Book: Echoed Defiance
Copyrighted Kristen Banet/K.N. Banet 2020
All Rights Reserved
First draft state and full of errors. I make a whole bunch of typos in my first draft.
I love writing Heath POVs when Jacky is either missing or asleep. My favorite time. His thoughts are clearer. Plus, this gives you a moment with Heath during the very long drive back to Mischa's village. He had a moment to really stew on some parts of her life and their situation. I enjoyed writing this. And thank you all for over 400 reviews on Echoed Defiance since release. That's... that's just fucking awesome. Thank you. This is my meager gift to you. Enjoy!
Heath didn’t know how they managed to pull it off, but they did. It was becoming a familiar feeling when he was with Jacky Leon.
Just over year and a half ago, we were just two people living our daily lives. I was in the process of retiring. She owned a bar. Now we’re running from chaos that we caused in one of the largest werewolf packs in the world.
And I’m in love with her.
He constantly battled this feeling now. He’d seen her fight with every bit of her spirit and stand up for what she believed in. He’d seen her become a tender, loving figure for his daughter and patient with his remaining son. She was prideful but quiet. That quietness to her didn’t make her less fierce, though. She refused to bow to him, refused to treat him special for being an Alpha, and he was never a conquest to her, something to claim for the power associated.
In fact, she was a dear friend when many told them they needed to stop associating with each other at all.
And he was madly in love with her. He loved how she existed in her own space, on her own schedule, and how willing she was to fight for that right.
Which made him increasingly more angry at the people around him in the truck. Jacky was sleeping in the back next to her Japanese brother, Hisao. A dangerous man, that one. Heath was a proficient werewolf, and he had done a lot in his time. He hadn’t always been an Alpha with power. There were times where every day had been a struggle to survive with his son, and then both sons. That had taught him to survive and fight, but Hisao knew how to kill and it was apparent by everything the male did. Hisao moved like every motion was necessary and practiced, and he was always at the ready. Hisao’s presence alone was enough to stop Jacky from talking to him, being his close friend and confidante.
She and I haven’t had a chance to be normal since we got off the plane in Tokyo thanks to him. It’s fucking killing me to have to be so careful, but I can’t leave Carey without a father either.
It infuriated him, though, as Jacky breathed evenly in the back of the truck with no one to comfort her. She had run for so long and so hard. They all had. Heath wasn’t sure how his eyes were still open, but he was trying his damnedest. The werecats deserved a chance to rest. He could sleep once they made it back to Mischa.
Someone stirred behind him and a whisper hit his ears, reminding him of everyone else he was pissed off with.
“We should run,” someone hissed. A man.
“And go where? We’re in Russia!” a woman snapped in returned.
“Isn’t that Jacky?” Another man, but not the first.
Heath sniffed the air, but couldn’t catch any scents. They were exposed to the wind, which blew everything away before he could get a solid read.
The question the last one posed left them in silence in the back. Heath knew he should speak up, but part of him just hated the people behind them and hated the person responsible even more.
Fucking Gwen, abusing Jacky’s loyal nature for this.
“Yes, it’s Jacky,” he said, his voice thick from a few hours of disuse. “And please don’t run. We’re trying to get you home. Nothing is going to happen to you. Just enjoy the ride and try to stay warm.”
“Do you know why we were abducted?” This was the second male voice.
“I’m not the person who can answer that question. I fear my response might have bias,” Heath answered carefully. “It’s complicated.”
“What is Jacky? There was a beast then her. What is my daughter?” This was her mother. Heath tried to search for the woman’s name, but his thoughts were groggy at best. He needed to stay focused on the road.
“She’s just Jacky,” he answered softly, not wanting to give them the truth. “It doesn’t matter what else she is, she’s still your daughter, Jacqueline.”
“Sure,” the woman said, sounding obviously bitter. “Our rebellious, brash daughter who never thinks about her actions before she does them or about the impact of her words when she says them. That I believe.”
He heard the hate of a parent that was holding a grudge. He’d seen it before. He’d read it in a letter once, written by Carey’s mother, who hated their daughter for just existing. He knew it from seeing werewolf parents who resented having human children or even werewolf children, especially when those children ended up more dominant than the adults. It happened more often than he cared to think about. Not every family devolved into dominance battles, but it happened. He’s broken it up three times in fifty years. The parents spent the rest of their lives resenting their children.
Jacky’s mother obviously resented her, but Heath didn’t know the story behind it.
“Thank you for helping save us,” the second man said. “I’m Daniel.”
“Ah. Gwen’s ex-husband. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Heath said, trying to spare a glance back at them. “How are the kids? Are they warm? Do they need something to eat?”
“They fell asleep pretty quickly and I have them bundled up under some blankets. Thank you for asking. Are you a father?”
“Yes, of three… Two. My oldest son passed away some time ago.” Heath bit back a growl at him. Richard was dead and he deserved to be dead. He’d betrayed the family and it took a werecat to protect Carey from his petty jealousy. Heath would forever feel like a failure for that, but he heaped the blame on himself for it, no one else. He was the father that missed the signs, the Alpha that didn’t understand the feelings of his own pack. Everyone who died during the attempted coup fell on his shoulders. It was a burden he was getting used to carrying.
“Do they get easier?” he asked. Heath already liked this guy more than his wife.
“Well, my oldest was around two hundred and fifty when he died and let me give you the bad news… no, they don’t get easier.” Heath chuckled at the sputtering response he got. “I’m Heath Everson, one time Alpha of the Dallas werewolf pack, and former member of the North American Werewolf Council.”
“Yeah, I get that response a lot now that I’m out of the public eye,” Heath said, chuckling still. “People don’t recognize me as quickly as they used to. I’m retired from all of that, though. I wanted to get my daughter out of pack life because she’s a on her way to becoming a human teenage girl. That will require all of my attention.”
“And the other?”
“My son, Landon. He was born during the Civil War, while his mother and I were fighting for the Union.”
“I was a colonist fighting in the American Revolution when I was Changed into a werewolf.”
Someone made a strange noise and it all fell silent. Heath was familiar with it. Most every day citizens didn’t knowingly run into the werewolves living among them. Those that did became used to it quickly or changed jobs. Or moved. Anything. Some humans had incredibly fearful reactions to his kind. Others were too damn curious for their own good.
Luckily, the short conversation with Daniel eased Heath’s mood. Father to father, it wasn’t a productive talk but at least a friendly one.
It took his mind off Jacky, but not for long. She came flooding back to his mind. Daniel was Gwen’s ex-husband and a single father. Gwen and Jacky looked the exact same except for the years now between them.
And Gwen got everyone into this fucking mess, forcing Jacky to clean it up. He hated it. Once, he’d used Jacky like that. He hadn’t know her. She was a werecat and there were obscure rules every supernatural could take advantage of. Carey had been a small human girl. Heath would have done everything to protect her and he hadn’t known how far Jacky would go to do that. He understood it now and tried not abuse it.
Her own fucking twin abused it, though. With little care, his sister decided to ignore the rules of the supernatural world and then pulled Jacky in on her fucking scheme.
Heath, his feelings for Jacky growing stronger every damn day, hated Gwen. With every bone in his body, he fucking hated her and he refused to let that go.
“I can’t believe Jacky would disappear for over ten years then let her mess get us taken by werewolves,” the mother said, obviously upset and on the verge of tears now. “Then rescue us with others. She knows we… How could she do this?”
Heath’s knuckles went white as he listened. Helene. That was her mother’s name.
“You know she became whatever she is because we don’t like the… supernaturals,” the older gentleman said. Jacky’s father. Michael. “She’s always done that. We wanted her to focus on her studies, so she joined every useless club she could. We told her no dating, so she brought home a boyfriend. She’s always been disobedient and defiant. She never felt bad for it either. Could never stay in line.”
Control freaks, huh? That’s who tried to raise her? No wonder she has such a hard time authority.
“She’s done worse than all of that. She made this family look bad and now this,” Helene said, definitely bitter. Michael grunted an affirmative.
I should speak up but it’s not my truth to tell. They would never believe me if I told them it was all Gwen’s fault. Never.
Heath kept a tight grip on the steering wheel. Jacky had risked her life for these people and the lives of her entire immortal family and this was how they behaved. They hated her defiant streak, her pure heart, her good nature because it went against what they wanted.
They had no idea the werewolf driving was madly in love with her for all of that. Even as Heath fought to keep her safe and tell her how bad this entire situation was, he had still been a little awe struck by her belief in what was right. And he’d followed, because he had no choice. He’s almost lost her letting her fight her own battles once before.
He kept driving, trying to block out the words of her human family. He made himself a promise.
He was going to tell her how he felt the next time he had the chance. He had to do the right way, because their relationship was nearly doomed from the start, but he had to tell her. He refused to let her think that no one in the world loved her the way she deserved to be loved. The Alpha in him wanted to cherish and protect her. The man in him loved the challenge of her, knowing she would never submit.
And he would accept whatever challenge the world wanted to give him, because he was in love with Jacky Leon and he intended to tell her that.
At least Russia was good for one thing. A long drive at least gives me plenty of time to figure out how I’m going to do this the right way.