Corrigan Fire:BloodfireBy: Helen Harper
The supplicant limped up, battle scars glaringly obvious. It must have been a hell of a fight for the werewolf to have sustained such long-lasting damage. Despite her obvious bravery at seeing off not one but two harpies, the Lord Alpha looked unimpressed. She obviously sensed this and kept her shoulders low and head bowed. Frankly, if she’d been in shifter form, her tail would have been firmly between her legs. Even with all the mingling scents in the room, the reek of her fear was overpowering.
He gazed down at her, looking for all the world like he was bored by her presence. ‘State your name.’
‘Camilia Waite.’ Her voice was tiny and there was a distinct waver to it. I growled under my breath. The Lord Alpha responded to brash confidence. Act like a terrified mouse and he’d treat you like prey.
‘The West Yorkshire pack.’
‘The West Yorkshire pack,’ she repeated nervously.
His face grew stonier. ‘What?’
She swallowed. ‘The West Yorkshire pack, my Lord Alpha.’
He leaned back, seemingly satisfied. Registering my growing rage, Staines put a hand on my arm. I shrugged him off.
‘So Camilia, tell me what happened that caused you to break Directive 19.’
She tilted up her chin and looked him straight in the eye. Good girl. ‘It was late at night. I was walking along the riverside when I heard a screech. At first I thought it was just an owl but when I heard it again, I realised it was actually a harpy.’
‘And you went to investigate.’
‘Yes, my Lord. There were two of them. They were attacking a man, using their claws to scratch him. It was obvious they were after blood.’
The Lord Alpha raised his eyebrows. ‘How so?’
She seemed nonplussed, blinking rapidly. ‘He fell to the ground. They wouldn’t quit. He had his hands up to try and protect himself but they kept on swooping down towards him. Every time he tried to call out or defend himself, they took a chunk out of him. They were going to kill him.’
He stared at her, unblinking.
‘My Lord,’ she hastily added. ‘They were going to kill him, my Lord.’
‘So you got involved.’ His voice was deceptively silky. I could hear the underlying current in his tone, however. He was planning something. ‘You took on two harpies and in the process allowed a CCTV camera to capture you.’
Camilia looked alarmed. ‘I didn’t shift! I knew there were cameras there. Besides, the harpies…’
‘I don’t give a shit what the harpies were doing. I’m concerned with what you were doing. Is it normal for a human woman to rescue a man from an attack? From an attack, in fact, by two giant, bird-like creatures? What is it that you weigh exactly?’
‘Er,’ she shifted her weight, ‘about nine stone?’
‘Are you asking me or telling me?’
Her voice dulled. Camilia, much like everyone else in the room, was starting to get an idea about where this conversation was heading. ‘I’m nine stone.’
‘What is Way Directive 19?’
‘No shifter is to draw undue attention to their human form by displaying unhuman-like qualities.’
The Lord Alpha smiled. It wasn’t pleasant. ‘Just so.’ He looked up at the assembly, his eyes flitting over everyone. For a moment his gaze halted at me, then continued to slide over the rest. ‘The law in this matter is clear. Camilia Waite is sentenced to three months’ detention and twenty lashes.’
The crowd sucked in a collective breath. I balled up my fists.
You appear unhappy, Corrigan. Is there a problem?
He didn’t even have the stones to confront me publicly. He was using the Voice to show his displeasure at my open disgust at his actions. Only pack alphas and the Lord Alpha himself could initiate telepathic, mind-to-mind contact. Once the conversation had begun, however, any contacted shifter could answer. It made it easier to keep control of us when we were in animal form. Or to keep veiled threats private.
I kept my expression blank. I think perhaps you are being too harsh, Lord Alpha.
The only sign he heard me was his dark eyes narrowing. Then he swept from the room, leaving the poor werewolf to her fate.