MoboReader> Horror > Bound

   Chapter 2 No.2

Bound By Julie Embleton Characters: 12291

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:01


"Have you seen how quiet it is out there this morning?" Karen asked, sliding into her chair opposite Nyah for breakfast. "There's not a soul in sight." She nodded towards the window where Nyah still had the curtains firmly drawn. "I looked out earlier and the place is deserted. It seems everyone's happy to follow Alan's request to lie low."

Nyah cradled her coffee mug between her hands and glanced towards the covered windows. "What about tomorrow night though?" she wondered. "Everyone will be at the pack house to vote – what's going to happen then?"

Karen shrugged as she reached back to tie her glossy red hair into a pony-tail. "We just have to hope Alan's demands for peace are kept."

Nyah didn't offer her thoughts on whether that might happen or not. Nothing Alan said, whether it be a demand or request, had to be obeyed, and a vengeful wolf heeded no order unless it came directly from the Alpha. Unfortunately, they had to wait another six days for that to happen. The Lamentation Phase practised after the death of an Alpha was an old and rarely observed tradition, but her father, being a stickler for the older practices, had requested it before his death, meaning the pack had to wait until the completion of one full moon cycle before Alan could be sworn in. Once every wolf had howled its dedication, the mind link connecting the Alpha to his pack would be established. Then, Nyah assured herself, they could all breathe a sigh of relief and life would return to normal again.

Saturday and Sunday passed slowly and without incident. Nyah went no further than the opposite side of the street where she packed away more boxes to finally clear the house for Alan and his family. Karen had insisted on helping and she had been glad of the company. With the tense silence hovering in the deserted streets outside she didn't want to be alone in the house she had only ever known as her bustling haven.

When Nyah woke to a pale, golden light on Monday morning a tangible sense of relief seemed to be spreading in the air with the sun's rays. The Show of Hands was now only hours away and once it was official that Alan was going to be their next Alpha, she hoped Simon would scuttle back to whatever dank hole he had come from. Energised with optimism, she had half the contents of the fridge spread across the breakfast counter when Karen got back to the house, a container of fresh milk in her hand.

"What's all this?"

"I'm going to make us a huge brunch, " Nyah announced. "It's my way of saying thanks for your help yesterday and a way of using up a few hours before the Show of Hands."

"I like your plan, girl, " Karen smiled, perching on one of the stools at the counter. "Good thing I got us some milk."

"Is there anyone out there?" Nyah asked, taking the carton and slotting it into the fridge door.

"I met Michael in the supermarket, and guess what? Apparently, Simon left on Friday night after the meeting and he only came back this morning."

"Where did he go?" Nyah asked.

Karen shrugged. "Michael said he didn't know, or care; only that he wished he hadn't bothered coming back at all. And he said he's never been so disgusted in his life. He said Simon putting himself forward is a complete insult to the memory of your father."

Nyah replied with a short, humourless laugh. "I think that was Simon's intention."

"And Michael also said that your self-control on Friday night was to be commended, " Karen reported with a meaningful nod.

"Believe me, " Nyah said, "I was barely keeping my wolf from taking over."

"Well, everyone is on your side, " she declared, grabbing the cookbook Nyah had set out. "So if you do happen to lose your control later this evening, I don't think anyone will be rushing to stop you from hurting Simon – me included. Now, " she grinned, tapping the page open before her, "would it be rude for me to request cinnamon pancakes?"

"Not at all, " Nyah laughed, "they'll go perfectly with the waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, muffins and fruit salad. We're going to consume our weight in food today."

Karen groaned and pointedly looked down. "Goodbye flat stomach, it was nice knowing you."

Nyah took back the cookbook and waved her away from the counter. "It'll be a while before the banquet is ready, " she told her. "And as it's for you I'm not allowing you to help, so go and relax."

"I have a better idea, " Karen said hopping off the stool. "I'm going to go for a run. Then I can enjoy our feast, guilt-free."

"Do a lap for me!" Nyah called after her as she ran upstairs.

"Wow, something smells good!" Alan said, breathing in deeply when Nyah opened the front door to him a short while later. "Please invite me to stay for whatever it is you're baking, " he pleaded.

"Brunch, " she smiled, "and you, Tanya and little Jack are more than welcome."

"Thanks, " he grinned, "but as I much as I'd love to, I can't. There's a lot I need to get done today."

Alan followed Nyah into the kitchen. "Did you say brunch or bake sale?" he laughed, seeing the table laden with freshly-baked treats.

"It's a thank-you for Karen, " Nyah explained, wrapping some warm muffins in a napkin and handing them to him. "She helped me to pack the last of the boxes yesterday and I wouldn't have managed it all without her."

"That's one of the reasons I came over, " Alan said, "Tanya and I both want to say thank-you, but we also want to say there was no rush with clearing out Alpha Morgan's belongings. Really, we were both happy for you to take as long as you wanted with packing everything away."

"I know, " she said, crossing back to the stove to check on the bacon. "It had to be done though, and putting it off was doing no-one any favours. Anyway, you need all the bedrooms free before Jack's little brother or sister arrives."

"Well, thanks, " Alan said again. "I know it wasn't easy for you."

Nyah gave a quick nod, it hadn't been easy, but at least now it was all done. "So, what else did you want to talk to me about?" she asked, flipping over a few crisping pieces of bacon.

"Tonight, " Alan said. "I think it wou

ld be best if you left it until the last minute to arrive for the Show of Hands. There's still a lot of anger. I think if Simon so much as looks at you there'll be trouble."

"I was thinking the same, " she admitted. "I just want to arrive, vote and leave. I don't think I can even bear to be in the same room as him."

"Leave it 'til after eight then, " he agreed. "And if it's okay with you, I'd like Michael to bring you over and back."

Nyah nodded. Michael was as wide as he was tall. With any luck she could hide behind his massive form and avoid being seen, or more importantly, see Simon Northfell.

Alan held up the parcelled muffins and winked. "Thanks, I'll see you later, okay?"

The front door closing sounded out and Karen came through into the kitchen.

"Good timing, " Nyah said.

"Morning, Karen, " Alan greeted. "Good run?"

"Yes, " Karen replied, brushing straight past him and heading for the stairs.

"Or maybe not, " Alan whispered with a grimace at Nyah. "See you later."

"Yep, see you then, " Nyah called after him.

Nyah let fifteen minutes pass before calling up the stairs to Karen. It was strange how she had disappeared for so long when she knew the food was ready. "Karen? Everything's ready here, if you are."

It was a moment before Karen came to the top of the stairs. "Yes, " she said flatly, staring down at where Nyah stood.

"Okay." Nyah turned back to the kitchen with a frown. Something was clearly up with Karen.

Whatever the something was, Nyah couldn't figure it out and the thank-you brunch was going down like a lead balloon. Karen sat quietly, picking half-heartedly at whatever Nyah offered, her face emotionless and any attempt at conversation shrugged off. Eventually, Nyah couldn't take the strangeness any longer. "Are you okay?" she said, putting down her fork. "Did I do something to upset you?"

"I'm fine, " Karen replied indifferently.

"Are you sure?" Nyah pushed. "You seem a bit. . . quiet."

"I'm fine, " Karen repeated.

"Are you worried about tonight?" Nyah prodded.

"I suppose I am, " Karen said, a welcome flash of emotion suddenly visible in her eyes.

Nyah felt the tension in her shoulders soften. "It'll be okay, Karen."

"Only if he wins."

"Of course he'll win. Everyone wants Alan as Alpha."

"It's not Alan I'm talking about."

For a second, Nyah thought Karen was serious; the tight set of her mouth and the piercing glare she flung at her certainly gave that impression. "You had me going there, " she laughed, but when Karen's hard expression didn't melt into a smile, Nyah felt her face slacken. "Karen?"

"Why shouldn't Simon be Alpha?" she demanded.

"What?"

"Why shouldn't Simon be Alpha?" Karen repeated, louder this time. "He has a strong bloodline and wants to dedicate himself to this pack. He should be given the opportunity to prove himself."

Nyah couldn't answer.

"And he has plans for our pack that could see us growing to be the largest and most powerful pack this continent has ever known. Our potential is incredible, " Karen gushed.

"Your words are incredible, " Nyah said with disgust. "Can you hear yourself right now? Do you actually hear what you're saying?"

Karen blinked once in reply.

"You support Simon?" Nyah asked, leaning towards her. "You want that deserter leading our pack?"

"Simon has plans for our pack that could see us growing to be the largest and most powerful pack this continent has ever known. Our potential is incredible."

"You said that already, " Nyah snapped, pushing away her plate and standing up. "What has gotten into you?"

Karen stared blankly up at her.

"Why are you saying this? Simon serves no-one but himself, if he becomes Alpha -."

"Simon has a strong bloodline and he wants to dedicate himself to this pack. He should be given the opportunity to prove himself, " Karen cut in.

"Stop saying that!" Nyah yelled. "What is wrong with you?"

"I'm fine, " Karen answered robotically.

"You're not!" Nyah backed away from the table. "You're far from fine. Why else would you be saying all this stuff about Simon? He's not good enough to be Alpha; he could never be good -."

"Simon has plans for our pack that could see us growing to be the largest and most powerful pack this continent has ever known. Our potential is incredible."

Nyah clamped her mouth shut and stared at Karen. Her face was lifeless, her eyes vacuous. It was as if she was staring at shop mannequin.

"Simon has a strong bloodline and he wants to dedicate himself. . ."

Nyah didn't want to hear the rest of the sentence. She already knew it. Turning, she fled, pounding up the stairs into her room where she slammed the door shut and threw herself onto her bed. Was this who Karen really was? Had Nyah been sharing her home with a woman who actually wanted that heinous man leading their pack? What about the things she had said when they'd been filling the boxes with her father's belongings only yesterday? 'Simon would never have dared to return while Alpha Morgan was still alive; he's such a coward, isn't he? I hope Alan's first act as Alpha is to kick him out of the pack.' Was she the same person who now sat at the table in the kitchen below? Nyah grabbed her pillow and jammed it over her head. She felt sick. What Karen had said, what Karen believed, it made her stomach roll.

From under her shelter she heard the muffled thud of Karen's bedroom door closing and she rolled over to turn her back to their adjoining wall. She couldn't make sense of what had just happened. Never before had anyone defended Simon Northfell, even when she had been younger, when Simon had left the pack, she could remember the talk drifting around her house. Everyone was glad he had left. Comments such as 'good riddance' and 'let's hope he stays away' echoed for days after his sudden departure, and years later, whenever his name came up in conversation the reaction would always be the same; hatred, distrust and a fear he would return.

Karen believing that Simon Northfell should be Alpha was terrifying. And what if she wasn't the only one?

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