Lychos Cycle

opposites attract
kickass heroine

Reluctant Princess

“Syd,” I say. “If I were to step down as heir, would there be a place for me here?”

She reaches out and takes my hand again. “Without question,” she says. “Any time, come as you are, you betcha. And hell no. Yes, because I miss you and love you and it’s not the same without you. The kids adore you, life is better when you’re here.” She looks away from me, up at the star-filled sky. Her sorrow is a living thing between us, my wolf snuffling at it and whining. “And no, because you are so much more than a servant to anyone. And if you came back, I’d worry it was for the wrong reasons.”

Seven years have passed since Charlotte took her place as heir to the werenation. Still unmated and resisting her position, she longs for freedom she will never have, and life with a mortal man she loves. When a powerful new pack appears, Charlotte is instantly suspicious. Cicero Caine and his weres aren’t exactly what they seem. But the arrival of old enemies and a rising threat to all werewolves throws the wereprincess into the middle of a vast conspiracy, challenging the very foundations of what she’s been taught to believe.

Lychos Cycle is created by Patti Larsen, an EGlobal Creative Publishing signed author.

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Chapter 1: Princess Sharlotta
WEREGIRL Book One of the Lychos Cycle My paws don't even seem to touch the ground as I bound and race through the quiet forest. Muscles bunch and pull, the remains of my human form slowing me only slightly as I stretch out my gait and push myself to top speed. My front paws reach and grasp at the trees to propel me forward as my curved back legs churn faster. There are times I wish wearing the true form of a wolf wouldn't steal my soul. Still, this hybrid human/beast shape has always served me well. Though I've laughed at Hollywood's attempt to recreate us for film, I have to admit they are very close to getting it right. Wind stings my eyes, trees whipping past. My claws rend gashes in the bark of an evergreen as I use it to alter course, the slingshot effect propelling me faster. Three bounds and I come to rest on a rotting stump, crouching, muzzle hanging open, tongue lolling to the side as I grin into the still air and wait for the return of night time birdsong. It doesn't take the local owls long to forgive my trespass, the who-who-who of their quiet communication so deep and beautiful to my wolf ears. The scent of dying vegetation mixed with the soft breath of coming fall filters through my sensitive nose, a winding pattern of scents carrying on the breeze. Prey animals, small and quick, poke their own noses out from under dying leaves before scurrying off to hide, not understanding I am not a threat. Moonlight filters through the towering branches, more than enough to illuminate my path. I hold my place as a grumpy wolverine snuffles his way past, out of respect for his touchy nature as much as my amusement at the way his round body, fattening for winter, waddles by. I love the forest, the ancient touch of it. I feel the most free here, unchained by titles and my grandfather's constant prodding. Fall is coming to Ukraine, another year winding into the next and I have, as of yet, to satisfy his need for an heir of my own to the throne of the werenation. A delicate shudder ruffles my fur as I think of my friends, Syd and Meira. I'm not the only one who has faced these demands to mate, to make more of me for the continuation of my line. My witch friends endured their own torments before finding their true love. I've felt the culmination of their desires in them both. Smelled it, the sweet and subtle scent of happy pheromones stirring their blood, and felt prickles of jealousy, quickly suppressed. I have no right to envy them. Both Hayle sisters have suffered long and terribly to find their happy endings. I sigh and adjust my clawed feet on the stump, bits of crumbling, decayed wood giving way with rustling patter over the leaves below. Yes, I've suffered, too. But my lot has always been decided for me, my suffering orchestrated by those in power over me. Until recently. And now, here I am, expected to simply abandon two decades of training and indoctrination, and accept I'm no longer the servant, but the served? Air snorts from my snout, puffs of mist cutting across my vision. I hadn't meant to think on these things tonight. This run was meant to clear my head, to be fun. I miss fun. As rare as it had been in my old life, it's even more precious now. Princess Sharlotta, heir to the werenation, must be sober and stoic, on the inside and the outside. But Charlotte Girard? She's had her share of fun. I shake my body, fur settling as I step off the stump and glide through the trees at a loping walk this time, unwilling to yet relinquish my werewolf form. I feel my most content in this shape, as though the woman I am is meant to be a beast, not a princess. But I find, at these times, I most miss my old life. Never the one I lived before I met Sydlynn Hayle. No, it's the one that came after I long for. I catch their scent before I spot them, drifting like ghosts through the trees toward me. The large, white female is in the lead, as usual, the pack alpha, a handsome gray with a huge head and the bushiest tail of any wolf I've ever seen, close at her side. The pack leaders halt near me, their family spreading out behind them. My muzzle vibrates as I growl a greeting and the lead pair rumble back a hello. I've never been able to fully communicate with them past a simple "how are you" and "goodbye", the language of wolves difficult for me in my half-human were shape. But they don't seem to mind, my little pack, often tracking me down when I emerge from the palace to take a run. They first made themselves known to me when I returned to the werecapital to accept the heir's throne, shortly after Syd healed us of the taint of the Black Soul sorcerers who created and controlled us. I scented the pack long before I met them that first time, a little nervous they might see me as their enemy, invading their territory. But, from the moment they emerged to greet me, they have shown me nothing but curiosity and kindness. The breeze picks up again, scent of a hot-blooded deer burning down my throat and firing my hunting instincts. The pack shifts as one, rising to their feet, waiting for me as though I am their real leader. I bow my upper body instead to the white female and her alpha and growl for them to proceed. Again I run, this time surrounded by the pack though I tower over them on my hind legs, feeling their heartbeats tied to mine, lost in the chase, the whisper of their paws over the ground, the sense of utter freedom and the savage need to run forever pounding like a drug through my veins. I could get lost in this, remain in my wereform forever and live among them, as one of them, content and blessed. Sharlotta. His deep voice breaks my joy, brings me to a bounding halt. I watch the pack go on without me, heart now heavy, the white wolf pausing to turn, watch me as I wave her on with one paw. Grandfather, I send, my tone as weighted as my corralled soul. You're late, he sends in return, the sense of him on his throne powerful, the staleness of the indoor air he breathes choking me as I hold my ground and absorb the quiet night, saving up for later. I look up at the moon, bark a soft curse into the air. The baby shower. Such an odd tradition my witch friends have, brought over from the normals they seem to do their best to avoid. Ethpeal is here waiting for you, Oleksander sends with gentle admonishment in his mental voice, tied to the pressure of his disappointment. I cower where I stand, whining softly into the cold night air, a puppy chastised by her leader. Forgive me. I spin and race at top speed back toward the palace, this run more frantic and erasing my excellent mood entirely. I return at once. We will be waiting, he sends. The final touch of his mind holds love and forgiveness, but not enough to salve the burning guilt now replacing my joy. I know better, that Ethpeal kindly agreed to come retrieve me and bring me to Wilding Springs so I can attend Meira's baby shower. And I'd forgotten, put my grandfather in an uncomfortable position. Still berating myself for my selfishness, I cross the threshold of the trees and onto the broad lawn of the palace, the bright lights within beckoning me on. ***

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