Read Lone Wolf Pack 04.1 - Bonded to His Werewolf Lover Online
Authors: Anya Byrne
Bonded to His Werewolf Lover
Lone Wolf Pack 4.1
"Do something, Nathan. Our pack is lost. Everything is in chaos. Why are you just standing there, twiddling your thumbs?"
Nate took a deep breath and focused on keeping hold of his temper. With the ease of long term practice, he gave his pack elder a sweet smile. "You never needed me before, Elder Zachary. Or have you forgotten?"
Elder Zachary narrowed his eyes. "Things have changed. Alpha Adler and Mario are gone. We need leadership, and the elders cannot handle the pack without an Alpha."
Nate clenched his fists. "You simply want a puppet that you can control like you did Mario. It won't work, not with me."
The elder would have probably continued to insist, but Nate pushed past him and left the office. He wished he hadn't come at all. Why had he even bothered? There was nothing for him here, and he'd already decided to stay away from the clusterfuck caused by power-hungry leaders.
Throughout the past months, things had gotten increasingly tense in the Adler pack. Their Alpha—who was, coincidentally, Nate's uncle—Wendel Adler, had become obsessed with occupying the Simmons pack lands. The elders had encouraged it and had used Wendel's son Mario to coax Wendel into even more aggressive action. If they had the Simmons pack lands, they had argued to the younger werewolf, Mario could take over a pack already, without having to wait for his father to step down.
Nate had dreaded the repercussions of his uncle's and his cousin's actions, but when they had come, it had shaken him to the core. He had not expected both of them to be killed, and him to be left straddled with the responsibilities of the Adler pack.
He wanted none of it. His uncle had made it more than clear that his presence was only allowed because of Nate's blood connection with Wendel's deceased mate. Besides, Nate only belonged to the Adler pack in name. He was a born Alpha, and that had made him a threat. He'd been banished to live into the city, under close watch. He was probably only alive because Wendel had thought he might come of use one day.
Either way, to think that the elders of the Adler pack wanted him to take over was ludicrous. Nate stalked out of the mansion and made a beeline for his car. Several werewolves watched him with undisguised interest, but didn't try to stop him. They must have realized he was in a very poor mood.
He stabbed the key into the ignition, twisted viciously, and then pressed the accelerator hard. The wheels squealed as he drove off at a far greater speed than was safe.
Moon be blessed, it would be far better if he could just ignore Zachary's demands, but he didn't have the heart for that either. That was why he'd never left. His parents had loved this pack before they'd died. At the time, Maurice Adler had been in command, and Nate had been very young, but some of his fonder memories lingered, and he couldn't help but think that some of the members of the pack didn't deserve to suffer for the poor decisions of the now-dead Wendel.
He was so lost in his fuming that he forgot to slow down as he approached the city. As a rule, that didn't really matter—his werewolf instincts guided him, even in traffic. In the end, it was those very same instincts that had him pressing the brakes so abruptly the car squealed in protest when another car suddenly turned onto the road in front of him, going at a much slower speed. Despite his best efforts, he managed to slow down but still rear-ended the other vehicle.
At the same time, something exploded in Nate's mind.
Val was tired. Throughout the past months, his workload at the high school had increased more and more. Since two of the members of his staff—Gavin Price and Jessie Orwell—had left his employment, things had become progressively harder. Val had tried to find a teacher with Jessie's qualifications and skill with the students, but so far, he'd failed, and he was often stuck teaching, on top of having to handle his principal duties. Not to mention that, for some reason, he kept waking up from nightmares he could never remember.
He very much looked forward to a few days of fresh air and privacy. For this purpose, he'd decided to travel to one of his father's old properties, a small holiday home which had stayed out of use since the man's death. Even if Val had taken some English assignments to look over, it would help clear his head. But first, he had to actually get there—and the drive was taking far longer than Val would have liked.
So, Val was tired. That was the only excuse he had for the fact that he didn't see the speeding car coming. He turned at an intersection, and then, suddenly, the other vehicle was there, right behind him. There was no time to veer away, but the other driver's managed to do what Val could not. He pressed the break just in time, keeping both of them from disaster.
A slight crash sounded, and Val guessed the other car had still hit him—although far less than he'd originally thought would happen. Fortunately, the impact wasn't enough to trigger the airbags or make Val lose control of the car. Even so, he was still shocked as hell. He managed to stop the vehicle and then placed his head on the wheel. His heart was racing a million miles an hour. He'd never been in a car accident, and this particular experience confirmed what he'd already suspected—that they sucked.
Despite still being rattled, Val freed himself from the seat belt and opened the door. He had to check up on the other driver. Hopefully, he or she—Val hadn't seen them close enough to distinguish the gender—hadn't been hurt. The accident didn't seem serious, so Val guessed that must be the case, but he needed to make sure, and if there was an injury, he would have to call the ambulance.
Thankfully, he needn't have worried. No sooner had he left the car than he ran straight into a tall, dark-haired man. Val blinked in surprise and shot a look past the guy's shoulder. The car was, indeed, abandoned on the side of the road, the door open. Okay, so this was clearly the other person involved in the accident. No injuries, from what Val could tell. Thank God. Although, there would still be the police, all the formalities, insurance... Val's relaxing weekend had just evaporated into nothing.
"Are you all right?" the man asked, voice thick with obvious concern.
His voice cleared the haze of Val's frantic thoughts, and he could finally focus on his companion. His breath caught, and this time, not because of fear. In hindsight, he had no idea how he could have missed the perfect specimen of masculinity currently standing in front of him. The man was, plainly put, a walking wet dream. His eyes were a piercing hazel, so deep they somehow seemed to shine gold. His tight shirt appeared to be a few sizes too small and emphasized his rippling abs and stunning pectorals. Val would have thought the man had deliberately gone for that effect if he hadn't suspected the handsome stranger needed no artifice to have both men and women swooning at his feet.
Val shook himself, berating his libido for taking over at such a bad time. The stranger's concerned expression reminded him he had yet to answer the question. "Uh, yes," he finally managed to reply. "I'm fine. Just a little rattled. You?"
The man smiled slightly. "Not hurt either. I'm so sorry about this. It was my fault. I was speeding. I should have known better."
Val blinked in surprise. Despite not having been in accidents before, he'd already expected being forced to play "the blame game," and he didn't really know how he would have reacted since he felt his fatigue had delayed his reaction time. He'd also not been as alert as usual when he'd made the turn. But if the man claimed it was his fault... Well, that was quite unusual, indeed.
Val eyed the stranger, wondering if he was supposed to be suspicious of this peculiar attitude. Maybe, maybe not.
Take things one step at a time,
he reminded himself.
"Is your car very damaged?"
The stranger looked back, presumably at the vehicle—although from this angle, he couldn't have possibly seen anything of use. In the end, he shrugged. "Not sure. Let's check. Yours first."
Val complied, and together, they reviewed the damage that had been done to the cars. Fortunately, it wasn't serious, but the metal was dented and scratched. It could have been so much worse, and Val thanked his lucky stars they'd gotten away with just that.
They swapped insurance details—at which point Val learned the name of the other driver.
Well, that definitely suited him, since Val was fairly certain those muscles could have belonged to a particularly gorgeous Greek god statue. He hadn't had the courage to look at the man's package, but no—he refused to do it. This was already weird enough. He needed to get out of here as soon as possible, and hope the insurance thing checked out.
And then, something unexpected happened. Val was just about to get into his car—he couldn't stall any longer, since they were starting to inconvenience other drivers—when Nate cleared his throat to draw his attention. "Hey... Can I buy you a drink sometime?"
Val blinked at Nathan. "Pardon?"
Nathan fidgeted, which was strikingly endearing in such a handsome man. "I'll be honest. The thing is... I'm very attracted to you. I know this is possibly not the best time, but maybe... Could I call you later?"
Val stared. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. This hot stranger was asking him out on a date? Surely not. Had he been so obvious about his leering? He must have. God, this was so embarrassing. What was he supposed to say? He didn't know the guy. But then again, Nate seemed nice. He'd handled the entire issue calmly and respectfully, and if he had noticed Val's state, he hadn't actually made a note of it. A similar question could have come out offensive, but Nate seemed genuinely interested. In fact, those full lips that Val ached to kiss twisted into a small hopeful smile.
Why shouldn't Val take the chance? He hadn't dated in ages. And okay, maybe this wouldn't work out. Val knew he shouldn't get his hopes up, since none of his relationships had been very successful before. That didn't mean he couldn't try.
He paused for too long, and Nathan interpreted it as a rejection. "Tomorrow?" he tried again. "Or... When would you be free?"
Val thought about the small house that was waiting for him, about the weekend he'd planned and the assignments in his car. He knew he should have maybe set a date for the following week. It was never a good idea to be too eager.
He opened his mouth to say exactly that, but something entirely different came out. "Actually... How about we do it now?"
His face flamed when he realized what he'd said, but he didn't take the words back. Instead, he waited to see how Nathan would react. He wasn't disappointed.
The other man beamed so brightly the smile almost blinded Val. "That sounds amazing. Come on. Where do you want to go?"
It was crazy, ridiculous, more than improbable—and yet, it had happened. Nate had found his mate, and the man was human.
Valentine Smythe. Val. Nate's delightful find. He was the most beautiful, amazing person Nate had met in his entire life. Nate hadn't really known what to expect when Val had countered his invitation with one of his own, but it certainly wasn't this.
They'd ended up at a small, discreet bar which Nate knew was gay-friendly. The server had guided them to a booth in the back, given them menus and made himself scarce. After what had happened earlier—and since they hadn't actually dealt with the insurance thing yet—they'd agreed not to drink anything alcoholic, so Nate decided to have a non-alcoholic beer, and Val a dark espresso.
While they waited for the server to appear, silence fell. Nate's hands were sweating, since he had no clue what humans did under such circumstances. He'd blurted out his question because letting his mate go had been an unbearable thought, but now that he was here, he was stumped.
"So... This is a little strange," Val said.
Nate agreed, but he was nothing if not resourceful—and he refused to let the peculiarity of the situation alienate him from his mate. "Well, we are strangers—pun intended. So the best thing to do to make this less strange is to stop being strangers."
Val chuckled. "I didn't think I'd ever hear anyone say the word 'strange' so many times in two phrases alone."
Nate arched a brow. "Is that a bad thing?"
"Well, as a teacher, I would say you should have found a synonym, but then again, deliberate repetition of a word can have an effect as a figure of speech."
The conversation flowed naturally from that point on. As it turned out, Val lived on Simmons pack lands, which explained why Nate had never met him before. He worked as a principal for a private high school, and he was taking a brief break, exhausted due to a particularly hectic period. Despite the fatigue, though, Val obviously loved what he was doing.
"I like teaching," he said with a smile as he cradled his coffee. "It was originally what I'd wanted to do, but then my father died and I had to take over the high school."