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Chapter 12: Wicked Games


I’d dealt with some messed up shit in the past but never pain like this. My heart felt like it was going to explode from my chest. My head was pounding, and my Wolf was howling mournfully, his agony echoing mine. So that was it. She told me everything I needed to know. And she had a foolproof plan to make everyone happy—everyone except me.

I’d told her how I felt—I wanted her as my real mate.

And she told me how she felt—she was never going to be capable of loving me.

Fuck, those words hurt.

I looked up to find myself in my office. I didn’t remember walking there. Robotically, I headed toward a $600 bottle of Bourbon I’d been saving for a special occasion, opened the top and turned it up to my lips, drinking straight from the bottle. It burned as it went down—it was precisely what I needed. Right now I needed to be numb to the world because if I unleashed the chaos inside of me, I knew I had the potential to do a lot of damage in some form or another.

I settled back into my chair and kicked my feet up on top of the desk, enjoying another long sip of the Bourbon down my throat. I coughed from the intensity of it. I was already feeling the effects. Abruptly, my office door opened and Sydney walked through. She looked me up and down and breathed, “You look like hell.”

“Very astute observation,” I snapped.

She closed the door behind her and walked around the desk, lifting on her toes, so she was tall enough to slide her butt onto the desk and settled herself near my legs. She asked knowingly, “Did it all crash and burn?”

I refused to say anything.

She took my silence as confirmation, her voice smoothing out with concern, “Leander, you knew this would happen. I understand the struggle you’ve been through. I get why you broke it off with me. You’re a noble Wolf and felt you needed to wait for her. I think somewhere in your heart, you hoped for something more, but it couldn’t have gone any other way—not with who she is. And she’s never going to change.”

She wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know.

She reached for the bottle and took it from my hands. “This isn’t what you need.” Setting the bottle aside, she leaned down to pet my chest, her face inches away from me and whispered, ”Let me give you what you need.”

I studied her expression for a long time. She wasn’t the shewolf I wanted, but apparently, I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting my mate. She waited patiently. After another long moment, I cursed, “Fuck it,” and stood to my feet.

Her eyes lit up with anticipation. I just followed her out of my office, up to her room, without saying a word. She opened the door, and I stepped inside, crossing the small living room and went straight into her bedroom and sat on the edge of her bed. Pleasantries weren’t necessary, so I just stared at her and waited.

Her mouth turned down into a small frown at my significant lack of enthusiasm, but then she rallied herself and decided a sexy striptease was just what I needed. I watched as she rolled her body, pulling her shirt over her head and her pants off. Still, I felt nothing, but maybe if I forced myself, I could break from of the hold Hycinth had over me and begin to move on just as she planned.

Stepping in front of me, Sydney placed her hands against my chest and pushed me back onto the bed, and then climbed on top of me, straddling my waist. Again, her mouth turned down into a confused frown. I assumed it was because she could feel I had no erection. The answer was pretty damn simple--I didn’t want her. At all. I didn’t want any part of her.

Abruptly, I took her by the waist and tossed her off of me.

“Hey! What the hell, Leander?!”

I stood to my feet and turned to face her on the bed. I snarled, “I don’t want this...and I don’t want you...this was a mistake.”

Her eyes flashed angrily.

I didn’t give a shit. I just walked out and wandered back through the house until I reached the study. Stepping inside, I found my father in his usual chair, holding his usual glass. He looked up at me and then his eyebrows rose in surprise as his nostrils flared. I knew what he smelled, and the scent disgusted me. He muttered, “What the fuck are you doing? Are you just trying to screw this up? You know my thoughts on your mate. I don’t give a shit what your reasons are there, but a lot of wolves are depending on you. The claiming ceremony is important!”

I laughed bitterly, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. I’ve got it in the bag. Hycinth would like to go through with the ceremony now. On the conditions that I do not get her pregnant, she doesn’t mark me, and she gets her freedom as soon as it’s over.”

“Fuck,” he breathed, his lip twitching. ”She’s got it all planned out, doesn’t she?”

I recognized the appreciation in his eyes at her strategy and snapped, “Don’t get all impressed with her now. She’s going to be gone in little over a month.”

His face fell, concern in his eyes. “Son, I hate that you’re hurting. But you know it’s better this way. There are just too many obstacles in both of your paths. Maybe it’s time to cut your losses.”

“You’re right,” I exhaled slowly and made my way toward the door, might as well get it over with.

“Whoa. Slow down there, son. You can’t go back to that shewolf smelling like you do. I don’t care who she is or what she wants or what her plan is. I know shewolves. And if you walk in smelling like that, she’s going to have your head.”

He was right. I let out a sound of frustration.

“Just go to my room, take a shower, and put on fresh clothes. I’m sure you’ll find something that fits you in my closet. And then go take care of your business.”

I walked out of the study and headed to his room.


Once I finished showering and changing, I headed back to my room.

Hycinth glanced up sharply when I entered the door. Her eyes wandered over my change of clothes and wet hair, but she didn’t ask any questions. She whispered, “Are you still angry with me?”

I shook my head. I didn’t have it in me to be angry right then. She tracked me with her eyes as I went into the closet to take off the borrowed clothing and put on a pair of boxer shorts to sleep in. When I emerged, her eyes made the usual course, over my chest down to my stomach, and back up again. I joined her on the bed and said in resignation, “Okay, it’s a deal.”

“Oh.” Her eyebrows rose in surprise. She murmured, “I didn’t think that was going to be your answer.”

I didn’t want to get into it again, so I just said, “We should schedule the announcement ceremony for tomorrow.”

“What happens at the announcement ceremony?” she asked curiously.

“It’s tradition for me to mark you in front of the pack, announcing the upcoming claiming ceremony. It’s normally a time of celebration for the wolves, and they’ll bring gifts of appreciation.”

“Okay,” she whispered, fiddling with one of the moonstones on her collar.

“Come here,” I murmured.

She looked at me with wide eyes but did what I asked her, moving closer to me. I reached around to the back of her neck and undid the locking mechanism, pulling the collar away. Her eyes remained large as I asked, “There’s no need for this now, is there?”

“No,” she breathed. “I’m not going to run.”

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