Tommy was standing opposite a full-length mirror, adjusting his black skinny tie over the crisp white shirt. He only had to add the black suit jacket that would go with the elegant pair of trousers and shoes he had on. He hated to dress up and this was a brand new custom made suit Adam had paid for. Yeah, his mate could go over the top a bit when it came to clothes, but he had enough money to buy half of LA if he wanted to so a few suits for his Mate wasn’t a big deal to him.
But Tommy loved how Adam wasn’t bragging about how well off he and the pack was thanks to partly for inheriting the pack budget from his mother when he became the Alpha. Obviously that money served the purpose to help out pack members in need, build or update safe houses, security and so on. What Adam earned as a singer and his family money went to a separate account and he put a percentage of his “music money” into said pack budget. This pool was also fed by different enterprises the LA pack was running – clubs, shops, beauty salons and so on, where pack members had the chance to work, if they chose to. They could keep all their salary to themselves or sometimes add into the pool too. These enterprises brought enough money by now not needing to depend on the money the pack members earned with their work, but some of them liked to show their gratitude for the pack and Adam this way too. Adam’s childhood friend, Danielle was in charge of the money and booking and she did a damn good job at that.
The blond Beta wasn’t surprised about this budget, because the Burbank pack used to operate and earn money similarly. But this was the first time he had to represent the LA pack on a social event where they both supported the young aspiring artists and tried to build new connections which could come handy in the future. Ashley’s vampires usually also appeared on some of the elegant events and benefits for similar reasons.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea? I don’t like the thought of you not being on my side,” Adam stepped behind him, holding up Tommy’s suit jacket, their eyes meeting while Tommy let him help it on.
“Adam, we already talked about this. I won’t be alone. Longineu, Sasha, Isaac and Brooke will come in with me and a few others will be posted outside too. We’ll keep each other safe. You need the rest of the pack here.”
“I wish I could go too. Or if you didn’t have to go at all. But we are one of the main sponsors. Someone has to represent us…” Adam sighed as he watched Tommy button up his jacket and adjust it along with his tie.
“Yes. But you’ll be busy enough. Your father and his men will arrive shortly along with Zane to look over and sign the legal documents about our deal. That’s very important too. Terrance and Sutan will stay as well as Brad, because seeing a friendly face Zane and his guys might mean less of a problem,” he said puffing his hair up a bit more then he checked his minimal make up – just some eye-liner, mascara and lip gloss this time.
“Yeah, you’re right,” Adam nodded then turned Tommy around to admire the beauty of his Mate. “You look perfect. I’d take you so hard right in front of this mirror if we had time…” he snuck his hands on Tommy’s small ass to squeeze it hard.
The blond man grinned wide and lightly bucked against Adam’s groin. “I bet you’d want to mess me up, but unfortunately I really have to go if I don’t want to be late.”
Adam sighed heavily and gave one last squeeze to aforementioned ass while he rubbed his cheek against Tommy’s neck to leave more of his scent on him. “Unfortunately,” he repeated then inhaled Tommy’s scent and kissed the exposed column of his Beta’s throat. His wolf so wanted to leave his marks on Tommy, but the Alpha held himself back and straightened up, caressing the back of Tommy’s neck. The shorter man kept his head tilted back as a sign of his submission, but his brown eyes – into which some golden color of his wolf had seeped – were looking at Adam. “Please, be careful, Tommy. If something happens, don’t play the hero. Come home with the others right away, okay?”
“Yeah. We will,” he answered a bit out of breath from the closeness of his Mate and his dominance which was starting to get under his skin, drawing his wolf closer to the surface. Only a few touches and gestures were enough to awaken the beast and lust deep inside. Tommy hoped as hell that it would stay like this until their last breath. “Adam…”
“Yes, yes, I know…” he grunted and reluctantly pulled back, giving some room for Tommy to collect himself. The moment Adam put a lid on his Alpha powers, Tommy already felt incomplete. “You better go now, love or I won’t be able to let you,” Adam offered a weak smile.
Tommy returned it with one of his own and rolled onto his tiptoes to lightly peck Adam’s freckled lips. “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry so much. We’ll be back in no time. Now concentrate on Zane and Eber,” he patted Adam’s chest then walked to the door.
Before he could leave the room, Adam took a step towards him. “Tommy…” he whispered, waiting until the blond man looked back questioningly. “I love you.”
The radiant smile that he got in return warmed his heart. “I love you too, Adam.”
The ball room of the convention center was nearly full by the time Ashley had to step on the stage to open the event with her speech. Tommy was standing near a pillar in his neat black suit, Brooke standing on his side, the others patrolling not far from them. Their eyes never stopped moving on the crowd. It wasn’t surprising after all the attacks against both the vampires and the werewolves.
The short Beta wondered how things were going back at home where Adam, Zane and Eber were going through the details of the contract which would give Zane the new territories he’s wanted to put his paws on for ages, and also bind him to help out the LA or San Diego packs when they requested help. They hoped that even in such a tense time there won’t be a need for that, but they could never know. The sooner the contract was signed, the better they could prepare for anything that might happen in the future.
Tommy knew that both Adam and his father would make sure that everything was in order, but Tommy would’ve liked it better if he could be there with them to keep an eye on Zane. He seemed to be honest enough with them and looked like he was really into the Mating thing with Janice, but he was still mostly a stranger to them and they all knew well that trust had to be earned. Just because someone was an Alpha – or speaking in general – trust and respect wasn’t (shouldn’t be) a given thing.
“I’d rather be with them too…” Tommy heard Brooke’s voice from his right.
“Is it that obvious?” he asked quietly, but didn’t take his eyes off the other people. The crowd was mixed. Humans, wolves, vampires and a few other neutral creatures. Security was tight too, but Tommy couldn’t shake off a nagging feeling in the back of his mind. His wolf was kinda restless too. He missed the closeness of their Alpha and the pack. Partly because he got used to them being around, and partly because of the threats. It was obviously in protective Beta mode. The closeness of the wolves present from the pack at least helped on that a bit. And the beast and Tommy both always knew where every single wolf from the LA pack were in the room and outside the building.
“Just to those who know and are connected to you,” she shrugged.
“It is understandable, isn’t it? Adam’s right. It’s dangerous to be separate from the pack at such times.”
“True. But you said it yourself that we owe the public and the Queen this much.”
“Of course. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
Before Brooke could answer, the lights started to slowly dim and soon relative silence fell on the ball room as Ashley stepped onto the stage in an intricately decorated black lace dress, which was in nice contrast with her pale skin and her two-toned hair, which was put up in a complicated bun.
“Ladies and gentlemen, first of all, thank you for coming tonight to support our cause. This event is dedicated to supporting new talented artists…” Ashley started her speech.
For a while Tommy was listening to her, especially when she mentioned the sponsors (which included the LA pack, hence why Tommy was present). He hated such events, but Adam was right, one of them had to represent them and also to help Ashley secure the event.
As his thoughts turned to other matters, the blond Beta started drifting, his senses sharpening as he gave more control to his wolf. It has always been a strange state of mind for him. It was as if half his mind was occupied by him, the other by the beast, which otherwise usually lay dormant or watched things from the background. Now Tommy could get lost in his thoughts, yet he was completely aware of what was going on around him and thanks to the wolf’s sharp senses, their instincts would alert them of any lurking danger.
So when Ashley’s speech was interrupted by the lights completely going out as if there was a fallout, he switched into fighting mode in a split second.
“It’s probably just a fallout. Please, remain calm,” the Queen’s voice came through clearly despite the fact that she wasn’t talking into a microphone anymore.
The guests stayed calm right up until the moment that tear gas cans landed between them. The panic broke out in a second and they started running towards the exits along with the creatures that weren’t involved in the conflict most supernaturals in LA already knew about.
But there was movement from the other direction too, moving inside the ball room instead of fleeing with the crowd. Of course that was highly suspicious and just when Tommy wanted to warn his wolves, bullets started flying from above and from the thinning crowd.
“Get into cover!” the Beta shouted, seeing Longineu getting hit in the arm and he could feel through the pack bond that it was silver. “Hunters!” Tommy added as he tipped a table over with one hand, the other pulling Brooke behind it. Despite the tear gas that was irritating his glowing wolf eyes, he kept them open and tried to count the attackers. Glimpsing towards the stage when the smog opened, he saw Ashley being grabbed by her bodyguards that tried to pull her towards the back door, but then wooden arrows shot through the air and one of the guards turned into ash with an eerie echoing scream.
“Fuck!” Tommy cursed under his breath and quickly looked around from their cover. “I have to help Ashley. Cover me with Isaac!” he growled at Brooke, sending the order to the other short man through the pack bond then he was on his way, ducking and slicing up hunters with his partially transformed hand.
He could feel the others following his order and making sure no one would sneak up on him from behind. Fighting their way to the stage – where Longineu and Sasha joined them – didn’t take that long and soon the small group of wolves was pushing through a door that led backstage.
With their guards up they made their way down a corridor, Tommy using his nose to pick up on Ashley’s scent. Meanwhile he reached out through his bond to Adam to warn him about the attack. He could feel when his Mate got the message and from what he sensed, help was on its way. Tommy just hoped that they would get there in time.
Slowing down when the smelled the Queen stronger, he let his wolf senses sharpen even more, eyes turning gold and canines growing sharper as he stopped next to a closed door that led to a bigger backstage room where people could hang out before conferences or shows.
Frowning, Tommy turned to the other wolves, communicating with them without a word. They all nodded in agreement then Longineu kicked the door open and they entered, ready to fight. But it became a stand off as they could see Julien holding a wooden stake pressed against Ashley’s chest, right over her heart.
“Let her go, Julien! You won’t get away with this!” Tommy growled at him warningly, but he only got a maniac laugh in return.
“You have to be kidding me, little Beta! You’re outnumbered and as I hear, being killed off one by one by our hunter friends,” the long-haired blond vampire chuckled and the wolves could hear guns being cocked. Guns with probably silver bullets.
Glimpsing around, Tommy could see vampires coming out of the shadows from different points of the room and the gallery above. Cursing inwardly, he was trying to come up with a plan while making Julien talk to buy some time for both themselves and Adam.
“What do you want? Why are you doing this? I thought you were loyal to Ashley.” So after all the leak was among the vampires. At least that became clear now.
“He’s a fucking power-hungry traitor!” the Vampire Queen hissed, not caring about the pointy tip of the stake cutting into her pale flesh to taint the front of her dress with some red.
“Shut up, my dear Queen. I was asked a question. Where are your manners? We’ll have to work on that too, won’t we?” Julien grinned, holding her firmer to stop Ashley from squirming. “To answer your question, I want her. We’ll have a nice wedding and as King of the Vampires, I’ll rise to the highest position in this area. Because as you might know, we treasure our traditions and Vampire Kings are still above Queens in our society. Both in position and power once they mate and seal the wedding with blood.”
“I’ll never let you touch me, you filthy traitor! The Vampire Council will never bless our union!” Ashley spit.
“Oh, silly girl!” Julien chuckled. “As I suspected, you know very little about our politics and power. I have my ways and connections that would make it happen. All those years waiting and plotting, following your stupid orders and turning a blind eye on you looking through me like I wasn’t even there while in truth I was the one who ran most of your errands… That at least earned me the opportunity to build business relationships. And you, my dear Queen, will be the one who’ll request for our wedding at the Council. They would be pleased that their stubborn Queen of the LA coven finally found a worthy King for herself.”
“Unless you want your little wolf friends to die right here, right now,” Julien continued and to a nod of his head, the other vamps aimed with their machine and hand guns, ready to blow a deadly doze of silver into the wolves. “Are you willing to sacrifice their lives?”
To that Tommy growled warningly, feeling the restlessness of his pack members too. “Don’t listen to him, Ash,” Tommy’s hoarse voice came through, the wolf very much present in it, although the odds weren’t in their favor and he definitely didn’t want to die along with the others.
The Vampire Queen met his eyes with her own glowing pale blue ones for a long moment, clearly trying to come up with some solution to avoid that. But she failed, not seeing a way out of this blackmailing. “Alright, fine,” she said on an ice-cold tone.
The blond Beta heard himself snarl again, but both Ashley’s eyes and Brooke’s hand on his forearm warned him to stand down. At the moment they didn’t have another choice.
“But promise me that you’ll let them leave alive and stop the bloodshed in the ball room,” the Queen added.
Drunk on his triumph, Julien grinned wide and after considering it, he finally nodded. “Very well. I won’t take their lives. For now,” he agreed and signaled to the armed vampire closest to the door behind the wolves. “Go, tell them to retreat! We’re leaving.”
Tommy hated the situation, because he couldn’t do anything to save his friend but first of all he had to think of the safety of his pack. He could already feel that some were seriously injured and a few even died, leaving those dreaded and hated holes in the magical fabric of the pack bond. Gritting his teeth he tried to hold back another growl from that. But what only the wolves could feel was that the presence of their Alpha was growing stronger. Sending a non-verbal message to Ashley with his glowing eyes, Tommy tried to encourage her to hold on.
That’s when the sounds of a fresh wave of fighting reached their ears from the ball room.
“What’s going on?” Julien frowned, his smirk fading from his pale face.
“Reinforcement,” Tommy said and now it was his turn to grin.
“It doesn’t matter. I win today. And I’ll make sure to wipe out your whole pack and everyone else who might help you mutts,” he hissed.
He was right, they knew. Although Adam managed to get there in record time along with Zane and his men, the wolves had to let Julien drag Ashley with him, their bodyguards protecting that coward’s ass.
Tommy was outraged just as much as Adam in the other room and they shared a feeling of worry too. But not just for each other’s lives. Tommy was worried for Ashley too. Who knows what that psycho would do to her? Either way, they had to regroup and come up with a rescue plan. He wasn’t going to just sit back and let Julien win. No way was he letting that happen. He was going to find a way to persuade Adam and the pack with every means necessary. Especially now that the evil that’s been threatening them and took already so much from the pack had a face.
He knew if Julien succeeded with his plan, it was going to have serious consequences and not just for the vampires in LA, but for the wolves and everyone else too.