She scanned the room desperately looking for that one person who, when their eyes met, wás the hardest person to see and not give away her true emotions. Because Brayden was right next to her and watched her every move. He wrapped his hand possessively around her waist and pulled her closer.
Gideon wanted to kill him. The man didn’t even realise how thin the ice was that he walked upon. If Brayden gave him the smallest of reasons to be offended, he would snap his neck in less than a second and never regret it.
Looking into Riannon’s blue eyes, he knew this was neither the place nor the time. What he really wanted was to have his hands on her, to have her close to him. Fortunately, all he had to do now was wait for a little longer.
Without so much as a nod or wave, he turned away and left the foyer, walking straight to the room where the summit was to be held. Reid and a few guards followed him closely behind.
Brayden released his grip on her as soon as the Lycan King had departed. Riannon would have scoffed if she could, but she knew it could cost her.
Everything in due time.
“Bray!” She heard a familiar sweet voice and couldn’t believe it.
Before she could turn her head, Roxy jumped into her husband’s arms, causing him to release his hold on Ria. The foyer was full of Alphas, their Betas and Gammas, and the Lunas who arrived with their spouses. They also brought their guards with them as was appropriate for these events. All of them watched the show Roxy put on.
Riannon tried not to give them a reaction. She had to remember that soon enough, this humiliation would be over.
“What are you doing here?” Brayden asked, seeming as startled as she was, “You are not supposed-“
“I came here to support you, of course,” the redhead replied, smiling innocently. “Your sister, Harper, drove me here. She said that all mates come here to support their Alphas.”
“How sweet of her” Ria commented, letting out a sarcastic laugh.
“Did I do something wrong?” Roxy looked at him with big eyes, which were already filling up with tears. She probably drank more than two I****s of water per day. Her tear flow was limitless.
Brayden did not know what to say. This whole situation was inconvenient and awkward. He had learned his lesson at the Alpha Ball, which did not go the way he had planned. However, if Roxanne made a scene here right now by crying or dropping to her knees to beg forgiveness, it would be too embarrassing. He couldn’t afford that.
“of course not.” He took his mate’s shoulders, rubbing them gently, but still distanced her from himself, “You just surprised me. That’s all. Where is Harper?”
He wanted to make his sister babysit since she was the one to cause this mess.
“She drove away.” Roxy fluttered her eyelashes innocently. “She said she was going shopping and that you can take me home when you are done”
“My dear” he replied, coughing uncomfortably while glancing at his wife, “I can’t. I am too busy.”
“We have a few hours before we start,” Riannon offered, “Go show her around. I am sure it’s her first time at a place like this.”
“It is!” Roxanne took his hands in hers. You really go with me now?”
“What will you be doing?” Brayden looked at his wife suspiciously, but she pointed toward the entrance at the restaurant on her right, which happened to be in the opposite direction of where Gideon walked.
“l am going to say hi to the other Lunas. We usually gather there. Some of them helped me persuade their husbands, and I need to thank them,
” Riannon responded indifferently. She then gave Brayden a look, mind-linking him for the first time in a while, ” Make sure she behaves and do not let her run around the place embarrassing our pack.
She represents us now.”
He wanted to reply, but she cut him off by turning on her heels and walking toward the restaurant. It worked out quite well for her that they had the same goal.
Roxy appeared and would keep him busy until they started. If Roxy had a task from whoever worked with her, it would probably be to split her and Brayden up in order to weaken their pack. For once,
“Riannon,” her friend Mariyah greeted. Rising up as soon as she saw Ria, Mariyah waved at her to join their group. A rather large one with at least a dozen women sitting at a big round table with another dozen standing around them. They quietened when they saw her, and she felt the slight shift in the air that somehow tonight was different tonight.
“Ladies,” Ria greeted as she flashed her pearly whites at them, not knowing what to expect. It could go either way. Some of them were friends.
Some were frenemies. Some simply enemies. For one reason or another.
“You’ve been busy!” Mariyah chuckled.
“And you look gorgeous too,” Ada, one of her frenemies, added. Surprisingly, this time she sounded sincere.
“Thanks,” Riannon responded, smiling modestly.
“We heard about your project,” said Luna Helena. She was one of the oldest women present and was once her mother’s friend. “It’s very impressive. We want you to know that we all stand with you on this one.”
“It was about time for such changes,” someone chimed in at the back.
“Times have changed, and so must our laws,”
Ada added, taking a sip from her glass, “I told my husband that if he doesn’t support this project with his vote, he won’t get any more l of this.”
She pointed at her perfect body in a tight yet elegant red dress.
This was probably the friendliest conversation they had ever had. Lunas started talking, telling her their stories of how they learned about her project and how much it meant to them. Most of them were mated to their husbands and did not have problems with them. However, they had daughters, sisters and nieces to worry about.
Riannon felt a bit guilty. They praised her too much, while she thought she did all this for selfish reasons.
In her past life, she had thought about it too.
However, after she experienced first-hand what it was like to be dumped by a powerful man who owned everything they previously shared prior, she especially wanted to make a move on her new law.
However, she decided not to think about that.
That wasn’t important now. She added many clauses to this law with the thought and concern of anything that could possibly negatively affect a woman in a man’s world. She was, she realised, helping them all. She chose to hold her head up high and concentrate on that part.
They spent the next half an hour talking, but soon she heard a loud announcement. Recognising Reid’s voice, she knew it was time to head back.
“The Alpha Summit is about to start. Please, come and take your place if you are taking part” he repeated the words over and over.
So, Ria offered her goodbyes to her friends and left, surprised they were starting earlier than scheduled.
“Wait,” one young girl called out and caught up with her. Riannon looked at her questioningly.
They didn’t know each other that well, as the girl had just recently received her title. However, she heard some stories about her and her mate, who wasn’t the best of Alphas. It did not escape Ria’s eyes that she was wearing a turtleneck dress and too much make-up, probably covering her many bruises.
“Yes?” She gave the girl a sympathetic smile.
The young woman pulled her into a tight hug.
“Thank you. If it works, I will be free,” she whispered and then stepped away. Without add ing anything else, returned to the Lunas’ table.
Riannon met Brayden back in the foyer, and he was happy to see she was where she promised she would be. Roxy was not around, meaning that Ash was probably the one taking care of her.
They walked into the Summit conference room together, and, for the first time ever, Ria saw what everything really looked like. A long glassy table was now filled with dozens of Alphas. Gideon sat at the head of the table, and Bray grunted when he noticed this.
Just for a second, Riannon allowed herself to look at her mate. She needed to see the support in his eyes; she needed to feel it. He nodded at her just like he did with everybody else, but his eyes told a different story, and she knew it.
Everyone found their seats. She and Brayden stood in the same place.
“What is wrong?” she asked him.
The King took my seat,” her husband replied, and she shot her brows up in confusion.
“That’s actually my seat,” Gideon countered in a relaxed tone, leaning over his chair, which was larger than everybody else’s. “Thanks for warming it up for me.”
“Here are a few empty seats,” one of Brayden’s friends offered, gesturing for them to join their group. He looked nervous, and Riannon did not like his facial expression. Something was off.
“Why are there so many empty seats?” She attempted to distract her husband.
“Sorry, Bray, I need to tell you something urgent” his Alpha friend interrupted, bending to whisper something in Brayden’s ear. Now, this was a problem. A real one. He then started showing him something in the folder containing her law project.
“That’s because foxes and werebears are not in attendance. The empty seats belong to them,” a woman with sleek black hair next to her purred. Ria looked at her with interest. She was the only other woman in the room today, and that made her the Alpha of one of the werecat packs.
“I am Ramina Knight, by the way, the-” the woman introduced herself. They had never met before because werecats were the recent addition to their union.
“I know very well who you are,” Ria stated, smiling. She wanted to tell the woman how much she admired her for leading her pack, but Brayden grabbed her hand under the table and squeezed it almost painfully.
“Bray, not now!” Riannon said playfully yet loud enough to draw the attention of everyone in the room, “The Summit is about to start.”
He took his hands off her, and she immediately felt him attempt to mind-link her. She refused to let him in.
“That’s right,” Gideon growled, hardly able to hold himself back from tearing the werewolf to pieces for the scene, “Let’s start. We have a few important matters to decide today.”
“But, my King.” someone interjected, It’s supposed to be at least one hour before we start.
Why are we in such a rush?”
“I have places to be” Gideon cut him off, “Or can you only work at designated hours of the day?
No? Then I don’t see the problem since everyone is present. Let’s begin.”
He gestured at Reid, who sat beside him, and the Beta stood up.
“As you are all probably already aware, our main problem at the moment is the uprising of foxes and werebears in the East.” He switched on the big screen behind Gideon’s back with a map where the locations of every pack of their union were displayed.
“You mean your main problem,” one of the Alphas said with a smirk, “They are attacking your borders, not ours.”
“What do you think will happen after they are done with us?” Reid asked him.
“lsn’t the whole point of being mighty lycans is that no one can destroy you?” someone chuckled, and a few others joined in.
“The point is they would not be able to destroy us,” Gideon retorted, sighing as if he was already tired of all this, “When they give up on that idea, they will start looking at your packs and your lands.
At least six of you have borders with them, if I remember correctly. The question is, will we come to your rescue if you don’t fulfil your obligations to the lycans now.”
To that, no one had anything to say. Shifter wars were always brutal. Strong men and women were dying, and their population was decreasing.
Behind their Union were, other lands. More werewolves, another Lycan Kingdom and many other creatures. None of them was friendly. If the lycans grew any weaker, everyone would suffer. To some extent, they were all trapped, working together for the greater good of their people.
“Besides that,” Ramina started speaking, “I think the foxes and the werebears mostly have problems with wolves in general. Thanks to your domination in the shifters’ world.”
“How would you know that?” Zack Morgan asked.
“Because they approached me to join them,” the woman sneered, “But werecats have no interest in ruining our comfortable life with lycans as our allies just to stroke our ego. We do not care about that. It has been peaceful since the lycans took us under their wing. We are not ready to lose that.”
Those present inclined their heads toward her, processing her words.
“We would, of course, fulfil all our obligations according to our treaty, King Gideon,” one of the Alphas stated. He was one of Riannon’s father’s old friends.
The room buzzed as they discussed the extent werewolves would be involved. It took quite some time, and Ria knew that this meeting wouldn’t be the end of the discussion this topic warranted. Her mate would have much more work cut out for him with all the alphas and their preferences and opinions.
“Anyway,” he interjected as he cleared his throat when they seemed at a good place to stop with that topic, “The next matter we need to look at today is the new Women’s Rights law project by Luna Riannon Thorn. I guess you have all read it and have your opinion ready for voting.”
“I have a few adjustments to make,” Brayden raised his hand, throwing a folder in Gideon’s direction.
He was obviously aware of what Riannon had cleverly hidden in plain sight, and Riannon tapped her shoe nervously under the table.
“There are procedures for that,” Gideon pushed the folder back to him, “You can propose adjustments at the next Summit. Right now, we are voting for this version of the new law since everybody is familiar with that.”
The tension in the room was palpable.
“Shouldn’t we at least discuss it first?”
Brayden gritted through his teeth.
“Why?” Alpha Zack Morgan interrupted him,
We talked about it just yesterday. You were fully behind it. You assured me and others that everything in that folder was fine since you were the one who did most of the work. l personally believed in your project since you were involved. I did not find anything wrong within its pages. What seems to be the problem there? Are you going back on your word?”
It was a masterful trap, and Riannon knew she would be thanking the Alpha for this later. Now Brayden had no choice.
“Of course not,” her husband offered, sounding nervous for the first time in his life, “It’s just that it could be even better-“
“As King Gideon already mentioned, there is always a next time for minor changes,” Zack responded innocently, “You’ve done a good job here, Alpha Thorn.”
“Good job indeed,” Gideon smirked, “So, how about we vote to save ourselves some time? I am sure real men want their Wives, sisters, and daughters to be treated fairly. Reid, make sure the count is visible on the board.”
The Beta nodded, and they saw two squares on the screen. One for those in favour of the hew law, and the other one was for those against it.
“I will begin,” the Lycan King announced, “I vote for the approval of the law.”
Immediately, the count on the screen changed to 1-0.
The next person to vote was Alpha Dixon, Luna Ada’s husband. He voted in their favour and seemed very eager to do so. He probably wanted access to that gorgeous body his wife had on offer, after all.
Riannon swallowed as, one by one, alphas voiced their opinions through their votes. The numbers were changing, and it looked like the difference in numbers would be minimal. Most of Brayden’s pals voted against it. But, surprisingly, there were a few who supported the law.
Finally, all the votes were cast. Ria was afraid to even look at the board.
“So, we have 39 affirmative votes to 35 negative votes. The law is hereby accepted by the Alpha Summit and is effective immediately” Gideon announced, and only then did she open her eyes to look at him. He was smiling.
It was done.