Lead the Way, Percy
How dare he disobey my orders! How dare he go behind my back and retrieve the witch after I told him not to! We cannot trust a witch—especially in a time of war!
I’m going to have to put him in his place. He’s no longer strong enough to run this pack. He stepped aside, no one forced him to. Now it’s time for him to actually step aside.
“Outside. Now!” I growl at him.
I storm out. I don’t t get a good look at the witch, but from the racing of her heart I know that I’ve frightened her. Good. She doesn’t belong here.
“What is wrong with you?” My brother demands angrily.
“I gave you a direct order,” I hiss.
“It was a stupid order! Eloise is hurt and your pride is going to get her and our niece killed!”
I growl, my claws digging into my palms in fury. “And your negligence is going to get us all killed! What makes you think you can trust this witch?!”
“She saved Waylon’s life. Or did you forget that?”
I laugh without humor. “We have enemies everywhere. This could be a trap.”
“It’s not,” he deadpans. “She stays.”
I raise a skeptical eyebrow. “I don’t trust her. She leaves.”
“I don’t give a shit how you feel about her,” he growls. “She stays.”
“Are you challenging me?” I shout, shaking with anger. I stare him down. My older brother may be bulkier than I am, but I tower over him at 6’5”. He stares me in the eye in defiance. I don’t like fighting my brother, but I will if I have to.
“I think she’s my mate,” he finally says quietly.
“What?” I blanch, not expecting that. His mate, my sister-in-law, was taken and killed by the very rogues we’re at war with now. What would make him think that he had another mate?
And then it dawns on me.
“She’s doing something to you! Some witchy trick. You know that Sara was your mate. How could you even question that?” I demand. “The witch is evil.”
His face turns bright red and he’s immediately shaking with anger. Trying not to shift, he turns and barges back into the room. The witch and Ellie both glance up in surprise. I pause.
The witch is beautiful. She has a thin, pale face with full lips and these hazel eyes so deep that I could get lost in them. Her hair is a color I can’t quite describe. It’s brown but it has a subtle copper tint, falling in waves past her shoulders. Her eyebrows are thick and dark, her long eyelashes brushing against them when she blinks. Color rushes to her cheeks in a delectable blush.
“What did you do to me, witch?!” Talon yells at her.
I have the urge to step between her small, petite frame and his growing anger. His hands are shaking, wanting to put her in her place, and I am surprisingly no longer angry.
“What do you mean?” She asks defensively. “I didn’t do anything.”
“Like hell you didn’t!” He thunders and she shrinks away from him.
Ellie growls, her ears flat against her head. What is your problem? She wants to know of Talon.
“You made me think that you were my mate, you lying little—”
She cuts him off, face pale and eyes wide. “Mate?” She gasps. “What are you even talking about?! You asked me to come here! You showed up, out of the blue, and requested that I come take a look at your sister! I even told you to find someone else!”
He stares at her with hard eyes. Something in me shifts and there’s a knock at the door.
“If you would, Dr…” I wait for her to inform me of her name.
“Just call me Aria,” she says, still angry, not meeting my eyes. She seems to know a little about werewolf etiquette.
“Aria. If you wouldn’t mind taking my sister for her ultrasound. I think we’ve jumped to a conclusion. Our sincerest apologies.”
She nods, leading Ellie out the door, still glaring at Talon as she goes. There’s just something about her.
“Still think she’s your mate?” I ask him once they’re out the door.
He sighs and runs a hand through his beard. “I don’t know, man. Having a second mate is unheard of, and with Sara I knew the moment I laid eyes on her. This feels different… but there’s something pulling me to her. She’s here for a reason.”
I nod, not thinking about what I say next. “Okay. Come up with an excuse to keep her here until we find out what the reason is.”
“Why the sudden change of heart?” He asks me suspiciously.
“I think you may be right,” I admit. “I don’t know what she could possibly be of use for, but there’s definitely a purpose to her coming into your life.”
“Wow. Never thought the day would come that Percy Channing would admit I was right.”
We both laugh. We’re cut from the same cloth, Talon and I. We’re both stubborn and pigheaded, both natural-born leaders. The difference is Talon never wanted to be Alpha. He felt obligated, because birthright declared him the Alpha-in-waiting, but I was born with the desire to be Alpha. We both have an intense need to protect our pack and our people—just in different ways. Talon serves well as Beta. I thrive as Alpha. However, I know Talon still struggles with the guilt of having to give up his position.
Losing a mate is a nightmare no werewolf wants to think about. It’s a kiss of death… but somehow, Talon is still here… whether that be because of my nephew or because the moon goddess has blessed him with an attractive and smart second mate.
I stifle a snarl, not sure where it’s coming from.
“I’ll ask her to stay and take care of Eloise for the remainder of her pregnancy,” Talon says suddenly. “It’s perfect. We have someone to care for her, and we can figure out what the moon goddess has planned for her.”
“Good idea,” I say. “Good luck convincing her to stay. She seems strong-willed to me.”
He laughs and claps me on the shoulder on his way out of the room.
“I always liked them feisty.”
“Everything looks perfect,” I say as Talon and his brother, the big bad Alpha join us. I gently press on some muscles in the wolfs abdomen and she howls in pain.
“What’s wrong with her? What are you doing?” Talon demands, alarmed.
“It’s round ligament pain. Common in pregnancy, but when she shifted I think it strained those muscles. The baby is perfect, but unfortunately for mama, she’s going to be in pain for a while until the soreness wears off. During a werewolf’s pregnancy, most healing properties serve the baby, and you tend to heal at a slower pace, so I’d recommend rest. Lots of it.”
“What about shifting? Why can’t she shift back?” The Alpha asks.
I look up into his bright green eyes, a shock from the caramel colored eyes of his brother and sister, and his nephew. Remembering that I’m not supposed to look him in the eye, I quickly look down. I don’t necessarily have to follow their rules, but I don’t want to start any arguments, I just want to tell them what’s going on with their sister and get out of here.
“I think it’s just painful. Her body’s natural way of defending itself is to not shift back. She’ll probably heal, shift, and then be in pain again for a while, but it’s nothing to worry about.”
He’s about to say something when someone new rushes in.
“What’d I miss?” A tall, skinny guy with black wide-rimmed glasses asks, shrugging out of his coat and moving to sit next to the wolf on the examination table. She snuggles closer to him.
“The doc just said that Eloise is fine. Pulled some muscles and needs to rest and heal before she can shift back. The baby is fine,” the Alpha tells him, getting him up to speed.
“Oh, thank goddess,” he sighs in relief and then seems to notice me for the first time. “Oh. Hey.” He clears his throat. “Sorry… I wasn’t expecting you to be a witch. I’m Davis, Ellie’s mate.”
I nod. “I’m Aria. I’m glad that I could help you out. Make sure Ellie rests,” I tell him, glad to finally have a name for reference instead of calling her the wolf. “I think it’s time for me to head out, though.”
I try and excuse myself, ready to make a run for it, when Talon stops me. “I actually have something I’d like to talk to you about,” he says. I gulp nervously. “We’d love it if you would consider staying here until the baby is born. Like I said, we don’t have a pack doctor at the moment, and we could really use your help.”
This is not what I was expecting.
“Oh.” I mumble. “I don’t think I can. I have a job, and a home, and friends…” I explain. “I can’t just drop everything.”
“Obviously, we would make it worth the while.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” I insist. “Just moments ago you accused me of tricking you into thinking that I’m your… that I… it’s just not a good idea,” I stumble. “I need to go home.”
He stares at me for a long second before nodding. “I will lead you out,” he tells me.
“Waylon is waiting on you,” the Alpha reminds him.
“Right,” he whispers regretfully.
“I will lead you out,” the Alpha tells me suddenly.
“That’s really not necessary,” I assure him.
He chuckles. “You’ll be lost for days if you don’t let me help you,” he says.
His voice is rough and hard. It holds authority—a voice that could captivate an entire room with a single word. He’s menacing without even trying. And arrogant.
“I’ll manage,” I say, brushing past him and heading out the door. I exit the office, feeling agitated and… oddly turned on. I slam my door, letting out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. I throw my bag into the passenger seat and illicit a grunt. I jump. “What the hell are you doing in here?!” I scream.
He laughs. “Just accept the help, stubborn witch.”
“What makes you think I need it, arrogant Alpha?” I spit back.
“You can call me Percy,” he says with a wicked grin.
“If you ride with me how will you get back?”
He raises an eyebrow at me. “Run?”
I roll my eyes. Duh. He doesn’t need a car to get home, he has other modes of transportation.
“Lead the way, Percy.”