In the Dark
Mason bitterly watched Alec through the woods. He was talking to Ciara, using his charismatic charm to make her laugh. He hated how good Alec was at flirting. It reminded him every single time Alec talked him out of leaving him. Alec always said the right thing or the things he knew Mason wanted to hear. It wasn’t fair. How did Mason read through the lies if the lies were covered in sugar?
Mason knew his anger stemmed deeper. There were too many times that he had stood in the shed in the woods, waiting for Alec to arrive. Times when Alec failed to show. The excuses, as usual, were plenty. There were some logical reasons, usually ones that Mason couldn’t fight against. He would learn later, days or weeks later, that it hadn’t been a sudden patrol or a surprise training session that Alec had gotten caught up in, but a woman’s bedsheets.
He put up with it. Mason was in love with Alec. But there was only so much one person could take and for him, it began to crumble when Alec made out with his sister. It was a pivotal point because it exposed how desperate Alec was to keep up this straight-guy persona even out in the wilderness where only the four of them existed.
Alec turned his head toward something in the distance. He sniffed the air and with a quick apology, he took off.
Mason followed. He took a left turn up a hillside, climbing the rocky terrain. Mason almost decided against it but what better place to break up with him then far from the pack where no one could hear them?
Mason climbed, cursing every bit of it. He hated working out. It was the most boring thing in the world to do.
When he finally got to the top of the cliff, he was out of anger. He panted, finding Alec standing at the edge. “What are you doing up here?”
“I smell blood.” Alec kneeled down on the floor, touching it. “It’s fresh.” He brought it to his nose and took a deep breath. “It’s Tally’s.”
“Look.” Mason approached, touching the rock, “Seemed he got a little peeved. He’s not alone.”
The sight of it relieved Alec. For a moment, he thought something bad had happened to the gamma. Alec met Mason’s eye but the annoyance in his blue eyes was enough to make him turn his back. Alec stepped to the edge of the cliff, looking down into the rapids. The party was escalating and Alec wondered if it would be okay to get drunk tonight.
“Done with your conversation so soon?”
“Are you jealous?”
Alec scoffed, “What? No.”
Mason smiled, “I didn’t think I mattered that much. It’s nice to know you care.”
“Mason.” Alec aggravatedly glanced at him, “I don’t know what you expect from me.”
“What I expect? Not to be cheated on. Not to have to contend with my sister. I think what I expect is no different than anyone else.”
“Why are you bringing up your sister?”
“Because you care about her.”
“I am her Beta. Her life is always going to be in my hands. Would you rather I not care?”
“You care more than you should.”
“You’re being ridiculous.”
“Maybe. Maybe all the women you screwed behind my back have made me a little untrustworthy. But that was your fault, not mine.”
“I don’t do it to betray you.”
“But it’s not like you don’t enjoy it.”
Alec didn’t have a response. Mason didn’t understand the conditioning he went through to be what he is. His father forced women on him the moment he hit puberty. He brought him outside the walls only to bring him to paid women waiting in the woods. He either enjoyed it, or he was punished. How could he explain that to innocent Mason, who never struggled for anything, who never suffered a day in his life. He couldn’t possible figure out how a gay man could screw a woman.
“What do you want me to say?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know if you can say anything anymore.”
“Kona is Alpha now.”
“Yeah. It sucks but whatever.”
Alec swallowed, building up courage. “We can...come out.”
He turned to Mason, “If you want.”
“You don’t want to come out.”
“I don’t. But if it’s what you want you. Maybe it’s time.” He reached for Mason’s hand, pulling him into the shadow of the rock. He pushed him up against it, Alec’s hands on both sides of his head, “It was fun, though, sneaking around. You sure you want to tell people?” He leaned in, barely touching, their noses a hair length away.
Mason’s heart was pounding. The sneaking around did bring a new level to the adrenaline. “Maybe this last time.”
Alec smiled open lipped, teasing Mason with feather touches.
Alec snapped away, a hand pushed Mason against the wall, keeping him in the shadow of the rock. Coming up the path, Leylanni stood, “Have you seen Gamma Tally? We need to get everyone to bed.”
“No. I’ll help you.” He waited for her to turn back around and start down again. “Shit, that was close.” Alec huffed, backing away.
Mason moved to go but Alec caught his wrist. He yanked out of it, “Look at you. You’re so afraid. You aren’t going to tell anyone.”
“Mason, I will, I swear to the gods.”
“Then let’s go tell Kona. Right now.” Mason walked a bit and then turned around and looked at him. Alec hadn’t moved. “You’re so full of shit.”
Mason held up a hand, keeping one foot in front of the other. It was surprisingly not hard to do. Meeting Lenny had reminded him that Alec wasn’t the only gay man in town. He didn’t have to put up with the betrayal or the fake ass show Alec loved to put on. He could find someone else that would actually be proud to be with him. He would never have to stay in the dark.
As he got to the bottom, once more the anger drifted. Mason hadn’t put up with Alec because he was his only choice. He had put up with Alec because he was in love with him. But sometimes love isn’t enough.
He joined the party by the fire, unwilling to be caught alone again. Alec always had a way of manipulating, getting Mason to forgive but never to forget. Alec approached him, standing next to him, waiting until no one was listening.
“I’ll tell her.”
“I’m not waiting forever.”
“I’m not asking you to. Just give me till morning.”
“So you can screw one more girl before we’re official?”
“Kona is finally sleeping and I don’t want to wake her. Or am I caring too much about her well being?”
“Tsk.” Mason rolled his eyes, “I’m not saying you don’t have to care. I’m saying I should be important too.”
“You are. I don’t know if you remember but I stayed behind with you when you were too exhausted to run. Did that not accrue any points?”
“If we’re doing a point system, you’re in the negative.”
Alec chuckled, barely glancing to meet Mason’s eye. He was relieved to see humor reflect there. He knew he was on a balance beam, trying to figure out how to keep Mason and still maintain his position as a powerful Beta. Kona wasn’t his only worry. Being gay in a wolf pack made him a target. Would he lose the respect of these newly made members? Who would contend for his position? Quid, Warren? He’d have to win against both of them to keep order.
But what did Mason know about that? He didn’t understand Lycan dynamics, too focused on human ideals.
“Alpha Kona!” The shout infiltrated the fun and echoed, stopping all the laughter and conversation. A scout had returned and he panted coming to the fire. “Where is she?”
They all pointed toward the other campground but followed him, desperate to learn of any news. Mason and Alec ran to keep up.
The women had taken it upon themself to form a circle around Kona, keeping her safe and warm. She barely sat up on her elbows as her name shouted across the distance. The whole pack was clambering through the trees and it brought her to her feet.
“On our way to find Daxon, we came across strays. They were part of Daxon’s pack. He abandoned them yesterday. They were searching for him. A lead said that he was last seen heading west.”
“What about my mother?”
“Daxon had put a bet on her head. The gammas were fighting each other when they both slipped away.”
“Daxon was with her?”
“We believe so.”
“Then we go west.”
Alec stepped up to question, “What’s west of here?”
The answers were randomly shouted out.
“Bunch of National Parks.
“A bunch of small packs too.”
Kona’s head snapped up. “If he’s running, that’s the quickest way to get out of town.”
The scout added, “They believe he got into a car.”
More random input followed.
“There is only one road to it.”
“From here, it would take 12 to 15 hours on foot.”
“Where did they leave from?”
“That’s an eight hour drive.”
“They got about five hours on us.”
“The airport, do they allow Lycan to travel?”
“Yes. But you need papers.”
Would her mother have papers?
“It’s dangerous. There are too many packs between here and there.”
Kona wasn’t afraid. “That’s our direction. Pack up camp, we’re leaving in five minutes.” It’s then she noticed Tally wasn’t in the lineup. She didn’t want to care and she almost didn’t say anything but it nagged at her. He wouldn’t not be here. He was too dedicated to his job. “Where’s Tally?”