Authors: Dawn Forrest
Joanna and her mother, Katherine, are rare female werewolves who can procreate without the mating bond specific to true-mates. They are highly prized by unmated males who want heirs, especially the powerful Alphas and Primes.
When Jo meets Yuri and Vlad Volkov, twin Alphas of the Siberian Pack and her true-mates, she knows that she will not have to endure a lonely, stressful life on the run like her mother.
The full moon is rapidly approaching, filling Jo with equal amounts of elation and fear. It is the only time werewolves are fertile and when they can form a true mating bond. Jo and her mates will become united forever, but Jo also knows that her mother is in great danger at this time. Who can she trust to help?
Katherine waits in a secret, isolated location, but is it safe enough from a sadistic Prime who is desperate to find and enslave her? Will Jo be able to help her mother in time to begin her life with the men she loves?
Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Paranormal, Vampires/Werewolves
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage Amour
Copyright © 2011 by Dawn Forrest
E-book ISBN: 1-61926-116-2
First E-book Publication: November 2011
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2011 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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To my mom for passing on her love of fantasy and science fiction.
Copyright © 2011
Katherine Akara awoke alone in the large four-poster bed feeling lonely yet relieved that Connor was not there. Now that she was pregnant, he didn’t visit her every night. It was still dark in her tower room, but when she turned her head toward the window she saw the weak, phantom gray tones of a Scottish winter dawn approaching. Some days the gloom never lifted and the day remained overcast, drab and dreary, subduing her normally lively spirit. She hoped for a bright crisp day, a clear blue sky, frost on the ground, and sharp fresh air. She lay on her back and absentmindedly rubbed her belly. Five months, and a prominent bump showed.
She couldn’t help but think about how much her life had changed in the past six months, since she had “become” at the age of twenty-two. Crikey, what a shocker that had been for everyone, her family, her Pack, and most of all
Prior to her “becoming” she had lived in New Zealand with her parents as part of the small Maori Pack and led the relatively normal, sheltered life of a young female Were. Like all Weres, she was human and something else. Normally only the males of her kind were werewolves and compelled to shift into the form of a beast by the full moon. She was different.
She stifled a sniffle when she thought of how much she missed her parents and longed for the familiar scents and sounds of her family and birth Pack.
What can’t be changed must be endured. There’s no use in wasting tears on self-pity. I’m from a long line of warriors, darn it, and warriors don’t bawl like little whelping pups.
She set her shoulders and chin firm, tightly clenched her jaw, and breathed deeply through her nose until the urge to cry passed. She had always been considered strong, never pathetic. Casting her mind back, she realized that the signs of her werewolf genes had probably been there all along, if only they had thought to look or had even considered the possibility. Pack members had commented on her robustness, and her father often expressed pride at her agility and stamina, but it never occurred to them to question why. The Maori Pack had been caught completely unaware at her first “becoming” on one fateful full-moon night because normally only male Weres inherited the beast gene She was the only known female werewolf in existence, and they were totally unprepared for the effect it would have on the unmated males of their kind. Everyone knew the stories—more myths, really—about female werewolves, but they hadn’t considered the implications. At that first “becoming,” her scent changed, and overnight she became a sex magnet for unmated males. Her Pack went into disarray, but fortunately her Alpha was mated and therefore unaffected by her pheromones. With considerable effort he managed to protect her and reestablish order.
She had often bemoaned the fact that females of her kind were closely supervised and discouraged from fraternizing with human men, but she understood it could end badly for the human. Far fewer female Weres were born than males, but they nearly always found a werewolf true-mate. According to the Lore, a female werewolf was unique in being able to produce offspring with
male Were, without the normal necessity of a mating bond. The reaction of unmated males to her scent suggested that this was true.
The news of her “becoming” had spread like a wind-whipped bushfire after a long drought. Within days she received entreaties from Prime Alphas and Alphas around the world, all wanting to claim her. She had been shocked, not realizing until then just how desperate some males were to claim a mate and have children. At first she had been foolishly flattered and excited because she had suddenly become a priceless prize for those unmated werewolves who desired to procreate and continue their bloodline, especially the more dominant, often older, Alphas and Primes. What young woman wouldn’t like the attention? Now she rued the night of her “becoming” because she understood that her destined role in life was to be a brood mare to any werewolf strong and mean enough to keep and protect her. She who was independent in nature and who loved to run free was now a prisoner of her genes, the moon, and unmated males.
It’s so bloody unjust.
She silently fumed, anger overcoming upset.
A kidnap attempt had been the final straw, and even though her small Pack were respected warriors, they quickly realized that they could no longer adequately protect her. She hadn’t wanted anyone from her Pack to be hurt for her sake, so she’d reluctantly allowed her parents and her well-meaning Alpha to choose the best male from those wishing to claim her. Secret negotiations were entered into with the strongest unmated Prime Alphas who presided over several Packs and usually held larger territory. She knew it was for the best and made only one request, to eliminate Ashok Khan, the Indian Prime Alpha, from the list of potential candidates, because of his cruel reputation.
Just over six months had passed since Connor McDonald had negotiated, paid, and fought for the right to claim and mate with her. He was the Alpha of the Scots Pack, and Prime over all the Anglo-Celtic Packs that covered the rest of Britain and Ireland. There had been only three fight challenges from other contenders because Connor was a formidable werewolf, and responsible Alphas picked their battles prudently. The loser was the first to yield, but accidents happened even in organized challenge fights. Alphas were not careless with their lives because the safety and security of their Pack members was also at stake. The structure and well-being of a Pack would be greatly affected by an Alpha’s demise.
She didn’t love Connor, but she respected him and knew him to be a good, if somewhat-gruff, man. He was 372 years old and desperate for heirs that, until now, only his true-mate would have been able to give him. Because of werewolf extended longevity, he only appeared to be in his mid-thirties. His Scottish heritage was clearly proclaimed by his unruly, thick red hair, pale skin, and ruddy complexion. As with most of their kind, she supposed he could be considered to be handsome and well built, but to be honest, it wasn’t a look she favored. She had always fancied darker, golden-skinned men, like the Maori male Weres of her Pack.
She felt like both a princess and a sex slave. Connor treated her well but wanted sex often. He was good and kind to her and nearly always tried to be gentle, except on their first full-moon run together when they had both changed and she, due to instinct, had run from him. It had triggered the predator in his beast to hunt her down. She snorted to herself when she thought back to that night, proud that she had given him the chase of his life and that when he eventually caught her, she had snarled, snapped, and fought every thick inch of his initial invasion before finally submitting. The ensuing mating had been feral, hard and quick.
They never spoke of that night, but a few days later she had found a diamond-and-emerald bracelet on her pillow, by way of thanks and apology. She didn’t blame him or hate him, he had only acted on instinct, but her heart hardened a little more, like the gems in his sparkling gift. A matching necklace appeared when she discovered she was pregnant, and nothing she desired was too much trouble, nothing except her freedom.
A werewolf’s first “becoming” was linked to sexual maturity, and so they had all been concerned about how the fetus would cope when she shifted into her beast form. So far everything seemed fine, and the baby was found to be healthy when checked after each full moon. They speculated that either her womb protected the babe or it also shifted because of the umbilical connection. Either way, she was always relieved to know that the little life inside her continued to flourish.
She knew that she would only feel complete with her true-mate, but despite this, she already loved her unborn child and perhaps that love would be enough and sustain her through the years. She scowled and growled as she thought about how Connor restricted her contact to only mated males and females. She hadn’t yet met her true-mate, and Connor wasn’t taking any chances. If she bonded to her true-mate, she would take his scent as she took his mark on the full moon, and there would never be another. She wondered if, somewhere out there in the world, her true-mate was looking, yearning for her as she was for him. It was tragically common for a werewolf male to go for many years and sometimes a whole long lifetime without finding his true-mate. Was it any different for her?
She was about to turn over and go back to sleep when she heard the angry shouts of men and heavy footfalls below, in the courtyard of the Scottish castle. The loud staccato retort of gunfire had her jerking upright, clutching the thick duck-down duvet to her chest. Suddenly her door flew open, crashing back against the stone wall, and Alison, the mate to Robert, the Pack Beta, burst into the room. Alison was a broad, strong Scottish woman who was her assigned companion.
“We’re under attack, Katherine. We must leave the castle while we can.”
Her training kicked in, and while Alison barred the thick wooden door with a sturdy plank of wood, Katherine leapt out of bed. She didn’t bother to change out of her pajamas or put on socks. She just quickly jammed her feet into her thick, fleece-lined leather boots. She ran to the large dressing room and grabbed the emergency pack with a change of clothes, passports, and bankcards to several secret personal accounts. It seemed that Connor, with all his preparations, had not been unduly paranoid.
Katherine was not yet trusted with the ten-digit code that unlocked the reinforced hidden door to their escape route. While she waited for Alison, she pulled a winter coat off a hanger and hastily shrugged it on and then grabbed the bottle of cologne that under normal circumstances a Were would never use and sprayed the room and herself. The cloying, pungent fragrance brought tears to her eyes and irritated her sensitive nose, but it might also help to disguise her own alluring scent.
Alison shoved clothes aside on a rail and entered the access code on the keypad on the wall. A second later a door at the back of the closet clicked open, revealing a small space within the thick outer stone wall and a steel ladder that led down to a secret underground tunnel. When she’d first seen it she’d had the urge to shout, “To the Bat Cave!” However, she’d known that Connor would not appreciate the humor and would have scowled at her for not taking security more seriously. It now looked as if his attitude was appropriate. She wasn’t laughing now.
Katherine dropped the backpack down the hole and began to follow it down, using the ladder. Alison was next but first turned to rearrange the clothes hangers and shut the secret door behind her. Just as they were swallowed by almost-complete darkness, Katherine heard pounding on the bedroom door. For a long moment they both froze in terror on the rungs of the ladder, and then the unmistakable sound of splintering wood galvanized her into action. She gripped the sides with her hands and feet and let herself slide quickly down, as they had practiced many times. Alison followed, and Katherine had to roll clumsily to the side when she landed on the hard ground to avoid Alison crashing into her from above. They could hear more wood splintering and vicious-sounding snarls from above. She fearfully wondered what the hell was making that feral noise.
“Three-two-seven-nine.” Alison gasped, giving her the code for the door at the other end of the tunnel. She pressed car keys into her hand. “D’nay wait fer me. Go!”
Katherine picked up the backpack and without hesitation began to sprint down the half-mile-long, cold, damp, narrow passage. The way was lit with only weak glow lights, but it was enough for her enhanced werewolf night vision to see by. Although pregnant, Katherine was still fitter and faster than a mated female Were like Alison, whose father was a werewolf. She reached the end of the tunnel well ahead of her companion and used another keypad to unlock the door to the shed in the forest.
The shed looked like a forestry equipment store from the outside and was built up against the slope of the hill on which the castle sat proud. She opened the outside door, then flung herself into the driver’s side of the Range Rover and started the engine. A second later she heard a gunshot echoing from the tunnel and an inhuman roar.
Someone must have followed them, someone fast. Alison had a .38 caliber special snubnosed revolver with silver bullets. Hopefully it would stop a two-hundred-and-fifty-pound male werewolf in human form, or at least slow him down. She hoped that Alison was okay and briefly thought about going back, but the chance of her stopping a male werewolf was zero, and she had her unborn child to think about. She was certain that whatever came through that door next, it wouldn’t be her companion.
She jammed her foot on the accelerator and slammed the stick into first. The engine roared, but the vehicle moved sluggishly. Hell, the hand brake was still on. With sweating, shaking hands she managed to release it, and the big turbo-charged, four-wheel-drive vehicle lurched out of the shed. Panting with panic, she glanced in the rearview mirror, into the face of a huge man standing behind the car.
Oh my God.
He was as close to changing as was possible without the full moon. His muscles were pumped, his fingers ended with long, wicked talons, his teeth elongated into sharp points, and he was covered in blood. Dear Lord, she recognized that cruel face from the few photographs she’d seen. It was Ashok Khan, and he was pissed.
“Stop, woman,” he shouted loudly.
Katherine slammed on the brakes, and she saw his face flush with arrogant satisfaction. The look quickly morphed into one of shock and disbelief as she shifted the vehicle into reverse and hit the gas. She heard a roar of what sounded like a curse—it was in Hindi, but some things you just know—followed by a sickening thud as he disappeared from view. It was her turn to look satisfied.