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Author: Rebecca Zanetti

Chapter 1



The big bad wolf was afraid of needles.

Mia Stone sat on the examination table, so still her weight didn’t wrinkle the protective paper. Did wolves need protective paper? Seemed unlikely. The thin parchment must’ve been in place just in case a human or two walked into the doctor’s office in Lost Lake, looking for medical help.

She kept her hand over the new bandage applied to her arm after giving blood. Again. “Are you sure you’re all right?” she asked.

Seth Volk lounged in a bright pink plastic chair by the door, his bulk overwhelming the seat. “I’m fine,” he growled.

It was a full-on, wolf shifter growl.

Yet, he didn’t look fine. He was pale beneath his normally bronze skin, and the pupils of his sharp blue eyes had dilated.

Dr. Sharon chortled from her position at the lime green counter as she carefully categorized Mia’s blood. Her stark white hair was up in a fancy bun, and her shoulders were only slightly stooped from age. “The boy has always gone faint when a syringe shows up. Funniest thing ever.” She turned, her brown eyes merry.

Seth cut her what Mia had dubbed his Alpha look, but the elderly doctor didn’t seem overly bothered by it. “What’s wrong with Mia?” he finally asked.

Dr. Sharon shrugged bony shoulders beneath a white lab coat. “I have no idea.”

Mia swallowed over a lump in her throat. “Um, Dr. Sharon? I noticed you don’t have any diplomas on your walls.”

The doctor snorted. “Diplomas? Why would I have diplomas?”

Mia finally shifted her weight, and the paper crinkled. “Because you’re a doctor?”

“Right,” Dr. Sharon said. “It’s probably more accurate to say I’m a healer. The practice has been handed down through my family each generation, and when it comes to wolves, I know it all. You’re not a wolf shifter, sweetie.”

Seth straightened, an air of tension rolling from his powerful body. His hair was jet-black, his body cut muscle, and his strike deadly. “Wolf shifters have mated humans many times through the years. Well, sometimes through the years.”

“It’s rare,” Dr. Sharon murmured. “The last human mate I can think of was Melissa Redbird. She seemed to do all right. But the only time she saw me was during childbirth and then for a broken arm or two before she died of cancer.”

Mia shook her head. “Mates of wolf shifters can die from cancer?”

“Yes, but it’s rare,” the doctor said.

Even so, come on. “You people are wolf shifters. How do you not have reams of data on genetics? On your genetics?”

Dr. Sharon’s white eyebrows lifted. “Why would we?”

“Because you’re different,” Mia breathed. “You turn into wolves and live twice as long as humans.”

“You’re different,” Dr. Sharon countered. “Humans are different. Wolves are just wolves, and we’ve never needed to study why. You want to know the difference between wolf shifters and humans, and we don’t. We don’t really care.”

Huh. What an odd thought...yet true. Wolves already had longevity and strength. It would be humans who benefited from figuring out the differences between the species. So why would the wolves spend time or resources studying genetics? She gingerly touched the healed bite mark on her neck. Seth Volk’s bite mark.

His eyes flared in a way that zinged butterflies throughout Mia’s abdomen. “She’s bitten and mated, right?”

“Absolutely,” Dr. Sharon said, following Mia’s movements. “That marking is deep and permanent.”

His gaze turned possessive…and heated.

Mia tried to ignore her body’s instant reaction to him. Lust and need.

Right now, she needed answers more than she did his sexy body. Even though the wolf shifters didn’t care about science, there had to be at least one of them with an ounce of curiosity. “There has to be somebody who just wants to find answers,” Mia prodded.

The doctor pursed her lips, visibly losing her amusement. “There is somebody, but you’re not going to like it.”

Seth didn’t twitch. “Explain.”

“There’s one healer who has tried to study our genetics. She’s a little eccentric but seems fairly smart. I’ve only spoken with her a few times the last several years, so I’m uncertain whether or not she’s still pursuing knowledge.” Dr. Sharon scrawled notes in a battered manila file folder and didn’t meet Seth’s gaze.

Mia released the cotton ball, noting she’d stopped bleeding. “Who is this wolf shifter healer?”

Dr. Sharon stopped taking notes. “Her name is Doc Luna.”

Seth’s dark brows drew down. “Luna? We don’t have a Luna.”

“I know,” the doctor murmured. “Luna is with the Copper Pack.”

“Terrific,” Seth muttered.

Mia sighed. Four mining packs comprised the Stope Packs Coalition of wolf shifters, and Seth was the Alpha of the Silver Pack. While the packs had apparently come together centuries ago to protect themselves against outside enemies, it seemed they were at war with each other right now. She’d mated Seth only a couple of weeks ago, and she hadn’t had time to really figure out the possible threats. “Can’t we just call and ask her?”

“No,” Seth said bluntly. “The Copper Pack has cut off all communications with us and is threatening war unless either Erik dies, or I do.”

Mia blinked. “I thought that was old news.” Erik was Seth’s younger brother, and wolf law dictated that only one of them could become Alpha of the pack when their father passed away. Erik had circumvented the rules by becoming engaged to the heiress of the Slate Pack, and Seth had stood up as the new Alpha.

It was a job he didn’t seem to be enjoying much, considering threats were still coming for his head.

Seth stretched his neck. “The Copper Pack doesn’t like the idea of a familial loyalty between the Silver and Slate Packs. We’re too strong together.”

Dr. Sharon nodded. “Yeah, not to mention that you’re genetically related to the Granite Pack.”

“Cousin Jackson wants me dead, as well,” Seth said. “Or Erik dead. They don’t like our relationship, either.”

Mia shook her head. “So, the Copper Pack thinks you’re too close to the Granite Pack, but the Granite Pack wants you dead anyway?” Just what kind of a world had she entered?

Seth lifted a powerful shoulder. “I don’t know if Jackson wants me dead now that I’m no longer a threat to his position as Alpha of the Granite Pack, but I’m sure he doesn’t like Erik and me both becoming Alphas. Potentially.” Seth had been born in the Granite Pack, but his mother had then mated the head of the Silver Pack, and their Alpha had adopted him. “I could take out Jackson, but I assume whoever steps up will be just as dangerous.”

Mia’s mouth gaped. “Or you could call him, you know, on the phone. Work things out diplomatically.”

Seth just stared at her, his unreal blue eyes deep and unfathomable. “That’s not how wolves work, baby.”

She reared up. “You’re not the Enforcer any longer, Volk. You’re the head of the so-called nation, and diplomacy is part of that skill set. Perhaps you should work on that?” She tried incredibly hard to keep the sarcasm out of her voice, but by the narrowing of his pupils, she didn’t entirely succeed.

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