Accidental Surrogate

Chapter 145

– Damage Control


As soon as Hugo walks into the room, I thrust Ella behind me, a vicious snarl on my lips. My wolf is on
high alert from having claimed his mate so recently, his possessive instincts spinning out of control and
stronger than I’ve ever experienced. She’s mine. He thinks angrily, He shouldn’t even be allowed to
look at her. I can’t even process my beta’s words, because I’m too preoccupied with guarding Ella –
despite the fact that I know my old friend isn’t any threat. Still there’s no reasoning with a protective
wolf, and all mine knows is that another male is in the vicinity of my precious, breeding mate.

Ella, troublemaker that she is, only wriggles her way back into my lap, putting herself between me and
the target of my wrath. She pulls my glowing eyes down to her own, both of her small hands framing
my face. I glower at the insolent creature, not all pleased that she’s stopping me from attacking the
interloper, but Ella stares back with unwavering calm. Stop being ridiculous. Her silken voice sounds in
my head. It’s only Hugo, and I don’t have eyes for anyone but you.

It’s not your eyes I’m worried about. My wolf replies grumpily. He’d be a fool not to want you and he
can’t have you. I lower my mouth to her fresh, red mark, breathing in her scent and gently nibbling her
tender skin. Mine, mine, mine. A noticeable shiver runs down Ella’s spine, and my wolf puffs out his
chest with masculine pride. Naughty mate, I rumble, positively crowing when she shudders again and
the scent of her arousal wafts up to me. Her body might be exhausted, but her wolf is as insatiable as
my own. Challenging me, pretending to be all can and reasonable when you crave my dominance
every bit as much as I need to exert it. Come on, let me bite him just a little – a warning bite, so he
remembers who you belong to.

You’re impossible. Ella’s amused voice accuses, tempting me to turn her over my knee and remind her
who’s in charge. If I want to attack my Beta, who is she to stop me? Doesn’t she realize how special

she is, how invaluable? Besides, he said there was a problem. We need to hear him out – what if the
Prince is getting ready to stage another attack. He must be furious that we thwarted his plan.

This thought brings reason crashing down, subduing my wolf and focusing my attention back on Hugo,
who’s been watching our silent exchange with understanding but also quickly waning patience. “What
is it?” I demand, snuggling Ella a little closer.

“We just got a report that the Current is getting ready to publish a story about Ella’s background.” Hugo
announces, referencing one of the few newspapers in Moon Valley that aligns politically with the
Prince. “Apparently the Prince sent his spies to the shadow pack to investigate her past… and they
figured out that we’ve been lying about her identity. They don’t know she’s a human, but they know we
haven’t been honest.”

“What?” I hiss, horrified and devastated by the fear and guilt I feel radiating from Ella. I instinctively
begin to purr, but when I look down at my mate she’s frozen in place, her beautiful gold eyes wide with
horror. “How did this happen?”

“I don’t know.” Hugo sighs, “If I had to guess I’d say this is another of Lydia’s schemes – because of the
timing if nothing else.”

I let out a volley of ferocious swears, interrupting my purring and startling Ella. My wolf whines in regret
and I move my hand to her round belly, checking on our pup. I feel a tiny pulse of unease, and
immediately resume my purrs, not speaking again until both mother and child have relaxed. “I should
have killed that bitch when I had the chance.” I continue a moment later, “What’s the Current’s angle?”

Hugo looks reluctant to speak, but eventually he says, “that you’ve been running a morality campaign
and the entire time you’ve been lying to the people and the Alpha council. They’re suggesting your
entire relationship is a fraud and that Ella is a paid surrogate – they want to know if you have a

“Can we stop it?” I ask. I own some shares in the paper, but I’m afraid that my economic holdings won’t
do much good if the pack turns against me. “Do you know if anyone else has hold of the story?”

“Not yet.” Hugo relates grimly, “And I don’t think there’s anything we can do to convince them not to
print it. They have proof that Ella and Aileen aren’t related and that no one with her name ever resided
in the territory.”

“Damn it.” I murmur, trying to wrap my head around this.

“Dominic, what do we do?” Ella looks up at me with so much trust and hope, and I realize that she’s
looking to me for the answer – the solution. This incredible woman, who has only ever been able to rely
on herself and fix her own problems, trusts me so much that she’s giving me that responsibility. I can’t
let her down.

“Well…” I begin slowly, working through the possibilities. “The way I see it, we have three options. We
can try to get ahead of the story and release it ourselves – say that Ella was a suppressed wolf and our
love is real but we hid her past because we were trying to figure out how to wake her wolf. We can
deny it, but if we do then they’ll probably start looking closer to home – working backwards to discover
how Ella and I met and come to the conclusion that she’s a human. We can disprove that now, but it
will be even messier if they figure out the truth and we’ve spent all this time insisting the story is false.
Or we can simply say no comment, and hope that the story doesn’t make an impact.”

“But it will make an impact – you know it will.” Hugo counters seriously. “The other papers will pick it up
when they see the evidence, and your refusal to acknowledge the reports will only allow the Prince and
anyone else who opposes you to make up more and more outlandish accusations.” He paces back and
forth while I absentmindedly croon and pet Ella, who has tears in her eyes for a very different reason
than she did a little while ago. I hate that our nascent joy is already coming to pieces… I hate that she’s

known nothing but fear and stress since coming into my life and that yet again, I can’t protect her the
way I want. The way she deserves.

“I think our only move is to try and get ahead of the story, control the narrative by framing things
ourselves.” Hugo advises, looking worried despite his confident tone. “The pack will be more outraged
if they think your relationship is fake, than they will if they believe you were just trying to protect your
mate when she couldn’t access her wolf.”

“I think Hugo is right.” Ella pipes up, her voice hoarse. “We can spin this in our favor only as long as we
get the word out first.”

I know they’re correct. The problem is that I have a terrible feeling that this scandal might be my
downfall. In many ways the Current’s reporters are telling the truth. I have been running a campaign on
the basis of honesty and virtue, and I have been lying to everyone in the interest of winning. Does it
matter that my motives were noble? That my only interest in being King is to keep a tyrant off the
throne? That I never asked for this duty, but I’m not going to shirk the responsibility that comes with my

My stomach is in knots, but I slowly nod, knowing that this is the only path forward, even if it leads to a
dead end. “Call a press conference.” I instruct Hugo. “We’ll say we’re announcing Ella’s claiming, that
her wolf has been dormant but with the help of the pack elders, we were able to wake it. If they ask
about her past we’ll admit that we don’t have any answers, and we’re just thrilled that we’ve finally
found each other and that we’re welcoming a son. And if they accuse us of playing politics, we’ll say
that I believed Ella would have become an even bigger target if people knew how vulnerable she was.”

“And the Prince?” Hugo asks, fully aware of the conversation I had with my father before we went to
rescue Ella. “Do you want to come out in the open about his misdeeds – distract the press by claiming
he was already trying to kill Ella and the babe, that the only reason you risked waking her wolf while
she was pregnant was because he kidnapped her?”

For the first time in a very long time, I’m passed caring about taking the high road. The Prince has been
getting away with his crimes for far too long, and it’s time the people knew about it. “Fuck it.” I growl,
squeezing the sweet bundle in my arms, “Let’s do it.”

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