C3 CHAPTER 3
Danica jerked back . “What the hell are you doing?”
“Why would you cover it with make-up?”
“Your mark. A female wears her male’s mark with pride, you’re covering yours.
" Did he force his mark on you?”
Danica was pretty much speechless.
I don’t know what you’re problem is – though I’d imagine it’s difficult to spell even for your psychiatrist – but no matter what’s going on between you and Cody, it doesn’t give you the right to know anything about what’s going on between me and Cody.”
“Maybe not, but I still want an answer,” he said gently in a calm voice.
“Did he claim you against your will?”
“Do I seem like the kind of person who would allow something like that?” She Said irritably
“I have no doubt that you’re trying to find a way out of mating with him if it’s not what you want, but I don’t think you’ve found one.
Now, "did he claim you against your will?”
“What does it matter to you?”
Gio took that as a yes. “Does your father know?”
She spoke quickly, hoping that if she just satisfied his curiosity he’d back off. “My dad’s a proud man whose only child is a latent daughter. He sees an alliance with a wolf as powerful as Cody to be the best thing that’s ever come out of my existence.”
“Died when I was nine.”
“You don’t have other relatives who’ll help?”
Not only was he poking at a very raw wound, but her body was reacting to him in a way that unsettled her. There had to be something wrong with her if she was attracted to a psycho. But, strangely, she didn’t feel in danger with him.
“What if I said I could help you?”
Her heart almost stopped. “Why would you do that? How could you even do that?”
“You could join my pack.”
Okay well that was unexpected. “What could you possibly gain from that?” she asked, immediately suspicious.
Yeah, sure. “There’s more.”
“Yes, there’s more. I have a proposition for you. I believe that we can help each other out.
“What’s this proposition of yours?” she asked curiously.
“I’m sure you’ve heard all about how I supposedly beat the hell out of my own father when I was much younger . Well it’s true. I did. And for very good reasons, none of which are important right now. I won the right to be Alpha, but my dad, my uncle and many other males banded together to banish me. I was just a juvenile; I couldn’t take them all on. So I left, along with some from the pack who disagreed with what had happened. We formed our own pack.
“Then we then got ourselves some territory and we’ve been content enough here. I was never interested in getting involved with any political bullshit or making alliances, so we always kept pretty much to ourselves. Unfortunately, that’s come back to bite me right on the ass.” Since he was Beta, my uncle has now taken over as Alpha, but apparently that’s not enough for him. He has applied to the council for his pack and mine to be united as one again with him as Alpha. Personally I think it’s because he wants our territory, but it’s probably to piss me off too.
It was clear to Wright by the expression on Danica's face that although she was listening with good intent she didn’t have a clue where he was going with this. “Of course I’m going to oppose his request, which means he’ll then have to back down or officially challenge me. I know him well enough to know he will not back down. . There’ll be a battle between the packs – one that I have absolutely no problem with. But I know my father had plenty of alliances and all of those will now be my uncle’s. Naturally he’s going to ask for aid from those alliances and we’ll be outnumbered.
“I’m sorry to hear things are pretty shitty, but I really don’t see what I can do – unless you’re interested in a sarcastic comment – and I don’t see what any of this has to do with Cody.”
“I need alliances, Danica. Your dad collects them like they’re coupons. If I had an alliance with him, I would have a link to his alliances and then I’ll have plenty of wolves to call on for this battle. Maybe it will make my uncle hesitate, maybe it won’t.
Alliances, alliances, alliances. “So, you’re asking me to reject a guy who wants nothing more than an alliance with my dad, all in favor of a guy with exactly the same motive?” She said loudly
“You could probably arrange an alliance without using me, so why not just contact him?”
It is a hard thing to do. Mr. Hart was cunning and ruthless , seeing how much Gio needed him he could probably do that by demanding some of his territory or by insisting he owed him a ‘favor’. Being indebted to an Alpha like him was never a good thing. Alliances formed through a mating, on the other hand, were more balanced.
He murmured silenty.
“What’s that?” She asked.
“With me, it doesn’t have to be permanent.” And he’d never hurt her, unlike Cody.
Confused, Danica shook her head. “Wolves mate for life.”
. “Of course we have to make everyone believe this is the real deal and that we’ve mated for life, but all I need is for you to remain with me as my mate until the battle is over.”
“Well then you don’t necessarily need me to mate with you. You just need me to act as though I’m mated to you.” She added.
He shook his head. “That wouldn’t work because I’d need to mark you. The second I do, you’ll be classed as my mate. It will be a real mating. Her inner wolf would really want it it growled in her .
“Look, even if I wanted to take you up on your offer, I couldn’t. My dad and Cody have signed contracts and my dad’s elated at the idea of having an alliance with Cody. He won’t stop it.”
He had thought as much. “Unless you make him believe that we’re true mates.”
Her tone was flat as she spoke. “I told you, my mate is dead. Everyone in the pack knows I lost him.”
“Many times shifters have mistaken a close childhood friend as their future mate. You’ll just need people to believe that was the case with you.”
She shook her head. “I couldn’t do that to Zan, I couldn’t shit on his memory like that. I won’t shit on his memory like that.” “When I informed my pack a few weeks ago of my plan to mate, I also informed them that my true mate died a long time ago.
That’s all they need to know.”
“They will play along that we’re true mates if it helps us keep our territory and stops my uncle from taking over the pack.” Unfortunately, not all of them were supportive of a Hart being in their pack, but telling her that wouldn’t be a wise move. A part of Danica wondered what she was hesitating for. She wanted to get away from Cody didn’t she? Well here was her chance. But it wasn’t as simple as that, was it? No, because her chance came in the form of another big bad Alpha who had a price for his help. Hell, two wolves suddenly wanted to mate her – two alpha wolves – yet neither actually cared even a tiny bit about her. She was a means to an end. “Even if I did agree to this deal, I don’t see how we could fake a mating bond. It’s an extremely intimate thing. Mates are all touchy-feely, they don’t spend a minute apart, they smell of each other, they wear each other’s mark and they have some kind of link that helps them sense each other’s mood. How in the hell could we ever fake a metaphysical connection like that?”
“We’ll only need to fake it when anyone outside my pack is around and that won’t be often. Knowing that your freedom from Cody depends on this should help you dramatically with your acting skills.”
The man has an answer for everything, grumbled Danica inwardly.
Could she do this? Could she pull this off? It wasn’t in her nature to have fear from anything challenging, no matter how much danger or risk it involved. Maybe it was a lot to do with her latency.
However, she supposed that when it came down to it, the question of most importance was:
Was she truly prepared to do what it took to remove herself from Cody's reach? Returning her gaze to Gio, she sighed again and then nodded she agreed to his deal.
He gave her a crooked smile. “Right decision.”. “You can’t tell anyone about this Danica, Not even your best friend. Especially when there’s a risk that someone will consider you safer with Cody.”
Unfortunately he was right. Her two best friends, Rick and Suza, were pretty protective of her and they seemed to find Cody completely charming. They didn’t see the coldness behind his smile. They would do everything they could to discourage her from mating with psycho boy here, and if that didn’t work they would most definitely go gossip.
Even if she had been utterly convinced that they would be supportive, she wouldn’t have told them.
Not liking her silence, he said, “I mean it, Danica, you have to keep your mouth shut about this. You don’t tell a soul.” We’ll see. So, can we shake hands on it?
Danica clasped his offered hand. “Note this: If you try to hand me over to Cody when he comes, I’ll claw your balls off.