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Chapter 26: Blood

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Sitting on either side of the kitchen table, Maude sips her fresh, steaming tea, and begins, "There are four Old Blood packs on the continent—the four original Alpha bloodlines. Draven. Silva. Barsk. Lonell. Alexa is mated to Alpha Silva."

"Theo told me before she came to visit," I mention.

"Right, well, Theo's grandfather, Rouven Draven hated the other Old Blood Alphas and thought the whole thing was beneath him. He thought Draven was above the other old blood packs because Draven was technically the oldest, and he thought the other younger packs were trying to equalize Draven with them. As Rouven aged, he only became more furious at the whole idea of the Old Blood packs, calling them phonies and whatnot, so he forfeited the title."

Maude continues as I'm hanging on the edge of my seat. "So, when Draven gave up their title, Belrose—the fifth oldest—made a claim to it, and the Old Blood packs, offended by Rouven, gave it to Belrose. Rouven was fine letting the other younger Alphas play pretend while he knew the truth, but Theo's father Bruce Draven couldn't stand by in silence. He was mad at his father Rouven for giving up the title because people started disrespecting Draven now that they didn't have the Old Blood title—people like Rowan.

"Long story short, Bruce went to war with Belrose, believing if he killed Alpha Belrose, he'd be able to get the title back. But Bruce wasn't as good of a fighter as—for the sake of explanation I'll use the Alpha's first name, but I mean no disrespect—as Theo is now. Bruce was often hurt and frustrated and too forceful with his warriors; Alpha Belrose ended up taking his life."

Maude pauses for another sip of tea. "Theo's dad would have wanted Theo to continue the war after his death, especially since Theo had the potential to become such a strong fighter, but Theo saw how they were low in men and he was only seventeen, so he conceded and ended the war, a prideless choice, but the right one."

"Kalilah suggested that Theo wants it back," I say. "The Old Blood title, I mean."

"I believe it. Who wouldn't? It's rightfully ours," Maude preens. "But he's working with Belrose, so I can only assume he's moved past the whole thing. Theo didn't like his father, anyway—everyone could see it—so why should he finish what Bruce started?"

"So, you remember Theo's father as Alpha, his death, and Theo taking over?" I ask.

"Of course. I was your age—twenty-one. I wouldn't be working at the pack house for another two years, but all of this stuff was common knowledge among the Draven pack members. I thought I was going to quit being the pack house housekeeper—Alexa was exasperating, and her mother had me screaming into couch pillows—but, during my second year, Alexa was mated, and they both left, so I stayed," she explains, maintaining every smithereen of my attention.

I fall back against my chair. "Huh. So, when were Elise and Alexa involved?"

Maude's face wipes clean. "Excuse me?"

"I-I overheard them talking one night when Alexa was here. Alexa said she would have been happy if they had been mated instead of her and Alpha Silva. You never saw or heard anything?"

"No!" Maude slaps her hands on the table. "Alexa and Elise? You're sure?"

I nod quickly.

"Goddess. That explains so much."

Maude proceeds to tell me every questionable encounter she can remember from the time she worked in the house with Elise while Alexa lived here. The two of them coming down the stairs together, going to the gardens together, whispering and giggling and shutting up the second anyone stepped in the room.

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