My father stumbled back. Blood spurted from his broken nose but Valen swung again, knocking my father down before pouncing on him and raining blow after blow while my father tried to block his punches. My father’s warriors that chased me here raced toward Valen as he pummeled my father. My father snarled, blocking the next hit and punching Valen in the ribs, then splitting Valen’s eyebrow open with his next hit and my heart raced as my father’s wolves circled around us, trying to get to Valen without attacking my father.
Valen punches my father again. When my father lifted his leg and kicked Valen in the chest, my mother screamed as they fought for supremacy. Valen is forced back and now an open target. The wolves charged toward him and I gasped, tossing myself in their way.
“Stand down,” I screamed, and my aura erupted out. My aura washed over them, and they all froze. The realization that my command actually worked on them shocked me, however I was technically their true Alpha but still I thought for sure my command would have no effect on my father’s pack since I was no longer a member.
Valen snarls and my father went to tackle him when Ava shoved herself between them. Both of them were breathing heavily in their rage, and I can feel that Valen was on the verge of shifting. I grabbed his arm, pushing him away while Ava and my father stood off. She was tiny between the two Alphas and if they attacked each other again, she would get caught in the crossfire and so would I. Thankfully, my mother rushes down the steps, tears streaking her face as she grabs my father’s arm, tugging him back.
“You knew I had a child?” Valen snarls behind me and tries to push me aside to get to my father again. My hand hits his chest as he goes to attack him. Yes, he had every right to be pissed at my father, but this wasn’t his fight. We are also severely outnumbered. This wasn’t supposed to happen, though the information was shocking that he knew all along. I didn’t want this to become a fight. Not for Valen, anyway. I came here, and I will not look weak by hiding behind my mate.
My father shrugs my mother’s hand off and wipes his nose with the back of his hand and spits blood on the ground. “Of course, I knew. I wasn’t about to hand over my daughter to the likes of you to use against me,” my father snarls.
“But it’s alright that you try to palm your other daughter off to him years later,” I scoff.
“Yes, to clean up the mess you made! All you had to do was have the a******n, Everly. Instead, now you have put my entire pack at risk for breaking the treaty. How was I supposed to know Valen would turn out to be your mate!” my father snarls.
“What f*****g treaty? I had a baby! A son, a precious little boy, your grandson, you didn’t just punish me, you punished him! You punished my son because of who his father is?”
“Yes, because you were promised to another!” he bellowed. “Your future was planned out, and you ruined it all!” my father screams at me.
“John!” my mother gasps behind him.
“To who?” Valen demands with an angry growl. My father glares at him before turning his attention back to me.
“You have done enough damage, Everly. Now get off my pack lands,” my father says, turning to walk inside.
“Sign the petition, dad. You owe me this!” I tell him, and he stops. His entire back tenses as he turns to face me.
“Owe you? I f*****g saved you!” he screams at me and I laugh.
“You… saved me? No, you abandoned me. You tossed me out in the f*****g rain and threw your grandson and me to the streets to fend for ourselves. You didn’t save me, but I should thank you. Because if you didn’t, I would be wearing the same rose-colored glasses as the rest of you here.” I tell him before looking at the crowd gathered.
“You are all blinded by your own ignorance and ego. Blind to those that reside in the city, those you all once promised to protect. Packs, packs are supposed to be family. Not one of you here knows the meaning of the word! If you did, your children and grandchildren wouldn’t be living on the streets. Wouldn’t be living in deplorable conditions because of a label you bestowed upon their mothers, your own Kids!” I screamed at them.
“The children you watched grow, the same children you taught how to use a spoon, how to talk. You claim you are the city’s elite, better than them, but you’re not. Because despite the labels you gave them, they stood up when the rest of you backed away. They stood up and raised the children that your mates pretend they don’t have! And if you think you’re good parents, then why aren’t you fighting for them? Love, nurture, protect, that is what a parent is, and not one you deserve that title,” I tell them.
They whispered amongst themselves, and I noticed more of my father’s warriors had appeared amongst the crowd, some in wolf form as they crept closer. I chuckle. He would have them attack his own daughter over the truth.
“I suggest you leave Everly,” my mother murmurs, glancing around nervously before looking at my father in horror. He looked smug and folded his arms across his chest in a show of intimidation.
Yet I don’t scare easily, not anymore. What should have frightened me no longer does. It was one thing being a rogue showed me. Fear changes and morphs into something else. You don’t fear being made forsaken.
You fear the next day and how you will feed your child. You fear them growing up with the label you hold. You fear the opportunities you know they will miss out on, you fear them being suppressed and silenced. I refused to be silent, yet I knew Valen and I were severely outnumbered here if my father ordered his warriors to attack.
Our pack wouldn’t get here before they ripped us apart, and there is a reason my father has the status he does, why he seconded Alpha Valen’s pack because they were just as lethal. The only difference is they didn’t have his pack’s numbers. But numbers mean nothing when they can’t get here in time.
Although I had no doubt we could take down a vast majority of them, I knew for sure Valen could and would d*e for me. I won’t let my son grow up with his father again.
“Get in the car Valen,” I tell him, not taking my eyes off my father. My father smirks as if he won, but he hasn’t, and he won’t.
Valen’s back brushes my arm as he glances around, realizing my father had called in the troops. He growls, pushing me behind him, but I grab his arm, and he glances at me.
“We need to leave,” he tells me through the Mindlink.
“Get in the car,” I tell him, holding eye contact with him. He growls, pushing me toward my car.
“Get in your car!” I tell him again, and he stops looking at me before glancing around before his eyes meet mine again.
“Everly, what are you doing?” he mind links.
“What I should have done years ago, now get in the car. I refuse to be seen as hiding behind you.” I tell him using the link. Valen blinks at me before growling.
“I am not walking away until I know you are safely in that car,” Valen growls loud enough for everyone to hear.
“Listen to your mate Everly. It’s time to leave,” my father says, softly. He actually sounded like he didn’t want it to come to this, which I thought was odd considering he ordered them here. The reputation all came down to reputation. Well, looks like I was about to earn mine.
Valen nudges me toward my car, but I don’t budge. “Do not ask me to walk away,” he murmurs, and I knew everyone was waiting for the Big Bad Blood Alpha to drag me away kicking and screaming, but if Valen truly meant what he said, that I was his equal, he would do this for me.
“Please, just this once,” I mind-link, and he looks around me then growls angrily before leaning down and pecking my lips.
“He touches you. I will k**l him,” he mind links.
“No, you won’t, but no one is d***g here today. Just get in the car.” I tell him and he reluctantly pulls away, looking at me.
“You’re not?” he whispers.
“I am. Now, go,” I tell him. Valen curses, not happy, but suddenly understands. He shakes his head before he chuckles.
“Just this once,” he says, pecking my cheek and walking off toward his car. The murmurs of him walking away from me and leaving me out in the open were loud. Shocked, he would let his Luna fend for herself. They didn’t realize I didn’t need to hide behind anyone. I was born an Alpha. It was my birthright, and now I am going to claim it.
“Run along, Everly,” my father says, watching Valen climb into his car.
“No!” I tell him, and he growls, taking a step toward me, and his eyes dart over my shoulder to Valen’s car before flicking to me.
“Everyone here will now bear witness,” I call out to everyone. My father growls. However, I keep going.
“I, Luna Everly of Nightshade pack, challenge you, Alpha John, for my rightful title and birthright as Alpha to the Shadow Pack.” I challenged. The collective gasp was loud as I challenged my father, who seemed stunned that I would dare challenge him.
My father glances around at his pack, witnessing the reactions of his members to the challenge. If he backs down, he will look weak, and I know he won’t. He growls.
“So what will it be dad? Stand down and submit or accept the challenge,” I tell him.
“You foolish girl,” he growls before looking around and pressing his lips in a line.
“Challenge Accepted, next full moon council Arena,” he snaps before leaning toward me.
“You are going to get yourself k****d. Rescind it, you don’t stand a chance, and you know it,”
“That is where you are wrong, father. 17 years you trained me, I didn’t suddenly forget, I was taught by one of the best,”
“Yes, taught by me, you think you can beat me. You spent years as a rogue. Think of your son.”
“I am thinking of my son. I can and will win. You forget why a title is handed down to the eldest child, each generation stronger than a predecessor. Step down, dad, you’re looking at the next generation, someone that rivals you now, your mirror only stronger. You told me that, promised growing up, I would be stronger than you one day. I saw no one bigger than you growing up. I held you up on a pedestal. You were my hero, but not anymore,” I tell him before turning my back on him and walking toward my car. Ava presses her lips in a line trying not to smile.
“You’re making a mistake, Everly,” my father calls, but I keep walking to my car and open the driver’s side door.
“You have until the next full moon to back out,” my father says, earning some gasps from his pack. He didn’t want to fight me. What father would? Even one who he claims to hate, no one wants to potentially k**l their child. Which is exactly why Alphas handed the title down. Rarely are they challenged for. It was also unheard of for an Alpha to offer the challenger a way out.
“Don’t hold your breath waiting for me, father; I would hate for the challenge to be over before it starts,” I tell him, giving him a nod. He nods before folding his arms across his chest, his face turning hard as he tries to hide whatever emotion it is he is feeling.
Climbing in my car, I start the car only for the passenger side door to open. I look at it to see my sister sit in the passenger.
“What are you doing?” I ask her.
“What I should have done the day he banished you! I am coming with you,” she says, plugging in her seatbelt. I smile, and put the car in reverse.