Even Marc suddenly showed up. He was just slightly shorter than me, but with the same amount of muscle. His hair was brown just like his eyes. He carried himself with the same arrogant confidence I remembered. He frowned at me but quickly turned away when I did the same. He was Diego’s son and they both hated me. I and Marc fought a lot when we were younger and almost every time I was the winner. Ten years did nothing to erase or even dim down the fire of hatred burning between us. I wasn’t even sure why I hated him so much anymore. I just did.
Before the staring could get too awkward, Alistair walked into the dining room. He ignored the tension and simply sat down at the head of the long table. Trystan sat down by his left, the position for a Prince. Sina sat down by his side, making me catch my breath a little. That was the place for the Prince’s mate. Oh merciful Gods, don’t tell me my ex is dating my brother… How awkward. They left the chair on Alistair’s right empty – for Bran. Nikolai sat down on the other chair on right, Holly next to him. Then the warriors, then Akira and… Colwyn? Why the hell was he sitting with the dominant wolves? With a surprise, I realized he was sitting on a chair that marked him as Akira’s mate. I knew he had a crush on Akira when we were younger but I didn’t actually think she was capable of anything like love. I felt very sorry for him.
Next was Marc, Yuri, Scott, Hiro, Ivan, Lowell, and Nadia. From the most dominant to the submissive wolves and unmated she-wolves. And me. The table was already set and my plate waited for me next to Lowell, in front of Nadia. The place for the weakest and most submissive wolf… Did Father really expect me to sit there? It was a damn insult to make a dominant wolf sit in a place like that. I took my plate and sat down on the chair opposite Alistair; the chair reserved for guests, for visiting alphas. Alistair raised his eyebrow but didn’t command me to sit somewhere else. Good, I wasn’t sure if I could disobey him if he did…
We started eating, it was a typical werewolf breakfast; sausages, bacon, eggs, grilled cheese... It was amazing. Alistair started talking about the preparations for Bran’s funeral. The whole pack would gather here at the pack house to grieve together then we would burn his body and hunt as was tradition.
“Will Elliot come?” I cut into his speech. Everyone looked at me and frowned disapprovingly.
Alistair just watched me with that stone-cold look, like he always did. “Yes, Elliot, with his Beta and Shield,” he answered after a while.
“Good,” I said, maybe a bit too growly. I wanted to talk to Elliot. Alistair frowned but didn’t say anything else. Only when we were done eating did he call me to him.
“Reid,” he said and then simply walked out of the house, so sure I would follow him. I did. He led me into the pine forest covered in snow. Both of us wore only t-shirts, but we weren’t cold. Our wolves kept us warm. There was a tension-filled silence between us as we walked through the quiet forest. I couldn’t help but feel nervous and maybe even a bit scared. My heart sure as hell hammered against my ribcage like it was ready to break out. I was starting to debate if I should just leave when he finally spoke.
“I know how you’re feeling right now…” he said. Somehow, I doubted that. “You’re hurt, grieving and angry. But attacking Elliot won’t solve anything.”
“I wasn’t planning on attacking him,” I argued, I had thought about it though.
“He was my Beta; he was practically my brother. I know how you’re feeling but questioning Elliot will bring more bad than good. We have no idea what happened…” he continued, but I stopped walking.
“And why is that? Are the warriors looking into it? Are you even trying?” I said angrily. Why wasn’t anyone doing anything? They were supposed to be a pack goddamnit.
“Bran died, Reid,” he said. He might as well have been an ice statue for how much emotion he showed. “Let the pack grief, you are not the only one who loved him.” He left me standing in the snow while he walked away, his face blank.
Stupid fucking werewolves! I growled to myself then I turned around and walked back into the house. There Holly, with the help of our two submissive wolves, Scott and the ladies, started preparing the house for the pack gathering. It would involve many drinks and food and lots of pointless conversation. I decided to help out. Since I was the tallest they made me put black curtains over the windows.
“Didn’t you use to be shorter than me?” Nadia laughed as she handed me the curtains.
“Nope never, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I shook my head, playing dumb. Yeah, I used to be shorter than many people around here. “I was always big and brawny.”
“Right.” She chuckled. “You look good, just so you know,” she said then blushed a bit as if she only then realized I could take it as flirting. I knew though she wasn’t into me. I really doubted anyone here was into me after that mess ten years ago.
“Thanks, you look quite good yourself, Nikolai must be very busy killing all your suitors,” I commented with a grin.
It was nice to hear her laugh. I didn’t actually expect people to talk to me. Perhaps I wasn’t as unwelcome as I thought...
“Nadia, come here for a sec,” Marc suddenly called from across the room. Nadia gave me an apologetic smile then went to him, as she walked away I could feel Marc’s glare burning into my back.
I turned around in time to see him bent down and whisper something in her ear, frowning before he carefully steered her out of the room, shooting me one last glare. No doubt he just wanted to get her away from me. Judging by the way she easily allowed him to whisper in her ear and touch her shoulder and waist he was one of the suitors Nikolai didn’t manage to kill just yet.
“I hate it too,” Yuri said from behind me, frowning at the spot the two occupied just a moment ago. “Marc is still a fucking asshole but Nadia seems to disagree with me. And what’s worse, dad supports their relationship. Because Marc is strong and dominant and on his way to become the next Shield of the pack,” he growled with obvious resentment in his voice.
“You’ve got to be kidding me… No way Trystan is stupid enough to make that guy the Shield?” He didn’t exactly inspire trust. A Shield of the pack had to be strong to protect the pack, yes, but at the same time, they had to inspire trust so the pack would hide behind them and believe the person could protect the pack. Marc was so not the man for the job.
Yuri shrugged. “Marc’s father is a great warrior and there is no one, except for the Ghealachs, who can compete with him strength-wise.”
“No one?” I raised my eyebrow. “Not even you?”
His mouth twitched as if to snarl but then he changed his mind and led me upstairs. “Come on, we have to get ready. Do you have a suit?” he asked.
“I have a black shirt and these jeans,” I told him, feeling a bit embarrassed. A black suit was the last thing on my mind when I learned that Bran was dead.