"Oh my god." I feel sick, as bile rises in my throat, the levity of the situation finally coming through at me. I was an idiot to think that he'd been sitting twiddling his thumbs at the pack house while I've been gone. Everything is in uproar and he's been in the middle of an actual war.
"It's not the same size as the manor by a long shot, it's a homestead, and smaller, but it has land. It's isolated from humans, surrounded by forests, and for now we're managing to defend it pretty well. I'm more focused on keeping my people safe and giving them a place to rebuild, before I go chasing vampires and starting fights like my father seems to be doing. It's all he cares about, and now knowing what you showed me… it makes fucking sense. The war were his glory days, he was a commander with an army who jumped to his orders, lording over a united race. I wouldn't put it past him to somehow deliver a means to the vampires to rile it up again." The anger simmers in his tone and it's obvious Colton has been going through it as much as I have.
"Do you think the orphanage attack, we were meant to die? Was it him?" I touch on the memory Colton would have seen, of me and the doctor theorizing this exact question, but Colton shakes his head and glances my way, a look of complete cynicism.
"No, he really didn't seem to know that was coming, and from what you've shown me…. your death is hers." He nods at the rear view, so I glance back at his mother. "Her death is his. He wouldn't have wanted it. And until I challenged him, he truly was still reeling me along like he thought I would somehow support him in his madness. He didn't want me dead, he wanted me bound to his loyals, so I would follow him into war." That edge of something else clawing in, like maybe anger at not seeing it before.
So, Juan wasn't behind the orphanage, but he did create the tech to disable us. He sold it out there, not caring who got hold of it, because he wanted the vampires to think they had a weapon to restart a war. He had to know once they got it they would have the confidence to try and come at the wolves again at some point, so he waited.
The Vampires thought they had a full proof plan. They aren't as strong as us, but with something like the isolation box, they would be stronger, and have a shot at taking us down this time. Which means Juan has to know how to combat it and disable the effects of the box. He would never let them have something that would give them their victory, of course not, he'll have a master plan that he's going to sit on until this thing is in full throes. He has to keep his weapon hidden and let this brew long enough to give the packs a need to unite before he brings out whatever that is and prove victorious once again.
Juan craved the union of all the packs, not just the north, and he knew the only way to force that kind of need was to push us back into a war. He supplied the possibility and then sat back and waited, his own arrogance telling him that he would be the one chosen to lead them all. And now he has the answer to their weapon, to force the packs into choosing him. It's his leverage. The wolves from every land will want the weapon to counteract theirs. It shows how insane he really is to believe he would reign and lead, when the first time my own mother pushed him off that pedestal. So easy to knock down and replace. Did that teach him nothing?
And then when he had the steps in place to ignite a second chance at his gaining a crown, the fates intervened instead, and nothing has been coincidence on either side since. Turning and imprinting me only weeks before the vampires first attack. Solidifying a white wolf in the midst in hopes of redressing the balance, because they knew what was coming. Tying me to a Santo. It all makes sense; every single piece of the puzzle fits and I was always meant to end up in Colton's arms, in the middle of it all. I'm the fates trying to reclaim a prophecy that Juan keeps trying to destroy.
I turn my attention back to what he said, dragging my brain from that to this. Head a tangled mess of emotions, but the logic of the bigger picture is sliding neatly into place. Picking out something he said which peeks my attention.
"What do you mean bound to his loyals?" I don't even know how he could do that.
"Carmen. She's the daughter of his Beta, he's always tried to push me to stick with only the wolves he approved of. He hated the fact my sub pack was never the children of his own subs. He just had to accept it, but Carmen, now, looking back I realize he kept pushing femmes at me from certain houses and he only wanted me to mark and settle down once you posed a threat."
And we come straight to the one thing that chokes me up and makes me hate him all over again. He says it so matter of factly, like he didn't just stab me in the chest with a dull object and twist it for good measure. He just admitted it. That he's bound to Carmen, and his father wanted it that way. He maybe didn't say it outright, but he said enough for me to interpret it that way. I fall silent and turn away as tears prick my eyes and that sense of 'I knew it' makes me feels so stupid. Crushing that stupidly, ever hopeful, annoying shining light, that pops up no matter what I tell it.