Deleted Scene from Bound, Turning Moon #1
Don't spoil the fun by reading this deleted scene unless you've already enjoyed Bound.
This scene takes place in the aftermath of the demon, Yannek, hauling Simon Northfell into his hell dimension. Shaken and disorientated, the pack gather to decide their next move, but crushed by guilt, Michael Vincent makes a life-altering decision, one his pack doesn't expect.
I wavered over cutting this scene, but eventually made the decision to leave it out of the final draft as it just didn't sit right with me at the time. It did inspire the storyline behind Released however, and even before I had finished Bound, I began to wonder how Michael would overcome his guilt. The answer, of course, can be found in Released, Turning Moon #2!
Deleted scene from Bound, Turning Moon #1.
The aftermath of Simon Northfell’s violent departure from Blackwater Ridge.
The moment Simon Northfell’s binding spell lifted, Michael scrambled to his feet and fled the pack house. Trapped by invisible binds, he’d been slumped in the hallway outside the dining room, frozen in place as Northfell had summoned the demon. In abject terror, he’d listened to the rasp of its double-toned voice, heard the horror of Northfell’s plan to force Nyah into carrying and birthing mutated pups, and then the screams—hollers that told him Northfell’s plan had failed. Whatever the demon had done to Northfell, it negated the magick he’d used. Michael suddenly found himself in control of his body again—pathetic control, but enough for him to escape the house. He’d only made it as far as the treeline when rubbery legs dropped to him into a sobbing heap by the base of a pine. Over and over, he’d retched against the revulsion of what he’d done, his empty stomach producing nothing but sour bile.
Blake had found him. He’d tried to haul him upright, coax him out to the pack house lawn, but Michael had pushed him away. He deserved no sympathy, no friendship, no support. Blake argued, vehemently insisting Michael wasn’t responsible for the deaths of Eddie and Leanne Stone; Northfell had used him as his puppet, so only he held the blame. But no matter how Blake pleaded, the fact remained that Michael had killed two of his pack members. Attempting to soften the violence of his actions by shifting the onus onto Northfell changed nothing. Eddie and Leanne Stone had died by his hands.
Wisely, Blake let him be. Alone again, Michael watched as Nyah emerged from the pack house. Dazed by shock, she stumbled over the threshold of her childhood home. Dean Carson had her hooked to his side. He quickly steadied her, pausing when she halted on the porch to blink at her surroundings. Michael knew exactly how she felt as she sucked in a shaky breath; unsure if the weakness in her limbs meant she was about to faint, vomit, or release a never-ending scream of terror.
“Take your time,” Dean murmured.
When her eyes slid shut, Michael’s lips parted to cry out a warning; nothing but violent reminders of what they’d witnessed waited in that darkness. But Nyah was tougher than he. With a measured exhale, she gave Dean a tiny smile of assurance, and said, “I’m okay.” And she was. Nyah Morgan was the fiercest she-wolf Michael had ever known. She’d emerge stronger than any of them would—himself included.
From the murky shadows of Blackwater Ridge, pack members appeared from their homes, wandering out into the dark streets, where the instinct to gather herded them into a cluster. They formed a ragged, shaken group on the lawn of the pack house. Every face creased or twisted under disorientation as they woke from their shared nightmare, horror fracturing their voices as they muttered to one other. Michael lowered his gaze to avoid their gestures that he join them. Hunkered against the pine, his legs ached from the cramped position he held, but the support against his back brought comfort, and he wasn’t yet physically able to stand and lope into the forest.
As if afraid the very timbers of the house had absorbed Northfell’s evil, no-one dared move beyond the grass. Where Nyah sat, Dean hunkered by her side, his jacket over her shoulders. To her right, Karen sipped on a glass of water as Blake rubbed her back. He’d led her outside only moments ago. How she’d survived being possessed by the demon, Michael couldn’t comprehend.
“Honestly,” she insisted, “I don’t remember a thing. I’m okay, really, I am.”
Wishing he shared that luxury, Michael shuffled around, turning away from his pack. By law, he shouldn’t even be alive. They should have shredded him to pieces already. Instead, they granted him space to sit and gather himself—not that much of him remained to gather; body and mind had shattered. If someone were to land him a hard enough blow, he could picture himself disintegrating on impact.
“Michael? Join us out here. Don’t sit alone. We all need to be together right now.”
Nyah’s gentle plea had him cringing with shame. Angling himself farther away, he peered at where night beckoned in the forest’s depths. They weren’t all together; the pack was two members short, and his continuing presence was inappropriate. With his stomach tightening into another griping clench, Michael staggered upright and stumbled into the trees.
Dawn breached the horizon with a slash of watery yellow before he dared to shift back to human form. For a while, as he’d endeavoured to create as much distance as he could between himself and Blackwater Ridge. His fractured mind even conned him into believing the events were nothing more than a harrowing nightmare. Desperate for the solace of his mundane life, he’d turned away from the lure of the distant mountain ranges, convinced he’d arrive home to see Blackwater Ridge stirring awake, houses intact, and families whole. But the stink of death and evil had soured the air as soon as he’d neared the pack land.
With hope crushed, Michael crept through the trees, shocked to discover the pack still gathered outside. Remnants of shared food lay around them; plates littered with half-eaten meals, flasks and mugs, bottles of water, and a lot of alcohol. It seemed liquor had proved the most palatable. A large cardboard box held empty beer cans and several empty spirit bottles. Where Justin and Blake sat amongst a small group, a bottle of whisky rounded the circle, each member taking a swig as it came their way. Just as he moved to retreat, Blake’s sharp hearing picked up on where Michael’s heel cracked a twig.
“Michael? Is that you?” He squinted into the trees. “There you are. We’ve been waiting for you.”
Murmurs from his pack announced relief. Confused by the unexpected reaction to his return, he barely registered Blake tramping towards him.
“Where did you go, brother?” Blake asked softly. “We were all concerned.”
Michael allowed himself to be drawn out of the shadows. His arrival prompted everyone to their feet. Nods and encouraging smiles greeted him.
“We talked,” Blake explained. “And we all agreed on voting in a new alpha. We need a leader, someone who’ll restore our pack, so we’ve been waiting for you to hold a Show of Hands.”
Michael nodded. Blake certainly had his vote. There was no question about it. The pack would thrive with Blake taking the lead; he’d steer them back to better days.
As Blake crossed towards the foot of the porch steps, Michael skirted the pack to hover at the rear, close to where the grass gave way to the footpath. He noted Nyah’s absence. Dean’s too. He must have already taken her to Carter Plains. She’d never return to her home pack land—not now.
“Are we ready?” Blake’s question drew a confident shared agreement from the pack. “It’s been a long time since our pack has held the traditional form of a Show of Hands, but if everyone is still happy to proceed, we’ll begin. Michael?” he called, straining to peer above the crowd. He spotted where Michael had slunk to the rear. “Just so you know, Nyah gave me permission to vote on her behalf before she left, so I’ll be voting twice.”
“Of course.” From his left, Michael felt the pressure of a stare. Leanne Stone’s sister, Maria, stood beside her husband, her gaze meeting Michael’s the second he responded to the pull. Although a quick glance, he saw enough to recognise her tightening jaw and watering eyes blamed him entirely. And rightly so, he told himself, folding his arms as he took another step back to widen himself from the group.
“Okay,” Blake said. “There’s just one nomination. So, I’ll get this underway.”
Blake hadn’t yet made beta, but he was ready and trusted enough to skip straight to alpha. Michael readied himself to raise his hand. Once he did, if Blake’s first order wasn’t to have him ripped limb to limb, he’d pack his bags and leave Blackwater Ridge behind. No-one needed to see him walking its streets, living his life as if nothing had happened.
“All those in favour of Michael Vincent leading us as alpha, show your hand.”
“What? No!” Although hoarse, Michael’s shout prompted the entire group to wheel around, their votes remaining aloft. “No,” he said again, voice cracking against the plea. “I can’t be your alpha. Not me—not after what I’ve done.”
The wall of shocked expressions parted as Blake shouldered his way through.
“Michael?” he queried as arms slowly lowered. “You’re saying no?”
“Of course I’m saying no! How could I lead this pack after what I’ve done?”
“We don’t hold you responsible. What you did was—”
“What I did was murder.” Michael’s boot heel met the path. “It should be you, Blake. Vote for Blake as your alpha,” he told the group. “Not me.”
“We chose you.” Rob, the man who’d been Alan’s delta, pushed his way forward. “Like Blake said, we don’t blame you for what happened.”
“None of us were in control,” Justin said. “We’re all suffering regret right now.”
“Did you take two pack members’ lives?” Michael asked him, seeking Maria. She flicked her gaze to the ground when he found her. “Maria. You don’t want me as alpha, do you?” Her husband, Troy, slid an arm over her shoulder.
“She voted yes,” he said.
Behind them, Eddie’s parents and younger brother watched. Michael hadn’t seen if they’d raised their hands to vote him in as alpha, but he gestured at them, asking them the same.
“The pack needs a leader,” Eddie’s father said quietly.
“But not me. It should be Blake.”
“We discussed this as a pack, and came to an agreement,” Blake announced, matching Michael step for step as he continued to back away. “There’s only one person who can lead this pack, and that’s you. We voted on it.”
“The only thing you should have voted on is who ends my life. I killed two pack members, you must take my life in response; you know the law.”
“You didn’t kill in cold blood,” Blake argued. “You weren’t even conscious. Hell—the entire pack has been unconscious for the last few weeks.”
“Blake. Eddie and Leanne are dead because of me. That’s the only truth.”
A chorus of mutters disagreed, along with Blake. “You’re wrong, Michael,” he pushed. “Not one of us feels that way.”
“Maria?” Michael motioned to where Leanne’s sister hung back, still in the comfort of her husband’s hold. “Honestly—do you want me to be your alpha? And what about you, Charles and Anna? You’re happy to allow the pack member who took your son’s life to lead you out of this horror? And you, Russell?” Michael swung his pointing finger at Eddie’s brother. “I don’t think you want to howl obedience to a wolf like me, do you?”
“I raised my hand,” Russell replied. “You were a good friend to Eddie. Never in your right mind would you have hurt him or Leanne. Blake speaks the truth; we don’t hold you responsible.”
“But I do!” Michael snapped, thumping his chest. “The blame sits squarely on my shoulders!”
“If we blamed you, would we be standing here now, asking you to lead us? Doesn’t our trust in you tell you enough?”
“It tells me you’re fools, because only fools could look past what I’ve done. I deserve nothing of your trust. Choose another alpha. It won’t be me.”
“There is no-one else,” Blake argued.
“No.” Blake’s insistence was as firm as Michael’s. “I’m not ready. I don’t want it.”
“We voted for you, Michael,” Rob said.
“We did,” another voice agreed. More joined in, all stating their support. But Michael refused to accept it. They were all out of their minds. “I don’t accept!” He cut them off. “Blake can take care of you. He’ll make a fair and trusted alpha. Choose him.” A swell of choking emotion surged through Michael. He’d backed off the path and onto the street, but the pack moved with him. Fighting for air, he ripped at where his shirt had turned to lead, girding his lungs. Straining for breath, he shoved Blake’s reach aside, gasping as his heart raced mercilessly in the shrinking cavity of his chest.
Panic detonated. In response, his wolf clawed free with a vicious snarl. Michael registered the tear of clothes, a burst of pain as bone and muscle reformed, then a shift in perspective as he abruptly found himself on all fours. With his wolf claiming dominance, he retreated, his human side mentally curling into a tight ball, head caged by arms as if a terrorised child. From the protection of his cower, he heard Blake warning the pack to retreat, to let him go.
Michael surrendered, a mere spectator as forest rushed by, sharp flashes of light announcing rising sun bursting through the undergrowth. Consumed by guilt and broken by the horrors of all he’d witnessed, he huddled into his corner of oblivion, welcoming the nothingness. His wolf cried; a long, mournful howl. Control is yours, he told his animal side, sliding deep into the abyss. All yours.