COAL

By EmelineRousselot All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Manwhore

Ryder

Tears flowed down my face, making silent tracks through the dust on my cheeks. Coal had just left, and I could no longer hold my eyes open. My fingertips trembled as I tried to apply pressure to the saturated rag against my throat to slow down the crimson liquid dribbling out.

The scent of blood was intense, metallic and iron. It caused my Wolf’s nose to wrinkle. I focused on breathing and calming my heart rate so the blood wouldn’t come out as fast. Maybe I could last long enough for him to kill our father and return in time to save me. Even as I thought the words, I knew how foolish they were. I had already lost a lot of blood. The flow was not as steady now, but it was only a matter of time. Not enough time.

Abruptly, another overpowering scent hit my nose—Aatos!

My eyes flew open, darting around wildly. I didn’t see him. Still, my sensitive Wolf nose didn’t lie...Aatos was close. How?! How had he found me?

In another second, Aatos came into view, instantly crouching by my side, cursing, “What the fuck happened?”

I couldn’t answer, still too shocked and stunned that he was there, but I didn’t think he was looking for a response—because he bit into his wrist, opening up the vein, and slammed it to my mouth.

I recoiled in horror, trying to get away from him. But in my weakened state, I barely moved. I choked and gurgled on the metallic tang of the liquid sliding down my throat. Aatos didn’t relent, gripping me even tighter. “Stop fighting me and swallow!”

I met his piercing gaze. His pupils dilated fully, making his azure eyes appear almost black. I was caught in their depths, lost to him, floating on unending waves, unable to feel my own weight inside my body. My brain was powerless to function as he captivated my absolute attention. It was without conscious thought that I did as he commanded—I swallowed, repeatedly.

“That’s it...good boy,” he crooned and slid his free hand under my head for support, his long fingers curling into my hair. “Just a little bit more, and you’ll be good as new.”

His words bit through the haze in my mind, and I suddenly realized what he meant. My body was healing—at a shockingly accelerated rate! The skin at my neck pulled back together, the rough edges of flesh sealing tight. The deep claw marks on my chest closed of their own accord, leaving the tissue smooth and supple once again.

I took a slow breath through my nose since my mouth was still engaged sucking at his wrist. I let the air fill and expand my lungs completely. I’d heard of the healing properties of vampire blood but was entirely amazed to actually feel it happen. I felt strong again, incredibly strong. So strong, that the compulsion to kill the nearby rogue rose up in me again, fierce and deadly. A deadly growl released from my throat. I had to kill the rogue!

Aatos pulled his arm away, his expression wary as he watched me, undoubtedly wondering what caused my distinct change in demeanor. My hands twitched as I fought the powerful urge.

No, I wouldn’t do it!

I wouldn’t hunt down the rogue—my brother!

“Tell me who did this to you,” Aatos commanded, interrupting my murderous planning, his eyes darting around the scene of three other powerless and broken wolves. Amber moaned softly in pain, while Langdon glared, and Jax remained unconscious. Shit. Coal must have hit him hard.

“It doesn’t matter,” I replied through my teeth, pushing myself into a sitting position. I was losing the battle quickly. I needed to get out of there. Coal couldn’t have gotten far. I could still catch him. Even as the thought cause anticipation to race through my mind, my stomach churned.

Aatos placed a restraining hand on my shoulder to keep me from standing. His deep blue eyes flashed dangerously. “It sure as fuck matters.”

“No, the fuck it doesn’t...” I snarled back, pushing hard against his restraint. “...because I’m going to end the threat right now!”

My shove caused Aatos to tilt off balance. He placed a hand on the ground behind him to stop from falling back and steadied himself. His anger spilled out as he snapped, “Right...because you did such a fantastic job when you faced him the first time!”

I ground my teeth together. “I don’t have a choice. I have to hunt him down. You need to let me go. If you don’t, I’ll take you out first and then do what I need to.”

Aatos eyebrows rose. His lips curled up slightly at my threat. “You’ll take me out?”

I didn’t appreciate the humor dancing in his eyes. My Wolf let out a low growl.

Aatos ignored the warning entirely. “Judging by your wounds, another wolf did this to you. Where is your brother?”

A much louder growl slipped from my throat as I was reminded of my target. I was unable to focus on anything other than the overwhelming compulsion radiating through me. I’d tried to tell Aatos to let me go, but he didn’t listen. Without warning, I shoved him back with both hands and shot to my feet.

I didn’t get even a step in Coal’s direction, before I found myself wrestled down to the ground, flat on my back, the wind knocked out of me. Aatos straddled my hips as he restrained my arms. “Oh, fuck no. You’re not leaving until you tell me exactly what the fuck is going on.”

I panted and struggled to get out from underneath him, but his hold was too tight. Aatos brought his mouth down to my neck and scraped his fangs along his mark, causing shocking arousal to fill my body. My cock stood stiff and painful right beneath him. My chest heaved as I stared up at him with wide eyes.

“That’s it,” he purred. “Now that you’re no longer hell-bent on getting away from me answer my question!”

But I was only delayed for a moment. Because the next thing I knew, my Wolf forcibly ripped through my skin, forcing me to shift. I no longer had control.

Aatos was so shocked by my abrupt change that my Wolf was able to buck him off his body and scrambled to his feet. My freedom didn’t last more than another second as Aatos attacked again, this time wrestling my Wolf down to the ground cursing, “Fucking hell.”

My Wolf yelped and struggled, snapping his powerful jaws toward the vampire’s throat.

Apparently, Aatos had had enough because, without warning, he sank his fangs deep into my Wolf’s shoulder on the opposite side he’d marked me. My Wolf howled out his pleasure as Aatos sent violent waves of arousal through his body.

I couldn’t think past the carnal sexuality coursing through my system.

And then I realized one other thing—not only had Aatos latched onto my Wolf’s shoulder with his fangs, but his broad hand was wrapped around my Wolf’s seriously engorged cock, and he was pumping him fast and hard!

My Wolf bucked wildly, but this time he wasn’t trying to get away. Instead, he was pushing his cock harder into the vampire’s hand as Aatos jerked him off.

Time stood still.

Nothing but pleasure existed as Aatos pushed and pulled his hand, his rhythm fierce and dominant.

But just as my Wolf was on the verge of release, Aatos stopped and gripped his ballsac tight...excruciatingly tight. It was pain and pleasure like I had never felt before. My Wolf let out another howl.

Aatos’ head lifted, and he purred into his ear, “You don’t get to come yet...not after being such a disobedient Wolf.”

My Wolf whined and whimpered, legs trembling, as the vampire ran two of his long fingers around my Wolf’s balls, stroking, teasing. I felt the touch deep within myself, groaning intently, but no sound coming out from my place in my Wolf’s head.

We were consumed...on fire...wanting...needing...

After what felt like an eternity, Aatos finally returned his hand to my Wolf’s cock. My Wolf growled out his pleasure and bucked again, trying to encourage him on, eager for release. Aatos asked silkily, “Are you ready to be obedient now?”

My Wolf briskly nodded his head, a whimper of agreement coming from his throat. I was shocked he was so ready to concede dominance to this vampire, not that I didn’t understand it, I wanted it as well, badly.

Aatos’ hand began to move again, stroking, petting, playing...but still making us wait for release. Again and again, stroke after blissful stroke.

My Wolf’s whines got louder and louder, his begging clear.

Aatos grinned wickedly. And then his hand clamped down hard. I was shocked at the force and shocked at the pleasure. My Wolf growled low and long as he came violently, his seed splashing all over his belly.

Fuck, I thought I was going to lose my mind!

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any more pleasurable, my Wolf shifted! Leaving me panting with Aatos’ hand still wrapped around my cock! My back arched in surprise, but before I could get a word out, Aatos slammed his lips down on mine.

Once again, I was taken away, entirely focused on nothing but the vampire’s lips moving against my mouth, biting, nipping, teasing.

Pulling back just slightly, he ordered against my lips, “Open for me.”

I did as I was told, opening my mouth. Aatos’ tongue filled me, his taste sweet and delicious. I moaned in my throat as our tongues danced together. I’d kissed plenty of females, but none had ever come close to feeling like this. Aatos lit an all-consuming fire inside of me.

I wrapped my arms around his broad shoulders. Aatos growled when my claws found purchase in his back. I never wanted to let him go and was amazed to find his hand hadn’t left my cock, and I was hard once again!

Aatos stroked me. Gentler than he had my Wolf, but with the same amount of fervor, his hand moving masterfully, a rhythm of slow and fast, tight and even tighter, all meant to drive me wild. He captured moan after moan that escaped from my lips into his mouth.

Abruptly, Aatos dropped his head to my neck. His tongue came out tracing and sucking hard on his mark. It felt like pure electricity to my cock! I gasped and my back arched.

He asked huskily, “You want me inside you, don’t you?”

His words caused shocking images to crash through my brain—Aatos mounted over my back, his cock buried deep inside of me as he pounded into my ass, again and again.

What would it feel like?

Did I want that?

As if reading my mind, his hand left my cock. His fingers scooped up some of my Wolf’s cum that still covered my belly. His voice was deep, guttural and seductive. “Do you want to know what it feels like?”

I shuddered hard from head to toe. Apparently, my Wolf thought it was a fantastic idea as I heard a resounding bark, “Fuck yes!” in my head. I groaned deeply.

Aatos lips moved against mine as he instructed softly, “Bring your knee up higher.” I did as he said, bending my leg, keeping my foot flat on the ground. “That’s it...now spread your legs wider.” Again, I obeyed, shuffling my foot further to the side, opening up my body to him.

Aatos gave an approving hum. His fingers trailed down to the pucker in my backside, coating the area in my Wolf’s cum. I felt pressure and automatically clenched, as one of his fingers slipped inside.

“Shh...easy now...just relax.” Aatos voice was hypnotic. “I won’t hurt you...and any pain you do feel, you’ll enjoy.”

I panted, listening to his words. I was consumed with arousal, unable to think of anything else. I relaxed my body.

“Good boy,” Aatos cooed again.

I felt a second digit slip in.

I inhaled sharply. It felt weird but not painful. Aatos was incredibly gentle as he played with my ass, his fingers going in and out, scissoring, stretching the firm ring of muscle.

His tongue dipped into my mouth again, darting in and out, like his cock would do. I sucked on his tongue, and he let out a growl, abruptly adding a third finger into my ass. I clenched at the bite of pain, but he was right, even that felt good in an odd sort of way.

Abruptly, he twisted his hand inside of me, and his fingers began to stroke along my prostate. The pleasure was like nothing I’d ever felt before...blindingly good, words couldn’t even describe!

I let out a loud moan and bucked my hips, encouraging him.

“Do you like having me in your ass?” Aatos whispered against my lips.

I couldn’t stop moaning long enough to answer, but I desperately needed to feel more of him. I released my hold on his back. My fingers urgently undid his pants, freeing his cock. I swiped my hand along my stomach, gathering up more of the remaining cum and wrapped it around his hard cock.

Aatos hissed. My Wolf growled in approval. We both like hearing the vampire make that noise, so I gripped him tighter and stroked faster, my fingers rubbing over his thick head as I reached his peak before sliding down his shaft to his balls again.

A growl came from his throat, “Fuck!”

My Wolf purred with satisfaction at making the vampire lose control. Aatos returned the fervency, moving his fingers in my ass harder and faster...so hard, I cried out at the pleasure. My cry was cut off by his relentless lips.

Silence reigned as we kissed, biting and licking, sucking each other’s lips. My hand wrapped around his cock, jerking him off, his three fingers buried deep in my ass, pounding me to completion.

And then I could take no more. My balls pulled up tight. I cursed loudly, “Fuck yes!” and released, my cock shooting. Aatos’ let go at the same time, grunting loudly, as he added his cum to my belly, hot and thick.

I panted to catch my breath. Aatos’ eyes were still wild, locked on mine. He dragged his finger through his cum and brought it to my lips. His tone was low and deep as he commanded, “Taste me.”

I opened my mouth, allowing it inside and sucked the salty liquid clean from his finger. My Wolf growled in approval at the taste.

Abruptly, a female voice could be heard behind us, “Aatos, you manwhore, what the fuck is going on?!”

Aatos didn’t appear surprised or even fazed, but he did pull back and settled all of his weight next to me instead of partially on my chest.

My eyes darted around to find Savannah with her hands on her hips.

She clucked, “First, you run out like a bat out of hell without even so much as a word as to where you’re going. I finally find you—the scent of three different cum in the air, so I’m guessing his Wolf had a good time as well—but what I don’t really understand is why he is covered in blood and why three broken wolves are lying around.”

Instantly, I remember—Coal!

In the arousal haze, Aatos had created, I’d completely forgotten I wanted to kill my brother. My stomach turned. Fuck, he needed my help, but I was useless. The only thing I could do for him was stay away. I wanted to weep.

Aatos noticed my change in expression and growled irritably at Savannah, “I just got him refocused on something else. Did you really need to bring that up?”

Her eyebrows shot up, her tone turned mocking, “What? Are you asking why did I bring up the reality around you? Of course, how could I step so far out of line?”

Suddenly, Jax moaned. He was coming to! Unlike Langdon and Amber, Jax didn’t have an injury that would keep him down. He wouldn’t be able to stop himself from going after Coal!

I clutched Aatos’ shirt, my heart racing. Aatos looked down at me in alarm. I spoke urgently, “Stop him from waking up...please don’t hurt him, but he can’t wake up!”

The look of confusion remained in his eyes, but he nodded to Savannah.

Savannah made her way to Jax, huffing, “You are seriously the strangest wolves I have ever come across...but far be it for me to ignore your request.” With that, her fist slammed into the side of Jax’s face, and once again, he was out.

She turned to face me. “All better now?”

Somewhat, but I was feeling more and more restless. Aatos must have felt my tension rise because he repositioned himself partially on top of me again, wrapping one leg around mine, and said harshly, “It’s time. Tell me what the fuck happened.”

I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat, anxiety rising in my chest, threatening to choke me. Tears pricked my eyes. I rasped, “Coal...Alpha turned him...rogue.”

Aatos’ expression shifted to dark fury. He spoke through clenched teeth, “Are you telling me your brother did this to you?”

The deadly intent in his tone caused a tingle to run down my spine. I said quickly, “It’s not his fault! We couldn’t...stop, we...we attacked him.”

Understanding lit Aatos’ expression. I had just explained to him a few hours ago how rogues were mercilessly hunted by every other wolf. Aatos took a moment to look around at the wolves and then back to me. He arched an eyebrow, anger still thick in his tone, “So, he incapacitates them...but he tries to rip out your throat?”

I couldn’t stop the tear that fell as I choked out, “He didn’t want to. He told me just to let him injure me enough so he could get away, but I couldn’t back down. I had to shift...forcing Coal to shift, and his Wolf was driven by the laws of nature. His mate is in danger...Alpha has her...he’s hurting her. My Wolf was in his way of getting to her, so his Wolf...took me out. I...I would have done the same thing.”

Aatos exhaled heavily.

I was starting to squirm again, the compulsion getting stronger and stronger. I pleaded with Aatos, “Please...don’t let me attack him again.”

“Fuck,” Aatos swore and then looked at Savannah. “Go to their SUV. I’m sure they have spare clothes. And look for something to tie him up with.”

I nodded. “Yes...there are restraints strong enough to contain me.”

Savannah virtually disappeared as she ran in the direction of the vehicle. I remained frozen, clutching Aatos’ biceps, trying to force myself to stay in place.

Almost in the next instant, Savannah reappeared.

Damn, they were fast.

She set down two gallons of the extra water we kept in the back, as well as a pair of shorts and silver handcuffs. Her nose wrinkled. “Douse him with the water...he stinks.”

Aatos grabbed one of the jugs of water, but I stopped him, “No. Handcuff me first. It will stop me from being able to shift.”

Aatos nodded. I held my wrists in front of me, and he snapped the restraint closed, muttering, “I’d envisioned tying you up...but never quite like this.” I blushed at his words.

Aatos pulled me to my feet and opened the first gallon of water, pouring it slowly down my neck and chest, using his fingers to wash away the blood and semen. Once the second gallon was done, all traces of the fluids were gone.

“Thanks,” I mumbled and picked up the shorts with my joined hands, trying unsuccessfully to open the waist and navigate my foot inside at the same time.

Aatos took the garment from me and crouched down on the ground, holding it open. I blushed again to be dressed as if I were a small pup.

I stepped into the shorts, and he pulled them up over my hips. He started to do the zipper, but I took a step back, grabbing at it quickly, closing the button and zipper. “Thanks...I got it.”

I dropped my head as the compulsion shuddered through me again and whispered, “They need help. I don’t trust my father. He already tried to break Coal’s bond, but couldn’t. That means that Coal is the stronger Wolf, but my father fights dirty...and regardless of their bond, Brinley will try to fight Coal as well.”

Aatos hesitated and then sighed, “Okay, where are they?”

I pointed in the right direction. “Thirty minutes that way.”

“What do you want us to do with these?” Savannah motioned toward Langdon, Amber, and Jax. “I’m guessing we can’t heal them. Otherwise, they’re going to want to fight as well?”

I nodded my head sadly and met Langdon’s gaze whispering, “I’m sorry. As soon as its over, I promise to come back for you.” Langdon gave me a hard nod. He understood.

Without another word, I took off into the woods, my body propelled forward by the compulsion to find the rogue. But I felt relief knowing Aatos wouldn’t let me fight, and the handcuffs made it impossible for me to shift.

As I ran, Aatos easily stayed by my side. I murmured, “How did you find me?”

“I felt you,” he replied.

I inhaled sharply and snapped my head in his direction, “What do you mean you felt me?”

Aatos held my gaze. “I felt when your emotions bottomed out. I can’t feel minor shifts or dips in your emotions, particularly the farther away you are. But I felt this. And now that I know what happened, I can only assume it was the moment your brother was turned rogue. And then after several minutes, I felt your pain begin.” I stared at him in shock. He continued, “So I ran to find you.”

“You ran?” I asked dumbfounded, still trying to comprehend everything he was saying. “From the time I knew Coal was rogue to the time you reached me couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes...are you telling me that you ran that distance?”

Aatos mouth curled into a smirk. “Yes. What takes you an hour, takes me ten minutes.”

I just shook my head and fell silent as we continue to run.

Abruptly, my heart began to race again because I could smell them.

Coal, Alpha, and Brinley!

But more than that, I smelled blood—a lot of blood!

Aatos must have detected it as well, because he cursed under his breath, ”Fuck.”

In the next minute, we burst from the woods to find a small cabin, and the source of the blood was immediately visible—Brinley!

She was lying on the ground, her throat slashed open. I couldn’t tell whether or not she was breathing, her chest wasn’t moving.

Her body lay unmoving on the ground.

Oh, shit. What happened?!

Coal stood in front of her protectively, his Wolf vibrating with aggression while our father darted back and forth, trying to draw him away.

My body waged war, equal parts wanting to help Brinley and kill Coal, while my mind raged against my father. But my physical instincts felt tempered. I felt slightly more in control. It had to be the handcuffs. The restriction wouldn’t allow me to shift. My Wolf was contained. Maybe that was the difference. Regardless, I was immensely relieved that while I wanted to kill Coal, I retained a semblance of control over my body’s reactions.

“We need to get to her,” I hissed to Aatos at my side.

“And so we shall,” he muttered. He grasped my arm, his grip steel hard and jerked me into motion, widely circling around to the right, giving the warring wolves a wide berth and came up behind Brinley.

Before we could reach her, Coal’s Wolf didn’t turn his head to look at us, but he released a deafening growl of warning.

We froze, still about five feet away from her. “Shit,” Savannah muttered under her breath as she watched his big body shaking with rage. She’d fought him when we met at the diner, but Coal had changed since then. Savannah recognized just how dangerous he was now. Even Aatos reassessed the situation cautiously, not moving any closer. If we weren’t careful, Coal would strike.

I spoke urgently to Coal, “It’s okay...they can heal her!”

His head twitched in our direction, but he never took his eyes off of Alpha. However, he seemed to refocus one hundred percent on the opponent in front of him, instead of the three of us behind him. I exhaled in relief. He’d heard us and understood.

I gave a firm nod to Aatos, and we closed the distance to Brinley. I fell to my knees at her head. Her eyes rolled as she looked up at me, trying to focus. A whimper came from her throat. I gingerly held her head and whispered, “It’s going to be okay...just hold on!”

Before I even got the words out, Savannah had already sliced opened the vein at her wrist and pressed her arm to Brinley’s lips. At the same time, Aatos yanked off his shirt and wadded up the material, holding it against her neck to slow the bleeding.

Brinley tried to shake her head, but in her weakened state, she could barely move, let alone fight off two vampires.

Brinley choked and gurgled as the blood ran down her throat. Relief surged through me as I saw her swallow the life-saving liquid. After a moment, Savannah pulled back, and we all stared in expectation. I didn’t know how long it took for me to heal from Aatos’ blood but assumed it had been relatively quick. So the longer we waited, and Brinley showed no signs of improvement, the more the pit in my stomach grew. After a full minute, I was sure something was wrong.

Savannah confirmed my worst fear. The shock was evident in her tone. ”Why isn’t she healing?!”

Rather than answer, Aatos abruptly sprinted fifteen feet away—right toward Coal and Alpha!

My heart thundered in my chest.

What was he doing?

Before I even had time to ask, Aatos dove down to the ground, somersaulted and came back up in one smooth move, jerking his body to the left to avoid the mass of fur, teeth, and claws whirling around him. In the next second, he was back by our side and thrust his hand out. Something green and gold glittered in his palm. It was a man’s ring, but I didn’t recognize it.

Savannah apparently did because she gasped loudly, “No!”

Aatos growled at me, his fangs gleaming, “Who does this belong to?”

I was taken aback by his feral and clearly deadly tone. I swallowed past the lump in my throat and stammered, “I don’t know...I—I’ve never seen it before.”

“Is it possible?” Savannah hissed.

Aatos didn’t answer. Instead, he jerked his phone from his pocket and pressed the button. Almost instantly, a male responded. Even though Aatos held the phone to his ear, my Wolf senses allowed me to easily hear the person on the other end, deep and gravelly, “Speak.”

Chills ran down my spine. There was something about the unknown male’s voice that I couldn’t explain, except for an innate understanding, from one predator to another—this man was dangerous. And not just dangerous, he was genuinely frightening.

All of the hair stood up along the ridge of my Wolf’s spine, his ears flat on his head, his tail unmoving, holding position, ready to react.

“Sire, we think we have found her...but she may be mortally injured.”

Aatos’ words caused ice water to wash over me. I stared down at Brinley’s face. Her skin had taken on a deathly looking pallor. Savannah had assumed applying pressure with Aatos’ shirt, but his shirt was slowly becoming saturated with Brinley’s blood.

“What the fuck?!” a growl came from the other end of the phone. “Heal her!”

“We tried," Aatos replied, his expression grim. “She didn’t respond to Savannah’s blood.”

Savannah trailed her fingers over Brinley’s right hip bone and interjected, “It may not be her...she doesn’t carry his crest.”

His crest? What the hell were they talking about?

None of it made any sense.

Except for the reality in front of me—Brinley was dying.

“She didn’t respond to Savannah’s blood and she doesn’t have my crest?” the dominant male demanded through the phone.

Aatos’ voice was hard, “Correct.”

A vicious growl from the other end caused me to startle. “Fuck! She is mine.”

“What?” Aatos hissed, his eyebrows going up. Savannah looked equally confused.

“Raine is the same way,” the male growled on the other end of the line. As if that explained everything. I was even more lost. Raine? Was that the Queen Aatos had mentioned earlier? What did she have to do with this?

However, understanding lit in Aatos’ eyes. “Of course!” he breathed. “Do you have the coordinates to my phone?”

“Yes. I’m already in motion to your location.”

The line went dead.

Savannah met Aatos’ intense gaze. “What’s his ETA?”

Aatos ground his teeth together. “I’m assuming he was at the hotel. He’s a fast motherfucker, so not much more than fifteen minutes.” He stared down at Brinley, worry creasing his forehead.

“Who’s coming?” I asked with trepidation.

Aatos didn’t look at me. He just continued staring at Brinley. His voice was flat, without emotion, “Her father.”

“What?” I gasped, my mind spinning out of control. Surely he couldn’t mean what I thought he meant. I clarified carefully, “You mean Savannah’s father is coming?”

Aatos gave a hard nod, but added, “And the little shewolf’s.”

“No, that can’t be,” I mumbled. “Savannah’s father can’t be Brinley’s father...I thought Savannah’s father was your vampire King.”

Aatos finally leveled his gaze at me. There was no humor or deception in his expression as he replied, “He is.”

I tried to make my brain function, overwhelmed and stunned by this revelation.

The minutes ticked by, the only sound the relentless battle between Coal and Alpha. Fur flying and the scent of blood thicker and thicker in the air. My stomach was in my throat. Coal had to win. I couldn’t imagine any outcome where he lost. But right now, they were both holding their own. At least Alpha couldn’t get to Brinley, not with us guarding her.

Abruptly, Savannah hissed, “Her heartbeat is slowing down. We’re losing her!”

My eyes snapped back to Brinley. I trained all of my attention on her, my ears listening to her heartbeat. Anxiety hit me like a sledgehammer. Savannah was right! Brinley only had minutes left to live, if that.

If that were not bad enough, suddenly, there was rustling in the woods around us. Several of our pack wolves stepped out from behind the trees. There had to be at least ten of them—all Enforcers and Beta Ford. Shit.

For a moment, Alpha and Coal broke apart, to assess this new threat.

My heart thundered in my chest. It was one thing for Coal to take on Alpha, but even he couldn’t take on eleven highly trained wolves.

But the rules of engagement dictated he wouldn’t have to. His challenge to the Alpha had been thrown down. The rest of the wolves would have to wait for the outcome.

Except, something felt different.

I couldn’t put my finger on it.

The niggling fear rose in my gut, twisting and turning. And then I understood what the difference was—this was no ordinary challenge because Coal was rogue.

Every single one of those wolves felt the same compulsion I did—a burning desire to take down the rogue at all costs. That driving force of nature trumped the rules of engagement. They weren’t going to wait before they tried to take Coal out!

My father knew it as well. His Wolf puffed out his chest, and I heard him mindlink to the Warriors, his instructions clear.

“Oh fuck!” I gasped loudly.

Aatos snapped his head to me. “What? What is it?”

I could barely make the words come out of my frozen mouth, “He just gave them order to kill us all!”

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