It's Wednesday, which means more flash fiction! (It also means there's only 5 more days before the cover reveal for On Fire!!!) This week's flash was inspired by the prompt: He slid his hand into mine. Enjoy!!
The question was rhetorical. Which one had fled the streak? I was already grimly contemplating my response, but I was distracted by the thoughts of the death Henry had earned himself—once he confessed to everything he knew. No reason could justify drugging his own son.
Nothing would excuse him from harming the alpha’s mate.
“Oh my god,” Kraig gasped. I turned and saw the realization in his eyes which quickly filled with tears. He fisted his hands in his lap, taking ragged breaths. “My dad? He did this.” Kraig shoved his body into the corner of the couch and curled up, wrapping his arms around his legs. “I-I can’t....”
“It’ll be okay, Kraig.” I tried to soothe him, but he shook his head.
“How could this ever be okay?” he cried.
There was no answer to that question. No way to tell him there was any other way to see his father’s actions but as the actions of a traitor. How long had we been harboring someone who was so vile they were willing to sacrifice—to torture—their own child?
I sank onto the couch next to Kraig and put my arms around him, pulling him close. He slid his hand into mine. “No matter what, I’m here for you,” I whispered against the side of his head. He let go of his legs with one hand and latched onto my shirt. It took a monumental effort, but I tried to calm my heartrate and breathing. My mate didn’t need my rage on top of the volatile emotions churning inside him.
Park rolled over and sat up, careful to remain at a safe distance when I lifted my lip and showed him my teeth. “Deke, can we be sure of this information?”
“It makes sense, both in how Kraig and your dad was acting. How would lying about it benefit Uncle Radford and the lion’s medic? The only way would be if they were both involved in this testing, and Kraig would’ve know at least Uncle Radford on sight or hearing his voice.”
Uncle Radford made an indignant sound but was smart enough to keep his mouth shut. It was a small blessing; his arrogant droning voice had ruined more than one day when we had to listen to him tutor growing up.
“Okay, okay.” Park lifted his hands. “I just....”
It took me a moment, but in my concern for Kraig, I’d forgotten that we were also talking about Park’s dad too. The evidence was damning, but who wanted to believe their own parent, who should love and protect them, was capable of such betrayal?
“We need to run more tests,” Uncle Radford said. “If you want to understand Kraig’s dual nature and what they did to him.”
Kraig shuddered in my arms. “Only on his terms.” I stared down Uncle Radford until he ducked his head and nodded.
“You may be my beta, but I don’t think you should be involved in searching for your father,” I told Park.
His eyes narrowed and his cheeks flushed. “You don’t trust me,” he stated flatly.
“That’s not true. I just don’t want you to have to be the one to drag him back here. Cameron has the best senses, and he can cover his facial markings.” I was deadly intent that Henry would face justice and soon. “Besides, you have a task and—I frowned—“wait. What are you doing here?”
“Oh.” Park relaxed out of the rigid posture he’d assumed. “I got in touch with Ritch’s family. They weren’t much help. That arrogant pig of an alpha dared to tell me that Ritch was his third’s property and that he’d see you in challenge if we didn’t give him back.”
“Property?” Disgust made my stomach roll. “People are not property.”
“Unless you’re a human werekin and born into a group who doesn’t value our unique nature,” Kraig said. His voice was muffled and thick. Slowly, he leaned back so his face was buried against my chest, but he didn’t make eye contact with everyone. “Radford knows what I mean.”
It was a distasteful reality and one that should’ve ended long ago. There were a lot more risks of discovery by the humans with the technological advances made every year, but in other ways it was very beneficial to werekin. There were a lot of options for careers from home, online college courses, things like that. Groups that took advantage and moved into modern society prospered.
The ones who clung to the old ways did not. Unfortunately, they were in the majority.
“What about the challenge?”
I shrugged one shoulder. “I’m not worried about it.” My age might weight against me, but my training made up for it. Physically I was in my prime, and a fight wasn’t more than a blip on my radar. That an older tiger werekin, who’d know the risk, would push so hard for Ritch’s return made me very suspicious.
“Maybe I should get in touch with that alpha... issue a little challenge of my own. Ritch said they were suspicious of the doctor, but he didn’t really say how or why.” If Henry could betray us, what might that streak be capable of?
Uncle Radford collected the paperwork he’d spread out and stood. “I have more research to do. I’ll be at my apartment.”
Park watched him leave. “I’ll talk to Ritch again and try to find out why he thought they were suspicious.”
“Also ask him where else he tracked the doctor. I’ll have Cameron get in touch with you before he leaves.” If Henry was in league with the doctor and his allies, then he might be headed to those groups. It would give Cameron a direction at least, since he wouldn’t be able to scent-track him while driving.
Want more? It's coming next week! And don't forget to swing by Monday to see On Fire's gorgeous cover and pre-order your copy (you know you want to!) In the meantime, here's more flash fiction for you: