Viktoria, the Highcrest pack’s Luna, woke up startled by a burning sensation in her mark, but she ignored it. Running her fingers through her bed, she found a cold pillow. She turned her head and noticed her mate Randal wasn’t next to her. As Alpha, when he patrolled the pack in the nightshift, he wouldn’t return until late morning of the day after.
She gasped when Falcon, one of her pack members, came bursting through the door. “Luna, you have to get up right now and come with me,” He urged.
“Falcon. Hold on a second. Why the rush? It’s 5 in the morning!”
“There was an attack. Luna, you have to see this for yourself.”
“Where is Randal?” But he didn’t reply. At that moment, desperation spread through her.
“Take me. Now.” She said in a strained tone and gestured him to lead the way.
She grabbed her cardigan and clutched the edges, wrapping it around herself loosely so it wouldn’t rip when she shifts. They went down the stairs and darted out of the house.
They headed to the forest and shifted. The stench of blood reached their nostrils, and it got worse the deeper they entered the woods. They slowed down and stopped when they reached the clearing where the awful smell was coming from. She knew something wasn’t right.
Two wolves were lying on the grass with their bodies torn to shreds. It took her a moment to face the horrible scene. Spurts of blood had drenched their fur and seeped onto the ground. She shifted back and covered herself with her cardigan but couldn’t bring herself to peep at the faces of the corpses. The faint smell of her mate lingered in the air. As she got closer, her heart was able to tell right away who one of the bodies belonged to.
She fell to the floor and screamed. “Randal!” “No! No... no... no!!!!”
Her head was pounding with the anguished howls of her wolf whining and screaming her lifeless mate’s name.
As she leaned closer, his emotionless and cold eyes stared into hers. The other wolf lying next to him was their Beta and close friend, Alice.
“Who would do something like this?” She shrieked, tears streaming down her face. Her icy hands stroked Randal’s cheek, soaking in his blood that seeped to her bottoms.
Falcon, one of her hunters, gave her a blanket to cover her up more and leaned across to comfort her. It didn’t take long for the rest of the pack to arrive.
“What happened here?” Echoed a deep voice behind her; it was the pack’s former Alpha, Shilo, Randal’s father. Glaring at the distorted body of his firstborn son, he erupted into a loud yowl. He turned around and pitched a lot of angry questions at the hunters. “Why is my son dead? I should rip all your heads off for making this pack so weak!”
“We don’t know, Sir. We found them about twenty minutes ago. Something must have lured them out here.” Falcon glared at him.
“I want the murderer responsible for my son’s death caught NOW! You all better fucking hurry up and figure it out quickly!”
Falcon lowered his head. “Of course, sir. We will find who did this.”
Shilo shook his head. “My son was way too kind to this ungrateful pack. It’s time I put all of you in your place. You will all answer to me now,” snarled the man.
“But,” The lump on his neck bobbed as he halted. “shouldn’t Luna lead the pack until there is a new Alpha? She is still our Luna.”
Shilo turned around and looked at Viktoria as if it was the first time he noticed her.
He pointed a finger at her. “Her? You would rather take orders from her? She isn’t any better than Randal was and spoiled his authority! She couldn’t even give him a pup after a year of being paired with him. My son was a joke to other Alphas because of her.”
The hunter glowered at Shilo, but Viktoria waved her hand with a sigh to make him stop. “Shilo, back off. Losing Randal is hard for all of us, but I will lead the pack alone. For now.”
“What’s all the commotion?” A slightly scruffy-looking young man walked up to them said before Shilo could protest. It was Tyler, Randal’s younger brother, and the pack’s Delta. Tyler, named as pack Delta, was the lone condition Shilo had put forth in exchange for his approval of making Randal the Alpha. He and Viktoria always found Tyler unfit for any rank of importance in the pack, but they didn’t have a choice and had to make him Delta. “Holy Shit! Dad! Is that-.”
“Your brother... and Alice...”
The young man walked up to the two corpses and inspected his brother’s face to check the damage. “What happened here?”
“Randal mated a weakling,” grumbled Shilo.
“Dad. That’s old news.” Tyler couldn’t hold back a chuckle. Falcon and the remaining hunters growled at them.
Viktoria reverted her focus again to Randal, and her wolf sighed at her, “You can’t let Shilo and Tyler treat you that way. The pack would bite their throats out with your order.”
“You are all dismissed! I want the whole pack searched for outsiders. We need to find out who did this.” Viktoria demanded. “I need some time with my mate... alone.” She breathed, her voice broken as she stared at her mate on the ground.
“Whatever you say, princess,” Tyler said between his teeth. Falcon and the remaining hunters growled at them.
Everyone followed orders and walked off to avoid a confrontation. Viktoria crumbled and let go of her emotions. She let her tears run freely down her cheeks, leaving salty trails on his lifeless face.
“Baby, I’m so sorry I wasn’t here.” A few beats passed in silence before she placed her nose against her mate’s. “You’ve been the kindest mate. You always protected me and stood up to anyone that said something wrong about me. I wish you were still here to protect me. I will never forget you. I’m sorry I failed you and that I couldn’t fulfill your deepest wish to be a father.”
Falcon strolled up to her and rubbed his hand on her back. She turned around, startled. “Falcon, I love him so much. Why did this have to happen to us?” She stuttered between sobs.
“Luna, his deepest wish was to be loved by someone for who he was. To lead with his mate and glorify this pack. You’ve been that person for him and us.” He held her while she cried, helping Viktoria to stand on her feet eventually. “The pack stands behind you. Always.”
She wiped her tears away while battling to regain her composure. “Thank you, Falcon. I’ll try to be strong for the pack. For Randal. Even if it kills me.”
“We won’t let that happen. We are a family. All of us will stand by you always.”
“I know I can count on you and the pack with my life. I don’t know who to trust right now, and I need your help to find who did this. We need to figure out what happened here tonight. Their deaths won’t be in vain.”
* * *
Viktoria was still shaken by what she had seen two weeks ago. Her mate died, and she felt so much guilt for not being there. Falcon had helped reinforce patrol shifts at night, and she had taken these days to mourn and submerged in paperwork Randal left behind.
It was nighttime. She showered, then changed, and went out towards Shilo and Tyler’s home. Bracing herself to deal with the hostile father and son, she tried to avoid all this time. She had been building up the courage and strength she needed to face them.
“Throw them out of the pack!!!” her wolf screamed at her. “Calm down.” She linked back to her wolf.
She drew a long breath and then knocked on Shilo’s door.
Tyler opened the door with a smirk. “Isn’t this a surprise? It’s the princess herself. And all by herself for once.”
She sighed and thought about coming back another day. She just wasn’t in the mood for him. “Hm. Is Shilo home? I think we all need to have a chat.”
He bowed and swept his palm in, gesturing her to come in. After crossing her arms over her chest, she followed him into the living room. Shilo offered her a seat at the table. Shilo held his son’s shoulder.
“I need your help interrogating everyone. We need to find out who did this to Randal.”
“We have more important things to figure out right now before anything else, like the future of the pack and giving it a worthy Alpha.” Shilo retorted.
“You both need to start showing some respect towards me as Luna and now sole Alpha of this pack. I will not tolerate it in front of the pack towards me or any member. I only ask that we try to be as civil as possible with pack matters. You are still part of the pack, and Randal would have always wanted you here.”
Shilo scoffed, drumming his fingers on the table. “Of course, this is our pack. I am willing to consider an agreement, Viktoria. For the pack’s sake.”
“Well. I don’t have all night. What is it?”
“I want you to let Tyler become the new Alpha of this pack by your side, or you would have to agree to step down from your role as Luna.
“What!” The Luna gasped wide-eyed. “Have you lost your mind! I am the Luna, and I won’t bow down to either of you or anyone! I’m not going to mate with him!”
“It only makes sense that Tyler takes Randal’s place and be your mate. He’s Randal’s brother and next in line for the job. It will be his pack now!” Shilo yelled, angered.
“Didn’t you hear what I said? Tyler will be the last wolf I will ever mate with!”
“This is non-negotiable, Viktoria. Differences aside, we can still work together as leaders. Tyler is perfect for the job Randal could not complete. We may still be able to give an heir to this pack. Lead it together. Continue birthing Alphas from our family bloodline.” Shilo leaned closer, towering over her.
Fuck this! Pouncing her arms on the table hard, she stood up. “I came here with good intentions, but I am done with your attitude and lack of respect towards me and the pack.”
Tyler walked towards her and locked his glance with hers. “Father, it’s going to be challenging to find a strong man who’d take this barren whiny bitch as Luna.”
“Well, she has no choice. I already asked her to step down... but surely she isn’t going to do that,” Shilo rolled his eyes.
“Enough of this!” Anger was yoking her back, letting her mind-link with her predatory nature. Her wolf was trying to surface, yearning to rip them both open with her claws. But, she managed to stop herself and turned to Shilo. “He is a coward. They both are.” The words in her head evolved into angry growls from her wolf.
Her heart was racing, tingles in her blood spread into her fair skin like a plague of mites until her hair stood stiff. Every grating second was like whetstone against her senses, sharpening them till the world around her seemed to be moving at half its pace. “We need to make them submit to us, not the other way around.” Viktoria’s inner wolf was still raging. “We will never mate with him!”
“Mark my words, you will never have your way with me, and you will never be Alpha!”
“We’ll see about that, princess.” Tyler licked his lips.
“My mate, your Alpha - your son - just died. I am calling the shots now! You will not force me to do anything.”
Viktoria turned around and stormed out of the house. Once she was outside, she shifted to run into the night.