Life has been tough for Allie growing up as a lone wolf without a pack. Luckily for her, that’s all about to change, now that she has the opportunity to attend Linton University, the only place a lone wolf can live and study free from persecution by pack wolves. James is the ruthless Alpha of one of the biggest and strongest packs in the country. His hatred of rogues is legendary, and one of his first acts as alpha will be to banish all lone wolves from his territory, including those attending Linton University. Will this be the end of Allie's dreams, or will the strong attraction James feels for this beautiful wolf be enough to change his mind?
Age Rating: 18+ (Assault, Violent Death)
I stand at the bus station, clutching my bag as I watch the bus come to a stop in front of me.
Between school, studying, and working two part-time jobs, I haven’t had much of a life, but it all feels worth it now. Everything I’ve worked so hard for over the last three years is coming true.
I’m going to Linton to attend the only university in the country where wolves and humans study together, and a lone shifter like me is welcome.
On the bus, I easily find an empty seat halfway down. We are one of the first stops, so the bus is only a quarter full. I try to make myself comfortable for the long journey ahead.
Linton is on the other side of the country, and it will take over a day to get there. The bus will follow a winding route across the country, stopping at over a dozen major towns and cities on the way.
I’m used to traveling around, never settling in one place for long, so I’m not nervous about moving to a new town on my own.
One of the best things about studying in Linton, though, is that I can stay there for five whole years. For the first time, I’ll have the opportunity to settle somewhere and call it home.
No more being forced to leave because the local pack hates loners or because Mom just decides one day that it’s time to move on.
I’m finally going somewhere where a lone shifter is welcome. I’ll be able to shift into my wolf and run without the fear of the local pack running me out of town.
I stare out the window, watching the scenery change as we leave Dunnington far behind. Every couple of hours, the bus stops to take on new passengers, and the bus steadily fills up.
After five hours, we reach the first big city on our route, and I groan silently when I see the long line of people waiting to board the bus. The seat beside me isn’t going to remain vacant for long.
There is next to no chance that it will be another wolf who sits next to me—those who are part of a pack or have enough money would drive their own car or fly.
Only an orphaned loner like me would be forced to travel by bus.
The new passengers climb onto the bus, and a tall man with dirty blond hair and a muscular physique heads my way, surveying the bus and its passengers as he decides where to sit.
He stops and stares directly at me, and my breath hitches as I take in his electric-blue eyes. His wide mouth turns up into the sexiest smile I have ever seen.
He’s too good-looking, too perfect to be human. My heart stutters as I realize what he is: a wolf just like me.
A passenger stuck behind him grumbles, “You’re blocking the way. I need to find a seat.”
The sexy stranger turns around to glare at the human, who pales and steps back. “Sorry,” he whispers.
This seems to satisfy the handsome wolf because he turns back toward me. His eyes fix on my face, and a smile plays on his lips while he makes his way up the aisle and points at the seat next to me.
“Is this seat taken?” he asks in a deep voice. His eyes never leave my face.
“No, it’s free,” I splutter.
He smirks and eases himself into the seat.
Once he makes himself comfortable, he turns to me and says softly so only I can hear, “No need to guess where you’re going, little wolf. University of Linton.”
“Yes, are you going there too? Are you a student at the university?”
His smile broadens. “Something like that. I plan to spend a bit of time studying, but I haven’t made up my mind if I’ll stay. It isn’t easy for a loner like me to settle anywhere.”
I stare at him. He doesn’t look like a loner. He looks strong, and his clothes are obviously expensive. He has the appearance of a pack wolf.
This wolf looks capable of taking on any pack that might try to attack him, and I’m pretty sure he would win the fight.
He must guess at some of what I’m thinking. “You’ll meet many different types of wolves when you get to Linton,” he tells me. “Many pack wolves but also other loners. We haven’t all had the same experiences.”
I nod. I don’t have much experience with other werewolves. Mom made sure we stayed away from other lone wolves.
“Not all lone wolves are good like us,” she’d told me. “Many are rogues who would take any opportunity to attack. They’d see us as easy targets, prey. We’re only safe when we’re hidden from other werewolves.”
“So, little wolf, what are your plans when you get there? Have you found a place to stay?”
“The university put me in contact with another lone wolf who has arranged accommodation for me,” I explain. “What about you?”
“Oh, I have friends there who will help me. Besides, this won’t be my first time staying in Linton.”
I turn to look at him more closely and realize he must be in his mid to late twenties.
“What made you decide to come back and study now?” I ask.
“Things are beginning to change in Linton, and I want to be there when they do,” he says vaguely before changing the subject. “So what do you plan to study?
“That’s an unusual subject for a wolf to pick. Human doctors don’t know much about our physiology.”
“No, but since healers are restricted to packs, and none of the pack healers will treat a lone wolf, I thought that if I could learn more about medicine in general, I could adapt the training to treat loners.
“It might not be as good as getting treatment from a real healer, but it would be better than the care we get now.”
“That’s good of you to try and help other wolves,” he says seriously.
I blush. “Thanks. What about you? What do you plan to study?”
“A bit of this and that. I think I’ll decide when I get there. When I see how the land lies.” With that, he smiles at me and closes his eyes, bringing our conversation to an end.
For the rest of the journey, I split my time between resting and talking to my new companion.
He tells me his name is Callum and that he’s been a lone wolf since he was a teenager.
He’s traveled all over the country, and the places he’s stayed and the things he’s done sound much more exciting than the transitory life I’ve lived so far.
Not for him, the dull slog of survival that I experienced growing up. However, I’m aware that he never tells me anything personal, such as where he was born or any stories about his family.
I suppose I’m a stranger he’s just met, and he probably doesn’t feel like he can trust me. I’m not complaining—I’m no more eager than he is to open up about my personal life.
I tell him I’ve spent my life traveling from place to place with my mom, but I keep it brief, mentioning only that she died recently without offering any details.
He’s sympathetic, but I’m pleased that he doesn’t press me to talk about what happened.
I’m surprised at how comfortable I feel in his company and how quickly time passes. Before I know it, we’re thirty miles from Linton and our journey is about to end.
“Thank you for making this journey so enjoyable. I was dreading the boredom of sitting here for hours with nothing to do, but with you for company, it’s been a real pleasure.”
“I’ve enjoyed it too,” I confess. “Hopefully, we can see each other again. I don’t know anyone in Linton.”
“I’m sure we will. When we get there, let me help you with your bag.”
“And I can introduce you to Jason, the wolf who’s been helping me. He’s going to pick me up and take me to my new home.”
When the coach arrives in Linton, Callum is as good as his word, and he stays with me as I get off the bus and carries my bag into the bus station building.
Excitement bubbles inside me. I’m finally here.
I find Jason waiting for me near the exit, holding a rough cardboard sign with my name in big black letters, but when I turn to point him out to Callum, my traveling companion isn’t there.
My bag is sitting on the ground next to me, right where Callum had been standing only a few moments ago. I look around the building, trying to find him, but he’s gone.
I’m surprised at how quickly and silently he moved and that I hadn’t noticed him leave.
I sigh and put him out of my mind. I’m not going to let Callum’s lack of interest in me spoil my first day in Linton. I’ve been looking forward to being here for too long.
I plaster a big smile on my face and move toward Jason.
“Allie, good to meet you,” he says with a warm smile. We’ve been messaging each other every day for the last month, and it’s great to meet him in person.
“Welcome to Linton. I know you’re going to love it here.”