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Authors: Mason Sabre

Cade (22 page)

BOOK: Cade
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“Yes, but it wasn’t …”

Malcolm held his hand up to silence him. “I cannot allow members of the Society to choose which rules they will follow and which rules they will break just because it suits them.”

Cade was not about to defend the fact that—however well-intentioned his reason—he had, in truth, broken the law. “I apologise for putting the Society in this position.” Malcolm’s shrewd mind did not miss the fact that he was not, however, apologising for taking Phoenix in. Only for the trouble it was causing. 

“You should have come to me first. You have put the Society, me, your father, and even yourself, in a very difficult situation. You are a man of the law. This could cost you your job.”

Cade’s jaw clenched. Even though there were things he wished he had never needed to witness in his job, he loved working for the DSA. He loved the challenge, the mystery and crime-solving, and most of all, bringing justice to the community. It would cost him greatly if he was kicked out of the agency. “I know,” he replied evenly.

“However,” Malcolm continued, “I do realise that the actions that you took were honourable, and that should not go unnoticed.” Malcolm paused. “I find myself at a crossroads with what to do.”

Cade looked him square in the eye. “I will do whatever it is that you require of me. Just please spare Phoenix.”

Trevor shifted in his chair at that request, and Cade could practically see him sneering, even though his eyes remained on Malcolm. “I try to be fair to everyone in Society, Cade. The good and the not-so-good. Now I understand that you and your father have come to some agreement with regards to the half-breed?”

Cade swore inwardly and hoped Malcolm would not go into the details of that agreement. Not with Gemma in the room. “Yes.”

Malcolm gave a slow nod. “While his words as my beta are as good as my own in my absence, this incident cannot go unpunished, however.”

Cade nodded. “I understand.”

He stopped to take a sip of his water and then fixed Cade with a steady gaze. “On the next full moon and pack run, you are forbidden from shifting,” he began. “You are also to be confined to the cage for a period of no less than twenty-four hours. Twelve hours before and twelve hours after.”

Cade heard Gemma’s sharp intake of breath at her father’s ruling. The hairs on the back of his neck rose and his stomach knotted, but he did not argue.

“I know that I ask much already,” Cade said. “But please, I ask one more thing of you. I take full responsibility for Phoenix and everything he does. It is a direct reflection on me. I will pay for him in Society. I understand that he also has to challenge and defeat his maker in order to be granted full membership.”

“Yes,” Malcolm agreed.

Cade didn’t let his gaze waver from Malcolm’s. “Phoenix is still learning. He has shifted completely and has managed to do it every day this week. He is working hard to learn and accept what he is, but he is not there yet. The next pack run will be his first full moon.”

“Go on.”

“He will be alone if I am in the cage, away from me. He isn’t as fast as everyone else, and no one will stay behind with him. He is already afraid of everyone—a new half-breed alone and afraid on the full moon is not a good combination.”

“What are you proposing?” Malcom asked.

“I will do two nights in the cage if I must,” Cade said. “The next two full moons after this one, or forty-eight straight hours. Whatever it is that you see fit. Just please, I am begging you. Let me be here for this one. For Phoenix.”

“You have no fucking idea what you are asking,” Stephen growled at him, a muscle working in his jaw. “You won’t make it two days. You’ve never been in the cage.”

“You’re right, I haven’t,” Cade said, meeting his best friend’s angry stare. “But if Phoenix runs without me, I fear that something will go wrong, and then he will end up dead. The cage won’t kill me.”

“Not physically.” Stephen glared at him, frustration rolling off him in waves. “There are other ways to die.”

“Please, father,” Gemma said, desperation in her voice. “I helped him to take Phoenix in. I stayed there. I lied to you and the pack. I should be …”

“Gemma,” Cade cut in angrily.
Fuck
. He couldn’t have her getting into trouble over this.

“No,” she said sternly. “If you are to be punished for this, then I should be, too. I am as much a part of it as you are.” She turned back to her father and sat up straight, shoulders back and head held high. “I helped.”

Malcolm did not need to speak for his anger to be seen. His expression gave nothing away, but fury swirled in the depths of his eyes. He regarded both Gemma and Cade, then addressed Stephen without taking his eyes off either of them. “Stephen, can you run with the wolves?”

Stephen nodded. “Yes.”

“My son can run with your pack and the half-breed at the next full moon?” he asked Trevor. “They can run at the back.”

“As long as they stay at the back,” Trevor agreed.

“Can you handle him?” Malcolm asked, looking at Stephen now. “If he rages?”

“Yes,” he said cautiously.

With a curt nod, Malcolm turned back to Cade. “I take your offer of two nights in the cage,” he said. He fixed his eyes on Gemma and there was nothing gentle in his voice when he spoke again. He spoke as their alpha, strict and unyielding. “But you will do a night each. Stephen will run with the boy.”

Cade heard Stephen mutter a curse, but like him, they could say nothing. If they did, it could mean added punishment, worse than what they had just got. He clenched his jaw and stared at Gemma, wanting to shout at her for speaking up. She continued to sit there with her head held high, accepting her punishment even though Cade was sure she must be scared out of her wits at the prospect of the cage. Hell, he was. But the thought of Gemma going through it was tearing him to pieces inside. He’d do a week if it meant she’d get a pass, but he knew that proposing that to Malcolm would only anger him more. He kept his mouth shut and faced Malcolm once more. Furious as he was with her, though, Cade was amazed at what she has just done for him. She had literally put herself in the line of fire for him, and while he cursed her stubborn head, he couldn’t deny the warmth that spread through him that she had been willing to do that for him. Not that she wouldn’t hear it from him later on, he scowled, and he was sure she’d be getting an earful from Stephen as well. God damn headstrong woman. 

Trevor sat back in his chair, looking completely unperturbed by the fact that his son would be facing twenty-four hours in the cage soon. Aaron’s expression was unreadable, showing neither glee nor disappointment. Malcolm moved on. “Where are we with locating his maker?”

Cade forced himself to focus on the question. “I have been going through the list of names. Phoenix gave me some idea of location—now I just need to narrow it down.”

“Give the list to your father,” Malcolm said tersely. “Trevor, you and Aaron can deal with finding his maker. I want Cade dealing with the boy’s training. We have three weeks to the
Humans’
deadline. Phoenix has that amount of time to prove to me that he can fit in with us. Challenging his maker or not, if he doesn’t fit, he goes. I will not tolerate any attack, rage or even a hair out of place. I will hand him over to the
Humans
. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I am putting my neck out for this boy. Do not make me regret it.”

“No, sir.”

“Before we close this meeting, there is another condition that was agreed to with your father,” Malcolm said.

Cade froze and threw a quick glance at Gemma.
Shit
.

“Stephen, you need to note this down for the records.” Stephen bent over his notes, pen in hand, and Cade braced himself. He didn’t look at Gemma at all—he couldn’t. “Cadence MacDonald has also agreed to his father, Trevor MacDonald’s terms, that he take the hand of one of the Castle girls. He will choose one as his mate and fulfil that promise when Aaron has mated and has his firstborn.”

Stephen stopped writing mid-sentence and his head shot up to look at Cade. Cade could almost hear all of Stephen’s silent swearing that was aimed at him in that moment. His expression told him that Gemma wasn’t the only one who was going to get an earful from her brother later on. But Cade’s concern at the moment wasn’t Stephen—it was concentrated completely on Gemma. Her gaze had flown to Cade at Malcolm’s announcement, and the disbelief and hurt that was written all over her face destroyed him. Is this correct?” Malcolm inquired of Trevor.

“That is what you said, isn’t it, Cade?” The smugness in Trevor’s voice made Cade want to ram his fist into his father’s self-satisfied face.

All eyes were on Cade, waiting for his reply. But there was only one set of eyes he cared about, and they were watching him with such a look of hurt in them that he could barely bring himself to answer. All his senses filled with Gemma alone, he looked at Malcolm, ignoring his father, and said, “That is correct. I will mate with one of the Castle girls when Aaron has his firstborn.” He was sure he had never hated his father more in his life than in that moment.

He barely heard the rest of Malcolm’s words as he closed the meeting and thanked everyone for coming. With every inch of willpower he had, he forced himself not to get up and run after Gemma as she stood and walked out of the room without sparing him another glance.

Chapter Twenty-Five

 

As Gemma stared out into the darkness of the river, she hugged herself to stop the shivers that racked her body. Her teeth chattered as the rain lashed down on her flimsily-clad body, whipping against her face and cold, bare arms. Her light, summer dress did nothing to protect her from the downpour. It stuck to her like a second skin. She slumped against the bonnet of her brother’s car and let her tears flow freely, her heart feeling as if it had been shredded into pieces, the pain in her chest making it difficult to breathe.

Cade’s face came into her mind, the feel of his mouth on hers, the clean, masculine scent of him. Each memory brought on a fresh wave of tears that soon became heaving sobs. She lifted her face to the rain and screamed her hurt and frustration into the night.

She was such a fool and she knew it. She had read all of the signs wrong—she had read them with her heart and not her head, and she had taken it that he would be hers. She was so stupid—so god damn stupid.

She made herself stand up and walk around the car, each step heavy and forced. She slipped into the driver’s side and just sat there, uncaring that she was getting the interior wet.

She glanced into the rear-view mirror and stared at herself. Her eyes were red and puffy and black mascara streaked down her cheeks.
Stop it. Just fucking stop it.
She wiped her face with the back of her hand and took a deep, calming breath.

She couldn’t bear the thought of going home, her mind and
tiger
rebelling against the idea. She didn’t want to go back to that place where her heart lay broken and scattered on the floor of a meeting room. Another sob racked her body. All she could see was Cade. She wanted to go to him—she needed to so badly, even though it went against everything she had ever told herself about men. Don’t chase them. Don’t
ever
. Don’t go back when they hurt you.

For a moment, she considered going to her friend Shelly’s house. She just couldn’t go home. Shelly would listen, she’d sit and let Gemma get it all out, not once judging or stating the obvious—what an idiot she was for falling in love with her brother’s best friend.
Yes
, she decided.
I’ll go to Shelly’s
.

She turned the key in the ignition and the car roared to life. Flicking on the headlights, she put the car into reverse and backed out of the car park by the river. But as she pulled out onto the road, she drove past the turn-off that led to Shelly’s house, continued straight ahead, and found herself turning left toward the bridge.

The windshield wipers swung back and forth, desperate in their attempt to clear the rain from blocking the view, but they couldn’t keep up. Gemma drove without thinking—her body having made up its own mind about where she was going—and when Cade’s house came into view, she put her foot down before her brain kicked in and she could change her mind.

She spotted him instantly—she would recognise that tall, well-toned body anywhere. The boot of his car was up and he was busy throwing in what looked like a box. The muscles of his arms stood out in stark relief as he hauled the box into the back, his shirt clinging to his broad shoulders and back as the rain soaked through in a matter of minutes. He turned at the sound of the car and hesitated. Gemma’s heart did a somersault. He was so dangerously male. Her body’s reaction was immediate, uncontrollable. She ached for him—and he had gone and promised himself to another woman. She slowed and stopped across the road, leaving the engine running. This was a mistake. She needed to turn the car around and leave right now. Cade didn’t want her. He had agreed to mate with someone else. She was nothing to him—just a stupid girl who had worn her heart on her sleeve and made a fool of herself. 

 

 

Cade dumped the box of papers aimed for Trevor in the boot, cursing under his breath at the way the whole meeting had gone tonight. The look on Gemma’s face was forever scorched onto his brain—he would never forget the betrayal and hurt in her eyes. He turned at the sound of a car engine and paused when he saw Stephen’s car. Seems his best friend couldn’t wait till the morning to come and ask him what the hell he thought he was doing.

Instead of driving in and parking behind his car, like he usually did, he pulled up on the opposite side of the road with the engine still running. Cade’s senses prickled with a strange foreboding, rooting him to the spot when he would have run back inside and out of the torrential downpour to wait for Stephen there. Something wasn’t right. He went absolutely still, the sound of the beating rain ringing loud in his ears. Stephen cut the engine and opened the car door. Cade’s heart flipped over. It wasn’t Stephen who emerged, but Gemma. She was already as soaked as he was. Her auburn hair was plastered to her head and face, her skimpy dress clinging to her curves so that he could practically imagine her wearing nothing. His body grew hard and desire flared, his mind short-circuiting at the sight of her. Yet neither of them moved—they stood there staring at one another as the rain pummelled down on them. Her chest rose and fell sharply, and he could tell she had been crying even from this distance.

Without thinking, Cade reached up and slammed down the boot of his car, and then he was moving toward her with long, powerful strides.

Gemma continued to just stand in the middle of the road, tears streaming down her face to mingle with the raindrops already there. She put up her hand to stop him coming closer when he was just a few feet away. “Is it true?” she cried over the thunderous pounding of the rain. “Tell me if it is true.”

Cade opened his mouth then promptly shut it again. He wanted to tell her it wasn’t true, but that would be a lie. He had made a deal with his father—one that he had no idea how to get out of or even if it were possible at all. He stood there staring at her with desperation in his eyes. “I …” he started, not knowing what the hell to say. How did he explain it all to her?

Gemma marched over to him when he didn’t answer her until she was standing right in front of him, eyes red and swollen. “Tell me, Cade,” she shouted. “You owe it to me. Tell me if it is true. Are you going to mate with someone else?”

The words stuck in his throat. Mating was forever—it was unbreakable. It was promising to be with someone for the rest of their lives and to be true to them until the day one of them died. And yes, he had mated … but he couldn’t bring himself to say the words. He couldn’t say yes, because that was what Gemma didn’t know. She’d already taken that part of him.

“I deserve to know, Cade. This isn’t fair.”

“It’s not what you think …”

She gave an incredulous laugh and threw her arms up in the air at his response. Spinning on her heel, she took two, angry steps toward the car before stopping abruptly and swivelling back around to face him again.

“Was I just a fling to you? Was that it? Another number on the Stephen and Cade list of conquests?”

“No,” he said, agony ripping through him at the sight of her pain. “You were never that.” All he wanted to do was wrap his arms around her and tell her that it wasn’t true. He wanted to promise her everything would be okay.

“Then what. Tell me. Explain it to me so that I can understand.”

“Everything,” he yelled. “You are everything. Don’t you see that?”

Her lips parted in surprise and for a moment, they just stood there staring at one another through the roar of the rain. They were both soaked to the bone by now.  Cade took a step toward her, but she lifted her hands to stop him. She shook her head, then covered her face with her hands as she started sobbing.

“Gemma,” he said reaching for her, his heart breaking with every pain-filled sob.

“Don’t,” she cried, taking a step back from him. “Don’t touch me. Just … don’t.”

He held his hands up in a show of surrender, scared to death she’d turn and run from him if he pushed. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry? You're sorry? Is that it? Just fucking sorry?” she wailed.

“Gemma, please …”

“Do you love her? This woman?”

“No.” The single word was uttered without a moment’s hesitation. “I don’t even know her.” He took a cautious step closer. “She means nothing to me.” He wanted so badly to touch her—everything in his body craved it. He needed to hold her, kiss her, tell her that everything was wrong. He wanted
her
. He loved
her
. So deeply and so desperately that he could hardly understand it. “I don’t want anyone one else. I want you.”

Disbelief flashed across her face. “Then why?” she demanded. “If you want me, why? Why are going to mate with someone else? Tell me why you're doing this. Tell me, Cade.”

He dared to take another step so that they were mere inches apart. Taking courage from the fact that she didn’t move away, he brought up shaking hands to cup her wet face, gently pushing the soaking strands of her hair from her face when she didn’t shove him away. “I have to,” he said quietly. “I don’t have any choice.” His expression revealed the unbearable torment inside him. “I have to take one of the women as my mate or Phoenix is handed over to the
Humans
. I can't let them do that.”

She stared at him breathlessly, shock in her beautiful, green eyes. With a sob tearing from deep inside her, she slapped his hard, wet chest with an angry cry. She clenched her hands into fists and then she was pummelling against the solid wall of his torso. He didn’t stop her, didn’t step away. He stood there and took it, deserving every one of her blows. “I love you, Cade. Don’t you get that? I've loved you forever …”

Her words cut through him like nothing he had ever imagined. He had wanted to whisper those same words to her a thousand times before—had imagined it a million more. His heart swelled at Gemma’s admission. She loved him—it seemed too incredible to dare believe. Her pounding stopped and she slumped in exhaustion from the effort. He went to put his arms around her, but she shoved at him, hard. His arms dropped to his sides, helpless to offer any sort of comfort to the woman that he loved. He could hardly breathe from the pain of it.

“Then go. Go to your fucking mate.”

“Gemma …” Her name tore from his lips on a harsh breath.

“No. You’ve made your choice,” she yelled at him. “And
I
wasn’t it.” 

Pain lanced through him. She was right. He had made a choice—not one that he had wanted, but the only one that would save Phoenix’s life—and for that he could never regret it. But he knew what he had to do now. He was being selfish—his inability to let her go was destroying them both. When you love somebody, set them free ... Wasn’t that the saying? He had to stop hurting her this way. Fuck his broken heart, but he couldn’t continue doing this to Gemma. Even without him agreeing to the betrothal with one of the Castle women, what future had they ever really had a chance to anyway?

He swallowed hard, his eyes taking their fill of her for one last time—every line, every curve of her face, burning it to memory. He had to walk away. He had to save her from all this pain—it’s all he could ever offer her.  “I’m sorry.” The words were spoken quietly, but he knew she had heard them. He opened his mouth, but there was nothing more to offer her. He bent his head and slowly turned to walk away.

He had only taken two steps when he heard Gemma speak again. “So you just walk away? That’s it?” Her incredulous laugh rang out in the cold night air. “God, I’m such an idiot. I can’t believe I thought you actually ever felt anything for me.”

Before he knew what he was doing, Cade had spun on his heel and had reached her before she could utter another word. He gripped her arms, practically lifting her off the ground. Her eyes went wide with shock, and he could hear the pounding of her heart like that of a hunted rabbit. “I love you too, god damn it. Don’t you know that, Gemma? I love you so fucking much that it’s breaking my heart,” he shouted. “But I can't see a boy given to the
Humans
. Do you get that? Do you? Because I need you to. I need you to know that I love you. I love you so god damn much that I can't even explain it to you.”

Then his mouth was on hers, giving her no chance to reply, her lips parting under his from the bruising force of his kiss. It was hungry, demanding, unyielding. She moaned and opened to him, clutching at his broad shoulders as her mind blanked.

He tore his lips away, panting, and slapped his hand over the centre of his chest. “It beats for you, Gemma. Every time I see you. Every time you're near me. That’s all it wants. And I can't fucking ever have you. I’m forced to take someone else, someone I don’t know and will never want … because my heart belongs to you.”

He captured her mouth with his once again, hard, hungrily, as if he couldn’t get enough. He couldn’t sate this need inside him—couldn’t stop the fire raging in his veins. His mind screamed to take her, his
wolf
clawing at him, demanding it.  In one fluid movement, he lifted her, making Gemma gasp. She wrapped her legs around his waist and Cade groaned from the sheer pleasure of having her pressed so intimately against him.

He turned and walked toward the house. She pressed closer, her thighs clenching tighter around his lean waist, and Cade moaned. They reached his car and he shoved her against the hard metal, pressing against her. He kissed her, his tongue plunging in, tasting the sweetness of her mouth, and Gemma gasped and opened willingly. With a growl, he bit down on her lip sharply. She whimpered and he ran his tongue across the hurt to ease it. When Cade suddenly stopped, Gemma was panting breathlessly.

BOOK: Cade
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