shifting for all of us, but we’ll get through it together. That’s why we’re here, after all.”
“Now let’s head to the den center before Holden and the other Alphas get annoyed.”
“The other Alphas will be there?” she asked then winced. “Well, duh, since Oliver is going and his Alpha isn’t Holden.”
Gibson smiled softly and took her hand. Oliver took the other, and they started down the path toward the den center. “It’s confusing with the three Alphas who have to work as one. And with all of us mating each other, bear, cat, and wolf, it alters the politics.”
“What does that mean?” she asked, fear slowly filling her. “I remember some of the elders telling me that before the Verona Virus hit, the Packs would mate with one another and then the couple or triad would choose which Pack to align themselves with. But you’re an Omega, and Oliver’s the Foreseer, it’s not like the two of you can switch.”
They both squeezed her hands, but she couldn’t relax her wolf.
“There have been times when mates are from different Packs and remain that way for reasons of their own,” Oliver answered. “We are not the first to deal with this. If I remember correctly, there was once a bear, cat, wolf triad.” He smiled at that. “The politics in that would have been far more complex than what we’re dealing with.”
She relaxed somewhat, but not enough. “If you say so.”
“I do,” Oliver said.
She opened her mouth to speak, but stopped as the scent of death hit her.
“Shit,” Gibson hissed and pulled Mandy behind him. She didn’t stop him since she wasn’t a fighter, but it galled her that she couldn’t help against whatever was coming.
“What is it?” she whispered. “Who is it?”
Oliver moved forward and lifted a fallen branch, letting out a curse of his own when he revealed the source of the scent.
Mandy peered around Gibson and let out a gasp. “Oh, God, it’s Claire.”
Claire had once been with Holden, their Alpha, but never as a mate. That hadn’t sat well with the female wolf, and she’d done all she could to gain the power needed to be worthy of Holden. Yet that’s not what the male wolf had wanted at all. Instead, he’d fallen for a human-turned-wolf, and had mated Ariel soon after they’d met. Claire hadn’t taken it well at all—an understatement to be sure. She’d ended up telling the SAU how Ariel had come to be part of the Pack, starting the series of events that had led to the internal war they were in the middle of now.
Humans hadn’t known how shifters were made until Claire had spilled the truth. She hadn’t thought beyond her needs, and had endangered them all. Instead of thinking shifters were only born, not made, humans now had another reason to take shifters, to study them. They had even tried to make shifters of their own using kidnapped Pack members, and when that hadn’t worked, they’d gone so far as to take Anya’s two bear cubs.
The SAU was now crumbling from within because their manic experiments had failed, but countless lives had been lost in the process. The Unseen were working on their own path to free themselves from secrecy and liberate those with brands and collars from their own fate, but it wasn’t easy. And frankly, Mandy didn’t even know all of it.
Claire hadn’t been sentenced to death by Ariel because the Alpha’s mate had wanted Claire to see all the pain she’d caused. Yet it seemed death had found her nonetheless.
“We need to find Holden,” Gibson muttered.
“No need,” Holden said from behind them.
Mandy turned at the sound of her Alpha’s voice and lowered her eyes.
“I can’t scent anything on the body,” Oliver said suddenly. “How can that be? I only scent death and Claire.”
Cole came out of the shadows then, the feline Tracker and the shifter with the best sense of smell in the den. He crouched over the body and inhaled, letting out a curse of his own. “You’re right, Oliver. The