Claiming the Throne
The Prince’s Mate, 3
Copyright © 2018 by Hayden West
Chase yawned as he rolled over, a slight smile turning up his lips at the hard body of his mate and lover lying there beside him. Right now everything was quiet. He had no problem hearing the soft snores from Danny, Zach’s brother from the next tent over where the others slept.
He’d refused to budge on Zach and he sleeping away from one another. Chase needed the comfort, the touch. And so did his wolf.
It wasn’t about the sex right now, it was about the tactile satisfaction.
They had thrown up camp after returning to his lands. He’d not wanted to go home yet, even though his presence would have been sensed.
The breathing of his lover changed and he knew then, Zach had awakened.
While he didn’t pull away, the man stiffened and that was a dagger to the heart in itself. I suppose I should be happy he didn’t pull away. But the sad truth was, he wasn’t. This, whatever the hell it was between them, the rift, it was sort of felt as if it were growing and set him more and more on edge.
Since the conversion, Zach had changed. In more ways than he’d initially believed. And he wasn’t coming back to his old self. Yes, being forced to become a shifter, couldn’t be easy. He got that.
Chase had been born one. And of the royal line at that so he had it easy, his body and wolf were one complete unit. Two parts of the same whole.
He understood—on some level—it wasn’t the easiest for Zach and it killed him to be unable to make it smoother for him.
Reaching for his mate, his wolf calmed the moment they had skin to skin contact. So did he. Zach remained facing away from him. Chase didn’t care, right now he wanted to touch.
“I thought we had to go.”
Chase curved and arm around the man beside him, drawing near.
“We have time.”
For a moment, Zach relaxed. In the blink of an eye he had pulled away and was across the tent. Chase sat, mind cataloging everything. The fear, anger, and uncertainty in his eyes along with the wildness that reined unchecked.
In slow, increments awareness crept back in. “I should check on Danny.”
Chase nodded, well aware telling Zach that Danny was safe with the others wouldn’t go over well. His foster brother was a sensitive spot as well as an extremely volatile one.
“Let’s go then.” Chase reached for his jacket and shoes. They finished at the same time and Chase trailed him out of the tent, closing the flap behind him.
The cold mountain air cut through his exposed skin, making him glad they had the tents. Sure, he could have stayed in the nearest town but he preferred the outdoors, like most shifters.
He cracked his neck and rolled his shoulders as his lieutenants and best friends exited their tent. No Danny.
Trey met his questioning gaze with a smile. “He’s still sleeping.”
Zach pushed into the tent and Chase didn’t look away until his mate had vanished.
“How’s Danny holding up?”
He almost missed the shuttered expression on Trey’s face that lingered ever so briefly.
“Exhausted. Slept like a man who’d been awake for days without any shuteye. He’s worried about his brother on top of that and that’s not helping.”
And you’re concerned for him.“For good reason.” He cast a glance back to the tent. “He and his wolf are at war. They’ve not come to peace yet.”
“Are you sure they will?” Victor asked.
“No, but I have to hope that it come to pass. The crone said he would be a monster. I don’t want to have to kill my mate.”
“Could you?” Trey posed the question, crouching to build up the fire.
“Pack comes first. It’s my fault the wolf is in him. I will deal with the consequences.” He acknowledged he hadn’t answered the question because in all honesty, he didn’t think he would be able to kill his own mate. That’s not how it worked, die for him? In a heartbeat. But to take his life from him? That was doubtful.
I would be a shell of a man if it came to that but I have to do what is best for the Pack. That’s how it’s always been and how it will always be.
Victor grunted and went to pull a pot form the back of the vehicle. Soon water heated for coffee and they had food cooking soon after.
Chase was drinking his second cup of coffee when Zach and Danny emerged from the tent. His mate appeared calm and for a moment it irritated him that another male could—and did—provide that for him. Reining in both his anger and the wolf, he met both of their gazes.
“There’s coffee and food. We’re leaving in twenty minutes.”
He turned to face Trey. His righthand man never wasted time just crouched beside him, a stick in one massive hand.
“Are we heading straight in?”
He drained his coffee, swallowed, then placed the mug in the snow. “Yep. My uncle has to know I’m already on my way. Given so does everyone else, he won’t do anything aside from welcoming me home with open arms. He will want everyone think he was in support of my claiming the throne before he tries to have me step down for being unmated.”
“And when he finds out?”
“He’ll try to kill me.” Try being the operative word.
“Who’s trying to kill you?” Danny stood near them both.
Cutting his eyes to the right, he ran an impartial skim over the man who was his brother-in-law. Or would be once they were officially wed. to him, Danny was family already as he and Zach were mated.
“My uncle.” He shared a look with Trey and pushed to his feet. “He wants the throne.”
Danny shook his head. “I thought our family was odd.”
“Royal politics suck.” Beyond Danny, Zach worked with Victor on loading up the SUV with all of their tents and other gear. “When we get there, stay close to Trey, Victor, or Harry. Don’t go wandering around alone.”
“I’m not in line for the throne.”
“You’re human. Most of my kind have little to no use for your kind.”
“Swell. So he’ll be fine?”
Chase didn’t have to ask which “he” Danny asked about.
“No, he won’t go anywhere alone either.”
“He’s not going to like that.”
“Zach can be pissed all he wants. My goal is to keep him alive.”
Danny walked closer so there was very little space between them. His wolf snarled low but other than being alert, did nothing.
“Is that because he means so much to you personally or because of what he means to your throne?”
His wolf didn’t take to much offense to that, he was actually impressed by Danny’s fortitude. Chase blinked slowly, careful to keep his wolf at bay and calm, not wanting Zach to fly into protective mode. He wasn’t sure how much, or rather, how little would set him off.
“The crown and throne are a result of my status. It is what it is. I wasn’t looking for a mate when I met Zach. However, he is my mate and the most important thing in my life, make no mistake.”
“All I care about is his happiness. When this is over, I will be back to my life of surfing and jet setting. I need to know he’s in the best possible hands.”
Trey tensed briefly, his attention on the woods to the left. Chase didn’t shift his attention from Danny, aware of everything around them.
“He isin the best possible hands. Mine.”
Is everything okay, Trey?
His lieutenant didn’t provide a verbal response, merely a sharp nod of his head.
“Let’s move,” he called out, needing to have Zach out of danger.
Probably shouldn’t bring him to the royal house then.Ignoring his inner commentary, he shoved his hands in his front pockets.
The urgency in his tone couldn’t be missed. At the royal house his father may want to kill him bur the most part they should be safe there. Unless things had completely changed since he had left.
If I ignore the fact I’m bringing in a human and my mate who is considered an abomination from the forced conversion. Yeah, we’ll be fine.
At the vehicle, he and Victor took the front. Trey had the back with Harry while Zach and Dann were in the middle.
Victor drove. Chase wasn’t going to argue, he was the best driver. He’d grown up on the track and could drive anything with a wheel. Hell, not only with a wheel, anything that moved.