Corrigan Fire:Bloodfire(4)By: Helen Harper
His mouth twisted in mean malevolence. ‘Make a choice, Corrigan.’ He shook Camilia. ‘Submit or she’s dead.’
There was a good reason why he was doing this. Xander Brady was a canny bastard and he wanted me to save her life. His natural status as Lord Alpha was shattered as a result of my defiance but if I succumbed now in order to rescue her, there was every possibility he’d re-take that position. The cold shadows in his eyes made his intentions clear. He’d casually kill her, slaughter me and do whatever he could to ensure his prominence at the top of the Brethren for the next generations to come. There was a lot of strength in the senior Brethren members. He’d rid himself of them all to avoid anyone else breaking his authority. This wasn’t just about Camilia. It was about the fate of every shifter in the British Isles.
She moaned slightly. I looked into her face, attempting to convey the truth to her. Her pain-filled eyes flickered and she gave a tiny nod, her body sagging in resignation.
‘You can’t do it, can you? You can't bear to let her suffer,’ he taunted. ‘You’ll do whatever you can to save this pathetic excuse for a werewolf. That’s why I’m Lord Alpha and you’re not.’
‘I told you already,’ I said calmly, ‘you’re not Lord Alpha any more.’ Then I leapt towards him, aiming for his right flank to try and knock him off balance and give Camilia a fighting chance. Even before I could reach him, however, his huge hands twisted her head sharply to the side. Her body flip-flopped to the floor at the same moment as I slammed into him and knocked him down yet again.
‘Well, who’d have thought it?’ He choked out a laugh. ‘You’ve got more cojones than I gave you credit for.’
Rage ripped through me and I could feel the beast within taking over. My skin stretched and tightened, and my bones cracked. I was dimly aware of my clothes exploding into shreds of fabric as I shifted. Power surged. From all fours, I pounced, lethal claws outstretched and ready. I was going to end Xander Brady once and for all. Then there was a flash of something flying towards me and I instinctively jerked backwards in mid air, somersaulting to meet this new threat head-on.
It was Staines, standing in the doorway and still in full human form. Brady’s body was slumped and unmoving, a knife embedded in his back.
‘You don’t want to start your new career with blood on your hands,’ he told me softly. ‘There’ll be time enough for that later.’
I glanced involuntarily at the equally dead body of Camilia Waite, her eyes already clouding over and staring emptily towards me.
It’s too late for that, I said. The Voice filled my head, reverberating around my skull.
Staines smiled slightly, seemingly unsurprised, and bowed. My Lord Alpha.
‘We’ve put it about that Brady has retired, my Lord Alpha. The Othernet channels have already picked it up.’
My eyes narrowed. ‘Why not tell the truth? That you killed him?’
‘This is a time for unity. We don’t need to muddy the waters.’ Staines’ tone was even and calm.
‘You mean by suggesting you should be the one to be Lord Alpha.’
‘If I was meant to be Lord Alpha, I’d be able to use the Voice.’
I grimaced. ‘Challenge me.’
He didn’t even blink. ‘It would be pointless.’
‘Get others to challenge me.’
‘Nobody is willing to take you on, my Lord.’
‘Don’t call me that,’ I ground out. ‘I didn’t approach Brady because I wanted to be the boss.’
‘And that’s why you should be. Anyone who craves power should not be in power.’
I could feel lines of tension across my back. ‘Brady needed to go.’
‘I don’t want to be the Lord Alpha.’
‘There are thirty-seven rural packs. They require the Brethren, as their de-facto leaders, to be strong. Everyone has already accepted the change.’
Staines reached out and put a hand on my shoulder. ‘It’s natural to feel nervous,’ he said. ‘I am confident that you are the right shifter for the job. Nobody else would have confronted Brady.’ He turned his laptop in my direction and I glanced down at the screen.