Night after night, Logan is having nightmares about a terrible massacre that happened years ago when he was a Hunter, and he can’t get the violent images out of his head. The incident is one he feels responsible for and someone is sending him reminders of the brutal killings and thinly veiled threats. Logan confides in Nicky, who tells him to talk to his mate, Ian. He urges him to tell the truth about the dreams, because "if Ian finds out from someone else, it’ll be over between you." When the rogue alpha who has been sending Logan the messages tells Ian what he knows, it severely damages his relationship with Logan. Logan runs from the pack, and when the rogue alpha attacks Logan, Nicky tries to intervene and is almost killed. A terrible divide opens up in the pack between those who think Logan may be guilty of the atrocity and those who defend him. Marco and his followers are on one side against the rogue alpha and his supporters, who want to take over the pack. Who will manage to gain the upper hand? Or will this finally tear the powerful pack apart and start a civil war?
The clock was ticking on the wall behind him. Tick-tock, tick-tock, time’s up, time’s up. Logan sat by the window, listening to it and gazing out at the woods. He never tired of the view out this window. It wasn’t of the mountains, but of the forest that grew right up close to the side of the lodge. They reminded him of the Frost poem. The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. Miles to go…
God, it felt like miles.
Ian was downstairs questioning the prisoner. Before long he’d be back and asking Logan about that day up on the Ridge. What the hell could he say that wouldn’t make it all worse? That he’d blacked out in an alcoholic stupor and didn’t remember? That he’d been so weak and out of control that he’d allowed the drugs and alcohol to consume him and his own men to think he was a monster like his father who would condone what they’d done? To think that he would have applauded their initiative in getting rid of the wolves’ pets so efficiently?
He buried his face in his hands as the clock on the wall continued to tick-tock mockingly behind him. The door opened and Logan jumped nervously to his feet. Ian stood framed in the doorway, his face a still and silent mask.
“He told you,” Logan said softly.
Ian swallowed hard and took a step into the room. “You tell me. Tell me it isn’t true, baby. Please. Tell me every fucking word is a lie.”
Logan shook his head miserably. “I can’t.”
Ian shook his head. “What? What are you saying, Logan?”
“I told you. I can’t, because what he said is true. I did lead the raid on the Laurel Ridge Pack. That’s what he told you, right? It’s all true, Ian. All of it. I’m so sorry.”
Logan watched as Ian’s face slowly changed. He looked uncomprehending and stricken for a moment and then the anger rushed in to suffuse his face with red. In three or four quick steps Ian was on him, pulling him up by his shirt front and leaning into him until his face was only inches away. He bared his teeth and growled at him, a low, menacing sound that froze the blood in Logan’s veins. Sparks of fury leaped in his eyes and he drew back his lips in a snarl. “You’re sorry? Sorry? What are you saying to me, damn you? You’ve been lying to me right from the start? Laughing at us—at me all along? I’ve heard the things you and Nicky say about us—stupid wolves. Neanderthals! Is that what you think of me? You thought you could play me for a fool?”
He growled louder and then lowered his head even farther. Logan thought for one wild moment that he was going to kill him, and he almost welcomed it. Logan tilted back his head, baring his throat, waiting for the slash of teeth that would end this thing once and for all.
Instead, Ian gave a wordless cry and took Logan’s mouth in a brutal kiss. His hands tightened on his shirt to hold him in place as he crushed his lips down on Logan’s. Logan knew it was meant to be punishing and it was. Those moist, lush lips that Logan had kissed so many times ground into his with painful, barely restrained fury. Logan put his hands against Ian’s chest, but it was like pushing against a huge rock. When Ian pulled back for a breath and looked down at him savagely, Logan could only stare breathlessly up into his face. He loved him so much. Ian huffed out a breath and lowered his mouth again, stopping within an inch of Logan’s lips.
“Why do you have to be so goddamned beautiful?” he murmured. “Damn your soul to hell.”
His tongue slipped inside Logan’s mouth and swept gently over the inside before tangling with his tongue. He kissed Logan’s lips, his eyes, his cheeks and even his nose before moving to bite at his lower lip again. It would have thrilled Logan if he hadn’t known that this was probably the last time they would ever kiss. Ian was saying goodbye.
“Logan,” he said more clearly and the word held so much misery and pain. It seemed ripped out of Ian’s soul, and Logan half expected to feel the gaping wound it left behind bleeding out and staining his shirt with dark red blood. Ian pulled back and looked down at him for a long moment, holding him close in his arms. He searched his face as if memorizing it.
The one look he’d never seen on Ian’s face and the one look he’d hoped never to see was the one now on display. It tore Logan apart, but his legs somehow held him upright, though they were trembling under the strain. For a long time he had felt weighted down by every one of those deaths on Laurel Ridge, and he wasn’t sure how he was still standing, but somehow he was. He couldn’t buckle under the strain now. He’d kept this miserable secret for far too long, pushing it down and down so far that it only came back to him in nightmares.
“Why?” The word was forced out, hoarse and soaked with pain. Ian’s eyes were turbulent and unfathomable. For the first time in years, Logan looked into them and couldn’t find his way in their darkness.
“Why did you never tell me anything? You let me go on and fall in love with you. For years! How could you?” Ian said, almost in a whisper Logan had to strain to catch. “How could you? Ah, baby, I don’t understand.” He dropped his hands and turned quickly away, walking toward the door and then standing there in front of it, his back rigid with tension.
Logan opened his mouth to call him back, but the tears that were blinding him choked him to silence as well. They spilled out of his eyes now and trailed down his face, and he was helpless to stop them. He shook his head, dropping his gaze. Nicky’s words echoed again in his ears.
It’ll be really bad. So bad, Logan.
Ian stood for a long time, not saying anything. Logan tried to lift his head but it was too heavy with guilt and pain. He couldn’t look at Ian again. They both were steeped in agony, unable to move as the love they felt for each other slowly faded away. It seemed like hours but could only have been a few minutes. A huge chasm yawned open between them and Logan could think of no way to cross it, no way to bridge the gap. Finally Ian spoke to him in a voice that was hollow and empty.
“The council wants to see you. To ask you questions. I-I’ll give you a few minutes to gather yourself before…before I take you to them.”
“Yes,” Ian whispered. “Okay. Thank you.”
Ian still hesitated with his hand on the doorknob. Without looking back at him, he said, “Logan, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I…can’t protect you from this. I can’t stop it.”
He nodded once and his hand shook on the doorknob. Logan would have run to him then, but he knew Ian probably couldn’t tolerate his touch. He didn’t know if he could bear it either. Ian left, closing the door softly behind him.
Tick-tock, the clock nagged him. Time to go.