I woke up, and I was alone in my bed. A quick sniff to my fingers and I got the proof that I tried and failed to find the release I desperately needed. But what about that dream, though? It felt so real! Just to be sure, I asked the guards posted at my door, and they reassured me that no one came after Cassie left last night.
Argh! I was frustrated on so many levels. I thought wet dreams were supposed to be good. But I guess my insecurities about my relationship had a role to play there. Anyways, even if I was losing my mind at night, I can’t allow it to get in the way of my work. Especially for this important day.
The morning meeting went on as usual until the antiquarian interrupted brandishing a paper. He had sent a selection of valuable items to the auction house and he had finally received by fax the result of the authentication. I didn’t know people still used faxes nowadays, but his interruption was more than welcome.
The rough value estimate of the pieces will pay a huge chunk of the loan. The rest of the debt could be paid slowly from the revenues of the crown. I felt happy for the first time since my coronation and I was starting to feel anxiety jitters. I knew my project was important, and it was time to put it on the table in front of everyone, instead of being an abstract idea in my mind.
“I want to build a school.” I blurted out and the four men looked at me as if I have grown another head.
This must have come as a surprise because I never gave a hint about it before. I was just waiting for the right moment when the biggest issues were resolved before delving into this project.
“I couldn’t help but notice most of the teens quit school as soon as their wolf manifest. I know from personal experience how difficult it would be to study at a human school. I think it’s our responsibility as the Royal Pack to provide education and counseling for young wolves. ”
“With all due respect, Your Majesty,” Severin started. “It’s not that no one thought about the idea before, but building the structure alone will cost millions of dollars.”
“I’ve already figured that out,” I plastered a shit-eating grin feeling smug about myself after his offending comment. I gestured widely around me, “There is plenty of rooms to use for classes and dormitory.”
Severin adjusted in his seat while he fought to maintain a blank expression. I felt proud of myself after he killed so many of my ideas. He was about to open his mouth when I continued.
“We can hire local carpenters and use the wood from the forest to build the furniture. However, we still need funds for everything we cannot source from the crown’s assets or pack territory.”
“We can restore the taxes.” Severin was referring to ancient times where all packs kneeled for the Alpha King and paid a tax in exchange for his protection. I wasn’t blinded by power to do so, but my counselor was still hung up on old, outdated, and easy solutions. If his experience in managing the pack wasn’t valuable, I would have accepted his resignation that time.
“I made my standing clear abut the taxes. Besides, I don’t think the Alphas would accept it so easily. Certainly not after the King remained absent for decades. The move will antagonize them instead of rallying them for a cause that will benefit all the werewolf community.”
It was silent for long moments after I spoke, and I wondered if I spoke with too much authority to deter them from responding. However, I was keeping my grounds because I believed in my idea and I knew it was worth fighting for.
“How about a fundraiser?” Garett suggested with a small voice. It wasn’t surprising coming from him, since he was the most sensible and good-hearted one of the triplets. He was the peace-keeper between his two brothers and any pack members caught in a feud.
“The Royal Pack isn’t stooping so low to ask for charity!” His father interjected with indignation written all over his face. I started to think that I’m looking at the reason that was halting our progress. He might have kept the ship afloat all these years, but maybe that’s all he was capable of.
“Actually, Garret isn’t far off the mark.” I came to my Beta’s defense. “Most private schools and universities rely on donations as much as tuitions. However, it would be difficult to get them to come if it’s only to ask for their money. We need another motivation, another reason to get them interested.”
“A mating ball!” Garrick and Garrison spoke in unison. The two brothers looked at each other as if they were about to start another fight. They were so much alike more than they wanted to admit. Finding their mates must have been a common interest as well.
I was about to acclaim them when a single thought made my heart clench. “Would my mate come?”
A mix of relief and frustration took over once I got back to the packhouse. I needed something to get me busy instead of sitting around doing nothing. My little escapade to the tribe felt like a vacation compared to how I lead my life before. Before I met her.
Getting back to work and looking after the business I neglected for so long sounded good to me. At least for a little while until I figured out my next move. I was packing a few things in a suitcase when Steven came to my room.
“This is still your home, and this is still your pack. You don’t have to leave, you know?”
I have filled him in briefly about what happened since we last saw each other. He was the Alpha now, even though I didn’t consider him as my Alpha. I wasn’t sure where that left me in regards to my position in the pack. This situation was far from what I planned when I transferred the leadership to him.
“I know.” I gave him a wan smile before I turned to continue with my packing.
“Good. This came in the mail. An invitation to some sort of ball…”
I muted Steven out when I opened my watch drawer and saw a letter. I didn’t waste time opening it as soon as I smelled a faint trace of my mate’s scent.
Goodbyes are the most difficult thing I ever had to do. But I care about you too much to see you get hurt. I hope you forgive me for what I’m about to do once I explain my reasons…”
I shoved Steven on my way out.
“Ouch! Bro! Did you hear what I just said? Where are you going?”
“I need a drink!”
“You know where to find it!” He called behind me.
Nursing a crystal tumbler of the best liquor I stashed in the office, I read the letter again and again. I could gather that Claire wrote it before the battle with Romulus, explaining her intentions to go peacefully with her uncle.
Her purpose was to prevent any bloodshed, and innocent people from losing their lives. Admirable intentions, I mused. She was a good person, putting other people’s needs before her own. A required quality for a responsible and wise Alpha or Luna.
The thought reignited the flame I had for her. Since the moment I knew she was my mate, I knew I wanted her to be my Luna. Now that she was Alpha, why wouldn’t she make me her male Luna? The word sounded strange. I didn’t know if there was a precedent. What puzzled me more is that she said she cared for me instead of the L word.
“Welcome home, son!”
The deep voice made stop my repetitive reading. I lifted my head slowly, dreading how this conversation will evolve. It was easier to keep my anger at bay when I had to talk to him on the phone. As I looked at his face, I knew in advance that staying calm was going to be a lost cause.
I haven’t called him Dad or Daddy since I was a little child. He certainly fathered me, but when my mother died I lost the only loving parent that I had.
“I won’t mince my words. That was very foolish of you to give away your title like that. There wasn’t even a challenge.”
“That didn’t stop you from giving it to me.” I won’t mince my words either, whether he liked it or not.
“At least I kept it in the family. I had to kill my brother for you to give it on a silver platter. And to whom? To the descendent of an Alpha who yielded to us generations ago. They knew their place as Betas, but you had to give them back a title they didn’t deserve. I didn’t raise you to be this weak. You’re a sad excuse of an Alpha…”
“And you of a father.”
I interrupted my father’s rant when I couldn’t take it anymore. My pent-up frustration was bubbling to the surface and my beast was clawing his way out. My control was usually unwavering, except when anger gets the best of me.
“Watch your mouth mutt! I’m your father and alpha. Your mother would be turning in her grave if she saw you!”
That was it. The last thing he could say that would make me lose my mind. My father made my childhood hell, called me responsible for my mother’s death. The memory I dreamt of in the cave, reminded me that my only sin was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wasn’t enough that I was so traumatized to witness my mom’s murder, but he had to blame me and punish me for it day in and day out.
The shift was completed before I could stop it. This time, I didn’t even want to stop it. My head hit the ceiling as my beast reached his full height. I dropped on all four and I was muzzle to nose with the man I used to call dad before I lost my innocence. I bared my teeth at him and let out a low threatening growl.
Call me sadistic, I don’t care, but I was pleased to see the terror on his face as he backed out slowly. My beast grew bigger and fiercer since the last time he saw it. His eyes were wide with fear at the sight of my furry form. It was the same fear he planted in me when I was younger.
“Should I remind you? Who’s the real Alpha here? And why you stepped down?” I spoke through the mind-link before leaning in closer.
“Father?” I said out loud with a gravely guttural voice. The single word made him freeze and I could just snap his neck in one bite if I wanted to.
Suddenly the door opened and I snapped my head toward the noise. Steven stood there gaping like a fish trying to find the right words to say. He knew better than anyone, that when my beast came out, I was far beyond reasoning. He usually valued his life too much to try and talk to me.
“Victor,” He murmured raising his hands defensively. “Calm down, you don’t have to kill him.”
My wolf growled at him, for coming in the way of his prey. My beast was out for blood, but my friend was right. My father was a lot of bad things, but I didn’t need to kill him.
I gathered the last bit of control I had and turned around without sparing him another glance. I broke through the window and into the dark forest. A wild animal should suffice to quench my bloodlust tonight.