Carnal Secrets(4)By: Suzanne Wright
The word “war” should have had him growling and on high alert, totally focused on Trey. But all Nick could think about was the fact that Shaya’s scent was far too faint—faint enough to suggest that she hadn’t been here for a while. “Where is she?”
Trey and his Beta male, Dante, exchanged looks that said they weren’t surprised that Nick was unconcerned about the warning.
“Her whereabouts are none of your business,” snarled Taryn. Tao, the Head Enforcer sitting beside her, nodded his agreement. Nick’s face hardened. His words were quiet but firm. “Shaya is, and will always be, my business.”
That had Taryn jumping to her feet. If Trey hadn’t twisted his hand in the back of her sweater, she’d have leaped over the table. “Yougoddamnmotherfuckingsonofabitch!”
“It’s okay, baby,” soothed Trey. One of the enforcers, Trick, went to her side and laid a supportive hand on her shoulder. It was only then that Nick noticed the tears swirling around her eyes. For Taryn to be so upset, Shaya hadn’t simply gone on vacation or to stay with her family in her old pack for a little while. She’d left for good.
“No, it’s not. My best friend has gone because of that rat bastard!”
Yep, that confirmed it. “Gone where?” demanded Nick, barely holding back a growl. His wolf began pacing inside him, clawing at him, wanting freedom, wanting to hunt down his mate—the only thing that really meant anything to him.
“Somewhere safe,” Jaime told him. “Somewhere where you can’t hurt her anymore.”
Nick took one step forward, and each of the Phoenix wolves tensed, prepared to spring. Yeah? Well he didn’t give a fuck. “You think I want to hurt her? You think it doesn’t eat at me that I can’t have her? You think I don’t constantly wonder where she is, what she’s doing, and if she’s safe?”
All of the faces softened, but Nick didn’t want their fucking sympathy. He wanted to know where his mate was. He zeroed in on Trey. “Tell me where she is.” When he didn’t answer, Nick placed his hands on the table and leaned forward, placing him eye to eye with the Alpha. All the Phoenix wolves growled low, but they didn’t attempt to interfere—that would imply that their Alpha couldn’t deal with his own shit. As it was, Trey was perfectly capable of fighting his own battles. But although Trey might be strong and powerful, so was Nick; he let the full extent of his dominance leak into his expression, communicating that he was just as powerful as Trey. In actuality, he was also as fucked up as Trey—he just hid it better.
The Alpha leaned forward, placing his face close to Nick’s, meeting his gaze full-on. “I have no interest in dueling with you, Nick—you fought alongside me to help protect my mate, my son, and my pack. That’s something I’ll always be thankful to you for. I once had people try to keep Taryn from me, and I reacted just as badly, so I can understand how you’re feeling to an extent. But if it’s a duel you want, you’ll get one.”
“If this was Taryn, if I knew where she was and I wouldn’t tell you, what would you do?”
Trey cocked his head. “That’s the thing—I never would have left her. I’m not the noble type. If you want to be self-sacrificing, fine, whatever—but you do it away from Shaya.”
Dante spoke then, crossing his arms over his muscular chest. “If we thought you wanted to know her whereabouts for the right reason, we’d tell you. But you don’t want to find her so you can claim her. It simply suits you to be able to interfere in her life. That’s not fair to her.”
Jaime laid a hand on Dante’s arm. “I know what it’s like to feel you have to resist mating with someone because you fear putting them in danger, Nick.” And she really did know. Her wolf had been so traumatized that Jaime had been at risk of losing her human half completely. If that had happened and she had turned rogue, she would have been killed. For that reason, she had resisted bonding with Dante, worried he wouldn’t survive the link being broken if she died. Luckily, bonding with Dante had instead helped her wolf heal.
Of course her reference to “danger” meant the danger of Shaya being an Alpha female—she didn’t know about Nick’s health issues, or she would most likely understand. But Nick wasn’t and never had been interested in other people’s perception of him, so he had no intention of explaining himself.
“I know it hurts,” continued Jaime, “but you should have claimed her and trusted that you’d be stronger together. Just because Shaya can’t be physically stronger than a dominant female doesn’t mean she can’t still defeat them. There’s more to combat than physical strength—take it from someone who was trained by the best.” She gestured at Dante. “I’ve kicked Popeye’s ass a number of times.” Dante scowled at her for that comment.