Tara woke to the constant beep of the heart monitor. She looked around the small, whitewashed room that blinded her light-sensitive eyes to the bright LED lights. She turned her head slowly, feeling the soft linen bandages wrapped tightly around her chest, hiding the nasty scars from her view. She felt like shedding a tear, knowing that someone had seen the evidence of her abuse, but none seemed to come. She raised the medical bed to sit up when a young man in light blue scrub bottoms and a white tee walked in. He smiled as he crossed over to her.
“Ah, hello ma’am,” he said joyfully. “I am Jeremiah. I am the head nurse who has been assigned to help heal you. I am so glad to see you awake.”
“Where am I?” Tara croaked. “The last thing I remember was escaping from the Silvermoon Werewolves.”
“Well, ma’am,” Jeremiah checked all the monitors as he spoke, “you are in the Bloodraven Pack Hospital. You do not have to worry, though. Alpha Alfred will not hand you back over to them.”
Tara looked up at him, obviously very concerned. “So you are werewolves as well.”
Jeremiah looked at her with a warm smile. “Not all of us are. Some of us volunteered to work for the pack. They treat us with respect and dignity here. I am sorry that your experiences with the Wolves were poor. I can assure you that the Wolves here are good.”
Tara smiles softly. “I hope you don’t mind if I don’t take you at your word right now. I would much rather see for myself.”
“Of course, Luna.”
“Luna?” Tara asked, her eyes widen. “What do you mean? How can I be a Luna? I am not a werewolf.”
Tara noticed Jeremiah stiffen when she asked. “I am sorry, ma’am. I spoke out of turn. You see, our future Alpha returned yesterday and was the one to face off against the Silvermoon raiders to get you here for medical aid. He told his father to protect you because you were his Mate.”
Tara looked at Jeremiah. “What is your future Alpha like as a person?”
“I cannot answer. I have not met the future Alpha yet. I have been working here for a little over a year. The future Alpha was away with the National Army, as per our pack laws.”
“Okay,” Tara said softly, looking out of the window.
“Everything looks good, ma’…” Jeremiah said after several minutes of checking his instruments.
“My name is Tara,” she interrupted kindly.
Jeremiah smiled. “Very well, Tara. I will go and tell Doctor Anderson that you are awake.”
Jeremiah turned and left. Tara laid back, closing her eyes. There was a soft knock on the door, causing her to open her eyes.
“You may enter,” Tara said.
A tall woman entered the room with a smile. “Good morning, Miss Tara. You look better already.”
Tara smiled. “You must be Doctor Anderson.”
“Yes, I am. I hope Jeremiah didn’t startle you too much with his announcement.”
“Startle, no. It took me by surprise because the Silvermoon Pack would kill the human who was reported to be a werewolf’s mate. And it was not a pretty death either.”
“You do not have to worry about them, Tara. Knowing Robert, he would not let anyone take you against your will. For a pup, he is wise.”
“Who is Robert?” Tara asked.
“That would be me,” came a voice from the cracked doorway. “I apologize for eavesdropping. I heard you were awake and wanted to talk to you. But I see you are busy.”
“Wait,” Tara said. “Please, enter. I am sure Doctor Anderson won’t belong.”
She watched as the door opened. A tall, lithe but powerful-looking man stood in the doorway. He walked in with a confident step, and his short dark brown hair was cut short. His face seemed to be chiseled out of stone and painted with muddy bronze. His army uniform fitted his body perfectly. But the fascinating thing about this beautiful man was his ice-blue eyes that seemed to have captured her hazel-green.
Doctor Anderson hummed as she watched the heart monitor to track the heartbeat. “Well, I see there is no obstruction to your chemical makeup.” She smirked.
Tara blushed, her pale rosy skin turning a shade darker. “I just… I didn’t expect a man from my dreams to be standing here.”
Robert smiled a little. “So you are saying I am the man of your dreams?” he asked teasingly.
Tara blushed more, turning her head so she can look outside. When she heard her heart rate return to normal, she turned back to the Doctor. “Thank you for your care, Doctor. I will try to find a way to repay you.”
“You do not need to worry about that, Tara. I would have done it even if you didn’t instruct to.” Doctor Anderson looked to Robert.
“Doc, I didn’t instruct you to do anything,” Robert said softly.
“I know you didn’t, pup,” Anderson said with a hint of affection. “But your claim several days ago told me what needed to happen.”
“I am sorry, doc. I did not intend to force you into anything. I just wanted to let you know that I wasn’t going to give her over.”
“I am sure you wouldn’t have given her over anyways. I know how much you think of barbaric practices.”
Robert turned away from her. Tara could see his face darken. She didn’t understand the circumstances behind that look, but she knew he was hurting somehow. She felt a need to comfort him. She also was scared of him.
Robert moved to the door. “I will return later, Tara. I hope you continue to improve. Get as much rest as you can.”
Tara opened her mouth to speak. But Robert left. She looked at him as he went.
“He has changed since he left us,” Anderson said. “He used to be full of life and pride. Now every mention of barbarism and he clams up.”
“You said he used to be in the Army, right?” Tara asked. “Maybe he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.”
“Tara, that may be the case. But he has not opened up to anyone about what has happened. He is the only one to return out of twenty pups we sent.”
“Oh Goddess, that is terrible!” Tara exclaimed. “What would that mean for the pack?”
“Only the Goddess knows. And as the future Alpha, I think he is feeling the weight of the decisions. I have watched people try to get him to smile last night, but the only times I saw him genuinely smile was when he sat right there beside you.”
Tara looked at the Doctor. “I do not see his attraction in me. I am not pure, and I am scared. They raped and tortured me relentlessly like I was some tavern wench. I do interest beauty left.”
“That declaration is a bunch of bull, Tara. You are still a beautiful woman. The scars do not diminish your beauty. For us Wolves, having scars means we survived to tell the tale.”
Tara looked at Doctor Anderson with wonder. “Do you think so?”
“I know so. Yes, what you had to go through is infuriating and terrible. But you survived. You are stronger because of it. And if I would make a wager, you are not the same woman today as when you first started going through your ordeal.”
“Yes, that is true. I never thought about it.”
Anderson chuckled softly. “Just remember that you already have the strength you need to achieve greatness.”
Doctor Anderson moved to the bedside. Tara sat straight, pulling away from the bed so that the doctor could examine her heartbeat and breathing. Tara shivered when the cold metal touched her skin.
“Are you hungry?” the doctor asked when she was done.
Tara nodded. “I am famished. The last time I remember eating was the day I ran from the Silvermoon.”
“I am not surprised,” Anderson said. “You have been unconscious for about seventy-two hours since we found you. We don’t know when you fell unconscious.”
“The last thing I remember, I was cold and wet. The storm seemed to have a mind of its own and helped me escape detection. I remember that I could barely see, tripping over something and falling hard. And the last thing I saw a woman in radiant white garments that shone like the moonlight. After that, I remember waking up here.”
Doctor Anderson listened to Tara recount her memories. “You said that you were in a storm bad enough that you couldn’t see, correct? That was a week ago, dear.”
Tara looked at the doctor, shocked. “How is it possible that I am still alive?”
Anderson looked at the young woman. “I don’t know. Maybe Luna is keeping you alive for something important. It doesn’t really matter right now. Only that you live.”
Tara smiled at the doctor laying back.