The woman was maybe in her late-thirties and had one of the kindest eyes Rey had ever seen. And yet here she was, admitting to murder. Rey had a hard time believing her confession, and so did Talon: “What are you talking about?”
Her body was shaking so badly, Rey feared there was gonna be another medical emergency soon, but the woman’s voice was strangely calm as she said: “I killed him.”
“No, you didn’t.” Where the woman’s words were calm, Talons held an unshakable certainty and Rey didn’t understand where it came from.
Sure, the woman would not be one of her first suspects if this was a mystery she was about to solve. But she learned a long time ago, that people could lie with their bodies very well. Some of the most wicked ones hid under a pretty face and a warm smile. So, where did Talon’s confidence come from?
“I could and I did,” the woman confessed once more.
Murmurs came from the crowd as Talon’s pack shared the same opinion as their alpha and then came yet another stupid accusation from Rey’s favourite man: “What is this supposed to be about? You would never hurt a fly, let alone him. Are you being threatened into this?”
He addressed his words to the mystery woman, but his eyes weren’t leaving Rey and Brynn. Rey swore he would squeeze holy water in his hands right about now if he had some.
“You have got to be kidding me.” Rey sighed. “Are you seriously implying, we have something to do with his too?”
“You don’t even know who she is. Do you?” The man asked her, a scornful grimace plastered on his face.
Hearing his question, the wires in Rey’s brain failed to connect properly. Should she know the woman? She turned her attention to Brynn, hoping to get help from her, but Brynn didn’t even look at her. Okay, then, she was going to put the wires back together on her own.
The woman was a member of Talon’s pack.
Talon was overly confident that she wouldn’t be able to hurt the dead man. Why?
Could be someone close to her heart. Family, maybe? But family bonds were barely ever strong enough to prevent murder.
Wait a second. A bond?
Oh, god. Rey murmured to herself as the light bulb went on inside her brain. “He is her mate, isn’t he?”
“Was her mate,” Rey’s newfound nemesis said. “Which also makes her the woman to whom your companion owes her black eye.”
“Let me guess,” Rey interrupted him. “It also makes us the prime suspects in your crazy head.”
“My head is not crazy ....”
“Enough!” Talon ordered once again. “I could care less about your pissing contest right now. But tell you what, we will all go our separate ways, and you will come with me somewhere where there is peace and quiet and tell me more. Okay?”
He spoke with so much authority behind his words, not one member had enough courage to go against him. Except for the woman: “No! We don’t have enough time!”
Enough time for what? Exorcism?
Rey didn’t plan to share her thoughts out loud, but she was really getting tired of all these accusations. They literally had a woman who confessed to killing her mate on their hands, but did they care? No.
At least Talon was the semi sober one: “Enough time for what?”
“I didn’t mean to do it, I didn’t,” his question kickstarted some bad memories inside the woman’s brain because her shaking grew even more and she started babbling very quickly, “but he gave me no choice. I had to. I had to stop him!”
“Stop him from what?” Talon walked closer to her and grabbed the woman by her shoulders. “Talk to me, Alivia. Why did you have to stop him?”
More incoherent mumbling: “I didn’t know. I swear, I didn’t. He kept going there, but he always claimed, he just missed his family. I believed him. It couldn’t be easy to give everything up for me and it is not like, he was doing anything illegal then. How was I supposed to know? How?”
“Going where?” Mac asked.
Another member of Talon’s pack answered him as Alivia suddenly became too short on words: “To the nearby village. She met him there for the first time. Remember? A human mate to her werewolf.”
Okay, hold on. Human mate?
Rey wasn’t keen on judging anyone without proof first, but with everything that was going on, her brain came up with a very scary conclusion.
And she wasn’t the only one. “He was the one selling information to those suckers that keep attacking us, wasn’t he? You knew, and you said nothing?”
“He was my mate!” Alivia defended herself. “How could I ever betray him?”
“Well, you did a lot more than that in the end,” Rey’s arch-nemesis said. It was good to know outsiders weren’t the only ones whom he acted like a dick towards.
“I didn’t mean to, I didn’t. It should have been me. I was ready to die. I was. But then she had to come and save me!” She spat her words in Brynn’s direction with so much venom inside them, even Rey shuddered with discomfort.
At least, the whole incident now made much more sense. The woman’s missing will to stay alive. Brynn’s desperate attempts to save her. Would things turn to worse or better, had she not succeeded? They would never know.
But there was another question waiting to be asked: “Was he the one to hurt you?”
“He said ugly things to me that day. That he never really loved me. That he only stayed with me, so he could see us all die. But he wasn’t telling the truth. I knew he wasn’t because he cried so much when I finally woke up.” It wasn’t exactly the answer Rey was seeking, but it was enough to confirm her suspicion. And yet she still stayed with him.
“What about the second attack then?” Talon wondered. He wasn’t looking at Alivia with resentment, more like with pity.
“He promised me, he had nothing to do with it. That they came without telling him.”
“And you believed him?” Rey’s arch-nemesis again.
Alivia didn’t need to answer. Rey already knew she did. It took a lot for a werewolf to stop believing in his mate, especially when he desperately wanted to.
“What changed then? Why kill him?”
“Because the bitch needed to get sick!”
Sick? Elaine? What did she have to do with this?
Rey half-expected Talon to growl at the woman for using such words while talking about his lover, but he only patiently waited for her to continue.
“We were both so happy and then the news had to come in. He didn’t say anything at first, didn’t even blink, but he slowly grew colder towards me. Then I woke up with a horrible headache this morning and he was nowhere to be found.”
She continued: “I put all the remaining trust I had in him and clung to the fact, he didn’t betray me again. I was supposed to be on the guard duty, so that’s when I went. But when I neared the border, the other guard told me, he came not too long ago. Said, I wasn’t feeling very well, and he would take over till I arrived.”
“What then? Why didn’t you come to me? You had to know where he went.”
“I was a mess. Torn between what was right in front of me and what I should do about it. So, I nodded towards the guard and went where I was supposed to be. I only wanted a minute to think things through. And then he came back.”
Rey scrunched her forehead. Why would he come back? Had she been the traitor, she would be half-way to another country right about then. He had to know, he wasn’t going to get out of it this time.
“He said he was sorry, but he couldn’t get this opportunity run away. That this was a once in a lifetime chance now that the alpha was still semi-out of it. He said his initial plan was to wait for Elaine to die, but the other girl had to mix into it, and he couldn’t wait anymore.” So Rey played a small role in this too then. She was the reason why Elaine started getting better. “He said he came back for me because no matter what I was, he still loved me. That he made a deal with his friends to spare my life. That nothing had to change between us. But I just ... I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
Rey’s heart hurt for the woman. Killing someone was a hard thing to deal with on its own, but having to kill her own mate? No matter how bad of a person it was. Alivia certainly had a painful road in front of her.
But they had a more pressing matter on hand. “What about his so-called friends? Is there gonna be another attack? When?” Talon asked.
Alivia shook her head: “He didn’t say, but soon. Very, very soon.”