A/N May 2021: Thanks to all the love and support you lovies have given Nike and Toby, Her Light has been published exclusively on Galatea as an Author's Original! Download Galatea and find Her Light on the Discovery page.
A/N Jan 2021: Happy new year lovies! Great news: Her Light was selected for the Galatea Author’s Originals trial and will be available on Galatea for the next 4 months. But don’t stress, Her Light will remain available on Inkitt during the trial.
But please check it out on Galatea! If it does good, it has a chance to be published like Broken Queen.
And as always, thanks for the support ♥♥
A/N Aug 2020: Shout-out to my mom for playing editor for me! #LoveYou
Remember to comment and review with your thoughts! Can’t wait to see what you think of my new book!
Happy reading, lovies!
Tribute: For my gran, who was a light in the dark for many in our family and taught us all to love and how we deserve to be loved. Rest in peace and love.
Nike Blackwood’s POV
I resemble my father more than I care to admit, from his pale blond hair to his cold green eyes. Eyes that he turned cold from a young age. Too young. He was an abusive husband and a cruel father, but he was a great leader and Alpha until he lost his mind.
As the oldest of his four daughters, I took the brunt of his cruelty. He tried to break my spirit, but I stood strong. Our mother taught us that everyone should be treated equally, no matter their gender, and that a true leader is always fair and just. Begrudgingly, my father saw that the alpha blood was strong in me. He started my alpha training when I was 12 years old and I did better than he ever imagined a female could.
But that didn’t stop him from wanting a son, the “rightful heir” to the Blackwood Pack as he said every time I did something wrong. No matter how small the error or how hard I tried, I was never good enough. He kept what was happening in our home private and no one suspected the truth until he went too far one day.
My youngest sister, Eris, had just turned two a week before when the pack doctor informed my parents that my mother would not be able to bare more pups. My father was furious that he would not have a son. The abuse and cruelty increased and soon there wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t picking my mom up and treating her wounds.
The pack started to sense their Alpha’s anger and noticed their Luna was no longer interacting with them. My father’s leadership suffered. He became tyrannical and pushed me harder than ever. Sometimes too hard.
But still my mother smiled and told me how proud she was of me. Of all her girls. Because we were stronger than our father thought we were. My mother taught us what was really important in life.
Happiness. Compassion. Honesty. Loyalty. Love.
But I don’t believe in love. How could I when my world was shattered because love wasn’t enough? My parents were mates and mates are supposed to love each other.
If love was as good and powerful as Mom said, why did my father kill her in a fit of rage?
“An Alpha must never show weakness,” Father sneers, throwing another punch my way despite knowing that I won’t block it.
I’m exhausted and can barely keep my balance, let alone lift my arms to block his never ending onslaught of punches. The training session this morning has been hell. He’s upset again. Eris wouldn’t stop wailing last night and Danu left her books out for him to trip over.
He approaches me as I crumble to the ground. Disappointment paints his face a dark mask, his cruel green eyes bore into my very soul. Green eyes we share, but I hope to never see painted that way.
Cold. Cruel. Unloving.
But they weren’t always like that...
His fist raises and I know what’s coming. “A weak female as Alpha will be this pack’s undoing. You need to train harder, Nike. I will not let you take over this pack if you can’t lead it properly. Training starts an hour earlier tomorrow morning.”
His fist flies towards me and I can do nothing but lay there...
A soft knock on my door has the nightmare fading, retreating to the dark recesses of my mind, hiding away until night. The door creaks open and Hestia’s floral scent mixes with a dark coffee aroma. A rare smile lifts the corners of my mouth.
“Are you awake, sis?” Hestia asks, and I roll over to face her in the doorway.
“Only if that coffee is for me,” I tease her.
She rolls her eyes and walks in, placing the coffee on my bedside table. Hestia’s brown eyes scan my face as I sit up and stretch out the soreness in my muscles.
“Did you get any sleep last night?”
I inhale the dark roast aroma and shrug slightly, “A couple of hours after Danu snuck in around 2am.”
Danu is the second oldest and found her mate shortly after she turned 18. Calvin had returned from the training camp all my warriors attend just in time for her birthday last year. They’ve decided to take the mating slowly, but I suspect Danu talked him into it. We remember all too well what happened with our parents. Calvin started building a house for them a few months ago for when they decide to complete their mating.
Hestia wordlessly hands over her small bag with hair ties and sits in front of me. Every so often, I’ll braid her wavy blonde hair. Our mom loved to braid our hair for school, and she taught me how. She always said we look like goddesses with our hair braided.
Mom loved mythology and named the four of us after the different goddesses that were her favourite or whose attributes she wished for us to have. But being named after the Greek goddess of victory is a heavy burden for me to carry, especially as Alpha.
“I’m going into town for the supplies. Do you need anything else for the pack dinner tonight?”
“We’re a bit short on peaches. Alpha Marcus loves peach turnovers and I thought it would be nice to serve them for dessert,” Hestia says.
At 13, Hestia is the spitting image of our mother and the heart that keeps us all together. She always helped with the cooking when we had visitors or a pack celebration. She was five years old, covered with flour from helping Mom bake cookies when she proudly announced that she was going to be a chef just like Mommy. She’s the happiest when in the kitchen and often bakes when she misses Mom.
A loud crash sounds near the front door and I groan in frustration.
“What did she break this time?” I sigh and tie off Hestia’s braid.
It’s kind of freaky how aptly our mom managed to name us and of the four of us, Eris takes great pride in being named after the Greek goddess of chaos. Eris the Menace, as we tease her, is always causing trouble when she’s bored. Apparently, she was kicking like crazy while Mom was pregnant with her and Mom just knew she was going to be a handful.
Well, Eris is a few handfuls and then some.
She sits on the floor in the entrance way of our wooden cabin. A broken vase and crushed flowers is scattered around her with the end table overturned. I rub a hand over my face and place my hands on my hips. Eris looks sheepish as Hestia chuckles softly behind me.
“Do I even want to know, Eris?” I ask her, carefully stepping over the broken glass to pick her up. She’s eight years old and too big for me to carry around these days, but I don’t want her stepping in the glass. I actually miss the days I could still carry her around, she always calmed down in my arms.
“It was an accident! I wanted to put my coat by the door, so I was ready to go shopping with you and I know you said not to run in the house, but I didn’t want to be late and then you would leave without me!” Eris rushes out in one breath as I sit her on a bar stool by the kitchen counter.
“Breathe, Eris. It’s barely 7am and I was still sleeping. Hard to leave someone at home when you’re still sleeping, silly,” I say and poke her little nose. “Now, since you’re dressed, stay right here while I get ready. 10 minutes and then we can grab some breakfast in town. Hestia, can you clean up the glass before Danu steps in it again, please?”
Danu, named after the Celtic goddess of knowledge, may be the smartest of us, but she can do some really stupid things when she isn’t paying attention - like stepping on broken glass while walking and reading.
I head upstairs and knock on Danu’s door to wake her before going back downstairs for a quick shower. I don’t want to leave Eris waiting too long and give her a chance to break something else. Danu is on my bed, her dark brown hair strewn across my pillows, when I come out of my bathroom.
I shake my head at her, “That’s what you get for staying out past curfew. Did you finish that stock list I asked you for yesterday? I want to get the shopping done and be back by lunch.”
I nudge her when she doesn’t answer. “On your desk,” she mumbles before pulling my blanket over her head.
I growl in frustration. “Danu! Wake up, please. I’m taking Eris with me, but I need you to go with Hestia and make sure the guesthouses are prepared for Alpha Marcus’s arrival. His mate and two friends will be joining him as well as three of his warriors,” I tell her, pulling the blanket off when she once again doesn’t reply.
Danu glares at me before pouting, “It’s too early to be awake on a Saturday, Nike… Can’t I do it later?” she asks.
“Fine!” I toss my arms in the air. “You can sleep for a couple of hours and then I need you to check those houses. I’m heading out now. Go sleep in your room and Calvin better not sneak in or I’ll take over his training for this week.”
I pull her up and she stumbles back to her room. Eris and Hestia laugh when Danu trips on the first step as she yawns, and they receive a rude gesture in reply.
“Danu!” I growl in warning at her, but she ignores me completely.
“What does that mean, Nike? What Danu did with her middle finger?” Eris asks.
“Something you won’t be mimicking, Eris,” I warn her. “Come on, little menace. We have some shopping to do!”
Eris runs to me and jumps on my back. I stumble slightly before adjusting her to sit better and wave to Hestia as we leave the house.
I can only hope Eris doesn’t cause too much trouble today. The alliance meeting with Alpha Marcus is crucial and could be greatly beneficial for our small pack.
We pull up at the local supermarket after grabbing some take out breakfast. I put Eris in charge of the shopping list to give her something to do that does not include sneaking chocolate bars into the shopping cart. Danu manages the stock of our dairy products. We’re lucky that one of our members found her mate, a nearby cattle farmer, and he took over supplying our meat and dairy about five years ago. One of our storage fridges broke without us realising and we lost the rest of this month’s stock. It’s only a week, but Mark has other orders to fill now.
“How many bottles of cream did Hestia want?” I ask Eris as she sits on a throne of milk boxes she built in the cart. She got tired of walking and promptly decided that she wants a milk box throne. At least now she can’t run off to the sweets isle.
“It says one litre of fresh cream,” Eris squints at the page before showing it to me.
“Let’s check out now. We should make it back in time for me to attend the training session Vince scheduled for noon.”
It became too difficult to hide the supernatural world from the humans and the Council exposed us back when I was still a pup. It was difficult and took a few years, but we now live in relative peace with treaties and agreements between all species.
“Thanks, Tammy. You’re the best,” I tell the human girl at the counter once we’re all checked out. A couple of boys help me with the other two trolleys and pack the groceries in the back of the pack truck.
We make it home later than planned since we stopped for ice cream. I didn’t want to stop but Eris decided to try and jump out the window when we drove passed. Damn child nearly gave me a heart attack! I drop her off at the pack house to give someone else some grey hairs. I can’t wait for the last two weeks of the summer holidays to end so she can head back to school.
I rush to the training fields in the clearing away from the houses and see that Vincent, my Beta, has already started the training when I get there. I join him at the front where the new trainees are sparring.
“Nice of you to join us, Alpha,” he teases, and I punch his arm.
“Next time I’m sending you to the shops with Eris!” I warn him.
He rapidly shakes his head, a shiver running through him. Vince is just a couple of months younger than me and looks terrified at the idea of shopping and then adding Eris to the experience. His mate once volunteered to look after my sisters when I had the initial meeting with Alpha Marcus to negotiate an alliance between our packs. Let’s just say, they put off having pups when Eris got into Vince’s chocolate stash and was literally bouncing off the walls on a sugar high…
I scan the training field for Calvin. I’ve been pushing him harder in his training since we found out that he’s Danu’s mate. I need to know she will be protected. Vince and I survey the progress of the newer trainees before moving on to the more experienced warriors. I spot Calvin near the edge of the group, sparring with his best friend, Miguel.
Vince follows my line of sight and nudges me. “Did you hear he finished building the house?” Vince asks quietly. “He wants to show it to Danu after training.”
“Well, then I need to have a word with him. Take over here, Vince.”
I move through the warriors and stop next to Calvin and Miguel. Calvin notices me watching and quickly ends the spar before helping his friend up.
“Alpha,” they both say and bow their heads.
“Good spar, Miguel. Find a new partner and continue,” I dismiss him. “I need a word with Calvin.”
Miguel leaves us, and I turn to face Calvin. He tries to stay confident, but his eyes are nervous, darting anywhere but at me.
“Look at me, Calvin. You’re practically family,” I sigh. “I heard your house is finished.”
He holds eye contact this time and I’m impressed. I may be the Alpha, but I prefer that my pack members look me in the eye. That was one of the first things I changed when I took over from my father.
“Yes, Alpha. I plan on showing Danu after training,” he says proudly, puffing his chest out.
I smirk at him, “I highly doubt you’ll be doing much after training.”
“I don’t follow, Alpha,” he says, completely confused.
“You’ll be sparring with me for the rest of the session. I want to know you can protect my sister.”
He’s strong and a good fighter, I know he’ll protect Danu with everything he has, but his speed could still improve.
“She’s my mate and my love. I would die for her!” he vows, though I can sense his nerves about training with me again. He had his ass handed to him shortly after discovering that Danu is his mate.
I growl and grab his neck, pulling him close. “I don’t need you dying for her. I need you living for her!”
And with that we start to spar. We exchange kicks and punches. Dodging and initiating various attacks. I test him thoroughly and he fights to show me that he is worthy of being my sister’s mate. Time ticks by and a crowd forms around us when training ends, but we fight on.
Calvin manages to tackle me to the ground, and I knock my head against a sharp rock hidden by the slightly long grass. We keep the training field clear of obstacles that could cause unnecessary injuries. The metallic scent of my blood fills the air and stars briefly dance around the edges of my vision. Calvin immediately stops, and I use it to my advantage. I grab his neck and reverse our positions, pinning him to the ground and winning the fight.
“Never stop until your enemy is down for good,” I mumble and tentatively place a hand on the side of my head to stop the blood flow.
Vince hurries over to help me up, but I remove his grip as soon as I’m stable. My father’s rules too ingrained in my mind.
An Alpha must never show weakness.
Calvin stands up and I reach my non bloody hand out to shake his. “Well done and welcome to the family.”
I stop by the pack doctor to check out the cut on my head. A couple of stitches later and I’m rushing to my house for a quick shower. Our visitors are set to arrive in half an hour and I still haven’t seen Danu or Hestia to get an update on the guesthouses. I also left Eris at the pack house, but I’ll grab her later. She should be fine there.
I stare longingly at the ripped jeans in my closet before grabbing a pair of neat trousers. Father made it clear that on official pack business, you should dress smartly. I grab the closest blouse and leave my hair down since it pulled at the stitches when I tried to tie it up.
The door opens and Hestia calls out to me. I hurry from my room and see Hestia and a mud-covered Eris standing just inside the door. I should’ve known she’d get up to something while I wasn’t keeping an eye on her. She’s covered in mud except her tear-stained face and trembling lip.
“Are you okay, sis?” I ask Eris and she nods.
I turn to Hestia and ask if everything is ready for our visitors. I breathe a sigh of relieve when she says that everything is fine before heading back to the pack house to finish the last bit of baking.
I crouch before Eris and wipe her tears away. “What happened?”
“Ray said I couldn’t play football with them and told me to go away. He said I wasn’t good enough to play with them and then his friends started laughing, so I grabbed his ball and ran away. I wanted to show them that I was good enough to play with them and ran to the points tree. But then Ray got mad that he couldn’t catch me and pushed me into the mud, but I grabbed him and pulled him down too. The other boys came over and we had a mud war and it was so much fun, but then Hessie came and said I have to take a bath. I don’t wanna bath, Nike, don’t make me take a bath!” Eris rants and throws her muddy arms around my neck.
Great, I think. Now I’m covered in mud too…
Well there’s only one way to solve this. I grab her small body and lift her over my shoulder. Eris shrieks as I carry her to my room to shower. She kicks her legs when I reach in to start the shower again. She hits a tender spot and I wince at the stab of pain, placing her down.
“We both need a shower before Alpha Marcus comes to visit. Do you want to look like a dirty pig or a strong wolf who is proud of her pack?” I ask her and start to undress her.
The shower takes a bit longer than planned since Eris decided we should have a bubble war. As if a mud war wasn’t enough for the day. I made sure that neither of us had mud hidden somewhere before drying off. I wrap Eris in a large towel and take her to her room upstairs, only in a towel myself.
We only have a few minutes and I know we were going to be late. I mindlink Vince to tell him that I would be there soon while pulling a forest green dress over Eris’s head and braiding her brown hair into a French braid before bringing her back to my room. I’m not leaving her alone again. I get dressed again and throw my wet hair into a loose bun in the nape of my neck, making sure that the damn stitches don’t pull.
“Come on, Eris. We have to run now,” I tell her while heading to my door.
Next thing I know she jumps on my back and yells, “Giddy up, wolfy. I have an Alpha to meet!”
I shake my head at her and hold her tightly before running down out of the house and to the pack house. I see a bright blue truck and a large black SUV parked outside and take a deep breath. Eris is getting a little heavy to run with her on my back.
Eris makes a beeline to the playroom where a few pups her age are playing. Two older females are in the room watching over them and I send a quick nod to them and motion to Eris.
“If she causes any trouble, call me. I have a meeting, but I’ll come to deal with her.”
I send a sharp warning look to Eris and she smiles back innocently. I pinch the bridge of my nose and head upstairs to the billiards room where I told Vince to entertain Alpha Marcus while I finished up.
The billiards room was Uncle Finn’s idea and I was more than happy to have it built for him. Uncle Finn is Vince’s dad, but he’s a father figure for me as well. He was my father’s Beta but decided to step down when I took over. He wanted to guide me as my father should have. Not with brutal training and belittling, but with thoughtful questions and subtle guidance.
Uncle Finn lines up a shot when I enter and swiftly sinks the eight ball to end the game, a triumphant smile lighting up his face as Alpha Marcus looks shell shocked at having lost. Uncle Finn is a brilliant strategist and player, giving you hope for a win before swiftly snatching it from right under your nose.
My pack members greet me as I walk to the pool table in the middle. Vince comes up to my right and makes the formal introduction of Alpha Marcus and Luna Carol. His friends and warriors must be in their guesthouses or exploring our small territory while we have the meeting.
“It’s nice to see you again, Alpha Nike,” Alpha Marcus says, and shakes my hand.
“Likewise, Alpha Marcus. Let’s move to my office and I’ll give you a brief outline of the meeting before dinner,” I suggest, and he indicates for me to lead the way.
I lead the way up to the third floor of the pack house where my office is located. The top floor also has a large meeting room where all the warriors gather for strategy and training meetings. My office is right next to the end of the staircase with the open plan meeting room a little further away.
The wooden door has a beautiful carving of a wolf pack howling under a full moon. The previous pack house was just a single floor cabin with Father’s office and a meeting room. I wanted to have a place where the pack could come and spend time together, so I worked with a human company that specialize in building wooden cabins. Now we have a three-storey log cabin with a communal kitchen, dining room and living room on the first floor, various game rooms on the second and then my office and meeting room on the top floor.
Hestia exits my office just as we are about to enter, and I raise my eyebrows questioningly. She points to the coffee table just beside my desk. “I brought up a plate with cookies and a pot of coffee,” Hestia smiles before greeting Alpha Marcus and Luna Carol.
“Thanks, sis,” I nod, and she reminds us that dinner will be another hour.
Luna Carol moves to the large floor to ceiling window on the right and gazes out at the clear blue sky. “This is beautiful, Alpha Nike.”
I nod my thanks and we all take our seats, except Vince. He makes a beeline for the chocolate chip cookies and I send him a sharp look. Now isn’t the time for fun and games, we have important things to discuss.
“Thank you for agreeing to come and visit our pack,” I say, once everyone has a cup of coffee.
Marcus smiles and laugh lines crinkle around his eyes. “I was quite intrigued by the proposal you sent, but I have some questions and alterations to the alliance you suggested.”
“I would be willing to answer any questions you have.”
I need this alliance for my pack’s safety. Marcus has the largest pack in our state and to have his support would be a great help should things take a turn for the worst. Our pack is one of the smallest packs in the country, with just under 50 members.
“You asked for protection from any threats that you encounter and agreed to assist with any threats my pack receive. We are currently at peace with packs in our county and those in the counties immediately surrounding us. You didn’t mention any threats in the proposal, but I feel there must be for you to request a meeting. Especially on your territory,” Marcus states simply.
I nod and take a deep breath. “About three months ago I was challenged for my position for the first time in years. It was the Black Moon pack again, but Alpha Damon sent his eldest son this time. Samael was accompanied by ten warriors.”
“Ten? That’s a bit excessive for a simple challenge,” Marcus interrupts, and furrows his brows.
“Yes, it is. Their Beta first challenged me about five years ago, shortly after I took the title, and he only had two with him. It immediately raised alarm bells for me, and I sent all pups that haven’t shifted and non-fighters to the safe room, just in case. Good thing too,” I sigh deeply, remembering that day all too clearly. “I defeated Samael, and everything was fine until I turned my back to call our doctor to check his wounds. One of his warriors attacked me from behind and a fight broke out. We lost two warriors before they tucked tail and fled.”
“Cowards,” Marcus hisses and Carol squeezes his arms to calm him. “Attacking an Alpha from behind is pathetic. Though, he was smart to wait until after the challenge to attack or he would’ve been reported to the Council.”
The Werewolf Council regulates our laws and that includes Alpha challenges. Any wolf can challenge an Alpha for his or her position on any grounds but may not have any help during the challenge. Challenges are strictly between the Alpha and the challenging wolf. Anyone who interferes during a challenge will be sentenced to death and the challenge is forfeited by the challenger.
For years I was challenged for my position after I killed my father in our own challenge. Challenges don’t have to be to death, but the choice resides with the challenger. I hate fighting to the death and always try to convince the challengers to fight for submission instead. It doesn’t always work, and I loathe the blood I have on my hands.
“I can see that being a problem, but I’m not seeing a direct threat. Or am I missing something?” Carol asks.
Vince stands and rifles through the large filing cabinet behind me. “This is why we see them as a threat, Luna,” he hands over the letter we found at the edge of our territory a few weeks ago. Marcus reads the letter and shakes his head.
I’ll have your pack. One way or another. Better watch your shadow, bitch.
“Did you report this to the Council?” Marcus queries, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“I have, but they said that they can’t do anything. His name isn’t on it and there was no distinctive scent on it. I didn’t expect much more from them anyway,” I shrug.
“I’ll make a call to a friend on the council. Are they still giving you a hard time?”
The intercom buzzes and then Hestia’s voice calls us to dinner. I stand and confirm that we are on our way. “Yes, I’m still having some issues. They’re still not happy about the fact that I’m female.”
“They need to get their heads out of their asses and into the 21st century,” Carol fumes.
Vince chuckles beside me and Marcus kisses his mate’s forehead. I look away from their affection and wonder if that was possible in my future - loving my mate for all to see and basking in their love for me.
Or will my past ruin my future?
Wooden picnic benches are scattered around the backyard and the pack mingles before dinner. Hestia thought it would be nice for Marcus to see how we interact as a pack and made this a pack dinner. Everyone quietens down as we exit the pack house and stand on the patio to face them all.
“Good evening everyone. I would like to introduce to you Alpha Marcus Hayes and Luna Carol Hayes of Golden Valley. Let’s take our seats and enjoy this delicious meal together,” I say as the mouth-watering aroma of beef stew is carried on the breeze towards us.
I lead the way to the head table when a I smell something absolutely incredible. Cinnamon with just a hint of chocolate. Did Hestia bring out the desserts too?
My eyes scan the buffet table, but only find the beef stew and rolls. My wolf scratches and paws at my mind and I take another deep breath, ignoring Vince’s worried glances. My eyes snap to the left where a male has a little boy over his shoulder.
Our eyes connect and my soul shifts.
I still in place, taking a deep breath.I just found my mate...
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