Eira had feared the moment this would happen to her.
Ever since she had witnessed how her sister-in-law had suffered her mate’s – Eira’s brother – dead, the vixen had sworn to herself that she never would allow something similar to happen to her.
So, when she had found her own mate, Eira had tried her hardest to stay away from him.
But the sweet and loveable dragon-shifter had been too hard to resist and in the end she had given in to him. And for a while everything had been good.
But then her worst fear had come true. She had lost him.
Killing a dragon was not an easy task, yet it ‘only’ had needed a heavy downpour of rain, a failing break and a metal pole piercing straight through his heart to rip him away from her side.
It hadn’t passed a day on which she hadn’t suffered since that horrible accident.
Wherever Eira went something reminded her of her beloved dragon and it didn’t help either when she decided to move back into her old apartment which she had previously shared with her best friend Reul.
It didn’t last long, though, before she moved back to the big mansion where the rest of her ‘pack’ still lived and suffered from their friend’s loss as well.
But they recovered at some point or another, while she didn’t.
Understandable, after all she had been his mate, picked by destiny for him and vice versa.
Eira tried her best to hide her constant heartbreak from her friends and obviously it worked.
The only exception was Ben, the wolf-shifter. He was the only one she couldn’t fool with her stoic mask of ‘Being okay again’.
Yet, he also was the only one who understood her grief. He had seen his own fair share of losses and he was her best male friend. And this was probably the reason why he approached her on one day and shoved a map into her hand.
“I’ve marked a safe spot on the map. Call me whenever you need someone to talk to”, he had mumbled out when she had glanced at him questioningly. “Take it or leave it, your choice.”
Those words were all he needed to convince the sad woman. Neither of them was good with showing emotions but for once they made an exception.
If an awkward hug and a mumbled ‘Thank you’ could count as an exception, of course.
After this encounter Eira had left the house and after a short glance at the map had shifted into her vixen-form.
She hadn’t looked back when she had dashed away to take some time away from everything and to clear her mind again.
There was only one thing she held her focus on; the safe spot Ben had given out to her: Forks, Washington.
This had happened several weeks ago, yet Eira still refused to leave her vixen-form.
The blue-eyed woman was known for her reservedness and for avoiding contact to others at all costs, so it was only natural for her to keep her distance to the residents of Forks and the La Push reservation.
Instead she wandered through the woods and enjoyed her solitude. Mostly.
A small snort escaped her snout when she remembered her first encounter with some golden-eyed vampires which had tried to snack on her.
The blonde one had caught her after a long hunt, yet he hadn’t ended her miserable life. He had stared into her blue eyes in wonder and with something like sympathy, before he had set her back down on the ground.
He even had apologised to her before he had left her alone again. She hadn’t been chased by him or any other vampire afterwards again…
And she had seen other things. Wolves. Big like horses. Obviously, shape-shifters like Ben.
At first there had only been two of them, then three, four… The pack was growing rather rapidly as it seemed, but it didn’t worry her enough to make her shift back and call her best friend.
She kept her distance to them and minded her own business. Which was the reason why she had never seen them all together or out of their forms either.
Wandering around calmed her broken heart at least enough that Eira could find some joy in observing those big wolves and the golden-eyed vampire coven.
It was obvious to her that they didn’t like each other and that they enjoyed provoking each other at every given opportunity.
And whenever they had their little encounters the small blue-eyed vixen was somewhere near – either hidden or visible for them – to watch them bicker.
And on ‘good’ days she even barked and yipped to cheer on one of the opponents, her ‘favourites’ more often than the others. The blonde-haired vampire, Jasper, clearly one of them.
But that was the only ‘contact’ she held with them.
Or rather it had been this way until that one fateful day when she had found out that the human girl, the mate to one of the vampires, was in danger.
It had been by sheer coincidence that the vixen had bumped into yet another encounter between the wolves and the vampires.
By now she was used to see them randomly around the woods but this time they had acted different. Sure, they were baring their teeth at each other and some even snarled or growled, but besides that they held an almost decent conversation.
And that was what spiked her curiosity.
Neither of them complained about the vixen trotting over to the unusual gathering due to them being used to her appearing out of the blue. And only one of them noticed how turmoiled her emotions grew the longer she listened in on them talking about a certain red-haired female vampire and her plans to kill the human girl.
Truth be told, Eira wasn’t the biggest fan of vampires. Had never been and would never be.
Their sweet scent was sickening for her poor sensitive nose and that meant something given that she used to lived with a sugar-addicted woman! But she knew first-hand how it felt to lose your destined mate, the pain still cursing through her currently small body.
It didn’t take Eira long to decide that she would help them.
She would hunt down this threat till the ends of the earth if it would be necessary; she didn’t care if she could die during her attempt to keep the girl save.
Determination spread through her body and mind; there was no hesitation when she let out a dark growl and a bark before she rushed away into the woods again.
Heck, she didn’t even care that she had startled the wolves and the vampires or that the blonde vampire tried to explain to them why he looked so troubled at all.
Over the course of several weeks Eira had hunted after this red-haired bloodsucker and by now she could say two things.
Firstly, that woman was faster than she was, which was no surprise given their difference in height.
Secondly, that woman enjoyed riling up the wolves and the residing vampire coven. And unbeknownst by her the vixen, too.
Grumbling under her breath Eira was forced to let go of her latest trace and to return to what she had established to be her starting point.
Little did she know that the small stream also acted as the invisible treaty line between the wolves and the vampires. But even if she would have known, she couldn’t have cared less about their constant bickers. She was a vixen on a mission!
Hopping over a fallen tree she gave off an unhappy snort which quickly was replaced by a surprised yip when enormous paws smacked her over and send her tumbling snout first into the dirt. How rude!
Eira was clearly tempted to bite the wolf’s ankles for this audacity but something made her stop.
There was something in the air that caught her attention, the whiff of a scent she had been chasing for weeks now… The red-head!
Without hesitating any longer the small ball of red fur started to chase after the scent.
There was no chance that she could possibly pass the wolves or the golden-eyed vampires which had joined the hunt, but she could use her smaller size to her advantage. Eira had spend enough time in this woods for her to know how she could catch up to those in front of her. And that was exactly what the vixen did.
As fast as her little paws could carry her she hurried along those small paths the bigger wolves couldn’t take. Every so often did she glance to the pack and when they had moved like she needed them to the vixen pushed herself even further.
In a blur the small red body shot out of the greenery, jumped, and luckily landed on the broad back of the dark silver furred wolf she had aimed for.
The bigger animal didn’t even notice her presence which she was grateful for – they had no time to discuss her ‘using’ him as her private lift!
Thankfully, he was faster than she could ever be in this form, so it didn’t take her long until she could locate the vampire she had been hoping for to see. The burly male was running on the other side of the stream. Perfect!
Eira had never been a warrior, mind you, at least not in her vixen-form.
Yet, back home, she had spent a lot of time with her ‘pack’ killing time by ‘fighting’ each other. They had taught her more tricks than she could count – and which now would come in handy for this unusual allies.
Yipping at the dark-haired vampire finally caught his and one of his brother’s attention long enough that Eira could at least try to make herself clear to them.
Repeatedly she yipped at the burly vampire, then stared straight ahead to the fleeing female vampire, then back at him while she moved her front paw.
Easy to get, right? Especially when the other vampire stared at her in wonder and piped up: “Paul! Get closer to the treaty line! Emmett, ready yourself!”
While the vampire shrugged but complied his brother’s words, the wolf remained unfazed by them.
At least he did until the impatient ball of red fur bit his ear and pulled.
It was a natural reaction to move one’s head in the same direction as whatever was pulling at them, so this Paul had no other chance than to change his path. Albeit he did it under loud protest, of course.
“She says you should stop acting like a freshly born puppy and bring her closer!” The bronze-haired vampire’s shout didn’t help the vixen’s case much since she had taken care of this little detail by herself.
The second when the wolf’s big paw splashed into the fresh water she let go of his ear, readied herself and pushed of his broad back when this Emmett was nearing their height.
“Gotcha, little fella!” The rather abrupt stopping of her little flight elicited a small yip to leave her snout, yet they had no time for such things like aching bones.
Yet, she still took the time to glance back to the wolf on the other side. He was glaring at them which caused herself to roll her eyes.
With another bark she tried to tell the burly vampire to throw her towards the fleeing vampire in front of them, but his brother shook his head, clearly refusing to translate her wishes.
“No way! I won’t tell him to throw you…” Eira visibly enjoyed the sour expression that showed on the vampire’s face when he had unintentionally passed her request.
“Throw? Sure! Here ya go!” Careful as not to hurt her Emmett changed his grip on her, lifted her, and the next thing she knew was that the world had turned into a blur.
A triumphant bark left her snout when she collided against the back of the red-haired vampire’s head and could start her assaults on this threat to the human girl’s life.
She bit, she clawed, but only when she peed in the vampire’s face did her victim stop her run.
At least her last action elicited some laughs from the golden-eyed vampires while the wolves snorted – probably in amusement. And how couldn’t they, huh?
It was hard for them to differ between the mixed types of red which were battling in front of them.
Their vixen friend gave the bloodsucker a hard time, biting and clawing at her face and neck and by the looks of it was also undoubtfully successful in ripping her hair out.
But the small animal could only do so much until Victoria ripped it off her head and gave it a nasty punch which send it rolling away until it stopped lying on the ground in a daze.
Everybody froze at the nasty sounds of the vixen’s small bones cracking and her stuttering breathing before rage took over again. But it was too late.
Their hesitation had allowed the red-head to flee the scenery and by now she was too far gone for them to catch up with her again.
Neither of them liked that they had to admit defeat – at least for now – but they all understood that there was something else to do right now, something more important.
Eira didn’t care that two of the golden-eyed vampires described what they felt and heard from her; the vixen was to occupied with what was raging through her body.
Pain pulsated through every fibre of her being, harsh waves that made her mind stumble over itself.
She could smell her own blood, mingling with the earthy scent of the soil she was lying on, and she could feel her body tremble when the adrenaline rush faded away.
Her sight was blurry and there was white noise torturing her ears.
Was this how she would find her end? She could only hope that her mate hadn’t felt the same way when he…
A small whimper left her when she thought about him. She would see him again, soon if she weren’t mistaken. She felt ready for it, she had longed for this moment!
But something disturbed her; something interfered with her last journey. A snout was poking her head, softly, almost cautiously as not to hurt her even more then she already was. A big snout, much bigger than her own.
And the vixen could only think of one person who would even dare to do something like this to her.
Eira struggled with herself to open her eyes and to glare at her best friend.
He of all people should know that she wanted to leave, that there was nothing that held her here anymore.
But when she finally looked into the eyes of the wolf nudging her she recognised her mistake. It wasn’t Ben.
The wolf-shifter wasn’t here and tried to stop her or maybe even to say his last goodbye to her.
It was one of the younger wolves of this other pack who tried to sooth her despite his worried whimpers, while the wolf with the dark silver fur stood beside him and growled lowly in his throat.
At least they had done this until the vixen had opened her eyes and they found themselves confronted with those blue eyes of hers.
Neither of the wolves knew a word to describe this colour but both stared at her in awe and with their own eyes glazing over while they did so.
She had no idea what was happening to them, Ben never had told her about such a kind of thing, but she knew that they wouldn’t allow her to die in peace.
It was evident enough by the way they scooted closer to her crushed form and how they growled threateningly at the bronze-haired vampire when he tried to tell them that she wanted to go.
Much to everybody’s surprise the injured vixen managed to lift herself onto her own paws, swaying and whimpering before she caught her footing and lifted her head towards them.
They didn’t need the blonde vampire’s help to understand that their small friend had shut them out and tried to drive them away when she bared her teeth at them.
She wanted to be left alone! Yet, those two wolves in front of her tried to reach her despite her obvious warnings and earned themselves two quick and painful bites into their sensitive noses.
One last warning sound left Eira’s snout before she hobbled her way into the woods.
She had no idea how far she had gotten before the pain became too much and her small body refused to endure it any longer.
She needed to leave, yet it would take her forever if she would stay like she was.
So, despite not wanting to do it, Eira shifted back into her human form, dragged some of the many clothes hidden in the woods from their hiding spot and onto her body, before she continued her escape from those obtrusive wolves.
Shifting back had hurt like hell, but it had been necessary. It didn’t matter in which form she would die – if she would do it at all.
So, Eira forced herself to keep moving, one step after another, every single one of them taking her further away from where she had started.
Using one of her usual routes through the woods, she found herself finally at the outskirts of the reservation.
Far away from good medical care… Far away from everything else… And small enough to endure visiting a ‘town’ again.
But maybe, with a little luck on her side, she would never have to do such a thing again.
That thought caused the corner of her mouth to twitch ever so slightly before she limped her way forwards.
Out of the woods, forwards to a place with humans.
For one more time…
For the last time like she hoped…