Love, longing, a place in the world. Each day brings a new challenge to Sophie, the unwilling female to the handsome alpha male named Erik. Her mother-in-law suggests an outing across the island to teach the future Lady Greenwood about the werewolf world. Sophie finds a familiar face among the rough Guards, and they find trouble as someone on Wolf Island informs them just how much they dislike the new mates to the powerful wolves.
“I’d be more useful to both of us in the library,” he reminded me.
“So would I, but misery loves company, so you’re coming,” I demanded.
“I will tell your parents to expect you both,” Greg spoke up.
Erik spun around and glared at his servant. “You would follow her orders over mine, Gregory?”
Greg smiled and shook his head. “No, my Master, I would never do such a thing.”
“Good, then you will tell my parents-”
“That they will expect you both.” Greg slipped into the open door and grabbed the large metal handle. “I will do that immediately, my Master.” Erik opened his mouth, but Greg stepped into the hall and shut the door behind him.
“Gregory! Gregory!” Erik shouted. I burst out laughing. Erik spun around and glared at me. “You have already instigated a mutiny in my servant.”
I held up my hands. “I didn’t do anything. He’s the sassy servant.”
Erik pursed his lips and ran a hand through his hair. “Damn it. . .” he muttered.
I nodded at the closed door. “How long have you known that guy, anyway?”
Erik cast a dark look over his shoulder at the entrance. “All my life, such as it is.”
“That sounds very brooding. So like you,” I quipped as I hopped out of bed. I made sure to bring some sheets with me to the dresser.
He raised an eyebrow. “I do not brood. I contemplate.”
I snorted. “You brood like a dark hero in a bad romance novel.” I rummaged through the drawers.
“The bottom one,” he told me.
I scowled at him. “I was getting there.” I knelt and opened the drawer. It held a wide assortment of clothes except they were all dresses. I picked one up and held it out to him. “Really? All dresses?”
“It’s traditional,” he explained.
I scowled, tossed the dress into the drawer and slammed it shut with my foot. “Well, time for tradition to die.” I opened the top drawers that held his clothes and swiped a shirt and pants.
“Those are mine!” he reminded me.
“Not any more.” I dashed to the bed with my swiped treasures and dropped them on the covers. I glanced over my shoulder and spun one of my fingers in a circle. “Turn around.”
“I’ve seen everything-”
“Yes, and I know what you do when you see everything, now spin it,” I ordered him. He pursed his lips, but turned away from me. I quickly dropped the bed sheet and slipped into his clothes. “All right, you can look,” I told him.
Erik turned and sighed. The sleeves dangled over my hands and the pants dragged along the floor. “Those do not fit you,” he pointed out.
“So I’ve noticed, but I’m not getting into another dress so I can drowned in it,” I argued.
“You wouldn’t have been drowning if you hadn’t left the room,” he countered.
I crossed my arms and the sleeves flapped against me. “I wasn’t going to stay here with a brooding-”
“-sullenly contemplative guy who said he couldn’t wait to get rid of me,” I snapped.
“We’ve remedied that situation, though, haven’t we?” he mused.
I narrowed my eyes and pointed a flopping sleeve at him. “For now, but no more funny stuff about how I’m useless or anything like that. I’m plenty useful.”
He raised an eyebrow. “How?”
“I-um, I can-um. . .I can think of plans to escape!” I insisted.
Erik pursed his lips and turned away from me. “There is that question, isn’t there?” he murmured.
I blinked at him. “What question?”
He paced the floor in front of the buffet and entrance. “Boats are strictly regulated among the islands to prevent their being spotted by outsiders,” he explained. “The boat you found didn’t have the insignia of a full moon on the starboard side of the bow.”
“What’s that mean?” I asked him.
“The full moon shows the boat has been licensed by the Council,” he told me.
I frowned. “So you’re saying I found an illegal boat or something?”
“So what’s that mean?”
He shook his head. “I can’t figure it out, but I’ll discuss it with my father during this ‘family breakfast.’”
I held up my long sleeves. “Think I’m overdressed?”
He snorted. “I believe you are something, but we will ask Greg to see to the changes.” He stopped his pacing and pulled the cord.
“Greg? What’s he got to do with my long sleeves?” I asked him.
“Gregory is proficient in a number of useful skills,” Erik explained.
Greg soon made his entrance, and he bowed to both of us. “Your parents are expecting you at any moment,” he told us.
Erik gestured to me. “We have a problem.”
Greg looked past his master and grinned at me. “I see your point, my Master. She isn’t quite your size.”
“Can you fix it in a short time?” Erik asked him.
Greg strode up to me and lifted a limp sleeve. “Yes, but only with pins and needles. A permanent fix will have to come later when I have more time.”
“Think you can fix up a couple more outfits for me while we’re eating?” I pleaded.
Greg smiled and bowed his head. “Of course. I will use any spare clothes of my Master.”
Erik frowned. “Spare only,” he emphasized.
“Of course, my Master. Is there anything else you wish of me?” Greg wondered.
“I wish to speak with you after the breakfast,” Erik told him.
Greg bowed his head. “Then I will await your return here.”
“Good. Now get to your fixing so Father won’t throw himself into a tantrum,” Erik commanded him.
Greg pulled a small, thin wallet from inside his shirt and opened the flap to reveal a small collection of needles and pins. He studied me and pulled out several of the smallest. “Please hold still, Sophie, or this will hurt.” I cringed and held still. He knelt in front of me and tugged at my sleeves. “Raise your arms. That’s it. Don’t hold your breath. I want this to breathe on you. Face forward.”
“You’re making this hard to hold-ouch!” I yelped.
Greg looked up and his eyes shone with mischief. “I must ask that you not speak. It ruins my concentration.”
“Concentration my ass. . .” I mumbled.
Greg finished his work in a few minutes and stepped back. “There. Drop your arms, please.” I dropped my arms and he looked me over. The sleeves were now rolled up into themselves to hide the rolls and the same was done to the cuffs of my pants. The waist was pinned tight with a pin and the bottom hem of the shirt was partially tucked into the waist so it billowed down over the waist pin. “Yes, I think that will do,” he commented.
“Splendidly, as always, but now we should go,” Erik insisted. He offered me his arm, and I took it.
“Master, you do know your father won’t approve of this fine new uniform for your mate, don’t you?” Greg pointed out.
Erik turned us towards the door, but paused and glanced over his shoulder. His lips sported a grin. “I’m counting on that.”
I rolled my eyes and Erik led me from the room.
“You and your dad have some strange ways of playing with each other,” I commented as we walked down the hall.
“I suppose you could call it a sort of a game. We’ve always been at odds, or rather, if he was even I sought to be odd, and vice versa,” Erik mused.
“So a pissing match?” I guessed.
Erik snapped his head to me and blinked. “What?”
I rolled my eyes. “You know, like dogs and marking their territory.”
He snorted and looked ahead of us. “That’s a very apt description.”
I glanced around us. “Speaking of descriptions, are you sure this is the right hall to the dining room? I don’t think I’ve been down this one.” The walls of the stone hall were covered in old portraits of men and women dressed in ranging from the early twentieth-century to the fifteenth. “And who are these people?”
“We are in the hall of the kings, and these are my ancestors,” Erik told me.
“Well, at least you didn’t stuff them,” I mused. I stopped in front of a particularly stoic fellow with a frown and a deep, black beard. I jerked my head at the painting. “What’s his problem?”
“That was my great-grandfather. He was-well, very severe,” Erik admitted.
“It looks like a doctor shoved a snake up his butt and forgot to get it out,” I quipped.
Erik pursed his lips and shook his head. “Nothing so medicinal. He was still alive when one of his grandsons was sentenced to death for treason.”
“You mean Blackwood’s dad?” I guessed, and he nodded.
I leaned towards the painting and squinted. “That’s some old clothing he’s wearing.” The gentleman wore a waistcoat with frills on the sleeves and at the neck. He showed off a white pair of breeches and buckled shoes.
“He wore that long after it went out of style,” Erik explained.
“Well, I know where we are now, but why did you take me through here?” I wondered.
“Because the halls chose this to be our path,” he told me.
I turned and blinked at him. “The halls?”
He nodded. “Yes, the halls.”
“I’m afraid I don’t follow.”
“But we must follow the halls.”
“Okay, now you’re just teasing me. What the hell are you talking about?”
“Do you recall that I told you the Dens were contrived by a madman?” he asked me.
“Because he enchanted the halls so we would be led to where we needed to be,” he revealed.
I leaned forward and sniffed his breath. “You sure you haven’t been drinking?”
He sighed. “Why do you doubt the existence of supernatural elements when you yourself are one?”
“Because Denial is a really long river to swim upstream to Acceptance Junction,” I retorted.
“Whether you accept it or not, the halls change with every passing.”
I stepped away from him and held up a hand. “So let me get this straight. There are rat people below ground who helped build the Old Den-”
“And there are witches, one of whom enchanted the fog around the islands-”
“And now you’re telling me some mad wizard architect made a building where the halls tell you where to go, and not the other way around?”
“He was an alchemist, but yes.”
I threw up my arms. “Of course he was. How stupid of me to think he was a wizard.”
“It’s an honest mistake.”
My mouth dropped open and I tilted my head to one side to look at him askew. “Are you seriously telling me all of this is true?”
“I am because it is.”
I ran a hand through my hair. “What next? A supervillian with an inflated ego?”