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Authors: Crystal L Shaw

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #New Adult & College, #Paranormal, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Contemporary Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Fantasy, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Psychological

Shifters of Shadow Falls Collection (Books 1-3)

BOOK: Shifters of Shadow Falls Collection (Books 1-3)
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Shifters of Shadow Falls

Books 1-3

 

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About the Author

 

I love fantasizing about sexy alphas who conquer without mercy and take risks without fear. There are always obstacles in life and love ranging from tempting vices to scarred pasts, and I enjoy exploring those struggles in my writing. Above all else, my strong heroines will prevail and love will conquer all. Always.

 

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No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations within critical reviews and otherwise as permitted by copyright law.

NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to real life is purely coincidental. All characters in this story are 18 or older.

Copyright © 2016, Crystal L Shaw Publishing. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Shifters of Shadow Falls

Books 1-3

 

Crystal L. Shaw

Offered to the Werewolves

Shifters of Shadow Falls

 

Crystal L. Shaw

 

 

 

 

 

Part I

The Offering

Chapter 1: Ari

 

              I can’t stop staring at Lizie’s ass.   She’s got a short, hot pink strapless dress on, that hugs her breasts so tight that they’re popping out.  I can’t be too mad at that; if mine looked that good I’d put them on display too.  But it ends about an inch below her ass. 
It’s slutty.
  If she bends over even the slightest everyone’s going to see all of her goodies.  I scrunch my nose.  At that image, a thought hits me.

“Are you even wearing underwear?”  I can’t help but to ask.  She goes commando all the time; although, I can’t see her doing it in a short dress like the one she’s wearing. 

She pauses her contouring, lifting the brush away from her face, and shoots me a naughty grin, then rolls her eyes.  “Yes.” 

“Thank God.”  I breathe out a sigh of relief and watch as she sprays something in her hair and smooths out the ends of her blonde-dyed locks.  She’s really pulling off the blonde bombshell look.  Honestly, she pulls off nearly every color she’s ever dyed it.  Even last summer when she made it purple.  It looked fantastic on her, like she was made to have purple hair; I would’ve looked like a complete dumbass.

I grab my mascara for another coat and stare back at the mirror before putting a balm over my cherry-stained lips.  I spear my fingers through my natural brunette hair giving it more of a relaxed appearance and smile.  Lizie may have the sexy-freak look down with cat eyes and hot pink lips to match her dress, but I’ve got the traditional-beauty thing going on.  I like my subdued look.  I’m definitely wearing heels though.  I can’t not wear heels when I go out with her.  We’re both short, only five feet and a couple of inches.  So she always wears heels.  Which means I always wear them too, since we don’t go anywhere without each other. 

“New Jeans?”  She eyes up the Vera Wang petite, light-washed jeans I just bought the other day.  I smirk at her. 
Jelly much?

“Yeah, they’re like the best pair I’ve ever worn.”  They really do fit my petite body the best of all of my jeans.  And I
love
rubbing it in.  I stretch a little in them and turn to check out my ass.  It’s a big ass, but I love it.  I’ve got wide hips and small breasts giving me a pear shape and Lizzie’s got a full on hourglass figure now that she’s lost the extra weight around her tummy.  I’ve always thought she was beautiful, although she argued with me constantly about her figure; but now she’s just down right hot.  And she knows it.

“Got em’ on sale last week.  Should’ve stayed with me.”  I click my tongue at her and smile.  She left me hanging to run an errand for our boss.  Who knows what the lazy ass needed.  We basically run the bookstore ourselves.

She pouts, “Did they have any more in my size?”

I purse my lips and shake my head.  They really didn’t.  They were the only pair on the clearance rack.  If we wore the same size in jeans, I’d share them.  But we don’t.  So she’s shit out of luck.  “Sorry Babe.”

“Damn.  We’ll have to keep a look out for more.”  I nod my head.  I definitely want more of them.  And her sexy ass needs a pair or two.

“We should look online too.”  Her eyes shine brightly at the suggestion.

“Hell yeah, pay day is Friday,” she replies in a sing-song voice swaying her head a little which makes her silver, dangling earrings chime. 

“Are you almost ready?”  She looks like she is, but knowing her, she could spend another hour painting up her face. 

“Yeah, we still have time to kill right?”  I check my phone that’s sitting on the bathroom counter.  Shadow Falls college is only 10 minutes away and we have 40 minutes before we have to take off. 

“Yeah, we got time.”  I can guess exactly what it is that she wants.  “Starbucks run?” 

“Yesssssss!”  She exclaims to the ceiling with dramatic flare.  She’s got a serious problem with caffeine.  I shake my head but smile back at her and grab my phone.  I could go for one of their cookies anyway. 

“Let’s go then so we’re not late.”  I browse through our joint closet, picking out my favorite clutch.  It’s got a pastel plaid print and soft tan leather.  I drop my phone and the cherry gloss in. 

“You wearing the pink stilettos?”  She asks as if she doesn’t already know the answer.

“Duh.”  I wear them almost everyday.  They’re neutral enough to go with everything that nude heels would go with, but they have a little more pep than a traditional, natural colored heel.  That
and
they’re two inches high with dark red on the bottoms.  I love that extra bit of sex appeal.   

“I swear you never wear any of the others.”  We’re both a size 6 so we share heels.  And Lizie came equipped with heels in nearly every style and color.  She’s a girl who likes variety.

“I like these ones,” I pick up my pale pink beauties and shrug.  They’re broken in and comfy and they make me feel hot.  Why wouldn’t I wear them every chance I get?

They say you can grow to hate your best friend when you live together, but that’s not happening with us and I can’t see it happening any time soon.  We’re both grateful to get out of the shit holes we grew up in, but more importantly, we love and respect one another.

I met Lizie in middle school, a year after my mom had past.  We were both rather quiet and didn’t really bond at first, not with each other and not with anyone else.  Loners is an appropriate word to describe who we were back then.

Summer time is when we actually started talking to one another.  I approached her first.  We were the only ones who wore long sleeves and jeans in such hot weather.  I finally gathered up the courage to ask her, knowing I would be exposing my truth too.  Her bruises were from her third set of foster parents, and mine from my drugged-up, or drunk or just plain angry father. 

She didn’t tell me why she’d begged to leave the other two foster homes.  But she was content to stay with the third even though they hit her for no reason.  I asked her why she stayed and she said it was the best that she would get.  Knowing the third home was better than anything she’d experienced before, my mind ran wild in agony at what must’ve happened to her, even as a twelve-year-old I had ideas of what she went through and I wasn’t okay with any of them being true. 

I asked her once.  We were having a sleepover at my house, not that my Dad was home and not that her foster parents cared or knew where she was.  But it was nice to pretend it was a real play date.  I asked her simply why she’d left the last foster home, but she just shook her head and cried quietly.  When I thought she was going to let up on the gentle tears that were falling down her face, I leaned in to hug her and she grabbed me fiercely, holding on with desperation and cried hysterically into my chest.  She woke up screaming that night and I just held her until she went back to sleep.  I never asked again.  But she knows that I’m ready whenever she is. 

Since then, we’ve been each other’s rock.  As we got older we learned how to avoid the beatings.  And eventually they stopped altogether.  Well, with a few exceptions.  

I grab my cards and keys out of the faux, black leather satchel in the living room and get ready to lock the door to our apartment.  I smile at the site of the bird cage pillows on our second-hand Ikea sofa while I wait for Lizie to grab whatever the hell she’s getting.  Our apartment is finally starting to look like a home.  We moved in together as soon as we could afford it.  We were able to get jobs at the deli at 16 and we saved up every penny we made.  Between the two of us, we finally had enough just before high school graduation.  So it’s been about a year of us living together in our small 1-bedroom studio with the measly income we make.  I’ve loved every second.  This is what family is supposed to feel like. 

“We’re not gonna be able to get coffee,” I yell the threat down the hall knowing it’ll get her attention.

              I stare at Lizie from across the room and laugh as she yells, “Nooooo!” and runs in bare foot, shaking out her blonde hair with a huge smile.  That’s the thing I love most about Lizie, she never lets anything get her down for too long; she refuses not to smile.  Without that optimism, without her friendship, I don’t know how I would’ve survived. 

She meets me at the door with spiked black heels in hand.  “Let’s do this shit.”

Chapter 2: Ari

 

As we pull into the already packed parking lot, I can’t help but to feel anxious.  I put the car in park and watch Lizie suck down her iced, caramel coffee as if her life depends on it.

“What if they take someone this year?”  My nerves are really getting to me.  As soon as we pulled away from the drive-through I could feel my hands getting hot and numb.  My breaths have been shallow and short, and it’s starting to give me a headache.  I’m trying to calm down, but I just can’t get rid of this uneasiness.  I shake out my hands again while Lizie bites the inside of her cheek.

Not much is known about non-humans, not even the werewolves who offered us the treaty.  The shifters and such stay to themselves, each species in their own little groups.  Inter-mingling generally ends with a bloodbath and no one wants that.  There are a few books out there, but they’ve been proven to be unreliable.  A news report even said one of the best sellers on super natural beings was put out by a vampire as a joke and that it was full of lies.  Just thinking of vampires makes my skin crawl.  The non-humans have their own politics and territories, and we have ours.  But humans have come to rely on treaties for protection.  After all, we don’t have their strength and our weapons don’t do shit to hurt them.  I’ve even read about towns that have pacts with vampires, and others with witches.  Not in our town though.  We only have our treaty with the werewolves of Shadow Falls.  The other species know it and stay far away.

Every year Shadow Falls provides an “offering” – it’s so fucked up that they call it that -  for the werewolves.  All the women in the town between the ages of 19 and 21 have to gather for the shifters and present themselves.  It’s law, we have no choice.  Once you’re offered you can’t refuse if they choose you.  Of course you can leave town, rather than participate, but that would mean going to a different town… one not protected. 

Having the town offering denied or not providing an offering at all would lead to an end of the treaty between the shifters and the town.  It’s happened before, every few years in various towns and cities.  We hear about it on the news, watching the protesters who no longer want the treaty.  It’s controversial when it happens.  Normally those who want protection take off as soon as the debates start.  They don’t want to risk the fall out.  Once the treaty is forfeited, all across the country we wait to see the repercussion.  The werewolves, don’t attack the town.  They just leave them be.  And when the other shifters and vile creatures of the night come to the vulnerable homes, there’s no one to help.  Sometimes it’s only days after, that people start going missing, or worse.  Other times it’s years.  I’ve watched on the news as fathers cry from their daughters’ disappearances.  I’ve seen pictures of entire towns burned to the ground, supposedly for a witch’s enjoyment.  They hardly ever capture the attacks, but the aftermath that’s left leaves enough evidence to determine what happened. 

Vampires and witches are ruthless and take without shame or apology.  They say there are good ones and bad ones just like every other species and race.  But I’ve never seen or heard of a
good deed
done by either vampires or witches.  They may wreak havoc, but they don’t touch what belongs to werewolves.  History has proven time and time again that werewolves will win that fight.

It’s been nearly sixty years since the violence that brought about our treaty with the shifters of Shadow Falls.  Vampires came in the night and abducted women and men to hold captive for their own pleasure.  At the time, we had no help, no treaty, no one to beg for mercy.  We put up a fight as best we could, but it was useless.  Families huddled together at night, yet in the morning, someone was just gone.  Or they were massacred.  Either way, it was hopeless.  The vampires drank their fill and left those who didn’t entertain their desires to die.  Back then the vampires were careless.  They’d stay where they hunted and reveled in the murders rather than snatch their victims and hide like they do today. 

The werewolves could smell the blood that coated the air and came partly in curiosity and partly due to the need to hunt their natural prey.  Our town leader begged for help and the shifters complied with the request that they offer their women willingly to them.  He agreed without hesitation, knowing other towns had such treaties with the wolves.  It only took a handful of days for the battle cries of the vampires and the howls of the werewolves to cease and the abductions and murders ended.  In the end, many human lives were lost to the vampires but the werewolves devoured the blood suckers without mercy. 

That year, one woman was taken by the shifters at the offering.  Since then, the wolves have pledged to protect, but they haven’t taken.  That’s the story we’re told anyway.  And that’s the reason we’re sitting in this damn parking lot waiting to “offer” ourselves.   

This is our first year and we’ll have to attend the next two.  To put it mildly, I’m freaked the fuck out.  It helps that the shifters don’t seem to ever take anyone. Maybe they hold it out of tradition? 
How the hell should I know?
  But knowing they haven’t taken anyone in decades only drops my fear down a notch, a very small notch.  The fact that I’ll be offered to them, well it gives me mixed emotions, but the overriding emotion is complete and utter fear.  I have a home and safety and a life that I finally cherish.  I don’t want to leave.  When they take you, you don’t come back.  No one really knows what happens if they take you, but it’s not hard to guess.  And the very idea of not having control and being used or forced, throws me into full-out panic mode. 

I came last year to watch and see what it would be like.  I had to prepare myself.  The hundred-and-some girls were lined up as they walked in front of the shifters on the stage.  Almost like a graduation.  I snort at the comparison.  The atmosphere was ominous; there was no sense of flair or speeches.  The shifters came, the women walked in front of them, and then the shifters left.  In and out.  Almost like neither party wanted to be there.  I know for a fact, that’s true on our end. 

Even though the shifters are mostly covered by their cloaks, it’s not hard to tell that they’re massive bodies of hard muscle.  I couldn’t see much from the other side of the stadium, but Sherri told me that they looked, as she put it, “scary as fuck.”  Combine their towering figures with the force radiating off of them that demands obedience and their presence becomes an extremely unpleasant experience.  I wondered why the women walked quickly and quietly with their heads down, but I guess that’s why.  If someone’s staring at you like they “wanted to rip your throat out,” as Sherri described, then you wouldn’t want to look them in the eye.  Especially knowing they can legally take you against your will. 

“Calm down Ari.”  Lizie licks her lips and pulls out a gloss from her bag.  “We’re gonna be fine girl.”  She smacks her lips.  “And then we’re gonna whoop it up at Jake’s party.”  I force a small smile for her and try to shake off my nervousness.  At least I can concentrate on the party tonight.

“You think Mike’s gonna be there?”  She asks as she opens her door.  I follow her lead and walk quickly with her to the stadium entrance.  We only have a few minutes left to get our asses in there.  If you don’t make it, you’re forced to leave town. 
Supposedly.
  No one ever risks being kicked out of a protected town, so I don’t really know if it would be enforced.  I don’t have any intention of finding out either.

“He told me he would.”  She’s been feeling out whether or not she wants to make a move on Mike.  I don’t think she should.  He’s kind of an ass.

We both sign our names and get a handout as we make our way past the check in station and up the steel steps to sit in the back.  I toss the handout immediately into the trash.  It’s full of our town history and how the treaty was formed.  I read it last year.  It’s basically a nice little package that wraps around the one requirement from the wolves.  If you’re chosen, you leave with them immediately.  No packing, no saying goodbye.  They take you.  Plain and simple.  I don’t need a pretty little pamphlet full of history to brighten up that bit of information.  No thanks.  I got it.

“I really want to get my cherry popped before college.”  My eyes shoot up to Lizie.  She’s practically the only virgin I know.  I wonder if she told me because she’s looking for a serious distraction right now.  Even if she’s not, I am, so I’ll take that invitation and run with it.

“For reals?”  I can’t help but to question her.  She’s never been interested before.  She nods her head and bites her lip.  I know she wants my approval.  Not that I have any room to talk.  It may have only been once, but once it’s gone, it’s gone.

“Why?”  I ask in all sincerity.  “It’s really not at all what people make it out to be.”  We take our seats and stare at the empty stage as Mr. Horga, the 56 year-old, gray-haired governor makes his way across the field with a microphone stand.  “Seriously, I have a better time with my vibrator.”  She laughs at me and goes back to sucking down her drink.

“I just feel like such an outcast, you know?”  She eyes me questioningly.

“Yeah Babe, I know how you feel.”   I clasp her hand and start to talk her out of pursuing Mike, but the whole stadium goes quiet and our gazes are involuntarily pulled to the entrance, waiting for them to walk in and show themselves.  Their presence is felt before anything else.  My heart drops and my blood runs cold.  It’s an air of authority and everyone can feel it.  It’s suffocating.  I swallow hard. 
They’re here.

“Oh shit.”  Lizie hisses in a low whisper.  She dropped her drink and what little bit was left is all over the floor in front of us.  “Sorry Ari.”  She whispers and half the people around us give her a weary glance before turning back to the cloaked werewolves who are striding across the field towards the stage.  “Did it get on your heels?”  I eye her like she’s lost her damn mind. 
Fuck the shoes. 
I will her to be quiet, but when I look at her as she tries to clean up the mess I almost laugh.  She looks pitiful. 

“It didn’t get me.”  I have to ease her worry.  I wish I had something to help her wipe up the mess.  She’s only got one measly napkin that was wrapped around the cup so she’s just pushing the coffee down the gap in the seats with the soaked napkin.  I give in and laugh a little bit, which at least makes her grin, before I look back up.  My smile vanishes and my heart sinks.  I try to swallow but my throat closes as three of the werewolves turn their heads my way.  I can feel their eyes on me and my mouth goes dry. 
Fuck. 

“Alright that’s better.”  Lizie’s banter breaks my gaze, she didn’t notice the death stares.  I let out a small breath I didn’t even know I was holding.

I reach for her hand and it’s hot in mine. 

“Hey love, you’re alright.”  Her voice is calm and consoling.  She doesn’t seem to give a shit about their presence.  It does wonders for my nerves.  She holds my hand tight and smiles brightly at me.  “We’re gonna walk up there and walk right back down.”  I force a small smile and nod my head.  Up and right back down.  As quickly as fucking possible.

I look back at the four overbearingly-tall men, who are now on stage, standing in a row emanating sheer masculinity and dominance.  The cloaks cover everything but the shadow of their faces.  They’re standing with their broad shoulder squared and hands behind their back.  I breathe out deep.  “You’re right.  I’m just nervous as fuck.” 

“I got you babe.”  She kisses the back of my hand, but doesn’t try to let go.  Good fucking thing too cause I don’t plan on letting go. 

Mr. Horga has started calling people up in alphabetical order.  We make sure to get at the back of the line since both of our last names start with W.  We’re dead last except for one older girl who has the most vibrant red hair I’ve ever seen.  We’ve never met her before, but she’s not very talkative so we just keep to ourselves.  She’s supposed to be in between the two of us, but I plan on waiting till the last second to get behind her.  I’ll be the last one to walk on the stage.  My anxiety sky rockets.

“I wanna see what they look like.”  Lizie’s curiosity knows no bounds and at this moment I couldn’t be more grateful for the conversation.  I need something to get me out of my head.

“We’re only gonna be able to see their faces, and that’s if you really want them to stare back at you.”  I mutter my response.  I’m not curious enough to look at their faces.  I glance to the stage and see that about half the girls have already filed through.  Some of them walk up with their eyes straight ahead, shoulders back, but all of them walk down with their heads bowed, wide eyed watching their feet as though their lives depend on it.  The stage is so long that there are at least ten girls on it at a time.  The four shifters are spread out so that the moment you walk up, until the moment you walk down, they’re right fucking there.  They’re just standing there, like scary-as-fuck statues.  Not moving or saying anything.  A chill runs down my spine.  I plan on keeping my gaze down.  The entire fucking time.

“Sherri said they all have a stick up their ass.”  We’re getting closer to the stage and my heart’s beating out of my chest.  I try to swallow, but my throat is suddenly dry. 

“Do their faces look different from ours?”

“I don’t think so.”  I manage to get that out, but then my chest starts heaving as I see how close to the stairs we are.  Lizie finally takes her eyes away from the stage and grabs my shoulders while we continue to move forward. 

“You’re alright babe.”  There’re only 4 women ahead of us now. 

BOOK: Shifters of Shadow Falls Collection (Books 1-3)
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