12 days ago...
Quinn had just left to go to her meditation session with Moira. Moira was convinced that she would be able to tap into some untouched power inside Quinn to allow her to have a partial shift between her animals.
I knew Quinn could do it, I’d seen it myself, but that was with the help of Cassius and Alessandra. I trusted Moira but I didn’t want Quinn pushing herself too hard, these sessions had been taking their toll.
For now, though, I had other pressings matters on my mind.
“Jayce, come in. I gather you and Quinn...caught up on matters...”
I laughed as I entered Cameron’s house. There was no doubt Cameron would have heard Quinn and I...catching up from here. She’d given me the best shower of my life, that was our version of catching up anyway.
“Ahhh, yep” I answered.
I spent the next half hour detailing to Cameron everything that went down at the Alpha conference at Eastern Ridge. He sat there in silence, nodding and noting certain points down. We discussed the extra patrols and how we would move forward.
“I’d like to hold off notifying the rest of the pack about the disappearances though” I said, earning a quizzical look from my Beta.
I hadn’t told Cameron about the scent yet but I knew if I was going to carry out my plan, I needed him onboard.
“There are other matters that I need to handle first, I’m going to need your help...and discretion”
Cameron nodded, giving me his undivided attention.
“My wolf picked up that something was wrong, that’s why I came back early from Eastern Ridge. Upon reaching Fern Creek territory I picked up a scent...”
“The Kylo Alpha and Beta?”
“No. I believe it was panther”
Cameron sat back in his chair, surprised.
“Are you sure? I didn’t smell it, our patrols didn’t mention anything like that”
“I’m sure. I think the scent was meant to be cloaked but for whatever reason I picked up on it, so did Quinn”
Cameron’s eyes widened.
“Could it have been Onyx? Maybe she is trying to locate Quinn?”
“No. It was male, powerful...and unmated”
“You don’t think...?”
“That he was there sniffing around after Quinn? Yeah, I do think”
The look on Cameron’s face said it all. I knew in that moment, what ever I needed from him, he would gladly give.
“What’s the plan?”
“We increase our patrols, which we are doing anyway in regards to the missing wolves. My senses are obviously picking up on this arsehole because he is after Quinn. I’ll patrol too, regularly, until we get him”
“Then what?” Cameron asked, knowing the answer already.
“I kill him”
So that was that. The compound would be virtually locked down until this panther was destroyed. When I was out of the compound Cameron would keep an eye on Quinn and she would be non the wiser. It was a fool proof plan really. It would be impossible for a panther to get inside the walls of Fern Creek, even with a cloaked scent.
I’d left Cameron to work out the details and mobilise the fighters, as far as they were concerned they were strengthening patrols because of a heightened rogue presence.
The following day...
I’d been out patrolling all morning, I’d told Quinn I was off discussing pack business with Cameron. I felt bad lying to Quinn, but the sooner I got this panther dealt with, the better.
After several hours I was about to head back in with no sign of the scent, then I received a mind link from Cameron
‘Jayce. I just bumped into Quinn, she seemed off somehow. I told her you were running some errands. But then she mentioned that she thought she smelt something...any signs of panther out there?’
I clenched my fists. Cunning bastard.
‘No. I haven’t picked up anything, not even the hint of a scent. I’ll stay on patrol, he’s got to be out here somewhere’
If Quinn was smelling the scent inside the compound did that mean he’d breached the walls? Surely not, it would have been impossible with all of the extra fighters on guard.
My wolf was happy with the fact that Quinn had told Cameron that she’d picked up on the scent. I felt my wolf was still a bit unsure of her motives and if he could trust her. It didn’t sit well with me but I knew it was just the skeptical Alpha coming out. It was his job to look at things from all angles.
Night rolled around and still no sign of the panther. I was tearing my hair out. Maybe I should just go speak to Quinn, let her know what I thought was going on. We were a team, after all, Alpha and Luna; we were in this together.
I headed back to the compound, nodding at my fighters as I entered the gates and made my way towards the pack house. That’s when I smelt it.
I followed the smell, a strong trail of it winding through the compound, leading me towards the back perimeter. I clenched my fists, he had been here. How the fuck had he been here?!
I looked up as I neared the fence line and my heart stopped in my chest. Quinn was standing by the creek, her eyes closed and a look of...longing on her face as she breathed in the scent. I looked around, but there was no one else there. I approached Quinn silently, she had no idea I was there, too caught up in the smell that enveloped her.
Then the scent was gone. Quinn opened her eyes and looked at me.
“What are you doing out here?” I asked, trying not to let my anger seep through.
“Jayce! Where have you been? I was looking for you”
I could hear Quinn’s heart hammering in her chest. I looked around, we were definitely alone.
“You were looking for me...at the back of the compound?”
What a load of shit. She was lying. My wolf was right. I crossed my arms in front of my chest, she knew I was pissed.
“Sorry. Have I done something wrong?”
I looked into those blue eyes, those ice blue eyes that looked directly into your soul. Even with everything that was laid out in front of me- the scent inside the compound, Quinn hiding back here where the scent was strongest- I still wanted to believe she was innocent. Her eyes showed no sign of her being deceitful, I didn’t think she even knew how to be.
I uncrossed my arms and stepped towards my mate.
“No. It’s just been a long day” I sighed.
Quinn willingly stepped into my arms, her warmth bringing me comfort. I placed my head on top of her’s, breathing in her scent; and that’s exactly what it was, her scent, not even a hint of anyone else’s.
“Well now that I’ve found you, are you ready to come home?” She asked.
“I’m ready if you are. Let’s go to bed”
Over the next week I was gone from Fern Creek more than I was actually there. I was a man obsessed, obsessed with catching this stray fucking cat that thought it could sneak into my compound and sniff around my mate.
Every now and then I’d return home. I’d breathe in Quinn’s scent, making sure it was still as pure as the day I left her...then I’d fuck her brains out. I wanted any unmated males, regardless of their species, to know that she was mine in every sense of the word. I owned Quinn, body and soul. I wanted her walking around the compound, smelling like me- a heady combination of Alpha scent and sex.
Over the whole week I hadn’t picked up the scent at all. I wondered if maybe the panther had given up but part of me doubted it very much. It was more realistic that something had happened to him, maybe a rogue had picked him off.
I was patrolling a few miles past the back of the compound, about to head back in, when I received a mind link from Cameron.
‘Jayce. You might want to come back here. Just don’t tear my head off when you do. Ok?’
Before the link had even finished I was tearing through the forest back to the compound. I tried to link Cameron, to ask him for more information but he’d blocked me. Whatever it was, he wanted to tell me in person.
I reached the gates within minutes and Luca let me inside.
“Why the fuck can I smell panther?!” I asked as I sniffed the air around me.
Luca cleared his throat and looked down at his feet.
“I’ll let the Beta fill you in”
I looked in the direction of the pack house and Cameron came running over.
“Is that panther I smell? In the fucking compound?!”
Cameron stopped in front of me and nodded his head.
“It’s not what you think. Just hear me out”
I crossed my arms over my chest and raised an eyebrow, waiting for my Beta to continue.
“Yes. There was a panther here. He was a messenger from the Panthera Kingdom. He had a message from Onyx for Quinn. Quinn invited him into the pack house to talk privately...”
“And you allowed this?” I growled.
Was he fucking stupid?
“Well, it wasn’t so much ‘allowed’ as it was ‘didn’t have a choice’. Quinn is my Luna. I remained outside the door, I made sure she was safe”
I shrugged my shoulders, annoyed with my Beta’s answer.
“So where is she now?” I asked.
Cameron looked around at the other fighters, they all looked away.
“Beta...where is my Luna?”
“She’s gone to the Panthera Kingdom”
“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!” I roared.
I was mad. Cameron winced, he had never seen his Alpha this mad before, which was saying something. I turned, looking around with my fists clenched. I wanted to punch something, I needed to break something, tear something to shreds; preferably not my Beta. None of the pack members within earshot would look at me, they knew I was doing everything I could not to let my wolf take over.
“I tried to stop her. She gave me an order...she’s the Luna-”
“I’m the fucking Alpha! Fuck! I wouldn’t have given a shit if you had fucking tied her down until I got back”
Cameron shook his head. I knew that he wouldn’t have been able to do that. Not only was Quinn stronger than him but she was also his Luna. To defy the order of your Luna would be treason.
I ran my fingers through my hair and let out a long breath. I needed to regain composure, I needed to keep my wolf under control.
Sure, I wanted to locate Quinn immediately and slap her perfectly round arse until it was red raw but I also didn’t want to do anything that would potentially push her further away from me. If only Quinn knew why I had been away from the compound all week. I wish I had told her, maybe if I had she wouldn’t have gone; but then again, maybe she would have gone sooner.
“You’re certain that’s where she was going? The Panthera Kingdom?” I asked.
“Yes. She said it’s current location was about three hours run away and that she would be back tomorrow”
“It’s not safe Cameron. The forest is not safe at the moment. Especially with everything that’s going on”
Cameron didn’t say anything. I knew what he was probably thinking, that if I had been upfront with Quinn from the beginning that none of this would have happened; he knew better than to open his mouth though.
“I need to go after her” I spat and threw my hands in the air.
“How? Only a panther can break through the cloaking spell” Cameron answered.
“Let’s go find us a panther”