Mating Brand Page 33

“I really want him dead.”

“So do I.”

He studied her closely and saw sincerity. “How could you stand to be with him?” He had a new sense of her inner strength if her life had been as appalling as he suspected.

She looked away. “No choice. I had to stick it out until my sisters were old enough to mate.” She held his gaze then. “It was my responsibility as the oldest to keep them safe. I never suspected that one of them would hook up with the son of another pride leader. If she hadn’t, I’d still be trapped there until Bree is settled.”

The tears that filled her eyes broke his heart but she blinked them away. His mate was strong and beautiful. “I understand. I’d do damn near anything for blood.”

“I have.” Her smile appeared forced. “Let’s change the subject. You said something about us going to the alpha house. Does your family want to meet me?”

It was a reminder that they needed to leave. “My cousin Anton decided it would be safer if the family and the enforcers move into Uncle Elroy’s home. We’re stronger united and we’re the ones the pride males want. It’s safer for our pack if the pride isn’t tearing apart the town seeking us out. We’ll make certain they know where to come.”

She gaped at him.

“It’s a good plan. We want to draw them away from the weaker members. There’s nothing to worry about. You’ll be safe inside the house. I wouldn’t leave you here alone anyway. Some of them might decide to go house to house searching for easy prey. My cousins need me in this fight. I wouldn’t do it, though, if I believed you’d be in danger. You’re my priority.”

“You need to fight. I understand that, even if I hate it. I’d never ask you to abandon your family when they are depending on you.”

He hadn’t thought for a minute she would. She’d suffered plenty for the safety of her own family. “I know it’s going to be difficult being around so many wolves but they are aware that you’re my mate. No one will dare give you any shit. My cousins and I made that damn clear.”

“What about Alpha Elroy? Is he upset that I’m here?”

“No.” Brand tried to hide his anguish. “He doesn’t know about you. Long story short, his parents arranged his mating to my Aunt Eve. He did his best to love her and be a good mate. It wasn’t reciprocated. She did something really bad recently and he banished her from our territory. He had no choice but to shun her.”

Charma’s eyebrows arched, her surprise clear.

“She endangered her own son, put his new mate in grave jeopardy and planned to kill Uncle Elroy and his half-human son who was born before they mated. She deserved to die but my uncle has a big heart. Mating heat had begun so losing her at this time would have driven him insane. You don’t come back from that. Our doctor put him in an induced coma. My cousins are leading the pack until it’s safe to wake him after the heat passes. He’ll have a rough time of it, adjusting to the loss of a mate but he’s strong. He’ll survive.”

She was silent for long moments and seemed to carefully consider what he said. “Will he have a problem with me once he’s back in charge?”

“No. He’s a good man. As I said, he has a half-human son. He didn’t know about Grady until the mother abandoned him on their doorstep after discovering he could shift. Eve demanded he kill my cousin but he refused. Grady mated a human. My cousin Anton is the one who mated a she-cat. Uncle Elroy accepted them. He’ll accept you too.”

She still didn’t appear convinced.

“He will, Charma. Uncle Elroy has been a father to me since my parents left.”

“You never talked about them except to say they were gone. I thought you meant they’d died. Are they still alive?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s not a good story to tell.” Charma peered at him until he gave in. He’d do anything for her. “My dad was kind of stupid and thought he’d make a better alpha of this pack. He challenged Uncle Elroy and lost.”

That stunned Charma. “I thought werewolves didn’t do that kind of thing if they were brothers. Was your mother the sibling to the alpha?”

“Nope. It was my dad. Uncle Elroy should have killed him. That’s pretty much a given when you challenge for leadership. They were asked to leave the territory instead and banned from ever coming back.”

“How horrible.” She massaged his arm. “I’m so sorry, Brand. Why didn’t you go with them?”

“My father was wrong. Uncle Elroy is a fantastic pack leader. I was given the choice to stay or go. I chose the Harris Pack. My parents were angry and have not contacted me since.”

“Oh, Brand.” Her sadness showed in her eyes.

“Don’t feel sorry for me, hon. My cousins are like brothers to me. I might have lost my parents but I kept the whole of my family intact by staying. I’ve never regretted that. This is my pack.”

“But it’s got to be hard not knowing where your parents are, or if they are still alive.”

“They’d have contacted me if they wanted to. I’m listed in the book. It’s not my favorite subject so let’s change it. You asked how I know my uncle will accept you. I know him well and he’s going to welcome you with open arms. I have no doubt about that.”

“I’m glad you’re so sure.” She braved a smile.

“It’s going to work out. We need to get ready to leave. We’re expected at the alpha house soon.”

“I don’t have any spare clothes so this shouldn’t take long.”

“We’ll go shopping once the pride males leave town. For now, you can borrow anything of mine you like.” He enjoyed the idea of her wearing his stuff but naked was better. His dick hardened. He groaned, glancing down at it with disgust. “We need to hurry before I lose my mind needing you again.”



Chapter Eight


Charma stared openly at the attic space that had been converted into a guestroom. The smell of dust tickled her nose. Brand hovered behind her and she turned, catching the worried expression on his face.

“I’m so sorry about this. It’s not exactly nice and I doubt anyone has stayed in this room since Aunt Margie spent the summer five years ago. She had a thing for living in attics after a flood destroyed her home. The higher above ground, the better. I picked it because it is the most private and gives us the floor to ourselves.”

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