Riannon knew that she could never forget that face! She had recognised him at once. The man who accused Maya of being a traitor. The man she interrogated personally for many hours. The man even Ash, who was by far one of the cruelest interrogators she knew, questioned and yet never cracked.
She remembered his perfect face being broken in so many places, yet he kept saying the same story over and over again. He was the one to blame for what happened to Maya back in the past.
He helped set her up.
Riannon had always known this man was somehow connected to Roxy. She knew it. This gut feeling inside confirmed for her, one that hadn’t failed her yet, that she was right.
He watched her walk into the barn with Ash by her side, and she could swear that she saw a vague smile in the corner of his lips. His hands were chained and lifted up above his head, He was shirtless, revealing perfect muscles.
A warrior. This was what he claimed to be. His long brown hair reached his shoulders and was not bloody. Meaning no one had tried to beat the truth out of him. Yet.
“Ri,” Brayden called, storming her way, but soon stopped when she gave him a death stare.
“What is going on here?” she demanded, walking past him to stand before the man who had resurrected from her nightmare. Maya was in the room and aware of Ria’s supernatural history, and they exchanged knowing glances. No words were needed. Riannon tried her best to signal her friend that everything would be fine. Whatever it took, she would make sure that nothing happened to her in this lifetime. She wasn’t going to lose her again.
Ria noticed a few warriors and their Gamma in the room as well. They all looked concerned because Maya was everyone’s favourite, and some- of them were in pursuit of her in hopes of wooing her to become their chosen mate.
At least, she could hope for their support if the need arose.
“Nice to see you, Ri” Brayden offered as he moved to stand beside her. Their captive watched her, his grey eyes twinkling with amusement at the scene unfolding before him. Brayden continued, “I missed-“
“l asked, what is going on here?” she demanded, not bothering to look at him.
“Unfortunately, our Maya is compromised,” her husband finally answered, sighing as if he was sad. He wasn’t. She knew that he wasn’t. He did not care. Maya wasn’t his friend. If anything, they were NOT each other’s biggest fans, although there was never an open confrontation.
“Nonsense,” she interrupted him.
“Luna,” Roxy dared to speak up in her presence, “We found out that Maya-“
“Shut up!” Riannon quietly and calmly commanded, yet loud enough for everyone to hear, “
You may be my husband’s mate, but that’s where your role ends. What are you doing here? This is something only higher-ranked wolves should deal with, and as far as I can remember, you are still an omega. Unless something has changed in the few days that I’ve been absent.”
Everyone looked at her. She lifted her chin up higher.
“I understand that you are upset, Riannon,”
Brayden said, finally choosing not to use her nickname, “But Roxy… Roxanne here was vital for the investigation.”
“I have no doubt!” Ria accused, letting out a laugh that was stone-cold. “Helpful little omega, isn’t she? How did all this begin again?”
I-” Roxy started to form tears in her eyes, the way she usually did. Her lips trembled.
“There, there,” Ria mocked, moving toward her and patting her shoulder, “You were so brave and full of yourself just three seconds ago. I am sure you can handle an adult conversation without bursting into tears for once if you try really hard.”
Again, no one spoke a word. They all looked at Ria, stunned.
“Maybe you need emotional support?”
Riannon went on, “We can do that too! Luckily, your mate is right here! Come on, Bray, give her a hug.
The girl needs some strength! For the sake of her wolf and all.”
Her husband clenched his lips in a thin tight line. Before he could form a reply, Roxy spoke.
“All I did was notice she had your bracelet under her shirt when you left. I didn’t think much of it, but later I followed her and saw her walking into your room. She went straight to your jewellery box and took something else from it.”
“Right,” Riannon affirmed as she nodded a few times as if thinking over what Roxanne disclosed,” And to that, I have a very important question.”
She paused and walked back to the chained man because she needed to see his reaction as well as everyone else’s.
“Which bracelet?” she asked, noticing how the man’s eyebrows twitched at her words. A second of movement. Nothing more. Not enough for anyone else to notice. However, she knew he was surprised.
“Excuse me?” Roxy seemed startled as well.
Her reaction did not come as a shock to Ria.
“Which bracelet did you see on Maya?” She slowly repeated the question as if she was talking to a stupid child.
“Erm.. A diamond one,” Roxy stuttered.
“There are many diamond bracelets in the world,” Ria scoffed, “You were sure that Maya had mine on. You must remember the details well to know it was stolen from me. It must be one of my more memorable ones, right?”
“It was the one with an emerald in it” the omega said quietly, hugging herself and lowering her head as if the pressure was too much for her.
“Oh, really?” Riannon sneered, “How would you recognise that bracelet if I have never worn it in the few days that you have stayed here?”
This time Ria heard a few gasps from the people around them.
“-“Roxy was lost for words. Albeit for just one second. Then she looked straight into the Luna’s eyes and said, “l looked at your pictures in the magazines and saw that one.”
“Did you see others?” Ria countered, not wanting to lose the momentum she had gained in her questioning, “Can you describe them? You seem to have quite an eye for jewellery if you remembered it precisely from just one picture.”
“-” the omega looked at her mate, and Brayden stepped in at once.
“Riannon, enough! It’s not about the bracelet anymore!” He practically growled at her.
“On the contrary.” She turned to look at him:”
The bracelet is the most important part here! It was enough for you to suddenly search my best friend’s room! Like I couldn’t have given her the damn thing!
You know I would let Maya have anything she wanted from my jewellery box! Not that she would want anything! So, why did you order that search?”
“Because I wanted to get to the bottom of this!
” He snapped, ” I am happy that I did! That phone is the main issue right now, Ri! Not the bracelet!”
“How convenient!” She narrowed her eyes at him.
“The phone unlocked with her fingerprint!” he snarled.
“Big deal!” she scoffed, “Like those are hard to get nowadays! All you need is a glass that the person used with their fingerprint on it!”
“You haven’t seen what’s inside!” Brayden was breathing heavily now. He did not like to be contradicted.
“Were there pictures of her with our enemies?”she asked, rolling her eyes, “Videos maybe? Texts are not proof enough, Bray!”
“They are if they lead us to capturing the intruder!” her husband spat the words out in frustration, “It’s too much of a coincidence!”
“This part I agree with!” Ria folded her hands across her chest and came up closer to the man with grey eyes, “It is too much of a coincidence that these issues were resolved so easily. Maya, who is not an i**t, by the way, stole my jewellery and wore it in front of everyone while at the same time kept this very important phone in her room with every message that could incriminate her by describing each of her betrayals and future plans to betray us in plain view. I mean, come on! I have known Maya since we were children. She is not that dumb! She would at least have used a code!”
“Yet, she didn’t!” Brayden barked, his anger was now properly stirred, “You should listen to what this man has to say before you continue to embarrass yourself by protecting a traitor.”
“She is not guilty unless proven otherwise,” Riannon snapped, “I am not convinced at all.
However, you are correct. Let’s listen to this very important witness who you managed to acquire at the most convenient time.”
She had already done this in the past. She had interrogated this prisoner and knew what did not work. She didn’t break him, and neither did anyoneelse. He was good. Very good. Which meant that he was dangerous.
She had another trick up her sleeve and wanted to try another approach. Something that he wouldn’t expect.
She moved much closer toward him, regretting he was much taller than her. Their difference in height did not give her the desired effect she was going for, however, she had to work with what she had.
slowly, she traced her fingers down the length of his face, all the way to his chin, cupping it gently.
He did not tear his eyes off her.
“You are very beautiful,” she stated His lips parted ever so slightly.
“Th-thank you, Luna,” he replied in a hoarse voice, “I-“
“Don’t thank me.” She took her hand off him, happy to throw him off course even if just a little bit,
“It’s just a fact. Not a compliment.”
“Riannon, what is the point of this?” Brayden snapped, losing his patience.
“No point, really” she responded, shrugging her shoulders, “Just stating the obvious. He is very handsome. That’s all.”
She could hear the sound of her husband’s teeth gritting.
“All right, Handsome, tell us everything. Who are you? Why are you here? What is your connection to Maya?” Without flinching, she looked him straight in the eye.
He had impressed her in her past life, but right now, he was even more impressive. His game was on point.
“What pack are you from?” she asked, then immediately answered in unison with him.
“Crimson Moon. “
He looked at her with newfound surprise.
“They caught you on the border. What were you doing there?” She gave him a soft smile while playing with a loose strand of her hair.
“Waiting for Maya,” she answered with him.
She had remembered every line he used in her past interrogation of him. She never forgot a single one since he hadn’t given her anything new, regardless of how many times she asked. A few days later, he escaped, never to be seen again.
“Continue,” she encouraged, waving for him to go on.
“She was supposed to meet me under the willow tree and give me information-” he stopped talking when, yet again, she simultaneously matched him word for word in his response.
“Couldn’t she just text it to you?” Riannon scoffed, “You didn’t seem to have any problem communicating through texts, right? Why meet up?”
“She said that it wasn’t a phone conversation,” they again said in unison. Maya snorted loudly.
“Riannon, what is going on?” Brayden stepped closer to her, mixed emotions evident on his face.
“Just an interrogation,” she replied, angling her head to look at him, “Why? Don’t you think that his replies are so natural and flow quite nicely?
“How do you know what he is going to say?” her husband asked.
“I have my sources, Brayden,” She chose to lie this time because she couldn’t possibly explain how she knew all that. She did know he would buy her reason. “They told me this would happen.”
She turned to the man with grey eyes and asked, “What is your name?”
“Axel,” he said. She was glad she hadn’t tried to answer along with him this time round. The name he introduced himself as in her past life was Everett. He had caught up with her game very quickly. She knew she would hardly get anything out of him moving forward. Not even through torture.
Knowing this, she couldn’t help but try one more trick. Riannon leaned toward him and whispered into his ear.
“Nice try, Everett.”
His face was void of emotions, however, his lips twitched a tiny bit, as if he had a momentary need to smirk.
“Anyway,'” she continued, now facing her husband, “I don’t see any substantial evidence to accuse Maya. I see a bunch of badly thrown together accusations and two very unreliable witnesses. I have more questions for them, to be honest.”
She raised her brow at Roxy, who immediately started visibly trembling, probably playing the victim again.
“Fine, you are right,” the Alpha agreed, “Maya is almost family. I wouldn’t have punished her severely anyway. We will send her to the border since her loyalty has been compromised. It will be just for a year or two.”
“No,” Riannon disagreed firmly. She knew she couldn’t lose that argument.
“Ri” Brayden coaxed, taking her arm from above her elbow and pulling her closer. “Be reasonable now. This is the best decision. She’ll be fine.”
“l said no!” the Luna furrowed her brows.”
Maya will stay here by my side at all times! She is the only one I trust, and this will never change!”
“Ri!” Brayden exploded. This time he shook her roughly. Ria lost her footing and almost fell from the impact, but Maya and Ash dashed to her side, catching her just in time.
“Are you out of your mind?” Maya growled angrily. She was surprisingly calm prior to this, but her nerves gave in to fury.
She pushed her Alpha, and in less than a second, he was back at her side, tightly grabbing at her throat.
“Brayden!” Riannon screamed, “Let her go!
“I will fvcking snap her neck for this!” he snarled in contempt. Ria poised, ready to attack him herself. No matter what it cost her. Her one and only friend was more important than her plan.
A loud menacing growl pierced through the chaos, interrupting them all.
“Take your hands off my MATE!”