Feral Sins(8)

By: Suzanne Wright

He settled back in his seat, crossing his legs beneath the table. “A few weeks ago, my dad passed away. Since he was Beta, my uncle has now taken over as Alpha, but apparently that’s not enough for him. He has applied to the council for his pack and mine to be united as one again with him as Alpha. Personally I think it’s because he wants our territory, but it’s probably to piss me off too. The council arranged a date for us both to meet in the presence of a Mediator to see if the issue can be resolved without violence.”

Shifter councils only formed to appease anxious humans who didn’t like the shifter way of solving disputes – namely violence. Taryn didn’t much like it either, but it had always been part of shifter culture. The agreement made with the humans was that the shifter council would insist that packs would have to appeal to the council before starting any disputes with other packs. If the matter couldn’t be solved through Mediation, the protocol was that exactly three months had to pass before either pack could act on the challenge made – the council’s way of giving tempers a chance to calm, hoping an amicable agreement could then be reached within that time period.

It was clear to Trey by the expression on Taryn’s face that although she was listening intently she didn’t have a clue where he was going with this. “Of course I’m going to oppose his request, which means he’ll then have to back down or officially challenge me. I know him well enough to know he will not back down. An agreement won’t be reached within the three month period that the council will impose, not in this case. There’ll be an out-and-out battle between the packs – one that I have absolutely no problem with. But I know my father had plenty of alliances and all of those will now be my uncle’s. Naturally he’s going to ask for aid from those alliances and we’ll easily be outnumbered.”

Taryn gave him a helpless shrug. “I’m sorry to hear things are pretty shitty, but I really don’t see what I can do – unless you’re interested in a sarcastic comment – and I don’t see what any of this has to do with Roscoe.”

“This has to do with me needing a mate…and you needing a way of being out of Roscoe’s reach.”

Taryn’s entire body stiffened. Surely he wasn’t suggesting what she thought he was.

“I need alliances, Taryn. Your dad collects them like they’re coupons. If I had an alliance with him, I would have a link to his alliances and then I’ll have plenty of wolves to call on for this battle. Maybe it will make my uncle hesitate, maybe it won’t. In any case, the situation will be evened out.”

Alliances, alliances, alliances. “So, you’re asking me to reject a guy who wants nothing more than an alliance with my dad, all in favor of a guy with exactly the same motive?” She snickered. “You could probably arrange an alliance without using me, so why not just contact him?”

But she already knew the answer to that. Her dad was cunning and ruthless, known for sniffing out a person’s weakness and leaping on it. He would see how much Trey needed him and would exploit it. Probably by demanding some of his territory or by insisting he owed him a ‘favor’. Being indebted to an Alpha like him was never a good thing. Alliances formed through a mating, on the other hand, were more balanced.

“There’s a very big difference between what it would mean to mate with me and what it would mean to mate with Roscoe.”

“What’s that?”

“With me, it doesn’t have to be permanent.” And he’d never hurt her, unlike Roscoe.

Confused, Taryn shook her head. “Wolves mate for life.”

“Yes, but I don’t want cosmic, soul-moving, imprinting shit in my life.” In fact, he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be capable of feeling the kind of emotions that kept a mating alive. “Of course we have to make everyone believe this is the real deal and that we’ve mated for life, but all I need is for you to remain with me as my mate until the battle is over.”

“Well then you don’t necessarily need me to mate with you. You just need me to act as though I’m mated to you.”

He shook his head. “That wouldn’t work because I’d need to mark you. The second I do, you’ll be classed as my mate. It will be a real mating, just not a forever-after one.”

A big issue, though, was that Taryn was sure her wolf would be accepting of his mark and wouldn’t understand that this was to be a short-term thing. It still wouldn’t be difficult to break the mating link because she and Trey wouldn’t imprint on each other, but it would be very uncomfortable for her wolf. And that was just one of many problems. “Look, even if I wanted to take you up on your offer, I couldn’t. My dad and Roscoe have signed contracts and my dad’s elated at the idea of having an alliance with Roscoe. He won’t stop it.”