“You think we’re drunk enough for this meeting, yet?” My Gamma, Stone, asked me as he downed another whiskey at the airport bar.
“We’re werewolves, this alcohol is incapable of getting us drunk enough for Alpha Torrin.” I grumbled, pushing my glass across the bar.
“I’ve heard this guy is a real piece of work.” Stone said.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t really have a choice but to take the meeting. As one of the last packs left in Europe, he’s entitled to a certain amount of support from us.” I sighed, accepting another drink from the bartender.
“I get all that, but did it really require us to fly ten hours to Ireland?” Stone raised an eyebrow at me.
“He never leaves the country.” I shrugged, picking up my duffle bag,
“Let’s go before I find some alcohol that really will get us drunk enough.” I paid our overpriced tab while Stone located our driver.
Alpha Torrin led the only werewolf pack in Ireland and one of the few remaining packs in all of Europe. The witch trials may have been bogus, but the werewolf hunts were not. Hundreds of years ago, humans, led by vampires and witches, arranged the massacre of nearly every wolf pack in Europe.
As a result, the packs that remained are extremely pretentious and overambitious. They were starved for power and terrified of losing what little they had. They lived completely hidden and separate from the humans, preserved in the good ole 18th century. They believed in the traditional customs and laws of werewolves, including formal banquets and balls, duals for the position of Alpha, and servitude. And don’t get me started on their stance on women’s rights and equality.
The recluse Irish pack reached out to me a few weeks ago regarding a treaty between our packs. Alpha Torrin claimed that he was being encouraged by his pack to enter a more modern era of leadership. He wanted my advice and suggestions on how an American pack was run. I had my suspicions.
“Ferra was pissed that you chose to take me over her to the meeting, you know?” Stone informed me as we climbed into the car Alpha Torrin provided us.
“I didn’t want her anywhere near this guy or his pack members. Besides, she should be honored that I’m leaving the pack in her charge for the weekend.” I sighed. Ferra was not only my Beta, but my twin sister and Stone’s mate. I treated her like my Beta over my sister 99% of the time. This was not one of those times.
“Oh, you don’t have to defend your choice to me. I’m in agreement. I’m just letting you know what you’re going to have to deal with when we get home.” Stone chuckled.
“How thoughtful of you.” I grumbled.
“You’re going to be in a sour mood this entire trip, aren’t you?” Stone asked. I grunted in response,
“We leave tomorrow.” I said.
“Hell, I’m down for leaving tonight. The time difference should give us some sort of advantage, right?”
“I don’t think that’s how it works, Stone.” I looked sideways at my Gamma who only shrugged.
“Goddess, where the hell is this place? BFE?” Stone asked after we had been driving for what seemed like hours. We were deep inside the woods, driving through switchbacks and on paths that could only loosely be referred to as roads.
“I guess recluse really means recluse.” I said.
“I feel like we’re the plot line of some horror flick.” Stone was nothing if not dramatic.
“Relax, Stone. Alpha Torrin is incompetent but I doubt even he’s that stupid.”
“What do you think this guy really wants?” Stone asked, sitting back in his seat. I shrugged,
“No idea, but I doubt it’s good and I doubt I’ll agree to it.”
“What does your father say about it?”
“He said I shouldn’t go.” I replied.
My father was a fairly traditional man, but very open minded. He was eager to give up the title of Alpha when I turned 18 so he could spend more time with my mother and siblings. He was absolutely crazy about the mate bond and adored my mother. It made my siblings and I overly anxious to find our own mates. Only Ferra had been lucky enough to do so thus far.
“I figured that.” Stone said.
“He doesn’t think there are any benefits from joining in alliance with Ireland. I don’t disagree, but I would rather know what he wants than be blindsided by an ambush.” I explained.
“You think he’s planning an attack?” Stone asked.
“I don’t know what to think.” I admitted.
“Well, let’s go find out. Look, that must be the packhouse.” Stone leaned forward in his seat as he stared out my window.
We were driving down a long, winding driveway. We came to a tall, iron gate. On either side of the gate, wrapping around the packhouse, was a tall, stone wall. Once on the other side of the gate, we came face to face with a medieval castle. It was made of dark stone and gothic architecture.
“And you call me theatric.” Stone said in awe as we admired this so called packhouse,
“This place makes our packhouse look like a tiny house.” He added.
“Close your mouth, Stone, we’re not here to flatter them.” I grumbled, stepping out of the car.
Stone walked around the car and joined me just as the door to the castle opened. A tall, pale man with dim eyes and sandy hair descended the stairs and joined us on the stone driveway.
“Alpha Finn, it’s a pleasure to have you here.” The man stuck out his hands towards me,
“I’m Alpha Torrin.” He introduced himself. I shook his hand,
“This is Stone, my Gamma.” I said. Torrin looked surprised to see that I had brought my Gamma instead of my Beta, but he said nothing about it.
“Please, come inside.” Torrin’s smile was as fake as his politeness. His servants opened the heavy doors for us. I eyed them curiously, noting the bags under their eyes and the defeat in their forms; it made them appear weak.
Torrin led us to his office and introduced us to his Beta, Collins and Gamma, Patrick. His office was as impressive as the castle, I’ll admit. But, it was all for show. No real power came with the strong mahogany woodwork, delicate detailing, or expensive furnishings.
“We are having a dinner this evening in your honor, Alpha Finn.” Torrin said.
“We aren’t interested in any festivities, Alpha Torrin. We have important business to get back home to. We are only here for the night to hear your concerns.” I said sternly.
“Of course, Alpha, I understand.”
Before Alpha Torrin could go on, a sweet smell filled the room. It smelt like summer rain and raspberry champagne. I breathed in deeply and tensed in my chair. Stone looked at me sideways, raising his eyebrow in question, but I was left speechless.
The most beautiful woman I’d ever seen timidly stepped out from behind the curtains. She seemed to be hiding against the window, sheltered by the long, heavy drapes. She was wearing a dirty blue dress and white apron, looking like a petite Cinderella. Her heart shaped face was dull and lifeless, she looked even more defeated than the doormen. My heart dropped to my feet.
She had large, round green eyes that craved to sparkle and shine. Her full lips were pulled down into a permanent frown made apparent by the frown lines on her plump cheeks. She had dark auburn hair that was pulled up in a ratty bun. And, still, she was gorgeous.
“What the hell are you doing in here, girl?” Alpha Torrin shrieked at the tiny woman. She must’ve only been 5 feet tall or so, way too small to be a werewolf.
Her face twisted with disgust and torment as she stumbled away from Torrin’s advances. I studied her face for fear but found none. She was defiant and strong. Torrin quickled descended on her, grabbing her arm sternly and tossing her to the side.
She bumped into the wall and the sound took me from my trance. I roared viscously, crossing the room in one stride. I grabbed Torrin by the throat and threw him across his own office, planting myself in front of the beautiful creature with green eyes and auburn hair.