The Claiming by Cooper Book 4
The Contest by Cooper (Jaxon & Evangeline)
Chapter 20 Evangeline
Maggie and I get ready for dinner then head downstairs. They will announce the winners of the marathon and then announce the next contest and timeframe tonight. I’m nervous and excited.
We meet up with our family and sit at the table with him. As I look around, I see that every table seems to be seated by family and pack. Most of the Alpha tables have more than one person moving into the next phase of the competition. Every pack has someone moving on.
As dinner is served, there is a low-level chatter around the room. The excitement and energy in the room is tangible, making the younger pups and the omegas antsy. My father made sure Makayla was sitting beside him to help keep her calm. As I look out over the groups, I see that Jaxon’s father, Alpha Mason has done the same with Raelyn.
Other families with younger pups are having a harder time keeping their children settled.
As our plates are being taken away, Councilman Jason moves to the small stage set up in front of the dining room. “Good evening, everyone. We’d like to start off tonight by announcing our winners.”
He begins to list off the winners by pack. There is a lot of extra cheering for the two omegas, when they are announced, since this is a huge accomplishment for them. There is a nearly even distribution of winners among the ten existing packs. We have nine winners moving on from our pack.
Once the winners are announced, Councilman Jason takes an envelope provided by a councilwoman.
He opens the envelope. “The next round of the contest will be strength. You will have three months to prepare for this part of the competition. We recommend that our five runners-up also prepare for the competition, in the event that someone drops out of the contest or is unable to participate for some reason.”
He stops, waiting for the murmurs to quiet. “The next competition will be another elimination round. At the end of that competition, only 50 contestants will remain in the competition. Again, we will take several runners-up to ensure that there is no gap in the competition.”
This time, people begin talking more loudly. I look at Lazio and Maggie.
“Another elimination round? Is that fair to the omegas?”
My father leans forward. “This is a contest to become Alpha. If you can’t defeat anyone and everyone on the field, then you shouldn’t be an Alpha.” It’s not arrogant, the way my father says it, it’s a fact, and he’s right. If you can’t defeat your opponent, then you shouldn’t be eligible to be an Alpha.
When the room quiets again, Councilman Jason continues. “The battles will be randomly selected on the first day, so no one will know who they will go up against until the day of the competition. There will be no delineation between pack, gender, or rank. Every battle will be completely random. That also means it is possible that you could go up against your own family member. Alphas will sometimes be challenged by a family member, so you would need to be able to defeat an opponent, even if it is someone in your family.”
That sparks a whole other level of discussion among the groups.
“Well, if either of you end up against me, sorry about your luck, you’re going down,” Lazio says to me and Maggie.
We both snort. “Good luck with that, little bro.” I tell him.
“Yeah, you’ll be eating dirt before you know it if you have to go up against me.” Maggie tells him.
I can see my father smiling at our banter from where he’s sitting. It’s a proud smile, his children aren’t afraid of the challenge or the possibility of having to battle each other. Although, that makes me think about the possibility of fighting Jaxon.
I look over and my eyes meet grey ones looking back at me. Oh shit, he’s had the same idea.
As I watch, a smile spreads across his face. I just shake my head at him. He’s not taking me down. His smile just gets bigger.
Councilman Jason gets our attention again and everyone turns their heads back to the stage.
“The sparring matches will be a best two out of three. You must pin, disable or incapacitate your opponent. If an opponent taps out, the win will go to the other competitor. The competition will run over three days. The first two days, all contestants will fight. On the third day, only the contestants that have won one battle each will fight again to move on. There can be no tie. All battles are final.”
The chatter starts again, and Councilman Jason raises his voice.
“Are there any questions?”
He waits but no one asks anything. “Very well, then. I will see all of you in three months. Good luck,” he says stepping down.
The chatter starts back up immediately. Maggie, Lazio and I all lean in to talk. “So, conceivably we could be partnered with an Alpha, an omega, or anyone in between. It also means it’s possible that the two omegas are partnered up and one of them moves forward, potentially taking the place of an Alpha that was defeated by another Alpha,” Maggie says. “And of course, none of us will know who we are fighting until the day of the first battles,” I say.
“Well, if they were trying to make it interesting, they certainly did. This round will be as much up to chance as it will be skill,” Lazio adds.
There is a band that moves onto the stage and begins playing music. The center of the room is set up as a dance floor. I watch as mated couples begin pulling each other onto the floor to dance.
I watch as Tobias and Flavia, the newest mated couple, walk onto the dance floor. “So, I have an idea,” Alejandro says, coming to sit with us.
“What’s that?” I ask.
“I think we need to get all three of you trained on different styles of fighting. That way, no matter who your opponent is, you win,” he says.
“Who would we even get?” Lazio asks.
“I was just speaking to dad about that. There are six fighters that have trained packs or specifically, Alphas, in the past. They are older, but they all have a different fighting style. Dad is going to reach out and see if we can schedule them to come in two weeks at a time. That way, you learn the technique, and have time to practice before the next one comes in. He’s gone off to start calling now, expecting that the other Alphas will be doing the same thing.”
I look at the end of the table and sure enough, my father is gone. My mother is now sitting beside Makayla who is bouncing in her seat.
“That’s a great idea,” Lazio says. “Yeah, let’s just hope we can get all of them.” Maggie says, looking around. When I follow her line of sight, I realize that nearly all of the Alphas are gone. Damn, my father was right. They’re all trying to strengthen the odds of their pack members winning.
I’m just about to turn back to my family when I hear his deep voice behind me.
“Excuse me, Alpha Evangeline. May I have this dance?” Jaxon asks, coming to stand beside me and holding out his hand.
I look up into those grey eyes, dancing with mischief.
“Alpha Jaxon, I would be honored,” I say, laying my hand inside of his.
He leads me onto the dance floor. Belatedly, I realize that it’s a slow song.
He pulls me to him, wrapping his arms around my waist. I slide my arms around his neck.
“There, that’s much better,” he says.