“Grandmother won’t let you return now,” Rory said.
Hugh nodded. “I understand, but now that my parents have died, I have no one left for her to injure or make their lives difficult. I will leave and make a life elsewhere,” he said.
“Promise you won’t leave without telling me,” Rory said.
“Aye.” Hugh readily agreed.
“What about your men?” Anita asked.
“I’ll speak with them, tell them the full story, and let them make up their minds,” Hugh said. “Some like me don’t enjoy woodworking but welcome other challenges.”
“Why didn’t you say?” Rory asked. “I hope I’ve been fair and approachable.”
“You have, but your grandmother holds equal power, and our wolves fear her.”
Shame stung Rory because, in hindsight, he could see this was true, and he’d failed as a leader. “Please don’t leave without speaking to me.” He dropped Anita’s hand and stalked to the door, desperate to leave, to lick his wounds. He told himself he needed to think.
This was his fault.
If he’d spoken up, perhaps none of this would’ve happened. Hell, he was so confused, and he couldn’t look at Anita. He’d mistreated her, and now he’d learned his entire pack had suffered under his grandmother. If he’d been a better leader, he would’ve stood up to her.
“Rory,” Suzie’s tone held disbelief.
He ignored her chastisement and closed the door after him, attracting the loitering bodyguards’ attention. They would’ve heard everything, and Rory couldn’t meet their gazes. He marched past and headed for the main entrance. He’d run and ponder how to make this up to Anita, his pack. His responsibilities weighed heavily on his shoulders. The hardest part would be facing his grandmother and exerting his will on her. If most of the pack feared her, that was no way to live a life. It was no wonder wolves were leaving.
Rory cursed long and loud, disgusted and full of self-loathing. He had to fix this mess. This injustice belonged to his pack, and as the alpha, he carried the majority of the guilt burden.