“You’re mine now.” I bury my nose into her neck, inhaling deeply. Her jaw tightens, but she says nothing. She’ll get used to her new situation. And we will all get what we want.
Alpha Magnus. The Butcher. The Killer of Rogues. The man who refuses to take a mate. Until he meets Antiope. She’s the daughter of a beta, beautiful, stubborn, and longing to lead her pack. When Magnus forces her to follow him across the ocean to be the luna of his pack, he thinks it will be all business. Quid pro quo. But what happens if the Moon Goddess has other plans?
Book 1: Stolen Moon
I storm into the pack house kitchen to find my father calmly eating his breakfast next to my mother and other members of the pack.
“Antiope, good morning,” he replies.
“Are you seriously going to just sit there and look at me innocently?” I almost scream, and wave the piece of paper I was just handed in front of his face.
He picks up his napkin and wipes his mouth before he gets up, gives my mother a peck on the cheek, and then beckons at me to follow him up his office.
The rest of the pack just watches. This is not the first time my father and I have had such an encounter.
I follow him with angry strides, fuming that he will once more make this an official discussion as if I’m some other member of the pack and not his daughter.
When he closes the door behind us, he twines his hands behind his back and turns to me, his green eyes meeting my ebony ones.
As he stares at me, I’m struck once again by how I look nothing like him. He has blond hair only now going to gray and a lean face with elegant angles, whereas I take after my Mediterranean mother, all dark and curvy.
I imagine if I didn’t train twice as hard as our warriors do, I would be even rounder.
“You will not scream like a wild beast in the pack house, Antiope.”
“First of all, you do realize we’re werewolves, right? There’s a wild beast constantly in the back of our mind.”
“Yep,” Maximo , my wolf, confirms.
“That’s no excuse.” My father ends the argument.
“While you signing me up for things I don’t want to participate in is okay,” I say, not ready to let him change the subject.
“I thought you said you wanted to take my place as beta?”
“And does the mating hunt have anything to with that?”
“What do you want from me, Father?”
“I will not give you the mantle or my recommendation while you are unmated.”
“You were unmated when you became a beta!” I wave my arms in frustration.
“It was different.” He raises an eyebrow. “I was—”
“—a male.” I finish the sentence for him.
He goes to the window and turns his back on me. He literally turns his back on me! I am boiling, and if my eyes could roll to the back of my head, they would.
To say that my relationship with my father is strained would be the understatement of the century.
He is quite disappointed that I never grew to be the quiet daughter he dreamed of, the one that can’t wait to meet her mate and be in his service forever.
I may look like my mother, but I’m not too keen on spending my days baking and cooking and doing laundry or serving my father’s every wish.
I’m not judging my mother. It’s what she wanted to do, and she’s happy with it. That doesn’t mean that I also need to be happy being under a male’s protection.
I made sure all my life that I don’t need a male to take care of me.
“You’re twenty-seven. You are of age, Antiope. You are more than of age. Other females are mated and mothers by now.”
“Good for them.” I force my voice to stay even. “I want to be a beta like my father.”
“I know that there are no female betas or alphas in the northern packs, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be one.”
My father turns to me over his shoulder, and his look is serious. His look is always serious. That, I take from him.
“I agree. But I need to know that there will always be someone to take care of you. You need to find a mate.
“And since your destined is not among us or the neighboring packs, you will join the mating hunt.”
“Do I get a say in it?”
“Of course you do.” He comes to me and places both hands on my shoulders.
I notice how he keeps his distance though. He has taken the responsibility of being a beta in the biggest pack in North America far too seriously, and he’s good at it.
But as a father… He has no idea how to behave normally, not even with Celia, his beloved one, my younger sister.
Now, her? Well, she looks exactly like him and has the psyche of our mother. She is an elegant, delicate flower that dreams of finding her mate and cooking for him all day, and Father couldn’t be prouder.
A smile creeps across my face. I love Celia. I love her exactly because she is that carefree, sweet, innocent soul, and I feel the constant need to protect her.
The fact that my father openly favors her has not put a wedge between us because there’s no way I could simply not love my sister.
Her mate is a lucky son of a bitch and doesn’t know it yet.
“Uh, we were angry a moment ago,” Maximo says. Like the Amazon warrior she’s named for, she’s always itching for a good fight.
Right. I need to deal with my father.
“Good.” I nod. “Since you’re giving me a choice, I choose not to go to the mating hunt.”
“Very well.” Father lets go of my shoulders. “If that is your decision, you’re free to make it. But I’m not backing down, Antiope. Without a mate, I will not consent to give you my place.”
I grind my teeth together, but I hold back my rage. Any show of excessive emotion is not to Father’s liking and will get me nowhere.
“I can be a devoted beta, Father. I don’t want to have a mate or take care of pups. I want to lead, and I will lead better if all my focus in on our pack.”
There’s a flicker of excessive emotion in my father’s face right now. Annoyance.
He is expecting pups from me and my sweet eighteen-year-old sister Celia.
Though Celia is more on board with this. She is currently traveling the world, trying to find her mate like our mother did when she ended up with Mr. Stick-Up-My-Ass here.
I breathe in through my nose. I am fairly certain that the folks who invented meditation did so because patricide is frowned upon and they had to deal with their overbearing fathers somehow.
“Besides,” I say, trying to lighten the mood, “you’re still too young to be a grandfather.”
He snaps his eyes back to mine, and I swallow hard. Humor is not held in high esteem in our family.
Mother and Celia are sweet and Father is strict, and that is the extent of flavors allowed in the Everstone household. Anything else is not considered entertaining.
“I have made myself clear, Antiope! Find a mate, or I will never name you beta!”
He had been appalled when I had asked for permission to go to the Beta Academy after I finished high school.
I’m sure he would have never let me attend if it wasn’t for his secret hope that maybe my mate was there, or I would choose a powerful beta instead.
None of those things happened.
On the contrary, I passed with flying colors, finishing top of my class and with the honors of the alpha king himself.
For the first female beta in the history of the Academy, I did pretty well. Not that my father has ever acknowledged that accomplishment.
I am respected by males who looked down on me at first, but my own father refuses to even nod my way in pride!
“I am a beta!” I am seething now.
Sorry, meditation folks.
“I am the best damn beta in the States, but your backward ideas hold me back. Is it just that? That you’re an anachronistic male who prefers women in the kitchen? Or is it more?”
“Antiope,” he says quietly, his voice a warning, but I’m too far gone.
“Is it because I finished top of my class—”
“—and you didn’t?”
I shut my mouth when I hear my father so angry. He rarely lets his rage show, but right now, he is eyeing me with a heavy look, eyes on fire.
I know instantly that he will never change his mind.
I need to make my own decisions. I will take it up with the alpha king. I will even challenge my own father for the position if I have to.
“You will go to the mating hunt,” he orders.
“I will not.”
“This”—he points at the paper I’m still holding—“is an official invite from the alpha king himself. You will not show disrespect to him and spoil my good name. You will attend. If you find your mate and choose to ignore or reject him, be ready to face the consequences.”
“Fine!” I say, and turn on my heels.
I go straight to my room and slam the door behind me. I drop on the pillows and scream all my frustration into them.
I will go to the damn mating hunt just to get away from my father.