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Authors: Adrianne James

Tags: #Werewolves, #paranormal romance, #New Adult

The Tempering (The Mackenzie Duncan Series)

BOOK: The Tempering (The Mackenzie Duncan Series)
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The Tempering

Mackenzie Duncan Series

by

Adrianne James

 

Copyright 2013 by Star Bound Books

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

 

Cover Design by Gonet Design

http://www.facebook.com/gonetdesign

Editing by Rogena Mitchell-Jones Manuscript Service

http://www.RogenaMitchell.com

 

Acknowledgements

There are a few people that made this book happen and it’s time for me to say thank you. A big thank you to my beta Cherylanne. Your helpful comments and suggestions helped make THE TEMPERING what it is today. Thank you to Rogena Mitchell Jones  who took my novel and made it shiny. Thanks to JC Emery who listened to my ramblings of werewolves on many occasions, including a few late night phone calls. And Finally, thanks to Vanessa from New Adult Tours for getting THE TEMPERING in front of so many new readers.

 

Dedication

 

This may be the hardest dedication I have ever had to write. Not because I don’t know who to dedicate this novel to, but because my heart is breaking just thinking about the fact that he will never be able to read it.

 

To my big brother, Duane. This one is for you. You have always believed in me and my work. You have been my friend, my mentor, my tutor, my confidant, and my protector all rolled into one. You never put yourself before others and you never let anyone put you before themselves either, no matter how many times we tried.

 

Thank you for holding on long enough to give me two days with you. Thank you for holding on long enough to meet your neice and nephew who fell in love with you in those two days and tell everyone about their Uncle Duane and how awesome he was and how much they miss him. Thank you for always being there for me when I needed you. Thank you for scaring off all the rotten boys who tried to get my attention when I was younger and thank you for not threatening my husband when we started dating.

 

Thank you for every memory I have of you. I will treasure them forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

The crisp October wind whipped through the Harvard football stadium, sending a shiver down Mackenzie Duncan’s spine. She was always the one to feel the chill of fall first, and first to freeze come winter. Mackenzie did not like the cold weather of Massachusetts.

The roar of the crowd was almost deafening and the scent of spilled beer and over- priced hot dogs filled her senses, making her wonder why she ever thought coming to the big game was a good idea. Perhaps it made her feel like she could fit in. Perhaps she felt if she could just make it through one normal outing in her first year of college, she had a chance of the amazing experience her mother continued to rant about since she received her acceptance letter back in the spring.
“Remember to find the fun in college, Mackenzie. Despite what you think, college is not all about books!”

She tried telling her mother that she enjoyed books. As long as she could remember, she had immersed herself in fantasy worlds provided by the wonderful imagination of authors. Her lack of typical teenage behavior did not impress her mother.

“TOUCHDOWN! Harvard takes the lead!” The obnoxiously loud commentator yelled into the microphone, sending his shrieking voice cascading through the sold-out stadium. The crowd cheered and Mackenzie stood with the rest of her classmates and clapped along, taking in the scene before her. Beers were clinked, others were chugged, but mostly they were spilled during the celebratory hugs between the Final Club members that acted as if they ruled the school. For all Mackenzie knew, they probably did. Final Clubs were clubs for the elite, the rich, the students who had the money to go to Harvard without ever having to apply for financial aid or scholarship. Most of them were legacies, third or fourth or even fifth generation Harvard men. Everything in life had been given to them, and Mackenzie hated the fact that she was jealous.

Mackenzie stood to move farther away from the group, hoping the distance would allow her to pretend that they were not even there. If she could make it up to the top corner of the bleachers, she could sit through the rest of the game—have that one “normal” college experience—then get back to her studio apartment in time to get her paper on the mythology of ancient Egypt finished. If that went well, she might even get a full five hours sleep before having to get up for her shift at the local coffee shop.

She took two steps then remembered the scarf she had brought, knowing she would be cold. As she turned around, she bumped right into Todd Nealy, president of the most affluent of the Final Clubs.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to run into you. I just need my scarf and you can have the seat.” Mackenzie avoided his face. He had the bluest eyes and the blondest hair. He was muscular and tall, and damn near perfect. The problem was he knew it.

“No, it’s my fault. I should have seen you, I mean, there is just so much of you. How did I miss you, right?” He smirked at his buddies, as Mackenzie’s face grew warm with embarrassment. Then the embarrassment was gone and she was left with rage. Mackenzie had a temper. She knew she wasn’t the perfect size two that all the guys seemed to want, but she rarely considered herself a large woman.

“You’re right; there is just so much woman here that you really wouldn’t know what to do, would you? You claim to have not seen me. I just think that you have never had the luxury of touching a real woman; you had to find the opportunity to do so. Now, if you will excuse me, I will be going.” She grabbed her scarf from the seat and tried to leave. Todd grabbed her arm, his fingers digging into her skin, keeping her from moving. “I don’t know who you think you are, but you better apologize for speaking to me that way. Do you know who I am?”

“Of course, I know who you are. You make it your mission in life to make sure every student here knows exactly who you are, who your father is, and who his father was. Here’s a little hint. You. Are. An. Ass. You have a rich father who gives you free reign to spend whatever you want. Any girl you have ever been with has known you were an ass and just really liked that pretty pocket book of yours.

“Oh, one last piece of advice, NEVER touch me again. My daddy did teach me a thing or two before he landed himself in prison. So I suggest you remove your hand now.”

Mackenzie’s little speech did nothing to help the situation she found herself in. The look on Todd’s face went from annoyance to sheer murderous anger. His grip tightened on her arm. “Bitch, I suggest you find a dark hole to spend the rest of your time here because from this point on, this is war.”

She smiled and noticed the audience that had gathered. She wretched her arm from his grip, while bringing her knee up at just the right angle and velocity to bring Todd to his knees with a high-pitched squeak. “I don’t want war. I wanted you to let go of me. Honestly, what kind of man puts his hands on a woman?”

The echoes of a few girls cheering helped slow her heartbeat as she left, removing herself from the situation. Had she overreacted? Maybe she was just like her father— temperamental and violent when there was no real need. She should have ignored his comment. She should have been a lady and walked away. She should have done anything but knee that asshole in the balls like he deserved.

 

 

~*~

 

Instead of climbing the bleachers as she had intended, Mackenzie descended to the bottom and slowly made her way through the thousands of drunken football fans to the exit. She waved a friendly goodbye to the guard at the gate who looked at her as if she were insane for leaving with a full quarter to go. Maybe she was, but she wasn’t enjoying this “typical college experience.” She would rather be at home, working on her paper, and enjoying a cup of hot cocoa.

Walking down the street toward the JFK Bridge, Mackenzie thought back on the last three months at Harvard. Not only did she choose the strangest major at Harvard, but the country as a whole. Mythology and Folklore doesn’t tend to gain popularity like business or law. But she was okay with that. She knew what she wanted to do with her degree, she would write the next great mythological series and would consult on any games, shows, or movies that required any mythology or supernatural elements. A degree would surely put her leaps and bounds above any other consultant out there, and companies contacted her department all the time for that stuff. Any job that didn’t require the question of “Would you like fries with that?” would be a step up for her and a first in the family.

She was the first to go to college, but she couldn’t just go to college, she had to go to the best college. She sent a letter to her father the day she received her acceptance letter. His response was almost immediate. He demanded to know where the money came from that she used to bribe the “bitch who looks at applications.” It wasn’t as if she had seen him in the twelve years he was locked up. Where did he get off responding like that? She was lucky she was even being admitted after being held back in elementary school because of the amount of time she was kept out of class by her parents for one court hearing or another. She knew then that she had to rise above her family. She had to cut them all out if she ever wanted a real life. A mother whose priority in life was mediocrity and fitting in with the social norm, and a father who solves any problem he comes across with his fists or drugs, were not exactly great role models. She hadn’t spoken to either since she left for college. Without any siblings to worry about, she was on her own and that was perfectly fine by her.

Mackenzie pulled her coat tight around her as she took the first few steps onto the walking path along the bridge. Looking out over the Charles River, she smiled at the beauty the lights created when they reflected off the water. The sky had an almost bluish purple glow and the full moon was high in the sky. She may have been better suited to sit inside and work, but if she were able to admire the beauty the world had to offer through a window, that was what she considered perfect.

Stepping off the bridge, Mackenzie checked her watch and was shocked that it was already ten-thirty. She looked down the well-lit street that held a throng of students partying with the game blaring on their radios, and then to her left at the quiet park. She loved the park. It had plenty of trees and most of the time it was completely deserted. It reminded her of Colorado at times. Even though she didn’t like to admit it, she missed her home state. She quickly made the left turn and found herself walking amongst the tall maple trees. Had there been any light, the beautiful oranges and reds would have created a kaleidoscope of color in a canopy above her. The trees stood so closely together that almost no light was able to break through the leaves. It was pitch black with the exception of one clearing about thirty feet in front of her where the moonlight was shining in like a spotlight.

The sounds from the street behind her slowly faded away with every step, but at the same time, her unease grew. Looking over her shoulder every few moments to confirm that she was still alone, she quickened her pace. She didn’t know why, but she felt as if she were being watched. When a noise from the tree line echoed through the area, her heart began to race. Goosebumps erupted on her skin and fear gnawed at her. 

The rustling from the trees had Mackenzie on high alert. She stopped and searched the trees as best as she could, but without any added light, she knew she had little chance of seeing anything.
Just walk quicker
.
It’s just an animal.

Swallowing down the fear that threatened to engulf her, she tried to look in all directions at once, not wanting to be surprised from any angle. With every step she took, the noise in the trees never faded.
It has to be an animal. It has to be an animal. Animals are not scary. It’s probably a raccoon or something. Raccoons are nocturnal, so are possums. That’s it. Nothing to be frightened of. Just another few steps and I will be in the light, then another five minutes and I’m out of the park. Just a few more minutes.
She wanted to believe anything except the truth– that she was in danger.

BOOK: The Tempering (The Mackenzie Duncan Series)
12.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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