“So what’s this about?” Zane dropped down into one of the comfortable black leather chairs in front of Adam’s modern-looking desk while Tommy stopped behind his Mate, resting a hand on his shoulder.
“I talked to my father. He is willing to hand the Valley over to you, but first we wanted to ask you something.”
“I’m all ears,” Zane waved with his hand as if saying ‘continue’.
“The timing of your challenge is suspicious to say the least. Considering our current circumstances I’m sure you can understand why we feel like that. That’s why we have to see clearly. Did someone tip you off to challenge me now?” Adam cut to the chase as straightforward as he could be.
Zane’s smirk was small but like someone’s who got busted. “I’ve got an anonymous tip, yes,” he said and took his phone into his hand, tapping on the touch screen. “It was an e-mail,” he explained while pulling up the application then turned the phone towards Adam and Tommy to show said short e-mail.
“Now would be the time to challenge the Alpha of the Los Angeles pack. He’s distracted by some attacks against them. A friend,” Tommy read it out aloud, his frown deepening because the e-mail address wasn’t familiar.
“I tried to get more information from the sender, but as you can see, my mail failed to get through. The address was probably deleted right after the message was sent.”
“And that didn’t raise red flags for you?” Adam snorted as he leaned back in his office chair, watching Zane put his phone away. The flexing of Tommy’s slender but strong fingers on his shoulder kept him relaxed enough to keep a comment back.
“It was strange, yes. But my Beta did some digging and confirmed the attacks. That’s all I needed to know to make my move,” he shrugged, putting his ankle on his knee.
“It makes sense…” Tommy mumbled under his nose, thinking.
“True,” Adam agreed too. “Did they contact you in any form since then? I have to know if I can trust you enough to give you those territories but most importantly a member of my pack. Are you serious about Janice and the mating or is it just a game for you?”
“Is this an interrogation?” Zane asked, looking quite amused.
“We just want to make sure we aren’t making a mistake here that would affect not only Janice, but our and our ally’s pack and territory too,” Tommy chimed in using his ‘peacemaker’ Beta voice to keep the Alphas at bay.
“Are you sure you aren’t worried about Janice only because of your… history?” Zane looked at Tommy and for the first time he saw some possessiveness in the dark-brown eyes.
“She told you?” Tommy asked genuinely surprised.
“Some of it. You two used to be fuck buddies before you mated Adam. And that she was hoping for a while that something more could come out of it.”
“She was telling you the truth, but you know how mating works. I’m not interested in her that way anymore. I care for her as a friend and her Beta,” Tommy said honestly. “So no, it’s not about the history between us. It’s about making sure she’s going to be safe and happy like she deserves. That we all going to be safe. So… are you working with this faceless enemy or not?”
The tension jumped in the room, Adam and Tommy were watching every reaction visible and invisible from Zane. So far he was telling the truth about everything. They could’ve sniffed out if it wasn’t so.
“No. I don’t need such shady support. I’m a proud Alpha werewolf. It’s no secret that I’ve been wishing to get new territories south and east from Oxnard and that I can be an ass at times, but I wouldn’t sell said ass to do so. Sure, the anonymous tip came handy and I did challenge Adam, but that’s all. You can smell that I’m telling the truth. I thought I’d never find my mate but it happened and the promise of new territories fell into my lap along with the most important bond two wolves can share. I’m not planning on fucking it up, no matter what you might’ve heard or thought about me in the past. If we do this, it means a clean slate and I’ll hold up my end of the bargain. I’ll take care of Janice and lend a hand in need. My pack will be the buffer zone the San Diego outpost used to be. That’s what you wanted to know, right? I might be many things but I keep myself to my word,” Zane finished and for the first time the smugness was gone and he looked bloody serious now. It was easy to see that two of his dreams were about to come true and that he wasn’t bullshitting them so close to his goal.
Tommy and Adam exchanged a long look, communicating a bit through their bond until Tommy nodded and they both looked back at Zane.
“Alright,” Adam finally said. “Then we have a deal,” he extended a hand and in a moment or two he shook Zane’s firmly. Then they repeated the same gesture with Tommy. “Tommy and Chuck can deal with the paperwork later. Now it’s time to go back to our pack. I can feel them practically vibrating out of their skin from the tension of not knowing what’s going on back here.”
“Right,” Zane smirked satisfied as both Alphas rose. “And Adam…”
“Thanks.” That surprised both Adam and Tommy, but then Zane chuckled. “Your expression… Priceless! Let’s eat and party then. This is quite the cause for a celebration!” he grinned and left the study, leaving two surprised wolves behind.
“Maybe this could actually work…” Tommy murmured.
“Yeah. We just have to get used to his style,” he shook his head but looked more relaxed now. Another ally meant a greater number of wolves and a better chance to stand their ground against the hunters and whoever was moving things from the background.
“Are you sure about this?” Sutan asked elegantly sipping on a margarita as he was perched up on the armrest of the couch opposite another sofa on which Tommy and Adam were sitting, the Beta nuzzled under his Mate’s warm arm and side, the beer in his hand barely touched. All three of them were watching most of the Oxnard pack mingling with their own outside in the garden. There was a spontaneous grill party going on out there, the smells starting to get mouthwatering. Obviously there were a few members who had their doubts about Zane becoming their ally because they all had heard the stories about him. But they didn’t have much choice and the pack understood that more or less. The news was accepted relatively quickly after the private council was over between the Alphas and Tommy.
“We’ll keep an eye on him. Maybe someone could go with them to make sure Janice is going to be settling into the new pack without a problem. She might get biased about her feelings because of the pull towards Zane,” Tommy suggested quietly.
“Good idea,” Adam nodded, watching the wolves getting to know each other. The vibes coming from them were nice enough, they could both feel it through the link they had with each pack member. Janice was practically glowing from the attention of Zane and his Betas. They were all curious about the potential mate of their leader. “Who do you have in mind?”
“Brad,” Tommy lifted his chin toward the smallish but coy man who didn’t waste any time and was vividly explaining something to a couple of bulky wolves, who were laughing at his jokes as if mesmerized by the tiny and sassy man. “He seems to have found the right tone with them pretty quickly.”
“Yes, Brad is adaptable like that,” Adam chuckled lightly. “It came handy more than once. He’s a sneaky peacemaker.”
“A good quality in a Beta,” Sutan smiled then sipped from his drink.
Adam and Tommy just nodded to that then Tommy finally took a swig from his beer. “That might be a good solution if Zane agrees.”
“He’s going to. You felt how much he wants this deal because of getting Janice and the new pack lands,” Adam murmured, his eyes still on Brad and the other wolves.
“What do you want to do about the attacks? Will you involve them in the investigations?” Sutan turned his head to look at the mated couple.
“Not yet. He has to earn our trust. I was straightforward about that with him. For now it’ll be enough that his pack will be nearby, ready to help us if needed and keeping an eye out.”
The slim Beta nodded in agreement then took a deep breath. “He seems honest enough. A bit rough at the edges, but I felt no ill-will or hidden agenda behind his actions.”
“That’s good to know,” Adam nodded, rubbing Tommy’s knee absently. Sutan’s special ability had never let them down about such things.
“We’re waiting on some reports from Ashley about her end of the investigation. Hopefully she’ll be able to find out some new information about the attackers,” Tommy added, melting more against Adam’s warm side, their wolves cuddling but aware of the unusually high number of unknown wolves around the pack.
“Amen to that,” Sutan raised his glass then finished his drink off. “This new turn of events will probably backfire on our enemy’s plans. I just hope it won’t backfire on us…” he added then got up and walked over to the counter to refill his glass.
“Our plan failed.” The pissed voice was accompanied by an irritated growl in the phone line.
“How come?” the tense and hushed answer came quickly.
“Zane stepped back from the challenge because of a bitch who’s now his future mate. Adam gave him territories in their deal. Zane won’t try to kill him anymore.”
“Fuck. It was a good Plan A. We’ll have to go to Plan B then. I’ll let the hunters know.”
“Fine. What should I do meanwhile?”
“Act normal. Maybe drop a few comments among your pack about not trusting Zane and his guys. Or try to make him look bad somehow. Be creative.”
“I’ll try. How are things on your side?”
“The queen will be going to the opening of an art exhibition in two days. She can’t cancel it since she’s going to open it in the evening. She’ll take a considerable amount of her men with her for security reasons. But everything is prepared to solve that problem…” he chuckled lightly into the phone.
“Oh yes… Only those who’re loyal to her will be there. After tomorrow night the odds will be in my favor. My vampires who believe in the cause will have greater numbers in the nest than her lapdogs.”
“It is time then.”
“Yes. In two days time the veil will fall on my end and we’ll be one big step closer to reaching our goal and to get what we want.”
“Let’s just hope the hunters won’t fuck it up this time.”
“They won’t. I made sure to make them understand. You just focus on your task.”
“Excellent. Now if you excuse me, I have some urgent matters to settle for my soon-to-be bride,” the slightly twisted chuckle made the hair on the back of his conversational partner stand on end as the line went dead. He was glad that the crazy vampire was on his side. He was a twisted and nasty fucker to deal with. But soon… soon his own hiding will end too.