Liviana Sandulf-Drake is on the run. She left the oppressive rule of her pack after her grandfather's death. Her goal is to find a home out west without restrictions made by people who don't understand what it means to be a werewolf. Livy just wants to be free for the first time in years.
Oliver Pines is the Beta for the Sawtooth Pack in central Idaho. While on vacation, he is targeted by hunters who have been hired to kill him and all ranked members of his pack. He is the strongest fighter in his pack and wants nothing more than to keep it safe.
When the strange she-wolf the hunters captured warns him about their plan, a friendship begins. Fate draws together two powerful protectors to right what was put wrong over a decade ago and save all supernaturals from the creation of the biggest threat they had ever faced. The Dread Wolf.
It was getting dark; I knew I didn’t have much longer until I could leave the cave that had been my refuge during the blazing summer day. Once the sun set, I would shift into my wolf form and head out. I loved running as my sleek, rust colored wolf and experiencing the world.
My travels were mostly confined to the pack free zones in the country. It was a bit of a hassle, because I would sometimes have to take an extra day or two to go around a pack’s territory, but it was worth it.
I didn’t want to risk making someone angry with me or trying to kill me. Or some male trying to claim me. It would happen to unmated rogues from time to time. I shuddered at the idea and walked to the entrance of the cave.
The forest below was beautiful in the early evening light. Trees stretched for miles and the pink/orange glow made them seem to shimmer. A soft breeze danced with strands of my long chestnut hair.
This was truly an amazing territory. It was too bad the cabins in the area were expensive. I felt like this was the type of place I’d love to live.
My goal was a town further out west with low cost properties. The town was dying and the town council worked with property owners to buy houses in disrepair and sell them at low prices. Their hope was to revitalize the town with new blood.
There was a little cottage on the outskirts of the dying town which was right in my price range. I would have enough money to get by and there were jobs available to help me make ends meet after I’d blown through my inheritance. A whole new life was waiting for me, and I couldn’t wait to start it.
After a while, I went back in to finish packing my bag and shift. My wolf was excited to see where the night’s travels would take us and what we would hunt. Neither of us worried about the fact that we were called ‘rogue’. It was better than the stiff, hierarchal disaster we left at home. Better than being forced to live how someone else wanted us to live.
Our pack should have been run by our Alpha, but something in him broke when the previous Alpha, my mother, died. He let the Council of Elders take over for a while, and it became permanent. The majority of the elders were human.
They created rules about behavior and activities that made our already difficult lives, more restrained and even harder. No hunting, no training unless you were a warrior or enforcer, no fighting, must stay in human form unless it was the full moon week.
We weren’t the wolves of folklore! Our shifting had never been tied to the moon. It was just much easier to hunt and play with the world was lit up by the full moon. That wasn’t even the worst of it. The worst was petitioning to mate.
For centuries, wolves found their mates and dived right into their lives together. The elders decided this was too rash. It didn’t matter that they’d done it themselves. Nor did it matter that young wolves still had those urges.
If you found your mate, you had to report it to the council and they would tell you when you could be together. Until then, you could court without marking. It was bullshit.
I watched my friends Kat and Ricky going half insane wanting to be together, but being told to court for two years, like humans might. It was driving young wolves out of the pack left and right. They would petition other packs and leave right after they were permitted to be mated. I wasn’t going to stick around to watch them kill my grandfather’s pack with prudish human propriety.
I stayed with my grandfather after turning eighteen. All I wanted was to spend as much time as possible with the man who’d raised me and cared for me since I was four. Since I lost everyone in a car accident.
He was my mother’s father and he loved me like I was his own. Grandpa Oliver was my entire world. Even though my father’s parents were still alive, he was the only one who understood me. He was the last of my family and the only person I knew would always fight for me.
After grandfather’s funeral, I packed a few clothing items, my phone, some pictures, and my bank card, then left before anyone could stop me. Nothing was tying me to the pack anymore. I was an only child and my last living relative there had just passed. Nearly all of my friends had either found mates and left, or just moved on when they turned eighteen.
As far as I knew, no one missed me, no one searched for me, no one even cared I was gone. I was free to be my own person and I would live as I desired. Even if it killed me. I knew exactly what I wanted in life and none of it revolved around pack struggles and mating. Absolutely none of it involved obeying others.
I picked up my bag and headed out. The air was still warm and a little heavy. I liked the dry heat that had started as I headed away from the forests of Tennessee and crossed the Mississippi River.
The lower humidity made being a wolf much easier. I didn’t have to stop as much. The nights would get chilly enough that I’d be grateful for my coat rather than cursing it.
Dawn found me across the state line of my new home. My heart leapt with excitement. I sniffed out the nearest town and headed in that direction.
I’d stay one day and night in a motel, then go buy my Greyhound ticket. The next leg of my journey would be by bus, because it cut through the Sawtooth Pack’s territory, then a night running as a wolf would have me in my new hometown. It couldn’t happen soon enough.
I stretched out in the hammock that was strung up near the small cabin. It was three days into a two-week vacation and it was bliss. At least, it was now.
The first day I’d been cagey. It was hard to go from being busy all the time to having nothing to do. The second day was much easier. Now, I was beginning to enjoy having no constraints on my time. Or, at least, that’s what I told myself.
Ben, my Alpha and best friend, said every ranked wolf in the pack was required to take at least two weeks off and away from pack business. It was done to protect our human minds from the burnout of working so much. All other wolves had vacations when they wanted, but the ranked wolves lived for our pack.
When the idea was proposed, I’d rolled my eyes. Geri, our Gamma, tested it. Geri took his mate and kids up to the Silverwood theme park. It was a vacation that a lot of wolves in our pack had, but we’d rarely get the chance to indulge in. He reported he felt much more relaxed and ready to work when he returned.
I waited until Ben and Mark had gotten their breaks. They had mates and families they wanted to spend time with. I didn’t have nor want a mate. I didn’t want anything pulling me from my duty to the pack.
So my vacation time was my own. My work was split between the Alpha and the Gamma. And I was ordered to stay away until my vacation was over.
I rented out the cabin in one of the nearby forests, that wasn’t in our pack’s territory. Ben insisted I have my vacation away from pack territory. It was the only way I wouldn’t be tempted to go to work.
He was right. I was a huge workaholic and would stay in my office for weeks sometimes, only ever leaving to train or eat. It had actually taken boarding off my office to get me to listen to their request.
Ben didn’t like giving orders to his friends if he could avoid it. I’d promised to obey his commands when Ben became Alpha. But when I wouldn’t leave, Ben had to issue the order.
I’d been bitter while packing and kept the mood going during the drive and all the way until sunset of my first day. Sitting on the porch, watching the moon rise over the tall trees while the sun set behind vibrant green mountains, was too beautiful to stay mad at.
Now, I was enjoying a lazy afternoon in the dappled shade of the trees surrounding the little two room cabin. The sounds of deer and rabbit wandering around made me a little hungry. Yesterday, I caught a nice plump rabbit for my dinner.
Meals at the pack house or while running with the pack, were often hurried and full of fights over food. Not that there was a lack of food, it was just the way of wolves. It was nice to take my time with a meal.
After some time in the hammock, I went back into the house to start preparing for dinner. I opened the windows to allow the breezes to cool the cabin. It was soothing to hear the buzz of the forest while I was inside.
Suddenly, there was a whisper from outside. It sounded like it was some ways off from the cabin, but I was certain it was directed at me. I focused on it to try and pick up more of what it was saying.
“Hide, hunters. Hide, hunters. Hide, please, Beta-boy.” The voice said urgently.
I entered the attic space from the closet and crawled to the vent slats at the front of the house. Settling down, I looked off in the distance. That wasn’t a familiar voice, but she sounded nervous.
“Do you need help?” I whispered through the gaps.
“No. I got this. Just get somewhere safe. Please.” She responded.
I sat as still as I could. If I had some idea of how many hunters, I could have gone into the woods to deal with them myself. Her voice was so compelling, I listened without thinking. In the distance, the sound of people walking through the thick underbrush started drawing near.