Authors: Shannon West
Will bad blood keep them apart?
After finding strange tracks from a huge unknown breed of wolf near their home, Blaine, the alpha of the gray wolves, must investigate. Alone by a nearby stream, the shifter is surprised to discover who the tracks and the scent belong to.
The Dire Wolves, an ancient pack the grays thought extinct, came spoiling for a fight. Led by Kerrick, the northern pack of huge wolves had traveled south looking for two things in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains—to take over and to find mates.
When Blaine is taken by surprise by Kerrick, he finds himself strangely attracted to the huge male. But then Blaine accidentally almost kills Kerrick, escalating tension between the packs. Will the two alphas be able to resolve the conflict between them and merge their packs or will they lose each other forever?
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Bad Boys Series
Copyright © 2014 SHANNON WEST
Cover art by Amanda Kelsey
Edited by Trinity Scott
All Romance eBooks, LLC Palm Harbor, Florida 34684 www.allromanceebooks.com
This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or business establishments, events, or locales is coincidental.
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever with out written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
First All Romance eBooks publication: May 2014
It was a
cold night. With his breath smoking up the frigid air in front of him, Blaine stumbled into the clearing, surrounded on all sides by his enemies. One of the guards walking beside him gave him another hard shove, since he apparently wasn’t moving fast enough for them. He lurched forward and almost fell, righting himself desperately at the last moment and sending a look of black defiance over his shoulder at the one who’d pushed him.
“I’m going, damn it! Give me a chance.”
The guard, who towered over Blaine by at least four inches, replied by putting both hands on the collar of Blaine’s shirt and jerking down hard, pulling his shirt over his shoulders to his waist, the buttons popping off like little projectiles. He pushed it down in back to cover Blaine’s tightly bound wrists.
“Ow! What the hell, asshole? Are you hoping I’ll freeze to death and save you the trouble?” The big man didn’t reply, not that Blaine thought he would. They were a taciturn bunch of bastards. Maybe they didn’t want to enflame Blaine’s pack any more than they already were by exposing his chains, or maybe the guard was just fucking with him. He certainly wasn’t trying to spare Blaine any more humiliation, because they seemed to thrive on that. The guard gave Blaine a shove that almost sent him to his knees again.
“You know, I’m beginning to get a little sick of you,” Blaine muttered, not entirely under his breath. He looked around the clearing, peering through the murkiness beyond the light of the bonfire to see his tormentors. After the darkness of the basement, the bright flames in the center of the circle hurt his eyes and cast otherworldly shadows around the clearing.
As he got closer, he saw a few familiar, well-loved faces near the perimeter of the circle. Some of his pack were there, their eyes full of fear. Mostly it was the women, children and old ones—only a handful of his gamma soldiers. These must be the ones who had surrendered when the lodge was overrun, during the final desperate fight with the Dire Wolves and in the face of overwhelming odds. Most of the others who had been captured, along with Blaine himself, had been thrown into the frigid basement in chains. Others were missing altogether, and he hoped they’d been able to get away. Why he, the alpha of the pack, hadn’t been executed right away, he still had no idea, unless the Dire Wolf alpha wanted to make an example of him in front of these witnesses.
Blaine could see the tall, muscular figure of the alpha by the huge bonfire ahead of him. The shadows made it difficult to see his face, but he was sure it was Kerrick, his mortal enemy. Since this strange, ancient pack of wolves had moved into Blaine’s territory, nothing had been the same, and now would never be again. His pack of Gray Wolves had fought hard to drive the invaders from their home, but in the end, the Dires had been too strong, their numbers too great. Now his own life would be forfeit, and he could only hope Kerrick would make this public execution quick. Blaine would at least try to die well—it was the last thing he could do for his pack.
He allowed himself to be pushed down to his knees in front of Kerrick, but he raised his head defiantly and glared up at him, trying to convey every drop of the fury he felt toward the man.
Blaine caught the gleam of Kerrick’s mocking smile as he stared down at him. “Blaine—we have to stop meeting like this. One of these days I’ll either have to kill you or fuck you.”
“One would be as unpleasant as the other.”
One of the guards cuffed him hard on the back of his head. Kerrick snarled at the man. “Leave him alone—this one is mine to deal with.”
“Then deal with me, damn it!” Blaine shouted. “Take your best shot! If you’re going to kill me, then get it the hell over with, don’t talk me to death.”
Kerrick leaned over until his lips brushed Blaine’s ear, his breath hot against his skin. “Kill you? It would be a shame to destroy someone like you. I’m not going to kill you, Blaine—I’m going to claim you. From this moment on, you’ll belong to me, mind, body and spirit. And make no mistake—you’ll be my
Before Blaine could react, Kerrick pulled him to his feet and twisted him around to face the throng of onlookers. Pulling Blaine’s body up tight against his own, he wrapped his massive arms around him like iron bands. His strength was incredible. Blaine was six feet tall himself and no lightweight, but this huge alpha manhandled him as if he were a child.
“I claim this pack and everyone in it as a prize of war. From this moment on, the Gray Wolf pack is no more. We’re taking over your home and your territory. All the Gray Wolf survivors will be offered to the Dire Pack as mates. You’ll become one of us, and your blood will mix with our own.”
Blaine heard the shocked gasps and cries of his pack and dropped his gaze, too devastated to look into their eyes. He could only hang within the hard grip of Kerrick’s arms, his knees too weak to hold him up properly as Kerrick made his final pronouncement. “I claim Blaine, your former alpha, as my prize—and take him for my
Kerrick sank his fangs into the back of Blaine’s neck, the pain so sharp, so exquisite, that Blaine’s head reeled with it. He cried out, his vision dimming as the venom shot into his veins, then spread through his body like hot lava, blazing a path of fire and leaving molten stone behind. He felt the rough tongue of his new master—his new alpha—scrape along the edges of the bite, sealing his fate. According to the laws of their kind, his body had been claimed as a mate. He was now owned by this man.
When he felt the venom reach his groin, his body felt like it was on fire, a burning pain that didn’t consume him but settled in to possess him. It felt as if a fiery hand clutched at his balls and held them tightly in its grip. Just as Kerrick had promised him, he was claiming Blaine’s body, along with his mind and spirit, leaving him no refuge. Closing his eyes, he resisted the invasion fiercely, with all his strength, not allowing the fire to engulf him, nor the darkness at the perimeter of his vision to edge closer. He felt a rumbling in Kerrick’s chest as he growled in his ear.
“You’re strong, pet, but it’s useless to resist. Say it! Tell them all you belong to me. Tell them you’re mine.” He twisted Blaine’s face around with one strong hand and bent to taste him. Thrusting his tongue into Blaine’s mouth, he swept over the inside possessively until Blaine struggled to breathe.
“You’re mine. Say it!” He tightened his grip around his waist and jerked Blaine’s hips back against him. Blaine could feel Kerrick’s enormous erection pressed against his ass. “Say it, or I’ll take you here and now in front of all of them.”
“Do what you have to do,” Blaine managed to say, struggling for breath. “Just try not to wake me if I start to doze off.”
A short laugh was startled out of Kerrick, but he bent his head and whispered in Blaine’s ear. “You
say it, sooner or later. And I have all the time in the world to wait.” Kerrick bit his neck again, reopening the tender wound. Blaine felt the pain and the lust and the blood ooze down his neck, across his chest and move directly to his groin. Shuddering, he closed his eyes and finally allowed the blessed darkness to take him over.
When Blaine thought back about the beginning of the thing, he realized it had been insidious and subtle. Little wonder then, that none of them had truly understood the danger until it was too late. The Dire Wolves had been in his pack’s territory, staking their claim almost before the Grays ever knew they were there, or even what they were.
Blaine’s pack of Grays had heard the legends of the Dire Wolves, of course, but had thought the stories were just that—stories and myths. There were those who talked of an ancient line of wolves in the far North, one whose bloodline had survived through ten long centuries, but no one really believed it could be true.
Dire Wolves were said to be massively built, much larger than their own wolves, with shaggy gray fur and wicked fangs as long and wide as a man’s thumb. They lived and hunted in packs, just like modern-day wolves, and when they shifted to their human forms, they were huge and hulking, making up in brawn what they lacked in brains. These were the rumors, at least, though how a pack of ancient werewolves could possibly have existed so long without superior intelligence never made sense to Blaine. He hadn’t believed any of the stories, really, until the day Colby, his second in command, knocked on the door of his office, calling his name, his voice tinged with an anxiety he couldn’t hide.
“Alpha, there’s something outside near the tree line that you need to see for yourself,” Colby said, running a big hand over his short blond hair. “Our scouts have been reporting strange tracks for over a week, but they’ve never been this close to the lodge before. We didn’t even know exactly what they are—they seem much too big for wolves. It could be some breed of bear, I suppose, but…”
“Come on, Colby, surely you can tell the difference between a wolf’s print and a bear’s. They look nothing alike.” Blaine glanced up from his paperwork and smiled at his cousin.
“Not normally, no, but if the print were degraded or smudged—look, maybe you need to come out from behind that desk and take a look at this.”
Blaine smothered the flare of irritation he felt at the remark. Colby had been born an alpha too, so Blaine tried to cut him a lot of slack because of it. It was difficult for two alphas to co-exist in the same pack, especially since Colby thought he could run the pack more effectively than Blaine ever could.
“Okay, but it’s probably nothing to be concerned over,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “Like you said, probably just some kind of bear in the area. Something that traveled south along the Blue Ridge. It’ll move on again in a few days.”
“I don’t know,” Colby said, shaking his head. “There are a lot of tracks, most of them headed back up the mountain, but some that got a little too close to the lodge. Almost as if something was watching us.”
“Watching us?” Blaine smiled skeptically and shook his head. “Come on and show me. I’ve been working on the books all day anyway, and I need a good run.” Blaine and Colby walked outside, passing some of the children in the pack as they ran up the stairs. When they saw the alpha, they quickly slowed their feet and dropped their heads in acknowledgement. Blaine ruffled the hair of the nearest one as he passed. Like almost all of Blaine’s pack, including Blaine himself, the little boy had pale skin, blue eyes and golden hair.
Once outside, Blaine glanced up at the sky. It was well past midday, almost three o’clock in the afternoon. All day the sun had played hide and seek among the puffy white and gray clouds. Thunder bumpers, they called them, and they meant that storms were on the way.
November in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Virginia could be both rainy and bitterly cold, and this one was proving to be no exception. October and November were the months black bears usually went into hibernation, and perhaps the tracks Colby and the scouts had been seeing belonged to a one that was still seeking shelter for the long winter months. Even though black bears usually avoided humans, it could be seeking food, and if so, it could be dangerous, especially to the children.
Colby preceded him to the edge of the lawn, the area nearest the mountain. “Over here, Blaine.” Colby was bent over something on the ground right at the tree line, his mouth drawn down in a worried frown. “Look at the size of this thing.”