SOMETIMES LIFE HAD A WAY of throwing curve balls, Rhyme understood that, but lately she’d been assaulted by an automatic ball throwing contraption that showed no signs of turning off, at least not until Jackson’s killer was found, she chose a mate, and she and her siblings got married. She knew this was all connected to their father’s will, but couldn’t determine how. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were not coming together to show the complete picture and until that happened, they were stuck in this dangerous game that took out innocent bystanders along the way. She was done with watching the people around her become collateral damage in this cat and mouse game. It was time to catch a killer.
Rhyme sat at Elijah’s bedside for most of the night. She felt responsible for his attack and the guilt wouldn’t subside until she knew for certain he would recover fully. The poor man had been through enough in his life. Losing his family. Being forced to turn into a werewolf. Getting attacked and almost killed after she’d rejected the possibility of mating with him and she was certain he’d seen more difficulties, she’d only known him for a short time.
The man really knew how to face adversity and come out winning – until he met her. She briefly wondered if that was because he was a man of the clothe, if he found his strength in the lord. Rhyme was startled when Rayne placed a hand on her shoulder, pulling her out of her thoughts and back into the present.
“I’m sorry, sis, I didn’t mean to scare you.” Rayne’s smirk indicated she enjoyed it just a little bit despite her words.
Rhyme shook her head, “no worries, I was just thinking that this is all my fault.”
“You can’t really believe that.” Rayne placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“I don’t know, Raynie. I mean, first Jackson, now Elijah. Not to mention all the craziness that happened a month ago with your Mating Games, Isaac’s death, Grayson, everything that has happened since our father’s death. I swear someone is out to do this family in.” She felt so helpless. Elijah was attacked two days ago and the doctors said he’d be okay, that was until they realized he was poisoned and they had to go in and do surgery to remove the metal and save his life. Now he was recovering, but it was slow going. Everyone believed he’d be okay, it was fortunate the killer didn’t succeed a second time. “I’m just so frustrated. Toby won’t let any of these men leave because he’s convinced one of them killed Jackson, and now attacked Elijah.”
“But I thought you questioned them all under the truth serum and they all came up clean?” Rayne frowned and confusion swam in her blue eyes.
“Yes, I did, but maybe Matthew’s serum didn’t work. He has been lost since Delphine destroyed him and tried to bring our pack down.” Delphine was the witch that helped Rayne escape Grayson’s clutches after he kidnapped and forced her to marry him. She was also the witch that worked with Lacy to bring down their pack during Rayne’s mating games. Delphine’s motivation wasn’t necessarily evil, it was love, love for Lacy, who wanted nothing more than to destroy the Manchester family. Matthew took this tough, because he was Delphine’s husband and never knew about the affair or the misdeeds. He’d been drinking pretty hard since the disaster; it wasn’t unreasonable to think he could’ve accidentally messed up the truth serum.
“You went to Matthew?” Rayne asked, a frown marring her face.
“Yeah, I know, not my best decision right?”
“Well, no. I think,” Rayne sat down next to Rhyme, “you had a wonderful idea, the execution might have been flawed but overall, it was ingenious.”
It wasn’t often Rayne gave Rhyme compliments, they had been at odds for years, thanks to a ridiculous sibling rivalry. Their desire to be loved by parents that simply weren’t capable of giving them what they needed caused a rift between them. Rhyme had more years with their mother who died when they were young and their father over compensated and showed favoritism to Rayne and River. That left Rhyme competing for whatever scraps were left over from their father. He wasn’t a loving man normally, so she was constantly in need of affection. This created a chasm between the sisters that was only recently being repaired.
Rhyme chuckled, “I do believe that was the best compliment covered in shit I’ve ever heard from my sister.”
Rayne laughed and shrugged, “I try. I mean what else are sibling’s for if they can’t point out the obvious.”
“You know, I really think I’ve missed your unique sense of sarcasm.” Rhyme couldn’t help but grin, it was the first time in days she’d been able to find a little humor in the situation and she was thankful Rayne was the one to bring her that. Since their father’s death, Rhyme and Rayne had made a conscious effort to mend their relationship and the results were far more rewarding than she ever thought possible. If they were closer as children, things might have been different for them both. Rhyme wasn’t ashamed to admit to herself she had always wished they had been closer, but those thoughts would probably never be spoken out loud. Muddy waters run deep.
Rayne looked at Elijah, “how is he doing?” She asked, changing the subject to move past the uncomfortable silence that fell between them in that moment.
“Better, they say he’ll recover now that they’ve removed the metal that was poisoning him.” She hoped he would, there was always a chance they missed something, only time would tell.
“You have time to talk to River about continuing these games?” Rayne asked with a careful tone.
Rhyme sighed heavily, “I suppose. I’m just so scared to keep going down this path when the killer is still unknown.”
“You and I have never been extremely close, but one thing I know about you, your gut is rarely wrong. I’ve never known someone so gifted at being able to spot the truth in the midst of all the lies. I think that ability will be invaluable to you in this.” Rayne encouraged, who knew she was such a cheerleader?
Rhyme slipped her long black hair into a ponytail holder she had wrapped around her wrist, life always found a way to go on no matter how much you wanted to pause time. “You may be right.” She tossed one more look at the wolf recovering, “I suppose we should get this show on the road.”
She and Rayne made their way to River’s office and joined him in the confines of his sanctuary. He was talking heatedly on the phone so they sat down and waited for him to finish. River reminded Rhyme so much of their father in this room. His dark hair, tan skin, solid alpha build from behind was almost a mirror image of the man that once led this family. It was scary how much they were alike in business, but River was stronger in one area. He was a compassionate, caring brother who found time for his siblings. To River, family was everything. How he turned out to be the man he was with their role model was beyond Rhyme, but she was thankful he was honest to himself.
She could remember so many times she came into this room and felt fear from her father’s anger, he was impatient and prideful, two things that didn’t mesh well in a powerful alpha. She learned long ago not to infuriate her father, in that way, there were so many times his wrath was delivered with a chill that made her shiver just thinking about those moments.
Her mind traveled back to the time when she told him she was considering changing her life direction. As always he sat behind that mahogany desk and narrowed his crystal blue eyes her direction. There was a coldness in his gaze that made her question her decision instantly without the words that followed. “Don’t you dare defy me on this, Rhyme.” His voice stern and unrelenting.
“Father, I’m just asking if there is a chance I can try other things while I prepare for law school. You know, I just want to make sure it is a good fit for me.”
“It is a fine fit for you.” He leaned back and placed his booted feet on the desk ledge.
She sighed heavily, her fingers twisted in knots in front of her as she carefully crafted her next words. “Allowing me to try different things will make me a better rounded individual and in turn a stronger lawyer.”
“Once you’re married it is unlikely you’ll be practicing law, you’ll have children to care for.”
‘But what if I’m not interested in becoming a parent right away?’ The thought sat on the tip of her tongue. The look he was giving her made it clear there was little room for argument. He’d decided her life for her and she was expected to follow the path set for her. It was the Manchester way.
It was River’s action of hanging up the phone and leaning back in his chair that brought her back to the present. Those familiar blue eyes, the ones they shared and inherited from their father zeroed in on Rhyme, “how is Elijah?”
“Good. I need to let his alpha know before we have war breaking down our compound.” River ran a hand through his dark hair. Its length was getting shaggy and long and his face was covered with a five o’clock shadow. Rhyme swore she saw dark half-moon circles under his eyes.
“You don’t think he’d attack us?”
River shook his head, “first his son is killed in the compound and now one of his pack mates? Let’s just say that Jackson’s father is not too happy with the Manchesters.”
“Very few are lately. Whoever wants us to fail at fulfilling father’s will is doing a damn good job of making it happen.” Rayne leaned back in her chair with a heavy sigh. This whole ordeal was meant to insure they find mates and happiness, only it seemed to be the opposite for all three of them.
“Speaking of the will, how are your wedding plans, Raynie?” River asked, forcing a tight smile that had the corner of his lips quiver slightly.
“We’re on schedule. We’ll be married under the full moon next month.”
“Good. And you, Rhyme? Have you narrowed down the competition?”
“Down to six men, Chance, Myles, Diesel, Stone, Trigger, and Dash. I’ll have to spend more time with them to make another cut.” She confided.
“Eva has taken on her responsibility as the Games Master once again. She has a challenge scheduled in about an hour.” River informed them.
“I thought she quit that duty?” Rhyme’s confusion caused her to frown. She didn’t like the idea of the task master taking up the reigns again. Eva was good at her job, but she quit when Jackson was killed. Too much death and destruction surrounded them. She really couldn’t blame Eva at all.
“She can’t, she’s under contractual obligation to make this happen for all of us. Once the shock wore off, she realized she needed to take control again.”
“I really don’t need her help.” Rhyme argued.
“I’m afraid we have no choice. The remaining contenders prefer a sanctioned game run in accordance to the rules. You know how it goes.” He rubbed his hand over his eyes, an obvious sign of his exhaustion and a familiar characteristic. Their father had done the same thing time and time again when he was frustrated with the children.
“I do. Okay, well, then I suppose I better get ready for whatever she has planned.” Rhyme stood up, she didn’t want to stress him out any more than necessary.
River nodded, “good.” He sighed, “I believe whatever curse has been laid upon this family will end when we all get married, I just want this whole mess to be over with, including finding my own bride.” He closed a file that had been open on his desk.
“I’ll do my best to pick the right man as quickly as possible.” Rhyme stood up and headed toward the door.
“Thank you, Rhyme.”
She nodded and left.
Dear Diary, this has been a difficult ride. Jackson’s death, Elijah being attacked, the truth serum failing in revealing the killer, and now I am terribly worried about my brother. He looks exhausted. This entire thing was meant to bring us happiness, I am sure that was father’s intent, if it wasn’t, well, I don’t know how to look at the alternative. He wasn’t very good at looking after us while we were alive, but I have to hope he tried to make up for that with this stipulation in the will. I wish I could just pick one of the remaining six men and see where the chips fall, but in this, I don’t want to gamble. One of these men is most likely a killer. To pick the wrong one would be a catastrophe and it would make it hard to follow through with the expectation of marrying and mating. Not to mention the danger to my family if I choose the wrong guy. I am sure all of this is connected to the inheritance. Someone doesn’t want us to collect, or maybe they do, only if they are part of the six who will receive the payout. I can see why Jackson seemed like a threat, but Elijah had already been cut from the competition so he wasn’t in danger of keeping someone from winning. Nothing makes sense and I am beginning to think I can’t even trust my own gut despite Rayne’s faith in my ability to cut through the lies, it hasn’t happened yet. It’s unlikely to happen in the future. My emotions are a jumbled mess. Now, Eva has taken back control of the games. While I’m not thrilled to be working under her direction, it may be a blessing in disguise.
Rhyme's Reason is only a five part serial. Rayne's Thunder, which is already complete and available came first, but it is not necessary to read Rayne's Thunder before Rhyme's Reason. Check out all the books and novellas of the Dating a Werewolf Series below.
Rayne's Thunder (complete serial) ~ voted #13 of the 50 Best Indie Books of 2015 from Read Freely and fans.
You can also get this serial in bite size installments (perfect for a little lunchtime escape)
Rayne's Thunder (part one) Master Chef
Rayne's Thunder (part two) The Veterinarian
Rayne's Thunder (part three) The Politician and the Witches
Rayne's Thunder (part four) The Mating Games
Rayne's Thunder (part five) The Battle Begins and the Games Continue
Rayne's Thunder (part six) Alpha's Call
Rhyme's Reason (part one) Death of a Friend
Rhyme's Reason (part two) Men and Secrets
Rhyme's Reason (part three) Battle For Her Heart
Check out the first chapter of Rayne's Thunder read by me, Jami Brumfield here
Check out the Rayne's Thunder series video here
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day~