Authors: Alison Walsh
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental
copyright @ 2014 by Alison Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
Remy checked the slivered moon dangling sharp in the wintry night before shifting. Silver fur sprouted down her neck and her nose grew longer, turning into a snout. Her trimmed nails thickened into razor-sharp claws and powerful muscles banded around her arms. Blood pounded at her ears and Remy fought the urge to throw her head back and howl.
. She told her wolf. If she howled, she might be caught. Remy had been caught once before when she took off running in the woods. Her pack Alpha Cornelius Van Houten was livid when he found out.
“You could’ve been killed! A hunter perhaps, or worse, one of Christensen’s savages!” Van Houten’s sharp voice still rang in Remy’s ears.
Blake Christensen’s pack hung over Remy’s life like a dagger in the dark. Growing up, she heard all the stories about young wolves too curious for their own good, who wandered too far and were never seen again. Somehow, all the disappearances were always blamed on Christensen’s pack—wild wolves who didn’t adhere to the rules that governed the civilized werewolf world. They preyed on lone wandering wolves.
But those are just stories
, Remy thought dismissively.
Just stories meant to scare little pups into staying at home.
Her pack had long turned away from the old ways of the wolves. True, they may still live in the woods but they lived in huts and houses rather than beneath the stars. No true wolves, Remy always secretly muttered to herself. A wolf was meant to run and hunt, not cramped in tiny houses and mulling over things like taxes and income!
When the transformation was complete, the forest around Remy came to life in a way that was fitting only for wolves. The dark night turned as bright as day and a rich plethora of scents filled her nose. This
is how we’re supposed to live!
Remy thought as she trotted gleefully in the dark. An owl hooted half a mile away and the slivered moon urged Remy to run faster.
The night was beckoning and she’ll be damned if anyone tried to stop her.
She darted over a fallen log, easily clearing it in one fluid motion. In her human form, Remy was big and clumsy. As a wolf, she was more graceful than any of her peers. The familiar smell of her pack’s marked territory was fading behind her as Remy ran but she didn’t care.
It had been so long since she snuck out. Almost a year now come to think of it. In just a year, so many things have changed. One by one, her friends were mated and paired off with other wolves, some so old that they could’ve been their fathers. Remy was the last and at twenty-three years, the oldest unmated woman of the pack.
Remy didn’t want a mate. She didn’t want to be tied down to a single person, to be mounted whenever
wanted, to become nothing more than a brood mare for the pack, to be a mother before she’d even seen the world. She wanted to run free, to chase the moon and the rivers and the woods. Was that too much to ask for?
, she decided bitterly as she slipped under a pine branch that showered her with green fragrant needles
Her best friend Justine was the first to be mated. The poor girl sobbed throughout the ceremony. Then it was Sarah’s turn, then Josie, and even cross-eyed Alana. But luckily for Remy, her turn never came but that didn’t stop the suitors lining up outside her home day and night, their baying howls keeping her from sleep. But Remy knew that her turn would come soon and she dreaded the morning when her father would march into her room with the news that they’ve finally found a mate for her.
On nights when she couldn’t sneak out, she dreamed of running in the wilds.
In her dream, she was running out on the same path she was at. But she wasn’t alone. Another wolf was running beside her. He was big and had a rich black coat that seemed to suck all the light from the moon.
But it wasn’t the thought of running with the wolf that made Remy’s heart race. In her dream, they would come upon a meandering stream in a clearing. There, he nuzzled her neck with his snout, and then she would turn and lower herself before him as his powerful legs pressed close to her body. Her heart was quickening again.
Her padded paws carried her silently through the thickets and she was slavering at her mouth as her breath clouded the air around her. The wind picked up and she smelled the cold—smoky and dense—around her. It promised snow and Remy’s heart sped up at the tantalizing thought of running through a layer of fresh-fallen powder. But more importantly, she thought about the wolf of her dreams.
She was far enough that only traces of her pack’s scent remained in the air. Slowing down, Remy sat on her haunches and threw her head back in a long howl.
The sound echoed in the trees and rocks and gurgling streams. It lit a fire in Remy’s heart and teased her with the possibilities that were always just another few dashes away. She threw her head back again.
Again and again she howled, her heart relishing in the freedom of it all. When at last she grew bored, Remy turned around and started heading back with her howl still echoing in the dark.
Suddenly something answered.
It was deep, masculine, and alive with power. Remy froze.
Her wolf snapped at the sound and urged her to go find it but Remy was paralyzed. In all her time running, she’d never heard another wolf. Suddenly she realized how cold it was and turned back. The unknown wolf continued to howl and Remy shuddered each time the sound reached her ear as she hurried back. It wasn’t until she was in her room and under her sheets—heart pounding—that she felt the patch of warm slippery wetness between her thighs.
Dawn was spreading the sky with rosy fingers when Remy slipped off into sleep. But the howl remained in her mind, calling her to the tantalizing wild.
“Remy.” Her father’s voice dropped low and dangerous, growling as he stared at her across the breakfast table. “The decision has been made.” he explained, voice iron-hard. “Alpha Van Houten has already made all the necessary approvals. The ceremony will take place three days from now.”
“No.” Remy shook her head and stood up. “I won’t do it, dad. I won’t.”
It had finally happened. Her worst nightmare—the day when her father would come home and tell her that a mate has been found her, that her life is now forever his, and that she had no other choice, no chance to rebel, no opportunity to stand up and say no.
And in her mind she knew the wolf her father had given her to was not the black wolf of her dreams, knew because her own wolf was restless and whimpering.
“Remy, sweetheart…” Her mother took her hand but Remy shrugged it away.
“What did you say?” Her father narrowed his eyes.
“I won’t do it.” Remy said it again.
Never. Never. Never!
“Yes you will.” Her father closed the door behind him.
Remy blinked fiercely, fighting back the tears. “What if I don’t want a mate? What if I never want a mate?”
Her father glared at her. “That is not a decision for you to make. You
have your mate and you will make amends for the transgression you’ve shown to the Alpha on your nightly escapades.”
Her father’s tone brooked no more arguments and Remy knew better than to argue further. She took a trembling breath. “My mate. Who is he?”
“Aaron Van Houten.” Her father replied. “The Alpha’s son.”
Remy’s heart sank into a pit and she felt dizzy. Her stomach tied itself into knots and she wanted to throw up.
Hours later, Remy sat outside with her best friend Justine on a fallen log, brooding in her own thoughts. Clouds moved in and hid the sun, bathing the world in a coat of grey. She watched her breath tumble and roll in the air as hot tears streaked down her face. She passed several of her friends who congratulated her on her soon-to-be mated status but knew that their congratulations were nothing but empty words meant to satisfy their own mates nearby.
“It won’t be so bad, Remy.” Justine assured her. “It’s a great honor to be mated to the Alpha’s son.”
“I don’t care about honor.” Remy snapped. “How can my dad do this to me?”
“Our fathers often need to do the best things for the pack. You come from a strong bloodline. It’s proper for your blood to be mated with the Alpha’s.” Justine draped her arm over Remy’s shoulder and squeezed. “Maybe you’ll even love Aaron in due time.”
Remy laughed bitterly. “I don’t think so. Did you ever come to love
Justine looked away briefly. “I did. In time I did.” She squeezed Remy. “So will you. Besides, Aaron isn’t that bad looking.”
“That’s not the point.” Remy pushed Justine away and hugged herself. “It’s… He’s…” There were no words that Remy could find to describe Aaron Van Houten. Perhaps she might have harbored feelings for him when they were children, but that had been years ago. She thought he’d moved on from that. The years have drowned all feelings she had for Aaron Van Houten. Finally, she asked. “Would you willingly be his mate?”
Justine looked away. “I already have a mate, Remy.”
“Answer the question.”
The clouds darkened overhead and first snowflakes of the season started drifting lazily down. Finally, Justine said. “No.”
“No.” Remy agreed. “So what makes you think I would?”
That night, Aaron Van Houten paid the Clearwater family a visit to express his happiness at the match. Remy kept her face neutral throughout the whole meeting. Aaron wasn’t ugly by any means but neither was he handsome. In fact, if there was a single word that Remy would’ve used to describe him, it would be
There was nothing special about his face, nothing special about his height, and nothing special about his personality. He was easy to overlook in a crowd and even easier to overlook in desire. He might be able to make her smile but he certainly didn’t make a girl’s heart flutter.
I thought mates were supposed to make you flush and giggle like some stupid little girl?
Remy thought bitterly as she sat there listening to Aaron make stupid jokes with her father. Every once in a while, they’d ask her something and she answered as curtly as possible until her father shot her a quick dark glance.
She could finally take no more. “May I be excused?” She asked.
“What for?” Her father asked.
She looked outside. The snow was coming down harder than before. “It’s the first snowfall of the year, dad. I want to see it.”
“I can accompany her, Mr. Clearwater, if you’re worried about her safety.” Aaron offered.
“No, I’d rather be alone.” Remy mustered a weak smile. “One last time before we’re mated.”
“Of course, of course.” Aaron nodded. “Take as long as you need.”
Snowflakes danced and melted in her hair.
Three days, three days and I’ll be mated to Aaron Van Houten.
Her wolf clawed inside her at the thought.
Calm down, girl, I don’t want it any more than you.
She closed her eyes and choked back the tears and bile rising in her throat. She didn’t want to think about the inevitable ceremony when the men of the pack would tear her clothes off until she was naked as the day she was born so Aaron Van Houten could mount her. Her wolf snarled and snapped, raging.
A new image suddenly drifted into her mind. A large wolf with a rich black coat that seemed to suck all the light from the moon stalked close to her. Her wolf purred in approval.
, his eyes—steely blue like the bright star Sirius—said.
Run away from him, run away from them, run to
And the slippery warmth was pooling between her thighs again.
Remy opened her eyes. The night was coming alive. The snow gave the world an otherworldly light. The fragrances of the woods assaulted her nose. Sticky pine sap and the smoky cold. When did she shift?
Without so much as a look behind her, Remy dashed into the night. Snow trailed her, piling on her silver coat. The night was cold and full of wonders. She sprinted, picking up speed each time her padded paws brushed across the top of the fresh powder. To where, Remy had no idea.