Read Into the Unknown (Werewolf Wars, #2) Online
Authors: Bethany Shaw
Into the Unknown
Werewolf Wars, Volume 2
by Bethany Shaw
Published by Bethany Shaw, 2014.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
INTO THE UNKNOWN
First edition. January 8, 2014.
Copyright © 2014 Bethany Shaw.
Written by Bethany Shaw.
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Coming June 2014 | Finding Our Way
ene Harris breathed in the sticky summer air as he ran a hand through his mussed, sweaty russet colored hair. Crickets chirped in the background, and the gravel crunched beneath his feet as he made his way up to the main house. He had just checked in with the night watch for the evening, and was ready to go to bed. It seemed like the days were jam-packed, while the nights were too short. It was overwhelming. His late father made it all look so easy, but Gene was beginning to wonder if he had the makings of an alpha. Not that he could ever let his doubt show. With a war brewing, he could not afford to appear weak.
The bright white lights of the ranch shone in his eyes as he rounded the corner of the barn. His eyes grew heavier with each step, exhausted, he was glad to be home. He froze. Soft calculated footsteps padded towards him. Narrowing his eyes, he looked around. There was no one in sight. The footsteps faltered and stilled. Gene clenched his fists, fearing that someone had snuck onto the property. Inhaling a deep breath, he tried to place their scent. There was an unusually strong aroma of pine and dirt. The disgruntled alpha suppressed the growl that was bubbling up in his throat. Whoever it was, they’d taken the pains to deliberately mask their scent. Rocks skidded behind him as the intruder tried to backtrack. Turning on his heel, he sprung toward the side of the out-building-gripping the intruder’s arm tightly-and shoved them against the wood siding of the barn.
He growled, his eyes widening and dilating as they took on a golden hue. Anger surging through him, he took in the person who had been sneaking around.
Fierce chestnut eyes met his as the slender form struggled against his grip. Her long coffee colored hair fell into her eyes as she fought to free herself. Recognizing the terrified woman, Gene released his grip and took a small step back. The alpha closed his eyes, shifting them back to their normal chocolate color, in hopes that this would make him seem less threatening.
“I didn’t realize you were out,” Gene said, appraising Natalia. “Why are you sneaking around out here?”
Her fist flew out of nowhere striking him across the jaw. Gene blinked as pain exploded in his mouth. His hand flying to his cheek as he tried to work the pain away by opening and closing his mouth. “I’m sorry,” he apologized, realizing the irony of his words as he said them. Still, it hadn’t been his intent to alarm her.
“Do not touch me,” she hissed venomously, shrinking back against the red planks. Chestnut eyes became slits as she clenched her fists—probably so she could strike out again, if needed. Fear rolled off of her in waves, surrounding him with the putrid stench of soured milk.
“I didn’t realize anyone else was out here. Is everything okay?” Gene questioned, taking another step back. He raised his hands in the air, keeping them where she could see them. To his knowledge, Natalia rarely ventured out of her bedroom. He didn’t want to be the reason that trend continued.
“I am fine,” Natalia snapped. She edged her way along the building, her eyes watching him the whole way.
“Let me escort you back in,” Gene offered, maneuvering himself so he was in front of her.
“I do not need your help,” Natalia snarled as she recoiled away from him.
“It’s late, you shouldn’t be out here alone,” Gene commented, looking up at the star covered sky. He could not help but wonder where she had been, and why she’d needed to sneak around. “We’re on high alert. You could have been hurt, wandering around out here like that.”
Although Natalia had been living under his roof for over a month now, Gene could count the number of times he’d seen her on one hand. Perhaps it was time he learn more about the elusive she-wolf. “You know you can come and go as you please. There is no need to sneak around out here. You should tell someone where you’re going so this doesn’t happen again. You should also consider getting an escort. And you absolutely should
be masking your scent. I thought you were an intruder. A war is on the horizon.”
“I just want to be left alone so I can change in peace,” she fumed.
“And I’m just trying to protect everyone in my pack,” Gene stated.
Instead of responding, Natalia shot him a lethal glare. Her lip curled in anger, and her brown eyes turned yellow. He could not be sure if she was angry, or if she still felt threatened. With a low growl, she pushed past him and darted the rest of the way to the main house. Yanking the door nearly off its hinges, she dashed inside, thudding up the wooden steps to her bedroom.
Gene shook his head and sighed. The beautiful brown-haired woman was a mystery to him. He knew that Natalia often spoke to Lark, his cousin’s girlfriend, but the blonde human refused to spill any details. He wished there were something more he could do to help the young she-wolf feel more at home at the ranch. Gene had thought about pushing Natalia to open up to him, but not knowing the full extent of the abuse she’d received from Juarez and Emmett McKinley, gave him pause. Instead, he had opted to let her come out of her own shell.
Shaking his worries away, he entered the house and sought out his own bed. He was far too tired to contemplate things tonight.
atalia shut the white oak door behind her, leaning back against it as she panted heavily. Lark, who had been watching after her son, Adrian, stood up from the bed with a worried look on her face. Natalia’s heart beat wildly in her chest as she tried to regain her composure. Closing her eyes to gather her thoughts, she forced even breaths in and out of her nose. When she opened them again, she turned to the bassinet, checking to see if her son was still asleep.
“Is everything okay?” Lark asked, taking a step toward the she-wolf. Natalia nodded and forced a smile as she trailed a gentle finger down the blanket her son was swaddled in. He looked so peaceful.
“Yes,” Natalia said.
“He hasn’t made a peep,” Lark assured her. “Did you have a good run?”
“I feel better now, thank you,” Natalia mumbled, willing her terrified nerves to relax.
A cold chill zipped down her spine and she tensed, clasping her hands tightly to keep the shaking at bay. She shouldn’t wait so long to transition anymore; it wasn’t good for her health.
“What happened?” Lark asked, frowning.
“The alpha...he heard me coming back and...” Natalia paused to look at Lark, whose blue eyes widened as she waited for the she-wolf to continue. “Anyway, he startled me and I...I punched him.”
“You punched Gene?” Lark asked slowly as a small smile slid across her face.
“I suppose it was instinct,” Natalia mumbled, her face reddening as guilt consumed her. She had acted impulsively; her nerves had already been frayed from the rough transition. The alpha had done nothing to her as of yet, and, for that, she was more than grateful.
“Do you think he will be angry?”
Lark shook her head. “No. Gene was never one to hold a grudge. But you should talk to him. He is a good guy, and I’m sure you’d like to be a productive member of the ranch.”
Natalia sighed and nodded. What she really wanted was to leave this place—to find a place where she could live safely with Adrian. But she doubted that such a place existed.
“I will think on it. I am sure that, if Gene is back, Devon must be waiting for you at his home.” Forcing a tight-lipped smile, Natalia squeezed her hands tighter, hoping to keep her trembling hands out of sight.
Lark grinned and tucked a blonde curl behind her ear. “I should probably get going. I’ll stop by tomorrow, though.”
“I will see you then,” Natalia said as Lark left, softly clicking the door shut behind her.
Natalia walked to the door, flipping the lock. It wouldn’t keep anyone out if they truly wanted in, but at least she would wake up if the lock were broken. She flopped down on the bed with a sigh, closing her eyes and wrapping her arms around her torso. Natalia’s body tensed, and she cringed as a numbing pain jolted through her limbs.
Breathing deeply, she focused on Larks words, hoping they’d pull her out of her episode. Lark was right; she would have to venture out of this room eventually. If the alpha was giving her freedom, she should learn as much as she could about the pack and their mannerisms. She’d spent too much time locked up as a prisoner before arriving at the ranch. Now, she was no longer a prisoner, but she had no way of knowing how long that would last. Better to gather information for an escape now, than to wait for the alpha to act later.
The spasms finally slowed as sleep gnawed at the back of her mind. Burrowing into the pillows, she pictured the ocean—home.
ene let out a long breath and relaxed back into his leather chair. After his run-in with Natalia last night, he’d been too wired to sleep. He wasn’t quite sure why, but he was paying for it today. The day seemed to be moving in slow motion.
He’d finally finished all of his pack business for the day, and now he needed to move on to paperwork for the ranch. Turning to his computer, he typed in his password. Just as he was about to pull up his files, he was interrupted by the shrill ringing of the phone.
He cleared his throat. “Hello?”
Gene was greeted by an all-too-cheerful voice on the other end. “Gene Harris, it’s Fernando Juarez.”
Gene tensed, grasping the phone tighter. It had been a month since he’d heard from the dangerous alpha of the Gulf packs. Not wanting the other alpha to know he was startled, he responded, “I was beginning to wonder when we would hear from you again.”
Fernando chuckled into the phone. “My apologies, son. I’ve been quite busy with other affairs. I did call to inquire about my granddaughter, Natalia, and my great grandson or granddaughter.”
Gene hadn’t realized Natalia was related to Fernando. “They are fine,” he replied, keeping his voice calm and even. The phone, however, crackled under his grip as he tightened his hold.
“Well, I’m glad to hear it. I just wanted to extend an offer to her; she is more than welcome to come home anytime she pleases. We miss her here. Family belongs with family, don’t you agree?” Fernando inquired. His voice was light, but Gene could hear the underlying threat.
“The decision is hers. If she chooses to return to your home, I would never stop her,” Gene said honestly. From what he’d seen of Natalia, however, he highly doubted she would want to return home. Still, uncertainty crept through him. There wasn’t much he knew about her, and he realized that it was high time he got to know the woman taking refuge at his ranch. Natalia had come with them willingly when they had rescued Lark and Emily from the McKinley homestead a few weeks ago. Gene had left her alone until now, knowing that she was a new mother and already frightened. This was not, however, a viable option any longer. One way or another, she was going to become a productive member of his pack.
“Of course it is,” Fernando replied, laughing heartily. “Just send her my best wishes, will you?”
“I’ll let her know. Was there another reason for your call?” Gene asked.
“Actually, I was planning a trip to Louisiana in a few weeks. Perhaps I will stop by to meet with you. I like to know who my neighbors are.”
“I wouldn’t exactly call us neighbors. New Mexico is several hundred miles from Abilene,” Gene said, an edge creeping into his voice.
“I’ll let you think on it. After all, my granddaughter is living in your home. I will be in touch to work out the details,” Fernando said unfazed.
Gene opened his mouth to respond when the line clicked and went dead. With a low growl, he hung up the phone. It seemed their reprieve from the Gulf packs was up. Taking his cell phone out, he pounded in his cousin Devon’s number. In order to decide on the best course of action, he would need to collaborate with the other alpha.