“Before I start, I want you all to understand no one will face any consequences for anything you say here,” I said. “I gave Kendra my word no one here will be harmed in any way by me or by Kyle.”
“He staked it on his rank,” Kendra said. “Some of you may not comprehend that, but for these guys, if they stake something on their rank it’s like magic. They break their word, the rank is taken from them. So you can trust what Tobias says. He can’t hurt any of us, and Kyle won’t either.”
“Too bad he didn’t make that promise before yesterday,” Bill muttered.
“Yes,” I said, “it is, though it might not have saved Andrew. You all know what silver does if it enters a werewolf’s bloodstream. We can handle touching it for short periods as long as it’s only a surface touch. If it enters our blood, we die. Three lives were at risk in my office yesterday. We tried our best to disarm Andrew. He wanted to be disarmed, I could see it in his eyes. But he was unable to fight off the power controlling him, and I wasn’t able to break through it.”
“So you take the fucking gun out of his hands,” Bill said.
“It wouldn’t have helped.” Jeannette, one of the housekeepers, said.
Her comment was so unexpected that for a moment, I couldn’t come up with a response.
“How do you know?” Avery asked. She didn’t sound as if she was arguing, just asking for clarification. The question I should have asked.
“One of the alphas who was here last fall.” Jeannette clasped her hands together. “He…Tobias, may I speak with you privately after we’re finished here?”
“Of course.” My heart sank. Other than myself, I only knew of one alpha who’d attended the September gathering who had the power to compel humans. And I was all too aware of what he’d done to other women.
I’d hoped Saul had confined his abuse to female werewolves. That was bad enough, but hearing he’d also used human women sent a black rage through me. If he hadn’t already been dead, I would have hunted him and killed him myself.
“Anyway.” Jeannette took a deep breath. “I tried to stop him, but I couldn’t. Only a small part of me wanted to. The rest just did what he said.”
“I’m sorry.” Avery put her arm around Jeanette’s shoulders. “You shouldn’t have had to go through that. We should be safe here.”
“You should be,” I agreed. “And I’m doing everything I can to make sure you are in the future. I wish I could change the past.”
“I didn’t tell you so you’d give me sympathy,” Jeannette snapped. She looked at me with wet eyes. “I told you so you’d know there wouldn’t have been any way to stop Andrew other than what Kyle did. If someone was doing to him what was done to me—the control, I mean—he wouldn’t have been able to fight it off no matter what he did.”
“He did try,” I said quietly. “I saw it, and I did my best to help him. Sometimes I’m able to break through others’ control. This time, I couldn’t. If you all blame anyone for Andrew’s death, I share the blame. Kyle was the one who acted, but he only did so because I failed.”
“Then you should have tried harder,” Bill said.
“Maybe so, but if someone was holding a gun on you or someone you loved, would you talk?” I demanded. “Or would you act to save your life or theirs?”
He glared at me but didn’t answer. His silence was the only response I needed. He wanted someone to blame for Andrew’s death, but in Kyle’s place, he would have done the same thing.