Hugo, Sinclair and I are all staring at the television with wide eyes and slack jaws,
unable to process the images flitting across the screen. It seems like every time we
manage to take a few steps forward, Lydia and the Prince find a way to send us
reeling back – and this is no exception.
“This doesn’t make any sense.” Hugo expresses, obviously overwhelmed. “Why would
he risk losing the pack’s sympathy by parading around another Woman so soon after
his wife’s death?”
“Trust me, Hugo – Damon isn’t the one calling the shots here. This is all Lydia.”
Sinclair states gruffly. “She’s going to force her way onto the throne one way or
another. Right now she’s playing the doting friend, but mark my words, by the time the
election ends she’ll be in his bed.”
“How bad is this?’ I ask, looking up at Sinclair’s handsome face, “Does she have
information that could hurt you?”
Sinclair Squeezes my shoulders, “She knows some secrets.” He relates, “but luckily
nothing I could imagine as a smoking gun. In fact most of what she knows would be
more harmful to the Prince things like my father’s attack, Things the public believes
were accidents but our private investigators proved malicious.” His mouth flattens into
a hard line. “The real danger is that she knows how we think, how we operate. Not to
mention that the Prince doesn’t have more than two brain cells to rub together, but
Lydia has plenty.”
“So what do we do?” I ask anxiously, my head replaying the news reel over and over
again. “My bed rest isn’t common knowledge, and they’re making it sound like my
absence from the public eye is suspicious. Do we tell everyone about my condition?
Or do we make an appearance?”
“I’m afraid making an appearance might play right into their hands. This could be
some sort of attempt to lure us out of hiding.” Hugo advises, looking very grim indeed.
In the distance I hear the front door open and close – a fact which comes as quite a
surprise, since my hearing has never been so sharp before.
Wheels roll over the door jam, and then Henry’s voice floats up toward us, “Good
“Henry!” I exclaim, both taken aback yet unsurprised we stayed in bed so long.
Sinclair’s father has been coming over almost every day since we agreed to be
invalids together, and he’s been an invaluable help, since I learned my true identity.
I grab some loungewear and disappear into the restroom to change. I might be a wolf,
but my human modesty is too deeply ingrained to allow me to strut around nude the
way Sinclair does – and I’m definitely not changing in front of Hugo.
When I emerge, Sinclair is also dressed, though much more formally than I am.
We go downstairs together, Sinclair carrying me despite my protests. My blood
pressure is improving more and more every day, but it isn’t enough to free me of bed
rest yet. We all gather around the breakfast table, the men analyzing these recent
developments in low, serious voices, and me feeling like an outsider eavesdropping
on matters I can’t begin to understand. It’s not that they exclude me, I just feel so out
of my depth.
“What do you think, Ella?” Sinclair asks, turning his blazing emerald eyes to me.
They’ve been going around in circles for more than half an hour, debating how we
should respond to this crisis.
I gnaw on my lower lip thoughtfully, trying to ignore the flash of emotion in Sinclair’s
eye as he observes the nervous habit. Releasing my swollen lip, I sigh, “Do we ever
know what happened with Lydia’s husband?I mean the Princess is dead, but Lydia’s
still married to some other Alpha, right?” I clarify. When the men nod, I continue.
“Where is he in all this? Even if he doesn’t want her anymore, it must make him look
bad for her to be gallivanting around another territory with another Alpha.”
“That’s a good point.” Henry praises, maintaining a straight-faced expression which
reassures me that he’s not giving out false compliments. “Maybe we’ve been going
about this the wrong way.
Instead of trying to understand their motivations, we can simply leave it at knowing
they’re corrupt and respond without playing into their hands.
After all, they’ll be expecting some sort of countermove to challenge the media’s
narrative, but we might be able to spin ourselves out of the hot seat and refocus the
attention onto them – where it belongs.”
“Keep them busy and distract the pack by rustling up her husband and causing
drama” Hugo nods approvingly. “Good idea, Ella.”
Sinclair squeezes my hand in support, but when I look over, his features are still
drawn with worry.”I still don’t like it. I think it’s the best hope we have, but something
about this entire situation just doesn’t seem right.”
“Well of course not.” Hugo scoffs, “You don’t need to convene a blue-ribbon
committee to tell you this is all fucked six ways to Sunday.”
“No, I mean, I feel like I’m missing something.”
Sinclair replies drying. “Therę’s something bothering me and I just can’t put my finger
“Well, you’ve been saying from the beginning that Princess Angeline’s death felt off –
like a political scheme.” I contribute softly.
“Right, but one the Prince is too unimaginative to have orchestrated.” Hugo confirms.
Sinclair’s eyes widen almost imperceptibly, and then he clenches them shut, closing
his hand into a fist and swearing up a storm. “What?”
“You know who isn’t too unimaginative?” Sinclair growls, scanning our concerned
“Lydia.” Henry supplies easily. “And while Prince Damon might have seen his mate as
little more than a trophy, he’s not the type to impulsively destroy one of his prized
possessions. But Lydia wouldn’t have any reservations about getting the Princess out
of the way.”
“Are you saying what I think you are?” I gape, both certain I’ve understood and yet
unable to believe my ears..
“As crazy as it seems, what other explanation do we have?” Sinclair inquires, rising to
his feet and pacing back and forth behind the dining table. “If the Prince had lost his
temper and beat her to death, I wouldn’t question it. And if there was some sort of
violent attack, you could make the case for rogues or vengeance for some slight
committed by Damon. But poison? That’s a woman’s weapon.”
“True, and if it was a political scheme you would think the royal family would have
staged her death and spun the details in a way that benefitted the campaign beyond
Damon looking sympathetic.”
Henry agrees. “Instead it just seems… odd.”
“Exactly.” Sinclair confirms. “If it was planned, then why haven’t they jumped on the
golden opportunity to lay blame and cast aspersions? Why haven’t the Prince and his
son been parading their grief around Moon Valley for all to see?” He gesticulates,
getting more and more enthused now.
“I don’t think anyone in the palace knew this was coming. I think Lydia got rid of her
competition and slid into the role of ‘concerned friend’ in order to ingratiate herself to
“You really think Lydia would go to that length?”
Hugo asks skeptically.
“Don’t forget the way she played my sons for so many years.” Henry cuts in, his low
voice as harsh as I’ve ever heard it. “Lydia is a cunning she-wolf who proved herself
willing to do anything for power. And if she can ruin her fated mate’s life without a
shred of remorse, I guarantee she won’t have qualms about ruining others.”
Sinclair looks ready to argue with the idea that his life is ruined, but this isn’t the time.
“Okay, so let’s say all this is true,” I suggest, trying and failing to wrap my brain around
the idea that anyone could be so calculating and cruel. “What does it mean for the
“It means that we have some decent ammunition to use against the Prince and Lydia.”
Hugo assesses simply.
“But surely we have to be careful about using it?” I question. “I mean they need to look
like they’re in this together, otherwise the story becomes heartless bitch takes
advantage of grieving widower.’ If we play this wrong the Prince could end up looking
even more sympathetic than before”
“That’s a good point.” Sinclair acknowledges, the corner of his mouth twitching at my
made-up headline. “And you’d better believe that Lydia is going to have plenty of dirty
tricks up her sleeve.
We might have figured a few things out, but if we’re right it means things are even
more complicated than before.”
“So what’s our move?” Henry presses, watching his son with the expression of a
proud father wolf who knows his pup already has the answer.
First things first, we track down Lydia’s husband and encourage him to remind the
realm that she isn’t the concerned citizen she seems.” Sinclair decides firmly.
“Second, we quietly get proof that she was behind the Princess’s death, even if we
don’t plan to use it, we need to know for sure.
Finally, we make sure the pack remembers exactly what kind of mate the Prince was
to his wife. He might not be guilty of her murder, but he’s certainly guilty of other
crimes against her and the people need to see what he calls protection and caring.”
“And us?” I ask anxiously, looking up at my mate.
Sinclair offers me a grim smile, “We sit tight, focus on keeping our pup and your wolf
safe inside you, and hope we don’t have to do anything desperate ourselves.”
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