“Go with the beta,” Zagan told Minnie and Casimir after Kyle had left the room. “Inform the wolves how to fight vampires during battle.”
They nodded and followed in the direction that Kyle had gone.
Once alone, Zagan and I faced each other. I didn’t hide my narrowed look. I wanted him to know that I didn’t trust him. Not yet, at least.
How the king of vampires came to be standing in my bedroom, in front of the bed where my mate and I were meant to sleep, was beyond me.
Never in a million years did I think I would allow this to happen. My wolf and I were on edge with the entire situation. I was anxious to leave.
I didn’t want to stay here with him, knowing I should go help prepare my pack, but I had questions that needed to be answered.
Zagan looked around as he approached me, examining the large suite. He nodded in approval. “I have to say, Alpha, your pack house is very impressive.”
I nearly scoffed. This was coming from the man who had lived in a castle his whole life.
The royal family’s palace was said to be incredible, housing some of the most celebrated figures ever known to the supernatural world.
I couldn’t tell if he meant this comment as demeaning or genuine. Either way, I chose not to reply, crossing my arms over my chest in silence instead.
Zagan wasn’t phased by my obvious contempt. He laughed under his breath, shaking his head. “I just saved your life, Alpha,” he reminded me. “There’s no need for disdain.”
I growled softly. I didn’t like that he talked to me as if I were one of his children who was pouting. “You’ll have to excuse me if I have difficulty trusting vampires at the moment,” I replied.
Zagan nodded, his amusement fading slightly. “Yes, well, I suppose that is something I can understand.” He paused, crossing his own arms to match mine.
He met my gaze with the same intense fierceness. “I am pressed to remind you that I am not your enemy. We share the same goal. We both have much to lose if my brother takes the throne.”
The tension in my shoulders didn’t release at his words, even though I knew there was an aspect of truth to them.
As leaders, both of us would have the blood of our people on our hands if we failed. Thousands of people would die if Azazel succeeded.
But none of this meant I had to trust him. At that moment, I would only consider standing alongside him during the upcoming battle.
This alliance was a difficult one for me to join, but I knew I had to do it for the well-being of my pack.
Kyle had done the right thing when reaching out to Zagan Mortar. But if Zagan was truly worthy of my trust, not just my partnership, he would have to earn it. I wouldn’t be giving it away just yet.
“How did Azazel get into my mind?” I asked, changing the subject to something useful.
Zagan raised his brows. “Which time? Just now? Or when he took control of your body two months ago?”
I hated the fact that he had to ask for clarification as to when a vampire had taken control of my body. “Just now.”
I knew how Azazel had taken control two months ago. I had access to his thoughts. He had used black magic the night when vampires had entered my territory, the night that changed everything.
Azazel had practically planned out every single second. With the help of Adalee, the vampires were able to distract me and my warriors just long enough for Azazel to enter the territory unnoticed.
When I had decided to go back to Belle, completely alone in the forest without my pack members to help me, Azazel knew it was his opportunity to strike.
A few days prior to this, Azazel had stolen a dark potion from a witch. Specifically made for vampires, it allowed the user to enter the mind and take over the body of any person they bit.
All they needed to do was find a piece of the subject they wished to possess and put it in the potion. Perhaps a strand of hair or a nail.
I was sure that Adalee helped in this part of the plan as well. The vampire would then coat their fangs in the potion and bite the person they wished to control.
Afterward, they could enter the mind of their subject and take over their body. Just like Azazel had done with me.
“I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘All magic comes with a price’?” Zagan started to explain.
“Well, it seems as though the price that Azazel had to pay was creating a connection to you. You saw him with his army, am I correct?”
I nodded again. “He was preparing them for battle.”
“Which was a significant moment in Azazel’s life, a turning point. He was creating a core memory which I’m certain is why you were pulled there.
“He left a piece of his soul with you when he left your body. It’s not unusual for that to happen with dark magic.” Zagan frowned.
“The piece of his soul that he left with you wanted to be there for the significant moment in Azazel’s life, the moment when he started a war. So you appeared.”
My jaw clenched at the news. I didn’t want any part of Azazel in me. “Will he appear for the creation of my core memories?”
“No. I believe the price you had to pay for participating in dark magic—whether it was voluntary or not—was losing your mate.”
I immediately felt my wolf and vampire surge forward at Zagan’s words. I growled, showing him my fangs. “I didn’t lose my mate. She is mine. She will always be mine.”
Zagan raised his brows in amusement, obviously not expecting my intense reaction. This only made my wolf angrier.
I snapped my teeth at him and rolled my neck. I had to suppress the urge to shift. My wolf wanted control. He had wanted control all night.
“I meant no offense, Alpha Grayson,” Zagan said, watching me. His amusement was fading quickly as he seemed to realize just how serious I was about protecting my mate.
“I have never been in the presence of an alpha wolf. Forgive me if I said something to upset you. I’m sure your mate is fine, and the two of you will be together soon.”
My wolf calmed only slightly but stayed at the front of my consciousness. It enraged him to be reminded that we had failed to care for our mate in her time of need.
My hands curled into fists. I had an intense urge to punch something. The moment this war was over, I would have Belle back in my arms, and everything would be okay.
Afraid I would shift if I stayed in Zagan’s presence, I grunted and walked out the door of the room, intent on finding Kyle and helping to prepare for battle.
I could vaguely hear the sound of Zagan following behind me. I was glad he didn’t talk. One more word out of his mouth, and Azazel wouldn’t be the only Mortar killed today.
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