Timidly, Alice walked into the room carrying a tray with, well, tea. Riannon wanted to laugh out loud, making a mental note not to drink a drop of it. It was unlikely that the omega would try to poison her now; however, the thought of consuming anything that Alice’s hands touched repulsed the Alpha.
There was a possibility, of course, that in this lifetime, Alice wouldn’t be working for the foxes. She wasn’t a part of the main team even back in Riannon’s previous life. Riannon kind of hoped Alice had already been recruited. It would be really helpful to them if she were.
Although the chances were pretty high. Alice poured tea into a cup when Ria took a quick glance at her. Ever since she saw the past, she had wondered what tempted the omega to serve Roxy? Their pack was one of the best, and life inside of it was comfortable for everyone. On top of that, omegas were guaranteed protection at all times, and this alone was a truly priceless advantage in their cruel world. Maybe Alice had higher ambitions than just serving tea to higher-ranking wolves? Or maybe she needed money for reasons unknown to Ria. Either way, Roxy promised her something that corrupted her loyalty to the pack. It couldn’t be a coincidence that both she and Marcus had chosen her pack and not Brayden’s. Ria also remembered Alice had a chosen mate who was slightly higher in ranking than an omega and wondered if he also had taken part in their betrayal. However, she doubted that, considering she witnessed the girl and her extra-curricular activities with Marcus in the woods right before her death. Another proof true mates ruled over chosen ones.
They did their best to ignore her. Everybody took omegas for granted and although Riannon hated to admit that and tried to familiarise herself with everyone in her pack, at times like this, she was one of them. This was what the Fox King counted on. She had to play along. As did Gideon.
“Ria, you are crazy if you think I am letting you go with only six warriors,” the Lycan King growled dominantly. Ria caught herself thinking it sounded hot.
“We can’t take too many. If the foxes and bears see the warriors, Harper is as good as dead,” Riannon explained calmly as Alice placed a cup in front of her. “
Don’t worry, they are strategic places. If we hide them there, no one will know. It’s next to impossible to see them from the ground, so unless they come in a plane-“
“This is not what I am worried about, and you know it” he sighed, tapping his fingers on the map. Ria was impressed by his acting skills. Gideon really did not give out any drama school kid vibes. On the other hand, he was a politician just like her. They had to perform more than they liked to admit.
“We have talked about it,” Riannon assured, trying to sound firm and annoyed as Alice lingered in her placement of Riannon’s tea, grazing her eyes over the map. “Thank you,” Ria stated without looking at her as she spoke.
“There is only one problem,” her mate chuckled, “l don’t give a damn about Harper. I haven’t even laid eyes on her; however, you are my whole world. l am not risking my queen.”
“Of course you aren’t,” she countered, fidgeting with the cup in her hands, “That’s why we are working on this plan.”
“This plan needs more warriors. Lycan warriors.”
They stared at each other, which was the worst part because she wanted to laugh as it reminded her of a children’s game. Gideon didn’t flinch, which gave her strength to go on as well.
“Fine,” she groaned, “Bring your Lycans; however, I will bring my warriors too. So, we’ll bring six people each. I need to think of new areas to position them.”
“Whatever” Gideon smirked, “Lycans are the fastest shifters. You can position them further away to avoid them being noticed, and they can be depended on to be in place and on time at the first signal.”
“Good to know,” Ria said, putting the cup of tea aside as she pretended to look at the map.”Then I will place half of them here. The other half, I need to think about some more.”
They let Alice hear enough, not wanting it to be too unnatural. One thing was for sure, Castiel wasn’t an i***t.
He would realise something was off if he received complete details of their plan. That would be very lucky. even for the sly fox. tray.
Gideon refused the tea, and Alice stumbled with her
“That would be all. Thank you.” Riannon dismissed, smiling at the girl charmingly, and Alice even managed to blush a bit at the attention. Who could have thought this little creature had it in her to add aconite to people’s drinks?
“Do you think she bought it?” Ria almost jumped when she heard Gideon’s voice in her head.
Nevertheless, when the realisation settled, she smiled at him. It was the first time they mind-linked each other, which was now possible due to their mating process being completed. Mind-linking was convenient too, since no one would hear them.
“I hope so.” Riannon took another look at the map.
If she remembered at least a few of these places, then we’ll be able to take out their warriors one by one.”
“Speaking of warriors,” the Lycan looked at his watch and sighed, “We are almost late for another show.”
They waited for the warriors to get closer to begin their next performance.. When they heard the sounds of approaching steps as Ash made the team run, Riannon prepared for a fight. It was lucky that both of them now had enhanced hearing. The Lycan’s hearing was enhanced on account of him being a royal, and Ria’s hearing was from being a blessed wolf. She hadn’t yet had a chance to test what she could do as a blessed wolf, but Onyx assured her they were capable of many things. However, this wasn’t the time to show off.
Gideon held kick pads, and she hit them with enthusiasm, although not with her full force.
“I just can’t do this anymore!” she groaned loudly, knowing werewolf hearing would be able to pick up her speech.
“Of course you can,” her mate said calmly, playing his part. “You just need time. I think the glowing exhausted you. You need time to properly restore yourself.”
“We don’t have time!” she almost screamed, turning away from him in fake exasperation. “I need to be able to shift, and I can’t anymore! This is happening all over again!”
“Heard you,” Ash’s voice sounded in Riannon’s mind, “I am sure everyone who was with me did too.
“Take them away, so they assume you don’t want them to overhear us.” The Alpha’s lips curled into a satisfied smile. “Then give them some free time so our mole can deliver the information to his source.”
“Will do.” Ash didn’t ask any more questions, and in less than a second, they could hear the command he gave to the other wolves.
The seeds were planted, and all they had to do was wait and hope the seeds would grow.
Darkness fell like a blanket on the kingdom, and the time soon came to say goodbye. Maya no longer cried.
She did not cry when her brother’s body was brought to the centre of the clearing in the woods where all the funerals of their pack members were held. She did not cry when they placed him on the pyre made of wood and stuffed with dry twigs. It was a tradition to burn the bodies of werewolves as it was considered that only after the cremation would the wolf’s spirit be free and could start a new life in a new body while the human went to spend eternity with the Moon Goddess.
Dean was wrapped in white fabric soaked in inflammable liquid. It was hard for Maya to be unable to view his face. Maybe if she saw him, she would be able to shed another tear. But she couldn’t. It was as if she had used up her lifetime limit of tears in just two days.
Reid hugged her from her back, hands locked protectively around his mate. He felt her pain and shared it. All he wanted was for her to be happy. Grief gnawed and twisted at her heart. The loss of her brother almost broke her. All she thought about was her revenge.
The Lycan Beta was worried sick about her, and he could feel her body become rigid when a few higher-ranking warriors brought out the torches.
“Moon Goddess, accept his soul,” Maya whispered.
Reid, along with everyone else present, repeated the words right before their men touched the white fabric with the torches. The fire ignited momentarily, almost reaching the skies.
Nobody said a word. Werewolves did not like to talk. Instead, they heard a howl from one of the guards in the woods in his wolf form, who was now far away from them. Then another howl from the other side joined him.
Everyone who stood guarding the pack that night howled into the night air. This wasn’t a battle cry or a signal.It was a song of pain and loss that the pack shared tonight.
Maya watched her brother’s body burn as Riannon shifted closer to her and took her hand, entwining their fingers. She gave them a light squeeze of support, and her friend’s eyes glistened again. Still, not a single tear rolled down her cheeks.
Ash joined them on the other side and placed his hand. on his Beta’s shoulder but took it away quickly when Reid growled at him.
Gideon pulled Ria closer, whispering into her ear that everything was going to be okay. While they watched the wildfire dance before their eyes, she chose to believe him.
Finally, the flames were so high it seemed like it was illuminating the whole forest. Then it formed into the shape of a beautiful wolf’s head, which let out its last roar, joined by other members of the pack. The wolf dissipated into myriads of tiny sparks, and everyone knew the funeral ceremony was officially over. Dean’s wolf was to be reborn. Dean was probably already enjoying the company of the Moon Goddess, which was an honour on its own.
“Sometimes I think that you traded my life for his,” Maya confessed when the five of them were left standing in front of the fire.
“No.” Ria looked at her team. “Trust me, I didn’t. I don’t think anyone could survive the war I have seen in the past.”
“What do you mean?” Ash knitted his brows, clearly confused.
“l am going to explain everything,” Riannon sighed.
It was the best place as the sounds of crackling flames could cover all sounds for them.
The Alpha female very carefully chose her words as she retold her story from the very beginning, shocking Ash, who was the last person to find out about everything. However, he bounced back from the shock rather quickly.
“This actually explains a lot.” The Gamma attempted to stay rational. “You were so chill about Bray’s choices, and you seemed to know things. How did you-?”
“We’ll talk about it another time,” Ria stopped him,” Right now, I need you to know what we are going to do tomorrow. It’s of the utmost significance, and everyone should know what they have to do.”
She explained the plan and their roles in it, and to her relief, everyone seemed fine with her instructions.
Gideon remained quiet, not saying a word, but Ria knew she had his full support.
“Anyway,” Maya interrupted, deciding to be the first to leave. She did not want to see the omegas gather Dean’s ashes to later hand them to her. She had had enough of having to engage in conversations in her state. “I think we all need a good night’s rest before tomorrow.”
The following day, Riannon prepared for her first operation as an Alpha. It was both exciting and stressful.
However, she knew she was stepping out to do this surrounded by the best team ever assembled.
She wore a tight-fitted black leather jacket with notched lapels and zipped cuffs, pairing it with black jeans and patent leather boots.
“How do you manage to look like a general who will lead an army into battle and the most elegant woman I have ever seen?” Gideon asked as his gaze travelled over his mate.
“I will take that as a compliment,” his Queen cooed, looking at him with pride in her eyes before accepting the hand he offered, “Shall we?”
Brayden had arrived when they walked out the mansion and seeing his ex-wife, he caught his breath.
Did she always look like that? So dazzling, beautiful, and refined? He had always known she was a perfect Luna, but right now, the sight of her made his heart clench.
He had her by his side for years. When their crazy teen love turned into an adult partnership, he took her for granted. Flattered when people complimented him on his choice of wife, he relished the attention. Every drop and ounce of praise directed toward them as a perfect couple increased his ego. He loved the fact that he could rely on her. He loved her as well and thought and expected she would always be there. When Roxy appeared in his life, he thought she would forgive him this little guilty pleasure because, in the long run, it wouldn’t change anything between them.
With Roxy’s absence, he thought more and more about the turn of events in his life.
He spent the last day in agony trying to analyse everything that happened to him. Aware he had ruined his marriage, he still regretted it, especially right now.
Before, he strived to find consolation in the fact that he had found his true mate. However, she was gone, and he didn’t feel like his world was ending. He wanted her back for many reasons, but he wasn’t dying the way a true mate should. Questions popped in his head one by one.
Was Riannon right about her? lf she was, had he ruined his perfect marriage with his perfect Luna for nothing?
Ria and Gideon were holding hands, and Bray hated the sight of it. He hated the Lycan King with every ounce of him. When he saw how his Ri looked at the man, it broke his heart.
“Brayden,” Ria called, giving him a soft smile which did not mislead him. He knew her too well and was aware this was her business smile, not the smile which came from her heart. “You are early.”
“l am sorry.” This superficial conversation felt very strange as did knowing she did not belong to him anymore. “I didn’t want to waste any time.”
“It’s admirable how you want to save your fake mate,” Gideon chuckled, and the Alpha wolf inside Brayden strived to be loosened. Bray used his whole strength to ignore Gideon’s comment.
“It’s actually great you are here,” Ria affirmed, bringing attention back to herself, especially seeing how the two men glared at each other. “You do remember our deal, right? Today you do everything I say.”
“l am ready,” he nodded, “A deal is a deal.”
“Do you remember you owe me one?” his eX-wife queried, tilting her head a bit.
“Of course. I gave you my word,” he said and heard her snort in response. She definitely wasn’t his biggest fan any longer.
“Great.” Riannon forced another polite smile. “I will brief you on my plan in the car. You will be going with us.
“But, my people,” he tried to protest.
“They are not going with us,” she smirked, and his jaw twitched nervously. “Don’t worry, Brayden, you will be safe with us. I give you my word. Trust me, it’s worth more.”
He had to swallow his pride and follow Ria and her new mate, hating every moment of it. It helped ease his discomfort a bit that during the car ride Ria explained the details of her plan. He knew at once she kept some details away from her, although he couldn’t blame her for these choices.
By the time the car stopped, he had enough of seeing how happy his ex was with the Lycan King. They weren’t provoking him or doing anything inappropriate: however, the way their fingers touched randomly, yet in perfect synchronisation, becoming a beacon to each other in this close space, was evidence of the mate bond and love they shared with each other. This told him that his Ri was deeply in love with that man. Bray didn’t like it, nor could he accept their union no matter how hard he tried.
They all got out of the car and went to the -designated area. It was nothing special, just a little clearing in the woods. Riannon held the L, Lycan’s hand, and Bray cringed with having their relationship front and centre in his view.
“it’s time for you to go,” Brayden reminded Gideon, but in the next moment, he found a huge palm squeezing his neck and his legs, unable to touch the ground as the Lycan king growled loudly.