I stared in confusion at the little boy sitting in Kayla’s lap. He had dark hair and light brown eyes. Almost golden in color. I didn’t know a lot about kids, but he was small, probably about a year old.
I had seen the photos—and the kid’s room—but it never fully registered that Kayla may have been a mother. But...how? Our bond may have been week all these years, but we were still mated. I would have known if she had slept with someone else. I would have known if she gave birth. Wouldn’t I?
The only time I remember getting a strong reaction through our bond was a little over two years ago.
It had been the only time I had caved in and called her parents to see if she was okay. They told me that she was fine, but that I should never call again. I hadn’t.
Looking down at this child in Kayla’s arms my confusion and anger mounted. She had a child, and he wasn’t mine!
I should have known. Once a whore, always a whore.
Keeping my voice as flat, and emotionless, as possible I addressed Cameron—who I could feel hovering in the doorway.
“You called me out here, Cameron. So let’s go somewhere and talk.” I sent a scathing glance around Kayla’s home and in her direction—making sure to encompass the boy in her lap. “This place is a little...lacking in hospitality. Why don’t we go somewhere more private to discuss our business?” With that I walked past a silent Kayla, and a stunned Cameron.
I didn’t give a shit what they thought of me at the moment. My mate had a child that wasn’t mine, and I wasn’t about to stand around in the same room with it—or her. It was all I could do at that moment not to shift and rip every single one of them to shreds. They were just lucky I was here to find my sister, otherwise their blood would have painted the walls.
My vision turned red, a buzz filled my ears. My whole body shook from the suppressed urge to shift—to destroy everything in my path.
A hand landed on my shoulder. Before the offender could blink, I was shoving them face down on the hood of my car while wrenching one of their arms behind their back to the point of dislocation.
The buzzing in my ears grew louder. Until it registered that it was words being spoken from the person I was imprisoning against my car. After shaking my head to clear the red haze, I was able to understand the words a little better. Although, the meaning took a little while to sink in.
“Dammit, Alexander, it’s just me. Cameron. I only asked if you were okay. Dude, let go. Fuck man! What the Hell! Get off of me!”
I finally released him and took a step back. Without acknowledging what just happened, I stepped around him—and my car—to the driver’s side, sliding behind the wheel. Leaning over, I wrenched the passenger door open to let him know to get in.
Instead, he only ducked down to look at me, then glanced behind my car. He did this a few more times before he finally spoke. “Uh, Alexander? You do know that I’m parked behind you right?”
Glancing in the rearview mirror, I saw he was right. His late model pick-up was parked almost on my bumper. God Dammit! Couldn’t anything go right today?!
Keeping my face stoney, I slammed out of my car, locking the doors using my key fob. This neighborhood sucked. I was not going to risk someone making off with my car. If they wanted it they would get a nasty little surprise first—a fifty thousand volt shock—if they tried to mess with the locks, or smash a window.
Even a werewolf would hesitate before trying to mess with that kind of alarm system.
Neither Cameron or I spoke as we got into his truck and drove the five minutes it took to get to the seedy bar called ‘Bryan’s Place.’ It was early yet, so the place was nearly deserted, but there were still a few die hards who were bellied up to the counter.
Considering the neighborhood, it didn’t surprise me.
We took a booth in a far corner of the bar and waited for the waitress to take our drink orders. We stayed silent, while the drinks were made and then placed in front of us. Once the waitress left again, the silence became thick with tension.
“So are you going to tell me where Emily is? Or are we going to stare at our drinks all night?” I growled at Cameron.
He was the one that called me. He was the reason I was here. I should be out looking for my sister, not twiddling my thumbs over lukewarm beer.
Cameron hesitated before taking a sip of his beer. Grimacing at the—no doubt—bitter taste, he finally looked at me. Clearing his throat, he fidgeted a little before starting, “Listen, I know you want to find your sister, but there are some things you need to know first.”
“Like what?” I growled again, already loosing my patience with him.
“Well, for one, Kayla works for the Council as a spy. She’s currently undercover at the facility that is holding Emily.”
My beer mug shattered in my hand. I hadn’t realized I had been holding it that hard. But when he said Kayla was working with the monsters that had taken my sister, had kidnapped countless others, and was doing it under orders from the Council—I almost lost it completely.
Luckily, no one seemed to notice, or care, about the episode. The waitress came over long enough to wipe up the spill and then disappeared behind the bar again.
“You said for one. What else do I need to know?” I said in a tight, controlled voice.
Cameron looked at me apprehensively. I couldn’t blame him. I was ready to let my wolf out so he could destroy this place. Whatever he had to say had better be good, otherwise this bar wasn’t going to be here much longer.
Still looking unsure, Cameron said, “You have to promise not to go off the rails. You need to think about what I’m telling you. You have to keep your cool, and think about the consequences of what I’m about to tell you. Can you do that?”
His little speech intrigued me. What could he possibly say that I would need to keep my cool and think about the consequences of? What the Hell was going on? Deciding to hear him out, I took deep breaths and reined my wolf in. Letting him know that later today we would go for a hunt. He seemed satisfied and settled in to see what was going to happen.
Nodding to Cameron, I waited to hear what he had to say.
Sighing, he rubbed his hands over his face—through his hair before—looking me in the eyes again. “Okay, I told you Kayla works for the Council as a spy, and she’s undercover with these psychos. Well, here’s where it gets tricky. When Emily was first taken, Kayla was going to get her out of there with my help, only the Council forbade it.
We couldn’t believe what we were hearing when she got the call from them. They said to leave Emily in the facility.”
To say I was shocked was an understatement. But, was what he was saying true? Did the Council really oder that Emily be kept in a facility run by monsters?
“Do you understand what I’m telling youAlexander? I think the Council, or at least some of them, are part of this whole thing. Are behind Emily’s kidnapping.” His hand ran through his hair again, “But that’s not all of it.”
Not all of it! What else could there be?!
“The Council also threatened Kayla’s son...Your son...”
I thought my heart couldn’t break anymore—I was wrong. Oh God, it hurt so much. Tears streamed down my face to land on my son’s tousled hair.
He looked up at me as one stray tear landed on his pert little nose. He wrinkled it adorably, but I couldn’t find it in me to laugh at his cute face. My heart was shattering inside my chest.
The father he had never known, just walked out that door, dismissing us from his life.
Anger soon filled the hollow place where my heart used to lie. Lex can go ahead and treat me however he damn well pleased, but he will not treat our son as if he is something to be despised.
Our son is something to be cherished. He is a gift, made in a time when we once loved each other. Quinn should be shown that same love. Not this disdain and indifference that just walked out our door.
I was not going to stand for it.
I have done everything I can for over the past three years to make sure that our son came into this world healthy. That he has remained so, and that he is a happy well adjusted little boy. I was not going to let his brute of a father ruin everything I had worked so hard to achieve.
A small hand reached up wiping a tear from my cheek. “Don’t cry Mommy. Cam-on took mean man away. Can I play outside?”
That brought a small chuckle from me. My son’s conversations always ramble from one topic to the next. But they always ended up with asking to go outside.
I was bone tired, but I didn’t want to miss spending time with Quinn. Placing him on the floor, I held him in place with my hands on his cheeks. “Yes, you can go outside, but we will go out back. Go grab some trucks to play with from your room.” With that I smushed his cheeks together and gave his funny face a kiss.
He let out a pretend gag, and then ran off giggling to his room to find his favorite trucks to take outside.
While he was rummaging around looking for his toys, I searched for a light jacket to wear. Quinn was still wearing his from being out with Cameron, but I needed something to keep the chill January air at bay.
I just thank God we live in California, and the winters here aren’t that bad. Back in Colorado we would have been snowed in by now. That’s something I miss about our transfer out here, snow.
Quinn was too young to remember his first snow fall, and it had been an unusually warm winter for Colorado this year, so the snow was late in coming. I really wanted him to experience his first snow ball fight. Make a snow angel, or build a snowman.
Letting out a defeated sigh, I spotted one of Cameron’s old sweaters lying just inside his door. I grabbed it on the fly thinking that I would have to wait to see my son experience all the joys of a great snow day.
But today, he would get to play with his trucks outside, and I would get a rare afternoon just to sit and enjoy him.
Grabbing my phones from my room, I walked to the back door—located in the kitchen—to see Quinn trying to reach the handle.
Laughing, I reached over him and pulled the door open to let him free into the brisk California winter air. This was our time. I was going to enjoy every minute of it. And no snarky-Alpha-wanna-be was going to ruin it for me.
I held my breath as I waited for the news to sink into Alexander’s head. This particular wolf was too damn stubborn for his own good. He hurt himself, and his mate, because of his idiocy.
Taking an absent sip from the beer in my hands, I grimaced at the acrid taste. I always forget this place has the worst liquor. They could give you the damn unopened bottle and it would still taste like horse piss.
With a disgusted sigh, I set it aside and waited for the man across from me to come out of his stunned stupor.
I mean seriously, was it that big of a shocker that the kid was his? You’d have to be blind not to notice how much they look alike. Then again, Alexander was an unmitigated ass so it shouldn’t come as a shock that he wouldn’t recognize his own son.
A growl rumbled from the chest of the wolf across from me. “There’s no way that kid is mine. He’s too young,” he said stubbornly.
I looked at him incredulously. Seriously? Did he think I was making this shit up?! Slamming my hands on the table in front of me, I stood, shoving my nose into his face. “Get your head out of your ass Alexander,” I sneered. “Kayla never cheated on you. The day you walked away from her, she had just found out she was pregnant.” I had to take a deep breath to calm myself. If I didn’t, I couldn’t be held responsible for what might happen.
Once I had myself under control again, I looked at his blank face. “Just try to listen to your wolf, to your mate. For God’s sake, to someone other than your deluded pride! When you want to find out what the fuck is going on give me a call. Until then...until then, you need to think about how you are going to make things up with Kayla.”
With that, I walked out of the seedy bar. I didn’t care that I had driven the both of us here, I just got in my truck and headed back to my home. He could sit and stew for a while. When he was ready to talk, he could either come to my house or call me. At this point, I didn’t care anymore.
I arrived home to find Kayla and Quinn outside in the backyard. Kayla was just sitting on the back steps watching her son play on the small plastic play set she got him at a garage sale last summer.
Seeing it, and all the small toys strewn across the small yard, made me wish there was more I could do for the both of them. But with the Council breathing down our necks, and the fact my cover was blown with the Hunters, there wasn’t much I could do. Other than to keep them safe in my own way.
I was about to go outside with them and explain everything that was going on, when there was a knock on the front door. With one last glance over my shoulder at my sister and nephew, I headed to the front of the small house to see who could possibly be here at this time of day. The only visitors we ever got were the bill collectors or the land lord.
Looking through the peephole in the door, I saw a tall, dark haired man and a small, blonde haired woman. I immediately recognized them from when I was in Colorado. What on earth were these two doing here?
Opening the door I said, “Devin? Leah? What are you two doing here?”
They were obviously having a private conversation as they looked at me startled. Devin gave me a grim smile, while Leah looked at me with a small shy lift of the lips.
I knew Leah couldn’t talk, I never did get the reason why, so I looked to Devin for the answer as to their appearance on my doorstep.
He gave me an uncomfortable grimace, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck. I was taken aback by the gesture. It was rare for an Alpha to show a sign of weakness. Especially this Alpha. I cast a quick glance at Leah, his mate, and my suspicions were confirmed.
I had to suppress a laugh. Leah had brow beat her mate into coming, and he wasn’t happy about it.
“Can we come in and talk about this instead of standing on the porch?” Devin asked suddenly, breaking the awkward silence that had descended between the three of us.
Gesturing them in, I closed the door behind them and leaned against it. “Well, care to explain why you came all the way out here to see little old me?”
Devin ignored me, instead he brought his mate over to the couch and forced her to sit down. It was only then that I noticed that she was sporting a small baby bump. Huh, no wonder he wasn’t happy with her being here. His instincts are probably going crazy to get her home and in bed where he can hover over her until it’s time for their pup to come.
“Do you want any tea or anything for the mama-to-be?” I asked with a small smile. I remembered when Kayla was pregnant, and I had to make her tea or juice every five minutes. She couldn’t get enough of it.
I was rewarded with a smile from Leah and a thankful nod from Devin. I turned to walk into the kitchen when he called out to me, “If you could, can you bring in some crackers or something? She needs to eat.”
“Sure,” I said. With a quick look at the microwave clock showing it was close to dinner time, I figured I’d go ahead and make something for everyone and get the crackers for Leah to hold her over until dinner was done.
My only warning was the sound of the back door opening, and the shout of, “Uncle Cam-on!” before I was tackled by my fireball of a nephew.
I swung him up into my arms and spun him around so we could greet his mother coming in slowly from the backyard. I took a hard look at her and noticed the dark circles under her eyes, the puffiness from crying, and the determined look in her eyes not to let the previous events get her down.
Devin and Leah came into the kitchen before I could warn Kayla about them. Kayla and Leah stared at each other for the longest time before Devin sprinted to Kayla’s side as she crumpled to the ground.
I was frozen where I stood with Quinn in my arms. What the Hell just happened?