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Authors: Dean Murray

Tags: #Romance, #urban fantasy, #Paranormal, #werewolf, #werewolves, #YA, #Shapeshifters, #shape shifters, #YA Romance

Splintered

BOOK: Splintered
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Splintered

by Dean Murray

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2012 by Dean
Murray

Praise for Broken and
Torn:

"Seriously, I had to remind myself that Adriana
wasn't real and I couldn't help her! I could feel her pain and
confusion. What a wonderful gift author Dean Murray has for
creating and penning such likable characters." -Dr. Deb
(Colorado)

"Torn by Dean Murray was a fantastic
and refreshing twist on Shape-shifters...phenomenally executed.
Those who love a good werewolf/shape-shifter story will tear Torn
apart, and those who love their romance with a bite will fall in
love with Torn. I'm confident that it will appeal to both boys and
girls…I would absolutely recommend this." -Shana
(California)

"Couldn't put it down…I planned to read for a couple of
hours…I literally could not stop as planned. It was 2:00 AM the
next morning when I finished the book and was able to stumble off
to bed." –LCM

Chapter 1

Alec had been promising to take me somewhere
new for nearly a week, but pack business kept getting in the way.
I'd been expecting some posh restaurant in Vegas or maybe LA. The
world kind of becomes your oyster when you've got your own
jet.

The last thing I'd expected was a picnic up at
the top of the mountain that cradled the Graves' estate between
large, rocky spurs. It was perfect.

For Alec money was nothing more than
a useful tool, but he understood I still wasn't comfortable having
that tool used to purchase me things I didn't actually
need.

I'd set out determined to hike the whole way up
to the top, but I was still a little weak. Apparently everyone had
been right about just how much blood I'd lost the night our pack
had destroyed the local rival pack. They'd been trying to absorb
Alec's pack for the last several years and he hadn't really had any
other options, but I knew he still felt uneasy about what had
happened.

With his superhuman hearing and sense of smell,
Alec knew I was struggling before I even did. He waited though
until I finally admitted how tired I was, and then he scooped me up
and effortlessly jogged to the top of the peak.

"Are all of you shape shifters such
show-offs? At least the change in altitude should bother you a
little."

Alec smiled as he came to a stop at the very
top and set me down. I waited for a couple of seconds for him to
respond and then shrugged and looked out over the arid, Southern
Utah landscape.

The view literally took my breath away. I
hadn't realized we were quite so close to Zions with all of its
incredible greenery. The stark contrast between the desert and the
lush vegetation was striking.

"Not a show-off, just really eager
to get you up here so I could watch your face when you first saw
all of this."

Alec had unzipped his backpack and
started emptying it while he spoke. Working with his usual speed,
it was only seconds before he had a blanket laid out. He handed me
a bottle of water and then helped me down.

"You weren't kidding when you said this place
was special."

Alec nodded and then wrapped me in a
light blanket. The heat had finally relented slightly. Not enough
to actually make it comfortable, but this high up it was actually a
little chilly. If I hadn't spent the last several weeks living in
the air-conditioned haven of Alec's house, the cooler temperatures
at the top of the mountain would have made the trip worthwhile all
by themselves.

"I've been wanting to bring you up here for a
while. I used to come up here a lot when I was younger. It was kind
of an escape after everyone started gaining their wolf form. We
were all so closely matched sometimes it seemed like we were always
scuffling to establish who was dominant."

He'd sunk down beside me while he was talking,
resting with his hands behind his head so he could look up at the
few thinly-stretched clouds. I took the opportunity to move closer,
cuddling up next to him. I didn't bother looking up at the sky.
Truth be told, I had all the beauty I needed right in front of
me.

His slight start as my head came to
rest on his arm was disappointing but entirely predictable. He
adjusted my blanket slightly so it was between us and then pulled
me closer. He was perfectly happy to touch me as long as there
wasn't any actual skin-on-skin contact. Every time I pushed for
more he backed away or found somewhere else he had to
be.

"That must have been rough. There are a lot of
strong personalities down there."

Alec's chuckle wasn't amused. "You could say
that. At first it seemed like things changed up on a daily basis.
Then Jasmin manifested her royal wolf form and things settled down
a little."

We were venturing into unknown territory for
me. Alec was usually so careful to keep me sheltered from his
world.

"Was Jasmin dominant then? I mean,
if she was a royal wolf and you hadn't manifested your hybrid form
yet did she win all of the fights?"

Alec rested his cheek on the top of my head.
"Not exactly. If she'd been a little more heartless she probably
could have killed me and cowed the rest of the pack. Even then
though, it was becoming pretty clear that we couldn't have two
separate packs in such close proximity. The need to keep the pack
strong meant that even though she pretty much ran the show most of
the time there was the occasional thing that I'd just refuse to
back down on."

His muscles tightened unconsciously,
like maybe he was remembering past pains. "She'd rip me up one side
and down the other but on the most important stuff I'd simply
out-stubborn her. When the dust settled usually I at least got a
compromise we could both live with."

I hugged him tighter for a second. "That sounds
a lot like what you guys do right now, just the other way
around."

"Yeah. That's about the size of it. She's still
hiding something from me, but I'm not willing to bleed her to try
and get an answer, not when odds are she'll just refuse to tell me
anyways."

That was edging towards a secret that wasn't
mine to tell. "Let's talk about something happier."

He looked at me out of the
corner of his eye. He'd probably heard my pulse spike. Sometimes
the fact that he was a shape shifter instead of just a normal boy
was pretty inconvenient. Of course if he wasn't a shape shifter,
then he wouldn't be 
Alec
.

"Your mom is likely to be back in town pretty
soon. Her latest contract has about run its course and it's looking
like I'd have to throw a whole bunch of money at her if I wanted to
keep her in Europe."

"I'm not so sure that's an improvement in
topics."

"You don't want to see your mom?"

"It's not that, it's just that I know we're not
going to be able to spend as much time together. It's not like
she's going to let me sleep over."

Alec shrugged. "I could try to
arrange for her to stay away for another month or two, but with the
kind of disposable income she'd get out of the deal it's very
possible she'd fly you out there."

"That settles it. Bring her back home. Even the
prospect of less time with you is better than being sent out of the
country and not seeing you at all."

Alec's smile nearly made me cry. "You know it
might be for the best. You need some time to get your bearings
again. Going cold turkey is generally the best way to kill an
addiction."

We'd been through this more than once since
he'd killed Brandon. He'd been so sure he was going to die that
he'd relaxed his normally rigid rules. Since then he'd done
everything possible to keep me at arm's length. Everything short of
sending me away.

Growing up with the example of his
mother was a powerful object lesson regarding what happened to
humans who got involved with shape shifters; but given enough time,
I'd exploit that tiny piece of him that wanted exactly what I
wanted.

"Unless you're sending me away there's no point
in having this conversation. I'm exactly where I want to be. It's
not like I'm throwing myself at you this very second. Have you come
up with an explanation for that yet?"

Alec stared back up at the clouds rather than
meet my eyes. "Not yet. D...my best guess is maybe that you've
realized your best bet at getting what you want long term is to
pretend like you're not impacted."

"Please. Do you really believe I have that kind
of willpower?"

"After the things I've seen you go through I'd
never doubt your willpower, Adri."

It was rare that I suffered from a
panic attack in Alec's presence but the reference to what I'd lost,
combined with my dreaded nickname, nearly did the trick.

As my pulse sped up again Alec pulled me in
close.

"Sorry about that. You do have to admit, it
would help explain why you're still here."

"Right, gorgeous, rich boy who also
happens to be the next best thing to a superhero. I must be out of
my mind not to run for the hills."

"You don't like it when I spend money on you
and the more involved you get with me the less likely it is I'll be
able to protect you."

"If I let you buy me something will you quit
trying to scare me off?"

"No, but it would make me feel
better."

He said that last with his
heart-stopping blue eyes gazing directly into mine and I nearly
stopped breathing. Somehow he hadn't realized yet that when he
looked at me like that there wasn't anything I could deny
him.

"Okay, you can get me a present,
something small and relatively inexpensive."

Alec smiled and reached over to the
backpack as he sat up. I let him pull me up and then felt my face
freeze as he pulled out a small velvet box.

"Alec, no."

"It wasn't that expensive and you've already
told me I could."

"I didn't think you'd have something already
ready and waiting to ambush me with. I thought I'd at least have a
few days to prepare myself."

He just waited with the box extended
and after several seconds I sighed and then gingerly held my hand
out. The green velvet lid swung up to reveal the most delicate
necklace I'd ever seen. It was a thin glass heart set inside a
slightly larger heart.

"I saw it when I was in Virginia last week for
business and thought of you."

"It's beautiful. You shouldn't have, but thank
you."

Alec slipped it around my neck and
did the clasp, his fingers lingering a fraction of an inch from my
skin, but he pulled them back without ever actually touching
me.

It really was beautiful; I looked back up to
thank him again when a wave of weakness slid through me. Alec
caught me before I hit the ground.

"Are you okay?"

"I think so. I thought I was past all of this
recovery stuff."

He looked concerned but I'd learned to read his
expressions better than I think he realized. He was worried, but
not just about me. He spent a lot of time worrying. The rest of the
pack, the town, his mother, his sister. It was a lot for someone
our age to deal with.

"There's an uncommon amount of that
going around right now." Alec shook his head at my curious stare.
"Dom and Jasmin both seem to be spending more time in bed than
you'd expect based on the wounds they took putting down Cassie and
the others. Isaac moved like an old man when we sparred yesterday
and Donovan is looking old lately."

I thought back and realized he was right, about
Donovan at least. The old shape shifter always moved gingerly
thanks to old injuries that had left his right leg permanently
crippled. I hadn't thought anything of it at the time but Donovan
was looking frailer lately.

The thought of Donovan getting to the point
that his age was starting to show nearly made me choke up. I didn't
have the extensive history with Donovan that Alec's family had, but
he'd been unfailingly kind to me despite the fact that I'd
endangered everything he cared about.

Alec correctly read my thoughts. "Don't worry;
I'm sure it's nothing. I'll force him to take a couple of days off
and I'm sure he'll be fine. He's only a bit past middle age for one
of us."

BOOK: Splintered
6.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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