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Wolf Council

Alex is now a werewolf, along with her new mate, Chris, but living the life of a werewolf isn't all fur and games.

The Wolf Council has been called to order, and the members have chosen Greylock Manor as the place for their meeting. That means a lot of werewolves who aren't particularly fond of each other are about to descend on the manor, and the Wolf Mountain pack have to be the referees in a dangerous and possibly deadly game of diplomacy.

If that wasn't enough trouble, something is amiss in the magical woods that surround the manor. A shadow hangs over the enchanted creatures, though none can say what lurks in the darkness. Worse, one of their own has gone missing, and the delicate balance of the forest is in danger of collapsing.

And in the middle of all that chaos is Alex and Chris. Together the pair must help their new pack keep the peace and piece together the danger that lurks in the woods, all while keeping their hands off each other long enough to do that.

Excerpt:

Who knew the werewolf world had such a complicated, and deadly, hierarchy?
First, however, I had to figure out the hierarchy of roots and my foot. The score was two-to-zero in favor of the tree roots, and as I tripped over my third one a sense of defeat began to settle over me.
I scowled at the back of my guide’s coat. “You’re sure you saw it over here?”
“Pretty sure.”
“How sure is pretty sure?”
“The area looks vaguely familiar.”
I snorted. “That’s because we’ve been on this path before. About ten minutes ago.”
My guide jerked to a stop so quickly that I ran into him. I wrapped my arms around his waist to keep from falling. Chris looked over his shoulder at me and grinned. “Here? Now?”
I rolled my eyes before I pushed off from him. “No and no. We’re supposed to be out in the middle of the woods looking for those mushrooms you saw, and the only part we’re getting right about that is we

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re out in the middle of the woods.”
My eyes explored the thick forest that stood around us. There wasn’t a sign that mankind existed, even among ourselves. After all, we were both a part of wolf-kind now.
Chris scrutinized the area, as well, and after a moment he furrowed his brow. “We have been here before, haven’t we?”
I pointed at the dusty ground beneath us. The loose dirt showed two pairs of tracks, our tracks, and they were ahead of us. “Pretty sure we have.”
Chris folded his arms over his chest and frowned. “I don’t remember the path turning in a circle.”
I snorted. “Remember that path that disappeared behind us when we were helping rescue Duncan? I’m pretty sure this forest has a sick sense of humor and we’re not in on the joke.”
A hint of a smile appeared on his lips. “In that case we are the joke, but the joke’s on the woods.” He stepped off the path and strode toward a large tree.
I snatched his arm and yanked him to a stop. “What are you doing?”
He glanced over his shoulder at me and jerked his head toward the tree. “The mushrooms. They’re just over there.”
My eyes flickered over the silent woods. “Greylock, I mean, Ethan told us not to go off the path. Even he didn’t know what would happen if we got lost in here.”
Chris turned to me and set his hand on mine. “It’s just a few feet, but if you feel that way then watch my back.”
“I’ll do better than that,” I retorted as I grabbed his belt.
Chris’ eyes widened. “Wait, seriously?”
I could see a slight flush of embarrassment on his cheeks along with a flicker of hope in his eyes. “Keep your mind out of the gutter for a few minutes,” I scolded him as I unbuckled his belt and pulled it off him. I grabbed the leather in both hands, clenched my teeth, and focused all my werewolf strength in my arms.
My reward was a tiny tear in one end of the leather, and then nothing. I lifted the tear up to my face and frowned. “Damn.”
Chris’ eyes twinkled with mischief. “Is there a reason why you hate my belt so much, other than the obvious one?”
I held out the belt to him. “I wanted to make a rope out of thin strips, but it looks like I haven’t trained my inner dog to obey me yet.”
Chris took the belt and grasped it as I had done. In one quick motion he tore the leather in two. He held one strip out to me. “Hold this.”
I took the piece with a glare. “That’s cheating.”
The corners of his lips raised higher as he tore the strap into more strips. “How?”
“Because reasons.”
Chris chuckled as we traded strips and he created ripped the half piece in two. “Your logic baffles me as much as your beauty.”
“What did I tell you about flattery?” I scolded him as I tied the pieces together.
“That it brings a lovely shade of red to your cheeks?” he teased as he did the same with his own strips.
“That lovely shade wants to stay lovely, and-” I took his strips and tied them together, creating a rope some fifteen feet long, one end of which I held out to him “-that means wrapping this around your waist and coming back to me, with or without the mushrooms.”
He grasped the end, but leaned down and pecked a light kiss on my lips. “And leave you alone to warm a bed all by yourself? Not a chance.”
The heat on my cheeks increased, but I gave a light push against his chest. “Just go get those fungi so we can get out of here. All this quiet gives me the creeps.”
Chris gave me a salute and spun on his heels to face the shrooms. He marched into the woods with his tether about his waist and the other end firmly clasped in my hands. I may not have had the strength to tear the leather, but I sure as hell had the determination to keep a hold of him.
Chris reached the small pile of mushrooms without incident and plucked them from the ground. As he did so a faint wind rustled the leaves over my head. I tilted my head and looked up at the dancing leaves. They waved back, but the hairs on the back of my neck told me it was more a flailing warning than a friendly hello.
“Chris,” I whispered as I returned my attention to him. “I think you should hurry.”
He stood with a bag of his treasures and frowned. “What’s wrong?”
I shook my head. “I’m not sure, but I get the feeling the forest doesn’t like you trespassing.”
Chris hurried back to me and as he stepped a foot back on the path I let out my first breath since he’d stepped off. That’s when an unfamiliar scent, brought by the slight breeze, hit my nostrils.
I paused and frowned. “Do you smell that?”
Chris lifted his nose and after a moment of sniffing he shook his head. “No, but your sense of smell is still stronger than mine. What do you smell?”
I wrinkled my nose. “It smells like an old chair that’s been sitting in an old lady’s house for about fifty years.”
Chris smiled. “So it smells like lemons and stale saltines?”
“With a hint of cookies, but the ones with raisins,” I added.
His eyes twinkled. “I happen to like raisins on cookies.”
I folded my arms over my chest and sadly shook my head. “Pity. And here I thought you had good taste.”
Chris wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me against his chest. His smile curled into a rather lecherous one. “I think I have very good taste.”
A rush of heat raced down my body. Chris leaned down and pressed our lips together in a long, lustful kiss. His free hand reached around and stroked my butt. I leaned into the sensual touch and a moan escaped me.
A twig snapped behind me.
I spun around and Chris stiffened at my back. Duncan stepped out of the brush with his hands clasped behind his back and a whistle on his lips. His eyes fell on us and he feigned surprise. “Why, there you two are! I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”
I snorted rolled my eyes, but a low, deep growl rumbled from Chris’ throat. His low, irritated voice brushed past me. “What’s needed?”
Duncan grinned. “We have a guest who wants to meet the two new members of our family.”
I arched an eyebrow. “Do you guys often have guests?”
He shook his head. “Not often, and this one is even more special.” He jerked his head in the direction of the manor. “But you’ll find out.” He turned and walked back into the woods.
I looked up at Chris who shrugged. “I guess we should go find out.”
We hurried after our new protege and soon reached the luxurious lawn of Greylock Manor. The house was bathed in the soft glow of twilight as the sun set in the distance. I paused and admired the view of the light through the treetops.
Chris stopped beside me and I smiled up at him. “I don’t think I’m ever going to get tired to this view.”
His eyes were ever on me as he grinned. “Me, either.”
I snorted and pushed my hand against his chest. “There you go with that flattery again.”
He leaned down and brushed his lips against my ear. “You deserve it.” My cheeks glowed like a pair of forest fires in the dead of night.
“Come on, you two!” Duncan called from the front stoop. “We can’t keep the emperor waiting.” He slipped inside.
I wrinkled my nose. “The emperor?” I repeated as I noticed a fancy Rolls Royce parked in the circular driveway. The driver, complete with cap and studded jacket, leaned his butt against the hood.
Chris and I looked at each other before we both shrugged and passed through the door Duncan had left open. We found our pack settled, or rather, unsettled about the living room furniture. Duncan and Bonnie stood behind the couch while Greylock draped one arm over the mantel.
Seated before them in the largest chair available was a man of some seventy years old, but from the hairy scent I got off of him I guessed he was a werewolf of some greater vintage than those lines on his face showed. He wore a heavy blue business overcoat over a trim business suit of roughly the same color. His black shoes were shined to a reflective polish and the little bit of white hair that covered his head was combed back over the top.
At our coming he smiled at us and he spoke with a slight English accent. “These must be your two new members.”
Greylock pushed off from the mantel and leaned on his cane. “They are. Christopher Dayton and Alexandra Shaw, may I introduce you to Lord Warren Brix, leader of the Wolf Council.”
Brix inclined his head to us. “It is a pleasure to meet both of you, and to know that Ethan’s pack has grown in number with two such fine additions as yourselves.”
Greylock arched an eyebrow. “You flatter all of us, Lord Brix, but I must wonder what brings you to the manor after such a long absence.”
Brix chuckled. “Can an old friend not visit from time to time?”
“Not when the meeting of the council is due in only a few days time,” Greylock countered.
The leader of the council sighed. “I see nothing gets past your sharp mind.”
Greylock smiled. “Or the dates on my calendar.”
Brix pursed his lips. “That is precisely the matter on which I have come. I would like you to host the council.”

COLLAPSE

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