“Dad? What the fuck are you doing?” I muttered the minute I shifted back into my human form.
He followed suit, glaring at me as pushed himself to his feet. “Stopping you from making the biggest mistake of your life. That girl is trouble. Don’t let her drag you down too.”
“You’re really going to say that to me, after all that you’ve done to her?”
“Me? I haven’t done a fucking thing to her.”
“Give it a rest. I’ve read the letter that Thomas left.”
“You can play innocent with me, that’s absolutely fine. But I know what letter, and you damn sure know what letter.”
“It can’t be the letter I think it is, because I possess the only copy, and I saw to it that no other person would read it.”
“You would do well to remember that you’re not the only cunning and manipulative person in this world. Thomas made a copy and hid it. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was having the house redone to make it more appealing for Grace, I would have never found it myself.”
“You’re lying. If you read the letter I’m talking about, there would be no way you could stand in front of me right now.”
I gritted my teeth, preventing myself from snarling at him. He was still my father, and he was still my elder. The wolf in me both wanted his blood and wanted to show respect for the Alpha that raised us.
“Believe me, old man, it’s taking all my strength to hold back my wolf and not tear your throat out where you stand. Trust me when I say I know everything, and you will pay for the crimes you committed against Grace. You all will. But for now, I have more pressing things to attend to - mainly bringing my mate back where she belongs.”
I spun on my heel, ready to walk away from him, but he grabbed my arm, spinning me back around to face him. “Over my dead body. That woman is trouble - she always has been. She might not have been guilty of all that we accused her of, but she is by no means a saint. You read that letter? Then you know who her family is, what she is capable of. Do you know what will happen if we allow her back here? If Khaos returns and sees her? Recognises her? There won’t be enough left of us to identify once he’s finished with us - well, maybe dental records, so long as he doesn’t feed us to his dogs.”
“I have nothing to fear from Khaos. Unlike you, I never bought into the rumours about him, and I know him better than that. I’m innocent here. I had no idea that Grace was his cousin, I had no idea that her family was anything other than what I was told. Until a few hours ago, Thomas was her father and Helen was her mother. I had never heard of Fang, or Alpha Grey, or any other member of that miserable pack. The guilt here lies firmly at the feet of you three - and as the other two are already dead, I can understand your fears.”
“So that’s what it’s come to, has it? You would allow Khaos to destroy me, all for the sake of some floozy that anyone could have with a few words? Please--”
“You will not speak about her like that,” I interrupted, seizing the front of his shirt and hurling him forward, bringing my face close to his. “That is my mate, and you will show her the respect that is her due.”
“You bring her back here, Duke, and I’m gone. You will be choosing her over me.”
“So be it,” I muttered back, pushing him away from me.
“Your mother would be disgusted. I promised her on her deathbed that I would protect you. She gave her life to bring you into this world, and this is how you’re going to repay her?”
“She gave her life to bring your heir into the world, and how did you repay her? By bedding every woman in a five-mile radius. Get out of my way.” I demanded, pushing past him.
I hadn’t walked far when I heard the cracking of bones behind me and knew that he was shifting into his wolf. Refusing to give anything away, I glanced at the shadows on the floor, watching the distorted blackness creep closer to me as my father - my father - prepared for his sneak attack.
When he was mere inches away from me, I made my move. I watched his shadow as he leapt into the air, and I bent low at the waist, curling my upper body into a protective ball, rolling out of the way so that Stephen met with thin air.
He fell to the ground with a thud, but like the true Alpha he was, he recovered quickly, spinning on me with lightning speed.
My wolf kicked in. I ran forward, my clothes already beginning to rip from my body as my wolf took over. I leapt into the air, and by the time I met my father, I was already in wolf form, meeting him wolf for wolf, ready for combat, for the first time in our history.
He lashed out at me, clawing down my face with his razor-sharp nails. My wolf let out a howl, not out of pain, but rather sheer anger that he would try such a dirty trick with us.
I lowered my head and sat back on my hind legs, bringing a paw up to my face and batting the wound, allowing him to think that he had wounded us. If he wanted to play dirty, I would play the same game.
He followed suit, sitting back on his hind legs and puffed out his chest with pride. He looked at me and raised his snout, letting out a snort of derision. I could almost hear his thoughts raging about how useless I was and how easily I could be defeated. But also, his ego wouldn’t allow him to go unnoticed. He was mentally praising himself right now - he was an old wolf, retired even, but he still had it.
I let him preen, left him to enjoy his brief moment of glory. And then I lunged.
As he was busy with her self-admiration, I went in for the attack. I latched on to his neck and dug my canines in, feeling the skin split around my teeth. But I wasn’t ready to kill him yet. Not by a long shot.
I clenched my jaw, firming my grip on his neck, and brought my snout down with a jerk. Stephen was unprepared for the force of my movements and was helpless to do anything other than follow me, otherwise he risked me ripping his throat out here and now.
He came with me and moments before my neck hit the ground I released him and used both of my front paws to slam into the back of his head, stunning him as he hit the floor nose-first.
“This can end now. We can both go our separate ways. I will bring Grace back, and we will live together as the Luna and Alpha mates we should have always been. Or we can continue, and you can lose your life.”
Stephen looked at me then, his eyes still slightly unfocused. “I said over my dead body,” he linked back to me, shaking his head from side to side to help him focus. ”And I meant it. I’d rather see you both dead than allow you to make a fool of me and this entire pack.”
“Have it your way.”
I attacked again, but not as he expected.
From his stance, I could tell that he thought I was going to go in for the kill, attack him from the front for another chance to lock myself onto his neck.
I wasn’t stupid.
He may be retired, but he was a fine Alpha in his day - both fierce and deadly, like an Alpha should be. Hundreds of wolves would have tried to same trick before me, and hundreds would have failed. I wasn’t about to become another statistic.
Instead, I darted to the side, making a sharp right-angle turn back towards him and attacked his flanks. Before he had a chance to defend himself, I sunk my teeth into the fleshy mound above his hind legs and shook my head, taking a thick piece of flesh with me.
He twisted then, howling out in pain as his legs tried to buckle beneath him. I jumped backwards, retreating a safe distance away from him. An injured wolf was an unpredictable wolf, and I could afford to take no chances.
Taking my time, careful not to attract attention to myself, I continued to shimmy backwards, my eyes locked onto Stephen as he circled, positioning himself so that his wounded leg was protected and out of my reach.
When I had gotten a few metres away from him, I charged forward, startling him with my speed.
He dropped his chest to the floor, keeping his rear high in the air, even though it must have been torture on his leg. But he was ready to attack, ready for the offence that was coming his way.
But I was nothing like he was expecting. I was not predictable.
I jumped high in the air, leaping straight over his body as he began bobbing on his back paws. He was ready to propel himself forward to meet me, but I had other plans.
To give him his due, he tried to recover quickly, rolling onto his back as I jumped over his body, giving his best attempt at swiping at my lower belly with his claws. It was a clever move, but he was just a split second too late. And unfortunately, that split second left him incredibly vulnerable.
The moment my front paws hit the floor, I was spinning, already changing direction before my back legs had the chance to meet the ground again. I charged forwards, my nails sinking into the mud and ripping the grass out from its roots with the force of my movements.
I was on him in a second. I ran down the side of him, scraping my claws down him as I did so. I stumbled at the end, struggling to balance on three paws, but it didn’t matter. The damage was done.
I turned slowly, seeing Stephen on his back, the blood pouring from the wound I had just created on his chest. His fur turned darker as the blood thickened, creating a sticky pool down his body.
I sloped forwards and stuck my paw into his chest, digging around until I found the beating organ I was looking for. I could feel it beating away underneath the protection of his ribcage.
I grinned my wolf’s smile at Stephen and then I shifted, straddling his wolf in my human form.
“It’s not too late. The healer can fix this. But you need to show Grace the respect that she’s owed. He locked eyes with me and shook his head.
I simply grinned, and then rained blow after blow down on his ribs, cracking them beneath my fists. I could almost hear his anguished screams. “Still no?” He shook his head once more, and I grabbed the shattered ribs and ripped them apart - never before had I been so thankful for the extra strength we possessed as werewolves.
I pushed through the ribs and organs and found the beating lifeline I was looking for. I locked eyes with him and gave a squeeze, tugging on it gently, allowing my hand to shift so I had my wolf claws, digging in sharply.
“How about now? Are you ready to submit? To accept me as the Alpha and show nothing but admiration and pride for the mate I bring home?”
I didn’t give him a chance to answer. I tugged his heart again, hearing the snap as it disconnected from the arteries, leaving him to bleed out.
I fell back and shifted back into my wolf, allowing him full control. He fell to his side and rolled around in the blood that pooled on the ground, making sure every last hair on our body was covered in the thick, oozing gore. I had often made the threat that I would bathe in my enemy’s entrails. Stephen was understanding just exactly what that meant.
Slowly, like the true predator we were, we walked back towards the pack, howling out our victory. I saw doors open as wolves left their houses, came running back from the training grounds, the school. Everyone obeyed the order in my howl.
I heard the gasps of surprise as they drank in my appearance, followed by the gob smacked silence when they recognised the scent that was coating me.
One by one, the wolves bowed their head and leaned to the side, showing me their necks.
“Alpha Stephen has fallen. Dead by my hands,” I protected to each and every one of them over the mind link. “I’m going to retrieve my mate, and then I’ll be back to deal with any remaining wolves that were involved in her betrayal. If you have any sense, you will be long gone before I get back. Stephen was my father, and so I went easy on him. You will not be so lucky.”
I was finally the Alpha I was supposed to be. No more Stephen breathing down my neck, questioning my every movement, undermining my authority. I had proven myself. It was brutal, and it was evil, but in the world of the wolves, I had just secured myself the ultimate level of respect. Woe betide anyone that tries to stand in my way.