Accidental Surrogate

Chapter 117


When Sinclair and Hugo finally leave for the pack headquarters, Henry and I move

into our favorite sitting room, returning to the puzzle we began solving together earlier

this week. Seated across from the older wolf, I pretend to scan the scattered puzzle

pieces for matches, while really sneaking peeks up at him. “So what do you make of

all this?”

I ask curiously. “Lydia and the Prince?”

Henry grimaces, “I never liked that woman. But trying to argue with headstrong young

Alphas’ convinced they’ve found their mate is like beating your head against a wall.”

He offers me a tender smile. “You’ll see soon enough. You can do everything in your

power to try and teach your pups the important lessons and prepare them for the real

world – but at the end of the day you have to let them make their own mistakes – it’s

the only way they learn.”

“Does it ever hurt any less? Or get any easier to watch them go down the wrong

path?” I inquire softly.

“Not a damn bit.” Henry shares grimly. However despite his grim look, his eyes

sparkle when he looks over at me. “Luckily, that doesn’t seem to be despite his grim

look, his eyes sparkle when he looks over at me. “Luckily, that doesn’t seem to be a

problem for me anymore. Lydia is out of the picture, my boys are friends again for the

first time since losing their mother, and Dominic is on his way to being King.”

“Dominic just told me how his mother died this morning.” I confess, reaching for the

old wolf’s gnarled hand. “Im so sorry you went through that.

It must have been terrible for you to be left alone with a pack to rule and two young

boys to raise on your own, in the midst of all your grief.”

He nods, “looking back I don’t have the first idea how I survived it. The grief almost

destroyed me… and I’m ashamed to say I let it destroy Dominic and Roger’s

relationship.” Henry sighs. “I haven’t always been the best father, but I can tell you

right now that it was a hell of a lot easier to be one when I had my mate.”

I know what he means. When I thought I was going to be bringing this baby into the

world alone, I’d been terrified. Very few people who plan for children expect to end up

alone with the responsibility, and though Id been one of the rare few – it certainly

hadn’t been by choice. I was thrilled to finally succeed, but the stakes seemed a

thousand times higher without a partner. I’m still afraid of course, but it feels so much

better to be part of a team. I know that as long as Sinclair is alive, I will always have

someone to lean on and my pup will have two loving parents to guide him through the


“I never Would have believed I could do it without her, and I’m proud that I

managed…” Henry continues, his mouth a quavering line. “but I will never stop being

haunted by the knowledge that the wrong parent died… they would have been so

much better off if Juliet had been here instead of me.”

“Please don’t say that.” I beg, feeling tears in my eyes for the second time in as many


“Why not? It’s true.” Henry shrugs, his dark eyes shining. “There’s no use denying it or

letting ego get in the way. You’ll see that too – nothing humbles you like being a


My mind scrambles for an argument, not because I want to invalidate his feelings, but

because I know in my heart that losing any parent is never the answer. “Has Dominic

ever told you about his last conversation with Juliet?” I finally ask, “before the fire

started, before everything went wrong?

Henry thinks for a moment, “No, not that I can recall.”

Slowly, careful to get the details right, I repeat the story Sinclair shared with me this


Dominic’s mother gave him permission to ignore what society dictated,” I summarize

at the end.”

But he already had the example you provided to guide him. He was only six, and he

might always have remembered those words because they were her last, but he lived

them because of you. He is the Alpha he is today because of you. Because you

showed him every day how to walk the walk.”

“You know that all happened right here?” Henry inquires thoughtfully, his expression

far off as he looks around the room. “I moved the boys to a new home after the fire.

But when Dominic grew up and made his fortune, he rebuilt the original manor in her


“I didn’t know,” I admit, looking around the huge mansion. “Was it always this grand?”

Henry chuckles. “It was even grander in my day – Dominic isn’t the only one who did

well for himself, you know.”

“I know.” I laugh, snatching up a distinctive puzzle piece belonging to my current focus

area. But I think I got us distracted. I was asking you about Lydia.”

“Darling, when you have all day, diversions are a blessing, not a curse.” Henry

advises warmly, patting the arms of his wheelchair. “The first year I was in this chair, I

would have begged for a lovely young she-wolf to distract me from the monotony.”

“And now I feel like you might be distracting me intentionally.” I remark slyly. Henry

chuckles again, but it’s the defeated laugh of a man who knows the game is up. “Oh

Ella, you are too clever for your own good, you know that?”

Just tell me, Henry.” I request gently. “Whatever is worrying you can’t be as painful as

reliving your mate’s death.”

His brows arch and he flashes his fangs in agreement. “It’s just that I’ve seen this film


He finally admits. “I’ve seen what happens when there’s this kind of competition for

the throne, and it never ends well for anyone.”

“Isn’t it always like this?” I inquire, not caring that I might be showing my ignorance of

shifter politics.

“No, it isn’t.” Henry explains. “Normally the Alphas of each pack in the union are pretty

evenly matched. They battle it out on the campaign trail, the people vote and the

Alpha’s who don’t get enough points return to their council duties. The problem is

when you have a few extremely strong Alphas competing at the top, forcing all the

pack Alpha’s to choose sides and form alliances rather than competing themselves. It

focuses all the pressure and all the danger on the one or two men who actually stand

to win.”

“So when there are lots of wolves in the running, they’re so busy keeping an eye on all

their opponents that they can’t afford to zero in on anyone in particular. But when

there are only a fèw, it results in all the stuff we’ve been facing?”I question, searching

for clarity. “The assassination attempts and death threats?

“Yes.” Henry confirms. “And the divisions are worse because Dominic and the Prince

are two very different animals. The Prince has the edge for being the King’s heir. He

has wealth and a clear willingness to throw thousands of ordinary wolves under the

bus to benefit his friends. He’s famously corrupt, and everyone knows he can be

bought for the right price. For a certain type of person, that’s a very tempting type of

King to place in power.”

“But Dominic is the exact opposite.” I realize slowly. “So those same people who

would benefit if the Prince wins, suddenly stand to lose in a big way if an honest,

incorruptible wolf takes control.”

Henry nods. “You’re starting to see now. Dominic views all this as the fight between

good vs evil, and in some ways he’s right.”

“But in others?” I press, feeling my heart beat faster with every word we speak.

“The world isn’t split up into angels and devils, Ella” Henry sighs, “it’s full of

complicated and flawed individuals with a thousand different motives guiding them


“I thought.. it sounded like the united packs and the Alpha council want stability over

everything else though.” I object, rubbing my, suddenly aching, neck.

“Yes, but what is stability?” Henry challenges.

Dominic believes it’s peace, but there are a lot of people out there who see it as

preserving the status quo; ensuring that those currently in power remain in power to

avoid constant turnover in leadership.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” I ask, my mouth suddenly feeling very dry.

“Because I know my son, I know the way he talks.” Henry answers seriously. “Dominic

grew up in this world and he’s suffered the harsh realities it creates. He understands

all this even if he doesn’t make it explicit. But you’re not from this world, and I want to

make sure you know what you’re truly up against.”

“You’re saying that I shouldn’t assume we’re going to win.” I assess shakily. “I need to

be realistic about the possibility that we’ll lose.”

“Yes, Ella.” Henry confirms sorrowfully. “I hate to say it, but the more we learn about your past, about
Lydia’s schemes and all the chaos that has happened in between.. this is feeling less and less like a
journey to the top, and more like a bomb waiting to explode.”

My hand gravitates protectively towards my belly.

“I think I’m going to be sick.”

Henry reaches for me, looking worried now. “I’m sorry, dear one. Should I have kept my mouth shut?”

“No.”I breathe, trying to calm my gag reflex. “I needed to know. And now that I do -I can start to

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