Kray let go of me immediately, and stumbled back. Maxwell’s fur and claws receded and he grabbed me, and slung a protective arm around me, as I blinked back tears. His arm was so strong, and it felt so good to lean into him, breathing in his cologne and animal musk. My knees were shaking, but I felt his strength pouring into me and I began to calm down.
“Are you all right? Did he hurt you?” he demanded.
“I’m fine.” I resisted the urge to rub my aching wrist, because I didn’t want to inspire him to get in a fight with Kray on the spot.
My heart pounded in my chest. This was what Camille had been living with ever since Kray took over her pack? Why hadn’t she told me? Then again, what could I have done to help her? The Alpha made the rules.
The council of Elders, the thirteen who oversaw matters which affected wolf shifters as a whole, would be very unlikely to help out in a case like this. What could Camille have told them? Her new pack Alpha was a mean asshole? They wouldn’t care. They mostly only intervened when there was a threat of exposure to humans, or some threat to all shifters. They didn’t interfere with pack business.
“The wedding is off,” Kray growled. “I’m taking her with me.” He made a move as if to grab me away from Maxwell, and Maxwell let out a mighty growl of rage and went wolf.
I staggered back as he shifted, splitting out of his shirt and jeans. His snout shot out, his ears went pointy, and white fur rippled like a field of grass in the wind. He’d been wearing a necklace in human form, a strip of leather with some tokens dangling from them, and that stayed on him, dangling down. The rest of his clothing lay in strips on the floor.
Maxwell was a very fast shifter, turning in seconds, and he was, not surprisingly, one very huge wolf. Saliva dripped from his gleaming fangs, and his eyes glowed with rage.
Kray shifted too, into a big, sturdy wolf with thick gray and white fur. It took him several seconds longer than Maxwell, and Maxwell was significantly bigger than him.
I stumbled back away from them as they crouched there, snarling at each other. Then, abruptly, Kray shifted back to human form, which signaled his surrender. It wasn’t quite as submissive as rolling onto back and baring his belly, but it was a clear admission of defeat.
I was startled and relieved. This was the mighty Kray Renker? When he was up against a real Alpha, he didn’t seem so tough after all.
Maxwell shifted back, hands balled into fists, his jaw set with anger.
Kray held up his hands placatingly. “This should be a day of celebration,” he said. “There’s no reason to fight here.”
“You attempted to put your hands on the woman I will be marrying. That’s a reason to fight,” Maxwell’s voice was a rough, angry growl.
“She has disrespected me, and I can’t tolerate that,” Kray said. “I need to take her back to my family compound and teach her a lesson. An Alpha can’t tolerate disrespect; you know that.”
I shrank away from him, heart hammering on my rib cage. This was bad. If Maxwell let him take me, I was as good as dead, especially when he found out who I really was.
“Her behavior is now my concern, not yours. Are you attempting to renege on your deal with me?” Maxwell demanded. “Because that is the equivalent of declaring war on my pack. Is that what you wish to do?”
Kray swallowed hard, and then cleared his throat. I tried not to look at how incredibly well hung Maxwell was, but it was really hard not to look.
Ouch. Hurt me so good, I thought. Then I immediately chided myself. This was really not the time or the occasion to go all pervy!