Reading Time: 5h
Lycan Jennessa’s alpha father was murdered when she was young. After watching her mother deal with the loss, the last thing Jennessa wants is to find her mate. But if the new alpha doesn’t find his mate soon, he’ll be perceived as weak, and another wolf will assassinate him. At this ball, there’s more than a glass slipper at stake!
Age Rating: 18+ (Assault, Violent Death)
My name is Jennessa Richards, freshly nineteen years old, and this is my story. I live in a small, quaint even, town in North Dakota, where there’s more forest around us than anything else.
We have one main road in this town. Most people drive right through without a second glance. The rest are dirt roads that seem to lead you on forever with no real destination.
One small grocery story, a convenience store, and a gas stop is all people really see, because that’s all that’s really here at first glance.
If people took a harder look, they’d be amazed or maybe frightened at the community that lives here.
Lycans live here, and I’m one. Although from an outsider’s perspective we are a small community, we are the largest pack in the Midwest, and our land spreads hundreds of miles.
We don’t all live together, though. All across the pack lands are small factions of our pack, separated into four groups.
The first one is Alpha’s Mainland, which is where the richest and most powerful pack members live, and where you can find our alpha headquarters. It’s almost exactly right in the middle of all of our land.
The second group is Training Hill, where wolves go to learn combat skills in hopes of one day moving to Alpha’s Mainland and helping to protect our pack.
The third group is where I live. They call us the Reduced because we have no money and no power.
And then the fourth group is made up of people who have broken pack laws, but were not exiled.
We don’t really have a name for them. We’re not allowed to speak about them freely. From my understanding, humans would call them outlaws.
Tonight, I wish I was anywhere but here. Clay, our alpha, has arranged for a ball and has invited the entire pack.
Invitations were sent out to each family, the invite alleging it’s for a wellness check on the pack and for morale.
But whispers have been circling for a while about power at the top shifting, and everyone is curious if this ball has something to do with those rumors.
Unlike the monarch of England, in our pack, the alpha has to have a mate. If he does not, it shows a sign of weakness, and other wolves are likely to test out the assumed weakness in a show of force.
It’s odd our alpha hasn’t found his mate, and it’s only a matter of time before his power over this pack dwindles if he doesn’t find her.
Unfortunately for me, history in our pack has proven alphas have only mated with dominant she-wolves, which is what I am. It would be my worst nightmare to become the alpha’s mate.
I want nothing to do with any of it. I met our alpha a long time ago, before he was our alpha, but he was way older than me, and I was just a kid then.
I remember him being sort of like a golden boy who could do no wrong, and every girl or young woman wanted him. Of course.
He was friendly to everyone and was always there to help any pack member when they needed it. Everyone always loved him and his good looks, even then.
Our parents ran in the same circles, so I was familiar with him, and he was always nice to me, but with almost a ten-year age gap, there wasn’t much he and I had in common, and I assume the same is true now.
I figure I can get away with being there undetected, hoping he doesn’t even remember me.
I despise him and his family, hate them, even.
Even so, it’s not up to me. It’s up to fate. You don’t choose your mate. Once we turn eighteen years old and our wolf is an adult, they start looking for our mates.
One moment you’re independent, and the next moment you lock eyes with the wrong person—or the right one, depending on how you look at it—and you’re together forever.
It’s all ludicrous to me. I’ve never wanted to find my mate. I’ve never been interested in looking.
I’ve seen it happen, and the two people completely change. It’s disgusting. I want to live for myself, not for someone else. I don’t need anybody else.
I’m one of many dominant she-wolves in our pack, so, even though the chances were slim, I’ve already planned on trying to keep myself in the background of this “party.”
My plan tonight is to lay low, keep my head down and my gaze to the floor. I have a feeling our alpha is on the hunt, and I don’t want to be his prey—or anyone’s, for that matter.
“Jessie, are you almost done in there?” my mother called through my bedroom door. My mother was more diplomatic than me, but I knew her, and I felt the same way about tonight.
It was no secret I was a dominant she-wolf, and she was just as cautious as I felt right now.
“Yes, mother, I’m almost done,” I said, trying hard to mask the fear I felt. I looked at myself in the mirror once more. If it was any other night, I would be giddy about looking the way I did right now.
I would say I looked beautiful in the stunning hunter green silk dress my mother bought for me right after we got our invitation. The dress made my green eyes pop, and my dark hair and olive skin seemed to glow.
This wasn’t good. I didn’t want to look this good. My mother worked hard to get this dress for me though.
We lived on merger cash, and I wasn’t certain what she did to get the money, so I couldn’t say no when she presented it to me.
“Can I come in and see?” my mother asked, excitement in her voice. Always an optimist.
“Yes, come in.” I sighed and turned toward her as she entered my room. My eyes almost bulged out of my head when I saw her.
I got my body type from my mother, petite and slim, but also toned, otherwise you could hardly tell we were related.
I got my dark features from my father while my mother had the kind of blonde hair ordinary people would pay hundreds of dollars to achieve in a salon, and she has the most crystal blue eyes I’ve ever seen.
Her hair was cut short into a mid-neck-length bob, which she had curled and pinned it half up. She wore a pale pink dress that made her look flawless. Even in her fifties, she looked better than most twenty year olds.
“Oh, honey, you look beautiful!” She smiled, walking across the room to me.
“No, Mom. You look beautiful,” I said as she wrapped her arms around me for a hug. “Dad would have been so proud to have you standing next to him tonight if he were still here.”
“You think so?” My mother asked, her blue eyes instantly glossing over at the mention of my father. My father died ten years ago.
He was the pack’s alpha at the time. He was challenged. His opponent made a cheap shot that ultimately cost my father his life.
Alphas didn’t retire. They didn’t walk away from their duty to the pack ever. An alpha was always taken out by death. It was the only honorable way to go.
The challenger became our alpha with my father’s death, and in his first decree as our new alpha, he kicked my mother and me out of Alpha Headquarters and sent us here.
He didn’t last long on the top, though, because only a few years later his own son killed him and became the newest alpha of our pack. He still was.
“Of course, you’ll have everyone drooling over you,” I told her, trying to lighten the mood.
I was telling her the honest truth, though, and I didn’t mind it at all. If everyone was looking at my smoking-hot mother, maybe they wouldn’t notice me.
“So, I wanted to talk to you before we left, honey.”
“Okay,” I said as I walked over and grabbed my heels for tonight. I made a mental note to grab a pair of flats too.
These heels were beautiful, but they were also five-inch heels. There was only so long a woman could walk on her toes before it became excruciating. “What is it?”
“Well, I wanted to let you know before he gets here…I spoke to some friends of mine and found out Janice’s son doesn’t have a date to the ball, and I know you don’t either—”
“Oh god,” I said, looking up at her mortified.
“So, I figured—”
“Mother, no!” I shot up off my bed.
“He’s a very handsome man, Jessie. There’s no harm in having someone by your side tonight,” my mother said, her hands on her hips now.
“I don’t need a date. I thought we were going together? You know, as a family.” This was not happening.
“Well, I will be there, yes, but trust me honey, you don’t want to look alone in this big of a crowd. This way, you’ll always have someone with you, even if I get pulled away,” she tried to reason with me.
I was about to argue with her reasoning when the doorbell rang through the house. My mother’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, and she smiled happily at me. “That must be him!”
“Mother, no, please,” I begged, but it was no use. She was already halfway out of my bedroom, and I could only follow behind her down the hall to the front door. Without another word, she opened the door.
“You must be Daniel,” she said, but I couldn’t see past the door from where I stood off to the side. I was frustrated and nervous from the looming ball tonight, and now this.