And my father… is glowering at my cowering mother.
“I… I…” she stutters, her skin as pale as my fur. “I didn’t know… I…”
“You didn’t know?” my father repeats, his tone holding an edge of fury that I’ve never heard from him before. “How could you not fucking know?” He points in my direction. “She’s a goddamn mutt!”
“I thought she was yours,” my mother whispers. “I… You have to believe me. It… He found me… I tried to fight… But I…”
Her statements are all garbled. Maybe because I can’t hear beyond the pounding in my ears. Maybe because she can’t seem to explain herself.
“I swear, I had no idea,” my father says, his words for Alpha Bryson. “I’ll take whatever punishment you require. This is not a reflection on our pack, it’s a reflection on me and my whore of a wife.”
“He raped me!” my mother shouts. “I tried to fight him! I… I thought… I prayed and hoped she was yours. I…”
“They are known for their savagery,” Canton mutters. “It’s possible.”
Alpha Crane snorts. “You’re naive and young and have a lot to learn.”
“I’m thirty,” Canton points out. “And I’ve faced those beasts in battle, father.”
“That doesn’t explain her not reporting it.” Alpha Crane utters the words with authority and a hint of disgust. “We wanted your best female, and this is what you give us? A mutt of unknown origin?” Alpha Crane spits on the ground near Alpha Bryson’s feet. “I’ve never been more insulted than I am right now.”
Alpha Bryson says nothing, his eyes wandering to me before settling on my trembling mother. “What will fix this?” he asks. “I can offer them as slaves.”
My heart stutters. What?
“You can kill them,” my father adds. “Do whatever you desire. I reject them both.”
My father’s hand resembles a whip on the wind, slamming across my mother’s cheek and sending her to the ground. “You will never speak my name again, you fucking whore.” He follows it up with a kick to her stomach, then another to her head, knocking her out cold on the field.
My wolf reacts with a snarl, furious at his treatment of his mate.
Mates are meant to be revered and cherished and protected.
His eyes find mine, the fury in those dark orbs unlike any I’ve ever seen. He takes a step toward me, but Alpha Bryson holds him back with a palm to his chest. “This isn’t your punishment to give, Gaf.”
“No, it belongs to my son. He’s the one most insulted here. He’s the one you’ve duped with an unqualified mate. He will choose their fates.” Alpha Crane looks to Canton. “The decision is yours.”
I try to stand, but my legs are awkward and refuse to hold my weight.
This… this has to be a nightmare.
How can I have white fur?
My mother was raped?
By… by a Black Mountain wolf?
My heart is pounding so hard in my chest that I don’t hear Canton’s approach. But I smell him, the scent of cedar and man calling to my wolf on a base level.
Mate, she whispers to me, purring in approval.
But the feeling is not reciprocated.
I can see the hatred in his eyes, the fury at having this whole arrangement ruined by my white coat.
Except, I’m still me.
I’m still the wolf my parents raised me to be.
I… I just have white fur.
Maybe he’ll demand I never shift again?
A laughable suggestion. Because our children will still be tainted by my mixed heritage.
He crouches before me, his striking blue eyes glittering beneath the moonlight. I try to bow my head, but my wolf refuses. She wants to challenge him; to challenge them all.
She refuses to accept whatever fate he chooses for her. She’s too strong to bow.
Yet she can’t even stand.
I scream at her to lower her eyes.
And Canton starts to glare. “You dare challenge me, little wolf?”
No! I want to scream, but I can’t. I can’t speak. I can’t move. My wolf is in control now. I’ve denied her for so many years that she’s absolutely refusing to let me run the show now.
And to my absolute horror, my wolf growls back.
“You’re just proving to me and all my men that you can’t be tamed,” he tells me, his voice almost sad as he shakes his head. “A shame. I could have added you to my harem.” He stands fully, his shoulders squaring in a way that makes my wolf snarl.
She wants to rip him apart.
Because she’s rejecting him.
The realization hits me square in the chest, shocking me to silence.
And allowing my wolf to gain that much control.
I’m on my paws now, my legs stretching as she takes in the field of aggressive males. They smell wrong. Feral. Unacceptable.
She wants to shred them all to pieces.
Especially the one I’ve called father all my life.
She’s furious at him for hurting our mother. Seeing her dark hair sprawled across the ground, her eyes closed, her lips bleeding from my father’s slap, has my wolf taking a bold step forward.
Canton growls, this time menacingly. “Do not move,” he tells my wolf, his voice holding a power similar to his father.
My animal snarls in response, not bending to his will.
“This”—Alpha Crane points at me—“this is why we fight the Black Mountain pack. They don’t understand hierarchy because their wolves are feral creatures without rules. They fuck and kill and do not obey.”
My wolf snorts as though she can understand his words.
She disagrees wholeheartedly, her disrespect having nothing to do with a lack of understanding and everything to do with her refusal to bow to him as her Alpha.
I don’t understand the inclination or where it comes from, but I can’t deny the sensation of rightness thrumming through my veins.
I don’t belong here, I realize. I never have.
That’s why my mother always lectured me on when to display my backbone. Other girls didn’t need that lesson, but I did. Because I’ve always been stronger. I’ve always questioned our methods.
While all the other females merely accepted them as law.
And my father… is glowering at my cowering mother.