We all do things for love that we don’t intend to do. Which is why on a Wednesday morning I was on my way home from seeing that Ben’s mum made it to the airport safely. I returned her car and was waiting to be picked up by Ben. He was late. I checked my phone again for the seventh time in twenty minutes and found no call or text from Ben, I was certain that there something wrong. So I called the Sheriff.
“Ben was supposed to pick me up but hasn’t called. I’m worried. Have you heard from him?”
“No, but I can tell you where he is.” The Sheriff said with a sigh.
“Eric, please. I’m terrified.”
“He was forced in to the change again. He’s currently out of his mind and chained to a rock in the middle of Strauss National Forest.”
My heart dropped and I froze. “No,” I whispered.
“Yes. He was caught outside. Thank the stars that Miles was with him. They were shopping for your ring in Serene Harbor.”
“You know, I never understood why they named that town the way that they did. There’s no harbor anywhere near there.”
“Focus, Marlowe. You’re panicking and it’s making your attention drift.” Eric said with a sharp tone to his voice.
Now that I’d focused back on him, I could feel the panic creep up in to my chest.
“I need to be with him. He’ll calm down for me.”
“We’ve already sent a car. You’re still at the rental place?”
“Yes. I don’t plan on moving.”
“Smart. They’ll be there in ten to pick you up, I sent them over forty minutes ago.”
“Oh good. I’ll be waiting.” I paused for a second. “Oh and Sheriff?”
“The son of a bitch that keeps doing this to us? I’m going to kill him.”
“Her. We now know the person who’s doing this is female and at this point, I just might let you.”
“See you soon.” I said and hung up.
I waited in the lobby of the car rental place until the sheriffs car showed up. Inside was Pete, who I had met at Thanksgiving.
“Hey Pete.” I said as I popped inside the car and settled in. “Miles already knows I’m on my way, so does the Sheriff. Floor it.”
“Nice to see you too, Marlowe.”
I flinched at his dry tone. “Sorry. I’m worried about Ben.”
“He’s okay. Last I saw him he was trying to roast the Mayor, who was shouting that the ‘dangerous creature’ needed to be put down.”
I seethed. “Dangerous creature? He knows very well that’s Ben inside that skin.” I growled out. The force of my anger made the car shimmy on an already slick road.
“Marlowe! Calm down! You’ll make me crash the car!” Pete shouted.
I immediately checked my power and gave Pete a sheepish smile. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay, just watch it. I’m starting to see why they Mayor says the things he says about you, though.”
“Oh? What does the little weasel say?”
“That you can’t control yourself. That you and Ben together are dangerous and that the safety of the community isn’t as sturdy as everyone thinks.” Pete said.
“I can control it, Pete. The Mayor just wants me out-of-town on a rail because he thinks it’ll get his son off the hook.”
“That’s part of it, I think. Seeing what you did now, I’m sure that he’s legitimately concerned that you’re going to kill us all.”
I huffed out a breath. I could see where Pete was coming from, but there was no way I was giving up Ben. Not after everything I’d been through to find a place where I felt at home.
“I’m not leaving, Pete. He can do as he likes, but I’m not leaving.”
Pete sighed. “I really wish you hadn’t said that.”
I was about to ask what he meant by that when suddenly the car veered off the road and sailed off the side of the hill we were currently traveling up. I screamed and immediately reached out with my power to hold up the car. I was not dying because some lackey decided I needed to go. I was going to live, damn it.
Beads of sweat broke out on my forehead. I’d never lifted anything that heavy for that long before. As I maneuvered the car back on to the road, I saw the faces of some of the people passing by. They were in shock to see a flying police car. I would have laughed, because it was kind of funny, but I was too busy trying keep myself alive.
As I set the car down, I heard a click from Pete’s service gun.
“Don’t even think about it.” I said as I reached out with my gift and plucked it from his hands. “You’ve caused more than enough trouble already.”
“P-p-please don’t kill me. I’m only following orders.”
“I’m not going to kill you, but you are going to get in the back seat.” I waited with the gun hovering in midair until Pete had moved himself from the front seat and around to the back. I got out and used my gift to pull the rest of the metal off his person. I dumped everything in the trunk and got into the driver’s side.
“Don’t take me back, She’ll kill me.”
“Then that’s on her, but I’m taking you to the station.” I said.
Pete started crying and I tuned him out. I was pissed and tired and wasn’t sure that I was going to make it back to the station in one piece. I got out my cell phone and called the Sheriff. Pete’s crying from the backseat got louder as I explained what happened.
“I’ll have a deputy that I trust meet you at the station. I’m sorry, Marlowe. I thought he was on our side.”
“You’ll have to explain to me what the hell is going on. I’ve only been gone for three hours, Eric.”
“Yeah and as soon as you crossed the border, shit hit the fan.”
I could hear how tired he was. “What else happened?”
“Every single shifter has changed. Every one. Magic is going haywire and I’m not sure that anything can be done to fix it.”
I thought about it for a second. “I’m coming home. I’ll call you when I get to the station. Take care of my Fiance, Eric. I want him back in one piece.”
“Will do. See you soon.”
I dropped the phone in to my back and started us back to Blueville. I stopped paying attention to Pete’s babbling and crying somewhere around the thirty minute mark. I knew I still had twenty minutes left in this damn car and I was annoyed. I wanted to be there.
I kept my cool though and finished the drive in to town. I didn’t dare go any further than that, because I didn’t know where Ben was. I was shaking with exhaustion by the time the Sheriff met me at the station. Jack and Harry watched over me. I knew I could trust them. They had siblings who were apart of the special side of the community.
“Marlowe! Thank stars.” Eric said when he saw me.
“Thank stars is right. Pete’s in a cell. He forgot to turn off the dash cam. It was all caught on audio.” I said.
Jack and Harry nodded to confirm what I said. The Sheriff looked up at the two hovering over me.
“Go see to it that none of it is erased, then I want to two of you to do a mind by mind search of the whole department. Anyone who’s had anything to do with our mystery woman and the Mayor goes in a cell. I’m done playing his game.”
The two cops nodded and left without a word. I’m pretty sure that the only reason why the orders were issued out loud was because I was here.
“Made your decision, then?”
“I’m on board with taking him down. No one tampers with my department or my town.”
I nodded. “Lets go get Ben. I need him to be steady again.”
The Sheriff helped me up from the chair just as the Mayor stormed in to the station.
“Higgins!” The Sheriff shouted.
“Sir?” Higgins answered.
“See to it that the Mayor has a guard on him at all times while he’s in my station. He’s to go no where alone. Pull in reserves if you have to.”
“Yes, Sir!” Higgins said with a salute and he went to help the Mayor, who was clearly determined to get to the Sheriff. He drew back and his mouth flopped open when he saw that I was still alive. Apparently, no one had told him.
I flashed a smile at the Mayor as Eric escorted me out.
“One of these days, the amount of sass you possess is going to get someone hurt.”
“When that day comes, I’ll sass Death to keep him at bay.”
“That doesn’t even make any sense.”
“I know. Now let’s go get Ben.”
The Sheriff stared at me as I climbed in to his four by four and then shook his head and climbed in after me. He took me out to Ben and I was not prepared for what I saw. My proud dragon was chained to the side of a mountain, shivering and curled up against the cold. I waiting until the Sheriff pulled to a stop and I shoved my way out of the truck and ran for Ben, shouting his name.
His head picked up and he roared, breathing fire at anyone who tried to stop me from reaching him. As soon as I got close he picked me up and tucked me in to my usual spot. He was ice-cold to the touch and I shouted for more blankets as I rubbed his nose. Ben paid no attention to anyone who came close now. He was too busy rumbling at me. While I rubbed his nose and kept him calm, I checked out the shackles that were around his neck and limbs. There were no holes where a key would go.
“Sheriff!” I shouted. I waited till her came closer and then told him. “These are not normal. They’re magical. There’s no lock holes.”
“We figured that when they appeared out of no where and chained him to that rock.” He said. “Is there anything that you can do?”
I reached out and touched them with my fingers and got a nasty shock. I yelped and rubbed my hand.
“No. They’re warded.”
The Sheriff swore. “I’ll get someone out here to help.”
“You have to hurry, he’s not going to make it out of here if he’s chained here much longer.” I said.
The entire dragon shuddered and Ben keened lowly.
“More blankets. He needs more blankets and try building a fire.” I shouted.
It was going to be a long night.