Home > Lure of Oblivion (The Mercury Pack #3)(4)

Lure of Oblivion (The Mercury Pack #3)(4)
Author: Suzanne Wright

“Enough,” Nick growled at Shaya, slashing a hand in the air. He turned to Zander. “Don’t think I didn’t notice that you purposely brought up her other business ideas so that she’d change the subject.”

Zander shrugged, unapologetic. He also tensed when Shaya’s eyes slid to his, once again filled with compassion. “I’m fine.” He closed the trunk and walked to the driver’s door. “Me and Bracken can manage on our own for a few days.”

“I know that,” she assured him, clipping her red curls behind her ear. “But it would be okay if you weren’t fine, you know. Your uncle just died.”

“I told you, we weren’t close.”

“But he was still your uncle. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather take someone other than Bracken to the reading of the will? I mean, he’s not exactly the comforting type.”

The wolf in question frowned, affronted. “Hey.”

Shaya shrugged at him. “Well, you’re not.”

Zander didn’t need or want comfort. He’d cared for his uncle, but he wasn’t broken up about his death. He didn’t seem to feel grief the way others did anyway. He hadn’t cried when his parents died either. Hadn’t been deep in grief. Hadn’t felt much other than a faint regret for what could have been if they hadn’t cast him off long ago. If that made him cold, there wasn’t much he could do about it.

“I didn’t think people did that anymore,” said Jesse, scraping a hand over his dark stubble.

“What?” asked Zander.

“Gathered in an office while an attorney read the will. I thought they just sent out copies of the will to the relevant people, like the beneficiaries.”

“That’s what I thought. The attorney said that it was Dale’s wish for it to be done this way.”

“You sure you don’t want me to come along?” Jesse asked for the tenth time, brow creased.

“Since when have I ever needed anyone to hold my fucking hand?” Zander said without heat.

Dark eyes softening with amusement, Jesse snorted. “Fine, fuck you. I just don’t like the idea of you in the same room as Rory, even though I know you can deal with the motherfucker easily.”

Rory had never been a true brother to Zander. In his twin’s mind, they were in competition. It was a warped sibling rivalry that Zander had never wanted any part in, but Rory hadn’t cared.

The only people in the Mercury Pack who’d ever met Rory were Jesse and Bracken, because they’d once all belonged to another pack. As such, the two wolves knew every sneaky move Rory had made and just how toxic and twisted the guy was.

Their mother, Pearl, had come down hard on Rory for the sibling rivalry . . . right up until he was seven and caught an infection in the hospital after—very begrudgingly—donating a kidney to Zander. The infection had almost killed Rory, and their mother had felt guilty for pushing him to go through with the operation. Rory had played on that guilt, and he’d hated Zander for “stealing his kidney” ever since.

After that, Pearl let Rory get away with pretty much everything. Maybe that was why he was so arrogant, egotistical, and self-indulgent. Or maybe her lack of discipline just made those traits more defined. Whatever the case, Rory had been a nightmare to live with.

He became even worse when Pearl got pregnant with their sister. Rory didn’t like sharing anything, particularly Pearl’s attention. Striving to ensure Rory didn’t feel “left out,” she’d emotionally neglected Shelby. Zander suspected that had fed Rory’s bloated sense of self-importance.

Jesse played with Harley’s dark hair as he spoke to Zander. “Do you think Dale will have left you much in his will? He was unmated and had no direct descendants, but Rory somehow managed to manipulate your parents into making him their sole heir—not that there was much money left when they died, since Rory had bled them dry over the years. But he might have found a way to do the same to your uncle.”

Zander shrugged. “Maybe. I haven’t spoken much to Dale over the years, so I don’t know if he was in constant contact with Rory or not.” He’d find out soon enough.

Eli, the Head Enforcer, folded his arms over his broad chest. “What’s Rory like? You said he was fucked up, but how, exactly?”

It was Jesse who answered. “I’d like to dismiss him as a dumb asshole, but Rory’s smart. Too smart. That’s why he does so well as a computer analyst. He’s not nerdy, though. He dresses like a CEO, comes across as slick and charming.”

Rory was also one of those guys who waxed his chest, back, and eyebrows—Zander would rather walk through fire than do girlie shit like that to himself.

“When he was a juvenile, our pack was wary of him,” Jesse went on. “He wasn’t quite so smooth back then, and it was easy to sense that something wasn’t right with him.”

“Even though he’s smart, he’s immature,” Bracken added. “He’s not happy unless he has a rival who he can ridicule and compete with—winning is more important to him than anything else. If someone upsets him in some way, he never lets it go; he carries it with him like a rucksack on his back.”

“He’s a spiteful piece of shit too,” clipped Jesse. “If Zander wouldn’t give him something, he’d shift into his wolf form and piss on it. Remember when you were kids and you had those pet mice, rats, gerbils, and ferrets, Z?”

Zander nodded. He’d gone through a phase where he’d wanted to be a vet, so his father had indulgently bought him lots of small pets to care for as “practice.”

“When Zander refused to give him his new Star Wars figures, Rory went down to the basement where Z’s pets were kept,” Jesse continued. “He let out the mice, rats, and gerbils. Then he let out the ferrets and watched while they killed the smaller rodents.”

Shaya’s mouth fell open. “That’s cruel.” She turned to Zander. “What did your parents do?”

“Nothing,” Zander replied. “Rory said he hadn’t let them out, that I’d done it and was trying to pin it on him. Pearl sided with him, and Jerold went along with it. Our father was submissive, and she was very dominant. She used that strength against him until he eventually learned not to question her.”

Nick’s green eyes blazed. “That kind of abuse should be rare, but it isn’t.”

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