Chapter 20: Shift in Power
“Mom! Kiara!” I cried while throwing my car door open. My heart hurt as I watched my father tighten his hold on my mother as Alpha Rhymes tightened his hold on Kiara. My throat clenched with emotion as my gaze flitted to the knives held to their throats as they whimpered with fear.
Against my better judgment, I began to run for the two of them but was almost immediately stopped by Knox pulling me back.
“Wait a minute…” Knox whispered to himself. I glanced up and through my watery eyes, I saw his own flashing from their normal blue color to black as his nose lifted up in the air and he sniffed.
“You didn’t fucking say she was already mated! And to a Goddamn Lycan!” Alpha Rhymes screamed while throwing a feral glare towards Corbin.
“You’ve illegally entered out pack lands, Alpha Rhymes! And with hostages to boot! If you don’t let them go and leave we’ll have to enforce the laws of The Council ourselves!” Alpha Aaron growled. I’d never seen him look so serious or so angry in the entire time I’d known him. That’s when I realized what Alpha Rhymes had just said - but, more importantly, who he’d just said it to.
My hand flew up to cover my mouth as I realized Corbin broke the legally binding contract I had with this pack to keep me safe. And even though it wasn’t Alpha Aaron’s doing, he would be the one to take the blame.
I clutched onto Knox tightly as I sobbed, watching my mom and best friend suffer at the hands of power-hungry, disgusting men.
“You said we had fucking permission to be here!” Alpha Williams hissed as he made his appearance. I could see the way his eyes were frantically searching around for a way out - no doubt he wanted to avoid the inevitable consequences of their actions.
“The kid gave me the permission. I have every right to be here!” Rhymes screamed back.
“John,” Knox spoke flatly but with authority, using Alpha Rhymes first name - something that was deeply disrespectful if you weren’t given permission to do so. My eyes widened as everyone grew dead silent. I could see the way Rhymes’ entire body tensed at being directly addressed by Knox.
“Yes?” he asked, trying to save face, though his voice betrayed him by breaking.
“You not only violated a persecution pack transfer, but you also brought my mate’s mother and my own fucking sister here by force,” he sneered. I gasped while looking at him in shock. Wait a minute, that means…
“And you stand before us still threatening them,” Knox barked as he let go of my body and took a few menacing steps forward. I glanced at Kiara and watched as her nose tipped into the air and she breathed in deeply. Realization flooded her face and she began to cry uncontrollably. “So, I’m going to tell you how this is going to go,” Knox stated cockily while everyone else looked upon in confusion, unsure of his plan - I was the only one who knew what was about to happen.
“I’m going to give you a head start. Run as fast as you can, John, but know that I will catch you. And when I do, I will gut you alive for all the wrongdoings you’ve committed. When I’m done, your pack will be mine and your mate will be imprisoned for abiding by you and your disgusting ways,” he growled. A shiver ran up my spine at the taunting tone of Knox’s voice as if he was enjoying torturing Rhymes. The air around us became charged as Rhymes’ grip around Kiara slackened. I blinked and he was gone, the only indication that he’d been there moments before was the rustle of the tree line behind him.
“And you-” Knox hissed, turning his gaze to my father “-don’t think I forgot about you.” In seconds Knox had run forward and disarmed my father, carefully pushing my mother from his grip and towards me. I lunged forward and wrapped my arms around both her and Kiara as the three of us cried silently. I watched as my father tried to put on a brave face, but the tremble of his body and urine running down his leg said otherwise. I gasped and hid my face in my mom’s shoulder as I heard the telltale cracking of bones followed by my father’s anguished screams.
“When we get back to my new pack, you’ll get what’s coming to you too,” he whispered maliciously. My father whimpered before Knox turned his back and began making his way toward the ball we’d formed. Kiara instantly broke away from us and threw herself at Knox. Her sorrowful cries reverberated around the clearing as she clung to Knox’s large form. An intense, heavy feeling weighed down my chest and I instantly knew it was from Knox, not me. He cradled her body before squeezing her in a tight embrace as he kissed the top of her head.
“I have to go deal with some business,” Knox murmured while his gaze flickered back and forth between Kiara and I. We both nodded, knowing exactly what he was speaking of. I was glad I wouldn’t be anywhere near when he ‘gutted’ Alpha Rhymes like he’d promised he would.
“You have committed treason against this pack,” Alpha Aaron abruptly spoke. Everyone’s eyes snapped to him as he openly glared at Corbin. “I have stood by and watched as you let the idea of becoming the future Alpha get to your head. You’ve become someone your mother and I never raised you to be. You may be my son, but I have hundreds of people who look up to me to protect them and look out for their best interest. Letting this incident slide is the farthest thing from this pack’s best interest. You will be thrown in the pack cells until The Council has time to come collect you and do what they will with you,” he finished, a betrayed expression on his face. Corbin’s eyes grew wide as his chest began to heave up and down. He turned to try and run, but two large men grabbed him before injecting something into the side of his neck. Seconds later, he was out like a light.
“Poppy,” Alpha Aaron called to me while avoiding the sight of his unconscious son being dragged away. “I’m so sorry for what’s happened. I had no idea Corbin had done this; I never thought he would even be capable of something like this. Know that you always have a place of safety in this pack as long as I’m Alpha,” he said sincerely. I broke away from my mom’s hold before rushing towards him and hugging him, thankful to have been under the care of someone so selfless.
“Thank you so much, Alpha Aaron,” I whispered. “If there’s anything I can ever do to repay you, just say the word,” I insisted wholeheartedly. A sad smile lifted on his face.
“How about you bring your future children by for a visit someday? Caroline has taken a great liking to you and all she wants these days is to be a grandma,” he stated somberly. I nodded as a feeling of sadness swept over my body.
“Sounds like a deal,” I choked out, holding my pinky out to him. He chuckled sadly before hooking our fingers together. The moment only lasted for a few seconds before his expression turned serious yet again.
“There’s something I need to show you,” he murmured before jerking his head back in a request to follow him. I beckoned Kiara and my mother to come with as we all headed into the pack house, meandering through the halls before finally winding up in his office.
“When Knox came to me, I made him a promise that I would help him find his parents in return for his help in training my warriors. He’s more than held up his end of the bargain, but I’ve been lacking on mine,” he spoke while rifling around in his filing cabinet. “You have to understand that while I never maliciously kept him from finding his parents, I did withhold some useful information.
“Ever since I took this position, I’ve always made it my goal to treat those under me as if they were family and did the best that I could to protect them. Keeping Knox here meant we had all the protection we could ever possibly need. With that being said, it’s time he moved on. Please give him this as my thanks and apologize to him on my behalf for taking so long to finally do this,” he finished. I blinked a few times as I took the massive pile of files from him. My mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water, unsure of what to say. I chose to remain silent and just nod in understanding.
“I...I guess I should go pack my things now,” I rasped out hoarsely after a minute or two, the reality of Knox taking over my home pack finally settling in. It meant I would have to leave Grace and Jason behind; I’d come to love her like a sister - like I loved Kiara - and Jason’s witty humor had grown on me, too.
Holy shit...Kiara is technically my sister now.
Alpha Aaron nodded that he heard me before spinning in his chair so that his back was to us. Sensing his desire to be alone to process all that had happened today, the three of us turned and left. We were silent as we exited the packhouse, the quiet carrying on as we made the journey through the woods and back to Knox and I’s cottage, Grace coming up to our side as we went. I was just trying my best to process all the events that took place in such a short period of time.
What were Alpha Rhymes and my father trying to accomplish on this trip? And where the heck did Alpha Williams go? He would surely cause us issues later, but I knew The Council would help us when and if (wishful thinking) they did.
It wasn’t until I heard quiet sobbing as Kiara and my mom assisted me in packing my things that I finally broke my silence. Grace had just been watching the three of us, tears running down her cheeks. I immediately dropped the pair of pants in my hands and enveloped her in a tight hug.
“I’m so sorry Grace,” I whispered hoarsely as my emotions mounted.
“What’s wrong, Flower?” Knox’s deep voice reverberated through the room as he entered, breaking up our sorrowful embrace.
“We’re having a lady moment because they’re both leaving me,” Grace hiccuped out, referring to Kiara and me.
“They don’t have to. You and Jason are both more than welcome to come with us. Jason is an incredible man - smart and skilled in battle. He would make a great addition, and maybe even a great Beta if he chose to accept the offer. While I don’t know anyone in Poppy and I’s new pack, I have no doubt the two of you would fit right in,” Knox insisted. Grace looked stunned even thinking about the option of switching packs and possibly being a Beta Female.
“Yeah and I’ll kick anyone’s ass who looks at you wrong. After all, they couldn’t do anything about it. I’m the Alpha’s sister,” Kiara bragged while pinching Knox’s side. He growled playfully at her before pulling me into his side. Thinking about my old pack now being partially under my rule next to Knox made me think about Alpha Rhymes body lying dead somewhere in the woods. Knox must’ve sensed my changing mood because he began rubbing soothing circles into my side.
“I’ll have to try and convince Jason. He really likes Alpha Aaron, but he likes me more so we’ll see,” she teased before giving Knox a grateful smile and hugging both Kiara and me.
“So, this is your mate?” My mom asked quietly, finally speaking for the first time since we’d all watched Knox manhandle my father. I smiled big and nodded, reaching my hand out for her own and pulling her closer. She came forward and inspected Knox from head to toe, scrutinizing him.
“Well, he’s a hell of a lot bigger than I ever expected your chosen to be,” she joked before attempting to shake Knox’s hand. He dodged her attempt and instead went in for a hug, catching both my mom and me off guard. My cheeks burned brightly in embarrassment as I processed what she’d said causing both her and Knox to laugh at my expense.
“Yeah, well, he didn’t really give me much of a choice,” I grumbled with a playful glare Knox’s way to which he smirked and winked in reply.
“What do you mean, Poppy?” My mother asked as she and Kiara gave me simultaneous looks of worry.
Wow, way to go Poppy. You said the absolute last thing you should’ve ever said. You’re finally reunited with the people you had to flee from because of a forced mating in the first place, and you go ahead and hint that your current mating happened under similar conditions. No wonder they’re worried.
“It’s not like that at all!” I insisted defensively as my hands shot out in front of me, knowing I needed to calm their nerves. “I first met him when he was in wolf form the day after I arrived - though I didn’t know it was him. I was trying to cut some wood for my fireplace to keep me warm when I heard some noises and started running. I was almost out of the forest when Kiara finally called and distracted me. I ended up falling and hurting my ankle. He carried me on his back to the pack house so I could get some help. I guess I’d never had anyone of the opposite sex take care of me before, so it stuck with me and my wolf. Ever since then, both my wolf and I have enjoyed being around him because we feel safe knowing someone is watching over us.
“That feeling of safety - and Knox’s intense pursuit of me - made things happen incredibly quickly. Not to mention, we’re each other’s match,” I murmured dreamily while glancing up at Knox as an intense surge of love overwhelmed my body and mind.
“Each other’s true match,” Knox added in confidently as he cast his eyes cast downward so he could look into my own. I smiled happily before nuzzling my nose against his chest and taking in his calming scent.
“I’m so happy for you, honey,” my mother wept before pulling Knox and me into a hug. Knox moved his arms so he was enveloping the both of us in a tight squeeze.
“You might as well join, too,” Knox joked while staring at Kiara before she dashed forward and bulldozed into our little group. I giggled as a single tear of joy slipped down my cheek.
“So, when do I get to meet your parents? And I guess yours too, Kiara,” my mom asked happily but with a hint of confusion. While I knew what was going on, neither my mom or Kiara did. This was not going to be a fun conversation. The question instantly caused Knox’s smile to drop as well as Kiara’s.
“It’s a long story, mom. One I think Knox would prefer to tell when we’re all back in the safety of our own pack land,” I butted in, knowing that the number of things already on our To Do list was getting longer by the second and this emotional conversation would just bring everything to a halt. Kiara needed to know, but right at this very moment was not the best time. She nodded in understanding when she saw the solemn look on my face.
“Kiara, can you and Poppy’s mother finish packing Poppy’s things? I need to speak with her for a moment,” Knox said with a serious look on his face. Kiara nodded before Knox lead me out of the room and into the living room where he sat me down on the couch and kneeled between my legs.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, worried.
“I just wanted to forewarn you that things might get ugly when we arrive at your old pack. Now that it’s under my rule, I will have to make sure my authority isn’t going to ever be questioned. That means that I could potentially have to deal with people you’ve known your entire life,” he murmured with an apprehensive look. It was sweet that he was, in a way, getting my permission to “deal with” people I could potentially have a bond with. What he didn’t know was that the only people I cared about in that pack were all here with me - minus Tansy. Oh God, Tansy!
“Tansy!” I gasped, catching Knox off guard.
“She’s fine. I sent her to hide with Grandma and grandpa when I caught wind of what your father’s plans were. I could sense the change in his attitude towards me and knew something big was going to happen,” my mother explained from the other room, only somewhat calming my nerves.
“I feel bad saying this, but I don’t really have a connection to anyone back there. I was never allowed much freedom, so having friends my age was out of the question. As for everyone else, they stood back and didn’t do anything when my father unrightfully whipped me. There’s no love lost there,” I muttered only feeling slightly guilty by the statement.
“Well then, let’s load our things and head out. We’ve got a pack to take over.”