The Alpha's Vessel [The Alpha's #2]

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Chapter Thirty-Four


“That wasn’t even ten minutes.” Anastasia noted aloud the moment she stepped into the packhouse and joined them all in the living room.

“Well, I’ve got what I wanted.” Thea snorted as she rested her arms on the back of the sofa that her friends were sat on with Malik in between, trying to hide the chocolate bar that he shouldn’t be eating before his dinner.

Unable to hold back the grin that threatened to take over her entire face, she walked around the sofa and lifted her son into her arms before dropping herself down next to Anastasia, feeling so good to have her baby back in her arms.

Feeling the same way, Malik grinned up at her while he nestled himself in her lap, leaning his head back against her chest.

“And what is that?” Malachi asked aloud from where he was sat on the opposite sofa.

“Nothing you need to concern yourself with.” Thea rolled her eyes, not at all appreciative of his tone and accusatory words. Like Anastasia, she shared the sentiment that Malachi was very dislikeable, far too full of himself for being head of the werewolf council.

A few murmurs sounded aloud from the other council members.

“Thea.” Harriet called out to her. “I think it’s important that we hear what you spoke to Alpha Orpheus about just now. It could prove useful in the trial tomorrow.”

“It’s private.” She stated with a simple shrug of her shoulders, not looking to elaborate further on the matter. Just because the council appeared to be on her side now didn’t mean that she trusted them, not after the way that they had dismissed her last time.

Instead, she turned to face her friends.

“Now while this was fun, I need to speak with Marcellus and Anastasia before it’s time for dinner.” Thea stated as she rose to her feet, putting Malik down on the ground but reaching down to grab his hand and giving it a gentle squeeze.

After being away from him for a week and then spending very little time with him since she had been out of the dungeon, Thea craved the comfort of knowing that he was close and safe.

Even though it appeared that Orpheus had treated Malik fairly well during the time that he had kept her locked away in the dungeon that he was currently rotting away in now, she couldn’t bring herself to give a single fuck. If he hadn’t put her in that position in the first place, then he would have never have had to look after him alone.

“Where can we talk?” Marcellus asked, referring to the fact he had no doubt about the fact that the council would try and listen despite Thea denying them.

“I know a place.” She pursed her lips as she turned around to head out of the packhouse with Malik in tow, gesturing for her friends to follow behind.

Even though his house brought up a lot of bad memories and the last time that she had been here, he had raped her for the second time and nearly killed her, she knew she couldn’t keep living in fear for the rest of her life. Behaving that way hadn’t done her any good so she saw no point in repeating pointless actions that didn’t prove fruitless.

With the fact that she now had the upper hand in the situation as well as the power to either make or break the Alpha of the Apo to Chaos pack, Thea felt like a new woman.

“Are you sure you want to be here right now?” Anastasia asked quietly as they began up the steps of the house, Marcellus right behind her.

“It’s the only place that we can talk right now.” Thea explained as she pushed open the door and welcomed them both into the house, directing them to head into the living room.

Much like the dungeon, Orpheus had shamelessly mentioned the fact that his house was sound proofed and while that fact had sent a shiver down her spine when she first found out, it was proving useful now.

“Are you going to tell us what you talked to Orpheus about?” Marcellus asked as he settled himself onto one of the sofas, curling his arm around his mate’s waist as she snuggled into his side, tired after the long day that they were having.

When Malik jumped off the sofa and dropped himself on the sofa to start playing with his train set, making them talk together like the trains did on Thomas the Tank Engine, they all paused to laugh; a nice refresher from the complete and utter seriousness of the fucked-up situation that was now their life.

“That’s the plan but truth be told, I have no idea where to start.” Thea groaned aloud and rolled her head back to stretch out the sore muscles, but immediately regretting it when her sore neck ached in protest.

“Thea?” Anastasia called out to her in worry, a soft, sad expression on her face.

“Yeah, sorry.” She pursed her lips slightly and pressed them together as she waiting for the pain to die down.

As soon as this conversation was over, she planned to head down to the pack hospital and demand as many pain killers that they would give her. Perhaps they would help to numb not only the pain coursing through her body, but the pain that wrapped around her heart and squeezed tightly; threateningly and dangerously.

But for now, she needed to suffer through the pain of this conversation that they were about to have.

“Take your time.” Marcellus assured with a tight smile, trying to lighten the mood around the living room but it wasn’t really working. “I can’t begin to imagine how hard all of this has been for you.”

“Thanks, Mars.” Thea sighed and smiled softly before turning to face Anastasia. “You, too, Anastasia. I owe the both of you so much.”

“You don’t owe us anything.” Anastasia denied as she shook her head, but Thea wasn’t willing to hear any of that.

“No, I’m genuinely so thankful and appreciative of the both of you.” She pressed on further, needing her friends to hear this but more than that, she needed to get this off her chest while she still had the chance. “I haven’t had real friends in a long time, not since before Malik was born and I know that we met under very strange and difficult circumstances, but I’m so glad that the both of you have come into my life. I didn’t realise it then but you came in at the perfect time.” She paused to laugh softly, especially when Anastasia sniffled softly and buried her face in Marcellus’ shoulder, genuinely moved by Thea’s heartfelt words.

“As much as I hate to admit it, it’s clearly my fate to have been mated to Orpheus and for all of this to happen. As difficult as it all is, it’s slightly easier knowing that I have the both of you to rely on and to talk to. I genuinely don’t know what I did right to deserve friends like you and have no idea what I can do to even begin to repay everything that you’ve done for Malik and I.”

“Thea, you’re like family to us and you know it.” Marcellus grinned at her before turning his head to press his lips to his mate’s forward, the both of them chuckling lightly as she wound her arms around him, trying to hide the fact that she was sneakily wiping away her tears, embarrassed with bursting into tears like that. “That means that you also know that family looks after family. No matter what.”

To return the kind words, Anastasia rushed over from one sofa to pull Thea into a hug, no longer crying but beaming wildly and with glee. Having not realised it earlier, but Thea really needed that hug.

“Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, we need to talk about what Orpheus told me.” She sighed and pursed her lips, feeling the begging of a headache begin to come on.

Both Marcellus and Anastasia nodded, patiently waiting for her to spill the beans so they could start brainstorming what their next move would be.

“Orpheus basically told me that he’s the brains behind the whole child trafficking surrogate situation that we somehow managed to become victims of.” Thea sighed as she turned her head to glance at Anastasia as she was more involved in this than they had previously thought.

“Why am I not surprised?” Marcellus scoffed with a clenched jaw, crossing his arms over his chest as he stared back at the two women in front of him. “I’m just surprised that we didn’t figure it out earlier.”

“We need to tell the council about this!” Anastasia rose to her feet with wide, fearful eyes but Thea was quick to circle her fingers around her wrist, tugging gently to indicate that she needed to take a seat.

“Unfortunately, that isn’t where I finish.” Thea sighed before pressing herself to continue with all that she knew.

“The whole reason that Orpheus put me down in the dungeon was because I woke up in the middle of the night once and overheard part of a secret conversation.”

“What kind of secret conversation?” Marcellus asked with a deep frown on his face, glancing between the two females sat in front of him.

“The kind that I wasn’t supposed to hear, apparently.” Thea chuckled though the sound tasteful and very strained. “I have no idea who he was speaking to, but it sounded like they were telling him that they’re planning on starting the whole thing up again, though he didn’t seem so sure. In fact, it sounded more like he was simply part of the whole operation.”

“Orpheus isn’t leading the whole thing?”

“Doesn’t sound like it to me.” Thea shook her head and scowled.

“He could be lying.” Anastasia offered, chewing on her bottom lip while in deep thought. “He could just be pretending that he isn’t the head of the whole operation to get you to go easy on him or something.”

“Perhaps.” She hummed aloud. “But I don’t think so.”

“How can you be sure?” Her friend asked from beside her.

“Because he’s my mate.” She stated the fact with a shrug of her shoulders, the confession sending a chill down her spine.

As much as she didn’t want it to be true, it was and there was no denying it. Thea and Orpheus didn’t see eye to eye on anything – especially not on consent, evidently – and they couldn’t be more different if they tried, but they were mates and she could tell when he was lying, even when he was trying to gaslight her into believing that it was just normal, consensual sex even though she knew for a fact that it wasn’t.

He had looked her in the eye and told her everything he knew about the child trafficking but most of all, that nothing was currently going on with it right now but that probably wouldn’t be the case for long as the others were eager to get everything back on the road.

“What exactly is going to happen to him when they find him guilty at the trial tomorrow?” Thea asked the question she had been wondering since seeing him down in the dungeon; shaking her head lightly to disassociate the reminder that he was her mate from the current situation.

“For a crime this heinous, as well as being mixed up in child trafficking, I would be surprised if they don’t burn him with silver.” Marcellus stated with a thoughtful expression on his face.

“Burned with silver?” Thea murmured aloud, her voice laced with question and confusion.

“It’s the werewolf version of the death penalty.” Anastasia explained. Even though the death penalty and being burnt alive with silver wasn’t exactly the same, but it was the closest and simplest way she could explain things.

“But he’s chained with silver in a silver cell and isn’t dead yet.”

“Yes, but only a small dose of silver is being used to keep him restrained.” Marcellus explained, grimacing at the idea of the horrid way to die, though agreed with the consensus that Orpheus deserved nothing less. “If they do end up condemning him to that level, the dosage is going to be increased a shitload, enough that will essentially burn him alive. While it isn’t exactly a death penalty, it has the same end result and is the worst punishment that a werewolf can be condemned to.”

Thea frowned as her heart ached at the thought of her mate being burnt alive and having to suffer from such an extreme fate, yet her mind couldn’t agree less. The two conflicting emotions battled each other yet she refused to give in, even going as far as to lock her heart to keep it away and throw away the metaphorical key.

She couldn’t afford to let the musings of her heart cloud her mind. That had caused her enough pain and trouble already,

“If he’s killed, then we’re never going to find out more about the child trafficking.” Thea stated with a thoughtful expression on her face. “If he’s gone, then we’re going to lose all access and information regarding the whole operation.”

Anastasia and Marcellus frowned deeply as they turned to face each other, not really sure of the direction that Thea was heading.

“What are you saying, Thea? What are you suggesting that we do?” The Alpha wolf dared to ask in a low, quiet him, almost as if wary of her train of thought.

“Leave it to me.” She confirmed with a firm nod of her head, still mulling over the possibility in her mind.

What she was thinking was very dangerous, especially since there was no guarantee that any of this would actually pay off. In fact, it could all end up heading in the exact opposite direction and blow up in her face but if they didn’t do anything now, then they may never be able to help all those children.

Weighing her options, Thea sighed and allowed her body to sink into the sofa, her mind at a complete loss of what to do. She was sure that her heart would have a sufficient and well-thought out answer as to what she should do in this situation, yet she didn’t dare to dip into that pool again simply because she didn’t trust it to not have an unbiased opinion.


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Layla Knight


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