Ez and I lead Brock out to the training ground. It’s like looking into a mirror of the past. I have the most horrible sense of déjà vu. We’ve done this before and now, history is repeating itself.
We can beat this kid, easy.
“Who do you want to go against first?” I ask the spineless mutt.
A few pack members are obviously intrigued by what is going on, and gather around us to watch.
“I don’t care,” he says arrogantly and rolls his shoulders. “I have spent years training for this day.”
“Yet you’re still as weak as your father,” Ezekiel retorts.
He glares at Ez. “You.” He points at my twin. “I will fight you first.”
I take a step back and let Ezekiel and Brock enter the cleared square. They both take off their shoes and their tops, leaving on their shorts/trousers. They circle each other, their fists raised in protective stances.
It is shifter law that an Alpha must always accept a challenge immediately, unless a later date is agreed on by both parties. Shifting is not allowed.
It is tradition that these fights are carried out in human form. If a person shifts, they forfeit the fight. They have to remain as humans, but there are no rules on biting etc. It’s a savage kind of fight. The two of them begin to throw lunges and jabs at each other. Brock taunts Ez as he circles him.
“Is it killing you inside that you don’t know where your mate is?” He taunts my twin. “That she could be tied up somewhere, scared and alone? That she might be crying and desperately screaming your names? Begging for help?”
Ez growls and throws himself at him. Brock dodges him with a laugh. My nails dig into my palms, my fists are clenched so tightly.
“She can scream pretty loudly. Nearly burst my ear drum,” Brock goads him. “I saw your marks on her neck. Tell me, can you feel her fear? Or is she too far away?”
“You fucking bastard!” Ezekiel roars and throws himself at him.
He pins Brock down and begins pounding on his face, landing punch after punch. My brother has well and truly lost control. His fingers turn into claws, slashing at Brock’s skin. His face starts to shift, his nose and mouth becoming elongated.
“Ez! No!” I shout, but it’s too late.
He has partially shifted. He has forfeited the fight. I never thought Ez would be the one to lose control. It’s always me. I’m the impulsive one. Ez is usually calm. Without Rosemary, he’s crumbling.
His shoulders sag and he climbs off of Brock, looking defeated. He drops onto the ground beside him, panting. His body returns to normal and I help him sit up. I hand him a bottle of water from one of our pack members. His knuckles are bloodied and bruised as he takes it from me.
“I’m sorry,” he apologises. “I lost it.”
“I know. He wanted to get a reaction from you. He’s a sneaky fucker.”
I stand up and crack my knuckles. I kick off my shoes and pull off my shirt. I pop my neck and roll my shoulders.
“I’m going to fucking destroy him,” I promise Ezekiel and then enter the square.
Brock has washed his face. The cuts are started to heal already and he grins at me. “I’m ready for round two,” he brags. “I hear that you’re the hot-headed one out of the two of you. If that was the calm brother’s reaction, I can’t wait to see you lose it.”
I glare at him and focus on his weak spots. His head and face will still be tender from Ez’s battering. I need to focus on his upper body. We dance around the square, dodging and lunging backwards and forwards. For the first few minutes, neither of us gets a hit in. I fake a left and catch him with a right hook.
This pisses Brock off. He growls and I dodge two of his blows. I clip the side of his head with a hit, dazing him. I take the opportunity to hit him another two times, punching his jaw and his nose.
It cracks and crunches under my hit, telling me that it is broken. Blood flows freely from his nose and into his mouth. Brock leaps backwards and spits a mouthful of blood onto the ground. He wipes under his nose with the back of his mouth and glares at me.
“That felt good,” I comment, smirking to piss him off.
He snarls and throws himself at me. I dodge him easily, spin behind him and kick him in the back. He falls forwards and I jump onto his back, pinning him down.
I wrap my arm around his neck, and twist one of his arms backwards, until I can almost break it. In the chokehold and unable to move, Brock freezes. He wriggles, trying to find any area that I’m holding loosely, so I tighten my grip to let him know that there is no way out. He taps against my leg, letting me know that he’s forfeiting, but I keep tightening my grip.
I cut off his air supply and his lips start turning blue. Ez approaches me worriedly.
“Rose-mar-y,” Brock gasps her name.
I release him and he draws in deep breaths. I climb off and he rolls onto his back, slowly returning to a normal colour.
“You lost,” I snarl at him. “Where is she?”
“It doesn’t matter,” he replies hoarsely, laughing like a madman. “I will never tell you. By the time you find her-” He pauses to cough. “She’ll be dead.”
I grab him by the neck and drag him to his feet. I hold him a few feet above the ground, squeezing his throat. He gasps and splutters, his legs kicking back and forth in the air.
A feminine voice breaks through the crowd. My heart picks up for a millisecond, before I realise that it isn’t Rose’s voice. A young blonde pushes through the crowd that has gathered, worry on her face.
“Don’t hurt him!” She cries. “He’s my mate!”
Emmanuel drops Brock in surprise. He falls to the ground in a heap, gasping for breath. The blonde kneels by his side and brushes his blood-matted hair from his forehead.
“Baby?” She coos at him. “Brock, can you hear me?”
He reaches for her hand and she squeezes it tightly. “Joanna,” he gasps. “What…you...doing…here?”
She looks up at Emmanuel with tear-filled eyes and an angry expression. “You nearly killed him!” She shouts accusingly. “You monster!”
Emmanuel looks at me, a confused look on his face. I shrug back at him and turn to the blonde.
“Your mate stole our mate,” I tell her. “He challenged us for our Alpha position and lost. He needs to tell us where our mate is.”
The blonde looks horrified. This appears to be the first she has heard of this, so I think we can cross her out as an accomplice.
“Brock, tell me they’re lying,” she pleads with him. “Is this true? Have you taken their mate?”
Brock sits up, wincing in pain. He looks at his mate and shakes his head sadly.
She lets out a sob. “Why? Why would you do that?”
“They killed my father,” he tells her.
His voice is barely recognisable. Emmanuel crushed his windpipe.
“Where is our mate?” Emmanuel demands.
Brock glares up at him. “I won’t tell you.”
Emmanuel grabs the blonde -Joanna- by her hair and drags her to her feet. She screams and tries to get his hands off. I calmly watch my twin wrap his hand around Joanna’s throat.
“Tell us, or I will kill your mate,” Emmanuel threatens.
Brock’s eyes widen in panic and he looks between his mate and my brother. Then, he sneers.
“You won’t kill her, I know you. You’re weak. Murdering my father’s Beta haunted you,” Brock replies bitterly. “I know you won’t kill her.”
He’s right. I know he won’t kill her either, we’re not killers. But we need our mate.
“Okay, I won’t kill her,” Emmanuel says calmly. “But, you need to tell us where our mate is.”
He grabs Joanna’s arm and bends it behind her back. She screams in pain and tears run down her face.
“Brock!” She begs. “Please!”
Brock struggles to get to his feet. “Fine! Fine! I’ll tell you,” he snarls. “Let her go.”
Emmanuel loosens his grip on Joanna, but doesn’t let go.
“She’s on an abandoned farm, about two hours from here. I’ll need to take you there.”
Emmanuel looks at me and I nod. “We’ll all go,” I tell them.
Brock and Joanna are put in silver chains. Brock is tied to the passenger seat, Emmanuel drives. I sit in the back with Joanna. My leg bobs up and down with agitation. Brock tells us that Rosemary is fine, but he hasn’t left her with any food or water. By the time we tracked her down ourselves, she might have died.
My throat feels like it’s closing up and I can’t breathe. The thought of my mate in pain is killing me. I need to see her, hold her, kiss her. To distract myself from going mad, I look over at Joanna. She seems perfectly normal enough, how did she end up with a guy like Brock?
“You didn’t know about Brock taking Rosemary?” I ask her.
With wide eyes, she shakes her head. Tears spills from her eyes and down her cheeks.
“About a month ago, I met Brock,” she tells me. Brock remains silent in the front of the car. “I was so excited to meet my mate. We were inseparable for two weeks. We spent every day together.” She blushes. “Completed the mating process.”
She swallows and looks down at her bound hands on her lap.
“Then, Brock found out about my daughter. She’d been on holiday with her grandparents. Her name is Tallulah and I had her when I was sixteen. She is both my proudest achievement and biggest regret, for not waiting until I found my mate.”
A growl emanates from Brock’s chest.
“Shut up,” Emmanuel barks at him.
“Brock was so angry,” she whispers. “He went mental. I thought he was going to leave me. But, he suddenly came round and forgave me. He’s been so good with Tallulah. But, the last week, he went cold again. I knew he was hiding something from me…I didn’t know it was this.”
“I wanted to give you and your daughter the life you deserve,” Brock adds bitterly. “I panicked when I found out about your daughter because I realised that I had to provide for the both of you. I wanted to get my pack back so that I could give you the life you both deserve.”
“And so you kidnapped our mate to do that?” I spit the words, fury bubbling up in me.
“She was insurance,” Brock snaps. “So that I knew you wouldn’t kill me.”
A tense silence falls on the car.
“Turn right ahead. That’s the barn.”