Liam paced back and forth, flattening the grass beneath his feet.
A week had passed since they took Lorelai from him. A long week full of grief and agony. Some part of him believed that the ancient gods were punishing him for daring to believe he could have the one not destined for him. Why else would they take Lorelai from him?
But it wasn’t enough to take his love. They broke his pack too.
Rachel was inconsolable since Bethany’s passing. She had taken to sleeping outside by her grave, refusing meals and ignoring the others when they tried to help.
Sophia and James kept to themselves, huddled away in corners and speaking in hushed whispers. Liam longed to ask what it was they spoke of, but his sister’s relationship was her business and whatever path she took had to be her choice. Perhaps the gods were whispering in her ear, telling her she would be better elsewhere.
Maybe they were right.
The packhouse was silent at all times. Not even Nathan and Lucas, who usually brightened even the darkest of times, had the energy to lift the spirits of the group.
Killian was more brooding than ever, refusing to speak as he worked through his grief and guilt. Liam had tried to reassure him that none of this was his fault. He’d done everything he could to protect their home and loved ones, but the man just wouldn’t hear it.
No. The fault lay entirely at Brooke’s feet.
She was still not out of the woods yet, though he was sure she would survive. The villains of a story usually did, while the innocent suffered. And Liam considered her the villain in all this. She lead their enemies right to their doorstep, even after being warned. After begging her to be alert. She betrayed them when they needed her most and now… now they all paid the price of her stupidity.
She spent her time as a wolf, letting the beast heal her from the inside out. It was probably for the best. He didn’t want to look at her face, to hear her pathetic apologies. There was nothing she could say to make this right, and that was why he paced.
They needed to decide what happened next, her position in their pack.
If it was up to Liam, he’d kick her out on her ass and let her fend for herself. He was sure Rachel felt the same way. But he had never led his pack in such a fashion. Situations like this were the reason he’d elected a council. So these decisions could never fall on his shoulders.
But he wasn’t sure he was ready to hear anyone speak in her defence.
He looked up at the pack house and strained his ears to hear any noise from inside. Silence greeted him and he’d reached his limit.
With a growl, he turned towards the forest, shifting as he ran. He heard the satisfying tear of his clothing as his body became too big to contain it and made a beeline for the trees. The sounds of the forest were a welcome distraction as the wind whistled in his ears.
He ran with no direction, though he knew where he’d end up. Along the river was a den that was covered in Lorelai’s scent. He’d gone there every day after trying to track her. Though her scent was faint, it still lingered, and he found solace there. He was sure she’d made it before they took her, hoping to fool her captors off the track to their home. It probably would have worked had Brooke not ruined everything.
Liam had been all over the small village below their home. He’d tried to pick up any traces of Lorelai or the wolves that took her. So far, he’d found nothing, like they’d disappeared off the face of the Earth. He was on his own during his search, the others too morose to summon the energy. Even on the outskirts of the village, stretching into the moors beyond them, there was nothing. Not a faint scent, not a whiff of something familiar.
For miles and miles the hills roamed, the heather grew, and the land was lush. And Lorelai’s scent was nowhere to be found. Not even on a single leaf, a twig, a rock buried under a pile of others.
How they ever found them, Liam would never know.
It seemed there was no evidence of their existence for miles around. Far beyond the boundaries of their territory. It felt impossible. It probably was.
He slowed to a walk as he approached Lorelai’s forgotten den, filling his lungs with the scent of her. Grief hit him so hard it was crippling. He whined, a single painful sound, and pushed himself to lie on the bed of leaves she left behind.
The heavens opened up, the sound of rain hitting the water of the river doing nothing to soothe his soul as he mourned. When she was here, did she share his hopelessness? Did she wonder, as he did, if they could ever be happy again? Was her soul aching with the thought of what was to come?
He was naïve to think their luck had changed.
They were star-crossed lovers from the start. Both children of rival Alpha’s. Destined to be with other people. Not meant for each other. And yet, despite everything being against them, they’d found love, companionship. True understanding.
Why had the Fates decided that was not enough?
Who out there could bring him as much joy as Lorelai could? Or make him laugh when all else seemed doomed? There was no one else in the world who had touched his heart the way she had, no one else who could.
Why was he being punished for falling in love?
As the rain soaked through his fur, bringing a chill to his body, he realised how pathetic he’d become. Without her there, his confidence in himself, in his pack, was wavering. It occurred to him for the first time; he was out of his depth. He’d kept them going for seven years, kept them out of danger. And when they needed him most, when she needed him most, he was nowhere to be found.
He’d failed them as much as Brooke had.
He wasn’t fit to be their leader. Alpha blood may run through his veins, but he was not an one. An Alpha always had the answer, always knew what to do next. They took what they wanted for the good of their pack; they challenged all that stood in their way or opposed them. Liam…
He had no answers. He didn’t know what to do. And when their enemies came knocking, he’d been finding a ring to uphold a human tradition. He didn’t have it in him to be the bloodthirsty wolf a pack needed. Democracy was his way of handling the big decisions and he walked willingly into danger, trusting the wrong people and passing the buck.
Why had he taken Killian at his word?
Never once did it occur to him to check out the place before moving his entire pack here without a thought. Killian had mentioned the scouting, the vampires. Liam believed him when he said there was no danger for them here.
And that was his first mistake.
He had two options now. Lay down and accept his wrongdoings and the mistakes of his pack mates, or become the Alpha his group needed. No more democracy, no more playing it safe.
And Alpha took what he wanted for the good of his pack and it was time for Liam to step up to the mark. Fuck the consequences.