Quid was proudly in the lead. He hadn’t felt such pride in years. It revived him, having a purpose, having a position in a pack he cared for. Alpha Kona, within an instant, changed his life. He hadn’t realized how pointless living in Lorcan’s clan had been and now, he can’t believe he survived so long feeling unfulfilled.
He worried however about the amount of power they brought with them. Eight was a minimal pack size, not intimidating to very many. They were good for speed but meeting up with a bigger pack was too easy. Packs were from ten to fifteen in these parts of the woods. Cave packs were violent as they were more involved with their wolf side then their human. He hoped Alpha wouldn’t show them compassion.
Quid thought dedicating himself to a woman would mean the end of his manhood. He saw friends become obedient little dogs to their mates. They bowed to the will of their dick, forgetting about pride, about dominance, about self respect. Once, when he was younger and stupid, he had done the same. But it was a lesson and it taught him to keep walls of ice around his heart.
But Kona, she was hotter than fire. Her rage was like lava. Her power was suffocating. Perhaps it was blocking out rational thought. But all he wanted was to smother that fire and see what laid beneath it.
Behind him, Alpha Kona struggled to keep up. She kept spinning around, walking backwards, waiting for her lost Gamma to reappear, and then she’d stumble and face forward. Her pain was a distant nagging in his head.
Alphas were factual Lycans. They dealt in what needed to be done and/or sacrificed for the good of the pack. Losing a Gamma was a common occurrence in War packs. To be so distraught over one was unusual. Unless Tally was the one Alpha secretly claimed. She lied to him about Alec. Maybe she didn’t think anyone knew but Quid had met enough gay men hiding in plain sight that he could spot it in seconds. Alec wasn’t as flawless as he thought and Mason didn’t hide it nearly enough.
It didn’t matter to Quid what team Alec swung for but what made it important was the danger he was putting Alpha in. Alec was a Beta. His dominance and position were part of Alpha’s foundation. If the pack found out about it, Alpha’s control could slip.
Alpha spun around again. He no longer stopped and waited for her. If they ceased their run every time she did, the hours would stretch and get them no closer to their goal.
‘Quid,’ Maves panted beside him, running. ‘Do you think you can talk to Alpha?’
‘I don’t think we should have left our mates behind. They are too exposed in the woods.’
‘I have no problem leaving my sister. She is well protected in the pack.’
‘There are too many cave packs. Even now they watch us.’
Quid knew it was true. He could feel their eyes, smell their stench. But they wouldn’t attack. As long as their lands weren’t being threatened or their food supply, they allowed them to run through territories. Cave packs don’t pick fights unless it’s for food, land, or women.
‘Alpha wouldn’t have left them if she didn’t trust the men she left behind.’
‘I’m not as sure as you. She doesn’t seem to know a lot about our culture.’
He found himself agreeing with Maves. Alpha said and did plenty of things that had him question her upbringing.
Quid didn’t like Maves for making him question his Alpha. ‘Enough. Do not doubt her again.’
Quid stopped short. The pack nearly tripped on their own feet, diving over each other. Alpha cantered up to him, sniffing the air, searching for what he sensed.
Alpha took a step forward but Alec was quick to get in front of her.
‘We don’t have time.’
But Kona wasn’t persuaded. Someone was dead and she needed to make sure it had nothing to do with her mother. The chances were slim, she knew that, but to ease her conscience, Kona gently laid a paw through the brush, tip-toeing as any wolf could closer to the prey that laid just beyond the trees. She could hear the crackling of a fire, smell the burning smoke. She could hear men talking. She listened for a moment, just beyond their detection, watching as they sat on the floor in front of the flames.
“When I find that fucker, I’m gonna rip him a new head.”
“You’ll have to beat me to it.”
“He won’t make it till morning. Someone is gonna find that dipshit.”
A groan from the side sparked Kona’s attention. Beside them, tied to a tree was a surprisingly familiar face.
Tally’s mentor, her father’s Head Gamma, a family member, a trusted friend, his white hair was a beacon that shouted to Kona. He was family, he was Lykanos and the first instinct that woke in her was to protect and save him. But she had to remind herself, he had betrayed them. He had given Daxon everything he needed in order to destroy their family.
“Quiet, old man, or we’ll break your other leg. Unless you want to tell us where Daxon went.”
‘Kona, don’t.’ Alec begged but it was too late.
Kona stepped foot into the camp. One pawprint in front of the next. Her blue eyes were on them as they stood. Open mouthed and wide-eyed, they gawked up at her, towering above them by a few feet. She circled slowly, meeting Hamiliton’s surprised face before she bypassed him.
“Holy shit. You’re real.”
Kona transformed, her body shrinking to the measly five feet. The white wolf hair covered her privates and traveled down her legs. The fear in their face faded.
“It’s just a girl.” One whispered.
“This is what we’re looking for?”
“Where’s my mother?” Kona interrupted.
“She will be as soon as we find her.”
“Stupid bitch. Think you can take us?”
Kona didn’t have to look behind her. Her wolves spread out along the treeline and slowly, they revealed themselves, growling, exposing their teeth.
“Where’s my mother?”
They were more compliant this time. “Daxon took her.”
“Think we’d be here if we knew?”
“Daxon betrayed us. Some say he took a car west. Others say he was running back south.”
The same information she already had. They knew nothing. Kona looked toward Hamilton. He gawked, bleeding and bruised.
“Where are the rest of you?”
Two of them looked away, refusing to give such an answer but another stepped forward, “Granum. If they stuck around.” He raised his hands as he neared. “This is the asshole that betrayed you. A gift for you.”
It was clear no one else thought Hamiliton was a gift. But this man was trying to save himself. He even bowed his head, “Alpha.”
Kona latched onto his neck.
His hands gripped her arms, his nails clawing at her skin. But they were human nails, dull and couldn’t even break the skin. His eyes were wide staring at her. It was the same look of fear, the same look of surprise as Lorcan had. How could a woman inflict damage? How could a woman hurt them? Their ego was what killed them, not Kona.
Was that all the effort he could give in trying to save his puny life? No tricks up his sleeves? No quick wit? That was the problem with their strength. They relied so much on it that when it failed them, they had nothing left. If a woman was trapped as he was, she imagined they would put up a better fight.
Kona squeezed. It was taking much too long to choke the air out of him. She felt the bones in his neck crack. Like Lorcan’s ribs had cracked. So similar to a frozen lake under stress. The sound was loud and alarming but it only made her tighten her hold. Blood leaked from his mouth, his nose, his eyes. It dripped on her arm. She released the body and it crumbled to the floor.
Kona looked up at the two surviving men.
They quivered where they stood, “We never liked Daxon. He betrayed us too!”
Kona took a step forward. They turned to run, transforming into their wolf. But behind them more of her pack were waiting. They leaned into each other, like pups being chastised, searching for an escape and finding none.
With no way out, they foolishly attacked, one from each side. She kicked at the left, his body thrown to a tree. She punched at the other, the squeal of his pain made her giggle. He sounded like a girl. Kona kicked him in the stomach and sent him flying back, rolling on the ground.
Alec stepped into the small camp in his human form, “Kona, that’s enough.”
Kona curiously looked at him. “Are you seriously showing mercy to the men that destroyed our home?”
“Alec.” Hamilton whimpered.
“You need to learn to control yourself.”
Her brows knit in outrage, “Control myself? I am perfectly in control. These men killed my family. Our family, Alec.”
Hamiliton coughed, blood spitting from his lips. “To protect you.” He whimpered. “To free you.”
Kona sneered. It was like a go-to for the deranged. Blame her for their actions. “Kill him.”
“Kill him?” Alec shook his head, “He’s family--”
“He killed my father!”
Mason came in next, “Daxon killed dad. Hamilton raised Tally. Why would he raise Tally to be your protector if all he wanted was to kill you?”
Kona clenched her teeth. They were so human it was disgusting. Didn’t they ever feel the desire for blood? Didn’t they hear the pounding in their ears that could only be sated with revenge? Tally would understand. Tally wouldn’t let Hamiliton twist bullshit. Alec and Mason were like kids. They believed anything they were told.
It was time they grew up.
“Mason. Kill him.”
“What? No way.”
Kona was tired of it. Tired of his disobedience. Every step of the way he was making her look weak in front of her pack. They already felt she was unqualified. How could she allow her own brother to disrespect her?
Kona knelled beside the body in front of her. She unhooked his knife from his hip and then stepped toward Mason. “It is time you learn your place, brother.” She held the handle out to him. “Obey me. Or leave.”
The emotions in his face were so obvious it pissed her off. It proved how far from reality he was. How could he think she would allow him to constantly backtalk? They weren’t human. They were Lycan and there were rules to follow.
“This…” Hamilton whispered, smiling, “This is who you are.” He cackled, weakly, “Oh, you’re beautiful. You couldn’t stop it. You can’t stop the gods.” His body began to sink as the strength slipped out of him, “I told you, boy. I told you.” The breath escaped and he slumped against the tree. His eyes remained open, unblinking.
Kona dropped the knife, meeting Mason’s face. “You disobey me again and I’ll leave you, Mason.”
“Stop acting like this.”
“Like what?” Kona yelled back. “I am an Alpha. When will you get that through your head. I’m not your sister. I’m not your friend--”
“You miss Tally! I get it, but you--” Kona gripped his neck, shoving him back into a tree trunk.
Alec was on her shoulder, “He’s your brother, Kona, don’t hurt him.”
Mason grit his teeth, gripping her wrists, more infuriated with her than anything else. She wanted to appear big and bad but he knew her better than she knew herself. She was in pain. And like a typical immature brat, she was lashing out. “You’ll kick me out? Not if I leave. Don’t threaten me, Kona. You need me.”
“I need you? For what?”
“Without Tally, there is no one left to love you.”
Her strength wanned and Mason yanked her hand from him as he stepped away. Alec had a hand on his back whispering words in his ear but Mason turned from him to watch Kona. He knew her. He knew she was losing the bits of her that were innocent and young. She was changing because she was no longer safe. She felt bittered toward their father when he did everything he could to keep her happy and feel loved. Kona may think of their life as being imprisoned but they had lived in a paradise. They had everything they ever needed. The problem that Kona had was that she didn’t know how to survive by being nice and friendly. She thought she had to be violent like Lorcan or Gael because these were the only Alphas she met. But what she didn’t realize that their father had been Alpha and he had given them all the love and care he possessed. She could be that way too.
“Kona.” He murmured. “Please. You don’t have to be this way.”
Kona turned from him, transforming into her wolf and took off.
Alec stopped him from following. He waited as the other wolves took off after her before he whispered, “Maybe you should go back.”
“I want to find my mom.”
“You are being reckless. You think she won’t hurt you.”
“I know my sister.”
“No. I don’t think any of us know her. Why does the prophecy saw she’ll destroy--”
“The prophecy? Don’t talk like you believe that crap.”
“Mason. She’s changing. She’s evolving.”
“She’s throwing a tantrum.”
“She isn’t some little kid! She’s an Alpha. She’s my Alpha.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That if you make me choose between you and her, you aren’t going to like the answer.”
“You think I don’t know the answer?” Mason ran even as Alec tried to reach him.