Accidental Surrogate

Chapter 162

- Knocking Some Sense into the Alpha


“Dominic, what are you talking about?” I ask, shocked beyond belief by his last statement. Any
tiredness I'd been feeling after my long, emotionally draining, day dissipated the moment Sinclair
claimed responsibility for the war. Just in case, I push myself up into a sitting position so that I can’t be
lulled unwillingly to sleep by my crafty mate.

Sinclair takes a deep breath, not quite meeting my gaze. “If I hadn’t called that press conference, if I
hadn’t publicly accused him of treason, none of this would have ever happened.”

For a moment I ponder this, testing it for validity. I don’t want to invalidate Sinclair’s feelings, so Ill
consider his statement and give him my honest assessment. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t take long
for me to come to the opposite conclusion. “That’s ridiculous.” I object, apparently forgetting my
intention not to invalidate him. “Dominic, if you hadn’t called the conference then the press was going to
firebomb your campaign in the morning. We would have lost and he would have come to power
anyway. You did everything in your power to prevent that from happening.”

“Yes, but if we'd just let them run the story and accepted the consequences of our lies, he wouldn’t
have needed to stage a violent coup, he simply would have won the election. The King, the Alpha
council and the Elders would all still be alive if I hadn’t tried to beat him at his own game.” Sinclair
reasons miserably, shifting my body off of his so that he can sit up as well. To my immense hurt, he
turns his back to me, though I know he’s only acting out of his own guilt and shame.

“We couldn’t have known what would happen, my love.” I state gently, crawling up behind him and
massaging his broad shoulders.

“No, I should have known!” Sinclair exclaims. “I knew what Damon was — I knew what he was capable
of. I let my anger and hatred get the better of me and lashed out instead of using my head.”

“And tell me. What would using your head have looked like?” I demand, hoping that working through
the logic will show him that we did the best we could with the information we had. “We were between a
rock and a hard place, you were trying to protect your family and your people. What were we supposed
to do in that situation?”

“I should have killed him when I had the chance.” Sinclair grumbles. “I would have lost the throne but at
least all of the people he’s murdered and tortured would still be here. It didn’t have to be me.” He
shakes his head, his hands curling into fists. “It was my fucking pride, my ego — thinking it was my
duty and mine alone. Trying to fulfill my father’s unfinished work.”

The depth of Sinclair’s anguish sends me reeling, and suddenly I realize why he’s been shielding so
many of his feelings from me since we arrived. I thought he was protecting me from his stress, and
then his guilt for my own plight, but it was so much more. He wasn't just blaming himself for bringing
me into his world... he was blaming himself for the entire war. My wolf begins to howl in my head, and I
have to fight back tears. I can’t make this about me.

If he thinks I’m upset by his pain, he’ll shut it away again and focus on comforting me, and I will not
allow that. My brave, selfless mate is suffering, taking the entire world on his shoulders and raking
himself over the coals simply because he tried to do right by his people.

Taking a deep breath, I try to make my voice firm and even. “You did the best you could with the
information you had.” I begin, proud of my steady tone. “None of us could ask for any more from our
leaders —”

“Good intentions don’t negate all the pain, death and chaos I caused!” Sinclair interrupts, surging up
from the bed and abruptly ending my massage. “I could have done more. I could have worked harder,

been better, smarter! It didn’t have to be this way.”

My temper is straining now, because not only is this twisted logic harming my mate, but it simply isn’t
fair. “Maybe you’ re right.” I snap suddenly, surprising us both. “Maybe you do have an ego problem,
because if you think that you’re so powerful and all- knowing that you could have stopped all this on
your own, then you’re clearly delusional.” I climb out of bed, following my brooding Alpha. “Stop giving
yourself so much credit, Dominic. You weren’t alone in this. Where was the Alpha council, the elders
when Damon was campaigning? This government is supposed to have all these checks and balances,
and you still ended up out on a limb, and it wasn’t because you were the only one who could. You were
alone because no one else had the balls to stand up to him!”

“They didn’t act because I didn’t share what I knew!” Sinclair argues, glaring at me with barely
contained ire. “If I had gone to them with my concerns then maybe we could have stopped this.”

“Anyone with two brain cells could tell that man was an unhinged lunatic.” I scoff. “You saw how easy it
was for the reporters at the conference to believe our claims, to turn on him. Everyone knew what he
was capable of all along, but no one wanted to upend the status quo.”

“Including me!” Sinclair explodes. “I went along with the campaign when I should have just taken him
out!” He clenches his jaw as if trying to hold back, then adds. “And the worst part of all is that I left my
people! I abandoned them as soon as things turned for the worse. I could have stayed and fought for
them and instead I saved myself and ran!”

Stop blaming my mate for things that aren’t his fault! My wolf snarls, her volume so staggering that I

Sinclair blinks in surprise, and I don’t blame him. I’ve never been one to yell, and I’ve certainly never
been this furious with my mate. “I won’t stand here and let you torture yourself for Damon's crimes.” I
grit our, employing all the ferocity my small body possesses. “You have only ever tried to help, care for

and protect the united packs. You gave up having your own ambitions or dreams because you felt the
weight of responsibility that came with your power, and you have never once tried to shirk it. Even now,
you’re so devoted to them that you won’t eat or sleep or employ basic logic!”

“You didn’t do this, and you didn't set it in motion either.” I’m growling and baring my fangs, and I can
feel my wolf clawing to get out. Meanwhile Sinclair’s glowing gaze is locked on me as I stalk around
him, his hands clenching and unclenching as if he wants to reach out and grab me. “The only person
who is responsible for this war is Damon, and if you’d killed him and let someone else take the throne,
then there’s no telling what other unforeseen consequences might have happened.” I shake my head,
setting my jaw. “And if we hadn’t left, the Royal Army would have killed us—”

“I didn’t mean you, I was always going to get you out.” Sinclair interjects, his voice like gravel.

“Oh, so it's okay for me to run away so we can fight another day, but when you do it, you’re a coward?”
I bite, shooting daggers at the impossible man. “You have a bad habit of taking on guilt for everything
that goes wrong in the world, and I hate to break it to you, but even you aren’t that powerful, Dominic.” I
close the distance between us, notching my chin up to glower at the man I love.

“There is no use torturing yourself for things that were out of our control and that we cannot change.
And I would thank you to stop saying I and me and my when we are in this together.” I add spitefully,
beyond annoyed that he keeps acquitting me of any blame with his ridiculous statements.

“Stop hogging all the guilt.” I enunciate, jabbing my finger into his chest with each word. Sinclair’s wolf
is growling in my head, but I’m not finished yet.

“And another thing,” I hiss. “The people that are fleeing here need to see you. They need to see their
leader and you aren’t helping them by staying locked up here plotting violence. They’re hurting and
grieving and it might be some comfort for them to know you are too.” I gnaw on my lip as I consider my
next words, not wanting to undermine my previous statements.

“And if you are so determined to blame yourself — which is idiotic, by the way — but if you are, then
the least you could do is look them in the eyes and face the consequences of your actions. Hiding from
the fallout wouldn’t just be a disservice to them, it would be a betrayal, and you’ re better than that.”

Sinclair continues to tower over me with the same foreboding, enraged expression, but I cross my arms
over my chest and dig in my heels. “And if you want to spank me or tie me up or whatever other kind of
twisted punishment your wolfy brain can think up for challenging you, then go right ahead. But I won’t
apologize for saying or thinking any of this because it’s true and you know it!”

I begin backing away from him little by little, painfully conscious of the line I’ve just crossed now that the
adrenaline is fading. The corners of Sinclair’s mouth quirks up, and he prowls after me, all predator. I’m
getting ready to turn tail and run, when he pounces, scooping me up into a bear hug. The next thing I
know he’s purring in my ear, his love pouring over me in a tidal wave through our bond. “Thank you.”
He breathes in my ear. “I needed to hear that.”

I blink, squeaking. “Really?”

“Yes, baby.” He croons, kissing my forehead. “You're exactly right. First thing tomorrow I'll come with
you to the camps. I’m sorry I’ve been such an ogre.”

“You know if you’d told me you were feeling this way, I could have yelled at you sooner.” I quip, clinging
to the huge Alpha with all my strength.

Sinclair chuckles and pinches my bare bottom. “Don’t push your luck, trouble.”

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