COAL

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Lies & Accusations

Coal

Ryder and I walked toward the packhouse. Several wolves milled around, remnants from the recently disbanded meeting.

I hoped I found my father quickly because I was eager to get this debriefing over with. The trip couldn’t have gone more shockingly different than I expected—first with the vampires, and then our meeting with Alpha Mason.

The only thing I wanted to do was hold Brinley in my arms and make sure she was okay. But the instant we walked through the door, everything changed.

He was here…

…that bastard who raped Brinley!

No communication passed between my Wolf and me, it wasn’t necessary. The instant we smelled him, we were in agreement, our shift instantaneous.

Adrenaline and bloodlust pushed hard through my body like a drug, exploding neurons firing in my brain, chaotic and frenzied all toward one goal, one purpose—the despicable male was going to die!

Every nerve ending in my body crackled with anticipation of the kill.

Rip him apart! Until nothing is left but unrecognizable scraps! My Wolf snarled in my head, nostrils flaring wide, inhaling gulps of air to isolate the scent.

The beast’s head whipped to the side, eyes locking on his prey.

There!

That pussy-lowlife, pathetic excuse for a wolf who forced my female against her will, was going to pay for what he’d done.

We surged forward, powerful muscles contracting and releasing, crossing the room in a blur.

Eyes snapping wide, taking in the storm headed his way, said pussy shifted.

I wanted to laugh.

It wouldn’t matter, shifting wasn’t going to help him now. The vile male was delusional if he thought he could beat us in any form.

However, right before my Wolf could sink his teeth into him, another wolf barreled into us, throwing us off track!

I felt and heard one of my ribs crack at the impact, knocking the breath out of my lungs. My Wolf tumbled to the side and then regained his footing, snarling as he whipped around to take on this new threat.

Dread filled my heart when I saw who it was—Alpha!

No! I hadn’t wanted to believe it was possible. The thought that my father had a hand in Brinley’s assault crushed me.

But why else would he defend this random wolf?

Alpha reached through the mindlink, every ounce of authority behind his command, ”Stop!”

Fuck that!

My Wolf shook his head.

If this was how Alpha wanted to play it—if I had to take him out first—then so be it.

He yelled again through the mindlink, ”Coal, stop this shit before you start something you can’t finish!”

So, that’s what he thought—I was predestined to lose. So cocky...not at all worried or concerned that I might be able to beat him.

But he had another thing coming. He hadn’t seen us like this.

I blocked the mindlink. I was done listening to his shit.

There was no hesitation in our attack. Powerful jaws, razor-sharp canines snapping, seeking purchase in the soft flesh of Alpha’s neck. My father twisted, shaking me off, and spun violently around, sinking his teeth into my flank.

My Wolf snarled furiously and bucked to break his hold. Hot liquid trailed down our leg.

So, Alpha had gotten first-bite…

He wouldn’t get the last.

Muscles contracting, my Wolf released in another display of force. He flipped around and mauled Alpha’s shoulder, shaking his head to tear out a good-sized chunk of flesh.

Alpha’s Wolf howled in anger. But there was also shock behind his cry.

Now we had his attention.

My Wolf didn’t give a fuck how mad Alpha was. Our fury was unparalleled, it was our mate who’d been defiled by that bastard.

Licking blood from his lips, my Wolf stepped agilely to the side, looking for another opening. It only took him a second to find it.

Dropping his big head, he used it as a battering ram, pummeling into Alpha’s lower side, trying to knock him off of his feet. It worked.

Alpha tumbled over, claws scraping against the hardwood floor as he regained his footing…too quickly for my Wolf to pounce on him.

Alpha shot to my side.

We turned to him, but faster than we could compensate and correct the motion, he spun the other way, faking his original direction.

Teeth ripped through my shoulder. Fuck! I couldn’t see the wound, but without a doubt, he’d carved out some of my flesh with it.

He wasn’t holding back either. He couldn’t. He knew if he did, we would take advantage of every mistake he made.

Again and again, we lunged and attacked and defended—a deadly dance with only one possible victor.

My lungs were on fire. I worried one of my ribs might have pierced it, causing it to collapse.

But I wasn’t the only one damaged. Alpha was also covered in blood. Feral growls ripped through the room, loud and menacing. Sounds of destruction echoed all around us, as our bodies crashed into furniture, wood splintering, fracturing at impact.

The scent of blood in the air was getting stronger.

My Wolf held his own…

…until Alpha whirled around and clamped his canines into our back leg.

Alpha didn’t just hold on. No. Instead, his lethal jaws shut tight, and he tore out the tendons, rendering the leg useless.

Howling in pain, my Wolf crashed to the ground. His chest heaved as he sucked in gulps of air and blew back out through flared nostrils.

My Wolf tried to maintain the shift, tried to keep his shape, but it would only be a matter of seconds before he couldn’t—not as damaged as we were.

Alpha snarled, blood dripping from his jowls as he stalked around us.

We couldn’t get up.

We couldn’t fight.

We had lost!

This was it…

…now Alpha would decide if we lived or died.

My glance cut to Brinley. She was deathly pale, shaking. Langdon was behind her. His eyes were anguished. He knew if I died, Brinley would as well. And even if I didn’t lose my life, Alpha might still decide to take her out, right here in front of me, in a room full of wolves, just to punish me for defying him.

He continued to snap his teeth displaying his dominance and anger. I couldn’t focus because now that we stopped, the pain was excruciating, too much. Shifting back into skin, I lay on the floor, bloodied and broken.

Alpha shifted as well and yelled furiously, “What the fuck are you doing? Are you trying to start a war?!" He spit blood from his mouth.

I didn’t answer, my damaged lung making it hard for me to even breathe let alone talk.

“You can’t just declare a death sentence on another pack’s Beta! And then, without another word, carry it out! You know better than that. That’s not how our laws work!”

My words had returned, but my lungs burned when I ground out, “That fucker will die.”

His eyes narrowed, pupils dilating to black. His voice was low and deadly, “Care to share with the group why? What was his crime?!”

The accusation was on my tongue. I wanted to shout, “As if you don’t know!” But I held back. He did look shocked and confused by my behavior. And it wasn’t just my life still at risk now, but also Brinley’s. For now, I would deal with one wolf at a time. But I wasn’t letting it go. I would find out if he played a hand in her rape.

Murderous rage vibrated within me as I answered the question, “He raped Brinley!”

The room fell utterly silent except for the gasp of horror that broke from Brinley’s mouth. I found her eyes. They filled with tears, her little body shaking. Her anguish mirrored my own, knowing what she suffered at the vile hands of that poor excuse of a wolf.

“That’s a lie!” the pussy wolf sneered.

Alpha’s head swiveled to Brinley. “Is the accusation true?”

Her face contorted in pain, her voice barely a whisper, “I don’t know.”

My father’s brow furrowed, his countenance darkening, “How the fuck don’t you know?”

Brinley shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself, but it didn’t stop her violent shaking. “I...I didn’t see his...face. He used some kind of drug...knocked me out and put my Wolf to sleep. All I could scent was the drug.” Her lip quivered hard as she tried to get the words out. “When...when I woke up, I was lying in the woods. He…he’d washed his scent away from me.”

“What do you mean ‘when you woke up’? Are you even sure a violation occurred? You can’t just go around accusing males of rape!” Alpha barked.

I let out growls of rage. How dare he question the validity of Brinley’s story?

Alpha ignored me, keeping his full attention on Brinley. His scornful and disapproving tone caused her to shake even more.

She mumbled through her tears, “I, I was...awake...for that part. When he was...done...he, he hit me, knocking me out cold...I woke up in the woods.”

Alpha looked back to me and demanded, “If what she says is true...”

“I know she isn’t lying!” I growled and tried to get to my feet, only to fall back to the ground, the pain from my wounds was so sharp, my eyes watered. I blinked away the moisture.

“Exactly!” he snarled. “That’s my question. How is it that you know...if she has no idea?”

Shit! I couldn’t very well tell him I’d had my nose all up in her pussy. Regardless of the circumstances, he wouldn’t see that behavior as just casual. He would know something had been going on. Thinking quickly, I spat, “Her Wolf called to mine....as she was waking up. I didn’t know what the problem was until I found her lying in the weeds. He had attempted to wipe all trace of himself away, and for most wolves, his job would have been sufficient…”

My father’s eyes changed with understanding. He knew what I was going to say, but I still finished my sentence, “…but not me, an Alpha. There were trace amounts, but enough for me to never forget it.”

The pussy in question—his rank of Beta was tangibly felt, but I still didn’t know his name—dared to chuckle!

My head snapped to his, my Wolf envisioning eating that expression straight off his face. I liked the idea.

His eyes narrowed as he sneered, “Sorry, Romeo. I hate to break it to you, but she lied. She was a very willing and eager participant...but she told me she needed to keep it a secret, so that her crazy-ass mate, who apparently already had another mate but couldn’t quite leave her alone, wouldn’t find out.”

White hot waves of anger rolled over me. I was going to deposit the fucker into the deepest depths of hell.

“No!!” Brinley cried, her eyes wide with shock.

The bastard laughed and said condescendingly, “Look, sweetie, you were a good time and all, but I’m not about to die so you can keep Romeo in the dark about you little sexcapades.”

“I...I never!” Hot tears coursed down her cheeks.

How dare he attack her like this, after what he did?

I spat vehemently, “If she was having so much fun, as you say, why the fuck did I find her half unconscious in the woods?!”

The Beta just shook his head and spoke sadly, “She’d already left. I have no idea what game she thought she was playing with you...you’ll have to ask her that. It sounds like we were both fooled by her innocent facade.”

I thought I was going to explode. Brinley just stared, frozen in horror. She knew Alpha would never take her word over a Beta. But that wasn’t happening. He was going to take my word as truth.

I growled ferociously, “You are the liar, you filthy excuse for a wolf! What you’re suggesting makes zero sense. If she was trying so hard to keep the secret from me, why call me to help her?”

He seemed to have an answer for everything. His lips curled up. “But Brinley didn’t call you. You said her Wolf did.” He put his hands in the air as if apologizing and added, “Okay, I will admit we’d taken a little something, but she was perfectly fine when she left. Maybe she decided to have a little more on her way. She is a bit of a lightweight. I did warn her and thought she understood. More than likely, she took too much, passed out and then her Wolf reached out to you. I doubt the little liar would have ever said something had she not been caught red-handed with my scent on her.”

I was stunned at his audacity and horrified to realize, we were stuck. There was no proof to be presented on either side. No one else had been there besides the two of them—it was simply Brinley’s word against his.

I ground out through clenched teeth, my voice low and deep, “She isn’t lying! And you...you are going to die for what you’ve done.”

“Coal, you will not start a pack war over a piece of ass!” my father snapped, his command resonating with authority.

Brinley inhaled sharply unable to contain her sobs. I glared at him with hate in my eyes. I had almost beaten him...almost.

But he made the grave mistake of letting me live.

Somehow, someway...his life would be mine.

And once he was gone, I didn’t give a fuck if I had to kill an entire pack to get to the Beta. As a matter of fact, that thought sounded quite promising to my bloodlust haze of rage. I’d been denied my kill tonight. I wouldn’t be refused again.

Alpha hesitated, his sharp gaze going from me to Brinley and back again. I didn’t like the look in his eye. He was deciding something, and it felt very much like a death sentence. My heart thundered in my chest. He couldn’t! And worse, I wouldn’t be able to stop him. Right now, it would take me days to recover from the brutal injuries he’d inflicted on my body, days Brinley would be without any protection. And that’s if he didn’t take her life where she stood.

Without warning, a door opened and smacked shut at the back of the room. A female rushed to me. Hands shaking as she touched my face and chest, her voice high and breathy, she gasped, “What happened to you?”

Amber?!

I just stared at her dumbfounded, not understanding what the hell she was doing, and shocked she had interrupted us.

I wasn’t the only one. Alpha’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. And from the corner of my vision, Langdon’s face shifted into utter confusion. He took a step in our direction and then held himself back.

Amber leaned in and kissed my cheeks murmuring, “Thank God you are alive!”

Alpha finally had enough and demanded, ”Who the fuck are you?!”

Amber’s head whipped to face him. Her hands tightening possessively on my shoulders as she replied fiercely, “I am his mate!”
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