7/23/17

Chapter 10

Maddy had parted ways with her friends hours ago. For awhile she wondered the town, walking down nearly every street in town. Eventually, she found herself at a local burger joint. Her stomach growling obnoxiously, she realized shade hadn't eaten since breakfast. Trying to desperately evade exposure of your deepest secret, typically keeps your mind pre-occupied. Maddy leisurely ate, watching the cars rumble through the area. She gave nods of acknowledgement to some teammates that passed by. Before long she heard the familiar hollow sound that drinking the last sips of soda create, deciding that was her cue to return home, she tossed her trash away and slipped through the glass double doors. The brisk weather was refreshing, it was the closest to spring the town had experienced since she arrived in Tall Skies. The young Wolfblood strolled home, wishing that she had her friends with her for support. She had been avoiding going home; a place where she would be prosecuted by her parents for breaking the cardinal rule: do not tell others about Wolfbloods. A rule she continued to break, time and time again.

Maddy opened the front door to a quiet living room. A small table light glowed in a friendly reception of her coming home. Maddy could hear the small tinkering of dishes being moved in the kitchen. Maddy stepped cautiously into the kitchenette to see her parents drinking tea and having some cookies. The remarkable part was her father's cookies were untouched, just sitting precariously on the small plate. Maddy could not recall a time when her father refrained himself from quickly devouring their routine dessert: some butter cookies and tea. "Mom . . . Dad . . . what's wrong?" she asked.

-Wolfblood-

Maddy sat in the wood dining chair, numb. Somewhere in the background she could hear a small table clock chime midnight. She wasn't sure how long she had been sitting, but it felt like only seconds. Maddy traced the exposed dark knot in the wood table with her finger. "So, what does this mean for me?"

"Uh . . . we're not sure, Maddy." Dan rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands. He rested his head in his one hand and looked at his wife.

"Mahkah wants to meet with you to know for sure," Emma answered emptily. She picked up the small silver teaspoon and stirred it in her cooling tea.

"I don't get it. I . . . What is a True Wolf?" Maddy hadn't had an opportunity to tell her parents that two more people knew of their secret. Trying to swallow the bombshell news her parents had laid on her derails her entire plans. Emma and Dan were still trying to process the big news. "How do they know?" Maddy stood, feeling light-headed, she braced herself against table. Even though she had just finished off a double patty burger and large fries, her stomach felt empty again. "I think I'm going to go to bed. I have school tomorrow."

"Maddy," her mother called, gently reaching for her hand. "How did you get out of school today? Are you in any trouble? Do you need a note?" Maddy needed sleep more than anything else. She also needed some time to process all that just had happened. Could she really be a True Wolf? She shook her head and continued down the hall. As she opened her bedroom door and kicked her sneakers off. She crawled into her bed and laid her head on her awaiting pillow. Just before drifting off to sleep, she thought about the fog-laden woods and swinging from a rope tied to a sturdy tree branch with her friends, not a care in the world.

-Wolfblood-

Maddy woke up and was surprised to find it nearly ten o'clock in the morning according to her alarm clock. Maddy rolled over and grabbed her phone off her nightstand. She pressed the menu key and discovered that is was Thursday. She covered her eyes as she sat up. The light streaming into her room was blinding, almost nauseating. Maddy took notice to the stillness of her room, it was the same stillness the morning after Rhydian had decided to leave . . . the same stillness the morning after she had to leave. She learned this deafening stillness meant something bad. Maddy scooted to the edge of her bed and eased herself to the floor. She stumbled to the door before gaining her footing.

Maddy carefully walked to the kitchen where her parents sat. She was relieved to find them home, sitting at the dining table, eating breakfast. "Hey, my cub. How are you?" her mother asked.

Maddy sauntered over to the dining table, and plopped into the seat between her parents. She breathed noisily as she let the morning and the night's events sift in her mind. "So, what now?" The light filtered between the small slats of their blinds. It was a softer light, and seemed to just fall into the room instead of forcing itself in as it had in days past. Maddy looked at both her parents, waiting for an answer.

Dan finally broke the silence. "We aren't sure. Until yesterday, True Wolves were legends. They were stories told to Cubs by parents as a way of teaching tolerance, or at least I thought so." Dan stood abruptly. "Let me make you some breakfast. How about sausage and eggs?" Maddy nodded, looking down at her fingers briefly.

"We think it would be best if we all visited Mahkah and the Wild Wolfbloods up at Elk Ridge to really understand what is going on. I'm sure there are tests for them to perform that can determine if you are really a True Wolf. He mentioned a blue moon, did – did you feel or notice anything months ago?" Emma touched her daughter's hand reassuringly. Maddy silence and looking away was enough confirmation for Emma.

"Dad, what were the stories you were told?" Dan was cracking two eggs into a cast iron frying pan, the sizzle of of the egg whites bubbling as it hit the heated butter. Dan finished the breakfast and slid everything into a large plate. He grabbed the glass of milk waiting on the counter and brought everything to the youngest Smith. Maddy hesitated to eat, but caved-in at the smell of freshly cooked links. Maddy began eating, Emma sipping at her tea, as Dan settled back into his seat, wiping the remnants of egg and grease from his hands with the dish towel.

"True Wolves were supposed to be Wolfbloods that were not only great leaders but had special abilities unlike the typical Wolfblood. They were revered for these abilities, one of them to bring together not only Wolfblood clans, but also humans. My grandfather used to tell of wars and battles fought at the leadership of True Wolves."

"Well . . . what happened to them?" Maddy asked, scooping some pieces of egg onto her fork. Dan cleared his throat, he peered at Emma and then back at his daughter.

"How's the breakfast?" he asked.

"Good, so . . . what happened to the True Wolves? Why haven't I heard of them before?" Maddy had stopped eating and looked at her parents expectantly. The uneasy feeling in her stomach growing.

"You should finish eating?" Emma reminded, pointing at the plate that was half-eaten. "You don't want to let it get cold." She smiled as if it were an average morning. Emma pulled at her blue cashmere sweater, closing it tighter around her.

"Why won't you answer my questions?!" Maddy felt like crying. Her parents were dodging her questions like they didn't matter.

"I'm not sure. I mean . . . they're stories . . . or so I thought," Dan answered, exasperated.

"So, how do I . . . How come I'm . . ." Maddy couldn't wrap her mind around it. She sheltered her eyes from them.

"We don't know. It could be genetics, luck of the draw - we just don't know. We're sorry, my Cub. It may not even be true, so try to not think to hard on it." As motherly and assuringly as Emma's words sounded, they could not quell the little voice in Maddy's head that sang and danced and told her that she was not the predator after all, but the prey. The victim of bad fortune.

-Wolfblood-

With her parents' permission, Maddy left the house and went for a run in the woods. She didn't want to be bothered so she stayed away from Elk Ridge, though, after her last meeting with Mahkah, Davin could be tracking her at that very moment. Maddy trotted to a stop and rested at the same boulder she had been sitting on the day before. It was becoming a favorite spot of hers. It was where she was discovered by her friends.

-Wolfblood-

"So, what happens now?" Robert asked. He was leaning on the same boulder Maddy was sitting on. The sea green skull cap couldn't capture all his long tresses, pieces falling into his eyes.

"I guess I have to see Mahkah and find out if it's true or not." Maddy and her friends sat in silence at the uncertainty of her words.

"That's heavy, girl." Miranda huffed then lit up like someone just announced she won the lottery. "We need go out and have some fun. Get away from all this." She was gesticulating wildly, enthused with her own plan. Surprisingly, Ling agreed.

"I would, but I don't know if my parents will agree. I still haven't told them you guys know about our secret. It kind of took a backseat to everything, after, you know . . . plus, it's technically my birthday this weekend even though our records say otherwise."

"That's perfect!" Miranda declared. "We'll take you out and celebrate!" Miranda put her fist out, looking for the others to fist-bump with matched excitement. Robert jumped on the band wagon first.

"We'll go snow tubing up at my parent's resort. It'll be a blast!"

"I don't know." Maddy rubbed her legs to get feeling back in them. She looked away, up towards the mountains then back at her friends.

"Come on, I'll drive," Miranda continued. Each person gave her a credulous look. "My old girl grumbles, but she has never failed me."

"I'm more worried about the person driving than the vehicle chosen as transportation," Ling muttered receiving laughter from Robert and Maddy.

"Okay, okay. My birthday lands on a Sunday, so it shouldn't be a big deal if we go out on Saturday." Maddy slid off the rock, feeling better about everything happening. It almost felt like the old days. Her, Shannon, Tom, and Rhydian hanging out and just being friends.

-Wolfblood-

Friday seemed to drag on, but forcing to serve in-school suspension had the power of stretching time, turning seconds to minutes, and minutes to hours. Saturday couldn't come fast enough for the young Wolfblood.

The next morning, the group met outside the local diner where Ling treated the group to a nice breakfast. It was through the munching of eggs, bacon, and stacks of pancakes that Miranda told them her truck had fallen "ill" - as she called it - and she couldn't drive them as originally expected. Luckily, Robert had recently passed his driver's test and was able to get them to the resort. Maddy accepted Miranda's not so discreet offer of the front seat, next to Robert. Miranda evidently didn't see issues with the cross species mingling. Robert parked his black SUV in a reserved parking space typically used by his parents, and rested the car. All four hopped out, excited to go snow tubing. Maddy had been looking forward to just turning her brain off and have fun with her friends.

"Everyone wait!" Miranda waved the trio: Maddy, Robert, and Ling back to the vehicle. She handed Maddy a small jewelry box with a red ribbon wrapped around it. Maddy looked at Robert and Ling and then untied the bow. She opened the white box and was enamored by the gesture. Inside the box was a necklace. The necklace had wood round pendant hanging from a leather strand. The wood circular pendant had a paw print burned into the center and some mountain peaks in the background. The wood pendant had a little bit of weight to it, more than she would have thought, but she was still awed by the thoughtfulness.

"This is beautiful. Did you make this?" Maddy pulled the necklace out and placed her head through the loop.

"No, my cousin is the craftsmen, but I told her what I wanted on it." Miranda blushed. She then pulled out two more from her side pocket of her pants. She presented them to Ling and Robert. Theirs looked slightly different with a hand and a paw print imprinted on the palm. "So, I thought we could all wear one, like a tribe-kind-of-pack-thing." Miranda unzipped her coat halfway and showed she was wearing one to match Ling's and Robert's. "Ling explained that each Wolfblood belonged to a pack and you had to leave yours. So, I figured that we could be your pack, and so I made yours different so you could be alpha, you know." Her voice grew soft, like she was unsure of what she was saying or afraid of how Maddy would feel about the idea.

Maddy was immensely touched by the amount of time, thought, and care Miranda had put into the gift. "I will always treasure this gift. Thank you."

"But you have to wear it. We all do. Like a secret that when we wear it, we know what it means but no one else does. And then when things go bad, kind like what's goin' on now, we'll be reminded that were a pack . . . stronger together like superheroes," Miranda instructed.

"Actually, thats not - " Ling began to correct.

"Sounds awesome," Maddy cut-in. She gave Ling a look that said 'let it go.' Miranda have missed the finer details of pack life and how they worked, but her heart was in the right place. Ling huffed, placing her necklace around her neck as a way of placating Maddy. Even though Ling was looking annoyed with Miranda's lack of understanding, she couldn't help smiling as she inspected the pendant in detail.

"Ready, Alpha?" Robert asked, smiling. He looked down at his necklace that hung around his hunter green flannel. He zipped up his ski coat and looked at Maddy, who nodded. With everyone ready to go, he led them to the resort entrance where Robert took over with arranging them tickets and locker keys.

-Wolfblood –

After a few hours of snow tubing, the gang decided on lunch. Robert suggested a small café on the second floor of the resort. The girls followed the young man and they chose a table near the wall of windows overlooking the mountainous scenery. "Hey, have you ever been on a snowmobile?" Robert asked the group, with a mischievous look in his eye.

-Wolfblood-

It wasn't long before they finished their meal and Robert coordinated with the staff the renting of two snowmobiles. "Must be nice to drop daddy's name and the world bows down," Miranda teased.

Roberts face soured for a moment before returning to playful smile. He let her comment fall to the wayside and began giving them a quick tutorial for driving a snowmobile. Watching Miranda rev the engine in childlike joy, drove Ling to question their decision to let her drive. Robert showed Maddy to her chariot, which they would share. "Hope you don't mind if drive, first. I want to guide you all to a nice spot. It'll be easier if I lead." Maddy shook her head that she had no problem with him taking the helm. "Just tap me on the shoulder if Ling falls off or Miranda crashes," he laughed.

Robert quickly retrieved his backpack he had dropped against the dark wooden-looking shed. He placed it in a side saddle and mounted the bike. Patting the seat behind him, he waited for Maddy. The Wolfblood climbed aboard and wrapped her arms around Robert tightly as he pulled away in a hurry.

They had been driving for a while when Robert allowed his vehicle to come to a rest. Miranda pulled up beside them, braking roughly that both young women jerked forward. Pulling off the helmet, he smoothed his hair and fixed his skull cap. "Here we are," he announced. Maddy lifted the visor of her helmet, astounded by the scene in front of her. With the snowmobiles quietly humming as they began to rest, she looked around. Tall Christmas trees, never-ending pines tree that stretched up into the cloudy sky, and some stubborn shrubs surrounded them. The path they had taken wasn't a trail, but just a little veins of cleared areas. Maddy couldn't easily determine how far they were, but she felt closer to Mother Nature. Maddy slowly dismounted and walked in a small circle, the snow giving under her boots. The crisp air was a cool rush as she took in all the smells. She had a surging need to just run between the trees and dive into the small mounds of snow where they collected in the crevices between crowded trees. It was beautiful.

-Wolfblood-

Robert pulled out from the side satchel a small wrapped box and presented it to Maddy. "What's this?" Like she needed to ask, and Robert gave her exactly that look. Maddy, unwrapped the box and her eyes widened at the surprise inside. She carefully extracted the 35mm camera, like the one she had been using back home in Stonybridge. "How?" was all she could afford to get out. She glided her fingers against the cool silver crown of the camera's body and turned the ostentatiously large lens, not particularly focused on anything. She spun around in a circle, before landing her focus on Robert. He was beaming with joy as he watched her play with the camera, smiling the entire time. He had is hands shoved in his pockets, nervous for some reason. "Smile," she laughed, snapping a picture of him. "Like breaking the champagne on the new boat out for its first voyage."

"I'm honored." He laughed, then sighed.

"Thank you so much. How did you know?" She hung the camera strap around her neck. "Ling," she answered for him. They both laughed looking at the Asia girl who looked suddenly bashful. "I'm going to capture it all. Best birthday bash ever."

"Whooo-hoooo!" Miranda yelled, punching the air like she had won the championship all over.

-Wolfblood-

They were enjoying the privacy that particular provided them. Allowed to make as much as noise or horse-around without being reprimanded. They took turns leading each other around the around the trees and drag racing in the larger clearing. Maddy wished she could drag out the passing minutes into days, just to stay longer. Sadly, all good things come to an end. "Hey, guys perhaps we should turn back, look." Ling pointed up toward the darkening sky. The clouds transformed from a dull grey to a ominous slate-color. Maddy had lived in the area long enough to understand the different layers of gray. It was time to move indoors and prepare for a wild storm. All three of them looked to Maddy, who nodded in agreement. "Come on," Ling said quickly, spurring back to her spot as Miranda's passenger.

"Okay, I'll lead," Robert instructed waiting for Maddy to mount the back of the snowmobile and Miranda to engage the ignition of hers. Just as they were about to head toward the resort a reddish-colored wolf jumped in their way. Maddy could hear Robert gasp and twist the throttle to cut power and stop the snowmobile. When the wolf didn't move and the fur raised, Maddy knew she needed to do something. At the speed the clouds moved, it would be a swift by intense snow storm. She swung her leg over and hopped down, her feet disappearing in the white ground covering. She looked back at her friends and then at the Wild Wolfblood in front of her. It was Davin. But, Davin must have not known that Robert and Miranda knew, and Maddy intended keeping it that way. She continued to snarl and bark at the group, her eyes never leaving Maddy's for more than a second.

"Well, what is she saying?" Robert asked. He now sat side saddle, more relaxed as he believed things were safer with Maddy.

"Nothing," Maddy answered, but Robert's arched eyebrow said he didn't believe her for one minute. Maddy shook her head. She wasn't leaving with Davin. She didn't want to return the campsite. As much as she wanted answers, past experience said that her inquisitive mind and desire for answers could lead to trouble. The memories of finding the tunnels with Liam flashing back to her. "Leave! Get out of here! Now!" She couldn't – wouldn't leave her friends. This was her day. The was her opportunity for some normalcy. To be a regular teenager. "Go!" Maddy glowered at Davin, baring her teeth. Robert swivels back into a proper sitting position and revved the engine. He nudged the snowmobile forward, indicating to Davin that she should leave. However, Davin was committed to bringing Maddy back and held her ground.

"Maybe you should bark back?" Miranda offered, receiving a light slap on the shoulder from Ling. "What?!" Miranda shot back, shrugging her shoulders in feigned innocence.

Maddy shook her head and crouched down. "Leave she said more calmly. Now is not the time. I understand, but you need to go.I cannot leave them. I won't." The Wild Wolfblood peered around her tame counterpart and gave a disgusted, snarling bark at her. As displeased as Davin was, she seemed to be acquiescing. She narrowed her eyes at the three humans waiting behind Maddy, suspiciously unafraid of her. While Maddy may not have been able to hide the truth in others knowing, Davin did finally leave. And just in time as a sudden white-out blew in. Maddy wasn't so sure anymore that she was the one that convinced Davin and that perhaps Mother Nature was the true motivation. "Damn it!" she harshly whispered to herself.

-Wolfblood-

The severity of their predicament was evident almost as soon as Robert had started guiding them back to the resort. Robert killed the engine and was relieved to see Miranda and Ling pull beside them. The wind howled; the snow moving sideways. The entire scene static, just an never-ending fall of snow. The grey clouds sank to the ground, cutting their visibility to just feet in front of them. While squalls were typically short-lived, this one seemed to have the Mother Natures fury fueling it. Each snowflake that landed felt like small pin-pricks crashing into their skin. As Maddy inhaled, trying to calm her mind, the crips air froze her from the inside-out. "We need to find shelter. We can't continue. The visibility is too low." Maddy was growing more and more fearful of their returning safely back to the resort.

"But where? There's no viable shelter anywhere around here." Ling shouted. The temperature was dropping, from nearly feeling like the beginning of spring, to a intolerable cold, Maddy knew the others wouldn't last.

"I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I think were lost. I can't recognize anything," Robert announced, his voice cracking with uncertainty and fear.

"Now what? If we don't find somewhere to bunker down or quick find the resort, we're done. We're all goin' to be human, Wolfblood popsicles," Miranda chimed in.

Her inner voice, that sound eerily like her mother's, reprimanded herself for even considering using Eolas, but Maddy knew deep down it was their only way of getting their way back safely. As the snow continued to dust her jacket, she crouched down and dipped her fingers into the snow. Looking into the grey blur of clouds she could see other patron racing into resort to escape the weather and she could see Davin snuggling into a small den for warmth and to wait out the storm. As she led herself away and back to where they were, she could see they had driven off course and had passed the path they had initially taken. Even so, they could still get back.

Standing quickly, she looked at her friends, who were watching her carefully. "Turn off your phones. I don't want them going off. I can get us home," she instructed. They were slow to follow, only Ling doing as she was told. "I can track our way back, but if your phones ring, I will lose my connect to the ground - Nature. I'll also lose consciousness because of it." When Robert and Miranda hesitated again, unsure of turning their phone off - cutting themselves off from any outside communications, Maddy barked out a final command it. "Do it! Turn them off now." The Wolfblood's toes tingled and her fingers burned as she began to lose feeling in her extremities. The chill was pushing through Maddy's clothing. They needed to get back or they would begin to suffer from hypothermia. Miranda and Robert turned off their phones and waited for Maddy to hop on Robert's snowmobile again. "This way," she pointed, tapping Robert's shoulder to get his attention. "Go. Hurry."

-Wolfblood-

They were less than a mile away when Maddy tapped Robert and signaled him to stop. As unrelenting as the snow storm had been, she knew from experience the searing pain felt by pylons. The power lines that extended to the resort were just tickling her, coaxing her to come closer. Maddy breathed and pushed away from Nature, a tinge of remorse felts as she came back to the modern world. She slide off the bike and fell to her knees, unsteadily keeping herself upright. She had never pushed her talents that hard or for that long and it had taken a physical toll. The desire to throw up was undeniably. She could hear the other calling her, but she didn't focus on any of them until she felt Robert hoist her to her feet and help back onto the snowmobile. He saddled the winter jet ski from behind her, locking her in like a seatbelt so she would fall off. "It's just straight ahead. A few more minutes," she assured him, trying to convince herself not to give into the darkness the loss of consciousness presented. It took longer without Maddy's help, but as they muddled through the snow, they were soon rewarded by the silhouette of the resort coming into sight.

Stepping on the cobble red stone that led to the open courtyard of the ski lounge, some attendants raced out of the double glass doors with towels. Robert was helping Maddy walk as they moved slowly to the awaiting employees. Sitting on the second floor with warm blankets around them, a fire place, and some hot chocolate, the group quietly watched as the snow began to finally temper off. "What was that?" Miranda inquired. Maddy didn't respond right away lost in her thoughts. "Eh, girlie, how did you find your way back? I know sled dogs. My dad use to breed them. And the best of the best dogs couldn't track in that Hell."

Maddy looked up, slightly tired and only somewhat thawed from her escapade in the ferocious Tall Skies environment. "It's called Eolas . . . gift . . . I don't know, maybe it would be better called an ability, that certain Wolfbloods have to commune at a higher level with Nature. It allows you to see and sense things at a farther reach than just mere sight."

"That's crazy girl. I bet you never lose your damn keys," Miranda laughed, eating a few marshmallows from a bag the staff had left per Robert's request. Maddy didn't respond to Miranda, just stared unimpressed. While Miranda's comments and questions usually resulted in bemusement, Maddy was beyond simple fatigue and couldn't muster any tolerance or pleasure from Miranda uninhibited ignorance.

It grew quiet for a while, when Maddy finally spoke up. "I really appreciate this awesome day you all planned, but I'm exhausted, and would actually like to head home and to bed. I don't mean to cut our plans short, but using Eolas took everything out of me." Maddy didn't want to ruin their birthday plans for her, but she really just wanted to rest.

"That's okay. I was thinking the same thing. If the storm hit outside the area, it could take awhile to get home, and I'm also worn out. I've had enough excitement," Robert agreed.

-Wolfblood-

It had taken longer to get back in the are as the roads had been compromised from the radical storm, but finally Robert dropped off Miranda and Ling at their houses.

Robert pulled up in front of the pharmacy. Maddy hopped out of the vehicle and came around to say goodbye. "You got everything?" he asked. She nodded, showing him the camera hanging around her neck. She hugged Robert tightly, grateful for the gift and having the opportunity to spend the day away from the apartment and school. And even though Davin had stepped in to ruin it, as well as the heinous blizzard, she still counted the time with her friends as a win. Maddy stepped back, only for Robert to lean and land a kiss. It was gentle and light like the snowfall she had become accustom to since living in Tall Skies. And just as soon as it had begun, it ended. Behind the eager smile of Robert's, Maddy caught the alarming red and blue flashes of police lights running down the side of the alley that led to her family's apartment.

Maddy didn't bother explaining as she moved passed Robert and sprinted to her home. She could smell Robert following, either to apologize or also having noticed the lights too. Two police cars were parked outside the residence and Maddy could feel her heart ticking like a bomb seconds from detonating. The front door was a jar, left open to anyone interested in learning the details happing inside. Maddy took each step two at a time, noticing the suspicious hush of voice upstairs. Perhaps Ms. Duperee had decided to end their lives and attack the Smith family tonight?! What if her parents were dead, having been murdered? Maddy threw the door opened to the second story residence to see her parents very much alive.

She skidded to a halt, befuddled by her findings. Nothing seemed to be out of sorts other than the two officers standing in the room. If nothing was amiss, what were police doing there? Robert, who had been following closely, almost slammed into Maddy as he was unprepared to stop. Two officers, a male and female, who had been conversing with her parents, now had their eyes trained on Maddy. While nothing looked out of place, something wasn't right. Dan had his hands firmly placed on Emma's shoulders looked very pale. Emma was rubbing her hands together anxiously, trading glances between her daughter and their unsolicited guests. The male mumbled something into the radio sitting on his shoulder that even with her heightened abilities, Maddy couldn't quite make out. The woman crossed the room with purpose, stopping directly in front of youngest Smith. "Are you Madeline Smith?"

"Yeah," Maddy answered softly.

"I am here to inform you, as I have already communicated to your folks, that you are being formally charges with the murder of Ms. Lana Dupree."

"What?! Wait, murder?!" Maddy started to step back in shock, which the policewoman immediately assumed was a move to run.

"Freeze!" she ordered, grabbing Maddy by the hand and forcefully throwing her down to carpeted floor. The camera sucker punching her in the stomach. Maddy grunted through the pain of it all. The muscular male had his hand on her back as the woman clicked the cuffs around her Maddy's wrists. "You have the right to remain silent . . ."

"This is ridiculous, do you honestly – " Robert advanced toward Maddy, only to be briskly shoved into the wall by the other officer. The Caucasian man with the shaved head seemed to have threatened Robert with joining her, but Maddy wasn't entirely sure as all she could focus on was keeping herself in check.

"Mom! Dad!" Maddy cried out, she started to wriggle to see her parents.

". . . what you say can be used against you in a court of law. . . ." the officer continued. Maddy could feel herself start to wolf-out. It was confirmed as she looked up and saw Robert's horrified face. Breathe, he mouthed to her.

Somehow, deep inside her, she calmed herself enough to prevent a complete transformation, but she could feel herself just on the brink of losing control.

" . . . lawyer present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire," the officer finished, hoisting Maddy to her feet.

Robert was buffered from getting to Maddy by the large man. "Don't say anything, Maddy. I will contact my father. Just hang tight."

As she licked her lips, metallic accents came to the forefront, and while she couldn't reach her mouth with her hands, she was sure she had bitten her lip and cut it open. She could also taste the salt from her tears as her world came crashing down around her. She hadn't even realized she was crying until then. Looking one last time at her parents that were slowly advancing, ever so careful not to further make matters worse with the police officers, Emma looked at her daughter with tears in her eyes. Daniel tried to act out "to stay calm," but Maddy couldn't comply. She planted her feet, pushing against the officer until she was lifted off her feet and slammed back down on the landing, outside the apartment. From all the fighting back, the link of the camera's neck strap broke and the gift tumbled to the ground. Maddy watched the camera spin like a top before crackling to a stop. The camera lens looked up at its owner in three large fragments. Maddy shed more tears as she discovered all the pictures, all the moments from that day, were gone. The camera's backing popped open, exposing the film. Maddy was pushed forward with a swift hit to the back by the female officer. As the Wolfblood was escorted to the patrol car, she couldn't think of anything else but her deceased coach. Her mentor. Her friend?

'Murdered? ? How? . . . Why?' she thought.

-End Chapter 10

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