Chapter 1–the alpha of the river
All he could see was mist.
Everywhere he looked, there were shuddering bodies. Membership change. Mouths that moan
I ran through a forest, panting, trying to escape the carnal ghosts that surrounded me and seemed to be summoning me. Saying, join us...
But the further I went into the forest, the darker and more alive the forest became.
Some trees swayed like lovers. Others, with gnarled roots and spindly branches, looked like predators. Getting closer to me Running after me.
Something in the dark was chasing me. Something inhuman.
And now the mouths did not moan. They were screaming.
At any moment, the darkness would catch me.
He was going to strangle me.
When I felt a root snake wrap around my leg, I tripped and fell into a hole in the middle of the forest. But it was not a hole.
it was a mouth With sharp teeth and a black tongue, licking its lips, about to swallow me whole.
I tried to scream, but I had no voice.
Until I was one with the violent, lust-filled madness... completely consumed.
I blinked. What the hell was she drawing?
Sitting by the river, sketchbook in hand, I stared in disbelief at my own handiwork. He had drawn a very disturbing vision... and animalistic.
That could only mean one thing: the Mist was coming.
But before thinking about the fog or my drawing, the sound of nearby laughter distracted me. I turned to see a group of girls surrounding him.
I've never seen it here before. Not on the river bank where I go to draw and relax. You don't find many of our kind around here.
Because? I don't know.
Maybe it's the calm when we're always expected to be wild. Maybe it's the water when each one of us burns with fire inside.
Or maybe it's just a place I've always considered my own.
A secret place where I'm not one of the pack. Where it's just me, Sienna Mercer, a nineteen-year-old redheaded self-taught artist. A seemingly normal girl.
The Alpha walked towards the water, ignoring the group of girls that followed him. It seemed that he wanted to be left alone. It made me curious. It made me want to draw it.
Of course, I knew it was a risk to design the Alfa. But how could I resist?
I started outlining it. At six feet tall with shaggy black hair and golden-green eyes that seemed to change color every time he turned his head, Aiden was the definition of appetizing.
He was starting to work on those eyes when he turned his head and sniffed.
I froze, feather hit in the middle. If he saw me now, if he saw what I was drawing...
But then, to my relief, he looked back at the water, lost again in some dark reverie. Even surrounded by others, the Alpha seemed lonely. So I drew it myself.
I always watched him from afar. I have never been so close. But now she could see how his biceps bulged out of his shirt, how his spine curved to match his transformation.
How fast could it change, I wondered. Bent over, with scrutinizing eyes like those of a wild animal, he seemed, in this case, already halfway.
A man, yes. But even more so, a werewolf.
Her beauty reminded me that the Haze was fast approaching. It was the time of year when all werewolves over the age of sixteen went mad with desire, the season when everyone, and I meanall- He does it like crazy.
Once or twice a year, that unpredictable hunger, that physicalneedit would infect all of us in the pack.
Those without partners found a temporary partner instead and played as much as they wanted.
In other words, there was no one in the pack older than sixteen who was a virgin.
Looking at Aiden now, I wondered if the rumors swirling around him were true.
If that was one of the reasons she was here, ignoring the girls, meditating on the riverbank.
Some said that Aiden hadn't slept with a woman in months, that he was distancing himself from everyone.
Because? A secret companion? No, pack gossip would have found her out by now.
So what was it? What would happen to our beloved Alpha if he didn't have a mate when the Mist struck?
It's none of your business, I scolded myself. What do I care who Aiden fucked?
He was ten years older, and like most werewolves, he was only interested in someone his own age.
To Aiden Norwood, the Alpha of America's second largest pack, I didn't exist. My high school crush aside, I knew it was for the best.
Michelle, my best friend, was determined to find me a "friend." She had already mated beforehand, as was common among unmated wolves before the Mists.
Trying to get in touch with three of her brother's friends, all of whom seemed perfectly decent and who were frank in saying they thought I was fit for a good time in bed, Michelle couldn't understand why I turned them down. to all. . .
"Whoa." I could almost hear Michelle's voice reverberating in my head.
"Why are you always so picky girl?"
Because the truth is that he had a secret.
At nineteen, I was the only virgin wolf in the entire pack. I went through three seasons, and as crazy as I got, I had never given in to my carnal desires.
I know. Very anti-wolf of me to worry about "feelings" and "scoops" but I did enjoy my own.
Not that I was a prude. In our society, there was no such thing. But unlike most girls, I refused to settle until I found my match.
I was going to look for it.
I was saving my virginity for him.
I continued drawing the Alpha when I looked up and saw, to my surprise and sudden awe, that it wasn't there.
"Nothing bad." I heard a low voice next to me. "But the eyes need a little work."
I turned to see, standing next to me, looking at my sketch...
Before I could catch my breath, he looked up, and our eyes met. I tensed, realizing she was making direct eye contact, and immediately looked away.
No one in their right mind dared to look the Alpha in the eye.
That could only mean one of two things: You were challenging the Alpha's dominance, aka a death wish. Or you were inviting Alpha to do it.
Since I had no intention of doing either, my only option was to look away before it was too late and pray that he didn't misinterpret the meaning of my gaze.
"Forgive me," I said softly, just to be on the safe side. "You took me by surprise".
"I apologize," he said. "I didn't mean to scare you."
This voice. Even saying the politest words imaginable, they sounded fraught with menace. Like at any second, it can rip your throat out with its human-shaped bared teeth.
"Okay," he said. "Really. I don't bite…most of the time."
He was so close that she could reach out and touch his rippling muscles and golden skin. I raised my eyes and risked a glance.
A brutish, jagged face that shouldn't be pretty but was. Thick brows that felt rough to the touch, like a hint of his werewolf form.
And a nose, albeit slightly crooked-no doubt broken in some past fight-that didn't interfere with their wandering glances.
The Alpha took a step closer as if to test me. I could feel every hair on my body stand up with restlessness. Or... was it temptation?
"Next time you draw me," Aiden said, "come closer."
"Oh…okay," I stuttered like an idiot.
And then, just as quickly as he appeared, Aiden Norwood turned and walked away, leaving me alone by the river. I sighed, feeling every muscle in my body relax.
It wasn't an everyday event to see the Alpha outside the Pack House, the headquarters of all the pack's businesses. Mainly, we saw Alpha at meetings or dances. Always something formal.
What happened here today was weird.
He could already see by the envious looks from Aiden's admirers who followed him here, only to be ignored, that this could quickly get out of hand.
Even a hint of interaction with a woman, especially a young commoner like me, would be enough to send the hungriest of women into a frenzy, breaking down the walls of the Pack House just to taste it.
An event of this magnitude would certainly stress Alpha. And a stressed alpha meant a dysfunctional alpha, which meant a dysfunctional pack... you get the point.
Nobody wanted that.
I decided, with the little light that was left of the day, I would finish drawing to clear my mind. Just me and the river in peace.
But all I could see were Aiden Norwood's eyes.
And how badly he had drawn them. The Alpha was right. He could do better.
If only I could be... closer. But when would she ever be this close again?
I didn't know then what I know now. That within a few hours the Haze was about to start.
That I was about to become a beast. And that Aiden Norwood, the Alpha of the East Coast Pack, would play a huge role in my awakening...
It was enough to make a girl howl.