Camila looked like she had been beaten, purple and blue marks littering her skin. I didn’t feel any sympathy for her. I wished that I could say that I did, it felt wrong in my chest to think I felt vindicated but I felt what I felt. She had been against me from the moment she had laid eyes on me in Rhys’s house. This woman had wanted my mate for herself and thought me below everyone because I had been born a human. She had endangered more than my life with her selfish pursuits, and now she was going to reap the consequences of her choices.
“You know why you are here, Camila?” Rhys questioned. The pack stood by surveying the scene, gazes of judgement cast in her direction. She would find no friends among them. It didn’t matter that I was human, anymore. I was their Alpha’s mate and their future Luna. They would either fall in line or they would be forced to recognize my position.
“I do, Alpha.” She dropped her head, going to her knees, “Please forgive me.”
“You are beyond forgiveness. If I had my way you would be dead. You deserve death.” Rhys growled.
Camila flinched, digging her fingers into the dirt as if that would keep her from breaking apart, “Alpha, Please...”
“But...I am going to spare your life only because that is what Dove has asked of me.” At his words, she lifted her tear stained face, glassy eyes shifting from Rhys to me. We stared at each other in silence, before she dropped her head in shame. It shouldn’t have been this way but she had made her choices, and her jealously and greed had driven her to this point. I didn’t and wouldn’t feel bad for her. I was satisfied that in knowing I didn’t have any more blood on my hands.
“Instead you will be banished from this pack, and my territory. If you ever show your face around here again...” Rhys took a step forward, the air around him seeming to vibrate with the fury that he was containing, “I will make sure that you suffer the punishment that you’ve escaped because of the kindness of my mate. My mercy will be given this once.”
Camila lifted her face toward Rhys, “Alpha...” I could hear her need to plead for his forgiveness. I didn’t know anything about banishment but for creatures who had the need to be in a family group. To be forced to leave and barred from returning would be painful, perhaps for some worse than death.
Rhys took a step back, “Mother, she’s all yours.” He turned his back as Astrid stepped from the crowd, eyes fixed on Camila.
“Luna Astrid, I didn’t...”
Astrid silenced her with a strike from the back of her hand, “Silence. I’ve heard enough lies from your traitorous tongue. You know what it means to be banished, open your mouth but don’t speak.”
Camila lifted her face, body trembling as she opened her mouth as she had been ordered to do. I watched as Astrid reached in and grabbed hold of a canine tooth, “For betraying your Alpha.” She ripped it free from the root. I had to turn away at the scream of pain that echoed out.
Rhys wrapped his arm around my shoulders, pulling me close to his body, “Don’t worry, they will grow back in a couple of months...” He whispered to me as if that made me feel better about the barbaric act, “I know you don’t want to watch but it’s almost over.”
I gritted my teeth and forced myself to turn back with a deep frown as Astrid took the other canine, “For betraying the pack.” Another broken cry fell from Camila’s lips, before she fell forward, silent sobs shaking her weathered body. She was the perfect example for what happened to those that broke the rules of the Alpha, the perfect example for what happened to those that tried to reach for power that was never meant to be theirs.
“Get up, Camila” Astrid commanded, barely giving the female time to grieve over her mistakes and what had been lost because of her choices. Slowly, Camila pulled herself up off the ground, wavering on her feet as blood slipped from her mouth and down chin. She stared forward with a hollow look in her eyes, “It’s time for you to run on.” Camila stumbled a step back before turning away from Astrid, legs walking her forward toward the tree line. The crowd moved with her, like hungry predators nipping at her heels. I stood beside Rhys, watching as they all disappeared from view the sound of hunting howls carrying on the breeze.
“They aren’t going to kill her, right?”
“I gave you my word, Dove. They won’t kill her.” He turned us back toward the house as a familiar truck parked behind Rhys SUV. The large scarred up alpha got out of the driver’s side, slamming the door behind him.
“Kendrick.” Rhys greeted, “Glad you could make it. You just missed the fun.”
He snorted at the comment, lowering his gaze to me, “How are you?”
I gave him a gentle smile, leaning into Rhys, “I’m getting better. How are Angel and the baby?”
“They’re doing well. Both of them are strong. Thank you, Dove.” Kendrick lowered his head into a respectful bow, “Angel told me about what happened and what you were willing to do for her. If you or Rhys ever need anything, you need only ask.”
I didn’t know how to respond to the sudden show of gratitude. I gave a tight smile, “I only did what anyone else would have in that situation.”
Kendrick lifted his face, “Seriously, thank you.”
I gave a stiff nod, feeling slightly uncomfortable, “You’re welcome.”
“Now, that you got that out of the way. We can move on to why I really asked you to come here, which wasn’t to kiss up to my female. That my guy found something, Kendrick...“Rhys said to Kendrick with a firm expression set on his face, “I need you to know that it might not be her...”
“Anything. I’ll take anything you have.” The words came out rushed and breathless. I understood where that feeling came from. It felt like a punch in the gut every time I tried to think about what it would feel like if I lost Rhys. I knew I would go to the ends of the earth if there was a silver of a chance that I could get him back. Rhys’s fingers slid up my arm, sensing my distressed thoughts. I turned my face, giving him a tense smile.
The corner of his mouth turned up for me before he focused his attention back on Kendrick, Rhys pulled an envelope from his back pocket, holding out, “This female is working at a travel agency about forty miles from here. Something else you should know, Kendrick...in case it is your Maya...”
Kendrick snatched the envelope from his outstretched hand, fumbling to open it, “What?”
“Turns out she was in some kind of accident, left in a coma for a bit...” Rhys spoke slowly, “I guess she can’t remember anything from before she woke up, nothing.”
Kendrick stiffened, looking toward Rhys, “I gave her the bite two weeks before the attack...you’re saying she doesn’t...she hasn’t...”
“The accident...the trauma may have left the wolf dormant. There’s one more thing, Kendrick...“I felt bad for the man, all of the news must be overwhelming for him, “She has a kid, a boy...”
Kendrick stumbled back a step, “I’m a father?”
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