Accidental Surrogate

Chapter 127

– Sinclair Comes Home


The battle lasted for hours.

By the time we reached the border, rogues were already pouring into the territory. I fanned my men out
in a wide net to intercept them, hoping that Hugo, Roger and my other squadron leaders were doing
the same at the other borders. This was the first time I’d been in a fight without Gabriel and Sean, and
though I was confident my warriors were up to the task, it felt strange to be in battle without them. Of
course it was completely worth it, I wouldn’t trust Ella with anyone else.

Just before the fighting began, I forced myself to put Ella and the baby out of my thoughts. If I let myself
worry about them I would be distracted from the battle, and that could be deadly. What’s more, if I
focused on my sweet mate or what she might think of the violence I was committing, I might not be able
to do what was necessary to win. War is brutal and ruthless – there’s no room for softness or tender
feelings, and Ella inspires nothing but.

I told myself that I’d let myself feel the toll of violence when it was over. I had to turn off my emotions in
the moment in order to protect my pack and my family, and I could live with the callousness of being a
cold-blooded killing machine for a few hours. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I failed.

I lost count of how many rogues I killed, how many lives I ended with nothing more than my fangs. As
the fighting dragged on, I focused only on the next step, the next target. I took my fair share of blows,
becoming beaten and bruised as the night continued. Claws sliced into my ribs, teeth dragged down
my back, and my own blood and sweat blended with the mud and fluids of dying rogues.

When it was all over the earth suddenly seemed too quiet. I’d gotten so used to the sounds of
aggression and pain, the blood rushing in my own ears, that I worried something might be wrong with

my hearing. Shaking myself, I recall that the wilderness should be serene and still – if anything is
abnormal it’s the blood soaking into the ground as far as the eye can see.

I look around the forest, watching my wolves patrol for signs of survivors with a sense of grim pride. It
hadn’t been easy, but we did our job. For the first time I take an inventory of my own injuries, noticing
the lingering pain in my ribs, and the beginning of a wicked bruise on my leg.

I can’t relax until I know that the other fights succeeded as well, so I shift and race back to the car to
retrieve my phone. Roger, Hugo and the other commanders all sent messages saying that their areas
were secure, and the former two are already on their way here to provide backup in case we need it. I
call them off, instead turning to the reporters who followed us into the field, filming the battle.

I look into the nearest camera, trying to hide my impatience. I want to send the pack reassurance, but I
need to get back to Ella too. I know she made it to the safe house alright and that nothing will happen
as long as they’re there, but this entire ordeal has been incredibly unnerving.

“I’m pleased to report that the invasion has been successfully stopped. My enforcers have pushed back
and eliminated the rogue threat, with minimal losses on our side. I will provide more details in the hours
and days to come, but I want to assure everyone that Moon Valley is safe, and the all clear signal will
be issued as soon as possible.”

The reporter standing next to the cameraman frowns, raising his hand to his ear.

“Alpha, headquarters is saying the all clear was already given – hours ago.”

“What?” I demand, my face crumpling into a grimace. ‘That’s not possible.”

“I don’t know how it happened, but they’re certain. It doesn’t sound like anyone took it seriously
because they could see from our footage that the threat was ongoing, but the signal was definitely

I pause, trying to wrap my head around this idea. The only people in the territory who can issue
emergency orders (or call them off) are myself, the Alpha council and the King. As I process this,
something else occurs to me. Everyone with access to technology would see the footage, but we keep
the sirens and all clear signal systems for people who don’t or who aren’t connected in the moment.

My safe houses are technology free for very good reason – because when the Prince attempted to
assassinate my father, the hitman tracked him through his devices.

A horrible possibility enters my head then. If the all clear went out then Gabriel and Sean would have
followed protocol and taken Ella home.

What if our fears were right, and this was a distraction? My wolf growls. If the King can call for the all
clear the Prince probably found a way to use his father’s authority to give the order, and then Ella
would have come out of hiding.

Damn it, this is Lydia’s doing! I think bitterly. She knows our protocols, she knows the systems. If
everyone else was still inside hunkering down, the Prince’s men could have intercepted Ella or waited
for her at the house, and no one would notice a thing.

“I have to go.” I declare gruffly, turning on my heel and striding back to the cars. I call Hugo and Roger
and brief them along the way, beyond furious with myself for not foreseeing this possibility. They try to
assure me that it’s probably nothing, but I won’t have it. I can feel that something is wrong in my gut.

We race back to the city, breaking every speed limit possible along the way. I’m silently praying to the
Goddess the whole journey, begging her to let me be wrong.

Of course, I wasn’t wrong.

When we get back to the house, I discover one of the guards in charge of protecting

Ella lying in a bloody heap on the doorstep. “Alpha.” He groans, clutching a wound in his stomach. “I’m

“Shit, help him.” I order, slipping my hands under his arms while Hugo takes his feet and we cart him
inside. We lay him out on the couch and Roger leaves to call for a doctor. “Jeremy, where are the
others?” I ask sharply, trying to stay calm even though I’m fairly certain my entire world is about to end.

“Dead.” He moans, tears burning in his eyes. “Gabriel, Sean… they’re all dead.”

“What happened?” I inquire, my hands clenched in fists at my sides. He hadn’t said

Ella’s name, but if her protectors are dead and she’s not here… only a fool would hold onto hope in
such circumstances.

‘They ambushed us, surrounded us so we had no choice but to fight.” He coughs, and crimson liquid
stains his lips. “We were so outnumbered… we never stood a chance. And then Ella… they were about
to kill Gabriel and she must have known we’d lost. She got out of the car and told them to leave us
alone, she gave herself up to save us.”

That did it. The leash I’d been holding on my emotions snapped as my entire world shattered. An
agonized roar bursts from my lips, and I crash to my knees, unable to believe my ears. I’ve never
known such pain, to not only lose my mate but our pup, and to think it happened when I left her alone.
No! She can’t be gone. My wolf howls desperately. I would feel it, I would sense it. I don’t believe this. I
spiral into denial right along with him, It can’t be true. It’s too horrible. What was she thinking –
impossible, noble little fool. Why would she sacrificed herself!

‘They killed Gabriel anyway, and she was so furious… she just attacked them.” He shakes his head, as
if he still can’t believe how fearless she’d been. “I’m so sorry,

Alpha.” He groans, “they took her.”

I’ve entered a strange fog, and it takes me a moment to understand. My head jerks up, ‘Wait a minute –
they took her?”

‘Yes.” He nods, ‘They put her in the car and drove off.”

‘They didn’t kill her?” I demand, needing to be certain I understood him correctly.

“If they did, they didn’t do it in front of me.” He murmurs regretfully.

“Dominic?” Roger says, looking at me with obvious concern.

‘This is Lydia.” I hiss. ‘The Prince isn’t this strategic.” A moment ago it had felt as though everything I
knew and loved was breaking into a million tiny pieces, but now the destruction halts. Nothing is fixed
or restored, the collapse is simply stalled, with my heart hanging in the balance. Now the ridiculous
kernel of hope burgeoning in my chest surges forward, and I find myself forming a plan. “I want to talk
to them – right fucking now!”

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