Feral Sins(9)

By: Suzanne Wright

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 Joey, I couldn’t shit on his memory like that. I won’t shit on his memory like that.”

Knowing he needed to tread carefully, he kept his tone gentle. “You think he’d prefer for you to be stuck in a mating with a wolf you don’t want? Do you think he’d want that for you? Would you have wanted it for him?”

“It still doesn’t seem right,” she mumbled.

He was impressed by her loyalty. “It’s not like we can make it look as though we met, fell head over heels and then decided to mate. We don’t have the time, and given my reputation, it wouldn’t look realistic. It would also give your dad room to argue your choice of mate. If it’s believed that we’re true mates, he can’t oppose that – it’s beyond his control.”

“What about your pack? Won’t they know it’s bullshit?”

Not wanting to go into the specifics, he kept his reply vague. “It’s a shitty story, but let’s just keep it at I hadn’t acknowledged to others that she was my mate.” That had made her death all the worse and then he hadn’t felt like he had the right to speak of her. Not many knew the complete truth and that was how he liked it. “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.”

And that’s all you need to know, he didn’t say but Taryn heard. She might have bristled at that but it would have been hypocritical; losing Joey wasn’t a matter she spoke of unless she had to.

“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 Warner being in their pack, but telling her that wouldn’t be a wise move.

A part of Taryn wondered what she was hesitating for. She wanted to get away from Roscoe, 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. Not exactly flattering and it certainly stung.

Taryn was surprised by just how much it stung considering that she hadn’t envisioned ever wanting to take a mate; it would have felt like she was betraying Joey. Yeah, that might not make a lot of sense given that they were kids when he died, but Joey had been the one person in the world created for her, just for her. Created to care for her, to accept her, to love her.

And because of that, just as Trey had pointed out, Joey wouldn’t have wanted her to be trapped in a mating she didn’t want. Joey would have wanted, no, expected, her to do whatever it took to escape that fate. This particular avenue, however, might be a bit too complicated.

“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 Roscoe depends on this should help you dramatically with your acting skills.”

The man has an answer for everything, grumbled Taryn inwardly. Could she do this? Could she pull this off? It wasn’t in her nature to cower from anything challenging, no matter how much danger or risk it involved. Maybe it was a lot to do with her latency; continually proving herself had always been a way of gaining some measure of respect. But this wasn’t just some kind of dare. This was her life and all about what direction she wanted it to take.

She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “My dad’s not stupid, unfortunately. He knows I don’t want to be mated to Roscoe. If I walk up to him and say ‘Hey dad, guess what, it turns out my true mate’s not dead and I found him’ he’s going to accuse me of trying to play him.”

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