Emmanuel parks the car and jumps out. He grabs Brock from the passenger seat. I follow him out and take Joanna with me. Brock leads Emmanuel to a side door. I wait with the two captives as Emmanuel opens the door.
Light shines into the barn, dimly revealing our mate. She’s curled up in a ball, shivering. Her wrists are bound and tied to the wall. She blinks up and smiles weakly.
“You came for me,” she croaks.
Emmanuel rushes to her side. I grab the pocket knife from my coat and throw it to him. He catches it and uses it to cut Rosemary free of her ties. Anger fills me as I see how raw her wrists are, where the plastic has cut into her skin.
Emmanuel helps her to her feet. My fingers twitch with the need to touch her. My twin thinks better of it and sweeps Rosemary off her unsteady feet and into his arms. He carries her over to me and I kiss her forehead. She smiles up at me.
Holding the bound hands of our captives, I drag Bonnie and Clyde back to the car. Emmanuel gently places Rosemary in the back and hands her a bottle of water, which she chugs greedily. I sit in the middle, with Joanna on my other side. Accomplice or not, I don’t want her near my mate. Brock is tied to the passenger seat again.
On the way back, I explain to Rosemary who the two of them are and what has happened. I tell her the real story of what happened eight years ago, not the biased version that she got from Brock. She is surprised to hear that my brother and I did, indeed, kill Peter Turner and his Beta. But she understands that the circumstances were different to what she was originally told.
When we get back to our territory, we unload Joanna and Brock out of the car and take them to the cells for holding. My brother and I take Rosemary to the pack doctor to be checked over.
She gives Rose a cream for the wounds on her wrists, but luckily, they’re already healing. Once she has the all-clear, we take her back to our office. The three of us sit on the sofa, our mate between us.
“What are you going to do about Brock and Joanna?” Rose asks quietly.
“I want to kill him,” Emmanuel comments. I hum in agreement.
“But he has a mate…and she has a child. You can’t take Brock away from Joanna, it could kill her. Don’t make that child grow up without parents.”
I grimace at the situation.
Why does Joanna have to be in it?
This would be so much easier if he hadn’t have met his mate. We could kill him and be done with it.
“We need some kind of assurance that he won’t come after you again,” I voice my thoughts out loud. “I don’t want to hurt Joanna, she has done nothing wrong, mostly, but I’m not risking your safety, kitten.”
“If we’re sticking to tradition, we could do to him what they used to do to thieves,” Emmanuel suggests. “He stole our mate. I say we take his hand.”
Rosemary gasps. “No! You don’t have to maim him, please. I’m fine, look at me!”
A growl escapes me and Rose turns silent.
“He was going to leave you to die, Rose,” I tell her angrily. “You would have starved and frozen to death in that barn and he didn’t care. Joanna is the only reason that mutt is still breathing.”
Rose reaches over and links her fingers with mine, trying to calm me.
“I agree with you,” I tell my brother.
Brock is retrieved from the cells and forced to his knees. One hand is bound behind his back, the other tied to a slab of stone in front of him. Emmanuel collects a sharpened silver sword from the armoury. I hold Brock in place as my twin comes over to him.
“Brock Turner, you are hereby found guilty of kidnapping and attempted murder. You lost your challenge for the Alpha title,” I declare loudly.
“After the removal of your hand, you are never to step onto North or South Forest Territory again. You are to never contact the Alphas, their mate, their family or friends. To break such terms is punishable by death. Do you understand?”
Brock nods grimly.
“Do you agree to the terms?”
“Yes,” he growls.
Emmanuel raises the sword above his head and brings it down swiftly. It slices Brock’s hand off with ease. Immediately the pack doctor steps in and takes Brock to the clinic, where his amputation is properly dealt with.
I get the job of disposing of the hand.
After Brock has been treated and had his hand bandaged, he and his mate are released at the border.
“Understand that we will do anything to protect our mate,” I tell Joanna privately as Brock waits impatiently for her, clutching his stump to his chest. “We did not want to kill your mate, as it would hurt you and you have done nothing to us. Please keep it that way. We never want to hear or see you near our territory again.”
Joanna swallows hard and nods. Her eyes shine with unshed tears.
“You won’t,” she says quietly. “We’ll stay far away. I just want my family to be safe.”
“So do I.”
My brother and I watch as the two mates walk off into the forest. I have a good feeling in my gut. Something tells me that they really will keep their word and stay away.
I wait for the twins a few metres away. I didn’t want to see them send Brock and his mate off. I’ve seen enough of that man for a lifetime. I shiver at the thought of what he wanted to do to my mates and I. Kill them and leave me to starve and freeze to death.
I’m so grateful that my mates didn’t kill him, though. His mate, Joanna, doesn’t deserve to lose her mate. The hand thing was grim, I couldn’t watch it. I have mixed views on it, so I left it to my mates to decide. I wanted him to pay, but taking his hand didn’t make me feel any better.
I just want them gone, for good. And now, they finally are.
Emmanuel’s voice calms me instantly. I push off the tree I’ve been leaning on and turn to see my mates approaching me. I meet them and throw my arms around both of them, pulling them into a three-way hug.
“He’s gone,” Ezekiel reassures me. “We never have to deal with them again.”
“Are you okay, kitten?” Emmanuel asks.
I nod and pull back. “Yeah, I’m okay.”
“Let’s get you home,” Ez proposes.
They each take one of my hands and the three of us walk through the trees, back towards the main area of their territory.
“I need to speak to Oya,” I tell them when we get to their office. “Did you get my phone back off Brock?”
Emmanuel, as if suddenly remembering, pulls it from his back packet.
“Yeah, sorry kitten. I forgot, what with everything going on. Here.”
It’s dead. I’ll have to charge it before I can talk to my friend.
“Can one of you please text Oya to let her know that I’m okay and that I’ll call her when my phone charges?”
Ez pulls out his phone. “On it.”
The office door opens and Beta Harvey comes in. “Hey, guys,” he greets us. “I just wanted to let you know that Ruthie has woken up. She’s in the clinic if you wanna say bye before you go.”
The twins told me that Brock had knocked her out. Poor Ruthie.
“Yeah, let’s go see her before we leave.”
We go over to the clinic and a nurse escorts us to her room. Ruthie is sat up in the hospital bed, eating jelly. There’s a thick bandage around her head, but other than that, she’s quite chirpy.
“I’m so glad you’re okay,” she says as soon as she sees me.
She opens her arms and I give her a hug.
“What about us?” Emmanuel says jokingly. “Aren’t you glad that we’re okay?”
Ruthie rolls her eyes. “Of course, I am. But you weren’t kidnapped.”
“Just beaten and battered in a fight,” Emmanuel mutters under his breath.
He sits down on one of the chairs and pulls me backwards to sit on his lap. I practically fall onto him and grip hold of his arms for support. We stay with Ruthie for a while, informing her of everything that happened. As it gets late, the twins want to take me home and feed me. I had a snack as soon as we got back from that awful barn, but I’d like a proper meal.
“Why do you live off your territory?” I ask the twins in the car on the way home.
They live twenty minutes from campus and ten minutes from the pack grounds.
“We don’t live off-territory, kitten,” Ez replies. He gestures around us. “We own all of this.”
They own the human land, too?
“But we wanted some space from our pack with our mate. We don’t want to be balls deep inside you whilst one of the pack members comes knocking because they have a question or request,” Emmanuel says casually.
My cheeks flame up at his words and Ez shoots him a reprimanding look, he only shrugs in response.
“That makes sense,” I mumble shyly.
“We have a house on the centre of the territory, but we prefer to use the one that’s more secluded.”
I put my phone on charge when I get home. I have dinner with my boys and by then, my phone has turned back on. I speak to Oya, filling her in on everything that has happened. She asks to come round and see me, but I promise to see her tomorrow. I’m exhausted and I’d really like just to spend the night with my mates.
I lay in their arms in bed that night. We all hold onto each other extra tight, traumatised by the day’s events.
“When we thought we might lose you,” Ezekiel says quietly in the darkness. “A thousand things went through my head. All the things we haven’t done with you yet. Our pack hasn’t met their Luna, and our parents haven’t met their daughter-in-law.”
Emmanuel carries on for him.
“If you’re not ready, just say, kitten. But we want you to meet our parents this weekend. We want you to get to know our family, because they’re your family now.”
I’m silent between them, my eyes filling with tears.
“I’d love that,” I whisper eventually.
I haven’t ever had a big family. Other than my grandmother, I haven’t had anyone to call when something goes wrong, anyone to come home to or buy Christmas presents for. It’s been me and her for so long. And now it was just me. But the twins have given me a family.