COAL

By EmelineRousselot All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

He's Waiting For Me

Brinley

Stepping through the doors of the packhouse, I glanced around. It was immaculate. My eyes rested, unfocused, on the opulence as I walked toward the kitchen. There was a time when I found the grand architecture stunning and the landscaping beautiful. Now it just felt cold.

It was never my home. I saw that so clearly now. I didn’t belong here. Crazy to think the Moon intended me to be the next Luna. She planned for all of it to belong to Coal and me, but I couldn’t picture it. Truthfully, I didn’t want it. I cared nothing about being Luna. I just wanted Coal.

I bit my lip, my anxiety increasing. I hadn’t seen Alpha in weeks, and I dreaded crossing his path. Anxiety fluttering in my belly, I pushed through the kitchen door. My head swiveled looking around for Cook.

I still had no idea exactly what my duties were this evening. Maybe I would get lucky and be assigned to serve the lesser wolves.

I cringed…

Luck had never been on my side.

Abruptly, a hand clasped around my arm and jerked me hard to the side. I gasped at the unexpected maneuver and trembled to find myself face-to-face with Lena. Her beady eyes narrowed as she hissed, “Where have you been, stupid girl? He wanted you here thirty minutes ago.”

It shouldn’t have, but the venom in her tone and her question startled me. She’d given me my work orders for the week. Surely she knew I’d been working. I stuttered, “I, I...who wanted me here?”

Her gaze took on a cruel satisfaction that caused a chill to run down my spine. Dragging me along a side hallway, she snatched a dress and a box from a side closet and pushed them into my chest.

I grabbed them tightly, trying not to stumble backward with the intensity of her shove. Her lips curled into a wicked smile as though she knew something I didn’t. She nodded toward a small bathroom. “Get dressed. When you finish, you’ll be serving the attending Alpha’s.”

No! My heart stuttered in my chest.

Spending the evening within a few feet of Alpha was the very last thing I wanted to do. But spending time with him while he was liquored up and angry caused dread in my very bones.

Lena smirked, enjoying the look of fright on my face. She licked her lips. “Try not to get in trouble, stupid girl. You don’t want to know what will happen to you if you’re disobedient tonight.”

Her gleeful warning caused me to shudder from head to toe. She disappeared down the hall.

I tried not to tremble as I made my way to the bathroom and removed my clothes. It wasn’t until I really examined the black dress she’d provided that I gasped.

It was small…extremely small.

There was no way I was ever going to fit in it.

Setting it aside, I opened the box. My heart pounded in my chest as I pulled out a pair of skimpy black lace panties and matching bra, along with black stilettos.

He had provided specific underwear as well?

My hands were full-out shaking as I slid the panties over my hips and connected the bra behind my back. Next, I poured myself into the scrap of fabric Lena called a dress.

I stared wide-eyed into the mirror at my reflection. The bra had pushed my breasts high, and the dress was cut low, revealing way too much flesh of my two pert mounds.

My body had filled out. I was no longer unhealthily thin. When Darcy wasn’t trying to shove food down my throat, Coal’s Wolf loved to provide nourishment. There was a never-ending buffet of fresh kills outside of our waterfall cave. So much so, I’d asked him to cut back a little bit because my hips were getting much thicker. Of course, he hadn’t been pleased with my request because he quite liked my thick hips.

I stepped into the black high heels, wobbling a bit, trying to find my balance. Not only was the dress low-cut but it was short.

I nervously tugged it down as far as it would go, but quite a bit of my long legs were still revealed.

I sucked in a deep breath, not wanting to leave the protection of the bathroom. But apparently, Alpha was already irritated with me for not being here sooner. I exhaled slowly, trying to steady myself, and stepped out into the hallway.

…it was now or never.

Slowing down my natural gait to accommodate for the ridiculous shoes, I made my way toward the open meeting area.

I bit my lip as I looked around the hallways.

Where was Coal?

I was reasonably sure he was going to lose his mind when he saw me revealed in such a manner. I tugged on the short skirt again.

Coal wasn’t ready to face his father yet. But given Lena’s ominous words and whatever the hell I was apparently being set up for, Coal may have no choice but to act.

Maybe that was the plan.

Coal had said his father was suspicious when he called off his engagement with Calla. Maybe Alpha was trying to force Coal to reveal his true feelings for me.

Rounding the corner, I came face-to-face with Langdon. He ground to a halt, eyebrows shooting up when he saw me, his gaze, starting with my eyes and working slowly down to my feet. “What the hell are you wearing?!”

Warmth flooded my cheeks. If I hadn’t already known I resembled a loose and potentially inexpensive shewolf, Langdon’s response confirmed it.

I twittered self-consciously, “Alpha picked it out for me.”

Langdon’s eyes narrowed furiously. He didn’t speak. He didn’t have to. I knew what was going through his mind.

I clutched his arm and whispered, “No matter what happens, you have to keep Coal calm. He can’t fight him tonight, not here, not with these wolves around.”

Impossibly, Langdon’s expression darkened even more. A muscle in his jaw twitched as he growled, “Coal isn’t here.”

“What?” I gasped. “Where is he?”

Langdon’s response was grim, “He and Ryder left an hour ago to visit Alpha Mason at White Fang. Your Alpha feels Coal can somehow convince Alpha Mason to rejoin our alliance against the vampires. Coal didn’t want to leave. He doesn’t trust his father. He also isn’t confident in being able to change the White Fang Alpha’s mind, but he had no choice. The strategy makes sense and the lives of many wolves depend on his success, so he went.”

My mouth hung open. Langdon’s eyes glowed topaz, both him and his Wolf at the forefront. He spoke through clenched teeth, “Before he left, Coal asked me to keep you safe. I fully intend to do so.”

I appreciated his words and his sentiment, but I knew better. If Coal couldn’t take on his father, neither could Langdon. And Alpha Wilder of Onyx Moon had already made it known he was not going to war over me. If Langdon fought, he would fight alone...and he would lose. I couldn’t let that happen.

I pulled myself together and said with more commitment that I felt, “Langdon, you have to stay out of it. You can’t go against him, you can’t test his authority. He’ll kill you without blinking, and you know it. And then he’ll still do to me whatever he wants, and probably worse. Your death will stop nothing. He’ll take out his anger at your insolence on me. I’ll be the one to pay for it. Coal knows that. It’s why he’s had to bide his time until he cannot only strike but also win. I’ve dealt with this all my life. It won’t be forever.”

Langdon ground his teeth together, frustration evident, but he didn’t disagree with me. As much as he hated it, he knew I spoke the truth. Still, he tried, his voice low, “I can’t just stand by and let him hurt you.”

His answer wasn’t acceptable. He needed to listen to me. I replied shortly, “You did it once, you can do it again.”

His expression fell. He knew what I was talking about. He had stood by and watched, the same way Coal had stood by and watched when I’d been whipped.

Langdon had been vocal about his anger over the situation, but he hadn’t interfered. I couldn’t let him interfere now and risk himself for me.

I wasn’t worth it...because no matter his efforts, no matter his sacrifice, it wouldn’t save me in the end. I had only one salvation... and that was for the Alpha to die.

“I’m sorry...” his words were thick with regret.

“Stop that!” I whispered harshly. “Don’t you dare feel guilty. I’m not saying you should have done something different before. I’m insisting that you were able to do the right thing then... which means you are strong enough to do the right thing again now.”

I saw the resignation his eyes. He didn’t like it, but he knew as well as I did there was no other choice to be had. His hands clenched into fists. Anger vibrated through his frame as he hissed, “I hate it.”

“I know,” I whispered. I hated it too, more than anything.

Releasing Langdon’s arm, I’d tried to calm the butterflies swirling in my stomach as I muttered, “I’ve got to go. He’s waiting for me.”
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