Jace woke in the morning with Layla tangled in his arms. He pulled closer to her and pressed his face into her hair, inhaling her scent. He was nervous for this afternoon and what it might mean if Hunter actually won. His thoughts were interrupted when Layla shifted in his arms.
“Good morning love,” he whispered.
Layla snuggled her face into his chest, “Good morning.”
“Layla...” Jace said her name quietly, knowing he needed to get this off his chest before it was too late.
Layla looked up at him with sleepy but curious eyes.
“If today goes wrong...” Jace began but was interupted by Layla placing her fingers on his lips.
“Today won’t go wrong. You are the Alpha. You are stronger and more skilled, plus you’re not insane,” Layla smirked.
Jace smiled, “Layla I need you to listen. If today goes wrong, I want you to know that I fought my hardest and that I love you.”
Layla smiled at his words and leaned close to Jace, placing her lips on his. They held each other slowly, kissing deeply and gently, like it was their last time together. Both were afraid but neither one wanted to admit it.
Everyone was somber around the pack in anticipation for that afternoon’s challenge. When Jace and Layla stepped outside the pack house they looked in awe as they saw the entire pack standing in front of the house to show their support to their Alpha. Jace and Layla gripped each other’s hands tightly as they walked down the steps and through the crowd, the pack members parting as they walked by. The pack followed them down to the arena where they all took their seats. Layla stood in the field beside Jace and held him tightly for a moment until they saw Hunter enter the arena. Jace kissed Layla gently on the cheek with a smile, “I love you Layla,” he whispered.
“I love you too Jace, remember what I told you, fight as though he isn’t your brother. And give him hell,” Layla winked before placing a quick kiss on his lips and making her way to her seat.
Parker stepped into the field, “Black Ridge Pack. We are here.. once again.. for the challenge of Alpha between Alpha Jace Beckett and the challenger, Hunter Beckett. This fight will be to the death, or until one submits.”
Parker stepped back and sat next to the warriors on a bench near the field, prepared to step in if the rules were broken.
Jace and Hunter stepped toward each other, each in an aggressive stance. “Well brother, here we are again. Only this time it will go the way it was meant to,” Hunter said proudly.
Jace shook his head, “Hunter, you still have a chance to make this right and let those warriors detain you.”
Hunter smirked, “You are just afraid I’ll win.”
Jace smiled as his eyes darkened and he shifted into his wolf. He didn’t see the point in wasting time with fighting in their human forms.
Hunter shifted in response and lunged toward Jace. Jace ran forward and jumped over Hunter’s attack. Jace turned around and clamped down on Hunter’s hind leg, making Hunter growl in irritation and pain. He swung around and tried to bite at Jace’s neck, narrowly missing. Hunter managed to get free of Jace’s jaws and ran back at his brother.
Hunter yelled over the mind link, “Brother! This challenge is pointless! Step down and make me Alpha. I promise I will take care of Layla.”
Jace snarled in response. The thought of Hunter even breathing near Layla made him want to rip his head off. He ran toward Hunter and they collided in a fury of fur and teeth, tearing and ripping and clawing at each other.
Layla sat on the edge of her seat in the Alpha’s box, terrified at the scene before here. She could see the injuries on Jace’s body and the blood spattering as they both made bites and cuts on each other.
Suddenly Hunter bit down on Jace’s neck and threw him across the field. He staggered toward Jace again as Jace laid on the ground. Layla stood with a gasp, her mate was going to die.
Hunter stalked toward Jace’s bleeding wolf with his teeth bared. He stood over Jace and a smile spread across his wolf’s face as he looked over his injured brother, his eyes closed and breathing shallow. He bent his face down toward his brother’s neck, ready to make his last move.
“I. Am. Alpha.” Hunter whispered over their mind link.
Jace’s eyes snapped open with a smirk on his face. Jace hopped up and clamped his jaws around Hunter’s neck. With a growl and a twist he broke Hunter’s neck, throwing his body down before standing above it. His wolf let out a howl that was met by howls from the rest of the pack.
Layla stood in tears, thankful Jace was alive. Her heart dropped when suddenly Jace fell to the ground, his massive amount of injuries and the loss of blood forcing him unconscious. “No...” Layla whispered and she rushed down to the field, pushing through the warriors that had already surrounded him.
Parker grabbed her to hold her back, “Luna, let them take him to the pack doctor.”
“I’m going with him,” Layla said firmly. She turned around to look at Hunter’s body, “Take him as well.”
“Yes Luna,” they all said before picking up both Jace and Hunter and carrying them to the pack doctor.
When they arrived at the medical building, the doctor rushed to them, looking between the two brothers to decide who to look at first before Layla spoke, her head nodding toward Hunter, “He is dead, he can be dealt with later. Focus on Jace.”
The doctor nodded before rushing to Jace’s side. Layla was sent out of the room and was met by Parker, Grace, and Tasha.
“How is he?” Tasha asked. Layla could see the immense pain in her eyes. She’d had to watch one son be killed and the other almost die.
Layla hugged her tightly, “I don’t know. They’re working on him now. He was unconscious when we brought him here.”
They sat in the waiting area, all on edge as they came down from the adrenaline of the fight and the chaos afterward.
“Luna?” The doctor said quietly.
Layla looked up at him, not sure if she was ready to hear what he had to say.