Oscar hates his life, but he’s too frightened to do anything about it. The last time he did the right thing—when he freed James, the bitten werewolf accused of killing the pack’s alpha—his father whipped him, and he’s still recovering from that. He knows he won’t be able to go through that again, but when one of the conclave enforcers comes back to ask a few more questions after they arrest James, he knows he can’t keep the truth to himself, no matter how fearful he is of the consequences.
Ignatius wasn’t sure his friend Fyfe was right when he called and asked him to make sure James really was guilty of murder, but now that he’s been back with the pack interrogating witnesses again, he knows something is wrong. He gets the proof he needs when Oscar, the new alpha’s son, tells him his father is behind everything. Ignatius is alone, though, so there’s not much he can do. Alpha Becket won’t let Oscar go, but Ignatius won’t leave him behind.
He’ll never forgive himself if he does, conclave rules be damned.
Oscar reached out to grab the bottle of water on his nightstand and grimaced when the movement pulled on the wounds that were still healing on his back. This was the first time his father had ever whipped him, and he hoped it would be the last time.
He was no stranger to bruises and blood. His father wasn’t a good man, and people—including Oscar—didn’t respect him. That meant his father had to use force for most people to obey him, and Oscar’s disobedience had been humiliating for him, so much so that for once, he’d ignored his own rule not to hurt people so much they couldn’t move.
Oscar didn’t regret it, though. He couldn’t, not when he knew what would have happened to James if he hadn’t freed him. He did regret not going with James, but he’d thought this would be safer for both of them. And maybe he was right. He had no idea what had happened to James since he’d left, and while Oscar was in pain, he was alive. His father would never kill him, not when he could be useful to him.
And he would be, as soon as he could move normally. His father had already told him about the deal he’d made with a nearby pack. They wanted a born werewolf, and he’d sold Oscar to them. He’d probably end up married to the alpha’s daughter or someone equally important, and he’d have to give her werewolf babies.
He snorted. Good luck with that. He wasn’t even sure his dick would get hard for a woman, and that wasn’t counting the fact that he’d be a prisoner, married to a woman he didn’t know, in a place he didn’t know, no doubt guarded so he couldn’t escape.
He opened the bottle and took a sip, grimacing when that movement, too, pulled on his wounds. There wasn’t much that didn’t, so he tried to spend most of his time on his bed, stretched out on his stomach. He wasn’t allowed to leave his room anyway, so it wasn’t that hard, but he could have killed for a painkiller. Well, not killed, but snuck downstairs to grab one. He would have if he hadn’t been afraid to be discovered because he was moving slowly. His bedroom door wasn’t locked, because his father wanted him to disobey so he’d have a reason to punish him again.
Oscar wasn’t going to do that. He’d had enough with one whipping, thank you very much.
The sound of tires on the gravel made him look up. He’d had to sit to be able to drink, so it wasn’t much harder to haul himself off the bed to go peek out the window. Every movement stung, but he pushed through, gritting his teeth. Finding out who was there was vital. Oscar needed to know, because if something was going to happen to him, he had to be prepared.
He leaned his hand against the window frame and took a deep breath. His legs felt like jelly, and he needed the support.
He pushed the curtain to the side and frowned. He didn’t know the bike, and he knew what everyone in the pack drove. Was it someone from the pack where he’d be sent when he felt better and when his father was more secure in his new alpha position? Maybe they’d had enough of waiting. Maybe they wanted Oscar to start making werewolf pups as soon as possible. Oscar wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of people thought that the only good werewolf was a born one, which was stupid, but then a lot of people were stupid.
The bike stopped, and Oscar moved closer to the window to get a better look. It took him a moment to recognize the man that took his helmet off, because he’d been in his room most of the time since he’d helped James escape, and his father had made sure that the only things he told the conclave enforcers were the ones he’d approved. Oscar wasn’t sure what he’d told them—probably that James had managed to get out of his cell alone—but Oscar was sure he hadn’t mentioned him, because the enforcers would have wanted to talk to him then.
His father couldn’t have allowed it, because he’d whipped him to the point where he could barely move, and he’d used the excuse that Oscar was sick and that he hadn’t seen anything to make sure they didn’t get close to him. Whipping pack members wasn’t forbidden, of course, but it showed he was angrier than warranted. Even if the enforcers believed James had killed Alpha Torres and that Oscar’s father had been angry that he was set free, who would whip their own son for that?
Oscar’s father was angry, yes, but he was also terrified because he was the one who’d killed Alpha Torres, not James, and he needed that to stay a secret.
Oscar opened the window once the conclave man was out of sight on the porch. He leaned closer, and he heard the knock on the door and the door opening.
“What do you want?” his father snapped. Then, in a more normal voice, he asked, “Did you find the man who killed my alpha? Did you find James?”
Oscar’s stomach churned. He hated his father. He was pretty sure everyone in the pack hated him, even though they didn’t know he was the one who’d killed their alpha. Alpha Torres had been a good man. The fact that he’d decided to help a bitten werewolf had created some controversy, especially when James hadn’t magically managed to control his wolf right off the bat. But Alpha Torres had been the alpha, and everyone had followed his orders. He’d always made sure the pack was safe and that all its members had a home and food to eat.
Oscar wouldn’t be surprised if that changed now that his father was in charge.
“We did.” The enforcer’s voice was rumbly and made Oscar’s stomach feel weird.
“What are you doing here, then? You have the killer.”
“My team leader sent me to make sure we have all the information and details we need.”
“He killed Torres. What more do you need to know?”