“I didn’t ask for your opinion,” Aden Harte growled into the phone. She clutched it tight but had to remember that she’d already broken two cell phones this year and didn’t have time to go and purchase another one.
Her eyes landed on the clock hanging on the wall of her cabin and took in the time. She had to go, and her cousin blabbering on the phone didn’t take the hint.
“Well, you are going to get it,” Hank retorted. Her elder cousin was an alpha, as was she. They came from a strong wolf shifter line where their ancestors once helped forge the laws all shifters abided by today. “It’s time you stop dicking around and mate with Samuel’s daughter. She’s a fine wolf and would make a good mate to you.”
Aden pinched the bridge of her nose. She leaned back on the couch and slouched down in her seat. Her leg bounced up and down uncontrollably. It was a nervous tick she hated. An alpha should always be in control of her body.
The cabin she lived in alone needed a good cleaning. She’d have to get someone here to clean. She could hear her mother complaining if she were to see it now.
Her wolf paced back and forth inside of her. The beast didn’t like taking orders from anyone, but Hank wasn’t just anyone.
He was the one who helped her when she’d reached the lowest point of her life. Hank was older, and she was always taught to respect her elders. Her father, goddess rest his soul, would string her up by her hind legs if he knew she was giving Hank shit.
Hank was her father’s younger cousin. They had grown up like brothers and had been the best of friends. No one knew her father like Hank did.
A pain in her chest took her breath away at the thought of her father. Hugo Harte had been one hell of a wolf and man. He’d been the best father any pup could wish for. Her father had always been larger than life. He had played an active part in her and her brother’s life. He had been the staple of their family and the community. He had been the beloved alpha of their pack until he went missing. She closed her eyes, remembering the night they had found his body.
Hugo Harte had been murdered.
No man deserved to die the way her father had. Shot from behind with silver bullets, and while the silver slipped into his bloodstream, someone slit his throat, ensuring his death. His body was tossed down a ravine twenty miles from the pack lands. By the time he was found, he had begun to decompose. There was even evidence of animals mutilating the body more.
A shudder rippled through her body.
That had never been how Aden had imagined she would inherit the reigns of alpha. She’d always fantasized about her parents retiring to a cabin deep in the woods while remaining a prominent member of their pack. He would have been her advisor, helping her navigate the world of being in charge of a community that looked up to her and her family.
But that wasn’t how it went.
Heartbroken and full of rage, she’d been sworn in as the alpha. Her first duty had been to find her father’s killer and put them down. Aden had sworn to her mother, family, and pack that she would not only find the killers but also make them pay. They would be brought to justice.
The shifter way.
With Hank’s help, not only did they find Hugo’s killers, they executed them. What should have satisfied her only left her feeling like a shell of her former self. She had delivered on her promise, but she would give up anything to hear Hugo’s boisterous laugh again or to see his amber eyes sparkle when he gazed upon the pups of the community. Hugo Harte had loved the children of the Black Fang pack. He always claimed they were the future and should be nurtured early.
“I know you’re still there. I can hear you breathing,” Hank snapped.
“Of course, I’m still here. Just thinking,” Aden murmured. She sat up and leaned forward, resting her elbows on the knees of her ripped jeans. Tonight was the full moon run with her pack. Soon she’d have to leave. The moon would be at its highest, and that was when they were set for the run. Her animal whined, pushing at her chest. Her beast was ready to stretch her legs.
“And? You’re going to mate with her, right? Aligning your pack with Samuel’s would give you a great alley,” Hank said.
“Calm down, cousin. Klara and I have hung out a few times,” she admitted. The last time she’d hung out with Klara, things had turned heated on the bed of Aden’s pickup truck. If her beta, Avice, had shown up a few minutes later, Aden would have had a mouth full of Klara’s pink pussy.
“Getting a feeling of each other and letting your wolves get to know each other. Good thinking.” He blew out a sigh before his voice dropped lower. “I know this is hard for you. I’m sure you wanted to find your fated mate like how your parents were fated, but sometimes duty calls, and we have to answer.”
“It’s fine,” Aden lied. She pushed back her dark auburn hair that fell forward into her face. Aden had given up on the thought of finding love. She witnessed first-hand how her father’s death affected her mother. She wouldn’t wish that on no one. A mating of convenience would be perfect for her.
Klara was beautiful and from a strong wolf pack. She was a curvy female with ample breasts, a narrowed waist, with a killer ass. Aden would have no trouble taking Klara to her bed. Tonight would be their first time together in their wolf form. Things appeared to be moving in the right direction. Her duty was to her people, and if being able to fuck a woman like Klara was part of her duty, she would gladly accept the challenge.
“I invited Klara and some of her pack for the run tonight,” Aden announced.
“Good. I’m just now seeing what time it is. Our run is tonight too.” He cleared his voice as it had become gruff. “I just want to say how proud I am of you, Aden. Your pops would be too.”
Aden’s eyes burned with unshed tears. Why did he have to go there? She squeezed her eyes shut and willed the tears to go away.
“Thanks, cousin. For everything. I don’t know what I would have done without you,” she admitted. She sniffed and pushed off the couch, and stood.
“Ah, you would have figured it out. Your pops had been training you for alpha since you first shifted. You just hadn’t realized it.”
A knock sounded at the door. Aden jerked her head in that direction and sniffed. Avice had arrived. It was time for them to go meet the pack.
“Look, I got to go. I’ll call you later,” Aden promised. They disconnected the call, and she tossed her phone on the couch and headed toward the door. She snatched it open and found Avice leaning against the doorjamb.
Avice, her long-time friend, was the first and only person she had considered when she’d taken over as alpha to be her right hand. Avice was just as crazy as Aden and highly loyal to Aden and the Black Fang. There was no other person she trusted aside from her family to back her up and help run and protect their pack.
“It’s time, boss,” Avice grinned. The pack’s beta was an inch shorter than Aden’s six-foot frame. She had dark blonde hair, was in top shape, and loved to joke around when not handling pack business. “Everyone is starting to gather, and the enforcers are out in full detail.”
Aden scowled, hating when her friend called her boss. They were complete opposites when it came to personalities. Avice was friendly and open to everyone. She smiled a lot, and people gravitated toward her. On the other hand, Aden had been called a grouch a few times, but there wasn’t a wolf in her pack that couldn’t approach her. She used to be a laid-back and chill woman, but becoming alpha put a lot of weight and responsibility on her shoulders.
But Aden ensured she still enjoyed life when she could. She always had a supply of women. She loved a good whiskey and a fine cigarette.
She had tried to kick the smoking habit, but thanks to her shifter genes, whatever damage was done to her lungs healed almost immediately.
So, she could keep her one vice. She just tried to not smoke as much as she used to.
It was pitch dark outside. It was the end of summer, and the moon rose much later. Their small town of Rivers, Oregon, was
beautiful at this time of year. Aden inhaled and took in the wonderful smell of nature. This was what she needed to clear her mind of all of her responsibility as alpha. The pack run was a community event. Afterward, there were always celebrations to honor the new moon. Tonight, Aden planned to attend the local shifter bar, which had just reopened after extensive remodeling. It was located near the end of the trail they would take. She’d invite Klara with her and then see where the night would take them.
It had been five years since Aden stepped into her alpha role. Even today, looking out amongst the members of her community, it filled her heart that so many people trusted her to keep them safe. After the death of Hugo, their pack had grown stronger and closer and had prospered. Their enemy thought killing Hugo would break them, but they had stood together.
Aden may not run their pack like her father did, but she had forged her own path, and she was proud of the woman she was and the strength of her pack. Their numbers had grown. Word had gotten out about their small town. Rivers was a thriving town, and humans and shifters called it home.
“Tonight, we look to the moon and thank her for her power and grace,” Aden said. She and Avice stood before everyone as a unified front. They were two powerful women who would lie down their lives for every person standing before them. Her people held on to her every word. Tonight was about letting their inner animals out, freeing themselves, taking pleasure, and enjoying life.
The large moon was high in the sky, sitting amongst the scattered stars that littered the dark canvas of the nighttime sky. The weather was warm, with a breeze rustling the leaves in the trees. It was a perfect night, and she felt good about the run.
Klara stood in front of a few members of her pack. Her lips curved up in a sensual smile as she watched Aden. Klara was a beautiful woman who would make a great wife for an alpha. She came from a prominent family and was practically groomed for the role. She knew all the ins and outs of running a pack and even had some great ideas.
“We have grown stronger as a pack and will continue to do so. Together as one, we will continue to thrive. Now we will enjoy this night, and everything offered,” Aden said. Her words were met with cheers. Excitement filled the air. The monthly pack run was a highly anticipated event that united them. Tonight’s crowd was quite large, and plenty of wolves will be out in the woods. “Now, bring your animals to the forefront, and let’s run!”
Aden took notice of her younger brother, Jakub, standing off to the side with a few of his friends. He was ten years her junior, but they were as close as siblings could be. He sent her a wink before turning away.
“Ready to lead your pack?” Avice murmured, a twinkle in her eyes.
“Always,” Aden replied. She was confident in leading her pack on the run. As the years passed, it became easier for her to think of the pack as hers. Her wolf rumbled deep in her chest at the thought of getting released. She began stripping her clothes, as was everyone else. Shifters were used to being naked. Clothes never made it through the shifting process. Being naked amongst each other was second nature.
Once the last of her items were free of her body, Aden gave in to the change, allowing her beast to come forward. She fell to the ground, her body contorting as her bones began to take on the form of her wolf. Dark hair sprouted out onto her skin, and her gums burned while her fangs burst through.
Her wolf, finally out, shook her head and released a pleasing rumble. Pleasure whipped through Aden as her animal inhaled, taking in the scents of her fellow wolves. Her lips curved up into a wolfy grin. Even though her wolf was now free, Aden still was in charge.
Avice, a fawn-colored wolf, came to stand by her side. She gave the nod to Aden, showing her respect.
Aden threw back her head and let loose a resounding howl that echoed for miles around them. It signaled the start of the run. Her wolves responded, sending their voices to the air. Oregon country was beautiful, with the expansive lands and valleys that surrounded their small town. Hundreds of wolves roamed the area in front of her. Everyone had completed their shift. A gray-colored wolf approached her. The female bowed her head before nuzzling her nose in the crook of Aden’s neck.
Her wolf inhaled, taking in the female’s scent. As the future mate of an alpha, it would be her duty to be by Aden’s place for the hunts. Rumors had been circulating about the match between them. The pack elders had agreed that the match between Aden and Klara would be sound. It was only a matter of time before Aden officially proposed a mating of convenience to Klara.
Having Klara here would be a way to officially introduce Klara to the Black Fang.
Aden released a yip and turned. She gave another howl, then ran across the plains to head into the woods. Their town was surrounded by open land and plenty of forest areas. It allowed their animals to hunt and be free when not in their human bodies.
Klara and Avice kept up with her. The sound of barks and yips filled the air. They entered the woods, wild animals scurrying to hide from nearby predators.
Aden grinned and pushed herself even faster. Her animal was having the time of her life. The thrill of racing free along pack grounds was one thing her animal loved besides hunting. Klara and Avice continued to keep up with her. They came to a small creek where they jumped over it, landing on the peaceful grounds of the bank.
The ground shook as hundreds of her wolves followed behind them. The pack was strong and showing their solidarity tonight. Before long, the pack had returned to the starting point. A couple of hours had passed, and Aden’s wolf wanted to stay out even longer. But tonight wouldn’t be the night. They had some celebrating to do, and Aden could go for a strong drink and a smoke.
Tomorrow, we’ll go out again, she promised her beast.
Her animal responded with a short growl. She was unhappy to return the reigns to Aden, but she relented. Her pack members had returned and begun shifting back into their human forms. Aden pulled back on her wolf, who gave in to the change.
Soon Aden was kneeling on the thick grass. She stood and glanced around at everyone. Joy was evident on everyone’s faces. A happy pack was proof she was doing her job right.
“That was fun,” Klara announced, saddling up to Aden. She wrapped an arm around Aden’s waist and leaned her naked body against Aden’s. Aden felt the curious stares of her wolves on them. Aden wrapped an arm around Klara’s shoulder and leaned down where her lips brushed Klara’s ear.
“You still coming out with us to the bar for a drink?” she asked. The feeling of Klara’s naked form against her piqued her interest. Aden instinctively pulled her close, her hand sliding down the curve of Klara’s back and resting on the curve of her ass.
“Rogue wolves couldn’t keep me away.” Klara’s grin widened. She tightened her hold on Aden, purposely brushing her hardened nipples against Aden’s exposed flesh. She tossed her head back, revealing the smooth column of her neck. The animal in Aden stood to attention. Her gums began to burn as her fangs pushed to descend again as she took in the exact spot the mark of mate would go.
There was definitely an attraction between the two of them.
So far, so good about their wolves. Aden’s wolf appeared to accept Klara’s. Had her wolf pushed Klara away, Aden may have had to cut ties and look for another worthy match. One thing she would do in this business of mating out of convenience was find a match her wolf would accept. It may not be her fated mate, but it had to be at least someone her wolf respected.
Friendship and partnership would be necessary as well.
Love? She was sure some form of affection would come later. That wasn’t at the top of her list. Solidifying her alliance with an alley pack was of the utmost importance.
“Time to celebrate then.”