The Beta’s Daughter

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Chapter Six

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Bria’s POV.

I wake with a groan.

It’s so bright and my head is pounding.

Where the hell am I?

I roll over and wince at the stabbing pain in my back. Goddess, it feels like I’ve slept on the ground.

I open my eyes and rub them, grimacing when I see the mascara left on my hands.

Did I not take my make-up off last night?

I sit up and take in my surroundings.

I’m in the forest. I slept on the ground. My clothes are mud-stained and I have twigs in my hair.

That must have been a hell of a party. I groan again and clutch my head.

My mouth tastes like acid, I must have thrown up.

I slowly get to my feet and start to walk in a direction that I hope is towards the pack house. I need to shower and clean my teeth, I feel like death.

Twenty or so minutes later, I finally make my way back to the pack house. No one is around, which is strange, but I guess it’s still quite early.

I practically fall into my room. I strip off my clothes and get straight into the shower. My eyes widen as I look down and notice blood on my hands. In a panic, I scrub myself until I’m clean.

I wrap a towel around my body and brush my teeth, twice.

I pull on fresh underwear, leggings and a t-shirt. I then notice that I don’t have my phone. I must have lost it at the party last night.

What the fuck happened at that party?

I lie down on my bed and fall back to sleep.

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I wake only an hour later. My headache has gone, thank Goddess.

I sit up and rub my eyes.

I don’t know how it happens, or what triggers it, but everything comes back to me. I jump to my feet with a gasp.

Lance! The hunter!

I never even got to tell Rhett about us.

I pace the room, trying to think of a plan. I need to go to Alpha Byron and tell him what happened. Lance’s body needs to be collected and that hunter needs to be caught.

I need to tell Rhett about us, the spell fades tomorrow. I can’t keep putting this off.

I take a deep breath and decide to break the spell. I cough to clear my throat and say aloud his full name, breaking the spell.

‘Rhett Tiercel,’ I state loudly, crossing my fingers in the hope that it works.

Right, that will force me to tell him today.

Next job, tell the Alpha.

I rush downstairs, feeling slightly alarmed at how the pack house is still empty.

It’s 9am, where is everyone?

I knock on the Alpha’s office door, but there’s no answer. I hesitantly open it, but the room is empty.

Through the window across the room, movement outside catches my eye. I squint and see everyone gathered in the field.

I jog outside to find the entire pack, gathered together in the field.

What is going on? There must be some announcement that I’ve missed.

I go to the edge of the group and tap someone on the shoulder.

‘Sorry, but what’s going on?’ I ask a woman I do not know.

I told you, this pack is huge.

She frowns at me, as if she’s wondering if I’ve been living under a rock all my life.

‘Rhett Tiercel is being branded for the murder of Lance,’ she says firmly.

The words make me want to throw up all over again.

‘What? But he didn’t kill him!’ I yell, attracting the attention of a few people near by.

The woman frowns.

‘They have a history of fighting. Witnesses report seeing them arguing last night,’ she says bluntly.

Adrenaline takes over. I push the crowd, yelling excuse me’s and let me through’s. People part for me, somewhat willingly, and I weave my way to the front.

I fall into the cleared circle and gasp in horror.

On a stand in the centre of the circle, is Alpha Byron and my mate.

Rhett is on his knees, shirtless, with his hands behind his back and his head bowed.

Alpha Byron is addressing the crowd, whilst the Beta, my father, is heating an iron rod in flames.

‘Rhett Tiercel is charged with the murder of Lance Whitson, a fellow pack member. The punishment is branding and exile,’ Alpha Byron booms.

My father hands him the iron rod, the brand is glowing orange with heat. Alpha Byron takes it and approaches my mate.

I spring into action and run towards the stand.

‘No! Stop!’ I yell and the Alpha freezes.

He frowns down at me and his mouth opens in horror. Rhett’s head snaps up to look at me with wide eyes.

‘Bria, what are you doing?’ My father shouts.

‘Miss Blossom, step back,’ Alpha Byron orders.

‘He didn’t kill Lance!’ I shout and the entire crowd goes deathly quiet. ‘And I can prove it!’

Alpha Byron stares at me with confusion, the branding rod still in his hand.

‘I was there last night when Lance died, he was killed by a hunter,’ I state and gasps erupt in the crowd.

‘Bria, you better be telling the truth,’ my father warns and I glare at him.

‘You would know if I was lying father,’ I snap and turn back towards the Alpha. ‘I found Lance dying and he warned me of a hunter, moments later, that hunter found me. I ran from him, he’s still out there.’

The Alpha and my father look at each other. He nods and hands my father back the branding rod. He turns back towards the pack.

‘It seems that new evidence has come to light. We are going to investigate this further, for now this punishment is suspended. You may return to your daily duties. There is potentially a hunter in the forest, I want you all to be on your guard for any trespassers. Do not go into the trees and stay in the pack centre until we have done a sweep of the forest and deemed it safe.’

I glance at Rhett. He has not noticed my scent yet, I am upwind of him, so my scent is not reaching him.

Everyone disbands, heading back to their homes. Sage cries out suddenly, making us look over at her.

She drops to her knees and clutches her chest.

‘Sage!’ I shout and run over to her.

‘Lorenzo,’ she gasps. ‘Enzo is hurt.’

I glance over at the Alpha.

Byron’s face turns grim.

‘He’s on patrol at the moment, I bet the hunter has attacked him,’ he says quickly.

He turns and shifts mid-air. My father does the same and the two of them run into the trees.

‘Please, I need to go with them,’ Sage says and struggles to her feet.

I take her hand and help her steady herself. I look over at Rhett and see him disappearing into the trees.

Sage and I shift and follow after them.

We’re both panting as we hurry to get to the border. We follow the three males’ scents and find them a few minutes later.

I gasp as we come out at the cliffs. Our territory meets the coastline on one side.

Alpha Byron and my father are fighting the hunter to one side. Rhett is knelt, naked, next to Lorenzo.

My heart sinks as I see him.

He’s lying on his back, his entire chest slashed open and bleeding profusely. There’s nothing I can do.

‘No!’ Sage’s bloodcurdling cry goes straight through me.

Rhett moves out of her way, letting her fall to the side of her mate.

I move closer, hesitant to give them space, but wanting to support my best friend.

‘No, no, no,’ Sage cries as she takes hold of Lorenzo’s hand. ‘You can’t leave me.’

He gives her a weak smile. His face is pale from blood loss.

‘I’ll be waiting for you, love,’ he says faintly. ‘We’ll see each other again.’

‘No! Enzo, please,’ Sage’s broken voice fills the clearing.

Tears stream down my face. I’m watching my best friend lose her soulmate.

She cries out and I realise that’s he’s gone.

We’ve lost him.

I fall to my knees, watching as Sage rocks back and forth next to his body.

At some point, pack members put blankets around us all. The Alpha and Beta get dressed and make an announcement to the pack.

The hunter’s body is burned.

Rhett puts on some clothes and sits a few metres away from Sage and Enzo. He stares at the body, his eyes filled with tears and his face broken.

I slip on a dress that I’m handed and sit down next to Sage. I put my arms around her and she cries into me.

‘This can’t be happening,’ she whispers.

I hold her tighter.

As time passes, the crowd dissipates. Rhett, Sage and I stay with Lorenzo. Annie and Jordan join us.

Annie sits on one side of Sage, whilst I sit on the other. We wrap our arms around her, there’s no way she can leave him yet.

Tears run endlessly down my cheeks. I’m upset by the loss of Lorenzo, but I’m more heartbroken by what this means for my friend.

Most shifters die shortly after they lose their mate.

My friend is here on borrowed time, now.

I’m going to lose her. She won’t survive this.

I barely notice how much time has passed as I hold her. The Sun starts to lower in the sky and the air gets cooler.

I wrap my blanket around her, adding to the one she is already wearing.

‘Sage,’ I say softly. ‘When you’re ready, we should go back to the house.’

She nods numbly.

With shaky hands, she brings Lorenzo’s hand to her lips. She kisses the back of his hand as she weeps.

‘I’ll see you soon,’ she whispers.

I help her to her feet and we slowly walk back to the house. Once we get home, Annie and I put her to bed.

Annie climbs in with her and I go downstairs to see Rhett.

I wipe the tears from my face and try to get a grip on myself.

Instead of Rhett, I find my dad.

Fresh tears leak from my eyes as he opens his arms to me. He mutters comforting things in my ear as he holds me.

When I manage to get a hold of myself, I pull back.

‘I’m so sorry, darling,’ he says.

I hug him again.

I pull back and my dad looks suspiciously at me.

‘Rhett told us that he had gone into the woods last night to meet you at some rock. Apparently you asked him to. Is that true?’

I nod and sigh heavily, it’s time to fess up.

‘He’s my mate, Dad.’

‘No way,’ he growls.

‘Yes, way,’ I reply tiredly.

I look over my shoulder at the stairs. I say bye to my dad, not wanting to hear anything more about his thoughts on Rhett being my mate. I go upstairs to Sage’s room.

My best friend needs me, Rhett can wait until tomorrow.

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