Preview of Wolf's Reign, Final Book of the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series
I have mentioned before that this book was more difficult to write than all the others in the series combined.
It is with great relief that I announce that the first draft is complete. I still have several edits to go through, but the hardest part is done.
This book concludes the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series, though I will write in this universe again.
I have several short stories planned to give you more information about some of the characters, and someday, somewhere, the were will want to have a school. I am thinking maybe a high school. You'll know soon after I do.
For several months, I've promised this book to you, so here it is.
The first chapter is all yours.
Unable to sleep, Nate Rollins, Alpha of the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack, stared through the dark room at the ceiling. Janelle’s head was on his shoulder. She mumbled against his chest. He tightened his arm around his mate and his fingers clutched into a fist. Ophelia’s soft whimpers reached him through the open door connected to the nursery. Careful not to wake Janelle, Nate forced his fist to relax, slipped his arm from beneath her, then padded barefooted to the nursery.
“Shhh,” he whispered to Ophelia, his fingers stroking her tiny chest. “Don’t wake Mommy.” With expertise born of much practice, he quickly changed her wet diaper, then picked her up and carried her to the rocking chair he bought Janelle soon after they learned she was expecting. Giving Ophelia a bottle while he rocked slowly back and forth, Nate stared out the window at the moonlit yard. Somewhere in the woods, an owl hooted. Bats swirled through the air, their silhouettes stark against the bright moon. He sighed and looked at his daughter. Koreth’s pride in her matched his own, though lately, it was difficult to feel or hear anything from Koreth. Almost as if there was a padded wall between them.
The wolf is not needed.
Nate stopped rocking and sat forward. “What?” he hissed into the darkness.
The wolf is not needed. I am enough.
Lycos. It had to be Lycos. No one else could enter his mind so easily. Koreth is part of me. As much a part of me as you are.
The rumble of laughter in Nate’s mind set him on edge. I am more powerful than either of you. I am enough. I don’t need you.
Shoving Lycos out of his mind, Nate stood and walked to the bedroom. “Janelle, wake up.” He bumped the edge of the bed with his knee. “Wake up!”
“Wha . . . what?” Blinking, sleep in her eyes, Janelle sat up. Her blonde hair glimmered in the moonlight streaming through the open window. “Nate? What’s wrong?”
“Ophelia needs you.” He leaned over his mate and transferred his daughter and her bottle to Janelle. “I have to go.”
Janelle settled Ophelia in her arms, then looked up at Nate, concern on her shadowed face. “Go where?”
“Out. I have to go out.” He saw in her expression she needed him to stay. She wanted him to answer her questions. Neither of which he could do. At least not now. Without another word, Nate spun on his heel and left. Remembering at the last minute there were dozens of people sleeping in the house, Nate shut the front door with a soft click. He jumped off the porch and ran toward the cave where he and Janelle found the surviving pack members when Nate first learned he was were.
Going through the back way by vehicle would take almost an hour, but running straight through the trees Nate was there in twenty minutes. He slogged through the creek in his bare feet, ignoring the water soaking his flannel pajama bottoms and ducked into the low cave entrance. The cave was left provisioned just in case it was ever again needed as a hideaway. Sooner or later, someone would find him here, but for a short time, he would be alone with his thoughts. He turned on one of the battery-powered lamps left behind and sat on the cot.
Soon after he took on Alpha responsibilities for the ranch, he learned he could separate his human and wolf halves into two beings. Closing his eyes, he reached inside, searching for Koreth. Wolfish whines led him to the virtual dungeon Lycos built in his mind. Reaching a hand toward Koreth, he gritted his teeth, felt his jaw clench. Slowly, he forced his hand through the thick imprisoning air surrounding Koreth. Closing a mental hand on the nape of Koreth’s neck, he pulled steadily until Koreth passed through the viscous, invisible prison walls.
As soon as Koreth was free of Lycos’ prison, Nate commanded they be two. Koreth shimmered into existence in front of him. The wolf shuddered and crowded against Nate’s legs. Lycos trapped me!
Why would he do that?
Anger blazed in the wolf’s eyes. He is trying to take over. We must not allow him. Janelle, Nadrai, and Ophelia will be helpless against him.
Nate ruffled the fur behind Koreth’s ears. “We’ll find a way to stop him.” Avoiding thoughts of his doubts and fears, Nate stretched out on the cot. Koreth jumped up and snuggled beside him, nose resting on his paws. His hand resting on Koreth’s shoulder, Nate closed his eyes.
In the back of his mind, his massive wolfman form surged against the constraints Nate placed on him. Nate reinforced his hold on Lycos. “We have to find a way.” Even so, hours passed before he had enough control to dare sleep.
Snarl stopped at the edge of the creek and sniffed. Alpha! With a slight nod, he sloshed through the creek, ignoring the water filling his boots. At the cave mouth, he hesitated, then shrugged and pushed his way in. If Nate didn’t want him in the cave, he would send him home. But something was wrong. Snarl could feel it in his bones. His wolf cowered, as if afraid. Something he had never done in all Snarl’s long life.
Inside, a dim battery lamp barely cast enough light to fill the interior. Snarl walked to the shelf and picked up another lamp with fresh batteries, then pressed the on/off switch to flood the cave with more light. He turned to find Nate sleeping on the cot, Koreth stretched out beside him. Koreth raised his head. After a moment, he tilted his head to the left and whined.
Snarl walked to the wolf. “It’s okay, Koreth. Let’s see what’s wrong with the Alpha.” Surprised his voice didn’t wake Nate, Snarl hesitated. It wasn’t a good idea to be too close to someone with combat experience when they waken suddenly. Signing, ready to jump back, Snarl pressed a hand to the Alpha’s shoulder. “Nate?” Snarl shook his shoulder. “Nate?”
Nate moaned, then opened one eye. “Snarl? What’s up?”
Snarl frowned. The Nate he knew would come up fighting if awakened suddenly. “That’s what I want to know. What’re you doing out here? You and Janelle have a fight?”
Nate shook his head, then gently nudged Koreth off the cot so he had room to sit up. Koreth jumped to the cave floor and sat, head tilted, tongue hanging out, and looked at Nate. “I’m okay, Koreth.” One hand reached out to scratch behind Koreth’s ear. “Something happen, Snarl?”
“Yeah. For some reason, the Alpha has gone missing. Know where he is?”
“Very funny. I’m right here.”
“Uh huh. But something is bothering you. What’s up?”
Snarl endured the steady stare Nate sent him. Nate’s bloodshot eyes were haunted. Sitting on a camp stool, Snarl leaned forward. “I’ve pledged loyalty to you, Alpha. Let me help.”
Nate sighed and nodded. Reaching back, he swiped his hand as if reaching for his hip pocket. Surprise filled his eyes and he looked down. “I’m still in my pajamas.”
“Uh huh.” Snarl scratched behind his right ear. “Not often you wander around without all your clothes. Want to tell me about it?”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
When Nate stopped, Snarl raised an eyebrow at the younger man. “And?”
Nate stood and started pacing barefoot around the cave, walking around the stone-enclosed fire circle. Snarl watched, quiet, waiting for Nate to decide to talk. Two times, then three, the Alpha walked around the circle. When his feet came to an abrupt halt, Snarl studied his face. Stress openly creased his forehead beneath the uncombed dark brown hair.
“Snarl, when we opened the safe and found the second medallion, there was a paper with it.” Nate bit his lip then shook his head. “It said, ‘Beware the medallion, lest it binds. Valor and strength prevail.’ It seemed silly, so I forgot it. When Jackson’s medallions melded to mine, and the Progenitors granted me life, I forgot the note . . . until . . ..”
Nate bowed his head, then lifted it only enough for Snarl to see the angst in his eyes. “Lycos is trying to take over. Control both me and Koreth.” He slipped his thumbs into the waistband of his pajamas. “I think that’s what the note was about, but I don’t wear one medallion, Snarl. I wear four.” He raised his head more, his anguished gaze settling on Snarl’s eyes. “I think I’m losing this fight.”
Snarl motioned toward the bunk Nate slept on. “Sit down, Alpha. We need to talk.”
That concludes the chapter preview. Thank you for reading the first chapter of Wolf's Reign!