I showered first, hurrying down the hall and back with one of the extra-large towels I’d found in the closet in our room wrapped around my waist. While Tobias was out of the room, I sat on the edge of the bed and looked out the window. I wasn’t sure what to wear on the first official day of Alpha-Con, so I wanted to see what he put on first.
By the time he returned from his shower, clad in a towel similar to mine, the noise in the hallway had died to nothing. “I think everyone else has gone downstairs,” he said. “Why are you still in a towel?”
“I’m waiting for my Alpha to order me into some clothes,” I replied.
He rolled his eyes and dressed in khaki slacks and a green button-down shirt I didn’t remember ever seeing him wear. He usually chose jeans and T-shirts. Or the denim cut-offs he’d worn most of the summer. I’d brought a royal blue shirt and grey slacks I generally wore to work. Taking Tobias’s lead, I put those on and we went out to the hall.
Only Suzannah hadn’t gone downstairs yet. She stood outside our room, arms folded, looking like she was close to tears. “Did something happen?” Tobias asked her.
“The Alpha of the Erie Pack happened.” She didn’t sound close to tears. She sounded pissed. “Homophobic piece of shit that he is. He stood here lecturing the pack members he brought with him about why they should avoid you two. I’d rather not even say the rest of the crap he spewed. Then he pretended he hadn’t noticed me standing here and asked what it was like being in a pack ruled by the weakest Alpha in North America.”
Tobias rested his hand on her shoulder. “Let it go, Suz,” he said quietly. Suzannah took a deep breath. “We can’t afford to be in conflict with anyone else here. You understand that, don’t you?”
“I understand.” Suzannah spoke in a monotone. “I don’t have to like him, though.”
“No, you don’t,” Tobias agreed. “Just avoid him as much as you can.”
His hand shook slightly when he took it off Suzannah’s shoulder. He was at least as pissed as she had been, which explained the amped-up compulsion. He would hide it better, of course; that was what alphas did. They didn’t display any sign of emotion if they could help it. I would have to persuade him to talk about it later on, when we had some time alone. Otherwise he would hold it in and explode at a time when it might not be warranted.
The three of us went down the front staircase. The closer we went to the first floor, the louder the shifter hubbub became. I wasn’t sure how many packs were in the northeast, but from the sound of it there had to be close to a hundred shifters gathered in the dining room and parlor. And kitchen, we discovered when we reached the first floor.
Basically, people were everywhere. Zane stood in the hallway at the foot of the stairs, acting as a traffic director, though I would have thought he’d have assigned that job to his assistants. “Good morning,” he said with a broad smile. “You three are the last down. We have a buffet set out on the kitchen island. Take what you like, eat where you like, and then we’ll all go downstairs.”
“We’re meeting in the basement?” Suzannah shuddered. Since she’d been kidnapped by Art, she could barely tolerate places without windows.
“The house is built into a hill,” Zane replied. “A slight one, but enough to allow the rear of the basement to open into the back yard. There are plenty of windows in the room where we’ll be meeting. It’s just the best room for meetings, since it’s large and soundproofed. Noise from outside or elsewhere in the house won’t distract or interrupt us. Don’t worry, it isn’t like a typical basement room. You aren’t the only wolf who becomes slightly claustrophobic, Suzannah.”
Her eyes widened. She obviously hadn’t expected the Arkhon to know that much about her. Neither had I, and I suspected even Tobias was surprised.
Then again, the Alpha of a pack often knew what his pack was thinking and feeling. It was part of the magic that made him Alpha. Given that, it made sense that the Arkhon would have that power with all wolves under his rule.
For Zane, that would be an awful lot of wolves. I couldn’t imagine being responsible for so many and having all their thoughts rolling around my brain. I struggled sometimes just with the mate bond Tobias and I shared.
Zane winked. “Arkhons know everything. Go have your breakfast, you three. I’ll see you downstairs. Tobias, your pack’s status is first on the agenda.”
“What about my mate?” Tobias tensed as he asked. I didn’t know whether anyone noticed except me.
“We will address that.” Zane’s attempt to avoid answering was paper-thin. “I’m not certain when yet. Probably toward the end of the day.”
Right. That way, when all the homophobes flip out, it’ll be easier to contain them.