West of Destiny (Book 5 of The Claimed Series)

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Chapter 40

Lucy

A stick of a needle in my skin was what did it. I didn’t even hear the sneaky bitch come into the house from behind me, and I was supposed to have a superior sense of smell.

Why couldn’t I fucking smell the she-bitch? Was she hiding her scent somehow? And how?

Carla was spitting her venomous tirade as she hauled me along after her as we walked. To the south, if my sense of direction was correct, because my eyes certainly couldn’t be trusted behind the blindfold she had secured over my head after tying my hands up.

Every fifty feet or so, Carla would stop walking and spray something in the air along out path. I assumed it was whatever kept her from being scented, but as I couldn’t see what it was, I could only theorize. Once she tugged on my arm, I knew it was time to start walking again.

As she muttered to herself, I knew she was probably mad. I don’t know what tipped her over the edge, but whatever it was had left a hole in the woman’s brain. A gaping one that allowed her to swear and fight with herself under her breath. They were oaths to do harm to those she hated, and I was, unfortunately, the one she spoke most about.

“…steal what was mine first,” she vowed under her breath with fervor. “Mine. All mine, damn you, bitch. I’ll destroy you and that fucking baby along with you. Should be mine anyway. I’ll kill it!”

If my hands had been free, I would’ve clutched at my still flat tummy and run, but I was only able to bring my bound wrists closer to my body and hope someone would find us before she did what she was swearing to do.

She continued to spew her venom as we walked—well, I stumbled—through a rocky area of the territory. The scent of roses bloomed and then faded, and I could hear the sounds of running water. How long we had been walking for was unclear, but she suddenly ripped off the blindfold, taking what felt like a hunk with it, and threw it onto the ground. Then she ordered me to climb atop the rocky outcropping. When I didn’t move at first, she came at me with another syringe, and I started to struggle, hands still bound, up the crumbling schist of the boulder.

For that’s what it was—a large boulder. Embedded in the loose dirt of the riverbank probably ages ago, it looked like it had sunk into the earth over time with the moisture, though the far edge leaned out over the rushing river. I didn’t like it and stood far from the ledge.

Carla climbed up after me, her eyes blazing and wild and so damn scary I feared for the safety of anyone who got in her way, be they Omega or Alpha. She looked downright feral, and I again feared for myself and my baby.

She wore a stained, baggy white t-shirt and shorts that looked like they hadn’t been laundered in weeks. Tears were dripping from her eyes as they locked onto me menacingly.

“I was wrong,” she said, and though her eyes were wild, her voice was suddenly soft. “I shouldn’t have rejected West and agreed to be mistress to Seneca Strasser. I wanted more than a virgin Beta, more than what I thought West could give me. I wanted—no, I needed control. Control I couldn’t have with him.”

She had started again to mutter to herself, like she was all alone and going through her thoughts out loud but in privacy.

“Too late now,” Carla madly told herself as she paced the short distance the width of the rock. “He’s taken everything, everything I’ve wanted. The only way to get back what’s mine is to kill her and her baby. Lucy and that damned baby are in my way.”

Shuddering, the wind blew cold against my barely-covered arms. I shivered, though I don’t think it was only the cold air that did it. The woman was mad—completely out of her mind.

“He made me do it, can’t you see!” Her voice rang out suddenly.

“M-made you d-do what?” I asked, yelling into the howling wind that had swept up the cliffs and along the river. She moved closer, and I cringed.

“Got that rogue to kill Joshua, his daughter’s mate.” She scoffed as if I should have known all along. “Killed his mate too, so she was out of the way. Then I planted evidence that someone from Arrowhead pack killed her on orders from Artemis.” She laughed shrilly, like her own deviousness was amusing. “It would have started a war between the two packs if he didn’t accede to Seneca’s wishes, if he didn’t have the Alpha’s daughter mate with the new Alpha of Arrowhead.” Her face soured as her lips turned down and twisted painfully. “But it backfired, you see. Zach’s mate was you, and he rejected you and West found his second chance mate. My West…” Her voice trailed off with the wind.

I wanted to stumble back with shock. What man would have his own mate killed? “Why? Why did he have her killed? Just…why?” I wanted to ask her why she did it, but it was lunacy to ask for an explanation from one so far off the deep end.

“Power.” Her eyes gleamed at the word. “Ultimate power. He would get an ‘in’ with his daughter mating to Zachary, and I was his ‘in’ at Destiny. He had eyes on both territories, and he wanted to take over. Once he took over, he would train all the omegas to work for him, claim even more territory to the north, west, and south. He’s already laid claim to some territories east of here.”

She grinned, evilly.

“Then, he could become much bigger, something that this country needs. A monarchy.”

So, Seneca had delusions of grandeur. He didn’t want to just take over—he wanted to be King of the wolves.

“Total power,” she raved like the wild, insane creature she was. “And I would be his queen. We would be more powerful than our wildest imaginings, rule the world perhaps someday. But then…”

Her face crumpled, her chin and lips wobbling as another tear snuck down to her chin.

“I was pregnant. Pregnant with Seneca’s child. I told him, and he told me to get rid of it.” She looked over at me, her eyes begging for me to understand this about her. “But I couldn’t do that. It was my baby. I couldn’t kill it.”

Was. Not is.

“What happened?” I barely spoke the words, and they sounded more like a whisper.

“I was attacked from behind one day,” she muttered, sounding deranged. “A claw came down on my belly, nearly ripping the babe from my womb.”

Her eyes closed, and I almost felt sorry for her. She must have lost the child when the man assaulted her.

“I lost the baby. And I lost the ability to have any more children with it.”

And then I closed my eyes in sympathy. This woman may have been evil incarnate, but I knew what she had lost in the long run. Her future—any future she could have had with anyone.

“I killed the man who attacked me after he told me that Seneca ordered him in with his Alpha Command to rip the baby from me. Now he’ll never mark me. What king wants a queen who can’t give him little princes and princesses? No one, I tell you.” She looked up at me. Which is why you have to go!”

She snarled at me, almost half-shifting as her nails started to poke through her skin.

“It’s all your fault I don’t have my mate anymore, you bitch!” she howled at me. I moved back a step, closer to the water I could hear rushing below me. “At least if I had West he would have loved me even if I couldn’t give him children!”

She stepped closer cautiously, as if she was frightened to move too quickly.

“If you loved West you would leave him be!” I shouted back. “You would want him to be happy, and he’s happy with me!” I knew this, had always known from the moment I woke up to find I had a second chance at happiness.

I heard sounds off to the west.

West.

“Back away from her, Carla! Leave my mate alone!”

Her eyes lit up like she’d seen the sun for the first time in years as she shifted her stance toward him, her claws retracting back into the pads of her fingers.

“West? Baby? Is that you?” She turned to me and smiled, relief lighting her up from the inside out. “I knew he would come for me.”

She sounded happy, and I didn’t want to burst her unhinged mind’s insane little bubble. West had come for me. I knew it.

“Baby?” he called over as his face whipped to mine. “Be careful. Don’t get any closer to the water. I’m coming, honey.”

His underlying meaning filtered through to my mind. I’ll always come for you.

Carla started to babble happily, but I tuned her out. Had she not heard what he said? No…she was just demented and sick in the head enough to block out any of the words she didn’t want to hear, I was sure of that.

West was followed quickly by other figures, and I was sure I heard Paul mumble something about Kassidy staying out of the way. She grumbled back something that sounded like, like hell I will before following on his heels.

I could hear rocks crumbling and West grunting as he climbed up the boulder. When he stood tall at the edge, he looked right at me, hustling by Carla as she held her arms out for him. She whimpered as she strode up to me, catching me by the chin and tilting my head up to inspect me for any injuries.

“You okay, sweetness?” he murmured as his lips brushed my forehead and his hands swept back the loose strands of my hair. My hands were still bound, and he looked down and started to undo the intricate knots in it. Behind us I could hear Carla starting to shriek as Paul and Carter held her back, Faith and Kassidy standing off to one side and out of the way.

“I’m fine,” I told him. “Though she injected me with something. I don’t know what.”

“Probably just wolfsbane to cut off our mindlink. We’ll get you checked out at home.”

God, home sounded good right now. I was freezing my ass off.

“West! West!” I could barely understand Carla’s words, and she seemed even more unbalanced as she tried to buck her body away from the two men holding her still. “Baby, It’s me! I’m sorry, baby! So fucking sorry!”

“She was pregnant, West. With Seneca’s baby,” I murmured to him. “She’s lost it. Seneca made one of his pack rip it from her, and now she can’t have children.” I breathed in slowly before clutching at his arms now that my hands were free. “She’s completely crazy because of it.”

He nodded and looked aggrieved before glancing over at her. “A shame. She would have made a horrible mother.”

A bit of laughter bubbled up. I couldn’t blame West. I would have loathed her too if I was him. She rejected him, betrayed the pack and others, and tried to kill me. While she didn’t deserve my sympathy, I was softhearted enough where children were concerned.

“What do we do with her?” I asked him, looking up to catch his eyes again. They were full of relief and sadness, an odd combination to be certain.

“She’ll be put on trial and probably killed or imprisoned for life,” he told me as he stroked my jaw with his thumbs.

“She’s insane—”

“—and dangerous,” he cut in. “Two very good reasons she should be killed straightaway. It’s actually crueler to let her live with her insanity than it would be to release her unto certain death.”

He sounded so certain, but I had my doubts. He must have felt it and he looked from her to me again.

“Would you want to live knowing and seeing the things she’s done and seen? Even if her mind were to get well, it would only be worse. She would live with the horrors of them every day.” He shook his head. “Sometimes death is the most merciful one can be.”

When he put it like that, I found I couldn’t argue with his logic. I’d want to already be dead if I was her.

“He’s going to kill them all, and you’re next,” Carla cackled, again off in her dream world of princes and kings that didn’t exist. “Seneca is already on his way, you know. Zach and Artemis—even his own daughter can’t stand in his way. And then Destiny will be next.”

She made a move and suddenly pulled herself out of Paul’s and Carter’s strong arms. She ran past West and I and flung herself off the side of boulder and into the water with a wail that was cut off when her body smacked into a sharp rock jutting up from the middle of the river.

Kassidy gasped as we all walked over to get a better look.

With her neck broken and hanging at an unnatural angle, that alone would have killed her. But her head was smashed open as well.

“Motherfucker,” Paul bit out and looked over at the rest of us. “We need to get back to the community. If what Carla said is true, we need to warn Arrowhead, let them know Seneca’s coming. Carter, I want you to stay here. That slithery cunt in the river would just about have the nerve to resurrect herself.”

His eyes looked like fire as they flashed from blue to amber and back again.

“I want her body taken back to Destiny. Light a pyre and burn the bitch.”

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