Chapter 33: The Escape

The snow had only gotten deeper the last couple days, making it harder to maneuver through the powder. I staggered forward and fell into my side. If I could make it through the clearing, it shouldn't be as deep in the trees. At least, I hoped.

I was dripping in sweat, and the cold was quick to blow through my fur. I was close. I just had to make it up the mountain. Climbing onto four legs, I pushed on. The sun would be coming up soon, it was only a matter of time before Jet found out I was gone. I glanced back across the valley. I was barely high enough to see over the treetops. It seemed a lot closer compared to when I made this journey before.

I took a step, and my back leg sunk. Cursing under my breath, I changed to my werewolf and army crawled out. This was ridiculous.

A howl rang through the mountains. My ears perked up. That didn't belong to Northern Ridge.

Jet was awake.

My adrenaline shot to maximum, and I stumbled across the clearing, tripping and crawling through the snow. I had to make it home, and I hoped Darius was waiting.

Making it to the trees, I dropped to all fours and ran. I felt like the faster I went, the less likely I'd have time to sink. Whether it was true or not, I forced myself to speed up. If they caught me, Titus would die. Jet would never even give me the possibility to escape again.

I leaped up through the rocks of the last incline and skidded across the top of the mountain. I was heaving for air and each breath burned my lungs. The howls grew louder. I couldn't tell how close they were because of the echo.

Scanning the area, I didn't see Darius. I don't know if I could make it back to Northern Ridge without them catching me if I didn't have his help.

With my legs shaking, I stood. I tried, though. I give it everything I had to get there.

Darting down the hillside, I followed the path Darius had taken me on over a week ago. My paws kicked up a cloud of powder behind me. The howls never stopped ringing in my ears. Darius promised if I could make it passed the border he'd be there. I'd just have to trust him to keep up his end.

***

They were getting closer. My legs were moving as fast as they would go, but I didn't think I could keep it up.

A flash raced by, startling me enough to make me lose my footing. My feet twisted around each other, and I toppled into the snow. I forced myself up onto my knees, feeling physically drained. A large form walked through the trees. I couldn't outrun him no matter how hard I tried it wasn't enough.

Bowing my head, I waited.

"Aden?"

My head snapped up, and I felt like crying when I saw the red werewolf. "Darius." I clambered to feet and stumbled over to him.

He hugged me. "You did it."

"Yeah." I wiped my face. "Titus, is he?"

Darius smiled. "He still alive."

A howl sounded from nearby.

"And let's keep him that way." Grabbed my wrist, he led me into the trees. "Do you know the way back?"

"Yes."

"Good." He swung me around. "Then run, Aden. Get to the cave. I'll hold them off."

Nodding, I jogged backwards. "Be careful."

He scoffed at the comment. "Don't worry about me. I'm not as delicate as my brother." He gave me that obnoxious grin.

"Let's hope," I whispered, before hurrying off into the forest.

Darius's howl rang out over the territory. More werewolves raced by me. I had a new boost of power, because I was going to make it home. Me, the sub everyone thought was an oblivious hot head, I did it. By myself. Well, maybe with a little help from Darius.

The opening of the cave peeked through the trees. I leaped over a log and skidded across the ground. Rolling onto my back, I closed my eyes and focused on breathing. For once, one of my stupid spur of the moment ideas worked.

"Aden!" yelled Xavier.

I sat up.

The alpha helped me to my feet. "What were you thinking?" he said sharply. "Running off to Bloodhound, they could have killed you or trapped there. I might not have been able to get you back."

Smiling, I collapsed against the werewolf and hugged him. "I'm happy to be home too."

He put his arms around me. "Your mother would have killed me. You know that, right?"

I nodded. "I'm okay if we don't tell her about this." I stood back, on shaky legs.

Xavier kept a hold on my arm.

"I did it, though." I touched Jet's mark. "I have it. I have Jet's enzyme. We can cure Titus."

Xavier looked ready to cry as he hugged me again. "I was against Titus's mating with you at first, but you really are the best thing that ever happened to him." He patted my head between my ears. "Come on. We better let the medical team have a look at you."

He led me inside to my room. A woman in medical clothes led me to the armchair. Titus's heart was still beating on the monitor. Closing my eyes, I enjoyed the sound of it.

"Shift for me." She handed me a blanket.

I lazily strung it over my lap and did so. I was too tired to care for once.

The woman slipped a needle under my skin right by Jet's mark. Blood ran through the tube into a bag. The adrenaline was wearing off, and the fatigue was starting to kick in. I had to keep shaking my head to stop from falling asleep. I needed to be sure Titus would be okay.

Rose appeared and hurried past her mate. "Aden." She carefully hugged me as to not touch the needle. "You are in so much trouble."

"I had to do."

She patted my cheek. "I guess so. It was very brave."

"For a sub?" I laughed.

"For any werewolf." She flicked my chin. "You be sure to remind Titus of that once he's better."

"Plan on it." I licked my lips.

"Do you need a drink?"

I nodded. "Yeah. I've never ran that far in my life. I hated p.e. in school when they made us go around the track."

"I'll get you something." She hugged her mate on her way out the door.

The nurse took out the needle and had me hold a gauze pad to my shoulder. She took the bag to a machine and hooked the tube up to it. I watched the blood run into it as the machine started to hum. On the other side, a clear liquid dripped into a small tube.

"Is it enough?" I asked.

The nurse nodded. "It's plenty."

Relief flooded my whole body, and I sunk into the chair. Rose returned and handed me a water bottle. I finished it in one go. Luckily, she had brought plenty of others. I started on a second and downed half of it before feeling better. The nurse placed a long needle into the vial that held the enzyme. Filling it, she handed it to the doctor before doing a second one.

I slid off the couch and crawled over to the bed. Kneeling by Titus's side, I grabbed his hand. I closed my eyes when the first needle slipped into my mate's body. Titus exhaled sharply, but I kept them shut until they did the other side.

"Is he going to be okay now?" I peered around at the medical team.

The nurse put the rest of the enzyme into Titus's IV.

"See for yourself," said the doctor, pointing at a monitor. "His breathing rate is already showing signs of improvement." He smiled at me. "Your mate will be fine."

The tears started to flow. "Thank god." I laid down at his side and covered my mouth.

He was going to be okay. I laid my arm over his chest and kissed his cheek. I had never been so relieved.

***

Titus's moving woke me up in the middle of the night. I could tell he was smiling even with the oxygen mask. Overwhelmed, I removed it kissed him hard.

He laughed, though it still sounded a little hoarse.

"I was so worried about you." I placed little kisses all over his face.

"I'm fine," he said in a gravely voice. "I'm feeling a lot better."

"Don't speak." I pressed my finger to his lips. "Your lungs had an infection. You need to let them heal."

Titus pulled me closer and pressed his lips to my ear. "I'll be okay. Just relax."

"I can't," I exclaimed. "I thought you were going to die." I clasped his cheek.

He shook his head and brushed away any of my tears that escaped. "Aden?" A confused expression appeared on his face as his hand went to my left shoulder.

I jerked back and clasped my spot. The guilt came quickly. I climbed out of bed and walked to the corner of the room with my back to him.

"Aden?" He slowly sat up. "What is that?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

I ran from the room and headed for the tunnels deep in the cave. My feet brought me to River's secret hideout. Dropping to the ground, I army crawled through. A couple old blankets and a foam pad had been left behind. I curled up on them.

My chest was tight. My eyes were burning. I know I did it to save my mate, but it hurt too much to tell him I slept with another man. And even worse, I let him mark me.