The idea that I had to fix a problem? Seems to be working so far. I have no illusions that it’s going to be The Fix, but again, I’m feeling optimistic about it. My idea is to try to nail everything in one go like Holly Lisle does. Obviously, if I can’t, I won’t. But with a project that’s smaller in scope, it might be doable. And if I can, it will help me so much with Pirouette’s revision. So, I think I’m doing pretty darned well so far.
Dropping Luke’s hands, I turned to Simone, acutely aware that I was frowning. “I’m not convinced that I am your Alpha Female – ”
“You don’t understand.” Simone’s eyes were warm and accepting, her face peaceful. “You smell of Pack. Only Pack smells of Pack. It follows that you’re our Alpha Female.”
Delia stood now, her mouth twisted in a grimace. “I for one will not allow a Fae to lead me. I don’t care if she smells like Pack and has one ounce of Lupi blood in her! This is unacceptable, Luke.” She put her hands on her hips, glaring at Luke as if she wanted him dead. Or was it me she wanted dead?
“Delia,” Luke said in a warning tone. “It’s not like I get to choose what race my Alpha Female is.”
Delia scowled in my direction. “She herself has denied it. So let it go.”
“It’s not that easy and you know it!” Luke was suddenly in Delia’s face. He’d moved so fast that I couldn’t track it. But he was there, his face red and his eyes flashing with suppressed rage. “You’re just pissed off because you’re not the one.”
I knew it! “Apparently his wolf likes me. Not you.” I bared my teeth in a smile that wasn’t genuine.
Delia grabbed Luke’s arm. “Did you see them? Or is this all just a ruse – “ She gasped, backing away from all of us, her face stricken. “It is you.” She recovered quickly, though. She charged at me, moving so fast she was a blur.
I drew both my daggers, ready to fight.
“I’m going to kill you. Slowly.” She held herself tall and regal, her elegant hands clenched in fists.
Suddenly there was a press of power, and Luke let out an inhuman growl. “You will do no such thing.” His eyes flashed amber; several people gasped. “Stand down, Delia. Or you won’t like the outcome.”
“Crap, Delia, he’s going to turn!” Simone grabbed Delia’s wrist, but Delia pulled away from her.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, my heart racing. I had a bad feeling about this.
The others moved into a loose semi-circle around me. The wolves growled.
“You don’t want to know,” Simone said evenly. She’d paled just a bit, and was that a tremor I saw in her fingers?
“Touch her and I will tear your throat out,” Derek said. “As Luke’s Second I order you to stand down.”
Delia threw a punch at me; I ducked. She stumbled, and it gave me the opportunity to grab her. I pressed my blade against her throat, drawing blood. “Do not mess with me. I’m Dark Covenant. I can and will kill you.”
Luke let out another growl. And then he spasmed, falling to the ground.
Chaos. The wolves surrounded him, a living wall. I couldn’t even see him. But the tension in the air was obvious. Something was really wrong.
“Stay back!” Ilene came through. “Luke, stay there. We’ll neutralize the threat.”
I stepped forward into the Circle. “What’s wrong with him? Why is he like that?” My eyes widened as he flailed about, his head thrashing from side-to-side and his hands clenched in fists.
Layla glanced at me, her eyes narrowed. “It’s the madness. Every Alpha Male goes through it.”
Delia shoved me away. I stumbled, almost falling, but not quite. “Let me help him.” Her words carried a strong command.
“If you’re his Alpha Female and not her,” Brandon spoke up from beside me, “then prove it. Tame him.”
Delia bit her lip. “I will tame him.” She shot me a dirty look. I fought not to go to work on her with my blade.
I watched as she knelt beside his now-shivering form. She took her hand in his and pressed her lips to his palm, slowly, reverently. She glanced at me again as if to say see? I’m the one.
I wasn’t sure I believed it. He showed no signs of calming. In fact, he seemed to get more agitated –
Another spasm. His arms flew out, and Delia scrambled away to avoid being hit. She looked shaken.
“I can’t – can’t – do this – “ Luke grated out. He reached blindly for someone or something. “Help!”
I inched forward, but Delia shoved me back again.. She knelt by his side again and touched his face.
And he exploded.
His body flowed into fur and a muzzle, paws and a tail. His eyes burned bright amber. He wheeled on Delia, snapping his jaws.
“You might want to get away from him now,” Derek suggested. “He might actually eat you this time.”