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Blood & Bonds
Author: Scarlett Grey





The wolf I’m going to marry is Megan Chamberly.


It couldn’t be true.

I took a step back, then another, until my back hit the wall behind me. One of the paintings over my left shoulder shuddered, but I barely noticed. If it fell to my feet, I wouldn’t have cared. I couldn’t look away from my father. I thought he must be joking. He might not have a sense of humor, but certainly this was some sort of jest.

“You’re being dramatic,” he stated, glancing to the side with clear annoyance at my reaction.

“You just said you’re marrying Megan Chamberly, who’s been awful to me the last two years,” I replied, my shoulders hunching forward. “How would you like for me to reply?”

“With dignity.” He sneered. “This is exactly why I’m questioning the validity of your inheritance. You should know I have a duty I must adhere to, and I will not deign to marry a human to appease some trifling law. The pack must always come first.”

“You could have chosen any wolf,” I pointed out. I forced myself to stand up straight, forced myself to be honest with him, even if it was difficult for me to talk back to my father since I never had before. “Any wolf would have fulfilled the requirements of your duty. But you chose my only friend. Why?”

My father took a step forward. “I don’t have to explain myself to you,” he snapped.

“How is she supposed to help you and the pack?” I asked, taking a step forward. I had no idea where this boldness was coming from, no idea where I got the nerve to question my father about anything he did, because he was right – he didn’t have to explain himself to me. “It’s not like she comes from a neighboring pack you want to form an alliance with in order to protect the pack. This is because you want her. You’re looking out for yourself before anyone else.”

Without warning, he reached out and slapped me across the face. I froze. The sting of the slap didn’t even register in my mind. It wasn’t the pain, but the sound itself. A quick snap. My father had never done such a thing to me before in my entire life, and now, after this, he was willing to do it because of Chamberly? This didn’t make any sense.

I looked at him for some kind of explanation, something that would make me understand…but, if anything, his face hardened and his sneer only grew more and more prominent.

“I know you don’t understand it now, but you will,” he finally said. Words that might have been soft and understanding were sharp and cruel. He took a step forward and grabbed my face with his hand, nearly covering my mouth with his palm. “Megan is young and virile. I still have a duty to produce heirs to this pack. I only have you, and should anything happen to you…” He let his voice trail off, and for the briefest of moments, something like concern at the thought of losing me flashed in his eyes. But it disappeared so quickly, I was certain I imagined it. “She will be loyal to me because of her friendship with you.”

I gritted my teeth together. There was something in me that wanted to argue, that wanted to do something, but I refused to even try with his hand covering my face the way it was. Instead, I glared at him. I knew it was petulant and it wouldn’t do anything, but at least I could feel like I was communicating my displeasure in some way. I was just grateful my eyes weren’t filled with tears and he couldn’t see that the physical pain he caused was nothing compared to the inner turmoil I currently experienced.

“I wanted to let you know before the announcement was made next week,” he continued, dropping my face and allowing his arm to fall gracefully to his side. “You will give us your support, Adrya. In times like these, we need to show a united front. There can’t be any dissent in our pack.”

I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to point out that he should have thought of that before he went and made a decision like marrying Chamberly.

“And what of her blood?” I asked.

I hated myself for even asking such a thing. I never cared about her parentage, about the fact that she wasn’t a pureblooded wolf. None of that bothered me before. But if he wanted to claim he cared for the pack, that he wanted nothing more than the welfare of the pack without cracks of doubt, marrying a wolf with human parents wasn’t the right way to do it. Not everyone would see her as a true-born wolf. There was already dissent in his choice. Surely, he had to know that.

My father narrowed his eyes. He knew exactly what I referred to with my question, and, unless my eyes deceived me, seemed to take great offense to it.

“You dare impune her honor by questioning her validity as my wife through the context of her blood?” he asked. “I should whip you for the impudence.”

I stiffened. Another threat of violence. Where was this coming from? Why was he so terribly angry?

“You say you care about the cohesiveness of the pack,” I pointed out. Again, I didn’t know where this boldness had come from or why it chose to linger, but I was grateful for it. “Everything we do, we do for them, yes? This marriage isn’t putting the pack first. It’s putting your own selfish needs above them, above us –”

The door opened and my father and I snapped our attention to Matthyw as he strolled inside, looking as though he didn’t particularly care about the tension in the room. His eyes lingered on me and my heart skipped a beat under his scrutiny. My cheeks pinched, but I hoped it was too dark to distinguish it. The last thing I needed was any form of distraction, especially from him. His eyes narrowed on my face before shifting his eyes to my father.

“What happened to her face?” Matthyw demanded.

My father tilted his chin down, a subtle way to remind Matthyw that he was in charge, that he was the Alpha.

“What happens between a father and his daughter doesn’t concern the likes of you,” he said. “Who do you think you are, barging in here without so much as a warning, hmm?”

My mouth dropped open slightly at the blatant disregard for his relationship with Matthyw. They might not be bound by blood, but Matthyw was still his adopted son.

“I needed to discuss something with you, but clearly, you are otherwise occupied,” Matthyw said. His eyes found me again. “Someone struck her. Have you done anything about it?”

“The only thing I’m concerning myself over is my nuptials,” he said. “I intend to marry Megan Chamberly in a ceremony quite soon. Before, I hope, the Marriage Law goes into full effect and Grey marries me to some human.” He rolled his eyes dismissively before sauntering over to a sleek black cart where a bottle of whiskey and tumblers were stationed next to the tea. “So lucky of you, my son, to already be wedded, hmm?”

Matthyw bristled at the mention of his wife. “Not by choice,” he said.

“It matters not,” my father said, opening the tin ice holder and grabbing blocks of ice with a pair of tongs, dropping them in his glass. “You did your duty. You married the Stone pack’s second daughter in order to orchestrate a much-needed alliance.” He glanced over at me. “Perhaps you should tell your sister the importance of doing one’s duty, hmm?”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” I asked before I could stop myself. Though it was still hard for me to believe that I was capable of speaking to my father in this way, the fact that I continued to do so when we had an audience – especially Matthyw – was more than a little shocking.

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