Home > The Rebel Guardian (Outlaw #2)

The Rebel Guardian (Outlaw #2)
Author: Lexi Blake

 

Chapter One

 

 

“Hey, Mom. You ready? Eddie’s packed up all our sh…stuff, and he says he feels better and is ready to work his magic.” Fenrir strode into my room, a backpack on one broad shoulder.

Five days ago he’d been nine and Eddie—our butler/all-around keeper—would run behind him in the magnificent apartment we lived in, trying to make sure the kiddo kept his pants on.

And now he stood before me, a young man. Technically an adult, though I thought it would take me a while to process that hard truth.

I had to force a smile on my face because if I didn’t, Fen would see the depths of my pain, and he didn’t need that. He needed a mom who loved him, who was happy to see him as he was today. Not one who longed desperately to turn back time and never have gone into that painting. “Almost good to go. I’m not taking much. Your dad promised he’ll take me shopping when we get to Atlanta.”

I needed that shopping trip since I didn’t have much. I hadn’t exactly packed for the excursion to the outer planes, and my condo full of clothes and shoes was now occupied by a bunch of witches who’d taken over the supernatural world, including the building I’d planned to raise my kids in.

I’d had to shut out every emotion that flooded my system the minute we’d come back through the painting and we’d realized that twelve years had passed here on the Earth plane. In our time, it had been mere days. Not even a week. We’d expected to return to a familiar world, to hold our children close and be happy to be home.

Instead, we’d found our world utterly changed and our places in it dangerous.

It had been less than twenty-four hours from the time we’d found ourselves in that basement staring down at the wanted posters to walking into the city of Frelsi, located deep inside a mountain on the northernmost part of Iceland. But it felt like I’d aged years.

My wolf, the one I’d finally properly integrated with, was rattling around inside me. She was not handling the situation as well as my human self was, and it was getting harder and harder to keep her in check.

I needed to see Trent.

Fenrir—the little wolf I’d adopted years before—was twenty-one years old. He looked more like his wolf now. Big, predatory, dangerous. But I could still see the little boy who’d just wanted someone to love him.

“I doubt you’ll need a parka where we’re going. The primals keep it pretty warm in their nest.” Fen leaned against the dresser as I checked over my pack one last time. “Did you talk to Lee?”

Oh, I’d definitely talked to Lee Donovan-Quinn. Lee had changed, too. He’d been one of my favorite people as a kid, one of the first people I’d really connected with and for some of the strangest reasons. “I’m still processing the fact that he’s a latent vampire. Is the king sure? How did he not know? It’s not like he didn’t live with Lee for eleven years.”

I’d been hit with so much change in the course of a few days that I was still trying to keep up. The kids were adults and warriors, and they’d spent the majority of the last decade off plane training to fight. Fenrir was in love with the queen’s daughter, Evangeline, and apparently he was also at war with a whole bunch of wolves who were either pissed with him because he wouldn’t assume their throne or afraid that he would.

And Lee—little Lee, whose small body housed my father’s soul—was now big Lee, and he loved a lot of people because he didn’t discriminate when it came to sex. He would turn into a vampire when he died, which could be any day now, from what I’d heard. He was every bit as reckless an adult as he’d been a child.

I’d asked him if he wanted to come with me to Atlanta. Beyond Fenrir, I was most concerned with Lee. He’d turned me down and said he was needed here.

Fen ran a hand over his shaggy hair, shoving it back. “Apparently puberty has something to do with it, though I got the feeling the king has always had his suspicions. Lee is being perfectly annoying about it. He’s going to be an obnoxious vampire. I hope he’s an academic and his primary skill turns out to be math or something. A supercharged Lee will be unbearable. I wonder how many years it will be before he stops whining about food. He hasn’t even turned and he’s already worried about missing pizza.”

Fen and Lee had a whole deep, familial relationship I hadn’t been a part of. They bickered like brothers. It was the relationship I’d wanted them to have, but the fact that I hadn’t seen it bloom made my heart ache.

I had to stay calm.

“When we get there, will you be able to cry, Mom?” Fen asked quietly. When I looked up at him, his expression had turned serious. “When you see Dad, will it be safe enough for you?”

I stopped, closing my eyes and forcing myself to be still. This was one of the reasons why I’d skipped breakfast this morning. I hadn’t been certain I could sit down with the royals and the kids and not lose my shit. I’d finally found the one thing that could squash my often never-ending appetite. Sorrow. Deep and aching loss. Well, I’d also had a little morning sickness, but I couldn’t think about the fact that I was pregnant right this second. It was all too much. “I can’t do this right now, Fen.”

If I let the emotion out, the wolf would come, too. It had been a while since I’d felt this deep need—to either fight or fuck—and I wasn’t doing either here.

“It’s okay to be upset. I think the queen’s already lost it a couple of times. Lee’s worried about her.” Fen moved over to sit on the bed I’d slept in the night before. “He thinks she might try to fix things.”

That sounded like the queen. Zoey Donovan-Quinn wasn’t the type to simply accept bad things happening to the people around her. I knew better. Also, Zoey didn’t lose her mind from time to time and threaten to wipe out the people around her because she had no control. “There’s no fixing this. Your papa saw it coming a long time ago. The queen probably thinks she’s in the wrong timeline or something, but I know now we were always going to end up here.”

“It would have been nice if Gray had found a way to give us a heads-up.” There was no mistaking the hint of bitterness in Fen’s tone.

“It doesn’t work that way. Please tell me what he’s done to hurt you.” I set the pack down and faced my son.

I had twelve years of family drama to catch up on. The apparent rift between my demon prophet husband, Grayson Sloane, and Fenrir was one thing I couldn’t afford to avoid dealing with.

I wanted to know why Gray hadn’t contacted me yet, where he was and if he’d missed me or if he’d moved on.

Because this was his baby I was carrying.

I’d been transported to the outer planes a few days ago, and that act along with the royals falling in as well had fulfilled one of the prophecies that my life seemed to revolve around. I’d fallen into Myrddin’s trap—the trap my dark prophet husband had been warning me about for years.

It turned out the trap was a painting, and now I understood why I’d never been a big art fan. Somewhere in the back of my head I’d always known fine art would fuck up my life.

When we’d returned to our plane, we discovered twelve years had passed. The pain was so overwhelming I wasn’t sure I would be able to breathe if I let it wash over me. I worried that pain was a tidal wave that would drown me in it, the fury of the water stripping me of my every defense.

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