He pushed away the long-worn grief of losing his parents in the war and once again focused on his Alpha in front of him.
Kade hadn’t aged a day since turning thirty, but Bram could see the stress he wore on his shoulders. It resembled the weight Gideon wore. The two Alphas were the leaders of their Packs and the unintentional leaders of the entire population of wolves in the US. Because the government had focused on the Redwoods and Talons at first, whatever those two Alphas did next would forever alter the way all shifters were able to live. Bram wasn’t sure how the other Alphas were taking everything as his focus was on his own Alpha and Pack, but he knew Kade was being kept apprised. Parker, Kade’s nephew, and Bram’s friend, was the Voice of the Wolves, and even now visiting each Pack within the US in secrecy to ensure cooperation. Bram didn’t envy that job, and he was pretty sure the Alphas weren’t too happy with everything going on in their part of the US.
No wonder Kade looked like he needed a nap—not that Bram would mention that to Kade. Ever. That was what Kade’s mate was for, and Melanie was good at making sure Kade didn’t take on too much.
The pang of not having a mate of his own hit Bram once again, and he had to push it away. This wasn’t about him. It was about his Pack as a whole. He needed to get over what he couldn’t have and move on.
Only he wasn’t sure he would be able to.
The moon goddess gifted wolves with mates, so in theory, he had other potentials out in the world. Yet his wolf craved Charlotte. Everything pointed to the fact that he should have been able to create a bond with her.
When it hadn’t happened, they’d shattered. He knew she’d thought it was her fault because of her birth family, though she’d never said as much. On the other hand, he always felt it was his fault because he didn’t know his wolf as well as he should.
They were both messed up beyond reason, and yet they kept circling around each other. They would break once again if they weren’t careful, and Bram wasn’t sure they could come back from that.
“We need to increase patrols,” Gina was saying, and he cursed himself for not paying attention once again.
Kade let out a growl. “We’ll need to train more sentries then because I don’t want us spread too thin. Something’s coming, I can feel it, and I don’t think we’re in any position to slack off.” He rolled his neck. “I just got off the phone with Finn, and we have another problem.”
Bram sat up, the hairs on the back of his neck rising. Finn was with Charlotte, and if there were a problem, he needed to know about it.
“What is it?” Bram asked, his voice a low growl.
Kade raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment on the fact that Bram rarely spoke up in these meetings. He didn’t speak often at all, as he didn’t have much to say. But bring in Charlotte, and apparently, he couldn’t shut up.
“The soldier that helped Ryder escape Montag showed up at the Pack’s doorstep,” Kade said slowly. “He saw through the wards, and was able to slide right in, even though he was in horrible pain.”
Bram stiffened. That wasn’t possible, or at least it hadn’t been when their magic was full strength.
“Gideon isn’t sure how that happened, other than the fact that the moon goddess spoke to him, telling him to let Shane, the soldier, into the Pack.” Kade let out a breath. “She doesn’t speak to just anyone anymore, and not anyone outside the original hunter’s bloodline.”
Bram shook his head. As far as he was aware, only Parker’s blood family was a direct descendant of the original hunter, the human who had long ago killed the wrong natural wolf and was forced to share souls with his prey when the moon goddess found out.
“Shane isn’t wolf, or maybe he is. We don’t know.” Kade’s gaze looked bleak. “He’s something, but he smells faintly of wolf, of other. And he wasn’t bitten. Wasn’t changed.”
The entire room went still.
“The humans did this?” Gina asked, her hand over her belly once more as if she could protect her unborn child from what was to come.
“We think so,” Kade said with a growl. “We won’t be sure until Shane wakes up long enough to tell us, but that’s what we’re leaning toward.”
“What do you mean he needs to wake up?” Bram asked. Charlotte was still over there, and it killed him that he wasn’t near her.
“He’s been in so much pain that he can’t form coherent sentences. He was dying until Gideon brought him into the Pack. He’s doing better now that he has the Pack bonds around him, but he isn’t up to full strength yet. I don’t know what we’re going to do about him, but no matter what, if the humans have a way to change their own into…something, then we have to formulate a plan.”