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Taken By The Alpha

By:Georgette St. Clair

Chapter One

Deep in the forests of Colorado, in a town which doesn’t appear on any human maps…

“I think we’re in trouble.” Joy’s tone was nervous as she glanced across the town square. “Hot-but-douchey alert at two o’clock.”

Katrina glanced across the square. “There’s no-one at two o’clock.”

Joy pointed a perfectly manicured finger across the broad sweep of green, past the white latticework gazebo where bands played in the summer, past the families sitting at picnic tables.

“That’s ten o’clock,” Katrina said impatiently. They didn’t have time for this. They needed to make this shopping trip a quick one and hurry back to their pack property, or things could get ugly. “I swear, woman, how does a shifter have such a bad sense of direction? You’d think - ” She froze. “Oh, cowflops.”

Joy was pointing at Maddox “Mad Dog” Killingworth, who was standing near the park benches on the far end of the town square, with half a dozen members of his pack.

Katrina felt a flutter of nervousness run through her. Yesterday Maddox, the Alpha of the Killingworth pack, had issued an edict saying that the Mordhaus pack was no longer allowed to visit Greenville – ever. They were banned. Apparently her stepfather’s nephews had gotten in to some kind of argument the last time they’d come to town, and because of that, Maddox had felt he had the right to actually ban her pack from town forever.

Except that was crap. Greenville had always been shared by both packs. It was the only shifter town within two hundred miles, and shifters tended to avoid human towns whenever possible – there was always the risk of exposure. Sure, the Mordhaus pack had enough resources on their land to live off of forever, but that wasn’t the point. They didn’t have grocery stores, clothing stores, coffee shops, movie theaters, book stores, gift shops, all the things that made life worth living.

She’d been waiting for her stepfather, Roman Coffman, to issue a Death Challenge since the moment they’d been told of the ban. She was surprised he hadn’t even addressed the issue with the pack yet; that kind of ban was a direct insult to Roman and his authority.

The Killingworth pack and her stepfather’s pack had been clashing more and more, ever since her stepfather took over. Property line disputes. Fistfights and barfights. Accusations of her pack’s alleged misbehavior in town, which Roman had explained were just excuses and lies intended to discredit them.

She looked across the square. How would she feel if her stepfather killed Maddox? A Death Match seemed inevitable; if not over the ban, then over something else, and soon. Roman couldn’t continue allowing Maddox to challenge his authority.

She’d known Maddox since high school, although because of their pack rivalry, she’d always avoided him – and admired from afar. He’d been the hot guy that all the girls swooned over, the sure bet to take over the Killingworth pack after his father passed away. And so he had.

Unfortunately, he was turning out to be an asshole and a bully, trying to assert his dominance and hem her pack in at every turn.

Who would win? Maddox was the only Alpha she knew of who might actually have a chance against her stepfather. So far, both her stepfather and Maddox were undefeated in every death challenge they’d taken place in. It would be a close contest.

Her mind flashed back to the Death Challenge that Roman had issued to her own father, three years earlier. He’d won that like he’d won all of his other challenges. She mourned her father’s death and personally couldn’t stand Roman, but she’d been forced to accept him as the pack’s new leader. That was the way of life for shifters. Her own mother hadn’t just accepted him; she’d accepted his offer of marriage.

“I bet they came to town today to make sure none of us come here. And I really wanted some new shoes.” Joy gazed longingly at the Such A Heel shop across the square. To get there, they’d have to pass right by Maddox’s pack, which would probably be a bad idea. “They have a sale.” Her lower lip jutted out.

“My stepfather will put a stop to this soon enough,” Katrina said, scowling.

“So Roman definitely didn’t say we’re not allowed to be here? Right?” Joy sounded anxious, which was understandable. Nobody wanted to be seen as disobeying their Alpha.

“I would have told you. He hasn’t said anything yet.”

Maybe coming in to town hadn’t been the best idea, but Maddox’s ridiculous order had sparked her rebellious nature – the nature that her mother continually despaired of, because she wanted Katrina to behave like a proper lady and a perfect potential mate for an Alpha.

Well, the hell with that. She’d been born with her daddy’s stubborn streak – the streak which had lead him to accept a death challenge that he knew he couldn’t win. Hm. Maybe that wasn’t the best example at a time like this.

“Screw it. I’m here to shop. The Killingworth pack didn’t even say what would happen if we came in to town. And we’re female. What would they possibly do to us?”

“I’m not sure I want to find out,” Joy said nervously. She looked across the street at Maddox. He was yelling at a coyote shifter. Elroy from the Brown pack. Elroy Brown was cringing submissively, and he ran over and picked up an empty beer can which he’d just tossed on the sidewalk, and then hurried over and tossed it into a garbage can. Maddox strolled over and cuffed the coyote on the head so hard it sent him reeling. He yelled something at Elroy, and pointed. Elroy turned and ran in the direction that Maddox had pointed, his shoulders hunched, his head hanging. If he’d been in coyote form his tail would have been tucked between his legs.

“What a jerk,” Katrina growled.

“I know, right?” Joy made a tsk-ing noise of disapproval. “I hate those Browns. They vandalized my friend’s car last month.”

“No! I mean Maddox! Of course!” Yeah, yeah, the Brown family were petty criminals and notorious douchebags, but right now she was royally pissed off at Maddox, so everything he did was by definition wrong.

“Speaking of his holy hotness, we should get out of here, before he sees us.” Joy opened her car door.

“Don’t call him hot,” Katrina grumbled. “I think that might be pack treason. And again, we’re girls. What’s the worst that could happen if he sees us?”

A sudden and ridiculous image flashed through her mind. It was an image of Maddox punishing her by throwing her over his knee, flipping up her skirt, and spanking her bare bottom, with his large hand smacking down on her bare flesh again and again. Why was her butt bare in this vision? Why was she squirming and moaning? She felt heat rising to her cheeks. Damn it, sometimes when she thought about Maddox the most ridiculous and random images popped in to her mind, and oddly enough, she was always missing some clothing in those images. And Maddox was doing things to her.

Over the years, she’d seen Maddox glance her way with a certain gleam in his eyes, but he’d never attempted to talk to her aside from a few brusque exchanges in high school. She suspected he looked at every female of mating age the same way.

“You can go if you want. I’m not going anywhere,” she said stubbornly.

“I’m headed back, then. What if Roman asks where you are?”

“Tell him,” Katrina shrugged. Because Roman was married to her mother, she got away with a lot, and she had to admit she tended to push it. She was never openly disrespectful to him, of course, but she pretty much did what she want and went where she wanted without asking permission. She was the only one who got away with it. Roman had clamped down on everyone in the pack after he’d taken over, wanting to know their whereabouts at all times. Half the pack lands were now off limits to everybody since he was putting up new buildings there.

He was definitely a control freak, and she knew not everybody in the pack was happy with his leadership. They could have chosen to leave the pack – new rules by the Council of Elders had made that much easier – but their only other local option was the Killingworth pack, and the rivalry between those two packs had gone back for generations. A few of their pack members had actually gone over to the Killingworth pack, which spoke to the level of their dissatisfaction, but most of them were just grumbling under their breath and sucking it up.

“Peace out,” Joy said. “I’m getting out while the getting’s good. See you when you get home.” She slid in to her car and drove off, leaving Katrina standing there.

She bit her lip. The defiant nature in her wanted to saunter past Maddox and his crew, and go shop wherever the hell she wanted. However, even she had to admit that issuing such a blatant challenge to a hotheaded bully like Maddox probably wasn’t a great idea.

Well, at least she could grab a cup of coffee and debate her next move. Maybe when she came out, the Killingworth pack would be gone.

Katrina felt a rising uneasiness as she walked in to the Beanbag, her favorite coffee shop. Everyone stopped talking and turned to stare at her. The waitresses, the customer, the clerk at the counter…

The hostility clouded the air like a fog. Katrina was a Sensitive, a mutation which, among other things, caused her to pick up on the strong emotions of those who were physically close to her. She hardly needed her psychic powers today, though – it was all right there in the lowered eyes and stiff backs of the shifters she was walking past.