I was manhandled by two wolves, but I didn’t put up a fight. I had to be smart about this, and I knew I wouldn’t make it out alive without knowing where to go. Not with Jackson and his bow. I was taken to the room with the security screens and pushed into a chair. One of the wolves removed the brace around my ankle, finally freeing me from the chain, only to confine me to the leg of the chair with handcuffs around both ankles and my wrists. I didn’t fight them, I just watched Jackson as he paced the room, his bow hanging from his back. The door opened and I watched as Derek entered, a confused look on his face.
“What’s going on?” He asked. Jackson chuckled, but the look on his face wasn’t a happy one.
“Where were you?” Jackson hissed. Derek looked to me and then back to Jackson, seemingly worried I wasn’t supposed to know the answer.
“I was getting intel.”
“You were supposed to be watching her.” Jackson stepped up to Derek in a threatening manner.
“I left her with Dom, he was in charge.”
“Dom is dead.” Jackson turned to me and glared. “Along with eight of my wolves!” He took the bloodied metal tray off the counter and held it up to me. “She killed nine of my wolves with a tray.” He turned back to Derek. “With a fucking tray, Derek!” Derek tried to hide the smirk that planted over his lips.
“I told you she was resourceful.” Derek crossed his arms over his chest. “I warned you, Em.”
“I don’t listen well.” I smiled at him.
“Enough of this.” Jackson slammed the metal tray on the ground. “We kill her now!” Jackson turned his anger to me, but Derek stepped in front of him.
“We kill her now; we’ll never get Nick here.”
“He doesn’t have to know she’s dead.” Jackson pushed Derek to the side, facing me once more.
“His wolf will know the minute her heart stops.” Derek wasn’t done pleading his case. “You want revenge, you keep her alive.” I laughed and both wolves turned to me.
“That’s what this is about?” I laughed again. “You’re pissed off Nick got the pack instead of you? How pathetic.”
“Mind your manners, bitch.” Jackson growled at me.
“Didn’t you see what I did to the last wolf to call me that?” I had no room to be threatening this man, but I also didn’t have a filter over my mouth at the moment.
“Last time we met, you were taken away in an ambulance and dead on the table.” Jackson leaned closer to me, but I didn’t falter.
“And yet, here I am.”
“Listen,” Derek interrupted. “Nothing has changed. We can still do this.” I knew I had leverage, they needed me alive to get Nick to this dungeon. If I could shift, I could mind-link myself to him and warn him to stay away. The way things were now, it wasn’t going to happen. Hell, I wasn’t even sure I could shift. I should have listened to Dr. Morris when she told me to do it, but of course I was too stubborn to do so.
“Fine. But she doesn’t get left alone. And you are her new babysitter.” Jackson pushed Derek as he walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
“I guess ‘Babysitter’ is a better title than ‘Traitor’.”
“Don’t be like that, Em.” Derek knelt to me and reached for my face, but I pulled away from him. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
“How was it supposed to be, Derek?” I lifted my head and locked eyes with him, letting the pain in my voice show.
“We’d be in the East pack now if you would have listened to me.” He put his hand on my thigh, and I had no way to remove it. “If you would have just left that stupid pack behind, none of this would have happened.”
“Why did it have to happen anyway?” I asked. “Derek, we were fine in our pack.” I had to get him to believe me. I had to play on his emotions like he had played me for all these years.
“When you didn’t want to leave, the new plan was to stay, but it would have never worked with Nick there.”
“Because he beat you in the ring?”
“No, because of my debt.”
“What debt, Derek?”
“I wasn’t born in your pack, Emma. I was born in the South pack, but I left when I was a child. My father—” Derek shook his head. “I had to get away. I fled to the East pack, but they didn’t want me. They feared what the South might do if they found out where I was, but Alpha Reginald sent me to Alpha Phillip. He said I could stay with the North pack, but for a price.” Derek had no idea I already knew this, so I had to make it convincing.
“He made me a spy between the packs.” Derek looked down to his feet. “I make relationships with the other packs, so they trust me, and I brought him intel.” Derek looked up at me. “I wouldn’t do it for Nick. When Alpha Phillip was dead, I promised myself I would be free of this debt and not help Nick. With him in the way, I can’t be a free wolf, I’ll remain a slave for the Alphas.”
“Derek, Nick knows nothing of this debt. You’ve been a free wolf all this time.” Derek shook his head at me.
“It’s not true.”
“I promise you, Derek.”
“Nick is a liar!” Derek stood up and pointed his finger in my face. “He will lie about me to keep you away from me!” I shook my head right back at him.
“That’s not true, Derek.” He stormed to the door, his hand holding the knob, but he realized he couldn’t leave, and his hand fell back to his side. “Derek,” I tried to pull his attention back to me. “How long have you been with Jackson?” He ignored me and I pulled at my cuffs. “Derek, please. This hurts.” He finally looked up at me, despair in his eyes. He shook his head and looked away.
“I can’t let you go.”
“Please, Derek. I won’t hurt you.”
“You already have.” He turned to me again.
“I’m sorry.” I pulled at the cuffs again. “We can leave together. We can leave the country, none of these packs would matter. We can join a new pack. Derek, we can make a new pack. You and I will take in the rogues that the other packs betrayed. You’ll be Alpha. We’ll start a new life together.”
“It’s too late.”
“It’s not!” I yanked at my cuffs again. “It’s never too late, Derek.”
“You’ll never forgive me for what I’ve done.”
“I just killed nine wolves, Derek. I already forgive you. You saved my life.”
“I didn’t know he was going to shoot you.” Derek’s eyes connected with mine once more. “We sent the rogues out to limit your numbers. They were supposed to kill as many Omegas as they could. Jackson wasn’t supposed to go. He wasn’t supposed to hurt you.”
“It’s okay, Derek, you didn’t mean for it to happen.”
“I was so mad, I thought you were dead.” I allowed him to cup my face as he knelt in front of me again. “I went to the East pack; I knew they had herbs they’ve been testing to help with wolfsbane. I didn’t know if it would work, but I had to try. I had to try for you.”
“Thank you, Derek. You saved my life.” I was completely genuine with him. For all the evil he had gotten himself into, he still saved me.
“I don’t want a life without you, Em.”
“Please, Derek, just tell me how we got here.” I leaned into his hand. “Tell me how you got yourself into this.”
“Jackson helped take care of me.” He whispered. “He didn’t raise me like he did with Nick, but he was like a father to me.” I held on to his words, I needed to know the details. “He had a plan with the South pack, I tried to talk him out of it. Their Alpha—he’s ruthless. I tried to get Jackson to back out of the plan, but he wouldn’t. Stefan blew up the building to kill Jackson and Nick.” A soft sob escaped my lips. After ten years, I finally had my answers. My mother was never the target, she was just dragged into a battle she couldn’t win. Derek wrapped his arms around me and all I wanted to do was hold him back, but the cuffs prevented me from doing so. I collapsed my head into his shoulder and tried to control myself. I couldn’t grieve here, not right now.
“You knew?” I whispered into his shoulder. “All this time?”
“I knew your mother was killed, but you never said anything to me, so it made it easier to hide it from you.” I pulled my head back away from him.
“Jackson died in that fire. How is he alive?”
“I saved him.” Derek kept his hold on me as we spoke. “He’s burnt, badly. He dresses to cover it, but I helped him heal with the East pack’s herbs. I have a friend there.” Octavia and Ophelia. He’s been using the twins for far longer than I thought. “He wanted to go back to the pack when he was healed, but I wouldn’t let him. Philip was dead and Nick was already named Alpha, so his position was already taken from him. But he was angry and wanted revenge.”
“Who killed Philip?” I asked.
“Stefan sent his Omegas to attack, he wanted to show them that he wouldn’t be used like Jackson tried to use him. Teach them a lesson. They weren’t supposed to kill the Alpha, but it happened, and Stefan was furious.”
“Why?” I asked. “With Philip out of the way, why wouldn’t Stefan just try and take over the pack from Nick?”
“Because he wanted didn’t want the North pack.”
“Why?” Derek let me go and stood to his feet again. “Derek, what are you hiding?”
“Stefan wanted me to retaliate and take the pack for myself. I wouldn’t do it, Jackson is the rightful Alpha, I wouldn’t take that away from him like Nick did.”
“Nick thought Jackson was dead, he didn’t take the pack on purpose.”
“Nick was being groomed to take over the pack and toss Jackson aside long before that explosion, don’t defend him.” Derek looked at me with disgust, and I needed to pull him back in.
“Why would Stefan want you to take over the pack?” I diverted the conversation away from Nick.
“Because he’s my father.”