An alpha doesn’t submit. Doesn’t show his weakness. He also doesn’t challenge someone unless he means it. I know from our brief meeting that he deserves my respect. I need to get the fuck out of here before I do something stupid.
Like challenge him? I don’t know. Just don’t fucking know.
Instead of making eye contact with the delicious-smelling little female at Tyson’s side, delicious other than the fact she smells of him, I stare at the ground. I have no choice. It says nothing good when a man won’t look another in the eyes, especially not when we’re as connected as Tyson Savage and I are, but there’s no alternative. If I make eye contact again, something bad happens. Something I can’t undo.
I back away and head for the back door. I need air. I need sky. I need to get away from the tension in the space. Tension that’s all down to me.
Linc and Joel follow me.
“Need booze. Bring me a fuckin’ bottle,” I mutter.
Joel doubles back.
I lean against the wall beside the back entrance of the hall, a converted barn. A group of half a dozen teenagers mull around beside a new sports car belonging to Evander Creed, Jase’s nephew. Evander just turned eighteen. Kid is alpha and a little shithead who hasn’t got the brain capacity for the strength and urges he’s developing ahead of schedule. He’s shooting his mouth off at a female of his age who has angry tears in her eyes. Linc walks in their direction.
“Here,” Joel says, uncapping and passing me the bottle of Maker’s Mark.
I tilt it back and swallow a healthy swig. Or not so healthy.
“Well?” he asks.
I shake my head. “Can’t you tell?”
“Worse,” he states. He can tell.
I take another mouthful.
Lincoln is back and the crowd of teens are moving away.
Linc’s hand lands on my shoulder. “We’ll figure this out, brother.”
I take another swig.
The sourness is rising in me. Sourness. Entitlement. Irritation. Irrational irritation. If she were supposed to be mine, she wouldn’t be his. I’ve lent a hand on cases for other packs where there’s confusion over a mating. Where someone tries to claim someone that’s not supposed to be theirs. Where someone rejects someone that’s supposed to be theirs. But this doesn’t happen with pack alphas unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as that the alpha is ill. This shit doesn’t happen with the Arcana Falls council alphas.
This shit doesn’t happen to me.
Unless it’s all down to witchcraft, which it has to be. Because the alternative is that there’s something wrong with me, something wrong with our pack – a sign we shouldn’t be complete, that we were better off as we were. But were we? I don’t want to believe that.
Alphas mate their one and only by marking with their teeth, by taking in their woman’s blood through that bite, and by releasing a knot inside her, locking her to himself while they mate. You can’t knot inside someone who isn’t yours. An alpha can’t knot anyone but their mate unless their mate is dead and even then it happens rarely. Knots are meant for mates. The way she carries his scent, he’s not only taken her he’s absolutely knotted her. He owns her and she him.
So, what the fuck is wrong with me?
“The fact that I lost time, the fact that I got lost at all in my own fucking village – there has to be witchcraft at play here,” I tell Joel.
“I agree. The question is why?” he asks.
The moon was too big. The stars were wrong. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.
There have traditionally been witches in Drowsy Hollow. Or there were. They had a hefty population here at one time that dwindled. They were heavily involved in helping us form our pack. This entire area holds a lot of history and magic. Our council has no relationships with witches. The last council told us when they handed things off to us that there hasn’t been a need in years, decades. It has to be witches. If it isn’t… I’m damaged.
Last year, we were informed that the last local elder witch died, leaving the area without any witches for the first time in generations. But she kept to herself. Our retired council members told us if the need arose, we would have no problem reaching the coven still assigned to this territory.
Right when she died, we were concerned though, because Graydon Blackwood, Greyson’s father and sixth alpha of the previous council, advised that there were murmurs about the evil presence around Drowsy Hollow and the legend was connected to that witch. A year after her death, the evil got loose, and her relatives had to deal with it. And we surmised it was related to the serial killer murder spree that happened in The Hollow. We were on standby to intervene, but they dealt swiftly and Graydon said they didn’t need our help.