Authors: Cassie Wright
FALLING FOR THE ALPHAS
by Cassie Wright
The hot sensual warmth of Naomi's rest was shattered by the sound of a piercing howl. She sat upright, the pelt that Kayden had draped over her naked form sliding to the ground. Where was Kayden? Gone. She was alone in his den. The sweet ache between her legs was testament to the ardor of their lovemaking, and when the second howl rang out she realized with a pang that she had forgotten Dylan's warning: if you don't return by sunset, I will come for you.
Heart thudding in her chest, Naomi pushed herself to her feet and nearly groaned out loud. She'd had no idea how sore she would be after taking everything that Kayden had had to give. Casting around, she found her clothing and hurried to pull on the jeans, only to startle again at the sound of screaming metal and sharp barks of fury. The Silver Song pack. They had come for her! She pulled the jeans on, grabbed the plaid shirt, and ran for the door even as she pushed her arms into each sleeve.
Bare chested, she stepped out into the warehouse, and froze. War had been unleashed upon the contained space, and everywhere werewolves fought with fang and talon. Great furred shapes moved almost too fast for her to track, huge muscles bunching beneath pelts of black and gray and brown fur as they surged and ducked and fought. Snarls and barks of pain filled the air. A werewolf was launched into the air from a particularly powerful blow and sent crashing into the wall, causing the metal siding to bulge out and nearly collapse.
Naomi's throat felt like it was going to constrict. No. No. It couldn't end like this, werewolf slaying werewolf as Stark laughed from the shadows.
She ran forward a few steps. "Stop! Stop this, please!"
None of them slowed or even glanced at her. A massive white-furred werewolf wielding what looked like a massive stone sledgehammer brought it whistling down where a lithe, black furred wolf had stood but a moment before, cratering the cement floor as she leaped aside. Naomi looked around helplessly. Blood glistened on torn hides, coated talons and muzzles. Where were they? The alphas?
There - in the center of the space. Kayden, vast and powerful, fur thick and iron gray, facing against Dylan, leaner and poised to leap, pelt that dark chocolate hue, eyes slitted with fury. About to attack, about to kill each other.
All because of her. Naomi felt her fury and fear building up within her, too powerful for her to hold. She had found something pure, something beautiful, something true, where she belonged, a family, and now it was tearing itself apart. Tears burned her eyes. She saw Kayden edge to the left, saw Dylan deepen his crouch. She had to stop them. Naomi heard a rushing in her ears, as if a gale wind were roaring past her head, felt her chest expand as if she had breathed too deep, and then with a strange and newfound power she let loose the cry that could not be denied: "STOP!"
Illixy burst into view and filled the interior of the warehouse with his liquid flowing bands of gold and silver. He was incandescent like a miniature sun, and power radiated from him in tangible waves. All shadows were banished in his presence, and his sacred light coated all wolves the same shifting hue of platinum and titanium. Growing, swelling, he floated higher into the air, moving forward, and Naomi stared at him in wonder. Never had she seen Illixy do anything akin to this.
Stop this discord. I am the totem-seed, the peace-bringer, light against the dark, the home of your heart and spirit.
Every wolf stopped what it was doing. The massive white furred monster dropped its sledge hammer. Dylan rose out of his crouch, golden eyes wide with wonder. Claws were lowered, maws closed. As one, the two packs turned to the floating totem spirit.
Every werewolf, Naomi realized, but one.
Kayden stood, snarling, one hand raised to block the light from his eyes. Foam flecked his muzzle, and he shook with repressed fury and anger. "Nobody commands me within my own packhome!"
His voice was a blood curdling roar. Though Illixy didn't change, he seemed to orient himself on the alpha of the Vengeance.
I bring unity. I bring harmony. Release your rage.
Naomi could see Kayden fight against Illixy's intense might. The totem-seed's displeasure weighed heavily as if a cloak of lead were draped over their shoulders. One werewolf after another lowered to one knee, planted a palm on the ground. She saw Dylan fight to remain standing, and then cease to resist and kneel. Only Kayden remained upright, his massive tail slicing through the air.
Naomi felt her heart squeeze with sorrow. Such fury. Such blind anger! She thought of the man she had just been with, his arrogance, his primal confidence, and of the darkness that lived in his spirit, the hunger for revenge. He had even considered joining with Dylan, had come so close in her arms, now here he was straining back against Illixy - almost as if through sheer stubbornness.
"I am the alpha." Kayden's voice was strangled now. It took all his strength to remain on his feet. "Nobody commands me. There is no peace. There is only vengeance. And it. Will. Be mine."
Illixy pulsed, brighter and brighter. He would not be denied. Kayden stumbled back a step, then a second. Naomi wanted to run to him, to take his massive arm, to pull him down, to bring him into the packs, to unite him with his brothers and sisters. But she saw that he would not. Rather than submit, he turned with a roar and bounded through a rent in the warehouse wall. Like that he was gone, and just as quickly Illixy relaxed his glorious light, faded to his normal size, and floated down to hover over Naomi's shoulder.
Every werewolf stared at her, eyes wide. She wanted to shrink back, but instead simply pulled her shirt closed over her ample breasts. "Enough." Her voice was soft. "Enough of this madness." She looked from one wolf to the next, and finally to Dylan. He had shifted down to his human form, and as he rose to his feet she found it hard to meet his gaze. "Enough fighting. Please. We have to work together. We have to, or Stark will defeat us all."
"She speaks the truth." Dylan's voice was powerful. He stepped forward, walked toward her, and then turned to gaze out over the two packs. "Last night Stark tested our boundary around Manistee. A first, but definitely not the last. We've stood divided until now. Two alphas. Two packs. Neither strong enough to win this war." He reached down and took her hand, then raised it in the air, their fingers intertwined. Naomi glanced over at him, unsure, heart racing once more. "But the spirits have sent us a totem-seed, and a new pack mother. This is our chance. To change our destiny. To rewrite our fate."
All eyes were on him. Dylan seemed to almost shiver with his intensity of emotion. "Vengeance pack. Your alpha has fled. I do not ask that you follow my lead. Not yet. But a new day is dawning. A new light has come amongst us. Stark's days are numbered, and soon, very soon, we shall stand together."
His words hung in the air, stirring and strong, and Naomi looked from wolf to wolf, noting which seemed eager and excited, which conflicted and wary.
Still holding her hand, Dylan spoke anew, voice softer. "The Silver Song pack will leave now. When Kayden returns, tell him that I wish to speak with him once more."
Half the werewolves peeled away from where they stood and fell in behind Dylan as he walked across the center of the warehouse toward the door. Naomi followed, the cement floor rough under her bare feet. Illixy slowly faded from sight, as if expended, until he was gone. The Vengeance pack watched them go, and none moved to stop them.
It was dusk outside. Shadows were lengthening. Her borrowed jeep was parked across the street, next to Dylan's motorbike and a white van.
"Dylan." He stopped and turned to her. The other wolves moved up and into human form, heading toward the van to wait by its side. He searched her face with his golden eyes, face tight.
"I can smell him on you." His words were soft, and she could hear the pain in them. "His scent mixed in with yours. You mated."
Naomi's face immediately burned. The way he said it was strange - not an accusation, but seeking an affirmation of fact. She nodded, feeling as awkward as a high schooler. "We did." She curled a strand of hair behind her ear. In that moment she knew she had a choice - she could either claim her action, stand in a position of strength, or she could apologize, seek to explain. She took a deep breath. "It's the only way."
"The only way?" He looked almost bewildered, and for the first time appeared his age - a young man in his early twenties. "You told me you were going to talk. Not mate with him." He lowered his voice. "Have you - did you decide? To make him your mate?"
"No!" That came out quicker than she intended. "No, not at all. Or, only in so much as I've picked you too." God, it killed her to say these things out loud. She felt her face blush once more.
Dylan clenched his jaw as he studied her. As he tried to process her words. "I think I understand." His voice was still rough with intensity. "But come. Let's get out of here. It isn't safe once darkness falls. You have the jeep's keys?"
She nodded and handed them over. He tossed them underhand across the street to where a beautiful packmate of his stood, lean and rangy and with light blond hair pulled back into a tight braid. She snatched the keys out of the air, and unlocked the jeep. Still holding her hand, Dylan led her over to his bike. She thought to climb on behind him, but instead he pulled her into his arms, the gesture confident, sudden. Before she knew it, his hands were linked behind the small of her back, her body pressed against his. She could feel the strength in his arms. How firm and broad his chest was. Looking up, she felt as if she were falling into his golden gaze.
"Naomi, when you didn't return, I nearly lost it." His voice was husky. He didn't care that his packmates were close by. Of course not - he was the alpha. "I came here ready to do anything to save you. I thought the worst. That Kayden had hurt you. Forced himself upon you. Was keeping you prisoner. I realized then that I was willing to do whatever it took to rescue you. Whatever it took."
Naomi placed her hands on his chest. It was like touching a sun-warmed stone. His smell enveloped her, masculine and natural like the woods. No words. She couldn't think.
"And even as I hold you, I can smell him." His voice low, tortured. "His scent imprinted on you. As if you were his mate already." She opened her mouth to speak, but he shook his head. "No. I just wanted you to know. How this challenges my instincts. How hard this is for me as an alpha. But for you. For you I am willing to try."
Naomi gazed up into his eyes, and saw beyond his strength a willingness to embrace vulnerability, a flexibility that made Kayden look strangely brittle in comparison. She saw his pain, and how he was willing to accept it and keep going. Learn to live with it. Adapt. Thought of Kayden turning and fleeing the warehouse. A different kind of strength. A different kind of dedication to the greater good. She dry swallowed.
"Thank you, Dylan."
He leaned his head down, and pressed his cheek to hers. She closed her eyes, and despite the ache between her legs felt a tingle run through her, a loosening, a liquid heat. There was a natural nobility to Dylan that surprised her. The kind of regal grace that she had only ever seen in stallions. She pressed her cheek to his. Wanted to pull him closer, to brush his lips with her own, but before she could he pulled back. He took a husky breath, and then smiled at her. "Come. Let's go."
They rode back to Anna's House. This time Naomi sat behind Dylan, legs astride his bike, arms wrapped around his lean torso. She rested her head against his broad back, and watched the city slide by as they leaned into the turns and raced down the straight roads. Her heart was torn. Her mind full of Illixy's glory and memories of Kayden's body as he mated with her. And here she was, her arms around another alpha. Where was Kayden? She thought of his pain and rage, how he had turned away from the comfort of unity with the packs and stood alone, shaking and determined to wage his one-wolf war against Stark.
Had she thought she understood these creatures? These beings of primal power and fury? Her solution had seemed so simple. Alluring, the stuff of fantasies. And for a moment, it had seemed as if it was working. Kayden had entertained the idea of sharing her. Even as he had taken her, his voice rough with need, his hands strong and demanding, he had thought of splitting the city in two. In that moment she had felt amazing, on fire, powerful, feminine.