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The first chapter of The Dying Wolf (The Familiar Empire #2).

Chapter One


The previous autumn…

My freshly painted red nails dig into the soil under my hands as I watch in pure horror as my little sister is picked up and placed into the back of a police van like some criminal. Her blonde hair flows around her in a wave of blonde and purple as her head knocks to the side, and the police officer shoves her to the side of the van. Tears fall down my cheeks as everything happening in the world seems to disappear other than this moment where I lose my sister for good. The large black wolf—no, her wolf—is carried and placed at her side before the police slam the door shut and dozens of locks click into place.

They are scared of her and the wolf. My innocent sister who loves movie nights and Grandma Pop’s cookies is a monster to them.

But not to me. Never to me.

I know I won’t see my sister again, or at least not without one hell of a fight. Luckily, we Noble girls know how to put up a fight. Never in my life have I hated people…humans like me, until right now. Until I can see with my own eyes how clouded they are in their hate and fear. How they didn’t even let me say goodbye to my sister.

The thought makes more tears fall from my eyes as a sob gets caught in my throat, which I refuse to let out. I can’t be weak in front of them. Not now, not ever. I remember the second I gave up screaming at the police when I realised that they didn’t care and that no one here will help us.

Familiars are nothing but a problem to mankind. A joke whispered in the halls of my university.

Familiars are another race which are small and helpless, and why would people fear them and treat them right? People don’t help those in need; they simply admire the rich and those in control.

It’s just like when our parents died, when we needed help the most. Helpless orphans that everyone looked the other way from because our family was struggling, we were at the lowest point of our lives.

No one helps the weak and pitiful.

Today, they saw Ana as a threat, as a familiar, a magical race of people who became more than any science book could ever, ever explain. But Ana would never hurt anyone; I know that in my soul. My sister is good at heart. She is the one who helps the sick and those in need.

And I’m the one who gets angry and threatens to burn the world down.

Phoebe is always stuck in the middle, even when really she should be the little sister and not acting like the middle one.

“Miss…” someone pauses to clear his throat. I briefly eye the police officer who is speaking, and it makes me so mad that my teeth clatter for a second and I see nothing but red. “Today has been traumatic for you, and we have counsellors that can help. How did you know the new familiar?”

“Her name is Anastasia Noble, not just some familiar nobody, and no counsellor is going to make me okay with the fact you stole my sister!” I snap, pushing his hand away and getting myself up. I stare at the van driving my sister away in the distance, the dozen or so police cars surrounding it, and my heart feels like it’s breaking into a million tiny pieces. I’ve waited for over a year to see my sister here at my side, to have her come to university, and for us to have a future as a family. We planned out that we would work hard and get an apartment, and then we could have Phoebe move in with us.

Phoebe. I have to tell her about Ana and then…I don’t know. What do I do next? How will I get to see my sister when she is heading to the famous Familiar Empire, where no one ever sees their relatives again. I know she will be safe…but that’s it.

Happy is another matter entirely.

I’ve never known much about familiars, but now is the best time to learn, it seems. The police officer is still talking, like a dumbass, and I hold a hand up in his face, not caring how disrespectful it is in this moment.

“What is your name?” He pauses in his no doubt rehearsed speech to ask me.

“Bethany Noble, and I’m going home. Don’t try to stop me,” I coldly tell him, and he nods, stepping aside. This is a job for him, and he really doesn’t give a shit, and we both know it. I am the strong one of our family; I had to be when we lost our parents, and my sisters needed someone to look up to. Being strong is in my blood, in my soul.

The university is a blur as I run to my room, shoving the door open and trying not to cry when I see wine and the red dress I had left out for Ana. I had this great night planned for us, and now I don’t even know when I’m going to see my sister again, let alone show her the world. Thick tears fall without my permission as I pick the wine bottle up and throw it across the room. It smashes into the wall above my bed, cracking into pieces, and the red wine drips down the white walls.

“Bethany, open up!” Damon’s deep voice shouts as he bangs the door a few times. Fuck, this is the last thing I need. Damon is a one-night stand that somehow turned into my best friend in the space of two weeks, but he is a mystery to me. Cold and collected, attractive and full of secrets…he is every girl’s wet dream. Damon is a teaching assistant, which makes him forbidden, and I love that. It helps that he is good in bed too.

I just don’t want to see him right now with everything that just happened. My head feels like a million thoughts are swirling around inside it, and god knows not all of the thoughts are good. I wipe some of the tears away as he continues to bang the door, and I pull it open, glaring at him. His black hair is wavy, strands flickering in every direction like he just rolled out of bed. Wearing his black leather jacket, black denim jeans and a white tee with his sunglasses held in it, he looks like a bad guy from a movie set.

And this is exactly why I ended up in his bed.

“Was that your sister? Did she become a familiar today?” Damon asks, and I nod once. In seconds I’m in his arms, pressed tightly against his chest as I cry some more. Eventually I push him away, and he steps back. “Fuck, it will be okay, Beth.”

“How could it be okay? My sister is a fucking familiar, and I will never see her again. Ana and Phoebe are all I have in this world, and I’ve just lost part of my small family I can’t get back,” I blurt out. “I’m so mad at them! How could they just take her away from me? Why couldn’t I get a chance to say goodbye?”

“Look, get some sleep, and I will call my uncle. He is a familiar and might know how you could see Ana again,” he suggests, brushing some of my hair from my eyes. “I’m going to fix this, trust me.”

For a second, hope bangs in my heart. “Really? You’d do that for me?”

“There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for you, Beth,” he replies with a cheeky grin before he leaves my apartment. I change into joggers and a vest top before cleaning up my room and eventually just sitting on the bed, staring at nothing until someone knocks my door. I go to answer it just as a strange feeling shoots down my arm. Pain hits me like a brick, and I scream as my hand burns and I fall to the floor.

Links to the series and to continue reading-

The Missing Wolf-

The Dying Wolf-

The Shadow Wolf-

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