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Alpha’s Strength

By:Rebecca Royce

th you.”

Healer or not, he didn’t have to listen to her if he didn’t want to, except, he really did need to take a walk. Nothing irked him more than Lake being right. She’d be smug about it for the next week.

“I’ll go to lunch.” He sighed.

“You do that.” Her smile said he hadn’t fooled her. “I promise the company will still be standing when you get back and still be privately owned.”

He walked toward the door and stopped to stare at her. “You know you can’t work at the hospital. I get why, for you, this job is not what you want, but what you want isn’t possible. Not right now.”

Sadness poured out through her scent, unobstructed for a second, before she reined the aroma back in, and nodded.

Good wolf. He’d trained her well. All of his people learned they had to be on guard with their weaknesses. No undo shows of emotions to give the enemy an edge, including scented feelings. Not with the werewolf world on the brink of war.

Maybe his orders screwed up their emotional well being, but he had no time to worry about psychological damage while the wolf world collapsed around them. With no Alpha Prime to manage them all, the smart, individual Alphas of the wolf packs prepared for war. And everyone gunned for New York City. His turf.

Over my dead body.

Cyrus stormed from the room and she followed close on his heels. Outside of the conference room were the desks of some of the assistants, including his sister’s, which was situated right outside the door to his private office.

Apparently, she wasn’t done with the subject. “I know I can’t be in the hospital. I get all the reasons—full moon problems and the potential for discovery. But what is the point of living among the humans, if we can’t interact with them, Cyrus? Why don’t we go back to log cabins and hiding in remote, out-of-the-way towns? Why live in Manhattan at all if I’m not allowed to really live here?”

He raised an eyebrow, knowing his answer would sound mean. Cyrus had no choice. How could he pacify her when he didn’t know the right response himself? Lake and all the others needed surety from him, not indecision.

“You’re ready to give up your weekly manicure, your chai lattes, and your corner dry cleaner to go wash clothes in the woods? Feel free, sister. I don’t think you’d survive a week.”

Turning his back on her, he left her standing next to her desk. These were not questions they could answer today. Cyrus pulled out his phone while he approached the elevator. He had three texts from other Alphas. Travis, from Philadelphia, wanted to discuss visitation rights considering their new blood oath not to attack. Some of Travis’ people wanted to see distant relatives in Cyrus’ pack.

Ultimately, treaties drove him crazy. Too many potential disasters came to light with the more deals he made. Blood-oathing Travis had been a necessary evil, even if Cyrus would have preferred to keep his borders permanently closed. The days of passing notes between Alphas at a diner in New Jersey had long passed. The treaty obligated him to be in constant communication with the Alpha of Philadelphia. The endless rounds of texts saying nothing, but still crowded with meaning, he didn’t have time to decipher had replaced the simplicity of telling Travis to fuck off.

When the elevator doors opened, he growled and stepped inside. Two other texts came in from Alexei, the Alpha from Boston, demanding certain shows of respect while the Alpha visited Manhattan. He forwarded those notes to Lake. Let her deal with them. She’d decide if they’d reserve him a hotel room facing away from the sunset or whatever the bastard demanded to be difficult. Otherwise, she could call off the whole thing.

Cyrus really didn’t give a shit anymore.

Six months ago, he’d wanted a treaty with Boston to help keep New York City secure. Now, with the constant back and forth with Travis in Philadelphia, Cyrus wasn’t sure he should go any further down a worrisome road.

Cyrus stepped out of the elevator and crossed the lobby to the street. The noises of New York City greeted him. He’d heard tourists call it too loud, too busy, too tall of a city, but he found the sudden onslaught of sensory information calming. He couldn’t overthink things when he was in the world that was Manhattan.

Or at least that’s how he usually felt. At that moment, he wanted to crawl out his skin. What the hell was the matter with him? A growl left his throat, startling him. That was the second time in ten minutes he’d growled without meaning to. When was the last time he’d done that? Twenty-five years before? He’d probably been about eight years old, right after his first change.

Adult male werewolves didn’t do anything unintentionally—especially not ones who grew up to be Alphas. Control belonged to him.

He sniffed the air. A scent called to him, increasing his restlessness. In this case, the scent bugging him tasted like vanilla. But how to determine whose aroma he needed to find?

Cyrus looked left and right. This was New York City. Finding the scent of vanilla was like asking him to locate a needle in a haystack. Maybe whoever it was would go away and leave him with one less irritation in his cluster fuck of a week.

He stormed into the Starbucks across the street. Coffee, he needed some right then and there. If he could sharpen his senses and make it through the rest of the day, then he would let himself travel north that night for a private run—just he and the moon.

The smell of vanilla was stronger inside the coffee shop and not because of some syrup they used in the coffee. No, it grew in strength, far powerful than normal. Inside, his senses went high alert and his muscles bunched with tension. There was a threat. There had to be. What else could possibly elicit such a response from him?

He scanned the room until his gaze located the problem. Lilliana, the mate of the Alpha from Philadelphia, was sitting outside his office building in a Starbu