The dream was inescapable. While awake, when memories assaulted him, Jacob could try to fight back.
Asleep, his mind had free run.
But the dream wasn’t all his imagination. The slaughter of his pack, the skinning of some of the members, the alpha’s head held high by a man with golden blond hair peeking out from under his mask…those were memories, truths he saw over and over again.
He wanted to wake up, and he did, gasping, chest aching with a combination of fear and terror.
“Jacob, I’m right here.”
Jacob shook his head, unable to grasp that he wasn’t back there, the smell of blood, guts, death, so thick in the air.
He heard his name repeated, and then there were strong arms holding him close to a broad chest, warmth and affection in that hold, familiarity in the voice calling his name. The horrid scents from the nightmare were slowly replaced with ones that comforted him—sex, comfort, Cali.
“You’re safe,” Cali murmured, “I promise. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
Jacob shuddered. The nightmare/memory was still there in his brain, the details vivid. Usually, it slipped away after he woke up. He remembered parts of it, but this time, his mind had decided he wouldn’t be allowed to hide from what had happened, not at all.
“I know,” Jacob managed to say. “Thank you.” He nestled closer to Cali, wishing he could stay there, safe in Cali’s arms, forever. “I saw it—the massacre of my pack.”
“Yes, and I’m so sorry.” Cali turned on the bedside lamp.
Jacob blinked away golden dots as his vision adjusted. “I mean I saw it all, and I remember. I remember it.” He looked up at Cali, then forced himself to pull back and sit up. But he needed to touch Cali and kept hold of his hands. “They found me, those men.”
Cali stiffened. “What do you mean? Here?”
Jacob swallowed down a ball of bitterness and anger. “Maybe, but they found me there, when they killed my pack. And Cali, they did kill shifted people, too. That’s the truth. Some of the pack members shifted, had their children—” Oh god! Jacob shuddered and bile threatened to shut off his words. “Had the children shift. Those men, they…they…th-they just k-killed them anyway. S-slaughtered them.”
“No.” Cali’s eyes gleamed with tears. “I believe you. I do. I didn’t mean—”
Jacob got it. Cali meant no, the horror of murdering children was unimaginable to good people. And for human men to, without hesitation, slaughter children that werehuman, too, as well as wolf, it was beyond most people’s comprehension.
Jacob had to take a few deep breaths before he could continue, and even then, his voice was as broken as his heart. “No mercy. There were six men, all dressed in black, just like those two that showed up here tonight. I bet they were scouting this area out. There’ll be more of them, and they won’t care who or what we are.”
Cali ground his teeth, his jaw popping as he freed one hand to swipe at the tears on his cheek. “Let them come. I’ll tear them apart.”
“They have weapons that I’ve never heard of before,” Jacob said. “But I wasn’t around humans, always with pack.”
“What kind of weapons?” Cali took hold of his hand again.
“Small things they threw that stunned with a sound. Those made several of the pack members stumble and disoriented them. Things that shocked and knives to skin with, the guns and darts that did…did something,” Jacob rushed out. He bit his bottom lip. “They found me. They did something to me.”
Cali tensed. “What did they do?”
Jacob shook his head. “I don’t know. The dart, that’s what they used on me. The man—the one in charge. He had almost white hair. He killed the alpha and skinned him, held up his head.” Jacob couldn’t keep back a sob. Every word he spoke brought forth the image it portrayed, and the memories were all so raw. Would always be raw.
“He let me live because he’s using me,” Jacob whispered. “Oh god, he’s using me to find other shifters!”
“How would he know to do that?” Cali tugged his hands free and framed Jacob’s face with them. “Jacob, honey, he couldn’t have known you’d—”
“The dart.” Jacob shook his head slightly, not wanting to free himself of Cali’s touch. He looked Cali in the eyes. “The dart had something in it. That’s the hazy part. I can hear him telling me what I was going to do. Why he picked me. Because I was weak, and outcast from the pack. I would be desperate, and he…”
The blurry memory sharpened. Jacob cringed and pulled away from Cali, all but scrambling off the bed. Now he couldn’t look at Cali, couldn’t bear to be seen. “He told me to come here. He told me. He told me and I did and it’s my fault he’s found you!”
And it would be his fault that Cali, and the shifters seeking refuge, would all be slaughtered.