The others were quick to respond as one of our own had been found.
I couldn’t peel my eyes away from Katie’s glassy stare, even when Mason’s gentle hand turned me from her body.
We had shifted into human form after alerting the others, pulling on a t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants that were stashed in the forest.
“Don’t look at her, Lola.” Mason murmured, his typical care-free expression was absent from his face.
“Could a wolf have done this?” Maya mused in my head.
I shook my head in response, “It’s possible. It takes incredible skill to cover your scent like that.”
I could feel my heart hammering in my chest, and the cool night time breeze felt sharp against my skin.
As awful as it sounds, I had grown used to blocking things from my mind. While Katie’s glassy stare would surely haunt my dreams, I pushed the image from my conscious mind.
Alpha Asher and his men had taken a total of six minutes to arrive in the clearing.
Asher looked delectable in his loose fitting shorts, his bare chest absorbing the moon light and taking on a porcelain glow. As much as my mind wanted to linger on Asher and find some semblance of peace, there was business to attend to.
“He brought a lot of men with him.” Maya pointed out that interesting fact.
I frowned, “Kind of strange, isn’t it?”
There had to be at least fifteen men that followed Asher into the clearing. Far too many men for what looked like a simple rogue attack.
A man I hadn’t met before approached Mason and I while Asher looked over Katie’s lifeless body.
The unnamed man was nearly as intimidating as Asher himself, but he lacked the powerful aura that Asher seemed to constantly exude.
“Beta Drake.” Mason murmured, nodding his head in an act of respect.
Beta Drake was the man mentioned when I first arrived at the pack boarders. No wonder Sean was in such a sour mood when I finally arrived home. Asher had no need for another Beta when he had one of his own. Sean had essentially been stripped of his title, a title my family had held for years.
Beta Drake had the same extremely large build all of Asher’s men had, as if giant blood ran in their family. A long scar ran down the side of his neck, disappearing under the t-shirt he wore. His hair was a strange shade of ash blonde and reached down to his ears.
“Tell me tonight’s events leading up to the discovery of the she-wolf.” Beta Drake spoke in a very informal tone, “Do not leave anything out.”
Mason glanced at me, and with reluctance I began to speak.
I kept my hammering heart under control, determined to keep my wandering eyes away from Katie’s body. The last thing I needed was to lose what tight grip I had on my emotions.
Much to my surprise, my voice came out calm and steady. The turmoil I was feeling inside didn’t rear it’s ugly head.
Mason chimed in here and there, confirming my account of tonight’s events.
Asher hadn’t approached the two of us, nor spared us a glance as we left from the clearing.
Mason, kind as always, walked me home in silence.
“First night of patrol and this happens.” Mason shook his head, a frown forming on his pale lips.
I scoffed, but the action was filled with exhaustion. “Not a very good sign, is it?”
Mason shook his head, “Not at all.”
“There were too many of Asher’s men there tonight for it to be a simple rogue attack.” I pursed my lips, the gears in my mind turning.
“You think so?” Mason’s head tilted slightly as my words sunk in.
I shrugged, “Fifteen men seems like an awful lot. Rogue attacks happen sometimes, but tonight seemed different.”
“I think we both need some sleep. Try not to think about it too much.” Mason frowned as we stood on the stairs to my house, “I’ll see you for training tomorrow, right?”
I rolled my eyes, gaining some of my sarcastic humor back. “Like Alpha Asher would let me miss training.”
Mason grinned, but it was one that took effort to maintain. “Good, I’ll hunt you down myself if you don’t show.”
I waved Mason off and went inside.
It didn’t seem like Sean was home, but Grandma and Dad sat in the living room. From the looks of it, they were having a hushed conversation between themselves. I couldn’t make out any of the words exchanged between the two of them, but the one word I heard was crystal clear; Lana.
“Their talking like two people who don’t wanna be overheard.” Maya mumbled in my head.
As much as I wanted to care, to inquire what they were talking about, the night had been long enough.
Both of their heads snapped to the door as I walked in, and Dad lifted himself to his feet.
“Sean told us something happened tonight at patrol.” Dad frowned, his gruff voice full of worry.
I frowned and crossed my arms, “A girl was found dead. Looks like a rogue attack.”
Dad wasn’t placated, “I don’t want you out running patrol anymore, or anywhere near the woods for that matter.”
I understood where he was coming from, but I also knew his personal needs wouldn’t overcome Alpha Asher’s.
“You know that won’t happen, Dad.” I frowned, plopping down on the couch next to Grandma.
“I’m not losing you or Sean.” Dad growled, running a hand through his salt and pepper hair.
I sighed, wanting nothing more than to head to bed. “Alpha Asher would never allow that. He can’t let half the people in town stop showing up for patrol cause their families are scared.”
“Lola, just listen to me on this.” Dad grimaced, but I had already had enough.
“No.” I stood from the couch, “I will not run again. I’m back now, and I can handle myself.”
The previous exhaustion that tinged my words had faded, leaving behind something else. A sense of power and authority filled me, one that didn’t quite feel right in a werewolf.
Dad’s jaw clenched, but if he could feel the strange waves rolling off of me he made no indication.
After a few moments the strange sensation subsided leaving me feeling drained and somewhat groggy.
“What the hell was that?” Maya sounded just as confused and tired as I.
“I have no idea.” I grumbled, my limbs feeling heavy. “All I know is I need some sleep.”
Dad still stood with his jaw clenched while Grandma looked quite pale.
“I’m heading to bed now.” I mumbled, trudging up the stairs, “I have training in the morning.”
Falling asleep that night had been effortless, and I made sure to set an alarm for the morning.
As I thought, Katie haunted my dreams. Her glassy green eyes were burned into my head, along with the image of her scarlet stained throat.
The dream felt so real, and I had almost mistaken it for reality. It was one detail that stood out, it reminded me this wasn’t reality. A set of blazing red eyes stared at me through the forest, scalding me with it’s intensity.
While the chilling dreams of Katie hindered my sleep, I felt refreshed after the events of yesterday.
I pulled myself from the bed and slipped on a black sports bra and a pair of workout shorts. Slipping my long hair into a pony tail and my shoes on my feet, I jogged downstairs.
Dad was nowhere in sight, but Grandma stood in the kitchen flipping something in a pan. The sticky sweet smell of pancakes filled my nose and I plopped down at the table.
“On time for once, I see.” Grandma turned and flashed me a cheeky grin.
I smirked at my Grandma and grabbed a water from the fridge, “Very funny, but yes I’ll be on time for once.”
“Good thing, I was afraid Alpha Asher would show up to torment you some more.” Grandma smirked, a strange flicker of knowledge gleaming in her eyes.
“Torment?” Maya mused, “Certainly didn’t feel like torment.”
“Hush.” I scolded her, pushing my strange attraction to Asher aside.
I turned my attention to the steaming pancakes she had set on a plate, ignoring the light blush that formed on my cheeks.
“Where’s Dad?” I frowned, glancing at the plate of pancakes she set in front of me.
Grandma shook her head and sat down, a cup of steaming tea clasped in her hands.
“Your Dad’s upset.” Grandma frowned, “He just needs some time.”
I sighed, “I didn’t want to upset him.”
“Oh he’s not upset with you, dear.” Grandma gave me a kind smile, “Just afraid and feeling quite helpless.”
“Did he tell you that himself?” I raised my eyebrow at her, knowing how Dad was.
Grandma chuckled, “Oh heavens no. You know your Dad is much too stubborn to admit that, but a mother knows.”
I snickered, “I wouldn’t say that’s how you know, Grandma. You’ve always been too smart for your own good.”
“Now that I can agree with.” Grandma chuckled.
I left the house with a full stomach, walking to the pack house with Breyona and Mason at my side.
The conversation was light, but not as carefree as I had hoped for. Death lingered in the air, the news of Katie’s murder had reached all ears.
“I’m surprised Alpha Asher didn’t keep this from anyone.” I shook my head.
I could only imagine how Katie’s poor parents were doing.
Breyona shook her head, her short hair shifting. “Alpha Asher isn’t like that.”
“I guess that’s a good thing.” Mason shrugged.
We arrived at the pack house along with the other trainee’s. Breyona and I threw our change of clothes in the lockers and headed out to the mat’s.
“You ready to get your butt kicked today, shorty?” Mason snickered, leaning down to whisper in my ear.
I scoffed and turned to him, my fists raised. “Bring it on. You still can’t take me.”
Mason chuckled, “I bet you I’ll get at least one good hit in.”
“Bring it on, Mason.” I poked my tongue out, jabbing one of my fists at his abdomen.
Alpha Asher’s powerful aura filled the room and I knew without looking that he had entered.
My eyes immediately found his own, and they darkened as they took my face in.
I was standing closely to Mason, our arms grazing each other as Mason looked down at me with an amused expression on his face.
“Alpha Asher looks irritable.” Mason whispered lowly in my ear and I fought to keep a smile from playing on my lips.
“He does, doesn’t he?” I giggled, keeping my voice low as well.
Asher looked irritable and irresistible. He was wearing a black tank top that highlighted the large muscles along his arms. His scars stood out proudly, giving him that sense of experience and danger. His chocolate hair was tousled as his darkened honey-coated eyes looked my way.
“Attention, everyone.” Alpha Asher snapped. “As you all know, one of our own was murdered last night. With times such as these, we must be more prepared than ever.”
A thick silence fell over the crowd as we took in Asher’s words. It sure didn’t sound like some one-off rogue attack.
“Now that we have one opening in the class, a change must be made.” My stomach dropped when Alpha Asher’s honey eyes stared directly at me, a grim sense of amusement flickering in his gaze.
“That doesn’t sound good.” Mason muttered under his breath.”
“Mason, partner up with Dominic.” Alpha Asher commanded, his voice lased with the authority that ran in his blood.
“This is gonna hurt.” Maya groaned. “This is what happens when you continue to piss the Alpha off.”
“Don’t act like you didn’t encourage it when his hand was in my pants.” I snapped at her, and thankfully she went silent.
“sh*t.” I hissed, grinding my teeth together as irritation flashed in my eyes.
“Sorry, shorty.” Mason whispered in my ear, trudging over to Dominic.
“Pair off and continue where we left off Friday.” Alpha Asher snapped.
I stayed rooted in place as Alpha Asher glided over to me. It took an incredible amount of self control to keep my gaze from wandering down his strong face to his chiseled body.
“I will stand in as your partner.” Alpha Asher’s honey colored gaze was emotionless as he stopped in front of me.
Blame it on me feeling cranky, or the fact that I was tired of getting picked on by Alpha Asher, but I had no control when the words tumbled from my lips.
“Why do you feel the need to pick on me?” I snapped, stomping past Alpha Asher and onto a free portion of the mat’s.
If I thought I had gotten away, I was sorely mistaken.
In an instant I was slammed onto the floor. The thin padding of the matt did nothing to stop the breath from being knocked from my lungs.
A dark eyed Alpha Asher stood over me, his gaze hard as he stared me down.
“Someone thinks highly of themselves.” Alpha Asher’s comment was hard, sending an embarrassed heat to flood through me.
I grunted and pulled myself from the ground, readying for Asher’s next attack.
“Oh you have no idea,” I hissed, grunting as his fist skimmed my waist, “how highly I think of myself.”
I managed to dodge one of his attacks, my anger fueling me to move faster.
Asher seemed to be taking his frustration out on me today as his hits stung a little more than usual.
We went on like this for half the class. Asher would lunge with speed and precision that stunned me, and I would scramble to dodge his vicious attacks.
“If you learned just a shred of obedience, things may just be easier for you.” Asher grunted, his forearm connecting with my chest and sending me plummeting to the ground.
I ground my teeth against the pain and sat up.
Training had ended and the others were beginning to file out of the locker room.
“Now where’s the fun in that.” I snapped, glaring up at Asher’s towering form.
Something flashed in Alpha Asher’s eyes, darkening them. “Is that how you acted with your old Alpha?”
His voice was deadly calm. I could feel the waves of power rolling off of him, but the urge to run away and submit never came.
Instead I glared up at him, daring him to say more.
That familiar tingle of excitement mixed with fear and irritation came over me.
“The old Alpha has nothing to do with this.” I snapped, pulling myself from the floor yet again.
“Is that so?” Alpha Asher snapped, “The two of you were extremely close, I hear.”
Asher’s gaze was hard as the words fell from his lips, and I felt white hot fury rush through me. Asher had no right to speak to me like that. Everyone else in his pack might allow it, but I wouldn’t. As an Alpha, my past was none of his business.
“f**k you.” I spat, storming past him and into the empty locker rooms.
I slammed my locker open in a huff. I blocked Maya from my mind, not wanting to hear anything anyone said at the moment. I was high on fury and was determined to ride it out.
I pulled the pony tail from my hair and stuffed my sweaty gym shirt in my bag.
I was too busy swimming in my anger to hear the locker room door open, or the lock clicking shut.