CHAPTER 1

Being that I was the Beast Lord's daughter, freedom wasn't the greatest option for me. Jim was now staring at me as I plucked my two daggers from the dead tree trunks. I sighed. "Do you really have to watch me while I do this Jim?" He snickered. Great! I'll take that as a definite no. I showed him my perfect grimace. "Don't look at me like that my lady. You know that your father is only doing this to keep you safe".

"Keep me safe from mosquito bites you mean."

"You know what I mean."

"No, I don't. I don't understand why he has to have the head of security of the pack to guard me while I train. I'm sixteen years old for Christ sake!"

Jim rolled his eyes and sighed. I turned around and saw Dali, the vegetarian tigress behind him with Ember, their bouncing baby boy.

"Would you guard Ember like this if he was my age and is perfectly capable of protecting himself?"

"No, I wouldn't. He has to learn how to survive on his own."

"My point exactly. Turn around."

He rolled his eyes and turned around. There's my chance. While Jim turned around and walked towards Dali, I shifted into my snow panther form. I dashed towards the woods, feeling the breeze of air wheeze behind me. Take everything you can Ceraphina.It won't last long. Somewhere behind me, I heard a distant roar. Great! So Simba decided that Kiara went too far already. I ran as fast as I could and turned where the keep's gate stood. Mahon was there. Oops. I shifted to my human form and took the robe Mahon handed me.

"Where do you think you're going?" Mahon asked.

"Ugh. Now that you're blocking my gate to freedom and my dad is probably blowing his mane behind me, I guess I'll be going nowhere soon."

"Touché." Derek snickered, beside Mahon.

A loud roar erupted behind me. I slowly turned around and saw Curran, his furry majesty, and also my father in his half-form behind me. Uh oh. This is trouble with a capital T.

"Ceraphina Celeste. You will explain this moment." He threatened.

"Or else?" I asked.

He roared loud enough to scare the shit out of the people around us.

"You know dad, threats come with the 'or else you'll be grounded' or maybe the 'or else you can't train for the next two weeks' kind of stuff."

"Why the hell did you inherit your mother's smart mouth?" He cursed.

"It's kind of a package deal dad." I rolled my eyes.

"You'll never escape the keep, Ceraphina."

"Oh, don't be so sure dad." I said with defiance.

"Oh, I am sure. Very sure in fact."

Before I could smother him with another retort, Aunt Julie, my mother's ward, glided down the stairs.

"She'll escape one way or the other Curran." She said with a smile.

"She's just like Kate, only three times more incorrigible." Derek added.

"Where's mom anyway." I asked.

"Nowhere near enough to defend you, apparently." Jim said.

Ugh, what did I ever do to deserve this?

"Fine dad, you win! I'll tolerate Jim to death." I said in a defeated voice as I made my way to my room in the keep. Having a room in the keep was like having my own studio type loft somewhere in Unicorn Lane. Except for the fact that Unicorn Lane was a spot on deathtrap to anyone, and my room was only a spot on deathtrap for me. I cut my deep reverie short and jumped on the tub. Being the Beast Lord's daughter had its own perks. Having a tub with heated water and bubble generator was one of them. I sighed in contentment. Nothing calms me more than water against my skin. I had an unnatural affinity towards the element itself. I was half shapeshifter, a quarter witch, and a quarter vamp navigator. Need an explanation? My dad was Curran, the beast lord and my mom was Kate, the daughter of Roland and a witch. That makes me a mix breed, a very mixed breed at that. I could shapeshift into a white panther with silver eyes when I wanted to. I could also command water and pilot some vamps if I try hard enough. Hence, the twenty-four-seven bodyguard duty of Jim and Derek. As if that wasn't enough. I had always been in a tight house arrest. I can't go farther than the Keep's grounds or else dad will go into another state of hysteria and mom would kick him in the groin and every other shifter in the keep will be in for another bad afternoon with the Beast Lord. The tub felt so relaxing and water was my element and I was so sleepy.

"Ceraphina, wake up." I opened my eyes to see Kate, my mother, her hair disheveled as usual.

"Hi mom."

"Hi darling, I heard that his furriness bawled you out again."

"The usual mom, where've you been?"

"Andrea, needed help to fix some stuff at the office."

"Who's dead."

"Not dead, darling. Almost."

"Raphael?"

She nodded. "Andrea almost shot his balls off."

"The usual then." I smiled.

"Yup, the usual." She mirrored my smile. I looked so much like her. I had brown eyes and dark brown hair that falls on my waist, so much like hers. Or should I say that I looked like Erra. Scratch that. She's uglier. I smiled at the thought.

"Can you get me out of this place mom?"

She thought about it for a while and said. "Only for a day."

"Really?"

"Really."

"When?"

"Soon darling." She said and left me in my tub.

I dressed up and headed to my room while drying my hair. I was just putting on my shoes when someone knocked on the door.

"Yes?" I asked as I opened the door.

"The Beast Lord requires your appearance to greet the boudas in tonight's dinner party, my lady."

I turned around and walked towards the bed. Dropped the towel I used to dry my hair then applied light make-up then followed the shifter towards the dining hall.

The dining hall was nothing short of magnificent. A chandelier complemented the ceiling and an army of food servers paraded around the table. Curran, my father, sat on the head of the long table, my mom sat on his right and I sat on his left. The dinner started and ended like most dinners with the boudas. Meaning, Aunt B lecturing me about being a proper pack princess and Raphael, setting the gloom on everyone. Great.This couldn't get any better. The dinner ended and my mom and dad escorted me to my room.

"No funny business, Phina." Dad said with a stern glare.

"You'll get your time darling." Mom promised.

Dad gave her the beast lord stare and mom returned a challenging look. They're gonna go at it again. They never grow tired at pissing the hell out of each other.

"Goodnight mom, goodnight dad." I said and gently closed the door behind me. Knowing them, they would probably break a couple of furniture while trying to inflict bodily harm on each other. I laughed and walked towards my bed. I changed into my night clothes which consist of white shorts and a gray sweater, and no, I don't wear sheer night gowns.

I took my two silver daggers and placed it under my pillows. A precaution taught by my mother.

Some time in the night, I woke with a start. I smelled blood. No.Why wouldt here be blood in the Keep?I must be dreaming.Then I heard a scream, a loud and desperate scream, my mother's scream. Then I heard a loud roar. Something's wrong.Something's very wrong.I dashed out of my room carrying my two daggers with me. Then I saw it. A man with dark hair and red eyes was gripping my mother's neck.

"No!" I screamed and charged all my energy toward it. The monster flinched and dropped my mother. Dad grabbed mom and me and ran as fast as he could in his half-form. The monster screamed in frustration behind us. Dad stopped at the woods not far from the keep's grounds. He laid mom on the soft grass. She was wounded very badly. I stood there, my feet frozen in shock. What the hell just happened?"

"Ceraphina." My mother gasped.

"I'm here."

"Take this and run. Leave Curran and me. We can hide ourselves but you, you have to keep running." She said, handing me a topaz pendant on a silver chain.

"That's a wolf diamond, Ceraphina, the last one of it. It's set on a silver chain because silver doesn't harm you in any way at all. I want you to run. I want you to never stop running until your mother and I ends this and kills your grandfather. I want you to live. We both want that. We love you so much." Dad said the words so filled with emotion that it shook me a lot. What was happening? Dad rarely took off his Beast Lord mask and mom was rarely injured this much, and did he just say grandfather?

"That was Roland?" I asked with a shaky voice.

"Yes darling, now please. Go. Run Ceraphina. Run far and don't forget that we love you. Keep yourself safe until we kill him. Then we'll find you and everything will be normal again. I promise." She said it with tears in her eyes. I hugged them and set the topaz pendant around my neck. It was enchanted. The chain probably grows longer when I shift.

"I love you both so much." I said and shifted into my panther form. I ran. I ran so fast. If I stayed a minute longer it would be harder to run and leave them there. They were my life. They were everything I've ever known. I have to keep running. I have to find a way to kill Roland. I can't ever let them risk their lives for me. They've been through enough.