The Crowe convoy drove through the Mahowick Pass to reach the Saxe manor. The private island stood on the outskirts of the wolf territory in the Brox highlands. It was the only road leading to and from the brown clan, with a tall brass gate, which was open and left unguarded because of the day’s event.
They drove through the quiet streets till they reached the castle on the very tip of the Mahowick Pass. The muffled sound of celebration drowned out the silence as a uniformed man directed them to an open parking lot.
“Evie, you’re joining me at the frontline. I can’t lose sight of you for a minute.”
Ethan was back to being the overprotective dud before anything even happened.
“You better have Althea’s speed dial handy because I won’t sit with you and the other pretentious alphas. I am here to have a good time and I will not let you sully it!”
“This isn’t up for discussion. It is customary for ascendants to be at the frontline of events.” Ethan adjusted his dark grey trench as his thick brows raised.
She grinned joyously at him. “Good thing they don’t know who I am. Have a good time as Commander Crowe, while I enjoy myself as the unknown Crowe.”
“Now is not the time, Evie.” He reclined in his chair. “I want you to be close by just in case something goes wrong. This place is filled with wolves and witches with agendas, humans too.”
“It’s a good thing I have Samara and all my unnecessary protection.”
She glanced up at Eli in the rear-view mirror, and he looked back at her with a small smile. “Don’t be such a wet blanket,” she added, poking Ethan’s arm with a smile.
Ethan feigned a gasp, and Evie laughed. With a sigh of defeat, he kissed her forehead.
“Watch out for her, Eli. Don’t let her out of your sight.” From the passenger seat, Eli bowed to Ethan.
Though it’d be hard for her to shake Eli, she would take her chances with him instead of her brother. Both Ecclesia and Ethan would be so wrapped up in discussing politics that they would not notice when she slipped out.
The Crowes emerged from their black SUVs to find the four Saxes waiting: tall, large, gorgeous men with soft, magnificent features. They could hear the music now and the crowd was massive. Evie nodded, delighted that it would be just as good as she had imagined.
“Lord Commander, Lady Crowe.” The Saxes bowed.
“Welcome to the Bloodmoon Hounds clan, please allow me to show you to the frontline,” Oscar said with his resonating vibration of a voice.
“Sadly, Lord Saxe, I must decline your offer. I have no interest in sitting around all night with those stiffs,” Evie said.
Ethan glanced at her and shook his head as he laughed with the Saxes. Evie took a look at each Saxe Lord; it was uncanny how much they looked alike; with their brown hair and well-groomed beards. In any case, she didn’t want to be around for the awkward apology that was sure to follow.
Oscar frowned as he pulled the ringing phone from his pocket and switched off the screen. His invasive almond eyes met hers and held for a moment before she turned away from his intense gaze. He just tried to read her mind again, didn’t he?
“Let’s forget about our encounter yesterday, Oscar,” Ethan spoke in a low voice, drawing all eyes to him in the large clearing. “Tempers were running high because of a very troublesome busybody,” he said, looking in her direction on his right.
Rolling her eyes, she turned back to Oscar. “Lord Saxe, if you don’t mind, I would like a tour of the Saxe compound.”
Oscar looked between Ethan and her with an inquisitive glint in his eyes, while his brothers flashed him a cheeky smile.
She turned to Ethan and smiled. It was easy to understand Oscar’s expression when she saw the rage brewing in her brother’s eyes. Where was that fury with Andrea, or did Ethan know they were mates?
“Commander Crowe doesn’t mind,” Evie replied, which caused Ethan to turn to her.
“You and Liam owe me a good time, and I’m collecting,” she declared in a stern voice. “Come on, Lord Saxe,” she called out, walking toward the stairway that led into the party. Eli, and four Tranquil Banes, followed after her.
From the top of the stairs, her gaze swept the ceremony, and she waited until Oscar reached her side.
Turning, she offered him her hand. “Call me Evie.”
“I assumed you were a Victoria or Peggy.”
He reached out to shake her hand. While she laughed, he stroked her knuckles with his thumb.
“My pleasure. Say, what is your intention with regard to the Brox, Evie.”
His eyes swept over her, stripping her bare of her golden Grecian gown. Despite standing too close already, Oscar leant in, and she drew back with a squint.
“You have a penchant for invading people’s minds and personal space.”
“Only when they puzzle me, like an ascendant no one knows about, wouldn’t you agree?”
Evie grinned, as if he hadn’t figured it out already from poking about in her mind, or was he seeking her opinion?
“It’s one of those things, Lord Saxe. If you don’t know, then you shouldn’t.”
His amber eyes flashed at her, and he nodded. “One thing’s clear, you are a black fur goddess,” he whispered with a deep, thoughtful look.
Then he leaned in again, towering dangerously close to her, and Evie paused for a minute, a wave of anxiety washing over her as she took a step back from him.
“Goddess alone would suffice.” Evie shrugged.
“Indeed.” He agreed with his eyes fixed on her as if he couldn’t get enough of looking at her, but his gaze seemed to invade at the same time.
With a small cough, she stepped forward, leading them into the party. “I’ll take that tour you should be giving, and a big drink.”
“I know just the place to begin, Evie.”
He walked ahead of her, and she checked him out from behind. Wearing a long-sleeved brown shirt that clung to his muscles, his poise exuded an authority that made him lift right out. It was the same way with the blessed furs she’d encountered.
“How long are you in Broxbridge for?” he said, taking her up to the bridge that led to the ocean and away from the sound of the party.
He followed Evie’s lead as she leaned against the railing halfway up the bridge. She kept her mind clear, thinking about her plans now would reveal them to the mind-reading Saxe.
“You are not hopping around in my head right now, are you?”
His thick lashes fluttered as he smiled. “Not unless you want me to.”
“Wouldn’t you just love that?”
After a laugh, Oscar said, “Have dinner with me tomorrow.”
“Did you forget, Lord Saxe, there’s a slim chance of you making it out of the lair?” Evie arched a brow at him, and he shrugged. “I think you should focus on the suicidal quest ahead.”
Both he and Andrea seemed to think the quest wasn’t a big deal. Did the blessed furs of Broxbridge know about the lair that the others didn’t?
“Not with you here, in that.” Oscar’s eyes roamed over her, and Evie looked away with a smile. “I reckon dinner with you will be far more eventful.”
In addition to his rousing attention, was his gorgeousness. Evie bit her lower lip, a primitive reaction to his titillating coquetry. There was something exciting about being the centre of his attention. Her only experience with men was at the Crowe manor and the academy, and it never felt this rousing.
“You’re going to be trouble, aren’t you?” she asked.
He stroked his thumb down the side of her tight ponytail, tracing his way down to prop her chin up. “Would you really want it any other way?”
While she didn’t mind it, she knew her mate would not appreciate Oscar this close to her. Where was he, anyway?
“Tell you what—”
“Lord Saxe, the priestess has requested for your presence,” a blonde clad in a white body-con gown said, cutting Oscar off.
Following her bow to Oscar, her eyes flared with malice at Evie before she turned to Oscar with a coltish smile.
“We’ll pick up where we left off later, Evie. And when I return, you owe me dinner.”
With that, he dashed down the bridge and into the party with the catty lady.
She stepped off the bridge and started down the steps, taking in the surroundings as she went. A booming gong reverberated through the night, and everything went quiet. The crowd gravitated toward the beach, where a lady in a white robe twirled a portal. She was the priestess who served the Broxbridge moon goddess. Every tribe had one, and Althea was Uweka’s.
“It’s starting!” a voice cried out, and everyone moved closer to the beach.
Watching from the edge of the railing, Evie felt the night fall silent and hone in on a singularity with an eerie sensation. Her eyes dropped to the woman at the bottom of the stairs. Above her, the moon sparkled off her pure silver hair that fell to her waist. Evie turned around to watch her as she just stood there with her white dress swaying in the wind. Her silver eyes were fixed on Evie, and no one else seemed to notice her.
“It is time. Four will enter the goddess’s lair, but only one will emerge as alpha.” The priestess declared.
Her voice carried across the estate with the wind. Standing beside her were the four blessed furs of Broxbridge, each large and menacing. Evie swung back in time to catch the silver-haired woman slip into the path beside the gate, and her feet followed against her will.
“We will crown the first Lord to emerge from the lair at the crack of dawn as the new alpha of Broxbridge’s tribe.” The priestess continued, and the crowd erupted in excitement.
She scoffed at their overweening enthusiasm. While they cheered, the real ascension politics took place behind closed doors with the alpha Ecclesia. Her feet, which had taken on a mind of their own, continued after the mystery woman.
“Lords and blessed furs of Broxbridge, it is time for you to shift.” The priestess commanded.
After hearing those words, Evie turned back to the scene on the beach–she had to see it for herself!
The battle hum reverberating from the crowd sent a tingling shiver up her spine as all four men spread away from each other. They shifted from men into large, heavy wolves in a blink, each his own blessed fur colour–White. Brown. Black. Crimson.
“Black fur.” Her hands quivered as she heard his howl, amongst the others. “Godspeed,” Evie whispered a silent prayer to him.
With a howl that was nothing short of ungodly, the four blessed furs leapt into the portal one by one, accompanied by the drum-shattering cheers of the crowd.
Her eyes snapped back to the path, and she hurried down after the woman. Her black stiletto heels echoed on her quiet pursuit, her only companion the salty fragrance of the ocean.
Evie sprung around with a gasp—the woman was standing right in front of her. Only then did Evie notice her eyes; they weren’t silver; they reflected the moon, and it shocked her.
“It’s you.” She accused the silver-haired woman who frequented her nightmares.
“You have work to do, child.”
Her voice was soft and mesmeric, calming too. She held Evie’s shoulders, and they vanished in the night’s stillness.