Werewolves of Montana Mating Mini #4
A cursed alpha wolf promises to free an enslaved Mage if she mates with him so he can sire an heir, not realizing she can destroy the dark secret keeping his pack alive.
Robert Keynes has known more tragedy than any soul should have to bear. Years ago, a Mage--Robert's ex-lover--cursed the alpha Lupine and his pack, resulting in the deaths of many, including Robert's parents. Only a great sacrifice on his part stemmed the curse. But the magick that protects the pack is now waning, putting Robert's people in peril once more.
Aurora Seville is little more than a captive; a beautiful slave given to Robert so he might produce an heir. A gifted Mage, Aurora has little chance of gaining his trust--until he discovers she bears the mark of the dragon. Mating with her could be the key to breaking the curse over his pack forever. In exchange, Robert promises Aurora her freedom...unaware the very woman capable of saving his pack could also destroy the dark secret keeping them alive.
Aurora has her own reasons to get close to the sexy Lupine. The secret Robert hides could free her beloved sister. So she'll agree to become his mate--but at what cost to both their hearts?
Excerpt (Warning: This is a romance novel containing explicit sex and language. Not intended for anyone under the age of 18)
EXCERPT FROM THE Redemption
(copyright 2015 by Bonnie Vanak)
Ruthless. Dispassionate. An alpha wolf with a reputation for cunning. And now, Aurora’s master. He sat behind a polished desk as large as a dining table. Eyes as dark as the sleek mahogany desktop regarded her with cool assessment.
He had not indicated he recognized her from the Shadow Wizard’s palace fifteen years ago. The man acted like a stranger, as if they had never met. He might as well be a stranger, for now he owned her.
She wondered if this master would be cruel and beat her with an iron rod, like the witch had. Or greedy, like the troll who wanted her to polish his silver each night. Or kind like her last master, an ogre who’d sometimes shared scraps of crispy pumpkin bread, fresh from the oven, with golden butter drizzled over the sides. Then again, this one called Robert was a wolf, and wolves preferred hunting and meat.
And sex. The concept made her shiver. She knew why she was here, what this wolf wanted with her.
Lupine. Aurora silently corrected herself. They were called Lupines. Others, who hid within the world of humans, or Skins, as Others called them.
She did not move, but kept her hands clasped, her body rigid at attention, her gaze fixated on the harsh angles and planes of his face, the silver threaded liberally through his thick raven hair, the hint of bristles at his jawline. Despite the graying hair, his face was unlined and he looked no older than thirty.
Aurora did not look down, even if he was her new master and held all the power in his pack. She had her dignity, and the remaining shreds of her pride.
He picked up a paper, scanned it, set it down. “Aurora Seville. You are mine now, so this document says.”
It was a paper, and papers could be burned. What could not be burned lay against her neck. The diamond-patterned collar encircled her throat more tightly than a hangman’s noose. It held her powers at bay, turned her from an Other who could spit fire from her fingertips into an ordinary woman.
Not so ordinary. She had her wits, and her seeker abilities. But how useful was the ability to hunt dragons when one was enslaved?
Robert leaned forward. “You are extremely quiet. Have you no questions?”
His deep voice was like dark chocolate with a hint of ice. The low timbre carried a note of pure arrogance. Dozens of questions flashed through her mind. Only one of them truly mattered, however, and he would not answer it.
Her life was spread out before him on that sleek desktop: twenty-nine years of breathing, eating, sleeping. Fifteen of those years spent as a slave, when the Shadow Wizard had discovered that her parents had killed a colony of Mages under his special protection. Cadeyrn had vaporized her parents. Since Aurora was only fourteen at the time, he merely enslaved her.
Some days she wished he’d turned her into ash as well.
It was a lavish office, with richly paneled walls and a gleaming hardwood floor. On a pillow the size of a truck tire rested a black labrador. The dog’s ears pricked at the sound of his master’s voice each time Robert spoke.
The dog looked comfortable, his bed far more lush than the barn floor where Aurora had slept for the past two nights. Robert had handed her over to Guy, his beta, who had assigned her to a pack female named Melanie. Guy had told Melanie to find a room for Aurora in the women’s sleeping quarters. The disdainful Melanie told her the pack had a wedding to attend and Aurora needed to stay out of sight. She had given her a blanket for a bed, some bread to eat and then locked her inside a remote, abandoned barn with piles of dusty hay. The hay had made her sneeze and itch, but the place had a working bathroom and running water.
Aurora never took water for granted anymore.
She wondered if Robert would continue to pass her around like a dinner plate laden with food. Her stomach rumbled slightly, reminding her that she’d eaten nothing but bread since her arrival. After being freed from the barn by Melanie, she’d been ordered to clean herself up and then report to the alpha’s home office promptly at noon.
There were two offices, it seemed. This one for pack business and the other public office in the large concrete building out front, beyond the iron gates. She doubted the Lupine ever invited Skins here to the small one. This office, in the vast lodge that housed several pack members, hinted of magick and mystery.
“No questions.” Robert folded his hands upon the desktop. “Not even a hint of curiosity? Cadeyrn told you what I am. Are you afraid of me? According to him, I’m one of those dangerous, vicious alpha wolves.”
Her new master flicked out a claw and dragged it across the pristine desktop, then over the paper detailing her life. The crackle of paper and the gouging of wood rattled her self-composure. Aurora recovered and stared at him.
“Are you going to kill and eat me, or should I get started on the laundry?”
He blinked hard, and the hint of a smile played on his firm mouth. “I don’t eat Mages, although I have heard they are quite tasty with a garnish of almond butter. And I do my own laundry.”
A sense of humor. She cautioned herself against it. The witch had told jokes at dinnertime. She’d laughed and then, an instant later, would slam an iron bar against Aurora’s hand as she set down a plate of bread and butter.
The alpha leaned forward, stretching the material of his navy long-sleeved shirt, rolled up at the forearms. As the material shifted, she saw the edges of a familiar tattoo on his tanned neck. Aurora’s hopes leapt. Sign of the dragon. Surely this enslavement could provide the key to freedom.
He folded his arms across his chest and leaned back. “Who am I?”
She knew his background, from the briefing given to her two nights ago upon her arrival, before Melanie had locked her in the abandoned barn.
“Robert Keynes, alpha of the Keynes pack, one of the few red Lupine packs in the United States. You’re thirty-four, own a botanical nursery and grow tropical plants and trees. There are eighty-two members of your pack,” Aurora recited as if she were in a classroom.
“Eighty-one.” The coolness of his dark eyes remained. “Molly, my niece and my heir, has gone with her mate to the Mitchell pack in Montana.”
A tight knot formed in her belly. Cadeyrn had given her to Robert as a breeder. The Lupine needed an heir of his blood.
“You have no mate?”
A shadow crossed his face. “No.”
Surprise filled her. Lupines were a sensual people who enjoyed frequent sex. The urge to mate and breed ran strong in them.
His mouth curved in a cold smile. “I’m waiting for the right woman.”
Then he pushed up from his chair and despite her bravado, she quivered. Robert stood well over six feet. His sheer physical presence made her very much aware of him as a man. He was extremely handsome, with a shock of silver threaded liberally through the black strands of his hair. Premature silver. She wondered if it had been caused by…
The very something that could set her free, and free her sister Emily as well. Her pulse pounded with sudden excitement. Had she finally found the man marked by the dragon?
“I need to breed an heir.” His gaze swept over her in a lingering caress that made her shiver with awareness. “This is why Cadeyrn gave you to me as a gift. You’re Mage, healthy and just entering the prime of your child-bearing years. He thinks you can produce strong offspring.”
She had lived years as a slave, working many hours to serve her masters in the house, even in the fields, as the ogre had a fancy for farming. But never in their beds.
Aurora gathered her emotions and stuffed them deep inside. Her body did not matter. Only Emily did. Her sister was living with a foster family. She must stay safe.
If it meant lying coldly beneath this wolf and conceiving his child, so be it. He was her master. He could order her to do anything. If she tried disobeying, he could make the magick collar around her neck squeeze tighter and tighter until her vision grayed and the pain became excruciating. She’d die, before she ever had the chance to save her sister. Aurora sensed this wolf might hold the secret that could free Emily.
But she could not let him know her true purpose here.
Robert glanced down at the document holding the details of her life. “Your dossier says you’ve never lain with a man before.”
Then he looked up and gave a smile, showing even white teeth. “Or a wolf.”