They had been summoned to the Situation room by the Alpha, who would be there momentarily requiring an explanation for the ruckus they caused out on the grounds, damn near starting a bloody riot over Vivienne’s unfortunate reveal. LT’s steady glare was no doubt a silent question as to why he hadn’t been told about Vivienne’s origins, but Hammer and Brig had decided, albeit silently, that she wouldn’t be there long enough for it to be necessary that the Pipers be told. Vivienne’s status was need-to-know, only.
Gingerly Brig pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling the tenderness starting to fade; cracking it back, although annoying, was helping alleviate the discomfort of the deviated septum. He thought back to how familiar their touching was and how Hammer immediately noticed it. Knowing his cousin, Hammer would not put two and two together. He would think it was beyond Brig to have anything happening with Vivienne, especially with how they knew the Pipers would and did react to her origins. Brig had never become involved with any werewolf outside the pack; would never even consider it. It just wasn’t something the packs did and he wasn’t sure if the Alpha would even approve of it. Brig knew Hammer would not.
“Thank you, Vivienne,” he said in a monotone voice. Wordlessly she nodded, not looking at him.
The Alpha picked that tense moment to step into the Situation Room. He kept his hand on the door for a moment, giving them all a look of disdain mixed with humor. They were a bloodied, disheveled mess, and they looked back at their Alpha with varying degrees of embarrassment.
“I can’t even begin to understand what you three were thinking.” The Alpha moved over to one of the desks that lined the room in a U-shape and settled down. “I anxiously await.”
Hammer dropped his arms and spoke first. “It was a sparring that got out of hand. Little too much blood, adrenaline, and Vivienne changed in front of the Pipers.”
That was putting it lightly. Hammer left out the part about instigating the fight or that it was even between Vivienne and Brig. There was no good way to explain the situation, other than they had obviously not told the Pipers about Vivienne, who, in turn, reacted the way they had been trained.
The Alpha half snorted, “Really? That’s all? I didn’t just have my Pipers ready to tear the throat out of my grandfather’s adopted daughter? Which brings me to my next question.” He moved gracefully across the room, directly in front of Vivienne and touched her chin, lifting it as he looked closely at her bruises. “Why weren’t the Pipers told about Vivienne’s lineage?”
Viv felt the blush rise up into her cheeks at the Alpha’s proximity. All werewolves had their place in the hierarchy; Brig, as well as Hammer, would invoke similar feelings in any female of their kind, but the Alpha’s presence was deeper emotionally as well as instinctually, and he elicited the natural response to the evolutionary desire as the clear alpha-male in the room. It embarrassed Viv every single time, and she looked briefly at Brig, who watched with the bare hint of jealousy crossing his face. Her mate blinked slowly and then looked away, clearing the emotion from his face.
“Not telling the Pipers was my fault,” she said, resisting the urge to fall against the Alpha, as well as pull away from his touch. I think the Commander and Beta agreed that telling them would have been counter-productive. I wouldn’t have been able to interview them with any degree of truthfulness.”
“And you liked belonging,” the Alpha said just above a whisper, “if only for a little while?”
Viv inwardly winced when the Alpha whispered the truth. An ability to read a person’s emotions and tells was not only learned, but also highly valued with the humans. A gut feeling that was right with hidden, yet obvious clues. With their kind, the ability was always right, as well as being innate and very rare, typically among the minor-alphas of families, if at all. Viv was clearly impressed.
“Apparently, the Elder taught you a few tricks.” He paused thoughtfully for a moment as he lowered his hands, and then asked, “Are you Piper trained?”
“For your own protection?”
“I would imagine because your grandfather wasn’t sure what else to do with a teenage girl.”
The Alpha nodded. “Well, aren’t you impressive?” His gray eyes looked over Vivienne as he inhaled deeply, tasting her scent.
Book 3: untitled
I should probably come up with a title soon. It’s a prequel explaining the months leading up to Book 1’s adventure with a peek at when Brig and Vivienne first meet, and what almost tears the Pipers apart. A taste – Chapter 1.
“There is a difference between what we get and what we deserve.”
Viv stood on the edge of the circle listening to her father speak. They were in the training room after hours and away from the rest of Vigo’s brothers. She should be in graduate school, finishing up her coterminal M.A. degree in Psychology, but for the past year her father had been teaching her to fight. She was an adult, he said. Done with her studies, pursuing graduate work, but he requested her return early, forcing her to drop her classes. It had been grueling physical training every single day for no other reason than ‘she was old enough to learn’ now. That was the first and last thing he had said to her as to why he called her back early almost a year ago, yet she wouldn’t understand it until today.
“Do you know what I mean by that?”
“It could mean a number of things. People almost never get what they deserve – good or bad.”
“That’s common sense, Vivienne.”
It was the truth, she thought, but dismissed it. They were working with katanas that night, much to her displeasure. She wasn’t a swordswoman. It wasn’t that she couldn’t handle one; Viv just always preferred physical contact despite being a quarter of the size of her Hammerthynn father. He encouraged sword play, which meant he forced it on her. Viv would be good at it whether she liked it or not.
Her father walked up to her in the circle, his sword still sheathed. Holding it just below the hilt of the scabbard, he pointed at her with it. “Today you learn the difference.”
“That sounds ominous,” she said with a grin and was immediately rewarded with the tip of the scabbard across her cheek.
“That tongue, young lady, will get you into some serious trouble one day.”
Viv took a deep breath and swallowed back her retort. College had made her mouthy. “Yes, sir.”
Vigo took two steps back and let his rigid posture relax. His graying brown hair, more gray than brown now, matched the weathered scars on his face, and perpetual sneer on his mouth. He was six foot six and over three hundred pounds, compared to her five foot five and one hundred and twenty pounds soaking wet. It never felt like a fair fight to her, and it forced her to learn Vigo’s tricks even though he always seemed to come up with new ones.
“Come on, then,” he said calling to her with his two fingers.
Viv held the grip of her katana with both hands and bent her knees, readying herself. Vigo stood ten feet away from her, almost slouching. The odds of coming out of this fight the victor were slim to none. Stepping out of her tense posture, she held her katana not in her favored right hand but her left, seeing his eye look confused at her choice. Surprise was the only thing she ever had on him, for as many tricks as he had, she had to come up with more.
When his eye flicked to her sword, she rushed forward with her feet, kicking him in the stomach and pushing him back. She had hoped it would knock him over, but the man was a redwood tree. There was not enough momentum in the short distance to get that much force into her kick. So for the next fifteen minutes, Viv did her best to come close to touching Vigo’s scarred skin with the tip of her katana.
These were not sparring katanas, which could still do enough damage to sting, but the real thing. Vigo never messed around. He did manage to leave several bruises on her face and ribs with the scabbard of his sword, insulting her by not taking the protective sheath off. He knew it would piss her off, which it did to no end.
“You can hit me anytime, dear.”