I was the illegitimate daughter of Alpha Kris of Dark Moon. He raped a human slave 18 years ago and that was my mom. I became a disgrace and a shame to my family. They punished me and locked me up in the basement all day except to let me out to complete my daily routine as a slave. Yes. I looked like any common slave of the pack house. No one would expect me as the Alphas's daughter. As a hybrid, I hadn't been able to shift, but I could hear their thoughts. It's not a good thing though, for me, it's a nightmare. Most of what I've heard were my half-sisters' curses and insults. "CLAUDIA! Hurry up and get in here!" I knew Elly was going to scream my name long before her shrill voice echoed out of her room and into the hallway where I waited. This was the daily ritual, every afternoon. She would call for me, and while she sat at her vanity table, I brushed her long hair like a servant to her satisfaction. No one would guess she was my half-sister, nor Maria in the other bedroom...View More
"Evan! Ken! You're late!""Sorry, sorry. We got held up with the business party. But they folded and we're here, we got 'em." Ken winked and threw an arm around Evan's shoulders as they stood in the foyer. "Once the old Alpha man started getting annoyed, they realized they needed to stop trying to schmooze up to him and parted like the Red Sea. And we picked up the presents!"I sighed as their Delta subordinates came marching in behind them through the open front doors. So cold! Not only were we getting a white Christmas, we were getting blizzarded down. The snowstorm would be on us in full in the next twelve hours according to the forecast. Evan and Ken should have been here two hours ago so they could avoid the icy roads. Who was out there at this time! The warnings had been blaring all day!"Claudia." Evan kissed me on the forehead and held me close. Really! Damn it. He always did this when I was about to get worked up. "I missed you. Where are the boys?"
It would take a long, long time to find the rest of my mother's family. Alena's memories of her youth were coming back slowly, but she couldn't describe to sketch artists what her lost siblings and cousins looked like. We could only hire investigators to carry on the work and try to find our family through other means, like how we had discovered Alena through a medical system.I understood. I was frustrated, but what could I do? We could only be patient.Strong arms slid around me from behind, holding me tight. "I'm glad you're back now," Evan whispered as I unpacked the last of my luggage on the bed. "It felt like you were gone for ages. Don't leave me again.""It was only a week.""Still felt like centuries. Besides, you missed me too, didn't you? And the boys couldn't be peeled off you the moment you came in the door."I smiled and leaned back into his chest. Evan was so warm. Even with the room being ice-cold, he was like a warm furnace, heatin
"Hello, Mr. Jonah. I hope I caught you at a good time. Do you have a moment to speak, or should I come back later?"My voice was level and my face calm, but inside, I was trembling like a newborn fawn. On the steps of this quaint house in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by beautiful acreage filled with fountains, flowers, and birds, I had come face to face with the mysterious man who was Alena's good Samaritan.He was lanky, worn. Perfectly groomed black hair, a sophisticated face, and although he wore an unassuming tweed suit, it somehow made him look even more formal and elegant. He reminded me of some of the professors at Scarlet University, and I had to resist calling him sir like a schoolgirl.His voice, too, was quiet and controlled. "Yes, you are Claudia Scarlet. Come in. I've been preparing for your arrival."I entered the house, and he closed the door after me. Ken was outside in the car per this man's request -- he was willing to meet
The place was three stories high but stretched out over five interconnected buildings. This was no ordinary 'nursing home', the way the employees tried to make themselves appear. It was practically a luxury resort, though without the fancy trappings of expensive restaurants and such.There were exercise facilities and an indoor pool designed specifically for those with mobility impairments, a lovely cafeteria I wished we had time to explore, lounges, a library, and probably far more than that. Those were simply the areas we saw on the way out of the main building and toward the residential quarters."I'd really like to know who the anonymous donor is who's been paying for Alena's care," I said as we walked behind Delilah. "I understand they want to keep their identity concealed, but the situation is different now. Have you informed the donor of what's happened?"I was aching to pry into her mind and find the answer myself, but that wouldn't be right. Maybe if it
Lucas Hanson was every bit the grizzled private eye stereotype I expected. Salt and pepper beard, dark fedora, tan trench coat, an unlit cigar hanging out of his mouth, even the pose. He stood in the living room when we entered, hands in his pockets and looking mysterious as anything."Claudia Scarlet and Ken Joseph, I presume.""That would be us." Ken stuck his hand out for a shake, and the man examined it with a skeptical eye before accepting it. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you. I heard you've been on the case for over a year.""Not the entire time. I only do the work I'm paid for." Lucas raised a lit lighter to his cigar, but reconsidered after looking around and remembering he was indoors, evidently. He tucked the light back into his pocket. "But yeah. A month on the case before. And been a month and a half that I've worked on it again. Found some things. Trails die fast, though. Should have kept me on it instead of taking me off the first time."
Peelle and Osborn were tearing up the house long before they could even walk properly. Blessed with overpoweringly strong werewolf genes thanks to their father, they could slightly shift their fingertips to sharp clawed points, and they decorated the walls, floor, and furniture with their artistic masterpieces anytime we so much as blinked.This was unsustainable. At this rate, we might as well just put all repairs on hold until they were old enough to learn they shouldn't draw castles and dragons into expensive wood and leather. We had already stopped trying to patch up the dresser as it was. On either side of it, there were about twenty tangled pictures clawed into the wood, just like the two previous dressers that had been there before.I hoped they would turn their artist talents to paper or another, less expensive medium soon..."Oh, man. I can't believe they're already so big." Raf bounced her little daughter in her arms as she stared goggle-eyed at Peelle
"You have to catch my bouquet.""Raf, I'm already married.""It doesn't matter! It's the principle of the thing. I caught yours, now you have to catch mine!""But--""No buts!"Raf fixated on the strangest things. Normally, I would write this off as one of her playful moments or even her stubborn ones where she knew she wasn't quite right but dug her heels in anyway for sentiment's sake. But that wasn't the case now. Raf was about to explode ten minutes before her wedding rehearsal started, and she was channeling all her frantic energy into arguments that made no sense."Raf. Listen to me. This is just practice, okay? You'll be fine."She didn't even try to deny her anxiety. She flopped into the chair and splayed over it, the hem of her white cocktail dress fraying against the strain. "This is going to be a disaster! Why is there only one rehearsal! What if something goes wrong now or we have to change something! Then the actual weddi
Nine years before Claudia and Evan reunited on Dark Moon territory, they met once before in a dark forest not too far away. Freezing rain pelted the trees, and winds battered the branches so hard that with each gust, needles and twigs and stray leaves ripped off to fly about. In the dark of that winter night, a young boy staggered through the heart of the forest, bleeding and bruised everywhere from head to toe.Something was strange about this forest. Evan had never seen such thick fog before, especially when this was no ordinary rainfall. Was it even possible for a mist this thick to roll in with freezing rain?He groped forward blindly, unable to see anything past the thick curtain. Even if the way forward was concealed from his sight, he had to keep moving. He had run far and fast to get away from the older and stronger werewolves pursuing him, and although this mist made it impossible to know where he was going, it helped him avoid capture at the same time. Those