Authors: Sascha Illyvich
HIS REIGN (THE OPETH PACK SAGA SERIES, BOOK 1)
Copyright © 2016 by Sascha Illyvich (as revised)
ity Lights Press
P.O. Box 620427
Las Vegas, NV 89162
ll rights reserved
. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means without the prior written consent of the publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
irst E-book Publication
: October 2013
, Kaitlyn, Lili, Diane, Sari, Hollie, Barbara, Jody, Julie, Annette, and the rest of the Silver Wolf Prince Street Team, thank you.
Stella Price, Stephanie Burke, Honoraria, the usual suspects, thank you for your support when this was written. Morgan, you know you've always got my heart because of the things you've taught me and the fact that you've taken the time to do so. I'll make you proud. The dead in this series all lived in Hayward with us at some point in that terrible time in our lives. Seletta and I are lucky to have experienced the pain and misery, so we'd enjoy the beauty.
To my readers, thank you for your continual support. It means the world to me and for that I am eternally blessed.
City Lights Press
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ou don't have a life
, son. Your life belongs to the pack and to us. And to me." Kiba, Opeth Pack Alpha stood over Józsi after the fight, pointing a gnarled finger in his face. "You bow down to this way of life or you die."
Józsi scrambled to his feet. He brushed his shoulders off and spat blood on the ground before Kiba. "Fuck off, old man. You're crazy and this is no life."
Before Józsi realized it, he'd found himself knocked back to the ground.
"If you know what's good for you, you'll stay down and respect my authority as Alpha of this God damn pack."
Stubborn as he was, Józsi remained on the ground, ashamed of himself and how his life had gone so far. Barely seventeen years old, he'd been fighting with the others for years, training really. Kiba had told him of his place in the pack as…what was it again?
Józsi shook his head, snapping out of his memories. Once Kiba had left, he’d realized only one choice lay before him if he were to avoid a bloody future with this rag tag bunch of animals.
It hadn't taken long to steal from Kiba enough money to pay for a plane ticket and get the hell out of Hungary. Of course Les hadn't told Kiba when he’d caught Józsi, but he did give a warning. "This may stray you off course but only for a short while. You are supposed to rise up and be Alpha, Józsi."
The younger wolf had scoffed and scrambled out of Kiba's house. He'd found a way to the airport via hitchhiking, using some of the stolen forints to pay gas fare to the first truck that picked him up alongside the road.
Now, Józsi stood at the gates waiting to board his flight to America, taking him through Charles DeGaulle in France. Once on American soil, he'd start his new life. Thankfully, there were so many people traveling today. That helped him to hide his true nature.
Nobody had paid much attention to him other than security and the dogs had sniffed him until he growled at them. Then the big dogs just whimpered and backed down.
When he’d stepped through security earlier, Józsi had taken one last look back at what was no longer his home. Images of a sixteen-year-old with light brown hair holding her pack sister’s hand filled his head. Ilona had watched him go with round, sad eyes. The softer one between the pair of lovers he'd been with looked at him with longing.
Lukina, the younger of his two mates, hadn’t seemed to understand what was going on, but then she was only ten years old. She had been standing beside Ilona, her beautiful curls bouncing over her shoulders, tears streaming down her face.
“You’ll be back, right, Józsi?”
He could only shake his head from side to side. How could he tell them he chose free will over slavery?
“Why are you doing this,
How could he explain to her why he was leaving? He wasn't sure himself, other than knowing he wanted no part in the overall role of Alpha nor did he want anything to do with prophecy. Józsi hadn’t looked at Ilona. Disgust filled his mind and heart. He was only seventeen, but he was old enough to realize what he was doing. Hearing Ilona sob behind him had torn at his heart.
He had to do this.
Boarding the plane to America, he realized his life was on a course with destiny if he stayed in Hungary, but if he left, he could control his fate and if he failed, so be it. It would be just the one life impacted. He knew that eventually Ilona and Lukina would forget about him and his absence, but it wouldn't be easy.
How could he look back and tell them it'd be all right?
He couldn't. He just didn’t know if he’d ever get over them.
The plane took off, the pressure shoving Józsi against his seat.
Half an hour into service, Józsi ordered a stiff drink. The stress on his body aged his face enough that the stewardess wouldn't ask for ID when he'd asked for a brandy.
After the drink arrived, Józsi settled back in his chair and closed his eyes. It would all be over soon. Kiba, their pack Alpha, would help the pack stay united, grow stronger and remain hidden amongst the people of Hungary.
That’s how the natural order should be. As long as Józsi remained in control of his life, the pack could go fuck itself.
He sighed. Sipping his brandy, he thought about his new journey to America. Hopefully he knew enough English to get around, but if not, he was a quick study. Texas was going to be a new experience for him.
It’d be a scary experience. But at least he’d get away from the pack and all the damn prophecies of him ruling something he had no interest in.
His life would finally be his own.
t never snowed
this early in Texas. Especially not in November in Houston. Still, looking out of the window onto the streets of downtown Houston, Józsi saw the snow fall. The faint idea that there would be a lot of people finding out that a cold winter actually did not mean shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt amused him.
Unless you were lupine. Then you simply didn’t give a fuck about the weather.
Nothing in the States could compare to the harsh winters in any Eastern European country.
Józsi inhaled sharply and cold air from the open window filled his lungs. Picking up his glass of Hungarian red wine, he took a long slow sip and sighed. The warm liquid slid down his throat but didn’t have the same warming effect as the brandy he’d had the night before.
Closing his eyes, he leaned back into the soft leather recliner and picked up the cigar he’d just lit. He took a draw and exhaled, filing the room with the scent of tobacco, cocoa, and smoke. The scent reminded him of growing up in Hungary. He smoked the same cigars his father smoked, Proprio. Drank the same red wine his father did. And ultimately ended up the same way his father did.
Oh, Józsi could get the girl if he wanted.
He’d had plenty of opportunities growing up in Hungary amongst the wolves, and even more when he’d moved to Texas. American women were infatuated with his strong jaw, soft yet masculine accent, and the way he carried himself. Women constantly asked if they could run their fingers through his long, dark hair, sighing blissfully when their fingers ran over strong, broad shoulders. He’d simply fluttered thick, dark lashes at them, smiled and laughed a rich, masculine sound that he knew made blood pool below a woman’s stomach.
Sometimes, they’d just look into his eyes and swoon. He knew there was intensity in his gaze, which was evident in his dark blue irises. There was only one who was not affected by him at all. But that didn’t matter.
A knock at the door forced Józsi’s attention from his memory.
Checking his watch, he noted it was only just after six pm. He took a puff on his cigar and set it down in the large, dark cigar ashtray. Walking to the door, he looked through the peephole and sighed. The scent of another wolf always made him anxious.
“I know you’re home,” the female voice yelled. “Let me in, it’s fucking cold out here!”
Józsi groaned. It had to be her. Of course it did.
Opening the door, Lukina stood before him, dressed in her usual white cloak. Red curls spilled out from beneath her white stocking cap, framing her doll-like face.
He hadn’t seen her in ten years. The memory of leaving her and Ilona all those years ago came crashing back into his mind followed by images of the last few times he'd been back to Hungary. Not because he was homesick, mind. Nor had his trip had anything to do with the love he had for both Lukina and Ilona. He'd thrown that away years ago when he left them.
He returned merely to keep tabs on things he found himself unable to feel otherwise. Distance wasn't a problem for reading auras but without practice his skill set became less than what it was.
He shrugged the memories off. This was no time for memories from the past.
His gaze finally really examining her, Lukina stole his breathe.
She pushed her way past him and headed straight for his recliner.
He frowned. “How did you find me?”
She glanced over her shoulder. “I had a little help from our bond through the witch. And I did some digging on my own—”
God damn it. The pack witch must have returned and resumed her former position by now. She'd left for the same reason he had. No desire to deal with Prophecy. Her bond with all the wolves made it easier for her to keep tabs on them wherever they were. Józsi hated that shit because it meant things like Lukina showing up could happen without difficulty. He never could truly hide from the world he wanted to escape. Still, he wasn’t about to have Lukina stalking through his apartment like she owned everything. Józsi moved toward her and cut her off. “What the hell are you doing?”
Turning perfectly plump lips down in a frown, she sat down. Lukina picked up his glass of wine and took a drink. “I needed that.”
Growling low, he set his hands on his hips. “Aren’t you still underage?”
She wiped her mouth and smirked. “Does it matter with wolves?”
It didn’t. Wolf custom and age ran differently than human standards. Józsi sighed. “What do you want?”
She lifted the wine glass to her lips and peered over the rim, her blue eyes sparkling with interest. “I can’t pay my favorite pack mate and obsession a visit?”
Tilting his chin down, he glared at her. “No. When you show up it usually means something is wrong. Spill it.”
Looking up, she narrowed her eyes at him. “You’re no any fun anymore, Józsi. What happened?”
He turned away from her. Reaching for the bottle on the table beside him, he picked it up and retrieved another glass. Filling it with wine, he took another drink. Swirling the liquid around the bowl, he returned his gaze to Lukina. She was so tiny, so petite, it was a wonder that she hadn’t been killed off as a baby.
He’d never tell her that he admired her courage.
Swirling the glass around in her hands, she looked down for a moment. Speaking low, the words came loud anyway. “Anyway, you’re needed back in Budapest.”
He scoffed, crossed his arms over his chest. “No I’m not.”
Lukina cocked a brow and scowled at him, her tone challenging his. “You don’t even know what for.”
As though he gave a fuck about challenges from other wolves. The only thing that mattered was that he was left alone, as he had been for the last ten years. “It doesn’t matter.” He set his glass down on the marble countertop.
Her head shot up. “Yes, it does. It concerns—“
He shouted, “No, it doesn’t Lukina. I am not needed back there anymore.”
She set her glass down on the table beside her and stood up. Storming across the room, anger glaring in her eyes, she reached out and slapped Józsi.
The sting burned his face and made his head spin. His jaw dropped. It’d been a long time since someone had slapped him like that.
Fire burned in those deep blue eyes of hers. “How dare you turn your back on our lover! Leave the pack, fine. Let Kiba and his bullshit politics burn bridges, fine. But you gave me your word you would never turn your back on us.” Her voice rose in pitch.
His shoulders stiffened. He turned away from her, looked out the window and back at her again. “You were ten years old, Lukina. How was I supposed to know what was going to happen? Or that you’d—“
“Remember? I love you, and I loved you then, but not like Ilona. You were everything to her. You were the one who was not content with Hungary. Or the pack. So,” she said as her voice calmed and she was now in his face-- a funny sight, he realized, since he was a good foot and a half taller than she--, “you’ll listen to what I have to say before you make the right choice.” She punched her finger into his chest for emphasis.
Józsi turned his gaze from her and looked out the large window.
Gray skies had grown darker.
Lukina’s small hand cupped the warm spot on his cheek and forced him to face her. “You have to come back. You know I’m right.”
Her voice had gone from angry to soft and pleading. He hated that. It made things so much harder for him.
Growling low, he let the threat between them die. He wasn’t going to play her Alpha or mate. “Fine. What do you need of me?”
She returned to her seat. “First off,” she cleared her throat, “Kiba’s gone insane.”
He shrugged. “This is nothing new. We all knew it would happen one day. His increasing behavioral issues were already causing problems when we were all growing up. It didn't seem odd to anyone else that he picked random fights and had the crazy possessed look in his eyes. Hell, even his brother Les didn't appear shocked, sadly. There is no one Alpha enough to take his place?”
She didn’t reply.
He understood the implied silence. “Oh no,” he backed off, “I’m not coming back to fulfill some God damned prophecy to get the pack to Paradise. I swore off prophecies when I moved to Texas.”
“Yes I know.” She rolled her eyes. “You’ll leave all that shit to the now dead Elders.”
He stiffened and gasped. “Now dead? What happened?”
“I told you.” She leaned forward, sipping her wine again. “Kiba went insane. The ones who could fight him lost, the others were killed by hunters.”
Józsi leaned back in his chair. “So be it. Old bastards were nothing but trouble anyway.”
Lukina stood and stalked toward Józsi with that angry look in her eyes. Hand raised, she swung.
He caught her fist this time. She was still cold from outside despite the invisible fur layer and coat, but something else was off.
Heaving a sob, she stepped back and then threw herself onto him, wrapping her tiny arms around his large frame.
He felt wetness on his silk shirt, tears from her. She began crying, sobbing louder. “It’s not fair what they’re asking us to do, Józsi. It’s not fair.”
Józsi wrapped his arms around Lukina and stroked her hair.
She nuzzled closer. He could feel her body was cold. He inhaled her clean rain scent, tangling his fingers in her hair. “What’s going on?” His voice dropped to a bare whisper.
“Kiba’s most recent fits of insanity have provoked others to leave and put fear into the minds of our female wolves who stayed. He’s gone off his rocker and actually abused some of our women.” She sniffled. Backing up, she looked into his eyes.
He saw himself reflected in her beautiful round eyes and wanted to tear his own heart out. Why he had left her and her sister so long ago was beyond him. It had just needed to be done, he quickly rationalized.
He had to ask. “What of Ilona?”
Her sobs grew louder. “Yes,
” Dear. “She has been abused by Kiba.”
He ground his teeth loudly. “How did this happen?”
She sniffled and pushed back from his body. Looking into his eyes, she spoke through tears. “She changed her name to honor your journey and Kiba punished her for it. He would not have an American wolf in a Hungarian pack. So he beat her.”
Józsi wanted to growl louder and rip out Kiba’s throat. But he kept his emotions in check. Illogical, emotional outpouring wouldn’t do any good. “He’s old and she cannot be so young anymore. Surely she could defend herself.”
Lukina nodded. “Yeah, she could. The first few times he came to punish her, she had been ready and caught him off guard. But the last time he’d brought a few other rogue wolves and kidnapped her.” Her sobs grew louder once again.
Józsi clenched his fists and looked at the ground, eyes closed. He lifted his head, rubbed a hand down his chin and let out a deep breath.
“We need you to come make things right, Józsi. Please!”
He hated hearing her beg but he stroked her soft hair and whispered, “This is the way of wolves. It truly is survival of the fittest.”
“No!” Lukina burst into hysterics, pounding her fists on Józsi’s back. “No, not like this! This isn’t us against man or nature! It’s insanity at the hands of the Flower Maiden!”
That bitch again. Their supposed goddess whose sole purpose was to guide them toward this ideal of paradise…Józsi scoffed. With Lukina's outburst, he tried to remain calm despite the storm raging inside of him. “We all knew it would happen someday, Lukina. The prophecy said so. The pack must now make a choice.”
“No, Józsi! It cannot work that way with an insane maniac on the loose. He’ll kill us all. Even our pack witch has left us, leaving us defenseless. Her absence we can deal, with but do you not care for your other mate?”
He turned from her, shook his head. Of course he cared for his two mates, but the triad of him, Lukina and Ilona was nothing more than an experience he'd regretted because of the outcome. Why bother with the painful details? “Why do you both need me?”
“Because Kiba is losing his mind and needs to be stopped. He is causing problems with other packs and will not listen to our Elders or anyone else. And we still rightfully belong to you!”
He'd felt Kiba losing his mind from across the ocean. The weak bond had nagged at him at various times throughout the years, particularly in the winter, but there had been no way for him to be sure since he’d broken off most of his contact with the Moon pack, finally severing ties after his last trip six years ago. “What makes you think I can stop him?”
“Nothing. Ilona and I want out of Hungary. We want to be free again as we were before Kiba.”
Trailing a fingernail over her soft cheek, he wiped away tears. “The man is a fucking psycho. I cannot help you. There’s nothing I can do. I’m sorry. ”
Her eyes widened. “But you promised Ilona and me. You promised you’d always defend us, always love us. You promised that someday you’d come back for us.”
“I…I…” His mouth hung open. He had no defense. In truth, he'd given his word at an early age before he'd had all the shit to he had to deal with. He'd sworn before the moon itself to protect them from harm as they were bound to him, and he to them.
He realized now there was no other choice. “Okay.”
Her head tilted to the side and her voice lowered. “You’ll be on the plane tomorrow?”
He sighed heavily. “Tonight.”
Lukina looked into his eyes. “Really?”
He blinked. Seeing desperation in her exhausted expression tore at him. He couldn’t leave his mates alone, even if he wanted to. “Yes. Really.”
Her eyes lit up. “Thank you,
Anything for Ilona.
“What is her American name now?”
Lukina ran a hand through his dark hair. “She calls herself Meredith.”
Surprised, he shifted his weight and held Lukina closer. “Does anyone actually call her that?”
She nodded. “Yes. She’s grown quite fierce and violent since Kiba lost his mind.”
He sighed heavily. “Has Kiba been talking about finding Paradise again?”
Lukina blinked and wiped away tears that streamed down her cheeks. She sniffled. “Yes. Swears he can find it, and that all of us belong there. Says the way to Paradise has to do with sacrificing certain females of our pack. He’s also been talking about showing humans exactly what we are so they can worship us.”