“Wait, this can’t be the same guy.” Daniel interjected. “He died in the explosion. There are records.” Daniel scrambled to find the file that had the body identifications in it. “Here.” He shoved it to Nick, and I like we didn’t look at it before.
“Is it possible to fake your own death? I mean, how accurate are these?” I asked.
“I think it’s more possible to pay off the medical examiner to fake the records.” Nick wiped his hand over his mouth as he processed this new information. Daniel sank back into his chair as this possibility slowly became a reality. “Okay, we’re not going to say a word of this to the pack. Emma and I are going to take this picture to Derek’s neighbor and see if he can ID him. Daniel, I want you to get in touch with the Beta from the East pack. Set up a meeting with their Alpha, but I’ll take a meeting with the Beta. Tell them I want to formally thank them for helping us with the herbs they gave Derek and I want a meeting ASAP, don’t take no for an answer.” I know in the past I have been angry with Nick for keeping things from the pack, but now that I was Luna, I can see why he does. If the pack knew Jackson was back, there would be full on panic. We couldn’t let that happen, we had to keep them in the dark.
“Yes sir.” Daniel got up from his chair and excused himself from the office to begin making phone calls. Nick and I left the house to go straight to Derek’s apartment.
I held Nick’s hand as he drove, I couldn’t imagine what was going on in his head right now. But I was secretly hoping my mother had faked her death like it seemed that Jackson did. It was highly unlikely, unfortunately. Unlike Jackson, my mother had no reason to.
“I was with him, Emma.” Nick finally spoke. “The whole time we were there. He told me to run, he told me to get out after the explosion hit.” Nick shook his head. “I barely made it off that floor with you. I don’t understand how it’s possible he survived that.” Nick was sixteen at the time of the explosion, he had a better memory of it than I did at only twelve. Sure, I remember the explosion, but the memory I have is clouded with my grief of losing my mother. I cling to the memory of Nick saving me to help ease the pain of that day.
“It might not be him.” I said. “We don’t know yet.” Something inside me told me I was lying to Nick. I could feel it in my bones that Jackson somehow survived the explosion and has been behind everything.
I got out of the car and ran to the buzzer of Derek’s apartment, but I got no answer.
“We don’t have time for that, Emma.” Nick walked right past me and kicked the gate in, the door to the apartment breaking with it. Damn, okay then. I followed him in, and we jogged up the stairs, but right before we got to Derek’s floor Nick’s arm shot out and stopped me. “Wait.” He said as he breathed in.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I smell blood.” I was so lost in my own thoughts that I didn’t even take the time to check my surroundings. “Stay close to me.” He took my hand and inched his way around the corner. We passed Derek’s apartment, the door still broken in from my last visit with him, but Derek’s neighbor had his door open. The closer we got to the door, the more the smell of copper filled my nose. As Nick pushed the door open more, we could see the gruesome scene in front of us. There was so much blood. I covered my mouth as I stared at the once helpful old man laying on the floor in a pool of his own blood. Someone ripped him to pieces. “The door wasn’t broken in, he let his killer in willingly.” Nick looked around the apartment with the eye of a detective. We could tell we were alone, and the killer was long gone by the smell of the apartment.
“Do you think it was Jackson?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“I don’t know.” Nick pulled his phone out and called his Beta, filling him in on the situation. “Contact any family you can and get someone over here to log all the evidence.” He hung up and took my hand, leading me away from the mess. “It’s gonna be okay, Emma. Daniel got a meeting with the Alpha of the East pack. He’s going to meet us at the training center, so we have to go.” I nodded, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the door of the apartment. That poor wolf, he was only trying to help me. “Emma.” Nick turned my head, so I was forced to look at him. “I’m going to make this right.” I had no doubt that Nick would. His pack meant the world to him, and he wouldn’t let this man’s death go unpunished.
The ride to the training center was utterly silent. Nick’s mind must have been reeling and I knew I had to let him take the lead on this one. The East pack would have answers we were looking for, they just had to. Nick put the car in park and turned to me.
“Daniel made this meeting, but it doesn’t come without a price.”
“What do you mean?”
“These meetings are hard to come by, especially one made this quickly. Daniel had to make a deal to get them here this quickly.”
“What kind of deal?” I asked.
“Let’s go find out.” He got out of the car and I didn’t wait for him to open my door as he usually would. I got out on my own and rushed to his side. The training center was empty, Daniel must have cleared it out before we came. It was eerie to see it this way at this time of day. Usually the Omegas would be taking full advantage of it. We stood, hand in hand and waited for the Alpha of the East pack to enter. He didn’t come alone. He was a tall man, but he wasn’t dressed formally. His salt and pepper hair gave him an attractive trait as an older gentleman. His Beta stood to his side, a frightening looking warrior type. Two Omegas trailed behind them, female twins with tight dreadlocks that reached well past their asses. Nick bowed slightly to the group and I followed suit. “It’s nice to see you again, Reginald, I must thank you for coming on such short notice.”
“Oh, please, Nicklaus, call me Reggie.”
“Only if you call me Nick.”
“Agreed.” Reginald turned to me and I locked my emerald eyes with his chocolate brown ones. “And you,” he smiled warmly at me and I felt Nick tense beside me. “Must be Emma.” He held his hand out. “May I?” He didn’t lose my eye contact as I placed my hand in his own. He brought it to his lips and lingered longer than I felt comfortable with, but I showed no weakness. I have never felt something like this before. Reggie seemed so soft and sweet on the outside, but I could feel it in my body that he was dangerous. I needed to proceed with caution and play the part of a recovering sick Luna. He finally dropped my hand and smiled again. “So sorry, I’m being rude.” He motioned to his Beta. “This is Kendrick, my Beta. And this is Octavia and Ophelia, my daughters.” I bowed low to them.
“Nice to meet you.” Nick put an area around my waist and cleared his throat.
“Shall we?” He motioned to his small office and we all followed him. Nick closed the door behind us and pulled out the chair for Reggie. He sat down, his pack standing behind him. Nick pulled out the chair behind the desk and had me sit, him standing behind me with his hand on my shoulder possessively.
“I love what you’ve done with the place, such a shame we haven’t seen it before.”
“Let’s get to business, Reginald.” Nick was stern and hard, something he doesn’t show me anymore. Sometimes I forget how dangerous my mate really is.
“Nicklaus, so professional.” He laughed. “As you please.”
“What is it that you want for this prompt meeting?” Nick got right to the point.
“Hm, yes, always a bargain.” Did Derek have to bargain for the herbs he used to help me? Maybe that’s why he’s MIA. “I know you can smell the war in the air.” Reggie fiddled with his necklace, but never let his smirk fall. “The Wicked Women in the West have been making deals with your old pal Stefan for years. It’s only a matter of time before they attack.” The West pack was made up mostly of women, their culture is much different than ours, or any other culture I’ve seen. The women a take care of everything the pack needs, the males of the pack are basically used as sex slaves to have more offspring. It’s been rumored that they kill the baby boy pups, but no one has ever gone down that road to prove it. If they’ve been making deals with the South pack, that didn’t look good for us or the East pack. “Now, I may have a reputation for being soft, but I assure you, I train my pack to kill.” Nick tightened his grip on my shoulder, he was processing all the ways this deal could hurt or help our pack. “But you, Nicklaus, you have quite the reputation for such a young man.” Reggie threw his foot up on the arm of the chair and leaned back, making himself quite comfortable. “You’ll do anything to protect your pack, and I the same.” He turned his attention to me again. “Even your pack will go great lengths to help your Luna.” I sucked in a breath; he knew Derek. Reggie sat up in his chair and leaned across the desk. “May I?” He asked me. Nick threw his arm across my chest.
“No.” He answered for me, and Reggie looked up to meet his glare.
“Very well.” Reggie sat back in his chair.
“It’s okay, Nick.” I turned to him, but I didn’t dare remove his arm from my protection. “I want to thank him for his help.” Reluctantly, Nick removed his arm and I reached a hand up to my shirt, slowly pulling it down to reveal my scar.
“Interesting.” Reggie examined my scar, but he didn’t raise a hand to me. I put my shirt back in place and locked eyes with the Alpha.
“So, what is it that you want, Reggie?” I asked him.
“I like you.” He smiled at me again, leaning back into his chair once more. “I want protection. I want to form an alliance with your pack, if the South or West attacks my pack, you will come to aid. If the South or West attacks your pack, we will come to aid.” Nick extended his hand out across the desk.
“Deal.” He said. Reggie shook his hand before clapping.
“I’ll have my people put together a contract and send it over to you as soon as possible.” Nick placed his hand back on my shoulder. “As appreciative as I am about your remedies that helped heal my Luna, you must understand I have questions.”
“Oh, my dear, Nicklaus, I wouldn’t have thought any differently.”