Chesca tapped furiously away at the keys, typing a correspondence that should’ve been sent a week ago. It was getting harder to complete the usual Alpha tasks when a particular someone kept fighting for prominence in her mind.
In one week, Kaiden had managed to make her feel almost in love with him, like he was the answer to all her heart’s yearnings, then make it all come crashing down in a tumbling wall of fury. He might be able to save her from a nightmarish storm, but he could just as easily wring her heart with his harsh words and belittling accusations.
Saying she shouldn’t have killed someone to protect her pack members? Who did he think he was, some arrogant and almighty god who had the right to put her in her place? Well, her place was fulfilling the duties to her pack like she’d been doing for five long and solitary years. Nothing he could say would stop her now.
“Stop, Chesca. You’re about to break the keyboard. What did the poor laptop ever do to you?”
“Grr, get out, Lexi!” Chesca snarled and threw a stapler at her friend’s head.
Lexi easily caught it and chuckled, “Anyone would think you were the pregnant wolf. Your mood swings are rivalling mine, I’m sure.”
“Why are you here?” the Alpha ignored Lexi’s jibes, taking a deep breath to calm the irritation that raced through her heated veins.
“I was wondering if you’d seen Roman anywhere,” Lexi plopped herself in the comfiest chair opposite Chesca’s desk and examined her nails.
“He’s not with Charles?”
Lexi gave her a duh look. “You don’t think I checked with him before disturbing my irritable Alpha?”
Chesca rolled her eyes. “Fine. What about with the warriors down by the east ridge? I stationed a few of them on that rotation for the week, remember?”
“A few of them are missing too.”
“Missing?” Chesca sat up straighter in her chair and examined her head guard closely. “What do you mean by, missing?”
Lexi’s expression turned serious, as serious as when explaining about three rogues they’d had to put down, or the fate of the most recent raid on an enemy’s secret bunker, or the lack of pickles in the pack house’s pantry. “No one has seen a few of them since dawn this morning. Nor your mate, for that matter.”
“Pff, who cares about him,” Chesca waved her hand dismissively, events of the previous night playing like a broken record in her head. Good riddance, she muttered under her breath, dismissing the contradicting tug on her heart as her wolf missed his close presence and touch.
“All I’m saying is, something is going on, and you should try and figure out what. Can you sense them on our territory?”
Chesca shifted uneasily, closing her eyes and spreading out her Alpha awareness of her pack members. “I’m not...I’m not sure,” she re-opened her eyes and look nervously at Lexi.
“See what I mean?” the guard raised her eyebrows in apprehension.
“Alright, let’s go see what’s going on.”
For the next hour, Chesca and Lexi roamed the close proximity around the pack house, then expanded their search into the foothills and valleys of the range and forest. No one had seen them, nor had any idea of where they might have gone. With a growing sense of infuriation, Chesca cursed her mate and any stupid plan he had underway this time. “When I find Kaiden, I’m gonna kill him,” she threatened slowly, earning a bemused snort from Lexi.
At around noon, she finally felt them slink back passed the borders and head toward the centre of her pack. She and Lexi quickly made their way to meet up with them, and caught them trying to sneak into the medical clinic.
“What on earth, Kaiden?!”
It seemed to be her favourite greeting. But nothing more polite seemed fitting for the occasion, as she watched him and the few warriors stumbling down the dirt path. Their camouflage clothing was torn and bloodied, and one very injured Roman was being carried between them.
A few of her more concerned wolves hurried up from behind her and helped Roman into the clinic, the doctor clucking her tongue at the nasty injuries covering his body.
But Chesca kept Kaiden and the other wolves with him rooted to their spots with just her deadly gaze. There was no denying, when Kaiden tore his ripped shirt off and displayed his muscular torso, that he was by far the most attractive wolf present. In fact, the most attractive wolf Chesca had ever laid eyes on. Right now, her eyes had detached themselves from her sensible mind and were admiring her mate’s body unashamedly. Even her wolf was howling in desire as Kaiden brushed off dried blood and dirt from his arms and chest, his muscles rippling with perfection under the glow of sunlight.
A loud throat-clearing derailed her unruly train of thoughts.
Thanks, Lex, she mindlinked. “Would anyone mind telling me what is going on?” Alpha Chesca spoke calmly, but with authority dripping from every word.
“We went past the borders to confront Razestone—“
“Let him finish, Chesca,” Kaiden smirked at her, crossing his arms across his glistening chest and seeming to immensely enjoy this standoff. He nodded for the warrior by his side to continue.
“Alpha Kaiden wanted to talk to the guards about why they were crossing our borders. He rounded us up this morning—“
“Your forced my warriors to go with you?”
“I didn’t force them, Chesca,” Kaiden walked slowly toward her, “they happily agreed to run by my side.”
“And get injured carrying out your crazy plan? You let my wolves get hurt, Kaiden!”
“Hey, what’s a few scratches?” one of the warriors brushed it off flippantly, trying to restore his insulted masculinity.
Chesca turned her gaze to him, and enjoyed watching him squirm. “You didn’t think to let me know you were going somewhere with Kaiden? You know the protocol, Xavier,” she snapped at the warrior.
“Yeah, but it’s different now. He’s our Alpha and we were just following orders,” Xavier stepped forward and stated boldly, a cocky expression on his face, his blonde hair sticking up in messy spikes.
“Um, what... Excuse me?” Chesca choked and stuttered. What ludicrous notions was he talking about? Taking orders from Kaiden? Calling him their Alpha?!
“He’s an Alpha, you’re his mate, therefore making you Luna. We don’t need to respect you as Alpha anym—”
In one swift movement, Chesca raised her arm and slapped him across the face with the back of her hand. Xavier stumbled to the ground and gripped his cheek, glaring up at her with anger and hate. Stepping forward, Chesca gripped his chin between her strong fingers and looked him dead in the eye.
“You defy me one more time, and you’ll be receiving a harsher punishment than a red face and bruised ego, Xavier. You will do well to remember who made you into the warrior you are today, and who commands you.” She stood and addressed Lexi, “Take him to the dungeon.”
“Yes, Alpha.” Lexi firmly gripped Xavier’s arm while another of her guards took his other, and they led him off kicking and shouting obscenities.
After taking a deep breath to control her anger, Chesca continued her interrogation, “Then what happened?” She looked from face to face, resisting the urge to let her Alpha rage boil over and make her punch someone. Though it would be awfully satisfying.
“Well, the guards that we met on their border weren’t really cooperating, so we didn’t find out much—”
“Weren’t cooperating?” Chesca again interrupted and leveled her gaze at Kaiden.
“They were nearly as stubborn as you, my dear,” he chuckled and shook his head. A few of the warriors beside him tentatively smirked.
“Were? Why do I not like the sound of the past tense?”
“We killed them,” a warrior shrugged nonchalantly.
“You’re unbelievable,” her growl rumbled threateningly around them. With eyes that could shatter a mountain into pieces, she stared at her mate. “Are you trying to start a pack war? Get us all killed? No, of course...that’s right. You want to take over my pack. And what better way than to lead the enemy here and have all your buddies come help ya out?!”
“Chesca,” Kaiden stepped closer and pointed a finger in her face. “That’s not what I was doing. I was trying to find out what my father has planned. Why he keeps sending wolves into our territory.”
“Then you rip them apart when they don’t cooperate. You know, wasn’t it you just last night who got mad at me for killing a guard? And he even attacked first!”
“Exactly my point. I’m trying to find out why,” his jaw clenched and his muscles twitched as if he was refraining himself from shifting. An angry Alpha was not something you wanted to mess with. Try two.
“That’s all good and dandy. I don’t care if you run off and do that. But you took my warriors behind my back and nearly got them all killed!” she jabbed a thumb at his chest, daring him to come closer.
“But they didn’t.”
“But I warned you. If you ever hurt my pack members, I’d—“
“You’d what? Throw me in the dungeon like a worthless criminal?”
“Maybe! If you keep going behind my back and trying to run my pack!”
“Your pack? Chesca, look around you. We’re mates. These wolves know where their loyalties lie. It’s with both of us,” his eyes blazoned with an intensity that turned her blood to ice in her veins.
“Fine,” Chesca lowered her voice in contrast to the shouting match that had drawn a crowd. Everyone watched on with fear in their eyes. Her predictions had come true. Two Alphas couldn’t rule this one territory, and Kaiden had finally challenged her authority. She couldn’t let everyone live with this division that would only tear the pack apart once more. “Go ahead, kill me,” she dared.
Her mate frowned before confidence once more exuded from his features and posture. “And why would I do that?” he stalked closer, a glint in his dark eyes.
“Why not? Isn’t that what you came here for?”
“My Dear, you are far more valuable to me than just the key to this pack.” He slid his hands around her waist and whispered low in her ear, “Mate.”
“You don’t get to call me that, not after everything,” she squirmed in his arms, and shivered when his lips brushed his mark on her neck.
“Especially after everything, you mean,” his hot whisper sent unwanted tingles racing up and down her spine, and a heated sensation growing in her abdomen. “You are mine, and I protect what is mine.”
The possessiveness in his voice would ordinarily make her knees go weak and her lips instinctively crash against his. But the sight of drying blood on the skin over his collarbone made her stomach sick and reminded her just what he was capable of, of who he was—a heartless Alpha with no hesitance in killing lives to remain in control.
“And I’m doing the same, protecting my pack... from you,” she shoved him back fiercely and rubbed her neck, as if scratching off his germs.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You led my warriors into an unsanctioned confrontation, and got them injured.”
“I did it to protect them, to prevent something worse happening. I did it for you!”
Chesca shook her head, recoiling from the insinuation that she wasn’t doing a good enough job at that. “No you didn’t. You did it for yourself. You’re an Alpha, I get it. You want to be in control. You need to exercise your dominance. But not over my men. This is not your territory.” She held her ground, refusing to budge and back down from him. To submit to him, her Alpha mate.
“No, it’s not.” He was agreeing with her? “But Chesca, You are my territory. You are mine.”
A cold shiver and heated thrill ran simultaneously up and down her body, the bond, the desire, crackling between them. Only his voice had ever made her react like that. Only his touch would ever bring her body to life. Only he would be her mate, that priceless soul that melded with hers to complete one body, one entity that was forged for eternity.
But there remained a voice of reason that rebelled against the fate of him. “But why? Why did you really go against my orders and take my men with you?”
A frustrated sigh escaped his chest. “It was to protect your pack,” he pointed out with anger once more blazing in his eyes and the rigid set of his broad shoulders.
“Why do you care? You can’t even look after your own pack!”
Her cruel words hung in the still air. For a moment, looking at the blackness of his eyes and the heaving of his chest, she almost wished to take them back.
“You know that’s different…” he whispered lowly and menacingly, but it did little to deter her. He might have been frightening to a weaker female, and probably all the males staring at them with mouths agape, but she was an Alpha. And despite how much he tried to make her forget that and relinquish her authority, she never would.
“Take him to the dungeon, along with the other rebels,” she ordered her warriors, Eric being the first to step forward and push Kaiden down to his knees. With iron-threaded rope, they restrained his wrists behind his back, and led him away.
It didn’t require many warriors to make him follow the sentence, as he went quietly, his dark gaze boring murderously into Chesca’s. When his shoulder brushed hers, he whispered, “This isn’t over. I’ll prove myself, Chesca.”