Kraig’s insight sent the alphas into an uproar. They spoke over each other, everything from denying the possibility to declaring it a reason to hunt down and eradicate everyone involved. I let them get it out of their system before I spoke up.
“You’ve seen the evidence I’ve presented.” I pushed my chair back and stood. “My streak has born the burden of this discovery, but and the ongoing conspiracy against all werekin. We know, from my mate, that those who set this in motion will harm those innocent and unwilling to further their cause. I call upon the alphas attending this counsel to authorize an investigation with the full weight of all our power behind it.
“They’ve had years to prepare, and we have far less time to prevent a catastrophe of such proportions we might risk humans learning about our kind. An all-out war would do just that.” I knew that fear; all werekin were raised to know the danger humans learning about paranormal beings could wreak on the secret societies hidden among them. It was our cardinal rule, the one never to be broken. “We must stop this before more people are hurt.”
I met each alpha’s gaze, letting them see my conviction and dedication. I may have been young, but I was my father’s son, his heir, and he’d prepared me well to wield the power of my position. “What say you?”
Those calling for extermination quickly stood. They were convinced, but it wasn’t enough. I looked to Durant who was frowning as he stared at the table. His eyes were troubled when he looked up. “I fear that this hunting down of our own people may be the undoing of our society.”
“That’s already begun. And we have no one to blame but the alphas of the clans who’ve showed so little disregard to their own members. There’s no other way to protect ourselves.”
Durant sighed. “I fear you’re right.” He slowly stood, and the alphas still undecided followed him one by one.
“Thank you.” I sat and the rest of the alphas followed suit. “As my beta is the most familiar with the case, I believe he would be best to lead the investigation.”
Valon protested, “He is too young, and his father was the traitor. What if he—”
Park’s snarl was drowned out by mine and Kraig’s. I cast a warning look at Park, and he subsided, but there was no quelling my mate. Kraig leaned forward over the table, his claws scraping grooves in the lacquered surface. He snarled again. “Don’t you dare impugn my brother’s name or my alpha’s power. My father might have been a traitor, but do you really think Deke would allow any risk to his power, much less his streak?” He sneered as he raked Valon and the other alphas who dared try to stare him down with an equal challenge. “If you do, you’re a fool.”
I squeezed Kraig’s leg and then rubbed it to calm him down. He lifted his hands, seeming to just notice the damage to the table. He glanced at me, and I gave him a reassuring nod.
“My tie to the members of my clan have never been tighter. I know where the risk lies, and it is no longer inside my borders. I would like Park to lead the investigation, but Ritch was the only one who met the doctor. He may have met other werekin who were involved, even if he didn’t know it. Since Trein has proved himself unwilling to assist with a member of his clan, I would request that Ritch fulfill that role.”
This time the murmurs around the table were muted, with more than a few glances sent Kraig’s way. I could scent fear, wariness, and a distinct bitter odor coming from my mate.
It took another hour, but the investigation team was declared. It was decided each alpha would imbue their chosen representative with their power and authority, and they would meet back here and report to Park within two days.
The uneasy truce between us sizzled with the power not even the most experienced alphas could contain for long in the presence of so many others. My tiger soul was restless, needing them off his territory. I was happy when they didn’t linger.
“Let’s go sit down,” Kraig suggested after I closed the door behind the last beta.
Lydia bustled in the kitchen and brought out drinks and food, her not-so-subtle looks at Kraig making it clear who she was trying to feed. He took a second sandwich as soon as he finished his first one.
“Thank you, Lydia. I think that’s just what we needed.” I was calmer now, and exhaustion dragged at me.
Park was sitting next to Ritch on the couch while Kraig took up residence in my lap. His presence soothed me further. Still…
“You’ll find out who is behind this and bring stop them. I know you will. I wish I could go with you though.” Losing my dad had been hard, but taking up the mantle of power was harder. I wanted to hunt down those bastards and gut them like I had the doctor who hurt Kraig. But I couldn’t. I had to stay to lead my streak and protect my mate.
“I won’t stop until I do.”
Ritch, still uneasy in my presence, actually met my eyes for the first time that day. “I will too. They left me all alone in this world, killed my family. They need to pay, and it’s the least I can do for you protecting me from Trein.”
“You’re not alone,” Park said. He squeezed Ritch’s leg just above his knee, then patted it. “You have us now. You heard what Deke said to your former alpha. You’re welcome here.”
Kraig turned in my arms and rubbed his cheek against my neck. “I’m full. Can we go lay down?”
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