Home > On the Prowl (Alpha & Omega 0.5)(11)

On the Prowl (Alpha & Omega 0.5)(11)
Author: admin

"Are you ready?" he asked her.

She whined as she got to her feet, her claws making small holes in the leather seat. She shook herself once, as if she'd been wet, then bobbed her head once.

He didn't see anyone watching them from the windows, but there was a small security camera cleverly tucked into a bit of the gingerbread woodwork on the porch. He got out of the SUV, making sure that he didn't show any sign of the pain he was in.

He'd checked in the bathroom of Anna's house and he didn't think the wound would slow him appreciably now that the worst of the silver poisoning had passed. He'd considered acting more hurt than he was  -  and he might have if he'd been sure that it was Leo who was responsible for all the dead. Acting wounded might lead Leo to attack him  -  and Charles had no intention of killing Leo until he knew just exactly what had been going on.

He held the SUV door open until Anna hopped out, then closed it and walked with her to the house. He didn't bother knocking on the door; this wasn't a friendly visit.

Inside, the house had changed a lot. Dark paneling had been bleached light and electric lights replaced the old gas chandeliers. Anna walked beside him, but he didn't need her guidance to find the formal parlor because that was the only room with people in it.

Everything else in the house might have changed, but they had left Willie's pride and joy: the huge hand-carved granite fireplace still dominated the parlor. Isabelle, who liked to be the center of attention, was perched on the polished cherry mantel. Leo was positioned squarely in front of her. Justin stood on his left, Boyd on his right. The other three men Charles had allowed him were seated in dainty, Victorian-era chairs. All of them except for Leo himself were dressed in dark, pin-striped suits. Leo wore nothing but a pair of black slacks, revealing that he was tanned and fit.

The effect of their united threat was somewhat mitigated by the pinkish-purple of the upholstery and walls  -  and by Isabelle, who was dressed in jeans and a half shirt of the same color.

Charles took two steps into the room and stopped. Anna pressed against his legs, not hard enough to unbalance him, just enough to remind him that she was there.

No one spoke, because it was for him to break the silence first. He took a deep breath into his lungs and held it, waiting for what his senses could tell him. He had gotten more from his mother than his skin and features, more than the ability to change faster than the other werewolves. She had given him the ability to see. Not with his eyes, but with his whole spirit.

And there was something sick in Leo's pack; he could feel the wrongness of it.

He looked into Leo's clear, sky-blue eyes and saw nothing that he hadn't seen before. No hint of madness. Not him, then, but someone in his pack.

He looked at the three wolves he had not met  -  and he saw what Anna had meant about their looks. Leo was not unhandsome in his own Danish Viking sort of way, but he was a warrior and he looked like a warrior. Boyd had a long blade of a nose and the military cut of his hair made his ears appear to stick out even farther than they really did.

All the wolves Charles didn't know looked like the sort of men who modeled tuxedos at a rental shop. Thin and edgy, with no real flesh to mar the lines of a jacket. Despite differences in coloring, there was a certain sameness about them. Isabelle pulled her bare feet onto the mantel with the rest of her and heaved a big sigh.

He ignored her impatience because she wasn't important just now  -  Leo was.

Charles met the Alpha's eyes and said, "The Marrok has sent me here to ask you why you sold your child into bondage."

Clearly, it wasn't the question Leo had expected. Isabelle had thought it was Anna, and Charles hadn't disabused her of the notion. They would deal with Anna, too, but his father's question was a better starting place because it was unexpected.

"I have no children," said Leo.

Charles shook his head. "All your wolves are your children, Leo, you know that. They are yours to love and feed, to guard and protect, to guide and to teach. You sold a young man named Alan Mackenzie Frazier. To whom and why?"

"He wasn't pack." Leo spread his arms, palms outward. "It is expensive to keep so many wolves happy here in the city. I needed the money. I am happy to give you the name of the buyer, though I believe he was only acting as a middleman."

True. All true. But Leo was being very careful how he worded his reply.

"My father would like the name and the method you used to contact him."

Leo nodded at one of the handsome men, who passed Charles with his eyes on the ground, though he spared an instant to glare at Anna. She flattened her ears at him and growled.

He had been a poor influence on her, Charles thought unrepentantly.

"Is there anything more I can help you with?" Leo asked politely.

They had, all of Leo's wolves, used Isabelle's trick with perfume, but Charles had a keen nose and Leo was... sad.

"You haven't updated your pack membership for five or six years," Charles said, wondering at Leo's reaction. He'd been met with defiance, anger, fear, but never with sadness.

"I thought you might catch that. Did you and Anna compare lists? Yes, I had something of a coup attempt I had to put down a little harshly."

Truth, but, again, not all of it. Leo had a lawyer's understanding of how to be careful with the truth and use it to lie by leading a false trail.

"Is that why you killed all the women of your pack? Did they all rebel against you?"

"There weren't so many women, there never are."

Again. There was something he wasn't catching. Leo hadn't been the wolf who had attacked young Frazier  -  it had been Justin.

Leo's wolf was back. He handed Charles a note with a name and phone number written in purple ink.

Charles tucked the note in his pocket and then nodded. "You are right. There are not enough females  -  so those we have ought to be protected, not killed. Did you kill them yourself?"

"All the women? No."

"Which of them did you kill?"

Leo didn't answer, and Charles felt his wolf perk up as the hunt commenced.

"You didn't kill any of the women," Charles said. He looked at the model-perfect men and at Justin who was beautiful in an unfinished sort of way.

Leo was protecting someone. Charles looked up at Isabelle, who loved beautiful men. Isabelle, who was older than old Willie O'Shaughnessy had been when he'd begun to go crazy.

He wondered how long Leo had known she was mad.

He looked back at the Alpha. "You should have asked the Marrok for help."

Leo shook his head. "You know what he would have done. He'd have killed her."

Charles would dearly have loved to see what Isabelle was doing, but he couldn't afford to take his eyes off Leo: a cornered wolf was a dangerous wolf.

"And how many have died instead? How many of your pack are lost? The women she killed for jealousy, and their mates you had to kill to protect her? The wolves who rebelled at what the two of you were doing? How many?"

Leo raised his chin. "None for three years."

Rage rose its ugly head. "Yes," Charles agreed, very softly. "Not since you had your little bully boy attack a defenseless woman and Change her without her consent. A woman who you then proceeded to brutalize."

"If I'd protected her, Isabelle would have hated her," Leo explained. "I forced Isabelle to protect her instead. It worked, Charles. Isabelle has been stable for three years."

Until she'd come to Anna's today and realized that Charles was interested in Anna. Isabelle had never liked anyone paying attention to other females when she was around.

He risked a glance and saw that though she hadn't moved from the mantel, Isabelle's legs were back to dangling down so she could hop down quickly if she wanted to. Her eyes had changed and watched with pale impatience for the violence she knew was to come. She licked her lips and rocked her weight from side to side in her eagerness.

Charles felt sick at the waste of it all. He turned his attention back to the Alpha. "No deaths because you have an Omega to keep her calm. And because there are no females to compete with except for Anna, who doesn't want any of your wolves, not after they raped her on your orders."

"It kept Anna alive," Leo insisted. "Kept them both alive." He ducked his head, an appeal for protection. "Tell your father that she is stable. Tell him I'll see she doesn't harm anyone else."

"She tried to kill Anna, today," Charles said gently. "And if she hadn't... She is insane, Leo."

He watched the last trace of hope leave Leo's face. The Alpha knew Charles wouldn't let Isabelle live  -  she was too dangerous, too unpredictable. Leo knew that he was dead, too. He had worked too hard to save his mate.

Leo didn't give any warning before he attacked  -  but Charles had been ready for him. Leo wasn't the kind of wolf to submit easily to death. There would be no bared throats in this fight.

But they both knew who would win.

Anna had been stunned to stillness by what Leo had revealed, but that ended when Leo attacked. She couldn't help the little yip she let out, anymore than she could help her instinctive lunge forward to protect Charles.

A strong pair of workman's hands gripped her by the ruff of her neck and pulled her back despite the scrabbling of her claws on the hardwood floor.

"Here, now," Boyd's rumble hit her ears. "Steady on. This isn't your fight."

His voice, one she was used to obeying, calmed her so she could think. It also helped that Charles avoided Leo's first strike with a minimal movement of his shoulders.

The other wolves had come to their feet and part of her registered Justin's insistent chanting, "Kill him, kill him." She wasn't sure which wolf he wanted to die. He hated Leo for controlling him and for being Isabelle's mate. Maybe he didn't care which one died.

Leo struck three times in rapid succession, missing each time. He'd committed to the last blow, and when it didn't land he had to take an awkward step forward.

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