Staying connected to Tristan felt like a silver shard lodged in the bloodstream. Sure, a small part of me longed for him but the rest of me absolutely loathed the Vampire. I felt no animosity or distain towards Alpha Asher, as his touch and presence seemed to consume me entirely.
Still, I couldn’t deny that staying connected to Tristan didn’t have its benefits. If I managed to figure this link out, I could drop in at any point. Who knows what kinds of plans I could overhear?
I could see the hurt hidden beneath the boiling anger in Alpha Asher’s eyes, and ignored the sharp pain it sent through me. I couldn’t voice what I felt towards Alpha Asher in words.
How could you explain that someone’s mere presence consumes you? That their touch ignites every cell, every nerve ending on the body. Even though I wanted more from Alpha Asher, I would’ve settled for anything just to stay by his side.
I hoped beyond anything that the Moon Goddess wasn’t cruel, that she wouldn’t pair me with someone like Tristan. I had another concern, one hidden so deep, I hadn’t allowed it to see light. If Tristan was my mate, that meant I was destined for terrible things. If Alpha Asher were my mate, that meant I’d become Luna of his vast pack.
Alpha Asher knew there was nothing we could do to remove Tristan’s mark on my neck, not without my mate there to claim me himself. The thought made my heart leap as I looked into Alpha Asher’s dark eyes.
“I don’t want him, Asher.” I shook my head, my heart a thundering mess as I took a risky leap. “But I want this war to end and I want this pack to feel safe again. We both know that what I listen in on could change everything.”
Something flashed in the deep obsidian depths of Alpha Asher’s eyes, an emotion I wasn’t prepared to face. For a brief moment I worried he’d be angry I had forgotten his title, but flash of pride shined through his eyes. Slowly, his stubborn resolve cracked into one of irritable acceptance.
I knew he wanted to keep me from danger, wanted to keep Tristan from touching what was his but he had to know how far I was willing to go.
“I don’t want him touching you again, Lola.” Alpha Asher all but snarled, the muscles in his jaw working overtime under the stress. “Keep your distance from him, but listen closely.”
While Alpha Asher was still fuming, I couldn’t help the smile that twitched onto my face. I wasn’t expecting him to actually listen to me–like an equal. Feeling bold and willing to see how far his feelings for me went, I stood from the bed. The silky comforter dropped to the floor, leaving every inch of my creamy skin exposed. For once I wasn’t cold, as Alpha Asher’s dark gaze chased away the lingering chill.
Instead of coaxing the sweet anger coated lu*t from Alpha Asher, I did something I never had before. I walked over to him as if his burning gaze wasn’t sending a blush to every inch of my skin, and wrapped my arms around his neck. I could feel how rigid he was, probably thinking the same thing I was. I had never made the first move, and I had certainly never tried to comfort him before.
Instead of peering into his eyes, I buried my face against his chest, letting his consuming scent fill my nose. Cedarwood and just a hint of something sweet, earthy and incredibly alluring.
Slowly his stiffened posture relaxed, and his large arms snak*d around my waist. My heart was thundering, but a small smile had worked its way into my face, covered by his dark shirt. Very quickly, my face was yanked from Alpha Asher’s chest as he lifted me into the air. His rough hands gripped my thighs, sending a blissful wave to my core.
His dark eyes peered into my own, his pupil blending into the dark color. His full lips twitched in amusement as his hands
“Feeling affectionate, Lola?” Alpha Asher smirked, the sly look on his face sending an incredulous blush along my cheeks.
I narrowed my eyes at Alpha Asher, “I was trying to comfort you and besides, you don’t let me touch you. “
Despite the time’s I’ve had his length down my throat, Alpha Asher had never let me touch him. Countless blissful org**m s at his hands but he had never caved into doing anything more. My fingers twitched at the thought of feeling the hard planes of his stomach and the softness of his skin.
Alpha Asher’s sly smirk deepened, his eyes flickering with amusement. His hands gripped my bottom, holding me against his core.
“I have let you touch me, Lola.”
My throat ached at his words, and my body reacted under his touch. I knew what he was referring to, but in my eyes it didn’t count. He had never let me trace the length of his muscles, or run my fingers over his hardened shaft. He kept me at a distance while I was willing to give myself completely, but it didn’t change my feelings towards Alpha Asher. While I highly doubted, he was saving himself for his mate, he enjoyed teasing me.
‘Four days’ I thought in frustration. The thought sent a blush to my face, but I couldn’t deny the attraction I felt towards Alpha Asher. Even though I knew little about his family or his personal life, I knew without a doubt that he would never actually hurt me. He brought me a sense of security and comfort.
“I remember very vividly.” I cleared my throat, scowling as he trailed a finger along the blush on my face.
Just as his smooth lips parted to respond, a knock sounded at the door. I watched as irritation passed over his eyes, then finally begrudging acceptance as the knocking on the door returned with vengeance.
Alpha Asher set me on the floor, his dark eyes telling me we would finish this later. Even if he refused to give himself over completely, my body ached with anticipation.
I stalked over to the closet, grabbing a quick outfit and stumbling into the bathroom to change. From the bathroom I could hear Alpha Asher open the door. From the deep chuckle, I knew it was Alpha Zeke.
After slipping into a pair of leggings and a blouse, I emerged from the bathroom. Alpha Zeke stood with his arms crossed, a look of amusement on his face as he looked between Alpha Asher and I.
“Did I interrupt something?” Alpha Zeke smirked, lighting up his strangely intense eyes.
“No.” I shook my head, my face still heated from Alpha Asher’s touch.
“In fact, you were interrupting.” Alpha Asher smirked, matching Alpha Zeke’s amusement. “What for?”
Zeke took Asher’s question as permission to speak in front of me, his smirk fading just a hint as he spoke.
“While you guys were off getting Sean, Luna Freya had plans of her own.” Alpha Zeke grunted; all traces of his smirk removed. “A lot of the Vampires were distracted, probably because they sent them all after you. She managed to send a few of her men in and get Brittany.”
In the span of ten seconds, all humor and enjoyment were vacant from the room. Alpha Asher met my eyes, remembering what he had promised me. I’m sure he had his ways of getting information, but Brittany deserved a chance to prove her innocence.
“Where did you place her?” Alpha Asher grimaced, his posture stiffening once more.
“In the room next door.” Alpha Zeke shrugged, but then rolled his eyes at Alpha Asher. “Your dungeon, obviously.”
While I cringed at the thought of Alpha Asher lashing out on Alpha Zeke, he instead met my narrowing gaze.
“She will not be tortured.” Alpha Asher raised his eyebrow at me, “She will be questioned and if she is truly innocent, she will tell me what she knows.”
I shuddered at the thought of being locked in the dungeons, remembering how Tyler had once shown me around. The stench of blood and death lingered in the air like a sour perfume, mixing with the smell of wet earth. The moment I had stepped foot in the dungeons, I swore I’d never go back. I could handle fighting against an opponent, but I wasn’t sure I had the stomach for torture.
“I’ll be down shortly to speak with her.” Alpha Asher nodded to Alpha Zeke, who then left the bedroom.
“As much as I’d like to hear what she says, I’d prefer not to go down in those dungeons.” I shuddered, my nose wrinkling from the memory of the putrid smell.
Tyler’s family had hardly ever used the dungeon, and yet it had a constant stench of blood and piss.
“Unfortunately, I need you to come.” Alpha Asher chuckled lowly, gesturing for me to follow him from the bedroom.
“Why do you need me there?” I groaned, knowing the smell would cling to my hair and clothes.
“I need you to speak with Tyler.” Alpha Asher’s voice turned hard, irritation practically rolling from him in waves. “He’s been incredibly resilient, and refuses to share information. His one request is to speak with you.”
I’d spend an hour in that putrid dungeon to avoid speaking with Tyler, but I knew Alpha Asher wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important. His hatred for Tyler exceeded my own, and he would love nothing more than to watch him die at his hands, but the safety of his pack meant more than revenge.
“He will remain restrained.” Alpha Asher grunted, the two of us heading downstairs. Alpha Zeke was nowhere to be seen, most likely already in the dungeons.
“I’m not afraid of Tyler.” I snorted, knowing I could handle myself against him with easy. The thought gave Maya a sick sense of joy.
“I know.” Alpha Asher chuckled, amusement flashing in his darkened eyes. “As entertaining as that fight may be, if he touches you, he dies.”
“I might have to fight you for that honor.” I snorted.
“You’ve never beaten me before, Lola.” Alpha Asher purred, gazing down at me with a mix of lu*t and longing shining in his dark eyes.
“Just you watch.” I grimaced, fighting the infuriating blush that crept into my cheeks. “There’s a first time for everything.”
I cringed as we walked down into the basement, the putrid smell of the dungeons was dim up here but it would slowly get worse. The basement of the packhouse was abysmal. A large square with brick walls and towering boxes. The basement had been old and dusty when Tyler’s parents lived here, and it seems it hasn’t changed.
A tunnel stuck out of the far wall, and has probably been here for the last fifty years. The tunnel was man-made by someone in Tyler’s family, its purpose was specifically for a dungeon. That way, anyone who might escape has to go through the packhouse.
I thanked the Moon-Goddess I wasn’t claustrophobic as we walked down the tunnel. The stone tunnel quickly turned to smoothed dirt, the foul stench growing stronger as we neared a set of stairs. Dim lanterns pegged into the earthen walls lit the narrow tunnel, just big enough to fit two people.
The hallway stopped, branching out into two more. I followed Alpha Asher down the left tunnel, taking shallow breaths of the ripe smell. Crude metal cages lined the walls of a large hallway.
Each cage was rusted from use, but made with flecks of silver embedded within. Any touch to the bars would sear the skin. The farther down the hallway we walked, the older the cages seemed.
“I will speak with Brittany. She’s being kept in the other wing, down the right tunnel.” Alpha Asher grunted, nodding his head towards the end of the walkway. “He has ten minutes.”
Giving me one last glance, Alpha Asher turned and left me alone in this putrid dungeon. I walked further down the wide room, glancing at cage after cage. They were all empty, except for one at the very end.
Tyler’s cell was tall enough to stand in, and possibly lay down but that was the extent of his range of motion. My stomach churned at the sight of Tyler, and a sick amusement rose in my throat at his haggard appearance.
His once blonde hair now looked brown, clouded with days’ worth of dirt. The blue eyes that had once reminded me of the ocean were dull and flat, reminding me of swamp water. He had thinned out, either from stress or his days in this cage.
The muscles that jutted from his arms were thinner, giving him a lanky kind of look. The silver cuffs around his wrists chained him to the wall, searing his skin and suppressing his wolf.
“Lola, you look good.” Tyler chuckled; a painful grin formed on his face.
While I couldn’t see any open wounds on Tyler’s body, but his torn and bloody t-shirt was proof of Alpha Asher’s questioning. While the thought of someone getting tortured turned my stomach, Tyler had been pitted against Alpha Asher from the start.
“Better than you do.” I snorted, crossing my arms over my chest.
“This isn’t my best look.” Tyler chuckled, but his expression quickly turned serious. “Not that it matters now, but I wasn’t lying when I told you how I felt. Everything I did was a mistake–leaving you was a mistake.”
I thought back to when Tyler had found his mate. The sound of his name had sent aches rolling through my body, and part of me dreamed he would say those words someday. After meeting Alpha Asher and resisting Tristan, I felt nothing for Tyler. That tiny shred of longing or hope had vanished, turning into something new under Alpha Asher’s touch.
“I’m not getting you out of this situation.” I chuckled darkly, shaking my head at him. “Your mistakes have led you here. I can’t promise your life if you talk, but I can promise a painless death.”
Tyler remained quiet for a few minutes, as if he were actually contemplating what I had said. I knew Alpha Asher would never let Tyler live, not after all he had done.
“Have you spoken with Tristan?” Tyler asked, his voice sounding rough. Even with the absence of his werewolf, his eyes were dark.
“We saved my brother.” I glared at him pointedly, “I saw him at the club they took Sean to.”
“Don’t listen to the lies he spews, Lola.” Tyler frowned, for a split second he actually looked genuine. “He just wants you for your title.”
“Title?” I scoffed, “His Vampire King might be my Father, but I want no part of that side of me.”
“You don’t want anything to do with it?” Tyler chuckled darkly, as if I were missing out on something important. “You can’t change that, Lola. The only heir to the Vampire Kingdom.”
“That doesn’t matter.” I shook my head, “I refuse, plain and simple.”
“Oh, Lola.” Tyler sighed, false sympathy bleeding through his dull eyes. “You can’t refuse, it’s in your blood. Once the Vampire King dies, his power will be passed down to you.”
“You’re lying.” I shook my head, anger growing in my gut as I continued looking at his irritating face. “What is it you wanted with me, Tyler? Either give me information or quit asking for me.”
“I suppose you’ll find out on your own in time.” Tyler shrugged, a smirk forming on his haggard face. “Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you something helpful.”
“Tomorrow?” My eyebrow lifted, but I hid the burning interest from my eyes. “Are you busy today, is that it?”
“I wouldn’t mind your wonderful company for one more day.” Tyler smirked, looking much like his old self for those few short seconds until his smirk fell. “Who knows how long I have left?”
“Fine.” I grimaced; my jaw clenched as I looked into the dull eyes of the guy I had once loved. “Tomorrow, Tyler. Don’t disappoint me again.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Tyler chuckled as I turned and walked away.
I met Alpha Asher at the base of the tunnel stairs. His eyes were dark and irritation rolled from him in waves.
“Learn anything new?” I quipped, noting his tense shoulders and rigid posture.
“The Vampire’s plan on attacking from the southern side. The forest is dense over there, much harder for patrol to fully encompass. She doesn’t know when, but from what she heard they’ll be attacking soon.”
“What’re you going to do?” I frowned, hoping Brittany’s information would change the outcome of that fight.
“I’ll double patrol on that end of town, send some of Alpha Bran’s men out.” Alpha Asher sighed, running a hand through his messy hair. “Did Tyler tell you anything useful?”
“Apparently I’m the next Vampire Queen and I have no say in the matter.” I grimaced, shooting a furious glance towards the tunnel Tyler’s cage sat in. “Other than that, I learned nothing. He wants me to come tomorrow, says he’ll give me information then.”
“We will deal with that later.” Alpha Asher grimaced, referring to my future title as Vampire Queen. “He’s making more demands now? Interesting. Seem’s he’s waiting for someone.”
“I’m not so sure about that.” I shook my head, “Tyler doesn’t have any men, the Vampires have no reason to keep him around. I can’t see them wasting their own to rescue him.”
“Then why request to meet with you tomorrow?” Alpha Asher’s eyes burned holes into my own. His hatred towards Tyler gave the putrid air a spicy scent.
“He knows he’s going to die down here.” I shrugged, “Guess he wants some company before he dies. That doesn’t mean I trust him though. Not even a little bit.”
The two of us finally headed out of the putrid tunnels, upstairs and into the living room. I gulped the fresh breath, noting the subtle hit of flowers lingering in the room.
“Good.” Alpha Asher murmured, his hand grazing my cheek. The wall he placed that hid his emotions from sight had shifted, softening his eyes and letting longing bleed through. “It’s bad enough I have a Vampire fighting for your hand.”
“He doesn’t stand a chance. No one else does.” I shook my head, staring into the deep honey eyes I had come to love.