Tears are streaming down Sinclair’s face as he relives his Mother’s death, and I’m
doing my best not to burst into outright sobs. My heart aches for the little boy he once
was, and for the burden he obviously still carries today. Hearing this story, I
understand that his last conversation with his mother had truly stayed with him over
the years, shaping him into the man before me now.
“Afterwards, I leaned that she’d gotten Roger out of the house only to realize that I
Sinclair Continues, wiping his eyes. “She ran back in to get me, even though the
guards tried to stop her.” Sinclair relates, “So you see, that’s why Roger always
blamed me… he wasn’t wrong. If I’d listened to her the first time, if I’d gone outside
when she told me to, she would still be alive now.”
“But Pancake wouldn’t.” I remind him thickly.
The corners of his mouth quirk up, “It was almost thirty years ago, baby. Pancake is
“You know what I mean” I chide him. “And your mother understood because you were
doing exactly what she was trying to teach you – to protect those more vulnerable
“I know.” He confesses. “I spent years in therapy,
Just trying to come to terms with the fact that it was her choice. I was a child and
couldn’t have understood the danger, and she didn’t have to come after me.”
“But she was your mother, it wasn’t even a question for her.” I murmur, twining my
limbs with his so he can feel my solid weight in his arms. “She wanted you to live
much more than she cared about her own survival.”
He nods wordlessly, his eyes still distant, as if he hasn’t truly returned to the present.
“I understand that, but sometimes I still think that if it wasn’t for me, she never would
have needed to make a choice in the first place. My decision that day took her from
Dad and Roger and the pack.”
“Did you ever find out how the fire started?” I ask softly, running my fingers through
the dark, thick locks of his hair.
“In the weeks after the fire, it became clear that it was arson.” Sinclair explains
hoarsely. “Dad was away on pack business, and it was well known that Mom was
home with the pups. We were never able to prove it, but we always suspected the
attack was political. King Xavier was on the throne then, and my father was his right
hand and next in line. All the politics that are playing out today – they were already
under way back then.”
“You think it was the King – the current one, I mean?” I inquire.
Sinclair sighs, his emotions less potent now that we’ve moved on to politics. “The
problem with being the biggest and baddest wolf around is that it puts a colossal
target on your back. And the worse thing is that you’re so hard to kill and people are
often so afraid of taking you on directly, that they go after your family instead.” Sinclair
shares. “It might not be as effective as killing you, but Alphas who lose their mate and
pups rarely recover fully.”
Sinclair pauses to nuzzle my neck and caress my belly, as if reminding himself that
Rafe and I are safe. “It could have been anyone, but I actually think Xavier is a more
likely suspect than the current king – my father was younger and not quite strong
enough yet to rule, but it was clear he would be soon. Xavier didn’t have heirs and
though he still had a lot of time left to try and make them, I think the writing was
already on the wall. My father was too strong and too well liked.”
“Dominic, if it was arson then it wasn’t your decision that took your mother, it was
Xavier’s, or whoever was responsible. It wasn’t some tragic accident, it was murder.” I
argue, hating the guilt still dominating my mate’s expression.
He gazes down at me tenderly. “You don’t have to worry, Ella. I’m okay – I forgave
myself a long time ago.”
“But Dominic, there’s nothing to forgive.” I insist, near tears again. “It wasn’t your
fault.” I pull back far enough to look into his emerald eyes. “I can tell you right now,
that if it came down to me or Rafe, I would choose him every time – even tiny as he is.
And I wouldn’t ever want him to think that my sacrifice wasn’t worth it, or to blame
“Shhh,” Sinclair tucks my head under his chin, stroking my spine. “It’s okay, little wolf. I
“Stop comforting me! I’m supposed to be comforting you.” I complain. Trying and
failing to wriggle free.
“You are.” Sinclair lies – the rat. “It comforts me just holding you this way.”
Settling, I decide to change tactics. “Do you have any idea how proud your mother
would be, if she could see you today?” I ask him softly, hoping to help ease his pain
but speaking with complete honestly. “You became exactly the man she hoped you
would. You never lost sight of what matters most, even when the whole world was
working against you. You lead with love instead of fear, and you don’t confuse
strength with cruelty.”
“Now you’re just flattering me.” Sinclair rumbles with amusement.
“I’m not.” I bite back. “Do you remember when we first met, and you still thought I was
a scheming gold digger?”
“Oh yes, I’m sure that would have made my mother very proud.” Sinclair jokes.
“When you realized you were wrong, you owned up to your mistake.” I continue
determinedly. “And when you saw I was hurting, your first instinct was to hug me. You
didn’t even think about it. I remember being so shocked, because here was this huge,
terrifying predator – and you held me more gently and with more compassion than
anyone in my entire life.”
A pleased purr vibrates beneath my hands. “You make me sound like my father, that’s
exactly how I used to think of him. He could go from being a grizzly to a teddy bear in
the blink of an eye.”
“Exactly.” I confirm. “I wish you could see yourself the way I do, Dominic. If you could,
you’d know I’m not just trying to pump up your ego – which, for the record, I wouldn’t
do because it’s already big enough.” I quip, yelping when Sinclair pinches my bottom.
“I’m telling you how proud your mother would be, because I believe it with every fiber
of my being.”
“Thank you, sweetheart.” Sinclair professes, kissing me. I eagerly return the gesture,
tilting my head to give him full reign of my mouth, and pressing my curves closer to his
We’re just starting to get carried away when a knock sounds at the door, and Hugo’s
reluctant voice floats through the wood. “Alpha, it’s urgent.”
Sinclair reluctantly extracts himself from my arms, and strides to the door, as naked as
the day he was born. I hide my own nudity beneath the covers, burrowing deeper into
my nest as the Beta stalks into the room, not batting an eye at the scene awaiting him.
Instead he goes straight to the TV console against the far wall, clicking the remote
and bringing the screen to life. He flips the channels until the device lands on a
breaking news report.
An image of Lydia and the Prince appears in the top left frame of a news report,
above a headline reading: No longer in mourning? The Prince spotted in Old Town
with former Moon Valley Luna, Lydia Sinclair.
My jaw drops, and my brain scrambles to piece together the implications of this news.
I’m momentarily distracted by the way the reporters identified Lydia using Sinclair’s
name, feeling a rush of indignance for this slight. I pull the sheets from the bed,
wrapping them around my body and moving to Sinclair’s side. He tucks me under his
arm as Hugo increases the volume on the television.
“Mere weeks after the unspeakable tragedy of the Princess Angeline’s murder, her
widower and political candidate Prince Damon was seen out and about with Moon
Valley’s former Luna. When asked for a comment, the pair reported that they are just
friends, sharing that Lydia stepped forward to offer the Prince comfort in his time of
need – being no stranger to tragedy herself.
Despite the platonic nature of their relationship, onlookers could help but notice how
cozy the couple appeared, with many expressing hope that the prominent she-wolf
can offer the grieving Prince solace at this difficult time. Are we witnessing a new it
couple in the making? Is Lydia’s friendship with the Prince going to throw off Dominic
Sinclair’s campaign? And where is the Moon Valley Alpha and his new mate Ella? The
pair haven’t been seen publicly in weeks, and speculation is brewing. All this and
more, when we return.”
“Turn it off.” Sinclair rumbles, exhaling when the Screen goes dark again. The three of
us exchange worried glances as the sound disappears, and I can tell we’re all thinking
the same thing. “What the actual fuck?”
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