The day of the challenge had arrived. The four of them were solemn at breakfast, nobody knowing what to say. They would glance up once in a while and give a small smile to whomever they happened to make eye contact with. Layla could feel the tension between Jace and Hunter. The worry that after today everything would be different mixed with the anxiety of having to fight each other.
Layla looked at Ryann and was met with a shrug. Ryann didn’t know what to say either.
“Okay guys, someone needs to say something,” Layla said, finally breaking the silence.
Jace stood from his seat, “Actually I have a few things to do this morning before the challenge.” He walked off toward the pack offices and disappeared.
Hunter stood as well, “Same, I’ll see you later.” Hunter kissed Layla on the cheek before walking in the opposite direction.
Ryann sighed, “It’s going to be a long day.”
Layla nodded in agreement, “At least it’s in a few hours and we don’t have to wait until tonight or something.”
Layla stood from the table to leave when Ryann called her back, “Layla, I hope you know no matter what happens today I won’t hold any hard feelings. Neither will Jace.”
Layla smiled, “Thank you for saying that. The same goes for me and Hunter. No matter how this goes.”
Ryann smiled warmly an Layla walked away, still worried about how things would play out.
After lunch the entire pack made their way into the arena. Luna Tasha, Layla, and Ryann sat in the Alpha’s box in the center. Ryann and Layla shivered with nervousness as they watched their mates prepare for the challenge.
The old Beta stepped into the arena, “Black Ridge Pack! Today we have the opportunity to watch the challenge for Alpha between Alpha Jace and Alpha Hunter. The fight will be to the death or until the other submits.”
He turned to the twins, “Are you ready?”
Jace and Hunter both nodded before taking off their shirts.
“You may fight in human or wolf form.”
The Beta stepped out of the ring and took a seat on the side opposite the elders who were the judges of the match. Layla took a deep breath as she watched the challenge begin.
Hunter and Jace circled each other for a moment before Hunter stepped forward and swung at his brother. Jace ducked to the side and landed a blow to Hunter’s rib cage. He stumbled back, a bit winded, before pressing on and getting in a shot to Jace’s cheek. They continued to fight like that for a while and it was clear they were equally matched. Hunter backed away and Layla could see her mate’s eyes darken, he was going to shift. Jace shifted quickly in response and Layla stared in wonder at the two wolves. They were identical except for a white spot on Jace’s left ear and a white spot on Hunter’s right ear, apparently so the twins could be told apart. They were massive black wolves and the whole arena watched in awe as they lunged to each other.
They may have been equally skilled in human form but it was clear there was a stronger wolf. Hunter jumped on top of Jace attempting to get a good chunk of Jace in his mouth to get him to submit, but Jace flipped him over and after what felt like hours of back and forth Jace overpowered Hunter with a bite to the neck. Hunter yelped and fell to the ground. He stood up on shaky legs, willing himself to press forward. Layla gasped as she realized Hunter was going to get himself killed if he didn’t submit soon. Jace gave a warning growl before standing tall above Hunter. Hunter lowered his head and laid back on the ground in submission. The pack burst into cheers for their new Alpha. Jace and Hunter shifted back and changed into their clothes before stepping back into the arena.
Jace stood tall as the aura of his Alpha radiated through the whole arena and pack, forcing every wolf to lower their head in submission. After a moment Jace spoke, “Black Ridge Pack, thank you for your support, I promise to try and be half the Alpha my father was. I will protect you and I will make our home a safe place.” He turned to Hunter with a smile and placed his arm around his brother’s shoulders, “As first act as Alpha I wish to make Hunter my Beta-Alpha. Do you accept?”
“Yes.” Hunter replied. Layla and Ryann walked down to the center of the arena as the pack once again burst into applause and cheers. The girls each embraced their mates.
“Let’s get you two cleaned up for the party,” Ryann said as they led the boys back to the house.
They went their separate ways, each one entering his own room with their mates in tow.
As Jace entered his room Ryann threw her arms around him, “I’m so glad you’re okay. I was a mess for the whole challenge.”
Jace smiled as he wrapped his arms around his mate, “You had nothing to worry about, Hunter and I would have never actually fought to the death.”
“Good, now go take a shower, you’re disgusting,” Ryann said with a grimace.
“Yes Luna..” he whispered in her ear. It sent a shiver down Ryann’s spine and she kissed him softly, letting out a squeal when he reached down and picked her up, wrapping her legs around his waist. He carried her to the bathroom and began to strip off her clothes.
“I’m not the one who needs a shower!” Ryann laughed as he removed her shirt.
“I need help showering, I’m too weak from the fight,” Jace whined with a smirk. Ryann laughed as he pushed her toward the warm running water, kissing her neck and making her heated.
Hunter winced as he attempted to pull his shirt off. Layla rushed to his side, “Let me help.”
“I’ve got it,” he grumbled.
Layla stood back and watched him struggle to remove his clothes. She looked at his bruised body and let out a sigh, “I’m so glad you’re okay,” she said quietly.
“I’m barely okay...” he mumbled before walking to the bathroom.
Layla followed him and pulled him close to her, “Hunter I know you’re disappointed. I’m sorry.”
Hunter pushed away, “I’m not disappointed, I’m pissed! I’ve done everything I’m supposed to! I behaved myself, I worked hard to learn about the pack dynamics, I shadowed my dad on work days, I fought hard. And what did Jace do?! He slept with every she-wolf in the pack. He didn’t even want to be Alpha!”
Layla shook her head, “Hunter.. I-“
“I need some time, I’ll see you later,” Hunter said dismissively as he closed the bathroom door.
Layla let out a long breath and fought the tears that were threatening to fall. She walked out of the room and sat on the couch in the family room. She thought about Jace and Hunter and how different it was going to be now. Then her mind traveled to how Hunter had reacted, she had never seen him so angry before. A stray tear dared to fall down her cheek and she wiped it away with a sniff.