West of Destiny (Book 5 of The Claimed Series)

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Chapter 38

West

“Right, so we’ve sent patrol to set out the traps, and we’ll have an eye in the skies, so to speak, in a tree high up every one hundred or so feet.” Paul tapped his chin, thinking what else could be done in preparation for a war. A very short, but brutal war I was sure. “We’ve got the traps and no one from the packs should be going out there except patrol from Destiny and Arrowhead. There are shifters running a circuit along the outskirts to the east, west, north and south, and we have movement sensors that will pick up anything on the perimeter. Anything else?”

He looked at me and Zach as we both shook our heads. There was only so much that could be done, and we were banking on the movement sensors high in the trees picking up anything before our patrol did. Enforcers from Destiny had come over to help our allies, and Artemis had been informed of Seneca’s deception. The man had looked pretty tense when I was introduced to him—as Lucy’s new mate, no less.

He’d mumbled something cursory and looked down like I had been judging him. I wasn’t—at least not really, but it’s not like I could be angry at him for practically handing over my second mate on a silver platter.

He would let Zach and Paul take charge, he said—handing down the reins now that he had good allies and his son had a Luna. I assumed they would have some sort of ceremony after all the unpleasantness was done, but I couldn’t bring myself to care. I had seen Zach’s mark upon his neck, and my immediate thought was to share the happy news with someone, only I didn’t know how Lucy would react.

I was still sort of struggling to think of her as completely mine when her ex-mate was still alive and well and only a few feet away from me. Rejections like that? They rarely happened, especially in Alphas and their mates.

I even mentioned that maybe Seneca’s motives were to pair him with someone not his true mate for a purpose. It would make him seem weak to have rejected his true mate and pair with another. In our region of the country, it was almost taboo to claim one who was not your mate. It was surprising that Artemis had gotten away with it without anyone giving him disparaging glances. The man must have ruled with an iron thumb.

We broke apart as Zach went to speak with his head enforcer, and Paul wandered over to his man in charge on the outskirts of Arrowhead. I could see him speaking seriously to the enforcer, Caleb, and the warrior nodding back looking just as stern.

“You’re West, aren’t you?”

I looked back at a blond female with crystal blue eyes and long blond hair that swept straight down her back. Turning to her, I stuck out my hand to greet the woman. She definitely smelled of pack, but she didn’t have a scent I recognized.

“Yes, miss. I’m West.” She took my hand and shook it.

“And you’re mated to Lucy, right?”

She was curious, but I had to figure that was because she wore the Alpha’s mark. “You’re Luna Enid?”

She nodded and smiled. “Yes, that’s right. I’m Zach’s chosen mate.”

She was self-deprecating for a female so pretty, and I liked immediately her for it.

Shaking my head, I spoke. “You are to be the new Luna of Arrowhead. You shouldn’t demean yourself even the slightest bit by calling yourself his chosen. If he chose you after Lucy—” I shook my head again, smiling. “—then there must have been a damned good reason he did. Trust me, I would know.”

She smiled, a little warmer this time, and clasped her hands in front of her. “You were the one that told Zach what my father was doing, right? You and Paul?”

“Yes, that’s right,” I told her. “Lucy was in town looking for baby things with Faith, and—”

“Faith?” Her eyes perked up. “I knew a girl named Faith once. Quiet little thing. Very sweet. Came from my old pack. Josh—that was my first mate, though we didn’t get a chance to claim each other—was best friends with her. Both omegas. Both loyal. I…I wonder whatever happened to her.”

My proverbial ears perked up. “What do you mean?”

“Well, she was a bit of an outcast at Emerald Pack,” she confessed. “Her father blamed her for killing her mother, but it wasn’t truly her fault. There was—”

“A wildcat?” I interjected immediately as I latched onto her story. “Was her mother killed by a wildcat?”

“Yes.” Her brow crinkled. “But how did you know?”

I gave her a small half-smile. “A couple of months ago we were scouting the perimeter when we came across the body of a small female near the river that comes down from the falls. The girl was brought back to our clinic and was unconscious for a few days before she woke up and told us her full name. Sienna Faith Richards, though she said everyone called her Faith. I had almost forgotten she was from Emerald, actually. She found her mate at Destiny a little while later. A young man by the name 0f Carter. At first she was very shy ad soft-spoken. She’s much better now that she has her mate.”

Enid looked as happy as if she had found her true mate to be alive still—or maybe she was truly happy with Zach. I didn’t begrudge him—not any more—and hoped that was true.

She rattled off questions before handing me a slip of paper with her phone number on it and begging me to give it to Faith so that they could ‘reconnect’, as she put it. It turned out she was never allowed to play with the omega females. Her father wouldn’t have allowed it.

With every new bit of information that I learned about Seneca, I liked the man less and less. He was never going to be on my growing list of people I’d like to meet, but he had certainly wormed his way onto the shortlist of people I’d like to strangle to death.

After she left, Paul came over to me and gave my shoulder a hearty slap. “What did the new Luna want?”

“It appears she has more in common with Lucy than just an ex-mate,” I told him. “She was friends with Faith when they lived at Emerald Pack together. Faith was best friends—or only friends—with the Enid’s true mate that was killed.”

“Small fucking world,” Paul muttered before raking his hand through his hair and looking towards the north. “It’s gonna get dark out soon, so we best be getting back. And hey, at least I feel better about Faith knowing she’s friendly with the Arrowhead Luna.” Whenever Paul said anything to Faith, she got a little bug-eyed and quiet. It kind of creeped Paul out, but I assured him that it was only his status in the pack and not that she was hiding anything. It didn’t help that Seneca had been a staunch, authoritarian Alpha from what Enid had divulged to Zach, as well as being one who didn’t allow his daughter to associate with the lower-ranked wolves.

I had my doubts about his involvement with his daughter’s omega mate as well. He seemed like a man who would have done anything to see his daughter mated well, and a power-driven prick to boot.

Hence, his need to divide and conquer. He may have thought he was getting one over on all of us by hinting at hunters in the area—none of which were ever found—and then suggesting a pact between the neighboring packs, but he was going to be very, very surprised when we were ready and waiting for him and his pack.

Preparation was everything.

“Remember Faith was used to Alpha Seneca, and her father and brother blamed her mother’s death on her when she was only a child. I have a feeling Seneca didn’t refute the claim, nor did he do his due diligence by speaking with Mr. Richards about the upbringing of his child.”

Despite what a pack community wanted to think, Alphas were not all-knowing and all-powerful, but I have a feeling Seneca would have looked the other way when it came to how an omega brought up his daughter. Any neglect wouldn’t have even been on blip on his radar.

He was stupid really, as most of the pack would be made up of omegas and the like. There may have been only one Alpha, one Beta, and a handful of other ranks above the omegas, but it was among the lower-ranks where you had to be the most careful. They may have been lower crust, but if you got enough of them against you, revolt was a possibility.

“You think that maybe Seneca had something to do with his daughter’s first mate dying?” I asked, started to drive my truck down the hill to the Missioner’s Road. It was the only way back onto the highway from Arrowhead property—the only way back to home and Lucy.

“To start a war?” Paul asked, sounding thoughtful. “Wouldn’t surprise me, to be honest. Have his wife murdered or have someone else do it, blame it on a neighboring alpha who is to come of age in a few years. Have his daughter’s mate found guilty of a crime the girl is convinced he didn’t commit, and then tell the neighboring alpha that to say in their good graces, they should mate their children? It could be just to put Artemis off the trail, but I would think it was more like a—damn, what do you call it? Like a reverse psychology thing, where you tell the person one thing only to make them think the opposite?”

I nodded, my jaw twitching with irritation at the idiocy of the whole thing. The man was a lunatic to think he could get away with the liquidation of all the packs he had allied with his. People wouldn’t stand for it. Even he succeeded—which he wouldn’t—the people would rebel.

“But he doesn’t see us coming, or at least he doesn’t know we already know about his plans,” I reminded him. “We have one up on him for that at the very least.”

We were quiet until we got onto Missioner’s where I took a left due north, the CD player just background noise as I reached out to Lucy. Her wall was up in her mind, but that wasn’t at all unusual while she was doing her weird “nesting” thing around the house. We still hadn’t gotten a whiff of Carla, but we knew she was moving between the packs at times, and she was as oily as she was promiscuous, We couldn’t seem to find out where she was coming through the boundaries. Her scent—when there was one—was faint enough to be almost nonexistent.

As we chugged along the state route north, I thought of all the things I would need to do once Seneca’s little war was snuffed out prematurely. Putting together a crib and the changing table were top of the list, but then I would need to babyproof places where little fingers could open and get into nasty shit that could hurt them.

I had to admit, even that tedious task had me smiling real big to myself.

Within twenty minutes, we were driving up the road to Destiny. It looked more like a wide trail than an actual road, which was my many of the pack owned off-road vehicles and trucks with flatbeds that had the almighty power of a V8 engine.

I dropped Paul at the packhouse and drove the short distance to my house, the lights on in the front two rooms—living and dining. When I walked in, though, the house was silent, and I wondered if Luce had forgotten to turn off the dining room lights and had gone over to Faith’s. I checked all over the house, but she was nowhere to be found.

Moving back into the living room, I tried to scent the last time Lucy would have been here. It seemed to be quite recent, but that was almost masked by a slightly metallic odor that got stronger the closer I got to the back door in the kitchen.

A drop.

Two drops.

I leaned down and dipped my finger onto the liquid on the floor, bringing it up to my nose.

My heart somersaulted in my chest before freezing.

Blood. Just a drop of two, but it could only be one person’s.

Lucy’s.

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