Watching her fall asleep on my chest, like a kitten nestled in my arms, made my heart swell with content and serenity. Never before in my life had the sight of a sleeping person brought me so much joy. But she was not just any person- she was my spitfire, alive and safe in my embrace. And she was magnificent, down to her cute snoring as she was finally getting some rest.
Every cell in my body, every neuron in my brain protested when I had to leave my sleeping beauty alone in bed, but there were still many things that I needed to get sorted back at the sleuth.
On top of that, the doctor had been strict in his instructions about letting her recover properly. My mate lick healed her wound, yet she had lost a serious amount of blood. Coupled with all of the revelations from the past day, it was no surprise that she was completely exhausted. Not to mention that Riley probably had a thousand more things left to tell her- or show her around the Windcrest pack- so it was best to leave my mate with her best friend for the moment, even if I wanted nothing more than to take her home and introduce her to my world.
Picking up the nearest pen and piece of paper, I quickly scribbled a note, leaving it on the pillow next to her where I previously lay. Our bond pulled at me to kiss her goodbye, but I did not want to risk waking her up.
Still, my lips turned upwards in a blissful smile when I brushed the unruly strands of hair from her face and I took one last look at my mate. Goddess, she was my heaven.
When I finally made it back to the sleuth, the first thing that I did was convene a meeting with Jack and the bears who stayed behind to deal with the aftermath of my face off with the men who went after Scar and me.
All of them were human and stood very little chance against Mahon and me, especially after they dared harm our mate, but what bothered me was the mystery of how they managed to find my mate. Even more so, what were they doing with the two rogue wolves? Did they know about the existence of our world?
“Alpha, can we speak in private?” Jack asked after our meeting ended.
If his scrunched up face was any indicator of what was bothering him, it was not good news that he wanted to share with me. I waved for him to follow me as I led him to my private study.
“How is Scarlett doing, Callum?” His concern for my mate touched me, even if I knew that as my closest friend and Beta, I could always count on Jack to protect my mate if I was ever not around.
I grabbed my favourite bottle of scotch and poured us each a drink before I slumped into my chair.
“Good. I left her to rest with the Windcrest pack. That girl is a fighter, I tell you that- you should have seen how she went after those guys, most almost twice her size, with nothing but a folding chair.” I could laugh at the memory now, as long as I didn’t think about what happened after.
“That explains the chair we found,” Jack chortled, but he must have read my mind because his smile disappeared as quickly as it had shown up. “How are you, Cal?”
My eyebrows shot up in surprise- I hadn’t expected his question. “Me? I’m fine. Why would you even ask?”
“Because I saw you in that cabin, Callum. I have known you since we were kids, but I had never seen you so distraught before. The pain was etched on your face, and I could feel your soul fall apart. I can’t even imagine what I would do if anything happened to my Mara, even after years of being together, and you almost lost your mate who you had just found.”
I shook my head in a desperate attempt to fend off the dark memories. I didn’t want to dwell on the raw emotions that took hold of me at that moment. Living through it all once was torture enough, and I couldn’t bring myself to think about it again.
“The important thing is that she is safe and sound,” I stated, cutting that topic short. “But I need to make sure it stays that way, so I hope you have something for me.”
“End of that discussion, Jack. Do you have any news for me or not?”
“I do, Alpha. The rogue wolves- we interrogated them after you and Scarlett were taken. They didn’t want to speak, to begin with, but our bears had no issues in using any means necessary to find their Alpha and future Luna.”
Despite my best efforts to avoid violence unless it was absolutely necessary, I couldn’t fault my men and women for using whatever gruesome interrogation technique that they needed to get the information from those wolves.
“They were paid to locate Scarlett here and to hand her over to the humans,” Jack added and I could see the concern in his eyes.
My blood ran cold. Why would anyone from our world want to get to Scarlett? Unless they were trying to get to me, but that didn’t make sense either because very few people knew about her being my mate until she disappeared. And then there was something else.
“How did they know that she was in Scotland?”
Riley had already told me that the agents in London had made sure that all Flame’s tracks were covered. Even they themselves didn’t know her exact location.
“A warlock. She performed a location spell and pinpointed the area, but they couldn’t get the exact location because they did not have anything belonging to your mate. And then...” He paused, struggling to continue. “You are not going to like this, Callum.”
I watched my mate nearly die in front of my eyes the day before. Did Jack really think there was something that could get to me even more after that?
“Spit it out, Beta.”
“They got wind that she has been spotted in the area with you, and so eventually they found someone from our sleuth who apparently was not happy about you finding your mate and agreed to help them drive her away from here. He just needed to get her out of the pub and they were going to take care of the rest of it.”
Red. I saw bloody fucking red. Someone from my own sleuth, one of my bears, had betrayed not only their Luna but also their Alpha. I was ready to make the traitor pay with his life.
“Who was it, Jack?”
His jaw stiffened. “I’m sorry, Callum- we don’t know. The description they gave us matches a few of our men but it’s not enough to narrow it down to anyone specific.”
Rage coursed through my veins while Mahon roared in my head. Without even thinking, I grabbed everything on my desk and threw it off it, my tumbler smashing into countless pieces as it hit the nearby wall.
“Find the fucker, Jack, and bring him to me,” I growled.
My right-hand man nodded in silence. “There is more.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? What else?” This was just one bad news after another.
“The wolves. We got to them pretty bad so it didn’t take a lot for them to tell us that they were paid a seven-figure amount to get Scarlett.”
My eyes widened. Nothing made sense. Rogue wolves and humans working together. Someone from my sleuth betraying me. And now discovering that whoever was behind all of this paid crazy money to get Flame! What was going on?
“Do they know who paid them?” I asked impatiently as I continued to think out loud. “It can’t be her ex-boss. If it were him, he would have had his man locate her. Unless he knows about the supernatural world...but then he would have just asked the wolves to take care of her. Why pass her on to his goons?”
“That’s what I thought as well. The wolves assured me that they have no clue who their client was- and I am willing to believe them because we left them no choice but to speak the truth- but they recognised that everything about that deal, from the way they were contacted to the money transfer, screamed demonic sources. Even the warlock was arranged by their client.” Jack paused and looked at me, his face dead serious. “Whoever paid them is a demon, Cal, and not a low-level one.”
Mahon and I were both ready to erupt after everything that Jack told me. The betrayal by one of our own angered us to the point of wanting to rip someone’s head off, but I had to keep my cool because my bears could not see their Alpha lose his shit like that. So I did the best thing I could come up with to calm us both down- I shifted and went for a run, letting my bead roam freely in the woods around the sleuth.
It was almost the evening when I returned to my cabin, so I jumped in the shower before grabbing some dinner. The run did both Mahon and me good, diffusing our rage enough to get through tonight at least.
Tomorrow was another day to deal with the traitor and the demon after my mate. Right now, I just wanted to clean myself up and get something to eat before I could get back to Windcrest to see Flame. The day that we had spent apart made me long for her even more- if it was even possible- and I wanted nothing more but to go over there and be with her, even only for a little while.
Lost in my thoughts about my mate, I dried myself and put on a pair of jeans as I made my way over to the kitchen. When I opened my fridge, I realised that Catriona was right- if the miserable sight inside was anything to go by, I really did need my mate’s touch in this cabin.
The smell of an overly-sweet female perfume filled up my nostrils, making me growl- I had an unexpected visitor when I was really not in the mood for one. The fridge shook as I smacked the door with irritation and I walked into my living room to find Jade, one of the sleuth’s she-bears, standing in the middle of it.
The light blue trench coat that she wore covered her slender figure and whatever clothes she was wearing underneath. I was surprised to find her in my cabin with high-heels and make-up, ready for a night out. We hadn’t really interacted that much since she joined the sleuth last year after Catriona and one of my other advisers found her and her friends wandering around our woods as lone bears.
“Jade. This is an unusual visit. How may I help you?”
Her eyes were fixated on me, drinking me in with a lusty desire which I had not expected. She looked like a woman on a mission, about to jump on me. I couldn’t understand what brought this behaviour on because I had never given Jade any indication of wanting her.
“I heard that you were hurt, Alpha, so I wanted to check on you,” she said with a seductive voice, emphasising her last three words while she unbuttoned the collar of her coat.
The whole situation made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want to tell her to fuck off because she was a member of my sleuth and as Alpha, I needed to handle all situations calmly and diplomatically.
“That’s nice of you but I am fine. So you can go back to your evening plans, Jade.”
The smirk on her face was an indication that she had no plans on leaving. Instead, she continued to unbutton her coat until she revealed that she was naked underneath, aside from the skimpy red lingerie that she had on.
“What the hell are you doing?” I snapped at her, but she seemed unphased by it.
“Going back to my evening plans, Alpha- just like you told me.” Her eyes slid along my chest before her gaze stopped on my crotch, causing her to lick her lips.
Running her fingers through her hair, she undid her messy ponytail and let her brunette waves spill onto her shoulders. Without letting her eyes shift away from me, Jade peeled her coat off and threw it on my sofa, making her way slowly towards me in nothing but her high-heels and lace lingerie.
“You see, Alpha, no fragile little human will be able to satisfy you. Why settle for anything less than what you could have?”
She tried to reach for my shoulders, but I was having none of this bullshit- in a split of a second, I grabbed her hands and brought them above her head. Even if I didn’t have a mate, Jade’s behaviour would have pissed me right off. Yet, the fact that she dared to think she could come even close to my Flame angered me so much that I had to restrain myself from grabbing her by the throat.
“Listen to me-”
But before I could finish my sentence, I heard the door behind me open, followed by the loud sound of a glass shattering on the floor. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, my body knowing who I was going to find there without even needing to turn around.
Mate, Mahon roared in my mind.
My head snapped around and there she was- looking like a vision from my dreams in her black dress with two high slits that exposed her perfect legs. In her feet lay a smashed bottle of red wine, the colour of which matched the red shade on her cheeks as she watched Jade and me in a rather compromising position.
I had no idea that she was coming, nor how she found her way to my cabin but it didn’t matter anyway- I had no plans for any of this to happen and certainly not for her to see me like this. I could only imagine the thoughts that were going through her pretty little head right now.
“I’m sorry for interrupting,” she stated, her voice not giving any emotion away. Yet, her face said it all. If looks could kill, the she-bear and I would have been dead already. Then she spun on her heel and disappeared again outside.
My mate tended to storm off on me, and I was going to need to address that as soon as I caught up with her. This time I knew better than to let her cool off- I was not going to risk her getting kidnapped again or running away from me.
“Listen to me very carefully, Jade,” I growled the way that only the Alpha could when demanding complete obedience from his bears. “I don’t know what the fuck got into your head or why you came up with this pathetic crap. I will let you off this once because I have my mate to go after, but you better be gone from my cabin when I return. And if you ever put another fucking stunt like this or you dare to disrespect my mate, who is classes above you, like that again, or me, you are out of this sleuth. Did I make myself clear?”
She shivered from the anger in my voice, but she should have known better than coming here to seduce me and trying to take my mate’s place. I dropped her hands, making her stumble backwards from the motion, and rushed out of the cabin to find Flame.
As soon as I was out, I realised that I had no idea where she could have gone. I looked to all sides but there was no sight of her- just Catriona walking towards me.
“Callum, what happened?” She asked anxiously. “I saw your mate arrive and I showed her to your cabin because she was here to see you, but I just saw her run out of there like she was fleeing a fire.”
“I’ll explain later, Catty.” I placed my hands on her shoulders, trying to get her to focus. “Can you tell me which direction she went in? It’s very important.”
Despite the puzzled look she gave me, she didn’t ask any further questions and I was thankful for that because I had no time to waste.
“Of course. She went towards the new guest cabins.”
I pulled Catty towards me, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. “You are a life saviour. I’ll see you later.” And with that, I rushed to get my mate.
That was a long chapter! I don’t even know what to begin with. 😲
What the hell with the demon behind Scar’s kidnapping, and who is the bear who betrayed Callum and his mate?😱
And don’t even get me started on this Jade chick. What was she thinking?🤬 (was she even thinking?)
Yeap, things are not looking good for our favourite bear. Will he manage to convince his mate of his innocence? 🙈
It sure won’t be an easy task, knowing how hot-headed Flame is when it comes to him. Be ready for the fireworks on Tuesday!