After the party fiasco, Koden woke up feeling hungover, frustrated about what happened. Dalton’s “great surprise” had been an absolute disaster. His head hurt, and his heart ached. He wasn’t sure which pain surpassed the other. His uneased wolf yawned and whined about Bonnie running away and how she was similar to Amethyst physically. For a moment, he had wanted to make her his. Not only had he scared the hell out of that young girl, but the encounter had also made him realize that as time continued to pass, he wanted Viktoria. Irrevocably. The need haunted him.
He slapped the side of his armrest with exasperation.“Damn it! Why her?”
He was acting like a lovesick puppy. To make things worse, Viktoria probably didn’t even feel the same.
After a few miserable minutes of self-loathing, he forced himself to get up from his couch and stretch away from the sluggishness. Shortly, he was at his home gym, doing his daily cardio workout.
After taking a cold shower, he followed the aroma of the delicious breakfast to the kitchen. It had been served by one of the pack cooks. It turned out to be the perfect hangover cure. Two bites in, and he was already feeling a lot better.
“Did you have a nice time at the party, Brodi?” He asked the pack member munching on a piece of bacon to hush the grumbles in his stomach.
The young hunter erupted into a wide grin. “Fuck yeah! I’ve never had so much pus-.” he stopped as Koden gave him a stern stare. “I mean, it was a great party.”
Brodi finished his breakfast, quietly served his Alpha two more eggs, and left the table. “Why so grumpy, Alpha?”
His wolf was partly-angered. “Mind yourself. We are mateless now. We don’t want them to see us as they did before we were mated. We have to make an effort to show we care if we want the pack to see we can lead without a mate.” He agreed with his wolf for once.
“I’m sorry. It’s just.. been a while... You know?” Koden snorted to himself.
Once he’d finished breakfast, he got up to do the dishes. Half-way through, he was interrupted when Nicky opened the door to his apartment and wandered in—dressed in her jogging attire and sneakers. There was something odd about her, seeing how she generally enjoyed her morning jogs.
“Morning, Alpha.” She stood beside him. “Can we go for a run today?”
Koden observed his Beta. Nicky had dressed her face up with a smile, but her tone lacked the warmth to match. Had something happened? A man from the pack troubling her? “Lazybones.” He nudged her with his elbow. “I’ve done my workout already.”
“Alpha,” she paused, refusing to take the bait. “It’s important. We need to go for a run.”
He dropped his palms in the soapy water and glanced at her with concern. Something had happened – she hadn’t even poked him back in retaliation.
“Would you be able to keep up with me, though?”
“Yes, I will. Now, let’s go.”
“Fine,” he washed his hands. “Let me get changed.”
It wasn’t long before both went outside and were jogging towards the border of the pack. Barely half-a-mile and the Delta was already finding it tough to keep up with him.
“I did warn you.” He winked. However, she ignored the taunts and continued to spur him until they reached a deserted clearing in the vicinity.
“You’re acting strange. So something’s definitely up – what’s going on?” He panted, holding his ribs.
Nicky keeled over, her lungs still moving hard and fast while she eyed her surroundings to make sure no one was around.
“I discovered something last night,” She whispered, “I’ll tell you. But, I need you to promise me that you’re going to listen and will remain calm until I finish.”
His jaw twitched warily. “Go on...”
The last remnants of his smile dissolved. “I’ll try.”
Nicky cleared her throat. “I suspect we have a traitor in our pack.”
“What?” The lump on his neck bobbing as he swallowed hard.
“Remember last night that I stopped outside during the party to check on how you all were doing and took you with me?”
“I’m not that hungover. I remember.”
“I overheard some wolves talking while I waited for you, but I couldn’t see who they were. They must have been talking to someone from our pack. I know this is hard to believe, but we’ve been betrayed, Alpha.”
“This is serious, Nicky. Are you sure about this?”
“Alpha, I would not lie about this. My loyalty lies with you and the pack. I gathered proof before I came to you. It’s not far from here...”
Koden said nothing for a few excruciating seconds, the veins on his neck pumping ferociously. “Show me what you found.”
She led him to the spot and dug up the clutter of tools lay in a heap, their blades splattered with speckles of dried blood.
She fished out a note from the box and handed it over to him... “I found this here also.”
“Our opportunity to strike will be soon. Stay put for now.”
“This is not all.”
“Not all?” He threw his arms in the air. “What else? This is bad enough!”
“It’s about the death of Luna Amethyst and the pup...”
All of a sudden, the wind around them seemed to halt to a standstill. Koden’s eyes turned dark. Dangerously dark. “Speak up, Nicky!”
It was not often that the Beta felt intimidated by her Alpha. But this time, she had to weigh her words. “I think they might have had a hand in their deaths too.”
He tried to reason with Nicky that she might be misinterpreting the situation – until she mentioned something that dragged his rebuttals to a pause.
And beside it lay the final blow - a vial that gave off the stale odor of wolfsbane.
He panted. “If they killed my mate with the wolfsbane, whose blood soils those other blades?”
“I suspect it might belong to Alpha Randal.”
“For fuck’s sake!” He clenched his eyelids shut, and when he opened them, Nicky could see they turned a darker shade. “They’re trying to frame us! We need to inform Viktoria about this.”
The flicker in his chest blazed like a flame, broiling his blood and burning through him. With his reddened glare rebelling against the skies, his knees dropped to the ground, his lungs belting out an earth-shattering howl.
“Alpha. We need to be smart about this.” Nicky grabbed his arms that were turning hairy, his eyes changing color, showing anger. She could sense his wolf pushing through.
“How I will be able to hold my wolf from going out there and ripping apart every pack traitor we find in the meantime?”
“Alpha, you promised. Don’t let your temper get to you.” She rubbed the back of his head, just like how he liked it, hoping to soothe the semi-beastly form into returning to its human origins, so the cries would not lure in other wolves.
Having howled till his lungs had no might left in them, Koden then hunched over.
Koden’s fists turned to stone. “Fucking bastards. We will kill them all.”
“We need to do something – but with a plan.”
“We have to tell Viktoria about this.”
“But we must be careful. We need a plan first.” She tried to discourage him, but he interrupted her.
“Yes, but learning these answers will help her. I couldn’t live with myself if her agony of not having answers after our loss is even half as bad as mine.” His chest puffed with authority. “This is an order.”
Nicky nodded. “Yes, but once we know more about who else is involved. If someone has infiltrated our pack, how do we know she doesn’t have someone infiltrating hers?”
“We will wait a few days and find an opportunity when everyone is distracted. We can’t trust anyone else with this information. We’ll go to her pack alone first without being noticed and see what she says.” Even as he ended the sentence, a strange sensation washed over him, like a salve, steadily soothing the fires and the wounds on his person. He instantly knew why - the very possibility of seeing her again brought him peace.
“Alpha. We should go back now. We shouldn’t be seen around here with this in our hands.”
“Lead the way...”
A week later, Koden, Dalton, Nicky, and their hunters were having an early dinner together. He had avoided some pack members he suspected of all this time. It took everything Koden had in him not to rip anyone’s throats out and pretend everything was fine. While everyone had had quite a lot to drink, Koden and Nicky remained cautiously sober.
After a while, Dalton stood up to propose a toast. “I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be having another party soon.”
He darted Koden a sorry look, and Koden scoffed.
“Unfortunately, our dear Alpha has advised a change of age. But I can tell you - these women are on fire and ready to rock.”
The hunters hollered in excitement and lifted their drinks to celebrate.
It was not long before most pack members were giddy from alcohol, incapable of acting like their usual selves. This was their opportunity to go while everyone was distracted. Nicky and Koden exchanged glances, right on cue. One went outside first, followed shortly by the other. Jumping into a car, they raced towards the pack’s border.
Koden exhaled, “Do you think the proof was implanted in our pack to blame me and spread lies to Viktoria?”
“What makes you think that?”
“She hasn’t called or reached out since she visited me. I thought she would, but I suspect she thinks we killed Randal and Alice. What if someone made her believe that? Or what if she thought we were retaliating for Amethyst’s death?”
“Do you think she will believe us then?” asked Koden as Nicky took a turn and the car came to a slow roll in a gate in front of Viktoria’s home.
“We come with the truth on our side. Let’s hope she listens.” Nicky pulled down her car window.
“I hope I’m wrong and that she’ll talk to us.” Koden reflected. “I’ve been so stupid. She must feel so betrayed by me.”
“She’ll have to, Alpha.”
“What are you doing here?” A pack member stepped towards them.
Koden sighed. “I need to talk to Luna Viktoria. It’s important - a matter of life and death. Your pack depends on it. Tell her. Let us through.”
The guard crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m not supposed to let anyone through. We are preparing for the celebrations.”
“Celebrations? What Celebrations?” Koden’s wolf was writhing uncomfortably.
“You can guard us as you like. Put us in chains if necessary, but we have to talk to your Luna. Please,” begged Nicky.
“Drive up the path, and don’t get out of the car until we tell you to.”
Two teenage boys opened the gate, and Nicky steered the car in.