“Whose body is it? Do you know?” Brynn spewed questions at Mac as Rey trailed behind them. But as it turned out, she didn’t need him to answer them. One look was all it took for her breath to get stuck inside.
Rey stared at the bloodied corpse on the ground, then back at Brynn and her awe-struck face. It was clear she knew the guy. Did Rey know him too?
Face, although quite a bit handsome when he was still alive, now marred with angry red claw marks. As if the person who did this to him tried to conceal the man’s identity. Or maybe conceal wasn’t the right word. Maybe his attacker felt so guilty about what had been done, he tried to erase the man’s identity from the earth. But wasn’t very precise with his attempts or simply wasn’t able to do it.
“How do you know him?” Rey asked. “Was he one of your patients?”
“No, not him.” Brynn shook her head and added after a while: “But I treated his wife.”
Rey didn’t find anything strange about that. It could very well be one of her own patients, she did treat a handful of them. But something about the way Brynn looked at the body didn’t sit well with her. And she soon understood what it was.
“She is the one who gave me the black eye.”
“Oh,” Rey’s own eyes widened in surprise,” for real?”
“For real.” For a split of a second, Rey mistakenly took Mac to be the one who joined in, but he was still standing next to her on her right side, while Brynn stood on her left and another man stood in front, the corpse between them.
He was a bit familiar to Rey. She recognised his face from the crowd as she caught him starring at her a couple of times. She would not describe his gaze as very friendly, but he still wasn’t anyone too interesting for her to deal with. Until now.
“And that’s why you have to understand, there is a bit of an uncomfortable question we have to ask.”
“What kind of question?” Brynn wondered.
Rey couldn’t shake away the feeling that there was a bigger picture missing. Like Brynn already connected the dots and drawn a conclusion that was still kept in the dark for Rey. And from the way Mac tensed next to her, he was catching on too.
The dots connected, and lights shined in as soon as the man opened his mouth again: “You mentioned it yourself, he was a husband of the woman who gave you the black eye.” He pointed at the corpse of the man and continued: “After the whole pack witnessed your little companion and her threats to kill everyone who touched you, it can’t come up with such a big surprise that there is a certain suspicion being raised.”
Young companion? Lia? They thought Lia did this? They couldn’t seriously be this dumb, could they?
“Silence!” Mac shouted. “I won’t have you spewing nonsense without any proof!”
Someone dragged the corpse into the village, probably to prevent anyone from sabotaging it, but it also meant that as the voices were being raised, more and more villagers came to observe what was happening.
A woman spoke this time, her attention fully on Mac: “What do you think then? That one of our own did this?”
Our own, huh?
Her words were true, Rey didn’t belong to the pack anymore, but they still stung her deep inside her heart.
“I am not thinking about anything, and I will not draw any conclusions before I gather some proof. I suggest you all do the same,” His mouth said suggest, but it was more of a threat than anything.
The man again: “We are not drawing any conclusions, we simply wonder, if it is not too big of a coincidence that he ended up dead. Maybe, the girl deemed it the right time to full-fill her promise.”
Anger flared up inside Rey, who even wanted to be a part of this goddamned pack. “How dare you ...?”
She snarled at him, but Brynn’s hand came on her shoulder and she squeezed it before she said, her voice a lot calmer than Rey’s: “I know, the tension is running high right now. He was a member of your pack and we are very sorry for your loss. But let’s not be ridiculous. Lia would never do something like this.”
“It is your word against the body on the ground.”
Seriously? What was the man’s problem? He had no proof. Nothing. And he was still running his mouth, spewing these ridiculous accusations?
Rey told him as much: “No, it is not. It is your nonsense against any solid proof.”
“Being in your shoes, princess, I would keep your mouth shut.”
Maybe it was the stupid nickname or the tone he used, but not even Brynn’s grasp was enough to calm her down this time: “Yeah? Now I have something to do with his death? Is that what you are suggesting?”
“No, not about his death,” it was the woman’s turn, it seemed. Were they husband and wife? They would certainly fit together. “But after the whole speech about never becoming a homewrecker, you suddenly spent way too much time inside the alpha’s house? And doing what exactly? Bewitching his head again? Who is to say Elaine is not the next one to end up dead? Maybe this is all some kind of your masterplan to get revenge.”
Rey heard her wrong. She had to. There was no way the woman really said what she said. Her words were enough for Brynn’s calm facade to crack as well: “Do you even hear yourself? Why would we come here then? We could just let you rot away.”
“Screw you! Screw all of you!”
“A game, so we would let you in and let you enjoy breaking our pack apart.”
“To hell with this!”
“Are you all crazy?”
The place became a jumbled mess of raised voices and bickering. Some members stood on Rey’s side, some sided with the man and woman. The quarrel would probably last a long time, had a man not roared: “ENOUGH!”
Mac? No, he still stood by Rey’s side, doing his best to calm down the fight, but wasn’t very successful.
The voice belonged to Talon, a very angry Talon, who now stood next to Brynn: “What the hell is going on here?”
It became all too quiet as the pack took in the presence of their alpha. Rey could use it as an opportunity to share everything with him. About the ridiculous accusations. The hurt she felt from them. But would it not make her look like she was trying to get him on her side? That would only give these crazy people more reasons to carry on with this witch hunt.
“Why is everyone so quiet all of a sudden?” Talon wondered. “You had plenty to say just a second ago. Mac?”
Mac didn’t say anything, he only pointed to the body lying on the ground. A simple gesture, but effective enough. Talon’s features grew darker as he took in what once was the member of his pack: “And who the hell did this?”
Brynn somehow convinced Mac to show her the body, instead of going to Talon as he initially planned, so the alpha wasn’t aware of the mess till now.
Rey so expected the paranoid man to point his finger at her and maybe he would have had someone else not spoke right then: “I did.”