WOLFHAVEN

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For three generations, an uneasy truce has existed between
the shapeshifter packs of Wolfhaven and Silver Ridge.  But Equinox is fast approaching; and all is
about to change.

 

Connell, grandson of Wolfhaven’s chief, is hungry for
adventure; and eager to explore the world beyond the boundaries of where he
grew up.  Is this a plan set for failure? 
Only Lupa, Goddess of Wolves, can know; for it is she who bends destiny
to her will. 

 

Thayer, heir apparent and Connell’s older brother,
has found love with Lena – Mistress of the Moon – and daughter of Silver
Ridge’s alpha.  Yet, the course of true
love never runs smooth.  Lena is matched to another.  A wolf of her father’s choosing.  

 

Fierce and strong, Kellan is Arden’s second and will
make the perfect mate.  If only Lena
wished it.  Silver Ridge, a world of
zealotry and submission, is no place for a freethinking female.  Especially not one, whose lover whispers of a
world beyond her father’s reach.

 

Will Connell’s dreams of freedom and adventure be thwarted,
as Thayer and Kellan challenge for the right to claim Lena as their own? 
Or will Lena resolve to put the traditions of her pack and the demands of her
father over those of her own heart?



Chapter One


Connell loped through the forest.  The shadows grew long in the cool of
twilight, and fallen needles concealed his tracks in the dark loam.  Winter was near.  He smelled it on the breeze, sensed it in the
thickening coat on his back, felt it in the weight of his paws, full-grown at
last.

Dex ran parallel, three hundred paces to
his right. The occasional flash of russet the only physical proof that he had
company. Connell enjoyed evening patrol. 
The relative solitude of it provided him time away from the others to
think, without their voices clamoring in his mind. 

A flock of birds, startled by his passing,
ejected into the flushed sky. The heat of their plump bodies full in his snout;
hunger a tight fist in his gut. Asena was right. Patrolling on an empty stomach
motivated you.  Kept you focused.

Connell saw Dex in his mind approaching the
northern turn of the inner boundary, his shoulders bunched ready to take it
without loss of momentum.  Connell had a
hundred paces still to cover before his own turn. He could see the majestic
cedar that marked the line of their territory with that of the Borderlands; a
tract of dense forest that both invited and forbade exploration. 

He had run this patrol every night since he
was deemed grown enough.  First with his
mother; her voice in his mind teaching him what was normal for this part of the
pack lands.  Sienna nudging his shoulder
with her muzzle when he strayed from the line. 
Thayer had taken over Connell’s training after she died, and every day
Connell had wished his mother could be there to witness his progress.  He doubted he would ever conquer the longing
to see his mother’s wolf, muzzle held high as she watched her sons bound out of
sight. Sibling rivalry strong in their youthful bodies, and Connell determined
to prove himself to the large sandy wolf at his side.

Thay’s scent drifted into his nose; sat
high and proud, hint of cedar and something Connell couldn’t name, as it made
his every muscle clench tight.  He’d
skidded to a halt, paws leaving furrows in the soft soil, as he scented the
border.  Thay’s smell was stronger there.
The heat of it flavoring the air Connell panted, his tongue lolling in confusion.
Why would his brother be out of bounds?

A groan, too quiet for anything but a
wolf’s ears to hear, drifted close.

Connell was bounding toward it before he
had decided to move.  His hind legs
clawed traction against the roots of towering trees. His lithe body weaved an
uncharted course through over-crowded trunks and over unfamiliar terrain.  Dex was yelling questions in his mind. Demanded
answers Connell didn’t have. Instinct was all-consuming. It drove him forward;
lean athletic body a blur of sand and cream, indistinct beneath the heavy canopy
of   suspicious scents.

Thay’s groan and subsequent grunts sounded
more human the closer Connell got. It must be bad if his brother had shifted to
his human form.  Thay preferred wolf to
human above all else.  Dread buried
itself deep into Connell’s gut; drove out the hunger that had resided there not
a moment before.

He was upon them. Thay’s scent enveloping
Connell as he skidded to a halt, rear haunches crouched, front paws buried in
dark soil.  Connell whuffed in surprise,
embarrassment hot on its heels; Thay was not in danger. The groans Connell had
picked up on the still air were those of pleasure. Dragged from his brother’s
slack human mouth, as his naked hips rutted into the female on her knees before
him.

Connell shouldn’t look.  Should turn back and meet Dex before the
other wolf could intrude on the privacy, Connell’s brother had sought.  But he couldn’t move. He told himself it was
because Thay was vulnerable like this; human senses unable to even register
Connell’s own presence, let alone that of danger.

They were amazing together. Their rhythm
suggesting this was not their first coupling. 
Thay wrapped an arm around the young female’s waist and pulled her up,
thrust deeper as she leaned back into his chest; her milk-white skin a perfect
pale contrast to his smooth gold.  She
flung her head back, neck arched on Thay’s shoulder; pleasure pouring from her
lush mouth in a torrent of incomprehensible sounds, that did things to Connell
he’d never ever confess. He watched,  hypnotized  by the slide of Thay’s huge hand down the
female’s belly, fingers sinking into soft flesh hidden by a pelt of black
curls. 

“Lena, baby, yeah, that’s it.” Thay
murmured against her ear, chin tucked over her shoulder so he could watch. A
plea so private Connell felt sick at having heard it with his wolf’s hearing.

The female, Lena, rolled her hips, chased
Thay’s touch as she stretched out her flanks. Her long black hair falling aside
to reveal pale pink teats, riding high on full round breasts. They bounced with
each of Thay’s thrusts, overflowed his brother’s hands when he squeezed; harder
than Connell imagined Lena would permit. But she moaned, circled her curvaceous
hips, and sank deeper into Thay’s lap.

Connell had no experience in the pleasure
of mating, but even he could tell Thay and Lena neared their crest. They
scrabbled at each other, Lena’s nails scratched at Thay’s forearms as if she
were one slip from falling down the cliff at North Peak. Thay crushed Lena’s
smaller body to him as if he wanted nothing more than the permanence of being
merged with her. Connell’s ears burned with their cries, no louder than polite
con-versation to human senses; but loud enough to bring wolfish onlookers from
a mile’s circum-ference.

As Thay and Lena collapsed in on one another,
bodies weak and tangled, Connell caught movement in the undergrowth on the opposite
side of the clearing. Yellow eyes bright with a menace that seared into the
broad expanse of Thay’s back. 

Connell sprang forth, ears flat, and black
lips pulled in a snarl of protective fury; paws thud-thudding in a spray of
black as he claimed the space between Thay and Lena, and the undeclared
threat. 

“What th-?” Thay growled. His human voice
carrying no less anger than his telepathic one would have done. “Conn?”

Connell sensed Thay’s desire to shift, knew
there must be a danger his human self couldn’t detect.  But his brother’s recent exertions and the
dizzying heat of Lena’s scent were making Thay thick-headed.  Connell spared his brother a flicker of
sympathy, even as he vowed never to find himself in this predicament.  The fleeting pleasure couldn’t outweigh the
lasting embarrassment.  Of that, Connell
was sure.

Yellow eyes crept closer. A muzzle dark and
dusky like salted pepper. Wicked ivory fangs bared in a sneer of black gums. Arden.

And, oh shit!  Lena. 
That Lena!  Connell shook his head
as if a wasp had lodged in his ear.  He
hadn’t understood before; hadn’t realized when Thay had whispered her name
earlier.  Arden’s daughter – Lena –
prized heiress of the bloody moon zealots! 
Thay sure knew how to pick ‘em.

A vibrating growl filled the clearing as if
it was a glass, and sound was water. Connell felt his chest contract and
struggled against the weight of submission being forced upon him.  But Dex was there; driven from concealment by
the threat to his packmates. His russet hackles raised as he covered Connell’s
right flank; body shielding Lena from her father’s view.

Connell kept his gaze trained on Arden,
aware of the two lieutenants lingering in the dappled shadows. But it was the
furious whispers of the two shifted humans that filled his mind.

“You can’t, he’ll kill you.”

“I must.”

“You’re blind if you can’t see how this
will end.”

“As are you, if you believe my father will
allow this to continue.”

A series of creaks and a pained whimper
signaled Lena’s shift back to her wolf. And Connell sensed smug triumph bleed
out from the black wolves across the clearing. 

“I will challenge for you.” Thay declared
voice thick with something Connell had no name for. “You’re mine.”

Connell huffed a breath, embarrassed to
bear witness to his brother’s declaration. The seven words carrying more
intimacy and personal intensity than Thay and Lena’s joining had done.

With a heartbroken howl that wavered in
pitch, a silver wolf with jet black mantel and delicate limbs shot past Connell’s
left flank. Lena, head bowed in hope of appeasing her father, had abandoned her
mate, and Connell’s brother, to save all their lives.

Thay’s own anguished howl reverberated
throughout the stoic ambivalence of the forest, punctuated the soundless
retreat of Lena and her father, and painted the fading sunset with a pain
Connell could feel clawing at his own chest. 
Connell decided then and there that he would never fall for a female the
way Thay had.  It was stupidity itself to
allow anyone that much power over you.

Dex shouldered him into movement, and took
Thay’s right flank when Connell shielded his left.

“Home?” Dex thought.

“No,” Connell decided, “finish the patrol.”

Dex yawned a whine and shook out the last
of the tension from his shoulders, fur settling.  They, Thay most of all, needed the calm a run
would bring.  It was the right course of
action.  Besides, Arden would be too busy
bringing his daughter to heel to attack before dawn. 

This was far from over. The tension
radiating from his brother told Connell that. 
Thay loved Lena, and Connell supposed Lena loved Thay.  But only a female truly knew what lay in the
depths of another female’s heart. 

Asena would know what to do. Their
grandmother was so much wiser than any of them; wiser than two young wolves
from opposite sides of the border. Or at least that was what Connell hoped as
his packmates, one russet and one sandy brown, kept pace along the last stretch
to home. 

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Author

Jay Shaw

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