Authors: Leia Shaw
Tags: #Romance, #Vampires, #Contemporary
Destined for Harmony
This story was originally published under the title “For the Love of Harmony”. This is an extended, re-edited edition.
Copyright 2011, 2013
All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form except for the inclusion of brief quotations in review without written permission from the author.
Northwest werewolf pack council meeting had already begun by the time Sorin arrived at the forest ranger station. Half a dozen of the pack’s greatest warriors surrounded the large wooden table. He did a double take. Three women stood in one corner of the room, their eyes lit up with fiery determination.
to Sorin’s side. “A vampire coven has moved to just outside pack territory,” he whispered. “There’s evidence they might be feeding on the wolves. Jackson wants a pre-emptive attack but –”
“It isn’t fair to treat us this w
ay!” a woman’s voice cried out.
Jared winced. “The women want to help.”
Sorin eyed the women. So that explained the angry looks. He smiled to himself and sat down in the back to enjoy the show. The council wouldn’t allow it, that much he knew. Even for their pack – which was ruled by the progressive alpha, Cristian – it was an outrageous request. If their aggressive posturing was any indication, the women wouldn’t go down easily. He hooked one leg over the other and leaned back.
“Maybe they’re right,” Paul, one of the elders, said. “Sheltering pack women is a thing of the past. It’s time we moved on. Let them make the decision for themselves.”
werewolves are rare,” Mathias replied. “And they aren’t built like men. They can’t change to crinos, our strongest half-wolf form. It’s our duty to keep them safe from harm.”
nodded in agreement. He’d always liked Mathias.
“That’s ridiculous,” a fiery
redhead said. “It’s the twenty-first century. Women have rights outside of the supernatural world. We should have rights within the pack too.”
“It’s not that we want to repress you, Darla,” Mathias continued. “The pack, above all, treasures your existence. We
only want what’s best for all of us.”
“At our expense?”
A small figure stepped out from behind the redhead. “He’s right, Darla. It’s best for the pack for us to remain safe.”
shot upright in his seat. The speaker wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room – not like Darla with her fiery hair or the other raven-haired beauty. She was short and curvy, and her shoulder-length blonde hair hung plainly on the sides of her heart-shaped face. But a charming set of freckles spattered her cheeks and the hazel of her eyes popped next to her creamy skin. There was something about her that drew him in.
Must be because
she was the only sensible person in the room, other than himself.
sparkled with intelligence. And the way her ranger uniform hugged her sexy little body brought more than just his heart to life.
The redhead gave the woman a
murderous glare then whispered, “Harmony!”
He smiled in spite of himself. Yes, she looked like a Harmony. Sweet, docile, a peacemaker.
her friend off with wave of her hand. “The council is right. If we go chasing vampires unprepared we’ll only get hurt. Or worse. And it’s vital to our pack to have female members.”
grinned and moved to the edge of his seat.
She took a deep breath then exhaled.
“That’s why I propose the women train in combat like the men.”
“If we can
prove ourselves equals in combat, there’s no reason you should deny our involvement. Not only will the double standard set a bad example to the rest of the pack, but once the other women catch wind of your biases, you’ll have a mutiny on your hands.”
ed his eyes at the little minx. He’d show her where a mutiny got her.
“We only ask for fairness,” she continued.
“After all, it’s Cristian’s pack –”
s not here to make the decision,” someone countered.
“But his model of l
eadership stands. Every objection deserves a fair trial.”
The other two wom
en smirked as they looked each council member in the eye. A growl started low in Sorin’s chest as the other men contemplated her challenge. How had he ever thought her sensible, even for a moment?
stood so quickly he knocked the chair down behind him. He kicked it aside. From the other side of the room, Harmony’s gaze flicked to his. He pierced her with his most intimidating glare then crossed his arms over his chest. She met his glare with a passable attempt at bravado. But because of her size, it only made him want to laugh.
But there was nothing funny about the way she raised her chin and held eye contact
far longer than she should have. They would have words when the meeting was over.
was beta of the Northwest werewolf pack. Cristian, their alpha, was gone on business. And Harmony, the devious little troublemaker, would learn exactly who was in charge of this camp.
didn’t bother to join the council’s discussion regarding the women’s request. It didn’t matter what they chose, his authority overrode theirs. The council, and the women, should’ve known better than to question pack rules while he was in charge. Sorin was known for his old-fashioned views. Cristian had called him an ornery old man, though no werewolf looked a day over thirty-five. But he and Cristian were in their fourth century, born of a different era. Cristian had adjusted throughout the years, but Sorin stuck to his stubborn ways.
fter all, his way was the right way.
The women could think they’d
won for now. Besides, he had a feeling he’d need to take down the ringleader before they backed down completely.
soon as the meeting ended, he caught up with Harmony outside the ranger station.
his face into a scowl as he followed closely behind her toward the center of camp. A bonfire roared, casting shadows on the ring of wooden cabins surrounding it.
ed around the fire, her head down, hugging her arms. Bare arms. Nighttime just outside Yellowstone National Park in October was close to freezing. And she went out wearing only a button-down cotton shirt?
od, woman!” He grabbed her elbow and spun her around.
She gasped and he pulled his hand back.
He hadn’t meant to be so rough.
“Where’s your coat?”
She looked at her arms then back to his face. “It ripped.”
She bit her lip and didn’t say anything for a moment. He narrowed his eyes, ready to sniff out a lie.
“Ranger work,” she finally answered, then perched a hand on her hip.
“Was there something you wanted?”
anger work? What have you been doing? Wrestling bears?”
bears,” he thought he heard her mumble. “Look, it’s getting late. Did you stop me just to interrogate me about my jacket?”
He squared his shoulders and gave her his sternest glare. “No. I came to tell you
to convince the other women it’s not in their best interest to fight vampires.”
Her brows drew together.
“Why would I do that? I just convinced the council to give us a chance.”
“Because I’m telling you to.”
She looked at the ground as if it had an answer. He had the sudden urge to kiss the cute wrinkle between her furrowed brows.
He cleared his throat.
“Do you know who I am?”
“So you know I’m in charge while Cristian is away?”
Though she nodded
again, there was nothing submissive about the fire in her eyes. She seemed to be working out her next argument. He found himself curious what she’d say next.
He mentally kicked himself
. Insubordination was something he didn’t tolerate. Why should he allow this wisp of a thing to give him lip? “I’m glad we’re clear.” With a nod, he turned to walk away.
With a sigh, he turned back around.
council agreed to let us train. I know Cristian believes in some amount of democracy.”
He gave her a patronizing smile
then clasped his hands behind his back. “And who would train you? Do you really think there’s a single male werewolf that would chance harming a female?”
“I’ll train them.”
“You?” She was so small. The idea of her anywhere near the combat ring sent waves of anxiety through his chest.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she had the gall to order. “Size has nothing to do with skill.”
“Care to prove it?” He would teach her a lesson. Then she wouldn’t go around putting ridiculous ideas in other women’s heads.
Her eyes widened
then she brushed it off with a casual shrug. “Anytime, anyplace.”
In the training ring.”
He grinned. “Unless you’re bluffing.”
pursed her lips. “Now is fine.”
n turned and walked to the other side of camp where a flat dirt clearing served as a primitive training ring. She trailed behind him, not quite able to keep up with his longer strides. Since most of the pack was either working or doing various chores, they had the area to themselves. He plugged the stadium-style lights into the recreation room socket and lit up the circle.
“I’ll make it easy,” he told her. “If I pin you, I wi
n. If you get even one strike in, you win.”
“And what happens if I win?”
“I’ll let you train the women.”
“And if you win?”
With a smirk, he answered, “If I win, you go back to the kitchen and laundry room like a good little girl.” He swallowed back a laugh at her thinned lips and raging eyes.
going to enjoy this.”
She stepped into the ring and crouched into a defensive position. Sorin threw off his coat and followed her.
Wasting no time, she attacked
with a series of kicks and strikes. He managed to dodge each but not without effort. So the wanna-be-slayer had some experience? At the next strike, he caught her fist and tugged her into his body.
“You’re not very h
armonious, Harmony.” She pulled back on her arm but he held her tight. “Your parents should’ve named you Trouble.”
yours should’ve named you Pain-in-the-ass.” With her other hand she yanked back on his thumb and twisted away. She circled him once, staying on the balls of her feet, before launching into a cartwheel and landing in a crouch in front of him. Her foot kicked out for a decent attempt at a foot sweep, but he was faster and jumped back.
“You have some skill, I’ll
give you that,” he said, dodging a roundhouse kick. “But you’re sloppy. You lack experience.”
She paused and pushed a wisp of
hair from her face. “Then teach me.”
Now wasn’t that an interesting thoug
ht? He pictured her sweaty, her cheeks pink, her chest heaving as he –
e shook his head. “Not a woman.”
Nostrils flaring, voice tight with anger, she said,
“So what would you have me do? Sit around and wait for a big, strong man to save me? Or maybe, the next time I’m in trouble, Superman will fly in at just right moment to kill the bad guy and save the day.”
So the little hellion had a smart mouth too?
“I’m not Lois Lane. I refuse to be a damsel in distress.”
He didn’t wait for her attack this time. Catching her off guard
, he feinted left then snatched her arm from the right. He spun her so her back was against his chest, and captured both wrists behind her. With his lips at her ear, he whispered, “What you should do is stay within the safety of the pack.”
She snorted but stayed still in his arms. “Safety is an illusion. Grow up.”
He spun her to face him but kept her wrists captive in a tight grip. “Don’t tell me to grow up, little girl. I’ll bet I’m more than twice your age.”
She smiled sweetly.
“Yet only half as smart.”
Her foot s
hifted behind his and she threw her body into him, toppling them both off balance. They fell, Sorin cushioning her fall. But the advantage didn’t last long. He flipped her over and straddled her hips, shackling her arms above her head in one of his fists.