My pounding head spins as I look around at my surroundings and I instantly regret drinking so much. Panic courses through me when I can’t immediately recognize my surroundings. I can tell I'm in a room; the light coming in through the window is blinding as I try to figure out where I am. The last thing I remember is the annual Alpha meet-up, a costume party I attended with my family. My sister and I snuck off to meet with the other future Alphas—my father is always insisting I need to 'get in good with them', seeing as I am next in line and will have the pack handed over to me at the end of the year I turn eighteen. Yet, for the life of me, I can’t remember how I got into this room.
I groan, rubbing my eyes and hoping I'm seeing s**t properly—the alcohol burning in my system is still making me confused. When I try to roll over though, suddenly I become aware of the heavy arm draped over my waist. My head whips to the side, praying that the heavy arm belongs to my sister and we have both passed out somewhere. But my worst fears are realized, and I try to contain my scream of horror when I find a naked man lying beside me. He isn’t just any man either, but the 'Blood Alpha' himself, Alpha Valen of the Nightshade Pack. This man owns half the city and is from a rival pack.
My father is going to murder me if he finds out!
“f**k!” I whisper under my breath before looking down to find myself also naked. The slight discomfort between my legs makes me painfully aware that I tossed my virginity out the window and have absolutely no memory of it. So much for that being a magical moment. He must be a s**t lay, I chuckle to myself. Of all people, it had to be him.
My phone vibrates on the floor beside the bed, causing me to nearly dive off to retrieve it. My sister’s face pops up on the screen. I quickly answer it, whispering into the phone, mindful to keep my voice low. “Hello?”
“Where are you? Dad is going to lose it. I told him you’re with me, but he's asked me to come home!” she shrieks through the phone. I glance around before looking out the window, trying to figure out my location. s**t. I realize I’m still at the hotel where the Alpha meet was held.
“Still at the Banks hotel,” I whisper, and she pauses, going quiet for a few moments.
“Oh my God, please tell me you didn’t f**k Alpha dickwad?” she whispers, knowing dad will kill me—probably even disown me—if he ever finds out. Alpha Valen’s reputation is scandalous and terrifying. I look over at the Greek God lying in bed beside me, completely passed out and unaware of me standing gawking at him. I would love to see the horror on his face when he wakes up, but he just might get in line behind my father and kill me, too. s**t, they may even conspire together to make my death exceptionally horrific.
“No, of course not. I just fell asleep in one of the rooms here, completely alone,” I lie, hoping Ava believes me. I won’t get her caught up in my minor issue if Dad asks her; she sucks at lying. She doesn’t know she can’t get in trouble because of me.
“Shut it. Dad asks, tell him you stayed with Amber and me. I'll have Amber pick you up on the way; be there in five,” she says, hanging up.
I quickly look around, scooping my clothes up off the floor and squeezing into the skin tight little dress. I toss the stupid-ass fairy wings in the trashcan in the bathroom.
Looking in the mirror, I try to fix my makeup—my face is still covered in ridiculous amounts of glitter, and the eye mask that was painted on my face by my sister still conceals half my face. I chuckle to myself, knowing the Alpha will probably wake up just as confused as me and wonder why he is covered in glitter.
I vaguely remember talking to him, finding myself drawn to him for some reason. But now, as I gaze upon his paralyzed form, I can’t help but wonder who took advantage of whom.
I give him one last glance, scoop up my heels, and grab my clutch purse before rushing to the hotel door and swinging it open, only to crash straight into Alpha Valen’s Beta. I smack into his chest, and he stumbles back, staring at me.
I recognize him from last night’s introductions, though thankfully, he seems to have no idea who I am, as I was at the back of the room when he was introduced. I'm grateful for the paint on my face because he might have recognized me as my father’s daughter without it, and that is the last thing I need.
He smirks at me, clearly finding it funny that I am running from the Alpha’s hotel room.
“My Alpha in there?” he asks. I drop my head, hoping he doesn’t recognize me and quickly nod. I step past him, trying not to touch him.
“Are you alright, or do you need a ride home?” he asks, making me stop.
“What, do you give all your Alpha’s one-night stands a ride home?” I chuckle at him, and he smiles.
“Only the pretty ones,” he says, and I roll my eyes, waving him off before taking off to meet my sister. We need to hurry home before my dad sends out a search party to run through Mountainview City to retrieve his daughters.
3 weeks later
That was all it took to throw away everything I have ever known. I knew something was wrong when I felt a bit under the weather for more than a few days. Werewolves rarely get sick. Finally, after spending the last week sick, my father—Alpha of Shadow Moon Pack—had dragged me off to see the pack doctor.
Our home, Mountainview City, is entirely populated by werewolves comprising four packs. My father’s pack is the second-largest pack, which means we're held in fairly high esteem in the area. Plus, the fact that he only has two daughters means that I, as the eldest, am next in line.
Well, I was until the Doctor came back into the exam room after running some tests and turned that dream upside down. The look of disappointment on my father’s face makes my heart clench. One night, one man, the biggest mistake of my life.
“She is pregnant.”
I feel my heart sink into my stomach. No, I can’t be. I only had s*x once, and I don’t even remember because I was trashed. How the hell could this be happening? My father casts a stunned look at me from where he sits before returning his gaze to our pack doctor.
“It’s wrong; rerun the test. She hasn’t found her mate. She can’t be pregnant,” my father says. I shrink back in my chair. I'm only seventeen, nearly eighteen, and the number one rule all she-wolves have drummed into our heads is to save ourselves for our mates. This is a huge deal, especially to my father. This would bring shame to our family, that I would break the one sacred rule for she-wolves. Sure, the men fool around (a little bias anyone?) yet if we do it—especially someone like me in a position of power—it's frowned upon. I would be a disgrace to the family.
“Alpha, I have tested the urine sample twice,” Doc Darnel tells him, but my father shakes his head, not believing his words—or not wanting to.
“No, test it again; it is wrong. My daughter is not a rogue w***e,” he says, finality in his voice.
I cringe at his words: a woman who falls pregnant to someone that is not their mate. It's the worst thing to be labeled besides a traitor, though they're treated the same.
Rogue whores are forbidden on pack lands, only allowed on neutral territory: the main drag of the city and the two streets behind it on either side. Most she-wolves that fall pregnant in other cities are banished like they do with those that betray or commit treason amongst the packs; forsaken wolves. Without any pack contact, they turn feral, sending them crazed and mad, and are forced to live outside the cities. No one wants to be on their own out there. It isn’t safe, and not how anyone wants to live.
Our city is different. We don’t banish women from the city. Our treatment is slightly more… humane, I guess you could say. Instead, we just make them rogues, free to go about their lives, but without pack help. I used to look down on them—those women I would see trying to make ends meet for their 'poor choices'. Maybe this is my karma; I'm soon going to be one of them.
Running through this scenario in my head, the room starts to feel like it's running out of air. I wonder if I'm going to pass out.
“Yes, Alpha, I will test it again,” Doc Darnel says before rushing out of the room and away from my father’s deadly glare. My father starts pacing, and my heart rate quickens when he stops, turning to face me.
“He has to be wrong; you are not like that. You wouldn’t shame me this way,” he says, looking for confirmation. I shrink back in my chair. The Doc coming back in again stops him from saying more.
“The results are the same, Alpha,” Doc says before looking at me with pity.
I swallow, staring wide-eyed at the pack doctor, hoping he can save me from my father’s wrath, but even I know the elderly, graying man is no match for my father.
Neither am I, since I still haven’t shifted.
After shifting on our eighteenth birthday, we can find our mates. I have seen friends and family go through it. It is considered sacred. I wonder, terrified, how much being pregnant will delay the process. Bodies can’t shift while pregnant; it is a safety mechanism to protect the unborn pup.
My father growls, turning on his heel and glaring at me, his fists clenched by his sides as he fights the urge to shift. Often, werewolves shift when they lose their temper or are preparing for a fight. Despite how hard he's trying, he's still barely holding back, his eyes starting to flicker black and his body trembling in his anger.
My father has always been so proud of my sister and me, always showing us off and telling everyone about what great daughters we are and what a great Alpha I will be when I take over the pack. I look like him—dark hair and bluish-gray eyes, I got those traits from him—and he raised me in his image, preparing me to take over. But right now, with my face mirrored in his wolf's black orbs, he looks on the verge of killing me. I have never seen him so angry in his life, and that is saying something.
“How far along is she?” Father asks. The venom in his words makes my blood run cold.
“We can have an ultrasound done next week to confirm gestation,” Doc tells him, and I look at my hands.
“No, do it now so we can take care of it before word gets out. I won’t have a rogue w***e for a daughter. This is not to get out, do you understand, Doc?”
Doc nods his head nervously.
Vaguely, I notice my mouth is hanging open as I stare, absolutely gobsmacked at what my father just said. It's going against the Moon Goddess to abort a baby!
“Wait!” I say, finally finding my voice. My father looks at me and the Doc moves away from him when he feels my father’s aura rush out.
“Wait for what? You aren’t keeping this monstrosity. We can sweep it under the rug, no one has to know, and you can still take the Alpha position; we just need to take care of this poor choice, then things can go back to normal,” my father says. He makes it sound so simple, like this isn’t a sin against the Moon Goddess.
“No. I can’t do that, Father. Please, just let me speak to mom. We can work this out,” I plead with him.
“No, you will terminate the pregnancy, then we go home. Doc, get whatever it is you need. I am not leaving this office until this is taken care of,” my father says.
I feel tears brimming at his words. Sure, I didn’t want to be pregnant, but I am not a murderer; aborting a pregnancy is worse than having a child with someone who is not your mate.
“Alpha, I am afraid if your daughter isn’t willing, I can’t perform such a thing unless there is a medical reason.”
“She is willing, isn’t that right, Everly?” my father says, trying to force me to agree, but I meet his gaze head-on. My mind is made up; I won’t go through with it.
“No!” I tell him, not expecting his following reaction. In all my life, my father has never hit me, never raised a hand to me, and the shock of his action is more painful than the blow itself as his hand connects with the side of my face. I can feel the outline of his fingers etched into my cheek as a burning sensation spreads across it from his palm.
“Then you are no longer my daughter,” he says and walks out of the room.