“What do we know?” I asked.
Uncle Radford spoke up first. “The doctor was working on a drug to incite Kraig’s two souls, creating a feral stronger than any alpha. When you killed him, all he’d managed to do was bring one soul to the foreground.”
“So what? He was going to incite my animal souls and set me loose?” Kraig shook his head. “Even if I was stronger than Deke, I couldn’t beat the whole streak, and no one would accept me as their alpha.”
“No, but an army of werekin just like you could take out all resistance and let the people holding your leash take over.”
“But the doctor wasn’t working with the human werekin anymore,” Park said. “Right?”
Ritch leaned forward. “Maybe not the way they wanted, but if he could create an army for them? He could’ve garnered a lot of power, money, and property from the decimated groups.”
“That’s not an option, but I’m worried that we don’t know what these human werekin have been doing since the doctor left them. They killed Henry, but his soul still lives”—I winced when Lydia wrapped her arms around her chest—“so clearly they know how to strip souls from the bonded werekin’s spirit. They also have to know that we know at least part of what’s going on.”
“Christian will be here any minute. I want everyone to stay close while we investigate and then be back here first thing in the morning. Enough alphas were willing to attend a general counsel without a presentation of proof, but I want everything here, laid out and ready for them. Make sure you have extra copies,” I told Uncle Radford.
He pursed his lips but nodded grudgingly. “I’d like to get back to my classes as soon as possible. I have been away long enough.”
“I understand you have a life that you can’t just walk away from, but this is important. You can leave after the counsel if we don’t need your expertise.” I tried to keep my tone calm; the next day would be tough on all of us, but especially anyone the majority of alphas considered beneath them—basically anyone who wasn’t another alpha, but especially human werekin and women.
I stretched out my claws and then sheathed them until Kraig put his hand over mine. I let out a slow, deep breath. “Thank you. Dismissed.”
Lydia stayed behind when Uncle Radford, Ritch, and Park filed out of my office. “What are you going to do with Henry’s body?” she asked.
“I’m leaving that up to you,” I said. “He was your mate, and I wouldn’t presume to tell you what is best. Whatever you want to do, we’ll do.”
She shook her head. “I don’t know. He was a traitor. He hurt our son. It tears my heart out.” She rubbed her chest. “I don’t want to honor him, but I don’t want him burned and his ashes scattered either.”
“We can do a quiet burial in a corner of the streak plot?” It was more than a traitor deserved, but I was more concerned with the peace of mind of the ones he left behind.
She thought for a minute and then nodded slowly. “Thank you, Alpha.”
I got up and went around my desk. I pulled her out of her chair and into my arms. So often she loomed larger than life; now she was a small, fragile figure even smaller than Kraig. “Why don’t you go rest?” The dark circles under her eyes pained me.
“Okay.” She didn’t even argue, just walked out with her shoulders slumped.
Kraig stood and nestled against me. I put my arm over his shoulders and held him close. “I hate this,” he said.
The next day dawned without any of us getting much sleep. Christian had packed up everything he could find in the hotel, but it wasn’t much. There were no secrets to be found in Henry’s belongings or his body.
But we had the doctor’s computer files and the ones I’d found. We had Kraig, who was clearly a hybrid of more a tiger and cheetah soul. Ritch would testify to what he’d witnessed of the doctor’s actions as well as his cousin and his mate’s disappearance.
“Stay next to me within arm’s reach the whole time,” Park warned Ritch.
Ritch nodded. “I will.”
I didn’t have to tell Kraig the same. A general counsel was held under a promise of peace only, with any alpha violating the tradition with harsh penalties, but it was a risk. Ritch’s previous alpha was a vicious and unpredictable man.
Not too unlike a feral, though he held just enough control to stay in power.
The meeting hall off the right side of the house was warm and reeked of chemicals. Lydia had been out banishing dust since the early hours, but I didn’t want the alphas too comfortable.
“We’ll convince them,” I told Kraig. “They’ll listen to us.” I was reassuring myself as much as him.
If they didn’t listen….
Tires on the gravel of the driveway was the first sign the alphas were about to arrive. As my beta Park took his place on my right. Kraig began to move back with the others who were arranged behind us, but I grabbed his hand and hauled him back to my side. “Where are you going? You’re my mate. You stand on my left.”
“I didn’t think about that, I’m sorry. I was always in the back, before.”
I squeezed his hand. “You’ll get used to it.”
Heavy footsteps came up the walk, and Christian opened the door just as they neared. The alphas filed in the room in order of power. This many in one room was electrifying, and I felt the tingles as my tiger soul began to pace in the back of my mind.
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