Authors: Charisma Knight
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Copyright © July 2010, Charisma Knight
Cover art by Anastasia Rabiyah © July 2010
This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
Amira Press, LLC
Charlotte, NC USA
My Serbian Wolf
When love is strong enough between two souls, it transcends through the layers of time.
Zena Vuk and Niko, Serbian wolf shifters, share a strong bond that has endured
throughout many centuries, and even the curse of Tsar Uros Hrebeljanovic, successor to
Prince Banovic Nemanjic cannot keep them apart.
As the shifters romped through the snow, Niko knew there was a subject he must broach with his mate. Time was no longer on his side, and it was on this night that Zena Vuk would discover the horrid truth of her soul mate’s fate. Returning to the safety of their small castle, nestled deep within the forest, his thoughts ran rampant through his mind. This was to be their last evening together. Why he waited so long to tell Zena Vuk was beyond his knowledge. Perhaps, in a way he was protecting her, and in the process, not acknowledging the inevitable.
Although pain and regret ate at his heart, it would destroy him even more to allow danger to the three youngest members of his tribe…
Niko’s eyes absorbed the beauty of their home. A light blanket of snow decorated the forest floor and tree limbs. Beautiful snow capped mountains adorned the Serbian landscape, and a breath escaped Niko, filling him with dread. Such a shame he would spend all eternity here without the presence of his mate, and in human form. His chest tightened and his heart pounded. He watched as his breath lingered before his face. Inhaling, he enjoyed the crisp cold air as it entered his nostrils. The sleek form of the black wolf sauntered past him, alerting him to her arousal. She sniffed and snorted as she buried her snout into the snow in a playful manner.
Niko and Zena Vuk shifted from animal to human form without effort and gazed into one another’s eyes. Her body trembled and she longed for his touch. As hard as he tried, he knew he could not protect her feelings from the sudden change that was about to take place.
My Serbian Wolf
“I have not been honest with you, Zena Vuk, my queen.” Niko stroked his index finger against the softness of his mate’s honey-colored skin. With a sigh, he glanced down at the snow, tightening his jaw.
“Why would you say such a thing?” The look within Zena Vuk’s eyes told him she was bracing herself for what he was about to say. He watched her exhale as she folded her arms against the softness of her breasts.
“Long ago, I swore an oath to Prince Nemanjic, master of all Nemanjic wolf tribes that our clan would engage in battle to defend our country against invasion from the Ottoman Empire.
Zena Vuk chuckled as she reached up and touched her mate’s cheek.
“This is no secret to me.” She smiled lovingly at Niko and wrapped her arms around her warrior wolf. Niko had such a way of over exaggerating at times.
“The war ended in June. What more do they require from us? It was a misfortune for our side to have lost. Even so, you fought with honor!”
Niko held his head in shame. “I did not tell you about Prince Nemanjic’s predecessor, Tsar Uros Hrebeljanovic, who threatened to curse those who did not assist him against the Turks. I also did not share with you about the lack of participation of three members within our clan.”
Zena Vuk shook her head, not wanting to acknowledge that members of their tribe had shrugged their warrior responsibilities. She shuddered at Niko’s words. “A curse?” Her eyes widened in disbelief as she placed a hand upon Niko’s. Disbelief flooded her mind and bile formed in the back of her throat at the word “curse” that seemed to vibrate deep within the recesses of her mind.
“Tell me of this curse.”
She clenched her teeth together as her temper flared, and looked her mate in the eyes.
“Our tribe as we know it will cease to exist if I do not assume responsibility for their actions. I am proud to sacrifice myself and will do what I must to preserve our future.”
“Then let us leave this place and go to
homeland in Egypt.” Zena Vuk’s chest tightened and her heart pounded against her ribcage at the thought of Hrebeljanovic’s curse and Niko making the grand sacrifice. “Why would he turn on us, and how do we know he possesses the power to carry this curse forward?
My Serbian Wolf
“Ah, Zena Vuk, how young you are, my Nubian beauty. I cannot run from the task at hand. How will it look if a leader shirks his responsibilities?
Would you really want me to dishonor myself, and tarnish the memory of Prince Nemanjic? Furthermore, I cannot allow the demise of our three youngest tribe members. They are—special, you see.”
Zena Vuk gritted her teeth, knowing Niko was not being honest with her in some matters. Her stomach churned as instinct warned her about his lack of truth.
As she folded her arms against her breast and eased herself away from him, Niko reached for her. She didn’t want to feel his touch. That would tear her heart to pieces. Feeling defeated, she peered at the Serbian landscape. She took in the beauty of the moon and how the light made the blanket of snow on the ground glitter like millions of diamonds.
Her head pounded from the stress and her heart ached when she contemplated her life without Niko. She inhaled the brisk winter air. Her mate moved toward her, and the desire to choke back tears overwhelmed her. She bit her lip hard until it bled. A howl slipped past her lips as she peered at the moonlit landscape through tear-filled eyes.
“Answer me, woman!”
Zena Vuk frowned as she observed the muscles in her mate’s jaw twitch.
Niko’s temper was rising. She could have sworn she felt waves of heat roll off his body and onto her.
“Why are you dishonest?” Zena Vuk wanted to destroy something. She gazed around the humble area where she and Niko had enjoyed countless evenings of love making. Nausea set in and her heart ached. She wanted to be angry at him, but for some unknown reason, she could not.
“Listen to me.” Niko’s voice was stern, causing her to shudder.
“Hrebeljanovic is a powerful warlock who can magnify our suffering a thousand times over. I assure you, it can be a fate worse than death.” She frowned and averted her eyes from Niko’s only to have him gently grasp her by the chin so he could stare into her eyes again. “Don’t avert your gaze from me when I speak of such matters. The safety of our tribe is established, as long as I commit to this.”
My Serbian Wolf
Slouching her shoulders, she leaned against the hard body of her mate.
Tears brimmed within her eyes and spilled over, flowing like a river and cascading down her cheeks. Her mind made an effort to wrap itself around the situation at hand. A brief glimpse into the not too distant future assured her loneliness awaited, and there was nothing she could do to prevent that.
“What is this sentence?” She frowned, fighting the urge to cry out in heartache.
The warrior shifter exhaled and flashed his mate a most intense look, causing her heart to drop. Whatever news he was about to deliver was not good. “I must exist as a human and then I’m to be banished from this world and into another if I do not relinquish the young ones to him.
“Hrebeljanovic believes, since we are wolf shifters, we should have triumphed over the Ottoman Empire. He neglects to remember our prince’s code of refraining from using our shifter form during the heat of battle, and that we are a peace loving tribe. We were forced into a war we did not want.
Hrebeljanovic also believes if our three tribe members had fought in the war as they were supposed to, we would have been triumphant. What he fails to acknowledge is the fact that Prince Nemanjic was a man of honor and fairness, teaching shifters not to use their powers against humans.
Hrebeljanovic is just the opposite, and is a mad man.”
Fury consumed Zena Vuk and she cursed Hrebeljanovic. “The bastard!”
Her emotions were out of control.
Watch your tongue, woman!” Niko’s nose wrinkled as he bared teeth.
“No, Niko! This is wrong! Truth be told, I have never understood the Nemanjic code! Curse the prince for his weakness and Hrebeljanovic for his cruelty!” She barely flinched as Niko grabbed her by the shoulders, gently shaking her.
“You could not possibly understand. Rules have been set in place, and—”
“The ability to use being a shifter to your advantage on the battlefield would have given us an advantage over the Turks! Why would Prince Nemanjic ask you to enforce such a code?”
My Serbian Wolf
Zena Vuk felt the heat of Niko’s gaze emanating from his eyes as his grip tightened around her arms. With a sigh, he released her. “Prince Nemanjic was a Nemanjic Saint who had given wolf shifters their power of the moon.
Nemanjic Shifters were taught to restrain their bloodlust and to fight with honor. How can you not understand this?”
“Because the rulers are, and probably will always be, insensitive men, caring of their wants and needs only! I refuse to accept this!” Zena Vuk’s words ended with a growl, frustrating Niko further.
“Watch your tongue! You tread on thin ice where Nemanjic is considered. Everything must take its course, and we shall be triumphant in the end. You will see.” Niko crossed his arms behind his back and lowered his gaze to the snow covered forest floor. Exhaling, he glanced over to his mate who could no longer contain her tears.
“How long must you be away from me? You leaving me, your tribe, is a cruel and unusual punishment, don’t you think?” Her voice was shaky and low. “I know you are the leader, but you must not pay for the sins of those who deserted you in time of need. Niko, I beg of you, is there any other way?” Zena Vuk’s world was crumbling before her eyes. It was a harsh punishment for herself and her mate. No one had the right to take the love of her life away. She turned to look at Niko.
“It is unavoidable.” Niko’s gaze was stern. “We may never see one another again, at least, not in this life.” The warrior shifter ran his fingers through his hair and cursed. “My hands are bound, can’t you see?”
It was apparent to her that he was just as tormented about the situation as she was, especially as she gazed into his eyes. Otherwise, it appeared as though he did not care due to the way his squared jaw set.
“Is it fair for me to spend an eternity without you by my side?”
Selfishness reared its ugly head, but she did not care. She was determined to fight for her mate. However, his words only disintegrated any boldness she may have summoned.
“Is it fair of me to allow this curse to destroy our entire tribe? I
pay for their actions,
, and there is to be no rebuttal from you. This, you cannot interfere in, I assure you. It will take many lifetimes to right the 5
My Serbian Wolf
wrongdoing of those within our tribe.” Niko lowered his gaze and his dark eyebrows knitted together. He was withholding information.
“Many lifetimes? What will I do without you?” Dread flooded every cell within her body. Life with Niko was all she had known since her departure from her Egyptian home.
“You must be strong and know, one day, we shall be together again.
Have faith as I do, my sweet Zena Vuk.” Niko reached for her hand, guiding it to his lips. Eyes full of love, he kissed the back of it, sending a bolt of lightning through her core.
“Niko, I think—”
“This discussion ends now!” The man’s eyes shone a deep yellow, and his canines eased through his gums. Zena Vuk flinched because she knew of harsh penalties that were set in place for any member of the tribe to challenge the alpha wolf. She’d pressed her luck more than any female shifter dared to, but alas, that was the beauty Niko admired within her. She was strong-willed and stubborn.