various times to quash their curiosity.
She knew deep down she was technically lying. Beca has been around the premises, but the wolf kept her distance, never approaching Chloe and never making her presence known.
"Come to think of it, I haven't seen Beca around in a while either. Are things okay between you two?" Claire asked, knowing she had hit the nail on the head when Chloe expelled a breath that they could both clearly see evaporating into the night sky.
"Things are kind of complicated right now. But we'll be fine. We'll work it out," Chloe smiled, trying to convince herself as much as her mother that things were in fact fine.
Claire regarded her daughter for a moment. She wanted to dig for more information but she knew better than to push. Chloe was so much like her father, headstrong, determined. Two things Claire both loved and loathed.
Chloe was laid back and outgoing just like her siblings, but unlike her siblings Chloe could be fiercely independent to a fault. She was very much her fathers daughter in that respect. Sometimes she just wouldn't accept help even if it was needed. She preferred to get things down herself and fix her own problems.
Part of it was her fathers DNA, the other part was growing up the youngest of four kids and wanting to prove herself all the time. She never wanted to live in her siblings shadows, spending her life constantly being compared. She always wanted to be her own person.
John loved her all the more for it. It was what made Chloe his favourite even though he would never openly admit that he had favourites. Chloe and her dad were two peas in a pod.
Of all his kids, Chloe was the one John always knew would figure everything out. She may have been the baby of the family, but she was far from being mollycoddled. She was the one he was certain would blaze the brightest and most unique path.
If only he knew just how unique that path already was...
Claire stared at her daughter for a moment, deciding whether or not to push for more information. Eventually she set upon leaving it be. Chloe was a Senior and would be heading out into the world in a few months, if she was certain she could work it out for herself Claire would respect that.
"Okay, but you know you can talk to us if you need to," Claire said and Chloe nodded, whispering a little 'I know' before turning her attention back out over the paddock. Claire stood up and adjusted her coat, it was only in that moment that Chloe realised she was dressed up.
"Your father and I are having dinner with the Carters in town. We'll more than likely be late, you know how your father gets when he and Dave start talking horses. Why don't you call one of the girls and have them over."
Chloe nodded at her mother's suggestions, knowing full well she wouldn't bother. The only girl she wished to see was the one girl currently avoiding her
"Yeah, I might do that," she replied non the less, if for no other reason than to appease her mother.
With that Claire returned back inside to locate her husband, returning a few short minutes later with him trailing behind, both of them bidding their daughter a good night.
Chloe however remained rooted to the very step she had been perched upon for the last half an hour, until eventually the bite of the cool night air proved to be just a little too much for someone who had been stationary for an extended period of time.
Standing up, she brushed off the back of her jeans from any dust and made her way to the front door. Just as her hand grabbed for the handle she felt this rush of heat course through her.
She faltered in her step, caught off guard by what she had felt. A little started, she shook herself off and made for the door again when she was hit by the rush again, this time, she knew something was wrong.
"Beca..." she whispered and barged her way through the door and inside the house, grabbing the car keys from bowl and slamming the door shut behind her locking it before dashing for her car.
She wasn't sure where she should go but something inside compelled her to head for the forest trails, so she set off for Jefferson's farm and floored it. She didn't know where to start but she figured it was as good a place as any.
Stacie bopped along to the radio as she drove, hands slapping agains the steering wheel like a drum as she peered through her windows at the scenery passing her by.
Out of nowhere, a car came thundering down the road in the opposite direction and the brunettes head snapped out the window to try catch a glimpse of the motorist.
"Chloe?" She questioned out loud and without a second thought, pulled a U turn in the middle of the road, much to the annoyance of several other road users.
Pushing her foot flat to the floor, Stacie did her best to catch up to the redhead, whilst also keep a distance so as not to draw attention to herself. She had to find out what was going on.
A feeling of foreboding washed over Stacie when she recognised Chloe pulling off the main road and heading for Jefferson's Farm. At this hour of the night, she was more than a little concerned. What could the redhead possibly be doing.
Familiar with the road and not wanting Chloe to spot her, Stacie switched off her headlights and tailed her friend until the car ahead came to a stop at the gate. Stacie pulled in a distance away and watched as Chloe exited the car, retrieved a flashlight from the trunk and then practically bounded over the gate, heading for the hiking trails.
Stacie cursed herself when she realised she had no flashlight of her own, but quickly remembered the small flashlight built into her phone as she picked it up from its place in the cup holder.
Climbing out of her car she locked the doors and followed after her friend, finding comfort in the fact she could see the light from Chloe's flashlight alerting her to her whereabouts.
"This better be worth it," Stacie muttered as she boosted herself up over the gate, flicked on the light on her phone and jogged to catch up, mindful not to make too much noise as she followed.
Aubrey dashed around the trees, rifle in hand as she kept up with Chicago and Brooke, the Walp men leaving no time for thinking in their pursuit of the wolves.
They had separated out. Jonathan Walp and William Posen taking off in one direction with Aubrey's sister, while Aubrey and the boys headed in the opposite direction. The idea being to circle back around, effectively caging the wolves in to a land mine of hidden traps.
Jonathan's associate Bobby and a couple of his buddies scouted for higher ground. As Aubrey ran, part of her felt emboldened by the task at hand, the hunter in her rising. But she knew it was simply being heightened by the adrenaline rush. The surge of power.
But there was a voice in the back of her head that kept nagging at her. The one that continued to cause conflict between her hunting lineage and her relationships with the outside world.
Aubrey continued to struggle with that conflict. How do you pull yourself out of legacy you were born into? A mentality that had been drilled into you from the day you were born.
Most hunters just accepted their fate. Chicago and his brother got a sick thrill from it. But Aubrey didn't see the joy in it. It was just a means to an end. No wolves meant no hunters, and she could leave this behind her. So being the goal orientated person she's always been, she had to get the job done.
A rustle of wind gushed past her as she turned and caught the faintest sight of fur rushing off past her, she called out to her cousins who bought turned and followed after her, rifles poised to shoot.
It was game on...
Chloe carefully meandered her way through the trail, careful of any traps that may have been in her path. The last thing she wanted was to accidentally spear herself because she was careless.
But the overwhelming feeling of tension was growing thicker by the minute. It was the first time in weeks she had been able to feel what Beca was feeling so intensely and it worried her to no end.
Just at that moment, a brush of fur breezed past her leg and Chloe watched on startled as the wolf went darting ahead at a speed Chloe could never keep up with. She squinted, feeling like she recognised the colour of the fur.
"Calamity?" She whispered in thought, and followed where the wolf had gone.
Mere minutes after she had been overtaken by the wolf, Chloe stumbled upon a scene that struck fear deep inside of her. Calamity was caught in a clearing just down below from where Chloe stood.
Scoping the area Chloe caught sight of two figures, one standing a short distance behind the wolf, the other standing on a ledge just over where the wolf was trapped. Both had guns pointing at her.
Chloe glanced around the area and spotted a decent sized rock nearby, picking it up, she took aim at the man on lower ground. Praying it had the desired effect.
She watched in slow motion as she tossed it, the rock managing to clip the man at the base of his neck, causing him to emit a harsh yell. Chloe cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted from where she stood.
The wolf briefly registered the yell and took off whilst both men were distracted. It was only in that moment that Chloe herself realised she had alerted the hunters to her presence.
Dashing behind a tree, she flicked off her flashlight and hid as best she could, hoping to evade the two men who were now eagerly trying to track her down. Realising she had very few options, she did the only thing she could do.
She ran as if her life depended on it...
Stacie was just making her way up the trail when all of a sudden a body collided with her, causing both parties to scream.
"Stacie! What are you doing here?!" Chloe shrieked wondering what the hell her best friend was doing out in the middle of the woods. The brunette just gazed back at her with a look of indignation.
"What am I doing here? What are you doing here?! I followed you," Stacie explained just as Chloe turned her head and grabbed her by the hand.
"Shit, we need to go... NOW!" She barked, yanking the brunette by the hand and pulling her back down the trail.
"Chloe, what the hell's going on?" Stacie shouted but the ginger wasn't stopping and simply pulled her harder.
"I don't have time to explain just do as I say."
As the two women rushed down the trail between the trees and bushes, they eventually rounded a clearing and Chloe was suddenly halted in her tracks.
Standing just feet away from them, rifle locked and loaded, was Aubrey, her target right in front of her staring her down. The brown wolf unmoving. The breath instantly left Chloe's body at the sight.
"Beca," she whispered.
Stacie stood behind her gobsmacked at what she was seeing. Before she could fully comprehend it, Chloe was sprinting towards their friend at full speed.
Chloe didn't have to time think in that moment. She simply acted on instinct. Seeing Aubrey hesitating on the trigger she took off running as fast as she could and just before the blonde had time to apply any pressure to the trigger, Chloe tackled her to the ground.
As soon as Aubrey was down, Chloe dragged herself up, the wolf instantly dashing to her side.
Chloe what the hell! You could've been killed!...
Chloe didn't respond, just watched as Aubrey pulled herself to her feet, rifle still discarded somewhere in the dirt having been lost it in the scuffle.
Aubrey and Chloe stared one another down, Chloe's stance in front of Beca giving the blonde all the information she needed. Chloe had sided with the wolves, and there was nothing she could do about it. Chloe gazed tearfully at the girl who used to be her best friend, shaking her head.
"I never wanted it to be like this," she managed around the lump forming in her throat. Aubrey clenched her jaw as she gazed back at her.
"But it is Chloe. This is how it's always been. This is how it has to be."
Chloe shook her head at this, refusing to accept that answer.
"No it doesn't. It doesn't have to be like this. The wolves are peaceful, they just want to be left alone."
Aubrey shook her head and broke her gaze away from her friend, gazing down at her own feet.
"They're animals. They've killed people, they don't deserve to live amongst us."
Chloe stared deeply into her friends eyes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl she used to know. But she was gone, and in that moment, so was their friendship.
"The only murderers around here are hunters!" Chloe spit back, the image of Beca finding her parents conjuring itself up in her minds eye.
"Well let's see just how good we are at being murderers then."
Chloe's eyes snapped to the side to find Chicago staring her down, rifle pointed directly at her. Aubrey's eyes widened in shock when she saw her cousin levelling his gun, not at a wolf, but at Chloe.
"Chicago what the hell are you doing!" She shouted, visibly disturbed by his actions. The man just shrugged his shoulders and grinned.
"Getting rid of some useless wolf loving trash," he replied, voice low and menacing. As he set his eyes on the target a body came running out of the woods.
"STOP!" Stacie screamed, utterly horrified by everything she had witnessed. At that moment, Beca pounced.
She dashed across the distance towards Chicago, rifle be damned. He wouldn't get away with threatening Chloe. Her legs moved like lightening and as Chicago was preparing to shoot she leaped into the air and knocked him to the ground, her sharp teeth latching onto the crook between his neck and shoulder.
"Agh!" Chicago screamed, as he felt his skin being punctured and torn.
Chloe run! Take Stacie with you!...
The redhead watched the struggle unfolding between Beca and Chicago, her feet rooted to the spot.
I'm not leaving without you...
Chloe replied, though to Stacie and Aubrey her lips never moved. The wolf looked at her briefly as she wrestled with Chicago.
I'll be right behind you. Go to my house...GO!...
Chloe hesitated for a moment before finally deciding she needed to get Stacie away from it all. Rushing up to her other best friend, she grabbed her by the hand, and with one last look over her shoulder at Beca, she dragged her back down the trail towards Jefferson's Farm.
Stacie yanked at Chloe's hand trying to pull her to a stop but the redhead wouldn't halt her movements.
"Chloe stop! What the hell just happened back there?" She asked but Chloe didn't bother looking at her. Just kept moving.
"We need to go to Beca's. I'll explain everything there not shut up and keep moving."
Wanting to find out what was going on but knowing Chloe wouldn't tell her until they were at Beca's, Stacie groaned as she picked up her pace and followed where she was being brought.
15 minutes later, both girls were pulling into the drive of Beca's house and parking. Chloe climbed out of her car first, followed slowly by Stacie who stuffed her hands into the pocket of her jacket, eyeing her best friend suspiciously.
But Chloe didn't have time for friendly formalities. She simply stride up to the front door, checked that it was unlocked and allowed herself in.
Chloe strode through the house with purpose, however Stacie's movements were more hesitant and cautious, though she marvelled at the luxurious styling of Beca's home.
As they entered into the open space of the living room, Chloe could see the faces of all the wolves she was familiar with but not the one she wanted. She didn't panic though, because she could feel that, in that moment, Beca was at the very least still alive.
Calamity, who had been standing by the fireplace, arms crossed, slowly made her way towards Chloe. Her expression gave nothing away which was unnerving, until suddenly she stopped.
Chloe's brow creased in until she saw a hand being raised towards her and she glanced up at Calamity.
"Thank you," the Australian woman said, and Chloe shook her hand, a sign that the other wolf respected and trusted her.
All eyes suddenly turned towards Stacie who was standing in the background. She removed a hand from her pocket and awkwardly waved.
"Hey," she said, growing slightly nervous by the silence in the room. That was until Luke winked at her and shot a small wave of his own.
"Hey," he replied in a flirtatious manner, earning a slap to the back of the head from Serenity.
A thud could be heard upstairs and and without a word being said, Chloe knew Beca was home. She waited patiently down stairs, knowing her mate would need a moment to change and put clothes on, though the wait was agonising.
A brief moment later, Beca was coming down the stairs, clad in a tank top and sweatpants which revealed many new and noticeable cuts and bruises. Chloe didn't think twice as she dashed across the space between them, wrapping her arms around Beca and crashing their lips together.
Beca melted into the kiss, her arms holding Chloe close for the first time in weeks. This was contentment, this was home. Once the kiss ended Chloe rested her forehead against Beca's and gently stroked her cheek, eliciting a small hiss of pain from the wolf.
"Are you okay?" She asked, voice noticeably thin as the emotions welled up inside. Beca just stroked both of Chloe's arms that were now wrapped around her waist with her hands.
"I am now," she grinned, pecking Chloe on the lips again.
Chloe released her hold on Beca, slipped her hand down into the smaller woman's open palm and laced their fingers together. With one last knowing look and the nod of approval from Beca and Gail, she turned to face Stacie.
"This," she said lifting her and Beca's joined hands, "is my mate. She's a wolf. They all are," Chloe stated gesturing towards everyone else.
Stacie's eyebrows shot to her hairline, mouth bobbing up and down at the information she'd been given as she allowed it to sink in. Then, she raised a finger.
"Okay, I'm gonna need way more information than that."
Beca simply smirked at her and turned to Chloe.
"I'll call Jesse. I think his presence is gonna be needed."
Chloe simply huffed our a chuckle, relieved that she would have at least one more person in the know. She just hoped Stacie took the news well.