Wolf's Reign Coming Soon!UPDATE: Wolf's Reign will be book 6 in the series. Learn about the new Book 5, Wolf's Trust!
I am so excited that books 1-4 are doing well on Amazon. They keep climbing the ranks, and I hope to make writing my full-time career soon!
After publishing Wolf's Huntsman (Book 4), I took some time to think through the next book. I have a good idea of what will happen, so it's time to get started on the writing.
The first draft of Chapters 1-2 is complete. They both have been through a quick edit, but still need a little editing and revision, but I am including them in this post so you can have an idea of the next book in the story.
The oldest living werewolf has a choice to make: Support the new Were King or walk away . . . like he has so many times before. The question is not whether this new contender for the crown is wolf enough to take it. The question is whether he can keep it if he does.
Thorkell strode silently through the heavily wooded acreage of the Texas Ranch Pack territory. His soft step quiet, nose in the air, he followed a scent few would be able to trace. The prey he hunted wore at least one of the Ancient’s medallions, making him impossible for most to sense or follow. Thorkell’s soundless hunting steps grew closer and closer to his quarry. Slipping around and through briars and brush, he leaned his shoulder against a live oak tree’s rough bark and watched his prey enjoying the sun.
Water warbled softly in the creek running past the flat limestone ledge the black wolf lay on. Soft summer winds breathed through the tree branches, gently rustling leaves and casting shifting shadows, marking the resting wolf, causing his fur to look almost blue when splotches of sun light slipped through.
A dragonfly buzzed the wolf’s ear, and it twitched. Birds twittered in the trees, blue jays and red birds chasing each other beneath the deep shadows beneath the trees lining the creek. Yawning, the wolf set his great head on crossed front paws and closed his eyes. Thorkell grinned, counted to fifty, then shimmered silently into a wolf. Paws silent, he crept closer. The only warning the other wolf had was the slight scrape of Thorkell’s wolf’s claws on the rock when he leaped at him.
Scrambling to a stand, the black wolf had time for a deep-chested growl before Thorkell’s wolf slammed into him, entangling him in a rolling ball of paws and fur, snarling. Thorkell snapped at the black wolf’s neck. The two wolves rolled across the flat rock, clawing and growling, and splashed into the creek, then rolled apart. Facing each other growls low in their throats, they stood in the shallow water. When Thorkell’s wolf stopped growling and shook in laughter, the black wolf stopped growling and tilted his head, staring at him. He shimmered into human form standing in the ankle-deep water.
Thorkell’s wolf yipped, laughing when the Alpha command washed over him. He yipped again and sat on his haunches in the water. Tongue hanging out, he studied the Alpha’s surprised expression.
“Shift!” the Alpha commanded again.
Thorkell’s wolf twitched his left ear to discourage the dragonfly that previously buzzed the Alpha’s ear. When the Alpha blinked, a confused expression on his face, Thorkell grinned a wolfy grin, then shifted, cackling when the younger man blinked at him. “Your Alpha tricks don’t work on me.”
Nate Rollins, Alpha of the Texas Ranch Pack stared at Snarl, the oldest member of his brother’s Arkansas Ozark Pack. Raising his right hand to massage the tension from his neck, Nate frowned. “Snarl?”
“That’d be me, Son.” Snarl frowned. “You need to practice your skills. A real enemy would’ve gutted you by now.”
Nate met Snarl’s frown with one of his own. “What are you doing out here?”
“It’s time to talk. There’s things you need to know. Things that might keep you alive when you take your rightful place.” The old man shrugged. “Or not. Most don’t have the power to be ….”
“Were King, High King of the Were Council.”
Nate sighed. “Who said I wanted to be Were King?”
Thorkell frowned at him. “It’s not a choice, Alpha. It’s a birthright.”
Nate crossed his arms and sucked air through his teeth. “You going to push me, too?”
“Push you?” Snarl sighed. “Sit down, Son. It’s time you heard a few things.”
Nate glanced down at the water they were standing in, then turned and waded to the limestone ledge. His clothes dripped water and his shoes made squishy slapping sounds when he walked to a boulder and sat down, motioning for the old man to sit across from him on a facing rock. “You could have just come to the office where it would be more comfortable.”
“Could’ve. Wanted to see something.”
“Wanted to see how alert you are.” Snarl frowned at Nate. “If I was a vamp, you’d be dead.”
“I’m well-within my own pack territory. There’s nothing here that can hurt me.”
Thorkell shook his head and sighed. “That what you’re going to tell yourself when the vamps kill your mate and pup?”
Nate sat straight with a snap. His eyebrows lowered, threatening any who would harm his family. “What?”
The old man held up his hand. “They’re safe from me, Son.” Nate watched the elder study his face. “You’re about to become the most prominent were in the world. You, your family, and your pack must be ready, or none of you will survive it.”
“You seem pretty sure of yourself.”
“Seen it more than once. Five times . . .,” his eyes lost focus as if he was seeing something far off. “No, six times, since the last true Were King, I’ve seen Alphas strive for the crown.” He brought his eyes into sharp focus and frowned again at Nate. “Six times I saw Alphas and their packs die. Don’t want to see that again.”
Snarl lifted his shoulders and spread his hands, palm up. “Course, none of them was the true Were King. Didn’t have the Royal lineage you have. Still they . . . died.”
“And you know this first hand?”
The old man’s face grew tight, a touch of red showing in his eyes. “I do.”
Nate crossed his arms again. “Why should I trust you?”
“You got that newfangled Internet thing?”
Snarl nodded and his jaw ticked. “Look up Thorkell Leifsson.” He spelled his name out, letter by letter. “Thorkell Leifsson. Look it up.”
“Why? Who’s that?”
“That’s me, boy. You won’t find much, but I’m there. When you’re ready to talk, no, when you’re ready to listen, come see me.” Annoyance in every move, the old man stood and walked briskly toward the ranch compound.
Nate raised an eyebrow, studying the man’s posture as he walked away. “Doesn’t move like an old man,” he mused aloud.
He is Snarl, the oldest living were. You should listen to him. Koreth’s thought surprised Nate. Just how old is he? He asked his wolf. Older than some of the redwoods in California. His left eyebrow climbing almost to his hairline, Nate tilted his head and watched the old man everyone called Snarl stride out of sight.
When Snarl walked back into the house, Eli glanced at him. Sitting on the couch next to Renate, his wife, Eli studied the man standing over him. The old man was fuming, anger rolling off him in waves. Eli’s Alpha senses sharpened to alert. Exchanging glances with Renate, Eli stood up. “Snarl, what’s wrong?”
For a moment, Snarl glared at Eli, then shook his head. “You’re just as bad.” He turned on his heel and stalked through the house, slamming the kitchen door as he left.
The front door opened and Nate walked in. “Snarl in here?”
Eli waved toward the kitchen. “He just slammed the kitchen door on his way back out.” He frowned at the annoyance in Nate’s face. “What’s up?”
“Don’t know, yet. He jumped me out at the creek.” Nate motioned toward his soaked clothes and shoes. “Did you know an Alpha can’t make him shift?”
Eli blinked and shook his head slowly. “What happened?”
“I ordered him to shift to human twice, and he ignored it. Like I hadn’t said anything.” Nate’s fingers combed through his wet hair. “How . . .?”
“I don’t know, Nate.”
Nate huffed and started for the stairs. “Let’s go see what it is he wants us to know.”
Eli followed Nate up the stairs, his lips twitching to grin at Nate’s mutters. Since learning he was were and taking Jackson’s medallions after their battle, Nate had been ‘top dog,’ so to speak. Eli snickered at the thought, then sobered when Jabril, his wolf, informed him that the thought was insulting. Still, it amused him that having someone, anyone, especially someone as old as Snarl, could defy Nate. It was a new experience for the Alpha.
Nate slid into the chair behind his desk and pulled Janelle’s laptop from the corner, opening it and powering it on. He drummed his left thumb on the desktop while waiting for the system to boot, then opened the browser. In the address bar, he typed ‘Thorkell Leifsson’ and pressed Enter.
Leaning over Nate’s shoulder, Eli frowned at the search results. “Why did you search for a Viking?”
Nate clicked on the Wikipedia entry, read it, then looked at Eli. “Snarl said his name is Thorkell Leifsson.”
Eli’s eyes felt huge. “Leif Erikson’s son. Wow, Jabril told me he was old. Snarl told me he was born in 1004, but I thought he was pulling my leg.”
Nate stared at the screen for a moment, then looked over his shoulder at Eli. “He said my family and my pack will die if I’m not ready.”
Eli jerked his gaze from the screen to Nate’s eyes. “Die?” Eli swallowed at Nate’s fierce gaze.
Nate nodded. He glanced at the screen again, then shut the computer and stood up. “I think we better go see what he’s talking about.” Sucking air between his teeth, Nate frowned. “He said to come see him when I was ready to listen.”
“And you are? Ready to listen?”
Nate nodded again. “He said six Alphas have tried to claim the crown everyone keeps trying to force me to accept. They all died. Them and their families. I think I need to know more.”
Eli took a deep breath. “I’m going with you.”
Nate looked into his eyes. “I hoped you would. Of all the were, Janelle, Renate, you, Mom, and Dad are the five I trust the most.” He frowned. “But I don’t want Janelle, Renate, or our folks to worry unless it’s necessary. Let’s keep this between us for now.”
Eli gave Nate a solemn nod. “Agreed. Let’s go find Snarl.”
When Nate walked out of the office Eli was right behind him. Nothing and no one was going to threaten his brother’s family. Or his own, either.
Nate stepped off the back porch and took a deep sniff. Identifying Snarl’s scent, the smell of musk and old paper, he followed the trail out of the compound and into the woods. Snarl, the wolf, was sunning in the same spot Nate had been enjoying when Snarl attacked him. Old as he was, Snarl’s coat was shiny, solid black, and full. The old wolf watched the two men walk up to him and sit on boulders.
Knowing it was useless to try, Nate didn’t tell Snarl to shift. Instead, he sat patiently on his boulder, waiting for the old man to decide to change. Snarl’s eyes focused on Nate. For a moment, Nate felt Snarl try to place compulsion on him. Narrowing his eyes, Nate continued to stare at Snarl’s eyes as they glowed red, then faded back to brown. The wolf bowed to Nate, then shifted into Thorkell.
“Good to know you can’t be intimidated, Alpha.”
“Mind telling me why you thought you should try?”
Nate’s stomach muscles tensed when the old man laughed. “Afraid I want your pack, boy?”
When Nate didn’t answer, the old wolf laughed again and shrugged. “Might have, when I was a young pup, too stupid to know better.” The old man chuckled and sat on a boulder facing Nate. His eyes lost focus for a moment. “No, I had my turn as Alpha. It cost me everything. Don’t want it, again.” He cleared his throat and turned his attention back to Nate.
The pain in his eyes hit Nate as a physical blow. Taking a sharp breath, Nate forced himself to sit firm and steady until the old man frowned, nodded, and looked down. “I’ll tell you a story, Alpha.” Snarl lifted his hands palm up toward his face and stared at them. “These hands killed the last Were King.”
Nate blinked at the words, then blinked again at the shame and sadness that suffused Snarl’s face. “I killed Eric the Red.”
Nate learned toward the old man, his voice gentle. “Why would you do that?”
“Because . . ..” A sob tore the old man’s voice. He took a deep breath and, tearless, gave Nate a sad smile. “Because she wanted me to.”
I am enjoying writing this fifth book in the series. I'll have the cover reveal soon!
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