Authors: Ellie Valentina
A PARANORMAL SHIFTER ROMANCE
©2015 by Ellie Valentina
All rights reserved.
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About This Book
It is time for Angeline to be mated and she has little choice in the matter. Her mother is responsible for matching Alphas with good potential females and she is determined that her daughter be matched with one of the most eligible bachelors around.
That man is Clyde. Strong, handsome, dominant and, most importantly, LOYAL to the woman he wants.
Angeline is about to discover just how much she really needs an Alpha in her life. The only problem is Clyde is not so sure he needs Angeline in his life.
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Clyde stared down into the dank, dark space between two trees. The hole was deep – deep enough that when the summer rains came, the body wouldn’t be unearthed by the water’s turgid flow. Deep enough to put his mate out of sight while she still lingered in his mind.
He never could have imagined anything would hurt so much. He had known Leila since he was a pup. They had run together, hunted together ---she had helped him play practical jokes on Lex before he reached the lofty position of Alpha and long after, she had supported him when he’d thought his brother’s stubbornness might very well drive him insane.
Now, she was gone.
Staring down into her grave, he cursed himself for the umpteenth time. His mate had always been sickly. He should’ve known the moment she started coughing incessantly the previous spring, that something was wrong. He should have taken her to see Liara before the infection had spread, but he’d allowed Leila to charm him into letting her stay at home. If she left, who would take care of the pups, she’d teased him. She had always been so good with their children – protective and loving – even upon discovering they would never be as strong as the others.
And so, she had become worse and worse, refusing medicine and healers until it had finally been too late. Her devotion to her family had killed her, and the guilt clenched around Clyde’s heart like a vice. Why hadn’t he asked Liara over? He could’ve made time…he could’ve done
At his side, the small figure of his younger son, Ian, sniffled as he followed his father’s gaze. He was still a bit young to understand the concept of death, but he understood that his mother was gone and she wasn’t coming back. He clung to his father’s hand, tears streaming down his face from sightless eyes.
Ian had been born blind.
Of course, it wasn’t unusual for pups born from the long, convoluted wolf lines, to have health problems. The boy had been born in a time before they’d begun to mate with humans. His blood was all wolf but, like his brother and mother, he would be prone to illness all his life. Though he had never seen her face, Ian loved his mother dearly. Her absence would weigh heavy on the small boy, and Clyde would have to help him cope.
Elias, his older son, had refused to come to the funeral. At fourteen years of age, he hid his sorrow behind a curtain of anger and rebelliousness. It was strange, Clyde often told himself, to watch a boy who could barely walk to one that would try to cause havoc. One would think Elias’ weak legs, damaged from a childhood bout with polio, would keep him from causing much trouble. However, the boy tore around in his wheelchair, upsetting elders and instigating fights with older, stronger males. Clyde had to extricate his son several times from scrapes he couldn’t hope to win, knowing that his aggression was naught but internalized pain. Before Leila had gotten sick, Elias wouldn’t have thought to set a toe out of line. He had his mother’s red hair and green eyes, and had idolized her.
Of course, everything was different now.
“Clyde.” He raised his head to see Alicia, his brother’s mate and the matriarch of the pack, standing next to him.
Her expression was somber as her hands rested on a belly round with the weight of her third pup. As his brother’s human consort, she had born the strongest of pups. More than five years ago, it had been discovered humans of her particular genetic makeup - the dark-skinned, strong women – could help strengthen the bloodline of weakening packs.
Since this discovery, almost all males had chosen to take human mates. So much so, that the few females of their species were now having trouble looking for partners. However, Lex, their Alpha, had been one of the first. He had stolen Alicia from a world their kind barely interacted with, and been forced to face the consequences. After over ten incidents in which males had stolen females against their will from the city and surrounding countryside, Clyde’s exasperation had reached its peak.
Out of their isolated society, he was one of the only males who sought information about the human world in order to fit better into it. Using this knowledge, he found a small circle of humans that not only knew about their kind, but also accepted and revered them. With their help, he had formed a system whereby women could choose their wolf mates, thereby avoiding any conflict between the men and the women they desired.
Though Alicia had initially been taken against her will, she fit into the pack far better than some women who had come willingly. She accepted Lex, his people and his family, as her own. She and Leila had become very close in the months before his mate died and Alicia’s sorrow showed clearly in her darkened expression.
“I’m so sorry, Clyde. Leila was much loved. She passed knowing she was among those who adored her.” Alicia had been brought to their pack an immature, headstrong girl. The past few years had turned her into a powerful figure in their pack and a much respected leader. Even Lex, sometimes, was forced to admit to her wisdom.
There were few like her, and Clyde was grateful that the young woman had been by his mate’s side when she’d died. Touching his arm gently, Alicia spoke quietly to him. “I can take Ian, if you need a moment alone.”
Stiffly, he nodded, unable to speak. Alicia knew him well enough that he didn’t have to.
Leaning down with only a small amount of difficulty, despite her rounded stomach, Alicia rested her hand on Ian’s small shoulder. “Ian, come with me, honey. Let’s get you something to eat.”
The tiny boy shook his head frantically, clinging to his father. With a short glance at Clyde, Alicia gathered him into her arms, easily maneuvering him as he attempted to squirm from her embrace. The pup struggled for perhaps a minute or two, before going limp against her shoulder with a wail, clinging tightly to the dark-skinned woman.
His tears only increased the pressure in Clyde’s chest tenfold. Alicia cradled his child carefully as she carried him away; leaving him standing alone, save for his brother at his side. Lex had barely said a word throughout the entire ceremony, merely serving as the strength his brother needed as he’d watched a member of their pack being lowered into the ground. He’d known Leila for almost as long as Clyde had, and so, on some level, he understood his grief.
“I know you must be in a great deal of pain, brother.” Lex’s hand rose to fall reassuringly on his shoulder as the Alpha’s deep voice boomed through him. “Leila was a great woman and she left behind a proud legacy.”
Clyde had always been good with words; it was one of the skills he prided himself on. Never before had he realized how quickly words could be rendered meaningless. He knew his brother only meant to comfort him, but as of this moment, remembering Leila merely made him want to be buried with her. He knew he had children, he had a life to live and that the pain would ultimately dull to a bearable ache, but that day to him, was far too distant.
“Please,” His voice was hoarse with emotion, his eyes sliding closed. “Leave me with her.”
Releasing him, Lex turned on his heel to follow his mate back in the direction of the settlement.
Now completely alone, Clyde stood at the edge of his mate’s grave, gazing down at the cloth covered body below. According to their custom, it was his duty to bury her; a task that would, no doubt, take him most of the night. But for Clyde, such little things didn’t matter. He would relish his last few hours with his mate, and when the sun rose, he would utter his final goodbye.
Standing by the ancient oak vanity, Angeline inspected the face that peered into the mirror. Ever since she’d been young, Samantha had been an amazing beauty. Large, uniquely colored grey eyes, toffee colored skin and a profusion of dark curls that spilled almost to her waist. She was curvy in the way of most ethnic women, with an exceptionally tiny waist and hips that had driven more than a few men out of their minds with lust.
However, Samantha was still a virgin. She’d been saving herself her entire life for her partner, her mate, and now, that day had finally come. The girls’ voluptuous form was clad in a figure-hugging white dress that dropped to the floor, her hair pulled back and away from her face to expose her stunning features. On her face was a mixture of apprehension and anticipation.
“Angie, I’m getting married.
To a man she barely knew.
Angeline forced a smile onto her face as she squeezed her friend’s shoulders in support. She and Samantha had grown up together, even been in several of the same classes all the way through high school. And so, of course, both knew that getting married wasn’t really “getting married”. Not for women of their ilk.
Angeline and Samantha were members of a secret society – the lucky elite, as Angeline’s mother so often called them – that were aware of the existence of paranormal creatures beyond their plane of existence. It was knowledge that Angeline had treasured growing up, until she’d reached adolescence and begun to discover just what it meant to be imbued with her
The pairing off had begun about five years ago. It was, her mother told her, in an effort to slow the rate at which wolf males simply took females from the human world to mate. At the time, Angeline had been nineteen, and just beginning to understand the true nature of the creatures she’d idolized from an early age. In her youth, wolves had always been amazing, mysterious creatures, wardens of the forest and all its inhabitants.
The first time she had actually come into contact with a male wolf, however, all of her illusions had shattered. The man had been, as his namesake implied, an animal. A blustering, cocksure fool who had swaggered his way into their community and demanded a mate be provided to him. Though Angeline’s mother, as the matriarch, had agreed to his terms, it was still unbelievably rude for the man to use such words.
As if they were still in the middle of the sixteenth century! It was almost two thousand sixteen,
thought Angeline in frustration
Angeline didn’t know if she was more affronted that her mother had made the deal with the devil in the first place, or that girls were actually
to be handed off. They knew so little. All they saw were bulging muscles and pretty faces and they were ready to be spirited off into a life of servitude that included little more than popping out pups and being bossed around.
Angeline liked sex, but she didn’t like it
much. Her few encounters with the males that had come seeking her mother’s blessing for matches had not been pleasant. Wolves could be, at best, standoffish and aloof, and at worse, downright uncouth. One of them had sniffed her – actually
her in her mother’s house!
Yet here Samantha was, over the moon to have finally found her match. Her father was also happy, enthralled with the idea of a hybrid grandson, and Angeline’s own mother would be happy to keep fulfilling her pact with the clan who had sought them out.
Angeline adored her mother. The woman had raised her when her father had run off without a trace. She harbored a deep respect for wolves ever since she’d discovered their existence as a young girl.
However, Angeline didn’t know if she believed making a deal to hand young women over into a society they knew nothing about was right. These were creatures that’d have
them, regardless of the pact. To Angeline, it was like the kidnapping of women in some middle-eastern countries and forcing them into matrimony.
The weddings, when they
performed, were farces in and of themselves. As far as Angeline knew, wolves didn’t have very much respect for human customs. The value of the mating ritual would be far higher than that of any union performed in a church, and as such, she wondered if Samantha really knew what she was getting into.
Turning this way and that before the mirror, the young woman smoothed her hair into place before turning her large gray eyes upon Angeline. “How do I look?”
Angeline looked her over, from head to toe. “Amazing.”
Her answer was completely honest. The question was: would her mate-to-be take the time to appreciate her pains before tossing her on her back to rut her in an attempt to get her with his pup? Samantha rose with a wide smile, headed for the door to gather up the few belongings she meant to take with her to the wolf settlement. One of the stipulations of the pack was that the women chosen had to live there for a full year before they had the option of returning to civilized society. This was probably, Angeline guessed, to ensure the girls were already impregnated before they could change their minds.
She shuddered slightly at the thought, knowing her own name was somewhere on a short list of women that were available to be mated. As her own mother was the forger of the pact, she would have more to say when it came to when and to whom her daughter could be mated. So far, Angeline was just past her twenty fifth birthday and her mother hadn’t come to her with any mating proposals yet.
Sometimes, the young woman hoped against hope that she would never be forced into a union with a wolf. When she imagined being taken away from her friends and family – from her comfortable home in Buckhead, right outside of Atlanta, and forced into the wilderness and a society completely different than her own – she was frightened. She literally had nightmares about the experience.