The strength, power and blood lust that ran through my veins was intoxicating. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me, they were silent, they were in awe; they were right where I wanted them. I stared at my mate as I sauntered towards him, blood dripping from my naked body. His eyes were dark as I neared, the air between us electrified.
I heard my father clear his throat, snapping Jayce from the trance I had him in. I smiled to myself, loving that he felt the same way about me as I did about him.
“Let’s get you cleaned up” Jayce said, fingers entwining with my own.
I looked down at my body, my skin drenched in the blood of my enemy. I thought it should bother me more but instead it made Rogue purr with pure satisfaction, she was well and truly sated.
“If we have to”
I strode past Jayce and the others, keeping my head held high as I headed back to the pack house.
I thought Jayce would have joined me at the pack house but instead he had important Alpha things to address after the day’s attack. Moira had come up to see me a few hours ago to check if I was injured in anyway but all my wounds had healed already. She informed me that Brad had succumbed to his injuries from the grenade blast. I felt bad, I didn’t like the guy but it was because of me that Clayton’s men had attacked Fern Creek; I was just glad that no one else perished.
Jayce had organised everyone to meet in the hall tonight for a pack dinner and debrief and for a chance to mourn and remember Brad. I didn’t really want to go but Moira said that Jayce had insisted I be there and that I would offend the pack if I didn’t attend. I guess that meant I really didn’t have a choice.
I looked in the mirror at my reflection, no longer covered in blood but instead a simple white dress that complimented my tan skin nicely. I’d washed and dried my hair, styling it in long simple waves down my back. I almost giggled at the contrast from a few hours ago, I was less animal and more lady now.
“Quinn? Are you ready?” I heard Beth’s voice call from downstairs.
I’d nearly forgotten that Moira had organised someone to walk me to the dinner. Jayce decided that until Clayton was dead that I was not to move around the compound on my own. I found this instruction absurd though, considering I had quite clearly displayed that I was more than capable of looking after myself.
I made my way down the stairs to find Beth standing by the front door. Her eyes lit up when she saw me, a big grin plastered on her face.
“What?” I asked, bemused by her reaction.
“You. You kicked arse today. It’s about time a woman showed the boys how it’s really done”
I laughed out loud.
“Well thanks. I just hope the rest of the pack feel the same way”
Beth smirked and shrugged her shoulders. She was hiding something, I could tell.
“You head in, I’ll be right behind you” Beth trilled as we got to the hall entrance.
I watched as she flounced off, then turned and opened the doors. As I walked inside everyone stopped what they were doing and spun to face me. Silence filled the hall. My stomach flipped, suddenly less confident than I had been in the training grounds. My eyes scanned the room until they finally locked on the one person who eased my nerves immediately, Jayce. He smiled as soon as he saw me and strode over from the other side of the room.
“You look beautiful” he said, brushing a strand of hair behind my ear.
Jayce smiled at me but there was a sadness etched on his face. Today was weighing heavy on him, it was obvious to see.
“I’m so sorry about Brad” I said.
“He died protecting the pack, he wouldn’t have wanted to go any other way. Come with me...”
Jayce took my hand and led me towards the stage. I felt nervous once more, what was going on?
No one had spoken a word since I’d entered the room and all eyes were on Jayce and I as we took centre stage.
“Today was a dark day for The Fern Creek Pack” Jayce started, addressing the room, “we were attacked and we lost one of our own. Everyone knew Brad for his strength and loudness and arrogance but now he will be remembered for his bravery and his selfless sacrifice for the wolves and people of Fern Creek”
Everyone clapped and nodded their heads, raising their glasses as Jayce raised his own; toasting to their fallen fighter. I looked up at Jayce and he smiled down at me.
“Today we lost a fighter but I think everyone in this room can agree that we also gained one”
I felt my nerves prickle up again as I realised that Jayce was referring to me.
“Like it or not...this woman here is your future Luna and I couldn’t be more proud of the way she handled the attack today. Fern Creek is strong and resilient and fierce. Today Quinn proved to you that she is all of those things...and more. If there is anyone in this room that refuses to accept her as their Luna then speak up now. You will have a day to pack your things and you have my blessing to go find a new pack”
I gazed around the room. People looked at one another then back up to the stage. There were few hushed voices but no one spoke out. Jayce squeezed my hand and my nerves began to subside. Then Matt stepped forward.
“You are my Luna, I shall fight for you and protect you with my life” he said loudly, then took a knee in front of the stage.
“Thank you” I managed to get out, taken aback by the gesture.
“You are my Luna” another voice called from the back of the room.
“You are my Luna” more voices echoed.
Jayce squeezed my hand again, tears welling in my eyes as more pack members pledged their loyalty to me and took to their knees. Before I knew it, everyone in the room was kneeling before Jayce and I...except for one familiar face in the back. My father.
I watched as Mason approached the stage, standing still in front of it and looking up at me. He had shaved his beard and had a haircut, he was a handsome man and it was easy to see that we were from the same blood. I smiled warmly at him and he returned the gesture.
“You are my daughter, Quinn. The Eastern Ridge Pack lost you a long time ago, you would have been an asset to us...had things been different. But I couldn’t be more proud to see you fight today. You are a heroine. You may not be my Luna but I will still fight for you and protect you with my life”
My father bowed his head and took to his knee. I couldn’t believe it, finally after twenty years of life I finally knew where I belonged and was accepted for who and what I was.
“To our Alpha and Luna!” Cheered Cameron.
The whole room cheered. I looked up to Jayce, his dark eyes so full of pride and...love.
Our Alpha. Our mate.
The rest of the night went by in a blur, I felt like I spoke to hundreds of people; all so lovely and accepting. Jayce barely left my side, when he did he was never far away and his eyes were always on me.
“Do you mind if we could get five minutes alone, Quinn?”
I turned around to see my father standing by, patiently waiting his turn to speak with me.
“Of course!” I answered, excusing myself from Beth and a couple of the other women.
Mason took me to a more quiet part of the hall and pulled out a chair for me at a small table. I sat down and Mason took a seat opposite me. He looked uncomfortable but I couldn’t really blame him. He had been a wolf for the better part of twenty years, small talk probably didn’t come naturally to him anymore.
“Thank you for answering my mind link today” I started, “if you hadn’t come when you did...”
“You would have handled the situation anyway, I have no doubt”
“Ha! You sound pretty confident about that. I don’t know. It was my fault Jayce was unable to shift, if anything had happened to him or I...it would have been on me”
My father sighed and reached across the table, placing his hand over mine. I felt a flutter in my stomach, he was showing me affection and Rogue was lapping it up. He looked at me the way Marcus had always looked at me, he looked at me like a father looking at his daughter.
“Nothing that happened today is your fault, Quinn. I should have ripped Clayton’s throat out twenty years ago. I take full responsibility for what occurred today, if something had happened to you...”
“It didn’t. I’m fine, because you came for me. You saved me when my mate couldn’t. Thank you”
“Well we will just have to agree to disagree then” Mason half laughed.
I smiled at him and we sat in silence for a few minutes.
“So what are your plans from here?” I asked.
I knew my father probably wouldn’t hang around. Alec had reached out and offered his place back at Eastern Ridge, obviously not as Alpha but an Elder position nonetheless. It was his home and he still had a lot of friends there but I knew he had a lot of painful memories there too.
“My plans? Well until Clayton is dead my plan is to stay here. I vowed to fight for you and protect you, so that is my plan”
“And after he is dead?” I asked.
“I’m not sure. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there”
I nodded at Mason’s very diplomatic answer. At least I knew for the time being that my father would be by my side.
I turned my head at the sound of Jayce’s smooth, deep voice. Even the way he spoke did things to my body that felt highly inappropriate in front of my father.
“Are you ready to head back home?”
“Yes. It’s been a long day” I answered, stifling a yawn.
I took Jayce’s hand as he nodded to my father. My father sat back in his chair and nodded in return. The exchange was a little more reserved than what I would have liked. I knew it would take time for Mason and Jayce to become more comfortable with one another. They were both so special to me and both had the ability of breaking my heart.
Jayce and I walked back to the pack house in silence. I could tell he had a lot on his mind. Today was a hard day for all of Fern Creek but for the Alpha it was extra tolling.
“I’m sorry” I said, breaking the silence as we walked in the front door.
Jayce turned to me, pain in his eyes. He gripped my chin softly, turning my head up to look at him.
“I promised to protect you, Quinn. I promised to protect you and I failed. I am the one who is sorry. If Mason hadn’t been there today...”
“No! You don’t get to do that!” I yelled, moving my face from his grasp.
“Feel sorry for me! It was my fault. If I hadn’t acted like a spoilt brat and given you that sedative then today would have gone so differently. You think I’m not aware that you would have sensed those wolves coming for me? I fucked up, you’re meant to be angry at me!”
“I’m not angry at you” Jayce sighed.
I felt the tears prickling my eyes, threatening to spill down my face.
“You couldn’t even feel Brad’s pack bond breaking because of me, because of my actions. I had no right to do what I did. I’m the one who’s sorry”
Jayce reached for my face again but I stepped out of the way. I knew that if he held me I would give in but I didn’t deserve to feel his gentle, caring touch. I wanted him to yell, I wanted him to punish me.
“I’m sorry Jayce. I’m going to bed. I’ll see you in the morning”
I turned and walked up the stairs, not looking back. If Jayce wasn’t going to be mad at me then I needed space to be mad at myself. I approached my bedroom and noticed that the door had been replaced, I entered the room and smiled. I now knew where Beth had ducked off to. All the damage in my room had been fixed and all the blood cleaned up. There were new clothes in my wardrobe and fresh towels on the end of the bed. I didn’t deserve this.
I threw myself down on to the bed and hugged my pillow, closing my eyes. I was exhausted. Just as I moved my hand I felt my fingers graze something under the pillow.
I gripped what felt like a piece of paper and pulled it out. It was a photograph. The image depicted a woman strapped to a chair, her face was bruised and bloody; both eyes swollen and closed over. Even though her face was battered there was something about her that felt familiar. Her hair was red, it was hard to tell for sure with all the blood. Then my eyes were drawn to a chain and a pendant around her neck.
My stomach turned and I felt the bile rise in my throat, I would recognise that necklace anywhere. I dropped the photo and ran to the bathroom, kneeling down at the toilet just in time to throw up everything in my stomach. I returned to the bedroom, picking up the photograph again to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me; but they weren’t.
Oh god no! Cami...