McKenzie Lancaster is a witch rescued at a young age by a local wolf pack. She finds herself in a bit of trouble when her pack is attacked by a wolf that is hell-bent on killing every witch he comes across. Setting his hostile sights on Kenzie, Kieran Gallagher ("the Mad Alpha”) stumbles upon the last thing he ever wanted to see: a witch as his mate.
Age Rating: 18+
Book 1: Reluctantly Mated
He’s coming for you.
The haunting words caressed McKenzie’s senses, and coupled with the feeling of being watched, she was officially freaking the hell out.
It was startling to go to sleep in one place and appear in another.
But there she was, trapped in a witch premonition, walking around in a creepy dream forest in the middle of the night, desperately trying not to inhale the acrid, stagnant air.
A wolf howled in the distance, the sound full of pain and loneliness. She shivered, feeling that piercing howl all the way to her soul.
A chill hit her hard, and she sent up a silent thanks to the gods that she at least had clothes on in the vivid dream world.
One time she’d come there sans clothing, and it had been very embarrassing, though no one else had been around to witness her frantically running for cover.
Dreamworld, and all that.
The full moon peeked through the pine trees, barely giving her any light to see by, and she shivered again as a stiff wind blew through her.
A branch snapped behind her, but when she turned, nothing was there. The sound just added to the eerie feeling of being hunted.
Fog traveled along the forest floor, and an owl hooted somewhere nearby, only to be silenced by a wolf howling again.
Whenever Kenzie found herself in a dreamscape, it was always because she’d made a potion to ease into the premonition world.
Knowing she was coming there helped prepare her mentally for what it was like, since she often found premonitions like these creepy as hell.
She was sure some witches could probably find themselves there without enhancements, but not her, which was more than fine, as the place gave her the heebie-jeebies, and it smelled weird.
Even though she was a light witch, Kenzie barely practiced her craft, not that it would do much good anyway, as she was nearly powerless overall.
She’d tried several times to cast spells on her own, but it almost never worked. Sometimes things kind of lit on fire, but aside from that, she was weak. Powerless.
Which made coming to this plane without assistance very peculiar.
She didn’t know what actually triggered the premonitions once she was there, so she usually walked around in the darkness until something happened.
Couldn’t there be a beacon or a sign that lit up so she could at least see a bit better?
Maybe there was a spell for experienced witches to cast in the dream to activate it, but she would most likely never know.
It wasn’t like Kenzie was around a ton of witches to gather more knowledge; she was literally raised by wolves.
She worried her bottom lip.
Something disastrous must be headed her way if she’d been sucked into a premonition without assistance.
Hopefully, whatever it was would spice up her life a bit, maybe add a little bit of cloak and dagger to the monotony of her daily routine.
As much as Kenzie was unnerved by her current surroundings, she was a bit excited at the possibility of something different.
Something to shake her world up. Something to bring value and maybe meaning to her life. Not that her life was bad, but it wasn’t exactly what she envisioned for herself.
So while she was very aware that danger lurking around a corner would make a normal person frightened, Kenzie didn’t fight the thrill of excitement that went through her.
Perhaps a bit of intrigue was just what she needed.
Kenzie knew she was a bit odd, even among the Others that she’d been raised around in the supernatural community, but she didn’t really care.
It was fun being eccentric and a little different, considering that so much about her in the eyes of the Others was just mundane.
Her best friend and packmate, Sam, would describe her as “fun weird” and an oversharer, but Kenzie didn’t see anything wrong with being honest. Why would she want to spend her life not being herself?
Another howl, closer than before.
Whipping her head around, Kenzie looked behind her again and into the darkness of the forest.
There, nearly out of sight, were a pair of glowing blue eyes that stared back at her.
Usually, the sight of a werewolf in the familiar forest wouldn’t startle Kenzie, but there was something both different and achingly familiar about this wolf. Something sinister but compelling.
She felt like she knew him. That she’d known him forever.
The aura of the wolf was tricky as well, with a dark grayish red and the faintest trace of blue.
Menace and hatred were stamped into its core, yet it was also projecting a vibe she couldn’t quite place. Almost as if it were protective…of her?
He—and she was certain the wolf was male—didn’t fit the aura of anyone in her pack; she was certain of that. How did she know him then?
It wasn’t possible unless she’d seen him before, when she was a child, and even then, she couldn’t imagine that as a good thing.
Which made sense, given her surroundings.
Kenzie was pulled from her thoughts as the wolf in front of her growled low in its throat before lunging over a dozen feet, its massive paws catching her in the chest.
An ungraceful noise stuck in her throat as her back slammed into the hard earth, the wolf on top of her.
It was difficult to see, but Kenzie managed to make out a muzzle and a flash of white and felt hot breath on her shoulder before sharp fangs grazed her throat.
Its massive jaws held her in place while the large black wolf loomed above her, growling menacingly as if daring her to move, its belly pressed into her front.
Panic consumed her, causing her to push at the wolf.
A stupid move, as it growled again, sinking its fangs deeper until she cried out and grabbed onto the dense fur in her hands as if she could stop such a creature from ripping her throat out.
Witch or no, Kenzie was as powerless in the dreamscape as she was in the real world. Why couldn’t she be witchy enough to stop him? To do anything?
What happened in the dream couldn’t be real. It was only a vision of sorts. Therefore the wolf standing over her couldn’t kill her, right?
Probably. But she didn’t know. Not for sure.
Taking a deep breath, Kenzie tried calming her racing heart, turning her head slightly to the side as if that would compel the massive black wolf to release her.
Maybe her earlier desire to flirt a bit with danger was a big mistake.
“Please let go,” she murmured low, so as not to spook him. Absentmindedly she stroked the side of the beast standing over her, marveling at its soft coat.
The wolf leaned into the caress with a long huff, and Kenzie’s body relaxed.
How could something so intimidating also make her feel less terrified than she should have been? And why the hell was he letting her pet him?
The teeth along her throat lifted slightly, and the wolf licked along her skin as if to soothe her.
As if I would let you go, ever. The sensual voice whispered across her mind, deep and absolutely masculine. There was a slight drawl to the voice, although Kenzie couldn’t place the accent. Irish?
She shivered, very much aware it wasn’t from the cold.
How could she be attracted to a voice? And it belonged to the wolf! But how? Wolves could only speak directly to their pack or their mates.
This wolf definitely wasn’t in her pack, and Kenzie couldn’t imagine being mated to a wolf, especially one as frightening as this.
No way she would survive that pairing.
“I don’t understand. I didn’t ask for this. I don’t know why I’m here.”
Kenzie muttered mostly to herself, and to the dream in particular, like it would snap her out of it and back into her cozy bed, sparing her whatever was coming next.
Maybe if she didn’t look at the wolf anymore, it would disappear and take that mouthwatering voice with it. That would definitely work for her.
I wouldn’t have asked for this either, witch. Your kind are a vile lot I mean to rid the world of, sooner rather than later.
Like a cold bucket of water had been dumped over her head, Kenzie froze.
Being a witch?
He couldn’t mean… He couldn’t be… Stark fear brushed up her spine like a cold embrace, making Kenzie flinch.
“Are you—” Before the words could fully form, the images around her went black, almost as if her mind wouldn’t allow her to see more of the grave situation before her unfold.
Kenzie sat up in bed, gasping for breath as she clutched a hand to her aching throat, fully expecting to feel fangs digging into her flesh.
Her lithe fingers brushed against her smooth skin, and Kenzie let out the breath she’d been holding, ignoring her shaking hands.
Kenzie had been adopted by a nearby pack of werewolves after her coven was slaughtered when she was five years old.
Her own parents had been long gone in her life when the attack occurred, and Kenzie didn’t have much memory of life before being adopted.
She’d heard whispers throughout the years that her slain coven dealt in dark magic, something she found abhorrent, which was a factor in their demise.
She couldn’t picture herself trapped in an upbringing like that, and though it was terrible to think, she was secretly glad she’d been rescued and adopted by the Rainstorm Pack as a child.
Quite lucky, if you asked her.
Kenzie had also heard that it was one specific alpha and his pack of wolves that had taken her coven out. He was rumored to be vicious and downright ruthless, and for some reason, he hated witches.
Kenzie’s fists tightened along the bedsheets as she remembered the dream wolf calling her kind vile, that they needed to be wiped out.
Surely the dream wasn’t alluding to him.
Kenzie didn’t know much about Kieran Gallagher, the alpha who killed her old coven, only that he slaughtered witches for sport; he hated her kind that much.
He was over seven hundred years old and was called “the Mad Alpha” among other US packs, though she wondered if anyone was bold enough to call him that directly.
Kenzie thought back to the conversation her adoptive parents had whispered once, afraid she would overhear another tale about the boogeyman of shifters and regress into herself as she did when she’d first come to Rainstorm.
Doug and Judy had it on good authority that Kieran was the strongest and most powerful of his kind.
He only neglected the role of the alpha because he was more focused on killing dark witches than he was ruling over America with an iron fist.
Because of that, the Mad Alpha was second in line to be head of the American wolf delegation, not that his murderous activities held him back from being the alpha.
It turned out most wolves didn’t care if you committed genocide. They only cared if you were the strongest among them, and Kieran had strength in spades.
Were normal dreams like that? No way it could be a dreamscape.
It had to have just been a weirdly sensual, terrifying dream about a wolf she’d never met that resembled a psycho wolf she had heard terrible stories about.
She groaned into her hands.
It’s not real, she lied to herself. ~Just a bad dream.~
And yet Kenzie knew she would be reporting this incident to her alpha, letting him know that although she hadn’t cast the dream herself, it most assuredly followed her into her sleep to warn her.
Reaching over to her nightstand, she grabbed her phone, unlocking the device to check her messages.
It was a little after three a.m. The witching hour could have been a conduit of her dream, and it was the only explanation she could give herself.
Witches and several Others were strongest just before the sun began to rise. The thought didn’t put her mind at ease, but she was wired for the day ahead regardless.
Unable to sleep any longer, Kenzie hopped out of bed, dressing quickly in a pair of black jeans, a gray hoodie, and a pair of fuzzy neon pink socks to keep away the winter chill.
Living in the pack house meant she shared a bathroom with a few wolves on her floor, which was where she went next when she was decently dressed.
In general, wolves didn’t care about nudity, but given that Kenzie was a witch in every sense, she shared her body with the earth, not the nosy pack mates she resided with, who were all single and more than ready to mingle.
Mates lived in separate homes.
Kenzie did her best never to see her packmates nude, as it was only fair to them, not that they typically cared. They wouldn’t be seeing her nude if she could help it.
She was considered a bit of a prude in shifter terms, but Kenzie didn’t care. She wasn’t going to walk around anywhere butt naked unless she was communing with the goddess Hecate during a solstice.
Or having hot, passionate sex—which wouldn’t be happening in this house.
The hall was mostly dark, with a few night lights plugged into sockets that lit up the hardwood floor she walked across, a courtesy to the young witch in their midst.
Wolves had near-perfect vision in any setting, even at night, but not her. Kenzie got bum powers and normal vision, which was really a huge drag.
Passing through the open door to the bathroom, Kenzie flipped the light switch, squinting at the harsh glow before making her way to the sink.
The cold water felt nice as she rinsed her face, hoping the shock to her system would wake her enough to find the courage to face the odd dream she’d experienced.
As much as she wanted to procrastinate, she needed to find her parents and the alpha to discuss her dream with them.
They would want to know that danger was in their midst, especially if the danger was Kieran Gallagher.
Her face flushed.
Could he truly have been the wolf in her dream? It would make sense that his jaws were locked around her throat in a killing blow.
Brow drawn in confusion, Kenzie thought back to the dream, the feeling of him over her.
In wolf form or not, Kenzie found his body to be oddly comforting, which frightened her worse than his reputation ever could have. Not even his fangs poised in a killing blow had scared her.
And that voice…
Shaking her head, Kenzie looked up at her reflection, grabbing her hairbrush from the countertop and running it through her long black locks.
She was grateful she had thick, straight hair that didn’t need much managing outside of her bangs.
Staring at herself in the mirror, Kenzie realized she’d lost a bit of weight in the past few weeks, constantly feeling uneasy for no good reason.
Maybe it was~ for a reason, if your premonition is right.~
Kenzie shook the thought loose, refusing to accept that as her reality. She went back to observing herself in the mirror, grimacing at her now ill-fitting clothes.
She was still curvy, but her hoodie hung slightly looser on her than normal, not tight around her hips like she was used to.
Hopefully, she’d be able to gain some of the weight back when she felt more like herself. She liked her body as it usually was.
Sighing, she moved a lock of hair away from her neck to double-check there really was no gaping hole from a dream wolf.
There, staring back at her, were fang marks that slowly disappeared before her very eyes, almost as if they’d never been.
Her mouth dropped open, her face pressing closely against the mirror as if it would draw the image back to her.
A howl tore through the air outside, followed by several more deep howls and growls that seemed to encompass the entire property.
Startling, she smacked her nose into the mirror and jumped back, wincing at the sting.
Kenzie could have sworn she felt the foundation shaking under the onslaught of noises, but it was most likely just her racing pulse as it beat heavily in her ears.
A bell off in the distance rang, piercing the night to the point where the howls were nearly drowned out.
That meant only one thing.
An attack on her pack was imminent.