The night was dark, darker than anyone gathered could remember as the bitter winds of winter tore through the moonless sky. Everyone felt death was imminent, but the sudden and inexplicable passing of a great, fearless leader left many pondering just one thing.
How? How was it possible that someone so strong and revered could just die?
The wind whipped at what few leaves lay anchored to their branches, the color long gone just like the warmth of a bright summer’s day, the golden yellow had long turned dark and cold. Growls could be heard near and far as two solitary male wolves stood surrounded by many others as a sense of uneasiness descended over them.
The two wolves stood facing one another as if sizing each other up. One had a distinct advantage when it came to size, and although wolves were bold, brash and wild, it seemed almost cruel that two wolves of such different sizes would be fighting each other.
Both animals were breathing heavily as they took a brief respite from the battle they were waging against each other. The smaller of the two looked worse for wear, a large patch of dark blood had matted the fur on his shoulder where the larger wolf had managed to land a bite. The wound itself didn’t seem to bother the animal but it was obviously struggling.
With matching eyes and a similar fur color it was evident the two animals were somehow related. The light color of their irises almost matched the thin dusting of snow that covered the ground but the larger wolf had speckles of brown while the smaller one had specks of green surrounded by a brown ring. Both their furs were the color of sand but marked with streaks and spots of white and grey. In many ways they resembled wild animals, but as the smaller wolf bowed in defeat and hunched over on the ground, it soon became apparent there was something more at play.
The small wolf sat on its hind legs, its tail tucked around its body with his gaze focused on the ground. His wolf form disappeared quickly as the man beneath the fur screamed in agony as the pelt of the wolf was soon replaced with the skin of a human. A young man covered in tattoos stood stark naked on the cold winters night seemingly not feeling the bite of winter. “I concede brother,” he spoke bitterly; “you are far more superior to me, it is you that deserves to carry the mantle of Alpha.” He didn’t believe his words as his conscience weighed heavy with defeat.
A few seconds later the other wolf transformed, his sizeable bulky wolf giving way to a broad-shouldered, well-muscled man whose eyes glittered in amusement, the smirk on his face cocky as his ears heard the sweet sound of victory.
Another human dressed warmly approached the larger man, “you have all witnessed the defeat of Luce, second son of our previous Alpha Riordan Northwood, by his older brother Kane.”
Roars of approval and wolf howls quickly went up around those gathered, “Kane is our new Alpha effective immediately, everyone present should submit to him now if you wish to remain a part of the pack.”
The man that held Kane’s arm quickly released it as he bent on his knees in front of the large, silver-eyed man. As the new Alpha cast his eye around the darkened area, he saw shadows falling to their knees in submission to his greatness. All knelt, all but one.
“I will not submit to you. You may have won Kane, but you will never be my Alpha, never!” Luce yelled his displeasure of having to yield to his older brother; he would never do such a thing.
Before Kane could protest and drag his disobedient sibling to be punished Luce surprised everyone by shifting back into his wolf form and disappearing off into the dark, cold night.
“Would you like us to go after him Alpha?”
As Kane pulled his eyes away from the direction in which his brother ran he frowned and shook his head.
“No, leave him, if he comes back catch him, I’ll make an example out of that little shit.”
Days after Luce’s defeat saw a bittersweet day for Kane. Not only was it his father’s funeral but it was also his formal inauguration and coronation as Alpha of the Northwood pack. Not the most powerful or largest pack but Northwood was known for its fighters, its protectors and its reputation for making examples of anyone that crossed into their territory and Kane would not be changing a single thing. He liked the way his father ran Northwood, and he saw no reason to change that.
As Kane sat in his new office looking through notes and documents pertaining to the various packs around their region a knock came at the door.
Two large double-storeyed windows sat either side of his dark wooden desk. The double storied room was grand by all means, and its walls were filled with shelves and shelves of books, Kane’s father taught him the importance of information and knowledge, something he would continue. The floor was carpeted, the wine coloured wool reminded him constantly of dried blood which then reminded him that he had lives to protect, people under his authority to keep in line, a pack to run and care for and as a twenty-four-year-old bachelor he was by far the youngest and largest Alpha to take power of Northwood. None doubted his ability, but many doubted he even had a beating heart.
A knock came a second time reminding him that the person still waited in the hallway, “what!” His voice boomed clearly in the silence.
Hearing the wood creak lightly he watched as a burly man walked in, behind him a small petite woman, “leave us, Harvey.”
The man nodded once and left the room, Harvey was large, but he was also much older than Kane and in charge of all the men that trained in Kane’s small academy. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you Alpha,” the small petite woman said with much emphasis on Alpha, “the sheets in my bed are always cold when I wake in the morning.”
Staring at the petite blond no smile came to Kane’s face which frustrated her greatly. Usually, it took just a single bat of her lashes for him to be dragging her towards a bedroom, but now he didn’t even look up from the books that sat before him.
“You’re good at sleeping your way around Victoria; I’m sure Harvey wouldn’t mind spending the night with you again.” When finally he tore his eyes away from the notes in his father’s diary to eye Victoria the furious blush on her face, and the clenching of her fists at her side warmed him.
While Victoria had been a good lay when he needed release he was well past that phase in his life, his mate was out there somewhere, and he would find her and make her his wife whether she liked it or not. Kane was never one to show feeling or warmth to anyone, and he knew that would not change with his future wife.
His amusement grew as he saw the brow crease over Victoria’s doe brown eyes, eyes that he thought he might one day have come to like but Kane realised sooner rather than later all he could do was tolerate her existence. The two had grown up together, and while they were friends as children, he knew better than to make her more than she was. Always clingy and whiney he quickly grew bored with her over and over again, and he knew that she was good for just one thing.
She used to be good for one thing he reminded himself quietly.
The fiery look in her eyes quickly grew as the redness in her cheeks became more than a little prominent, “you are such a devil Kane, no woman in their right mind would voluntarily love you!”
He watched as she turned on her heel and headed towards the door, “seems like it didn’t take much to make you love me,” his cocky smile seemed to set in place as her hand froze over the door knob, she turned back with narrow eyes, if she could kill Kane she would but he did have a point.
Unfortunately for Victoria, she had chosen to give her heart to the wrong man. He did not treasure it, he didn’t cherish it, but every time he got the chance he would throw it on the floor and repeatedly stomp all over it. “There was no love Kane I just wanted to satisfy my needs and slander your reputation, wonder why no other woman bothers with you?” She held her index finger and thumbed up to him, a tiny gap between.
His amusement quickly disappeared and the annoyance he so readily felt when in Victoria’s presence came galloping back. “I am Alpha now Victoria if I get wind of any slander I know who to punish,” and punish her he would it was time someone taught Victoria her place, a place she had obviously long forgotten.
“Yeah, that’s right hide behind that title Kane! Hide like the little man that you are.” He heard her as she pulled the door to his office closed behind her.
“I hate that woman!” His fist pounded the desk in annoyance as the phone sitting on his desk began ringing loudly.
It took a few seconds for his mind to clear of Victoria and as he glanced across his hand lunged for the phone as he brought it quickly to his ear, “what!”
For a minute it was quiet, he could hear breathing on the other end and just as he pulled it away a man’s voice spoke, “sir we have a problem..........”
“What is it? What problem is there? Sort it out!” His patience wore thin quickly, his temper shorter still as the man on the other end stammered through a tirade of words, none sticking out more than one.
In a blur, he rushed from his office and towards the front door, Harvey met him with a small smile, “bout time we had some action ’round here, was beginning to think no one would ever cross our borders since you came to-”
“Shut up.” Was all that fell from Kane’s lips as he turned towards Harvey, “get the truck were going out.”
Harvey quickly did as he was told, he knew all too well how Kane was after being around Victoria, he had seen the mood changes too often and was not particularly fond of them. While Kane never really dove into the realms of joy like others did there were times when Harvey thought he saw it creeping into his bones.
With Kane behind the wheel, their truck ploughed through the snow that covered the area where the rogues had been captured. The ankle deep powder not much of an obstacle to him. The wooded area was quiet, more snow fell but drifted through the air before settling amongst the long-dead leaves, in the distance Kane saw his men standing with four people and as he approached he noticed it was two men and two women.
As he approached the group he noticed that one of the women did not raise her eyes from the ground, they all sat naked in the snow he assumed the group had been travelling in their animal forms.
“Why are you trespassing in Northwood territory?” His voice stern, unassuming, daring one of them to challenge him.
The two men looked at each other before one spoke, “please let us pass peacefully, we didn’t know we had passed into your territory, we are not rogues, and we are not here to cause trouble.”
Looking at the man that spoke Kane took a step closer their eyes locking, “but what trouble are you running from to need to pass through in the first place.” Kane’s voice seemed to soften a little but for those that knew him knew that he was not sincere and that it was all a show to get information.
Kane felt the man’s heart race; he saw the look of shock and terror flash through his eyes. He began fiddling and looking more than a little nervous towards one of the women, it caught his attention and as he took a step towards one the man spoke. “Our pack, we were attacked in the south by.....by rogues they were ruthless, they killed everyone in our pack but we four managed to escape, we are on our way to allies in the North.” The name the man spoke next made everyone more than a little uneasy, “we are on our way to the Carriere pack, their Alpha-”
The man was cut off with a knock straight to the face, “perhaps you should have planned a little more before setting off, Northwood and Carriere are not allies, we are not friends, and if any of them pass through here they are killed on the spot, why should I not kill you? Why should I not kill any of you?”
As soon as the question fell from his lips the woman he was closest to stood faster than he dared think, she was swift and graceful and as her eyes landed on him he was filled with a sudden hate for what he saw reflected in her eyes, it was not what he wanted to see.
“It is because of me they came through your land if anyone should be punished it should be me,” the man who was knocked to the ground crawled to his feet and her side.
“Adline no, I promised your father I would get you to Carriere, I promised him there would be a future for the Black Mountain pack, please do not speak.”
Amusement once again forced its way into Kane’s conscience as she held her hand up to silence him, “Levaud do not speak, my father told me of him, this man he is Kane Northwood ruthless Alpha of his pack...........”
Her words were lost to him as he let his eyes travel her figure, she was tall and slender, her arms looked as though there was some strength there, a small scar on her shoulder made him want to reach out and feel it beneath his fingers. Her dark skin looked smooth to the touch, and he found himself longing to touch it, to feel her long dark hair fall between his fingers, he was utterly entranced.
His eyes roamed her face, and when he saw the sparkling twinkle in her brown eyes, it made him want to smile. But when he settled on her lips the warmth that had been growing in him was quickly snuffed out when he saw her smile. Her smile reminded Kane that he didn’t have time to love, he to rebuild his pack in his name and his vision. After the death of his father, there were many things that needed to change.
“Bring her, kill the rest.” The smile on her face quickly disappeared as she screamed and turned to try and protect the other three.
“No please don’t kill them!” Kane watched as her eyes quickly filled with tears, as much as he wanted to wipe the smile from her face he wanted to dry her tears with his fingers while he held her close.
“Why shouldn’t I kill them Adline of Black Mountain?”
“Please no, I’ll do anything just don’t kill them, let them live, they’ve been through enough to see me safely this far, let them pass.” Kane was surprised to see her suddenly on her knees, her hands clasped in front of her pleading for their lives, he could get used to this.
“Escort them to the border no further, put her in my truck.” His order received a curious glance from Harvey, “ask that question, and it’ll be your last Harvey.”
A wicked grin settled itself onto Kane’s lips as he thought about the dark creature he was taking home, one word playing over and over again in his mind, mate.