It is said that shifters—those who shift between human and animal form—existed long before non-shifters. When the world was a far more dangerous place, the ability to shift from one form to another as needed was natural selection at its finest. It allowed those who could do so to thrive in environments in which a human would have trouble surviving. Their enhanced genetic immunity, rapid healing ability, and long life added to their leap to the top of the evolutionary ladder.
Many cultures and belief systems claim to be the birthplace of the shifters. Most believe that for wolf shifters, the large island now known as Great Britain has the greatest claim. It is said that the Druids were the keepers of their secrets and abilities that were handed down generation to generation. There are those who believe that the Druids themselves are shifters—some say dragon, but there is more evidence that they were the original wolf shifters.
The greatest and strongest clans have always been in England, Wales, and Scotland. The coastal village of Calon Onest or True Heart had been occupied and controlled by the wolf clan of the same name for hundreds of years. Many of the British wolf clans had immigrated to America along with their human counterparts. One such clan was the powerful Calon Gwyllt or Wild Heart Clan located on the coast of Southern Virginia. Some clan names had become lost in the mists of time, but those that originated in Wales not only retained their names, but their Welsh spelling and pronunciation.
Wars between the clans had left many of the surviving clans decimated and subject to extinction either by those of their own kind or by human hunters who knew of their existence and feared them. Most of the larger clans banded together, forming regional Ruling Councils that could settle disputes by arbitration if possible and by monitored single combat of the alphas of the pack if not. By banding together, the Ruling Councils were able to wield the power of the combined packs. One such Ruling Council governed the packs located in America, Canada, and the territorial islands off of each.
Dylan Grainger, alpha of Calon Gwyllt, watched as the debate on the floor of the Ruling Council’s chambers raged on. Mason Daniels, a long-time friend, was speaking passionately about respecting the sanctity of existing packs. It wasn’t that he believed that females should have a segregated pack without the protection of men, but he did believe the Council intervening in any way was the first step down a slippery slope.
There had been whispers for several years of an all-female pack, but they’d managed to keep a low profile and go undetected. An attack by a foreign pack of male shifters had shattered any doubt about the truth of their existence. The all-female pack had fought off their attackers, killing several and sending the survivors home with their tails tucked between their legs. Some members of the Council felt that the all-female pack was now a unique and universal threat to the Council and the clans that it represented.
It was rare for a meeting of the Council to be called. Packs of shifters had lived quietly among non-shifters for centuries. There were the occasional groups of humans that became hunters and tried to eradicate the shifters, but for the most part they were quietly dealt with and the packs continued to survive.
But survive was a relative term. Fewer and fewer female shifters were being born to ensure the continuation of their kind. Some rogue packs actively sought out human females and turned them either with or without their consent. Most of those turned without their consent came to understand the great gift they had been given and settled in as loving and loyal mates and pack members. But a few here and there never accepted their new reality and broke free. It had been rumored that one by one some of them had found their way to the island sanctuary and had formed the all-female pack.
Skylar Owen was said to be the head of the pack known as Bae Diogel or Safe Harbor. She was a rare female alpha and had once been mated to the alpha of a powerful pack in Wales—the celebrated Calon Onest pack—located on the rugged coast of Wales. The pack had enough size and strength that they had founded and held the small Welsh coastal town for centuries.
Micah Owen had led his pack for more than two decades. He had been killed by a group of hunters who wanted to claim the town with its rich farmland and thriving fishery for themselves. It was said that the males of his pack had pursued Skylar as she hunted down and killed those who had murdered her mate. They had arrived too late to stop or assist her. They had been regulated to cleaning up the devastation they found. Skylar had never returned to her home and had flown out of the airport at Cardiff the next day. She had lived in obscurity until the rumors of the female pack had begun. The attack on their home and the women therein had left no doubt as to the veracity of those rumors.
The Council had been called to consider how to resolve the problem of an all-female pack. The confirmation of its existence by the attack of the outsiders had a ripple effect throughout the member packs of the US and Canada. It had caused some female pack members to question the traditional hierarchy of a male-dominated pack system. It had also caused some saber rattling here at home as well as from across the Atlantic. Many packs were in dire need of females—especially those who were not close in bloodline. That there was a group of unmated females posed a singular threat and some felt a rare opportunity.
The argument both Mason and Dylan had proffered had been that the pack should be brought into the Council as it was currently formed. Unfortunately, that was the opinion of a small minority. One of the loudest voices had been that of Dylan Grainger, the alpha from Calon Gwyllt on the most southern coast of Virginia. At 6′4″ Dylan tended to tower over most of the other wolves. Combined with a well-developed and muscular physique, his dark brown hair and pale blue eyes spoke of his Welsh and Scottish ancestry. His experience in Special Forces and level of intensity caused most alphas to avoid interacting with him. Many of the younger alphas liked Dylan and looked to him as a leader. They’d always found him to be reasonable and good company. There were also those, his friends Mason and Oliver Halsey of the Hamptons pack among them, who believed he needed to find an alpha female to take to mate.
The vast majority of those at the Council felt the Bae Diogel pack needed to be disbanded and its members absorbed by other packs that were in need of suitable females. Dylan believed that anyone who tried to force a female alpha to do anything could be risking his life—more so with one who had shown a propensity and aptitude for violence. Like their wild counterparts, werewolf shifters mated for life unless a mate was killed. Death severed the link and allowed the surviving member of the pair to be mated again. Dylan worried about the consequences of trying to force Skylar Owen into a pairing not of her choosing.
Dylan’s arguments at the Council had, for the most part, fallen on deaf ears. The Council had voted almost unanimously to request that the Bae Diogel pack disband voluntarily and its members be absorbed among member packs. If, however, the Bae Diogel pack refused to accept the ruling of the Council, then the members of the pack would have sanctions imposed, part of which would include being forced into various packs. The Council had chosen to remain moot on what would happen to the individual women once placed in a pack not of her choosing.
Skylar could feel him spooned against her. His hand moved up her torso to play with her breast. He took her nipple between his thumb and forefinger and rolled it lovingly.
“Good morning, Anwylyd. And how is my sweetheart this morning?” Micah said in his distinctive deep, heavily Welsh-accented voice.
Skylar purred, enjoying his attention. “She’d be a lot better if you’d roll her over and put that hard thing poking her ass in her pussy where it would do some good.”
Micah laughed and pulled her over on her back, sending his hand down to delve between her parted legs. He spent only a moment fingering her clit before probing her sheath with his fingers. Smiling at finding her wet, he kissed her deeply and then nibbled down her neck to her breast. He took her nipple in his mouth and sucked and nipped as he fingered her. When she began to produce even more moisture and bucked her hips in rhythm to his stroking, he chuckled as he removed his fingers and placed himself between her legs.
“Son of the wave,” he whispered as he brought his hands up to grasp both of hers above her head. He generally liked to remind her who the dominant partner was in their pairing. A fact that Skylar had a bad habit of choosing to either forget or acknowledge. Such choices most often resulted in his taking her across his knee for a spanking. The severity of the spanking was determined by the severity of her bad choices.
Skylar gasped as he surged forward.
She awoke from the dream as she usually did and cried out in anguish and frustration. She grabbed the other pillow and folded it within her grasp. She screamed into it. There was no reason to wake the other members of the household. She sat up and sobbed into the pillow. She wondered if she would ever truly move past the pain. She got up, slipped on her robe, and left her room to go into the communal kitchen.
“Jesus, Skylar, you look like shit,” said Roz Kincanon. Roz handed her the cup of Irish Breakfast tea she had just made for herself. “You need this more than I.”
Skylar said nothing but smiled and gratefully accepted the cup. She took a sip and savored the taste. “Thanks. Any news from your sister?”
Roz and her sister, Liza, had been not been born as shifters. Like others who had come and gone through Bae Diogel, they had been turned without their consent. They had been taken by a pack in serious need of females with the thought that they would be mated to members of the pack. The pack in question had made the mistake of hunting in another pack’s territory: that of the alpha of the Hamptons. The Hamptons pack had tried to stop the abduction and forced change, but had failed. In the aftermath of that failure, they had taken the girls back to their sanctuary and seen them through the change, offering them a place with them if they chose. Roz’s sister had been amenable to the idea. Roz had not; she had made her escape before a mate could be selected for her.
Not all of the members of the current Bae Diogel pack had been running from a forced mating. Some were born shifters and some had been turned willingly who chose not to live in the male-dominated packs. Still others, like Skylar, had once been happily mated but lost their mate and had no interest in either trying again or living with a lot of memories.
Roz and Liza had secretly maintained communication. Her sister’s mate had made it clear that any contact with Roz would result in Liza being disciplined. But their bond was strong and so they got each other messages when they could. Liza had reached out when word of the thwarted attack had spread. Roz had assured her that their community was safe and that they had only suffered minor injuries, had found the weakness in their security system and made changes to strengthen it.
The community resided on a small, isolated island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There was a large house that had once been the summer residence of a railroad baron. It had been abandoned for more than a century and in disrepair when Skylar had purchased it. Following the deaths of those who had taken Micah from her, Skylar needed something productive and positive to do. She had gone back to restoring homes and selling them until she’d come across this place. It was a grand old house with twelve bedrooms, twelve baths, and three powder rooms. She’d started on the ground floor restoring the solarium and adding a bath as her own private suite. Then she’d gutted and created a chef’s kitchen and began working on the other bedrooms. Once they were complete, she and the other two women who by that time had joined her went to work on restoring all of the common areas including the porch, the patio, and the gardens. In the end, they had brought the old girl back to her former glory.
Skylar knew that not all female wolf shifters found themselves as such because of birth or choice. She hoped she could create sanctuary for them either to find themselves and move on or to stay and create a new kind of pack. A pack made only of women and where no woman answered to any man. Skylar was an alpha and owned the island and house, but she thought of herself as a benign alpha. She didn’t want to make decisions for anyone but herself. The only real rule was no men—not even overnight. Any member was free to pursue sexual relationships; they just couldn’t bring a man to the sanctuary. Anyone violating the rule was asked to leave. So far, that had only happened once.
Roz frowned. “Unfortunately, you were right. There were a few members of the Council who spoke about inviting us in as equals, but they were voted down. Liza said they voted to break us up—either with or without our consent.”
“I had a bad feeling that might be their decision. We need to call everyone together. Anyone who wants to leave or doesn’t want to fight needs to gather her things and leave. But this is my home and no one will force me to share it with another pack or anyone who is not here by my invitation.”
Roz reached out and squeezed her arm. “I don’t know that anyone will leave. This is our home too and as with those marauders, we will fight to keep it and our family here safe.”
“Why don’t you start getting everyone awake and down in the dining room. I’ll start putting together a big brunch. We can eat, make decisions, and assign jobs. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Roz headed out of the kitchen but turned to look at her friend. “They know what happened, Sky… they’ll be prepared.”
She smiled at Roz. “So will we.”
Dylan Grainger had returned from the Council in a foul mood. He’d gone out sailing to try to clear his head and figure out what he wanted to do. As Dylan’s estate was in the closest geographical proximity to the Bae Diogel pack, he had been tasked with doing some initial surveillance. The Council did not want the women harmed. Dylan wished he believed they were being altruistic but knew better. They didn’t want the small pack of females harmed as they were too valuable to the future of their species.
He felt the wind take hold of the sails and guided the boat down the coast, weaving in and out of the barrier islands that made up the Outer Banks before heading home. He had called a meeting of the members of his pack for this afternoon.
The Council had concluded that although the women of Bae Diogel might not leave their sanctuary voluntarily, they would find themselves as the valued members of their new packs. And that they would be grateful they had been saved. He had laughed and shook his head. Obviously, they didn’t know much about the leader of Bae Diogel. Skylar Owen was a legend among British shifters. She had lived on her own for years and liked it that way.
Micah Owen had been the most eligible of the unmated alpha males in Great Britain and Europe. He had ruled his pack as alpha for more than fifteen years when he’d come across Skylar. The attraction had been immediate and profound, but Skylar chose to ignore and deny it. When Micah had tried to court her, she’d rejected him outright. He’d brought her under his protection and into his pack much to her dismay. He had given her the choice of his marking her as his own or the chance to run. She’d chosen to run and had led him on a merry chase. When they had returned three days later, it was obvious not only by the healing mark on her neck but in the way she behaved with Micah that the strong Welsh wolf had found and claimed his true life mate.
Dylan feared that Skylar Owen would not go easily or quietly. Any alpha trying to mark her and claim her had best be prepared for a fight he might not be able to win.
One of the females in his pack had come from the sanctuary. She would never betray the women of her former pack and Dylan would never ask. The only thing she’d ever let slip was that Skylar still grieved the loss of her mate at every full moon by building a bonfire on the beach and mournfully howling.
Dylan approached the dock and saw his beta, Nick Russo, waiting… not a good sign.
“What’s up, Nick?”
“They’ve started gathering. I don’t think your announcement about the decision of the Council is going to come as a big surprise.”
“How are the girls taking it? Not well?”
“So far mostly low-level grumbling, but I had to discipline Bianca this morning because of it. She’s all ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ and that we ought to be lining up behind them to defend their position.”
“This is part of what the other packs feared—a kind of female uprising.” He tossed one of the tie lines to Nick. He hopped off with the other, shaking his head. “I don’t necessarily disagree that the women of Bae Diogel should be left alone, but then I think about what happened. Even though they repelled that attack, there will be more. I think their best choice is to voluntarily disband and join other packs, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
They tied the boat off and headed up to the main house. Like many packs, Dylan’s main house was set up with three master suites for the three ranking members of the pack and then several smaller guest suites. The property also had two other houses for mated pack members and a dormitory of sorts for single pack members.
The main residence housed the largest kitchen, a communal dining room, and a large living area that doubled as a meeting spot for the entire pack. Dylan entered the house and was struck by how quiet it was. Normally his pack was a gregarious one and meetings often took longer than needed as there were lots of various conversations and points of view to be heard.
He greeted the members of his pack warmly. “All right, everybody, let’s get started. Get whatever it is you want to eat or drink, I think we’ve probably got a lot to talk about.” As he headed to the kitchen, Matthew, the omega of his pack who always looked like he had stepped of the set of a surfer movie, intercepted him with a Guinness. “I’m that predictable, huh?” he asked, laughing and knowing the answer.
“A little bit, and I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
Dylan smiled at him. He thought that was probably the biggest understatement he’d heard in a while. He went to the head of the room and the room settled down. “As I’m sure most of you have heard or figured would happen, the Council voted almost unanimously to see the Bae Diogel pack disbanded.” He held up his hands as the female members started to protest. “I know how you feel. And I have similar feelings both from your viewpoint and from my own. I think the bigger issue is that if the Council can choose to disband one pack, what’s to stop them from disbanding others. I know that the idea of females being forced into packs not of their choosing and into pairings that might not have been their choice is not the most appealing idea.”
“Dylan, why can’t we side with them and fight all those bastards off,” interrupted Bianca without thinking, but then looked at her mate. “I’m sorry, Dylan. I should have waited for you to finish.”
Dylan reached out and stroked her head to assure Nick knew he’d taken no offense. “I understand your distress; I understand how all of you must feel. I do believe women are better off in a pack and mated,” he said with a pointed look to those female members of his own pack who had still not made their choice of a mate. “But I look around and see the upset and stress within our own ranks, and nothing’s been done to the women at Bae Diogel yet. They have the ability to disrupt an entire society that has functioned for centuries if not millennia. And now that it’s confirmed that there is a group of unmated females living alone, you can bet that raid from that European trash pack won’t be the last. I think those women have a choice of either having some input into with whom they are mated or falling to a larger, stronger pack of wolves and having no say whatsoever.”
“How are they to be separated?”
Dylan smiled. “That was an interesting piece of business. I think some of the Council’s leaders are getting soft and perhaps ought to step down. They don’t want more than one woman absorbed by any pack. And packs wanting to take one of the women into their ranks have to be part of the group that goes and gets them if they choose not to disband voluntarily. And from what I know of their leader, that won’t happen.”
One of the unmated males spoke up. “Will we be participating in breaking them up? Even if all the girls here got off their high horse and picked a mate, we still have more males than females.”
Dylan laughed. “That is the way of the world. With shifters there are always more males than females. And I’ve thought about that, but I also don’t want to bring a disruptive force into our lives. Some of you have never been a part of any pack but this one; you haven’t experienced the bullshit that goes on in many other packs.”
“That’s because we have a strong alpha who happens to believe in fairness,” said Nick.
Dylan smiled at him. “I try to always make decisions for the pack based on what is best for the pack as a whole. But before I opted us in, I thought I’d get your thoughts on it and put it to a vote. But before you cast your vote, I want you to think about the fact that we won’t be able to stop this from happening. All we can do is try to ensure no female is forced into a pairing she doesn’t want or is harmed. And for one of those women, she’ll get to join our ranks, and I don’t think that’s the worst thing that can happen to anyone.”
He let his words settle among his people before continuing.
“One other thing. I want you to vote your conscience without fear of punishment. I mean it, boys, I don’t care if your mate votes the way you want her to or not, I want to know what she thinks. Any woman who gets disciplined for her vote is to come see me and I will deal with your mate accordingly. Yes?”
They all nodded.
“All right then, show of hands—raise your hand if you believe we should opt in for one of the Bae Diogel girls.”
Dylan was surprised. Not one person was against it. “Bianca? Susannah?”
Bianca had been vocally opposed to the disbanding and Susannah had once been a member of the all-female pack. She had fallen in love with one of his pack members and had joined her mate as a member of his pack.
“No, Alpha. I got in trouble with Nick this morning, but unfortunately, I think you’re right. This is the best choice to be made out of a bunch of bad choices.”
Dylan looked toward Susannah.
“I’m with Bianca. I don’t like it, but I think if you can be a part of ensuring they aren’t raped and marked against their will, that’s the best I can do for my friends who remained.”
“Then as we’re of a singular mind, I’m going to let everybody get back to their life except for those single males who would like to be considered for whatever woman we bring into the pack. The word is those women were deadly serious about maintaining their freedom when that Euro pack came at them. There will most likely be bloodshed.”
Susannah spoke up. “Alpha, can I speak to you alone?”
Dylan looked to her mate, Matthew, who smiled.
She continued, “He knows what I want to say and is okay with it, right, babe?”
“Right as rain… on several different levels.”
That intrigued Dylan until the answer occurred to him. Dylan smiled and shook his head. Matthew was his omega and had made it known on more than one occasion that he believed their alpha needed to find a mate and settle down. “Then if the rest of you will give me a few minutes with Susannah, I’ll take her into my study.” He led her into the study.
“I know you think you know what I’m going to say…” she started.
“Don’t I? You and Matthew are of the same mind about my current unmated state.”
“Yes, but I don’t think you should necessarily claim a mate. I do think you need to take Skylar into our pack.”
“What the hell would I want with a pissed-off alpha female who still mourns her mate and has proven to be deadly on more than one occasion?”
“Who else, Dylan? Any of the other alphas will try to force her into a pairing. She won’t be forced. She’ll kill anyone who tries. She loved Micah with all her heart. Couldn’t she just live here as one of us and stay unmated?”
“I’d be worried she’d be a disruptive force.”
“She wasn’t in Wales and she certainly wasn’t for those of us who sought sanctuary with her. She reminds me of you. Alpha, yes, and so much so that no one really questions that, but you’re both more about the responsibilities that go with that designation than the rewards. And an alpha female? You know how rare they are. Highly sought after. If it’s anyone else, either she’ll end up dead or she’ll have to kill someone else. I know I’m asking a lot, but I owe her. Please say you’ll at least think about it.”
Dylan said nothing but then realized his omega’s mate was becoming distressed by his silence. He smiled and crossed over to her to stroke her hair, starting at the top of her head and running his hand down it, tucking it behind her ear on one side. “It’s all right, Susannah, I’m not upset and I will think about what you’ve said. Do you think she could be happy here with us?”
“I don’t know, but I know she stands a better chance here than with any other pack. And I didn’t need Matthew to spank me to come to that conclusion,” she giggled, alluding to Bianca’s punishment earlier in the day.
Dylan shook his finger at her. “That’s not nice, Susannah. You behave, or I’ll tell Matthew he needs to have a little chat with you.”
She giggled more. “No, you won’t. I didn’t do anything but tell the truth.”
He laughed. “That’s enough out of you. How am I ever going to convince any potential mate I’m the big bad alpha when none of the females in my pack fear me?”
Susannah sobered. “We don’t have to be afraid, Alpha,” she said, using the formal title. “We have an alpha to whom we willingly give our respect and obedience because we know he’d lay down his life to keep us safe and happy.” She rubbed her head against his hand. “Thank you, Dylan. I will honor any choice you make.”
Dylan smiled at her. His omega had made a good choice. He walked out of the study and back into the meeting area. There were only five unmated males in his pack. There were three unmated females. Dylan was fairly sure that within short order, there would only be two unmated males and no unmated females. They were going to have to start thinking about turning the dormitory into another house for mated pairs.
“Well, boys, I know I said we needed to talk and we do, but I’d like to take the evening to do some thinking, and I’d like you to do the same. I won’t ask anyone to go who doesn’t want to go. It won’t be easy. Those women aren’t stupid. They know that we’re coming and that they’ll have a fight on their hands. They’ve proven themselves to be capable fighters and won’t shy away from killing. Before forming her pack here in America, Skylar hunted down the men who killed her mate and made short work of them. That pack of euro-trash wolves that came raiding? Not all of them went home and none of them went home in one piece.” He held up his hand to ward off discussion. Dylan knew he needed to make a decision about Skylar. He had some concerns about the disruptive influence he knew she could be, but he also felt Susannah had made a valid point.
Dylan walked out of the house and headed down to the shoreline. He looked up and saw the full moon. He wondered if Skylar would be building her bonfire to mourn her dead mate… most likely for the last time. Dylan had seen pictures of the alpha of the all-female pack. She was spectacular. A rare woman—a tall redhead with an independent and fierce spirit. Her long hair was a mass of waves and half-formed curls. She had catlike green eyes, framed by long lashes set in a strong, but very feminine face. He smiled as he remembered looking at her picture and thinking that she’d never be mistaken for anything but female. She possessed a true hourglass figure set atop a pair of long and shapely legs.
He could feel the beginning of the telltale knot of an alpha male. That made no sense. The knot would begin to form in response only to three scenarios: the aftermath of a dangerous conflict; the abstinence from sex for a prolonged period; or when an alpha was mated or was in the presence of a woman who was a viable candidate for a fated life mate. In the latter, only when that mate or potential mate was primed and ready to be taken. Like their wolf counterparts, alpha males would, unless they strove to suppress it, form a hard knot an inch or two above the base of their penis. A strong-willed alpha shifter could suppress the level of testosterone and desire that was needed to sustain the knot through mating. This would not, however, adversely affect his erection and thus a male could still please himself and his mate without the knot.
It was painful for an alpha to allow a knot to form and fail to knot and tie his mate to him. Once he’d knotted his mate, the alpha would be tied to her until the knot dissipated. For the female, it was painful to have her mate force the knot into her sheath regardless of how aroused she was. Often when first knotted, an alpha’s mate would fight and try to dislodge him. It was the alpha’s responsibility to ensure that she not be allowed to injure herself before her body relaxed and accepted the knot. After she’d settled, her mate would feel her cunt tighten around him, steadily drawing him forward and driving his knot into the floor of her pussy until the knot was seated within her core. The knot would then swell to seal her to him. Trying to disengage at that point was exceedingly painful and could be dangerous.
There was little room between the knot and the base of the penis, so a man couldn’t stroke his mate in the usual way. He could, however, use a kind of rocking motion to get his cock more deeply embedded, causing her to have multiple orgasms before he released torrents of his seed into her womb. As he filled her with his cum, her pussy would rhythmically pulse of its own accord to wring every last bit of his essence from him and bring it deeper within her body.
Once the semen had been completely discharged, the couple would be bound together, or tied, for anywhere from one to three hours. Those who experienced this level of intimacy described it as the most intense and sensuous act of lovemaking.
Alpha males wanting to ensure a pregnancy resulted from the breeding of their mate often knotted and tied them daily during her peak ovulation. It was said that a female bred in such a manner would almost always end up with child.
The knots only formed in alpha males. It was thought to be a holdover from both their DNA as wolves and from when they had been warrior knights tasked to protect the pack. Their strength and virility were vital to a pack’s survival.
But Dylan had no mate. As he meditated and sought to suppress his unruly cock, it occurred to him that the knot had only started to form when he had begun to think about Skylar Owen.
Skylar put the last piece of wood on the bonfire and lit it. She stood back and watched as it methodically caught fire. She hugged herself and wished again that it was Micah whose arms she felt around her. She couldn’t help but wonder why her dreams of late had been so broken. Since his death, Skylar had become accustomed to feeling him make love to her either in the morning or somewhere during the night as he had when they were married. She missed so many things about Micah… not the least of which was the sex.
But lately her normally very satisfying dreams had been interrupted. She hadn’t dreamt of Micah knotting her in months. The dreams she had were now more sporadic and of the less intense sex they had shared when a knot wasn’t formed. It wasn’t that she didn’t orgasm in her dreams but previously only after she could feel him either deeply stroking her without the knot or rocking her when she dreamt of being knotted once again. Lately her dreams ended in frustration. Each time just as she felt the head of his cock pass the opening of her pussy, she would hear him whisper ‘son of the wave’ and then the dream would cease. She knew he was trying to tell her something, but she had no clue as to what it might be.
When she’d mentioned it to Roz, her friend had suggested that she Google the phrase. She had done so and all she’d found was a reference to a Welsh God of the Sea. She shook her head and watched the fire burn as the full moon reached its zenith. Normally she was compelled to let loose a mournful howl, but tonight all she wanted was silence. She sat alone and watched the bonfire burn.
Dylan had been restless and decided to take one of the power boats down the coast to see if he could locate the Bae Diogel sanctuary and do a little general surveillance. The wind had died down and he was glad he had opted for power over sail. He was weaving throughout the small chain of islands and spits of land not big enough to be classified as an island. So far, he had seen nothing that made him think he’d found it.
Then as darkness started to fall, he saw a light. Not one of the many lighthouses that kept this stretch of water known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic safe, but a more organic light source. Perhaps Skylar’s bonfire for her mate. He made his way toward the light. As he got closer, he cut the engine, turned off all the running lights, and drifted.
Dylan found the pair of night vision goggles he’d brought on board. He located the bonfire and the woman who sat on the beach staring into it. She appeared to be quietly contemplating both the night and the fire itself but he could hear no sound. Because of the way she was sitting and the dim light, Dylan could only make out that she had wavy red hair that fell past her shoulders and long legs that appeared to be strong and shapely. He was certain it was Skylar. He idly wondered what she looked like in wolf form.
He could feel both the power and the grief radiating off of her. But more than that, he could feel himself being drawn to her. A pull he had been waiting for his entire life. This must be a mistake or fate’s idea of a cruel joke, for him to be feeling the call of a life mate coming from her. He stilled the disquiet he so often felt and examined the feeling. There was no doubt in his mind. Skylar Owen was his life mate. He shook his head. “Fate, you fickle bitch,” he said quietly.
He watched as she turned her head toward his position. She sniffed the light breeze and stared into the darkness. Finding nothing troubling, she turned back to her fire.
Dylan watched her for more than an hour before she finally got to her feet, brushed the sand off, and slowly made her way back to the large house that sat on the other side of the windswept dunes. He wondered if in that brief moment something inside of her had been aware of his presence. And if so, had she recognized it as the draw of her new mate?
He made a slow, wide loop around the island, noting that there seemed to be a lack of any security system. They did have two boats—a small sailboat that could accommodate six people at most and a Zodiac. Not the best choices for the entire group of women to make a clean getaway if needed. He knew that they must have their security measures hidden. Getting good information before the assault was made would be crucial to its success. Dylan knew the Ruling Council would be delivering their ultimatum to the Bae Diogel pack within days. That it would be an assault on the sanctuary was a given as far as he was concerned. He had no doubt that the women contained therein would not go quietly.
Skylar made her way back up to the house and entered through the kitchen doors. Roz was sitting on the island with a Guinness in her hand and one on the counter next to her. She tossed it to Skylar, who opened it and took a long draw.
“I didn’t expect to see you back up here this quickly.”
“It’s cold tonight,” said Skylar matter-of-factly.
Roz hopped off the island and faced her alpha and friend. “I’ve seen you sit out there until long after the bonfire has burned itself out in the driving rain or even snow. Weather has never been a factor in how long you sat out there. And unless you have developed some weird kind of internal howl, I didn’t hear you call for him.”
Skylar smiled sadly. “You are entirely too observant, my friend. For some reason I just didn’t feel the need tonight. I don’t know that I’ll ever stop missing him.”
“Perhaps not, but he wouldn’t want you to have grieved this long.”
Skylar laughed. “Oh, I don’t know. That Welshman had a huge ego. It might have pleased him to know he was missed, but you’re right, he wouldn’t want me to just exist, he’d want me to go on living.”
“He loved you.”
“Yes, he did. But he’s felt distant of late.”
“Distant? Sky, he’s dead,” said Roz gently.
“But the connection was still strong. Recently it feels like the connection is weakening so I still have the pain to endure, but not the connection to offset it. And then tonight…”
“What about tonight?” Roz asked quietly.
“Tonight, there was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I was sitting at the bonfire wondering why I felt no need to howl, and I felt this… I don’t know… a pull from offshore. I looked and scented the air, but nothing. And then it was gone. Weird.”
“Things are changing. You know that, right? In a day or two we’ll get a formal request from the Ruling Council…”
“Of which we are not a member…” Skylar said with a resigned smile.
“But who thinks they have a right to tell us what to do. They’re going to give us the option of voluntarily joining other packs or having that forced upon us.”
“They aren’t going to like our answer.”
“We’ll fight them,” said Roz. “The odds aren’t in our favor, but they don’t want to do irreparable harm to us so that helps.”
“Does it? I don’t see how. I’ve thought a lot about this in the past twenty-four hours. I think we need to disband voluntarily, abandon the sanctuary and find a new home, either as a group or as individuals.” Skylar looked at her friend and second-in-command. Roz looked as though Skylar had just knocked the wind out of her. “There’s no way we can win. We got lucky with those marauders. The Council knows we exist and knows we will fight. They will come prepared. And they won’t be in a reasonable mood when they do. Some of the packs will allow us time to get acclimated. But most likely we’ll be separated completely—not more than one of us integrated into any one pack. And some of the packs aren’t going to be all that interested in whether or not we want to be paired or to whom we want to be paired.”
“You think we’ll be forced into pairings?”
Skylar nodded. “I do.”
“You’re an alpha. They can’t do that to you.”
“They can’t force me to mate with a lesser male, but they can try to force it with another alpha and there are several unmated alpha males.”
“Are you planning to leave?”
“I don’t see that we have any alternatives that are better. I don’t want to put us in a kill or be captured situation. I can justify what happened because we didn’t know they were coming and they gave us no choice. But now, we know.”
“When are you going to tell the others?”
“No time like the present. Let’s gather everyone in the front room.”