Chapter 26 - A Cover-up Story
Damon thought about how to explain Talia's presence to Caden and Maya.
"I'm responsible for her.", Damon said which got him raised eyebrows from Maya and Caden who obviously wanted more information.
"Marcy was in my room and this girl… interrupted. Because of that, she ended up in her current state."
Maya connected the dots. "Is she the Omega you mentioned, that got a beating from Marcy?"
"Why are you making it sound like you are responsible?", Caden asked. "If Marcy has a temper, it was only a matter of time before she snaps, regardless if you were involved."
Damon raised his hand, indicating to Caden to be patient. "That was the first time. Then, I went to Alpha Edward and told him that some Omegas are being punished physically and that he should talk to Marcy about it, and after that, this girl got another beating."
Maya and Caden exchanged looks, feeling that something is missing from the story.
Sure, Talia got hit because of Damon twice and even though he was involved, he didn't do it on purpose. These are internal dealings of the pack. As an Alpha, Damon should know that any Alpha won't tolerate others meddling in how rewards and punishments are given to his people.
Taking her away sneakily is stealing. Alphas consider their pack members like their belongings, because a pack builds strength with numbers. By taking away Talia, Damon indirectly weakened the Red Moon pack. Sure, she is not a warrior, but every member counts.
"You know that Alpha Edward can turn hostile if he finds out that she is with us, right?", Caden asked.
Damon rubbed his face with force. He knew that but… "You didn't see where she stays. I found her in the attic, bruised and bleeding among broken furniture and rags. No one cares about her."
"And you do?", Caden snapped. "You are aware that our relationship with the Red Moon pack is tense, and that Alpha Edward is working in the shadows while trying to topple you, and you just gave him a reason to go openly against us. Is she worth jeopardizing the Dark Howlers pack? Are you aware that this might cause a war!?"
Damon growled and his face contorted in anger. "What do you expect me to do? To leave her there to rot while waiting for another beating?"
"That's not what Caden said.", Maya interrupted with urgency while her eyes darted from Caden to Damon.
She can't go against her Alpha, but she didn't want her mate to end up fighting with Damon either.
Seeing that she got both Caden's and Damon's attention, Maya resumed talking calmly.
"We need to do this right. So far, Alphas who complained about us accepting their pack members were silenced by Elders after we provided them with testimonies of how they came to us willingly. We can't tell them that we smuggled her in a trunk. Only the three of us know how she ended up with us and we can't keep this under wraps because our pack members will see the newcomer. We need to come up with a cover-up story that will make sense because when Alpha Edward notices her missing, we will be the first suspects and he might send people to look for her."
Damon frowned at the thought of anyone from the Red Moon pack coming and searching for Talia. What if they take her away?
He got an idea.
"She didn't have the mind-link. She was brought to the Red Moon pack as a child and she never went through the acceptance ceremony, so technically, she is a rogue. We can say that she grew up with her grandparents and when they died, she came to this area and we found her on our way home accidentally."
"Who will believe that?", Caden asked.
"Make it believable!", Damon snapped.
"Alright, alright…", Maya said while waving her hands for Damon to calm down. "She is a rogue we picked up on the way. We will fill that with a few details to make it believable. How do we explain why she came to us and not to some other pack?"
"Something is off with her wolf.", Damon said. "Not many packs will accept members who are not in top form."
Maya thought that this is something they can work with. But… "Will she cooperate and confirm the story?"
"If she doesn't, it will bring trouble for us, and she will go back to the Red Moon pack.", Caden said and looked at Damon with disapproval. "I wish you spoke to me before stuffing her in the trunk. Considering that she is just an Omega and that Alpha Edward doesn't find value in them, we could have made a deal to take her with us, without risking complications."
"I didn't stuff her anywhere. She got in on her own.", Damon said irritably. Why are they making it sound like he kidnapped her?
Damon was with Talia in the attic and he didn't want to stay there a minute longer than necessary, so he came up with the idea to leave right away while smuggling Talia with them. He didn't have time for strategy meetings, but it worked, they are out, and they only need to come up with a coverup story and things will be fine. Why is Caden raising a fuss?
A sound came from Caden's phone and Damon's eyes widened in panic when he saw an empty bed.
Damon dashed out and ran frantically to his room.
He let out the breath he was holding when he saw Talia sprawled on the floor, sleeping.
She fell off the bed.
Damon shook his head helplessly because she was adorable while hugging a pillow, and he panicked like an idiot for no reason. Why did he think that she disappeared?
He walked to Talia slowly and carefully pried the pillow from her hold before lifting her up.
Talia stirred a bit while adjusting in Damon's arms to a more comfortable position, and he stood still like a statue as delightful sparks shoot through his body.
Damon laid with Talia on the bed with a plan to leave Talia sleeping so that he can return to Caden's and Maya's room. After all, with Talia's arrival at the Dark Howlers pack, they needed to make necessary preparations so that she has a place to stay.
However, Talia's head rested on Damon's shoulder and her warm breath fanned his neck as wonderful sparks overtook his senses, making him tense and relaxed at the same time, and he was unable to let go.
Talia was exhausted, and Damon didn't sleep for two nights in a row either.
Damon stared at Talia, engraving every curve of her face into his memory, and he didn't realize that his eyes were closing gradually.
In Caden's and Maya's room…
The couple stared at Caden's phone.
"Did Damon develop a split personality, or did we bring an impostor from the Red Moon pack?", Maya asked.
Caden chuckled. "Maybe they really drugged him with something that makes a man lovey-dovey and Marcy is now pulling her hair out because he left before drugs took full effect."
"You are not worried about this?"
Caden shrugged. "It seems that he cares about the girl. Why would I worry? That should be a good thing."
"Yeah. It should.", Maya said thoughtfully. "But this is Damon. Remember, our Alpha Damon? The one who uses the word 'girlfriend' as a cussword. The one who doesn't get close to a woman if she has clothes on. Are you telling me that suddenly his tender side is showing? I'm not buying it. This is too sudden, and that girl is NOT his type. Something is not right."
Caden had a thoughtful expression. "It's not sudden. This change happened shortly after we arrived at the Red Moon pack. I realized Damon's behavior is strange when he asked me how I felt when we met."
Maya blinked rapidly. "Damon was interested to know more about mates?" She looked at the phone where Damon slept while cradling Talia in his arms and Maya's eyebrows went up in slow motion. "Call me crazy, but I think that girl is his mate."
"You are crazy.", Caden said right away. "Damon hates everything about mates. If she is his mate, he would reject her and run for the hills, and not cuddle."
Maya smirked knowingly and pointed at the phone. "And how would you explain THAT?"