“Why don’t you want peace?”
He growled low in his chest, and that deep, primal sound made something quiver inside Alma’s fragile body.
“Because we don’t need it.”
“The wolves don’t need it…”
“Exactly. You humans are weak. Another few months of war, and you’ll be crushed forever. It baffles me that the other factions don’t see it. We can just kill your men to the last one, until only boys are left to protect you. You’d surrender then, and we’d enslave all the females. We need child-bearers, after all.”
Alma’s heart ached. She pressed a hand to her chest, hoping it would ease the pain. It took all her might to not break into tears right then and there. Her survival instinct urged her to bow to the stronger being, bend the knee and ask for mercy for her entire species. But that wouldn’t have worked. Not with Ruarc Bloodmoon. She had to be strong.
“You’re wrong. You wouldn’t be able to crush us. Yes, you are stronger and faster than us, but we have the numbers. Even though you’ve killed many, there are still plenty left to fight. And we’re determined. We believe in our cause and in our freedom. We’ve learned how to shoot dragons out of the sky. I bet no one expected that to happen, but it did. So, here we are, trying to make peace. Everyone wants it, Ruarc Bloodmoon. What will it take to convince you that this is the only way?”
He shook his head. “You’re naïve, Alma Hastings. I don’t even know why I’m talking to you. This has been a waste of my time.”
He turned on his heel and made to leave. She couldn’t let that happen, so she gathered all her courage and dared to grab him by the arm. She couldn’t exactly grab him, though, since his biceps was as thick as a tree trunk and her hand was small.
He froze in place, and in what felt like slow motion to both, he turned to face her and look at her hand on his arm. His eyes were wide, betraying disbelief. She’d had the guts to touch him! This small, silly human female had the guts to place her hand on Ruarc Bloodmoon, one of the most feared Alphas of the wolf faction. He wasn’t even sure how he should react.
“What about the clause concerning shifter brides?” She removed her hand when she realized it had lingered long enough on his taut biceps to become awkward. “Humans are obligated to provide shifters with females they will take as wives, and the females will bear their children and help perpetuate the shifter species.”
Ruarc leaned in and sneered in her face. “Didn’t you hear me, little girl? We can take what we want, no problem. We can take as many women as we want and breed them. Once this war is over and we win, no one will stand in our way.”
“A willing wife is better than a wife taken and enslaved. Less drama. She won’t try to escape, harm her mate, or harm herself. Maybe harm the children she never wanted. You must see that I’m right.”
“Right?” He laughed. “Is that what you think you are?”
She pursed her lips and forced herself to ignore his comment.
“I will prove it to you. I volunteer to become the first shifter bride. Your bride, if you’ll have me.”
Ruarc’s jaw was about to fall in shock, but he couldn’t have that, so he clenched it tightly instead. He didn’t know what he’d expected from the little female, but it certainly hadn’t been this. She was offering herself to him, just so she could prove that the peace treaty with that clause in it could work. He had to admit that Alma Hastings was brave. And maybe a tad stupid. Nonetheless, she’d taken him by surprise, and it didn’t often happen that Ruard Bloodmoon was taken by surprise.
“I’ll sleep on it,” he grunted, then was out of the room.