The loud, thumping music assaulted my ears the minute I set foot in the hallway. Clutching the knife tight in one hand, I closed the door with the other. If something went wrong, at least Kimberly would be safe inside her room, where D.K. couldn't get to her. And I didn't try to fool myself— everything could go wrong here. D.K. could overpower me, or Kaylie and Tyler could intervene. I had a feeling that an attempt on my alpha's life would come at a far greater price than losing his money to a rival gang. Unless I was greatly mistaken, it wouldn't be something I'd just walk away from… or ever walk again at all.
Knowing the music would cover my footsteps, I walked with more confidence than might have been wise. If prior experiences were any indication, then D.K. would probably be in his chair watching TV, so drunk that he was on the verge of passing out. It would be easy to walk in there and stick the knife in his chest. It wasn't silver, but you didn't need silver to kill a werewolf. That just made it easier. But what about Tyler and Kaylie? Would they try to stop me if they found out what I was doing? I knew Tyler wasn't a fan of D.K., but he was still, somehow, loyal to him. I got the feeling Kaylie was the same way, but I hadn't been around her long enough to get a sense of where her priorities lay. Her, I might be able to take down if I had to, but Tyler was another story altogether. Six and a half feet of pure muscle— that was definitely beyond my ability to kill. And if I had to fight Kaylie, I was almost certain that he'd come to help her. That's what siblings do for each other, right?
I thought all of this before I reached the living room door. I paused at the edge of the doorway, and leaned forward to peak my head in. Yes, there he was, with that same glazed over stare he always had when he was watching TV. I had a feeling he didn't even really see the football game playing in front of him. More importantly, he was alone. I steeled myself for what I had to do, and willed my foot to take the next step that would take me into the living room.
But I hesitated.
Is this who you've turned into, Amber? a voice in my head asked. It was my dad's voice, my mom's voice, and my own all at once. I looked down at the knife in my hand. Someone so desperate that she's willing to become a murderer to get what she wants?
“It's not just for me," I muttered, so low that even I barely heard it. “It's for Kimberly. It's to keep her safe."
You've killed for him before, the voice continued to nag. Are you willing to kill him now?
“He deserves it," I insisted, my palm growing sweaty around the knife handle. “He's ruined this pack. He ruined my life. He ruined Kimberly's."
YOU ruined Kimberly's life.
“Shut up!" I snapped under my breath, and to my relief the guilty little voices obeyed. Why was this so hard? It wasn't as if I liked D.K. In fact, I didn't have a single positive memory about him. He was a bad guy, and if he had even one redeemable quality he'd done a good job of hiding it from me. He needed this knife in his heart. The whole pack needed it…
I forced my feet to walk, and entered the living room. I lowered my hand, trying to discreetly hide the knife behind my leg, but I needn't have worried. D.K. was so sloshed that he didn't even glance my way when I came into the room. I looked around again, just to make doubly sure that Tyler or Kaylie weren't somewhere in the room. They weren't, so I focused myself on D.K. again. He was just sitting there, defenseless, completely unaware of his surroundings. He was vulnerable. I swallowed hard and walked the rest of the way around the room until I was standing behind his chair. It was easier this way. I wouldn't have to see his face when I stabbed him. I began to raise the knife.
D.K. grunted, then coughed. I clamped my free hand over my mouth to keep from gasping, and backpedaled until I was pressed against the wall. I watched in horror as he shifted in his seat, popping his neck. My heart was pounding so hard I could feel it in my ears. He'd seen me. There was no way he hadn't. I looked around, trying to find somewhere, anywhere to hide the knife before he turned around.
He didn't, though. With a belch, he raised his bottle to his lips, took a long drink from it, and then settled back into his chair. I stared at him for a full minute, hardly able to breath. He hadn't seen me. He was so drunk that he hadn't noticed hovering over him, holding a knife. I was so relieved that I almost burst out laughing. I held it in, though. There was no way he'd miss that.
“Okay, Amber," I whispered, peeling myself away from the wall, “time to do it."
I inched my way across the living room a second time, encouraging myself to be strong with every step, until I was right behind his chair. This time, he didn't move or make a sound. I took the knife in both hands, and raised it above his head. My arms were as steady as a rock.
Can you live with being a murderer?
“I already am."
Can you lower yourself to D.K.'s level?
“If that's what it takes to protect Kimberly."
Can you kill him, Amber?
Can you, really?
Are you sure, Amber? Can you really kill him?
Then why haven't you already?
I gasped, freezing as I looked down at my alpha. My hands started to tremble, and I tried to force my arms down— to drive that knife deep into his chest. I couldn't do it, though. I couldn't kill my alpha.
Biting my lip, I let go of the knife and let it fall onto the carpet with a muffled thud. I backed a few steps away before sitting down on the floor, having to breathe deep to keep myself from sobbing. I couldn't do it. I was too weak. Too weak to do anything but screw things up. I couldn't protect my family. I couldn't protect Kimberly. I couldn't even kill the one threatening the people I was trying to protect. The only thing I could do was put my tail between my legs and do what I was told like a good little girl.
And even now, D.K. sat facing the TV, completely unaware that he wasn't alone.
Just… just go back to your room, I thought to myself, picking myself up off the floor. Hide the knife again, and hope nobody finds out about this. Maybe you can—
“Honey boo!" Kaylie's voice pierced the thumping music like a laser, and a minute later she appeared in the living room doorway. “Hey, can I—"
She froze when she saw me. I froze too, before realizing that she couldn't see the knife from where she was.
“What are you doing in here?" she demanded, her nostrils flaring with outrage.
D.K. snapped out of his alcohol induced trance and turned around to see me.
“How long you been there?" he shouted. “What're you doing?"
“Um," I said, looking between the two of them. While they were looking at my face, I quickly used the opportunity to kick the knife underneath D.K.'s chair. “I was, uh, looking for you, Kaylie."
The young woman's eyes narrowed, and she put her hands on her shapely hips. “Uh huh, right. What were you looking for me for?"
“So we could go on that shopping trip we were talking about," I said, not realizing what I'd said until it was already out of my mouth.
Oh, crap. That had literally been the first thing to pop into my head, and I'd blurted it out without thinking. Neither her nor D.K. were going to take this one well. I gritted my teeth, waiting for their outburst.
D.K. turned to glare at her. “What she talking about, woman?"
Luckily, Kaylie looked just as surprised about this as he did, and she didn't have an accusation ready to throw back at me.
“Don't you remember?" I asked. “You said all your outfits were getting worn out, so you needed to ask D.K. for some money to get new ones."
Kaylie's face went pale, and I knew I'd caught her. That was exactly like something she would say, and both she and D.K. knew it. D.K. turned back to her, and her plastic smile appeared back on her face.
“That's right, punkin," she cooed, sauntering over to him in a too-sexual manner. “Everything I got is sooo old. I need something new to look pretty for you!"
This, finally, caught D.K.'s attention. His eyes lit up with interest, and he grinned. My stomach turned over, and I thought I was going to be sick.
“Yeah, fine, okay," he agreed, digging into his back pocket and pulling out a sweaty wad of bills. “Come back wearing something sexy, a'ight?"
“Oh, you know it, bae!" she cooed, taking the money and giving him a kiss on the lips. She spun around, but the moment she was facing away from him, and at me, the smile disappeared and she gave me a venomous glare.
“Come on, girl!" she said, though her face didn't show any of the eagerness her voice carried. “Let's go before the shops close!"
She grabbed me by the arm, her long nails biting into my skin, and pulled me out of the room.
NEXT TIME: I think I speak for all of us when I say: THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY THIS CAN END WELL. Oh well, nothing we can do about it now. Looks like Amber's going on a shopping trip with Kaylie!