Hands grabbed my ankle, and I collapsed to the ground, barely time to catch myself on my forearms. How the hell had I missed that alpha lying near a quilt waiting for two challengers to end their fight? Upon seeing me, he must have decided that I was more desirable and snatched me instead. He made quick work of trying to get at my first claim mark. I growled at him before I went limp. Papa had taught me a trick that just might work with this alpha. He didn’t look too smart. He leered down at me like a hungry predator about to eat a willing meal. He leaned over me, whispering.
“You submit so beautifully. You’re such a beautiful beta.” The moment he was near, I shoved my fingers into his eyes. He yelped back, clutching his face. Quickly I rolled out from under him and darted to my feet, running with all I had.
Another alpha spotted me and came at me from the side. The previous alpha—now raving mad at what I had done to him—gained on me from behind. My quilt was located at the top of a cliff to the east. But I was getting closer.
I wanted to yell for help from Don. I mouthed the words, but my voice didn’t work.
Yet another alpha charged me. I saw a beta who had been pinned by him. Looking relieved, she dashed to her feet and made it back to her quilt. Her alpha gave her stone-cold eyes and turned away from her. While the alpha hadn’t thrown her beta out, it looked like she might. The beta got to her knees. Going over, she fell at her alpha’s feet, kissing them, rolling onto her belly. It nagged me that I might have to do that for Don as well. Either way, I had no time to watch the other beta and her alpha or think about the consequences that awaited me at my quilt.
A fourth alpha blocked my path. Shit. I was winded and tired. He jumped, tackling me to the ground. As he took me down, the other alpha jumped on him from behind. The one attacking from the side jumped in as well. I was smashed underneath them as they bit and clawed, trying to kill each other and get to me. I could barely breathe. I saw my quilt through an opening between their bodies.
Don was sniffing the other betas approvingly.
No! I wasn’t going to lose to any of them, and I certainly wasn’t going to let any of these assholes claim me. I decided to use their fighting to my benefit. Crawling through the moving tangle of bodies, arms, and legs, I squeezed my way out of the mass. I was a lot smaller than any of them, so I was able to fit. Had I been taller, it would have been impossible.
One of them realized what I was doing and grabbed my ankle, sinking his claws into my skin. Yelping, I kicked as hard as I could and freed myself. I got to my feet the quickest I ever had and raced up the side of the cliff. I saw my quilt only several meters away. I could make it.
Don glanced up from the beta he sniffed. The damned thing had the gall to roll around on my quilt. If the beta won their challenge and the alpha accepted them, the quilt now belonged to the new beta. Jealousy and something else flared up inside me. Rage. I wanted that beta gone—wanted all those betas off my quilt, but particularly that one, probably because of all of them, she had the most of Don’s attention.
I met Don’s gaze as one of the alphas chasing me grabbed my ankle, and I fell into the dirt. It hurt a lot, but I wasn’t about to stop. Head-banging him—and thanking every mosh pit I had ever been in—I crawled away from the alpha. On hands and knees, I made it to my quilt. A second alpha grabbed me the moment my fingers snagged the fabric. I didn’t let go.
“Get off! Don!” Would he leave me to be claimed by one of these savages? He had the right to. I had left him of my own free will. He was under no obligation to help me. But…he’d said he loved me?
The alpha punched my side, and I gasped, letting go of the quilt. I knew what he planned to do by instinct. Without thinking, I covered the back of my neck over the final claiming spot. Fangs tore into my fingers and the back of my hand, tearing flesh and muscles, and sinking into my bones. One of his fangs succeeded in going between my thumb and index finger, piercing my skin.
Agony tore through my body worse than any pain I had ever experienced. It hurt straight down to my soul. Was this the bond I had with Don being broken? I had heard it was the most painful thing a beta could experience, being claimed after they already had an alpha, even one who was still in the process of claiming them. Don and I had gotten further than I ever realized. I screamed as much as my trapped body allowed. Blood covered my hand. He bit, again and again, trying to pull my hand away.
“Don, please! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Please! I’m begging you!” Words spilled from my mouth. I had no power over them. My insides, my head, my heart, every pore on my body burned. I needed my alpha. This new challenger was succeeding in removing my death grip. Was this it? Did I finally push Don too far? Would I end up with a much worse fate? This terrible werewolf most likely lived on the streets. Maybe he would even turn me into a sex slave to earn some money. “Don…please…”