Don't Test Me
The sun was barely on the horizon when I approached Calla’s home. Anxiety swept over me. I wasn’t nervous about breaking up with her, just forcing her silence. She could be strong-willed when she wanted to be. I had to ensure that she didn’t say or do anything that would cause Alpha to look at Brinley with even more suspicion or hatred.
I had no idea what Brinley or her mother had done to incur my father’s wrath. I’d approached him about it once. His only reaction was to fly into a fit of rage and take his irritation out on my chest with his fists. I remembered hearing the distinct break of bones and feeling the familiar burn of cracked ribs.
I was no stranger to broken bones. Even from a shockingly young age of four, my father had felt physical punishment was a much more effective learning tool than words.
But this event had been worse. He’d been binge drinking for days. I was fifteen at the time. Brinley was only ten, and her mother had just died. There had been no funeral, no ceremony, no words of goodbye, just a grave with a crude marker that looked like it had been made out of sticks, woven together in the shape of a heart, something a little pup’s hands would have crafted.
Brinley would sit for hours in the dirt at her mother’s grave, arms wrapped around her knees, her little body rocking back and forth. She kept her face buried in her arms and never made a sound, but the scent of her tears had permeated the air around her.
At the time, I didn’t connect the two—Brinley’s mother’s death and my father’s downward spiral into alcohol. But looking back now, I wondered. The timing was too much of a coincidence.
But if he hated them, why had her death affected him so significantly? I was beginning to feel knowing this piece of the puzzle was necessary.
Ryder stepped out of the doorway of Calla’s home before I even had a chance to knock. His countenance looked haggard like he hadn’t slept. I suspected he hadn’t. Knowing my brother, he stayed awake and made sure Calla didn’t do anything to cause me harm. I’d been noticing more and more he carried himself with a level of maturity and understanding he hadn’t before, growing into the adult he would be.
Ryder’s hand automatically came up to rub his neck, where the vampires bite was hidden under the collar of his shirt. I didn’t think he realized he was even doing it. It had just become a habit when he was stressed. He spoke quietly, ”Calla’s asleep now, but when she wakes up, she’s gonna be pissed again.”
I frowned. “What did she do?”
“Screamed at me for awhile. Told me I had no right to keep her here if she wanted to leave. I just ignored her...until she tried to break out of the bedroom window. After that...” he sighed heavily. “...I tied her to the bed and put a gag in her mouth.”
My eyebrows rose. I hadn’t expected that level of fight out of her. I asked tensely, ” What did you tell her?”
“Only that you would discuss it with her when you got back.”
I nodded, thinking about the best way I should approach her.
He interrupted my thoughts, his features hard, jaw clenched. “We need to leave in two hours. Dad has been called to meet with three other packs. He wants us both to go.”
“Why? What happened?”
Ryder’s body language was making me nervous. Whatever this meeting was for, he didn’t like it.
He replied throughout gritted teeth, “The vampires. They’re getting closer. Their pattern of movement seems to indicate they are looking for something.”
“Fuck!” I hissed. I knew what he was afraid of now. The haunted look on his face said it all. I clasped his shoulder, forcing him to look at me. “I won’t let that fucker anywhere near you!”
“But what if it’s me they are looking for?” Ryder’s face contorted, fear and anxiety in his eyes as he whispered, “He said he would find me.”
“We’ll deal with this together. I will keep you safe, ” I growled. I meant it. If it was the last thing I did, I would make sure Ryder wasn’t hurt again.
He let the conversation drop, looking over his shoulder toward the door. “Do you need me to stay?”
“No, I’ll be fine. Go home. Try to get some sleep. We’ll take my truck, so you don’t have to spend the time on the road with Alpha.”
Ryder didn’t answer, just gave me a small nod and walked back toward the packhouse. I watched him leave. We still had a long day ahead of us. I needed to wrap up this conversation with Calla so that I could get home.
I sucked in a breath to steady myself and then walked through the door. Silently, I drifted down the hallway until I reached her room. Calla was still tied to the bed, but Ryder must have removed the gag sometime after she fell asleep.
I methodically began to loosen her bonds and untie the knots. She stirred and then sat straight up on the bed, glaring at me. “What the hell, Coal?! Where did you run off to? And why did you feel it necessary to send your brother over here like some kind of guard dog?!”
I ignored her questions and got straight to the point, “We’re over.”
All of her anger deflated and her shoulders slumped forward as she understood my words. Her eyes opened wide, and her lip quivered. “You can’t mean that."
“I do mean it,” I replied with my lips set in a hard thin line. “We’re done.”
“But...but why?” A single tear rolled down her face.
“You have to ask?” I snarled.
She stood to her feet, her chest pushed out, and her eyes flashed, “This is about that little bitch, isn’t it? You have feelings for her!” Her voice was thick with indignation...and accusation.
My Wolf shot to the forefront, growling savagely. He would show her who the little bitch was.
I clenched my hands into fists to keep him from jerking her head right off of her body. I gritted out, “My feelings are no longer your concern. And no, it wouldn’t matter if I had no mate or a hundred, your behavior, your thought process was despicable!”
Calla rocked back on her heels, mouth turned down in confusion. I waited for her to try to defend herself and then realized she was trying to figure out what behavior I was talking about.
“Brilliant!” I hissed, throwing my hands in the air. “You don’t even have a clue, do you?”
“Coal...” she tried to speak her soothingly. Her voice grated my ears. “Let’s just talk about this. We’ve had fights before. All couples have them. I know we can get through this. I’m sorry I got angry. Just start at the beginning. I’m listening.”
“You are no Luna!” I snapped.
The lip quiver was back. Calla waited for me to continue. Shockingly, she really had no idea.
I growled, “How could you? How could you think any shewolf deserved to be punished so severely, for something you knew wasn’t her fault? I attacked her. She defended herself! As she had every right to, and yet, you insisted being beaten was what she deserved?” Just hearing the words made me angry all over again.
Understanding came to her eyes. “So, this is about her!”
I didn’t appreciate her tone or her stupidity, and snarled, “Once again, my feelings are not relevant to this conversation, nor are they any of your business anymore. I find it appalling that even when faced with the truth of the matter—and since you can’t seem to get it when I’m nice, let me paraphrase—this is about you being a heartless bitch! I would never have you by my side as a Luna for this pack. A Luna is meant to be loving and fair, to have the backs of the shewolves, to be in their corner, only meting out punishment when truly deserved, and consistent with the infraction. All of this is to be done to bring the shewolf back into accordance with the pack, back into harmony—not for the sadistic pleasure of authority!”
“But...but I was just agreeing with Alpha,” she whimpered.
"That is your defense? Can you not think for yourself? Can you not reason for yourself?”
I paced the floor. How could she not see? I spun back around to her. “That is the difference between you and me. I can reason for myself. And I have an ounce of compassion, which you seem to be missing completely. I’m just angry with myself for not seeing it sooner and wasting so much time with you!”
A sob came from her chest. “This isn’t over.”
“It is over. And let me be crystal clear about one other thing. I will not allow Brinley to pay for my actions, good, bad or otherwise. She doesn’t deserve that. No wolf does. We should each be held accountable for our own behavior, and not risk punishment or retribution when having done nothing to earn it.”
I moved in closer, right in her face, my Wolf staring out from my eyes, my voice low and deadly, “But I will make an exception to this rule. As a matter of fact, I will throw every rule I have ever lived by, right out the door, if something happens to her.”
Calla trembled as she stared up at me, inclining her neck to my authority. I continued in a lethal tone, “I can’t be with her, but I also can’t live with the knowledge that her harm came as a result of me. So if that happens, if Brinley is hurt in any way, I won’t ask questions. I won’t care if you had a hand, or a word, or nothing at all, to do with her harm. Then it will be too late. I will kill you. Regardless of whether the fault was yours.”
It was the best way I could think to contain her behavior. I didn’t want her plotting, thinking of ways she could do something and not be found out. The only way to eliminate her from taking a gamble that she could get away with something was to threaten her harm, regardless of who was at fault. And I meant every word. If I were alive to see my threat through, Calla would die.
Calla stared at me with wide eyes, stunned that I had threatened her. More tears fell down her cheeks. She mumbled, “But...Alpha won’t let you hurt me.”
That was the wrong thing to say.
My Wolf roared his rage. He was screaming in my head to tear out her throat, right this instant! Anyone who threatened his little wolf deserved to die, painfully and slowly. A very large part of me agreed with him, and I struggled not to shift. If I gave in to him now, Calla’s life was as good as over.
I inhaled deeply. “Don’t test me, Calla. You won’t like the outcome. You don’t understand the mate bond, but you will someday. So before you form some vendetta or shewolf bitchiness, try to remember that you will have love one day, you will have your mate. Let this go. Let us go. Because it is over.”
All of the fight seemed to wash out of her. She hung her head and mumbled, “Okay.”
I said nothing else and walked out the door. I had much more important things to worry about. I needed to get prepared for our trip. And I had research to do. The answers I needed had to exist somewhere. Someone had to know the truth behind why Alpha hated Brinley so much.
Heading silently to the pack house, only a few wolves were out and about at this time of the early morning. The sun had come up over the horizon, basking the landscape with light, reflecting off of the remaining foot of snow that blanketed the cold hard earth.
None spoke. They just inclined their head, an act of submission and respect, as they passed. I was fine with that. I didn’t want to talk.
Physically, I was exhausted. I’d tried to rest the night before, but sleep had proven damn near impossible with Brinley’s naked form draped over my body.
Memories came crashing through my mind. I could still feel her soft skin under my fingertips, the way she had smelled, and her delectable taste...
…I shuddered hard.
I’d washed her scent away in the stream, before meeting with Calla. My wolf hadn’t been happy about it. He loved having the sweet and delicious smell of Brinley’s arousal coating our cock. And would have preferred her to spread it around the rest of his body.
He was proud of her scent. She was an impressive female, a worthy Wolf, who would bear him strong pups. My heart clenched in my chest at the image of her carrying my little male or female in her belly.
My canines extended automatically, aching to mark her and make her mine. And my Wolf was already plotting ways he could get her naked again.
I pushed the images out of my head. I still had a long day, and Ryder needed my focus. Making my way up to my room, I jumped in the shower. But the cold water did nothing to alleviate the throbbing between my legs. I stared down at my stiff manhood, a natural and unavoidable reaction caused by my earlier thoughts of her.
I willed it to go away, pleading with the universe to release me from my frantic want of her so that I could actually function and prepare for the rest of my day.
But no such luck.
It still bobbed happily at attention. I ground my teeth together. If I wanted relief, there was only one way I was going to get it. This was ridiculous. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d had to jack off, and now, I was about to go a second round in less than twelve hours. Shit.
Placing my fist against the wall, I studied myself, and gripped my shaft with my other hand, pulling hard. Too hard. I growled. But the pain felt good. It felt right. It matched the animalistic way I wanted to ravage her body.
It didn’t take long, just a few more firm strokes, before the tension burst out of me. I dropped my head in relief as my muscles relaxed. Breathing shallowly, still supporting myself with my hand against the wall, I waited a moment before lifting my head and making quick work of the rest of my shower.