Authors: Rebecca Royce
The Westervelt Wolves Book 8
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509 Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © Published 2013, Rebecca Royce. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
All bad things must be destroyed…
Gabriel Kane has been betraying his family for forty years. To save a mate only he remembers, he made a deal with his father, Kendrick Kane, that would keep her alive. The price? Gabriel’s cooperation. Little by little his lies have eaten him alive until there is nothing left of him but a shell of the shifter he used to be.
He’s at the end of his rope. Only Kendrick’s death will end the pain. Even if it kills Gabriel in the process.
Taken from her family and forced to live with a man she despises, Carrie has grown stronger than she ever thought possible. And she will need to be, for only she can save Gabriel now. If she doesn’t, all is lost forever—not just for her, but for their entire pack. Winning is a long shot, but what other choice do they have?
To Carrie Ann Ryan—for reminding me that dreams come true and how much fun this all is. Carrie was named before I met you, but I’m glad she shares your name!
To my readers—who made this series such a success, loved it like I did, e-mailed me about all of the brothers, and made this such a joy. You made my dreams come true.
Forty years ago
Before the destruction
“He never notices me.” Carrie White threw the piece of grass she’d picked back onto the ground. “It’s like I don’t even exist. We grew up on this island together. The least he could do is look my way.”
Victoria rolled her eyes before she stood up. Completely naked, her best friend raised her arms toward the sun. Carrie had never cared whether her fellow shifters covered themselves after the changes. Some of the older pack members preferred everyone to hurry and clothe themselves after every shift, but she’d grown up so used to the nudity, she hardly noticed it. Besides, in the world outside Westervelt, lots of people seemed to go around half-dressed or actually nude. She didn’t care. Except for the fact that at the moment she coveted Victoria Trope’s breasts.
“Who cares if they notice you or not? They’re all Kanes. They’re royalty and they know it. Attitude comes straight through their pores into the constant sneer on their faces. I wouldn’t want to end up with one of them, and I wouldn’t want anyone I loved to mate with them either.”
“I bet if I had your breasts Tristan Kane would notice me.”
He seemed the nicest out of all of them. Michael spent his life with his head tucked in a book, Az had gone off to study with the humans at some university and come back speaking about medical terms she didn’t understand, Rex always seemed on edge. Theo saw a threat everywhere they went, which left Tristan. He’d probably make a great mate.
“Why do you want Tristan? He’d bore you to death in two minutes with all of his talk about building structures. If I had to pick a Kane, and I never would, I’d want Gabriel.”
“Gabriel?” Carrie stood up to stretch as Victoria had. Her bones had finally relaxed after the fast run they’d given their wolf bodies. “He never speaks to anyone.”
“You’re right. That’s what I’d like about him.”
Carrie grinned. Victoria had always been a sourpuss. Nothing changed for them, not ever. Some of the pack railed against that, but Carrie loved the consistency. She knew her place in the world, in the pack, in the universe. Someday she’d mate. Even if it didn’t happen to be with Tristan Kane. And when she died, her mate would follow her into the next world and hold her there forever, their eternal bond a gift bestowed upon them by the gods who loved and cared for shifters.
“You keep talking like that, Victoria, and you’re going to end up mated to some human.”
Her best friend grinned. “I hope I’m that lucky. And we’ll have beautiful half-bred shifter children. Girls. You know I can’t stand male shifters.”
“By the gods, you have your whole life mapped out for you.” Carrie couldn’t imagine that.
“Yes. And we’ll name them Ashlee and Summer. I read those names in a book I picked up the last time I went off island for supplies. Not names we use here. They’ll be mine, and they’ll be spectacular for having been raised in my presence.”
Gabriel’s scent drifted over her just seconds before he spoke. “Watch out, human males everywhere. Victoria is on a mating hunt.”
Carrie spun around to stare at him. How had he done that? She should have had lots of warning of his arrival. He stared at Victoria, who promptly rolled his eyes at him. Then his gaze shifted, taking Carrie in. While she hadn’t cared before, now she felt acutely aware of her naked body. Her cheeks heated up and she covered her breasts.
“Did you do that on purpose? Hide your scent? Stay in the woods downwind so you could, what, spy on us?”
He shook his head, once again regarding Victoria. Two little lines formed between his dark eyebrows. Victoria did that to a lot of people. His brown, almost black eyes narrowed as he inspected Carrie’s friend and Carrie noted his fully dressed state. His jeans and burgundy T-shirt brought out the tan of his skin. “It’s not my problem, wolf, if you don’t guard yourself. You were trained. You were
trained. By me, as a matter of a fact. Stay on alert. Don’t assume we’re fine because we’re home. If that were the case, we wouldn’t need to learn to fight at all.”
“We’re wolves. We fight.” Carrie didn’t know why she spoke out the way she did. Whenever Gabriel had actually uttered words in the past, she’d stayed silent. He was royal and the captain of his father’s guard, and pack members ran when he approached. She didn’t scurry away, just most of the time she couldn’t find her voice.
“That’s true.” He smiled at her and her heart did an extra thump. “Victoria, go find something to do. I want to speak to Carrie.”
Her friend looked at her for a moment before she changed shape and left, running on four legs for the woods. No one argued with Kendrick’s sons, not when it really counted. If Gabriel wanted to speak to Carrie, he’d speak to her. Only she had no idea what she might have done to have earned Gabriel’s attention. Had she been slack in some kind of duty? Had Kendrick sent him?
Her wolf’s interruption startled her.
You want to be alone with him?
Her wolf didn’t answer and Gabriel started talking, bringing her attention back to the world outside of her own mind.
“I’ve been waiting to talk to you. Now seemed like a good time. Well, it seemed pivotal to speak now, I suppose.”
She swallowed. “I’m not sure what I’ve done.”
“What you’ve done?” He shook his head, a strand of his brown hair falling into his eyes. “No. Nothing like that. Please, Carrie. Don’t ever be nervous around me. Not you. Ever.”
The wind picked up, bringing his scent to her again. It was wild and spicy like ginger, and yet his scent still carried the smell of springtime in their woods. Goose bumps broke out on her arms. She wanted to shift and rub up against him until she carried the uniqueness of Gabriel on her skin.
Oh my gods
. If she craved a marking, needed to have his essence inside of her, then…
Ah, so the dense one finally caught on
. Her wolf smiled, settling down.
It’s about time
“I had hoped that by now you would have felt something I’ve known to be true since you were a young girl.” He swallowed and she saw his Adam’s apple bob up and down. “I haven’t been exactly proud of that, the idea that I knew when you were still so young, but I’ve left you alone so you could have a life without me bothering you all the time.”
“You watch me.” Her mouth had gone dry. “Without speaking to me. Ever.” His silence unnerved her, made her head hurt. She tried not to think about it too often. Contemplating Gabriel made her skin feel too tight.
There are good reasons for that
Why didn’t you tell me?
Her heart rate sped up.
You have to find your mate. I couldn’t thrust you right into it
“I’ve spoken to you. Nearly confessed myself to you about a half a dozen times during your training five years ago.”
“That’s not what I meant—”
“Of course, I know what you mean. As I said, I’ve been leaving you be. Hoping you’d come to me when you knew. Only just now, you were talking about Tristan, and I can’t have that. I’m not a perfect man or wolf. I’m probably the least …
… out of all of my brothers, and I cannot handle hearing you express interest in Tristan. Not that kind of interest.”
She reached out and touched his arm, rubbing her hand along the side of the softness of his shirt. “Do you think I could get dressed? I mean, you are. I’d kind of like to be that way too. The kind of conversation we’re having deserves equal footing.”
His eyes got wide. “I’m rather torn on that question. I like you naked. I more than
you that way. I don’t want you to cover up. Yet I can appreciate your situation. My wolf says I’m being dense. Please, let’s get you some clothes. There’s a dressing box over there.”
He took her hand in his and they walked silently to the hidden clothes box.
I’m mated to Gabriel?
He’s pretty cute, isn’t he?
Her wolf strutted.
Cute wouldn’t be the word she’d use. Striking, intoxicating, intimidating … male.
She grabbed the clothes from the box. The gray generic sweatpants and T-shirt were the same in every hidden box. They were huge on her as she fell into the smaller half of wolf shifters. The same clothes that would fit Gabriel well hung loosely on her five-foot-eight frame. Once she was dressed, she looked up at him.
He stood back a bit, looking at her. “Just tell me that you aren’t in love with my brother.”
“I’m not in love with your brother.”
He scratched his head. “Then why were you trying to get his attention?”
“Well, I wanted someone’s attention. I’m young. I had no idea until just now that we were … mates. Tristan is kind. And also because you make me nervous. You’re very … scary.”
She didn’t anticipate his laugh. In fact, in her fifty years of life, she’d never heard him do so before. Not in pack meetings or social events. Gabriel Kane remained his father’s stoic right-hand man at all times. The constant silhouette, Gabriel on the right, Kendrick in the middle, and Cullen on his left. The strength that kept their pack together kept them strong and aligned. Or so she had heard a million times.
“You think you’re scared of me?” He sniffed the air and grinned. With a swagger in his step she hadn’t seen earlier he moved toward her. “You’re not afraid of me. You never have been. Trust me, I’ve been observing you for years. I, by contrast, am terrified of you.”
“What?” She laughed, covering her mouth to stop the sound from echoing through the woods. Someone might come to find out what she laughed so loudly about. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
“It’s true.” He took a strand of her hair and placed it behind her ear. “You’re a tough lady.”
He had to be making fun of her. “There is nothing even remotely nerve-racking about me.”
Gabriel’s dark eyes bore into hers, no hint of amusement radiating in his gaze. “You’re an Alpha female and you know it. Right off the bat, half the men of this pack fall to their knees whenever you walk by.”
“I never talk about that. I know a lot of Alphas love to have that discussion, but I’ve never really cared if someone happened to be dominant or not.” A fact that drove some of her friends crazy. Alphas loved to be Alpha.
“I’m aware. You move with class and determination. In a fight, you could take on just about any wolf that went for you. Everyone loves you even though your family routinely drives my father crazy, opposing him whenever he steps out of line. There’s even talk that your brother could challenge for Alpha when my father is finished. His mate certainly wants that.”
Her heart sped up. “We didn’t know the Kanes knew that.”
“With very few exceptions, we know everything, sweet lady. Just like I know we belong to each other. So tell me, do I have to kill my brother Tristan? Or will you never look at him again?”