I had to admit to myself, I wasn’t looking forward to that bit. The Timber Valley pack had a very scary reputation. Dominant, arrogant, deadly in a fight…Not that I thought Maxwell Battle would hurt me, but I suspected that unpleasant words would be hurled at my rapidly retreating rear.
I didn’t feel badly about tricking him, though. He totally deserved it.
Maxwell looked at marriage as a business transaction. He could care less what Camille wanted – he hadn’t even bothered to meet her before the wedding, didn’t find out if she wanted to marry him, he just demanded that she be delivered to the Timber Valley property the morning of the wedding.
Camille had called me up literally sobbing a few days earlier. She’d had to sneak out of her house to call me so she wouldn’t be busted by her step-uncle, the pack’s Alpha, and an uber-jerk from what I’d heard.
I had barely heard from Camille since she was forced to drop out of college a year and a half ago, after the death of her parents in a landslide on their property. Their house had been buried, half a dozen people had been killed. Her step-uncle, Kray Renker, had taken over as the new Alpha of the Iron Claw pack after her father died, and she’d had to go home to help take care of her young cousins, who had also been orphaned.
Camille was calling me to beg for help. She was in love with a nice young coyote shifter named Freddy, she told me, but she didn’t dare tell Kray about it because he’d never approve.
Kray had just informed her she’d be getting married at week’s end. Maxwell, an Alpha, was at the age where he needed to leave the family compound and start his own pack on his family’s property, and he also wanted to form an alliance with the Iron Claw pack now that Kray was a powerful Alpha who’d successfully expanded his territory.
She was desperate to get out of this marriage, and get out of Colorado altogether. That sounded like the best thing all around; every time I’d talked to her since she’d left college, she’d sounded more and more depressed. The bright, bubbly, girl I’d known was turning into a shadow of her former self. I got the impression that things were miserable at the Iron Claw pack’s compound.
So when she called me for help, I’d sprung into action right away. I happened to know a powerful shaman who specialized in disguise spells. I sacrificed most of my savings to pay for that charm, but it was worth it. She managed to convince her uncle to let her meet me at a coffee shop near her compound, to say goodbye to me – with two guards standing nearby, glowering at us. I’d clasped her hand, and slipped the charm into her palm so it could touch her skin and absorb her essence before I took it back.
The switch would be pretty easy, I figured. Saturday morning would be chaos at the Timber Valley compound. Tons of people pouring in, catering, family from all over, as well as other packs come to celebrate the Alpha’s wedding, and, if their pack was anything like mine had been, probably shifters from other species coming to pay their respects. An Alpha wedding was a big deal, and also an excuse to throw a wild party that lasted for days.
I knew exactly what building she would be staying in. I’d shift to wolf form, run onto the property, and nobody would even notice me, because of all the confusion. What’s one more wolf running around when there’s hundreds of shifters milling about? I’d sneak into her building, change into her form, she’d shift to wolf form, and make a run for it. Frederick would be waiting for her about ten miles down the road.
I would stay looking like Camille, and go through with the wedding, to buy her time. There would be ceremonies, a reception, speeches, blah blah. At least that’s how my pack did things, and all the packs that I knew of in California.