I turned out of the women’s bathroom and immediately into the disabled, quickly cleaning up the explosive sex with Will. Goddammit, that was stupid Kelly. Stupid, but so good and much needed. I smiled softly as I threw away the paper towels as I thought of his smile. Of course Will would have found me. A wolf with a bone, just god awful timing.
I splashed water on my face. Okay, fuck, fuck, fuck, how to get out of this one? Rhys’ face in the women’s bathroom was everything dark I had already imagined was hiding under the surface. Underneath that handsome veneer was something ugly lurking that would come out to do the dirty work. I would be no better off than those girls he would sell into sex slavery if I couldn’t pull a rabbit out of my hat for this one.
From the main bar, the sound of several more people ordering beer from across the room echoed down the hallway. The pub was getting busy, I could even hear Mike shouting back something about pitchers. Getting the idea in my head, I wrapped Rhys’ hoodie around my waist, hoping to hell Will’s smell would be covered enough.
I peeked my head out of the stall and could see Mike behind the bar, pouring pitchers and about to come out the swinging door in front of the hallway to deliver them. I watched him carefully, and then, as he was about to leave through the door I left the stall. The door opened inward and Mike came out, holding four large pitchers of beer just as I left the hallway. Together, we arrived at the same space at the same time, resulting in all four pitchers toppling over and onto my body. It was chaos and perfection.
I held my body frozen, acting livid that I was now dripping in beer from my collarbone down to my toes. The white tank top I was wearing went immediately see-through, and the bar gave a loud holler and cheer for Mike’s apparent clumsiness. I stood there for several moments, letting the beer work its way down to the floor while poor Mike’s eyes widened while he stuttered an apology, and fumbled around his waist to pull out a bar towel.
A few wolf whistles and catcalls were starting to be made in the bar, when Rhys suddenly appeared through the crowd, his eyes looking over the scene and a deep frown forming on his face. Mike reached his hand out to start to wipe some of the beer away, but as it neared my bare arm was smacked away by Rhys.
“Not necessary, Mike. Now fuck off.”
The barman blinked at the harsh command, but dutifully picked up the pitchers and went back behind the bar. Rhys stepped closer in front of me to cover the sight of my wet t-shirt show from the other bar patrons. Quickly, he unwrapped his hoodie from around my waist and helped me into it. His face looked pissed, but I couldn’t yet tell if it was directed at me.
Grabbing my hand, Rhys forcefully pulled me back through the crowd and out to the front door. Passing by Jess, our eyes briefly met for a moment before Rhys and I were back out onto the road and heading towards his truck. I was leaving Will again, and for a brief moment felt the extreme guilt once more. But no, this was something that had become important to me, and I wasn’t ready to give it up when I felt so close to finishing. I was going through hell, I had to keep going.
Without a word, Rhys led me into the front seat, slamming the door behind. Instead of moving over to his side however, he stood outside my door, looking back to the Winchester. From my view, I could see his fist clenching open and shut. I followed his gaze, over to the pub, spotting someone briefly passing in the window wearing a black shirt paired with dark hair. Will. I swallowed hard, Rhys looked like he gearing up for a fight with someone he hadn’t even seen.
Should I have let Will stay, help even? No, this was safer for him. A competing Alpha coming in claiming to be my mate and who also had the name of the man I moaned in my sleep? Will and Jess would be hung up in the hay shed by morning and I would have to expose myself to get them out.
Rhys didn’t have the same dark poisonous look on his face as before, but wheels in his head were spinning. Finally, he stalked around to his side, started up the truck, and began the drive back to Lleuad Manor. The cab was quiet for the whole time, occasionally Rhys’ nose would twitch like he had smelled something bad and he needed to wipe it away. Of course the beer had started to make a tangy odor and was hopefully covering up any other scents.
Rhys pulled up to Iona’s house, but made no move to get out as usual when he would walk me to the door. Instead, he pushed the door locks closed.
He stared down at his hands on the wheel, flexing them, the knuckles whitening with tension. His voice turned cold as he spoke down to his hands.
“I thought we had a nice time.”
My brow furrowed in pretense, oh fuck.
“I thought we had a nice time, and we were getting along. I told you how I felt, the truth of it.”
He looked across at me, fire flashing across his features.
“Rhys, I did have a nice time, I mean, minus the beer shower.”
“I told you, Red. I don’t share.”
I steeled myself and acted offended, trying not to give anything away.
“I heard you the first time.”
He looked back at the wheel, clenching it with bridled anger,
“It was stupid of me to say I was waiting until your first moon to commit. But I’m telling you now, I’m committed. I’m in, whatever the ending, whatever you are.”
I nodded silently, staring at my hands. I was most certainly not in, I was so far out, I was in another man’s arms twenty minutes ago. But there was no way I could say it and live unless I wanted to give the jig up.
“Look at me, Red.”
I looked up and over, the face of his father now looking back at me.
“If I ever find him, I’ll kill him. And you’ll never get any pieces back. Understand?”
Play dumb, Kel, I ordered myself. I shook my head and acted angry at his accusations.
“Rhys, I don’t know what you think happened, but I do not appreciate being accused after having a wonderful last-first date that ended in a beer dump totally not of my making. I went into the ladies bathroom, there were people doing god knows what in there, I quickly went into the disabled and took a few minutes when I heard you call out.” Rhys’ face softened slightly at hearing my lie and he sat back in his seat a little. I pushed through with the indignant act,
“Now I smell, I’m sticky, and not in the good way, and I think I got sunburned, probably a first for Wales. So, please unlock my door so I can fix the first two.”
Rhys gave a little unwilling smile and fully relaxed back in his seat, now somewhat pacified.
“Okay? Now, are you coming in for a fashion show? Apparently I have some new clothes I need to try on.” I tilted my head towards the house with an easy grin, “Come on, babe, I’m sure Iona has some ‘tea’ near ready.”
His face broke out with a small smirk at the term of endearment I casually threw out and he nodded in agreement. Together we left the truck and made our way inside. Iona, now sensing the false change in my demeanor towards Rhys, was considerably more hospitable towards the man who thought of himself as my future.
After a vigorous shower to wipe Will’s kisses off my skin, just as Rhys had promised, there was a large unmarked box on my bed with a variety of simple shirts and jeans. At the very bottom was the ‘special item’ Rhys had said he had bought for my initiation ceremony. It was beautiful. It would suit me to the letter. It was also something that a man would put on a woman to show what the other’s were missing. What he owned. I loved and loathed it.
Instead of giving the promised fashion show, I threw on a simple tee and jeans and came back down, relaying I was too tired after all the sun and sea.
The four of us sat together outside in the garden for the next hour in casualness with tea, talking over recent happenings in the town. It was clear that at one stage Iona and Rhys had been friends. They shared many acquaintances, and she seemed relieved that she was ‘allowed’ to be on good speaking terms with the man again, now that he was treating her granddaughter to dates and the niceties of a courtship. They gossiped about grandsons of Iona’s friends and the older woman seemed genuinely appreciative to again have a link to the outside world.
I internally grimaced at the potential problem. Iona and Rhys, friends?
Eventually, Rhys stood to leave for his daily farm chores and I walked him out to the gate. He took my two hands in his at the exit.
“I’m sorry about before. I walked in there and I smelled you and sex, and I kind of just assumed the worst. Then I looked everywhere for you in a near frenzy, thinking someone took you, only to find you covered in beer and giving the whole pub a show.”
I raised one of my hands in protest. “Not my fault Mike is clumsy.”
Rhys smiled. “I know. I’m sorry, forgiven?”
I simply nodded, and Rhys leaned in for a kiss and I turned my cheek for it. The coarseness of his beard made me shiver with the sensation. He smirked down at the action, “Maybe not all forgiven, huh? ...Well, I’ll work up to it.”
I gave a small smile to indicate he had the gist.
“Uh, look, Red, you’re probably going to start to get those jitters tomorrow. But it’s all normal. Unfortunately, I’m probably going to be out for the whole day with some work, but I’ll try to check on you the day after and make sure everything is right for that night, alright?”
I looked up to the sky, trying to find the moon, suddenly slightly alarmed at the case of the crazies I had been experiencing for the last three months might make its sudden appearance.
“Don’t worry, Red. it’s not going to suddenly attack.”
He leaned down from his height to my ear, hugging his body around mine.
“She’ll sound like heaven and hell. Music and chaos. That’s why we go wild. It’s everything sweet but terrible rolled into one,” he whispered before gently kissing the soft spot under my lobe on my neck. I held my breath as he paused, not knowing if the shower had done the job, or Rhys was taking his time to inspect his compensation for an accident when he was young.
Eventually, he pulled back and gave a warm smile.
“I had a really good time. I’ll see you soon.” I nodded placidly and squeezed his hands in parting. Watching him get back into his truck and drive down the lane, I sighed in relief. Whatever weird infatuation my body had with Rhys felt completely vanished. Whether it was my brain finally making my body understand the Adonis was as vicious and cruel as the father, or because Will, my mate, had finally hunted me down and laid into me. But I definitely did not feel the hormonal turbulence anymore when it came to Rhys Maddock.
Who the fuck was I kidding? Of course it was because of Will. Will was the beginning and end.
I trudged back up to the house and gave an excuse for a nap to Iona and Omar, heading up to my room and looking over the clothes still on my bed.
I frowned at the sight of them, gifts ‘given’ to me from Jones’ money and other’s blood. Blood money. I had to face facts.
Rhys Maddock was just as dangerous, vindictive, and cruel as the Maddock senior. If it was him in his father’s place thirty years ago, he would have done the same thing to Ewan Jones. Furthermore, he threatened death to Will, if he ever found him. He had to go. I paced the room slowly, reasoning out my options. I could just make it look like both had some kind of stroke or another aneurysm? If I did it far enough apart from each other and with an audience, then I probably wouldn’t raise suspicion.
But then grimaced at the result. The Maddock pack seem to have an army of thugs who could happily take over the resources and continue on operating, just like they had for years. A Beta, similar to Vince, if not him, would assume Alpha and fill the role. This was a hydra problem, cut off one head and another would take its place. Everything had to go at once. The Maddock pack, the resources, and the operation.
Calmly, I took out the notepad from the little desk in my room and wrote the time and place where Jolene was to meet me. I placed it under my pillow and thought of her own, confident after a moment it had been sent.
The time for Deian and Rhys’ death and the revenge for the Jones’ family was set.