Authors: Cree Walker
Willing Sacrifice by Cree Walker
Book Two Of The Sugar & Spice Series
First Edition 2012
Release Date: July 2012
Published by: Naughty Nights Press (NNP)
Edited by: Annabelle Crawford
Photography & Cover Design by Shane Willis, RAD ACT Photography
Copyright © Cree Walker 2012. All rights reserved. This book is under copyright by the author and is protected by law.
This e-book is for ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It contains substantial graphic scenes, course language and may contain sexually explicit situations
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Names, characters and incidents depicted in this e-book are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
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Glossary Of Terms
: The male and female leaders of a pack.
: The lowest ranking member of a werewolf pack.
: A human being whose bloodstream has been contaminated by a natural ‘Born’ werewolf. Though the condition is rarely survived, odds of long-term success increase if one is in the supportive family grouping of a pack.
: Similar to a ‘bitten’ werewolf but both fundamentally and biologically different. A ‘Born’ werewolf is the offspring of two werewolf parents. The biological changes between the two groups take place in the last stages of embryonic and brain development.
: A political group of the oldest and strongest of the ‘Born’ werewolves. The ‘Elder's Council’ is responsible for maintaining law and order among the ‘Born’ werewolf packs.
: An annual gathering of ‘Born’ werewolves. The gathering is a time for any contending male werewolves to challenge for the rights to lead an opponent leader's pack as well as the right to challenge for unmarried females. This process is used to maintain strong bloodlines and avoid pairings between couples who may be too closely related.
: The physical ring of werewolves within which two challenging members fight.
: The term used to describe ‘Born’ male werewolves who carry the increasingly common incestuous mental disease that causes uncontrollable violence and rages.
Willing Sacrifice - Book 2 of the Sugar & Spice Series by Cree Walker
A familiar knot of pain squeezed off my ragged breath as my throat sealed closed. It felt as if I had swallowed a ping-pong ball of dry ice and it sat wedged low in my esophagus, blistering and searing the sensitive tissue within. I gasped after another long moment of agonizing silence, clutching my sides under the painful heat radiating out from the funeral pyre. I smothered another agonizing sob as I dropped to my knees just feet from the red-hot embers. I tried to temper my grief but it felt like I would die if it stayed in me any longer: burning and growing in my throat, cutting off my air and thoughts in one painful spasm after another. The pyre shifted and the body of my husband sat up and pointed, “I died for you.”
My eyes opened to a white silence, the echoed sound of my dream coming to an abrupt stop. My new home was just one large room – a cabin in the middle of nowhere. The fall of last night’s late snow silenced the world around me; there weren’t even any birds chirping outside the drafty windows. It didn't sound peaceful anymore, it sounded like I had lost my hearing and I was now trapped in my own little world of deafening silence.
The pain of losing him over and over in the dream lessened, as it eventually always did, and I rose to my feet, the rustling of the blankets the only sound in the large room. I wrapped myself in an afghan before stepping into the kitchen. It was the part of the room in front of the couch-serving-as-bed. My cabin was freezing and the humidity from my warm socks caused them to instantly stick to the frozen cracked linoleum of the floor.
I lifted the metal plate on the wood stove and gazed intently at the brightening of the dying embers within before I stuffed in a couple of good sized chunks of wood and replaced the circular cooking lid. I stood there mesmerized as I watched the heat shimmering off the black iron, and listened again to the silence of my thoughts.
I shuffled over to the window above the sink and looked out at the white untouched snow glowing in the full moon. Every tree was blanketed in snow, and what should have seemed breathtaking just felt oppressive as if it was closing in on me. It felt as if nature herself was trying to reclaim me, swallowing me up, making me disappear.
My husband’s name was Jack. It was a strong name for a strong man. I thought about him a lot, but after one of my nightmares it was always worse. I thought about how he had told me God had no place for us in Heaven. I was never very religious growing up. I had been stuffed into dresses and dragged to Sunday service by one foster family or another, so I did know what it was all about, but Jack had been taught something very different. He passed the story down to me: the story of our creation; the werewolves’ providence, the day before he died.
I was laying beside him, never leaving him alone, especially since it was our earlier separation that was the cause of him dying. We had been forced apart by the Elders’ Council in order to protect the integrity of the pure Born bloodlines of the werewolf. The problem with this is when a pair becomes “mated,” without one another they die. Something in Jack was determined that we should be together forever.
In our last days together I had one final hope that he would recover from our forced separation. Unfortunately with every precious hour that passed, he slept more and more while I stared unblinking at the tongue and groove cedar planks of the attic’s ceiling. I remember laying there for hours: just waiting, while his breathing became weaker and shallower and I just watched all those dark knotted eyes in the wood and prayed for the end of his suffering and my own. At one point as if reading my thoughts Jack woke up and pulled me even closer to him with angry tears in his tired eyes. “I’m sorry Sugar baby.” He hugged me with all his might with what a year before would have crushed me to death but was now no more than a gentle squeeze. “Nature, she is childish and far too often cruel when it comes to our kind."
If I closed my eyes I could still feel his warm breath tickling the tiny hairs next to my ear. I swallowed hard against the tight knot forming in my throat and that all too familiar feeling.
"I never understood," He continued and he wiped tears from my cheeks with a frail hand. "How you can love something so much when it cares nothing for you in return." He paused, and it made me wonder if he was comparing me to Nature, herself. If the thought hadn't crossed my own mind, maybe I would have argued, but the facts spoke for themselves. He was dying due to our long separation and I was not. This was unprecedented in our kind.
He shifted and winced at the pain it caused before continuing. "My mother taught me well while I was still very young to respect and love Nature, because if you don’t offer her worship she will take her sacrifice. She’s the jealous kind and she doesn’t compete with anyone, not even you." He smiled subtly. "Unlike our wolf, Nature, she has no predator above her to pay reverence to, but her jealousy of our capacity to love keeps us always caught in her deadly sights. This is why Nature, our mother, in her fury and disappointment made us so fragile to our love. Without our mate or packs we whither and die like a cut flower left out of water, but we werewolves are also man and also under God. So the man’s God watched Nature in her weakness and cruelty, and we were granted the ability to join together once again as a pack, forever in death. Man’s God gave us a soul. We are a creature of two worlds and so too, two Gods. We are men first and must always respect the laws of men and their God, but we are also a part of Nature so our souls will never leave this earth.” His story, one that had passed from generation to generation was done. It sounded more like a warning than a belief. I knew he was with me still. There were signs: a breeze in a closed off room, a whisper in my ear as I drifted off to sleep, but what had started out as a gentle reminder that he was here with me was becoming increasingly violent. It started with the removal of my blankets while I slept and the night terrors. He came to me in my dreams only to accuse me of not loving him enough. I didn’t die for him, though he had made that very sacrifice to me.
He had chosen me out of many. He had fought to have me accepted into his pack and made me its leader just days before he died. I thought that meant he had had faith that I would keep them safe when he no longer could. He left the pack to me as his dying wish, but I don’t think I was ever supposed to survive my first Challenge. Jack wanted me with him, and I don’t think he cared how it happened.
It had taken me a grand total of five days to lose leadership of the pack to its very first Challenger. It only took that long because word hadn’t gotten out that Jack was dead yet. The pack was ripped from my bleeding, broken hands in a fight that took less than fifteen minutes, and most of those minutes were spent on my back getting the blood beaten out of me by a two hundred pound werewolf named Glen Winterwood.
That night when I didn’t agree to become Glen’s chosen mate, I was exiled from the pack and the only family I had. Glen’s choice to exile me wasn’t great but to be quite honest, it had to happen if I wasn’t interested in becoming his chosen mate. Two dominant humans in the same house rarely works out, now imagine two werewolves with opposing views; it would never work. He was only doing what was healthiest for the pack:
pack. Having to see a smack down battle every time I was mended enough to Challenge him again wasn’t healthy for anyone. He knew I would die trying before I would submit to him. Physically Glen was the stronger of the two of us and like it or not that is what counted, and until the day Challenges were won or lost by SAT scores it would always be that way and because mentally I knew I was superior I would never quit; I couldn’t quit. That’s what made me Alpha, more than any title given to me through marriage. I may have only been aware of my inner wolf for a little over two years, but in that time I learned that Alpha’s were Born, not made.
After being exiled, I was supposed to curl up into a nice neat little ball somewhere out of the way and die, not only once but twice. My mate was dead and very few of us can survive outside of a pack for an extended period of time. It’s not great for our mental health.
I seemed to be different though. I had lived isolated for the majority of my adult life and I guess I had either adapted or I was just unusual.
My biological uniqueness seemed like the more probable of the two theories since I was so out of the ordinary in any world. Technically I was a Born werewolf, but both of my birth parents were bitten werewolves. Being a bitten werewolf was a rare condition in itself and since most died from the unknown virus attacking their bodies or from the insanity of being without a pack, most of them didn’t bear children. As far as I knew, I was actually the first on record. I was their
, as Jack had said.
Born werewolves were suffering from infertility and some of the more incestuous male offspring seemed to be suffering from mental illness as well. They stayed away from reproducing with the bitten wolves for centuries for fear of watering down their precious magic, but due to recent events, namely the end of the war between the two groups, they were now ready to say Uncle and try being one big happy furry family. As far as I knew, none of the bitten/Born pairings had yielded any offspring but I had a sneaking suspicion that Jack and a few of the Elders already knew that. I had a feeling it had been tried in the past as some sort of a hidden last ditch effort but since it hadn’t worked there wasn’t much point in changing things.
It would appear that since I was born as a wolf that I was closer genetically to the Born wolves themselves. Apparently some change inside the womb made all the difference in whether we were biologically compatible or not… but that didn’t mean the bitten wolves couldn’t make more like me to be paired with more like them.
Sometimes I wondered if it was worth all this effort, it felt to me that Mother Nature in all her spitefulness had made her selection and we as a species were treading water wearing cement shoes and the tide was coming in.
At first I worried about my pack. It was the first of its kind: a weird blended mixture of bitten and Born werewolves and it was being run by the first bad ass to come along. I tried to remember though they would have never have Challenged me out of respect, there were a few men strong enough in the pack who could take it back. If that didn’t work… they were a pack and numbers were in their favor if the treatment was bad enough, or at least that’s what I tried to convince myself. The truth was that I had been raised as a human and I didn’t know or understand a lot of their customs and something told me they would never Challenge an Alpha as a group. They had a habit of holding on to some of their outdated traditions even when some of those traditions were obviously hurting more than helping.
I thought of calling from time to time, but that seemed like a punishment neither side could bear. Even if I were to call, what would I do if the message I got wasn’t to my liking: maybe they had lost faith in me too, and maybe I wasn’t someone they wanted to hear from anymore.