Read Mating Rights Online

Authors: Jaide Fox

Mating Rights

BOOK: Mating Rights
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MATING
RIGHTS

JAIDE
FOX

 

© copyright by Jaide
Fox, September 2014

Cover art by Eliza
Black © copyright September 2014

http://www.jaidefoxbooks.com

 

This
is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author

s
imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons
or events is merely coincidence.

 

Other
titles by Jaide Fox

 

Beastmen
of Shadowmere 1: Marked by the Beast

Beastmen
of Shadowmere 2: Seduced by the Beast

Beastmen
of Shadowmere 3: Conquered by the Beast

Beastmen
of Shadowmere 4: Tempted by the Beast

Dark
Lords 1: Captured by the Dark Lord

Dark
Lords 2: Seized by the Vampire Lord

Dark
Lords 3: Ensnared by the Dream Lord

Captured
by Aliens 1: Alien’s Captive

Captured
by Aliens 2: Alien Insurgence

Captured
by Aliens 3: Alien Intent (Coming Soon)

Interstellar
Mayhem 1: StarCaught

Interstellar
Mayhem 2: StarRomped

Pleasure
Masters 1: Ravaged

Pleasure
Masters 2: Dominated

Pleasure
Masters 3: Mastered

PleasureBot

PleasureBots

Summoner’s
Captive

Earth
Girls Aren’t Easy

His
Forbidden Fruit

Renegade
(Coming Soon)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter
One

Chapter
Two

Chapter
Three

Chapter
Four

Chapter
Five

Chapter
Six

Chapter
Seven

Chapter
Eight

Chapter
Nine

Chapter
Ten

Chapter
Eleven

Chapter
Twelve

 

 

 

Chapter
One

 

The wind shrieked through
the trees like the dying call of a hunted bird—a gasping, eerie sound that
raised the hair along the back of her neck in warning. The great wolf halted
her progress, crouching low in the brush, tilting her head toward the sky as
though she could find its source.

A canopy of leaves
shrouded her view of the moon, but naught more than air stirred the silent
sentinels. Pine needles rustled under the heavy brush of air—scraping, rasping
sounds that drew her nerves taut.

Her hide itched with
warning, a sting that increased the tempo of her heart and the breath in her
lungs. Mali panted, shaking her skin as though throwing off biting gnats. She
stilled, listening once more, hearing only the faint puff of her own breathing
and no sound of a living thing. The feeling persisted, as though a light shone
down revealing her position. ’Twas a foolish thought. She knew she blended with
her surroundings for her fur was sleek and black as the sky above, and yet she
knew…she knew
he
had found her.

He played a game. The
twisted bastard had been trailing her for days into the Blackhaunted wood and
the Pine Barrens. Mali remained tense, awaiting attack, watching her breath
freeze in the midnight air. Her eyes soaked up the light, watching the
silhouettes of brush and tree alike. Long moments passed and nothing befell
her. Had she imagined the danger? Had she not scented the stranger in the air?

By finite degrees she
relaxed. Perhaps it
had
been only the wind. She could not admit, even to
herself, how much he had rattled her.
Bastard
.

With deliberate
slowness, she pushed through the dried, dead brush, wincing at each crackle of
leaf, each snap of twig. Mali padded along the ground, keeping her head low.
Her fur whipped as a sudden wind bore down on her, and a howl rent the air with
a piercing wail.
Mali twisted away—too late. He
crashed into her, pinning her body to the ground under his superior weight.

A growl of fury erupted
from her throat, forcing the air from her lungs. She sucked in a breath and
screamed, thrashing, churning the dirt in her struggles. He grunted above her,
his fingers digging into the narrow blade of her shoulders, forcing her down.

“Do you yield to me?”
he shouted in a voice deep and chilling as a bottomless well…

***

Mali awakened with a
gasp. Her belly contracted, the muscles hardened. A sheen of sweat beaded her
skin despite the warm air seeping through her loft from the kitchen below. She
lay there, willing her racing heartbeat to return to normal, for her breathing
to slow.

For a week past, the
nightmare invaded her sleep. Over and over again, she’d attempted to escape
pursuit from the stranger in her dreams to no avail. She couldn’t remember his
face or form, only that he disturbed her more than anything else in her life
ever had.
She’d had premonitions before—they
always came true. Mali didn’t want to worry her parents with her fears, so
remained silent, hoping this time she was wrong.
Her
mother had commented on the dark circles beneath her eyes, and both she and her
father said it must be the coming of the Moonlight Festival causing Mali
distress. That or she was going into heat, which was just as unsettling. As
much as she wanted to believe herself immune to the cycles of the wolf clan,
she couldn’t deny that she felt a subtle change growing within her.

Never leaving the
shelter of her parents’ home and small farm, Mali was forbidden to attend the
annual festival where others of their kind found their mates. Once upon a time,
before she’d come of age, her parents’ decision to remain secluded in the woods
with little contact from the outside world had greatly distressed her. As the
years passed, she grew to understand her limitations and how those limits would
be perceived by the rest of the clan. Now that she understood her parents’
reasoning in forbidding her attendance, she’d come to a measure of peace with
their decision. Even if it meant she would never have children or a love of her
own.

Perhaps the imposed
seclusion was finally getting to her in spite of that, causing the anxiety that
consumed her night after night. Perhaps it was the waxing of the moon and her
body responding to nature’s call.

She hated it, but the
mystery would have to wait another day.

“Mali, the chickens
need feeding and the cow is lowing out back. Get your head on straight and do
your chores,” Abba, her mother, called from the kitchen. The scent of bacon
frying and biscuits rising in the oven mingled together to make a scent that
lured Mali from the bed and dispelled the disturbing thoughts from her mind.

Slipping from her bed
with a groan and stretch, Mali walked to her hope chest which was filled with
broken dreams rather than the niceties which would start her own household.
She’d long ago stopped sewing baby clothes and embroidering tapestries,
pillowcases, and sheets in favor of mending her faded work clothes instead.

Removing her nightgown
and flinging it across the bed, Mali slipped her worn, but favorite lilac gown
over her head. Attempting to drag her comb through her thick hair, she finally
gave up after a few minutes and pulled her unruly curly hair back off her face
with a ribbon and stuck her feet in her wooden clogs. The daisies painted
across the toes had long since worn away with trips through the woods and daily
chores.

Descending the ladder
from her lonely loft, Mali dropped down into the kitchen below. The cottage had
only two rooms: the common room where they cooked, ate, and gathered before and
after meals, and her parents’ bedroom. She was fortunate the high-peaked,
thatched roof had allowed the addition of her sleeping area, which her father
had graciously built for her after re-thatching the roof a few years ago.
She did appreciate having a space to call her own.
Sometimes, she would even find a bird nest or mouse family in residence with
her. Papa hated when she took in tiny creatures as pets, but she’d never been
able to dump them back out into the wild without protest.

Mali tripped on the rug
covering the root cellar beneath the kitchen area then smoothed it back in
place before grabbing her apron off the back of her chair and tying it around
her waist. She sighed. “I never get a day off,” she complained, grabbing a
piece of bacon and munching absently while she eyeballed the biscuits her
mother pulled out of the stove. Butter scented steam wafted in the air.

“Your father and I
don’t either. It’s the way of things when you live this far from town. Stop
complaining and go out and feed the chickens before everything gets cold. Your
father has probably already tended the cow by now. He said he wanted fresh milk
for breakfast. Hurry, I’m making eggs next, and I know you don’t like them
cold.”

Mali kissed her
mother’s chubby dark cheek, grabbed her straw hat then disappeared out the
door. She scooped dried corn out of the barrel and placed it in her apron.
“Here, chick, chick, chick,” she called, scattering
corn across the dirt in the front yard. The chickens clucked and swarmed the
feed, pecking at the ground as she moved through them to the lean-to on the
back of the house where they kept their milking cow.
Her
father stood from his squat stool and stretched, putting two hands on the small
of his back as he grimaced.

“I would have done
that, papa,” Mali said, taking the heavy bucket from her father.

Barnardo smiled and
chucked her chin with affection. “I know you like to sleep late. I was already
up, and I can tell you haven’t been sleeping well. I know it’s the festival
bothering you, even if you won’t admit it.”

“Oh, papa,” she said,
lugging the bucket of milk behind him as they headed back inside the house for breakfast.
“I gave up on the idea of that a long time ago when I learned of my
limitations. It’s one thing to dream about it when you don’t know any better.”

Her father scrubbed a
hand over his face and released a heavy sigh. “You might be at peace, but I wanted
grandchildren running around and tearing up the place for me and your mama.”

“Aye,” she said,
lowering her gaze.

He held the door open
for her, looking at her with his sad, brown eyes.

Mali rubbed her cheek
on his big shoulder before going inside. Normally, the fact that she wasn’t a
full shifter was never brought up in conversation. They all avoided harping on
the obvious, because it wasn’t something any of them could change anyway, and
it hurt something inside of her to be reminded of the fact that she was a freak
in their world. No man would ever want a mate that couldn’t run with him as a
wolf.

“You two took long
enough,” Abba said as they walked inside. She set plates of bacon and fried
eggs at each of their places. A basket of biscuits waited to be plucked in the
middle of the worn oak table and fresh butter and jam occupied bowls on either
side of the basket.

Mali’s stomach rumbled
as she sat down to eat her breakfast. Barnardo dipped a cup of milk in a
ceramic mug and set it down in front of her before getting himself some. For
himself, he fixed a cup of milk and a mug of coffee. Later on they’d separate
the milk for fresh butter. Abba enjoyed baking pastries for trade in town.

Pulling the chair out
for Abba, she smiled at her husband and swatted his arm playfully when he
waggled his eyebrows. Mali watched them interact, feeling warmed that she had
caring parents that loved each other. Life was good.

Booted heels tread on
their porch, and then a knock sounded on the door before Barnardo could seat
himself. He stopped in the motion of dragging his chair from beneath the table,
giving Abba and Mali a wide-eyed glance.

Barnardo looked at
Abba. “Did you order supplies from town for today?” he whispered.

Abba fidgeted with her
hands. “No,” she said quietly, straining her ears.

“Get down in the
cellar,” he said to Mali.

Knocking came again.
Louder this time.

Mali stood quickly and
flipped back the rug covering their root cellar. Lifting the heavy door for her,
Barnardo waited until she was at the bottom of the ladder before he carefully
shut the door over her head without making a sound.
Abba
rose to her feet with an effort, waddling to the cellar door and flipping the
rug back over it as Barnardo walked to the door.

“Who goes there?” he
called through the door, cocking his ear to hear a response.

“Open in the name of
Clan Leader Nicodemus,” a deep voice said on the other side.

Barnardo’s dark face
turned ashen. Sweat popped along his brow. Abba, standing behind her husband,
clutched her chest with one hand and grabbed his arm with the other.

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