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So Much Worse


I made my way to the packhouse and up the familiar stairs, a pit of dread in my stomach, feeling like I was walking toward my execution. The wide hallway loomed ahead. Step by step, I forced myself forward until I was standing outside of Alpha’s office door. Inhaling deeply, I knocked.

“Come in!”

Even from behind the limited protection of the door, Alpha’s curt response washed over me in ice cold waves, causing goosebumps to flare on my arms. I took a second to briskly rub my exposed flesh to rid myself of the telltale bumps that revealed my anxiety. Taking another deep breath, I opened the door, stepped inside, and pushed it shut behind me.

Alpha was seated behind a large mahogany desk, reclined casually in his executive leather chair, eyeing me with obvious disdain. I remaining standing by the door, not daring to move unless instructed to do so, and dropped my gaze to the floor.

“Sit,” he snarled, contempt oozing, the order sounding more like it was fit for a pet he was displeased in, rather than a pack member. Nothing new.

My head snapped up to see which chair he wanted me to sit in. He inclined his head toward the couch next to his desk. I crossed the room, feeling as if my legs were stiff pieces of wood and dropped onto the cushion furthest away from him. I studied my clasped hands in my lap, without really seeing them.

From my peripheral vision, I saw Alpha lean forward in his chair, placing his elbows on his desk, his fingers interlocking together. There was a moment of hesitation before he ordered, “Look at me.”

My head snapped up again, confused. Usually, he never wanted me to make direct eye contact...what was he doing? My surprise at his order must have been evident in my expression because his lips curled into a smirk.

I held my breath as I stared at the fierceness in his expression. If he wasn’t the Devil’s lovechild and my worst nightmare all rolled into one, I might have considered him handsome. His features were very similar to Coal, just older, dark hair cut short on the sides with a bit of a tousle on top, defined cheekbones, a strong chin, and full lips. But he didn’t have Coal’s crystal blue eyes. Instead, Alpha’s were a deep walnut brown, and currently piercing through me like laser beams.

I shifted uncomfortably under his intense stare.

“Tell me exactly what happened,” his voice so low, it came out almost as a whisper, but the unveiled threat of bodily harm should I not be one hundred percent forthcoming, was loud and clear.

My first instinct was to jump to my worst fear—had he already found out about Coal and I mating?! How?! Fear blazed through me, my heart thumping in my chest. And then I realized he wasn’t talking about Coal, he was referring to the rape. My heart slowed a little. I was relieved not to be found out, but truly, the last conversation I wanted to have with him was the pain and humiliation of being violated.

Alpha’s steely, cold gaze was unwavering, keeping me rooted in place. There was no getting out of it. I didn’t have any hope of avoiding this conversation. He’d been clear he planned to interrogate me—and now the time had come. I opened and closed my mouth, not sure where to begin.

The longer it took me to speak, the harder his expression became. Finally, I spoke just above a whisper, “I, it was after work...I was walking home when he...he drugged me. When I woke up, he was...behind me.” my voice trailed off, haunted by the memory. I swallowed thickly, trying to dislodge the bowling ball in my throat, and blinked to keep my tears at bay.

Alpha gave no indication of his thoughts. His face remained expressionless, cold and indifferent. “Go on.”

I sucked in a ragged breath, letting the air expand my lungs to calm myself and rasped, “H-He...raped me. When it was over, he punched me, knocking me out cold. And then I woke up in the woods and...” I worked to remember the story Coal had told about this part. My story had to match his perfectly or Alpha would know we were lying. “...Coal showed up. I guess my Wolf had somehow called to his.”

Although I wasn’t really sure how that would have been possible because I couldn’t mindlink with the pack or even with Coal until we were bonded. Not truly mindlink, not like I could now, but I had been able to understand Coal’s Wolf that night in the cave. It had to be a wolf or natural thing between mates. So it made sense that Coal knew something I didn’t, for him to use that excuse, and even as I repeated it, Alpha didn’t seem surprised.

I lapsed into silence and twisted my hands in my lap nervously as Alpha continued his sharp stare. After a long moment, his voice dropped even lower as he demanded slowly, “So, that is everything? Exactly as it happened?”

Well, it was mostly the truth.

The only difference was how Coal had actually determined the scent of the male who violated me. Instead of admitting to Alpha that Coal had his nose pressed against my sex, he’d made up the story of my Wolf calling to his in the woods. So, mostly it was the same truth. I whispered, “Yes.”

But as soon as the word came out of my mouth, I knew I’d made a grave mistake—because I’d hesitated before replying, only for just an instant, but Alpha caught it!

His eyes flashed, and his lip curled back, confirming my worst fear as he snarled, “You’re lying to me!”

“No!” I cried out. “I, I...”

Without warning, Alpha stood from his chair and prowled around the desk to where I was seated on the couch. He was a big man when I was standing, but he looked absolutely massive as he towered over me now, all muscle and brawn and fury.

He sat next to me and grabbed my chin, forcing me to turn to face him. He gripped my jaw so tightly, if he applied just the slightest more pressure, it would crumble beneath his fingers. His eyes swirled black, the eyes of his Wolf. “Last chance—to tell me the truth.”

I yelped through the pain, struggling to keep my tears contained in my eyes. His other hand came up and wrapped around my throat. He squeezed.

“Okay...okay, I’ll tell you!” I rasped. My eyes were wide, and my heart thundered in my chest. I could barely pull in air through my constricted throat. Instinctually, I grabbed his wrists to pull away, but he was unmovable.

He relaxed his hold but just slightly.

“Everything I said was true...except how Coal found out.” I panted, unable to control my rapid breathing.

His ebony eyes narrowed. “Go on.”

“He...he didn’t find me in the wasn’t until two days later.” I hurried to explain. I again tried to move my head back, but Alpha wasn’t having it and held firm.

"Two days later?" His head tilted to the side as he considered my words, his expression darkening even further. “How the fuck was Coal able to scent the other male on you two days later after you yourself admitted he’d cleaned the scent off of you? The scent would have been long gone. Are you telling me Coal just made this shit up and attacked a Beta for no reason?!” His voice rose, his grip tightening again.

“No!” I cried out, gasping for air. “The Beta cleaned his scent from the outside of me, but not th-the...inside.” I cringed, knowing what I was going to have to say next.

“What the hell do you mean?!” Alpha snapped, his pupils dilating almost entirely, leaving nothing left in his eyes but black fury.

Heat flooded my cheeks as embarrassment welled up in my belly. There was no escaping this truth. I rushed, “When I came across Coal, he could smell that I had lost my...purity. His Wolf went...crazy. He, he couldn’t stop the shift...and his Wolf chased mine until he caught us and forced me to shift back. He demanded to know what happened, so I, I...told him.”

Alpha remained silent, glaring.

I inhaled as much air as I could to catch my breath and tried to keep my voice from shaking, “That’s when Coal decided to smell, inside...of me.”

There was a beat of silence, and then Alpha’s eyebrows shot up in understanding. He released his death grip on my throat and cursed under his breath, “Fucking hell!”

I was stunned when his entire expression changed. He went from violent anger to humor and shockingly, pride, when he snickered, “Leave it to my son to think of something like that. Well, at least now I know you’re not lying. You’d have to be of your mind to make that shit up.”

I stared in confusion.

He wasn’t angry that Coal had his nose in my pussy?

He thought it was funny?

I held my breath, not daring to speak, feeling a bit of whiplash at his abrupt change in demeanor. But in less than a blink, everything changed once again.

I was helpless to do anything but watch in horror as a dark cloud settled over his countenance, worse than before. So much worse.

Dread filled my heart. It felt like a snake had wrapped around it and constricted its reptilian body, snuffing out the life of my poor beating heart in its cruel grip—because I saw it happen. I saw the realization, the horrible, awful truth dawn on Alpha.

His words were slow and deadly, “Coal knew I would never accept you, which meant that bastard son of mine wasn’t just fighting to submission. He knew the price to keep you would be ending me. He wanted to kill me, didn’t he? He would have killed me if I’d given him a chance!”

His long, sure fingers reached for my neck again, this time to tug my shirt to the side, revealing what he already suspected would be there—Coal’s mark!

My heart beat thunderously in my chest. “No! He...I...” My words were a jumble.

Alpha’s eyes blazed furiously, “That ungrateful mutt! After everything I’ve done for him, this is how he repays me?” And then Alpha froze, his mouth twisted into wicked anticipation.

My heart dropped to my stomach. Screw the butterflies. Now it felt like rocks rolling around and banging into each other in my belly. I wasn’t going to like whatever Alpha had to say next. Worse than that, I was confident whatever he had to say would be the end of me.

Alpha snapped out of it, and his attention once again leveled on me as he purred out a threat, “If you want to save that no-good son of mine’s life, I suggest that you don’t mindlink any of this with him.”

Save his life?

I could barely get the words out of my dry throat, “What do you mean ‘save his life’?”

Alpha’s lips curled into a hateful grin, “If it’s a game my son wants to play with me...then let’s play. You and I are going to take a little trip, just the two of us. And if I catch that you’ve mindlinked with him, I won’t turn you rogue. I’ll turn him rogue.”

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