Page 80 of Redemption Road

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Ryder didn’t know what Sharon was talking about —although he thought Sarah might be the young woman who had given the presentation at that meeting on Hat Island. But Benny looked like he was going to have a cow. Ryder made a mental note to find out why later.

“Something bad happened,” Sharon continued. “Grandfather and the Alpha were fighting about what to do next because of it — what to do with all these young men. Grandfather told Uncle Rory, the Alpha didn’t realize what he could do with Chen’s recruits. He called them a ticking bomb that could be aimed at their enemies.”

“The Alpha disagreed with that?” Benny asked.

She nodded. “So Grandfather said. The Alpha thought they should wait until their partner made up his mind. They couldn’t just go off on their own. But then Grandfather and Uncle Jameson met with Second Hansen and they were making plans. Now he’s dead too. So many people are dead.”

“You were just a baby when the retribution happened,” Benny said.

Sharon nodded again. “Grandfather rants about it a lot. Dad thought we needed to focus on the present not the past. But no one could ever convince Grandfather of that.” She shrugged. “Uncle Jameson and Uncle Rory always agreed with Grandfather. Well, I guess we all do, at least in public.”

“And so your grandfather sent your father to the lodge,” Benny prompted.

She nodded. “Usually Dad would just go up for a day or two. There were others who were managing it day to day. Uncle Logan, mostly.” She frowned. “I didn’t get what Dad was supposed to do. But he didn’t like it.”

“But he went,” Benny said.

“He didn’t have a choice, did he? You have to obey those who have power.” Sharon looked at them. “Don’t you?”

“Sometimes when you get away from the person who is more dominant, you can do something different,” Jessie said, avoiding everyone’s eyes. “If you’re strong. If you know what you’re being asked to do is wrong. But some people just do as they’re told.”

Nothing like hitting all of our buttons, Ryder thought with some sorrow. His, hers. Probably Benny’s too. He looked at his brother thoughtfully, wondering what buttons were getting pushed for him.

“Why did you warn me?” Benny said gently. “Was the cake poisoned?”

“Well, not all of it,” she said. “But Uncle Rory came through just before you came into the kitchen. He said he was there to make sure all the food was up to the caliber it should be. Miz Marta was insulted. But he talked to one of the other servers. And one tray of pieces of cake were set aside for the head table —the best pieces, I was told.”

“And you worried there was poison,” Benny finished. “Did anyone eat from that tray?”

She shook her head. “No,” she said, miserably. “After you all left, I saw another girl dump those pieces in the garbage.”

Ryder was actually relieved that they were at leastthatresponsible. He could just see the extra cake going to the littles, and he would have their deaths on his hands.

“OK,” Benny said soothingly. “I want you to close your eyes and think back. Relax, let your breathing get slow and even.” He watched her for a moment. Ryder was almost afraid to breathe. “I bet your Mom and Dad had a fight before he left, didn’t they?”

She nodded. “Mom didn’t want him to go.”

“Did she say why?”

“She said Dad was being set up to take the fall for all of this. That Grandfather Angus wanted Uncle Rory to take over the family eventually, and Dad was being pushed out. They fight about that a lot.”

“Does your Grandfather want to step down?” Benny asked. “Let Rory take over?”

Sharon was silent.

“Sharon?” Benny prompted gently.

“Grandfather wants to be Alpha,” she whispered. “And then someone else would have to manage the family’s interests. He said Alpha McKenzie was an idiot, and it was time to take over. He says that a lot. But then he was furious when Alpha McKenzie died.” She rubbed her cheek.

“Is your father still at the lodge?” Benny asked. Sharon nodded.

“I think so.” She amended that, “He hasn’t come home.”

“Anything else? Any more about the poison? Or the lodge?” Benny pursued gently.

“I don’t think so,” Sharon said doubtfully.

“Thank you, Sharon,” Benny said formally. “You’ve been a big help. The Girls Who Howl will be proud of you.”

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