My Highland Mate

Page 53

Alpha Business
Roryspentfruitlesshours searching for his grandmother. When he couldn’t locate her, he used his time to speak to his pack members. He ground his teeth together, sick-at-heart, his shoulders stiff from recalling each nasty verbal blow coming from the lips of wolves he’d known since he was a gangly pup. His wolf sizzled with fury, and a growl rolled up Rory’s throat. He’d wished his people had felt they could tell him their problems with his grandmother. Now armed with the truth, it was simple to discern the she-wolves’ uneasiness. The older wolves’ discontent. He’d listened closely, then spoken to each wolf he encountered and told them of his plans. They were welcome to join him if they wished.
“Do ye wish to know our decisions now?” a male wolf slightly older than Rory asked.
“Nay. Discuss it with your mate, your parents, and grandparents. No matter what happens, I promise you’ll have a roof over your head.”
“Thank ye,” the man said, his accent far broader than Rory’s.
Rory made his way around everyone before trudging back to Castle Henderson. The weathered gray stone and the square watchtowers had never seemed welcoming or full of light like Castle Glenkirk, but it had been home. Until now. Today Rory took in the water-filled castle moat and the sole occupant of the guardhouse at the drawbridge.
“Is my grandmother at home?” he asked the tall, solid wolf who studied him with an impassive stare—another new employee.
His grandmother surrounded herself with these paid-for-hire men, which might prove a problem to him. Rory couldn’t count on his pack to back him. He wasn’t even confident of Hugh and his team.
“My grandmother?” Rory prompted when the wolf’s lips twisted in disdain. That answered his question. This wolf held no loyalty to Rory. An enemy.
“She arrived back half an hour ago. She is in the Great Hall.”
“Thank you,” Rory murmured and stalked past, no longer displaying the disappointment and defeat that burdened him. Now was not the time to show his tender belly. His grandmother was forging ahead with her plans, and he had to stand up to her and let her know he disagreed with the future as she saw it.
Rory heard her first. She was screeching, which was never a great sign. Usually, Rory would detour and head for the woodwork workshop. Not today. He strode into the Great Hall, noting the occupants. Several heavy tables and chairs sat on either side of the room. The stark gray interior echoed the outside facade, with wall tapestries providing contrasting color. An enormous fireplace took up a portion of one wall, but the hearth was empty, a fire unnecessary during the height of summer.
“Ah,” Elizabeth said on spotting him. “You’re here. They said you were wandering the pack lands and visiting our wolves.”
“I was, but now I’m here.”
“This is Catriona, your future wife. Come here, lass, and meet your mate.” Elizabeth grasped Catriona’s arm and, given the girl’s flinch, it was clear his grandmother was hurting her.
Irritation flooded Rory, but he didn’t let it show or loosen the reins on his temper. Now was not the time. First, he needed to help the girl.
“Catriona,” he said, holding out both hands for her to grasp.
Satisfaction swirled over his grandmother’s face, and thankfully, she released the girl. Catriona didn’t seem any happier to touch him, so he dropped his hands and smiled at her.
“Are you staying here tonight?”
“Of course, she is,” his grandmother scoffed. “The minister will officiate, binding you legally in a human way and in that of pack law. Catriona’s parents insisted on this. They will arrive in a few hours to witness your nuptials.”
“I see,” Rory said. His grandmother intended to make certain Anita remained out of his life.
“Catriona, I’m sure you’d like to rest and prepare,” Rory said, never taking his focus off his grandmother. He still couldn’t believe she’d killed Toby’s parents and willfully injured Toby, an innocent pup. Rory had checked on Toby. Unfortunately, the medics hadn’t managed to reattach his arm, but the boy was healing and would live. Rory’s nostrils flared, and he struggled to hide his fury.
Elizabeth had murdered innocents simply because they’d wanted to protect their child. Innocents.
“Is there someone who could show Catriona to my chamber?” Rory asked.
When no one replied, Hugh stepped forward. “I will take you to the housekeeper.” He offered his arm to Catriona and smiled when she gingerly placed her fingers on his sleeve.
Once Hugh and Catriona left, Rory turned to his grandmother. “I see you’ve been busy while I attended the gathering.”
“The pack doesn’t run on its own,” his grandmother said.
“You required pack reserves to celebrate properly?” he asked in a mild voice.
She went still, her eyes narrowing a fraction. “The wedding of the pack alpha is a monumental event. We must celebrate in style.”
“You injured Toby. Killed his parents. Why? They were blameless.”